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Stop Kidding Yourself: The Police Were Created to Control Poor and Working Class People

By Sam Mitrani | LAWCHA | December 29, 2014

In most of the liberal discussions of the recent police killings of unarmed black men, there is an underlying assumption that the police are supposed to protect and serve the population. That is, after all, what they were created to do. If only the normal, decent relations between the police and the community could be re-established, this problem could be resolved. Poor people in general are more likely to be the victims of crime than anyone else, this reasoning goes, and in that way, they are in more need than anyone else of police protection. Maybe there are a few bad apples, but if only the police weren’t so racist, or didn’t carry out policies like stop-and-frisk, or weren’t so afraid of black people, or shot fewer unarmed men, they could function as a useful service that we all need.

This liberal way of viewing the problem rests on a misunderstanding of the origins of the police and what they were created to do. The police were not created to protect and serve the population. They were not created to stop crime, at least not as most people understand it. And they were certainly not created to promote justice. They were created to protect the new form of wage-labor capitalism that emerged in the mid to late nineteenth century from the threat posed by that system’s offspring, the working class.

This is a blunt way of stating a nuanced truth, but sometimes nuance just serves to obfuscate.

Before the nineteenth century, there were no police forces that we would recognize as such anywhere in the world. In the Northern United States, there was a system of elected constables and sheriffs, much more responsible to the population in a very direct way than the police are today. In the South, the closest thing to a police force was the slave patrols. Then, as Northern cities grew and filled with mostly immigrant wage workers who were physically and socially separated from the ruling class, the wealthy elite who ran the various municipal governments hired hundreds and then thousands of armed men to impose order on the new working class neighborhoods.

Class conflict roiled late nineteenth century American cities like Chicago, which experienced major strikes and riots in 1867, 1877, 1886, and 1894. In each of these upheavals, the police attacked strikers with extreme violence, even if in 1877 and 1894 the U.S. Army played a bigger role in ultimately repressing the working class. In the aftermath of these movements, the police increasingly presented themselves as a thin blue line protecting civilization, by which they meant bourgeois civilization, from the disorder of the working class. This ideology of order that developed in the late nineteenth century echoes down to today – except that today, poor black and Latino people are the main threat, rather than immigrant workers.

Of course, the ruling class did not get everything it wanted, and had to yield on many points to the immigrant workers it sought to control. This is why, for instance, municipal governments backed away from trying to stop Sunday drinking, and why they hired so many immigrant police officers, especially the Irish. But despite these concessions, businessmen organized themselves to make sure the police were increasingly isolated from democratic control, and established their own hierarchies, systems of governance, and rules of behavior. The police increasingly set themselves off from the population by donning uniforms, establishing their own rules for hiring, promotion, and firing, working to build a unique esprit de corps, and identifying themselves with order. And despite complaints about corruption and inefficiency, they gained more and more support from the ruling class, to the extent that in Chicago, for instance, businessmen donated money to buy the police rifles, artillery, Gatling guns, buildings, and money to establish a police pension out of their own pockets.

There was never a time when the big city police neutrally enforced “the law,” or came anywhere close to that ideal (for that matter, the law itself has never been neutral). In the North, they mostly arrested people for the vaguely defined “crimes” of disorderly conduct and vagrancy throughout the nineteenth century. This meant that the police could arrest anyone they saw as a threat to “order.” In the post-bellum South, they enforced white supremacy and largely arrested black people on trumped-up charges in order to feed them into convict labor systems.

The violence the police carried out and their moral separation from those they patrolled were not the consequences of the brutality of individual officers, but were the consequences of careful policies designed to mold the police into a force that could use violence to deal with the social problems that accompanied the development of a wage-labor economy. For instance, in the short, sharp depression of the mid 1880s, Chicago was filled with prostitutes who worked the streets. Many policemen recognized that these prostitutes were generally impoverished women seeking a way to survive, and initially tolerated their behavior. But the police hierarchy insisted that the patrolmen do their duty whatever their feelings, and arrest these women, impose fines, and drive them off the streets and into brothels, where they could be ignored by some members of the elite and controlled by others. Similarly, in 1885, when Chicago began to experience a wave of strikes, some policemen sympathized with strikers. But once the police hierarchy and the mayor decided to break the strikes, policemen who refused to comply were fired. In these and a thousand similar ways, the police were molded into a force that would impose order on working class and poor people, whatever the individual feelings of the officers involved.

Though some patrolmen tried to be kind and others were openly brutal, police violence in the 1880s was not a case of a few bad apples – and neither is it today.

Much has changed since the creation of the police – most importantly the influx of black people into the Northern cities, the mid-twentieth century black movement, and the creation of the current system of mass incarceration in part as a response to that movement. But these changes did not lead to a fundamental shift in policing. They led to new policies designed to preserve fundamental continuities. The police were created to use violence to reconcile electoral democracy with industrial capitalism. Today, they are just one part of the “criminal justice” system which continues to play the same role. Their basic job is to enforce order among those with the most reason to resent the system – who in our society today are disproportionately poor black people.

A democratic police system is imaginable – one in which police are elected by and accountable to the people they patrol. But that is not what we have. And it’s not what the current system of policing was created to be.

If there is one positive lesson from the history of policing’s origins, it is that when workers organized, refused to submit or cooperate, and caused problems for the city governments, they could back the police off from the most galling of their activities. Murdering individual police officers, as happened in in Chicago on May 3rd 1886 and more recently in New York on December 20th, 2014, only reinforced those calling for harsh repression – a reaction we are beginning to see already. But resistance on a mass scale could force the police to hesitate. This happened in Chicago during the early 1880s, when the police pulled back from breaking strikes, hired immigrant officers, and tried to re-establish some credibility among the working class after their role in brutally crushing the 1877 upheaval.

The police might be backed off again if the reaction against the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and countless others continues. If they are, it will be a victory for those mobilizing today, and will save lives – though as long as this system that requires police violence to control a big share of its population survives, any change in police policy will be aimed at keeping the poor in line more effectively.

We shouldn’t expect the police to be something they’re not. As historians, we ought to know that origins matter, and the police were created by the ruling class to control working class and poor people, not help them. They’ve continued to play that role ever since.

