Archive | February 8th, 2015

Book: The King’s Torah and the Killing of Palestinians

  • Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr


  • Title of the book: The King’s Torah

    Authors of the book: Nazi -Jewsih Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur

    The impact of the torching a mosque in the Upper-Galilee village of Tuba Zingerah, which lies within the Green Line, on October 3, 2011 by an Israeli underground organization, raises urgent questions on the motives of burning the mosque and the body behind this crime. The underground, Jewish terrorist organization, which burnt the mosque, left its mark at the crime scene, just as it did when it set fire to more than five mosques in the occupied West Bank recently. On the walls of the mosques it burnt the Jewish terrorist organization sprayed the Hebrew words tag mehir (literally translated as “price tag”). In such a crime, the primary suspect is a racist and extremist network that is rooted in the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, especially the Jewish religious schools (yeshivas) scattered in these settlements and their extensions across the Green Line. In order to scrutinize the background of these heinous crimes, and their underpinning in intellectual, religious and political basis, embraced and heralded by a very large number of West Bank settlers, as well as a growing number of Israelis inside the Green Line, it is useful to read The King’s Torah, a book written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Yeshivat Od Yosef Chai (Joseph Still Lives), in the Yitzhar settlement located in the West Bank, south of the city of Nablus. The book is co-authored by Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, a teacher at the same religious Yeshiva. It should be noted that this book is just the tip of the iceberg of extremist, racist, and anti-human ideas that poison the mobilized students’ minds of the Jewish religious schools in the West Bank settlements, in addition to the settler rabbis who foment hatred, racism, and hostility among their followers in the settlements, yeshivas or beyond toward the Palestinians.

    The King’s Torah aims to determine the position of the Torah and Jewish law on gentiles (non-Jews or ‘goyim‘ in Hebrew), which the Jewish State and the Jews must be committed and adhere to. The book classifies mankind into multiple ranks. According to this classification, Jews are ranked higher. They are, immeasurably, better than any other human beings. It deems the Jews as the only real humans, while the gentiles are lower in rank – closer to the status of animals. Therefore, the Jewish State and the Jews should take discriminative attitudes toward them, at best, or allow them be killed, or they should often be killed, particularly in time of war.

    The King’s Torah … a guide to the killing of Palestinians

    The two authors extensively tackle an issue that dominates the entire book – that is, when will the Jews be allowed to kill the gentiles (goyim)? When should the Jews kill them? The gentiles must not be misidentified. Clarifying the ‘gentiles’ here as being basically the Palestinian Arabs, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburg, a revered religious figure among the religious Jews in Israel, says in the introduction to The King’s Torah that the issues addressed by the book “are closely related to the situation in the land of Israel, which we should restore from our enemies.” He argued that the book serves the objective of achieving this goal, strengthening the morale of the Israeli people and soldiers, and explaining both the Torah’s deep comprehensive view and Jewish law on outstanding relevant issues. “In the war on the fate of the land of Israel, the gentiles must be killed,” the authors say, adding, “The gentiles, who claim this land for themselves, are stealing it from us, but it is a legacy from our forefathers.” This book really represents a guide for the perplexed, the hesitant and those who seek a religious Jewish legal opinion (fatwa) as to when it is allowed to kill the Palestinian Arabs and when this “should” take place according to the Jewish law. Moreover, it provides moral and religious support to many settlers and Israelis who are convinced of the content of this book before reading it.

    Written in ancient Hebrew similar to ancient religious Jewish writings, the authors consolidate their views in the book, especially those calling for the killing of gentiles (i.e., the Palestinians), with texts from Jewish law and a lot of quotes by senior Jewish rabbis through different ages. They make this a backdrop for any opinion they hold in the book, giving it a religious aura influencing many Jews, especially the religious. The outstanding religious sources of the Jewish law were a basis for the book. In addition to the written Torah, which they quote little, the authors depend as well on the oral Torah, Mishnah (about AD 200), and on post-Mishnah rabbinic interpretations compiled in the Babylonian Talmud (AD 5th Century Babylonia) and the Jerusalem Talmud (AD 4th Century Palestine). The King’s Torah is also based on Mishneh Torah, compiled and commented on by Moses Ben Maimon or Maimonides (Rambam) (1135-1204), and Rabbi Moshe Ben Nahman’s (Ramban) writings, as well as Rabbi Joseph Caro’s Shulhan Arukh (The Prepared Table) (published in the sixteenth century), and the writings and opinions of 20th Century senior rabbis who held a prominent place in the Zionist religious mainstream, such as Rabbi Kook.

    Although it is widely based on the most important sources in Jewish law,The King’s Torah reviews and cites the most extremist Jewish texts, legal opinions, and interpretations that permit, favor, call for or mandate the killing of ‘gentiles,’ overlooking the positive human values ​​of the Jewish law. This makes the book more dangerous, as it incites and openly calls for the extermination of the Palestinian Arabs.

    Chapters of the Book 

    Published in 2009 by the Biblical Institute in Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, the 230-page The King’s Torah consists of an introduction, six chapters, and a summary. The Biblical Institute intends to issue a second volume of the book once the authors complete it. It will address a range of topics, such as the position of The King’s Torah toward the “minorities in the Jewish State”.

