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Israeli forces have killed 25 Palestinians since the beginning of October

 

Brzezinski’s “Retaliation” Agenda: Break Up Russia And Absorb It

By Brandon Turbeville

When the dark lord of the Anglo-American empire, Zbigniew Brzezinski, stated that the United States should retaliate against Russia as a result of the latter ruining the former’s credibility in the Middle East (which the U.S. needed no help in doing), the world got a glimpse into just how far the ruling elite is willing to take the world’s population in its quest for total hegemony.

After all, Brzezinski is no mere talking head or media mouthpiece. He is the architect of al-Qaeda and controller of much of the American geopolitical strategy. When he states that retaliation must be part of U.S. strategy, there is a very real possibility that it will be.

Indeed, in order to understand much of the U.S. geopolitical strategy at work today, it might serve us well to consult the work Brzezinski in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

It should be remembered that it was in this very book that Brzezinski uttered the famous statement that “America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation. Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.”[1]

The book, written in 1997, seemed to lament the fact that the public would not support such blatant imperialism unless they truly viewed the crusade to be in their own immediate self-interest. Only fours year later, the public would receive such a “sudden threat or challenge” to their “sense of domestic well-being” in theform of the 9/11 attacks.

In regards to Russia, Brzezinski clearly laid out his desire to see a fractured Russia, a nation that was drastically smaller in size and much weaker in terms of its governmental structure. In other words, a Russia incapable of opposing Anglo-American hegemony.

Brzezinski wrote,

Given the enormous size and diversity of the country, a decentralized political system, based on the free market, would be more likely to unleash the creative potential of both the Russian people and the country’s vast natural resources. In turn, such a more decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.[2]

Brzezinski makes it clear that the strategy towards Russia is one that involves the breakup of the country into three parts, loosely confederated, partially beholden to NATO-dominated Europe, and blended with the other powers of Asia.

He writes,

A loosely confederated Russia—composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic—would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with Europe, with the new states of Central Asia, and with the Orient, which would thereby accelerate Russia’s own development. Each of the three confederated entities would also be more able to tap local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand.[3]

Likewise, Brzezinski sees China and the greater Asian region uniting under a loosely confederal system, effectively forming the world into a realm of what is, essentially, three main trading blocks, full of impotent states and third world fiefdoms.[4]

Clearly, Russia is not going to allow itself to be destroyed and broken up into three parts for the benefit of the hegemony of world oligarchs. Yet Brzezinski’s desire are clearly the goals of the ruling elite and a plan to make them a reality is already in motion.

In order to accomplish such a task, it would require an enormous battle politically, economically, and militarily. Unfortunately for the world, it appears the ruling elite is prepared to do just that.

[1] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books. 1997. Pp. 40-41
[2] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books. 1997. Pp. 202.
[3] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books. 1997. Pp. 202-203.
[4] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books. 1997.

US Officials Consider Nuclear Strikes Against Russia

By Niles Williamson

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is meeting today at the headquarters of the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany with two dozen US military commanders and European diplomats to discuss how to escalate their economic and military campaign against Russia. They will assess the impact of current economic sanctions, as well as NATO’s strategy of exploiting the crisis in eastern Ukraine to deploy ever-greater numbers of troops and military equipment to Eastern Europe, threatening Russia with war.

A US defense official told Reuters that the main purpose of the meeting was to “assess and strategize on how the United States and key allies should think about heightened tensions with Russia over the past year.” The official also said Carter was open to providing the Ukrainian regime with lethal weapons, a proposal which had been put forward earlier in the year.

Most provocatively, a report published by the Associated Press yesterday reports that the Pentagon has been actively considering the use of nuclear missiles against military targets inside Russia, in response to what it alleges are violations of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia denies US claims that it has violated the INF by flight-testing ground-launched cruise missiles with a prohibited range.

