‘Nothing Works’: Europe Must Stop Blaming Others for Its Own Crises

By Dr Ramzy Baroud

The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is not particularly perceived by the EU’s political elite or mainstream media as a rightwing ideologue or warmonger. But seen through a different, non-western prism, it is hard not to mistake him for one.

Borrell’s recent comments that “Europe is a garden” and that “the rest of the world is a jungle” were duly condemned as ‘racist’ by many politicians around the world, but mostly in the Global South. Borrell’s remarks, however, must also be viewed as an expression of superiority, not only of Borell personally, but of Europe’s ruling classes as a whole.

Particularly interesting about the EU top diplomat’s words are these inaccurate depictions of Europe and its relationship with the rest of the world: “We have built a garden”, “everything works” and “the jungle could invade the garden”.

Without delving too deep into what is obviously an entrenched superiority complex, Borell speaks as if an advocate of the so-called ‘Replacement Theory’, a racist notion advocated by the West’s – Europe especially – rightwing intellectuals, which sees refugees, migrants and non-Europeans as parasites aiming to destroy the continent’s supposedly perfect demographic, religious and social harmony.

If stretched further into a historical dimension, one also feels compelled to remind the EU leadership of the central role that European colonialism, economical exploitation, political meddling and outright military intervention have played in turning much of the world into a supposed ‘jungle’. Would Libya, for example, have been reduced to the status of a failed state if the West did not wage a major war starting in March 2011?

The imagined ‘jungle’ aside, Europe’s past and present reality strongly negates Borell’s ethnocentric view. Sadly, Europe is the birthplace of the most horrible pages of history, from colonialism and slavery to the nationalistic, fascist and nihilistic movements that defined most of the last three centuries.

Despite the desperate attempt to rewrite or ignore history in favor of a more amiable narrative focused on great splendors, technological advancement and civilizational triumph, Europe’s true nature continues to smolder underneath the ashes, ready to resurface whenever the geopolitical and socioeconomic factors take a wrong turn. The Syrian and Libyan refugee crisis, the Covid pandemic and, more recently, the Russia-Ukraine war are all examples of the proverbial wrong turn.

In fact, Borrell’s words, aimed to reassure Europe of its moral superiority are but a foolhardy effort meant to conceal one of the most dramatic crises that Europe has experienced in nearly a century. The impact of this crisis on every aspect of European life cannot be overstated.

In an editorial published last September on the European Environment Agency (EEA) website, Hans Bruyninckx described the “state of multiple crises” that characterizes the European continent at the moment. “It seems as if we have been living through one crisis after another — a pandemic, extreme heatwaves and drought due to climate change, inflation, war and an energy crisis,” he wrote.

Instead of taking responsibility for this impending catastrophe, Europe’s ruling elites choose a different, though predictable route: blame others, especially the inhabitants of the non-European ‘jungle’.

Naturally, ordinary people throughout Europe who are already experiencing this harrowing reality hardly feel reassured by Borrell’s proclamation that “everything works”.

The risk of the resurgence of the far-right movements in Europe is now a real possibility. This danger was relatively mitigated by the setback of the extremist ‘Alternative for Germany’ and the victory of the Social Democrats in last year’s elections. Germany, however, is not the exception, as the European far-right is now back, virtually everywhere, and with a vengeance.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party gained a record 41% of the total vote (over 13 million) in April. True, Emmanuel Macron managed to hold off the advance of Le Pen’s National Rally, but his coalition has lost its parliamentary majority, and his leadership has been significantly weakened. Currently, the country is rocked by massive rallies and strikes, all protesting the soaring prices and deepening inflation.

Sweden is another example of the determined rise of the far-right. A right-wing coalition, which won the general elections last September now dominates the country’s parliament. On October 17, it elected a new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, whose government was made possible because of the support of the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots and a harsh anti-immigration agenda. SD was crucial in determining the victory of the coalition and it is now suited to play the role of the kingmaker in critical decisions.

In Italy, too, the situation is dire. A future government is expected to bring together Giorgia Meloni – the leader of Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) – former right-wing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, and the extremist Matteo Salvini’s La Lega. Meloni’s party is rooted in the post-fascist tradition of the Italian Social Movement, which was formed in the aftermath of World War II by fascist politicians after their party was officially outlawed by the country’s progressive 1948 Constitution.

The shifting political grounds in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden have little to do with the ‘jungle’, and everything with the illusory European ‘garden.’ Europe’s extremism is a by-product of exclusively European historical experiences, ideologies and class struggles. Blaming Asians, Arabs or Africans for Europe’s “state of multiple crises” is not only self-deluding, indeed spiritless, but also obstructive to any healthy process of change.

Europe cannot fix its problems by blaming others, and the European ‘garden’, if it ever existed, is actually being ravaged by Europe’s own ruling elites – rich, detached and utterly dishonest.

(Romana Rubeo, an Italian journalist, contributed to this article.)

– Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

9 November 2022

Source: countercurrents.org

Israel’s Hard-Right Turn How Far Will Netanyahu Go?

By Palestine Updates

“The exact contours of the new government are not final, but one thing is certain: Israel has entered uncharted territory. The only question is just how far to the right Netanyahu is willing to go…In his fifth term in office, Netanyahu could change the face of the country permanently. The Religious Zionism Party has released sweeping plans to curtail Israel’s judicial branch and undermine any meaningful constraints on the government’s power. These plans follow a years-long right-wing campaign to delegitimize the judiciary, an effort that Netanyahu joined following investigations of his conduct that led to indictments on corruption charges in 2020. Religious Zionism’s legal plan calls to nullify one of the key crimes with which Netanyahu has been charged, although the party denies that it is trying to protect him personally. The plan also proposes establishing near-total political control over judicial appointments and a new law that would allow the Knesset to easily override a Supreme Court ruling striking down legislation that violates the rights provided in Israel’s Basic Laws, which function as the country’s bill of right. Such changes would remove the few obstacles that remain to legalizing West Bank settlements that even Israel considers unlawful and annexing Palestinian territory. They would also weaken civic opposition to government policy by limiting citizens’ access to the Supreme Court, which doubles as Israel’s High Court of Justice for claims against the state…Israel is about to enter an era defined by the tyranny of the right-wing majority in politics and the tyranny of the orthodox and ultra-Orthodox minority in society.”
Read more in Foreign Affairs

