Archive | May 21st, 2015


Posted by: Sammi ibeahem, Sr


UN officials accused of bowing to I$raHell pressure


Over children’s rights list

Source says officials backed away from recommending that IDF be added to list of children’s rights violators after phone calls from Israeli officials

Displaced Palestinian children peak from under a shop door, where their family is taking shelter in Gaza City in July 2014.
Displaced Palestinian children peak from under a shop door, where their family is taking shelter in Gaza City in July 2014. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Senior UN officials in Jerusalem have been accused of caving in to Israeli pressure to abandon moves to include the state’s armed forces on a UN list of serious violators of children’s rights.

UN officials backed away from recommending that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) be included on the list following telephone calls from senior Israeli officials. The Israelis allegedly warned of serious consequences if a meeting of UN agencies and NGOs based in Jerusalem to ratify the recommendation went ahead. Within hours, the meeting was cancelled.

“Top officials have buckled under political pressure,” said a UN source. “As a result, a clear message has been given that Israel will not be listed.”

Organisations pressing for the IDF’s inclusion on the list since the war in Gaza last summer – which left more than 500 children dead and more than 3,300 injured – include Save the Children and War Child as well as at least a dozen Palestinian human rights organisations, the Israeli rights organisation B’Tselem and UN bodies such as the children’s agency Unicef.

“These organisations are in uproar over what has happened,” said the UN source.

The IDF’s inclusion on the UN’s list of grave violators of children’s rights would place it alongside non-state armed forces such as Islamic State, Boko Haram and the Taliban. It would propel Israel further towards pariah status within international bodies and could lead to UN sanctions.

Although Jerusalem-based officials cancelled the meeting – and subsequently decided not to recommend the IDF’s inclusion on the list – the UN complained to Israel over the intimidation of its staff. Susana Malcorra – a high-ranking official in the New York office of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon – raised the issue in a private letter to Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor. The UN in New York said it could not comment on leaked documents.

The telephone calls were made to June Kunugi, Unicef’s special representative to Palestine and Israel, on 12 February, the night before a meeting to decide whether to recommend the IDF’s inclusion on the list. One call was from a senior figure in Cogat, the Israeli government body that coordinates between the IDF, the Palestinian Authority and the international community; the other was made by an official in Israel’s foreign ministry.

According to UN and NGO sources, Kunugi was advised to cancel the meeting or face serious consequences. However, Israeli sources described the telephone conversations as friendly and courteous attempts to persuade Kunugi to delay the working group’s decision on its recommendation regarding the IDF until Israel had been allowed to present its case on the issue.

At 8.54am the next morning, an email was sent on behalf of James Rawley, a senior official with UNSCO (the office of the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process) who had called the meeting, to participants. It said: “Please be informed that today’s meeting scheduled at 13:00hrs has been postponed. Sincere apologies for the inconvenience this may have caused.”

A joint statement to the Guardian from Kunugi and Rawley said the “strictly confidential process” of determining inclusion on the list was still ongoing and was the “prerogative of the UN secretary general, and it rests with him alone”. The UN in Jerusalem was unable to comment on the process, it added, but the submission from Jerusalem to New York was “based on verified facts, not influenced by any member state or other entity”.

Unicef has called a fresh meeting to update UN and NGO officials in Jerusalem on Thursday.

The decision on which state and non-state armed forces are to be included on the list will be taken by UN chiefs in New York next month. However, according to the UN source, “a political decision has already been taken not to include Israel”.

A separate source told the Guardian: “The UN caved to Israel’s political pressure and took a highly contentious step to shelter Israel from accountability.”

The list of violators of children’s rights is contained in the annex of theannual report of the secretary general on children and armed conflict. A “monitoring and reporting mechanism”, established by a UN security council resolution, supplies information on grave violations of children’s rights, such as killing and maiming, recruitment of minors into armed forces, attacks on schools, rape, abduction, and denial of humanitarian access to children. The secretary general is required to list armed forces or armed groups responsible for suchactions.

Following last summer’s seven-week war in Gaza, a number of UN agencies and NGOs met to consider whether to recommend the IDF’s inclusion on the list. According to insiders, participants “agreed there is a strong and credible case to recommend listing”.

A 13-page internal Unicef paper seen by the Guardian examined the case for the IDF to be listed on the basis of its actions in last summer’s war in Gaza, including the killing and injuring of children, and “targeted and indiscriminate” attacks on schools and hospitals.

Several of the working group’s participants wrote to the UN secretary general to urge the inclusion of the IDF on the list. A letter sent in December by Defence for Children International (Palestine) said: “There is ample evidence to demonstrate that Israel’s armed forces have committed acts that amount to the grave violations against children during armed conflict, as defined by UN security council resolutions, including killing or maiming children and attacks against schools and hospitals.”

The Israeli ministry of foreign affairs and Cogat declined to answer specific questions about the phone calls to Kunugi, but said in a joint statement: “Israel has a good working relationship with Unicef and the United Nations in general. Israel has no desire to get into a slanging match with anti-Israel elements nor to submit to their intimidations.”

• This article was amended on 26 March 2015. An earlier version said no state armies were currently on the UN list. That is not the case.

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The Mysterious Death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold


In reopening the investigation into the mysterious plane crash that killed UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in 1961, the United Nations is appealing to member states to release long-secret files related to this cold case from a tense moment in the Cold War in Africa, which Lisa Pease examined in 2013.

By Lisa Pease 

More than a half century ago, just after midnight on Sept. 18, 1961, the plane carrying UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 others went down in a plane crash over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). All 16 died, but the facts of the crash were provocatively mysterious.

