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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.

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parcin explosion

Area circled in red was site of alleged Parchin explosion (Israel Defense)

There is circumstantial evidence that points to another Israeli covert attack on a major Iranian nuclear facility, this one in Parchin.  Local reports say a major fire and explosion broke out:

But the enormous orange flash that illuminated Tehran around 11:15 p.m. local time clearly came from that direction, several witnesses said.

…Witnesses in the east of Tehran said that windows had been shattered in the vicinity of the military complex and that all trees in a hundred-yard radius of two villages, Changi and Hammamak, had been burned. The villages are on the outskirts of the military site.

In its report, Israel Defense publishes satellite images and analysis that claims “an attack” against bunkers in the complex.  I don’t know if use of the word was intentional or not.  But it is highly suggestive. In addition, how did IsraelDefense get access to these images?  I have a pretty good idea.  Their friendly Israeli intelligence source wanted to let the world know about the accident.  Either he wanted the world to know purely to feast on Iran’s misery; or because his agency had something to do with the explosion.

If you look at the damage portrayed in the photo, it appears there was blast impact not in one specific location, but in two.  They’re separated by enough distance to indicate that the explosion was more than an accident, but likely a deliberate act of sabotage.

It’s no accident that only two weeks ago Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, Yuval Steinitz, whose portfolio is monitoring the “Iranian threat” (as Israel sees it), warned that researchers at Parchin had allegedly carried out critical tests of a new neutron ignition switch for a nuclear weapon:

A statement from Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, issued a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – the architect of Tehran’s nuclear diplomacy – was to address the U.N. General Assembly, said the implosion tests at Parchin involved neutron sources that would include nuclear material.

Israel, his statement said, based its information on “highly reliable information”, without elaborating.

It gave no specific dates for such testing, saying only that it occurred after what it called the 2000-2001 construction of a nuclear weaponisation test site at Parchin…

“It is important to emphasise [sic ]that these kinds of tests can have no ‘dual use’ explanation, since the only possible purpose of such internal neutron sources is to ignite the nuclear chain reaction in nuclear weapons,” the Israeli statement said.

If you parse this carefully, Israel is refusing to say when the tests took place.  They might have been conducted any time within the last fifteen years!  Further, the claim that the test cannot have a “dual use” is also so vague as to be meaningless.  They can’t have dual use because Israel says so.  Barring real evidence, is this sufficient to ensure credibility?

Whether or not such testing occurred, Israel believed it had.  If it did sabotage the plant, then the Steinitz report could constitute  warning and threat that was fulfilled by the attack.

As an aside, Jeffrey Heller the Reuters reporter who wrote this story twice refers to Israel as “the Jewish state.”  One wonders whether any reporter would refer to Britain as “the Protestant state,” or France as “the Catholic state,” or even Pakistan as “the Muslim state.”  In a story about nuclear weapons, why mention the subject of religion at all?  It indicates that the mainstream media have bought into Bibi’s propaganda that the most important aspect of Israel’s existence is that it is a Jewish state.  It’s shameful to find such lazy journalism with so many unexamined underlying assumptions at Reuters.

What’s especially important about this report, aside from the possible serious damage to Iran’s scientific research at Parchin, is what this means regarding Israeli relations with the U.S. on the Iran nuclear issue.  Clearly, Bibi Netanyahu is angry at the prospect of Iran and the west reaching a nuclear agreement that leaves Iran with an enrichment program, centrifuges and facilities in place which could in future renew a nuclear weapons program (if Iran even has one to begin with).  Bibi is a Rottweiler who, once he clamps down on a victim, cannot release his grasp.  He cannot give up on the Iran “threat.”  Like George Bush’s War on Terror, it reaps too many political dividends.

Realizing he has lost leverage with the P5+1 powers, such a massive attack on Iran sends a clear message that Israel has left the reservation, if it was ever on it.  Israel will go its own way.  It will not coordinate.  It will not consult.  It will act, come what may.  It will leave everybody else to pick up the pieces afterward.

