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North Carolina Muslim Murders

North carolina muslim murders

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohmammad Abu Salha and her sister, Razan Mohammad

Yesterday, a white North Carolina man, Craig Hicks, murdered three young Muslims near the University of North Carolina campus, where the victims were students.  At first, since the women wore traditional attire and all were active in the local Muslim community, many feared this was a hate crime.

Deah Barakat had also posted comments on social media supporting Palestinian rights, but opposing religious hatred of all kinds, including against Jews.  He had traveled to Palestine to offer dental services to children with special needs.  You may donate to the website he established to provide dental services to Syrian refugees.

It may still turn out that Islamophobia played a role.  But the killer’s wife, who was in the process of divorcing him (his first wife divorced him as well), claims the murders were motivated by a dispute over parking spaces at the local condominium.  She further claimed the killings had no religious or racial element.  While this may be the proximate cause, no one in their right mind murders three people for a parking space.

hicks' gun

The murderer’s gun proudly displayed on his Facebook page

Her attorney also added:

…The shootings highlight the need for greater access to mental health care services. However, he did not address whether Craig Hicks has mental health issues.

If Hicks did have mental health issues it would confirm why it’s such a great idea for the NRA to prohibit states from severing the mentally ill from weapons.  In fact, Hicks proudly displayed his gun on his Facebook account.  Other stories say he menaced the victims before the killing with a rifle as well.

I reviewed his profile and didn’t see the usual racist hate messages one would expect from an Anders Breivik type.  Clearly, Hicks hated religion and believers.  This is one of his more colorful rants:

“When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me.  If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I. But given that it doesn’t, and given the enormous harm that your religion has done in this world, I’d say that I have not only a right, but a duty, to insult it, as does every rational, thinking person on this planet.”

Even this harangue doesn’t seem to devolve into the rhetoric from someone who turned into a serial killer.

But neighbors did say that Hicks was a bully and that they lived in fear of him.  They even held a community meeting to discuss how to deal with his angry behavior.  A number of people were afraid of what he might do to them and others.

My guess is that there was a stew of factors that escalated this man and drove him to mass murder.  But whatever they were, I maintain that the national news media have performed abysmally in covering this story.  As has the President of the United States.  He gave a major press conference today to promote his authorization bill regarding ISIS.  But not a word about this brutal murder.  In comparison, he publicly denounced the kidnapping of three West Bank Jewish youths within hours of the crime.  Apparently, some lives are politically more expedient than others.

The truth is that Obama’s refusal to use terms like “Muslim terrorism” has driven the Islamophobes in the GOP to distraction.  So the President decided that he couldn’t weigh in on the story until more was known about it.  It was a terrible waste of the bully pulpit.

Look at the pictures of these three handsome, smiling, youthful faces.  Think of their potential to bring good to the world.  Think of the wonderful model they were for their faith as well.  Murdered by a mentally imbalanced, religion-hater prodded to a boiling point by a parking space.  And given a gun thanks to the gun lobby.

I hope as well that these Muslim murders in North Carolina will shine a light on another act of Islamophobia in that state.  Duke University planned to permit the Muslim call to prayer to be played in the campus quad along with church bells.  Last month, when evangelist Franklin Graham got wind of this, he took to Facebook and threatened the University with a massive alumni campaign calling for a fundraising boycott.  The school quickly capitulated.  So Christian fundamentalism and Islamophobia won yet another battle in North Carolina.  I hope now the University will rethink it’s own cave-in to bigotry.

This tragedy brought back an old memory of another murder over a parking space.  This too was a gruesome killing in Dobbs Ferry, NY.  The killer’s father owned a deli and the victim parked his car in the deli lot and crossed the street to buy a pizza.  The deli owner was angry that people who didn’t patronize his store abused his parking lot.  When confronted, the victim pulled out a baseball bat and began swinging.  The deli owner’s son got a gun and the result was a brutal, stupid senseless murder.  I don’t bring this up because I’m arguing the North Carolina tragedy only involved a parking dispute.  I bring it up because I lived three blocks from the site of the murder at the time and drove past the scene of the crime every day on my way to work.  Naturally, when such a thing happens it shakes you and you remember it.


What Assad and Bibi Have in Common: Murdering Civilians

The BBC and Syrian national news aired an interview (transcript) Bashar al-Assad gave to Jeremy Bowen.  The BBC coverage I heard noted Assad’s claim that his regime doesn’t kill civilians, except in a few circumstances and by accident.  Of course the claim is false.  But he manages to transform it into ‘truth’ by a rhetorical sleight of hand.  Since his forces warn all civilians to flee areas under rebel control, and the regime expects any true civilian to flee an area under assault, all those who remain must be guerrillas or terrorists:

Bowen: Can we talk about the humanitarian situation a little bit? One of the effective military tactics your… the Syrian Army has used, is to isolate areas held by rebels, and effectively to starve them out. But that has had the effect also to starve the civilians, and that, again, is against the laws of war, starving civilians.

