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A liberal Zionist, two-state solution NGO announced that it had secured the endorsement (full statement) of 36 ex-security chiefs from the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet for the Iran nuclear deal.  In truth, the endorsement was not fulsome.  There wasn’t even an explicit, “we support the Iran nuclear deal” statement.  Essentially they took the position that it’s a done deal, so why not take advantage of it to get other things Israel needs?

Blue White Future, the NGO, appears to be a typical liberal Zionist group which focuses solely on Israel’s interests and ignores the interests of Israel’s frontline neighbors with whom it will eventually need to make peace.  Though I have little in common with its agenda, there’s no doubt that a document such as this is very important and useful.

Today, the first three Democratic senators also endorsed the agreement.  They were Sens. Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson.  What’s helpful about the support of Kaine and Nelson is that both are from the southern moderate wing of the Party.  Kaine is an independent who’s willing to oppose the administration on some issues.  Nelson’s constituency is heavily Jewish and he can’t be making lots of friends with this stance.  The fact that he’s willing to stake out this position this early indicates to me that he’s confident the president is going to win.

The senator who concerns me most is Chuck Schumer.  The GOP-leaning Politico tried to stake out a claim that Schumer was leaning against the deal.  He has an even more Jewish electorate than Nelson.  Schumer is a water-carrier for Aipac and entertains close relations with wealthy pro-Israel Wall Street donors.  It would be difficult for him to brook them.  On the other hand, how can the future Democratic Senate leader stand against his own president?  On what basis should he have any support for his expected promotion from either the president or his Democratic peers?

Seven former U.S. ambassadors to Israel have also endorsed the nuclear agreement.  it’s interesting that neither Martin Indyk nor Dennis Ross have spoken up.  Indyk is both a former ambassador to Israel and a former negotiator on Kerry’s team for the Israel-Palestine peace talks.  Doubtless, both are part of the same Israel Lobby consulting gravy train.  Since the Lobby has gone “all in” against the deal, they would jeopardize their turn at the trough if they endorsed it.

The NY Times reports that John Kerry has been spending his time profitably with the Gulf state leaders, who he’s succeeded in persuading to support the deal as well.  This could be one of the most important of all these developments.  Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states have no love for Iran.  And they have a developing relationship with Israel based on their shared enmity for Iran.  But that hasn’t stopped them from seeing the handwriting on the wall.  The fact that they have been brought around to support the deal says a great deal about their ultimate pragmatism, and the reasonableness of the deal itself.

Bibi Speaks to the Converted

Netanyahu, the leading opponent of the deal, has been otherwise engaged putting out Jewish terrorist fires in Israel.  It hasn’t allowed him to pivot toward the deal in order to denounce it as fervently as he otherwise might.  Last week, Israel announced with great fanfare that Bibi would record a speech for the world’s Jews to use to drum up opposition to the deal.  But two horrible murders distracted both Netanyahu and the world from the speech, which was released on video today.  I’ve been looking for the video for the past half hour and it isn’t available in the usual places or on YouTube.  Apparently, the strategy is to release it through the Jewish federations and assume it will reach the rest of us eventually: Trickle-Down Zionism perhaps?  Whatever the concept, it doesn’t appear to be working very well.

As Maariv’s New York correspondent Shlomo Shamir writes, this is the old paradigm for Israel-U.S. Jewish relations (he calls it “archaic”).  The prime minister gives you your marching orders.   You salute and carry out the mission with the leadership leading and the grassroots following.  No longer.  Now, American Jews get their news and information about Israel from a far more diverse set of sources (and thank God for that) than Aipac or the local Jewish newspaper.  There are social media, blogs, online forums and media, video, in addition to the old-fashioned outlets.

Bibi, in today’s video, spoke to the converted.  Not to the rank and file.  In the past, the converted amounted to a large portion of the Jewish community.  That’s no longer the case.  Especially among younger Jews.

Dermer Out in the Cold

Kol Israel radio reported today that the Obama administration told an Israeli journalist that Israel’s U.S. ambassador, who’s currently scouring the halls of Congress for support for his government’s position on the deal, has been refused numerous times in attempts to meet with the National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.  He hasn’t met with her since December 2013.  Normally, U.S. administrations take great pains to ensure that NSA staff work closely with Israel’s ambassadors.  Not this time.  And you can be sure there are no plans to change that approach.  Dermer is persona non grata in the White House.  For any other country, it would be enough to send him packing.  But the Bibi-Show knows no shame.

Obama held a two-hour meeting with Israel Lobby groups largely opposed to the deal including Aipac.  Included within the invitees was a lone group supporting the deal, J Street.  Interestingly, polls show that the Jewish communal leadership is completely divorced from the Jewish mainstream on this issue, with a plurality of Jews supporting it.

Every new development in this campaign seems to be another nail in the coffin for Bibi and his cohort.  The odds are stacked pretty heavily in Obama’s favor, which is the way the president likes it.  There remains a chance that things can go off the rails.  But something truly horrific would have to happen to bring that result.  It’s highly unlikely.  Bibi is about to get yet another defeat at the hands of a political operative far smarter and far more pragmatic than he.

Meir Ettinger

Meir Ettinger during one of his terror pogroms against the Palestinian village of Qusra

The Shin Bet today arrested the settler version of the Wild West’s Jesse James, Meir Ettinger, age 23.  He topped the list of Israel’s Most Wanted, if today’s Israeli media is to be believed.  Security services believe he is the mastermind behind the Duma arson attack which killed a small Palestinian baby and that he also organized the burning of the Church of Loaves and Fishes.

