The video is my latest interview, tonight, on PressTV speaking of western intervention in the Middle East against ISIS in the aftermath of the Paris terror attack.
In times like these I trot out those wonderful lyrics from The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again: “Meet the new boss, just like the old boss.” In tonight’s case we’re talking about the new war against ISIS that western leaders from King Abdullah to Pres. Obama to Francois Hollande have blithely declared. One hardline Israeli commentator went so far as to declare “World War III.” Law professor Thane Rosenbaum blogged this nonsense at the Times of Israel: We are All Israelis Now. Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli security correspondent, even offered this Dogs of War headline for his article on the terror attacks: To defeat ISIS West must pay the price soldiers returning in coffins. It was later softened to: To defeat ISIS, West must be willing to pay the price with soldiers’ lives.
It’s especially painful when, as George Santayana noted long ago, people who should know better refuse to learn the lessons of history. The west has offered the Middle East no end of pain, blood and sorrow over nearly two centuries of colonial conquest. Throughout this period, countries have regularly decided that they have an obligation to remake the region in their image, to bring civilization or democracy, to modernize. There are no end of motivations, all of which sounded good enough to undertake one disastrous project or another in furtherance of some laudable goal or other.
But I especially want to focus on 9/11. Those attacks by al-Qaeda determined George Bush to launch a never-ending “crusade” (as he once called it in an unfortunate choice of words) against “radical Islam.” He called it, infamously, the “war on terror.” That was the war that Barack Obama told us only a few years ago, was being retired from his political lexicon.
Trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives (and hundreds of thousands of Arab lives) later; and after invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the region remains much as we found it. Yes, we rid it of some thoroughly nasty individuals like Saddam and Osama bin Laden, but we inspired the rise of others just as capable as them, who weren’t even a gleam in our eye when we first started this campaign. We’ve also offered to the region two states which are arguably less stable than they were before we toppled their former leaders.
ISIS: a Golem of Our Making
We are now beginning to hear about the origins of the recent Paris terror attacks. Claims are made that it commenced with ISIS’ top commander Ali Bakr al-Baghdadi, who directed his operatives in the west to launch multiple “operations” against western nations who had joined in an alliance to attack him. Who was he in 2001? Nothing and no one. But some genius in Saudi Arabia or Turkey who was desperate to counter Bashar al Assad’s massacre of his people in 2011, came up with the brilliant idea of throwing their support behind this Sunni killing machine. Al-Baghdadi was the result. Not to mention, where do we think the fundamentalist theology underpinning ISIS originated? In the mosques and madrassas of Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahabi Islam.
What the west finds is that those who it creates to serve short-term interests can become uncontrollable monsters who take on a life of their own. Like the medieval Golem, the master creates them in an hour of need. But then the servant becomes more powerful than his creator, who loses control. The servant becomes a monster with a will and mind of his own.
That was the Afghan mujahadeen, among them Osama bin Laden, in 1979. It was Saddam Hussein, whom Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney armed during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. For Ariel Sharon, it was the Lebanese Phalange who in 1983 murdered 3,000 Lebanese Muslims in Sabra and Chatilla. Now, it is ISIS.
We create the monster. Then we try to kill it when it goes on a rampage and turns against us. Even if we succeed, new monsters arise from the clay we used to create the first one.
There is no doubt that there are good, or at least understandable intentions behind these original projects. Countries naturally need local allies. But when you create an ally whose sole goal is to be your hired killer, then it can’t end well for anyone, including yourself.
Arutz 7 settler-brand Islamophobia
A word now about Israel’s especially pernicious hijacking of the Paris attack. After 9/11, Bibi secretly rejoiced because he knew this was exactly what was needed to draw the U.S. into Israel’s orbit around questions of radical Islam and counter-terror. Haaretz capsulated one of his speeches about the attack as “good for Israel.” And Bibi has milked it for all it’s worth since.
Now, we have Israel’s “brilliant” counter-terror strategists like Defense Minister Bogie Yaalon advising the French to abandon individual rights for the sake of “security.” Just as Israel has long done of course. Not to be left out of the radical Islam propaganda sweepstakes, Bibi says that the killers in Paris are no different from “Arab” killers who stalk the West Bank seeking to spill Jewish blood.
My advice: be careful what you wish for. If you take Israel’s advice you become Israel. You sacrifice the very values which make you distinct as a nation. In America, you throw away the Constitution. In France, you throw away egalite, fraternite and most of all, liberte. I say, if Israel wants to go down this road, we can’t stop it. But if it wants to drag the rest of the western world with it–we don’t have to go along.
The vicious Arutz Sheva cartoon I’ve featured here is emblematic of some of this noxious thinking. In it, an innocent young Israeli chap knocks at the EU’s door offering all manner of beneficial products from Israel for the European market. But the nasty EU border official waves him off. While walking towards Europe is the Muslim, whose sole offering to Europe is blood and carnage, who proceeds shiftily toward his target in the distance, Paris. It’s too bad they neglected to picture the Israeli in uniform, piloting an F-16, and offering Israeli advanced weaponry to the EU cop. That would’ve been far more realistic in terms of the level of damage and lethality of Israel’s export industry compared to that of Islam.
Many messages here, all disgusting. One among many is that BDS is a handmaiden of radical Islam. If you reject Israel you open the door to terror.
I’ve posted this cartoon, despite its deeply offensive imagery, because it’s critical to point out where the overheated rhetoric of Obama and Hollande takes us: it causes massacres and endless bloodshed. No amount of caveats, explaining that we don’t mean to target all of Islam; or we respect Muslims in general, except for the radicals among them; none of this escapes the fact that this nuance easily becomes lost in the heat of battle. Commandos are trained to kill, not parse religious beliefs. If you tell him to attack Islamist radicals, he will make a mistake. You hope he won’t kill the innocent with the guilty. But once you unleash the Dogs of War, they may fail to make the distinction. That’s precisely how you start this vicious cycle all over again.
An Israeli border Police officer brutally assaulted a Black Hebrew Israeli citizen at a security checkpoint in Eilat. The victim, Yair Israel and his wife Anat, were en route to a local hotel where he had planned a relaxing weekend celebrating his wife’s birthday.
