من أجل فلسطين حرة غير مقسمة

Published in Filastin al-Thawra (probably in 1991)

من أجل فلسطين حرة غير مقسمة

الفكرة التي يدافع عنها الكاتب هي أقرب مما تكون إلى التالي إذا كانت ثمة علل بنيوية وإيديولوجية تحول دون إندماج إسرائيل في محيطها الشرق الأوسطي. فما الذي يمنع طلائع الجالية الناطقة بالعبرية في فلسطين من الإنخراط في الثورة الديمقراطية الفلسطينية. ويقول: هذه الرؤيا تبدو بعيدة الآن لكن الوعي يتطور(يتغير) بسرعة.

بقلم: الياس دفيدسون، فلسطين الثورة ١٩٩١

بالرغم من إنني لم أسكن فلسطين منذ كنت صغيراً ولكنني لا أُخفي عواطفي تجاه هذا البلد المُعذب النازف. ولدت سنه ١٩٤١ في فلسطين لأبوين مهاجرين نفيا من ألمانيا النازية. إنني مدين بوجودي لفلسطين. الأرض التي قدمت المأوى لأبوي, التي كان من الممكن أن أُقتل فيها . ولي من العمر أربع سنوات. حينما هاجمت مجموعه عربية غاضبة الحافلة التي كنا نسافر فيها, ولكن تم إنقاذي على يد فلاح عربي عجوز ولطيف. إنني أُفكر في فلسطين وقلبي ينزف على جروحها.

كانت سنواتي الأولى في ”باقة“ وهي ضاحية من ضواحي القدس, حيث كان اليهود والعرب يعيشون جنباً إلى جنب بسلام وكان لعائلتي علاقات جيدة مع العائلات العربية الفلسطينية في الجوار وأنا فخور في أن أقول أن والدتي تعلمت لغة البلد وبالنسبة لي فإنني لم أمسح من ذاكرتي ومن كياني الصور الأصوات الروائح والأحاسيس التي تغلغلت في هذه السن المبكرة, إني أحمل كل هذا الأحدث لنفسي لأجد فيه مصدر إلهام وطاقة حيوية.

لقد أبعدني مسار حياتي عن فلسطين. ولكن وبرغم المسافه البعيدة. فإن ولعي بمسقط رأسي لم يخفت. وإهتماماتي لم تخف في أن أراه يعيش بخير.

مثل معظم الأطفال ”الإسرائيليين“ خضعت في شبابي لجهاز حزبي صهيوني وقضيت سنوات المراهقة في فرنسا حيث إنضممت إلى حركة الشباب الإشتراكي الصهيوني هي ”هاشومير هاتسعير“ وأعجبتني النشاطات في هذه الحركة وسياستها وتأكيدها على الإشتراكية والإجتماعية. وعلى العدالة وعلى الشجاعة المدنية لكن علمونا مبادئ الصهيونية وكانت مهمة المرشدين المبعوثين خصيصاً من إسرائيل تتمثل في أن يجعلوا منا صهاينة صالحين وشددوا على أننا شعب خاص لأننا يهود ولا مكان آخر لنا تحت الشمس سوى فلسطين (كان المبعوثين يسمونها إسرائيل) وكانت الحجة الرئيسية المقدمة هي أن كل اللذين ليسوا يهوداً …. من الصين إلى البيرو ومن فنلندا إلى الكاميرون , يكرهون اليهود. عن قصد او بدون قصد… وعلى ذلك فإنه كان من الساذج خوض نضال ضد العنصرية أو التمييز العادي لليهود. وكان الدعاة هؤلاء لايرون أن مشاعر العداء لليهود او لليهودية متأصلة في شخصية (غير اليهود) وقد إنتقلت, إنتقلت بمعنى ما,بالوراثة من الأب إلى الولد. وفي سعيهم لرفع هذه الأسطورة القذرة إلى حالة القانون الطبيعي. كانوا يقولون لنا : أن الدولة القومية اليهودية وحدها قد تحفظ الأمن الشخصي ”لليهود“ .

من جانبي فإنني عارضت هذه المحاججة. فأنا لا أستطيع قبول هكذا أحكام مسبقة ضد الإنسانية. وتمثلت فلسفتي الخاصة في أن كل شخص لايمكن أن يصدّق ما لم يثبت العكس فيما أن تجربتي الشخصية. خاصة علاقاتي مع غير اليهود تناقضت تماماً مع هذه الأحكام المسبقة.

في ذلك الوقت لم أكن أعرف المرامي العملية للصهيونية  كما هي حقيقة. لكن هذه الرؤيا كانت تٌستقبل برعب من الصهاينة والقادة الدينيين اليهود. الذين يرون في أن الزواج المختلط كارثة على العرق اليهودي, يمكن مقارنتها بقوة مع ـ الهولوكوست ـ ولأنهم يرون في الإختلاط عملية إستيعاب لليهود وكتهديد لوجود الشعب اليهودي فإنه من المنطقي أن يحاولو مجابهة هذا (التهديد) بكل الوسائل المتاحة بما فيها الإرهاب الفكري والجسدي.

إن لازدراء الزعماء الصهاينة التقليدي للثقافات الشرق أوسطية جذوره في الآراء الإستعمارية ـ العنصرية الأوروبية لغير البيض . إذ أن إنخراط إسرائيل في مختلف النشاطات الأوروبية والإستفزازات المدروسة ضد الدول المجاورة والقمع المتطرف ضد الوطنية الفلسطينية ومايبدو لي أنه مرض مرعب يجعل النظام الصهيوني يأبى الدخول في حوار مع م ت ف . ماهي إلا علامات لتصرف غير عقلاني. إنها إشارة واضحة إلى الدول المجاورة والأمة العربية في أن إسرائيل لا ترغب أن تنخرط كعضو عامل. في حياة الشرق الاوسط  وسبق لفلاديمير جابوتنسكي المعلم الإيديولوجي للزعيمين الإرهابيين شمير وبيغن أن رأى في العشرينيات الحاجة في أن يبني المستوطنون الصهاينة حائطاً حديدياً بينهم وبين الفلسطينين سكان البلد الاصليين.

يتوجب عل كل أولئك الذين يصرّون على الحاجة إلى ضمان دولة إسرائيل المبنية على العقيدة والممارسة الصهيونية ان تصبح دولة مسالمة وملتزمة بالقانون بحيث تستطيع أن تنخرط في حياة الشرق الاوسط؟

من جانبي فإنني أعتبر أن النضال من أجل تحرير الجالية الناطقة بالعبرية في فلسطين (أي الإسرائيلين) بمثابة الحل المتطور للمسألة الفلسطينية الممثلة في م ت ف   هي التي تمسك هذا المفتاح وسبق ل م ت ف أن إتخذت إجراءات حذرة في ضم مناضلين ناطقين بالعبرية (إسرائيلين) في صفوفها إن هكذا إجراءات هي هامة لكنها حالات معزولة جداً لاتصنع حالة سياسية.

وينبغي أن نأخذ في حسابنا أن المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني يعتبر نفسه يمثل أولئك الفلسطينيين الذين يعرفون أنفسهم بأنهم عرباً . هكذا فإن الغالبية الساحقة من اليهود الإسرائيلين (الذين أٌفضل أن أسميهم الفلسطينين الناطقين بالعبرية) لا يرون في أنفسهم شركاء مؤثرين في الحركة الفلسطينية لأنهم لم يكونوا فيها مطلقاً. أو لم يدعوا للمشاركة فيها كأعضاء متساوين وهنا فإنني أتحدث أساساً عن أولئك التقدميين الإسرائيلين الذين قد يرغبون في الإنضمام إلى الصفوف إذا أُعطي لهم خيار مشرف لعمل ذلك.

اليوم تمسك الثورة الفلسطينية مفتاح الحل السياسي للقضية الفلسطينية. بينما تعتري الصهيونية حالة من التآكل (الإهتراء) السياسي . إنه من الواجب أن تستخدم الحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية مصداقيتها وسلطتها لبناء مستقبل يسوده السلام والرخاء لإولئك الذين يحبون بلدهم الاصلي فلسطين…. وذلك بدعوة شعب فلسطين بغض النظر عن الدين مكان الإقامة الحالي أو الإنتماء العرقي للمشاركة في الثورة الديمقراطية الفلسطينية وفي رسم أهدافها ووسائل نضالها ويمكن أن تتمكن الثورة الفلسطينية من إيجاد منهج يسهل خوض نضال مشترك لتفكيك الدولة الصهيونية واستبدالها بدولة فلسطينية ديمقراطية موحدة لكل السكان هذه الرؤية تبدو بعيدة الآن لكن الوعي يتطور بسرعة ومن المحتمل أن يستقبل العديد من الإسرائيلين بارتياح الإطار الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني المشترك للكفاح ضد البنيان الصهيوني.

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Real Americans Question 9/11

Real Americans Question 9/11

These days it’s difficult to remember what values the American people share. That’s because the U.S. government does so many things that seem to contradict basic human values. Wars of aggression, torture, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and so many other oppressions have become standard operational procedure for the U.S. government. Those who recognize and seek to correct this system of abuse soon realize that the key to doing so is to reveal the truth behind the primary driver for all of them—the crimes of 9/11.

It’s important to know what makes someone an American and what does not. Here are some examples of what does not make someone an American.

  • Loyalty to the flag
  • Respect for the national anthem
  • Serving in the military or honoring military veterans
  • Paying taxes

A person can do these things to any extent possible and it will not make them any more American than they were before they began. Popular culture and corporate media make every effort to present American patriotism as a sum of these kinds of activities but it is easy to see through that false front.

Only one thing makes someone an American and that is support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States defined Americans as those who are committed to the ideals of the Constitution. To this day, anyone claiming to represent the nation must swear an oath to uphold those ideals.

Each president, when taking office, affirms that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” All congress members must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution.”

All new citizens of the United States and every member of the U.S. military must swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The U.S. Constitution is comprised of articles that spell out the government’s powers and the process of making amendments. It also includes the 27 amendments that exist today. The first ten amendments, ratified four years after the original text, are known as the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. Also, there are the rights to bear arms, to privacy, and to a speedy and public trial. The rejection of cruel and unusual punishment is another basic tenet of the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, virtually every Article and Amendment of the Constitution has been under attack since September 11, 2001. Yet very few people have risen to support or defend it. In fact, many so-called Americans have encouraged assaults on the core American values.

That abuse began with the violation of Article 1 of the Constitution that rejects starting wars of aggression without having been “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Instead of working to determine what actually happened on 9/11 and thereby defend the nation, the Bush Administration immediately invaded Afghanistan, a country that it had planned to invade long before the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen months later, the government invaded Iraq based on what everyone now knows was a pack of lies.

Americans who questioned that anti-American approach were silenced with claims that they were not “supporting the troops” if they did not consent to the growing greed-fueled militarism. The Afghanistan invasion was coupled with the passing of the Patriot Act—an attack on basic Constitutional rights and a failure to preserve those rights as described in Article 2.

In 2006, national polls showed that over one third of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East. At the same time, Americans witnessed a growing list of abuses of their Constitutional rights. These abuses violated the Bill of Rights in nearly every way and were driven by unproven claims about what happened on September 11, 2001.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights described how the Constitution had been shredded based on assumptions about the 9/11 attacks. By then, it had also become clear that the government was actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy (violating Article 3) through arming and training terrorists. One might think it obvious that stopping such actions would be the goal of all Americans but to do so one Congress member has had to spell it out in legislation.

Failing to protect Americans against domestic violence (a violation of Article 4), the FBI was found to actually be manufacturing terrorism. It was further learned that some FBI leaders had been facilitating or sponsoring terrorism since long before 9/11. This practice continues today and the manufactured plots have become so obvious that officials are finding it difficult to explain why Americans should take them seriously.

Attorney and author John W. Whitehead has detailed the continuing attacks on the Bill of Rights by writing that,

“What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.”

The attacks on American values have been so extensive that people often no longer notice how bad it has become. For example, the government has named those captured and tortured in the name of 9/11 as “forever prisoners”—a term that exemplifies the hatred of freedom represented by the new phony Americanism. The fact that one of these men was a central character in building the official account of 9/11 and has since been exonerated for any involvement in those crimes makes no difference.

How can real Americans respond to this ongoing assault against the Constitution by flag-waving, militaristic, greed-driven fools? How can we “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by “bearing true faith and allegiance to the same?”

To end the wave of anti-Americanism that began with the crimes of 9/11, Americans have two options. The first is to stand up publicly and fight the attacks on our Constitution by helping everyone understand that the crimes of 9/11 have not been solved. In fact, there are still so many unanswered questions about those crimes that everything done in “response” is almost certainly a crime in itself.

The second option is to end the tyranny through revolution. This was how America began, of course, and that great beginning is enshrined in the precursor to the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence. At the time, the founders stated that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

As Americans it is our duty to throw off the tyrannical abuses of power that are threatening to end America. That duty starts with questioning 9/11—the driver behind all of it.

My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their Dream Come True

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.776450

My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their
Dream Come True

Yair Svorai Mar 12, 2017 4:37 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “two-state and one-state” pronouncement
last month effectively signaled the demise of the Oslo Agreements – a
significant reversal of the long-established U.S. position, now in
contrast with a near-universal international consensus. It also supports
the continuation of Israel’s colonization of the territories it has
occupied since 1967.

Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the spirit of
occupation-as-usual by demanding “security control” over the entire area
west of the Jordan River, proclaiming, in the words of The Nation’s
Rashid Khalidi, “A permanent regime of occupation and colonization,
ruling out a sovereign independent Palestinian state, whatever fictions
of ‘statehood’ or ‘autonomy’ are dreamed up to conceal this brutal
reality. Trump’s subsequent silence amounts to the blessing of the U.S.
government for this grotesque vision of enduring subjugation and
dispossession for the Palestinians.”

The expansion of Jewish settlement in, and control of, Palestine has
followed a consistent pattern for about 100 years: people replacement –
the replacement of Palestinians by Jews. It is crucial to understand the
timing of such expansion: whenever the opportunity arises. And, for
Israel, Donald J. Trump is a historical opportunity on a grand scale.

In 1907, the leadership of the World Zionist Organization sent Dr.
Arthur Ruppin on a fact-finding mission to Ottoman Palestine. Ruppin, a
German-Jewish economist and lawyer, subsequently developed a plan with
the ultimate goal of establishing Jewish self-rule in Ottoman Palestine,
where Jews were a small minority (between 6 and 9 percent).

The plan included establishing new settlements in such a way that over
time they would form a mass of settlements – Israel’s first settlement
bloc – to be used, much like today, as a geopolitical leveraging tool.

In the following three decades, prior to the Holocaust and before anyone
could imagine the horrific fate awaiting European Jews, the foundation
of the State of Israel was set in place via the creation of elaborate
pre-state institutions, buttressed by small waves of immigrants whose
political orientation ranged from Zionist socialists to right-wing
ultra-nationalists.

Among the latter were my parents, Moshe and Tova Svorai, arriving as
children from Eastern Europe in the early 1920s and belonging to the
most far-right elements of the Zionist movement – Betar and Brit
Habirionim, followed by the Irgun, and then the Lehi (Stern Gang); both
of these were pre-state Jewish terrorist organizations.

In the big-picture sense, left-wing and right-wing Zionists wanted the
same thing – a Jewish state in Palestine. The differences among them
were largely semantic: a matter of political style, timing and competing
approaches on how to reach that goal.

The elephant-in-the-room facing Zionism was – then, as now – ignored:
the land was already populated by Palestinian Arabs, who had been there
for centuries. Ignoring the physical reality, from early on Zionist
terminology was designed to perpetuate the myth of an empty land
awaiting its lost people: “A land without a people for a people without
a land.”

A dunam here and a dunam there

Following the original Ruppin Plan, the expansion of Jewish settlement
started with land acquisitions from absentee Arab landlords, culminating
in a military campaign to drive the native population off its land. As
the old Zionist saying goes, “A dunam here and a dunam there” (a dunam
is approximately equal to a quarter of an acre), whenever the
opportunity arises.

The same opportunistic vigor was used to remove the Palestinian people
from what was soon to become Israel.

The best known milestone in the removal of the Arab population was the
Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948, conducted by Irgun and Lehi
forces, designed to scare Palestinians and cause them to flee their
homes, towns and villages.

Israel’s War of Independence consisted of other massacres, too. The war
itself followed Plan Dalet (Plan D), carefully developed by the
“moderate,” mainstream Haganah leadership to expand the territory of the
future state beyond the UN Partition Plan and to remove as much of
Palestine’s Arab population as possible. Then, as now, the goal of the
Jewish state has been to maximize its land area and to minimize the
Palestinian-Arab population residing in it.