This is a potentially very dangerous development if Israel was involved.  It means that regarding Iran, Israel has become a rogue state.  No one can be sure exactly what it might do (short of a full-scale military attack, which I’ve reported was taken off the table by Israel in 2011).  Even if the rest of the world comes to term with Iran’s alleged nuclear program, Israel hasn’t and never will, at least under this government.

Given the relatively weak leadership Pres. Obama has shown on this and so many other issues, one has to wonder what he will do if Israel takes further, more damaging actions that threaten to torpedo any deal or general rapprochement with the Iranian regime.

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israeli arms exports graphHaaretz reported that Israeli military weapons exports declined by 13% in the past year.  They were $6.5-billion in 2013, down from $7.5-billion in 2012.  The overall reduction was worth $1-billion and reflected the second-lowest level since 2008.  Weapons exports are one of Israel’s most valuable contributions to its GDP and overall ranked 6th among all nations.

The defense ministry indicated a major source of the reduction was the U.S. draw-down of its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, increased competition among drone manufacturers, and general reductions in defense budgets.  A rare “bright spot” is Africa, where Israeli weapons sales doubled.  As I’ve reported here before, retired IDF officers have hired themselves out to some of the most brutal African dictators.  Among the “expertise” they offer is guidance on which Israeli weapons systems to purchase.  At times, they even offer dictators computer voting systems which seem to guarantee their return to power in sham elections (cf., Zimbabwe).

These Israeli military consultants ramp up overall Israeli arms exports to the continent, while dramatically increasing the lethality of African militaries and insurgent forces.  Israel’s weapons contribute markedly to the rivers of blood coursing through Africa.

Ironically, when U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, offered Israel a golden opportunity to contribute to saving African lives during the Ebola epidemic, Defense Minister Bogie Yaalon demurred saying such a project was too dangerous.  The foreign ministry, after reading criticism of this decision here and elsewhere, took up the slack and recruited three mobile hospital units for service in Sierra Leone.

Note Yossi Melman’s sardonic tweet on this subject:

In fact, Yossi Melman lost his job as Haaretz’ longtime military correspondent because he crossed one of these crooked Israeli weapon suppliers.  His editors weren’t willing to back him when the ex-general threatened to sue over Melman’s stories about the former’s venal activities in Africa.

One great disappointment of the Israeli arms industry has been the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  There’s no better way to spotlight advanced weapons than showing them off in wartime conditions.  Israel has had ample opportunity to do this with Iron Dome.  Yet foreign militaries aren’t biting, as Reuters notes.  The reporter notes several major reasons for the reluctance of potential purchasers to buy: the uniqueness of military conditions in which Iron Dome is used (shooting down primitive rockets), and Israel’s refusal to sell it to countries which don’t recognize it like the Arab states.

But he omits another important reason why buyers may be holding back.  Major missile experts in Israel and the U.S. have argued that Iron Dome is not effective and has nowhere near the 90% success rate boasted by the IDF.  Unfortunately, Dan Williams has neglected to include this salient negative in his report.  In fact, he ballyhoos Iron Dome:

[Iron Dome is] an advanced new weapon system with a battle-proven success rate of 90 percent

In terms of operational achievement, tested on the Gaza, Lebanese and Egyptian Sinai fronts, Iron Dome is unrivalled in the arms market…

Its effectiveness against Palestinian rocket fire demonstrated beyond doubt since 2011 -

There is, in fact, quite a great deal of doubt.  He doesn’t even note that the 90% claim is based solely on the IDF and the company which produces Iron Dome.

One nation that is prime on Israel’s list as a potential customer is India’s new Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Given his past history as an extreme anti-Muslim nationalist, India is expected to have exceedingly close relations with Israel, which also has its own “Muslim problem,” if you will.  If India hasn’t already ordered Iron Dome (one unnamed country has agreed to buy the system), it can be expected to in the future.

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Remember that Sonny & Cher goldie-oldie from the 60s: The Beat Goes On (h/t, Lynn)?  I thought of it when trying to come up with a suitable title for this post.