14 November 2022

Source: nakbaliberation.com

Palestinians fear for their children as Israel’s far right rises

By Palestine Updates

“In response to a spate of Palestinian attacks that began in the spring, Israeli forces have been carrying out near-nightly raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel’s government says it is targeting newly formed militias. Palestinian authorities have decried the crackdown as collective punishment, and say children are increasingly caught in the dragnet. Nearly 130 Palestinian minors were in prison on security grounds at the end of September, according to Israel Prison Service statistics. The annual total to date — including minors detained for at least several hours — no doubt is much higher. Seventy-three percent of Palestinian children in Israeli custody last year reported being subject to physical violence, an all-time high, according to Military Court Watch, a watchdog group based in the West Bank city of Ramallah…In the West Bank, meanwhile, 2022 is on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians since the United Nations began tracking fatalities in 2005. At least 28 Palestinians younger than 18 have been killed so far this year, compared with 17 in all of 2021, according to U.N. data. More than 800 minors have been injured. The United Nations voiced concerns last month that Israel is using excessive force against children. Rights groups say Israel routinely violates international law in its treatment of Palestinian minors in detention, including by physically and verbally abusing them and failing to inform them of their rights…Now, Ben Gvir is likely to become Israel’s next public security minister, in charge of the police, prisons and security around Jerusalem religious sites, which have long been flash points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has called for giving police and soldiers wider latitude to use live ammunition and shielding them from criminal prosecution for killing or injuring Palestinians.” Read full narrative in the Washington Post

14 November 2022

Source: nakbaliberation.com

What Is Missing from the Climate Debate

By Dr. Vandana Shiva

7 Nov 2022 – “The destabilisation of the Earth’s climate systems is the consequence of violating the ecological processes and cycles of the earth, violating the Rights of the Earth, Rights of Indigenous People, and the Rights of Future Generations.

Fossil fuels have driven how we grow our food and produce our clothing over the past century. Energy slaves have been used to displace the creative work of farmers who care for the land and craftspeople in creating beauty and culture.

A fossil-fuel-free food system is a health imperative for the planet and the human community.

The polluters are trying to use the crisis they have created, to make profits from pollution through tricks like “net-zero”, increase the violence against the planet with geoengineering, and continue the violence against the earth and our bodies through ultraprocessed lab food.

Our ecological duty is to stop the harm, and prevent the greenwashing to regenerate the Living Earth, her ecosystems, our Seed Freedom and Food Freedom through Earth Democracy.”

— Dr. Vandana Shiva

Climate Change is Really Ecological Collapse

Time is critically running out for climate action. In a year when oil and gas companies will have hit historic record high profits, with the sector set to close out the year at $4 trillion, unprecedented flooding in Pakistan, Puerto Rico and Nigeria, the world is no closer to reducing climate emissions, or remedying ecological destruction.

Many have now even begun to question the point of the yearly COP meetings, as according to the UNEP, even if current climate pledges are met in full, we would still see global heat rise above the 2.5C threshold, leading us into further unprecedented climate chaos. The Potsdam Institute is already reporting the rupturing of five critical planetary boundaries, and this year has seen an unprecedented rise in global emissions.

The climate emergency we are facing is part of several interlocking crises involving our health, our soils, ecosystems, our society and the biodiversity on the planet. It is a symptom of the broader ecological crisis being perpetuated by an extractivist and profit-driven system. In other words, the current climate chaos currently being experienced all over the world, is a symptom of a larger ecological collapse. The Earth’s climate is composed and intricately interconnected with many overlapping planetary systems and cycles.

It is not just the disruption of carbon cycles, but the disruption and rupture of many of the Earth’s cycles such as, the nitrogen cycle, water cycle, carbon cycle, air flow cycles and cycles of biodiverse life. Individual ecosystems have been altered to such an extent that it is now causing massive deregulation of Earth’s cycles. All of these cycles are interconnected and ensure the maintenance of ecosystems and hence, climate health.
We cannot talk about climate change without addressing industrial food systems.

The way we produce, consume, distribute food has a huge impact on the health of the planet, and hence climate. Food systems tie into all of the mentioned planetary cycles. So we cannot talk about climate change, without talking about the food system, as they are one of the main ways humans interact and affect Earth’s cycles.

Industrial agriculture and globalization have been one of the main reasons the Earth’s cycles have ruptured. Due to land use change, agrochemical pollution, monocultures, genetic ecocide, plastic contamination, fossil fuel use, long-distance transportation it is now one of the largest causes of planetary destruction. It has caused ecocide and biodiversity loss, soil desertification, erosion, and contamination. It has caused mass water pollution all throughout the water cycle, greenhouse gas emissions and a rupture or imbalance of the nitrogen, water, methane and carbon cycle. All of which means the disruption of the climate systems.

Together, these ecologically destructive practices account for 44% to 57% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), making the global food system one of the main culprits behind climate change and environmental degradation. For example, agribusiness’ continuous invasion into forests and other vital ecosystems, has made the industry responsible for 70% to 90% of global deforestation.

Today we are also witnessing the collapse of biodiversity, with the 6th mass extinction. According to a report by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Chatham House and Compassion in World Farming, “Food system impacts on biodiversity loss”, the industrial global food system is the primary driver of global biodiversity loss, threatening 86% of species now at risk of extinction. Although there have been repeated calls for action on this devastating fact, nothing has been done because the practices that have caused this ecocide have yet to be addressed.

The same is true for the destruction of soils. Due to agrochemicals such as artificial fertilizers and agrotoxins, the life of the soil has been destroyed. Artificial fertilizers and pesticides are proven to kill the diverse microbiota of the soil, causing a lack of ability to naturally convert nitrogen, and carbon. Soil with no life, also has no water holding capacity and no fertility to support animal or plant life. Soils lack of water holding capacity and lack of carbon, or organic matter, is one of the reasons mass floods, droughts, and forest fires are becoming more extreme. If the interconnection of these issues is not also addressed, these crises will only continue to get worse.
The Dangers of Reductionist Narratives

In another year of climate in-action, we are actually seeing a rallying behind the false solutions that just maintain business-as-usual, or even work to consolidate industrial models. Corporations are now interested in using the necessary urgency for climate policy to their advantage with a series of false, greenwashed solutions. The solutions proposed in response to the imminent climate crisis, are costly, unproven, and often dangerous technological fixes that are geared towards replacing the very natural processes they have been destroying.

They constitute an imposition of technological innovations such as artificially grown lab food, gene editing, carbon capture, carbon credits and the financialization of nature. But the real agenda behind these false solutions is the final consolidation of the industrial food system through a totally, digitally controlled agricultural supply chain, lab-made foods, and the financialization of the last natural frontieres through biodiversity and ecosystem services financial credits. It is the final push for food without farmers, and farming without the Earth.
Synthetic Fake Foods

In order to erase the last remaining small farmers, corporate-sponsored narratives are now pushing for the reduction of complex ecological collapse into dualistic narratives around plant versus animal, instead of addressing the larger crisis of how current industrial practices are destroying Earth’s ecosystems. In these false dichotomies animals are now being blamed instead of industrial systems as a whole, for the food system’s impact on climate.