 

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

The United States Disdain for Human Rights

By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | December 31, 2014

The United States once again disgraced itself on the world stage at the United Nations on December 30, when it voted against full recognition of Palestine. It proved to the world, if any further proof was required, that it has no interest in fostering the human rights and self-determination of any people that doesn’t benefit it in some way, either through making available to the U.S. coveted natural resources, allowing military bases to be built in the country, or funneling huge amounts of money into the campaign coffers of elected officials.

The vote was close: eight in favor, two opposed and five abstentions. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a weak and spineless leader if ever there was one, had vowed to join all the U.N. organizations it became eligible for when Palestine was voted ‘non-member observer state status’ by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012, and the International Criminal Court, if the resolution failed to pass. It will be interesting to see if he finally puts the needs of the Palestinians first, and follows through with this promise.

Although the vote failed, and even if it had passed, the U.S. would have vetoed it, it was, nonetheless, a significant milestone. Increasingly, and especially since Israel’s latest genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip, the world is recognizing what a few governments still deny: Israel is an apartheid regime, determined to destroy Palestine, its people and culture. Thanks in large part to the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, and the ready access that so many people have to social media, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated as a global pariah, with only the U.S. and a few other countries, including Canada (to its everlasting shame), still defending it.

After Tuesday’s vote, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said, incredibly, that ‘no other country in the world has invested more than the United States in pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians.’ It might be useful to look at what the U.S. has, in fact, done in this regard.

  • Vetoed resolutions condemning continued illegal settlement building in the West Bank. It is in violation of international law for an occupying nation (Israel) to move its citizens permanently into the occupied territory (Palestine). Israel has relocated over 500,000 Israelis into the West Bank, property that the international community says belongs to Palestine. And Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu says that not one of those settlers will ever be displaced. In early 2011, when the U.S. vetoed a resolution condemning settlement building, then U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that the U.S. recognizes the illegality of settlement building, but didn’t feel the U.N. was the place to address it. Where, one might reasonably ask, should violations of international law be addressed if not at the United Nations?
  • Gives $3 billion to Israel annually, and nothing to Palestine. This enables Israel to have one of the most powerful military machines in the world, while Palestine has no army, navy or air force.
  • Supports the carpet-bombing of Palestine. Periodically, sometimes in response to ineffective rocket fire from Gaza, rockets that Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an active proponent of Palestinian rights, calls ‘enhanced fire works’, and sometimes just on a whim, Israel begins bombing homes, schools, mosques, U.N. refugee centers and press offices, all in violation of international law. The U.S. proclaims that Israel has a right to defend itself, despite the illogic of an occupying nation defending itself from the nation it occupies. Also, international law that the U.S. recognizes states that an occupied nation has the right to defend itself. Even when Israeli soldiers target children, and bomb U.N. refugee centers, and the U.S. issues some mild criticism, it continues to send advanced weaponry to Israel.
  • Ignores the horrific suffering of the Palestinian people. In the Gaza Strip, thanks to Israel’s illegal blockade and periodic bombing, the economy is decimated. Unemployment is among the highest in the world, and thousands of people are homeless due to U.S.-supplied bombs. As much as 90% of the water is not fit to drink. Yet not only does the U.S. send no aid, it allows Israel to block aid from other countries.
  • Sponsors the farce of ongoing negotiations. It is a basic fact that negotiations can only occur between two parties, each of which has something the other wants that it can only obtain by surrendering something it has. Israel is able to take with impunity anything it wants from Palestine. It bulldozes entire villages to build illegal settlements, and uses Palestinian natural resources for manufacturing its own products. This is all in violation of international law, law that the U.S. recognizes.

A look at the United States relations with an earlier apartheid regime, South Africa, may help clarify U.S. support for Israel. Through the 1970s and 1980s, most U.S. administrations condemned the apartheid government, but opposed any economic sanctions to discourage it. As late as the administration of President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. had very friendly ties with South Africa. Mr. Reagan accused opponents of the apartheid government, most notably the African National Congress, of being pro-communist. In 1984, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu characterized the Reagan policy as ‘immoral, evil and totally un-Christian’. The U.S. finally imposed economic sanctions, only after Congress overrode a presidential veto.

Today, the U.S. demonizes Hamas, the democratically-elected government in Gaza, which earlier this year reunified with Fatah, the puppet government in the West Bank, a reunification that enraged Mr. Netanyahu and was the probable cause of his murderous assault on Gaza. The U.S. condemns illegal settlement construction, but finances it through its very generous foreign aid to Israel.

Like the situation in South Africa a generation ago, it will not be the U.S. that leads the way to freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people. No, that will occur in spite of, and not because of, U.S. actions. As indicated by the vote in the General Assembly in 2012 to grant Palestine Non-Member Observer State Status, yesterday’s close albeit unsuccessful vote to recognize Palestine in the Security Council, the growing BDS movement, the resolutions of many countries calling on their governments to recognize Palestine, Sweden’s recent recognition of Palestine, and worldwide outrage at Israel’s savage treatment of Palestinians, the U.S. will not be able to prevent the end of the occupation forever. It could be a force for freedom and human rights, but chooses instead to be an imperial nation, supporting the colonization of countries that can’t provide it with profits, ignoring and even financing horrific human rights abuses, and practicing savage racism within its own borders. U.S. citizens may still believe their nation’s public relations campaigns that proclaim it as a beacon of peace and freedom throughout the world, but that myth is not accepted beyond its borders. Rather than a major diplomatic player on the world stage, the U.S. is a farce, feared for its military power, but gaining no respect anywhere.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 4 Comments

The NYPD is Essentially Refusing to do Its Job and Yet New York Hasn’t Collapsed into Chaos

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | December 30, 2014

New York, NY — The NYPD has basically stopped doing its job since the murder of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu earlier this month, according to reports in the New York Post and New York Daily Newsand yet the city hasn’t descended into total chaos.

The Post reported that arrests were down 66% in the week following the deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, compared to the same period in 2013.

For certain offenses, the arrest levels are staggeringly low, according to the numbers put out by the Post.

Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage, reported the Post yesterday.

The Post says these numbers were obtained hours after revealing that cops were turning a blind eye to some minor crimes and making arrests only “when they have to” since the execution-style shootings of Ramos and Liu.

Some of the reason for the drop off in police activity is that there are some safety concerns. However, one of the Post‘s sources says that yes it’s partly out of safety concerns and partly a continuation of the childish and embarrassing protest against Mayor de Blasio’s response to the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner last summer.

From the Post:

“The call last week from the PBA is what started it, but this has been simmering for a long time,” one source said.

“This is not a slowdown for slowdown’s sake. Cops are concerned, after the reaction from City Hall on the Garner case, about de Blasio not backing them.”

A recently retired cop who attended the funeral also noted that police from around the country joined in the stunning display of resentment toward de Blasio.

“It’s a national protest against the mayor of New York,” the ex-cop said.

After the police union blamed the mayor for the subsequent murder of two officers, the New York Times made the case that rank-and-file officers deserve better from their union reps.

“Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect,” it says in an editorial. “They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments—a funeral of a fallen colleague—and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture.”

“I think it’s probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said as he predicted a long, cold war between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD’s rank and file Sunday, while admitting that morale among cops was so low, the problem could no longer be denied.

B4C9IdJCcAI5I6MThe time for petty threats and antagonism is over. It is now time we talk solutions.

Mayor de Blasio is to meet face-to-face with the heads of five police unions today. If there is one thing that we can rest assured will not be brought up at this meeting, it is that this sharp drop in the enforcement of certain offenses has not created the Mad Max scenario that so many people predict would happen if police loosen their grip.

Drug offenses, parking violations, traffic citations; these are not so much crimes as they are streams of revenue for the city. They are also the reason for the majority of police harassment within certain communities.

Without the war on drugs and without police shaking down every young person who they suspect is carrying an illegal plant, the quality of life for so many people would instantly increase, as it likely already has.

Ending prohibition would also effectively and drastically reduce the amount of crime in communities derived from the black market sale of drugs and the gang-related monopolies which arise from making certain substances illegal.

These are real solutions to real problems and we have an opportunity now to show how many of these laws are based in irrational fear or simply designed for revenue generation.

Sure, if police start refusing to arrest murderers and rapists, things will probably get really bad, especially since most of the residents in New York City have been disarmed. But this lawlessness would likely be a temporary reality. As we’ve seen with the economic collapse in Detroit and the subsequent lack of government policing, solutions like the Threat Management Center arise, which provide a more efficient and much more peaceful means of societal security.

As Reason Magazine’s Scott Shackford said, presumably, next year, after this all dies down, the NYPD may note a big drop of crime in December entirely because they stopped finding reasons to charge people with crimes.

Police unions could use the experience to decry all the petty, unnecessary reasons they’re ordered to cite and arrest people in the first place, but that’s not going to happen because they love the drug war and the money that comes into the departments from fighting it.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | | 4 Comments

Extremist Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Home Near Hebron

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | December 31, 2014

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_11114A Palestinian family from a village east of the town of Yatta, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, narrowly escaped death on Wednesday at dawn, when a number of fanatic Israeli settlers hurled Molotov cocktails into their home as they slept.

The head of the Yatta City Council Mousa Makhamra told the Maan News Agency that the attack is a very serious and dangerous escalation, adding that it is an attempt to annihilate a family of seven; five children and their parents.

Makhamra added that the fanatic settlers, from Karmiel illegal settlement, infiltrated into ad-Deerat village, east of Yatta, at approximately 3 am, and throw the Molotov cocktails into the Palestinian home after writing racist graffiti on its outer walls.

Makhamra further stated that the family woke up in time, and their neighbors rushed in when they saw the house on fire, and rescued the family.

The fires consumed the furniture in the living room, but was controlled before it spread.

The settlers wrote racist anti-Arab graffiti, including the infamous statement “Death To Arabs”, and other graffiti.

Image Shehab News

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Extremist Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Home Near Hebron

Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child walking to school in Tuqu

Ma’an – 31/12/2014

BETHLEHEM – A 10-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after an Israeli settler ran him over on the main road of the Palestinian village of Tuqu south east of Bethlehem early Wednesday.

Bethlehem region emergency services official Muhammad Awad told Ma’an that Amir Majed Ahmad Suleiman, 10, received a number of bruises after being hit by an Israeli settler’s car as he was heading to school in the town.

Awad said that the settler immediately fled the area despite the fact that Israeli forces were deployed on the main road of the village.

He added that Suleiman was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital in Bethlehem for treatment.

The incident comes only three days after an Israeli settler ran over an seven-year-old Palestinian boy from the village of Zif south of Hebron.

Recent months have seen a wave of hit-and-runs against Palestinians by Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, as well as reprisal car attacks in Jerusalem.

In October, a settler ran over two Palestinian children as they walked near near Ramallah, killing 5-year-old Einas Khalil.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Comments Off on Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child walking to school in Tuqu

PLO: Israel has detained 1266 Palestinian children in 2014

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Al-Akhbar | December 30, 2014

Israeli forces detained over 1,000 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem in 2014, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Tuesday.

Abdul-Nasser Farawna, head of Authority of Prisoners’ Affairs, a PLO body, said that Israel detained 1,266 Palestinian children, below the age of 15, in the West Bank and Jerusalem in 2014.

“The vast majority of the arrests happened in the second half of the year,” Farawna said in a statement, adding that at least 200 children are still detained in Israeli jails on various charges.

Israeli forces routinely conduct arrest campaigns targeting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem on claims they are “wanted” by Israeli authorities.

According to the PLO, more than 10,000 Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem have been held by the Israeli army for varying periods since 2000.

“The number of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces, especially in annexed East Jerusalem, has sharply risen,” Farawna declared, saying that the number of children detainees had increased by 87 percent over the past three years.

“The majority of the detained children were subjected to beatings and torture by Israeli security personnel while in detention,” he asserted.

Farawna’s statements echoed similar comments last month by another PLO official, Issa Qaraqe, who said that around 95 percent of children detainees were subjected to beatings and torture by Israeli security personnel while in detention, while many were forced to make confessions under duress and undergo unfair trials.

