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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Broken Ukraine

As published at Smirking Chimp, OpEd News, CounterCurrents, Unz Review, Intrepid Report and LewRockwell, 2/20/16:








I hadn’t even changed money when a guy in a military jacket approached me for a donation for Ukraine’s war efforts, and he was quite persistent too. This happened in Maidan Square, now turned into a death shrine, with photos of sacrificed soldiers scattered all over. Of different sizes, many were draped with rosary beads and/or accompanied by a flag, flowers, votive candles and/or pine twig. Many of the dead had faded or bled smearily. Some posed with pets, guns or cars. In his tent, a red bearded, smiling dude gave a thumb up. A chubby, bespectacled man hugged a tree, while a suited fellow appeared to be singing karaoke. Baby faced or wizened, all these men and a few women have died in a hopeless war with no objective save the American imperative to harass Russia.

As for their government, it is US-installed and seeded throughout with foreigners. Remember the tie-biting President of Georgia? He contributed 2,000 troops to the US invasion of Iraq then, egged on by Bush, decided to trade blows with Russia over South Ossetia, with predictably calamitous results. Mikheil Saakashvili is now head of Ukraine’s International Advisory Council on Reforms, as well as the Governor of Odessa Oblast, having been granted Ukrainian citizenship just the day before. Only a wrecked nation would recruit the wrecker of another to join its wrecking crew. Mikheil was plucked right out of Brooklyn, where he was moping to escape prosecution back home. The just-resigned Minister of Economy and Trade, Aivaras Abromavicius, was born in Lithuania and does not speak Ukrainian. Minister of Finance Natalie Jaresko retains her American citizenship, wisely, it must be said, so she can quickly jump off this sinking ship.

Taking the bus from Leipzig to Kiev, I crossed all of Poland and half of Ukraine. This took nearly 24 hours of sitting stiffly, with over 2 spent at the Polish/Ukrainian border. All of the 61 passengers but me and two others were Ukrainian. One was a World Bank financial advisor in her 60’s. Half Russian by blood and born in Tennessee, Carol, not her real name, has spent most of her adult life in Europe, working in Frankfurt, Moscow and now Kiev, with brief assignments to Manila and Banjul. Her father was a chemist on the Manhattan Project.

Out the windows, villages passed by, their houses humble and somewhat dilapidated, though a few were quite grand. Colorful churches cheered up the grim winter landscape, as did decorated wooden crucifixes. Here and there, a Madonna shrine. Stores and hotels also stood out. A cheeky motel mimicked a castle with turrets. Peddling seven heads of cabbage, a forlorn man displayed them on the hood of his rusty Lada. I spotted vehicles I didn’t know were still extant. Inside cement bus stops, well-bundled folks waited stoically. One shelter had a painted helicopter. Black coated women under flowery babushkas waddled down frozen paths. I even saw three horse-drawn carts. “You’ll see more off the main road,” Carol informed. “You know Adidas has saved many lives here. Their clothes and shoes often have these reflectors. Before, you had all these people getting run over because they were walking on these dirt roads at night, drunk.”

“This highway is in pretty good shape, though.”

“Turkish contractors had to be brought in,” she laughed. “The locals couldn’t finish it. They were so corrupt!”

As for Ukraine’s political and societal dire straits, Carol pinned it all on Putin. He wants to invade the Baltic nations and the rest of Ukraine. He is causing unrest all over Europe by supporting extremists on both the left and right. Putin is destabilizing Bosnia and buying off Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Before reaching Kiev, we paused in Lviv, Rivne and Zhytomir. I had seen enough concrete, Communist-era apartment blocks in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, but the Ukrainian ones seemed even more dismal. They contrasted quite grotesquely with the faux utopia of advertising billboards, where all faces were ecstatic, all bodies trim and fashionable and all products, even the most banal, lickably sexy. In Lviv, there’s a spiffy shopping mall called King Cross Leopolis. Over the next week, I would spot many more references to landmarks from that mythically prosperous Europe that most Ukrainians will never experience.