The integral, complex, and interconnected husbandry of animals in many traditional cultures around the world is now being lumped in with industrial animal production, effectively erasing the importance of these traditional food and cultivation cultures. In these false climate narratives, animals have also been reduced to mere products for protein, that can simply be replaced by more efficient technologies such as lab-engineered products.

This reduction effectively ignores the multidimensional and essential roles animals can fill in diverse agroecosystems. It thus completely ignores our relationship with nature and creates a rift separating humans from nature and food from life. While it is a fact that all industrial production systems, whether for plants or animals, are heavily responsible for ecological collapse, agroecological and small scale systems are not one in the same.

Proponents of fake food claim that it provides a real solution to climate change, and environmental degradation, due to it not needing intensive water and land resources, while also addressing concerns over animal greenhouse gas emissions and animal welfare in the admonished meat industry. However, the true purpose could not be further away from ending climate change or world hunger.

Instead these ultra-processed ‘plant-based’ foods that rely on dangerous technical innovations such as synthetic biology, CRISPR-Cas9 gene manipulation, and new GMOs. These techniques involve reconfiguring the genetic material of an organism to create something entirely new, and not found in nature. Some companies are also investing in cell-based meat, grown from real animal cells. The result is a whole range of lab-grown fake meats, eggs, cheese, and dairy products swarming the market to ultimately replace animal products and alter modern diets.

These technologies represent a new wave of the patenting logic that was first applied to seeds during the Green Revolution. By being able to now fully control the entire food supply chain, from the genetic manipulation of these fake foods, to their lab production, to the distribution chains already controlled by big agribusiness. The Earth and small farmers will no longer be needed, with the exception of the mass monocultures already controlled by agribusiness.
“Nature-based solutions”

Nature-based solutions are a broad concept increasingly used by corporations and world leaders to promote a range of carbon offsetting schemes for climate and biodiversity protection, that are firmly grounded in discredited market mechanisms and corporate greenwashing. It is a concept that seeks to instrumentalize nature, by using the transactional logics of market mechanisms, all while externalizing ecological destruction and perpetuating neocolonial dispossession of indigenous populations, peasants, and many other communities through carbon offset projects. All in order to continue business as usual, without fundamentally addressing the root causes of the climate crisis. If left unchecked, these tactics will continue to exacerbate the crises by bolstering inequality and corporate power. “Net-zero” and “carbon capture” are two solutions advocated by multinationals and billionaires that fall under this umbrella.

In order to push for these false solutions we have seen a reduction of whole ecological collapse to just the issue of carbon emissions. In both international and everyday discourse, carbon emissions are seen as the sole vector for climate change. This allows for the idea of ‘Net-Zero’ to seem like a viable solution.

In essence, the idea behind ‘Net-Zero’ is to balance out greenhouse gas emissions with removals of greenhouse gasses until we are left with zero. In order to reach zero, the amount of CO2 added cannot be more than the amount taken away from the atmosphere over the same period of time. This equation is problematic in its own right because it implies that companies can achieve net-zero by investing in carbon offsetting schemes.

However, net-zero will not lead to real reductions in carbon emissions for several reasons. First, net-zero focuses only on emissions flows and as such fails to consider the cumulative nature of carbon. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years, unless it is stored elsewhere, meaning that past, present, and future emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. Second, net-zero is based on a lie because offsets do not actually reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2. CO2 levels will thus continue to rise at an alarming pace if they are not effectively sequestered by the soils and oceans.

This means that in order to understand how to slow down, adapt and heal climate chaos, it is fundamental to understand how each of the planetary cycles is being ruptured and thrown off balance, and not just attempt to ‘solve’ carbon emissions. If we continue to reduce the climate narrative to simply an issue of reducing carbon emissions to ‘net zero’, without understanding and addressing the other aspects of greater ecological collapse, climate chaos will only continue.

In reality, ‘net-zero’ is nothing more than an elaborate corporate greenwashing scheme that grants polluting companies the right to expand their activities and continue polluting as usual, as long as they can claim to sequester carbon elsewhere. By offsetting their emissions through planting monoculture tree plantations, companies will thus continue to provoke land grabbing and displacement of communities, human rights violations, water scarcity, and further biodiversity loss.

The solutions exposed above are a product of a mechanistic worldview that sees nature as dead and inert matter that can be engineered and manipulated to fit our needs and bolster corporate greed. By placing technological innovations on a pedestal and branding them as the only possible option for solving the world’s many crises, the big corporations are setting their own agenda to further cement their control, while wasting precious time. In so doing, they are obscuring the real root causes of the crises we face and bringing us down a dangerous path of further unprecedented crisis. This reluctance to address systemic issues is by no means accidental, rather, it is a deliberate attempt by giant multinationals to maintain their control by perpetuating the same power structures that created our current crises, without taking responsibility for the large-scale pollution and environmental degradation they have caused.
The Answers are right in front of us

The ways to rebalance, regenerate and heal our ecosystems are already known to us. The ways to adapt are also in our hands, and in the support we give to our local food communities who aim to work alongside nature to restore its biodiversity and rejuvenate its natural cycles.

Climate resilience and adaptation can only be developed by local communities actively healing and working from the disruptions present in their local ecosystems. This means agroecological systems must also be developed by local communities to regenerate local ecosystems, and foster biodiversity.

Biodiversity of plants, animals, and microorganisms are key to providing the stability and balance necessary to create resilient agroecosystems in the face of climate change. The same food and agriculture systems that conserve and rejuvenate biodiversity also mitigate climate change and contribute to health and increased livelihoods through regenerative, living economies. Healthy agro-ecosystems come from and work with, healthy greater ecosystems, and vice-versa. Healthy agroecosystems also ensure the maintenance of a healthy greater ecosystem by working in tandem and regenerating Earth’s cycles on a micro scale.

Increasing genetic diversity, as well as crop diversification, is central to the agroecological approach to farming to reduce vulnerability to floods, droughts, and other unpredictable weather extremes. This is why seeds and the capacity to save, breed and preserve through planting must remain in the hands of small farmers. Only then can crop varieties adapt to our changing planet. These communities are at the forefront of climate and ecological chaos, and they are also the ones building resilience to it.

Climate policies hence, must address not just greenhouse gas emissions, but also the full scope of harmful practices perpetrated by the industrial agriculture system, and their false solutions. As well as actively support the regenerative and adaptive work being done by local food communities at the forefront of climate chaos. A transition to organic, regenerative farming should be the top priority, to move away from the industrial food system and embrace a different vision of a regenerative food system.

