You may have seen the recent letter by the Israeli peace and justice group “Boycott From Within” (BfW) asking Bob Dylan to heed the Palestinian call for BDS and therefore not perform in Israel. The letter follows reports of Dylan’s 2011 summer tour, during which he will perform at Ramat Gan Stadium on June 20th.
The BfW letter hits all the right notes and speaks truth. It asks Dylan ”not to perform in Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights,” explaining that “a performance in Israel, today, is a vote of support for its policies of oppression.” The letter speaks of ethnic cleansing, land theft, martial law, air strikes, and massacres. It beseeches the folk legend, who has “been part of a civil rights movement,” to stand with the oppressed against the aggressor. BfW writes that “BDS is a powerful and united civil initiative in the face of a brutal military occupation and apartheid. It’s a nonviolent alternative to a waning armed struggle and it has reaped many successes and instilled much hope, in the past six years.”
A Ha’aretz article proudly notes that the Dylan concert will be held “where Leonard Cohen and Elton John recently performed,” and is being promoted by “Marcel Avraham, the promoter who organized the Leonard Cohen and Elton John concerts – as well as the upcoming Justin Bieber concert that will be held over Passover.”
So, will Bob Dylan – the man who wrote “Masters of War” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in 1963 – heed the call? Of course not. Although Dylan would appear to be the perfect political ally, his human and civil rights bona fides have faded over time – to the point of non-existence.
In 1971, Time Magazine reported that Dylan was “returning to is his Jewishness” and “getting into this ethnic Jewish thing.” A friend of his told the magazine, ”He’s reading all kinds of books on Judaism, books about the Jewish resistance like the Warsaw ghetto. He took a trip to Israel last year that no one was supposed to know about and even, it is rumored, gave a large donation to the Israeli government.” The article continues:
Dylan denied giving money to Israel or to the fanatical Jewish Defense League, but he confesses great admiration for that “Never again” action group and its reckless leader Rabbi Meir Kahane. “He’s a really sincere guy,” says Bob. “He’s really put it all together.”
Yes, you read that right. Bob Dylan said Meir Kahane, who favored the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and whose racist Kach party has since been banned from Israeli politics, is “a really sincere guy” who’s “really put it all together.”
In 1983, twenty years after he sang, “you don’t count the dead” and “you never ask questions, when God’s on your side,” Dylan penned a song in response to the international outrage over the devastating Israeli assault on Lebanon in 1982, which took the lives of nearly 18,000 Lebanese civilians and wounded about 30,000 others. The song did not mention the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, in which between 800 and 2,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were murdered. The Israeli Kahan Commission, published in February 1983, found that Israel bore “indirect responsibility” and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon “bears personal responsibility” for the massacre.
Rather, Dylan’s song, entitled “Neighborhood Bully” and featured on his Infidels album (which incidentally also contains the songs “Man of Peace” and “License to Kill“), is a bitter and indignant defense of Israel’s actions, an exercise in Zionist mythology, eternal victimization, and bogus “right to self-defense“ hasbara, that sounds like it was written collectively by Alan Dershowitz, Abe Foxman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Anthony Weiner, and Golda Meir.
Dylan sings of nameless (though obvious) “neighborhood bully,” labeled such by “his enemies” who “say he’s on their land” and have him “outnumbered about a million to one” with “no place to escape to, no place to run.” And that’s just the first verse.
The hasbara escalates as the song continues. Dylan sings of exile (“The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land”) and bigotry (“He’s always on trial for just being born”), of lonely survival and attempts at delegitization (“He’s criticized and condemned for being alive”), of the Osirak bombing, of deserts blooming. The only way to believe how thick the Zionist talking points are laid on is to listen to the whole song, or read the complete lyrics (copied below).
Unfortunately for the BDS community and the courageous activists of BfW, Bob Dylan will not be an ally in the fight for justice or international law. He made his choice decades ago. It is Dylan who can apparently no longer see “where the people are many and their hands are all empty, where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters, where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison, where the executioner’s face is always well hidden, where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten, where black is the color, where none is the number.”
And, although Dylan once claimed that he’d “tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, and reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,” he has decided to stand with those who aggress and oppress, with those who starve and deprive, with those who surround and fly-over and bomb hospitals and deny, with those who steal land and resources, with those who reinvent and erase history, with those who criminalize memory and prioritize ethnicity and religion.
