MintPress News

MintPress News
5 Apr 2024 | 7:51 pm

1. Quds Day Rallies in Yemen Intensify Amid Biden’s Strategic Shift


On International Quds Day, when protests are held around the world to show solidarity with Palestinians, Yemenis are once again at the forefront of worldwide solidarity with Gaza. Yemenis of all stripes took to the streets in unprecedented numbers on Friday to demonstrate their support for Palestine as well as Ansar Allah's (Houthis) Red Sea operation against Israeli, American and British ships until the war in Gaza is stopped and the blockade is lifted. This year's protests came as the Biden Administration embarked upon new moves aimed at Yemen's Central Bank in a bid to pressure Ansar Allah to stop targeting Israeli ships.

The annual event, which falls annually on the last Friday of every Ramadan and sees rallies held across the globe in support of the Palestinian cause, is especially meaningful this year as Israel's war against Gaza rages on. With the largest rallies taking place in Yemen's capital city of Sana'a, over 130 cities and squares throughout Yemen filled hundreds of thousands on Friday carrying Palestinians, Yemen and Lebanese Hezbollah flags and carrying banners blaming the United States for the ongoing war in Gaza.

The collective voice of the demonstrations was unified to renew their commitment to Palestinians, to stress that the Palestine issue is the most important to Yemen, that Yemen must take the initiative to liberate it whatever the cost and to call on Muslims around the world to boycott Israeli products.

On March 26, the head of Yemen's Supreme Political Council reaffirmed in a ceremony in Sana'a on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the Saudi-led war on Yemen that the country's maritime operations in the Red Sea against Israeli-linked ships will only cease when Tel Aviv's crimes in Gaza stop, "The only way to stop Yemen's operations is to stop genocide and violence against the oppressed people of Gaza," he said.

 

This year, a new significance

Friday's protests were unique as they not only attracted crowds from across Yemen's diverse political and social spectrums: Shafi'i, Zaydi, Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood, but also thousands of former allies of the Saudi-led coalition, who put down arms and joined Ansar Allah following the party's reaction to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and U.S. support for Tel Aviv.

"By God Almighty, it is an honor to be in AlSabeen Square for supporting Gaza. I deeply regret the past days in which I was on the side of the U.S. allies," protester Ahmed Mohamed Binh told MintPress. Binh was one of the leaders of the Saudi-led coalition in Marib and a staunch opponent of Ansar Allah. Yet, he returned to Sana'a after announcing that he had joined Ansar Allah because of their support for Gaza. Today, he is one of the most vocal advocates for commemorating Al-Quds Day in Sana'a.

Yemen Palestinians Israel
Masses of Yemenis mark Jerusalem Day (Al-Quds Day), in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, April 5, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP

Ironically, the aggression against Gaza and the American participation in the ongoing massacres have made Yemenis more united than ever while increasing the popularity of Ansar Allah not only in Yemen but across the world. Activists, jurists and politicians have applauded and described them as heroes trying to stop genocide in Gaza. This is despite nine years and billions of dollars spent by Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and the U.S. to contain Ansar Allah.

This year's Quds Day rallies fall three days after a pro-Palestine conference titled "Palestine the Central Cause of the Nation" was held in Sana'a. The four-day conference discussed the Quranic vision of the Palestinian cause, the struggle of Yemenis in Palestine throughout history, the importance of economic boycotts, and Yemen's political, military, and popular role in supporting Gaza.

Participants from around the world who stand in solidarity with Palestine joined the conference remotely. On the first day, televised speeches were delivered by British politician and parliamentarian George Galloway, Russian philosopher and advisor to President Vladimir Putin Aleksandr Dugin, South African parliamentarian Zulivlele Mandela – grandson of late South African leader Nelson Mandela and Indian writer and political activist Tushar Gandhi, grandson of the spiritual leader of India Mahatma Gandhi. Representing Cuba was Elida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara.

The conference comes as Ansar Allah is making preparations to host leaders of Palestinian resistance movements, particularly leaders from Hamas, in the event that they are expelled from Qatar due to American pressure.

 

Taking the war to the bank

The demonstrations were not just aimed at the Palestine issue. They challenged the U.S. role in Yemen, most recently attempts by the Biden Administration to force Yemeni banks to relocate their headquarters from the capital, Sana'a (where Ansar Allah is based), to Aden, home to a number of groups allied with the U.S. On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Aden, run by Washington's allies, issued a decision requiring banks to transfer their headquarters to Aden, threatening to implement the Anti-Terrorist Financing Law against any bank that violates the decision.

The decision used the U.S. classification of Ansar Allah as a terrorist organization to justify the move, which allegedly came in response to a new 100 riyal coin issued by the Sana'a Central Bank to replace damaged 100 riyal bills. However, the justification is inconsistent with the decision of the Central Bank in Aden. The new currency issued by the Central Bank in Sana'a did not affect exchange rates. Economists have confirmed that it is not new money being created, but rather a substitute for damaged banknotes, and therefore, the banking system was not affected.

Abdul-Malik al-Ajr, a negotiator for the Yemeni delegation, said of the move, "What occurred was the normal process of replacing damaged currency, not printing a new one. This is a normal procedure that all governments carry out periodically, but because of the war and the siege, Yemen was unable to replace this damaged currency, and it became a problem for many residents, especially in grocery stores, taxis, public transportation, bakeries and water stations."

Following the announcement of the new coin, citizens flocked to exchange points set up by the Central Bank in Sana'a. The currency was minted according to international standards, and the process of issuing it will not affect the exchange rates because its distribution will depend on replacing the damaged one by replacing each damaged 100 note with a 100 coin," the Central Bank in Sana'a said in a statement.

Ansar Alla's spokesperson, Muhammed Abdul Salam, said of the move, "Printing a one hundred riyal coin is not in vain, but rather a necessary step taken as a substitute for a damaged paper currency. We wonder why America and European countries are upset as a result of what the Central Bank of Yemen has done in partially addressing the situation of the national currency, which has been subjected and is [stll] being subjected to a brutal war by the coalition and by America itself."

Ymenis protest marking Jerusalem Day in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, April 5, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP

Yemeni financial experts told MintPress that the United States Agency for International Development recently supervised the development of new systems for the Central Bank in Aden, including the "Unified National Network," a financial transfer system. The Central Bank in Aden has asked banks, exchange companies, and transfer companies to join that system exclusively. For the U.S., this means that it will be able to access financial and banking data and financial transfers.

Al-Tadamum Bank, the Bank of Yemen and Kuwait, the Al-Amal Microfinance Bank, the Shamil Bank of Yemen and Bahrain, and the Al-Kuraimi Islamic Microfinance Bank, which together comprise over 80% of Yemen's bank accounts, have already joined the Unified National Network.

The decision by the Biden administration to designate Ansar Allah as a "Global Terrorist group" has already harmed thousands of Yemeni families, as many international banks, exchange shops, and firms have already ceased participating in commercial or financial transactions with Yemenis due to the fear of triggering U.S. sanctions. Nearly 80% of Yemenis live in areas under AnsarAllah's control, including the country's capital, Sana'a'a and the major port of al-Hodeida. Consequently, the U.S. economic pressure will inevitably push more Yemeni civilians closer to famine.

Feature photo | A Yemeni man holds a poster of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas, during a protest marking Quds Day in support of Palestinians in Gaza, Sanaa, Yemen, April 05, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana'a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Quds Day Rallies in Yemen Intensify Amid Biden's Strategic Shift appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
5 Apr 2024 | 3:40 pm

2. Israel’s Celebrity Charm Offensive: The Truth Behind the Glamorous Trips


Since Israel launched a war on Gaza in October, it's been accused of genocide, been on trial for war crimes, and seen allies stop approving weapons shipments. Yet amid the storm of negative press and genocidal war, some organizations are attempting to shift the narrative in Israel's favor by taking celebrities and social media influencers on propaganda-fueled trips to Israel.

According to the Israeli newspaper Globes, the Maccabee Task Force (MTF) and Rova Media are the organizations working to send celebrities to Israel. Israeli television production company Eight Productions helps document the trips for media purposes.

"We're in contact with the IDF [Israeli military] and the hostage families, and also with the president of Israel and former prime minister Naftali Bennett. We simply produce the content together with the visiting celebrities, the whole goal being for them to come here and be our ambassadors to the world," Eight Productions' owner,  Dafna Danenberg, told Globes.

