Archive | December 3rd, 2011




Two people were reportedly injured in blast; website associated with Hezbollah claims Zio-Nazi drones destroyed devices after they were exposed.


Lebanese media reported on Friday that two people were wounded in a blast that occurred in the south of the country, between the towns of Srifa and Deir Kifa. According to some of the reports, the blast targeted espionage devices which were destroyed by Israel after being exposed by Hezbollah.

However, a different report suggested that there had been an explosion in a Hezbollah weapons cache, while others reported an accident in a nearby quarry.

A spying system camouflaged to look like a rock was seen after it was discovered by the Lebanese army near the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, March 17, 2011.   A website associated with Hezbollah claimed that the organization had uncovered Israeli espionage equipment at the site of Friday’s blast, and that Israel managed to destroy it using drones.

Lebanon Now website reported that Hezbollah members surrounded the scene of the blast and local police were called to the scene. The website added that Israeli drones were spotted in the vicinity.

Last week, an explosion occurred in the Hezbollah stronghold of Siddiqin in southern Lebanon. The blast apparently occurred at a large Hezbollah weapons depot.


Pal Journalist – IsraHell & Saudi Hidden Hands


Sammi Ibrahem a Palestinian journalist when asked about controlled opposition – Explains The Middle east, The Saudis, Palestinians acting as agents and more.

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Guardians of the City: An interview with Neturei Karta’s Rabbi Meir Hirsh

Meir Hirsh (Photo: Palestine Monitor)

Last week I interviewed Rabbi Meir Hirsch, leader of Neturei Karta Palestine, at his home in the Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Sharim in Jerusalem. Mea Sharim is a tight, crowded maze of a neighborhood with windy, dirty, dimly lit streets. Walking down a cobblestone pathway at night, with Orthodox men, women and children hurrying by on all sides, with cats scurrying in and out of dumpsters, with a yeshiva to the left and a kosher slaughterhouse to the right, one can sometimes get a flashback to a past life in an 18th-century Russian shtetl.

In the few blocks around Rabbi Hirsch’s home, the Neturei Karta stronghold in the center of Mea Sharim, one starts to see Palestinian flags scrawled on the walls, with slogans like ‘No Zionists Allowed’, ‘Zionism is Dying’ and ‘Arabs are Good’ graffiti’d in Yiddish, then crossed out, then graffiti’d again. Rabbi Hirsch’s doorbell reads ‘A Jew Not a Zionist’.

When did your family come here?

Meir Hirsch: I am the fifth generation in this land. My family came 150 years ago from Russia. Then, Aliyah as a term, like Zionism, did not exist. People outside of Israel aspired to get to Israel in order to better worship God. When Mea Sharim was made 145 years ago, it was a wilderness at first! There were animals roaming around, people had to lock their doors!


Grafitti near Rabbi Hirsch’s home. (Photo: Ben Lorber)

When the Orthodox community saw waves of European secular Zionists coming, how did they feel?

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 made the people here, especially the orthodox families, very upset. There was an objection from the ultra Orthodox community, which was the majority, specifically in Jerusalem but in other parts as well. Jacob Israel de Haan was a secular Jew who became religious, and came here from Poland. He came to Palestine and at first he went to the Mizrahi movement, but was not content with their version of religion and connected with the Chief Rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox. Because of his diplomatic connections he almost got the Balfour Declaration canceled- he had connections with Arabic leaders and British leaders. The Zionist leaders, because they saw that he was about to succeed, decided to assassinate him. When he was coming back from Maariv (evening) prayer, they shot and killed him. That led to the foundation of the Neturei Karta movement to continue to resist the Zionist movement.

De Haan was trying to make a bi-national state?

He was trying to undo Zionist aspirations towards statehood. The Zionists were progressing with their project and the Arabs were very much worried that the Zionists were trying to take their land. He met with King Abdallah of Jordan who promised him that Jews would have no problems living in Jordan or wherever he may rule, as long as they didn’t have any aspirations for political dominance.

Could you call de Haan a cultural, rather than a political Zionist?

He was anti-Zionist! He was completely detached from Zionism. All along Neturei Karta has been completely detached from Zionism in any form.

Where does the name come from?

Neturei Karta means ‘Guardians of the City’, it is an Aramaic term from the Talmud. It basically means to guard the city from Zionism entering the culture.

I lied to you, I actually know where the name comes from! [Taken from Neturei-Karta is the Aramaic term for “Guardians of the City. The name Neturei-Karta originates from an incident in which R. Yehudah Ha-Nassi (Rabbi Judah the Prince) sent R. Hiyya and R. Ashi on a pastoral tour of inspection. In one town they asked to see the “guardians of the city” and the city guard was paraded before them. They said that these were not the guardians of the city but its destroyers, which prompted the citizens to ask who, then, could be considered the guardians. The rabbis answered, “The scribes and the scholars,” referring them to Tehillim (Psalms) Chap. 127. (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Hagiga. 76c).] So the Zionists in this metaphor are the armed guards of the city, and Neturei Karta represents the scribes and scholars who keep the truth alive?

Well in the passage, the armed guards were the Romans who had conquered Jerusalem, so they actually were the ‘destroyers’.

A (Hirsch’s wife, who wished not to be named): This passage is referring to the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. Then, the scribes and the scholars literally were the guardians of the city in that, through the merit of their Torah learning, they watched over the city. But the name ‘Neturei Karta’ does not mean they are guarding over the city physically, but ideologically- they are guarding the city of Jerusalem from the ideas of Zionism.

MH: There were also ‘destroyers’  of the city who were not Roman. In the time of the 2nd temple’s destruction, there were a group of Jews called Beriyonim, the ‘Bullies’, the family of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. They resisted the Romans, they decided not to surrender to the Romans at all. They were called Haruvei Karta, the Destroyers of the City. While everyone else accepted the Romans, they were adamant about not surrendering. And that is why the Romans destroyed the Temple, because of this resistance.

There’s a growing movement of reform and secular Jewish opposition to Zionism, in Israel and around the world. What is the relationship between this movement and Neturei Karta’s Orthodox opposition to Zionism?

The difference is that secular Jews are opposed to Zionism for humanitarian ideals which are basically Gentile, while Neturei Karta’s objection to Zionism, though it is also because of the humanitarian ideas, is drawn from religious commands. This is why our objection is much stronger, because it is based on religion.

The secular and reform anti-Zionist movement shares with Orthodox opposition a valorization of diasporic Judaism, but for different reasons- secular Jews feel happy and productive in their various countries, whereas for the Orthodoxy diaspora is our God-given lot until the coming of Messiah….

There is a similarity, but there is a fundamental difference because again, the Orthodox argument is based on a divine command to stay in the diaspora, while the secular Jewish ideas are based on humanitarian values.

What’s the difference between humanitarian moral ideas and divinely commanded moral ideas?

In Syria people are resisting the totalitarian regime. A humanitarian person would object to what’s going on, and would care about what’s going on there. However, in Israel the state is using religious symbols to justify oppression. For example its name, Israel, is the name given to Jacob in the Torah. Whereas anyone would care about humanitarian catastrophes going on in Syria, this is the basis of Neturei Karta’s objection to the religious aspect of Israel’s crimes.

Would you compare the State of Israel to the Jewish people’s sin of worshipping the Golden Calf?

It is much worse than worshipping idols, because while you are worshipping the Golden Calf, you are a Jew who worships wrongly, who worships other Gods. But Zionism comes in order to fundamentally remove the roots of Judaism, it aims to destroy the Jewish people.

A: Zionism claims the Jews need a nationalistic state, they need a land and a language like all other countries. Jews are not based on a land and a language, they are based on following God’s commandments, whether they live in Russia or England or anywhere.

I want to ask about the Three Oaths. (Talmudic passage cited by religious Jews as forbidding a Jewish state in Palestine)

One of them is ‘do not rebel against the nations of the world’- when the Jewish people are in diaspora, they should not rebel against the powers-that-be. The second one is ‘do not go up the wall’. ‘Go up’ is ‘aliyah’. There is no problem with living in the land of Israel, but Jews should not make a pilgrimage, we should not go there en masse. The third one is do not hurry the end- there should be redemption at the end of days, but there is nothing we can do to rush it.

I am curious – many revolutionary Communists, socialists, anarchists, etc. of the 19th and 20th centuries were Jewish. Were they violating the Oath by rebelling against states?

That is true, but the ones who did that were not Jews. They were fully secular, and therefore not part of the Jewish people anymore. So it was not against the divine command anymore, because they did not do it as Jews.

It is often said that the Messiah will come only and exactly when the world falls completely to pieces. Is the existence of Israel and its effects upon the world a sign that, because things are getting so bad, the Messiah will come soon?

We are not prophets, so we do not know! According to the Torah, the Zionist State of Israel should not exist, so it will be unmade.

The Book of Joshua details the migration of the Jewish people out of the desert into the land of Israel, and their slaughter and expulsion of the land’s inhabitants. What do you think of those who justify the modern-day creation of the state of Israel by citing this biblical precedent?

Because Zionism is coming to destroy the Jewish people, they have no right to do this. Attempting to come and use a Biblical ideal to justify their actions is blasphemous, it is like mixing light and dark.

Some religious Zionists say that Palestinians are descended from Amalek, the so-called eternal enemy of the Jewish people. What do you say to this? [Deuteronomy 25.17-19- “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.”]

This is brainwashing propaganda by the Israeli Zionist media machine. It has nothing to do with Torah. Zionists are actually Amalek! The Chofetz Chaim said that he who goes against Judaism is from the seed of Amalek! And so therefore Zionists are from the seed of Amalek.

Something else I’ve heard is that the Arab world hates the state of Israel because of a deep-seated Muslim hatred of Jews, turning the Israel-Palestine conflict into a ‘holy war’ between Islam and Judaism.

This is a very big distortion of history. If you go throughout 3000 years of history, the big persecutions of Jews were always in Christian, not in Muslim countries. The classic example is the deportation from Spain, where Jews, deported from Christian Spain, found refuge in Muslim countries. But you don’t have to go that far- in the Holocaust time, Jews found safe havens in many Muslim countries.

How is Neturei Karta received by the rest of the Orthodox community?

Almost all Orthodox Jews reject Zionism, and this is why almost none of them enlist in the army. Although many receive funds from the government and involve themselves in the politics of the Zionist state, they reject Zionism’s ideals. The impression is that Orthodoxy supports Zionism but this is not true. They cooperate, they go hand in hand with it but they do not agree with it ideologically. They have gotten used to it. But the difference between them and Neturei Karta is that we desire to have contact with Muslim people and Palestinian leaders.

hirsh arafat

Yasser Arafat and Mosche Hirsh in 2002

How old were you when your father visited Yasser Arafat in Ramallah? What was it like?

I was 15 or 16. Even when Arafat was living in Tunisia my father went to him and explained that Judaism and Zionism are two opposite ideas, and that Neturei Karta aims to support the right of Palestinians to receive their national home in Palestine. I met Arafat in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip. It was very important for me, and a few days later, when Arafat spoke at the UN, he said he knew the difference between Judaism and Zionism. This was very important for me.

Were you or your father condemned by the Jewish community for this?

Of course there were objections, by settlers for example, to these meetings, but of course we don’t really care.

So you are carrying on your father’s message!


Why is this important for you?

Zionist actions are creating a lot of hatred against the Jews, and it is important for us to make it very clear to Palestinian leaders that true Jews are anti-Zionist, to try to prevent as much as possible this misunderstanding.

There are some Orthodox Jews who simply ignore the State of Israel, refuse to pay taxes, etc. but Neturei Karta actively vocalizes and demonstrates opposition. What is the importance of this?

It is very important to be active against Zionist actions, because they are harming both Jews and the rest of the world. So it is important to maintain vocal opposition, to dispute the Zionist agenda and make it understood that the Zionists are not really the Jewish voice.

Do you go to the Kotel (Western Wall)?


Why not?

Because it has been occupied by the Zionist state, and I do not recognize this occupation.

It must be difficult for you, because it is one of the holiest places in Jerusalem!

It is hard, because it is only five minutes away from here by foot!

What do you think of international Neturei Karta members who refuse to even set foot in Israel for the same reason?

It is equally important, I believe, to be able to declare opposition from within here, to speak out against Zionist actions.

Do you think that the State of Israel will disappear and become another stain in Jewish history, like Sabbatai Tzevi or any other idol worship in the past?


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One day a priest goes to a barber and asks for a hair cut. The barber finishes, and the priest, remembering the commandment ‘thou shalt not steal’  asks the barber–”How much do I owe you?”

The barber replies–”Not a cent, father, it’s free to a man of the cloth…”

The next day the barber opens the shop door and finds a gift card for an all-expenses paid meal at the best Italian restaurant in town for the barber and his wife, courtesy of the priest.

The next day an Islamic Imam walks into the barber shop and asks for a hair cut. The barber finishes, and the Imam, remembering the commandment ‘thou shalt not steal,’  asks the barber–”How much do I owe you?”

The barber replies–”Not a cent, Imam, it’s free to a man of the cloth…”

The next day the barber opens the shop door and finds a gift card for an all-expenses paid meal at the best Lebanese restaurant in town for the barber and his wife, courtesy of theImam.

On the third day a Rabbi walks into the barber shop and asks for a hair cut. When the barber finishes the the Rabbi asks trepidatiously “How much do I owe you?”

The barber replies: “Nothing rabbi, it’s free to a man of the cloth…”

And the next day the barber opens the shop door and finds standing there 10 rabbis waiting for haircuts.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


From Occupation to ‘Occupy’: The Israelification of American domestic security

Dec 02, 2011

Max Blumenthal

UC Davis
             18 November 2011 UC Davis police pepper spray students         (Photo: Reuters/Brian Nguyen)

Originally published in Al Akhbar on 2 December 2011.

In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics have been used to suppress the Occupy movement in general.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Changing the way we do business

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisers who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz

Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”

Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.

The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

Fighting “crimiterror”

Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.

Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Demographic Unit

For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officer to Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.

Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”

Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”

The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

Shop ‘til you’re stopped

At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselves for five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.

Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much they will inform police repression of future examples of street protest. What can be said for certain is that the Israelification of American law enforcement has intensified police fear and hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

Israeli gov’t cancels oafish ad campaign targeting Christmas, US marriage

Dec 02, 2011

Philip Weiss

Is this the week that Israel, the longest running Jewish American TV show, “jumped the shark?” I wonder. Ruth Marcus getting vexed in the Washington Post that restrictions on women in Israel are a “national security” threat because they will alienate American Jews, on whom the country depends. Abe Foxman complaining about threats to civil liberties in the Knesset for the same reason.  And now that stupid ad campaign warning Israelis in the U.S. not to marry Americans, but come back home. It disturbed Jeffrey Goldberg among others. Again because it makes their job, propagandizing, impossible.

The Netanyahu government hasnow cancelled the ad campaign, in embarrassment. The Washington Post rubs it in: “The Israeli government has canceled an ad campaign in which it suggested that Israeli expatriates will ‘lose their national identities’ if they marry Jewish Americans or celebrate Christmas. “

Goldberg got the scoop, from Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who said, “The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused.”