This was the Nakba, the catastrophe – a term used by the Palestinian
people to describe the loss of their homeland: the disappearance of
entire communities totaling some 750,000 people, who were forced out of
their country. Post-1948 Palestine was a drastically changed land: about
500 Palestinian towns and villages had been emptied of their
inhabitants, their homes mostly razed and their lands divided among the
Jewish kibbutzim (communal farms) and villages.

The term Nakba, which is central to Palestinian nationhood as much as
the Holocaust is for Jews and slavery is for African-Americans, is
shunned by most Israeli Jews for obvious reasons: Even the mere
implication of responsibility for the Nakba war crimes is unacceptable.

Those Palestinians who managed to remain, now known as “1948
Palestinians,” were placed under military rule, with their basic civil
rights – such as the freedom to assemble, travel and claim their
properties – removed. In addition, most of their lands were confiscated
by the newly created Jewish state and transferred to kibbutzim and villages.

Military rule lasted until 1966 and assured that the dispossession of
the Palestinians could be carried out in a well-organized and highly
controlled manner – “a dunam here and a dunam there” – with the remnants
of the subject population confined to specific territories, in many
cases restricted to their villages, homes or jail cells.

‘This will belong to us’

The Green Line – the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the West
Bank of Jordan – followed the line of Jewish settlements put in place
during the 1920s-’40s, in close adherence to the Ruppin Plan. It is
probably the first example of how “facts on the ground” proved to be
crucial for the success of the Zionist project, something that Ruppin
appreciated possibly before anyone else.

But the old Green Line was irregular and left a great deal of fertile,
hilly land on the other side. And then there was Jerusalem, whose
eastern parts, including Temple Mount, were also on the other side of
that border. Standing with my parents near the Montefiore Windmill in
the early ’60s, looking at the Old City on the other side of the
then-border, I vividly remember my astonished reaction to hearing my
mother say, “One day, this too will belong to us.” She was soon to be
proved right.

The swift military victory of the 1967 war offered an unprecedented
opportunity for Israel to expand in all directions. Jerusalem was the
nationalist-religious pinnacle; even more importantly, the last
remaining parts of old Palestine were now there for the taking – the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, totaling 22 percent of historic Palestine.
Ditto the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights, and Sinai (which was
subsequently returned to Egypt under a separate “peace agreement”
following the 1973 war).

Since 1967, under the so-called “moderate” and “extreme” Israeli
governments led by the Labor and Likud parties, some 130 settlements and
100 outposts have been established in the West Bank, with a population
of some 400,000 Jewish settlers. Additionally, some 200,000 Israelis
live in East Jerusalem.

Any relocation of the occupier’s population into occupied territories,
whether into government-established settlements or so-called “rogue”
outposts, is considered illegal according to international law and
conventions.

When they were in their 60s, my own parents were among the founders of a
settlement in the northern West Bank, where they spent the rest of their
days. They were firm believers in the absolute and exclusive right of
the Jewish people to its biblical homeland, and remained committed to
making their personal contribution to their cause to the very end.

They were guided by Lehi’s “18 Principles of Rebirth” essay, which
defined biblical Israel as starting at the Nile and reaching to the
Euphrates River – a vast territory that includes parts of Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, most of Jordan and Syria, and all of Lebanon.
Incidentally, a large number of Israeli right-wingers, among them
Netanyahu and members of his government, admire Lehi and its principles
– including, at least in spirit, its territorial desires.

Immediately after the 1967 war, the Syrian population of the Golan
Heights (some 130,000 people) was forced out by Israel, 1948-style,
leaving the territory largely empty for Israeli colonization to take
root. Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights followed in 1981.
(Netanyahu is now seeking U.S. recognition from Trump of Israeli
sovereignty over the Golan Heights.)

Erasing the past

And the Nakba continued. The initial period after the 1967 war included
a number of known cases where West Bank villagers were expelled from
their homes by an Israeli military command attributed to Gen. Yitzhak
Rabin. Among them were the villages of Imwas, Yalo and Bayt Nuba in the
Latrun area, which were subsequently razed. (I visited the three
destroyed villages in August 1967. There was very little left other than
broken stones and fruit trees bursting with fruit left unpicked by
villagers, now turned refugees.) In an attempt to eradicate the villages
from history and erase them from public memory, the victors attempted to
conceal their crimes by planting a recreational forest, named Canada
Park, on the land formerly owned and cultivated by these villagers – a
concealment method that had been used before.

As for the rest of the West Bank, in a slow process that has lasted
nearly 50 years – and which continues to this day – the Palestinian
population has been stripped of much of its land and pushed into
Bantustan-like areas surrounded by Jewish settlements. The territory is
now dissected into enclaves designed by Israel to assure a discontinuity
of Palestinian land, thereby guaranteeing that a viable Palestinian
state cannot be established.

“Facts on the ground” work in both directions: the presence of one
population (Jewish) and the absence of another (Palestinian). Now, most
of the Jordan Valley has been cleared of the Palestinian population; in
hamlets of the poorest population – the Hebron Hills Bedouin – families
are routinely uprooted and forced out of their shacks.

And throughout the West Bank, bit by bit, “a dunam here and a dunam
there,” Palestinians are forced out by Jews. Houses are demolished, land
is taken or its cultivation is prevented; olive groves are uprooted by
settler thugs with full impunity, under the watchful gaze of Israel’s
occupation army – euphemistically called the Israel Defense Forces. And
Israeli government policy greatly restricts Palestinians in the West
Bank from using their land and natural resources, especially water
required to cultivate crops.

Thus, while Israeli settlements enjoy unrestricted water usage with lawn
sprinklers galore, Palestinian farmers who dig out a 10-foot-long
(3-meter) trench to collect and divert rainwater into a field or
vegetable garden risk punishment and the destruction of their fields and
gardens.

And the Nakba continues. A similar crackdown on Israel’s Palestinian
citizens takes place with predictable regularity along similar patterns
– as witnessed most recently by the destruction of the Bedouin village
of Umm al-Hiran, whose population is to be corralled elsewhere in the
Negev and its lands designated for a new Jewish settlement. The more
things change, the more they stay the same.

This is a very short list of the evils of Israel’s occupation – all of
this, and much more, has been widely reported over the past five
decades, and documented in great detail by UN agencies, multiple
international aid organizations, foreign consulate staff and local civic
organizations, both Palestinian and Israeli. (The death and destruction
in Gaza, its collapsed infrastructure, economy, essential public health
facilities, child nutrition and basic resources of livelihood require
separate coverage.)

The Oslo II (“Taba”) Agreement divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and
C – a division that is used by Israel to divide and rule, confine and
control the local Palestinian population.

The experience of 1948 and the early years of statehood have proven most
beneficial to Zionist colonialism. A slow and methodical acquisition of
land, this time by means that are entirely illegal, coupled with
strategic removal and confinement of the Palestinian population,
resulted in settlement blocs – vast land areas that are largely
Arab-free and a network of highways, other infrastructure projects and
state institutions serving the Jewish-only settlements.

This is nothing short of new-age apartheid, where the indigenous
population is not only of no value to its colonial masters – not even as
a source of cheap labor – but it is essential for the success of the
colonial project that it be removed: the more of “them” that are gone,
the better off “we” are. That people-removal process is called ethnic
cleansing, which is a crime against humanity under the statute of the
International Criminal Court.

All of this has been carried out mostly in plain view, under the world’s
watchful eye. It has also been made possible and indirectly funded by
the United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike
– notwithstanding outgoing President Barack Obama’s lame-duck UN
Security Council non-veto move, and various U.S. declarations about
Israeli settlements being “a threat to peace,” or making it “almost
impossible … to create a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state.”
Both true, but meaningless.

Despite the rhetoric, the United States has been the primary enabler of
Israel’s occupation: military aid (currently $38 billion over the next
10 years), including the very latest technologies, and close military
coordination; tax exemptions for donations to Israel, including to
organizations that fund settlements; global diplomatic protection; and
the lending of legitimacy to a state whose actions would have otherwise
made it a global pariah long ago.

Thus, under the guise of a never-ending “peace process,” the United
States has acted as a dishonest broker and purveyor of broken promises,
e.g., a “two-state solution” where the territory of the imagined state
is eaten up by the other, already existing regional-superpower state
while “peace talks” continue. It’s like the pizza analogy where two
parties engage in lengthy negotiations over the splitting of a pie,
while one of them keeps eating the slices. Over these past 50 years, the
United States has facilitated the replacement of the Palestinian people,
bit by bit, one dunam and one person at a time, as Israel grabs every
opportunity that arises, paid for by Uncle Sam.

For Israel, the election of Trump to the highest office in the land
presents a historical opportunity on a grand scale to accelerate both
settlement expansion and the process of people replacement.

Never before has a U.S. president expressed such unbridled support for
an Israeli government – especially one that is widely seen as the most
right-wing, aggressive Israeli government ever.

In light of the new opportunity, the Israeli government has unleashed a
wave of settlement construction permits in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem – so far totaling about 6,000 homes for Jewish settlers – and
announced the creation of a new settlement.

In addition, a new law allowing the confiscation of privately held
Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlements was recently
passed. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained in The National, “In
practice, there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian
land. But now Israeli government support for the plunder will be
explicit in law.” The Nakba continues, vigorously.

Reality could not be much uglier and the future could not look much
bleaker – most especially for Palestinians, but also for Israeli Jews.
As Haaretz writer and occupation expert Amira Hass noted, “It’s hard to
admit that the Zionist ideology and its product – Israel – have created
a thieving, racist, arrogant monster that robs water and land and
history, that has blood on its hands under the excuse of security, that
for decades has been deliberately planning today’s dangerous Bantustan
reality, on both sides of the Green Line.”

Perhaps hard to admit, but crucially important to recognize.

The writer, a former Israeli, has lived in the United States for 45 years.

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

MK Ahmad Tibi compares Yisrael Beiteinu head’s vision to a ‘Jewish ISIS’; foreign minister also reiterates support for transfer.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

Ha’aretz, 9.3.2015

Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the State of Israel should have their heads chopped off, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at an elections conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya this week.

“Whoever’s with us should get everything – up to half the kingdom,” Lieberman said Sunday, in a reference to King Ahaseurus’ pledge to Queen Esther as described in the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the Purim holiday celebrated last week.

But Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the state deserve a different fate, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu said at the “Voting for Democracy – 2015 Elections” election conference, Channel 2 News reported.

“Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head,” Lieberman said. “Otherwise we won’t survive here.”

Prominent Israeli Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, who is No. 4 on the Arab parties’ Joint List ticket, suggested a situation like that described by Lieberman would result in a Jewish version of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Joint List “will remove racists’ and fascists’ heads only through democratic means – bringing as many [Knesset] seats as possible and active participation in the election,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Tibi as saying Monday. “The stronger we are, the weaker the Jewish Islamic State will be.”

Lieberman also reiterated his position advocating the transfer of at least some of Israel’s Arab citizens.

“There is no reason for Umm al-Fahm to be part of the State of Israel,” Lieberman said about a northern Israeli town populated by Arab citizens of Israel, according to the Channel 2 report. “Citizens of the State of Israel who raise a black flag on Nakba Day – from my perspective, they can leave, and I’m very happily willing to donate them to Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

The corruption of Judaism: Sacralisation of a wall

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.774093

Over 1,000 Religious Girls Bused to Western Wall to Overpower Feminist Activists’ Prayer

Orthodox high school girls leave school to shout down Women of the Wall during prayer services at Jerusalem’s Western Wall; Police separate groups, restricting confrontations to verbal attacks.
Judy Maltz Feb 27, 2017 6:41 PM

Women of the Wall was forced to hold its monthly prayer service behind barricades on Monday morning, as busloads of Orthodox high school girls from around the country descended on the Western Wall as part of a show of force against the feminist prayer group.

According to police estimates, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 Orthodox high school girls, many of them from schools affiliated with the national religious Bnei Akiva movement, filled up the women’s section of the Western Wall. The girls were bused in by Liba, an extreme right-wing organization behind a new campaign to force the government to repeal its plan to create a new egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall for the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as Women of the Wall.

Among the girls taken out of schools to participate in the protest were students from several West Bank settlements.

Police set up the barricade in order to prevent confrontations between the two praying groups in the women’s section. About 120 women participated in the Women of the Wall morning service marking the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar. Their service also included a Bat Mitzvah ceremony for an Israeli girl.

Asked about the purpose of their visit to the Western Wall, a student from one of the religious high schools, who asked that her name not be published, pointed at the Women of the Wall group situated behind the barricades, and said: “We have come to pray that they are ousted from here.”

While many of the girls prayed quietly, others heckled the Women of the Wall worshippers, several shouting at them: “You are animals. You are animals.”

Outside the women’s section, a large group of ultra-Orthodox male protestors congregated, cursing members of Women of the Wall as they entered the holy site. “Wicked women,” they shouted. “You are not Jewish. You are Christian.”

Susan Silverman, a Reform rabbi and the sister of celebrity comedian Sarah Silverman, was kicked in the shin by an ultra-Orthodox demonstrator on her way into the barricaded area. Silverman is a member of the board of Women of the Wall.

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The prayer service was delayed about 20 minutes because of scrupulous inspections conducted at the security checkpoint at the entrance to the Western Wall. Police requested that all visitors open their coats and empty their bags at the checkpoint. A suitcase bearing special Women of the Wall prayer books was confiscated for about 30 minutes so that each prayer book could be inspected individually.

Inside the prayer areas, the noise reached deafening levels as religious worshippers tried to drown out the sounds of Women of the Wall praying and singing. Several ultra-Orthodox women blew loud whistles, as they held up signs denigrating the feminist worshippers. These whistle-blowers make a regular practice of disturbing Women of the Wall worshippers during their monthly prayer service. Police typically do not interfere with their noisemaking.

Meanwhile, in the men’s section, the morning prayer service was blasted through loudspeakers, creating even further commotion.

As Women of the Wall exited the area at the completion of their service, a human barricade of police officers stood between them and angry ultra-Orthodox protesters, many of them delivering verbal threats against the feminist worshippers.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Police said that despite the tense atmosphere at this morning’s prayer services, they ended without any unusual incidents or arrests. “Our preparations, together with those of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, allowed Women of the Wall to hold its prayer service in the women’s section as it does every month, despite the large number of high school girls praying there this morning,” said Galit Ziv, the spokeswoman. (The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is responsible for decorum at the holy site.)

Liba, which operates in collaboration with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, last week launched a video campaign condemning the government plan to create a special egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall under the slogan: “The Kotel is the heart of the nation – a heart cannot be split.” The video concluded with a call to supporters to come to the Western Wall for the Rosh Chodesh prayer service to “stop contempt of the Kotel.”

Liba, which describes its mission as “preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel,” recently published a report claiming to show ties between Reform Judaism and the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Responding to the scene at the Western Wall this morning, Izhar Hess, executive director of the Conservative movement in Israel, said the busloads of students brought to the site “simply to disrupt Women of the Wall” is proof of “how much the ultra-Orthodox right wing has taken over the government’s agenda.”

“I call on Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to summon immediately the principals of those girls schools that sent their students to this political demonstration,” he said, “and I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to implement the plan for an egalitarian space once and for all to prevent such scenes of hatred at the Western Wall every month.”

The government approved the plan for an egalitarian space in January 2016, but under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Netanyahu has failed to follow through with it. The non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall have take their case to the Supreme Court, where it is now pending.

Book review: Wayne Madsen’s crank science

Wayne Madsen’s crank science

Book review: The Star and the Sword (self-publication, 2014)

By Elias Davidsson, 24.2.2017

Wayne Madsen introduces himself as a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist. According to the blurb on the back cover of his book he writes: “This book, for the first time, suggests that both Israel and Saudi Arabia were intimately involved in planning and carrying the 9/11 attack on the United States.” They did so, writes Madsen “in order to plunge America into endless conflicts to bolster the positions of Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

First impression: For a provocative book of almost 250 pages, the author provides 136 footnotes, thereof 21 references to the author’s own articles, 13 to “confidential sources.”  The book contains an index. It surprisingly does not contain a number of names that one would have expected in such a book, such as that of Larry Silverstein, Dov Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz.

Far from rejecting the official account on 9/11, Madsen imputes the attacks to Arab hijackers. On p. 5 he refers to the presence of Israelis “in the same neighborhoods where a number of the 9/11 Saudi hijackers lived and trained at flight schools.” On p. 9 he again refers to the presence of “9/11 hijackers” in southern Florida. On p. 10 he refers to “Al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters”. On p. 11 he cites anonymous agents who believe that “the real mission of the Israelis was not to sell art at federal facilities but to spy on the Al Qaeda members.” On p. 32 he claims that on the evening of September 10, 2001, “the four men who would, the following day, hijack United Flight 93” had a good time in a New Jersey strip club called ‘Lace.’ On p. 33 he mentions unreleased video tapes from a video store “showing Saudi hijackers.” On p. 34 he maintains that the passenger list from a Sept. 5 cruise on a boat owned by Jack Abramoff “matched those of some of the hijackers.”  On p. 36 he claims that the wife of Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States “used money […] to pay for lodging one of the 9/11 hijackers.”  On p. 47 he refers to a box cutter, “the same brand used by the 9/11 hijackers”.  On p. 69 he claims that Mohand Al-Shehri was “one of the terrorist hijackers of United Flight 175”.  On p. 100 he names several persons, including Mohammed Atta, as participants in the attacks of 9/11.  On p. 105 he again designates Mohammed Atta as an 9/11 hijacker. In his summary chapter, on p. 238, he again claims that “Arab cells” carried out the 9/11 attacks.

