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Never missing an opportunity to shill both for Israel and the almighty shekel, two Israeli entrepreneurs determined now was the opportune moment to launch a military-focussed fashion line.  The fact that 2,100 Gazans were killed by the IDF only a few months ago seems not to have entered into their minds.  Or perhaps, being Israeli, they actually believed that Operation Protective Edge had burnished the street cred of the army, making it an opportune “hook” for promoting a racy new clothing line.

mtkl idf fashion

MTKL’s marketing campaign

From the look of the marketing, this seems little more than a Playboy-style fashion shoot.  There’s the requisite video featuring a throbbing Jerry Bruckheimer-style car chase score.  And of course, the sexy models who are, (how’s this for authenticity?), REAL IDF girls!  “Sapir” even features a tantalizing job description: “classified.”  What a honey pot babe, eh?!

We’ve seen Bar Rafaeli as a Mossad agent in Kidon, who persuades the al-Mabouh to bury his head in her ample cleavage, while drinking forbidden alcohol.  So why not this?  No one ever complained about an abundance of good taste among those who market Israel, especially those who do it to make a quick buck (or shekel).

The script of the marketing video is so hoky, it has to be read to be fully appreciated:

Narrator: One of the biggest secrets of the Israeli army is about to be exposed.  A group of elite soldiers, armed and dangerous, fearless and highly trained, facing danger every day…but when the fighting stops that’s when they gear up and assemble to form one of the deadliest forces known to men: MTKL…

Missulawin: We created MTKL with the expectation of launching the sexiest and sharpest military-inspired  street-wear the world has ever seen.

Shenfeld: we are now producing the world’s first Israeli army girl calendar. We recruited a real group of Israeli soldiers as our models, and we tell the stories of their actual military service while sporting the best military-inspired apparel ever designed.

Missulawin: these are not your run-of-the-mill models.  These are real soldiers of an army which sees plenty of combat action.  Contribute a few dollars to help us publish this calendar as a premium printed product and take a stand with us in the name of freedom, life and having fun.

Narrator: Women who handle guns, lead operations, and fight terror; highly-trained army machines by day, super-models by night.  Because when you only have one shot, it has to be a killer one [sic].  Now, MTKL: over and out.

The two founders of MTKL (a play on the Hebrew acronym, Matkal, or “army high command”) are Amnon Shenfeld and Ilan Missulawin.  Their LinkedIn profiles show that Missulawin did his IDF in the paratroopers, considered one of the army’s elite units.  His work background is in marketing.  Shenfeld doesn’t list his army experience and his work background focuses solely on computers and technology, specifically machine vision and gesture recognition.  I don’t see any fashion experience among them.  So how in hell are they going to sell clothes?  Or are they?

Their Facebook page doesn’t appear ready for primetime of anything else.  It’s a pastiche of girlie pics and inspirational sayings.

Given that their Indiegogo campaign seeks to raise $30,000 to fund the campaign, and offers donors a racy girl-of-the-month calendar, perhaps there isn’t really a fashion company here at all.  It may just be someone’s idea of a joke meant to bolster morale after the blood-letting of the past summer.  After killing so many Palestinians, the boys deserve to see something more healthy than dead bodies, don’t they?  Perhaps the IDF is investing in a fashion start-up to keep the boys spirits up, so to speak.

And if you think there’s an element of hasbara involved in the project…well, let’s let Missulawin speak on the subject:

In Israel, there’s an element [among those who see the marketing for the product] of [concern] for running down the army and its “values,” but we don’t see it that way at all.  We believe, on the contrary, that we’re performing a service for the army and the nation.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  What do you get for your contribution?  The calendar, of course.  For the big daddy donors there are replica IDF dogtags.  Presumably not those of Oron Shaul or Hadar Goldin.  But maybe those belonging to one of the models?  A guy can always hope, can’t he? If you can’t get the girl at least you can get her dogtag.  Sigh.

The message: killing is cool and sexy.  It’s a tough job but some girls just gotta do it.  All for the sake of love, Israel and fun!