Maybe too late… JTA adds:

The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, told Haaretz the ads were “heavy-handed, and even demeaning.”

According to the Haaretz report, Israeli’s Foreign Ministry consulted with the Absorption Ministry after receiving several complaints from American Jews and was told that the feedback from Israelis who live in the United States was positive.

Notice the Israelis thought it was great. Clueless.

‘This is how they drove us out’–Tiberias’s exiles recall the Nakba

Dec 02, 2011

Sam Kestenbaum

Tiberias mosque

Mosque in Tiberias with “Death to Arabs” graffiti. (Photo: Sam Kestenbaum)

Zochrot is a Hebrew word which means “remembering.” It’s also the name of an Israeli NGOfounded in 2002–during the Second Intifada–to collect stories and personal narrativesof the Palestinian Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” referring to the displacement and exodus of Historical Palestine’s Arab population in 1948.

What Zochrot sought to do then was to preserve the Palestinian history of Israel, a history that for decades has been obscured and ignored. This is what they’ve been doing for the past nine years. The Nakba is ongoing, the group’s website reads, it wasn’t just the exodus and persecution of the Palestinian people following the creation of the state of Israel – the “catastrophe” is able to continue because most Jewish Israelis don’t know the pre-state, Palestinian, history of their land.

On a sunny November day, a group of Israelis–both Jewish and Palestinian–walk through the streets of Tiberias. They are here to learn about what this northern city was like, before the founding of Israel.

Touring Tiberias with the pre-Nakba generation

Two elderly Palestinian-Israelis lead the group. Both of them grew up here and lived through the Nakba, when all of Tiberias’ Palestinians were driven away.

The city of Tiberias slopes towards the Sea of Galilee. Today it’s a cluster of modern, Israeli buildings. All municipal signs are written in Hebrew and English. At the center of Tiberias — on the shore of the lake — there are ruins: old foundations, synagogues, two boarded-up mosques and crumbling stone walls of the old city.

The tour is conducted in Hebrew and Arabic. The speakers carry one small, hand-held microphone and amplifier and take turns addressing the group.

Nuwal Saleh is 75 and she wears a black dress and a white hijab. She remembers her old home, which was on Fish Street, in the center of the old city. When she was eleven, the British Mandate ended. The day after the British pulled out of the city, the Haganah, the paramilitary Zionist forces, entered.

After the British left, she says, the Haganah started shooting.

They came carrying guns, Saleh says, near her home. She points down the street as she remembers, “They came from there,” she says, “over the hill.”

Saleh and her family fled, fearing they may be killed. They had heard stories of whole Palestinian villages being massacred. They didn’t want to be one of them. Saleh remembers she returned to her home years later, knocked on the door and was met by an Algerian Jewish family. She told them, “this used to be my home,” and cried.

Remembering Tiberias, then and now

What used to be the center of the old city of Tiberias is now a parking lot. There are hotels and shopping centers. Some Palestinian neighborhoods in the city were completely flattened; others are still standing, but owned by Israeli Jews.

Ali Abu Hosni is in his 80s and was also born in Tiberias. His family–like Saleh’s–now lives in Nazareth. He wears a neat gray suit and thick glasses. Most of the Palestinians living in Tiberias fled to Nazareth, he says. Others went to Syria and Jordan. When the Haganah invaded, he explains, they set blockades on all but one side of the city. “This is how they drove us out.”

Abu Hosni shifts between Hebrew and Arabic as he speaks. He does not speak English. When he was growing up, he says, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together here side by side. In what used to be the market of the old city, Muslims, Jews and Christians did commerce together. He paints an almost idyllic picture. They had a very good relationship, he says. This was before the Zionists came.

The Jews who live here now? Abu Hosni shrugs. He doesn’t have too much to say about them. The character of the city has changed. Some of the street names have changed. Everything is in Hebrew.

Tiberias road

Road in Tiberias. (Photo: Sam Kestenbaum)

An Israeli Nakba

The Nakba isn’t spoken about often in Hebrew. This past spring, a bill was passed in the Knesset which legislated the withdrawal of state funding from any Israeli institution that commemorates the Palestinian day of mourning. Tours like this–Israelis learning about Palestinian history–are not common.

On the tour are five middle-aged Jewish Israelis from Tel Aviv. One woman, with short, cropped hair wears a Zochrot T-shirt and listens intently. She is a regular.

There is a family of Palestinian-Israelis who takes pictures with their cell phones and cameras. A red-haired Jewish Israeli says that this is her first time on a tour with Zochrot. Her friend had come before, and recommended it.

Norma Musih, the co-founder of Zochrot, writes about the importance and immediacy of Nakba remembrance, for Israeli Jews, like herself, specifically.

“The Nakba is not the story of another people that took place somewhere else. It is a story that we, as Israeli Jews, are responsible for,” she writes. The next step after remembering, Musih continues, is honoring the Palestinians’ right of return.

She knows that this would change Israel’s demographics. “The Israeli state would not continue to exist in its current form,” she writes, but believes “that in this new state life would be better, for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Abu Hosni takes us to what used to be the central mosque of Tiberias. It’s boarded up now. Iron bars block the entrance. Trash has been thrown inside and someone has written in Hebrew, “Death to Arabs” across the door.

This mosque was called the “Upper Mosque,” because it’s further up on the hill. Synagogues were on the other side of the line of shops.

On Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, he remembers that they would fire a blank shot from the town’s cannon. This is how they would begin the celebrations.

This was a bustling market, Abu Hosni says, and points at nearby shops. He remembers coming here as a kid. On market days you wouldn’t be able to tell the Jews, Muslims and Christians apart.

Sam Kestenbaum is an American writer and editor based in the West Bank. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Jerusalem Report and The World of Chinese. He is a regular contributor to The Palestine Monitor and Tikkun Daily.

Letter from Cairo: the liberals, the Brothers, and the poor

Dec 02, 2011

Scott Long

Voting in Egypt

Salafist campaign workers in Cairo’s Shobra district (@mmbilal on Twitter)

So this is what violence in Cairo is like now: the city has grown inured to it. You can stroll down a sidewalk in perfect serenity, and ignore the fact that a few blocks away lies what the foreign journalists call a “war zone.” Tuesday night — the end of the first round of the parliamentary elections — I was wandering Mahmoud Bassiouny Street downtown. I reached street’s end and a tangle of highways by the Egyptian Museum, and suddenly there were people rushing across the pavement and screaming, and bright crashing flashes that I recognized as Molotov cocktails. Behind me, abruptly, aggressive young guys in leather jackets had built a makeshift barricade across the street and were diverting traffic, and waving large knives. Among their shouts, I could distinguish “Eid wahda” —“One hand.” A few shopkeepers motioned me to get the hell away. For months crowds have targeted foreigners amid gathering xenophobia, reviling them as spies. There was, however, no obvious place to run. I walked as calmly as I could back past the barricade and the multiplying mob, and it was only at Talaat Harb Street, as the usual bustle of the city settled in, that I checked Twitter and called my friends and realized I’d been in the middle of the latest installment of the Battle of Tahrir. By night’s end, around sixty people, democratic protestors attacked by their opponents, were in the hospital. At midnight, I watched demonstrators carrying their comrades, swathed in bandages, across the square.

I’ll say more later about exactly what was going on. First, though, the elections.

The returns have been dribbling in for two days. This was the first round of three: a third of Egypt’s governorates, including Cairo and Alexandria, cast ballots. The sweep of the Islamic parties’ victory surprised everyone, including some wings of the Islamists themselves.

Freedom and Justice (FJP), dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, carried about 40% of the vote. More shockingly, el-Nour, the main Salafist party — representing literal, puritan, right-wing Islamists — won about a quarter of the ballots to come in second overall. The Egyptian Bloc, a coalition of liberal and largely secular parties, placed third, slightly behind it. The next election rounds will largely be held in more conservative parts of the country. Unless the Coptic vote in Upper Egypt shows unexpected strength, Freedom and Justice will hold close to a majority of seats; with el-Nour, they could control the new parliament completely.

Most people expected the Brotherhood to win, though by a lesser margin. At a polling place downtown I visited on Monday, Freedom and Justice organizers swarmed everywhere, flush with leaflets and paraphernalia, while the other parties were pretty much invisible. Several observers heard the same comment over and over from FJP activists: “We’re confident because we’ve been organizing for this moment for 80 years.” Certainly, for at least two decades the Brotherhood have been the only opposition force with a real grassroots presence. This time, they had the chance to try it out in a fair election. On the other hand, the Salafists’ success seems to have shocked even the Freedom and Justice Party. Mubarak jailed and tortured the ultraconservative Islamists with still more fervor than he devoted to repressing the Brotherhood; driven underground, they had few of the Brothers’ opportunities to organize in cities or villages. Their ability to pull millions of votes out of a hat this time shocked many across Egypt.

In the US, naturally, neoconservatives bray that Egypt is the new Iran, making up in population for what it lacks in plutonium: “Egypt’s turn toward Islamic revolution would be catastrophic. As the largest country in the Arab world, it has influence that Iran could never hope to achieve.”

I spent most of the last week talking to “liberals” in Egypt — a catch-all term defined quite differently than in the West. It includes Communists of various sorts, socialists, social democrats, anarchists, and free-market liberals, most but not all secular, united by a commitment to democracy, divided by disparate beliefs in what it means — some wedded to the parliamentary process, some dreaming of direct self-governance. Few, though, had an apocalyptic sense about the Islamists’ victory. They talk about three key things. First, as democrats they can’t reject out of hand the outcome of a democratic election. Second, the parliament will have little power in a government still run by a military junta. And third, the junta remains the real enemy.

The generals are killing people. I spoke last night to two gay friends who have been committed revolutionaries since January. Both were in Midan Tahrir the week of November 20, and their rage against SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) was palpable. That week, the junta reacted to a renewed sit-in in the square with brute force. They sent Central Security police down Mohamed Mahmoud Street, leading from the Ministry of the Interior, to beat and abuse protesters. The protesters fought back, blocking the street and throwing stones at the police. The police in turn soaked the street in tear gas, till mushroom clouds of it loomed above the city; they fired at the demonstrators with rubber bullets and birdshots — aiming, it’s clear, at the eyes to blind them. The square these days is full of people with bandaged sockets, bandaged faces; friends of my friends lost their eyes. One police marksman, Sobhi Mahmoud Shenawy, became known as “the eye sniper.” Forty-three dissidents died. “This was a deeply personal fight,” Ahmad told me. “You could see they would kill you in a minute.” And Yehia, one of my gay friends, added, “You felt that such people, who would fire to blind you, didn’t deserve to rule a city block, much less a country.”

Wounded warriors
Wounded protesters, Nov. 20 (@NadimX on Twitter)

As gay men, my friends don’t much fear the Brotherhood or the Salafis. They remember that the worst persecution of gays in Egypt’s history, and probably anywhere in the region, happened under the secular Mubarak regime, from 2001-2004. The FJP could hardly augur anything worse.

To be sure, the Brotherhood, always opportunists, sold out in the last weeks, giving their support to SCAF. But the new Prime Minister whom SCAF plans to puppeteer, Kamal el-Ganzouri, is a Mubarak veteran who presided over mass torture of Islamists during his last term as premier in the 1990s. The Islamists have long memories; they will not forgive him. Already, the FJP has announced it expects a government responsible to the parliament. SCAF quickly warned them the new cabinet will answer to the generals alone. “The Brotherhood can mobilize a million people in the street if they want,” my friends told me. “If it comes to a face-off with SCAF, they’re almost the only political force with a chance to win.”

Still, liberals — and feminists, and gays, and Egypt’s large Coptic minority, and many others — hardly trust the Brotherhood. And the Islamists’ triumph raises serious questions about where the revolution is going.

Back to last Tuesday night’s violence — because it illuminates those questions. How did the fighting start? On Tuesday morning, the revolutionaries in Tahrir decided to expel some of the vendors who populated the place. The square has become a market; in addition to tea, juice, food, and fruit, hawkers pitch T-shirts, flags, and souvenirs. The vendors have a bad reputation; they’ve been accused of peddling drugs; the dissidents thought they might besmirch the image of the revolution. Out with them!

This has happened before, once over the summer; back then the vendors got violent, and they did this time as well. In the evening, they counterattacked, assaulting the square with stones and Molotov cocktails. Or somebody counterattacked. The men I saw blocking traffic didn’t look like vendors; it’s possible SCAF took advantage of the situation to send in its own provocateurs. (Their battle cry, “One hand,” was SCAF’s own slogan: “The army and the people are one hand.”) What matters, though, is that the revolutionaries decided to turn on Egyptians who were using the revolution to scrape by. A protester I met in Tahrir two nights ago said plaintively: “We fought the revolution for the poor. And why should we throw them out of here so shamelessly? Just so we would look more clean?”

Yehia told me last night, “On the front lines at Mohamed Mahmoud, it was mostly poor people. They were fighting bare-handed, bare-chested; they couldn’t even afford gas masks on their faces.” And Ahmad added,

They’re the ones exposed to daily insults from police officers more than anybody else. And I don’t think they take values as relative, the way we usually do as part of the middle class. Sacrificing your life — we calculate about it: it this the time, today? Maybe this battle isn’t worth a life. But they have more absolute values of sacrifice and courage. For them, being on the front lines was a matter of human dignity.

But the revolution has failed to do justice to their dignity. The poor may be at the forefront of the battles, but the revolution’s leaders are overwhelmingly middle-class. The front lines of democracy and the front lines of class are not the same. And the bourgeois leaders have failed to reach across Egypt’s yawning class divide.

Some of the failure has been programmatic. Over the summer, as revolutionary groups struggled to agree on a list of demands, they found consensus on democracy and civil liberties easy — but their concession to addressing economic issues dwindled to an anodyne promise to raise the minimum wage. Strikers from factories to public services who had put their bodies and jobs on the line for Mubarak’s overthrow felt ignored.

But some of the failure was more physical. The revolutionaries failed to leave Tahrir, failed to go into the neighborhoods and towns and villages, to talk to workers and peasants, to organize. The Salafists, despite years underground, didn’t make that mistake. They spent the summer recruiting a third of a million active members for el-Nour. The revolutionaries waited for the masses to come to them. The result is written in the election returns. Even Zamalek, the liberal island of the haute-bourgeoisie in mid-Nile, went for the Brotherhood. The doormen and maids and porters who slave for the wealthy live in Zamalek too, shunted to cellars and rooftop shacks — but they emerged, and they voted for the FJP.

The encampment in Tahrir is an ideal and almost a fetish for many leftist Egyptians. You can see why if you’ve been there: it’s an Arab Woodstock and Brook Farm, an alternative space to a corrupt society and state, a place where diverse identities can meet and share, where unities grow out of differences and one can imagine a new way of life, a new world. It’s beautiful. But too much time, many feel, was wasted this summer and fall defending Tahrir against the military, and too little speaking to the rest of society. An alternative community may represent the dream of comprehensive change, but does little to realize it. The hard work of talking across class boundaries and building solidarities to encompass the rest of Egypt fell by the wayside.