President Assad: That’s not correct for one reason, because in most of the areas where the rebels took over, the civilians fled and came to our areas, so in most of the areas that we encircle and attack are only militants.

His forces operate under the assumption that there are no civilians in areas they attack.  Anything that moves is the enemy regardless of who they are, how they are dressed, even whether they’re women or children.  All are terrorists.

I cannot wait for the day when Assad steps into the dock at the Hague and this lame-brained excuse is offered in his defense.  I look forward to seeing it ripped to shreds by the prosecutors.

Israel operates under the same set of assumptions in its repeated invasions of Gaza.  According to IDF apologists it sends text messages to civilians, uses PA systems to warn them to evacuate their homes, and “even” “taps” on the roof of targeted buildings.  All in the expectation that real civilians will leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere.

This allows the IDF in good conscience to tell its soldiers that anything that moves in the field is a militant who may be killed on sight.  Even old men and women waving white flags have been executed by IDF snipers.  No Israeli court has tried or imprisoned any soldier for such offenses.

The one difference between Assad and the IDF is that at the least the latter concedes that it kills civilians in large numbers (80% of fatalities were civilians).  However, it even blames this fact on Hamas, saying it deliberately fights in urban areas surrounded by civilians (hence the lie about “human shields”).  I look forward to this defense being tested and demolished at The Hague.

So to Israel’s generals and politicians I say: Kol haKavod.  You’ve joined the hallowed company of Bashar al-Assad as joint war criminals who justify the murder of civilians by saying simply: they aren’t there.

NOTE: 16o signatories so far to the petition demanding Congress cancel Bibi’s speech.  Today, Sen. Pat Leahy joined the swelling ranks of Congressmembers, American Jewish leaders, and Israeli analysts who’ve called on the prime minister to stay home.  Please sign and ask others to do so as well.

dermer bibi

Dermer’s Devil whispering in Bibi’s ear (Daniel Hertzberg)

A few weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer cooked up what they thought was a surefire way to stick a finger in the eye of their nemesis, Pres. Barack Obama, advance Israel’s anti-Iran interests, and ensure Bibi wins the next election. Boehner invited Bibi Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress two weeks before the Israeli elections.  The topic of his talk would be Iran: why the mullahs are untrustworthy; why sanctions should be tightened; and why a nuclear deal will be bad for the world, but good for Iran.

One thing I’ve discovered about politics is that if you act with extreme hubris by taking maximal advantage of your own strength and your adversary’s weakness, you inevitably overlook your own weakness and your adversary’s strength.  The electorate, at least in the U.S. is in no mood to stomach triumphalism by either Party.  So when Republicans shoot the moon, as they did during the Bush presidency, they overreach.  As long as everything went their way as it did after 9/11, they were golden.  But once events like Katrina and the degenerating Iraq War transpired against them, they had nothing to fall back on.  They’d chosen to be maximalists.  When it was time for humility or contrition, there was none they could muster.
cancelthespeech bibi boehner
That’s indeed what happened with Bibi’s speech.  There were so many advantages to the speech that none of the co-conspirators bothered to contemplate what could go wrong.  They believed their opponent would be shoehorned into accepting the inevitability of things.  But thanks to the overreaching of the GOP and Israel, it gave the Democrats much more latitude to defy the Speaker and Netanyahu himself.

Now, not only have the ten Democratic senators who were championing new sanctions against Iran backed down (temporarily), but the Vice-President and at least three Congressmembers (John Lewis, Earl Blumenauer and Jim McDermott) have announced a boycott of Bibi’s speech.  None other than the ADL’s Abe Foxman and Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Judaism have decried the timing of the speech and called for it to be cancelled.

Dan Margalit, Yisrael HaYom’s popular columnist, warned the prime minister that he was causing political damage to Israel.  Margalit is known as a journalist who has the ear of the politically powerful.  Besides which he writes for Bibiton, Sheldon Adelson’s paper, which is largely responsible for making and keeping Bibi prime minister.  Consider the multiple ironies involved in that!  Also, an Army Radio poll finds that 47% of Israelis want Bibi to cancel the speech.  Nearly 20% said the speech would make it less likely they would vote for him.

My sense is that this ultimately could go one of two ways: either Bibi plows ahead in his inimitable Israeli macho fashion and goes right to the bitter end, giving the speech; or discretion becomes the better part of valor and he retreats from his position.

