In New York City, the police are currently investigating hate crimes which occurred when the Israeli basketball team played in the city. At an arena where the team played, a Muslim woman was assaulted for wearing hijab and says she wants justice.
Outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York City, friends and supporters of Nerden Mohsen Kiswani gathered to speak out about the recent incident, and say they want justice for what they call a “cowardly hate crime” perpetrated against her at Barclays Center earlier this month.
Kiswani was attacked by a group of Israeli men as she watched the basketball game. She was targeted because she was wearing hijab. After she was attacked, the police seemed under-interested, and let her attackers escape. Amin Hussein, a Palestinian-American lawyer, said that the atmosphere inside of Barclays Center, with Jewish fans gathering to support the Israeli team, was very frightening.
Kiswani’s attorney, Lamis Deek, pointed out that the ring-leader of the group that assaulted her was Leonard Petlakh, a well known Zionist activist and college professor. At the press conference, it was pointed out that after the incident Leonard Petlakh claimed Palestine protesters had assaulted him, and his allegations were widely circulated in the press. However, the New York City Hate Crimes Task Force determined after investigation that no hate crimes against Petlakh had taken place.
The FBI counter-terrorism division is calling on to Americans to report on fellow citizens engaged in suspicious activities to help identify possible terrorists, in the first place those connected to terrorist activities overseas.
In a statement published by the FBI on Tuesday, assistant director of the counter-terrorism division Michael Steinbach said the Bureau needs “the public’s assistance in identifying US persons, going to fight overseas with terrorist groups or who are returning home from fighting overseas.”
Any useful information about terror suspects can be sent to the FBI’s website or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI, the agency announced.
Steinbach also asked the American public to help identifying a man from an IS propaganda video aimed at appealing to a Western audience.
In the 55-minute video, a masked man addressed a group of alleged Islamic State prisoners in Arab and English.
“Dressed in desert camouflage and wearing a shoulder holster, the masked man can be seen standing in front of purported prisoners as they dig their own graves and then later presiding over their executions,” the FBI said. His accent is believed to be North American, he added.
“We’re hoping that someone might recognize this individual and provide us with key pieces of information,” Steinbach said, adding: “No piece of information is too small.”
There have been a number of arrests of terror suspects made on American soil since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Dozens of American citizens in recent years have joined various terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Taliban militants in Pakistan or the Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.
Yet now there is a new global international terrorist organization called the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), that has captured large areas of Iraq and Syria, and is fighting with all of its neighbors: the Iraqi army, the Syrian army and Kurdish Peshmerga self-defense forces.
On Saturday, the FBI arrested Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, who was preparing to board a flight to Vienna with the alleged intention of traveling to Syria via Turkey, and of joining the Islamic State terrorist organization.
“We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day,” Khan wrote, explaining his motivations in a three-page letter to his parents discovered in his bedroom by FBI agents. “I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this,” he wrote, the AP reported.
As of August, there were a reported 12,000 militants from 50 nations fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State militia, the US State Department estimated.
Recently, Twitter was abuzz with its latest agent provocateur tweeting in support of the orcs of our time, ISIS.
I’ve emblazoned the image with the word “Fake” in order to avoid spreading this nonsense unwittingly.
The tweets of this person declaring her undying devotion and love for ISIS from right here within the borders of the United States garnered some pretty ludicrous responses. After all, ignorance only begets ignorance.
On the blogosphere it was much worse. There were serious efforts to locate her and murder her:
In this crazed flurry of suggestions to bomb Mecca and Medina, to kill Muslims, and to even go as far as attempting to find and kill this girl, these folks overlooked a glaring detail that I was able to discern in 5 minutes. “Ahimla Jihada” is fake. Twitter apparently discovered this early on and any attempt to access the Twitter account @ahimla2 will reach this page:
So who is she? First and foremost, the name “Ahimla” doesn’t exist in any language on earth. Google it. All you will get are nutters plotting to kill this phantom or results thinking you misspelled the Indian city “Shimla”.
You won’t find a single person on earth named “Ahimla”. People have all kinds of crazy names. Frank Zappa named his kids Dweezil, Moon Unit, and even —as awesome as it is— Rodan. Ving Rhames named his kid Reignbeau. Yes. Pronounced “Rainbow”. David Duchovny named his kid…well…Kyd. But the twit behind this fake Twitter account had to use the one name that just didn’t exist on planet earth. Finally, the last name “Jihada”? That really took a lot of thought.
As for the picture, herein is something very sad and a lesson in sleuthing fabricated propaganda on the internet. Bookmark the URL https://www.tineye.com/ right now. Using this website you can upload any image and it will search the internet for every instance of the image and even similar images going back for years.
I always use this site whenever I get images over social media allegedly portraying atrocities committed in some crisis point of the world. A majority of the time those pictures end up being lifted from something completely unrelated to what they are purported to represent. Don’t get duped! I hope everyone will start using this site to verify the authenticity of images that make claims with an objective of manipulating public opinion.
In this case I was able to find the source of this poor girl’s image. It was taken on April 1, 2009, five years ago, by a photographer who thought this girl’s infectiously cute smile would make a great picture. It was lifted from his Flickr account. Here’s the link to the original post:
Note, that he titled the picture “Angel Face”. How both ironic and tragic is it that this young girl’s angelic face was used to represent such great evil by someone who can be described as no less than a diabolical liar. Not only is this innocent girl’s life in danger but there are clearly people ready to exact violence upon any girl who even looks like her. That would be any Muslim woman who wears a scarf.
In the end, there are two critical details to be gleaned from this:
First, in the absence of any American-Muslims supporting such terrorist organizations they found the need to fabricate such a person. American-Muslims deserve a pat on the back for this. We have all kinds of crazies just like anyone else, but we should be proud that these incognito Islamophobes couldn’t find a real extremist to retweet. They had to fabricate one.
Second, it should make everyone painfully aware of what we’re up against. There are dubious forces from an increasingly belligerent political Right [is Loonwatch unable to use the word Zionist?] who are out to brainwash, by hook or crook, the American public into hating their fellow citizens of the Muslim faith and to justify a foreign policy in the “10/40 Window” that has tarnished America’s reputation globally and needlessly puts our men and women in uniform in harm’s way. It’s high time we fight misinformation with information.
What’s your image of Denmark? Apart from the Little Mermaid, Carlsberg beer and H.C. Andersen perhaps something with decency, welfare, development aid, equality and peace?
Unfortunately, that image is outdated. During the last good 15 years Denmark has participated in wars on/in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, it was an occupying country in Iraq for four years and a main bomber nation of Libya.
The government’s decision earlier today to send 7 F16s to fight with the U.S. increases the risk of terror actions against Denmark.
It must have been known for quite some time since, about a month ago, the Danish government decided to send a Hercules transport plane with humanitarian aid to Iraq. Most likely, it was a set-up because it was immediately changed into a Hercules transport plane + 55 soldiers to assist the U.S. and the Kurds.
Today’s decision is a violation of the UN Charter – the spirit of the Preamble as well as Article 1 which states that peace shall be established by peaceful means – and, later, only when everything has been tried and found in vain can a military action be decided.
Denmark must now calculate with Danish casualties and, even worse, with taking responsibility for scores of innocent civilians’ death – something that can’t be avoided when targeting individuals from the air.
The decision documents that Denmark has learnt nothing from the earlier – failed – wars and that it does not have alternative expertise.
The common sense, solidarity and humanity that characterised Denmark, at least to some extent, about 20 years ago is now eradicated and replaced by thoughtless militarism; its only guideline has been and is: Accept willingly and unconditionally what the US does and follow it when it calls upon you to do its dirty job – His Master’s Voice.
