Setting the standard of intolerance. Some religions keep biblical times and culture in a contemporary suspension. Cutting off heads and ethnic purity. How the US operating in the Middle East has led to populist right-wing extremists in Europe, the Trump presidency and the so-called Clash of Civilisations. How the West has joined to become slaves of more wars serving what purpose?
These days, you can’t open an internet browser without coming face to face with the handsome, keffiyah-clad visage of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS. For weeks now, he’s been on a charm offensive, courting American politicians, tech giants, businessmen and journalists.
And they have been happy to receive him. From an interview on 60 Minutes (“At just 32, Mohammed bin Salman seems fearless and determined”) to a lengthy sit-down interview with the Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg (“He was jovial to the point of ebullience when I met him”) to TIME magazine’s cover story (“He looks like someone you knew in college, a big guy going on about something that seems really important to him”), MBS has been delighting the American media.
More below the fold …
In all of his meetings, MBS has been putting himself forward as the leader of a changing, modernizing Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, the 32-year-old Crown Prince has initiated reforms, including reigning in the the religious police, removing the ban on women driving and bringing Hollywood movies back to the Kingdom after a 35-year ban. And he’s acknowledged Israel, telling Goldberg, “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”
He’s even been meeting with American Jews. One meeting included Rabbi Steven Wernick, head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. Another included leaders from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee. (Both declined to comment for this article, and the Saudi consulate did not respond to a request for comment).
More from this author Batya Ungar-Sargon …
Joshua Wolfsun, a senior at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, never expected his college education to include the threat of a lawsuit. And he definitely didn’t expect it to include one from Hillel International.
“My sense going into college was that Hillel was a center for Jewish campus life,” Wolfsun told me of the organization that oversees a network of Jewish campus centers across the United States and abroad. Wolfsun joined the Swarthmore branch of Hillel [NYT] during his freshman year and served on its board for three years. (He resigned recently to focus on “job applications and senior-year wrap-up things” but remains involved in the organization.) “I expected it to be a pluralistic, open, inclusive space to explore Jewish identities and learn and grow.”
He doesn’t think so anymore. In 2010, Hillel International, the parent organization of campus Hillels, developed an explicit policy, officially named the “ Standards of Partnership ,” that prohibits hosting or co-partnering with individuals or organizations deemed anti-Israel or in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). Wolfsun and his colleagues at Swarthmore wanted to host a wider range of events and speakers than Hillel’s guidelines allow, and in December 2013, they declared their Hillel “open,” in rejection of Hillel International’s restrictions. In January 2015, the Swarthmore students began organizing an event featuring civil rights activists now involved in Palestinian solidarity activism who support BDS.
When Hillel International got wind of the program, the organization insisted that the program not proceed under its name. Liliana Rodriguez, then an associate dean at Swarthmore College, received a letter from Hillel’s lawyer that threatened legal action against the college if the program went ahead as planned. If the students or speakers “intend for this program to be a discussion in which the speakers present or proselytize their known anti-Israel and Pro BDS agenda, this would cross the clear line for programs that violate Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership and could be reason for Hillel International to seek to protect its guidelines, name and reputation,” Hillel’s lawyer wrote.
○ Swarthmore Hillel changes name after ‘threats’ from parent body
○ Chilling Effect, Swarthmore and the Free Culture Movement
○ Hillel International: Who’s Afraid of Breaking the Silence? | Tikun Olam |
Perhaps I have some Jewish blood in me as I have been as upset as some excellent Jewish authors about the relationship US – AIPAC – Israel – Neocon led foreign policy – US Empire of War and now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Continued with a new article by Richard Silverstein …
Jeffrey Goldberg published another one of his blockbuster interviews (he’s interviewed Obama once or twice and I believe Netanyahu as well). This time his “get” was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed ibn Salman, who is in the midst of an international charm offensive, touring the world to introduce his new “brand” on the international stage. He’s flashing a very large wallet full of Saudi petro-cash which he’s offering to arms merchants, infrastructure and technology companies in every country he’s visiting. Presidents and prime ministers are salivating on behalf of their own corporate titans at the prospect of tens of these billions flowing into their national treasury.
Saudi Arabia employs public relations consultants earning millions of dollars to peddle ibn Salman’s agenda in the media and to lobby legislatures around the world. That explains how Goldberg managed to snag this interview. Goldberg is known as the journalist every politician approaches if he wants to reach the American Jewish community-by which I mean in this case, the leadership of the major Israel Lobby organizations. As The Atlantic’s managing editor, he’s considered the Walter Cronkite of Jewish journalists. Instead of being like Cronkite’s Voice of God as a broadcaster, Jeffrey Goldberg is the Voice of Israel.
Saudi Arabia’s new alliance with Israel means that the Saudi prince, perforce, has thrown in his lot with the Israel Lobby. Ibn Salman understands the power it wields in American politics. If he wishes to influence our Middle East policy to attack Iran, then he knows that he must muster both domestic public opinion and political will to do so.
Ibn Salman, like many of his new allies in the Lobby, isn’t especially thoughtful or innovative in his ideas. In fact, he peddles the same old tired clichés about Iran we’ve heard for decades. Not only that, but in this interview he repeats ideas he’s already offered in previous interviews.
Princeton-trained Martin Kramer until recently of Tel Aviv University, who recently advocated using the Gaza blockade to force small families on the half-starving Palestinians, made a cottage industry of snarky and mostly false remarks about Informed Comment; and has a relationship with the so-called “Middle East Forum”, which runs the McCarthyite `campus watch’ and which was part of a scheme to have me cyber-stalked and massively spammed.
More recently I have provoked the ire of a burly former Israeli military prison guard at the notorious Ketziot detention camp during the first Intifada, who is among our foremost journalists of the Middle East and given a prominent perch at The Atlantic magazine- Jeffrey Goldberg.
Likewise, Jeffrey Goldberg just now accused me of wanting “to deny to the Jewish people a state in their ancestral homeland.” The fact is that a) I’m generally sympathetic to the states recognized as United Nations members. But b) wounded romantic nationalism of Goldberg’s sort is a pathetic remnant of the twentieth century, which polished off tens of millions of human beings over wet dreams about “blood and soil.” There isn’t any “blood” or “pure” “races,” and human groups have no special relationship to territory.
○ TIME Pimps for Attacking Iran – Jeffrey Goldberg Interviews President Obama
○ John McCain is a Dangerous Radical – Roots of ISIS and Syrian War
○ Obama’s Bullying of Israel
○ Putin Calls Out Netanyahu for Exploiting Purim Story to Disparage Iran
As I have written before, the election at the hands of right-wing UK and America of Donald Trump is Bibi Natanyhau’s revenge on the Democrats and the Iran Nuclear deal. All signs point in that direction and Trump lauds Israel by giving them all they wish. Soon the heads of the Persian Ayatollahs on a platter. The Book of Esther.
Posted @EuroTrib two days ago – 1 – 2 – 3 TO WAR :: 3 – 2 – 1 FIRE! .