JEWISH AND ISRAEL/PALESTINE ISSUES

PART 10

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Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 8

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 12

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16



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MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

AND

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10 MAY 2008

This article produced some censorship of an unusual type - a reverse censorship, really, because the article by Ed O'Loughlin was his last as middle east correspondent for the Fairfax media.amd should have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The SMH chose not to publish it because the zionist lobby would have been "too upset" at its one-sidedness!

While Michael Gawenda was the editor of The Age, articles on Israel/Palestine in the Sydney Morning Herald were usually abbreviated by Gawenda for his zionist readers in Victoria. Now, despite Andrew Jaspan's editorship of The Age, the O'Loughlin article was NOT published by the pathetic editor of the SMH but made it into The Age. Here is the article:

Wars between worlds

Ed O'Loughlin, Gaza and Sderot


May 10, 2008

As Ed O'Loughlin's five years as Middle East correspondent come to an end, he reflects on his time covering one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

THE car was still burning when we came upon the scene. A bullet-proof plate from a flak jacket lay near the wreckage, its plastic layers peeled open like the pages of a book. My "fixer" recognised the silver Pajero at once, and he hurried over to a colleague to find out what had happened. When he came back he looked almost puzzled. "It's Fadel," he said. "He's dead!" And he started to weep for his friend.

In fact four were already dead, men and boys, and two more were to die of their wounds a few days later. But 23-year-old Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was the one who made headlines.

Hundreds of innocent people die in Gaza every year — far more than we bother writing about in the West. But footage from Shana's camera revealed that he had actually filmed an Israeli tank firing the shell that killed him, as he stood in his clearly marked press flak jacket, by his clearly marked press vehicle.

A second tank shell, fired several minutes after the first, sprayed would-be rescuers with a second cloud of three-centimetre "flechette" steel darts, killing 19-year-old Khalil Dogmoush and injuring several others, including freelance photographer Ashraf Abu Amra.

We didn't know all of this at the time, as we stood by the wreckage of Shana's vehicle. All we knew was that a press vehicle had been targeted minutes earlier, that we were standing beside that vehicle, fully exposed to a hillside where Israeli tanks were operating, and that an Israeli drone was whining overhead.

And we knew from long experience that, whatever had happened, the Israeli Defence Force would deny responsibility. This it duly did, claiming that its troops had fired only at armed militants who had attacked them at close range.

I have covered quite a few stories like this over the past 5½ years, in Gaza and elsewhere. Since the present uprising began in 2000, close to 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli action, according to figures from the Israeli rights group B'tselem. Slightly more than 1000 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. In the first three months of this year, 11 Palestinians died for every Israeli civilian.

Eman al-Hams was a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was machine-gunned to death at point blank range by an Israeli officer, who admitted the act on army radio. The officer was subsequently acquitted, promoted and decorated. Asma al-Mughair, 16, and her brother Ahmed, 13, were both shot in the head on the roof of their home in Rafah, which was in the sights of an Israeli sniper's nest, only 100 metres away. Seven members of the Ghaliya family were blown to bits while picnicking on a Gaza beach which Israeli artillery was shelling. But if you Google any of the above names you will quickly learn — from armchair bloggers and Israeli Government spokespeople — that all of these stories are false, elaborate hoaxes concocted by anti-Semitic journalists to smear the state of Israel. Little wonder, then, that Israeli talkback was generally of the opinion that Fadel Shana got what he deserved.

And you can't help asking yourself, as you stand exposed on a roadway stained with blood and gristle and carbonised rubber, with a killer robot circling overhead, what would they say if it was you who'd been hit? For the average Middle East correspondent this is not a difficult question to answer. As a character remarked in the BBC political satire The Thick of It, looking up your own name on the internet is like opening the door to "a room full of people who are trying to throw shit at you". Fortunately, the job gives one a thick skin. But the Israeli Defence Force's culture of denial and impunity, repeatedly condemned by Israeli and foreign rights groups, does nothing for your confidence when you have reason to fear that someone you can't see is studying you on a computer screen, or through a gun sight.

The story that had brought Fadel Shana to central Gaza that day, April 16, was the killing of three militants and six civilians in Israeli air strikes against the border hamlet of Johara A'diq, close to where three Israeli soldiers had died in a militant ambush earlier that morning. Twelve people dead — six civilians and six combatants including, unusually, Israeli soldiers. A story worth taking a look at, even in Gaza. But locals warned us that the road to Johara a'diq was exposed to fire from Israeli forces. So we got out of our taxi and walked for a few hundred metres more, bickering over our single helmet and press flak jacket: my fixer refused to wear either of them. "What difference would it make?" he asked bitterly. "You saw what happened to Fadel."

Several hundred metres short of the village, a group of agitated onlookers told us that the road beyond that point was swept by tank and sniper fire. So we stood around for a while, watching the smoke and hearing the odd thud, and then we turned and trudged back again. This part of the story was not worth taking any more risks for. And the truth was, I hadn't even come to Gaza that day to write about the conflict. I had come to prepare an article looking back on my own five years plus in Jerusalem — this article — to be published the day after I left. It was supposed to be a personal piece, elegiac rather than angry, a touch of melancholy instead of the usual journalistic attrition.

So instead of writing more about the thousands of people who'd been killed since I first went to the Gaza Strip, the blockaded economy, the human misery, I had decided to write about an aspect of its social and political deterioration that had touched me personally: the fact that you can no longer get a drink there. I had gone to Gaza that day to look up an old acquaintance, Hafez Daoud, the last barman in Gaza.

Hafez Daoud is a 49-year-old member of Gaza's ancient Orthodox Christian congregation, a carpenter who spent most of his life happily working on building sites in Israel. But when the second intifada broke out almost eight years ago Israel revoked his work permit and he found himself, along with 1.5 million other Palestinians, locked away from the world in a fenced-off ghetto.

Luckily for Daoud, he was offered a job as barman in a United Nations-run social club beside Gaza's fishing harbour. After years of creeping Islamisation, it was the last place in Gaza where alcohol was openly served — albeit only to foreigners.

"I liked working there," he remembers fondly. "It was like a different atmosphere to anything else in Gaza. There was always music, people having a good time."

Then in the early hours of New Year's Day 2006 unknown gunmen broke into the closed building and blew it up. The Beach Club never reopened and Daoud lost his job.

Apart from all its other problems, Gaza City is a town with no cheer. Following Hamas' military takeover last year Israel tightened its already severe blockade on ordinary goods entering or leaving the strip. While restricted goods — pretty much everything apart from basic food and medicine — are still available at a hefty mark-up, smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, Hamas' watchful agents tolerate no alcohol.

For Gaza's dwindling population of 2000-odd Christians the highlights of the year are the brief periods, at Christmas and Easter, when Israel permits some of them to leave the strip for a few days, to visit holy sites and relatives in the West Bank and Israel. "The last time I got out was last Christmas," said Daoud. "We went to Tiberias and Nazareth and Jerusalem and we went for a few drinks there — great. After this place it was like going to paradise." Before I was sent to the Middle East in October 2002, I had spent the best part of eight years reporting on Africa, for this newspaper and for others. When people asked me which beat I preferred, I always said Africa, because it was bigger, and more romantic, and because you got to fly around in helicopters and light aircraft for free quite a lot, which I enjoyed.

In my entire time in the Middle East I never once got to go in a helicopter or private aircraft — mainly because it's a region where you pay for your flights, and where in any case it's usually safe to go by road. I was already preparing to leave Jerusalem when a colleague told me that The Israel Project, a leading pro-Israel advocacy group, offered regular free helicopter tours for foreign journalists. Bingo, I thought.

Our helicopter took off from Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, and flew south along the "Green Line" between Israel and the West Bank, to demonstrate the strategic vulnerability of "Israel's narrow waist" to Arab attack. Then it turned south towards the town of Sderot.

Our guide, Avi Melamed, was a former intelligence agent. On the ground in Sderot, he escorted us through sunny streets studded with reinforced bus stops and bomb shelters, some gaily painted by children. Behind Sderot's main police station Melamed demonstrated racks full of crumpled "Qassam" rockets, some of the 7000-odd home-made missiles fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the past seven years, killing 12 civilians and terrorising thousands.