There’s still time to recuperate the revolution. But it will take hard work. It will take dialogue. It will take renewed respect for the multiple meanings of dignity.

Over the summer, revolutionaries tried to stage a march on the Ministry of Defense in Cairo’s Abbasiyya district. Together with an Egyptian friend, I got there late; the marchers had been stopped several blocks short of the ministry, surrounded on three sides by massed troops and tanks. We tried to go through the surrounding neighborhood, and get into the demonstration from the fourth side. The rundown, impoverished streets teemed with tense, angry citizens — enraged at the marchers, whom they regarded as invaders. And at one point we found ourselves suddenly in the midst of a river of running people, men and women pouring out of buildings, armed with big knives that glinted in the light of Ramadan lanterns strung above. They were shouting: “They’re attacking us! Strike back! Defend yourselves!” They could easily have turned on us, but somehow they raced past us unseeing. They engulfed the protest, and beat and brutalized many demonstrators. We couldn’t break through to join our friends; shaken, we limped home.

It was a fine example of false consciousness, you could say: the poor enlisted to defend an arrogant and indifferent regime. But the protesters too had their arrogance. When they first met the residents of the neighborhood, who blocked the way and demanded why these outsiders were marching through, many shouted back “It’s a public street! We have the right to march here.” That claim of possession is not what you say to Cairo’s poor, whose back streets and close communities are all they have. The revolutionaries are learning about dignity the hard way.

A Warsaw Ghetto with guns (my recent trip to Israel/Palestine)

Dec 02, 2011

Philip Weiss


Menajem Perez’s family bar mitzvah trip to Israel
posted by Israel Maven tours on facebook

Most of my Sept./Oct. trip to Israel and Palestine was demoralizing. The two societies are utterly separated and have zero sense of shared community. The Israeli community is contained in its values and beliefs and privileges and has no idea about Palestinian conditions, and Palestinians in the occupied territories are utterly contained in a segregated world. The sense of impending conflict is overwhelming. I found myself hating the Israelis for their colonialism and racism and apartheid but not wanting to jump into the bath of Palestinian resistance completely. It is not that I differ with the Palestinian analysis, it is only that the emotion is so raw, sore, victimized, and revolutionary, and the denial involved in referring to Israel as “’48” seems a kind of blindness.

I found this separation of consciousness and community so scary that at times I said to myself,I’m American, this isn’t worth dying for; I need to get out of this mess and tiptoe away.

Then at the end of my trip in Ramallah I got a glimpse of hope, in an Arab Spring social media way. I had dinner with Abir Kopty and Joseph Dana and others and had an upward mood swing, to the belief that the same forces that upended the fear of Mubarak’s unending totalitarian order in Egypt could also upend the fear in Israel and Palestine of the unending segregation order. A new idea has come, borne by a new generation. But that’s at the end of this story…

This was my fifth trip to the area and I spent less time in Israel than ever before. I realized that I am unconsciously boycotting Israel; I want little to do with the place. But Israel feels like a geographical anachronism, a New-Jersey-Austria teeming with guns and North Face and Ben and Jerry’s, implanted in the Arab world.

Here are two of my West Jerusalem walks:

I walk out of the Old City at the Jaffa Gate, and there are two young women at a little kiosk handing out cards to send a care package to an Israeli soldier. The appeal is entirely in English. Notice this language: “Express… our unity.” Thank them! Message: You live a protected life in the U.S. so we are defending the Jews.


I walk down to the David Citadel, a forbodingly lavish hotel designed by Moshe Safdie, and draped over the bronze and granite façade is a weatherproof banner for Menajem Mendel Perez’s bar mitzvah tour, organized by an Israeli touring company called Israel Maven tours with the M&Ms logo on the banner– you can glimpse it at right.


I go back to my room and find Israel Maven Tours’ facebook page and there is Menajem and his family firing guns on his bar mitzvah tour. (picture at top)

And look: Here’s a video of Menajem’s  grandmother firing an automatic rifle, on facebook.

So that’s what he did on his bar mitzvah. Now you are a man. Go fire guns.

I walk up the hill to the King David Hotel to taste the history of the British mandate period and famous terrorist Zionist attack on the hotel in 1946 and the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty. Instead I find myself walking down a long hallway in the hotel reading a row of tiles with celebrity guests’ signatures. I am thinking of world history and standing on Candice Bergen and Metallica.

I go to Rosh Hashana services at an English-language synagogue in Jerusalem and come out afterward as a sandy-haired youth in green Teva sandals is showing off his M16 to friends and family. Actually his father is showing the gun off. The little bearded father is telling the friends what rifle barrel is longest, Uzi, M16,  Kalashnikov. “I was trained on a Springfield .303,” the kid says in a New York accent.

There is such a worship of guns in Israel, and so much fear– fear of this historical moment, of the Arab spring, of Turkey, of democracy. I felt as if the Israelis intended to recreate the Warsaw Ghetto, this time with guns. For the historical framework of the Warsaw Ghetto rationalizes Jewish ethnocentrism and militarism– and expiates the survivors’ guilt so many Jews feel because they lost their whole family in the Warsaw Ghetto.

This framework explains why Israel has done so much to alienate Egypt and Turkey. The isolation fulfils the Israeli emotional baseline: the world hates us. And now opposition to the UN statehood initiative is just isolating Israel more.

There is something self-destructive about Zionism. The myths of Masada and the Warsaw ghetto are romances of self-destruction. And now the Zionists are isolating Jews from any larger ideal, and embracing hatred, and there is no way this can end happily…

I spent most of my time inside the occupation, observing the treatment of Palestinians. This is crushing to see. Every American Jew should get a little taste of what I saw. And every American. I’ve described some of my journeys inside the occupation here and here and here.

Palestine is cut up into different sections, A B and C, and whenever you are on the border of Area A you see big red signs warning Israelis not to go there, it’s dangerous. There is a feeling inside Israeli society that if you even walk into these areas you will be torn limb from limb– Palestinians are teaching their children to hate you in squalid refugee camps that are nests of masked terrorists.

This is part of the segregation of Palestinians. It is like the fear that white Americans used to have of the ghettoes, but reinforced by law and the “security” wall. I know that I had that fear too. I’d never been to Nablus before this trip, I thought of that as Deep Dark Palestine. Who would be able to pull me out? The Marines won’t help me!

Then you go in and it is another human place. People are working, or they are walking with their families. People smile at you and want to help direct you to your destination. The famous hospitality is just that– deeply welcoming.

But everyone’s life has been touched by military occupation, and the stories never end. These people hate the occupation. I can’t blame them.

I met Saed Abu-Hijleh, an American-educated lecturer and poet, whose mother was gunned down right next to him outside their hillside villa in Nablus 10 years ago. His father is a leading surgeon in Nablus– his father is like the surgeon you’d want in an American hospital, stony, neat and precise. His wife was gunned down by Israeli soldiers as she was doing embroidery on the stone terrace. Their house in Santa Monica would go for $5 million. During the first intifadah young Saed was shot in the stomach at a demonstration and imprisoned, and beaten in prison till the stomach wound opened up again. When he got out, his father shipped him to American schools to save his life.

I met the mayor of a village in the Jordan Valley who was shot three times when he was 15 when he was walking out to his family’s fields to visit his parents. Haj Sami Sadeq wasparalyzed.

He showed me around his village, and at the women’s clinic, I met a young Palestinian American woman in a sequined belt and designer handbag whose brother was killed when the Israelis blew up a police station during the second intifidah. She had come to the clinic with her mother, who wore traditional clothing. The mother says a prayer for her son every morning. The young American is suburban; she is afraid to come back here.

“The way I look at my country, I like rules. I want people not to live in chaos. In America there is freedom because there are laws. I like the law. Here they live under chaos because there are no rules.”

These are not unusual meetings. Yes, Abu-Hijleh and Haj Sami are leaders, I sought them out. But meeting that woman was entirely random. The sense of lawlessness is pervasive. Israel is trying to take their lands. That is the largest truth of the occupation. It is a “slow-moving… ethnic cleansing,” Bill Fletcher Jr. says accurately; and fear and uncertainty and despair fill every molecule of political consciousness. The American government paves the roads and builds clinics and puts up huge billboards, normalizing the occupation– but it does nothing to stop the neverending theft of lands by violent settlers supported by the army.

“These people need one thing—“ says Gilbert Carlson, a tall young idealistic American teacher in Nablus. “Exposure. They need their story to be told to the outside world. What they need is for the people from the governments that support Israel to wake up and realize what is going on here is beyond absurd. The word absurd doesn’t begin to characterize it.”


Gilbert Carlson

Carlson tells me of the frustration he experiences trying to describe a checkpoint to friends back in the States. Imagine hundreds of people standing waiting in the cold, women and children up to their ankles in mud, as Israeli teenagers in uniform sort though their documents, he says. But Gilbert doesn’t feel he can ever convey that scene.

“Before I set foot in Palestine I would have said, ‘the occupation is fucked up,’ but really I had no idea what was going on here. There really are no words. Or I’m short on words for what I’ve seen. There are too many emotions to put across, that words don’t allow. And in the end I say, You just have to come visit a checkpoint.”

I experienced that emotional battering time and again in Palestine. I wondered what I could say or do to convey what I was seeing to Americans. What picture could I take? What wail could I record?

And what struck me most of all was that where you would expect to see an international force protecting a vulnerable population, you see 24- and 25-year old international idealists, like Gilbert Carlson.  Where some international legal body ought to be separating the populations and protecting the weak from the fourth largest army in the world and airlifting supplies to Gaza, there are 24-year-old kids—like Morgan Bach, a teacher from Seattle who lives in Haj Sami’s village so that it is not wiped off the map by Israeli military bases that surround it and have demolition orders for the town. The courage and sacrifice of these young people is inspiring. I would never be capable of it. Some day their deeds will be recorded in history books: that when governments failed to do anything to protect people, they stepped in.

My side is frequently accused now of trying to “delegitimize” Israel. And I know that some on my side see no legitimacy in Israel and work to delegitimize it by calling it ‘48 and Palestine. But when you visit the place it is clear that Israel has done most of the work for them. Its complete indifference to the 1967 lines of international consensus, which its advocate Alan Dershowitz described as “Auschwitz borders,” as Abba Eban did before him, justifying the Warsaw ghetto with guns and Candice Bergen– well, they showed the same indifference to the 1947 lines of international consensus, UN Partition. And the ethnic cleansing and colonization that Israel carries out today in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the Negev serve to undermine the liberal idea that the establishment of the state was a blow for human progress, rather than just a chapter in the story of colonization and expulsion and the white man’s burden.

“1948 is still going on every single day, but that’s a tough narrative to sell in the U.S.,” Gilbert Carlson says.

I told Carlson that the American view is changing. The statehood initiative and Obama’s collapse have woken a lot of Americans up to the issue. Henry Siegman recently used the wordcolonialism in connection with Israel. And the New York Times is doing stories about Israel’s international isolation with the thrust that Israel has brought this situation on itself. America has been damaged; Netanyahu’s humiliation of Obama at the United Nations has shocked our liberal Establishment. And Nicholas Kristof’s piece reluctantly calling for democracy in the entire land is animated by awareness of this isolation.

But the Israelis, even the good ones, are incapable of sorting this problem out for themselves. The occupation is “lovely” for them, as Nabil Sha’ath put it. A leftwing Israeli Palestinian friend who hates the occupation has started ignoring politics and says that it is a time of hopelessness: she has to live here and there is nothing she can do to change things. You stop even thinking about it, she says, because you can’t see any good coming from any of the players, the Quartet, Obama, Netanyahu. They are all so incapable of doing any good.

She is in her 40s. One of the problems with the conflict is age. The old are all locked in their generational understandings, and those understandings are failures. Nabil Sha’ath is locked inside the great saga of Palestinian resistance, compromise and Oslo—the failed saga of his lifetime, and no one wants to admit that the saga is a failure. Anyone over 45 or so in America who cares about the issue has also been trained by a group of experiences that begins with terrorism and ends with an olive branch and historic compromises and the dream of two people living side by side, oh how can we achieve it.

Partition has a generationally ordained quality. Sha’ath in his 70s supporting Partition as the climax of his life’s arc. I’m 56 and sometimes support Partition. We have old eyes. Young people have a wisdom born of new experiences and assumptions. It is no surprise that the most interesting voices on the struggle, from Adam Horowitz to Ali Abunimah to Max Blumenthal to Susie Abulhawa, are in their 30s.

My last night in Palestine I spent in a Ramallah restaurant courtyard under a pomegranate tree with young social media activists, Abir Kopty and Joseph Dana and others. Kopty is from the Galilee and Dana from the US and Israel. They say that their crowd is a small one, but what inspiring belief and esprit de corps they have. They remind me of the Egyptian facebook revolutionaries: they have a new idea they truly believe in and don’t see why it can’t be brought about. Democracy– really, is that such a hard idea to absorb?

And though their movement ramifies in a lot of different ways (nonviolent protest, international voluntarism, boycott, the statehood initiative, etc) it is really in the end a mental struggle, they are resisting old ideas, and they must convince millions of people who are set in an old way to say I am for democracy.

Tahrir could not have happened without western media– without the worldly young revolutionaries using facebook and the American networks to leverage their struggle; and in the end Kopty and Dana are also seeking to leverage western media. They are up against the same kind of generational opposition that Tahrir faced. Because of their heroic battles, the old think that two states is a good and legitimate outcome. There is that attitude to overcome. Not just in America and the Israel lobby, but in “international consensus.”

Well Mubarak had international consensus behind him, didn’t he? Ideas and attachments can dissolve in a few seconds. Nicholas Kristof and Daniel Levy, both fairly young, are saying the same thing: We have to talk about the possibility of one state.

One big wall the dreamers must tear down is Israeli fear. Israelis know that they have done wrong. When Micha Kurz of Grassroots Jerusalem came to the United States and talked about the occupation a year or so back, he visited a conservative synagogue where wise men acknowledged everything he told them about Jerusalem. But they said their great responsibility in political life is to protect Israelis, and they are afraid that when the Israelis lift their boots from the neck of the Palestinians there will be a bloodbath. The Palestinians will turn on the Israelis.

At our dinner

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,


Please let me know if my message to you comes out blank.  Hoping  that on Sunday a technician will resolve the problem.  I am beginning to have an inkling of what might cause it—but have no idea of how to solve it.


As for today, there are 8 items below.


In the first of these an angry Amira Hass shows how an Israeli demolition firm takes pride in its work in the WB.  This reminds me of Hani Amer’s remark to me last week. I said something about talking to soldiers with the hope of making them think.  His response was ‘they don’t think.  They are just laborers who follow orders.”  The demolition firm merely takes pride in doing an excellent job.  I wonder if the company’s execs or those who perform the job ever think to themselves, ‘how would I deal with it if this happened to me?’  Probably not.  Else they would not be able to do what they are doing.