By ignoring the call to boycott and by performing in Israel this summer, Dylan is solidifying his reputation as one who – when it counted most – didn’t stand for morality and humanity. Dylan once asked, “how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?” It seems that Dylan’s own answer to the Palestinians would be, “A while longer and don’t ask me to help.” He has become his own rhetorical character: the man who turns his head, pretending he just doesn’t see.
So, the questions remain. ”How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry? How many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died?” The answers are no longer simply blowing in the wind, however. They are in discourse and education, flash mobs and rallies, sit-ins and walk-outs. The answers are international law and humanitarian justice. The answer is promoting basic morality and common decency. The answer is raising public awareness. The answer is opposing settler-colonialism, military aggression, collective punishment, air strikes and assassinations, drone attacks and white phosphorous, tear gas and torture, ethnic cleansing, diplomatic immunity, war crime impunity, ethnocentrism and supremacism, racism and discrimination, apartheid and occupation. The answer is BDS.
And, as Bob Dylan told us himself, the times they are a-changing’.
Sadly, this time around, however, it seems Dylan does need a weatherman to know which way the wind’s blowing.
Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully
The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully
The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully
Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully
Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully
He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully
Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully
Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully
Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully
What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully
What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Iraq has decided to officially ban street protests in the capital Baghdad and limited approved demonstrations sites to three soccer stadiums, a security official said on Wednesday, according to reports.
“We have specified Al-Shaab, Kashafa and Zawraa stadiums as permitted sites for demonstrations in Baghdad instead of Ferdus or Tahrir squares,” the capital’s security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said at a news conference televised by state broadcaster Iraqiya TV.
The decision follows after regular demonstrations were held in Bagdad with thousands of people protesting against government corruption, poor basic services and unemployment.
“Many shop owners and street vendors have called us and complained to us because demonstrations have affected their work and the movement of traffic, “Major General Atta said.
Following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Iraqis have frequently been protesting since late February around the country, from the mainly Kurdish north to the Shiite south.
The authorities have responded by deploying guards, troops and internal security forces.
More than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted President Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s infrastructure remains severely damaged. The country suffers a chronic water shortage and electricity supply is intermittent making daily life difficult and leaving many Iraqis feeling frustrated.
Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharraf has asked for the revision of all contracts related to natural gas exports abroad, particularly to Israel.
Sharraf said on Wednesday that Cairo’s planned revision could bring Egypt an extra three to four billion dollars in revenues.
Israel is expected to be hit hard by the measure since Egypt supplies an estimated 40 percent of its gas.
The deal with Tel Aviv was a highly controversial issue during the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Four Israeli firms have signed agreements to import gas under a 20-year contract.
The agreement has been repeatedly challenged in Egyptian courts as it was without parliament’s consultation.
Sharraf will also meet with the Jordanian energy minister to discuss the gas deal with his country.
Opposition groups have long complained that Mubarak was selling natural gas to Israel at preferential prices.
The developments come as Egypt’s public prosecutor has summoned the former president and his son for questioning over corruption and the use of violence against peaceful protesters.
Earlier reports said Mubarak and his former petroleum minister were also being investigated for selling artificially cheap gas to the Israeli regime.
The chief prosecutor had received evidence that Mubarak and Sameh Fahmy had sold natural gas to Israel and several Western countries for under market prices.
Fahmy has recently told investigators that he was just carrying out orders from Mubarak.
However, Mubarak has rejected the corruption accusations as libel.
Even Tony Blair can’t save Palestinian bookseller to the stars
Munther Fahmi is known as the “bookseller of Jerusalem”. Among his customers are to be found Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Hollywood actress Uma Thurman.
In a city riven by political and social tensions, Mr Fahmi’s bookshop has provided an oasis of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, with well-known writers and scholars from both sides of the divide regularly invited to give readings and talk about their work.
But despite his high-profile connections, Mr Fahmi’s days in the city of his birth look to be numbered.
Israeli officials have told him that, after 16 years running his bookshop in the grounds of East Jerusalem’s landmark 19th-century hotel the American Colony, he is no longer welcome in either Israel or Jerusalem.
