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adam milstein and adelsons

Milstein and Adelson families

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the misdeeds of Adam Milstein (aka Tuvia Milsztein), the convicted felon, millionaire Los Angeles real estate developer and donor to far-right Israel advocacy.  He was born and raised in Israel, graduated from the Technion in 1978 and arrived in America in 1981.  He founded a real estate partnership, Hager Pacific Properties, which manages millions of square-feet of commercial real estate throughout the U.S.  His net worth is around $147-million and he lives with his wife, Gila in a sumptuous home in the wealthy Los Angeles suburb of Encino.  They manage a family foundation with $15-million in assets which distributes about $1.5-million mostly to pro-Israel causes (see below) each year.

Unfortunately for him, Milstein has a habit of cutting corners in his charitable and political endeavors.  Most recently, in UCLA student government elections he solicited thousands of dollars in campaign donations to pro-Israel candidates.  Not only is it unusual for outsiders to fund campus elections, the manner in which Milstein did this is even more disturbing.  He donated $50,000 to the UCLA Hillel, entitling him to a tax-deduction, at the same time instructing $1,000 of it to be “passed-through” to the “Bruins for Israel” political campaign.  Though Hillel denied it supported the election campaign, the candidate himself wrote a letter thanking Milstein for his donation; and Milstein wrote e-mails asking friends to follow his example and designate Hillel gifts for the election.

I’m personally offended by this because when I attended UCLA doing an MA in Comparative Literature, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller was someone I looked up to as campus Hillel director.  He was a liberal man, open and tolerant.  In fact, after Chaim was sued by Rachel Neuwirth, I defended him here and earned Neuwirth’s enmity for it.  She even sued me and it took seven years before she finally exhausted all her legal options and lost.  But Chaim allowed Hillel to be abused in this case.  In fact, every single Hillel the Forward approached inquiring whether they would engage in a similar transaction, said flat-out, No.  Not Chaim.  He went for it.  When the Forward asked him for comment before publication, he remained silent.  After the Forward published, Chaim complained to the publisher.  But there was nothing to complain about.  The coverage was spot-on.  It was Chaim’s behavior that wasn’t.

While I don’t pretend to be a tax lawyer, I would think the IRS would look askance at non-profit organizations like Hillel using tax-deductible donations to fund political campaigns.  If it allowed it, what’s to stop Sheldon Adelson from finding a willing non-profit into which he could pour $150-million and then pass it to the GOP for the 2018 presidential race.  The gambling tycoon would thus play a critical role in determining the next president while getting $150-million in tax-deductions.  That would be quite a feat!

Abe Greenhouse uncovered a bit of Milstein’s sordid past at Electronic Intifada.  Despite his great wealth, he hankered to keep as much of it as possible out of the hands of Uncle Sam.  A decade ago, a Rumanian Hasidic sect, the Spinka, employed a nifty tax-evasion fraud which many wealthy Jews availed themselves of.  In 2006 alone, Spinka accepted $8.5-million in “donations,” which it returned to the donors after skimming a 7% “fee” off the top.  While the scheme is patently illegal, it performed useful tasks for both parties.  The Spinka received an infusion of cash which they used to maintain their community.  And donors got a tax-deduction for money which was largely returned to them.

Milstein liked the idea so much that he put $170,000 of his own money into it.  He was caught, convicted and spent three months in federal prison, which makes him a convicted felon.  Among those who wrote letters begging for leniency from the judge were the usual suspects in the pro-Israel community.  But a former Israel counsel general in Los Angeles also wrote on official government stationery telling the judge the services Milstein had performed for his homeland.

There is a distinct similarity between his Spinka and UCLA Hillel donations.  In each case, there was subterfuge involved.  In the case of Spinka, Milstein sought to get something for nothing.  In the UCLA Hillel case, he sought to disguise his political donation while getting a tax deduction for his efforts.  Also, in both cases the pro-Israel donor took a tax-deduction he didn’t deserve.  We know for certain his actions in the Spinka case were a felony.  Unfortunately, no one has yet held him accountable for his manipulation of IRS regulations in the Hillel case.  The FBI shouldn’t take kindly to convicted felons who continue their fraudulent ways after serving a prison sentence.

