Archive | July 3rd, 2012

Police: 3 Haredi men sexually abused mentally ill girl

Jerusalem police arrested three ultra-Orthodox men on Sunday who are accused of rape and sexually abusing a teenage girl with mental illness. According to police, one of the suspects is the head of a yeshiva. Two of the suspects are accused of taking advantage of a teenager with mental issues who turned to them for financial assistance. 
The men allegedly agreed to give her money after raping her and sexually abusing her, and continued to abuse her a number of times. One of the suspects is also accused of sexually abusing young children.

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Assad: I wish downed Turkish jet had been Israeli


Turkish F-4 fighter jets

In interview with Turkish paper, Assad apologetic over interception of plane, says incident happened in corridor oft used by IAF.

ISTANBUL – Syrian President Bashar Assad has told a Turkish newspaper he wished the Turkish plane that Syrian forces downed last month had been Israeli.

“The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before. Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given,” the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview published on Tuesday.

“Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane,” Assad said.
Assad said that he would not allow the tensions between Syria and Turkey to turn into open combat.

“We learned that it (the plane) belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent ‘if only we had not shot it down’,”

Asked whether the tensions between Syria and Turkey could lead to war, Assad said: “We will not allow (the tensions) to turn into open combat between the two countries, which would harm them both.”

He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government takes.

The paper did not specify when the interview was held, but in it Assad refers to an international meeting held in Geneva on Saturday under the auspices of peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Turkey has heightened military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet over the Mediterranean on June 22, prompting a sharp rebuke from Ankara which said it would respond “decisively.”

Syria says it shot down the Turkish jet in self-defense and that it was brought down in Syrian air space. Turkey says the jet accidentally violated Syrian air space for a few minutes but was brought down in international air space.

Assad said Syria would not shy away from apologizing if it emerged that the plane was shot down in international airspace.

His comments emerged as fighting raged throughout Syria to unseat Assad in what is increasingly taking on the character of an all-out civil war, fueled by sectarian hatred.

Syrian helicopters bombarded a Damascus suburb on Monday and Turkey scrambled warplanes near the border in the north, as the UN human rights chief warned that arms supplies to both the government and rebels were deepening the 16-month conflict.

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Former High U.S.Defense Official Warns Against Attacking Iran


By Sherwood Ross

“A unilateral preventive attack” on Iran by the United States would be viewed by many countries “as a breach of international law,” a former high American Defense Department official has warned his country.

“Given the high costs and inherent uncertainties of a strike, the United States should not rush to use force until all other options have been exhausted and the Iranian threat is not just growing but imminent,” writes Colin Kahl, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East during the 2009-11 period.

Writing in the March/April issue of “Foreign Affairs,” Kahl points out the Iranians “have not taken” any of the steps “which would signal that (Iran) had decided to build a bomb.”

Those steps would include expelling International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) inspectors, beginning the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium, or installing large numbers of advanced centrifuges, Kahl says.

What’s more, “there is no hard evidence,” Kahl writes, “that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has yet made the final decision to develop them (nuclear weapons).”

Additionally, Kahl writes, it’s the opinion of David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, Washington, D.C., that there is a “low probability” that the Iranians would actually develop a bomb over the next year even if they had the capability to do so.”

So far, based on Kahl’s data, the buildup of military forces that typically precede an outbreak of hostilities appears to be heavily weighted on the American side.

“The United States already has a large presence encircling Iran,” Kahl pointed out. “Forty thousand U.S. troops are stationed in the Gulf, accompanied by strike aircraft, two aircraft carrier strike groups, two Aegis ballistic missile defense ships, and multiple Patriot antimissile systems.”

“On Iran’s eastern flank,” he continues, Washington has another 90,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan and thousands more supporting the Afghan war in nearby Central Asian states.”

Kahl says that even if, in the event of war the U.S. Navy could keep the Strait of Hormuz open to shipping, “the mere threat of closure could send oil prices soaring, dealing a heavy blow to the fragile global economy.”

Kahl writes that a U.S. attack on Iran could shift regional sympathies to Tehran’s favor and “resuscitate its status as the champion of the region’s anti-Western resistance.”