Eight Productions confirmed to MintPress News that MTF and Rova Media fund the trips.

It turns out the organization that has been bringing celebrities such as Noah Schnapp, Nikita Dragun, Michael Rapaport, Scooter Braun, Tiffany Haddish, and Debra Messing on propaganda trips to Israel is the Maccabee Task Force, a right-wing Israel advocacy group.

— Josh Kadish (@kadish_josh) March 18, 2024

 

Who is going on these trips?

The list of celebrities who've toured with MTF includes Nathaniel Buzolic, Michael Rapaport, Debra Messing, Scooter Braun, James Maslow, Montana Tucker, Guy Nattiv, Eve Barlow, Lee Kern, Kosha Dillz and Matisyahu.

Even before the war, MTF was sending celebrities to Israel, but according to one of MTF's media directors, Uriel Dison, these trips were less politically charged.

"But now we don't bring people to travel around," Dison told Globes. "They have to come and see with their own eyes the results of the war and become sort of wartime ambassadors."

Dison added that it was challenging to convince high-profile individuals to come to Israel, but after a few trips, his "phone is bursting with requests from people. Influencers connect us to other influencers and celebrities to other celebrities, so it's self-perpetuating."

Rova Media hasn't disclosed who it's sending to Israel, only mentioning to Globes that "there are journalists, social media influencers, artists, and more."

However, according to their social media accounts, they've partnered with social media influencer Caroline D'Amore to produce content in Israel and hosted Aboriginal Australian athlete and former politician Nova Peris and social media influencer Brooke Bello in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, the agency documented American singer Tucker's trip.

 

MTF and Rova Media didn't respond to requests for comment on these tours.

 

Who is behind the campaign?

Rova Media was founded in October 2023 by Dan Luxenberg and actor Buzolic with support from BZ Media to shape Israel's image as the war began. The organization's Facebook page was created on October 27, 2023.

Buzolic, who is a born-again Christian, has frequently traveled to Israel throughout the years and explained to the Times of Israel his mission with Rova Media:

My next-door neighbors, who are Lebanese and Palestinian, tell me how deluded I am. I speak to the people in the middle, I'm trying to shift them," Buzolic said. "One thing I've learned about the pro-Palestinian narrative is they just have content, no context. We want to provide context for the content we're providing."

The company has partnered with entertainment firm Roc Nation, founded by rapper Jay-Z, and the Hostage and Missing Families Forum ("Bring Them Home"), the Israeli movement to free hostages taken by Hamas during its attack on October 7, 2023.

Rabbi Ari Lamm and Justin Hayet run the New York-based BZ Media and produce pro-Israel content targeting a Gen Z audience. Lamm founded SoulShop, a faith-focused entertainment company, where Rova's Luxenberg is CEO. Hayet was a university campus fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a pro-Israel media watchdog often targeting journalists for perceived anti-Israel coverage and paying students to write articles smearing pro-Palestine activists. He also worked for Danny Danon, a lawmaker with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party, during his term as the ambassador to the United Nations.

MTF was founded by the late pro-Israel billionaire donor, Sheldon Adelson, in 2015 to combat the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses, harassing activist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and leading smear campaigns against pro-Palestine students and faculty.

A DEI program coordinator at the @UofMaryland DEFENDED Hamas terrorists and justified October 7. How are Jewish students supposed to lodge antisemitism complaints to the DEI office when the program coordinator is a hateful antisemite? pic.twitter.com/nIcIp2lmZk

— Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 18, 2024

Former Manhattan College professor Shellyne Rodriguez has made vile and dehumanizing propaganda targeting Jews and Zionists. And yet @Columbia invited her for a panel. https://t.co/G9eVIbUXyc

— Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 18, 2024

Instead of taking accountability for creating a hostile environment for Jewish students on campus, pro-Palestine, anti-Israel student groups at @Columbia have chosen to gaslight Jewish students, claiming that the university is "silencing" pro-Palestine voices. pic.twitter.com/ALvzKEbdhE

— Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 11, 2024

@Columbia supposedly one of the best Universities on the planet, allows a professor to falsely paint Israel as a "Settler Colonial State."

Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, and rhetoric like this increases antisemitism on campus. pic.twitter.com/cLaOMjQBna

— Maccabee Task Force (@MacTaskForce) March 5, 2024

Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson's wife, currently serves as MTF's president, while infamous pro-Israel lawyer Alan Dershowitz is one of the organization's directors. Miriam Adelson's son-in-law and new owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, Patrick Dumont, serves as treasurer. David Brog, former head of Christians United for Israel, an evangelistic Israel lobby group, is the current executive director. The Adelson family primarily funds the organization, pumping over $10 million into MTF in 2022. Joseph Fisch, founder of United States Beverage, has also contributed to the organization.

MTF funds Hillels, Jewish student groups, and other Jewish life institutions on college campuses to find students for its tours. According to its most recent tax filings, it funds Jewish campus life groups at the following universities in the U.S. and Canada: American University, Arizona State University, Binghamton University, Boston University, Brandeis University, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Florida International University, Florida State University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Hunter College, Indiana University, Kent State University, Michigan State University, Northeastern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Syracuse University, Temple University, University of Arizona, University of British Columbia, University of California Los Angeles, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech, Washington University, Wayne State University and Yale.

Its largest contribution in 2022 was to Chabad on Campus International, the campus educational arm of the Chabad Lubovitch movement. This movement consists of ultra-Orthodox radicals who often carry out revenge attacks on Palestinians. It also supports Jewish student unions in Australia, New Zealand, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. In 2022, it spent over $5 million on Jewish student groups and other related organizations.

While touting itself as a campus educational program, behind the scenes, MTF is financing several Israeli propaganda campaigns. The organization was one of the primary funders of Act.il, the now-defunct app set on creating an anti-BDS, pro-Israel troll army. MTF currently supports Students Supporting Israel, a pro-Israel movement working to pass university initiatives favoring Israel, like investment resolutions and stopping Israel divestment acts. MTF also funds Prager University, a billionaire-bankrolled media empire attempting to turn today's youth into right-wing extremists.

The organization is notorious for taking non-Jewish university students on trips to Israel and returning them as brand ambassadors for Israel at their schools. MTF specifically targets student "influencers," which often translates to individuals of color and those involved in Black and Asian student unions.

"They say they're targeting 'student leaders' who they hope to convince to vote no on potential divestment resolutions," University of Minnesota student Josh Spencer-Resnik told Jewish Currents in 2019. "[And it's], especially leaders of minority student groups."

According to MTF's donation page, it sends 25 students to Israel yearly and has boosted its efforts amid the war, saying they've reached thousands of students since October 7, 2023. These trips are generously subsidized.

"[W]e are working to make sure campus anti-Israel groups face consequences for openly endorsing Hamas' terror, and we are arranging a special Wartime Fact-Finding mission to Israel for some of our most influential non-Jewish MTF trip alumni," MTF wrote on its website.

In January, the Times of Israel profiled a recent MTF student trip. According to the publication, the trip consisted of meeting with Israelis — but not Palestinians — on the current situation. The group visited bomb shelters in the southern Israeli city of Sderot and toured Kfar Aza, a kibbutz (Jewish commune) Hamas militants attacked in October. They met with Miri Eisin, a retired colonel and former political adviser, Jonathan Elkhoury, who uses his Lebanese-Israeli nationality to advocate for Israel on U.S. college campuses, survivors of the Hamas attacks at the Nova Music Festival, and a volunteer medic about sexual assault allegedly committed by Hamas militants during the October attacks.

"Campuses have become battlegrounds. We wanted students who document what life in Israel has been like since October 7 and who could make a difference on campus when they return," MTF national director Ben Sweetwood told the Times of Israel.

MTF appears to be succeeding in its campaign — churning out Israeli propaganda puppets at universities while genocide rages in Gaza. Many of its recent wartime alums are now acting as Israeli state mouthpieces on social media.

 

 

 

Following his MTF trip, USC student Logan Barth wrote on Instagram, "[E]very IDF soldier I spoke to emphasized that the last thing they want are innocent Palestinians dead – they want peace. But that is difficult when the people who killed his family members are hiding behind Palestinian civilians."

"This is NOT genocide," Barth added.

