America’s Pseudo-Democracy

Lawrence Davidson

U.S. pundits mock countries, like Iran or China, where candidates are screened before they go on the ballot, but America has a similar approach, with candidates needing approval from plutocrats and special interests. But that’s just one problem of U.S. Democracy.

Given the dangerous results of the recent election in the United States – one that saw the Republicans, a right-wing party increasingly populated with neocon warmongers, reactionaries and plutocrats take control of both houses of Congress – it might be time to take a look at a sober look at U.S. democracy.

We can begin be taking note of the generic observation made by Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The implication here is that democracy is really not the God-blessed system so many of Americans take it to be.

For instance, the public in a democracy is just as vulnerable to manipulation by various elites and interest groups as are those in non-democratic environments. The difference is that a democracy has a built-in procedure that allows citizens to have second thoughts about past manipulation. Thus they can kick out the bastards they were originally persuaded to kick in – even if it is often only to replace them with a new set of bastards. This repeated procedure results in a time limit on the damage elected leaders can do. It is, of course, possible that democratically elected politicians can come close to ruining a nation (their own as well as others) even given their limited tenure.

How Money Silences Criticism of Israel

Lawrence Davidson

A portion of the separation wall built by the Israeli government
jutting into the town of Bethlehem to enclose the tomb of Rachel
within the Israeli zone. Many portions of the wall contain graffiti
and artwork by the Palestinians and their visitors.
(T. Lieverman)

Israel’s never-ending persecution of Palestinians is opening a chasm between the world’s public, which is growing disgusted by Israeli behavior, and Western elites who shy from criticism because of career fears and financial dependence.

Due to Israel’s brutal racism and repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians, it is losing popular support internationally. As this happens, the Zionists appear to be intensifying pressure on societal and political elites, particularly in the U.S. and other Western states, to maintain policies that support and protect Israel’s criminal behavior.

Their vehicle for achieving this goal has always been financial gifts and donations to elite individuals and institutions. These gifts and donations help grease the wheels, so to speak, of the systems of power through which the elites operate, and create a monetary dependency on, among others, Zionist donors. It also creates an obligation to respond to these donor’s needs. The result is a growing disconnect between evolving popular attitudes toward Israel and the static positions held and actions taken by the elites.

American Zionist leaders are aware of this gap and they take it seriously. But they have a problem in that open debate and presentation of evidence can no longer win the argument for their side because the Zionists no longer have a monopoly on the story of how Israel came to be and Palestine came not to be. And without that monopoly the imperialist origins and ongoing racist nature of Israel are can no longer be concealed.

Waging War on Truth

Stephen Lendman

Marty Peretz (Photo:

Major media scoundrel reports, commentaries, and editorials distort, misreport, censor, and suppress. Truth and full disclosure lose out. Readers and viewers deserving better are cheated.

The New Republic's (TNR) owner and former editor-in-chief Martin Peretz ranks with the worst. His columns exclude journalism the way it should be.

He's unabashedly pro-Israel, pro-war, and ideologically extreme on all issues mattering most. In December 2010, New York Magazine contributor Benjamin Wallace-Wells called him "a born belligerent (with) an extraordinary capacity for anger."

American Prospect contributor Eric Alterman said he "spread the virus of liberal self-hatred....(D)uring his reign (as TNR editor-in-chief, he's) done lasting damage to the cause of American liberalism."

"By turning TNR into a kind of ideological police dog, (he) tarr(ed) anyone who disagreed (with him) as irresponsible and untrustworthy." He did it based on (a) narrow and ideosyncratic....Israel-centric neoconservatism."

On Peretz's watch, no TNR editorial ever criticized Israel. Its interests alone matter. "Support for Israel," he said, is "deep down, an expression of America's best view of itself." He suggested Israel's worst crimes are justifiable, when, in fact, they violate fundamental international laws and norms.

Israeli Delegitimization

Stephen Lendman

Under the UN Charter, other international law, and principles of sovereign equality, all states are equal. None are more or less legitimate than others.

Under the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, Israel qualifies as one. It has:

• a fixed recognizable territory;
• a permanent population;
• a functioning government; and
• the capacity to have relations with other countries.

At issue isn't its legal nation state legitimacy. Its lawless ideology is illegitimate.

It is corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful. It claims Jewish supremacy, specialness and uniqueness as God's "chosen people." It espouses violence, not peaceful coexistence. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy. It employs strength through militarism, intimidation, and naked aggression. It is contemptuous of moral values and ethical principles.

According to Joel Kovel, it's "a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses." Alan Hart calls it "the real enemy of the Jews," and no wonder. It's a monster threatening its host and all humanity, especially in partnership with its Washington paymaster/partner.