Three options being considered by the Pentagon are the placement of anti-missile defenses in Europe aimed at shooting Russian missiles out of the sky; a “counterforce” option that would involve pre-emptive non-nuclear strikes on Russia military sites; and finally, “countervailing strike capabilities,” involving the pre-emptive deployment of nuclear missiles against targets inside Russia.

The AP states: “The options go so far as one implied—but not stated explicitly—that would improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory.” In other words, the US is actively preparing nuclear war against Russia.

Robert Scher, one of Carter’s nuclear policy aides, told Congress in April that the deployment of “counterforce” measures would mean “we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.”

According to other Pentagon officials, this option would entail the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles throughout Europe.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Skewers told AP, “All the options under consideration are designed to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from their violation.”

The criminality and recklessness of the foreign policy of Washington and its NATO allies is staggering. A pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russian forces, many of them near populated areas, could claim millions of lives in seconds and lead to a nuclear war that would obliterate humanity. Even assuming that the US officials threatening Russia do not actually want such an outcome, however, and that they are only trying to intimidate Moscow, there is a sinister objective logic to such threats.

Nuclear warmongering by US officials immensely heightens the danger of all-out war erupting accidentally, amid escalating military tensions and strategic uncertainty. NATO forces are deploying for military exercises all around Russia, from the Arctic and Baltic Seas to Eastern Europe and the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Regional militaries are all on hair-trigger alerts.

US officials threatening Russia cannot know how the Kremlin will react to such threats. With Moscow concerned about the danger of a sudden NATO strike, Russia is ever more likely to respond to perceived signs of NATO military action by launching its missiles, fearing that otherwise the missiles will be destroyed on the ground. The danger of miscalculations and miscommunications leading to all-out war is immensely heightened.

The statements of Scher and Carter confirm warnings made last year by the WSWS, that NATO’s decision to back a fascist-led putsch in Kiev in February, and to blame Russia without any evidence for shooting down flight MH17, posed the risk of war. “Are you ready for war—including possibly nuclear war—between the United States, Europe, and Russia? That is the question that everyone should be asking him- or herself in light of the developments since the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17,” the WSWS wrote .

In March, Putin stated that he had placed Russian forces, including its nuclear forces, on alert in the aftermath of the Kiev putsch, fearing a NATO attack on Russia. Now the threat of war arising from US policy has been confirmed directly by statements of the US military.

These threats have developed largely behind the backs of the world working class. Workers in the United States, Europe and worldwide have time and again shown their hostility to US wars in Iraq or in Afghanistan. Yet nearly 15 years after these wars began, the world stands on the brink of an even bloodier and more devastating conflict, and the media and ruling elites the world over are hiding the risk of nuclear war.

US President Barack Obama is expected to escalate pressure on Russia at the G7 summit this weekend, pressing European leaders to maintain economic sanctions put in place in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year. The latest outbreak in violence in Ukraine this week, which the US blames on Russia, is to serve as a pretext for continuing the sanctions.

Speaking to Parliament on Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned of a “colossal threat of the resumption of large-scale hostilities by Russian and terrorist forces.” He claimed without proof that 9,000 Russian soldiers are deployed in rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s military should be ready for a new offensive by the enemy, as well as a full-scale invasion along the entire border with the Russian Federation,” Poroshenko said. “We must be really prepared for this.” He said the Ukrainian army had at least 50,000 soldiers stationed in the east, prepared to defend the country.

Poroshenko’s remarks came a day after renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine between Kiev forces and Russian-backed separatists resulted in dozens of casualties. This week’s fighting marked the largest breach to date of the cease-fire signed in February.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Russia believed the previous day’s hostilities had been provoked by Kiev to influence upcoming discussions at the G7 summit this weekend and the EU summit in Brussels at the end of the month. “These provocative actions are organized by Ukraine’s military forces, and we are concerned with that,” he stated.

Each side blamed the other for initiating fighting in Marinka, approximately nine miles west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. Yuriy Biryukov, an adviser to Poroshenko, reported on Thursday that five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the fighting, and another 39 wounded. Eduard Basurin, deputy defense minister and spokesman for the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), told Interfax that 16 rebel fighters and five civilians had been killed.

