Showing posts with label Trump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump. Show all posts

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mideast, stupidity, prayers


@AlmightyGod posted this on Twitter with encouragement to keep them coming.

I've noticed that the High School Students are sounding like real leaders and our so-called "leaders" are sounding like High School students.  I've heard that 91% of such mass murders are done in the US.  When one happened to Scotland, they changed laws and there have been no such incidents since.  When they had a mass murder in Australia, a conservative government moved, bought back guns, enforced laws and passed new ones, and it hasn't happened since.  Here, we are content to send thoughts and prayers, but don't do anything that will interfere with gun sales.  Actually, the market has been slumping lately because people think Trump will encourage gun owners. 

Why is it always-white guys that do these shootings?  Sure, blacks and Hispanics have shootouts and the like, but not single mass murders.  If someone who in a Moslem does it, we blame Islam.  If a white guy does it, he has mental problems.  What is it about white people that makes them so prone to mental problems?


Too many things going on that do not make sense.  An absurd world has run amok.  I'll just rant on with a few more thoughts, and then present an interview about how much of our international mess started for good.

I think there are two types of people in this world.  Those who think there are two types of people in this world and those who don't.

Perhaps a tip on how to be witty:  pick a subject, then say "There are three things that are important in (your subject here)" and the repeat the three things, only the same thing.  There are three things that are important in politics: Money, money, and more money.  See how witty that is?

We have had 18 mass school shootings this year.  I guess the last one was to celebrate Valentine's day?

I am getting tired of journalists approaching the students and asking "How did you feel when you best friend was killed?"

"Well, gee, I felt just great."  What the hell is that all about?  "Will you cry for us on camera?

A new campaign is in order #neveragain.  Maybe it will take off?  I doubt it.

On final thought on abortion:  Some religious nuts have been railing against it.  Now I know that religion gives many people comfort and peace, and that is no problem.  When fanatics take it over to run other people's lives is when it becomes stupid.  Some have been arguing against it vehemently against it, claiming that life begins at conception.  (They don't seem to give a damn about the kid once it is born, btw.).  Well, once a right-wing Governor of a Midwest state declared that human life began at conception.  Soon, some kid got busted for underage drinking.  He tried to subpoena the Governor and argued that he was only 6 months under the legal drinking age and, since human life began at conception, he was drinking legally.  The Governor refused and later became Attorney General of the U.S., covering up Lady Justice's breast (which signifies charity, or love) as obscene.  He didn't know how right he was.

Finally, there is a great deal of balderdash coming from Democrats, mainly.  I loath most Republicans, but it is very stupid to scream out about the Russians interfering with 'OUR DEMOCRACY!!!'  We would never do anything like that, would we?  At least not with troll farmers.

Well, just off the top of my head, I can think of Alliende of Chile, killed so Pinochet could take over.  How about the coup on Chavez?  He was too smart to get cornered and helped a few countries in Latin American get some degree of freedom from the IMF.  Anyone ever heard of Mossadegh?  The elected leader of Iran, replaced immediately by Dulles with the Shah?  That led to the revolution, putting a religious government in power.  How about Lamumba?  JFK didn't like that and we know what happened to JFK.

Well, here is some information about Saddam and Powell.  The Mideast has been a mess ever since:
Fifteen years ago this week, Secretary of State General Colin Powell gave a speech to the United Nations arguing for war with Iraq, saying the evidence was clear: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was a speech Powell would later call a blot on his career. Is President Trump doing the same thing now with Iran? We speak to Powell's former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. He recently wrote a piece titled "I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's Happening Again."

