As Trump envoy set to visit, Liberman pushes population transfer plan

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman cautioned the US against trying to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on the basis of land for peace without also including a population transfer, as a senior Washington official tasked with kicking off peace efforts made his way to the region for the first time.

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is slated to land in Israel later Monday, and is expected to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of an opening gambit to try and broker fresh peace talks after years of stagnation between the sides.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page, Liberman said Greenblatt should “learn lessons from the past,” pitching the US official on his long-held belief that certain Israeli Arab towns should be made part of a Palestinian state, with many of the residents of those towns taking on Palestinian citizenship instead of Israeli.

“The first takeaway is that any attempt to solve the Palestinian issue on the basis of land for peace will be dead on arrival. The only way to reach a sustainable solution is land swaps and population transfers as part of a general regional agreement,” he wrote. “It can’t be that there will be a Palestinian state without any Jews — 100 percent Palestinian — and alongside that Israel will be a binational state with 22% Palestinians.”

Liberman’s controversial plan calls for towns in the “triangle” region southeast of Haifa, including heavily populated Arab cities, to become part of a Palestinian state in any peace agreement in exchange for Jewish settlement areas of the West Bank coming under Israeli sovereignty.

“There is no reason that Sheikh Raed Salah, Ayman Odeh, Basel Ghattas or Haneen Zoabi should continue to be citizens of Israel,” Liberman added, referring to the leader of the banned northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and members of the Joint (Arab) List Knesset faction, respectively.

Responding to the statement, Ghattas said the fact that Liberman was born in the Soviet Union and moved to Israel made him a “passing visitor” while “Palestinians living in Israel own the place.”

“There’s no doubt that Liberman, a migrant from Moldova, doesn’t understand what it means to be born in your land, and in any agreement in the future, there is no room for settlers stealing the land of the Palestinian state, and no room for despicable racist migrants like Yvette,” Ghattas wrote, using a common nickname for Liberman.

Greenblatt’s visit will be the first major attempt by the new US administration to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after two months which have seen officials dither on support for the two-state solution, the location of the US Embassy and opposition to building in settlements.

Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace. @jdgreenblatt45

On Friday, Trump held his first phone conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, inviting him to visit the White House.

According to reports, Trump and his team want to broker a regional peace initiative that will include Israel, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia and others.

On Sunday, Abbas said that his phone conversation with Trump was “constructive” and that Trump “confirmed his full commitment to the peace process.”

He added: “We will continue to cooperate with [Trump], in order to arrive at a comprehensive and just peace that will bring security and stability to everyone.”

Other Palestinian sources said that Trump told Abbas he wanted to broker a deal, and that he referred to Abbas as a “partner.”

The goal of Greenblatt’s visit is reportedly to formulate the Trump administration’s position on settlements, including what the US will accept in terms of where and how much Israel can build, and to arrange Abbas’s visit to Washington.

The visit comes a month after Trump’s public request that Israel “hold back” on the settlement construction, whose literal meaning Jerusalem officials have been tirelessly dissecting.

Both Netanyahu and Liberman have recently tried to curb the discussion of settlements, with the understanding that the issue could cause tension with Washington.

According to a Channel 2 TV report Sunday, the prime minister will present Greenblatt with plans for a new West Bank settlement, one that he promised the residents of Amona ahead of their court-ordered evacuation in exchange for a peaceful evacuation of the hilltop community.

The Palestinians are expected to push the US administration to present its own peace plan, according to a report Monday in the Haaretz daily.

Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously included that Abbas said Trump had expressed commitment to a two-state deal, based on a Palestinian transcript of the speech.


There Is a Growing Movement Across the Legal Community to Plan a Nationwide Walkout Against Trump

The legal professionals whose careers are premised on working within the system are now taking aim at the system itself, throwing their weight behind a call for a strike on Friday, February 17 to oppose the Trump administration.

“Lawyers, legal workers, law students, paralegals, court interpreters, investigators, social service advocates and others who work in the courts will gather in front of courthouses across the country in coordination with the nationwide #GeneralStrike planned for the same day,” reads a statement from the National Lawyers Guild. “This is an opportunity for the legal community to express our solidarity with the growing movements against the new regime and its white supremacist agenda.”

Legal communities are planning walkouts and rallies in a dozen cities, from Boston to Tucson to Los Angeles. Thirty-five organizations have added their endorsement, among Law for Black Lives and the Water Protector Legal Collective, which is providing legal support for Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock. The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 has also lent its support to the strike, as has the LGBTQ prison abolition organization Black and Pink.

“The legal community has a unique role to play in supporting the mass resistance to Trump’s toxic agenda,” Dima Khalidi, the director of Palestine Legal, told AlterNet. “Palestine Legal is committed to protecting the right to engage in such resistance, and we’re committed to doing so with our legal colleagues who understand what’s at stake, and the importance of letting the movements that have been building for years lead the way.”

Pooja Gehi is the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, which put out the call for the broader legal community to participate in the strike. She told AlterNet that now is an important time to refuse to participate in “normalizing and legitimizing” the Trump regime.

“I think that in this moment, it is really important for us to use all of the tools of resistance that we have,” said Gehi. “Striking is one important way to say we are not participating in our normal activities, this is not the world we want to live in, this is not okay. The power of the people has been moving and transformative already in the past three weeks, with protests and solidarity all over the world and country.”

The “law strikes back” action is part of a call issued by Strike4Democracy, for a National Day of Action to Push Back Against Assaults on Democratic Principles. Meanwhile, a coalition of feminist scholars and activists have declared March 8 an International Strike Against Male Violence and in Defense of Reproductive Rights. The group behind the women’s march signaled its official endorsement of the March 8 general strike on Wednesday by releasing a tweet that states, “In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman.”

Meanwhile, Movimiento Cosecha, or Harvest Movement, is planning an immigrant strike on May 1, also known as May Day or International Workers’ Day. The slated action is part of their larger effort to build toward a one-week strike of five to eight million workers to demand respect and dignity for all undocumented people living in the United States.

Friday’s nationwide protests and walkouts are part of a groundswell of mobilizations against Donald Trump and his policies, as people have flooded streets and airports in stunning numbers to defend their communities.

“We’re sponsoring and participating in Friday’s action because lawyers, like everyone else, need to be counted upon to stand up to any and all illegal actions of this and future presidencies,” Vince Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, told AlterNet. “There is a clear tendency for this administration to govern more in defiance of the law than in accordance with it. Millions of people are impacted by ill-considered and sometimes unlawful executive orders, and lawyers and the judiciary will be key to ensuring that people are treated fairly and that the president is not above the law.”

