Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon has strongly hinted that Israel was involved in creating the computer virus Flame — a new Stuxnet-like espionage malware — to sabotage Iran’s nuclear plans.
Speaking in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday, Ya’alon expressed support for the creation of the virus and similar tools, saying it “opens up all kinds of possibilities.”
He also noted that it is reasonable for anyone who sees Iran as a threat to take such steps, saying that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”
Ya’alon made the remarks only hours after a Russian lab discovered the new virus.
The computer security firm Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s top virus-hunting agencies, said the virus is being used as a cyber weapon to attack entities in several countries.
The Kaspersky Lab has also announced that the worm is the most malicious ever and is designed to gather intelligence, adding that it can turn on PC microphones to record conversations taking place near the computer, take screenshots, log instant messaging chats, gather data files, and remotely change settings on computers.
“The complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date,” said the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, adding that a government or a coalition of states must be behind it.
Stuxnet — discovered in 2010 — was also a computer worm. It targeted Siemens industrial software and equipment in several countries.
From the amount of money spent each year in the United States on law enforcement, one might assume crime continues to be a growing problem.
But that’s not the case at all.
Crime rates today are at their lowest levels in 30 years and the rate of violent crime has dipped to a 39-year low. Yet the number of arrests between 2009 and 2010 declined only slightly, according to the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), which noted in its new report that police spending increased 445% between 1982 and 2007 and federal funding for police burgeoned by 729%.
Meanwhile, local, state and federal governments spend more than $100 billion each year on public safety and to maintain police ranks that exceed 710,000 nationwide.
Between 1993 and 2007 arrests for violent crimes dropped 27% and property crime arrests 22%. With fewer violent and property crimes being committed, the burgeoning ranks of police departments have concentrated on other offenses, particularly those related to the illegal drug trade. During the same period, drug-related arrests climbed 45%. The report notes that “Although Blacks make up 13 percent of the population, they make up 31 percent of arrests for drug offenses.”
“These arrests, often for possession of very small amounts of drugs, carry tremendous costs both to society and to the people involved, who must then face the rest of their life with the collateral consequences of a criminal record,” the JPI wrote.
The think tank suggested politicians redirect funding more toward “true community-based and collaborative policing efforts” as well as alternative programs and initiatives that “promote healthy safe communities.”
It suggested that law enforcement concentrate on serious offenses and, for low-level offenses, issue citations rather than pursue arrests.
To Learn More:
Rethinking the Blues (Justice Policy Institute) (pdf)
Report: Rethinking the Blues: How We Police in the U.S. and at What Cost (Justice Policy Institute) (pdf)
State-by-State and National Crime Estimates by Year(s) (Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics)
- Drug Busts As Make-Work for Superfluous Cops (reason.com)
In a coordinated move, Western countries on Tuesday moved to expel Syrian envoys and diplomats “in protest at the massacre of Houla.”
Countries of US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Canada expelled the diplomats as Belgium summoned the Syrian ambassador.
The United States ordered the expulsion of Syria’s top diplomat.
“We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, informing charge d’affaires Zuheir Jabbour that he had 72 hours to leave the country.
In Paris, President Francois Hollande told journalists that France’s decision to expel Ambassador Lamia Shakkur, which would be formally communicated to her on Tuesday or Wednesday, was “not a unilateral decision by France, but a decision agreed upon with (our) partners.”
In Berlin, national news agency DPA reported that Germany too would expel the Syrian ambassador in protest.
A government source in Britain said the country had also expelled its top Syrian envoy.
“The charge d’affaires is being expelled. The foreign secretary will give more details soon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Syria had already withdrawn its ambassador from London.
“There was a concerted plan between Britain, France and Germany,” said another source, who asked not to be identified.
Rome also took a similar move as its government said in statement: “Ambassador Khaddour Hasan was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and told he was ‘persona non grata’.”
Italy expressed its “indignation for the heinous crimes carried out against the civilian population,” the statement added.
Madrid said it was expelling the Syrian ambassador in protest against the “unacceptable repression by the Syrian regime against its own people”.
“Spain has decided to declare the Syrian ambassador in Spain, Hussam Edin Aala, persona non grata because of the unacceptable repression carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people,” the foreign ministry said.
“Spain has also decided to expel four other members of Syria’s diplomatic mission in Spain,” it added in a statement.
The Netherlands also declared Syria’s ambassador to the country as “persona non-grata”, the Dutch foreign affairs minister said.
“I have decided to declare the Syrian ambassador as a persona non-grata,” Uri Rosenthal said in a statement, adding that “we cannot co-operate with a country headed by such a president,” referring to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Canada expelled all Syrian diplomats, with its Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said: “Canada and our partners are speaking loudly, with one voice, in saying these Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts.”
“Today, Canada is expelling all Syrian diplomats remaining in Ottawa. They and their families have five days to leave Canada,” the minister said in a statement.
A Syrian diplomat awaiting passage to Ottawa from Syria will be refused entry into Canada, Baird added.
For its part, Belgium summoned Syria’s ambassador to meet Foreign Minister Didier Reynders later Tuesday.
“The ambassador has been summoned at 1800 hours (1600 GMT),” the minister’s office said.
The official results of the first round of the historic Egyptian presidential elections, the first ever in Mother Egypt where the results were not known in advance, present an encouraging snapshot of ‘new democratic Egypt’ given that the choice of close to 50 per cent of Egypt’s approximately 50 million eligible voters, some standing in line to vote in scorching heat for hours, will not be officially announced until late May.