    In chapter one, the authors confirm that the biblical obligation “Thou shalt not kill” only prohibits the killing of a Jew by a Jew, but it does not apply at all to the Jew who kills one or more gentiles. The book points out that in many cases the Jew has the right to kill the gentiles. In many other cases, the Jew should kill the gentiles.

    In chapter two, entitled “The Killing of a Non-Jew Who Violates the Seven Laws (of Noah),” the authors stress that a non-Jew who violates one of the laws ordained on Noah’s sons “must be killed”. God, according to the authors, asked all human beings to accept His Torah, but only the Children of Israel responded while all other human beings rejected God’s ordinance. Therefore, God distinguished the Children of Israel from all other human beings, and gave them a very special and reputable status and drew them to Him. Conversely, God degraded the gentiles, whom the authors call “Noah’s sons” and classify them in lower ranks in a hierarchy of classification for the human beings set by The King’s Torah. Noah’s sons must commit themselves to the Seven Laws ordained by God through the Children of Israel, with any Jew having the right to kill anyone from Noah’s sons who violates one of the Seven Laws. The implementation of this murder, according to the authors, does not require a court of law or prosecution witnesses. It is enough for a Jewish person to see or know that a non-Jew violates one of the Seven Laws and thus kills him.

    In chapters three and four, the authors compare between Jews and gentiles, focusing on how far each side adheres to their respective beliefs and their position on murder. The Jews are freer to kill non-Jews than the gentiles can kill other gentiles, the authors conclude.

    Murder is the Master of Rulings

    In chapter five, entitled “The Killing of Gentiles in War,” the authors write that it is not only the fighters who engage in war against Israel that should be killed, but any citizen in the region or in a hostile state, who encourages fighters or expresses satisfaction with their actions, must be killed as well. They add that the citizens of a hostile state or region, who do not encourage their state to commit acts of war, can be killed, claiming that the Jewish law doubts that they do not want, in time of peace, to shed the blood of the Jews. This suspicion is growing to the extent that they want to shed the blood of the Jews in time of war, thus allowing the killing of those innocent civilian gentiles who do not participate at all in the course of war. The authors give other reasons for allowing the killing of innocent civilians. “A large part of the malice and evil that exists within these civilian gentiles stems from their violation of the Seven Laws,” the authors say. “Hence, we would enforce the ruling and kill them because of their violation of this. This is why our great sages ruled that the best gentiles during the time of war are ‘the dead’ – that is, there is no room for reforming the gentiles, given their intensive danger and malice. As for children from birth through adolescence, who of course do not violate the Seven Laws for not realizing or hearing about them, can be killed “because of the future risk they pose if they are allowed to live and grow up and thus become evildoers like their parents.” The authors add, “Of course, the children and other civilians, whom the evildoers seek their protection, are allowed to be killed too. Thus, the evildoers must be killed, even if this led to the killing of children and civilians.”

    Targeting Innocent Civilians 

    In chapter six, “Targeting the Innocents,” the authors tackle the killing of the innocents in a “good state,” (i.e., Israel), saying that this “good state” used to force its innocent men to go to war and risk their life. Not only that, but the state used to appoint guards to stand behind the fighting soldiers to kill whoever escapes from them. The authors add that if the king could not harm his combatant citizens in order to participate in war and force them to make headway and be ready for death, his kingdom cannot face bad people who do not hesitate to kill to achieve victory. If the king, the authors conclude, is allowed to kill his innocent combatant men to force them to fight, he has the right and it is allowed to target the civilians belonging to the kingdom of evildoers.

    The authors emphasize Israel’s right to target and kill the citizens of a hostile state, regardless of their age and number. Even if they have just been born, elderly or on the brink of death, be they male or female, participating in fighting or not, Israel is entitled to target and kill them all. Their view is based on the Jewish law and rabbinic interpretations over ages. The authors use all provisions of Jewish law that allow for the killing of gentiles, such as the ruling of pursuing and persecuting the Jews, thedin rodef (law of the pursuer), and slandering the Jews or din moser (law of the informant), all to justify Israel’s killing of Palestinians. Again the authors confirm that the Palestinians should be killed because they violate the Seven Laws, adding that the Palestinian civilians who help the “killers” must be targeted, even if the innocent were forced to do so. “Even if they are tied or imprisoned and no way to escape and have no choice but to stay in the same place, like hostages, they can be targeted, crushed and killed if this is the way to get rid of the evildoers. As we explained earlier, whoever helps to kill someone against their will can be targeted and killed. In many cases, children find themselves in such a case: they block, by their presence at the scene, the way of rescue. They are forced to do so unintentionally. However, they can be targeted and killed, for their presence helps murder.” Accordingly, it can be concluded that the The King’s Torah justifies Israel’s targeting and killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians if they happen to be, willingly or forcibly, in a big building where a wanted Palestinian is in.

    The authors make a distinction between the laws of war that apply to non-Jewish States, and the laws that apply to Israel. In a war between two “fair” and “evil” non-Jewish States, if the military action carried out by the fair state leads to the killing of a large number of innocent citizens of the evil state to save a few citizens of the former, the latter is prohibited from carrying out this operation. However, “in war between Israel and gentiles, we simply prefer to kill non-Jews in order to save the Jews, because the lives of the Jews are more valuable and better, as we explained in Chapter Four. Moreover, the Jews are the ones who are reforming the world and also delivering the Word of God, especially the Seven Laws, to the whole world.”