Navdanya and the Navdanya movement were created by Dr. Vandana Shiva 30 years ago in India to defend Seed and Food sovereignty and small farmers around the world.

14 November 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

Germany: Is the Chancellor Betraying the US Emperor? The New Germany-China “Connection”

By Peter Koenig

9 Nov 2022 – Before both, Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, and unelected President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, two Germans, were chosen to economically destroy Europe, beginning with Germany, they were indeed vetted for months by the neoliberal hegemons in Washington and the Pentagon / NATO.

When eventually they “qualified”, they enhanced the media lie-machine, betraying and lying to the people in Europe about energy shortages, food shortages, astronomical inflation – and fear-mongering about the multiple disastrous consequences of these calamities.

They imposed stern energy savings program under threat of severe punishment, including fines and imprisonment. This, despite the fact that German gas tanks are full to about 94 %, the most they have ever been in the last 5 years. The energy situation in other EU countries is similar – it would appear, not at all disastrous.

Yet, the dumbfounded European public went along – with fear and anxiety.

But the German industrialists did not.

They didn’t and still don’t agree with the German – and by association, the European industry-destruction, also called deindustrialization policy. They had in the past already heavily lobbied with Madame Merkel, making semi-secret deals with Russia.

German industrialists know that the divide-and-conquer policy is being imposed by Washington – to reach eventually a unipolar world, which is only possible with a fractured Europe, not with a “United Europe”. The US GDP is estimated to reach in 2022 about US$ 20 trillion, as compared to a fast-catching-up European GDP of some US$ 17 trillion (2022 est.).

German business leaders didn’t go along with official German economic policy. Destroying their country economically is going too far. Knowing that Europe in the long-run needs Russia and with an even longer vision, also China, German industrialists made semi-clandestine pacts with Moscow.

German Chancellor Scholz’s one-day visit to Beijing, meeting with President Xi Jinping, consisted of a large delegation – several dozen representatives of German key businesses and industries. To the delight of Washington, Scholz told the world: “The world needs China.”

It’s now European economic leaders who call the shots; Olaf Scholz has little choice. The WEF, Washington and Brussels appear to be sidelined.

Germany, the people, is very much interested in becoming part of the Xi-Initiative, the Belt and Road. The 25% concession in the port of Hamburg to the Chinese company, Cosco, was a first step – a sign that Germany was ready to sign up to the New Silk Road, the same as did Italy and Greece with Piraeus, already years before.

The original proposal was a Chinese participation of about 35% to 40%. Political pressure from Brussels and from within Germany reduced the Chinese share to 25%. The reduction is unimportant. What counts is Germany’s “entry” into the BRI.

Washington, Brussels and NATO may not like it. But what can they do, if the EU-lead country, Germany, decides to resist the planned collapse?

Europe Signs US$ 17 billion Trade Deal with China

In agreement with France and other EU countries, Olaf Scholz entered into a Trade Deal with China for the equivalent of about US$ 17 billion. See video below.

Europe signs 17 billion orders with China

Finally, prompted by German industrialists, Europe may see the US for what it is. Officials in the Biden Administration are attempting to raise issues about the Sino-German trade, claiming that China wants to separate Europe from the US. Talks about “sanctions” are already emerging. But sanctioning Europe and China — where would it leave the US? Alone and isolated.

Therefore, Washington is thinking twice before applying their usual weapon of mass destruction, sanctioning “misbehaving” partners.

Chancellor Scholz apparently made it clear that the visit to China is the right decision. Washington, NATO and Brussels won’t be able to decouple Germany from China. No way should the United States be able to intervene and interfere.

At the same time, preceding the Scholz visit to Beijing, Germans revealed fears for financial survival in a recent poll (RT, 7 Nov 2022). 

Half of the respondents are afraid, they might not have enough money to financially survive the coming winter, according to the BILD journal of last Sunday (6 November). Most people believe the government’s relief measures to alleviate the industrial fallout of the ongoing energy crunch are not enough.

According to the INSA polling agency (Institute for New Social Answers), only about a third of respondents believe that government measures will help them get by. Another third admitted they would not be able to afford any Christmas presents for their loved ones this season. They also believe that Scholz is not up to the task facing him in the coming years.

Chancellor Scholz’s approval rating is with 25% the lowest of any German Chancellor duirng the past 50 years. His trip to China may improve his popularity.

This negative reaction was triggered by fear that Germany may not be able to handle the announced “energy crisis”. This is clearly a fear reaction by people unaware of the hoax behind the crisis; not knowing that Germany’s, like most European countries’ energy reserves, are at their highest for years, and before Chancellor Scholz’s trip to Beijing.

Their fear was also driven by inflation and the ever-increasing cost of energy, combined with worries about a potentially “chilling winter” across Europe.

Will the revelation of the new German-China connection ease the tension?

Time will tell. Of special importance will also be the response of other EU countries. Will they return to sovereign nation states – moving away from the imposed globalist concept?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist who worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water.

14 November 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

Urging Peace with Russia, Top US General Challenges DC’s Proxy War

By Aaron Maté

A series of leaks, including a call for diplomacy from Gen. Mark Milley, show that some US officials are ready for a settlement in Ukraine.

12 Nov 2022 – When the Congressional Progressive Caucus was bullied into withdrawing a letter urging diplomacy with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, everyone from neoconservative pundits to Sen. Bernie Sanders came forward to scold them. But now the same call is coming from a source that cannot be so easily ignored, and intimidated.

“A disagreement has emerged at the highest levels of the United States government over whether to press Ukraine to seek a diplomatic end to its war with Russia,” the New York Times reports. Leading the call for talks with Moscow is Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to US officials, Milley “has made the case in internal meetings that the Ukrainians have achieved about as much as they could reasonably expect on the battlefield before winter sets in and so they should try to cement their gains at the bargaining table.”

The top US general has made no secret of his stance. “When there’s an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it,” Milley declared in a public speech this week.

Milley’s view “is not shared” by President Biden or his National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, the Times claims. Nor by the top US diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken. As one US official explained to CNN, “the State Department is on the opposite side of the pole,” leading to “a unique situation where military brass are more fervently pushing for diplomacy than US diplomats.”

While US “diplomats” oppose diplomacy, White House officials would not be disclosing that Milley, the nation’s highest military officer, is challenging their stance if he were alone. Indeed, the Milley revelation is only the latest in a series of leaks suggesting that, despite the uproar over the progressives’ pro-diplomacy letter, at least some close to the president agree with its message.

