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The real scandal is Israelgate, not Russiagate

December 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

Former US General Michael Flynn and a former national security adviser to President Trump, 22 December 2017 [Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady]

When former US General Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the media hype train about supposed Russian interference in last year’s US election went into overdrive once again.

Flynn, a former national security advisor to President Trump, appeared in federal court in Washington DC earlier this month, where he admitted lying about discussions he had had with the Russian ambassador a year ago.

Those already convinced that there had been far-reaching collusion between Russia and Trump to help get the latter elected last year held up Flynn’s confession as a smoking gun.

But while it is possible that Russia may have sought some sort of influence over the election, the evidence revealed to date is sparse to say the least. The “Russiagate” story is “more fiction than fact,” as journalist Aaron Maté has put it.

Ironically, in seeking out any whiff of Russian involvement with Trump’s team, the “Russiagate” hysteria unintentionally succeeded in casting light on a far bigger, and far truer scandal – “Israelgate”.

Flynn’s guilty plea is reportedly a sign that he is cooperating with the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference by special counsel Robert Mueller. It’s a small charge relative to the dirt they are said to have on him. In exchange for his cooperation the Department of Justice may have agreed to drop the other allegations.

But look at the detail of what he actually did, and what exactly he admitted to lying about in the two conversations.

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He had discussed with the Russian ambassador a then upcoming vote in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel’s settlements. He asked the Russian government to side with Israel, and to delay or defeat the vote.

This meeting was part of a larger effort by the then incoming Trump administration to meet with all members of the Security Council in an attempt to persuade them to vote in support of Israel, and to defeat the motion condemning Israel’s settlements.

These efforts ultimately failed and the Security Council passed the resolution which once again reaffirmed the illegality under international law of Israel’s Jewish only colonies in the West Bank. This was only possible because the outgoing Obama administration abstained in the vote, thus refusing to use the US veto power (as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council).

In the second conversation Flynn reportedly asked the Russians not to retaliate to new sanctions the Obama administration was imposing on the country.

Far from being evidence of any “collusion” between the Trump administration and the Russian government against US interests, this second point ironically shows they were trying to work in what they perceived as the “national interest”. Russian retaliatory action to the sanctions would not have benefited the US.

What it seems Flynn is guilty of is lying to the FBI, as he has admitted. Presumably this is because one of the US spy agencies intercepted phone calls he made, and thus has evidence of the conversations.

But what comes out so clearly in all this is evidence of real collusion – but not with Russia. The evidence points to Trump colluding with Israel.

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The incoming administration conspired to work with this foreign power against the policy of a sitting US President (regarding Israel’s settlements).

And it wasn’t just Flynn.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner too has admitted to being part of Trump’s efforts to give all he can to Israel.

Billionaire pro-Israel funder Haim Saban thanked Kushner this month for “taking steps to try and get the United Nations Security Council to not go along”. Ironically, Saban is a Democratic Party funder, who gave millions to support Hilary Clinton’s failed run for president. But as he has said in the past: “I’m a one issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

This is both collusion and corruption.

Trump’s presidential run was funded by Sheldon Adelson, a far-right casino billionaire who ploughs his money into pro-Israel causes. Adelson at one stage promised Trump $100 million, although ultimately seems to have given $35 million, still a tidy sum.

As part of this, Adelson pressured Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem in recognition of the Palestinian capital city as the “capital of Israel”.

No country in the world has recognised that Jerusalem is the “capital of Israel” until Trump’s infamous declaration this month – all embassies are in Tel Aviv. Trump has said he will move the embassy, although he hasn’t said when.

The real scandal should be “Israelgate”.

And it goes much further than the President. It’s the entire Republican Party and the entire Democratic Party. Over here the Israel lobby has a huge influence too, over both the Conservative and Labour parties.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.