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Brandeis Rescinds Hirsi Ali Honorary Degree

hirsi ali

Ayan Hirsi Ali interviewed by FoxNews libertarian extremist, John Stossel.

Brandeis’ president announced today that he’d rescinded the University’s offer of an honorary degree to Ayan Hirsi Ali. Here is the statement:

Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.

Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.

A little background is in order.  I was made aware of the award originally by a faculty member and wrote the post about the story.  It took a few days, but finally campus activists began to organize and in the past few days the Brandeis Justice had an editorial rejecting Hirsi Ali’s degree, the Muslim student group wrote an op-ed and there was a roundly negative news article.  Students began a petition campaign and faculty weighed in against it.  CAIR put the award on its national bulletin circulated to its members and the media.

In the end, Lawrence bowed to the inevitable and withdrew the degree.  Not to have done so would’ve risked a huge scandal which would’ve gone national.  While I don’t believe that personally Lawrence has any problems with Hirsi Ali’s Islamophobia, nor would the trustees who are the ultimate “deciders,” he had to recognize the rest of the world doesn’t see things quite the same way.

But one portion of the statement is truly pathetic.  How can a university president, former law school dean, and noted legal scholar not understand the principle of due diligence?  It would take 15 seconds worth of Google search to dig up the interview from Reason Magazine which I found.  The truth is that either a pro-Israel trustee or his chief of staff, David Bunis, who’s a director of the David Project, suggested her to Lawrence.  The latter knows which side his bread is buttered on and he went along.  After all, you’ve got to go along to get along in academia, just like politics.  Or to paraphrase Forest Gump, pro-Israel is as pro-Israel does.

Note all, that Lawrence invited Hirsi Ali back to campus.  Undoubtedly, they’ll pick the most distinguished academic lecture series on campus and invite her to keynote it.  The trustees will throw a big party and fete her.  Fred Lawrence will even introduce her just as he did Alan Dershowitz, when he spoke on campus.  Neither Jimmy Carter nor Max Blumenthal got the same treatment!  The president will talk about Hirsi Ali as a beacon of courage and hope and bulwark against Islamist extremism.  He’ll endorse just about her entire world view.  If this incident is mentioned, it will be but a brief footnote.

In other words, this is a victory.  And I’m proud of whatever small role I and you, my readers played in it.  But the battle is by no means over.  Islamophobia continues to rear its ugly head at Brandeis and elsewhere.  Even if students and faculty disapprove, they don’t call the shots.  It’s the trustees who do and they are the emodiments of the Israel Lobby.  As I wrote earlier, Lawrence made sure to atttend Aipac’s national conference and the annual Friends of the IDF fundraising gala.  He doesn’t do that because it advances Brandeis’ liberal arts reputation.  He does it because his trustees want him to.

UPDATE: Ayan Hirsi Ali released a stinging rebuke to Brandeis for withdrawing her honorary degree.  It looks like there will be no future speeches on campus for her as I’d suggested above.  At least not as long as she’s this mad.  In her reply, she falsely notes that the rescinding of her honor is a free speech issue.  It’s not.  She was offered an honor by the University which it has withdrawn.  The offer of a degree is volitional, not something to which she’s automatically entitled as a citizen.  She’s free to speak wherever she wishes or is invited.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Alan Dershowitz is making such arrangements for her somewhere near campus as I write this.

If Fred Lawrence had been smart, he would’ve offered her such an opportunity on campus in the same conversation in which he withdrew the degree offer.  But it appears he didn’t and this is the result.  While I have no sympathy either for Hirsi Ali’s views or her stance on this matter, it’s Fred Lawrence and his staff who are most at fault for getting themselves into this thicket in the first place.

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Free press in Israel?  Sure.  The press is free to report what the government wants it to report.  And it’s free not to report what the government doesn’t want it to report.  That’s press freedom, Israel-style.  In the Only Democracy in the Middle East.

arafat jaradat

Arafat Jaradat during his funeral preparations

I refer you to the case of Arafat Jaradat, a West Bank student and gas station attendant who was arrested by the Shin Bet in Feburary 2013 and was dead five days later.  His crime? Allegedly throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces during a protest.  An autopsy found three broken ribs, severe contusions on his legs and forehead, and blood in his mouth and nose.  A Palestinian doctor appointed by the family to be part of the autopsy team found the injuries consistent with torture, as has a Turkish forensic specialist in injuries caused by torture.  The report by the latter specialist was commissioned by the NGOs Al Haq and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.  It was submitted in a secret court hearing held earlier this week before Israeli judge, Ami Kobo.

