Friday, June 20, 2014

Kill the Messenger: Israel orders dismantling of camera that captured murder of Palestinian boys

On 15 May, Israeli security forces fatally shot Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, at a demonstration near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia. Four days after the killings, on 19 May, Defence for Children International—Palestine (DCI-Palestine) released footage from Zayed’s security cameras that showed the boys walking slowly in a calm scene when they were shot.

Now the Israeli military has ordered Fakher Zayed, the man whose security cameras captured the closed circuit TV footage that shows Israeli security forces shooting the two teenaged boys, to dismantle his cameras within 24 hours or face legal proceedings (The footage and an earlier interview with Zayed can be seen in the DCI-Palestine video above).

The Israeli military had already confiscated Zayed’s recording equipment on 22 May, and on 13 June seized all other recording equipment in the area — such as that owned by other shopkeepers. They now demand that Zayed remove his security camera as well, from which a live stream can be watched but not saved for subsequent viewing or examination.

On 22 May, CNN released its own footage from the day’s events showing an Israeli security officer shoot in the direction of Nuwara. The soldier caught firing the gun in that footage was suspended. On 11 June the autopsy on Nuwara was completed. It indicated the boy had been killed by live ammunition, confirming all other physical evidence and eyewitness reports.

In the face of the autopsy and video footage, the Israeli military continues to claim that the footage was doctored and that no live ammunition was fired. It is currently conducting its own investigation into the killings.

“You are nothing”

According to statements given to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and DCI-Palestine, on the afternoon of 17 June, four Israeli military vehicles and over twenty Israeli soldiers arrived at Zayed’s carpentry shop in Beitunia while he was making deliveries, and warned an unnamed witness, “if [Zayed] is not here in five minutes we are going to burn this carpentry shop down.”

When Zayed returned, the Israeli soldiers “confiscated his identification document, told him and his employees that he was not being arrested but taken for questioning, and drove him to the nearby Ofer military base,” as DCI-Palestine and HRW reported.

At the military base, the military officers repeated their original allegation that his footage was forged; and told Zayed that he was “up against a very powerful force.” He said that they told him, “We will squish you like a bug, you are nothing” and threatened to “unleash dogs on my children.”

The videos prompted international attention and outcry. After reviewing the footage, witness statements, and photographs, Human Rights Watch called the shootings a “willful killing of civilians” and a “war crime.” But it must be noted: while the attention these killings garnered is exceptional, the use of lethal force by the Israeli military during demonstrations by Palestinians is not: in February, Amnesty International published “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank,” a report that documented Israel’s use of force against Palestinians protesters. In 2013 alone, for example, 22 people were killed, 14 during demonstrations.

Speaking about his interrogation by the Israeli military, Zayed told HRW and DCI-Palestine:“They told me that the video I gave to the press was fabricated, that everything I said and all my testimonies are a lie, that this is a serious violation of the law, and that I made the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] look bad and caused a lot of problems.”

On 13 June, the Israeli military, led by “Sabri” (the same commander that detained Zayed this Tuesday) came to Beitunia and confiscated all video recording equipment in the vicinity of Zayed’s shop.

DCI—Palestine and Human Rights Watch have stated that these actions suggest the military is not conducting “good faith investigations” into the killings.

Israeli impunity has always been guaranteed by the military’s insistence on conducting internal investigations — for most of which the findings have yet to be revealed. Clearly, Zayed’s camera poses a threat to this impunity. More

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Israel elected to leadership of UN committee on “Decolonization”

Just when it appeared that the United Nations could not be more ineffective in protecting Palestinian rights and holding Israel accountable for violating them, here comes the news that Israel has been elected as vice-chair of the UN Special Commitee on Decolonization – which deals among other things with matters related to Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians examine the ruins of
buildings demolished by Israeli
occupation forces in eastern Jerusalem,

According to UN minutes, the representative of Israel, the world’s last settler-colonial power, received 74 votes for the post, despite strong opposition from the Arab Group of UN member states.

Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Arab states, described Israel as a “State that violated the United Nations Charter and international law. Because its track record was rife with murder and its occupation had lasted more than 66 years, Israel was not qualified to preside over questions pertaining to Palestinian refugees, peacekeeping and the investigation of its own illegal practices.”

