Archive | October 18th, 2013

Lebanon Watch- 50 Kilos of Explosives in al-Maamoura Car, Suleiman Lauds Army Efforts

 A booby-trapped car seized Monday by the army in Dahieh contained around 50 kilograms of explosive material, an army statement said, as President Michel Suleiman hailed the military institution for its achievement.The vehicle turned out to contain “around 50 kilos of explosives: three landmines, six anti-vehicle grenades, a quantity of TNT, and some 20 kilograms of aluminum powder that is mixed with yellow sulfur and electric fuses,” according to the statement.“It turned out that the aforementioned car had been sold several times in the past,” the statement added.The Army Command noted that investigations are ongoing under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities “with the aim of identifying those involved in this criminal act,” urging citizens in all Lebanese regions to immediately report any suspicious activity.Meanwhile, President Suleiman hailed the army for seizing the car and lauded its efforts.“Eid (al-Adha) for the officers and soldiers takes its true meaning from their sacrifices for the sake of the country and civil peace,” Suleiman said, slamming “the plots against the innocent citizens that are aimed at undermining the stability that we are all seeking.”On Monday evening, the army said an explosive-rigged Grand Cherokee was found in the Beirut southern suburb of al-Maamoura and that military experts dismantled the bomb after cordoning off the area.
 The General Security arrested a Palestinian national on charges of belonging to a terrorist network, it announced in a statement on Monday.It said that W.N. was responsible for forging identification papers, with high level of proficiency, for terrorists.He was also in charge of designing and manufacturing electronic devises used in bomb timers.The suspect was charged with firing rockets and taking part in activities that violate the state’s internal and external security.The General Security also charged him with sectarian incitement.His case has been referred to State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr.Al-Akhbar newspaper had reported on Saturday that the General Security had arrested a man who forges IDs and is close to an al-Qaida terrorist who resides in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.The daily identified the suspect with his initials as W.N., saying the agency arrested him last week after monitoring his activities for weeks.They confiscated a forged ID with him, it said. The newspaper described him as the most professional identity theft suspect in Lebanon.

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Syria and Our Educational System

A Discussion With Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Lawrence Davidson and Ilan Pappé 
By Daniel Falcone and Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk and Lawrence Davidson and Ilan Pappe