Item 2, a Haaretz editorial, is critical of Netanyahu.  He should, it lectures, end the anti-democratic witch hunt, referring to the bills on the table waiting to be made laws.


Item 3, “Stories from the old city” is more about the Sumarin family, but this time from the Independent.  Good that their tale gets wider distribution by publication in an international newspaper.


Item 4 relates that Israel faces the courts over not allowing residents of Gaza who are suing Israel or the military to leave so as to appear in courts .  May the suit win. 


Item 5 is a link (I was unable to copy the article) to a report titled “Women’s rights come under siege.”  The article is about the ultra-orthodox attempts to re-organize Israeli society.


Item 6 and 7 are on the identical subject—American Jewry is up in arms apparently over certain ads that Israel is putting on video so as to encourage Israelis to come home.  Item 6 relates straight-forwardly what is happening, and has the 3 videos (very brief) at issue.  Item 7 gives historical background that I was unaware of.  Worth reading both and seeing the videos.


Item 8 is Today in Palestine for December 1.  Lots on demolitions and prisoners and Gaza .  The section on bds is uplifting.  The rest is sad sad sad.


Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.





1,  Haaretz  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Israeli demolition firm takes pride in West Bank operations

Having relatives in the West Bank is a problem. So is a school in the South Hebron Hills. The list of prohibitions is endless.


By Amira Hass


They passed by us proudly in their shiny shields and glittering wheels, these pot-bellied, gas-guzzling SUVs and a few jeeps with more modest engine sizes. They were returning from their operation’s destination. It was Thursday, November 24, 2011. We didn’t manage to see them in action, but we knew they were returning from routine demolition activity that doesn’t get reported in our parts and understood as yet another detail in the ever-expanding historical reckoning this land’s residents have with its masters.


The banal key words: Area C (South Hebron Hills), Civil Administration, military, Border Police, police, two bulldozers. Demolition orders for ICs (illegal construction ), trampled tents, tiny concrete structures in pieces. An adjacent water tanker, because hooking up to the water grid is against the law. And nearby, the glittering rooftops, set amid greenery, of the Jews’ houses at the settlement Susya. And the little pool for taking a dip that the occupants of Mitzpeh Avigail fill with water from the adjacent spring.


Discrimination familiar ad nauseam.


Still, we learned something new : The contracted demolition company was E.T. Law Services Ltd., as it said on the vests (fluorescent yellow ) that the half dozen workmen were wearing. Their job was to remove everything from the tents and little buildings earmarked for destruction: mattresses, sacks of flour and rice, more mattresses, an iron bed frame, pots, blankets, clothes, textbooks.


E.T. Law Services specializes in executing all the Bailiff’s Office actions, its website reports. Demolitions represent merely one of its several fields, which include repossessions, the impounding of vehicles and evictions.


“Building demolitions are generally carried out on behalf of engineering departments at municipalities, the Civil Administration in the territories, local building committees and the like …. After a suitable order has been received for executing the demolition of an illegal structure, its demolition is carried out by professional teams, in coordination with the relevant authorities such as the Israel Police , the Israel Defense Forces, Magen David Adom, suppliers of heavy equipment and so forth.”


A subcontractor brings the bulldozers. This is the second year in a row that E.T. Law Services has won the bid “from the Civil Administration in the territories to serve as the demolition contractor and the supplier of the mechanical engineering equipment and workers.” The company has also been surveyed by The Standards Institution of Israel and found to meet the requirements of the Israeli and international standard in bailiff’s office services, storage, building demolition and collection services for municipalities.


Our minds are at rest. On November 24, the following demolitions were carried out in accordance with the international standard: two tents in which the Mughnem family lived on their land in the village of Susya; a small stone mosque in the little cave village Umm Faqara; a small residential structure belonging to one family; an improvised guest room of another family; and a rabbit pen.


Not in keeping with the standard, the demolition also damaged the residential cave in Umm Faqara, which is not illegal. Illegal electricity poles that were meant to connect Umm Faqara to the 21st century had already been uprooted on November 3. In Umm Faqara two teenage girls were arrested; an officer in the Israeli Border Police said they had attacked the detachment. One of two rabbits was killed. In Susya the demolition work was accompanied by silence.


There is no rest for the guardian of law and order. Only one day before the demolition in Susya, the Civil Administration posted more stop-work orders, the stage that precedes a demolition order. In danger of being demolished, then, are the school’s main building, the bathrooms, the water cistern (when the law prohibits you from hooking up to the grid you go back to water cisterns ), and the road leading to the school.


There is no dispute that the Palestinian school was built without permits from the Israeli Civil Administration (after all, there are no permits when there is no master plan, and a master plan exists for the settlement Susya and not for the Palestinian Susya ). The Civil Administration guy’s GPS also proved that the school, in its second year of operation, was built in Area C, 100 meters from Area B, which is under Palestinian civil-administrative jurisdiction.


Relatives in the West Bank


S., an American citizen who works for an international organization registered in Jerusalem , applied for a work permit from the Israeli Interior Ministry. Her fellow foreign nationals had already received such a permit. She received the following written reply: “Since first-degree relatives reside in the territories and your father is a former resident of the territories, the decision of the headquarters of the Population and Immigration Authority (at the Interior Ministry ) is to deny the request.”


Perhaps relatives in the West Bank is a sweeping criterion for not granting a work permit? According to Sabine Haddad, spokeswoman for the Population and Immigration Authority, “There is no criterion that distinguishes between foreign nationals of Palestinian origin and other foreign nationals in granting a work permit. However, with every application that is submitted for receiving a work permit, different parameters are examined, including the applicant’s intent of settling down, the applicability of the temporary order and so on and so forth.”


When S. applied for her work permit, she was required to specify in writing the names of all her relatives who live in the West Bank, to stipulate how frequently she sees them, and to detail the migration history of her father and mother (likewise from a Palestinian family ).


It was not of his own volition that the father, a West Bank native, became “a former resident.” Israel used various tricks to make sure that Palestinians who, like him, left after 1967 for school and work lost their residency status. The Interior Ministry never rests. It does everything it can to prevent the daughter from returning, heaven forbid, to her family’s home. She might settle down here and disrupt the demographic balance, God forbid.


2.  Haaretz

Friday, December 02, 2011


Netanyahu should end the anti-democratic witch hunt

PM’ s support for the revised bill to restrict donations by foreign governments to left-wing organizations is an ill-conceived attempt to exploit his parliamentary majority to undermine Israeli democracy.


Haaretz Editorial

Tags : Benjamin Netanyahu


Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a conference of jurists earlier this week raised hopes that perhaps the prime minister had decided to repel the recent wave of bills proposed by his right-wing coalition colleagues. Netanyahu used the occasion to make clear what should have been self-evident: “Democracy is not just majority votes and majority rule. There is no way to run a democracy without checks and balances among the different branches of government.”


But words are one thing, and actions are another: Netanyahu’ s support for the revised bill to restrict donations by foreign governments to left-wing organizations is an ill-conceived attempt to exploit his parliamentary majority to undermine Israeli democracy. Social-welfare and human-rights organizations are one of the pillars that help preserve the balance between the different branches of government.


The new bill, cosponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud, is even worse than the original version that Netanyahu agreed to shelve. This time, the right seeks to completely bar donations by foreign governments to organizations that reject Israel ’s existence, incite to racism, support armed struggle against Israel , support indicting elected officials or Israel Defense Forces soldiers in international courts, advocate refusal to serve in the army, or support boycotting Israel . Moreover, organizations that aren’t also funded by the Israeli government would have to pay a 45 percent tax on donations from foreign governments.


The bill would authorize the finance minister and the Knesset Finance Committee to exempt certain organizations from this tax, based on criteria that haven’t yet been set. In that way, the cabinet and Knesset would essentially acquire judicial authority over civil society organizations, whose purpose is to provide oversight of the executive and legislative branches.


Moreover, the bill discriminates against human rights organizations identified with the left, as well as against peace organizations: It doesn’t apply to groups that get donations from foreign organizations or individuals – donations that serve to bolster the settlements and finance right-wing extremist activity.


A survey published by Haaretz yesterday found that only a minority of Israelis (37 percent) support proposals to restrict leftist organizations, the Supreme Court and the media. The public is aware of the danger looming over Israeli democracy. If the prime minister is sensitive to the public’s mood, he must immediately put an end to his colleagues’ witch hunt.


3.  Independent


Wednesday 30 November 2011



Stories from the Old City : ‘We are not living like human beings’

A 60-year-old law is being used to evict Palestinian families and expand Jewish settlements in the coveted suburbs of East Jerusalem


Catrina Stewart 





At the top of a steep and ramshackle street in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, a rusty, battered gate opens into an unremarkable house. Less than a quarter mile away, though, stand the Al Aqsa mosque and the Wailing Wall, two of Jerusalem’s most venerated holy sites, making it a very attractive piece of real estate indeed.


For Mohammed Sumarin, 52, whose late uncle owned this house, this is home. He was born here, raised here, and has never lived anywhere else. But now he faces losing his home of more than half a century to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli charity that claims the house for its own and is battling to evict the family.


Silwan, sprawled along the southern flank of Jerusalem ‘s Old City , is the politically sensitive epicentre of the struggle for East Jerusalem, coveted by Palestinians as the capital of their future state, and claimed by Israel , which annexed the eastern sector after the 1967 Six Day War, as an integral part of an undivided Jerusalem .


The evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are widely seen as deliberately aiding Israeli settlers in staking the Jewish claim to the eastern part of the city to thwart a final peace agreement that could cleave the city in two.


For the past month, the Sumarins have been living with the knowledge that they would have to leave their home by the end of the month or face forcible eviction. “We are not living like human beings,” Mr Sumarin, a severe diabetic who is bedridden for much of the day , says. “We cannot sleep at night. We live in fear. We expect them to come at any moment and throw us out.”


Waiting in the wings is Himnuta, the shadowy arm of the JNF, which declares itself the owner of the house. Himnuta, unlike the Fund, seeks to acquire property across the Green Line. Israeli and Palestinian activists fear that if Himnuta gets hold of the house, it will, as it has many times before, lease the house to El’ad, an extreme religious settler group that has established a bible-inspired archaeological park in the area and covets this neighbourhood for the Jews.


For the moment, though, the Sumarins can breathe a little more easily. Hours before an eviction order expired earlier this week, an Israeli judge suspended the ruling in response to a counter suit by the family’s lawyer. It has given Himnuta until 18 December to decide whether it intends to go ahead with the eviction or not, amid mounting international pressure on the JNF to back down.


Like so many Palestinians who have lost their homes in recent years, the Sumarins are victims of an old Israeli law that allows the state to confiscate property of absentee Palestinian owners living in an “enemy” state following the creation of Israel in 1948. Problematically, the law predates 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank, and those states classified as enemy states include the occupied West Bank , Jordan (which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994) and almost every other Arab nation.


When the owner of this house – Mr Sumarin’s uncle – died in 1984, somebody spotted an opportunity. The owner’s sons, the legal heirs to the property, then lived in Jordan , the United Arab Emirates and the United States , while Mr Sumarin and his family continued to live in the property with permission of their relatives.


The Custodian for Absentee Properties confiscated the house a few years later with the help of the 1950s law, subsequently transferring it to Himnuta. In 1991 began a lengthy court process that would drag on for 15 years. The Sumarins initially fended off the action by Himnuta, but a negligent lawyer failed to defend an action against them in 2005, not even informing the family that a suit to evict them had been filed. The Israeli court ruled in favour of Himnuta, and ordered the family to pay Himnuta 1 million shekels (£170,300) in rent and interest, which has since risen to 2 million shekels (£340,600).


Technically, Israel is acting within the bounds of its own law, but it is, claims Daniel Siedeman, an Israeli human rights lawyer, a transparently “government-backed settler endeavour which is of highly questionable legality”. “A system that operates in such a way is not driven by the… law but the calculus of a national struggle,” he adds.


Since the early 1990s, Himnuta has taken legal ownership of at least eight Palestinian properties in Silwan, and in almost every case documented by Israeli activists has leased them to El’ad, a registered charity funded by wealthy donors whose identities are shielded by a web of offshore companies. Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich attended a 2005 fundraiser for the group, according to Israel ‘s Haaretz newspaper.


El’ad has been open about its vision for the neighbourhood. In an interview with an Israeli publication four years ago, director Doron Speilman gestured towards Silwan and said: “Our goal is to turn this land you see behind you into Jewish hands.”


With the backing of the Israeli government, the settler group has worked to achieve that vision through archaeology, establishing a national park called City of David in the upper part of Silwan. El’ad claims that archaeological finds in the area provide proof that King David, a legendary Hebrew figure, existed and established a city on this site in 1,000 BC.


Some Israeli archaeologists have disputed the settlers’ conclusions, arguing that there is no evidence to prove their claims. But it does, says independent archaeologist Yoni Mizrahi, help create a national consensus over the historical significance of the site.


“El’ad can say: ‘We’re not taking over Palestinian land. We’re coming back to where our ancestors lived,'” he says. “Many Israelis are against the taking over of [Palestinian] houses, but they support the archaeology.”


But El’ad insisted this week that the Sumarin family had no legal rights to the property, claiming that they forged ownership documents that they used to prove a legal right to their relatives’ house.


“The facts are that they illegally seized a property, used forged documents to try and deceive the courts, and are now refusing to leave a property which they never owned in the first place,” El’ad director Doron Spielman said in an emailed statement. “It is time to pull the cover off this charade and understand that this is a premeditated criminal scheme to illegally seize control of property which does not belong to them.”


Hagit Ofran , an activist with the NGO, Peace Now, confirmed that the courts had ruled in 2004 that a document transferring ownership to the family was forged, but said that the Sumarins did not have the money to appeal the decision. She added: “When the court said the document was forged, the court did not say that the family had no rights to the home.”


The document “was only one of the sources of their right to the property. Himnuta’s right to the property is much more questionable,” she said.


Over the past two decades, El’ad has expanded its presence in Silwan, commandeering confiscated Palestinian homes and bringing in settler families, whose 500-strong presence is heavily defended by gun-toting security guards, who frequently clash, sometimes fatally, with Palestinians in the area. The lawyer Mr Siedeman, says the consequences of the settlers’ actions cannot be overstated. The Sumarins’ plight “is emblematic of a conflict that is careering out of control,” he says. “The two-state solution is being endangered… and the radicalisation of the conflict is morphing from a political one into a religious one.”


Meanwhile, the fate of the Sumarins is in limbo. Himnuta now has a choice: it can decide not to press for the family’s eviction or it can continue its fight.


Shortly before the court halted the eviction order, Himnuta said that it was open to dialogue with the family, but insisted that the family would have to pay the 2 million shekel debt and an undetermined level of rent if it wanted to remain.


Given the family’s straitened financial circumstances, activists are sceptical that the offer was meant seriously, and fear that Himnuta will continue to seek the eviction.