The Israeli developer is a key political-charitable operative in the pro-Israel movement.  His family foundation has given millions to a roster of “A-list” right-wing nationalist charities, but his two largest gifts are to StandWithUs and Aipac’s American Israel Education Foundation.  His 2013 IRS 990 form lists these gifts to right-wing organizations:

StandWithUs, $163,000
Israeli American Council, $47,000
Hasbara Fellowships (Aish HaTorah), $30,000
Chabad, $75,000
Aish HaTorah, $60,000
Birthright, $36,000
UCLA Hillel, $60,000
American Israel Education Foundation (Aipac Congressional junkets to Israel), $247,00
Christians United for Israel, $20,000
Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes), $10,000
Foundation for Defense of Democracies, $10,000
CAMERA, $25,000
Reut, $11,000
United Nations Watch (Hillel Neuer), $5,000
Louis Brandeis Center (Ken Marcus, pro-Israel campus legal advocacy) $5,000
Imagination Productions (the film-affiliate of Jerusalem U, founded by Raphael Shore and Aish HaTorah) $25,000
Friends of the IDF $15,000
Doc Emet (Israel-advocacy film production company) $25,000
NGO Monitor (Gerald Steinberg), $5,000
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, $5,000
Jewlicious, $1,000
The Israel Project, $20,000
Project Interchange, (AJC Israel junket program for minorities) $40,000
MEMRI, $10,000
David Horowitz Freedom Center, $5,000

Milstein was a founder and current board member of the Israeli American Council, a pro-Israel lobby for Israel-emigrants who seek to infuse American life with a patriotic fervor for Israel.  The group’s annual fundraiser last night raised an unprecedented $23-million, which will be used to add political muscle to their message.  They appear to seek to be the Israeli-emigrant equivalent to Aipac.


But what really brought me to write this post was an atrocious act of pro-Israel propaganda, indeed what I call Zio-porn.  It’s this picture, which I find so objectionable and horrific that the only reason I’m displaying it is because I want those who surf the web to find both this picture and this post so they will know far more about the real truth behind it than Milstein offered when he pimped it last summer.

On July 31st, at the height of Operation Protective Edge, he posted this image to Twitter saying it featured a “Hamas terrorist” using children as human shields to protect a residential building from Israel attack.  Anyone familiar with the ways of the hasbara apparatus would smell a rat as soon as they saw this picture and Milstein’s caption.

Indeed, both Wild Flowers (first) and Little Green Footballs (a day later) had punctured the fraud within a day of its posting to social media.  They noted that the earliest publication of the photo they could find was in June, 2011 when it was posted by a Palestinian Facebook account.  There is little information offered about the origin or original meaning of the image there.  In fact, we don’t know where the photo was taken, when it was taken, who it pictures, or what the context of it is.  We only know a Palestinian posted it to Facebook.  I’ve sent a message to him asking about this, but he hasn’t responded.

There you have it: an ex-felon who continues to skate just this side of the law in his pro-Israel political involvements at UCLA.  One who crudely smears Palestinians and Muslims.  Milstein’s actions in this particular case also coincide with a large cross-section of the pro-Israel charities he funds, which lie through their teeth on a regular basis to advance what they perceive as Israel’s interests.

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Israeli Elections 2015: Likud Losing, Labor Rallying

haaretz election poll

Haaretz election poll

A curious thing happened in the past few days in the Israeli election race.  Something I didn’t expect at all.  Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud has lost momentum and fallen in a number of polls to 21 seats from a previous high of 24 seats or so.  The Zionist Camp has advanced marginally to 24  (and in some polls, 25) seats.

