Archive | April 9th, 2012

Jewish film festival in hot water over sex-abuse documentary

NOVANEWS

JTA says noted producer Scott Rosenfelt livid after LA festival labels documentary about sexual abuse in Orthodox community ‘witch hunt’

ed note–the following is prima facie evidence as to why the jewish community remains such a backwards, dysfunctional group amongst all the world’s various communities.

As is evident in the worldwide press on a daily basis, organized Jewish interests are willing to dabble in ANYTHING except criticism of themselves, and even when it involves something as EGREGIOUS AND EVIL as sexual abuse of children. The maker of the documentary was not attacking Judaism or the Jewish commnuity as a whole, but rather a particular Orthodox community in Baltimore.

And yet, despite victim after victim after victim coming forward to testify what happened to them, despite police reports amile high and convictions, etc, this is a tabboo topic.  

Judaism is a criminal protection racket where the Rabbis enjoy ‘most protected status’ and are basically free to engage in whatever kind of criminality they want without fear of backlash. And if they can get away with this on a level as small as a singular Orthodox community in Baltimore, we can JUST IMAGINE what they get away with on a global level.

ynet

Producer Scott Rosenfelt is threatening to take legal action against the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival after its director, Hilary Helstein, called his film a “witch hunt,” JTA reported.

Rosenfelt, whose credits include blockbusters such as “Home Alone” and “Mystic Pizza,” submitted “Standing Silent” – a film about sexual abuse in Baltimore’s Orthodox community – to the festival, and was rejected.

The film is slated to be screened at several Jewish film festivals across the United States.

According to the report, after viewing the film, Helstein sent an email to other Jewish film festival directors in which she said that while the film was well made, her festival’s team chose to reject it over its subject matter.

“Our committee felt the film was a ‘witch hunt.’ We all show different things and each community has a different level of tolerance,” she wrote.

“Our committee felt that a community that reveres its rabbis, this was not something they wanted to show. I just wanted to put a warning sticker on this one so that you are aware.”

Tainted considerations?

Rosenfelt slammed the correspondence as “the most unprofessional act” he has seen in his career.

“The idea that a festival director would go behind the back of a filmmaker and do this gives me great pause to ever recommend your festival to anyone,” the JTA quoted Rosenfelt’s email to Helstein.

“As you know, I’ve produced films… so I know a couple of people in the business. I plan on letting EVERYONE I know to stay away from you and your festival, because you are clearly not someone who supports filmmakers.” 

He further called her “a disgrace to Judaism, and not only that, a disgrace to all humanity.”

Rosenfelt further told the JTA that Helstein “was complicit in the kind of silence surrounding sexual abuse that his film aims to combat.”

The report said Helstein refused to comment, but quoted John Fishel, the festival’s chairman, as saying that the decision not to screen “Standing Silent” was made by a small group of volunteers on the selection committee, who “did not feel the film was appropriate to screen and worried that it would provoke controversy that would overshadow the film itself.”   Fishel further denied that Helstein was overly-influenced by the festival’s small and conservative donor base.

“I would reject that as an unfair characterization of both Hilary and the festival,” he said. “I think that they do a great job. I think that it’s getting better and better every year.”

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U.S. deploys aircraft carrier in Gulf, as West prepares for Iran nuclear talks

NOVANEWS

The battleships will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia’s coast and in the Gulf of Aden, and also patrol the Gulf’s strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions.

Haaretz

The U.S.­ Navy has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program, Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said Monday.

Derrick-Frost said that the deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the region.

Derrick-Frost says the two carriers will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia’s coast and in the Gulf of Aden.

The battleships will also patrol the Gulf’s strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions.

In late January, the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln completed a “regular and routine”, accompanied by strike group of warships. That the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf since late December and was on a routine rotation to replace the outgoingUSS John C. Stennis.

The deployment announced on Monday comes less than a week before world superpowers are set to open negotiations in Istanbul with the Islamic Republic over its contentious nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not agree to world powers imposing pre-conditions ahead of the resumption of talks, Iranian media reported on Monday.

“Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks,” the Iranian parliamentary news agency quoted him as saying.

But Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, has hinted that the Islamic Republic may offer a compromise.

At the core of the dispute is the issue of uranium enrichment. The West fears Tehran is seeking an atomic weapon, which the country denies. Uranium has to be enriched to more than 90 percent to be used for a nuclear weapon.

Abbasi told state TV late Sunday thatTehran could stop its production of 20 percent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, and continue enriching uranium to lower levels for power generation.

This could take place once Iran has stock piled enough of the 20 percent enriched uranium, Abbasi said.

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Special Zio-Nazi units preparing for mass Lebanon incursion if war breaks out with Hezbollah

NOVANEWS

Ground forces are expected to contribute much more than in 2006, when Israel relied mainly on the IAF, which would entail much more intense urban warfare.

ed note–LEST WE FORGET–

Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours, from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border…Deuteronomy 11:24

…From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border…Joshua 1:4

The upcoming ‘war against Hezbollah’ is about invading and stealing MORE LAND in pushing Israel’s borders out to where they are described in the Old Testament. 

Haaretz

Almost six years after the Second Lebanon War, special Israeli units are preparing to take part in mass incursions into Lebanon if another round of fighting with Hezbollah breaks out. Just as important, they are being trained to heed the legal implications.

Officers say the Israeli Air Force would destroy targets like training bases and rocket-launching pads within a few days, based on the intelligence gathered by the Israeli Defense Forces. But this would not be enough, so a ground offensive would be necessary.

“When you stick an [Israeli] flag [on enemy territory], there’s no question who won,” says a high-ranking officer who requested anonymity. “You need to seize a geographic space. This is the only way the concept of victory can be established.”

The IDF has been trying to improve its performance if hostilities resume, but so has Hezbollah. The Shi’ite organization has built fortified lines with underground command posts and improved operational capacity. Its rockets are hidden in better-camouflaged launching pads.

The ground forces are therefore expected to contribute much more to the war effort than in 2006, when Israel relied mainly on the IAF. This would entail much more intense urban warfare, with many civilians caught in the crossfire, and the attendant legal implications.

