Monopoly: How the Original Version Was Made to Condemn Monopolies

The great capitalist game of Monopoly was first marketed by Parker Brothers back in February 1935, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Even during hard times, Americans could still imagine amassing a fortune and securing a monopoly on the real estate market. When it comes to making money, Americans never run out of optimism and hope.

Monopoly didn’t really begin, however, in 1935. And if you trace back the origins of the game, you’ll encounter an ironic, curious tale. The story goes like this: Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips (1866–1948), a disciple of the progressive era economist Henry George, created the prototype forMonopoly in 1903. And she did so with the goal of illustrating the problems associated with concentrating land in private monopolies. As Mary Pilon, the author of the new book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, recently explained inThe New York Times, the original game — The Landlord’s Game — came with two sets of rules: “an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents.” Phillips’ approach, Pilon adds, “was a teaching tool meant to demonstrate that the first set of rules was morally superior.” In other words, the original game of Monopoly was created as a critique of monopolies — something the trust- and monopoly-busting president, Theodore Roosevelt, could relate to.


Patented in 1904 and self-published in 1906, The Landlord’s Game featured “play money and deeds and properties that could be bought and sold. Players borrowed money, either from the bank or from each other, and they had to pay taxes,” Pilon writes in her new book.

The Landlord’s Game also had the look & feel of the game the Parker Brothers would eventually bastardize and make famous. Above, you can see an image from the patent Philips filed in 1904 (top), and another image from the marketed game.

Magie Philips never got credit or residuals from the Parker Brothers’ game. Instead, a fellow named Charles Darrow came along and drafted his own version of the game, tweaked the design, called it Monopoly (see the earliest version here), slapped a copyright on the packaging with his name, and then sold the game to Parker Brothers for a reported $7,000, plus residuals. He eventually made millions.

As they like to say in the US, it’s just business.

For more on the origins of Monopoly, read Mary Pilon’s piece in The Times.

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us onFacebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

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Any Coup Attempts Should be Punished Sanctions Imposed on the U.S.?



Another year, another set of coups that we can expect to be administered by the West.

This year, it is all beginning in February. First the onslaught against Argentina and following that comes yet another coup against Venezuela, and its democratically elected, progressive government.

The coup has been thwarted. Venezuela prevailed!

As Telesur reported:

“Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that the government had thwarted a coup attempt which was being coordinated by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition with the support of the U.S. government.

Just the day before the revelations, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma released a “transition plan” which involved privatization of the country’s oil, deregulation of the economy and accords with “international financial institutions” including the International Monetary Fund.”

The army stood firmly by the government of President Maduro. Most of Latin America, including UNASUR, expressed both their solidarity and support.

But all over the world, life goes on, as if nothing significant really took place!

How much longer can such banditry by the Empire be tolerated?


I don’t feel like writing my usual long philosophical essays, today.

I am simply pissed off; outraged. This time I really am! Not by what those sadistic imperialist control-junkies in Washington have managed to do again. I have no positive expectations when it comes to them, as they are clearly a bunch of mass murderers of the greatest caliber, not unlike their European colonialist and crusader predecessors.

What shocks me, suddenly, is this silence, this calm, all over the world! As if nothing really taken place. As if nothing is going on!

Are we going to eat the lowest grade of shit from the Empire forever? Is the monstrous fascist and market-fundamentalist system going to get away with absolutely everything? It has already murdered some 60 million people since the end of the WWII, as I explained in my recent book with Noam Chomsky.

The Empire overthrew every decent government in Africa, in the Middle East, Asia and until recently, in Latin America. It liquidated peaceful and secular Muslim governments and replaced them with thugs or extremists.

Many of us know about it. It is no secret! But then, when the same banditry takes place again and again, everybody stays seated on his or her bum, silent like a buffalo!

Where at least are there any substantial protests in Western capitals and major cities? Where is that multi-million crowd yelling “Je suis Chavez”?

Did those morons in Europe and the United States enter a complete, final, terminal state of amnesia and indoctrination? Don’t they see and care what their governments and corporations are doing all over the world?

It seems that all that can still lift them up from the couch is either that bloody football or regime-sponsored events like “Je suis Charlie”.

So this is their famous “democracy” – the one that the West wants to ‘export’ and sticks down the throat of the Chinese people, of Russians, of Latin Americans: the establishment can butcher millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Somalia, in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Papua, Kashmir, Syria and Ukraine, it can attempt to overthrow any democratically elected government in Latin America, but the citizens of the Empire are so ‘pacified’, so fucked, really, that they don’t even recognize what is happening in front of their eyes, or what is done in their name. And if they recognize it, they don’t care.

