Soldiers who kill Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are almost never held accountable, even if the circumstances raise a grave suspicion that they acted criminally. This is the conclusion arising from B’Tselem’s report, which analyzes the policy of the Judge Advocate General’s Office over the past four years. The main reason for this dismal situation is that the army refrains, as a rule, from conducting a Military Police investigation in cases in which soldiers kill Palestinian civilians. In addition, the research shows that the Judge Advocate Generals’ Office routinely procrastinates in making decisions on files for many months, even years.
The report, Void of Responsibility: Israel Military Policy not to investigate Killings of Palestinians by Soldiers, issued today (Tuesday, 14 Sept) deals with events in the years 2006 to 2009 in which soldiers killed Palestinian civilians who were not taking part in hostilities (not including Operation Cast Lead). During this period, B’Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG), demanding a Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) investigation into 148 cases in which 288 Palestinians were killed in those circumstances. In these years, soldiers killed 1,510 Palestinians, 617 of whom were not taking part in hostilities (the figures do not include Operation Cast Lead).
In only 23 of the cases B’Tselem sent to the JAG, around fifteen percent, was an MPIU investigation opened, and in 41 of the cases, the JAG’s Office decided not to order an MPIU investigation. In the majority of the cases (84 cases), no decision has been made yet.
In the rare cases in which a decision is made to open an MPIU investigation, the decision is reached after great delay, which impairs the effectiveness of the investigation. In about one-third of the cases in which an MPIU investigation was ordered, the decision was made a year or more after the incident. When the investigation has ended, and the file was returned to the Judge Advocate General’s Office for decision on whether to file an indictment, it delays its decision for months, sometimes years. Eight of the 23 cases have ended with a decision to close the file without prosecution. In four cases, the MPIU has not completed its investigation, and in three other cases, the file was returned to MPIU for further investigation. In eight cases, no decision has been made whether to file an indictment, or B’Tselem has not been informed of the decision that was made. None of the cases in which B’Tselem referred to the JAG’s office led to criminal charges.
The fact that most of the complaints to the JAG’s Office still await decision makes it difficult to determine the reasoning it employs. However, analysis of a number of cases that B’Tselem handled in which a decision was made not to open an MPIU investigation shows that investigations are not opened even where there is a grave suspicion that the law has been broken. Also, analysis of the files shows that the authorities’ interpretation of the events is based solely on the results of an operational inquiry and the statements of the soldiers, without any reliance on the eyewitness testimony of other persons and on other evidence that contradicts the soldiers’ position.
The army’s policy not to open an MPIU investigation is based on the determination that the legal situation in the Occupied Territories is one of “armed conflict,” and on an incorrect interpretation of international law, which shirks the obligation of investigation imposed also in the situation of armed conflict. B’Tselem warns that this policy grants immunity to soldiers and officers, and that the army is failing in its obligation to take all feasible measures to reduce injury to Palestinian civilians. This policy permits soldiers and officers to act in violation of the law, encourages a trigger-happy attitude, and shows a flagrant disregard for human live. The petition that B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed on this subject in 2003 is still pending.
“Since the beginning of the intifada, we have opposed the sweeping decision not to investigate the killing of Palestinians,” B’Tselem’s executive director Jessica Montell said. “This is even truer now, when it is impossible to view the situation in the West Bank as armed conflict. The legal status must reflect the reality in the field, as well as express the value given to human life and the obligation to protect civilians.”
The report offers recommendations to the defense establishment, the foremost being a change in the legal definition of the situation in the West Bank, eliminating its classification as one of “armed conflict.” In addition, B’Tselem calls on the Judge Advocate Generals’ Office to adopt the guidelines recently submitted by Israel’s attorney general regarding the proper timeframes for handling files.
From the beginning of the first intifada, in December 1987, to the outbreak of the second intifada, in September 2000, the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) investigated almost every case in which a Palestinian not taking part in hostilities was killed. At the beginning of the second intifada, the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG) announced that it classified the situation in the Occupied Territories an “armed conflict,” and that an MPIU investigation would be opened only in exceptional cases, in which there was a suspicion that a criminal offense had been committed. This policy, which led to a significant drop in MPIU investigations of homicide cases, ignored the changing character of the army’s actions in the Occupied Territories, and treated every act carried out by soldiers as a combat action, also in cases in which the act had the clear markings of a policing action.