The author warns of the volatility of the current situation, particularly as “the two countries share no direct and reliable channels for communication, and the inevitable confusion brought on by a crisis would make signaling difficult and miscalculation likely.”

Kahl’s article is titled, “Not Time to Attack Iran.” It was written in response to an article published in the previous January/February issue of “Foreign Affairs” titled “Time to Attack Iran” by Matthew Kroenig, an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University. Kroenig is an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University who wrote:

“The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.”

Another American authority attacking the idea of a preventive war against Iran as advanced by Kroenig, is Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Business.

Walt writes on the website of Foreign Policy” magazine on June 21, 2012, that “if it would be that easy for a nuclear-armed Iran to coerce the United States into doing things it does not want to do, then why haven’t other nuclear powers been able to do that to us in the past?”

“By Kroenig’s logic, the Soviet Union should have had a field day pushing us around during the Cold War. But that did not happen; in fact, the Soviets never even tried to use their huge nuclear arsenal to coerce us. The reason, of course, is that Soviet threats would not have been credible because any attempt to carry them out would have led to national suicide. The same logic applies to Iran. We know it, and so do they, which is why this familiar bogeyman should not be taken seriously.”

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Declaration of Independence from a War Economy


By Mark Haim,

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political and economic bands which have connected them with an industry and a bureaucracy that have held sway over their lives, and to assume an equal station among the peoples of the earth, living free from permanent war in an equal station to people of other nations as the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness living in a state of peace. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Humanity, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that patterns of Governance long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under an intolerable War Economy, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such improper Governance, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of the people of these United States during seven long decades under a Permanent War Economy; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Governance. The history of recent decades is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of a highly militarized state functioning as a Tyranny over the citizens of these United States as well as to others in many nations around the world. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have spent exorbitant sums on wars and munitions, undermining our security by leaving programs to care for our people and environment wanting. They have hollowed out our cities, left our schools crying for funding, allowed our infrastructure to decay, and generally disregarded important governmental functions critical to the security of our nation.

They have even failed to adequately provide for the care of our veterans, so many of whom are suffering from injuries and psychological trauma as a result of their deployments.

They have incurred unnecessary and odious debt, in order to fund the Military-Industrial Complex, cumulatively adding up to trillions of dollars, which will burden our progeny for decades to come, with no benefit to our populace.

They have engaged repeatedly in illegal, aggressive war-making and foreign interventions that have had nothing to do with defending our nation. Our government has entered into a state of war repeatedly, without the constitutionally mandated declaration of war.

They have repeatedly flouted international law that requires that military force be used only defensively or when authorized by the United Nations Security Council. This law, established under a treaty signed by our President and ratified by our Senate, is, under our Constitution, the highest law of the land.

They have repeatedly violated the Nuremberg Principles which hold that aggressive war-making is a Crime Against Peace, and, as such, is the highest form of war crime.

They have sent our young men and women off repeatedly to fight in these wars, leading to millions of casualties, including deaths, injuries, chemical poisoning and psychological traumatization of our military personnel.

They have caused the death, injury, poisoning and traumatization of millions of people in the nations where our government has intervened, doing harm to these people and creating enemies in the process, thus undermining our security.

They have overthrown, or participated in the overthrow of, democratically elected governments in many countries including Iran, Guatemala, Greece, Chile and Haiti, imposing, in the process, brutal, repressive regimes.

They have supported, armed and trained the militaries of, and generally aided numerous unpopular and repressive governments. Our government and military have thus allied themselves with ruling elites and made our nation an enemy to the majority of the people of these countries in the process.

They have created, armed, trained and operated proxy armies to conduct aggressive war-making on behalf of the interests of large trans-national corporations and their allies. This has been done in places like Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan, Cuba and many other nations.

They have used the geopolitical power generated through military intervention and force, combined with the economic leverage of the international banking and monetary system, to impose unfair trade regimes on the Global South. In the process, they have hurt not only the people of the developing world, but also American workers millions of whom have lost jobs to outsourcing.