Today’s news isn’t very hopeful.  Bibi doubled down, declaring that his mission as Prime Minister was, as JFK admonished, to “pay any price and bear any burden” on behalf of America.  In other words, Bibi will go anywhere to speak on behalf of the interests of the Jewish people (and himself).  He likened his Congressional speech to his travel to France on behalf of Jews beset by Islamist terror:

…Netanyahu said on Sunday that despite the growing criticism both in Israel and the United States, he plans to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress to lobby against a nuclear deal with Iran, just as he went to Paris last month after the attack on a kosher supermarket.

“I went to Paris not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people…

The truth is that neither the French nor the American leadership (Hollande and Obama) wanted Bibi there.  He is a combustible force who stirs up rancor wherever he goes.  There are times in politics when what’s needed is soothing, compromise and humility.  Bibi can never bring this to any situation.

As the U.S. nears a nuclear deal with Iran, we do not need the shrill, sour, hectoring notes of Netanyahu.  As far as I’m concerned though, Bibi’s speech is a good thing.  Whenever the far-right, whether here in the U.S. or in Israel, overplays its hand it exposes their own fanaticism.  Though voters may not understand this immediately, eventually the message creeps in.  Not that this means, there are pragmatic parties who might take their place.  There aren’t.  I don’t consider the Zionist Camp to be pragmatic.  They’re only slightly better Likud.  They will not bring major changes in policy.

But eventually, as Gideon Levy wrote this week in Middle East Eye, the international community will be persuaded as well.  It will act, whether after being forced to do so or voluntarily, to bring this ongoing tragic bloodbath to an end.  The worse Israel’s politics are, the nastier its leaders are, the closer we come to that day.  That’s why I root for Bibi to maintain that heart of stone which, like Pharaoh, will get him into the most possible political trouble.

Finally, please sign the petition I’ve created saying NO to Bibi’s speech.  Tell him he doesn’t speak in your name.  Not only #SkiptheSpeech as in Jewish Voice for Peace’s hashtag, but #CanceltheSpeech.

ben caspit

Ben Caspit, flying the Blue and White

In June 2013, Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, who writes for Maariv and Al Monitor’s Israel Pulse, interviewed IDF refuser and Yesh Gvul activist Ishay Menuchin about the case of Natan Blank.  Blank  had spent a total of 170 days during ten different imprisonments in military jail before the army finally released him.  Caspit, a right-wing reporter (who actually says in the interview that he’s a “leftist”), takes Menuchin to task for his refusal to serve.

There’s nothing unusual about any of this so far.  But where it really gets hinky is when Caspit tells Menuchin that his principles “drive him crazy,” and that he and Blank are “criminals” who he would “murder” if he had his way:

Ishay, hold on.  I’m not a rightist.  I’m opposed to the Occupation as well.  But why should I do three years [IDF service] and you not?  This drives me out of my mind!  If they’d let me, I’d beat the shit out of you [literally “strike murderous blows”].  This drives me crazy!   You’re sawing off the branch that all of us are sitting on!

A few notes about the errors and inconsistencies of Caspit’s claims.  First, neither Blank nor Menuchin got to sit out their military service in a villa.  They each went to prison.  Blank for six months.  Military prison is not a picnic.  Second, Menuchin in the interview points out that fully 50% of all eligible youth do not serve.  Many get exemptions.  If they are Haredi they get a yeshiva exemption.  There are also mental health exemptions which others pursue.  So singling out refusers as if they are the only ones shirking their duty is blatantly false.

It’s also laughable for Caspit to claim he is not a rightist.  Anyone reading his contributions to Israel Pulse could tell he’s a garden variety center-rightist.  So he doesn’t like Bibi.  Plenty of rightists don’t like Bibi.  That doesn’t make them moderates, let alone leftists.  There is also this crazy impulse among right-wingers like Caspit to make extravagant claims about the liberality of their views when debating leftists.  What sad about it is that in any other country Caspit would be a right-winger.  But due to the extreme right-wing dominance of Israeli politics, Caspit can make a reasonable claim to being a moderate, when he’s anything but.

It’s of course common for the average Israeli to express detestation for leftist refusers, to call them traitors, throw curses their way, etc.   But I’ve never heard anyone, even the scummiest right-wing thug in online forums like Rotter, call for their murder.

Caspit not only expressed violent tendencies toward Menuchin, when the latter told the journalist that the reason he and Blank refused military service was that the entire IDF is an army of Occupation whose purpose was to oppress the Palestinian people, Caspit summarily ended the interview without offering Menuchin an opportunity of reply.