Jawad Siyam, a local activist , says the situation in Silwan is becoming intolerable, with the rights of the dead given precedence over those of living Palestinians. “Why do settlers who came here 20 years ago have the right to take over? Just because King David was here 3,000 years ago?” he says. “We can’t breathe here because of the political situation.”


4.  The Guardian


Thursday, December 1, 2011


Israel Israel faces legal challenge over block on Palestinians exiting Gaza to sue stateHuman rights body says those seeking damages for actions of Israeli military are refused entry to the country to appear in court


Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Thursday 1 December 2011 19.34 GMT  larger | smaller Article history


Israel says it does not have a legal obligation to allow Gaza residents to cross the border, pictured during the January 2009 war. Photograph : Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

An Israeli human rights organisation has launched a legal challenge to the state’s policy of denying Palestinians permission to leave Gaza to pursue claims for damages resulting from military action, which has led to dozens of cases being dismissed by the Israeli courts.


The petition follows a supreme court ruling in 2006 that Palestinians were entitled to sue the state of Israel for compensation for damages caused to civilians by the military outside of “acts of war”. Lawsuits were filed for death, injury, house demolitions, torture and cruel or inhumane treatment.


However, plaintiffs and witnesses have been refused permission to enter Israel to appear in court, give evidence and complete necessary legal processes, such as signing affidavits witnessed by their lawyers, for their cases to proceed. Israel tightly restricts entry from Gaza which it says is necessary on security grounds.


Adalah, a human rights and legal action centre, cites a case in 2009 where the judge concluded “there is no option other than to dismiss the lawsuit”.


The plaintiffs, he said, “live in Gaza City and are unable to enter Israel . Therefore, they cannot hold meetings with their lawyer or sign various documents in front of him. They cannot stand before the court to give their testimony, to prove their case … The situation cannot be expected to change in the foreseeable future.”


The petition, filed by Adalah on behalf of 13 plaintiffs from Gaza plus lawyers and human rights groups, must be heard by the end of February.


The cases include that of Mohammed Asad Mohammed Alloh, disabled after being shot in the head from an Israeli military helicopter at the age of 13 in 2004. He was refused entry to Israel to undergo medical examination by an expert witness, as required by the court. His lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, was forced to withdraw the case in 2010 after a five-year battle.


Hassan Lutfi Saed al-Bishawy was taking his pregnant wife to hospital with her sister and a neighbour in January 2005 when their car came under fire from Israeli soldiers. The neighbour was killed and Bishawy was shot in his thigh and hand. None of the nine plaintiffs and four witnesses in the case have been permitted to enter Israel to testify. The case is still pending.


Kamla Saleh Suliman Abu Said and her niece were shot dead while working in fields near the Gaza-Israel border. The case was dismissed in 2009 after five years of legal battles because three witnesses were not permitted to enter Israel to appear in court. A second case is now pending, but the witnesses are still being refused access to Israel .


“In all these cases, there is a good chance to prove the liability of the state of Israel ,” said Fatmeh El-Ajou, a lawyer for Adalah. “This is the way the state is trying to avoid accountability. The plaintiffs are banned from exercising their rights. And in this way [the state] is turning the supreme court ruling into a dead letter.”


Under Israeli law plaintiffs must also deposit a sum of money‚ “usually around 30,000 shekels (£5,000)‚” to guarantee the costs in case they lose their claim. The sum is forfeited if the case is dismissed. “This is another obstacle to the plaintiffs,” said El-Ajou.


Israel ‘s ministry of justice referred the Guardian to a letter it sent to Adalah prior to the petition being filed. The ministry said there was no legal obligation on the state of Israel to allow the entry of residents of Gaza .


It said there was “an armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror organisations which are active in the Gaza Strip … Since June 2007 [when Hamas took control of Gaza] there exists alongside this conflict a terror government, which, as a result of a violent revolution which it carried out, which had turned the Gaza Strip into a “hostile territory’ for the state of Israel”. Claimants “have a wide array of methods to establish contact with their lawyers, among others, through telephone calls, faxes, and emails”.


5. In Israel Women’s Rights come under siege


6.  Ynet Friday,



December 02, 2011


Controversial PR?


 Netanyahu the Christmas ‘Grinch’ Photo: Alex Kolomoisky


US Jews veto anti-assimilation ad campaign

Video advertisements depicting assimilation process of Israelis living abroad stirs storm in American Jewish community. Jewish Federations: Insulting message could harm Israel-Diaspora relations


Yitzhak Benhorin Published:  12.02.11, 


WASHINGTON – An ad campaign launched by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption to convince Israelis living abroad to return to Israel stirred a storm among many Jewish Americans who said the advertisements jeopardize Israel’s relations with its Diaspora.


Three videos produced by the Ministry depict “normal” scenarios from the daily lives of Israelis abroad, and urge them to “return home” before becoming “fully assimilated.”

Following numerous complaints by American Jews, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) issued the following statement: “…While we recognize the motivations behind the ad campaign, we are strongly opposed to the messaging that American Jews do not understand Israel. We share the concerns many of you have expressed that this outrageous and insulting message could harm the Israel-Diaspora relationship.


“For that reason, we have made our concerns known to Israeli officials in the United States , and are delivering a strong letter to the Prime Minister’s office asking the government to stop this initiative and to reconsider the strategy behind it. We have also offered to help play a role in rethinking this effort.”


One of the videos shows grandparents in Israel with a Hanukkah menorah behind them, talking with their granddaughter on Skype. They ask her “what holiday is it today?” to which she cheerfully answers “Christmas.”


At the end of the video, a message appearing on the screen reads: “They will always be Israeli. Their children will not. Help them come home.”


Another video that angered American Jews, suggests that Israelis should not marry non-Israeli partners, because they will never understand Israeli holidays such as the Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.


In a third ad, a child is shown trying to wake up his napping father by repeatedly calling out “daddy.” However, the father only responds when the child finally calls him “aba” (Hebrew for father).


American media outlets slammed the ad campaign, directing their anger at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


Business Insider magazine compared Netanyahu to the Grinch, a fictional character created by Dr. Seuss, which is used to describe a person opposed to Christmas time celebrations, while The Miami Herald published an article titled “Benjamin Netanyahu’s war on Christmas?”


The Atlantic correspondent Jeffery Goldberg expressed the Jewish community’s anger, writing: “The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik (if you don’t mind me resorting to the vernacular).


“The message is: Dear American Jews, thank you for lobbying for American defense aid (and what a great show you put on at the AIPAC convention every year!) but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters,” he wrote.



7.  Haaretz Friday,

December 02, 2011


Controversial commercials show historic balancing act of Israeli and American Jews

In the words of David Ben Gurion : In the free and prosperous countries, Judaism faces the kiss of death, a slow and imperceptible decline into the abyss of assimilation.


By Chemi Shalev

Tags : Jewish World Jewish Diaspora Benjamin Netanyahu


Jacob Blaustein might be the richest and most important American Jew many of you have never heard of. He has been so thoroughly forgotten that Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry under his name, the digital age equivalent of being expunged from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.


Nonetheless, although he died over 40 years ago, Blaustein continues to exert great influence over American Jewish history, especially on days when three commercials of the Israeli Ministry of Absorption touch a raw nerve and spark such a lively debate about Israel-Diaspora relations.


Blaustein was a towering titan of industry who, together with his father, Louis, created what was once the world ’s biggest oil supplier, Amoco. He was a close confidant of President Harry Truman and often served as his diplomatic emissary. He was President of the American Jewish Committee during the establishment of the State of Israel and for many years thereafter. And, together with his surprisingly close friend, David Ben Gurion , Blaustein was the chief architect of a historical Jewish “Concordat” that has shaped and governed the delicate and complex relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community ever since Israel was born.


If he were alive today, Blaustein would probably be at the forefront of those who are so vigorously protesting the commercials that are aimed at persuading Israeli expats to return home, belittling in the process, so their detractors feel, the value of American Jewish life. He might even get on a plane, as he did several times during the 1950’s, to complain to the prime minister that Israel was violating the terms of the modus vivendi that he had carved out with Ben Gurion soon after Israel declared its independence. He might go so far as to threaten that American Jewry would unilaterally abandon this agreement, as he did in early 1961 after Ben Gurion told the 25th Zionist Congress in no uncertain terms what the commercials at the eye of the current storm have only subtly implied, if at all: “Those who are devoted to Judaism must see the danger facing Diaspora Jewry courageously and with open eyes. In the free and prosperous countries, it faces the kiss of death, a slow and imperceptible decline into the abyss of assimilation”.


This was no Israeli boy calling his father “daddy” instead of “Abba”, like he does in the commercials, nor a boyfriend perplexed by his Israeli girlfriend’s preoccupation with Yom Hazikaron and not even teary grandparents who don’t know it’s Christmas time at all until they are told by their Israeli grandchild in America. This was Ben Gurion, at his most characteristically blunt, expounding on the basic Herzlian Zionist tenet of “negation of the Diaspora”, sending American Jewish leaders into a tizzy and getting Blaustein on a plane to Israel to sort things out and put them back on track.


The deal between the two, first reached in 1950 in what came to be known as “ the Ben Gurion-Blaustein Exchange” was, in essence, a Jewish cease fire between what many have described as the modern-day equivalents of Jerusalem and Babel . In exchange for dropping the then non-Zionist and often antagonistic posture of the American Jewish Committee towards Israel, and thus enabling American Jewry to unite in financial and political support for the newly-established state, Ben Gurion agreed that Israel would refrain from speaking on behalf of the Jewish people, would recognize that American Jews owe their allegiance only to the government of the United States, would accept the legitimacy of American Jewry, would refrain from campaigns aimed at encouraging wholesale Jewish emigration to Israel and would even stop using the world “aliyah,” to ascend, as that implies a superiority of the Israeli-Jewish existence.


Ben Gurion agreed to the deal, which ran contrary to his core beliefs, because of the pragmatic need to enlist Jewish and American support in the fight for Israel ’s existence (as well as his Machiavellian wish to outflank his main rival for global Zionist leadership, Nahum Goldmann by negotiating with the non-Zionist Blaustein). But Ben Gurion repeatedly violated his own promises, for reasons of political posturing but also because they were so difficult for him to swallow – only to retract his words whenever Blaustein found out.


Thus, in the wake of his inflammatory “kiss of death” and “abyss of assimilation” statement, Ben Gurion was forced to reconfirm his 1950 “exchange” with Blaustein in an even more formal 1961 “Ben Gurion–Blaustein Agreement” – mainly because he wanted Blaustein to speak on Israel’s behalf to President John Kennedy , who was then contemplating potentially harmful measures concerning Israel’s nuclear industry and the return of Palestinian refugees.


And even though Ben Gurion was accused by his detractors of agreeing to a Faustian sell-out to American Jews, the blueprint he concluded with Blaustein worked out reasonably well for both sides, despite occasional glitches, though it has also undergone gradual but ultimately significant changes. Blaustein, for example, would have been horrified to hear Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declare, as he did in his speech before Congress in May of this year, “I speak on behalf of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.” Blaustein had specifically demanded, and Ben Gurion had agreed, not to speak “on behalf of the Jewish people”, lest this buttress the accusations of “dual loyalty” regularly hurled by anti-Semites at American Jews.


As for the concept of Israel as a “Jewish state”, which has now become such a central demand in the Israeli and Jewish discourse on the peace process , it is indeed ironic that Blaustein’s representatives from the American Jewish Committee, who had been invited to voice their opinion on various aspects of a constitution that Israel had sought to enact when it was established, actually boasted of their success in removing the term “ Jewish state ” from the final drafts of the constitution – that was never enacted – and replacing it with the term “State of Israel.”


‘Bring them back home’


As for the commercials themselves, and the surprisingly vehement reaction to them, I am of two minds. On the one hand, the Americans who are objecting, including the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg , do “protest too much,” as Gertrude says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, possibly because some of the situations portrayed in the commercials hit too close to home; possibly because the protestors fail to acknowledge or comprehend that Israelis who have immigrated abroad may indeed be prone to faster assimilation than American-born Jews; and just possibly because this is a good opportunity as any to vent some pent up anger at the current Israeli government without being automatically accused of “aiding Hamas and Hezbollah” or some such chauvinistic drivel.


On the other hand, one cannot ignore the insularity and self-centeredness that makes a growing number of Israeli politicians, government officials and opinion makers obtuse or oblivious to the effects of their actions on world public opinion, in general, and American Jews, in particular. Despite being forewarned, for example, so many members of the Knesset either couldn’t comprehend or couldn’t care less that the recent wave of anti-democratic legislation introduced to the Israeli parliament might alienate large swathes of liberal-minded American Jews.


Indeed, sometimes one suspects that for members of Israeli’s current ruling coalition, many of whom hail from distinctly non-democratic backgrounds and represent expressly anti-democratic constituencies, the estrangement and perhaps even the exclusion of American or Israeli Jews who support “leftist” policies or espouse “liberal” values (such as “human rights”, in quotation marks) is not simply “collateral damage” in the pursuit of loftier ideological goals – it is the end itself, the desired result, the outcome that they had intended to achieve in the first place.


As some of the reactions in Israel’s right-wing and religious blogosphere in the past 24 hours make abundantly clear, even if that was not their original intention, the misunderstood television commercials could still achieve a righteous aim by distancing “assimilationist” Jews from Israel and thus advancing the sacred goal, inspired by Deuteronomy, Chapter 23, to “let our camp be pure,” Amen.


Follow me on Twitter @ChemiShalev


8.  Today in Palestine

Dec.1, 2011

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Naziyahu cancels controversial ad campaign to bring back IsraHell expats from the U.S.


VIDEO: ADL has called campaign demeaning to American Jewry; Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.: PM had no knowledge of initiativeץ

By Barak Ravid


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to discontinue a controversial Immigration and Absorption Ministry campaign in the United States aimed at convincing expatriate Israelis to return, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Friday.

The campaign, which warns Israelis that if they continue to live in the United States, they or their children are likely to become assimilated, has raised the ire of American Jewish groups.

The JTA quoted a statement by Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States, who said that “the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused.”

In the statement, Oren admitted the campaign was a laudable one,” adding that it was conducted “without the knowledge or approval of the Prime Minister’s Office or of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Prime Minister Netanyahu, once made aware of the campaign, ordered the videos immediately removed from YouTube, and he ordered that the billboards be removed as well. The prime minister deeply values the American Jewish community and is committed to deepening ties between it and the State of Israel.”

The drive began at the end of September with billboards in cities with large concentrations of Israelis, including New York, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. The messages included “Before Hanukkah turns into Christmas, it’s time to come back to Israel,” and “Before Abba turns into Daddy, it’s time to come back to Israel.”

The ministry then posted videos on its website and other websites with similar messages. One shows a set of Israeli grandparents, a menorah lit behind them, Skyping with their children and granddaughter in the United States. When the grandmother asks the girl if she knows what holiday it is and she answers “Christmas!” the four adults give each other worried looks.

Jewish activists and aides to both Jewish and non-Jewish members of Congress have been complaining to the Israeli consulates in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. For one thing, they said, the campaign could be viewed as degrading Christmas.