Aaron Maté is a journalist with The Grayzone, where he hosts “Pushback.” He is also a contributor to Real Clear Investigations and the temporary co-host of “Useful Idiots.” In 2019, Maté won the Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media for Russiagate coverage in The Nation.

14 November 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

What to Expect from Netanyahu & Religious Zionism

By Richard Falk

12 Nov 2022 – This is a slightly modified version of my 6 Nov 2022 responses to questions by Iranian journalist Javad Heirian-Nia.

A Preliminary Appraisal

1. Israel’s Knesset elections ended with the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Many analysts believe that the cabinet headed by him will be the most right-wing cabinet in Israel. What is the effect of Netanyahu’s victory on the region?

The anti-Netanyahu political parties in Israel were united around a platform that contained few substantive changes from the policies expected to be pursued by the Netanyahu coalition. Their faulty focus was devoted almost exclusively to stopping Netanyahu from having an incredible fifth opportunity to become the next Prime Minister of the country.

It is now generally agreed that the election results are  significant beyond this failure to block Netanyahu’s return to governing authority. What has emerged as potentially important is that Likud’s winning coalition depended on teaming up with the openly racist and exclusionary Religious Zionism Party, a political alliance of two far right religious parties that put the completion of the settler colonialist project at the top of their explicit agenda, although phrased in the language of Zionism and their understanding of ‘the promised land’ and what is meant to be truly a state of the Jewish people. It also reflected the growing strength of religious Zionism as compared to secular Zionism, and thus poses serious issues about the future character of Israel as a sovereign state.

The alliance of these two extremist ultra-religious parties gained 14 seats in the Knesset, the third most, and emerged not only as a strategic partner in Netanyahu’s triumphal return to power, but seems likely to provide the indispensable political glue needed by Netanyahu to prevent a crash landing of his tenuous coalition in the months and years ahead. This vulnerability will make Netanyahu, a master tactician and opportunist, pragmatically responsive to the extremist priorities of these ultra-Zionist allies. If current expectations are correct the first sign forming a cabinet that includes accords important ministerial portfolios to the leaders of the two political groupings making up the Religious Zionism (RZ) Party, such notoriously Israeli political personalities as Itamar Ben Gvir, and possibly even Bezabel Smotrich.

I think the regional impacts of these political developments will be a gradual downgrading of overt normalization diplomacy by the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Sudan, and even Morocco initiated during the Trump presidency under the banner of the Abraham Accords, continued by Biden within a less flamboyant framing as ‘normalization and peace diplomacy.’ These arrangements were significant legitimizing victories for Israel within the Arab world, the result of bargains by the highly pragmatic Arab governing elites that had long dealt with Israel on economic and security matters of joint interests covertly. Such reactions against formalizing normalization will undoubtedly take more seriously the sentiments of the outraged public opinion of Arab masses who remain overwhelmingly supportive of the Palestinian struggle for basic rights, and regard their national elites as betraying the just cause of fellow Arabs and Muslims. I expect that this Israeli election, more than previous ones, will give rise to a new wave of pro-Palestinian activism in the Islamic World, but also at the UN, and perhaps more widely, including in the Global South.

But Netanyahu’s leadership is also extremely worrisome on other grounds, especially his obsessive hostility to Iran that centers on exaggerated concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Such a belligerent approach to Iran is likely to produce Israeli militarist provocations that will increase risks of a major regional war. We should recall that Netanyahu, then also Prime Minister, was fiercely opposed to the Obama approach that resulted in the 2015 Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA). Netanyahu also exhibits a seeming willingness to take unilateral military action against Iran with the goal of disrupting if not destroying its alleged ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons once and for all, as well as supporting initiatives aimed at destabilizing the government in Tehran.

At the same time, we can expect Netanyahu to ignore, if not renounce, the widely supported recent UN General Assembly urging Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal and abide by the inspection provisions of the Nonproliferation Treaty regime. The Resolution (A/C.1/77/L.2) adopted on October 30, 2022 by a vote of 152-5 (24 abstentions) in the First Committee of the General Assembly; of the five were unsurprisingly U.S., Israel, and Canada, joined by Palau and Micronesia. Such a resolution introduces a semblance of balance at the global level, at least, with respect to negotiations pertaining to Iran, which in the public aspects of the Vienna negotiations designed to revive the 2015 JCPOA have so far ignored the relevance of Israel’s nuclear weapons capability, which both undermines regional proliferation constraints and disregards denuclearizing imperatives.

2. Netanyahu won while the Arab League meeting emphasized the Arab peace plan. What actions may Netanyahu take to undermine the Arab peace plan?

Netanyahu’s primary concerns in the period ahead will be to gain acceptance within Israel of his rightest leadership that will probably emphasize the threats posed by Iran to Israeli security, or unity through fear. Even prior to these Israeli elections there were growing indications of discontent with the normalization diplomacy initiated by Trump and continued by Biden. For instance, the leading Israeli liberal Zionist print media platform, Haaretz editorialized: “The Israeli election dealt a grievous blow to Judaism.” In effect, Jews elected a leadership that was programmed to push this already expansionist Zionist political entity in the direction of openly embracing and strengthening ethno-nationalist values and policies, which because of Palestinian demographic presence and continuing resistance will exert strong societal pressures to introduce new ugly episodes of ethnic cleansing combined with territorial expansionism particularly in the form of futher annexationist encroachments in the occupied West Bank.

Even without the problem of a coalition dependent on the RZ, Netanyahu and the Likud Party have not the slightest intention of lending credibility to any Arab proposal for a negotiated peace, and especially one that revives the 2002 Plan put forward by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Israel public opinion seems firmly committed to the idea that there is no longer any security need to offer, even as was the case earlier, but even if only for the sake of public relations, the Palestinians national sovereignty or a meaningful form of statehood. The whole spectrum of opinion in the new Knesset lineup is to secure Jewish supremacy quickly as much of ‘the promised land’ as possible, while the world is distracted by Ukraine, COVID, and climate change. Concretely this means accelerated settlement expansion in the West Bank, punitive occupation in Gaza, and Israeli governance and further Judaization of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. This entails increasing pressures on Palestinians by way of terminating tenuous residence rights, raising pressures to live elsewhere, preferably outside of Israel. For almost a decade it has become clear to anyone with eyes that wanted to see the realities on the ground that Israel had abandoned all pretenses nurtured by the Oslo Diplomacy to bring peace through negotiations of the parties prepared to compromise, and instead chose to rely on an imposed ‘peace’ sustained by what is now widely understood to be the Israeli apartheid state.

3. Netanyahu’s victory comes while the democratic government is at work in America and insists on the two-state solution. What will be the relationship between Israel and the US considering Netanyahu’s rise to power?