“Everything that we’ve seen with the flotillas, Operation Cast Lead and the implications in terms of international law have left a strong impression on us,” says Lt. Col. Sahar Abergil, commander of the special elite unit Yahalom. That unit specializes in bunker warfare and is likely to carry much of the military burden.

“I hope we’ll take [international law] into account during the fighting,” Abergil says.

Yahalom soldiers, along with the men and dogs of the IDF’s Oketz canine unit, finished a long training session last week.

“It’s not patrols or raids on Palestinians we’re simulating here, but a full-fledged war,” says Oketz’s commander, who gave his name as Sivan.

One of Oketz’s main tasks is to distinguish between militants and uninvolved civilians.

“Our dogs know how to spare civilians and home in on terrorists,” says Sivan, a captain. “How do they? That’s our secret.”

When closing in on a house where the enemy is thought to be hiding, the soldiers must order everyone to exit. Those who don’t come out are considered suspects, and the dogs soon get an order to attack.

According to Abergil, “Our goal is that the dogs won’t take on civilians. “That’s why we include pretend civilians in our drills, to show the soldiers that there are no hard-and-fast rules.”

He says the soldiers also discuss moral dilemmas that may have legal ramifications. For example, they are expected to cope if a woman wearing a coat and a little boy approach their post.

“Do they open fire? Do they shout? Do they wound them? Our soldiers understand that it might be a terrorist cynically exploiting a 5-year-old boy, and they’re supposed to try to find indications,” says Abergil.

“Could she be deaf? Or maybe blind and she’s being led by the boy? The army’s encounter with a civilian population is never simple, and there’s no way to master it fully. We’re trying to instruct the soldiers to use their discretion and common sense. At the end of the day, this is war.”

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New blast hits Egypt gas pipeline serving Jordan, IsraHell

NOVANEWS

CAIRO (Reuters) – An explosion hit the Egyptian pipeline carrying gas to Israel and Jordan on Monday for 14th time since the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak began last year, security sources said.

The blast took place in the northern Sinai at the entrance of the Mediterranean coastal town of Al-Arish. Residents in the city told Reuters they had heard the sound of the explosion.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the installation that crosses the increasingly volatile Sinai Peninsula. Security in Sinai was relaxed after the fall of Mubarak in 2011 as the police presence thinned out across Egypt.

The pipeline has been shut since an explosion on February 5.

Egypt’s 20-year gas deal with Israel, signed in the Mubarak era, is unpopular with some Egyptians, with critics accusing Israel of not paying enough for the fuel.

Previous explosions sometimes have forced weeks-long shutdowns along the pipeline run by Gasco, a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS.

Egypt said in November it would tighten security along the pipeline by installing alarms and recruiting security patrols from Bedouin tribesmen in the area.

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U.S. filmmaker repeatedly detained at border

NOVANEWS
BY GLENN GREENWAL
poitras

One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.

In an age of international travel — where large numbers of citizens, especially those involved in sensitive journalism and activism, frequently travel outside the country — this power renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment entirely illusory. By virtue of that amendment, if the government wants to search and seize the papers and effects of someone on U.S. soil, it must (with some exceptions) first convince a court that there is probable cause to believe that the objects to be searched relate to criminal activity and a search warrant must be obtained. But now, none of those obstacles — ones at the very heart of the design of the Constitution — hinders the U.S. government: now, they can just wait until you leave the country, and then, at will, search, seize and copy all of your electronic files on your return. That includes your emails, the websites you’ve visited, the online conversations you’ve had, the identities of those with whom you’ve communicated, your cell phone contacts, your credit card receipts, film you’ve taken, drafts of documents you’re writing, and anything else that you store electronically: which, these days, when it comes to privacy, means basically everything of worth.

This government abuse has received some recent attention in the context of WikiLeaks. Over the past couple of years, any American remotely associated with that group — or even those who have advocated on behalf of Bradley Manning — have been detained at the airport and had their laptops, cellphones and cameras seized: sometimes for months, sometimes forever. But this practice usually targets people having nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.

* * * * *

But the case of Laura Poitras, an Oscar-and Emmy-nominated filmmaker and intrepid journalist, is perhaps the most extreme. In 2004 and 2005, Poitras spent many months in Iraq filming a documentary that, as The New York Times put it in its review, “exposed the emotional toll of occupation on Iraqis and American soldiers alike.” The film, “My Country, My Country,” focused on a Sunni physician and 2005 candidate for the Iraqi Congress as he did things like protest the imprisonment of a 9-year-old boy by the U.S. military. At the time Poitras made this film, Iraqi Sunnis formed the core of the anti-American insurgency and she spent substantial time filming and reporting on the epicenter of that resistance. Poitras’ film was released in 2006 and nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

In 2010, she produced and directed “The Oath,” which chronicled the lives of two Yemenis caught up in America’s War on Terror: Salim Hamdan, the accused driver of Osama bin Laden whose years-long imprisonment at Guantanamo led to the 2006 Supreme Court case, bearing his name, that declared military commissions to be a violation of domestic and international law; and Hamdan’s brother-in-law, a former bin Laden bodyguard. The film provides incredible insight into the mindset of these two Yemenis. TheNYT feature on “The Oath” stated that, along with “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has produced ”two of the most searching documentaries of the post-9/11 era, on-the-ground chronicles that are sensitive to both the political and the human consequences of American foreign policy.” At the 2010 Sundance film festival, “The Oath” won the award for Best Cinematography.

Poitras’ intent all along with these two documentaries was to produce a trilogy of War on Terror films, and she is currently at work on the third installment. As Poitras described it to me, this next film will examine the way in which The War on Terror has been imported onto U.S. soil, with a focus on the U.S. Government’s increasing powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities (includingconstruction of a massive new NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah), its attacks on whistleblowers, and the movement to foster government transparency and to safeguard Internet anonymity. In sum, Poitras produces some of the best, bravest and most important filmmaking and journalism of the past decade, often exposing truths that are adverse to U.S. government policy, concerning the most sensitive and consequential matters (a 2004 film she produced for PBS on gentrification of an Ohio town won the Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy).