The outskirts of the capital were basically more of the same dispiriting Communist urban planning, but here and there rose new high rises that were not unattractive. I was surprised, though, by how beautiful and sophisticated the center of Kiev was. With much of the country’s wealth parked here, brand name shops were everywhere, but all were bedecked quite stridently with large SALE signs of up to 90% off. Whatever that was wrong with Ukraine before the Euromaidan demonstrations, it was clearly making progress, for otherwise there wouldn’t be all these shops for all budgets. Now, thousands of salesclerks and store owners stand around all day to look pleadingly at every passerby. As I strayed into the meat and fish section of the vast Besarabsky Market, each stall owner shouted a torrent at me to buy a just-killed piece of something, so that I had to wade through a sea of incomprehensible words just to get out.

Such a gem of a city would normally be swarmed with tourists, but I saw almost none. Taking the subway several times each day for a week, I was clearly the only alien, with the lone exception a black man who didn’t look all that comfortable. I heard no foreign languages on these extended rides far underground, and the Kiev subway is bizarrely deep. I wondered why most people did not hurry up or down the endless escalators, but those long, angled tubes were indeed soothing. A man sat down on a grooved, steel step.

Near Lisova Station, at the end of the red line, I found over a hundred businesses selling used clothes and shoes. Folks rummaged through enormous mounds, looking for suitable bargains. At one stall, one could even choose second hand skis and skates. Appropriate to their wares, these complexes were mostly shabby, with corrugated tin or plastic walls. Often, I walked on planks or dirt under tarps through poorly lit passages. Among the merchants, there were Black Africans, Arabic speakers and Vietnamese.

Vietnam’s only (publicly known) billionaire, 47-year-old Phan Nhat Vuong, had his start as an instant noodle magnate in Ukraine. Carol, “I ate Mivina noodles too. Everyone did. After the Fall of Communism, people had very little money.” There’s a Kiev high school named Ho Chi Minh. There are also North Koreans in Ukraine. They do some of the hardest agricultural works, such as picking onions.

Kiev restaurants that serve foreign foods, whether Japanese, Thai or Turk, etc., are almost always owned and run by Ukrainians. Sushi is hugely popular, with even chains like Burger Club and Mafia offering it. There are 22 Sushiyas, 17 Eurasias and 15 Murakamis. There’s a Chinese joint, Bruce Lee, one of only a handful. There are 32 McDonald’s, with one seemingly outside each subway station. At Minska, there are two. Taxi Bar, a 50’s styled American diner, is like a Day-Glo tableau from Grease.

Though its war and sinking economy have chased or kept foreigners away, Ukraine’s culture is intensely outward looking, with international references everywhere. Cigarette stands have images of New York or London. Inside a Kiev shopping center, there’s a gigantic English styled phone booth, with a Sherlock Holmes scaling it. At the same mall, there are fake cactuses and two effigies of Mexicans, one dozing, one climbing onto a ledge, as if breaking in. Kiev night clubs have names like Pink Freud, Rout 66, Carribean and even Franklin, with a huge picture of Ben towering over pedestrians. An American flag hangs in a neighborhood bar in Holosiivskyi. Ukraine, it is clear, wants very much to belong to the wider world, even as it’s receding in everyone’s rear view mirror. At least a million Ukrainians have already fled the country, and this number will only multiply as its human crisis deepens. In the warzone, many are starving or have committed suicide. Europe has another refugee crisis coming.

As of October 2015, the average net wage in Ukraine is only $136 a month, among the lowest in Europe. On Kiev sidewalks, people sell whatever they can, for example three plucked chickens on a piece of cardboard. In trendy Podil, a woman picked up her bare, stiff fowl at dusk and marched away in frustration, while behind plate glass windows, hipsters sipped drinks in fancy cafés. I saw a boy of about 14 stand stoically behind some beets, onions and garlics. On subway trains, wandering, clearly desperate people tried to push calendars, toys, candies or icons, etc. Riders looked away as they delivered their sad pitches. With nothing to offer, many begged with a sign and/or a sustained yet exhausted plea. Inside stations, some stood in silence with heads bowed. Plopped next to her crutches, a woman stuck her destroyed foot out. Instead of toes, there was but a bloody stub. A one-eyed woman had a cardboard sign around her neck. Outside in all weathers, many beggars prostrated most abjectly. On magnificent and still glittering Shreshchatyk, a crone was bunched up like a giant toad, face hidden, with a hand on the cold pavement and a cane next to her. Near Vokzalna Station, a black-clad, young and blonde beauty knelt under an umbrella while holding a sign with a photo of her son. Sleet was slanting down.

