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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Code Pink's Medea Benjamin backs racist anti-Saudi legislation

President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was an insult to the families of those we lost on 9/11 and I congratulate the Congress for righting that terrible wrong.

– Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

To be sure their are many reasons to oppose Saudi Arabia, as Medea Benjamin said on Democracy Now Friday when talking about the congressional override of Obama's veto of a bill allowing US citizens to sue Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 attacks. She enumerated many of them in her opening comment which also articulated her support for its passage:
I think the significance is that, finally, we have an example of the U.S. Congress putting the U.S. citizens above the relationship with the Saudi government. And this is significant because, year after year after year, Congress has done nothing to stop arming to the teeth the Saudi government—$115 billion worth of weapon sales under Obama alone—a government that treats its own citizens with tremendous repression, beheads peaceful dissidents, treats women as minors their entire lives, has millions of foreign workers who are treated like indentured servants, and spreads this intolerant, distorted version of Wahhabism around the world. And the U.S. is not only arming the Saudi government, but is directly involved with the Saudis in the devastating war that’s going on in Yemen. So this sort of opens this issue up to much larger questions.
Those human rights violations pale in comparison to those of the Assad regime and its Russian partners. Still they deserve to be acknowledged and corrected, but this law addresses none of that and is even likely to fall short of its proclaimed goal of winning compensation for victims of 9/11. Medea Benjamin knows that, hence the last sentence to justify her support. Just how she expects it to do that is far from clear because this bill only serves to muddy the waters.

Its real purpose is to blame Saudi Arabia as a whole and the Saudi government in particular for 9/11, and to support a variety of Islamaphobic conspiracy theories. Even Medea Benjamin, on Democracy Now, in saying that 15 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, omits the inconvenient fact that while they might have held Saudi passports, most were Yemeni and had many good reasons to be hostile to The Kingdom. Five were from Asir Province, a poor region of Saudi Arabia that borders Yemen. Four others came from a cluster of three towns in the Bahah region. These are places never heard of by those that are blaming the Saudi government, and not the US government, for nine-eleven. These details would only obscured their racist message that those who struck us on 9/11 are representative of a people or culture and not just a terrorist organization. In Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes, Victoria Clark writes:
Given that impoverished Yemenis were far less likely than wealthy Saudis to be granted the US visa that were a sine qua non of the operation, the fact that the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi rather than Yemeni passport holders is not surprising.
As Medea Benjamin knows better than most, because she has done some great work exposing Saudi crimes in Yemen, Yemenis have every reason to be hostile to The Kingdom and join a group promising its overthrow, even while operating with its passport. There have been many claims from the conspiracy theorists that 9/11 was a false-flag operation and to the extent it is blamed on the Saudi government, that is certainly the case.

This bill was introduced in the first year of Obama's presidency and written in such a way that he would need to oppose it to protect US sovereignty from suits over its much greater crimes. Medea Benjamin justifies her support because she hopes it will be used this way, but it won't. That is not its purpose. Its main use has been, and will continue to be, as an weapon for the right wing.

This bill is more agitation for "The War on Terrorism." The larger propaganda motive of this bill is to promote the view that Saudi Arabia is responsible for al Qaeda, and with it, the bigger Islamaphobia picture that all Muslims are somehow responsible for Daesh, and what the white nationalists threatening to take state power in the United States insist be called Islamic terrorism.

The main sponsor of this bill has been Congressman Peter King who is well known for racist and extreme right-wing views. He has long been leading the anti-refugee & anti-Muslim charge on Capital Hill. He has even accused Wikileaks of supporting terrorism. If he comes up with a bill to that effect will Medea Benjamin support that too?

The vital truths that are being hidden by these racist lies is that 1) it is The Kingdom that is the main target of al Qaeda, and 2) Daesh has murdered far more Arabs and Muslims than white people. This law is a product of the same bowels that have given us the Trump campaign. Its purpose is to blame all Muslims for the acts of a few and is a part of this rising right-wing current. By supporting this bill as she does, Medea Benjamin is joining Junior Trump and his bowl of Skittles.

What Medea Benjamin likes most about this bill is that it puts Americans first. The Alt-Right Breitbart people now running the Trump campaign, also strongly support this law. When President Barack Obama vetoed the bill last Friday Breitbart News reported:
Obama Protects Saudi Arabia, As Islamic Officials Admit Funding Jihad

By Lee Stranahan
26 September 2016

President Barack Obama used his veto power on Friday to protect the Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia from lawsuits by families of the victims of the 9/11 Islamic atrocity — just as the kingdom has begun admitting that it has been funding jihad terrorism for decades.

The jihad admission came in an article titled ‘We Misled You’: How the Saudis Are Coming Clean on Funding Terrorism, written by Zalmay Khalilzad, a D.C.-based former senior official in President George W. Bush’s administration. More...
These are the same people that have long claimed that Obama is a Muslim and the he and Hillary Clinton created ISIS. Zalmay Khalilzad was Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, and is the only leading neo-con who is Muslim. Recently he introduced Donald Trump when Trump gave his big foreign policy speech. He is a Muslim that has long supported the worst policies of US imperialism towards the Islamic world and now he is fully on board the Trump train with all its anti-Arab, anti-Muslim baggage.

This isn't the first time Medea Benjamin has found herself aligned with Trump:

Of course, Trump is talking about a massive increase in the US military budget and threatening massive bombing in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, even the use of nuclear weapons, but Medea Benjamin will support him where she can.

I think she has developed this fanatical focus on Saudi Arabia because it allows her to avoid the Syrian conflict, which for her is the conflict between doing what is right and what is popular on the Left. It also supports Assad's and Putin's agenda, which sees Saudi Arabia as a big backer of the Arab nationalist movement against Russian backed Arab dictators like Mummar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad.
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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  1. "These are places never heard of by those that are blaming the Saudi government, and not the US government, for nine-eleven." ???

    Are you saying that US is responsible for 9/11? If so, do you mean that 9/11 was revenge for US actions in the middle east, or that the US itself planned and carried out 9/11 attack? Not clear

    1. I don't think the US was directly responsible for 9/11, but I do think the US bears some responsibility for creating the conditions that led to 9/11. My view of Saudi state responsibility is similar. I know that if I say the Saudi gov't isn't [directly] responsible, some will fall back on promotion of wahhabism etc. A added "and not the US gov't" because once you start using these indirect supports in your claim of responsibility, you would have to include the US in that. Unfortunately, I can see that the wording in that regards isn't clear but be assured, if I thought the US gov't was behind 9/11, I would say so in no uncertain terms and not as an aside to something else.