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There are Lies, Damn Lies, and Ron Dermer

Two incendiary Likudist media provocations today: the first is yet another in a series of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s New York Times ads touting Sheldon Adelson’s anti-Muslim agenda.  Previous ads in the series have attacked Iran, Hamas and the UN with equal vitriol.  I’ve written about a few of them before here.  But today’s ad is truly extraordinary.  It essentially accuses Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, and by extension Barack Obama, of being willing collaborators in a future genocide against not just Israel, but the entire Jewish people.

As I’ve noted before in posts on these ads, the ad copy makes no pretence of truth or accuracy.  It is shameless, hucksterism for Likudist values.  In case anyone needs to read Boteach’s accusations against Rice in long-form, he’s elaborated on his diatribe here.

Note, in the ad the attempt at drawing a parallel between Rwandan and Jewish genocide.  This is no accident: Paul Kagame is a “good friend” of both Israel’s and Shmuley’s.  He’s appeared at pro-Israelfests along with Elie Wiesel and Adelson.  Kagame’s Rwanda is a major customer of Israel’s military defense industry, buying millions in advanced weaponry.  As I’ve written here, Israel likes its African clients to be hungry for weapons, corrupt and tyrannical.  Kagame, co-author of Congolese genocide which has murdered over 4-million, fits the bill perfectly.

Now let’s explain why this is Boteach’s Night of the Long Knives for Susan Rice.  Though the OBama administration has made perfectly clear its boiling anger at Netanyahu for bringing his anti-Iran road show to Congress, it has been careful about the tenor of public statements on the matter.  Officials have argued that the speech is ill-advised and politely expressed their displeasure.  Off the record statements have been more strongly negative.

But Rice was the first official to take out after Bibi publicly.  The Washington Post reported her interview with Charley Rose, in which she accused Netanyahu of :

“inject[ing] a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate. I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.  It’s always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants it that way. The American people want it that way. And when it becomes injected or infused with politics, that’s a problem,” Rice said Tuesday, using the strongest language yet from an Obama administration official regarding a visit that has rankled both sides and strained ties between the countries.

Bibi is not one to take such “impertinence” from a mere Obama underling lying down.  His reply took the form of this disgusting ad.  How disgusting is it?  It’s so bad almost the entire Jewish communal world released statements denouncing it as soon as Shabbat had ended.  That is quick work.  Usually when some outrageously offensive pro-Israel statement like this comes out, it will take the ADL at least days to respond, if it ever does.

While these criticisms of Boteach are welcome, they’re hypocritical.  Most of these organizations, including Aipac, support Bibi’s views of Iran.  They may not believe Iran contemplates genocide against the Jews, as the loony tunes brigade does.  But they believe Iran is evil and probably support a military attack against it if either Israel or the U.S. were willing.  So the Jewish communal leadership is only marginally saner and more pragmatic on Iran than Bibi.

Further, none of these groups attacked any of Boteach’s previous disgusting Islamophobic ads.  As long as Boteach smears Muslims it’s fine with the Jewish elites.  But when he smears a U.S. president and high administration official, then it goes too far.  I’ve got news for them all.  Boteach and Adelson are a menace to American Jewry.  If they don’t take a stronger stance against them, pretty soon they’ll have bought there way into positions of even greater power and influence here in America.  You think the last election cycle, when Adelson pumped over $100-million into the presidential campaign, was bad?  Try $200-or even $300-million in 2016.  And Adelson the gambling magnate will put it all down on one number: Israel.  Adelson’s next president, if his money has any say in the matter, will turn the adminsitration into an annex of the Likud party.  All administration personnel having anything to do with the Middle East will be vetted by Adelson and Bibi and their political minions.

More must be done to inoculate the American people against the hate and lies spewed by the Adelson-Boteach cabal.

A junior member of this cabal is Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer.  He’s a former operative in the Frank Luntz political consulting machine and Bibi’s brain according to some Israeli media portrayals.  Dermer was the “mastermind” behind Bibi’s Congressional speech, having organized it with John Boehner.  Not to be outdone by that feat of political malpractice, Dermer has tweeted a memorable fake New York TImes front page from 2025.  The headlines scream about a dystopian world in which gas prices have pentupled, Iran has ICBMs capable of striking New York, and Pres. Rouhani boasts about the lies he told to hoodwink President Obama into a terrible nuclear deal.

