Israel Shamir

The Fighting Optimist

Giant Killers Tackle Google

The digital giants have taken over the world. Nobody has ever amassed this much power. Hitler would die of envy if shown the greatness of Google. Huxley and Orwell’s protagonists could only dream of what Bezos and Gates do. The latter overthrew the US President and installed one they prefer, and for good reason. The combined net worth of the top 100 ultra-rich people in the US has skyrocketed by $195 billion since Biden took office, according to Bloomberg’s calculations. These giants control the minds of billions. Nations hock their lands and industries to purchase their patent medicines. These giants know our faces, our names, all about us, even the cells we are made of, down to the last protein. Gods have been defeated, gentle Christ and mighty Sabaoth, not to mention angry Allah. Is that a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? (Eccl 1:10) No, my jaundiced ancestor was right — it has already been done in the ages before us.

Once upon a time, the giants almost pushed the gods off Olympus. Apollodorus tells us that the gods could not win, until they remembered the oracle that the giants would only be defeated if a mortal man was to help the gods. Only Man can facilitate the gods’ victory over the giants, divined the Greeks in their Gigantomachy, just as the Christians knew only a Son of Man could defeat Death. When the giants had almost defeated the gods, a mortal man, Heracles, stepped forward and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Now we are in dire need of a brave mortal to tackle giants. If there is no Heracles, anyone will do; but the giants have to be defeated. And indeed, unlikely Giant Killers have stepped forward.

The uprising began in rebellious Moscow, where the city arbitration tribunal demanded that Google restore a deleted YouTube account or pay billions of dollars in fines. Impossible, you’d say — Google is free to do whatever they want. They shadow-banned Unz.com; its brother giant Twitter banned Trump; there is no way to overturn their decisions, for such companies are private, and private property is sacred — otherwise it’s Communism and Gulag; they can do whatever they want, and their smart lawyers have already included their right to unplug you in every one-click contract agreement.

Yet Russia isn’t all that different from any other Western nation. Until this happened, the Russian legal system had refused to consider claims against the tech giants. Russian law did not allow for it. It was enough for the giants to stipulate that all claims should go to London or to some other tame court of their preference for the Russians to meekly submit. However, the giants overreached themselves when they blocked this avenue to sue them in Western jurisdiction for many Russians. The Russians responded by creating a new law that established the priority of their national law, and required the courts and tribunals to accept and judge the cases if there is no way to sue in the agreed Western jurisdiction.

This new law was applied by the Moscow Arbitration Tribunal after Google, in July 2020, deleted the account of Tsargrad, a Christian conservative TV channel and news agency belonging to Konstantin Malofeev, an unusual Russian digital media lord. Slate magazine made a profile of the man some years ago, while he was still planning to create Tsargrad. Slate grossly exaggerated Malofeev’s proximity and importance to Putin, for he is an outsider, but otherwise it gives you the general idea. Malofeev had been sanctioned by US and EU authorities in 2014, but the account of the media company he is the main owner of was blocked six years later, in the summer of 2020. Tsargrad had over one million subscribers when suddenly, and without warning, YouTube deleted its account. At first, they explained their action by asserting that Tsargrad was “breaking the community rules’, as always. Later on, Google claimed they blocked Tsargrad because its owner had been sanctioned.

The Moscow tribunal rejected both claims. (Read here the tribunal decision in full, English translation comes after Russian version) It stated that Google didn’t prove Tsargrad broke community rules; even had that been the case, Google would have had to give six months’ warning before breaking the contract. As for sanctions, the Tribunal ruled that US and EU sanctions are a part of public law of those particular countries, and cannot be applied in Russia; Google has to restore their account or suffer legal consequences.

The consequences are financial, and exponential. For the first week of non-compliance, Google would have to pay a little over one thousand dollars, nothing to speak about there. But afterwards, the fines double each week, and in half a year’s time Google would have to pay over $70 billion! Exponential fines can be very threatening. Can the Russians make Google pay? Yes! Google (google.ru) has a few billions on their accounts in Russia, all eminently liable to be seized. On the other hand, if Google restores the blocked account, they won’t have to pay a cent. Stories related to this historical decision are filed here (in Russian).

Anyway, Malofeev had been sanctioned by the US and EU over six years ago, when he was allegedly supporting the Russian rebels in Donbas (he says he ran a humanitarian mission). Why, all of a sudden, did Google freeze his account in 2020?

