Ever heard of a roundabout-dog? They are artificial dogs which started appearing in roundabouts in Sweden last year. Most likely meant as a joke, a Swedish cartoonist figured this phenomenon could be used in a funny way to provoke Muslims anger. The Swedish artist Lars Vilks made three silly drawings portraying a dog standing in a roundabout, with Prophet Muhammad’s head. The political implications aside, the quality of his work is-to say the least-far below even mediocre. Three art galleries decided not to exhibit these drawings, which is perfectly understandable. Nor do they have any obligation to do so, especially when the art is of poor quality and only meant to insult. Vilks has openly admitted this:
“Of course it was a provocation and an insult to the Muslims. But it was an empty provocation. I am not promoting any idea such as kicking all the Muslims out of Sweden.” Getting attention was also a part of it: “All artists gun for attention, and there is jealousy among those in the business of attracting much attention,” he asserted.
It could have ended there. An obnoxious, obscure artist making silly drawings of Prophet Muhammad–who cares? But this was just the beginning. A Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, published Vilks’s drawings this August, describing the art galleries’ decision not to exhibit the drawings as “unacceptable self-censorship,” saying it must be permissible to ridicule the symbols of another religion. A staff writer at the paper compared it to Monty Python’s film Life of Brian:
In Norway, Life of Brian was banned, in reference to the law against blasphemy. In the United States voices were raised to have it banned. John Cleese pointed out that God could certainly take care of himself. I am myself an active Christian and I think Life of Brian is an extremely funny movie.
Fine. But what he fails to see is that Life of Brian was made by people of Christian origin, while this is an attack by a Christian on Islam. Also, while Life of Brian was a comedy, these drawings had no other purpose than to insult and provoke. Not exactly comparable.
And it didn’t take long before Muslims raised voices to protest the publication. Not only in Sweden; 200 people went to the streets in Pakistan, burning a doll representing the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and the Swedish flag (which is yellow and blue, not yellow and green as the demonstrations thought). Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the “Zionists,” who (unlike Jews) “only pretend to believe in religion,” were behind the publication. Protestors also hit Swedish streets, though peacefully.
Instead of discussing the issues as to why many Muslims became upset-always seeing Islam slandered, exposed to threats, and having their Mosques vandalised-the affair was made into a matter of freedom of speech. Journalists, commentators, politicians and others all defended the publication in the name of freedom of speech. Truth is, it was never under threat; only a very low number among the opponents of publishing the drawings said this should be criminalised.
One of them, the Egyptian Ambassador Samah Mohamed Sotouhi, declared that “We must try to bring about a change in the law. The Muslims need legal protection against the defamation of the Prophet Muhammad, similar to [the protection] that Jews and homosexuals enjoy.” But except for some efforts made by Muslim countries, no politician or journalist spoke out in favour of the state outlawing such a practise, including the vast majority of those objecting to the publication. (It is interesting to notice that the very same people, who care so much for freedom of speech when defamation of Muslims is the case, had nothing to say when a Swedish computer teacher, Jan Bernhoff, was sacked from his job for attending the holocaust conference in Iran. Bernhoff, not Vilks, was the one who needed their support.)
The publication brought the affair to a whole new level. Two Swedish-Muslim organisations made an effort to cool things down by trying to engage in a dialogue with Vilks (after all, they are the ones who will suffer in the end). One of the two organisations even wanted to exhibit the drawings in order to be able to have a real debate on the issue. But the project came to an end when Vilks, having so far been criticised only for defaming Muslim symbols, posted another silly drawing on his blog, this time a pathetic portrait of a so-called Jew-sow. Faced with Vilks’s newest creation, representatives of the two Muslim organisations, Mohamed Omar and Hooman Anvari, decided a dialogue with Lars Vilks was simply no longer possible. They wrote:
[With] Vilks now publishing an explicitly and undoubtedly anti-Semitic scurrilous portrait (signed as a “Jew-sow” by the artist himself), the discussion has now entered a different phase. From a purely ethical one to one of jurisprudence.