Two months ago he exhausted his legal options when Israel’s high court refused to overturn the deportation order. His only hope now rests with a governmental committee to which he has appealed on humanitarian grounds.
Mr Fahmi, 57, is far from optimistic. “My lawyer tells me applications from Palestinians are almost never accepted.”
The holder of an American passport for many years, Mr Fahmi said he was staying on a tourist visa that expired on 3 April. “If the committee rejects my case, I will be sent packing on a plane at very short notice.”
Mr Fahmi is one of thousands of Palestinians who over the past four decades have fallen foul of an Israeli policy stripping them of their right to live in Jerusalem, said Dalia Kerstein, director of Hamoked, an Israeli human rights group.
Although Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, in violation of international law, most of its Palestinian population received only Israeli residency permits, not citizenship.
According to Israeli figures, more than 13,000 Palestinians – from a current population of 260,000 in East Jerusalem – have had their residency revoked since then.
Ms Kerstein said the number of revocations had risen sharply in recent years, with more than 4,500 Palestinians losing residency in 2008 alone, the last year for which complete figures are available.
Israeli law stipulates that Palestinians in Jerusalem can be stripped of residency if they spent at least seven years abroad – defined as including the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza – or acquired a foreign passport.
Since a test case in 1988, the Israeli courts have backed revocations in cases where the authorities claim Palestinians have transferred their “centre of life” elsewhere.
“There is clearly a policy to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem and Israel to reduce what is called here the ‘Palestinian demographic threat’,” said Ms Kerstein. “It’s really a case of ethnic cleansing.”
Last week Hamoked and another human rights group, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri), petitoned Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the policy, arguing that it contravenes international law.
Oded Feller, a lawyer for Acri, said Palestinians in East Jerusalem were effectively “prisoners”, punished by Israel if they took part in a more globalized world.
“The problem for people like Munther is that the Israeli government and the courts treat them as though they are immigrants, ignoring the fact as the city’s native residents they have an inalienable right to live here,” Ms Kerstein said.
Like most other Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Mr Fahmi’s family declined Israeli citizenship in 1967. “We are Palestinians and Israel is occupying us. Why would we take citizenship and give a stamp of legitimacy to our occupation?”
But that decision left him and other Palestinians in Jerusalem in a precarious position.
Mr Fahmi’s residency was revoked – without his knowledge – during a long period spent in the United States, starting in 1975 when he left to study. He gained his American passport after marrying there and raising a family.
He decided to settle back in Jerusalem in 1995, after the signing of the Oslo accords. “I had seen Yasser Arafat [the Palestinian leader] and Yitzhak Rabin [Israel’s prime minister] shake hands in front of the White House. Naively, I thought it heralded a new era of reconciliation.”
For the last 16 years, he has been forced to exit and enter the country every few months on a tourist visa.
But Mr Fahmi learnt the full significance of his loss of residency 18 months ago, when Interior Ministry officials told him that, according to a new policy, he would no longer be automatically issued tourist visas.
Now, he has been told, he can spend only three months a year in Israel, including Jerusalem. In his appeal to the humanitarian committee, he has said he needs to be in Jerusalem to care for his 76-year-old mother.
“Is there any other country where the native population is treated like this in its homeland?” he said.
The policy to withhold tourist visas to Palestinians with foreign passports has been only patchily implemented, said Ms Kerstein, following objections from US and European embassies.
Mr Fahmi appeared a surprising choice for enforcement, given his influential supporters. A petition has attracted more than 2,000 signatures, including those of the British novelist Ian McEwan, who won this year’s Jerusalem Prize for literature, the historian Eric Hobsbawn, and Simon Sebag Montefiore, whose book Jerusalem: The Biography has been a bestseller.
Mr Fahmi hopes backing from many Israelis and diaspora Jews, including Israel’s two most famous novelists, Amos Oz and David Grossman, may forestall his expulsion.
“I hope the authorities will take note that many of my supporters are people who describe themselves as friends of Israel,” he said.
Mr Grossman told Reuters news agency last week that the Israeli government’s actions were “a scandal”.
Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Middle East history at Columbia University in New York, who has also signed the petition, said Mr Fahmi’s case highlighted Israel’s determination to maintain a clear Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
A formula devised by an Israeli government committee in 1973 fixed the percentage ratio of Israeli Jews to Palestinians in the city at 73 to 27. Despite an aggressive policy of settling Jews in East Jerusalem, higher birth rates among Palestinians have seen their proportion swell to just over a third of the city’s total population.
“There isn’t a family I know in East Jerusalem that doesn’t have someone affected by this revocation policy,” said Professor Khalidi. “It’s systematic.”
Last year Israel appeared to be expanding the policy when it revoked the residency of four Hamas members of the Palestinian legislative council who live in East Jerusalem.
Earlier this year it also banned from Jerusalem Adnan Gheith, a prominent Palestinian political activist who has opposed a Jewish settlement drive in his Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. He was told to keep out of the city for four months.
Reports in the Israeli media suggest that Israel’s security services have drawn up a list of several hundred activists in Jerusalem who they want issued with expulsion orders.
In an indication of the fear among Palestinians in East Jerusalem that their residency rights are under threat, Israeli officials have noted a marked increase in Palestinians applying for Israeli citizenship over the past five years.
Figures this year from the Israeli interior ministry revealed that about 13,000 Jerusalem Palestinians, or 5 per cent of the population, are now Israeli citizens.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission has proposed that all bars, clubs, and venues should be required to photograph and collect ID from everyone who comes in for a drink or a show. The photos and personal information would be retained so that police could get a list of every person who was in the club on any given night. Leaving aside the (obvious) fourth amendment issues inherent in governments collecting massive databases of presumed-innocent people’s lawful activities and movements, this is also a security nightmare, in which thousands of club staff and their friends would have access to personal information that would be of great interest to stalkers, creeps and identity thieves.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation will present their critique of this proposal to the Commission at a public meeting on April 12.
Events with strong cultural, ideological, and political components are frequently held at venues that would be affected by these rules. Scanning the ID’s of all attendees at an anti-war rally, a gay night club, or a fundraiser for a civil liberties organization would have a deeply chilling effect on speech. Participants might hesitate to attend such events if their attendance were noted, stored, and made available on request to government authorities. This would transform the politically and culturally tolerant environment for which San Francisco is famous into a police state.We are deeply disappointed in the San Francisco Entertainment Commission for considering such troubling, authoritarian, and poorly thought-out rules. The Commission should reject this attack on our most basic civil liberties. San Francisco cannot hope to remain a hub of cultural and political activity if we are stripped of our civil liberties the moment we walk through the door of a venue.
Organizers of a new flotilla to deliver aid to Gaza have called on European states not to bow to pressure from Israel to stop their mission and have asked for protection against what they say are threats from Israel.
The new flotilla, called Freedom Flotilla 2, is expected to sail to Gaza in the coming weeks, a year after a raid by Israeli forces on a similar mission that left eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen dead. About 15 ships are expected to take part in the mission, although organizers, speaking after a meeting in Athens on Monday, declined to give an exact number due to security considerations.
Israel has appealed to the UN and European nations to stop the flotilla. Organizers, which include activists from a number of countries including several European nations, US and Turkey, said they were determined to continue with the convoy, despite last May’s fatal raid on Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara and the threat of new violence. “Now, on the eve of the second Freedom Flotilla 2 voyage, the Israeli government is threatening to attack us again. As occurred last year before the first Freedom Flotilla, Israeli leaders are busy developing an atmosphere of hostility that should leave no doubt as to their intentions if and when they illegally attack this civilian flotilla,” organizers said in a statement posted on their website.
“Therefore, we are calling on all our governments, the international community and the United Nations not to succumb to Israel’s intimidation. Governments need to fulfill their ‘responsibility to protect’ their own citizens. The threats against the Flotilla are not just at sea, but also in our home countries, as Israeli agencies are targeting individual groups and personalities,” read the statement.
Organizers added that Freedom Flotilla 2 partners will go to the European Parliament in early May for meetings with members of European Parliament as well as the UN and other international bodies to present Freedom Flotilla 2’s goals. Organizers statements came as Israel urged European states to stop their nationals participating in the flotilla. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed for action from EU ambassadors in Jerusalem during a meeting with them. “This flotilla must be stopped,” he told ambassadors.
On April 1, Netahyahu’s office also asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop the planned flotilla setting sail to Gaza, claiming that there are extremist Islamic elements whose aim is to create a provocation and bring about a conflagration among the organizers.