 Syria’s civil war that started in March 2011 continues to attract Western attention. Although nearly half of the Syrian population does not support US leadership in the world, the United States has shown a “resolve” to make this one of our international priorities. For many citizens outside of the public arena, Syria is an obscure and irrelevant geographic location. Recent events in the diplomatic field have, however, catapulted the country to headlines across the United States. I spoke with four prominent public intellectuals to discuss the context of Syria within our educational system. This is a roundtable format including the eminent linguist and social scientist Noam Chomsky from MIT, Princeton professor emeritus of international law Richard Falk, professor of Middle East studies and author of the Middle East Reader Lawrence Davidson and Israeli historian and author of The Modern Middle East Ilan Pappé.
FALCONE: In The New York Times, recent articles covering Syria keep mentioning the importance of our “resolve.” What is meant by American “resolve?”
CHOMSKY: Alternatively, “credibility.” What I’ve called “the Mafia doctrine” in many publications: when the Godfather issues an edict, others must obey, or else. It’s too dangerous to allow disobedience. A leading principle of world affairs – though, of course, officials and commentators put it more politely.
FALK: I think “resolve” is a coded way of discussing the willingness to use force in support of what Obama calls America’s “core interests.” In this sense, a lack of resolve would denote a weakness of political will that would disappoint expectations of the Syrian rebel forces and indirectly others as well, including Israel. In the end, resolve refers to the credibility of American global leadership, which is especially subject to doubt, given the negative outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan – and given Republican obstructionism in Congress and the so-called war fatigue of the citizenry.
DAVIDSON: Within this context, what is meant is a resolve to be the world’s policeman. To right the alleged wrongs of those we regard as our enemies (we are not similarly concerned with the wrongs of those we designate our friends) even if we ourselves have carried out similar wrongs.
PAPPÉ: I think what the NYT means by resolve is a stance that does not change easily from day to day on the Syrian crisis. If you ask about what should be the American resolve, then I would say that it cannot be addressed only with regard to the present crisis in Syria. It needs to have a wider conceptual and moral infrastructure. Unless this American administration is willing to diverge from the conventional American policy in the Middle East by changing its basic attitudes on crucial questions, foremost of them Palestine, and support genuinely the rights of people for independence, sovereignty and identity across the board, the only “resolve” one would hope from the USA is to stay out of the Middle East for a while.
FALCONE: Also in conjunction with the articles, there is sort of an insinuation that Iran’s “nuclear threat” is being addressed when we address Syria. Doesn’t our sabre rattling only force Iran to entertain the idea of advanced weaponry?
CHOMSKY: Definitely. …
DAVIDSON: … Absolutely. … Threatening to attack a principle ally of Iran (Syria) is not the way to encourage cooperation in terms of armaments. However, what if the saber rattling is not designed primarily with Iran in mind, but rather with special interests that want to hear threats to Iran in exchange for their domestic political support? Then it makes sense. 
FALK: It would seem to be the case that pressure on Iran to acquire nuclear weapons is almost totally driven by their need for a deterrent capability to avoid the fate of Iraq, Libya. The use of American military force in Syria thus sends exactly the opposite message as supposedly desired to the leadership in Tehran – and to others. North Korea has been dealt with diplomatically because it has the bomb and might use it if provoked.
PAPPÉ: There was no need for the present charade on Syria to remind the government in Iran that the American dog is wagged by the Israeli tail to be more militant in its policy toward Iran. I am not sure to this very moment that Iran’s objective is to obtain “advanced weaponry.” The present rulers in Iran do not want to be seen as giving up the idea of “advanced weaponry” due to Israeli and American pressure. The myth, carried out from the end of the Second World War, that only “advanced weaponry” – or even the horrific events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – can produce unimaginable human catastrophes continues to blur our judgment. The worst crimes against humanity in the last half of the previous century and this century are carried out with conventional advanced weapons, upgraded daily by a greedy arms industry, super power’s apathy and criminal ideologies. In the Middle East, Iran lags behind many other military powers in this respect.
FALCONE: When President Obama addresses the nation he keeps repeating the phrase, “the international community.” What is meant by the international community? 
FALK: As Gandhi famously responded when asked about “Western civilization,” “I wish they had one,” the same applies to “international community”: “I wish there was one.” Of course, its use is a convenient way of invoking the collective actions of the world, as through the actions of the United Nations. The misleading implication, however, is to divert attention from the weakness of central institutions and procedures as compared to the strength of leading states. We live in a state-centric world faced with global-scale problems that cannot be met by the actions of single states, no matter how powerful, if assessed from the perspective of military capabilities.
CHOMSKY: The US and whoever goes along with it, often almost no one, as in this case.
DAVIDSON: This is a bit of verbal sleight of hand. The “international community” implies the world’s nations. In fact what the president is actually referring to is the US and its allies. And, as we have seen when the British Parliament backed out of the potential attack on Syria, the number of those allies is shrinking.
PAPPÉ: The president probably means those governments which agree with US policy. We can refer back to the UN charter, which saw the peoples, not the governments, as providing the basis for an international opinion. More often than not, there is inconsistency between the two.