Contrary to the wording of your questions there is no U.S. ‘insistence’ on the two-state solution, only an empty rhetorical posture belied by the language of ‘strategic partnership’ highlighted in the Biden-Lapid Jerusalem Declaration of last July. If Netanyahu is openly collaborating with and dependent on religious extremists, his new indispensable allies, it will make Washington Democrats and liberal Zionists nervous and uncomfortable, gradually producing some lowering of public enthusiasm for Israel. Even this happens it will be without foreseeable policy consequences. It seems inconceivable at this point that there will be a groundswell of opposition in the U.S. calling for an abandonment of the bilateral partnership on regional security issues, including the annual $3.8 billion U.S. economic assistance given to Israel or American continuing efforts at the UN and elsewhere to shield Israeli policies and practices when it comes to  dealing with Palestinian resistance or grievances, compliance with international law, and even with its special status as a known but still undeclared nuclear weapons state. Since the outcome of the 1967 War Israel has been valued as a vital strategic asset by the U.S. Government, which is societally reinforce by the strong pro-Israeli influence wielded by such powerful domestic grouping as the AIPAC lobbying organization and Christian evangelists.

4. Considering Netanyahu’s serious opposition to the JCPOA, how do you see the prospect of reviving the JCPOA?

I think it highly unlikely that JCPOA will be revived. The U.S. might be prepared to reach agreement with Iran absent Netanyahu’s record of opposition that goes back to its origins during the Obama presidency. Biden has strongly indicated that the domestic political costs are too high to break openly with Israel on such a crucial security issue. The power struggle for political control of the United States is at a critical phase and no mainstream liberal leader, such as Biden, is remotely likely to weaken Jewish support by openly alienating Netanyahu. Besides, even before the Israeli elections, Israeli back-channel pressures were influencing the Biden presidency to insist on unacceptable concessions from Iran. Given the background of Trump’s 2018 withdrawal and repudiation of JCPOA, coupled with the ramping up of sanctions despite Iran’s internationally verified compliance with the agreement, the U.S. from the outset approached negotiations arrogantly. If seeking agreement and hoping for normalization, the U.S. should been prepared to offer apologies and an incremental removal of sanctions rather than put forward additional conditions that needed to be satisfied before it would rejoin JCPOA. The Trump/Biden sanctions have brought prolonged economic hardship to the people of Iran in recent years, and it undoubtedly colored the Iranian approach even if it seemed not to matter to the U.S.

5. Netanyahu is Putin’s friend, and the relations between Israel and Russia are bad after the war in Ukraine. It seems that Netanyahu has to choose between America and Russia. What is your assessment?

I think there is little doubt that if such an existential choice ever were to confront Netanyahu, he would have not have a moment’s hesitation about choosing America. It is not only the years of closeness, but the U.S. is the more formidable geopolitical actor in the Middle East and the world than Russia, and massively helps Israel militarily, ideologically, and diplomatically. Besides, the Jewish presence in the United States has great leverage over foreign policy, and although somewhat less supportive of Israeli behavior than in the past, continues to regard Israel’s security and wellbeing as an unconditional commitment, ignoring and defying the apartheid consensus that has emerged in the last five years, by shamelessly continuing to include Israel in the ranks of countries governed as ‘democracies.’

Of course, Netanyahu would like to maintain friendship with both Russia and the United States if this can be managed. The Ukraine War, should it be further prolonged, might induce Netanyahu to side more openly with the U.S./NATO, especially in light of the difficulties arising from including the religious extremists in his governing process with their undeniable hostility to a two-state solution. Their priority is to move toward ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to complete the ultra-Zionist project of settler colonialism, which either requires the elimination of the Palestinians from Israel altogether or at minimum their complete marginalization through crushing Palestinian resistance morale. How Netanyahu handles this open departure from Washington’s two-state mantra will give hints as to his approach to other issues where pressure arises if Israel rejects the American effort to adopt a posture, however insincere, that does not explicitly reject basic Palestinian objectives. We must wait and see how this likely political drama unfolds.

Netanyahu has early tried to convey an impression that he is not captive of the RZ by indicating his continuing support for LGBTQ freedoms and rights. Whether this is a true demonstration of Netanyahu’s political independence or a symbolic marginal gesture that is to be soon offset by an unpopular implementation of the radical policy views of RZ. It is this cloud of uncertainty that hangs over what this renewed Netanyahu/Likud governance of Israel will mean for regional politics, the Palestinian people, and Israel’s standing in the world.

Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, Chair of Global Law, Faculty of Law, at Queen Mary University London,  Research Associate the Orfalea Center of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Fellow of the Tellus Institute.

14 November 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

UN Expert Calls for Lifting Unilateral Sanctions ‘Suffocating’ Syrian People

By UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

10 Nov 2022 – UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights Alena Douhan today urged sanctioning States to lift unilateral sanctions against Syria, warning that they were perpetuating and exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by the Syrian people since 2011.

“I am struck by the pervasiveness of the human rights and humanitarian impact of the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria and the total economic and financial isolation of a country whose people are struggling to rebuild a life with dignity, following the decade-long war,” Douhan said.

In a statement following her 12-day visit to Syria, the Special Rapporteur presented detailed information about the catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.

Douhan said 90 per cent of Syria’s population was currently living below the poverty line, with limited access to food, water, electricity, shelter, cooking and heating fuel, transportation and healthcare and warned that the country was facing a massive brain-drain due to growing economic hardship.

“With more than half of the vital infrastructure either completely destroyed or severely damaged, the imposition of unilateral sanctions on key economic sectors, including oil, gas, electricity, trade, construction and engineering have quashed national income, and undermine efforts towards economic recovery and reconstruction.

The expert said blocking of payments and refusal of deliveries by foreign producers and banks, coupled with sanctions-induced limited foreign currency reserves have caused serious shortages in medicines and specialised medical equipment, particularly for chronic and rare diseases. She warned that rehabilitation and development of water distribution networks for drinking and irrigation had stalled due to the unavailability of equipment and spare parts, creating serious public health and food security implications.

“In the current dramatic and still-deteriorating humanitarian situation as 12 million Syrians grapple with food insecurity, I urge the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely harm human rights and prevent any efforts for early recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction,” Douhan said.

“No reference to good objectives of unilateral sanctions justifies the violation of fundamental human rights. The international community has an obligation of solidarity and assistance to the Syrian people.”

The Special Rapporteur also dealt with other issues showcasing the multifaceted negative impact of sanctions, including international cooperation in the areas of science, arts, sports, preservation of national cultural heritage and restitution of cultural artifacts, access to new technologies, cyberspace and online information platforms, criminality and regional/international security, as well as the issue of frozen foreign assets of Syrian financial institutions and other entities.