The final paragraph of the article about the interview is instructive since it concedes that Israel is not a democracy and cannot afford to allow conscience-stricken refusers in its midst since they endanger the State:

The Israeli Defense Forces are the army of all of us despite the fact that many of us forget this.  Pacifist views like these are more appropriate in democratic countries.  But when an Israeli citizen chooses the “easy way,” fleeing from his obligations and insulting the values on which the State is founded, even if they’re sometimes difficult for one or the other of us to stomach, he defies and angers both right and left.  Because the IDF, so the Menuchin interview proved, is the army of us all.

This incident now takes on added significance because over forty reservists in from the IDF’s elite cyber-warfare Unit 8200 also wrote a joint letter saying their jobs involved violating moral principles and their consciences.  They refused any service that involved supporting the Occupation.  As a result, the chief of staff dismissed them all from future service.

It’s one thing to want to kill a refuser like Blank or Menuchin, but I wonder if Caspit would also want to kill those serving in one of the IDF’s most elite units?

I asked Caspit for any statement he wished to offer in this post.  Eventually, he wrote me this:

1) The said Radio talk show is a Howard Stern-like show infused with satire and irreverence.
My co-host and I yell, interrupt, mock and deride each other as part of the show and listeners know and expect this when they tune in.

2) Therefore, any attempt to ascribe to me thuggish and violent (verbal or otherwise) tendencies or recommendations misses the point. I’m sure you are familiar with that type of radio or TV discourse. It is a show. Furthermore, not only have I never preached or advocates or condoned such behavior, in fact I am a victim of one, directed at me by no other PM Netanyahu’s office and Mr. Netanyahu himself for dedication to the peace process and my frequent revelations of inappropriate excesses in his office, home and public demeanor.

3) As for the specific issue itself: Israeli society is built on a contract between its diverse components. Men, at 18 are under universal obligation to serve 3 years in the IDF. If, for reasons of pacifism, religion, unsuitability or any other an individual is unwilling or incapable of serving, there are alternative ways of sharing the burden. Failure to do so or evading it altogether is an act of selfishness and unfairness.

His reply is utter nonsense.  First, I listened to his interview with Menuchin and heard the tone he used during it both with Menuchin and his female “sidekick.”  Either Caspit hasn’t ever listened to Howard Stern or else he’s lying about his own show.  He never yelled during the entire interview, even when he said he wanted to beat the shit out of Menuchin.  In fact, several times in this article it uses the term “balanced” or “restrained” to describe Caspit’s normal demeanor on air.

As for mocking and deriding, he did none of that toward his sidekick as he claimed.  That was directed solely at Menuchin, who I’ve since learned was deeply troubled by the attacks on him.  Apparently, Caspit’s argument is that because he tells every guest and his sidekick that he wants to beat the shit out of them, it’s OK to say the same to Menuchin.  All of which is utter nonsense of course.

In his second paragraph, the argument continues that his threat of physical violence was theatrical, rather than real.  Further, he lies saying he’s never “preached or advocated or condoned” physical violence, when in fact he used precisely such a phrase against Menuchin.  Does he think his readers don’t take to heart his words?  Or that they treat him like a clown and laugh at him?

In his last paragraph, Caspit falsifies the reality of Israeli military service.  The so-called “universal obligation” is anything but.  Even Menuchin pointed out during the interview that only half of those eligible actually serve.  There are also far more reasons for “unsuitability” than he lists, one of the chief among them being non-Jewish.  Non-Jews (cf. Palestinians) are neither asked, nor expected to serve as their loyalty is held suspect.  As for their being alternatives to military service, perhaps this is true in theory.  But almost no Israeli refusers have ever been offered the alternative of alternative service.  Finally, the act of refusing to serve an evil system of Occupation; upholding the principle that Israeli Jews should not kill Palestinians in the service of an injustice and military oppression–there are neither selfish nor unfair principles.  They are indeed sacred principle worthy going to prison for.  Anyone who goes to prison for these principles is, the opposite of selfish.

Contrast Caspit’s response to that of Albert Einstein, who wrote this to a Swiss war resister in 1931:

“Let me express my respect for your courage and integrity. One man who is brave enough to refuse military service serves mankind better than thousands who do what they conceive to be their normal duty. A man like yourself acts as a grain of sand in a machine. It is my hope that by means of such grains of sand the war machine will be destroyed or, at least, a degrading system of conscription will be abolished.”

After reading this, imagine for a second Ben Caspit beating the crap out of Albert Einstein.  There you have my view of such Israeli chauvinism.

Finally, as those of you who read me regularly know, I’ve railed against the Israel Pulse section of Al Monitor for a long time.  The notion that they would publish an Israeli journalist who says he would brutally assault military refusers if could do so, is an outrage.  Iftach Shavit, an Israeli activist, wrote to Al Monitor at the time this interview was aired and complained about Caspit’s comments.  No one responded.

