Islamophobia is a multimillion-dollar industry

Report:

More than $200m spent on promoting fear and hatred of Muslims in US by various groups between 2008 and 2013.

More than half of Muslims in the US say they have faced some discrimination [EPA]

by

Ryan Rifai

More than $200m was spent towards promoting “fear and hatred” of Muslims in the United States by various organisations between 2008 and 2013, according to a fresh joint report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley.

Released on Monday, the report identifies 74 groups, including feminist, Christian, Zionist and prominent news organisations, which either funded or fostered Islamophobia.

“It is an entire industry of itself. There are people making millions of dollars per year from promoting Islamophobia. They often present themselves as experts on Islamic affairs when they are not,” Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for CAIR, told Al Jazeera.

“They have fuelled an environment of distrust among the American public by claiming that Muslims do not belong to the American community and that they could never be loyal citizens.”

Ruiz said that Islamophobia has posed two main dangers: a rise in hate crimes and anti-Islamic legislation.

“For example, in the last year alone in Florida, there has been a 500 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims. Mosques have been vandalised and there have been a number of bomb threats towards Islamic groups.

“And Florida’s government is even trying to ban school books from making any references to Islam in history.”

Since 2013, the country has seen a rise in the number of bills or amendments – about 81 – designed to “vilify Islamic religious practices”, 80 of which were introduced to state legislatures by Republicans, the report notes.


READ MORE: US anti-Islamic bills create ‘environment of fear’


It cited Florida Senator Alan Hayes as once distributing literature that said: “Our religious, political, and peaceful way of life is under attack by Islam and Sharia Law. Save my generation from this ideology that is invading our country and masquerading as a ‘religion’. It’s sedition: They are determined to overthrow our State and our Country.”

Meira Neggaz, the executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) – a US-based think-tank, told Al Jazeera a poll published in March showed that one out of every five American Muslims had experienced discrimination on a regular basis, while more than half of them had faced some discrimination.

Poll by think-tank shows Islam faces the most religious discrimination [ISPU]

“The other faith group you would think would suffer from some discrimination are Jews. They do, but far lower – only about 5 percent,” she said.

She also noted that the rise in anti-Islamic sentiment was more tied to political rhetoric than terrorist events.

“2008 and 2012 – the years of election campaigns – saw spikes in Islamophobia that had nothing to do with terror. And we are now seeing similar trends in this election cycle.

“It is part of a broader backlash against minorities. Lawmakers who are legislating against Muslims are also against other minority groups.

“At least 32 states have introduced and debated anti-sharia or anti-foreign law bills. And, according to our research, 80 percent of legislators who sponsor this type of legislation also sponsor bills restricting the rights of other minorities and vulnerable groups.”

Neggaz emphasised that Islamophobia is a threat to US democracy and affects all of the country’s residents.

“Religious discrimination is illegal. There has to be legal procedures that can address that.”

Source: Al Jazeera


 Israel Shamir Archive

 

William F. Browder, Chief Executive Officer Hermitage Capital Management. Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Michael Wuertenberg. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Chapeau, Mr Browder! Hats off for this incredible man. Last month, he succeeded in stopping a film screening in the European parliament and took off a few articles from American web sites. This week, he turned the only US screening of a film critical to his version of events into a ruckus. No freedom of speech for his enemies! His lawyers prowl around and issue summons to whoever digs in his sordid affairs. His hacks re-wrote his Wikipedia entry, expunging even discussions of the topic: despite hundreds of edits, nothing survived but the official version. Only a few powerful men succeed purifying their record to such an extent. Still, good fortune (a notoriously flighty lady) is about to desert Mr Browder.