If you think I exaggerate: There is not one major policy or decision the last 30-40 years where Denmark has shown the courage to stand up against Washington.
Millions of dollars are allocated to state-financed research institutes, military analysis centres and mainstream thinking that “explains” and legitimizes the policies. (The only peace research institute, COPRI, which was very well evaluated by international scholars was destroyed by the government of Anders Fogh Rasmussen who also made Denmark an occupying power – only to be rewarded with the position of NATO Secretary-General).
It is my judgement that the decision to participate in the war on Iraq was the largest foreign policy blunder in Denmark since 1945.
I wrote ”Predictable Fiasco” in which the present situation in Iraq was predicted fairly precisely and I presented a 20-point plan on what to do instead of war.
Thus I don’t know how to characterise a decision by a Social Democratic-led government to go to war in Iraq for a second time!
PM Helle Thorning Schmidt presented the decision around lunch time today Friday September 26. Each of her arguments and assumptions were dubious, anti-intellectual and constructed to suit the event
1) She said that this was not a war because ISIS is not a state (!!) – now you know the level of what followed.
But this is war no matter what her spin doctors may have invented. Those who in the thousands will be killed – ISIS people as well as civilians – can’t see it as anything but war. And nothing but military equipment is being used.
2) As mentioned above, the decision violates the UN Charter.
3) Mission creep is already a fact. First, Denmark should send only humanitarian aid, then it changed to military aid and now 7 F16s – the next step is likely to be what is constantly denied and therefore rather safe to predict: Boots on the ground.
4) It will not be a short, limited affair – it could well last for years. ISIS may be relatively small in numbers but could grow fast – there is enough of hatred; it has a lot of funds from Western allies such as Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Bahrein – who are playing a double game. And they have advanced weapons, a lot of it U.S.-produced, stolen from the Iraqis.
5) ISIS is the result of more than 100 years of Western arrogance in the region – wars, deceit, lies and agreements such as Sykes-Picot (1916) and Balfour – imposing of Western values, occupations (foremost Iraq), base-building, stealing of oil and coup d’etats. The list is long!
6) This action as a whole will only have one result: More terrorists. The entire ‘War on Terror’ is wrongly conceived from October 7, 2001. We can’t rid the world of terrorism by killing terrorists and ignoring the underlying causes any more than we can combat criminality by killing criminals.
Eventually there will be a blowback, a boomerang effect.
7) The Danish government now gives ISIS and others a perfect reason for targeting Denmark. It puts the security of the Danish citizens at risk – something that must be seen in relation also to the Muhammad caricatures as well as Denmark’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
While it is the first duty of a government to secure the lives and safety of its people, the Danish government does the opposite. To be loyal to Its Master’s Voice.
Add to this that Obama’s speech about how to combat ISIS was a manifest disappointment with neither strategy nor a vision for the future of the region. It boiled down to the bizarre: We kill people who kill people because it is wrong to kill people! (Deliver back that Nobel Peace prize medal, Mr. President!)
Finally, Denmark’s defence, security and foreign policy establishment increasingly looks like a one-party system with very little diversity.
All security research at its Institute for International Studies is financed by – you guessed it! – the Ministry of Defence. Not much research there on peace by peaceful means or alternative defence, peace-making, reconciliation, forgiveness etc.
Since 1975 when Denmark bought F16s a MIMAK has developed – a Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex with a degree of consent that is pathetic for a society that professes to be pluralist, democratic, humanist and open (-minded).
In particular, Denmark has been rewarded with lots of contracts for its booming military industry – and plans to waste at least US$ 5 billion on new fighter planes.
So, next week the Danish Parliament will – probably with one small left-wing party as dissenter – endorse that Denmark goes to war yet again, for a fifth time – only to cash in yet another fiasco (to be denied).
This only goes to show that democracy is forced to give in to militarism – because there is a considerable opinion in Denmark that does not support this and also did not support the four preceding wars.
Like in Norway and Sweden (exception in the latter: the xenophobic Sweden Democrats) those of us believing in international law and who have the idea that peace is better than war have no party anymore that represents our views.
In summary, the Denmark and the Norden you may think you know is changing and we need a debate about this moral and intellectual defeat under MIMAK in our countries.
But certainly people in the rest of the world who used to look up to Scandinavia should know and tell us what they think.
Rogue states, big and small, is a problem to the whole world. And the sooner they change, the better for all.
Why would the NY Daily News or any publication believe an anonymous Saudi source concerning any subject?
ISIS has become the scare du jour of world politics. While ISIS is a profoundly disturbing phenomenon for which the world should develop some sort of response, the problem is that the Islamist movement has become a useful foil for many varied political interests from Israel to the U.S. Islamophobes among the Euro-nationalist far-right and the U.S. Tea Party have latched onto ISIS as their political gravy train. Bibi Netanyahu, ever alert to memes he can exploit to promote Israel’s interests, made the memorable, and profoundly mendacious statement: “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.” Senator Bill Nelson, who has a huge elderly Jewish constituency and is allied closely with the Israel Lobby, said this today:
“Any group that sets them [sic] up as a religious caliphate and says that they will not stop until the black flag of ISIS is flying over the White House — I take that pretty seriously,” he said.
No ISIS leader has ever made such a statement. But Nelson appears to be watching FoxNews, because it claimed ISIS said so. The fact that a major national political leader would air such nonsense is disturbing. There is enough to hate about ISIS without making things up out of whole cloth.
Then we have the tried and true Wall Street Journal, always good for a bit of Islamophobic hysteria. This is the headline for Ryan Crocker’s op-ed: Islamic State Is Getting Stronger, and It’s Targeting America. The neo-cons are on the warpath demanding that we “eviscerate” ISIS, that we engage in some sort of a counter-jihad. Which is just what both the world and America need, yet another war against Islam in the Mideast.
Similarly, Israeli media have reported that a freed French journalist held hostage by ISIS identified the Belgian museum attacker as an adherent of ISIS. While the journalist, who worked for the right-wing French daily Le Point, did say Mehdi Nemmouche tortured and abused him and others while he was held in custody, he never made any statement about the alleged terrorist’s affiliations. So when Nemmouche left Syria was he affiliated with ISIS? Why did he leave? Had he broken with ISIS? Had ISIS broken with him? And if so, why?
The implication of this Israeli reporting was that the attack which killed two Israeli intelligence agents may’ve been the work of ISIS. In fact, no one knows whether Nemmouche was acting on his own or on behalf of another Islamist group. Any speculation to the contrary is just that.
Open Democracy has published an incisive piece raising uncomfortable similarities between ISIS and Israel’s religion-derived claims of authority and sovereignty.
All this leads to the next logical question: what threat does ISIS really pose to U.S. national interests? If it doesn’t pose such a threat, then what should our response to it be? Does it threaten other interests or values that are important to us? And what will be the outcome of any form of intervention we choose to take? … Full article
As the 13th anniversary of the crimes of September, 2001 approaches, the neoconservatives are shrieking from the rooftops – and effectively confessing that they were the real perpetrators of the 9/11-Anthrax false flag operation. (The neocons, you may recall, openly called for a “new Pearl Harbor” in September, 2000 – and got one exactly one year later.)
Every year at this time, the neocons orchestrate and hype a series of public relations stunts designed to magnify fears of “radical Islam” and reinforce their crumbling 9/11-Anthrax cover story. But this year’s propaganda campaign is so extreme that it represents a tacit confession: The neocons know that the truth about the 9/11-Anthrax operation is slowly closing in on them; so they are over-reacting by desperately trying to stoke the dying embers of the so-called War on Terror, in order to maintain the myth that Muslims (rather than neoconservative Zionists) attacked America in the autumn of 2001.