"The lunatic result is that everyday life, everyday decisions — should I take the kids to school? Should I go to the mall or the coffee shop? — become emotionally very difficult," he explained. As he was talking loudspeakers placed all around the town began to crackle the warning "code red, code red". Radar had just detected the launch of four rockets in Sderot's direction. Fortunately the only casualty, on this occasion, was a dog who required veterinary attention.

As it happened, this particular salvo of rockets came a couple of hours after the deaths of housewife Miyasar Abu Muatak and her four children, aged 18 months to six years, during Israeli air-strikes in the town of Beit Hanoun, just across the border in Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force denied responsibility for their deaths. And Melamed did not believe that there was a causal relationship between Israeli policies and IDF operations and the bombardment of Sderot. "We had Qassam rockets coming yesterday, and the day before that, and nobody was killed in the Gaza Strip," he said. The pilot, a veteran IDF aviator, could have been speaking for many ordinary Israelis when he complained that "we have to start fighting back: the problem is that our response wasn't fiercer and more disproportionate seven years ago". But were not the people of Gaza already paying a terrible price for the militants' rockets, I asked him. Instead of escalating the violence, why not explore the Palestinians' latest offer of a ceasefire?

He smiled indulgently: most of the stories of suffering and death from Gaza were fake, he said. "All the reporters there are Palestinians. You give them cameras but what they do is not reporting, it's propaganda. If you wanted to go to the other side and be a free reporter in the Gaza Strip you'd be kidnapped. You can only say what Hamas will tell you to say." I TOLD him that I'd been going to Gaza for more than five years and that no one there had ever tried to tell me what to write. The pilot just smiled and shook his head. He knew better. It is customary, in articles such as this, for the writer to tie things up at the end with some heavy-handed symbolism. Which brings us to the Erez border crossing. Symbols don't come much heavier than that.

Israel's massive new border terminal at Erez is the sole legal crossing point for human beings trying to enter or leave the Gaza Strip. Only a trickle of foreign journalists, aid workers and seriously ill Palestinians are now allowed to negotiate its sci-fi nightmare of concrete passages, steel cages, sliding blast doors, turnstiles, metal detectors, inaudible loudspeakers, sniffer machines and — for the unlucky — a bare concrete strip-search room with a metal-grille floor yawning over a three-metre drop to the basement below.

Five years ago Erez consisted of little more than a couple of well-fortified checkpoints, with a small entry-exit office for aid workers, diplomats and hacks and a parallel complex of cages and turnstiles for the thousands of Gaza workers who were then permitted to enter Israel each day.

But following repeated Palestinian terrorist attacks, the new terminal was designed to eliminate even the tiniest risk of injury to Israeli personnel. Passing through, you no longer see IDF soldiers, just the border police at the final hurdle, passport control, and the private security guards provided by a firm with close links to former prime minister Ariel Sharon. In the West Bank, meanwhile, the roadblocks, checkpoints and anti-terrorism barriers have steadily increased down the years.

These include a new generation of "mini-Erezes" that control access to the mini-Gazas that the Israeli army is quietly fashioning around the major towns and cities. Sometimes a wall is a symbol, and sometimes it's also a wall.

At a time when the zionists were busy screaming about Ed O'Loughlin's article, they were also screaming about an exhibition which was to be mounted by Leichhardt's Public Library on Palestine and 60 years of Israeli occupation, dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians.

So, what happened? Leichhardt library was invaded by NSW police and intimidated to the extent that the Council decided to withdraw the exhibition before it even opened! Talk about censorship!

26 MAY 2008

The Sydney Star Observer published a letter about Israel and Palestine which created an outcry in that paper, and the usual zionist suspects wrote nasty letters in response.

Here are the letters:

Letter No.1:

Letter No.2:

Letter No.3:

by Vic Alhadeff from NSW Jewish Board of Deputies | 14/05/2008 1:20:14 PM

PEACE FIRST

The claim by Allan of Bondi Junction (SSO 916) that Zionism and Nazism are based on similar doctrines is both ludicrous and obscene.

Nazism was committed to the destruction of the Jewish people while Zionism, or Israel, is committed to living in peace alongside a state of Palestine.

As for Allan’s allegation that Gaza is a concentration camp, Israel withdrew every last soldier and settler from Gaza in 2005 in the expectation that a responsible Palestinian administration would be set up. Instead, Hamas has seized control of the place and has waged war against the civilians of Israel ever since.

Finally, let’s examine the statistics. In 1948, when the state of Israel was declared, its population included 1.2 million Arabs; today that number is 1.5 million. In addition, there were 544,000 Arabs in the territories in 1948 (462,000 in the West Bank and 82,000 in Gaza); today there are 4 million Arabs in the territories (2.5 million in the West Bank and 1.5 million in Gaza).

If Israel was pursuing a policy of genocide, how could such numbers be possible?

There are rights and wrongs on both sides. Wild accusations do nothing to lower the tension and promote peace.


— Vic Alhadeff, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

Letter No.4:

by Adam from Darlinghurst | 14/05/2008 1:16:05 PM

POOR FORM

Comparing Zionism to Nazism is equating the deliberate extermination of six million Jews (not to mention the millions of other innocent civilians including homosexuals) to the actions of a less-than perfect state of Israel which has faced existential threats since its creation 60 years ago.

I am not defending Israel or its actions, but rather speaking out against blatant anti-Semitism and the promotion of hate and incitement.

As a regular reader of SSO and an active (and equally proud) member of the Sydney gay and Jewish communities, I expect a much higher standard from SSO in publishing/reviewing material.

We as gay people know the destructive and painful effects of people who promote their intolerant and hateful agendas. As such, we should ensure that the hate-speech that we fight so hard to defeat is not taking aim at other minority groups.

Letter No.5:

by Roy from Bondi | 14/05/2008 1:12:53 PM

NOT SO SIMPLE

I would like to respond to Allan of Bondi Junction and his anti-Israel diatribe. It’s so nice to hear that the anti-Semitic “Zionism equals racism” line is still being thrown about. Zionism is nothing more than the political movement to establish a homeland for the Jews. Jews are not a race. There is no claim of a unique genetic source. Jews are as diverse as the GLBT community itself. Therefore, how can Zionism be based upon a racist precept?

According to Allan, Israel is an “expansionist Jewish State” making a “massive real estate claim” in the Middle East. Have you even looked at a map of the Middle East? Have you seen how miniscule Israel is in comparison to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq to name but a few?

You refer to Israel as “artificial”, but are you aware that the country now known as Jordan was created purely from Palestinian land back in 1922? Other Middle Eastern countries were created out of the spoils of the first World War.

You compare Gaza and the West Bank with Nazi concentration camps. Are you aware that Lebanon keeps its own Palestinian population in far worse conditions in camps and has done so for the last 60 years?

Israel is also one of the most liberal democracies on the planet. Same-gender marriages that are performed overseas are recognised under Israeli law. Same-gender partners are recognised as adoptive parents. Same-gender couples have the right to adopt.

I suggest that Allan read up on the situation in the Middle East and maybe his opinion would be a little less one-sided. It’s a complicated situation. No single side is completely right or wrong. As gays and lesbians, we all have to challenge the narrow-mindedness and the prejudices with which we were brought up. It seems that some, such as Allan, are quite happy to accept this ignorant hatred. Open your mind a little and there may be a chance for peace and a better future.

Letter No.6:

by Tomer from Double Bay | 14/05/2008 1:06:19 PM

ONE OPINION

In reply to the post by Allan from Bondi Junction, I’m afraid I cannot disregard such an ignorant perspective published in an Australian paper.

Allan believes that crimes against humanity and collective punishment are acted by Israel. I really wonder had Allan been around (or wise enough) to learn about the peace negotiations of Israel and Palestinians since the early 90s. Had there been agreements that both sides had signed on (such as Oslo)?