To say the tweet is shameless and moronic is an understatement.  In fact, I’d say there are lies, damn lies, and Ron Dermer.

There will be a nuclear agreement with Iran.  I hope Pres. Obama will sell it well to the American people.  I hope his enemies will not carry the day in portraying it as a betrayal of American interests.  I very much doubt that will happen.  Bibi Netanyahu will scream bloody murder about it.  He will travel the world telling anyone who will listen about American betrayal and nuclear apocalypse.

More than anything else what must happen is that the world must tune this static out.  It must send Bibi and his world view packing.  The Middle East deserves better.  It deserves a chance to see Iran and the U.S. engaged in building a constructive relationship, even if this takes years or more to accomplish.  The region deserves stability and development.  Not endless rancor and blood-letting: the nostrum Bibi offers.

There another important reason why this agreement must succeed.  Islamism is on the rise around the world.  There is only one way to combat it successfully: by showing an alternative.  Iran can exert a positive, stabilizing force in regional affairs including serving as an anchor against Islamist terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Today’s Israel, ruled by megalomaniacs like Bibi and disciples like Bennett and Lieberman, leads only a dead end.  The U.S. must not follow these ultra-nationalists into that Alley to Nowhere.

Sign the petition: we’re up to 328 signers of the Change.org petition asking Congress to skip Bibi’s speech.  There are now five senators and over 20 House members who are doing so. Keep the momentum going. Please sign.

 

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Sedki al-Maket, rearrested in secret by Israel's Shin Bet for exposing collaboration between Syrian rebels and the IDF

Sedki al-Maket, rearrested in secret by Israel’s Shin Bet for exposing collaboration between Syrian rebels and the IDF

Israel’s Shin Bet rearrested Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket (age 48).  Until his release in 2012 (Hebrew), he’d been the longest serving Israeli security prisoner, having spent 27 years detained.  News of his arrest is under gag order by Israeli media. The gag is laughable since the arrest has been reported not only by Syrian media, but in a Hebrew Facebook post.

Though Israeli security services haven’t offered any reason for his arrest, it’s likely they’re angered because a week ago he followed Syrian rebels to a meeting inside Israeli-occupied territory.  The rebels met with IDF forces who’ve previously been shown to receive logistical and intelligence support from Israel in previous reports here and in Israel and foreign media.  Al Maket filmed a video  while the meeting was underway, in which he described what he saw and offered it to Syrian TV.  It was aired to the entire nation and likely monitored by Israeli security.

The Shin Bet doesn’t want any further leaks about such collaboration because it allows the Syrian regime to paint the rebels as Israeli stooges.  It also gives the lie to those Israeli intelligence figures and journalists who’ve spoken falsely about Israel remaining neutral regarding the two sides fighting in Syria.  Despite numerous air attacks against Syrian government facilities, assassinations of Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian military, and security cooperation with rebels, Israel continues to maintain the fiction it hasn’t chosen sides.

If anyone wonders why Islamists are beheading western journalists and occupying Iraq and Syria, while carefully avoiding Israeli targets, this will explain a lot.  It will also explain Israel’s approach which is to weaken central power in Syria, so that the Golan region closest to the border will become a protectorate, as was southern Lebanon until Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.  Having Syrian rebels under Israeli sponsorship ruling the Syrian Golan will be much more conducive to maintaining Israel control and occupation for years to come.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media is content to publish happy news about the Golani Druze village of Majd al-Shams (home to al-Maket), which apparently has become a playground for a certain hip Israeli scene which enjoys pub crawling in the midst of Israeli-occupied Golan.  If the report is to be believed, you can hardly tell the difference between it and Berlin or New York!  And let’s not forget the glorious skiing almost under the guns of those nasty Syrians who spoil all the fun with their inconvenient civil unrest.

Israel’s media fiddles while Syria burns.