    Revenge…revenge…on children

    The authors put revenge in an aura of veneration in chapter six of The King’s Torah, confirming that Israel should take revenge on the Palestinians. Revenge is a necessity that makes the killing of evildoers a must. It is an essential need to defeat and win. Therefore, it is possible to delay the burial of a dead body in order to take revenge. As manifestation of justice, revenge must be done with enthusiasm and “without accountability”. Revenge is not only necessary for those alive, but also for the dead. “In the world of the dead, there is a similarity between a person’s soul and justice. The soul demands justice, which is revenge.” The authors add, “No one must be excluded when Israel retaliates. All the Palestinians are vulnerable to retaliation. In the face of revenge, no one is innocent, be they old, young, children, men or women, and regardless of their health.  Children and adults, men and women, whatever their condition, should be avenged.” Justifying the killing of children, particularly infants who have just been born, the authors say the Children of Israel had killed the young children of Midian (is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur’an believed to be located in Saudi Arabia) in the bygone time. The killing of children en masse is not only meant to create a balance of terror, because those children belong to the evildoers, but for “the existence of an internal need for revenge,” and the killing of children, especially the young, responds to this need. Enumerating reasons for the killing of Palestinian children, the authors say it is possible to deal with the necessity of killing Palestinian children on the basis that they are chosen by fate to be killed to save the Jews. By the same token, by killing them, evil can be avoided. “In addition to what we mentioned in the previous chapter, they are, of course, accused of becoming evildoers when they grow up,” they say.

    It is noted that all penalties and provisions included in The King’s Torahbook for any offense is murder and death. There are no penalties in the book but murder and death. Even the punishment prescribed by the book on the innocent is murder and death. Other penalties, such as imprisonment, fining or the like, have no room in the book. It is also noted that the book does not recognize international laws related to war, protection of civilians in time of war, or international humanitarian law on the prevention of genocide and punishment of the perpetrators. This is, perhaps, because the book assumes, as many Israelis believe, that Israel is above the international laws, and as long as the US administration supports Israel, the balance of power in the region will tilt in favor of Israel, while the Arab countries are subject to Israel and are unable to face or resist it.

    The danger of this book lies in the fact that its hostile theories and ideas – the worst ever inhuman theories that emerged in human history – are not confined to a few setters isolated from the rest of the Israeli society. These ideas are adopted by very large segments of the Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, and large groups of religious Zionists as well as the ultra-Orthodox Jews, the Haridim, in Israel. The senior rabbis, who publicly support The King’s Torah and defend what is mentioned in it, are not marginal at all. They are known for being belonging to the religious mainstream of Israel, both religious ultra-Orthodox (Haridim)and national-Zionist wings. In addition, thousands graduate from the Jewish religious schools (yeshivas) in the Israeli settlements and inside Israel after they have learnt hatred, resentment, and anti-human values, such as the hostile, attitudes toward the Palestinians calling for their expulsion and killing. These values are also based on the teachings mentioned in The King’s Torah that advocate extermination of the Palestinians. The number of students is growing year after year as are the numbers in the Israeli army.

    The danger of this book does not lie in the adoption and preaching of these ideas, even though it is very dangerous. Rather, large sectors of the settlers turn from the adoption of these ideas into putting them into action. Under the auspices of the Israeli government and the protection of the occupying Israeli army, the settlers have been assaulting Palestinians, their property, and holy places. The rabbis and yeshiva students, who revere the ideas of The King’s Torah and deal with it as their original Torah, represent the spearhead of settlers and the occupation. They abuse the Palestinians, ravage their towns and villages, cut down their trees, and burn their farms, crops and mosques, thus turning their lives into a hell as a prelude to deportation. In this context, a secret, Jewish military organization named Tag Mehir emerged in 2009 from the ranks of those rabbis and their West Bank settlement yeshiva students, representing the military power of The King’s Torah-guided settlers.

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Book about killing gentile children becomes bestseller in Israel

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

A Nazi Jewish rabbi has issued a book giving Jews permission to murder non-Jews, including babies and children, who may pose an actual or potential threat to Jews or Israel. “It is permissible to kill the Righteous among non-Jews even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” Nazi-Jewish Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Yitzhar settlement in the occupied West Bank, wrote in his book “The King’s Torah.”

He argues that goyem (a derogatory epithet for non-Jews) may be killed if they threaten Israel.

“If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments – because we care about the commandments – there is nothing wrong with the murder.”

Nazi Jewish Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro – co-author of the book

Nazi Shapiro, who heads a small Talmudic school at the settlement of Yitzhar near Nablus, claims his edict “is fully justified by the Torah and the Talmud.”

The anti-goyem edict seems to come in response to the arrest by Zionist police of a Jewish terrorist who has confessed to having murdered two Palestinian shepherds in the West Bank.

The terrorist, an American-born immigrant named Yaakov Teitel, also confessed to have tried to assassinate leftist Jewish figures.

Zionist Police considered the arrest an important achievement in combating Nazi-Jewish terrorism, which experts contend thrives on religious edicts issued by Nazi rabbis affiliated with the religious-Zionist camp.

Moreover, numerous innocent Palestinians have also been murdered in cold blood by Nazi-Jewish terrorists.

In 1994, Nazi-Jewish Baruch Goldstein, a notorious Nazi-Jewish terrorist, murdered 29 Muslim worshipers inside Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank town of al-Khalil.