In other words, they cut it short not because of his anti-Muslim work but because of his anti-Semitic drawing. It may seem odd, but reflects the current sentiment in the Western world: insulting Muslims is a matter of freedom of speech, while defamation of Jewish symbols is never tolerated.
As the days went by and everything was petering out, a death-threat was pronounced against Lars Vilks which quickly made things more tense. Things like these happen all the time, many artists receive threats. The difference was the sender; a supposed al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, generously promised $100,000 to whoever kills Lars Vilks ($150,000 if he is “butchered as a lamb”). The editor of the newspaper wasn’t worth as much–only $50,000. However, all we know for sure about al-Baghdadi is that there are different perceptions of who he is. Some sources claim he was a leading al-Qaeda fighter killed in May this year-three months before the publication!-while others say it’s just a name used by a rebel group in Iraq. Hence, should anyone kill Vilks or the editor, it might be hard to claim the reward. But the death-threat again Vilks was taken seriously and he was given police-protection.
A few days after the pronounced death-threats, a list of over 100 Swedish companies was published which Islamists say should be punished just for being of the same nationality as Vilks. “Take revenge,” these fanatics urged. However, when journalists rang some of these companies for a comment, they were surprised. “We have received no indications of any threat,” a spokesperson of one of the companies said. In fact, it turns out, these companies haven’t received any direct threats. The list of companies, as well as the death-threats against Vilks and the editor, all originate from one source: The Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Institute. Founded in 2002 by Rita Katz and Josh Devon, SITE is a Zionist propaganda institute which, among other things, offers its “Monitoring Service, which provides numerous daily translations of terrorist propaganda and multimedia from primary source terrorist websites.” Katz and Devon claims for instance that Yahoo! has become one of al-Qaeda’s most significant ideological bases of operation. Utilizing several facets of Yahoo!’s service, including chat functions, e-mail, and most importantly, Yahoo! Groups, al-Qaeda and its supporters have inserted themselves like a cancer into a company that screams, “American pop culture,” and made it as much their own as a training camp in Khost [in Afghanistan].
When Osama Bin Laden and his gang are not using Yahoo!’s chat service, however, they spend their time surfing more protected sites. SITE brags on its first-page as being described in the following way by an author:
“By monitoring terrorist and extremist websites and penetrating password-protected al-Qaeda linked sites, SITE provides a state-of-the-art intelligence service to both practitioners and analysts to understand the adversary.”
It makes you wonder how the SITE Institute, with a small staff of only two people (at least no other is mentioned) can find its way into “password-protected al-Qaeda linked sites” which, apparently, the FBI and the CIA, with all its resources, seem to be incapable of finding and infiltrating. What is even more noteworthy is that SITE, in its own words, works regularly with and provides important and often unique information to journalists, law firms pursuing civil litigation, major corporations, law enforcement, U.S. Congress, and numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), the FBI, Customs, and the Department of Justice.
As can be expected of an institute of this kind, there is a Zionist connection. And that is co-founder Rita Katz, who was born to a wealth Jewish family in 1963 in Basra, Iraq. When she was 6-years-old her father was hanged on the charge of spying for Israel. Two years later the family emigrated to Israel, where she stayed until the mid-90s, when she left for the US with her husband. In an interview with The Jewish Journal it is revealed Katz also worked on the case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which is on trial accused of channelling money to Hamas.
Katz answered an ad and was hired by a Middle Eastern research institute. (Because of her lawsuit, she doesn’t want to reveal the institute’s name.)
On her first day on the job – much of her work entailed “administrative stuff and copying,” her new boss had told her – she started reading documents in English and Arabic about the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
“I saw differences in the translations,” Katz recalled. “The Arabic list was longer, and I recognized that some organizations mentioned in Arabic and not in English were Hamas front organizations.”
That realization propelled her to start doing research on that group, collecting Arabic documents and eventually going undercover.
Her work, through her SITE Institute, which is funded by various federal agencies and private groups needing to know about radical Muslim groups operating in the United States, has led to closures of organizations, deportations and ongoing investigations. She also has provided the media with information.
