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What Russia said to Israel after the Palmyra raid

Claims which draw on a comment of Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari that Russia has threatened to shoot down Israeli aircraft bombing Syria are completely wrong and misunderstand the nature of Russia’s relationship with both Israel and Syria. Russia has taken on no commitment to defend Syria from Israel, and has no wish to jeopardise its very good relations with Israel by threatening to do so.

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A lot of speculation is swirling around nowadays concerning the words of Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari in relation to Israel’s illegal and aggressive airstrikes against the Syrian Arab Army near Palmyra last weekend.

Many people are interpreting Jaafari’s comment as conveying the idea that President Putin supposedly issued a threat to the new Israeli Ambassador, who was unprecedentedly summoned to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs just a day after presenting his credentials.

Before diving into what he really meant and why people are so confused, let’s take a look at Jaafari’s exact words.

As first reported by the Israeli media outlet Haaretz and then popularly shared by multipolar alternative media website 21st Century Wire, here’s what Jaafari said:

““Putin sent a clear message,” said Bashar Jaafari, speaking on Syrian television. “The fact is that the Israeli ambassador [to Russia] was summoned for a conversation only a day after he submitted his credentials [to the Russian Foreign Ministry last Thursday], and was told categorically that this game is over.” Syria’s use of anti-aircraft fire against Israel last Thursday night has changed the rules of the game, too, Jaafari said, adding that Syria will not stand idly by in the face of an Israeli threat.”

Nothing in this statement indicates that Russia threatened Israel with military retaliation if it continued to bomb Syria, though some people are spreading rumours that the ominous phrases “clear message” and “was told categorically that this game is over” apparently infer that such an idea was nevertheless conveyed.  That’s not true, first off because Ambassador Jaafari represents the Syrian Arab Republic and not the Russian Federation, and secondly because Russia is a strong and confident enough power to directly issue or convincingly imply such a powerful point itself.

So what did Jaafari really mean, then?

It’s indisputable that Russia was very displeased with what happened, hence why the Ambassador was summoned during his second official day on the job, but nobody knows what the exact nature of the “clear message” that he received really was. Did Ambassador Jaafari quote what he was told by his trusted Russian counterparts, or was he summarizing what he heard when he said that the Israel Ambassador “was told categorically that this game is over”? Another possibility is that this is just Ambassador Jaafari’s impression of what happened and that he wasn’t briefed on the specific contents of the conversation.

Now here’s where things get a bit tricky.

If one accepts the presumption that the Russians shared detailed information with the Syrians about their confidential scolding of the Israeli Ambassador, then the question naturally arises about whether or not such supposedly secret information concerning Russian-Syrian relations is also shared with the Israeli side as well. That would be very disturbing, to say the least, though thankfully there aren’t any grounds for reasonably speculating upon that. To put the shoe on the other foot, there’s also no evidence to argue that Russia shares Israeli secrets with Syria either.

Therefore, it is responsible to conclude that Ambassador Jaafari is just relating his impressions about what he thinks transpired, and not being a Russian surrogate in saying something which others are absurdly suggesting that the Kremlin itself might be too afraid to imply.

Now, about the whole “game is over” quip, that’s a pretty ambiguous yet loaded statement which means wildly different things to different people. It’s trendy right now to pretend that Ambassador Jaafari is hinting that Russia told Israel that it will never allow Tel Aviv to bomb targets inside of Syria ever again, possibly even threatening it with military retaliation if it dares to repeat its crimes. On the other hand, his statement could also be read as meaning that Russia scolded Israel without backing it up by military threats.

It’s difficult to get down to the bottom of what Russia told the Israeli Ambassador after last weekend’s attack and subsequent summoning, but an indication could possibly be seen in Russia’s attitude towards the US after its September 2016 hour-long bombing of the Syrian Arab Army in Deir ez Zor. At the time Russia immediately took its objections to the UN, going over the head of the US Ambassador in Moscow, and not even bothering to summon him.  Given that the scope and scale of the Deir ez Zor attack was much worse than what happened just recently in Palmyra, it wouldn’t make sense for Russia to treat Israel’s crimes worse than the US’, which is why Russia responded in the opposite way to Tel Aviv than it did to Washington and only summoned the Ambassador instead of going to the UN.

Let’s remember that the US reportedly targeted the Syrian Arab Army for a full hour during its September 2016 attack, meaning that the hostile aircraft were over the target area for a long enough time for them to be pinpointed and taken out by Russia’s S-400 air-defence systems…but they weren’t. This is because Russia’s mandate in Syria is only to fight terrorism and not to protect the country’s external borders from state aggression or intervene in backing up the Syrian Arab Army. This was reinforced when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov remarked in early May 2016 that:

Assad is not our ally, by the way. Yes, we support him in the fight against terrorism and in preserving the Syrian state. But he is not an ally like Turkey is the ally of the United States.”