Feature photo | Colombian singer Shakira visits the the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
Oded Balilty | AP

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post Israel's Celebrity Charm Offensive: The Truth Behind the Glamorous Trips appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
5 Apr 2024 | 2:25 pm

3. Presidential Candidate Jill Stein On Gaza, The Two-Party System and US Militarism


Gaza is the "key issue of our era," Green Party presidential hopeful Jill Stein told the MintCast today. "Every international law in the books is being broken," she said, "This is not something that began on October 7. This is the continuation of ethnic cleansing and displacement that began in 1947 and 1948 with the displacement of 750,000 people."

While Stein condemned Israel for its actions, she placed ultimate responsibility for much of the violence on Washington, telling MintCast host Mnar Adley that:

Quite simply, Joe Biden needs to pick up the phone and tell Israel to cease and desist from this war being conducted on Gaza, the blockade, the use of starvation as a weapon, the total violation of international law and the conduct of a genocide, which is going on. There is enormous agency that the United States has here: we are paying for this. We are supplying 80% of the weapons [to Israel]!"

Stein, a physician by trade, has been involved in the Green movement for decades. She first ran for office in 2002, attempting to become the governor of her native Massachusetts. In 2012 and 2016, she was selected as the Green Party's presidential candidate. Running against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, she received over 1% of the national vote. She is the overwhelming favorite to represent the Green Party in the 2024 presidential election.

Congress, Stein noted, has just approved $3.8 billion in aid to Israel, with another $17 billion pending for "not only continu[ing] its genocide but to expand its wars in the Middle East."

Global public opinion is increasingly turning against the U.S., Stein warned, turning both Washington and Israel into "pariahs." Even inside the United States, recent polling shows that a majority of Democratic voters consider Israeli actions to constitute genocide. And President Biden continues to offer unconditional support.

It seems this is pushing millions of voters to consider the Green Party as an alternative. Stein described the Democratic establishment as in a state of "panic" over the "widespread revolt" among its voter base, which could destroy the party's chances of winning elections. She said they are fielding "an army of corporate lawyers to try to dirty trick us, to find little technicalities to throw us off the ballot."

This is not a new phenomenon, as the Green Party has long dealt with the Democrats' attempts to suppress them. However, what has changed, Stein said, is the party's willingness to announce their intentions to limit democracy openly. As she told Adley:

There is such a heavy hand of censorship and political repression in this country that it is a struggle to simply participate in our democracy. Voters a clamoring for more voices and more choices. People revile the two zombie candidates that are being rammed down our throats and are very hungry for other options on the ballot."

Watch or Listen to the full interview, in which the pair discuss Gaza, the military-industrial complex, and what a Jill Stein presidency would mean for the United States.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member of Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, check out rapper Lowkey's video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post Presidential Candidate Jill Stein On Gaza, The Two-Party System and US Militarism appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
4 Apr 2024 | 4:10 pm

4. P Diddy Pedo Party Lawsuit Snags Another Pro-Israel Lobbyist: Music Exec Lucian Grainge


Billionaire Zionist Lucian Grainge is the Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, the largest music company in the world. But since February, he and his company have also been named " defendants" in a lawsuit against hip-hop impresario P Diddy, whose legal name is Sean Combs.

As one of the most influential figures in one of the most popular musical genres of this century, Combs has many friends. Yet, among his closest are an outsized number of influential Zionists.

Combs has been hit with five civil lawsuits in four months, while the Department of Homeland Security raided his homes in Miami and Los Angeles in late March. Said to have hundreds of cameras inside his properties, and, naturally, footage of politicians and music industry executives, Combs' role in a potential sexual blackmail operation with links to the Israel lobby bears shocking resemblance to the Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy.

One of the most powerful men in music with ties to the "Friends of the IDF" organization has been accused of financing and attending parties held by the artist, which featured trafficked, underage sex workers. Meanwhile, A-list actor Ashton Kutcher and other entertainment industry honchos close to Combs have maintained longstanding ties to the Israel lobby.

One of the civil lawsuits was filed by Rodney Jones, a former producer hired by Combs. It accuses Diddy of sexual assault. In graphic detail, the lawsuit alleges an Epstein-style conspiracy that includes crimes ranging from the sex trafficking of minors to surreptitious druggings, sexual assault, and gun violence. According to the lawsuit, Combs' "freak off" parties were paid for by Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge and former Motown Records CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam in cash to avoid detection by federal authorities.

"Defendants executed their RICO Enterprise with threats of isolation from the music and entertainment industry: parading powerful music industry executives… at his parties filled with sex workers, minors, and illegal drugs, such as ecstasy, cocaine, GHB, ketamine, marijuana, and mushrooms," the lawsuit alleges.

grainge diddy lawsuit
Rodney Jones claims that Lucian Grainge and Sean Combs "would disappear for hours in Mr. Combs bedroom."

"Mr. Combs had hundreds of cameras in his homes in LA, NYC, and Miami. Mr. Combs required the sex workers and underaged girls to sign NDAs prior entering his parties, and prior to being drugged and sex trafficked at these parties," the lawsuit adds. Jones "believes that Mr. Combs has recordings of Defendants" – namely Grainge and Habtemariam – "as well as other celebrities, music label executives, politicians, and athletes."

Grainge has supported pro-Israel initiatives, such as a fund for Israeli Olympic athletes. As noted previously by Palestine Declassified, Grainge was photographed at a glitzy Friends of the IDF gala in 2016, presumably after making a hefty donation to the pro-occupation NGO. According to UK government documents, Grainge's wife, Caroline Grainge, also funds several Zionist organizations.

Lucian Grainge also happens to be a "close friend" of Haim Saban, a Democratic Party power player and mega-donor to Zionist causes like the Friends of the IDF. Saban is an independent non-executive director at Universal Music Group and last month held a fundraiser for President Joe Biden.

Another former Universal Music Group figure moonlighting as a lobbyist for Zionism is David Renzer, the former Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing. Renzer founded an organization called Creative Community for Peace, an Israeli government-linked front behind the headline-making October 12, 2023 open letter from celebrities that ran cover for Israel's impending genocide in Gaza. The letter characterized criticism of the onslaught as "an orchestrated misinformation campaign spearheaded by Iran." Signatories of the letter included a slew of A-list celebrities, several Universal Music Group executives, artists, and Haim Saban.

Another music industry executive with close ties to P Diddy, Clive Davis, has collaborated with Creative Community for Peace. In 1994, Davis bankrolled the 23-year-old Diddy's Bad Boy Records. Rumors in the hip-hop community of a relationship between the two – extending beyond their business dealings – have swirled around for over a decade. More recently, comments by imprisoned Death Row Records boss Suge Knight and former P Diddy bodyguard Gene Deal have thrown fuel on the fire.

Both Knight and Deal have also accused Combs of cooperation with federal authorities. Knight wrote in a since-deleted post on X, "People the raids today wasn't for Diddy. It was to destroy the incriminating stuff on powerful men. #epstien #Diddy #clivedavis."

Meanwhile, in a recent interview, Deal claims that Combs was a confidential informant for the FBI. "Confidential informants get paid good. But Puff [Combs] was a millionaire. Him being a confidential informant, him getting money like that – it was favors. He [sic] been getting favors, and then paying law enforcement people for years to protect him … He had a budget for law enforcement. Now if something goes wrong, those people got friends in certain places. Then he tells his handler, 'yo, can you make this go away for me?'"


The Rodney Jones lawsuit similarly makes references to Combs' bribes to law enforcement, accusing Combs of "threatening to eat Plaintiff's face, displaying and distributing guns in Plaintiff's presence, bragging about having law enforcement under control, bragging about murdering people, and bragging about bribing witnesses, and jurors."

In charge of the bribes, according to the lawsuit, was Kristina Khorram, who is compared in the lawsuit to Ghislaine Maxwell. She and the head of security at Combs Entertainment, Faheem Muhammad, are accused of handling the bribes to law enforcement and the cash payments to sex workers.

While Combs' ties to federal law enforcement may not amount to much more than gossip at present, his close friend for over two decades, Ashton Kutcher, has maintained a very public partnership with federal authorities. Kutcher is reportedly expecting to be subpoenaed concerning the federal investigation around Combs.

Until recently, Kutcher was the chairman and co-founder of an anti-child sex trafficking organization called Thorn, which works closely with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. "I've been on FBI raids where I've seen things that no person should ever see. I've seen video content of a child that's the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia," Kutcher testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2017, neglecting to explain why, exactly, his role as a leader of an anti-sex trafficking operation necessitated his viewing of child pornography.