Over the past few days, as several columnists began to take critical note of the campaign, some Jewish leaders began to protest.

“We find these videos heavy-handed, and even demeaning,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL. “While we appreciate the rationale behind the Israeli government’s appeal to its citizens living in the U.S. to return to Israel, we are concerned that some may be offended by what the video implies about American Jewry.”

A senior Foreign Ministry official expressed dismay that a campaign that risked insulting American Jews had been mounted without consulting with his ministry.

“We only found out about it from the complaints that reached the consulates,” the official said.

The Foreign Ministry asked the Absorption Ministry for clarifications, and the answer it got was that the campaign was launched in response to surveys taken among Israelis who live in the United States, and that the feedback has been positive.

The Absorption Ministry said the campaign was not aimed at American Jews but at expatriate Israelis, and stressed that it “respects and appreciates the American Jewish community and recognizes its strong connection to Israel.”

Read this article in Hebrew: נתניהו הורה להפסיק קמפיין המזהיר ישראלים מהתבוללות

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At least somebody is talking about how Murdoch infects the US body politic

Posted: 02 Dec 2011


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Serco-run prison on isolated Australian island

Posted: 02 Dec 2011


My following investigation appeared in Crikey this week:

It was a Saturday night community event and could have been in any small Australian town. A fund-raiser was being held for the Thai floods victims and proceedings began with local boys and girls playing short classical pieces on an electric piano. The room was colourful with red tablecloths and a predominantly Chinese, Thai and Malay audience, with a smattering of white Anglos.

This was Christmas Island in November and I was there to visit the large detention centre run by British multinational Serco and the Immigration Department. With a population of about 1500, situated three-and-a-half hours from Perth and serviced by only one airline, Virgin, as an Australian satellite, the island should be a tourist Mecca. Warm weather, Buddhist temples on the coast, palm trees, beautiful vistas across the Indian Ocean, lush rainforests, coconuts falling from trees and unique birds all contribute to a tropical oasis.

But these facts ignore what the Australian government has created out of sight and out of mind. “Everybody thinks of us as a prison island,” a United Christmas Island Workers union member told me. “I travel to Australia or Asia and that’s all they say.”

Gordon Thomson, head of the United Christmas Island Workers union — currently leading a fight against CI’s phosphate mine owners over higher wage demands — said: “We shouldn’t lock people up; it’s like a prison here.”

Christmas Island is full of contradictions. One night I attended, with hundreds of others, an annual event at a Buddhist temple. Two shamans were flown in from Malaysia to bless the community. One, with detailed tattoos on his back and arms, sucked two dummies for five hours while handing out sweets to children. He and his colleague were apparently in a trance and kept the crowd transfixed while the Malay community provided massive helpings of rice, meat, water and beer for the assembled crowd. Large, colourful incense rockets lit the night sky with wisps of jumping fire.

During the evening, I spoke to a young teacher who worked with small children in detention on the island. He had arrived with high hopes of being able to change the system from within. He said Serco staff were friendly enough but told a revealing anecdote. His school had put together an induction manual and gave it to Serco to examine. The response was that some Serco staff were unable to complete the task because they couldn’t read or write.

The island’s biggest employer is now Serco, with most of the workers housed in ’70s style, low-rise apartment blocks. The island’s infrastructure, despite periodic Australian government funding, is lacking, and resentment towards Canberra was palpable. As more boats arrive — I saw two carrying 100 asylum seekers come into shallow waters — many residents told me they couldn’t understand why asylum seekers were being so well housed while they still waited on better and more affordable housing and job opportunities.

The Labor government’s island administrator, Brian Lacy, said he regularly asked Canberra for more resources and had hired a consultant to assist designing a tourist campaign to reframe the island as more than just a prison.

The detention centre is situated on the far side of the island, a long way from any habitation; my visits there required navigating around various road closures due to the current crab migration. During the March riots, footage of a burning detention centre shocked Australia and the world. Viewing that vantage point requires a short hike up a hill. Road access is now blocked, I was told, to deny media easy accessibility.

The vista was expansive and revealing. The amount of resources required to maintain such a centre — when prices on the island for even the most basic products grow exponentially — is extraordinary. Currently holding about 700 asylum seekers, from a peak of more than 3000 earlier this year, an Immigration Department spokeswoman told me the instruction from Canberra was now to maintain relatively low numbers to avoid over-crowding and rising tensions. Nobody sleeps in tents at the centre any more, a common occurrence in the past.

The feeling of isolation, similar to the Curtin detention centre, is key to the soaring mental health problems of staff and detainees. Sister Joan Kelleher, who lives on the island and daily visits detainees, told me she was against mandatory detention because she saw the effects it was having on the men she was seeing.

On the day that I encountered Sister Kelleher on the foreshore, she was accompanied by four Afghan Hazara men, ranging in age from 30s to 40s, who were allowed a few hours with the woman, wading in the ocean and cooking a barbecue of sausages, onions and bread rolls. They had all been in detention, in Darwin and on Christmas Island, for more than 20 months and were awaiting judicial reviews of their claims. They were all on anti-depressant medication and keen to tell me their stories about repression in the Pakistani town of Quetta, where their wives and children still lived in constant danger.

The following day, a few hours before I left, I was finally granted access inside the detention centre to see one Hazara Afghan (after initially being rejected by bureaucrats on the mainland and negotiating with the facility’s departmental manager). I was introduced to the head case manager, Sally, after being ushered through what she acknowledged was “a maximum security prison”. She later added: “If it was built more recently it would be different, softer, less like a jail.”

After passing through heavy security doors, we arrived in a compound of clinical meeting rooms. Sally said Mohammed (not his real name) would arrive shortly. In the meantime she said she was happy to answer any of my questions (by this stage I knew I was getting red-carpet treatment, if such a thing was possible.)

I asked if she believed privatised detention, companies designed to make a profit from asylum seekers, was preferable. Although Sally said there were problems, she said Serco was an essential partner because the public service simply wasn’t capable of handling security, “intel gathering” and other services unless “we hire many more people”.

It reflected something I saw in other centres across the country, the symbiotic relationship between DIAC and Serco: they can’t live without the other and support each other’s secretive culture.

Mohammed arrived and through a Farsi translator — who told me he was from Afghanistan and came by boat in 1999 — explained that he was very depressed after 22 months in detention. He barely made eye contact and looked down at his hands during our time together. He couldn’t go back to Pakistan for safety reasons but he said DIAC never gave any concrete details about his upcoming judicial review. He took six different anti-depressants daily.

*Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist currently working on a book about disaster capitalism

What Australia is doing to refugees in the middle of the steamy desert

Posted: 02 Dec 2011

My following investigation appeared in Crikey this week:

The drive from Broome in Western Australia to Derby, the town closest to the remote Curtin detention centre in the Kimberley, is two-and-a-half hours through endless, surprisingly green desert. Mobile phone reception soon dies after the journey begins and from there you see few people or cars for as far as the eye can see.

The roadhouse at Willare, a red, dusty stop close to Derby, has a BBQ, swimming pool and little else. There is overpriced water and food sitting in a bain-marie that looks like it has survived the apocalypse. This is where many Serco staff stay while working at the Curtin detention centre around an hour away — but there is little for them to do except drink and sleep between 12-hour shifts.

Derby has a population of around 3000 people. It is a depressing place, with temperatures close to 35 degrees and Aboriginal men and women catatonic and drunk at all hours of the day lying in parks. There is an indigenous suicide every fortnight in the town. I spent time with an Aboriginal man, living in an abandoned and dirty house on the outskirts of Derby, who told me through alcohol breath that he wasn’t aware refugees were imprisoned down the road but “I don’t like that they’re locked up”.

I recently stayed in the town for four days to visit detainees in Curtin and investigate the role of Serco and the Immigration Department in maintaining mandatory detention. Very few people visit Curtin due to its isolation so the detainees were pleased to see a friendly face and hear news from the outside world.

The federal government’s latest softening of long-term detention should alleviate some of this suffering though the relationship between DIAC and Serco will continue.

Curtin is situated inside an Australian Airforce Base, around 30 minutes drive from Derby, and can only be accessed by prior arrangement with Serco. Each day that I visited the heat reached 40 degrees and the humidity caused everybody to scurry under fans or air-conditioners. The former African refugee who manned the checkpoint into the centre — he worked for MSS, sub-contracted by Serco, and wore khaki shorts, shirt and felt khaki hat — checked our IDs, used a walkie-talkie to call his Serco superiors inside and soon waved us through.

Around 900 men are currently housed at Curtin and there are signs of the mental trauma many doctors and former detainees warned would occur if the Labor government re-opened under Serco management (as interviewees predicted to me in Crikey in May last year).

A recent report about Curtin released by Curtin University human rights academics Caroline Fleay and Linda Briskman,The Hidden Men, details countless examples of asylum seeker suffering mental trauma due to mandatory detention, contractor IHMS not providing adequate medical care and CCTV cameras recording counselling sessions, violating asylum seeker privacy.

The overwhelming sense of futility and bureaucratic ineptitude permeates Curtin. The Serco contract with the Australian government — recently revealed with colleague Paul Farrell in New Matilda  — explained the lack of training required by Serco staff. The profit motive of Serco ensures that the barest minimum of training is given to prospective workers. The company was fined nearly $15 million this month for failing to properly care for asylum seekers.

I saw evidence of this constantly during my time in Curtin. I had requested to visit, with plenty of notice, a number of detainees from a range of countries, including Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Many have received refugee status by the Australian government but are waiting indefinitely for security clearance from ASIO (a process without transparency or appeal).

One afternoon a Serco employee advised me that it would be possible to see more requested asylum seekers the next day but by morning, speaking to a different Serco staff, I was informed that it was impossible due to “security” reasons. “You should have given us more warning and it could have been arranged,” the manager said. Such stories are legendary, especially in remote centres, and often DIAC and Serco seemingly aim to refuse visitor requests to deliberately upset the isolated detainees. Such refusals, in such a remote location that sees barely any new or familiar faces, are against Serco and DIAC rules.

Curtin is a wind-swept centre with electrified fences and red dirt that seeps into your eyes, ears and shoes. Expansion plans appear imminent, with empty spaces for more compounds on the way. During the heat of the day, it’s virtually impossible to see anybody outside but by late afternoon, as the sun is setting and a cooler breeze hits the dirt, men start playing football and running around a make-shift, dirt mini-oval.

I was told throughout my visit that Serco staff were too busy to find other requested detainees in the various compounds and yet I saw Serco employees sitting around strumming a guitar and sitting in a large air-conditioned mess room, watching quietly with the asylum seekers while I spoke to them for hours daily.

Occasional excursions outside the centre take the asylum seekers to Derby but one Tamil told me that he found it grimly amusing that a proposed location was the Derby jail, hardly an appropriate place for people who are already in jail.

Most of the Serco staff are fly in, fly out — though as one local told me, “fit in or f-ck pff”, such is the feeling towards those who contribute little to the community and force prices up — and the attitude to asylum seekers is very mixed. One man, Brian, said that he had worked in Curtin during the Howard years, lived in Perth and now came to Curtin for short stints of well-paid work. As he walked me to a compound on the far side of the centre to see the asylum seekers, dubbed the “Sandpit”, he told me that: “We treat them better than many people on the outside. We feed them and give them lawyers. It’s us, the staff, who have it tough, having to sometimes be abused and assaulted by the ‘clients’.” This attitude was pervasive inside Curtin.

I spent time with two Tamil asylum seekers, both in their 20s, both proficient in English and both remarkably aware of Australian culture and history. When they arrived on Christmas Island, volunteers taught them about the White Australia policy, Ned Kelly, multiculturalism, Australia Day, the Stolen Generations and the Kevin Rudd apology to indigenous people. One had even seen and loved the Rolf De Heer film set in Arnhem Land, 10 Canoes, while still in Colombo.

Both men told me that every day somebody inside detention tried to self-harm or kill themselves and the mental state of many friends was troubling. They were given no time-line for final decisions on security clearances though in the last few days had both just received bridging visas.

Boredom was an enemy that was fought by going to the gym, downloading movies from the internet or calling home, though this was one of the major factors, one Tamil said, for men to break down because families simply couldn’t understand why their sons and husbands seeking asylum were locked up for endless months.

*Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist currently working on a book about disaster capitalism

Guess how many Israelis really think there’s equality between Jews and Arabs?

Posted: 02 Dec 2011

Interesting figures about the Israeli and Palestinian communities (via IPS) that prove how few Jews living there actually have any interest in true equality between the peoples:

A clear majority of Israeli Jews would support a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, even if it meant that Israel too would have to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

This was the most surprising result to come out of a pair of polls conducted separately on Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. The polls, conducted in November by Professor Shibley Telhami and presented Thursday at the Brookings Institution, covered a range of topics, from the Arab Spring to perceptions of the United States and hopes for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

While 90 percent of Israeli Jews believe Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, 63 percent prefer that neither country possess nuclear weaponry, while only 19 percent would prefer they both do, if those are the only two choices.

By a narrow margin of 43 to 41 percent, Israeli Jews support the idea of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Sixty-eight percent of Arab Israelis oppose such an attack, with only four percent saying they support it.

The poll also revealed that most Israeli Jews believe that the Arab Spring will negatively impact their own country, largely because they do not believe it will bring democracy to the Arab world.

When asked how the Arab Spring will affect Israel, 51 percent responded “mostly for the worse”, with only 15 percent saying it would change things for the better. Twenty-one percent said it would make no difference.

Yet, when asked “If the Arab Spring does, in fact, lead to more democracy in the Arab world…” 44 percent thought this would be better for Israel, with only 22 percent saying it would be worse and 28 percent saying it would make no difference.

Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea, responding to the presentation of Telhami’s polls, noted that, “The Israeli people are made more fearful of the Arab Spring” by government and media warnings that it will increase hostility toward Israel.

The poll of Palestinian citizens of Israel revealed some sharp changes on key issues from only a year ago.

When asked if they would “accept the transfer of some Arab/Palestinian towns currently in Israel to a new Palestinian state”, 78 percent responded that they would not accept such a transfer, with only 17 percent saying they would. That is a clear shift from 2010, when 58 percent said they would oppose such a transfer while 36 percent would accept it.

There was also a strong shift toward compromise on the question of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the lands from which they were exiled. In 2010, 57 percent of Arab Israelis said the right of return “could not be compromised away”, while 28 percent said it was “important, but a compromise should be found” and 11 percent said it was “not too important”.

In the current poll, the plurality shifted and now 57 percent are in favour of compromise, 34 percent say it cannot be compromised and only five percent say it is not too important.

Telhami was unsure about the reasons for the drastic shift in opinion on this issue. He did say, however that, “Those who had refugees in their families were much more inclined not to compromise than those who did not.”

The polls also showed a stark contrast between Arab and Jewish citizens in the perceptions of the status of Arabs in Israel. While majorities in both groups (52 percent of Jews, 57 percent of Arabs) believe that, “There is legal equality but institutional and societal discrimination” against the Arab minority, 36 percent of Arabs believe that the relationship between Jews and Arab in Israel “is an apartheid relationship”.