If Russia won’t overstep its legal mandate in Syria and shoot down aggressive US jets which are bombing the Syrian Arab Army for roughly an hour and killing nearly 100 people, why would it shoot down Israeli jets which are causing comparatively less damage over a much shorter period of time?

And, if Russia didn’t publicly convey any implicit threat to the US to deter it from ever committing its crimes again (which the US has since repeated on several lower-profile instances against civilians), why would it use Syrian Ambassador Jaafari to slyly issue such a threat towards Israel?

The short answer is that Russia wouldn’t, and that’s why it never happened, and that’s the wrong interpretation for people to have made.

Now let’s talk about how the “rules of the game” changed.

This last part of Ambassador Jaafari’s comment is obviously in reference to “Syria’s use of anti-aircraft fire against Israel”, not anything related to what Russia speculatively told the Israeli Ambassador, as Jaafari finishes his remark by emphasising that “Syria will not stand idly by in the face of an Israeli threat.”

This should be loudly applauded by all sincere supporters of the Syrian Arab Republic because it demonstrates that Damascus is confident enough in its capabilities to finally take on Israel every time that it launches a similar sort of aggression.  Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman was so distraught by this that he freaked out and threatened to destroy Syria’s air defence systems if Damascus carries through on its promise to defend itself, evidently proving that the Syrians’ S-200 response last weekend got under the Israelis’ skin.

The “rules of the game” have certainly changed, Ambassador Jaafari is right, but supportive observers shouldn’t overreact and get too carried away in describing the new situational context.

Some people are pairing Al Masdar’s reporting that Syria informed Russia prior to its S-200 response to the Israeli aggressors with Ambassador Jaafari’s statement about the new “rules of the game” in order to imagine that Moscow gave Damascus the authorisation to respond to Tel Aviv.

This is a categorically wrong understanding of the facts. For starters, Russia doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have the right to give the final say to the Syrian Arab Army’s military command over whether or not they can respond to external aggression. That is a sovereign choice of Syria and her representatives only, not Russia. Moreover, even if this hypothetical situation was indeed the case, then Russia would have told Syria to stand down and not fire at the Israeli jet.

If Moscow wants all external aggressors out of Syria’s airspace, it could easily down them itself with its S-400 missiles, whether directly or by giving these systems to the Syrians and by having the Syrians themselves use this up-to-date world-class equipment instead of the relatively outdated S-200.

But then why did Syria inform Russia before shooting at the Israeli jet?

Well, that’s easy to explain, and it has to do with respect for one’s allies.

Syria acknowledges that Russia has very close relations with Israel, and that any sudden crisis between Moscow’s two partners would inevitably come to involve Russia to some extent or another. Prior to acting against the Israeli aggressors, Damascus let Moscow know what it was doing so that it could be prepared to diplomatically deal with the fallout and hopefully restrain Tel Aviv from launching the sort of “retaliatory” strike that Defense Minister Lieberman later threatened. It was wise and polite for the Syrians to tell the Russians what they were about to do, but they by no means were seeking the Russians’ prior approval. They were just notifying them.

As it turns out, a convincing piece of evidence has just emerged on none other than RT which casts serious doubt on the claims that Ambassador Jaafari’s statement should be implicitly understood as conveying threats from Russia to Israel. The outlet reported that Netanyahu just announced that he “informed Putin of Israel’s intentions” and that “if there is feasibility from an intelligence and military standpoint – we attack and so it will continue.”

If what the gossipers are saying is true and Ambassador Jaafari was for some unexplainable reason the public middleman in Russian-Israeli diplomacy and tasked by President Putin to deliver thinly veiled threats to Netanyahu, then the “clear message” that some people presume that he meant appears to have been completely ineffective.

Other people have invented an outrageous conspiracy theory that Netanyahu never actually said those words because there’s no video recording of him uttering them, thereby making this “fake news”. As promoters of such conspiracy theories are prone to do, they didn’t think this conspiracy out fully because otherwise they’d realise that there would be serious consequences if RT – a publicly funded international broadcaster of global renown – was tricked into disseminating “fake news” about President Putin and Netanyahu. In such a theoretical circumstance, they’d be compelled to issue a public retraction, yet none has been forthcoming. The reason why? The story and the quotes are true, no matter if scores of internet denizens say otherwise.

If Netanyahu didn’t actually speak with President Putin and just made it all up in order to trick RT and the rest of the world like some people ludicrously allege, then Russia would have naturally summoned the Israeli Ambassador to complain about it, which also hasn’t happened.

This brings the discussion to its final point, which is asking why – since it’s true that Netanyahu talked with President Putin and declared that he will continue to attack Syria whenever it’s “feasible from an intelligence and military standpoint” – Russia would passively allow this to continue happening.

The answer might be too shocking for many people to accept, but it might have to do with what President Putin himself publicly and proudly proclaimed in a joint press conference with Netanyahu in June 2016:

“We talked about the need to jointly fight against international terrorism. Israel knows by first-hand experience what it is and fights against terrorism. In this sense, we are true allies, our countries have enough experience in the fight against extremism. We will boost contacts with Israeli partners in this sphere,” Putin said.”