The controversial edict is backed by numerous Nazi-Jewish rabbis affiliated with the so-called national-religious camp as well as the Talmudic seminary in West Jerusalem, known as Merkaz Ha’rav.

Among the Nazi-Jewish rabbis who have publicly supported the edict are Nazi-Jewish Yitzhak Ginsburg and Nazi-Jewish Ya’akov Yosef.

Ginsburg had written a leaflet glorifying murderer Nazi-Jewish Goldstein and called him a “saintly figure.”

Nazi-Jewish Shapiro’s views on how Palestinians and non-Jews in general ought to be treated according to Jewish religious law (halacha) are widely looked at as representing the mainstream not the exception in I$raHell.

During the Zio-Nazi Holocaust against Gaza 2014, Mordecahi Elyahu, one of the leading Nazi-Jewish rabbinic figures in I$raHell, urged the army not to refrain from killing enemy children in order to save the lives of Zio-Nazi soldiers.

He had even petitioned the Zio-Nazi government to carry out a series of carpet bombing of Palestinian population centers in Gaza.

“If they don’t stop  after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after we kill a thousand, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop,we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to stop them.”

According to Israel Shahak, author of “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: the Weight of Three Thousand years,” the term “human beings” in Jewish law refers solely to Jews.

Many Jewish orthodox rabbis, especially within the national-religious sector, view international conventions incriminating the deliberate killing of civilians and destruction of civilian homes and property as representing “Christian morals” not binding on Jews.

In 2006, the Nazi-Jewish Rabbinic Council of Jewish Settlements in the illegally occupied West Bank urged the army “to ignore Christian morals and exterminate the enemy in the north (Lebanon) and the south (Gaza Strip).

Such manifestly racist and hateful edicts don’t raise many eyebrows in Israel, neither among the intelligentsia nor in the society at large.

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When Silencing Dissent Isn’t News


Exclusive: The criminal case against ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern for “resisting arrest” when he was denied entry to a public speech by retired Gen. David Petraeus appears to be nearly over, but the image of police brutally shielding the mighty from a citizen’s question remains troubling, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

What if Martin Luther King Jr. had been arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, in April 1963 and the U.S. news media had decided that it wasn’t a story, just some troublemaker getting what he deserved for breaking the law? Would King have gone on to give his “I have a dream speech” in August, win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and change American history?

Some Americans would insist that suppressing news about King’s arrest during the Birmingham protests simply couldn’t happen here because we have a free press that – for all its faults – knows a good story when it sees one.

Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern crying out in pain while being arrested on Oct. 30, 2014, in New York City. (A screenshot via The Dissenter at

Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern crying out in pain while being arrested on Oct. 30, 2014, in New York City. (A screenshot from a YouTube video via The Dissenter at

Sure, these people might acknowledge that there may have been a time before airplanes and television when significant events in fairly remote parts of the country were missed because they were harder to get to or because editors might not even have been aware of a newsworthy story, but not in 1963 and surely not today, in the Internet age when there’s Facebook and Twitter, which news organizations monitor regularly.

So, what if I told you that an internationally known American – a 75-year-old Army veteran and a longtime official at the Central Intelligence Agency, someone who had famously questioned the imperious Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about his Iraq War lies in a public event that led evening newscasts in 2006 – was recently denied entry to a public speech by another Iraq War icon, Gen. David Petraeus, and – despite having paid for a ticket – was brutally arrested by the police and jailed?

Wouldn’t that be a story? Wouldn’t that be something that the news media, especially the “liberal” news media, should jump all over? Wouldn’t a newspaper like the New York Times just love something like that?

But what if I told you that the New York Times wasn’t interested at all? You might think that perhaps the event occurred in some distant hamlet, maybe a small college town where there wasn’t much media, so it just fell through the cracks.

Yet, this story actually played out in New York City, the media capital of the world, on the Upper East Side at the 92nd Street Y in full view of hundreds of New Yorkers on the night of Oct. 30, 2014. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was roughly arrested, with the police ignoring his howls of pain as they pulled his arms behind his back. (McGovern had recently suffered a painful shoulder injury from a fall.}

The arrest of McGovern on charges of resisting arrest, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct did draw attention from people on Facebook and Twitter. It was described in some detail at reasonably well-read Internet sites, including The story resonated around the world, even reaching RT, the Moscow-based network.

Yet, it was studiously ignored by nearly all the New York media. When I ran a Google search for “Ray McGovern, Petraeus, arrest,” there were scores of articles from various Web sites but next to nothing from the mainstream media. Only one brief item came up from the New York Daily News with a misleading headline saying McGovern was “trying to crash” the Petraeus speech (although the article did note that McGovern had bought a $45 ticket).

McGovern, who has become a prominent critic of recent U.S. war policies (and who writes frequently for, called me the day before the event and said he planned to attend Petraeus’s speech with hopes that he might be able to ask a question from the audience, like he had in challenging Rumsfeld.

But someone in authority apparently got wind of McGovern’s plan – he still is curious how that happened – and he was intercepted when he arrived at the 92nd Street Y. A security guard addressed him by name, “Ray, you’re not welcome here” – and the NYPD was prepositioned to arrest him.

As the police pinned his arms behind him – wrenching his injured shoulder – McGovern screamed in pain as bystanders unsuccessfully implored the police not to behave so brutally. The arrest was captured on an amateur video (uploaded to YouTube by April Watters). It is not pleasant to watch.