When a hysterical person exhibits guilty demeanor by trying too hard to blame a crime on someone else, that person is almost certainly the real perpetrator. As the neocons try much too hard to blame Islam for 9/11 and “terrorism” in general, their hysteria inadvertently reveals their own culpability. Like Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth, the neoconservative movement has blood on its hands and “doth protest too much.”
This year, the shrill yelps of neocons unveiling their 9/11-Anthrax guilt are downright ear-splitting. Everywhere you look in the Zionist-dominated mainstream media, some neocon asset is hyping a ridiculous story about an “Islamic terrorist threat” – and tying it to the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.
Consider the preposterous legend, planted by neocons at Fox News then picked up by the rest of the media, that 11 missing Libyan jetliners may attack the USA on September 11th, 2014. The original Fox News story quotes an unnamed and probably imaginary US government official as saying: “There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing. We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”
The quote makes no sense. If Libyan commercial airliners were stolen by terrorists, they would not be making commercial flights, and therefore could not be hijacked. Additionally, commercial aircraft are (from a military perspective) big, fat, slow, and easy to locate, intercept, and if necessary shoot down.
Beginning more than a decade before 9/11, all of the hundreds of American commercial aircraft that significantly deviated from their course were intercepted by a fighter aircraft in about ten minutes…except for the four allegedly hijacked flights of September 11th, 2001. Those “hijacked” behemoths, we were told, lumbered unmolested through the skies of America for nearly two hours, while fighter jets were ordered to fly out over the Atlantic and circle aimlessly rather than defend Washington, DC.
The notion that Libyan commercial aircraft could threaten America is ludicrous. The story is a sick fantasy dreamed up by some neocon public relations firm. Its purpose is to subliminally reinforce the myth of the “radical Islamic terror threat” launched by the much larger neocon PR stunt of September 11th, 2001 and the follow-up anthrax letters.
It isn’t just Fox News hysterically hyping September terror. Newsmax, which like Fox is a neocon propaganda vehicle, has concocted a bizarre fantasy with another neocon group, Judicial Watch, about al-Qaeda and Islamic State (which are sworn enemies) teaming up to invade the US from Mexico. The Newsmax story is headlined: “‘Imminent’ Terror Attack Warning on US Border.” It begins: “Islamic State and al-Qaida terrorist cells are operating in a Mexican border town and are plotting to attack the United States with car bombs and improvised explosive devices.”
This story is not just self-evidently fictitious; it is downright insane. It seems that someone in a neoconservative PR office somewhere has overdosed on imagination pills.
The delusional legends of “11 Libyan jetliners” and “Mexican takfiri invaders” (like the fake beheadings of Mossad agents posing as journalists) are just the most recent examples of neocons spouting farcical fantasies to cover their 9/11-Anthrax tracks. They have been dreaming up these surreal anecdotes on a regular basis for almost 13 years, beginning just minutes after the attack on the World Trade Center, when an actor known as “Harley guy” – obviously hired by the 9/11 perpetrators – launched the preposterous fiction that the buildings’ explosive demolition was the accidental result of plane crashes and relatively minor fires ignited by an otherwise insignificant amount of jet fuel.
In his new book The 2001 Anthrax Deception, Canadian professor Graeme MacQueen shows how many of the guilt-revealing delusional tales spread by the neocons in the autumn of 2001 related to the anthrax component of the 9/11-Anthrax false flag operation. Most damningly of all, the neocons launched their fear-of-anthrax propaganda campaign before anyone but the perpetrators could have known about the anthrax letters!
Beginning on September 22nd, 2001 – two weeks before the first anthrax letters were discovered in October – the neoconservatives launched a wave of stories claiming that radical Muslims were going to attack America with anthrax, perhaps by dropping anthrax on Americans using crop duster airplanes. One of those neoconservative propagandists, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, has publicly admitted that he began taking the anti-anthrax drug Cipro weeks before the anthrax attacks were known to anyone but the perpetrators.
In a 2008 Slate Magazine article Cohen foolishly bragged: “I had been told soon after Sept. 11th to secure Cipro, the antidote to anthrax. The tip had come in a roundabout way from a high government official, and I immediately acted on it. I was carrying Cipro way before most people had ever heard of it.”
Who were the “high government officials” who knew the anthrax attacks were coming – and who therefore must have been the real criminals behind the attacks? They included Dick Cheney and George Bush, who began taking Cipro on September 11th, 2001 even though the anthrax attacks would not be known to anyone but the perpetrators until October.
Why did Bush and Cheney begin taking Cipro on September 11th, 2001? They were told to do so by Jerome Hauer, a self-proclaimed expert on both bioterrorism and building collapses. Hauer ran New York’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7 prior to 9/11. Many researchers believe that the controlled demolitions of the Twin Towers were planned and set in motion from that OEM bunker in WTC-7; that WTC-7 was subsequently demolished to destroy evidence; and that Jerome Hauer was one of the key designers of the 9/11-Anthrax mass murders.
On the morning of September 11th – before anyone could possibly have known why the World Trade Center Towers had exploded into pyroclastic clouds of very fine dust – Jerome Hauer, like his hired actor “Harley guy,” appeared on television telling Americans that the skyscrapers had “just fallen down” due to the modest office fires ignited by jet fuel.
While the mainstream media are still trying to cover up 9/11-Anthrax, they have been forced to admit that most neocon stories fanning the flames of the so-called War on Terror have been lies. Some failed neocon lies planted in American newspapers include:
*”Mohammed Atta visited Saddam Hussein’s agents in Prague before 9/11.”
*”One of the alleged 9/11 hijackers was treated for anthrax.”
*”One of the hijacker’s bodies from Flight 93 tested positive for anthrax.”
*”Saddam Hussein obtained ‘yellowcake’ from Niger to build nuclear weapons.”
*”Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was planning to attack America.”
*”The Iraqis will welcome American invaders with flowers and candy, and American-occupied Iraq will quickly become a peaceful, prosperous, Israel-loving democracy – while Iraqi oil will pay for the war and push gasoline prices to historic lows.”
Though the Zionist-extremist neoconservatives have been caught lying dozens of times – and their lies have led to the deaths of more than a million innocent people – they have not yet been prosecuted for their crimes against humanity. So they keep lying in order to keep killing… and their lies keep getting shriller and more extreme as they “flee forward” to escape prosecution for their past misdeeds.
This neocon “flight forward” leads directly toward World War III. Only by prosecuting the neocon architects of 9/11-Anthrax, and thereby spectacularly discrediting the neoconservative philosophy of ultra-Machievellian deception, can we prevent the world from being reduced to radioactive rubble.
A PhD student from Saudi Arabia has been stabbed to death for wearing Islamic dress while walking to her university campus in Essex, northeast of London, a report says.
Nahid Almanea, 31, was stabbed 16 times on a footpath with officers believing that she was targeted for wearing a traditional Muslim dress, a long robe and a headscarf, the Huffington Post reported.
According to Essex police, Almanea died on the spot after receiving the knife wounds in her body, neck, head and arms.
The University of Essex said Almanea was a “very hard-working and conscientious” student and was expected to finish her studies later this year.
Her body was later transferred to Saudi Arabia’s al-Jawf Province where a large crowd gathered to take part in her funeral ceremony.
A 52-year-old man was reportedly arrested in connection with her death.
“This isn’t the first attack on a Muslim student and certainly is not the last on a member of the Muslim community in the UK. We will naturally wait for all evidence to become clear. However, if the attack turns out to be Islamophobic in nature because of her Muslim appearance, then it will correlate with the disturbing exponential increase in hate crimes against Muslims here in the UK,” said Omar Ali, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).