Ukrainian forces also fired artillery at the rebel-held city of Donetsk on Wednesday. Shells landed in the southwest districts of Kirovsky and Petrovsky, killing 6 people and wounding at least 90 others. The city’s Sokol market was severely damaged, with several rows of shops burned to the ground.

Responding to Wednesday’s developments, members of the fascistic Right Sector militia have been called to mobilize for battle. Andrey Stempitsky, commander of the militia’s paramilitary battalion, posted a message on Facebook calling on those who went home during the cease-fire to “return to their combat units.” He warned that the Right Sector would “wage war, ignoring the truce devotees.

“We Are In a Revolutionary Moment”: Chris Hedges Explains Why An Uprising Is Coming — And Soon

The status quo is doomed but whether the future will be progressive or reactionary is uncertain, Hedges tells Salon

In recent years, there’s been a small genre of left-of-center journalism that, following President Obama’s lead, endeavors to prove that things on Planet Earth are not just going well, but have, in fact, never been better. This is an inherently subjective claim, of course; it requires that one buy into the idea of human progress, for one thing. But no matter how it was framed, there’s at least one celebrated leftist activist, author and journalist who’d disagree: Chris Hedges.

In fact, in his latest book, “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” Hedges argues that the world is currently at a crisis point the likes of which we’ve never really seen. There are similarities between our time and the era of the 1848 revolutions throughout Europe — or the French Revolutionary era that preceded them — he says. But in many ways, climate change least among them, the stakes this time are much higher. According to Hedges, a revolution is coming; we just don’t yet know when, where, how — or on whose behalf.

Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Hedges to discuss his book, why he thinks our world is in for some massive disruptions, and why we need revolutionaries now more than ever. A transcript of our conversation which has been edited for clarity and length can be found below.

Do you think we are in a revolutionary era now? Or is it more something on the horizon?

It’s with us already, but with this caveat: it is what Gramsci calls interregnum, this period where the ideas that buttress the old ruling elite no longer hold sway, but we haven’t articulated something to take its place.

That’s what that essay I quote by Alexander Berkman, “The Invisible Revolution,” talks about. He likens it to a pot that’s beginning to boil. So it’s already taking place, although it’s subterranean. And the facade of power — both the physical facade of power and the ideological facade of power — appears to remain intact. But it has less and less credibility.

There are all sorts of neutral indicators that show that. Low voter turnout, the fact that Congress has an approval rating of 7 percent, that polls continually reflect a kind of pessimism about where we are going, that many of the major systems that have been set in place — especially in terms of internal security — have no popularity at all.

All of these are indicators that something is seriously wrong, that the government is no longer responding to the most basic concerns, needs, and rights of the citizenry. That is [true for the] left and right. But what’s going to take it’s place, that has not been articulated. Yes, we are in a revolutionary moment; but maybe it’s a better way to describe it as a revolutionary process.

Is there a revolutionary consciousness building in America?

Well, it is definitely building. But until there is an ideological framework that large numbers of people embrace to challenge the old ideological framework, nothing is going to happen. Some things can happen; you can have sporadic uprisings as you had in Ferguson or you had in Baltimore. But until they are infused with that kind of political vision, they are reactive, in essence.

So you have, every 28 hours, a person of color, usually a poor person of color, being killed with lethal force — and, of course, in most of these cases they are unarmed. So people march in the streets and people protest; and yet the killings don’t stop. Even when they are captured on video. I mean we have videos of people being murdered by the police and the police walk away. This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power.

We have, to quote John Ralston Saul, “undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion” and it’s over. The normal mechanisms by which we carry out incremental and piecemeal reform through liberal institutions no longer function. They have been seized by corporate power — including the press. That sets the stage for inevitable blowback, because these corporations have no internal constraints, and now they have no external constraints. So they will exploit, because, as Marx understood, that’s their nature, until exhaustion or collapse.

What do you think is the most likely way that the people will respond to living in these conditions?

