The Avalanche – Snapshot 34 – May 8, ’19

Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, 21, on street in Hebron before he was executed. March 24, 2016.

“Settlers execute Palestinian, soldiers destroy video evidence, media parrot the lie (the Azaria legacy)” by Yossi Gurvitz (Mondoweiss)

An excerpt from the above linked-to video follows:

Let’s begin with the facts. About two weeks ago, on April 3rd, a Palestinian named Muhammad ‘Abd Al Fatah, a resident of the Hirbat Qais near Silfit, stoned several cars with Israeli registration plates near the Beita village square. A settler named Yehoshua Sherman fired several shots at ‘Abd Al Fatah from within his vehicle; then Sherman left his vehicle, and advanced towards ‘Abd Al Fatah, who was taking cover, and he and another Israeli shot him several times, wounding him; the two, advancing towards the bleeding and unarmed Al Fatah, murdered him as he lay bleeding on the ground…

Immediately afterwards, the IDF Spokesman announced ‘Abd Al Fatah was killed “while carrying out a knife attack.”

There was no knife and no knife attack, but hey, it’s the IDF Spokesman. Lying is what it does.

So far, everything according to SOP.

The Israeli media reported the murder as a thwarted knife attack, just as the IDF Spokesman wanted it to do.

So far, everything according to SOP.

To the best of my knowledge, the Israeli police did not detain the shooters, did not interrogate them, and did not investigate the incident, even though a person was killed. After all, he wasn’t really a person; merely a Palestinian.

So far, everything according to SOP.

The one thing deviating from SOP, at least as we knew it so far, is that soon after the murder, IDF militants raided two businesses in the region, confiscated two security cameras, viewed the content, and then deleted at least the footage of one camera.

This came up as part of a report of B’Tselem on the incident yesterday (Monday), with the human rights NGO once more taking on the job the media, MPCID, the police and the prosecution didn’t bother doing.

Doug Ford and some fascist friends

“Ontario’s Right-Wing Ford Government Advances Unconstitutional Bill To Silence Critics of Israel” by Dimitri Lascaris (Dimitri Lascaris)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

With the support of Ontario’s right-wing Premier, Doug Ford, a staunchly pro-Israel member of Ontario’s legislature is pushing a private member’s bill designed to silence critics of Israel.

The proposed law, Bill 84, is a frontal assault on the rights to free speech, free assembly and free association.

It cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny…

Bill 84 is entitled “An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act respecting demonstrations that promote hatred on legislative precinct grounds.” The Bill declares that “No demonstration, rally or other activity that, in the opinion of the Speaker, is likely to promote hatred against any identifiable group shall be permitted on legislative precinct grounds.”

Bill 84 defines “legislative precinct grounds” as “the area of land in the City of Toronto bounded on the east, south and west by Queen’s Park Crescent and on the north by Wellesley Street West.” These are the grounds of Ontario’s legislature. That site’s political importance is obvious: citizens who are dissatisfied with Ontario government policy frequently assemble there to express their dissent. Barring a citizen from peacefully demonstrating on the grounds of Ontario’s legislature is no trifling matter.

The author and promoter of Bill 84 is Conservative MPP Roman Baber of the riding of York Center. Baber spent much of his childhood in Israel. In his public commentary, he has defended Israel and denounced its critics.

Although Bill 84 makes no reference to Israel, the history of this deeply flawed legislation leaves little doubt that its primary target is the Al Quds Day rally held annually in Toronto…

For decades, Palestinian solidarity activists have protested Israel’s crimes on Al Quds Day, which falls on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. Fanatically pro-Israel groups, including the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, B’nai Brith Canada and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, have agitated with increasing ferocity for the City of Toronto and the Ontario legislature to shut down the Al Quds Day rallies in Toronto. The basis of their calls to silence the Al Quds Day rallies – which perennially include participation from members of the Jewish community – is the false claim that the rallies are ‘hate-infested.’

Despite their allegations, no participant in an Al Quds Rally in Toronto has ever been charged – let alone convicted – of having committed a hate crime.

“The Atlantic Illustrates Everything That’s Wrong With Media Coverage of Venezuela Sanctions” by Joshua Cho (FAIR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“Trump’s Venezuela Policy: Slow Suffocation,” an Atlantic report (4/17/19) by Uri Friedman and Kathy Gilsinan, passed up a rich opportunity to expose the humanitarian pretexts for economic intervention, and instead exhibited the worst tendencies of corporate media coverage of US policy in Latin America.

The report focused on the Trump administration’s new sanctions on the countries National Security Adviser John Bolton branded as the “troika of tyranny” and “three stooges of socialism”: Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. The administration plans to activate provisions in the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act to allow US citizens to sue foreign companies “trafficking” in “stolen land.”

