Archive | November 23rd, 2010

RATTLING THE CAGE: FACE OF ISRAEL IN A WEST BANK COURTROOM

NOVANEWS

Dear All,

I missed this item below, which fits in with the initial 5 items that I forwarded a few minutes ago.  Was surprised to find it in the Jerusalem Post, which is not a particularly liberal paper.  But, there it is.

Dorothy

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Jerusalem Post

November 22, 2010    

 Photo by: AP

 

 Rattling The Cage: Face of Israel in a West Bank courtroom 

 

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=196367&newsletter=231110&utm_source=Pulseem&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Jpost_Newsletter_23/11

 

By LARRY DERFNER

22/11/2010  

 

Here’s a look at justice for Palestinians in the only democracy in the Middle East. 

This was justice as I’d never seen it, as very, very few Israelis have seen it.

The judge was an IDF officer in a light-green uniform and knitted kippa. The prosecutor was an IDF officer in a light-green uniform, no kippa. The defendant was a Palestinian in a brown prison jumpsuit. This was last Thursday afternoon in a bungalow that serves as military appeals court on the grounds of Ofer Prison, the towering, concretewalled monstrosity on Route 443 between Modi’in and Jerusalem. Ofer is Israel’s prison in the West Bank for Palestinians.

The defendant was Abdallah Abu Rahmah, 39, a high school teacher and organizer of the best known of the “demonstrations against the wall,” the ones that have been taking place for years every Friday afternoon in the village of Bil’in.

 

Here’s justice for Palestinians in military appeals court: Abu Rahmah was due to be released from prison on Thursday after serving nearly a year – but the IDF didn’t want to let him out. The IDF didn’t think his sentence had been long enough and was appealing for a longer one, and meanwhile wanted him kept in prison until the appeal was heard and decided, which would take months and could, by law, take as long as two years.

 

You would think that if a guy’s served his time, he should go free. Not if you’re a Palestinian in Israeli military appeals court. The army prosecutor argued that Abu Rahmah was a “flight risk” even though his defense attorney pointed out that he’d always shown up for questioning and hearings in the past, when he was a free man.

 

The prosecutor argued that if Abu Rahmah were let go, he would return to his criminal activity. “There’s no reason to think that his ideology has changed, that his determination has changed. He expresses no remorse for his actions,” the prosecutor declared. The judge said he hoped to give his decision at the beginning of this week.

 

I asked Gaby Lasky, who represents scores of “anti-wall” protesters in military court, if she expected the judge to keep Abu Rahmah in prison like the prosecution wanted. “Of course,” she said.

 

Monday afternoon the judge’s decision proved her right.

 

Another wrinkle in Israeli justice for Palestinians is that Abu Rahmah’s wife and children, who live in Ramallah, weren’t in court on Thursday; the IDF didn’t let them through the checkpoint. Furthermore, they’ve only been allowed to visit him in prison once or twice in the last year, Lasky said, because even though the prison is in the West Bank, they need a permit to enter “Israel proper” to go there, and Palestinians whose spouses are in prison cannot get a permit to enter Israel proper.

 

Arguing for her client’s release, Lasky noted that his one-and-a-half-year-old son doesn’t know him. That made the judge’s eyebrows go up. “The child is one-and-a-half-years-old and the defendant has only been in prison for about a year,” the judge pointed out. “Yes, the baby did live with his father until he was six months old,” Lasky acknowledged.

 

SO WHAT was the remorseless Abu Rahmah convicted of? Organizing illegal demonstrations and incitement. (Originally, he was also charged with stone-throwing and possession of arms – piles of spent IDF bullet cartridges and tear gas canisters he’d collected from the ground in Bil’in for an exhibit – but was acquitted on those two counts.)

 

It seems pretty obvious that Abu Rahmah was guilty of organizing illegal demonstrations – the Palestinian, Israeli and “international” activists march from the village mosque to the security fence every Friday afternoon, an IDF officer with a bullhorn calls out, “This is a closed military zone; this is an illegal demonstration,” and the marchers keep coming, so the verdict on this charge would seem pretty simple. If the army says a demonstration is illegal, then demonstrating is a crime – certainly in military court.

 

As for incitement, the prosecution says Abu Rahmah told boys in the village to throw stones at the soldiers. According to Lasky, the army got this testimony from some boys after raiding Bil’in in the middle of the night, “blindfolding and handcuffing them and taking them to a military base without their parents, without a lawyer, keeping them there for hours, not letting them sleep, not letting them go to the bathroom. Then the army took them to the police for more interrogation.”

 

That must have been quite an experience. Tens upon tens of thousands of Palestinians can describe it. Or you can read a B’Tselem report. Ask yourself: What would you do if soldiers forcibly came into your home in the middle of the night, blindfolded and handcuffed your teenage son, drove him off for interrogation and ordered you to stay inside? Now hurry up and explain to yourself why that’s a silly question.

 

As to whether Abu Rahmah told some boys in Bil’in to throw stones at soldiers during the Friday protests, who knows? Considering that the fence divides villagers from their land, considering what IDF soldiers do to Palestinian protesters and considering that the West Bank has been under hostile Israeli rule for 43 years, why should anybody be shocked that the boys throw stones?

 

“I was with Bassem right after he was shot, when they were taking him in the car to the hospital in Ramallah,” says Ilan Shalif, a retired Tel Aviv psychologist and a regular at the Bil’in protests. He is speaking of Bassem Abu Rahmah, 31 (a member of the same extended family as Abdallah), killed by a tear gas canister to the chest in April 2009.

 

“He was the only protester to get killed at Bil’in, but people have been shot and wounded endless times,” says Shalif.

 

While Bil’in is the most famous “antiwall” protest site, demonstrations against the security fence by Palestinians who’ve lost their land to it have been going on at various West Bank villages for seven years. In that time, 20 Palestinians have been killed by IDF soldiers, according to B’Tselem.

 

Jonathan Pollak, the lead Israeli activist in the protests, says he’s witnessed some of these killings, including the last one, of Aqel Srour, 36, during a June 2009 protest in the village of Na’alin.

 

“That day five protesters, Palestinians, were hit with live ammunition by Border Police snipers,” he says. “The snipers were behind an old well, I was standing about 50 meters from Aqel, and I heard shots. I saw Aqel holding his chest, then he fell to the ground. He had a tiny bullet hole in his chest. We put him on a stretcher and started running to the ambulance, but soon he was foaming at the mouth and his eyes glazed over. I yelled to him, ‘Aqel, talk to us!’ but he was gone,” says Pollak, who suffered two brain hemorrhages in 2005 when a tear gas canister hit him in the temple from short range, and who’s been injured dozens of times by rubber bullets.

 

On Thursday in military appeals court on Route 443, Abdallah Abu Rahmah sat placidly through the proceeding before he was led back to prison. “He expresses no remorse for his actions,” said the army prosecutor.

 

Meanwhile, in the only democracy in the Middle East, the fight for our legitimacy, for our very survival, goes on. 

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LEBANON: IN DEFENCE OF ELITISM

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In defence of elitism: the American University of Beirut

22 Nov 2010

By Karl Sharro

Published with permission from Karlremarks

I was amused to read this philistine attack on the American University of Beirut by Jana Nakhal in Al-Akhbar newspaper, The AUB and Beirut: One Side Love. Nakhal, ‘an urban-planning engineer’ (sic), subjects the AUB to a shrill anti-colonial examination uncovering it in the process as an ‘accelerating factor in the popular acceptance of colonial ideas, tastes and concepts’. (Presumably things like engineering, medicine and architecture which colonialism forced us to accept).