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toveet radcliffe tragedy

Black Hebrew community statement on Toveet Radcliffe tragedy

Yesterday, the Israeli Black Hebrew community released a statement about Toveet Radcliffe’s death, four days after the tragedy, which demanded that the Israeli military provide clear, straight-forward answers about this tragedy.  The press release noted that the Black Hebrews, a community which made aliyah to Israel beginning in the 1960s, began sending their children to military service eleven years ago.  This is the first time one of their own has fallen.  It would be one thing had the first soldier died in battle.  But to have this sort of tragedy befall them seems doubly senseless and tragic.

The first Israeli media report has been published at an independent site called HaMakom.  It largely summarizes my own post (without linking to it) and the new press statement.  But this is the first one.  Let’s hope a groundswell of coverage follows.

Here is the community statement:

We, the Hebrew community are struck by grief as a result of the tragic death of our daughter, Toveet Radcliffe, the daughter of Yisrael z”l.  The grief is even graver and more profound in light of the catastrophe at the military base, occuring during a time when we are not even in the midst of active military conflict.  Toveet is the first soldier from the heart of our community killed during military service in the eleven years during which our children have been serving in the IDF.

Our hearts and prayers are with the family in this time of sorrow and we know our pain is understood and felt by many families in Israel who’ve lost their dear ones while serving the nation.

toveet radcliffe memorial page

Toveet Radcliffe IDF memoral page

Our loss is made even more bitter in light of hard questions which still have not been answered.  Among them:

1. We were told she [Toveet] was on guard duty in a secure military facility between the hours of 10PM-12 midnight.

2. They found her shot in the face, but never told us whether the shots were fired from her own gun or not.

3. They haven’t clarified whether she was shot once or twice.

4. It is quite strange that no one heard shots on the military base at that late hour at night.

5. Her body was found only after a soldier arrived to relieve her on guard duty.  This is highly unusual  in light of our understanding of military procedure in which a soldier doesn’t stand guard alone and especially a female soldier.  When soldiers do guard duty they are monitored every quarter hour to confirm their safety.  Apparently, this procedure was not observed in this case. Why?

6. It’s reasonable to assume that in a sensitive security area within a military base  there would be a surveillance system, but we were told there were no such security cameras in the area. Very strange.

7. We were met with conflicting and inconsistent versions [of the events leading to Toveet’s death].  For example, in the original report we were told they found her lifeless in her bedroom but afterward we were told she shot herself while standing guard.

These are only a few of the basic questions to which we demand answers in the effort to comprehend this terrible tragedy.  We urge the military investigators to perform their work honestly, faithfully and urgently.  The family and the entire community are shrouded in sadness and wait for their conclusions.

We are certain the investigators are aware that our hearts are in their hands and that they treat them as is fitting and proper.  At this stage, we will restrict our comments until we know what really happened.

Adiv Ben Yehuda
Yukin Ben Yisrael

Not content to cover-up Toveet’s death, the IDF has compounded the tragedy by noting in its online memorial page for Toveet that she’s male, rather than female.  I guess when you make a big blunder you’ll make lots of smaller ones as well.  You’d think having caused enough suffering to this family at least they could get this small matter right.

I just published a new piece at Middle East Eye about the IDF’s effort to forestall war crimes charges regarding the Gaza war and its use of the horrifying Hannibal Directive.  This piece summarizes my previous reporting on Hannibal and my role as the first journalist to confirm that it involved the IDF deliberately killing its own soldiers and massive numbers of enemy civlians as well.

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toveet radcliffe

Toveet Radcliffe, IDF soldier who died two days ago on Palmachim AFB, under mysterious circumstances

On February 21st, the Radcliffes, a family of Black-Hebrews living in Dimona received a dreaded 3AM knock on their door.  IDF officers had come to tell them that their 19 year-old daughter, Toveet, who’d been serving in an intelligence unit of the Israeli Air Force at the Palmachim air base, had been shot and killed three hours earlier. The first version told to the family was that she’d died in her bedroom at the base. The army told them it would return later that morning with further news.

