Russiagate & Gaza

December 2008 demonstration in solidarity with Gaza, San Francisco. (Isabel Esterman, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Russiagate & Gaza

by Elizabeth Vos | Jan 31, 2024

{dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust a few years ago, the Russiagate narrative dominated the news sphere: anyone who questioned the status quo was labeled a Putin puppet or a Russian bot, including American journalists.

In recent months, Israeli officials have similarly labeled anyone and any organization who opposes them as anti-Semitic or Hamas sympathizers, even going so far as to label the International Court of Justice anti-Semitic.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took both narratives a step further over the weekend, calling on the F.B.I. to investigate pro-Palestinian protests for alleged financial ties to Russia.

Her statements came in the wake of the ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which stated that there is prima facie evidence of Israel committing genocide in Gaza though the ruling stopped short of ordering a cessation of Israel’s military actions in the strip.

Instead of turning away from Israel, as one might expect if a nation is credibly accused of genocide, Pelosi attempted to deflect from Israel’s guilt and its loss of support among the U.S. public by blaming pro-Palestinian protests on Russia, and specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Pelosi claimed:

“… for them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message, Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”

Pelosi continued:

“Some of these protests are Russian plants, seeds or plants… I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the F.B.I. to investigate that.”

Pelosi’s statements were quickly followed up by corporate media articles echoing Pelosi’s logic, with Rolling Stone reviving the debunked Russiagate narrative, writing:

“Russia and Putin have supported a ceasefire and have used Israel’s aggression in Gaza to criticize the United States for its role in the conflict. Russia has also attempted to interfere in the last two U.S. presidential elections.”

Russia is just one of a majority of nations who have voted at the U.N. General Assembly for an immediate ceasefire. There is nothing particularly Russian about the worldwide condemnation of the continuing slaughter.

To see the old Russiagate and current pro-Israel narratives converge in Pelosi’s call for the F.B.I. to investigate pro-Palestinian protesters for being “Russian plants” is remarkable in its audacity, but true to form.

Scrambling in the wake of the ICJ ruling, Democrats — along with Republican counterparts  — have no leg to stand on morally for their complicity in Israel’s ongoing atrocities.

They have no answers for the voters they ignore — just as they ignored them in previous elections.

In 2016 the Democratic Party undercut democracy in their primary, then circulated false allegations of Russian election interference for years after establishment-favorite Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump.

Anyone who pointed out the obvious fallacies of the Russiagate narrative was labeled a purveyor of Russian talking points, including the editor of Consortium News.

Thousands of young people, many of whom were not politically engaged in the era of Russiagate, are now seeing through the pro-Israel propaganda.

U.S. President Joe Biden is suffering in the polls, particularly among young Democrats and Arab-Americans, because of his administration’s complicity in genocide, no matter what deflection former Speaker Pelosi attempts.

Russiagate & Gaza

March on Washington for Gaza, Jan. 13, 2024. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Biden is additionally losing support among African-American voters. The New York Times reports that “a coalition of more than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide” issued a demand that the Biden administration push for a ceasefire.

Pelosi’s sentiments highlighted the reality of a broken political system: If Americans lived in a functioning democratic society, politicians from Pelosi to Biden and Trump would be rushing to take advantage of growing voter numbers against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Politicians would be eagerly  courting this new voter base that combines so many demographics, promising to put an end to U.S. support for Israel immediately.

Instead, the Biden administration is confirming its support for Israel despite the very real possibility of losing this year’s presidential election. Even retaining the presidency takes second place to continuing support for Israel it seems.

It’s important to underscore that Pelosi’s cartoonish characterization of pro-Palestinian protesters as water carriers for Putin followed the International Court of Justice’s ruling that there is prima facie evidence that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Russiagate & Gaza

February 2022: the U.S. House speaker during an official visit to Israel. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Craig Murray was the only journalist present in the courtroom during the preliminary ICJ proceedings.

He told Consortium News webcast CN Live! on Friday that based on his experience in the court, he was not surprised by the order of provisional measures, but he was

“surprised by the strength of the statement before that. In ruling that there were plausible grounds for genocide, it was not necessary for the president of the court to go into so much detail as to what the plausible grounds for genocide were that they had found. It was not necessary for the president of the court to read out four different quotes from Israeli ministers including the former president of Israel detailing incitement to genocide.


It wasn’t necessary for the president of the court to read out three or four statements by senior officials of the United Nations detailing the horrific death and destruction in Gaza…


Not only is the court minded that there is a plausible case for genocide, the court is minded that it’s a pretty strong case for genocide and that surprised me… it was very, very plain from all that preceding explanation that the court believes this is a genocide.” [Emphasis added]

In the days following the IJC ruling, reports emerged that UNRWA, one of the few humanitarian organizations still operating in Gaza, was conducting an internal investigation after Israel provided information that some of their workers were members of Hamas.

Following the news and with zero hesitation, multiple Western countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Italy and Canada suspended their funding for UNRWA. The suspension threatens the ability of UNRWA to continue to operate in Gaza.

As pointed out by Francesca Albanese, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, the suspension of humanitarian aid could be legally damning. Albanese wrote via social media:

“The day after ICJ concluded that Israel is plausibly committing Genocide in Gaza, some states decided to defund UNRWA, collectively punishing millions of Palestinians at the most critical time, and most likely violating their obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

In other words, Western countries are increasing their active involvement in what may be legally deemed a genocide, based on the word of Israel alone and without hesitation, rather than withdrawing support for Israel in the wake of the ICJ ruling that there is plausible evidence that Israel is committing genocide.

It seems that no legal, moral, or political repercussions are severe enough to dampen the U.S. and Western support for Israel.

It is against this appalling background that Pelosi made her statements painting pro-Palestinian protesters as Putin plants and calling for the F.B.I. to investigate them, so desperate does she appear to continue supporting Israel’s genocidal agenda.

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