Violent practices by Israeli soldiers as well as settlers against Palestinian children is endemic and often abetted by the authorities.

“Israel does not provide any immunity for children and regularly violates international agreements on children’s rights by humiliating and torturing them and denying them fair trials,” Qaraqe explained.

A report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014 revealed that Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.

DCI said that minors held in solitary confinement spent an average of 10 days in isolation. The longest period of confinement documented in a single case was 29 days in 2012, and 28 days in 2013.

A report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

The report also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

The most excruciating violations are seen in the psycho-physical torture methods, including the act of forcing children to sit on the investigation chair chained hand and foot and covering their entire heads with foul-smelling bags, in addition to depriving them of sleep.

In 2013, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) reported that Israel was the only country in the world where children were “systematically tried” in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

The UNICEF report said in a 22-page report that over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, noting the rate was equivalent to “an average of two children each day.”

Palestinian children as young as five years old have also been detained in the past.

In 2013, Israeli forces in the West Bank detained four Palestinian children aged five to nine years.

Palestinian activist Murad Ashtiye told AFP at the time that “Israeli soldiers arrest the children and tie their hands behind their backs using plastic strips.”

Meanwhile in Gaza, a 51-day Israeli aggression last August left at least 505 children dead, 20 percent of the total civilian death toll.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said 138 of its students were killed during the assault. The organization’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught.

The worst massacre took place in the Abu Hussein School of the Jabaliya refugee camp in the north killing and injuring dozens even after the agency said that it gave the school’s coordinates to the Israelis more than 17 times so they won’t hit it.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on PLO: Israel has detained 1266 Palestinian children in 2014

Poll Confirms Massive Support for Ecuador’s Correa

teleSUR | December 30, 2014

A poll released Monday revealed that over 60 percent of Ecuadoreans approved of President Rafael Correa’s management of the country.

Correa’s support is “unprecedented” in Ecuador, said the president of the survey institute, Polibio Cordova in a press conference, as the Ecuadorean leader has maintained high levels of support since he was elected in 2007.

“This is an unprecedented case because the presidents used to start [their term] with a quite high level [of popularity] of around 68 percent, and within two or three years, they used to decrease by at least 30 percent, sometimes reaching a 30 or 32 percent of approval,” Cordova explained.

Only 32 percent disapprove of his administration, with eight percent not responding to the survey.

The poll was conducted between December 18-24 with a total of 2,168 participants in 15 cities of the country and an error margin of five percent.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Comments Off on Poll Confirms Massive Support for Ecuador’s Correa

Putin’s Approval Spikes as US Admits Attack on Russian Economy

teleSUR | December 30, 2014

According to a survey made by Gallup, Vladimir Putin’s popularity increased by 29 percent compared with 2013 data, when 54 percent of Russians surveyed approved his role as leader of the country.

Gallup attributed recent nationalism following Crimea’s incorporation into Russia and the Sochi Winter Olympic Games to explain the rise in Putin’s popularity to 83 percent, despite the economic trouble that his nation currently faces due to the drop in oil prices.

“Despite U.S. and European sanctions earlier this year over Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, more Russians see their economy getting better now than has been the case since 2008,” said Gallup.

This week, US President Barack Obama acknowledged a strategy to weaken Russia’s economy through sanctions as well as a drop in oil prices.

“For the first time since 2008, a majority of Russians (73%) believe their country’s leadership is leading them in the right direction. This renewed faith is apparent in their record-level confidence in the country’s military (78%), their national government (64%), and honesty of elections (39%),” states the survey.

Gallup also revealed that Russians also expressed increased satisfaction with their lifestyles.

In 2014, a record-high 65 percent of Russians said they were satisfied with their freedom.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics | | 3 Comments

After Ukraine: Are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary Veering Off The NATO/EU Reservation?

By Christine Stone | Ron Paul Institute | December 15, 2014

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Prague “red card” protest, November 2014

Despite the firmness shown by the EU’s biggest players when it comes to sanctioning Putin’s Russia, lower down the pecking order some member states are not happy. Unlike the most craven and obedient puppets — the Baltic States and Poland — it took some arm twisting to get the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to agree to punish Moscow for annexing Crimea. Each country is dependent for much of its energy on Russia with which there are also valued economic ties. Why rock the boat? Despite hyperbole claiming that Vladimir Putin was intent on taking them over and rebuilding the iron curtain, in reality, Russia has been an unproblematic neighbor for a quarter of a century.

Could these ripples of discontent with the famed Washington consensus develop into something more troubling for both the  US and Brussels? What can they do about it? All three countries are members of both NATO and the EU. Promoting regime change inside the Euro-Atlantic tent surely becomes more problematic. Or, does it? Let us examine each case separately and see what the auguries bode.

On 17th November 2014, it was drab and raining in Prague as the Czechs celebrated 25 years since the so-called “velvet revolution,” unlike the classic freezing, East European winter day of 17th November 1989. Demonstrations to mark the event were slated to take place and a mass of candles filled the passage way on Národní Třida (National Street) where student “Martin Šmid” died at the hands of the police, an event that was said to have triggered the collapse of the communist regime. But, hold on: it soon emerged that Martin Šmid didn’t exist; he had been invented by the Czechoslovak security services, the St. B. (Státní Bezpečnost) as part of a ploy to bring a new, reformed post-communist regime to power.

Emoting over a death that never took place seems weird but, in a way it sums up the banality that lays at the heart of all things connected with the “velvet” events. This was only reinforced later in the day when a group of anti-capitalist protesters snaked its way through the city centre wearing papier maché masks, some bearing the image of the evil Putin, others the reviled (at least, by the local cogniscenti) Czech president, Miloš Zeman. A few Ukrainian flags brought up the rear. Other banners denounced Ecuador’s left wing president, Rafael Correa, hardly a household name in Prague.[i] As the hundred or so protesters passed the Rudolfinum concert hall, a group of elderly rock musicians with lank, grey hair plugged away at some ancient protest songs watched by a handful of leather clad biker types.

