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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Jewish Chronicle Publishes Uncut and with Teeth Clenched Letter Rebutting Jonathan Freedland’s Lies & Distortions

Jewish Chronicle Admits that Those Who Accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism Were Prominent in Defending Neo-Nazi Polish MEP, Michal Kaminski
Jewish Chronicle Letter 2.10.15.
It is both surprising and gratifying that the Jewish Chronicle decided to print without comment the full uncut letter which we sent them. 
The Jewish Chronicle has printed in full a letter from 80 Jewish people responding to last week's article in the Jewish Chronicle, Friends Who are Enemies by Jonathan Freedland.  It contains, without contradiction, a statement that its own editor, Stephen Pollard, the person who accused Jeremy Corbyn of associating with anti-Semites, was himself the primary Jewish defender of Michal Kaminiski, a neo-Nazi Polish MEP.  Kaminski had bitterly opposed a national Polish apology being given for the fact that Poles in Jedwabne had, under the watchful eyes of the SS, herded over 300 Jews into a barn which they then set alight.   His reasons? That the Jewish 'nation' should apologise because Polish Jews had collaborated with the Soviet Army. A terrible crime unlike the actions of those who collaborated at Jedwabne with the Nazis.

Polands' Jews, facing fierce anti-Semitism in Poland, from the Endeks and other nationalist rabble, especially in the rural areas, could be forgiven for collaborating with the Soviets, if they did.  But 90%+ of Polish Jews were exterminated in the holocaust, so this suggestion was even more outrageous.  His reference to 'the whole Jewish nation' (a mythical entity) is a typical anti-Semitic formulation.  Why, even accepting there is such a thing, should all Jews apologise for what some Polish Jews, in fear of their lives, apparently did?
'If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.”  Stephen Pollard, Guardian CIF 9.10.09.
Michal Kaminski MEP  the neo-Nazi MEP for Poland's Law & Justice Party and friend of the Zionists
Kaminski without the skinhead cut and looking more of a bespectacled neo-Nazi
 What is even more incredible is that this article by Pollard was in reply to Jonathan Freedland, [Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminskiwho has jumped in with both boots in support of Pollard's campaign against the 'anti-Semitic' Jeremy Corbyn.  It is as if Freedland just writes stuff he either has no real belief in or his memory is that bad that he can't even remember it.

One can get some idea of what Kaminski and the Polish Law & Justice Party is like from the following report, which was contemporary with Pollard's article:
“the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), (which) has banned gay rights marches for being “sexually obscene”. Its co-founder Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said that homosexuality will cause the “downfall of civilisation”. Another PiS MP has warned that Barack Obama’s victory would mean “the end of the civilisation of the white man”.”
The Jewish Chronicle's far-right editor Stephen Pollard.  Now reconciled with the  Daily Express's owner and Britain's largest porn merchant 'dirty' Richard Desmond.  Pollard is a member of the cold-war Henry Jackson Society and himself an ex-editor of the Express.  Has taken the JC down market and its circulation down with it.
Pollard complained that 'Jonathan Freedland attacked Michal Kaminski, the Polish MEP; Roberts Zile, the Latvian MEP; and me.'  For those who don't know, Robert Zile is even worse than Kaminski.  Every year in March, this vile reptile marches with the veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS, the same creatures who manned the concentration and extermination camps.  For Zionist apologists to defend such creatures says everything you need to know about Zionism's real attitude to anti-Semitism.   And for Freedland to run with someone like Pollard, who acted as their sponsor and defender, says something about how real and deep were the beliefs that prompted Freedland's original article.    Pollard's defence of Zile was that 'I can think of no source for evidence against Zile other than those who so disgracefully besmirch Kaminski.'  Clearly he didn't look very far.  It was all over the press.   In an article defending the Tories link-up with the European Conservative Reform Group on Ian Dale's Conservative Home blog, there is a comment from 'socialist lurker' stating that Ziles and friends are supporters of the Latvian SS.  Indeed this allegation eventually surfaced in the Jewish Chronicle itself, in an article The little European problem that the Conservatives would prefer to forget by its Political Correspondent, Martin Bright, who is known to have disagreed with Pollard's defence of Euro-fascists.  Bright wrote:
Still more troubling for the Jewish community is the hard-right Latvian MEP Robert Zile, whose also sits in alliance with the Tories in Europe. Mr Zile is a long-time supporter of the Latvian “Legionnaires Day” rally which each March celebrates the Waffen SS.
Pollard - Kaminski's look alike - are they related?
But from this we can conclude that whatever motivated Pollard's attack on Jeremy Corbyn, it certainly wasn't anti-Semitism.  Pollard stated, incredibly as it might seem, that 'Kaminski is – as his record in Brussels shows clearly – one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.'  Note the conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  What he is saying is that you are not anti-Semitic, even if you hate Jews and want them dead, if you support Israel.  Supporting Zionism makes you 'one of the greatest friends' of the Jews.  The same, of course, equally applies to our own British National Party and English Defence League, which are both holocaust denial organisations as well as avid supporters of Israel.  Such is the consequence of the 'anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism' trope of the Zionists.
Robert Ziles - Latvian MEP who marches with the Latvian veterans of the Waffen SS - Stephen Pollard was foremost in defending him
And those like Jonathan Freedland, who ran with Pollard's allegations should put up or shut up. Freedland in particular he should know better since it was the Guardian's Comment is Free which printed Pollard's apologia for Kaminski on 9.10.09.  

Perhaps I am being churlish but usually where there are more signatures than a newspaper can print (79 people signed the letter) the paper usually prints the names at the top of the list that those who sent the letter specified.  In this case the Jewish Chronicle chose its own list!  The top 9 names as submitted to the Jewish Chronicle were:

Deborah Fink
Tony Greenstein
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Antony Lerman
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover
Professor Ilan Pappe
Professor (emeritus) Jonathan Rosenhead
Sai Englert, NUS

The top 9 names that the Jewish Chronicle selected were:
Deborah Fink
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Antony Lerman
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover
Ivor Dembina
Daphne Baram
Mike Cushman

Thus emitting from our list
Tony Greenstein,
Professor Ilan Pappe
Professor (emeritus) Jonathan Rosenhead
Sai Englert, NUS

I can well understand why, given my attacks on Pollard, he would want to exclude my name from the letter, despite having drafted and co-ordinated it, but quite what Ilan Pappe, Jonathan Rosenhead and Sai Englert have done escapes me!   However it would be pedantic  to make an issue of such a small matter.