The Israeli medical examiner found the same wounds on Jaradat’s body but could not determine a cause of death.  In fact, he declared that the broken ribs and other contusions could have resulted from attempts to revive him after his heart stopped.  The Palestinian and Turkish specialists found no evidence of any signs of attempts to resuscitate him.  The Israeli foreign ministry also released a statement claiming he died as a result of a heart ailment even though none of the medical specialists, including the Israeli found any evidence of a heart condition.  But of course if someone’s heart stops beating, that’s quite a heart condition, isn’t it??

The last person to see the prisoner alive was his lawyer, who told Haaretz about their encounter:

The fellow came in – doubled over, scared, confused and shrunken,” Sabbagh told us this week. “The judge gave us two minutes to talk. He told me he suffered from back pain that had been exacerbated by prolonged sitting on a chair with his hands tied behind his back during his interrogation.”

Jaradat’s physical and psychological condition looked to Sabbagh like serious cause for concern, and he requested that the judge have him examined by a doctor. The judge indeed ordered such an examination, but it is not clear if it actually took place and what its findings were. The prosecution asked to have Jaradat’s remand extended for 15 days – thereby indicating the investigation was far from over – and the judge approved another 12 days of detention and interrogations.

This apparently broke Jaradat’s spirit. He thought about his pregnant wife and his children. He begged his lawyer to do something to get him released and the lawyer explained to him that this was not within his power. According to Sabbagh, the fact of his transfer to Megiddo Prison on that same day or the next day, even though the investigation had not yet been completed, indicates he had been passed along to stool pigeons. Usually only people whose interrogations have been completed or who are at the stage of being sent on to informers get transferred to Megiddo.

Israel claims Jaradat was “resting” in his cell, but Sabbagh emphasizes that there is never rest in detention, in those conditions…

There is another element of duplicity in Jaradat’s death.  Upon his arrest, he was brought to the Shin Bet interrogation prison at Jalameh.  But on his death, he was in the Israeli prison of Megiddo (where security detainees are sent after their Shin Bet interrogation is complete).  Gideon Levy implies that this was a further attempt to confuse the circumstances of his death, so that investigators could not pinpoint where in the chain of custody he died.

When there is a death in custody, a judge is appointed to review the findings and determine whether there is grounds for a further criminal investigation.  In such cases involving the Shin Bet, the hearing is closed to the public and media in order to protect the security services from intrusive review.  This, of course, makes it far more likely they will not be held accountable for the murder of Jaradat.

To be fair, I should make clear that Jaradat was held in various places and conditions during his incarceration.  It’s conceivable his injuries could’ve occurred outside his Shin Bet interrogation.  The Shin Bet is known to pass along suspects to Palestinian prisoner-informants, who “tune them up” for interrogators and attempt to elicit further confessions.  But whether he was killed by Shin Bet officers or Palestinian stoolies, the culpability lies with the security agency.  A Supreme Court ruling forbids torture except in certain limited circumstances, but the ruling is routinely ignored.

Jaradat was from the village of Sa’ir.  He had two children and at the time of his death, his wife was pregnant with his third.

Everything above is standard, run of the mill Israeli security apparatus brutality, murder, and perversion of justice.  But what makes all this far worse is that PCATI circulated its autopsy findings and press release to the Israeli media which…did nothing.  It’s astonishing that in a case like this in which a prisoner was murdered in custody, the Israeli press refuses to cover this newsworthy development in the case.  It simply refuses to put any effort into covering the court proceeding and the accompanying material offered to the court.

Why is this?  It goes back to my first paragraph about Israel’s much-vaunted press freedom.  There is no gag order in this case.  There is nothing formal preventing media coverage.  But reporters did ask the Ministry of Justice about reporting and were told they couldn’t.  Why?  Because the PCATI-Al Haq document was submitted as part of a secret judicial proceeding.  Therefore, even though the NGOs commissioning the report released it to the public and asked for media coverage, reporters are prohibited from doing so.  Not to mention that the official Israeli autopsy findings have been released far and wide and are under no such prohibition.