Ettinger is the grandson of Meir Kahane.  One of Kahane’s sons, Binyamin, was murdered by a Palestinian militant.  But Ettinger is the son of Kahane’s daughter, Tovah.  His father, Mordechai, is a prominent right-wing rabbi affiliated with Ateret Cohanim, which is attempting to rebuild the Holy Temple and restore the priestly animal sacrifices (among other ritual arcanities, they’re searching for the semi-mythical red heifer, the parah adumah).  Apparently, the apple (in this case one full of maggots) doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The Israeli intelligence services have spun a media tale of a new Jewish terror underground seeking to undermine the very foundations of the state.  Ettinger and his fellow conspirators are, supposedly, subversives who wish to replace the Israeli state with a Davidic monarchic theocracy.  For this reason, they’re being painted as the equivalent of the Black Panthers in the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover.

biderman jewish terrorists laugh

Church arson suspects Reuveni and Orbach enjoy a good laugh with their pal, the judge (Biderman)

While there is no doubt that Jewish terrorists like these are villains who should be hunted down, arrested and imprisoned for their heinous crimes; the idea that these individuals are seeking to undermine the state is ludicrous.  Why should they have to undermine the state when they essentially own it, as far as their own interests go?

The problem with the current narrative painting Ettinger as Israel’s Huey Newton is that once the Shin Bet brings down this so-called “terror cell” and puts its members behind bars, the public will expect the danger to be over, so that it may return to its usual soporific torpor regarding the Palestinian issue.  But putting away a Jewish terrorist or two will not solve a thing.  There will be scores more to take their place. Because they know that the government doesn’t want to stop them.  If it did it surely and easily could.  But the government wants to manage such terrorism, not eliminate it.  When it gets out of hand, the government will go after a few bad apples.  But it will not root out the problem once and for all.  That’s because senior ministers are deeply complicit in the activities of these terrorists.

Today, the Israeli democracy NGO, Molad, released a report noting that Ettinger manged a terror cell which monitored the movements of IDF units dismantling illegal settlements.  The terrorists trashed the IDF encampment where these troops were based and destroyed military equipment.  Ettinger and his “colleagues” had terrific inside intelligence informing them of the plans of the soldiers.  They were aided by none other than then-deputy foreign minister, Zeev Elkin.  When this news was reported in the media no one in the government so much as blinked an eye.  Though Elkin didn’t trumpet his pride in his deeds, another settler minister (agriculture), Uri Ariel, did.

In any other democratic society, such acts would be deemed damaging to national security.  In what country are politicians permitted to undermine the operations of the army?  In such countries such leaders would be arrested and imprisoned for insurrection or subversion.  In this country, people like Elkin are rewarded with more power.  In the current government, he is minister of absorption and Jerusalem affairs.  What better individual to tell Jews of the world why they should make aliyah?

Amir Oren, in today’s Haaretz, laughs at the Shin Bet portrayal of Ettinger and his gang as a danger to the nation.  He portrays them as veritable babes in diapers compared to some of the enemies the security services have tackled in the past.  He notes that the same army which mounted the heroic operation in Entebbe couldn’t manage to control a few young Jewish hoodlums.  It goes beyond incompetence (though that may be a factor) to an underlying refusal to deal with the problem in a fundamental or decisive way.  To paraphrase the words of the old Walt Kelly cartoon: we [Israelis] have met the settlers and they are us.

Oren notes that the current Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, was chosen for a number of reasons: he was an Orthodox Jew with right-wing political sympathies.  Sara Netanyahu and Rabbi Haim Druckman, the patron saint of Gush Emunim, in particular did not like the leading candidate, Yitzhak Ilan.  So he lost the race and a patsy won the job who wouldn’t know a Jewish terrorist if he met one.  Meanwhile, the leading candidate for the next Shin Bet chief, Roni Alsheikh (a story only reported here) is a former settler who has been touted by Haaretz as someone with sympathy for “messianists.”  That certainly bodes well for the future, doesn’t it?

There is a fundamental battle in Israel over the nature of the state.  In the first decades, those who wished it to be a democracy at least had a fighting chance.  But nowadays, they have lost that battle.  Israel’s days as a democracy are long gone.  Israel is now a Jewish state in the worst senses of that phrase.  A state privileging a version of religion I call “settler Judaism.”  It’s a political theocracy in ways that are reminiscent of the Ayatollah regime in Iran.

At today’s Israeli cabinet meeting, Prime Minister released a statement through the foreign ministry.  For those who might harbor the hope that something fundamental has perhaps changed in Israel as it meets these crises of two heinous terror attacks–abandon such hope all ye who enter here.  Netanyahu’s statement is an exemplary representation of the very racism (and stupidity) that brought such terrorism to prominence in Israeli society:

“We recently witnessed two abhorrent crimes. Our policy toward these crimes is zero tolerance. I have instructed security and law-enforcement officials to use all legal means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers and deal with the stabber and the arsonists to the fullest extent of the law. We are determined to vigorously fight manifestations of hate, fanaticism and terrorism from whatever side. The fight against these phenomena unites us all. This is not a struggle by this or that faction. This is a matter of basic humanity and is at the foundation of our enlightened Jewish values.