Over the river, at Prague castle, a more serious group had been gathering during the afternoon: students bent on delivering a message to President Zeman that it was time to go. They did this by leaving a trail of red cards inside the presidential palace complex (the red card is used in football matches to send a player off the pitch). Several hundred protesters ended up under the ceremonial balcony demanding Zeman leave. Fluttering over the courtyard was the presidential flag denoting that Zeman was in residence. It is difficult to imagine such protests taking place in front of the White House or 10 Downing Street but, no one tried to remove the students who did not, to be fair, behave in a violent or intimidating manner. However, there had been scuffles earlier in the day at a “velvet revolution” ceremony attended by various European dignitaries, including Germany’s President Gauck. When students pelted Zeman (who was protected by an umbrella) with eggs one misdirected and managed to hit Gauck.

What, then, has caused the animus against Zeman? The president is a rather shambolic figure who, his detractors allege, besmirches his office by drinking heavily and speaking “off the cuff” (he even smokes and is regularly photographed with a lighted cigarette as if to highlight his malevolence).

As long time leader of the Czech Social Democrats and a former prime minister, Zeman earned the ire of the chattering classes by joining a coalition with former president Vaclav Klaus between 1998 and 2002. By then, Klaus had developed a healthy scepticism towards the EU and both men opposed US sponsored wars in Kosovo and later Iraq which led to their being anathematized by Brussels and Washington and, by extension, the local bien pensants, whose hero ex-dissident Vaclav Havel was the first Czech to advocate bombarding Belgrade since the Good Soldier Sweijk in 1914! When Klaus’s term ended in 2012, such people assumed that their candidate, Prince Kari Schwarzenberg, would be effortlessly elected to replace him. However, even though the Czech Republic is the repository of much Hapsburg charm in the form of castles and cultural artifacts, the electorate consists of a majority of post- communist bumpkins unlikely to feel represented by a Knight of the Golden Fleece. 54.8 percent voted for Zeman while 45.2 percent (mainly in Prague) chose Schwarzenberg.

As the role is mainly ceremonial, the president could have been ignored but Zeman has chosen to speak out on numerous occasions and in ways to infuriate his imperial masters. He has regularly demanded normal relations with Putin’s Russia, called the Ukrainian crisis a “civil war” and then, in a radio interview categorised Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a criminal while reminding listeners of the double entendre involved in the moniker “Pussy Riot.” Despite their usual boasts of über-liberal sexual mores, the intellectual elite of Prague expressed outrage at this outburst of vulgarity. “They don’t like him because he’s naughty,” a young reporter from Czech Television said of the student protesters. “How can we have a president like that,” they moan. “He must go”.

Added to their woes has been the seemingly inexorable rise of a new political party, Ano 11[ii], which came a close second in the 2013 parliamentary election and is now in coalition with the Social Democrats. Many people take it for granted that Ano’s founder, the billionaire Andrej Babiš, now the country’s minister of finance, will end up as prime minister; the party did well in autumn, 2014 local elections. What, then, is wrong with Ano 11?

According to the Czech media (and the Euro-American oriented elite) Babiš is a Berlusconi clone, boss of one of the Czech Republic’s largest conglomerates, Agrofert, who, like Berlusconi, is also buying up media outlets. Ano is composed of old secret policemen and headed by Informer-in-Chief, Babiš.[iii] A Slovak by origin, Babiš took the allegations to court and was cleared, but the rumours have persisted as has the intention to appeal. However, it seems clear that, apart from the twitterings of the Prague elite, ordinary Czechs are not particularly concerned by such allegations nearly 30 years after the Communists fell from power. Anyway, many of the alleged Ano nest of spies and informers were too young at the time of their “service” to have been very important cogs in the machine. All this is a smoke screen. Babiš has trodden on various entrenched local interests. He has also supported the extension of nuclear power in the Czech Republic which has angered the EU’s generously subsidised renewables lobby which probably sees the troubles with Russian gas as a golden opportunity to cash in.

Are things any better, more reliable from the Euro-Atlantic perspective, in neighbouring Slovakia? The answer is: not entirely. Slovakia has thrown up politicians frowned upon by the West since its independence was secured by Vladimir Mečiar in 1993. Milan Knažko, an old “sixty eighter” and sometime dissident feared that all the elderly would have to die off before Mečiar finally exited the stage. “Slovaks are stupid,” he said. But, it took twenty years to eliminate Mečiar as a political force only for him to be replaced by another “populist,” Robert Fico, whose leftish Smer (Direction) party won an overall victory in the last Slovak election in 2012. Fico has criticised the EU’s sanctions on Russia and seems to have been forced against his will to implement them, as well as allowing the reverse flow of gas to Ukraine from Slovakia’s own reserves. Of course, his hands are tied as Slovakia is a member of the EU and the single currency. Nevertheless, the empire demands 100 percent obedience, nothing less. Fico stood as a candidate in the March 2014 presidential elections but was surprisingly beaten by a maverick outsider, businessman Andrej Kiska, who made what is described as his “fortune” in hire purchase. Unlike Babiš, his business back ground is regarded as a plus rather than an exercise in predatory capitalism. He is popular with the elites both at home and in Brussels (unlike Fico) and will be an ideal advocate for pushing Slovakia in the “right” direction, for example, by recognising Kosovan independence, something it has refused so far to do to avoid trouble with its restless Hungarian minority.

But, nothing said or done by politicians in Prague and Bratislava equal the level of disobedience that has been coming from further down the Danube in Hungary. There, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has adopted an openly defiant position on a range of issues that have infuriated the EU. But even more dangerously for his long term survival, he has fallen into the cross hairs of Washington. Since summer 2014, demonstrations regularly take place on some pretext or other against the Orban government and long-term regime change watchers can only debate how the situation will finally be resolved. Supporters are confident Orban will survive as he is “popular,” but that never stopped the engine of regime change. Viktor Yanukovich’s party handily won elections in 2012 but he was deposed a year later; the hugely popular Hugo Chavez and Muammar Gaddafi both ended up dead.