They have repeatedly used Napalm, White Phosphorus and other incendiary weapons in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and other countries, causing horrific pain and suffering to combatants and civilians alike.

They have illegally conducted drone warfare, repeatedly attacking, killing and maiming people, including non-combatants, in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, without legal or moral authority to do so.
They have created and maintained vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction that threaten humanity’s survival. They’ve even used nuclear weapons, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. To this day, they refuse to abide by the provisions of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, which require the mutual elimination of such weapons.

They have produced enormous inventories of long-lived, carcinogenic radioactive waste without any plan as to how to isolate these wastes from the environment for the required hundreds of thousands of years.

They have dispersed dangerous radionuclides into the atmosphere through nearly two decades of above ground nuclear weapons testing, contaminating military personnel and civilians alike. And they have poisoned underground aquifers through predicable leakage of these long-lived wastes.

They have used Depleted Uranium weapons in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere leading to the chemical and radiological contamination of combatants, including our own troops, civilians, residential areas, farmland and water supplies.

They have, through the creation of a Permanent War Economy, moved our nation in a direction dramatically at odds with the intention of our founders. More than two centuries ago, President George Washington warned us of the dangers of large standing armies and permanent military alliances. Over the past seven decades, we have ignored this advice, and have paid dearly.

The Permanent War Economy has enriched the few and impoverished the majority. It has contributed to the skewing of income and lead to a dangerous concentration of wealth, power and political influence in the hands of a few. We have seen not just war on other nations, but War on the Environment as well, with corporate powers plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, destroying our environment and laying waste to the natural resources that belong to us all, and future generations.

In every stage of the growth of the War Economy We and our predecessors have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. We have written letters, made phone calls, met with our Representatives and Senators, held peaceful vigils and demonstrations of all sorts: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. The Military-Industrial Complex has seen fit to continue its abuses unabated. Their actions make clear that they are unfit to be rulers of a free people.

We, therefore, speaking for the peace loving people of our nation and appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name of the good People of this Nation, solemnly publish and declare, That these United States are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent of the control and influence of the War Economy; that we are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Military-Industrial Complex, and that all political connection between the people of this Nation and the perpetrators of the War Economy is and ought to be totally dissolved; And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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The “Brothers” Are Coming, The “Brothers” Are Coming!


by  Sami Jamil Jadallah

No, not the Brothers Karamazov but the Muslim Brothers. Any one who listens to popular media and politicians in Israel and the US would think that the Muslim Bothers are coming from Mars, invading the planet Earth, changing our ways of life and turning democracies to theocracies.

The US, the West, and Israel and for decades supported “secular” and dictatorial regimes in the Arab world, regimes that destroyed nations, freedoms, looted the country, created police state in partnership with the military.

Arab secularist and nationalists with key allies in the West are now out to demonize and dehumanize “Islamists” have overlooked, and remained silent while “secular” governments in Iraq, Egypt, in Syria, in Yemen, in Algeria, in Tunisia, violated all basic human and civil rights and destroyed any semblance of a civil and civilized state.

They are raising fear among Arabs and among the West that “Islamists” are committed to enforce their vision and values system and are out to destroy the “secular” state as they knew it and supported.

Frankly, I do not understand why all the fuss and fear of “Islamists” coming to power when Christian and Jewish political parties have been part of governments, leading governments in the US, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Israel, Canada, Columbia and many other nations, yet no one within the Arab “secular” movement or the West raised concerned over these faiths driven parties coming to power in the West.

In the US, while there are no “faith or religious” parties per say, the Republican Party in fact can be defined as a faith and religious party made up of members of many of the Christian and Jewish right wing political groups.

In Europe, “faith and religious” oriented parties have dominated national politics for years such as Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, Christian Social Democrats also of Germany, Christian Social Party of Liechtenstein, Christian Social Party of Switzerland.

In Israel, a country that is leading the charge against “Islamist” political parties takes the leads in Jewish/Religious and Zionist (it is religion) parties and played key part of Israeli politics for generations to include the National Religious Party, Aguddat Israel, Degel Ha Torah, Shas, Kach and Khane Chai, United Torah Judaism and Israeli Beitenu among many religious political parties and no one in America or the West raises an issue or concern.