Joey Mogul, a partner at the People’s Law Office, told AlterNet, “We are horrified to see how many human rights are under attack by the current administration, and we feel it’s necessary to come together as lawyers and legal workers to resist and show support for communities on the ground who are suffering. We are desperately and deeply disturbed by the Muslim ban, the crackdown on immigrants, the fact that there is a new attorney general who has shown disregard for constitutional rights and an administration calling for more ‘law and order’ that would protect police officers while sacrificing the rights of protesters.”

Since Trump assumed office, legal workers have taken to the streets to observe protests and flocked to airports to offer free counsel to people impacted by an executive order targeting Muslim travelers. Large-scale protests and a tangle of lawsuits have hampered its implementation from the start. Gehi emphasized, “I feel that legal organizations have stepped up in this moment to say that they are resisting.”

Some say coordinated action is essential because much of the legal community is complicit in the federal government’s abuses.

Mik Kinkead, the director of the Prisoner Justice Project at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, told AlterNet his organization is participating in the February 17 action “because so much of the harm and oppression our communities face is perpetrated and held by lawyers, judges and lawmakers.”

“We know that the liberation of trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people, particularly those of us who are low income and/or of color will never come from these systems,” Kinkead continued. “Yet as long as legal systems are one of the many helpful tools we use for reprieve, to ease pain, to amplify our voices, then we must also participate in any and all actions that hold individuals with power in these legal systems accountable. As a legal services organization, we must constantly come back to our membership and be held accountable, just as we are calling on all individuals who are involved in these legal systems to do at Friday’s action.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

French Israelis fume at Le Pen’s plan to ban dual citizenship

An organization representing French Israelis on Friday criticized far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for saying she would seek to bar French citizens from holding a dual citizenship with non-European countries such as Israel.

Ariel Kandel, director of Qualita — an umbrella organization representing French immigrants to Israel — said “These propositions are unacceptable to the Jews of France.

“They mark an additional stage in Marine Le Pen’s wish to destroy the identity of French Jews which rest both on their Judaism and on their ties to Israel,” he said.

“The prospect that Jews will no longer be able to enjoy their Jewish and Zionist identity is quite troubling,” Kandel said.

Le Pen, head of the Front National party and a leading candidate in the upcoming French presidential elections this spring, told France 2 TV Thursday that “Israel is not a European country and doesn’t consider itself as such” when asked if her ban on dual nationality would be extended to Jewish citizens of France.

Qualita director Ariel Kandel (YouTube screenshot)

Qualita director Ariel Kandel (YouTube screenshot)

“I’m asking the Israelis to choose their nationality. It doesn’t mean that if they don’t choose French nationality, they have to leave. France can certainly accommodate foreign people on its soil long-term, those with foreign citizenship,” she said.

A spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a spokesperson of the Jewish Agency refused to comment on Le Pen’s comments, AFP reported.

Le Pen has routinely advocated a tough-on-immigration approach, charging that current immigration rules were “too generous.”

It is estimated that thousands of French Jews hold Israeli citizenship as immigration to Israel from France has seen a sharp increase in recent years amid rising anti-Semitism and a string of deadly terror attacks by radical Islamic groups, including the Islamic State.

Throughout the early 2000s, Israel welcomed approximately 2,000 French Jews a year, but during and after 2013, immigration from the country — which has approximately 500,000 Jews — jumped to some 3,000. The following year, over 5,000 came, followed by nearly 8,000 in 2015 and another 5,000 last year.

Le Pen has over the years worked hard to rid the Front National of its more extremist, anti-Semitic fringe since taking over from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has repeatedly referred to the Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of history.

But the Jewish community in France is still very wary of Le Pen despite its traditionally hawkish leanings.

She has expressed a desire to promote legislation that would ban religious clothing in public. Her initiative is aimed mainly against the Islamic burqa and the Niqab, but would also ban Jews from wearing a kippa in public.

“Because I think everyone in France should receive the same treatment, I also support the ban on wearing a kippa in the public sphere,” said Le Pen last week in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2.

“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippa are in any case a minority, because they are afraid. But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, ‘there, we are sacrificing something.’ Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat [instead], but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France,” she said.

As part of her commitment to secularism, Le Pen is also opposed to ritual kosher and halal slaughter.

Scientists plan to march on Washington — but where will it get them?

A few months from now, thousands of scientists will leave their labs and take to the streets to rally on behalf of publicly funded, openly communicated, evidence-based research.

At least, that’s the vision of the organizers of the March for Science, which is slated to take place on April 22 — Earth Day.

Conceived in the wake of the successful Women’s March on Washington, and galvanized by recent news that President Trump’s administration was instructing government researchers not to communicate with the public, the plan includes a march in the District and dozens of satellite demonstrations. So far, marches are in the planning stages in more than 100 cities in at least 11 countries.

The event in Washington will culminate in a rally on the Mall featuring speakers and “teach-in” tents where scientists can share their research with the public. Organizers say that more than 40,000 people have signed up online to volunteer with the project.

It took less than two weeks for the march to balloon from a musing on Reddit into full-blown movement. A private Facebook group for participants has more than 800,000 members. Theoretical physicist Laurence Krauss said he plans to attend. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to Facebook to voice his approval. A handful of scientific societies, including the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Sociological Association, have endorsed it.

But the effort has also sparked debates about what a “March for Science” should mean — and whether scientists should be marching in the first place.

Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said he can’t think of any precedent for this kind of mass activism. In the past, scientists have spoken out about political interference in research, and they’ve been involved in protesting nuclear weapons and environmental contamination, “but those weren’t so much about science as they were referring to scientific issues,” he explained.

“As I understand it, the marchers want this to be a gigantic endorsement of the idea of science, the idea of verifiable evidence,” Holt said. “That’s new.”

Organizers say that the policies of the new administration — prohibitions on communication by government scientists, the executive order barring travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, talk of removing climate change pages from the website of the Environmental Protection Agency — demand action.

“We feel that the time has passed for scientists to, in good conscience, stay out of this fight,” said Caroline Weinberg, a public health researcher and science writer who is co-organizing the march. “There is no need to be partisan — politicians on both sides of the aisle are guilty of positions that fly in the face of scientific evidence — but it is not possible to ignore policy when it affects not just your jobs but the future of your field.”

Already, several of the new president’s policies have jolted the scientific community. The American Geophysical Union is now urging members to sign petitions condemning the travel ban and urging legislators not to remove scientific data from government websites. More than 171 scientific, engineering and academic organizations signed a letter urging the president to rescind his executive order, noting that it will bar many students and researchers from traveling to the United States to do their work. The leading scientific societies have reached out to the Trump administration offering their expertise on science issues, including government action on climate change, but they have been largely rebuffed.

