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Takes on the World: Grant Smith on Foreign Agent AIPAC & the anti-BDS bills, Segment 1 (Wed, 26 Jul 2017)
In a dynamic interview, Grant Smith, referencing current Senate hearings on alleged Russian interference in US elections, says that whatever Russia did can't begin to be compared with Israel's history of meddling in US elections and its politics overall; that everything Russia has been accused of doing, including providing illegal funding, Israel has done, citing “stealth” PACS, called that because Israel is never in their name, that raise money and contribute to candidates solely on the basis of their support for Israel that is coordinated, in violation of the law by AIPAC, Israel's unregistered foreign agent in the US. Smith provides other key examples of illegal operations designed to benefit Israel, from providing funding to a handpicked candidate to siphon votes from serious opponent to a pro-Israel senator (Alan Cranston), to stealing trade secrets from US corporations that opposed the Israel-US Free Trade Agreement. He describes the last time the Senate held hearings involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, 1963, in which the American Zionist Council was found to be using money from the Jewish Agency in Israel to publish pro-Israel propaganda in the US. The AZC had been told to register with FARA in 1962 but had not responded. Following the hearings, Pres. Kennedy ordered the Justice Dept. to have the AZC register as a foreign agent which its lawyers were able to counter until JFK's assassination. It did cause the AZC, however, to take the name of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an existing but unincorporated subgroup. Smith then described his own efforts in 2009, representing Irmep, to pressure the FARA office at the Justice Dept, to force AIPAC to register, having brought more than 300 pages in declassified documents to make his case to the head of the FARA department and her staff but seemed to be overruled by another figure at the meeting who didn't identify himself, apparently a “minder” for AIPAC. Later in the interview, Smith acknowledges that having its lobbying groups able to function in the US without having to go through the hoops required of those who register as foreign agents was, perhaps, more important for Israel than possessing nuclear weapons Smith rejects the comparison frequently made that AIPAC is just another lobby, taking advantage of the US political system, and has just been very successful in doing so, like the National Rifle Assn., pointing that the latter lobbies on behalf of what it considers to be the rights of US citizens under the 2nd amendment while AIPAC pursues the interest of a foreign country to which it pressures members of Congress to pledge their loyalty. Regarding the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Smith suggests that more than a free speech issue, the legislation represents a dangerous attempt by AIPAC and its allies in Congress to insert the protection of Israel into critical laws involving US national security. He questions, in particular, the bill's invocation of the “International Emergency Powers Act,” as if to tell the American public that efforts to boycott Israel represent a national emergency for the United States. He then calls attention to Senator Ben Cardin, the bill's original sponsor in the Senate who has a long and inglorious record of putting Israel's interests first while in office. Following the money, Smith reveals the degree of funding that Cardin had received from pro-Israel PACs, NORPAC, and the Washington PAC that disguise their reasons for existence which is to fund candidates based exclusively on the their support for Israel. And there is MUCH MORE!
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: AIPAC, Trump v. Hezbollah, Gaza, Segment 1 (Wed, 26 Jul 2017)
On morning when Sen. Judicial Com. begins Foreign Agency Registration Act hearings on Russian agents working in the US, Blankfort reminds listeners of last FARA hearings held by Sen. JW Fulbright in 1963 that determined that the American Zionist Council that morphed into AIPAC was acting on behalf of Israel which led Pres. Kennedy to have the Justice Dept, order it to register as a foreign agent. The AZC's lawyers were able to block Justice's efforts to do so until assassination of JFK made the issue moot. Blankfort notes that had Grant Smith of IRMEP not wrote about the hearings they would have been a footnote in history since experts on Israel-Palestine like Noam Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis, never mention them. He then switches to the AIPAC crafted “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” as example of what not requiring Israel to register as a foreign agent has led to, the integration of Israel into a dominant insider position in America's political culture. Blankfort cites ACLU critique of House and Senate bills, claiming they are an attack on the First Amendment. He points as further proof, Congress's awarding Israel an additional $705 million in National Defense Authorization Act as if there was no separation between defense of Israel and the US. Blankfort then reports on Trump's attacks on Hezbollah in Tuesday's press conference with Lebanon PM Saaed Hariri, suggesting that it is a prelude to US or Israeli attack on Lebanon. He continues with report that cease fire agreement in Southwest Syria between Trump and Putin is holding and that Russia is setting up checkpoints around its perimeter and that Netanyahu is against it because it doesn't mention Iran or Hezbollah. He goes from there to situation at Al-Aqsa mosque and updates the refusal of Palestinians to accept security cameras that would identify those entering the area. He notes the violence on part of Israelis last week. Finally, he reports on Gaza, and cites Palestinian professor in Gaza, Haidar Eid and the Al-Shabaka Palestine Network website that condemn Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, and the PA for their role in creating Gaza's electricity crisis, designed to bring Hamas to its knees. Eid explains why a desperate Hamas felt pressed to turn for help to Egypt and ally itself with former Fatah security chief in Gaza and a known collaborator with the CIA and Shin Bet, Mohammad Dahlan, in responding to the PA.