This is very interesting, considering the evidence used against the HLF is highly questioned. In an article published in the LA Times on the 25th of February, reproduced by Information Clearing House, staff writer Greg Krikorian points to discrepancies in the proof put forward against the HLF. Krikorian wrote:
Additional anti-Semitic comments the FBI summary attributed to Baker or Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former board chairman, included:
* “Their [Jews’] only purpose here in the U.S. is to purchase as many politicians as possible and to warp the way the American Christians feel and think not just about the Christian religion but mainly about the Palestinian people and to rob as much money as possible from American taxpayers for the illegitimate excuse of protecting and preserving the chosen people of God.”
* “Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their high priests the sons of snakes and scorpions.”
* “I am confident that in the end justice, and not the Jews, will prevail. I believe that there is still justice in America.”
None of those quotes was contained in a 13-page transcript of the conversation, defense lawyers said in their motion to expand access to classified evidence. ()
Because the court records are heavily redacted, it could not be determined who provided the summaries of the FBI wiretaps.
Other alleged discrepancies also have dogged the case. Holy Land lawyers challenged the accuracy of an FBI memo, for example, that quoted a foundation office manager as telling Israeli authorities that charitable funds were “channeled to Hamas.”
But defense lawyers told the court the translation from Arabic to Hebrew to English distorted the official’s original statement, and that he should have been quoted as saying, “We have no connection to Hamas.”
A former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, Edward Abingdon, when asked if he found the information Israel provided reliable, answered with a straightforward “No.” He added, “I feel the Israelis have an agenda … they provide selective information to try to influence US thinking.”
Indeed, the trial against the HLF is just one example of how Israelis are the ones persecuting Muslim organisations in America. As made clear in the above-quoted sentence, the translation was made “from Arabic to Hebrew to English.” The Zionists have the upper hand, and going to the bottom with cases like this is close to impossible. They provide the evidence, and not much can be done to prove them wrong. The veracity in the accusations made by propaganda institutes of SITE’s ilk should be strongly questioned. As for the threats against the Swedish cartoonist, editor and the 100 Swedish companies, all we can know for sure is that no attack has yet taken place.
Two months after the publication, the matter has gotten cold. But it is clear that for the first time, through a Zionist institution in America, supposed death-threats by al-Qaeda found their way to a country once known for its peaceful attitude and solidarity with the oppressed, creating fear of Muslim fundamentalism which is now said to live in our midst. Clear also is that sending soldiers to Afghanistan and being silent as neoconservatives and Zionists are creating havoc in the Middle East is not the road to saving our good reputation.
KRISTOFFER LARSSON is a Swedish theology student occasionally commenting on political issues. He works with the Bethlehem-based International Middle East Media Center and is a Director of Deir Yassin Remembered. He appreciates constructive feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hillary Clinton’s problems aren’t going away, according to House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz, who has vowed to continue the investigation into her use of a private email server.
The Republican congressman told CNN: “Just because there was a political election doesn’t mean it goes away.”
Chaffetz described Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state as “the largest breach of security in the history of the State Department.”
“It cannot, and should not be repeated ever again,” said Chaffetz, whose committee possesses subpoena power. After reopening the investigation weeks before the presidential election in November, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that they had failed to unearth any new information that would warrant bringing charges against Clinton.
President-elect Donald Trump continuously attacked Clinton over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, claiming he would prosecute her if elected. Following his election success, the president-elect changed his attitude toward Clinton, claiming she had already “suffered greatly.”
Chaffetz said his committee would be open to investigating issues arising from Trump’s administration too, claiming his job “is not to be a cheerleader for the president.”
When questioned about possible conflicts of interest arising from Trump’s businesses, Chaffetz admitted that the laws regarding conflicts and the president “should be tightened up,” but declined to comment on specific cases.
Along with the Clinton investigation, the committee will continue other outstanding investigations, including the ATF gunwalking scandal where guns were allowed to be sold to straw buyers to track them.