FALCONE: I have noticed a lot of teachers using an article from The Washington Post that has gone viral: “9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask” by Max Fisher. The author admits the piece has a limited scope of information. Do Westerners get a cheapened version of Near East affairs in our educational system?
FALK: I think it is less the limited amount of information than the filters that information about the Middle East must pass through before being fairly addressed in the mainstream media. In more intellectual and geopolitical terms, the perceptions of the region are distorted by a combination of Orientalism and the priorities of the state of Israel, including the refusal to discuss the relevance of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal in the context of addressing Iran on its nuclear program.
CHOMSKY: Hopelessly. …
DAVIDSON: … Most of the time, teachers who talk about the Middle East do not know the history, culture or present context of the problems they are discussing. So they go to the media, which quote government or academic “experts” (who often are no such thing) or journalists who, by virtue of working for the media, are supposed to know what they are talking about. In the end they know little or nothing beyond a standard line that reflects the perceptions of the US government and its special-interest supporters. That is what the students get. Indeed, that is what we all get.
PAPPÉ: While in the American academia the knowledge production on the Middle East in general and Syria in particular has been considerably transformed in recent years, the dissemination of these more updated views fails to reach the conventional educational system. For two main reasons: Politics can still subdue and censor views that are not endorsed ideologically, and academics have still not learned how to write openly, directly and, one should say, courageously about these issues.
FALCONE: Can you recommend articles, authors and book titles that can help teachers break the traditional mold of textbook teaching that tend to conceptualize the Near East narrative incorrectly?
DAVIDSON: Well, the best textbook on the market is the one I co-authored with Arthur Goldschmidt, the Concise History of the Middle East (Westview Press). Students and teachers also now have access to web sources that often give an alternate point of view, such as Al Jazeera English and Electronic Intifada. One can balance the standard line on events if one does a bit of searching.
FALK: The literature on the region is generally not very good. The writing on individual countries is far better. There are some books edited by the Iraqi scholar teaching in Canada Tareq Ismael that give good and balanced overviews of regional issues, and I would suggest Edward Said for the cultural underpinnings of misperceptions relating to the region.
FALCONE: Another observation in US media is the marriage of the word terrorist with Muslim. In other words, after last week’s shooting at the D.C Naval Yard, news anchors would say, “We still don’t know if the suspected killer is a terrorist.” What kind of impact might this habitual commentary have on our educational system?
CHOMSKY: The intended meaning is clear: Demonize Muslims, and deflect attention from the obvious but unutterable fact that the US has been the leading terrorist state in the world for many years.
DAVIDSON: The continual linking of the notions of terrorist and terrorism with Muslims and the Middle East is, essentially, an act of propaganda that cannot help but promote “Islamophobia.” Shooting down a dozen innocent people (as happened in Washington, DC, last week) at random is an act of terrorism, no matter who does it. What possible justification can there be to restrict the definition to adherents of a particular religion? If the reply is 9/11, the counter fact is that 99.5 percent of the world’s Muslims were as appalled at that event as everyone else.
PAPPÉ: Similar demonization of Muslims was done in Norway in the first hours after the massacre carried out by a white supremacist. The demonization has been in the US, long before 9/11, as Edward Said’s Unveiling Islam has shown. Films, media, educational system and arts portray Muslims in a racist and negative way. The more interesting question, for which we have no time right now, is who is behind these images.
FALK: There is no doubt that this fusion of terrorist and Muslim feeds virulent forms of Islamophobia, which is also encouraged by such incidents as the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi and the Anglican Church bombing in Pakistan. 9/11 greatly intensified this tendency toward fusion, but it had also been nurtured by Israeli propaganda that portrayed their Palestinian and Arab adversaries as “terrorists.” In fact, the US government approach after 9/11 was modeled in many of its features on Israeli tactics developed during the long occupation of Palestine.
FALCONE: Have you ever been invited to speak at a high school on the Muslim world? Why might this be so unlikely to happen? 
CHOMSKY: I think you know why it’s unlikely. I’ve occasionally been asked to talk on Israel-Palestine. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it elicits hysteria in the community.
DAVIDSON: I have not been invited into a Muslim high school, but I have been invited to speak to college classes in the Muslim world. I think this is simply because I am better-known in college and university circles. There is no inherent reason why I would be unwelcome at the high school level.
FALK: I have been invited a few times over the years, usually at the initiative of student groups, not the school administration or faculty. This seems unlikely to happen both because of bias and fear of controversy.
PAPPÉ: Yes, but mostly because those who invited me did not know who I was.
FALCONE: Do you read the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs? What are your thoughts on the publication?
CHOMSKY: Not trustworthy in my opinion, though I often agree with their conclusions.
DAVIDSON: Yes, this is a very good source of information. It is one of those sources that people should use to get an alternative view of what is going on in the region and what are the consequences of US foreign policy.
PAPPÉ: Excellent and informative publication.