“I urge the international community and the sanctioning states in particular, to pay heed to the devastating effects of sanctions and to take prompt and concrete steps to address over-compliance by businesses and banks in accordance with international human right law,” she said.

“In the words of one of my interlocutors, echoing numerous others: ‘I saw much suffering, but now I see the hope die,’” Douhan said.

During her visit the UN expert met representatives from national and local government institutions, non-governmental organisations, associations, humanitarian actors, businesses, UN entities, academia, religious leaders and faith-based organisations, as well as the diplomatic community. In addition to the capital Damascus, she also visited Homs city, rural Homs, and rural Damascus.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report to the Human Rights Council in September 2023.

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Ms Alena Douhan (Belarus) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the Human Rights Council in March 2020. Ms. Douhan has extensive experience in the fields of international law and human rights as, a professor of international law at the Belarusian State University (Minsk), a visiting Professor at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed conflict, (Bochum, Germany) and the Director of the Peace Research Centre (Minsk). She received her PhD at the Belarusian State University in 2005 and obtained Dr. hab. in International Law and European Law in 2015 (Belarus).

Ms. Douhan’s academic and research interests are in the fields of international law, sanctions and human rights law, international security law, law of international organizations, international dispute settlement, and international environmental law.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

14 November 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

COP 27 Opens: Past Eight Years Were The Eight Hottest Ever, Says WMO

By Countercurrents Collective

The past eight years were the eight hottest ever recorded, says a new UN report.

The report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) indicates: The world is now deep into the climate crisis.

Earth has warmed more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, with roughly half of that increase occurring in the past 30 years, the report said.

Surface water in the ocean — which soaks up more than 90 percent of accumulated heat from human carbon emissions — hit record high temperatures in 2021, warming especially fast during the past 20 years.

The WMO report — Provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 (https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=11359) — said: Internationally agreed 1.5C limit for global heating is now “barely within reach.”

The report sets out how record high greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are driving sea level and ice melting to new highs and supercharging extreme weather from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.

Sea level rise, glacier melt, torrential rains, heat waves — and the deadly disasters they cause — have all accelerated, the WMO said in its report as the COP27 UN Climate Summit opened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Nearly 200 nations gathered in Egypt have set their sights on holding the rise in temperatures to 1.5C, a goal some scientists believe is now beyond reach.

The UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has warned that “our planet is on course to reach tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible”.

The report said:

  • Marine heat waves were on the rise, with devastating consequences for coral reefs and the half-billion people who depend on them for food and livelihoods.
  • Overall, 55 percent of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2022.
  • Driven by melting ice sheets and glaciers, the pace of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years, threatening tens of millions in low-lying coastal areas.
  • A two-month heatwave in South Asia in March and April bearing the unmistakable fingerprint of man-made warming was followed by floods in Pakistan that left a third of the country under water. At least 1,700 people died, and eight million were displaced.

The WMO estimates that the global average temperature in 2022 will be about 1.15C above the pre-industrial average (1850-1900), meaning every year since 2016 has been one of the warmest on record.

The WMO report said:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are at record levels in the atmosphereas emissions continue. The annual increase in methane, a potent greenhouse gas, was the highest on record.
  • The oceans are hotter than ever.
  • Records for glacier melting in the Alps were shattered in 2022, with an average of 13ft (4 metres) in height lost.
  • Rain – not snow– was recorded on the 3,200m-high summit of the Greenland ice sheet for the first time.
  • The Antarctic sea-ice area fell to its lowest level on record, almost 1m km2below the long-term average.
  • A series of cyclones that battered southern Africa, whichhit Madagascar hardest with torrential rain.
  • Exceptional heatwaves and droughts in the northern hemisphere, with China enduring its longest heatwaveon record, the UK passing 40C for the first time, and European rivers including the Rhine, Loire and Danube falling to critically low levels.
  • Hurricane Ian wreaking extensive damage and loss of life in Cuba and Florida.
  • In East Africa, rainfall has been below average in four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years, with 2022 set to deepen the drought.
  • With the longest and most intense heatwave on record, China saw the second-driest summer.
  • Falling water levels disrupted or threatened commercial river traffic along China’s Yangtze, the Mississippi in the U.S. and several major inland waterways in Europe, which also suffered repeated bouts of sweltering heat.
  • Switzerland has lost more than a third of its glacier volume since 2001.

“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts,” said the WMO secretary-general, Prof Petteri Taalas. “We have such high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5C [target] of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach. It’s already too late for many glaciers [and] sea level rise is a long-term and major threat to many millions of coastal dwellers and low-lying states.”

António Guterres said ahead of COP 27: “Emissions are still growing at record levels. That means our planet is on course for reaching tipping point that will make climate chaos irreversible. We need to move from tipping points to turning points for hope.”

A series of recent reports signaled how near the planet is to climate catastrophe, with “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and the current level of action set to see no fall in emissions and global temperature rise by a devastating 2.5C.

Rising global heating is making extreme weather more severe and more frequent around the world. The WMO report highlighted the drought in east Africa, where rainfall has been below average for four consecutive seasons, the longest in 40 years. About 19 million people are now suffering a food crisis.

“All too often, those least responsible for climate change suffer most, but even well-prepared societies this year have been ravaged by extremes,” said Prof Taalas.

Highlights of the report:

  • Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2021. The annual increase in methane concentration was the highest on record. Real time data from specific locations show levels of the three gases continued to increase in 2022.
  • Global mean temperature in 2022 is currently estimated to be 1.15 ± 0.13 °C above the 1850-1900 average. The eight years 2015 to 2022 are likely to be the eight warmest years on record, with 2022 most likely to be 5th or 6th warmest.
  • La Niña conditions have continued with short interruptions since late 2020 and are expected to continue through late 2022. This would mark the third consecutive year of La Niña. Such a triple-dip La Niña is unusual and has kept global temperature low for the second year in a row.
  • Sea level continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high. Since January 2020, global mean sea level has risen by nearly 10mm, approximately 10% of the overall rise in sea level since satellite measurements began in 1993.
  • A low winter snowpack in 2021/22 combined with an exceptionally warm summer in Europe led to record glacier mass losses in Switzerland with 6% of the glacier ice volume lost between 2021 and 2022. Between 2001 and 2022 the volume of glacier ice in Switzerland decreased from 77 km3 to 49 km3, a decline of more than a third.
  • In east Africa, rainfall has been below average in four consecutive wet seasons, the longest sequence in 40 years with early indications that the current season could also be drier than average. Across the region, under the effects of the drought and other shocks, an estimated 18.4 to 19.3 million people have faced food Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity before June 2022.
  • Record breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. At least 33 million people affected by the flood.
  • Record breaking heatwaves affected China and Europe during the summer coupled with exceptionally dry conditions in places.
  • The southern Africa region has been battered by a series of cyclones over two months, leading to a surge in the need for protection and shelter for hundreds of thousands of affected persons.