Yair Israel’s natural foods business, Otentivee
Israel is a well-known businessman in Dimona, where he runs a natural foods boutique, Otentivee (“Authentic Natural”), whose products are known by vegetarians throughout the country. He’s been interviewed on a number of Israeli TV shows where he’s showcased his passion for natural and organic products.
The brutal attack would’ve been just another anonymous, unseen incident of Israeli official racism had not, Oded Zamora, an Israeli native who has lived in Maryland for the past 14 years, been in the car following Israel at the checkpoint.
Yair Yisrael being choked during Border Police beating (Oded Zamora)
As he saw the attack unfold, Zamora bravely exited his own vehicle and asked officials why the attack was happening. When no one responded he took out his cellphone and began videotaping. He told the attacker that he was filming him. Unfortunately, this did nothing to abate the assault, which increased in ferocity.
The entire incident began with a policeman asking Yair to present his ID. He did so. Then the policeman asked for his wife’s ID. Though he found this unusual, he then presented his wife’s ID. At this point, a Border Policeman who was sitting inside the security booth came on the scene and began shouting angrily at Yair: “What’s your problem?” Then the attack escalated. The Border Policeman began punching him. He tried forcing Yair’s car door open. So the victim opened the door for him. He then grabbed him and ejected him from the vehicle, continuing to brutally strike him. He then dragged him behind the security booth where he beat him even more.
The entire scene unfolded in front of the victim’s wife, who was forced to see her own husband brutalized by a bully in uniform. Both the victim and witness attest that the former did nothing to provoke the attack, that he continually asked in a civil manner why he was being assaulted, that he told the security forces then he was a citizen of Israel and had at a local business. None of this helped at all.
Eventually they handcuffed Israel, who repeatedly asked them why he was being arrested and received no answer, and took him to the local police station. At the station, he was questioned but could not explain to them what he had done to provoke the attack. He was taken to the investigations unit and after two or three hours released.
When a reporter asked him why he thought the incident had occurred he replied:
“I don’t know. I only know there are many racists in Israel. Each day I have similarly unpleasant experiences because of the color of my skin. Everyone from our [Black Hebrew] community faces this. I know that there are people in Israel who believe there is no value to a person and no equality possible for someone of a different skin color [than them]. It’s simply unbelievable what happens here. These are things we face every day.”
After her husband was taken away from the checkpoint, Anat was told by the police to leave the scene. She told them she had no driver’s license. They told her that as far as they were concerned she could walk to Eilat.
The eyewitness, who remained at the scene, was asked by the police to leave the area. He refused, telling them they should be ashamed and that the whole incident was on video. He thought that might cause them to restrain themselves. But it didn’t help. Instead, they demanded that he give them his cell phone. They lied telling him it was illegal to film them. He refused again. They told him that if he did not do so they would open a criminal investigation against him
Zamora then ran to his car and called his sister who is a member of a local kibbutz in Eilat. He told her to drive urgently to the checkpoint. He said that if he was no longer there, she should drive immediately to the police station. When she arrived, Zamora asked his sister to drive Anat to the Kibbutz while he drove to the police station to be with Yair.
When asked by the reporter to explain why he understood Yair had been attacked, he replied:
“Because of the color of his skin. I see no other reason this should happen to a young couple celebrating a birthday in Eilat. Yair offered his ID. He didn’t attack anyone. He was inside his car the entire time. I can’t even imagine how long it will take him to recover from this.”
When asked if he regretted intervening in the incident, Zamora added:
No one wants to go through such a thing. Maybe it will be a blemish upon me, but when you see policemen behaving with such brutality you must get involved. I thought about Yair. He had no one. He was lying on the ground handcuffed. His powerlessness obligated me to get involved.
Oded Zamora is a true mensch. He stood up to injustice without fear. Some, but likely very few Israelis would’ve done the same. So if there are any readers who are going to say that Zamora’s courage redeems redeems Israel or shows it to be a decent, liberal, humane society–think again. He likely intervened because he’s been living in the U.S., where we are becoming less & less tolerant of police abuse and executions. Even if that’s not the case, the individual righteousness of citizens cannot compensate for the overall evil that infects the official state apparatus.
This is not a one-off act of racism by an lone-wolf Israeli police bully. This is official racism and brutality. This is official sanctioned violence by the state against its own citizens. Though they happen to be citizens who are not White and therefore not worthy of the full rights of every other Israeli citizen. Israel is a state seeped in racism and violence: not just against Palestinians (which is half to be expected) but against its own Palestinian and Black citizens.
I’ve often remarked here upon the special reputation for brutality and cruelty “enjoyed” by the Border Police. They take torture to an entirely new level. The assassination in a Hebron hospital a few days ago was perpetrated by a Border Police death squad, Yamas.
This must end. There is only one way to do it: Israel must become a state of all its citizens. Everyone must be treated the same. No person, religion or ethnicity deserves superior treatment. Separation or privilege based on these criteria must be rooted out. I am not saying that religion should be rooted out, just that religions must be treated the same. They must all receive respect and none treated better or differently the other. And no religion may replace the state or supercede the state or compel the state to act politically to achieve a religious objective. Religions must occupy a spiritual space, not a political one.
The Thugs Respond
Israeli Border Police spokesperson responded to the charges against his force by claiming that the level of force used in the incident was proportional and reasonable. He lied, claiming that Israel refused to identify himself and attacked the officers. He further claimed that while the victim was being arrested he continued to resist. There is no evidence whatsoever to support his account and the video completely repudiates this version. Further, it makes no sense whatsoever that an Israeli citizen at a checkpoint would refuse to identify himself. Every Israeli understands security protocols and why they’re necessary. No one refuses to participate.
With a straight face, the flack noted that because of this incident, the Border Police were asking all citizens to behave with restraint and to coöperate fully with security forces so that they could perform their duties. No one can get Israeli border police to except any responsibility for its actions. It is above the law, because it is the law.