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to look at the growing threat of war against Iran. In recent weeks, senior members of the Trump administration have repeatedly tried to churn up U.S. support for a war against Iran, while President Trump has reiterated his threats to pull the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Last month, President Trump issued a waiver to prevent the reimposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran, but warned he would not do so again unless the nuclear deal is renegotiated. The waiver must be reissued every 120 days to avoid the sanctions from kicking back in.
His warning came after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke at the Anacostia-Bolling military base in Washington, D.C., in front of pieces of metal she claimed were parts of an Iranian-made missile supplied to the Houthis in Yemen, which the Houthis allegedly fired into Saudi Arabia. This is Ambassador Haley speaking December 14th.
NIKKI HALEY: Behind me is an example of one of these attacks. These are the recovered pieces of a missile fired by Houthi militants from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. The missile's intended target was the civilian airport in Riyadh, through which tens of thousands of passengers travel each day. I repeat, the missile was used to attack an international civilian airport in a G20 country. Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK or the airports in Paris, London or Berlin. That's what we're talking about here. That's what Iran is actively supporting.
AMY GOODMAN: Weapons experts widely criticized Ambassador Haley's speech, saying the evidence was inconclusive and fell far short of proving her allegations that Iran had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution. But to our next guest, Haley's claims were not only inconclusive, they were also oddly reminiscent of the false claims about weapons of mass destruction the George W. Bush administration used to sell the public on the war with Iraq.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, during which time he helped prepare Powell's infamous speech to the U.N. claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Powell's speech was given 15 years ago this week, February 5th, 2003.
SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents. Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.
AMY GOODMAN: That was then-Secretary of State General Colin Powell speaking February 5th, 2003, before the U.N. Security Council. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, his chief of staff, has since renounced the speech, which he helped write. Well, his new op-ed for The New York Times is headlined "I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's Happening Again."
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about what—how you felt at the time, how you came to understand the evidence that General Colin Powell, who himself said—called this speech, later, a blot on his career—how you put this speech together, and the echoes of it, what you hear today, in Ambassador Haley's speech.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Amy, we put the speech together with, arguably, the entire U.S. intelligence community, led by George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, literally at Powell's right hand all the time, seven days, seven nights, at Langley and then in New York, before we presented.
When I saw Nikki Haley give her presentation, certainly there was not the gravitas of a Powell, not the statesmanship of a Powell, not the popularity of a Powell. What I saw was a John Bolton. And remember, John Bolton was her predecessor, in terms of being a neoconservative at the United Nations representing the United States. I saw a very amateurish attempt.
But nonetheless, these kinds of things, when they're made visual and the statements are made so dramatically, have an impact on the American people. I saw her doing essentially the same thing with regard to Iran that Powell had done, and I had done, and others, with regard to Iraq. So it alarms me. I don't think the American people have a memory for these sorts of things. Gore Vidal called this the "United States of Amnesia," with some reason.
So, we need to be reminded of how the intelligence was politicized, how it was cherry-picked, how we moved towards a war that has been an absolute catastrophe for the region, and even, long-term, for Israel's security and the United States' perhaps, with a deftness and with a fluidity that alarmed me then. It really alarms me now that we might be ready to repeat that process.
And your previous speaker, on North Korea, there's another target. This president has so many targets out there that he could avail himself of at almost any moment, that we have to shudder at the prospects for war and destruction over the next three years of Donald Trump's term.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the pieces of metal she was talking about?
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I can't imagine how anyone could haul some metal in front of the TV cameras and assert, the way she did, with the details she did—some of which was false, just flat false—and expect anyone within any expertise, at least, to believe it. Open parenthesis, (The American people don't necessarily have that expertise), close parenthesis.
Look at her statement about "this could have been shot at Dulles, or it could have been shot at Berlin." Had it been shot at Dulles or Berlin, it would have stopped well short, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean or even shorter. These missiles are not long-range missiles. These missiles are very inaccurate missiles. They have a CEP of miles. That means that, unlike a U.S. nuclear weapon, which would hit within a 10-meter circle or less, it would hit within a mile or two circle. They don't know where it's going to hit when they shoot it. It's not very accurate, in other words.
So the things that she was presenting there, she was presenting with a drama, that even if what she was saying fundamentally was true, that the Houthis got it from Iran and shot it at Saudi Arabia, it simply was so exaggerated that one just looks at it and says, "I can't believe that the United States is represented by that woman."
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it's very interesting that you have this moment now in U.S. history where the Republicans—some of them—are joining with President Trump in trying to discredit the intelligence agencies. And yet you go back to 2003, when you have a fierce criticism of the intelligence agencies, saying they were being used to politicize information, which, oddly, is what President Trump is saying, in a very different context.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: You would have a lot of sympathy if you asked me if I have some doubts about the U.S. intelligence agencies, all 17 of them now, definitely. But let me tell you what I've done over the last 11 or 12 years, on two university campuses with really brilliant students, in terms of enlightening myself, gaining new insights into what happened not only in 2002 and '03, but what's been happening ever since and, for that matter, what happened ever since Richard Nixon, with regard to the intelligence communities.
