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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: November 2011

In retrospect, the single most important admission Barack Obama made during the 2008 campaign was when he said that we were moments away “from a fundamental transformation” of the United States. That should have given every American pause, and should have led to the country demanding to know just what he meant by that. Most Americans want a nation that works, an economy that flourishes and provides jobs, and a government whose leaders protect our national security and stand firm against America’s enemies.

There were many reasons why Americans voted for Barack Obama, but I doubt one of them was that they wanted a “fundamental transformation” of a constitutional republic: it always needs improvement, but does not need to be made into something very different than our Founders intended.

What our country has become in the few years of the Obama administration was made evident in a few seminal articles appearing this past week. The November 21 issue of Newsweek performed a very useful service by running a major article about the work of author Peter Schweizer, whose new book Throw Them All Out is making tremendous waves, including a segment on 60 Minutes.

Schweizer, a conservative writer affiliated with the Hoover Institution, has managed to make a major breakthrough into the mainstream media. As Marc Thiessen wrote in his review for the Washington Post (also posted at  the book’s Amazon page):

On Sunday night, CBS News’ 60 Minutes looked into this form of “lawful graft.” The 60 Minutes story exposed, among others, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for participating in a lucrative initial public offering from Visa in 2008 that was not available to the general public, just as a troublesome piece of legislation that would have hurt credit card companies began making its way through the House (the bill never made it to the floor). And it showed how during the 2008 financial crisis, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) — then-ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee — aggressively bought stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had received the day before from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have finally achieved bipartisan unity, when it comes to making millions through actions that would get average Americans a lengthy jail term. The term for what they are engaging in is “crony capitalism,” which conservatives and liberals should both demand be ended immediately.

One of the worst offenders is my own representative in the House, Rep. Shelly Capito (R), who sold between $100,000 and $250,000 in shares of Citigroup after leaving a briefing with Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. She and her husband then accrued as much as $50,000 in capital gains from the Citigroup transactions made throughout the financial crisis. When she next appears at a town forum in my community — if she dares to — I intend to publicly confront her about her activity and see how she tries to defend herself. I will tell her that as a conservative and a citizen, I find her actions reprehensible, and a good example of everything that is wrong with our political system.

Newsweek also printed an excerpt from Schweizer’s book titled “Obama’s Lucky Friends,” which presents the details on how the president violated every promise he made after coming into office in 2008. Schweizer notes the following:

It would take an entire book to analyze every single grant and government-backed loan doled out since Barack Obama became president. But an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies. The grants were earmarked for alternative-fuel and green-power projects, so it would not be a surprise to learn that those industries were led by liberals. Furthermore, these were highly competitive grant and loan programs — not usually a hallmark of cronyism. Often fewer than 10 percent of applicants were deemed worthy.

He goes on to reveal how the Obama grants were a model of what we mean by crony capitalism. A large proportion of the winners had Obama campaign connections; 10 members of his finance committee and a dozen of his campaign bundlers got taxpayer money for their own firms, and some politicians who backed Obama launched alternative-energy firms that got grants. As Schweizer writes:

The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.

One firm, Kleiner Perkins, that had Obama financier John Doerr and Al Gore as partners, found a $16 million investment worth $69 million. But did it create jobs, as the administration promised? Schweizer’s answer:

Meanwhile, the $24 million grant created 40 jobs, according to the government website recovery.gov.

Isn’t it amazing how the taxpayer dollar works? I guess they weren’t shovel-ready jobs for the calling. As for why it is crony capitalism, heed Schweizer’s explanation:

The[Energy] department’s loan and grant programs are run by partisans who were responsible for raising money during the Obama campaign from the same people who later came to seek government loans and grants. Steve Spinner, who served on the Obama campaign’s National Finance Committee and was a bundler himself, was the campaign’s “liaison to Silicon Valley.” His responsibilities included fundraising, recruiting more bundlers, and managing Obama’s relationship with a cadre of very wealthy donors. After the 2008 campaign, Spinner joined the Department of Energy as the “chief strategic operations officer” for the loan programs. A lot of the money he helped hand out went to that same cadre of wealthy Silicon Valley campaign donors. He also sat on the White House Business Council, which is made up of Obama-supporting corporate executives.

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This week, the Spanish people won a major victory by turning out the Socialist government that had been in power since 2004. As many will recall, the conservative People’s Party had, as a friend of mine e-mailed me earlier today,  won after a major terrorist attack “by cynically exploiting the terrorist tragedy a few days before the election and reversing what otherwise would have been a sure reelection victory for Aznar’s People’s Party. Aznar had presided over an economic boom for Spain, and the Socialists have turned it into an economic catastrophe.”