Further, the spokesperson claimed that Zamora had interfered with the arrest. He also falsely claimed that the police asked him to accompany them to the station as a witness to the event and because the video was evidence. When he refused, he too was detained and brought to the station.
Yair further claimed that the police lied when they told the media he’d been released with conditions placed upon him. He was released without anyone telling him anything about any conditions. He told the reporter that he would continue to fight against this injustice:
“I am the second generation born in this country. And I must continue to fight for change because there are new generations behind me. I must not give up because the generation before me suffered from the same things, but had no power to change anything. God gave me the strength to fight this so that it won’t happen again.
…I want people to know the good things about our community. To give us respect. Though we are a community that prefers to remain quiet, we can’t ignore these things anymore.”
For yet another example of the grievous suffering inflicted on the Black Hebrew community, this time by the IDF, read of the suspected murder of Toveet Radcliffe, a young woman serving in the army. It claimed she committed suicide by shooting herself with her own rifle.
Today, terrorists attacked Paris. In a series of well-orchestrated assaults, they killed over 153 people in a series of locations including restaurants, a concert hall and the soccer stadium, in which the French president was watching a match between the French national team and Germany. It is one of the worst such attacks in decades in France and possibly the worst terror attack in the west since 9/11. There is little doubt that for France, today is 9/11. The breadth of the attacks, the coördination required to execute them, the lethal weaponry used, the well-trained commandos who mounted the assault, and the massive death toll–all will combine to leave an indelible impact on the nation. There will also be cries for accountability: how could a sophisticated national security apparatus have allowed a squad of terrorists to infiltrate a massive cache of weapons into one of the most likely terror targets in Europe? How did these terrorists plan and orchestrate this attack under the noses of security forces who have already faced multiple earlier attacks?
(Reuters Stephen Lam)
I only hope that France will not make the massive error that this country made in response to its 9/11. This AP headline does not bode well in that regard: Hollande says attacks were ‘an act of war.’ I hope it will not fall prey to the same nostrums offered by Bush and Cheney. For the war on terror was one of the worst policy choices made by a U.S. president since the Vietnam War. It sent us down the road to two wars over more than a decade, which cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, and others (Yemen, Somalia, etc.). Luckily for the French, they have neither the resources nor the military capability of getting themselves into as much trouble as we have. But that doesn’t mean that bad choices made now won’t have even worse consequences for France over the coming years. Given a series of terror attacks mounted by Islamists over the past five years or more in Paris, Toulouse and elsewhere, it appears likely that the perpetrators were Islamists. Though no one appears yet to know whether they are affiliated with ISIS, al Qaeda or another movement. Further, survivors of the concert attack heard the killers shouting Allah Akbar and heard them speaking about conditions in Syria and Iraq. With many caveats, I’d hazard a guess that if the killers were Islamists, they were likely affiliated with ISIS. It is this group which has been put on the defensive by allied attacks over the past six months. Today brought news that Kurdish forces had recaptured a town which had been a major symbol of ISIS’ original advance, Sinjar. Observers have begun talking about an assault on the movement’s headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa; and a possible military assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, one which ISIS captured with embarrassing ease at the outset of its campaign. These victories would not have been thinkable a year or two ago as ISIS scored its shocking series of successes and swept through hundreds of miles of Iraqi and Syrian territory. As Russia and Iran stabilize what had been a tenuous hold by Syria’s Pres. Bashar Assad on power and territory, and other Islamist groups in Syria fight back against ISIS, the latter is, if not on the run, then on the defensive. That may be why, I believe, it chose to mount an attack on a Russian civilian airliner over the Egyptian Sinai (though I also believe that local Islamist rebels likely provided local logistical help in penetrating the airport). That attack left 224 Russian travelers dead.
After Russia sent troops, war planes and advanced weaponry to Syria to bolster Assad in his fight against the Islamist rebels, it seems almost axiomatic that the latter would seek to strike back. Attacking a Russian target in Egypt would kill two birds with one stone: it would avenge Russian attacks in Syria and the Egyptian military’s massacres against the Muslim Brotherhood. An ISIS strike against France also makes sense from this point of view: France is one of the allied powers seeking to roll back ISIS gains in Syria and Iraq. It also has the largest Muslim population in the west, which offers fertile ground for recruitment.
What terror seeks is to provoke hatred- and thus, they will recruit the hated ones, the marginal, the desperate into their ranks. — Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) November 14, 2015
How will France and other western nations respond? There can be no doubt that there will be renewed resolve to eradicate ISIS. It is likely that there will be successes in such a campaign. They may identify the masterminds of this plot and kill them as they did Osama bin Laden and other key al Qaeda leaders.
But it seems just as likely that as al Qaeda morphed into ISIS, that ISIS will morph into yet another Islamist movement whose mission will be avenging the alleged crimes by western nations against Muslims and Islam. No counter-terror campaign can eradicate an idea once it takes root so deeply in an entire population. You can’t defeat a grudge and the deep emotional scars that it leaves. You can beat it and bomb it and drive it underground or back into someone’s heart. But you can’t eradicate it.
I come back to an idea I’ve expressed here often, far too often it seems (given how many terror attacks I’ve mourned here): counter-terror is a tactic, not a strategy. It is a stopgap. A placeholder given the lack of a real constructive policy of engagement. If we want the Middle East to stop producing terrorists, we must offer hope and change to those most disaffected. As an aside, the tweet above was published by Guillermo del Toro, the Hollywood director, in response to the terror attack. His father was kidnapped, threatened with death, and later freed after paying a heavy ransom.
We must do everything we did not do during the Arab Spring. Then, we stood back and watched in awe as the youth toppled the old men: the generals and tyrants. Then, when the Old Guard struck back we stood by and did nothing. We’ve now reengaged with killers like al-Sisi and the Saudi royals who aided in the massacres of majority Shias in Bahrain and now in Yemen. We offered no message, no hope, no example.
There is one possible small bright spot. Pres. Obama has presented a constructive option in relations with Iran. The nuclear deal could be a stepping-stone toward a fuller process of détente with that country. Negotiations could, if things go in the right direction, bring understandings about broader issues including Syria and Lebanon. But only if the U.S. can bring Israel to heel and compel compromises that that country’s rightist leadership will resist mightily.