The list with the full names below is:

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Letters Editor,
The Jewish Chronicle
28 St. Albans Lane
London NW11 7QE

Dear Sir or Madam:

It must be galling for Jonathan Freedland and those who allege that Jeremy Corbyn is happiest when in the company of holocaust deniers, to find their warnings falling on stony ground.  Their problem is that despite the dog whistles, even they cannot bring themselves to accuse Corbyn of being anti-Semitic. [Friends who are enemies Jewish Chronicle September 17, 2015]

Is it any surprise that the combined efforts of the Jewish Chronicle, Daily Mail and Board of Deputies have had no discernible effect?  Why should someone who has spent his parliamentary career opposing racism develop a soft spot for holocaust denial?  This is just another case of accusing anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians of being anti-Semitic.

Jeremy Corbyn has answered these allegations repeatedly, in the Jewish Chronicle, The Guardian and elsewhere but Freedland and yourselves aren’t interested in explanations but in trying to get mud to stick.

According to Freedland “…15 years ago he attended meetings of a group called Deir Yassin Remembered, founded by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.” Since Eisen didn’t reveal himself as a holocaust denier until 2004, Jeremy Corbyn and the many others attending a fund-raising concert in 2001, including rabbis and MPs, would have had to have had psychic gifts.  All these allegations rest on the word of a self-confessed holocaust denier.

What is particularly ironic is that the JC's editor, Stephen Pollard, has said of the anti-Semitic Polish MEP Michal Kaminski: ‘It would be harder to find a greater friend in Brussels.’  (JC 9.10.09.).  Kaminski was leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European parliament, a group initiated by Cameron and to which the Tories continue to belong.  He combined ardent Zionism with opposing a national Polish apology for the burning alive of 300 Jews in Jedwabne in 1941.

Notwithstanding the Jewish Chronicle’s campaign, thousands of Jews voted for Corbyn.  These so-called ‘community’ leaders do not speak for British Jews who are critics of Israel, oppose the Occupation, or support secular, rather than faith schools. We have no recollection of participating in any democratic process to elect them.

Yours faithfully,

Deborah Fink
Tony Greenstein
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Antony Lerman
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover
Professor Ilan Pappe
Professor (emeritus) Jonathan Rosenhead
Sai Englert, NUS
Barnaby Raine NUS NEC
Leon Rosselson
Ian Saville
Tony Abse
Daphna Baram
Thea Beyleveld
Rica Bird
Jay Blackwood
Mike Cushman
Ivor Dembina
Rachel Diamond;
Mark Elf
Michael Ellman
Pia G. Feig
Galit Ferguson
Shlomit Ferguson
Marilyn Finlay
Sylvia Finzi
Frank Fisher
Kenneth Fryde
Claire Glasman
Lynda Gilbert
Alex J Goldhill
Janet Yagud Hack
Abe Hayeem
Rosamine Hayeem
Tikva Honig-Parnass
Sue Hughes
David Hyatt
Yael Kahn
Michael Kalmanovitz
Paul Kaufman
Mark Krantz
Richard Kuper
Selma James
Ann Jungman
Leah Levane
Sonya Levene
Ros Levy
Les Levidow
Ruth London
Deborah Maccoby
Kate Mayer;
Mitch Mitchell
Dawn Overton Moses
Ofer Neiman
Diana Neslen
Leo Pollak;
A M Poppy
Caroline Raine
Roland Rance
Frances Rifkin
Dr Brian Robinson
Denise Robson
Michael Rosefield
Michael Sackin
Professor Raphael Salkie
Jennie Anne Sapherson
Amanda Sebestyen
Miriam Scharf
Glyn Secker
Sam Semoff
Ruth Steigman
Vanessa Stilwell
Steve Tiller
Sam Weinstein
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Miriam Yagud
Sherrl Yanowitz
Benjamin Young

On Behalf of Jews for Jeremy

The Lies that the Guardian's Comment is Free Tells - Israeli Labour Party assertions re its 'opposition' to settlements are allowed to go unchallenged

Israeli Labour Party Supports Netanyahu's 'Terror' Bill
Israel -- the 'only democracy in the Middle East'  besieged by enemies as seen by 'anti-Semitic' Palestinian cartoonist Latuff
Guardian Denies Any Right of Reply
Michael Biran MK - Israeli Labour Party  liar
The strap line for the Guardian's Comment is Free is that 'Comment is Free but Facts are Sacred'.  It would be more honest to change it to 'Facts are flexible under Freedland'.
The Guardian's resident Zionist 'liberal' Jonathan Freedland - Chief Censor and Gatekeeper - addressing main ruling class Foreign Policy Thinktank despite knowing nothing of foreign affairs
On Tuesday the Guardian published in its CIF section, an article, demanding clarification by Jeremy Corbyn as to his attitude to Israel, by Michal Biran, an Israeli Labour Party MK which was a series of lies by assertion.    
brave Israeli soldier confronting terrorist
 Its argument, such as it was, was that the British Labour Party was the ideological counterpart of the Israeli Labour Party.  Despite the appalling record of the British Labour Party, it has at least been the venue for continuing strife and debate between socialists and non-socialists for the past century.  The Israeli Labour Party however was set up, as Mapai, as an explicitly anti-socialist party.  It rejected co-operation with the indigenous Arab population in favour of a Jewish only state, which is why it was a Labour government, under David Ben-Gurion which carried out the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinians in 1948 (the Nakba).  It was always a nationalist party which rejected in its entirety the idea that the class enemy might be the capitalists – Jewish or non-Jewish in favour of an alliance with, indeed the creation of, Jewish capitalism.
teaching 'em young
 The central lie of Biran’s miserable article was that ‘‘The Israeli Labour party is itself a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy’.  This must be news to many people who remember that it was Labour governments, between 1967 and 1977, which presided over the first settlements.  The Histadrut, the fake trade union of the Zionists, always controlled by Labour Zionism, which was then the second largest employer after the state itself, built via its building company Solel Boneh the first settlements!
The 'anti-Semitic' Palestinian cartoonist Latuff showing how Israeli bulldozers face continual Palestinian terrorism