That brings me to explain the reason the security forces haven’t been able to wield the judicial hammer of the gag order.  If they did get such a ruling they’d have to embargo the government’s own autopsy results and any related documents they’ve submitted to the judge in this case.  They don’t want to impede their own PR efforts, only efforts by the human rights NGOs to tell the public what really happened.  The truth has become an orphan.

I’m sorry.  I have as much sympathy as the next guy for the difficulties of practicing journalism under an authoritarian security regime such as Israel’s, but this is pathetic.  The Ministry has no legal basis under which it may prevent publication if it refuses to get a gag.  This is simple craven capitulation to state power on the part of journalists from such august publications as Haaretz and others.  This is a pathetic breach of journalistic standards.

The last time a Palestinian prisoner was known to have been killed in Shin Bet custody was in 1995.  In that case, the Shin Bet arrested, tortured and killed Abd al-Samed Harizat.  According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Hebrew), the prisoner was:

…Interrogated for 11 hours during which he was shaken severely a total of twelve times.  The interrogation was only suspended upon a sudden deterioration of his mental condition and after bodily fluids began bubbling from his mouth and nose.

He was taken to Hadassah Hospital where he died four days later.  A Shin Bet interrogator was arrested and charged with negligence.  There were no criminal charges ever brought because the prosecutor found the Shin Bet could not have realized that its procedures might result in death.  This despite the fact that violent shaking is not only a standard technique for torturers, but one that periodically ends in death.

In Jaradat’s case, there won’t be any charges.  The times of Harizat are long ago and far away, under the prime ministership of Yitzhak Rabin.  Not a man known for mercy, but at least one willing to have his torturers held accountable periodically.  There is no chance there will be any culpability in the current case.  And even less so while the Israeli media is asleep at the switch.

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daniel abraham

S. Daniel Abrahams cash allegedly bribed former Olmert confidant, Shula Zaken

S. Daniel Abraham, founder of the Slimfast diet product company, which he sold for $2.3-billion to Unilever, has led a colorful life in the entourage of Ehud Olmert. The former prime minister was recently convicted of taking bribes in the Holyland development case.  Back in 2008, Olmert fundraiser-bag man, Morris Talansky “sang” to Israeli police about the ways, dates and times he brought his bounty to the Israeli prime minister.  At least some of those songs he sang had the name “Abraham” prominently displayed in the lyrics.

In one case described on Israeli TV news and recounted by ABC, a limo driver hired by Abraham brought Slimfast boxes filled with cash to Olmert’s New York hotel suite, which Talansky delivered to the prime minister.  Israel’s News1 writes (Hebrew) that Abraham also bought Olmert’s Jerusalem home for an exorbitant amount and then rented it back to the former PM for a deflated amount.  The arrangement was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to Olmert.  In most circles that’s a sweetheart deal that raises huge red flags.

Abraham kept the cash spigot open for former Olmert confidant, Shula Zaken, as well.  She was the latter’s former personal assistant and a key aide and conduit for many of Olmert’s corrupt schemes.  Until recently, Zaken had stood by Olmert’s side and refused to roll over on him.  She would not testify against him no matter what was offered.

But in the past month, as the chance that Olmert would be convicted (and her along with him) became more real, she reconsidered.  She offered to testify, but her testimony wasn’t required before the guilty verdict wasn’t offered.  The judge is now considering whether to allow her to testify against her former boss.  News1 reports that she will testify that at least two Olmert “benefactors,” one of whom was Abraham, passed cash to her via Olmert’s lawyer, Roi Belcher.  Though the money was offered ostensibly to support payment of her legal fees, it was essentially a bribe intended to silence her.  Clearly, it didn’t work.

The Israeli police is very interested in speaking with Abraham, who normally travels to Israel three times a year on the major religious holidays.  News1 notes drily that he’s not expected in Israel for the upcoming Passover holiday.

It’s an interesting diet Abraham concocted for his Israeli pals: cash-rich and value-poor.  The man who helped convince the world it was fat and needed slimming, has readily led Ehud Olmert to the trough to feast on the fat of the land.