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Takes on the World: Gareth Porter Shreds Liberals' Anti-Russian Hysteria, Segment 1 (Wed, 12 Jul 2017)
Jeff Blankfort speaks with Gareth Porter about the latest developments in the wave of anti-Russian hysteria that is being pushed by the Democrats and the liberal and much of the alternative media, notably Democracy Now! He compares frenzy over Trump Jr.'s emails and meeting with Russian lawyer to very different reaction to Clinton campaign getting dossier on Trump allegedly from sources in Russian government. He agrees with Blankfort that when it comes to Russia, the word “alleged” is no longer used to describe its activities. Porter reviews the coverage of the earlier emails of the Democratic National Committee and Campaign Chair John Podesta and then goes into the details of his latest Consortium News article, “Foisting Blame for Cyber-hacking on Russia” (July 2) in which he explodes the tale accepted by the media and members of Congress that the Russians were responsible for the hacking into the voter bases of 21 states, revealing that no evidence exists for its involvement and that this hacking that has been going back years has been done by people looking for personal information to sell to commercial parties. That the mainstream media has distorted the truth about this as it has the whole hacking story makes it, indeed, the enemy of the people. He does find hope in the fact that pressure from the voters kept Congress from approving a US attack on Syria under Obama and that ways must be found to expand upon that outside of the bounds of the Democrats such as Sanders who has chosen to endorse the Russia bashing while ignoring US wars in the Middle East.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op Ukraine Coup is Russiagate's Origins, Segment 1 (Wed, 12 Jul 2017)
Blankfort begins by charging Democrats and self-professed liberals with promoting anti-Russian hysteria, citing as examples MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Berkeley Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and NY Times's Charles Blow who are using firepower of Sen. Lindsay Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio to take Russia-Bashing to Cold War extremes. He notes that meeting with Putin was lose-lose for Trump but his suggesting an anti-cyber warfare alliance with Russia was naive and Blankfort cites comments from McCain, Graham and Dem. Rep, Adam Schiff making fun of it. Blankfort points out that latest frenzy about Trump Jr's emails and his and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort's meeting with Russian lawyer has overshadowed success, thus far, of cease-fire agreement with Trump over souhwest Syria about which today's NY Times mentions not a word. He then cites Robert Parry who compares the reaction to the Trump Jr.-Russian lawyer meeting with efforts of Clinton campaign to discredit Trump with material purchased from high level Russian government sources. Blankfort then recounts background of US orchestrated coup in Ukraine that the media now ignores, citing NY Times's David Sanger comment on Monday as example of cover-up, Recalls chronology of Clinton's hiring of neocon Victoria Nuland Kagan from Dick Cheney's office as press spokesperson and how, when Clinton departed, Obama made Nuland Dep. Sec of State for Europe and took on husband, Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, as foreign policy adviser, a position he had held for John McCain. He recalls role of PNAC neocons in producing Iraq war and then updates their status which left and liberal journalists continue to ignore. He ends program with latest example of Israeli sadism, the theft of more than 300 Euros worth of solar panels donated by the Dutch government to the Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank that the Arafat led PLO, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, effectively surrendered to Israel at Oslo.