So Spain’s people have wisely turned to conservatives to seek a way back to economic prosperity, rather than keep putting in power a left-wing party that seeks to extend an unsustainable welfare state in such a manner that leads to a loss of jobs plus pending total economic collapse. Clearly, the people of Spain do not want their country to become another Greece.

The question is whether our own people will do the same for the United States in the coming 2012 presidential election, arguably the most important one since 1932 and 1936 and the rise of the New Deal. The election is one for the Republicans to lose, and sadly, they may indeed do just that.

Yesterday, the annual Restoration Weekend run by the David Horowitz Freedom Center ended, and I must report that a spirit of impending doom hovered over the event. Pollsters John McLaughlin (not the TV host) who advised Bob Turner in New York’s 9th District historic election, and Pat Caddell, gave the startling figures that indicated how Obama might actually win an election that by all accounts, he should lose.

One question is that which all conservatives should now ask themselves: Which of the current Republican candidates has most of the chance to unseat Barack Obama? That answer is only one: Mitt Romney. In her address to the conference, Ann Coulter broke Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, that one should not speak ill of any Republican. She publicly made the argument that only Romney can win against Obama, and she then proceeded to skewer those who believed in backing Newt Gingrich as the true conservative in the race. Coulter went through Gingrich’s ever changing record, and showed how many times he took positions that were anything but conservative, and that dovetailed with those taken by liberal opponents of all Republicans.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Allysia Finley writes that “Republicans might not particularly like Mitt Romney, but they may have to learn to live with him if they want to take the White House next year. So suggests a poll released today by Purple Strategies, which surveys voters in 12 swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.”

When lined up with Obama, she points out, his negatives are less than those of any other Republican candidate, and “Mr. Romney also fares the best of all the candidates in a head-to-head match-up against the president, running even with him at 45.” Moreover, another poll taken yesterday showed that in the critical state of Michigan, Romney won over Obama by a substantial majority.

Yes, I know that Newt Gingrich is way head of Romney in other polls, and now is at the top of his game. But once the Freddie and Fanny mess registers with voters- and Newt’s own crony capitalism when he was out of office becomes widely understood- his own poll ratings will fall as did those of Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman.

Another thing to fear is the widening call among Democrats for a “draft Hillary” campaign. Will Clinton break with the administration, and give the o.k. to put her name into play by those Democrats who realize Obama’s slim chances for re-election, and acknowledge his growing unpopularity? Will Obama voluntarily step down and ask that she be the candidate, as Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen suggest in today’s WSJ?

They give the President the following advice: “He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

If Obama took this advice which he certainly does not want to hear, Republicans would have a very tough time winning. As Caddell and Schoen argue, “A CNN/ORC poll released in late September had Mrs. Clinton’s approval rating at an all-time high of 69%—even better than when she was the nation’s first lady. Meanwhile, a Time Magazine poll shows that Mrs. Clinton is favored over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 17 points (55%-38%), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 26 points (58%-32%)”

Hence they note that were she to run, many swing voters, independents and blue-collar Reagan Democrats would undoubtedly vote for her—guaranteeing a Democrat Party victory. The two pollsters are partisan Democrats, and they argue she would as president reign in the deficit, work to  create political reconciliation, move her party to the center, get bipartisan support, as well as save the social safety net.

At Restoration Weekend, Caddell passionately spoke about the need to save the country by defeating Barack Obama. Were Hillary not to run, Caddell obviously would be voting for a Republican, since he fully realizes the damage Obama has done to our nation, and if he won, as Caddell said, the country we all grew up in will cease to exist.

So it is not out of the question that if other Democrats feel the same way, the pressure may develop that is so great that Obama will be forced to step down, much as LBJ did during the Vietnam War.

So, once again, Republicans must look honestly at the current choice, and make the one most likely to give them a chance to run the only candidate with any possibility of winning against Obama, and were Hillary to run, have the chance to actually wage a strong campaign against her as well.

The time to keep going with an “anyone but Mitt” strategy must come to an end. If Republicans are serious, they should unite around Mitt Romney.











The Meaning of the OWS Day of Protest

November 17th, 2011 - 5:45 pm

Occupy Wall Street has carried out its day-long action throughout the country — blocking the ability of people to get to work, attempting to close down the New York City subways, and generally acting in a disruptive fashion in all the cities in which they carried out their activities.