It appears, based on exit polls and information from the Muslim Brotherhood media office, that the two candidates who will face each other in the June 16-17 final round of voting will be the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi (25 per cent) facing Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq (24 per cent).
Mr Mursi and Mr Shafiq represent very different strands of Egyptian society. Mr. Shafiq will continue to draw his support from people fearful of an Islamist takeover, and those exhausted by the upheavals of the past 16 months.
Both finalists will carry substantial political baggage into Round Two. While Mursi will have the vast and competent Muslim Brotherhood organization working during the next two weeks to get out the vote for him, as well as the support of most Islamist parties, his candidacy still faces pervasive voter doubt over having the long outlawed MB control both Egypt’s Parliament and its Presidency. Egyptian voters appear to be worrying that this kind of broad power effectively is too similar to the Mubarak era and also eliminates checks and balances needed to moderate MB’s pledge to enact Sharia law and to honor its commitment to scrap military rule.
The following statement by the MB’s Mohammad Mursi, delivered just last week at a Cairo University campaign rally is raising concern:
“The Quran in our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and martyrdom in the service of God is our goal. We shall enforce Islamic Sharia, and shall accept no alternative to it.”
Israel and the US will back Mr. Shafiq in various ways and he will benefit from the view that he represents Egypt’s military, many of the country’s wealthy and powerful more conservative voting blocks, the business community, Coptic Christians, (roughly ten per cent of the voters) who understandably seek security above all else, and many others who will vote for what they calculate to be the lesser of two evils.
Yet barring surprises, such as ex-President Hosni Mubarak being found innocent of all charges on June 2 when the verdict is to be announced in his case, which many lawyers are predicting is exactly what will happen, Mohammad Mursi will very likely prevail in the mid-June run-off and become Egypt’s first democratically elected President.
Many Middle East analysts, including American University of Beirut political sociology professor Sari Hanafi, believe this result will be good for the more than five million Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, those still under Zionist occupation in their own country, and welcomed by all who advocate the Palestinians’ full Return to their still occupied country.
The Prime Minister of the Palestinian government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, declared on Thursday that “The Egyptian presidential election results will have a very positive affect on the course and future of the Palestinian cause as well as the role and place of the Muslim people in the world.”
Haniyeh knows that the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Hamas evolved, is highly sophisticated politically and while it tries to avoid attracting condemnation, or worse, from Washington and Tel Aviv, the MB intentions regarding Camp David, giveaway gas and other deals with Israel, and even diplomatic relations with the occupiers of Palestine are clear. A majority of Egyptians believe all will eventually be discarded as will the single remaining 19th century colonial enterprise itself.
Hamas officials have also acknowledged that they are looking more to Egypt and the Brotherhood for support as they move away from Syria and a top Hamas official, Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, settled in Cairo after fleeing the unrest in Syria and maintains close ties with the Brotherhood.
Mursi has a long history of criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He has referred to Israel’s Foreign Minister Lieberman as a “vampire” and the settler movement as “Draculas.” Mr. Morsi has also criticized the Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for what he called gullible collaboration with Israel for believing they would voluntarily accept a Palestinian state, and he has praised Hamas for resisting the Israeli occupation.
Brotherhood leaders have said they intend to use their influence with both Fatah and Hamas to urge them to compromise with each other to press Israel to recognize a Palestinian state. “The Brotherhood will gently pressure Hamas to be more pragmatic, although that is a direction that Hamas is already moving,” according to Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center.
Speaking with MB representatives in Cairo and Beirut over the past several months, the party’s position expressed to this observer is that the common thread that stitches together all the continuing regional uprisings can be described as a fundamental quest for dignity and the casting off of humiliation either from western imposed despotic regimes or from their illegitimate and aggressive agent, Israel.
Even before the completion of Egypt’s first democratic elections, which long-time election monitor Jimmy Carter has just labeled “very encouraging “there is broad recognition in Egypt that basic dignity demands the return of Palestine and its holy places, not just to the 1.5 billion Muslims and nearly as many Christians worldwide, but to all people of good will.
While no official MB decisions have been published regarding relations with Gaza and occupied Palestine, signs are everywhere from non-enforcement of Mubarak-Israeli-American pressures on Rafa, Gaza, travel and trade prohibitions that full normalization of relations between Egyptians and Palestinians under occupation is imminent.
And Israel and its American lobby know it and are preparing.
On Capitol Hill, and among the more than 60 intensively active and well-funded pro-Zionist organizations in the US, a campaign has already begun to neuter the Egyptian voter’s choice next month as surely as was achieved during the three decades of Mubarak rule.
A couple of examples.
AIPAC has launched a campaign to have the Obama administration, during the run-up to the coming election, now barely six months away, demand three things from the Mursi government:
“that the Mother Brotherhood scrap key elements of its political program and disassociate itself for ‘Islamism’; that it publicly pledge to fight ‘terrorism’ i.e. the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, and that the MB pledge in writing to fully abide by the Camp David accords.”
Washington, according to Israel must insist that Egypt not only maintain its peace treaty with Israel, but Obama must tell the Brotherhood that any referendum on the Camp David Accords will be interpreted by the US as an attempt to destroy that agreement.