Just sending out a morning shout to the men and woman of the intelligence community that keep us safe and protect our country. #gratitude #ty pic.twitter.com/Avi220aBh7

— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) July 23, 2018

In addition to his work with Thorn, Kutcher is a prolific investor in surveillance firms. Meanwhile, his pro-CIA comments and frequent musings on geopolitics have led even a reporter at the notoriously pro-Democrat deep state outlet Mother Jones to wonder "if Ashton Kutcher is a CIA Asset."

Saban embraces Kutcher at a Friends of the IDF gala that raised $60 million for the IDF in 2018

Kutcher stepped down from his role at Thorn in disgrace last September after his letter in support of his friend, convicted rapist Danny Masterson, sparked massive backlash.

That the former head of this anti-child trafficking organization had spent two decades partying with a figure now accused of trafficking children at his parties may make for a situation of strange bedfellows, but if the lawsuits against him are to be believed, Sean Combs is quite used to that.

kutcher ccfp
Kutcher claims that Israel has "embraced its neighbors" in a Creative Community for Peace advert

Asked whether he has any "Diddy party stories" in an interview on the Hot Ones podcast in 2019, Kutcher struggled: "I've got a lot I can't tell. So – uhh – I can't tell that one either," Kutcher said, reflecting on his memories with Combs.

While the saga of Sean Combs may still be developing, the hip hop mogul and his case's ties to some of the most influential figures in both entertainment and the Israel lobby, any news to come will surely be a far cry from music to Israel's ears.

Feature photo | Alexander Rubinstein

Alexander Rubinstein is a former staff writer and current contributor to MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He writes about police, prisons, and protests in the United States and has previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

The post P Diddy Pedo Party Lawsuit Snags Another Pro-Israel Lobbyist: Music Exec Lucian Grainge appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
4 Apr 2024 | 1:16 pm

5. MintPress News: Pushing Back Against Atrocity Propaganda


I want to invite you to the fight against media manipulation and censorship to help us break through the propaganda.

For nearly six months, we've witnessed Israel openly commit genocide in Gaza while it was livestreamed right on our smartphones.

For nearly six months, we've witnessed mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, CNN, and other Western mainstream media organizations provide the cover for Israel's blatant war crimes – crimes that were committed using our taxpayer money.

They've peddled unverified stories of atrocity propaganda – handed to them directly by the Israeli government, justifying Israel's war that has claimed the lives of over 30,000 people.

But in these dark times of manipulation and gaslighting, it falls upon us – independent journalists and media outlets – to break through the fog of war. That's why MintPress has become a target, financially and algorithmically, to silence our decades-long investigative reporting exposing the war profiteers.

We invite you to support us by becoming a member of our Patreon, which costs $10 per month and helps us continue our watchdog reporting.

We want to ensure our investigative journalism is able to reach the public far and wide for free and accessible without a paywall, but we can't do that without your financial support.

MintPress was among the first to question the official narrative of October 7, revealing how an Israeli Apache helicopter killed Israelis. We've conducted numerous investigations into conflicts of interest among authors and media commentators within corporate media that have direct ties to think tanks, lobby groups and weapon manufacturers that directly profit from this war. And we have been at the forefront of exposing how Big Tech works with the national security state, think tanks and lobby groups funded by Israel – that work to stifle free speech and control what we see in our newsfeeds.

Now, MintPress is on the ground in Yemen, providing exclusive interviews with officials directly from the Red Sea and groundbreaking reporting of the humanitarian crisis there as the U.S. continues to bomb the poorest country in the Middle East.

However, our efforts have not gone unnoticed. MintPress was banned from TikTok and PayPal in the past year alone, and our balance was seized. After that, GoFundMe banned us from their platform, taking down two of our fundraisers. Our journalists have been detained, surveilled, and targeted by national security agencies and special interest groups, including directly by the Israel lobby.

But we wear this as a badge of honor. This is just a glimpse of the challenges we've faced as an independent outlet holding the military class accountable, as every journalistic endeavor should.

Journalism is under attack, and we're asking for your support to sustain our watchdog journalism.

While Big Tech attempts to erase our journalism algorithmically, we're ramping up efforts to circumvent censorship and provide hard-hitting reporting that empowers the people. We need your financial support to continue this mission and keep investigative journalism free and accessible without a paywall.

We've launched our annual membership drive on Patreon, and we urge you to join us in the fight against the war machine. You can also become a member directly on our website and donate to MintPress there as well.

 

Our History

MintPress is among the few remaining independent investigative news outlets in the United States, featuring leading journalists and activists. Our team includes investigative journalist Alan MacLeod, whose work has exposed the deep ties between NATO, weapons manufacturers, and Big Tech.

Rapper and activist Lowkey hosts "The Watchdog" podcast, uncovering the Israel lobby's surveillance tactics. Investigative journalist Kit Klarenberg explores the role of intelligence services in shaping policies across NATO nations.

Our Palestine correspondent, Jessica Buxbaum, has exposed Israel's collaboration with Big Tech to surveil Palestinian resistance.

We regularly feature commentary by Dr. Ramzy Baroud and Miko Peled and work with internationally renowned cartoonist Carlos Latuff.

As for myself, Mn​​ar Adley, founder and director of MintPress News, I established MintPress over a decade ago to revive the fourth estate in a post-9/11 world dominated by the military-industrial complex. Having lived under Israeli occupation as a Palestinian-American teen, I witnessed the media's complicity in whitewashing Israel's atrocities. Corporate media act as PR for weapons manufacturers, justifying military adventurism that fuels the war economy.

MintPress was born out of the need to hold the ruling class and military accountable, amplifying voices silenced by mainstream media.

We've been targeted for our commitment to truth, and we need your support to continue our exclusive coverage. Join us in the fight for independent journalism and accountability.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post MintPress News: Pushing Back Against Atrocity Propaganda appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
3 Apr 2024 | 7:15 pm

6. Its Not Just Candace Owens: The Right Is Turning Against Ben Shapiro and Israel


Few conservative commentators have more significant influence and reach than Ben Shapiro. With more than six million followers on YouTube and Twitter, the Daily Wire co-founder has built a right-wing media empire. But now, the issue of Israel is driving a wedge between himself and many others inhabiting the same political space.

An increasing number of right-wing and far-right-wing figures became weary of Shapiro for statements he made following the October 7 attack against Israel, which has some accusing him of being an "Israel firster" and putting American interests second.

Just hours after Owens posted:

I do not believe that American taxpayers should have to pay for Israel's wars or the wars of any other country."

Owens went on to describe the ADL as a network of "smear merchants." it later was announced that Shapiro's company had let her go, something that Shapiro had clearly been pushing for months.

I am grateful they have turned their smear merchant guns on me.
The world already knows my heart.
Their attacks will have the opposite desired effect.

Awaken world.

Thank you, @adl https://t.co/BSUlOF3RsE

— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 22, 2024

Shapiro had previously called Owens "disgraceful" for her "faux sophistication" on the Gaza war after she tweeted that no country has a right to commit genocide ever. He even publicly told her to quit, tweeting:

Candace, if you feel like taking money from the daily wire comes between you and God, then by all means, quit."

After Owens was shown the door, she took to X to say that she was "finally free."

The spat between the two conservative figures has caused a rift in right-wing circles, torn on what constitutes "free speech" and how much support Israel should receive. On a recent video podcast, DailyWire contributor and Arch-conservative Matt Walsh suggested that Americans do not have a "patriotic duty" to support Israel. Ben Shapiro and DailyWire CEO Jeremy Boreing quickly interrupted and shut down the conversation.

Other prominent figures on the right, like Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson, who have staunchly supported Israel for years, are turning against Israel.

Alex Jones has been an ardent supporter of Israel for the past several years, and he recently said:

Israel has lost the high ground. This is not war. It is robotic mass genocide. Section 1091 of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits genocide, whether committed in time of peace or time of war. Genocide is defined in § 1091 and includes violent attacks with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

Tucker Carlson said in the past week that sending foreign aid to Israel provides no advantage for America, a huge change, considering Tucker spent years defending Israel tirelessly as a Fox News pundit.

Tucker Carlson says sending foreign aid to Israel provides no advantage for America.