Hamas Holds Israeli Ethiopian Who Crossed Border into Gaza

gaza prisoner exchange

Hamas billboard anticipating prisoner release

For those who read last night’s post, I’ve managed to confirm my original story through an independent Israeli source: an Israeli-Ethiopian from Ashkelon crossed the border into Gaza several weeks ago.  The man was allegedly mentally ill and no one knows what drove him to do this.  He is being held by authorities in Gaza.  Israel has placed a gag order on the incident and the media may not report it.  His family has been told not to speak to the media as this might endanger him by raising his profile, though I’d venture to guess that the real reason is that it would embarrass the Israeli government and raise his value in a prisoner exchange.

This could immensely complicate the upcoming negotiations on the return of IDF soldiers (or their remains) and Hamas militants to their respective countries.  If Hamas has one or more live captives it would require Israel to offer something substantial in return.  We’re possibly talking about the release of even more prisoners than the 1,000 involved in the Shalit negotiation.

That would explain the banner flying in Gaza recently which was referred to in yesterday’s post (displayed here).  It features a picture of Oron Shaul behind bars intimating he is alive in Hamas hands.  There is also a blank avatar with a question mark indicating they may hold a second individual.  That could be the man from Ashkelon.


Hamas Holding Live IDF Prisoner/s?

oron shaul

IDF Sgt. Oron Shaul with Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

UPDATE: Just before publishing this post an Israeli Facebook Friend asked if I’d heard any news about an Ethiopian Israeli who’d deliberately crossed the border near Ashkelon into Gaza, from whence he was taken away in a vehicle.  According to this source, the family has been told to maintain silence in order not to endanger his life.  I have not yet been able to confirm this story independently.  But if true, it could complicate the situation I describe below immensely.  Though Israelis fear for his life, this person’s worth is far greater alive than dead.

News is beginning to creep out of Gaza that Hamas may hold a number of “trump cards” that will compel Israel to release a very large number of Palestinian prisoners during an upcoming prisoner exchange negotiation.  Rumors are swirling that Hamas holds not just the remains of dead Israeli soldiers, but possibly even a live captive.  Though they have not revealed who this soldier might be, there are only two soldiers who are missing.  The IDF claimed it recovered the body or portions of the remains of Hadar Goldin (though this doesn’t necessarily mean they did) and a funeral was held.  But it never claimed to have retrieved Shaul’s body nor has there been a funeral.  Here’s is how Al Monitor referred to this:

Signs indicating the possibility of a close exchange deal, through posters signed by Hamas in the streets of Gaza since the beginning of October that read “Soon, Wafa al-Ahrar Deal.” Hamas gave this name to the first prisoner swap in 2012. The poster in question includes the picture of Aaron [sic] Shaul, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades on July 20 during the Gaza war, in addition to a question mark, indicating the possibility of another soldier being present in Hamas prisons.

Hamas in the past few days has encouraged Gazans (Hebrew) to imagine what ‘gifts’ it has in store regarding the talks, saying it had “great surprises” for Israel that far surpassed ‘body parts.’  It promised to “empty out” Israeli prisons as well.  For a people with thousands of men wasting for years or decades in prison with no hope of release, these hints of hope and optimism are a lifeline.

Conversely, Hamas itself referred openly to the fact that Israel killed two of its commanders and took the remains back to Israel.  Certainly, the IDF learned how to play this game and figures if its soldiers were to be captured it should have its own “get out of jail” cards.  Besides this, the IDF arrested Hamas militants during Operation Protective Edge and the militant group would very much want them freed as part of such an exchange.

I can, alas, tell you a long-term Palestinian prisoner never released or even mentioned in any prisoner exchange, who isn’t likely to be freed this time either: Dirar Abusisi.  This fact further confirms that Abusisi is not, and never was a militant associated either with Hamas or Fatah, as the Shabak claimed.  If that were the case, the two groups would’ve insisted on his being included in previous exchanges.  Further, Shabak would not want Abusisi released either, because it would be forced to acknowledge that its case against him was wholly fabricated.  Perhaps somewhere in the unforeseen future his jailers will have to face charges in an international criminal court for detaining him on trumped up charges.  The fraud against him is egregious.  The Israeli security system that allows it is an outrage to decency and humanity, which seems in short supply in such circles.

Dirar’s family lost their Gaza home in the past war, but at least Veronika, his wife, and their six children were not harmed.