In the US religious oriented groups (Christians and Jews) also dominate political parties with their social and value oriented political agenda related to sex and same sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, phonograph, obscenity, abortion, prayers in schools among many religious oriented values.

Is AIPAC a subversive protected group in America?

There are literary hundreds if not thousands of these groups in the US with strong influence, in fact forms the backbone of political parties.

Among them are the Republican Party, groups like Moral Majority, National Organizations of Marriage, Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, National Associations of Evangelicals, American Israeli Public Affair Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Defense League and the list continues.

The Arab world is no different and is entitled to have “ Islamist” groups as part of the political landscape. Their value system for the most part is no different from that of Evangelicals in the US with emphasis on cultural purity and on moral values related to virtues, sex, obscenity, and booze among other things.

The concerns one should have, and I am one of those, is not with “Islamists” parties coming to power but what they will do with such powers. We have seen “secularism” destroy civil liberties, destroyed and corrupted any semblance of democratic institutions, sponsored and encouraged corruptions and looting of the state’s assets.

What the “Brothers” should understand is that the issues facing the Arab and Muslim world are not “sex and booze” but more than that. The Arabs and Muslim world are not looking for fast entry to heaven but to a decent life.

They want a citizenship where members of the different faiths (Muslims, Christians and Jews) and where women and men are equal in law and practice, and where reference to faith or sect are not part of the national identity cards and where religious (virtue) police is not substitute the secret police.

The Arabs and Muslim world are not looking for a Taliban state or for that matter a Sudan of Bashir/Turabi and are not looking for the “imams and clergy” emerging as a “nobility class” with powers and authority over people and policies, exercising powers not granted to them by citizens and voters.

What should any sensible person fear of the  Salafis?

The biggest fears of citizens are that of the “Salafis” who are no different of that of Haredi Jews and their intimidating life style over people, their value system and way of life.

Shaved heads and long beards do not entitle them to political powers and street authority.

Every one must understand the civil nature of the state, with separation of “church/mosque and state”, where the religious institutions whether Muslim or Christian are not part of or a substitute for the civil state.

No one needs or wants a state where a religious leader emerges as a “reference” to elected representatives of the people issuing “fatwa’s” as substitute for debated legislation in elected parliaments.

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NY Times Blasts French “Truth Terrorist” Dieudonné

The terrifying truth about the NY Times – and the rest of the mainstream media

The truth can be terrifying.

by Kevin Barrett


Explain to an average American that 9/11 was an inside job, and you can almost smell the fear.

Those of us committed to telling the most inconvenient truths are terrorists – truth terrorists. We do not shrink from the reality that our message will be greeted with fear.

But, unlike regular terrorists, our ultimate mission is to defuse the fear, not spread it. I try to use humor, outrage, passion, creativity, empathy, emanations of inner peace, and other such approaches to help people get past the fear that 9/11 was designed to inspire.

One of our greatest “truth terrorists” is the French comedian Dieudonné. He brilliantly conveys the deepest, ugliest truths, the ones that the New York Times considers unfit to print:

*That Zionism is genocidal lunacy, and the whole Western discourse on Zionism is a cascading avalanche of big and bigger lies;

*That the West is becoming a profoundly decadent, completely unfree, Orwellian nightmare of a culture that appears on the verge of total collapse;

*That the USA, with its culture of insane greed, genocidal extermination of “natives,” obsequious enslavement to Zionism, mindlessly brutal warmongering combined with almost unimaginable cowardice, and unbearable shallowness, superficiality, and mediocrity, is leading the planet straight to hell.

You don’t have to be an Israel-hating, America hating Frenchman to concede these points. Paul Craig Roberts, who wrote editorials for the Wall St. Journal until he started telling inconvenient truths, says pretty much the same thing in his latest op-ed:

“The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers-–Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy.

“The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction.

‘The criminally insane government in Washington, regardless whether Democrat or Republican, regardless of the outcome of the next election, is the greatest threat to life on earth that has ever existed.”