What happens is you get people like Tenet, you get people like John Brennan, you get people like John McLaughlin, you get people like Chris Mudd, for example—Phil Mudd, who was head of counterterrorism for George Tenet and who tried at the last minute to get me to put even more stuff into his presentation about the connections between Baghdad and al-Qaeda. You get people like that who are at the top. That screens all the many dedicated, high-moral, high-character professionals down in the bowels of the DIA, the CIA, the NSA and elsewhere. That screens their views, which are often accurate—I'd say probably 80 percent of the time very accurate—from the decision makers. So what you get is you get people like Tenet and McLaughlin and Brennan, who shape whatever they can to fit the policies that the president wishes to carry out. The intelligence, therefore, gets corrupted. So, in that sense, I am still down on the, quote, "U.S. intelligence community," unquote.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it's really interesting, because a number of the people you mention from the past are the current commentators on television.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Yes, yes. John McLaughlin—John McLaughlin lied to the secretary of state of the United States on more than one occasion during the preparation for the 5 February, 2003, U.N. Security Council.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to President Trump speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran's government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, respond to President Trump, and talk about the clock being put ever closer to midnight.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: That agreement, the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement between the U.N. Security Council permanent members, Germany, Iran, that agreement is probably the most insidious and likely way to war with Iran. The Obama regime, in a very, very difficult diplomatic situation, achieved the best it could. That best is a nuclear agreement that keeps Iran from a nuclear weapon and gives us over a year of time, should they try to secretly break out of it, to inspect and find and to stop, even if we had to bomb. So it is an agreement unparalleled in regard to stopping Iran's search for, if it ever had the desire to, a nuclear weapon.
If Trump undermines that, if this administration undermines that, then there is no—and they are moving fast to do that—there is no other alternative, if you look at it. Now, my colleagues and some of my opponents in this will say, "Oh, no, that doesn't necessarily mean war." It certainly does, if you continue this march towards Iran's—unacceptability of Iran's having a nuclear weapon, because then we will have intelligence telling us that Iran is—I know the Foundation for Defense of Democracy and others will never let this rest. We will have everyone telling us that Iran, whether they are or not, is going after a nuclear weapon, once the agreement is abrogated. That means the only way you assure the American people and the international community, the region—Saudi Arabia is salivating for a war with Iran, with American lives at the front—that means the only way you stop Iran, under those circumstances, is to invade—500,000 soldiers and troops, you better have some allies, 10 years, $4 [trillion] or $5 trillion. And at the end of that 10 years, it looks worse than Iraq did at the end of its 10.
That's what you're looking at over the long haul, if you say this agreement is no good and abrogate it, because if it's still unacceptable, that Iran not get a nuclear weapon, the only way that you assure that is by invasion. Bombing won't do it. All bombing will do is drive them underground. They will develop a weapon. They'll work with the North Koreans and so forth. We know they have worked with the North Koreans in the past. And they will develop one. And then they'll be like Kim Jong-un: They'll present us with the fait accompli.
Nuclear proliferation is a real threat right now. And I agree with the Bulletin of Atomic—the Atomic Scientists Bulletin that the hands on the Doomsday Clock are now at two, two-and-a-half minutes or so from midnight. We are more in danger of a nuclear exchange on the face of the Earth than we were in probably any time since 1945. And that includes the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the Berlin crisis that more or less preceded it. This is a dangerous time, and we have a man in the White House who is a dangerous president.
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, on Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis defended a Pentagon request to develop new so-called low-yield nuclear weapons, telling reporters the U.S. needed a more complete range of nuclear options. And this comes as the Trump administration has unveiled its new nuclear weapons strategy, which involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade, they say, the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Your response?
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Make that about two to three, maybe even four, trillion dollars, because that's what the cost overruns will be, and that's what we'll spend over the next 10 to 15 years to do this. And we do not need it. Just look at some of the components of this. We're looking at a B-21 bomber for the Air Force, for example, that's going to be so expensive the Air Force won't even tell the Congress how much it's going to cost. We're looking at a nuclear-tipped cruise missile for that bomber, which negates the need for the bomber. It's redundant, but we're going to do it anyway.
This is to assuage the military-industrial complex in America that deals with nuclear weapons. This is to spend lots of money and keep lots of nuclear scientists and others in their jobs. I understand that, but I don't condone this kind of money being spent. This is to respond to the Russians, whose military doctrine now includes using small-yield nuclear weapons, should they be invaded by NATO. It's written in their doctrine. This is to further perturbate the situation with the Chinese, who are taking Mao Zedong's nuclear philosophy and throwing it out the window and thinking, "Oh, maybe we better build lots more nuclear weapons so we can ride out a first strike and retaliate." This is all because of the United States. It's all because of what's happening in the world post-Cold War, that we all thought was going to be more peaceful and is turning out to be more catastrophically dangerous.
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, Trump just tweeted, "Just signed Bill"—he's talking about the spending bill. "Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time." Your last 10-second response?
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Yeah, not the first time. Ronald Reagan did it, '82, '83, '84. And he did it on politicized intelligence about the Soviet Union. We knew it was falling apart at that time, but that didn't go along with his arms buildup. That's exactly what Trump is doing. And he's using the military to gain more votes.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson served as the secretary—as the chief of staff of the secretary of state, of Colin Powell, from 2002 to 2005.
That does it for our show. A very happy birthday Mohamed Taguine!
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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Gerusalemme Liberata


