Archive | August 21st, 2016

Hollywood’s Revenge on Dissident Historian David Irving

By Michael Hoffman | RevisionistHistory

In late September the Zionists will once again advance their cartoon version of history by means of Hollywood, their “court” of first resort. Tinseltown is the ideal venue for projecting fantasies disguised as historical truth and trying and convicting heretics and dissidents. The target in question is English historian David Irving, author of more than 20 best-selling history books and the leading military historian of National Socialist Germany.

In the year 2000 he brought to trial a libel suit in London against Deborah Lipstadt, a dreary thought cop from Emory University in Georgia who has made it her life’s work to dream up a new category of heretic (“Holocaust denier”), reflective of the hysteria and megalomania of the religion of Holocaustianity, of which she is high priestess. The hobby horse of one obscure professor soon became a marching order for the media of the entire western world. The story behind that chilling Orwellian perversity is itself deserving of a book-length study.

Thanks to Deborah, many writers and historians now bear the career-withering “ holocaust denier” stigmata, branded both by new media (Google search engine, Wikipedia) and the senile print media. Imagine if every atheist who was a chemist, astronomer, geographer, novelist or sculptor, who did not believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, would have to endure going through life perpetually branded by the media as a “Resurrection-denier”?

Of course in our modern world one may deny the central tenet of Christendom all one likes. Hollywood director James Cameron lavishly funds the Resurrection denial of Israeli activist Simcha Jacobvici. In the Israeli state there is a tourist trade based on selling maps and taking tours of what the Israelis describe as the tomb where the bones of Jesus rot,  but Cameron and co. bear no contumely for it.

Acting as his own attorney, Irving went it alone against Lipstadt and her team of lawyers and researchers in the masonic courts of injustice, for which Britian is notorious. In spite of a few failings (chiefly in deciding not to call German-American chemist/historian Germar Rudolf as a witness), Irving mounted a magnificent defense against a legal team consisting of lawyers for England’s aristocracy, funded by the bottomless pockets of movie mogul Steven Spielberg, and with the Israeli ambassador seated in the courtoom with his retinue of gun-toting bodyguards — in case the presiding judge didn’t get the message about which way the verdict should go.

Unfortunately, there is no revisionist book about the Irving trial as there is for the show trial of Ernst Zündel in Canada. In the breach, on September 30 Hollywood will tender “Denial,” its mendacious spin on the ignominious Lipstadt, who was so cowardly she hid behind her high-priced lawyers and refused to take the stand and endure Mr. Irving’s cross-examination (it will be interesting to see how the film will handle this embarrassing, self-indicting fact).

The part of the slim and good-looking Irving of that era is played by Timothy Spall, a chubby thespian with a flaccid jaw who  typically portrays villains. The role of the plain-looking Prof. Lipstadt is undertaken by the glamorous Rachel Weisz, who is usually cast as a heroine.

This is a morality play in a shades-of-gray world. When Christians endeavor to slay a dragon we are told to lighten up, don’t be a fanatic, embrace diverse viewpoints. When the Zionists prepare to slay a revisionist reptile, existential factors are banished and a pure struggle between cosmic good and evil takes center stage.

We will soon place online a video of a speech this writer delivered at Mr. Irving’s “Real History” Cincinnati conference more than a decade ago, concerning Lipstadt’s use of the theological term “Amalek” to denigrate him.

In 2006, when that speech was first placed on Google’s fledgling online video channel, friends of Lipstadt had it removed. She stated afterward“The video, which was a virulent attack on me by Hoffman, was introduced by David Irving. I am sorry the video is gone. It was such a blatant example of the venomous hatred these folks feel towards Jews. It also was a prime illustration of their delusional conspiracy theories. I had used it in a number of speeches to illustrate their thinking.”

Needless to say, there was absolutely “no hatred toward Jews” in the video. Deb can’t seem to refrain from recklessly spouting this “Jew hater” trope. It’s a Pavlovian response to any informed criticism of a Judaic academic that is accurate — and wounding because it is accurate. By ominously terming Irving “Amalek,” Prof. Lipstadt rendered him, in terms of rabbinic theology, a target for extermination (how ironic). Pointing this out is only “Jew hate” in a Wonderland world where any defiance of the impostures of the Holy People is automatically suspect; again we observe the relentless megalomania.

The trailer for the movie “Denial” 

Hoffman’s extensive archive on the libel trial, dating from January 11, 2000 to April 21, 2000

The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) maintains its own archive on Lipstadt/Irving

Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust is demolished by Carlo Mattogno 

Posted in USAComments Off on Hollywood’s Revenge on Dissident Historian David Irving

Dead Mice, No Roars: The Jordanian Intelligence Service (Mukhaabaraat)


While the Western mainstream media hail Jordan’s Mukhaabaraat as a valuable ally in the fight against terrorism, the truth is quite different.

US President Barack Obama with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House on April 21, 2009 (Pete Souza/White House)US President Barack Obama with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House on April 21, 2009 (Pete Souza/White House)

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Aretinue of Western journalists have been heralding the daring HUMANINT (Human Intelligence) savvy Jordanian Mukhaabaraat (correct transliteration is with double ‘a’s after the consonants ‘h’ and ‘r’) or GID (General Directorate of Intelligence), which—though unorthodox—is what few pundits aver is the precious missing jigsaw on the bewildering puzzle board contra terrorism. This formidable ally converses in the same argot as the elusive enemy and is accustomed to the enemy’s terrain and culture, since the opposition derives from their backyard. The redoubtable GID also has unquestionable Western loyalties.

In Foreign Policy, Shane Harris titled his article in honor of the GID, “The Mouse that Roars.”[1] David Ignatius of the Washington Post described them as “fearless” and excelling in a “meticulous tradecraft.”[2] He furthered that former head of the Mukhaabaraat, General Saad “Pasha” Kheir, was a “genius” and “superstar.”[3] Curtis Ryan lauded them within The Middle East Centre Blog as, “considered to be among the most efficient and capable intelligence services in the region.”[4]Leonardo DeCaprio’s film “Body of Lies” engrossed into our minds the paragon of unmatched canny skills the GID possesses. Like a bright shining light at the end of a gloomy desert, glimmering off the armor of a modern Jordanian clad knight; the red, white, and green warriors of King Abdullah II, the Jordanian Mukhaabaraat, is constantly buttressed as the noble, trustworthy, and honorable solution to the malignant Islamic State enigma. The only prognathous problem is… this isn’t true.

Human Rights Record

The GID’s “Knight’s Tale” innuendo has promulgated a disturbing human rights incubus. Its ‘unorthodox’ tactics entail forcibly removing fingernails during interrogation, while Amnesty International has reported the seamy GID dangling prisoners upside down by rope or handcuffs simultaneously striking sensitive foot soles and fragile body limbs with old cables, rusted pipes, sharp whips, etc. Threats with umbrages and merciless punishment against family members of detainees is also the norm. The preceding is aimed at dragooning the confessio est regina probationum. For example, Jordanian Palestinian activist, Amer Jubran, is serving 10 years after signing a confession under such Middle Ages’ justice. Also, the Mukhaabaraat in tandem with the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regularly detains suspects—some innocent like Khalid El Masri-incommunicado without alerting legal representation, friends, or family.[5]

Although King Abdullah II incredulously lauded the Hashemite Kingdom’s human rights record in 2015, the National Centre for Human Rights complained of persistent secretive imprisonment and the GID’s contrapuntal practice of due process.[6] This still hasn’t changed today.[7] Other coercive ‘chivalry’ employed by the GID involves days-length deprivation of bathroom privileges, refusal of food and water, and extinguishing cigarettes upon interviewees. [8] Human Rights Watch has documented well over hundreds of eerie interviews, meticulously detailing widespread torture and rendition against victims who were never even formally charged. [9]

GID’s Arch Nemeses: Free Speech, Thought, and Privacy

The Mukhaabaraat’s dripping tentacles aren’t solely gripping victims within its black-site dungeons. This Kraken tenons its slimy suckers over the opened mouths of everyone, except those visiting a dentist, suffocating freedom of expression into a 6th to 14th century European dark abyss. For example, Sameer Al-Qudah was incarcerated after the GID discreetly filmed his public recital of a benign poem mocking the superficiality of Jordanian politics.

Another frontier the Mukhaabaraat wrecks merciless havoc is the internet-stifling in Don Quixote tittup-its persistent deadly arch nemeses, freedom of speech and thought and privacy. According to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing documents, Jordan ranks 3rd in the Middle East for the amount of internet data collected for the National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA.[10] When not collecting its pelf of data, the GID is the pit-bull against Roman derived Lese Majeste (6 months in prison is the punishment for insulting the King of Jordan, as with Muhammed Saeed Baker in 2014) and criticisms of Islam (punishment up to 3 years in prison, as with Nasser Qamash in 2003).[11] It also enforces popular opinion on the Hashemite Kingdom’s oppressive domestic and manipulative foreign policies. And it additionally enmeshes and punishes critics of certain Arab illuminati for quotidian public criticism.