Follow: @AFpost

pic.twitter.com/mc8b1hiS9r

— AF Post (@AFpost) March 22, 2024

As for Ben Shapiro, many on the right have accused him of being an "Israel firster" and putting American interests second.

So overwhelming has Shapiro's support for Israel been in the wake of the October 7 attacks that even many prominent conservatives are beginning to mistrust him. In January, writer and journalist Michael Yon accused him of funding the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, a Jewish NGO that advocates for migrants entering into the United States. It's not clear if Shapiro actually funded the group, but the accusations speak to the growing level of distrust for him among the right.

Anger continued to grow after Shapiro played a central role in Elon Musk's recent visit to Auschwitz – which some have called an apology tour –  following pressure from pro-Israel forces like the Anti-defamation League or the ADL, over Musk allowing speech critical of Israel on the platform.

Candace, I warned you about the ADL, knowing they would come for you as an American Firster.https://t.co/ZQyDchMFoX pic.twitter.com/9pPwkFCUnW

— Brian J. Pfail (@brian_pfail) March 21, 2024

In fact, Shapiro's was one of the loudest voices demanding censorship of criticism of Israel on Twitter, angering many of his conservative followers who for years have heard Shapiro complain about "liberals" shutting down "free speech" because they are "snowflakes."

Musk Gets It Right In Israel

pic.twitter.com/YpA9CO1Ylj

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 28, 2023

After his visit to Auschwitz, Musk appeared on Shapiro's Daily Wire podcast and claimed X was still a free speech platform, yet shortly after that, X announced they would partner with the ADL to monitor hate speech on the platform. The ADL is notorious for conflating criticism of Israel with Antisemitism, and many on the right are critical of it for promoting censorship and posing a threat to free speech.

A 1969 FBI memo accuses the ADL as as acting as a foreign spy agency for Israel. The ADL's national director – Jonathan Greenblatt, stated that any opposition to Israel is on a par with white supremacy," Greenblatt said in a speech to ADL leaders in 2022.

The ADL  has welcomed controversial congressional resolutions that define anti-Zionism as antisemitism, and it has called on law enforcement to investigate student activist groups for providing "material support" to Hamas. Shapiro's alignment with the group and its crackdown on free speech has become suspicious to the right.

Shapiro has also come under fire from conservatives for advocating Jewish exclusivity over diversity, explicitly speaking out against affirmative action. Yet when his friend and fellow pro-Israel advocate Peter Thiel, founder of the CIA- and Mossad-backed Palantir company, announced that he was reserving 180 positions at the company exclusively for Jews, Ben Shapiro tweeted his support of the move, angering many conservatives and called out his apparent hypocrisy.

Conservatives also took issue with Shapiro's friendship with Thiel and Palantir CEO Alex Karp, who has openly bragged about being responsible for shutting down right-wing political movements in Europe and regularly speaks against the dangers of "the right."

Conservative  commentator Vincent James wrote of Shapiro:

Where were all the billionaire elites forcing congressional hearings when it came to anti-white hatred on college campuses that was happening for years? Why all of a sudden, now when it has to do with antisemitism? People like Bari Weiss, Gad Saad, Bill Ackman, and Ben Shapiro are all promoting CIA front orgs as well as other groups that hate conservatives and hate America, because they are speaking out about antisemitism. Should tell you all you need to know."

And with Israel openly eliminating Gaza's oldest Christian Palestinian community, many conservatives are outraged to find out Israel is attacking Gaza's Christians and their historic churches.

But a look into Shapiro's history shows defending Israel, no matter what crimes it commits, is his first priority.

Before founding his current venture, The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro was funded by Robert Shillman, a tech billionaire who serves on the board of Israeli military charity The Friends of the IDF. He was also a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Centre alongside British Islamophobe Tommy Robinson.

Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing, the co-founder of The Daily Wire, both aided Israel lobbyist Dennis Prager in founding the YouTube channel Prager University, where they worked under Israeli Unit 8200 Military Intelligence veteran Marissa Streit.

In the early days of The Daily Wire, Shapiro got millions of dollars of funding from fracking billionaires, the Wilks Brothers. The Wilks Brothers also fund The Liberty Counsel, which has a Stand With Israel campaign where they host Benjamin Netanyahu as a speaker.

Nowadays, Jon Lewis is the Chief Operating Officer of The Daily Wire. He is a former intelligence analyst in the US Marine Corps. The Daily Wire has also employed former US military intelligence officer Wesley Schmidt in customer service analytics. The Daily Wire is sponsored by Kape Technologies, whose CEO is Israeli Intelligence Duvdevan Unit veteran Ido Erlichman.

All of this has led some conservatives to begin to question whether Shapiro actually holds the same values as they do or instead parrots them to garner support and sway his viewers towards a pro-Israel position.

One thing is clear: the right is finally starting to question weather Israel really has America's best interests at heart.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post Its Not Just Candace Owens: The Right Is Turning Against Ben Shapiro and Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
3 Apr 2024 | 7:14 pm

7. Israel’s Ceasefire Deception: Insights from Israeli Activist Miko Peled


The history of ceasefire agreements signed between Israel and its neighbors begins in February of 1949 when the newly established State of Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan – also newly created states, Lebanon and Syria. All the agreements say more or less the same things, the main differences being the boundaries as they were determined between Palestine and the various other countries. All of the agreements state that their purpose is:

"Promoting the return of permanent peace in Palestine." These agreements were negotiated in the presence of international parties and based on various relevant United Nations resolutions. No Palestinian representatives were party to any of the agreements, and no agreement was ever signed with any Palestinian party.

Although Palestinians were the victims of the Zionist aggression, they were not present. In fact, one can say that these agreements between Israel and the Arab countries surrounding Palestine were an essential part of the plan to legitimize the new owners of Palestine, who now were de facto recognized by the Arab countries.

The agreements state very clearly that neither side should attack the other and what type of forces each side was permitted to keep near the borders. However, as we know all too well, Israel violated these agreements; its forces entered the territories of the other signatories, and ultimately, Israel took lands when and where it saw fit.

Today, some seventy-five years after these and many other agreements were signed and then violated by Israel, we hear about yet more ceasefire agreements. The claim made by those who call for yet another ceasefire agreement is that it may bring some relief to the people of Gaza, who are victims of genocide. However, after a history of eight decades, it is time to stop accommodating Israel and aiming at short-term agreements that provide little relief and end the murder of Palestinians by Israel.

Such an end can only be made with a permanent political solution. It is no longer an agreement with Israel but one that creates a new political reality where Palestinians are free and independent and can determine their own fate in their homeland, Palestine. A problem that some see with this proposition is that it means the dismantling of the State of Israel. Well, it is time for us to get used to this.

For almost eight decades, Israeli governments, elected by the Israeli people, have shown that there are three characteristics of the Zionist state that make its further existence impossible. Those three are the fact that it is an apartheid regime, that it is engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and that it is engaged to continue to perpetrate a genocide of the Palestinian people.

During the genocide of the Jewish and other people by the Nazis during World War Two, negotiations for a ceasefire would have been grossly inappropriate and unacceptable. Today, in Palestine, after seventy-five years of gross violations of international and humanitarian laws and violations of agreements signed, it is time for a political solution that will guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people to safety and security and will guarantee full equality to all people who reside within the boundaries of historic Palestine. This can only be achieved once the apartheid regime known as the State of Israel is dismantled and a free and democratic Palestine is established in its place.

Miko Peled is a MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are"The General's Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," and "Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five."

The post Israel's Ceasefire Deception: Insights from Israeli Activist Miko Peled appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
2 Apr 2024 | 2:30 pm

8. The US and ISIS: It’s Complicated


While ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the Moscow shooting, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the United States might have been behind the attack.

Although he provided no evidence for his claim, it is true that ISIS and the United States government have a long and complicated relationship, with Washington using the group for its own geopolitical purposes and that former ISIS fighters are active in Ukraine, as MintPress News explores.

 

A Brutal Attack

On March 22, gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, killing at least 143 people. Authorities apprehended four suspects who they claim were fleeing towards Ukraine. The attack was only one of a number planned. After receiving international tip-offs, Russian police foiled several other operations.

ISIS-K, the Islamic State's Afghanistan and Pakistan division, immediately took responsibility for the shooting, with Western powers – especially the United States – treating the matter as an open and shut case. Vladimir Putin, however, felt differently, implying that Ukraine or even the United States might have been somehow involved. "We know who carried out the attack. But we are interested in knowing who ordered the attack," he said, adding: "The question immediately arises: who benefits from this?"