Speaking of prisoners held unjustly in Israeli jails, Israel Army Radio reported (Hebrew) today that despite a damning judicial investigation that found severe lapses in monitoring and oversight of Ben Zygier, who was held secretly in an Israeli prison till his suicide, no officials have been held accountable for these misdeeds in any meaningful way.  The judge, whose report was censored in large portions due to the national security material it contained (and likely the embarrassment it offered the security apparatus) even said criminal acts were likely committed and urged the State to investigate and prosecute.  It refused.  In her report, the judge absolved the Mossad of any error, though in my opinion it deserved the highest level of liability.  The prison system became the fall guy because Mossad had impunity.  Six prison officers were investigated for negligence.  Only three received severe reprimands, but none were fired or otherwise punished.

The State settled some time ago with the Zygier family for approximately $1-million: apparently the price for killing an Israeli Mossad agent who’s disgraced his country.  As I’ve said before about this and many other similar cases, the fix is in.  The ruling elite protect their own, especially regarding national security matters.  As for justice, there is none (leyt din v’leyt dayan).

Returning to Gaza, if Hamas holds Shaul and/or another IDF soldier, this would further explain the motivation for the mayhem the Israeli army wrought on Gaza during three or more Hannibal Directives, in which it feared soldiers had been captured alive by the militant group.  Hundreds were killed during these massacres and the IDF likely even killed one or more of the live soldiers Hamas had captured.

If Israel knew one of its soldiers was already captured and alive, it would realize how much it would have to give back in exchange for his release.  Having more than one live captive would make the cost astronomically high.  This appears why the army is prepared to kill a soldier rather than allow him to fall into enemy hands.  A phenomenon utterly foreign to most of the world.  But in the distorted dynamic of modern day Israel, not at all strange.

If there were two captives, Israel might even have to agree to entirely lift the siege of Gaza, something it adamantly refuses to do.  The idea that Hamas could bend Israel to its will is repellant to the average stubborn, proud Israeli used to getting his/her way in regional affairs and previous wars.  It is precisely such rejectionism that impedes an overall peace deal.


UPDATE: the original version of this post listed Nihal Khan and Mohamed Uduman as participants in MLI.  Though Khan posted a Twitter picture of himself and Uduman with members of the group at the airport before they departed for Israel, he told me neither of them went to Israel with MLI.  I apologize for the error.  The list also omitted someone who did attend, Homayra Ziad, who co-convened and planned the seminar with Imam Antepli.

Pro-Israel advocacy is as old or older than the State of Israel.  Official Israel concocts ever newer ways to push the hasbara agenda.  It carves up various markets (minorities, evangelicals, gays, etc.) and tailors specific branding messages to each one that’s designed to leverage maximum support.  It devotes hundreds of millions (from government and private funds) to this venture.

One aspect of this project that’s less well known and deserves more exposure is outreach to Muslim and Christian communities.  Yes, you read that right: Muslim.  I’m referring to Muslims in the Diaspora, specifically the U.S.  The Shalom Hartman Institute, a modern Orthodox think tank devoted to the study of Jewish religion and its impact on Israeli society, created a Muslim Leadership Initiative.  It invited a group of prominent Muslim-American intellectuals, analysts, religious and media figures to study Israeli politics, Zionism and history.

The classes they attended were coordinated by Yossi Klein HaLevi, an Israeli-American journalist who once was affiliated with the JDL and a follower of Meir Kahane.  Now Klein HaLevi has parlayed his former radical past into a selling point for a book he wrote on the subject, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist.  He projects an image of someone who’s turned a new leaf and now is a wiser and older centrist, when this is anything but the case.  Like many former JDL leaders, the rhetoric has become more polished, violence has been eschewed (at overt violence), and the rough ideological edges have been smoothed.  But the basic ideas are the same: Jewish supermacism, support for Israeli ultra-nationalism, denial of Palestinian rights, etc.