The primary tool used to determine whether to open an MPIU investigation is the operational inquiry, whose principal purpose is to learn lessons to improve operational activity in the future, and not to identify persons responsible for past misdeeds. In November 2005, in the framework of a hearing on a petition filed by B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel objecting to the policy of not opening MPIU investigations, the army instituted a procedure calling for preliminary investigation, within a limited period of time, of cases in which Palestinians not taking part in hostilities were killed. However, the procedure did not set a time framework for making decisions whether to order an MPIU investigation or to prosecute alleged offenders. As a result, these decisions may be delayed months, even years, thus preventing effective handling of suspected criminal acts within a reasonable time from the day that the incident occurred. The establishment, in 2007, of the office of the judge advocate for operational matters, which was intended to improve the efficiency in handling complaints and reduce the handling time, did not bring about significant change.
Located just north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the entrance to the Palestinian village of Beit Ommar is also the site of an Israeli military post. A large yellow gate is opened and closed at the will of the Israeli army, which can cut off the inhabitants of the town from the rest of the West Bank at any time. Beit Ommar has been resisting since 1948, when the town’s inhabitants fought the original settler population of Gush Etzion and today many continue to suffer the impact of the many surrounding settlements. Jody McIntyre interviews Beit Ommar resident Amal al-Montallab for The Electronic Intifada.
Jody McIntyre: Please introduce yourself.
Amal Abed al-Montallab: My name is Amal Abed al-Montallab, 45 years old, and I have six children — three daughters and three sons. We live in the Thahr al-Burrahesh area of Beit Ommar. My oldest son, Ammar, is 17 and in jail. The rest of my kids are young and still at school, so only my husband works, but he can’t work inside Israel because he’s been imprisoned twice before, so his wages are low. But we know that our story is not unique; there are many more families here with the same story.
JM: Can you tell me about the time the Israeli military came to arrest Ammar?
AM: It was just over two months ago. They army invaded and occupied the neighborhood, and started asking where they could find the house of Mohammed Abdul Hameed Abu Maria, my husband, but the neighbors told them that they’d never heard of such a house. Someone must have given the army inaccurate information, because they were looking for someone called Omar, not Ammar.
A week later they came back, but this time they were sure about his name and the location of our house. It was 2am. Ten soldiers invaded our home and were very violent with our children. They asked my husband where his son was, and he told them that he was working in Jericho. Then, they forced him into a separate room, and asked our children the same question, one-by-one, but they all gave the same answer: “Our brother works in Jericho.” They tried to trick my husband by telling him that one of the kids had informed them that Ammar was in the village, but he replied, “I know that none of my children said that to you, and it is simply from your mind.” Finally, the army left.
We shut the door, intending to get some sleep, but five minutes later the same soldiers invaded our house again, this time from the back door, and stayed for another two hours. The military commander came and took our phone numbers; he told us that he knew Ammar was sleeping at his uncle’s house, but he didn’t want to go there because it would make problems. They gave us a paper ordering us to take Ammar in for questioning at a nearby military base, situated in the settlement of Gush Etzion, but I refused because I knew that Ammar still had his final exams to study for. The commander said, “If you don’t bring him, tomorrow we will shoot him dead.”
The next day, they phoned us and said that we had ten minutes to take Ammar to them, otherwise they would arrest him themselves, and shoot him in front of our eyes.
We were worried because we knew that someone in the neighborhood could quite easily work with the Israeli army and make problems for Ammar. We were also worried that they might arrest Ammar at school, in front of all the students, which would inevitably result in clashes and many further arrests.
My husband told the commander that we would take Ammar to them after he had finished exams, and offered to pay money or even be arrested himself until then, but they refused.
Ammar is still in prison now; it’s been two months so far, and the lawyer thinks he will stay there for between five to seven months overall. The army says that our son threw stones, and he could’ve killed someone, but they have not one shred of evidence.
JM: Why do you think they arrested Ammar?
AM: They wanted Ammar because he’s studying for his final exams. The army does this every year, they arrest boys when they are preparing for the final exam so they aren’t educated. Because they arrested him at the start of the exams, he automatically loses one year of his education.
There was one kid in the neighborhood who was arrested three years in a row. Each year, they arrested him right before the final exams, and then two months later released him.
If the soldiers are scared of the kids throwing stones, they should know that we are suffering a much deeper fear. But we are patient, and when he is free again, he will go back to school.
Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom. He writes a blog entitled “Life on Wheels” which can be found at jodymcintyre.wordpress.com. He can be reached at jody [dot] mcintyre [at] gmail [dot] com.