The attack prompted strong reactions from people in the UK and Saudi Arabia, who all condemned such attacks on Muslims. Several Saudi nationals even called on the Saudi Embassy in London to suspend business ties with the UK.
What does an 86-year-old art photographer have in common with a young man with a video game habit?
Not just a proclivity for perfectly innocuous hobbies, unfortunately. These days, engaging in either activity can get the FBI on your case.
Today, the ACLU and our partners at Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus and Bingham McCutchen are taking the federal government to court over a surveillance program that targets people even if they are engaging in entirely innocent and constitutionally protected activity, and encourages religious profiling. As if that weren’t enough, the Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) program also violates the government’s own rules for the collection of criminal intelligence.
James Prigoff is one of our clients. He is 86 years old, and a renowned photographer of public art. He has lectured at universities and had his work exhibited at museums around the world. In 2004, he was stopped by security guards in Boston while attempting to take photos of a famous piece of public art called the Rainbow Swash, which is painted on a natural gas storage tank. Several months later, the FBI tracked him down at his house in Sacramento to question him about his activities in Boston.
Tariq Razak, a young scientist and Pakistani-American, is another plaintiff in our case. He became the subject of a SAR after a visit to a train depot in Santa Ana, California, where he had an appointment with the county employment resource center. He walked around the depot looking for the resource center, and his mother, who was wearing a hijab, accompanied him. He later discovered that this conduct led to a SAR describing him as “a male of Middle Eastern descent” who was suspicious because he was “constantly surveying all areas of the facility” and because he met up with a “female in a white burka head dress.”
Our other clients were also unfairly targeted, falling under government scrutiny for activities ranging from buying computers to playing video games. Several of them were profiled due to their perceived religious beliefs.
These “suspicious activities” may be absurd, but there’s nothing funny about the program. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Information Sharing Environment, a post-9/11 agency tasked with coordinating national security intelligence-sharing, have adopted lax standards for what constitutes “suspicious activity.” These standards violate a DOJ regulation from 1978 that prohibits law enforcement from sharing “intelligence” about individuals unless the information is supported by reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The 1978 regulation was adopted in the wake of prior domestic surveillance abuses.
Predictably, eschewing those protections has turned back the clock. The government is ignoring sensible limits on criminal intelligence collection and actively encouraging not just law enforcement, but also private security guards, shopkeepers, hotel owners, and even neighbors, to collect and share information about innocent conduct.
- Hotels are advised to be on the lookout for guests who “request specific room assignments or locations” or use “payphones for outgoing calls.”
- Rental car companies are instructed that “providing multiple names” on rental paperwork is to be “considered suspicious.”
- Hobby shops should be wary of customers with an “unusual interest” in remote-controlled aircraft and those who pay in cash.
- The general public is cautioned to report “unusual activity,” including “people acting suspiciously” and “people in places where they do not belong.”
If “acting suspiciously” or being somewhere someone thinks you don’t “belong” is enough to put people into federal counter-terrorism databases, it’s no wonder the databases are full of irrelevant information and reports targeting Muslims, South Asians, and Arab Americans. As you may remember from last year, actual SARs we obtained through Public Records Act requests include reports with subjects like “Suspicious ME [Middle Eastern] Males Buy Several Large Pallets of Water.” It’s also no wonder law enforcement experts criticize the SAR program for “flooding” law enforcement with “white noise.”
Today our clients are challenging a program through which innocuous and even constitutionally protected activity is being reported as “suspicious” and leading to federal law enforcement scrutiny. This program not only violates federal privacy protections for “intelligence” sharing. It encourages a culture of fear and distrust, undermining our freedom with no known benefit to our safety.
Our earliest intimate interaction with the foreign characters in Tyrant comes in the form of an aggressive sexual assault where we quickly learn that Bassam’s older brother Jamal is a sexual predator and philanderer in a scene featuring the first close encounter with an Arab woman. She is brutalized while her husband and small children wait outside, clearly able to hear the sounds. Juxtapose this with the show’s inaugural note between Bassam’s American and non-Arab wife, and children, who are made to appear as the quintessential American family, as the teens sit discussing the prospect of being attacked during their visit to Abbudin by “them.” We are sent flashing back and forth between the naiveté of Bassam’s immediate family and episodes of violence that overwhelm and saturate the fictional land of Abbudin, with the sounds of traditional Arabic music tossed at viewers as a constant emotional trigger which exaggerates the foreign element of the land and those who occupy it. “You better be careful, this isn’t America,” warns Bassam’s teenage daughter after her brother is told he’ll be attending a bachelor party. The Arab man is a daunting figure after all and even during the bachelor party, which is held at a sauna, there is no escaping his malevolence. Bassam calls his brother out of the sauna so they may deal with the relative of a man who is allegedly planning to attack the wedding Bassam’s family is in Abbudin to attend, and then he watches as his brother beats this man nearly to death. The towel draped around Jamal falls as he applies blow after blow to the defenseless man and then attempts to cut off his fingers. Not even the shame of his nakedness pulls him away from wielding violence.
As the story marches forward we notice that Bassam, who had left Abbudin for a more tedious but unrestrained life in America, is clearly disturbed, possibly dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and cannot even attend his nephew’s wedding without being reminded of the brutality he witnessed as a child. In a flashback we see a younger Jamal being pulled out of a vehicle by his father so he can shoot a man in the head. “The Arabs teach their children to hate,” as the stale orientalist adage goes, so it is not a far stretch for the writers to construct a murderous child influenced by the savagery of his culture. The audience now knows that his violence was part of the greater Arab mentality, which fosters a culture of hate and barbarism. Jamal’s savagery continues as we watch it being unleashed upon the next stock character we see in film and television – the Arab woman – the docile, obedient, easily manipulated and disposable creature. After witnessing his newlywed son’s wife laughing publicly alongside a male attendee of the wedding the audience immediately knows where things are going. The Arab man is angry. How dare she dishonor her husband and his relatives. Jamal soon follows her into the dressing room where she stands playing with her hair, and then the tension builds. His hands glide around the lines of her face as he lectures her on purity. “It would break Ahmed’s heart if the woman he married was not pure,” he whispers. Then, as we watch her beg him to stop, viewers are once again thrown into a brutal rape scene, this time with the second Arab woman they have been familiarized with. This is not even the last rape scene the writers crammed into the 50-some minute pilot, as later on we are shown the Arab woman at the beginning being viciously raped once more by Jamal in a moving vehicle. If you did not already view Jamal’s character as being nothing more than an insatiable barbarian it is pounded into you for good measure in that scene.
Bassam’s character, who may be categorized as being the “good Arab” in this series, is slowly undressed as we begin to examine his psychology and that of the Arab mind. Bassam is emotionally inhibited at all times and once in Abuddin his wife begins to feel a great disconnect, and the distance only grows after Bassam slaps his son across the face, twice, as she looks on – terrified. Here we find that even the “good Arab” is a monster in disguise and his identity as an American is nothing more than a frail shroud of deception, and the violence of the Arab culture is one which Bassam cannot escape, no matter how long his self-imposed exile lasts. Bassam’s wife grows anxious, confessing “I don’t know who you are anymore, I don’t think I ever did,” and suddenly a flashback: Jamal, who had been instructed by his father to kill a man, drops the gun and scurries back into the vehicle. As his father screams for him to return and finish the job we see Bassam, the younger of the pair, exit the car and stand before the man. Without hesitation he coldly points the gun at the weeping man and shoots him twice, killing him. Bassam does not flinch. The point being made here is that this is Bassam at his core, and at his core he is frighteningly cold.