Given the current climate, “I’m pleased to see people spontaneously speaking out in defense of the scientific process, in defense of using good evidence in policymaking,” Holt said. He added that he has reached out to march organizers to see how his organization can help, but AAAS hasn’t formally gotten involved.

Holt did note that the choice to hold the march on Earth Day — when environmentalist groups are likely to be organizing their own demonstrations — could be a fraught one. The issue of environmental protection is so politically charged, it could overpower the march’s overall message about protecting evidence-based policymaking and scientific integrity.

Christine McEntee, the executive director of AGU, said that her group is still figuring what, if any, role they might have in the march. “At a minimum, we’ll make sure our members are aware of the March for Science if they’d like to attend,” she said. “We support scientists exercising their rights as citizens to speak out.”

Still, some researchers are skeptical that a march is the right way to advocate for their work — and worry that marching could actively harm it. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, coastal ecologist Robert Young wrote that the march would be perceived as a protest of President Trump and “trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about.”

“Trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends,” he cautioned.

Instead of marching, Young urged his colleagues to make contact with civic groups, churches and elected officials in an effort to explain how science works and why scientific findings should be trusted. “We need storytellers, not marchers,” he said.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist at the University of Washington, countered that science has always been influenced by politics. She noted that she is only the 63rd black woman in American history to get a PhD in physics — a degree that has been awarded to tens of thousands of researchers. That’s no accident, she said.

“The universe may be doing things without any regard for human politics,” she said. “It probably is. … But there’s always an agenda that is shaping who can do research, how we think about the research that we’re doing, and the research we think is important to do.”

Prescod-Weinstein cited the example of Albert Einstein, who, in addition to illuminating the fundamental laws of physics, advocated for civil rights, socialism, and nuclear arms control. His politics made him a target of the FBI, which tracked his phone calls and went through his trash until his death in 1955.

“Those are the same scientists we are taught to look up to as science students,” she said of Einstein and other physicists who advocated for arms control. “They very much understood that physics had a role to play in the unfolding of highly polarized political events.”

Indeed, Prescod-Weinstein and others say they believe that scientists haven’t been political enough. Along with astrophysicist Sarah Tuttle and cancer biologist Joseph Osmundson, she published a statement on the website the Establishment comparing the current situation to the climate in Germany in the early 1930s. “Professional standards and ambitions are not a substitute for morals, political or otherwise,” they wrote. “We cannot do business as usual anymore, regardless of how much we love our research or how important it feels.”

Much of the scientific community falls somewhere within these extremes. They are balancing anger about what they see as threats to their research, energy from the recent surge in activism, and worry about the perils of jumping into the political fray.

Mike Brown, the Caltech astronomer who famously “killed Pluto” with his discovery of dwarf planets in the outer solar system, said he still has misgivings. He’s not opposed to activism in general — Brown took his daughter to the Women’s March in Los Angeles in January and called it “one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done.” But he’s not sure marching is the best way for scientists to advocate for their work.

“Having a bunch of scientists marching takes the interesting thing about scientists away from them,” he said. “These are educators and teachers and scientists [whose] super power is teaching you cool things about the universe around you.” Maybe instead of marching, researchers should take Young’s advice and conduct a teach-in instead, he mused.

“I don’t know,” he said. “The attacks on science are pretty unprecedented, and maybe all these softer ideas are just crazy.”

Weinberg is familiar with these arguments, and she agreed that science shouldn’t be influenced by politics. But, she said, scientists have an obligation to make sure that their work informs policy.

“That’s what research is for: to help us understand the world and to guide our decisions going forward,” she said. “It’s absurd to ignore the vast pool of knowledge centuries of scientific research have placed at our fingertips.”

How protesters plan to get under Trump’s skin wherever he goes

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Saturday evening march will begin at Trump Plaza, a high-rise apartment building. President Trump actually hasn’t owned the place since 1991. Fine. It still has the name. It’s a good place to start.

From there, the marchers will head south, walking along the Intracoastal Waterway that separates West Palm Beach from ritzy Palm Beach island. They’ll stop, on police orders, when they reach the bridge.

And then, the plan is to wave signs and glowsticks. The hope is that they’ll be visible across the dark water and the great green lawn of the club, from up in the private apartment that is now the “winter White House.”

If Trump sees those green lights, then he’ll know that his critics have followed him home.

“He is a part-time resident here, and we want to make sure people know his values are not our values,“ said Alex Newell Taylor, 34, an organizer of Saturday’s march. She said thousands are expected.

This is the reality of Trump’s honeymoon-free presidency.

Having sought to create unprecedented disruption in Washington, his critics will now seek to bring unprecedented disruption to his life as president — including demonstrations that follow him when he travels, and protests that will dog his businesses even when he doesn’t.

Already this week, Trump — the most unpopular new president in modern times — cancelled a trip to visit Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, where local groups had planned to protest his appearance; the White House said the protests were not the reason.

And, around the business empire that Trump still owns, his critics treat each location as an avatar for the president.

There have been small gestures of pique: lipstick graffiti on the sign at Trump’s golf course in Los Angeles, and a plan for a mass mooning of his hotel in Chicago. There have also been more organized efforts to take time and money away from family businesses — a boycott of stores selling Ivanka Trump’s clothes and a campaign to flood Trump businesses with calls demanding that the president divest from his holdings.

For Trump’s opponents, these demonstrations are a way to change his behavior by denting the president’s own self-image, as a popular man with a successful business.

The risk, for them, is that protests meant to shame Trump will consume energy that could be used to beat him by winning elections and swaying votes in Congress.

Protest “gets under his skin,” said Michael Skolnik, a filmmaker and prominent liberal organizer in New York, who supports this sort of protest. He hoped that, somehow, getting under the president’s skin might turn out to be a good long-term political strategy.

“What if Trump can’t come out of bed for four days? That could happen,” Skolnik said.

In his later days, George W. Bush faced protests outside his Texas ranch, from people opposed to the Iraq War. On his travels, President Obama sometimes faced demonstrations from liberals, pushing him to do more on immigration or the environment.

But neither one faced organized protest movements at the start of their presidency, condemning the president across multiple policy areas. Trump does.

It began the day after his inauguration, when more than 1 million marched in “Women’s Marches” in Washington and around the country and globe. It continued the following weekend, when thousands of people gathered at airports to protest Trump’s executive order on immigration, which barred refugees and all visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

It continued this past week, as the administration was consumed by the chaos that the loosely drafted immigration order set off. In New York City, for instance, hundreds of bodega markets owned by Yemeni Americans closed to protest the same order on Thursday.

“You know how Yellowstone National Park is built on one of the world’s biggest volcanos?” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director for, a liberal activist group. “It feels like that just exploded in terms of grassroots energy.”