That is the big unknown. When it will come is unknown. What is it that will trigger it is unknown. You could go back and look at past uprisings, some of which I covered — I covered all the revolutions in Eastern Europe; I covered the two Palestinian uprisings; I covered the street demonstrations that eventually brought down Slobodan Milosevic — and it’s usually something banal.

As a reporter, you know that it’s there; but you never know what will ignite it. So you have Lenin, six weeks before the revolution, in exile in Switzerland, getting up and saying, We who are old will never live to see the revolution. Even the purported leaders of the opposition never know when it’s coming. Nor do they know what will trigger it.

What kind of person engages in revolutionary activity? Is there a specific type?

There are different types, but they have certain characteristics in common. That’s why I quote theologian Reinhold Niebuhr when he talks about “sublime madness.”

I think that sublime madness — James Baldwin writes it’s not so much that [revolutionaries] have a vision, it’s that they are possessed by it. I think that’s right. They are often difficult, eccentric personalities by nature, because they are stepping out front to confront a system of power [in a way that is] almost a kind of a form of suicide. But in moments of extremity, these rebels are absolutely key; and that you can’t pull off seismic change without them.

You’ve said that we don’t know where the change will comefrom,and that it could just as easily take a right-wing, reactionary form as a leftist one. Is there anything lefties can do to influence the outcome? Or is it out of anyone’s control?

There’s so many events as societies disintegrate that you can’t predict. They play such a large part in shaping how a society goes that there is a lot of it that is not in your control.

For example, if you compare the breakdown of Yugoslavia with the breakdown of Czechoslovakia — and I covered both of those stories — Yugoslavia was actually the Eastern European country best-equipped to integrate itself into Europe. But Yugoslavia went bad. When the economy broke down and Yugoslavia was hit with horrific hyperinflation, it vomited up these terrifying figures in the same way that Weimar vomited up the Nazi party. Yugoslavia tore itself to pieces.

If things unravel [in the U.S.], our backlash may very well be a rightwing backlash — a very frightening rightwing backlash. We who care about populist movements [on the left] are very weak, because in the name of anti-communism these movements have been destroyed; we are almost trying to rebuild them from scratch. We don’t even have the language to describe the class warfare that is being unleashed upon us by this tiny, rapacious, oligarchic elite. But we on the left are very disorganized, unfocused, and without resources.

In terms of  a left-wing populism having to build itself back up from scratch, do you see the broad coalition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a hint of what that might look like? Or would you not go that far?

No, I would.

I think that if you look at what’s happened after Occupy, it’s either spawned or built alliances with a series of movements; whether it’s #BlackLivesMatter, whether it’s the Fight for $15 campaign, whether it’s challenging the TPP. I think they are all interconnected and, often times — at least when I’m with those activists — there is a political consciousness that I find quite mature.

Are you optimistic about the future?

I covered war for 20 years; we didn’t use terms like pessimist or optimist, because if you were overly optimistic, it could get you killed. You really tried to read the landscape as astutely as you could and then take calculated risks based on the reality around you, or at least on the reality insofar as you could interpret it. I kind of bring that mentality out of war zones.

If we are not brutal about diagnosing what we are up against, then all of our resistance is futile. If we think that voting for Hillary Clinton … is really going to make a difference, then I would argue we don’t understand corporate power and how it works. If you read the writings of anthropologists, there are studies about how civilizations break down; and we are certainly following that pattern. Unfortunately, there’s nothing within human nature to argue that we won’t go down the ways other civilizations have gone down. The difference is now, of course, that when we go down, the whole planet is going to go with us.

Yet you rebel not only for what you can achieve, but for who you become. In the end, those who rebel require faith — not a formal or necessarily Christian, Jewish or Muslim orthodoxy, but a faith that the good draws to it the good. That we are called to carry out the good insofar as we can determine what the good is; and then we let it go. The Buddhists call it karma, but faith is the belief that it goes somewhere. By standing up, you keep alive another narrative. It’s one of the ironic points of life. That, for me, is what provides hope; and if you are not there, there is no hope at all.