The sundry examples are plentiful asinine and utterly appalling. And journalists are also not immune. In one instance, twelve Iraqi journalists were arrested in Amman, Jordan for criticizing Jordan’s foreign policy matters with Iraq. Journalist Zaki Bani Irshad was imprisoned 2 years in the Hashemite Kingdom for impolite comments against the UAE government. Tareq Abu al-Ragheb—a T.V. anchor for Al-Haqiqah International—was jailed for rudely urging Arab governments to aid Gaza and Palestine, while journalists Nidal Salameh was apprehended for condemning Israel’s callous bombing campaigns on Gaza, and Jamal Ayub for verbally waving his finger at Saudi Arabia’s aerial destruction of Yemen. In addition, Osama Al-Ramini—the editor for Al Balad News—was mysteriously bastilled, raising numerous eye brows, for unspecified slander against an unidentified plaintiff. Al Rai reporter Ghazi Mrayat was hauled off for factually reporting on the 2015 Irbid terrorism plot in violation of a gag order, which was never issued to his media outlet. More, an entire news staff at Jafra News was sheep-herded together and immured for poking fun at Qatar’s prince. The shameful emetic saga goes on with more intimidated casts and an even more perplexed audience.[12]

Even publicly pronouncing personal religious decisions on Facebook is a danger to Jordan’s National Security. One journalist for Al Ghad News was handcuffed at the Queen Rania International Airport when he arrived from Lebanon. This non-anchorite’s offense against Jordan’s National Security, he informed the Lebanese public that he converted from Sunni to Shia Islam.[13] In tandem with the Public Security Department, the capricious GID has successfully uplifted the eccentrically repressive Hashemite Kingdom to number 140 out of 180 countries in international rankings for press freedom. In 2013, an open letter to King Abdullah II by approximately 25 international entities, implored the Hashemite Kingdom to begin respecting journalists’ rights.[14]

The supercilious GID is no doubt a modern 17th century replica of French Benigne Dauvergne de Saint Mars while the Jordanian media and bloggers represent a Marchioly. When not Go-Joe deporting Christian missionaries for aiding helpless refugees, Facebook pages and internet websites are patrolled by Mukhaabaraat Templers.[15] Any exiguity and provocative criticism of Jordan caught in its electronic seine, is the obligation of the online presence to immediately erase. The GID’s bullying even extends to Jordanian publicists being regularly contacted on what is permissible to publish.[16] For example, Al Ghad News once refused—after a warning—to run criticism of the King by a prominent journalist.

If warnings and occasional bribery fail, extra-judicial physical violence or exorbitant fines or precarious criminal prosecution or making one a social/financial pariah is the retort.[17] For example, Al Medina News was threatened with criminal prosecution if it did not retract a report of Syrian aircraft violating Jordan’s airspace.

Occasionally, a reason is not even needed. Muhanned Khatib’s ATV News channel was, without warning or justification, shoved off the air by the Jordanian Mukhaabaraat.[18] Additionally, similar to Rob Pinto of South Florida, journalists who file official grievances discover their GID assailants unpunished, while themselves being ultimately prosecuted in reprimand.[19] Recently, Canadian blogger Ahmad Shahwan has been the epitome of such preceding antics as his pertinacious diatribes and polemics of Jordanian society and politics has resulted in a persistent media smear campaign, his Facebook page removed from the internet, and physical altercations by Jordanian expats in Canada—all of which has only aggrandized his status.[20]

In 2014, Jordan passed legislation making it a criminal offense to publish criticism on the GID, Public Security Office, or military, without permission from the GID. If all the preceding mechanisms fail, the celerity Mukhaabaraat will just block a vituperative website. It blocked 300 websites in 2013.[21]

The aforementioned dotage of incorrigible trajectory by the GID doesn’t seem to be abating either, as 2015 has marked the worst year of repression in the Hashemite Kingdom according to The Committee to Protect Journalists. More detentions of journalists have occurred in 2015 than prior, as veteran journalist Yahia Shukkeir averred, “I’ve never felt a greater chilling effect in the past 30 years.”[22]

Illusion of Democracy

The Jordanian Mukhaabaraat’s veiled infiltration and bureaucratic dominance within all facets of the Hashemite kingdom produces a legerdemain yet deceptive illusion of Democracy to the less perspicacious, as the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s mussitating presence beside a puppet. The fear of the GID is palpable among the average Samaritan as one past frustrated protestor demanded the Mukhaabaraat cease “intervention in all aspects of Jordanian life.”[23]

The GID’s totalitarian embedding engenders its ability to meticulously vet appointments and significantly affect the performance of duties within affluent positions of Jordanian society.[24] And even the Jordanian Parliament is not excluded. For example, (PM) parliamentary member Mohammed Atieh was denied the right by the GID to form an organization for single parents, rebutted the position of President of the Parliament, and also was ordered to remove graffiti decoration his family playfully spray-painted on his home’s wall.[25] Former PM and GID agent, Mahmoud Al-Kharabsheh, admitted the Jordanian intelligence affects 90 percent of the Parliament’s decisions.[26] In another example, American citizen and member of Jordan Parliament, Mohammed Shawabakeh, barefacedly pulled out a brobdingnagian firearm in an attempt to kill a TV host on live television for insulting the Mukhaabaraat. He was never reprimanded, censured, or investigated. When a reporter inquired as to if he was even concerned of punishment by Jordan’s Parliament he retorted, “What Parliament? This is a Parliament that most of its members were practically appointed by the Mukhaabaraat, and where its Speaker give guns as gifts to his MP allies.” Shawabkeh has also been convicted in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of fraud.[27]

Additionally, author Katy Montoya evinced in Jadaliyya that civil societies, humanitarian and human rights monitoring groups, some NGOs and charity organizations, and all sinecures are obligated to show obeisance to the GID.[28] Such preceding entities not only need the GID’s permission to operate, but also have been entirely restructured in leadership or completely dissolved upon the whims of the GID.[29] In a sense of comfortability similar to a Daesh (a.k.a. the Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL) terrorist fulfilling the role of a high school guidance counselor, the sole human rights organization in Jordan is the National Centre for Human Rights, which was founded by former GID head Ahmad Al-Obeidat in 2002. Obeidat has a long, atrociously repugnant record of human rights violations, too.[30] Likewise, the sole major entity in charge of investigating corruption in Jordan, theAnti-Corruption Commission, is a thrall to the GID.[31] In consequence to such aforementioned contamination in Jordanian society, the stygian Mukhaabaraat circumvents blatant repression, when it may manipulate “embedded authoritarianism” within bureaucracy, denying passports and necessary documents or feigning incompetence in job duties, as author Alan George explained, dissembled in a recondite despotism “masked beneath the veneer of visible democratic institutions and practices.”[32]

Web of Corruption

The Jordanian reform protests sparked in a volatile 2010 was mostly organized by the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, which the GID has recently dissolved by closing all of its offices in April 2016, and also augmented by a smaller leftist spectrum. Those forces aimed its bulls-eye on the endemic and pernicious corruption within the Hashemite Kingdom that the Mukhaabaraat, with its own vast financial budget working in collaboration and fully integrated with Jordanian businesses, largely contributes.

The GID’s deep beneficence to corruption is interpolated into Jordan’s origin, with King Hussein bin Talal’s trusted advisors Abdel Salam Al Majali and Ash Sharif Zaid Ibn Shakir, the latter also a former Director of the GID. They, including other impudent ministers and GID, harassed land owners with their political power purchasing prepossessing Jordanian real estate at discounted prices, yet sold them on the international market for extremely exorbitant amounts.[33] Another former Head of Intelligence Mohammed Al-Thahabi was convicted of corruption and a conflated list of 51 journalists he bribed was espied, but never was investigated by The Journalists Association or the government.[34]

Journalists who do complain against the prevarication of corruption, are extra-judicially targeted. Such as Jamal Al-Muhtasib of Jerasa News, whose online criticism of corruption landed him in jail.[35] Another intelligence chief, Samih Al-Battikhi, was convicted in the courts of corruption and sentenced to two years of imprisonment, under house arrest, in his ‘villa’ of Aqaba.[36] In April of 2015, one Mukhaabaraat agent entered the GID headquarters and robbed his senior officer.[37] In June 2016, the CIA reported guns transferred to Jordanian intelligence for Syrian rebels were sold on the black market.[38] According to a 2016 poll by CNN, corruption has risen 75 percent in Jordan since the Arab Spring. Currently media attention on the emetic corruption has dissipated and taken a back seat to tendentious National Security interests in the War of Terrorism.[39] Ironically, corruption with earthquake relief funds was probably one of the precipitating reasons and portents Anastasio “Tachito” Somoza DeBayle was eventually ousted as president of Nicaragua by the FSLN insurgency in 1963.

Mukhaabaraat’s Follies

The Jordanian Mukhaabaraat’s effectiveness arrogated in DeCaprio’s Body of Lies is fictional, yet the title likely an accurate description. The progenitors of the preceding mirage most likely were the creators of Edward Lansdale’s The Quiet American. Perhaps the cadging and aggrandizing of Jordan’s GID by Western pundits is deeply entertaining and emotionally exhilarating to a Chandni Chowk to China audience, but I never was a fan of films like Johnny English. I’ve always liked documentaries more. Discussion with Western ‘savants’ occasionally lead to the Jordanian Mukhaabaraat warned the US of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, yet fail to append that approximately eight other nations adumbrated this tragedy as well.[40]

This same intelligence who couldn’t deter the rise of ISIS founder Abu Musab Zarqawi in Zarqa Jordan, yet was completely willing to shield Al Qaeda Sheikhs Abu Qatada, Abu Muhamed Al Maqdisi (Assem Barqawi), Abu Sayyaf (Muhammed Shalabi), Hamza Mansour, and others like Raghad Hussein (Saddam Hussein’s daughter) from international prosecution for supporting terrorism, but also couldn’t predict the Arab Spring.

Additionally, the GID often passes flawed Intel to its Western counterparts. For example, on Zarqawi, the GID once claimed the calumny that the ‘Iranian backed’ insurgent, who hates all Shia Muslims, was limping in consequence to an injury, until Zarqawi was sighted walking normally. Then, he was the executioner of Pennsylvania’s Nicholas Berg. A video adduced Berg’s killer as taller than Zarqawi and slicing open Berg’s throat with the right hand, instead of the GID’s profile of a left-handed Zarqawi. Western ‘erudites’ also expostulate the hyperbole that the sedulous GID’s Intel led to the successful assassination of Zarqawi. Yet, former President George Bush indicated “years of near-misses and misleads” of a farraginous trial and error methodology, eventually led to his incapacitation.[41] Later, details revealed an unmanned drone shadowing Zarqawi’s spiritual advisor Sheikh Abdul Rahmanm, was the actual determinant.[42] What isn’t stressed enough is the suspicion attached to the numerous times the GID’s Intel on Zarqawi’s exact whereabouts, concluded with Western forces’ forays ‘barely’ missing him.