In that second visit, which happened at 1PM, four hours later than the army had promised, the overall commander of the air base, Brig. Gen. Nimrod Shifroni, arrived with the army contingent.  I consulted with a former IDF officer who’s familiar with cases in which soldiers either died or committed suicide.  She told me it’s entirely out of protocol for this to happen.  Curiously, Toveet’s own commanding officer was not among them.  He has never visited nor communicated in the four days since she died.

Toveet was in the final year of her IDF service, scheduled to be released this coming summer.  Until a few weeks ago, she’d been serving in a different base.  She was then transferred to Palmachim against her will.  She was given leave before assuming her new position and returned home, where she told her mother she would not go.  She refused for an entire week.  Finally, her mother persuaded her to report to Palmachim.  Within ten days, she would be dead.

From the photos in her Facebook account and an interview I had with a close family friend, she comes across as a typical young woman.  Smiles abound.  Flirtatious poses with girlfriends. Lots of colorful outfits and a fashion consciousness.  The family friend told me that Toveet was a sweet, petite, attractive girl.  Very kind and soft-spoken.  She called her “a sweet little butterfly. She never raised her voice, had a soft presence and would do anything for anyone.”  Toveet was also a vegan and, as you can see below, an artist.

On her Facebook page, a friend who also served in the army featured this painting created by Toveet and her best girl-friend, with the heartbreaking caption:

“Only a true-given Yah mind!” Can think and paint such a beautiful painting of herself. Being able to see herself through Yah’s eyes gifted from birth!. R.I.P Toveet Radcliffe You’ll always be in our hart’s and have our love.! “FAMO Sister!!!”

toveet radcliffe painting

Painting by Toveet Radcliffe

The afternoon following Toveet’s death, five senior officers arrived including, as I wrote above, the base commander.  Instead of consoling the family as you would expect, they asked troubling private questions meant to elicit damaging information confirming that Toveet either was troubled or came from a troubled home.  A member of the family ended that line of questioning.

The IDF contingent then offered the family a different account of the victim’s death than they heard during the 3AM visit.  This time, they said she had been in the security shack on guard duty around midnight in a top-secret highly classified portion of the base.  They told the family that she’d killed herself by shooting herself in the face twice with her own M16 rifle.

Anyone who has reviewed suicide statistics and profiles of victims knows that very few women kill themselves with firearms and even fewer do so by shooting themselves in the face.  Not to mention, how and why does someone intending to kill themselves shoot themselves twice!  Also, Toveet was around 5 feet 2 inches tall.  Given the length of the barrel of her gun and relative shortness her own arms, it would be almost impossible for her to shoot herself in the head.

The former officer I interviewed said her own review of many such military cases revealed only one case in which a female soldier had committed suicide with a gun.  She has never heard of a case in which a female soldier killed herself by shooting herself in the face.  She also said she’s never heard of a suicide in which the gun was fired twice.

When the Radcliffe family asked whether any other soldier accompanied her on duty, they said no.  Toveet herself had told her mother that women doing guard duty at night must be accompanied by a second soldier.  They may not work alone.  When the family asked if there was any surveillance footage of the area where she died, they were told there wasn’t.  The IDF tells them Toveet was patrolling a top-secret portion of the base which did not have video surveillance?  Is that credible?

The army said that Toveet’s body was discovered at the end of her 10PM-12 midnight shift.  Only 47 minutes later, someone posted a notice to Rotter about her death!  How does that happen?  Some IDF ghoul tells a gossip site a girl’s been murdered and her own family doesn’t find out until three hours later?!  It’s obscene.  This is the translation of the above tweet:

Palmachin AFB: 19 year-old soldier shot herself in the head.

Of course, it’s possible a soldier from the base leaked the story, but who would do something like this?  Part of me believes this might’ve been the murderer himself though that’s speculation.

During their family visit, the IDF representatives told the family they were prepared to conduct a burial within a few hours.  The family said they wanted her body cremated.  The army told them that cremations aren’t performed in Israel.  They did find someone who would cremate her but then the army decided that the charges for his services were too expensive.

At that point, the family decided they wanted their own independent autopsy.  This raised concerns with the army.  They wanted to know who the pathologist would be and wanted him to sign an agreement with the military before he would be permitted to do the job.