David Landy and his ‘Israel-Critical Jews’

A book review by Gilad Atzmon

Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: The Growth of Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel by David Landy

David Landy, an Irish-Jewish academic and a Palestinian solidarity activist has written a book about Jewish Identity and Jewish dissent in the Diaspora. The book, published on 7th July 2011, was largely ignored by most pro-Palestinian outlets and dissident journals. Almost four months later, Landy’s book was re-launched by JFJFP (Jews for Justice for Palestinians), in the hope, presumably, that it might divert attention from my own The Wandering Who?.

Following the JFJFP’s enthusiastic endorsement, I was looking forward to reading Landy’s book, expecting to find, for the first time, some arguments that may counter my own take on Jewish identity politics. But I was disappointed: Landy’s findings only supported my reading of the subject in general, and confirmed my critical take on Jewish anti Zionism in particular.

Like me, Landy, makes a clear distinction between ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and ‘Jewish anti Zionist activism’:

“I do not call them (the Jewish anti Zionists) Palestinian solidarity either” (pg. 6).

He prefers to refer to his ‘Jewish Diaspora dissident voice’ as ‘Israel-Critical Jews’. Landy has grasped that Jewish dissent is actually more about ‘Jewish liberation’ than about liberating others. It is largely about Jewish secular craving for identity as opposed to any attempt to really change the reality in Palestine:

“Few, if any, of my interviewees thought that they were working exclusively for the Palestinians” says Landy and goes on to explain that “This is partly because some participants think they’re protecting the Jewish collectivity from anti Semitism by promoting peace in the Middle East” (pg. 26.)

Such an observation should have alerted Landy to the possibility of something slightly dishonest within the ‘Jewish anti Zionist’ cell. After all, we know that Landy’s ‘Israel-Critical Jews’ completely fail to confront the Jewish Lobby in the UK or the USA. And if that were not enough, they will even join forces with Zionists and hasbara, and are clearly willing to use every possible means to stop others from attempting to expose the lobby and the extent of its political influence.

Despite Landy’s attempt to portray a growing, vibrant Jewish dissent, he is at least honest enough to admit that the Jewish Diaspora is largely supportive of Israel, and that ‘Israel critical Jews’ are still no more than a marginal calling. But this is more or less where the good news ends, for unfortunately, on every other front Landy’s book is totally lacking in substance.

Worldwide sanctions can erode Israel's fanaticism: Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Interview by Kourosh Ziabari

Born in 1945 in Philadelphia PA, Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester PA. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.
At Georgetown University he studied modern European intellectual history under the Palestinian ex-patriot Professor Hisham Sharabi. Sharabi and Davidson subsequently became close friends and one can date his interest in Palestinian, as well as Jewish and Zionist, issues from this time.

Dr. Davidson writes regularly on the Middle East affairs, Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. foreign policy. He has written several books of which "America's Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood" by the University Press of Florida is a prominent example.

Dr. Davidson joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East, the collective uprising of the Arab world, Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions of 2011, the humanitarian crisis in Libya, the prospect of anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia and the fate of Israeli regime in the wake of growing international isolation.

What follows is the complete text of my interview with Dr. Lawrence Davidson.

Universal Jurisdiction: a major tool for justice

Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson assesses the value of Universal Jurisdiction. He argues that it is “the best hope the world has to … hem in the criminal leaders of great power states who everyone had assumed were untouchable”, and urges citizens to protect it against attempts by Western leaders to undermine it in order to gain impunity for themselves and their allies.

One of the really progressive acts that followed the end of World War II was the establishment of the principle of Universal Jurisdiction (UJ).


UJ is a legal process that allows states that are signatories to various international treaties and conventions (such as the Geneva Conventions to prosecute alleged violators of these treaties, even when these violations are committed outside the country’s usual jurisdiction. This is particularly so if it can be demonstrated that the home government of the accused has no intention of bringing them to trial for the alleged offence. The assumption behind this principle is that the crime committed is so egregious as to be seen as a crime against humanity at large.

In the wake of the Nazi Holocaust and other such crimes against humanity, UJ was accepted as a necessary and positive legal step by almost all Western nations. So, with the images of concentration camps freshly impressed upon their minds, one can only imagine that the leaders who agreed to UJ in the mid to late 1940s never imagined the possibility that their own successors might someday be subject to its consequences. Yet, fast fowarding to our own time, that is exactly what is happening (albeit rather imperfectly).

The US national image and its contradictions

Lawrence Davidson

Benjamin Disraeli once labelled Britain’s government "an organized hypocrisy". That was in circa 1845. Things have not changed much and by now hypocrisy might well be seen as a common sin of democratic government. This is because in democracies straightforward honesty about behaviour that runs counter to the idealized national image is usually bad politics.