The truth is the Mukhaabaraat’s efficacy couldn’t thwart the assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in 2002. The GID even reduced the sentence of his killer, Abu Sayyaf, to four years of incarceration. Nor could it halt the 2005 Hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan.[43] And it wasn’t keen enough to prevent gunmen opening fire on tourists twice, one conflagration in Central Amman and the other in Al Hashamiyah Square between 2006 and 2008. Nor could it thwart the attempted bombing of US State Department diplomats’ vehicles in Sahab, or an Israeli diplomatic motorcade on the Dead Sea highway in 2010.[44] The Mukhaabaraat even handed the CIA an Al Qaeda infiltrator in 2009, Humam Al Khalil Abu-Malal Al Balawi, who murdered seven CIA agents in Afghanistan.[45]

The GID also miserably failed a prisoner swap of Al Qaeda prisoner Sajida Al Rishawi for Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh in 2015. Goto was in Tal Abyad at the Syrian-Turkish border awaiting such final approval, before the silence by the Jordanian Mukhaabaraat—interpreted as a refusal—promulgated Goto’s beheading and Kasasbeh’s immolation by Daesh.[46] In addition, the GID’s shaky and foppish Intel to US Special forces wasn’t valuable enough to preclude two unsuccessful attempts to rescue Kasasbeh in Raqqaa, Syria.[47] Its phatic Intel also wasn’t sufficiently accurate to avert Jordan’s Air force bombing and killing Daesh’s American hostage, Kayla Mueller.[48] It was also incommensurate to deter a plethora of Jordanian parliamentary members’ sons from joining Daesh. And it remained cricketing silent, when Ibrahim Hussein Hagirat was decapitated for spying for the Mukhaabaraat.[49]

In fact, some of the CIA weapons sold on the black market by the GID were even used to kill two American contractors in November 2015, while the GID remained motionless and silent like a statue when the ‘lone wolf’ killer’s ribald tribe ceremoniously expiated the shooter’s actions with chants of “death to America” at his funeral.[50] Just as it fulminates like a statue to fractious sheikhs’ and mullahs’ sermons, demanding the death of Shia Muslims and Jews and the destruction of Israel and America, across the Kingdom. After all of the above, the amazingly preposterous bravado of some journalists toward the contumacious GID is best exemplified in the comic fact that after revealing the debauchery that the Jordan intelligence sold CIA weapons on the black market, some news establishments are now proudly announcing with barefaced agog that Russia and the US will begin sharing nuclear technology with the Hashemite Kingdom. I hope that stays off the black market.

While Western ‘scholars’ cull the banal and specious tautology that Jordan’s dearth of significant terrorist incidents in a decade of turmoil in the war-torn region is an acclimation of the Mukhaabaraat’s efficacy, they persistently neglect the gossamer and unavoidable fact that Jordan is ranked number one in foreign Daesh recruits battling in Syria and Iraq.[51] Of course there is no terrorism inside the Hashemite refuge. When a nation deports its scurf of criminals, it has less crime. When it exports its scurf of terrorists, it has less terrorism. The real problems, as some analysts and Jordan government officials have conceded, won’t commence until the conflicts in Iraq and Syria abates, and those fighters return. There are signs now unraveling which are showing the glass chin of the GID. The city of Maan has witnessed continuous incidents of separatist resistance against the Hashemite monarchy while the ridiculous Jordan media in a transparent logomachist game has been tumidly assuaging these events as “common criminals” with RPGs, high-powered machine guns, and IEDs.

In July of last year, a Jerash man was caught with approximately 40 kilos of explosives intending to bomb masjids across the Hashemite Kingdom. 2015 has reigned in a higher concern for explosive ordinance landing in northern Jordan from Syria and has witnessed more attacks on security personnel, while Daesh has ceremoniously on occasions taken pictures of itself at Jordan’s border in Syria.[52]

In March this year, security forces exchanged gunfire with Daesh in the city of Irbid, for the first time in decades.[53] Within the last three months, Daesh used an explosive laden vehicle to attack the borders of Jordan and Syria and the Jordanian government arrested a Daesh cell in Southern Jordan. However, a few journalists are reporting they are actually arresting ISIS cells weekly in media blackout silence. And unlike the December 2015 terrorist plot to kill GID agents in Al Rusayfah, five GID agents were actually killed in Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp last month.[54] 2015 and 2016 represents a huge spike in numbers and frequency of Daesh activities in Jordan in juxtaposition with the past, which culminates in the deserved query by Michael Rubin in Commentary Magazine “Is ISIS Targeting Jordan?”, in which he justifiably concludes that “ISIS has kept its powder dry with regard to Jordan, but that may be coming to an end.”[55]


The security situation in the Hashemite Kingdom has severely deteriorated within my five-year stay in the country. A large cusp of the conundrum, based upon my research and experience, derives from the reprobate GID with which the prating King Abdullah II has close relations. Its murky human rights record places an apartheid wall of distrust and bitterness between the fearful population and itself, resulting in what even the US Department of State capitulates as a consensus of the “citizen’s inability to change their government peacefully.”[56] Without peaceful means, a people will resort to asperity violence inevitably.

Additionally, the GID’s guillotine choke on journalistic rights thwarts the ability for the average Samaritan to participate in remedying the problems every society throughout history experiences. Instead, it destroys the trust between the former and latter, while simultaneously augmenting apathy among citizens. Great journalism of the past includes such examples as Harper’s WeeklyThomas Nast ridding New York of corruption, Charles Duhigg of the New York Times ascertaining a 25 percent raise for exploited Apple iPhone workers in China, Alan Judd of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exposing and stopping cheating on exams across the United States, etc.[57] Such wheels of change aren’t turning in consequence to the GID.

Thirdly, the doctrinaire GID’s illusion of democracy—by controlling every aspect of society—augments obsequiousness and betrayal while atrophying creativity and talent. Those with traits of the former are promoted and those blessed with the latter, are punished and become pariahs. This is not beneficial for any society. It also creates a status quo wherein democratic ideals are not sincerely embraced by the people, but manipulated and vitiated for an individual’s own selfish ends.

Next, the GID’s participation in and phlegmatic winking at the corruption within the Hashemite Kingdom is enabling the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist groups to become more popular, thus presenting a considerable challenge which likely will implode soon. Corruption is a benchmark for the overthrow of many dictators throughout history. Jordan is not immune.

Finally, the mirage of the GID’s valuable intelligence gathering is unworthy of all its hyperbolic praise. If Saad “Pasha” Kheir was as good as Ignatius lauded, he’s dead, and it’s clear that there isn’t one like him today. I have to concur with Nathan Hodge on Ignatius: “we need journalists and columnists who are willing to probe deep, and present uncomfortable truths. Too bad in Ignatius we’ve got a stenographer to power, instead.”[58] Worse, the GID is a questionable ally, both untrustworthy and often a false paladin mistaken in its information. The GID’s HUMANINT efficacy is best summarized by writer Mohammed I. Aslam in Foreign Policy Journal: “some of their [GID] terrorism-related assessments have been found to be something akin to a dog’s breakfast of unsupported and politically motivated accusations.”[59]

The GID’s Stalin hale grip over Jordanian society has temporarily stymied insurgency, which has more to do with exporting terrorists, but it has failed for a decade to change the US State Department’s descant classification of Jordan as a high risk nation for terrorism, while the security situation has been slowly deteriorating. The answer to the question of “Why?” is that the GID is its own worst enemy. It refuses to correct the above criticisms, always citing security concerns of sedition as immunity, when the above criticisms are absolutely inseparable from the security of the Hashemite Kingdom.

Either the Mukhaabaraat is a Bucephalus trotting toward a precipice because a panjandrum King Abdullah II is no Alexander, or that Alexander is in reality a narcissistically blind midget Napoleon acting the beautiful role of a potentate Baghdad Bob, deceiving the entire international community. I am inclined to opine the latter. As one former GID confided to me once paraphrase, “Nothing happens in the Kingdom without our King’s approval.” I also disagree with Shane Harris’ depiction of the GID as a mouse that roars. First, I’ve never known of such possibility. Second, I witnessed many rats in my time within the gallimaufry of Jordan, but heard no roars. There were a lot of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers there though, and that includes a snake pit of them within the GID. All the friendly and tough mice must have been already swallowed when I arrived in Jordan five years ago. Although Jordan is the better of many Arab nations, I am with Michael Rubin ofCommentary Magazine; it’s about to get worse in the Hashemite Kingdom … and quickly. Since the King spends most of his time on a plane outside of Jordan, he shouldn’t fret. I’m just sincerely concerned for the good people I’ve met there.


[1] Shane Harris, “The Mouse that Roars”, Foreign Policy, September 12, 2014,

[2] David Ignatius, “Tragedy as Impetus in Jordan”, Washington Post, November 15, 2005,

[3] Joshua Landis, “The US Love-Hate Relationship with the Mukhabarat”,, December 13, 2009,

[4] Curtis Ryan, “Security Dilemmas and the Security State Question in Jordan”, Project on Middle East Political Science, December 29, 2014, .

[5] Amy Davidson, “Torturing the Wrong Man”, The New Yorker, December 13, 2012,

[6] “Jordan: Investigate Alleged Torture”, Human Rights Watch, November 3, 2015,

[7] Siraj Davis, “The Grim Conditions of Jordan’s Immigration Detention Camps: Blatant Human Rights Violations”, Global Research Centre, April 8, 2016, .

[8] Mohammed I. Aslam, “Jordan’s Mukhabarat: Inside the Snakepit”, Foreign Policy Journal, August 3, 2011,

[9] Willow Belden, “DiCaprio Film Glamorize’s Jordan’s Feared Spy Agency”, Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 2008,

[10] Ali Younes , “Is Jordanian Intelligence Spying on Jordanian Citizens for NSA and CIA?”, The Arab Daily News, May 20, 2014,

[11] “Brotherhood Member Released after Serving Six-Month Prison Term”, Jordan Times, February 2, 2015,

Nicholas Pelham, “Jordanian Blasphemy Verdict Shales the Free Press”, Christian Science Monitor,February 18, 2003,

[12] “Jordan: Journalists Jailed for Website Posting”, Human Rights Watch, September 21, 2013,

Adam Sturrock, “Jordan Releases T.V. Anchor Arrested for Facebook Posts”, Global Journalist,November 5, 2015,

[13] “Jordan: Journalists, Writers Facing Terrorism Charges”, Human Rights Watch, July 15, 2015,

[14] “International Free Expression Groups Call for an End to Internet Censorship in Jordan”,Reporters Without Borders, January 20, 2016,

[15] “Jordan Deports American Pastor , Assistant’s Eviction Pending”, World Watch Monitor,November 14, 2014, .

