Archive | August 12th, 2020

في مواجهة «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها


معن
 بشور

نعقد على مواقع التواصل الالكتروني على مدى يومي السبت والأحد في 11 و 12 تموز/ يوليو الحالي «الملتقى العربي: متحدون ضدّ صفقة القرن وخطة الضم» بدعوة من ستة هيئات عربية (المؤتمر القومي العربي، المؤتمر القومي/ الاسلامي، المؤتمر العام للأحزاب العربية، اللقاء اليساري العربي، الجبهة العربية التقدمية، مؤسسة القدس الدولية) ويشارك في الملتقى أعضاء الأمانات العامة لهذه الهيئات وقادة فصائل المقاومة والاتحادات المهنية العربية وشخصيات محدودة من فلسطين والأردن بما يجعل الملتقى جامعاً لممثلين عن معظم مكونات العمل الشعبي العربي، ومن غالبية تياراته الفكرية والسياسية في تحدّ واضح ليس لـ «جائحة الكورونا» ومتطلبات مواجهتها فحسب، بل في تحدّ للمشروع الصهيو/ أميركي الذي يسعى الى تجزئة الأمة، وتقسيم كياناتها الوطنية، وتشظي مجتمعاتها وقواها الشعبية، ليتمكن من تنفيذ كلّ مخططاته الرامية الى نهب موارد أمتنا وتعطيل مشروعها النهضوي وضرب مقوماتها الروحية والمادية…

واذا كانت المبادرة بعقد هذا الملتقى قد جاءت من المغرب، من خلال شخصية بارزة لها باع طويل في النضال من أجل فلسطين وقضايا الأمة، وهو المناضل خالد السفياني المنسّق العام للمؤتمر القومي الإسلامي وأمين عام مؤسسة المفكر الكبير الراحل الدكتور محمد عابد الجابري، فإنّ التجاوب السريع معها قد جاء من أقطار الوطن العربي كافة، كما من تيارات الأمة المتنوعة، والتي باتت تدرك انّ المدخل السليم لمواجهة التحديات الضاغطة على حاضر الأمة ومستقبلها إنما يكمن بتلاقي تياراتها النهضوية كافة وتجاوز كلّ الجراح الأليمة التي أصابت العلاقات بينها في ظلّ مراجعة نقدية جريئة وصادقة ومنزهة لا مكان فيها لتبرير أخطاء وخطايا وقعنا بها، او للتشهير ببعضنا البعض وتحويل ماضي العلاقات بيننا الى سجن نبقى في أسره بدلاً من أن يكون مدرسة نتعلم منها…

وإذا كان التحرك المباشر للدعوة الى هذا الملتقى، كما الى الملتقى المماثل السابق في بيروت في 7/7/2019، هو التصدي لـ «صفقة القرن» بالأمس ولخطة الضمّ الصهيونية اليوم التي لا ينبغي اعتبار تأجيل الإعلان عنها – رغم انّ التأجيل هزيمة لنتنياهو وداعميه في واشنطن – إسقاطاً لها، فإنّ المشاركين في هذا الملتقى، يدركون، رغم تباين المواقف الفكرية والسياسية بينهم، انّ لـ «صفقة القرن» مخرجات عدة تمتدّ من المحيط الى الخليج، وأبرزها دون شكّ هو استمرار الحروب على أقطار والاحتراب داخل أقطار أخرى، حيث أثبتت الأحداث الأليمة التي نمرّ بها جميعاً أنّ أحداً من أبناء الأمة قد ربح من هذه الحروب أو الاحتراب، وأنّ الرابح الأكبر هو المشروع الصهيو – استعماري الذي بدأ بالتجزئة ليستمرّ بالتفتيت.

ولعله من بديهيات القول إنّ البداية الحقيقية لـ «صفقة القرن»، إنما بدأت باحتلال العراق، بعد حصار جائر استمر 13 عاماً. وهم يسعون اليوم الى تطبيقه في فلسطين وسورية ولبنان واليمن وصولاً الى الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران.

ولم يكن من قبيل الصدف أن يعلن جورج بوش الابن بعد إتمام مهمته في الحرب على العراق عام 2003، ان مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد قد بدأ تنفيذه، والذي هو في نهاية الأمر نسخة مبكرة عن «صفقة القرن»… فلكلّ حاكم في الولايات المتحدة او دول الغرب الاستعمارية مشروعه لـ «صفقة القرن» باسم حلف من هنا، او مشروع من هناك، او قانون من هنا او مخطط من جهة ثانية.

من أول مخرجات الصفقة والضمّ التي باتت واضحة للأردنيّين عموماً، ملكاً وحكومة وشعباً، هو أن يدفع الأردنيون، مع الفلسطينيين، الثمن المباشر للضفقة المشؤومة ولخطة الضمّ، وهو ما يتطلب تنسيقاً قوياً ومتواصلاً بين الأردن وفلسطين. وتماسكاً شعبياً داخلياً يمنح القيادة الأردنية قدرة أكبر على المواجهة.

يتقدّم هذه المخرجات أيضاً، هو ما يشهده لبنان من ضغوطات وحروب وحصار تستهدف تجريده من مصادر قوته والمتمثلة بوحدة شعبه وبمقاومته الباسلة التي حققت في سنوات انتصارات، ما عجزت عنه حكومات ودول وجيوش…

كما يتقدّم هذه المخرجات أيضاً ما تشهده سورية من حرب عليها وفيها، واعتداءات صهيونية وأميركية متواصلة، وصولاً الى «قانون قيصر» الذي يدّعي «حماية المدنيين في سورية» فيما المتضرّر الأكبر منه هو الشعب العربي في سورية الذي يدفع أغلى الأثمان بسبب هذه الحرب الظالمة المفروضة عليه منذ عشر سنوات. بسبب مواقفه القومية التحررية التاريخية تجاه قضايا الأمة كلها، وفي طليعتها قضية فلسطين التي شكلت سورية على الدوام العقبة الكأداء في وجه محاولات تصفيتها كما شكلت والسند المباشر لكلّ حركة مقاومة في وجهها.

من مخرجات هذه الصفقة أيضاً هو ما تشهده مصر من استهداف مباشر لأمنها المائي من خلال سدّ النهضة، وأمنها الوطني من خلال الإرهاب في سيناء، وأمنها القومي من خلال ما يجري في ليبيا… وهذا الاستهداف لا يمكن مواجهته إلا بتعزيز الالتفاف العربي والإسلامي حول مصر، وبذل كلّ جهد ممكن لتعزيز الجبهة الداخلية في القطر العربي الأكبر.

والحرب في اليمن أيضاً، سواء من خلال ما يتعرّض له شماله من عدوان وقصف وتدمير وحصار، او ما يتعرّض له جنوبه من احتراب بين حلفاء، تستخدم ايضاً في إطار خدمة «صفقة القرن» ومعاقبة شعب عظيم، كان وسيبقى، متمسكاً بفلسطين وكل قضايا أمته.