Blair abuses his post as envoy, brokers business deals
LONDON — Middle East Quartet envoy to Jerusalem Tony Blair’s lobbying in favor of a Palestinian telecommunications company enriched the family of President Mahmoud Abbas, a UK tabloid reported Sunday.
A special investigation published in The Daily Mail’s weekly edition on Blair’s financial gains from lobbying on behalf of Wataniya includes allegations that Abbas’ son made a fortune through the former British prime minister’s actions.
According to the report, Blair mounted an intense political lobbying campaign to rescue the struggling mobile-phone business owned by a client of the bank that pays him millions of dollars annually. Wataniya almost collapsed before launching its service, jeopardizing a multimillion-dollar investment, because Israel’s government was refusing to let it use the frequencies it needed to operate.
Acting in his capacity as the international Middle East peace envoy, Blair helped to save the company by spending months putting pressure on Israel’s prime minister and his colleagues in a bid to change their minds, pointing out the need to help the Palestinians’ economy.
What Blair never mentioned is that JP Morgan, the American investment bank that employs him as a consultant, has a financial stake in Wataniya through Wataniya’s owner, the Qatari firm Qtel, which is an important client of JP Morgan. Blair’s spokesman told the tabloid he had no knowledge of any connection between JP Morgan and Qtel. He repeated the denials to the Israeli press.
Still, the allegations also call into question some of the gains by the Ramallah-based Palestinian president’s son, Tarek Abbas, whose firm has reportedly secured a lucrative contract to provide advertising for Wataniya.
In July 2008, Blair brokered what Wataniya thought was a cast-iron deal with Israel to make the frequencies it needed available. In order to provide a modern 3G service to include mobile internet, Wataniya had been seeking a bandwidth of 4.8 megahertz. On the strength of this agreement, it continued to build mobile-phone masts, switching centers and other installations it needed to operate.
Wataniya managed to secure special additional loans from a US government program that had been set up to help Palestinian farmers and small businesses — despite the backing it had from Qtel and, indirectly, banks such as JP Morgan.
Israeli universities play no small role in the state’s military strategy. (Keren Manor/ActiveStills)
In July, Donna Shalala, the president of the University of Miami and former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration, joined a 13-member delegation of American university presidents to Israel. The delegation’s main objective was to discuss opportunities for academic collaboration with Israeli universities and reciprocal exchange programs for student and faculty. The majority of these Israeli universities, if not all, have been implicated in war crimes and other human rights violations against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians (“Academic boycott against Israel? Umberto Eco misses the point,” Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 10 July 2010).
Prior to the delegates’ arrival in Israel, they drafted and sent individual letters to their executive counterparts at the Israeli universities, stating that they “clearly denounce[d] the boycott of Israeli academics” (“Shalala among delegation of university presidents to visit Israel,” University of Miami news release, 2 July 2010).
The karmic twist to Shalala’s visit to Israel was that in spite of her obsequious endorsement of the anti-boycott stance, she was not spared from a three-hour, humiliating interrogation and detainment upon her departure from the Ben Gurion Airport. Israel’s Ynet News reported that she was detained because of her Arabic surname (“American VIP humiliated at airport,” 6 August 2010). When later interviewed by the Miami Herald, Shalala dismissed the inconvenience of her detention as purely security protocol to ensure traveler safety. Leaving aside all speculations as to why Shalala, an Arab-American, did not speak out against the indignity of her treatment at the airport, the larger conversation should be the strategic marketing and funding of research partnerships between American and Israeli universities.
Research and development collaboration between higher education institutions amount to billions of dollars annually. In 2008, the federal government alone funded $31 billion for academic research and development expenditures of which $1.6 billion were passed through to other university sub-recipients, domestic and foreign (National Science Foundation). Apart from the steady growth of research collaborations with “Asian 8” countries, such as South Korea and Taiwan, the research partnerships between American and Israel universities have been consistently strong and significant.
Large corporate donors, like Coca-Cola Company and Quaker Oats, a division of Pepsi-Cola, subsidize many of these collaborative research projects between US and Israeli universities, due principally to their robust ties with the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce (“American Israeli Chamber of Commerce promotes academic and research exchanges between University of Minnesota and Israeli educational and research institutions,” American-Israel Chamber of Commerce press release, 10 August 1998).