Moscow has long accused Ukrainian intelligence services of recruiting ISIS fighters to join forces against their common enemy. Far-right paramilitary group Right Sektor is believed to have trained and absorbed a number of ex-ISIS soldiers from the Caucuses region, and Ukrainian militias have been seen sporting ISIS patches. However, there are no clear and official links between the Ukrainian government and ISIS, and the suspects – all Tajiks – have no publicly known connections to Ukraine.

Last Year, Ukrainian militants wearing ISIS patches were pictured on camera by the press – probably unintentionally. pic.twitter.com/5SvfLD6pKJ

— MintPress News (@MintPressNews) March 26, 2024

This is not the first time that ISIS has targeted Russia. In 2015, the group took responsibility for the attack on Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed 224 people. It was also reportedly behind the January 2024 attacks on Iran that killed more than 100 people, commemorating the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general responsible for crushing ISIS as a force in Iraq and Syria.

 

Giving Birth To A Monster

A host of U.S. adversaries have claimed that ISIS enjoys an extremely close working relationship with the U.S. government, sometimes acting as a virtual cat's-paw of Washington. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for instance, has accused the U.S. of ferrying ISIS fighters around the Middle East, from battle zone to battle zone. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that he considers ISIS to be a "tool" of the United States, saying:

I do not differentiate at all between ISIS and America."

And just this week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry demanded:

the U.S. should end its illegitimate presence on Syrian territory, and end its open support and fund for Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations."

It was in Syria that the goals of ISIS and the United States most closely aligned. In 2015, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (D.I.A.), lamented that ISIS arose out of a "willful decision" by the U.S. government. A declassified D.I.A. report says as much, noting that the "major forces driving the insurgency in Syria" were ISIS and Al-Qaeda. "There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria," the report noted excitedly, adding that "[T]his is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [i.e., the U.S. and its allies] want."

US Dod ISIS AQ
A now-declassified DoD document shows US military officials believed backing AQ and ISIS in Syria could help defeat Assad

Throughout the 2010s, images of ISIS' brutality consistently went viral and led to news bulletins around the world, providing the United States with a convenient enemy to justify keeping its troops in Iraq and Syria. And yet, throughout the decade, the U.S. and its allies were also using ISIS to weaken the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As then-Vice President Joe Biden said, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were:

 [S]o determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad."

This included ISIS, Biden said. He later apologized for his remarks after they went viral. Nevertheless, the U.S. also supported a wide range of radical groups against Assad. Operation Timber Sycamore was the most extensive and most expensive C.I.A. project in the agency's history. Costing more than $1 billion, the agency attempted to raise, train, equip and pay for a standing army of rebels to overthrow the government.

It is now widely acknowledged that large numbers of those trained by the C.I.A. were radical extremists. As National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an email published by WikiLeaks:

AQ [Al-Qaeda] is on our side in Syria."

US ISIS

Clinton herself was well aware of the situation in Syria, noting that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were:

providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region."

While ISIS regularly attacked a wide range of enemies in the Middle East, it actually apologized to Israel in 2017 after its fighters mistakenly launched a mortar attack on the IDF in the occupied Golan Heights region of Syria.

That same year, the United States launched a significant attack on ISIS-K in Afghanistan, dropping the GBU-43/B MOAB bomb on a network of tunnels in Nangarhar Province. The bomb was the largest non-nuclear strike ever recorded and reportedly killed at least 96 ISIS operatives. Yet ISIS did not appear particularly interested in striking back at the U.S. Instead, it waited until the American departure from Afghanistan to launch a series of devastating attacks on the new Taliban government. This included a bombing at Kabul International Airport, killing more than 180 people, and the Kunduz Mosque Bombing two months later. The Taliban accused ISIS of carrying out a U.S.-ordered campaign of destabilization.

 

Global Terror Network

While the precise relationship between ISIS and the United States will surely never be known, what is clear is that, for decades, Washington has armed and trained terrorist groups around the world. In Libya, the U.S. joined forces with jihadist militias to topple the secular leader Muammar Gaddafi. Not only was Libya transformed from North Africa's most prosperous country into a political and economic basket case, but the fighting unleashed a wave of destabilization across the entire region – something which continues to this day.

In Nicaragua, the U.S. sponsored far-right death squads in an attempt to overthrow the leftist Sandinistas. Those forces killed and tortured vast numbers of men, women and children; U.S.-trained groups are thought to have killed around 2% of the Nicaraguan population. The Reagan administration justified their intervention in Nicaragua by stating that the country represented a "mounting danger in Central America that threatens the security of the United States." Oxfam retorted that the real "threat" Nicaragua posed was that it was a "good example" for other nations to follow.

Meanwhile, in Colombia, successive administrations helped to arm and train conservative paramilitary forces that prosecuted a brutal war against not only leftist guerilla forces but the civilian population as a whole. The extraordinary violence led to the internal displacement of more than 7.4 million Colombians.

Donald Trump once quipped that Barack Obama was "the founder of ISIS." While this is not true, there is no doubt that the United States did indeed nurture the group, watching it expand into the force it is today. It has, at the very least, turned a blind eye to its operations and abetted it in its attack against their common enemies. In this sense, at least, with every ISIS attack, there is some blood on Washington's hands.

Feature photo | A US-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy machine gun next to a US soldier in al Tanf. Hammurabi's Justice News | AP | Modification: MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post The US and ISIS: It's Complicated appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
2 Apr 2024 | 1:30 pm

9. Exclusive: Behind the Scenes of Ansar Allah’s Operations aboard the Galaxy Leader Ship


Editor's Note: Dear Readers, MintPress News' YouTube channel was recently demonetized, and many of our videos made age-restricted. We would greatly appreciate your support by becoming a member of our Patreon page so that we can continue to bring you important stories like this one. Much of the work that we do is supported by viewers like you.

It was a daring raid that galvanized the world. These pivotal moments unfolded when Yemen's Ansarrallah, recognized in the West as the Houthis, intercepted the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-owned cargo vessel sailing through the Red Sea.

Donning traditional Yemeni attire and armed with their characteristic daggers, Ansarrallah boldly confronted Israel while neighboring Arab nations of Palestine offered only hollow words of solidarity.

Since November, Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, has enforced a blockade on vessels either wholly or partially owned by Israel, aiming to compel the apartheid state to cease its unlawful assaults on Gaza, which have resulted in the deaths of over 30,000 people, predominantly women and children.

Today, the Galaxy Leader, seized by Yemen's resistance and held by the Yemeni military, stands as a tourist attraction on the shores of Hodeida in the Red Sea.

MintPress received an exclusive tour of the vessel and sat down with Brigadier General Mujib Shamsan, Head of the Military Spokesmen Committee in the Yemeni Army, to hear Yemen's perspective on the matter.

Shamsan contended that Yemen's military and Ansarrallah's resistance adhere to international law by imposing a blockade in the Red Sea:

Americans have no right to speak about international law or on international customs and conventions, especially since they come from across the oceans thousands of miles away to the Red Sea, which is essentially not an open sea and is subject to the law of internal waters and closed seas. Regarding the Yemeni position's compliance with international law, we know that Yemen declared an official position of entering into a war with Israel before making this decision."

How could one of the world's poorest nations, grappling with its own humanitarian crisis and enduring over a decade of US-Saudi aggression, stand up against one of the globe's superpowers?

Following Israel's brutal assault on Gaza after Hamas' October 7 attack, Ansarrallah's bold capture of the Galaxy Leader just a month later became a symbol of global resistance.

As images from Gaza portrayed Israel's relentless attacks on children, hospitals, schools, aid centers, and fleeing civilians, conscientious observers pondered who would intervene on the international stage to defend Palestine as the usual so-called defenders of the free world were busy aiding, arming and abetting Israel.

While Israel persists in massacring women and children, with its political leaders and military generals openly advocating genocide, Yemen's resistance maintains it acts within the bounds of international law to halt these atrocities, upholding Article One of the Genocide Convention, which states: "all States Parties recognize genocide as a crime under international law and undertake to prevent and punish it."

Nevertheless, the Biden administration failed to intervene to halt Israel's genocide, instead furnishing the apartheid state with arms and diplomatic immunity, including vetoing UN resolutions for a ceasefire.