Probably some Americans feel that McGovern got what he deserved for even thinking about posing a pointed question to a “hero” like retired Gen. Petraeus, who was speaking along with one of his neocon friends, Council on Foreign Affairs honcho Max Boot, who, like Petraeus, had been all gung-ho for the Iraq War.

Having briefed senior U.S. government officials for years while at the CIA, McGovern is not intimidated by some growling response from a powerful man. Nor is he scared of getting booed by an audience enthrall to a famous speaker.

So, in that sense, McGovern might well have “disrupted” the event with an impertinent question, possibly about how the Iraqi Army that Petraeus has boasted about training so well collapsed in the face of ragtag militants from the Islamic State in 2014.

That might have caused an uncomfortable moment or two, but isn’t that what democracy and freedom of speech are all about, the ability for a citizen to question the mighty? And, really, is it the job of police in a “free society” to roughly arrest a citizen who objects to being denied entry to a public event because of his perceived political opinions — and to prevent the citizen from having the chance to ask a question?

Though he lives in Arlington, Virginia, McGovern had to return to New York for a court appearance on Feb. 4. There, the judge granted what’s called an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” meaning that the charges will go away if McGovern doesn’t commit any new offenses. Advised by his pro bono attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, McGovern accepted the offer, rather than extend the legal fight over what appeared to be a First Amendment issue.

But perhaps what should alarm Americans the most is that the New York Times and other major media in New York City see nothing newsworthy about a citizen being silenced, roughed up and arrested for simply hoping to ask the esteemed David Petraeus a question.


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Net Neutrality, Back by Popular Demand


(Photo: Timothy Karr/Free Press/flickr/cc)

In January 2011, thousands gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, threatening for the first time the 30-year dictatorship of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Decades of suppressed dissent was finding an outlet in the streets and online as well. Six months earlier, in Alexandria, 28-year-old Khaled Saeed was dragged out of a cybercafe and beaten to death by police. Photos of his corpse, released by his family, went viral on the Internet, fomenting discontent. Wael Ghonim, an Internet engineer and activist, created a Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Saeed,” serving as a platform for hundreds of thousands to organize.

As the crowds swelled in Tahrir, the power of the Internet as a force for social change was being demonstrated hour by hour. In response, Mubarak shut down the Internet, as well as most cellphone service. Universal outcry forced him to turn it back on.

Which brings us to net neutrality: the fundamental notion that anyone on the Web can reach anyone else, that users can just as easily access a small website launched in a garage as they can access major Internet portals like Google or Yahoo. Net neutrality is the Internet’s protection against discrimination.

During the past two decades, as the Internet flourished and transformed our society, several major corporations have assumed dominant “gatekeeper” positions, threatening net neutrality. Among them, the large Internet service providers, or ISPs: AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast. These four phone and cable companies make massive, multi-billion-dollar profits while charging enormous fees and providing, at best, lackluster service.

In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission, under its then-chairman, Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, set forth principles for an “open Internet.” In practice, these favored those very corporations that profit from a regulatory “light touch.” Powell left office and became the head of the cable industry’s lobbying organization, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), demonstrating clearly the corrupt revolving door between federal regulators and the industries they are supposed to oversee.

Nearly 10 years later, President Barack Obama named Tom Wheeler, the former head of the NCTA, to lead the FCC. Wheeler was a major donor to Obama’s presidential campaigns. After a federal court struck down the “open Internet” rules, Wheeler announced that the FCC would be making new ones. Advocates for a free and open Internet were worried that this former lobbyist would end the Internet as we know it, handing the keys over to the major telecom and cable corporations.

This announcement sparked a massive protest movement. Led by organizations like Free Press and Public Knowledge, people camped out in front of the FCC for days. More than 4 million people commented on the rules, making this the largest response to any federal request for public comment in history.

In a blog post on the website of the magazine Wired this week, Wheeler made a stunning revelation. “Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure Internet openness through a determination of ‘commercial reasonableness,’” he wrote. This is what had worried proponents of network neutrality. Major ISPs would be allowed to discriminate, favoring some websites over others, as long as they weren’t being “unreasonable.” Wheeler continued in his Wired piece, “I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open Internet protections.”

What Wheeler means by “Title II authority” is that he has made an about-face and will propose rules that the Internet be regulated like a public utility, as are other central pillars of our society like power utilities, water systems and the telephone system. Imagine if the water coming out of your tap was less clean than water at a neighbor’s house, because the neighbor pays for premium water. Public utilities are regulated. People get the same service, without discrimination.

The large Internet providers will be prevented from discriminating against people who publish on the Internet, or against those who seek out information on the Internet. All must be treated equally, regardless of race, color, beliefs and, perhaps most importantly, how rich they are. The major corporate ISPs have lobbied hard to create a multitiered Internet to squeeze more profit out of this public treasure. Tom Wheeler and the other commissioners have listened, not only to President Obama, but to the public, millions of people who have demanded the fundamental right to communicate without discrimination.

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War and Perpetual Adolescence


The urgency I feel isn’t any longer to stop a particular war but to interrupt endless war: to interrupt the narrowly focused geopolitical conversation, conveyed to us over and over by media stenographers, in which lethal intervention — wherever — is always the first and only choice. The uncertainty is never a matter of “if.” It’s only a matter of “when.”