أما تحويل الساحة الليبية الى ساحة حروب إقليمية ودولية، فليس هدفها فقط تدمير بلد عربي، كان شعبه ولا يزال، حريصاً على عروبته وإسلامه وحريته وكرامته، وهي حرب بدأت مع الغزوة الأطلسية قبل تسع سنوات لتستمر اقتتالاً لا يهدّد الأمن الوطني لليبيا، بل هدفها أيضاً استهداف الأمن القومي لشمال أفريقيا، وغربها، لا سيما مصر ودول المغرب العربي التي تسعى المخططات الاستعمارية الى إشعال كلّ أنواع الفتن في ربوعها…

أما دول الخليج والجزيرة العربية، فهي ليست بعيدة عن دائرة الاستهداف، بل انّ المشروع الصهيو – استعماري يدفع الى إغراق بعضها في سياسات محلية وعربية وإقليمية لن تؤدي إلا الى تبديد ما تبقى من مواردها، وابتزاز أكبر قدر ممكن من أموالها، وإشعال الاضطرابات في داخلها، ودفعها لأن تكون القاطرة الأولى في قافلة التطبيع الذي هو في رأس أهداف «صفقة القرن» المشؤومة …

ولعلّ ما يشهده السودان اليوم من استغلال مطالب مشروعة في الحرية والعدالة والكرامة الإنسانية، من أجل إيقاع السودان في مهاوي الصراع الداخلي، والتفكك الوطني، والتطبيع مع العدو، ليس بعيداً عن مخرجات «صفقة القرن» وأهدافها الخبيثة…

وبالتأكيد تبقى تصفية قضية فلسطين هي الهدف، والغاية من هذه الصفقة، والمدخل من اجل ترسيخ التجزئة وتعزيز مشاريع التفتيت في المنطقة، وهو ما يتطلب تعزيز التوجه المبارك لتجاوز الانقسام المدمّر للمشروع الوطني الفلسطيني، وتوحيد الطاقات والجهود الفلسطينية لإطلاق انتفاضة كبرى لن تؤدي الى سقوط «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها فقط، بل تؤدي الى دحر الاحتلال عن الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة وعاصمتها القدس.

وإذا كانت مواجهة «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها مهمّة الأمة بكلّ أقطارها فإنّ الردّ الشامل عليها يكمن في تبني لمعادلة الخلاص التي أعلناها بعد احتلال العراق وتقوم على مهمات أربع، 1- مقاومة احتلال الأرض، 2- مراجعة للتجارب والعلاقات بين أبناء الأمة وقواها وتياراتها لنطوّر الإيجابي منها، ونتخلص مما علق بها من شوائب، 3- مصالحة تبني للمستقبل وتخرجنا من سلبيات الماضي، 4- فمشاركة تسمح لكلّ أبناء الوطن المساهمة في تقرير مصيرهم…

«صفقة القرن» إذن ليست المشروع الصهيو – استعماري الوحيد الذي واجهته الأمة، وما تزال، ولن يتوقف الأعداء على إخراج مشاريع مماثلة من أجل سحق أمتنا والقضاء على مستقبلها وآمالها، وتحويلها من أمة قائدة في الإنسانية الى أمة تابعة وذيل للدول الاستعمارية ومقاومة هذه الصفقة اليوم، بكلّ مخرجاتها وفي مقدمها خطة الضمّ الصهيوني تكون بالاستمرار في مقاومة المشروع الصهيو/ استعماري الممتدّة منذ عشرات السسنوات، وفي وحدة الأمة بكلّ أقطارها وتياراتها، فحيث كانت هذه الوحدة تتوفر، كانت المقاومة تنتصر، وحيث كانت تتعثر كانت المقاومة تتراجع.

من هنا، يكتسب ملتقى «متحدون» كخطوة على طريق توحيد الرؤى والجهود أهمية استثنائية في ظروف استثنائية.

الأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Arabic, PoliticsComments Off on في مواجهة «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها

George Galloway plans return to Scottish politics after coronavirus quarantine border row

 by Derek Healey

George Galloway.
George Galloway.

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Dundee-born former MP George Galloway is plotting a return to Scottish politics after becoming embroiled in a fierce social media row over a proposed quarantine for people arriving in Scotland from England.

The left-wing firebrand confirmed he has decided to move back to Scotland following a storm with pro-independence social media users this weekend, which he said culminated in him receiving “blood-curdling” threats of physical violence.

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The former Labour and Respect MP said a bid to secure a Scottish Parliament seat is “not fantastically of interest” at the moment due to his other work commitments but it is something he would consider “if necessary”.

Mr Galloway has already dipped his toes back into the water by launching a campaign urging opposition leaders to agree an electoral pact where only the candidate with the best chance of defeating the SNP would run at next year’s Holyrood election.

He has also been vocal about his opposition to any coronavirus quarantine for people travelling to Scotland from the rest of the UK.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this week the Scottish Government has “no plans” to introduce such measures but has refused to rule it out for the future.

Her position on the issue has led to criticism from opposition politicians, after a small group of protesters gathered at the side of the A1 road at the border on Saturday, wearing protective overalls and swearing at people to “stay out” of Scotland.

Mr Galloway, whose mother and sister still live in Dundee, said he took to social media to condemn the demonstration because he believed it painted an unpleasant image of Scotland to the rest of the world.

He said: “I had myself crossed the border just the day before. I had my children in the car and I wouldn’t have liked them to have witnessed that.

“They would have been wondering why their father, Scottish born and bred, was being screamed at to get the f out of Scotland.

“Lo and behold, as soon as I highlighted it, I had hundreds of people saying that – and in even worse language – on Twitter and social media. That included threats which I’ve had to pass to the police.

“Much worse, it was my wife that opened one in a direct email – and my wife is nine months pregnant. She is due any day. She opened an email threatening us with physical violence. It’s just not acceptable.”

Mr Galloway said the incident had prompted him to make a decision on returning to Scotland – although he said he would not be moving back to Dundee.

“I don’t intimidate easily and it made my mind up about moving back to Scotland,” he said. “But unfortunately for them, it made it up in a way that they won’t like – it convinced me that I have to move back.

“I’ve been considering it for a while. It’s a big step and they may well have thought they were intimidating me out of doing so but, in fact, they pushed me into doing so.”

Humza Yousaf.

Mr Galloway claimed “nationalist forces” in Scotland had whipped up the border issue “not for public health reasons but for party political reasons – for reasons of sharpening the Scotland-England issue”.

Nicola Sturgeon used her daily briefing on Monday to ask people not to protest at the border, saying it is not “sensible or helpful”.

She said the protesters “do not speak for me” and were not there communicating a message she endorses “in any way”.

“I would emphatically say I do not endorse that,” she added.

The group was widely criticised both by Scottish Government figures and opposition politicians, with SNP justice secretary Humza Yousaf tweeting that “these morons don’t represent the Scotland I know and love”.

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on George Galloway plans return to Scottish politics after coronavirus quarantine border row

These three judges could send ‘Israel’ to the dock in The Hague

Jurists from France, Hungary and Benin will soon rule if the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes allegedly committed in Palestine

By RAPHAEL AHREN

One of them has dealt with Israel in various capacities throughout his distinguished career, including chairing a major international conference in Tel Aviv. One has written a 20-page analysis of an international court’s views on the legality of Israel’s security barrier. And one seems to have no prior record of involvement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Together, these three judges will soon decide whether Israel is headed for the dock in The Hague.

Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France, Péter Kovács of Hungary, and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Benin make up the pre-trial chamber that has been charged with ruling on the tricky question of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

It’s up to them to determine whether the The Hague will launch an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem — which could possibly see Israeli political and military leaders in the dock — or to close the case. They are expected to hand down their ruling in the coming days or weeks.

The ICC is controversial in general, with the United States slapping sanctions on it and Israel accusing it of bias and anti-Semitism. The three judges of the pre-trial chamber in whose hands Israel’s fate now lies have also been subjects of some scrutiny.

Demonstrators carry banners outside the International Criminal Court, urging the court to prosecute Israel’s army for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. (AP/Peter Dejong)

Last year, lawyers for a Malian defendant sought to disqualify the same chamber from ruling on a Mali war crimes probe because its impartiality had allegedly been undermined, since Alapini-Gansou had previously participated in two fact-finding missions to the African country. But a plenary of judges dismissed the case.

So far, there have been no formal efforts to disqualify the pre-trial chamber ahead of its expected decision on the “situation in Palestine,” even though two of the three judges — Brichambaut and Kovács — have a long history of involvement with the intricacies of the Middle East conflict.

As a trio judging cases for the ICC, their scorecard does not necessarily bode well for the State of Israel, which hopes they will rule that the court does not have jurisdiction over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The three judges have repeatedly ordered the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to reexamine the case of the Gaza flotilla, which she wants to close as not meeting the court’s requirement of “gravity.”

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, a naval vessel aiming to break the naval blockade on Gaza, and were violently attacked by activists aboard armed with clubs and metal bars. In the ensuing melee, nine Turkish citizens were killed and one died later of his wounds; 10 soldiers were wounded, one seriously.

The Mavi Marmara protest ship is escorted to Ashdod port on May 31, 2010 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The Mavi Marmara protest ship is escorted to Ashdod port on May 31, 2010 (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Three years later, the Comoros, a small Muslim-majority nation in the Indian Ocean, asked the ICC to investigate the Israeli raid on the vessel, which had sailed under its flag.

But Bensouda decided there was “no reasonable basis” to probe the matter because even though Israeli forces may have committed war crimes aboard the Marmara, the possible offenses were not grave enough to merit prosecution at the ICC.

The Comoros appealed her decision, and the case was brought to the pre-trial chamber. Brichambaut, Kovács and Alapini-Gansou ordered her to reconsider, ruling that she had “committed material errors” in her assessment of the case’s gravity.

A Kafkaesque back-and-forth ensued, with the prosecutor, the pretrial chamber and an appeals chamber arguing, over thousands of pages, not about the alleged crimes themselves but rather about who has jurisdiction to close and reopen probes. In November 2018, Brichambaut, Kovács and Alapini-Gansou ordered her for revisit the issue for a third time time (which she refused to do, bringing the case again to an appeals chamber, where it is currently under consideration).

“When this is the quality of the court’s decisions, and when its exploitation for political ends is so easily and repeatedly allowed, it is no wonder that so many are deeply concerned that the court has lost its way,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel at the time.

Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, September 27, 2016. (AFP/ANP/Bas Czerwinski)

Rare outreach to Palestinian victims

The three judges also caused some dismay in Israel when they launched a campaign to reach out to “victims of the situation in Palestine” — the case that could land Israeli leaders in the dock — two years ago. They ordered the court’s registry “to establish, as soon as practicable, a system of public information and outreach activities for the benefit of the victims and affected communities of the situation in Palestine.”

Furthermore, the judges required the registry — a neutral organ of the court providing administrative support — to open an “informative page on the Court’s website” geared exclusively to Palestinians, and to report on the progress of its activities every three months. Victims “play an important role” in the court’s work, the judges noted.

Their move was deemed “unusual” and “strange” by some officials in Jerusalem, who noted that is almost unprecedented for a pre-trial chamber to engage in active outreach to victims in a case that has not yet advanced to the stage of an investigation.

Responding to the outreach program, Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry who was involved in negotiating the ICC’s founding statute, said the court has allowed itself to become a tool of pro-Palestinian propaganda.

The International Criminal Court September 24, 2017 (courtesy ICC)

“This seems to me to be quite crazy, and the court is openly turning itself into a Palestinian propaganda engine, similar to the [United Nations] Human Rights Council, with a regular reporting regime on Palestine only and a distinct section of its website devoted to Palestine,” he told The Times of Israel at the time.

The three judges were going out of their way to cater to Palestinian victims in preparation of a trial, even though the court has yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the territory in question, Baker noted.

“All this seems to indicate that the ICC is venturing far beyond its role and is being politically manipulated, or is manipulating itself, against its own better interests,” he fumed.

Despite the previous disagreements between the pre-trial chamber and the prosecution on Israel-related matters, many international law experts predict that Brichambaut, Kovács and Alapini-Gansou will ultimately agree with Bensouda that “Palestine” is a state that can transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague, and green-light her investigation. Israel and nearly a dozen other countries — including the US, Australia, Brazil and Germany — have publicly argued the opposite.

No evidence of anti-Israel bias

At the same time, a cursory search does not reveal any anti-Israel bias on the part of the judges.

Brichambaut, who was born in Morocco and has been involved with the ICC since its founding, has actually defended Israel on at least one occasion.

In 2004, he participated in a debate in the French Senate about nuclear proliferation in his position as senior Defense Ministry official. It would be ideal if all states in the Middle East, including Israel, would join treaties calling for the abolition of atomic weapons, he said.

Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut at the ICC, 2019 (courtesy ICC)

“Regarding Israel, I certainly did not explain myself well,” he clarified a few minutes later, stressing that the Jewish state was neither proliferating nuclear weapons nor threatening to use them. “The country that has proliferated, by giving nuclear power to Israel, is France. No one has ever accused Israel of then sharing its [nuclear] capabilities.”

Israel’s motivation for maintaining nuclear capabilities are evident and do not require further elaboration, he added.

One year later, Brichambaut was appointed secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In this position, he presided over the 13th OSCE Mediterranean Seminar that took place in Tel Aviv in December 2007. No Arab states participated in the event, which Brichambaut told the Jerusalem Post at the time showed that the region requires “a transformation of institutions, of practices, of society and culture.”

Brichambaut: “Neither Palestine nor Israel are usual entities. There’s a lot of power, there’s a lot of culture, and there’s a lot of human potential that goes around those”

Brichambaut became a judge at the ICC in 2015, and discussed the challenges of the Israel-Palestine file a year later in an interview.

“The Palestinian case is going to be very difficult for many reasons. First, it addresses a number of provisions within the statute which once again have never been covered — issues like occupation,” he said.

Another “huge problem” for the court would be to find evidence and witnesses, and the prosecutor’s dilemma as to who would be determined as “potential culprits” to be hauled in to The Hague, he added.