Among today’s democracies none proves this point more than the United States. The United States, like Great Britain in the 19th century, simultaneously acts like an imperial power and cultivates a national image as the world’s prime purveyor of good government, stability and progress. However, history has taught us that a nation cannot be both of these things at once. So the folks in Washington have created for themselves an environment wherein principle and consistency are impossible. Take, for instance, the following:

1. A stolen election in the Ivory Coast has resulted in active disapproval on the part of the US government. After all, this is not good government. President Obama slapped sanctions on the fellows who stole the vote and urged the United Nations to send more troops (some 9,000 are already in the country) to set things right. On the other hand, the November parliamentary elections in Egypt (presently a US ally) were an outright farce. The opposition was banned, jailed and otherwise intimidated. Not at all good government. And Washington’s response? Nothing. If you claim to be the prime purveyor of democracy in the world, are you not supposed to be consistent?

Palestine and the fate of the United Nations

Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson argues that the failure of the United Nations to deliver justice to the Palestinians has condemned it to oblivion and that rather than look to the UN to deliver justice, fairness and equity, civil society must mobilize to do what is right in Palestine, as happened in the struggle that brought down apartheid South Africa.

♣ ♣ ♣

The United Nations celebrated its 65th birthday (1945 to 2010) on 24 October 2010. At 65 the world body has lasted 27 years longer than its predecessor, the League of Nations (1919 to 1946). Will the UN go another 65 years? To help answer that question a quick look at what did in the League of Nations is in order.

Fall of League of Nations

The League of Nations was certainly not a perfect organization, infected as it was with the colonialist notions of its European founders. We can see that aspect of the organization in its mandate system which served as a cover for imperialism.

The League of Nations “was
ultimately destroyed by its in-
ability to project authority and
influence, as well as punish-
ment, on countries like bellige-
rent Italy and resurgent Nazi

But ultimately the mandate system is not what brought the League low. The fatal flaw was its inability to achieve its primary goal of preventing war by transcending the power of nationalism and compelling all states to end their quarrels through negotiation or arbitration.

What success the League did have in this effort was restricted to a category of relatively weak states. For instance, it successfully brought an end to disputes between Columbia and Peru, Greece and Yugoslavia, Finland and Sweden, and even, in 1921, Poland and a very weak Germany.

However, when disputes involved aggressive "great" powers, as they did in the 1930s, the League failed utterly. It was ultimately destroyed by its inability to project authority and influence, as well as punishment, on countries like belligerent Italy and resurgent Nazi Germany. As Mussolini observed while, with impunity, using poison gas on the Ethiopians, "the League is very good when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out." He thought of Italy as an eagle.

US attitude to other people’s national sovereignty

Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson considers why so many US officials, some ostensibly intelligent, end up blatantly lying or blindly following murderous orders without question, and why the general public seems to accept this.

Dr Susan Elizabeth Rice (DPhil, Oxford, 1990) is United States ambassador at the United Nations. She is a professional diplomat and foreign policy consultant as well as a protégée of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Rice, who is unrelated to Condolezza Rice, had a reputation of being a free thinker and a stubborn defender of what she thought to be proper and right.

This tendency to be independent of mind meant she had trouble with other, older career diplomats when, in the second Clinton administration, she served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. No doubt she soon learned that, in the world of diplomacy as in most well established bureaucracies, too much independent thinking makes you a square peg surrounded by round holes. In the long term one either conforms or leaves for a more accommodating career (usually in academia). It appears that Dr Rice has done the former.

Evidence of this choice came on 28 October 2010 when Ambassador Rice stepped out of the UN Security Council chamber in New York and began scolding the Syrian government for a "flagrant disregard" of Lebanese sovereignty. Syria is supposedly doing this by "continuing to provide increasingly sophisticated weapons to Lebanese militias, including Hezbollah…"

Murderous hypocrisy

Dr Rice’s charge is only superficially true and that is where she left it. For instance, she omitted the context of the situation and the whole recent history of Lebanon. She made no mention of Lebanon’s right-wing factions and the role of the United States and France in supporting their continuing divisive independence. She did not deem to mention that Lebanon’s horrible history of civil wars was finally brought to an end only with Syrian intervention. And, she did not tell of Hizbollah’s role as protector of the country’s majority Shi’i population as well as defender of the entire nation from the rapacity of the United States’ main ally, Israel. No, she did not put things in perspective, but rather got her orders from Washington to play the sovereignty card and thereby distort things for the sake of a highly partisan American position. And so, like a good soldier, she carried out those orders. She is now an official team player.

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