Russia’s Lavrov decries ‘plunge in U.S. journalism standards’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on January 16, 2019, that U.S. newspaper reports about an FBI investigation of whether President Trump was working on Moscow’s behalf reflected a plunge in journalism standards. Lavrov dismissed the idea as “absurd.”

It seems to me that this is a projection. Russia has a muzzled journalism. Its journalists lack independence. Even more so, Russian journalists have been murdered in recent times.

Criminality reigns in Russia from the highest reaches down. No law enforcement agency in Russia can investigate alleged criminality, in contrast to the U.S.’s FBI.

So the pot is calling the kettle black.

Source: “Kremlin calls idea that Trump worked for Moscow ‘absurd’.” The Washington Post. January 16, 2019.

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‘The whole nine yards’

We commonly use the expression “the whole nine yards” to mean absolutely everything. The origin of this expression stems from the military. As Alan Axelrod writes,

The length of a complete standard .50-mm machine gun ammo belt: twenty-seven feet.
To feed the gunner the entire belt was to give him (or the enemy target) “the whole nine yards”; hence the popular expression for giving, getting, or doing absolutely everything.

from – Alan Axelrod, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: the Real Language of the Modern American Military. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, p. 205.

Macron: ‘Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism.’

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced nationalism: “It’s a betrayal of moral values.”

Nationalism is “the egotism of a people only concerned with their own interests,” Macron said on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. He was speaking to a gathering of national leaders to commemorate 100 years since the armistice that ended World War I. The armistice of November 11, 1918, marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany.

“By putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values,” the French President said.

This vision of France as a generous nation, of France as a project, of France as a bearer of universal values was in these somber hours exactly the opposite of the egotism of a people only concerned with their own interests. Because patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism betrays it. By saying we put ourselves first and the others don’t matter, we erase that which is most precious to a nation — that which gives it life, that which makes it great, that which is the most important: its moral values.

(as translated into English from French)

(As reported by The Washington Post, “Macron denounces nationalism as a ‘betrayal of patriotism’ in rebuke to Trump at WWI remembrance,” in its video stream, and by the Associated Press.)

U.S. to reveal ‘Deal of the Century’ to Israel in early November

from: Middle East Monitor (MEMO) | October 27, 2018

Israeli public radio reported that the U.S. administration would reveal the details of its “Deal of the Century” to Israel during the first week of November.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, is scheduled to travel to the region to meet with Israeli officials and reveal the details of the U.S. plan, Quds Press reported.

The so-called “Deal of the Century” is claimed by Trump’s Administration to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict …

(See MEMO’s original article with its pro-Palestinian rhetoric.)

Demise of the U.S. Consulate General to Jerusalem after 174 years

On October 18, 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the merger of the U.S. Consulate General to Jerusalem with its Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.

Citing significant efficiencies and increased effectiveness, Pompeo said that a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem will be conducted through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the U.S. Embassy.

Pompeo added that this action does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip. “As the President proclaimed in December of last year, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders. The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”

The Consulate General to Jerusalem was established as an independent mission in 1844. Since 1912, it has operated out of a complex on Agron Street in western Jerusalem not far from its earliest location in the Old City.

The U.S. State Department built a contemporary annex in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. Although styled as an annex, this new campus is larger than the facilities on Agron Street.

In May 2018, the U.S. Embassy to Israel began operations on a small scale in the Arnona annex.

The Palestinian Legislative Council: moving closer to Jerusalem

“How can we reach Jerusalem?” So asked Ahmad Qurei (Abu Alaa), former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and earlier (1993) the director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR).

In his capacity as director of PECDAR and using funds from a Japanese grant, Qurei acquired land for the new offices of the Economic Ministry from a charitable trust. The parcel was supposedly in the village of Abu Dis, certainly closer to Jerusalem than the city of Ramallah. “Abu Dis is a village that belongs to Jerusalem,” explained Qurei. But, Qurei had actually chosen a location mostly within the Jerusalem municipal boundary, with Abu Dis to the east.

In an interview for Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR; see “Assembling Voices“), Qurei continued, “There is no Palestine without Jerusalem … I told [Yasser Arafat] that he was the only one that could create the necessary conditions. If he came closer to Jerusalem, he could create the conditions … his dream and hope was Jerusalem. If he could not reach Jerusalem, he would not have achieved anything.” The city of Ramallah, headquarters of the PA, is closer to Jerusalem, but not close enough.

So, Arafat’s strategy was to first move closer to Jerusalem. “The closer we come to Al Quds (Jerusalem) the closer we come to our national rights,” Qurei asserted.

Qurei hired an architect and began the construction project. Construction caught the attention of Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In a meeting with Arafat, Rabin wanted to know what the building was. Arafat answered that it was not for him. It was for Qurei. Qurei then claimed that the building was to be his own house, a building for himself, but it could be used for the government. Rabin insisted that the construction was not permitted. He said that it was a serious matter for Israel. Qurei also received pushback from the military and from a couple of Israeli organizations (Ateret Cohanim and Elad). Nonetheless, the ministry building was finished.

“Arafat’s dream, as President of the Palestinian National Authority, was to visit the new building, to stay for several hours,” said Qurei. For Arafat’s sake, the eastern room has a view of the Haram ash-Sharif and the Al Aksa Mosque through a wide window.

About the same time, Qurei was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council – the PA’s parliament. Qurei asked the architect to add a hall for the parliament.

However, the parliament building is still incomplete and unusable because the PA does not have full autonomy in Abu Dis where the entry is.

Looking back, Qurei viewed the building as temporary. Jerusalem as it was before 1967 was going to be the capital of the Palestinian state. Nothing less would be acceptable.

Even so, the building in Abu Dis is closer to Jerusalem than Ramallah. Asked Qurei, “Isn’t that coming closer to Jerusalem?”
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DAAR interviewed three Palestinians who objected to a center of governance that excludes Palestinians wherever they are. They voiced the spirit of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence: “The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be.”

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), they explain, is the true parliament of the Palestinian nation. The PNC (an arm of the PLO – Palestine Liberation Organization) still meets outside of Israel so that all its members can attend.

On the other hand, the local Legislative Council for the West Bank and Gaza is not sovereign, so how can it decide where to have a capital?

Fajr Harb, activist, objected that “politically the location is problematic” and that it represents the end result of the Oslo Accords. The legislature of the PA does not articulate the common ground and collective fate of Palestinians. It could be regarded not as a parliament but more like a municipality’s council, said Harb.
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See a photo, a map and an aerial view (from DAAR). The Guardian also covered the subject of the legislative building.