As the article below shows, when it came to the recent Terror Bill introduced by Netanyahu, which criminalises the wearing of t-shirts, facebook posts and makes any support for ‘terrorist’ groups – which themselves can be defined as any group the Israeli government dislikes – punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment, the ILP supported Netanyahu.
Terrorism means one's enemy - not one's friend
I sent an article to the Guardian’s Comment Is Free.  It was ignored by these guardians of free speech.  CIF prides itself on the statement of the Guardian’s most famous editor, CP Scott that ‘comment is free but facts are sacred’.  The truth is that lies about Israel are even more sacred.  At the suggestion of the Executive Editor of CIF, Jonathan Freedland, I sent in a letter instead.  To date it has not been printed either.  Below is the letter and article I submitted plus correspondence with Freedland.
Another 'anti-Semitic' cartoon by Latuff
The British Labour Party has never been the ideological counterpart of Israel’s  Labour Party
 [30th September 2015,

Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party is worried that the election of Jeremy Corbyn marks a break in the traditional support of the Labour Party leadership for the Israeli settler-colonial state.  He fears that it will no longer turn a blind eye to Israel’s murderous occupation of their land, to say nothing of the treatment of Israel’s own Palestinian citizens.  [The Israeli Labour party wants clarification from JeremyCorbyn

Another example of a brave Israeli soldier - part of the world's 'most moral army'
However Biran basis her argument on a fundamentally dishonest basis.  There is no basis for her assertion that the Israeli Labour Party is the ideological counterpart of the British Labour Party.  The British Labour Party has always been the site of fierce struggles over the meaning of socialism and whether or not it should be a party of managerial capitalism or a force for more fundamental socialist change in society.  The ILP, formerly Mapai, has always been a nationalist party which was fiercely anti-socialist [see Zeev Sternhell, the Leon Blum Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University, ‘The Founding Myths of Israel.’].  Mapai only came into being in 1930 as a result of a merger of Ahdut Ha'avodah and Hapoel Hatzair, when the latter was convinced that the former had  abandoned even a cursory commitment to socialism.
Terrorism - a Guide to the Perplexed (apologies to the Rambam/Maimonedes)
Class struggle never played any part in Mapai’s politics.  Mapai, a Jewish only party, saw the role of the Jewish working-class as a nationalist battering ram.  ‘From class to nation’ was its founder, David Ben-Gurion’s rallying cry.  Unsurprisingly it didn’t even acknowledge the Arab working-class in Palestine, since it sought replace them with Jews.  Faced with the Arab-Jewish Union of Railway, Postal and Telegraph Workers which was a bastion of the political left. [Gabriel Piterberg, Returns of Zionism, pp. 72-3] Histadrut, the Zionist’s Apartheid ‘trade union’ sought to incorporate them in order to hive off the Arab workers into a separate national section. For 46 years Histadrut, which was always controlled by Israeli Labour, refused even to admit Arab workers.  As an

The dilemmas of a socialist Zionist were explained by David Hacohen to the Mapai Secretariat:
‘I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there... to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought... to buy dozens of dunums from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism  as a socialist and to name him the 'benefactor' - to do all that was not easy.’
Michal Biran instead refers to the Israeli Labour Party as ‘a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy. We fiercely object to the current government’s settlement policy’.  Would that this were true.  Where is the evidence?  It was Mapai which presided over the establishment of settlements between 1967 and 1977.  Not once has it called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the dismantlement of the settlements.  Even the Oslo Accords which Yitzhak Rabin negotiated made no provision for a Palestinian state.

The Israeli Labour Party today cowers in fear of Likud. It doesn’t even dare stand for elections in its own name, preferring to stand as Zionist Union, with ex-Likudnik Tzipi Livni, just to emphasise their nationalist anti-Arab credentials.

In a speech to the Knesset Jamal Zahalke, leader of Balad, which is part of the Joint Arab List [Jerusalem Post, 7.9.15. MK Jamal Zahalke says Labor Zionists build kibbutzes on the ruins of Arab towns Labour Zionism invented racism says Joint List MK  spoke of how Israel Labour’s ‘"Miss Social Justice Stav Shaffir has never said a word to me. She's never even said hello to me! I am transparent to her. Arabs do not exist! Racist! Racist of silence! Racism of ignoring; I will tell you what that is! Ignoring the existence of a person!’

Zahalke called the Labor Party ‘the "mother and father of racism." "You invented racism. The people who took our land, who expelled us, weren't the ones who chant 'death to Arabs.' They're the ones who said 'we're bringing peace to you.' Shame! You should be embarrassed by the racism and discrimination!... Give us back the land you took from the name of universal values!"
"Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzes and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
Michal Biran seeks to fool the Guardian’s readers into believing that Israel’s Labour Party is no different from any other social democratic party.  You can’t however change a Zionist leopard’s spots.  As Asher Schechter wrote in Israel’s liberal daily, Ha’aretz [The 'terror bill' that outed the Israeli left’ September 8, 2015,] the ILP supported a bill that enables the Israeli state to define virtually any opposition to it as “terrorism”.  It is ‘so farcically wide it includes such actions as wearing certain t-shirts.’

Anyone expressing praise, support or sympathy for a terrorist organization could get three years. ‘A Facebook post would suffice to warrant serious hard time and since the minister of defence is empowered to declare any entity a terrorist organization, without any due process, ‘almost any body organization that might be seen as a threat to those in power - civic or military, the bill makes no distinction -can be dubbed a “terrorist organization”, and the people supporting it (or god forbid, wearing its t-shirts) instant terror-supporters.’

Yet ‘Zionist Union, the purported leader of opposition, voted for the bill and even enforced party discipline, despite serious objections from a few Labor MKs.’  This was no aberration.  There is nothing that Netanyahu and Likud have done that Israeli Labour didn’t do before them.  At least Likud have the honesty to be upfront and not hide behind warm words and slogans. 