Thursday’s New York Post carries the most complete and vivid coverage. The paper reported that “the march began peacefully, but quickly grew tense and escalated as cops arrested 60 people that had tried to jump over barricades near Wall Street. Others were cuffed and hauled off after they sat on the ground in defiance after cops had ordered them to scatter.”

By day’s end, nearly 300 people had been arrested in New York City for various offenses, including throwing vinegar in the eyes of four police officers, and for injury to some others who had harmful objects thrown at them.

Decades ago, when I was among the anti-Vietnam War protesters, I recall that the Left of that era had two chants. The first was “The people, united, will never be defeated,” which it picked up from various third-world revolutionary groups. It seemed to me that this was always said in the time in which the Left was on the verge of defeat. The second was: “The streets belong to the people.” Of course, that particular chant revealed our own arrogance: we were not “the people,” but actually middle-class students living off our parents’ largesse, and in the process of alienating the actual people, who were too busy working at jobs to join us in the streets, even if some of them did not support the Vietnam War. On Thursday, OWS had a variant. When police asked them to get off Wall Street, they responded, as The Daily News reported, with: “Whose street? Our street.”

In the day’s OWS protest, the motley crew of old New Left veterans, younger self-proclaimed socialists, Communists, and anarchists, as well as a bunch of New York University students protesting their private university’s tuition hikes, were to be joined by the SIEU and other AFL-CIO affiliates, who have decided to link their dwindling power to the OWS bandwagon — a move that will eventually backfire and lead to further erosion of trade union strength. After all, a movement that seeks to prevent working people from getting to their jobs is not likely to be popular with the union rank-and-file.

This week, even the usually hesitant Anti-Defamation League released a report that showed how much of the OWS included supporters of Hamas, opponents of Israel’s right to exist, and old fashioned anti-Semites. “History demonstrates,” Abe Foxman of the ADL said, how “time and again… economic downturns can embolden anti-Semites to spread malicious conspiracy theories and promote stereotypes about Jews and money. As a consequence, these statements must not be left unchallenged.” To date, no official representatives of OWS have addressed this issue.

A few days ago, the ADL released a more definitive condemnation, obviously because no one from the OWS responded to Foxman, who implied that the anti-Semites were just a fringe element of the protest.

Citing the endorsement of OWS by the BDS movement, the ADL statement proclaimed the following:

The first formal attempt to unite OWS and the anti-Israel movement came from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, the coordinating body of the global BDS campaign against Israel. On October 13, 2011, the committee issued a statement expressing solidarity with OWS and describing the objectives of the two movements as similar. The statement, titled “Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!,” called on Occupy protesters to incorporate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into their demands: “So as you break your own chains and build your own effective resistance against corporate tyranny, we ask you to demand a just peace for all the peoples in the Middle East…. Palestinians, too, are part of the 99% around the world that suffer at the hands of the 1% whose greed and ruthless quest for hegemony have led to unspeakable suffering and endless war.” ADL  also cites the words of Phyllis Bennis, a leader of the left-wing think tank, The Institute for Policy Studies, who put their united goals in these words:

“What we are really seeing there is really a classic example of the one percent, where most of our interests do not lie, controlling the 99 percent, the one percent being Israel and its supporters in the United States.”

Anti-Semitism, once condemned in the last century by the German Social-Democrat August Bebel as “the socialism of the fools,” is again emerging as part and parcel of the OWS protest in this country and abroad. It is clear that the participants and leaders see the two fights they are engaged in as one and the same. The ADL article continues with citations of anti-Semitic incidents all occurring at OWS protests in the last month. Read these if you are the slightest bit in doubt of the reality.

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Perhaps the biggest gaffe in last night’s Republican presidential candidate debate was the concept introduced by Rick Perry, and seconded by Mitt Romney, that when it comes to foreign aid, the United States has to start with zero. As Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and now at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institute points out, the “proposal to start each year with zero dollars in foreign aid allocated for Israel and all other countries would have a very disruptive impact on Israeli military planning and Israeli security. Perry’s idea is bad news for Israel and shows how little he understands its needs.”

Conservatives have pointed out, when discussing the domestic economy, that business needs certainty to make long-term decisions, and the Obama economic policies do not provide that, and thus help prevent the kind of recovery and economic productivity that we need. The same concern, however, holds for foreign policy as well, especially when it comes to Israel’s defense needs.

Riedel writes that the IDF relies on $3 billion in U.S. aid annually, necessary for its ability to maintain a modern defense force that has an advantage over its many enemies. The IDF, he writes, “knows it can plan multiyear purchases of jet aircraft like F15s and other weapons because U.S. aid will be certain for years ahead. Planners love certainty about everything, but especially budgets.”