Who is this extremely influential man? A businessman, a politician, a spy? The American-born Jewish tycoon William Browder, says The Jewish Chronicle, considers himself Putin’s Number One enemy. For him, Putin is “no friend of the Jews”, “cold-blooded killer” and even “criminal dictator who is not too different from Hitler, Mussolini or Gadhafi”. More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia. The roots were there, still he made them blossom. If the US and Russia haven’t yet exchanged nuclear salvos, do not blame Browder: he tried. For a valid reason, too: he was hit by cruel Hitler-like Mr Putin into his most susceptible spot, namely his pocket. Or was there even a better reason?

Browder, a grandson of the US Communist leader, came to Russia at its weakest point after the Soviet collapse, and grabbed an enormous fortune by opaque financial transactions. Such fortunes are not amassed by the pure of spirit. He was a ruthless man who did as much as any oligarch to enrich himself.

Eventually he ran afoul of Mr Putin, who was (and is) very tolerant of oligarchs as long as they play by the rules. The oligarchs would not be oligarchs if they would found that an easy condition. Some of them tried to fight back: Khodorkovsky landed in jail, Berezovsky and Gusinsky went to exile. Browder had a special position: he was the only Jewish oligarch in Russia who never bothered to acquire the Russian citizenship. He was barred from returning to Russia, and his companies were audited and found wanting.

As you’d expect, huge tax evasion was discovered. Browder thought that as long as he sucked up to Putin, he’d get away with bloody murder, let alone tax evasion. He was mistaken. Putin is nobody’s fool. Flatterers do not get a free ride in Putin’s Russia. And Browder became too big for his boots.

It turned out that he did two unforgivable things. Russians were afraid the foreigners would buy all their assets for a song, using favourable exchange rates and lack of native capital, as had happened in the Baltic states and other ex-Communist East European countries. In order to avoid that, shares of Russian blue-chip companies (Gazprom and suchlike) were traded among Russian citizens only. Foreigners had to pay much more. Browder bought many such shares via Russian frontmen, and he was close to getting control over Russian oil and gas. Putin suspected that he had acted in the interests of big foreign oil companies, trying to repeat the feat of Mr Khodorkovsky.

His second mistake was being too greedy. Russian taxation is very low; but Browder did not want to pay even this low tax. He hired Mr Magnitsky, an experienced auditor, who used loopholes in the Russian tax code in order to avoid taxes altogether. Magnitsky established dummy companies based in tax-free zones of Russia, such as pastoral Kalmykia, small, Buddhist, and autonomous. Their tax-free status had been granted in order to improve their economy and reduce unemployment; however, Browder’s companies did not contribute to economy and did not employ people; they were paper dummies swiftly bankrupted by the owner.

Another Magnitsky trick was to form companies fronted by handicapped people who were also freed from paying tax. In the film, some of these persons, often illiterate and of limited intelligence, told the filmmaker of signing papers they could not read and of being paid a little money for the millions passing through their account.

(Mr Browder does not deny these accusations; he says there is nothing criminal in trying to avoid taxes. You can read about Browder and Magnitsky tricks here andhere, and learn of the ways they attacked companies using minority shareholders and many other neat schemes.)

Eventually Magnitsky’s schemes were discovered and he was arrested. Ten months later, in 2009, he died in jail. By that time, his patron Mr Browder was abroad, and he began his campaign against Russia hoping to regain his lost assets. He claimed Mr Magnitsky had been his lawyer, who discovered misdeeds and the outright thievery of government officials, and was imprisoned and tortured to death for this discovery.

The US Congress rushed in the Magnitsky Act, the first salvo of the Cold War Two. By this act, any Russian person could be found responsible for Mr Magnitsky’s untimely death and for misappropriation of Browder’s assets. His properties could be seized, bank accounts frozen – without any legal process or representation. This act upset the Russians, who allegedly had kept a cool $500 billion in the Western banks, so tit for tat started, and it goes to this very day.

The actual effect of the Magnitsky Act was minimal: some twenty million dollars frozen and a few dozen not-very-important people were barred from visiting the US. Its psychological effect was much greater: the Russian elite realised that they could lose their money and houses anytime – not in godless Putin’s Russia, but in the free West, where they had preferred to look for refuge. The Magnitsky Act paved the road to the Cyprus confiscation of Russian deposits, to post-Crimean sanctions and to a full-fledged Cold War.