There must be a third choice between the Islamist suicide bomber and the western drone strike. A choice that affirms hard bargaining, mutual compromise, and negotiated solutions.
Finally, there is a terribly irony that no western journalist will point out: yesterday, ISIS planted two bombs in a Beirut neighborhood that is a Hezbollah stronghold. 43 Lebanese died. Neither is this the first or second or even third such explosion orchestrated by ISIS against Lebanese. Will anyone in the west weep as much for these dead Arab victims as they are justly weeping for the dead Parisians? Whose dead are worth more? Or are Arab dead worth anything??
Apologies: My web host’s server went down earlier today for just over an hour. I apologize for the inconvenience any of you may’ve suffered who tried and failed to access the site.
Israeli undercover agents (mistarvim) invaded a Hebron hospital yesterday morning. Their mission was to assassinate a wanted Palestinian militant and arrest his cousin, who’d been shot by an Israeli settler. The army’s cover story, which the media naturally swallowed hook, line and sinker in its reporting, is that they were only aiming to arrest the wounded patient. But the murder victim came out of the bathroom in the middle of things and was killed.
Amnesty International says that the bullet wounds to the victim’s head and torso indicate these were execution-style shots, not wounds attempting to stop someone from interfering in an arrest. Palestine Today indicates the murder weapon was equipped with a silencer. As for me, when I have a choice between believing a distinguished international human rights organization vs. Israeli security forces, I pick the former. Doctors Without Borders has joined in the condemnation of this heinous crime. Unfortunately, the best that the Israeli NGO, Physicians for Human Rights could muster was a statement that hospitals were not “immune” from attack, but that such attacks needed to be “proportionate.” The Hebron attack was “disproportionate.” Nice. That should really make Israeli assassins think twice before doing this again.
The mistarvim apparently belonged to a Border Police unit known as Yamas, which specializes in such operations and also includes an assassination unit. Frankly, I’d go so far as to call the unit that carried out this atrocity a death sqaud. Yamas works in tandem with the Shin Bet, which had a direct hand in this execution. As a general matter of thumb, among all the Israeli security forces the Border Police is known as far and away the most pathologically brutal.
This murder is a violation of international humanitarian law, plain and simple. The PA must include this is any case it files with the ICC on this matter. And the ICC chief prosecutor must be pressured to accept such a case. She has refused thus far, despite rulings against her by an appeals panel which directed her to pursue such a case.
There may be some pro-Israeli apologists who can approve of this execution, but I submit that they must also approve a Palestinian militant attack on an Israeli hospital in order to execute an IDF officer or Shabak agent. If they can approve of that then they approve of this. If they can’t, then they are abject hypocrites.
Israel violates the international rule of law with impunity. It is a rogue terror state and must be treated as such. It deserves no sympathy or consideration from the international community. It’s justifications for terror and murder must be ignored.
Israel’s level of chutzpah is breathtaking. It willingness to flout all moral considerations is flabbergasting. They call Israel the Start Up Nation and praise it for its innovation. Well, it is innovative in its methods of terrorism as well. Perhaps its greatest “contribution” to world civilization. Far more innovative than drip irrigation and new medical technologies.
The main diversion that the Israeli agents used in gaining entrance to the hospital was a female agent dressed as a pregnant woman in hijab. This reminds me of other instances in which women have been used to stage terror attacks. Ehud Barak dressed as a woman to perpetrate the assassination of three PLO leaders. Honeypot agents helped kidnap Mordechai Vanunu and several other wanted figures.
This murder raises the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces to 83.
The Israelis have excellent tutors in the perpetration of such war crimes. Only a few weeks ago, a U.S. aircraft launched a massive attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, killing 30 patients and staff. To this day, the U.S. has offered mealy-mouthed, contradictory explanations. It has launched an internal probe and refused to agree to an independent investigation. Israel has learned at the knees of its teachers in terror, the U.S. military. I don’t know which is worse.
As we come to the close of Pres. Obama’s second term and near the 2016 presidential election, it’s time to make a few predictions about the role Israel will play in the coming campaign and how U.S. foreign policy will play out in the region. To do this, I have to make a prognostication about who will win the election. At this point, I’d say the odds-on favorite to win is Hillary Clinton. To be very clear, I don’t support her and won’t vote for her (I support Bernie Sanders in the primary campaign).
If you look at every GOP presidential candidate, I don’t think any of them have the gravitas to beat Clinton. I don’t by any means think she’s a stellar candidate. She obviously has flaws and blind spots. She can be beaten–Barack Obama showed that in 2008. But I don’t think that will happen this time around.
So if Hillary wins, what are the prospects for Israel-Palestine? In a word, bleak. Even bleaker than they are today.
Saban thought-bubble: “You’re going to appoint WHO as secretary of state???”
The truth is that while Barack Obama offered the best chance of changing the dynamic in the conflict and taking bold steps toward solving it–he wasted all his efforts. I’ve written about the reasons for his failures many times before here. Suffice to say, that the violence we are now witnessing is in large part the result of Obama’s failures in this realm. He had eight years to accomplish something and he did virtually nothing. A few stabs at piecemeal measures which Netanyahu parried easily. Then he was done. Spent.
Clinton will have none of the positive energy that Obama had in his first two years in office. She will not take bold stands. She will settle for the status quo, which means more and greater violence. Israel can continue its downward slide toward what looks more and more like fascism to me. Israelis can continue voting in more and more extreme governments safe in the knowledge that Clinton will, at best, make feeble protestations about preserving democracy and supporting two states. These ideas will become more and more laughingstocks.
If she serves two terms, it means eight more years of murder of Israeli Jews and Palestinians. It means at least two or three more wars in Gaza. It may mean a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon as well. Given the numbers killed in the past such wars, we can expect another 10,000 dead over that span of time. No, it’s not Rwanda. But must we wait till 800,000 die before Hillary Clinton will get off her ass and break out of her Zio-mindset?