Viktor Orban has come a long way from the days of his Soros scholarship at Pembroke College, Oxford. His party, Fidesz, was a classic middle of the road liberal outfit – a proud member of the Liberal International where it now sits somewhat uneasily. However, Hungarians have always been more nationalistic than many Europeans as manifested in their almost unique language; their sense of national identity and solidarity goes back a long time. When Fidesz  won an overwhelming majority in the 2010 parliamentary elections, Viktor Orban, now prime minister, started to put Hungary first. In the wake of the 2008 financial collapse he threw out the IMF and cancelled Hungary’s debt repayments in foreign currency thus lowering the pain for ordinary Hungarians. In 2011, he expelled Monsanto – Hungary has banned the use of GM crops – lowered fuel prices and, in the same year, changed the voting system to a mixed majority and proportional system modeled on Germany. A new constitution has reduced the number of MPs by half. Something must have gone right because in spring 2014’s parliamentary election, Fidesz again won an overall majority. All this took place against the back drop of a broken political order with most Hungarian parties, particularly on the left, scarred by corruption and failure. The ultra-right Jobbik remained as the only functioning opposition party, something unappealing to most right thinking people, including in Hungary.

Accusations of Orban’s “authoritarianism” have gone on for some time, bolstered by a growing number of NGOs in Budapest (mainly foreign funded and backed) as well as tame academics like Princeton’s Kim Lane Scheppele who has tied herself in knots trying to show that Fidesz’s successive victories at the polls (in 2014 alone the party overwhelmingly won parliamentary, local and European elections) were really failures! Perhaps this might just rumble along, going nowhere while – as in Prague – providing low level political gossip for the chattering classes in Budapest to feed on, were it not for Orban’s rather bold foreign policy moves in the past year.

In January 2014 he announced that a deal had been reached with Russia to fund the expansion of Hungary’s Paks nuclear facility. As the Ukrainian events unfolded and energy security came under the spotlight, this could have been viewed as strategic foresight. Not so; the Americans were now very angry. On top of this, when sanctions came up for discussion after the Crimean annexation, Orban baulked at implementing them: “Why should Hungary ‘shoot itself in the foot,’” he said. Like Fico, he dragged his heels over providing Ukraine with reverse flow gas from Hungary’s reserves. As the hate campaign against Putin entered the stratosphere, Viktor remained committed to participating in the South Stream gas project which only came undone when Bulgaria, the weakest link in the chain, pulled out followed by Russia itself redirecting the pipeline to Turkey. According to observers on the ground in Budapest, Orban was now being “warned” by the Cosa Nostra in Washington that he was going “too far.”

At this time, Hungary was without a  US ambassador. Colleen Bell, a producer of TV soap operas, was stuck in the congressional vetting process, so finger wagging was left to the Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, André Goodfriend. Goodfriend has an impressive CV for such a lowly diplomat and his excursions into Hungarian political life, including the now formulaic support for LGBT events, have been high profile culminating in the announcement that six members of the Hungarian government were to be sanctioned and prevented from visiting the US. No names were mentioned but rumors abounded as to the whys and wherefores of the decision.

What to do? With a hopelessly divided and weak opposition given the implosion of the Hungarian Socialists who backed EU-demanded austerity all the way, and with the paramilitary, ultra-nationalist Jobbik as the only substantial alternative to Orban’s party, all that remains is to split Fidesz in the hope of producing something more compliant. On 23rd October, 2014, as if on cue, the BBC’s long time Budapest correspondent, Nick Thorpe, reported that “cracks” were appearing in the ruling party although he failed to put any substance behind the allegation, or name names.[iv] Otherwise, there are the NGOs of which there are numerous as well as blogs and online publications which trash Orban and the Fidesz government. In September 2014, the authorities in Budapest cracked down on the Ökotárs Foundation, which disbursed grants to local NGOs from Norway. In a way, this was quite a clever ruse as it followed an expose in the New York Times detailing Norway’s many involvements in influence peddling via NGO in Washington.[v]

Do these expressions of dissent in Prague, Bratislava and Budapest mean that the Euro-Atlanticist order that has ruled the post-communist world so comprehensively since the early 1990s is under threat? Not quite: in the end, even Orban caved in to Brussels’ demand for sanctions against Russia. He still maintains that Hungary is a loyal EU and NATO member. Ditto, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But, there does seem to be a change in the air. After years filled with allegations of corruption, most political parties in Central Europe are morally bankrupt and derided by local populations. Massaging election results is becoming more difficult when parties acceptable to Brussels and Washington can barely make single percentage points. In the Czech Republic, Ano 11 is heading in the same direction as Fidesz with the prospect of getting overall control of parliament in the next parliamentary elections. Another headache for Washington looms if that happens.

These unexpected shifts away from former subservience in the Central European heartland of Euro-conformity may explain why many of the old anti-communists from the era of perestroika and glasnost are being brought out and dusted down. On 11th December, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) “the only US think-tank dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe” announced it was beefing up its membership with many formidable regime change figures including Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Anne Applebaum, Carl Bildt,Eliot A. Cohen,and Timothy Garton Ash.[vi] It is hard to see these old regime change advocates changing much without resources to put into play, but remember the successful application of their policies after 1989 resulted in socio-economic collapse and mass emigration from Poland and Baltic States where they were most influential. Does Central Europe want to repeat that implosion by following these horsemen of the apocalypse? It is unlikely that Central Europeans other than the sponsored demonstrators be asked.

Notes:
[i] The US embassy was listed at the top of the backers of the protest in a leaflet handed out  as the procession marched by. This so-called “Prague Maidan” was an obvious imitation of the protests in Kiev’s main square a year ago which toppled the Ukrainian president.

[ii] Ano is short for the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (Akce nespokojených občanů). “Ano” also  means “yes” in Czech. The party was founded in 2011.

[iii] Fidesz has also been accused of co-opting  Hungary’s former secret policemen

[iv] Nick Thorpe “Hungary’s Fidesz: Cracks emerge in ruling party” BBC 23rd October, 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29740030

[v] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-powers-buy-influence-at-think-tanks.html?_r=0

[vi] See, the CEPA press release:  http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1111079/ea59c56522/ARCHIVE

Christine Stone is co-author of Post-Communist Georgia: A Short History.

