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Tom Arms’ World Review


Anti–Semitism is rocketing worldwide. In London, the Metropolitan Police, reported that that incidents of anti-Semitism increased 1,350 percent since October 7. Similar figures are emerging from the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands….

This is because the Israeli government has become a symbol violent oppression and far-right intolerance based on religion.

And the sad fact is, too many people conflate Judaism with Israel. They fail to recognise that there are a sizeable number of Jews in Israel who do not support Netanyahu and there is an even larger number of Jews outside Israel who do not support his Likud-led coalition.

However, a large number of people instead wrongly believe that the actions of the Netanyahu government are a mirror reflection of the views of worldwide Jewry. This is partly because Israel was created as a homeland for Jews and all Jews have the right to citizenship in Israel.

In a way the global wave of anti-Semitism is in the interests of Netanyahu. It reinforces the view of Jews as victims and allows him to claim that he is fighting for all Jews. Otherwise, why would people be attacking innocent Jews outside Israel?

It is complicated and sad. For many years – while successive Israeli governments struggled to establish the Jewish state against the odds – the link between Israel and Judaism worked in favour of world Jewry. Now that Israel is seen by many as oppressive and undemocratic it works against then.

West Bank

Spare a thought for the West Bank. In fact, focus on it, because if you fail to do so, it may well erupt into an even more violent conflagration then what we are seeing in Gaza.

The West Bank, unlike Gaza, is not under the control of Hamas. It is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority which in turn is controlled by the remnants of the PLO. In reality, however, security on the West Bank is in the hands of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) which means Israel controls the West Bank.

Eighty-two percent of the West Bank’s residents are Palestinians. The remainder are Jews. They are illegal because since 1967 the international community has refused to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory and branded most of the Jewish settlements as illegal.

There are an estimated 600,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Most of them are Orthodox Jews who claim the land as part of God’s contract with the Jews.

As the number of Illegal settlers have increased so have demands that the West Bank (Judea and Samaria of the Old Testament) be formally annexed. To help matters along, some settlers have taken to attacking Palestinian settlements, driving them out of their homes and, in some cases, murdering them.

Some members of the current Israeli cabinet are, in fact, illegal West Bank settlers. One of them, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is responsible for security issues. He has been seen in recent weeks handing out guns to settlers on the West Bank.

Since 7 October the settlers have increased their attacks on West Bank Palestinians partly because they see an opportunity and partly to pre-empt retribution by West Bank Palestinians in support for their countrymen trapped in Gaza. According to the UN, nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in settler attacks since 7 October. The UN adds that the Israeli army has done nothing to stop the attacks.

There is little that West Bank Palestinians can do in response. There have been demonstrations in Ramallah, Hebron or Nablus, but security is tightly controlled by the Palestinian Authority working in conjunction with the Israeli military. For the moment they have a lid on the security situation. But then, they thought they had a lid on Gaza.

USA Republican Party

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Observations of an expat: Unlikely hero

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is on the cusp of being an unexpected champion of democracy – albeit an extremely reluctant one.

As of this writing he is yet to utter that nasty four letter word preceded by the first person pronoun – “I lost”.

Nor has he graciously offered best wishes to his opponent. But, most important of all, he has not claimed – as expected – a false victory, branded the results “fake” or called on his military friends to stage a coup.

He has privately told leading politicians that he accepts that he lost; ordered his staff to work with Lula’s transition team for a peaceful and efficient handover of power and asked his supporters who have been blocking roads to go home.

The Trump of the Tropics has done a thousand times more than his North American political namesake to protect the sanctity of the ballot box which is the foundation stone of any democratic system of government.

Meanwhile, in the United States, some 400 election deniers for state or federal office are on the ballot in the mid-term 8 November elections. Many of these Republicans (yes, they are all Republicans) follow the example set  by their leader Donald Trump and say that if they personally lose it will be because of a fraudulent voting system.

Let’s make it clear. Reports of fake American elections are fake news designed to undermine the democratic process so that a group of politicians can illegally grab power.

Furthermore, that the forthcoming mid-term elections are one of the most important in American history. Many of the 400-plus election deniers are standing for state offices which control the electoral machinery. They have made it clear that if elected they see their job as ensuring the election of like-minded candidates.

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Observations of an expat: unholy alliance

The unholy alliance of the Christian Right and the Republican Party has conquered its Everest with the end of abortion in most of America.