Abraham founded the Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, which appears to be little more than a vanity project that showcases his commitment to liberal Zionism and the rapidly expiring two-state solution.  The current director is Bob Wexler, who served in Congress as Obama’s chief Jewish point-man.  As best I can tell, this is Wexler’s sinecure, a reward for his years of faithful service to both Abraham and Democratic presidents.  I heard Wexler once speak at a J Street conference and thought he was a boring mouthpiece who could’ve made the same speech to Aipac (and probably did).

As Anshel Pfeffer noted in a recent Haaretz article, Olmert’s corruption is nothing unusual.  Since the founding of the State there have been wealthy Diaspora Jews who were happy to open their wallets for Israel prime ministers.  They considered it their duty as Zionists to do so.  From Abe Feinberg, who answered the call to privately finance Israel’s nuclear program with American Jewish funding, to those doing favors for Bibi Netanyahu–the line is long.  Every prime minister has his cronies and favorites.  Pfeffer even notes that Ariel Sharon’s beloved Sycamore Ranch was bought by Meshulam Riklis (remember him?) for the IDF general.

Avigdor Lieberman was under suspicion for similar arrangements with his ‘financiers.’  When you get power there is no end of corporate chieftains who are happy to wine and dine you and earn your favor.  And there is no end of Israeli generals and politicians willing to receive such flattery and attention.  The entire Israeli political system is corrupt.  Not just individual politicians, but the entire system.  That is why Israeli electoral politics is essentially meaningless.  The game is fixed, the outcome guaranteed.  The wealthy win.  The poor remain shut out.

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brandeis honorary degree for hirsi ali

Ayan Hirsi Ali, raging Islamophobe, honored with Brandeis honorary degree

It’s commencement time and universities are proudly announcing who they’ve snagged as honorary degree and commencement speakers.  Brandeis has an august list including Geoffrey Canada and Jill Abramson, worthy honorees certainly.  But one choice stands out like a sore thumb: Ayan Hirsi Ali.  Readers will recall that she is the executive producer of Honor Diaries, the latest bit of Islamophobe propaganda from the Clarion Project shop.

I also reported that she gave an interview in Reason Magazine in which an incredulous interviewer got her to admit she favored extermination of Islam, even by military means.  It’s an extraordinary account of unfettered almost genocidal hate:

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times?…Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?

Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.

Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali:No. Islam, period…

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that…You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Reason: Militarily?

Hirsi Ali:In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

It’s a scarcely-hidden fact that Brandeis’ president Fred Lawrence, is very close to Aipac and the pro-Israel right.  As Brandeis Prof. Harry Mairson wrote in the campus newspaper:

…Lawrence just attended the AIPAC annual meeting, has photo ops with Shin Bet directors and goes to Friends of the IDF dinners. Speaking at a 2012 Birthright Israel conference, at Brandeis, he proclaimed himself a proud Birthright parent, asking “How do we grow this? How do we take it to the next level?” His Chief of Staff David Bunis is on the board of The David Project, which fought against the establishment of a mosque in Boston, and now devotes itself “to positively shape campus opinion on Israel.” Our ex-Board of Trustees chair, Stephen Kay, told the Faculty Senate Council during a Board meeting, in unambiguous terms: “We support Israel”—not individually, but institutionally.

Apparently, part of supporting Israel is to honor raging Islamophobes like Hirsi Ali.  One wonders whether anyone at Brandeis did the least research on Hirsi Ali’s murderous murmurings on Islam.  Or if they did, whether they even cared.  A divisive, hateful figure like her doesn’t deserve the recognition bestowed by major supposedly liberal university in the form of an honorary degree.  If someone wants to honor her let it be her ideological pals at the Clarion Project and the American Enterprise Institute, where she is a research fellow.  Why Brandeis?  Unless the University seeks a reputation of being a haven for Muslim-haters and pro-Israel hasbara.

Hirsi Ali also is a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.  It’s no coincidence that her husband, Niall Ferguson, is also a fellow there.  Who said academic opportunities are awarded based on merit??  The Belfer Center director who appointed her, Graham Allison, distinguishes himself here by lauding Harvard for returning ROTC to campus and engineering a reconciliation with Henry Kissinger.  ‘Nuff said.

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obama macchiavelli

Obama shadowed by Macchiavelli’s dark prince.