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Takes on the World: Chris Davidson on Qatar, Saudis and ISIS as US asset, Segment 1 (Wed, 28 Jun 2017)
Dr. Davidson, author of Shadow Wars, the Secret Struggle for the Middle East (One World, UK) sorts out the details of the Saudi-Qatar conflict that appears to have been given the green light by Trump and Kushner in Riyadh. He explains that Saudis object to Qatar support for Muslim Brotherhood and its attacks on the KSA on Qatar-owned Al Jazeera's Arab broadcasts which are very different in content than its English language edition and is more like an Arabic version of Fox News. In noting the forces now taking sides in that conflict, with Iran and Turkey supporting Qatar and supplying it with food and necessities to break the Saudi blockade, he compares it to the situation in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. He speaks about the US support for Al Qaeda and the extremist jihadist groups going back to the attacks on the Russians in Afghanistan and explains how such groups, including ISIS have served US interests by fighting more nationalistic, more radical forces which he describes in great detail in his book. He notes how the actual numbers of bombing raids by the US-led coalition against ISIS don't compare with previous campaigns such as in Serbia and sees that against ISIS as more of a formality than an attempt to eliminate it since its continued existence makes it a useful bogeyman.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op:US War on Syria, Electing Yeltsin in '96, Segment 1 (Wed, 28 Jun 2017)
Blankfort begins with comment on role of Trump and Kushner in Saudi government shuffle and Saudi blockade of Qatar. He then notes that with the shooting down of a Syrian jet by US fighter in Syria that the US has launched war on Syria without any legal justification which, of course, the US has never cared about. He notes that initial steps in the war were taken by Obama when he first sent US soldiers there and set up a US base. He notes that one day after Si Hersh exposed US lies about alleged Syrian sarin gas attack in April, White House press spokesman Spicer announced that Syria was planning another such attack and warned Assad of the heavy consequences if Syria does so. He provides highlights of Hersh's article in Germany's Die Welt which he couldn't get published in US., which indicates that Trump and his generals knew it was a lie when he ordered the cruise missile strike on the Syrian base. He then speaks of additional US troops sent to Syria in March and refusal of Pentagon to make the number of troops there public but quotes general in charge as being ready to fight. In making a case that making war and invading other countries is what the US has been doing since its founding and notes list published in Congressional Record in 1969 of more than 250 incidents since 1776, citing one event in 1824 when US sailors burned a Nicaraguan town to the ground to avenge an insult to their captain. He notes that the unwillingness of Americans to support new wars after Vietnam was considered an illness, Vietnam syndrome, which was exorcised by first Gulf War. Now, without a draft, Americans are indifferent to what its government is doing and cites absence of any mention of US wars in call for the June 10-11 People's Summit in Chicago. He concludes with report of US interference in Russia's presidential election of 1996 which was well publicized in the US at the time but the media has seem to have forgotten and the role played in that election by components of the National Endowment for Democracy who were back again in Ukraine before the 2014 coup.
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Takes on the World: Paul Pillar on Trump and Saudis vs. Iran and Qatar, Segment 1 (Wed, 14 Jun 2017)
Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, author of two recent articles for National Interest and Consortium News, ISIS Attack Exposes Anti-Iran Propaganda and Trump Fans the Mideast Fires of Hate, explores the origin of US antagonism towards Iran and false labeling of it as the “leading state sponsor of terrorism”in the years following the World Trade Center attack despite Teheran’s efforts to join the US in fighting terrorism, citing GW Bush's speech declaring Iran part of an “axis of terror” with No. Korea and Iraq, despite the fact that the latter was its enemy. He points out that Iran, far from being a sponsor of terror, has been actually fighting ISIS, mainly in Iraq but also in Syria and that its most recent link to terrorism may have been the attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 which killed 19 US servicemen and which a US Court blamed Iran. He notes that Trump, while demonizing Iran, has given the Saudis a free hand to do what it wishes in the region against its Shia neighbor and has endorsed the Saudis blockade of its leading political competitor in the Sunni world, Qatar, which is home to the largest US base in the region. This flies in the face of Secretary of State Tillerson;s efforts and those of the Pentagon to de-escalate the confrontation. Two other points of contention between the Saudis and Qatar are the latter's support of the Muslim Brotherhood whose largely peaceful means of incorporating Islam with politics the Saudis see as a threat and its hosting of Al-Jazeera which the Saudis and other Gulf monarchies have long seen as “a thorn in their side.” Pillar notes that the oil companies have not been playing a major role in formulating US regional policies and that they would prefer being able to do business with Iran, not restricted by sanctions which, Pillar points out, are about to be increased under new Senate legislation
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: EXCLUSIVE: Why Israel Needed 67 War, Segment 1 (Wed, 14 Jun 2017)
Blankfort opens by questioning mantra that “Iran is leading state sponsor of terrorism, then moves on to expose Senate support for the real leading state terrorist sponsor, Saudi Arabia and Tuesday's vote against blocking new arms sales to the KSA, quoting Sen. McConnell, Corker and McCain. He notes that approving arms for the Saudis in the midst of a rising cholera epidemic in Yemen is unconscionable and that the US public is complicit. He then reports on a joint televised meeting between the Israeli Knesset that was streamed to supporters of Israel in the US while the news of which was totally blocked by the US media as was the 50th anniversary of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty. This is further proof that Israel and its supporters in the US determine what is and what isn't reported about Israel in the US media, citing previous censorship of reports about Friends of Israel Defense Force fundraisers. He then discloses the main reason for the Six Day War, Israel's need to scare Jews into rallying around Israel in the face of non-existent Arab threats at a time when most Jews in the US had lost interest in it. He concludes by citing Ray McGovern's analysis of Megyn Kelly's interview with Vladimir Putin and exposes the false claim that 17 US intel agencies concluded that Russia hacked the Democrats. Of note is Putin's raising of the possibility that US “special services” might have killed JFK.
