Archive | October 26th, 2010



Joseph Agassi: Liberal nationalism for Israel

– Joseph Agassi, Liberal nationalism for Israel, Jerusalem and N.Y., Gefen, 1999.This book was written in the shadow of the air of distress and despair which is spreading throughout Israel, a country which many of its residents think is progressively deteriorating. The book was written in 1984 and is even more relevant today, in 2007.

Identifying the spreading distress and despair is important for understanding the proper ways to heal and repair it. Israel is now in an extremely abnormal and difficult situation — Israeli governments have refused to recognize the existence of an Israeli nation and so cannot see the existence of the state as an instrument of political initiative and as a tool in the service of the nation and citizens who reside within its borders.

The Struggle for Hegemony in Jerusalem: Secular and Ultra-Orthodox Urban Politics

– An excerpt from a pamphlet written by Shlomo Hasson, The Floersheimer Institute For Policy Studies (2001), Jerusalem, in which the author describes how Jerusalem became a Haredi city while democracy was being lessened in the city. The main causes were secular and Haredi (combined) — the secular by power of authority and the Haredi for ideological and economic reasons. Jerusalem, just like the entire country, serves as an example of the gradual degeneration of democracy (in the widest sense) which should make all those who love freedom and liberty quake.

A State of Mind: How political Zionism was defeated by the Jewish religion

– By Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, Nimrod Publishing House, 2004, 315 pp., This book examines the basic failure of Zionism whose root is — in the opinion of the author — the definition of the State of Israel as a state based on the Jewish religion.

Response to Rabbi Segal

– This essay offers criticism of the response written by Rabbi Ya’akov Segal to the publications of Daat Emet. The essay shows that Segal’s arguments cannot be sustained and that beside vituperation, his essay offers nothing in response to the cases of matter-of-fact errors in the Pentateuch and in Rabbinic sources pointed out by Daat Emet.

Letter to Rabbi

– A long, fascinating, and alluring letter from a yeshiva student to his rabbi, in which he discusses the dilemmas, difficulties, contradictions, and refutations of faith. He reveals the doubts and soul-searching of the educated believer, he who does not turn reason into the handmaiden of his faith. This is a contemporary document which open a window to doubts about Man’s place in relationship to G-d throughout the history of all monotheistic religions.

How to measure time; what are the ages of rocks and geological sites?

– By Prof. Oded Navon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences, and Dr. Mordechai Stein, a researcher at the Geological Survey of Israel in Jerusalem. This essay explains how time is measured and the age of rocks and geological sites. It clarifies, even to a person not expert in the field, upon what researchers rely when they determine the age of the planet Earth and utterly negates the religious tradition of a universe formed only 5766 years ago, when ‘in the beginning, G-d created.’

The Age of Lights

– By Michael Harsagur, The Broadcast University (second edition, 1989), Ministry of Defense, Tel Aviv. This book emphasizes the current import of the revolution of enlightenment against the forces of darkness, the fight of reason against religion. In Israeli society there are religious-political forces which seek to cut off at the root the saplings of rationality and reason, which have grown after hard physical and intellectual labor.

Jewish Theocracy

– By Gershon Weiler. Afekim Library – Am Oved (1976), Tel Aviv. The central thesis of this book is that the Jewish religion and the existence of this state are diametrically opposed, and so a Jewish religious state is an oxymoron.

Ashmedai’s nails

– By Uzzi Ornan, Einam Publishing (1999) Kiryat Tivon. This book presents the secular Israeli world view. This world view is not given support — financial or organizational — from any public institution, and therefore there is a special need to express it, for otherwise it would not be brought, and the public — the press, government offices, schools, radio, and television — would continue to preach non-secular viewpoints. Therefore every voice trumpeting in public on behalf of secularism, freedom of expression, and against coercion should be supported and heeded.

The four elements in Jewish literature

– By Prof. Yossi Rivlin. This article shows the imagination of religious people, how they use the science of their times to interpret the Holy Writ. Science, which is constantly being scrutinized, changes based on new findings while the Holy Writ, which claims to be eternal, becomes a source of scorn and of mockery.


Posted in LiteratureComments Off on JEWISH BOOKS & STUDIES




Israeli Website Exposes Zionist Extremism!

My recent video on Jewish extremism has garnered a lot of interest.  The following is an article titled Gentiles in Halacha from the Daat Emet Website in Israel. Daat Emet is a secular site written by Jews who reject the Jewish Supremacism that forms the core of Judaism. In Daat Emet you will find validated almost all my assertions about Jewish supremacism.

For pointing out the extreme ethnic hate and supremacist nature of Judaism I am often incorrectly condemned and slandered as anti-Semitic. Yet, the extreme hatred and body of Jewish law against Gentiles (and also against Jewish women) is almost completely unknown to most Gentiles as  Zionist-dominated media keeps people in complete ignorance of Jewish extremism. Interestingly, the same press that suppresses awareness of Jewish extremism constantly tells the world about the dangers of Muslim extremism.

Yet, it is Jewish extremism that led directly to the terrorism and ethnic cleansing that created Israel, that tortured more than a hundred thousand Palestinians and other Arabs in their prisons, and that terrorized and harmed millions of people such as in the recent attacks on Lebanon. The Zio=Jewish extremists are fomenting the so-called War on Terror and they are the ones who created the disastrous Afghanistan and Iraq War, wars for Israel not America. The Halacha is the core of Jewish Law.

Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה; also transliterated as Halakhah, Halacha, Halakhot and Halachah) is the collective corpus of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law as well as customs and traditions. Like the religious laws in many other cultures, Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and non-religious life. Hence, Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but numerous aspects of day-to-day life.- from Wikipedia

One of the core doctrines of the Halacha is that Gentiles (all non-Jews) are not human beings but animals. Correspondingly, it teaches that it is permissible for Jews to kill, harm, cheat, and steal from Gentiles, in fact such is sometimes even commanded by their law. It actually teaches that Gentiles are in three categories, those that obey all seven Noahide Laws (though in practice no Gentiles fit this category), Gentiles who do not keep the Noahide Laws, and Gentiles who are Idolater Gentiles (as Halacha considers all Christians).

We learn from the laws that we wrote here that there are three levels of killing one who is not a Jew: One, if he is a Noahide gentile, fulfilling the seven laws–a Jew who kills him is not liable to death by the courts as he would be had he killed a Jew, but he is liable to death by the hands of Heaven. The second is a gentile who does not keep the seven Noahide laws (and we know of no gentile who keeps the seven Noahide laws)–this one may be killed, but the Jews are not commanded to kill him.

The third is an actual idolatrous gentile (as Halacha considers all Christians): it is a commandment to kill him. The Rama, in Yoreh Deah 158, section one, writes: “And therefore one is allowed to try medicines on gentiles to see if they help.” This is an explicit halachic license to perform medical experimentation by force on gentile slaves bought by Jews.–from Parashat Maatot on Daat Emet website

Gentiles in Halacha

Foreword — Daat Emet

For a long time we have been considering the necessity of informing our readers about Halacha’s real attitude towards non-Jews. Many untrue things are publicized on this issue and the facts should be made clear. But recently, we were presented with a diligently written article on the subject, authored by a scholar from the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva — so our job was done by others (though we have already discussed some aspects of this issue in the weekly portions of Balak and Matot; see there).

Since there is almost no disagreement between us and the author of the article on this issue, we have chosen to bring the article “Jews Are Called ‘Men’” by R’ David Bar-Chayim (in Hebrew) so that the reader will be able to study and understand the attitude of the Halacha towards non-Jews.

In this article R’ Bar-Chayim discusses the attitude towards “Gentiles” in the Torah and in the Halacha and comes to an unambiguous conclusion: “The Torah of Israel makes a clear distinction between a Jew, who is defined as ‘man,’ and a Gentile.” That is to say, any notion of equality between human beings is irrelevant to the Halacha. R’ Bar-Chayim’s work is comprehensive, written with intellectual honesty, and deals with almost all the aspects of Halachic treatment of non-Jews.

It also refutes the statements of those rabbis who speak out of wishful thinking and, influenced by concepts of modern society, claim that Judaism does not discriminate against people on religious grounds. R’ Bar-Chayim shows that all these people base their constructs not on the Torah but solely on the inclinations of their own hearts. He also shows that there are even rabbis who intentionally distort the Halachic attitude to Gentiles, misleading both themselves and the general public.

For the English readers’ convenience we will briefly mention the topics dealt with in R’ Bar-Chayim’s article:

Laws in regard to murder, which clearly state that there is Halachic difference between murder of a Jew and of a Gentile (the latter is considered a far less severe crime).

A ban on desecrating the Sabbath to save the life of a Gentile.

A Jew’s exemption from liability if his property (e. g. ox) causes damage to a Gentile’s property. But if a Gentile’s property causes damage to a Jew’s property, the Gentile is liable.

The question of whether robbery of a Gentile is forbidden by the Torah’s law or only by a Rabbinic decree.

A ban on returning a lost item to a Gentile if the reason for returning it is one’s sympathy towards the Gentile and compassion for him.

The sum which a Gentile overpays in a business transaction due to his own error is forfeit; whether a Jew is permitted to intentionally deceive a Gentile is also discussed.

One who kidnaps a Jew is liable to death, but one who kidnaps a Gentile is exempt.

A Jew who hurts or injures a Gentile is not liable for compensation of damage, but a Gentile who hurts a Jew is liable to death.

One who overcharges a Gentile ought not return him the sum that the Gentile overpaid.

A Gentile — or even a convert to Judaism — may not be appointed king or public official of any sort (e. g. a cabinet minister).

One who defames a female proselyte (claiming that she was not virgin at the time of her marriage) is liable to neither lashes nor fine.

The prohibition to hate applies only to Jews; one may hate a Gentile.

One may take revenge against or bear a grudge towards Gentiles; likewise, the commandment “love your neighbor” applies only to Jews, not to Gentiles.
One who sees Gentile graveyards should curse: “Your mother shall be greatly ashamed…”

Gentiles are likened to animals.