It must remind one of those Germans who were living next to concentration camps, during the war, looking at the smoke coming up from the chimneys, and then claiming that ‘they did not know’.


Have they – Europeans and North Americans – lost their marbles? Their Christian fundamentalist/corporatist states are imposing sanctions on Russia – for nothing. Actually, Russia is being punished for the successful Western act of overthrowing the Ukrainian government! It is all totally bizarre, grotesque, comical. It makes a person with at least a few intact pieces of brain want to puke.

They first create ISIS in those NATO sponsored ‘refugee camps’ in Southern Turkey and Jordan, in order to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. Then when ISIS goes gaga, they use it as justification to redeploy troops in Iraq, and to bomb Syria! And European and North Americans still immobilized on their asses and still getting stoned and pissed, instead of at least building a few good, old-fashioned barricades!

And now Venezuela!

I believe that Latin America should, immediately, impose sanctions on the United States.

This is not a joke; it can and should be done. This is the only way to deal with the Empire! Merely exposing its acts only, does not obviously help. It just laughs back and continues murdering people and destroying countries that do not want to lick its boots and to sacrifice its people. It does it all in broad daylight.

Venezuela should approach the UN Security Council, and then the ICC (although states like the US or Israel do not recognize it, as they are ‘above the law’).

Then sanctions should be imposed against the U.S., first by Venezuela, then by most of other Latin American countries. China and Russia should offer their mighty shoulders, and protect Latin America against further attacks, militarily.

Enough of fear; enough of this horror! The world cannot count on the Europeans and North Americans. They cannot and are unwilling to control their governments and corporate bandits. Their countries are forming, in fact, a bunch of failed states, processing materials that are plundered abroad.

What happened in Venezuela on Feb 12th should never be accepted as the norm. Not anymore.

The world is not a chessboard, Mr. Obama. But what you are playing is not even chess. It is dirty; an extremely dirty game, which should be stopped by all means.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear” (Pluto). He just completed feature documentary “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website.

U.S. Complicity As Officials Stay Silent on Israeli Abuse of Palestinian Children


Six weeks after being abducted on her way home from school in the occupied West Bank, 14-year-old Malak al-Khatib was released on Friday from the jail where she was being imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces. The youngest Palestinian girl ever to be incarcerated, Malak is one of hundreds of children to be prosecuted through the Israeli military court system each year. As of December 2014, there were 156 Palestinian child prisoners, 17 of which were under 16 years old, according to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. As the benefactor of the illegal Israeli occupation, the United States government is complicit in Israel’s disgraceful persecution and abuse of Palestinian children. While American officials refrain from criticizing such abuses, they forcefully condemn any resistance to the violent Israeli occupation that is responsible for innumerable human rights violations against Palestinian children.

During Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last August, the Obama administration expressed its strongest indignation regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict throughout President Obama’s six years in office. After the apparent capture of Israeli Occupation soldier Hadar Goldin by the Palestinian resistance, administration officials said the action was “barbaric” and “outrageous.”

That morning a cease-fire was set to take effect after nearly two weeks of fighting in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians had already been slaughtered. A few hours before the designated cease-fire time, Israeli occupation troops continued operations to destroy tunnels inside Gaza that were used to smuggle food and goods denied to the Palestinian territory as part of the eight-year-long blockade imposed by Israel in violation of international law. When the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) reached a tunnel they encountered resistance from Palestinian fighters from theQassam Brigades. Several Israeli troops were killed. It appeared Goldin had been captured and led away into the tunnel.The IOF then reportedly employed the savage Hannibal Directive, a repulsive military procedure developed nearly 30 years ago in which the Israeli army uses massive amounts of firepower in an attempt to kill their own soldier rather than allow him to be captured. Journalist Max Blumenthal says that Israeli troops employed an “indiscriminate assault on the entire circumference of the area where … Goldin was allegedly taken.” According to Blumenthal, this was one of three possible instance of the Hannibal Directive during Israel’s murderous summer rampage in Gaza.