Michal Biran may choose to forget, but people don’t forget that the Israeli Labour Party:

1.             Supported every attack against the Gaza Strip including Operation Protective Edge, which killed over 550 children.
2.             Was the party of the Nakba, the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 and the murder of thousands of them.
3.             Was the party that demanded that the Holocaust be played down if not ignored in order that the sole focus could be on building a Jewish state. They even opposed the rescue of Jews if that meant going to other countries. [Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem, p. 175. Pyramid Book, New York, 1972. Even Ben-Gurion’s official biographer concluded that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ [Shabtai Teveth, The Burning Ground, p.851] 
4.             Mapai was the party that kept Israel's Arabs under miliitary rule for 18 years, from 1948 to 1966.
5.             Mapai presided over apartheid in Israel.  93% of land was controlled by the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Land Authority, which meant Arabs could not lease or rent it.  The policy of not recognising half the Arab villages in Israel was a Labour Zionist policy as was the ‘Judaification’ of the Galilee and Negev.
6.             Mapai was the party that preferred an alliance with the National Religious Party, now the settler Jewish Home, to an alliance with even the left Zionist Mapam.   Labour granted the Rabbis the power to define who is a Jew for the purposes of marriage, birth and death. It accepted that there could be no civil marriage in Israel.  An Israeli Arab cannot marry an Israeli Jew, the foundation  stone of personal and social apartheid.
7.             Mapai was the party of the Suez invasion and supported every Israeli war, including that of Begin and Sharon in Lebanon in 1982.  It was a last-ditch supporter of the French in Algeria.
8.             Histadrut’s building company built the first settlements under Yigal Allon’s Plan which envisaged keeping the Jordan valley for 'security ' reasons.
Labour it was which pioneered the close military and economic links with Apartheid South Africa that culminated in the state visit of South African Premier John Vorster to Israel in 1976.  Vorster, who had been interned for his Nazi sympathies during the world war 2, made the holocaust memorial Yad Vashem his first stopover.

The Israeli Labour Party has always been a nationalist, racist and anti-Arab party.  The British Labour Party should take the opportunity of Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to break its links with this relic of British colonialism.

Tony Greenstein
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and founder member and first Chairperson of the Labour Committee on Palestine and founding member of Jews for Jeremy.

Thursday, 01 October 2015
Letters Editor
The Guardian
119 Farringdon Road
London EC1 3ER

Dear Sir or Madam,

Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party [The Israeli Labour party wants clarification from Jeremy Corbyn, Sunday 27th September] flatters to deceive.  Israeli Labour, an anti-socialist party from its inception, has never been the ideological counterpart of the British Labour Party.  It always rejected joint Arab-Jewish solidarity in favour of Jewish Labour.  As Labour Zionist veteran David HaCohen explained:

 ‘I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there... to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes....'

The statement that ‘The Israeli Labour party is itself a harsh critic of the Israeli government’s policy’ is laughable.  It was under Israeli Labour that the first settlements were established.  Perhaps Ms Biran has forgotten the Allon Plan of July 1967 which established a belt of settlements in the fertile Jordan River valley and around Jerusalem?  Histadrut’s building company, Solel Boneh, even built the first settlements!

Jamal Zahalka, leader of the Arab nationalist Balad party, recently described how Labour’s ‘leftist’ MK Stav Shaffir had always ignored him, unlike the right-wing Knesset members.  ‘She's never even said hello to me! I am transparent to her.... I will tell you what that is! Ignoring the existence of a person!’

Zahalke asked "Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzim and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
There is nothing that Netanyahu has done that Israeli Labour didn’t do before him.  At least the Israeli Right is honest enough to say what it thinks rather than hiding behind socialist rhetoric.

Yours faithfully

Tony Greenstein
Founding Member - Jews for Jeremy

On 1 October 2015 at 01:00, Tony Greenstein <> wrote:
Dear Jonathan Freedland,
I would prefer that my submission should be in the form of a CIF article.  It is true that it is somewhat longer than the original but Ms Biran's article relied on simple assertions and in rebutting them it is inevitable that this will take up space.  A simple denial of the assertion that the ILP has been a vigorous opponent of settlements is hardly taking debate forward.
However, if your preference remains for a letter, I shall compose one and send one to the letters editor with a copy to you.

Tony Greenstein

On 30 September 2015 at 23:27, Jonathan Freedland <> wrote:

Dear Tony Greenstein
Thanks for this. My word count tells me that your proposed reply to Michal Biran is around 1480 words - and that her original piece was around 600 words long. Would you perhaps want to distil your response into a shorter letter for possible consideration by the letters page?


Jonathan Freedland

On 30 September 2015 at 05:00, Tony Greenstein <> wrote:
Dear Jonathan Freedland,
I sent a response to the article on Commen is Free by Michal Biran of the Israeli Labour Party The IsraeliLabour party wants clarification from Jeremy Corbyn 

I have not received any response from the editors and given the almost immediate closure of comments on  the article it would appear that despite your professed commitment to free debate, certain topics remain immunse from in-depth criticism.

I note that you yourself penned what is, even by your standards, possibly the shoddiest and dishonest piece that you have written.  I refer to your article 'Friends who are enemies' Jewish Chronicle September 17, 2015.  I can only presume that the article was written out of either malice or ignorance or perhaps a combination thereof. 

A braver soul than you might have thought twice about submitting an article alleging collusion with anti-Semites by Jeremy Corbyn in a paper edited by Stephen Pollard.  Pollard is on record as describing Michal Kaminski, the anti-Semitic and far-Right Polish MEP thus:  '‘It would be harder to find a greater friendin Brussels.’  (JC 9.10.09.) 

It is difficult to believe that you are unaware of this or the brouha over Kaminski and Robert Zile  MEP, another member of the same Conservative & Reform Group in the European Parliament, since the Guardian covered it at the time. 

You are the Executive Editor of Opnion at the Guardian and therefore responsible for CIF.  You are therefore responsible for commissioning an article that is a deliberate lie.  By all means let the Israeli Labour Party defend its atrocious record but to pretend that the ILP 'fiercely object(s) to the current government’s settlement policy' is a lie made only worse by the fact that settlements were begun and encouraged under successive Labour governments from 1967 to 1977.  The rest of the piece is simply a mixture of flatulence and bombast.