But Poitras’ work has been hampered, and continues to be hampered, by the constant harassment, invasive searches, and intimidation tactics to which she is routinely subjected whenever she re-enters her own country. Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every timeduring that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration). Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length about where she went and with whom she met or spoke. They have exhibited a particular interest in finding out for whom she works.

She has had her laptop, camera and cellphone seized, and not returned for weeks, with the contents presumably copied. On several occasions, her reporter’s notebooks were seized and their contents copied, even as she objected that doing so would invade her journalist-source relationship. Her credit cards and receipts have been copied on numerous occasions. In many instances, DHS agents also detain and interrogate her in the foreign airport before her return, on one trip telling her that she would be barred from boarding her flight back home, only to let her board at the last minute. When she arrived at JFK Airport on Thanksgiving weekend of 2010, she was told by one DHS agent — after she asserted her privileges as a journalist to refuse to answer questions about the individuals with whom she met on her trip — that he “finds it very suspicious that you’re not willing to help your country by answering our questions.” They sometimes keep her detained for three to four hours (all while telling her that she will be released more quickly if she answers all their questions and consents to full searches).

Poitras is now forced to take extreme steps — ones that hamper her ability to do her work — to ensure that she can engage in her journalism and produce her films without the U.S. Government intruding into everything she is doing. She now avoids traveling with any electronic devices. She uses alternative methods to deliver the most sensitive parts of her work — raw film and interview notes — to secure locations. She spends substantial time and resources protecting her computers with encryption and password defenses. Especially when she is in the U.S., she avoids talking on the phone about her work, particularly to sources. And she simply will not edit her films at her home out of fear — obviously well-grounded — that government agents will attempt to search and seize the raw footage.

That’s the climate of fear created by the U.S. Government for an incredibly accomplished journalist and filmmaker who has never been accused, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Indeed,documents obtained from a FOIA request show that DHS has repeatedly concluded that nothing incriminating was found from its border searches and interrogations of Poitras. Nonetheless, these abuses not only continue, but escalate, after six years of constant harassment.

* * * * *

Poitras has been somewhat reluctant to speak publicly about the treatment to which she is subjected for fear that doing so would further impede her ability to do her work (the NYT feature on “The Oath” included some discussion of it). But the latest episode, among the most aggressive yet, has caused her to want to vociferously object.

On Thursday night, Poitras arrived at Newark International Airport from Britain. Prior to issuing her a boarding pass in London, the ticket agent called a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent (Yost) who questioned her about whom she met and what she did. Upon arriving in Newark, DHS/CBP agents, as always, met her plane, detained her, and took her to an interrogation room. Each time this has happened in the past, Poitras has taken notes during the entire process: in order to chronicle what is being done to her, document the journalistic privileges she asserts and her express lack of consent, obtain the names of the agents involved, and just generally to cling to some level of agency.

This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes. A CBP Deputy Chief (Lopez) also told her she was barred from taking notes, and then accused her of “refusing to cooperate with an investigation” if she continued to refuse to answer their questions (he later clarified that there was no “investigation” per se, but only a “questioning”). Requests for comment from the CBP were not returned as of the time of publication.

Just consider the cumulative effect of this six years of harrassment and invasion. Poitras told me that it is “very traumatizing to come home to your own country and have to go through this every time,”and described the detentions, interrogations and threats as “infuriating,” “horrible” and “intimidating.” She told me that she now “hates to travel” and avoids international travel unless it is absolutely necessary for her work. And as she pointed out, she is generally more protected than most people subjected to similar treatment by virtue of the fact that she is a known journalist with both knowledge of her rights and the ability to publicize what is done to her. Most others are far less able to resist these sorts of abuses. But even for someone in Poitras’ position, this continuous unchecked government invasion is chilling in both senses of the word: it’s intimidating in its own right, and deters journalists and others from challenging government conduct.

* * * * *

As is true for so many abuses of the Surveillance State and assaults on basic liberties in the post-9/11 era, federal courts have almost completely abdicated their responsibility to serve as a check on these transgressions. Instead, federal judges have repeatedly endorsed the notion that the U.S. Government can engage in the most invasive border searches of citizens, including seizures and copying of laptops, without any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever, let alone probable cause.

That has happened in part because federal courts have become extremely submissive to assertions of Executive authority in the post-9/11 era, particularly when justified in the name of security. It’s also in part because anyone with a record of anti-authoritarianism or a willingness to oppose unrestrained government power, with very rare exception, can no longer get appointed to the federal bench; instead, it’s an increasingly homogeneous lot with demonstrated fealty to institutional authority. And it’s also in part because many life-tenured federal judges have been cloistered on the bench for decades, are technologically illiterate, and thus cannot apprehend the basic difference between having your suitcase searched at the airport and having the contents of your laptop and cellphone copied and stored by the U.S. Government.

One potentially important and encouraging exception to this trend was a ruling two weeks ago by U.S. District Judge Denise Casper, an Obama-appointed judge in the District of Massachusetts. As I’ve reported previously, David House, an activist who helped found the Bradley Manning Support Network, was detained by DHS when returning from a vacation in Mexico and had all of his electronic devices, including his laptop, seized; those devices were returned to him after almost two months only after he retained the ACLU of Massachusetts to demand their return. The ACLU then represented him in a lawsuit he commenced against the U.S. Government, alleging that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated by virtue of being targeted for his political speech and advocacy.

The DOJ demanded dismissal of the lawsuit, citing the cases approving of its power to search without suspicion, and also claimed that House was targeted not because of his political views but because of his connection to the criminal investigation of Manning and WikiLeaks. But the court refused to dismiss House’s lawsuit, holding that if he were indeed targeted by virtue of his protected activities, then his Constitutional rights have been violated:

Before even questioning House, the agents seized his electronic devices and in seizing them for forty-nine days, reviewed, retained, copied and disseminated information about the Support Network. Although the agents may not need to have any particularized suspicion for the initial search and seizure at the border for the purpose of the Fourth Amendment analysis, it does not necessarily follow that the agents, as is alleged in the complaint, may seize personal electronic devices containing expressive materials, target someone for their political association and seize his electronic devices and review the information pertinent to that association and its members and supporters simply because the initial search occurred at the border. . . 