None of this would matter except that several other developments have paralleled these results.  The other rightist parties which would be Likud’s natural allies in a future governing coalition have also flagged.  Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu has fallen from 11 seats in the current Knesset, to four seats in polls (that would remove his party altogether from Knesset, as 5 seats is the minimum threshold).  Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi has fallen as well from its current Knesset level of 12, to 11 in the latest polls.

Everyone from the center to the left has rallied in the latest poll.  Along with the rise in the Zionist Camp numbers, the Joint List is polling 13 seats, making it the third largest grouping in Knesset.  Its fortunes have rallied because of a predicted 5% uptick in Israeli Palestinian participation at the polls over the last election (and nearly 8% uptick over the one previous to that).  The new center-right Kulanu has added seats and now polls at 11.

yisrael hayom front page

Yisrael HaYom (Bibiton) front-page headline yesterday: “In Likud, Fear of Leftist Government.” (Amir Schiby)

If you do the math, and if Zionist Camp maintains 24 seats, and the other results remain close to the current projections, there is one kosher way the center-left can form a governing coalition (and one treif way, more on that later).  But it poses a thorny issue for two different parties and two different ethnic groups within Israeli society.  By combining Zionist Camp, Kulanu, Yesh Atid, Joint List and Meretz you get 66 seats.  There’s an outside chance if one of the smaller parties drops out that they could pick up Shas, though this is an unlikely fit.

The thorny issue is the Joint List, which is composed of Israeli Palestinian parties and Hadash, a joint Jewish-Palestinian Party.  No Israeli ruling coalition has ever included a Palestinian Party.  So either this new coalition could make a major break with tradition or it could use tacit support of the Joint List to bolster it, but rule as a minority coalition.  For many reasons, this option could be quite problematic.  It would require staunch Zionists to agree to include Palestinian nationalists like Haneen Zoabi, who is widely detested among Israeli Jews, in a common cabinet.  Or it would require the same staunch Zionists to rule with the tacit support of Israeli Palestinians.

If Jewish MKs cared more about democracy than ethnic solidarity, they would acknowledge that 13 seats makes the Joint List the third largest in the Knesset.  To refuse to include such a major constituency fully in the political process would be a travesty of democracy.  But we all know how that goes when it comes to such matters in Israel.

Should the center-left try to form a majority entirely ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian segment, they might have to do something as strange as including both Shas (and/or Yachad, which is Eli Yishai’s party) and Yisrael Beitenu (Lieberman).  That would get them to 62 seats, 69 if you include Yachad.  Not only do Lieberman and Shas hate each other, ideologically they would make strange bedfellows with Labor.  Not that such strange political groupings haven’t happened before.  When they have, they were a recipe for political quagmire since no group within the coalition could move its own agenda.  This majority would range from far-right secular nationalists like Lieberman to two Mizrahi rightist ultra-Orthodox parties.  It would be a strange and ugly political animal.

It’s entirely possible that Yesh Atid and Kulanu, which are center-right parties, might refuse Labor’s offer and allow its chances to collapse.  At which point, they can join with a rightist mono-racial coalition.  Should this happen, there are many permutations which would permit a rightist coalition led by Likud.

In the event (even now, unlikely) a center-left government comes into existence, no one should start cheering.  Don’t expect peace agreements, don’t even expect much-needed domestic reform revolving around social justice issues.  This political formation, while slightly more ideologically homogeneous than recent ones, will still have awkward bedfellows.  And it will have to relate in some way, even if awkwardly, to the fact that it needs at least tacit Palestinian support to survive.

A center-left government would offer the same hopes and suffer from the same disappointments America faced in 2008 after Obama’s election.  The promise was so great and the results were so miserable.  I suspect this is what will happen in Israel as well (the the major difference that in Israel there is no charismatic Great Israeli Hope, as Obama was in 2008).