Subsequently, Washington mobilized forces to the region to break the blockade, bombing Yemen anew and designating Ansarrallah as a terrorist entity. Ansarrallah warned that they would extend their blockade to include U.S. and British vessels if Washington and London persisted in aiding Israel's war on Gaza. Brigadier General Shamsan told MintPress that:

When America failed to break the siege imposed by the Sanaa government on Israel and on ships heading to the occupied Palestinian ports, it tried to present the issue as a threat to international navigation and global trade for all countries. Therefore, the Sanaa government communicated through its foreign ministry with most maritime shipping companies and many other concerned countries to clarify that there is no threat or danger to them and that the threat only targets ships going to the occupied ports in Palestine and ships belonging to Israel only. Therefore, there is no danger to them.

Indeed, a large number of ships have passed, reaching 4684 in the latest statistics mentioned by Sayyed Abdulmalik Al-Houthi in a recent speech. During these days, all ships are passing through the Red Sea very normally, smoothly, and safely, especially Chinese and Russian ships and all ships unrelated to the Zionist entity.

There is no threat, and America is the one trying to pressure maritime shipping companies and other countries to present a picture to the world and the international public opinion that there is a threat to navigation in order to enable military intervention. However, all those conspiracies failed, and Sanaa continued to impose the maritime blockade on the Zionist entity."

The blockade's impact is evident. Thirty percent of global cargo ships traverse the Red Sea via the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, a vital maritime route valued at over $1 trillion annually.

However, Ansarrallah's blockade compelled ships to circumnavigate Africa, disrupting global supply chains and incurring billions in losses and significant delays. Israel's economy has already suffered billions in damages.

Shortly after its seizure, it emerged that the Galaxy Leader was owned by Abraham Ungar, an Israeli billionaire with ties to the Likud party and Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency.

However, it is Israel's Eilat port that bore the brunt, experiencing an 85% reduction in activity. Situated adjacent to Jordan's sole coastal access point at Aqaba, Eilat offers Israel an eastern gateway without needing to go through the Suez Canal.

Though they initially disavowed ties to the vessel, Israel, along with the U.S. and U.K., undertook a military operation against Ansarrallah on Kamaran Island to reclaim the cargo ship. According to Brigadier General Shamsan:

There was indeed an attempt to carry out an airborne operation on the island of Kamaran as part of military plans aimed at penetrating the areas near and surrounding the Galaxy Leadership. However, those attempts failed, and the Americans and the British received harsh lessons in naval warfare. They now acknowledge the outcomes of those confrontations, which they had not experienced before, especially against forces that are still in their early stages or, rather, in the stage of restructuring and redevelopment."

Kamaran Island, situated on the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, historically served as a strategic asset in controlling Red Sea access. It was occupied by the United Kingdom at the onset of World War I for this reason.

Despite diplomatic and military endeavors by Israel, the U.S., and the U.K. to recover the ship, Yemen maintained its steadfast blockade, refusing to return the Galaxy Leader until Israel ceases hostilities.

However, tensions between Yemen and Israel did not originate on October 7th.

Since Israel's establishment in 1948, its founder and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, identified Yemen as a threat. Ben-Gurion emphasized the necessity of controlling the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, as Yemen was among the earliest Arab nations to oppose the European and British initiative to create the state ofIsrael in historic Palestine.

Consequently, diplomatic relations between Israel and Yemen have been nonexistent.

In 1982, Yemen extended support to Palestine, inviting the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to seek refuge after being expelled from Lebanon. After it was isolated by Arab neighbors following U.S.-mediated peace agreements with Israel, the PLO found sanctuary in Yemen's strategic Kamaran Islands to bolster its liberation campaign.

A 1985 CIA document detailed Israel's intentions and capabilities to strike the PLO on the Kamaran Islands after Yemen furnished naval assistance to empower their resistance.

Thus, Yemen views the state of Israel as a settler colonial project of the West and deems its support for Palestine as resistance against Western imperialism and colonialism.

Yemen's military and Ansarrallah vigilantly monitor the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to determine their next course of action, entrusting the fate of the Galaxy Leader to Palestine's resistance. Brigadier General Mujib Shamsan told MintPress that:

There were multiple attempts regarding the "Galaxy Leader". Initially, the Americans, the British, and the Israelis all attempted to deny any connection between this ship and Israel. However, it has been confirmed that the ship has ties to an Israeli trader and businessman who is also linked to Israeli intelligence. There have been multiple attempts through diplomatic channels to return the ship, but they were rejected by the Sanaa government because this pressure tactic was fundamentally linked to what was happening in Gaza. The Yemeni leadership left this option to the Palestinian resistance. In other words, everything Yemen does, whether detaining the ship or hitting others, is closely related to the rhythm of the field operations in the battle of Gaza. Therefore, the option presented is the option of Palestinian resistance and its decision. All diplomatic offers will be rejected unless there is a green light from the Palestinian resistance regarding its negotiations with Israel and its position. All options, negotiations, and offers related to the ship will be rejected by any party, considering that Yemen's position on the Gaza war is a principled, ethical, and humanitarian position that is not subject to compromise or bargaining.

While many countries in the region possess the means to inflict similar and even harsher economic repercussions as Yemen to end the Gaza conflict, they choose not to. Despite issuing stern statements, Palestine's neighbors covertly assist Israel's genocidal campaign in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan established land corridors to alleviate Israel's pressure from the Ansarrallah Red Sea blockade. Egypt facilitates container shipments from its ports to Israel's Ashdod port, ensuring uninterrupted Israeli commerce. Turkey maintains oil flow to Israel via its pipeline, and Morocco constructs a military base for Israel's largest arms company, Elbit Systems.

Consequently, while numerous neighboring states neglected to aid Gaza amid relentless Israeli bombardment, Yemen emerged as one of its most steadfast allies.

Yemen's unwavering commitment to assisting Palestine, regardless of the cost, is especially noteworthy considering its dire humanitarian plight.

The UN estimates that 80% of Yemen's population requires humanitarian assistance, with over 14 million people in acute need right now due to US-backed Saudi-led airstrikes and an illegal blockade.

Despite enduring incessant airstrikes, Yemenis continue to congregate every Friday in Sanaa's streets, pledging unwavering support for Palestine, prepared to sacrifice everything for their Palestinian brethren.

As the U.S. and Saudi Arabia persist in bombarding Yemen, the prospect of a new American conflict in the Middle East looms, reminiscent of the devastating wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Yemen's recent calls for allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza as a famine grows during Ramadan have been ignored by Israel.

In response, Yemen announced it's expanding the blockade to include banning Israeli ships from passing through the Indian Ocean. According to Brigadier General Shamsan, that may be just the beginning:

The biggest threat to regional and national security for all Arab countries bordering the Red Sea and in the region is the military presence of the United States and Britain. Before the recent events, it was the Americans who practiced extortion and were behind ship hijackings, meaning that when America creates justifications and pretexts, it creates an opportunity for itself to be present in the region. However, in light of the current transformations in the region, these data have become unacceptable, so America did not realize that the situation has changed, and there are new equations. Today, America has lost its ability to deter and at the same time, sees that the option of force is the most appropriate and what can be used to restore that image. However, the United States was surprised by the Yemeni stance that was not taken into consideration, especially after the historic decision to close the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. The Americans had a reading and estimation of the situation that a decision like closing the Bab-el-Mandeb strait required to be taken by collective Arab countries and armies. However, for a country like Yemen, which has been destroyed in its capabilities and potential over nine years, it was supposed to be very difficult to make such a decision.

But America, Britain, and Israel were surprised that Yemen made this decision and was able to implement it on the ground, and here were the ramifications at the strategic level and on the level of the region as a whole. We do not say that the impact of the decision to close the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is only related to the immediate battle, in the sense of its repercussions on the military and economic battle of Israel, America, or Britain, but on the contrary, a decision of the size of closing the Bab-el-Mandeb strait goes beyond the future security issue to the future and strategic horizon, because it means at the very least the restoration of Yemen's regional and international role as a balanced sphere with political, military, and strategic weight. This is what the Zionist entity, America, and Britain feared because if a genuine Yemeni state is found that can regain the weight and importance of its strategic position, this will bring about a strategic transformation at the level of the entire region. Because all the components present in the region were given weight and importance at the expense of important countries like Yemen and Egypt, so in the event of the return of these countries to their forefront, other countries that were given a major role, like the Gulf countries, which were nothing but cantons and small states according to the Bernard Lewis plan for power and wealth divisions, will disappear.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post Exclusive: Behind the Scenes of Ansar Allah's Operations aboard the Galaxy Leader Ship appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
1 Apr 2024 | 2:02 pm

10. On Keffiyeh and Watermelon – Revealing the Meaning of Palestinian Symbols


Those who admonish Palestinian Resistance, armed or otherwise, have little understanding of the psychological ramifications of resistance, such as a sense of collective empowerment, honor and hope.