There is an honest answer to this question, but Google’s cagey lawyers would never admit to it. In 2020, encouraged by their meteoric rise to the top of the pandemic-troubled world, Google and the other giants unleashed their might to erase ideologically unacceptable (for them) media. They carried out a large-scale ideological cleansing of pro-family, Trump-friendly, conservative, Christian sites and accounts, and of sites that didn’t support the paradigm of gay and trans, anti-male, anti-white woke propaganda. The sites that doubted the official Covid narrative were also banned or shadow-banned. They forbid their clients to trust in God, summed it up a Russian observer. The timing of the cleansing was connected with the US Presidential elections of November 2020. The giants planned to remove Trump and install Biden by hook or by crook. Accounts that were likely to disagree with this massive fraud planned by the giants were deleted. Didn’t this constitute meddling in the important elections? For sure, but it was the giants, not the Russians, who meddled, and they even had FBI on their payroll.

Not only did American accounts suffer in this purge; the giants cleansed Russian accounts, too. Though there aren’t many Russian-reading voters in the US, the giants didn’t want to take any chances. They planned and executed probably the first complete global takeover of discourse in human history. Tsargrad was one of the smothered media voices.

Malofeev in Tsargrad office
Malofeev in Tsargrad office

Konstantin Malofeev, the Tsargrad owner, fits the proscribed profile down to a tee. He is conservative, even radical-conservative, a church-going family man and father of three, who does not support LGBTQ+. He is in his forties; he’s a strong admirer of Donald Trump; he followed Trump’s model all the way to marrying off his daughter to a Jewish oligarch’s son. (He is also a tycoon by his own right.) Malofeev modelled his media after Trump’s preferred Fox News, and even hired Jack Hanick, a founding producer for Fox News. His Tsargrad media outlet has been described as “Russian Fox News”; so he is a wannabe Russian Donald Trump. Malofeev is not a hugely popular figure, but nor is Navalny. He is radical-conservative politically, but at the same time is all for a social welfare state, for help to families. He thinks Covid is a creation of Fort Detrick, just like our Ron Unz says. (This is a widely shared view in Russia; last week it was expressed by Mr Volodin, the Parliament speaker who said the new coronavirus could be a product of a leak from a US laboratory.) Malofeev is supportive of Vladimir Putin, though Putin is too liberal and moderate for him. He works with Alexander Dugin, the prominent Russian philosopher who also thinks Putin is not Putin enough. Dugin was present at the press conference regarding the Tsargrad victory over Google, and he gave a fervent short speech calling upon mankind to remove the usurper Giants and regain freedom. I could hear the footsteps of History echoing at this event; Russia was rebelling against the established order again, just as she did in 1917, over a hundred years ago!

Alexander Dugin speaks at Tsargrad
Alexander Dugin speaks at Tsargrad

Malofeev offered Trump his support in regaining access to the discourse snatched by the Giants. In his touching letter to Trump (read it here in full, the English version comes after Russian) he wrote: “Mr President, it is clear to me that the US elections were stolen from you and your voters, and that Big Tech’s efforts to repress this information is both a moral outrage and a prosecutable crime. The death of democracy in America hurts every country in the world, Russia included. I, and many other Russians are ready to help you in your fight for free speech any way we can. Use our court system, and seriously consider my offer to partner in building future platforms. Let’s join forces and decisively go on the offensive against the free-speech haters in Big Tech. Let’s build superior free-speech platforms for people in all countries.”

At the press conference, he called for Trump to accept his assistance in his fight against the giants. Mr Malofeev is a maverick, by Russian or by any standards, but so was Trump. Anyway, who but a maverick would enter a melee against fearsome giants? Only Real Men are able to do it. Though my own views are very far from theirs, I’d say God bless anybody who would save free speech from being smothered by Giants.

P.S. Iran Revelation

For a long time, our readers have wondered why President Putin is so friendly with Israel. A possible explanation was provided last week by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. His seven-hour-long recording (allegedly made for the Oral History project) had been leaked by a Farsi émigré site based in London. In this leak (it had been acknowledged by Mr Zarif who said he was quoted out of context, while Zarif opponents allege he himself leaked it) Zarif reveals that, in his view, Russia does not want Iran to normalise its relations with the West and is trying to undermine the Vienna talks. As long as the US is out of the nuclear deal and Iran continues to be sanctioned, Tehran remains in the Russian sphere of influence, he said. In the al-Jazeera report, Russia actively tried to undermine the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because she would not benefit from Iran enjoying normalised ties with the West, according to the diplomat. “Russia doesn’t benefit if our ties with the West are normalised”, he said.