Trump himself has dismissed these protests — operating on the theory that he doesn’t need these protestors to like him and that their anger might actually help him by pushing others closer to Trump. On Twitter, for instance, the president cast the Women’s March as a massive outpouring of sour grapes.

“Was under the impression that we just had an election!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Why didn’t these people vote?”

On Friday — after a pair of violent protests on college campuses where conservative provocateurs were invited to talk — Trump seemed to lump these small groups of unruly protestors in with the rest of his critics from the other events.

“Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” he wrote, though there is no evidence that any significant number of demonstrators are being paid.

Saturday night’s protest near Mar-a-Lago will be a test of what’s next: on a Saturday night, with no election in sight, can organizers raise a crowd merely to haunt Trump from across the water?

The organizers think so. They expect thousands..

“The traditional way of looking at these Facebook events is to look at the number of RSVPs and cut it in half,” Newell Taylor said. But the last few weeks have shown that anti- Trump events are different, she said. They always get bigger than you expect. “With this Trump situation, it’s, ‘Take the number of RSVPs, and double it.’”

Around the country, other groups have directed their unhappiness toward Trump at his business empire, which he still effectively owns, though Trump says he’s given over management to his executives and two eldest sons.

“I am scoping it out right now,” said a woman snapping photos of the sign outside Trump’s golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., near Los Angeles. She gave her name only as “Diane,” and said she was scouting the site for a protest

“People are pissed and feel they can’t do anything, but we want to hit him where it hurts,” she said. “I don’t think he wants people near his businesses. We want to hit him where it hurts most, his money.” On an earlier day, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took a report for vandalism — somebody crossed out “Trump” on the sign with lipstick, and wrote a Spanish swear word instead.

Others were more organized about their efforts.

One group, called “Grab Your Wallet,” was started in October after The Washington Post obtained a 2005 video in which Trump bragged about groping women during a taping of “Access Hollywood.”

Shannon Coulter, who helps lead the group, said she had a visceral reaction after that when she encountered Ivanka Trump-branded items while shopping. Ivanka Trump had continued to campaign for her father after the tape’s release.

“I kind of had [Trump’s] words ringing in my ears,” she said. She helped launch a boycott campaign, which has grown to include more than 60 companies — ranging from the Trump Organization’s own hotels and golf courses to business that carry Ivanka Trump merchandise to businesses whose leaders supported Trump during the election.

Coulter said her Facebook group has more than 11,000 people connected to it. What they want, she said, was to “shop the stores we love with a clear conscience, and without any bad memories.”

Now, three businesses that her group targeted for boycotts have severed or loosened their connections to the Trumps. Nordstrom said it would stop selling Ivanka Trump merchandise, Nieman Marcus stopped selling her jewelry on its website and he chief executive of Uber, the ride-share company, pulled out of Trump’s business advisory council.

Another campaign offers Trump’s critics a more direct — but possibly less productive — way to respond to Trump.

It lets them call up one of his companies at random and complain to whomever answers the phone.

“Until he divests, these [businesses] are embassies of the White House,” said Scott Goodstein, the founder of Creative Majority PAC. He also runs Revolution Messaging, the Washington firm that actually set up the system.

Their system connects callers to one of 30 Trump business phone numbers. It could be a hotel front desk. It could be a restaurant. Goodstein says they encourage callers to “have fun with it.” For instance, if a restaurant employee offers to help make a reservation, one might say: “I have a reservation — that Donald Trump is not taking this job seriously.”

Since this effort started in December, the PAC says it has facilitated 33,000 phone calls, and has been blocked by 51 different Trump Organization phone numbers. He said it’s having the desired effect, squeezing Trump’s business in a way that would squeeze the man himself.

“It’s definitely having an effect on Trump’s businesses,” Goodstein said. “And I’m sure that President Trump will know that this act of dissension is taking place.”

But Alan Garten, chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, said in a telephone interview that the phone calls had not interfered with the business. And even if they did, he said, Trump would not know about it because has resigned from his management roles.

“There’s a complete separation,” Garten said. “He may read [about] it in the newspaper, that I don’t know.”

Fahrenthold reported from Washington. Sandhya Somashekhar and Wesley Lowery in Washington and Bill Dauber in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., also contributed to this report.

Leaked memo reveals Trump’s plan to smash the EPA

The EPA is getting an “absolute hammering” from the Trump administration. That’s how new news site Axios described it Monday morning, and the news has just gotten worse since then.

A leaked copy of the Trump team’s plan for the EPA calls for slashing its budget, “terminating climate programs,” ending auto fuel-economy standards, and executing “major reforms of the agency’s use of science and economics.”

The Trump administration has frozen EPA’s grants and contracts, cutting off funding for everything from cleanup of toxic sites to testing of air quality.

EPA employees have been ordered not to share information via social media, press releases, or new website content, Huffington Post reports.

It’s unclear which of these changes are temporary — just in place until Trump’s nominee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, gets confirmed — and which might be put in place more permanently.

More bad news for the EPA will be coming: A new team that Trump has put in place to shift the agency’s direction includes three former researchers from Koch-funded think tanks, one former mining lobbyist, and a number of people who have argued against climate action, according to Reuters. And Trump is poised to issue executive orders to weaken pollution rules and cut agency budgets, Vox reports.

Jewish groups plan pro-, anti-Trump Shabbat activities in Washington

(JTA) — Jewish groups of various denominations are preparing Shabbat activities in Washington, D.C., for participants of the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

Chabad rabbis are organizing a Shabbat event at The Shul Lubavitch Center near Dupont Circle, with tickets selling at $25 to $50 per person, according to the Forward. (The event has been sold out.) The center is located within a short walking distance of the home of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s Jewish son-in-law and his eldest daughter, who underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism before marrying Kushner.

Their weekend plans were not immediately known, according to the Forward.

The Chabad event will include Friday night services and a traditional dinner.

A separate Shabbat program at the Marriott Marquis hotel will include prayer services with a Torah scroll brought in especially, the Forward reported. Attendance at the event, where participants will include major Jewish Republican donors, is by invitation only.

David Peyman, who served as Trump campaign’s director of outreach to the Jewish community, is among the expected participants. For Peyman, the event will also serve as an opportunity to reconnect with the small group of Jewish Republicans who supported Trump throughout the campaign.

Separately, Jewish groups and institutions participating Saturday in the Women’s March on Washington — a protest in response to the Trump inauguration – are also planning Shabbat activities.

Sixth and I, a nondenominational synagogue hosting the bulk of Jewish Women’s March activities, will begin its programming Saturday night. The synagogue is hosting services with a range of activists groups, including the National Council for Jewish Women, Jews United for Justice, the rabbinical human rights group T’ruah and others. The synagogue will also be holding a dinner, which has been sold out.