The author appears unaware of the contradiction in attributing the 9/11 attacks to Al Qaeda operatives (who allegedly went gladly to their death after spending the evening whoring in a strip joint) while concentrating on the alleged responsibility of Israel and Saudi Arabia in the attacks. On p. 207 the author appears to entertain some afterthoughts, writing: “It was learned from a Pentagon source that leading Americans tied to the media effort to pin 9/11 on Arab hijackers, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban were present in the Israeli embassy on September 10, 2001, to coordinate their media blitz for the subsequent days and weeks following the attacks.” Note, however, the conjectural formulation by the author (“It was learned”, “a Pentagon source”, “leading Americans” “tied to the media effort”, “were present”): No names, no specific facts, no sources. This kind of style pervades the entire book. Please be forewarned.

In attempting to lambast the State of Israel, the author includes in his book various episodes, which bear no relation to the attacks of 9/11. Thus he devotes 12 pages to Mossad’s alleged surveillance of domestic U.S. telecommunications, 58 pages to an alleged “coordinated global Mossad operations and bogus passports” scam run between 2003 and 2005, 32 pages to a variety of alleged Mossad operations in Houston, California and elsewhere in the United States between 2004 and 2010.  Whether and if so, to what extent the information the author presents on Israeli machinations is accurate and representative, is besides the point. For the present purpose, it suffices to note that these incidents, whatever their nature, do not present even circumstantial evidence of Israel’s (let alone Saudi Arabia’s) complicity in 9/11. Had the author presented his book as an indictment of Israeli crimes, he would equally fall the test of scientific quality because of the dubious quality of the evidence he presents and the relative irrelevance of the incidents he imputes to Israel (in comparison to far more grievous violations of international law and human rights by that State).

With many words, the author attempts to prove that the “revelations” about the Israeli “art students” and the “dancing Israelis” had been the result of upright whistleblowers who were “frustrated” by their superiors of the DEA and the FBI who leaked information to the media. This explanation does not hold water. Mainstream media, even if presented with explosive information, do not normally touch it with a mile-long pole, unless publicizing it conforms to editorial policy. The large publicity given by media to the stories of the Israeli “art students” and that of the “dancing Israelis” suggests that doing conformed, for some undeclared reason, with a pro-Israeli policy.. The fact that Fox News, a staunchly right-wing pro-Israel media house, published a four-part series on the Israeli “art students” is indicative of this reasoning.

For experts on 9/11 who read Wayne Madsen’s book, the question is not whether it possesses any evidentiary value. It definitely has little or none. The question is rather whether the author is simply incompetent or whether his book represents deliberate disinformation aimed at maintaining in the mind of a certain public the “red herring” of Israel and/or Saudi responsibility for 9/11.  The shabby quality of the book suggests rather the former answer. But I may be wrong.

The Disturbing Alliance Between Zionists and Anti-Semites

http://forward.com/opinion/363545/the-disturbing-alliance-between-zionists-and-anti-semites/
Opinion

The Disturbing Alliance Between Zionists and Anti-Semites

Suzanne Schneider, Forward (New York), February 19, 2017

Between the congressional hearing for David Friedman, the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Trump’s refusal to address the rising tide of anti-Semitism, it’s been a tense time within the American Jewish community. For those on the right, Trump’s abandonment of the two-state solution, much like Friedman’s nomination, comes as an assurance that the new administration will firmly commit itself to an expansionist form of Zionism. And along with the presence of Jared Kushner within the President’s inner circle, keeping Friedman and Bibi in the wings is taken by many as a signal that Trump is not really an anti-Semite, despite surrounding himself with figures of questionable persuasion. According to this logic, the strong commitment by Trump and Steve Bannon to Israel undermines any suggestion that they harbor antipathy toward Jews. Yet, for many centrists and liberals, the idea of Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon working together causes endless confusion: How could the descendent of Holocaust survivors find common cause with the ideological leader of the alt-right?

The answer may lie in the history of the Zionist movement, a history which demonstrates that there is no inherent contradiction between Zionism and anti-Semitism. The two ideologies have in fact often worked in concert to achieve their shared goal: concentrating Jews in one place (so as to better avoid them in others). Even before the modern Zionist movement arose in the late 19th century, Christian philosophers and statesmen debated what to do with the “oriental” mass of Jewry in their midst. As the scholar Jonathan Hess of the University of North Carolina has noted, one “solution” popular among Enlightenment figures who harbored anti-Semitic feelings was to deport Jews to a colonial setting where they could be reformed. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, among the founders of German Idealism, noted in 1793 that the most effective protection Europeans could mount against the Jewish menace was to “conquer the holy land for them and send them all there.”

Indeed, Zionism crystallized as a political movement among European Jews explicitly to solve the problem of political anti-Semitism. For Zionist pioneers like Leo Pinsker and Theodor Herzl, anti-Semitism was an inevitable phenomenon that would occur at any time and place where Jews were a sizable minority. Normal relations with other nations could only be established by moving Jews to a place where they were a majority. Thus rather than pushing contemporary states and societies to devise new ways of accommodating difference, Zionist thinkers of Herzl’s generation ascribed to the logic that the Jewish “problem” could only be settled by removing Jews from European states.

The idea that Jews belong not in their actual place of residence and origin, but in the Holy Land, was of course not a position that all Zionists ascribed to, either then or now. Yet it is not hard to see the very problematic logic that links such assertions to the sort of blood-and-soil nationalism that led to the destruction of European Jewish life. Nazism of course grew out of this context and insisted that Jews could never really be German. The Nazis, however, took this conclusion to a radically new place: it was ultimately extermination, rather than resettlement, that drove the Nazi position.

Though the scope of destruction was not yet known in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, many nevertheless find it astounding that there were attempts by right-wing Zionists during these years to establish ties with Nazi Germany. Numerous scholars have noted the fascist sympathies of certain members of the Revisionist Zionist camp, who bitterly feuded with mainstream Zionists and denounced them as Bolsheviks. The antipathy was apparently mutual, as David Ben-Gurion in 1933 published a work that described Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist movement, as treading in the footsteps of Hitler. The Zionist Right’s flirtation with fascism reached its tragic peak in 1941 when Lehi, Avraham Stern’s paramilitary splinter group, approached Otto Von Hentig, a German diplomat, to propose cooperation between the nationally rooted Hebraic movement in Palestine and the German state. Nazi Germany declined his generous offer, having stumbled across quite a different “solution” to the question of Jewish existence.

It has been with this history in mind that I approach contemporary debates about Donald Trump’s presidency and the alliance it fosters between members of the white nationalist “alt-right” on one hand, and a certain segment of American Jews, on the other. The argument that the latter should work with the former because they all share a commitment to “Greater Israel” belies the fact that not all allies, or alliances, are created equal. When Richard Spencer voices his admiration of Zionism (because, in his understanding, the movement stands first and foremost for racial homogeneity), we should realize that this is not incidental to his suggestion that America might be better off with a peaceful ethnic cleansing of those population segments that are not of white, European descent. Do American Jews really believe that they will pass muster within such a state? And are the swastikas and other acts of intimidation that have been so abundant since Trump’s victory really just peaceful incentives to realize that our true home is in a land far, far away?

The answer must be a resounding “no.”

Jewish life flourishes in pluralistic societies within which difference is not a “problem” to be resolved, but a fact to be celebrated. The alliance of right-wing Zionists and the alt-right should not be viewed as an abnormality, but the meeting of quite compatible outlooks that assert — each in their own way—that the world will only be secure once we all retreat to our various plots of ancestral land. Nationalist thinking of this sort wrought more than its fair share of damage during the twentieth century. Let’s not enact a repeat performance in the twenty-first.

Suzanne Schneider is a historian of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Zionist movement, and a director and core faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.
The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

Gabriel Weimann, Terrorism in Cyberspace (Book Review)

Gabriel Weimann, Terrorism in Cyberspace, Woodrow Wilson Center Press & Columbia University Press, 2015

Book Review by Elias Davidsson, 2 December 2016

The author’s book is presented by Bruce Hoffman, who wrote the introduction, as embodying “the hallmarks of Weimann’s decades of scholarship: presenting a comprehensive, thoughtful, and sober analysis – supported by voluminous empirical evidence and trenchant, revealing examples.” Gabriel Weimann’s book does not deserve such ode. One of the elementary tasks of a scholar is to substantiate the facts he or she is presenting by attaching to factual claims verifiable and trustworthy evidence. Another elementary task of scholarly writing is to refrain from omitting relevant facts. As shown below, Weimann’s book represents a collection of unsubstantiated claims and negligent omissions. His book lacks therefore scholarly value. Bruce Hoffman’s book on terrorism, is incidentally the subject of a review by myself.

The following are merely selections from Weimann’s unsubstantiated claims and negligent omissions, with the page number indicated:

p. 4: “Today, all terrorist organisations, large or small, have their own websites, Facebook pages, or uploaded Youtube videos” [The author failed, upon my written request, to indicate a single URL for such website]

p. 5: “Al-Qaeda core have publicly discouraged sympathisers from travelling to conflict zones in order to join them.” [The author does not provide any evidence for such call by Al-Qaeda]

The author provides on p. 9 the following explanation how he and his team succeeded to locate terrorist websites: “To locate the online terrorist websites, frequent systematic scans of the internet were conducted using the various keywords and names of organisations in the database [that preexisted the search for these organisations…] First, the standard search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo!, Bing) were used. The Internet is a dynamic arena: websites emerge and disappear, change addresses, or are reformatted [Note the passive language, as if no traceable human beings make these changes]. Years of monitoring the terrorist presence online has provided information on how to locate their new sites, how to search in chatrooms and forums of supporters and sympathisers for the new ‘addresses’ and how to use links in other organisations’ websites to update existing lists. This was often a Sisyphean effort, especially since in certain instances – for instance, al-Qadea’s sites – the location and the contents of the sites changed almost daily.” [Going by this explanation, only people like him – and not ordinary young Muslims – can through “Sisyphean efforts” locate jihadi sites whose location “changes almost daily”.  One is entitled to ask: Who has a motive to create a “jihadi” website and delete it almost immediately, if not those intending to prove that such websites exist but do not wish anyone to examine these sites?]

p. 10: “In 2003 there were more than 2,600 terrorist websites. The number rose dramatically, and by October 2013, the project archive contained more than 9,600 websites serving terrorists and their supporters.” [For these claims, the author provides not a shred of evidence, nor does he explain what is included by the term “terrorist websites”.]

p. 21: “The anonymity of the internet is very attractive for modern terrorists.” [The author fails to explain why anonymity is attractive to organisations that allegedly seek members and sympathizers. The author fails to mention that anonymity is absolutely necessary for intelligence agencies whose agents impersonate jihadists].

p. 22: “An abundance of more sophisticated measures and technologies also increase the difficulty of identifying the originator, recipient, or content of terrorist online communications. These include encryption tools, and anonymising software that are readily available online for download.” [What would organisations seeking members and sympathizers gain by concealing their identity? Concealing one’s identity would be, however, absolutely necessary for agents of intelligence services who impersonate Islamists. The author neglects to mention this fact]

p. 28: “On its website, AQIM published a computer game called ‘Muslim Mali’, in which players operate a military aircraft carrying AQIM’s black flag to attack and destroy French aircraft in the Sahara.” [The author does not indicate the webpage and no source for this claim is given]

p. 30: “In the planned attempt by terrorists to blow up fuel tanks at New Yorks’s John F. Kennedy International airport in 2007, court records indicate that the plotters utilised Google Earth to obtain detailed aerial photographs of their intended target.” [The author fails to mention that this “planned attempt” was led by an FBI informant]

p. 30: “‘It is not necessary […] for you to join a military training camp, or to travel to another country […] you can learn alone, or with other brothers, in [our arms] preparation program”, al-Qaeda leader Abu Hajir al-Muqrin announced in 2004.”  [The author mentioned earlier the difficulty in locating jihadi websites. Now he claims that wannabe terrorists do not need to travel to another country but can “learn alone”, presumably from websites whose locations “change almost daily”. The author does not provide the source for this alleged announcement.]

p. 31: “In November 2008, the SITE Intelligence Group reported that al-Nusra Media Battalion, a jihadist media group, had compiled into a single file a collection of explosives manuals totalling over a thousand pages and posted the file on jihadist forums.”  [SITE Intelligence Group, run by Rita Katz, an Israeli, Zionist, woman, is certainly no impartial source on Islamic terrorism. SITE does not provide evidence that a jihadist media group by the name of al-Nusra Media Battalion at all exists. The author does not mention the possibility that this “jihadist media group” might be located in the offices of Mossad, CIA or in Hollywood.]

p. 32-3: “The eleventh issue of Inspire published online in June 2013, devoted almost all of its forty-odd pages to glorifying what it calls the BBB: the “Blessed Boston bombings”. …The main takeaway from the June 2013 issue is that its editors are unabashedly pleased that copies of their magazine were found in the Tsarnaev brothers’ home.” [The author does not provide the source for this allegedly jihadi magazine – Inspire – whose publisher has no name, address, phone number or website]

p.33: “Al-Qaeda operatives relied heavily on the Internet for the planning and coordination of the 9/11 attacks.  Numerous messages that had been posted in a password-protected area of a website were found by federal officials on the computer of arrested AQ terrorist Abu Zubaydah, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks.” [The author appears to be completely ignorant about the 9/11 attacks. First, there is no evidence, whatsoever, that Al Qaeda operatives planned, coordinated or carried out these attacks (see my book Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11 for details). This fact alone disqualifies the author from claiming the title of a scholar. Second, not even the US government has claimed that Abu Zubaydah has masterminded the 9/11 attacks. According to the official US legend, which in turn is fraudulent, the 9/11 attacks were masterminded by one Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who allegedly confessed from his prison in Guantánamo to have mastermind 9/11 as well as some other 30 terrorist plots, including an attempt on the life of the pope. The U.S government has shown no inclination to have him tried and sentenced]

p. 33-4: “Mohammed Atta’s final message to the other 18 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks is reported to have read: ‘The semester begins in three more weeks. We’ve obtained 19 confirmations for studies in the faculty of law, the faculty of urban planning, the faculty of fine arts, and the faculty of engineering’ (quoted in Fouda and Fielding, 2003, 140)” [The author cites controversial authors, who in turn have provided no credible source for this bizarre message. No official source is known to have corroborated the above claim.]

p. 34: “Following a popular business trend, many [terrorists] have turned to e-commerce, selling CDs, DVDs, T-shirts, and books as a means of raising cash.” [The author fails to produce a single concrete and verifiable example of such commerce]

p. 34: “Many terrorist organisations have added links to their sites which advise visitors on how to donate funds electronically via bank transfer.”  [The author fails to produce a single concrete and verifiable example of such attempts at collecting money]

p. 35: “The terrorists who carried out the July 7, 2005 attacks on the London transportation system were also self-financed, in part through credit card fraud.” [The author does not provide any reference to his claim that the alleged authors of the London attacks engaged in credit card fraud. The author omits to mention that the official account of the London bombings is disputed]

p. 37: According to the author Osama bin Laden remarked in 2002: “It is obvious that the media war in this century is one of the strongest methods; in fact, its ratio may reach 90% of the total preparation for the battles.” [The author does not cite any verifiable source for this alleged remark by Osama bin Laden. This statement would not either make any sense, as neither bin Laden nor “Al Qaeda” owned any media with which to prepare a battle]

p. 40: “The most visible part of AQ’s online presence involves the spread of propaganda, which is created by the group’s media production branch, As-Sahab. [The author does not produce any concrete evidence that this “media production branch” exists.]  “This organisation uses modern technology and semiprofessional hardware to produce its video statements and distribute them worldwide.”[The author presents no source for these claims] “Al Qaeda also operates radio and television broadcasting online along with its online production facility, the GIMF, one of Al Qaeda’s mouthpiece groups.” [The author produces no evidence for this claim, either. A German court revealed, incidentally, that GIMF was a joint venture between the FBI, SITE Intelligence Group and German intelligence (BND), who bamboozled a handful of gullible young German Muslims to play around with jihadist materials that they posted on the internet under the name GIMF. The operative behind this scam was revealed as Joshua Devon, Rita Katz’s husband, and employee of SITE Intelligence Group. According to German media scholar Sabine Schiffer, German intelligence (BND) tasked SITE with this scam. These young people did not produce videos but merely posted videos they got from…somewhere. After being entrapped, they were arrested, tried and sentenced, and ensured the production of news reports about the continuous threat of terrorism.]

p. 45: “A simple search for jihadi videos on YouTube, will reveal hundreds of AQ video clips.”  [The author fails to refer to a single example of a video clip on Youtube that is produced by the ubiquitous Al Qaeda, an outfit specialized in promoting the fear from Islam]

The Anti-Empire Report #147

The Anti-Empire Report #147

By William Blum – Published November 30th, 2016

What can go wrong?