FALK: I believe that the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is a valuable resource, probably the best offset to the mainstream treatment of the region. It consistently publishes insightful commentary on delicate issues of US foreign policy bearing on the Middle East and also interprets developments in the region in a more illuminating way.

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Defense Industry Ties to Media Commentators and Think Tanks That Participated in Syria Debate

The following report documents the industry ties of 22 media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. These individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.This report details these ties, in addition to documenting the industry backing of think tanks that played a prominent role in the Syria debate. It reveals the extent to which the public discourse around Syria was corrupted by the pervasive influence of the defense industry, to the point where many of the so-called experts appearing on American television screens were actually representatives of companies that profit from heightened US military activity abroad. The threat of war with Syria may or may not have passed, but the threat that these conflicts of interest pose to our public discourse – and our democracy – is still very real.


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Warrant Out for Dissident Syrian Colonel over Terror Plots 
The military examining magistrate issued on Thursday an arrest warrant against a dissident Syrian colonel for forming an armed gang to carry out terrorist activities. The warrant was issued after Judge Fadi Sawan interrogated the suspect identified as Ahmed Amer, a Syrian Army colonel who has defected.He referred him to the military prosecution to take the appropriate action. On Wednesday, the State Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Saqr Saqr, charged 12 people, including a Lebanese and 2 Syrians who are in custody, with plotting terrorist activities and planning assassinations. The three suspects were arrested by the General Security Department. But LBCI TV said Amer is not linked with the 12-member network. He was seeking to recruit fighters to send them to Syria, it said.

 Report: Telecom Data Analysis Finds Link between 12-Member Terror Cell and Fatah al-Islam

Twelve suspects charged with planning terrorist activities in Lebanon, including assassinations, have been in contact with members of Fatah al-Islam terror group in Roumieh prison, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.The newspaper said that analysis of the so-called telecommunications data revealed that the members of the network had contacted several Fatah al-Islam inmates in the prison.The examination of the calls is ongoing to know the connection between the two sides, it said.The State Commissioner to the Military Court, Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Wednesday the 12 suspects, including a Lebanese and 2 Syrians who are in custody, with plotting terrorist activities and forming an armed gang to carry out terrorist operations.The charges include buying arms, rockets and bombs to plant them throughout Lebanese territories, and plotting assassinations against personalities in northern Lebanon who back the Syrian regime.
The suspects were also planning to booby-trap vehicles.Security and judicial sources told al-Joumhouria that two personalities from the Syrian opposition were on the assassination list of the 12-member network, in addition to several Sunni clergymen in the northern city of Tripoli who are supporters of the regime in Syria.The daily identified the clergymen as Bilal Shaaban and his brother, in addition to another Sunni man – Kamal Kheir, who heads a political association and a charity in northern Lebanon.

The General Directorate of General Security on Tuesday announced dismantling a “terrorist cell” that was plotting assassinations and bombings in several Lebanese regions.
“Three people of Lebanese and Syrian nationalities have been arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist cell that was plotting acts of sabotage across Lebanon through bomb attacks and assassination operations,” a General Security statement said.“The detainees were interrogated and referred to the military judiciary together with the seized material, which include explosives, communication devices and silenced weapons,” it added.The directorate stressed that it “will not hesitate to pursue terrorist groups, subversive gangs and illegal emigration networks — in coordination with the rest of the security agencies – in order to preserve the safety of citizens and the security and stability of the country.”NNA later said two of those arrested were Syrians and a third was Lebanese.The announcement comes after a wave of arrests by the various security services in the wake of four deadly bombings that rocked Lebanon – two in Beirut’s southern suburbs and two in Tripoli.

