Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 8:50 AM

Aping Mideast Dictatorships, Israel Bans Al Jazeera

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Israel plans to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network’s office in Jerusalem, the country’s communication minister has announced.

Ayoub Kara made the announcement on Sunday during a press conference in Jerusalem, where Al Jazeera was barred from attending.

‘We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,’ Kara said, adding that the channel is being used by groups to ‘incite’ violence – an accusation the network has denied.

(Al Jazeera, August 7, 2017)

The putatively democratic Israel clearly has no qualms – not just about aping regional dictatorships but also about parroting their trumped-up reasons for suppressing the free press. Alas, this reflects the cognitive dissonance that has seen Israel continually use national security as a pretext to betray democratic values since its founding in 1948.

But this marks a new low. What’s more, it is compounded by the fact that this Jewish state is actually taking sides in the latest flare up of the fight for the soul of Islam, which Sunnis and Shiites have been waging for over a thousand years. I commented on this flare up in “Blockading Qatar: Trump Makes Messy Middle East Messier,” July 13, 2017.

Meanwhile:

Senator John McCain, defending the media against the latest attack by President Donald Trump, warned that suppressing the free press was ‘how dictators get started.’ …

‘The international order established after World War Two was built in part on a free press,’ McCain said.

(Reuters, February 19, 2017)

McCain was just one of many US politicians, of all stripes, who denounced Trump for casting every news organization that reported negative stories about him as “the enemy of the American people.” Therefore, you’d think these politicians, who hail Israel as a beacon of democratic freedoms in the Middle East, would be denouncing it for actually banning Al Jazeera.

Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a single one, including McCain, who has done so. Hell, even CNN is too busy wallowing in Trump’s asinine and feckless tweets to be bothered.

To be fair, though, there’s a prevailing reason for their deafening and damning silence. For the operating maxim that Israel can do no wrong has been one of the more vexing and perplexing features of American politics since World War II.

It is vexing because it is based on the manifest fiction that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” This is a fiction not because there are other democracies in the region but because it whitewashes Israel’s original sin. That sin, of course, is the occupation of Palestinian lands and the legacy of apartheid it spawned.

It is perplexing because most politicians in the United States, of all stripes, regard adherence to this maxim as an article of faith. This explains why they’d sooner criticize America’s original sin than even acknowledge Israel’s. That sin, of course, is the institution of slavery and the legacy of discrimination it spawned.

I feel obliged, yet again, to register my disgust with Israel-can-do-no-wrong enablers in the US Congress. Because, instead of supporting the wholly informed warning Secretary of State John Kerry issued to Israel on Monday about becoming an ‘apartheid’ state, everyone from Tea Party conservative Senator Ted Cruz to left-wing liberal Senator Barbara Boxer reacted as if he uttered words that were as anti-Semitic as Donald Sterling’s were racist.

(“Instead of Peace Israel Settling for Apartheid?” The iPINIONS Journal, May 1 2014)

No Israeli prime minister has exploited this deference to procure unconditional US political cover and financial support than Benjamin Netanyahu. I have decried his hubris in this respect in many commentaries, including “Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago; Iran, His Desdemona,” October 2, 2013, “Chutzpah: Israeli PM to Address US Congress,” January 23, 20015, and “Netanyahu’s a Putz for Branding Obama a Judas over UN Resolution,” December 29, 2016 – to name just a few.

Israel says it plans to build 2,500 more homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank. …

Settlements are widely viewed as an obstacle to peace by the Palestinians and the international community, and Palestinian officials have responded angrily to today’s announcement.

‘We are building — and will continue to build,’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

(NPR, January 3, 2017)

As it happens, Netanyahu’s chutzpah was on full display during a joint press conference at the White House on February 15. Specifically, when Trump said he’d like Netanyahu to stop building settlements, Netanyahu shrugged it off like a bad joke.

In doing so, he clearly presumed that Trump was only paying lip service to this prerequisite for peace. Sure enough, Trump’s failure to utter a word (or tweet a character) about the plight of the Palestinians since then validates Netanyahu’s presumptuousness.

To be fair, though, Trump was only doing what successive US presidents have done, albeit more diplomatically. In fact, Barack Obama afflicted the Israelis and comforted the Palestinians more than any president since Jimmy Carter. Yet even he proudly cites the following as one of the crowning achievements of his presidency:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday thanked the United States for the ‘unprecedented’ and ‘historic’ defense aid package, hours before Israeli and US officials were to sign the $38 billion deal in Washington.

‘This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of defense aid for Israel in the next decade,’ Netanyahu said in a statement. ‘This is the largest military aid package the US has ever given out to any nation.’

(The Times of Israel, September 14, 2016)

Therefore, one can hardly blame Netanyahu for thinking that this president – who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States — couldn’t care less if he casts a Muslim news organization as the enemy of the Israeli people.

That said, I am happy to report that Israel’s anti-corruption police and incorruptible prosecutors are its saving grace.

Disgraced ex-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was released from prison on Sunday after serving 16 months of a 27-month sentence for fraud and bribery.

Olmert, 71, became Israel’s first ex-prime minister to go to jail when he was convicted in 2014 of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem, and of obstructing justice.

Before its decision to release him, the parole board said that he had undergone a rehabilitation process in prison, and that his behaviour had been ‘impeccable.’

(The Telegraph – London, July 2, 2017)

More to the point, here is why Israeli police and prosecutors are far more likely to humble Netanyahu than any US president would or could.

Israeli police are expected to recommend charges be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a pair of corruption cases against the Israeli premier, amid a newly signed deal with a key associate of the prime minister to turn state’s witness.

(Times of Israel, August 4, 2017)

With all due respect to Olmert, this could not happen to a worthier Israeli leader. And the cherry on top is that the police are expected to recommend separate charges be brought against Netanyahu’s imperious and spendthrift wife for living like an American-Jewish princess at the Israeli taxpayers’ expense.

Related commentaries:
Blockading Qatar
Israel apartheid
Netanyahu’s a Putz
Obama’s Iago

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