If an ox damaged a Gentile maidservant, it should be considered as though the ox damaged a she-ass.

The dead body of a Gentile does not bear ritual impurity, nor does a Gentile who touches the dead body of a Jew become impure — he is considered like an animal who touched a dead body.

One is forbidden to pour anointing oil on a Jew, but there is no ban on pouring that oil on a Gentile because Gentiles are likened to animals.

An animal slaughtered by a Gentile is forbidden, even if the ritual slaughter performed was technically correct, because Gentiles are deemed like animals. (Daat Emet does not agree that this is the Halachic reason for invalidating a Gentile’s ritual slaughter — but this is not the place to delve into the subject).

Their members are like those of asses” — Gentiles are likened to animals.

Between the Jews and the Gentiles — In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought

R’ Bar-Chayim’s arguments and conclusions are clear, Halachically accurate, and supported by almost all the existent major Halachic works. It would be superfluous to say that R’ Bar-Chayim fully embraces this racist Halachic outlook as the word of the Living G-d, as he himself pointed out in the “Conclusion” of his article: “It is clear to every Jew who accepts the Torah as G-d’s word from Sinai, obligatory and valid for all generations, that it is impossible to introduce ‘compromises’ or ‘renovations’ into it.”

On the other hand, we want to make it clear that Daat Emet — as well as any reasonable people who do not embrace Halachic laws as the word of the Living G-d — are repulsed by such evil, racist discrimination.

In the Hebrew text we have abridged the second part of R’ Bar-Chayim’s article, “Between Jews and Gentiles — In the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and in Jewish Thought,” because, in our view, the Halacha is the law which obligates every religious Jew while concepts of the Aggadah, the Kabbalah, and Jewish thought are not binding on anyone, as our rabbis have already written: “And so the Aggadic constructs of the disciples of disciples, such as Rav Tanchuma and Rabbi Oshaya and their like — most are incorrect, and therefore we do not rely on the words of Aggadah” (Sefer HaEshkol, Laws of a Torah Scroll, p. 60a); we have expanded on this issue in the portion of Vayeshev.

Read all of Gentiles in Halacha




Zionist Agents Leverage Peace Talks to Free the ‘Most Devastating’ Spy in US History

Reps Frank, Pascrell, Towns and Weiner conspire to free Jonathan Pollard

By Philip Giraldi
Operation Virtual Vigilance Moves Ahead(Watch Jonathan Pollard Stealing U.S. Secrets for Israel)

Let us suppose for a moment that an individual enjoying the full confidence and trust of the United States government was given access to the most secret information possessed by the US military, to include how it would react to an attack by an aggressor armed with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Let us further suppose that that individual violated his trust in the most egregious and vile fashion, offering to sell the information to anyone, but eventually settling on a nation ostensibly friendly to the US but not in any way a formal ally. The individual then proceeded to deliver defense secrets literally by the carload, not only information that might plausibly have been construed as relevant to the buyer’s own security, but also strategic defense information that could conceivably have led to the deaths of millions of American citizens. That information was then bartered and re-sold to an enemy who was in a position to use it to devastate the United States, together with sources and methods information on intelligence operations that in short order led to the deaths of many American citizens and also foreigners who had been cooperating with the United States.

Let us further suppose that the individual who stole the secrets was eventually caught because the sheer volume of what he was stealing was detected in spite of the indolence and incompetence of his superiors and he was convicted and imprisoned for life. In the damage assessment made after the arrest, it was determined that the espionage had been the most devastating ever experienced by the United States of America, both in volume and in the sensitivity of the information that had been betrayed.

Fast forward a few years. The country that paid the man to steal the secrets becomes a major beneficiary of US assistance and uses the money to set up a lobbying organization that effectively manages key players in the federal government and the media, making it virtually invulnerable to any criticism. Pumped up by hubris, that country seeks on several occasions to obtain the freedom of its spy, claiming inaccurately that he was only taking information used for purely defensive purposes. Fast forward a few more years and legislators in the US Congress known to be advocates of the foreign country that bought the secrets join in, calling for the release of the convicted spy. The media, also compromised and in the pockets of the foreign lobby, obligingly does not report the tale of American legislators who have apparently sold out.

I am, of course, referring to Jonathan Pollard and his friends in Israel and the United States. Pollard did more damage to the United States than any spy in history. And it was genuine damage, not just a mass of documents that had been routinely classified. Pollard’s Israeli handler, aided by someone in the White House who has up until now evaded arrest, was able to ask for specific classified documents by name and number. The Soviets obtained US war plans, passed to them by the Israelis in exchange for money and free emigration of Russian Jews without any regard for the damage it was doing to the United States. The KGB was able to use the mass of information to reconstruct US intelligence operations directed against it and a number of Americans and US agents paid with their lives. Pollard also revealed to the Israelis and Soviets the technical and human source capabilities that US intelligence did and did not have, which is the most critical information of all as it underlies all information collection efforts. Compounding the problem, the United States has never actually been able to accurately ascertain all of the damage done by Pollard because the Israeli government has refused to cooperate in the investigation and has not returned the documents that were stolen.

And make no mistake, Pollard did it for money. He has since wrapped himself in the Israeli flag and promoted himself as an observant Jew to justify his crime and to obtain his freedom. He is reported to be a very popular person in Israel, an Israeli citizen by act of parliament, and there is a square in Jerusalem that has been renamed “Freedom for Jonathan Pollard Square.” There is also an active “Justice for Jonathan Pollard” movement in the United States supported by the heavyweight Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Never before has there been such a transformation, with a despicable lowlife spy who sold out his country for money turned into a hero.

Pollard is just one symptom of the asymmetrical relationship that makes many mutter “wag the dog” whenever the subject of Israel comes up. If ever a foreign country has stuck its thumb in the eye of Uncle Sam, it is Israel in its willingness to take the United States for a ride while always demanding still more. And when it demands more it is invariably given more, with US politicians and mainstream media ever willing to genuflect and do what is right for the kleptocracy in charge in Tel Aviv.

The latest criminal outrage is a quartet of congressmen who are calling on the Obama Administration to free Pollard to “advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” Well, first of all, everyone knows that the talks are kabuki, designed to accomplish absolutely nothing while advancing the standing of Obama prior to the US congressional elections in November. Israel continues its creeping annexation of the West Bank aided and abetted by Washington, which will do nothing substantive to stop the illegal and immoral activity. Abbas presumably is being bought off to stay silent while the play unfolds and Hamas, which should be sitting at the table, has been excluded.

That means that the congressmen in question, who actually took an oath to uphold the US Constitution, know that they are doing nothing but throwing yet another bone to Israel. The congressmen are Barney Franks of Massachusetts, Edolphus Towns of New York, Anthony Weiner also of New York, and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey. Mark their names well. Franks and Weiner are presumably acting due to tribal solidarity, but Pascrell and Towns are the straight men in the routine, brought along to make the Free Pollard movement appear to be less than a complete ethnically based sell out.

It is time for the American people to rise up and throw these bums out. Putting them in jail for malfeasance and corruption would be even better. I would like to see a panel of USS Liberty survivors and widows and orphans of the dead intelligence officers question Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns about their plan to free Pollard. Better still, I would like to see some US veterans groups and their publications develop a backbone and take up the cause, finally saying that enough is enough since it is our soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have paid the price in their blood for the Israeli connection. And then there is the intelligence community. Its leading lobby, Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), has long ignored Israeli espionage and prefers to regularly express concern about “Islamofascism.” Look in your own backyard folks, it is the Israelis who are skinning us alive, not the Muslims, and Pollard is the poster child of what exactly is being done to us. He is sometimes cited as proof that spies for Israel are caught and punished, but the truth is that he is the only one who has done hard time in jail and only because of the enormity of his crime while all the others have somehow slipped through our criminal justice system. Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns are only the latest in a long line of collaborator politicians who should sometimes sit back and ponder where their loyalty actually lies. If they persist in their Pollard campaign, they should be regarded as not fit to sit in the congress of the United States. And that goes for anyone else who decides to lobby on behalf of Pollard.

An opportunity is coming in November to remove the snakes from Congress. Let’s organize to get rid of Franks, Weiner, Pascrell, and Towns. To be sure they will be replaced by others who are probably just as attached to Israel or fearful of its lobby as they are, but the time will inevitably come when allegiance to a foreign nation that is a strategic liability for the United States will become unseemly. May that day come soon.

Article Source



October 26, 2010

by crescentandcross Quantcast

Saying “I salute you,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the headquarters on Tuesday of Israeli naval commandos who killed nine pro-Palestinian Turks aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship in May.

Netanyahu’s tour of the top-security Shayetet 13 base on the coast near Haifa was a show of defiance against international censure of the raid on the converted cruise liner Mavi Marmara.

Netanyahu - AP - Oct. 26, 2010 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Israeli naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May, in Atlit naval base, northern Israel, Oct. 26 2010
Photo by: AP

It followed testimony on Sunday from Israel’s military chief, who told a state-appointed inquest into the operation that the commandos had come under pistol, knife and cudgel
attacks while boarding and fired 308 live bullets in response.

Activists from the Mavi Marmara have confirmed they resisted the Israeli boarding party but denied provoking lethal violence.

Netanyahu said the May 31 raid on the Turkish-flagged vessel, one of six ships trying to run Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, had been “crucial, essential, important and legal”.

“Gaza has turned into an Iranian terror base,” he said, referring to the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas Islamists, in a speech to around 200 members of the unit.

He heaped praise on the commandos, saying they had acted “courageously, morally and with restraint”.

The night-time interception on Mediterranean high seas and the ensuing bloodshed strained Israel’s once-close ties with Turkey, which has demanded an apology and compensation.

A United Nations probe last month condemned the attack as unlawful and said it resulted in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. UN jurists also said the Gaza blockade had caused a humanitarian crisis and was unlawful.

‘I salute you’

Flotilla 13 commandos had been equipped with riot-dispersal gear but quickly switched to live fire during deck brawls with dozens of activists. The ship had ignored Israeli calls to stop.