The stock characters and sounds in Tyrant are the same as all other mainstream films and TV shows involving the Arabs – men with darkened beards, unnerving and penetrating rounds of ululation from veiled women and the muezzin’s call to prayer as a haunting backdrop. Then there are the elite Arabs who are flashy, play American music, and mingle with affluent white Americans. They do not adhere to religious dress codes, nor to religious moral codes, and they drink and fill themselves with the best liquor money can buy. Yet despite all this they cannot break away from the shackles of Arab society. No matter how Westernized the elite Arab woman is, with her casting away of the hijab and her captivating sexual presence, she remains a device, written into this script as being almost entirely silent but for whimpers and terse statements bolstering the fanaticism of male characters. Bassam’s teenage daughter is written into the script as being intellectually superior to the foreign Arab woman – when she is invited to the bachelorette party and told she would have fun and get a “henna tattoo” she scoffs, refusing to take part in what she finds to be a “patriarchal tradition.” The Arab woman is either dressed in subdued colours, her head lowered and sexually inhibited or she is a sensual and hyper-exotic creature that still has no authority over her sexuality but for being exploited and dehumanized by the Arab man. In Tyrant, and other similar television shows, the Arab man is a savage creature who rapes and pillages. He lovingly kisses his mother’s cheeks and hands but strikes his wife’s face and brings her crumbling to the floor beneath him. He gets drunk, dresses like the white man and speaks like the white man in bouts of broken English but is nothing more than an animal in a suit.
The evil Arab archetype is ever-present in film and television – the Arab is inept, blood-thirsty and unscrupulous in the serial drama 24, in Homeland we see the Arab and Muslim through American eyes as an abusive and murderous infiltrator and in Tyrant the one-dimensionality of the Arab is almost cartoonish. The impacts of these orientalist depictions are far reaching. These portrayals work to justify the day-to-day xenophobia Arabs and Muslims face to Israel’s current butchery in the besieged Gaza Strip; from encouraging the US spy on Muslim-Americans to rationalizing setting a Palestinian boy on fire or carpet bombing an entire people. Hollywood has not moved far beyond Lawrence of Arabia or Disney’s stereotypical portrayal of Arabs in the fictional desert-land of Agrabah who “will cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” (as the original lyric from the soundtrack goes). “It’s barbaric,” sang the peddler in Agrabah, “but hey, it’s home!” — the exotic natives dancing with veils in the streets, gargantuan swords, sorcery and over-exaggerated accents are as much a part of film and television today as they were long ago. In the 1992 film the protagonist and thief Aladdin (nicknamed “Al”) takes magic carpet rides with Princess Jasmine while in the TV series Tyrant Bassam (‘Barry’) and his family arrive in Abbudin in style by way of airplane, where they are the only passengers aboard, and their feet land on thick oriental rugs that have been laid on the ground. Here they come, straight from an American whole new world to the desert.
Dogmatists in the Justice System
Scattered throughout the ranks of U.S. federal prosecutors and judges there have always been men and women who are unwilling to make a distinction between their own biases and the rules of evidence that are designed to keep the system focused on the goal of justice. Such closed-minded individuals, embedded in the system, can find themselves set free to act out their prejudices by special circumstances. One might think back to the “hanging judges” who appeared here and there on the American frontier in the 19th century. Being among the few enforcers of law and order in an otherwise anarchic environment, they indulged their fantasies of playing the wrathful god.
The “War on Terror” has likewise created a special circumstance that has liberated Justice Department dogmatists: Islamophobes, Zionists, neoconservatives and others who fancy themselves on a special mission to protect the nation from evil and conspiratorial forces. And, as with the hanging judges before them, the result has been an enhanced possibility not of justice, but rather of the miscarriage of justice.
The Case of Sami Al-Arian
In the past twenty years one of the most notable victims of doctrinaire judges and prosecutors has been Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian is the son of Palestinian-refugee parents. He came to the United States in 1975 to attend university and earned his degree in computer systems engineering. Eventually he earned a Ph.D. and obtained a tenure-track position at the University of South Florida.
Not only did Al-Arian become a prominent professor, winning several teaching awards, but he also became a community activist, defending the civil liberties of minority groups, particularly Muslim Americans. During the Clinton administration he was an active campaigner against the Justice Department’s pre-9/11 use of “secret evidence” to hold people in jail indefinitely. He also actively and publicly supported the right of Palestinians to resist Israeli oppression.
At some point in the mid-1990s what may have been a coordinated effort to ruin Dr. Al-Arian developed among neoconservative and Zionist elements. Steven Emerson, a man who has made his living as a faux expert on terrorism and a professional Islamophobe, accused one of Al-Arian’s organizations, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, of being a “terrorist front.” This accusation proved to be baseless, but it nonetheless led other Islamophobe radicals to focus on Al-Arian. Some of these people resided within the Justice Department and the FBI, and they went on a fishing expedition looking for alleged connections between Al-Arian and a recently designated “terrorist organization” called the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
During the 2000 presidential election Al-Arian became a prominent figure in national politics as it played out in Florida. His major concern was the government’s use of secret evidence, and it was George W. Bush who promised to rein in the practice. Therefore Al-Arian backed Bush in the election. His trust in this regard proved horribly misplaced.
On September 26, 2001, Bill O’Reilly invited Al-Arian onto his TV show ostensibly to discuss Arab-American reactions to the 9/11 attacks. It was a trap. O’Reilly immediately asked Al-Arian if he had said “Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel” at a rally thirteen years before (in 1988). Though Al-Arian tried to explain that it was a reference to his support for Palestinian resistance against apartheid policies in Israel, O’Reilly proclaimed that the CIA should watch Al-Arian from now on. Almost at once Al -Arian started to receive death threats. At this point the University of South Florida placed him on administrative leave. He would eventually be fired by the University.
The O’Reilly interview may have been a public relations booster for the ongoing Justice Department investigation mentioned above. That lasted until September 2003, when Al-Arian and three others were indicted on 25 counts of “racketeering” for the PIJ. The Bush administration’s Attorney General John Ashcroft went on television to extol the indictment as a great blow against terrorism (thus confusing an indictment with a conviction) that was made possible by the extensive powers of the USA PATRIOT Act. Among these powers were those George W. Bush had promised Al-Arian he would rein in.
After a 5-month, 13-day trial Al-Arian was acquitted on 8 counts and the jury deadlocked on the remaining 17. When a juror was interviewed after the trial and asked what was lacking in the government’s case he replied, “evidence.” Nonetheless, the outcome allowed the government to hold Al-Arian pending retrial on those deadlocked counts. The case had a distinctly contrived and corrupt feel to it – the result of Islamophobes turned loose by the events of 9/11 to substitute their own biases for the rules of legal evidence.
In 2006 Dr. Al-Arian was still in prison. His health was deteriorating and the strain on his family (his wife and five children) was great. Given the situation he agreed to a plea bargain agreement whereby he would plead guilty to one count of acting in a fashion that benefited the PIJ. In exchange the other counts would be dismissed by the government. He would be incarcerated for a relatively short period on the guilty count with time already served counting toward this sentence. In order to secure the plea bargain, Al-Arian also had to agreed to be deported upon release.
Once more the government, in this case the judge and the federal prosecutor, proved untrustworthy. Despite the jury verdict, the judge had decided that Sami Al-Arian was a “master manipulator” and “a leader of Palestine Islamic Jihad.” This was exactly what the jury decided the evidence could not substantiate. However, the judge, moved by emotional convictions, had equated statements on the part of Al-Arian showing understanding of acts of Palestinian resistance with actual material support of those actions. In doing so the judge went beyond the rules of evidence and corrupted the system he was sworn to serve. The judge gave Dr. Al-Arian not the minimum recommended in the plea bargain but the maximum of 57 months for the one count to which he pled guilty.