Slick purveyors of hasbara like Klein-Halevi are only too happy to make common cause with so-called Muslim moderates like Imam Antepli.  Like Margaret Thatcher once said about Gorbachev: “I liked him.  He’s someone with whom we can do business.”  In other words, Antepli provides a useful lever to access opinion-shapers among young American Muslims for the greater good of Israel.

muslim leadership initiative

Adeel Zeb and Omer Bajwa at the Dome of the Rock during their study course on Zionism at the Shalom Hartman Institute

The participants in the seminar were recruited by Duke Muslim chaplain, Abdullah Antepli.  He is a disciple of Gulen, and devote of his controversial movement, which is currently in a deadly confrontation with the Turkish ruling Islamist party, with which it was once allied.  Antepli appears to have no special knowledge of the Israeli-Arab conflict.  His views are vaguely liberal.  He appears to have taken on the project in a bout of extreme naivete or for other benefits it might offer him.

One of them is this invitation by Jewish Theological Seminary to participate in an interfaith panel at the Milstein Center, that is sponsored by the Russell Berrie Foundation (more on it later).  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a generous Foundation grant in the Duke imam’s future.

Some of the participants, like Rabia Chaudry, a national security fellow at the New America Foundation, appear quite naive about what they got themselves into.  She wrote a Time Magazine puff piece with the deliberately incendiary title, What a Muslim Learned from Zionists.  Others should’ve known better–including Wahajat Ali, a Al Jazeera American TV host, who co-wrote the Center for American Progress report, Fear, Inc, about the Islamophobia industry in the U.S. (more on that later).

For some reason, the participants wished their identities to remain secret.  Though they may fear for their physical safety, I think refusing to take public responsibility for a decision to join such a project is impermissible.  That’s why I’m going to name the participants I know (and though they’ve tried to protect their identities, their participation has been publicly noted in various social media platforms, and they themselves have publicly posted pictures of themselves and tweets in Israel).  They are Rabia Chaudry, Wajahat Ali, Haroon Mogul, Homayra Ziad, Tahera Ahmad, Adeel Zeb and Omer Bajwa.

I asked Los Angeles Rabbi Sharon Brous, one of the faculty for the program, to tell me what subject she taught.  She replied:

The session I taught was called Reclaiming the Dream and I taught about the perils of aspiration fatigue in all of our religious traditions, the sacred heart of Judaism and the ritual system we create to ensure that it is maintained.

Besides a bunch of new age gobbledy-gook, I wondered where the interchange with the Muslim students occurred as I saw no interreligious exchange in her “curriculum.”  Which made me wonder how much of a dialogue MLI was.

hartman institute muslim leadership initiative

Hartman website exploits MLI for hasbara purposes

The first Muslim-American response to MLI was written by Sana Saeed in The Islamic Monthly.  One of the coinages I especially liked in her article was the term “faithwashing,” which this effort clearly is.

Tremendous pressure was exerted, presumably by Antepli and his supporters, on the editors to change or tone down her contribution and an addendum was added (and I believe later removed).  Eventually, the publication asked Imam Antepli to write a reply which he did.  Another strong piece of criticism of MLI focusing on the issue of BDS was written by Prof. Hatem Bazian in Jaddalyia.  He also noted the hasbara value for Hartman of MLI and the ways in which participants were used in the fight against BDS.

One of these is noted by both Saeed and Bazian in their articles.  Hartman proudly features this quotation from an MLI participant on its website:

“I think the breakthrough for me was coming here [to Israel, to the Hartman Institute] as someone who has always been very careful to frame herself as an anti-Zionist but not an anti-Semite and now not quite sure if I am an anti-Zionist anymore. I am not saying I am a Zionist. I am saying I do not know what I am anymore.”

This is precisely the sort of breaking down of Muslim solidarity for which Hartman strives.  Rather tellingly, it describes MLI in words that can barely be mistaken for a propaganda initiative:

This program is unprecedented.  Unlike typical interfaith initiatives, MLI is not a dialogue.  Rather, the program invited Muslims to experience how Jews understand Israel and themselves.  We believe that helping  emerging North American Muslim leaders to develop a deeper understand of Judaism, the Jewish people and Israel has the power to change attitude in the North American Muslim community and in Muslim-Jewish discourse in communities and on campuses across North America.

In other words, MLI is yet another campus initiative designed to counter the impact of “anti-Israel” propaganda offered to college students across America.  In this way, it is an offshoot of such program offered by Aipac, The Israel Project and Standwithus, except that it’s geared specifically to Muslims, rather than Jews.  It’s no accident that the Muslim leader of MLI is a college chaplain and that close to half the participants were chaplains on other major U.S. campuses.