That he may not be “qualified” is unimportant.

That he’s never held a government or elected position is unimportant.

That on a personal level he may be a shmuck is unimportant.

What counts to me mainly at this early stage is that he – as opposed to dear Hillary – is unlikely to start a war against Russia. His questioning of the absolute sacredness of NATO, calling it “obsolete”, and his meeting with Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an outspoken critic of US regime-change policy, specifically Syria, are encouraging signs.

Even more so is his appointment of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser. Flynn dined last year in Moscow with Vladimir Putin at a gala celebrating RT (Russia Today), the Russian state’s English-language, leftist-leaning TV channel. Flynn now carries the stigma in the American media as an individual who does not see Russia or Putin as the devil. It is truly remarkable how nonchalantly American journalists can look upon the possibility of a war with Russia, even a nuclear war.

(I can now expect a barrage of emails from my excessively politically-correct readers about Flynn’s alleged anti-Islam side. But that, even if true, is irrelevant to this discussion of avoiding a war with Russia.)

I think American influence under Trump could also inspire a solution to the bloody Russia-Ukraine crisis, which is the result of the US overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government in 2014 to further advance the US/NATO surrounding of Russia; after which he could end the US-imposed sanctions against Russia, which hardly anyone in Europe benefits from or wants; and then – finally! – an end to the embargo against Cuba. What a day for celebration that will be! Too bad that Fidel won’t be around to enjoy it.

We may have other days of celebration if Trump pardons or in some other manner frees Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and/or Edward Snowden. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton would do this, but I think there’s at least a chance with the Donald. And those three heroes may now enjoy feeling at least a modicum of hope. Picture a meeting of them all together on some future marvelous day with you watching it on a video.

Trump will also probably not hold back on military actions against radical Islam because of any fear of being called anti-Islam. He’s repulsed enough by ISIS to want to destroy them, something that can’t always be said about Mr. Obama.

International trade deals, written by corporate lawyers for the benefit of their bosses, with little concern about the rest of us, may have rougher sailing in the Trump White House than is usually the case with such deals.

The mainstream critics of Trump foreign policy should be embarrassed, even humbled, by what they supported in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Instead, what bothers them about the president-elect is his lack of desire to make the rest of the world in America’s image. He appears rather to be more concerned with the world not making America in its image.

In the latest chapter of Alice in Trumpland he now says that he does not plan to prosecute Hillary Clinton, that he has an “open mind” about a climate-change accord from which he had vowed to withdraw the United States, and that he’s no longer certain that torturing terrorism suspects is a good idea. So whatever fears you may have about certain of his expressed weird policies … just wait … they may fall by the wayside just as easily; although I still think that on a personal level he’s a [two-syllable word: first syllable is a synonym for a donkey; second syllable means “an opening”]

Trump’s apparently deep-seated need for approval may continue to succumb poorly to widespread criticism and protests. Poor little Donald … so powerful … yet so vulnerable.

The Trump dilemma, as well as the whole Hillary Clinton mess, could have probably been avoided if Bernie Sanders had been nominated. That large historical “if” is almost on a par with the Democrats choosing Harry Truman to replace Henry Wallace in 1944 as the ailing Roosevelt’s vice-president. Truman brought us a charming little thing called the Cold War, which in turn gave us McCarthyism. But Wallace, like Sanders, was just a little too damn leftist for the refined Democratic Party bosses.

State-owned media: The good, the bad, and the ugly

On November 16, at a State Department press briefing, department spokesperson John Kirby was having one of his frequent adversarial dialogues with Gayane Chichakyan, a reporter for RT (Russia Today); this time concerning US charges of Russia bombing hospitals in Syria and blocking the UN from delivering aid to the trapped population. When Chichakyan asked for some detail about these charges, Kirby replied: “Why don’t you ask your defense ministry?”

GK: Do you – can you give any specific information on when Russia or the Syrian Government blocked the UN from delivering aid? Just any specific information.

KIRBY: There hasn’t been any aid delivered in the last month.

GK: And you believe it was blocked exclusively by Russia and the Syrian Government?

KIRBY: There’s no question in our mind that the obstruction is coming from the regime and from Russia. No question at all.

MATTHEW LEE (Associated Press): Let me –- hold on, just let me say: Please be careful about saying “your defense minister” and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of us are, so it’s -– she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned -– from a state-owned –

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet, Matt.

LEE: But they’re not –

KIRBY: From a state-owned outlet that’s not independent.

LEE: The questions that she’s asking are not out of line.

KIRBY: I didn’t say the questions were out of line.

……

KIRBY: I’m sorry, but I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.

One has to wonder if State Department spokesperson Kirby knows that in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about RT, declared: “The Russians have opened an English-language network. I’ve seen it in a few countries, and it is quite instructive.”

I also wonder how Mr. Kirby deals with reporters from the BBC, a STATE-OWNED television and radio entity in the UK, broadcasting in the US and all around the world.

Or the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, described by Wikipedia as follows: “The corporation provides television, radio, online and mobile services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as overseas … and is well regarded for quality and reliability as well as for offering educational and cultural programming that the commercial sector would be unlikely to supply on its own.”

There’s also Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Liberty (Central/Eastern Europe), and Radio Marti (Cuba); all (US) state-owned, none “independent”, but all deemed worthy enough by the United States to feed to the world.

And let’s not forget what Americans have at home: PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and NPR (National Public Radio), which would have a near-impossible time surviving without large federal government grants. How independent does this leave them? Has either broadcaster ever unequivocally opposed a modern American war? There’s good reason NPR has long been known as National Pentagon Radio. But it’s part of American media’s ideology to pretend that it doesn’t have any ideology.

As to the non-state American media … There are about 1400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one? In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe (February 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”. Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the US mainstream media?

In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent”.

If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to US foreign policy?

Soviet observation: “The only difference between your propaganda and our propaganda is that you believe yours.”

On November 25, the Washington Post ran an article entitled: “Research ties ‘fake news’ to Russia.” It’s all about how sources in Russia are flooding American media and the Internet with phoney stories designed as “part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders”.

“The sophistication of the Russian tactics,” the article says, “may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on ‘fake news’.”

The Post states that the Russian tactics included “penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.” (Heretofore this had been credited to Wikileaks.)

The story is simply bursting with anti-Russian references:

  • An online magazine header – “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”
  • “the startling reach and effectiveness of Russian propaganda campaigns.”
  • “more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”
  • “stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”
  • “The Russian campaign during this election season … worked by harnessing the online world’s fascination with ‘buzzy’ content that is surprising and emotionally potent, and tracks with popular conspiracy theories about how secret forces dictate world events.”
  • “Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience”
  • “They use our technologies and values against us to sow doubt. It’s starting to undermine our democratic system.”
  • “Russian propaganda operations also worked to promote the ‘Brexit’ departure of Britain from the European Union.”
  • “Some of these stories originated with RT and Sputnik, state-funded Russian information services that mimic the style and tone of independent news organizations yet sometimes include false and misleading stories in their reports.”
  • “a variety of other false stories — fake reports of a coup launched at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and stories about how the United States was going to conduct a military attack and blame it on Russia”

A former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is quoted saying he was “struck by the overt support that Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.” McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics. “They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.” [Cynicism? Heavens! What will those Moscow fascists/communists think of next?]

The Post did, however, include the following: “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message. What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination. In the new Cold War the political spectrum in the mainstream media runs the gamut from A to B.

Cuba, Fidel, Socialism … Hasta la victoria siempre!

The most frequent comment I’ve read in the mainstream media concerning Fidel Castro’s death is that he was a “dictator”; almost every heading bore that word. Since the 1959 revolution, the American mainstream media has routinely referred to Cuba as a dictatorship. But just what does Cuba do or lack that makes it a dictatorship?

No “free press”? Apart from the question of how free Western media is (see the preceding essays), if that’s to be the standard, what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control almost all the media worth owning or controlling?

Is it “free elections” that Cuba lacks? They regularly have elections at municipal, regional and national levels. They do not have direct election of the president, but neither do Germany or the United Kingdom and many other countries. The Cuban president is chosen by the parliament, The National Assembly of People’s Power. Money plays virtually no role in these elections; neither does party politics, including the Communist Party, since all candidates run as individuals. Again, what is the standard by which Cuban elections are to be judged? Is it that they don’t have private corporations to pour in a billion dollars? Most Americans, if they gave it any thought, might find it difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic election, without great concentrations of corporate money, would look like, or how it would operate. Would Ralph Nader finally be able to get on all 50 state ballots, take part in national television debates, and be able to match the two monopoly parties in media advertising? If that were the case, I think he’d probably win; which is why it’s not the case.

Or perhaps what Cuba lacks is our marvelous “electoral college” system, where the presidential candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner. Did we need the latest example of this travesty of democracy to convince us to finally get rid of it? If we really think this system is a good example of democracy why don’t we use it for local and state elections as well?

Is Cuba a dictatorship because it arrests dissidents? Many thousands of anti-war and other protesters have been arrested in the United States in recent years, as in every period in American history. During the Occupy Movement of five years ago more than 7,000 people were arrested, many beaten by police and mistreated while in custody. And remember: The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to Washington, only much more powerful and much closer; virtually without exception, Cuban dissidents have been financed by and aided in other ways by the United States.

Would Washington ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known members of that organization? In recent years the United States has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad solely on the basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than Cuba has had with its dissidents’ ties to the United States. Virtually all of Cuba’s “political prisoners” are such dissidents. While others may call Cuba’s security policies dictatorship, I call it self-defense.

Fifteen years of U.S. crimes in Afghanistan

http://www.salon.com/2016/11/05/the-15-year-u-s-war-in-afghanistan-barely-gets-mentioned-even-when-nato-airstrikes-massacre-30-civilians/
Salpon.com, Nov. 5, 2016
The 15-year U.S. war in Afghanistan barely gets mentioned, even when NATO airstrikes massacre 30 civilians
The U.S. war continues to take a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, yet Clinton and Trump never even discussed it
Ben Norton

At least 30 civilians, including women and children, were killed in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan on Thursday. Dozens more civilians were wounded.

The site of the attack, in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province, was near the remnants of a hospital bombed by NATO forces almost exactly one year before.

These new casualties come just after the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan entered its 16th year. The ongoing conflict, which gets little coverage in the media and has hardly been mentioned in the presidential campaigns, is one of the longest conventional wars in U.S. history, and has taken an enormous toll on the South Asian country’s civilian population.

Airstrikes were called in on Thursday after heavy fighting erupted between Taliban militants and U.S. and allied Afghan forces in the northern village of Buz Kandahari.

Kunduz Governor Asadullah Amarkhil called the attack “a horrible incident,” Reuters reported. Afghan villagers brought the bodies of the slain civilians into the nearby city of Kunduz and held angry protests.

“These bodies you see here are either children or women, they are not Taliban. All innocent children and women killed here — look at the bodies there,” a resident told Reuters.

Two U.S. soldiers were also killed in the fighting.

This latest attack took place roughly three miles from the center of Kunduz, where NATO forces bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015.

Last year’s attack killed another 30 civilians, including 14 hospital workers. A hospital nurse said there “are no words for how terrible” the bombing was, noting that “patients were burning in their beds.”

The U.S. military’s version of the story changed multiple times, and was full of contradictions. Ultimately, no U.S. officials lost their jobs because of the attack.

Doctors Without Borders called the hospital bombing a war crime. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights similarly said it could have been a war crime.

The medical humanitarian group, known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, emphasized that it had “communicated the precise locations of its facilities to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months.” Yet its facility was repeatedly bombed for more than 30 minutes, even after MSF “frantically phoned” Washington.

The Kunduz hospital was the only large medical facility in all of northeastern Afghanistan, yet MSF was forced to withdraw from the area after the attack.

Millions of Afghans have had their lives permanently changed by the U.S. war, which marked its 15th anniversary on Oct. 7 — an unpropitious date that came and went with little attention in the media, and virtually no acknowledgment by major American politicians.

More than a decade of nonstop war has pushed Afghanistan to the brink of catastrophe. And things are getting worse, not better.

At least 220,000 Afghans were killed in the first 12 years of the war, in a conservative estimate, according to a report by the Nobel Prize-winning organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Since 2012, Afghan civilian casualties have increased, with children making up a growing portion of victims. The violence in 2015 was the worst since the U.N. began tracking the casualties.

In the first nine months of 2016, 2,562 Afghan civilians were killed, including more than 600 children, and another 5,835 were injured, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
A graph released by the U.N. mission shows how civilian casualties have gradually risen in the past several years.

http://media.salon.com/2016/11/casualties-afghanistan-un.jpg

A May report by Amnesty International noted that the number of Afghans “who have fled violence and remained trapped in their own country, where they live on the brink of survival,” has doubled in just over three years.

At least 1.2 million Afghans are displaced within their country — a rise by some 240 percent since 2013. Another roughly 2.6 million Afghans are refugees, stuck outside of their country’s borders.

Afghans make up one of the world’s largest refugee populations. Yet the European Union, which has backed the NATO war in Afghanistan that has displaced so many people, made a deal to send Afghan refugees to Turkey, in a plan experts said is illegal and immoral.

Even child refugees are not spared. From 2007 to 2015, the United Kingdom deported 2,018 unaccompanied children to Afghanistan — in another program human rights officials have warned is illegal.

None of this is to mention the enormous costs of the war for U.S. taxpayers. Numerous reports estimate that the war in Afghanistan has cost at least $1 trillion. That is money that could have been invested in social services, health care, infrastructure, education and so much more.

The war drags on. President Obama promised countless times that he would end it in 2014. Instead, he has extended it multiple times.

The Taliban was itself a product of U.S. war. In order to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the U.S. and its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia trained, armed and funded extremist Islamist militants, giving birth to the extremism that haunts the region today.

While fighting between the Taliban and U.S.-led forces escalates, Obama nears his last days in office. Neither Hillary Clinton, the most likely candidate for U.S. president, nor her opponent Donald Trump has presented a strategy for ending the war. The Afghan people, meanwhile, cannot wait. They are dying, suffering, losing their homes and loved ones.

As Nicholas Haysom, the U.N.’s secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, put it in February, mere statistics do not “reflect the real horror of the phenomenon we are talking about.”

“The real cost we are talking about in these figures,” Haysom continued, “is measured in the maimed bodies of children, the communities who have to live with loss, the grief of colleagues and relatives, the families who make do without a breadwinner, the parents who grieve for lost children, the children who grieve for lost parents.”

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Network smuggled Russian and Ukrainian women into Israel and ran brothels in luxury high-rises, investigators charge

The Times of Israel, 29 November 2015

A months-long undercover police investigation has uncovered a women-trafficking and prostitution network in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.

The investigation, reported Sunday by Israel Radio, was conducted under the auspices of the Tel Aviv Police and resulted in the arrest of two men suspected of running the trafficking ring.

Additional arrests are expected, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported.

The suspected ringleader of the group, identified as Leonid Streimer, is a 35-year-old resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.

The investigation reportedly turned up a complex operation in which the network would locate young Russian and Ukrainian women, some of whom had worked as models, and convince them to come to Israel on tourist visas, promising they would find work amid the difficult economic situations in their home countries.

Once they got to Israel, the women were housed in luxury condominium towers and expensive hotels, where the ring allegedly operated brothels for businessmen and wealthy individuals.

The women would charge significant fees for their sexual services, of which the network operators would get a percentage. A police source told Walla that one woman told investigators she would earn $3,000 or more per week, most of which she would send to her family in Ukraine.

The investigation began following complaints by neighbors in the luxury buildings, who suspected that brothels were being operated near their homes.

In September 2014, police arrested two suspects for running a prostitution ring that consisted of Russian and Ukrainian women brought to Israel on medical tourism visas.

According to the Task Force on Human Trafficking, an alliance of Israeli NGOs, there are 15,000 women working in the sex trade in Israel.

Israel’s sex trade booming

Israel’s sex trade booming
Human trafficking in Israel rakes in more than USD billion a year, findings in annual parliamentary survey show

By Miri Hasson |YNET  23.03.05 , 12:44

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3062297,00.html

TEL AVIV – Thousands of women are being smuggled into Israel, creating a booming sex trade industry that rakes more than USD one billion a year, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.

The Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, headed by Knesset member Zehava Galon of the left-wing Yahad party, commissioned the report in an effort to combat the sex trade in Israel. Findings showed that some 3,000 and 5,000 women are smuggled to Israel annually and sold into the prostitution industry, where they are constantly subjected to violence and abuse.

The report, issued annually, said some 10,000 such women currently reside in about 300 to 400 brothels throughout the country. They are traded for about USD 8,000 – USD 10,000, the committee said.

The U.S. State Department ranks Israel in the second tier of human trafficking around the world, saying the Jewish State does not maintain minimal conditions regarding the issue but is working to improve them.

Israel passed a law in 2003 that would allow the state to confiscate the profits of traffickers, but watchdog groups say it is rarely enforced.

Most foreign prostitutes in Israel come from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Russia and many are smuggled in across the Egyptian border.

The committee found that the women work seven days a week for up to 18 hours every day and that out of the NIS 120 paid by customers, they are left with just NIS 20, while the rest of the money is passed on to their traders.

The prostitutes face constant threats of abuse and murder, the report said, and Israeli law does little to help them. Delays in trial dates and prolonged hearings force the women to remain exposed to violence for more than a year until they are called in to provide testimony, and courts rarely collect early testimonies, as permitted by law.

To help combat the problem, the committee recommended that the state prosecutor’s office refrain from making plea bargains with sex traders. It also advised to raise the threshold of punitive measures and pushed for financial compensation for sex trade victims.

Sex Slavery in Israel: Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

Sex Slavery in Israel

Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

By Dr. Martin Brass

SOLDIER OF FORTURE, October 2002, p. 32.

Israel prides itself as a “beacon of light,” paving an enlightened path for democracy and human rights in a region of dictators, theocracies, tyrants and human rights abusers.

In July 2001, the U.S. State Department placed Israel on a “third tier” list of countries, or worst offenders, of Traffickers in Persons. In the shadows of the “beacon of light” lurks a brutal and inhumane abuse – trafficking of women and children for the sex-slave trade. Israel was on the same list as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Bahrain, Greece, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and 12 others.

The State of Israel was established in order to give refuge to the Jewish Diaspora that had been mercilessly abused in WWII. Since the end of the Cold War, Israel became a haven for more than one million former Eastern-bloc refugees of largely Jewish descent. What is appalling in light of the above is the involvement of the Israeli government and law enforcement in one of the most horrendous international crimes.

Hookers In The Holy Land

Police raided the Furmis Brothel, one of 250 whorehouses in Tel Aviv. The three-story building was under video surveillance. The police charged through iron gates guarded by armed bodyguards, next storming through the armed guards and iron doors fortifying the elevator, then ascending to the third floor and maneuvering through a narrow corridor where they noticed a suspicious cupboard. Crashing through the cupboard, they found another passage, where they collided with armed bodyguards, then hurtled through a locked door. Tel-Aviv magazine describes the officers’ horror at their find: Ten girls were locked up in a filthy, foul two-room brothel with only mattresses on the floor.

“These girls are kept like dogs.” A Tel Aviv police officer told U.S. News and World Report.

The Palace Club, a seedy brothel in Tel Aviv, was the target of a group of journalists on a fact-finding mission. Down a few flights of dark, stone stairs three girls huddled in a corner of a reception area waiting for johns. Their fat pimp dabbed the sweat from his forehead with a large silk handkerchief. The pimp bragged that his women make 120 shekels for a half-hour, “100 shekels for me, 20 shekels [$6] for them.” If their earnings had to be put into a kitty to pay the tax bill, the girls served as unpaid slaves.

At the Tropicana, in Tel Aviv, according to journalist Michael Specter writing in The New York Times, 20 women share 12 cubicles, working eight-hour day-shifts and 12-hour night-shifts.

One sex-slave, lured by an offer of legitimate work, told Amnesty International that she “had a nervous break-down. A client offering to help me escape turned out to be one of them and I was beaten up by the owners. There was nowhere to run – there were bars on the windows and bodyguards, day and night.”

“The conditions were terrible. One girl was kept to work in the basement for eight months. It was damp there and she got tuberculosis as a result. Most of the girls had different diseases – venereal and others related to their reproductive organs. I do not wish even to my enemies to go through what we went through.”

She escaped by jumping from the first floor of the building. When she returned to help another friend escape, she was arrested in a police raid as an illegal alien. She was afraid to testify against the pimp, who knew the whereabouts of her family in Ukraine.

“Nearly all prostitutes in Israel are Russian [70%], their boss is not. Israelis love Russian girls,” according to “Wake Up or Die,” an organization monitoring sex-trafficking who quotes a chuckling Jacob Golan, an Israeli slave master. “They are blonde and good-looking and different from us.”

“This is a whole industry – recruiting them, bringing them and distributing them to all of the parlors,” said Efraim Fhrlich, former commander of the Tel Aviv vice squad. This “national industry” brings in $450 million yearly. A pimp can earn $50,000-$125,000 per year on pimping one slave. A 10-slave brothel can take in up to 750,000 shekels or $215,000 a month.

The Victim As A Criminal

“Until now, the authorities have addressed this as a problem of prostitution, not kidnapping or trafficking in people,” Knight-Ridder News cites Yael Weisz-Rind, director of Amnesty International Israel. “Trafficked women are effectively treated as criminals by the various Israeli agencies with whom they come in contact, rather than as victims of human rights abuses.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that when pressured, Israeli police Commander Yossi Sedbon, while claiming that fighting the trade in women is a priority for the police, emphasized that only a minority of hookers were kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Sedbon declined to comment on the complaints filed against police chiefs for not addressing the problem.

A poll by the Israeli Women’s Network showed that 44% of Israelis believe all female Russian immigrants provided sexual services for pay. Reuters said that the women are stereotyped as having brought crime and prostitution, while exploiting Israeli laws enabling anyone with a Jewish grandparent to immigrate.

“The fact that most of the women knowingly enter Israel illegally made me think twice,” an Israeli university scholar I met in Jerusalem admitted. She had “a hard time being compassionate for people who break the law … it is even harder to sympathize with women who knowingly come to be prostitutes and then complain about the conditions.” However, after extensive research, she became an advocate for the girls.

“These women were manipulated, kidnapped, threatened, abused, drugged, raped, lied to, and used … the punishment that they receive from the government who sends them back to a dangerous situation in their homeland after long stays in jail does not fit the crime,” she said.

Invitation To An Israeli Hell

“Elderly Jewish women in the Ukraine often lure the girls into the trade,” Specter said. Or, the girls are recruited through “an ad or an unexpected meeting on the street, with a proposition to work abroad as a maid, secretary, showgirl, nanny or waitress.” A typical ad, writes Walter Zalisko, 24-year police veteran, authority on Russian organized crime in New Jersey and New York, seeks ” … pretty woman, under age 40, slender, educated, to work in modern office setting; $600/month; documents and transportation provided.”

Reuters interviewed one girl, starving in Russia, who got caught up in the whirlwind of international crime. Defrauded into working in Israel, she was kidnapped by a pimp, kept in bondage with eight women in two apartments and extorted of her pay.

“I came into this circle and then it was very hard to get out. My papers were fake, I had no money, I had no acquaintances and I was in an enclosed place.” Torn between her fear of physical abuse by her pimp and fear of deportation back to hunger, she did not dare seek help at the police station across the road.

Specter tells the story of a Ukrainian who, after seeing an ad, slipped off a tour boat when it put in at Haifa, hoping to make a bundle dancing naked on the tops of tables. In Israel, she was taken to a brothel, where her boss burned her passport. “I own you,” he said. “You are my property, and you will work until you earn your way out. Don’t try to leave. You have no papers and you don’t speak Hebrew. You will be arrested and deported. Then we will get you and bring you back.” Subsequently, the brothel was raided, and she was jailed.

Megan Goldin interviewed one 18-year-old girl that “has been bought and sold so many times she has lost count.” Admittedly lured to Israel by promises of large sums of money if she turned to prostitution, she said “I never thought I would actually have to do it � I thought once I arrived would find a way to escape and find other work, as a waitress or something.”

She had been flown to Egypt, where with 20 other women aged between 18 and 24, she was smuggled by a Bedouin cross the Sinai desert. The girls were forced to crawl under a barbed-wire border fence in the middle of the night.

Organized crime from the former Soviet Union invested $4 billion dollars in real estate and businesses in Israel in seven years. In a warped marriage based on greed that has no boundaries and no loyalties, Israeli mafias join with Russian mafias to cooperate with Arab Bedouins to smuggle women and children to the “Promised Land.”

The unfenced, unguarded 70-mile Israel-Egypt border allows the Bedouins to navigate through the desert with dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles. Israeli Border Patrols, focused on intercepting terrorists, ignore the Bedouin slave traders.

“It’s horrible,” an Israeli official said. “The women we found had been used along the way (by the Bedouins). After all, their masters had to test their product. They are touched and measured and prodded in heinous ways to ‘ensure the quality of the product.’ Some also bring friends or family to use the women. Then the women have to work for a period of one or more months free of charge to ‘pay for their passage.'”

Going Once, Going Twice

“It’s like a car. It depends how valuable she is,” “Amir,” a Tel Aviv pimp told Reuters. Four of the girls who were valued at lower prices ended up working in the slum area around Tel Aviv’s old central bus station where they were trapped and burnt to death when a religious fanatic torched their brothel, a Jewish weekly said. Girls are traded and bartered for a variety of goods, including drugs.

The girls, many of whom are Palestinian, are displayed naked at pimping auctions going at prices ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, depending on her looks, according to one Tel Aviv pimp.

Chaim Nardi, an Israeli sociologist, links the slave-trafficking to machismo attitudes in Israeli society, which “allow men to consider women their toy.” Most prostitutes suffer from depression, he said.

Prison officials report that 80% of the girls become addicted to drugs, mainly heroin, Israelis’ drug of choice. A vicious cycle of prostitution finances their addiction.

Criminologist Menachem Amir said that three groups – Orthodox Jews, Arabs and the 250,000 foreign workers spike demand.

Arabs and Orthodox Jews have “very strong taboos against sexual connections outside of marriage and therefore go to a place where they can do it more anonymously,” a Tel Aviv pimp, Amir, told Reuters.

Some rabbis, “Wake Up or Die” said, ride bicycles to the whorehouses. “A good percentage of the clients are ultra-Orthodox Jews, pious men whose lives are guided by Halachah (religious law), which tells them when they can or cannot have sex with their wives.”

So, on Thursday (boys night out in Israel) busloads of Orthodox Jews travel from Jerusalem, Haifa, and points beyond to Tel Aviv for a few brief moments of passion in a massage parlor, behind a sand dune, or in an alley. Other customers are accountants, lawyers, policemen, and politicians. “The entire spectrum of Israeli society is keeping the hookers in business,” Detective Shachar, veteran on the Tel Aviv vice detail, said.

“Many of the prostitutes in Israel, especially those of Arab descent, are abused by Jews expressing their ‘racial-nationalist fervor.'” The girls … “find that their Jewish customers only come to them after a Palestinian terrorist act to get their own brand of sexual revenge laced with racial-nationalistic fervor … and they do it with hate and anger.”

Neveh Tirza Prison warden Debi Sagi helped give Hotline for Migrant Workers, the interventionist organization dealing with the problem, better access to the prisoners. Victims share cells with Israeli convicted criminals. Many are detained in police detention centers because of the over-crowded jails, where the conditions are worse. Half are deported penniless.

The pimps’ attorneys often represent the girls, or the pimp might pay 30,000 shekels bail pending her deportation, so that she can go back to work. “These women,” said Nomi Levenkron, senior advocate of Hotline, “who were raped, trafficked and exploited before their arrests, were in fact sold once more, this time by the state itself.”

Israeli Police In The Hot Spot By Hotline

One 18-year-old Moldavian sought refuge in a Tel Aviv police station. Some of the officers, who were her clients, recognized her and called her pimp. She fled. The pimp found her and forced her back to the brothel.

“There are police who just come as clients, those who get special discounts because of their good relationships with the owner of the place and those that inform the owner about police operations,” Levenkron said.

Hotline found police involved in six of 24 cases in 15 months – four cases of policemen warning of impending police raids, one policeman managed a brothel, and another sold a woman to another pimp after her arrest.

Hotline accused the Israeli officials of: arresting pimps at their convenience, and ignoring crimes of notorious pimps who cooperate with the police on other matters; of disregarding the 16-year sentence allowed, and of making “shameful” plea bargains with pimps.

The authorities, according to Hotline, lied about women refusing to testify. Less than 20, of hundreds of women interviewed in two and a half years, had been asked to testify. Of 1,370 files opened between 1998-2000, only 2% were prosecuted.

“N” was arrested when she filed a complaint. The police refused to release her on bail for five days, claiming that her life was in danger because the pimps were too dangerous to be arrested. N’s Israeli boyfriend informed the pimps that the police were looking for them and advised them to turn themselves in, which they did.

Charges were pressed against her two pimps. One of them was declared unfit to stand trial and the other was sentenced on 15 February 2001, to two years in prison, one year on probation and fined $5,000. The prosecutors claimed that N was “rented” for only five days from the time the new law against trade in human beings was approved till her escape, and that her testimony was weak. No charges were pressed against the pimp for rape, managing a brothel and living off prostitutes’ income, although he had confessed.

“V” was arrested in a brothel and sent to prison for three months, waiting for her traveling documents. For a month and a half Hotline was told that there was no evidence to support V’s claims. The day after Hotline notified the Parliament investigation committee, the police decided to cooperate. V named eight people who sold, bought or raped her, giving their addresses. Twenty-two more days passed before the first pimp was arrested. Another pimp had fled the country.

Judicial indifference is compounded by police complicity, Levenkron said.

Amnesty describes treatment of several cases by authorities. Anna, knowingly joining the sex industry, was auctioned twice and taken to work in Haifa, where she was held with two other women in an apartment with bars. She was arrested after a police raid on the apartment. In court the police alleged that Anna had signed statements admitting to involvement in prostitution – but all the documents were in Hebrew. She later discovered that she had been framed – accused of running a brothel.

Tatiana arrived in Israel from Belarus to work as a hotel maid to support her mother and son. The pimp met her, took her to a brothel and told her that she would have to repay her “sale price” and the travel costs. After several failed escape attempts, Tatiana was finally released from the brothel after a police raid – a friend of hers had contacted the Belarus Consulate who contacted the police.

She was taken into custody as an illegal immigrant.

No Rehab for Rahab

On her prison bunk, she found an anonymous note threatening to kill her and punish her family if she squealed. Hotline petitioned the Chief of Police for witness protection, who replied that the Police could not guarantee anyone’s safety outside Israel. She was deported to Belarus despite begging to be flown to Poland or Lithuania and then allowed to cross into Belarus by car. She was reportedly met by a male relative and taken to an unknown location. Tatiana’s subsequent fate is unknown. “I don’t know the outcome of the trial. I only know that Arthur [the pimp] is at liberty I talked to him on the phone …

Arthur knows my address in St. Petersburg and my telephone number because he kept my passport. I have a small daughter, eight-years-old there. He threatened that he would find me in Russia, at home, if I did not do what he wanted me to,” one girl told Amnesty International.

A Jewish weekly interviewed Tel Aviv Police Superintendent Pini Aviram, who heads a special investigative team dealing with the trafficking issue. “My team consists of only five Russian speakers,” he said, frustrated at the lack of manpower.

In June 2000, the Knesset amended a 1997 prostitution law to prohibit the buying or selling of persons. Penalties are doubled if the victim is a minor.

The Knesset’s “feeble efforts” Human Rights Watch said, “were undermined by its failure to provide safe houses, witness protection, legal assistance, relief from deportation, or third-country resettlement.”

Israel has until 2003 to implement “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” or face stiff economic sanctions. In June of this year, the State Department bumped Israel up to the second tier, since it is “taking action against sex-trafficking.”

Hotline refutes testimony by the State Department that Israel had taken progressive steps towards halting the trafficking and exploitation of women, their spokesperson saying that Israel is merely acting under U.S. pressure.

Police Deputy-Commander Avi Davidovitch told Jewsweek July 2002 that although the number of trafficked women is growing alarmingly high, few complaints are filed against pimps, and many women either refuse to complain or later retract earlier statements they have made to the police, out of fear of reprisals.

As of July 2002, Washington Jewish Week reports, few pimps involved in trafficking ever face a judge and the majority of prostitutes are deported without being allowed to testify against their pimps.

Slave Trader Turns State Witness

However, “there are certain encouraging signs,” Nardi said. “It appears things are getting better. The Israeli prosecutors are working hard against this phenomenon.”

For example, as a result of one of the biggest stings on slavery in Israel’s history, 18 men involved in drug sales and the smuggling, trafficking and prostitution of women faced trial. The director of the Special Crimes Unit, Deputy Commissioner Menashe Arviv, thinks they will likely receive sentences of between three and 10 years, according to Forward Magazine.

An international lawyer, Dr. Martin Brass is a frequent contributor.

Hillary Laughed ‘I Came He Died’

Destroying Syria: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

Destroying Syria: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

by Diana Johnstone, CounterPunch, October 4, 2016

Everyone claims to want to end the war in Syria and restore peace to the Middle East.

Well, almost everyone.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York told the New York Times in June 2013. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stressed the same points in August 2016:

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction… Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys… Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change… The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.”

Okay, not exactly everyone.

But surely the humanitarian website Avaaz wants to end the war and restore peace.
Or does it?

Avaaz is currently circulating a petition which has gathered over a million signatures and is aiming at a million and a half. It is likely to get them, with words like this:

“100 children have been killed in Aleppo since last Friday.

“Enough is enough!”

Avaaz goes on to declare: “There is no easy way to end this war, but there’s only one way to prevent this terror from the skies — people everywhere demanding a no-fly zone to protect civilians.”
No-fly zone? Doesn’t that sound familiar? That was the ploy that served to destroy Libya’s air defenses and opened the country to regime change in 2011. It was promoted zealously by Hillary Clinton, who is also on record as favoring the same gambit in Syria.

And when the West says “no-fly”, it means that some can fly and others cannot. With the no-fly zone in Libya, France, Britain and the United States flew all they wanted, killing countless civilians, destroying infrastructure and allowing Islamic rebels to help themselves to part of the country.

The Avaaz petition makes the same distinction. Some should fly and others should not.

“Let’s build a resounding global call to Obama and other leaders to stand up to Putin and Assad’s terror. This might be our last, best chance to help end this mass murder of defenseless children. Add your name.”

So it’s all about mass murder of defenseless children, and to stop it, we should call on the drone king, Obama, to end “terror from the skies”.

Not only Obama, but other “good” leaders, members of NATO:

“To President Obama, President Erdogan, President Hollande, PM May, and other world leaders: As citizens around the globe horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to enforce an air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.”

The timing of this petition is eloquent. It comes exactly when the Syrian government is pushing to end the war by reconquering the eastern part of Aleppo. It is part of the massive current propaganda campaign to reduce public consciousness of the Syrian war to two factors: child victims and humanitarian aid.

In this view, the rebels disappear. So do all their foreign backers, the Saudi money, the Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS recruits from all over the world, the U.S. arms and French support. The war is only about the strange whim of a “dictator”, who amuses himself by bombing helpless children and blocking humanitarian aid. This view reduces the five-year war in Syria to the situation as it was portrayed in Libya, to justify the no-fly zone: nothing but a wicked dictator bombing his own people.

For the public that likes to consume world events in fairy tale form, this all fits together. Sign a petition on your computer and save the children.

The Avaaz petition does not aim to end the war and restore peace. It clearly aims to obstruct the Syrian government offensive to retake Aleppo. The Syrian army has undergone heavy losses in five years of war, its potential recruits have in effect been invited to avoid dangerous military service by going to Germany. Syria needs air power to reduce its own casualties. The Avaaz petition calls for crippling the Syrian offensive and thus taking the side of the rebels.
Wait – but does that mean they want the rebels to win? Not exactly. The only rebels conceivably strong enough to win are ISIS. Nobody really wants that.

The plain fact is that to end this war, as to end most wars, one side has to come out on top. When it is clear who is the winning side, then there can be fruitful negotiations for things like amnesty. But this war cannot be “ended by negotiations”. That is an outcome that the United States might support only if Washington could use negotiations to impose its own puppets – pardon, pro-democracy exiles living in the West. But as things stand, they would be rejected as traitors by the majority of Syrians who support the government and as apostates by the rebels. So one side has to win to end this war. The least worst outcome would be that the Assad government defeats the rebels, in order to preserve the state. For that, the Syrian armed forces need to retake the eastern part of Aleppo occupied by rebels.

The job of Avaaz is to get public opinion to oppose this military operation, by portraying it as nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children. For that, they call for a NATO military operation to shoot down (that’s what “no-fly” means) Syrian and Russian planes offering air support to the Syrian army offensive.
Even such drastic measures do not aim to end the war. They mean weakening the winning side to prevent it from winning. To prolong a stalemate. It means – to use the absurd expression popular during the Bosnian war – creating an “even playing field”, as if war were a sports event. It means keeping the war going on and on until nothing is left of Syria, and what is left of the Syrian population fills up refugee camps in Europe.

As the New York Times reported from Jerusalem in September 2013, “The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria.” It added that “Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach.” (This was when Obama was planning to “punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power” – before Obama decided to join Russia in disarming the Syrian chemical arsenal instead, a decision for which he continues to be condemned by the pro-Israel lobby and the War Party.) AIPAC’s statement “said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war…”

Indeed. As the 2013 report from Jerusalem continued, “as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue, with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out. ‘The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,’ said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its archrival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things. Because normal ordinary people have good intentions and hate to see children killed, they imagine that their government must be the same. It is hard to overcome this comforting faith. It is more natural to believe that the criminals are wicked people in a country about which they really understand nothing.

There is no chance that this criminal enterprise will ever arouse the attention of the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, which like most major international organizations is totally under U.S. control. For example, the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who analyses and frames political issue for the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, is an American diplomat, Jeffrey Feltman, who was a key member of Hillary Clinton’s team when she was carrying out regime change in Libya. And accomplices in this criminal enterprise include all the pro-governmental “non-governmental” organizations such as Avaaz who push hypocrisy to new lengths by exploiting compassion for children in order to justify and perpetuate this major crime against humanity and against peace in the world.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims (Book Review)

Book review

Nathan Lean, the Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, Pluto Press (2012)

by Elias Davidsson, 12 October 2016

The book represents genuine efforts by the author to expose the racist nature of Islamophobia, particularly as it affects the United States, and the main promoters of such racist propaganda. He focuses on what could be termed the lunatic fringe of US Islamophobia, i.e. on individuals and outfits whose main agenda is to incite the population against Muslims and Islam. His book provides very useful, und largely unknown, details about this coterie, including on the nexus between this lunatic fringe and mainstream media and politics. Largely due to this focus, the author ignores institutional and less blatant efforts that induce popular  distrust towards Muslims and Islam.  In his study of Islamophobia, the author hardly mentions the decades-long demonization of Arabs by Hollywood.

The author describes in some detail FBI-led stings in Muslim communities, which understandably created a lack of trust among Muslims towards law-enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, the author erroneously designates these FBI efforts as efforts to merely “monitor” these communities.  In fact, most FBI stings consist of actively nurturing extremism and inducing terrorist plots by vulnerable Muslims. Trevor Aaronson’s book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, presents conclusive details about such FBI policy. Ignoring such important evidence about FBI efforts to manufacture terrorism does not speak favorably about the author’s scholarship.

The author downplays the public impact of the official Global War on Terror, which is largely understood and presented as an “Islamic terrorist threat”.  When governments and mainstream media harp on a particular threat, their message has far greater impact on public opinion than hysterical rantings by Zionist zealots.  By focusing on the lunatic fringe, the author unwittingly paints a distorted reality.

Apart from a number of minor errors that do not affect the author’s tenor but tar his scholarly rigor (see below), his book suffers from two major factual errors, that lead the author to false conclusions about the purpose of Islamophobia:

First, the author claims that Muslim terrorists carried out the mass-murders of 9/11, and in Madrid and London (pp. 3, 17-18, 38-39, 41, 63). Such claims are baseless. There is no evidence whatsoever that these mass-murders were carried out by Muslims. Available evidence supports far better the presumption that the US government, or more specifically, the Pentagon, planned and carried out 9/11 and that the events in Madrid and London were similarly covert state operations. The present book review does not permit even a short substantiation of this argument. Those who are interested in reviewing the arguments are invited to consult my study “Hijacking America’s Mind on 9/11”, also available on Amazon. It contains all necessary facts – richly annotated – that allow the definite dismissal of the official legend on 9/11.

Second, the author claims that Osama bin Laden was “the villainous mastermind of 9/11” (p. 9). There is no evidence either for this claim, notwithstanding his reference to a statement allegedly made by bin Laden, in which he allegedly claimed responsibility. In any case,  the FBI was not convinced by such statements, as it refrained from accusing Bin Laden for 9/11 (see FBI’s own poster on Osama bin Laden on FBI’s website). Asked why the FBI has not accused Bin Laden for 9/11, FBI’s spokesperson Rex Tomb said in June 2006, that the FBI has no hard evidence to link him to the mass-murder. Anyone interested in that issue, can simply google these names and terms and verify what I am writing.

Relying on a flawed factual base, it is not surprising that the author wrote: “[I]t must have felt quite natural and right after September 11, 2001 to ask uncomfortable questions about Islam.” Natural? The preoccupation with Islam was not at all natural: It was not prompted by personal experience but induced by unverified media accounts. Far more surprising is, that no journalist asked the following uncomfortable questions: “Why has no one been allowed to see the authentic passenger lists of the four aircraft that were allegedly hijacked on 9/11?  Who saw the alleged hijackers board these planes?  Why did the FBI refuse to forensically identify the wreckage of the allegedly crashed planes? Why did the White House oppose a public investigation of 9/11?  Why has no person, including those interned in Guantánamo, been charged and prosecuted for planning, financing, coordinating or participating in 9/11?

These blind spots undermine the implicit thesis of the author, namely that Islamophobia is essentially the work of a fringe cabal of Zionist Islam-haters. The truth is that Islamophobia is part and parcel of the institutional Global War On Terror needed to keep the military-industrial complex churning profits, to justify wars of aggression and the military occupation of African countries, and to establish a national security state within the United States. Islamophobia in today’s world serves a similar purpose as antisemitism was by the Nazi regime: To serve the interests of the ruling wealthy elite and pit ordinary people against each other.

I recommend this book for those who wish to know more about the professional Islam-bashers of the United States (although the coverage of this scene is by far not comprehensive). For those who wish to understand the political agenda of Islamophobia, its strategical role for US imperialism and to the role played by government-manufactured “Islamic terrorism”, the book will be of little value.

U.S. and EU Sanctions Are Punishing Ordinary Syrians and Crippling Aid Work, U.N. Report Reveals

U.S. and EU Sanctions Are Punishing Ordinary Syrians and Crippling Aid Work, U.N. Report Reveals

Dania Khalek,  The Intercept,  28 September 2016

Internal United Nations assessments obtained by The Intercept reveal that U.S. and European sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work during the largest humanitarian emergency since World War II.

The sanctions and war have destabilized every sector of Syria’s economy, transforming a once self-sufficient country into an aid-dependent nation. But aid is hard to come by, with sanctions blocking access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more.

In a 40-page internal assessment commissioned to analyze the humanitarian impact of the sanctions, the U.N. describes the U.S. and EU measures as “some of the most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed.” Detailing a complex system of “unpredictable and time-consuming” financial restrictions and licensing requirements, the report finds that U.S. sanctions are exceptionally harsh “regarding provision of humanitarian aid.”

U.S. sanctions on Syrian banks have made the transfer of funds into the country nearly impossible. Even when a transaction is legal, banks are reluctant to process funds related to Syria for risk of incurring violation fees. This has given rise to an unofficial and unregulated network of money exchanges that lacks transparency, making it easier for extremist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda to divert funds undetected. The difficulty of transferring money is also preventing aid groups from paying local staff and suppliers, which has “delayed or prevented the delivery of development assistance in both government and besieged areas,” according to the report.

Trade restrictions on Syria are even more convoluted. Items that contain 10 percent or more of U.S. content, including medical devices, are banned from export to Syria. Aid groups wishing to bypass this rule have to apply for a special license, but the licensing bureaucracy is a nightmare to navigate, often requiring expensive lawyers that cost far more than the items being exported.

Syria was first subjected to sanctions in 1979, after the U.S. designated the Syrian government as a state sponsor of terrorism. More sanctions were added in subsequent years, though none more extreme than the restrictions imposed in 2011 in response to the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on protesters.

In 2013 the sanctions were eased but only in opposition areas. Around the same time, the CIA began directly shipping weapons to armed insurgents at a colossal cost of nearly $1 billion a year, effectively adding fuel to the conflict while U.S. sanctions obstructed emergency assistance to civilians caught in the crossfire.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SAMMY KETZA banker stacks packed Syrian lira bills at the Central Bank in Damascus on August 25, 2011. US sanctions have forced Syria to stop all transactions in US dollars, with the country turning completely to euro deals, the governor of the Central Bank Adib Mayaleh told the AFP during an interview. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

A man stacks packed Syrian lira bills at the Central Bank in Damascus on Aug. 25, 2011.

Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

An internal U.N. email obtained by The Intercept also faults U.S. and EU sanctions for contributing to food shortages and deteriorations in health care. The August email from a key U.N. official warned that sanctions had contributed to a doubling in fuel prices in 18 months and a 40 percent drop in wheat production since 2010, causing the price of wheat flour to soar by 300 percent and rice by 650 percent. The email went on to cite sanctions as a “principal factor” in the erosion of Syria’s health care system. Medicine-producing factories that haven’t been completely destroyed by the fighting have been forced to close because of sanctions-related restrictions on raw materials and foreign currency, the email said.As one NGO worker in Damascus told The Intercept, there are cars, buses, water systems, and power stations that are in serious need of repair all across the country, but it takes months to procure spare parts and there’s no time to wait. So aid groups opt for cheap Chinese options or big suppliers that have the proper licensing, but the big suppliers can charge as much as they want. If the price is unaffordable, systems break down and more and more people die from dirty water, preventable diseases, and a reduced quality of life.

Such conditions would be devastating for any country. In war-torn Syria, where an estimated 13 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance, the sanctions are compounding the chaos.

In an emailed statement to The Intercept, the State Department denied that the sanctions are hurting civilians.

“U.S. sanctions against [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], his backers, and the regime deprive these actors of resources that could be used to further the bloody campaign Assad continues to wage against his own people,” said the statement, which recycled talking points that justified sanctions against Iraq in 1990s. The U.S. continued to rationalize the Iraq sanctions even after a report was released by UNICEF in 1999 that showed a doubling in mortality rates for children under the age of 5 after sanctions were imposed in the wake of the Gulf War, and the death of 500,000 children.

“The true responsibility for the dire humanitarian situation lies squarely with Assad, who has repeatedly denied access and attacked aid workers,” the U.S. statement on Syria continued. “He has the ability to relieve this suffering at any time, should he meet his commitment to provide full, sustained access for delivery of humanitarian assistance in areas that the U.N. has determined need it.”

Meanwhile, in cities controlled by ISIS, the U.S. has employed some of the same tactics it condemns. For example, U.S.-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. U.S. airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The U.S. also used airstrikes to drive ISIS out of KobaneRamadi, and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods. In Fallujah, residents resorted to eating soup made from grass and 140 people reportedly died from lack of food and medicine during the siege.

A Syrian man walks past an empty vegetable market in Aleppo on July 10, 2016, after the regime closed the only remaining supply route into the city.

A Syrian man walks past an empty vegetable market in Aleppo on July 10, 2016, after the regime closed the only remaining supply route into the city.

Photo: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

Humanitarian concerns aside, the sanctions are not achieving their objectives. Five years of devastating civil war and strict economic sanctions have plunged over 80 percent of Syrians into poverty, up from 28 percent in 2010. Ferdinand Arslanian, a scholar at the Center for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, says that reduction in living standards and aid dependency is empowering the regime.“Aid is now an essential part of the Syrian economy and sanctions give regime cronies in Syria the ability to monopolize access to goods. It makes everyone reliant on the government. This was the case in Iraq, with the food-for-oil system,” explained Arslanian.

“Sanctions have a terrible effect on the people more than the regime and Washington knows this from Iraq,” argues Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “But there’s pressure in Washington to do something and sanctions look like you’re doing something,” he added.

Despite the failure of sanctions, opposition advocates are agitating for even harsher measures that would extend sanctions to anyone who does business with the Syrian government. This, of course, would translate into sanctions against Russia.

“The opposition likes sanctions,” says Landis. “They were the people who advocated them in the beginning because they want to put any pressure they can on the regime. But it’s very clear that the regime is not going to fall, that the sanctions are not working. They’re only immiserating a population that’s already suffered terrible declines in their per capita GDP,” he added.

Read the report:

Hum Impact of Syria Related Res Eco Measures 26 May 2016, 40 pages

Top photo: A Syrian Red Crescent truck, part of a convoy carrying humanitarian aid, is seen in Kafr Batna on the outskirts of Damascus on Feb. 23, 2016, during an operation in cooperation with the U.N. to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians.