A UN panel is still investigating the May 31 raid on the Mavi Marmara, which took part in an humanitarian aid flotilla meant for Gaza last summer, and is expected to finish its work in the coming weeks. A final report may be ready in May, according to sources close to the investigation. Turkey demands an apology from Israel and compensation for families of the victims. Israel rejects both demands, saying its soldiers acted in self-defense.
Participants in the Freedom Flotilla 2 convoy will include Turkish, Algerian, Scottish, Spanish, Dutch, Irish, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Jordanian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Swiss, US, Canadian, British and French nationals, and include lawmakers and journalists.
Turkish charity Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), which owned the Mavi Marmara, said its activists will be among the passengers of the Freedom Flotilla 2, although it plans to send a separate convoy, whose flag ship will again be the Mavi Marmara, after Turkey’s parliamentary elections on June 12. “Our activists will join the European convoy but our own convoy will head to Gaza after the elections,” İHH spokesman Salih Bilici told Today’s Zaman in a phone interview on Tuesday.
In Athens, a Freedom Flotilla 2 organizer suggested that the two convoys could unite. “We are seriously considering the Turkish elections and we are examining whether to depart after the elections so that we could start our mission as a big and strong convoy,” Vaggelis Pissias, a Greek organizer, was quoted as saying by private news agency Cihan at the press conference in Athens on Monday.
“Preparations are on track, adequate conditions for the departure of the ships will be met by the end of May,” Pissias added.
The British government is finally being forced to reveal the atrocities its predecessors committed during the Mau Mau war in Kenya in the 1950s.
The High Court in London launched proceedings to investigate a case brought up by four Kenyans who claimed they are victims of torture and assault at the hands of British colonial authorities during the Mau Mau uprising between 1952 and 1961.
Three men and one woman, in their 70s and 80s have come a distance 4,000 kilometers to give witness in the High Court in a session being held to unveil one of the black chapters in the British colonial history.
They have finally succeeded in forcing the British government to release documents, which reveal the true horror of atrocities which the UK colonial system committed against the revolutionaries during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s and 60s.
Previously hidden documents contain 2,000 boxes of papers of which 300 are related to Kenya and of those 30 are directly relevant to the Mau Mau war of independence.
The papers show how much British colonial officers have been involved in employing the most cruel torture techniques against the Kenyans including beating and roasting the revolutionaries alive as well as severe sexual assaults and castration which they used as common and routine torture techniques.
Not all the revelations are new. The extensive torture and killing of Mau Mau fighters and detainees was documented by two historians, Caroline Elkins from Harvard and Oxford University’s David Lee Anderson in their 2005 books, Britain’s Gulag and Histories of the Hanged.
Prof Elkins’ book in particular gives a vivid account of the shocking crimes committed by the British, which, ironically, came only seven years after the end of the Second World War in which the British and their allies set out to end the torture and mass killings in Nazi Germany and occupied countries.
Prof Elkins says: “Hundreds of thousands were detained in squalid camps fenced off with barbed wire and subjected to horrific torture.”
The torture of some was as much psychological as it was physical. In one passage, Prof Elkins quotes a witness recalling the result of a colonial soldiers’ sweep through their village.
“At one point the villagers were ordered to remove every article of clothing and remain stark naked. You cannot start to imagine the shame and embarrassment we felt when … we were told to arrange ourselves in two rows, one for the men and the other for the women, old and young alike. To everyone’s horror we were ordered at gunpoint to embrace each other, man with a woman, regardless of whether the man happened to be your father, father-in-law or brother. It was all so humiliating that one woman hanged herself later, as she felt that she could not continue to live with the humiliating experience of having been forced to embrace her son-in-law while both of them were naked. In (Kikuyu) custom that is a curse.”
Now, five decades after these wicked and shameful incidents happened in Kenya, an infamous name from among mountains of documents is catching the eyes of Bahraini revolutionaries whom, themselves, have been victimized by his inhumane and vile measures.
Ian Henderson who served as the British Colonial Officer in Kenya, and was nicknamed “torturer in chief” in the African country moved to Bahrain in the late 1960s and acted as the country’s security chief for some 30 years.