There have been three investigations into the crash: an initial civil aviation Board of Inquiry, a Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and a UN Commission in 1962. Not one of them could definitively answer why the plane crashed or whether a deliberate act had been responsible.

While a few authors have looked into and written about the strange facts of the crash in the years since the last official inquiry in 1962, none did a more thorough reinvestigation than Dr. Susan Williams, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, whose book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? was released in 2011, 50 years after the crash.

Her presentation of the evidence was so powerful it launched a new UN commission to determine whether the UN should reopen its initial investigation. “It is a fact,” the current Commission wrote in its report, “that none of these inquiries was conducted to the standard to which a modern inquiry into a fatal event would be conducted….”

The Commission was formed by Lord Lea of Crondall, who assembled a group of volunteer jurists, solicitors and others from the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and elsewhere to tabulate and review the evidence the Commission collected from past investigations, Williams’s book, and independent witnesses, such as myself.

I was one of the 28 witnesses (and one of only three Americans) who provided testimony to the Commission, based on information gathered in the course of my research into the assassinations of the Sixties.

“It is legitimate to ask whether an inquiry such as this, a full half-century after the events with which it is concerned, can achieve anything except possibly to feed speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding the crash,” the most recent Commission wrote in its report.

“Our answer, and the reason why we have been willing to give our time and effort to the task, is first that knowledge is always better than ignorance, and secondly that the passage of time, far from obscuring facts, can sometimes bring them to light.”

The Congo Crisis

The report summarized the historical situation Hammarskjöld was faced with in 1961. In June of 1960, under pressure from forces in the Congo as well as from the United Nations, Belgium had relinquished its claim to the Congo, a move which brought Patrice Lumumba to power.

Lumumba faced a near civil war in his country immediately. The military mutinied, the Belgians stepped back in to protect Belgian settlers, and local leader Moise Tshombe declared Katanga, a mineral-rich province, an independent state.

As the Commission’s report noted, “Katanga contained the majority of the Congo’s known mineral resources. These included the world’s richest uranium and four fifths of the West’s cobalt supply. Katanga’s minerals were mined principally by a Belgian company, the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, which immediately recognised and began paying royalties to the secessionist government in Elisabethville. One result of this was that Moise Tshombe’s regime was well funded. Another was that, so long as Katanga remained independent of the Congo, there was no risk that the assets of Union Minière would be expropriated.”

The U.S. government feared that Katanga’s rich uranium reserves would fall under Soviet control if the nationalist movement that brought Lumumba to power succeeded in unifying the country. Indeed, rebuffed by Western interests, Lumumba did reach out to the Soviets for help, a move that caused CIA Director Allen Dulles to initiate CIA plans for Lumumba’s assassination. Lumumba was ultimately captured and killed by forces of Joseph Mobutu, whom Andrew Tully called “the CIA’s man” in the Congo just days before President Kennedy’s inauguration.

On the southern border of Katanga lay Northern Rhodesia, where Hammarskjöld’s plane would eventually go down, Sir Roy Welensky, a British politician, ruled as prime minister. Welensky, too, pushed for an independent Katanga. Along with the resources, there was also the fear that an integrated Congo and Katanga could lead to the end of apartheid in Rhodesia which might spread to its larger and more prosperous neighbor South Africa.

The British situation was divided, with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Landsdowne, backing the UN’s efforts at preserving a unified Congo, while the British High Commissioner to the Rhodesian Foundation, Lord Alport, was upset with the UN’s meddling, saying African issues were “better left to Europeans with experience in that part of the world.”

Similarly, U.S. policy appeared split in 1961. Allen Dulles and possibly President Dwight D. Eisenhower had worked to kill Lumumba just before President John F. Kennedy took office. But President Kennedy had been a supporter of Lumumba and fully backed the UN’s efforts in the Congo.

As the report notes, “There is evidence … of a cleft in policy between the US Administration and the US Central Intelligence Agency. While the policy of the Administration was to support the UN, the CIA may have been providing materiel to Katanga.”

So British, Belgian and American interests that weren’t always representative of their official heads of state had designs on Katanga, its politics and its resources. What stood in their way? The UN, under the firm leadership of Dag Hammarskjöld.

The UN forces had been unsuccessful in unifying the Congo, so Hammarskjöld and his team flew to Leopoldville on Sept. 13, 1961. Hammarskjöld planned to meet Tshombe to discuss aid, contingent on a ceasefire, and the two decided to meet on Sept. 18 in Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

On Sept. 17, the last day of Hammarskjöld’s life, Neil Ritchie, an MI6 officer, went to pick up Tshombe and the British consul in Katanga, Denzil Dunnett. He found them in the company of a high-level Union Minière employee.

That night, Hammarskjöld embarked on the Albertina, a DC6 plane, and flew from Leopoldville to Ndola, where he was to arrive shortly after midnight. Lord Landsdowne, the British leader opposing a unified Congo, flew separately, although the report goes out of its way to say there was nothing sinister in them flying in separate planes and that this was “diplomatically and politically appropriate.”

A large group of diplomats, Africans, journalists and at least three mercenaries waited for Hammarskjöld’s plane at the Ndola airport. The Commission found the presence of mercenaries there strange as a police inspector was on duty specifically “to ensure nobody was at the airport who had no good reason to be there.”