According to Israeli government water carrier Dennis Ross, “In recent conversations, Brotherhood leaders have expressed their belief that they would not be blamed if the treaty were revoked by a nationwide vote, as seems likely. They need to be told otherwise.”
When measured against what the MB stands for and has struggled for since its founding in 1928 by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna as well as the growing demands of the Egyptian public coupled with regional pleas for Egypt’s new government to restore Arab and Muslim dignity, these Israeli-US demands are patently absurd.
Ever in the service of Israel, Elliot Abrams, writing in the Zionist Islamophobic Weekly Standard, is proposing an approach that appears as fanciful and misguided as his WMD 2002-3 schemes to get the US to attack Iraq on behalf of Israel or his continuing five year campaign to get the US to bomb Iran for Israel.
Abrams is arguing recently, apparently seriously, that since the MB will be Egypt’s new government, Israel can still prevail if his advice is followed. Obviously unhappy with the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood governing Egypt, Abrams does what he is paid to do for Israel, i.e. he metaphorically paints Pigs hoping they will look like Princesses.
Eliot is publicly blaming the US for not “standing by the Mubarak regime like the Russians are with Syria’s.” He declared “Had Mubarak and the Army played their cards better; Shafik might have been Mubarak’s successor without the harmful uprising that Egypt has experienced. Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel with all its blessings would be secure. Now, unless Shafik wins, Camp David is finished but we [Israel?] still have some excellent options.”
Abrams and elements of the Zionist lobby are telling Congress that “Israel must support Egypt’s “liberals” meaning, people who believe in democracy, liberty, and the rule of law rather than Islam as the guiding principles of Egypt and that the predicate must be that the electorate believes the MB had a clear chance and failed them.” He continued,“ If Shafik were to win many Egyptians will believe the elections were stolen by the Army and the old regime’s machine, and in any event power will be divided between the MB on one side and the Army and president on the other. There will be no clear lesson to learn when conditions in the country then continue to deteriorate given that the previous annual 6.5 billion foreign infusion into Egypt’s economy has reversed to a current annual $500,00 outflow with foreign investors fleeing and tourism in down 40 per cent from when Mubarak was in charge.”
Interestingly, Abrams and other spokesmen for AIPAC and the Zionist lobby are arguing that Mubarak’s most recent Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq’s victory next month is not necessarily something Israel and the West should favor or work to arrange. Given that the MB is the leading party in parliament and with the Salafists having an Islamist majority there, Abrams claims that this is actually good for Israel since its lobby will organize Congress to push the idea that MB control of both parliament and the presidency is dangerous and, “we can hold them and all Islamists in Egypt absolutely responsible for what happens to Egypt with its myriad problems and thus 100 percent of the responsibility for Egypt’s fate will drop on the MB.”
Abrams continues, “If the MB’s Mursi wins and he will, the MB will be in charge–and be forced to deliver. And when they fail, as they will given Israel’s key friends in the international business community, it will be absolutely clear who was to blame and this is good for Israel. What is in Israel’s interest is to support Egypt’s military which it has worked closely with for years and encourage the army to fight with all its tools for its interests”.
Abrams summarizes his thesis in an AIPAC email to donors: “So as far as Israel is concerned, a Mursi victory should not be mourned; given the situation in Egypt, in this election we can assure that the loser will pity the winner. Two cheers for Mursi! Now let’s get to work.”
- Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood pushing for end to Gaza siege (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Can Jewish Liberals Transcend the Wiesel Doctrine?
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”
Elie Wiesel, From the Kingdom of Memory: Reminiscences
“My loyalty to my people, to our people, and to Israel comes first and prevents me from saying anything critical of Israel outside Israel… As a Jew I see my role as a melitz yosher, a defender of Israel: I defend even her mistakes… I must identify with whatever Israel does – even with her errors.”
Elie Wiesel, Against Silence (AS)
In the end, whether Israel’s penchant for serial atrocities encounters an effective obstacle will hinge on two types of resistance, elicited not from the fictitious “international community”, but from the active opponents of Israel’s ongoing projects, and from the withdrawal of moral and financial support for the ongoing reproduction of Israel as an apartheid Zionist State.
Among the first type of response are the increasingly visible efforts, which gained momentum in the wake of the May 2010 flotilla murders, to promote sanctions, boycott and divestiture. A broad range of individuals and groups -rock stars Elvis Costello and The Pixies, the actor Meg Ryan, Britain’s largest union, Unite, the United Methodist Church, the cosmetics firm Lush, the University of London Union, Deutsche Bahn, the German railway operator, large supermarket chains in Italy, dockworkers in many cities around the world refusing to unload Israli cargo- has either actively called for or effectively engaged in actions in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s occupation and in support of Palestinian resistance. (For an up to date list of such actions see http://www.bdsmovement.net.)
The second kind of response includes refusals to any longer make excuses for Israeli abominations, willingness finally to speak out in public protest, and the cessation of financial support for the rogue State. An especially powerful development would be the readiness of American Jews to announce loud and clear that Israel does not speak for them, to distance themselves from the agenda of the politically powerful Israel lobby, and to cross over into solidarity with the Palestinian people. None of this, I will suggest below, is as far-fetched as it might have seemed fifteen years ago.