It still has other political mountains to climb: Same-sex marriage, gay rights, equal rights, Christian nationalism, creationism, contraception, sex education, political correctness, gambling, pornography, Sunday trading…

But Roe v Wade was top target. It was the emotively totemic issue that united hardline conservative Republicans and Evangelicals and differentiated them from the rest of the country.

The alliance, however, may now be facing the downward slope. A poll taken just after the Supreme Court decision showed that 59 percent of Americans support abortion and 58 percent now want a federal law making abortion available nationwide.

The unholy alliance’s victory shows what religious fervour linked with political organisation can achieve. But the majority has learned the hard lesson of complacency associated with defending the status quo. They have been galvanised, are removing the gloves and have electoral numbers on their side.

America has a long history of mixing politics and religion. New England was founded by religious dissidents who sought to breakaway from establishment Church of England and for a long time set up their own theocracy in America. The US constitution was seen as a triumph of rationalism, the summit of the Age of Reason and a victory over the religious superstition of the medieval world.

For about 100 years enlightened reasoning – with exceptions – reigned largely supreme within the American corridors of power. Then along came Darwin and the church split between the fundamentalists who dismissed evolution as heresy and those who reluctantly accepted it as the logical fruit of science.

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Observations of an expat: Politics of fear and loathing

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Fear is the major political currency of America’s Republican Party. The traditionalists are frightened of socialism. They are scared of big government. They dread the thought of a diminished suburban life style.  They are panic-stricken at the thought of losing their guns that protect from the forces of both the law and lawlessness. But most of all, in an increasingly racially divided society, the long dominant White population is terrified of becoming a minority.

Republicans will deny that they are racists. But the fact is that race issues have been a dominant theme in American politics from the arrival of the first African slaves in 1619, to the genocidal elimination of Native Americans, the Civil War, segregation, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Act and, finally, Trump’s wall.

They are not overly concerned with constitutional rights (except perhaps their interpretation of the Second Amendment). Enforcement of the rule of law is not at the top of agenda (except as it pertains to the protection of property). Whether or not their president is a tax-evading, misogynistic, narcissistic, racist, incompetent foul-mouthed liar is of little interest. They accept that he is a bastard. But he is their bastard. Even a global pandemic which has left more Americans dead than in any other country takes a back seat to the battle to preserve the fabled American dream.

America is a largely conservative society. Donald Trump is in the White House because he has successfully managed to persuade Americans that he is their best bet for fighting off the foreign hordes and ideas that run counter to perceived American values. In this election, the American right has gone to war; and, as in any war, the first casualty is truth.

That was obvious from the Republican Convention where speaker after speaker uttered outrageous lies in pursuit of four more years of a Trump presidency. Former Army Colonel turned anti-abortionist nun, Sister Deidre Byrne, accused Joe Biden and Kamala Harris of supporting not only late-term abortion, but infanticide as well.

Tennessee Senator Marshal Blackburn warned: “If the Democrats have their way, they would keep you locked in your homes until you become dependent on the government for everything. “

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Backlash against Trump in US elections

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Here’s a few stories about the encouraging elections in the USA last Tuesday.

Politico summarised the news:

This one was for Donald Trump. Exit polls revealed an unmistakable anti-Trump backlash Tuesday, as Democrats won resounding victories in governors races in Virginia and New Jersey. Majorities of voters in both states disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president, with significant numbers of voters in each state saying Trump was a reason for their vote. And far more of those voters said they made their choice to oppose Trump than to support him.

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The painful dilemma at the heart of the US Republican party

To win the Republican nomination you need to be a very right wing. The Republican base who vote in primaries tend to be very right wing. The influence of the Tea Party has exacerbated this situation. So Donald Trump is doing very well in the GOP (“Grand Ol’ Party” = Republican party) polls for the 2016 Presidential nomination. The more he says that Muslims need to be tracked on a database, the border needs to be closed to them and a border wall needs to be built by Mexico, the more the Republican core adore him.

I’ve lost count of the number of times commentators have expected a “Howard Dean moment” to befall Trump. It’s not going to happen. He’s like Boris Johnson. The more he makes embarrassing comments, the more a certain constituency of people love him. He can talk himself out of any corner. – Even if he uses the verbal equivalent of a 12 bore shotgun.

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    Are those rights reciprocated across the EU .. In national elections I think not ... Only UK citizens should have the right to vote in national elections....