Two commandos were shot and wounded and another five suffered other injuries, the navy said. In addition to the nine Turkish dead, 24 activists were hurt, many of them by gunfire.

“You acted against those who came to kill you and tried to kill you,” said Netanyahu. “There is no one better than you. I salute you.”

He then met some of the commandos who took part in the raid, shaking their hands on a prow-shaped veranda overlooking the craggy bay at their Atlit base. They were shadowed by bodyguards and, out to sea, a squad of commandos in a speed boat.

Bristling at Turkish and other foreign fury over the Mavi Marmara raid yet wary of international war crimes suits, Israel set up its own inquiry to help prepare its submission for a separate probe under U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.

Interim findings from that inquest, under retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, are due out in mid-November and the final report by early 2011, a spokesman said. Another internal investigation by an Israeli ex-general is already complete.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and cancelled joint military exercises in protest at the Mavi Marmara raid and has dismissed the Israeli inquiries as insufficient.





Hi All,

Gideon Spiro hits the nail on the head above.  When the word ‘security’ is uttered in court, the judges jump to attention at the service of the military and the Shin Bet—not only in the Vanunu case, but in general.  When ‘security’ is claimed by the military or Shin Bet, then the defendant and his/her lawyers can be denied knowing the evidence against the client and even knowing the charges brought against the person. 

Doors can be closed so that the only persons present are the judge and the prosecuting lawyers and their ‘witnesses.’  Then the wheels of non-justice turn, and an accused can be stuffed into an isolation chamber or other cell for years on end, never knowing what it is that he/she has been accused of.  Nice.  If you wish to learn more about Administrative Detention, see B’tselem

Tonight’s 6 items are a very mixed bag.  They begin with a positive move, Desmond Tutu’s call to a South African opera company that is scheduled to perform Porgy and Bass in Israel, to not come to Israel until racism ends.  His call gives way in 2 to a fascist bill—another one–on the way to becoming law. 

The 3rd item relates the experience of American converts to Judaism who had hoped to live and raise their children in a Jewish state, but who happen to have one physical ‘deformity’ according to Israeli standards: the color of their skin; it is not white.  Ethiopians can confirm the racist attitudes and conduct of Israelis.  The Law of return is for White Ashkenazi Jews only, and of course then only when they are ‘loyal’ to the state. 

Item 4 reports that lawyers have established a Flotilla Justice Group, item 5 is Gideon Spiro’s longish tirade against the Israeli courts with respect to the Mordechai Vanunu case and in general when security is supposedly an issue. 

Item 6 is a longish nostalgic review of past and present Palestinian action in righting their case, “Palestine—Lament for a Just Revolution.’

All the best,



1.  Jerusalem Post,

October 26, 2010   

Desmond Tutu urges S. African opera not to tour Israel 

Nobel laureate says by bringing int’l artists to perform, TA Opera House “advances Israel’s fallacious claim to being a ‘civilized democracy.'”



JOHANNESBURG — Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who earned a Nobel Prize for his peaceful opposition to apartheid, urged Cape Town’s renowned opera troupe not to tour Israel until what he called, “discrimination,” ends there on Tuesday.

In a statement, Tutu compared the Cape Town Opera’s planned visit next month to international artists performing in apartheid South Africa, when it was “a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity.”


Robinson, Carter encourage non-violent Hamas

South African university rejects boycott of Israel

“Cape Town Opera should postpone its proposed tour next month until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances,” he said.

He added it would be “unconscionable” to perform “Porgy and Bess,” which he says has a “universal message of nondiscrimination.”

Tutu charged that by bringing international artists to perform, the Tel Aviv Opera House “advances Israel’s fallacious claim to being a ‘civilized democracy.'”

Hanna Munitz, the Israeli Opera’s general director, responded in a statement, saying that her house and Cape Town Opera were apolitical.

“The agenda is culture and art, and definitely not politics,” Munitz said. “Both houses relate to culture as a bridge, the aim of which is to be above any political dispute. Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that very big performance companies arrive in Israel from abroad all the time.”

Tutu has long been a sharp critic of Israel. Last month, he backed calls for a South African academic boycott of Israel.

Tutu retired earlier this month, saying he wanted to travel less and spend more time with his family. He did not, though, say he would stop speaking out on issues he has championed. 


2.  Haaretz Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shin Bet supports revoking citizenship of Israelis convicted of terror

Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s proposal has been presented as a method of deterring potential criminals from embarking on terrorist activities, seen as targeting Israeli Arabs in particular.

By Jonathan Lis

The Shin Bet security service support revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of terror crimes, it emerged Tuesday during a Knesset debate on a proposal seen as targeting Israeli Arabs.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s proposal suggests giving the court or administrative authorities the right to revoke Israeli citizenship from dual citizens convicted of loyalty-related offenses. For people who have no other citizenship, the law would grant status equivalent to what Israel grants foreign workers.

The Shin Bet’s legal adviser said during deliberations on Tuesday that indeed “such authority must be put in the hands of the court, in one way or another.”

Yishai’s bill has been presented as a method of deterring potential criminals from embarking on terrorist activities. He submitted the proposal on October 11, a day after the cabinet approved a controversial amendment to the citizenship law, which would require non-Jews seeking citizenship to declare loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

“Declarations and oaths are not sufficient when dealing with cases such as Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi,” Yishai said following the cabinet approval, referring to two Arab Knesset members.

Bishara was accused of treason and fled abroad; Zoabi, a current Knesset member, participated in the Turkish flotilla to break the Gaza blockade in May.

“Anyone who betrays the state will lose his citizenship,” said Yishai.

A similar law, sponsored by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ), was introduced in the Knesset a few months ago.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said it had anticipated Yishai’s proposal.

“The revocation of citizenship on grounds of disloyalty is characteristic of shady, totalitarian regimes; in fact, it was commonly used by the Soviet regime,” said Dan Yakir, the association’s legal council. “The accepted view in democratic countries nowadays is that ‘disloyalty’ cannot serve as a pretext for annulling citizenship.”


3. October 26, 2010 Tuesday 18 Heshvan 5771

US converts accuse immigration inspectors of assault



Family claims officers beat man, kicked pregnant wife in stomach in their Ashkelon home; spokeswoman says family lying, officers were attacked. 

A family of African American converts on Wednesday accused immigration inspectors of assaulting them in their house in Ashkelon, during an arrest that took place Tuesday evening.

Sean Garret, who arrived with his wife’s family in Israel from Kansas City in July, said they came to Israel in order to live a full Jewish life after completing their Conservative conversion.

Charging that one officer kicked his pregnant wife in the stomach, and that others beat him, he expressed amazement and dismay that state officials had treated them so badly.

The Population Immigration and Borders Authority spokeswoman said in response that it was the officers, from the Oz unit, who were attacked, and she described the family as “impudent liars.”

According to Garret, he and his family – his wife, one-year-old daughter, mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law – were sitting in their rented apartment in Ashkelon on Tuesday evening when they heard knocks at the door. When his mother in law, Trina Woodcox, went to open it, she was met by two immigration officers who entered the house and demanded to see everyone’s passports.

Garrett said that they provided the officers with their documents, and the officers began making phone calls to their base office. Once the calls were completed, Garret said that the officers told them that everybody checked out except for Woodcox and Garrett himself, and demanded the two come with them to the headquarters in Beersheba, claiming they were illegal residents.

“I was in the bathroom trying to give my daughter a bath when the officers barged in and attempted to grab hold of me and pull me out. They then started asking to see all sorts of documents like marriage licenses and birth certificates,” said Garrett.

According to Garret, the officers physically escorted Garrett and Woodcox downstairs to a van parked in front of the building and shoved them into the vehicle.

“At first they pushed my mother- in-law into the car roughly, pulling her hair and dragging her by force. When I tried to get them off her, two guys grabbed me and one officer started taking swings at my wife, who is pregnant and was carrying our daughter in her arms.”

Arrett said that one officer kicked his wife in the stomach while another one slammed him into the car and placed handcuffs on his wrist.

“They put the handcuffs on me extra tight, causing me deep cuts and bruises. They then tied me to the seat with the handcuffs and began beating me,” said Garrett.

Woodcox was left behind and the officers headed to the headquarters with Garrett. On the way to Beersheba, the officers stopped at the Ashkelon police station to file a complaint against Garrett for assault, while he remained handcuffed in the van for half-an-hour.

“During the whole ride, the officers took turns beating me and swearing at me. One of them called me a mother f–––er and a f–––ing nigger.”

At the police station two additional officers entered the van, which then made its way to Beersheba.

According to Garrett, after an hour at the headquarters, his case was cleared up, the authorities realized that they had made a mistake and he was driven back home.

“Nobody apologized or offered an explanation. They just told me I was okay and sent me away.

This isn’t going to make us leave or sour us on Israel. We came here because we wanted to live a full Jewish life. I’m just amazed that we went through all that because of a misunderstanding.”

The officers’ version, described by PIBA spokeswoman Sabine Hadad, was very different.

According to Hadad, the officers saw the two brothers-in-law, young men in their early twenties, outside the building and asked to see their documents.

She said the two took the officers up to the apartment. The officers asked to see their passports and discovered that they were residing in Israel on an invalid visa.

“Claiming that the officers attacked them is simply ridiculous.

It was they who attacked our guys, resulting in injuries to two of our officers. One of the men has a criminal record both here and in the United States. The Ashkelon police also didn’t believe them and refused to accept their complaint at the station when they tried to file on Wednesday morning,” said Hadad.

According to Hadad, the family’s legal status is currently being investigated by the Ministry of Interior to see if their conversion is valid. “They are not entitled to immigrate by virtue of the Law of Return,” she said. “All converts must be approved in Israel. Right now they are American foreign nationals who are waiting for approval.”

Hadad said that the Oz unit would not take the event sitting down and that there is a limit to what foreign nationals can do to Israeli officials. “They don’t deserve to be given a platform.

They are impudent. What do you think would happen to me if I attacked a US immigration official over there?” she asked.