This passage also offers a telling portrait of the ideological goal of MLI:

The curriculum, entitled Encounter Israel: Independence, Peoplehood and Power, addresses a lack of understanding among Muslims about the way Jews see themselves not only as a religion, but as a people and a nation connected to a particular land.  The curriculum deals with peoplehood…Zionism…and the challenges of Jewish sovereignty and power.

If that isn’t hasbara, I don’t what is.  The question I have is–did the Muslim leaders invited to attend this program bother to read the material Hartman offered them describing it?  If they did, how could they agree to join?

Another question that I’ve never heard asked regarding such pro-Israel advocacy is: we Jews detest proselytizing by Christians and other religions.  We’re especially sensitive to this because as a religious group we’ve been decimated by mass violence and forced conversions.  That’s why we’re angry when evangelicals attempt to “poach” our co-religionists.  So how is this sort of pro-Israel advocacy much different?  True, we’re not trying to convert them to our religious creed.  But in effect, if you read the above passages closely, they posit a Judaism in which Israel has replaced religious belief or ritual as the centerpiece of Jewish identity.  Israel becomes a religious creed.  So when we proselytize among Muslims, attempting to convert them to Zionism or pro-Israelism, how is it different than what evangelicals try to do to us?

One of the most important and damning pieces of evidence that Saeed unearthed was that the chair of the Hartman Institute of North America is Amanda Berrie.  She is the president of the Russell Berrie Foundation (and his widow), which has given to Hartman since 1986, and contributed $2.4-million to it in 2011, the latest year whose records are available.  Wahajat Ali’s own Fear, Inc. report lists Berrie as one of the most generous donors in the Islamophobia industry ($3-million between 2001-2009).  Major gifts went to MEMRI, the Investigative Center on Terrorism, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Reut Institute.  One wonders how Ali could possibly justify participation in MLI given this connection.

im tirzu herzl

Herzl’s image and ideas rebranded by zealots and nationalists for a new generation

Yet another pro-Israel think tank announced a similar initiative to Christian community in the past few days.  Yoram Hazony, an American-Israeli libertarian and Orthodox Jew who founded the Shalem Center, has become president of the Herzl Insitute.  Herzl’s name has been appropriated of late by all manner of Israeli ultranationalists including Im Tirzu and Hazony.  They proclaim the need for a rebirth of Zionism and the need to make it relevant once again to a new generation.  By which they mean they seek to rebrand otherwise controversial or unpopular ideas like settlerism in new packaging.

Hazony has developed a close relationship with the Christian evangelical philanthropist John Templeton, on whose board he sits.  Templeton just donated $2.2-million to fund what will be outreach to students at Christian colleges, who’ll come study Jewish sacred texts and theology in the Holy Land.  The article linked above also claims that students will come from “Wesleyan College in Connecticut.”  There is a Wesleyan University in Connecticut, but no college by that name.  There are several Wesleyan Colleges around the country which are Christian-denominational.  I’m unclear to which school it’s referring.

The portrayal of the project in the media has been purposely vague and non-political.  Here’s the closest you’ll get to any detailed description:

Courses will include studying Hebraic tradition, the impact of biblical ideas on modern-day Israel and the Middle East, and the relationship between Jews and contemporary Christianity and Islam.

This quotation from the organization’s website is also suitably vague:

The Herzl Institute welcomes the participation of Christian and other non-Jewish scholars and students who see the sources of Judaism as offering an opportunity for foundational renewal within the context of their own nations and faith traditions.

But any perusal of Hazony’s political-ideological background leaves little doubt that he’s going to be drilling these young undergraduates with the Word embodied as hasbara, and  proclaimed from Jerusalem to the world.


Settler Illiterates Expert at Arson, But Not Hebrew

price tag arson settlers

Price tag arson at West Bank mosque  (Abed Omar Qusini/ Reuters)

This post will offer a bit of cheer and irony for those deprived of humor in the face of the dreariness of the overall situation of the Mideast.  But if you don’t want to read sarcasm at the expense of Israeli settlers, read no farther, because tonight’s their night.