For instance: “The West needs to bolster deterrence in Ukraine by raising the risks and costs to Russia of any renewed major offensive. That requires providing direct military assistance — in far larger amounts than provided to date and including lethal defensive arms.”

The quote, which appeared in the New York Times, is from a recently issued report signed by “eight former senior American officials.” It comes with an assumed certainty and seemingly impenetrable authority. “The report was issued jointly by the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.” One of the insiders who put her name on it was Michèle A. Flournoy, “a former senior Pentagon official who is a leading candidate to serve as defense secretary if Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president.”

And that’s that. It’s all so pristine and scientific-seeming. Never are the consequences of military action discussed, alluded to or acknowledged in the mainstream media, even though the wreckage of our wars is all around us. That doesn’t matter because grotesque, medieval hostility — beheadings, immolation — emerge from the wreckage. Unlike America’s impersonal, high-tech and regrettably necessary killing, our enemies perpetrate Evil Itself. The over-the-top drama of what they do continually supplants any motivation we have to engage in political self-examination. Fear rules, but fortunately we have the technology and the bottomless budget to defend ourselves.

“What’s truly ‘exceptional’ in twenty-first-century America is any articulated vision of what a land at peace with itself and other nations might be like,” William J. Astore, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, wrote recently at “Instead, war, backed by a diet of fear, is the backdrop against which the young have grown to adulthood. It’s the background noise of their world.”

Astore, in his excellent essay called “War Is the New Normal,” offered a number of reasons why militarism has cleared any challenging viewpoint from the corridors of American power. The theory and practice of peace — humanity’s only hope for a viable future — is alive and well. Embracing it in some way, recognizing the need to suppress a tantrum, acknowledge someone else’s humanity and allay short-term desires for the sake of the long-term good, is every child’s transition into adulthood. It’s called growing up. But somehow we’re failing to do so politically; indeed, we seem to be moving backwards.

I say this because I’ve seen and felt it happening in my own lifetime. While the USA has always been a warrior culture, built on a foundation of conquest and exploitation, that’s only been part of the picture. Movements of liberation and the expansion of the mantle of humanity have always been a part of the social—and political — picture as well, but today they seem less so than I can remember. Militarism, in increasingly juvenile intensity, has been getting, it seems, free rein. Why?

Reason number one, according to Astore’s analysis, is “the privatization of war”: its takeover by corporate America. There was a time when “war profiteer” was an epithet, a name for someone who would sully national ideals to make a profit on the mobilization for war. There was also a time when people opposed, in large, vocal numbers, the commercialization of Christmas. In both cases, the old idealism has been poisoned by money.

Here’s how Barbara Ehrenreich puts it in her book Blood Rites: “Meanwhile, war has dug itself into economic systems, where it offers a livelihood to millions, rather than to just a handful of craftsmen and professional soldiers. It has lodged in our souls as a kind of religion, a quick tonic for political malaise and a bracing antidote to the moral torpor of consumerist, market-driven cultures.”

Commercialism, as an end in itself, has no interest in what’s good for us or, even less so, what’s good for the future. Like cancer, it destroys its host. What we need to survive on this planet is not a global defense budget that eclipses every other human need.

Astore’s second reason for our state of endless war flows from the first: “the embrace of the national security state by both major parties.” This is a symptom, of course, as well as a cause. It’s also an indication that our democracy, at least at the national level, has gone the way of Christmas. We have a democracy-for-profit, which means that Barack Obama, elected on an enormous — indeed, global — peace mandate, has proceeded through his presidency as Bush Lite, modifying but perpetuating our state of endless war. Understanding peace may be a prerequisite for adulthood, but politically we’re caught in perpetual adolescence.

The prime requirement of war is “an enemy.” And the first thing we do when we’re at war is dehumanize that enemy. And as long as we’re at war, that enemy must stay dehumanized, which explains the shocking weirdness, outed last month, of the behavior of North Miami Beach’s police department — acting as a brigade on our war’s domestic front — which was caught using mugshots of real people (men of color, of course) as shooting range targets.

It’s all part of the endless war. This particular incident was still publicly shocking, fortunately, and the city council was humiliated into banning the practice when clergy and others from around the country began posting pictures of themselves on Facebook with the hashtag #UseMeInstead.

And it worked: conversation interrupted. I wish I knew how we could stop dehumanization practices just as effectively when we commit them beyond our own borders.

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The Shame of US Journalism Is the Destruction of Iraq, Not Fake Helicopter Stories


The news that NBC’s Brian Williams was not, in fact, on a helicopter in 2003 that came under fire from an Iraqi Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) should come as a surprise to noone. Williams had repeated the lie on several occasions over the course of a decade until a veteran, who was on the actual helicopter that was attacked, had enough of Williams’ war porn and called the TV host out on Facebook. In a quite pathetic effort to cover his tracks, the anchor—who makes in excess of $10 million per year— claimed that his fairy tale was, in fact, “a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and by extension our brave military men and women” who had served in Iraq. Twelve years, it seems, is enough time for Williams to confuse being on a helicopter that came under fire from an RPG with being on a helicopter that did not.