According to Nicole Maor, legal counsel for the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement, the family made two attempts to file complaints against the inspectors at the Ashkelon police station, and was twice denied.

“That in itself is unheard of.

Fine, they can say they don’t believe them, but to refuse to accept a complaint is outrageous,” she said in a phone interview.

She said that it was impossible to begin legal proceedings before filing a complaint and that she hoped the family would be able to do so as soon as possible.

“I am currently collecting photos and compiling testimonies from the family members and neighbors,” said Maor.

Meanwhile, the Masorti (Conservative) Movement has written a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, demanding that they investigate the event and bring to justice the “violent officers.”

“The family decided to immigrate to Israel and is active in the Netsach Israel congregation in Ashkelon. Their dream is to live a full Jewish life here in Israel,” the letter stated. “However, their skin color is not white, but black.”

“That was enough to cause the immigration police to come unannounced to their home in the night and confront the family, including the grandmother, the pregnant woman and the baby, with relentless violence, only later to discover that it was a mistake,” contends the letter, written by the executive director of the Masorti Movement, Yizhar Hess.

“Instead of embracing this family with warmth, the State of Israel abused them twice. It both doubted the family’s Judaism because they converted through the Conservative system, and it has raised its hand against them just because it is easy to do so against someone whose skin is not white,” wrote Hess.


October 26, 2010 Tuesday 18 Heshvan 5771

 Photo by: Courtesy

 Jewish world embraces family reportedly beaten by Oz unit



In light of alleged attack on Woodcox family, foreign workers group calls on gov’t to look into excessive force by immigration inspectors.  

Support from all over the Jewish world has been pouring in to the Woodcox household in Ashkelon, following the attack that the family allegedly suffered at the hands of Oz immigration inspectors last week.

Oz officials, on the other hand, insist that their inspectors were the ones who were assaulted.

The family’s former congregation, B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park, Kansas, a Reform synagogue, has raised upwards of $3,600 in three days to help the Woodcoxes. The family is living in poverty, and Jews from across the globe have called and written to express solidarity with it and voice their outrage at the alleged actions of the immigration unit’s inspectors.

The Kansas congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, sent an urgent letter to all his congregants on Sunday in which he briefly outlined the details of the case and urged them to show support.

“Many of you know Michael and Trina Woodcox, and their children. For those of you who don’t, the Woodcox family is African-American, came to us a few years ago seeking to learn more about Judaism. Despite living far from our building and despite the ridicule and confusion others in the black community expressed over their embracing of Judaism, they formally chose to become Jewish,” the letter read.

Nemitoff went on to describe last Tuesday’s incident, in which violence broke out between the family and the inspectors, resulting in bruises to nearly all the family members, including a woman seven month’s pregnant and a one-year-old child, and to two inspectors.

“Suffice it to say that the family is physically and emotionally bruised and battered. And it seems as though this all occurred because this wonderful Jewish family – who only wants to live in Israel in peace – was of a skin color that some found offensive,” continued the letter.

The Woodcox family, comprising seven people, is waiting for their petition for citizenship under the Law of Return to be authorized by the Interior Ministry. A ministry spokeswoman said the family’s legal status is being investigated by to see if their conversion is valid.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Trina Woodcox said she had received the money sent to the family from the congregation in Kansas and was continually receiving letters and phone calls from supporters.

The conservative congregation in Ashkelon, Kehillat Netzach Israel, has provided the family with warm meals and prayers.

“We attended Shabbat services at the synagogue and were overwhelmed by the expressions of love and support we received,” Woodcox said. “It is important to me to say to all the well-wishers that this experience has not shaken our faith in Judaism. The outpouring of love has only increased our faith.”

What the family has yet to receive is any formal response from the state regarding their complaint about the confrontation.

“We haven’t heard anything from the police or the Ministry of Interior since the incident took place. The only ones we’ve heard from is the United States Embassy, who wrote to me asking if we wanted their assistance,” Woodcox said.

“I’m not sure what the embassy can do, but if they can help make sure that the offending officers are brought to justice, that is all we can hope for.”

The family’s lawyer, Nicole Maor of the Israel Religious Action Center, said she sent out a formal letter, including hospital reports and witness testimonies, to all of the relevant authorities, but had yet to hear back from them.

In her letter to the Interior Ministry, Maor asked that the family’s immigration process be expedited in light of the incident and given the family’s difficult financial state, but had received no response to that request, either.

An Ashkelon police spokeswoman told the Post that the case was under investigation.

In light of the alleged attack on the Woodcox family, a foreign workers advocacy group, the Migrant Workers Hotline, has called on government agencies, including the civil service commissioner, the interior minister and the head of the Oz unit, to look into excessive use of force by Oz inspectors.

“The Migrant Workers Hotline has fielded four complaints of unreasonable use of force by Oz inspectors against foreign workers and asylumseekers over the last three months,” the group’s spokeswoman said. “All the attacks took place during routine document inspections and in at least two of the cases, the violence continued even after the people had been handcuffed.”

The NGO also raised concerns that there is no body in Israel authorized to oversee the activities of Oz inspectors.

“The unit functions without the oversight of any body that can inspect their behavior, criticize their actions or, if need be, take disciplinary action against them,” the spokeswoman said. “While in cases of police violence there is the Police Investigations Department, an external body that has the authority to investigate excessive use of force by police officers, it’s as if Oz inspectors, who belong to the Interior Ministry, are above the law.

“There is no point person at the Civil Service Commission, the body that formally oversees all government agencies, who is assigned the role and has the authority to investigate Oz inspectors and to whom plaintiffs can be referred,” she added.

“It is an unacceptable state of affairs when foreigners, migrant workers and asylum-seekers find themselves being bounced around from one place to another without having the ability to complain.” 


4.      [forwarded by huwaida arraf ]

Lawyers establish Flotilla Justice Group to coordinate legal action
 on behalf of flotilla victims

[Doha, Qatar, 25 October] International legal experts and lawyers representing victims of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla today announced the establishment of the “Flotilla Justice Group.” The announcement came at the conclusion of a two-day meeting held on 23 and 24 October, aimed at coordinating legal actions to hold Israel accountable for its 31 May 2010 attack on the Freedom Flotilla. The meeting, hosted by the Doha-based Al Fakhoora campaign, brought together 70 representatives from 20 countries, to follow up on work that began at the first lawyers’ meeting held in Istanbul on 15 July.

The international advocacy groups, legal and media experts, and lawyers in attendance met in a number of workshops to devise a comprehensive strategy for national, regional and international legal action, inter-organizational coordination, and media mobilization. “The Flotilla Justice Group” will serve as a coordination mechanism for facilitating communication and the exchange of information between lawyers working on behalf of flotilla victims around the world.

Bettahar Boudjellal, a Qatar-based international human rights expert, said, “Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla breached international, human rights and humanitarian law. Our efforts to unify the legal actions through a designated coordination apparatus will allow us to collectively bring the State of Israel to justice.  More importantly, it will serve as a foundation for responding to Israel’s future violations.”

The conference workshops were led by prominent personalities within the growing movement to end Israel’s strangulation of Gaza as well as its persistent human rights violations throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Participants in the meeting included representatives from the following countries: Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen.

“The creation of the Flotilla Justice Group is a vital step forward on the road to holding Israel accountable for its attack on our flotilla, and their ongoing abuse of the Palestinian people” said the Freedom Flotilla organizers.

Organizations and firms participating in the conference included: the Turkish İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH), the Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End Siege on Gaza (ECESG), Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), the Elmadag Law Firm from Turkey, Mazlumdar — the Turkish Human Rights Association, the UK-based Hickman and Rose law firm, Ship to Gaza – Greece, Ship to Gaza – Sweden, Indonesian Muslims’ Lawyer Team, the Muslim Lawyers Association of South Africa, and others.


 Fakhoora is an international campaign which aims to secure the freedom to learn for Palestinian students in Gaza and the West Bank. The campaign is named after a United Nations girls’ prep school in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp that was the scene of an attack by Israeli tank shells on January 6, 2009.


5.        RSS Feeds

      The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil,    but because of the people who don’t do anything about it        

Occupation magazine – Commentary

Red Rag: Letter to the judges of the Supreme Court after the rejection of Mordechai Vanunu’s appeal

By: Gideon Spiro

21 October 2010

Judicial wickedness and imperviousness

21 October 2010

To the honourable Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut, Hanan Meltzer

Judges of the Supreme Court,

Hakirya, Jerusalem

On 11 October 2010 you ruled on the appeal of Mordechai Vanunu for the lifting of the restrictions that have been imposed on him. As long as they are in effect, he is not a free man. Six years after he was released from the prison where he was incarcerated for 18 years, of which 12 years were in solitary confinement, the ISA (Shabak – Shin Bet) and the head of security at the Defence Ministry are still digging their fangs into Vanunu and sucking his blood like vampires while whispering into his ear: “Express remorse, admit that you made a mistake,” and he has not submitted. He remains at peace with himself, his actions and his conscience: against nuclear arms and for the right of the public to know the scale of the holocaust that the government is cooking up behind the walls of the nuclear reactor at Dimona.

The ritual has been repeated every year since his release from prison in April 2004: an appeal to the High Court of Justice for the lifting of the restrictions according to which he is forbidden to leave Israel, to move freely and to talk to tourists. The ISA and the Defence Ministry security chief feed the judges secret information to the effect that Vanunu is concealing in his brain details that has not yet revealed, and for that reason he represents a danger. The judges adopt the position of the ISA and the Defence Ministry security chief, even though the testimony of nuclear experts from Israel and abroad has proven and still proves that Vanunu cannot possibly be in possession of any secret information, that all he knew on nuclear matters he disclosed to the British weekly Sunday Times in 1986.