Then began a series of additional prosecutorial steps involving the issuing of repeated subpoenas demanding that Al-Arian testify at grand jury investigations. This was also in defiance of his plea bargain and so he refused. He was held in civil and later criminal contempt which added substantially to his jail time.
So egregious was the behavior of the prosecutors seeking his testimony that another, more objective judge eventually stepped in and halted the government’s efforts to force Sami Al-Arian’s to appear before grand juries. Dr. Al-Arian was also let out of prison and allowed to live under a liberal form of house arrest at his daughter’s home in Virginia. His case was held in a kind of legal limbo until just recently, when on 27 June 2014, prosecutors decided to drop all charges against Al-Arian. One should not think of this as a total victory, for the government still intends to deport Sami Al-Arian.
Sami Al-Arian and his family had to endure eleven years of persecution on the basis of assumptions that were substituted for evidence. In the process the life of an upright man, devoted to teaching, charitable works and the cause of a persecuted people, was ruined. The people who did this to him simultaneously corrupted the justice system the integrity of which they were sworn to uphold.
While Sami Al-Arian was perhaps the most high-profile of these cases, his was not the only one. Four members of the Holy Land Foundation charity were charged with materially aiding Hamas when, in fact, all the foundation did was supply money to charitable Palestinian organizations which had been accredited by Israel. It took two trials, one in 2007 and another 2008, for the U.S. government to eke out a conviction on weak evidence that included the testimony of anonymous Israeli witnesses. The Supreme Court refused to interfere with this prima facie unconstitutional procedure.
At present a Palestinian civil rights activist in Chicago, Rasmea Odeh, is being prosecuted for an alleged immigration fraud for failing to report on her immigration application that forty-five years ago, when she was a child, she was arrested by the Israeli military and briefly held without charge. The same prosecutor who went after the Holy Land Foundation is involved in the prosecution of Odeh.
Times of high tension often result in the lowering of important standards in the application of law. They do so by heightening the fears of the general public, which in turn gives license to bigots embedded in the justice system such as judges and prosecutors who have Islamophobic prejudices, Zionist biases, or neoconservative delusions. All of these motives may come into play in cases such as those mentioned above.
Normally the appeals process should catch and reverse such problematic behavior. However, if the period of public fear is prolonged, the appeals process might also become corrupted by public hysteria and political pressures. It took Sami Al-Arian eleven years to overcome his prosecutorial ordeal and those of the Holy Foundation members and Rasmea Odeh are ongoing.
The last word on this dilemma should go to Sami Al-Arian’s son, Abdullah, who in a recent statement observed,“It’s a sad day when you have to leave America to be free.” Indeed, when dogmatists are in control none of us are really free.
We already wrote about Glenn Greenwald’s big story concerning how the FBI has been spying on prominent Muslim American politicians, lawyers and civil rights activists. If you follow this stuff closely, you may have heard that Greenwald was originally supposed to publish that story last week, but held off at the last minute due to some “new information” from the government. This resulted in some silly and ill-informed conspiracy theories, but in the article Greenwald explains what actually happened:
The Justice Department did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, or for clarification about why the five men’s email addresses appear on the list. But in the weeks before the story was published, The Intercept learned that officials from the department were reaching out to Muslim-American leaders across the country to warn them that the piece would contain errors and misrepresentations, even though it had not yet been written.
Prior to publication, current and former government officials who knew about the story in advance also told another news outlet that no FISA warrant had been obtained against Awad during the period cited. When The Intercept delayed publication to investigate further, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence refused to confirm or deny the claim, or to address why any of the men’s names appear on the FISA spreadsheet. Prior to 2008, however, FISA required only an authorization from the attorney general—not a court warrant—for surveillance against Americans located overseas. Awad frequently travelled to the Middle East during the timeframe of his surveillance.
The fact that it was out warning people that the story was inaccurate before anything had even been written is… quite telling. Also, the fact that it only seemed to focus on the lack of a FISA warrant (and against one individual) seems like the standard form of the intelligence community choosing their words especially carefully to say one thing, while implying something else entirely. Now that the report has actually come out, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has issued a statement that is more of the same. You will note, for instance, that it does not deny spying on the five named individuals — only that it doesn’t spy on people because of their political, religious or activist views:
It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.
Unlike some other nations, the United States does not monitor anyone’s communications in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
Our intelligence agencies help protect America by collecting communications when they have a legitimate foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose.
Again, note the specific denial they’re making. They’re not denying they spied on these five individuals. They’re claiming that if they spied on them, it wasn’t because of their religion — though the evidence presented in the Intercept article certainly rules out many other explanations. And, remember, it was just a week ago that it was revealed that the NSA, does, in fact, consider people interested in Tor or open source privacy to be extremists. So, while it may be technically true that these individuals weren’t targeted because of their religion, it does seem fairly clear that the intelligence community has fairly low standards for what it takes to convince themselves that someone may be a threat.
Furthermore, the statement admits that there are cases where it spies on people without approval from the FISA Court, but doesn’t say what those examples are beyond “in an emergency.” That may imply the only cases are in an emergency, but that’s not what the statement actually says:
With limited exceptions (for example, in an emergency), our intelligence agencies must have a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for electronic surveillance.
These court orders are issued by an independent federal judge only if probable cause, based on specific facts, are established that the person is an agent of a foreign power, a terrorist, a spy, or someone who takes orders from a foreign power.
And, again, as the Intercept report itself notes, prior to 2008, there were different standards in place for people traveling overseas (even Americans) which could explain how some of these individuals were targeted.
The ODNI statement more or less concludes by suggesting that the five people named may have been agents of foreign powers, which is quite a claim:
No U.S. person can be the subject of surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs.
On the other hand, a person who the court finds is an agent of a foreign power under this rigorous standard is not exempted just because of his or her occupation.
It’s a neat little out. Accused of spying on five Americans who pretty clearly do not appear to be agents of foreign powers, just hint strongly that they really are agents of foreign powers. It’s back to the good old days of McCarthyism.
Pascal Boniface is a specialist in what the French call ‘geopolitics’. His output has been prodigious, traversing a wide variety of subjects. His latest book was published in May, titled: La France malade du conflit israélo-palestinien. For his literary efforts in this arena, Boniface has moved from respected commentator to being persona non grata in the mainstream media.
This story begins in 2001. Boniface was an adviser to the Parti Socialiste, with the PS then in a cohabitation government under RPR President Jacques Chirac and PS Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. In April 2001, he wrote an opinion for PS officials. The Party’s approach to Israel is based on realpolitik rather than on ethical principles, and it was time for a reappraisal.
Boniface published an article to the same effect in Le Monde in August 2001, which led to a response and rebuke by the then Israeli ambassador. Boniface then became fair game for the Israel lobby (my term – Boniface assiduously avoids it). Boniface was accused, via selective quotation, of urging the PS to cynically cater to the French Arab/Muslim community, more numerous than the Jewish community, to gain electoral advantage. As recently as January 2014, Alain Finkielkraut (rabble-rouser on the ‘Islamist’ problem in France) denounced Boniface on the same grounds.
The 1300 word 2001 note is reproduced in Boniface’s latest book. In a prefatory note to the reproduction, Boniface notes: “How many times have I not heard that one can’t move on the Middle East because of the ‘Jewish vote’ (sic) which of course does not exist but which nevertheless is largely taken on board by the elected of all sides.” Again, “It is not because there are more Arabs than Jews that it is necessary to condemn the Israeli Occupation; it is rather because the Occupation is illegal and illegitimate, contrary to universal principles and to the right of peoples to govern themselves.”