So far, three days after Toveet’s death, no one in the family has seen her body.  No one has identified her.  The army says they will not permit this until her birth father, who has never visited Israel before, comes and gives permission.  Why does the IDF refuse the mother who raised her and has permanent custody of her the right to see her daughter’s body?

My strong suspicion is that Toveet was murdered.  Given that a number of IDF commanders in the past few months have been cashiered for sexual abuse and the fact that sexual violence is common in the IDF, my hunch is that she was murdered by someone at the base.  The IDF seems to be moving heaven and earth to cover-up the real cause of her death, which indicates to me that if she was killed it was by a superior officer.  If a low-ranking soldier had done this, the IDF would not go to the extraordinary lengths it has.

As I talked to the close family friend I mentioned, it was clear that the Radcliffes don’t want vengeance.  No one wants their pound of flesh.  No one wants to get a high price lawyer and sue.  This is a family living on the periphery.  They have little material means and no friends on high places.  What they do have is their dignity and a child who was a butterfly handed to the army for safekeeping.  What did it do to her?

This family, part of the Black Hebrew community discriminated against for decades by an Israeli government that refused to recognized them either as Jews or as Israeli citizens, only wants the truth.  They want the IDF to come clean and tell them what really happened.  Is that too much to ask?

A pertinent consideration for this discussion is that for many Black-Hebrew families, the only path to legitimacy in Israeli society is through serving in the IDF.  Though the older generation can’t do that, their children can.  The State has agreed to offer citizenship to children who serve in the Army.  It’s for this reason that Toveet’s military service, which was scheduled to end this summer, was so important to her and her family.

UPDATE: Carmela Menashe, Israeli TV military correspondent, just told me that this incident is under investigation by the military police.  This is more than the family has been told until now.  But at least it’s something.  Given the history of the military police and prosecutor this doesn’t guarantee justice will be done.  But at least there’s that possibility now.

UPDATE II: For Hebrew speakers, Channel 2 posted this to its Facebook account and then removed it.  It appears that either the IDF military censor removed it or there is a gag order preventing publication.  What’s interesting about this post is that it’s written from the perspective of a female IDF officer.  I wish I knew who was the author.  Maybe someone out there knows?

החיילת טובית רדקליף מקהילת העבריים בדימונה נהרגה אתמול בבסיס שלה.

צבא הגנה לישראל ידע לבוא להודיע למשפחתה על מה שקרה והוסיף כי אינו יכול לעשות לה הלוייה מפני שהיא לא אזרחית.רק מה שאני לא מבינה זה אם היא לא אזרחית איך היא גוייסה לצבא?ומעבר לזה…איך זה הגיוני לא לעשות הלוויה למישהי שבחרה לקחת חלק במסגרת הזאת בשביל לעזור להגן על המדינה ולתרום שנתיים מחייה –
הכבוד המינימאלי שמגיע לה ולכל אדם הוא קבורה ראויה!

מעבר לזה,הצבא גם מיהר לקבור אותה בלי לבדוק ולחקור כמו שצריך את נסיבות המוות שנותרו כסימן שאלה! זה נראה לכם הגיוני שתמות בחורה ואף אחד לא יידע ב100% מה קרה??
הצבא דואג לטאטא מתחת לשטיח מקרים קשים ואי אפשר לעבור על זה בשתיקה!

איך אני יכולה לקום בבוקר,ללכת לצבא בידיעה שאם חס וחלילה יקרה לי משהו מחר בבסיס יש סיכוי שהצבא בכלל לא יבדוק מה קרה? ימהר לקבור את הגופה ושהסיפור אפילו לא יגיע לעיתונות.

מעציב אותי בתור מפקדת,חיילת,ישראלית ובת אדם! משתתפת בצער המשפחה.

שתפו את המקרה הנורא כדי שאולי העוול יתוקן.
הכאב יישאר גדול אבל המעט שאפשר לעשות הוא להקל ולתת למשפחתה וחבריה את התשובות שמגיעות להם.”

Special h/t to David Sheen.