[16] Judith Pies, Amirouche Nedjaa, “Media Landscapes in Transition: Perspectives from the Arab World”, Mena Media Monitoring, July 25, 2013,

[17] Areej Abuqudairi, “Situation Grimmer than Ever for Jordan Press Freedom”, Al Jazeera, June 14, 2015,

[18] Kristen Gillespie Demilio, “Choke Hold: How Jordan Tames Its Press”, Columbia Journalism Review, April 2008,

[19] “Badge Behavior: Man Goes to File Complaint, Gets Arrested Instead”, Channel 7 News Miami, October 14, 2014,

[20] Rachel Avraham, “Facebook Page of Palestinian Peace Activist Ahmad Shahwan Shut Down”,Jerusalem Online, November 3, 2015, .

Rachel Avraham, “Jordanian Activist Who Spoke Against Stabbing Jews Attacked in Canada”, November 16, 2015,

[21] “Jordan”, Freedom House Report, 2015,

[22] Jason Stern, “Mission Journal: Rise in Journalists Arrests Tarnishes Jordan’s Image as Reformist”,The Committee to Protect Journalists, March 22, 2016,

[23] Suha Phillip Ma’ayeh, “Jordanian Protest Group Sets Up Camp in Amman”, The National, March 25, 2011,

[24] E. George H. Joffe Jordan in Transition (London, H. Hurst and Co Publishers, 2002), 120-123.

[25] Neil MacFarquhar, “Heavy Hand of the Secret Police Impeding Reform in the Arab World”, New York Times, November 14, 2005,

[26] Neil MacFarquhar, “Heavy Hand of the Secret Police Impeding Reform in the Arab World”, New York Times, November 14, 2005,

[27] Ali Younes, “The American Citizen Gun Toting Jordanian MP”, Al Arabiya News, July 17, 2012,

[28] Katy Montoya, “Syrian Refugees Collectivizing in Jordan Becomes a Security Issue.”, Jadaliyya,February 20, 2015,

[29] Alan George, Jordan: Living in the Crossfire (Chicago, Zed Books,2005), 43.

[30] George, Jordan: Living in the Crossfire 59.

[31] W. Andrew Terrill, Global Security Watch – Jordan (Praeger, 2010),36.

[32] George, Jordan: Living in the Crossfire, 43.

Milton Viorst, Sandcastles: The Arabs in Search of the Modern World (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 306-307.

[33] Vineeta Yedav and Bumba Mukherjee, The Politics of Corruption and Dictatorships (Cambridge University Press, 2015),157.

[34] Hisham Bustani, “Jordan – a failed uprising and a re-merging regime”, Your Middle East, May 6, 2013,

[35] “Jordan: A Move to Censor Online Expression”, Human Rights Watch Report, September 10, 2012,

[36] The X files of Corrupt Jordan: Characters, Charges, and Cases”, Al Bawaba, February 25, 2012,

[37] Ali Younis, “Armed Attack Inside the Jordanian Department of Intelligence Baffles Jordanians”,The Arab Daily News, April 6, 2015,

[38] The Editorial Board, “When Friends Like Jordan Steal Weapons”, New York Times, July 1, 2016,

[39] Sheena McKenzie, “Arab Spring 5 Years On: Corruption Increased Says Report”, CNN, May 3, 2016,

[40] Paul Thompson, “They Tried to Warn Us”, History Commons, 2002,

[41] Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer, “Insurgent Leader Al Zarqawi Killed in Iraq”, The Washington Post, June 8, 2006.

[42] Richard Oppel and Mar Mazzetti,“Hunt Ends with Pair of 500-LB Bombs”, New York Times, June 8, 2006,

[43] Mary Anne Weaver, “The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab Zarqawi”, The Atlantic, August 2006,

[44] “Jordan 2016 Crime and Safety Report”, United States Department of State: Bureau of Diplomatic Security, March 3, 2016,

[45] Daniel Nasaw, “Taliban Suicide Attack Kills CIA Agents at US Outpost in Afghanistan”, The Guardian, December 31, 2009,

[46] “Japan Outraged at IS Beheading of Hostage Kenji Goto”, BBC, February 1, 2015,

 “Jordan Pilot Hostage Burned Alive”, BBC, February 3, 2015,

[47] Johnlee Varghese, “Raqqa: US Special Forces Carried out Failed Rescue Missions to Save Jordanian Pilot”, International Business Times, January 2, 2015,

[48] Allah Pundit,“ISIS Leader Baghdadi Repeatdly Raped US Hostage Kayle Mueller”, Hot Air, August 14, 2015,

[49] ISIS Beheads Syrian Accused of Jordanian Intelligence Agent”, Alalam News, February 2, 2015,

[50] The Editorial Board “When Friends Like Jordan Steal Weapons”, New York Times, July 1, 2016,

Karin Laub , “AP Interview: Jordan Eager to Reach Nuke Deal with US”, Penn Energy, July 5, 2016,

 “Jordanian Spies Stole CIA Weapons Intended for Syrian Rebels”, Vice News, June 27, 2016,

[51] “Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, August 6, 2016,

[52] “Jordan 2016 Crime and Safety Report”, United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, March 3, 2016,

Siraj Davis, “Jordan’s Failing Security and Xenophobia Muffles Syrian Abuse”, NSNBC International,April 19, 2016,

[53] Siraj Davis, “Jordan’s Failing Security and Xenophobia Muffles Syrian Abuse”, NSNBC International, April 19, 2016,

[54] Sarah Elizabeth Williams, “Analysis: Jordan Attack Suggests Breach in Country’s Famed Security”, Middle East Eye, June 6, 2016,

 “ISIL Claims Responsibility for Jordan Border Attack”, Al Jazeera, June 27, 2016,

 “Daesh Cells Arrested in Locality South of Amman , Jordan”, Al Bawaba, July 5, 2016,

[55] Michael Rubin, “Is ISIS Targeting Jordan”, Commentary Magazine,July 1, 2016,

[56] “Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Jordan”, U.S. Department of State, 2015,

[57] John Wihbey, “Six Powerful Examples of Journalism’s importance: Recent Civic impacts of the Press”, Journalist’s Resource,March 4, 2013,

[58] Nahan Hodge, “Washington Post Intel Opinionator’s Epic Fail”, Wired, January 5, 2010,

[59] Moham

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Why the end of George Galloway’s Respect Party could spark a new crisis for Jeremy Corbyn


Respect recruits might enable Labour to pile up bigger majorities in its safe seats but would be unlikely to enhance its prospects in Tory-held marginals

The party is over for Respect, the anti-war, anti-Blair party launched by George Galloway in 2004 after his expulsion from Labour.

Respect rode the wave of the huge public opposition to the Iraq War. So its decision to deregister as a party, coming soon after the long-delayed Chilcot inquiry into the intervention and its aftermath, is another welcome sign that we are finally moving on from the Iraq disaster.

Respect’s last hurrah was to campaign for a Leave vote in the EU referendum, but the party was always seen as the sideshow of a one-man firebrand. Galloway held the Bethnal Green and Bow seat for five years but won only 1.4 per cent of the votes in the London Mayoral election in May.

The reality is that there is no space or raison d’etre for Respect while Labour is led by Jeremy Corbyn. He has apologised on behalf of his party for the Iraq conflict and instinctively adopts an open-door policy to those to the left of Labour who want to migrate to the party – many of whom walked out during the years when it was led by Tony Blair.

Readmitting those on the outside left is controversial for Corbyn’s critics. Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has claimed that a small number of Trotskyists have revived the entryism of the Militant Tendency, which saw their leaders expelled in the 1980s; Corbyn never wanted them kicked out in the first place.

A petition against Galloway’s readmission by Labour has already been launched. Its organisers point out that Respect committed the cardinal sin of standing against Labour in elections. They want a “Keep Out” sign erected for Respect, but fear that Corbyn will prefer to brandish a “Keep Left” sign instead.

If, as is widely expected, Corbyn sees off Owen Smiths leadership challenge and is re-elected next month, he would enjoy greater numerical strength on Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) following recent elections. It is the NEC that would rule on whether to allow Galloway and his remaining followers back into the Labour fold.

If they were admitted, it would be seen as another shift to the left by Corbyn’s internal opponents, another sign that Labour is splitting up while still living under the same roof.

Some Corbynistas would be happy about the prospect of  reuniting the left. But their Labour enemies would be appalled, arguing that party should be growing support among centre-ground floating voters won over by the Conservatives rather than preaching to the already converted.

It is a good thing that Labour membership has doubled under Corbyn and is now the biggest party in Europe. However, under our antiquated first-past-the-post system, gaining some Respect recruits might enable Labour to pile up bigger majorities in its safe seats but would be unlikely to enhance its prospects in the Tory-held marginals the party needs to win again to have any hope of regaining power.

After all, Sadiq Khan – who has come out for Owen Smith, warning that Corbyn is leading Labour to electoral disaster – won 1.1million first-preference votes in the Mayoral contest in May; Galloway secured just 37,000.

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George Galloway’s Respect Party deregisters, prompting speculation politician may rejoin Labour


Party established in response to Blairism in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan wars

George Galloway’s Respect Party has been formally deregistered, prompting speculation the politician may be about to rejoin Labour.

The Respect Party was founded in 2004 and grew out of the Stop the War Coalition established in the wake of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War as a pro-environment and anti-war socialist alternative to the Labour party.

The Electoral Commission now lists the party as “voluntarily deregistered”, stating it ceased to be a political party on 18 August.

Following his expulsion from the Labour Party in 2003 for his vocal opposition to the Iraq War and Tony Blair, Mr Galloway became a figurehead for the new party. He became MP for Bradford West in 2012 in a landslide vote that he dubbed “the Bradford Spring”

However, he lost the seat in 2015 to Labour’s Naz Shah following a bitter battle dominated by personal attacks, including allegations he made that Ms Shah had lied about being coerced into a forced marriage. Ms Shah later described the election as a “sexist smear campaign” and “a horrible nightmare”.