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Canadian State Waging War Against Mi’kmaw First Nation


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UK TODAY: Homelessness crisis: a tale of rogue operators, neglect and abuse


The news that one-in-three Britons has been touched by homelessness should shock us into action.

Young person homeless

Homelessness is rising, and coalition policies on housing and welfare are making the situation worse. Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary/Alamy

Families evicted from their homes at little notice, or forced out of settled accommodation because of cuts to welfare; children placed in dangerous and unsafe B&B hotels for longer than the law allows; vulnerable adults exposed to abuse in unregulated emergency accommodation. This is not a description of the plight of wartime refugees, but an account of the grave housing crisis here in the UK.

Homelessness is rising, and coalition policies on housing and welfare are making the situation worse. The impact of the bedroom tax and caps on overall benefit claims are pushing more people into the private rented sector, at a time when private landlords are fleeing the market because many can no longer return by housing benefit claimants. Between April and June this year, 3,580 households became homeless due to their private tenancy coming to an end, an increase of a third over the same period in 2012.

The problem is particularly acute for families: 34,080 households with children were accepted as homeless by local authorities in 2012, an increase of 12% on the previous year, and almost 77,000 children are living in temporary accommodation.

Homelessness is not a minority concern. Like Cathy Come Home in the 1960s, the news this week that one-in-three Britons has been touched by homelessness is shocking. It should shock us into action.

What makes this statistic even more alarming is that it comes at a time when the homelessness sector is facing a standards crisis of its own. Rogue operators are setting up services for homeless people without experience or understanding of their needs, cashing in on our spiralling housing crisis.

This summer I reported on alarming levels of neglect and abuse: hostels run by dealers picking up drug-dependent clients, alcoholics placed in hostels with a licensed bar, women sexually assaulted, vulnerable young people placed next to residents with a history of offending, buildings in poor physical condition.

The local government ombudsman this week hit out at councils for inappropriate use of temporary accommodation, including leaving families in B&Bs for longer than the legal six-week limit. But it is unfair to heap the blame on local authorities who are themselves running out of options as government funding dries up.

The Homeless Link survey, which identified how widespread homelessness has become, also found that eight in nine people agreed it was up to councils to do more to solve the problem. But the same study revealed that, since 2010, government cuts have led to the closure of 133 homelessness projects, the loss of more than 4,000 bed spaces and a 16% cut in the number of full-time staff employed in the sector.

Homeless people are forced to live in these squalid, dangerous conditions because local authorities have no other option but to place homeless households in unregulated private accommodation.

It is up to the government to take a stand. A widespread development programme to help ease the housing crisis will take time, but in the short term homelessness services must be subject to strict regulation so we can be sure that if we or those we know fall on hard times there will be quality provision to help them back on their feet.

Today, hostel owners and B&B managers face virtually no regulation at all – despite pocketing large sums of public money through housing benefit payments. We are spending taxpayers’ money on services that compound costly social problems rather than working to solve them.

Filling in a form to register a house of multiple occupation is not a sufficient test for such an important service. We need a form of regulation which ensures that hostel and B&B owners are educated in their clients’ needs, are providing safe and secure accommodation, and are taking action around safety issues such as the risks involved in placing care leavers next to known offenders. Most fundamentally, regulation must eradicate the rogues who are exploiting homeless people and compounding their problems.

Last Thursday’s World Homelessness Day passed relatively unnoticed. If we ignore the problems we face, none of us will have the luxury of blindness on the matter this time next year. We need a minimum standard for homeless accommodation and support now more than ever. The coalition government has done so much to exacerbate our housing crisis: here’s one simple measure it can take to ameliorate its most destructive qualities.

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Glen Greenwald Says The ‘Most Shocking’ NSA Leaks Yet to Come


What could possibly be worse than what we have already learned?

FT. MEADE, MD - UNDATED: (FILE PHOTO) This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Photo by NSA via Getty Images)

FT. MEADE, MD – UNDATED: (FILE PHOTO) This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Photo by NSA via Getty Images)

By JG Vibes | October 16, 2013 | 5:24am EST

WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) — The Edward Snowden leaks have confirmed what many people in the alternative media have been saying for a long time, that the NSA is spying on almost everyone on the planet.