So while Israel carried out a military operation inside Palestinian territory, shortly before or at the time Israel had agreed to cease fire, Palestinian militants – defending themselves from the savage onslaught against homeshospitalsmosques, parks, sports clubscaféshigh-risesambulancesdisability centerspower plants, and UN schools – captured an enemy combatant consistent with the laws of war. Israel then ordered indiscriminate fire to kill him rather then let him be taken alive. This is the situation American officials found to be “barbaric” – by the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

A month later, when Israel finally agreed to a cease-fire (which it has continued to violate nearly every day since with impunity) more than 2,100 Palestinians had been killed, including 578 children.

Among the children whose lives Israel snuffed out were four-year-old Sahir Abu Namous, whose head was blown open by shrapnel; five-month-old Faris Juma al-Mahmoum, whose mother and 18 others were injured in shelling; five-day-old Shayma Sheikh Khalil, born prematurely after her mother was killed by an Israeli airstrike; and four cousins from the Bakir family, Ismail Mahmoud (9), Ahed Atef (10), Zakariya Ahed (10), and Mohammad Ramiz (11), who were playing soccer on a beach. At least one of the cousins was killed when an Israeli warship gunner who had failed to kill him with an original shell explosion re-aimed and fired again.

In his strongest language against the Israeli operation, Obama told Netanyahu that he was “deeply concerned” about further escalation. Yet he did not call any Israeli actions – which numerous human rights groups have since decried as war crimes that must be referred to the International Criminal Court – “barbaric” or “outrageous.” He was apparently not concerned enough to stop the delivery of weapons to resupply Israel, which would use them to massacre more Palestinian children. And he was not concerned enough to direct his administration to join 29 other nations on the UN Human Rights Council in voting just to investigate potential war crimes.

The U.S. government will not even oppose Israeli child abuse carried out against the U.S.’s own citizens. Several weeks before the bloodbath in Gaza, 15-year-old Tarek Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American from Tampa, was savagely beaten by Israeli police. The teen from Tampa was visiting Jerusalem with his family shortly after his cousin had been abducted, doused with gasoline and burned alive by Israeli settlers. Tarek and his family claimed he was ambushed while on his family’s property. After the assault by Israeli police that left the teenager with head wounds, Tarek was jailed. This was deemed by the U.S. administration to be “profoundly troubling,” but again not “barbaric” or even “outrageous.”

For teenagers who do not hold American citizenship, their mistreatment by the U.S.-funded occupation does not elicit as much as a shrug from American officials. As the Electronic Intifada reported, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have recently demanded that the Israeli forces stop harassing schoolchildren and provoking confrontations with them.

Human rights groups have claimed that Palestinian children are often accused of stone-throwing. Such was the case for Malak al-Khatib. She was also accused of having a knife, which would not be a problem if she were an Israeli settler, many of whom carry and use guns with impunity.

Malak was convicted after an alleged confession obtained after hours of questioning by Israeli soldiers. Like many Palestinian children interrogated by Israeli authorities, Malak was unaccompanied by an adult. Her father dismissed the veracity of her alleged confession, telling the Israeli paper Haaretz: “How can you question her without her parents and without a lawyer? Interrogate a little girl like this and she’ll admit to being in possession of an M16 rifle, too.” Malak maintains her innocence, saying she was neither throwing stones nor carrying a knife.

Regardless, throwing stones is a legitimate act of resistance in accordance with international law. A 1987 UN General Assembly resolution validates the right to resist occupation, explicitly differentiating terrorism from the “struggle of peoples for national liberation.” The resolution grants “peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation … the right .. to struggle to this end.” The measure was approved with 153 votes in favor. Only the United States and Israel voted against it.

Even militant resistance against occupying troops is protected as part of struggle against occupation. Clearly, stone-throwing unquestionably falls within the protections explicitly stated by the UN resolution. In fact, some people have even said that Palestinians have a “duty to throw stones.”

“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule,” wrote Israeli journalist Amira Hass. “Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part – though it’s not always spelled out – of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.”The Israeli occupation uses stone-throwing to punish and abuse children like Malak whose land they have illegally occupied for 47 years.

The human rights group Defence for Children International Palestine found that “Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank last year fell victim to a pattern of abuse designed to coerce confessions.”They reported that Israeli occupiers ordered solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and torture against children. “Impunity for violations was a significant obstacle in 2014 as DCIP filed nine complaints with Israeli authorities concerning the ill-treatment and torture of five children while in Israeli military detention. Not a single indictment has been issued against a perpetrator,” the group wrote.

Another human rights group reported that 240 children detained in Jerusalem over one year suffered sexual abuse by Israeli authorities.