Hillary, as almost all readers here know, is bought lock, stock and barrel by Haim Saban. He will not only contribute millions to her campaign (he’s contributed $2-million even at this early date in the 2016 campaign), he will draw other pro-Israel donors into the fold. He will be the Israel Lobby’s enforcer in Hillary’s camp. He will also get to lobby for cabinet posts and State Department staff assignments for the Zio-faithful. Look to Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller, David Makovsky and the whole tired bunch of Zio-mats (Zio-diplomats) to rear their ugly heads once again, regurgitating the same tired concepts which failed in the past administrations in which they served. Ross, given his level of self-regard, may tout himself Secretary of State material (Lord help us!). Saban will certainly be his chief champion.
The one bold stroke Obama took which he will hand to Hillary on a silver platter is the opportunity for détente with Iran. If she continues his policy of engaging Iran and exploring the possibility of resolving intractable conflicts like those in Syria and Lebanon, in which Iran has a deep and vested interest–then she too may make a mark in the region, even if she fails on Israel-Palestine. But that is an open question. I don’t know if she has the courage, vision and political savvy to continue along Obama’s road.
I doubt anyone will ask me why I won’t vote for Hillary. It seems obvious. But in case anyone does want it spelled out, I think four or eight years of Hillary means more mass death in the Middle East.
MK Haneen Zoabi fights back against attacks on her by Israeli Jewish rightists
Israeli Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi is once again stirring up a hornet’s nest among Israeli Jews. For those not well versed in how she is perceived, imagine Malcolm X in the year or two before he died, when he was reviled by white America as a white-hating firebrand and inciter of racial violence. She has been threatened with death too many times to mention, including a Facebook group which put a bull’s-eye right above her forehead.
Invited to address a Dutch Jewish leftist group, Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion, in Amsterdam on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Zoabi took the opportunity to link the victimization of European Jews by the Nazis to the suffering of Palestinians under Occupation. Zionists insist they have a monopoly on suffering and the world’s sympathy and exploit the Holocaust regularly for this purpose. Having a Palestinian probe the issue and point out both the flaws in the argument and the implications racial hatred may have in today’s Israel-Palestine conflict is simply maddening.
That is why Zoabi is not just vilified, but under constant police investigation and repeatedly scolded by her Knesset colleagues who strip her legislative privileges for her temerity. Another impact of her activism is to rebut the Likudist meme that Palestinians are the modern incarnation of Nazis (remember Bibi’s false claim that the Mufti told Hitler to “burn them”?). Zoabi, in effect, turns the tables and notes that it is the Israelis who are adopting many of the practices of the Nazis, if not yet the cardinal one of genocide.
The coverage of Zoabi’s speech is incomplete. Most Israeli news outlets paraphrase bits of it. And I don’t yet have a transcript of her remarks (UPDATE: I do now here). But a Dutch newspaper published an interview with her just before she spoke this evening. In it, she goes over the points she would’ve likely made in her talk:
Faced with criticism from Netherlands, Zoabi said by telephone, they can “just laugh.”
“I’m used to it, that I am accused of being anti-Semite or Hamas supporter. The fact is that I stand up for the Palestinian people. This makes many Israelis, and apparently others angry. That is the real reason for the sedition against my person. ”
Do you understand that Israelis feel that you undermine the state?
Zoabi: “For Israelis, the Palestinians have no right to resist. After all, they find that there is no occupation of Palestinian territory. In their eyes, the Palestinians do not suffer humiliation, arrests, land grabbing and so on. Israel is in total denial of the occupation, the harassment of Palestinians, of crimes against humanity. If you demonstrate against it, you’re supposedly agitating. They even have a problem with Europeans supporting the Palestinians, who they seek to prevent entering the country. Israel is the one who incites against the truth. Every critical European voice it silences by calling it anti-Semitic. ”
What do you think of the accusation that you are an anti-Semite?
“That is political terror. A method to impose silenced on people . Any criticism of [Israeli] oppression is called anti-Semitism. ” But I’m not making that oppression. I did not create the reality. How do they want me to react to it? They expect that I should agree with it? Israelis seem to think we will not resist. ”
What does the commemoration of Kristallnacht for you personally?
“It is very important to commemorate Kristallnacht. I stand up for freedom, dignity and human rights. Kristallnacht was an important stage on the way to the demonization of Jews. If the majority of the Germans and the rest of the Europeans had not demonized the Jews, there would have been no Holocaust. For me, the silence of the majority an important role. Not everyone agreed, but they kept their mouths shut in the face of demonization of the Jews. ”
How do you explain the link between Kristallnacht and the situation in Israel and Palestine?
“The majority of Israelis supports the suppression and demonization of Palestinians. The message of the Kristallnacht is precisely: do not be silent. Of course we have no problem with Jews. But in this country privileges are to be given to one group, in this case the Jews. That is the wrong message. You can not combat racism and oppression by handing out privileges. Racism must be countered by equality, justice and human rights.”
972 Magazine journalist, Avi Blecherman affirmed Zoabi’s views about the decline of Israeli society into a semblance of proto-Nazism in this Facebook post I translated:
A society doesn’t lose itself in a single day. For the Germans too it took time. We’re speaking of a long process of deterioration until the inevitable catastrophe. We [Israelis] are on the way there. The last remnants of what morality we had are breaking down, sinking into a mire of self-righteousness and victimhood. We’re turning our neighbors into sub-humans, murderous beasts: we must not buy from them, live next door to them, permit our daughters to be defiled by them. Most of all, we must “neutralize” them, destroy and plunder their homes, and deny them citizenship, which they only had on a conditional basis anyway.
Israel is already deep into free-fall towards the abyss. Prime Minister Fascist-yahu is already dripping into our brain the new comparison: Palestinians=Nazis. MK Yinon Magal has lately been quoted telling us that the time has come to stop talking about a single Nakba , and start talking about future ones. A ‘Blue and White’ Kristallnacht is coming, it’s only a matter of time, don’t worry yourself. We’ve taken on a role much closer to the Nazis, the closing of the ultimate circle.