Let’s also not forget that the Zionist Camp was formed by the merger of Labor with HaTehuah, itself an awkward alliance.  Part of the agreement involved a rotation of prime ministers between Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.  This has happened only once in the past few decades in a 1984 Labor-Likud national unity government.  There’s a good reason why it’s never happened since.  There’s too much ego involved, too little willingness to share the “spoils” of power.  I predict it won’t lead to a stable government.

Finally, unless the Joint List joins the government (again unlikely), there is little hope of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.  Even with a center-left ideological composition, there isn’t enough will to compromise.  You may hear the liberal-Zionist-friendly world media paint rosy portraits of the future, in the event this outcome materializes.  But don’t believe them till you see the color of the money and the cards on the table.

There is one delicious irony about this election.  At the rate Lieberman’s Party is currently polling, his Party may disappear altogether from Knesset.  Those with good memory will remember it was Lieberman himself who spearheaded the legislation raising the threshold from 2.5 to 3.25%.  At the time, he expected it would destroy the chances the Israeli Palestinian parties would be represented, since as distinct parties they could not cross the threshold.  But they outsmarted him, joined together as a single Joint List, and he may be stuck picking up the pieces of his own political career come election day.  “I’m lovin’ it!”

If this happens, it will have dramatic repercussions for the political future.  The Israeli right is jockeying for position come the day Bibi retires from political life.  Until now, the two main contenders have been Naftali Bennett and Lieberman.  If Lieberman is eliminated from Knesset along with his entire Party, it will leave Bennett as the only logical standard bearer for the future.  In fact, barring any major catastrophes, arrests, scandals, etc. he may be the future inheritor of the right-wing throne.  I should add an asterisk here, as Moshe Kahlon is a wildcard.  The former Likud darling’s Party has rallied from earlier poll results and appears to be making a last-minute surge.  If that continues, he could become the new political flavor of the month, replacing Yair Lapid, who served that role in the last election.

Meretz too has been on the brink of elimination.  They currently poll at 6 seats (earlier they were polling at 5).  If they fall under 5 they too will disappear.  Given their rise in the current poll, they appear safe (just barely).

As an addendum, let’s not forget the undecided voters.  From 15-20% have still not made up their minds.  My guess is that many of them are former Likud voters disgusted with Netanyahu and unsure whether to return to Likud or switch to Bennett or Lieberman.  If I’m right, there could be some uptick in the results for any of these three parties.

This article profiles the undecided voters and notes they are 16% of the total.  They are 2/3 women, 63% secular and 56% consider social-economic issues to be primary.  That would bode well for Kahlon’s Kulanu Party, since he’s made this an important part of his platform.  You’ll recall in the last election no one predicted Yesh Atid’s come-from-nowhere showing of 19 seats.  It’s entirely possible this time many of the undecided will move from being former Likud to Kulanu voters.  That could sweep the latter past the Joint List as third largest Party, and make it a kingmaker between a left or right-wing coalition.  Keep in mind that Kahlon is a former Likud minister.  As such his heart will be more in a coalition with his former political colleagues on the right.

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Purim, the Jewish holiday that happened a few days ago is a strange one.  It’s an amalgam of genocide and celebration, drunken revelry, hitting perfect strangers in the street (with toy hammers), raucous noise, and donning crazy costumes.  It’s a little bit Halloween and a little big Super Bowl.  But there’s a dark underlying savagery to this holiday.  That’s because, according to the Book of Esther, the king’s advisor, Haman, plots the extermination of the Jews of Persia.  He fails and in the process it is his entire family and supporters who are wiped out on scaffolds erected throughout the kingdom, originally meant for the Jews.  There is no other way to describe this than genocide.  What other holiday you can think of celebrates mass murder?

So Purim is one of those truly weird holidays when everything is turned topsy-turvy.  Not only may you drink, you are commanded to get soused–until you can’t tell the difference (adloyada) between the name Haman and Mordechai (the Jewish hero).  I may be a bit of a control freak, but imagine being commanded to drink till you can’t tell the difference between Hitler and Anne Frank?  It’s downright disconcerting.