One shouldn’t be surprised by the obscene contrast in Kiev between comfortable, even affluent normalcy with stark destitution as largely caused by the war. As long as people are not dodging bullets or bombs, they will carry on like the rest of us, and if they can afford it, they will eat sushi and savor martinis. There were large ads in Kiev for a concert by the Japanese jazz pianist, Keiko Matsui, and Scorpions, a German heavy metal band, was also coming. The megastar Red Hot Chili Peppers will be in town in July.

Even in places of enjoyment, though, there are nods towards the war. In Kupidon, a hugely popular bar on Pushkinskaya, there’s a pork dish called “Crimea is Ours,” and a 75 cent pint of Lvivske 1715 is listed as “we drink so that Moscals won’t get it.” On the door of Baraban, a joint popular with journalists, there’s a notice below the MASTERCARD and VISA sign, “Dear Friends, you should know that by spending money in Bar Baraban you support Ukrainian Army and National Guardia, which fights international terrorism in the eastern Ukraine. We spend 25% of our turnover to provide necessities for our military.”

Inside, I met quite by chance Dmytro Potekhin. Son of a diplomat, former advisor to the Japanese embassy in Kiev and occasional journalist, Potekhin is best known as a US-funded and trained activist from even before the Orange Revolution. On August 7th, 2015, he was captured by Russian separatists in Donetsk and jailed for 48 days. Potekhin, “You know, I’ve visited Dachau, and the concentration camp in Donetsk is worse than Dachau.” He said that to me. Publicly, he has accused his captors of feeding him cold soup twice a day and hitting him hard once in the head. He claimed others were beaten bloody. As for Russians being terrorists, Potekhin declared on Ukrainian TV shortly after his release, “Russia annexed the Crimea and Russia is helping the terrorists in Donetsk, and Russia itself is a terrorist organization basically. We still for some reasons call it ‘country,’ for some reasons this organization has its diplomats in the UN Security Council, and here in Kyiv, but actually they are not diplomats, they are representing Russia, but they are representing not a country, they are now representing terrorist organization called Russia.”

In Kiev gift shops, they’re selling Putin toilet paper. According to Potekhin, it’s not Ukraine that’s disintegrating, but Russia. He explained that with the embargo and cratering oil prices, Russia has been forced to dip into its cash reserves, so it can last another six months maybe, maybe a year. As for the war, “We can easily take those provinces back militarily, but the bigger challenge is to prove to those people that we have a better model and future. When they see that Putin can’t take care of them, but we’re improving, they will want to come back.”

On the bar, there were two remote control tanks, one called “POWER KING,” in front of the Ukrainian and European Union flags. On the walls were two images of Che Guevara and one of Bob Marley. It was ridiculous to see Che idolized since Ukrainian nationalism is supposed to be anti-Communist, but such is the power of Western pop culture. Agreeing with me, Potekhin added that the bar owner had studied in the US. The music on the sound system, Cab Calloway, Roy Orbison, Gogol Bordello, Van Morrison, Otis Redding, B.B. King and Carl Perkins, etc., showed his musical taste. Beneath a photo of a pensive Miles Davis were these scrawls, “NEVER be bought never be SOLD” and “PAIN IS TEMPORARY BUT PRIDE IS FOREVER.”

Hearing American music everywhere, much of it black, I can’t help but conclude how greatly Uncle Sam has benefited from driving his black population into the deepest despair or half mad, for whether they moan most pathetically (blues), blather ecstatically or even incoherently (jazz), or lash out obscenely (rap,) the United States does not lose but gain billions of admirers. Blacks, then, are a huge component of Uncle Sam’s soft power.

Nearly each night, there’s a pianist at Bar Barbaran, and I was lucky enough to catch the inspired performances of Elena, then Anton Ryzhenko, who also had a snare drummer. Playing driven, obsessive jazz, the stern Elena kept her black, faux fur-trimmed hooded coat on and unleashed gorgeous runs although practically no one was paying any attention to her. Done, she took her small payment from the barmaid and left sorrow-faced.

A television host got off the couch to say hello to Potekhin, then turned to me, “We haven’t gotten anywhere. We’re still at the same place.”

“So what’s the solution?”

“Stay calm and carry on.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t stay calm?”

“We tried that the last time!”