Given that Williams works for NBC, his participation in the construction of a piece of fiction during the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is apt. US network news, together with outlets such as CNN, aggressively cheer-led an invasion predicated on a massive falsehood: the Iraqi possession of WMD. What is jarring, however, is the fact that Williams’ sad attempt to inject himself into the fabric of the violence is getting more ink and airplay than the non-existence of WMD did back in the early-to-mid 2000s: a lie that provided the justification for a military action that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

From embedded journalists to ultra-militaristic news logos and music, U.S. television news media were more than willing to throw gas on the invasion fire. “Experts” in the studio were invariably ex-generals looking to pad their pensions, while anti-war activists (who spoke for sizable portions of the US and UK populations back in 2003) were avoided like the plague. After all, what news organization wants to be tarred with the “peace” brush when flag-waiving jingoism sells so incredibly well? The one-sidedness of coverage, particularly in the US, bordered on the morally criminal.

Despite some limited soul-searching by journalists a decade after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq about the abject failure of the U.S. news to engage, in a truly critical fashion, with the falsehoods peddled by the Bush administration, the current focus on an inane untruth told by one celebrity news anchor has overshadowed the bigger picture about the US media and Iraq. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

In the post-9/11, pre-invasion period, U.S. citizens proved to be spectacularly misinformed about the 9/11 attacks, Iraq, Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and WMD. When the invasion began, many in the U.S. simply had no clue about what was going on. Was that all the fault of the US media? No, but it’s fair to say a pretty large chunk of the responsibility lay at their feet. Then, once the bombing and street fighting became banal and lost its attractiveness to audiences and advertisers, most U.S. media outlets simply abandoned an Iraq left to fend for itself in a vortex of violence, political instability and corruption. And, who wants to talk about that when you can write about Williams upping his War Zone Reporter street cred? But, if you do want to hear about violence in Iraq, you can rely on Fox News to suggest that this particular hell might also be a liberal conspiracy…

The number of Iraqi citizens who have died as a direct and indirect by-product of the U.S. invasion is enough to populate a mid-sized U.S. city, and thousands continue to die on a monthly basis in non-imaginary attacks.

Yet, here we are, over a decade later, still discussing celebrity fantasies. That isn’t just bad journalism, it’s an affront to all who lost their lives in a brutal and bloody deception. Williams is just sorry about the wrong thing.

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As Specter of Wider War Threatens, Jordan Targets ISIS with New Airstrikes


Analysts warn that a rush to revenge will only deepen militarization and violence across the region.

The Jordanian government appears to be escalating the country’s participation in the U.S.-led war on ISIS, launching air strikes and executions in the wake of the burning death of Jordanian pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, which was revealed earlier this week.

An anonymous Jordanian official confirmed to AFP on Thursday that the military had launched a strike against ISIS following al-Kasasbeh’s execution but did not specify in which country the attack occurred. Jordan has conducted numerous strikes within Syria, as journalist Chris Woods documents, but has not yet bombed targets inside Iraq.

Analysts, however, warn that the heavy response merely plays into the hands of ISIS, which they say has a direct interest in the ratcheting up of tensions and violence across the region.

The bombing follows vows of retaliation from top Jordanian officials, including King Abdullah II, for the execution of al-Kasasbeh.

On Wednesday, the state executed two Iraqi prisoners—Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli—both allegedly affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq (which preceded ISIS). The killings were condemned by Human Rights Watch in a statement: “To execute death row inmates in response to external events alarmingly suggests that retaliation against third parties is driving policy, rather than justice based solely on fairness and individualized guilt.”

Experts warn that a rush to retaliation will only deepen militarization and violence across the region.

According to Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Jordan’s revenge “marks a major shift in the war against the Islamic State. It is a shift that is likely to change the nature of the actors in the Syrian conflict as ISIS and al-Nusra move closer to one another. It is also a shift that will trigger wider regional repercussions, and drag members of the anti-ISIS coalition into an open-ended confrontation on a wider scale than before. In the midst of all this, the moderate Syrian opposition risks becoming extinct.”

Rami Elamine, Arab-American activist and writer for War Times, told Common Dreams that ISIS knew the execution would lead to “military mobilization and war against them.”

“This is what they want,” said Elamine. “This is how they grow and flourish. Because despite the lies that only militants are being killed in air strikes, drone attacks, etc., we know that it’s mostly innocent people who are being killed. Innocent civilians whose brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins are going to flock to (ISIS), Al Qaeda and their ilk to avenge the deaths.”

Scott Ritter, author and former United Nations weapons inspector, concurs: “Rather than serving as a tipping point for mobilizing public sentiment in the Sunni Arab world against ISIS, it seems that a case can be made that the actions of ISIS seem geared toward achieving the exact opposite reaction — the mobilization of angry, disenfranchised Sunni Arab youth inside Jordan against the actions of their King, creating the kinds of social rifts ISIS thrives upon.”

“Jordan should proceed cautiously before agreeing to any expansion of its role in the anti-ISIS coalition,” Ritter urged.

Jordan’s air strikes come a few days after an announcement that the U.S. is boosting aid to Jordan from $660 million to $1 billion per year.

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Two out of Three Investigative Journalists in US Believe They’re Being Spied On


Among national security, foreign affairs, and federal government reporters, that number rose to over 70 percent.

Approximately two out of three investigative journalists believe the U.S. government “has probably collected data” from their phones and online communications. (Photo: Electronic Frontier Foundation/Wikimedia/cc)

In the wake of the NSA mass surveillance scandal, an overwhelming majority of investigative journalists believe that the U.S. government is spying on them, and large numbers say that this belief impacts the way they go about their reporting, a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday reveals.