While the headline on its own could be read as accurately suggesting that the Trump administration’s policy was one of “slow suffocation” of the Venezuelan people, the subhead makes it clear that the Atlantic was really saying that the aim was “to tighten the noose on Nicolás Maduro”—described in the piece as Venezuela’s “authoritarian” leader. By primarily framing US sanctions against Venezuela as a “diplomatic” alternative to the “military solution,” and as a continuation of a new Cold War contest against Russia, the report continued the corporate media practice (, 2/6/19) of downplaying the real harm sanctions are already inflicting on Venezuelans.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (2/4/19) has pointed out how recognition of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela effectively functions as an oil embargo on Venezuela. This is devastating, since Venezuela’s economy depends almost entirely on oil export revenues for essential imports like food, medicine and medical equipment (New York Times, 2/8/19). Newer US sanctions that have caused Venezuela’s crude oil production to plummet even further are expected to reduce revenues over the coming year by $2.5 billion, almost as much as the country spent last year ($2.6 billion) to import food and medicine (CEPR, 3/25/19)…

Although it’s hard to see how one measures the “success” of sanctions—except by their capacity to immiserate the target populations—apparently the only “open question” for the Atlantic is whether or not “gradual economic strangulation” will “prove a match” for the support for Maduro from “foreign patrons” like Russia, China and Cuba. By confining itself to questions of tactical efficacy, and whether sanctions will triumph over the American empire’s rivals, the report completely omits questions of whether or not the US possesses the moral prerogative, and legal authorization, to impose unilateral sanctions and embargoes for regime change purposes.

the fascist Mike Pompeo

“US State Department publishes, then deletes sadistic Venezuela hit list boasting of economic ruin” by Anya Parampil (The Grayzone)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

On April 24, six days before self-proclaimed Venezuelan “interim president” Juan Guaido’s attempt to violently overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government alongside a handful of military defectors, the U.S. State Department published a fact sheet that boasted of Washington’s central role in the ongoing coup attempt. After realizing the incriminating nature of its error, the State Department quickly acted to remove the page.

The Grayzone has obtained a full copy of the expunged report. The deleted page puts to bed any claims of Guaido’s independence from Washington, as the State Department emphasizes the fact that he “announced his interim presidency… in January” at the the top of a section dedicated to breaking down “key outcomes” of U.S. efforts with regard to Venezuela.

related: “Fake news: CNN falsely claims US-appointed Venezuelan coup leader Guaidó was ‘elected’” by Ben Norton (The Grayzone)

related: “U.S. Actions On Venezuela”

“SYRIA TESTIMONIES: “The White Helmets are more dangerous than any terrorist” – retired schoolteacher, Mesyaf.” by Vanessa Beeley (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“The White Helmets are more dangerous than any terrorist”.

Find out why by listening to this important testimony from the town of Mesyaf that has recently been under attack from Israel and the Israeli-backed terrorists in northern Hama and Idleb. Ali Habib, a retired schoolteacher eloquently describes the growing antagonism towards the people of Europe and the U.S after eight years of a punishing war imposed upon the Syrian people by elected governments in the West and their regional allies.

“It was so safe here but you – Europeans, came to us and did what you did to us.

Europeans don’t see that, the Europeans only see that they want to overthrow Bashar al-Assad regime. We, the people, are satisfied with Bashar al-Assad. What does this have to do with you? What is it to you? We are satisfied with him. Soon Bashar al-Assad will make elections and we either elect him or not. We decide, not you.”

These are the voices of Syrian people that are never heard in the West. Western state-media has deliberately silenced them. If they had been listened to, this war might never have happened, let alone lasted eight terrible years and left Syria damaged and bleeding.

“An Open Letter to the Environmental Community” by Ralph Nader (Ralph Nader)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

May 3, 2019

To the Environmental Community:

In 2003, political strategist Frank Luntz wrote a confidential Republican Party memo on what he called “the environmental communications battle.”

In that memo, Luntz advised Republicans to change the words they used to meet their ends. “The scientific debate is closing but not yet closed,” he wrote. “There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science,” Luntz proposed using the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming.” His reasoning: ”…while global warming has catastrophic communications attached to it, climate change sounds a more controllable and less emotional challenge.”

Like it or not, Frank Luntz had a point. When I was growing up in New England, “climate change” meant the changing of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Today, in the midst of increasingly alarming scientific studies and giant storms, the necessary response has been diminished by this widely-accepted softening of the words we use to describe the dangerous reality that stands before us. Language matters!

I recently reached out to two leading and widely respected ecologists, Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben, to get their input on the mainstream usage of the benign phrase “climate change.” McKibben now uses the far more potent phrase “climate chaos.” Hawken believes the proper term is “climate volatility.”

One thing is abundantly clear―it’s time to change the words to meet the peril! As Confucius said: “If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

Maybe enviros will listen to Ralph Nader. They sure don’t listen to me.

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