Hence Israel’s armed forces simply cannot afford the uncertainty that starting from zero would produce, especially since although Perry and others say that Israel will get the aid it needs, each year it would have to send time making the case for such aid, and the constant need to renew the aid would interfere with joint maneuvers as well as the ability to plan for future years. As Riedel puts it, “If you start at zero, you plan zero.” Israel, he points out, plans its budget on multiyear cycles, and “friends don’t rethink their friendships each fiscal year.” While Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan and other Republican isolationists would no doubt be happy with such a policy, the rest of us should have good cause for worry were it to become new U.S. policy.

Riedel ends by arguing that the zero policy could “also send the wrong message to Israel’s foes,” as some of them might assume that perhaps the future would not be such in which Israel would have the kind of military support it needs to fend off threats from the likes of the Mullahs in Iran.

Writing at Politico, Ben Smith quotes Josh Block, a centrist Democrat who formerly was AIPAC’s Director of Communications, and how runs his own shop with Lanny Davis. Block responded to Smith’s query about how pro-Israel forces feel about the starting with zero policy with these words:

When Rick Perry speaks all I can think is oops, and even appearing to question our commitment to Israel certainly falls in that category. Foreign aid is one of the best investments we can make, and it represents one percent of our budget. Israel is special, and our aid to them is a direct investment in our own economy, since it is all security aid and is spent right here at home. If Rick Perry cares about American jobs and America’s national security interests he won’t equivocate about our commitment to Israel on aid or any other subject.

Perry’s camp responded in the form of a statement from Jeff Ballabon, described as a “hawk” working in Perry’s campaign. Ballabon answers that since Perry regards Israel as America’s greatest ally, “anyone wanting to exclude Israel from ‘Start at Zero’ must not believe in Israel’s value as our ally.” Perhaps. But as it is now framed, Israel too would have to wait for Congress to debate for aid is passed, and the debate and policy would greatly work to put Israel at a major disadvantage, despite what might be Perry’s support for Israel. Undoubtedly Israel, as Ballabon claims, would “set the bar” for judging foreign aid for any country.

But think a moment. In the current budget cutting times, we would see many left-wing Democrats and neo-isolationist Republicans begin to argue that the U.S. gives too much foreign aid to countries, when we need funds at home for our own people. Such a self-destructive policy might actually develop broad support, and produce a Republican isolationist and Democratic left-wing coalition, that could cut off a lot of foreign aid, that would then work against Israel’s security needs, despite the concern of many who advocate the “start at zero” policy. Moreover, as Block and others note, foreign aid in reality is a small percentage of our national budget, and a policy that gives a return worth far more in making friends for our country than it does were it cut down or abandoned.

Let’s hope that as the campaign continues, Perry, Romney and others who favor the “start at zero” concept carefully rethink that option—less some of those Jewish votes that might go to the Republicans in key contested states like Florida quickly go back to the Democratic column.






The Continuing Appeal of Communism in the West

November 9th, 2011 - 9:04 am

Just when you thought Communism was over, and no longer is a threat or has an appeal anywhere in the modern world, comes this dispatch. According to a three day meeting of experts on Czech Communism held recently in Prague, Communism still has a great appeal:

Communism is still a significant phenomenon and people may tend to see hope in it mainly in the times of a crisis, Jiri Kocian, deputy head of the Czech Science Academy’s Institute of Contemporary History, told CTK at the end of a three-day conference on communism Saturday.

According to the participants, many Czech citizens view the Communist era as one of “social certainties.”  In other words, they may not have had freedom, but they knew what they could get in terms of the basic necessities, insufficient as it may have been. The academic experts recommend that the textbooks in their country inform students what the reality of Communism was, and how it led to repression, political murder, and persecution. The experts made the following observation:

“The Communist Party is naturally more in focus of inhabitants at the moment when the state is coping with a certain crisis phenomenon,” said historian Jan Kalous, from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) that organised the conference along with the Institute of Contemporary History and the Czech Radio.

Kalous cited the example of the 1930s affected by the Great Depression starting in 1929.

Historian Jiri Pernes also said at the beginning of the conference that communism is a constant threat, among others because this ideology is comprehensible even for not very educated people.

Moreover, the poor will always blame the rich for their poverty and they will be striving for a change to their situation, Pernes added.