An investigation into Mylan, the manufacturers of EpiPen whose price increased dramatically will also continue, according to Chaffetz, who said the company “fed us a bunch of bull.”
Weaponized hacking all began with Stuxnet
Is the United States the victim of an unprovoked cyber and media attack by Russia and China or are the chickens coming home to roost after Washington’s own promotion of such activity worldwide? On Thursday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that while no foreign government had been able to interfere with actual voting machines, “U.S. agencies are more confident than ever that Russia interfered in America’s recent presidential election. And he called the former Cold War foe an ‘existential threat’ to the nation.” Pressed by Senator John McCain whether the “attack” constituted an “act of war,” Clapper demurred, saying that it would be a “very heavy policy call” to say so. He also said that he could not judge if the election outcome had been changed due to the claimed outside interference.
Clapper also claimed that the Russian effort included including the creation and dissemination of fake stories, explaining that “While there has been a lot of focus on the hacking, this is actually part of a multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted.” Clapper singled out Russian state funded TV channel RT, previously called Russia Today. “Of course RT… was very, very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system.” [Full disclosure: I have been on RT numerous times.]
Apart from the nonsense about foreign broadcasters being part of a conspiracy to “disparage our system” and destroy our democracy, I confess that I was willing to be convinced by what seemed to be the near-unanimous intelligence and law enforcement agency verdict but, any such expectations disappeared when the 17 page report on the hack was actually released on Friday. Entitled Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, the report is an exercise in speculation minus evidence indicting alleged Russian interference in the recent election. It even came with a significant caveat, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”
So I am still waiting to see the actual evidence for the Russian direct involvement and have to suspect that there is little to show, or possibly even nothing. Saying that Russian government agents were employed in passing the stolen emails from the DNC server to WikiLeaks raises more questions than it answers, particularly as it is now clear from media leaks that the parties involved were using what is referred to as cut-outs to break the chain of custody of the material being passed. Does the intelligence community actually know exactly who passed what to whom and when or is it engaged in reconstructing what it thinks happened? Does it really believe that intercepted unencrypted phone calls among Russian officials expressing pleasure over the election result equate to an actual a priori conspiracy to determine the outcome? And based on what evidence do they know that conspiracy was “ordered” by President Vladimir Putin as is now being alleged? Or are they only assuming that it must have been him because he is head of state?
And what about the possibility that activity of Russian intelligence agencies to penetrate computers in the United States was little more than routine information collection, which Clapper conceded is normal activity for Washington as well? And above all, where is a truth and consequences analysis of America’s global role as a contributor to the tit-for-tat, obscured by a prevailing mainstream media narrative that prefers to see everything in terms of good guys versus bad guys?
One can reasonably argue that Washington started the practice of cyber-warfare and has been a long-time practitioner of both regime change and election tampering in its relationship with much of the world. The Snowden papers indicate that NSA hacking of targets in China has been going on for many years as has routine interception of cell phones of allied European and other world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UN Secretary General. The NSA has deliberately sought to have the capability to penetrate nearly every electronic communications network in the world, frequently in real time, and has come close to achieving that ability under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The information obtained in the huge dumps of intelligence obtained by NSA is, at least in theory, used to confront possible threats to the United States and to obtain competitive advantage over both adversaries and competitors. But the intrusion into systems has also been weaponized, witness for example the creation of the Stuxnet worm in collaboration with the Israelis. Stuxnet was intended to disable key elements in Iranian nuclear research but it also went beyond that, creating dysfunction in other economic and industrial systems unrelated to its laboratories. The assault on Iran was more of an act of war than the hack of the DNC computers. And the damage was not limited to Iran. There have also been concerns that the Stuxnet virus had migrated from the Iranian systems and become viable on other civilian use computers.