Nothing makes me happier than being in a novel place, and though a distressed Kiev was still magical, I could feel no elation, for everywhere there were signs of grim endurance or outright despair, so that I was constantly reminded of how our small lives can be so casually destroyed by unseen hands. Men are most belligerent when they risk nothing. Born in a devastated country, I could see in Kiev more than enough of myself, so I cursed, if only under my breath, those who have reduced such a beautiful and dignified people to such a condition. Rushing up to me, a woman blurted, “Help me!” At dusk, at least two dozen ordinary, well-dressed citizens lined up in Maidan Square for a mobile soup kitchen. Surely many Ukrainians must know they’re being used. During the Soviet years, they suffered the Holodomor (in which up to 7.5 million starved to death) and Chernobyl on top of daily Communism. Now, they’re bankrupt and dying. To be unmolested for any stretch of time is a rare respite for any small nation.

For six nights in Kiev, I paid less for a room than one night in NYC, and my hotel was right on Maidan Square. An excellent and varied hot breakfast was part of the deal. One morning, I heard American English spoken behind me, the first time in several days. Before I could turn around and ask, “Where are you folks from?” I heard the woman’s hesitant voice. It was clear she wasn’t a native speaker. They weren’t Mr. and Mrs. Balanchuk visiting from Chicago. As they left the breakfast room, I could see a middle-aged man in a sweatshirt with “TOKYO” on it, and she was a young blonde who belonged in a glossy magazine. He’s probably convinced he’s saving her, the way Victoria Nuland has saved Ukraine.

For nearly three years, I was a regular commentator for Iran’s Press TV. On March 8th, 2014, I was supposed to debate Taras Kuzio, once the Head of Mission of the NATO Information and Documentation Center in Kiev. Our TV tussle never got off the ground, however, as Kuzio became enraged at hostess Marzieh Hashemi’s very first question. After a gruff response, Kuzio terminated the live feed and simply disappeared. I have never seen anything like it. One would think a US-trained and funded mouthpiece would be more eager to broadcast.

On April 19th, 2014, I gave Press TV another Ukraine commentary. Rereading the transcripts, both available online, I stand behind every word, so here’s the second, more succinct statement:

“America brings ruination to each country it interferes with. Just look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Ukraine. Just look at the continuing war in Syria. While posing as a force of good and democracy, the US brings nothing but destruction and death. My fear is that America will become even more violent as it collapses.

The US has instigated this entire crisis, but it is blaming everything on Russia each step of the way.

After it staged a violent and illegal coup against the Kiev government, it accused Russia of fomenting unrest in the Eastern and Southern parts of the country, but it is only natural that ethnic Russians in these regions would want to be reabsorbed back into Russia. They don’t want to be second class citizens in a country that’s wrecked by American economic manipulation, and they don’t want to be a pawn in a dangerous game of provocation against Russia, maybe even war against Russia, whom they identify with. Ukraine is being used by the US to disrupt the economic integration of Russia and Europe. The US is trying to prevent both Russia and China from becoming vital economic partners of Europe, because this would leave no room for the United States.”

You have to be insane or an American policy maker to think Russia would let go of its seaport on the Black Sea (Sevastopol) or Mediterranean (Tartus), and that’s why Putin had to put the kibosh on Uncle Sam’s hubris in both Ukraine and Syria.

Before leaving Kiev, let’s have one final cup of coffee. I had just gotten off the metro at Teremky, the end of the blue line. Negotiating the ice, snow and slush covered sidewalk, I noticed a strange bus painted with cupcakes, cakes and a large cup of coffee. On its roof were pine branches and fake presents.

Inside were lace curtains, seats lovingly upholstered in geometric patterns and an image of Times Square. The ceiling was fringed with plastic snowflakes and pasted with smiley faces and reflective hearts. A calendar said, “The TREE of Life.” Stevie Wonder was wailing, “I just called to say I love you.” The owner of this trippy establishment was a burly man of about fifty.

For more than an hour, I was his only customer, and I would be very surprised if he got more than a handful the rest of the day. Though he knew I couldn’t understand him, the man would say this and that and look in my direction. Though obviously friendly, not once could he muster up a grin or smile, the way strangers often do, especially when they don’t share a language. From seeing so many other empty businesses in Kiev, including a vast bowling alley nearby, I think I have a pretty good idea where he’s coming from.