Since the first leaks were released, the entire mainstream dialogue regarding government surveillance has completely changed, with big brother no longer being a “conspiracy theory”.

This week Glen Greenwald made news with the announcement that he would be leaving the Guardian to work on an independent media project.  He has also made news by claiming that the biggest NSA leaks are yet to come.

“There are a lot more stories,” Greenwald told a large crowd at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro. “The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.” 

Common Dreams reported that the first leak will include details of U.S. spying in France and Spain, similar to revelations of U.S. spying in Brazil that has angered the Brazilian government and set off a chain of tense exchanges between the two.

Greenwald also noted that he is in daily contact with Edward Snowden, as well as with the Berlin-based U.S. filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has been working with him on the NSA stories. Together they are carefully sifting through the “thousands and thousands” of NSA documents yet to shock the world, said Greenwald.

“We are undertaking high-risk journalism. We shall continue doing so until we publish the last document I have,” Greenwald recently told a Brazilian congressional panel investigating the allegations that Washington spied on Brazil.



[1] Greenwald: ‘Most Shocking’ NSA Stories Yet to Come – Common Dreams


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Troops to Stay in Afghanistan, but Demands for War Crime Immunity Denied


John Kerry demands that government agents get immunity from war crimes committed in Afghanistan

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he listens to a translation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaking next to him during a press conference at the Hotel Intercontinental on September 12, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. The leaders met to discuss chemical weapons in Syria in working towards assisting a U.N. Security Council resolution. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he listens to a translation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaking next to him during a press conference at the Hotel Intercontinental on September 12, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. The leaders met to discuss chemical weapons in Syria in working towards assisting a U.N. Security Council resolution. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

By JG Vibes | October 16, 2013 | 3:30am EST

WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) —  This week there have been a large number of stories in the news about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the fact that the mainstream media has reported on multiple different occasions that those wars have come to an end.

This weekend US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Afghanistan to hold a formal discussion with the regions puppet dictator, President Hamid Karzai.  The main focus of the discussion was to come to an agreement about leaving 10,000 American troops in the country to fighting.

However, the discussion came to an abrubt end when John Kerry suggested that American troops should have immunity from war crimes.

It is beyond the scope of the Afghan president and his government to decide whether to grant US military personnel immunity, Karzai told Kerry, adding that this “issue of jurisdiction” would be referred to the country’s loya Jirga, an assembly of elders, leaders and other influential people.

“We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security agreement,” Kerry told reporters at a Kabul news conference, stressing, however, that an agreement was otherwise essentially in place. [1]

“I don’t believe these occupiers should be protected from prosecution for war crimes,” Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice told Common Dreams“Immunity is just another extension of occupation.”[2]

“This has been brewing for a while,” Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, told Common Dreams. “This is what they were trying to do in Iraq, but the U.S. couldn’t get Iraq to agree. This is almost an exact replay.”

 ”These are not very good agreements,” Martincontinued. “The people of Okinawa are furious at rape and sexual assault by U.S. troops.”

“This is part of our country’s sickness and addiction to militarism,” he added. “There is no reason the people of Afghanistan should accept immunity.”

While the issue of immunity was denied, it was also decided that American troops will stay in Afghanistan after the date that they were originally supposed to come home.



[1] Kerry fails to secure deal on US ‘troop immunity’ in Afghanistan –RT

[2] ‘Iraq Replay’: Kerry Demands Immunity for US Troops in Afghanistan – Common Dreams

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I$raHelli police lock up Haifa activist for Facebook statuses

Police detained and held Razi Nabulsi, a young Palestinian from Haifa for a week for statuses he posted to Facebook and Twitter, claiming they constituted incitement. The catch? Even though the statuses were posted publicly on the Internet, police declared them to be secret evidence and refused to publicly say in court what he was accused of writing.