I remember as a child, when I would visit on Shabbat the home of my father’s great teacher, Professor Joseph Klausner, among the Jewish People’s greatest historians in the modern era, over his door were etched two words: ‘Judaism’ and ‘humanity’. They are combined and are mutually supportive. This is what distinguishes us from our neighbors. We deplore and condemn these murderers. We will pursue them to the end. They name public squares after the murderers of children. This distinction cannot be blurred or covered up. It is important to say this even as we utter our condemnations and unite against the criminals among our people.”

What utter nonsense!  What distinguishes Israel from its neighbors? Nothing.  One side commits terror on a small-scale and the other on an industrial scale.  Israel, in its capacity for terror is a double threat: it has an army which slaughters Palestinians; but it also has terrorists who operate on a smaller, more ‘intimate’ scale.

Further (and Amir Oren pointed this out), Netanyahu has the effrontery to claim the Palestinians honor their terrorists with streets and squares being named after them, while Israel pursues its terrorists to the end.  Apparently, the prime minister forgets the scores of Jewish terrorists whose bravery and courage are honored with streets and squares named for them.  These are the terrorists who bombed hotels and assassinated Arabs or British officers.  The ones who murdered captured Arab prisoners.  He forgets the future IDF generals honored in popular song for their heroic deeds in castrating Palestinians accused (without trial) of raping Jewish women.  The future first president of Israel, Yitzhak Ben Zvi, ordered the first political assassination (of Jacob de Haan) in what was then Palestine.  No, Israel doesn’t honor its terrorists by naming streets for them, it makes them generals, presidents and prime minister.

In perhaps the final act of effrontery and sheer chutzpah in this sordid tale, the leaders of the far right (Im Tirtzu’s Ronen Shoval, for one) are counter-attacking by claiming that the current hate coming their way from Israelis is incitement to murder them.  We’re supposed to feel sorry because they get death threats when one of their own murdered an Israeli teenager and a Palestinian baby.  What did they expect? Flowers?



Israeli Teenager Dies After Gay Pride Attack

mysh cartoon Israeli politicians incite to murder

Mysh to Israel’s right-wing leaders: “Maybe you didn’t directly tell them to go and murder,” but you are responsible nonetheless.

Earlier today, Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was stabbed repeatedly by Yishai Shlissel at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade, died of her wounds. She attended one of Israel’s élite high schools affiliated with the Hebrew University. As such, her death strikes at the heart of Israel’s élite.  The entire nation mourns with her family, except perhaps the Haredi community and the homophobes who run the country from some of the major ministries.

bezalel smotrich

Israeli MK Bezalel Smotrich is deputy Knesset speaker. He featured a donkey as part of his anti-gay Parade of Beasts in 2006 (David Sheen).

Take Naftali Bennett for example.  His party, Bayit Yehudi, made homophobia a major part of its electoral platform.  In fact, this helped it become the political flavor of the month, the second most popular party in the governing coalition.  As I wrote this week in Mint Press News, one party Knesset candidate called homosexuality “suicide for society.”  Another boasted of being a “proud homophobe.”  This Pride of the Right also held an anti-gay rally on Pride Day in Jerusalem in 2006 (only a year after Shlissel’s first attack) and called it the “Parade of the Beasts.”

That’s why Mysh wrote this denunciation of Israel’s political élite to accompany his cartoon on Facebook:

Maybe you didn’t tell them to go and murder [anyone].  Maybe you never said anything that a court could find was incitement to murder (even though some of you have even done that).  But one thing is certain: the past few days have proven without doubt that you aren’t prepared, don’t wish to, and perhaps don’t even know how to accept responsibility for what has crossed your lips.  Your words are vacuous even from your own perspective.  That’s why you can say something and then renounce it, then saying the exact opposite immediately afterward; even when your words are written-down black and white and your lies are transparent.  Who cares?!  They’re just words.

None of you have any real beliefs.  Even Brother Bennett.  You’re little more than a band of wretched opportunists  who float on an endless stream of bubbles, consisting of empty words you sprinkle about.  Without any accountability.  Without any judgment.

But these aren’t soap bubbles.  They have weight and meaning.  Everything you said, when it would’ve been better if you’d shut your mouths; everything you didn’t say when you should’ve spoken up–this all has weight.  Bibi, Bennett, Bouzi, Lapid–the whole gang–the blood of these two children, one girl and one baby, who were murdered in the past few days–are your fault.”

Something new is reflected in the Israeli response to this rampage and the arson attack on the Dawabsheh family, which killed an 18 month-old infant and left three other family members with serious injuries. Israelis, unlike the normal reaction, are calling this terror.

Even the prime minister, representing a political party known for its Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism, paid his respects to the Palestinian family in the hospital. But his words were empty. They were the same words heard after numerous previous Jewish terror attacks.

If you listen to the video above note that he simply cannot express a genuine human emotion.  The words convey this meaning, but just look at his face.  It’s a conniving visage lacking in any humanity.  Why do I say that?  Because of what comes afterward.  He notes he called the Palestinian leader, whom he graces with the honorific “President Abbas.”  This is the same president he rails against and blames for incitement when there is a Palestinian terror attack.  The same one who he insults as a dwarf and hopeless misfit whenever it’s convenient.

Then he follows this with an invocation of peace.  Another empty gesture.  Why would any Palestinian in their right mind believe Israel wants peace when terrorists supported directly and indirectly by the State itself run rampant?  When State security forces are so incompetent as to allow a known homicidal maniac recently released from prison access to the same weapon he attacked the Gay Pride parade with ten years earlier?  When they don’t monitor his whereabouts?  Don’t even know he boasted on a public forum that he’d be bringing his knives to the parade and invited his pals to do so as well?