The most laughter I heard in Ukraine was on the bus leaving it. The Milky Way expanded as soon as we entered Poland.





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22 comments:

Chuck Olroski said...

So true, "how our small lives can be so casually destroyed by unseen hands."

Only you, Linh, could meet the daughter of a chemist (on a bus) who worked on the top secret Manhattan Project! It's noted that original Manhattan Project big wigs met at California's Bohemian Grove, now a favorite spot for the "unseen."

I wish more Broken Ukrainians could read your Postcard, and somehow avoid having to eat from the alluring but poisonous American vine. Thank you for another learning experience.

jac.bane.sr said...

Thanks Linh, place sounds completely trashed. Remote "decision makers" get to screw everything up, we're supposed to assume they are doing their best under the given circumstances, but that pisses me off even more, because it looks like the damage is intentional.

According to some of the web, the state of the state is partly because of austerity via the IMF/Pentagon. The US appointed finance minister got to work selling off agricultural land, gas rights and other natural resources to American, European but not Russian investors. If you go to the IMF's website they are talking about "ending their program because of corruption". So the plan is reduce the population, starve people, spread poverty and carve it away from the Russians. At least, this is how Michael Hudson describes the Ukraine episodes.

Mark and Jolee said...

Linh, I can't tell you how sad I am to read about how low Ukraine has been brought. You, as always, focus on the human condition wherever you go. Really, I'm so impressed at how much you get out of every trip by meeting and talking to sometimes the most unlikely and interesting people.

We were in Kiev in 2002 on a longer trip through Ukraine and we thought the city was gorgeous, a true gem, as you say. The setting of the city is stunning - well, I could go on and on about how beautiful we thought it was. There were some miners staging a protest against the closing of their mines and we visited with them and gave them a carton of cigarettes that we had gotten to smooth the way at border crossings in case we needed it (we didn't). I remember a delicious meal we had on a boat on the river. The only other city we visited that rivaled Kiev is Odessa on the Black Sea. It was awesome but probably facing very tough times, too.

Congratulations on another great report. J and M

Rudy said...

Linh, that piece is downright stunning.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Chuck, jac, Mark, Jolee and Rudy,

I had more time than usual in Ukraine, so could observe and feel more, soak in more. I had a vague plan to take a side trip to Kharkiv, further East, but in the end it's OK that I didn't go, since each day in Kiev, I saw plenty. On my last day, I met a Vietnamese woman who had been in Ukraine 20 years, and her husband 30 years. Before everything went downhill 2 years ago, they were close to buying their first house, but now they're just hanging on, with her having a lunch stand, and him selling used clothes. They have three kids, one in college, and the lady was proud to tell me they all speak Vietnamese well. Though I didn't include her story in my article, talking to her added to my grasp of what's happening in Ukraine.

Linh

Rudy said...

“Before everything went downhill 2 years ago, they were close to buying their first house, but now they're just hanging on, with her having a lunch stand, and him selling used clothes.”

Well, they have to pay their share of the U.S. rescue somehow!!! <\snark>

“They have three kids, one in college, and the lady was proud to tell me they all speak Vietnamese well.”

And so she should be.

Ian Keenan said...

“Maybe you shouldn’t stay calm?”
“We tried that the last time!”

There is a tendency for victims like this man to blame themselves, but my hindsight immediately after the situation had deteriorated into violence was, why couldn't they have waited til next year's elections? The Maiden movement was an effective anti-corruption movement that prompted Yanukovich to agree in face to face meetings to step down and appoint an interim government. Uncle Sam liked the corruption but didn't like the fact that Putin responded to the EU's austerity measures with a sweeter offer for financial assistance and petroleum and Yanukovich took it. Maiden had been infiltrated by US-backed neo-Nazis who, forensic evidence suggests, opened fire on Maiden Square from the Maiden-controlled Hotel Ukraine and blamed the shootings on Yanukovich, then, as mounds of photographs and testimonies establish, locked in and burned alive over 300 activists in a trade union hall in Odessa after torturing them for hours - one recording preserves a pregnant woman screaming for help as she is being strangled with electrical wire.