Nakhal is upset that the AUB seems to be cut-off from its urban context and is not interested in having any meaningful interaction with the areas that surround it. Its students apparently impose their tastes on the areas around and ‘take nothing in return’. The proof? None of the students pick up the distinctive local accent of the area! The irony of course is when the AUB was established in 1866, the neighbourhoods around did not even exist. The construction of the university campus in what was then a forested area sparked off the urban development of the neighbouring areas.

The wall that surrounds the campus irks Nakhal, it is a physical barrier between the university and the city but, aside from security, the wall has an important symbolic role. It marks a space that is dedicated for learning and the pursuit of knowledge and one in which a different set of rules apply. This separation does not imply lack of concern for the preoccupations of the city dwellers but it creates a distance necessary for critical examination.

Higher education thrives on challenging students’ assumptions and worldviews and on providing them with the critical tools to develop their own thinking and ideas. The contemporary obsession with relevance self-reinforcement is patronising and ultimately counter-productive. Nakhal is echoing not only this contemporary bias but also a certain mindset in Lebanon and the Arab world that is deeply suspicious of ‘alien’ ideas. This rhetoric has traditionally relied on pseudo-Marxist and anti-colonial ideas to justify the insecurity brought about by exposure to modernity at the end of Ottoman rule.

I was not surprised then that Nakhal quoted Frantz Fanon to expose the AUB as the guardian of imperial values: ‘The colonial-bourgeois thinkers in universities persistently uphold essential Western values’. I am not quite sure what those values are, but I think she might be talking about Western concepts like gravity and the laws of thermo-dynamics. They always sounded suspiciously ethno-centric to me. It’s also amusing to hear the resonance of Radio Moscow in the mindless repetition of words like ‘bourgeois’ and ‘colonial’, but let’s not forget that Al-Akhbar’s dedication to the cause of international revolution dictates certain stylistic preferences.

But why the AUB and why now? Why subject the most successful academic institution in Lebanon to this rabid attack? The AUB throve despite severely adverse conditions because of its independence and its dedication to excellence and academic rigour. It works precisely because it was not swallowed up by the Lebanese system and because it managed to fend off the intrusions of the Lebanese ‘groups’ and their lumpish presence. It is elitist in the best sense of the word, creating a space for critical thinking and debate that thousands have enjoyed and benefited from.

Back in the early 90s when I was a student at the AUB, I had to watch the sad spectacle of the great historian Kamal Salibi being rudely forced out of his class by an Amal movement ‘operative’ who was a constant presence on campus. That, and the many assassination and kidnappings that took place on campus, was the consequence of subjecting the AUB to the power of the Lebanese ‘people’ or the thugs that represent them at any rate. Salibi’s fault was that he wasn’t sufficiently moved by whatever grievance that Amal deemed we must all commemorate to stop his class.

But Nakhal seems to be oblivious to this troubled history; if the AUB doesn’t embrace Uncle Deek then it’s committing a sin against our folk. She is particularly affronted that an AUB student mispronounces ‘keshek’, that staple of Lebanese diet that embodies our identity and our customs. I was reminded of the diatribe at the end of Ziad Rahbani’s Shi Fashel in which the folklore creature chides the Lebanese for their sentimental attachment to their traditions and rejection of modernity. Ziad’s sentiments are of course unapologetic: he is against the backwardness represented by this sentimental attachment to our rural past.

Three decades later, Nakhal wants us to embrace this backward heritage and undermine the independence of our greatest seat of learning. Time to celebrate the keshek.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on LEBANON: IN DEFENCE OF ELITISM

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Lieberman: ‘Crazy’ North Korean regime must be stopped

 

‘Enormous retaliation to come if N.Korea attacks again,’ says South Korean President; US, Russia, China condemn attack that left 2 marines dead.

North Korea’s bombardment of a South Korean Island, which left two dead and thirteen wounded, shows that it is “necessary today, more than in the past, to stop and to topple this crazy regime, and to stop their proliferation and provocations,” Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman said at a Jerusalem press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Lieberman, with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, said North Korea is part of an axis of evil that includes Syria and Iran, and that there is close cooperation between them in the sphere of nuclear and missile technology.

“I think that North Korea is, as we see, a threat not only for their part of the world, but also for the Middle East and the entire world,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman said that a “bad message” is being sent. If the international community “cannot stop, cannot suffocate this crazy regime,” then how could it deal with Iran, he asked.

Frattini said, “We should all condemn this North Korean attack.”

Seoul will unleash an “enormous retaliation” should North Korea attack again, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday following the attack.

The UN Security Council also announced it would be holding an emergency session in the wake of the incident.

The United States added its voice to the strong reactions, calling on North Korea to “halt its belligerent action,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in Washington. He reaffirmed that the US is “firmly committed” to South Korea’s defense, and to the “maintenance of regional peace and stability.”

North Korea bombarded the South Korean island near their disputed western border with artillery, setting buildings ablaze and killing at two soldiers after warning the South to halt military drills in the area, South Korean officials said.

South Korea said it returned fire and scrambled fighter jets in response, and said the “inhumane” attack on civilian areas violated the 1953 armistice halting the Korean War. The two sides technically remain at war because a peace treaty was never negotiated.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered his government to “Make preparations so that we can react firmly, should any unexpected event occur,” he announced at a press conference Tuesday. He added, “I ordered them to do their utmost to gather information.”

China, which is the North’s economic and political benefactor while maintaining robust commercial ties with the South, called for calm.

“We express our concern over the situation. The situation is to be verified,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regularly scheduled media briefing in Beijing. He called on both Koreas without naming them “to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula.”

Russia also issued a response to the escalating situation. A foreign ministry said, “It’s important that this does not lead to an aggravation of the situation on the Korean peninsula,” AFP reported.

Britain also condemned the “unprovoked” North Korean attack Tuesday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The UK strongly condemns North Korea’s unprovoked attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.” He added, “Such unprovoked attacks will only lead to further tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

The German foreign minister also issued a condemnation of the attack.

The skirmish came amid high tension over North Korea’s claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility and just six weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il unveiled his youngest son Kim Jong Un as his heir apparent.

The North’s artillery struck the small South Korean-held island of Yeonpyeong, which houses military installations and a small civilian population and which has been the focus of two previous deadly battles between the Koreas.

Two South Korean marines were killed, three were seriously wounded and 10 slightly wounded, a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said. Island residents were escaping to about 20 shelters in the island while sporadic shelling continued, the military official said.

The firing came during South Korean military drills in the area. North Korea’s military had sent a message to South Korea’s armed forces early Tuesday to demand that the drills stop, but the South continued them, another military official said. North Korea said that the drills were the cause of the escalation.

During the drills, South Korean marines on the island shot artillery toward southern waters, away from North Korea, the official said.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing military rules.

The North’s premeditated bombardments struck civilian areas and were “inhumane atrocities,” military official Lee Hong-ki said. There are about 30 small islands around the Yeonpyeong, and tension runs high in the area because of its proximity to North Korea. Yeonpyeong is known for its crab fishing.

After the North’s barrages, South Korea responded by firing K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers, military officials said, but declined to say whether North Korean territory was hit.

YTN TV said several houses on Yeonpyeong were on fire and that shells were still falling on the island, which is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of the coast. The station broadcast pictures of thick columns of black smoke rising from the island, which has a population of 1,200 to 1,300. Screams and chaotic shouts could be heard on the video.