H/t Iftach Shavit.

Darshan Leitner

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in go-go boots outside Israeli courthouse

The pro-Israel lawfare NGO, Shurat HaDin (SH), founded with critical material support provided by the Mossad, is being hoisted by its own petard.  We’ll get to that part a bit later.  But first…

A Maariv profile of SH notes its annual budget is $2.5-million and that it is financed solely from foreign NGOs and donors who, according to a Maariv profile, are largely right-wing.  They include the Central Fund for Israel ($1.5-million) and settler-funder, Irving Moskovitz.  The Central Fund is a leading Judean-extremist charity which funds settlements and other Islamophobic NGOs in Israel. The NY Times recently featured Darshan-Leitner in a not entirely flattering profile.  Given Jodi Rudoren’s liberal Zionist proclivities, that’s really saying something.

SH’s modus operandi is to research funding for terror attacks against Israeli and American Jews and prosecute the financial institutions which allegedly funneled money to the terrorists.  As a corollary, it also prosecute Arab governments which purportedly support the terror groups.  In her own words, the NGO’s mission is “to protect IDF soldiers and fight terror.”  I’m not sure what protecting Israeli soldiers has to do with her agenda since all her clients are Israeli civilians.  But it does exemplify what a creature of the Israeli security state she is.

Asa Winstanley has noted that SH lies on its website when it claims to be “a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.” It is, as Darshan-Leitner herself explained in the memo linked above, a creature of the Israeli government, specifically its intelligence apparatus.

They’ve won judgments of hundreds of millions against these banks and countries over the years.  Often, as in the case against Iran, the countries don’t fight the case as they refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of the court.  Darshan-Leitner has claimed to have collected hundreds of millions from defendants with little proof offered.

This matters little to SH’s founder, Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, an Israeli-Iranian attorney and graduate of the religious-nationalist Bar Ilan University.  She doesn’t function as an attorney in her capacity with SH.  She’s an indefatigable battler for her ideological agenda.  She’s as much marketer as ideologue.  She also travels around the world persuading terror victims and their families to agree to become complainants in her cases.  She’s an anti-terror ambulance chaser.

Her agenda is as much symbolic as it is practical.  This Wikileaks memo drafted by the U.S. embassy after a meeting with her, reveals the NGO’s real agenda:

…The center’s stated goal is to bankrupt Palestinian terrorist organizations as well as the PA, which it views as an accomplice in attacks against Israeli citizens.   ILC [Israel Law Center or Shurat HaDin in Hebrew] claims to work closely with Israeli intelligence in selecting cases and collecting evidence.

ILC is operated as a clearinghouse for lawsuits in Israel, the United States, and Europe against terrorists and terror organizations. ILC focuses on bringing civil suits, and has taken the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Alabama as a model. The SPLC aimed to bankrupt the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups through aggressive lawsuits. Similarly, Leitner and her colleagues seek both to promote the rights of their clients and to weaken Palestinian terror groups and the PA, which they view as complicit in terrorist activities.

Taking Cues From GOI Intelligence

Leitner said that in many of her cases she receives evidence from GOI officials, and added that in its early years ILC took direction from the GOI on which cases to pursue. “The National Security Council (NSC) legal office saw the use of civil courts as a way to do things that they are not authorized to do,” claimed Leitner. Among her contacts, Leitner listed Udi Levy at the NSC and Uzi Beshaya at the Mossad, both key Embassy contacts on anti-terrorist finance cooperation.

…ILC lawyers are extremely aggressive, and boast that they “will sue anybody.” While the ILC’s mission dovetails with GOI objectives of putting financial pressure on Israel’s adversaries, the often uncompromising approach of ILC’s attorneys seems to overreach official GOI policy goals. ILC’s relentless litigation has proven to be an obstacle to the GOI’s releasing of all customs revenues previously withheld from the PA. A complete settling of these accounts may not be possible without dealing with the lawsuits in Israeli and U.S. courts.

I couldn’t think of a better definition of lawfare than this.  In fact, this Maariv profile of Darshan-Leitner describes SH’s mission in Hebrew as lochama mishpatit (legal warfare).  Under this rubric, either SH succeeds in bringing the PA to ruin or, if it doesn’t, she keeps the spotlight on the Arab world as the font of terror and anti-Israel hatred in the world.  It’s a win-win.

To show her further sway, she bragged to a U.S. diplomat that a UK bank she sued will no longer do business with any Arab charities without getting approval from the Mossad that they are “kosher” (her words).