If your boast that Comment is Free but facts are sacred is to mean anything more than a ritual nod to C.P. Scott, then perhaps you would explain how the comment of Jamal Zahalka in the Knesset: 
"Who harmed us more, the Likud or Labor? Labor, of course. Likud built settlements next to Arab residents. You built your kibbutzes and your socialism on the ruins of our towns.’
can possibly square with the dishonest little article that you commissioned?

I am therefore submitting a response to Biran's article.  I have no illusions that you will live up to your professed principles and publish my response because hypocrisy and cant is second nature with what used to be called the Police State Democrats of the Guardian. 

Tony Greenstein

Haaretz Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Israeli left proves it's as culpable as the right when it comes to destroying Israeli democracy.

By Asher Schechter | Sep. 8, 2015 | 9:50 PM

A few days ago, the Knesset approved a bill that threatens Israeli democracy.

No, it wasn't the amendment that prevents state-employed journalists from expressing “personal opinions” on radio or television (that one will reportedly be repealed by Benjamin Netanyahu), or the bill allowing the state to sentence Palestinian stone-throwers to 10 years in prison without even proving intent to harm, both of which passed in recent weeks. Alas, anti-democratic legislation has become such a common occurrence in Israel these days that it’s hard to keep track.

The latest bill, though, is no doubt the most draconian of them all: a sweeping counterterrorism act that radically expands the government’s powers and the definition of what constitutes terrorism.

Given the flurry of anti-democratic initiatives, though, it barely registered in the media or in the public.

What also failed to register was that this last piece of wildly authoritarian, absurd legislation was endorsed by the sad spectacle that is the Israeli left.

Treasonous t-shirt?

The government-sponsored anti-terror bill that passed its first of three readings into law last week, after five years of postponements and during a special recess session of the Knesset, passed by 45:14. Zionist Union, the purported leader of opposition, voted for the bill and even enforced party discipline, despite serious objections from a few Labor MKs.

To understand just how much this represents a betrayal of everything Zionist Union claimed to stand for just a few months ago, when it tried to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s worth seeing what the new terror bill includes, and what it means.

The new bill incorporates all existing anti-terrorism laws into a single act, significantly changing some, and significantly strengthening the state’s ability to oppress anything defined as “terrorism” - which, under the bill’s definition, is so farcically wide it includes such actions as wearing certain t-shirts.

Those who publicly express “praise, support or sympathy” for a terrorist organization could get three years. A Facebook post would suffice to warrant serious hard time.

Of course, since this bill also empowers the minister of defense minister to declare any entity a terrorist organization, without any due process, almost any body organization that might be seen as a threat to those in power - civic or military, the bill makes no distinction -can be dubbed a “terrorist organization”, and the people supporting it (or god forbid, wearing its t-shirts) instant terror-supporters.

Negligent abetters

The bill also significantly broadens the definition of terror-abettors, to include those guilty of “negligently abetting” terrorist acts. In a clause that violates basic tenets of criminal law, people who provide goods or services to people involved in terrorism could be convicted of supporting terrorism, albeit unwittingly. The maximum penalty for aiding terror is equated under the new law to that for actual terrorist acts - 30 years.

The bill also significantly increases the state’s ability to use confidential information to convict suspects, and to withhold this confidential information from the suspects themselves. For the first time, it legalizes administrative detentions, finally doing away with the British emergency measures on which Israel based its controversial policy so far, and making it easier than ever to put Israelis and others in prison without trial.

“Terrorist acts” are broadened to include vandalizing “national symbols”, like Israeli flags.

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon, who did oppose the bill, defined some of its clauses as “totalitarian”. Indeed, it’s hard not to see this as the embodiment of the “Shin-Bet state” Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz prophesied about.

Yet the bill won a raving endorsement by Israel’s biggest center-left party. And why not? The bill is currently sponsored by justice minister and right-wing firebrand Ayelet Shaked – but it began as the brainchild of Tzipi Livni- until recently, the great white hope of the Zionist left.

Labor on a right-wing tear

Six months ago, during the elections, the Zionist Union presented itself as the antithesis to Netanyahu’s anti-democratic penchants, a staunch opposition against madness, a political party that represents sanity and tolerance in the face of the right wing’s ultra-nationalist, religious zeal.

But by supporting the terror bill, the single biggest party of the Israeli Zionist left has been outed as the accomplice of extremists. Instead of fighting for democracy, it has been exposed as a full-fledged member of Israel’s anti-democratic camp.

True, the Israeli left, specifically Labor, has been outed before. Hoping to cajole right-wing voters, Labor has veered more and more to the right in recent years. In the weeks before the elections, Herzog ran a right wing-lite campaign that said nothing about ending the occupation of the West Bank, but boasted of “understanding the Arab mentality” and “seeing Arabs through the crosshairs”.

In recent months, following Zionist Union’s defeat, the movement and its MKs have been on a right-wing tear, backing some of the government’s most controversial decisions. When it comes to the major issues these days, from Iran to BDS to censorship, it’s hard to differentiate between prime minister and opposition head.

Anti-democratic behavior, of course, is not new to Labor - it lies deep in its troubled history, as the party that first occupied the Territories, that started the settlements, that first institutionalized the discrimination and second-class-citizen status of Israel’s Arab population. Balad MK Jamal Zahalka acknowledged this historical fact just this week, when he brutally attacked Labor and its MKs for what he called their “racism” and hypocrisy. Joint List leader Ayman Odeh voiced a very similar sentiment in July.

But Zionist Union’s vote for the new terror bill goes beyond the problematic history and charts a new, worrying path for the party, as well as Israeli democracy itself. In its desperate, doomed quest to reclaim power, the Zionist left has given up its leftism. How can there be a chance of meaningful change, if when faced with this kind of oppressive bill, the opposition doesn’t even feign protest, but simply endorses it? Meretz and Hadash alone seem to be the puny, scattered remains of the Israeli left.

From abroad, it is tempting to see Israel’s political system as divided almost-equally by left and right. Throughout the elections, this has been the accepted narrative that appeared in world media. But if Zionist Union’s vote for the terror bill proves anything, it is that the left is not the savior of Israeli democracy - in fact, it seems determined to be its pallbearer.

Asher Schechter
Haaretz Contributor

Still Destabilising Regimes that Help the Poor - The United State, Democracy and South America

There are still many people who believe that United States foreign policy is dictated by concern for peace, poverty and human rights.  Many of them are to be found amongst Labour MPs, not least in the Shadow Cabinet.  The main protagonist of such thinking in Britain is the BBC  - which some people are still concerned to 'defend' against the wicked Tory government.