But resistance is not just a rifle or a rocket launcher. The latter are but one manifestation of resistance, and if not backed by strong popular support, they hardly have much impact.

Indeed, all forms of sustainable resistance have to be rooted in culture, which helps it generate new meanings over time.

In the case of the Palestinian struggle, the concept of resistance is multifaceted and strongly embedded in the collective psyche of generations of Palestinians, which allows it to surpass the ideological and political confines of factions and political groups.

Though the symbols of this resistance – for example, the keffiyeh, the flag, the map and the key – are part of this generation of meanings, they are mere signifiers of ideas, beliefs and values that are truly profound.

No matter how hard Israel has tried to discredit, ban or recounter these symbols, it has failed and will continue to fail.

In the early 2000s, for example, Israeli fashion designers created what were supposed to be Israeli kuffiyehs. From a distance, the Israeli scarves looked similar to the Palestinian traditional scarves, except that they were mostly blue. At a closer look, one would be able to decipher that the Israeli replica of the Palestinian national symbol is often a clever manipulation of the Star of David.

This could easily be classified under the banner of cultural appropriation. In actuality, it is far more complex.

Palestinians did not invent the keffiyeh, or hatta, one of the most common neck or even head scarves throughout the Middle East. But they did take ownership of it, giving it deeper meanings—dissent, revolution, unity.

The keffiyeh's prominence was partly compelled by Israel's own actions and restrictions.

After occupying the remainder of historic Palestine, namely East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel immediately banned the Palestinian flag. That ban was part of a much larger restrictive campaign aimed at preventing Palestinians from expressing their political aspirations, even if symbolic.

What the Israeli military administration could not prevent was the use of the keffiyeh, which was a staple in every Palestinian home. Subsequently, the keffiyeh quickly became the new symbol of Palestinian nationhood and resistance, at times even replacing the now-banned flag.

The history of the keffiyeh goes back many years before the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine by Zionist militias in 1947-48.

In fact, if one examines any revolt in Palestine's modern history, from the 1936-39 Palestinian strike and rebellion to Palestinian resistance during the Nakba to the Fedayeen movement in the early 1950s, all the way to the present, the keffiyeh has featured prominently as arguably the most important Palestinian symbol.

Yet, the real rise of the keffiyeh as the symbol of global solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinians did not become a truly international phenomenon until the First Intifada in 1987. It was then that the world watched in awe an empowered generation only armed with rocks facing the well-equipped Israeli army.

Palestinian keffiyeh 1988
Palestinian protesters wearing keffiyehs hurl rocks at occupying Israeli soldiers in Nablus, Jan. 16, 1988. Max Nash | AP

 

Two Types of Symbols

It is worth noting that when we talk about the 'symbolism' of Palestinian cultural symbols and counter-Israeli cultural symbols, we refer to two types of symbols: one laden with intangible, although quintessential representations—for example, the watermelon—and another with tangible and consequential representations—for example, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a symbol of Palestinian spirituality, history, and nationalism, and it is also an actual physical structure located in an occupied Palestinian city, Al-Quds, East Jerusalem. For many years, Israel has perceived the Mosque with alarm, countering the Palestinian claim by alleging that, beneath Al-Aqsa, there lie the ruins of the Jewish Temple, whose resurrection is critical for Jewish spirituality and purification.

Therefore, Al-Aqsa cannot be considered a mere symbol, serving the role of a political representation. On the contrary, it has grown in terms of imports to carry a much more profound meaning in the Palestinian struggle. It would not be an exaggeration to argue that the survival of Al-Aqsa is now directly linked to the very survival of the Palestinian people as a nation.

According to renowned Swiss linguist Fernand de Saussure, every sign or symbol is composed of a 'signifier', meaning the form that the sign takes, and the 'signified', the concept that it represents.

For example, although a map is commonly defined as the geographic representation of an area or a territory merely showing physical features and certain characteristics of the place, it can take on a different 'signified' when the territory or land in question is an occupied one, as Palestine is. Therefore, the physical representation of Palestine's borders became, with time, a powerful symbol, reflecting the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian people throughout history.

The same process was applied to the keys belonging to those very refugees, the victims of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The only difference is that while the villages existed and then ceased to exist, the key existed as a physical object before and after the Nakba. The house and the door are, perhaps, gone, but there is a physical key that still, symbolically, unlocks the dichotomy of the past, with the hope of, one day, restoring the door and the house as well.

In view of this, the segment of land stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea ceased to be just sand, water, grass, and stones and became a representation of something else entirely.

It must be denoted that the slogan 'From the River to the Sea' neither references actual topography nor politics. It is based on the understanding that a disruptive historical event has wrought a great deal of injustice, pain and hurt to historic Palestine. Confronting this injustice cannot be segmented, and it must take place through a wholesome process that would allow the land but, more importantly, the native inhabitants of that land to restore their dignity, rights and freedom.

 

Watermelons and Red Triangles

Some symbols, although employed even before the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation, became far more popular after October 7. The watermelon, for example, has been used repeatedly throughout Palestine's modern history, specifically when Israel banned the ownership or display of the Palestinian flag. The fruit itself, aside from being a symbol of the richness of the land of Palestine, also features the same colors as the flag: black, red, white, and green.

Another related symbol is the red triangle. A small red triangle began appearing as a functional tool in videos produced by the Al-Qassam Brigades, merely to point at a specific Israeli military target before it was struck by a Yassin 105 an RPJ shell or any other.

With time, however, the red triangle began acquiring a new meaning, regardless of whether it was intended by the designers of the Qassam videos.

Some connected the red triangle as a symbol to the Palestinian flag, particularly to the red triangle on the left, situated over the white color, between black and green. In truth, the origins of the small red triangle do not matter. Like other Palestinian symbols, it, too, has the generative power to accumulate new meanings over time.

 

Culture and Counter-culture

Like the 'Israeli keffiyeh,' Israel has tried to counter Palestinian culture. They did so mostly by devising laws to prohibit Palestinians from communicating or embracing their cultural symbols.

Another tactic that Israel used was claiming Palestinian symbols as if their own. This is quite common in clothes, food and music. When Israel hosted the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in 2021, contestants were taken to the Arab Bedouin city of Rahat. Being obviously unaware that Bedouin culture, with its embroidered clothes, food, music and numerous cultural manifestations, is a uniquely Palestinian Arab culture, beauty pageants took to social media to express their excitement about being part of "a day in the life of a Bedouin," with the hashtag #visit_israel.

Such episodes may highlight the degree of deception on the part of Israel but also expose, to a large extent, Israel's feeling of cultural inferiority. A quick examination of Israeli symbols, whether it is the flag with the star of David, the Lion of Judah or national war songs, such as Harbu Darbu, seem to be largely extracted from biblical references and religious heroics that have existed even prior to the existence of Israel itself.

And, while Palestinian symbols reflect the desire of Palestinians to return to the land of their ancestors and to reclaim the rights and justice that they have been long denied, Israeli symbols seem to lay claims – ancient, religious, unverifiable merely. If this reflects anything, it tells us that, despite nearly a century of Zionist colonialism and 75 years of official existence as a state, Israel has failed to connect to the land of Palestine, to the cultures of the Middle East, let alone carve for itself a place in the yet to be written history of the region, a history that will surely be written by the native inhabitants of that land, the Palestinian people.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master's Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is 'Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out'. His other books include 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter' and 'The Last Earth'. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post On Keffiyeh and Watermelon – Revealing the Meaning of Palestinian Symbols appeared first on MintPress News.

website no use cookies, no spying, no tracking
to use the website, we check:
country: PL · city: · ip: 3.238.71.155
device: computer · browser: CCBot 2 · platform:
counter: 1 · online: 666
created and powered by:
www.RobiYogi.com - Professional Responsive Websites
00:00
00:00
 please wait loading data...