Among the key habits of thought, feeling and action that must be defeated is what we might call the Wiesel Doctrine, as expressed in the second passage at the head of this article, which pledges to “defend even [Israel’s] mistakes… [to] identify with whatever Israel does – even with her errors.” The Doctrine saturates the political consciousness of too many older (an important qualifier) liberal American Jews. These are the Jews most likely to contribute to AIPAC and for whom their perception of a given Senate, House or presidential candidate’s friendliness to Israeli policy is sufficient to determine support.
The Doctrine’s stalwarts have been marinating in a political-ethnic milieu largely formed since the early 1950s by the self-promotional and political-marketing zeal of Elie Wiesel, the world’s leading holocaust entrepreneur. The man has been adroit in milking Western guilt over the holocaust in the service of making it virtually impossible for soi disant humanitarians to dissent from Israeli propaganda. He has also helped to create an atmosphere in which the likes of Alan Dershowitz can thrive, and the jobs and reputations of both politicians and university professors who challenge the Israeli line can be jeopardized on the spurious grounds that they peddle anti-Semitism. Wiesel has contributed hugely to the mystified ideological settlement that invites a well heeled and ardently motivated entity like AIPAC to win enviable gains for Israel on Capitol Hill and to prevent critical issues from being raised in the US media, even as these same issues are put forward and contested in the more democratic Israeli press.
Wiesel and his Doctrine are to the typical American Jewish apologist for Israel as the standard meter is to the meter stick in your workshop. Wiesel is the Platonic Form made flesh in every Zionist apologist. Listen to the arguments of your Zionist friends. They channel the teachings of St. Elie.
It behooves us, then, to review what Wiesel is about.
Wiesel as Archetype of the Soul of Zionism
Elie Wiesel is in a class by himself. Take his word for it. The man promotes himself with unflagging persistence as the living embodiment of Jewish humanitarianism. This makes him, he’d have us believe, the -not ‘a’, but ‘the’- humble representative and wounded spokesman of the community of holocaust survivors, the preeminent guardian of Jewish memory and witness to Jewish suffering. What this comes to is granting Israel carte blanche to treat Palestinians as it chooses and to habitually lie about its political intentions.
In Wiesel’s stance we find a paradigmatic expression of the apologetics that has become the party line for so many older American Jews for whom nothing Israel does warrants open opposition.
Wiesel pulls no punches. In the second citation at the head of this article he announces that facts and evidence are irrelevant to his assessment of Israel’s behavior. Thus, Wiesel misled when he remarked, regarding his assessment of Israel’s May 2010 flotilla raid, “I don’t know enough. … For me to say anything now would be irresponsible.” (June 2, 2010) We are to believe that Wiesel is open to evidence of Israeli wrongdoing. But he has made it clear that he is not. When pushed to the wall on Israeli misbehavior, Wiesel’s tactic is patented: he changes the subject to the holocaust. Moments after the above remark Wiesel whimpered “Holocaust denial today – what it does to the children of survivors,” he said. “I believe Holocaust denial should be illegal.” There followed a philosophical debate on freedom of thought and the limits of censorship. Mission accomplished: the original issue, the assessment of Israel’s murders of noncombatants in international waters, has been forgotten.
It is essential to Wiesel’s agenda that he depict his categorical refusal to criticize Israel as more than a merely individual decision. He is merely acknowledging a moral obligation binding everyone, everywhere, to eternal silence regarding Israel’s abominations. That’s the Wiesel Doctrine: “The nations that kept silent during the Holocaust ought to keep silent now as well. The world that then condemned itself by its silence has lost all rights to judge Israel now.” (AS, 2, 191.)
The holocaust is made into political plastic carrying an unlimited line of exculpatory credit.
In his speech to the United Nations last September Benjamin Netanyahu began by conflating Nazi Germany, contemporary Iran, al Qaeda (a Sunni tendency foreign to Shiite Iran), and global terrorism. The word ‘Nazi’ appeared five times in the first thirty paragraphs. This kind of nonsense is made possible and certified by the Wiesel Doctrine.
The Doctrine also rules out solidarity with the Palestinian people. As a holocaust survivor, Wiesel must accept whatever claims Israel makes about its relation to Palestinians: “Do not ask me, a traumatized Jew, to be pro-Palestinian. I totally identify with Israel and cannot go along with leftist intellectuals who reject it.” ( AS, 1, 223) These two sentences are packed with Israel-serving dogma: the fact of the holocaust permits open season on Palestinians, speaking the truth about Israel is an inherently “leftist” prejudice, and criticizing Israeli policy is the same as “reject”ing Israel, whatever that may mean.
Wiesel As Terrorist and The Requirement of Hypocrisy
In his essay “To a Young Palestinian Arab” (1979) Wiesel intones “I feel responsible for your sorrow, but not for the way you use it, for in its name you have massacred innocent children, slaughtered children.” (‘sorrow’ is a favorite word of Wiesel’s, which he deploys almost as frequently as you and I use ‘the’) Wiesel’s claim to feel “responsible” for Palestinian “sorrow” (Why not refer to Palestinian deaths? Why not indeed.) is disingenuous. He refuses to acknowledge the death and destruction visited upon Palestinians by Israel except in the context of blaming Palestinians. He acknowledges no responsibility to do anything as an expression of his professed responsibility, nor does he acknowledge that this responsibility stems from wrongdoing by Israel. And he has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the occupation as a political matter, preferring “sorrow” as the required non-political “moral” attitude.