A famine in the 30s and Stalinist corruption caused many Ukrainians to welcome the Nazi invasion, a portion of which shared a strain of Nazi ideology with the militias that took over the military and government departments after Yanukovich, including the Attorney General investigating the Maiden Square snipers. In WW2 there was also a significant faction that fought for a Ukrainian nationalism which opposed both Hitler and Stalin. This time the aftermath of overturning a corrupt government in the streets was the loss of the pretense of sovereignty. Nazism and Communism have both been banned by criminal code because both are now inconvenient to the puppet masters for different reasons.

Great stuff as always! I want so much to hear Elena play the piano, but language in your hands outshines that.

Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: Did you hear any discussion on the Chernobyl disaster while in Kiev?

Also, although your time is precious, and returning to your remark about "unseen hands," please consider looking at the following article,
http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/02/21/451429/US-political-establishment-Israel

For me this adds more pain and sadness to the Ukraine situation.

Thank you.

Rudy said...

Ian,

I was unaware of the magnitude and brutality of the Odessa Massacre, so I googled it. I have to thank you for pointing it out, but looking at the pictures was excruciating.

Rudy said...

Yo, Chuck,

“And it’s not only unprecedented, it’s embarrassing. Just as an American I cannot believe that the people of this country have allowed their leaders to be hijacked by a foreign power in this way,” Dr. Barrett observed.

Zionism and the creation of Israel is a manifestation of Jewish power. Because Jewish power is not classical military power, Zionism needed/needs a military proxy. That’s the role of the U.S. In order to use the U.S., Jewish power had to gain control of it. How this happened is explained by Alison Weir in her excellent book “Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel”. Alison Weir is the founder of the website http://ifamericansknew.org/ . The text of her book is 96 pages long (if my recollection is accurate), and is followed by 106 pages of endnotes. In it you will find, among many other amazing things, that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, were both essentially guilty of treason.

Jewish power controls the U.S. government, the U.S. entertainment industry, the U.S. banking industry, and the U.S. mainstream news media industry. All commercial US media is nothing other than Zionist full spectrum propaganda. This is not a recent development. Henry Ford was complaining about precisely this control in 1920-21. Over the past century the methods have been expanded and refined.

In order to create conditions for the next phase of their project, now under way, the Zionists planned and helped implement the 9/11 false flag operation.

Their propaganda program is very sophisticated. The people of the U.S. didn’t know, and for the most part still don’t know, what is going on, and at this stage of the game there is very little they could do about it, even if they wanted to. Voting will achieve nothing.

I know Kevin Barrett, and I know that he knows all of that, so he is fudging a bit in saying he can’t “believe that the people of this country have allowed their leaders to be hijacked by a foreign power in this way”.

But it is embarrassing.

Linh Dinh said...

Laurent Guyénot's "Tracking the roots of Zionism and imperial russophobia" is a fascinating read about this phenomenon.

Linh Dinh said...

The Saker's "Why I Use the Term ‘AngloZionist’, and Why It’s Important".

Linh Dinh said...

Interviewed by Palestian poet and translator Tahseen Alkhateeb last year, I answered his question about Israel:

-Oil and Israel are the two reasons for American criminality against the Muslim world. Without these factors, Muslims would not be so demonized and attacked by Americans, and this pattern will continue as long as Israel and oil remain. Israel is an unprecedented historical mistake, for it makes no sense to claim a right of return for Jews after 2,000 years, but deny the same to Palestinians after six decades, though many have lost their homes much more recently, for this landgrab is an ongoing process that won’t end until all Palestinians disappear from “the Jewish homeland.” It’s tragic and farcical that a Chinese Jew can move to Jerusalem tomorrow, but not an exiled Palestinian who still has the key to his ancestral home. Israel is a violent concept that is executed and maintained with terror, and by this I mean American-sponsored Jewish terror, though these world class terrorists are so relentless with their propaganda, they have made “terrorist” nearly synonymous with their enemy, the Muslim. There is hope for Palestinians, however, for as the USA implodes, Israel will also go up in smoke. Working in tandem, the US and Israel have collapsed several Muslim governments and generated millions of refugees. The same fate awaits Israel, though its dissolution should be permanent, for only then will peace come.