Did Allan ask himself, “Are there any actions that Palestinians can do in order to help themselves?” Well, yes, there are. They include stopping the terror and returning kidnapped soldiers.

Gaza is not a concentration camp and cannot be compared to [one]. Gaza was taken over by a terrorist group and it’s Hamas’s own way to govern and set their priorities. Hamas still prefer to fire rockets onto kindergartens and kill the drivers who deliver supplies.

Such terror is not considered acceptable by any country. It’s only Allan from Bondi Junction who chooses to ignore it all.

There is a lot more to add, but it is obvious that Allan presented an ignorant perspective that can be supported only by very narrow-minded people. In all honesty such opinions should be well-considered before printing in an Australian paper.

I wish Allan happy 60th to Israel.

1 JULY 2008

This item was received by email on 1 July 2008 and serves further to illustrate how and why the Israelis continue to be hated and loathed by those they occupy and brutalise in the concentration camps in Palestine. When is the world going to wake up and stop these events from occurring?

MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist


By Mel Frykberg

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) - Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.

Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media's Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.

Omer's trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer's travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.

Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross.

Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel's domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation.

"Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats," Omer said.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met.

The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being "the prize-winning journalist".

The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to "the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave." To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a "trouble-maker".

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked.

"At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear," Omer said.

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, "you haven't seen anything yet." Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer's neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted.

SOUTH AFRICA IN 1977 - THE MURDER OF STEVE BIKO

Biko
Biko

As one looks at the pictures of the degrading death of Steve Biko at the hands of his torturers in the South African regime, and then one reads the story of Omer in the hands of Israel's Shin Bet, one has to ask the question - who is/was worse? - and one can't help but be drawn to the parallels in all these situations. Biko was of course murdered, but Omer's treatment could well have ended up with the same outcome.

When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.

"I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me," Omer told IPS.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation.

The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, "We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don't believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy.

"We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business," added Dadou.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel's borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer's journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

"We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.

"I'm not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet."

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. "I'm struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations," he said.

19 JULY 2008

This was sent by email and is reproduced here in full. Yet another example of the bastardisation of young Israelis as they are trained in the Israeli Defence Force to brutalise Palestinians in any and every way they are able to. In the process of course, the soldiers are totally dehumanised and their behaviour is so disgusting , one can't help but remember the actions of the police and army in apartheid South Africa.

The Palestinian Bar-Mitzvah

By Bassam Aramin
Translated from Arabic by Miriam Asnes

My son Arab is 14, just past the age that his Jewish Israeli peers are celebrating their bar mitzvahs. This ceremony in Jewish culture is a rite of passage that marks a boy's entrance into the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. And last week, my son experienced something akin to the Palestinian bar-mitzvah.

It was a beautiful day on Friday the 12th of July when Arab went with his friends to the beach in Tiberias. He spent all of his time in the days leading up to the trip trying to convince me that I should let him go. At first I refused - he's young to be traveling so far in a group without his parents. But then I remembered the regret I still feel about the death of my daughter Abir.

Abir was ten when she was killed by the Israeli Occupation Force on January 16th, 2007 in front of her school in Anata. That morning, when she asked her mother and me for permission to play with her friends after school, I?d refused. I told her, 'Don't even think of coming home late, come back right away so you can prepare for your next exam.' And she answered me with the last words I ever heard from her, petulant and innocent. 'Well, I'm going to be late.' She was angry with me. She was late that day, but not because she met her friends. A bullet from an Israeli border patrolman found her instead, and she never came back. I regret having refused her request, not knowing that it would be her last - that she would be late despite me and despite herself.

When I saw how much Arab wanted to go, I thought of Abir and gave my permission with the condition that he look after himself and be in constant phone contact with me.

Arab and his friends Rafet, Saleh and Mohammad got themselves ready for a day at the beach, and the bus set out at 7am. There were about 45 passengers: Arab and nine of his peers, who range in age from 14 to 17; the rest were families and children and a group of girls Arab's age, all legal residents of Israel with East Jerusalem IDs. I was pleased with how happy Arab was during the time he called to check in. Arab loved Abir fiercely, and her death was an awful blow especially to him, the oldest of her siblings. I was so glad to hear joy in his voice again.

At 11pm Arab called me and said they had almost made it back and he'd be home in half an hour. But 11:30 came and went. At exactly 12am I called him, angry that he was late. He answered in a hushed voice with words that chilled me.

'There are a lot of soldiers here. The police stopped the bus, we don't know why, and we're in Jerusalem - the soldier is asking us not to talk on the phone, I'll call back later.' And he hung up the phone. I didn't know why they went all the way into Jerusalem proper and where exactly they were in the city, and I was in this terrible state of not knowing what was happening to my son, trying to call him and getting no answer until an hour and a half later when he answered the phone and said quickly, 'we are now in the Israeli police station, they've detained everyone from the bus, they are checking us all and I am not allowed to talk to you now and they'll let us go soon' and again he hung up.

There are no words for the state I was in during those hours, waiting for his next call and dreading it would not come. Then at 2:30am he called again to say that they were at the Maskubiyah detention center in Jerusalem. I asked him why they were being detained, and he said he did not know. I told him, 'Go up to the solider and tell him, you have to talk to my father, he does not know where I am.'

He replied that he was scared to do so; they'd already beaten many of the kids there because they had talked and talking was not allowed. 'But I trust you, Dad.'

I told him he was brave, and that he shouldn't be scared of the soldier. 'Talk to him in Hebrew,' I said. I made sure to teach all my children Hebrew from a young age. I could hear Arab go up to the soldier and tell him, 'Please, can you talk to my father?' But the solider told him to shut his mouth and hang up the phone.

'If your father wants to see you tell him to come here,' he said.

I was beside myself. I yelled in my loudest voice, 'You murderers! Where is my son? Do you want to kill him as you killed his sister a year ago?' I told Arab to turn on the speakerphone so the soldier could hear what I was saying, but he had a better eye on the situation and said to me, 'Dad, don't be afraid. I am okay. They are going to let us go in a bit like they said; I'll talk with you soon.' And he hung up.

At exactly 3am the Israeli Occupying Forces let the group go, and I waited on pins and needles until 3:40am for Arab to come home. He was exhausted, so I told him to please go to sleep and we could talk in the morning. The most important thing was that he was okay.

The next day I returned from work in the evening to find Arab and Rafet in the house, and I heard what had happened.

In the industrial neighborhood of Wad Al-Joz in Jerusalem, a group of Israeli Special Forces troops on motorcycles along with police and army reinforcements were stationed on the path the bus from Tiberias was taking to get its passengers, all legal residents of Israel, home. They demanded that the driver stop immediately. One of the soldiers got on the bus and said, 'Anyone who moves his head, I'll put a bullet in it.' Arab said to me, 'At that moment all I could think of was Abir, who really was shot in the head by a bullet.'

The soldier continued, 'We are from national security.' He then told the young men, about ten of them, to begin taking off their clothes in the bus, in front of the women and girls. Then he took them out one by one and had them lie down on the filthy street, littered with stones and pieces of glass. They began with Ahmed, who was 16 years old. Then all the young men had to strip and get out of the bus and lie on the ground. One of them was injured in the stomach by a piece of glass. Arab asked me, 'How can they ask the men to undress in front of the women? They don't have morals!'

I asked him, 'Do you think they perhaps have at least some basic morals?'

His answer was definitive: 'None at all.' I explained to him that humiliation by forced nakedness didn't just happen to his friends: it is a longstanding problem in the Israeli military. When we were in their prisons without any way to defend ourselves, our guards would take sadistic pleasure in seeing us naked, in humiliating us.

Arab, the youngest of the boys, stayed in the bus with the women and children. Then one of the female soldiers got on the bus and called out to another soldier who he couldn't see, 'Avichai, come bring the dog.'