When agents Santiago and Louck stopped House while he was en route to his connecting flight, they directed him to surrender the electronic devices he was carrying. They questioned him for an extended period of time only after seizing his devices. When the agents questioned House, they did not ask him any questions related to border control, customs, trade, immigration, or terrorism and did not suggest that House had broken the law or that his computer may contain illegal material or contraband. Rather, their questions focused solely on his association with Manning, his work for the Support Network, whether he had any connections to WikiLeaks, and whether he had contact with anyone from WikiLeaks during his trip to Mexico. Thus, the complaint alleges that House was not randomly stopped at the border; it alleges that he was stopped and questioned solely to examine the contents of his laptop that contained expressive material and investigate his association with the Support Network and Manning. . . .

That the initial search and seizure occurred at the border does not strip House of his First Amendment rights, particularly given the allegations in the complaint that he was targeted specifically because of his association with the Support Network and the search of his laptop resulted in the disclosure of the organizations, members, supporters donors as well as internal organization communications that House alleges will deter further participation in and support of the organization. Accordingly, the Defendants’ motion to dismiss House’s First Amendment claim is DENIED. [emphasis added]

As Kevin Gosztola notes in an excellent report on this ruling, the court — although it dubiously found that “the search of House’s laptop and electronic devices is more akin to the search of a suitcase and other closed containers holding personal information travelers carry with them when they cross the border which may be routinely inspected by customs and require no particularized suspicion” – also ruled that the length of time DHS retained House’s laptop (six weeks) may render the search and seizure unreasonable in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

But thus far, very few efforts have been made to restrain this growing government power. More than a year ago, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez described to me legislation she proposed just to impose some  minimal rules and safeguards governing what DHS can do at the airport, but it’s gone nowhere. A much stronger bill, proposed by then-Sen. Feingold, would have barred laptop seizures entirely without a search warrant, but it suffered the same fate. Apparently, the Small Government faction calling itself the “Tea Party” has no greater interest in restraining this incredibly invasive government power than the Democratic Party which loves to boast of its commitment to individual rights.

It’s hard to overstate how oppressive it is for the U.S. Government to be able to target journalists, film-makers and activists and, without a shred of suspicion of wrongdoing, learn the most private and intimate details about them and their work: with whom they’re communicating, what is being said, what they’re reading. That’s a radical power for a government to assert in general. When it starts being applied not randomly, but to people engaged in activism and journalism adverse to the government, it becomes worse than radical: it’s the power of intimidation and deterrence against those who would challenge government conduct in any way. The ongoing, and escalating, treatment of Laura Poitras is a testament to how severe that abuse is.

If you’re not somebody who films the devastation wrought by the U.S. on the countries it attacks, or provides insight into Iraqi occupation opponents and bin Laden loyalists in Yemen, or documents expanding NSA activities on U.S. soil, then perhaps you’re unlikely to be subjected to such abuses and therefore perhaps unlikely to care much. As is true for all states that expand and abuse their own powers, that’s what the U.S. Government counts on: that it is sending the message that none of this will affect you as long as you avoid posing any meaningful challenges to what they do. In other words: you can avoid being targeted if you passively acquiesce to what they do and refrain from interfering in it. That’s precisely what makes it so pernicious, and why it’s so imperative to find a way to rein it in.

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“Pour Out Your Wrath!”

NOVANEWS

ed note–I have serious disagreements with Avnery concerning certain positions he holds viz a viz the entire Zionist venture, and certainly his position as a former terrorist does not help him out as a position of moral authority.

HOWEVER, in the following piece, he brings out some EXTREMELY important points concerning how the Jewish mindset is cultivated using stories such as those retold year after year at Passover and how this has basically created a cult of religious fanatics who can engage in any kind of brutal behavior and justify it by pointing to their own religious past and how ‘God’ blessed them for this brutality.

 

By Uri Avnery

April 07, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — I AM writing this on Friday night, the eve of Passover. At this moment, all over the world, millions of Jews are gathered around the family table, observing the Seder, reading aloud from the same book: the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

The impact of this book on Jewish life is immense. Every Jew takes part in this ceremony from earliest childhood and plays an active part in the ritual. Wherever a Jewish man or woman goes in later life, they will take with them a memory of the warmth and togetherness of the family, the magical atmosphere – and the overt and subliminal message conveyed by the text.

Whoever invented the Seder (“order”) ritual, many centuries ago, was a genius. All human senses are involved: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. It includes eating a ritualized meal, drinking four glasses of wine, touching various symbolic objects, playing a game with the children (searching for a hidden piece of Matzo). It ends with singing several religious songs together. The accumulated effect is magical.

More than any other Jewish text, the Haggadah forms the Jewish conscious – or, rather, unconscious – mind today, as in the past, influencing our collective behavior and Israeli national policy.

There are many different ways to view this book.

LITERATURE: As a literary work, the Haggadah is rather inferior. The text is devoid of beauty, full of repetitions, platitudes and banalities.

This may cause wonderment. The Hebrew Bible – the Bible in Hebrew – is a work of unique beauty. In many places, its beauty is intoxicating. The peaks of Western culture – Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Tolstoy – are not its equal. Even the later Jewish religious texts – Mishnah, Talmud and so forth – while not so uplifting, contain passages of literary merit. The Haggadah has none. It is a text devised purely for indoctrination.

HISTORY: It’s not. Though it claims to tell history, the Haggadah has nothing to do with real history.

There can no longer be the slightest doubt that the Exodus never happened. Neither the Exodus, nor the wandering in the desert, nor the conquest of Canaan.

The Egyptians were obsessive chroniclers. Many tens of thousands of tablets have already been deciphered. It would have been impossible for an event like the exodus to pass without being reported at length. Not if 600,000 people left, as the Bible tells it, or 60,000, or even 6000. Especially if during the flight a whole Egyptian army contingent, including war chariots, was drowned.

The same goes for the Conquest. Because of acute security concerns, after being invaded once from there, the Egyptians employed a host of spies, – travelers, merchants and others – to follow closely the events in neighboring Canaan, in every single one of its towns and at all times. An invasion of Canaan, even a minor one, would have been reported. Except for the periodic incursions of Bedouin tribes, nothing was recorded.