Yet the only thing that the United States government will declare as “barbaric” is the capture of an adult Israeli combatant by the Palestinian resistance in a defensive military operation. To American officials, Palestinian life – even that of children – does not matter. When Israeli teens are killed, President Obama and American officials express their condolences and lament the “terror against innocent youth.” This is never reciprocated for Palestinian children, who are killed by Israelis at more than 15 times the rate of Israeli children being killed by Palestinians. 2,060 Palestinian children have been killed since September 2000 compared to 133 Israelis.

The United States government has long held as policy that its strategic relationship with Israel matters more than any concerns for justice and human rights. Not even the lives of Palestinian children matter enough to force American officials to show any semblance of humanity by demanding accountability for the crimes and injustices they aid and abet in Palestine. The only real outrage the U.S. government is capable of showing is when Palestinians dare to resist the violent colonial oppression that Israel subjects them to, under approving American sponsorship.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.


17 medical establishment journals blindly accept blatantly fake study

In a humorous experiment that exposes published “science” as a subjective mess of opinions and oftentimes deliberate deceptions, a Harvard University medical doctor has confirmed that almost anything can get published in a medical journal for the right price.

Dr. Mark Shrime, M.D., who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in health policy at his esteemed institution, generated a completely made-up study using the website, testing a hypothesis that he could get utter nonsense published into a medical journal.

Inspired by the constant and annoying stream of e-mail spam he says he receives daily, petitioning him to pay a flat-rate sum, usually around $500, to have a single study published in a medical journal, Dr. Shrime decided to take some of these journals up on the offer.

He manufactured a paper titled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals,” which is filled with five whole pages of complete gibberish. Dr. Shrime proposed the fake study to 37 different journals, and, surprisingly, 17 of them, thus far, have accepted.

None of these journals have actually published the phony study, which opens up with the nonsensical line, “In an intention dependent on questions on elsewhere, we betrayed possible jointure in throwing cocoa.” But each of them has promised to, pending receipt of the respective “processing fee.”

Dr. Shrime has no intention of actually paying these journals to accept his ridiculousstudy, which is amusingly authored by “Pinkerton A. LeBrain” and “Orson Welles.” But the fact that these would publish his study in exchange for cash is deeply disturbing on many levels.

You can view the fake study in PDF form here:

Fake paper reviewed as “novel and innovative” contains not a single meaningful sentence

If you’re assuming at this point that the journals in question simply failed to read the study, you’d be wrong. Several of the journals actually typeset the study and issued reviews, with one glowingly endorsing it as being “novel and innovative”!

The simplicity with which Dr. Shrime was able to initiate his study into the system is mind-boggling, especially in light of the fact that the study contains not a single line of sensical information. Consider the following quotations taken directly from the counterfeit paper:

“Remainder household direction zealously the unwilling bed sex,” and

“Comfort reached gay perhaps chamber his six detract besides add.”

The only aspects of the fake paper that even remotely resemble what might be found in a real one are its structure and headings and the references section.

Top experts, scientists admit even they don’t know which journals and studies are real

The field has become so saturated, apparently, with so many journals and studies pouring in from all over the world, that even top experts and scientists in their own fields admit that they can’t make heads or tails of what’s legitimate anymore.

“As scientists, we’re aware of the top-tier journals in our specific sub-field, but even we cannot always pinpoint if a journal in another field is real or not,” admitted Dr. Shrime toFast Company.

“For instance, the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology is the very first journal I was ever published in and it’s legitimate. But the Global Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology is fake. Only someone in my field would know that.”

While the National Library of Medicine tries to overcome this problem by maintaining an official list of legitimate journals in the PubMed database, even this resource is incomplete. Some newer, legitimate studies aren’t in the database yet, and who’s actually in charge of determining which journals are legitimate, for that matter?

Sources for this article include:[PDF][PDF]

Heralding the demise of something else beneath the waves?