One of the things (one of the many things) I hate about Barack Obama’s presidency is the sense of political expediency divorced of any values or ethics.  We’ve seen this especially in his treatment of his nominees to senior positions.  Though it seemed to happen much more often in his first term, when he cut the legs out from under both Chas. Freeman and Rob Malley for key security and Middle East State Department positions, it’s just happened again with the scuttling of the Iranian appointment of its UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi.  Just as Freeman and Malley had liberal skeletons in their closet that spooked the Israel Lobby and allowed a manufactured crisis to destroy their candidacies, the administration has colluded with some former Iranian hostages and the GOP to blacklist Abutalebi.

What was his ‘crime?’  In 1979, he was associated with the student group whose members took over the U.S. embassy.  It should be noted that not every member of this group participated in the takeover, nor did Aboutalebi.  But at several junctures he was asked to serve as a translator at press conferences where hostages were freed.  This is his sole offense.  Someone took his picture at one such press conference and all you need is to have a picture in the embassy of yourself with a shaggy beard and you automatically become a hostage-taker.

This scurrilous, mendacious Bloomberg article began the onslaught with the spurious claim that the Iranian was directly involved in the hostage taking and embassy takeover.  The State Department has called his appointment “extremely troubling,” without offering any support for their alleged concern.  Members of Congress have already decided that he’s a bomb-throwing terrorist without offering any proof:

…Lawmakers have derided Aboutalebi as a terrorist and a key conspirator in the hostage crisis…

Who are these solons?  Why, Chuck Schumer’s Aipac’s water-carrier and Ted Cruz, the Tea Party’s chief tea-taster and KoolAid drinker.  What an unholy alliance!

Nima Shirazi’s comprehensive Muftah post unequivocally proves that Abutalebi had no leadership, organizational or substantive role in the 1979 embassy takeover.  His involvement was incidental and peripheral.   To paraphrase one of Nima’s interviewees–it’s as if you discovered that someone baked a casserole that was served at an SDS meeting in 1969.  In fact, the Iranian diplomat believes the embassy takeover severely damaged relations between Iran and the U.S., which is a development he’s trying to repair.

Robert Mackey wrote an interesting analysis which notes that both the radical cultist terror group, the MeK and the Revolutionary Guards both have made common cause in sabotaging the Iranian’s diplomat’s role.  Joining them is Ted Cruz, Tea Party darling, and Chuck Schumer, Bibi’s senate water-carrier, who each have falsely accused the Iranian of being a terrorist.  Can you think of a more unlikely set of bedfellows than the MeK, IRG, Tea Party and Israel Lobby?  None wants rapprochement between Iran and the west for which Abutalebi is a powerful advocate.  Hence he is a worthy target.  Killing his nomination will hurt the chances for an Iranian nuclear deal and reconciliation with the west.

Abutalebi was appointed to his position by the moderate Iranian government of Pres. Rouhani in January.  The former UN ambassador left New York to begin his next diplomatic rotation, leaving no one at the helm in New York for many months.  The U.S. never responded to Iranian requests for clarification of his status.  They just expected the Iranians would get the message and withdraw him.

There is a larger context to the U.S. rejection of this diplomat.  Though the UN is an international body with semi-autonomous status in both New York and the U.S., we have often used visas as a political tool to pursue our own vendettas and agendas.  Usually, we’ve only refused to approve visas for foreign leaders or officials seeking to attend a UN session.  We’ve done that regularly in the past with nations as varied as Russia, Iran, Libya, and Cuba.  I asked Colum Lynch, who wrote 2011 Foreign Policy article linked above, about political abuse of the U.S. visa process, and he isn’t aware of any other instance in which an ambassador was denied his UN job in this fashion.  So the Obama administration is setting yet another odious precedent in allowing international diplomacy to be subverted by petty political grandstanding.

Our involvement in the visa process of UN officials is governed by international treaties, which only allow us to deny approval if our national security is in danger.  There is, of course, no possible way in which a moderate Iranian diplomat who supports the policies of Hassan Rouhani (and Mohammed Khatami before him) could do so.  In other words, this is a pure cave in by Obama to anti-Iran interests.  And he’s sacrificing our own commitment to international treaties.  So we can expect countries sympathetic to Iran’s plight to do the same to us.  But we will scream bloody murder if it happens, because the world simply does not do that to Americans from the land of the free and home of the brave.  If it happens at all, we do it to you, not you to us.  And remember that.