Before the march, at least two large groups of Jews will be coming together to pray and prepare. Sixth and I will be hosting a gathering of song, reflection and Torah reading at 8:45, and will be heading to the march at 9:30. (The pre-march event is also sold out.)

In addition, the Religious Action Center, the Reform movement’s legislative advocacy arm, will hold a Sabbath service at the Hyatt Regency Washington led by local Reform rabbis.

Back in the pro-Trump camp, students and young supporters can attend a Shabbat dinner for inauguration participants hosted by Young Jewish Conservatives, according to the Forward. The event, organizers promised, will be “a celebration of democracy and Judaism” and a chance to “network with like-minded Jewish activists.”

Those who contributed six- and seven-figure gifts to the Inauguration Committee will attend private receptions with Trump and his close advisers, and will watch the swearing-in ceremony from front row seats on Capitol Hill. Among the big givers are casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who pledged $1 million.

Adolf Hitlers Plan to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at the Teheran Conference


Many assassination attempts were made on Hitler’s life. Yet, not so well-known are the german assassination plans for the Allied leaders – President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Soviet leader, Stalin.

Hitler’s Waffen-SS had an entire team and a plan dedicated to assassinating all three leaders when they met in Tehran for a World War Two conference in 1943. The details of this plan have been revealed in a new book called Operation Long Jump: Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Greatest Assassination Plot in History by Bill Yenne, who is a war historian and enthusiast.

The germans found out about the Tehran conference and began to plan how they could get rid of all the Allied leaders in one go since all three would be attending. The man leading the mission was Otto Skorzeny, who was also responsible for rescuing Italian wartime leader Mussolini when he had been deposed and imprisoned by the Italian authorities.

Otto planned for a team of paratroopers to drop on the outskirts of Tehran from the air and then hide in the houses of German sympathisers. Some of those paratroopers would be defectors from the Red Army who still had their uniforms. They would wear their army outfits and pretend to be part of Stalin’s security on the ground during the conference.

While Otto planned the mission, the Allies were also planning their response, since they had received intelligence from a Swiss agent that the german plan was afoot. Ernst Merser was a Swiss businessman who worked on international deals.

He gained the trust of the Germans and was asked to manage the equipment drops over Iran during the conference. Meanwhile, he was working for Allied intelligence; he made the plans known as well as the equipment and weapons that were to be used in the plot. In addition to Ernst, some of the Red Army defectors were actually spies planted into the Nazi war machine, and they were also feeding information back to the Soviet intelligence services.

Otto’s plan went ahead but when the paratroopers landed in Iran, the Soviet spies killed the German paratroopers.

The book also outlines what might have happened if the plan had gone ahead successfully. The successful assassination of the three Allied leaders could have potentially led to a peace deal with Germany, leaving it in control of its occupied territories across Europe.

Trump Suggests Berlin Attack Affirms His Plan to Bar Muslims

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump seemed to suggest on Wednesday that the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin vindicated his proposal during the presidential campaign to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

“You know my plans,” Mr. Trump said to reporters who asked whether the attack on Monday, in which a Tunisian is being sought, would cause him to re-evaluate his proposals to create a Muslim registry or to stop Muslim immigration to the United States. “All along, I’ve been proven to be right. One hundred percent correct.”

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump was reaffirming his much-criticized call for a wholesale ban on Muslim immigration or his subsequent clarification that he would stop only those entering from countries with a history of Islamic extremism. As with many of his pronouncements since his election last month, the remarks, delivered on the blustery front steps of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, were cryptic and left room for broad interpretation.

But hours later, one of his advisers said he was only restating his most recent position.

“President-elect Trump has been clear that we will suspend admission of those from countries with high terrorism rates and apply a strict vetting procedure for those seeking entry in order to protect American lives,” said Jason Miller, the communications director for the transition. “This might upset those with their heads stuck in the politically correct sand, but nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.”

It was the latest confusing turn in Mr. Trump’s positions on major issues since the election. In Twitter posts and comments over the last week, he has pledged to create “safe zones” in Syria, paid for by Persian Gulf nations; accused China of an “unprecedented act” in seizing a Navy underwater drone in the South China Sea; and then, after the Pentagon and China negotiated the drone’s return, suggested that the United States should “let them keep it!”

The series of scattershot remarks has further unsettled a turbulent period in American foreign policy. It underscores Mr. Trump’s challenge in fashioning a coherent approach to the problems he will inherit in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, especially working with a team that consists of retired generals and an oil executive, few of whom have experience in the daily cascade of crises that confront every White House.

“We know he’s got some instincts and predilections, but there is no coherent Trump foreign-policy doctrine, and we’re not likely to see one,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University who worked for President George W. Bush and has been a vocal critic of Mr. Trump.

“They’re in the fun phase now,” Mr. Cohen added, “but they’re in for a whole bunch of rude awakenings.”

One area where Mr. Trump and his advisers have been unswerving is their repeated denunciation of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

But his position on barring Muslim immigrants has gone through various modifications since December 2015, when he first called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Philip D. Zelikow, who served in the administrations of both Presidents Bush and now teaches at the University of Virginia, said there were three guiding themes in Mr. Trump’s foreign policy: economic nationalism, a war against “radical Islamic terrorism,” and a “deliberate aloofness” toward the actions of other countries — for example, Russia. “Beyond that,” Mr. Zelikow said, “there is an ambient prickliness. We could end up picking fights with three-quarters of the world.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump and his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, met with a delegation of generals and admirals from the Pentagon’s joint staff at the president-elect’s Palm Beach club. A day earlier, Mr. Flynn met in Washington with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s nominees for secretary of defense, Gen. James N. Mattis; secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson; and secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly.

The military officers at the meeting focus mostly on the acquisition of equipment, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, whose costs Mr. Trump recently complained had spiraled “out of control.” This suggests that his first major Pentagon briefing was about hardware and budgets, not military operations.

Advisers to Mr. Trump did not discuss the meetings or say how he planned to respond to the attack in Germany, as well as ones in Turkey and Switzerland. In a Twitter post on Monday, the president-elect said that terrorism was “getting worse” and that “the civilized world must change thinking!”

That has left analysts to pore over Mr. Trump’s recent pronouncements to figure out how they might alter the policy followed by the Obama administration. His call for safe zones, which he made during a rally in Hershey, Pa., last week, suggested to some that he would seek a more activist role in Syria, probably working with Russia, which has had an antagonistic relationship with President Obama.