Arab said, 'At first I thought that Avichai was Avichai Sharon,' my friend and colleague in Combatants For Peace who also is a part of the partner organization Breaking the Silence, an organization that publicizes the barbaric and criminal practices of the Israeli Occupying Forces in Hebron. Arab wasn't so scared of the idea of a military dog because he thought that the Avichai that he knew would be its master. But then he saw that this Avichai was not our friend, and he didn't resemble him in any manner except his first name. This soldier would let out the dog's leash in the direction of women and children and then pull him back at the last second. He looked pleased with himself when the leader of the trip, Um Shams, fainted, and he also smiled when two children, ages 4 and 5, urinated out of fear and terror. The soldiers checked everyone, even taking off the diaper of a baby who was under one year old. 'They're even afraid of our unweaned babies,' said Arab in amazement. 'They cursed us with all the ugly expressions and slurs they could think of. One of them said that all Arabs are trash' they are racist!' All the passengers on the bus had the absolute legal right as residents of East Jerusalem to travel anywhere within Israel that they please.

I told my son, 'Some of them are, but not every Jewish Israeli is like that. There are a few who aren't affected by this racism, but nevertheless it colors Israeli society. It's no wonder that the United Nations determined that Zionism was a racist movement over 30 years ago.' True, that decision was overturned, but the racism has remained deeply ingrained. Most don't consider the continual discrimination against Palestinians, be they residents of the West Bank and Gaza, residents of East Jerusalem, or Israeli citizens to be racist. They try to spin it as necessary 'for ongoing security reasons.' But at least some people in Israeli society see the shameful truth as it is, without attempting to whitewash it. And they are not alone.

Recently a delegation of human rights activists, lawyers and judges from South Africa, a country which suffered under the yoke of Apartheid, visited our region. They declared that what they saw in Israel was more than just racial segregation?it was government-sponsored racism, discriminatory policies against Palestinians.

Arab kept asking me why the Israeli soldiers were doing what they were doing to the Palestinians. At one point I thought he was about to explode in anger. And then his voice changed, and he said something very unexpected. 'I wish that you had been there with us, Dad. I'm sure you would have taught them a lesson, and spared all of us that indignity. You would have spoken to them in Hebrew and made them understand that they were wrong, like you always do with soldiers at checkpoints, like when that soldier yelled at us at the Wad al-Nar checkpoint when we were going to visit the Galilee. Then, you spoke with him and he ended up apologizing to you and wishing that we could all live together in peace.'

Then he said something even more surprising. "I want you to take me with you when you go to one of your lectures in Israel so I can tell the Israelis about the practices of their soldiers on that night." I asked him if he was serious?Arab has always questioned my willingness to talk with the other side and sit down with Israelis in forums like those Combatants for Peace provides. But he insisted, saying, "They have to know what happened so the parents of those soldiers can forbid their children to act that way towards women and children again."

The final indignity of that Friday night was when Saleh, Arab?s friend, had to go to the bathroom and asked many times if he could get up from his prone position on the asphalt to go relieve himself. Avichai refused his request each time. Saleh talked quietly with Rafet, who has a limited range of motion in his hand and left foot, and they decided that Rafet would ask if he could go and Saleh could volunteer to help him. At last Avichai gave his permission to let Rafet go to the bathroom on the condition that Saleh would not relieve himself. Saleh did not know this protector of the security of the State of Israel was following them on their base errand until he was squatting in the middle of his 'terrorist operation,' trying to relieve himself, and Avichai began using his hands and feet to hit him across the face and head as a lesson to others as to what happens when you fail to carry out a military order. Let me remind you, Saleh and Rafet are legal residents of the State of Israel.

What happened is deeply embarrassing and shameful, but it is the truth. I asked Arab, "Did they apologize to you when they finally let you go?"

He said, "Sure they did. They said to us, 'Looks like you were naked on the beach in Tiberias by day, and naked on the 'beach' of Wad al-Joz by night. Now scram.'" He repeated these words to me with an ironic expression on his face that I have never seen before. And I thought, with an equal measure of irony, 'Today, he is a man.'

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

11 SEPTEMBER 2008

The following article was received by email and is yet another example of the chicanery of the neo-cons and zionists in the USA and the depths to which they sink in order to denigrate those opposed to the undemocratic state of Israel. Although the date of the article is 1 May 2008, it is just as pertinent now, nearly 6 months later, as it was then.

Campus Watch in the Media

Truth or Neo-Consequences [incl. Nadia Abu El-Haj]
by Morgan Strong
Middle East Online
May 1, 2008
Campus-Watch
Al Jazeera

An obscure academic dispute - over whether Israeli archeology sought to obscure the land's last two millennia of history and promote a continual Jewish claim of ownership - has shown again how tensions in the Middle East can reverberate in unlikely ways in the United States.

The dispute centered on whether Barnard College should grant tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj, an American-born scholar of anthropology who, in the 1990s, challenged the scientific integrity of what she saw as the Israeli use of archeology in a politically motivated way to justify Jewish settlements on territory that had belonged to Palestinians.

Although the controversy wasn't new - it had been argued out within archeological circles in Israel for years - El-Haj became a lightning rod because she was the first academic of Palestinian descent to publicize the debate in a 2001 book, Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society.

This academic debate boiled over the past two years when El-Haj - who had been a professor at Barnard College since 2002 - applied for tenure in 2006 and became a target of neoconservative attack groups determined to punish her for undermining Israel's claims to the Holy Land.

On Aug. 7, 2007, a petition entitled "Deny Nadia Abu El-Haj Tenure" was posted on petitionline.com, describing her as a scholar of "demonstrably inferior caliber" who had unfairly assailed the methodology of Israeli archeological digs.

The petition - prepared by Paula Stern, a 1982 graduate of Barnard and a resident of the occupied West Bank - also accused El-Haj of calling the ancient Israelite kingdoms a "pure political fabrication" and of lacking basic skills to undertake her studies, including an ability to "speak or read Hebrew." The petition said, "We fail to understand how a scholar can pretend to study the attitudes of a people whose language she does not know."

The petition became a hot topic among American neoconservatives.

Campus Watch, a right-wing organization that monitors the teaching of Middle Eastern studies in the United States, joined in the attacks on El-Haj. Campus Watch was founded in 2002 by Daniel Pipes, a prominent neoconservative and son of Richard Pipes, a key figure in the Cold War-era Committee on the Present Danger.

A blog of pro-Israeli professors known as Scholars for Peace in the Middle East also joined in the anti-tenure campaign. Stern's petition eventually attracted about 2,500 signatures including many alumni from Barnard and its affiliate, Columbia University in New York City.

Errors admitted

However, two months after Stern posted the petition, she acknowledged to The Jewish Week that some of the petition's criticisms of El-Haj and her book were inaccurate. Stern "incorrectly quotes from Abu El-Haj's book in charging she is grossly ignorant of Jerusalem geography," according to The Jewish Week article by Larry Cohler-Esses. "Stern also conceded attributing to Abu El-Haj a viewpoint that Abu El-Haj does not voice as her own in her book. The petition does so by taking a quote fragment from a section in which Abu El-Haj describes others as having the opposite viewpoint."

The article also noted that the petition ignored references in El-Haj's book to Hebrew language sources and an acknowledgement to her Hebrew tutor. [The Jewish Week, Oct. 25, 2007]

Despite its inaccuracies, the petition - and the anti-tenure campaign - threatened to exact a price from Barnard and Columbia for granting tenure to El-Haj; the schools would stand to suffer financial harm from offended alumni withholding contributions.

This pattern of ugly controversies whenever a Muslim or an Arab-American criticizes Israel or is seen as promoting some Islamic agenda has become more and more common, with influential neoconservative groups now operating in a concerted way to destroy careers and livelihoods.

Often the strategy succeeds, as the New York Times reported on April 28 in connection with the forced resignation of Debbie Almontaser, the founder of New York's Khalil Gibran International Academy, which had a goal of teaching Arabic to children of various ethnicities, including Arab-Americans.

Almontaser, who had a reputation as a Muslim moderate, stepped down after confronting a campaign that labeled her a "radical," and a "9/11 denier." The Times reported that the campaign was part of "a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life."

Some of the leaders of the battle against Almontaser - such as Daniel Pipes - also participated in the anti-tenure campaign at Barnard against El-Haj, reflecting how these activists view the marginalizing of Muslims as a coordinated national struggle.