The Crash

Hammarskjöld’s plane deliberately circumvented Katanga, fearing interception. The pilot radioed Ndola 25 minutes before midnight with an estimate that they plane was about 45 minutes from landing. At 12:10 a.m., the pilot notified the Ndola airport “Your lights in sight” and requested confirmation of the air pressure reading (QNH). “Roger QNH 1021mb, report reaching 6000 feet,” the airport replied. “Roger 1021,” the Albertina responded. That was the last communication received from Hammarskjöld’s plane. It crashed within minutes.

The Commission found the airport gave the plane correct information, that there was no indication the plane’s altimeter had been tampered with, that the landing gear had been lowered into the proper position and locked, and that the wing flaps had been correctly set. In other words, pilot error — the verdict of the initial Rhodesian inquiry into Dag Hammarskjöld’s death in 1962 — did not seem to be the likely cause.

At the crash site, several of the crash victims had bullets in their bodies. In addition, the Commission found “evidence from more than one source…that holes resembling bullet-holes were observed in the burnt-out fuselage.”

The Commission’s two aviation experts concluded the most likely cause of the crash seemed to be a “controlled flight into terrain,” meaning, no in-air explosion. This suggests someone deliberately or mistakenly drove the plane right into the ground. However, the report notes, this does not rule out some form of sabotage that could have distracted or injured the pilots, preventing a successful landing.

And the Commission noted contradictory evidence from a few eyewitnesses who claimed they saw the plane explode in mid-air. Another eyewitness, a member of the flight crew, found alive but badly burned, told a police inspector that the plane “blew up” and that “There was a lot of small explosions all around.”

The Commission interviewed African eyewitnesses who had feared coming forward years ago. One of them described seeing the plane on fire before it hit the ground. Another described seeing a “ball of fire coming on top of the plane.” Still another described a “flame … on top of the plane … like a ball of fire.”

Several witnesses saw a second plane near the one that crashed. One witness saw a second, smaller plane following a larger one, and told the Commission, “I saw that the fire came from the small plane…” And another witness also recalled seeing two planes in the sky with the larger one on fire. A third witness noted that he saw a flash of flame from one plane strike another. Several witnesses reported two smaller planes following a larger one just before the larger one caught fire.

A Swedish flight instructor described in 1994 how he had heard dialog via a short-wave radio the night of the crash. He recalled hearing the following from an airport control tower at the time of the crash: “He’s approaching the airport. He’s turning. He’s leveling. Another plane is approaching from behind — what is that?”

In one of the more bizarre elements of the case, Hammarskjöld’s body was not burnt, yet the other victims of the crash were severely burnt. The Commission concluded the most likely explanation, though not the sole one, was that Hammarskjöld’s body had been thrown from the plane before it caught fire.

And even more strangely, the commission found the evidence “strongly suggests” that someone moved Hammarskjöld’s body after the crash and stuck a playing card in his collar before the photographs of his body were taken. (The card “or something like it” was plainly visible “in the photographs taken of the body on a stretcher at the site.”)

Given the proximity of the plane to the airport, the Commission had a hard time explaining the nine-hour delay between the time of the crash and the Rhodesian authorities’ acknowledgement of its discovery of the wreckage.

While the Commission found a “substantial amount of evidence” that Hammarskjöld’s body had been “found and tampered with well before the afternoon of 18 September and possibly very shortly after the crash,” they also stated the evidence was “no more consistent with hostile persons assuring themselves that he was dead than with bystanders, or possibly looters, examining his body.” But the Commission also noted that “The failure to summon or send help, however, remains an issue.”

The Commission tried very hard to find the autopsy X-rays, as there were reports that a bullet hole had been found in Hammarskjöld’s head. But the X-rays appear lost forever.

Was Hammarskjöld deliberately assassinated?

Former President Harry S. Truman was convinced Hammarskjöld had been murdered. A Sept. 20, 1961 New York Times article quoted Truman as having told reporters, “Dag Hammarskjöld was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘When they killed him.’”

Years later, when the CIA was revealed to have been engaged in assassination plots, reporter Daniel Schorr speculated that the CIA may have been involved in Hammarskjöld’s death.

The report references the report of David Doyle, the chief of the CIA’s  Elizabethville base in Katanga who wrote in a memoir how three armed Fouga planes were being delivered to Katanga “in direct violation” of U.S. policy. Doyle doubted this was an official CIA operation, since he had not been notified of the delivery.

Bronson Tweedy, the head of the CIA’s Africa division, questioned Doyle about the possibility of a CIA operation to interfere with Hammarskjöld’s plane. The report notes that this could indicate a lack of CIA involvement in Hammarskjöld’s death, “unless, conceivably, Tweedy was simply trying to find out how much Doyle knew.”

It is the essence of CIA operations that they are highly compartmentalized and often kept secret between people even within the Agency itself. Meaning, Allen Dulles or someone high up the chain could easily have ordered a single operator to take out Hammarskjöld’s plane without using any official CIA channels. Indeed, that is what one would expect were so sensitive an operation as the assassination of a UN head contemplated.

After Lumumba’s death, in early 1961, the UN passed resolution 161, which urged the immediate removal of Belgian forces and “other foreign military and paramilitary personnel and political advisors not under the United Nations Command, and mercenaries” from the Congo.

Confession from a CIA operative

When I heard such a commission was forming, I reached out to Lord Lea of Crondall to offer some evidence of my own. John Armstrong, a fellow researcher into the JFK assassination, had forwarded me a series of Church Committee files and correspondence to and from a CIA operative named Roland “Bud” Culligan.