This bizarreness has carried over to latter-day Israel.  Last year, Israeli high school students costumed themselves as hooded Klansmen with other students in black-face in chains and about to be lynched.  Not terribly edifying.  But this year, things got weirder still.

Israeli-Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi just may be the most hated figure in Israel as far as Jews are concerned.  She plays a similar role to the one Malcolm X played in 1960s America.  Just as Malcolm infamously said after the Kennedy assassination that it was the “chickens coming home to roost” and that violence is “as American as apple pie;” similarly many of  Zoabi observations about Israeli life have stuck in the craw of Jews.  They hate her for sailing on the Mavi Marmara.  They hate her for saying that Palestinian terror is a direct response to Israeli Occupation.  Malcolm was murdered.  There are many Jews who would love to see Zoabi get the same fate.

israeli mock murder of haneen zoabi

Jihadi Jew “decapitates” Haneen Zoabi

Threats against her life are a regular occurrence.  There are Facebook accounts which feature her face in a gunsight.  Only last week (before Purim), the Interdisciplinary Center, a private institution known for producing graduates who enter Israeli intelligence and similar fields, hosted a colloquium on Israeli feminism.  Zoabi was invited to speak.  As she did, a thug associated with Kahanist Baruch Marzel (a Knesset candidate) threw a can of soda at her which drenched her head.  Zoabi’s press representative was struck and injured by a flag pole.  In this Walla headline, she exclaims: “This could easily have ended in murder.”

Imagine, at an event showcasing Israeli feminism, a bunch of male retards violently assault two Israeli women.  Not to mention that it’s shameful that IDC, a so-called academy of learning couldn’t protect its own guests.  There’s a lesson there.

Not to be outdone, this year on Purim another Jewish genocidaire featured this image of himself dressed as Jihadi Jew, preparing to “decapitate” an associate dressed as an ISIS hostage and wearing a Zoabi mask.  The image was sent to an Israeli media outlet which published it under the title, Provocation.  I’ll say.

Those of you who know something about the history of radical movements will remember the fate of Rosa Luxembourg.  She was the Jewish Communist who tried to found a worker’s republic in post-WWI Germany.  For her troubles, she and her lover were both assassinated in 1919 by soldier-thugs who eventually became proud members of the German Nazi army.  This is what may be coming for Israel.  I will not say that someone will murder Haneen Zoabi.  I dearly hope that this is not so.  But there is so much hate, expressed so overtly, that it almost can’t help but lead to murder.

Remember 1995? When Bibi shouted from the balcony in the heart of Jerusalem like Hitler at Nuremberg?  Yigal Amir was there lapping it up.  Along with the settler rabbis pulsa di nura, this was all Amir needed to commence his plot.  Within weeks Rabin had been assassinated.  Bibi was an accessory to murder, though never charged.  If such an event happens again, you’ll hear the same crocodile tears from Israelis of all stripes (though much less so because mere “Arabs” don’t merit the level of mourning a Jew would).  But the breast-beating won’t change anything.  This is an entire nation going, not so slowly, mad.  And led by their dear leader, Der Bibi.

Following on the ISIS theme, Avigdor Lieberman had his own little beer hall putsch last night rallying his Party’s troops for the coming election.  Rightist politicians always throw red meat to their followers during such election carnivals.  Lieberman didn’t disappoint.  In fact, he outdid himself.  He railed against “Arabs” who flew black flags of mourning on “Israel Independence Day” (Nakba is the tragedy that dare not speak its name or fall from Yvet’s lips).  He said that if such people refused to do their share and serve in the IDF, then there’s nothing to be done for it but to “lift an ax and chop their heads off,” as ISIS does to its enemies.

As you read this I know lots of images and thoughts are flowing through your mind.  But the prevailing thought in my mind is that we now have our own Israeli version of ISIS.  Perhaps Lieberman, who was a bar bouncer in Moldova, had a bit too much to drink himself on Purim and couldn’t tell the difference between Israel and ISIS.