Bibi Netanyahu appeared on Face the Nation (transcript of full program) and made some of his most egregious misstatements in a long career of them. Curiously, the segment I’m about to discuss wasn’t aired on the broadcast show.  That’s why you won’t find it in the transcript linked above.  Seems CBS buried the lede!

First, he had the sheer chutzpah to claim that U.S. criticism of Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land was a betrayal of American values. Let’s pause for a second and contemplate the leader of a foreign country telling Barack Obama that he’s disgraced the values of his own country.  Imagine David Cameron telling Francois Hollande that the latter embarrassed French values.  The entire concept is beyond absurd.  What the fug right is it of Bibi to define for Americans what their values are or should be?  And to attack Obama’s valued for being un-American.  Hey, we’ve been down that road before.  We’ve had Americans telling other Americans their values betray this country.  We’ve had enough of that.  And for a foreign leader to do it?  Maddening.

Returning to Bibi’s defense of settlements: ostensibly and according to him, Israeli Jews only want to live in their own country.  Why shouldn’t they be allowed to live anywhere inside that country?  If Palestinians can live where they like in Israel, why shouldn’t Jews?

Here’s a transcript of the above video, which is a short segment of the entire interview:

First, I had a very good meeting with the president and I was baffled by this [criticial U.S.] statement [on settlements] because it doesn’t reflect American values. What we’re being criticized for is that some Jewish residents of Jerusalem bought apartments legally from Arabs in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. and this is seen as a terrible thing. You know, Arabs from East Jerusalem, Palestinians, thousands of them, but apartment in the Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. Nobody says: “You can’t do it.” If I said to you [about] some place in the U.S.: Jews cannot buy apartments here, there’d be an uproar.

I don’t accept this thing. Jews can buy private homes in Arab neighborhoods, Arabs can buy private homes in Jewish neighborhoods. It’s their right!

I was absolutely baffled by this, and it’s against American values and it doesn’t bode well for peace. The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace. I think it works against peace. I don’t think it’s a principle that should be condoned, but condemned…

The president raised the general issue of settlements and I said I think we should address the larger issue, which is not the settlements, but the question of are the Palestinians ready to recognize a nation state for the Jewish people, the way we’re willing to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people? Are they finally willing to come to grips with the existence of Israel. Those are the real issues.

[Concerning the new settlement plan approved by the Jerusalem municipality] It’s not a settlement. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. I think anybody who visited my office…this is three minutes from my office. This is just a neighborhood in Jerusalem. And in this neighborhood that is now being planned with about 2,400 units…what they didn’t tell you is 700 of those units are designated for the Arab residents of Jerusalem. They need housing, the Jewish residents of Jerusalem need housing. Why shouldn’t it be? What is this affront to peace? Why can’t Jews and Arabs live together? What is this…I think this whole line which says that Jews cannot buy apartments in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for the last 3,000 years since King David. Or you cannot have mixed housing projects for Jews and Arabs…I think this is anti-peace. I think [the U.S.] condemning it is wrong. I’m frankly baffled by it and it’s against American values.

Now, let’s unpack the lies one by one.  “Thousands” of Palestinians own apartments in West Jerusalem.  That’s, of course, a lie.  Almost no Palestinians own property in West Jerusalem.  Israel’s Central Bureau lists 3,400 Palestinian families living in West Jerusalem.  Almost all are renting because they cannot find housing in East Jerusalem.  The certainly cannot afford to buy in West Jerusalem given the high price of housing there.  I consulted with an Israeli expert on Jerusalem issues who told me he only knows of one East Jerusalem family that owns property in West Jerusalem.  He said that there may be more, but the number is certainly very small.

In fact, even Israeli Palestinians are severely restricted in terms of where they may live in Israel.  The Supreme Court, supposedly a bastion of liberal humanitarian values, ruled last week that Israeli Jewish residential communities may bar non-Jews from living there.  Here in the U.S., the Congress outlawed housing discrimination in 1965.  Yet in Israel it’s the law of the land.  Fair housing, that’s a real American value.