There have been numerous military interventions in Latin America ever since the U.S. became involved in the region in the wake of the Spanish-American War. The subsequent interventions in the so-called Banana Wars by U.S. Marines in Central America and the Caribbean were on behalf of United Fruit Company and other commercial interests. The cynical use of force to support American business moved the highly-decorated Marine Major General Smedley Butler to describe himself as “a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers … a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism” while declaring that “war is a racket.” More recently, the CIA arranged for the removal of populist Jacopo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, initiating 60 years of political instability in that country while the Agency role in the military coup in Chile that ousted Salvador Allende and its involvement with the Nicaraguan contra rebels subsequently are similarly notorious.
When I was in Europe with CIA the U.S. government regularly interfered with elections, particularly in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, all of which had active communist parties. The Agency would fund opposition parties directly or indirectly and would manage media coverage of the relevant issues to favor the non-communists. The end result was that the communists were indeed in most cases kept out of government but the resulting democracy was frequently corrupted by the process. Italy in particular suffers from that corruption to this day.
The United States has directly interfered in Russia, using proxies, IMF loans and a media controlled by the oligarchs to run the utterly incompetent Boris Yeltsin’s successful campaign in 1996 and then continuing with more aggressive “democracy promotion” projects until Putin expelled many of the NGOs responsible in 2015. More recently there have been the pastel revolutions in Eastern Europe and the upheaval in Ukraine, which came about in part due to a $5 billion investment by the United States government in “democracy building” supplemented by regular visits from John McCain and the State Department’s activist Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
And then there are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria as well as endorsement of the ongoing carnage in Yemen. The Congress meanwhile continues to call for regime change in Iran. So it leads to the question “Who is actually doing what to whom?”
One can well understand the anger at Russian actions but much of the sentiment is being fueled by a hostile press and deliberate U.S. government fear mongering orchestrated by the Obama Administration as its parting gift to the American people. A new Cold War would be good for no one. Stepping back a bit, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that anything Russia did or is suspected of doing in 2016 pales in comparison to what the United States has been doing for much longer and on a much wider scale. The Defense Department runs a cyber warfare command with a budget of $7 billion and the White House has ordered military interventions to bring about regime change in four Muslim majority countries while also interfering in a number of others since 9/11. The Obama response to an alleged Russian conspiracy that has yet to be demonstrated has been to send more soldiers to the Baltics while ordering a massive politically motivated retaliation that included the persona non grata expulsion of 35 Russian officials and their families. Moscow did not retaliate and instead invited U.S. diplomatic families to a Christmas celebration at the Kremlin. Sure, it was political theater to a certain extent but it has to make one wonder who was actually the adult in the room whenever Obama and Putin would meet.
An opinion piece in The Financial Times by its commentator Gideon Rachman represents the first admission by a member of the mainstream media of what is becoming increasingly obvious to me…
Donald Trump is winning the war with the spies:
… the intelligence community has every reason to fear the Trump White House. Mr Trump will appoint their leaders, he will control the trajectory of their careers and, judging by congressional Republicans’ efforts to loosen civil service protections, he may soon have the power to fire them at will… The furore over Russian hacking forced the president-elect to give the current intelligence chiefs an audience. But once he is firmly installed in the White House, he will be in a much better position to impose his will and views on the CIA, the NSA and the FBI. After all, he will be the boss.
It would have been different if the report the US intelligence community had provided contained convincing evidence of the US intelligence community’s claims of Russian interference in the US election. Had there been strong evidence of that Trump would not have been able to disregard it, his legitimacy as President would have been in question, and his authority would have been damaged.
In the event, after making very strong claims on this issue, and after promising to “push the envelope” on what could be revealed, the US intelligence community was unable to support its claims with evidence. This is because that evidence doesn’t exist.
That has put Donald Trump in a winning position despite the continuing attempts of some people to make trouble for him.
Gideon Rachman has incidentally disclosed a key fact about Trump’s meeting with the intelligence chiefs on Friday of which I was previously unaware. This is that Trump went to the meeting with his choice of National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn.
The point about General Flynn is that he is himself a former intelligence chief, having previously been the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency. Moreover it is know that there is little love lost between him and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan.
As a former intelligence chief Flynn would have able to spot immediately the many obvious problems with the US intelligence community’s report and tell Trump about them, helping Trump to prepare his response.