Wiesel goes on to anticipate the young Palestinian’s response that these acts were performed by “extremists”, not typical Palestinians. He rejoins that “they acted on your behalf, with your approval, since you did not raise your voice to reason with them. You will tell me that it is your tragedy which incited them to murder. By murdering, they debased that tragedy, they betrayed it.” Wiesel goes on to contrast Palestinians’ insidious political response to their suffering to holocaust survivors’ humanistic “moral” response to their brutalization. Here we have a typical case of the hypocrisy that is a leitmotif in Wiesel’s repertoire.
Wiesel is surely not ignorant of European Zionists’ response to persecution by pioneering innovations in the art of terrorism. Zionists crusading in Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel created a range of modern terrorist tactics. In 1938 the Zionist terror outfit Irgun executed attacks against Arab civilians, including placing bombs in milk cans in a Haifa market, killing twenty three Arab shoppers. In 1947 the Zionist group the Stern Gang was the first to use letter bombs, mailed to British Cabinet members. The Gang assassinated high-level British diplomats and the chief UN mediator attempting to negotiate a two-state solution for Palestine. Irgun, then under the leadership of Menachim Begin, planted bombs in Arab East Jerusalem, killing civilians in an effort to drive Palestinians out. As the British mandate was coming to an end in April 1948 and a civil war between Arabs and Zionists was beginning, Irgun and the Stern Gang attacked the village of Deir Yassin, killing over a hundred unarmed villagers, including women and children. The villagers had not been involved in any violence prior to the attack. In 1954 Israel became the first country to hijack an airplane for political purposes, seizing a Syrian civilian plane in a botched effort to trade hostages for Mossad intelligence agents captured by the Syrians.
When the Deir Yassin massacre occurred Wiesel was on the payroll of Irgun’s newspaper Zion in Kampf, having offered his services as a translator in Paris. This makes Wiesel, by his own standards, a terrorist. Accordingly, he has never denounced these massacres. Might not a Deir Yassin survivor charge Wiesel with his own words: “they acted on your behalf, with your approval, since you did not raise your voice to reason with them. You will tell me that it is your tragedy which incited them to murder. By murdering, they debased that tragedy, they betrayed it.”
Zionist terrorist attacks against Palestinians and others, which intensified between 1945 and 1949, including the kidnappings and hanging of British soldiers in 1947, were accomplished for political purposes. But the Wiesel Doctrine requires that Palestine never be understood in political terms. In 2003 Pope John Paul II proposed that “what the Middle East needs is bridges, not walls.” Wiesel’s attack immediately followed: “From the leader of one of the largest and most important religions in the world, I expected something very different, namely a statement condemning terror and the killing of innocents, without mixing in political considerations and above all comparing these things to a work of pure self-defense. To politicize terrorism like that is wrong.” (The New York Times, 11/17/2003) Wiesel no doubt associates the political in this context with the culpable exercise of power by the powerful against the powerless. This kind of thing, Wiesel seems to concur, would require action in resistance, including the exercise of counter-power by the oppressed. But for Wiesel, Israel must never be blamed, nor must any actions, such as boycott, sanctions and divestment, much less forceful resistance by Palestinians, be taken against Israeli power. Hence, Israeli policy must not be seen as political. At most, Wiesel permits a moral response, typically expressed as “sorrow” and never requiring one to get off his political ass. Consistency was never this gasbag’s forte.
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Who is the Zionest of Them All? Wiesel As Co-Recipient of Requited Self Love
Wiesel moved to New York in 1955, where he continued to work as a correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ah’ronot. It was then that he set upon the task of establishing himself as the self-appointed spokesperson for all holocaust victims and survivors (the latter group treated erroneously by Wiesel as monolithic and homogenous). In 1956 he was struck by a taxi near Times Square. Given to grandiose self-description by nature, he later claimed: “I flew an entire block. I was hit at 45th Street and the ambulance picked me up at 44th. It sounds crazy. But I was totally messed up.” (NYT, March 5, 1997) The story is preposterous, but Wiesel has covered himself: “Some events do take place but are not true; others are true although they never occurred.” (Legends of Our Time, viii.) Telling a “true lie” in the name of making a legend of oneself is, as one says nowadays, “no problem” for Wiesel.
In this story Wiesel appears to possess superhuman powers, much like a cartoon Superhero. He’s hit by a taxi and bo-o-o-oing! he flies through the air, landing a city block away. Wiesel’s megalomania takes many forms. He has criticized every notable holocaust survivor/commentator, notably the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, as less authentic and profound than he. His case is characteristically self serving. Rival commentators are rejected on the grounds that they are among “the intellectuals”. What’s wrong with that? Intellectuals analyze, they bring intellectual discourse to bear on our comprehension of the holocaust. But Wiesel insists that the holocaust is a sacred and spiritual phenomenon, and hence a mystery. As such it transcends mundane, normal boundaries of language and conceptualization. It’s like A Kantian noumenon – it’s “out there” but none of our human categories are remotely adequate to capturing its reality. The best we can do is to exhibit the kind of doleful, agonized visage Wiesel sports 24/7. If someone points to our countenance and asks “What’s that?”, we just say “sorrow”.
Note that this puts Wiesel beyond challenge. Critical analysis is expressed in language, and is analytical in form. But language and analysis are foreign to the mystical nature of Jewish suffering. As Wittgenstein once remarked, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” That suits Wiesel just fine. Like Israel, Wiesel is unassailable.