In the note itself, Boniface opines: “The intellectual terrorism that consists of accusing of anti-Semitism those who don’t accept the politics of Israeli governments (as opposed to the state of Israel), profitable in the short term, will prove to be disastrous in the end.” Paraphrasing Boniface: ‘… it will act to reinforce and expand an irritation with the French Jewish community, and increasingly isolate it at the national level.’ Boniface concludes:
“It is better to lose an election than to lose one’s soul. But in putting on the same level the government of Israel and the Palestinians, one risks simply to lose both. Does the support of Sharon [then Prime Minister] warrant a loss in 2002? It is high time that the PS … faces the reality of a situation more and more abnormal, more and more perceived as such, and which besides does not serve … the interests in the medium and long term of the Israeli people and of the French Jewish community.”
As Boniface highlights in 2014, “This note, alas, retains its topicality.”
Then comes 9/11 in September. There is the second Intifada in Palestine. Boniface wanted an internal debate in the PS, but is accused of anti-Semitism. The glib denunciation of terrorism brings with it a prohibition against the questioning of its causes.
Not content to be silenced, Boniface wrote a book in 2003, titled Est-il permis de critique Israël ?. Boniface was rejected by seven publishing houses before finding a publisher. In 2011, Boniface published a book titled Les Intellectuels Faussaires (The Counterfeit Intellectuals). In that book he called to account eight prominent individuals, not for their views (virulently pro-Israel, Neo-cons, Islamophobes) but because he claims, with evidence, that they persistently bend the truth. Yet they all regularly appear on the French mainstream media as expert commentators. The point here is that the 2011 book was rejected by fourteen publishers; add those who Boniface knew would be a waste of time approaching. Belatedly, Boniface found a willing small-scale publisher for Faussaires, and it has sold well in spite of a blackout in outlets that Boniface had expected some coverage.
Boniface also notes that Michel Bôle-Richard, recognized journalist at Le Monde, experienced a rejection for his manuscript Israël, le nouvel apartheid by ten publishing houses before he found a small-scale publisher in 2013. Boniface’s La France malade was rejected by the house that published his 2003 book. By default, it has been published by a small-scale Catholic press, Éditions Salvator. As Boniface notes, ‘this is symptomatic of the climate in France and precisely why this book had to be written’. It’s noteworthy that much of the non-mainstream media, including Marianne, Le Canard Enchainé and Mediapart, steers clear of the issue.
Boniface’s book is not about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Rather, it is about the parlous influence of the domestic Israel lobby on French politics and French society more broadly. Boniface claims that one can criticize any government in the world (one can even mercilessly attack the reigning French President), but not that of Israel.
After 2001, the PS was pressured to excommunicate him. Two regional presses ceased to publish his articles. There were attempts to discredit his organization – the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques – and to have him removed. He has been slurred as an anti-Semite.
At the peak of French Jewish organizations is the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France. CRIF’s formal dominant concern is the combating of anti-Semitism. At its annual dinner, its President cites the yearly total of recorded anti-Semitic incidents, berating the assembled political elite (‘the turn up of Ministers rivals that of the 14th July’) who don’t dare to reply.
There are indeed recurring anti-Semitic events, and there was a noticeable surge for several years in the early 2000s. Prime Minister Jospin was blamed for not keeping a lid on troublemakers (read Arab/Muslim) from the banlieues. The Socialists were ousted in 2002 and CRIF became a vocal advocate for and supporter of the new Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy’s domestic hard-line against civil disorder.
But Jospin was ‘guilty’ of more. One of the PS’s most ardent supporters of Israel, Jospin visited Israel and the Occupied Territories in 1999. Experiencing the latter first hand, his government’s policy towards Sharon-led Israel becomes less ardent. For CRIF, France’s less than a 100% plus pro-Israel stance puts French Jews at greater risk, so CRIF maintains as its imperative to influence both foreign and domestic policy. After the Merah murders of (amongst others) three Jewish children and an adult at a Toulouse school in 2012, CRIF was still laying blame on Jospin. As Boniface notes, CRIF perennially attempts to influence France’s policies but refrains from attempting to influence Israel’s policies.
When the publisher of Boniface’s 2003 book rejected the latest proposal (originally planned as a revised edition of the earlier book), the excuse was that it was over-laden with statistics. Statistics there are (helped by French infatuation with surveys and polling), and they ground Boniface’s cause.
Boniface highlights a change in attitudes after the 1960s. Anti-Semitism was still observably prevalent in the 1960s (would you accept Jews as in-laws?, a Jewish President?, etc.) but has since been consistently in decline. At the same time, popular support for Israel has experienced consistent decline. Until 1967, support for Israel, as the ‘underdog’, in France was high. Gradually attitudes have changed. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 is a turning point. Increasingly the manifestations of conflict – the intifadas, the failures at Camp David and later of Oslo – are blamed on Israel. Increasingly, the sympathy is more in favor of the occupied rather than the occupier.
In 2003, a European-wide survey produced the result that the greatest percentage of those surveyed thought that, of all countries, Israel was a threat to world peace – ahead of the US, Iran and North Korea, and so on. If the facts are ugly then bury them. There has been no subsequent comparable survey.
With anti-Semitism down and dislike for Israeli government policies up, the main agenda of CRIF has been to become a ‘second ambassador’ for Israel under cover of the supposed omnipresent pall of anti-Semitism in France. Other organizations like the Bureau national de vigilance contre l’anti-sémitisme (BNVCA) and the Union des étudiants juifs de France (UEJF) are part of the Israel cheer squad.
Boniface cites CRIF President Roger Cukierman in 2005: “Teachers have a demanding task to teach our children … the art of living together, the history of religions, of slavery, of anti-Semitism. A labor of truth is also essential to inscribe Zionism, this movement of emancipation, amongst the great epics of human history, and not as a repulsive fantasy.” And CRIF President Richard Prasquier in 2011: “Today Jews are attacked for their support of Israel, for Israel has become the ‘Jew’ amongst nations.” After 2008, following the ascendancy of Prasquier to the CRIF presidency, CRIF institutionalizes the organization of trips to Israel by French opinion leaders, and the reception in France of Israeli personalities.
Boniface finds it odious that anti-Semitism should be ‘instrumentalized’ to protect Israeli governments regardless of their actions. There is the blanket attempt at censorship of all events and materials that open Israel’s policies to examination.
Representative is a planned gathering in January 2011 at the prestigious École normale supérieure of 300 people to debate the ‘boycott’ question. Among the participants were the Israeli militant peacenik Nurit Peled, who lost her daughter in a suicide bombing, and the formidable Stéphane Hessel. The ENS’s director cancelled the booking under direct pressure. The higher education Minister and bureaucracy were also lobbied, in turn putting pressure on the ENS.
In February 2010, Sarkozy’s Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie issued a directive criminalizing those calling for a boycott of Israeli products. The formal reason given was that such a boycott militates against the freedom of commerce. The directive imposes a jail sentence and a heavy fine, and the Justice Minister instructed prosecutors that it is to be vigorously applied. Even the magistrature has criticized the directive, noting that its claimed dependence on a 2004 anti-discrimination law is inadmissible, and that it involves ‘a juridical assault of rare violence’ against a historic means of combating crimes of state. The directive remains in force under the Hollande Presidency.
The most striking reflection of the wholesale censorship agenda of the Israel lobby is the abuse of Jewish critics of Israel.
April 2010, under the banner Jcall.edu, a group of respected European Jews criticize the Occupation in defense of a more secure Israel, urging ‘two peoples, two states’ – they are attacked. March 2012, Jacob Cohen, Jewish critic of Israel, is physically menaced by the Ligue de défense juive (LDJ) during the launch of his book. November 2012, the mayoralty of the 19th arrondisement is attacked by the BNVCA for supporting an exhibition on the Negev Bedouins. Its sponsors, the Union juive française pour la paix (UJFP), are characterized as fronts for Palestinian propaganda. December 2012, Israeli Michel Warschawski is awarded the ‘prix des droits de l’homme de la République française’ – he is demonized. Other prominent Jewish intellectuals – Franco-Israeli Charles Enderlin, Rony Brauman, Edgar Morin, Esther Benbassa, members of the UJPF – are demonized.