The politician also became known for a number of controversies including when he appeared to state that having sex with an unconscious woman would be “bad sexual etiquette” but not rape. In 2015, his former parliamentary assistant Aisha Ali Khan reported him to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, accusing him of misusing parliamentary funds. Mr Galloway strongly denied the allegations, asserting that Ms Khan had a “vendetta” against him.

Mr Galloway stood in the recent London Mayoral election,coming seventh place with just 1.4 per cent of the vote.

The politician has been vocal in support of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, posting supportive messages on social media channels backing the leader. Last summer during the 2015 Labour leadership election he said he would rejoin the party “pretty damn quick” if Mr Corbyn were elected to the position.

Following news of the Respect Party’s deregistration, speculation has been sparked that the move may indicate he could be about to rejoin Labour.

MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips tweeted: “The Labour Party does not belong to one man. Also I think most likely because Respect massively failed.”

Quoting comments attributed to Mr Galloway on sexual consent, she added: “Galloway or [Simon] Danczuk returning to Labour would tell me that women’s safety has no value in our Party any more.

“I for one would like to be asked for my consent before Galloway is inserted anywhere near anything I am part of.”

View image on Twitter

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A Lawless Plan to Target Syria’s Allies


Exclusive: Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when it’s doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell voicing plans for murdering Iranians and maybe Russians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

By Ray McGovern

On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a “mulligan” for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.

Morell did so despite Rose’s efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about “killing” Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission.

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

In the earlier interview, Morell said he wanted to “make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. … make the Russians pay a price in Syria.”

Rose: “We make them pay the price by killing Russians?”

Morell: “Yeah.”

Rose: “And killing Iranians?”

Morell: “Yes … You don’t tell the world about it. … But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”

In the follow-up interview, some of Rose’s fretful comments made it clear that there are still some American non-neocons around who were withholding applause for Morell’s belligerent suggestion.

Rose apparently has some viewers who oppose all terrorism, including the state-sponsored variety that would involve a few assassinations to send a message, and the notion that U.S. bombing Syria to “scare” Assad is somehow okay (as long as the perpetrator is the sole “indispensable” nation in the world).

Rose helped Morell ‘splain that he really did not want to have U.S. Special Forces kill Russians and Iranians. No, he would be satisfied if the U.S.-sponsored “moderate opposition” in Syria did that particular killing. But Morell would not back away from his advocacy of the U.S. Air Force bombing Syrian government targets. That would be “an okay thing” in Morell’s lexicon.

The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” That would seem to cover Morell’s plan.

But Morell seems oblivious to international law and to the vast human suffering already inflicted in Syria over the past five years by government forces, rebels, terrorists and outside nations trying to advance one geopolitical goal or another.

What is needed is a serious commitment to peace talks without unacceptable preconditions, such as outside demands for “regime change.” Instead, the focus should be on creating conditions for Syrians to make that choice themselves through elections or power-sharing negotiations.

Morell prefers to think that a few more U.S.-directed murders and some more aerial-inflicted mayhem should do the trick. Perhaps he thinks that’s the sort of tough-guy/gal talk that will impress a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

A Slight Imprecision?

Charlie Rose begins the “mulligan” segment with the suggestion that Morell might have slightly misspoken: “Tell me what you wanted to say so we understand it … Tell me what you meant to say … perhaps you did not speak as precisely as you should have or I didn’t ask the right questions.”

TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Morell responded, “No, no, Charlie, you always ask the right questions,” and then he presented his killing plan as a route to peace, albeit one in which the United States dictates “regime change” in Syria: “So there’s not a military solution to this, there is only a political solution. … And that political solution is, in my view, a transition of power from Assad to a, a, a transitional government that represents all of the Syrian people.

“That is only going to happen if Assad wants it to happen, if Russia wants it to happen, if Iran wants it to happen.  So … we need to increase our leverage over those … three people and countries, in order to get them more interested in having a conversation about a transition to a new government.

“And sometimes you use military force for military ends. Sometimes you use military force to give you political leverage. … So what I tried to say was, Look, we need to find some ways to put some pressure on Assad, or put some pressure on Russia, and put some pressure on Iran. Now, with regard to Russia and Iran, what I said was, what I wanted to say was: Look, the moderate opposition, which the United States is supporting (everybody knows that, right?), the moderate opposition is already fighting the Syrian government, and they’re already fighting Russians and Iranians. …

“So … the Syrian military, supported by Russia and the Iranians, is fighting the moderate opposition. And the moderate opposition is already killing Iranians and Syrians. What, what I said is that’s an okay thing, right, because it puts pressure on Iran and Russia to try to see some value in ending this thing politically. And what I said is that we should encourage the moderate opposition to continue to do that and perhaps get a lot more aggressive.” (Emphasis added)

Rose: “You weren’t suggesting that the United States should do that, but the moderate forces on the ground.”

Morell: “And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that. …

“So that’s Russia and Iran. Now, Assad. How do you put some pressure on Assad, right? And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. So, in the middle of the night you destroy one of his offices; you don’t kill anybody, right, zero collateral. … You do this with the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists. …(Emphasis added)

“You take out his presidential aircraft, his presidential helicopters, in the middle of the night, right, just to send him a message and get his attention that, that maybe your days are numbered here, just to put some pressure on him to think about maybe, maybe the need to think about a way out of this.

“Now these issues that I’m talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They’re talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn’t talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it.”

Acts of Illegal War

Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as “aggression” or as an “invasion” or as “terrorism.”

Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

Remember, after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014, when Russia intervened to allow Crimea to hold a referendum on splitting away from the new regime in Kiev and rejoining Russia, the U.S. government insisted that there was no excuse for President Vladimir Putin not respecting the sovereignty of the coup regime even if it had illegally ousted an elected president.

However, regarding Syria, the United States and its various “allies,” including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, have intervened directly and indirectly in supporting various armed groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, seeking the violent overthrow of Syria’s government.

Without any legal authorization from the United Nations, President Barack Obama has ordered the arming and training of anti-government rebels (including some who have fought under Nusra’s command structure), has carried out airstrikes inside Syria (aimed at Islamic State militants), and has deployed U.S. Special Forces inside Syria with Kurdish rebels.

Now, a former senior U.S. intelligence official is publicly urging bombing of Syrian government targets and the killing of Iranians and Russians who are legally inside Syria at the invitation of the internationally recognized government. In other words, not only does the U.S. government operate with breathtaking hypocrisy in the Syrian crisis, but it functions completely outside international law.

And, Morell says that in attacking Syrian government targets — supposedly without causing any deaths — the United States would employ “the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists,” except those rules of engagement explicitly seek to kill targeted individuals. So, what kind of dangerously muddled thinking do we have here?

One can only imagine the reaction if some Russian version of Morell went on Moscow TV and urged the murder of U.S. military trainers operating inside Ukraine – to send a message to Washington. And then, the Russian Morell would advocate Russia bombing Ukrainian government targets in Kiev with the supposed goal of forcing the U.S.-backed government to accept a “regime change” acceptable to Moscow.

A Fawning Audition

Rather than calls for him to be locked up or at least decisively repudiated, the American Morell was allowed to continue his fawning audition for a possible job in a Hillary Clinton administration by extolling her trustworthiness and “humanity.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Morell offered a heartwarming story about how compassionate Clinton was as Secretary of State when he lost out to John Brennan to be the fulltime CIA Director. After he was un-picked for the job, Morell said he was in the White House Situation Room and Clinton, “sat down next to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and she simply said, ‘Are you okay?’ There is humanity there, and I think the public needs to know.”

And, Clinton was a straight-shooter, too, Morell explained: “You know, it’s interesting, Charlie, I worked with her for four years. Leon Panetta, David Petraeus worked with her for four years. We trusted her word; we trusted her judgment. You know, [CIA] Director Panetta, [CIA] Director Petraeus, I provided her with some of the most sensitive information that the CIA collects and she never gave us one reason to doubt how she was handling that. You know, she spoke to us forthrightly. … I trust her word and I trust her judgment.”

Can Morell be unaware that Clinton repeatedly put highly sensitive intelligence on her very vulnerable private email server along with other data that later investigations determined should have been marked SECRET, TOP SECRET, CODEWORD, and/or SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS?

FBI Director James Comey, in announcing that he would not recommend prosecuting Clinton for compromising these secrets, called her behavior “extremely careless.”

For his part, Charlie Rose offered a lament about how hard it is for Clinton to convey her “humanity” and how deserving she is of trust. He riffed on the Biblical passage about those who can be trusted in small matters (like sitting down next to Morell, putting her hand on his shoulder, and asking him if he is okay) can be trusted on big matters, too.

My Travails With Charlie

Twelve years ago, I was interviewed by Charlie Rose, with the other interviewee (who participated remotely) James Woolsey, former head of the CIA (1993-95), arch-neocon, and self-described “anchor the Presbyterian wing of JINSA” (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

The occasion was the New York premier of Robert Greenwald’s full-length film version of his documentary, “Uncovered: the Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” in which I had a small part and which described the many falsehoods that had been used by President George W. Bush and his neocon advisers, to justify invading Iraq. Woolsey did not like the film, and Greenwald asked me to take the Rose invitation that had originally been extended to him.

True to form, Charlie Rose knew on which side his bread was buttered, and it wasn’t mine. He was his usual solicitous self when dealing with an “important” personage, such as Woolsey. I was going to count the minutes apportioned to me and compare them with those given to Woolsey, but I decided to spare myself the trouble.

The last time I checked the Aug. 20, 2004 video is available for purchase but I refuse to pay for it. Fortunately, a friend taped and uploaded the audio onto YouTube. It might be worth a listen on a slow summer day 12 years after my travails with Charlie.

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Seeds of democratic revolution in Ethiopia?

Protesters in Ethiopia

Thousands march against the ruling regime
By Graham Peebles

After being frightened into silence for over two decades, the people of Ethiopia are finding their voice and calling for fundamental political change.