As I have said previously, the statement Trump made following his meeting with the intelligence chiefs on Friday was clearly drafted by a lawyer, showing that Trump is being careful to get legal advice. The fact Trump brought Flynn with him to the meeting with the intelligence chiefs on Friday shows that Trump also sought expert advice advice from a senior former intelligence officer.
In other words Trump is being careful throughout to seek the advice of professional and experts, something which in part explains his skillful handling of this scandal.
It is something which incidentally also shows that contrary to his maverick reputation Trump is someone who seeks and listens to expert advice. Since that is what he must have done as a businessman, that should not be surprising.
There is no sourced information in the US intel report alleging Russian involvement in hacking DNC offices, says retired CIA official Larry Johnson. Former CIA director James Woolsey, and MI5 officer turned whistleblower Annie Machon, also joined.
In live debates hosted by RT on Monday, Woolsey, Johnson and Machon gave their expert opinions on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) report entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” which was released on January 6.
The unclassified ODNI report was anticipated to reveal the full scope of Russian involvement in the DNC leaks and provide evidence supporting serious claims made by the US intelligence community.
Instead, the report has proven to be wanting in content, with WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange saying it has “zero evidentiary weight.”
RT: Mr. Woolsey, throughout this damning report we see the words ‘high confidence’. But it also says “high confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments may be wrong.” So does this report, in fact, prove anything at all?
James Woolsey: Not to prove a certainty can still be very useful. As far as I am concerned, there is no certainly in most intelligence. So I think it is really a kind of debating trick to say that since it is not certain it is worthless.
RT:The most notorious example of US intelligence using the word ‘high confidence’ was back in 2003 with Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction – as we remember it all ended up in an invasion, however, no weapons of mass destruction were found. Could we be seeing the same thing all over again?
JW: Actually, weapons of mass destruction of two of the three kinds were found. The chemical weapons, the three kinds of weapons of mass destruction in our terminology, which I think was originally a Soviet agitprop phrase: chemical, bacteriological and nuclear. Chemical weapons were absolutely found – Saddam [Hussein] used them against the Kurds. Biological weapons were well-known – their location, because Saddam’s brother-in-law was the head of the biological weapons program and he defected to us. The ones that were not there were nuclear. But any parsing of the language would make clear what I have said.
RT: Annie, what do you make of the claims presented in this report?
Annie Machon: Well, it seems very ‘intelligence-light,’ shall we say. They are going to claim that they need to cut out the actual smoking gun, the evidence from this report. I don’t think anyone would be surprised at the depth of the penetration of the internet, the gathering of information that is done across the internet. As the former technical director of the NSA [William Binney] the whistleblower has said publically many times: if indeed there had been hacking, there would be traces that could be found. The fact that those traces have not been found – have not been reported without any particular scientific methodology behind it – does make the report very evidence light. Also, there has been a lot of other information coming out as well, which does indicate this could be a leak inside, rather than an external attack from outside.
RT: On the other hand, American Intelligence services have vast resources and experience – surely, staff must care about their reputations enough not to make claims that they believe to be wrong?
Larry Johnson: I would just encourage all of your viewers to go back and pull the 2002 white paper that was produced based upon the National Intelligence estimate. Read through that – you will see from an intelligence standpoint, how evidence is presented. And while Director Woolsey is correct that you don’t want to divulge sources and methods, there are a variety of ways that you can identify or at least phrase a source. You say, for example, “according to multiple, reliable sources with known access”… There is a way to phrase it, but you can at least look that the 2002 document and see that there is page, upon page, upon page of evidence. It turned out that most of it was either misleading or misunderstood. So just the fact that you can just source evidence doesn’t make something right.
What is striking about this report that was issued on Friday: not one shred of evidence. As a former analyst, and if I were detailed to the cyber account, I would have been following every day the information that would come out in intelligence reports – wherever it was from the NSA, or from a human source, or from DIA, or from State Department reporting. And at some point in that process, we should have seen either an electronic or human source that said: “Vladimir Putin or someone in his government had directed the cyber-command in Russia to start a program or a plan to collect.” We never saw any of that. There is not one sourced information in that report. That is what makes it ridiculous.