The findings are based on a December online survey, conducted in association with Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, of 671 journalists who are members of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., which is a non-profit organization for journalists.

According to the poll, approximately two out of three investigative journalists believe the U.S. government “has probably collected data” from their phones, emails, or online communications.

For national security, foreign affairs, and federal government reporters, the number is even higher at 71 percent.

Eighty percent of respondents think that their status as a journalist makes them more likely to be snooped on.

These beliefs have real repercussions.

Under the threat of surveillance, journalists are changing the way they go about their work, as the following graph summarizing report data shows:


According to the study, journalists have little faith in their internet service providers, and mixed trust in the outlets and organizations they work for, to protect the security of their communications.

The survey follows numerous warnings from journalists that, in a digital age, the threat of federal snooping threatens the basic fabric of reporting, including establishing and communicating with sources.

“As the government stores more and more data, it will become next to impossible for journalists to keep sources confidential,” wrote Geoffrey King of the Committee to Protect Journalists in an article published last year.

“Regardless of whether the NSA’s programs are as carefully targeted as it claims, the agency’s infamous secrecy and expansive capabilities have cast a deep shadow on press freedom worldwide,” he continued.

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NATO Touts Increased Forces Amid Ongoing Ukraine Talks


Secretary of State John Kerry places responsibility for end to Ukraine-Russia conflict solely on Russia

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine on Thursday, January 5, 2015. (Screenshot/AP)

As heads of state gathered this week to discuss the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, signs of increased military posturing emerged from Washington and Europe, as the White House considered arming Ukrainian troops against separatist rebels and NATO signaled that it would beef up its presence on the border to aid Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Ukraine this week to join German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who are planning to introduce an initiative that they say would end the fighting and would be “based upon the full territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to Hollande. Merkel and Hollande are set to travel to Russia next week to present the plan to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking from a news conference in Kiev, Kerry called on Russia to agree to a cease-fire, pull back troops and weapons from Ukraine, and close their neighboring borders.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied that it has been sending military personnel and equipment into Ukraine. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN that Kerry’s speech “just shows the unwillingness and inability of the United States to participate in settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.”

“As for Russian tanks, allegedly crossing Russian-Ukrainian border, we’ve commented on this before—there are no Russian tanks or army in Ukraine, such accusations are not true,” he added.

Despite Kerry’s proclaimed support for an end to the conflict, the U.S. sent several recent signals that it would be willing to arm Ukraine to help its forces fend off separatists and, according to the New York Times, “build pressure on Moscow to seek a political settlement.” President Barack Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, told the Senate on Thursday that he would “very much incline” toward sending missiles, battlefield radars, drones, and other weapons to Ukraine.

Similarly, NATO representative Adam Thompson told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the alliance may continue “strengthening its military posture in response in particular to the challenge that Russia’s behavior represents.”

NATO ministers also recently completed plans to increase its presence throughout Eastern Europe, opening command centers in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—a notable change for the alliance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“NATO in Western Europe is not news,” Douglas Lute, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, toldWSJ. “NATO in Eastern Europe is news.”

Moscow has previously called NATO the top military threat against the beleaguered nation, whose economy is rapidly deteriorating under strict Western sanctions and the global drop in oil prices. On Thursday, the government said it would consider any U.S. arms sent to Ukraine to be a military threat.

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Defense Department’s Legal Bid to Suppress Detainee Abuse Photos Reaches ‘Line in the Sand’


Federal judge issues government one-week deadline to submit its reasons for suppressing each of the photos

“Indefinite Detention”

A years-long legal battle to compel the Department of Defense to release over 2,000 photos depicting abuse and torture of detainees in U.S. custody may have reached a critical moment on Wednesday.

Some of the photos have been described as being possibly more disturbing than those from Abu Ghraib. The Telegraph previously reported that they “were largely taken by U.S. troops themselves as they posed with prisoners or corpses and were gathered during the course of 203 military investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

At the Manhattan hearing, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein issued the DoD a one-week deadline to submit its reasons for suppressing each of the photos, as the court had ordered last year, according to reporting by Newsweek and the Guardian.

Hellerstein said the case had reached “a line in the sand,” and said, “I could give you more time to satisfy my ruling…but I am not changing my view,” Newsweek reports.

The Guardian summarizes the ACLU’s decade of efforts at transparency:

Both the district court in 2005 and the second circuit court of appeals in 2008 held that the images should be released. But legislation was subsequently introduced through the senate to exempt the photographs from Freedom of Information laws, as they would jeopardize national security.

In 2012, then Defense secretary Leon Panetta reclassified all the photographs, having been presented with a small selection of the collection. Panetta’s move was subsequently challenged, with Hellerstein ruling last year for the individual exemptions to be made.

While the government has pushed against the release of the photos, saying it would threaten national security, the ACLU has argued that the transparency and full reckoning of post-9/11 transgressions are necessary for a democracy.

Following a legal bid by the Bush administration in 2008 to block release of the photos, Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU, stated: “These photographs demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib, but the result of policies adopted by the highest-ranking officials in the administration.

And Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU, stated in 2009:  “No democracy has ever been made stronger by suppressing evidence of its own misconduct.”

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