U.S., Israel, & Cuba

Plus Fox News and Congress
{Updated: Tuesday, January 26th, 2016}
       Havana, Cuba's capital, is a great place to visit but it has a myriad of problems -- such as nearby Miami, the U. S. Congress, Fox News, and, this week, floods. The above photo is courtesy of Juan Saurez and Havana Times.org. It shows that, beginning on January 22nd, turbulent seas, even on sunny days, have sent waves cascading over the famed Malecon seawall creating dire problems blocks away. 
        Denis McDonough is a very brave man. How in the world do I know that? Well, he's President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff and he's totally unafraid of Fox News.
       This month of January, 2016, Denis McDonough even showed up on Fox News Sunday. That proves how brave he is. Looking straight at Fox anchorman Chris Wallace, Mr. McDonough very bravely said that his boss, President Obama, will close the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba during these final 11 months of his two-term presidency. Mr. Wallace bristled, reminding Mr. McDonough that, essentially, only right-wing members of the U. S. Congress from Miami and New Jersey could make laws or decisions regarding Cuba! Mr. McDonough responded with these exact and brave words: "He feels an obligation to his successor to close that. And that's why we're going to do it. Sure we are." Mr. Wallace, unaccustomed to such effrontery, bristled anew and grilled Mr. McDonough on the constitution, insisting that only a handful of right-wingers in Congress should be allowed to make laws and decisions pertaining to Cuba. Didn't he know thatMr. McDonough sternly and bravely held his ground, reminding Mr. Wallace that...no, he didn't know that!
       Chris Wallace unfairly grilled Dennis McDonough regarding the claim -- by Fox News and other powerful right-wing entities -- that McDonough's boss, President Obama, is anti-Israel. Wallace reminded McDonough that the U. S. Congress invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak against Obama's wishes. Many of the top Jewish scholars around the world, as well as Israel's leading supporters such as the New York Times, are direly concerned that Israel's dominance of the U. S. Congress as well as the conservative and right-wing media in the U. S., is encouraging Netanyahu's government to excesses that increasingly harm both its own security and the image of Israel and the U. S., which alarms many of their most fervent supporters. The free world, and surely the NY Times, is pro-Israel, and more realistic than Fox News or Congress.
        This photo, courtesy of Chen Galili, shows Dan Shapiro making a speech at a major news conference in Tel Aviv on Jan. 18-2016. No one is more Jewish or pro-Israel than Dan Shapiro. He is also the U. S. Ambassador to Israel. In this speech Dan Shapiro said, "Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes unchecked. At times it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to the rule of law in the West Bank -- one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. Israel has two legal systems in the West Bank leaving settlers' vigilantism unchecked." For those and other critiques, Dan Shapiro was called a "Jew Boy" by a key former aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, among other assaults that the historically pro-Israel New York Times emphatically called "unusually personal and unfair" in a major editorial that strongly supported Shapiro's remarks.
        Dan Shapiro, the U. S. Ambassador to Israel, is shown here with his dear friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime pro-Israel advocates such as Mr. Shapiro seem to believe that the right-leaning Israeli government is harming itself and the U. S. with such things as the continued settlements of sharply declining Palestinian land, something that even the George W. Bush and all recent U. S. administrations have opposed. But Israel, many pro-Israel entities believe, has more influence on the U. S. than Bush, Obama or any other U. S. President and thus the huge and unique economic and military aid from the U. S. is assured to keep Israel one of the world's most powerful nuclear powers. Indeed, Netanyahu last week asked and will receive a huge increase in U. S. aid to appease Israel after its disapproval of the Iranian deal. In the U. S., few are willing to criticize anything related to Israel out of fear of being called anti-Semitic. But Dan Shapiro is not anti-Semitic; neither is the New York Times; and neither am I and millions of other strong Israeli supporters who have, all our lives, repeated with sincere conviction that Israeli has a right to defend itself. But now Dan Shapiro, the New York Times, the United Nations, myself, and millions of other Israeli supporters are concerned that Israel's highly publicized treatment of the Palestinians and their small occupied territory is drastically injurious to both Israel and the United States.