July 2014, three young Jewish Israelis have been murdered. Charles Enderlin reports from Israel. The television channel France 2 mis-edits Enderlin’s reportage of ‘three young Israelis’ as ‘young colonists’. Widely respected for his sober reporting, Enderlin has been subsequently subject to a volley of abuse – thus: ‘it’s time to organise a commando to bump off this schmuck’.
April 2012, at the first Congress of friends of Israel. Israeli Ofer Bronchtein, President of the Forum international pour la paix, arrives as an official invitee. The LDJ attack him; the organisers, including CRIF, ask him to leave. Bronchtein later noted:
“If I had been attacked by anti-Semites in the street, numerous Jewish organisations would have quickly called for a demonstration at the Bastille. When it is fascist Jewish organisations that attack me, everybody remains silent …”
February 2013, Stéphane Hessel dies. Hessel’s life is an exemplar of courage and moral integrity; in his advanced years, this life was brought to our attention with the publication of his Indignez-vous ! in 2010. Hessel, part Jewish, was a strong critic of the Occupation and of the 2008-09 Gaza massacre. His death is met with bile from the lobby. CRIF labelled him a flawed thinker from whom they had little to learn and a doddery naïf giving comfort to the evil of others. A blogger on JssNews ranted: ‘Hessel! The guy who stinks the most. Not only his armpits but his inquisitorial fingers regarding the Jews of Israel.’ The LDJ celebrated – ‘Hessel the anti-Semite is dead! Champagne! [with multiple exclamation marks].’
Peculiarly in France, there is the LDJ. Its counterparts banned in Israel and the US (albeit not in Canada), the LDJ represents the strong-arm end of the Israel lobby. CRIF looks the other way. Boniface notes that it has been treated leniently to date by the authorities; is it necessary to wait for a death to confront its menace? On the recent murder of the three young Israelis, an LDJ tweet proffers: ‘The murders are all committed by the apostles of Islam. No Arabs, no murders! LDJ will respond rapidly and forcefully.’
As a de facto ambassador for Israel, the lobby has long attempted to influence French foreign policy. Boniface notes that in 1953 the new Israeli ambassador was met by Jewish representatives with the claim that ‘we are French citizens and you are the envoy of a foreign state’. That was then.
At successive annual dinners, CRIF has called for France to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘eternal’ capital, and to incorporate Israel as a member state in the Francophonie (with the associated financial benefits and cultural leverage). On those fronts, CRIF has been unsuccessful. But it has had success on the broader front.
The turning point comes with President Chirac’s refusal to sanction the coalition of the willing in its criminal rush to invade Iraq in March 2003. The lobby is not amused. Now why would that be? In whose interests did the invasion and occupation occur? Chirac’s reluctance is met with a concerted strategy of the French lobby in combination with the US Israel lobby and US government officials to undermine the French position. Thus the ‘French bashing’ campaign – not generated spontaneously by the offended American masses after all. In his 2008 book, then CRIF President Roger Cukierman notes his gratitude for the power of the US lobby, and its capacity to even pressure the French leadership over Iraq.
Boniface claims that Chirac falls into line as early as May 2003. There is the establishment of high level links between France and Israel. After that … Sharon is welcomed to France in July 2005. France denies acknowledgement of the Hamas electoral victory in January 2006. France demurs on Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006 (in spite of the historic ties between Beirut and Paris). France remains ‘prudent’ regarding Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza in late 2008 and the murderous assault on the Turkish-led flotilla in May 2010. France did vote ‘yes’ to a Palestinian state at the UN in November 2012, but in general French foreign policy has become captive to Israeli imperatives, thanks in particular to the domestic lobby.
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In February 2006 a young Jew Ilam Halimi is tortured and murdered. The shocking event becomes a cause célèbre in the media. Halimi’s killer was an anti-Semite. The killer’s hapless gang members receive various sentences, but parts of the Jewish community complain of their inadequacy, want a retrial and lobby the Élysée. The Halimi murder has since been memorialized with a school prize for the guarding against anti-Semitism, and several films are being produced. At about the same time an auto worker had been murdered for money (as was Halimi). The latter murder received only a couple of lines in the press.
Boniface produces summary statistics that highlight the violent underbelly in French society. A shocking count of conjugal murders, large-scale infanticide and rampant child abuse. Tens of thousands of attacks on police and public sector workers. A string of shocking gang attacks with death threats against members of the Asian and Turkish communities – those presumed to keep much liquid cash in their homes. Boniface notes that the anti-Semitic attacks (some misinterpreted in their character) need to be put into perspective.
And then there’s the Arab/Muslim communities. A survey was desirably undertaken in schools to combat racism. A student innocently notes that any tendency to display anti-Semitism is met with a huge apparatus of condemnation. (The 2002 Lellouche Law raised the penalties for racism and explicitly for anti-Semitism.) On the other hand, noted the student, tendencies to racist discrimination against blacks or Arabs are ignored or treated lightly.
There is, as Boniface expresses it, deux poids, deux mesures – two weights, two measures. It is widely felt and widely resented. TWTM could be the motif of Boniface’s book.
Arabs and blacks often refrain from reporting abuse or assaults with the prospect that the authorities will not pursue the complaint. Women wearing the veil are perennially harassed and physically attacked. A young pregnant woman is punched in the stomach; she loses her child. There is perennial use of the term ‘dirty Arab’. Arabs and blacks are perennially harassed by police because of their appearance and presumed ethnicity. Islamophobia escalates, with implicit support from CRIF and from pro-Israel celebrities such as Alain Finkielkraut. (Finkielkraut was recently beamed up to the celestial Académie française; his detractors were labelled anti-Semites.)
Salutary is the perennial humiliation experienced by Mustapha Kessous, journalist for Le Monde. Boniface notes that Kessous ‘possesses a perfect mastery of social conventions and of the French language’. Not sufficient it appears. On a cycle or in a car he is stopped by police who ask of him if he has stolen it. He visits a hospital but is asked, ‘where is the journalist’? He attends court and is taken to be the defendant, and so on.
In 2005, a Franco-Palestinian Salah Hamouri was arrested at a checkpoint and eventually indicted on a trumped up charge of involvement in the murder of a rabbi. In 2008 he took a ‘plea bargain’ and was given 7 years in jail. He was released in 2011 in the group exchange with the release of French IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. In France, Shalit is treated with reverence, though a voluntary enrolee of an occupying force. Hamouri’s plight has been treated with indifference. TWTM.
In March 2010, Said Bourarach, an Arab security guard at a shop in Bobigny, is murdered by a group of young men, Jewish and known to the police. They get off, meanwhile alleging that the murdered guard had thrown anti-Semitic insults. In December 2013, young Jews beat up an Arab waiter for having posted a quenelle (an anti-authority hand gesture ridiculously claimed to be replicating a Nazi stance and thus anti-Semite) on a social network. The event received no coverage.
TWTM. The media is partly responsible. The authorities in their manifest partisanry are partly responsible. The lobby is heavily responsible.
Boniface is, rightly, obsessed with the promise of universalism formally rooted in Republican France. He objects to the undermining of this imperative by those who defend indefensible policies of Israeli governments and who divert and distort politics in France towards that end.
For his pains, Boniface is denigrated and marginalized. Evidently, he declines to accept defeat. Hence La France malade …
Evan Jones is a retired political economist from the University of Sydney. He can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org