"It's a battle that's really just begun," Pipes told the Times.

So, this strategy holds that Muslims and their non-Muslim allies especially in academia must be marginalized and denied legitimacy. To achieve these ends, neoconservatives and sympathetic media outlets often turn small issues into huge controversies that create enormous pressure on mainstream politicians to distance themselves from the targets.

That was the case with Almontaser when Rupert Murdoch's neoconservative New York Post linked the school principal to a group that lent office space to an Arab-American organization that promoted t-shirts reading "Intifada NYC." Amid the furor, the mayor's office of New York City pushed Almontaser into resigning, although federal judges have since agreed that the Post "inaccurately reported" her words.

Barnard's El-Haj tenure struggle followed a similar pattern, with key roles played by some of the same activists. In both cases, the battle involved neoconservatives who distorted the words of their targets in order to build a public hysteria strong enough to overwhelm the principle of academic freedom.

The Barnard battle

El-Haj was born in New York, the daughter of a mother of French-Norwegian descent and a Palestinian father, who had received his Doctorate in Economics from Columbia in the late 1950s.

In 1975, her family lived in Teheran, where her father was employed by the United Nations and where she learned Farsi. A few years later, the family moved to Lebanon where she became fluent in Arabic. Her family frequently visited her father's relatives in East Jerusalem. In 1980, she undertook her undergraduate education at Bryn Mawr. In 1990, as a graduate student at Duke University, she decided on a project in epistemology, "to examine knowledge in a social context, connected to time, place, politics and identity."

Wanting to find a place where that identity was in dispute, she chose Israel/Palestine. She then spent months in Israel learning Hebrew and examining Israeli archeology's role in the creation of, and establishment of, the State of Israel.

Israeli archeology, from the founding of Israel in 1948, claimed to have uncovered evidence supporting an ancient and continuous Hebrew presence, which in turn provided legitimacy to Israeli government claims that Palestinian land should be part of the modern state of Israel. After achieving her Doctorate in 1995, she adapted her doctoral thesis into a book, Facts on the Ground, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2001.

The book examined the role of Israeli archeology in what was essentially a political context. El-Haj traced the history of how archeological discoveries - pottery, ancient stones, even human remains - were used in a manipulative way to establish the legitimacy of Israeli claims to Palestinian land.

El-Haj questioned the veracity of some Israeli claims, saying the science of archeology had been exploited in the "formation and enactment of [Israel's] colonial-national historical imagination and ... the substantiation of its territorial claims."

Her book cites the example of an archeological dig in Jezreel, in the Galilee region. El-Haj said British and Israeli archeologists used bulldozers "to get down to the earlier strata, which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible."

Bulldozing a site - or using large shovels - to a specific depth of an archaeological dig, where one could expect to find remnants of an ancient Hebrew settlement, or not excavating to lower levels eliminates the possibility of finding evidence that other civilizations preceded or followed the Hebrews.

Israeli archeologist David Ussiskin of the University of Tel Aviv denied that bulldozers at the site were used in the fashion alleged by El-Haj's book or that evidence of more recent strata had been damaged.

Despite a spirited debate about her book, El-Haj's academic career continued to advance. She taught at the University of Chicago before moving to Barnard College in 2002 and sought tenure in April 2006.

That's when El-Haj was caught up in the surging neoconservative campaign to keep Islam - and criticism of Israel - as far out of mainstream American thought as possible.

In this case, however, the neocons did not prevail. El-Haj was awarded tenure on Nov. 1, 2007, representing at least one moment when free speech and academic freedom won out over the sophisticated political pressure that neoconservatives have made their hallmark.

-- Morgan Strong was an adviser on the Middle East to CBS News "60 Minutes." He is a former Professor of Middle Eastern History at MercyCollege and S.U.N.Y.
Note: Postings in "Campus Watch in the Media" do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch.

5 OCTOBER 2008

On Sunday 5 October 2008 this email was sent to me.

The pathetic sender remains anonymous because of course he/she is too afraid to enter into any meaningful discourse on any of the items with which this coward has abused me.

He/she is typical of those who hide behind their anonymity because thay havn't got the courage of their convictions. It is easier to be abusive, and think they are great heroes of the zionist state by counter-arguing about arabs and Iranians.

It is really quite tragic when one views the situation in the middle east and this is what one gets!

And if this is the quality of today's supporters of Israel, there really is not much hope for the future of that country!

BRAD COHEN mcenroebecker@hotmail.com Subject: palestine 5.10.2008

de saxe, you have had too many stiff arab cocks up your herpes backside.

why dont you write about how iran has murdered over 5000 homosexuals since 79, and how many mardi gras are held in the middle east outside israel.

you are a whigeing self hating brain damaged queer.

23 DECEMBER 2008

That is so rich! An Israel citizen charged with violating the Israeli disengagement from Gaza because she was among those breaking the Israeli seige of Gaza - what depths of hypocrisy!

From Vivienne:

Besieged Strip

Neta Golan attends court hearing Photo: Roee Idan (photo not available at the moment)

Israeli activist charged with violating disengagement order

Police claim Neta Golan, who sailed into Gaza on activists' boat, will be charged with violating order prohibiting Israelis from entering Gaza. Meanwhile Lebanese boat prepares to sail for Strip on Jan. 3

Tova Dadon

The Magistrates' Court in Kiryat Gat on Tuesday remanded the arrest of peace activist Neta Golan, who attempted to cross into Israel after arriving in Gaza on an activists' boat from Cyprus. She was arrested at the Erez crossing on Monday.

Paying the Toll

Police stated an indictment would be filed against Golan, charging her with the violation of the order implementing the State's Disengagement Plan of 2006. The order prohibits Israeli citizens from entering Gaza.

Police representatives asked the court to remand Golan's arrest in order to provide for time to prepare the indictment and to consult with the Prime Minister's Office in order to estimate the danger of Golan's actions.

Golan's attorney, Adanan Aladdin, told the court that his client "may have been endangering herself by entering Gaza, but the Gazans welcomed the arrival of the boat carrying a minimal amount of medical equipment to cure the seriously ill."

Aladdin added, "There is no criminal offense in Golan's actions. The siege Israel is imposing on Gaza is causing a serious humanitarian crisis endangering the lives of thousands of Gazans.

"Golan was taking personal responsibility as she believed the entire Israeli public should be doing, and boarded the ship that eventually docked in Gaza, otherwise the ship would have been banned. The fact that there were Israelis on board forced the Israeli forces to allow it to dock in Gaza."

First Lebanese boat follows suit

Meanwhile it was reported that another cargo ship will set sail for Gaza on January 3 to defy the Israeli blockade, the organizer said Tuesday. On board the ship will be Lebanese activists, journalists, and supplies. Authorities at Larnaca port in Cyprus are expected to inspect the cargo and passengers before it proceeds to Gaza.

Hani Sleiman, a lawyer and university professor, said the indirect route is designed to deprive Israel of any excuse not to allow the ship into Gaza.

Five ships carrying activists and goods have run the blockade since the summer, but it will be the first time a ship carrying people and goods from Lebanon.

A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, Yigal Palmor, said Israel will not comment prior to the event and "will react accordingly when it happens."

AP contributed to this report
Last update - 14:01 16/12/2008

VIEWPOINT/ Boycott of settlements' industries is taking its toll

By Adam Keller
Tags: West Bank

Production lines in industrial zones in the West Bank have begun to deteriorate of late. The Barkan Winery has turned its back on the settlement after which it is named, and has moved to Kibbutz Hulda, within the Green Line, the pre-1967 border. Mul-T-Lock, which commands a near monopoly in the Israeli lock market, announced that it will also be leaving the Barkan industrial zone. In addition, Soda Club has promised its Swedish partner Empire that it will not export products produced in its plant in Mishor Adumim.

These days, factories located in settlements are becoming more risky and less profitable. This wasn't always the case. Four years ago, Eti Alush, the man behind the Barkan industrial center, presented a rather rosy picture: "There is no ideology in economics. Entrepreneurs come here for the money, not for political reasons. Barkan is accessible and relatively cheap, and businesses pay discounted city tax (arnona). It's an area under development, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry offers substantive assistance under the law for encouragement of capital investments, and Palestinian labor costs are low as well."