       The same day the New York Times editorial strongly stated that Dan Shapiro, America's very Jewish Ambassador to Israel "correctly questioned" Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, Margot Wallstrom, the Foreign Minister of Sweden, made international headlines when she suggested that Israel should be fairly investigated for what she termed "extrajudicial executions." Ms. Wallstrom has since been sharply denounced by Israel and her comments have evoked such worldwide headlines as: "Adelson Newspaper Suggests Swedish Foreign Minister Deserves Assassination For Questioning Israeli Policy." Sheldon Adelson is the multi-billionaire American famed for contributing to pro-Israeli politicians and he owns major newspapers in both the U. S. and Israel. Such headlines and such comments from world leaders such as Margo Wallstrom deeply concern Israel's strongest supporters, such as Dan Shapiro and the editorial writers at the New York Times. Margo Wallstrom is "outraged over repeated examples of Palestinian teenage girls" committing suicide by supposedly threatening powerfully armed Israeli soldiers with knives or scissors after "saying good-bye" to their youthful peers in tightly occupied and devastated Palestinian territory.
     This breitbart.com photo shows Marco Rubio, the first-term Cuban-American U. S. Senator from Miami, trying to solicit a huge donation from Sheldon Adelson. The seriously ambitious Rubio is a very serious Republican presidential candidate and he also, many believe, has a very serious For Sale sign emblazoning his campaign. Such visits to court Mr. Adelson do not dispel that notion.
        Can a few billionaires like Sheldon Adelson propel their man, such as a Masrco Rubio, to the White House? Rubio's own comments help fuel such fears, such as his oft-stated comment that "my first flight on Air Force One will be to Israel." The inexperienced but For Sale Rubio doesn't seem to understand that on January 20th of 2017 there might be other priorities for the plane. 
       This graphic expresses the fear, a legitimate one, that one man worth $35.7 billion, meaning Mr. Adelson, might purchase the White House for someone like Marco Rubio. That feeling among democracy-lovers was greatly exacerbated when the U. S. Supreme Court recently and strangely ruled that billionaires could make unlimited political donations. Even before that ruling, democracy-lovers were appalled at the influence the richest Americans had over America's democracy. 
       The above photo courtesy of Hazem Baden/AFP is flashing around the world today. It shows the sister of 13-year-old Palestinian girl Rogaya Aber-Eid grieving as the girl was buried two days ago -- Sunday, January 24th -- after being shot because she supposedly threatened a soldier with a knife. The AFP also showed the world much more graphic photos of the girl's body and her distraught father. The constant international coverage of such tragedies provoke such things as the 28 EU nations sanctioning Israeli products made on Palestinian land, sharp denunciations of Israel by Sweden and others, and unfortunate headlines such as the one related to Mr. Adelson. That's why many of Israel's best friends and strongest supporters -- Dan Shapiro, the New York Times, etc. -- believe that the opinions of President Obama as well as all other living former Presidents Carter, Clinton, and the two Bushes should be considered in the U.S.-Israel equation that means so much to both countries and the entire world. President Obama's Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and the U. S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, are all-too-often overwhelmed when they try to explain their viewpoints to the likes of Fox News and the United States Congress.
       The above photo also floats around the world on a yearly basis, although Fox News and the U. S. Congress successfully convince most Americans to ignore it. Yet, a widely publicized 191-to-2 vote is rather hard to ignore, especially by the world's greatest democracies. The vote each October in the United Nations reveals that the entire world opposes the U. S. embargo against Cuba, all the nations of the world except...the U. S. and Israel. Because Israel is by far the greatest recipient of financial and military aid from the U. S., Israel has been mocked for having its vote regarding Cuba bought-and-paid for. But that's an unfair appraisal because Israel is a sovereign nation that has every right to cast a UN vote as it sees fit. Yet, the U. S. gives away a lot of other money and the wonder is...why can't it purchase the Cuban vote of some other nations? 
        Cuba always refers to the U. S. embargo as a blockade, which has been in effect since 1962. Cuba had a record 3.5 million tourists in 2015 and, thanks to President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the island, many of Cuba's best hotels are already sold-out for all of 2016. Tourists to the island, like the people in the blue car, will see billboards and signs such as the one above punctuated by a hanging noose. The billboard says: "Blockade: The Longest Genocide in History." While much of the world thinks the word genocide is an exaggeration, even historians attest to its longevity. Moreover, the vast majority of the world, including America's best friends, are ashamed about the image it casts, decade after decade, on the U. S and democracy. Supporters of the embargo, such as Fox News and the U. S. Congress, claim that Cuba merely uses the embargo as an excuse for its own multiple failures. Well, if that is so...why doesn't Fox News and the U. S. Congress have the guts to end it, like President Obama and the rest of world so fervently desire?


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