Here is Dieudonné’s recent NY Times interview (in French):

And here is the NY Times lame attempt at character assassination (in  English):

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Reports of Troop Movements Near Syrian Borders


by Stephen Lendman

After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced new rules of engagement, Turkey deployed missile batteries, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft weapons close to Syria’s border.

About 30 military trucks arrived in Iskenderun. From there, they moved toward Syria’s border 30 miles away.

Armored military vehicles also headed for Sanliurfa and Reyhanli in Southern Turkey’s Hatay Province.

On June 29, Reuters headlined “Syrian tanks amass near Turkish border, FSA (Free Syrian Army) general says.”

According to General Mustafa al-Sheikh, Syria deployed around 170 tanks north of Aleppo within 19 miles of Turkey’s border. No independent confirmation was provided.

Speaking to Reuters by phone, al-Sheikh said:

Tanks from the 17th Mechanized Division “are now at the Infantry School. They’re either preparing to move to the border to counter the Turkish deployment or attack the rebellious (Syrian) towns and villages in and around the border zone north of Aleppo.”

On Thursday, Turkey belligerently sent troops and weapons close to Syria’s border. Damascus perhaps reacted defensively.

Expect no imminent attack by either side. Ankara won’t act without orders from Washington. It hasn’t come, but could given escalating violence and rhetoric.

Saber rattling suggests public opinion is being conditioned for war. On June 28, Ankara’s National Security Council (MSK) said:

“Turkey will act with determination and make use of all its rights within international law against this hostile act.”

It referred to Syria downing its aircraft. It provocatively entered its territory low and fast. Damascus was blamed for Ankara’s belligerence. Expect more provocations to follow.

Meanwhile, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined “Saudi forces mass on Jordanian, Iraqi borders. Turkey, Syria reinforce strength,” saying:

“(H)eavy Saudi troop movements (headed) toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders (with Syria) overnight and up until Friday morning….after King Abdulah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive….”

Units include tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries. Two units were deployed. “One will safeguard Jordan’s King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.”

“The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syrian, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal – all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion.”

DF said Western forces reported Jordan “on war alert.”

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other regional states know Syria poses no threat. If confirmed, deploying Saudi troops to Syria’s border escalates tensions. It may also reflect belligerent intent.

On June 28, Assad was interviewed on Iran’s IRIB channel 4. He blamed Turkey for inciting violence. He’s hopeful military action won’t follow.

Libya’s model isn’t “a solution to be copied because it took (the country) from one situation into a much worse one. We all now see how the Libyan people are paying the price,” he said.

“The policies of the Turkish officials lead to the killing and bloodshed of the Syrian people,” he added.

He said reports about Iranian and Hezbollah forces aiding Syria are false.

“This is a joke that we hear many times in order to show that a rift has been created within the army and that therefore there is not an army.”

Pointing fingers at Washington, he said:

“The colonialist nature of the West has not changed. From the colonialist standpoint, regional countries should not move according to their national interests and if any country moves against their (Western) values and interests, they say no, like what happened in the case of Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Western states are opposed to Iran’s access to nuclear knowhow; they are more fearful of Iran’s expertise in the nuclear field than what they claim to be a nuclear bomb.”

He also called insurgents “gangs of mercenaries and criminals.” Outside forces are directing them.

For them and their sponsors, “reforms are not important, since the very forces that claimed (a lack of) reforms were the problem. They never benefited from them…all they wanted was (continued) unrest.”

He heavily criticized Arab League states. Their policies harm their own people. They supported NATO’s war on Libya.

“Syria was the only country that opposed the move and therefore we had to pay the price for this policy.”

“Consequently, immediately following our decision,” Western states “acted through the Arab League to put the attack on Syria on their agenda.”

“This has been the Arab League reality in the past, as it is at present.”

He acknowledged that Western-instigated violence ravages Syria. Thousands of ceasefire violations occurred. He has no information about planned military attacks. However, some countries “are making efforts to guide the situation toward” one.

“The West expresses support for the Annan Plan on the one hand, while on the other hand, they seek a plan to overthrow (the government).”

“This is the same double standard (approach) and political hypocrisy.”