Russia and Israel aren’t just allies, but “true allies”, and they are “jointly fighting against international terrorism”.

Does this mean that Moscow believes Tel Aviv’s claims that Hezbollah is a “terrorist group” and that Israel only focuses on bombing it, not the Syrian Arab Army, every time that it invades Syria’s airspace?

No, it doesn’t, but Russia also isn’t going to get involved in this big Middle East mess any more than it already is, hence why it agreed to the creation of a military coordination mechanism with Israel during Netanyahu’s September 2015 visit to Moscow, which incidentally was around one week before Russia began its “surprise” anti-terrorist intervention in Syria.

Russia accepts that Israel will periodically carry out “surgical strikes” in Syria under the pretext of targeting Hezbollah, and since Moscow isn’t going to wage war to stop Tel Aviv, the next best thing that its decision makers believe that they can do is passively allow this to happen, and then mitigate any inadvertent clashes during such events.

The most likely reason why the Israeli Ambassador was summoned for the first-time ever in response to one of these many bombings is because the latest one occurred in very close proximity to Russian forces operating in the area, thereby putting them in immediate danger of being hit in the airstrikes themselves or being attacked by the terrorist offensive that Israel hoped to unleash afterwards.

This was needlessly irresponsible, as Russia sees it, hence why it had to embarrass Israel by summoning its Ambassador in response. Moreover, the very fact that such a close-call occurred between the Russian and Israeli militaries raises concern in Moscow that the previously agreed upon military coordination mechanism isn’t working how it is supposed to.  This puts Russian servicemen – the only military forces whose lives Moscow is legally responsible for in Syria – at grave risk, and explains the urgency with which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Israeli Ambassador.

Ambassador Jaafari was right – Putin did send a “clear message” and said “categorically that this game is over” – though not in the way that people, including His Excellency himself, might initially be led to believe, but in the sense that Israeli strikes in Syria will be much more closely (albeit discretely) coordinated with Russia from here on out in order to avoid any similar incidents which could inadvertently kill Russian servicemen.

This isn’t unsubstantiated conjecture, but is solidly backed up by what Foreign Minister Lavrov openly hinted at five days after the scandalous attack occurred. As reported by Sputnik:

“Russia will judge the implementation of the Russian-Israeli cooperation agreement on Syria by Israel’s actions, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday.

He added that during Netanyahu’s last visit to Russia earlier in March, the agreement between him and Putin had been clearly and fully confirmed, and that Russia “will judge how accurately this arrangement is carried out by our Israeli partners not on the basis of what they say but how they act,” Lavrov stressed.

“During Israel’s prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu’s] second to latest visit to Moscow he and President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin achieved a clear agreement about the way Russian and Israeli militaries could cooperate in relation to the situation in Syria,” Lavrov said, commenting on last week’s Israeli strikes on the Syrian Armed Forces posts near Damascus.”

It’s difficult to imagine any way that this could sensibly be understood other than acknowledging that an “agreement” “about the way Russian and Israeli militaries could cooperate in relation to the situation in Syria” was “clearly and fully confirmed” “during Netanyahu’s second to latest visit to Russia earlier in March”, and considering that Syria has no formal relations with Israel and doesn’t even officially recognize it, it’s fair to conclude that Damascus had no input in the negotiations over this accord.

That’s not by any stretch of the imagination to infer that Russia is “working behind Syria’s back” (or worse, “backstabbing it”), but just to draw attention to the fact that both sides don’t always coordinate each and every single decision, no matter how large (geopolitical/military, as this one is) or small (tactical, for example) they may be. 

To wrap everything up, people can’t continue imagining that Russia is some sort of anti-Zionist crusader state. For better or for worse, that’s simply not true, and the bilateral military coordination agreement that President Putin and Netanyahu reaffirmed earlier this month over Syria — as revealed by none other than Foreign Minister Lavrov — is proof of that.

Ambassador Jaafari is one of history’s best diplomats and a masterful wordsmith, so it’s extraordinarily bizarre that anyone would conspiratorially interpret what should have ordinarily been an uncontroversial statement as a secret message of military hostility from Russia to Israel by means of this globally respected Syrian diplomat (and not Russia’s own).

Given that it’s regrettably the case that scores of misguided individuals misunderstood what Ambassador Jaafari had to say, the only recourse left however for individuals who sincerely desire to correct their false perception is to urgently invest the time in independently researching Russian-Israeli relations.

This is the only way for people to educate themselves about the high-level and comprehensive strategic nature of ties between Moscow and Tel Aviv, which in turn will prevent them from embarrassingly falling for cartoonish mischaracterizations about his powerful partnership.

Ignorance feeds on itself, and the less that someone knows about the truth, the easier it is that they’ll be misled by ideological dogmatists and social media charlatans with an agenda.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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