This was painful for Russia, as the first adolescent disillusionment in its love affair with the West, and rather healthy, in my view. A spot of cold war (very cold, plenty of ice please) is good for ordinary people, while its opposite, a Russian-American alliance, is good for the elites. The worst times for ordinary Russian people were 1988-2001, when Russians were in love with the US. The oligarchs stole everything there was to steal and sold it to the West for pennies. They bought villas in Florida while Russia fell apart. That was bad time for everybody: the US invaded Panama and Afghanistan unopposed, Iraq was sanctioned to death, Yugoslavia was bombed and broken to pieces.

As the Cold War came back, some normalcy was restored: the Russians stopped the US from destroying Syria, and Russian officials learned to love Sochi instead of Miami. For this reason alone, Browder can be counted as a part of the power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. The Russian government, however, did not enjoy the cold shower.

The Russians denied any wrongdoing or even political reasons for dealing with Browder. They say Magnitsky was not a lawyer, just an auditor and a tax code expert. They say that he was arrested and tried for his tax avoidance schemes, and he died of natural causes while in jail. Nobody listened to them, until they demanded that Browder testify under oath. He refused. For two years lawyers tried to give him a summons, but he was a quick runner. There are funny videos showing Browder running away from summons.

Some good sense began to seep into American minds. The New Republic wondered: if Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and had enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why was he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?

Enter Mr Andrey Nekrasov, a Russian dissident filmmaker. He made a few films considered to be highly critical of Russian government. He alleged the FSB blew up houses in Moscow in order to justify the Chechnya war. He condemned the Russian war against Georgia in 2008, and had been given a medal by Georgian authorities. He did not doubt the official Western version of Browder-Magnitsky affair, and decided to make a film about the noble American businessman and the brave Russian lawyer fighting for human rights. The European organisations and parliamentarians provided the budget for the film. They also expected the film to denounce Putin and glorify Magnitsky, the martyr.

However, while making the film, Mr Nekrasov had his Road to Damascus moment. He realised that the whole narrative was hinging on the unsubstantiated words of Mr Browder. After painstaking research, he came to some totally different conclusions, and in his version, Browder was a cheat who run afoul of law, while Magnitsky was his sidekick in those crimes.

Nekrasov discovered an interview Magnitsky gave in his jail. In this interview, the accountant said he was afraid Browder would kill him to prevent him from denouncing Browder, and would make him his scapegoat. It turned out Browder tried to bribe the journalist who made the interview to have these words expunged. Browder was the main beneficiary of the accountant’s death, realised Nekrasov, while his investigators were satisfied with Magnitsky’s collaboration with them.

Nekrasov could not find any evidence that Magnitsky tried to investigate the misdeeds of government officials. He was too busy covering his own tax evasion. And instead of fitting his preconceived notions, Nekrasov made the film about what he learned. (Here are some details of Nekrasov’s film)

While the screening in the EU Parliament was been stopped by the powerful Mr Browder, in Washington DC the men are made of sterner stuff. Despite Browder’s threats the film was screened, presented by the best contemporary American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who is 80 if a day, and still going strong. One has to recognise that the US is second to none for freedom of speech on the globe.

What makes Browder so powerful? He invests in politicians. This is probably a uniquely Jewish quality: Jews outspend everybody in contributions to political figures. The Arabs will spend more on horses and jets, the Russians prefer real estate, the Jews like politicians. The Russian NTV channel reported that Browder lavishly financed the US lawmakers. Here they present alleged evidence of money transfers: some hundred thousand dollars was given by Browder’s structures officially to the senators and congressmen in order to promote the Magnitsky Act.

Much bigger sums were transferred via good services of Brothers Ziff, mega-rich Jewish American businessmen, said the researchers in two articles published on theVeteran News Network and in The Huffington Post.