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Bayit Yehudi Thugs Assaulted Mizrahi Social Justice Activists

Following up on my post about the assault on Israeli gay activists by Bayit Yehudi (BY) thugs during an election rally in Haifa, I’ve interviewed the Party spokesperson, Itamar Fleischman and Lilach Ben David, one of the victims.  The real story is much more complex, disturbing and interesting than the Haaretz news report which spurred my post initially.

Lilach is a Mizrahi LGBT activist who also works on Israeli social justice issues.  She went to the Bennett rally in Haifa with four fellow activists.  Four of them were women and four of them were also, interestingly, Mizrahi.  One of these was Naama Lazimi, who is also a member of the Haifa branch of the Labor Party. They decided to protest at the Bayit Yehudi rally the hypocrisy and racism of the Party.  Among the issues were: MK candidates who derided same sex marriage and Bennett’s support for the dismantling of public housing and transfer of this funding to settlements.

Tal Schneider notes that BY candidate, Bezalel Smotrich trumpeted on Facebook that he was a “proud homophobe,” and that gays have a right to be “abnormal” at home but that the State shouldn’t be asked to accept homosexuality as “normal.”  He is known for provocations like organizing an “animal parade” of cattle through Jerusalem streets during the gay pride celebration there.

The Party leader doubled down on this himself:

“Let them in the media say that we are backwards, homophobes and extremists…”

One of the responses of the gay community to some of this hysteria was, as Schneider notes, a “Saturday of gay love,” designed to shock the prudes in the Party.

Given the BY claims about the protest and supposed threat it posed to Bennet’s security, it’s important to note that while there was private security at the event, no guests were searched, there were no metal detectors or weapons searches, and no bags were inspected.  Though Bennett has a Shabak security detail, it had no involvement in security for the event.  It merely accompanied him once he entered the hall.

Once inside, when Bennett began to speak one group shouted questions and criticism at him (video) while raising a gay pride rainbow flag.  The flag was ripped from the hands of the person holding it and the protesters were assaulted.  In another part of the hall, Lilach Ben David decided to climb to the balcony, which was empty and isolated (see her video).  Once she arrived there and Bennett began speaking, she shouted slogans accusing the minister of closing factories in development towns with high unemployment.  She also called him “racist” and a “thief.”

Ben David noted to me that Bayit Yehudi is monolithic Ashkenazi, pro-settler Party.  In our context, it would be called “lily-white.”  Before the Party primaries, Bennett wanted to soften the BY’s image so he attempted to guarantee a Knesset seat for Israel’s most famous soccer star, Eli Ohana.  When the Party faithful learned of this, they arose as one and demanded that it be overturned.  Bennett bowed to pressure and Ohana was out of the race.  This is why Ben David called the BY leader “racist.”  It was also one of the reasons this group of Mizrahi social justice activists targeted the hypocrisy of Bayit Yehudi.

Returning to the night of the protest, several Party members ran to the balcony and asked her to stop.  When she refused, one of her attackers gave her till three to stop.  When she again refused, he began punching her in the face and body.  Her glasses were thrown over the parapet and landed on the stage below.  She turned her body to protect herself so her back was to the thug beating her.  He continued punching her.  Eventually, the police removed her from the hall and temporarily detained her in an alley outside.

Besides the damage from the punches, she had swelling and contusions on her scalp and other parts of her body.  She also wrenched her back and is under treatment with her doctor.  Outside the hall, she demanded to file a complaint and that the police search for her assailant, who she described in detail to them.  They refused to take a report, and for thirty minutes they refused to look for the attacker.  By the time they did, he’d long disappeared from the scene.  When she asked the police to summon an EMT, they also refused.  Finally, she vomited in the street.  Only at that point did they allow her to go home.  They filed no charges against her and did not arrest her.

During our interview, Lilach raised an important point about the election campaign: there is none.  Everyone knows the far-right will win, again.  No major Party is addressing real issues like the economy, social justice, national security or peace.  The Combined List of Jewish-Palestinian parties is trying to do so.  But it is essentially marginalized.  The only slogan the center parties of the so-called Zionist Camp raises is: “We’re not Bibi.”  That’s about as inspiring to the electorate as Herbert Hoover calling for a chicken in every pot as his election slogan at the start of the Great Depression.