The fact is that many Jewish liberals have ingested and digested this political serving. Little wonder that they cannot be counted on to call a Zionist spade a spade. But strong evidence indicates that this may be changing. As Israeli Jews are moving ever rightward, young American Jews are moving in the opposite direction. Let’s have a look at this.
Decline of Nationalist Zionism Among Young American Jews
There is ample evidence that younger American Jews are decreasingly identifying with the Zionist State. A number of independent studies indicate that younger Jews are less likely to experience criticism of Israel as an assault on their identity. Peter Beinart has recently discussed a number of important studies confirming younger Jews’ indifference to criticism of Israel. His essay and book (2) also issue a call to moral arms to American Jews.
Several surveys have revealed, as Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis report, that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.” Although the majority of American Jews of all ages continue to identify as “pro-Israel,” those under 35 are less likely to identify as “Zionist.” Over 40% of American Jews under 35 believe that “Israel occupies land belonging to someone else,” and over 30% report sometimes feeling “ashamed” of Israel’s actions. A paradigm case is the 2008 rejection by the student senate at Brandeis University -the only nonsectarian Jewish sponsored university in America- of a resolution commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Jewish State. (3)
This development has been troubling prominent members of the Jewish establishment since the mid-1990s. In 2003 several of them commissioned the pollster Frank Luntz to find out what younger Jews thought about Israel. The underlying aim of the poll was to explain why Jewish college students are not on the whole inclined to defend Israel against campus critics.
Luntz’s findings were distressing to his employers. “Six times we have brought Jewish youth together as a group to talk about their Jewishness and connection to Israel,” he reported, and “Six times the topic of Israel did not come up until it was prompted. Six times these Jewish youth used the word ‘they’ rather than ‘us’ to describe the situation.”
The attitudes Luntz found most consistently expressed were a resistance to the kind of “group-think” the young Jews saw as suppressing “open and frank” discussion of Israel, a “desperate” desire for peace and, in some cases, empathy with the plight of the Palestinians. The students come across as broadly “liberal” in the sense in which American Jews have always been perceived as liberal. The “trouble” with these students was that their liberalism is traditionally Jewish, and consistent: if Israeli policy contravenes basic canons of liberalism, then so much the worse for Israeli policy.
Among American Jews there are plenty of liberals and plenty of Zionists. What these studies indicate is that these two groups share fewer and fewer members. Younger Jewish Zionists are decreasingly likely to be liberal, and younger Jewish liberals decreasingly likely to be Zionists. This portends the American Jewish establishment’s further movement to the right. As Beinart observes, “As secular Jews drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their orthodox counterparts will likely step into the breach.” Thus, the distance between largely secular American Jews and the Zionist establishment is likely to widen. But this will weaken the political power of the Israel lobby -inextricably linked, of course, to the Jewish establishment- only if American Jews as a whole are prepared to announce unambiguously their antipathy to their soi disant representatives. The political and moral responsibility this places on American Jewish liberals cannot be overestimated.
Intensification of Zionist Nationalism in Israel
American Jewish liberals and Zionism in Israel are moving in opposite directions. While the studies mentioned above indicate that a decreasing percentage of American Jews will feel sympathetic attachment to Israeli Zionism, some of the most unsavory forms of Zionism are growing in Israel.
A 2008 survey reported in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ah’ronot found that 40 percent of Jewish Israelis would deny the vote to Arab Israelis. More recent surveys found 56 percent of Jewish Israeli high school students sharing this sentiment. A survey conducted by Professor Camil Fuchs from the Statistics Department of Tel Aviv University found that half of Israeli teens don’t want Arab students in their class. Most Israeli teens aged fifteen to eighteen don’t think Arabs enjoy equal rights in Israel, and most of those don’t think Arabs deserve equal rights. The survey also revealed that 96 percent of the respondents want Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state, but 27 percent believe that those who object should be tried in court, and 41 percent support stripping them of their citizenship. In answer to a question whether they would be willing to learn in a classroom with one or more students with special needs, 32 percent answered in the negative. When the question was asked regarding Arab students, 50 percent of respondents answered in the negative. In addition, 23 percent said that they wouldn’t want gays or lesbians in their class.
These findings are disturbingly consistent with the Netanyahu coalition government’s reflection of the worst elements among contemporary Israelis: the growing extreme-Orthodox population, the increasingly radical settler movement, which has come to occupy an increasing percentage of both the Israeli political establishment and the army, and the conspicuously anti-Arab Russian immigrant community.
Netanyahu himself is a Palestinian-State denier. In his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations he explicitly repudiates the notion of a Palestinian State. Like Golda Meier he denies that there are Palestinians, and he argues that to support Palestinian statehood is equivalent to endorsing…. you guessed it, Nazism! His Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who refuse to swear loyalty to the Jewish State, deny citizenship to Arab nationals of other countries who marry Arab citizens of Israel, execute Arab Knesset members who meet with Hamas representatives and imprison Arabs who dare to publicly mourn on Israeli Independence Day. Holy Moses.
Beinart’s reflections on these abominations are a lamentation of the refusal of the “leading institutions of American Jewry” to openly challenge Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens. (The NYR essay was written three weeks before, and published two weeks after, the May 31 attack on the Mavi Marmara.) And Beinart is no one-stater. “Saving liberal Zionism in the United States,” he writes, “so that American Jews can help save liberal Zionism in Israel, is the great American Jewish challenge of our age.”