Culligan claimed the CIA had set him up on a phony bank fraud charge, and his way out of jail appears to have been to offer the Church Committee information on CIA assassinations (which he called “executive actions” or “E.A.’s”). Culligan was asked to list some “E.A.’s” that he had been involved in. Culligan mentioned, among high-profile others, Dag Hammarskjöld.

“Damn it, I did not want the job,” Culligan wrote to his legal adviser at Yale Law School. Culligan described the plane and the route, he named his CIA handler and his contact on the ground in Libya, and he described how he shot Hammarskjöld’s plane, which subsequently crashed.

As I testified, and as the Commission quoted in its report: “You will see from the correspondence that Culligan’s material was referred to an Attorney General, a Senator, and ultimately, the Senate investigation of the CIA’s activities at home and abroad that became known as the Church Committee after its leader, Senator Frank Church. Clearly, others in high places had reasons to believe Culligan’s assertions were worthy of further investigation.”

Culligan’s claims fit neatly with a broadcast allegedly heard by Navy Cmdr. Charles Southall, another Commission witness. The morning before the crash, Charles Southall, a naval pilot and intelligence officer, was stationed at the NSA’s facility in Cyprus.

At about 9 p.m. that night, Southall reported he was called at home by the communications watch officer and told to get down to the listening post because “something interesting” was going to happen that night. Southall described hearing a recording shortly after midnight in which a cool pilot’s voice said, “I see a transport plane coming low. All the lights are on. I’m going to make a run on it. Yes, it’s the Transair DC6. It’s the plane.”

Southall heard what sounded like cannon fire, then: “I’ve hit it. There are flames. It’s going down. It’s crashing.” Given that Cyprus was in the same time zone as Ndola, the Commission concluded it was possible that Southall had indeed heard a recording from Ndola. Southall was certain that what he heard indicated a deliberate act.


Several witnesses described seeing bullet holes in the plane before it burnt. The report described one witness’s account that the fuselage was “’riddled with bullet-holes’ which appeared to have been made by a machine-gun.”

This account was disputed by AP journalist Errol Friedmann, however, who claimed no bullet holes were present. However, bullets were definitely found embedded in the bodies of several of the plane crash victims, which tends to give the former claim more credence.

The same journalist Friedmann also noted to a fellow journalist that the day after the crash, in a hotel, he had heard a couple of Belgian pilots who had perhaps had too much to drink discussing the crash. One of the pilots claimed he had been in contact with Hammarskjöld’s plane and had “buzzed” it, forcing the pilot of the Albertina to take evasive action. When the pilot buzzed the plane a second time, he forced it towards the ground.

A third-party account allegedly from a Belgian pilot named Beukels was investigated with some skepticism by the Commission. Beukels allegedly gave an account to a French Diplomat named Claude de Kemoularia, who evidently first relayed Beukels’s account to UN diplomat George Ivan Smith in 1980 (not long after Culligan’s 1975 account, I would note).

Smith’s source, however, appeared to be a transcript, about which the Commission noted “the literary quality of the narrative suggests an editorial hand, probably that of one or both of the two intermediaries.” Allegedly, Beukels fired what he meant to be warning shots which then hit the tail of the plane.

While Beukels’s alleged narrative matched several known facts, the Commission wisely noted, “there was little in Beukels’s narrative, as reported, that could not have been ascertained from press coverage and the three inquiries, elaborated by his experience as a pilot.” The Commission wrote of other elements which invited skepticism of this account, but did concede it’s possible this account was self-serving, designed to excuse a deliberate shooting down by Beukels.

The Commission’s recommendation

While the Commission had no desire to place blame for the crash, the report states: “There is persuasive evidence that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola, which was by then widely known to be its destination,” adding “we … consider that the possibility that the plane was in fact forced into its descent by some form of hostile action is supported by sufficient evidence to merit further inquiry.”

The key evidence that the Commission thinks could prove or disprove a deliberate act would be the Ndola airport’s radio traffic that night. The Commission reported “it is highly likely that the entirety of the local and regional Ndola radio traffic on the night of 17-18 September 1961 was tracked and recorded by the NSA, and possibly also by the CIA.”

The Commission filed a Freedom of Information request for any such evidence with the National Archives but did not appear hopeful that such records would be released unless pressure was brought to bear.

In its discussion of Culligan, the Commission felt there were no leads there that could be pursued. But if any of Culligan’s many conversations with his legal adviser was captured on tape, and if tapes of the radio traffic cited above could be obtained, a voice match could be sought.

Based on its year-long investigation, the Commission stated that the UN “would be justified” in reopening its initial 1962 inquiry in light of the new evidence “about an event of global significance with deserves the attention both of history and of justice.”

[Regarding President Eisenhower’s possible role in ordering the assassination of Lumumba, Robert Johnson, a National Security Council staff member, told the Church Committee he heard Eisenhower give an order that Lumumba be killed. He remembered being shocked to hear this. Under questioning, however, Johnson allowed that may have been a mistaken impression, that perhaps Eisenhower was referring to Lumumba’s political, not physical, removal.]

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Zio-Nazi New Justice Minister, Shrugs Off Critics in Her Path


“If you get into emotions, then it disturbs your work. Sometimes you focus on what’s less important and not the main thing.” — AYELET SHAKED CreditUriel Sinai for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — She has been called the Michele Bachmann of Israeli politics, a nod to their shared far-right ideology and striking appearance. She was assigned a bodyguard after a social media post was made to show her wearing a Nazi uniform and accused her of promoting Palestinian genocide. She was belittled by a former minister as the most prominent politician “who could star in a calendar hanging in garages,” prompting even ardent critics to rush to her defense.