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US plans to deploy armored brigade to Europe ‘pre-date’ Ukraine hostilities

By Robert Bridge | RT | December 31, 2014

By the end of next year, Washington plans to station about 150 tanks and armored vehicles in Europe, according to a US military commander, who said the decision was made before the Ukrainian crisis strained Russia-US relations.

Although no official announcement has been made as to where the armored tanks and vehicles will be stationed, possible locations include Poland, Romania or the Baltic States, Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, commander of the US Army in Europe, told Reuters.

Hodges confirmed that around 150 pieces of assorted US military armor would be permanently stationed in Europe.

“By the end of … 2015, we will have gotten all the equipment for a heavy brigade, that means three battalions plus a reconnaissance squadron, the artillery headquarters, engineers, and it will stay in Europe,” Hodges said.

“You are talking about 150-ish, maybe 160 M1 tanks, M2 Bradley fighting vehicles, 24 self-propelled Howitzers.”

Hodges, who said he believes renewed hostilities will occur between pro-Kiev and rebel forces in the east of the country, said plans to send an armored brigade to Europe was first proposed two years ago, before the Ukrainian crisis erupted in January 2014.

Russia has firmly rejected Western accusations that it has sponsored military activities in Ukraine.

The move on the part of Washington will certainly provoke a reaction from Moscow, which has just agreed on a new military doctrine that lists the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty, which has been steadily encroaching on Russia’s borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the United States, which has undertaken a series of military offensives deemed unconstitutional even by its own people, as “major foreign threats.”

The doctrine lists among major foreign military threats “the creation and deployment of global strategic anti-ballistic missile systems that undermines the established global stability and balance of power in nuclear missile capabilities, the implementation of the ‘prompt strike’ concept, intent to deploy weapons in space and deployment of strategic conventional precision weapons.”

Hodges said he expected the deployment of US armored vehicles to Europe to continue throughout 2015 and into 2016.

At least one-third of the armored vehicles will be stationed at US military bases in Germany, the US commander said.

The United States, despite recent breakdowns in its relations with its European allies – including a spy scandal that revealed the National Security Agency was tapping the personal mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as other high-ranking EU officials – continues to field some 30,000 Army troops on European soil, and about the same number of Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel, Hodges said.

The US commander said he hoped the number of US soldiers and military bases based in Europe – despite budgetary pressures from home – would stay at their current levels.

READ MORE: There to stay: US troops keep Poland, Baltic deployment for 2015

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chronicle of impunity for unprovoked shooting by ‘security’ forces

Yesh Din | December 29, 2014

Protest Against the Wall, Bil\'in, West Bank, 1.11.2013Someone shot a bullet at Ashraf Muhammad Jamal Tufiq’s foot in Bil’in in 2009. The IDF’s investigatory bodies did their best to make sure they will never find the shooter.

On Friday, January 16 2009, someone – a member of the Israeli security forces – fired a bullet into the foot of Ashraf Muhammad Jamal Tufiq from the West Bank village Bil’in. According to Tufiq, the shooting occurred without any provocation and came after the weekly demonstration ended. As a result of his injury, Tufiq had to undergo an operation and had to give up on being a professional a soccer player. On November 4, 2013, the Operational Affairs Prosecution closed the case, reaching the conclusion that it contains no evidence whatsoever.

Hold on, you say, you’ve made an error. You’re saying the shooting took place on January 2009, but the case closed in November 2013. That’s more than four years between one event and another. You must have made a mistake.

No mistake. This is the heart of the issue. I’ll present the chronology of events based on the work of Adv. Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man. But before we start, we should note that Tufiq’s testimony is not bereft of problems, and that at certain points he even contradicts himself. The fact, however, is that he was shot and became a cripple. A quick investigation might have found out what actually took place. But, as we can see from the flow of events below, that did not exactly happen.

January 16, 2009 – A Friday demonstration in Bil’in, and it’s more violent than usual. The soldier in question will later remember the events because, unusually, another soldier was wounded. After the demonstration, a member of the security forces shoots Tufiq. He is taken to a hospital and, with our aid, submits a notice (the equivalent of a complaint to the police) to the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID).

May 24, 2009 – More than four months after the incident, the Jerusalem branch of the MPCID confirm they have received the notice.

July 7, 2009 – The Operational Affairs’ prosecution informs us that it is dealing with the case.

August 4, 2009 – The Operational Affairs’ prosecution informs us that it has frozen the investigation in order to “clarify the issue with military officials.” This, in effect, means the investigation is delayed while the case is referred to an operation debriefing.

February 14, 2010 – Thirteen months after the incident: the Operational Affairs’ prosecution says the case is under consideration.

October 14, 2010 – Twenty-one months after the incident: the Operational Affairs’ prosecution says the case is under consideration.

April 14, 2011 – Two years and three months (!) after the incident: the Operational Affairs’ prosecution says the case is under consideration.

November 29, 2011 – Two years and 10 months after the incident: reports that Atlantis has risen from the sea, fish are climbing trees, cats and dogs have foresworn their ancient enmity, and MPCID has re-opened its investigation.

Which is nice, but there are two main problems with opening an investigation so late in the game:

1. The chances of finding evidence is nil. There is no crime scene to speak of, particularly since the incident took place before the IDF has deigned to obey the ruling of the High Court of Justice and moved the separation fence in Bil’in. Also, human memory blurs rapidly.

2. Even if there was evidence, once a soldier has been discharged from the army for six months (or a year, in extreme cases) he or she is no longer under the jurisdiction of military law. Given that mandatory military service in the IDF lasts for three years for men, even if the MPCID had found the culprit on the day in which it began its investigation (which, naturally, did not happen) chances are that they would not have been able to bring him to trial. Only the Attorney General can decide to do so – which hardly ever happens in practice.

And after this methodical break, back to our chronicle:

December 8, 2011 – MPCID Jerusalem contacts us and wants to set up an interview with the victim. After a series of delays – including one case in which Tufiq comes to a meeting set up by MPCID and finds no one who can take his statement – MPCID finally takes a statement from him on December 30, 2012, i.e. two months after the resurrection of the investigation.

February 9, 2012 – The MPCID interviews the operations officer of the battalion involved in the incident. He says he doesn’t remember anything, which sounds perfectly plausible. After all, this was a negligent incident from a military point of view, not to mention the fact that more than three years have passed since it happened.

February 20, 2012 – The MPCID receives the translation of the medical reports regarding Tufiq’s wound, which the Operational Affairs’ prosecution could easily have obtained some three years earlier. But let’s not be petty.

March 11, 2012 – Three weeks later, the MPCID interviews the operations officer once again. He says he doesn’t even remember which forces were involved in the incident. Since, well, three years have passed, and it wasn’t exactly the Battle of the Bulge.

8.3.12 – The MPCID interviews the battalion commander. He claims there was no shooting during the incident, much less live shooting. He adds that it is inconceivable his patrol troops would lie on this issue.

March 11, 2012 – The MPCID interviews the battalion commander again, who says that given the time that has gone by, his outfit no longer has any documents relating to the incident.

March 13, 2012 – The MPCID tries, without success, to gain access to the operational logs. Given the passage of time, they were not kept.

July 25, 2012 – More than four months after the last investigative action took place, the MPCID interviews another officer – this time a major. He does not think there was live fire.

July 31, 2012 – The MPCID investigators interview another officer, a Lt. Colonel. He does not even remember over whom he presided at the time. After all, this was more than three years since the incident.

August 1, 2012 – After a delay of three years and seven months, the MPCID decides to interrogate the platoon commander under legal warning. He remembers the soldier who was wounded, thinks there may have been a Ruger bullet fired but is not certain and remembers that there was a report about a wounded Palestinian when he got back to base. The officers interviewed earlier did not remember this detail. One should note that his testimony, where he says a live bullet may have been fired, contradicts the testimony of his battalion commander. And since he was closer to the incident, we should give more weight to his testimony.

October 28, 2012 – Nearly three months after the latest investigation, the MPCID interrogates the wounded soldier. He us convinced there was no live fire, not by him at any rate. He claims that he kept asking for permission to use live fire. His request was denied and he used rubber bullets instead.

November 11, 2012 – The MPCID interrogates another soldier in the section under warning. The soldier also remembers that they fired rubber bullets – not live ones.

November 16, 2012 – The MPCID interrogates the sergeant major of the force under warning. He denies any sort of shooting, saying the forces used only tear gas grenades. This testimony is contradicted by all the other testimonies.

December 18, 2012 – The MPCID interrogates yet another soldier, who says they fired rubber bullets and believes there was no live fire.

December 18, 2012 – The MPCID interviews a medical officer, a Lt. Colonel, who says there is no point in interviewing Border Policemen, since their outfit carries out such actions on a weekly basis, and thus they won’t remember a thing. He seems to be right; there is no evidence of MPCID trying to interview Border Policemen.

November 4, 2013 – We’ve come to the end of this comedy of errors: nearly a year after the last investigation, and four years and 10 months after Tufiq was shot, the Operational Affairs’ prosecution closes case, citing lack of evidence.

So what had we here? A failure from beginning to end. The investigation began almost three years after the incident, and from the start it was doubtful whether it ever stood a chance. Too much time had passed.

But there is an even more important point to make here. Almost all the witnesses contradict each other. The battalion commander says only rubber bullets were fired – but the platoon commander thinks there may have been a Ruger bullet fired. The sergeant major thinks only gas was used, while all other witnesses report the use of rubber bullets. The medical documents speak clearly of a live bullet. Did someone pull the Beitunia trick by firing a live bullet and masquerading as if it were a rubber bullet? We’ll never know.

The IDF keeps telling us it needs to hold an operational debriefing – that it needs its soldiers to tell the truth during the debriefing. Therefore, it claims, the debriefing must not be turned over to MPCID as evidence. But note what happened: after almost three years wasted by the Operational Affairs’ prosecution, nobody has a clue as to what happened. The officers cannot even remember their order of battle. No one is sure about what kind of ammunition was actually used. There is a vague Border Police force in the area of operations, but no one knows what it did. The operational logs no longer exist.

If this the situation, what is the purpose of the operational debriefing? Ostensibly it is supposed to provide the forces with insight into the events so they can improve their tactics. But if no one remembers what was said in it, what is it really good for? And why can’t the MPCID investigation run parallel to it, rather than months afterward?

The Turkel Commission, which dealt with the behavior of the military investigative bodies, recommended that an investigation ought to be swift. Two years before Turkel’s recommendations, the JAG decided to hold MPCID investigations (after an appeal by B’Tselem and ICRI) – in cases of death only – in parallel to the operational debriefing. We have some indications that MPCID is beginning to internalize and implement the Turkel Commission recommendations, with an emphasis on speedier investigations. But in the meantime, the investigation of the shooting of Ashraf Muhammad Jamal Tufiq stands as Exhibit A that the IDF doesn’t know how and perhaps doesn’t want to investigate itself.

Photo: Israeli border police officers shooting tear gas canisters during the weekly protest against the Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in, November 1, 2013

Photo by Activestills

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Forces Train with Live Ammo in West Bank Civilian Areas

soldiers5pnn.jpg

IMEMC News & Agencies | December 30, 2014

Israeli occupation forces, since the early hours on Monday, have been holding military training sessions with live ammunition, in the Khirbet Taweel area, South Nablus.

Member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee of Aqraba, Yousef Deriyyah, said that Israeli occupation forces, Sunday evening, bulldozed and damaged several dunams of wheat fields in preparation for the training.

The PNN further reports that military training has often targeted Palestinians, including children, causing injuries and home evictions.

Back in August, Israeli authorities evicted 1,300 Palestinians from their homes in the south Hebron hills, of the occupied West Bank, claiming that they are located in a military training zone.

In October, Israeli forces stormed Aida refugee camp without any provocation and began firing tear gas canisters, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at children in the streets.

Eyewitness said that soldiers were training by using families, children and homes as military practice.

Also in October, Israeli authorities distributed eviction notices to 19 Palestinian families in the Northern Jordan Valley area, in order to use the area for military purposes.

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli Forces Train with Live Ammo in West Bank Civilian Areas