The State of the Global Climate in 2022 is produced on an annual basis, complementing the most recent long assessment cycle provided by the sixth IPCC Assessment Report. This is the provisional version; the full and final report is expected to be published in March 2023. The report provides an authoritative voice on the current state of the climate using key climate indicators and reporting on extreme events and their impacts. Collecting and analyzing data from these variables takes time, where 2022 data is not yet available, figures from 2021 are provided.

7 November 2022

Source: countercurrents.org

Chasing a Mirage: How Israel Arab Parties Validate Israeli Apartheid

By Dr Ramzy Baroud

Regardless of the outcome of the latest Israeli elections, Arab parties will not reap meaningful political benefits, even if they collectively achieve their highest representation ever. The reason is not about the parties themselves, but in Israel’s skewed political system which is predicated on racism and marginalization of non-Jews.

Israel was established on a problematic premise of being a homeland of all Jews, everywhere – not of Palestine’s own native inhabitants – and on a bloody foundation, that of the Nakba and the destruction of historic Palestine and the expulsion of its people.

Such beginnings were hardly conducive to the establishment of a real democracy, perfect or blemished. Not only did Israel’s discriminatory attitude persist throughout the years, it actually worsened, especially as the Palestinian Arab population rose disproportionally compared to the Jewish population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The unfortunate reality is that some Arab parties have participated in Israeli elections since 1949, some independently and others under the ruling Mapei party umbrella. They did so despite Arab communities in Israel being ruled by a military government (1951-1966) and practically governed, until this day, by the unlawful ‘Defense (Emergency Regulations)’. This participation has constantly been touted by Israel and its supporters as proof of the state’s democratic nature.

This claim alone has served as the backbone of Israeli hasbara throughout the decades. Though often unwittingly, Arab political parties in Israel have provided the fodder for such propaganda, making it difficult for Palestinians to argue that the Israeli political system is fundamentally flawed and racist.

Palestinian citizens have always debated among themselves about the pros and cons of taking part in Israeli elections. Some understood that their participation validates the Zionist ideology and Israeli apartheid, while others argued that refraining from participating in the political process denies Palestinians the opportunity to change the system from within.

The latter argument has lost much of its merit, as Israel sank deeper into apartheid, while social, political and legal conditions for Palestinians worsened. The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) reports on dozens of discriminatory laws in Israel that exclusively target Arab communities. Additionally, in a report published in February, Amnesty International describes thoroughly how the “representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the decision making process … has been restricted and undermined by an array of Israeli laws and policies.”

This reality has existed for decades, long before July 19, 2018, when the Israeli parliament approved the so-called Jewish Nation-State Basic Law. The Law was the most glaring example of political and legal racism, which made Israel a full-fledged apartheid regime.

The Law was also the most articulate proclamation of Jewish supremacy over Palestinians in all aspects of life, including the right to self-determination.

Those who have argued that Arab participation in Israeli politics served a purpose in the past should have done more than collectively denounce the Nation-State law, by resigning en masse, effective immediately. They should have taken advantage of the international uproar to convert their struggle from a parliamentary to a popular grassroots one.

Alas, they have not. They continued to participate in Israeli elections, arguing that if they achieved greater representation in the Israeli Knesset, they should be able to challenge the tsunami of Israeli discriminatory laws.

This did not happen, even after the Joint List, which unified four Arab parties in the March 2020 elections, achieved its greatest turnout ever, becoming the Knesset’s third largest political bloc.

The supposed historic victory culminated to nil because all mainstream Jewish parties, regardless of their ideological backgrounds, refused to include Arab parties in their potential coalitions.

The enthusiasm that mobilized Arab voters behind the Joint List began to dwindle, and the List itself fragmented, thanks to Mansour Abbas, the head of the Arab party, Ra’am.

In the March 2021 elections, Abbas wanted to change the dynamics of Arab politics in Israel altogether. “We focus on the issues and problems of the Arab citizens of Israel within the Green Line,” Abbas told TIME magazine in June 2021, adding “we want to heal our own problems”, as if declaring a historic delink from the rest of the Palestinian struggle.

Abbas was wrong, as Israel perceives him, his followers, the Joint List and all Palestinians to be obstacles in its efforts to maintain the exclusivist ‘Jewish identity’ of the state. The Abbas experiment, however, became even more interesting, when Ra’am won 4 seats and joined a government coalition led by far-right, anti-Palestinian politician Naftali Bennet.

By the time the coalition collapsed in June, Abbas achieved little, aside from splitting the Arab vote and proving, again, that changing Israeli politics from within has always been a fantasy.

Even after all of this, Arab parties in Israel still insisted on participating in a political system that, despite its numerous contradictions, agreed on one thing: Palestinians are, and will always be, the enemy.

Even the violent events of May 2021, where Palestinians found themselves fighting on multiple fronts – against the Israeli army, police, intelligence services, armed settlers and even ordinary citizens – did not seem to change the Arab politicians’ mindset. Arab population centers in Umm Al-Fahm, Lydda and Jaffa, were attacked with the same racist mentality as Gaza and Sheikh Jarrah, illustrating that nearly 75 years of supposed integration between Jews and Arabs under Israel’s political system hardly changed the racist view towards Palestinians.

Instead of converting the energy of what Palestinians dubbed the ‘Unity Intifada’ to invest in Palestinian unity, Arab Israeli politicians returned to the Israeli Knesset, as if they still had hope in salvaging Israel’s inherently corrupt political system.

The self-delusion continues. On September 29, Israel’s Central Election Committee disqualified an Arab party, Balad, from running in the November elections. The decision was eventually overturned by the country’s Supreme Court, urging an Arab legal organization in Israel to describe the decision as ‘historic’. In essence, they suggested that Israel’s apartheid system still carries the hope of true democracy.

The future of Arab politics in Israel will remain grim if Arab politicians continue to pursue this failed tactic. Though Palestinian citizens of Israel are socio-economically privileged if compared to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, they enjoy nominal or no substantive political or legal rights. By remaining loyal participants in Israel’s democracy charade, these politicians continue to validate the Israeli establishment, thus harming, not only Palestinian communities in Israel but, in fact, Palestinians everywhere.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

7 November 2022

Source: countercurrents.org