Thousands have been taking to the streets in recent weeks and months to peacefully protest against the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), expressing their collective anger at the injustices and widespread human rights violations taking place throughout the country and calling for democratic elections.

The people are rising up

The people have awakened, and overcoming fear and historic differences are beginning to unite. The two main ethnic groups are rallying under a common cause: freedom, justice and respect for their constitutionally acknowledged human rights. Two opposition parties, the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) and Patriotic Ginbot 7 for Unity and Democracy (PG7), have formed an alliance in the fight to overthrow the incumbent regime, and are seeking to bring other opposition groups together.

The protests are dominated by people under 30 years of age, young people connected to the world via social media and no longer prepared to live in fear. As Seyoum Teshome, a university lecturer in central Ethiopia told The New York Times, “The whole youth is protesting. A generation is protesting.”

At the moment, demonstrations are largely confined to Oromia and Ahmara, but as confidence grows there is every possibility that other regions could become involved, swelling the numbers of protestors and overwhelming security forces.

When there is unity, and consistent, peaceful collective action, governments are eventually forced to listen (as has been demonstrated elsewhere in the world), and the attention of the international community is garnered. Ethiopia receives between a third and half of its federal budget in various aid packages from international donors, irresponsible donor countries which see Ethiopia as an ally in the so-called “war on terror”, a “stable” country in a region of instability – the illusion of stability maintained by keeping the populace suppressed.

To their utter shame Ethiopia’s primary donors, the United States, Britain and the European Union, have repeatedly ignored the cries of the people and turned a blind eye to human rights abuses perpetrated by the ruling party, which in many cases constitute state terrorism. It is neglect bordering on complicity.

Remain peaceful

This is a historic moment that could result in the overthrow of the government – a day longed for by the majority of Ethiopians – and usher in what activists and opposition groups have been campaigning for: democratic, fair elections and open political debate. None of this, despite the false pronouncements of Barack Obama and the like, have taken place under the EPRDF. Indeed, Ethiopia has never known democracy.

It is essential that protestors remain largely peaceful, in spite of the government’s brutal response, and that this does not turn into an ethnic conflict, with Tigrayan military forces loyal to the government pitched against groups from Oromo, Amhara, Ogaden and elsewhere. To take up arms on any significant scale would not only risk large numbers of casualties and national chaos, but would also allow the regime to propagate false claims of terrorism, attribute the uprising to destabilising influences and ignore the demands of protestors and opposition parties.

The government owns the sole telecommunications company as well as virtually all media outlets in the country, and seeks in every way possible to condition reporting by international media. They regularly close down the internet in an attempt to make it difficult for protesters to communicate, and will no doubt attempt to manipulate the narrative surrounding the protests. But given the coverage flooding social media – much of which shows so-called “security personnel” indiscriminately beating protesters – as well as first-hand accounts, they will not be able to suppress or contaminate the truth.

Brutal reaction

Ethiopia is made up of dozens of tribes and a variety of ethnic groups. The people of Oromo and Amhara (respectively 35 per cent and 27 per cent of the population) make up the majority, and rightly feel they have been ignored and marginalised by the Tigray (6 per cent of the population) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated government, who also run the military. It is in Oromia and the city of Gondar in Amhara that the protests have concentrated in recent weeks and months, protests that the government has responded to with predictable violence.

It is impossible to state the exact number of protesters killed by government forces over the last week or two. Aljazeera reports that “between 48 to 50 protesters were killed in Oromia”, but the satellite broadcaster ESAT News says that “several sources revealed that in the last few days alone [up to 10 August] at least 130 people have been murdered in the Oromo region… while 70 others have been massacred in Amhara”.

Residents of the city of Bahir-Dar told The Guardian that, “soldiers fired live rounds at protesters. Hospitals have been filled by dead and wounded victims”. Thousands have been arrested, and ESAT reports security forces have been demanding ransom payments from the families of young people who were detained after protesting in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Despite the fact that freedom of assembly is clearly spelt out in the Ethiopian constitution (Article 30), the prime minister, Haile Mariam Dessalegn, announced a blanket ban on demonstrations, which, he said, “threaten national unity”. He called on the police – who need no encouragement to behave like thugs – to use all means at their disposal to stop protests occurring. The communications minister, Getachew Reda,  chipped in, and called the protests illegal. All of which is irrelevant and of course misses the point completely.

Shocked and appalled at the ruling regime’s violent reaction to the protests, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights (UNHCHR) urged the government “to allow access for international observers into the affected regions to be able to establish what exactly transpired”. The UNHCHR spokesperson described information coming out of Amhara and Oromia as “extremely alarming”, saying there had been “no genuine attempt at ensuring accountability” since reports of abuses by security forces began emerging back in December 2015. The government’s arrogant, not to say cowardly, reply was to reject the request. Getachew Reda, without a whiff of irony, told Aljazeera that “the UN was entitled to its opinion but the government of Ethiopia was responsible for the safety of its own people”. Perhaps if Ethiopia’s main benefactors began to do their donor duty and apply pressure to the regime, it would be more conciliatory.

Refusing to engage with opposition groups and believing totally in the power of force and fear to control populations, dictatorships like the EPRDF instinctively respond to calls for freedom and justice by intensifying the very suppressive measures that are driving the popular uprising: The days of such a totalitarian regime are fast coming to an end; it is a disintegrating body moving towards certain extinction.

Unstoppable momentum for change

For years the Ethiopian government and the country’s major donors have been propagating the lie that democracy and social development were flowering inside the country. As the people march, that myth is now beginning to totally unravel.

The plain truth is that the EPRDF government, in power since 1991, is a vicious, undemocratic regime that has systematically suppressed the population for the last 25 years. There is no freedom of expression, the judiciary is a puppet of the state, political opposition leaders as well as journalists and anyone who openly expresses dissent are imprisoned (often tortured) and their families persecuted. Humanitarian aid, employment and higher education opportunities are distributed on a partisan basis; and what economic growth there has been (dramatically downgraded by the IMF recently) has flowed largely into the coffers of government officials and supporters.

A social protest movement has been building up with growing intensity since the 2010 general election (which like the ones before it, and since, was stolen by the EPRDF), and now the momentum appears to be unstoppable.

No matter how many courageous protesters the police and military shoot – and they will no doubt continue killing – arrest and intimidate, this time there is a real chance that the people will not be put down; they will no longer be denied their rights. They sense, as large numbers of people do everywhere, that an energy of change is sweeping through the world, that they are in tune with the times, and that this is the moment to unite and act.

Beginning in Oromia in March 2014 and intensified last November, large demonstrations were staged in opposition to government plans to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, onto agricultural land in Oromia. They began in Ginchi, a small town southwest of the capital, and spread to over 400 locations throughout the 17 zones of Oromia. At the same time demonstrators were marching in Gondar, demanding, among other things, academic rights.

The ERDF reacted by deploying armed police and military that used “excessive and lethal force against largely peaceful protests”. Human Rights Watch states that over 400 innocent people were killed; ESAT, however, puts the number even higher, saying that “at least 600 protesters were killed in the last nine months” in the Oromia region.

The protests in Oromia and Amhara have been ignited by specific issues – territory, land use, the stolen 2015 elections and the EPRD’s paranoid, undemocratic hold on power. However, these are not the underlying causes, but triggers, a series of final straws laid on top of two decades of violent suppression and injustice. Such violations are not just confined to these major regions, but are also experienced more or less throughout the country: in Gambella, and the Ogaden region for example, where all manner of state-sponsored atrocities have been taking place.

The EPRDF government has attempted to rule Ethiopia through intimidation and fear. Such violent, crude methods will only succeed for so long. Eventually, the people will unite and revolt, as they are now doing, and all strength to their cause, which is wholly just.

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Beyond Jewish Identity: Exceptionalism Revisited



The problem with Jewish identity is Jewish identity! By this I mean, the hegemonic forms of Jewish exceptionalism to which most Jews are enthralled, including a provocative insistence on willed disaffiliation in a few rate instances. Such a gesture of anti-exceptional exceptionalism is a kind of personal manifesto, a private declaration to the world of independence of Judaism with respect to both articles of faith and ethno-nationalist markers. It is usually rooted in a deep earlier experience of what it meant to be Jewish that is repudiated later on for personal and, sometimes, political reasons.

Of course, this kind of perverse exceptionalism also applies, with even greater stringency, to the genuine anti-Semite who attributes a negative exceptionalism to Jews by of hatred, blame, and paranoia. Zionist zealots often manipulate negative exceptionalism to instill fear among Jews about the intentions of their adversaries. It is also a useful instrument in Zionist hands to brand critics of Israel or supporters of BDS, discrediting their good faith by deliberately alleging hatred of a people while what is at stake is harsh criticism of the practices and policies of a state that inflict massive suffering on a vulnerable people. To be called a ‘self-hating Jew’ as I have been is to turn negative exceptionalism into a double-edged razor sharp weapon.

Positive exceptionalism, essentialized for many Jews by a variety of readings of Jews as the people chosen by God, as different and superior. It is sometimes concretized by reference to Israel that pulls above its weight when it comes to military power and technological achievement. There is another kind of positive exceptionalism that regards Jews as chosen by God to engage justly in the world seeking peace, abhorring violence. Michael Lerner, Rebecca Vilkomerson, and Marc H. Ellis exemplify the presence of such angels in our midst.

Thinking more personally, I acknowledge the importance of being Jewish as a marker of my identity both for myself and for many others in their chose life journey. What this means substantively is obviously very diverse. It eludes me almost altogether as I am not observant of nor familiar with Jewish rituals or traditions, although I have welcomed exposure to them when the occasion has arisen, and it has, although infrequently as my circle of friends is overwhelmingly non-observant. Subjectively, Judaism has never had a greater resonance for me than the rituals and traditions of other world religions, most of whom I have been exposed to from time to time, and which I studied long ago with a strong academic interest in religion as a structure of belief. I always welcomed opportunities to become more deeply immersed in any world religion whenever they arose. I never felt a particular attachment to the religion conferred upon me by the accident of birth, perhaps because in my case, it was not part of my upbringing and socialization experience as a child growing up in the highly secular surroundings of Manhattan.