“Why is he saying this?” asked Andrew J. Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Referring to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, he said, “The answer is, he’s getting briefings that show that Bashar Assad is so depleted in manpower that it will take years, not months, for him to reconquer his territory.”

“The fact that he said that says to me that he recognizes that Syria is going to be a divided country,” Mr. Tabler said.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump sent mixed messages on Syria. He called for the creation of “a big, beautiful safe zone” in the country to stem the tide of refugees from Syria to Europe. But he also said the United States should resist getting drawn into the grinding conflict against Mr. Assad because the real enemy was the Islamic State.

When Hillary Clinton, his opponent, called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria, Mr. Trump warned that it could lead to “World War III” with Russia. Analysts point out, however, that securing a safe zone would probably require some kind of a no-fly zone. They also said it was not clear why a gulf nation like Saudi Arabia would agree to deploy troops or pay for such a zone.

Mr. Trump’s handling of the drone episode with China was similarly inconsistent. His initial Twitter post, “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act,” suggested he viewed it as a grave affront.

But after the Chinese agreed to return the submersible drone to a Navy ship off the Philippines, he wrote, “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.”

The Obama administration’s response, by contrast, was so muted that some analysts in the region worried that it might embolden China to act more boldly in the South China Sea. Some speculated that the Chinese were twitting Mr. Trump after his own provocative actions toward them.

Mr. Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from the president of Taiwan this month — the first such leader-to-leader exchange between Taiwan and the United States in nearly four decades — and declared that he viewed the “One China” policy as a bargaining chip with Beijing.

Mr. Obama said in a news conference last week: “The idea of ‘One China’ is at the heart of their conception as a nation. And so, if you are going to upend this understanding, you have to have thought through the consequences, because the Chinese will not treat it the way they’ll treat some other issues.”

Russian Specialist Lays Bare Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe

  • Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War?, by Viktor Suvorov (Vladimir Rezun). London: Hamish Hamilton, 1990. Hardcover. Maps. Photos. Source references. Index.

Reviewed by Joseph Bishop

It sometimes happens that the most significant historical works are virtually ignored by the mainstream press, and consequently reach few readers. Such is the case with many revisionist studies, including this important work by a former Soviet military intelligence officer who defected to the West in 1978. Even before the appearance of this book, he had already established a solid reputation with the publication of five books, written under the pen name of Viktor Suvorov, on the inner workings of the Soviet military, and particularly its intelligence operations.

In Icebreaker Suvorov takes a close look at the origins and development of World War II in Europe, and in particular the background to Hitler’s “Operation Barbarossa” attack against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Since its original publication in Russian (entitled Ledokol) in France in 1988, it has been published in an astonishing 87 editions in 18 languages. In spite of its importance to the historical record, Icebreaker has received very little attention in the United States. The few reviews that have appeared here have been almost entirely brief and dismissive — a shameful treatment that reflects the cowardice and intellectual irresponsibility of a “politically correct” scholarly establishment.

According to the conventional view, Hitler’s perfidious attack abruptly forced a neutral and aloof Soviet Russia into war. This view further holds that a surprised Stalin had naively trusted the deceitful German Führer. Rejecting this view as political propaganda, Suvorov shows Stalin’s personal responsibility for the war’s outbreak and progression. Above all, this book details the vast Soviet preparations for an invasion of Europe in the summer of 1941 with the goal of Sovietizing central and western Europe. Suvorov is not alone in his view. It is also affirmed by a number of non-Russian historians, such as American scholar R. H. S. Stolfi in his 1991 study Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted (reviewed by me in the Nov.-Dec. 1995 Journal).

In spite of rigid Soviet censorship, Suvorov has succeeded in digging up many nuggets of valuable information from publicly available Soviet writings that confirm his central thesis. Icebreaker is based on the author’s meticulous scouring of such published sources as memoirs of wartime Soviet military leaders, and histories of individual Soviet divisions, corps, armies, fleets, and air units.

‘Second Imperialist War’

A central tenet of Soviet ideology was that the Soviet Union, as the world’s first Marxist state and bulwark of “workers’ power,” would eventually liberate all of humanity from the yoke of capitalism and fascism (the “last resort of monopoly capitalism”). While Soviet leaders might disagree about the circumstances and timing of this process of global liberation, none doubted the importance of this objective. As Suvorov notes:

“For Lenin, as for Marx, world revolution remained the guiding star, and he did not lose sight of this goal. But according to the minimum program, the First World War would only facilitate a revolution in one country. How, then, would the world revolution take place thereafter? Lenin gave a clear-cut answer to this question in 1916: as a result of the second imperialist war …”

Initially the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” was made up of only a handful of constituent republics. Lenin and the other Soviet leaders intended that more republics would be added to the USSR until it encompassed the entire globe. Thus, writes Suvorov, “the declaration accompanying the formation of the USSR was a clear and direct declaration of war on the rest of the world.”

Hitler understood this much better than did the leaders of Britain, France or the United States. During a conversation in 1937 with Lord Halifax, one of Britain’s most important officials, he said: “In the event of a general war [in Europe], only one country can win. That country is the Soviet Union.” In Icebreaker, Suvorov explains how in 1939 Stalin exploited the long-simmering dispute between Germany and Poland over Danzig and the “Polish Corridor” to provoke a “second imperialist war” that would enormously expand the Soviet empire.

Stalin anticipated a drawn-out war of attrition in which Germany, France and Britain would exhaust themselves in a devastating conflict that would also spark Communist uprisings across Europe. And as the Soviet premier expected, “Icebreaker” Germany did indeed break up the established order in Europe. But along with nearly everyone else outside of Germany, he was astonished by the speed and thoroughness with which Hitler subdued not only Poland, but also France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia and Greece. Dashing Kremlin expectations that a “second imperialist war” would quickly usher in a Soviet Europe, by July 1940 Hitler was effectively master of the continent.

Soviet Preparations

The Soviet armies of the First Strategic Echelon were deployed in mid-1941 to strike against Europe. Another seven armies in the rear were making their way to the frontier in preparation for the massive Soviet offensive.
The Soviet 9th Army was concentrated not on the German border, but on the frontier with Romania. A 9th Army strike at Romania would quickly seize Germany’s most important source of oil.
Two Soviet mountain armies were set to help cut off Germany’s oil “jugular” and prevent the movement of German forces into Romania.
Deployment sites of the “first wave” Soviet airborne corps. Another five airborne corps were secretly being organized deep inside the Soviet Union.

Throughout history, every army has had a basic mission, one that requires corresponding preparations. An army whose mission is basically defensive is accordingly trained and equipped for defensive war. It heavily fortifies the country’s frontier areas, and employs its units in echeloned depth. It builds defensive emplacements and obstacles, lays extensive minefields, and digs tank traps and ditches. Military vehicles, aircraft, weapons and equipment suitable for defending the country are designed, produced and supplied. Officers and troops are trained in defense tactics and counter-offensive operations.