Bienart sees that as an American Jew he bears a special responsibility to act on the words, hypocritically penned by Elie Wiesel, cited at the head of this article: “We must always take sides…. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” I say he’s right.
Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. His book The “New Normal”: Persistent Austerity, Declining Democracy and the Globalization of Resistance is forthcoming in 2013. His website/blogsite is www.alannasser.wordpress.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
(1) AS is a three-volume collection of the most representative of Wiesel’s lectures, articles, op-eds, letters, etc.)
(2) See “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”, The New York Review, June 10, 2010, further developed in his book The Crisis of Zionism, Henry Holt, 2012.
(3) See Cohen and Kelman’s “Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel” at http://www.acbp.net/About/PDF/Beyond%20Distancing.pdf.
- The Holocaust, Sacred Ground and Obama’s Selective View of the Struggle for Human Dignity (alethonews.wordpress.com)
On Sunday, May 20, an Israeli soldier shot a young Palestinian farmer while on his land in Al-Quara, north east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip.
Waheed Ali Zer, 22 years old, was shot in his left leg and remains hospitalized in Khan Younis’s Nasser hospital. We went to go visit his family and Waheed’s brother Mohammed spoke to us about the events that took place on Sunday.
“After being shot, Waheed began to crawl before being picked up and taken to a first aid point. At the time, I was at university.” Mohammed is a mathematics student at Al-Aqsa University and he intends to pursue a PhD.
Waheed has three brothers and seven sisters, three of which are married. The Zer family’s land is only 500 meters from the Israeli border. Waheed’s uncle told us that the Israeli soldiers will open fire at any time.
“Here in the Kussufim area, tanks and bulldozers will often enter,” says Waheed’s uncle, “until three years ago, there were many trees, olive trees, but they have all been destroyed by the bulldozers. Also here where we are, a house has been demolished by a bulldozer. If there are no tanks and bulldozers available, the Israeli soldiers shoot from the control towers”.
Mohammed told us that Waheed was walking his donkey when he saw a military jeep coming. Mohammed retreated back towards the tent next to his house. An Israeli soldier emerged from the jeep and shot at Mohammed from behind a small hill.
There was no warning, no bullet shots into the air. No notice, just one bullet, which was targeted directly at Waheed.
“My father carried Waheed in his arms while my mother cried,” one of Waheed’s brothers tells us.
We visited the land where Waheed was shot. On this land the family cultivates oranges, eggplants, wheat, and olives. “Our houses are very simple, we have no chance to protect ourselves,” Mohammed’s uncle told us. “The plants and the trees are scared by the Israelis, imagine us!” said Mohammed.
As I looked out across the land I noticed the proximity of military towers. One of the towers is particularly close to their land, with a machine gun visibly located on it. One of Waheed’s aunts approached us. “Our life is very difficult, for this reason the people go closer to the border to collect as much [harvest] as they can,” she says.
Waheed’s family comes from Be’er Sheva. They are refugees like many others after Israel displaced thousands of Palestinians, proclaiming their state.
We went to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis to meet Waheed. His left leg was wrapped in a bandage stained with blood and his bed sheet was also tainted with blood and liquid. He had an expression of suffering on his face after having been operated on while under general anaesthesia. The bullet aimed at him perforated an artery and a nerve.
“I had bought a donkey,” Waheed began to tell us, “and I was taking it towards my land when I saw an [Israeli] jeep coming. A soldier came out of the jeep and shot me. I fell to the ground feeling my head spinning. The bullet entered from one side [of my leg] and exited from the other side. I crawled and my father called an ambulance which took a long time to arrive.”
I asked him if he wants to send a message to the international community and he replied, “I ask for their solidarity with the Palestinian people. I ask them to stop the Israeli attacks.”
During our visit to the hospital other relatives and friends of Waheed arrived. One brought him some food. Waheed smiles to his visitors but his eyes cannot hide his grief. A cotton curtain separates him from the other beds of the crowded hospital.
A nurse arrived to tell us that we should go because the visiting time is over. I left Waheed with the promise of going back to his home for another visit. We will return to their area as an international presence while the international community continues to stay silent in the face of ongoing crimes against the civilians of the Gaza Strip.
- 7 casualties in Israeli artillery shelling east of Gaza (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 18 year old shepherd shot by Israeli soldiers in Jordan Valley (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Six teenage Arab students of the at-Tur School in Jerusalem were injured, on Thursday, at the Menachem Begin Public Park in the Yarkon area of Tel Aviv, after being attacked by extremist Israelis who hit them with sticks and hurled stones at them.
Member of the Parents Committee at the School, Hatem Khweis, stated that four fundamentalists attacked the students who were on a school field trip in the area, the Wattan News Agency reported.
Khweis added that the fundamentalists hurled stones at students, inflicting concussions and bruises, and that one of the students was moved to a nearby hospital.
He further stated that the school obtained a “security permit” that grants protection for school children during trips, but the protection was not granted due to what the Tel Aviv Municipality called “lack of funding”, Wattan added.
The school Parents Council held Israel responsible for the attack arguing that the assault was racially motivated.