Demonstrators carry banners and Palestinian flags outside the International Criminal Court, ICC, urging the court to prosecute Israel’s army for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands, November 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The ICC cannot start a war crimes trial without the defendant physically in the dock, which “might prove an absolutely insurmountable obstacle,” he offered.

“The rest, it’s your judgement as good as mine. Neither Palestine nor Israel are usual entities. There’s a lot of power, there’s a lot of culture, and there’s a lot of human potential that goes around those, so it’s likely to be extremely demanding approaches if ever those cases come to the court.”

Will the Hungarian judge defy Budapest?

Kovács, a professor of public international law at the University of Budapest and the first Hungarian judge at the ICC, finds himself in a somewhat awkward position: His native country is one of the states that publicly argued that the court does not have jurisdiction over “Palestine” and should close the case.

He is, of course, not bound by Budapest’s opinion, and before getting the job asserted that as a judge in Hungary he repeatedly opposed the government’s will. Still, it can be assumed that he is carefully weighing whether he wants to defy the very country that nominated him for his current job.

Judge Péter Kovács (Courtesy ICC-CPI/Max Koot)

A former diplomat, Kovács is familiar with the intricacies of the Middle East peace process. A 20-page paper he authored about the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion on Israel’s security barrier does not offer many insights into his ostensible political leanings.

However, he did argue that the assertion that Israeli policies vis-a-vis the West Bank violate international law “can hardly be challenged.” At the same time, he observed that in the Middle East, “no interstate questions can be answered solely on the basis of international law.”

In another paragraph, Kovács objected to the court’s call for the United Nations to redouble its efforts to bring about a “negotiated solution … and the establishment of a Palestinian State.” Such wishes are “very close to what one could qualify as judicial activism,” he charged.

An unknown quantity on Israel-Palestine

Alapini-Gansou’s career has so far focused mostly on the human rights situation in several Africa states. There are no indications that she has dealt in any depth with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before becoming a judge at the ICC in March 2018. On matters related to Israel, she has not offered any dissenting opinions.

Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou (courtesy ICC)

In The Hague, pre-trial chambers rule by majority; judges who disagree with their colleagues are invited to explain their minority view.

In 2018, for instance, Brichambaut disagreed with Alapini-Gansou and Kovács regarding the prosecutor’s request to probe the alleged deportation of more than 725,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh (the former is not a member of the court, while the latter is).

Alapini-Gansou and Kovács argued that the court has territorial jurisdiction over crimes that partially took place on the territory of an ICC member state. Brichambaut disagreed and posited that it was premature to determine the question of territorial jurisdiction before a preliminary examination of the case had been initiated.

In 2015, it was Kovács who had “various” disagreements with his fellow judges regarding the Marmara case. The Israeli troops’ actions on the Gaza-bound vessel would likely “not qualify as war crimes,” he wrote in his dissenting opinion. “It follows that the lack of prospect for any successful prosecution, together with the relatively low gravity of the alleged crimes makes it clear that the initiation of an investigation in the present situation is unwarranted.”

He was overruled, and the case is still pending.

On 8 July 2019, the confirmation of charges hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud opened before Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC), composed of Judge Péter Kovács, Presiding Judge, Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou (courtesy ICC)

What Brichambaut, Kovács and Alapini-Gansou will decide on the “situation in Palestine” is anyone’s guess at this point. They could adopt Israel’s position and argue that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel/Palestine whatsoever.

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in December argued that the ICC “manifestly lacks jurisdiction” over the case because “no sovereign Palestinian State is in existence” that could delegate to the court criminal jurisdiction over its territory and nationals. (If the pre-trial chamber decides to close the case, the prosecutor could either decide to let it go or appeal the decision.)

If the judges are unconvinced by Mandelblit’s arguments, they are likely to rule that the broader question of Palestinian statehood is irrelevant as long as “Palestine” formally became a “State Party” to the court, which it did in April 2015. (Some member states may choose to appeal that decision).

There are various other possibilities. The judges could, for instance, ask for more time or for more information. Or they could refuse to issue a ruling at all and ask the prosecutor to make a decision herself.

Either way, Israel will soon find out. While the judges don’t have a set deadline, they are expected to announce their ruling before the ICC goes on summer break in mid-July.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on These three judges could send ‘Israel’ to the dock in The Hague

Egypt: Rabaa field doctor: ‘They burned them dead and alive’

Dr Hanan Al-Amin

Dr Hanan Al-Amin

Dr. Hanan Al-Amin was in a makeshift operating room in the Rabaa field hospital when security forces burst into the room and ordered her and another doctor to leave. A patient was on the table with his abdomen open – they had found six bullets in his liver, his spleen and his diaphragm.

She told the officer that she couldn’t leave her patients, pointing to three other people in front of her. He took his gun and shot each one of them in the heart.

“At that point I lost the ability to think,” she recalls. “All I could think is that there is no way this person is a human being, there’s no way we’re in Egypt, there’s no way these are my people,” says Al-Amin and begins to cry at the memory.

“My life paused on 14 August 2013” she says eventually. “I can’t move on to the 15th, my life agenda stopped on that day.”

It was four years ago today that security forces advanced on protesters in Rabaa Square who had gathered to protest against the ouster of the country’s first elected president Mohamed Morsi.

For 12 long hours snipers fired indiscriminately into the crowd, bulldozers crushed the camp beneath their tracks and security forces set fire to the tents.

Once they had massacred as many demonstrators as they could they turned to the field hospital where a number of doctors including Al-Amin were volunteering. Some 1,000 people died that day.

Protesters begun congregating roughly one and a half months before the massacre. Al-Amin lived opposite and in the beginning would go for a few hours a day before or after work at the University of Zagazig, where she was a paediatrics professor.

As the days went by and the protesters continued to demand their rights she decided to commit herself to serving in the square. Al-Amin began to feel it was the nation’s cause and the future of her children.

Read: Remembering the Rabaa massacre

“I wanted to set an example for people to volunteer,” she says, “for peaceful demonstrations and to rescue the country and demand a better life for the people.”

As top of her school, not just her class, when she was young Al-Amin was confident she could be a good doctor. But nothing she had learnt at school or university could prepare her for what she saw in the square that day.

“Never for one second did I imagine throughout the whole time of studying and being a doctor for 30 years that I’d have to treat the severity of the wounds I saw in Rabaa,” she says. “I saw what was done to Palestinians during the Nakba by the Israeli occupation but I never thought I would see Egyptians doing it to their own people.”

“I never thought that I’d see so many people who are protesting and demanding their rights be wounded by their own army and police who are put in place to defend them,” she adds.

A file photo dated July 26, 2013 shows an aerial view of Rabia Adaweya Square where tens of thousands people protest against the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency]

A file photo dated July 26, 2013 shows an aerial view of Rabia Adaweya Square where tens of thousands people protest against the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency]

In the days before the massacre Al-Amin herself participated in the demonstrations. In the afternoons, when most people were resting, they organised women’s marches to help motivate others. She would go out for an hour or so then come back and continue working. “They were my way to recharge,” she recalls.