All that, in less than a week, garnered a this-too-shall-pass shrug from Ayelet Shaked, who was sworn in on Thursday as Israel’s justice minister — the most contentious appointment in a much-criticized new government.

Ms. Shaked said her best friend has described her as a “robot,” and her husband calls her “the computer” because of her methodical approach.

“They say that I’m very calculated and not very sensitive — that a regular, average person, there are many things that bother them, and I don’t see or feel it,” Ms. Shaked explained in an interview, her first since her recent rocket rise. “If you get into emotions, then it disturbs your work. Sometimes you focus on what’s less important and not the main thing.”

Ms. Shaked, who was sworn in on Thursday as justice minister, in Parliament with Naftali Bennett, center, the leader of the Jewish Home party, and Avigdor Lieberman, the former foreign minister. CreditJim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency

For Ms. Shaked, a former computer engineer, the main thing is “to strengthen the Jewish identity” of Israel, “to have a democratic, Jewish, strong state.”

That translates, in policy terms, into promoting Israeli annexation of most of the occupied West Bank and ousting African asylum-seekers. It means curtailing the power of the Supreme Court, giving politicians more sway over judicial appointments and prohibiting foreign funding of advocacy groups — which could put the main internal critics of Israeli actions out of business. And it entails a “nationality bill” that many see as disenfranchising Israel’s Arab minority, about 20 percent of the population.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian leader among the throngs who fulminated over Ms. Shaked’s new role, said it “is not only a threat to peace and security, but generates a culture of hate and lawlessness.”

Ms. Shaked turned 39 on May 7, the same day her Jewish Home party signed an agreement securing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth term, albeit with a precarious single-seat parliamentary majority. First elected two years ago, she is now poised to head a top ministry as well as the committee that controls legislation, with a seat in the secret security cabinet.

To call her a lightning rod seems an understatement. But unlike other headline-grabbing, flame-throwing politicians, Ms. Shaked is disciplined, a doer.

She answers questions in concise sentences rather than unspooling stories in a conversational style, and said she has been schooled by Mr. Netanyahu to “bridge” from an interviewer’s interest to her own talking points. A secular woman who placed first in the primaries of a predominantly religious party, Ms. Shaked has built pragmatic relations across sectors. She is a quick study, though critics say that she has a simplistic approach to complex problems.

“Even though I can’t agree with most of what she thinks and what she says, she is doing her job very well,” said Oded Ben-Ami, host of a television talk show on which she has appeared frequently. He invoked the Hebrew phrase “mishna sdura,” agenda-driven behavior, explaining: “There is a very clear order in the things she is talking about.”

Ms. Shaked still lives in the Bavli neighborhood of Tel Aviv where she grew up. Her mother, a Bible teacher, voted for center-left parties, and her father, an accountant of Iraqi descent who was born in Iran, for the right-leaning Likud. Ms. Shaked dates her own political awakening to age 8, when she admired the hawkish Yitzhak Shamir in a televised debate.

She danced ballet, was active in the Scouts and excelled at math. It was as an instructor in the army’s Golani Brigade that she grew close to the religious-Zionist settlers who form the core of her constituency today. Serving in Hebron, one of the most contested areas of the West Bank, cemented her stance on the right, she said. “I just realized there will not be a solution right now” to the Palestinian conflict.

Ms. Shaked later married a fighter pilot, whom she asked not be identified because he still works for the military as a civilian instructor. She has proudly posted to Twitter a photo of his F-16 in an Independence Day air show, and on Facebook has posted pictures of herself hiking with her son, who is 10, and daughter, 8.

Erez Eshel, who met Ms. Shaked at Tel Aviv University, said she “is a person not of words, but of hard work.” He recalled going to see her during Israel’s 1999 election campaign, when he became disillusioned while working for Ehud Barak of the Labor Party.

“She said, ‘Erez, don’t talk, let’s do action,’ and we simply went out and removed all the signs of the Labor Party from the streets of Tel Aviv. From 11 until 4 o’clock in the morning,” said Mr. Eshel, who now runs youth leadership academies.

In 2006, Ms. Shaked went to work for Mr. Netanyahu, then the leader of the opposition and, as she put it, “in the political desert.” There she helped hire Naftali Bennett, her future political partner. They broke with Mr. Netanyahu and started My Israel, an online movement that stopped a bank from making a deal with Palestinian investors; vilified an actor who refused to perform in a settlement; published grisly pictures of a family killed in a terrorist attack; and challenged what Ms. Shaked saw as the news media’s leftist bias.

In 2012, Ms. Shaked helped plot Mr. Bennett’s coup to turn the old National-Religious Party into the Jewish Home. When they entered Parliament the next year, despite her freshman status, he made her head of the faction and of a committee to handle the hot-button issue of drafting more ultra-Orthodox men into the military.

“What she’s very good at is tackling delicate issues where she’s in the center of opposing parties and a lot of emotion, and she sort of dismantles it on a very analytical level,” Mr. Bennett said. “The public views her as way more radical than she is.”

A flash point came last June, when Ms. Shaked posted on Facebook a never-published article by a settler activist who had died. It described the entire Palestinian people as “the enemy,” called youths who become “martyrs” while attacking Israelis “snakes” and said their mothers should “go to hell” with them.

Bloggers accused her of promoting genocide. She deleted the post and wrote an op-ed article attacking the attackers.

“It was a mistake,” Ms. Shaked said in the interview, a day before her swearing-in. “I’m doing a lot of mistakes, like every human being.”