Returning to the opponents of the nomination, while I can sympathize with former hostages who seek financial redress from Iran for their ordeal, the way to pursue their case is not by holding a decent, moderate diplomat hostage.  What sort of revenge is that?  The world seeks resolution of outstanding issues between Iran and the world and appoints a man who can help do it; so you decide that your own suffering trumps the interests of the world community?  Sorry, but that’s a no-win proposition.

The shame of it is that Obama has allowed himself to be spooked by all this.  He measured his own political interests: he has a delicate nuclear negotiation with Iran in process.  Anything can upset that apple cart.  Plus, he will need the support of Congress once the deal is made.  If he goes to the mat for an Iranian diplomat he may lose all the political capital he needs to accomplish tasks much more important to him.

So Hamid Aboutalebi is sacrificed on the altar of expediency.  That’s the shame of it and shame of Obama’s presidency.  It would be one thing if he made these choices and achieved great results.  But he rarely does.  He usually sheds nominees who become political dead-weight, but then gives away the store when it comes to achieving his larger goals, whether it be health care, financial reform, or national security.  What a waste of a bright, ambitious, innovative, progressive presidential candidacy.

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unit 8200 networking

Unit 8200 networking reunion including corporate sponsors

Israel’s notorious cyberwar Unit 8200, a SIGINT branch of the IDF comparable to our NSA, maintains networks of alumni in Israel and the Diaspora, including in New York.  Not only do the Unit veterans produce some of the most ambitious cyber-startups in Israel (some of which, like Payoneer, are exploited in Israel’s cyber-war activities), it also apparently serves as a recruitment venue for the Mossad and Shin Bet.

The New York branch holds regular networking sessions that boast corporate and government sponsors as featured in this screenshot (Qualcomm, Rafael, SanDisk, Verint and Intel).  You’ll note among the sponsors are the “Prime Minister’s office.”  This is a euphemism for the intelligence services (Shin Bet and Mossad), since these agencies, their budget and supervision fall under the PMO.  In other words, not only entrepreneurs, but spies see such meetings as excellent recruitment venues.

A confidential source has told me that Uri Leventer-Roberts, the Israel director of the UJA Federation of New York, who’s responsible for spending $30-million in Israel from New York donors, is a veteran of Unit 8200 (you won’t find that in his bio!).  Leventer-Roberts headed a Unit 8200 networking alumni group in New York for several years when he lived there.  He held annual networking sessions there and in Israel.  One event invitation read:

April 24 2013, Hangar 11, Port of Tel Aviv

The Unit 8200 Veterans Association invites you to the fifth annual event to meet old friends, to renew ties, and to seek business opportunities at this holiday veterans reunion.

uri leventer roberts unit 8200

Uri Leventer-Roberts, Unit 8200 cyber-war veteran and UJA Federation executive

He continues such efforts from his new perch where he holds the interests of Israel’s cyber-intelligence dear to his heart.  Only in Israel, would it be considered de rigeur, even an honor, to have a philanthropic initiative directed by a military veteran trained to wreak havoc on the cyber-infrastructures of foreign nations.

Before he entered communal service, but after he left military service, Leventer-Roberts was an editor at both Haaretz and Channel 10 news.  That too fits a profile of intelligence veterans who take care of the interests of their former bosses in their new media roles.  He also earned an MA in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School.  Do you include such service in your CV when you apply for grad school??

Leventer-Roberts writes here about his goals:

…In the long run…I hope to continue to be a cord that connects different groups whether within Israel or between Israel and abroad–serving and improving Israeli society.

unit 8200 logo

Unit 8200 alumni network logo: the letters Shin, Mem and number two in the design stand for Sherut Modiin 2, one of the earliest names of the unit going back to 1948

There are all sorts of ways to “serve,” aren’t there?  Both when you’re in the army and after you leave.  If he were still serving in the IDF I know what those goals would involve for Israel’s enemies, but do they mean anything different now?  It would nice to think it would.  But we know the powerful network of Israeli cyber-warriors that roam the world using the tools they learned in the army in order to create new civilian and military markets.  We know the Israeli cyber-technology used by U.S. telecoms which can serve as a backdoor for NSA intelligence operations.  We know how intrusive these are here in the U.S. where we ostensibly have constitutional protections.  In Israel, even Bibi Netanyahu has acknowledged that there are no such protections for citizens and no right to privacy, selling this as a plus for Israel’s cyber-security industry.  We know that IDF special forces officers lead U.S. firms like Payoneer, which provided critical financial/logistical help to the al-Mabouh Mossad assassins and perhaps even assisted two of them who returned from the hit via the U.S.