No, as Mysh says, this is a sham.  This is government drowning in a cesspool of lies and self-deception.  It fools no one except perhaps the voters who put it in office.

For those who dispute my claim above that the government itself supports the very terrorists it claims to abhor, note this article (Hebrew) about the Israeli pro-terror NGO, Honenu (it provides legal representation to accused Jewish terrorists and supports their families, among other activities).  It states that the government subsidizes Honenu (through it’s NGO tax-exemption), which in turn financially supports Jewish terrorists and their families.  They name Ami Popper as one example among many who receive this benefit.  Popper is serving a life sentence for murdering seven Palestinians in a West Bank terror attack.  His family is awarded grants worth tens of thousands of shekels.  Honenu has directed a total of $60,000 directly to the convicted Jewish terrorists and another $10,000 to their families.  The report notes that the Israeli taxpayer is, in effect, supporting Jewish terror.

avi malka israeli police officer racist

Quotations from Israeli police officer Avi Malka’s Facebook page (David Sheen)

More proof of official sanction for murder: An Israeli police officer, Avi Malka, wrote on Facebook that Shira Banki “had it coming” to her. He also said he hoped during Operation Protective Edge that, instead of killing 500 Palestinian children, Israel had killed a million. Despite the fact that Malka’s Facebook banner photo shows him in uniform, riding an official police motorcycle, the police replied that he was not on “active duty,” as if this absolved it of responsiblity.  As if the rest of the police force doesn’t share such homicidal, racist views.

mysh cartoon moloch

“Messiah, the King”: graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Palestinian home set ablaze by settler terrorists, killing a baby and severely burning his mother, father and brother. (Mysh)

Mysh composed another brilliant cartoon about the arson attack in the West Bank village of Hebron, in which 18 month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh was burned to death by settler terrorists. Palestinian eye-witnesses say they saw the attackers standing over the bodies as they burned. They did nothing to help them.

Mysh remembered (as I did in my Mint Press story) the Biblical-era pagan god, Moloch, who demanded the sacrifice of young children. Those familiar with the story of the sacrifice of Issac will remember the theory advanced by Bible critics that the ending of that story, in which the angel of God stays Abraham’s hand as he’s about to slit Issac’s hand, is a deliberate refutation of this pagan rite. Leonard Cohen’s song puts this view eloquently in his Song for Isaac:

You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god.

Mysh’s cartoon is brilliant because it employs the very graffiti the murderers scrawled on the Palestinian home (“Messiah, the King” in Hebrew). But he adds vocalization, daubed in blood-red paint, to the word “king” (melech in Hebrew) which transforms the word into “Moloch.” In effect, he says that the settlers are worshippers of a vicious, brutal pagan god. A god who demands the blood of babies for his rites. Mysh tells us that these evil ones are not Jews. They are worshipers of idols and demons.  Israel must vomit up such evil if it ever wishes to be cleanses of the sins these terrorists represent. Instead, I fear the State itself will increasingly embrace them.  That will make it a terror state on a par with North Korea.


Introductory Note: This is an expanded version of the article that Middle East Eye published earlier this week.  I also just published a new piece at Mint Press News, In Israel, Jews Can’t Be Terrorists, on the Jerusalem Gay Pride attack and the West Bank arson attack that killed a Palestinian baby.  Please help me publicize it via social media and your e mail list.

Over the past decade or more, Israel Lobby groups have devised and funded exchange programs with U.S. police and homeland security agencies which have imported dubious policing and national security practices to the U.S.  Groups like the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee each have programs which recruit delegations of high-level American security officials to liaise with Israeli counterparts in the police, military intelligence and internal security.  Hundreds of Americans have participated in these trips from departments in Boston, Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Oakland, San Diego, and Orange County (CA), Madison (WI) and Maine.  A fuller list of participating cities may be found here.  New York also has its very own police liaison office located inside an Israeli police station.  The NYPD eschewed the normal protocol of locating its office inside a U.S. embassy.

avi malka racist israeli cop

Israeli-U.S. police exchanges could turn our police forces into clones of Israel’s and produce officers like Avi Malka (David Sheen)

A former Washington DC police chief who participated in an Israel exchange program called Israel “the Harvard of anti-terrorism.”  When professionals like these return home from Israel they implement the same intrusive surveillance techniques and aggressive policies which they learned from their Israeli counterparts.

This Center for Investigative Reporting article notes the overlap between Israeli and U.S. police weaponry:

The most tangible evidence that the training is having an impact on American policing is that both countries are using identical equipment against demonstrators, according to a 2013 report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and photographs of such equipment taken at demonstrations in Ferguson and Oakland and Anaheim, California.

Tear gas grenades, “triple chaser” gas canisters and stun grenades made by the American companies Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. were used in all three U.S. incidents, as well as by Israeli security forces and military units.

Footage shot by activist Jacob Crawford in Ferguson last month revealed law enforcement used a long-range acoustic device that sends out high-pitched, painful noises designed to scatter crowds. Israeli forces first used such devices in response to West Bank protests in 2005, according to the B’Tselem report.

Max Blumenthal noted that the Alameda County police conducted a training exercise to prepare for expected Occupy protests in the Bay Area.  Called, Urban Shield 2011, it also featured members of the Israeli Border Police special forces unit, Yamam.  This agency has been regularly linked to targeted assassinations of Palestinians.  Its preferred method of “urban policing” was the bullet.