The reality is that the US has consistently, since  WW2 and before, aimed to ensure that South American countries are ruled by Juntas and regimes that serve the interests of US multinationals, as opposed to their own people.  The names of Pinochet (Chile), Videla (Argentina), Rios Montt (Guatemala), Stroessner (Paraguay), Somoza (Nicaragua) are just some of the blood thirsty tyrants who were allies of the land of the free.
The article below shows that although the USA in recent years has been distracted by the Middle East, it has not taken its eye off the ball in South America.  However it is weaker now than ever before as witnessed by its inability to mount a coup against  Hugo Chavez and its reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Tony Greenstein


US diplomatic cables reveal a coordinated assault against Latin America’s left-wing governments.

By Alexander Main & Dan Beeton
Earlier this summer, the world watched Greece try to resist a disastrous neoliberal diktat and get a painful thrashing in the process.
Rafael Correa of Bolivia - another US target
When Greece’s left government decided to hold a national referendum on the troika-imposed austerity program, the European Central Bank retaliated by restricting liquidity for Greek banks. This triggered a prolonged bank closure and plunged Greece further into recession.

The US tries to engineer border disputes with neighbouring countries to destabilise Venezuela

Though Greek voters ended up massively rejecting austerity, Germany and the European creditor cartel were able to subvert democracy and get exactly what they wanted: complete submission to their neoliberal agenda.
In the last decade and a half, a similar fight against neoliberalism has been waged across the breadth of an entire continent, and mostly outside of the public eye. Although Washington initially sought to quash all dissent, often employing even fiercer tactics than those used against Greece, Latin America’s resistance to the neoliberal agenda has in large part been successful. It’s an epic tale that’s gradually coming to light thanks to continued exploration of the massive trove of US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Chavez and Argentina's President Kirchner who defaulted on IMF debt
Neoliberalism was firmly implanted in Latin America long before Germany and the eurozone authorities began force-feeding structural adjustment to Greece and other indebted, peripheral countries. Through coercion (e.g., conditions attached to IMF loans) and indoctrination (e.g., the US-backed training of the region’s “Chicago Boys”), the US succeeded in spreading the gospel of fiscal austerity, deregulation, “free trade,” privatization, and draconian public sector downsizing throughout Latin America by the mid-1980s.
The outcome was strikingly similar to what we’ve seen in Greece: stagnant growth (almost no per capita income growth for the twenty years from 1980-2000), rising poverty, declining living standards for millions, and plenty of new opportunities for international investors and corporations to make a quick buck.
Starting in the late ‘80s, the region began to convulse and rise up against neoliberal policies. At first, the rebellion was mostly spontaneous and unorganized — as was the case with Venezuela’s Caracazo uprising in early 1989.

But then, anti-neoliberal political candidates began to win elections and, to the shock of the US foreign policy establishment, an increasing number of them stuck to their campaign promises and began implementing anti-poverty measures and heterodox policies that reasserted the state’s role in the economy.
From 1999 to 2008, left-leaning candidates won presidential elections in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Paraguay.

Much of the story of the US government’s efforts to contain and roll back the anti-neoliberal tide can be found in the tens of thousands of WikiLeaked diplomatic cables from the region’s US diplomatic missions, dating from the early George W. Bush years to the beginning of President Obama’s administration.

The cables — which we analyze in the new book, The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire — reveal the day-to-day mechanics of Washington’s political intervention in Latin America (and make a farce of the State Department mantra that “the US doesn’t interfere in the internal politics of other countries”).

Material and strategic support is provided to right-wing opposition groups, some of which are violent and anti-democratic. The cables also paint a vivid picture of the Cold War ideological mindset of senior US emissaries and show them attempting to use coercive measures reminiscent of the recent chokehold applied to Greek democracy.

Unsurprisingly, the major media has largely missed or ignored this disturbing chronicle of imperial aggression, preferring to focus instead on US diplomats’ accounts of potentially embarrassing or illicit actions taken by foreign officials. The few pundits that have offered bigger picture analysis of the cables typically assert that there is no significant gap between US official rhetoric and the reality depicted in the cables.

In the words of one US international relations analyst, “one doesn’t get an image of the United States as this all-powerful puppet master trying to pull the strings of various governments around the world to serve its corporate interests.”

A close look at the cables, however, clearly belies this assertion.

“This is Not Blackmail”

In late 2005, Evo Morales won a landslide victory in the Bolivian presidential elections on a platform of constitutional reform, indigenous rights, and a promise to combat poverty and neoliberalism. On January 3, just two days after his inauguration, Morales received a visit from US Ambassador David L. Greenlee. The ambassador cut straight to the chase: US-vetted multilateral assistance to Bolivia would hinge on the good behavior of the Morales government. It could have been a scene from The Godfather:

[The ambassador] showed the crucial importance of US contributions to key international financial [sic] on which Bolivia depended for assistance, such as the International Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “When you think of the IDB, you should think of the US,” the Ambassador said. “This is not blackmail, it is simple reality.”

Nevertheless, Morales stuck to his agenda. Over the next few days he forged ahead with plans to re-regulate labor markets, re-nationalize the hydrocarbons industry and deepen cooperation with Washington’s arch-nemesis Hugo Chávez.

In response, Greenlee suggested a “menu of options” to try to force Morales to bend to the will of his government. These included: vetoing multi-million dollar multilateral loans, postponing scheduled multilateral debt relief, discouraging Millennium Challenge Corporation funding (which Bolivia has still never received, despite being one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere) and cutting off “material support” to Bolivian security forces.

Unfortunately for the State Department, it soon became clear that these sorts of threats would be duly ignored. Morales had already decided to drastically reduce Bolivia’s reliance on multilateral credit lines that required US Treasury vetting. Within weeks of his taking office, Morales announced that Bolivia would no longer be beholden to the IMF, and let the loan agreement with the Fund expire. Years later, Morales would advise Greece and other indebted European countries to follow Bolivia’s example and “economically free themselves from the International Monetary Fund’s dictate.”