“Westerners speak of human rights but give Israel weapons to kill Palestinians. This Western hypocrisy has not changed and will not change.”

He holds “outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist gangs” responsible for Syrian violence. He’ll continue confronting it responsibly.

On June 30, Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov will discuss Syria in Geneva. Expect no breakthroughs. Washington wants regime change.

Moscow wants Syrians alone to decide who’ll lead them. Lavrov and other Russian officials have been firm opposing foreign intervention. Expect neither side to yield on Saturday.

DF sounded an ominous warning, saying:

“The failure of (US/Russian) talks “would spell a worsening of the Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch Saturday, June 30.”

Determining when DF is right or wrong isn’t easy. The above comment sounds like bluster. It’s also about conditioning public opinion for war. Events on the ground bear watching.

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Why Would Jews Vandalize A Holocaust Memorial?


Religion News Service

By Lauren Markoe

Matityahu Drobles, a Holocaust survivor and former member of Israel’s parliament, looks at anti-Zionist graffiti sprayed on the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial compound in Jerusalem, Monday, June 11, 2012. Vandals desecrated the memorial, its chairman said Monday, suggesting radical ultra-Orthodox Jews were to blame. Hebrew reads, “an alternative holocaust memorial to the selective Yad Vashem should be built.” (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)


(RNS) The news that Israel’s memorial to Holocaust victims had been grafittied in early June with bitterly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements was shocking.

More shocking still was the news that the three men arrested for the crime are Jewish.

How could Jews desecrate the memories of millions of fellow Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis?

The religious identities of the culprits — however surprising to many who read of their arrests last Tuesday (June 26) — did not surprise many Israelis, however. They know that a number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, for religious reasons, believe the State of Israel should not yet exist.

Among ultra-Orthodox Jews, this view is not uncommon. Many interpret passages in religious texts to mean that the messiah must arrive before the State of Israel is reconstituted.

What is uncommon is the willingness to make the point by defiling Yad Vashem, the Hebrew name for Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, a nearly sacred civic monument founded in Jerusalem five years after the 1948 establishment of the nation.

“Every religion has its fringe, but these people are the fringe of the fringe,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C. “They are very troubled individuals. It’s just very disturbing and these people represent nobody but themselves.”

Even Jewish groups that promote the idea that the establishment of Israel was a terrible mistake have denounced the vandals. The suspects are three men, ages 18, 26 and 27, who live in Israel and have confessed to the crime, according to police.

Among the statements they painted in Hebrew at the memorial: “If Hitler had not existed, the Zionists would have invented him” and “Jews wake up — the Zionist regime is dangerous.”

Yirmiyahu Cohen, a writer for True Torah Jews, a New York-based group of fervently Orthodox Jews who believe that the Jewish state contradicts Jewish law, said he personally knows the men arrested for the crime, and deplores their actions.

But Cohen also expressed an understanding of the sentiments expressed in their graffiti. “There were Zionists who were complicit in the Holocaust, because they stood by and refused to save Jews, knowing that the destruction of European Jewry would create a political climate conducive to the founding of a Jewish state,” he said.

Historians of Zionism point to numerous Zionist efforts to save Jews from the Nazis.

“Jews overwhelmingly believed until not so long ago that the establishment of the Jewish people to their homeland could only take place when the messiah comes,” Cohen said.

He pointed to a portion of the Talmud — ancient rabbinic commentaries on Jewish law — that states that before the messiah’s arrival, Jews must live in exile and should not use “human force” to establish their own nation.

But Herzfeld said that interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and the commentaries is simply “misrepresenting the Torah and the Talmud.”


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Male Sex Drive to Blame for War?

Written by Jack Oliver

A few months ago,, the online version of the well-known British daily newspaper, ran an article entitled “Male Sex Drive ‘To Blame for World’s Conflicts’.” A team of evolutionary scientists, led by a Prof. Mark Van Vugt, claimed to have found the ever-elusive root cause of all war: males!