An army whose mission is aggressive war acts very differently. Officers and troops are trained for offensive operations. They are supplied with weapons and equipment designed for attack, and the frontier area is prepared accordingly. Troops and their materiel are massed close to the frontier, obstacles are removed, and minefields are cleared. Maps of the areas to be invaded are issued to officers, and the troops are briefed on terrain problems, how to deal with the population to be conquered, and so forth.

Carefully examining the equipping, training and deployment of Soviet forces, as well as the numbers and strengths of Soviet weaponry, vehicles, supplies and aircraft, Suvorov establishes in great detail that the Red Army was organized and deployed in the summer of 1941 for attack, not defense.

Peculiar Tanks

Germany entered war in 1939 with 3,195 tanks. As Suvorov points out, this was fewer than a single Soviet factory in Kharkov, operating on a “peacetime” basis, was turning out every six months.

By 1941 everyone recognized the tank as the primary weapon of an army of attack in a European land war. During this period, Suvorov shows, the Soviets were producing large quantities of the well armed “Mark BT” tank, predecessor of the famed T34 model. “BT” were the initials for the Russian words “high speed tank.” The first of this series had a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour, impressive even by today’s standards. But as Suvorov goes on to note, this weapon had a peculiarity:

“Having said so many positive things about the numbers and quality of Soviet tanks, one must note one minor drawback. It was impossible to use these tanks on Soviet territory …Mark BT tanks could only be used in an aggressive war, only in the rear of the enemy and only in a swift offensive operation, in which masses of tanks suddenly burst into enemy territory …

“The Mark BT tanks were quite powerless on Soviet territory. When Hitler began Operation Barbarossa, practically all the Mark BT tanks were cast aside. It was almost impossible to use them off the roads, even with caterpillar tracks. They were never used on wheels. The potential of these tanks was never realized, but it certainly could never have been realized on Soviet territory. The Mark BT was created to operate on foreign territory only and, what is more, only on territory where there were good roads …

“To the question, where could the enormous potential of these Mark BT tanks be successfully realized, there is only one answer: in central and southern Europe. The only territories where tanks could be used, after their caterpillar tracks were removed, were Germany, France and Belgium … Caterpillar tracks are only a means for reaching foreign territory. For instance, Poland could be crossed on caterpillar tracks which, once the German autobahns had been reached, could then be discarded in favor of wheels, on which operations would then proceed …

“It is said that Stalin’s tanks were not ready for war. That was not so. They were not ready for a defensive war on their own territory. They were, however, designed to wage war on others.”

Airborne Assault Corps

The Soviet KT (A-40) winged tank. Upon landing, the wings and tail were quickly detached, making the tank immediately ready for battle. Suited only for offensive warfare, this remarkable weapon was rendered useless by Hitler’s “Barbarossa” attack.

Similarly designed for offensive war are paratroops. This most aggressive form of infantry is employed primarily as an invasion force. Germany formed its first airborne assault units in 1936, and by 1939 had 4,000 paratroops.

And the USSR? Suvorov explains: “By the beginning of the war [1939], the Soviet Union had more than one million trained paratroopers — 200 times more than all other countries in the world put together, including Germany…. It is quite impossible to use paratroopers in such massive numbers in a defensive war…. No country in history, or indeed all countries in the world put together, including the Soviet Union, has ever had so many paratroopers and air assault landing sub-units as Stalin had in 1941.”

As part of the planned invasion, in early 1940 orders were given for large-scale construction of airborne assault gliders, which were produced in mass quantity from the spring of 1941 onward. The Soviets also designed and built the remarkable KT “winged tank.” After landing, its wings and tailpiece were discarded, making the KT instantly ready for combat. The author also describes a variety of other offense-oriented units and weapons, and their deployment in June 1941 in areas and jumping-off points right on the frontiers with Germany and Romania. All these weapons of offensive war became instantly useless following the Barbarossa attack, when the Soviets
suddenly required defensive weapons.

Suvorov tells of a secret meeting in December 1940 attended by Stalin and other Politburo members at which General Pavel Rychagov, deputy defense minister and commander of the Soviet air force, discussed the details of “special operations in the initial period of war.” He spoke of the necessity of keeping the air force’s preparations secret in order to “catch the whole of the enemy air force on the ground.” Suvorov comments:

‘It is quite obvious that it is not possible to ‘catch the whole of the enemy air force on the ground’ in time of war. It is only possible to do so in peacetime, when the enemy does not suspect the danger.

“Stalin created so many airborne troops that they could only be used in one situation: after a surprise attack by the Soviet air force on the airfields of the enemy. It would be simply impossible to use hundreds of thousands of airborne troops and thousands of transport aircraft and gliders in any other situation.”

Suvorov also reports on the dismantling in June 1941 of the Soviet frontier defense systems, and the deployment there of masses of troops and armor poised for westward attack.

Stalin Preempted

During the period just prior to the planned Soviet invasion, the USSR’s western military districts were ordered to deploy all 114 divisions, then stationed in the interior, to positions on the frontier. Thus, remarks Suvorov, June 13, 1941, “marks the beginning of the greatest displacement of troops in the history of civilization.”

Such a massive buildup of forces directly on the frontier simply could not be kept secret. As Suvorov notes, Wilhelm Keitel, Field Marshal and Chief of Germany’s armed forces High Command, spoke about the German fears during a postwar interrogation:

“All the preparatory measures we took before spring 1941 were defensive measures against the contingency of a possible attack by the Red Army. Thus the entire war in the East, to a known degree, may be termed a preventive war … We decided … to forestall an attack by Soviet Russia and to destroy its armed forces with a surprise attack. By spring 1941, I had formed the definite opinion that the heavy buildup of Russian troops, and their attack on Germany which would follow, would place us, in both economic and strategic terms, in an exceptionally critical situation … Our attack was the immediate consequence of this threat …”

In 1941, Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov was the Soviet Navy minister, as well as a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. In his postwar memoirs, published in 1966, he recalled:

“For me there is one thing beyond all argument — J. V. Stalin not only did not exclude the possibility of war with Hitler’s Germany, on the contrary, he considered such a war … inevitable … J. V. Stalin made preparations for war … wide and varied preparations — beginning on dates … which he himself had selected. Hitler upset his calculations.”

Suvorov comments:

In early 1941 the Soviet Union had vastly more paratroops than all other countries combined. Parachutists, by their nature, can only be used in offensive operations.