Update: September 30, 2016

The wording of a paragraph about U.S. tactics in Syria and Iraq has been altered to clarify that the U.S. used a strategy of airstrikes against Kobane, Ramadi, and Fallujah when they were controlled by ISIS forces

Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.741296
Opinion // Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

Turning Israeli settlers into victims is the prime minister’s most staggering act of chutzpah yet. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948, when some 700,000 Arabs were forced to leave their lands.
Gideon Levy, Sep 10, 2016 9:48 PM

Israel knows a thing or two about ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about propaganda. The video he posted on Friday proves both points. Here’s the real thing — yet another record for Israeli chutzpah: The evacuation of settlers from the West Bank (which has never happened, and presumably never will) is ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the state that brought you the great cleansing of 1948 and that has never, deep in its heart, given up on the dream of cleansing, and that never stopped carrying out methodical microcleansings in the Jordan Valley, in the South Hebron Hills, in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim and in the Negev, too — that state calls the removal of settlers ethnic cleansing. That state compares the invaders of the occupied territories with the children of the land who clung onto their lands and homes.

Netanyahu proved once more that he is the real thing, the most authentic representative of the “Israeliness” that created reality for itself: Turning night into day, shamelessly and without any sense of guilt, without inhibition.

In Israel, many people, perhaps a majority, will buy these goods. The settlers of the Gaza Strip became “expellees,” their removal “deportation.” Not only is an aggressive and violent action — settlement — legitimate, but its agents are victims.

The Jews as victim. Always the Jews, only the Jews. An Israeli prime minister less brazen and arrogant than Netanyahu would not dare to utter the term “ethnic cleansing,” given the plank in his own eye. Few propaganda campaigns would dare go so far. Yet occasionally, reality intrudes.

And the reality is razor-sharp. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948. Some 700,000 human beings, the majority, were forced to leave their homes, their belongings, their villages and the land that had been theirs for centuries. Some were forcibly expelled, put on trucks and removed; some were intentionally frightened into fleeing; still others fled, possibly unnecessarily. They were never allowed to return, save for a few, even if only to recover their belongings.

Being barred from returning was worse than the expulsion. It is what proved that the cleansing was intentional. Not a single Arab community remained between Jaffa and Gaza, and all the other areas are scarred with the remains of villages, the vestiges of life. That is ethnic cleansing — there’s no other term for it. More than 400 villages and towns were wiped off the face of the earth, their ruins covered over by Jewish communities, forests and lies. The truth was concealed from Israeli Jews and the descendants of the deportees were forbidden to commemorate them — neither monument nor gravestone, to paraphrase Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

The number of settlers now exceeds the number of expellees. They invaded a land that was not theirs, with the support of successive Israeli governments and the opposition of the entire world, and they knew that their enterprise was built on ice. They and the Israeli governments not only crudely violated international law, which earns no respect in Israel. They also broke Israeli law, with the support of a subjugated judiciary.

Land theft is even a violation of the law practiced in Israel and the territories. When Israelis, and the world, began to become accustomed to this situation, to accept it as inevitable, along comes the prime minister and takes his chutzpah up one more level: The settlers are actually victims. Not the ones they expelled, not the ones they disinherited of their land. In the reality according to Netanyahu, the settlements that were built for the purpose of precluding arrangements with the Palestinians are not an obstacle, and he equates them with the she’erit haplita — the remnants of the Palestinians that remained in Israel, to borrow a term from the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Language can be twisted to any use, propaganda to any moral perversion. Farewell, reality, you’re not relevant here anymore.

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

by Ella Habiba Shohat

Irvi Nasawi: Sephardic & Middle Eastern Cultures

Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at CUNY. A writer, orator and activist, she is the author of Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Univ. of Texas Press, 1989) and the co-author (with Robert Stam) of Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (Routledge 1994). Shohat co-edited Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Reflections (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) and is the editor of Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, (MIT Press/The New Museum, 2000). She writes often for such journals as Social Text and the Journal for Palestine Studies.
When issues of racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the U.S., people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the multicultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census’s simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

It’s also written with the intent of multiculturalizing American notions of Jewishness. My personal narrative questions the Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew, particularly the denial of Arab Jewish (Sephardic) voices both in the Middle Eastern and American contexts.

I am an Arab Jew. Or, more specifically, an Iraqi Israeli woman living, writing and teaching in the U.S. Most members of my family were born and raised in Baghdad, and now live in Iraq, Israel, the U.S., England, and Holland. When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the ’50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently–the European Jews–were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of “us” as Jews and “them” as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been “Muslim,” “Jew,” and “Christian,” not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that “Arabness” referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences.

Americans are often amazed to discover the existentially nauseating or charmingly exotic possibilities of such a syncretic identity. I recall a well-established colleague who despite my elaborate lessons on the history of Arab Jews, still had trouble understanding that I was not a tragic anomaly–for instance, the daughter of an Arab (Palestinian) and an Israeli (European Jew). Living in North America makes it even more difficult to communicate that we are Jews and yet entitled to our Middle Eastern difference. And that we are Arabs and yet entitled to our religious difference, like Arab Christians and Arab Muslims.

It was precisely the policing of cultural borders in Israel that led some of us to escape into the metropolises of syncretic identities. Yet, in an American context, we face again a hegemony that allows us to narrate a single Jewish memory, i.e., a European one. For those of us who don’t hide our Middle Easterness under one Jewish “we,” it becomes tougher and tougher to exist in an American context hostile to the very notion of Easterness.

As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the “mysteries” of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic (Maimonides being one of the few intellectuals to “make it” into the consciousness of the West); and that even the most religious of our communities in the Middle East and North Africa never expressed themselves in Yiddish-accented Hebrew prayers, nor did they practice liturgical-gestural norms and sartorial codes favoring the dark colors of centuries-ago Poland. Middle Eastern women similarly never wore wigs; their hair covers, if worn, consisted of different variations on regional clothing (and in the wake of British and French imperialism, many wore Western-style clothes). If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you’ll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque.

Now that the three cultural topographies that compose my ruptured and dislocated history–Iraq, Israel and the U.S.–have been involved in a war, it is crucial to say that we exist. Some of us refuse to dissolve so as to facilitate “neat” national and ethnic divisions. My anxiety and pain during the Scud attacks on Israel, where some of my family lives, did not cancel out my fear and anguish for the victims of the bombardment of Iraq, where I also have relatives.

War, however, is the friend of binarisms, leaving little place for complex identities. The Gulf War, for example, intensified a pressure already familiar to the Arab Jewish diaspora in the wake of the Israeli-Arab conflict: a pressure to choose between being a Jew and being an Arab. For our families, who have lived in Mesopotamia since at least the Babylonian exile, who have been Arabized for millennia, and who were abruptly dislodged to Israel 45 years ago, to be suddenly forced to assume a homogenous European Jewish identity based on experiences in Russia, Poland and Germany, was an exercise in self devastation. To be a European or American Jew has hardly been perceived as a contradiction, but to be an Arab Jew has been seen as a kind of logical paradox, even an ontological subversion. This binarism has led many Oriental Jews (our name in Israel referring to our common Asian and African countries of origin is Mizrahi or Mizrachi) to a profound and visceral schizophrenia, since for the first time in our history Arabness and Jewishness have been imposed as antonyms.

Intellectual discourse in the West highlights a Judeo-Christian tradition, yet rarely acknowledges the Judeo-Muslim culture of the Middle East, of North Africa, or of pre-Expulsion Spain (1492) and of the European parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish experience in the Muslim world has often been portrayed as an unending nightmare of oppression and humiliation.

Although I in no way want to idealize that experience–there were occasional tensions, discriminations, even violence–on the whole, we lived quite comfortably within Muslim societies.

Our history simply cannot be discussed in European Jewish terminology. As Iraqi Jews, while retaining a communal identity, we were generally well integrated and indigenous to the country, forming an inseparable part of its social and cultural life. Thoroughly Arabized, we used Arabic even in hymns and religious ceremonies. The liberal and secular trends of the 20th century engendered an even stronger association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which brought Jews into an extremely active arena in public and cultural life. Prominent Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arab culture, distinguishing themselves in Arabic speaking theater, in music, as singers, composers, and players of traditional instruments.

In Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Tunisia, Jews became members of legislatures, of municipal councils, of the judiciary, and even occupied high economic positions. (The finance minister of Iraq in the ’40s was Ishak Sasson, and in Egypt, Jamas Sanua–higher positions, ironically, than those our community had generally achieved within the Jewish state until the 1990s!)

The same historical process that dispossessed Palestinians of their property, lands and national-political rights, was linked to the dispossession of Middle Eastern and North African Jews of their property, lands, and rootedness in Muslim countries. As refugees, or mass immigrants (depending on one’s political perspective), we were forced to leave everything behind and give up our Iraqi passports. The same process also affected our uprootedness or ambiguous positioning within Israel itself, where we have been systematically discriminated against by institutions that deployed their energies and material to the consistent advantage of European Jews and to the consistent disadvantage of Oriental Jews. Even our physiognomies betray us, leading to internalized colonialism or physical misperception. Sephardic Oriental women often dye their dark hair blond, while the men have more than once been arrested or beaten when mistaken for Palestinians. What for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russian and Poland was a social aliya (literally “ascent”) was for Oriental Sephardic Jews a yerida (“descent”).

Stripped of our history, we have been forced by our no-exit situation to repress our collective nostalgia, at least within the public sphere. The pervasive notion of “one people” reunited in their ancient homeland actively disauthorizes any affectionate memory of life before Israel. We have never been allowed to mourn a trauma that the images of Iraq’s destruction only intensified and crystallized for some of us. Our cultural creativity in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic is hardly studied in Israeli schools, and it is becoming difficult to convince our children that we actually did exist there, and that some of us are still there in Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and Iran.

Western media much prefer the spectacle of the triumphant progress of Western technology to the survival of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. The case of Arab Jews is just one of many elisions. From the outside, there is little sense of our community, and even less sense of the diversity of our political perspectives. Oriental-Sephardic peace movements, from the Black Panthers of the ’70s to the new Keshet (a “Rainbow” coalition of Mizrahi groups in Israel) not only call for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for the cultural, political, and economic integration of Israel/Palestine into the Middle East. And thus an end to the binarisms of war, an end to a simplistic charting of Middle Eastern identities.

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The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals

The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals

Edward W. Said, 17 September 2001


In everyday usage in the languages and cultures with which I am familiar, a “writer” is a person who produces literature–that is, a novelist, poet, dramatist. I think it is generally true that in all cultures writers have a separate, perhaps even more honorific, place than do “intellectuals”; the aura of creativity and an almost sanctified capacity for originality (often vatic in scope and quality) accrues to writers as it doesn’t at all to intellectuals, who with regard to literature belong to the slightly debased and parasitic class of “critics.”

Yet at the dawn of the twenty-first century the writer has taken on more and more of the intellectual’s adversarial attributes in such activities as speaking the truth to power, being a witness to persecution and suffering, and supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority.

Signs of the amalgamation of one to the other would have to include the Salman Rushdie case in all its ramifications; the formation of numerous writers’ parliaments and congresses devoted to such issues as intolerance, the dialogue of cultures, civil strife (as in Bosnia and Algeria), freedom of speech and censorship, truth and reconciliation (as in South Africa, Argentina, Ireland and elsewhere); and the special symbolic role of the writer as an intellectual testifying to a country’s or region’s experience, thereby giving that experience a public identity forever inscribed in the global discursive agenda.

The easiest way of demonstrating this is simply to list the names of some (but by no means all) recent Nobel Prize winners, then to allow each name to trigger in the mind an emblematized region, which in turn can be seen as a sort of platform or jumping-off point for that writer’s subsequent activity as an intervention, in debates taking place very far from the world of literature. Thus Nadine Gordimer, Kenzaburo Oe, Derek_Walcott Derek Walcott, Wole Soyinka , Gabriel García Márquez , Octavio_Paz , Elie Wiesel, Bertrand Russell, Günter Grass, Rigoberta Menchú, among several others.

Now it is also true, as Pascale Casanova has brilliantly shown in her synoptic book La République mondiale des lettres, that, fashioned over the past 150 years, there seems to be a global system of literature now in place, complete with its own order of literariness (littérarité), tempo, canon, internationalism and market values. The efficiency of the system is that it seems to have generated the types of writers that she discusses as belonging to such different categories as assimilated, dissident and translated figures–all of them both individualized and classified in what she shows is a highly efficient, globalized, quasi-market system. The drift of her argument is to show that this powerful and all-pervasive system can go even as far as stimulating a kind of independence from itself, as in cases like Joyce and Beckett, writers whose language and orthography do not submit to the laws either of state or of system.

Much as I admire it, however, the overall achievement of Casanova’s book is nevertheless contradictory. She seems to be saying that literature as globalized system has a kind of integral autonomy to it that places it in large measure just beyond the gross realities of political institutions and discourse, a notion that has a certain theoretical plausibility to it when she puts it in the form of un espace littéraire internationale, with its own laws of interpretation, its own dialectic of individual work and ensemble, its own problematics of nationalism and national languages. But she doesn’t go as far as Adorno in saying, as I would too, that one of the hallmarks of modernity is how, at a very deep level, the aesthetic and the social need to be kept in a state of irreconcilable tension. Nor does she spend enough time discussing the ways in which the literary, or the writer, is still implicated–indeed frequently mobilized for use–in the great post-cold war cultural contests of the world’s altered political configurations.

Looked at from that perspective, for example, the debate about Salman Rushdie was never really about the literary attributes of The Satanic Verses but rather about whether there could be a literary treatment of a religious topic that did not also touch on religious passions in a very, indeed in an exacerbated, public way. I don’t think that such a possibility existed, since from the very moment the fatwa was released to the world by Ayatollah Khomeini, the novel, its author and its readers were all deposited squarely inside an environment that allowed no room for anything but politicized intellectual debate about such socio religious issues as blasphemy, secular dissent and extraterritorial threats of assassination. Even to assert that Rushdie’s freedom of expression as a novelist could not be abridged–as many of us from the Islamic world did assert–was in fact to debate the issue of the literary freedom to write within a discourse that had already swallowed up and occupied (in the geographical sense) literature’s apartness entirely.

In that wider setting, then, the basic distinction between writers and intellectuals need not be made. Insofar as they both act in the new public sphere dominated by globalization (and assumed to exist even by adherents of the Khomeini fatwa), their public role as writers and intellectuals can be discussed and analyzed together. Another way of putting it is to say that we should concentrate on what writers and intellectuals have in common as they intervene in the public sphere.

First we need to take note of the technical characteristics of intellectual intervention today. To get a dramatically vivid grasp of the speed to which communication has accelerated in the past decade, I’d like to contrast Jonathan Swift’s awareness of effective public intervention in the early eighteenth century with ours. Swift was surely the most devastating pamphleteer of his time, and during his campaign against the Duke of Marlborough in 1711-12 was able to get 11,000 copies of his pamphlet The Conduct of the Allies onto the streets in two months. This brought the Duke down from his high eminence but nevertheless did not change Swift’s pessimistic impression (dating back to A Tale of a Tub, 1704) that his writing was basically temporary, good only for the short time that it circulated. He had in mind, of course, the running quarrel between ancients and moderns, in which venerable writers like Homer and Horace had the advantage over modern figures like Dryden by virtue of their age and the authenticity of their views of great longevity, even permanence.

In the age of electronic media such considerations are mostly irrelevant, since anyone with a computer and decent Internet access is capable of reaching numbers of people quantum times more than Swift did, and can also look forward to the preservation of what is written beyond any conceivable measure. Our ideas today of discourse and archives must be radically modified and can no longer be defined as Foucault painstakingly tried to describe them a mere two decades ago. Even if one writes for a newspaper or journal, the chances of digital reproduction and (notionally at least) an unlimited time of preservation have wreaked havoc on the idea of an actual, as opposed to a virtual, audience. These things have certainly limited the powers that regimes have to censor or ban writing that is considered dangerous, although there are fairly crude means for stopping or curtailing the libertarian function of online print. Until only very recently Saudi Arabia and Syria, for example, successfully banned the Internet and even satellite television. Both countries now tolerate limited access to the Internet, although both have also installed sophisticated and, in the long run, prohibitively expensive interdictory processes to maintain their control.

As things stand, an article I might write in New York for a British paper has a good chance of reappearing on individual websites or via e-mail on screens in the United States, Japan, Pakistan, the Middle East and South Africa as well as Australia. Authors and publishers have very little control over what is reprinted and recirculated. I am constantly surprised (and don’t know whether to be angry or flattered) when something that I wrote or said in one place turns up with scarcely a delay halfway around the world. For whom then does one write, if it is difficult to specify the audience with any sort of precision? Most people, I think, focus on the actual outlet that has commissioned the piece or on the putative readers we would like to address. The idea of an imagined community has suddenly acquired a very literal, if virtual, dimension. Certainly, as I experienced when I began ten years ago to write in an Arabic publication for an audience of Arabs, one attempts to create, shape, refer to a constituency. This is requisite now much more than during Swift’s time, when he could quite naturally assume that the persona he called a Church of England man was in fact his real, very stable and quite small audience.