While the actual number of US-Israeli research partnerships is not readily available, a proxy indicator is the annual percentage of collaborative science and engineering articles between the two countries. Israel has the third-highest percentage of co-authored articles, 52 percent, with American researchers, after South Korea (54 percent) and Taiwan (53 percent). It is important to point out here if the percentage of co-authorship for Israel appears inflated, it is because their co-authorship output with the US is greater than their considerably smaller educational infrastructure. Therefore, the National Science Foundation has corrected for the infrastructural disparities by placing Israel’s rate of co-authorship with US at 1.21, qualitatively speaking, “higher than expected,” along with similar rankings for South Korea and Taiwan. Shalala’s delegation specifically expressed an interest in collaborating with Israeli universities on the application of technological research to the manufacturing of marketable products.
Israel aggressively courts research partnerships with American universities by hosting academic delegations. For example, Project Interchange, an educational organization of the American Jewish Committee, sponsored Shalala’s delegation to participate in their week-long program. A brief portrait of Project Interchange will illustrate that these academic delegations are political-educational junkets, which subliminally promote a Zionist ideology along with coordinating potential partnerships with Israeli universities.
Project Interchange regularly sponsors academic delegations and conducts programs in a seminar format. According to their website, Project Interchange customizes the theme of the seminar to each group’s interest, but all seminars are framed within the broader discourse of Israeli culture, society and politics — with a predominant focus on Israeli foreign policy.
Project Interchange identifies itself as “non-partisan,” “apolitical” and [an] “educational organization.” If one carefully deconstructs the language that Project Interchange uses on its website to describe its seminars — “challenging and promoting dialogue” and “offering multiple perspectives on complex issues” — it feigns a non-partisan and apolitical agenda by reducing the Palestinian struggle against occupation and dispossession to mere differences of opinion among ostensibly rival equals — Palestinians and Israelis. The message conveyed, therefore, is deceptive, because it completely denies the existence of the relationship between the colonizer — Israel — and the colonized, the indigenous population. The subordinate reference to “also meeting with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians” blatantly exposes Israel’s relegation of the indigenous population to second class citizens.
Another component of Project Interchange’s seminar program is coordinated site visits to the Israeli and Arab/Palestinian communities. In July, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an account of one site visit by a member of Shalala’s delegation, a president from an elite East coast university, who lauds the multi-cultural efforts of the Jerusalem International YMCA Peace pre-school:
“‘Boker tov!’ ‘Sabaah al-khayr!’ ‘Good morning!’ The excited voices of the kindergarten students and their tri-lingual teachers make us all smile as our group of American academic leaders visit the International Jerusalem YMCA peace pre-school … In the preschool, which serves an equal number of Arab (Christians and Muslims) and Jewish students, young people don’t seem to know they’re from different backgrounds and they are supposed to hate each other but they are friends” (“What we can learn from Children,” 16 July 2010).
Even though the delegate acknowledges the preschool’s diversity, his latter remark about the surprising amity among Arab and Jewish children and declaration that “they do not seem to know that they’re from different backgrounds” demonstrates his racial and religious blindness. He blissfully dismisses this purported hatred between Jews and Palestinian Arabs as if it originates from a historical rivalry on equal footing rather than a deep-rooted power imbalance between occupier and occupied.
Moreover, what is astonishingly naive about his comment is that, as a university president, he is (or should be) cognizant of the racial tensions among minority student populations, and yet, he seems to be taken in by the artificial democratic setting of the Israeli preschool, which is precisely the falsely egalitarian image of Israel that Project Interchange is endeavoring to promote by their site visits.
In the final analysis, Project Interchange’s objective is to transform a research collaboration initiative into a commodified, politicized and hegemonic project that is an extension of the Israeli state apparatus. To this end, American universities’ collaboration with Israel’s educational institutions is complicit in the occupation.
The portrait of Project Interchange lends insight into how a United States-Israeli global network intercedes on behalf of US academic leaders to establish strategic research partnerships with Israeli universities. Because Israeli universities mirror the racist institutional structure of the Israeli government and the US enables the Israeli occupation, it is highly unlikely in the present political environment that any research collaboration between American and Israeli universities would comply with the guidelines outlined by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
In recent months, global boycott, divestment and sanctions have made enormous strides and have reported several victories in the areas of economic and cultural boycotts. To that end, American and Israeli university partnerships merit closer scrutiny in particular, as well as the intermediary organizations and the large corporate and private donors and binational foundations that annually fund billions of dollars to them (e.g., Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD)).