Living part of each year in Turkey for more than twenty years has led my to think about the secular/religious divide that is very deep in Turkish society, and produces cleavages of understanding and polarizing enmities. I believe religion is deeply relevant to the mass of humanity, and has in recent decades been revived in quite diverse settings. In part, this seems a reaction to the modernist failures of community and identity. These failures are evident in the commodified surroundings we daily inhabit whether we wish to or not.  This defining reality of the lifeworld is heavily influenced by neoliberal capitalism as increasingly disseminated by the ambiguous magic of the digital age.

In the Turkish case, perhaps due to my experience of friends and colleagues, I find that the secularists tend to be more judgmental than their Islamist counterparts (who by and large accept the idea that religion and secularism can and should coexist so long as there is mutual respect and equal rights).  I interpret this difference as reflecting the fact that secularists held tightly the keys of power in republican Turkey until the Justice and Development Party (AKP) gained an electoral mandate to govern in 2002, and has been reelected time and again ever since. Had the situation been reversed, it is possible that it would be the secularists who would be more open to coexistence and mutual respect, although their pre-AKP record of governance and societal dominance gives little reason for such confidence as their policy was guided by the strong wish to keep religion in its box.

I am undoubtedly influenced by the view that unless ethno-nationalism in all its forms is soon superseded by a surge of commitment to species identity the human condition faces a dismal future. This does not mean abandoning a Jewish or other sub-species identities altogether, but it does emphasize another way of conceiving and layering multiple identities, with an insistence on privileging ‘human identity,’ which would reverse almost all that has gone before.  Such a revolutionary hierarchy inverts the ordering of identities that presently exist that works outward from family and immediate neighborhood, and gives least weight to ‘humanity’ or ‘cosmic consciousness.’

Such assessments also reflect spatial and psychological location. The meaning of being Jewish would undoubtedly be more central to my daily experience if I were living in Israel, yet no less or more authentic than an identity shaped by living most of the year in California. This affirmation of equivalence is undoubtedly an anathema to many Jews in and out of Israel, especially to adherents of Zionism in any of its many forms. Zionism above all else, as I understand it, embodies a dialectical interaction between negative and positive variants of Jewish exceptionalism, and takes for granted the hypothesis that Jews are deservedly, and for some, unavoidably exceptional.

Separating myself from this kind of involvement does not imply any hostility toward religious and ethnic identities so long as they seek openness to the ecumenical dimensions of human identity. To the extent a preferred identity is closed to religious and ethnic otherness, as in a variety of fundamentalisms (including secular fundamentalism), it has become in the twenty-first century the most widespread means to exhibit a collective death wish on behalf of the species. What I find most empowering is a trans-religious spirituality that draws on the insights and wisdom embedded in all the great religions, including the spirit faiths and nature religions of many native peoples. These religious and spiritual constructions of reality impart a far fuller sense of the awe and mystery of life on planet earth than can be gained by mastering what the Western Enlightenment canonized so powerfully through its amoral embrace of instrumental reason. All that reason leaves out is love, empathy, friendship, beauty, insurgent energies, and the indispensable balances and harmonies of co-evolutionary nature. Such spirituality could become a vital source of liberating energy if the human species manages to seize this bio-political moment that is upon us whether or not we realize it. And this also is a warning that the ethno-nationalist moment that continues to hold the political imagination in captivity has become the king’s highway to species extinction.

Instead of Jewish exceptionalism  (or American exceptionalism) the call of this bio-political moment is for species exceptionalism.


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Facing Terrorist Threats From Right-Wing Bigots, New York Muslim Community Sues


By Eleanor J. Bader


2016.20.8 Bader orig

A planned motorcycle protest against Islamberg, an African-American Muslim community in the Catskills, backfired on its organizers on May 15, 2016 when they were vastly outnumbered by hundreds of cheering Islamberg supporters who gathered to defend the community from charges that it is an “Islamic jihad training camp.” (Photo: Watershed Post / Flickr)

When residents of the small village of Islamberg, New York, a community of Sunni Muslims located approximately 150 miles north of Manhattan, learned that former congressional candidate Robert Doggart had been arrested for planning to burn down their mosque and assassinate inhabitants as they went about their chores, they knew it was time to go on the offensive.

As the headquarters of The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA), the 70-acre community of Islamberg was formed in the early 1980s by a group of Black Muslims from Brooklyn. They were seeking a calmer life, far from the noise, pollution and hustle of the city — a place where they could farm and raise their children closer to nature. They also wanted to devote themselves, to the extent possible, to spiritual concerns. TMOA has since grown to 12 domestic and international communities in Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, and as well in Canada, Trinidad/Tobago and Venezuela.

Not surprisingly, Islamophobes — the Center for Security Policy, the Christian Action Network, the Clarion Project, and Fox News, among the most prominent — have decried the hamlets as possible terrorist training sites and have subjected residents to a constant barrage of verbal smears, threats and disruptions.

According to Muhammad Matthew Gardner, spokesperson for TMOA and a resident of a TMOA enclave in south-central Virginia called Ahmadabad, the Christian Action Network has been particularly relentless in targeting the settlement and trying to “find a way to make Islam the enemy.” Several years ago, the network’s representatives attended a meeting of his town’s board of supervisors to demand — unsuccessfully — that a street named in honor of TMOA’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, be rebranded. In addition, until quite recently, they surveilled residents, driving their cars past houses at five miles an hour and glaring at the men, women and children who call the area home. Gardner further reports that the Christian Action Network has also sent camera crews into Ahmadabad to film local people.

“From our founding in the 1990s, we always had an open door policy,” he said. “People could just show up and be welcomed. But after [network members] barged in with cameras a few years back, and had people get out of their cars and run up to children and ask them if they were terrorists or were going to blow up buildings, we became a gated community with 24-hour security to keep trespassers away.”

Other TMOA settlements tell a similar tale. The TMOA website reports that in 2013, Joshua Allan Casey was charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm and trespassing on TMOA property in York, South Carolina. And in August 2015, Glendon Scott Crawford, a 51-year-old member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a resident of Galway, New York, was convicted of building “an industrial strength radiation device that could kill silently without victims knowing they were getting sick,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Crawford had intended to place the machine in a truck painted with the words Halal Chicken and pump odorless poison into the Islamberg mosque while parishioners prayed. He called the contraption “Hiroshima on a light switch.” After a trial in US District Court in Albany, New York, he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison; his partner in crime, Eric J. Feight, was sentenced to 97 months in jail. Feight was granted a shorter sentence in exchange for testifying against Crawford, the plot’s mastermind.

When the people of Islamberg learned of Doggart’s plans to firebomb their mosque and stab and shoot at random Muslims, they had had enough. They decided it was time to sue.

Their weapon: The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE).

FACE was promulgated in 1994 to protect abortion clinics — as well as places of worship — from intrusions and to protect patients, medical workers and congregants from harassment and intimidation.

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud is one of two attorneys representing the townspeople of Islamberg in a civil case against Doggart, his “assistant” William Tint of South Carolina, and numerous as-yet unnamed coconspirators. “We believe that we are the leaders in using FACE this way, on behalf of Muslims and in support of a mosque, but Congressman Keith Ellison [D-Minn.] wrote Attorney General Loretta Lynch a letter last year, asking her to employ the FACE Act to prosecute protesters in Arizona who stood outside Phoenix mosques with weapons,” Amatul-Wadud said. “Right now we’re in the process of trying to stay the civil case against Doggart and the others until a criminal case being brought by the Department of Justice [DOJ] is decided.”

Amatul-Wadud is heartened that the DOJ is moving forward in its prosecution of Doggart and company. At the same time, she and co-counselor Tahirah Clark emphasize that Doggart is being handled with kid gloves. “After Doggart came to DOJ attention — the FBI legally intercepted his social media pages after his threats were brought to their attention,” Amatul-Wadud said. “Afterwards, they went before a judge to obtain permission to wiretap his phone. Then, after he was arrested, it took just four weeks for DOJ to make a plea deal with him. They let him out of jail as soon as he made bail. When we learned about the deal — allowing him to plead guilty to making communication threats, a crime that could result in a fine and short jail term — we called a press conference and denounced the arrangement.”

Shortly thereafter, in late 2015, a senior judge rejected the plea and began readying the parties for a full-blown criminal trial. Doggart is presently on house arrest and wears an electronic monitor but was recently permitted to travel to Kentucky where he was examined by medical professionals and deemed fit to stand trial. The attorneys expect litigation to begin sometime this fall.

As for the civil part of the case, attorneys Clark and Amatul-Wadud have a straightforward goal. According to the complaint in TMOA v. Doggart, the Muslims of America want the court to order Doggart and colleagues to pay compensatory damages of at least $50,000 to TMOA. But this is about far more than money. As Clark explains, “We want what all Americans want, to live freely, raise our children in peace, and live our lives. Doggart and his allies have plotted terrible things against innocent people, to burn down our place of worship and kill us. This should not be acceptable in this country. We want the US government to go after these men in the same way they go after Muslims who are accused of terrorism.”

Amatul-Wadud agrees, pointing out that Doggart was never charged with domestic terrorism. “When Muslims search the Internet for ISIS or Al Qaeda, they are usually quickly charged as terrorists. We are bringing this case to draw attention to the extreme right wing since they pose the greatest threat to the security of the US.”

While disgusted at this blatant prosecutorial double-standard, both Clark and Amatul-Wadud are also critical of conservative media outlets that fan the flames of religious bigotry.

“When Fox News gets people riled up, it causes our communities to become targets of vigilante justice,” says Amatul-Wadud. “Doggart is a manifestation of this. His attorney has said that Doggart became aware of TMOA and Islamberg after watching a program on Fox News in January 2015. A guy named Wayne Simmons — who incidentally was sentenced to 33 months in prison and fined more than $175,000 last month for falsely presenting himself as a former CIA operative with expertise on terrorism — was being interviewed. He was describing 22 alleged terrorist training camps in the US, including one in Islamberg. Doggart heard this and turned his attention on TMOA to stop what he perceived as a threat.”