One of the many ironies of this macabre affair is that the event at which Lieberman made these remarks was called “Choose Democracy 2015.”  Yessir, democracy Yvet-style means lopping off the heads of those to whom you’d like to deny democracy.  Remember Alice’s topsy-turvy world?  Where everything is the opposite of what it appears to be?

On Twitter, they’re calling Israel, #JSIS.  But I prefer #JS for “Judean state.”  That is, a rump settler state with a new Davidic monarchy.  It’s ruled not by democracy–that’s out.  Rather, it’s run by halacha.  But a peculiar form of Jewish law as interpreted not by learned rabbis studying sacred tomes in book-lined studies, but rather by settler rabbis bearing Uzis and AK-47s and backed by a settler militia.

There is a law in Israel against incitement.  Under it, Lieberman should be charged, convicted and jailed.  Instead of Zoabi being expelled from Knesset, Lieberman should be.  As should the author of the Zoabi Purim stunt.  But none of them will be censured.  In fact, they’ll be rewarded.  Lieberman’s voters will reward him by rallying to his cause and offering his even more seats in the next election.

anat roth isis purim

Anat Roth Facebook page: “If there isn’t a big Bayit Yehudi, this is what’s in store. Happy Purim!”

Following on the ISIS-Purim theme, we have yet another political hopeful, Anat Roth, running 16th on the Bayit Yehudi (Naftali Bennett’s Party) list.  Roth is a former Peace Now activist who like Irving Kristol, was “mugged by reality.”  Palestinian reality, that is.  That turned her into a raving right-wing lunatic.  Yuval Steinitz underwent a similar transformation.  Now, he repeats his Likudist slogans robotically, like the best of the Likudniks.

Roth thought of an ingenious Purim photo to share with her Facebook Friends.  She dressed a friend in an ISIS costume, replete with sharp-edged knife in her belt.  Roth donned an orange hostage jumpsuit and lowered her head in mock-preparation for the blade.  The caption for the photo: “Either we get a large [election turnout for] Bayit Yehudi–or we get this.”

Remember my recent post in which I portrayed the melee at another Party rally in which gay activists heckled Bennett for his homophobia and destroying the Israeli social safety net with his government policies?  For their trouble, they were assaulted and injured by Party thugs with the police refusing to take any action whatsoever.  Far-right political violence in Israel? As Israeli as felafel and pita.

There will be those apologists for this lunacy who will say it’s aberrant, not characteristic of the entire nation.  But it’s easy to see that a foreign minister and candidate for Knesset are the lifeblood of this Judean settler state once known as Israel.  You can’t put this down to a few rotten eggs or bad apples.

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hisham sha'alan

Hisham Sha’alan, Syrian Druze sheikh arrested under Shabak gag order

Israel’s Shabak arrested yet another Syrian Druze under gag order.  Though his identity and arrest may not be reported inside Israel, I’m doing so here: he is Hisham Sha’alan, a sheikh from the Golan village of Ein Qiniyye.  The case is most assuredly connected to the alleged “serious espionage” scandal which the intelligence service is trying to brew.  That is based on another secretly arrested Druze activist, Sedki al-Maqet, who filmed a nighttime meeting between Syrian Islamist rebels and the IDF at the border of Israel-occupied Golan.

Sha’alan’s arrested was also reported by Syrian media outlet, Sana, which also aired the video al-Maqet shot of the meeting between likely al Nusra fighters and the IDF.  I’ll repeat what I wrote in earlier posts: Syrian Druze are not Israeli citizens. No one aside from Israel recognizes Israel’s conquest of the Golan.  Therefore Israel has no legal jurisdiction over these suspects.  Labeling their activities as crimes is ludicrous.  They are resisting Israeli Occupation and informing the world about Israeli collusion with al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists.  That’s what truly embarrasses Israel.