She declined to lay out her agenda as justice minister, saying, “First I want to enter the office, and then talk about my plans.” Before that, she is hiring: She told her current aide that she needs a personal assistant, someone who can drop off dry cleaning, but wanted to make sure that was allowed.

Upon realizing that she would be photographed, Ms. Shaked ducked into the bathroom of her tiny Parliament office to put on eyeliner and lip gloss. She later took a call from the coalition chairman, and lit into him when he said he had given away a committee seat she wanted for the Jewish Home.

“How can you change something like that without letting me know?” Ms. Shaked demanded. When he said it was too late and he was too busy to meet, she shot back: “You’ll just have to work back and change it.”

Returning to the interview, Ms. Shaked asked to be asked about Arab citizens. She said they “should be an integrated part of the Israeli society,” denied they face discrimination and said more spots should be created for them to do national service in lieu of the military.

She brushed off attention to her attractiveness as “a bit of chauvinism, a bit of sexism” that “doesn’t matter in the end.” She said the biggest shock of public life was “the volume of the hatred” from what she dismissed as “the radical left.”

Her approach was shaped in part, she said, by the author Ayn Rand. “The fact that sometimes you think differently than others,” she explained, “but you still need to insist on your views, although you are being accused.”

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Child Detainees Testify To Torture And Abuse by Zio-Nazi Gestapo’s


The Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported, on Tuesday, that several detained Palestinian children testified to their lawyers about repeated torture, abuse, and intimidation, by Zio-Nazi Gestapo interrogators and Nazi soldiers.

File - Sama News

Is this anti-Semitism or not ?

The Committee said detained children continue to suffer ongoing violations, torture and abuse by Gestapo interrogators, in direct violation of International Law.

Lawyer Heba Masalha, one of the lawyers of the Detainees’ Committee, managed to visit several detained children, on Monday, in the HaSharon Nazi prison.

Masalha stated that Jamal az-Za’tari, 15 years of age, from the at-Tour town in Jerusalem, was repeatedly beaten and kicked starting directly after Nazi soldiers stormed his family’s home, and during interrogation.

She added that the soldiers cuffed the child; repeatedly beat him on various parts of his body, including his head, and denied him access to food, or even water, for extended hours.

The child was kidnapped nearly two months ago, and was moved to the HaSharon Nazi Camp, where he was stripped of all of his clothes, before Nazi soldiers started beating and insulting him.

The lawyer also met Riyad Abu Ta’a, 17, from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem. He was kidnapped in Sultan Suleiman Street, in the Old City, nearby four months ago.

After his abduction, soldiers cuffed and blindfolded him, and started kicking and beating him, largely on his back, before he was moved to the HaSharon Nazi Camp where he was strip-searched and tortured.

Masalha also managed to visit several child detainees in the Majeddo Nazi Camp, including Eyad ‘Adawy, 17 years of age, from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Adawy stated that several soldiers stopped him near Beit Forik roadblock, before attacking and beating him.

He said that one of the soldiers repeatedly cut his hands every time they used knives to remove his plastic handcuffs, during his arrest, and while moving him to interrogation centers.

The soldiers also repeatedly kicked and punched him on different parts of his body, especially his face, during his arrest nearly a month ago.

The Detainees’ Committee said Nazi regime is currently holding captive 200 Palestinian children in ‘Ofer, Majeddo and HaSharon Nazi Camps.

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Taking the Heat Off I$raHell: Why The NYT Obsesses Over Campus Debates



”Is this anti-Semitism or not ?” Shoah

By Barbara Erickson

Once again, The New York Times is taking up the issue of divestment debates on college campuses, subjecting readers to yet another discussion of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and how the boycott movement affects student feelings.

For the third time in as many months, the Times has published a prominently displayed article on the subject. The latest is titled “Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities;” it appears on page 1 of the print edition and notes that many minority organizations are now supporting Palestinian rights and this “drives a wedge between many Jewish and minority students.”

It is difficult to understand why the Times gives such play to this story, which rehashes material from earlier ones centered on debates at UCLA andStanford, but all the articles take aim at the divestment effort. The previous ones attempted to connect the boycott movement (known as BDS for boycott, divestment and sanctions) with anti-Semitism (see TimesWarp posts here and here); this one tells us that the movement is divisive.

Each of the stories is notable for avoiding the substance of the campus debates. In the latest article, for instance, we learn only that students are objecting to “what they see as Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians” and that “they have cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a powerful force’s oppression of a displaced group.”

Readers would never know that students are motivated by the facts on the ground: the brutality of the occupation, the horrific attacks on Gaza, and a racist system that a South African jurist recently called “infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime of South Africa.”

The Times obscures these facts in its daily reports from Israel and in its discussions of BDS, focusing instead on abstractions and political maneuverings. It attempts to change the subject from the very real Israeli oppression of Palestinians to talk of campus strife over the issue.

Meanwhile, it ignores another, more pernicious, BDS debate unfolding in the legislative bodies from Congress to state assemblies and senates. In these halls, Israel supporters are promoting attempts to outlaw and rein in BDS.

The U.S. House and Senate recently passed amendments authorizing negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership bill to push for efforts that would normalize trade with Israeli settlements on Palestinian land (even though these have been declared illegal under international law), effectively erase the boundaries between the West Bank and Israel and punish companies that resist collaboration with the occupation.

The House amendment openly identifies BDS as a target, saying that negotiators should discourage “politically motivated efforts to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel.” One observer has noted that some of the language in the amendments is identical to that in an Israeli bill adopted in 2011.