By Yoav Haifawi

Razi Nabulsi, a 23-year-old activist and student in Haifa, spent the last week in jail for statuses he publicly posted on Facebook and Twitter.

His detention was extended twice. In four different court hearings during the week (two remand extension hearings and two appeals) the Haifa court decided that his statuses constitute a danger to the State of Israel. The court extended his remand to custody on the grounds of “incitement.”

Razi was represented by attorneys Aram Mahamid and Hassan Jabareen from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

The materials the police submitted to the judge were, of course, “secret.” What we were able to understand from what police investigators said in court in response to the defense attorneys, was that the allegations were based on statuses Razi supposedly posted on Facebook and some leaflets that were distributed in the streets of Haifa. He was also accused of possessing books by the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani.

Police freely admitted that Razi was not accused of any violence and clarified that they do not suspect that any other person committed any offense as a result of Razi’s “incitement.” Police also told the court that Razi participated in demonstrations, as if that’s a crime.

The weirdest thing about Razi’s ordeal was that, with the exception of some translated texts (more on that below), the prosecution refused to say in court what Razi wrote in his statuses. All the protestations of the lawyers from Adalah, which claimed that statuses that you publish online can’t be defined as “secret” and that there is no logic to accusing somebody of “incitement” without relating it to specific statements, were in vain.

In one of his hearings, Razi’s attorney argued: “When the publication is the basis of the offense, it doesn’t make any sense that the published material is kept secret… and the publication itself was public.”

The judge rejected the argument.

According to what the Haifa police representative said in court, the State Attorney gave police special permission to open an investigation against Razi on July 10. Only now, after three months of an undercover investigation, did they decide to make the investigation public by searching Razi’s home and detaining the “target.”

For those unfamiliar with Israel’s legal system – it should be made clear that Razi was detained “for interrogation” and was not indicted for any crime. Israeli law allows such detention for purposes of interrogation to last for several weeks.

The art of police translation

In one of the remand extension hearings police presented some Hebrew texts it claimed were translation of statuses which Razi posted on his Facebook page in Arabic. The defense attorney requested to see the original Arabic texts, because translations by the police are sometimes misguided, biased or might distort the author’s intention. Police refused to allow the lawyer to see the original Arabic texts that they claimed to have “translated” – claiming that they were secret investigative materials.

Several years ago a group of protesters from the city of Allid (Lod) was accused of possessing a sign that says “كل الكرامة والعزة لشهدائنا الأبرار” (All the honor and glory of our innocent martyrs). The police translated it to “כל הכבוד לעזה והמחבלים המתאבדים” (“All the honor to Gaza and the suicide terrorists”). The detainees’ attorney argued strongly against the false and misleading translation, which violated his client rights. The judge (in this case eager to see justice) ordered the police to bring a professional translation by an academic expert in Arabic.

The protesters remained in jail for another week, until the authorized translation arrived.

The most dangerous Facebook status

You might understand that we were all deadly curious to know what was in Razi’s Facebook statuses.

So after full seven days in detention, when Razi was finally released on Wednesday, we went to his family’s home in ‘Iblin (in the Galilee), where he is under house arrest, to say Hamdillilah ‘A Salameh and ask what those dangerous statuses were all about.

Razi gave us many examples of the statuses he was interrogated about, divided between the foolish, misleading translations, ignorance, gossip, whatever. But at least in one case I could understand the horror his status aroused in the people that are responsible for state security.

“One day the nightmare will be over,” the status read.

The interrogator claimed he clearly wrote it to express his wish that the state of Israel will cease to exist!

Razi has his own blog (Arabic) and I’m sure that he will write all the important details about his detention and interrogation. But as of now he is forbidden by court order from touching a computer or any other “media tool,” including a phone (until Sunday), a release condition the police didn’t even ask for.

*Yoav Haifawi is the pen name of a Haifa-based activist. He maintains the Free Haifa blogs (in EnglishArabic & Hebrew). A version of this article first appeared on Free Haifa English.

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