Diane Shammas is of Lebanese/Arab American heritage, and holds a Ph.D in International and Urban Education and Policy, with a specialization in Arab American Studies. She currently teaches a course on social construction of race and citizenship. She recently lived in Gaza City for three months, taught at Al Azhar University (Gaza), and passed through the West Bank on her return to the United States.
Until recently Denis Rancourt was a tenured physics professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada; however, as a direct result of his commitment to activist teaching at his university, on December 10, 2008, he was being placed under administrative suspension and banned from campus, with the Dean of the Faculty of Science recommending that he be fired. This controversial decision has resulted in an ongoing battle to repeal this decision. This interview was carried out by email in June 2010. A list of Rancourt’s essays on societal topics are here.
Michael Barker: Could you explain what you see as the main differences between hard and soft power?
Denis Rancourt: Hard power is direct hierarchical control over our lives, such as via our jobs at work and via school as students. Hard power is the master’s hand in controlling our access to work and in controlling what our work will be. Hard power is hierarchical and undemocratic. Hard power is the main force in our lives as individuals.
Soft power is all the side-door things we can do with our spare time, participating in culture and interpretation, creating political alliances and resisting at work and at school, practicing sabotage, offering support to targeted colleagues, and so on.
That is the most useful distinction between “soft power” and “hard power” that I can make. It’s about the individual’s authentic rebellion via a Freirian praxis of resistance in which solidarity is a coalescence of individual fighters seeking liberation.
MB: I tend to think that most writers have neglected emphasizing the importance of soft power, most specifically that of philanthropy, in legitimizing and extending capitalist relations. What are your thoughts on this matter?
DR: There are two main classes of slaves. Those that need only be obedient and are controlled by direct force and harsh physical conditions, by a constant fear of loss of economic subsistence; and those (the managers, professionals and service intellectuals) who, beyond obedience, need to be indoctrinated, need to adopt and project the dominant ideology of their profession and of the system of exploitation.
The “soft power” of foundations and government grants is just one perfected form of control in which the indoctrinated slave must show that he/she understands the grantor’s intentions and that he/she “authentically” has the same noble intentions. This is brilliantly explained in Jeff Schmidt’s book “Disciplined Minds,” a book that more professional workers and intellectuals need to read. Schmidt points out that if one million dollars worth of funding is made available to do blah, then one million dollars worth of blah will get done. And the doer will be happy to have “freely” done blah.
MB: As a result of publishing your own work, what sort of opposition or support have you obtained from elite knowledge producing networks?
DR: I published more than 100 scientific articles in leading scientific journals. This had the effect of padding my CV, assuring promotions and continued grant support, providing invited and keynote talks at specialized conferences to further pad my CV, assuring me a high rank in the academic pecking order, and wasting a large chunk of my life.
I also write social science essays as part of my liberation and to help me reflect about my liberation. As far as I can tell, this has had no impact in generating liberation in others. It has helped me discover and organize my interpretations about the world, and it has helped me in my discussions with activists, but as a product out there in the mental environment it has probably had a negative impact because it mostly serves the castrated intellectualizations of neutralized-by-design thought activists. (See my essay “Against Chomsky”.)
I’m also looking for ways to use language to jolt readers into discomfort in the hope that this might catalyze a reaction out of the norm, that it might cause readers to glimpse at what rebellion might look like. A recent example of this ends with “Fucking Jesus” and is posted here.
In addition, I run a blog that directly exposes and critiques administrative malfeasance of my former employer, the University of Ottawa, the “U of O Watch” blog. My published writings here have contributed to causing an “elite knowledge producing” institution, my employer, to fire me. This writing does have an impact via what I have called “image leverage.” As seen in access to information documents, the upper administration reads and discusses every post. The executives change their behaviours and their institutional plans in response to the blog. It keeps them on their toes and corrects some of the more flagrant abuses of authority and nepotism.
MB: When do you first remember reading or hearing about critiques of liberal philanthropists and their foundations? What were your initial reactions to such criticisms? Here I am predominantly thinking about the former “big three,” the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations.
DR: My first encounters with these critiques were via Jeff Schmidt’s 2000 book and the 2002 essay by Andrea del Moral “The revolution will not be funded.”
My immediate reactions were that these critiques sounded true. I believed these analyses.
MB: Following on from the last question, could you briefly explain what you think about the academic/activist literature that is critical of liberal philanthropy?