Jimmy Johnson, writing in Electronic Intifada, reports that these programs develop close professional relationships and political alliances between Israel and foreign security agencies.  This in turn develops a pro-Israel constituency within “local, regional and national security infrastructures.”  When Israel faces international opprobrium as it has during wars in Lebanon and Gaza, it can depend on these assets it’s patiently cultivated to act as advocates.  Generally, the more intensively Israeli security attitudes penetrate American security and law enforcement circles, the easier it will be for Israel to project its interests domestically.

The U.S. isn’t the only focus of such efforts.  Israel exports its military weapons and counter-terror expertise around the world.  India, a country with a new prime minister from a Hindu nationalist political background (generally hostile to Muslims), uses Israeli forces to train its own personnel in quelling civil disturbances.  In 2008, the new right-wing Canadian government signed an unprecedented security agreement which called for Israel to share its expertise and experience concerning “public safety issues.”  China, which also faces Muslim and Tibetan insurgencies, uses Israeli security personnel to train for acts of “terror and civil disturbances.  Israelis have also taught French police riot control techniques.

IDF and U.S. Police Use Social Media Monitoring, Massive Data Dumps to Target Citizens

Recently, the Israeli news portal, 972 reported IDF’s intelligence division had contracted with several Israeli Big Data companies to harvest enormous amounts of information from social media, telecom traffic and other sources tied to Israelis.  The companies were tasked with sorting through the data using methods similar to those Edward Snowden exposed in his NSA revelations.  The difference is, that at least ostensibly, the NSA was probing for terror linkages involving foreigners seeking to harm the U.S.

In the case, of the IDF, it was seeking keywords that might reasonably be associated with terrorism; but they were also using keywords associated with terms like BDS or boycott, which can’t conceivably be associated with terrorism, unless one adopts the paranoid style of Israel’s extremist political leadership, which has taken to calling support for BDS, “terrorism.”  Further, the contractors were plumbing data not just of Palestinians (non-citizens), but Israeli Jews (citizens) as well.  Everyone was caught up in the security dragnet.

Since Israel has no constitution and no ironclad guarantees of privacy such as have been confirmed by U.S. courts, it isn’t surprising that Israel rides roughshod over the rights of its citizens.  But what about this country, in which we have a constitution, judicial checks and balances, and a long history of civil liberties?  Given this, how should we explain this report from The Intercept this week that U.S. police departments and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been intensively monitoring the peaceful, legal activities of the Black Lives Matter movement?

…The department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful. The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.

They also show the department watching over gatherings that seem benign and even mundane. For example, DHS circulated information on a nationwide series of silent vigils and a DHS-funded agency planned to monitor a funk music parade and a walk to end breast cancer in the nation’s capital.

The article notes that DHS tracked a “National Moment of Silence” protest after the shooting of Michael Brown.  The agency listed the communities hosting associated events and noted that NYPD would be “monitoring the situation.”  Since when has a moment of silence become a criminal act or terror threat?

The funk parade was targeted for surveillance because DHS believed (without any supporting evidence) that there might be “Baltimore-related” protests against the police killing of Freddie Gray.  Add to this that the parade was held in an African-American neighborhood, and this provided enough justification for DHS to manufacture fear of civil unrest from costumes, funk music and generally having a good time.

Given the recent string of hate crime murder sprees in Louisiana, Charleston, Texas, and possibly Chattanooga, one wonders whether DHS has its priorities straight.

Israel and the “Army of Occupation” Police Model

Israeli intelligence agencies operate in similar ways, largely targeting Palestinians for surveillance.  They employ tactics similar to the NSA in terms of intercepting communications (phone, e mail, and computer).  In fact, 43 veterans of the IDF military intelligence Unit 8200, last year declared in a public letter that they would no longer participate in the sleazy tactics of blackmail, gay baiting and sexual humiliation used to recruit Palestinian agents.  The army promptly relieved them of their military duties for their insubordination.

Israeli agents also infiltrate Palestinian organizations and protests.  At rallies like the ones against the Separation Wall, Israeli mistarvim (agent provocateurs dressed like “Arabs”) incite violence by throwing rocks, which gives the military an excuse to escalate its tactics through use of tear gas and live fire ammunition.  Non-violent protesters, including some U.S. citizens, have been killed or severely injured through such subterfuge tactics.

Israel has also developed a new weapon in the fight against Palestinian resistance.  It has Skunk trucks which spray a noxious fluid (“a cross between a rotting animal corpse, raw sewage and human excrement”) over entire streets, drenching buildings and people with a foul-smelling ooze that lingers for days or weeks.  B’Tselem says the weapon is used as a form of “collective punishment” against entire villages for demonstrations in their midst.  Rania Khalek, writing in Electronic Intifada, has called it “environmental terrorism.”

The Israeli company, Odortec, which created this “weapon” in the fight against civil “disturbances” is marketing it to American police departments who’ve faced the sort of unrest of communities like Ferguson and Baltimore.  Here’s a bit of their marketing patter:

According to Odortec’s website, “skunk has been field-tested and proven to disperse even the most determined of violent protests” effectively “breaking adversarial resistance.”

Odortec has a U.S. distributor for its military-related products.  But understandably, U.S. police departments are quite sensitive about being publicly associated with such products.

Militarizing U.S. Cities

During the protests against police murders in American cities, we’ve seen a frightening propensity to militarize civil unrest.  Armored personnel carriers, body armor, night-vision goggles, and even tanks have turned our homes into battlefields.  This is another precedent reminiscent of the Israeli approach to Palestinian protest.  Israeli soldiers shoot first, ask questions later—or never.  They expect the worst and find it.  They treat Palestinians like animals and the result is massive rivers of blood running through Palestinian streets.