So, if there are no ideas and no debate on issues, the far-right parties must distinguish themselves in other ways.  One, is to trumpet their role as alleged victims of left-wing violence.  Raise the specter of Hitler, the Holocaust and Rabin’s assassination.  Those are always good for sympathy from Israeli voters.

She also noted that the far-right uses political slogans of incitement against the left parties by accusing them of welcoming ISIS terrorists to Israel (a campaign ad I noted here) and being “Hamasniks.”  Think for a second about what this means.  Being associated in any way with Hamas is a crime in Israel.  Israel fights repeated wars against Hamas in which Israeli are killed.  For the far-right to smear the left with such odious slogans is, in fact, an invitation for the lunatic of the right like Yigal Amir to rise up and smite the enemy.

So, during his interview, Itamar Flesichman falsely claimed that protesters have called Bennett “Hitler.”  In fact, such language in public discourse is illegal and had anyone used it they would’ve been arrested.  As I wrote in my post, Bayit Yehudi accuses the left of “forgetting the example” of Rabin’s murder.  The implication is that the “incitement” of catcalls and protest will inspire a deranged leftist to take the law into his own hands and gun Bennett down.

The Party’s spokesperson also falsely claimed that Bennett’s security detail refused to allow him to enter the hall at all for fear of the violence that might confront him.  Bennett himself, supposedly ignored their advice and went on stage anyway.  What gives the lie to this accusation is the fact that no one searched anyone entering the hall.  No one had to show ID.  Had anyone there wished to do Bennett harm, they could easily have done so.

In fact, Lilach make a point of saying that the laxity of security at the event was scandalous.  Considering his is a nation in which a rightist zealot murdered a prime minister, you’d think security would be more vigilant.

But the main point is that if Bennett or his security detail believed there was any danger, they would have approached the event entirely differently.  The fact that they didn’t indicates they had no concerns about the minister’s physical safety.

Fleishman complained that the disruption of the Party meeting was “anti-democratic” and “illegal.”  He further maintained that such behavior would never be allowed at any U.S. political event.  When I tried to point out to him that such outbursts are standard procedure during election season here, he flat out denied it and demanded that I send him video of such an incident.

He had a clear sense of entitlement.  As if being a major political party entitled it to a certain deference from the public.  Bayit Yehudi’s stature somehow demanded a sense of decorum and denying that to the Party was an insult not to be borne.  The truth of the matter is that the protesters broke no laws and in fact, were exercising their protected right to free speech.  These are hard values for the inheritors of the mantle of Kahane to grasp.

The history of many fascist movements involves accusing their opponents of using precisely the tactics that they use against them.  Though there is debate about the origin of the Reichstag Fire, some historians and Nazi archival documents say the Nazis set the fire themselves.  But they accused the Communist Party of the plot and argued it was part of a wider plot to topple the Nazi government and launch a coup.  This offered Hitler a golden opportunity to clamp down on dissent and solidify his hold on power.

Isn’t it interesting that an Israeli political party accusing the left of a campaign of violence against it, uses savage violence against the supposed perpetrators?  Isn’t it interesting that Bayit Yehudi claims its candidate is called “Hitler” when, in fact, Bennett and Neanyahu accuse the left of being the reverse, in cahoots with murdering Arab terrorists.  Isn’t it interesting that a rightist Party which abhored Rabin, leader of a Party of the left, accuses the contemporary left of plotting to murder Naftali Bennett.  Reality for the fascist mentality is a mirror which reverses everything it sees.  Black is white, up is down.  Leftists are killers and rightists are victims.

This is a pathological psychology that may lead to rule of the far-right for decades in Israel.  But it will also lead inevitably to the ultimate demise of this State based on racism, blood, and oppression and its transformation into one based in justice, equality, and tolerance.

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snowden memo

NSA memo outlining “trilaterial meeting” held with Unit 8200 and GCHQ to analyze Iranian leadership.