Illustration titled "The day the music died" 
Our title for this piece comes from a Renaissance epic by Tasso

Please note: All of the persons in the following transcript are female and therefore must be believed.  (Sorry, that's a bit bitter, but it sadly rings true.  I'll post a transcript of Frankin's announcement when it is available.)  Furthermore, at least two of the women are Jewish and therefore are telling the truth.  There can be no doubts whatsoever.

Trump's announcement simply cannot be allowed to pass without comment.  We all need time off, but this is insane.   His actions yesterday, 12/06/2017, have isolated us from the rest of the world, or civilized world, and this state of affairs will continue into future generations and administrations. 

Palestinians are protesting in cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after President Trump announced Wednesday that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiate a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The announcement sparked a massive international backlash, with leaders of Britain, France, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, the Arab League and other nations all criticizing the move. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an "important step toward peace." We go to Ramallah to speak with Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian politician and scholar. She was elected an Executive Committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2009, becoming the first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine. She also served as the official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process.


EN SHAIKH: Palestinians are protesting in cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after President Trump announced Wednesday that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiate a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done. That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Despite his announcement, Trump, like past U.S. presidents, signed a waiver that keeps the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. This waiver has been signed by U.S. presidents every six months since 1995. White House officials say the waiver prevents a cut in State Department funding provided by the act until the new embassy is opened. The move is expected to take at least three years. Currently, 86 nations have their embassies in Tel Aviv. No country has an embassy in Jerusalem.

Control of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli military seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and has occupied the territory ever since. Palestinians, however, have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future country. Since 1967, the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly have passed dozens of resolutions calling for Israel to end its occupation of East Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Trump's order meant the United States had abdicated its role as a mediator in the Middle East peace process. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, quote, "President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state solution." Abbas is in Jordan today for talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, who has come out strongly against the move.

AMY GOODMAN: In a rare rebuke, Saudi Arabia's Royal Court said the order was "unjustified and irresponsible." The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Trump had thrown the Middle East into a, quote, "ring of fire." The announcement has also sparked a massive international backlash, with the prime minister of Britain, France, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, the Arab League and other nations also criticizing the move. Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, alone among world leaders, said publicly the move was an "important step toward peace."

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] I would like to use this occasion to announce that we are already in contact with other countries which will issue a similar recognition. I have no doubt that the moment the American Embassy moves to Jerusalem, and even before then, there will be a movement of many embassies to Jerusalem. The time has come. Welcome to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state of Israel. If you weren't aware of that until yesterday, you are now. But we have been aware of it for 3,000 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Reuters reports the U.S. State Department privately asked Israel to temper its response to Trump's announcement, in a memo, writing, quote, "While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response. … We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on US facilities and personnel overseas."

Minutes after Trump's speech, American embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Britain issued security alerts. Hamas has called for a new uprising in the Palestinian territories and declared Friday a day of rage. Today, at checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli forces fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinian protesters. Clashes were also reported in East Jerusalem and at the border fence between Israel and Gaza. The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet Friday to discuss the move.

For more, we go first to Ramallah, where we're joined by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian diplomat and scholar, elected an Executive Committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO, in 2009, becoming the first woman to hold a seat in the highest executive body in Palestine. She also served as the official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. Your response to President Trump's move yesterday?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Thank you. Well, first of all, I think this is an outrageous move. It's an irresponsible move. It's the epitome of recklessness. It is something that not only violates international law, destroys the chances of peace, but also places the U.S. squarely on the side of lawlessness and illegality by becoming complicit in Israeli occupation and Israel's illegal annexation of Jerusalem, and therefore losing any standing or credibility to take part in any type of pursuit of peace. This is an act of supreme provocation. And the Palestinian people and all people of good conscience feel actually quite upset with this decision. And most people just can't believe that one person can embark on such a course of action that has such serious ramifications throughout the region and the world.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Ashrawi, could you explain what you think the reason is for Trump having made this announcement now?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Well, there could be many, many reasons. One could be lack of knowledge of what's happening, lack of depth of perception, lack of analytical skills. Another could be the team he's put together, that is so incredibly pro-Israeli that they do not see—they do not make sense when it comes to approaching peace. It could be also that he has domestic problems, and this is another diversionary tactic for which other people will pay a very heavy price for a very long time, because he is in trouble. Or it could be because he wants to pander to what he calls his base—the extreme Zionist evangelicals or AIPAC and their ilk, the extreme-right-wing ideologues who are pro-Israeli. All these are no justification. All these are very flimsy and cheap excuses, frankly. And I don't see how anyone who has any sense or any knowledge of the reality and the facts would embark on such a dangerous course of action.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ashrawi, how different is this from past presidents? I mean, Barack Obama had said that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He signed the waiver every six months. President Trump said that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And though a lot of media didn't report it at first—they didn't even realize what he had signed—in fact, he signed, once again, that six-month waiver. I watched Dan Shapiro, a man you probably know well, who was—