These two articles were taken off the sites very fast under pressure of Browder’s lawyers, but they are available in the cache. They disclose the chief beneficiary of Browder’s generosity. This is Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. He was the engine behind Magnitsky Act legislation to such an extent that the Act has been often called the Cardin List. Cardin is a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, also a cold warrior of good standing. More to a point, Cardin is a prominent member of Israel Lobby.

Browder affair is a heady upper-class Jewish cocktail of money, spies, politicians and international crime. Almost all involved figures appear to be Jewish, not only Browder, Brothers Ziff and Ben Cardin. Even his enemy, the beneficiary of the scam that (according to Browder) took over his Russian assets is another Jewish businessman Dennis Katsiv (he had been partly exonerated by a New York court as is well described in this thoughtful piece).

Browder began his way to riches under the patronage of a very rich and very crooked Robert Maxwell, a Czech-born Jewish businessman who assumed a Scots name. Maxwell stole a few million dollars from his company pension fund before dying in mysterious circumstances on board of his yacht in the Atlantic. It was claimed by a member of Israeli Military Intelligence, Ari Ben Menashe, that Maxwell had been a Mossad agent for years, and he also said Maxwell tipped the Israelis about Israeli whistle-blower Mordecai Vanunu. Vanunu was kidnapped and spent many years in Israeli jails.

Geoffrey Goodman wrote Maxwell “was almost certainly being used as – and using himself as – a two-way intelligence conduit [between East and West]. This arrangement included passing intelligence to the Israeli secret forces with whom he became increasingly involved towards the end of his life.”

After Maxwell, Browder switched allegiance to Edmond Safra, a very rich Jewish banker of Lebanese origin, who also played East vs West. Safra provided him with working capital for his investment fund. Safra’s bank has been the unlikely place where the IMF loan of four billion dollars to Russia had been transferred—and disappeared. The Russian authorities say that Browder has been involved in this “crime of the century,” next to Safra. The banker’s name has been connected to Mossad: increasingly fearful for his life, Safra surrounded himself by Mossad-trained gunmen. This did not help him: he died a horrible death in his bathroom when his villa was torched by one of the guards.

The third Jewish oligarch on Browder’s way was Boris Berezovsky, the king-maker of Yeltsin’s Russia. He also died in his bathroom (which seems to be a constant feature); apparently he committed suicide. Berezovsky had been a politically active man; he supported every anti-Putin force in Russia. However, a few months before his death, he asked for permission to return to Russia, and some negotiations went on between him and Russian authorities.

His chief of security Sergey Sokolov came to Russia and purportedly brought with him some documents his late master prepared for his return. These documents allege that Browder had been an agent of Western intelligence services, of the CIA to begin with, and of MI6 in following years. He was given a code name Solomon, as he worked for Salomon Brothers. His financial activity was just a cover for his true intentions, that is to collect political and economic data on Russia, and to carry out economic war on Russia. This revelation has been made in the Russia-1 TV channel documentaryBrowder Effect, (broadcasted 13.04.2016), asserting that Browder was not after money at all, and his activities in Russia, beside being very profitable, had a political angle.

The documents had been doubted for some linguistic reasons discussed by Gilbert Doctorow who comes to a reasonable conclusion: “Bill Browder[‘s]… intensity and the time he was devoting to anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behaviour of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play. But at the time, no one could stand up and suggest the man was a fraud, an operative of the intelligence agencies. Whatever the final verdict may be on the documents presented by the film “The Browder Effect,” it raises questions about Browder that should have been asked years ago in mainstream Western media if journalists were paying attention. Yevgeny Popov deserves credit for highlighting those questions, even if his documents demand further investigation before we come to definitive answers”.

We do not know whether Browder is, or had been, a spy. This should not surprise us, as he was closely connected to Maxwell, Safra and Berezovsky, the financiers with strong ties in the intelligence community.