The existence of North Korea’s new uranium enrichment facility came to light over the weekend after Pyongyang showed it to a visiting American nuclear scientist, claiming that the highly sophisticated operation had 2,000 completed centrifuges. Top US military officials warn that it could speed the North’s ability to make and deliver viable nuclear weapons.

The military tensions between the two Koreas also comes amid a visit to the region by US special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth. He held talks with South Korean officials Monday and was also scheduled to meet officials in China.

Elior Chen in court.

Elior Chen disciples charged with up to 20 years in prison

Four men tortured children, feeding them feces and locking them in suitcases; one has been in a coma since 2008 after severe beating.

David Kugman, 24, one of Elior Chen’s four disciples, was charged with 20 years in prison on Tuesday for severely abusing a Jerusalem woman’s children. Two others, Avraham Maksalchi and Shimon Gabai, will spend 17 years in prison.

The Jerusalem District Court charged Kugman, Maksalchi and Gabai with shaking children, handcuffing them, feeding them feces, starving them and locking them in suitcases. In one case, Kugman tied a child to an electric oven, and did not move him until his skin began to peel. He then poured alcohol and salt on the child’s wounds. Maksalchi tortured children with hammers and suffocated them using scotch-tape.

Of all the incidents included in the indictment, the most severe was perpetrated by Kugman on March 12, 2008, not long before the affair was uncovered.

According to the indictment, Kugman entered the room of A., the youngest of the children, at 5 a.m., when the child was still asleep. He “stood him up on his legs and began beating him with force, punching him many times in his face and head, as he had been accustomed to doing throughout the period covered by the indictment. At some point, A. collapsed in Kugman’s arms and lost consciousness.”

The child has remained in a coma ever since.

Another disciple, Ro’i Tzoref, was charged with two and a half years, because he played a smaller role in the acts, having left Chen’s yeshiva in 2007.

The judge presiding over the case said that the disciples “challenged the basic understanding that children need to be protected.”

The children’s mother divorced their father in 2007 and married Chen, even though he was already married. The abuse of the children began while she still lived in her own house, but became much more severe after January 2008, when she moved with her children to Chen’s home in Betar Illit.

Chen is standing trial separately, and the mother, identified as M., has already been tried, convicted and sentenced with five years in prison for her part in the affair. She is due to appear as a state’s witness in Chen’s trial

Followers of Israeli ‘rabbi’ accused of child abuse sentenced for complicity

The four were convicted of severely abusing eight children under Chen’s orders two years ago; one of the children remains unconscious to this day.

Jerusalem District Court sentenced Tuesday four disciples of self proclaimed Rabbi Elior Chen to lengthy prison sentences, after they were convicted of child abuse earlier this year.

 

Elior Chen and (from left): Shimon Gabai, David Kugman and Avraham Mascalchi

Elior Chen, second from right, with three of his followers (from left): Shimon Gabai, David Kugman and Avraham Mascalchi.

Photo by: Reproduction

The four were convicted in February of severely abusing eight children. David Kugman- the central defendant in the case – was sentenced to 20 years in jail; Avraham Mascalchi and Shimon Gabai were sentenced to 17 years in prison, and Ro’i Tzoref was sentenced to 30 months in prison after the court ruled that he played a minor part in the abuse.

The child abuse affair was uncovered two years ago, when a child Chen had been treating was taken to the hospital unconscious. Once the story became public, Chen fled to Brazil, which extradited him back to Israel. He is now on trial at the Jerusalem District Court.

Chen, who called himself a rabbi, told his disciples the abuse was necessary to “purify” the children, all members of one family. As a result, the children were severely beaten, burned, locked in suitcases and forced to eat their own feces, among other acts; one child remains in a coma to this day as a result.

In her ruling, Judge Nava Ben-Or called the case “incomprehensible,” adding that Israel has never before known anything like it.

For instance, Mascalchi, 25, was convicted of burning the fingers of one child, taping his mouth shut, stuffing him into a suitcase and leaving him there for some time. Kugman, 24, was convicted of tying up the children and then beating them. He also held one child to an electric heater, causing burns so severe that the child needed a skin transplant.

Two of the four defendants denied all the charges against them. The other two admitted to some, but claimed that they were helpless under Chen’s “magical” influence.

The mother of the eight children, who remains unnamed, was sentenced in May to five years in prison after pleading guilty to shaking, burning and tying up her children.

Chen’s trial is currently taking place in Jerusalem.

Iran temporarily halts uranium enrichment at Natanz nuclear facility

Diplomats suspect shut-down due to technical problems resulting from computer worm.

Iran has temporarily ceased uranium production in its nuclear facility in Natanz, apparently due to a series of major technical problems.

Diplomats in Vienna said they had no specifics regarding why Iran had shut down production of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium. But suspicions focused on the Stuxnet worm, the computer virus thought to be aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, which experts last week identified as being calibrated to destroy centrifuges by sending them spinning out of control.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility in 2008.

Photo by: AP

Iran says its enrichment efforts are geared only to make nuclear fuel but the program has aroused international concerns because it can be re-engineered to produce uranium for nuclear warheads.

But, there have been hints that the program is beset by technical problems. Even a brief shutdown of the thousands of enriching machines would be the strongest documentation to date that the program – Iran’s nuclear cornerstone and a source of national pride – is in trouble.

The country has continued to enrich despite increasingly strict UN sanctions imposed in reaction to its nuclear defiance and has stockpiled enough material for more than two nuclear bombs should it chose to turn it into weapons-grade uranium.

Unease has been fed by Tehran’s refusal to accept nuclear fuel from abroad, the covert origins of its enrichment activities and stonewalling of efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to probe allegations that it tried to develop components of a nuclear weapons program.

Since being revealed eight years ago, Iran has expanded its enrichment activities to the point where it now runs about 8,500 centrifuges at Natanz in central Iran. But after initial rapid growth, Iranian enrichment capacity has stagnated in recent years. Tehran has taken hundreds of centrifuges off line over the past 18 months, prompting speculation of technical problems.

A U.N official close to the IAEA said a complete stop in Iran’s centrifuge operation would be unprecedented to his knowledge but declined to discuss specifics. He, like two like two senior diplomats from IAEA member countries who told the AP of the incident at Natanz, asked for anonymity because the information was confidential.

The three officials spoke on the eve of the planned release of a confidential IAEA update on Iran – the latest report by the Vienna-based agency to its 35-nation board on its attempts to get an overview of Tehran’s nuclear activities. The diplomats said it would again focus on Tehran’s refusal to heed UN Security Council demands to stop enrichment.

That report will come less than three weeks before planned talks between Iran and the world’s five powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – designed to reduce concerns about Tehran’s nuclear agenda.

Iran’s enrichment program has come under renewed focus with the conclusion of cyber experts and analysts that the Stuxnet worm that infected Iran’s nuclear program was designed to abruptly change the rotational speeds of motors such as ones used in centrifuges. Such sudden changes can crash centrifuges and damage them beyond repair.

No one has claimed to be behind Stuxnet, but some analysts have speculated that it originated in Israel.

Iran: Computer worm didn’t harm nuclear program

Stuxnet worm suspected to have caused technical problems, forcing shutdown of thousands of centrifuges used for enriching uranium.

Iran‘s nuclear chief says a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country’s atomic program.

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi says details about the virus became known only after Iran’s “enemies failed to achieve their goals.”

Salehi’s remarks on Tuesday came a day after diplomats told The Associated Press in Vienna that Iran’s nuclear program has suffered a recent setback, with major technical problems forcing the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium.

The diplomats said they had no specifics on the nature of the problem that in recent months led Iranian experts to briefly power down the machines they use for enrichment — a nuclear technology that has both civilian and military uses.

But suspicions focused on the Stuxnet worm, the computer virus thought to be aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, which experts last week identified as being calibrated to destroy centrifuges by sending them spinning out of control.

Iran says its enrichment efforts are geared only to make nuclear fuel but the program has aroused international concern because it can be re-engineered to produce uranium for nuclear warheads.

There have been hints that the program is beset by technical problems. Even a brief shutdown of the thousands of enriching machines would be the strongest documentation to date that the program — Iran’s nuclear cornerstone and a source of national pride — is in trouble.

Iran’s enrichment program has come under renewed focus with the conclusion of cyber experts and analysts that the Stuxnet worm that infected Iran’s nuclear program was designed to abruptly change the rotational speeds of motors such as ones used in centrifuges. Such sudden changes can crash centrifuges and damage them beyond repair.

No one has claimed to be behind Stuxnet, but some analysts have speculated that it originated in Israel.

Iran nuclear expert David Albright said it was impossible to say what would cause a disruption strong enough to idle the centrifuges but “Stuxnet would do just that.

Netanyahu to name new Mossad chief ‘in next few days’

PM to appoint replacement for veteran spymaster Meir Dagan, due to step down at the end of the year.

The race to lead the Mossad began in earnest on Tuesday as the Prime Minister’s Office announced it would name a replacement for current spy chief Meir Dagan in the coming days.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week came under media fire as some commentators accused him of stalling over the appointment, with time running out before Dagan’s term expires at the end of the year.

Meir Dagan- Tomer Appelbaum

Mossad chief Meir Dagan seems confident his term will be extended.

Photo by: Archive: Tomer Appelbaum

“The prime minister has been carrying out consultations and plans to announce his decision in the next few days,” Netanyahu’s bureau said in a statement.

Intense speculation has thrown up several names as possible candidates: Amos Yadlin, who this week completed his term as head of military intelligence, is thought a frontrunner, as is Yuval Diskin, due to step down as head of the Shin Bet security service in May.

Another contender is Dagan’s former deputy and head of operations, known to the public only as ‘T’. A long-serving Mossad offer, T recently left the organization on sabbatical – but resigned on his return when Dagan would refuse to designate him as his successor.

Early in his career, T served as the Mossad’s liaison with the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Sayaret Matkal commando unit, where he was a close confidant of Netanyahu’s brother Jonathan, who commanded the force until he was killed in Israel’s raid on a hijacked airliner at Entebbe in Uganda in 1976.

A fourth name to surface is Hagai Hadas, previously Dagan’s number three and now Netanyahu’s representative in negotiations to free Gilad Shalit, a soldier captured by Hamas militants in 2006.

Netanayhu is believed to be concerned that if a new Mossad chief is appointed from outside the service, several departmental heads could resign, and has recently held meetings with them in an apparent attempt to convince them to stay.

Mosul’s Muslims prevent terrorist attack on Christian family

NINEWA / Aswat al-Iraq: A Group of Iraqi Muslim people in northern Iraq’s Mosul city, have succeeded to prevent a group of terrorists from attacking a Christian family in Al-Bakr district, east of Mosul on Sunday, a Ninewa Province’s media source said on Monday.

“Ninewa’s Governor, Athel al-Nujeifi, was informed about the details of the incident of an attack against a Christian family in East Mosul’s al-Bakr district, during his visit to the area, which pointed out that (Muslim) citizens have deterred armed men and forced them to escape away from the district,” the source said.

He added that Ninewa Governor had “highly appreciated the attitude of the said people, who stood to the side of their Christian brothren and defended them, reaffirming Ninewa Province’s keenness to guarantee necessary protection for all minorities, including Christian brothren, reiterating necessity to protect Christians must also be by the people themselves, before the security bodies.”

Ninewa Province had witnessed several terrorist attacks against Christians, that claimed the lives of many of them, at a time when the security bodies had warned against any attempts to plant chaos and anarchy, through targetting Christians in Mosul, the capital of Ninewa.

In Baghdad, a number of Christian homes had been taret for several rocket and explosive charges attacks over the past few months, that killed and injured dozens of people and caused damage to many houses.

A group armed men had broken through the Lady of Salvation Chruch in central Baghdad’s Karrada district last month, took several worshippers hostage, followed by an attack by security forces to liberate the hostages, thing that killed 58 people, including 5 of the attackers and 7 security elements, whilst the other victims had been from the hostages.  The number of injured people had reached 75, including 15 army and police men.

Al-Qaeda Organization had announced responsibility for the attack on the Church, threatening to make Christians targets for fresh attacks.

Mosul, the center of north Iraq’s Ninewa Province, is 405 kms to the north of Baghdad.

 

US Intelligence Thwarted Attack on Iran

by Ray McGovern, consortiumnews.com

Why should George W. Bush have been “angry” to learn in late 2007 of the “high-confidence” unanimous judgment of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon four years earlier? Seems to me he might have said “Hot Dog!” rather than curse under his breath.

Nowhere in his memoir, Decision Points, is Bush’s bizarre relationship with truth so manifest as when he describes his dismay at learning that the intelligence community had redeemed itself for its lies about Iraq by preparing an honest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. As the Bush book makes abundantly clear, that NIE rammed an iron rod through the wheels of the juggernaut rolling toward war.

Nowhere is Bush’s abiding conviction clearer, now as then, that his role as “decider” includes the option to create his own reality.

The Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) has missed that part of the book. And hundreds of Dallas “sheriffs,” assembled to ensure decorum at the Bush library groundbreaking last week, kept us hoi polloi well out of presidential earshot.

But someone should ask Bush why he was not relieved, rather than angered, to learn from U.S. intelligence that Iran had had no active nuclear weapons program since 2003. And would someone dare ask why Bush thought Israel should have been “furious with the United States over the NIE”?

It seems likely that Bush actually dictated this part of the book himself. For, in setting down his reaction to the NIE on Iran, he unwittingly confirmed an insight that Dr. Justin Frank, M.D., who teaches psychiatry at George Washington University Hospital, gave us veteran intelligence officers into how Bush comes at reality – or doesn’t.

“His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth. … He lies – not just to us, but to himself as well. … What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt – for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him…. So his words mean nothing. That is very important for people to understand.” (See “Dangers of a Cornered Bush.”)

Not Enough Sycophants

When the NIE on Iran came out in late 2007, Bush may have pined for his sycophant-in-chief, former CIA Director George Tenet, and his co-conspirator deputy, John McLaughlin, who had shepherded the bogus Iraq-WMD analysis through the process in 2002 but had resigned in 2004 when their role in the deceptions became so obvious that it shamed even them.

Tenet and his CIA cronies had been expert at preparing estimates-to-go – to go to war, that is. They had proved themselves worthy rivals of the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, in cooking intelligence to the White House menu.

On Iraq, they had distinguished themselves by their willingness to conjure up “intelligence” that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller described as “uncorroborated, unconfirmed, and nonexistent” after a five-year review by his panel. (That finding was no news to any attentive observer, despite Herculean – and largely successful – efforts by the FCM to promote drinking the White House Kool-Aid.)