AMY GOODMAN: —President Obama's ambassador to Israel for years. And when he was asked on CNN what he thought, he said he didn't think this was a bad idea. In fact, he thought the mistake was that Donald Trump had signed the waiver. Why not just follow through and move the embassy to Jerusalem? Your thoughts?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Yeah, yeah. Well, now you're seeing Dan Shapiro's true colors. When he was ambassador under Barack Obama, he was trying to convey an impression that he was even-handed. But after he stopped being ambassador, he stayed in Israel. He's an Israeli citizen. He's working for an Israeli organization. And so, his true colors are out there. He is incredibly pro-Israel and Zionist, to the point where he's trying to outdo Trump.

Now, with Barack Obama, I mean, he himself started on a course of action to stop settlement activities and to find a just peace. But then the Israelis took all sorts of preemptive actions in order to put him on the defensive, by calling him, you know, Muslim or anti-Israeli—he had to prove his credentials always to Israel—by saying he's taking measures that would undermine American-Israeli relations and so on. So he spent—he backed down on the issue of settlements and Jerusalem, and he spent seven years of his tenure trying to prove he was good for Israel, to the point where he gave Israel more funding, more support, more military support, and committed pledges of $38 billion to Israel before he left office. But at the last minute, he actually took one step, where he refrained from vetoing U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, that calls Israeli settlements illegal and calls on Israel to withdraw and to stop its settlement activities everywhere, including Jerusalem.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to continue this discussion after break. We're speaking to Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian politician and scholar. When we come back, we'll expand our discussion to East Jerusalem and here in New York. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.

As Palestinians protest President Trump's announcement that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we go to East Jerusalem to speak with Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, and speak with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. We are also joined in Ramallah by Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian politician and scholar.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Palestinians are protesting in cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after President Trump announced Wednesday that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and initiate a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue our conversation with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian politician in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. And we're joined in East Jerusalem by Budour Hassan, a Palestinian writer and project coordinator for the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights. Here in New York, Rebecca Vilkomerson is with us, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

And we welcome you all to Democracy Now! Let's go to East Jerusalem right now, where we want to turn to our guest in East Jerusalem, Budour Hassan. Your response in East Jerusalem, as you were listening to President Trump yesterday? And what is the response in the community?

BUDOUR HASSAN: Obviously, it was very frustrating to hear that coming from Trump, but it was not surprising, because U.S. complicity with the Israeli occupation is not new. It's something that has spanned over generations. And for Palestinians, it's something that is expected, because a nation like the United States, that has been built on colonization, it's only natural for them to support another colonizer state in Israel.

We obviously—while we are outraged, we know the reason for our outrage is not just Trump's declaration. Our reason for our outrage is that it was under President Obama that the U.S. pledged $38 billion of taxpayer—U.S. taxpayers' money to support Israel militarily. So this is why we are outraged. We are outraged because the Palestinian Authority continued to sell people the promise of negotiations and peace, and the result is that all these talks about peace and negotiations and the peace process, that has been going on for more than two decades, has only led us to this. And this is why people are protesting, because it's important to know that the young people, women and men, who are taking to the streets to tell President Trump and to tell the Palestinian Authority and to tell everyone that Jerusalem is and has always been and will always be Palestinian. But they are clear that their outrage is not simply about Trump. It's about an entire system that has denied Palestinians their rights.

And this declaration, to be honest, many of us are a bit relieved that we are finally seeing the true face of the so-called U.S.-Israel shared values. Trump—if anything, Trump is a personification of what many U.S. presidents have always tried to conceal or deny. He is saying it clear. He is not lying or cloaking his promise—his promises to Israel by fancy words about peace and negotiations. And this is why now our battle is much more clearer.