…After the first Intifada, Rabin surrendered to terror and signed the disgusting, worthless Oslo Accord, the results of which we saw in the second Intifada and up till today.
Before Oslo, most of the world was with us– [rejecting] this folly that there is a people here, a so-called Palestinian people–there is no such people and there will never be such a state–and we must hack away at this hope. The Palestinians must understand that in war, whoever waves a knife–we can say “Meet Comrade Machine-Gun and Comrade Bullet” [a reference to Haim Guri’s 1943 poem of revenge in which he introduces Zionist weapons as characters who offer revenge for the murder of Europe’s Jews]; that we can count not just Intifadas, but Nakbas [a reference to the two Intifadas and one 1948 Nakba]. Whoever starts a war runs the risk of paying a very heavy price.
What interesting about the reference to the Guri poem is that it was written in 1943, both at the height of the Shoah in Europe and heightened confrontation between Palestinian and Jewish militias in Palestine. The “comrades” exact revenge not only against the Nazis who exterminated Jews, but also against the Palestinians for making it impossible to save more Jews in Palestine. Thus, Magal is closing a circle that Netanyahu began by linking the Nazis to the Palestinians.
As far as Israeli politics is concerned, Netanyahu has almost become a figure of the past. A bridge between the Likudist past of Shamir and Begin and the future of who knows? The Magals, Hotovelys, Shakeds, and Yaalons are the Likud of the future (see JVP graphic #IsraeliIncitement). Magal has promised Palestinians a future Nakba. He’s laid out on a silver platter the future plans of the Jewish state to ethnically cleanse its non-Jewish population. This is the sort of moral abyss Blecherman refers to in his Facebook post.
Anyone reading this who attempts to dismiss or minimize it, calling it rhetoric, is deluded. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin began in just such incitement. Yinon Magal promises us a future Blue and White Kristallnacht, an Israeli Jewish version of the Third Kingdom, which we might just as well call the Third Reich.
You’re seeking consolation perhaps? No, there may not be a Shoah. Small consolation. No ashes of Palestinian corpses flying up chimneys. Just an ethnic cleansing of a few hundred thousand or million Palestinians.
Yesterday night, the day before MK Zoabi spoke in Amsterdam, a pro-Palestine activist, Christopher Ben Kushka, spoke on BDS at a Munich municipal hall. The event was hosted by a Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group. The Jewish community’s leader let loose with inflammatory invective likening BDS to Nazism, thereby linking it to anti-Semitism. Because of Germany’s historic past, anti-Semitism is illegal there. So successfully linking BDS to it would make the movement a criminal enterprise.
Participating in this charade is Germany’s Green Party in the person of Volker Beck. He’s the same individual who succeeded in getting Max Blumenthal and David Sheen ejected from the Reichstag, where they’d been invited to deliver a talk on Israeli racism toward African refugees. Beck exploited his position as a legislator to plant leading questions of the German security services:
Response of the Federal Government to a question posed by MEPs of the Greens on “Antisemitism in Germany”, March 3, 2015:
29. Does the German government consider the so-called BDS-Campaign aimed at Israel (BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to be anti-Semitic?
If so, why?
If not, why not?
a) To the knowledge of the government, how many supporters does this campaign have here in Germany?
b) Is the BDS campaign or its supporters, to the government’s knowledge, under the surveillance of the Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution or any of the regional Offices of the Protection of the Constitution?
If so, why?
If not, why not?
* * *
The questions 29, 29a and 29b will be answered together.
The German government has no knowledge of activities by the named campaign that…would permit surveillance by the Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution.
The Federal Government has not received information that might confirm the sense of the question.
The Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution, likewise has no knowledge of surveillance of this campaign by a regional office of the Protection of the Constitution.
There you have it. Despite pressure from former progressives in Germany’s Green Party, the center-right government does not find BDS anti-Semitic and has no plans to place it under surveillance for being an anti-Semitic, criminal enterprise.
Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter on Friday refused a request from Israel’s consul- general in the city to pull the plug on an allegedly anti-Semitic event in a municipal building advocating a boycott of the Jewish state.
…[Israeli consul] Shaham told the Post on Saturday, “We are sorry that this anti-Semitic BDS group has been allowed to use a municipal room to call for a boycott against Israel, which is by law not allowed in Germany.”
He added that the boycott-Israel event is taking place two days before the memorial events for the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and “in a city that in which National Socialism had its beginning.”
“Those who do not see the anti-Semitic tone and character of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign do not want to see it,” Volker Beck, a Bundestag deputy for the Green Party, told the Post. “[Advocating BDS] is indeed protected by freedom of expression, but this should not be sponsored by a particular city’s municipality. I consider that unacceptable.”
Weinthal coyly attaches the phrase “allegedly” to the term “anti-Semitic” in his report. Who did allege the BDS event was anti-Semitic? Not the German government. But the Israeli consul general. On the strength of this specious claim unsupported by fact Weinthal can they convey the false impression that someone with credibility and standing has voiced the claim that BDS, and this event, are anti-Semitic.
Weinthal represents the depths to which the pro-Israel media machine goes in dredging up dirt; and confirms that some in the Israeli media are not reporters, but servants of the regime. Both the reporters and the regime are steeped in lies and paranoia as they desperately try to prop up a system that threatens to fall because it can no longer sustain its own weight.
At the event itself, 20 Jews acting in ways reminiscent of Hitler Jugend, screamed bloody murder throughout the event and stole the informational materials event organizers offered to the public. Police and security guards called to the scene had difficulty maintaining any semblance of order.
MSM coverage highlights suspect Israeli version of Palestinian murder
Yesterday, Israeli forces in Hebron assassinated a 73 year-old Palestinian woman who was driving to her sister’s home for lunch. The Israeli occupation army claimed this was a terror attack and she drove at high-speed towards soldiers who opened fire and “neutralized” her.
The 11 second video above was ‘shot’ by an IDF soldier at the scene wearing a GoPro video camera. I don’t know how Palestinians managed to get it and upload it to YouTube. But I can tell you that the IDF is pissed–royally pissed.