The fatal error of this type of policing is that it transforms a political problem (racism and its attendant evils) into a criminal phenomenon.  American police in many places are clearly poorly trained.  They are either unfamiliar with minority residents in their communities or frightened of them.  The result is policing that is closer to a military occupation than policing with the consent of the policed (local residents).

Israel’s approach turns our streets into a war zone.  It turns police and residents into enemies.  It treats everyone as a potential criminal or terrorist.  It runs roughshod over individual rights for the sake of national security.  Do we really want to emulate this model?  Do we really want to become what Ehud Barak called Israel: the villa in the jungle?

Happily, Pres. Obama spoke out against this phenomenon and announced that henceforth local police departments would be restricted in the military surplus armaments they could procure.  No more half-tracks, APCs, tanks, etc.

NYPD Targets an Entire Muslim Community

New York City, as the largest city in the nation, and one with a huge minority (and Arab-Muslim) population, is a special laboratory for counter-terror policing.  As one of the victims of 9/11, the city was open to pursuing new methods of detecting terror threats.

Former CIA officer Lawrence Sanchez began working for the New York Police Department in 2003, in the aftermath of 9/11.  He approached the Department with an audacious plan to profile and monitor a wide range of potential suspects and targets who might be threats to security in New York.  Calling it the Demographics Unit, he proposed spreading a wide net, monitoring Muslim institutions, groups and individuals throughout the city.  The program was intended to be pre-emptive.  It didn’t need or wait for tangible proof of an intent to commit a crime.  It sought to do the equivalent of reading suspects’ minds to search for intent as it was being formed in the minds of prospective terrorists.  As a result, NYPD sent undercover agents known as “rakers” or “mosque crawlers” into houses of worship, neighborhood stores, community centers, wherever local Muslims gathered.  It not only monitored activities; agents recruited impressionable young men to engage in criminal acts.

According to Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman’s Enemies Within, the model for Sanchez’ ambitious program was Israel itself and its highly developed surveillance programs for monitoring Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.  As an NYPD official told the Associated Press:

…The Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

But as the authors note:

Sanchez’ program ignored some important differences between the U.S. and Israel.  Brooklyn and Queens…were not occupied territories…There was no security wall being erected in New York City.  Israel does not have a constitution and Muslims there do not enjoy the same freedom as Jews.  In fact, they are routinely discriminated against.  And most significantly, unlike Israel, New York was not trying to preserve a [Jewish] religious identity.

Israeli Counter-Terror Tactics the U.S. Embraced with Abandon

The book also notes that Abu Ghraib and the CIA’s secret international prison network used to torture suspected Islamist terrorists were preceded by twenty years by the IDF Prison 1391.  There it took high-value detainees and routinely tortured them to elicit information on potential terror activities.

One of the most notorious of the torturers was Doron Zahavi, whose identity I first exposed.  He was a senior officer tasked with “breaking” Mustafa Dirani.  Dirani was thought to be a key player in the capture and detention of IAF pilot, Ron Arad.  As part of his failed attempt, Zahavi raped Dirani anally, who later sued the Israeli government for his treatment.  An increasingly right-wing Israeli Supreme Court overruled its own previous ruling permitting the suit.  The tortuously argued ruling rejecting his suit claimed that since Dirani had left Israeli jurisdiction (he lived in, and was kidnapped by Israeli forces in Lebanon and returned there after his release), Israel had no obligation to adjudicate his claims.

Goldman and Apuzzo also note that in seeking legal precedent for procedures that would be labelled abuse or torture elsewhere, the Bush administration employed the Israeli Supreme Court, which had permitted use of sleep deprivation, painful stress positions and days’-long interrogation sessions as part of its definition of acceptable “moderate physical coercion” against Palestinian prisoners.

Israel also first widely used targeted assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders, a tactic the CIA honed and expanded in the Middle East.  One of the most notorious of these murders involved dropping a 2,000 lb. bomb on a residential apartment building in Gaza, which killed Hamas leader, Salah Shehadeh.  Also in the building, which was totally destroyed, was his wife, baby and fifteen other uninvolved civilians, who all died.  The Israeli human rights NGO, Yesh Din, has called for a war crimes investigation against those military personnel who perpetrated this attack.

Israel also pioneered the use of drones in conventional warfare and as part of its surveillance of potential targets.  Drones have also been used in targeted killings.  But it was the U.S. that took the tactic to “the next level.”  In fact, I’ve argued that America’s most prevalent and notorious form of engagement with the Muslim world in this region is targeted drone killings, which have taken the lives of 3,000 individuals.  The Center for Investigative Journalism has documented that hundreds of the dead were civilians and not militants.

We must decide as a country which model we prefer: the Israeli national security state or a nation under laws.  Do we sacrifice our rights on the altar of security?  Is being safe more important than being free?


NOTE: WBEZ’s Worldview (Chicago) aired an interview with me this morning on the Jonathan Pollard news.  You may hear it here:

The first 12 minutes is my interview.  I was followed by Reaganite, Larry Korb, who flacked for the Free Pollard crowd.  My thanks to Steve Bynum and Jerome McDonnell for the invitation.  I also published a new piece yesterday for Middle East Eye on U.S.-Israel police and national security exchanges and their transformation of America into a near-clone of the Israeli national security state.