“I felt like the demonstrations were really what kept everything alive in the square. On some days when I didn’t go out I could see them and it would give me motivation and I would wish I was out there with them. We saw all the marches and protests that started at Rabaa or anywhere else as a form of reviving our intention and hope.”

A lot of the doctors in the field hospital were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood but not all of them, she says. The director of the hospital, for example, was not; there were also groups among the protesters who simply believed in Egyptians’ right to live freely.

“Everyone believed in the people’s rights to express their opinion and people’s right to self-determination,” she continues. “We believed in our right to exercise democracy, that the Egyptian people that wowed everyone with their revolution have the right to live their lives in the way they want to.”

But this was not enough to save people that day.

The massacre began at 7am and from the start Al-Amin and her colleagues worked tirelessly to try to treat the wounded. By around 3pm there was barely any medication left, she recalls, not even pain killers. “I was just standing there helpless, I couldn’t do anything. In those moments I hated myself and hated medicine. I just hated everything,” she says.

Terrified children had gathered in the mosque in search of safety but were suffocating from the tear gas. Ambulances were prevented from entering the square: “It was a war zone,” she says. “The whole aim behind that was to instil fear and intimidate the people. They declared genocide on us that day.”

Hospitals around Rabaa square were equipped but Al-Amin says they were given direct orders from authorities not only to block the ambulances but prohibit them from admitting patients. Even the surrounding pharmacies were instructed not to supply medication.

As Al-Amin was escorted out of the field hospital by the man who shot her patients, a young boy called out to her not to leave him. She didn’t dare to look at him in case he was shot too.

Outside she turned to see smoke rising out of the hospital, which was still full of wounded people. Security forces set fire to it – “they burned them dead and alive,” she says.

Al-Amin knows one doctor who was shot in the back and is now paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. But some of the doctors were spared that day. Perhaps God destined some of them to live so they could bear witness to the massacre, Al-Amin suggests. Or maybe the criminals were too busy killing the opposition.

Read: My daughter sacrificed her life for Egypt’s victory, dignity and prosperity says Asmaa Beltagy’s mother

Because people at the protests were so afraid of repercussions from authorities they smuggled their children’s bodies out of the square wrapped in cloth and hidden in baskets, and then buried them. Many did not wait for official death certificates as they were too scared their loved ones or siblings would be punished by association.

Some time after the massacre one of the officers admitted they had scooped up 700 bodies in the metal plate of a bulldozer and transported them to Gebel Al-Ahmar near Heliopolis and buried them, some dead and some still alive. That’s why Al-Amin believes the death toll is likely to be far higher than 1,000.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

Security forces had three clear goals on the 14 August 2013, she reflects. First, they wanted to eliminate everyone who was there; second they wanted to send a message of fear and intimidation to anyone else who was considering opposing the regime. Finally, they wanted to portray this as a military victory.

What they’ve succeeded in doing, says Al-Amin, is splitting society in two. “One half has been killed and the other half is happy they’ve been killed,” she says. “The split that emerged will take years, if not decades, to heal.

“Anyone who was involved will be punished,” she continues. “We will see them punished in this life time in order for the people to heal.”

As for the international community, “they stood watching silently from 7am to 6pm while not Muslims but the human race were being burnt and killed and murdered before the eyes and ears of the world. That day is a day of shame and disgrace for humanity as a whole,” she reiterates.

“As a paediatrician I have never loved and hated a profession more than on the day of Rabaa. I felt the true value of medicine. I loved my profession because I felt the value of it but I also hated it so much because I’ve never felt so helpless. I never thought that I’d ever be a helpless doctor. I never thought I’d see a patient in front of me without being able to treat them.”

The effects of Rabaa will be felt for years to come, she says. Some people were so afraid of the government their children weren’t treated in the aftermath and are suffering the psychological effects today. Some have been orphaned; many have fathers in prison.

“I am certain that the children who were in Rabaa are our strategic treasure,” says Al-Amin, “because after witnessing Rabaa they will refuse to live as slaves”.

Posted in Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on Egypt: Rabaa field doctor: ‘They burned them dead and alive’

Egypt: At 14 Haitham was one of youngest political prisoners: ‘They forgot I was a child’

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim. Four years on from his arrest one of Egypt’s child political prisoners Haitham Abdel Rahim recalls 50 days of torture.

By: Amelia Smith

At 2 am on 3 October 2015 Osama Abdel Rahim had just returned home from work and was taking a shower. His elderly grandmother was in her room, his mother and father were out, and his older and younger brothers were asleep.

He stepped out of the bathroom to see ten masked officers and four plain-clothed police in the hallway.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

“Where’s Haitham?” one of them asked. He paused as he tried to register what was going on, then pointed towards his brother’s bedroom.

Inside the room Haitham, who was then just 14 years old, woke up to see a tall, angry man with a huge moustache surrounded by officers holding machine guns.

“Are you Haitham?” he asked. He lent closer and whispered in his ear: “I know you have a nickname and I know you attend and lead protests. I know everything.”

The officers instructed the boys to get their phones, following them from room to room as they collected them. Amr was reluctant to give his up – he hadn’t deleted his images from the Rabaa sit-in two years before and he knew the Egyptian government was taking punitive measures against any member of the opposition.

In its crackdown the regime has not distinguished between young and old, in fact thousands of children have been arrested since the coup and are tried alongside adults. According to the London based human rights organisation Reprieve, death sentences have been issued to ten children under the regime of current President and coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Read: Husband and son in prison. Daughter shot in Rabaa. Asmaa Beltagi’s mum speaks on the massacre

When they had collected their mobiles the officer with the moustache said he would take Haitham downstairs to talk to him for five minutes. When Amr, then 20, protested they took him as well.

It was dawn by then, around about time for the fajr prayer. Inside the microbus Haitham looked around at the other passengers – some were his friends who had been forcibly disappeared a week before.

They pulled away from his apartment and then stopped outside another friend’s house. The boys waited downstairs as the officers went inside and arrested him also. As the bus left they looked out of the back window and saw his mother crying and running behind the van, begging the officers not to take her son.

After making several further arrests they eventually arrived at Nasr City police station where the boys were bundled into the state security investigation room known as the fridge. It was big enough for five people but there were more than 20 detainees inside, recalls Haitham. Nobody knew where they were there for the first 40 days of their arrest – it wasn’t until 9 November that they were brought before the state prosecutor.

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim (R) in 2015, (L) in 2019

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim (R) in 2015, (L) in 2019

Under Egyptian Child Law children under the age of 15 cannot be placed in detention without legal grounds. Egypt has also signed up for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that calls for freedom from abuse for children, but this mattered little to Egyptian authorities who allowed Haitham and the other detainees out to use the bathroom twice a week and for the rest of the time gave them plastic bottles to urinate into. There were no mattresses, duvets or pillows.

On the third day prison officers blindfolded them and took them one by one out of the room. When they returned each told the others they had been tortured with electric shocks.

Haitham was sleeping when his turn came. “Tell us everything you’ve memorised since your birth up until the moment you came here,” the officer asked him.