We know that this is a battle to reclaim our—to liberate our country, and also to dissolve the PA, because we believe—and many protesters have said that today and will continue to say that—that if the Palestinian Authority is actually right or true in its indignation about what Trump has done, it must be dissolved, first and foremost, and it must declare that the Oslo Accords are null. And it also must strip Israel of its recognition. Only when the Palestinian Authority does that, we can talk about the possibility of rebuilding a national movement. But meanwhile, we cannot take the anger of the PA seriously, while it continues to recognize Israel and the legitimacy of the Israeli state.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is heading the Trump administration's efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. But quietly, the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation is continuing to fund a far-right-wing Israeli settlement in the West Bank that is considered illegal under international law. ProPublica reports that the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation made a donation of at least $18,000 at the "Master Builders" level to American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center. While the charity has given to the settlement in the past, ProPublica reports this appears to be the first time they've done so while Kushner, whose title is senior adviser to the president, is the lead administration official brokering a peace plan. So, Rebecca Vilkomerson, you're the head of Jewish Voice for Peace. Could you comment on this, the fact that the president's son-in-law is part of a foundation that's providing funding to this far-right-wing group in Israel, and also what the response here in the U.S. has been among Jewish organizations to Trump's announcement yesterday?

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Yeah. I mean, I think something that Budour Hassan said is very important, which is that in some ways, you know, we know there's going to be incredible damage from this announcement, but there is potentially a silver lining, which is that the U.S. ongoing policies of supporting Israel tacitly and being complicit in Israel's policies are being completely laid bare. And it's not just Jared Kushner. We have the U.S. ambassador, David Friedman, who has also been a personal fundraiser for settlements, as well. So we have the actual—

AMY GOODMAN: Who was Trump's bankruptcy lawyer.

REBECCA VILKOMERSON: Who was also Trump's bankruptcy lawyer, right. So we have these—so we have, you know, the highest officials in the Trump administration who have a clear interest not just in—you know, really, with the far-right extreme settlers, not just in the Israel government as it stands, which is already extremely right. And so, there is like—the bankruptcy and the hollowness of the idea that the U.S. could be a broker for peace, I think, is now very, very clear.

And I would also hope that the sort of broad swath of Americans who are completely horrified by Trump, generally, will sort of recognize the pattern here, and his recklessness and criminality and cruelty, that this is very much of a pattern. And so, that group of voters, who tend to support the way that the United States has interacted with Israel and the United States' support for Israel, will start to maybe question that and will be able to understand that and separate that out, in a way they weren't when Obama was indeed supporting Israel in the same way with military and economic and diplomatic aid.

In the Jewish community, you know, AIPAC is supporting this move. Some other big organizations are supporting this move. One of the organizations that I think was very surprising for many of us in the Jewish community was the Anti-Defamation League, strongly supported this move. And they're ostensibly a civil rights organization, but they're here taking a position that is absolutely against the human rights of Palestinians, not just who are living in Jerusalem, but all around the world. So I think there was a very strong reaction against their public statement in favor of this decision yesterday. And so, my hope is that this is an—the response to it is an indication of the shift in the Jewish community to really starting to understand that the United States can't keep playing this role.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Dr. Hanan Ashrawi about the role of President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is also under an increasing microscope in investigations in Congress—


AMY GOODMAN: —and in the special prosecutor. You mentioned the political pressure at home. So, he spent a lot of time with the man known as MBS, the crown prince in Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, is considered very close to him, not to mention extremely close to the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, who slept in his bedroom when he was growing up, when he would visit, before he was prime minister. Now, while Saudi Arabia has spoken out against Trump's move, there are some who are saying privately he has already checked with them and that they support him. Is this possible? What does this mean? And what about the role of Jared Kushner as the supposed peace negotiator in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

HANAN ASHRAWI: Well, there are several issues involved here and several layers of incompetence and the sins of omission and commission.

Number one, Jared Kushner is one of the most extreme Zionist individuals, who has habitually, as you said, supported the Beit El settlement, supported—he was the board of the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, so to speak. He was always intricately connected ideologically to the most extreme right-wing components of Israeli society, particularly the settlers, who are outside the law, war criminals.

But he has also had economic ties with Israel, and he has had some Israeli banks bail him out when he was in economic trouble. That's another problem.

And third, his lack of experience and knowledge.

Fourth, the whole context, the whole setting of people like Kushner, like Friedman, even like Jason Greenblatt, and so on, who have ideological commitments and who are entrusted, under Kusher, with the task of achieving peace. I mean, this is incredible. It's like putting the thief in charge of the treasure or whatever. So, in a sense, while they are buying more time, procrastinating, going back and forth, pretending that they are working on peace, they've been buying Israel not only more time, but favor. And with the White House now, you have settlers in the White House. We used to say we had settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Now they are in the White House, and they have succeeded in taking over American policy.