Jonathan pollard arrest

Jonathan Pollard after his arrest

The Obama administration has confirmed that Jonathan Pollard will be released in November on completion of thirty years of his life sentence for espionage on behalf of Israel dating back to the early 1980s.  Pollard was one of the most damaging spies in U.S. history.  While working for U.S. Naval intelligence he stole thousands of documents and plans regarding Soviet military capabilities in the Arab world.  He offered material documenting the defense status of Arab countries from Egypt to Syria.  Though he claims he did this as an Israeli patriot, the most detailed account at the National Security Archive site portrays a deeply troubled fantasist who was motivated as much or more by money as by conviction.  The Israelis showered as much as $100,000 or more on him, including an engagement ring for his then fiancé (he since divorced).  The claim of pro-Israel altruism is belied by the fact that he also offered stolen information to other countries including Pakistan.

Pollard was “handled” by the Israeli scientific spy agency, LEKEM, under the direction of super-spy, Rafi Eitan.  Eitan is the celebrated Israeli agent who captured Adolf Eichmann and brought him back to Israel for trial.  He less successfully kidnapped Capt. Alexander “Avner” Israel, an Israeli double agent, in Europe.  The drugs administered during the flight returning him from Europe to Israel actually killed him.  When Eitan landed in Israel and found he had a dead body instead of a live spy, he ordered the plane back into the air and to dump the body in the Mediterranean.  A bizarre but true story of one of the rarely known failures of Israeli intelligence.

Pollard was so blatant in his espionage activities that his colleagues reported his unusual behavior.  As the FBI closed in to arrest him, Pollard made a mad dash for the Israeli embassy.  However, his bosom buddy Eitan, when faced with a decision about whether to give Pollard sanctuary in the embassy said, absolutely not.  He left Pollard to his fate.

For the past several decades, Israel has made up for its guilt by lobbying incessantly for Pollard’s release.  The arguments offered were strange and pathetic: he spied for an ally. How could he do any damage to us in that case?  He did it for love of Israel: how can you punish him for altruism?  He was punished too much: it was an anti-Semitic conspiracy by Caspar Weinberger and George Schultz.

In response to these claims, Israel didn’t just sit on the materials Pollard gave it.  When Soviet dissidents were suffering persecution by the authorities, Israel offered Pollard’s materials to them in exchange for freeing two prominent Soviet Jewish activists.  Once secrets are spilled you don’t know where they will end up.  In this case, they ended up in the hands of our Cold War chief rival.

In the aftermath of this scandal, Israel disbanded LEKEM and retired Eitan from service.  Israel’s Mossad swore to the U.S. on a stack of Bibles: Never Again!  That promise lasted as long as it took to recruit the next American spy.  There have been many since.  The most recent was Larry Franklin, who offered secret documents to another infamous Mossad handler, in this case, Uzi Arad.  Franklin’s betrayal was facilitated by Aipac’s Steve Rosen.  In this case as well the Israelis swore they didn’t spy on the U.S. and that, in any case, they would never do it again.  Right.

U.S. intelligence officials who ranked the level of espionage activity in this country by foreign intelligence services say that Israel is the third most active after Russia and China.

Both the Israelis and Americans are claiming there is no relation between Pollard’s release and the Iran nuclear deal.  But the media is awash in speculation that the Obama administration, in trying to soften the blow, is offering a carrot in the form of Pollard.  It has done so before: during the Kerry-led peace negotiations the U.S. also offered Pollard’s freedom in return for a deal with the Palestinians.  Bibi rejected the offer, which also included billions in new advanced military weaponry and technology.  This time around these blandishments are again on the table.  The visit this week by Defense Secretary Ash Carter to Israel surely included presentation of a shopping list by the Israelis and an American offer of over $1-billion in new military deals.

Bibi could reject Pollard’s freedom because he didn’t care about him as an individual.  Pollard was the equivalent of what the GOP used to call a “wedge issue.”  A wedge issue in Republican parlance is one that will rouse the troops, even though you know it has no hope of happening.  Issues like school prayer, abortion, gay marriage.  Pollard was red meat issue for the Israeli far-right, the Likud’s natural constituency.  As long as Pollard remained captive, Bibi could continue to raise this card.  He could also use it as a cudgel to beat up the Americans when he needed an issue to do so.  Pollard free doesn’t help Bibi at all.

Lawyers for the Israeli-American say he has promises of work and housing in New York after he leaves prison.  Let me guess: a cushy job as a security consultant for a pro-Israel think tank like JINSA, the Manhattan Institute, or WINEP!  He can’t visit Israel for five years, until 2020.  Upon his arrival there, the Israeli people will throw him a ticker tape parade (that’s more of an American thing, but you know what I mean).  Probably offer him a villa in a settlement.  He’ll be teaching a course on espionage to the Mossad’s future-spies enrolled at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in no time.

The most troubling aspect of the Pollard affair is Israel’s recruitment of American Jews to spy against their native land.  This doesn’t trouble Israel in the least.  The notion that Jews should have any other allegiance than to Israel is anathema to Israeli Zionists.  But when an American Jew spies it raises the specter of dual loyalty.  In this case, it supports the charge by anti-Semites that Jews have no loyalty to the land of their birth.  That Jews are a Fifth Column waiting to betray America.

Pollard made it that much more difficult for the U.S. government and its agencies (especially military and intelligence) to trust Jews who sought to work there.