All of us should therefore operate today with some notion of very probably reaching much larger audiences than any we could conceive of even a decade ago, although the chances of retaining that audience are by the same token quite chancy. This is not simply a matter of optimism of the will: It is in the very nature of writing today. This makes it very difficult for writers to take common assumptions between them and their audiences for granted, or to assume that references and allusions are going to be understood immediately. But writing in this expanded new space strangely does have a further and unusually risky consequence: being encouraged to say things that are either completely opaque or completely transparent (and if one has any sense of intellectual and political vocation, it should of course be the latter rather than the former).

On one side, a half-dozen enormous multinationals presided over by a handful of men control most of the world’s supply of images and news. On the other, there are the independent intellectuals who actually form an incipient community, physically separated from each other but connected variously to a great number of activist communities shunned by the main media but who have at their disposal other kinds of what Swift sarcastically called oratorical machines. Think of what an impressive range of opportunities is offered by the lecture platform, the pamphlet, radio, alternative journals, the interview form, the rally, church pulpit and the Internet, to name only a few. True, it is a considerable disadvantage to realize that one is unlikely to get asked onto the PBS NewsHour or ABC Nightline, or if one is in fact asked, that only an isolated fugitive minute will be offered. But then other occasions present themselves, not in the soundbite format but rather in more extended stretches of time.

So, rapidity is a double-edged weapon. There is the rapidity of the sloganeeringly reductive style that is the main feature of “expert” discourse–to-the-point, fast, formulaic, pragmatic in appearance–and there is the rapidity of response and expandable format that intellectuals and indeed most citizens can exploit in order to present fuller, more complete expressions of an alternative point of view. I am suggesting that by taking advantage of what is available in the form of numerous platforms (or stages-itinerant, another Swiftian term), an intellectual’s alert and creative willingness to exploit them (that is, platforms that either aren’t available to or are shunned by the television personality, expert or political candidate) creates the possibility of initiating wider discussion.

The emancipatory potential–and the threats to it–of this new situation mustn’t be underestimated. Let me give a very powerful example of what I mean. There are about 4 million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world, a significant number of whom live in large refugee camps in Lebanon (where the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres took place), Jordan, Syria and in Gaza and the West Bank. In 1999 an enterprising group of young and educated refugees living in Dheisheh camp, near Bethlehem on the West Bank, established the Ibdaa Center, whose main feature was the Across Borders project; this was a revolutionary way, through computer terminals, of connecting refugees in most of the main camps, separated geographically and politically by impossibly difficult barriers, to one another.

For the first time since their parents were dispersed in 1948, second-generation Palestinian refugees in Beirut or Amman could communicate with their counterparts inside Palestine. Some of what the participants in the project did was quite remarkable. Thus when Israeli closures were relaxed somewhat the Dheisheh residents went on visits to their former villages in Palestine, and then described their emotions and what they saw for the benefit of other refugees who had heard of but could not have access to these places. In a matter of weeks a remarkable solidarity emerged at a time when, it turned out, the so-called final-status negotiations between the PLO and Israel were beginning to take up the question of refugees and return, which along with the question of Jerusalem made up the intransigent core of the stalemated peace process. For some Palestinian refugees, therefore, their presence and political will was actualized for the first time, giving them a new status qualitatively different from the passive objecthood that had been their fate for half a century.

On August 26, 2000, all the computers in Dheisheh were destroyed in an act of political vandalism that left no one in doubt that refugees were meant to remain refugees, which is to say that they were not meant to disturb the status quo that had assumed their silence for so long. It wouldn’t be hard to list the possible suspects, but it is hard to imagine that anyone will ever be named or apprehended. In any case, the Dheisheh camp-dwellers immediately set about trying to restore the IbdaaCenter, and seem to some degree to have succeeded. To answer the question “why” individuals and groups prefer writing and speaking to silence is equivalent to specifying what the intellectual and writer confront in the public sphere. The existence of individuals or groups seeking social justice and economic equality–and who understand, in Amartya Sen’s formulation, that freedom must include the right to a whole range of choices affording cultural, political, intellectual and economic development–ipso facto will lead to a desire for articulation rather than silence. It almost goes without saying that for the American intellectual the responsibility is greater, the openings numerous, the challenge very difficult. The United States, after all, is the only global power; it intervenes nearly everywhere, and its resources for domination are very great, although far from infinite.

The intellectual’s role generally is to uncover and elucidate the contest, to challenge and defeat both an imposed silence and the normalized quiet of unseen power, wherever and whenever possible. For there is a social and intellectual equivalence between this mass of overbearing collective interests and the discourse used to justify, disguise or mystify its workings while at the same time preventing objections or challenges to it. In this day, and almost universally, phrases such as “the free market,” “privatization,” “less government” and others like them have become the orthodoxy of globalization, its counterfeit universals. They are staples of the dominant discourse, designed to create consent and tacit approval. From that nexus emanate such ideological confections as “the West,” the “clash of civilizations,” “traditional values” and “identity” (perhaps the most overused phrases in the global lexicon today). All these are deployed not as they sometimes seem to be–as instigations for debate–but quite the opposite, to stifle, pre-empt and crush dissent whenever the false universals face resistance or questioning.

The main goal of this dominant discourse is to fashion the merciless logic of corporate profit-making and political power into a normal state of affairs. Behind the Punch and Judy show of energetic debate concerning the West and Islam, for example, all manner of antidemocratic, sanctimonious and alienating devices (the theory of the Great Satan or of the rogue state and terrorism) are in place as diversions from the social and economic disentitlements occurring in reality. In one place, Hashemi Rafsanjani exhorts the Iranian Parliament to greater degrees of Islamization as a defense against America; in the other, Bush, Blair and their feeble partners prepare their citizens for an indeterminate war against Islamic terrorism, rogue states and the rest. Realism and its close associate, pragmatism, are mobilized from their real philosophical context in the work of Peirce, Dewey and James, and put to forced labor in the boardroom where, as Gore Vidal has put it, the real decisions about government and presidential candidates are made. Much as one is for elections, it is also a bitter truth that elections do not automatically produce democracy or democratic results. Ask any Floridian.

The intellectual can offer instead a dispassionate account of how identity, tradition and the nation are constructed entities, most often in the insidious form of binary oppositions that are inevitably expressed as hostile attitudes to the Other. Pierre Bourdieu and his associates have very interestingly suggested that Clinton-Blair neoliberalism, which built on the conservative dismantling of the great social achievements (in health, education, labor, social security) of the welfare state during the Thatcher-Reagan period, has constructed a paradoxical doxa, a symbolic counterrevolution that includes the kind of national self-glorification I’ve just mentioned. This, Bourdieu says, is conservative but presents itself as progressive; it seeks the restoration of the past order in some of its most archaic aspects (especially as regards economic relations), yet it passes off regressions, reversals, surrenders, as forward-looking reforms or revolutions leading to a whole new age of abundance and liberty (as with the language of the so-called new economy and the celebratory discourse around network firms and the internet).

As a reminder of the damage this reversal has already done, Bourdieu and his colleagues produced a collective work titled La misère du monde (translated in 1999 as The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society), whose aim was to compel the politicians’ attention to what in French society the misleading optimism of the public rhetoric had hidden. This kind of book therefore plays a sort of negative intellectual role, whose aim is, to quote Bourdieu again, “to produce and disseminate instruments of defense against symbolic domination which increasingly relies on the authority of science”–or on expertise or appeals to national unity, pride, history and tradition–to bludgeon people into submission.

Obviously India and Brazil are different from Britain and the United States; but the often striking disparities in cultures and economies shouldn’t obscure the even more startling similarities that can be seen in some of the techniques, and very often the aim, of deprivation and repression that compel people to follow along meekly. I should also add that one needn’t always present an abstruse and detailed theory of justice to go to war intellectually against injustice, since there is now a well-stocked international storehouse of conventions, protocols, resolutions and charters for national authorities to comply with, if they are so inclined. And in the same context I would have thought it almost moronic to take an ultrapostmodern position (like Richard Rorty while shadowboxing with some vague thing he refers to contemptuously as “the academic Left”) and say–when confronting ethnic cleansing, or genocide as it is occurring today in Iraq, or any of the evils of torture, censorship, famine, ignorance (most of them constructed by humans, not by acts of God)–that human rights are “cultural things,” so that when they are violated they do not really have the status accorded them by such crude foundationalists as myself, for whom they are as real as anything else we can encounter.

All intellectuals carry around some working understanding or sketch of the global system (in large measure thanks to world and regional historians like Immanuel Wallerstein, Anouar Abdel-Malek, J.M. Blaut, Janet Abu-Lughod, Peter Gran, Ali Mazrui, William McNeill); but it is during the direct encounters with it in one or another specific geography or configuration that the contests are waged (as in Seattle and Genoa) and perhaps even winnable. There is an admirable chronicle of the kind of thing I mean in the various essays of Bruce Robbins’s Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (1999), Timothy Brennan’s At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (1997) and Neil Lazarus’s Nationalism and Cultural Practice in the Postcolonial World (1999), books whose self-consciously territorial and highly interwoven textures are in fact an adumbration of the critical (and combative) intellectual’s sense of the world we live in today, taken as episodes or even fragments of a broader picture, which their work and that of others is in the process of compiling.

What they suggest is a map of experiences that would have been indiscernible, perhaps invisible, two decades ago, but that in the aftermath of the classical empires, the end of the cold war, the crumbling of the socialist and nonaligned blocs, the emergent dialectics between North and South in the era of globalization, cannot be excluded either from cultural study or from the somewhat ethereal precincts of the humanistic disciplines.

I’ve mentioned a few names not just to indicate how significant I think their contributions have been but also to use them in order to leapfrog directly into some concrete areas of collective concern, where, to quote Bourdieu for the last time, there is the possibility of “collective invention.” He observes that the whole edifice of critical thought is thus in need of reconstruction. This work of reconstruction cannot be done, as some thought in the past, by a single great intellectual, a master-thinker endowed only with the resources of his singular thought, or by the authorized spokesperson for a group or an institution presumed to speak in the name of those without voice, union, party, and so on. This is where the collective intellectual [Bourdieu’s name for individuals the sum of whose research and participation on common subjects constitutes a sort of ad hoc collective] can play its irreplaceable role, by helping to create the social conditions for the collective production of realist utopias.

My reading of this is to stress the absence of any master plan or blueprint or grand theory for what intellectuals can do, and the absence now of any utopian teleology toward which human history can be described as moving. Therefore, one invents–in the literal use of the Latin word inventio, employed by rhetoricians to stress finding again or reassembling from past performances, as opposed to the romantic use of invention as something you create from scratch–goals abductively, that is, hypothesizes a better situation from the known historical and social facts.

So in effect this enables intellectual performances on many fronts, in many places, many styles, that keep in play both the sense of opposition and the sense of engaged participation. Hence, film, photography and even music, along with all the arts of writing, can be aspects of this activity. Part of what we do as intellectuals is not only to define the situation but also to discern the possibilities for active intervention, whether we then perform them ourselves or acknowledge them in others who have either gone before or are already at work, the intellectual as lookout. Provincialism of the old kind–e.g., I am a literary specialist whose field is early-seventeenth-century England–rules itself out and, quite frankly, seems uninteresting and needlessly neutered. The assumption has to be that even though one can’t do or know everything, it must always be possible to discern the elements of a struggle or tension or problem near at hand that can be elucidated dialectically, and also to sense that other people have a similar stake and work in a common project.

I have found a brilliantly inspiring parallel for what I mean in Adam Phillips’s recent book Darwin’s Worms, in which Darwin’s lifelong attention to the lowly earthworm revealed its capacity for expressing nature’s variability and design without necessarily seeing the whole of either one or the other, thereby in his work on earthworms replacing “a creation myth with a secular maintenance myth.” Is there some nontrivial way of generalizing about where and in what form such struggles are taking place now? I shall limit myself to saying a little about only three, each of which is profoundly amenable to intellectual intervention and elaboration.

The first is to protect against and forestall the disappearance of the past, which in the rapidity of change, the reformulation of tradition and the construction of simplified bowdlerizations of history is at the very heart of the contest described by Benjamin Barber (though rather too sweepingly) as “Jihad versus McWorld.”

The intellectual’s role is first to present alternative narratives and other perspectives on history than those provided by the combatants on behalf of official memory and national identity–who tend to work in terms of falsified unities, the manipulation of demonized or distorted representations of undesirable and/or excluded populations, and the propagation of heroic anthems sung in order to sweep all before them. At least since Nietzsche, the writing of history and the accumulations of memory have been regarded in many ways as one of the essential foundations of power, guiding its strategies and charting its progress.

Look, for example, at the appalling exploitation of past suffering described in their accounts of the uses of the Holocaust by Tom Segev, Peter Novick and Norman Finkelstein or, just to stay within the area of historical restitution and reparation, the invidious disfiguring, dismembering and disremembering of significant historical experiences that do not have powerful enough lobbies in the present and therefore merit dismissal or belittlement. The need now is for deintoxicated, sober histories that make evident the multiplicity and complexity of history without allowing one to conclude that it moves forward impersonally according only to laws determined either by the divine or by the powerful.

Second is to construct fields of coexistence rather than fields of battle as the outcome of intellectual labor. There are great lessons to be learned from decolonization; first, that, noble as its liberatory aims were, it did not often enough prevent the emergence of repressive nationalist replacements for colonial regimes; second, that the process itself was almost immediately captured by the cold war, despite the nonaligned movement’s rhetorical efforts; and thirdly, that it has been miniaturized and even trivialized by a small academic industry that has simply turned it into an ambiguous contest among ambivalent opponents.

Third, in the various contests over justice and human rights that so many of us feel we have joined, there needs to be a component to our engagement that stresses the need for the redistribution of resources and that advocates the theoretical imperative against the huge accumulations of power and capital that so distort human life. Peace cannot exist without equality: This is an intellectual value desperately in need of reiteration, demonstration and reinforcement. The seduction of the word itself–peace–is that it is surrounded by, indeed drenched in, the blandishments of approval, uncontroversial eulogizing, sentimental endorsement.

The international media (as has been the case recently with the sanctioned wars in Iraq and Kosovo) uncritically amplify, ornament, unquestioningly transmit all this to vast audiences for whom peace and war are spectacles for delectation and immediate consumption. It takes a good deal more courage, work and knowledge to dissolve words like “war” and “peace” into their elements, recovering what has been left out of peace processes that have been determined by the powerful, and then placing that missing actuality back in the center of things, than it does to write prescriptive articles for “liberals,” à la Michael Ignatieff, that urge more destruction and death for distant civilians. The intellectual can be perhaps a kind of countermemory, putting forth its own counterdiscourse that will not allow conscience to look away or fall asleep. The best corrective is, as Dr. Johnson said, to imagine the person whom you are discussing–in this case the person on whom the bombs will fall–reading you in your presence.

Still, just as history is never over or complete, it is also the case that some dialectical oppositions are not reconcilable, not transcendable, not really capable of being folded into a sort of higher, undoubtedly more noble, synthesis. The example closest to home for me is the struggle over Palestine, which, I have always believed, cannot really be simply resolved by a technical and ultimately janitorial rearrangement of geography allowing dispossessed Palestinians the right (such as it is) to live in about 20 percent of their land, which would be encircled by and totally dependent on Israel.

Nor, on the other hand, would it be morally acceptable to demand that Israelis should retreat from the whole of former Palestine, now Israel, becoming refugees like Palestinians all over again. No matter how I have searched for a resolution to this impasse, I cannot find one, for this is not a facile case of right versus right. It cannot be right ever to deprive an entire people of their land and heritage or to stifle and slaughter them, as Israel has been doing for the thirty-four years of its occupation. But the Jews too are what I have called a community of suffering, and brought with them a heritage of great tragedy. Yet unlike Zeev Sternhell, I cannot agree that the conquest of Palestine was a necessary conquest–the notion offends the sense of real Palestinian pain, in its own way also tragic.

Overlapping yet irreconcilable experiences demand from the intellectual the courage to say what is before us, in almost exactly the way Adorno, throughout his work on music, insisted that modern music can never be reconciled with the society that produced it; but in its intensely and often despairingly crafted form and content, music can act as a silent witness to the inhumanity all around. Any assimilation of individual musical work to its social setting is, says Adorno, false. I conclude with the thought that the intellectual’s provisional home is the domain of an exigent, resistant, intransigent art into which, alas, one can neither retreat nor search for solutions. But only in that precarious exilic realm can one first truly grasp the difficulty of what cannot be grasped, and then go forth to try anyway.

Truth – Justice – Peace