DR: Useful as an aid to reflection for those practicing a praxis of liberation. Useless and probably harmful otherwise?
It’s like most heavy metals (such as iron and arsenic): They are both essential nutrients (if too little) and toxic (if too much). Iron deficiency versus iron overload disease…
MB: Following on from this, could you please explain in what respect you see critiques of liberal philanthropy to be “useless and probably harmful”?
DR: I mean that virtually all progressive or radical or liberal or other intellectuals are primarily intellectuals who have in practice divorced commentary and analysis from reform via direct challenges to the system at the point of their strongest connection to the system, at work. The point at which the individual has the most leverage in changing the system, in actually changing the system, is the point at which the system has the most power over the individual, the point of the individual’s strongest connection to the economy, at work (university, think tank, law office, etc.).
To refuse to challenge one’s employer, to refuse to fight one’s own oppression, and to mask this refusal with rationalizations and intellectualizations is to do more harm than good. To pretend that the world is somehow changed by “good” ideas, to want to participate in the reflection without significantly participating in the action, is to contribute to hiding the truth about societal change: That change results from directly fighting one’s own oppression and that opposing power in this way has real consequences beyond a difficulty to publish or negative reviews.
Virtually all intellectuals write for other intellectuals in a musical chairs game of ideas that is disconnected from oppression’s realities.
For example, if I come to understand the instrument of my own oppression that are liberal foundations, then I might fight this by publicly ridiculing the foundation’s work, by publicly and institutionally challenging my colleagues’ use of foundation funds, by publicly campaigning to exclude foundation funding from my campus, by publicly campaigning to change promotional criteria based of research funding, by publicly challenging my own denial of promotion, etc. These real actions and others will put me in conflict with my colleagues in which my leverage is applied against their influence to preserve the system. This will have some influence where writing a theoretical paper about foundations would not. Worse, writing that paper alleviates one’s guilt of not actually doing anything and creates the illusion with one’s self-selected readers that “we” are collectively doing something about the problem, that somehow our common opinion will have an influence.
MB: Why do you think that written criticisms of liberal foundations are so few and far between?
DR: A slave does not bite the hand that feeds him/her. Most radical intellectuals are tied within certain bounds. For example, note the radical intellectual’s aversion to “conspiracy theories.” Radical professors play the important role of co-opting activist students and delegitimizing threatening observers.
MB: These are very interesting points, could you expand upon your thoughts on these matters?
DR: Criticism of liberal foundations is akin to criticism of tenure. Most academics that benefit from, or have ties with, colleagues that benefit from these instruments of indoctrination do not feel it would be a strategically clever move, in terms of the class ties that provide them the security of their class privilege, to critique these instruments.
Service intellectuals instinctively know the bounds of discourse, beyond which the full fury of power’s opinion mill and influence will be aimed against the heretic. What happened to Ward Churchill was flexing of ideological muscle well within those bounds. Imagine if Churchill had suggested that 911 was a “black op” and focussed his research on this possibility. Indeed, what was done to Churchill effectively reduces the possibility that the black op research option can be considered among academic researchers.
There are exceptions that push the limits and that may not be publicly executed for fear of further exposure. For these individuals they are simply removed from influential posts and relegated to academic oblivion. I am thinking of William K. Black (e.g., “Exposing the Banksters: The Bill Black Mystery…?”).
Regarding radical professors, it is clear that they serve to co-opt activist students away from activism and reform and towards ideas and radical writing. They bring activist students into the fold of radical intellectuals and take them on as graduate students. The language is classic: The pen is mightier than the sword, a great idea can change the world, good analysis will take us out of darkness… But the radical professor’s example and stance are even more powerful than the contrived rationalizations: A complete separation of thought and action, without ever challenging local structures of oppression, accompanied by a position of privilege and high class status, under the guilt-alleviating and self-congratulatory cover of radical analysis.
MB: How would you describe the general impact of liberal foundations on the evolution of research within universities and on intellectuals more generally?
DR: The maintenance of the hierarchical structures that control our lives depends on a “vast tapestry of lies upon which we feed” (Harold Pinter, Nobel Lecture, 2005). The main institutions that embed us into the hierarchy, such as schools, universities, and mass media and entertainment corporations, have a primary function to create and maintain this tapestry. This includes establishment scientists and all service intellectuals in charge of “interpreting” reality. In fact, the scientists and “experts” define reality in order to bring it into conformation with the always-adapting dominant mental tapestry of the moment. They also invent and build new branches of the tapestry that serve specific power groups by providing new avenues of exploitation.