US Sodier in Iraq

US Sodier in IraqAccording to Prof. Van Vugt and his team, the prehistoric human male’s drive to earn access to mates through violence towards outsiders led to the passing along of aggressive genes and behavior. Sadly, these genes have remained with us throughout history, driving us to continuously wage war with ever-deadlier weapons. Unfortunately for humanity, the intrepid scientists were unable to offer a solution.

This latest version of the “man the hunter” hypothesis to explain human behavior is a good opportunity to clarify the Marxist position on war and its causes. First, let us examine the methods of the bourgeoisie in analyzing such complex questions.

It may be easy to laugh at the broad claims made in the study referenced above, but they are perfectly in line with, and are products of, the bourgeois mode of thought and the place of science in capitalist society. Science does not raise itself above society; it exists in the real world, as part of the web of property and production relations we all live under.

Funding for scientific research generally comes from either the government or big capital. In the United States, about 64% of research funding comes from the private sector, with profits being the ultimate goal of such work. Every historical epoch is dominated by the ideas of its ruling class, those who own the means of reproducing and disseminating ideas. This phenomenon is clearly apparent in the “Male Sex Drive” study.

It is abundantly clear to anyone who has gone through years of history lessons in school that the academic representatives of bourgeois thought regard war (and the rest of history, for that matter) as a kind of tragic mystery. It seems to simply occur as the result of some historical accident or another, in a world dominated by “Great Men.”

In light of such a view, it is not surprising that many of these academic masters consider the tendency toward armed conflict as part of man’s inherent nature. With this assumption as their starting point, groups of scientists then search for what it is in our bodies that drives us to repeatedly slaughter each other on a massive scale.

Such conclusions leave little to no room for the differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom, and this is not an accident. Formal logic and empiricism, the philosophical bases for bourgeois ideology, tend to view things on their own, in isolation, and classify them by differences and similarities in their being. Dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism, understands that everything is affected by both internal and external relations and contradictions. Humans are both part of nature and removed from it. We are products of the process of evolution and the wild, but also creators of our own material surroundings.

Alan Woods, in Reformism or Revolution wrote, “The worker works with tools and the raw materials furnished by nature. With the aid of these material things, men have always transformed the world and controlled their environment. And by changing the world around them, men also changed themselves.” With every technological development come changes in how we organize ourselves as a species. With every leap forward, we carry with us detritus from the past; no process happens in a nice, even way, especially the history of humanity.

Therefore, if humanity manipulates its own material surroundings and is able to reach higher levels of productivity, what does this mean for our analysis of war? From the perspective of the bourgeois, who believe that capitalism has always been and always will be, war seems like a constant entity, only changing in scope and level of technology. War may be hell, but it is here to stay.

As Marxists, we do not accept such a viewpoint. As human society changes, so do its relationships, up to and including war. War always serves a purpose in a given society and, in the last analysis, this purpose is always related to the economic motor of that society. That is, war reflects the class struggle and the interests of a particular class.

For instance, it is not true that the wars waged by the Roman Empire were ultimately the same as the wars waged by Napoleon Bonaparte. Rome was a slave society, meaning that the main producing class, and generator of wealth, was the slave class. War was waged by Rome, ultimately, to gain access to more slaves. Napoleon and the First French Empire, however, ultimately represented the interests of the rising French and European bourgeoisie as against the interests of the feudal kings, lords, and the Church.

The Napoleonic Wars, for all the destruction they wrought, effectively destroyed the hold of feudalism throughout much of Europe, and sowed the seeds for the eventual coming to power of the bourgeoisie in Germany, Italy, and other European states. Therefore, every war must be studied historically and in its class context, rather than lumped together and lamented as the eternal tragedy of human nature.

Marxists are not pacifists. We regard war as barbaric and brutal, yet also recognize that wars can at times be necessary, and can serve a historically progressive role. Certain wars of national liberation and civil wars waged by an oppressed class against an oppressor class would fall into this category. The American Revolution and Civil War are two such examples.

In the last century, the bourgeoisie fought two World Wars, which it sold to the workers and peasants as “necessary evils.” In reality, these wars were the inevitable result of world capitalism and the scramble for markets and spheres of influence by the imperialist powers. Today, many proxy wars rage around the globe, as the big players, unable to go to war directly at this stage, use mercenaries and local forces as pawns to fight in their interests. The real losers, as always, are the workers and poor of the world.