What is surprising in the case of Iran is the candor with which George W. Bush explains his chagrin at learning of the unanimous judgment of the intelligence community that Iran had not been working on a nuclear weapon since late 2003. (There is even new doubt about reports that the Iranians were working on a nuclear warhead before 2003. See “Iranian Nuke Documents May Be Fake.”)

The Estimate’s findings were certainly not what the Israelis and their neoconservative allies in Washington had been telling the White House – and not what President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were dutifully proclaiming to the rest of us.

Shocked at Honesty

Bush lets it all hang out in Decision Points. He complains bitterly that the NIE “tied my hands on the military side.” He notes that the Estimate opened with this “eye-popping” finding of the intelligence community:

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

The former president adds, “The NIE’s conclusion was so stunning that I felt it would immediately leak to the press.” He writes that he authorized declassification of the key findings “so that we could shape the news stories with the facts.” Facts?

The mind boggles at the thought that Bush actually thought the White House, even with de rigueur help from an ever obliging FCM, could put a positive spin on intelligence conclusions that let a meretricious cat out of the bag – that showed that the Bush administration’s case for war against Iran was as flimsy as its bogus case for invading Iraq.

How painful it was to watch the contortions the hapless Stephen Hadley, national security adviser at the time, went through in trying to square that circle. His task was the more difficult since, unlike the experience with the dishonestly edited/declassified version of what some refer to as the Whore of Babylon – the Oct. 1, 2002, NIE on WMD in Iraq, this time the managers of the Estimate made sure that the declassified version of the key judgments presented a faithful rendering of the main points in the classified Estimate.

A disappointed Bush writes, “The backlash was immediate. [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad hailed the NIE as a ‘great victory.’” Bush’s apparent “logic” here is to use the widespread disdain for Ahmadinejad to discredit the NIE through association, i.e., whatever Ahmadinejad praises must be false.

But can you blame Bush for his chagrin? Alas, the NIE had knocked out the props from under the anti-Iran propaganda machine, imported duty-free from Israel and tuned up by neoconservatives here at home.

How embarrassing. Here before the world were the key judgments of an NIE, the most authoritative genre of intelligence analysis, unanimously approved “with high confidence” by 16 agencies and signed by the Director of National Intelligence, saying, in effect, that Bush and Cheney were lying about the “Iranian nuclear threat.”

It is inconceivable that as the drafting of the Estimate on Iran proceeded during 2007, the intelligence community would have kept the White House in the dark about the emerging tenor of its conclusions. And yet, just a month before the Estimate was issued, Bush was claiming that the threat from Iran could lead to “World War III.”

The Russians More Honest?

Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin, unencumbered by special pleading and faux intelligence, had come to the same conclusions as the NIE.

Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in early October 2007:

“We don’t have information showing that Iran is striving to produce nuclear weapons. That’s why we’re proceeding on the basis that Iran does not have such plans.”

In a mocking tone, Putin asked what evidence the U.S. and France had for asserting that Iran intends to make nuclear weapons. And, adding insult to injury, during a visit to Tehran on Oct. 16, 2007, Putin warned: “Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility.”

This brought an interesting outburst by President Bush the next day at a press conference, a bizarre reaction complete with his famously tortured syntax:

Q. “Mr. President, I’d like to follow on Mr.–on President Putin’s visit to Tehran … about the words that Vladimir Putin said there. He issued a stern warning against potential U.S. military action against Tehran. … Were you disappointed with [Putin’s] message?”

Bush: “I – as I say, I look forward to – if those are, in fact, his comments, I look forward to having him clarify those. … And so I will visit with him about it.”

Q. “But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?”

Bush: “I think so long – until they suspend and/or make it clear that they – that their statements aren’t real, yes, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. And I know it’s in the world’s interest to prevent them from doing so. I believe that the Iranian – if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.

“But this is – we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding world war III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously, and we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.”

Can’t Handle the Truth

In his memoir, Bush laments: “I don’t know why the NIE was written the way it was. … Whatever the explanation, the NIE had a big impact – and not a good one.” Spelling out how the Estimate had tied his hands “on the military side,” Bush included this (apparently unedited) kicker:

“But after the NIE, how could I possible explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

Thankfully, not even Dick Cheney could persuade Bush to repair the juggernaut and let it loose for war on Iran. The avuncular vice president has made it clear that he was very disappointed in his protégé. On Aug. 30, 2009, he told Fox News Sunday that he was isolated among Bush advisers in his enthusiasm for war with Iran.

“I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues,” Cheney said when asked whether the Bush administration should have launched a pre-emptive attack on Iran before leaving office.

Bush briefed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the NIE was released. Bush later said publicly that he did not agree with his own intelligence agencies. (For more on the Bush memoir’s conflicts with the truth, see “George W. Bush: Dupe or Deceiver?”)

And it is entirely possible that the Iran-war juggernaut would have been repaired and turned loose anyway, were it not for strong opposition by the top military brass who convinced Bush that Cheney, his neocon friends and Olmert had no idea of the chaos that war with Iran would unleash.

There’s lots of evidence that this is precisely what Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and then-CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon told Bush, in no uncertain terms. And it is a safe bet that these two were among those hinting broadly to Bush that the NIE was likely to “leak,” if he did not himself make its key judgments public.

Whew!

What About Now?

The good news is that Cheney is gone and that Adm. Mullen is still around.

The bad news is that Adm. Fallon was sacked for making it explicitly clear that “We’re not going to do Iran on my watch,” and there are few flag officers with Fallon’s guts and honesty. Moreover, President Barack Obama continues to show himself to be an invertebrate vis-à-vis Israel and its neocon disciples.

Meanwhile, a draft NIE update on Iran’s nuclear program, completed earlier this year, is dead in its tracks, apparently because anti-Iran hawks inside the Obama administration are afraid it will leak. It is said to repeat pretty much the same conclusions as the NIE from 2007.

There are other ominous signs. The new director of national intelligence, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is a subscriber to the Tenet school of malleability. It was Clapper whom former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put in charge of imagery analysis to ensure that no one would cast serious doubt on all those neocon and Iraqi “defector” reports of WMD in Iraq.

And, when no WMD caches were found, it was Clapper who blithely suggested, without a shred of good evidence, that Saddam Hussein had sent them to Syria. This was a theory also being pushed by neocons both to deflect criticism of their false assurances about WMD in Iraq and to open a new military front against another Israeli nemesis, Syria.

In these circumstances, there may be some value in keeping the NIE update bottled up. At least that way, Clapper and other malleable managers won’t have the chance to play chef to another “cooked-to-order” analysis.

On the other hand, the neocons and our invertebrate president may well decide to order Clapper to “fix” the updated Estimate to fit in better with a policy of confrontation toward Iran. In that case, the new director of national intelligence might want to think twice. For Clapper could come a cropper. How?

The experience of 2007 showed that there are still some honest intelligence analysts around with integrity and guts – and with a strong aversion to managers who prostitute their work. This time around, such truth-tellers could opt for speedy, anonymous ways of getting the truth out – like, say, WikiLeaks.

This article appeared first on ConsortiumNews.com.

EU: Despite Promises, Israel Never Eased Gaza Blockade

 

Still Blocking Construction Materials, Exports

by Jason Ditz, www.antiwar.com

Israel has expressed outrage tonight following complaints from European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton that they had failed to live up to their commitments to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Israel grudgingly announced the easement of the blockade in the wake of the May attack on a Gaza bound aid ship, an attack which killed a number of aid workers. Despite the pledge successfully calming criticism of the blockade for a time, Israel kept the system largely in place, including blocking the UN from building schools in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein slammed the complaints, saying that Israel has done all they intend to do but that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” a claim which Israeli officials have been making since the blockade began.

Israel’s blockade has included a number of bizarre restrictions, including a blanket ban on chocolate and cardamom. Though Israel appears to have eased these bans somewhat, the more pressing issues of construction material, still banned after Israel destroyed half the strip in 2009, and a blanket ban on all exports, remain in place.

National Insecurity

American Jews haven’t stood up for Jonathan Pollard. That might finally be changing.

 

–Editor’s note–Whenever anyone of the “gentile persuasion” suggests that Jews (by nature of the rearing they receive in their synagogues, shuls and shtetls) nurse “divided loyalties”, a hurricane of screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth in evitably ensues. However, the evidence is overwhelming that this is indeed the case, and no better proof of it exists than in the push to have this mass murderer Jonathon Pollard released from prison. Remember–IF HE WERE A MUSLIM and anyone of whatever ‘persuasion’ were kvetching for his release, such an advocate  would be lucky that the only negative thing occuring to them would be social condemnation.

 

–Jonathan Pollard, who is now marking his 24th year in prison, has earned the dubious record of serving the longest prison term in American history for spying for an ally. Convicted of espionage in 1987, Pollard was the suburban American Jewish dream turned nightmare: a good, middle-class, high-achieving boy turned traitor. The son of a college professor, smart enough to graduate from Stanford, patriotic enough to be hired to work in naval intelligence, he made a criminal decision to betray his country to help Israel.

And yet new petitions on his behalf have recently begun to circulate, and gain momentum, both in the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Knesset. This is, in large measure, because Pollard’s situation rests on a contradiction: He was guilty of a reprehensible crime, and yet he has been treated abominably. One of the most infamous Jewish criminals in modern times, he is also the victim of the worst act of official American anti-Semitism in our lifetimes. With his round face and shoulder-length hair, Pollard today still looks more like a perpetual grad student than an arch criminal, but he has suffered severely. He has served hard time, mostly in maximum-security prisons, spending years in lockdown 23 hours a day. Websites pleading his case detail his medical ailments, noting that he has “developed diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-glaucoma, and arthritis while in prison.”

From the moment he was sentenced, there were people in the Jewish community—and beyond—who believed Pollard had been unjustly punished and who fought for his release. But they were few and far between, and they often made the wrong case for him. This newest round of argument on Pollard’s behalf is different. For starters, many of his champions have been careful not to lionize him. Rather, they focus on correcting what Judge Stephen Williams, who filed a dissent in one of Pollard’s failed appeals, deemed “a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Most surprisingly, on September 27, 2010, a former assistant secretary of Defense confirmed many people’s decades-long fears that, at some point, the case had turned personal—and poisonous. Without explaining what prompted him to break his silence, Lawrence Korb, who served in the Pentagon in Reagan’s first term, wrote President Barack Obama: “Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.”

Decades into this tragic and pathetic tale, American Jewry’s continuing allergy to defending Pollard says more about our communal fears and the price we are willing to pay for social and political acceptance than it does about Pollard and his crimes.

***

On November 21, 1985, FBI agents arrested Pollard, 31 at the time, just outside Israel’s embassy in Washington. Since June 1984, Pollard had been routinely removing sensitive documents from the Naval Intelligence Support Center on Friday afternoons, passing them to his Israeli handlers for Xeroxing, and blithely returning them on Monday mornings. When first interrogated by the FBI, Pollard called his wife. After he worked the word “cactus” into the conversation, their designated SOS code word, Anne Henderson-Pollard scurried about their house—with a neighbor’s help—sanitizing it. The neighbor subsequently gave the FBI a 70-pound suitcase filled with secret documents, reflecting the volume of Pollard’s activities and sloppiness.

Despite transferring thousands of documents to his Israeli handlers, Pollard failed to gain asylum at the embassy on that day in 1985. Backpedaling furiously, Israel first labeled Pollard a rogue agent, as his handlers worked out of a shadowy organization called Lekem, the Defense Ministry’s Bureau for Scientific Relations. The department, headed by the legendary Mossad man Rafi Eitan, was disbanded shortly after Pollard’s arrest. Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995—long after such a move could have done him any good. And it wasn’t until 1998 that Israel finally acknowledged what everyone knew: Pollard had been an authorized agent spying for Israel.

An American Jew’s arrest as an Israeli spy was upsetting enough for American Jews. But Pollard’s defense made the affair excruciating. Minimizing the thousands of dollars he earned, the diamond-and-sapphire ring the Israelis gave him, and his efforts to shop American secrets to South Africa and possibly Pakistan, too, Pollard portrayed himself as a Zionist idealist. Anti-Semites bullied him as a child, he recalled. He claimed that the documents he smuggled out, so crucial to Israeli security, should have been shared freely. And, using a most obnoxious and threatening term, he said a “racial obligation” compelled him, as a Jew, to defend the Jewish state.

Suddenly, amid Ronald Reagan’s resurgence of hard-bodied patriotic machismo, in the age of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo and Clint Eastwood’s tough-guy “make my day” taunt, a balding, mustachioed, jowly-faced American Jewish nerd in glasses was betraying the red, white, and blue for the blue and white. Pollard’s crimes epitomized Zionism-run-amok, with the ideological implications of Jewish tribal solidarity pushed to its extreme.

“I feel my husband and I did what we were expected to do, and what our moral obligation was as Jews, what our moral obligation was as human beings, and I have no regrets about that,” Anne Pollard said defiantly on 60 Minutes shortly before being sentenced, one of many arrogant, self-destructive moves the couple made back then. While stirring up the terrifying “dual loyalty” charge—far more terrifying to Jews than to Irish-Americans and other hyphenated Americans—the Pollards defined every Jew’s ultimate loyalty as being to the Jewish state. Desperately repudiating the charge, the prominent academic Jacob Neusner would declare America to be the true “promised land.”

This American Jewish skittishness regarding Pollard was particularly surprising because by the 1980s American Jews were thriving in America’s suburban meritocracy. Some American Jewish superstars were accented immigrants like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, Elie Wiesel. But most American Jewish success stories were 100 percent American. Speaking unaccented English, they were supposed to be unscarred psychologically, unapologetically American.

***

American Jews had been here before. Three decades before Pollard made headlines, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s arrest, trial, and conviction as Soviet spies for stealing atomic secrets rendered the American Jews’ nightmare scenario in pinkish hues. But in the 1950s, American Jews were greener, more marginal. Julius Rosenberg represented the intellectual, foreign-born, New York Jew as Communist, at a time when Communism was disproportionately popular among Jews.

With the Rosenbergs—as with the Pollards—the rightness of finding them guilty was often confused with the wrongness of their punishment. The zeal with which they were prosecuted, the way Judge Irving Kaufman presided over their trial, and Ethel Rosenberg’s unjust execution along with her husband, all suggested something deeper in both the American Jewish psyche and the larger American political culture. The American legal establishment particularly enjoyed prosecuting these treasonous Jews, while many American Jews leapt to prove their own loyalty—at the Rosenbergs’ expense.

Just as in the Rosenberg case, the judge presiding over Pollard’s sentencing was swayed to render too harsh a punishment—a decision that kicked up new waves of suspicion and anxiety.

In an effort to keep his wife out of prison, Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of espionage. His wife, Anne, then 26, pleaded guilty to the milder charge of illegally possessing classified documents. In return, the prosecutor asked the judge to punish Pollard with a “substantial number of years in prison.” During the sentencing phase, one voice proved damningly influential. In a secret 46-page-pre-sentencing “damage-assessment memorandum” sent to the judge—and an additional four-page memo that was recently declassified—Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger made a fierce argument. “It is difficult … to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel,” wrote Weinberger, before adding—malevolently and unnecessarily—that Pollard’s “loyalty to Israel transcends his loyalty to the United States.”

Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, sentenced Jonathan Pollard to life in prison and his wife to five years. (After Anne Henderson-Pollard served three-and-a-half years, she was paroled. Jonathan Pollard divorced her so she could rebuild her life without him.) The sentence was surprisingly harsh. By comparison, in 1987 Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, who’d been seduced by a Soviet agent, became the first Marine ever convicted of espionage. His crimes compromised agents and the American embassy in Moscow. Yet a military court—under Weinberger’s direct authority—sentenced Lonetree to 30 years in prison, and he eventually served nine years. Richard Miller, an FBI agent who spied for the Soviets in the 1980s, served 13 years. Spies for other allies, like Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Egypt, and the Philippines, served anywhere from two to four years, with maximum sentences of 10 years. Pollard’s extreme sentence—along with the continuing refusal to free him–has raised questions about official American anti-Semitism and whether Pollard is enduring harsher punishment for the crime of being an American Jew spying for Israel.

Given that neither Weinberger nor Robinson ever explained their actions, the Pollard case remained shrouded in this noxious mystery. Years later, Weinberger would skip over the case in his memoirs and, when asked about the omission, would dismiss the Pollard case as a “very minor matter.” But it’s clear that his accusation that Pollard committed “treason”—and harmed the nation—had a devastating impact.

In his recent letter, Lawrence Korb suggested that Weinberger, his former boss, had exaggerated the damage Pollard caused and that an anti-Semitic bias distorted the case. From the start, some speculated that Weinberger, who had Jewish grandparents but was a devout Episcopalian, sacrificed Pollard to exorcise his own ancestral demons. There was something about this pudgy, sloppy, unapologetic Jewish spy for Israel that repulsed Weinberger. Weinberger was also one of the Reagan Administration’s leading Israel skeptics. Caught in a power struggle with the pro-Israel Secretary of State George Shultz, Weinberger usually viewed the Jewish state as more albatross than asset.

More benign observers guessed that the secrets Pollard spilled did more damage to U.S. interests than Pollard or the Israelis suggested. Perhaps, some argued, Russian spies secured key codes thanks to Israeli-based KGB agents. Others assumed Pollard received instructions from a higher-level mole who remains unexposed. After Aldrich Ames’ arrest for spying in 1994, some speculated that Weinberger and others may have blamed Pollard for the damage Ames had actually caused, including the deaths of as many as 10 CIA assets. The author John Loftus and others theorized that Ames, who was a top CIA counter-intelligence official, probably pinned his own crimes on Pollard. In 1995, Moment magazine editor Hershel Shanks would quote Loftus quoting naval intelligence “sources” who admitted that “90 percent of the things we accused [Pollard] of stealing, he didn’t even have access to.”

***

After Pollard’s sentencing, New York Times columnist William Safire warned that Pollard encouraged “anti-Semites who charge that Jews everywhere are at best afflicted with dual loyalty and at worst are agents of a vast fifth column.” Issuing a personal declaration of independence from Israel, Safire proclaimed: “American supporters of Israel cannot support wrongdoing here or there. In matters of religion and culture, many of those supporters are American Jews, but in matters affecting national interest and ultimate loyalty, the stonewalling leaders of Israel will learn to think of us as Jewish Americans.”

But one keen observer of American Jewry, the political scientist Daniel Elazar, noticed that it was American Jews—and not their non-Jewish neighbors—who were actually raising the dual-loyalty specter, “apparently in the hope of preventing the issue from surfacing by raising the charge in order to deny it. Even more frequently, it was raised by Jews in the media, most of whom were highly assimilated but still apparently needed to demonstrate their ‘bona fides’ as Americans.” Elazar concluded: “The level of American Jewish insecurity is astounding.”

American Jews still viewed themselves and their community as on probation in the United States, with their ultimate acceptance conditional on good behavior. This pathology would be stated clearly, if unconsciously, years later, by one of the highest-ranking Jews in American history, who served his country nobly as director of naval intelligence from 1978 to 1982 and yanked Pollard’s security clearance—temporarily—years before the spying began. Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro sounded like a scared yid when discussing Pollard. Annoyed at fringe American Jewish groups that defended Pollard, Shapiro told the Washington Post in 1998: “We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are, and to have somebody screw it up … and then to have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me.”

All minorities want to celebrate their tribal successes as reflecting the best of their people without being tarred when one of their own acts poorly. And given the torturous history of anti-Semitism, American Jews feel this intensely. We circulate lists of Jewish Nobel prize winners, delighting in each American Jewish success, using Jewish achievements to validate our rich but complex Jewish baggage. And while we reserve the right to cringe when a Bernard Madoff becomes the modern face of the greedy Jew or a Jonathan Pollard becomes the modern face of the traitorous Jew, we also reserve the right to object when our neighbors make similar leaps from the one bad apple to the whole bunch.

Nearly two years after Pollard’s arrest, with the sentencing returning the case to the headlines, the Israeli academic Shlomo Avineri zeroed in on this American Jewish insecurity—and inconsistency. Writing in the Jerusalem Post, first condemning Pollard as a traitor and his own government as clumsy, Avineri mocked the “nervousness, insecurity, and even cringing” of American Jews. Playing the role of the abrasive Israeli—or biblical prophet—Avineri wrote: “Today, American Jewish leaders by their protestations of over-zealous loyalty to the United States at a moment when no one is really questioning it, are saying that America in the long run is no different from France and Germany. When you have to over-identify, there is no other proof needed that you think that your non-Jewish neighbors are looking askance at your Americanism. You are condemned by your own protestations of loyalty and flag-waving.” At a time when Israel’s actions made it unpopular with many American Jews, Avineri’s aggressively Zionist analysis only exacerbated tensions.

***

The controversy–and speculation–peaked during the Wye River negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in October 1998. Benjamin Netanyahu, in his first round as Israel’s prime minister, lobbied hard for Pollard’s release. President Bill Clinton seemed set to free him as a sweetener to Israel until the CIA director, George Tenet, threatened to resign. Such power politicking against a spy who had been imprisoned for over a decade reinforced both camps’ speculation. Those who fear anti-Semitism say this irrational move reflects a deep aversion in the WASP-iest bastions of the American government. Those who believe Pollard did more damage than we know insist that the usually mild-mannered Tenet had a good reason to be so rigid.

To Israeli settlers, Pollard’s case symbolizes the anti-Semitism of even benign non-Jewish polities such as the United States and the weak-kneed appeasement policies of successive Israeli governments, which have failed to free Pollard. The most popular pro-Pollard bumper sticker in Israel simply appeals for Pollard to come home “haBaytah,” but a few years ago one poster challenged: “BUSH: FREE YOUR CAPTIVE.” This poster not only targeted a good friend of Israel’s, George W. Bush, but it pictured Pollard with the young Israeli Hamas is holding, Gilad Shalit. The implicit comparisons, between the innocent Shalit and the guilty Pollard, as well as between the democratic United States and the terrorist-state Hamas, were offensive. While the right’s support has sustained Pollard emotionally, it may have made his get-out-of-jail card even harder to get. The Israeli right is unpopular with both the American Jewish community and the American political establishment, making Pollard even more unappealing.