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Takes on the World: Grant Smith on Israel Lobby in Trump Era, Segment 1 (Wed, 24 May 2017)
Grant Smith, of the Inst. for Research: ME Policy,a keen observer of AIPAC and the institutions of the Israel Lobby notes how the presence of right-wing pro-Israel, pro-settler in Trump's White House and family, makes the the historic role of AIPAC and the Conference of Major Jewish American Organizations redundant and accounts for the failure of Trump to observe the tradition of past US presidents in consulting with them before he has meetings with an Israeli prime minister or travels to Israel or the Middle East. AIPAC's other role, steering funds to campaigns of pro-Israel politicians remains as important as ever, given the inflation of the amounts of money required to run Congressional campaigns when there are no limits placed on donors. Smith notes how mainstream media has ignored role of foreign governments, not only Israel, but Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc., in purchasing US lobbyists to make their cases in Washington, but refers to a series of articles on Consortium as welcome exception as part of arguing that while the mainstream media remains unchanged in its coverage of Israel related issues, social media is beginning to make its presence felt. He points out that polls he has fielded show Americans to he ahead of their politicians, citing as an example, a poll that showed that the majority of Americans supported the Obama administration's decision not to veto the UNSC resolution criticizing Israeli settlements and that 28% of the public think Israel is liable to get the US into a major war, only exceeded by So. Korea among US allies. He also speaks of the progress in his federal cases to hold back issuing of US aid to Israel because it violates the Glen-Symington amendment of 1971 making aid to non-signers of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty that are engaged in building or buying nuclear weapons against the law which the US has ignored and his challenge to a federal gag order imposed by President Obama making it illegal for federal employees to speak about Israel's nuclear weapons program As for Trump, Smith points out that the president has learned nothing from the events of 9-11, by doubling down on US support and aid for Saudi Arabia and offering his full support for Netanyahu on his trip to Israel, noting that the two issues which outraged Osama bin Laden, was the presence of US bases in Saudi Arabia and its support for Israeli occupation of Palestine.
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Takes on the World: Jeff Blankfort: News/Op: USS Liberty, Lebanon War, Trump in ME, Segment 1 (Wed, 24 May 2017)
Blankfort recalls Israeli attack and USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 and treason of LBJ in recalling US jets sent to defend it as one the important anniversaries being observed in May and June and explains WHY Israel did it. He points out that in allowing Israelis to murder US sailors with impunity it set the tone for the Israel-US relationship ever since. He then speaks of Israel's declaration of statehood, May 15 1948, a month and a week after the massacre of Deir Yassin by Menachem Begin's Irgun, the Stern Gang and Haganah and importance of that for the Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine and why that date has become The Nakba. He moves from there to Israel's invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, describing its murder of 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians before its seven week long siege of Beirut that ended with Palestinian fighters being permitted safe passage for Tunisia, leaving the refugee camps undefended. He then describes how Ariel Sharon broke his promise to protect the camps by allowing Christian Falangist killers into Sabra and Shatila refugee camps where they murdered at least 2000 civilians with the assistance of the Israeli army. He moves from there to Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, commenting on Trump’s speech in Riyadh and citing Robert Fisk's reaction to it, concluding with Fisk's observation that Israel has attacked everyone in Syria but ISIS.
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