Read: UN backs out of torture conference in Egypt after pressure from rights groups

The next day Haitham returned to the fridge to see his eldest brother Ahmed, a dentist, who he says never attended the protests. “The police came back to the house, took all the laptops and arrested me as well,” Ahmed told him.

On the sixth day Amr was taken from the fridge. When he didn’t return over an hour later Haitham grew increasingly worried. “I heard his voice, he sounded scared and broken,” he recalls.

They came back for Haitham and covered his eyes again. “Tell us all your friends names and where they live or we will do to you what we did to your brother.”

The policeman began to read out a list of names. Haitham recognised one and the policeman said that he would never go home again if he did not tell them where he lived. “I didn’t know his home address,” he recalls.

“At last and sadly, out of my fear of torture, I had to tell him about one of my friends who was two years older than me. His only crime was to protest against tyranny. They took me in a police car while covering my eyes, and then they removed the cover and asked me to guide them to my friend’s house, and I did.”

Sisi Era - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Sisi Era – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

But they still didn’t release Haitham.

On the seventh day in the fridge Haitham and Amr were blindfolded and once again bundled into a minibus. When the doors opened for them to get out they heard dogs barking, police were pushing them and shouting. Haitham took off his blindfold to look at where he was.

“I saw a scene I’ve only seen in horror movies. I saw detainees lined up on the left and right with signs of torture all over their bodies, some were completely naked.”

One of the detainees saw him remove his blindfold: “Quick, cover your eyes,” he said. “There are cameras everywhere, they might harm you.”“Where are we?” Haitham asked someone else.

“Don’t speak to me,” he replied. “We will both be tortured.”

Read: Egypt detains ex-advisor to Palestine’s Arafat

Haitham learnt later that they were in the state security building in the Lazoughly district of Cairo. One prisoner told him he had been blindfolded with his arms cuffed for 30 days, another for 50 days. The food was minimal, small pieces of bread and cheese, a spoonful of rice and beans.

“Your number is 33,” an officer came to him to say. “If they call 33 say I’m here.” Haitham could hear screaming and shouting. “Don’t worry you will leave tonight,” he told him, but Haitham stayed there for over a month, all the time cuffed to another person, wearing the same clothes, and blindfolded even whilst he was sleeping.

The officers didn’t care that he was only 14-years-old:

They forgot I was a child. I was crying, I was hungry and freezing, it was so cold, and they didn’t give us any cover.

Haitham remembers one of the officers who took pity on him and gave him two cans of juice. He gave one to his brother. “I will never forget Mr Mohammed, who was a kind officer who offered me once a cucumber and once dessert. Yes it seems funny but that meant a lot to me.”

Authorities wanted Haitham to admit he had distributed flyers against the Sisi regime, that he had spray painted anti-government slogans in the streets and that he was a member of the banned group, the Muslim Brotherhood: “He forced me to confess with a video looking at a camera and told me, never look at me while I’m recording you.”

By this time he had been beaten and one of the officers had promised to remove his clothes. He had been imprisoned with other adults, with criminals and political detainees, which is against the CRC.

One of the guards eventually asked for his father’s number and he came to collect him. “I hugged him while I was crying,” recalls Haitham. “I hadn’t seen him for 50 days. There was a camera recording us as well.”

Finally, all the brothers were allowed to return home, but the nightmare wasn’t over for the family. Several days later security forces came to their home to arrest Osama for a Facebook post he had written about his brothers Haitham and Amr.

After his release Haitham was traumatised and suffered nightmares. But he had to focus – he only had one month before his end of year exams. His family moved house, afraid he would be rearrested, and he studied at home in case he was kidnapped again: “That was difficult for me because I was a teenager, and I loved going out with friends. I studied at home, and I passed the exams.”

Posted in Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on Egypt: At 14 Haitham was one of youngest political prisoners: ‘They forgot I was a child’

Egypt: Rabaa Al-Adawiya massacre ‘the worst mass killing’

A file photo dated August 14, 2013 shows a supporter of Mohammed Morsi shouting as Egyptian security forces stormed the Rabaa Adawiyya sit-in in Cairo, Egypt. ( Mohammed Elshamy - Anadolu Agency )

A file photo dated August 14 2013 shows an Egyptian man in despair as Egyptian security forces stormed the Rabaa Adawiyya sit-in in Cairo, killing 1,000 people.

Human Rights Watch has said that the 2014 Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square massacre of civilian protesters by the Egyptian army remains the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history, New Khalij News reported on Tuesday.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

The rights group noted in a public statement that it had called repeatedly for an international investigation to be opened into the massacre. It also called for the legal authorities in other countries to investigate what happened in Cairo on 14 August 2013 and prosecute those responsible. There is also a case to put on trial those involved in the systematic torture and extrajudicial killing of protesters.

HRW reiterated that no government officials or security personnel have been investigated or prosecuted in Egypt for their part in the massacre, in which around 1,000 people were killed and another 4,000 were wounded. Many survivors of the army’s brutal assault, it added, were sentenced to death or long prison terms after “unfair trials”.

In August 2014, the organisation released the findings of a year-long investigation into the Rabaa Massacre and concluded that “the killings not only constituted serious violations of international human rights law, but likely amounted to crimes against humanity, given the widespread and systematic nature, and the evidence suggesting the killings were part of a policy.”

Posted in Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on Egypt: Rabaa Al-Adawiya massacre ‘the worst mass killing’

REMEMBERING THE RABAA MASSACRE

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre, Egypt

Seven years ago, on 14 August 2013, the Zionist puppet Sisi army stormed a sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa square and slaughtered more than 1,000 people who were protesting against the removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian opposition had been demonstrating outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo for 47 days when security forces attacked at around 6am on 14 August 2013.

Zionist puppet Sisi security forces shot indiscriminately into the crowd, set fire to the tents people had gathered in and threw tear gas into the masses. People were shot, burnt alive and suffocated with tear gas. Security forces blocked the entrances so that ambulances couldn’t get in to treat the wounded.

Despite the fact that the police and army opened fire and used excessive force, since that day not a single security officer has been brought to trial or been held accountable for the massacre.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on REMEMBERING THE RABAA MASSACRE

Instagram apologises for deleting Bella Hadid’s post celebrating Palestinian identity

Anti-Semitic Cartoons: A Hallmark of Qatari Newspapers | Anti ...

Instagram said in a statement that the content “shouldn’t have been removed”

Instagram has apologised to supermodel Bella Hadid following her public criticism of the social media platform for deleting a post she shared showing her father’s place of birth as Palestine.

After the Palestinian-American supermodel posted an image of real estate mogul Mohammed Hadid’s long-expired passport, with the passport number blurred out, Instagram sent her a removal notice claiming her post went against “community guidelines”.

Hadid, 23, directly called out the social media site as she wrote, “what part of me being proud of my father’s birthplace of Palestine is ‘bullying, harassment, graphic or sexual nudity?’”

In response, Instagram said in a statement that the content “shouldn’t have been removed”.

READ: Gigi Hadid’s dad and his childhood home in Palestine

“To protect the privacy of our community, we don’t allow people to post personal information, such as passport numbers, on Instagram,” said a spokesman from Instagram’s parent company Facebook.