Export to Europe didn't seem like a problem for settlers back then, and Alush described the deception quite openly. "Companies that operate in the area have a number of factories, some of which are located within the 'Green Line,' aside from the one in Barkan. They label exports to Europe as coming from Kiryat Gat or Petah Tikva, not Barkan - because of the European boycott, and also because of settlement boycotts by various groups, like Gush Shalom."

A factory isn't some toy that can be hidden under the carpet. It's not difficult to enter, conduct surveillance and take pictures of trucks leaving the factory gates on their way to the port. European Union members don't like to be duped, and Britain has recently upped its supervision and checking procedures on products "Made in Israel," to ascertain where exactly they are coming from. A group of European citizens has begun investigating the businesses more thoroughly. Dutch beer giant Heineken, which was set to buy the Barkan wineries, faced a serious danger of a widespread consumer boycott on the streets of Amsterdam, and scrambled to make sure that its Israeli subsidiary left the area.

As for Mul-T-Lock, the firm boasts of being "part of the Swedish company Assa Abloy, the world leader in development and production of physical and electronic locking solutions," since 2000. Certainly a productive business alliance, one that opens many doors all over the world, but doesn't jive with production in the settlements. After Swedish religious and human rights organizations published an in-depth study of Sweden's involvement in Mul-T-Lock, Assa Abloy hurried to apologize to the Swedish public and promised that the error would be corrected, and that Mul-T-Lock would leave Barkan.

The writing is on the wall. Anyone who wants to be part of the international community, and build global, long-term businesses, had better stay away from the settlements.

The writer is the spokesman for Gush Shalom and a member of the movement's emergency settlements team.

DECEMBER 2008

Below are two accounts of the cancellation of the planned Jewish National Front march into the Palestinian town of Umm el Fahm in northern Israel. It is not clear whether the Israeli and Arab peace activists wanted the racist march to go ahead to allow the deomonstration of Arab-Israeli solidarity against racism or whether they consider the cancellation to be a victory.

Both articles are clear that the Israeli peace movement condemned the racist reason given by the police for the cancellation - the fear of violence from the Arab citizens of Umm el Fahm.

Vivienne
_______________________________________________________________ Saturday 13/12/08 Gush Shalom Report

Police prevents Kahanists' Umm el Fahm provocation in the face of Arab-Jewish human chain

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1229194750/

The cancellation of the racist provocation in Umm el Fahm is a victory for common sense and for solidarity between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

The municipality of Umm el Fahm and the leaders of the Arab public in Israel deserve praise for their response to the planned Kahanist "procession" : the immediate issuing of a public call upon Jewish Israelis to arrive en masse in Umm el Fahm, as welcome guests, and face the racists shoulder to shoulder with the townspeople. The police assertion that there had been a danger of violence and even of bloodshed is wrong. Had the Kahanists arrived at the entrance to Umm el Fahm, they would have found there a human chain formed by thousands of Arabs and Jews holding hands and barring their way, with no need of violence of any kind - and the same is what will happen if a new date is set for this provocation.

In order to block the entry of the Kahanists into Umm el Fahm, the police needed no further justification than the fact that these are members of a violent racist movement which was formally outlawed already 14 years ago, following the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein in Hebron. The time is long overdue to actually implement that ban. But even if the police felt the need to resort to false pretexts, it is good that the racist provocation was prevented. Hopefully, this is the end of a shameful affair.

Original message - no more valid:

The Kahanists received permission to hold a provocative march in Umm el Fahm, on Monday, Dec. 15, at 11.00 am. At each of Umm el Fahm' four entrances will be a human chain of Jews and Arabs standing together to block their way.

Different groups are organizing transportation. It is less important with whom you will travel, the main thing is to be there, etc.

Arab town blamed for Jewish Pride march's cancellation; Peace groups angry at police slur

http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=30635
By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
20.12.2008

Jewish peace groups have accused the Israeli police of fuelling racism by cancelling a "Jewish Pride" march by a far-right group that was to have taken place through one of the largest Arab towns in Israel.

The police postponed the march, due last Monday, claiming they had evidence extremist residents of Umm al Fahm in northern Israel would open fire on the marchers and police.

'There was a real danger that lives could be lost,' said a police spokesman, adding that the decision to ban the march would be reassessed in two weeks.

But local Arab leaders and Jewish peace activists claimed the police concocted the story to justify the cancellation of the march. Thousands of Jews had planned to form a human chain with the residents of Umm al Fahm at the entrance to the town to block the way of the Jewish National Front.

Adam Keller, of the peace group Gush Shalom, said the planned show of solidarity would have been non-violent. He denounced the police for exploiting the stereotype of violent Arab citizens promoted by the marchers, many of whom are hardline settlers in the West Bank.

'It is a supreme irony that we had organised for thousands of Arabs and Jews to prove we can live here as citizens in harmony,' he said. 'Then the police cancel the march but use the false pretext that the marchers are in danger rather than that they seek to inflame violence.'

Claims by the police that Arab residents would shoot at the marchers were derided by Jewish and Arab organisations.

Jafar Farah, of the Mossawa parliamentary lobbying group, pointed out that the northern police force had used a similar excuse 'that Arab demonstrators were armed' in Oct 2000, at the start of the intifada, to justify its use of live ammunition against protests in Arab communities.

A later state inquiry examining the deaths of 13 Arab demonstrators at the hands of the police found that they were unarmed. The inquiry concluded that the institutional view of the police was that Israel's 1.2 million-strong Arab population should be treated as 'an enemy' rather than as citizens.

'The lessons from that inquiry have still not been learnt,' Mr Farah said. 'There is still a culture of hatred in the police force as well as a culture of incitement. In their different way, the police want to de-legitimise the country's Arab minority just as much as the marchers.'

The Jewish National Front is widely seen as a reinvention of the Kach movement, a Jewish terror organisation demanding the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the West Bank. The movement was outlawed in the 1990s.

Kach tried to stage a march to Umm al Fahm in 1984 but was repulsed when Jews and Arabs turned out on a large scale.

The police opposed the new march from the outset, saying it believed that confrontations between the marchers and local residents might provoke riots across the north, especially in the wake of violence between Jews and Arabs in Acre in October.

The Supreme Court overruled the police, agreeing with the Front that their right to free expression was being curtailed.

Mr Keller said he believed the police had opposed the march because of the exorbitant cost of bringing thousands of police officers to the town.

'They needed an excuse to prevent the march but one that would be acceptable to the Jewish public and which would not look like they were ignoring the court's ruling. They resorted to the easiest "and most dangerous" pretext available: that Umm al Fahm is a hotbed of terror.'

Itamar Ben Gvir, a Front leader and settler involved in the recent clashes with the Israeli army over the evacuation of a settler-occupied Palestinian house in Hebron, called the police decision 'a disgrace to the rule of law'. He added: 'Today the police have proved once and for all that they do not control Umm al Fahm.'

Shuli Dichter, the head of the Sikkuy coexistence group and a resident of a kibbutz near Umm al Fahm, called that suggestion 'nonsense'.

"At the weekend we organised tours for hundreds of Jews to Umm al Fahm. They shopped and visited attractions without any trouble whatsoever. We proved that Jews are welcome in Umm al Fahm and that the violence comes only from the far-right."

Raja Aghbariyya, the head of Islamic Youth Movement in Umm al Fahm, expressed a view widely shared in the town: "We welcome anyone who comes to visit the city, but not according to the relationship of slave and master."

Mr Dichter said the police decision had disappointed him. "I would have preferred to see this march stopped by the opposition of an aware public rather than by the police."

He said the large turnout of Jewish groups had been possible because of a framework of co-operation between Jews and Arabs created in the wake of the 13 deaths in Oct 2000.