This year too the spectacle has been repeated. Vanunu’s lawyers make their case, the State representative replies, then comes the shameful part in which you receive secret information, and after that a closed session is held in the presence of representatives of the ISA and the Defence Ministry security chief, Vanunu and his lawyers being obliged to leave the room. They cannot fulfill their role of examining and challenging the secret information. I believe that if the ISA and the Defence Ministry security chief were questioned by Vanunu’s lawyers, Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard, it would emerge that most if not all of that secret information is based on lies, rumours, informers and provocations (for example, an ISA agent dresses up like a tourist and asks Vanunu whether Israel has nuclear weapons, and other such corrupt methods).

You are behaving like attentive employees of the security services, as is the practice in tyrannical regimes. Their representatives sat in the courtroom and made sure that you did not deviate to the right or to the left and that you would play your roles according to their plans, and that is what happened. You were not satisfied until you could publish your ruling on 13 October, Mordechai Vanunu’s birthday. That is no coincidence, but rather a deliberate act that was done at the dictates of the security services. Their thirst for revenge is unquenchable. They fed you every possible detail, and you played your part willingly. That is how simpletons lacking in understanding behave, not judges [1] who consider themselves enlightened. Such wickedness and imperviousness are intended to rub more salt into the wounds.

I assume that you are not stupid – that you know that after 24 years during which Mordechai Vanunu has not been inside the reactor at Dimona, he constitutes absolutely no security threat. Moreover, as one who is in contact with Mordechai Vanunu, and meets with him frequently, I have not learned from him any detail whatsoever, even the most trivial, about Israel’s nuclear activities.

On the contrary, from sources on Internet websites and international newspapers, most of which is reproduced in the Israeli media, I was in possession of information on Israel’s nuclear armament that was concealed from Vanunu during his time in prison. Vanunu learned more from me than I learned from him. Zvi Tal, who was the judge at the Jerusalem District Court who sentenced Vanunu to 18 years in prison, and later became a judge on the Supreme Court, wrote in his book Until the Sunrise that was published not long ago, that “it is hard to understand what this technician could reveal that he has not already revealed.” 

It seems that in the “Jewish Republic of Israel” you are acting as if you were in the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” and tremble like leaves in the wind when confronted by the security services. Judicial independence, which you praise to the skies in official publications, is buried as if it had never existed when you sit opposite the representatives of the ISA and the Defence Ministry security chief. The prestige that is enjoyed by Supreme Court judges when they sit as judges in the High Court of Justice is exposed as a fraud when you deliberate on security matters. Justice dissipates and instead of breathing the rarefied air of adherence to the principles of human rights, you sink into the stinking swamp of a base court characterized by submissiveness and squalour.

Recently Vanunu received the news that the International League for Human Rights in Berlin chose him as the recipient of the Carl von Ossietzky human rights medal for 2010. It is one of the most prestigious prizes in the realm of human rights in Europe in general and in Germany in particular. For those of you who do not know who Carl von Ossietzky was, here are some details taken from Wikipedia:

Carl von Ossietzky was a German journalist and pacifist, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

In the still-democratic Weimar Republic, Carl von Ossietzky was arrested, put on trial and imprisoned for an infraction similar to that of which Vanunu was convicted 60 years later. In 1929 Carl von Ossietzky published information in his newspaper about the fact that Germany was establishing an air force in collaboration with the Soviet Union in contravention of the Versailles Treaty. In 1931 he was put on trial for treason, convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison (Weimar Germany, which was on the verge of the transition to the Nazi regime, still showed itself to be relatively civilized compared to the State of Israel that sentenced Vanunu to 18 years).

Over the years Ossietzky warned about Adolf Hitler. With the rise of the Nazis to power in January 1933 Ossietzky continued to speak out and expressed opposition to the new regime. After the burning of the Reichstag on 28 February 1933, he was arrested again, and kept at first in the Spandau prison, and afterwards sent to the Esterwegen concentration camp near Oldenburg, and then to other camps.

Carl von Ossietzky was declared the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 1935. The Nazis could not prevent the giving of the prize, but they did not release Ossietzky, who was hospitalized due to abuses he had experienced in the concentration camp. From his sickbed Ossietzky succeeded in smuggling an announcement that he accepted the prize, despite the threat that such an action would lead to his being removed from the “German national community” (Deutsche Volksgemeinschaft).

In May 1936 he was sent to a police hospital near Berlin due to a serious case of tuberculosis that he had contracted. He spent the last months of his life there. He died on 4 May 1938, while still in the hospital, in detention, from complications of tuberculosis related to the harsh conditions of his incarceration. The university at Oldenburg is named after him. 

The Carl von Ossietzky medal has been awarded since 1962.

Among the dozens of recipients of the medal are the writers Gnter Grass and Heinrich Bצll, recipients of the Nobel Prize for literature; the Reverend Heinrich Gruber, who rescued Jews during the Nazi regime until he was arrested in 1940 and sent to the Dachau concentration camp, and who later continued to help Jews who remained in Germany after the Second World War; Lea Rosh, the moving spirit behind the creation of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin; the writer Gnter Wallraff, who exposed the Nazis who were embedded in German political and economic life; the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire; Hans Koschnick, a German politician from the Social Democratic Party, who was a member of the Bundestag, the mayor of Bremen and from 1994 to 1996 an emissary of the European Community in Bosnia, and who in 1998 received an honourary doctorate from the University of Haifa for his contribution to society; the Reverend Martin Niemצller, a human rights activist who struggled against Nazism, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1937 and jailed in the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps until he was freed by the Allies in 1945.

Reverend Niemצller was the author of the well-known quotation: “In Germany the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Communist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a member of a trade union; then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out, because I was Protestant; and then they came for me, and there was nobody left to speak out for me.”

To that illustrious list is now added Mordechai Vanunu.

The award ceremony will take place in December in Berlin. But Mordechai Vanunu will not be able to travel to receive the medal, because of the ban, imposed with your approval, on his leaving the country. You are thereby entering into the company of Nazi Germany, which prevented the departure of Carl von Ossietzky in 1935; the Soviet Union, which prevented the departure of Andrei Sakharov to recieve his Nobel Peace Prize in 1975; Communist China, which has barred the departure of the human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010, who is now serving an 11-year sentence for writing a manifesto calling for freedom of expression. I would remind you that Mordechai Vanunu was abducted, tried (a fixed trial behind closed doors) and imprisoned by Israel because he availed himself of the democratic right of freedom of expression, and because he realized the public’s right to know.

You are a link in a chain of judicial travesties that transcends regimes and national borders. You will not be absolved of that.

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s note

1. This sentence contains a pun in Hebrew: “simpletons” is “shotim,” and “judges” is “shoftim.”

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent 


6.  [Forwarded by David McReynolds

October 26, 2010]

Palestine: Lament for the Revolution

London Review of Books

October 21, 2010


Lament for the Revolution

by Karma Nabulsi

Nowadays, when Palestinian activists in their twenties and thirties
meet up with veterans of the Palestinian struggle, they show an
unexpected thoughtfulness towards the older, revolutionary generation,
to which I belong. This is nothing like the courtesy extended as a
matter of course to older people in our part of the world: it is more
intimate and more poignant. What brings us together is always the need
to discuss the options before us, and to see if a plan can be made.
Everyone argues, laughs, shouts and tells black jokes. But whenever a
proper discussion begins, the suddenly lowered voices of our
frustrated young people, many of them at the heart of the fierce
protests on university campuses and in rights campaigns elsewhere,
have the same tone I used to hear in the voices of our young ambulance
workers in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s: an elegiac gentleness
towards the hopelessly wounded, towards those who were already beyond

The way Palestinians see things, the fragmentation of the body politic
– externally engineered, and increasingly internally driven – has now
been achieved. This summer, even the liberal Israeli press began to
notice that the key people in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s
capital in the West Bank, no longer discuss strategies of liberation
but rather the huge business deals that prey on the public
imagination. Every institution or overarching structure that once
united Palestinians has now crumbled and been swept away. The gulf
between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah, between
Palestinians inside Palestine and the millions of refugees outside it,
between city and village, town and refugee camp, now seems
unbridgeable. The elites are tiny and the numbers of the dispossessed
and the disenfranchised increase every day. There is, at this moment,
no single body able to claim legitimately to represent all
Palestinians; no body able to set out a collective policy or national
programme of liberation. There is no plan.

The feeling of paralysis doesn’t only affect the Palestinians. It is
found too among the hundreds of international institutions and less
formal groups involved in the thriving carpet-bagging industry of the
Middle East Peace Process. The US, the UN, the EU, their special
envoys and fact-finding commissions, their human rights monitors,
lawyers and NGOs, the policy think tanks, the growing legion of
international humanitarian agencies, the dialogue groups and peace
groups, all came to the same conclusion shortly after the start of the
second Intifada in the autumn of 2000. Over the last decade, these
bodies have produced thousands of institutional memos, governmental
reports, official démarches, human rights briefings, summaries,
analyses, legal inquiries into war crimes and human rights abuses,
academic books and articles. And they have pretty much nailed it:
Palestinians are enduring the entrenched effects not only of a
military occupation, but of a colonial regime that practises

The predicament is understood and widely accepted, yet Palestinians
and non-Palestinians appear equally baffled. Protest and denunciation
have achieved very little. How are we to respond in a way that will
allow us to prevail? The vocabulary required to form a policy is
entirely absent both nationally and internationally. Palestinians are
currently trapped in a historical moment that – as the contemporary
world sees it – belongs to the past. The language the situation
demands had life only inside an ideology which has now disappeared.

Everyone else has moved on. In a world whose intellectual framework is
derived from university courses in postcolonial or cultural studies,
from the discourse of post-nationalism, or human rights, or global
governance, from post-conflict and security literature, the
Palestinians are stuck fast in historical amber. They can’t move on,
and the language that could assist them to do so is as extinct as
Aramaic. No one cares any longer for talk of liberation: in fact,
people flinch at the sound of it – it is unfashionable, embarrassing,
reactionary even to speak of revolution today. Twenty-first-century
eyes read revolutionary engagement as the first stage on the road to
the guillotine or the Gulag. Advanced now well beyond the epic and
heroic stages of its history, the West views its own revolutionary
roots through the decadent backward gaze of Carl Schmitt. Seen through
that prism, Palestinians remain stubbornly – one could almost say,
wilfully – in the anti-colonial, revolutionary phase of their history.

So the questions debated by Palestinians are the same now as they ever
were: how to organise, how to mobilise, how to unify? There remains a
constant sense of emergency, but Palestinians with long memories agree
that we are at a nadir in our history of resistance. The only sign of
forward movement lies in the tide of revulsion at Israel’s belligerent
policies, which Palestinian civil society organisations have
channelled into a vivid and well-organised campaign of solidarity
through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Exactly 50 years ago, Palestinians were at a similar stage of social
and political fragmentation brought about by defeat and dispossession
and the anomie that followed the Nakba of 1948. Without a country or
the protection of a sovereign state, they were confronting, on the one
hand, Israel, and on the other, sundry Arab regimes: between them they
controlled every aspect of Palestinians’ social and civic lives as
well as their physical space. They lived deep in the dust and disease
of tent cities, without personal papers or property. In 1955, a young
Palestinian writer, Ghassan Kanafani, moved to Kuwait from Syria,
where he had been a teacher at a school set up for refugees by the UN,
after himself being expelled from Palestine with his family in 1948.
One of his people’s most perceptive chroniclers, he described their
mood in his diary: ‘The only thing we know is that tomorrow will be no
better than today, and that we are waiting on the shore, yearning, for
a boat that will not come. We are sentenced to be separated from
everything – except from our own destruction.’

But what appeared to Kanafani to be the collective end was in fact its
extraordinary beginning. By the end of the decade, the revolution had
found a language and a form. For the first time in a century of
rebellions and uprisings against foreign rule, Palestinians could
mount a collective challenge to international, Israeli and Arab
coercion, and unify sufficiently to represent themselves. Even a
cursory study of the history of revolutions over the last 300 years
reveals three elements essential to their origins. First, a plethora
of revolutionary pamphlets, declarations and discussions issuing from
different factions together begin to shape a shared understanding of
the injustices that have to be overturned. A call to arms requires a
convincing appraisal of the balance of forces if enough people are to
be persuaded to embark on such a risky enterprise. The history of
Palestinian attempts to achieve freedom would give anyone pause: two
generations who tried lie buried in the cemeteries of more than two
dozen countries.

Second, it is revolutionaries who make revolutions, and not the other
way around. During the national mobilisation of the 1960s and 1970s,
some joined the party, others the movement, but most simply joined the
Palestinian revolution. It was taken for granted that one belonged to
one of the parties, which were themselves embedded in the broader
national liberation movement under the umbrella of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation, a formal institution set up in 1964 by Arab
states, which was captured from the Palestinian elite by the
resistance groups a few years later. Empowered by becoming part of a
fast-moving popular revolution, Palestinians – exiled, scattered and
defeated as they were – achieved the two elusive things they have
constantly sought: representation and unity.

If you raise the painful subject of this earlier time among
Palestinians today, the usual effect is to revive the over-theoretical
debate about when exactly the revolution died. (A discussion of its
strengths and weaknesses would be more useful.) Some say it ended
after Black September in Jordan in 1970; others that it ended in 1975
at the start of the Lebanese civil war. The majority see Israel’s
invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which brought about the comprehensive
destruction of the PLO’s infrastructure, as having killed it off. The
communiqués and declarations issued during the first Intifada, which
took place in the occupied Palestinian territories between 1987 and
1993, were expressed in the language of revolution, but everyone
agrees that it was all over by 1991, when the Madrid peace process was
accepted on such unequal terms. That entire period of Palestinian
history has fallen into disrepute for a number of reasons – not least
having to watch its ghoulish remains driving around in official cars
in Ramallah or posing at the White House – so the benefits are never
assessed, or potentially useful lessons drawn.

Unity and representation are the common goods Palestinians must
realise in order to advance their cause, and these clearly can’t be
achieved via any of the options currently being suggested to us: not
the distribution of the PA’s power between Hamas and Fatah (since the
only representative institutional structure for all Palestinians is
the Palestinian National Council, the parliament-in-exile of the PLO);
not a US-sponsored peace process; and not the plan for Palestinian
statehood proposed by the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, according to
which the institutions of an independent state will be built in the
face of a still expanding military occupation. Already by the 1970s,
thanks to its fluid institutional architecture, the revolution was
able to overcome national borders, protect its independence from the
Arab regimes and convey its demands to the solidarity movements who
supported it and exerted pressure on its behalf. Other national
liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s – the FLN, ANC, Swapo, the
Sandinistas – had to operate with their leaders underground and in
exile, developing their strategy outside the country while the
population remained rooted in the land they hoped to liberate. For
Palestinians, whose national politics were undone in an instant over a
single year in 1948, it took the concerted actions of tens of
thousands of cadres across the region to hold the people together
while at the same time putting sufficient pressure on those
governments, both Western and Arab, that would have preferred to see
us capitulate to Israel. The mood of that short period, as I remember
it, was profoundly popular and democratic: pluralist, multi-party,
universalist, secular and highly progressive. Palestinians who dared
not join in – businessmen, academics, the money-grubbing classes –
were carried along in its wake, and obeyed its mandate. Today we could
not be further from that fleeting moment of unity the revolution once

The experience of revolutionary life is difficult to describe. It is
as much metaphysical as imaginative, combining urgency,
purposefulness, seriousness and hard work, with a near celebratory
sense of adventure and overriding optimism – a sort of carnival
atmosphere of citizens’ rule. Key to its success is that this
heightened state is consciously and collectively maintained by tens of
thousands of people at the same time. If you get tired for a few hours
or days, you know others are holding the ring.

The third, counterintuitive feature of revolutions is that they are
usually launched by astonishingly small groups of individuals. The
Palestinian revolution was no exception. Young Palestinians today,
caught in the grind of their daily struggle, feel unable to make
contact with their own past: its stories are like fairytales, out of
their reach. The appropriate model for the emergence of the
Palestinian movement of the 1960s and 1970s isn’t the Leninist
vanguard party but the revolutions that established democracies in
19th-century Europe, where the acts of a few were matched, and then
rapidly overtaken, by an entire nation, all of whose members
considered themselves leaders. No one here waits around for

What usually goes unmentioned in the history books is the dangerous
and seemingly interminable slog that is required to build up to any
revolution’s launch: it may take years, even decades, once the match
is lit, for it to ignite a mobilisation large enough to create a truly
national initiative.

One of the individuals who still keeps the revolutionary spirit alive
in these bleak times phoned me this week, and this time I rang him
back. (Often I can’t face talking to him because his situation is so
terrible.) Ziyad was a key activist in the first Intifada when he was
a student at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, and for the last 20
years he has dedicated his life in Gaza to what is commonly known as
‘mobilising from below’. Ziyad is, or was, head of the Rafah refugee
camp’s popular committee, the local elected body, legendary now for
its history of civic resistance to Israeli rule. Ziyad is like an
artist, restlessly exploring ways to preserve people’s humanity amid
the oppression and misery of southern Gaza. His cool eye and steady
nerve, together with a seemingly inexhaustible affection for others,
have kept him from turning away in despair at the things he has seen.
At the height of the war on Gaza, he managed to create and sustain the
only committee that included all the factions, with Fatah members
working alongside Hamas, or vice versa. Members of other committees
that had previously tried this (including his own) had been kneecapped
for their pains.

Ziyad spent much of last year in prison in Gaza, and, as it turned out
when I returned his call, some of this year’s Ramadan as well. ‘Oh
no!’ I said, ‘What happened this time?’ He said that he’d been trying
to organise in the elementary schools. This struck me as one of the
funniest things I had heard in a long time: Ziyad laughed, too, when
he began telling me about it. He had tried to organise a prize-giving
in the camp for some of the students, but the current administration
in Gaza didn’t like the idea at all. ‘I am not selecting children from
Hamas families or Fatah families,’ he said, ‘just those who had done
well in school. I had to try something!’

What the administration in Gaza does not like, Ziyad said, is the idea
of movement, of freedom, of opening things up from below, of bringing
people together for any common purpose at all. I told him I had spoken
to Adnan in Beirut only that morning, and that the story was no
different there: Adnan has been forced to stay at home for months now,
unable to move. Until last year, he had worked closely with another
old friend of mine, Kamal Medhat, a child of the revolution who was
not so different from Ziyad in his determination to go it alone while
carrying everyone with him.

Just over a year ago Kamal was assassinated by a car bomb in south
Lebanon. He had been trying to urge people forward towards national
unity, and to attack the political corruption then entrenched in the
refugee camps: these two objectives, it soon became clear, were
intertwined. He was making a very successful job of it, for he brought
formidable experience to the task. Already a legend as a young man,
Kamal was responsible for, among many other things, the security of
the leadership when the revolution was centred in Beirut, and attempts
against it took place on an almost daily basis. An obituary in the
Arab press noted that ‘he constantly criticised Arafat, who would
laugh.’ This was true: Kamal could be brutally honest, but he made
everyone in the room feel happy, taking and giving endless orders,
joking, and being especially encouraging to young cadres, though also
quite tough. I witnessed at least a dozen acts of bravery by Kamal in
the 1970s and early 1980s. After the PLO leadership was evacuated to
Tunis in 1982, he returned to Lebanon to help lift the military siege
of the Palestinian refugee camps by the Syrians and their proxies. In
the 1990s, in disagreement with the leadership’s negotiating strategy,
he absented himself from public life, studying for a doctorate in
international law, staying very quiet. We lost track of each other
until a few years ago, when he burst back onto the scene in Lebanon,
unchanged and undefeated, now the second in command at the PLO embassy that had finally been re-established there.

I went to his funeral; we all walked the familiar path to the
Palestinian cemetery, accompanied by thousands of refugees, clapping
and singing and shouting revolutionary slogans. After the 40 days of
mourning I returned to Beirut, where the traditional memorial meeting
was convened at the Unesco palace. The hall was packed with
Palestinians from the refugee camps across Lebanon, and black and
white images of the handsome Kamal at different stages of his life
succeeded one another on a screen behind the stage. Most of the
Palestinian leaders were at an urgent meeting in Amman, and couldn’t
attend. The eerie pockets of silence at various moments throughout the
ceremony were bound up, it seemed to me, with the implications of his
death (don’t organise, don’t push, don’t try to change things for the
better). Something felt as if it was about to give.

His family, with whom I was staying, had asked me to speak about him,
as Kamal had been an early teacher of mine. Afterwards, in the foyer,
a stream of young people came up to me. They wanted me to know exactly
what he had meant to them: ‘Kamal was the only one who spoke up for
us’; ‘Kamal listened to us, he stood with us’; ‘He fought for us’; ‘He
encouraged us.’ One after another, they told me stories of what he
did. Each had recognised his revolutionary spirit, I thought, as I
watched them wander away afterwards into the streets of Beirut.

[Karma Nabulsi, a fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford and tutor in
politics, was a representative of the PLO in Lebanon, Tunis and the

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What Wikileaks should cause; rage at our criminal leaders

25 Oct 2010

Wow. The kind of column that most Western newspapers would never run. But here’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in yesterday’s Independent on the justified and burning rage caused by Wikileaks:

Bad boy Julian Assange, the pretty, blondish founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks was hugely admired when he uncovered oppressors and political chicanery in places like China and Kenya, but now he takes on Western duplicity and crimes. Can’t have that. This spawn of Beelzebub, say our masters, a traitor whose insolence is a crime against the secretive states of the US and UK. Disregard the pique and dyspepsia of officialdom. It is a distraction, smoke from fires deliberately started to stop us seeing what lies before us.

The audacious website first released confidential and candid material on the hellish war in Afghanistan and now opens up a new front, more than 400,000 classified US files documenting the previously untold horrors of the Iraq war. Revealed are countless atrocities and the deaths of 66,000 Iraqi civilians at the hands of US and British soldiers and Iraqi personnel who had joined the allies. Men were burnt, some had parts removed, others were killed slowly; women were shot, children too, killed before they grew. Anything goes, it seems, during a military conflict and no questions are asked. As an Israeli army trainer said, when asked about the death of Rachel Corrie, the young, pro-Palestinian activist mown down by an Israeli tank: “During war there are no civilians”.

The authorities in Iraq did not investigate reports of abuse and killings. An Iraqi friend tells me the rape of girls, women, boys and men was widespread, a tool used both to intimidate and punish. Apparently, there are images from Abu Ghraib prison of these sadistic “punishments”; they were never released because of the feelings they could arouse in Muslim countries. So morally deformed are these men of war that they care more about inconvenient outrage than they do about crimes against the people they supposedly went to save.

They should have heeded the words of Martin Van Creveld, an erudite Israeli war historian who compared the disastrous American Vietnam War with the Iraq adventure: “He who fights the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins, also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel.” By this reasoning, to fight the weak who are not in any sense your enemy is extreme brutishness and totally self-defeating.

Key figures in the British Army and Government must have been privy to this information. They held their tongues and presumably sidestepped any ethical niggles. The Americans were in command and you don’t get to lick the arse of the world’s only superpower and then turn round and kick it. That, you understand, is the pact, the unbreakable deal behind our special relationship.

Manfred Novak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, says Obama’s administration must investigate and come clean – after all, this President vowed to change the image and behaviour of the US which, for too long, has co-operated with tyrants and violated human rights across the world, including in Guantanamo Bay, which is still open and where captured, lost boys became broken men.

Fewer and fewer global citizens now believe the rapturous anthems and sombre panegyrics of God’s own America. After this week, the number will have tumbled further, which, in some ways, is a pity. There is much to praise about the US, its history of perpetual resistance to unacceptable state power, its energy, creativity, business, intellectual and cultural buzz. When such a great nation does great wrong, its mirror is shattered and even if the shards are stuck back together again, the cracks will always remain. And when the custodian of the free world behaves so appallingly, how do we liberal Muslims promote democratic values across the Muslim world?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (sounding like a clone of Condi Rice) slammed the Wikileaks exposé and warned that lives of US civilians and forces and their allies were now in serious danger. At one level, I fear she is right. The internet traffic over the past two days has been so fast, furious and volatile, it could indeed fuel terrorism, recruitment into jihadi cells, even more violence in unstable Iraq, suicide bombers in Afghanistan and ugly attitudes towards the West, home to millions of Muslims.

But keeping the stories hidden was always wrong. Innocent Iraqi people should never have been made to suffer by the allies and even the guilty should have faced due process to prove commitment to justice and decent values. When there was evidence of liberators behaving monstrously, action should have been taken and in the public eye. Clinton must know this, as a lawyer. It is a primary principle of her profession.

I wonder if some staunch supporters of the Iraq war will now think again about the purpose and execution of that illegal and vainglorious expedition. The sanctions and war killed, maimed and destroyed more civilians than Saddam did, even during the most diabolical periods of his rule. Blair, Bush and their armies have never had to face proper, international judicial interrogations.

Now imagine good Muslims worldwide, who know all about universal rights, but can see that there is no universal accountability, that Third World despots are made to pay while others earn millions writing autobiographies and lecturing the world on good leadership and governance. Hundreds of savvy, smart, keenly aware young people email me from various Muslim states asking: “What’s the point? They say one thing and do the opposite. They say they want to help us and kill our people. Why should we trust the British and Americans?”

What do our army commanders and American leaders advise me to tell these disenchanted Muslims? And Mr Blair, I wonder if he has some wise thoughts? He is, they tell me, still one of the greatest prime ministers this country has had. And his wife, the hot human rights lawyer, does she think these abuses her husband just might have known about should be investigated? No answers will be forthcoming. Those who took us into this war are not obliged to explain themselves, not liable. In that they are worse than the dictator they toppled. Not comfortable that thought, but true.


ABC offers nice PR for complicit Israeli car firm Better Place

25 Oct 2010

This is quite an achievement. A story on ABC radio today about Israeli electric car company Better Place that completely ignores any mention of its operations in the occupied, Palestinian territories and involvement of former members of the IDF suspected of war crimes.


Baltzer speaks on Palestinian rights

25 Oct 2010

I spent time last week here in Sydney with visiting American Jewish writer and activist Anna Baltzer, a passionate advocate for the Palestinian cause; quiet, determined and strongly calling for BDS and a one-state solution.

She was interviewed tonight on ABC PM Radio:

MARK COLVIN: It’s only weeks since the launch of the latest round of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they already seem stalled. Israel’s decision to resume full-fledged settlement building in the West Bank brought them to a near halt.

Now the Palestinians have said they’re considering sidestepping Israel by seeking UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American who argues for the Palestinian side of the debate. She’s touring Australia at the moment, speaking at the ANU this evening and addressing Federal MPs tomorrow.

I asked her first whether Israel would ever be able to negotiate with people and states that don’t recognise its right to exist.

ANNA BALTZER: The question about recognising Israel’s right to exist is a very interesting one and one that is oftentimes not given too much context. So, like I said, Israel is not the state of the people who have lived there for generations but very exclusively of the Jewish people, including even me, even if I never go there. But not of Palestinians, most of whom have been removed from the area.

So when you ask a Palestinian person, do you recognise the right for there to be a state on your historic homeland that explicitly excludes you and your children and your people for eternity simply because of your ethnic and religious background? You know if they say I don’t think there’s a right for that, that’s not anti-Semitism.

You know, did the Aboriginals recognise the right for there to be a state that should exclude them? You know they recognised that there was a state created and it should include them, rightfully so, and this question as to Palestinians is really pushing them into a corner and asking them to, not only, you know, see that Israel is discriminating against them but that they’re supposed to recognise Israel’s right to do it.

MARK COLVIN: Israelis believe that the wall has prevented the endless cycle of suicide bombs. Has the wall actually been a positive force?

ANNA BALTZER: I would argue no. It is true that there are fewer suicide bombs now than they were prior to the wall’s construction but that has to do a lot with other factors and one of those main factors is that the construction of the wall correlated with a decision on the part of Hamas, a strategic one, they were transforming from a paramilitary organisation to a political one to prepare for elections and eventually went back to violence.

With the removal of settlers from the Gaza strip, Israel was able to actually seal up the Gaza strip and that is actually where the majority of suicide bombs originated. And so what we’ve seen today is that violent resistance has simply transformed. Now from the Gaza strip instead of suicide bombs, they’re rocket attacks.

The wall around Gaza precisely proves the point that when you sort of choke people more and more and tighten that noose it does not end violence. You really have to look at the roots of the violence to move forward. The wall is a very short-sighted type of institution and it’s very porous. You can get from one end to another.

One anecdote people find interesting is a friend of mine who lives in a refugee camp near Bethlehem and every morning she wakes up at 3.30 in the morning. She goes to the first road block, has to get out of the car, walk around, take a taxi to the next one, walk around, take a settler bus into west Jerusalem where she works a full day as a nurse in a hospital. Does the same thing on the way home.

So she gets through easily. You know she has to change her headscarf from looking like a Muslim to looking like a settler. But if you want to get through, you can get through. It doesn’t prevent the most determined people. It’s simply prevents daily life from being able to go on as usual: people getting to school, hospitals, jobs.

MARK COLVIN: Some people say that if the Palestinian resistance transferred itself into a completely non-violent mode then things would change really radically. What do you think?

ANNA BALTZER: First of all the vast majority of Palestinian resistance is non-violent and it’s good that people are increasingly aware of it and historically speaking has been as well. There’s, you know, civil rights marches, people marching to the wall bearing witness, protesting, carrying freedom signs. It’s actually quite extraordinary to see.

MARK COLVIN: But every time a bunch of teenagers on one of those marches picks up stones and starts throwing them at troops that non-violent image is undermined, isn’t it?

ANNA BALTZER: Absolutely. And of course there is still violence on the part of Palestinians but it is not true, I think, to say that absent that violence you would see something different. Hamas, for example, held to the ceasefire until Israel refused to renew it and that led up to the Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.