Two weeks ago, I spoke at a seminar in Prague convened by one of the sponsors of this meeting — The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes — on the topic of the uses in both the East and the West of the Rosenberg case and the Rudolf Slansky purge trial in Czechoslovakia which occurred contemporaneously in the mid 1950s. My audience was composed of some younger scholars, but mostly older contemporaries of the Communist era in Prague, who well remembered the reality of life under the Soviet satellite. I was told that today, few younger than they even know who Slansky was, and know anything about the reality of life under Communism. The findings of this recent meeting do not surprise me, since I had heard that during the discussion.

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Barack Obama’s Faux Populism

November 4th, 2011 - 2:41 pm

As Barack Obama shifts openly to woo the political Left, including those who endorse Occupy Wall Street, he is seeking to don the mantle of the serious left-wing populist, a Huey Long for the 21st Century, threatening the Washington establishment as the voice of the outsiders. When Long was alive and challenging Franklin Delano Roosevelt he created a “share the wealth” movement that was gaining ground quickly, and might have seriously harmed the President’s chance for re-election had Long not been gunned down by a disgruntled local opponent of his Louisiana tyranny.

Conservatives of the day did not like FDR but compared to Long’s demagogic and irrational economic policies that appealed to the have-nots with a quick and easy answer based on complete redistribution of wealth by the state through executive fiat, Roosevelt was a cautious moderate. Long gained a national backing when he openly criticized the New Deal’s failures. But Obama does not face any opposition from his own left wing, only scattered cries of dismay from people like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley whom most of their common constituencies see as a group of eccentrics.

Obama has decided to take up on his own the program and calls of the Left in the hope that come election day they will rally to his side as they did in 2008 to provide the local cadre to get out the vote from blacks, minorities and the middle-class that has been hit hard by the White House’s own disastrous economic policies. What better way to get their support than to deflect attention from the programs of his own administration, and join the chorus calling for attacking the banks, blaming Wall Street, and demonizing wealth creators.

But lately even former Obama stalwarts have pointed out the phoniness of the President’s sudden populist mantle. Writing in a recent edition of Time, Joe Klein, formerly one of Obama’s most passionate boosters, has dubbed the President “An Implausible Populist.” As Klein writes: “But there are problems with the President’s new populist tack. The first is the OWS movement itself, which includes a generous measure of weirdos, ideologues and free-range troublemakers. A recent, unscientific New York magazine poll of 100 demonstrators found that 34% believed the U.S. government is no better than al-Qaeda. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the OWS protesters managed, before long, to destroy the credibility of a worthy political complaint in a spasm of puerile extremism. The other problem is the President’s credibility as an anti–Wall Street crusader. He has none.”

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Judge Richard Goldstone has done great harm to Israel. The Goldstone Report, as many writers on this website have documented in the past few years, has been used by Israel haters around the world as the main weapon in the campaign to delegitimize Israel. This past April, Goldstone ran an op-ed in the Washington Post that he had submitted to the New York Times but which the paper’s editors turned down. In that piece, Goldstone re-evaluated some of the conclusions he had signed onto when the 2009 report was issued. Readers of that April op-ed could easily see its tentative nature and its rather half-hearted  repudiation of the original damage the judge had done.

But this morning, readers of the New York Times were stunned to find a new op-ed by Goldstone, which not only is a personal mea culpa of the most dramatic sort, but one that blasts one of the major arguments regularly engaged in by the hate-Israel Left, especially the reprehensible Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter. Titled  “Israel and the Apartheid Slander,” the judge, in effect, also answers the approach regularly taken by the editors of the paper in which his article appears.

Goldstone begins with noting that “it is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.” In effect, the judge is referring to his own previous report and those of its many leftist and anti-Semitic defenders. Most surprisingly, the judge, who grew up in South Africa and knows apartheid well, refers to the “particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again,” which “is that Israel pursues ‘apartheid’ policies.” In writing this, he is trying to head off in advance the mock trial taking place next week in Cape Town, held by the ’60s leftover of the far Left, the so-called Russell Tribunal, convened decades ago by the late Bertrand Russell as a mechanism to condemn the United States in the Vietnam War era. As Goldstone writes, “It is not a ‘tribunal.’ The ‘evidence’ is going to be one-sided and the members of the ‘jury’ are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.”

Most importantly, Goldstone calls the charge that Israel is an apartheid state an “unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel.” First, he tells his readers what apartheid really was in South Africa, and then concludes with the following:

In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

Turning to the West Bank, Goldstone notes that there, too, “there is no intent to maintain ‘an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group.’” While South Africa’s apartheid was meant to enforce racial separation to benefit the white minority, Israel “has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the west Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.”

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