Israeli UK Embassy Scandal: Officer Who Sought to Destroy Tory Leader Worked for Strategic Affairs Ministry
Israeli minister Gil Erdan meets with Conservative Friends of Israel MPs during the London visit, when he also met with Shai Masot
The Guardian has uncovered a major element of the Shai Masot scandal. I speculated in my last post about this story that Masot worked for an Israeli intelligence agency. No one I consulted found it likely it could be the Mossad. Masot was too public and too pushy to be Mossad. Others speculated that he worked for the IDF intelligence unit, AMAN, since he had until recently been an IDF Major. But his LinkedIn account noted that he’d left the IDF.
Now the Guardian has put two and two together and gotten closer to key elements of the story. He worked for the Strategic Affairs ministry headed by ambitious Likud pol, Gil Erdan. His agency has been tasked with mounting a global campaign against BDS. At a conference in Israel, one of Erdan’s fellow ministers even threatened BDS activists with “civil elimination,” a term dangerously close to ‘assassination’ in colloquial Hebrew. Erdan’s budget is huge ($34-million devoted to fighting BDS alone) as the latter has become the bête noire of the Israeli state–named as Public Enemy Number 1; the new “existential threat” to the “Jewish state” and Jewish people.
The Israeli foreign ministry, according to the Guardian story, recognized the danger of what Masot was doing and its London staff wrote a cable warning that freelancing of the type Masot was engaged in was extremely dangerous because funding UK organizations directly with Israeli state funds would jeopardize the non-profit status of any UK non-profit who accepted them. In videos, Masot boasts about founding pro-Israel astro-turf groups which were local in name only. Masot pulled the strings both financially and politically. He also boasts about collaboration with Conservative Friends of Israel and offers 1-million pounds to a Labour Friends of Israel MP in order to encourage other MPs to participate in junkets to Israel. Joan Ryan, the MP before whom he dangled this bauble didn’t seem to have a clue as to the danger it posed to her. She merely joked to Masot that she didn’t expect he was carrying the 1-million in a bag on his back!
One telling passage from the MFA cable confirms that the Israeli government is far more aggressive in creating such astroturf groups in the U.S. than it has been so far in Britain:
“Attempts to act behind our back have happened before and will happen again, but ‘operating’ Jewish organisations directly from Jerusalem, with no coördination and no consultation, is liable to be dangerous,” it said. “Operating like this could encounter opposition from the organisations themselves, given their legal status: Britain isn’t the US !”
This calls to mind the multitude of Israel Lobby groups which closely coördinate their activity with the Israeli government, and perhaps more. They include StandWithUs, The Israel Project, Christians United for Israel, CAMERA, and many others. In fact, then-deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon boasted on an Israeli TV show that his ministry was funding a SWU lawsuit against the Olympia Food Coop.
This reinforces my strong impression developed over the years that many of these groups, which are ostensibly independent U.S.-based groups are either fully or partially “operated” by the Israeli government. I have even reported on several projects of these NGOs which were explicitly funded by the government. This should endanger their non-profit status and force them to register as agents of a foreign government. But our IRS hasn’t chosen to tangle with the Israel Lobby or even the settler lobby (though it should).
Returning to the Strategic Affairs ministry, it released this statement in response to the September MFA cable. It indicates that the ministry either lied or was totally ignorant about what its own operatives like Masot were doing in Israel’s name:
“We work in coordination with the Israeli embassy in Britain and the Foreign Ministry. Every action is done according to the law and in accordance with government decisions and the ministry’s authority. We regret there are elements in the Foreign Ministry who don’t understand the division of responsibilities between the ministries and prefer to deal with struggles of honor instead of focusing on our goals.”
Someone back in Tel Aviv should be eating crow about now. But given the abysmal lack of accountability in virtually everything done in the government, it’s doubtful anything will come of it. … Full article