The Arab states had demanded a recorded vote, an unusual step, prompting objections from the ambassador of the United Kingdom which is a member of the Group of Western European and Other States that nominated Israel.

The Balfour Declaration

Canada took the opportunity to express its “unflinching support for Israel” and the United States said it “unequivocally supported Israel’s election.”

Saudi Arabia – whose own membership of the UN Human Rights Council has drawn much criticism – said that Israel’s election was “the moral equivalent of placing the apartheid regime of South Africa in charge of a committee to end racism.”

Theater of the absurd

Israel thanked its supporters, but perhaps its actions spoke louder than words. While this theater of the absurd was playing out in New York, Israeli occupation forces stepped up demolitions of Palestinian homes to make way for colonial settlements.

Its election comes just weeks after Israel announced yet another massive expansion of illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank.

On Wednesday alone, Israeli demolitions left seven Palestinian families homelessin the West Bank.

And take a look at the photostory by Silvia Boarini documenting Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouins in the southern Naqab (“Negev”) region of present-day Israel.

These latest measures of ethnic cleansing come amid Israel’s assault on West Bank cities over the past week, allegedly in search of three missing colonial settlers. Israel has so far abducted more than 300 Palestinians, raided 750 homes as well as dozens of charities and the Birzeit University campus.

If there were a UN Committee on How to Occupy and Colonize, Israel would indeed be the best candidate to lead it. More

The British are at the root of the Palestinian's problems as they, via the illegal Balfour Declaration, allowed the Jews to settle in Palestine (there was no israel then). And they did so while running the southern part of the ex-Ottoman Empire under a Mandate from the League of Nations. A mandate to govern the State of Trans-Jordan and Iraq on behalf of the citizens thereof. Editor


Monday, June 9, 2014

“I felt something hot inside”: Palestinian teen describes Nakba Day shooting by Israeli soldiers

On 15 May, two Palestinian teens – Muhammad Abu al-Thahir and Nadim Nuwara – were fatally shot in cold blood by one or more Israeli snipers, during a Nakba Day demonstration in the village of Beitunia, near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank.

That same day, a third teenager, 15-year-old Muhammad al-Azzeh, was shot and seriously injured, suffering a gunshot wound to the chest and left lung. “I felt something hot inside,” he tells Defence for Children International-Palestine Section in a hospital bed interview seen in the video above.

New security camera footage, also shown in the video, captures the moment he was hit. It shows that al-Azzeh was nowhere near any Israeli soldiers and could have posed no plausible threat to anyone.

Al-Azzeh says he was about sixty meters from the positions of the Israeli occupation forces when he was shot.

Despite widespread media attention and calls for investigations from international and local human rights organizations, Israel continues to cover up and guarantee the impunity of the occupation soldiers responsible for the Nakba Day Beitunia killings.

Don’t let Israeli army brainwash you, warns powerful short film - watch

A new dark, psychological short film by Nadim Hamed produced by Eyad Barghouti in cooperation with the Palestinian civil society groups 7amleh and Baladna makes a bold statement against Israel’s latest attempts to enlist Palestinian citizens of Israel in the occupation army.

Project X features Samer Bisharat (star of Oscar-nominated Omar) as a youth who is brainwashed into serving in the army. But instead of gaining the privileges promised by a Palestinian collaborator, the young man realizes only devastating psychological and social costs as a result of his choice to serve.

The artistically potent short takes up one of the most pressing issues facing the nearly 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel who face daily systematic discrimination from education to employment and severe restrictions on land ownership.


Israel has long sought to repress national identity amongst the Palestinians who managed to remain on the land conquered by Zionist forces in 1948 when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from approximately 500 villages and cities.

The latest effort aims to drive a sectarian wedge between Palestinian Christians and Muslims in present-day Israel. In February, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, approved a law identifying Palestinian Christians as a non-Arab minority group.

According to journalist Jonathan Cook, “The measure is a minor one: It provides Christians with separate representation in the national employment advisory council. But it lays the foundations for a much greater scheme declared by [chairman of the ruling Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu faction Yariv] Levin to create a Christian nationality, leaving the traditional ‘Arab’ one to refer to Muslims only.”

Meanwhile, Israel has groomed a handful of clergy and members of the Christian community to promote military service among Christians, and recently sent out recruitment papers to Palestinian Christian youths.

Except for minority groups such as the Druze, Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise approximately 20 percent of the state’s population, are not required to perform army service.

Many state benefits are tied to army service, including employment, and “Israel may be banking on desperation driving some youths into the army’s hands,” as Ali Abunimah has noted.


However, the reruitment efforts are being met with resistance by Palestinian students at Israeli universities and anti-enlistment campaigning by Palestinian civil society organizations.

Meanwhile, a growing number of Druze youths are refusing to serve in the army and the state is facing an organized campaign within the community against the compulsory enlistment.

Eighteen-year-old Omar Saad has served approximately 150 days in prison since 4 December, when he reported to an Israeli military induction center to declare his refusal to serve in the army.

Saad, one of the longest-serving conscientious objectors in Israel, is currently recovering at home from a liver infection which his father has blamed on the poor conditions of the military prison where Saad was being held.

Another conscientious objector, 18-year-old Orthodox Jew Uriel Ferera, was given a second ten-day prison sentence on 25 May for his refusal to serve in the military, the anti-militarization group New Profile reported. [UPDATE: shortly after this post was published, New Profile reported that Ferera was handed down a third sentence yesterday — this time twenty days — of imprisonment.]

New Profile and a number of other human rights, community and political organizations, including Amnesty International, Baladna and the Druze Initiative Committee, have launched an online petition calling on Israel to end the detention of conscientious objectors. More


Friday, June 6, 2014

Why did The New York Times ignore Palestine’s Christians during Pope’s visit?

The New York Times’ coverage of the Pope’s recent visit to the Middle East demonstrates yet another facet of how the US’ most important media outlet obfuscates Palestinian identity and realities and misinforms the public on Palestine.

Photo by: (Shadi Hatem / APA images)

In seven news articles about the Pope’s visit by Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner totaling 9,000 words, the paper fails to mention even once, or to even hint at, the existence of Palestinian Christians, despite their very significant presence in the towns that the Pope visited — Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and even in Amman, Jordan — and Palestinian Christians’ intense interest in the Pope’s visit.

Ironically, the single instance in seven articles in which The Times acknowledges the existence of an Arab Christian signals another key category of obfuscation of Palestinian identity employed by their news reporters (“Seeking balance on Mideast visit, Pope pleases few,” 21 May 2014).

The Times typically prefers not to recognize Palestinian citizens of Israel. So in one instance in the seven articles, Rudoren and Kershner identify a Palestinian Christian citizen of Israel as “an Israeli Arab and a Christian,” despite Rudoren’s own acknowledgement in a 2012 article that “most now prefer Palestinian citizens of Israel” (“Service to Israel tugs at identity of Arab citizens,” 12 July 2012).

Through careful avoidance of the phrases “Palestinian Christian” and “Palestinian citizen of Israel,” The New York Times’ coverage of the Pope’s visit collapses and simplifies Palestinian identity, and reinforces the impression that the Palestinian people are exclusively Muslims who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This framing by obscures the more complex reality that Palestinians are both Muslims and Christians, who live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, but who also live within Israel and as refugees in the diaspora in places including Amman.

The Times’ framing pits Israel in a conflict with Palestinian Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, wittingly or unwittingly supporting Israeli efforts to divide and rule the Palestinian people. The paper’s framing ignores the way many Palestinians view their own situation — as a people facing systematic discrimination by Israel, whether they live in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, within Israel or asrefugees in the diaspora.


The Times’ framing, which targets a US audience including many who hold stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, also perpetuates the falsehood that Israelis and Palestinians are engaged in a religious conflict, rather than a conflict resulting from decades of Israeli ethnic cleansing, military occupation and discrimination.

Analysis of the seven articles reveals systematic choices by the paper. The Timesnotes the Pope’s participation in five events, but remarkably never once mentions that among the hundreds — and in some instances thousands — of attendees at these five events with the Pope were large numbers of Arab Christians.

For example, on 24 May, The Times reported on a Catholic Mass at a stadium in Amman with a communion for “1,000 schoolchildren,” covered a palace ceremony with Jordan’s king and “200 diplomats and Christian dignitaries” and wrote about an event at a national park on the Jordan River — without indicating anything about the attendees themselves.

And in a 25 May article, The Times describes the Pope leading “a spirited Mass in a crowded Manger Square” in Bethlehem, with no mention of who made up the crowd. The next day, the paper reported that the Pope celebrated an “intimate mass” in the Cenacle in Jerusalem, again with no explanation of who else was at the mass. Uneducated readers were likely left confused, perhaps guessing the attendees were American and European Christians visiting the Holy Land.

Never identified

Palestinian Christians who are quoted in the articles commenting on the Pope’s visit are never identified as both Palestinian and Christian. Jamal Khadar is calledthe “head of a West Bank seminary and a spokesman for the pope’s visit,” Issa Kassissieh is identified as “the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See,” and in the same article, Hanan Ashrawi is labeled a representative “of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee.”

Taken individually, the failure to identify Arab Christians at an event or in a quotation is of little significance, nor is it always necessary. However, Arab Christians’ almost total absence from all seven articles about the visit of a pre-eminent Christian leader to the Middle East adds up to a glaring omission, attributable either to laziness, insensitivity or design.

On top of leaving out the Palestinian identity of the single “Arab” Christian noted in the seven articles, a second pre-visit article includes another unidentified Palestinian citizen of Israel, Mazen Ghanaim — the mayor of Sakhnin, in the northernGalilee — in a discussion about “Israel’s Arab citizens” (“As Pope’s visit nears, hate crimes a concern in Israel,” 19 May 2014).

But “Arab Israelis,” as The Times and the Israeli government prefer to call them, share the same families, culture and history as Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. They are only divided by Israeli boundaries and prefer to be identified as “Palestinian citizens of Israel” as Rudoren noted in 2012, to indicate that shared identity, as well as the shared oppression by Israel of the indigenous non-Jewish population.


Other mainstream coverage of the Pope’s visit reveals what The New York Timesdid not. The Boston Globe reported that Christians in Jordan are “prominent in the economic and political elite,” and that “the overwhelming majority of the Catholic population in the Holy Land is Arab and Palestinian … The previous Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michele Sabbah, was a Palestinian, and the incumbent, Fouad Twal, is a Jordanian with deep affinity for the Palestinian experience” (“Francis invites Palestinian, Israeli leaders to meet,” 25 May 2014).

The Daily Beast explained that the mass at Manger Square was “attended by thousands of Palestinian Christians,” and Israel’s normally right-wing Jerusalem Post interviewed many Palestinian Christians who attended.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Yousef Daher, “a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, who helped organize the papal visit to Bethlehem.”

The Wall Street Journal ran a long story about Arab Christians, and noted some of the problems faced by Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem. Al Jazeera America noted some of the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian Christians’ attendance at the events with the Pope.

The Times has received plenty of criticism in the past for the paper’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians, including repeated problems in coverage of the Nakba( the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland leading up to and after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948), former bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s numerous conflicts of interest, reporter Isabel Kershnar’s conflict of interest, current reporter Jodi Rudoren’s insensitivity to Israeli violence against Palestinians in Gaza, The Times’ compliance with an Israeli gag order and reliance on Israeli military sources, and the rejection of a commissioned video documentary on racism against Africans in Israel (later published by The Nation magazine and republished on The Electronic Intifada).

There is a history of the Israel lobby in the United States working to mobilize Christian support at the expense of the majority of Israel’s own Christian citizens — who are Palestinian. In a 60 Minutes television segment on CBS in 2012, then Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren took the liberty of speaking for Palestinian Christians, who in turn countered his very assertions on the same segment.

The Israeli government, and elements within it, have recently attempted to introduce legislation stipulating that Palestinian Christians are “not Arab” (therefore not Palestinian), and to push Palestinian Christian citizens of Israel to serve in the Israeli military.

Ultimately, what is most dangerous about The New York Times’ shoddy journalism is that, whether intentionally or not, the paper is aligning itself with Israel’s attempts at decoupling Palestinian and Christian identity. More

Patrick Connors is a member of Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.

Andrew Kadi is a human rights activist and digital media specialist currently serving on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Israel plans to outlaw Islamic party

NAZARETH, Israel - Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told his cabinet last week that the northern branch of the Islamic Movement should be outlawed as a terror organisation, according to a leak published in the Israeli media.

Netanyahu has reportedly already established a ministerial team to examine banning the movement, which is led by Sheikh Raed Salah. Three sources at the cabinet meeting provided confirmation to the Haaretz newspaper.

The planned crackdown coincides with claims by the Israeli security services that the Islamic Movement is cooperating with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic faction that rules Gaza, to help the latter retain influence in East Jerusalem.

“Outlawing the Islamic Movement is intended to send a clear message to all Palestinians, in Israel and the occupied territories, that Israel will not tolerate political Islam,” said Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University.

Strengthen terror

Israel has intensified its attempts to isolate and weaken Hamas since the Gaza group signed a reconciliation deal in April with Fatah, the party of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu is fearful that the agreement may bolster Palestinian efforts in the international arena towards statehood.

The formal declaration this week of a Hamas-Fatah unity government prompted Netanyahu to warn: “This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism.” Ahmad Saadi, a Palestinian political analyst, said moves against the Islamic Movement should also be seen as part of a wider attack on the political representation of Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the population.

He noted that Israeli parliament had raised the electoral threshold in March to the point where it was doubtful any Palestinian parties could be elected. “Israel would prefer that there is no Arab leadership of any sort organising the community.”

Al-Aqsa in danger

The Islamic Movement, in particular, has been successful in challenging key Israeli policies at the highly sensitive site of the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem and among the Bedouin in the Negev region.

Israel has been seeking to strengthen its control over the mosque site, which it refers to as the Temple Mount because it is assumed to have been built over two long-destroyed Jewish temples. Salah has mobilised tens of thousands of Muslim followers in Israel to take an active role there under the campaign slogan “al-Aqsa is in danger”. In recent weeks, following the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks late April, there has been a spate of violent clashes between young Muslims and Israeli security forces at the site.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Movement’s popularity has soared among the Negev’s Bedouin in recent years. Israeli officials have blamed the movement for being behind mass protests last year that scotched controversial legislation to move 40,000 Bedouin off their ancestral lands to make way for Jewish communities. “Judaisation of Jerusalem and the Negev are big issues for the Israeli right,” said Saadi.

Israel not recognised

In the 1990s, the Islamic Movement split into two branches. A southern wing is represented in the Israeli parliament, while the northern branch refuses to recognise Israel and does not participate in national elections.

Although the Islamic Movement has ideological sympathies with Hamas, Salah has publicly disavowed violence.

The movement’s popularity among the Palestinian minority is based largely on its charitable and welfare work, and on an image of Salah as incorruptible and persecuted by Israel.

He has been arrested many times. On several occasions charges have been later withdrawn or convictions secured with evidence provided solely by security officials.

Last month Salah was fined £1,500 for obstructing security officials, after he tried to stop his wife being strip-searched three years ago as the couple returned from a trip to Jordan. Zahi Nujeidat, a spokesman, said the Islamic Movement’s legitimacy derived from its wide support. “We do not need a licence from the government. We will stick to our principles and not be intimidated.”

Comparison with Kach

At last week’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu compared the northern wing of the Islamic Movement to Kach, a Jewish extremist group that was declared a terror organisation in 1994. That was shortly after one of its members, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 28 Muslim worshippers in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque.

“There was no problem outlawing Kach, so there ought to be no problem doing this in the case of the Islamic Movement,” the Israeli prime minister reportedly told his ministers.

He was backed by the transport minister, Yisrael Katz, who noted that the Muslim Brotherhood had been designated a terror organisation in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. “Only in Israel do they [the Brotherhood] freely incite against the existence of the state. There has to be a stop to that,” he said.

Ofer Zalzberg, an Israeli analyst with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based conflict resolution organisation, said: “Israeli decision-makers are seizing an opportunity to act on long-standing concerns about political Islam. Given events in Egypt, the timing is convenient.” Saadi said the success of anti-Islamic parties in last month’s European elections may also have spurred Netanyahu into action.

Democracy at risk

According to the Israeli media, a ban on the Islamic Movement has been delayed by the justice ministry, which is concerned that the decision might not survive a petition to the Israeli supreme court.

Ghanem dismissed the suggestion that the Islamic Movement could be compared to Kach.

“Kach was a racist organisation with a clear intention to harm Arabs individually and collectively. It is still active and carrying out attacks through its supporters in the settler movement. Kach is a real threat, not the Islamic Movement.”

That assessment was shared in a Haaretz editorial, which feared that a ban would redefine terror in a way that “puts the principles of democracy at risk”. It noted that Netanyahu had refused to classify as terror organisations Jewish extremist groups that in recent years have been attacking Christian and Muslim sites in Israel and the occupied territories.

As a result of the hostile regional climate in the past few years, the Islamic Movement had adopted less radical and confrontational positions than a decade ago, said Ghanem.

“It espouses a political view of what kind of state Israel should be - a position different from, but certainly no more extreme than, that taken by some members of Netanyahu’s government.” Both wanted their own religious-ethnic group to dominate, he said.

Hamas link?

Leaks from last week’s cabinet meeting were followed by reports that a Hamas leader, Mahmoud Toameh, had revealed during interrogation that his group was directing money to the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Toameh, who was arrested at an Israeli-controlled crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on 14 April, reportedly said Hamas was paying youths from the Islamic Movement to study at seminaries in the al-Aqsa compound.

According to the Israeli media, the youths were chiefly employed to fight with Israeli police and “harass Jews” - a reference to mounting tensions over an influx of Jewish extremists trying to pray at the compound.

Zalzberg said Israel was worried that religious activism at the al-Aqsa compound of the kind promoted by the Islamic Movement might lead to intensified clashes with Israeli police that could damage relations with Egypt and Jordan.

Both Hamas and the Islamic Movement have been concerned that most Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza are unable to reach the al-Aqsa site because of Israeli movement restrictions, leaving the compound vulnerable to an Israeli takeover. Israeli politicians recently tried to introduce legislation to force Islamic authorities to share control of the site with Israel.

Hamas leaders have been barred from occupied East Jerusalem in recent years too. Following Palestinian national elections in 2006, three legislators from Jerusalem had their residency revoked and were expelled to the West Bank. In their absence, the Islamic Movement has taken an increasingly prominent role in Jerusalem and at al-Aqsa.

Anti-Israeli crusade

Moshe Arens, a former defence minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party, wrote this week that Salah’s party was “far more dangerous” than either Hamas or Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shiite group that Israel engaged in a month-long war in 2006. He called it “an enemy within” that was “gradually mobilising the Muslim population in Israel in an anti-Israeli crusade”.

Discussions on outlawing the Islamic Movement took place as the cabinet approved plans to set up a ministerial committee to examine the economic development of Israel’s Palestinian minority. It will be headed by Yaacov Perry, a former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service.

Zalzberg said the committee was intending to create a distinction between loyal and disloyal Arab citizens.

“The government’s strategy is to offer incentives to those who are considered loyal, and limit the rights of groups not seen as acting in accordance with the state’s objectives.”

Last week the Islamic Movement announced that it had discovered bugging equipment on a phone line in Salah’s office recently installed by Israel’s national telecom company. More


The death of Hugo Chávez

It didn't matter where you read about him in the mainstream press, within the first few comments someone would always show up to denounce Chávez as a "dictator" and decry the "damage" he'd done to the Venezuelan economy.

Even on the day after his death the vile Murdoch press wouldn't give it a rest, printing a revoltingly gleeful piece the Boston Herald deriding him as a "despot".


The problem with most of these right-wing criticisms is that they are completely inaccurate. Chavez won democratic elections with huge majorities time and again. Not only did he win elections, he also established in Venezuela a modern democratic voting system that should be the envy of the world.


In Venezuela voters first register by inputting their name, national ID number and thumbprint into a console. They then cast an electronic vote for their preferred party candidate on a touchscreen. Their vote is counted electronically and is also printed so that the voter can confirm that it has been recorded properly before putting this paper copy in a ballot box (the contents of which is later cross-checked with the electronic data to ensure the system has not been manipulated). Voters then sign a form to confirm they have cast a vote. Before they leave, the little finger on their left hand is marked with indelible purple ink so they cannot return to vote a second time. External observers and domestic analysts have praised the procedure as one of the most sophisticated systems in the world. Luis Guillermo Piedra, of the National Electoral Council stated that "our system is 100% fraud proof and has been recognised as such by outside political institutions". Former US president Jimmy Carter has described the Venezuelan voting system as superior to that of the US and Forbes even suggested the US copy Venezuela's electoral system.

Chávez inspired such strong feeling that the turnout at his last election was over 80.5%. 55.1% of voters cast their vote for Chávez, but a huge 44.3% cast their votes for his rival Henrique Capriles. More

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Noam Chomsky: Why Obama made Edward Snowden the world's most wanted criminal

Power remains strong when it remains in the dark. Snowden's crime, says Noam Chomsky, is that he has exposed power to the sunlight, where it will evaporate

In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.

The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, "No Place to Hide."

The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus - in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.

Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.

It is of no slight import that the project is being executed in one of the freest countries in the world, and in radical violation of the US Constitution's Bill of Rights, which protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures," and guarantees the privacy of their "persons, houses, papers and effects."

Much as government lawyers may try, there is no way to reconcile these principles with the assault on the population revealed in the Snowden documents.

It is also well to remember that defense of the fundamental right to privacy helped to spark the American Revolution. In the 18th century, the tyrant was the British government, which claimed the right to intrude freely into the homes and personal lives of American colonists. Today it is American citizens' own government that arrogates to itself this authority.

Britain retains the stance that drove the colonists to rebellion, though on a more restricted scale, as power has shifted in world affairs. The British government has called on the NSA "to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses, swept up by its dragnet," The Guardian reports, working from documents provided by Snowden.

British citizens (like other international customers) will also doubtless be pleased to learn that the NSA routinely receives or intercepts routers, servers and other computer network devices exported from the United States so that it can implant surveillance tools, as Greenwald reports in his book.

As the colossus fulfills its visions, in principle every keystroke might be sent to President Obama's huge and expanding databases in Utah.

In other ways too, the constitutional lawyer in the White House seems determined to demolish the foundations of our civil liberties. The principle of the presumption of innocence, which dates back to Magna Carta 800 years ago, has long been dismissed to oblivion.

Recently The New York Times reported the "anguish" of a federal judge who had to decide whether to allow the force-feeding of a Syrian prisoner who is on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.

No "anguish" was expressed over the fact that he has been held without trial for 12 years in Guantanamo, one of many victims of the leader of the Free World, who claims the right to hold prisoners without charges and to subject them to torture.

These exposures lead us to inquire into state policy more generally and the factors that drive it. The received standard version is that the primary goal of policy is security and defense against enemies.

The doctrine at once suggests a few questions: security for whom, and defense against which enemies? The answers are highlighted dramatically by the Snowden revelations.

Policy must assure the security of state authority and concentrations of domestic power, defending them from a frightening enemy: the domestic population, which can become a great danger if not controlled.

It has long been understood that information about the enemy makes a critical contribution to controlling it. In that regard, Obama has a series of distinguished predecessors, though his contributions have reached unprecedented levels, as we have learned from the work of Snowden, Greenwald and a few others.

To defend state power and private economic power from the domestic enemy, those two entities must be concealed - while in sharp contrast, the enemy must be fully exposed to state authority.

The principle was lucidly explained by the policy intellectual Samuel P. Huntington, who instructed us that "Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate."

Huntington added a crucial illustration. In his words, "you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine" at the outset of the Cold War.

Huntington's insight into state power and policy was both accurate and prescient. As he wrote these words in 1981, the Reagan administration was launching its war on terror - which quickly became a murderous and brutal terrorist war, primarily in Central America, but extending well beyond to southern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

From that day forward, in order to carry out violence and subversion abroad, or repression and violation of fundamental rights at home, state power has regularly sought to create the misimpression that it is terrorists that we are fighting, though there are other options: drug lords, mad mullahs seeking nuclear weapons, and other ogres said to be seeking to attack and destroy us.

Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim.

In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy. More

Source: Truthout