State legislatures, such as those in Tennessee and Indiana, are taking aim at BDS, with bills declaring that the movement is anti-Semitic and requiring state pension funds to withdraw money from companies that boycott Israel. The Tennessee bill (and the Congressional amendment) includes passages taken directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2014 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

There is something askew here: The Times finds the BDS debate newsworthy when it takes place on college campuses but not worth mentioning when it shows up in legislative bodies, even at the federal level. It may be that such coverage would bring inconvenient facts to light—Israeli breaches of international law, for instance, and European restrictions on trade with settlements.

We can trace a link from Israel to lobbyists in the United States and from the lobbyists to the halls of Congress and state legislatures. It appears to connect also with The New York Times, where we find some of the familiar techniques for protecting Israel in play: avoidance and diversion.

Thus Times readers, uninformed about the full extent of Israeli atrocities in the occupied Palestinian territories (and within Israel proper), are directed away from the facts on the ground. They are sidetracked into discussions of anti-Semitism or divisiveness, all part of an effort to take the heat off Israel.

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How UK taxpayers help pay for Zio-Wahhabi’s incineration of children in Yemen


Paul McGowan 

UK law bans all assistance to those involved in the cluster munitions trade ad managing investments may be a criminal offence.

Cluster bomb in YemenA BLU-108 canister with four submunitions still attached found in the al-Amar area of al-Safraa, Saada governorate, in northern Yemen.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition is using US-supplied cluster munitions in its airstrikes on Houthi forces in Yemen, Human Rights Watch reported. Targets include those close to villages, posing a threat from undetonated submunitions to civilians.

In recent weeks the coalition has used cluster bombs in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, a region bordering Saudi Ararbia, which is historically controlled by the rebels, HRW said.

“These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch.

Paul McGowan writing in the Guardian:

While our attention was turned to the British general election, Saudi Arabia was dropping cluster bombs on impoverished men, women and children in Yemen,according to Human Rights Watch.

What is this to do with us? After all, the UK signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, ratified it in UK law by the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Act of 2010, and completed the destruction of its own stockpile of cluster bombs in 2014.

This is a good record, and shows that it is perfectly possible to undo ties to armaments which we once thought we needed. Our connection with the latest violence, nevertheless, remains.

The weapons used in these attacks were sold to the Saudis by the US government and manufactured by the American firm Textron, which continues to receive investments from here in the UK, under the control of UK nationals working for pension funds and other financial bodies.

The UK law cited above bans all assistance to others involved in the cluster munitions trade. It is therefore possible that those managing such investments are party to a criminal offence.

And many more of us are implicated because, in the case of pension fundscontrolled by local authorities, the investments are made from council tax revenues.

So it is, in the West Midlands, that we council tax payers, to our shame, contribute about 25 pence each to the work of firms like Textron. That is all it takes to incinerate a child in Yemen.

Source: Guardian & HRW

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Holiday Inn, Hilton hotels allegedly caught selling “anti-Semitic” items in Moscow


moscow dolls

One of the offending items is a set of Russian nesting dolls painted with stereotypes of orthodox Jews


Legal action is being urged after a number of Moscow hotels, namely Holiday Inn and Hilton, were allegedly caught selling anti-Semitic and Nazi-themed items in its gift shop.

In a letter to Russian Prosecutor-General Yuri Yakovlev Chaika, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged legal action to be taken against the items’ producers and distributors.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law banning Nazi imagery.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, was the one who spotted the shocking items while in Moscow for a conference celebrating the end of the Second World War, called ‘The Lessons of Victory in the Second World War/The Great Patriotic War – Seventy Years Later.’ The letter notes that the items are targeted to tourists and some even cost 27,000 rubles ($590 or NIS 2,317).

One of the items he saw for sale was a Russian nesting “matryoshka” doll, painted with anti-Semitic stereotypes of orthodox Jews with big noses and peyot.

The shock continued as he and colleagues also saw a chess set featuring Nazi Whermacht army figurines led by an Adolph Hiler figurine pitted against Red Army figurines led by a Joseph Stalin figurine.

moscow chess players

Samuels noted that not far from both of these shocking displays was a Russian veteran victory ribbon.

“Born in London, I have always acknowledged the role of the Red Army on the Eastern Front in preventing a Nazi invasion of Great Britain,” Samuels wrote in his statement. “Thereby, your people’s sacrifice contributed to the survival of British Jews from destruction in the Holocaust – only 50 kilometers away on the European continent.”

The center called the sale of these items “an insult to every Allied veteran and victim of World War II and also to the Russian tradition of chess excellence,” and recommended that all the items immediately be confiscated.

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“They Have To Die”: Zio-Nazi Politician Calls For Killing of Palestinian Mothers


By Jonathan Turley

ICH” – The situation in Israel and Palestine continues to grow worse on both sides. First you had the savage murder of three Israeli teens. Then you had the retaliation burning of a Palestinian teenager. Now protests are erupting all over Israel and the world on both sides. Some of the coverage is focusing on statements made by Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked on Facebook that day before three Israeli men went out and picked up Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, at random and burned him alive. Shaked’s post calls Palestinians “little snakes” and declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.”

Now comments by Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked has caused an international outcry including contributing to a continuing rift with Turkey. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the remarks and denounced Israel in an analogy to the Nazi regime. The situation is clearly getting worse by the day in the region.