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The State of Israel just announced who would receive the honor of lighting the torch that marks the start of Israel Independence Day.  It went to Israeli TV news anchor, Lucy Aharish.  She is a young Israeli-Palestinian who grew up among Moroccan Jews in Dimona.  Her politics during this period were exceedingly right-wing.  And today, they still bear traces of that upbringing.  She speaks Hebrew with no Palestinian accent, dresses like a hip Tel Avivit, and bears no semblance of her ethnic roots.  Her politics around the Palestinian conflict are typically liberal Zionist (“We have other things to get over besides the occupation and discrimination”).  It’s a problem not of her making nor is it her responsibility to fix it or speak on anyone’s behalf but her own.

The only time Lucy Aharish spoke out was when a settler thug attacked her verbally during a TV interview.  At that point, she did speak up for herself and put the interviewee in his place.  But other than that, you’d hardly know Aharish was “Arab,” to use the slightly pejorative Hebrew phrasing.

Just as Israeli advocacy groups like Aish HaTorah and StandWithUs love to single out Muslim and Arab Uncle Tom’s for special approbation, the choice of Aharish fits that mold.  She’s Arab, but she’s one of “us.”  She’s not one of “them,” except in a nominal sense.  She’s the good “Arab” because you hardly even know she’s Arab:

“What’s more important for me is the brand name Lucy Aharish. The Arab sector does not pay me a salary. My national identify is that of an Arab-Israeli. I identify with Palestinian suffering, but I am not part of it. I have a different suffering here: I am not getting the rights that accrue to me as a citizen of Israel – such as better mortgage terms – because I did not do army service.”

international women's day protest wounded protester

Woman overcome by tear gas at today’s Palestinian women’s protest

israeli attack dog assault palestinian woman

Israeli police attack dog assaults Palestinian woman

Now, I want to do a Compare and Contrast: note the image of a Palestinian woman protesting against the Occupation.  Despite the fact that she and those tear gassed and assaulted with stun grenades today were unarmed, that didn’t stop Israeli police thugs from using violence to break up their non-violent demonstration.

Israel should take pride that it orders dogs to attack unarmed women.  That’s part of the Zionist dream, isn’t it?  To shed blood for the homeland?  Preferably the blood of the enemy.  And lots of it.

Finally, here is the State of Israel’s official media self-promotion (hasbara) for International Women’s Day.  What does it tout?  That it’s designed special joysticks for drone operators so women’s smaller hands can be more comfortable.  What an achievement!  Enabling women to have the privilege of killing Palestinian civilians just like men.  Zionism’s contribution to the liberation of women!

A few relevant facts: 300 of those murdered by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge were women.  A survey by a human rights NGO found that 37% of Gazans murdered during Operation Protective Edge were killed by drones.  If you keep in mind that up to 80% of the Gazan dead were civilians, you can do the math and determine how many civilians those female drone operators killed.  Happy Women’s Day everyone–Israel-style!

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idf al nusra meeting

Golan border meeting between IDF and al-Nusra fighters (Press TV)

Despite an ironclad gag order within Israel prohibiting publication of even a single detail of the “espionage” case against Sedki al-Maket, Hilal Halabi and several other Golani Druze, word is beginning to circulate in foreign media.  Beyond the two posts here, and the original video aired on Syrian state TV, now Press TV has published new pictures showing IDF officers meeting in broad daylight at the Quneitra border-crossing.  This further bolsters the claims of al-Maket and my own reporting here.

Given the orientation of the picture, it was clearly taken on the Israeli-occupied side of the ceasefire line.  That means it’s likely an IDF soldier took the picture.  That could be where Hilal Halabi comes in.  He was arrested this week, presumably as part of the same case involving al-Maket.  I speculated at the time that Halabi may’ve notified the Golani reporter about the nighttime meeting.  It’s possible the soldier took this picture as well.  These are educated guesses about how this could’ve played out.

The IDF-al Nusra collaboration is the region’s worst-kept secret: the IDF has made an alliance of convenience with al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra.  It’s done this because it believes that Hezbollah, al-Nusra’s enemy, is a more dangerous adversary.  Keep in mind, that when Hezbollah was first founded, the Mossad too made common cause with it against Israel’s then enemies, the Palestinians.