Those living outside the US can’t fathom the American media’s extreme bias towards Israel. During the 2014 attack on Gaza, for example, American television viewers were only shown images of Palestinian buildings being blown up from afar, as if there were no people working or living in them. No corpses were seen being pulled from rubbles. While Palestinian victims stayed invisible, a single missing Israeli soldier had stories about him, with his portrait featured to emphasize his humanity. Unlike Palestinians, this Jew had a face. Female Israeli soldiers were shown sobbing over their fallen (male) comrades. When the massacre of Palestinians was finally over, there were articles about how quickly Gaza had gotten back to normal, so it was no big deal, you see, this butchering of 2,192 people (as compared to 77 deaths on the Israeli side). As if to prove this point, photos were shown of bustling Gaza streets, with kids happily playing.

On American television, there’s a peculiar show called “Inside Israeli Basketball.” Since the level of hoops in Israel is not particularly high, and its b-ballers are entirely unknown to an American audience, there is no sporting reason for this program, except that basketball is only a pretext to display Israel in a banal, and hence benign, light. Game footage and practice scenes make up only a small part of this show, for the camera often follows the players or coaches of Maccabi Haifa, the featured team, all over Israel. (Everywhere, of course, except Gaza and other troubled spots.) In one scene, one might visit a lovely beach, while in another, enter a Palestinian restaurant. Here, two teammates, an Israeli and a black American, enjoy camel rides, and one can see that they’re very chummy with each other. The American, Ike Ofoegbu, gushes, “Here in Israel, the guys are very nice. They speak English, first of all, so they can interact with you. They’re really friendly […] To finally be here in Israel is very exciting. I’m just blessed to be here.” Highly unusual for a reality show, there is no rancor or argument in “Inside Israeli Basketball,” and no trashy behavior at all. Here, you won’t find any screaming, backstabbing, jealousy or drunkenness, though these are the staples of just about every other reality show on American television. Always depicting Israel in an idyllic and harmonious light, this show is no more than propaganda, then, a carefully crafted mask to hide the endless violence needed to maintain this sham nation.

Rudy said...

Thanks for all this Linh. I just finished reading Guyénot's article, and have passed it on to others who will be interested. I'll now proceed to the Saker, who's piece I probably haven't read either.

Ian Keenan said...

The phenomenon of large numbers of Americans thinking Saddam Hussein organized the attacks of 9-11 was manufactured in the media by the interests pushing for a war in Iraq, which included the oil industry, the defense industry, and the Israel lobby, working in concert. The Bush Administration and US Intel, though, blamed the attacks on Al-Qaeda, a group in Afghanistan that created a pretext for the ongoing Afghan War. If 9-11 was organized by Zionists, logic suggests Saddam would have been blamed by US intel, since Zionists have little interest in Afghanistan. Next door, Pakistan attained the bomb with little international incident. Blaming Al-Qaeda has the advantage of scapegoating an entity without diplomatic status, but all manner of fake reports against the Iraqi government of the time came from warmongering US intel after the Afghan war was established.

In the Ukraine, US Rep. John Conyers tried to add an amendment to the defense budget preventing any money from going to neo-Nazis, but as Max Blumenthal reported in November 2014, he couldn't get any help from the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
http://www.alternet.org/world/how-israel-lobby-protected-ukrainian-neo-nazis

Blumenthal filed a story about the neo-Nazi affiliations of Maidan militia in February, 2014..
http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/us-backing-neo-nazis-ukraine

In January 2014 there were two acts of violence against Jews in Kiev.
http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/01/20/two-violent-anti-semitic-attacks-alarm-ukraine%E2%80%99s-jewish-community/#

The main problem for Jews in Ukraine is the same as everyone else in Ukraine (money, water supply, infrastructure) and Jewish organizations have raised money for them to leave. Israel abstained from the UN resolution opposing Russia's actions in the Crimea, despite the US spearheading the resolution.

Regarding the Israel lobby and voting, Electric Infitada has published a career overview of Bernie Sanders concerning their movement's interests.
https://electronicintifada.net/content/bernie-sanders-and-question-palestine/15581

Linh Dinh said...