The sentence that should stand out for you above is the one saying that Shurat HaDin is a proxy for Israeli intelligence services.  Darshan-Leitner told that same U.S. diplomat in 2007, according to Wikileaks documents, that the Mossad played an instrumental role in creating her group.  This has been known for a few years.

But a new development reported by Maariv, is that Shurat HaDin has created a cottage-industry of lawyers, terror “experts,” and researchers who ride this anti-terror lawfare gravy train, which the article calls “the anti-terror industry.”  One of those in particular, her husband, is a former disciple of Meir Kahane:

[This] agenda provides financial support not just for Darshan Leitner and her American-born husband, lawyer Aviel Leitner, who was an activist in the Kahanist movement thirty years ago; but also tens of lawyers in Israel and the rest of the world, the U.S. in particular, among them many who are veterans of the Israeli security apparatus, including the Mossad, IDF and Shin Bet.

Several anti-Zionist websites have claimed that Leitner and his wife at one time represented Yigal Amir, Rabin’s assassin.  I could not confirm this with other sources, but if true, it would be instructive as to where their hearts lie ideologically.

The Wikileaks memo reveals that none other than Stuart Eisenstadt, a former Carter administration official, is a lobbyist for their interests.  Former IDF AMAN intelligence chief, Uri Saguy, also flies around the world earning substantial fees for his expert testimony on SH’s behalf in courts around the world.  Perry Fogel, a former Shin Bet unit chief, also writes expert opinions on behalf of SH cases for a handsome fee.  Former journalist and Shin Bet officer Ronnie Shaked, also serves the NGO in this fashion.  Maariv says the testimony is remunerated according to American legal standards, tens of thousands of dollars per case.  Often the experts are flown to foreign countries to testify and housed in elegant accommodations, all on SH’s dime.

Court documents in cases filed by SH in the U.S. reveal it hires some of the most expensive, prestigious law firms in the nation including senior partners in David Boies’ firm, Boies Schiller & Drexner; and the prestigious Washington firm, Patton Boggs.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Israeli intelligence pursues its own agenda using the smokescreen of so-called civil rights or anti-terror NGOs.  Intelligence agencies have been co-opting civil society organizations for decades (remember when the CIA funded U.S. student groups  in the 1950s, including the Paris Review?).  The difference between what Israel is doing and what other western intelligence agencies do is that the westerners feel some level of constraint.  They understand that there is a price to be paid if they or the co-opted NGO is exposed.  This limits their activities to an extent.  But not Israel.  It’s damn the torpedoes and full-speed ahead.

uzi shaya

Uzi Shaya, former Mossad operative and expert witness for Shurat HaDin (Roni Schutzer)

But there is one case that hasn’t gone as Darshan-Leitner expected.  In fact, instead of collaborating with her Israeli intelligence colleagues, she’s now fighting them tooth and nail.  The case involves the murder of Daniel Wultz, an American Jew killed in a 2006 terror attack in Tel Aviv.  SH is representing the family in a suit that targets the Bank of China and accuses it of transferring funds to the terror organizations that allegedly carried out the attack that killed the Florida teenager.

As I wrote above, part of the “package” which SH serves up to the court involves testimony by former or current Israeli intelligence agents.  In this case, that would be Uzi Shaya.  He tracked the purported financing for the attack and warned Bank of China officials that they were financing Mideast terrorism.  The State offered Shaya as an expert witness to corroborate the charges brought.

Ironically, one of the conditions he demanded in order to testify was that there be no image of him recorded at the hearing.  You can see here that I’ve offered a publicly accessible image of him.  I’m not sure what he was afraid of.

But a fly got into the ointment.  Two flies, actually.  The first was a major State visit Bibi Netanyahu planned to China.  No Israeli prime minister had ever visited the country.  The amount of global cache this visit offered both to Bibi and Israel itself was enormous.  Even more important was the prospect of China’s enormous appetite for precisely the sort of products Israel exports, including the most sophisticated military hardware and cyber-tools.  As China dangled the enormous carrot in front of Bibi, it drew it back precisely as the Israeli leader reached for it.  There was just one small catch: the Bank of China trial.  China’s leaders, no doubt at the behest of the country’s leading bank, told him to stop cooperating with the case or the trip was off.

This might’ve been enough to torpedo the case on its own, but China had another card up its sleeve, and this one was the trump card: Sheldon Adelson’s Macau casino interests are largely financed by a credit line extended by the Bank of China.  Ben Caspit wrote in the Jerusalem Post:

Bank of China is…the main bank working with Jewish-American tycoon Sheldon Adelson’s gambling business in Macau. In 2011, the bank managed the flotation of a large bond package in which $3.7 billion was raised for Sands China, a company owned by Adelson.

Public documents show that the Bank of China is listed as a “permanent adviser” to Sands China and that it is the “administrative agent” of two companies owned by Adelson that lent money to the firm.