…The security apparatus is extremely anxious because the video taken by a soldier somehow got to Palestinians. An investigation will be opened into the matter.
Not an investigation into the murder. But an investigation of the poor shlub who took the video and allowed it to get into the hands of the “enemy.”
73 year-old Palestinian grandmother, Tharwat Sharawi, murdered by IDF.
The video shows that while the woman drove her car at a relatively high rate of speed she at no point intended to harm any soldier. The soldiers were easily able to get out of her way as she drove toward them. If she had wanted to hit them she easily could’ve swerved into them and done so. She didn’t.
Given her advanced age, she likely didn’t even realize what the soldiers wanted her to do. Or maybe she was talking on a cell phone or texting and not paying close attention to the road. There were no signs or markers indicating a checkpoint or that soldiers had established a location for inspecting vehicles.
At any rate, the soldiers wanted her to stop her vehicle and she didn’t. So they killed her. It’s as simple as that. Her family’s claims that she was on her way to lunch with her sister are correct. And she died for it.
Haaretz now reports that the IDF also claimed that it found a “commando knife” in her vehicle. If they found any such implement it was probably a paring knife she was going to use to peel fruit for lunch! But Haaretz says that this report is now considered suspect, as is the claim that the woman’s husband was killed in the first Intifada. Amos Harel, who is no Gideon Levy on Haaretz’s reporting staff, even says that the video shows the soldiers who killed her cannot legitimately claim they feared for their lives.
Frankly, I’ve never heard of any 73 year-old anywhere in the world perpetrating a terror attack of any kind (though there may be an exception someone can find). Usually 73 year-olds, thinking about their legacy, want to spend as much time as possible with their children and grandchildren, which is precisely what Tharwat Sharawi was doing.
Mainstream media reports say her husband was killed by Israeli forces in 1988 during the first Intifada, as if somehow she’s been nursing the desire for revenge for nearly 30 years and never found the right moment till now. The journalistic atrocity of reporting this killing is exacerbated by MSM headlines which offer the Israeli narrative, to the exclusion of the actual story offered clearly by her own family (and reported as headlines only in the Arab media, Israel shoots dead 73-year-old Palestinian ‘on her way to lunch’)–that she was on her way to lunch, not heaven.
I have twice been a victim of accidents caused by elderly women. Once, my bicycle was destroyed when a car crashed into a utility pole which toppled on my bicycle, which had been standing right next to me. The woman driver seemed confused and probably had some sort of problem with the medications she was using. Just three weeks ago I was waiting to make a turn at an intersection. When the car in front of me didn’t move on a green turn arrow I honked my horn. Then, the car, instead of moving forward, went into reverse and crashed into my own car. When I got out of the car I was met with a clearly disoriented, confused woman who probably shouldn’t have been driving at all.
Now, I don’t know whether this is what happened in the case of Sharawi. But I give elderly drivers the benefit of the doubt if at all possible. I don’t advocate executing them for their deteriorating driving skills. Israel appears to have different rules of the road.
Apparently, few in the MSM can do independent reporting or bother to question a fraudulent narrative that demands you believe an elderly grandmother would prefer to join the Intifada to kill Israeli soldiers rather than enjoy lunch with her sister. What are these editors and reporters doing? Phoning it in? Do they do any independent thinking at all?
The IDF is bursting it’s buttons with pride at Cpl. T, stationed at Gush Etzion. Though he’s only served eight months with the Shimson Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, he’s already gotten three notches on his belt. Three confirmed “kills” of Palestinian “terrorists.” Though the IDF usually tries to protect the identity of its killers (aka soldiers), this time they made an exception and circulated a photograph of “The Terminator,” as they’ve dubbed him.
I consider him wanted for murder. If anyone has any information that would identify him please let me know. An Israeli who reads social media sites reported that he’s been identified as having the first name “Tom” (comment 21, censors don’t bother deleting because I have a screenshot) and is an Orthodox Jew.
השטות הזו של פרסום תמונתו של חייל שירה במחבלים וההתפארות בכך, מביאים את הצפוי.הוא “מבוקש”.”תיקון עולם” בשירות הטרור https://t.co/S0BPRhwrfu
When I tweeted a Wanted poster of him on Twitter, a news producer at Israel’s Reshet B, Dani Zaken, accused me of putting a target on T’s back. Which is ironic given that the soldiers has been doing precisely this to Palestinians for at least eight months. Zaken also smeared me by saying I was “serving terror” in publishing the photograph. He didn’t realize, stupidly, that the IDF itself had published the photo and that the Jewish Press, Meir Kahane’s very own preferred publication, had published it proudly. Making the IDF itself a “servant of terror.” Or perhaps Zaken meant the IDF was a servant of Israeli terror, in which case he’d have been correct.
New York Times’ Fictional Israeli “Center” Triumphs
I’m sure you’ll be relieved (as I was) to know that Israeli politics is increasingly turning toward “the center.” Gone are the days of left and right according to the NY Times’ resident Israeli political scholar, Isabel Kershner. Now, we’ve reached a nice accommodation between the two poles, or so Kershner opines:
…The more mainstream Israeli right and left have gravitated over the last two decades toward a less ideological center, approaching some kind of consensus on the Palestinian issue. For many here, the struggle now is more about how to balance Israel’s security needs with democracy, and the battle against incitement versus free speech.
…Two decades ago, the Israeli right and left were sharply divided between those dreaming of a Greater Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and the supporters of Mr. Rabin, who subscribed to the formula of land for peace.
Israeli analysts say that neither of these paradigms are relevant anymore…
“Israelis are in an age of pragmatism,” said Yoaz Hendel, a former director of communications in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It was very clear in Rabin’s time — you were either for or against giving up territory.”
Today, he said, “very few people here believe you can achieve a utopian peace treaty.”
Pay close attention to this argument, such as it is. There were two extremes, extreme left and extreme right. Now neither are relevant. What is relevant? The center. And what is the center when you poke and pull at it a bit? The position formerly known as the extreme right.