World’s biggest Jewish community center opens in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
Jewish Journal, January 15, 2013

The biggest (and probably the most splendid as well) Jewish community center in the world was recently opened in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. The building, reminiscent both of an ultra modern tower complex and a pre-war constructivism dream, is called ‘Menorah’. Seven towers constituting the building indeed look like Menorah candles, especially at night, when each tower glows with a powerful illumination, looking somewhat like a spaceship landed on the banks of river Dnipro. In the daytime, the towers are shining with a precious Israeli marble. The immense 50,000 sqm construction, which encircles the old synagogue, hosts a luxurious hotel, a youth hostel, a restaurant, a concert hall, a museum dedicated to the story of Jewish life and the Holocaust in Ukraine, a tourism center, office premises and many more. This set is not random: the center is planned to be a ‘harmonious combination of spirituality, culture and business’ as well as to become an important landmark for the whole city and country population disregarding faith or background.

[...]

Ian Keenan said...

Linh as you may know that was bankrolled by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who was appointed governor of Dnipropetrovsk province in Central Ukraine by the Maidan President in 2014. According to Wikipedia, Kolomoyskyi's gubernatorial tenure ended when his puppet at the state petroleum company was replaced, oil was no longer delivered to his privately owned refineries, and he responded by sending his own private militia to take over the state oil office, which Kiev concluded was bad PR for the war effort. Putin's beef with Kolomoyskyi was that he cheated his buddy Roman Abramovich out of what was alleged to be a large sum of money.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ihor_Kolomoyskyi

Chuck Olroski said...

Rudy & all:

Thank you for responding to my comment.

The impressionable people of the U.S. and E.U. are sadly going to get what they deserve... and it looks like (as advertised above) a freak brew of a "harmonious combination of spirituality, culture and business" is in the global cauldron, and the Ukraine's multicultural "Menorah" banquet, in particular, is taking V.I.P. invitations.

Am very busy doing an extra school bus assignment, driving a small company van and transporting little children to school at N.E.I.U. One boy is 4, has Downs Syndrome, and is the size of a 1-year old. When I pick-up & drop off the child, I get to raise him from safety seat, and go momentarily cheek-to-cheek. Puts my bitches about life in perspective.

Thanks once again all for the solid (unbroken) education!

swindled said...

I probably spend more time online chatting with Ukrainians, or at least those who are sympathetic to the UA side (but all of whom do not speak with one voice, save that they hate the Russians in general, and Putin in particular) .. if only b/c they have a fairly large online presence, I guess. Anyway, here's the latest. Less than a day old (if you're interested .. and it doesn't sound good): Truce Unravels as Fighting Picks Up in Ukraine. Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told journalists on Friday that observers last week saw 88 tanks on the pro-Russian side of the line. "A week ago, we had shelling every two to three days, and mostly at night," Lt. Col. Mikhailo M. Prokopiv, the commander of Ukrainian Army troops in Maryinka, said in an interview on Sunday while touring the front line. "Now, not a day goes by when we don't fight." https://youtu.be/g2P2duQC9C0

His positions now regularly come under fire from mortars and truck-mounted antiaircraft machine guns, lowered to fire horizontally, Colonel Prokopiv said. A sniper killed one of his soldiers on Saturday. https://youtu.be/DY3fagM52es

MARYINKA, Ukraine — Though overshadowed by the war in Syria, fighting in eastern Ukraine has picked up sharply in recent weeks, residents along the front line, commanders and European monitors say.

The resumption of hostilities in Ukraine, with exchanges of machine gun and mortar fire across the front line up to levels not seen since last summer, suggests a willingness by Russia, which supports the rebels in eastern Ukraine, to sustain two conflicts at once. In late September, Russia began airstrikes in Syria on behalf of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

A cease-fire took hold here in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and the government on Sept. 1, which was apparently coordinated with Russia's military deployment in Syria.

But that truce is now unraveling, and Maryinka has become one of the new hot spots.

tl montgomery said...

I could see this coming and started to speak of this when things got out of hand on the Maidan. The presence of neocon agitators Like Nuland and McCain proved the hands behind the violence. Neocon backed former Georgian president Saakashvili becoming governor of Odessa Oblast was another blatant clue. My wife of 20 years is from Kiyv and soon became rabid with her hatred toward Putin and Russians in general to where I could not speak to her of all the machinations I could see going on. I love Kiyv and wish they had never gone down this path...

David Beam said...

I simply must tell you that you have written an excellent and unique article that I really enjoyed reading. I’m fascinated by how well you laid out your material and presented your views. Thank you.

Linh Dinh said...

Many thanks, David. I wish I had the opportunity to go further East, but I only had so much money and time. It was a very sad visit. What a lovely people and country.

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.