Blackwater Guard Sentenced to Life in Prison for Role in Notorious 2007 Massacre

Three other former Iraq military contractors receive 30-year prison terms

This combination made from file photo shows convicted former Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. (Photo: AP)This combination made from file photo shows convicted former Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. (Photo: AP)

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison for his role in a 2007 attack on Iraqi civilians, which left 14 dead and wounded 17 others.

The Associated Press reports that the three other Blackwater employees—Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard—were sentenced to 30 years and one day each on charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.

Earlier:

Four former Blackwater guards face sentencing Monday for their role in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians during a 2007 massacre called “Baghdad’s bloody Sunday.”

The men, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Nicholas Slatten, were convicted in October 2014 after years of legal battles. “Slatten faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for first-degree murder before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth,” the Washington Post reports; the other three men face the possibility of dozens of years behind bars.

While defense lawyers have argued that the men were acting in self-defense, federal prosecutors wrote that the men’s “crimes here were so horrendous—the massacre and maiming of innocents so heinous—that they outweigh any factors that the defendants may argue form a basis for leniency.”

In an interview with Democracy Now! last year, Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestsellingBlackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, described the deadly traffic square shooting that left 17 people killed:

[Blackwater guards] were responding—they were a unit called Raven 23. They were the elite Praetorian Guard of the U.S. occupation. They were guarding Paul Bremer, who was the original sort of proconsul in Iraq, the “viceroy,” as he liked to call himself. They were responding to an incident that had occurred on the opposite end of Baghdad from where their base was located. They roll out. They end up hitting a crowded intersection at Nisour Square. What often would happen in Iraq is that mercenary contractors would start throwing frozen water bottles at cars, trying to force them off the street, and then eventually escalate up to shooting at vehicles. These guys basically tried to take over this traffic circle, the Blackwater guys, so that they could speed around and continue on to their destination.

A small white car with a young Iraqi medical student and his mother didn’t stop fast enough for the Blackwater convoy, and they decided to escalate it all the way up to assassinating those individuals. And I say “assassinating,” because they shot to kill these people, and then they blew their car up. And then, that started this massive shooting spree that went on for—it was sustained for minutes. And at the end of it, 17 Iraqis were killed, including a nine-year-old boy named Ali Kinani, whose story we’ve told on the show before, and some 20 others were wounded in the attacks. And it was—you know, it became known as Baghdad’s “Bloody Sunday.”

And Blackwater… in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, said that they had been fired upon. They had their allies in the media. A senior producer at CNN was quick to get on TV and say, “Oh, no, no, this wasn’t a massacre. You know, this was a firefight, and Blackwater was shot at.” Clearly, this jury saw what the Iraqi eyewitnesses have always contended, and that is that this was an unprovoked massacre of Iraqi civilians, none of whom were posing a threat, except not stopping fast enough for the mercenaries helping to occupy their country.

As Common Dreams previously reported, “the incident became a flashpoint of outrage over the atrocities that U.S. forces—particularly mercenaries—inflict on occupied civilian populations in Iraq.”

The Post reports Monday: “Defendants said that the case is the first in which the U.S. government prosecuted its own security contractors for the firearms violation, which involve weapons given them by the government to do their jobs in a war zone.”

Scahill wrote following the guilty convictions that they marked yet another instance in which high-ranking individuals failed to be the targets for accountability.

“Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. [Blackwater founder Erik] Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries.

“None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors,” Scahill wrote.

When Being Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli Is the Same Thing

On why I painted physician, author, and peace activist Alice Rothchild

rothschild.jpgPortrait of Alice Rothschild by Robert Shetterly. (Credit: AmericansWhoTelltheTruth.org)

Editor’s note: The artist’s essay that follows accompanies the ‘online unveiling’—exclusive to Common Dreams—of Shetterly’s latest painting in his “Americans Who Tell the Truth” portrait series, presenting citizens throughout U.S. history who have courageously engaged in the social, environmental, or economic issues of their time. This painting of Alice Rothschild—a physician, author, filmmaker, and peace activist—is his latest portrait of those who dedicated their lives to equality, freedom and justice. Posters of this portrait and others are now available at the artist’s website.