Where does the broad truth lie concerning Bibi’s claim?  There are Palestinians who move into Israeli Jewish neighborhoods like French Hill which, by the way, is in occupied East Jerusalem (not West Jerusalem).  They move there for several reasons: the housing costs less than in West Jerusalem.  And they’re forced to move from Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem because the Israeli government forbids them from building new housing in their existing neighborhoods.

silwan homes stolen

Israeli riot police confiscating one of seven Palestinian homes stolen through Elad’s “ethnic purification” plan. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Finally, let’s remember that French Hill, where thousands of Israeli Jews live in territory conquered during the 1967 War, is Palestinian.  No one in the world aside from Israel recognizes even this place as falling under Israeli sovereignty.  So if Palestinians live there, Bibi’s doing them no favors.  It’s their land to begin with under international law.

Bibi also justified the recent theft of seven Palestinian homes in Silwan, which were handed over to the quasi-official settler group, Elad, which promptly installed seven Jewish settler families.  The prime minister claimed the property sale was legal and above board.  That’s dubious since so many of these property transactions are fraudulent.  But even if the sale was legitimate, it takes place within a context in which Elad is explicitly attempting to eradicate any Palestinian presence outside the Old City.  It seeks to gradually force out every Palestinian family it can from Silwan and turn Jerusalem Arab-rein.

givat hamatos

Israel’s newest approved settlement, Givat HaMatos Reuters/Ronen Zvulum)

As for Bibi’s final whopper: he claimed that 700 of the 2,400 controversial settlement housing units in the plan will be allocated to “Arabs.”  That’s not true either.  There are four different building proposals for the area called Givat HaMatos.  Only one (containing the 2,400 units) has been approved.  Under the approved plan no housing is set aside for Palestinians.  Under one of the plans not yet approved, 700 units have been set aside for private Palestinian construction.  So no Palestinian housing has been approved and none may be approved considering what may happen between now and when all four plans are approved (if they are).

There is also a major difference between Jewish housing plans and Palestinian (such as they are) since the government guarantees and helps finances the Jewish construction.  No official entity will offer any financial support for the Palestinian construction.

Finally, Bibi’s plaintive Kumbaya moment in which he pleads for Jews and Arabs to live together, and berates Obama for interfering in such harmony-building exercises, is entirely fantasy, if not delusion. Peace Now told USA Today that from 2000-2007 only 91 of 1,694 Palestinian building permits were approved, meaning 94% were rejected. Nearly 19,000 Jewish units were built in the same period. Meaning that many more than that number were approved. In the same period, thousands of Palestinian homes were torn down for allegedly having no construction permit. Almost no Israeli Jewish housing was torn down for this reason, which includes illegal settler outposts.

I’m not opposed to Jews living in Palestinian neighborhoods and Palestinians living in Jewish neighborhoods in the context of a peace deal that recognizes Palestinian rights to territories conquered in 1967 and designates Jerusalem a shared capital in which each people exercises sovereignty in its zones or neighborhoods. But in the absence of such an agreement, what Israel is doing in East Jerusalem is outright theft. It is illegal under international law and under decades of U.S. government policy.

It’s the ultimate irony for Bibi to call U.S. criticism of Israel’s settlement plan a call for “ethinic purification.”  That’s precisely what Israel’s policy is in Jerusalem.  Elad’s mission is to eradicate Palestinian presence from as much of Jerusalem as it can.  And it’s done a remarkable job so far thanks for tens of millions of dollars in government and private funding.  THAT is ethnic purification.

So much for Kumbaya moments.  Bibi Netanyahu is a fantasist with an underlying psychopathology rooted in a nationalist triumphalist ideology. He talks a good game–and if you didn’t know the facts you might have a hard time penetrating the rhetoric. But when you parse what he’s saying he’s as naked as a settler emperor with no clothes.  And as they say about lies, if his lips are moving…

The Obama administration appears to have been unconvinced by Bibi’s performance.  Though Reuters characterized the response as withering, it didn’t seem so to me.  It seemed pallid, and little more than pandering to the Israel Lobby.  But at least it was a rejoinder of some sort:

At his daily briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “It did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying our response did not reflect American values.

“The fact is, American policy has been clear and unchanged under several administrations, both Democrat and Republican.”