***

However unappealing he may be, the time has come to free Jonathan Pollard—not as some sop to Israelis but as a matter of justice. Holding an individual hostage to the vagaries of the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process is cruel and unusual punishment. The Pollard case has become a question of justice, American-style, unrelated to American-Israeli relations. And justice when applied too zealously becomes unjust. For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil-rights organizations have taught that we take up certain criminals’ cases not because we like the criminals or excuse their crimes but because, at a certain point, it becomes the right thing to do.

Imagine another case in which an accused man served a disproportionately long sentence after being tried in a court where direct pressure was applied by the secretary of Defense for reasons that may well have been mistaken or personally motivated. If there was another such case, one imagines that it would attract lots of attention from the ACLU and other groups concerned with the civil liberties of Americans. So why are they silent? More to the point, why are we silent?

If the Pollard case represents the worst of American anti-Semitism, then, by historic standards, anti-Semitism American style is mild indeed. Still, that American Jews, despite their long record of defending the underdog, still hestitate to champion Pollard’s release now, suggests that we—like Jonathan Pollard—remain victims of the “astounding” insecurity Elazar witnessed two decades ago.

Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal and a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, is the author of six books on American history and Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.

 

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Posted in UKComments Off on NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS

COMPARING BDS TO HITLER. YES THEY DID

NOVANEWS

 

Sorry to post two videos in two days. Promise to never do it again. This is quite good though.

 

 

This ugly defamation will not work. This ugly defamation is an insult to those who died in the Holocaust…And that it should be used in defense of an ugly apartheid regime is shameful.

 

This is what organized Jewry is reduced to–comparing a tactic that calls on the fulfillment of fundamental human rights to the crematoria, the gas chambers, pogroms, and Mengele. This is pathetic, and can only backfire. If this is the promise that organized Jewry holds out to young people, we’re not only going to leave Zionism at the door. If communal binding can only be achieved by the willful construction of a victimization complex, the community won’t be bound. No one wants their identities to be glued into community with the blood of innocent people.

If the choice is condoning horror or either walking away or locating a politics that makes people less uncomfortable in their own skin, what do you think we’re going to do, in increasing numbers? There are far more appealing options that don’t entail abusing communal memory to gird institutional support for politicide. Good try Jewish Federation of New Mexico, but come on. Like hell we want to be a part of crap like that.

 

Technorati Tags: Ali Abunimah, BDS, Israel, Palestine, Zionism 

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Posted in Campaigns1 Comment

ZIONIST DETAINED PALESTINIANS INDEFINITELY

NOVANEWS

What’s the point of a trial? Protest organizer detained indefinitely

From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee:

Military Judge Orders to Keep Bil’in Organizer Jailed Even After He Has Finished Serving His Sentence in Full

Ed’s note: Not only is organizing popular protest apparently a crime, it is one deserving unending prison sentence. Since it is obvious Israel’s government has no intention of ending the theft of land that cause these protests in the first place, they must resort to locking up the organizer, or the messenger if you will. This should put to rest any thought that these policies of “administrative detention,” in the United States or Israel, are ok because they only target the “worst of the worst ticking bombs” etc.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah was scheduled to be released from prison last Thursday, after having served the one-year prison term he was sentenced to. He remains in jail after the Military Court of Appeals ordered today to keep him behind bars regardless, pending a decision in the Military Prosecution’s appeal of the sentence.

Judge Lt Colonel Aharon Mishnayot, the head of the Military Court of Appeals, accepted the military prosecution’s petition today to extend the detention of Abdallah Abu Rahmah past the term he was sentenced to, which ended last Thursday. The decision comes after a dramatic hearing last Thursday, on the Military Prosecution’s last minute petition to extend Abu Rahmah’s remand, which took place on the date of his scheduled release. The decision contradicts the jurisprudence of the Israeli Supreme Court on the issue, instructing that a prisoner should only be kept under arrest after his term was over in the most extraordinary of cases.

Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah’s layer said: “The decision to keep Abdallah Abu Rahmah detained even after his sentence has ended is a mockery of the very concept of justice, but comes as no surprise. The military prosecution and courts are a well oiled machine of politically motivated unfair legal process.”

Last month, on October 11th, Abu Rahmah was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for his prominent role in his village’s successful campaign against the construction of Israel’s Separation Barrier on its lands. Abu Rahmah was convicted freedom of speech charges, incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations, but was cleared of all charges connecting him with violence.

Abu Rahmah was declared a human rights defender by the European Union, and his conviction and sentence generated international outrage, and was denounced by human rights organizations and the international community alike, including EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

In the similar case of Adeeb Abu Rahmah – another Bil’in activist – the Military Court of Appeals has recently ordered the Bil’in organizer under remand despite the fact that he served his sentence in full. The Court of appeals eventually dramatically harshened the one-year sentence originally imposed on Adeeb Abu Rahmah by the first instance, increasing it by half to 18 months imprisonment.

Click here to see the judge’s decision (in Hebrew)

Background

Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was arrested last year by soldiers who raided his home at the middle of the night and was subsequently indicted before an Israeli military court on unsubstantiated charges that included stone-throwing and arms possession. Abu Rahmah was cleared of both the stone-throwing and arms possession charges, butconvicted of organizing illegal demonstrations and incitement.

An exemplary case of mal-use of the Israeli military legal system in the West Bank for the purpose of silencing legitimate political dissent, Abu Rahmah’s conviction was subject to harsh international criticism. The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton,expressed her deep concern “that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest[…]“, after EU diplomats attended all hearings in Abu Rahmah’s case. Ashton’s statement was followed by one from the Spanish Parliament.

Renowned South African human right activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called on Israel to overturn Abu Rahmah’s conviction on behalf of the Elders, a group of international public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, brought together by Nelson Mandela. Members of the Elders, including Tutu, have met with Abu Rahmah on their visit to Bil’in prior to his arrest.

International human rights organization Amnesty International condemned Abu Rahmah’s conviction as an assault on the right to freedom of expression. Human Rights Watch denounced the conviction, pronouncing the whole process “an unfair trial”.

Legal Background

Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was acquitted of two out of the four charges brought against him in the indictment – stone-throwing and a ridiculous and vindictive arms possession charge. According to the indictment, Abu Rahmah collected used tear-gas projectiles and bullet casings shot at demonstrators, with the intention of exhibiting them to show the violence used against demonstrators. This absurd charge is a clear example of how eager the military prosecution is to use legal procedures as a tool to silence and smear unarmed dissent.

The court did, however, find Abu Rahmah guilty of two of the most draconian anti-free speech articles in military legislation: incitement, and organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations. It did so based only on testimonies of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and denied their right to legal counsel, and despite acknowledging significant ills in their questioning.

The court was also undeterred by the fact that the prosecution failed to provide any concrete evidence implicating Abu Rahmah in any way, despite the fact that all demonstrations in Bil’in are systematically filmed by the army.

Under military law, incitement is defined as “The attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order” (section 7(a) of the Order Concerning Prohibition of Activities of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda (no.101), 1967), and carries a 10 years maximal sentence.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ZIONIST DETAINED PALESTINIANS INDEFINITELY


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