The extreme right position of a unitary Israeli-dominated state from the “river to the sea” is precisely the paradigm that has triumphed in Israel. The only development that hasn’t yet occurred to formally realize this vision, is that Israel has not formally annexed the West Bank. But in the current situation it doesn’t need to. It pours new settlements and settlers into the area at will. It steals more and more Palestinian land and water. It controls what it wants and needs and leaves the dregs to the rump “Palestinian Authority,” which has little credibility among Palestinians and almost no “authority.”
If Kershner had been honest she would’ve written that the Israeli right’s narrative has prevailed. And it is a far-right narrative, not a centrist one.
Further Kershner “proof” of Israel’s new centrist political paradigm:
Mr. Netanyahu, of the conservative Likud Party, is serving his third consecutive term and heads a government coalition dominated by right-wing and religious parties. He has reined in the more hard-line politicians in his cabinet who are trying to promote legislation that their critics consider anti-democratic, like curbing the powers of the Supreme Court. Unlike some of his ministers, he has endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, with caveats…
Who has Bibi reined in? This is the most racist, extremist government in Israeli history. Every serious observer except Kershner seems aware of this. Yet, because Bibi raps a few extremist ministers on the knuckles with a wink and a nod, this means that “Big Poppa” is really a centrist but his naughty kids have wandered off the reservation. They do so try his patience. Thus, he can’t be blamed for their naughtiness.
She wrote this just a day or two before Netanyahu appointed as his chief media/hasbara advisor, a settler who said Pres. Rivlin (viewed as a traitor by the rabid Israeli right) was too insignificant to be worth killing. When Rivlin and the U.S. State Department (Ran Baratz had derided Secretary of State Kerry as someone who should do stand-up comedy at Israel’s African refugee camp) howled over the appointment, the leader who “reined in the more hard-line politicians” in his circle said he would “review” the appointment–but only after returning from the U.S.
Anyone who has observed Bibi for any length of time (as Kershner should have) knows his modus operandi. He plays bad cop, worse cop. He is the bad cop and his ministers are worse cops. You don’t like the hate and swill of the worse cops? Well, then you turn for reassurance to the politician who’s merely a bad cop. Not a good one, certainly. But not as bad as the worst. Thus, Kershner buys into the fraudulent narrative which Bibi has spun throughout his career: I’m the grown-up; the other guys are clowns. But don’t pay any attention to them because I’m the real deal.
The claim that Bibi supports, not a Palestinian state, but “the idea” of one, is ridiculous. Bibi doesn’t even support the whisper, the shadow, or evanescence of a Palestinian state. And I do love the qualification she adds, “with caveats.” What are those caveats? Only that the Palestinians must first recognize Israel as a Jewish state, renounce their claims to all Palestinian lands to which Israel has claims, including not just the settlement blocs but the Jordan Valley, and renounce the Right of Return. Those are some “caveats.” If I could convert them into Bitcoins, I’d be a wealthy man.
Kershner continues with her centrist fairy tale:
In some ways it is [Israeli President] Mr. Rivlin, whose role is chiefly symbolic, who exemplifies the redrawing of the political map. A veteran Likud parliamentarian who has long opposed territorial partition and supported Jewish settlements, he has emerged as a strong voice for tolerance and coexistence.
This is all well and good. Rivlin does seem a politician of principle. But in her very own words she indicates Rivlin is virtually powerless to realize any of his views or principles (“whose role is chiefly symbolic”). Presidents do not make or implement policy. At best, they are offered a modest bully pulpit from which they may exhort the nation to behave better. They are a slightly more energetic version of the British monarch. They can speak publicly about political matters. But must do so in a tightly constrained fashion.
So it doesn’t matter ultimately whether Rivlin is a voice for tolerance or “coexistence” (and what does this term even mean?). It cannot be a “strong” voice as she claims because it cannot suggest policy. In fact, Rivlin’s is a still, very small voice which has absolutely no impact within the ranks of the Likud MKs. They have long abandoned his principles for an outright racist, fascistic political agenda. To posit Israel’s president as the locus of some imaginary Israeli center is sheer fiction.
Kershner marshals further evidence to support this claim, saying that Israel remains centrist because it retains its preference for democracy:
Yehuda Ben Meir, an expert on national security and public opinion at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University said despite its [Israel’s extreme right] heightened exposure on social networks…it has not grown significantly, and studies show that a clear majority of Israelis still view democracy as an essential characteristic of their state.
Virtually everything about this passage is false. Israel’s extreme right has not only grown exponentially, it governs the country. But what has happened ever since 1967 and the days of Meir Kahane is that the definition of left and right have changed. What once was extreme right (and even outlawed in the case of Kahane) has become the ‘center.’ What was once the center is now called the ‘left.’ As for the unnamed “studies” Kershner cites, I don’t know who or what she’s referencing. Repeated Israeli studies I’ve cited here over many years prove that Israelis in huge numbers, often resounding majorities (or pluralities in some cases), reject democratic principles.
If you asked an Israeli, even many extreme right-wing Israelis, whether they view democracy as essential to their state, many would answer yes. But that doesn’t matter. If someone agrees that democracy is essential to their nation but rejects almost every tenet of democracy in practice, they can no longer be called democrats or centrists. They are anti-democratic and right-wing. And certainly deluding themselves as well.
What is Kershner’s definition of the Israeli Middle Way? The Jewish Home political platform. That’s right, the platform of the party that seeks to annex the West Bank and endorses ethnic cleansing-lite:
…Many Israelis appear to be seeking a more moderate middle way. The right-wing Jewish Home party, which sits in the governing coalition and promotes settlement construction, proposes annexing about 60 percent of the West Bank and allowing some kind of autonomy for the 40 percent heavily populated by Palestinians, analysts say.
So the New Israeli Center endorses annexing most of Palestine and leaving the spoiled bits under, not a state, but “some kind” of autonomy. On which planet has this ever been called centrist?
In short, Isabel Kershner and the entire NY Times coverage of Israel and Palestine is a fraud. I’m not telling most of you readers anything you didn’t already know. But it’s important periodically to expose the most egregious examples of this fraud for as many to see as possible.