If we accept this, then it follows that all systemic instruments (such as liberal foundations) that enable service intellectuals are part of the same program.
MB: Can you describe how liberal foundations and/or individual liberal philanthropists have influenced your own work, and if so how?
DR: Given Canadian academic science granting councils and the exigencies of the tenure track, I ended up doing nuclear spectroscopy of metallic alloys and organic compounds and then in my environmental science phase quantitative analysis of lake and ocean muds rather than the cosmology that got me into physics in the first place and the educational activism that eventually got me into life.
These days I continue to (freely) collaborate with leading soil scientists because I believe I can learn useful things that will allow me to critique mainstream assertions about soil depletion as part of my critique of the environmental science establishment. Also because I bring a unique and much appreciated technical expertise that is helpful in solving the scientific puzzle of soils; something that is intellectually satisfying at times.
Once a US philanthropic science agency that was doing the rounds flirted with me about my work on the Invar problem of physics and meteoritics. I got a sense that they were interested in being able to say that they “seeded genius,” as a way to prop themselves up and maintain their “track record.” They had no way to recognize value other than what their “trusted advisor scientists” told them, all based on superficial (read relevant) impressions of course.
MB: Do you think anti-capitalist activists can strategically utilize liberal foundation funding to develop an anti-hegemonic movement for social change?
DR: No I do not. I am not an “anti-capitalist activist”. I am an individualist anarchist and I feel much more affinity to individualist libertarians than to anything right or left. I believe that the capitalism of Adam Smith is more consistent (but not consistent) with human freedom than the communism of Marx. I don’t believe that the anarchic ideal can be achieved via socialism or communism (or capitalism). And I believe that what we have now is closer to fascism than anything else.
I believe that the essential ingredient that is missing from our First World middle-class activism is individual rebellion in which individuals fight their own oppressions via a Freirian praxis of liberation. To take an analogy from physics, the essential element for a critical mass is the radioactive isotope. Without it, there can be no critical mass. A majority opinion is just that, nothing more.
Michael Barker is an independent researcher based in the UK. Visit Michael’s website.
They said that tens of demonstrators including foreign solidarity activists took part in the march that headed to the Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing.
They said that as soon as the marchers, who were hoisting Palestinian flags, approached the crossing the IOF soldiers got out of one of the trenches and opened indiscriminate machinegun fire at them.
For its part, Al-Mizan center for human rights asked the world community to swiftly provide protection for Palestinian civilians.
It said in a statement on Tuesday that the world should bridle Israel’s intention to establish a buffer zone in northern and eastern Gaza, which would entail catastrophic results on the Gaza inhabitants in general, and the inhabitants and farmers working in those areas in particular.
Mizan castigated the IOF troops for opening fire at the peaceful march earlier on Tuesday morning, noting that the march is weekly organized by the Beit Hanun residents to protest the buffer zone.
The center also condemned the IOF for opening artillery fire at farmers in Beit Hanun on Sunday killing three of them including a 91-year-old citizen and his grandson in addition to 25 heads of sheep.
Last weekend, President Chavez announced that he would be setting up a tourist scheme from mainland Vargas State to the Orchila island using yachts belonging to a fugitive Banco Federal banker, Nelson Mezerhane.
The yachts, he suggested, will also be used to transport tourists from popular areas and barrios to the Los Roques archipelago.
The President said it was only right that people from popular areas have the chance to visit the islands and he has requested Executive Vice President Elias Jaua to speed up the purchase of a ferry that Venezuela was purchasing from Portugal.
Chavez admitted delays in acquiring the ferry.
People should be able to relax healthily, Chavez mused, stressing that it was difficult for poor people to fly by plane to Margarita island and for that reason he wanted to create a popular tourism company.
On August 29, 2010, Martin Indyk wrote an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “For once, hope in the Middle East”. When I read it, I felt I should respond with an article that sheds light on the issues which Mr, Indyk has chosen to ignore. One of the premises he based his analysis on was that violence has receded in the Middle East in the past two years compared with the 1990s. Here, like most Western officials and journalists, Indyk ignores daily and persistent Israeli violence against Palestinians for the past sixty years which has risen to record levels in terms of the number and ferocity of Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians in the past two years, particularly in the city of Hebron. How could Indyk ignore the ‘violence’ which Israel has been using for years against civilians in Gaza in terms of blockade and artillery, missile and warplane attacks? I would not have guessed that that the paradox, on this particular point, would become so stark on the international scene after four Israeli settlers were killed in a village near Hebron.