That included a forum jointly headed by the Arab mayor of Umm al Fahm, Sheikh Hashem Abd al Rahman, and the Jewish mayor of the Menashe Regional Council, Ilan Sadeh. Mr Sadeh, who had assisted in plans to oppose the Front, described the march as an attempt 'to sow chaos in the area'.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Disappearing Palestine: Israel`s Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

VB

DECEMBER 2008

Received by email:

As Cockburn writes [ in the latest issue of Counterpunch]:

'Of course many of them thought Madoff's famous model was dubious. After all, how could the laws of financial gravity be defied, year after year, producing an unending yield (for the fortunate) of 10 to 12 per cent annual returns on capital invested. But the thought came with a knowing wink, that Bernie was scoring these huge returns, by being in the know, running on the inside track, using insider knowledge.'

There will be innocent victims, but they won't be the ones who invested directly with Madoff, it will be, for example, those who rely on pension funds whose managers gave funds to him to invest.

There is a bright side, however. Tony Greenstein, a prominent anti-Zionist campaigner I know, sent the letter below to the Jewish Chronicle (London), pointing this out. Will it get printed?

Paul F
++++++++++++++++++++++++ Sir or Madam:

Daniella Peled and Anshel Pfeffer (Jewish Chronicle 18.12.08, 'Madoff scandal: charities lose $1bn') are unduly pessimistic. It is incumbent on the 'JC' of all papers to look on the summer side of life.

You should remember that old saying that it's an ill-wind that blows no good. It seems that Bernie made off with a sizeable chunk of the funds of some of the most detestable Zionist organisations. Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organisation has apparently lost nearly 20% of its endowment and another Zionist organisation, the American Jewish Congress no less than two-thirds. Who knows what other supporters of tyranny and occupation have been affected?

It could well be that Bernie Madoff has done more singlehandedly to bankrupt settlements in the West Bank than all the Palestine solidarity organisations put together. Is there no one who is prepared to launch a fund to ensure that Bernie at least enjoys a few home comforts when he is forced to do porridge in the American gulag?

Indeed I can think of no one since Yehoshua Leibowitz who is more worthy of being awarded the annual Israel Prize.

And even better, no one can now assert that there is a world Jewish conspiracy aimed at defrauding Gentiles when it is clear that the primary victims of Mr Madoff's pyramid scheme were themselves Jewish!

Your obedient servant,

Tony Greenstein

22 DECEMBER 2008

Received by email:

Bernard Madoff:

Wall Street Swindler Strikes Powerful Blows for Social Justice

By James Petras

“We never thought he would do this to us, he was one of our people”, member of Palm Beach Country Club.

December 22, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" ---

Wall Street broker Bernard (‘Bernie’) Madoff, former president of NASDAQ, revered and respected investor confessed to pulling off the biggest fraud in history, a $50 billion dollar scam. Bernie was known for his generous philanthropy, especially to Zionist, Jewish and Israeli causes. A one time life-guard on Long Island in the 1960’s, Bernie launched his financial career by raising money from colleagues, friends and relatives among wealthier Jews in the Long Island suburbs, Palm Beach, Florida and in Manhattan, promising a modest, steady and secure return of between 10 to 12%, covering any withdrawals in typical Ponzi fashion by drawing on funds from new investors who literally pleaded for Bernie to fleece them. Madoff personally managed at least $17 billion dollars. For almost four decades he built up a clientele, which came to include some of the biggest banks and investment houses in Scotland, Spain, England and France; as well as major hedge funds in the United States. Madoff drew almost all of the funds from high net-worth private clients who were recruited by brokers working on commission. Bernie’s clients included many multi-millionaires and billionaires from Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere, as well as the US’s largest hedge funds (RMF Division of the Man Group and the Tremont). Many of the swindled super-rich clients forced their money on Madoff, who sternly imposed rigorous conditions on potential clients: He insisted they have recommendations from existing investors, deposit a substantial amount and guarantee their own solvency. Most considered themselves lucky to have their funds taken by the highly respected Wall Street…swindler. Madoff’s standard message was that the fund was closed…but because they came from the same world (board members of Jewish charities, pro-Israel fund raising organizations or the ‘right’ country clubs) or were related to a friend, colleague or existing clients, he would take their money.

Madoff set up advisory councils with distinguished members, contributed heavily to museums, hospitals and upscale cultural organizations. He was a prominent member of exclusive country clubs in Palm Beach and Long Island. His reputation was enhanced by his funds record of never having a losing year – a big selling point in luring millionaire investors. Madoff shared with his super-rich clients (Jews and Gentiles) a common upper class life style, and mix of cultural philanthropy with low key financial profiteering. Madoff ‘played’ his colleagues with a soft-spoken, but authoritative, appearance of ‘expertise’, covered by a veneer of upper class collegiality, deep commitment to Zionism and long-term friendships.

Bernie’s mega-fund shared many signs with recent high level scams: The constant high returns, unmatched by any other broker; a lack of third party oversight; a backroom accounting firm physically incapable of auditing the multi-billion dollar operation; a broker-dealer operation directly under his thumb and the total obfuscation of what he was actually investing in. The obvious similarity of signs with other fraudsters were overlooked by the rich and famous, the sophisticated investors and high paid consultants, the Harvard MBA’s and the entire army of regulators from the Security and Exchange Commissions (SEC) because they were totally embedded in the corrupt culture of ‘take the money and run’ and ‘if you’re making it, don’t ask questions’. The reputation of the superior wisdom of a seemingly successful Jewish Wall Streeter fed into the self-delusions of the wealthy and the stereotypes held by millionaire Gentiles.

The Big Swindle


Madoff’s investment fund only dealt with a limited clientele of multi-millionaire and billionaires who kept their funds in for the long haul; the occasional withdrawal were limited in amount and were easily covered by soliciting new funds from new investors fighting to have access to Madoff’s money management. The long-term big investors looked toward passing their investments to their kin or eventual retirement. The wealthy lawyers, dentists, surgeons, distinguished Ivy league professors and others who might need to draw from their funds for an occasional fancy wedding or celebrity-studded bar-mitzvah, could draw from their funds because Madoff had no problem covering the withdrawal by attracting funds from rich owners of sweat shop garment factories, dangerous meat packing outfits and slumlords. Madoff was no Robin Hood, his philanthropic and charity contributions facilitated access to the rich and wealthy who served on the boards of the recipient institutions and proved that he was ‘one of them’ a kind of super-rich ‘intimate’ of the same elite class. The shock, awe and heart attacks that followed Madoff’s confession that he was ‘running a Ponzi scheme’ drew as much anger for the money lost and the fall from the moneyed class as for the embarrassment of knowing that the world’s biggest exploiters and smartest swindlers on Wall Street, were completely ‘taken’ by one of their own. Not only did they suffer big losses but their self-image of themselves as rich because they are so smart and of ‘superior stock’ was utterly shattered: They saw themselves as suffering the same fate as all the schmucks they had previously swindled, exploited and dispossessed in their climb to the top. There is nothing worse for the ego of a respectable swindler than to be trumped by a bigger swindler. As a result, a number of the biggest losers have so far refused to give their names or the amount they lost, working instead through lawyers fighting off other losers.

The Positive Side of Madoff’s Mega-Swindle (The Inadvertent Hand of Justice)


While it is understandable that the super-rich and wealthy, who have lost a large portion of their retirement and investment funds are unanimous in their condemnation and cries of betrayal of trust, and the editorials of all the prestigious newspapers and weeklies have joined the chorus of moral critics, there is much to praise in Madoff’s deeds, even if such praise was not at the heart of his fraudulent endeavor.

It is worthwhile to list the inadvertent positive outcomes of Madoff’s mega-swindle. First of all the swindle of $50 plus billion dollars may make a big dent on US Zionist funding of illegal Israeli colonial settlements in the Occupied Territories, lessen funding for AIPAC’s purchase of Congressional influence and financing of propaganda campaigns in favor of a pre-emptive US military attack against Iran. Most investors will have to lower or eliminate their purchase of Israel bonds, which subsidize the Jewish State’s military budget.