Moreover, the Egyptian towns mentioned in the Bible did not exist at the time the event is supposed to have happened. They did exist, however, when the Bible was written, in the first or second century BC.

There is no need to point out that after a hundred years of frantic archaeological searching by devout Christians and Zionist zealots, not a shred of concrete evidence for the conquest of Canaan has been found (nor that the Kingdoms of Saul, David or Salomon ever existed).

But is this really important? Not a bit of it!

The Passover story does not derive its immense power from any claim to be history. It is a myth that grips the human imagination, a myth that is the basis of a great religion, a myth that directs the behavior of people to this very day. Without the Exodus story, there would probably be no State of Israel today – and certainly not in Palestine.

THE GLORY: One can read the Exodus story as a shining example of all that is good and inspiring in the annals of humanity.

Here is the story of a small and powerless people that rises up against a brutal tyranny, throws off its chains and gains a new homeland, creating a revolutionary new moral code on the way.

Seen in this way, the Exodus is a victory of the human spirit, an inspiration for all downtrodden peoples. And indeed, it has served this purpose many times in the past. The Pilgrim Fathers, the founders of the American nation, were inspired by it, and so were many rebels throughout history.

THE OTHER SIDE: When one reads the Biblical text attentively , without religious blinkers, some aspects gives us food for other thoughts.

Let’s take the Ten Plagues. Why were the entire Egyptian people punished for the misdeeds of one tyrant, Pharaoh? Why did God, like a divine Security Council, levy on them cruel sanctions, polluting their water with blood, destroying their livelihood with hail and locusts? And, even more gruesome, how could a merciful God send his angels to murder every single Egyptian firstborn child?

On leaving Egypt, the Israelites were encouraged to steal their neighbors’ property. It is rather curious that the Biblical story-teller, who was certainly deeply religious, did not omit this detail. And this just a few weeks before the Ten Commandments were handed down to the Israelites by God personally, including “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

No one seems ever to have given much thought to the ethical side of the conquest of Canaan. God promised the Children of Israel a land which was the home of other peoples. He told them to kill these peoples, expressly commanding them to commit genocide. For some reason, He singled out the people of Amalek, ordering the Israelites to eradicate them altogether. Later, the glorious King Saul was dethroned by His prophet because he showed mercy and did not murder his Amalekite prisoners-of-war, men, women and children.

Of course, these texts were written by people living in times long past, when the ethics of individuals and nations were different, as were the rules of war. But the Haggadah is recited – today as before – uncritically, without any reflection on these horrible aspects. Especially in religious schools in Israel today , the commandment to commit genocide against the non-Jewish population of Palestine is taken by many teachers and pupils quite literally.

INDOCTRINATION: This is the real point of these reflections.

There are two sentences in the Haggadah that always had – and still have – a profound impact on the present.

One is the central idea on which almost all Jews base their historical outlook: “In every generation they rise against us to destroy us”.

This does not apply to a specific time or to a specific place. It is regarded as an eternal truth that applies to all places, all times. ”They” is the entire outside world, all non-Jews everywhere. Children hear this on Seder evening on their father’s knee, long before they are able to read and write, and from then on they hear or recite it every year for decades. It expresses the total conscious or unconscious conviction of almost all Jews, whether in Los Angeles, California, or in Lod, Israel. It certainly directs the policy of the State of Israel.

The second sentence, which complements the first, is a cry to God: “Pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you…for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home…Pour out your wrath on them! May your blazing anger overtake them! Pursue them from under the heavens of the Lord!…”

The word “nations” in this text has a double meaning. The Hebrew word is “goyim”, an ancient Hebrew term for “peoples”. Even the ancient Children of Israel were called a “Holy Goy”. But over the centuries, the word has taken on another meaning, and is understood to refer to all non-Jews, in a very derogatory way. (As in the Yiddish song “Oy, Oy, Oy, / Drunk is the Goy.”)

To understand this text properly, one has to remember that it was written as a cry from the heart of a defenseless, persecuted people who had no means to take revenge on their torturers. To raise their spirits on the joyful Seder evening, they had to put their trust in God, crying out to Him that he should take revenge in their stead.

(During the Seder ritual, the door is always left open. Officially, that is to allow the Prophet Elias to enter, if he should miraculously rise from the dead. In reality it was to allow the Goyim to look in, so as to disprove the anti-Semitic libel that Jews baked their unleavened Pesach bread with the blood of kidnapped Christian children.)

THE LESSON: In the Diaspora, this craving for revenge was both understandable and ineffective. But the founding of the State of Israel has changed the situation completely. In Israel, Jews are far from being defenseless. We don’t have to rely on God to take revenge for the evils done unto us, past or present, real or imagined. We can pour out our wrath ourselves, on our neighbors, the Palestinians and other Arabs, on our minorities, on our victims.

That is the real danger of the Haggadah, as I see it. It was written by and for helpless Jews living in perpetual danger. It raised their spirits once a year, when they felt safe for a moment, protected by their God, surrounded by their families.

Taken out of this context and applied to a new, completely different situation, it can set us on an evil course. Telling ourselves that everybody is out to destroy us, yesterday and most certainly tomorrow, we consider the grandiloquent bombast of an Iranian bigmouth as a living proof of the validity of the old maxim. They are out to kill us, so we must – according to another ancient Jewish injunction – kill them first.

So, on this Seder evening, let our feelings be guided by the noble, inspiring part of the Haggadah , the part about the slaves who rose up against tyranny and took their fate in their own hands – and not the part about pouring out our wrath.


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Turkey Accuses Syria of Firing Across Border, Killing 2 People

NOVANEWS

ed note–remember, Turkey is NATO, and by the terms of the treaty, if a NATO member is attacked, ALL members are obliged to assist militarily. By inducing Syria to fire across Turkeyt’s border, (either by screwing around with Syria’s GPS systems or by having western-backed terrorists fire at Syrian forces from within Turkey, thus resultingin Syria fighting back) the powers that be are setting up a scenraio whereby NATO will be forced to act militarily, exactly as Israel wants/demands.