While only seven percent of Jews subscribe to that view, 33 percent of Jews believe there is “full equality between Arab and Jewish citizens” in Israel, but a mere three percent of Arabs share that view.

Jewish Israelis hold little hope for a resolution of the conflict in the near future, with only six percent saying it will be resolved in the next five years. Forty-nine percent believe it will never be resolved, while 42 percent say that it eventually will be, but it will take more than five years.

There is a widespread consensus among Israeli Jews that Israel must be recognised as a Jewish state, something the Palestinian Authority has adamantly refused to do. Thirty-nine percent insist such recognition must be a precondition of negotiations or a settlement freeze, while 40 percent are willing to accept that recognition as part of a final peace agreement. Only 17 percent do not support the demand for recognition as a Jewish state.

The real financial contagion explained

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 06:25 AM PST

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Zionist Tony  Greenstein

Atzmon’s and Friends Set Out to Destabilise the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Historically the Zionist movement has sought to associate anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians with ‘anti-Semitism’. Atzmon is determined to prove the truth of such allegations. Some people have suggested that Atzmon, like his friend Israel Shamir, is an Israeli state agent. One thing is clear. He is worth his weight in gold to Israel’s hasbara. If he isn’t being paid by Shin Bet then he has a good case for unpaid wages, because every time he opens his mouth the Zionist find it difficult to contain their glee.

The work of PSC Branches and activists, up and down the country, has been disrupted by Atzmon and his supporters. Everywhere they seek to divert effort from BDS and solidarity work to ‘the Jews’. Everywhere they fail, but not without causing significant disruption.

Harry’s Place, the notoriously racist anti-Muslim site, which shares a common agenda with the English Defence League, is besides itself with glee at the work of Atzmon. For example in an article Gill Kaffash, The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Camden Council and Gilad Atzmon the utterances of Gill Kaffash, the newly resigned Secretary of Camden PSC, are spelt out.

Yet the increasingly deranged Lauren Booth, who all of us respected at the time of the Iraq War for speaking out against her war criminal brother-in-law, is happy to supply the Zionists with further copy. In Palestine Solidarity Campaign in unholy alliance with Israeli mouthpiece and UK Zionist website Booth has this to say:

‘Gill Kafesh, until recently the popular secretary of the Camden branch of the PSC, was “asked to resign by a small group, who made the decision at a special meeting” this autumn. On Harry’s Place, Kafesh is listed as (guess what?) “a supporter of Holocaust denial”. She denies the slur.’

She may well deny ‘the slur’. Nonetheless it is true. In an article ‘My Life as a Holocaust Denier’ Paul Eisen recalls that when he ‘came out’ as a holocaust denier he was disowned by most people ‘but there were some who openly and repeatedly demonstrated their solidarity e.g. Dan McGowan, Henry Herskovitz, Gilad Atzmon, Sarah Gillespie, Israel Shamir, Francis Clark-Lowes, Gill Kaffash, Amjad Taha, Randa Hamwi Duwaji, Cambridge PSC, Rosemary Ernshaw, Fr. Michael Prior RIP, Ernst Zündel; Ingrid Rimland.’

In fact some of those on it – Rosemary Ernshaw and Fr. Michael Prior – were never supporters of Eisen and holocaust denial. Others like neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel and his wife Rimland certainly were. But also there is one Gill Kaffash. When I first saw this article, written in January 2008, I filed it away knowing that it made a number of false claims about people.

However in correspondence on 28th April 2011 Gill Kaffash, in an e-mail to activists stated that ‘Gilad Atzmon is very clear what he means by Jewishness. Come and hear him’. Debbie Fink took exception to the term ‘Jewishness’. In her response of 2nd May Kaffash complained that no one had explained to her why Atzmon was anti-Semitic. So on the same day I posted her an e-mail explaining that Eisen was a self-declared holocaust denier and cited Atzmon’s holocaust denial comments and the relevant quotations. On 7th May I reminded Kaffash that she had requested an explanation as to why Atzmon was anti-Semitic and yet she had gone unusually quiet. And so it was to be. When push comes to shove she has nothing (worthwhile) to say.

On 10th April 2011 I wrote to PSC Executive, referring them to e-mail discussions on the Brighton & Hove PSC list when Francis Clarke-Lowes had declared himself to be a holocaust denier. It should be pointed out that the reaction of local members of PSC to Lowe’s utterances were uniformly hostile. On 20th April Lowes was expelled by the officers of Brighton Branch, without any dissent by members.

I have had a number of disagreements with PSC Executive, as readers of this blog will confirm! However the reaction of PSC Executive and their Secretary Ben Soffa to the situation was quick and decisive. Frances Clarke-Lowes was unceremoniously expelled and although he has a right of appeal to the PSC AGM in January there is no doubt whatsoever that that decision will be upheld. In short there is no room at the Palestine Solidarity inn for holocaust or genocide deniers.

Equally welcome was the PSC Executive statement amending PSC’s aims to make what was previously implicit, holocaust denial, explicit.

In Bradford there has also been considerable disruption and diversion of energy as a result of the local Raise Your Banners group, once considered on the left, hosting Gilad Atzmon. It was originally booked at the Bradford Cathedral, but owing to slow sales of tickets was moved to a smaller venue. Nick Lowles, editor of the Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, which has previously been extremely supportive of Zionism under Gerry Gable, came out with an extremely fair report of this debacle. PSC distances itself from Raise Your Banners See also GILAD ATZMON: Supporting Holocaust Deniers and spreading hatred of Jews 

In Liverpool a Palestinian activist, Nahida, who was once the mainstay of the group, changed almost overnight when she married a sinister Dutchman. Jewish conspiracies took over her life and it was with difficulty that the branch reclaimed its website, which had posted links to her anti-Semitic website (‘Spiders Web’). Nahida wrote that ‘‘With my usual frankness I attempted to defend Atzmon and Eisen, explaining that in the writing of either men, I did not find any evidence supporting the allegations thrown against them i.e anti-Semitism or denial of the Holocaust.’ I commented on the blog explaining why both Atzmon and Eisen were anti-Semitic.

In Birmingham the Chair of Birmingham PSC, who interviewed me a number of times for Unity FM, a Muslim radio station, also became a convert to Atzmonism and holocaust denial. He was soon removed as an officer of the branch.


In Exeter the local Friends of Palestine group at the University held a meeting at which Atzmon was the star speaker. Exeter has been a problem branch for some time, with Roy Ratcliffe one of the most dedicated of Atzmon supporters. See Gilad Atzmon Finds Someone to Defend Him (Roy Ratcliffe) 

Naturally Atzmon and friends have fed off the disruption caused like vultures feeding off carrion. In a ‘review’ of David Landy’s new book ‘Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights – Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel’, Atzmon wrote of how

‘In the last few months in the UK, more and more exiled Palestinians and solidarity activists have been kicked out from PSC and other solidarity organisations, thanks to relentless pressure from the so-called ‘Israel Critical Jews’. Francis Clark- -Lowes, former Chair of the National PSC was thrown out of the PSC a few months ago due to demands mounted by the infamous Jewish activist Tony Greenstein. Admired Palestinian poet and writer Nahida Izatt was also cleansed . This time it was no Israeli or a ‘Zionist’ who barred her from her local Palestinian solidarity group – it was a Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Greg Dropkin who had been harassing her and other intellectuals for years. A similar fate was awaiting Gill Kaffash, an admired London activist, who was asked to resign from being Camden PSC’s Secretary. Sammi Ibrahem, Palestinian activist and radio journalist, originally from Gaza,was Chair of Birmingham PSC – at least he was, until he too was expelled due to Jewish ‘anti’-Zionist pressure.

The ‘Shoah – Palestinian Holocaust’ site , which is run by Atzmon or his devotees, in an article of 23.9.11. Palestine Solidarity Campaign PSC surenderd to Zio-Nazi Harry Place and J lobby pressure we are treated to a series of e-mails describing the plight of the hard pressed anti-Semite and holocaust denier facing expulsion and ostracism in the Palestine solidarity movement.

In his own contribution ‘PSC has made it’ of 23.9.11. Atzmon takes pleasure in the disruption and divisions he is causing. We are told that ‘UK PSC is now approved by the notorious UK hard core Zionist Jewish Chronicle (JC).’ And why? Because PSC had “amended its statement of purpose expressly to include a denunciation of Holocaust denial.” Atzmon purports to being ‘puzzled’.

Atzmon does not even know what holocaust denial can mean. ‘Can one deny’ he asks, ‘a historical chapter?’ In the course of many e-mails and what purports to be a discussion between Atzmon and myself, one thing I have learnt is that not only is Atzmon far more stupid than he gives himself credit for, but he also has a terrible memory, probably caused by imbibing certain substances. Yet even Atzmon can’t, I asked myself, be that stupid or forgetful.

After all when he performed for the SWP, he actually denied that he was a holocaust denier! He wrote on 21.6.05. that ‘This is to confirm that I am not a Holocaust denier, I have never denied the Nazi Judeocide and I do not have any intentions to do so. For me racism and Nazism are categorically wrong and it is that very realisation that made me into a devoted opponent of Israel and Zionism.’ Even more relevant than Atzmon’s coke ridden brain cells is the simple fact that of course it is possible to deny the holocaust. Just as it is possible to deny the Nakba, the Armenian Genocide and many other similar massacres. Indeed the deniers of the Nakba bear a distinct resemblance to holocaust deniers. Both use outright denial, despite the overwhelming evidence, to justify their barbarities.

Atzmon seems to think it is a sign that PSC has sold out that the Jewish Chronicle reported the fact that PSC had amended its statement of aims on its website to include: “Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement.” Strange that when I would have thought that such an obvious anti-racist statement should have been welcomed.

The fact that PSC has admittedly come under pressure, because of the views held by a tiny minority of its members, doesn’t mean it has caved into Zionist demands. The fact is that holocaust denial is death to Palestine solidarity and PSC are more than aware of this fact. Likewise the fact that the Jewish Chronicle mentioned that ‘the move has been welcomed by Jewish anti-Zionists such as Tony Greenstein.’ should be welcomed. What would be worrying would be if the Zionists were attempting to ‘prove’ that Atzmon’s views represented anyone but himself and a small coterie around him. In particular, it would be worrying if it was seriously suggested that PSC somehow endorses Atzmon. It doesn’t and won’t.

Putting on his best mask, Atzmon assures that although not a member of PSC ‘I would like the PSC to be strong and effective.’ Yes Gilad, and kosher pigs really do fly!

But the most hysterical and vitriolic of all the contributions comes from one Lauren Booth on 26.11.11. In her article Palestine Solidarity Campaign in unholy alliance with Israeli mouthpiece and UK Zionist website Booth raises a call to arms by the Atzmonites as they realise that the bluff of their supporters has been called. She seems to have been particularly riled by the dissociation by PSC from any support or involvement in the Bradford concert by Atzmon. Booth wrote [Three people in this marriage. The PSC, the JC and Harry’s Place], (26.11.11.)

‘This week, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) revealed itself to be ethically compromised at the highest level.
In recent months it has become clear that the central office of the PSC is increasingly pandering to the whims of Israeli hasbara – or propaganda – activists, joining with the likes of the rabid Zionist site Harry’s Place in efforts to silence some of this movement’s most outspoken and popular thinkers.’

As if this were not bad enough the next section is entitled ‘Sarah Colborne dives into the Zionist sewer’. Sarah, who was one of those who was on board the Mavi Marmara, whose testimony at the following press conference was moving to anyone who watched it. She was clearly traumatised by what had happened. It is quite outrageous to describe her as a Zionist. Normally this term of abuse is reserved for Jewish anti-Zionists because they are Jewish. For opposing anti-Jewish racism, Ms Colborne has been branded a Zionist. Thus proving the very point we have been making.

It used to be the case that the National Front and Greater Britain Movement would attack ‘Zionists’ when they meant ‘Jews’. ‘Zionist’ was a code word. Today they don’t bother doing that. Instead they leave the really heavy anti-semitic lifting to Gilad Atzmon and his useful idiot, Lauren Booth.

According to Booth, ‘this is not the first but the most recent in a shameful spate of expulsions and harassment of pro-Palestinian activists by the national office of the PSC.’The problem, apparently, is that ‘They [PSC] are attempting to create a pro-Palestinian organization that does not hurt Zionist sensibilities.’ And the result? They have ended up ‘In bed with the Islamophobic Zionist Harry’s Place’.

I mention this because I, more than anyone, have been critical of PSC because of its diplomatic orientation and its refusal to condemn Abbas and the Palestinian Authority or clearly come out against Histadrut or make a firm commitment in favour of a one-state, secular and democratic Palestine. However there is nothing that Booth, the paid scribe of Iran’s Press TV mentions that is at all critical of PSC’s political positions. Booth’s venomous attack is based on a core racist commitment.

Booth alleges that ‘Sarah Colborne and others have chosen to align with those whose interests lie in silencing debate on the precise nature of apartheid Israel and its root causes.’ It’s a strange accusation, not least because it is untrue. There are many criticisms that can be made of PSC, but this is not one of them.

Apparently the Jewish Chronicle ‘reported gleefully on PSC’s amended mission statement’ which condemned holocaust denial in its own right. I’m pleased it did. That means that whenever anyone doubts PSC’s viewpoint on anti-Semitism and the holocaust, they can refer back to the article. One wonders what Booth’s objection could possibly be. But no doubt the erudite half-sister of Cherrie Blair can tell us how holocaust denial is helpful to the Palestinian cause.

The question is what next to do. There is no doubt that the effect of the Zionist libel that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are one and the same has built support for Atzmon, who openly proclaims his anti-Semitism. It is also the case that Atzmon’s supporters tend to be Islamists, who have no tools of analysis bar Islam and are therefore prey to Atzmon’s subjective analysis. It also represents the despair of those who want to see the liberation of the Palestinians and see no end. There is a natural resentment against British Jews who support the horrific attacks of Israel on the Palestinians (& increasingly even Jewish citizens of Israel – witness the raft of Acts attacking basic democratic rights in Israel).

As Israel Shahak, the former Hebrew University Professor of Chemistry and survivor of Belsen-Bergson and the Warsaw Ghetto remarked, ‘The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew, and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew.” To be Jewish at the time of the attack on Gaza indeed made one feel ashamed, when innocent children and civilians were being butchered on the altar of Zionist expansionism. Ashamed at the fact that what was being done was being done in all of our names. But Gaza probably heralded a new stage in the struggle. Certainly in Britain, which contains one of the most devoted Jewish populations, the attendance at the Zionist war meeting in Trafalgar Square (4,000) was a fraction of previous turnouts.

If Atzmon were successful, it would only be to ensure that those Jews breaking from Zionism had second thoughts in view of the hostility to them of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Because the logic of Atzmon and Booth’s position is to picket not the Israeli Embassy but the local Jewish kindergarten.