Unable to force Morales to do its bidding, the State Department began focusing instead on strengthening the Bolivian opposition. The opposition-controlled Media Luna region began receiving increased US assistance. A cable from April 2007 discusses “USAID’s larger effort to strengthen regional governments as a counter-balance to the central government.”

A USAID report from 2007 stated that its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) “ha[d] approved 101 grants for $4,066,131 to help departmental governments operate more strategically.” Funds also went to local indigenous groups that were “opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indigenous communities.”
A year later, the Media Luna departments would engage in open rebellion against the Morales government, first holding referenda on autonomy, despite these having been ruled illegal by the national judiciary; then supporting violent pro-autonomy protests that left at least twenty government supporters dead.

Many believed an attempted coup was unfolding. The situation only calmed under pressure from all the other presidents of South America, who issued a joint declaration of support for the country’s constitutional government.

But as South America rallied behind Evo, the United States was in regular communication with the leaders of the separatist opposition movement, even as they spoke openly of “blow[ing] up gas lines” and “violence as a probability to force the government to . . . take seriously any dialogue.”
Contrary to its official posture during the events of August and September 2008, the State Department took the possibility of a coup d’etat against, or the assassination of, Bolivian President Evo Morales seriously.

A cable reveals plans by the US embassy in La Paz to prepare for such an event: “[The Emergency Action Committee] will develop, with [the US Southern Command Situational Assessment Team], a plan for immediate response in the event of a sudden emergency, i.e. a coup attempt or President Morales’ death,” the cable read.

The events of 2008 were the greatest challenge yet to Morales’s presidency, and the closest he came to being toppled. The embassy’s preparations for Morales’s possible departure from the presidency reveal that the United States, at least, believed the threat to Morales to be very real. That it did not say so publicly only underscores which side Washington was taking during the conflict, and which outcome it probably preferred.

How It Works

Some of the methods of intervention deployed in Bolivia were mirrored in other countries with left governments or strong left-wing movements. For instance, after the return of the left-wing Sandinistas to power in Nicaragua in 2007, the US embassy in Managua went into high gear to bolster support for right-wing opposition party Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN).

In February 2007, the embassy met with the ALN planning coordinator and explained that the US did “not provide direct assistance to political parties,” but — in order to bypass this restriction — suggested that the ALN coordinate more closely with friendly NGOs that could receive US funding.
The ALN leader said she would “forward a comprehensive list of NGOs that indeed support ALN efforts” and the embassy arranged for her to “next meet with IRI [International Republican Institute] and NDI [National Democratic Institute for International Affairs] country directors.” The cable also noted that the embassy would “follow up on capacity building for [ALN] fundraisers.”

Cables like this one should be required reading for students of US diplomacy and those interested in understanding how the US “democracy promotion” system really works. Through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), NDI, IRI and other para-governmental entities, the US government provides extensive assistance to political movements that support US economic and political objectives.

In March 2007, the US ambassador in Nicaragua asked the State Department to provide “approximately $65 million above our recent past base levels over the next four years — through the next Presidential elections” so as to fund the “the strengthening of political parties, “democratic” NGOs, and “small, flexible grants on short notice to groups engaging in critical efforts that defend Nicaragua’s democracy, advance our interests, and counter those who rail against us.”

In Ecuador, the US embassy opposed left-wing economist Rafael Correa well ahead of the 2006 elections that swept him into office. Two months before those elections, the embassy’s political counselor alerted Washington that Correa could be expected to “join the Chavez-Morales-Kirchner group of nationalist-populist South American leaders,” and noted that the embassy had “warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future, and had actively discouraged political alliances which could balance Correa’s perceived radicalism.” Immediately following Correa’s election, the embassy cabled the State Department with their game plan:

We are under no illusions that USG efforts alone will shape the direction of the new government or Congress, but hope to maximize our influence by working in concert with other Ecuadorians and groups who share our views. Correa’s reform proposals and attitude toward Congress and traditional political parties, if unchecked, could extend the current period of political conflict and instability.
The embassy’s worst fears were confirmed. Correa announced that he would close the US air base in Manta, increase social spending, and push for a constituent assembly. In April 2007, 80 percent of Ecuadorean voters endorsed the proposal for a constituent assembly and in 2008, 62 percent approved a new constitution that enshrined a host of progressive principles, including food sovereignty, the rights to housing, health care and employment, and executive control over the central bank (an enormous no-no in the neoliberal playbook).

In early 2009, Correa announced that Ecuador would partially default on its foreign debt. The embassy was livid, about this and other recent actions, like Correa’s decision to align Ecuador more closely with the left-wing Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) group of nations (which was initiated by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004 as a counter-force to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, then being pushed by the Bush administration). But the ambassador was also conscious that the US had little leverage over him:

We are conveying the message in private that Correa’s actions will have consequences for his relationship with the new Obama Administration, while avoiding public comments that would be counterproductive. We do not recommend terminating any USG programs that serve our interests since that would only weaken the incentive for Correa to move back into a more pragmatic mode.
The partial default was successful, and saved the Ecuadorean government close to $2 billion. In 2011 Correa recommended the same medicine for indebted European countries, particularly Greece, advising them to default on their debt payments and “ignore” the IMF’s advice.

The Streets Are Hot

During the Cold War, the supposed threat of Soviet and Cuban communist expansion served to justify countless interventions to remove left-leaning governments and prop up right-wing military regimes.
Similarly, the WikiLeaks cables show how, in the 2000s, the specter of Venezuelan “Bolivarianism” has been used to validate interventions against new anti-neoliberal left governments, like those of Bolivia, depicted as having “fallen openly into Venezuela’s embrace;” or Ecuador, seen as a “stalking-horse for Chávez.”

US relations with the left government of Hugo Chávez soured early on. Chávez, first elected president in 1998, broadly rejected neoliberal economic policies, developed a close relationship with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and loudly criticized the Bush administration’s assault on Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks (the US pulled its ambassador from Caracas after Chávez proclaimed: “You can’t fight terrorism with terrorism”).

He later strengthened the government’s control of the oil sector, increasing royalties paid by foreign corporations and using oil revenue to finance popular health, education and food programs for the poor.