New York Times

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish officials said on Monday that Syrian government forces had opened fire across the border late Sunday, killing two people and wounding three others close to one of the largest Syrian refugee camps in Turkey.       

 

Reports from the area seemed confused, with some accounts from activists inside Syria saying that a large number of reinforcements for the government troops, backed by tanks and helicopters, had arrived close to Turkish territory. A Turkish government official said the three people who were wounded — two Syrians and a Turkish translator — were hit when they tried and failed to rescue two unidentified civilians who were shot and killed near the border.       

The firing raised troubling questions about the possibility of a broader conflagration in the tinderbox border region. And it deepened the gloom surrounding prospects for a cease-fire under a peace proposal by Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria for both the Arab League and the United Nations. The proposal called for government forces to pull back from major cities by Tuesday, 48 hours before the truce was to begin.       

On Sunday, however, Syria demanded written guarantees from rebel forces that they would lay down their arms before the government forces withdrew. The insurgents in the Free Syrian Army responded by saying that President Bashar al-Assad would not carry out the Annan plan and predicted that it would fail.       

Opposition activists said Sunday that dozens of people were killed and wounded when government troops shelled a rebel redoubt near the Turkish border. An estimated 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Mr. Assad began more than a year ago.       

Turkish officials said it was unclear what kind of weapons caused the injuries on Sunday in the attack, which occurred about six miles beyond the border, near the town of Killis, Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Ministry had asked a Syrian diplomat in Ankara to provide information, the officials said, and there were conflicting accounts about the episode.       

A member of the Free Syrian Army said three Syrians were shot by government snipers as they were about to cross into Turkey. They were fleeing clashes in a settlement on the Syrian side of the border, Turkey’s semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.       

Hundreds of Syrians have crossed into Turkey in recent weeks, bringing the total number of refugees there to more than 24,300, according to the prime minister’s office in Ankara. Turkey has built several camps in its southern provinces along the 550-mile border with Syria. Just last week, more than 2,800 Syrians entered Turkey within the space of two days, and a further 700 arrived on Saturday, according to Turkish accounts.       

Mr. Annan was expected to arrive in Turkey’s Hatay Province on Tuesday to visit some of the camps, news reports said.       

As the deadline for the cease-fire approached, China urged both sides on Monday to abide by Mr. Annan’s proposals, Reuters reported. China, along with Russia, has blocked Western and Arab demands at the United Nations for a tougher stance to force Mr. Assad from office as part of a transition to democratic rule.       

“China urges the Syrian government and opposition groups to seize the current critical moment to abide by cease-fire and troop withdrawal promises, cooperate with special envoy Annan’s mediation efforts to alleviate the current tense situation and facilitate humanitarian assistance, and promote a political solution to the conflict in Syria,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, was quoted as telling a news briefing.       

The developments occurred as Human Rights Watch said that Syrian security forces had executed more than 100 people, and possibly many more, including civilians and wounded or captured opposition fighters, during recent attacks.       

A report by the group documented what it called more than a dozen episodes in which at least 101 people had been killed since the end of last year, many of them in March. The report accused government and pro-government forces of executing civilians who posed no threat, as well as rebels who had been captured or had stopped fighting.       

Ole Solvang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “In a desperate attempt to crush the uprising, Syrian forces have executed people in cold blood, civilians and opposition fighters alike. They are doing it in broad daylight and in front of witnesses, evidently not concerned about any accountability for their crimes.”       

There was no immediate response to the report from the Syrian government.       

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SURPRISE, SURPRISE–4 IsraHellis indicted for sex trafficking, pandering

NOVANEWS

Two Bat Yam residents charged with bringing Ukrainian women to Israel to work in prostitution; two others indicted for running brothels

ed note–LEST WE FORGET–

And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp. And Moses was furious with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD… Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep, And threescore and twelve thousand beeves, And threescore and one thousand asses, And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him. Book of Numbers 31:13-18, 32-35 

ynet

Three men and a woman were indicted Monday at the Tel Aviv District Court for various sex trafficking and pandering changes.

According to the prosecution, Oleg Zaberski, 35, and his accomplice, Olga Fisher, 29, both Bat Yam residents, brought Ukrainian women to Israel to work in prostitution. Zaberski promised the women through a mediator they could keep half of what they earned for having sex with clients, and instructed them to tell the immigration authorities that they are visiting a relative – Fisher, who would pick them up at the airport.

The women were then forced to see eight or nine clients a day; when one refused to have sex with a customer, Zaberski fined her and made her have intercourse with the man, who injured her.

The complainants have since left Israel.

‘Indictment is groundless’ Zaberski’s charges include human trafficking, assault and pandering. Fisher is being indicted for aiding and abetting human trafficking and related charges.

“Prima facie, the indictment clearly indicates that my client had nothing to do with sex trafficking, and she has no ties to the scheme described in the indictment,” Fisher’s lawyer, Eyal Ohayon said. “Her role is confined to the innocent act of picking up one of the women from the airport.”

Attorneys Shahar Hetzroni and Tamir Sananes, who represent Zaberski, said in response: “The indictment appears groundless, and the defendant denies all the charges.”

Meanwhile charges were pressed against Yaakov Malka, 36, an Eilat resident and Vachislav Magnizer, 40, of Rishon Letzion, for running brothels in Tel Aviv. The two allegedly employed Israeli and foreign nationals as prostitutes. After incurring heavy gambling debts, the two decided to expand the operation and traffic a large number of women from Ukraine to Israel.

They are being indicted for conspiring to commit sex trafficking and pandering violations, among other charges.

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Imperialist frustration builds over Syria

NOVANEWS 

Proletarian issue 47 (April 2012)


Russia and China continue to hamper imperialist designs, but the threat of all-out war remains strong.

Attempts by imperialism and its local Arab and Turkish stooges to overthrow the progressive government of Syria, which assumed acute form a year ago and have plunged this once peaceful country into a veritable civil war, appear to be floundering in the face of astute political tactics by the Syrian leadership, a determined fight-back by the Syrian armed forces, and the resolute stance taken by both Russia and China, who have repeatedly blocked the attempts to give imperialism’s war against Syria a United Nations fig-leaf.President Bashar al-Assad has now called parliamentary elections for 7 May, to be held under the terms of a new constitution that was overwhelmingly endorsed in a February referendum and which considerably enhances peoples’ democratic rights. At the same time, the Syrian army has scored major victories against the imperialist-backed terrorist forces in their erstwhile strongholds of Homs and Idlib, essentially bringing these cities back under the control of the legitimate government.