After threats from Adelson’s lawyers, the Post dutifully removed the article from its website (the Hebrew version is republished here).  This is SOP for the Israeli (and American Jewish) oligarchal elite.  Given that an article in Haaretz that detailed Netanyahu’s lobbying on Adelson’s behalf with the Japanese government was “disappeared” from that company’s website, such phenomena will not seem unusual.

Bibi’s buddies, when queried by Caspit, claim he didn’t know anything about the connection between Bank of China and Adelson.  But to quote Mandy Rice-Davies: “he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

What’s extraordinary about this new development in the case is that Netanyahu, when offered an opportunity to realize his own ideological agenda in fighting anti-Israel terror, declines to take it.  Instead, he opts to pay obeisance to the financial Godfather, without whom he could never have achieved political power.  Fealty to Sheldon Adelson trumps loyalty to his own principles.

Anyone who has followed Bibi’s career knows that his ideology is only skin-deep.  He’s much more attuned to the dynamics of power: how to get it and how to keep it.  He’s willing to sacrifice principle in service to maintaining his political career.  This is precisely what he did when, under pressure from the Bush administration, he made a speech endorsing a two-state solution.  This enabled Bush and liberal Zionists everywhere to say: “you see, Bibi can be a man of peace.  Even he changed his ideological stripes and endorsed pragmatism.”  Nothing actually was farther from the truth.  Bibi has never mentioned the two state solution since, and it’s a dead letter.

Given that the American political system is now for sale to the highest bidder and Adelson has proven capable of being a major buyer, Americans might reflect on how Adelson’s impact could play out here.  If he was able to buy Bibi and get him to do his bidding around the world, imagine what the gambling boss would do to a U.S. president whom his money got elected.  It is one thing when the prime minister of a small country is a kept man.  But quite another when it’s the president of the United States.  Is that what we want?

adelson netanyahu japanese casino

Was this article removed from Haaretz’s site due to legal threats?

Yesterday, Uri Misgav published a bombshell in Haaretz saying that during Bibi Netanyahu’s state visit to Japan last spring, he approached a senior Japanese official, asking that he help expedite Sheldon Adelson’s application for a Japanese casino license.  According to the report, the Japanese official was shocked and dismissed the request out of hand.  Bibi’s approach was perfectly timed, following by only three months the Sands’ application to open Japan to legalized gambling (which is currently illegal).

What’s astonishing about this is not just the actual report, which is shocking enough, but what happened to it once it was published.  It first appeared in the Hebrew edition last night and a few hours later it was published in the English edition.  But shortly afterward, both disappeared from the Haaretz site.  But not before I captured screenshots of both (the English is displayed here and the Hebrew is cached here) and not before other foreign publications published their own knock-offs of the story.

So now the horse is out of the barn and the lawyers who threatened Haaretz have done nothing more than magnified interest in the story.  We might hazard a guess as to whose lawyers visited Amos Schocken today and what they said.  My suspicion is that it was Adelson’s.  He’s already  sent lawyers to Channel 10, after it aired an unflattering documentary about Adelson’s litigious past.  In response, the Channel broadcast an unseemly on air apology which led to the resignation of the news director.

So we know that Adelson believes in flexing his muscle, especially when the target is a “leftist” Israeli newspaper gunning for his Golden Boy Bibi.

UPDATE: Walla! says that the Prime Minister’s Office complained to Haaretz and the paper decided to remove the story till it received a formal legal opinion from counsel.  In my experience (and I’ve had some believe me), when an editor tells you a lawyer’s needed to vet a story it’s a sure-fire way to know your piece will never see the light of day.

Eldad Yaniv, an Israeli anti-corruption activist, wrote on his Facebook page that he requested that the state attorney general open an investigation to determine if Bibi broke any laws in approaching the Japanese on Adelson’s behalf.  Yaniv claims that Bibi, frightened of a potential police investigation, did all in his power to silence the story, including threatening a lawsuit.  I have independently confirmed that Bibi’s lawyers were involved.

An interesting legal question is: is it permissible for a prime minister to lobby a foreign government on behalf of someone who is not an Israeli citizen and whose main business interests are not in Israel?  Adelson is a U.S. citizen and does not have Israeli citizenship.

Another interesting aspect of Misgav’s report is that he asked the entirely apt question: for whom does Bibi work?  The Israeli people?  Or Sheldon Adelson?  Of course, to Adelson, they are one and the same.  But is it in the interest of the Israeli people for the Sands to gain control of the Japanese gambling market?

I think back to the days after military service when Bibi went into the home furnishings business (when he wasn’t off on assignment for the Mossad, that is).  Is he now anything more than a glorified mattress salesman?