Yesterday, settlers proved once again their proficiency in lighting matches, burning mosques and desecrating Qurans.  In this, they seem to be the equal of “Pastor” Terry Jones.  Except that here Jones is considered a buffoon, and the arsonists in Israel run the government and hence the country.

These protectors of the Jewish race defaced the Aqraba mosque wall with the following graffiti:

Price tag. Tapuach is Kahane.

Except there were a few problems.  Not with the arson attack.  They executed that as well as can be expected.  The problem was with the Hebrew graffiti.  They made the following errors: the gimel in ‘tag’ actually was reversed (and so was really a zayin) so it spelled “taz,” not “tag.”  “Kahane” is also spelled wrong (correct spelling: no “hey,” but instead an “aleph“).  So five Hebrew words and two mistakes.

The evildoers were so bold as to even name their hometown, Tapuach, a known den of settler hate and violence.  However, Itamar, a settlement whose residents have killed and injured many Palestinians (and where the Fogel family was murdered) is only two miles from Aqraba.  My money is on Itamar, not that it will make any difference.

There’s obviously an answer explaining the errors: either the miscreants are illiterate; or they’re Americans (or Russians) whose Hebrew is faulty.  This proves one thing: they know how to kill Palestinians, but not how to write a Hebrew sentence.

David Ha-Ivri, a well-known settler PR promoter, tweeted his disapproval of the act, but seemed mostly disturbed by the felons’ illiteracy.  Ronen Shoval, he of Im Tirzu fame, seemed to imply the suspects must be Palestinian provocateurs, because no Israeli Jew could be so stupid as to not know how to write a proper gimel.

Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s new president, thundered that the price taggers should be treated as terrorists.  That’s nice and all.  Except that the Shin Bet has virtually never arrested such terrorists, let alone prosecuted them.  So the notion of treating them as criminals, let alone terrorists, is purely theoretical and will certainly remain so.  There is absolutely no will to catch settler hooligans.  Not even those who kill Palestinians.  In fact, I’ve argued here that there’s almost no difference between these hooligans and the political and security elite.  They’re two sides of the same coin.  One is rough, the other smooth.


Israeli Professor Calls for Palestinian Genocide

There are all sorts of varieties of insane extremists among the settlers.  By “insane” I don’t mean that they’re aberrations from the Israeli norm.  Just that in polite western society (not Israel, of course) these people would be viewed as nutcases and ignored.  Only in Israel (and perhaps this happens in other religious extremist societies as well) are such people turned into prophets, prime ministers, and even esteemed academics.

Such a one is Prof. Hillel Weiss, who teaches not Hebrew literature, mind you, a term he banned from his department–but rather the literature of the Jewish people.  You see Hebrew is the language and literature of the Jewish people.  There is no other.  Yiddish? Feh, jargon.  Jewish literature in English? Derivative, degenerate and a mark of the bankruptcy of galut.

hillel weiss genocide

Bar Ilan University Prof. Hillel Weiss’ endorsement of genocide against the Palestinian people.

Professor Weiss teaches, where else, at Bar Ilan University.  That’s also the home of such other wunder-mensches as Mordechai Kedar, who advocates raping Palestinian women as a deterrent to terrorism; and Gerald Steinberg, that convicted libelist who runs the fraudulent NGO known as NGO Monitor.

Here is what Weiss posted on his Facebook page:

Listen, Abu Mazen: you aren’t a people and therefore there can be no genocide [against Palestinians].  To exterminate you like a simple rabble is a mitzvah and it will be fulfilled finally despite the fact that the government of Israel still doesn’t accept its responsibility for raising mendacious international recognition of you [Palestine].  [This process] started with Begin ended with Gal-On.  It contributed to the deception of the entire world and [increased] the popularity of these monsters [Palestinians] who rose up due to our weakness and lack of faith.

The quicker you [Abu Mazen] can concede that you are not a people and that your place is nowhere within the borders of the land of Israel, the better off you will be…as long as you evacuate the country of your own volition.