- African Immigrants in Tel Aviv Attacked by Racist Israeli Mobs (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- How mainstream Israeli politicians sparked the Tel Aviv race riot (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
Bassem Tamimi, a leading member of the grass roots movement against the Israeli Annexation Wall and settlement construction in the village of an-Nabi Saleh, has on Tuesday been sentenced at the Israeli Ofer Military Court in the West Bank.
Mr. Tamimi was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment and a further 17 months suspended sentence. Tamimi was released following the judgement, due to having already served 13 months imprisonment waiting for his case to come to trial.
The ruling means that if Tamimi participates in any of the village’s weekly non-violent protest activities he will be forced to serve out the remainder of the suspended sentence in prison.
Bassem Tamimi has been described as a human rights defender by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. Ashton has been critical of the trial against Tamimi, as she was of the trial against Abdullah Abu Rahme, a similar figure in the non-violent protest movement in the village of Bil’in.
The trial of Bassem Tamimi came under fire following allegations of coerced testimony from children of Nabi Saleh who, contravening international law, were interrogated by the Israeli military with neither legal representation or a parent or guardian present.
- Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Convicted; Prosecution Criticized by Court (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Pro-Palestine campaigners have disrupted a performance by the Israeli regime’s theatre company at London’s Globe Theatre by standing up during the performance with Palestinian flags and banners denouncing “The Israeli Apartheid regime.”
On May 28, when Israel’s Habima Company was performing Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ during the Globe to Globe festival, a group of 15 demonstrators started waving Palestinian flags.
The police also arrested a man on suspicion of assault on a security guard, with the Scotland Yard confirming his keeping in custody.
The Palestinian-led global movement for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel had made a call to boycott the Habima’s Hebrew-language performance as the Israeli company was working with the apartheid regime of Israel as a “cultural ambassador.”
“This campaign is not an attack on individual artists, we are not censoring the content of their work nor are we concerned about their ethnicity or the language they speak,” said Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, coordinator with the Boycott Israel Network.
“As with South African sport in the apartheid era, this is about refusing to allow culture to be used to whitewash oppression.”
London theatre has vowed “enhanced security” for Israel by sending a letter to ticket holders, outlining extraordinary measures including extensive bag and “random body searches,” aiming to prevent protesters expected to disrupt the controversial performance on 28-29 May 2012.
However, the boycott Israel activist group London BDS accused the Globe of “turning the theater into an Israeli-style checkpoint.”
“We tried non-violently to convey the message that culture may not be used to give a civilized gloss to a state that perpetrates human rights abuses,” said protester Zoe Mars.
In its tendentious report on the heckling of Sen. John McCain during a Memorial Day speech in San Diego, The Raw Story smears patriotic Americans who know the facts about Israel’s deliberate June 8, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty as “conspiracy theorists.” In order to discredit James Morris’ very public raising of the McCain family’s subsequent involvement in the incident, David Edwards explains:
Conspiracy theorists have long accused McCain and his father, Admiral John S. McCain Jr., of participating in a cover up regarding the USS Liberty.
A little research, however, would have shown that on January 9, 2004, Captain Ward Boston, Jr., USN (Ret.), Senior Counsel to the USS Liberty Court of Inquiry, made the following sworn affidavit:
The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 American sailors and injured 172 others, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew. Each evening, after hearing testimony all day, we often spoke our private thoughts concerning what we had seen and heard. I recall Admiral Kidd repeatedly referring to the Israeli forces responsible for the attack as “murderous bastards.” It was our shared belief, based on the documentary evidence and testimony we received first hand, that the Israeli attack was planned and deliberate, and could not possibly have been an accident.
I am certain that the Israeli pilots that undertook the attack, as well as their superiors, who had ordered the attack, were well aware that the ship was American.
I saw the flag, which had visibly identified the ship as American, riddled with bullet holes, and heard testimony that made it clear that the Israelis intended there be no survivors. Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded — a war crime.
Admiral Kidd and I both felt it necessary to travel to Israel to interview the Israelis who took part in the attack. Admiral Kidd telephoned Admiral McCain to discuss making arrangements. Admiral Kidd later told me that Admiral McCain was adamant that we were not to travel to Israel or contact the Israelis concerning this matter.
Explaining why he had waited for more than 30 years to speak out, Capt. Boston stated:
I am outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of “mistaken identity.”
In particular, the recent publication of Jay Cristol’s book, The Liberty Incident, twists the facts and misrepresents the views of those of us who investigated the attack.
It is Cristol’s insidious attempt to whitewash the facts that has pushed me to speak out.
Nevertheless, Sen. McCain offered this endorsement for Cristol’s whitewashing of Israel’s attack:
“After years of research for this book, Judge A. Jay Cristol has reached a similar conclusion to one my father reached in his June 18, 1967, endorsement of the findings of the court of inquiry. I commend Judge Cristol for his thoroughness and fairness, and I commend this work.”
As Capt. Ward Boston concluded in his affidavit:
Contrary to the misinformation presented by Cristol and others, it is important for the American people to know that it is clear that Israel is responsible for deliberately attacking an American ship and murdering American sailors, whose bereaved shipmates have lived with this egregious conclusion for many years.
They will never know, however, if they keep reading so-called “alternative” media like The Raw Story — notwithstanding its claim to be “a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media.”
- ‘Jerk!’: McCain rips Memorial Day heckler (rawstory.com)
- McCain set to launch international think tank for interventionists (alethonews.wordpress.com)