Henderson established one of the most notorious security systems in Bahrain, by which thousands of activists have allegedly been detained and tortured in the most brutal ways.
George Galloway, the former British parliamentarian has described Henderson’s cooperation with al-Khalifa regime in Bahrain as follows.
“Henderson had gathered around him the kind of British dogs of war and mercenaries whose guns and electric shock equipment were for hire to anyone who will pay the price”, he said.
At the same time that the High Court in London investigates the case brought up by the Kenyan victims, Bahraini revolutionaries’ efforts to bring Henderson to justice have so far led to nowhere.
This is while Queen Elizabeth has honored the butcher of Bahrain and the Kenyan torturer-in-chief with the Knight medal as well as the Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Now, the question remains whether these four old Kenyan nationals will be able to achieve their rights while British politicians “only” claim that they are supporting human rights? The question will be answered in future.
Fakhrawi is the fourth Bahraini, tortured to death, since anti-government protests began in the country in mid-February. The 49-year-old businessman disappeared on or around April 4, when he went to file a police report against policemen who had earlier raided his home, reports said.
Fakhrawi had been a potential parliamentary candidate in Bahrain’s 2006 elections.
The circumstances surrounding his disappearance, detention, and death remain unclear but according to sources his brother identified the body at a local morgue. The Bahrain interior ministry has not commented on the incident.
Fakhrawi owned the Fakhrawi bookshop chain and was an investor in the independent daily al-Wasat.
His death comes just a day after Bahrain buried blogger Zakria Rashid al-Asherri, 40, martyred while in police custody.
Bahraini forces have severely suppressed the anti-regime protests with the help of Saudi, the UAE and Kuwaiti troops.
Signs of abuse on bodies of detained
In recent days Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) among other rights groups had criticized the Bahraini government crackdown.
“Bahrain should investigate the death in police custody of three people,” U.S.-based HRW said on Wednesday, saying one of the bodies bore signs of physical abuse.
The opposition says hundreds have been arrested and four have died in police custody over the past 10 days.
“It’s outrageous and cruel that people are taken off to detention and the families hear nothing until the body shows up with signs of abuse,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for the New York-based group.
HRW said it had seen the body of Ali Saqer, one of the men who died in police custody, and that it bore signs of severe physical abuse.
Bahrain has accused human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, of doctoring pictures of the corpse. “We viewed Ali Saqer’s body just prior to his burial and its condition was exactly as shown in the photo that Nabeel Rajab circulated,” Stork said.
In the previous post, “‘Israeli army strikes Gaza after school bus hit’ – Deconstructed,” I examined the Israeli-centric wording and pattern of omissions in AP’s report on the recent violence in Gaza. At the end of the piece I noted:
“…the story was written and edited in Israel by Matti Friedman, a journalist who may have family ties to the Israeli military.”
Tonight I was examining AP’s recent reports on Israel-Palestine and noted additional articles by Matti Friedman. Since they all seem to contain such distinctly pro-Israel bias I decided to look into Friedman more to see what I could learn about his/her background.
It turns out that Friedman is male, grew up in Canada, and at the age of 16 won a “Bronfman Youth Fellowship” for an all-expense-paid five-week summer trip to Israel for Jewish high school students from North America to “encounter the land and people of Israel [and] study Judaism and major issues in contemporary Jewish life.”
The next year he moved to Israel, where he settled and has lived since 1995. And yes, he served in the Israeli military.
In fact, he edited an article for the Bronfman alumni magazine entitled “Military Service as a Formative Experience; Reflections from Bronfmanim,” in which he writes:
“Military service, with its trials, frustrations, and hard-won personal victories, is nearly always a formative experience for those who undergo it… The experience remains seared into the memory of the Amitim and Bronfman Fellows who have spent time in uniform, long after they return to civilian life.”
Now Friedman works as a correspondent for AP’s control bureau for Israel-Palestine, where he writes news articles that are consistently Israeli-centric in their wording and focus and, especially, in which information they include and which facts they leave out. Perhaps it’s not surprising that he consistently mentions Israeli injuries and deaths while rarely mentioning Palestinian ones, even though the latter occur far more often.
It may not be surprising human behavior, but it is unacceptable journalism.
For more articles on journalists covering Israel-Palestine who have ties to the Israeli military see: