In 2009, Shamai Leibowitz was working secretly for the FBI, translating wiretapped conversations among Israeli diplomats in this country. He passed some transcripts of these conversations to me, which described an Israeli diplomatic campaign in this country to create a hostile environment for relations with Iran. I published excerpts from them in my blog, Tikun Olam.
Leibowitz, who comes from a family of distinguished Israeli Orthodox public intellectuals, first came to prominence inside Israel when he signed a statement refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. He went on to earn a law degree and was one of the Israeli attorneys who represented Palestinian Marwan Barghouti in his terror trial. In a statement certain to enrage Israelis and the Shin Bet officials responsible for apprehending Barghouti, Leibowitz likened his client’s leadership of his people to that of Moses. Though he was referring to the fact that Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave – which caused him to flee his homeland, accused of being the ancient equivalent of a terrorist – the subtlety of the historical comparison was undoubtedly lost on many Israelis.
Leibowitz came to this country as a New Israel Fund (NIF) fellow to earn a US law degree in international human rights at Georgetown University. Though he completed his degree, NIF ended his affiliation with its program when the Israeli spoke at a Cambridge public event endorsing a boycott of Israel. The story made its way into the Israel press thanks to pro-Israel activists monitoring his activities here. When a mini-furor broke out both in Israel and here, NIF, showing its support for free speech, dropped Leibowitz from the program, even though he never stated that his remarks at the Massachusetts event represented NIF in any way. The NGO simply couldn’t risk the wrath of the Israeli government since all its programming in Israel might be placed in jeopardy if it irritated the authorities.
Living in Washington, DC, the Israeli activist next took a job teaching American diplomats being posted to Israel about the country, its culture, history and language. Once again, the pro-Israel crowd reported to Ben Caspit, Israel’s right-wing columnist, that Leibowitz was now working for the State Department. He was subsequently fired from this job also.
The Israeli Orthodox Jew was known in his religious community as a fine Torah reader who beautifully chanted the Torah portion at his Orthodox synagogue. However, when a well-connected member discovered Leibowitz’ “past,” they told the rabbi that he must take this great communal honor from him or they would leave the congregation. Such shunning is, unfortunately, all too common in the Jewish community (remember Spinoza?) for those holding unpopular views of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Luckily, Leibowitz discovered a conservative synagogue whose rabbi embraced him despite his “baggage.” Throughout his subsequent trials and tribulations, this rabbi and community have stood behind Leibowitz and his family.
I began writing my blog in 2003. At the start, it was quite a lonely pursuit and there were almost no other blogs like it espousing a progressive approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict. In searching for an online community, I came across Shamai’s Pursuing Justice blog. When I read his last name, I presumed he might be related to the eminent Leibowitz family and wrote to him. He confirmed he was the grandson of Yeshaia Leibowitz, one of the most distinguished Israeli philosophers and public intellectuals. His aunt was Nechama Leibowitz, an eminent professor of Bible at Hebrew University, with whom I studied when I was a student there.
Shamai and I emailed each other infrequently. But our correspondence picked up during Operation Cast Lead, when we were both aghast at the role the IDF played in decimating Gaza and killing 1,400 – 1,100 of whom were civilians.
After the war ended, he called me on the phone, which was unusual because I’d never spoken to him directly before. He asked if I wanted to see some materials he could send me. Until then, I’d never had anyone offer me materials in such a way, but I agreed to review them.
Shortly thereafter, a package arrived in the mail. When I opened it, frankly I knew I was seeing official government materials, but I didn’t understand what I’d received, so I called him. It was then that Shamai explained that he was an FBI translator, responsible for translating tapes of Israeli diplomatic conversations which his agency was intercepting.
He also explained that he was convinced from his work on these recordings that the Israel foreign ministry and its officials in this country were responsible for a perception management campaign directed against Iran. He worried that such an effort might end with either Israel or the US attacking Iran and that this would be a disaster for both countries. Though he knew he might be putting himself in jeopardy, if he did nothing, he risked looking back on a disaster which he might’ve helped avert.
Lest anyone dismiss his concerns, note that Israel’s former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, a man known for extreme taciturnity, publicly warned that Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu proposed to a senior ministerial committee in 2010 that Israel attack Iran. Dagan almost single-handedly persuaded a majority of the ministers to defer an attack and to try nonlethal means instead, such as the Stuxnet cyber-attack, which Israel is known to have devised with likely US assistance. The Mossad director called a military attack on Iran the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” He knew, as Anthony Cordesman has reported, it would likely kill thousands of Iranians (directly) and Israelis (indirectly through revenge terror attacks), lead to massive responses by Iran and its proxies and possibly cause the closing of the Straits of Hormuz, a skyrocketing in world oil prices and potential economic catastrophe.
This month, Haaretz published this frightening characterization of Barak and Bibi’s current attitude on the subject:
Anyone who has spoken with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in small forums in recent months was astonished to hear a firm, determined, almost messianic tone regarding the nuclear threat and how it should be handled.
So, the danger of such an attack is very real. As we used to hear characters intone in TV and movies about nuclear apocalypse during my 1960s youth: “This is not a drill.”
Leibowitz knew I agreed with his pessimistic view of the situation, as I’d written on the subject before, and he figured I might have an interest in making these documents public. But first, I recognized the danger that this would pose to him, so we had many discussions about what to do with the material. I asked him for permission to consult confidentially with other journalists, as neither of us had leaked or published classified documents before.
I warned him a number of times that publishing the material could have serious negative consequences. At the time, I only considered that he might lose his job or the right to practice law or that the government might harass him for what he did. I didn’t consider the possibility that they might actually prosecute him for these leaks, which was what happened.
After these consultations, we both decided to go forward, but in what we felt was a discreet, controlled way. I would leak portions of the transcripts in a format designed to conceal the source and the specific identity of those individuals overheard in the surveillance tapes. I did this for about a month and published about five posts, including one in The Guardian UK’s Comment is Free.
The material published included references to Israeli diplomats briefing President-elect Obama on Operation Cast Lead while the war was being prosecuted, presumably in an effort to persuade him of the importance of continuing it, despite the pressure the incoming president was under to speak out against it. They revealed private, late-night meetings between the Israeli ambassador and a key Obama operative at which they presumably discussed how and whether the war would end in relation to the president-elect’s upcoming inauguration. Note that the war ended on January 18, and Obama was inaugurated on January 20. I’m certain this was no accident, but rather a carefully choreographed deal between the two sides. Obama never criticized the war publicly. Now we know why.
I noted that an Israeli diplomat ghost wrote some or all of a Boston Herald op-ed attacking Iran, to which a prominent Jewish attorney and community leader signed his name. In Minneapolis, the local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) briefed the Chicago Israeli Consulate on the travel schedule and a meeting it held with Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. Ellison, according to the tapes, was viewed as hostile to Israeli interests. In fact, the JCRC official told the Israeli diplomat that Ellison had just led a local trade delegation to Saudi Arabia (a big no-no) and was planning to join Rep. Brian Baird (D-Washington) in a fact-finding mission to Gaza in the aftermath of the war. This trip, too. was viewed with alarm by both parties in the transcripts.
“The JCRC director conceded implicitly in The American Jewish World that he monitored Ellison and reported to the consulate:
‘As part of our work fostering a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, the JCRC communicates from time to time with the Consul General’s office in Chicago … Accordingly, the JCRC’s conversations with the Consul General’s office have included discussions about members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, including Representative Ellison.'”
In Texas, a member of Congress held a meeting with a prominent Jewish campaign donor and consular official to discuss ways of advancing Israel’s legislative campaign against Iran, including punitive sanctions and alarming the US public with the dangers posed by that country and its supposed effort to produce a nuclear weapon.
In September 2008, before one of the presidential debates, an Israeli operative attempted unsuccessfully to meet with a debate panelist in order to plant a question about war against Iran: Would the candidates take military action against that country or accept a nuclear-armed Iran? The Israelis did NOT want any question that asked what the candidates might do if Israel attacked Iran.
Israeli diplomats were heard touting pro-Israel members of Congress and bad mouthing those viewed as hostile. There were tutorials in cultivation of members. These are excerpts of a post I wrote on April 28, 2009, detailing the methods and goals of such cultivation:
… Last month, Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem, Chicago and Washington made a series of calls to review the status of relationships with the Midwest’s members of Congress. Senior diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained to Israeli diplomatic personnel that the purpose of getting to know these elected officials was to advance Israel’s agenda in Congress.
Israeli diplomats are most interested in members of Congress who serve on the intelligence, defense, foreign affairs and appropriations committees since those deal with issues of most concern to Israel. This explains peripherally, why they would devote so much time and attention to cultivating Jane Harman, since she stood to become chair of the House intelligence committee if Pelosi had agreed to retain her on the committee (which she didn’t).
The Israeli officials … were annoyed at their inability to gain access to Sen. Russell Feingold despite the fact that his sister is a rabbi and has visited Israel. Note that a trip to Israel in their view is like a tetanus inoculation bestowing excellent pro-Israel health and antibodies against “pro-Arab propaganda.”
When a diplomat described Rep. David Obey as not a great friend of Israel and borderline hostile, the DC embassy representative reminded his staff that they could schedule meetings with staff when Congress members are not available (which presumably would positively influence their boss).
… The Israelis have noted that Sen. John Thune introduced anti-Iran legislation in the last session and that Rep. Mark Kirk planned to introduce new punitive legislation targeting that country. The Israelis sang the praises of Sen. Sam Brownback, who planned a conference that would exert economic pressure on Iran. The D.C. embassy plans to follow up with him to encourage his plans.
Sen. Clare McCaskill is a particular focus of the Israelis because she is a confidant of the president and a member of the armed services and homeland security committees. The Israelis plan to establish close relations with McCaskill and her staff. Another Missouri legislator, Russ Carnahan, receives no such royal treatment. He is viewed, like Obey, as not friendly to Israel. Why? Because during a meeting with him, he highlighted to the Israeli representative his sympathy for the poor people of Gaza. The reason for this sympathy in the eyes of the Israelis? The legislator was poisoned by information from the Arab lobby.
… One Israeli diplomat said that members of the St. Louis Jewish community conveyed their “expectations” to Carnahan and reminded him on which side his bread was buttered.
Israeli diplomatic staff have noted a problematic relationship with two Minnesota representatives, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum. Though they consider Ellison, a Muslim, “not anti-Israel,” they noted he was quite attentive to the Arab lobby. Clearly they were keeping a close eye on Ellison’s schedule as they knew he was receiving an UNWRA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] briefing that very day about conditions in Gaza … The Israelis noted with displeasure that Ellison has teamed up with Washington State Rep. Brian Baird (the two visited Gaza together) …
… The Israelis are monitoring a new Indiana representative Andre Carson who like Ellison is Muslim. But it seems they’re playing “good Muslim, bad Muslim,” as Carson, they noted, hasn’t yet taken any “radical” positions and therefore might serve as a counter-weight to “bad Muslim” Ellison.
In the process of publishing this material, the Israelis became aware that their security was breached. They expressed concern about it, considered various possibilities for the origin of the leak (a mole was one theory), but continued their conversations. Eventually, Shamai thought it wasn’t a good idea to continue with our project as he didn’t wish to compromise the FBI investigation any more than necessary. He asked me to destroy the files I had, which I did by burning them.
Subsequently, late one night, I received an alarming phone call from Shamai in which he disjointedly disparaged my work, told me I was wasting my time and that everything I’d done was “silly.” It was so out of character that I was completely befuddled by his behavior. At that point, I knew our working partnership was at an end. But I didn’t consider at the time that perhaps he knew the FBI was already monitoring him and perhaps listening to the conversation.
Several months later, I discovered that Shamai had been indicted for leaking materials to me. I was shocked and troubled. But, largely, I felt powerless, since going public would only jeopardize him further. I consulted an attorney who warned me against it. I contacted friends of his, contributed to his legal fund and did whatever I could to defend him privately to journalists who contacted me.
It is almost unheard of for the federal government to prosecute employees who leak to journalists. The last such prosecution was of Samuel Morison in the early 1980s. Morison, who leaked a photograph of an advanced Soviet battleship to a military publication in return for money, received about the same sentence as Shamai. The former was also eventually pardoned by President Bill Clinton. In contrast, the FBI translator acted purely out of principle, received no compensation and did nothing to harm US military interests nor did he help a US enemy, as it could be argued Morison may have done.
I learned, this past summer, that Shamai was about to be released from prison. At around that time, I heard from Daniel Ellsberg on Facebook about one of the Israeli human rights cases about which I reported. I decided to confide in him about what had happened because I was beginning to form some ideas that my one-time partnership with Shamai should be more widely known.
It was Ellsberg who’d likened Leibowitz to Bradley Manning and called him a whistleblower. So, I contacted the Pentagon Papers leaker and I said to him that the Israeli activist was a whistleblower, but not in the traditional conception of the term. He didn’t blow the whistle on the United States or one of its agencies or programs. Instead, he blew the whistle on surreptitious foreign diplomatic activity in this country which he felt jeopardized US interests.
When The New York Times finally reported on this story earlier this month, the headline (though not the substance of the reporting) got the issues wrong as it focused on the US spying on Israel. That’s not the story, as Israel no doubt spies on the US embassy in that country. The true story was why and how Israeli diplomats were intervening so obtrusively in US political life. This was one of the reasons the FBI needed to know what they were doing here.
I went public for two reasons: one was to expose Israel’s propaganda campaign in this country against Iran. But just as importantly, I wanted Americans to know why Shamai Leibowitz did what he did. I wanted them to know that not only was he a whistleblower, a profile in courage, but that he is a person of conscience, who faced the full force of the US government during his prosecution. I wanted the world to know Shamai was a sacrificial victim who deserved to be honored rather than imprisoned.
Steve Rosen, when the government prosecuted him for receiving US government classified materials and leaking them to the Israeli government, got a gold-plated $8-million legal defense. His team was so strong that it fought for its clients tooth and nail and won a dismissal of all charges against them.
Shamai had no well-funded organization at his back. No family trust fund to protect him. He faced the choice of a jail sentence or a lifetime of repaying legal fees (or bankruptcy). This is a choice that no one in his position should ever be forced to make. He, no doubt, took the choice that was least objectionable.
Shamai’s prosecution is part of an alarming, aggressive Obama administration pursuit of such whistleblowers – who have included James Sterling and Thomas Drake. Drake, in particular, just faced down the government and reached a plea deal in which he was legally vindicated. But he had to bankrupt himself to do so. Those civil liberties activists who hoped for more and better from this administration compared to the previous one have been disappointed. Shamai Leibowitz’ prosecution is a black mark on the legacy of the Obama administration.
I, too, face some jeopardy, though the government has never prosecuted a journalist for publishing a government leak. If they came after me, it would be a first. But we’ve learned, unfortunately, that anything’s possible.
In all fairness, I should add that the government never approached me to testify in this case. Though if Shamai had resisted a plea bargain, I undoubtedly would’ve been placed in the awkward position of being pressured to testify, as Judith Miller was. I wasn’t contacted until after Leibowitz agreed to a plea bargain. And that questioning was not adversarial. Also the government agreed not to reveal my involvement and did not do so. That’s at least some consolation.
Finally, I think Americans should salute Shamai Leibowitz and wish him well. I know he has suffered a great deal and getting on with his life will be hard. If anyone deserves a break, he does.
French trade unions have staged a string of strikes to protest the government’s austerity measures, leaving school and public transport services disrupted.
Several French unions called for a national day of action against the government’s austerity package on Tuesday, calling on employees to demonstrate in streets and cripple transportation, especially in Paris.
State railway SNCF said nearly one quarter of the country’s high-speed trains would be either cancelled or delayed.
The strikes also caused express metro system delays in the French capital.
The walkout also affected schools, with many posting notices that canteen services would not be offered.
In Nice, some 500 people demonstrated against the cuts while more rallies are expected to be held in more than 200 towns and cities.
The protests followed the introduction of a cost-cutting package by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government to slash 11 billion euros (USD 15 billion) from next year’s budget.
Paris says the move will reduce the country’s debts and prop up France’s key position in the troubled eurozone, AP reported.
Critics, however, argue that the cuts have unfairly targeted some sectors and workers and that the poor alone should not shoulder the burden of the austerity measures.
In 2009, the New York state legislature imposed a tax surcharge on residents earning $1 million or more per year. This “millionaire’s tax” was passed with the proviso that it expire on December 31, 2011. When Democrats in the state capital proposed extending this tax on the rich, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo said no, and the surcharge was history.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters held a march, dubbed the millionaire’s march, to demand that the rich pay their fair share of taxes. They marched past the New York City homes of billionaire David Koch, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase. For some strange reason, they did not march past the offices of the Democratic governor.
This stunning inaction is a bad omen that the Occupy Wall Street movement is doomed to fail unless it changes course quickly. The only way to protest income inequality or bailouts of the financial services industry is to protest against the people in power, even when they happen to be Democrats. Occupy Wall Street appears destined to turn into yet another effort to soft pedal Democratic complicity in the current economic crisis. OWS activists must not only disconnect themselves from the Democratic Party, but have the courage to protest them as strongly as they would Murdoch and Koch.
Agitation in favor of the “99%” against the “1%” is useless if it doesn’t address the bipartisan nature of the attack on the working people of this country. It is a bad sign indeed when the likes of Nancy Pelosi express support for OWS. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hypocritically asks for “100,000 strong standing with Occupy Wall Street.” It strains credulity to believe that the people in charge of raising corporate cash for democrats really want to see changes in our political system.
It is Barack Obama, not George W. Bush, who made a lie of the dictum that Social Security is the “third rail of politics.” It is now in the slaughterhouse along with all other government programs, waiting its turn to be eviscerated. The Democrats have excelled in committing the crimes which Republicans have only dreamed about, and they will only grow bolder if they are not called to account.
As a witness to the protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti park, this columnist did not see one sign or hear any general assembly statements denouncing the Democratic Party. It is easy to shout down Geraldo Rivera and Fox news, that condemnation is low hanging fruit for any intelligent person.
It will be harder to say that Andrew Cuomo and his political aspirations are as much a part of the problem as Messrs. Koch and Dimon. The propaganda which ignores Democratic Party perfidy is very deeply imbedded in the American people. If they don’t hear the voices of the American left telling them the truth of the country’s condition, then our situation is a dire one indeed.
The coming days and weeks will give the occupiers ample opportunity to speak out as the Obama administration ratchets up its efforts to realize right wing fantasies. On the same day that marchers missed a golden opportunity to expose the Democratic Party’s complicity in letting wealthy New Yorkers get away with their ill gotten gains, the administration charged Iranian citizens in a bizarre and unbelievable plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington. Will the OWS forces move to protest when Obama makes the inevitable case for war, or will they revert to letting Democratic crimes against humanity go unopposed?
While OWS promises to remain unco-opted by any political party, it has not moved further to include the Democrats in its denunciations. Partly as a result of its leaderless, decentralized nature, OWS has been slow to solidify any demands. Words like breaking up the concentration of wealth and power will be meaningless without a more pointed critique of the political system, a critique which should be no respecter of persons or party.
Mass action is the only way to prevent further inequality, and further American aggression around the world. Occupy Wall Street can be the beginning of a great movement, or a lost opportunity. The experiment may be in its beginning stages, but the learning curve has to be brief if OWS is to not only remain free from political interference, but make good on its claims of fighting for the interests of working people.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.
Here is a crazy story no one is talking about that is evidence of the Israel lobby’s role in our politics. Last week, Mitt Romney announced a foreign policy team that includes Robert Kagan, a neocon who pushed for the Iraq war.
But Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, who is a spokesperson for the State Department. Laurie Bennett notes the strangeness of this conjunction:
Victoria Nuland’s role as spokesperson for the State Department, deemed strange by some who remember her tenure as principal deputy national security adviser to then Vice President Dick Cheney, has become stranger yet.
Her husband, Robert Kagan, has joined Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also advised the McCain campaign in 2008.
Ordinarily this would cause a lot of strain. Nuland would be under pressure. Chris Matthews would be asking what the heck she’s doing in a political job at State when her husband is preparing the opposition.
But in fact, Nuland’s Cheney resume and her marriage to Kagan are actually credentials in the Democratic Party: they demonstrate Obama’s sensitivity to the Israel lobby. And party bosses are happy to have these playing cards now that Obama is under siege from his own party about Israel.
Kagan pushed the Iraq war to George Bush as a battle to help Israel. He and his neocon friends wrote, “If we do not move against Saddam Hussein and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors… Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight. Israel’s victory is an important part of our victory.”
So Nuland’s presence is like Dennis Ross’s presence in the same building as Middle East adviser–a man the ADL calls an “advocate” for Israel, who was lately chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem. Or Stuart Levey’s former role in Obama’s Treasury department in the same position he had under George Bush– and Levey is a man whose college dissertation, written under Martin Peretz, was about the importance of preserving the Zionist dream.
All these appointments allow Israel advocates to say to lobbyists and donors: Obama loves Israel, look who he has serving him in these big jobs.
At Salon, As’ad AbuKhalil gets at the same point in a piece on another Romney adviser, Walid Phares.
The appointment of Phares to a position in the Romney campaign is not surprising. In years past, such an appointment would have been considered extreme and cast doubt on the wisdom of the candidate– but no more. Middle East policymaking is now dominated by the Israel lobby and its affiliates. Advocacy of Israeli positions has replaced professional qualifications as the criteria for service.
Who said Barack Obama would bring sobriety and dignity to U.S. foreign policy? The president’s men, and Top Woman Hillary Clinton, have thrown every stereotypical demon of middle American nightmares into the psychological operations gumbo, to create a war hysteria against Iran. No reflexive terror button is left unpunished, no racial hysteria unexploited. Bubble, bubble, boil and trouble, the administration is cooking up an almost comically infernal witches brew just in time for Halloween.
What a confabulation! There’s the Mexican drug cartel hit men, the specter of a bomb exploding in a crowded, upscale Washington eatery, plus attacks on Israelis and, of course, in the background, the elite Quds unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And if you believe the government story – well, that proves you are the typical America, and any idiot can keep you in a state of endless war.
How convenient this alleged plot is, to weave together the interests of the Mexican narco-regime, which is at war with some of its drug billionaires and in league with others, and a permanent lackey of the United States; Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regime on the planet, where one family demonstrates its fitness to control the world’s largest oil reserves by building a skyscraper three times the height of the Empire State Building in the middle of a vast desert, and is also a collaborator with the United States in turning back the Arab Spring; and Israel, the uncontested champion violator of international law and United Nations resolutions, which maintains its supremacy in the Middle East and unique relationship to the United States by keeping the region permanently on the brink of Armageddon.
All four players now claim Iran has all but declared war on virtually everybody by plotting to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. But the whole thing smells more like the FBI’s schemes to frame Black men in Miami and Newburgh, New York, for terroristic attacks that never did, or could, happen.
Attorney General Eric Holder, the American entrapper-in-chief, says the Iranians wanted to pay $1.5 million to Mexican hit men to kill the ambassador, possibly by blowing up a DC restaurant where lots of congresspersons also dined. But it turns out that a Drug Enforcement Administration “confidential source” in Mexico was the guy the Iranians supposedly contacted for the hit, and that he came up with the bombing idea, and that the restaurant doesn’t even exist. A naturalized American who also kept his Iranian passport is now in custody. His alleged partner is an Iranian who, if you believe the U.S. government, was connected somehow to the Iranian Quds force. We are supposed to accept that this is how the Iranians make war against the western world.
Mexico says the plot was a threat to its national security, although it is not alleged that even one Mexican hit man was actually contacted. Israel – well, the Israelis are always trying to get the U.S. to attack Iran, so there’s nothing new, there. And the Saudis are pretending to be the injured party, even though they years ago promised the use of their airspace to Israel and the United States for the purpose of bombing Iran.
Iran calls the tale “a children’s story.” Which pretty much sums it up, except these American, Saudi, Mexican and Israeli children are vicious, straight out of Lord of the Flies.
Iran’s representative at the United Nations says Canada is the main supplier of arms to Israel and is therefore an accomplice in all Israeli crimes committed in the occupied territories.
During the recent session of the General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee in New York, the Iranian delegation issued a statement condemning Canada’s silence towards Israel’s nuclear weapons program which poses a great threat to global security and is not under international inspection.
Regarding Canada’s claim that 20-percent uranium enrichment by Iran is illegal, the statement added, “This measure is completely legal and its aim is to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor which produces medical isotopes used to treat more than one million cancer patients.”
“[Nuclear] activities in Natanz and Qom [facilities] have never been clandestine as they were built according to International Atomic Energy Agency’s regulations… and the agency was informed beforehand and these facilities are currently under the permanent supervision of the Agency,” the statement said.
The statement added that Iran only started producing 20-percent enriched uranium after other countries refused to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor and the country was left with no option but to reach self-sufficiency in this regard.
During the recent session of the Disarmament and International Security Committee, the Canadian representative raised questions about Iran’s uranium enrichment program alleging that enriching uranium to 20 percent by Iran was not meant for peaceful purposes.
The United States and its Western allies have been accusing Iran of developing a military nuclear program, an allegation categorically rejected by Tehran.
Numerous inspections by the IAEA have found no evidence suggesting that Iran’s nuclear program is deviating towards military purposes.
Iran maintains that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it is fully entitled to the peaceful use of the nuclear technology to meet its growing energy demand and to treat cancer patients.
It is good news that over 1000 Palestinian political prisoners will be released in a prison swap deal. But there are still thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. This Saturday we will be discussing in our cultural group the new book by Marwan Barghouthi about his life behind bars. He will apparently not be part of this prisoner exchange deal neither will Ahmed Saadat of PFLP nor other key leaders. For English readers on this list, I translated my review of Barghouthi’s book (originally in Arabic) and included it here. Below that I include some text on prisoners from my book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.” Hopefully those two sections will give you some idea about the struggles of political prisoners now in the news. Hopefully, Hamas (which did not get all it wanted but did score a political victory here) and Fatah (which scored a political victory by abandoning the futile US-led bilateral negotiations) could now implement their signed agreements especially on representation in the PNC.
Comparing Books by political prisoners: Nelson Mandela and Marwan Barghouthi
Review by Mazin Qumsiyeh
I read Nelson Mandel’s inspiring autobiography many years ago. His book was titled “Long Walk to Freedom” because it was done after the end of apartheid. Marwan Barghouthi’s book is not an autobiography in that sense because our people’s walk to freedom is still ongoing. It is thus titled “One thousand days in prison isolation cell” and refers to a part of the struggle. We indeed look for the day that our political prisoners can write books at the end of the road to freedom.
Barghouthi’s book is dedicated to his wife, his children, to the Palestinian people, to the Arab and Islamic world, to all those who struggle and resist occupation and colonization, and to fellow prisoners. Mandela’s book similarly recalls family, people, and fellow political prisoners.
Barghouthi recalls his village life in Kuber with much passion and love in his newest book but you will find the national cause dominates the book. While Kuber is mentioned two or three times, Palestine is mentioned on just about every paragraph. Mandela had a rural beginning in a small village called Mvezo and still retains that love of the land. He was a shepherd and plowed lands. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer and was like Barghouthi interested in learning. He enrolled at Birzeit University in 1983 but due to exile and other factors only finished his bachelor degree in 1994 (in history and political science). In 1998, he got a masters in international relations. Both Mandela and Barghouthi led youth movements in their teens and became strong leaders even as they were pursued and jailed.
Mandela like Barghouthi reports on mistreatment, lengthy incarcerations, resisting, and all that you expect from someone who went through such experiences. Mandela like Barghouthi says that it is not what he actually did that he was being punished for but for what he stood for. Both were charged by the respective apartheid regimes of leading armed guerrilla groups.
Through these writings, you see a common characteristic: great humility. They do not elevate themselves above the thousands who struggle for freedom. Even though some of us consider them key leaders, they themselves see their role as foot soldiers. Barghouthi describes being beaten on his private parts and losing consciousness waking later to find a gash on his head from falling and hitting the cement wall. The gash left a permanent mark. But immediately after describing this, Barghouthi merely says (p. 21) that it is merely a small example of what tens of thousands of activists were subjected to.
In the mid 1950s Mandela devised a plan and convinced fellow ANC leaders to adopt it that created a decentralized structure. Cells are formed at the grassroots level and select among them leadership at intermediate levels which insured secrecy and yet some level of democracy and operational meaning. Barghouthi recalls how he was not happy about Arafat’s autocratic structure and especially those around Arafat many of them were corrupt and not dedicated to the Palestinian struggle.
Barghouthi and Mandela speak of psychological warfare including the games of good investigator and bad investigator played to break prisoners’ will. A lot of what he says about mistreatment in prison will not be new to Palestinians alive today. Most Palestinians above age 30 have tasted at least some of these pains. Of course Barghouthi suffered more than most Palestinian males his age.
Barghouthi talks about how critical the visit by his lawyer was to break his isolation and makes him feel connected to life outside the prison. Mandela also refers to the psychological boost received by knowing that people outside continue the struggle and care about the freedom of political prisoners.
Barghouthi states on page 130 how in prison you have lots of time to think. He recalls these thoughts in detail and they range from his feelings of solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed people around the world to poor programming on Palestinian television (when the channel was allowed in prisons). Barghouthi speaks about his passions like reading books. He speaks of his love for his family. He speaks of women’s liberation. He speaks of learning languages in jail. The thoughts of Mandela in jail also dealt with similar issues. Barghouthi describes solitary confinement as “slow death” (p. 81). Mandela calls them the “dark years”.
Barghouthi speaks about how the US and western positions put significant pressures on Arafat and that finally, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas was appointed prime minister. Abbas, according to Barghouthi, was known for his positions against resistance (p. 156). In one section he talks about how leadership did not rise to the challenge or match the enormous struggle, aspirations and needs of the people.