Before, yes, the U.S.—and I said this before, Amy—the U.S.—you could never accuse the U.S. administration of being even-handed. But now it's complicit. That's the difference, that it has become part of the crime, rather than at least trying to maintain a semblance that it's outside this or that it can maintain a distance. It cannot. And that's why it has destroyed its standing and chances for peace.

But what's alarming now—and I agree there's a silver lining that things are out in the open in a very crude way and a very ignorant way and irresponsible way, which is no source of comfort, because the U.S. cannot contain its actions. We used to say, "Well, the poor Americans, look what they got." But now it's the poor world, because any decision taken in Washington has repercussions all over the world. I mean, they're capable of destabilizing the whole region. They're capable of weighing in in favor of impunity and lawlessness and violating international law and U.N. resolutions. They're capable of becoming partners in crime. And they're capable of doing all that, and still, in a very super—talking about peace, as though they are doing this for the sake of peace.

So, it's not just a question of individuals. It's a question of combination of factors, of special interests, of economic interests, of ideological commitments, and, of course, of lack of experience and foresight when it comes to the necessity, when it comes to the need to understand not just the intricacy, but the components of the situation. I don't call it a conflict. This is a situation where you have occupier and occupied, where you have one military force enslaving a whole nation and holding it captive and stealing its land and resources—and getting away with it, and getting support and cover from the U.S. to pursue this, and buying more time. So I don't think at any point was there any hope or chance that the Trump administration or the U.S. would be an even-handed peace broker or would try to oversee a just solution. So, now that this has become clear to everybody, something we've been talking about for years—I started in '91 talking about this, and I was in charge of negotiating with the Americans.

But the problem now is that we have to minimize the damage that they are doing. And at the same time, we have to mobilize the Arabs, the Europeans, the rest of the world, international organizations and so on. And we have to put our own house in order. I don't want to transform this discussion into, you know, sort of internal mea culpas and so on. Yes, there are problems and issues that are domestic, but now we are facing serious problems, and we do have to, in a sense, band together. We have to try to face this external challenge in a way that is unified, responsible, with a cohesive and bold strategy, because our first responsibility is to maintain people's ability to stay on the land, to maintain people's ability to resist and to withstand such an onslaught of several factors, several forms of aggression, some of them military by the Israeli army, some of them economic, some of them in terms of siege, others in terms of political and legal negation and so on. All these different forms of assaults on Palestinian reality and rights require that we face them with a unified front, with a clear and bold strategy, and try to maximize all those areas and sources of strength that we could use in order to protect our cause and our land and our people.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Dr. Ashrawi, could you say a little about what you expect the response, both in Israel and Palestine, to be? Reportedly, in Israel, not just people in Netanyahu's administration, but also more liberal politicians, have welcomed this move by Trump. And you, yourself, have said that by making this move—


NERMEEN SHAIKH: —Trump has emboldened terrorists and more extreme elements within Palestine, as well as the most aggressive elements of the Israeli Netanyahu administration. So what kind of response do you expect?

HANAN ASHRAWI: I think it certainly has emboldened the more extreme ideological hardline elements in Israel. It has shown that might makes right, that you can violate the law, that you can be aggressive and hostile, and you can act with criminality, and you will be rewarded. Not only will you get away with it, now you will be openly rewarded, yes. And this has helped shift all the discourse in Israel to the right. The whole terrain has gone to the right and to the extreme right and so on. The peace camp is literally nonexistent now. And the Labor Party, which used to be called the Labor Party, they call themselves the Zionist Camp. Even the transformation of the language has—is very indicative. They have supported this move, and they see it as something that should have been done and that is normal and that helps, you know, the Jewish state. So, nobody is saying that they are non-Zionist.

But at the same time, they should have more sense to understand the danger inherent in such a move, including danger to Israel itself. It's not my responsibility to protect Israel from its extremists and from the fumbling and mumbling of the American administration. But it is also my job to see—to understand whether there are saner voices within Israel, within the U.S., who will stand up to these voices of extremism and violence and so on.

Within Palestine, I don't think that we have, you know, terrorism and so on. I don't like to use that label. But I think, globally, that there are forces, there are irresponsible sources, that would like to exploit the Palestinian question, that—who are in search of an excuse—people like ISIS, for example, who would like to grab on, hold on to something as a justification for their acts of terror. And that's why I said the Palestinian cause must not be up for grabs, number one, by any nut who wants to use it.