I found that for many, publicly stating that Jews could be victimizers as well as victims, and that Palestinians are equally human and deeply hurting, is unthinkable and a betrayal of Jewish loyalty and identity. This Jewish denial combined with the increasing brutality of the Israeli occupation is made possible by keeping Palestinians invisible as fellow human beings. —Dr. Alice Rothchild

For making statements like the quote above, Alice Rothchild has been called a self-hating Jew. When non-Jews express similar thoughts, they are often called anti-Semitic. Both epithets are meant to intimidate the speakers from naming the brutal truth of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the truth of the history that lead to that occupation. Unless we name those truths, we are being complicit not only with the destruction of Palestine but also of Israel.

The reality of anti-Semitism’s long and sinister history should not forbid criticism of Israel’s illegal or unjust policies. Dr. Rothchild emphasizes that for Israel to insist on its right to perpetrate injustice against the Palestinians is to encourage the very anti-Semitism and hatred that endangers Israel.

Dr. Rothchild approaches the Israel/ Palestine conflict with compassion for both sides, knowing that both peoples have suffered great trauma, and also knowing that truth and justice are the the only means to ultimately heal the trauma and make peace possible.

She wants human rights for both sides and the freedom to live lives based in justice, not fear: “We believe that for Israelis to be safe and secure, Palestinians need to be safe and secure, that to be ‘pro-Palestinian’ or ‘pro-Israeli’ is an artificial distinction.”

Alice feels compelled to speak out as a human being who cares about justice anywhere, as a Jewish person, and as an American because the US has for so long enabled the occupation.

Alice Rothchild was born in Boston in 1948, the same year as the founding of Israel, a time celebrated by Jewish people all over the worldtheir return to the Promised Land. 1948 is, however, commemorated as the Nakba by Palestinians. Nakba means catastrophe, forced exile from their Promised land. Alice was raised in an Orthodox, Zionist family. Her mother Sylvia wrote a book of oral histories of survivors of the Holocaust. As a child Alice’s family took her to Israel to experience the jubilant energy of the Jewish state. No one suggested to her that the triumph of Israel had a dark side.

Alice studied psychology at Bryn Mawr in the late 1960s and then went on to the School of Medicine at Boston University. At both schools she participated in anti-Vietnam War protests and then became active in feminism and health care reform. While she became a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist on the staff of Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) she held an appointment at Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. She also spent much of her time helping to establish reproductive clinics for poor and underserved women.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Dr. Rothchild began to study the origins of the Israel/Palestine issue, the role of US foreign policy in perpetrating it, how AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) was using money and intimidation to attempt to control US politics towards Israel, and how different the Palestinian narrative of this history was from the version reported by the mainstream American media. A major question for her was trying to understand how a people, the Jews, revered for their sense of justice and their sacrifices for upholding issues of justice could so systematically deny justice to the Palestinians. She says, “Jewish Israelis are often immigrants and have had the experience of oppression, ghettos, and racial hatred at the hands of dominant anti-Semitic societies. How have these Israelis moved to a place where they are able to do some of the same terrible things that were done to them?”

To answer questions like that Dr. Rothchild has written two books: Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Israeli and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience and On the Brink, written in the summer of 2014 while she was in the West Bank during the events leading up to a devastating Israeli attack on Gaza. She has also produced the documentaryVoices Across the Divide. Her goal in the books and the film is not to condemn but to understand, to look unflinchingly at the behavior of the Israeli government and compassionately seek its roots in fear and trauma.

Why is this issue important to the ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’ project? So much of US history and its accumulation of power is tangled up with exploitation and racism. It’s very disturbing to see these same injustices being supported by the US in Israel, where we seem willing yet again to trade our ideals for “interests.” Some of those interests are about hegemony, some about economics. Much of the 3.2 billion dollars given every year to Israel constitutes some form of corporate welfare to US weapons manufacturers.