But Israeli intelligence doesn’t care.  In intelligence matters, Israel doesn’t have allies; it has interests.  If an American Jews can advance those interests, then so be it.  There are no values, no taboos as far as recruitment or spying on an ally are concerned.

shani palti family

Dressed to the nines for the International Emmy Awards (International Emmy Almanac 2013-14)

I reported last week on an Israeli TV news segment recounting the accident that killed 16 year-old Gal Beck in 2005.  It featured two grieving parents who’d never given up hope for justice in their son’s case despite the fact that the police did an incompetent investigation and the prosecutor dropped the case within a few weeks of opening it.  There remains a gag order within Israel on identifying the woman who plowed into Gal’s motor scooter after running a red light, according to several eyewitnesses.  I named her as Shani Palti-Schulz.

She is a member of one of Israel’s better-connected families.  Her father is Nadav Palti, one of Israel’s most successful TV producers.  After I published my post, Israelis identified the suspect’s mother. She is Dganit Palti, the chief financial officer of El Al.  In Israel, some of the most important decisions are made based on connections, rather than merit.  While Ms. Palti may be eminently qualified for the job, it didn’t hurt that her husband, Nadav, was a business partner of Tami Mozes Borowitz (the Mozes’ are one of Israel’s 18 oligarch families, which collectively own 60% of the nation’s corporate capital).  Mozes Borowitz is the vice chair of El Al and a corporate director.

The Israeli financial elite are well-protected in every way.  Their economic successes are guaranteed.  The wheels of commerce are greased.  The fix is in.  That’s why the Israeli version of the Occupy movement which took over the streets of Tel Aviv several summers ago, resonated so strongly with Israel’s 99%.  Israelis know the system is fixed.  They know they will just get by, but the elite will never come out a loser.

That goes for their children too.  When they get themselves into hot water, the system springs into action to protect its own.  No doubt, this is what happened the night Shani Palti killed Gal Beck.

Nadav Palti produces the international Emmy awards on behalf of his production company.  I came up with a photo from a recent awards program which features the happy family dressed in all their finery.  I wonder what Gal Beck’s parents think when they see such images of familial joy?



Mike Huckabee’s Holocaust Abomination

huckabee holocaust ovensThere’s nothing worse in the world than non-Jews who try to out-Jew Jews.  Their fawning references to subjects about which they know next to nothing is offensive (I can think of stronger words, but let’s keep it civil).  They have no right.  They just have no right.  There are too many Jewish bodies, too much smoke went up those chimneys to permit ignoramuses like Mike Huckabee to make a mockery of this ineffable suffering.

To recap for those who’ve been snoozing in a cave for the past few days, Huckabee gave an interview to Breitbart in which he railed against the Iran nuclear deal.  He said:

This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naïve that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiotic thing, this Iran deal. It should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people. I read the whole deal. We gave away the whole store. It’s got to be stopped.”

First of all, can anyone credit his claim to have read “the whole deal?” All 159 pages of it? And even if he did, can you concede such a jackass would’ve understood anything that he read?

Next is the whole Obama=Hitler thing.  Hey, I’m sure you’ve seen those vile images of Obama with a Hitler mustache and wearing an SS uniform.  Isn’t there some political equivalent of Godwin’s Law that if you do this sort of thing you’re admitting defeat (and looniness)?

But one thing irks me beyond everything else: if you want to exploit a historical event at least understand a smidgen about the event you’re exploiting. Jews were not marched to, or murdered in “ovens.” Corpses of victims were burned in crematoria. Jews were murdered in gas chambers. Then their bodies were burned in ovens. If you can’t understand the process of extermination enough to get the broadest details right, that tells us a great deal about your motives and intellectual dishonesty.

Here’s more of Huck’s campaign palaver on the subject:

The embarrassment of the GOP political classes has been marginal.  A few candidates have wagged their fingers and said: “Bad boy, Huck.”  The ADL released the standard boilerplate: “you said bad things, don’t do it again.  Now go back out and play.”  Even the more-Likud-than-the-Likud, Marvin Hier took Huckabee to the woodshed (but nicely).

But the Party has an even bigger problem on its hands than Mike Huckabee.  The more disgusting the things Donald Trump says, the higher he rises in the GOP presidential polls.  They’ve got to figure out how to Dump the Trump, when he’s the only figure generating heat in the campaign.

In this entire misadventure, Huckabee is taking a page from Trump: the more stupid and outrageous you are, the more attention you’ll get. Media attention is the currency of a presidential campaign in which there seem to be a score of candidates and growing practically by the minute. Notoriety is the oxygen. Suck up enough of it and maybe one of your rivals will suffocate and drop out.

That’s why Huckabee is doubling down on his statement.  He knows that the more outrageous he is, the more the hardcore Tea Party types will love him.  Out-Donalding The Donald.

Republican thinking appears to be, that it matters little what candidates say now. All will be forgotten and forgiven come 2016. I’m not so sure. If there are enough racist mutants like Trump speaking vile nonsense long enough, I think Americans will remember. It might not be foremost in their mind when they finally cast their ballot. But it will be a factor. It will be in the mix that determines overall attitudes toward the eventual GOP presidential candidate.

Sure Jeb Bush (if it’s him) is a far-cry from Donald Trump and a less far-cry from Huckabee. But their views are like a virus. Once the germs enter the body politic, anyone associated with them is liable to be infected.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Huck has abused the Holocaust: back in 2007 he called abortion “a Holocaust.”  There oughta be a law…abuse the Holocaust, go to Jail, do not collect $200.