Mark Potok, director of publications and information at the SPLC and editor-in-chief of its Intelligence Report, calls Doggart “a classic example of the kinds of people and the kinds of crimes that are unleashed by internet conspiracists, and people like Sean Hannity, who articulate danger fantasies.” When such falsehoods are endlessly repeated, they stoke fear and more than a few people have felt inspired to do something to remove the perceived menace, however bogus. Last year, Potok reports, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of Texas went on a tear after hearing a “news report” alleging that there was an ISIS training facility across the border from San Antonio. And although every authority in Texas decried this baseless assertion, it led to a predictable spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

“We know people are suspicious of us,” TMOA spokesperson Gardner admits, “so we’ve had to develop good relationships with local law enforcement personnel and the FBI. We’ve invited them to visit us, look around and ask questions. In my Virginia community, the local congressman and representatives of the FBI, ATF, CIA and police force came in and spent time with us. They later went to the board of supervisors and very clearly told them that they had nothing to fear. In fact, they told them that non-Muslims could learn a lot from us. This happened in 2008 and really changed things. People from the adjacent towns no longer look at us strangely. We’ve also been proactive and every other Saturday we go to the public library to talk to people about Islam and about our community.”

The residents of Islamberg have also done considerable outreach. In fact, after American Bikers United Against Jihad staged a ride through the town in May, anti-racist activists and rank-and-file townspeople mobilized and easily outnumbered the motorcyclists. A little more than a month later, the New York State Council of Churches organized several actions during Ramadan. Several hundred lawn signs wishing Muslims a “blessed” month went up in surrounding locales, and end-of-fast Iftars brought people of different religions together to share a meal.

Meanwhile, Islamberg residents and the Jewish community in Oneonta, New York, are planning a joint program for the fall.

“Islamberg and other TMOA communities are not closed,” Clark says. “Residents work outside the community and go to college or university. Our kids participate in local sports teams, although most parents either home school their children or send them to an Islamic school in a nearby town.”

This engagement, adds Amatul-Wadud, has led to improved relationships with non-Muslims. In part due to the ongoing harassment, Islamberg residents have formed deep bonds with people in Hancock and nearby Binghamton and Oneonta. “There is a level of solidarity we probably would not have been able to find without people like Doggart, Tint and Sean Hannity,” she laughs. But despite this “silver lining,” she and Clark hope that their FACE case will be successful in beginning to confront the bigotry that has been lobbed at TMOA and those who reside within its communities.

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Women’s Boat to Gaza Prepares a New Challenge to Israel’s Blockade


By Joe Catron


(Photo: <a href="" target="_blank">Pablo Miranzo</a>)

(Photo: Pablo Miranzo)

When two dozen women sail from Barcelona on September 14, mounting the latest international challenge to Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip, their boats — the Amal, or “hope,” and Zaytouna, or “olive” — will confront a seemingly intractable impasse.

“There is no freedom of transport or travel owing to the closure of cross points and borders, which led to the death of a score of patients [from Gaza] who were unable to receive their treatment abroad,” Samar Al-Dreamly, media coordinator for Gaza’s Women’s Affairs Center and editorial secretary of its Al-Ghaidaa magazine, told Truthout.

The closure, she said, “also caused countless students to lose opportunities to continue their education abroad.”

The Gaza Strip, a small, 141-square mile Palestinian enclave, lies at the southwestern corner of Israel, bordered by it on two sides and facing its navy, which patrols the Mediterranean Sea offshore, on a third.

Only a modest pedestrian walkway at Rafah, connected to Egypt and frequently closed by its military-installed, Israel-allied government, lies outside the immediate regulation of Israel, which otherwise dominates the territory through control of its airspace, banking and telecommunications systems, building permits, customs and tax policies, electromagnetic spectrum, passports, and population registry, among countless other aspects of daily life.

Israel’s web of restrictions on Gaza, alternately called the blockade, the closure or the siege, includes hundreds of laws, military regulations and state policies adopted over decades, many exclusive to the Gaza Strip but some also applying to both the West Bank and Israel itself.

One of its most significant components, the naval blockade, dates to Israel’s June 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which ended the international maritime traffic that had once thrived in a bustling Gaza seaport.

It is Israel’s tight grip on Palestinians’ use of their own sea, enforced by the gunboats and warships of a world-class navy, which the Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) will confront.

“The blockade of Gaza is invisible in mainstream media all around the word, mainly because of wars and crises in the Middle East, but also because journalists and lots of people are tired of the so-called conflict, which in reality is an ongoing war of harassment against Palestinians in Gaza,” Gerd von der Lippe, who will be traveling on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, told Truthout.

Von der Lippe is a feminist activist and sports sociologist, as well as a former sprinting champion, from Telemark, Norway.

She added that she joined the Women’s Boat to Gaza in solidarity with Palestinian women. “I want to contribute in order for them not to lose hope,” she said.

The Blockade Persists

The Women’s Boat to Gaza follows various efforts to challenge the closure. During each of Israel’s three military offensives against the Gaza Strip — in 2009, 2012 and 2014 — Palestinians have pressed to end it as a term of ceasefires.

Other international activists have sailed to Gaza as well, starting with small boats launched by the Free Gaza Movement in 2008 and including three large Freedom Flotillas in 2010, 2011 and 2015. Israeli naval commandos raided the 2010 Flotilla on May 31, killing nine Turkish activists and one Turkish-American on board the MV Mavi Marmara, and injuring dozens.

Facing withering criticism, Israel modified its restrictions on imports to the Gaza Strip in July 2010, allowing basic consumer goods like fabric, paper and toys through its checkpoints for the first time in years. Other elements of the closure remained intact.

Many Palestinians hoped talks to end an ensuing rift between Israel and Turkey would lift the blockade, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly promised. But when protracted negotiations ended with a reconciliation agreement on June 26, nothing had changed but an Israeli agreement to allow increased Turkish aid into Gaza.

“Like other agreements, the Turkish agreement did not bring any real change to the current situation of the siege on Gaza,” Al-Dreamly said. “People in Gaza have stopped believing or trusting any political attempts, initiatives or agreements, since there is no positive outcome reflected upon their lives.”

Few Women’s Boat to Gaza participants see the Israel-Turkey deal more favorably.

“As we read the reports, it is clear that the blockade has not been lifted,” Wendy Goldsmith of Ontario, Canada, told Truthout. “The Turkish government is complying with Israel’s demand to use so-called ‘proper channels’ using ‘proper checkpoints’ to deliver aid.”

Goldsmith, a social worker and spokeswoman for the Canadian Boat to Gaza, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition coordinating the project, will also sail on the boat.

“We will not ask the oppressor for permission to reach the shores of Gaza,” she said. “Our goal is clear. We will continue to sail until the blockade is totally and unconditionally lifted.”

The Spread of Despair in Gaza

Turkey’s planned infusion of aid can do little to resolve two of Gaza’s most pressing crises. Israel’s devastating 2014 military operation not only killed over 2,200 Palestinians but also damaged or destroyed 18,000 homes. Seventy-five thousand remain displaced, with reconstruction hobbled by both shortfalls in pledged international donations and Israeli restrictions on the import of cement and other necessary building materials.

After devastating much of Gaza’s economic infrastructure, Israel banned both the much needed industrial imports and all but token exports. Since the start of 2016, it has allowed 69,684 truckloads of imports, but only 472 truckloads of exports and a further 108 for transfer to the West Bank. With few means of economic development,unemployment has ballooned to 41 percent, one of the world’s highest rates. Among younger Palestinians, it is even higher.

“Despair has spread among most Gazans, especially the youth who are suffering from the unemployment, which has affected 75 percent,” Al-Dreamly said.

With few signs of improvement in Gaza, most of which still consists of rubble from Israeli shells and airstrikes, further conflict seems inevitable.

As the Women’s Boat to Gaza sails into troubled waters, its participants face clear dangers. Beside the bloodshed on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010, Israel has met other efforts to challenge its blockade with obstructions, such as ramming attacks on boats and capture at sea.

“It took us months to repair her and sail her down to Gaza to break the siege,” Charlie Andreasson told Truthout about the Estelle, a Swedish vessel that attempted to sail to Gaza in 2012. “But the Israelis wanted otherwise and boarded us in international waters, used Tasers, interrogated us and then threw us behind bars.”

Andreasson, an “able seaman” from Gothenburg, Sweden, also sailed on theMarianne, the lead ship of the third Freedom Flotilla in 2015. He also lived in the Gaza Strip for a year in 2014 and 2015.

“The Israeli jailers’ primary goal seemed to be to humiliate, isolate and disempower us, so prisoner solidarity and visible nonviolent resistance was crucial,” Kevin Neish, a retired marine engineer in Victoria, British Columbia told Truthout.

Neish, who was captured by Israeli forces on both the Mavi Marmara and theMarianne, likewise lived in Gaza between the two voyages.

Standing in Solidarity

Women’s Boat to Gaza participants face the threats of violence, detention and deportation with clear, if varied, reasons for their risks.

“I am a playwright,” Naomi Wallace told Truthout. “It’s both my duty and inspiration to engage with and attempt to expose systems that diminish us, like occupation, racism and brutality.”

Wallace, a native of Prospect, Kentucky, has addressed Palestine in three of her plays and worked on other issues including Cuba, facing brief detention by the Department of Homeland Security after openly defying the United States ban on travel to the island in 2007.

“Our taxes arm Israel,” she said. “Our government has been supporting the occupation for decades now.”

Others found inspiration to participate by viewing their country’s history in a different light.

“Irish people coming out of their own experience of violent conflict can identify with the suffering of the people of Gaza living under Israeli siege and occupation,” Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Belfast, told Truthout.

Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her efforts to achieve justice in Northern Ireland.

“The [Women’s Boat to Gaza] is important to be in solidarity with the people of Gaza and let them know the world stands with them in their struggle for the freedom and rights of Gaza and all the Palestinian people,” she said.

In Gaza, Al-Dreamly thinks the boat has already achieved much of its purpose.

“The mere idea of the flotilla raises Gazans’ spirits because they feel that people are standing with and for them,” she said. “They do not only feel their suffering, but also want to help them.”

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