Earnest added: “We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem. These can only be legitimately determined through direct negotiations through the parties that this president has worked hard to try to facilitate.”

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Haaretz Censors Interview Reporter Conducted With Me

debra nussbaum cohen censored

Debra Nussbaum Cohen, willingly-censored Haaretz journalist  (PBS)

About two weeks ago, Debra Nussbaum-Cohen sent me an urgent e-mail saying she was on deadline for a Haaretz story and wanted to interview me.  Since her message requested immediate attention I dropped what I was doing, contacted her and set up the interview.  She was reporting on a new “democracy” initiative launched by the New Israel Fund whose PR spin claimed it was modeled on the successful confrontation tactics used by the Israeli extreme right against NIF itself.  Nussbaum Cohen asked my views on the subject and we had a spirited discussion.  Clearly, she disagreed with some of my views, but indicated she wanted such opinions reflected in her article.

aluf benn

Aluf Benn, Haaretz’s managing editor (Haaretz)

I noted to her that I was pleasantly surprised since I knew that Aluf Benn, Amos Schocken and others have been critical of my work regarding Haaretz.  I complimented her that she was willing to be fair and courageous, to allow my perspective to be included within the pages of Haaretz.  I also told her that the fact that my voice was almost never heard in Haaretz (two articles published in the past eleven years and none in the past 18 months) was a credit to her for trying to rectify that omission.

I reminded her that I don’t like giving interviews unless I’m reasonably assured they’ll show up in the finished article.  She assured me there was no reason to think that my comments wouldn’t get published.  She volunteered to send me a link to the finished piece and I replied that I’d be happy to promote it on social media.

That was the last I heard from her.  I saw a few articles on the NIF initiative appear over the ensuring days in other publications.  But yesterday night, I decided to Google Nussbaum Cohen to see if she published her piece.  Indeed she did.  I read it and was “shocked” to find that precisely what I’d feared, happened.  I’d been left on the cutting room floor.  The only question was whether the reporter had cut me or her editors had.  So I tweeted to her and wrote her an e mail making clear I was not happy with the outcome.   This was her reply:

Listen – don’t be a jerk to me. Very nice – especially erev Yom Kippur.

I forgot that I had promised to send you a link.

I included quotes from you in the piece that I filed.  The editors took them out.

And I won’t call you again, since I know you’re not considered quotable by Haaretz in any case.

I replied to her that if anyone was being a jerk it was her since she’d assured me I hadn’t wasted my time doing the interview and that my views would be included.  I added that when a reporter makes a commitment if they can’t or don’t honor it they should either apologize or explain what happened.  She did neither.  I noted that since she’d brought up Yom Kippur, she might want to meditate during Kol Nidre on who owed whom an apology.  I also e-mailed Aluf Benn asking him why my interview had been removed.  He hasn’t replied.

This wasn’t the first time Haaretz buried an interview with me.  A few years ago, a reporter for The Marker conducted an interview with me for a profile which never ran.  The reporter similarly never explained what had happened to the piece.  I’m guessing that an editor axed it for a similar reason to this one.  Even when the NY Times published a front page profile of me related to the Shamai Leibowitz case, Yossi Melman wouldn’t wait long enough to publish his Haaretz article on the story to interview me.

Anyone reading this blog knows my views, both good and bad, on Haaretz.  It is a decent paper as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go far; or certainly not far enough.  Haaretz is the media stalking horse for liberal Zionism.  But the latter fills a niche market within Zionism today and grows increasingly irrelevant, as does Haaretz.  The only reason Haaretz remains relevant is because the entire rest of the Israeli media scene has turned into a rubber stamp (with a very few exceptions) for the Likudist political elite.

There will be those who claim Haaretz remains a progressive paper.  That it still has real left-wing voices.  That may’ve been true in the past, but no longer.  Amira Hass and Gideon Levy are the only reporters left who represent that tradition.  While Haaretz publishes op-ed pieces by writers with such points of view, these are not permanent staffers.  They are guests.