Secondly, the swindle has further discredited the highly speculative hedge funds already reeling from massive withdrawals because of deep losses. Madoff’s funds were one of the last ‘respected’ operations still drawing new investors, but with the latest revelations it may accelerate their demise. The dismissed promoters may finally have to perform an honest, productive day’s work.

Thirdly, Madoff’s long-term, large-scale fraud was not detected by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) despite its claims of at least two investigations. As a result, there is a total loss of credibility. More generally, the SEC’s failure demonstrates the incapacity of capitalist government regulatory agencies to detect mega frauds. This failure raises the question of whether alternatives to investing in Wall Street are better suited to protect savings and pension funds.

Fourthly, Madoff’s long-term association with NASDAQ, including his chairmanship, while he was defrauding his clients of billions, strongly suggests that the members and leaders of this stock exchange are incapable of recognizing a crook, and are prone to overlook felonious behavior of ‘one of their own’. In other words, the investing public can no longer look to holders of high posts in NASDAQ as a sign of probity. After Madoff it may signal time to look for a king-size mattress for safe keeping of what remains of a family’s wealth.

The fifth point is that the investment advisors from top banks in Europe, Asia and the US managing billions of funds did not carry out the most elementary due diligence of Madoff’s operation. Apart from severe bank losses, tens of thousands of influential, affluent and super-rich lost their entire accumulated wealth. The result is total loss of confidence in the leading banks and financial instruments as well as the general discrediting of ‘expert knowledge’. The result is a weakening of the financial stranglehold over investor behavior and the demise of an important sector of the parasitic ‘rentier’ class, which gains without producing any useful commodities or providing needed services.

The sixth point is that since most of the money stolen by Madoff came from the upper classes around the world, his behavior has reduced inequalities – he is the ‘greatest leveler’ since the introduction of the progressive income tax. By ruining billionaires and bankrupting millionaires, Madoff has lessened their capacity to use their wealth to influence politicians in their favor – thus increasing the potential political influence of the less affluent sectors of class society…and inadvertently strengthening democracy against the financial oligarchs.

A seventh point can be made that by swindling life-long friends, self-same ethno-religious investors, narrow ethnically defined country club members and close family members, Madoff demonstrates that finance capital shows no respect for any of the pieties of everyday life: Great and small, holy and profane, all are subordinated to the rule of capital.

Eighth, among the many ruined investors in New York and New England, there are a number of mega slumlords (real estate moguls), sweatshop owners (fancy name-brand clothes and toy manufacturers) and others who barely paid the minimum wage to their women and immigrant laborers, evicted poor tenants and swindled employees out of their pensions before moving their operations to China. In other words, Madoff’s swindle was a kind of secular ‘divine’ retribution for past and present crimes against labor and the poor. Needless to say, this ‘unconscious Robin Hood’ did not redistribute the money fleeced from the employers to their workers, he reinvested part of it in charities which enhanced his philanthropic image and to payout to some of his early investors so sustain the overall Ponzi scam.

Point number nine is that Madoff struck a severe blow against anti-Semites who claim that there is a ‘close-knit Jewish conspiracy to defraud the Gentiles’, laying that canard to rest once and for all. Among Bernard Madoff’s principle victims were his closest Jewish friends and colleagues, people who shared Seder meals and frequented the same upscale temples in Long Island and Palm Beach.

Bernie was discriminating in accepting clients, but it was on the basis of their wealth and not their national origin, race, religion or sexual preference. He was very ecumenical and a strong backer of globalization. There was nothing ethnocentric about Madoff: He defrauded the Anglo-Chinese bank HSBC of $1 billion dollars and several billions from the Dutch arm of the Belgian bank Fortes. $1.4 billion was from the Royal Bank of Scotland, the French bank BNP Paribas, the Spanish bank, Banco Santander, the Japanese Nomura; not to mention hedge funds in London and the US, which have admitted holdings in Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. Indeed Bernie was emblematic of the modern up-to-date, politically correct, multicultural, international…swindler. The ease with which the super rich of Europe forked their fortunes over caused one Madrid-based business consultant to observe that, “picking off Spain’s wealthiest was like clubbing seals…” (Financial Times, December 18, 2008 p.16)

The tenth point is that Madoff’s swindle will likely promote greater self-criticism and a more distrustful attitude toward other potential confidence people posing as reliable financial know-it-alls. Among self-critical Jews, they are less likely to confide in brokers simply because they are zealous backers of Israel and generous contributors to Zionist fund drives. That is no longer an adequate guarantee of ethical behavior and a certificate of good conduct. In fact it may raise suspicion of brokers who are excessively ardent boosters of Israel and promise consistent high returns to local Zionist affiliates – asking themselves whether this business about ‘what is good for the …’ is really a cover for another scam.

The final and 11th point is the demise of Madoff’s enterprise and his wealthy liberal Jewish victims will adversely affect contributions to the 52 Major Jewish American Organizations, numerous foundations in Boston, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, as well as the Clinton/Schumer militarist wing of the Democratic Party (Madoff bankrolled both of them as well as other unconditional Congressional supporters of Israel). This may open Congress to greater debate on Middle East policy without the usual high volume attacks.

Conclusion


Madoff’s swindle and fraudulent behavior is not the result of a personal moral failure. It is the product of a systemic imperative and the economic culture, which informs the highest circles of our class structure. The paper economy, hedge funds and all the ‘sophisticated financial instruments’ are all ‘Ponzi schemes’ – they are not based on producing and selling goods and services. They are financial bets on future financial paper growth based on securing future buyers to pay off earlier cash ins.

The ‘failure’ of the SEC is totally predictable and systemic: The regulators are selected from the regulatees, are beholden to them and defer to their judgments, claims and audit sheets. They are structured to ‘miss the signs’ and to avoid ‘over-regulating’ their financial superiors. Madoff operated in a milieu of a Wall Street where everything goes, where impunity for mega-bailouts for mega swindlers is the norm. As an individual swindler, he out-defrauded some of his bigger institutional competitors on the Street. The whole system of rewards and prestige goes to those best able to juggle the books, to cover the paper trails and who have willing victims begging to get fleeced. What a mensch, this Madoff!

In a few days, one individual, Bernard Madoff, has struck a bigger blow against global financial capital, Wall Street and the US Zionist Lobby/Israel-First Agenda than the entire US and European left combined over the past half century! He has been more successful in reducing vast wealth disparities in New York than all the white, black, Christian and Jewish, reform and mainline Democratic and Republican governors and Mayors over the past two centuries.

Some right-wing conspiracy theorists are claiming that Bernie is a secret Islamic-Palestinian agent (from Hamas) who set out to deliberately undermine the financial base of the Jewish State of Israel and its most powerful, affluent and generous US backers and foundations. Others claim that he is a closet Marxist whose swindles were carefully designed to discredit Wall Street and to funnel billions into clandestine radical organizations – after all… does anyone know where the lost billions have gone? Unlike the leftist pundits, bloggers and protest marchers, whose earnest and public activities have had no effect on the rich and powerful, Madoff has aimed his blows where it hurts the most: Their mega-bank accounts, their confidence in the capitalist system, their self-esteem and, yes, even their cardiac well-being.

Does that mean we on the left should form a Bernie Madoff Defense Committee and call for a bailout in line with Paulson’s bailout of his Citibank cronies? Should we proclaim “Equal bailout for equal swindlers!”? Should we advocate his flight (or his right of return) to Israel to avoid a trial? It might not fly with his many Jewish victims to make the case for an Israeli retirement for Bernie.

There is no reason to mount the barricades for Bernard Madoff. It’s enough to recognize that he has inadvertently rendered an historic service to popular justice by undermining some of the financial props of a class-ridden injustice system.

Postscript


Was it out of sheer admiration or because of some covert linkages with Madoff that our current Attorney General Michael Mukasey is removing himself from the investigation? Others of equal importance and influence are most certainly tied in the Madoff Affair, and not just the ‘victims’. We are facing a serious case of matters of State … No one can believe that a single person could by himself pull off a scam of this size and duration. Nor can any serious investigator believe that $50 billion dollars has simply ‘disappeared’ or been squirreled into personal accounts.

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 8

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 12

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16



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