Weiss concludes his scholarly lecture with a reference to Deuteronomy 32:21, 43, which originally was meant as a curse against the pagan peoples who surrounded the ancient Israelites.  But in the context in which Weiss invokes the verse, it’s deeply Islamophobic, essentially calling Islam a pagan, “villanous” religion.  This is eliminationism of the purest sort:

They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a villanous nation…

Nations, celebrate His people; for He avenges the blood of His servants, and returns vengeance upon His enemies, and atones for the land of His people.

Prof. Weiss is also one of those blessed Judeans who’s planning to revive the Sanhedrin, so we can return to stoning Sodomites and adulterers like in the old days.  He can also count himself among the Chosen who hope to raze the Dome of the Rock and replace it with the Third Temple, “God willing.”

I swear if anyone in the comment section tries to tell me that this guy is a fruitcake who represents no more than a fringe of a fringe, I may be sick.  You know that his views are embraced by almost the entire ruling coalition and that they’re being implemented by the government in every way it can.  Hillel Weiss is the beating heart of both Israeli settlerism and Israel itself.  What the good professor shouts from the mountain top and on Facebook is beating inside Bibi’s heart.  They are one.

By the way, we should give credit where it’s due to Arab-American oil man, Jamal Daniel and the folks at Al Monitor, who see fit to publish the similarly incohate messianic ramblings of Yuval Avivi, who regularly covers this garbage in its pages.  That a publication funded by an Arab-American would present such inflammatory drivel is mystifying to me.

H/t David Sheen.


NOTE: There are a number of readers who are either confused or reading this post sloppily, including the headline.  To clarify: there is a link to a Jonathan Cook piece at the end of this post which notes that the State of Israel irradiated both Arab Jewish and Palestinian children for ringworm.  Hence the title of this post which uses the inclusive term, “Arab,” by which I include both Jewish and Palestinian children.

There are also those who claim that radiation was a standard treatment for ringworm inside and outside Israel in the 1950s.  This too misconstrues the argument put forward in the film and here.  While radiation may’ve been considered suitable for ringworm in that era, no one killed children with radiation outside of Israel.  The dosage set by Dr. Sheba was far too high and the X-ray machines he used were outmoded and hence the dosage administered could not be calibrated accurately or administered suitably.

*   *

By the early 1950s, Israel had absorbed most of the Holocaust survivors and other immigrants from western countries.  These were generally the preferred Ashkenazi Jews, who were the nation’s elite.  It was then that Jews from Arab lands began arriving in great numbers.  David Ben Gurion knew he needed great numbers of Jews to come to Israel in order to counter the demographic threat posed by Israel’s Palestinian population (those who hadn’t been expelled during the Nakba).  That’s why he accepted and encouraged the Arab immigration, despite the fact that the newcomers’ Sephardi heritage was considered defective.

ringworm childrenThe 2004 documentary, The Ringworm Children, presents the historical context of this immigration and is dedicated to the greatest national medical scandal in the state’s history.  During this early period, Israel looked with deep suspicion on the Arab olim.  They were viewed not only as culturally inferior, but as reservoirs of disease.  To be fair, these same views had been prominent in the U.S. during the heights of immigration to this country.

But unlike here, Israel allowed one senior health official, Dr. Chaim Sheba, to conduct a massive program of unnecessary medical treatments, at enormous expense, which actually killed many of the victims.  At that time, many children developed ringworm, a non-lethal condition of fungal origin which affected the scalp.  Unlike in other countries, 100,000 Jewish (and Palestinian) Arab children were irradiated in order to treat the condition.  While medical protocol of the day directed that no technician receive a dose higher than .5 Roentgen, those treated could received a higher dose.  A lethal dose was considered 200 Roentgen (R).  The children treated received individual doses of 350R.  Sometimes they received two doses (for a total of 600R).  6,000 of the victims died within the first year or so after treatment.  To this day, many of the remaining victims suffer cancers, epilepsy, infertility and other brain disorders.  Even their children have been impacted through genetic abnormalities passed on from one generation to the next.

When the scandal was first exposed in 1994, the government reacted by circling the wagons and refusing to admit fault or liability.  Then activists pressured the government to pass a law demanding that the State take responsibility.  It did so.  But the law was not understood by the victims at the time, who didn’t realize that it was a Trojan Horse.  It persuaded them that the State had finally accepted fault and that it would compensate for their suffering.  But in reality, the law set hurdles so high, that very few survivors have been approved and received any compensation.  They were forced to prove they were victims, and their treatment by the medical evaluation committees victimized them a second time.  Those who agreed to accept the government’s conditions, could not appeal or sue once they had been denied.  So almost no survivors chose to apply for compensation under the law.