Barghouthi says on page 148 that Israel can defeat a particular leader or faction or group of people but cannot defeat the will of the Palestinian people. On the next page he articulates beautifully why resistance in all its types is so critical to success in achieving our collective goals. The cost of occupation and colonization must be made unbearable or at least more than the benefit from it for Israel to back off.
Barghouthi speaks about how his political actions did not stop in jail. He gives several examples including the Palestinian factions observing a cease fire that started 19 December 2001 on the eve of the visit by American envoy General Anthony Zinni. That cease fire lasted for nearly a month but was broken by Israel’s assassination of Ra’ed Karmi.
Barghouthi recalls that one of the more painful episodes was the abduction of his son Qassam. His letter to his son takes 30 pages of the book! It is an amazing letter that recalls the history of Palestine, the history of struggle, the history of the prisoner movement and much more. But the letter also reflects on feelings and attitude of Barghouthi himself in key periods of his life. How he felt when his son was born while he is in jail. How he built a relationship with his wife despite being a man spending most of his life either on the run or in jail. It is very detailed mentioning dates and events and surroundings that put the reader (his son and us) in those circumstances. He recalls the death of his father on August 5, 1985. He talked about his biggest pains (which were not the interrogations, torture or solitary confinement) but when he was exiled to Jordan in the late 1980s. Yet he also says that after his family joined him in exile from the homeland, the family life alleviated the pain of exile from his homeland. The letter ends with recommendations he gives to his son like any father gives to his son. But here the recommendations are about exercising, reading books, learning languages, and keeping friendly relations with fellow prisoners.
The book finishes with a section about his wife and a final section about collaborators in Israeli jails. It is significant that he decided to conclude with detailed exposure of the despicable methods of collaborations. Similarly, Mandela’s autobiography includes a section on treason.
Oliver Tambo described Mandela as passionate, fearless, impatient and sensitive. I never met either Mandela or Barghouthi personally but after reading these books, I can say that I agree not only with these adjectives applied to Mandela and Barghouthi but I can think of many others: humble, honest, intelligent, articulate, and I can go on but I will leave that to historians to give people their due. But knowing such people at least through their writings and writings of others about them adds to our conviction that freedom is inevitable to nations that have such individuals.
Prison struggles in the book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and empowerment”
In this book I discuss the efforts for release of political prisoners that started in the 1920s when the women’s movement in Palestine succeeded in gaining release of three prisoners (Chapter 6). In chapter 7, we find that “On 17 May 1936, prisoners in Nur Shams prison declared a strike and confronted the prison guards who ordered soldiers to open fire. One inmate was killed and several wounded as prisoners shouted in defiance: ‘Martyrdom is better than jail’.(ref) On 23 May 1936, Awni Abdel Hadi, secretary general of the Arab Higher Committee, was arrested.(ref)…. On 9 September 1939, fighters took over Beersheba government facilities and released political prisoners from the central jail.”
When the British government felt more confident in 1942-43 about the prospects of winning the war, it released some Palestinian political prisoners and allowed others to return from exile. Attempts to revive political activity during this period were nugatory. Awni Abdel Hadi returned from exile in 1943 and revived Hizb Al-Istiqlal, with help from Rashid Alhaj Ibrahim and Ahmed Hilmi Abdel Baqi, and even started a national fund.”
In other sections of the book, I discussed the struggle of Palestinians inside the Green Line, many of them ended in jail as political prisoners. Like Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, they supported their political prisoners and struggled for their release. The struggle in the occupied territories continued. When Israel introduced extensions of so-called ‘administrative detention’ (detention without trial) for up to six months, a strike among Palestinian political prisoners started on 11 July 1975.
Political prisoners in Israeli jails also organised themselves into effective committees [during the uprising of 1987] which carried out collective strikes which were especially effective in the 1980s and early 1990s.36 King interviewed Qaddourah Faris (from Fatah) who was a key leader of the prisoner movement. He talked about a successful hunger strike for humane treatment that involved 15,000 prisoners throughout Israeli jails.(ref) In 1990, Israel held over 14,000 Palestinian prisoners in more than 100 jails and detention centres at one time according to Middle Rights Watch.(ref) Even Israeli supporters like Anthony Lewis became outraged enough to write:
“The Israeli Government has taken thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza into what it calls ‘administrative detention.’ That means they are held as prisoners, for up to six months at a stretch, without trial. At least 2,500 of the detainees are imprisoned in Ketziot, a tent camp in the burning heat of the Negev desert. On Aug. 16 Israeli soldiers shot and killed two of-the detainees there … The story had further grim details that I shall omit because they cannot be confirmed … The prisoners at Ketziot, it must be emphasised, have not been convicted of doing anything. They have had not a semblance of due process. They are there because someone in the Israeli Army suspects them – or wants to punish them. Mr. Posner went to Ketziot to see two Palestinian lawyers being held there and four field investigators for a West Bank human rights group, Al Haq. He concluded that they had been detained because of ‘their work on human rights and as lawyers.”(ref)
On 6 December 1998, during President Clinton’s visit, over 2,000 political prisoners went on hunger strike demanding to be released. Their message to both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership was not to negotiate issues that do not place their release on the agenda.
In September 1988, the Israeli army stated that the number of detainees it held was 23,600 and Peter Kandela reported cases of the use of torture on detainees.94 After the Oslo Accords many thousands of Palestinians were released. But many thousands more were imprisoned in the uprising that started in 2000. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians spent time in Israeli jails. On occasion, nearly 20 per cent of the political prisoners were minors.95
Political prisoners in Israeli jails also participated in non-violent resistance. Israel radio reported on a hunger strike by prisoners in the camps of Jenin, Ramallah and Nablus, who demanded improvement in their deplorable conditions in 1987.96 Al-Ansar prison in southern Lebanon, where thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese political prisoners were held by Israeli occupation forces, showed incredible acts of resistance and resilience, ranging from hunger strikes to refusal to obey orders to writing.97
Thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike from 15 August to 2 September 2004. During this time, the Israeli authorities tried various methods from persuasion to threats to beatings to break the strike; 13 UN agencies operating in the occupied areas expressed their concern.98
Outside the prisons, Palestinians and internationals protested and worked diligently to spread the word about the prisoners’ demands and their plight. It started with the prisoners’ families, many of whom joined the hunger strike. Crowds assembled on 16 August 2004 outside local offices of the Red Cross and marched to the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations where they delivered a letter addressed to Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling for him to apply pressure on Israel and improve the prisoners’ conditions. They demonstrated again in the thousands two days later.99 The PA, Palestinians inside the Green Line and the ISM called for hunger strikes outside the prisons to support the prisoners’ demands.100 The strike slowly gained momentum despite repressive measures.101 Israel’s Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi stated: ‘Israel will not give in to their demands. They can starve for a day, a month, even starve to death, as far as I am concerned’102 Eventually, the prison authorities conceded that the prisoners were entitled to some basic humanitarian rights.