For example, you will find very little about BDS that is sympathetic (except Gideon Levy, natch).  You will find very little about Jewish Voice for Peace that even covers it, let alone that is sympathetic.  You’ll find very little coverage of the real Israeli left (not Labor or Meretz).  You’ll find very little that poses profound skepticism about the underpinnings of Israeli society.  You will find a great deal that nibbles around the edges, that raises questions, that shouts a polite slogan or two.

Now here’s my criticism of the NIF initiative which Haaretz editors censored.  NIF plans to spend a measly $2-million to initiate programs among NGOs with which they already work (they’re adding two new grantees).  This will supposedly strengthen their commitment to Israeli democracy and the fight against the extremist anti-democratic right.  The plan is long on rhetoric and short on specifics.  It doesn’t mention specifically what the money will be spent on, except in general terms.  It’s not clear whether this is new money that will be added to NIF’s existing funding or whether it has reallocated existing funds.

NIF suffers from precisely the same problem as Haaretz itself.  Israel burns while they both fiddle a liberal Zionist tune.  They exist only so that Bibi Netanyahu can boast to the rest of the world that despite how much he hates liberals, he tolerates them for the sake of his vaunted democracy.  Though Haaretz can legitimately claim to have more of an influence on Israeli society, NIF is whistling in the dark.  The settler right has taken over the asylum.  NIF merely chronicles the takeover and nostalgically mourns the loss of some idyllic liberal Zionist past.

NIF consults with, and funds the same limited sets of voices that Haaretz publishes and covers.  If you are a Palestinian NGO and do not endorse Israel as a Jewish state,  you will either be defunded or threatened with defunding.  No matter what it say and funds, NIF is an expression of liberal guilt.  It exists to assuage the consciences of Diaspora Jewish donors who don’t want to entire abandon the concept of Israel as a liberal democracy, though that ship sailed quite some time ago.

In Nusbaum-Cohen’s published article none of these criticisms were reflected.  There was one mildly skeptical comment.   The rest was liberal Zionist pablum.

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gregory chelli

Gregory Chelli, French-Israeli Kahanist stalker

A French Jewish Kahanist named Gregory Chelli, using the code name Ulcan, has been terrorizing pro-Palestine activists in France and around the world for months.  He’s engaged in obsessive pathological activities like stalking and hacking of at least 100 websites supporting the Palestinian cause.  A French reader of this blog wrote me:

He started a chat on-line called ViolVocal (Viol means ‘rape) where he and others encouraged participants to perform ‘transgressing actions’, for instance one of the participants called the Jewish school in Toulouse where Merah killed the Jewish kids 1350 times and made anti-Semitic insults

Presumably he or one of his followers calls pretending to be an Islamist and threatens the school with a terror attack.  This will presumably further smear French Muslims in his mind.

Lately, he’s taken to attacking French journalists who’ve criticized Israel’s massacre during the latest Gaza war.  Benoit Le Corre, who writes for an online publication affiliated with Le Nouvel Observateur, wrote an expose about Chelli’s activities, which didn’t sit well with him.  As a result, Chelli began harrassing phone calls to Le Corre’s elderly father.  In one, he told the father that his son had died.  Another time, he called the police claiming the father had just murdered his wife and son.  The police came to the home at 4AM with guns drawn.  The father was so distraught that five days later he had a massive stroke.  Shortly thereafter, he died.

Chelli later called Le Corre to “offer condolences” and suggested that he and Le Corre could band together to make money off the story.  He records all the calls and airs them on YouTube or the net for the delectation of his fellow pro-Israel psychopaths.

If that were the end of the story, it would not be newsworthy beyond the confines of France.  But in this case, Chelli has fled to Israel (or made aliyah, depending on your perspective), which has offered him a new home from which to plan his ghoulish behavior.  French officials have notified Israel that he is wanted.  Israeli police have done nothing.  So Chelli is free to continue his psychopathic rampage against all who cross him.

gregory chelli underpants

Chelli in one of his more “engaging” poses

Is Chelli engaging in this behavior alone or does he have support?  If so, are his supporters individuals or associated with official sources.  Does the Israeli government or security services have a hand in his activities?  This isn’t a far-fetched question.  A French national has violated serious laws and Israel refuses to take any action.  It leads one to wonder: is it just police incompetence?  Or do the Israeli police tacitly support his agenda?  Or do even more powerful political interests support him?