Perhaps he outlived his usefulness, Mr Browder did. He started the Cold war, now is the time to keep it in its healthy limits and to avoid a nuclear disaster or rapid armaments race. This is the task we may hope will be entertained by the next US President, Mr Donald Trump.

This article was first published in The Unz Review.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net


‘British parliament must obey referendum and leave EU as quickly as possible’

Vote leave supporters wave Union flags, following the result of the EU referendum, outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 © Neil Hall
After the UK referendum results showed people voted to leave the EU and David Cameron’s announcement to step down as prime minister within three months, RT discussed with experts the consequences of the Brexit vote.

‘Leaving the EU must not take years’

RT: What is this vote is going to mean for ordinary people in the short-term?

Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP: I think people tend to forget that for the 1500 years between the fall of the Roman Empire and joining the EU in 1973, we are actually an independent democratic nation. And all that we are going to do is assume the status of the other 170 odd countries in the world that are not members of the EU. So, I wouldn’t worry too much if I was them.

And regarding the “convoluted process of withdrawal” under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. I am totally opposed to that. We should get out very quickly, and the way that we can do that is just be repealing the 1973 European Communities Act; parliament would then be sovereign, all of the EU directives have been transposed into acts of parliament so there won’t be any chaos because they are still in place and we can repeal them over a period of two, three, or four years until we get rid of most of the EU legislation, except what we want to be left with.

RT: What is a realistic timescale for the UK to extricate itself from the EU?

GB: If we repealed the 1973 Act we could technically be out [of the EU] Monday morning – it depends on how quickly parliament can put it through. If we go down the Article 50 route it could take 2 years or it could take 10 years because this time period can be extended indefinitely. So my view is that we should do it as quickly and cleanly as possible because we don’t want years of political infighting about this. Unfortunately, the situation at the moment is that the Houses of Parliament don’t actually want to leave the European Union. So they must obey the will of the people and the best way to do that is to do it as quickly as possible.

‘Brexit is a massive blow to EU image’

RT: Just how big of a blow is this for the EU? Could the UK referendum indeed have a domino effect in Europe?  

Richard Sakwa, Professor of European Politics at the University of Kent: It is a massive blow not only to the actual physical composition, but above all to its image. Up to now the EU has been expanding not just in size but also in self-confidence, despite its many crises, the belief that it was the main representative of peace and development on the continent. Now, the UK leaving is going to challenge that. It may have two consequences where the EU goes now: it could start a chain reaction with more countries deciding to have a referendum. We know Marine Le Pen in France has already called for one. But on the other side it could allow – without the UK – the EU to get on with the business that it has been trying to do and that is to actually make itself a more effective union of people and nations that is in economic and other senses. So it is going to be a shock to the system.

‘Brexit shows a civil war within the Tory party’

RT: Was Britain really prepared for Brexit?

Dan Glazebrook, political writer: I think part of Britain was prepared for it obviously. It is important we understand this is not a blow to the establishment, this is not some kind of modern day peasants’ revolt. This is a split within the establishment, a civil war within the Tory party. There is one set of Eton toffs and buffoons against another set. And the set that won the day was that immobilized mass support on the basis primarily of hostility to foreigners with a little bit of pseudo-left rhetoric thrown in and all within the kind of narrative of a decline of British supremacy on the world stage. And this is all of the basic elements of a kind of proto-fascism, and that is exactly what this Brexit movement was about. And it is going to empower across Europe, unfortunately, and what really should have been a joyous moment as David Cameron – the butcher of Tripoli, the drowner of refugees, the cheerleader of sectarian death squads across the Middle East – is resigning, quitting, going. It should have been a joyous moment but it’s tainted by the fact that he is not resigning at the hands of any of these people by any progressive movement; he is resigning because he has been pushed out by the forces of the far-right and a proto-fascist movement within his own party… any other misery for David Cameron, in any other context, is surely to be applauded.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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