In April 2002, the Bush administration publicly endorsed a short-lived military coup that removed Chávez from power for forty-eight hours. National Endowment for Democracy documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that the US provided “democracy promotion” funding and training to groups that backed the coup and that were later involved in efforts to remove Chávez through a managerial “strike” that paralyzed the oil industry in late 2002 and plunged the country into recession.

WikiLeaks cables show that, following these failed attempts to topple Venezuela’s elected government, the US continued to back the Venezuelan opposition through NED and USAID. In a November 2006 cable, then Ambassador William Brownfield explained the USAID/OTI strategy to undermine the Chávez administration:

In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period [2004–2006] . . . The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

The close ties that exist between the US embassy and various opposition groups are apparent in numerous cables. One cable from Brownfield links Súmate — an opposition NGO that played a central role in opposition campaigns — to “our interests in Venezuela.” Other cables reveal that the State Department has lobbied for international support for Súmate and encouraged US financial, political, and legal support for the organization, much of it funneled through the NED.
In August 2009, Venezuela was rocked by violent opposition protests (as has occurred a number of times under both Chávez and his successor Nicolas Maduro). One secret cable from August 27 cites USAID/OTI contractor Development Alternatives, Incorporated (DAI) referring to “all” the people protesting Chávez at the time as “our grantees”:

[DAI employee] Eduardo Fernandez said that “the streets are hot,” referring to growing protests against Chavez’s efforts to consolidate power, and “all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees.”

The cables also reveal that the US State Department provided training and support to a student leader it acknowledged had led crowds with the intention “to lynch” a Chavista governor: “During the coup of April 2002, [Nixon] Moreno participated in the demonstrations in Merida state, leading crowds who marched on the state capital to lynch MVR governor Florencio Porras.”

Yet, a few years after this, another cable notes: “Moreno participated in [a State Department] International Visitor Program in 2004.”

Moreno would later be wanted for attempted murder and threatening a female police officer, among other charges.

Also in line with the five-point strategy as outlined by Brownfield, the State Department prioritized efforts to isolate the Venezuelan government internationally and counter its perceived influence throughout the region. Cables show how heads of US diplomatic missions in the region developed coordinating strategies to counter the Venezuelan regional “threat.”

As WikiLeaks first revealed in December 2010, the US chiefs of mission for six South American countries met in Brazil in May 2007 to develop a joint response to President Chávez’s alleged “aggressive plans … to create a unified Bolivarian movement throughout Latin America.” Among the areas of action that the mission chiefs agreed on was a plan to “continue to strengthen ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over Chávez.” A similar meeting of US mission chiefs from Central America — focused on the “threat” of “populist political activities in the region” — took place at the US embassy in El Salvador in March of 2006.

US diplomats went to great lengths to try to prevent Caribbean and Central American governments from joining Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan regional energy agreement that provides oil to members at extremely preferential terms. Leaked cables show that, while US officials privately acknowledged the economic benefits of the agreement for member countries, they were concerned that Petrocaribe would increase Venezuela’s political influence in the region.

In Haiti, the embassy worked closely with big oil companies to try and prevent the government of René Préval from joining Petrocaribe, despite acknowledging that it “would save USD 100 million per year,” as was first reported by Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives in the Nation. In April 2006,the embassy cabled from Port-au-Prince: “Post will continue to pressure [Haitian president René] Preval against joining PetroCaribe. Ambassador will see Preval’s senior advisor Bob Manuel today. In previous meetings, he has acknowledged our concerns and is aware that a deal with Chavez would cause problems with us.”

The Left’s Record

One must keep in mind that the WikiLeaks cables don’t offer glimpses of the more covert activities of US intelligence agencies, and are likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Washington’s political interference in the region. Still, the cables provide ample evidence of US diplomats’ persistent, determined efforts to intervene against independent left governments in Latin America, using financial leverage, the manifold instruments available in the “democracy promotion” toolbox — and sometimes even through violent and illegal means.

Despite the Obama administration’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, there is no indication that policy toward Venezuela and other left governments in Latin America has fundamentally changed.

Certainly, the administration’s hostility toward the elected Venezuelan government is unrelenting. In June 2014, Vice President Joe Biden launched the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, seen as an “antidote” to Petrocaribe. In March 2015, Obama declared Venezuela an “extraordinary security threat” and announced sanctions against Venezuelan officials, a move unanimously criticized by other countries in the region.

But, despite incessant US aggression, the Left has largely prevailed in Latin America. With the exception of Honduras and Paraguay, where right-wing coups ousted elected leaders, nearly every left movement that came to power in the last fifteen years remains in office today.

Largely as a result of these governments, from 2002-2013 the poverty rate for the region fell from 44 to 28 percent after actually worsening over the prior two decades. These successes, and the willingness of left leaders to take risks in order to break free of the neoliberal diktat, should be an inspiration for Europe’s new anti-austerity left today.

Certainly some of the governments are experiencing significant difficulties today, in part due to a regional economic downturn that has affected right- and left-wing governments alike. But seen through the lens of the cables, there are good reasons to question whether all of these difficulties are homegrown.

For instance, in Ecuador — where president Correa is under attack from the Right, and from some sectors of the Left — protests against the government’s new progressive tax proposals involve the same opposition-aligned business leaders that US diplomats are seen strategizing with in the cables.
In Venezuela, where a dysfunctional currency control system has generated high inflation, violent right-wing student protests seriously destabilized the country. The odds are extremely high that some of these protestors have received funding and/or training from USAID or NED, which saw its Venezuela budget increase 80 percent from 2012 to 2014.

There is still much more that we can learn from the WikiLeaks cables. For the “Latin America and the Caribbean” chapters of The WikiLeaks Files, we pored through hundreds of WikiLeaks cables, and were able to identify distinct patterns of US intervention that we describe at greater length in the book (some of these previously reported by others). Other book authors did the same for other regions of the world. But there are over 250,000 cables (nearly 35,000 from Latin America alone) and there are undoubtedly many more notable aspects of US diplomacy in action that are waiting to be uncovered.
Sadly, following the initial excitement when the cables were first released, few reporters and scholars have shown much interest in them. Until this changes, we’ll be lacking a full account of how the US state sees itself in the world, and how its diplomatic arm responds to the challenges posed to its hegemony.

Alexander Main and Dan Beeton work at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. They are contributors to The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire​.