There have been multiple chances that Israel has had but those have not been taken advantage of because frankly given my government’s unconditional support of Israel and as well as by the way Australia’s support of Israel. We see, for example, in the newspaper today discussion about Australian parliamentarians being funded in trips to Israel, that sort of allegiance that leaves no room really for the Palestinian narrative and Palestinian human rights.

As long as that happens we’re not going to see the real, really addressing the roots of the violence there today.

MARK COLVIN: So looking forward for the next few years you’re not very hopeful?

ANNA BALTZER: Actually I am hopeful. I am just not hopeful that it will come through the current negotiations where, you know, it’s like a prisoner negotiating with a prison guard, is what we see today. I don’t think that’s going to bear much fruition of peace.

However, if we look at historic models and what’s happening today with the segregated roads in the West Bank and all of different kinds of segregation is that we see a real link to apartheid South Africa and what happened there.

And likewise the struggle against it where people around the world said, you know, if our governments are not going to take a strong stand on this issue and stop the, pouring money into what’s happening, we as citizens of the world are not going to profit off of this anymore as individuals and institutions.

And thus began a campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions which has grown rapidly today, but towards apartheid Israel, to say that until Israel complies with international law we’re not going to treat it like a normal country anymore.

MARK COLVIN: The American-Israeli Palestinian activist, Anna Baltzer, speaking from Canberra.


Saddam taught them well (and we knew)

25 Oct 2010

Let’s face it. Australia and Britain are also likely to have blood on their hands, handing over suspected terrorists (aka insurgents) to Iraqi forces:

Fresh evidence that US soldiers handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad has emerged in army logs published by WikiLeaks.

The 400,000 field reports published by the whistleblowing website at the weekend contain an official account of deliberate threats by a military interrogator to turn his captive over to the Iraqi “Wolf Brigade”.

The interrogator told the prisoner in explicit terms that: “He would be subject to all the pain and agony that the Wolf battalion is known to exact upon its detainees.”


Privatising wars is cosy for all concerned (except dead civilians)

25 Oct 2010

The sickness of relying on private contractors to fight our wars is only getting worse. Western governments can’t get enough of companies operating without direct responsibility to them. What’s a few recorded murders discussed during the annual shareholder meeting?

Pratap Chatterjee writes in the Guardian that the Wikileaks Iraq logs show how out of control the problem has become:

Today, there as many as 40,000 armed private security contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to data collected by Commission on Wartime Contracting staff during the first quarter of 2010.

Some of them are ill-paid ex-soldiers from countries like Sierra Leone who make just $250 a month; others are former US soldiers, who are paid $500 or more per day. These men are often doing the very same jobs that soldiers once did – like guard duty – but with a lot less accountability.

Until quite recently, these men with guns were untouchable: they were protected from any kind of prosecution by Coalition Provisional Authority Order No 17, issued by Paul Bremer, the US diplomat charged with running Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

For example, Andrew J Moonen, a Blackwater employee, who has been accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice-president on 24 December 2006, was spirited out of the country and has never faced charges in Iraq. Nor have the five men accused of opening fire in Nisour Square: Donald Ball, Dustin Laurent Heard, Evan Shawn Liberty Nicholas Abram Slatten and Paul Alvin Slough. Lawsuits in the US have also failed.

Courtesy Wikileaks, we now know that many more deadly shootings have taken place by these unregulated private security contractors than we knew of before. Given this new knowledge, it is time that we demand an inquiry into the privatisation of the military. Right now, the prime facie evidence is that it has considerably increased the number of unnecessary violent incidents, while reducing military discipline and accountability and costing taxpayers a bundle.


Mapping every Iraqi death (officially recorded)

24 Oct 2010


How the MSM loves to smear Assange

24 Oct 2010

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald on the establishment media’s constant and obsessive campaign to discredit Julian Assange. Shooting the messenger is an old tactic but now corporate journalists are joining in:

It’s not hard to see why The New York Times, CNN and so many other establishment media outlets are eager to do that.  Serving the Government’s interests, siding with government and military officials, and attacking government critics is what they do.  That’s their role.  That’s what makes them the “establishment media.”  Beyond that, the last thing they want is renewed recognition of what an evil travesty the attack on Iraq was, given the vital role they know they played in helping to bring it about and sustain it for all those years (that’s the same reason establishment journalists, almost by consensus, opposed any investigations into the Bush crimes they ignored, when they weren’t cheering them on). 

 And by serving as the 2010 version of the White House Plumbers — acting as attack dogs against the Pentagon’s enemies — they undoubtedly buy themselves large amounts of good will with those in power, always their overarching goal.  It is indeed quite significant and revealing that the John Ehrlichmans and Henry Kissingers of today are found at America’s largest media outlets.  Thanks to them, the White House doesn’t even need to employ its own smear artists.


The Wikileaks story step by step

24 Oct 2010

Al-Jazeera comprehensively covers the Wikileaks Iraq dump. The Pentagon, Julian Assange and Iraqi politicians are all canvassed:


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By Jesse  Bacon

When the specifics of Israel’s siege of Gaza came to light, it appeared almost random in its insanity and cruelty. The famous example is the prohibiting of pasta while allowing rice, all the while claiming this was somehow ensuring Israel’s security.

Well wonder no longer. Through the heroic efforts of Gisha, whose work we feature regularly here on The Only Democracy?, the actual policy has been released. It turns out there is a detailed series of charts and formulae that look like someone attempted to translate the lectures of Glenn Beck into public policy. In the driest of terms, it represents a calculus of human misery, equations of despair that add up to the starvation of Gazans and a protracted conflict.

Here is Gisha’s summary of the revealed policy, with my annotations.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction”
The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.
The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction“. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were (page 2).


So, the lower red line is to tell Israel that its policies were working as designed to cause shortages, thus  allowing them to “ignore” the warnings. Even at the upper limit, Israel could keep denying goods if it saw fit to do so. I am reminded of one of those thermometers used to measure  fundraising, only here the goal is deprivation not development.

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents
In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury” (section c.b, page 16).
In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.
These are the source of the infamous regulations on pasta v. rice, and coriander. With a great perversion of cultural sensitivity, the things that Gazans like are to be taken into account and restricted accordingly. International community members, on the other hand, are still able to access their favorite goodies lest they become too vocal in their opposition because of personal inconvenience.
Secret List of Goods
The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!!” (emphasis in original) (section j, page 17), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase.
The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.
Here is the truly Kafkaesque part, Palestinians were not to know what was on the list and what was not, allowing the Israel to act as a vengeful and obscure deity determining what they could eat and build with. Whenever Israel (or the U.S.) government cites “security” , we should substitute the word “embarrassing.” Try it, it works.
Ban on Reconstructing Gaza
Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission (section g, page 16). Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.
Those international organizations may be able to buy their own personal consumer products, but they are not allowed to import goods for Gazans to rebuild after the war. I am reminded of the US-backed, Central American death squads who targetted anyone doing community development work, only in this case the death squads wear suits and sit t desks far away.
Calculation of product inventory
The documents contain a series of formulas created by the Defense Ministry to compute product inventory (pages 8-10). The calculations are presumed to allow COGAT to measure what is called the “length of breath” (section i, page 8). The formula states that if you divide the inventory in the Strip by the daily consumption needs of residents, you will get the number of days it will take for residents of Gaza to run out of that basic product, or in other words, until their “length of breath” will run out.
See the photo below. But don’t allow the fancy graphs to obscure what is going on, which is calculating exactly how much suffering is being inflicted on the people of Gaza.
Although these memos described the policies as of April 2009, we should not hold out too much hope that matters have improved.
According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place“.
gaza siege rules
Richard Silverstein, who also posted the above photo, describes how this policy was actually supposed to be implemented.

The data[on availability of items] will be collected in the economy division, once a week, on Tuesday, and a calculation compiled of products  transferred, then added to existing inventories, and then consumed amounts will be deducted according to the models.

F.# After the calculation is performed, a draft of inventory estimates will be prepared…[and] the following data will be checked:

# 1. Upper level warning – in case inventory of one of the short shelf life products is over 21 days or long shelf life  product inventory is over 80 days.

# 2. Lower level warning – in case inventory of one of the short shelf life products is under 4 days or long shelf life product inventory is under 20 days.

# 3. Shortage – in case inventory of one of the short shelf life products is under 2 days or long shelf life product  inventory is under 5 days.

H. In case inventory of one or more products reached a ‘level of warning,’ the following actions will be taken:

1. Xxxx will verify the information with leading Palestinian merchants.

2. Xxxx will perform mathematical evaluation of the model to verify the data.

3. In case of an upper level warning, the issue will be brought up for discussion and update for a decision on policy of entering the # relevant product.

4.! In case of a lower level warning an update will be transferred, and Gaza DCO will take action to facilitate transferring the relevant product, unless it is an intentional policy of reduction. [ed., italics mine]

5. In case of shortage, the same actions as of ʻlower level warningʻ will be taken. In case it is an intentional policy of  reduction, decision makers will be presented with the consequences of shortage of the relevant product.

One wonders what warning the decision makers would be presented with: would they be warned that preventing entrance of a piece of medical equipment would cause the death of children?  

Or that the categorization of milk, or hummus or any number of staples of the Palestinian diet as “superfluous” might exacerbate the already existent malnutrition among children?  

Or that a shortage of fuel and hence water outages would cause women not to be able to cook properly or families to observe hygienic practices.  What type of discussion do you think happened among the decision makers when they were ‘warned’ about these red lines?


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show details 12:04 (11 minutes ago)
Thank you for your email regarding News Corporation’s proposed take-over of BSkyB.
I am totally opposed to the Murdoch empire extending still further its control over worldwide communications and I am certainly opposed to the proposals to take-over BSkyB.
It will be interesting to see whether Vince Cable is prepared to use his powers to block this deal but I can assure you that myself and other Labour Members of Parliament would very much welcome him doing so.
Kind regards,
Roger Godsiff MP

(M) 07889650544 






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