Ayelet Shaked is a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, which is part of the ruling coalition. She is quoted as calling for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.” Shaked posted a screed on Facebook that various critics are denouncing as a call for genocide. Shaked reportedly stated: “They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists . . . are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.”

The Facebook posting stated:

“Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

Her comments have become the focus of the rising protests over Israel’s response to the killing of the teenagers and later rockets attacks. Turkey’s Prime Minister responded with to the comments and later Israeli retaliatory strikes with a charge that Israel is now engaging state terrorism. He drew an analogy that itself is likely to enrage many Israelis: “An Israeli woman said Palestinian mothers should be killed, too. And she’s a member of the Israeli parliament. What is the difference between this mentality and Hitler’s?”

Shaked holds degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences and she worked in marketing for Texas Instruments. She has past ties to Benjamin Netanyahu. From 2006-2008, she was the office director for the office of Netanyahu. She then established “My Israel” with Naftali Bennet, but in January 2012 she was elected to serve as the coordinator of Likud. She later became a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a successor party to the National Religious Party. The party is committed to a nation governed by Jewish law under the belief that Jews are divinely ordained to rule over the Land of Israel. The party has been active in supporting the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian terrorizes and largely represents Orthodox Jews according to news report.

Here is what has been posted as a full translation of Shaked’s statement:

The Palestinian people has declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings. Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to define reality with the simple words that language puts at our disposal. Why do we have to make up a new name for the war every other week, just to avoid calling it by its name. What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy? Every war is between two peoples, and in every war the people who started the war, that whole people, is the enemy. A declaration of war is not a war crime. Responding with war certainly is not.

Nor is the use of the word “war”, nor a clear definition who the enemy is. Au contraire: the morality of war (yes, there is such a thing) is founded on the assumption that there are wars in this world, and that war is not the normal state of things, and that in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.

And the morality of war knows that it is not possible to refrain from hurting enemy civilians. It does not condemn the British air force, which bombed and totally destroyed the German city of Dresden, or the US planes that destroyed the cities of Poland and wrecked half of Budapest, places whose wretched residents had never done a thing to America, but which had to be destroyed in order to win the war against evil.

The morals of war do not require that Russia be brought to trial, though it bombs and destroys towns and neighborhoods in Chechnya. It does not denounce the UN Peacekeeping Forces for killing hundreds of civilians in Angola, nor the NATO forces who bombed Milosevic’s Belgrade, a city with a million civilians, elderly, babies, women, and children. The morals of war accept as correct in principle, not only politically, what America has done in Afghanistan, including the massive bombing of populated places, including the creation of a refugee stream of hundreds of thousands of people who escaped the horrors of war, for thousands of whom there is no home to return to.

And in our war this is sevenfold more correct, because the enemy soldiers hide out among the population, and it is only through its support that they can fight. Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support.

They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

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Racism Is Off Topic in NYT Profile of Nazi Justice Minister


Image result for Ayelet Shaked, PHOTO

By Barbara Erickson

Ayelet Shaked, justice minister in the new Israeli government, gets a pass today in a “Saturday Profile” by Jodi Rudoren. Although Shaked is noted for her extremist rightwing views, it seems she faced no challenges in her interview with The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. The story we find here is all about style and personality.

Rudoren makes a quick run through some of the most disturbing elements of Shaked’s agenda, noting that she favors annexing most of the West Bank, deporting African asylum seekers, limiting the power of the Supreme Court, punishing Israeli groups that criticize the occupation and creating laws that enshrine the rights of Jews over other groups.

There is no discussion of what this means for the future of Israelis and Palestinians apparently no attempt to engage the new justice minister over these issues. We learn that Shaked has drawn heated criticism (some of it sexist) and that she is “the most contentious appointment” in the new government, but we get no deeper look into her motivations.

Only one of her critics, the Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, is identified by name in the article. She is quoted briefly as saying that Shaked’s appointment is a “threat to peace and security” and “generates a culture of hate and lawlessness,” but Rudoren fails to examine the factors that inspire these fears.

Instead, the focus here is on Shaked’s reaction. We learn that she responded to the criticism that accompanied her appointment with a “this-too-shall-pass shrug,” a characteristic attitude according to those close to her. They have called her a “robot” and “the computer,” because she is not given to emotion. Her style is analytical and methodical, Rudoren tells us, and she is “disciplined” and “a doer.”

We also learn that Shaked studied ballet as a child, joined the Scouts and did well in math. In the same paragraph, as if this were one more dab of color in her resume, Rudoren informs us that Shaked served as an instructor in the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade in Hebron and “grew close to the religious Zionist settlers.” Her experience there “cemented her stance on the right.”

This bit of information calls for more discussion. Hebron settlers are noted for their violence against the indigenous Palestinians, and it would serve readers well to know why Shaked identified with them so closely.

Shaked is a member of the extremist Jewish Home party that opposes any kind of autonomy for Palestinians. One of its members is the racist rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, who has said that Palestinians “are beasts; they are not human” and that “a Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile even if he is a homosexual.” (Rabbi Dahan has been named as head of the Civil Administration, the Israeli army agency in charge of the West Bank.)

This is the company that Shaked keeps, but the extremism of her party is off topic in this article. Although we get hints of her ultraconservative stance in the story, Rudoren skips over these clues quickly, preferring to dwell on style and trivia.

Rudoren should be asking what Shaked’s appointment means for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and what it means for dissident Palestinians and Jews in Israel, but this not in her sights. Her aim here, it seems, is to conceal the grim reality of Israel’s racist government, to make light of an ominous turn in Israeli society.

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