If Assad were ever overthrown and the Sunni-affiliated al-Nusra took over Syria or large portions of it, and its agenda transformed them into enemies of Israel, then Israel will be fighting the same conflict with al Nusra it’s now fighting with Hezbollah.  God, doesn’t this get old to any Israeli strategists?  Don’t they get deja vu regarding crap like this?  Apparently not.  They’re gluttons for ongoing punishment.  Or else they need to have a potent enemy at hand to justify the garrison-perpetual-war state they’ve created.

In breaking this story, I’ve observed an important principle: Israeli intervention in regional affairs is almost always toxic.  No matter what short-term interest Israel believes it’s advancing, invariably military alliances like this (and the one with the South Lebanese Army in the 1980s) go all to hell and blow up in everyone’s faces.  To the argument pro-Israelists advance–that Israel has no choice since its enemies have their own proxies who intervene in Israel’s affairs–I say: do the deal you know must be made.  Get right with your neighbors.  Accept the Saudi peace plan.  Give back the Golan.  Then you will no longer have any powder kegs into which your enemies can throw matches.

For his troubles, Press TV’s Golan reporter received a ‘friendly’ visit from the IDF.  They asked where he got the pictures (which means the army already knew they were legitimate).  Then they warned him that he was under special observation.  Given the IDF’s murder of journalists in Gaza during the summer war, such a warning is not an idle threat.  Nor did the reporter take it that way.

UPDATE: Since writing the following, I’ve since identified the location of the photo, as I noted above.

I should also add that we do not know the provenance of these pictures.  We don’t know who took them, when they were taken or where (by the way, if anyone reading this knows the Golan and can identify this border crossing, please be in touch).

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It’s campaign season in Israel.  Which means the TV viewing public gets to see a series of increasingly histrionic, election ads attempting to provoke atavistic fears of terror, the Holocaust and national extermination.  The latest example is an ad so revolting that it was pulled a day after it was released.

In the video, a group of Israeli workers and entrepreneurs hold an Alcoholics Anonymous-style meeting whose purpose is to share horror stories about how the Netanyahu government ruined their lives.  The attendees represent archetypes, all of which the average Israeli would find objectionable: the cell phone gouger who charged high fees, the port worker who was paid handsomely for doing no work, and the public broadcasting official who collected license fees from the public.  Finally, a Hamas fighter speaking atrocious Hebrew is thrown in for good measure.  Bibi, you see, has ruined his life since Hamas is supposedly now a vanquished fighting force (as if).

The ad is blatantly false or misleading in a number of ways.  First, Bibi had little to do with breaking the cell phone monopoly.  Credit for this is generally offered to Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud minister, who has since bolted and founded a rival political party.  As for the public broadcaster, clearly Israelis don’t appreciate paying licensing fees for watching television.  But the true purpose of Bibi’s assault on this public service is his resentment of its journalistic independence.  Bibi would much prefer private media companies controlling the airwaves, so that they’d be owned by his oligarch pals like Ronald Lauder or Sheldon Adelson.  A public utility owned by the nation is a threat.  So for that reason Bibi plans not just to end licensing fees, but to break up public broadcasting altogether.

I leave the “best” (or worst) for last.  The Hamas fighter in this video calls himself “Abu Loti.”  This is a revolting term for “gay” in Arabic.  In effect, it means “fag.”  So some smart Likud media consultant thought: eyzeh keyf (“what a lark”) to make fun of Hamas and earn points from the Israeli public.  But in effect this homophobic smear insults all Israeli gays as well.  It’s shameful.

But that’s not what’s most disturbing.  What’s most disturbing is the reason the video was pulled had nothing to do with the homophobic slur.  Rather, Israeli media criticized the video for lumping Hamasniks with Israeli workers.  THAT is what disturbed the Israeli public most.

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