LA Times, Feb 12, 2015 (emphasis added): [A] record number of sea lions [have] been rescued in recent weeks. “One hundred and two California sea lions in the last 10 days,” a spokeswoman for the [Marine Mammal Center] said… The influx is unprecedented

National Geographic, Feb 12, 2015: Since January 1, nearly 500 of the tiny animals have been [rescued] a number many times higher than normal. Why these animals are struggling to survive is a mystery… California sea lions are considered a sentinel species, meaning they’re seen as indicators of ocean health. Generally, if sea lions are suffering, something is wrong offshore. In this case, scientists still don’t really know what that something is… Starting in January 2013, waves of starving sea lion pups began washing ashore… Scientists noted that the stranding pattern resembled that of severe El Niño years [with] warm ocean waters… The trouble was, these weren’t El Niño years… January 2014, strandings started to swell again… Now, 2015 is looking even worse… more than 470 sea lions have been admitted to California rehab centers… For now, it’s too soon to say… if the sea lion pups are heralding the demise of something else beneath the waves.

San Jose Mercury News, Feb 12, 2015: Sea lions desperate for nourishment dying off in alarming numbers on California coast… in what’s alarmingly become a third year of massive sea lion pup dieoffs. And if the trend continues, marine biologists warn, it could deplete an entire generation

Daily Breeze, Jan 19, 2015: Scientists are still investigating possible causes for the… “unusual mortality event” in 2013… it was believed as many as two-thirds of the sea lion pup population off the coast was wiped out.*

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Feb 1, 2015: In 2013 only 30 percent [of sea lion pups] survived.*

OC Register, Jan 27, 2015: [In 2012] there was no sign of a problem. A year later, nearly 70 percent of the newborns had died*… [In 2013, Sharon Melin, a NOAA wildlife biologist] recorded pups at only half their previous weights [and] last September, the weights were down again… [Melin had] another research trip out last month. But the skinny pups had only gained 4 pounds… “We’ve told the centers to prepare for the worst,” she said.

San Diego Union Tribune, Jan 27, 2015: Scientists [are in] fear… based not only on what they have encountered in recent weeks but also the early warning signs… Pups in the Channel Island rookeries were about 19 percent below average weight in September… Nearly one out of three pups born last summer have died.**

San Diego Ch. 6, Jan 28, 2015: Nearly 1 of 3 pups born last summer have already died**

Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries: The sea lions ahve a birth rate of about 50,000 a year

* 70% of 2012-13 newborns died — 35,000 dead, based on an average of 50,000 births a year.
** 33% of 2014-15 newborns have already died — 16,667 dead, based on average birth rate.

Watch the Channel 6 broadcast here

  1. FOX San Diego: Sardines, crayfish “disappeared from Pacific Ocean… they’ve just vanished” — Marine mammals starving, struggling to survive on West Coast — Strandings in past 5 weeks already exceed what’s normally seen for an entire year — “Much larger” than anything on record (VIDEOS) February 10, 2015
  2. CBS: Officials alarmed as several types of marine mammals begin washing up in California — “Now entire coast is being affected” — “Whole population getting hit hard… a real shock to us” — Animals of all ages sick, not only newborns — “Really hard to wrap our heads around what’s happening” (VIDEO) February 2, 2015
  3. Marine mammal strandings shatter records on West Coast — 10 times worse than they’ve ever seen before — Expert: “3 years of babies have crashed & burned… doesn’t make sense that they’re fine, then all of a sudden 3 years in a row, they’re not” (VIDEO)February 5, 2015
  4. NBC: Record level of sick or injured California seals and sea lions turning up — “The numbers are extraordinary” — “Scientists worried… The worst kind of perfect storm” — Pups should be weighing 2 or 3 times as much, “severely malnourished” (VIDEO) April 18, 2014
  5. TV: “Animals basically dying on our beaches” along West Coast — “New, worse calamity seems to be unfolding” — Experts: “Like walking skeletons”; “So hungry they gnaw on rocks”; “Skin hanging off”; “Extremely unusual… maybe the fish have all left”; “Prepare for the worst” (VIDEOS) February 1, 2015

Netanyahu’s Dance with the US Congress

Netanyahu’s illusory peace plan: Israel cornered on every front

It looks like a measure of hollow desperation – Israel, left out in the cold in terms of isolating Iran, and finding itself looking like the mad hermit wondering if its days are numbered in the self-constructed asylum of life.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking more like a lone wolf diplomat (the more civil-minded ones might suggest that instead of terrorist) in search of an audience, and he is hoping to get it with his poorly engineered address to the US Congress.  It’s all about Iran, dammit, and they are the problem at which fingers are being pointed at.

Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, recently retired of the Congregation of Adath Jeshurun, a conservative synagogue based in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, is far from pleased.  As are many in his congregation.  “Most of the Jews I’ve spoken to, who are very concerned with the welfare of the state of Israel, are not comfortable with Netanyahu speaking to Congress, especially not in the way it’s being done.”[1]

Others also see nuisance, and plain old trouble.  Leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, deemed the most liberal and largest Jewish denomination in North America; Seymour Reich, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, have all raised their concerns (The Guardian, Feb 15).  From a “circus”, Israel’s position, argued Foxman, had to be restated as that of a sober, cautious adult – “that this was not what we intended”.[2]

Publications such as Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent (Jan 28) see Netanyahu’s gesture as far from helpful.  “What is,” the editorial asks, “the most prudent way to proceed with Iran at this juncture?”  Netanyahu and those in Congress sympathetic to his case argue that the stick of sanctions is far better, a bruising policy to convince.  Rather than running, the Iranians will come to the table, eager to engage after a tactically engineered slap around.  The White House position on this is that another round of sanctions at this point will defang the entire process.

While such a paper as the Jewish Exponent is hardly friendly to Teheran’s nuclear ambitions, which it finds dangerous, it takes issue with the Netanyahu school of puerile barnstorming.  “At this junction, a very public spat with the Obama administration does no one good, least of all Israel. President Barack Obama will remain in office for the next two years, and Israel needs his continued support.”

On the other hand, one has figures such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, encouraging a cheery turnout to the Congressional bash when the Israeli leader descends. For Wiesel, the problem with Netanyahu’s attention-seeking tour are less significant than a nuclear Iran which would be the grand advert for genocide.   The fiends that would entertain Israel’s destruction are age-old, be it that “wicked man in Persia named Haman” who suggested that, “It is not in our interests to tolerate [the Jews]” to “modern Persia” and the Ayatollah Khamenei, who declares that the “annihilation and destruction” of Israel is a paramount goal of Iran.

All other problems follow, and here, Wiesel’s isolation of institutionalised anti-Semitic wickedness finds form in that of a pimping service for Bibi’s cause.  “President Obama, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of Congress, I ask you – As one man who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent.”[3]

Absurdly, Wiesel suggests that members of the US Congress “put aside the politics” to listen to a PM that has only ever been one thing: a political beast who lives and breathes the craft, using a distinct demonology to target his enemies while stirring the pot of instability.  Politics is also very much part of the mix in inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress to begin with, a crude chess game that masquerades as balance and a fair hearing.  House Speaker John Boehner, ever happy to rib the Obama White House, is playing a spoiling game, economic in telling the Israelis how “bipartisan” the invitation was, while sticking his tongue out, politically speaking, at Obama.

Advocacy group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) have also joined the advertising drive coming out for Bibi.  An action alert, claimed the CUFI, “generated more than 10,000 responses” within five hours of its release.

It also appeals to that rather empty suggestion that balance is needed, and that Congress have some feted obligation to listen to a politician of another state who is insisting on conflict before progress. (Mind you, he is also insisting that US money, weapons and personnel be conscripted in the task.) The point was made by CUFI executive director David Brog: “Our elected officials have a sacred duty to listen to all views on this critical issue – including those which they may disagree – before making up their minds.”[4]

Some figures on the Democrat aisle will be cheering the Wiesel line. “A nuclear Iran is a huge threat to the United States and an existential threat to Israel,” came the broken-record line from Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).  Ergo “tougher sanctions” – the slap around treatment again – was the recipe.  But it is the GOP that is doing its best to encircle Democrat dissent, with Marco Rubio (R-FL) blustering about how, “One of our strongest ally’s prime minister wants to speak before the Congress and they won’t even attend the speech?”

Historical comparisons are always fraught with danger, as most events remain inimitable instances of exception that take place because of a range of specific factors.  The extermination fantasy, enrolled in the cause of justifying Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, is not a useful way to keep peace, let alone get Congress to fill the seats.  It presumes, however, that Teheran, the moment it acquires a nuclear capability, will happily go its vigilante way causing a conflagration in the region.

That Israel’s own belligerent fantasies aren’t deemed equivalent in their dangers – a contemplated, pre-emptive strike on Iranian military targets; the continued violations of the UN Charter to threaten another state’s sovereignty that occurs with each statement – should be a prime cause of concern for members of Congress.  This botched invitation should be put to rest, or the arena left empty.  But some Israeli politicians already have someone to blame.  For Netanyahu confidante and deputy foreign minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, it’s that rascal of few words, Boehner.  “It appears that the speaker of Congress made a move, in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one-sided move and not a move by both sides” (Forward, Feb 6).