“In this case the passport number was blurred out, so this content shouldn’t have been removed. We’ve restored the content and apologised to Bella for the mistake.”

The model re-posted the passport photo, which currently remains on her social media feed, and stated, “Do you want him to change his birth place for you? Everyone should post where their mother and fathers were born today! Remind them how proud you are of where you come from! I am proud to be Palestinian.”

Palestinian-born Mohamed, 71, and her supermodel daughter, Gigi Hadid, reposted Bella’s Instagram Story on to their profile in a show of support with a tag that said, “Proud”.”

The Hadid family have been vocal advocates of Palestinian rights for years, using their platforms to promote the cause.

READ: Right-wing NGO wants singer banned for criticising Israeli soldiers

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, PoliticsComments Off on Instagram apologises for deleting Bella Hadid’s post celebrating Palestinian identity

Springfield, Mass. police narcotics squad routinely used excessive force: Justice Department

An officer allegedly threatened to crush a youth’s skull and “get away with it.”

By: Jack Date

Massachusetts police squad routinely used excessive force: DOJ

Massachusetts police squad routinely used excessive force: DOJ

The Springfield, Mass., police narcotics squad regularly punched people in the head and kicked them, according to a Justice Department investigation.The Springfield, Mass., police narcotics squad regularly punched people in the head and kicked them, according to a Justice Department investigation.

A Justice Department investigation into a specialized narcotics unit of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Department found officers routinely used excessive force, including punching people in the face and using head strikes in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

“We found in that case there was a drug unit in the Springfield Police Department that was engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force,” Attorney General William Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas in an exclusive interview

The investigation, the only pattern or practice investigation initiated during the Trump administration, began in 2018 after the federal indictment of an SPD narcotics sergeant who, two years prior, had allegedly kicked and spat on a teen boy and said, “Welcome to the white man’s world.” The officer also allegedly threatened to crush a youth’s skull and said he would “f—ing get away with it.” That case is still pending trial.

Investigators “identified a specific trend of Narcotics Bureau officers striking suspects in the head, or otherwise using force that results in blows to the head, in situations where such force is not justified.”MORE: As feds continue to seek interview with Prince Andrew, Attorney General William Barr says Jeffrey Epstein probe marches on

According to a newly released report on the investigation, conducted jointly by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts, the “routine reliance on punches during arrests and other encounters … indicates a propensity to use force impulsively rather than tactically, and as part of a command-and-control approach to force rather than an approach that employs force only as needed to respond to a concrete threat.”

The investigation “revealed chronic issues with the use of force, poor record keeping on that subject and repeated failures to impose discipline for officer misconduct,” U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said in a statement.

The Springfield Police Department has approximately 500 sworn officers with 24 serving on the narcotics unit that was the subject of the investigation.

“Narcotics Bureau officers repeatedly punch individuals in the face unnecessarily, in part because they escalate encounters with civilians too quickly, and resort to unreasonable takedown maneuvers that, like head strikes, could reasonably be expected to cause head injuries,” the report said.

Springfield Police Department Headquarters in Springfield, Mass.Springfield Police Department Headquarters in Springfield, Mass.Google Maps Street View

Plainclothes officers failed to take basic steps to identify themselves, DOJ investigators found, which “resulted in pursuits that ultimately escalated into unreasonable uses of force.” In two cases, drivers stated that they didn’t stop because they did not know they were being pursued by police in unmarked cars and instead “feared they were being chased by criminals.”

One such chase ended with one man being slammed to the pavement, leaving him with “severe contusions and dark bruising on the right side of his face, a large black eye, a gash on the bridge of his nose, and additional abrasions on the left side of his face and the left side of his nose,” that investigators said were “consistent with repeated strikes of his head.”

A second case involved a person who reported “he was kicked in the face and upper body area 10-12 times with multiple officers taking turns kicking him” after being stopped.

“This report is disturbing and disappointing. No one, no one is above the law, including police officers,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said at a press conference Thursday.MORE: Police arrest woman who allegedly drove into protesters in Indiana hit-and-run

The report recommends enhanced reporting and review procedures, new use-of-force training that addresses “the importance of avoiding fist strikes to the head, neck, and face area, and avoiding kicking suspects.”

Unlike most other police departments, current “SPD policies do not require officers to report ‘hands on’ uses of force such as punches and kicks,” the report stated.

The report also calls for new procedures to ensure civilian complaints are properly handled and increased accountability mechanisms that include “meaningful, consistent and appropriate” office discipline.

“Some of the changes that are recommend in the report have already been started,” Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told reporters. “Some of the rules and regulations of the Springfield Police Department are outdated.”

In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C.In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C.Jose Luis Magana/AP, File

The city of Springfield and its police department have cooperated with the investigation and are working to institute some reforms, but without an enforceable agreement, any changes they make are voluntary.

“The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all people in our nation from excessive force by law enforcement,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The Department of Justice looks forward to working with the City of Springfield and its Police Department to protect this very important Constitutional right.”

Trump’s Justice Department has not embraced the use of courts to enforce reforms on police departments using tools like consent decrees.Editor’s PicksAG Barr announces new initiative ‘Operation Legend’ to tackle violent crimeAttorney General William Barr defends Justice Department against claims of politicizationAttorney General Bill Barr’s interview with ABC News: Transcript

“I’m not adverse to using pattern or practice” investigations, Barr told ABC News. “Sometimes there are other ways of getting at it rather than through using court consent decrees. Sometimes you can work with the police department through contracts and other things to work with them to improve the particular problem you find without necessarily bringing the courts into it.”

“These consent decrees can drag out for a long time and, you know, become more of a checklist item versus effectuating real change. At the end of the day, if we think something has to be changed, we’re going to use whatever tool we think is going to be successful in accomplishing that,” Barr added.

The three prior administrations — under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama — conducted 70 pattern or practice investigations and secured 41 consent decrees mandating court supervised reforms or settlements with police departments.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new guidance effectively raising the bar for using consent decrees in 2018, just one day before he was fired. Sessions’ memo stated that decrees, while sometimes necessary, could deprive local elected officials of control of their government.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Springfield, Mass. police narcotics squad routinely used excessive force: Justice Department

US comedian Seth Rogen turns the truth about Israel into a joke

Seth Rogen
By Lawrence Davidson

Seth Rogen tells the truth

Just how much erosion has support for Israel suffered among Western Jews under the age of 40? The polls are not much help, because they tell contradictory stories. However, in anecdotal terms, there is a strong sense that the gap is growing between an increasingly rightwing and racist Israeli society and younger, liberal/progressive Western Jews. The well-publicised recent interview with Seth Rogen, a comedian and filmmaker with an “ability to capture the Jewish cultural conversation”, and a fan base among Jewish millennials (i.e. those born between 1981 and 1996), may be a case in point. 