Palestinian female political prisoners in Telmud Prison were mistreated and on 28 November 2004 their spokeswomen who complained about this was beaten and punished. When others complained, they too were punished, so they too went on hunger strike.103
Prisoners continued to use hunger strikes to protest against ill treatment and draw attention to their plight. For example, on 16 February 2006, Jamal Al-Sarahin died in prison. He was a 37-year-old ‘administrative detainee’ (held without charge or trial) who had been detained for eight months and badly mistreated. Prisoners called a one-day hunger strike.104
On 11 March 2006, a sit-down strike in front of the ICRC in Hebron was held to demand better treatment of prisoners. On 27 June 2006, 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners in the Negev Desert started a hunger strike to protest against the arbitrary and oppressive practices of the prison administration. In total, over 700,000 Palestinians have spent time in Israeli jails and the latest statistics show that 11,000 are still being held according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society.105
By 2009, Palestinians in Israeli prisons had achieved a number of successes by non-violent struggle and civil disobedience, including wearing civilian clothes (no orange uniforms), access to news, reasonable visiting rights and better access to healthcare. But the Prison Administration continues to chip away at those rights.106 Unfortunately, the PA is forced to subsidise the cost to Israel of maintaining Palestinian prisoners.
Because so many people are jailed for their resistance activities, Palestinian society has a profound respect and appreciation for the sacrifices of the prisoners. Time spent in prison is considered a badge of honour. Prisons also shape character. One former prisoner stated:
Like any human community, there are contradictions, but there is a common thread in the experience in prison that gives us strength, a common goal, a common purpose. We are joined together in struggle, so our shared experiences only make us stronger.107
(Excerpts from the book: “Popular Resistance in Palestine” by Mazin Qumsiyeh, Pluto Press, Available in Arabic from Muwatin, Ramallah).
American authorities reportedly disrupted an Iranian government plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Washington declared that it is “committed to holding Iran accountable.”
Two men, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, have been charged with conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi Arabian diplomat Adel Al-Jubeir. The FBI has described Shakuri as a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds force. The plot also allegedly involved bombing attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington.
“The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law,” said US Attorney General Eric Holder, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
“In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” he said.
Shakuri remains at large while Arbabsiar was arrested on September 29 at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. He made an appearance in a Manhattan court on Tuesday.
Arbabsiar’s arrest came during a sting operation by the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. A holder of both US and Iranian passports, he is accused of being ready to pay $1.5 million for the murder of the Saudi ambassador. For the hit he allegedly turned to members of the Mexican drug cartel, who in fact were informants for the FBI.
Investigators also say Arbabsiar wired some $100,000 to an FBI undercover bank account as an advance for the assassination.
Iran has rejected claims by the US that Tehran was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, saying this was a “prefabricated scenario” designed to “turn public attention away from domestic problems within the United States.”
In an open letter to the UN, written after the US accused Iran of plotting murder and terror acts on American territory, Iran’s UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee strongly and categorically denied all allegations, calling them fabricated and “based on the suspicious claims of an individual.”
“Any country could accuse other countries through fabrication of such stories,” the ambassador wrote to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stressing that “This would set dangerous precedents in relations among states.”
The ambassador condemned the politically-motivated allegations of terrorism, calling them “a showcase of animosity towards the Iranian nation.”
The letter also mentions that it is Iran that has been a victim of the terrorist tactics of the US-supported Israeli regime that does not hesitate to kill Iranian nuclear scientists on Iranian soil.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency described the accusations as “America’s new propaganda scenario” against Iran.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, took the US claims seriously, thanking the US authorities for foiling the alleged attempt.
The US is already consulting its allies over the alleged assassination plot in a bid to press Europe to support new sanctions against Iran. The British government has been the first to discuss introducing new measures targeting Tehran.
British PM David Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field confirmed on Wednesday that London was in consultations with Washington about anti-Iranian sanctions but ruled out British involvement in any future military operation against Iran.
Something is amiss with Washington’s allegations, claims antiwar activist Brian Becker.
“I think that the US has climbed the escalation ladder, and whenever the escalation ladder is climbed, you ratchet up an attack against the other side; the other side then has to reciprocate,” he told RT. “I think we really need to question what is going on here. Is it really in the interest of Iran to carry out the assassination of this Saudi Arabian or Israeli ambassador in the heart of Washington at a time when the Iranian government knows the US is trying to find a pretext to escalate tensions with Iran?”
Becker declared that Iran would not benefit from a crime like this, as it would have brought Tehran closer to war with the largest military power in the world.
“The only beneficiaries are the Israeli regime and the United States government, which wants to ratchet up tensions against Iran,” concluded Becker.
The thrill is gone, the euphoria has faded and our mass delusions have been swept away to make room for the reality that there never was an Egyptian revolution. Eight months after deposing the old despot, Egypt is now in the firm grip of a new and improved military dictatorship – the Supreme Counsel of the Armed Forces. Any lingering doubt about the intentions of the generals to retain command and control of the ship of state vanished on Bloody Sunday.
There is no need for additional forensic evidence of what exactly transpired at Maspero, the site of a massacre that can only be called a crime against humanity. What started out as a peaceful march against religious persecution by Salafi vandals with a nasty habit of destroying Coptic churches turned into a blood bath. Two dozen demonstrators were murdered, the youngest of them 12 years old.
The only real question remaining is whether the slaughter was premeditated. From where I sit in Cairo, it sure looks that way. How else can one explain the outright lies and deceptions propagated by state owned media operatives?