PSC needs to take decisive action to root out, once and for all, those who evince sympathy for racism – of whatever description. And that includes the expulsion of Kaffash and Atzmon’s most devoted supporters. This isn’t a call for a witch-hunt. It is natural that people will occasionally refer to ‘Jews’ rather than ‘Zionists’. After all that is how Israel justifies its actions. The blurring of the distinction between being Jewish and Zionism is the effect of constant propaganda in this society. But those who evince sympathy with Hitler’s aims and fascism or deny that extermination was among his ‘achievements’ have no place in the Palestine solidarity movement.

It is no accident that nearly all of the far-Right and fascist parties in Europe [bar Hungary’s Jobbik and Germany’s NPD] are both racist and anti-Semitic and pro-Zionist. Anti-Muslim hatred is more important than anti-Semitism. [See Israel’s anti-Semitic Friends]

But there is also a crying need for greater internal education within PSC so that these issues don’t continually blow up. E.g. how many people realise that the first Zionists were non-Jewish imperialists or that the descriptions that the Zionists used about Jewish people were even more anti-Semitic than the anti-Semites or that they myths about Zionism, such as that Herzl was converted to Zionism by the Dreyfuss Trial are just that – myths.

But there is also one more thing that can be done. But only Palestinians can do it. Too many Palestinian intellectuals – e.g. Ramzy Baroud and Samir Abed Rabbo – have given comfort to Atzmon and supported his initiatives. Their stupidity beggars beliefs. These are people who are the most privileged Palestinians. They above all should understand that historically Zionism has always been helped by anti-Semitism. Even today, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj al-Amin Husseini, and his support for Hitler, is used to justify Israel and Zionism. The Mufti’s stupidity did more to help the Zionist cause than anything the current Netanyahu cabinet could manage. To visit Yad Vashem, the Zionists’ propagandistic holocaust memorial museum, one would think that next to Hitler, the Mufti was the major war criminal of Nazi Germany rather than the most minor and pathetically ineffectual individual that he actually was.

Yet Baroud, Rabbo and Makram Khoury-Machool seem determined to learn nothing and forget nothing. I have personally written to a number of progressive and leftist Palestinian intellectuals, such as Joseph Massad (from whom I’ve heard nothing whatsoever) but it is fair to say that people are keeping their heads down, hoping that things will blow over.

Yet if history teaches one thing it is that racism doesn’t go away of its own accord. There is a need for a forthright stance that makes it clear that no one benefits from anti-Semitism in the Palestine solidarity movement as much as the Zionists themselves. Indeed there is no better article on the subject than Joseph Massad’s article Semites and anti-Semites, that is the question in Al Ahram of 9.12.04. which is subtitled ‘Today the real victims of Western anti-Semitism are Arabs and Muslims.




”People like you, Mr. Greenstein, should be put in preventive custody!’’ 

Dr: Gabi Weber

This is an long exchange e-mail between Gilad Atzmon and Zionist Tony Greenstein before you read it I copied an e-mail sent by Dr Gabi Weber her e-mail shed the light on Zionist Greenstein true nature it is for you to judge not for us.

Subject: Re: Stop bothering!!!!

Hello Mr. Greenstein,

as physician, working with all kinds of patients for years now, I am used to many different symptoms, diseases, psychological disorders and so on. Fortunately until now I never before was involved in dirty games and tricks as I am experiencing in the emails you are sending for days now. Even the mentally sickest of my patients I ever had, was not as sick as you are!

And to say it clear – KEEP ME OUT OF YOUR MAD INTRIGUES!

My time is too precious to deal with people who are obviously full of hatred, only aiming at destroying other people´s lifes.

Really, I have pity for you. What kind of life must this be, to spend years over years by trying to demolish the career of a person and to see that all the efforts are leading to nothing? On the contrary, the person you try to destroy is getting more and more popular and successful. What a shame for you!

Your behaviour proves exactly, what is happening in the so-called Palestinian Solidarity Movement. We are infiltrated with dirty Hasbara, this is very clear.

Perhaps you should try to find something beautiful for your life? You could try to use your talents, which you certainly have but that you bury under tons of hate and negative energy. Imagine if you simply tried to take all this energy you need for the attempts to destroy Gilad Atzmon and did something positive with it. Perhaps we already would have a Palestinian State?????

As I told you in my last email, I am very attentive in what is happening around my Freiburg conference. In case I get any information of your ongoing attempt to bother my speakers I will start publicizing everything.

Best wishes

Dr. Gabi Weber


Atzmon vs Greenstein

From: Gilad Atzmon

To: tony greenstein

Sent: Wed, 3 August, 2011 10:06:08

Subject: Re: Conference on Historical Revisionism

TG: Yes of course you can have competing narratives. One which says there was a holocaust but there are many things we will never fully understand about it or one which says there was no such thing or ‘only’ a few hundred thousand Jews died of typhus. I suspect I know which one you subscribe to.

GA: I actually do not have any interest in issues to do with numbers , pornography of death or Holocaust necrophilia, I am after the meaning of the shoa, and as you may know, meanings are in flux.

TG: Yes I know that issues of truthfulness are more complicated than the 3 bears but the principle remains the same. Is the holocaust, the decimation of 10m Africans in the Congo, the slave trade etc. just a narrative or is it firmly grounded factually? Otherwise we just get into word games.

GA: You obviously do not understand what the word narrative stands for. There is no contradiction between the notion of the narrative and factuality. The narrative is manner in which facts are picked and set into a tale.

TG: I am fully aware of what the conditional ‘if’ means. To be precise it means you cast doubt on something,

GA: Nonsense, you are simply not familiar with hypothetical manner of speech. You are under developed for you age. It is not a crime but nothing to be proud of.

TG: So when you say ‘if Auschwitz was a death camp’ or some such you are casting doubt on that fact.

GA: Try to concentrate-there is a contradiction between the H narrative and the ‘death march’ one . If the Nazis wanted the Jews out, why did they schlepped them back?

Please come with an answer? Also, please enlighten me and suggest how to pronounce the paradox above without using the word ‘if’.

TG: When you say ‘ if 2+2=4 then 2+1+1=4′ then that certainly casts doubt on whether 2+2=4 otherwise you would just come out and say 2+2=4 therefore 2+1+1 also = 4

GA: No Tony, this is called implication. A conditional manner of speech. the 2 statments have different meanings. I guess that you have to learn deductive logic so you realise that ‘if -then’ is a pretty basic formula of argumetation known as P->Q

TG: I am aware of the purpose of the IF statement, having done Mathematics at degree level.

GA: Tony, don’t bulshit me with your phantasmic degrees. Along the many press clips about your vast criminal record (shoplifting, credit card theft, vandalism and so on) I came across one clip that says that you were kicked out from university for being a vandal. Knowing you as a compulsive liar, I suggest that we stay at argument level. Please don’t wave the qualifications you do not have. Also if you would have a degree in math, you would know what the world ‘if’ stand for and how is it used.

TG: So when, to use your example, one says ‘If X then Y’ then of course there is a question mark over whether X exists in the form posited.

You give the example of ‘If the sun is larger than earth and the earth is larger than the moon then the sun is larger than the moon.’

No of course you are not doubting the existence of the sun but you are questioning whether it is larger than the earth. That is the logical statement in question and that is the context.

GA: Again you are not familiar with hypothetical manner of speech. We call it a logical deductive move, it doesn’t involve doubt.

Let us look at the following obvious example

If X=Y and Z=Y then X=Z

The above suggest an implication rather than a doubt. Also do you really think that when I say 2+2=4 I cast a doubt?

I must admit that this is the first time I run a philosophical debate with a moron. It is an amazing experience. I sometime under estimate your stupidity.

TG: So when you say. If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein – free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?’

You are doubting the Nazis wanted the Jews out of the Reich, because after all, according to your logic, if they wanted them out why did they march them back in?

GA: I suggest that the two narrative cannot live together within the same historical setting unless an explanation is provided. I ve the explanation… but what is your explanation tony?

TG: Likewise if you say. ’If the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war?’

The clear implication is that Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a death factory, otherwise why would Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? The Stockholm Syndrome?

GA: No this suggests a discrepancy at the heart of the discourse. If Jews were aware of Nazi homicidal inclinations, how come they joined them at the end of the war as Holocaust scholar Israel Gutman suggests? Again please explain it to me , you may also argue that Gutman is a liar or idiot. I don’t really care… but just try to come up with something..

TG: And you confirm this interpretation by asking for ‘some conclusive historical evidence.’ Nothing metaphysical mind you!

GA: You still do not understand what metaphysics stands for. There is no contradiction between evidence and metaphysics.

TG: ‘We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative…’

I am not a member of any synagogue, left or right. You really can’t help the anti-Semitic stuff. It’s second nature I’m afraid.

GA: You are not just a member, you are a failure Rabbi, with an extremely small congregation of people who must be just slightly more limited than yourself..

TG: Likewise the fact of the holocaust is neither a narrative nor religion. A religion means it is unquestioning.

GA: As far as I can see, you invest a lot of energy trying to stop others and myself, in particular, from questioning H and other Jewish narratives. So it is a religion and you are a leading cantor (as well as a Rabbi). You cry for heaven day and night, praying for Gilad to be stopped.

TG: There are many questions concerning the holocaust in the widest sense but you ask none of them and instead stick to the agenda of neo-Nazis and revisionists of doubting whether it happened.

GA: Tony, trying to label me won’t solve your problem. And why do you stop with neo Nazi? What about pedophilia? For the record, I am not associated with any group or school of thought. I advocate freedom of speech. And I indeed support any form of revisionism. I am not afraid of thoughts or ideas, I am far more concerned with tribal morbidity as performed by you and your ilk. And as you know, I am very good in exposing it. You will find out very soon soon that my take on the subject is endorsed by the biggest scholars in the Pls discourse.

TG: This is dump stupidity or malevolence or both. There are all sorts of questions. I mentioned Daniel Goldhagen. He raises many issues, all of them reactionary, about the knowledge of ordinary Germans, their indifference etc. There is considerable research in this area. Comparative history is helpful, but you are stuck with the basics because you can’t get it into your head that there is no doubt about the mass exterminations of the Nazis.

GA: So if I understand you correctly, you now plan to tell us what we are allowed to ask… how progressive of you.

TG: There is too much evidence. Did Rauf ever deny he was involved in the development of the gas trucks? Was the ‘euthenasia’ denied? Grow up and start dealing with the things that researchers, some of whom are not Zionists, are doing.

GA: Tony, all of that, has nothing to do with my body of work or research. I argue that history is the art of revising the past. You are against it, Judaism is against it. You operate politically as a Jew, is it a coincidence? I don’t think so! You are simply a Zionist amd a rabid one.

TG: In the conflict between anti-Zionists like Vrba and the collaborationist Zionists you not only have nothing to say but you appear to justify the role of the Zionists.

GA: I am familiar with Vrba report, but the reaction to the report is also very interesting. However, I m not interested in the imaginary debate between Zionists and the so called ‘anti’ Zionists. I am much more interested in the exposure of this debate as a spin of fake pluralism.

TG: Your whole framework, Jew=Zionist, left Jew = more Zionist is crude and counterproductive.

GA: Please be precise. I do not talk about Jews. I say that everyone who identify politically as a Jew is a Zionist. You, for instance operate politically as a Jew and you are indeed a rabid Zionist. Interestingly enough you act like ADL and Hasbara. Only one difference is noticeable, unlike ADL, you are pretty clumsy and astonishingly lame. I guess your operators will have to send someone slightly more sophisticated and soon. It is a shame, because by now, it is almost fun dealing with you.


It is a scholarly and truly monumental work, deeply profound and, of course, controversial. (Alan Hart, British Journalist and covert diplomat in Middle East, ITN’s News at 10, BBC’s Panorama) A seriously funny writer and the wittiest musician since Ronnie Scott. We’re lucky Gilad Atzmon is around. (Robert Wyatt, musician and founding member of Soft Machine)

An investigation of Jewish identity politics and Jewish contemporary ideology using both popular culture and scholarly texts. Jewish identity is tied up with some of the most difficult and contentious issues of today. The purpose in this book is to open many of these issues up for discussion.

Since Israel defines itself openly as the ‘Jewish State’, we should ask what the notions of ’Judaism’, ‘Jewishness’, ‘Jewish culture’ and ‘Jewish ideology’ stand for. Gilad examines the tribal aspects embedded in Jewish secular discourse, both Zionist and anti Zionist; the ‘holocaust religion’; the meaning of ‘history’ and ‘time’ within the Jewish political discourse; the anti-Gentile ideologies entangled within different forms of secular Jewish political discourse and even within the Jewish left.

He questions what it is that leads Diaspora Jews to identify themselves with Israel and affiliate with its politics. The devastating state of our world affairs raises an immediate demand for a conceptual shift in our intellectual and philosophical attitude towards politics, identity politics and history.


* See:








The Ugly Truth

Attorneys for Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968, have asked that he be released from prison, alleging that he was a victim of “mind-control” and never actually shot Kennedy.

Less than a week after the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Sirhan’s lawyers have presented their own Kennedy conspiracy theory, alleging that in Sirhan’s 1969 trial the court ignored evidence that there were actually two shooters in RFK’s assassination. Sirhan’s legal team is also arguing that the revolver found on Sirhan was not responsible for the gunshots that killed Kennedy.

“Though the practice of hypno programming/mind control is hardly new, the public has been shielded from the darker side of the practice,” Sirhan’s court filings say. “The average person is unaware that hypnosis can and is used to induct antisocial conduct in humans.”

Attorneys William F. Pepper and Laurie D. Dusek argue that Sirhan at least deserves a new trial, alleging that the original 1969 proceeding were marred by fraud when the court allowed a substitute bullet to be used in place of the real bullet removed from Kennedy’s neck.

In addition, Sirhan’s attorneys say recently discovered audio recordings provide evidence that as many as thirteen gun shots were fired at the time of Kennedy’s assassination assassinated. As CNN explains, the details get even stranger from there:

The attorneys further assert that Sirhan was hypno-programmed to be a diversion for the real assassin and allege that Sirhan would be easily blamed for the assassination because he is an Arab. Sirhan, 67, is a Christian Palestinian born in Jerusalem whose parents brought him and his siblings to America in the 1950s.

Sirhan “was an involuntary participant in the crimes being committed because he was subjected to sophisticated hypno programming and memory implantation techniques which rendered him unable to consciously control his thoughts and actions at the time the crimes were being committed,” court papers said.

The California attorney general’s office has so far declined to comment on Sirhan’s court filings.

Sirhan Sirhan has long claimed that he cannot remember the actual assassination. Harvard Medical School hypno-programming expert Daniel Brown recently worked with Sirhan, claiming to successfully help him remember the assassination for the first time. Brown says Sirhan claims that due to “mind control,” Sirhan believed he was at a gun range shooting at circular targets.

Pepper and Dusek also represented Sirhan during his recent unsuccessful attempt to win parole from Pleasant Valley state Prison in Coalinga, California, where he is currently serving a life sentence.


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