Last week, Glenn Greenwald published (article) a new document from the Snowden trove, which describes a 2013 meeting between GCHQ, UK’s spy agency and the NSA. The agenda involved a discussion of the monitoring of Iranian intelligence and cyber-warfare activity.  Among the past successful efforts mentioned are the Iranian attack on the British embassy in Tehran, Iran’s exposure of the Israeli-created Flame virus, and the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.  Though Greenwald doesn’t note this, the latter indicates (at least to me) that both American and UK spies were monitoring the negotiations.  My strong suspicion is that they were spying on the Iranian delegation so they would know what its positions would be, thus getting a leg up on the Iranians.  The NSA has already been exposed in previous stories as performing such a function involving U.S. international trade negotiations.  Since the stakes are infinitely higher in the Iran talks, it would be even more critical for us to know what Iran’s bargaining points would be.

Most interesting to me in the secret document is something Greenwald never touched at all (I’ll explain why a bit later).  In today’s Haaretz, Amir Oren writes about this part of the memo.  It notes the first-ever “trilateral analytic workshop” held in January 2013, between NSA, GCHQ, and Unit 8200 (referred to here as ISNU, Israeli SIGINT National Unit), which reviewed the intelligence-gathering efforts regarding the Iranian leadership.  The published memo redacts the portion which indicates the specific purpose of the meeting.  But one can assume that they were analyzing the various leaders, their strengths and weaknesses, and how best to take advantage of them for the interests of the three specific countries.

The memo also practically boasts about the good relations among the three agencies and indicates that each of them see such cooperation as advancing the political, military and intelligence interests of their respective countries.  But it also indicates that the reason such cooperation hadn’t happen prior to this was the opposition of “SID,” which presumably refers to the Signals Intelligence Directorate, the largest unit within the NSA, to working together with the Israelis.  The memo calls such opposition a “potential landmine” and clarifies that the workshop shouldn’t be considered a violation of this understanding.

I’m guessing Greenwald didn’t mention Unit 8200 in his report is that he has an agreement with Haaretz to publish the portions of the Snowden files dealing with Israel.  Thus, reporting on this fell to Amir Oren.

The memo also acknowledges that not only did Iran prepare and execute its own counter-attack against U.S. and Israeli cyber-attacks on its nuclear installations, but it learned directly from these attacks how to defend against them and use them in its own offensive attacks.  It implicitly warns that Iran could be expected to exploit any attacks against it in ways that in future may be far more damaging than anything it had mounted thus far.  I warned against precisely this possibility in this post.

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After much research and many phone calls to sources close to Micha Peretz, the Negev moshavnik arrested secretly by the Shabak, I finally reached a knowledgeable individual close to the family.  After I told him of my interest in Peretz’s fate, the source told me that the arrested man was “innocent” and the victim of harassment on the part of the intelligence services.  I was not able to engage in a longer conversation (yet).  But I’m trying.

There have been numerous reports and claims by Israeli politicians scouring the country for voters frightened about security issues that Hamas has rebuilt those “terror tunnels” from Gaza into southern Israel.  First, Naftali Bennett harangued about the subject and reminded voters he favored bombing Gaza back to the Stone Age, while Bibi only favored bombing it back to the Middle Ages.

Not to be outdone, Labor MK Omer Bar Lev told Israel Radio that Party chief, Isaac Herzog toured Israeli settlements on the Gaza border where he allegedly witnessed this nefarious activity and warned that Gaza was an issue that deserved more national attention.  To his credit, Herzog’s approach wasn’t to bomb Gaza, but rather to bring about “economic improvement.”  I’d call this Likud-lite, since even Likud makes the claim that it has eased up on Gaza (which is false).  Note, Herzog won’t touch the issue of the Israeli blockade, which is the ultimate cause of economic and political stagnation there.  It’s the elephant sitting in the room.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I’m guessing that Peretz has gotten swept up in this Hamas campaign (as concocted by political operatives) to rebuild the tunnels.  Either someone in the security apparatus believes Peretz helped with this (intentionally or unintentionally); or else he’s someone’s convenient scapegoat over this ‘plot’ against Israeli security.  There is also a possibility that the Shabak believes he was engaged in a plot against Hamas or Gaza using tunnels from Israel to Gaza, though this seems farther-fetched.

I’m taking bets how long it will take before an Israeli media outlet will break this story in Israel.  Will it be weeks or months?  The louder we raise our voices the shorter it will be.

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