The real causes of war are therefore to be sought in the class structure of society, not in so-called, unchanging “human nature.” As the military theoretician Clausewitz explained, war is the continuation of politics by other means. Foreign policy is the extension of domestic policy. If the profit motive is the aim of the ruling class at home, so too is profit its motive in its adventures abroad.

The lesson to be learned is that as long as class society continues, there will be war in the interest of the ruling class. Lenin, in Socialism and War wrote that, “[Marxists] understand the inevitable connection between wars and class struggle within a country; we understand that wars cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and socialism is created.” As Marxists, we believe that in a socialist society, in which class contradictions, the need for a coercive state, and competition over scarce resources, are withering away, war too will become a thing of the past. In other words, to end war, end capitalism!

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Mourning Shamir


by Marc H. Ellis

How shall Jews mourn the death of Yitzhak Shamir? Born of a generation scarred by the Holocaust, a pioneer of the state of Israel, as well as the state’s longest serving prime minister, Shamir expanded the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and cruelly suppressed the Palestinian intifada of the late 1980s. How should such a person be remembered in the broader arc of Jewish history?

Our decision on how to mourn Shamir depends on which side of the Jewish empire divide we find ourselves on. In terms of Jewish empire, Shamir should be mourned. He should also be lauded. Rising from the ashes of the Holocaust, his operating motif was “by any means necessary.” As a leader in Jewish terrorist cells that formed the basis for the state of Israel, Shamir then used state violence in his role as prime minister.

Shamir had few if any qualms about using violence to achieve Israel’s goals – at least as he saw them. Indeed, though sometimes differing in tactics or, better, explaining those tactics which were essentially similar in content, few of Israel’s pioneers had qualms about what Jews did to Palestinians. That would come later, much later.

Many of the founders of the state have died. Others will follow soon. What are Jews to make of their efforts in building a Jewish state? Is it for us to judge them? Do we have enough historical distance to make these judgments? After the Holocaust, what can Jews say about Jewish empowerment? After what Israel has done to Palestinians, what is the price of our silence?

Jewish dissent regarding the state of Israel is longstanding. Today we have reached a crossroads. If our judgments about Israel’s policies are negative, perhaps they should they remain within the framework of the necessity of a Jewish state. We can parse policy decisions as to whether they are good for Israel. Or has the time come to question the very existence of Israel since as it turns out, the imperatives of a state are the same for Israel as for any other state? Israel’s state “imperative” reality is one that Jews have long denied.

With the death of Shamir, a broader critique of Jewish leadership in the post-Holocaust/Israel era is necessary. Where it will take us is unknown.

Shamir’s policies, as well as the policies of other of Israel’s prime ministers – and indeed those of Jewish leadership in America who have functioned as enablers of these polices – raise the issue of Jewish history and destiny to a new, unprecedented level. We have reached the point of no return. The choice is before us. Are we to be permanent conquerors of another people? Or we are to begin again, searching for an interdependent empowerment with Palestinians and with other communities around the globe?

If an interdependent empowerment is our goal, we need to seriously ask ourselves whether that goal can be reached with a Jewish state or if such a state permanently impedes that possibility. Today Israel and Jews in general are further away from an interdependent empowerment than at any time in the post-Holocaust era. Moreover, without a deep and material Jewish solidarity with a Palestinian future there is little chance for a collective or even individual ethical life as Jews.

Yitzhak Shamir should be remembered for impeding a Jewish ethical future. The first Palestinian intifada, which Shamir ordered crushed, may have represented the last chance for reaching across the Israel/Palestinian divide. Or was it the very formation of the state of Israel which Shamir helped birth?

The abyss of Jewish ethical life has arrived. It is us. Mourning Shamir must face this abyss squarely. As well, we must connect the Israel’s dots. Does Israel have the desire or the ability to cross back over the Jewish empire divide?

Mourning Shamir. Mourning what Jewish life has become. Hope for a future beyond being oppressed and oppressing others. The time is now. Is it too late?

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