Further, a senior health ministry official at the time of the passing of the Ringworm law, had secreted all of the Ringworm files in his personal archives.  Thus he prevented anyone from gaining access to them: victims, their lawyers, doctors, even other government officials.  When he died, the files were transferred to government archives.  Current health ministry officials deliberately have not examined them because they don’t want to know what’s in them.  Neither the victims nor their attorneys can gain access to them either.

This is a massive coverup, but one that is completely legal.  The Supreme Court itself has refused to rule on the case, arguing that the Knesset law absolves the victims of any right to claim negligence on the part of the government’s medical officers.  Meanwhile, Dr. Sheba has one of Israel’s major medical centers named for him and is considered one of the founding father’s of Israeli medicine.  He founded the Tel Aviv University medical center and helped found those in Jerusalem and Haifa.

There is one further claim the film makes that brings it all back home to the U.S.  The X-ray treatments provided by Israel were extremely expensive.  The final cost was in the  range of 400-million Israeli pounds, which at the time were equivalent to British pounds.  That would put the cost at least $800-million and possibly even higher (in 1952 dollars).  That means the project cost far more than the entire national budget.  Israel obviously couldn’t afford such a massive expenditure.  The filmmakers offer one possible explanation: that the U.S. government, which had just bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, needed an outlet to do radiation testing.  We couldn’t or wouldn’t do such experiments here because American medical standards would not permit it.  So American officials “farmed” the operation out to Dr. Sheba and the Israelis, who had no such ethical problems with it.

The Arab Jewish children were viewed as defective and undesirable to begin with by the Ashkenazi elite like Sheba.  Here is a passage from an Israeli academic monograph on early scientific and medical approaches from the Mandate period that bore the marks of eugenics and reflected an attitude that Ashkenzai Jews were of superior racial stock to Sephardim:

In fact, medical discourse was an important mediator of Orientalist ideas to the Jews of Palestine. Public medicine was one of the main fields of regular interaction between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews during the Mandate period, and this was reflected in the presence of Mizrahi Jews in this discourse. It often depicted members of various Mizrahi communities as variations on a single type – they were described as primitive, superstitious, ignorant, neglectful of their children, passive,lacking drive and the will to change – in general, as an essentially different type, physically and mentally, from the immigrants from Europe

So these Mizrahi children were suitable as fodder for the greater good of medicine.  Though Nazi medicine operated in a context of a plan to exterminate the Jewish race in Europe, the experiments performed in Israel were not dissimilar in nature.  Sheba knew his radiation dosage would harm children, even kill them.  It turns out it did so on a far larger scale than he may’ve imagined.  But the subjects were deemed expendable, just as Jewish subjects of Nazi doctors were.  And tens of thousands were killed, just as the Nazis did.

The film suggests another possible explanation–that Sheba, who came to the U.S. both to collect the X-ray machines that administered the treatment, also fundraised among American Jews for treating the Ringworm children.  Though I doubt he raised anywhere near the sum mentioned above, it’s possible American Jews donated generously to this cause.  This should be a warning to such donors today to examine carefully whatever projects they’re asked to fund.

To be fair to Israel, it wasn’t the only nation which performed what were essentially eugenics experiments.  The Nazis did so and even the U.S., in the Tuskegee experiments, deliberately allowed syphilis victims to die untreated.  The difference, as I noted above, is that the U.S. never engaged in such ghoulish medical experimentation on a national level and never with victims in such numbers.  Further, when there were victims, they could come forward and demand justice.

Israel has essentially sealed off access to justice, thus creating a monstrous stain on its medical and moral legacy.

I want to raise a strong note of caution.  There are those who view the Ringworm project as proof that Israel’s treatment of the children testified to its embrace of Nazi values.  That is one bridge too far for me.  It’s far better to note the sheer evil of the experiment and the suffering it induced without having to claim that it turned Israel into a Nazi state or that Zionism itself was a Nazi ideology.

H/t Jonathan Cook.