Who might the source for this anonymous story might be?  The choices are varied: Japan (unlikely), a disgruntled former aide, or the NSA.  As far-fetched as the latter may seem, that agency spies regularly on the communications of U.S. allies (Brazil, Germany, among others).  It’s conceivable it eavesdropped on Japanese diplomats as well.  If so, Obama certainly has plenty of motivation to torpedo Adelson’s casino bid while wounding a second Bibi-bird with the same stone.

police tractor causes fatal accident

Police tractor which caused massive fatal accident (Eli Hershkovitz)

Today, there was a massive, tragic accident in the Israeli Negev.  Eight Bedouin women were killed in a bus crash with oversized agricultural vehicles.  They had been returning from a pilgrimage to the Al Aqsa mosque.  Unfortunately, Israeli mainstream media has concealed the most important, and shocking aspects of this tragedy.

There is an Israeli police unit (Yoav) whose mission is to expel Negev Bedouin from their native villages.  The ultimate goal is, as in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to Judaize the thinly settled Negev with new Jewish communities modeled after settlements.  Part of their responsibility is to raze villages whose residents return after they’ve been expelled.  Another aspect is to destroy the ability for the Bedouin to earn a livelihood from their traditional grazing of livestock on open land.  The police do this by plowing under such fields which Bedouin have planted with grain, with huge excavators.

israeli tractors caused fatal crash

Israeli police tractors after vandalizing Bedouin fields and bus crash killing 8 Bedouin women  (Azez Alaraqib Alaraqib)

Activist Michael Kaminer wrote on his Facebook page:

Tractors of Death

What they never told you on today’s newscast.  The Original Sin.  Israeli police brought a dangerous tractor trailer carrying tractors onto a road on which it was forbidden them to travel.  Their intent was to plow up the harvest and fields of the Bedouin in order to damage their livelihood.  They were attempting to advance the racist Prawer Plan and prevent the Bedouin from working their fields.

Two police vehicles accompanied the trailers, one before and another behind.  The racist Yoav police unit whose purpose is to take all measures necessary to restrict the Bedouin, is guilty for this murder and many other additional crimes over the years against them.

This picture shows the tractors after the fatal accident, and after they’d plowed up the grain field today…You can see on the arms of the tractors fragments of the window shades of the bus which they struck killing the victims.

Two such excavators were traveling on a road for which they had no permit (because they were oversized).  In doing so, they struck the bus and sliced it completely down one side, killed eight riders and injuring 20 more.  This is a micro-tragedy due to the deaths of these women, but a macro-tragedy in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Bedouin from their ancestral lands.

The Hadash Party posted today on its Facebook page that they’ve long complained to transportation officials about the extreme danger of this road, on which there have been 37 deaths and 1,400 injuries in the past few years.  The government has dragged its feet and this tragedy is the result.  Why would authorities want to spend money on a highway largely serving “Arabs” and the “periphery” (the Israeli term for “the sticks”)?

Here are some ‘redolent’ comments from Israelis on the same page:

[Dead] Arabs. It’s all good.
Thank God no Jews were hurt.
May there be many more such accidents in Israel!
Not to worry, they’re Arabs.
I don’t understand. They’re Arabs? What’s the big deal? On to the next story…
So the Muslim women who curse Jews on the Temple Mount got what they deserved. Allah is indeed Great!
It’s all right. They’re Bedouin. Too bad they didn’t get the entire bus.

Now I’d like to offer some commentary directed at the negligent fools of this police unit who murdered these poor women.  Though their unit is called “Yoav,” (יואב) it should really be called “Ahab” (אחאב).  It was King Ahab who was so enamored of the vineyard of his neighbor that he had him killed in order to inherit his land.  In 1 Kings, Elijah denounces Ahab: “Have you first murdered [Naboth] and stolen his land as well?”  The historical record is an apt reflection on today’s horrid news: the police first steal the Bedouins lands and now they’ve even stolen their lives in an act of flagrant negligence.

Those of you following the plight of the Bedouin may’ve thought that the Israeli government had scraped the controversial Prawer Plan to relocate 40,000 indigenous residents from their villages to slum towns like Rahat, which are meant to concentrate the Bedouin in a more western, urban environment, i.e. to civilize them.  In reality, Rahat has few jobs, few services, little infrastructure and inhabitants have turned to crime, drugs and other avenues to eke out a living.  Though temporarily scrapped, as the settlements have shown, lack of an official plan or authorization has never stopped a determined Israeli ethnic cleanser from pursuing plans to rid the Negev of non-Jews.

This accident and Israel’s treatment of the Bedouin is a schandeh: a deep and shameful national disgrace.