Against this background, Russia and China have began working deftly to open up contradictions between the imperialist powers and the Arab reactionaries, who, faced with the firm joint stance of Moscow and Beijing have had to start reviewing their options in the light of the strategic decline of US hegemonism and the continuing crises in all three main centres of the global capitalist economy (the US, EU and Japan), which means that other countries are also concerned not to overly damage their relations with emerging powers for the long term.

This resulted, doubtless much to Washington’s and London’s chagrin, in Russia and the Arab League agreeing on a five-point plan to end the crisis, although doubtless the two sides are still working to quite different agendas.

According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti: “The plan proposes an end to violence by all sides, monitoring of the situation in Syria, provision of humanitarian aid to all Syrians, support for the UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s mission in the country and abstention from external interference in Syrian domestic affairs.” (‘Russia, Arab League agree plan on Syria’, 10 March 2012)

Speaking after a meeting with the Arab League in Cairo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointedly said: “We think these five steps are crucial. They are addressed to all parties in Syria.”

Lavrov was clearly referring to the imperialist insistence on placing all demands on the legitimate Syrian government and none on the terrorist forces, an issue that was to resurface at the United Nations just a couple of days later. For his part, President Assad declared: “Syria is ready to support any honest effort to solve the situation.” China, which has sent its own special envoys to the region several times now, also expressed its support for the Russia-Arab five-point plan.

Moreover, to imperialist fury, Russia has insisted that it will continue to supply arms to the Syrian government. Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov stated: “Russia enjoys good and strong military technical cooperation with Syria and we see no reason today to reconsider it.”

Meanwhile, a high-level UN Security Council meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which saw the imperialist powers yet again attempt to railroad an anti-Syria resolution, broke up in disarray, faced with determined opposition from Russia and China.

A key issue was the, perfectly logical and reasonable, insistence by Moscow and Beijing that a peaceful solution necessitated a cessation of violence by all parties, compared to the imperialist demand that only the forces of the legal Syrian army should unilaterally cease fire, in effect surrender, with no such demand placed on the terrorists.

Lavrov denounced the support being given by some foreign governments to the terrorists. “Interference from outside, using raw military force, increases the illicit spread of arms, thus jeopardising stability in the region,” he said.

“Making hasty demands for regime change, imposing unilateral sanctions designed to trigger economic difficulties and social tensions, inducing the opposition to continue its confrontation with the authorities instead of promoting dialogue, making calls in support of armed confrontation and even for foreign military intervention – all of the above are risky recipes of geopolitical engineering that clearly result in the spread of conflict,” the Russian foreign minister warned.

In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton said: “We reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defence.”

The utter and odious hypocrisy of this ruthless imperialist brigand should be clear to all, but, as though perversely wishing to remove any doubt, Ms Clinton, in the very same speech, made reference to a people who really are living under siege, and have done so for years, namely the besieged and tormented Palestinian people in Gaza.

Speaking after several days of Israeli air strikes, which had killed 23 Palestinians, with no fatalities on the Israeli side, Clinton declared: “Let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel.”

These statements alone should be enough to lift the scales from the eyes of any confused people as to what the real issues are in Syria and the crying need for all anti-imperialists and anti-war activists to give their full support to the Syrian government in its just struggle.

Faced with the Syrian armed forces and people regaining the initiative, the refusal by Russia and China to knuckle under, and their own alliances starting to fray, the imperialist warmongers are growing increasingly frustrated. Such frustration was openly and petulantly expressed by Prime Minister David Cameron during his USA visit:

“We’re all frustrated by Syria. What’s happening in Homs is completely appalling. I’m endlessly kicking the tyres and asking what else can be done.”

Such frustration does not lessen the threat of all-out war; rather, it is extremely dangerous. Leading US senator, and Obama’s Republican challenger in 2008, John McCain, is among those openly calling for a Libya-style war to be unleashed on Syria, while the Pentagon has openly admitted to planning for just such a scenario.

It is therefore more urgent than ever to demand:

Hands off Syria!

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Afghanistan: imperialism in panic-buy for an escape route

NOVANEWSProletarian issue 47 (April 2012)
With time running out for imperialism’s bloody Afghan adventure, Britain and the United States are desperately seeking to conclude last-minute deals with a host of central Asian countries in a bid to extricate themselves (and billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment) from their Afghan nightmare.

 

Under intense pressure from the forces of national liberation inside Afghanistan, Britain and America are well aware that their time there is coming to an end. In the decade that has passed since Nato’s storm-troopers crash-landed into the country, the entire imperialist system has slipped further into economic crisis. And as the crisis deepens, more pressing objectives are taking attention away from the losing battle of Afghanistan, with US imperialism in particular shifting its gaze towards the Pacific and China.Moreover, these objective economic factors (driven by the intrinsic contradictions inherent in the system of monopoly capitalism) are compounded by a heroic guerrilla resistance movement inside occupied Afghanistan, where people have refused to put down the gun and submit to Nato’s colonial agenda.In tandem with these events, US imperialism has failed to keep hold of the influence it once held in many quarters, notably Pakistan. It has lost not just the support of a large section of Pakistan’s bourgeoisie, but has also, through its thoroughly criminal and fascistic military methods, raised the ire of millions of ordinary Pakistanis and drawn thousands of them into armed conflict on the side of the Afghan resistance.

Looking for a back door

Well aware that a back-door exit from Afghanistan through Pakistan is now off the cards, frantic attempts are being made to conclude deals with Afghanistan’s other neighbours.

The Washington Post reported a visit by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta to Kyrgyzstan where attempts are also being made to conclude a deal that will secure imperialism’s presence there beyond 2014:

US Secretary Leon Panetta met with Kyrgyzstan’s leaders to stress that America needs the continued use of the US air base there beyond the end of its contract in 2014, largely as a transit centre to bring troops home from Afghanistan.