On 27 July 2020 Rogen was interviewed on fellow Jewish comedian Marc Maron’s “insanely popular podcast” WTF. While on Maron’s programme, Rogen questioned why those with “a secular Jewish identity” should feel “any cultural identification with the state of Israel”. Indeed, he admitted that the notion of a Jewish state made little sense to him. He said “Jewish statehood was the result of an “antiquated thought process” and was in truth, counterproductive. “Encouraging all Jews to live in one Jewish state is a nonsensical strategy for the preservation of Jewish peoplehood.”

I’m afraid of Jews. I’m 100 per cent afraid of Jews.

Seth Rogen

How did Rogen come to these conclusions? He credited his outlook to overcoming an incomplete and deceitful Jewish educational process. He explained that he had been “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life. You know, they never tell you, that oh by the way, there were people there.” In other words, the history of Israel he was taught never mentioned the Nakba [the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestimnians], the occupied territories, and collective imprisonment of the residents of the Gaza Strip and the like. It was just the story of “only democracy in the Middle East” and the “most moral army in the world.” As Marc Maron would say, “WTF”! 

Asked why a famous guy like himself had not previously spoken publicly about Israel, he noted that “I’m afraid of Jews. I’m 100 per cent afraid of Jews.” Presumably not all Jews, just those allied to the state of Israel. Who can blame him? Most of the US Congress feels the same way. 

Reaction from the right: Standard tropes

A few days after Rogen’s interview appeared, a quick retort appearedin the Jewish publication the Forward. Weirdly entitled “Dear American Jewish boys, Please, please, take your Oedipal rage and find another outlet for it.” It was written by Shany Mor, a researcher at, among other places, the Israel Democracy Institute. Mor’s objections to Rogen’s positions are reflections of standard Zionist tropes. 

Standard Trope One: As Mor’s title implies, his initial reaction to Rogen’s statements is that they must reflect some form of self-hatred. The “self-hating Jew” is an established, if rather despicable, Zionist trope. Mor now uses it against Rogen, accusing him of being motivated by “Oedipal rage”, that is hatred of his parents because they did not tell him about Israel’s bellicose origins. This is a ridiculous ad hominem attack. It should be noted that it is probably the case that a majority of Jewish children in the West, post 1948, were either lied to or left in ignorance about the Palestinians and their fate. That some of them should now express resentment is not evidence of some personality flaw on their part. It is rather an expression their dismay of Zionists’ inability to admit to their own criminal behaviour. 

Standard Trope Two: Mor dismisses any lasting moral responsibility for the Zionist state’s bellicose origin – for Israel’s metamorphosing the near-genocidal fate of the Europe’s Jews into the Zionists’ own near-genocidal treatment of the Palestinians. He does this by implying that Rogen is singling out Israel and using double standards to judge its policies. This too is a standard Zionist trope. Supporters of Israel insist that it is somehow illegitimate to point a finger at Israel’s sins when other countries like the United States have similar racist histories – histories that they too are reluctant to share with their citizenry. Thus, in response to Rogen’s critique of his Jewish education, Mor asks: “Was the version of American history you got at age 12 particularly critical? Did you learn a lot about the Trail of Tears, the Indian Removal Act or the Chinese Exclusion Act, or even the three-fifths rule?” Speaking of the history Rogen received about his own nation, it is an indication of just how much thought Mor put into his response that he asks these questions of a man born and raised in Canada. Though he presently has dual citizenship, Rogen says, “I definitely associate with being Canadian much more than being American because I grew up in Canada.”

Oddly, this sort of argument, “that others do bad things too and so why are you picking on Israel,” is just a poorly constructed dodge – if for no other reason than it is a backhanded admission of guilt. Zionists can’t excuse Israel’s guilt by pointing to the guilt of others. The wonder is that they try this ploy. Most of us stop using the “but the other guy is doing it too” excuse by the time we outgrow the sandbox.

Other Zionist reactions

While Mor chastised Rogen for complaining about receiving no information about Palestinians, other Zionists accuse the actor of being ignorant of the events that gave rise to Israel. They say that his concern for Palestinians indicates that he is “utterly clueless as to why Herzl and his followers sought self-determination in Israel in the first place”. This really can’t be true, due to the sort of Zionist youth background (Hebrew school, Jewish summer campus, family trips to Israel) Rogen had. Indeed, these experiences constitute an endless repetition of the telling of the Eurocentric events that brought us Herzl and the Zionists.

Rogen’s presumed ignorance of what brought us Israel (as against information about how Israel has behaved) allegedly “show the need for more education about Israel as the ancestral home of the Jewish people”. In other words, the Zionist response to Rogen’s complaint of being left in ignorance of Israel’s sins is to double-down on the old one-sided storyline and intensify its dispersal. 

Still, there are a lot of hardcore Zionist ideologues who moved beyond such palliative tactics. As we will see, they have a much more aggressive, ideologically abrasive attitude toward a growing number of Jews of the “millennial” category who might agree with Seth Rogen’s negative reaction to “the expectation that all Jews should be Zionists”. 

Rogen backtracks: I was just joking

As noted, Rogen has been described as a personality with a unique ability to “capture the Jewish cultural conversation” –at least for his generation. The reaction he got from the Zionist establishment certainly made him aware of a counter-conversation that has the potential to challenge his status as a Jewish cultural icon. He confessed to being “sensitive” to the backlash – “I’m sensitive to Jewish people thinking I’m not a proud Jewish person, which I am” – and now claims that much of what he expressed about Israel was said in jest. “I should not have spoken jokingly” on this issue and “I do not want Jews to believe I think the Jewish state should not exist.” This hedging came after a Zoom conversation with Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency. 

The one part of his interview with WTF that he stuck by was the assertion that his Jewish education was both incomplete and misleading. Yet here lies a trap of his own making. In his conversation on WTF the principal missing part of that education was the fate of the Palestinians. His complaint in this regard now becomes hollow in the face of his prioritising, under pressure, the fact that “I do not want Jews to believe that I think the Jewish state should not exist”. The Nakba and the apartheid society that resulted from Zionist Israel’s existence are what Rogen is being made to begrudgingly swallow to avoid charges of being a “self-hater” and a relentless campaign that can undermine his career. 

Conclusion

An opinion piece (29 July 2020) in the Forward written by Joel Swanson and entitled “Wake up, Jewish establishment: Seth Rogen speaks for a lot of us young Jews”, asserts that “the Jewish establishment… can’t keep pretending that young Jews who reject Zionism and the state of Israel are relegated to a tiny, insignificant fringe of the community”. The “Jewish establishment” may or may not be “pretending”, but Rogen’s experience demonstrates that “the establishment” has no intention of negotiating, much less compromising with “young Jews who reject Zionism.” 

The true-believer Zionists have accepted the breach in the Jewish community, and guess what, loyalty to Zionist Israel is more important than Jewish unity. Those who fail the loyalty test, whatever their number, are not only expendable, but must be purged or silenced. Seth Rogen got a taste of that determination following his “jokey” assertion of historical truths. Those who dare to speak out publicly will face a similarly strong reaction.

There is no question that this is the preferred Zionist tactic. The only question lies in how much courage and strength those who reject the apartheid state of Israel will muster in the face such pressure. Hopefully, a bit more than Seth Rogen did. To the extent that such courage and strength is growing, the Jews are making progress.

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