Jewish settlers, as everyone knows, have been killing Palestinian farmers, burning mosques, running over children with their cars, desecrating cemeteries, demolishing houses and whole villages. The lack of Western reaction towards this rise in the number of crimes against Palestinians reflects the conviction in the West that ‘violence has receded in the Middle East’, as if killing the Arabs is not ‘violence’, while killing these settlers is the only ‘violence’ in the Middle East! The US President hastened to condemn this ‘absurd killing’ while he kept silent regarding the killing of four thousand civilians, including women and children in Gaza. His Secretary of State also condemned the ‘brutal violence’, while she never condemned the Israelis for killing any Palestinian. The United Nations representative considered killing the Israelis a ‘mean’ attempt at undermining the negotiations, while his organization has done nothing to stop Israeli daily killing of Palestinians for the past sixty years. As usual, the European Union, and Japan too, condemned killing the Israelis, while they turn absolutely deaf when Israelis kill Palestinian civilians in their thousands. Even the Palestinian Authority condemned the killing of the four settlers without reminding the world of the crimes committed daily against the Palestinians, particularly in Hebron, which have never been ‘condemned’ or even mentioned be any American or European official. For them, that is ‘natural violence’, because Palestinian lives do not mean anything to the West. Only when an Israeli is killed, ‘civilized’ Westerners hasten to ‘denounce’ and ‘condemn’ violence.
In this article, I would just remind readers of some of the ‘acts of violence’, ‘ugly crimes’, ‘absurd killings’ and ‘brutal violence’ committed by the Israeli settlers in the West Bank, particularly in villages of the Hebron region, against unarmed Palestinians simply trying to live on their land with freedom and dignity and away from the killing and oppression practiced against them by Israeli settlers on a daily basis. Such acts and crimes have never been condemned by Obama, Clinton, the European Union, the United States, or even Japan.
Since March 2010, Israeli occupation forces killed in cold blood Mohammad Ibrahim Abdul Qader Qadus on March 16, 2010 in Southern Nablus; and on March 21, child Mohammad al-Qanbar was run twice over by a settler’s car before he was detained in Ras al-Amoud. On April 3, an Israeli settler ran over Samar Saif Radwan, 17, in eastern Hebron. On April 5, 2010, the settlers of Kriat Shmona burned a Palestinian to death. On the same day, three settlers poured hot water on the body and face of Munjed Bsharat, 26, who sustained serious burns and wounds. On April 11, an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian child in the village of Laban West of Ramallah. On April 27, occupation forces assassinated young man Ali Sweiti, maimed his dead body and blocked out his eyes. On May 10, a Palestinian child died of the tear gas he inhaled. On the same day, occupation forces beat child Abdullah Isa to death. On May 16, an Israeli settler ran over a mother and her two daughters Rowa, 2, and Nagham, 5, at the entrance of their village, Jabaa south of Bethlehem. On June 11, an Israeli military jeep ran over and killed Mazen Naem al-Jamal, 48, in Hebron. On July 19, an Israeli settler ran over and killed Abdullah Hasan al-Muhtaseb, 12 in Hebron.
Thus, Israeli settlers and occupation forces killed during the first months of 2010 fourteen Palestinians. No country in the world condemned the killing of these people. And this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the brutal crimes committed by settlers on a daily basis against innocent children, women and young people in Hebron and other West Bank cities and villages. What would the Palestinians do if no country in the world condemned killing them? No Western media outlet even keeps a record of the crimes committed against them on a daily basis. Palestinian anger reaches unbearable levels not only because of the settler violence committed against them, but also because of the silence and complicity of Western powers.
A quick review of the racist Western perspective of what is happening in occupied Palestine explains the failure of all previous attempts to reach real solutions and just and comprehensive peace. It is because such a peace should be based on fair and balanced solutions.
For negotiations to succeed, the sponsors of the process should be convinced that the life of the Palestinians is at least equal to the life of a criminal settler living on a land not his own in order to steal this land and kill the people living on it. Only then, there might be some hope of achieving peace based on justice and not on killing one party and giving the occupying killing party everything it wants. When Obama, Clinton and the European Union condemn killing the Palestinians with the same strength they condemn the killing of settlers, there might be hope of a real peace in our region.