A senior US official traveling with Panetta to Kyrgyzstan said the US believes there may be some ‘wiggle room’ for additional negotiations for a longer-term contract.

The official said the defence chief on Tuesday will underscore the importance of the transit centre for both countries, for regional security as well as the possible transition to a lucrative commercial hub in the future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

On Tuesday evening, Panetta met with Taalaybek Omuraliev, Kyrgyzstan’s defence minister, and Busurmankul Tabaldiev, the secretary of the defence council. During the early part of the meeting, Tabaldiev, a civilian, told Panetta that while Kyrgyzstan ‘has shown readiness’ to support the US and transit centre after 2014, he said that after 2014 ‘there should be no military mission’. ‘He said the airport was a civilian, commercial enterprise. His comments echo those of the new president.’ …

The base has been the subject of much contentious dispute between the two countries. But in 2009 the US was able to reach an agreement with the Kyrgyz government for use of the base in return for $60m a year.” [1]

However, so far, the new government of President Atambaev remains adamant that the US military must quit the Manas air base in 2014.

In tandem with the desperate haggling of US imperialism, our own ruling class is also scrambling for the emergency exit. Mass murderer, war criminal and ‘keen gardener’ David Cameron is reportedly desperate to make deals with Kazakhstan. The Daily Mail wrote:

Because of the problems posed by exiting Afghanistan via an increasingly hostile Pakistan and then shipping the equipment home, a major British diplomatic effort is being directed at securing approval from six or seven ex-Soviet states, including Kazakhstan, to transport the convoys across their soil …

The diplomatic offensive saw Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last month travelling to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – an even more tyrannical central Asian state that Britain needs to win agreement from to bring its equipment back from Afghanistan over its territory.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey has been deployed to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on a similar mission.

Sources say that while progress has been made to securing an overland route, all the necessary deals are not yet in place.” [2]

Whilst Philip Hammond reportedly managed to secure a deal with the Kazakh government to aid the transportation of 11,000 containers and 3,000 armoured vehicles out of Afghanistan, it may be slightly optimistic to imagine that imperialist troops can hang on until 2014 if the recent intensification of resistance continues.

Massacre on 11 March

Already, 2012 has witnessed one calamity after another for occupation forces in Afghanistan.

A wave of violence broke out after it emerged that copies of the Koran had been burned by American forces, and closely following this was the 6 March bomb that killed six British soldiers. More bombs injured US soldiers the following day, and this incident is now being touted as the cause of Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’s allegedly ‘single-handed’ murder of 16 Afghan civilians, which cannot but galvanise the resistance forces in their war against imperialist occupation.

According to the Australian of 21 March, “Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on US forces in the same area a few days earlier.

In accounts to the Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that US troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either 7 or 8 March, and told them they would pay a price for the attack.

The lawyer for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused in the 11 March killings of the 16 civilians, has said that his client was upset because a buddy had lost a leg in an explosion on 9 March …

Sgt Bales, 38, is suspected of leaving a US base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, entering homes and gunning down nine children, four men and three women before dawn on 11 March in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai. Mokhoyan is about 500 metres east of the base.

The shootings have further strained ties between the US government and President Hamid Karzai who has accused the US military of not cooperating with a delegation he appointed to investigate the killings.

Mr Karzai’s investigative team is not convinced that one soldier could have single-handedly left his base, walked to the two villages, and carried out the killings and set fire to some of the victims’ bodies. The US military has said that even though its investigation is continuing, everything currently points to one shooter.

The fact that US stooge, professional gangster, gun-runner, drug-trafficker and ‘President’ Karzai feels compelled to speak out against what was clearly an orchestrated, planned and vengeful war crime committed with the full knowledge and approval of the US military machine speaks volumes. A more blatant and disgraceful act is hard to imagine. Indeed, nightmares can conjure up nothing in visions of horror as compared to the horrific atrocities of imperialism.

British state moves to silence dissent

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the only ones to be outraged by the despicable, cowardly and shameful behaviour of imperialist troops. Here at home there is a growing understanding amongst fair-minded individuals that the British state is guilty of war crimes, and that the media and politicians are full of gross hypocrisy with regard to British forces’ conduct in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

Many who are waking up to these outrages have no political or philosophical framework with which to understand the deeper involvement of the state and capitalism in the behaviour of those who carry out imperialism’s dirty work. One such individual is Azhar Ahmed, who quite commendably felt offended by the partiality of the coverage given to the deaths of six British soldiers who died in a roadside bombing, especially when considered in the wider context of the war. He wrote on Facebook:

People gassin about the deaths of soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmful [harmless – Ed] familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! Gotta problem go cry at your soldiers grave & wish him hell because thats where he is going..

Whilst Mr Ahmed may fail to understand the wider context, or indeed the negative attention his comments are bound to attract (as a young male of Asian background), he has merely identified the hypocrisy that angers any sane and rational individual exposed to the 24/7 drip-feed of lies which passes for journalism and reportage on mainstream television. In a world where such crimes as the ethnic cleansing of the black Libyans of Tawergha can be brushed aside, a person would have to be an inveterate colonialist or Trotskyite of the worst and most British variety not to speak out.

In an act that is clearly designed to criminalise opposition to the ruling class’s war in Afghanistan, a charge was brought against Mr Ahmed by Yorkshire police for a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’. Although subsequently dropped (whilst substituting a relatively new ‘offence’, ie, sending a message that is “grossly offensive” contrary to the Communications Act 2003), these latest actions of the state security forces are a serious threat to what remains of any semblance of free speech in Britain.

It is quite certain that it is only that which “grossly offends” the bourgeoisie that is criminalised, not the grossly offensive anti-immigrant, anti-working class, and/or anti-communist propaganda and other lies which are the daily fare dished out by the bourgeois media!

NOTES

1. ‘Panetta seeks to shore up support in Kyrgyzstan for use of base critical to Afghan withdrawal’, 13 March 2012

2. ‘Cameron “forced to visit” Kazakh dictator over UK weapons trains route in exchange for exit from Afghanistan’ by Will Stewart and Glen Owen, 11 March 2012

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