And two, I think that it should show, in many ways, that if you adopt the language of peace, the language of legality, the language of humanity, the language of morality, the language that says, "We can negotiate, despite everything else, a just peace," then you have nothing to gain, but everything to lose, that you will be defeated by other voices. And I think this is the fatal flaw in this. So, in Palestine, you're seeing that the PLO, that has funded—that, by the way, the Palestinian Authority does not take political decisions. It's an administration that works on the ground to deliver services. But the PLO, that since '91 has committed itself—or since '88, to a negotiated settlement, and has staked, actually, its own career on the peace process as—or on a negotiated settlement as a means of resolving the conflict, has been shown to be unable to deliver. And this is why it has been weakened. And that's why it strengthens the opposition, people who say, "Well, they don't listen to the voice of peace or reason, therefore they will listen only to the voice of violence and ideology," because these are the weapons used by Israel, and now by the U.S., when it comes to Palestine.

And that's why I see a new configuration. I think that this is a deal changer, anyway—deal breaker, anyway, and a game changer. I think you are seeing more and more hardline positions, more and more polarization. The extreme right has become more emboldened in Israel, and it feels justified. The settlers have taken over the agenda. And they have neutralized and excluded, in many ways, any voices for peace. That's why it's important, when you talk about Jewish Voice for Peace and other American Jewish organizations, that they speak out, that they not be intimidated, because they are not living in the system that is becoming more and more fascist in Israel—

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask—

HANAN ASHRAWI: —even though they have problems in the U.S., as well.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask—

HANAN ASHRAWI: And that's why in Palestine we also need an internal dialogue in order to come up with a new strategy.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask Budour Hassan, who is standing right now in East Jerusalem: What are the plans? The announcement of three days of rage tomorrow, the Friday day of prayer, what the plans are there? President Trump talking about hiring the architects and the contractors to begin the process of building the embassy in Jerusalem. What's going to happen over these next few days, that you know of, Budour?

BUDOUR HASSAN: I'll tell you something. In July, when Israel introduced metal detectors outside Al-Aqsa Mosque, people, without waiting for leaders, without waiting for anyone—neither religious nor political leaders, it was young women and men, religious, secular, Muslim, Christian, atheist, some people who never prayed in their lives before—took to the streets and camped outside Al-Aqsa Mosque. And after two weeks of popular rebellion, that was leaderless and that was grassroots, they managed to topple the metal detectors, and they managed to, probably for the first time, defeat an Israeli plan in Jerusalem. And actually, it was them who imposed their decision on the Israeli administration.

And I believe that people in Palestine say, of course, the days of rage are important, and we expect that tomorrow there will be protests, but we also know that this is a long struggle. I mean, people will—some people will probably forget, but people in Jerusalem have been suffering from colonization and from repression, especially extreme repression for the last two years. And this is why they are perfectly aware that this is—this battle is not two days or three days or a few demonstrations here and there. It is a battle for Palestinians in Jerusalem, especially with mass residency revocations by Israel, with mass arrests, as well, home demolitions and demographic engineering that Israel tries to operate in occupied Jerusalem. People are aware that this is a very long battle that is going to need them to stand together and that is going to need them to resist Israel's attempts to Judaize and expand its control over Jerusalem.

So, there are—I mean, I am sure that there will be protests today and tomorrow. In Damascus Gate, for example, there has been—there have been protests, and there have been confrontations in Ramallah, as well. And tomorrow, because it's Friday and because it's usually a very iconic day, after prayers, people, young women and men, will protest. But I think it's a very long battle for Palestinians. And a friend said that it's not in the White House where the identity, the Palestinian identity, of Jerusalem is denied; it's in the streets of Jerusalem that people will continue to reinforce and stress the Palestinian identity of this city.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, we have 20 seconds. Do you agree with Saeb Erekat that the two-state solution is dead?

HANAN ASHRAWI: It has been, for some time now. But it was a very convenient myth, that kept the image, the facade, of a process ongoing, and that was used constantly to pacify those who felt that, you know, they've done their national duty, like the Europeans and others, by saying, "We are committed to the two-state solution," but standing aside and allowing Israel to destroy it single-handedly. So I think, yes, this is—it's final now, but the issue is what will take its place. I do not like to see any vacuum, in terms of political vacuums or even vacuums in terms of struggle and internal reform and so on. We need, as I said, a new national dialogue. And we need to reform our institutions and our strategies in order to face the tremendous challenges we are seeing materializing right now before our eyes.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, we want to thank you very much for being with us, Palestinian politician, speaking to us from the occupied West Bank in Ramallah; Budour Hassan, Palestinian writer, speaking to us from East Jerusalem; and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, here in New York.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Time magazine has named its 2017 Person of the Year: "The Silence Breakers," the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and assault. Stay with us.

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