Leventer-Roberts was a senior intelligence officer and then a project manager for Unit 8200′s planning office.  He served in an IDF SIGNIT base called Ofrit, with which regular readers will be familiar.  Ofrit is a base located in occupied East Jerusalem, near the Hebrew University Mt. Scopus campus.  It monitors all communications traffic in the West Bank and points east.  In addition to Ofrit being a Unit 8200 facility, it serves as home to a secret NSA facility which I’ve written about here after Ronen Bergman initially exposed it (without naming it).  The NSA base serves as a repository for signals transmissions from U.S. satellites located in that sector.  As I said about this in my earlier post, the NSA post is housed in an Israeli base on occupied Palestinian land, a matter that violates declared U.S. policy which refuses to recognize Israeli sovereignty there.

Read this seemingly innocent little trifle Leventer-Roberts penned for 972 Magazine during the J14 social justice protests, Rothschild on the Hudson.  In it, he expresses a nostalgic yearning to return with his family from New York to an Israel long-gone-by, in which social status wasn’t measured by material possessions, when a sense of community and family mattered, when people were honest and could survive on an honest day’s work.  Lamenting the disappearance of this Israel is a bit disingenuous for someone like the former IDF intelligence officer, since Unit 8200, of which he is a proud veteran, plays a huge role in the Brave New World of the eternal surveillance state which Israel has become.  H/t to reader Oui for finding this chestnut.

Before publishing this, I tried unsuccessfully to contact Leventer-Roberts via his Facebook account.

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Fox News Censors ‘Honor Diaries’ Critics

After inviting me as a guest for Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show tonight, and my agreement on Monday morning to appear, Megyn Kelly lied on air on Monday night saying I’d refused to appear (transcript of her comments here). She lied again in claiming I tried to intimidate Fox into silence over the Honor Diaries film.

When I first learned of Kelly’s verbal assault on me last night, I wrote to the producer who’d invited me, Karrah Kaplan. The reply came today not from her, but from her boss, the executive producer of the show, Tom Lowell:

Dear Mr. Silverstein:

We are always interested in discussing the day’s top issues with intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful guests. Sadly, your ad hominem attacks on Ms. Kelly and the puerile postings on your website make it clear you are not a member of that group. The a priori attempts to quash the debate by impugning our motives and questioning our integrity didn’t help either.

Sincerely,

Tom Lowell
Executive Producer
The Kelly File

In fact, his staff knew what I’d written about the show the whole time they were cajoling me to appear, because I sent them the link to my post just after publishing it.  In fact, that’s how Lowell knew what I’d written.  If he allowed his staff to invite me without reading the post, he’s incompetent.  If he allowed his staff to invite me after reading the post, then he’s also incompetent and a jerk.  Which one is it?

What it really comes down to is that FoxNews wants to control which critics it brings on air.  When it finds that critics are too unmanageable, it drops them, after inviting them.  That’s pre-emptive censorship. And the mark of a cowering, demagogic journalism.

Kaplan, while wooing me to appear, had assured me my concerns that the show would be a smear were unfounded because of her own independent journalistic credentials as a producer for Soledad O’Brien on CNN.  All I can say is that if this isn’t an act and she does believe in her journalistic integrity, she’s working for the wrong show.

Earlier today, Kaplan assured me the show was still trying to get CAIR to participate for tonight’s segment:

My colleague has been working to get somebody from CAIR all day and has tried alternate groups. We do want the other side represented and have been pursuing somebody all day.

Which dumbfounded me considering the character assassination to which Kelly subjected the group last night.

I sometimes wonder whether anyone on that show knows what the other producers are doing. It seems a model of journalistic dysfunction. For all I know, Megyn Kelly may not even realize she was lying when she claimed I’d refused to go on air. If that’s the case, then Lowell ill-serves her.

At any rate, Fox News is a cesspool fully deserving of garbage like Honor Diaries and the Clarion Project.

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