The provocative coverage by State TV made it sound like Coptic gangs armed with machine guns had assaulted unarmed military police. And the public ate it up because they ‘saw’ it on their Telly. A call went out for ‘honorable’ citizens to go out and defend the army.
Of course, that story turned out to be a load of state manufactured manure. The online English language Al-Ahram website, also a government media outlet, gave a very different account.
A march of 10,000 Copts began today from Shubra to the State TV building in Maspero turned violent when protesters were attacked by stone throwing mobs from on top of the surrounding walls while they were trying to cross the Shubra tunnel. A 15-minute battle ensued as the Coptic protesters fought back and hurled stones at their assailants. Gun shots were fired in the sky, leaving terrified demonstrators wondering aloud if they were going to be shot.
During the attack, panic ensued as women protesters were told to stand under the bridge for safety as Coptic youth tried to contain the march. After the battle stopped the march, once again regained its peaceful nature and continued towards Maspero.
On their way to Maspero they stopped in the neighboring Galaa Street and were attacked once again. A car sped through the crowd and randomely shot at protesters. The march continued once again to Maspero where the protesters were attacked again with increased vigour and violence.
An Ahram Online correspondent at Maspero reports seeing glass being thrown down at protesters from inside the State Broadcasting building in Maspero while armoured personnel carriers were driven by the army through the crowds, hitting and running protesters over. Eyewitness accounts posted on Twitter detail people being shot by the armed forces and attacked by plain-clothed thugs, with fire consuming vehicles by the Nile.
So far confirmed as being among those killed are Mina Daniel, an activist and blogger; Wael Yunna, a journalist for Coptic TV; and Michael Mosaad, an activist and member of the Maspero Youth Coalition.
The protest was organised by the Maspero Youth Union, a group of young Coptic activists to protest against the recent violations against Copts. The protesters chanted, ‘raise your head high you are a Copt,’ and ‘no to burning of churches.’
The protesters also chanted against the army, shouting “the people want the fall of the Field Marshall Tantawi,” and chanted: “Tantawi, where is your army, our homes and churches are being attacked.”
The very next morning, the Arabic print version of Al-Ahram spared all of 150 words to report the story. The brief account didn’t even mention a clash or report on the casualties. This sanitary version of the events had Muslims and Christians marching peacefully chanting “Muslims and Copts are One Hand.” My best guess is that they didn’t want to squander all their recently acquired post-revolutionary virginity on a single story.
By Tuesday morning, Al-Ahram was back to usual form and reporting an eyewitness account from a wounded soldier who claimed he saw 14 of his comrades burned alive in an armored personnel carrier. The journalist who wrote that story is well-advised to invest a little money in a calculator. The official death toll is 25 killed. Of those, 21 have already been identified as Copts, two bodies are unidentified and it’s not exactly certain who the other two are. They could have been soldiers but then again they could have been Muslim activists who were marching in solidarity with their Coptic brothers. The army initially claimed that three of its soldiers had died and now refuses to confirm the exact count.
Usually, in similar circumstances, the soldiers who die in the line of duty are identified and their families are awarded compensation and press coverage to honor their sacrifice. So it could be that the military suffered no fatalities.
The bottom line is that the state owned press accounts were all over the place even though the reported events happened right under their noses. The site of the massacre was across the street from the State Television building at Maspero. State media, any state media, is always a suspect source of information. But when you get this level of confusion in Egyptian state media outlets, it is a sure sign of a cover-up.
The behavior of these ‘journalists’ – and I use that word very loosely – is very similar to what happened on February 2, 2011. That is exactly the same scenario that transpired during the infamous “Battle of the Camels” when armed thugs on horses and camels attacked demonstrators in Tahrir Square.
At the time, the army had already committed itself to protecting the demonstrators and volunteered to be a “custodian of the revolution.” But a curious thing happened – the army didn’t intervene and never bothered to explain how the hired goons had penetrated their lines or how they had managed to pass unnoticed through dozens of army checkpoints that were set up to enforce a curfew. That remains a taboo subject.
But there are some things we now know about the Battle of the Camel. It was a carefully orchestrated attempt by the Mubarak regime to abort the revolution and the plan included a very well-defined role for state media operatives. Their instructions were to ignore it and concentrate on reporting on ‘spontaneous’ outbreaks of support for the now deposed president. It’s fair to speculate that similar instructions were handed down to state media operatives on Bloody Sunday. For the record, these government salaried scribes are pretty much the same crowd that faithfully supported Mubarak for thirty years.
The massacre at Maspero came straight out Mubarak’s play book. Manufacture chaos, pose as a savior of the nation and extend the emergency laws or maybe go a bit further and declare martial law. Field Marshal Tantawi is already signaling the need to impose harsher measures against unidentified domestic and foreign provocateurs.
The Coptic demonstrators were not hooligans armed with machine guns; their ranks included women, children and sympathetic Muslim activists. And autopsies confirm that many of them were shot, stabbed, crushed by armored personnel carriers or beaten to death.
There is absolutely no need for a massive inquiry here. Just ask the soldiers and officers what their instructions were and who gave the orders. Pull in a few of the journalists on the state payroll and ask them the same thing. Round up a few of the thugs who attacked the demonstrators to determine if they acted ‘spontaneously’ or if they also had instructions. I’ll bet my last dollar that this was a False Flag operation to manufacture chaos and create enough sectarian tension to justify continued military rule.
Which gets me back to my initial thesis which is that there never was an Egyptian revolution. What happened in Egypt was a coup d’état that rode the back of a popular uprising, tamed it and now plans to re-establish six decades of military dictatorship. The generals were more than happy to get rid of Mubarak and his heir, a son who was not only a corrupt investment banker but also a draft dodger who never served a day in the military and was rumored to have a British passport.
The Copts who perished on Bloody Monday will go down as the last martyrs of the first Egyptian uprising or the first martyrs of the second Egyptian uprising. Either way, their blood will remain an indelible stain on Egyptian history. May God have mercy on their souls.
Ahmed Amr is the former editor of NileMedia.com and the author of The Sheep and The Guardians – Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle. He can be reached at: Montraj@aol.com.