Zarif also offered a very different version of Russia’s entry into the Syrian war. The late General Soleimani, who was assassinated by the Americans last year, visited Russia in 2015 and met with President Vladimir Putin to discuss intervening in Syria’s civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad. It was previously accepted that Putin had been talked into the war by Soleimani. Zarif provides a completely different account, saying it was Putin who convinced Soleimani to bring Iranian troops to Syria, rather than Soleimani convincing Putin to intervene. “Putin entered the war with air power, but also brought Iran into the war with ground forces. Until then we had no ground forces there,” Zarif said.

Zarif and Lavrov
Zarif and Lavrov

If this conspiratorial interpretation is right, it would explain Russia’s positive attitude to Israel, for no country and no politician has done as much as Israel’s Netanyahu to keep Iran estranged from the US. But for Israel’s opposition, Iran might have forfeited the Axis of Resistance in the Obama era. So Israel should be cherished by Russia, indeed! Likewise, Israel was loved by the US military industries as her might inspired Arabs to buy American hardware.

Simple-minded Jews explain the US drift to make up with Iran by the influence of John Kerry. “Kerry’s daughter Vanessa is married to an Iranian national and physician. His best man at the ceremony was the son of Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Zarif was also Kerry’s chief counterpart in the nuclear deal negotiations. Cozy crew! Look no further why Kerry hates Israel”, says Investment Watch Blog. They would be furious if their political positions were explained by having their relatives in Israel! It seems that some American patriots (like our colleague Philip Giraldi) would prefer to downgrade the special relations with Israel and to upgrade relations with Iran. Washington lawyer Reed Rubinstein, in the Jerusalem Post, suggests that the Biden administration “permits or supports a new intifada if Israel refuses to accede quietly to a new Iran deal or takes ‘unapproved’ steps to defend itself against the Iranian threat.” It is one possible reading. “This would be a catastrophic mistake and horrific breach of trust” – whines the lawyer. What ‘trust’, buddy? International politics is a cutthroat business. Perhaps Iran will cross over to the US, while the Jews will move their sympathies to Russia.

However, one should not make too much out of the partial leak of Zarif’s talk. It could mean that Zarif would like to play Gorbachev on the Islamic Republic and bring Tehran into the Pax Americana. Then he would have invented such a story implying that Iranians would make peace with the US on Washington’s conditions but for perfidious Putin. And in observed reality, Russians were always publicly supportive of JCPOA, and approving of Iran making peace with Israel and the US.

Jews and plotters

Lurashenko and Putin
Lurashenko and Putin

In the recent plot against Belarus President Lukashenko, there is a curious detail totally missing in press reports. The trump evidence of the plot is a tape purporting to be a recording of a conversation between a Belarusian general and the chief plotter, lawyer Yuri Zenkovich, who has Belarusian and American citizenships. In Belarus, Zenkovich was an opposition activist, a well-known member of the Belarusian Popular Front. He left for the US in the mid-2000’s, where he began to build his career as a lawyer, said the US Embassy. The general apparently was used to trap the lawyer, who actively looked for potential accomplices in the Belarus Army. In the tape (5:05), the lawyer tries to convince the general to join the plotters by saying: “I am supported by US Jewish capital. I have excellent relations with the American Jewish Committee. This is an NGO headed by three hundred of the wealthiest Jewish families of America. It is the Jewish Lobby of America”.

On the American Jewish Committee site there is a quotation “American Jewish Committee is the dean of American Jewish organizations.” — THE NEW YORK TIMES. We have no idea whether the AJC or its members offered their support to Mr Zenkovich. Belarus’ KGB chief offers us the comforting point of view that the plotters were rather plotting to swindle their supporters and donors and to spend it on “loose women and vodka”. Perhaps. But it is funny – the best way to convince a military general is to tell him rich American Jews support the cause. I couldn’t find an AJC response to this accusation; the plot was never referred to in the US media.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

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