“The admiral is telling us quite clearly and openly that Stalin considered war inevitable and prepared himself seriously to enter it at a time of his own choosing. In other words, Stalin was preparing to strike the first blow, that is to commit aggression against Germany; but Hitler dealt a preventive blow first and thereby frustrated all Stalin’s plans …

“Let us compare Keitel’s words with those of Kuznetsov. Field Marshal Keitel said that Germany was not preparing an aggression against the Soviet Union; it was the Soviet Union which was preparing the aggression. Germany was simply using a preventive attack to defend itself from an unavoidable aggression. Kuznetsov says the same thing — yes, the Soviet Union was preparing for war and would inevitably have entered into it, but Hitler disrupted these plans with his attack. What I cannot understand is why Keitel was hanged [at Nuremberg], and Kuznetsov was not.”

Suvorov believes that Hitler’s preemptive strike came just two or three weeks before Stalin’s own planned assault. Thus, as Wehrmacht forces smashed Soviet formations in the initial weeks of the “Barbarossa” attack, the Germans marveled at the great numbers of Soviet tanks and other materiel destroyed or captured — an enormous buildup sufficient not just for an assault on Germany, but for the conquest of all of Europe. Suvorov writes

“Hitler decided that it was not worth his while waiting any longer. He was the first to go, without waiting for the blow of the ‘liberating’ dagger to stab him in the back. He had begun the war in the most favorable conditions which could possibly have existed for an aggressor; but given the nature of Stalin’s grand plan, he could never have won it. Even in the most unfavorable conditions, the Red Army was able to ‘liberate’ half of Europe …”

These Soviet tanks, with removable caterpillar tracks, were designed for use on German roads and highways. So equipped, they were of little use on Soviet territory, where few roads were paved.

As devastating as it was, Hitler’s assault was not fatal. It came too late to be successful. “Even the Wehrmacht’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union could no longer save Hitler and his empire,” Suvorov writes. “Hitler understood where the greatest danger was coming from, but it was already too late.” With great effort, the Soviets were able to recover from the shattering blow. Stalin succeeded in forming new armies to replace those lost in the second half of 1941.

As Suvorov repeatedly points out, the widely accepted image of World War II, and particularly of the roles of Stalin and Hitler in the conflict, simply does not accord with reality:

“In the end … Poland, for whose liberty the West had gone to war, ended up with none at all. On the contrary, she was handed over to Stalin, along with the whole of Eastern Europe, including a part of Germany. Even so, there are some people in the West who continue to believe that the West won the Second World War.

“… Stalin became the absolute ruler of a vast empire hostile to the West, which had been created with the help of the West. For all that, Stalin was able to preserve his reputation as naive and trusting, while Hitler went down in history as the ultimate aggressor. A multitude of books have been published in the West based on the idea that Stalin was not ready for war while Hitler was.”

A Soviet Europe?

An intriguing historical “what if” is to speculate on the fate of Europe if Stalin, and not Hitler, had struck first. For example, a less rapidly successful German campaign in the Balkans in the spring of 1941 could have forced the postponement of Barbarossa by several weeks, which would have enabled Stalin to strike the first blow.

Could German forces have withstood an all-out Soviet assault, with tens of thousands of Soviet tanks and a million paratroopers? With the advantage of striking first, how quickly could Stalin have reached Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Madrid? Suvorov writes:

“It would be a mistake to underestimate the enormous strength and vast resources of Stalin’s war machine. Despite its grievous losses, it had enough strength to withdraw and gather new strength to reach Berlin. How far would it have gone had it not sustained that massive blow on 22 June, if hundreds of aircraft and thousands of tanks had not been lost, had it been the Red Army and not the Wehrmacht which struck the first blow? Did the German Army have the territorial expanse behind it for withdrawal? Did it have the inexhaustible human resources, and the time, to restore its army after the first Soviet surprise attack?”

Partially answering his own question, Suvorov states: “If Hitler had decided to launch Operation Barbarossa a few weeks later, the Red Army would have reached Berlin much earlier than 1945.”

Suvorov even presents a hypothetical scenario of a Soviet invasion and occupation of Europe, replete with Stalinist terror and oppression:

By mid-June 1941, Stalin had concentrated enormous Red Army forces on the western Soviet border, poised for a devastating attack against Europe. This diagram appeared in the English-language edition of the German wartime illustrated magazine “Signal.”

“The [Soviet] troops meet endless columns of prisoners. Dust rises on the horizon. There they are, the oppressors of the people — shopkeepers, bourgeois doctors and architects, farmers and bank employees. The Chekists’ [NKVD] work will be hard. Prisoners are cursorily interrogated at every stopping place. Then the NKVD investigates each one in detail, and establishes the degree of his guilt before the working people. But by now it has become necessary to expose the most dangerous of the millions of prisoners: the former Social Democrats, pacifists, socialists and National Socialists, former officers, policemen and ministers of religion.

“Millions of prisoners have to be sent far away to the east and the north, in order to give them the opportunity, through honest labor, to expiate their guilt before the people …”

In Suvorov’s scenario, a camp called Auschwitz is captured early on by the advancing Soviets. In response to the question, “Well, what was it like in Auschwitz, pal?,” a Red Army man replies: “‘Nothing much, really’ The worldly-wise soldier in his black jacket shrugs his shoulders. ‘Just like at home. Only their climate is better’.”

Actually, “what if” historical speculation is normally uncertain because key factors are often simply imponderable. In this case, one such factor is Soviet morale. While it is certainly true that Soviet troops fought bravely and tenaciously in 1941-1943 defending their home territory, they may not have fought with the same fervor and morale in an invasion of Europe. The tenacity and endurance shown by Red Army troops in Hungary and Germany in 1944 and 1945 is not necessarily indicative, because these soldiers were bitterly mindful of more than two years of savage fighting against the invaders, and of stern occupation, on their home territory.

Another imponderable is the response of Britain and the United States to an all-out Soviet invasion of Europe. If Soviet forces had struck westward in July 1941, would Britain and the United States have sided with Stalin and the USSR, or would they have sided with Hitler and Germany, Italy, France, Romania, Finland, Hungary, Denmark, and the rest of Europe? Or would Roosevelt and Churchill have decided to remain aloof from the great conflict?

Anyway, when Hitler did launch his preemptive strike against Soviet Russia, Roosevelt and Churchill immediately sided with Stalin, and when the Red Army took half of Europe in 1944-45, neither the British nor the American leader objected.

What can now be stated with certainty — thanks to the work of Suvorov and other revisionist historians — is that in smashing the great Soviet military buildup in 1941, Hitler dashed Stalin’s plan to quickly conquer Europe, and that, in spite of his defeat in 1945, Hitler saved at least the western half of Europe, and tens of millions of people, from the horrors of Soviet subjugation.