US taxpayer money is allocated with the understanding that it will be used to buy US weapons. And to keep this gravy train rolling along, American war industries lobby the U.S. government as tirelessly as AIPAC to continue policies that lead to huge profits.

But our involvement represents an opportunity. Because the US interests and economy are so intertwined with Israel’s, the US is in a uniquely powerful position to influence Israel’s policy toward Palestine. Dr. Rothchild’s work with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement through Jewish Voice for Peace and American Jews for a Just Peace is about harnessing the power of American citizens to affect U.S. policy.

I traveled last springand will return next monthto the West Bank to work on art projects in a refugee camp in Nablus and a small Palestinian agricultural village in the Jordan Valley scheduled for demolition by the Israelis. Once there, one cannot help but see the ugly face of the occupation: the mammoth indignity of the separation Wall, the steady encroachment of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the appropriation of Palestinian water and resources, the omnipresent military checkpoints, the house demolitions, the constant humiliations. All of this being done with the help of U.S. weapons and equipment. But most of all is the overriding clarity that there is not now nor has there ever been any desire for or possibility of a Palestinian state. When Netanyahu said recently that he had no intention of allowing a two state solution, many people in the US were shocked. But, in fact, that has been the policy all along. The “peace process” has been a mirage manipulated by the Israelis to defuse criticism. And the U.S. has played magician’s assistant in pretending the mirage was real.

Dr. Alice Rothchild is one of the people who have courageously and eloquently insisted on putting our ideals before our interests. When power and control are more important than justice and compassion, we lose all right to the moral high ground. Without Dr. Rothchild, we might not be able to even identify where that high ground is. ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’ is very proud to include her courageous voice in it’s project.

The quote on her portrait says: “Where are the protests from political organizations, the cries of horror from U.S. ministers as well as rabbis and mainstream Jewish community groups who cry ‘Never again!’ Surely history will teach us that Israel cannot claim a special moral dispensation because of past suffering, and then behave immorally. Misusing the term anti-Semitism to characterize criticism of Israeli behavior ultimately renders the term meaningless.”

The Secrets of Sugar

The Secrets of Sugar

For many of us, sugar provides an instant feeling of warmth and comfort. We identify it as an essential component of great tasting foods, and of blissful culinary gratification. Its presence is unavoidable, even in foods that promise higher levels of nutritional value. In many corners of the globe, the human desire for sugar seems unquenchable. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find an addiction more commonplace than the one we experience for sugar. But it’s an addiction that could be killing us in record numbers.

The documentary titled The Secrets of Sugar examines this addiction and its perilous impact on the well-being of our global society. Extensive research has pinpointed sugar’s culpability in a number of our most common and life-threatening ailments, including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The weight loss craze which began taking shape in the 1980’s originated as an attack against fat. Yet, even in a climate where the public enjoys unprecedented access to low or no-fat foods, the rates of damaging disease remain alarmingly high. “Which is worse: the sugar or the fat? The sugar, a thousand times over,” asserts Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist who serves as one of the film’s key interview subjects. In his view, sugar is a poison and serves as a recipe of destruction for people of all ages. As a leading crusader against the dangers of sugar, Dr. Lustig faces an uphill battle in altering existing practices within the food industry and educating an unsuspecting public who falls prey to their tactics.

According to the observations presented in The Secrets of Sugar, these tactics include ambiguous or misleading nutrition labels, fuzzy science, and the mounting of an advertising campaign unmatched in scale even by the likes of the tobacco industry.

Without a change in public consciousness, the prevalence of sugar in our daily diets threatens to heighten disease epidemics to an even greater degree, and may eventually lead to the bankruptcy of the entire healthcare system within the United States and Canada. By exploring an issue that too often remains obscured, The Secrets of Sugar seeks to ignite a movement among its viewers to rectify this disturbing trend before it’s too late.

 

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