The Israeli media still haven’t written a single line about this case, which is shameful.  There has been a single post in a local Ashdod-based blog.  It’s now been covered by the BBC and JTA.  Nowhere else, except the French media.

There will be some of claim that people like Chelli are an aberration, not reflective of the rest of Israel.  I’d like to believe that.  But the list of similar Israeli psychopaths infused with ideological zeal and immense hatred for Muslims is too long to be glossed over as a one-shot  deal: Baruch Goldstein, Eden Natan Zada, Jack Teitel, Ephraim Khantses.  The list goes on.  These are Israel’s Joans of Arc.  They lead the rallying cry to which many Israelis hearken.  Even if Israelis reject mass homicide of the sort these figures perpetrated, the mass are sympathetic to the political ideas that underpin their agenda.

Israel has become a state that harbors such murderers and terrorists because the state itself has become a murderer and terrorist after crimes like the Gaza war.  To modify a recent popular Bibi locution: Israel is Chelli, and Chelli is Israel.  Just as Israel acts with depraved indifference to life in the Middle East, it harbors Jewish terrorist who wreak havoc on the lives of other Jews, Palestinians and journalists who seek nothing more than to express their views in a democratic society.  Just as Chelli engages in “transgressive acts” so does Israel.  Just as Israel exploits anti-Semitism for political purposes, so does Chelli.  Just as Chelli engages in fraud, hoaxes and lies to advance his agenda, so does Israel.  It’s a match made in heaven…or hell.

If Israel wishes to disprove this, let them arrest him and ship him back home where he will face justice.  If not, they can have no complaint about the above paragraph.

I have a special interest in such a figure because another pro-Israel hacker employed by IBM Israel, Semion Kras (like Chelli, Kras’ family immigrated to Israel–from Russia), sabotaged this blog.  Kras’ efforts were supported by other pro-Israel hoaxsters and social media frauds like David Lange and Brian London.

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ebola victims

Israel to Sierra Leone Ebola victims: “Drop Dead!”

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, ever alert to opportunities to showcase Israel’s better qualities to the world (aka hasbara), suggested to the foreign ministry that it send a medical field hospital to Sierra Leone, to help that country combat the deadliest outbreak of Ebola the world has ever seen.  Powers offered Israel a golden opportunity in the aftermath of the Gaza slaughter to show the world a kinder, gentler face.

This is precisely what Israel did in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake when it parachuted a team into the country where it stayed for two weeks, named a new baby “Israel” and promptly left–after videotaping the enterprise for suitable exploitation in hasbara efforts.  I called that escapade, The Zionization of Disaster Relief.

But this time, it was not to be.  Though the foreign ministry approved the project, it required the blessing of the defense ministry.  Bogie Yaalon isn’t known for his humanitarian spirit and he showed it in spades this time.  He refused to offer assistance to an African country absolutely bereft of resources to fight the epidemic saying:

Yaalon said it would risk infecting Israeli medical teams and the army troops that would secure them, according to Ynet. Israel’s assistance was sought in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This further reinforces the notion of Israel and the IDF in particular being racist, favoring the lives of Israeli Jews over the lives of African epidemic victims.  Of what use are Israel’s vaunted medical advances (trumpeted in hasbara campaigns the world over) if it doesn’t utilize them to help non-Israelis in need?  Think about it: the IDF just murdered 2,100 Gazans, 500 children among them.  Here it has a chance to mitigate some of that awful PR and it refuses.  Scratch your head and wonder who’s runnin’ the ship…

Add to this that Israel has 60,000 African refugees which it treats like dirt and you don’t have a very pretty picture.  The Israeli Supreme Court directed the government to close the refugee detention camp at Holot.  So far it has refused.  Remember all those pro-Israel advocates bragging about the rule of law and Israeli democracy?  Not so much in this case.

H/t Massoud Derhally.

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