This time, a Florida public school principal threatened to remove students from school-sponsored sporting events if they choose not to stand for the National Anthem.
“You will stand and you will stay quiet, if you don’t, you are going to be sent home and you’re not going to have a refund of your ticket price,” Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth said in a video, according to an NBC 2 report. “It’s something that I’m very passionate about and something we are going to do.”
Nemeth obviously feels strongly about this issue, but that doesn’t mean he can force others to adopt his view. People who choose not to stand probably feel passionate about their form of protest as well. I can’t stress enough that we don’t force the perceived version of patriotism in this country, and that distinguishes our freedom for the better.
Some were quick to challenge authority, as one student and basketball player, Adrianas Pena, told NBC 2 that Nemeth “shouldn’t be ejecting people just because they don’t wanna stand. Everybody has their voice to say something with it.”
This type of threat, especially from taxpayer-funded schools like Lely High, is unacceptable. The explanation for the video is even more irking.
This should always be voluntary.
On Thursday, Greg Turchetta, a spokesman for the Collier County school district said that the video was “taken out of context” because it came after students were “disruptive” during the anthem at a volleyball game.
Really, though? Is the school district really trying to argue that a warning that says “stand for the national anthem or get ejected from the game” is ambiguous and can be taken out of context? Really?
“They may have been laughing and joking, you know, it’s the beginning of an athletic competition,” Truchetta said. “They just came in, I’ve seen it sometimes when people don’t even realize what’s going on… oh the anthem is on, and they might have been slow to react to it.”
Let’s say that’s the case – students were chatting and didn’t even realize the anthem was being played. Surely there were other ways to deal with that than a grown man making a video trying to force every student to be a minion. And if some students made a conscious decision not to take part, they have that right. The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that if students have a religious- or conscience-based objection to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they could opt out. The same rules would surely apply to the National Anthem.
Unfortunately, Truchetta doesn’t think the Constitution applies to minors, since apparently, students can only protest during the anthem if they have written permission from their parents and if their protest is a silent or “peaceful” one. (This is ironic since the video was inspired by Kaepernick’s peaceful protest, but by all means)
I think Fort Myers attorney Michael Noone said it best when he told a local TV station: “I don’t recall anywhere in the Constitution where it says that your freedom of speech rights come into effect when you turn 18.”
I don’t recall that either.
A Canadian company has sold Bahrain technology used to block opposition websites and human rights content on the Internet, Canadian activists say.
Specialists from internet watchdog Citizen Lab said in a report that Canadian Netsweeper website-blocking applications had been identified on nine internet service providers (ISPs) in Bahrain.
The report further disclosed that testing on the ISP of the state-run Bahrain Telecommunication Company (Batelco) showed that at least one of the Netsweeper installations was in use in the small Persian Gulf kingdom.
Citizen Lab researchers highlighted that the installations appear to have become active between May and July of this year.
That is “a few months after the release of a public tender by Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in January 2016 indicating Netsweeper won a bid to provide a ‘national website filtering solution.’”
The contract is worth either 1.1 million or 3.1 million dollars, the researchers said.
Citizen Lab said, “The sale of technology used to censor political speech and other forms of legitimate expression, to a state with a highly problematic human rights record, raises serious questions.”
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power.
Manama has been relentlessly cracking down on dissent. Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been deployed to the country to assist in the crackdown on peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.
GAZA – Facebook administration has banned a large number of pro-Palestinian pages and accounts including Hamas-affiliated pages.
The Facebook administration closed over the past few hours several pro-Palestinian pages and accounts, some of which were banned for the tenth time.
A number of online activists accused the administration of online social networking service Facebook of deliberately suspending their accounts to silence the pro-Palestinian pages. Other Hamas members and activists have also voiced similar complaints.
The activists stressed that they never wrote anything on the banned pages that could violate Facebook’s rules.
Filastin al-Hiwar Facebook page which has over 145,000 followers, has also been abruptly suspended by Facebook.
Over the past few days, two Israeli government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss ways of collaboration between the two parties. The Israeli ministers and Facebook officials have agreed to work together to determine “how to tackle incitement on the social media network,” according to an Israeli newspaper.
A mayor of the French town of Évreux has come up with a radical suggestion to evict all the potentially dangerous individuals tracked by police out of town. The proposal comes after the official’s request to reveal the names on the watchlist had been rejected.
Guy Lefranc, the head of the town, located in Normandy, says he initially demanded information on all the people on the “Fiche S” list living in Évreux. The “Fiche S” is an indicator used by French police to mark people considered to be a threat to national security.
Lefranc contacted the local prefect, saying that the safety of the town’s residents was at stake and having such information at his disposal would help to tighten security. The mayor’s request, however, was turned down.
Shooting down mayor’s “perfectly legitimate request” led him to making his radical suggestion on the eviction of all dangerous individuals.
“I am furious,” the mayor told AFP on Thursday.
“Given that the state does not give us the means to protect the people of Evreux, I demand the state expels all those who are “Fiche S”. I feel compelled to ask for this expulsion because I am not entitled to a perfectly legitimate request to know all those who “Fiche S” are,” mayor Lefranc said.
The mayor even said that since he was deprived of this vital intelligence he could not really trust other public servants and officials.
“I ask myself a question about some of my staff, who work with the public. I don’t know if they are “Fiche S”, I don’t know if they are dangerous,” the mayor said.
Lefranc noted that due to the current state of emergency it was the prime minister’s responsibility to issue a decree giving local mayors access to “Fiche S” files.
Following the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that there were some 20,000 people in France flagged “Fiche S.” Roughly half of them were connected to various Islamist movements.
Many, but not all of the jihadists, who have participated in numerous attacks in France had their names on the watchlist, so their potential threat was known to the intelligence services. Arrests of a “Fiche S” flagged woman allegedly planning an attack in Paris and a man allegedly connected to Brussels attacks in Belgium appear to somehow support Lefranc’s point.
The recent murder of a French priest in Normandy by two jihadists known to authorities also fertilized growing anger, fear and frustration in the French society, with some blaming security forces not taking action. Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said last year he would put anyone with a “Fiche S” file under house arrest and give them an electronic tag. Since then he has gone even further and proposed to simply put all suspected terrorists behind bars. Several calls for establishing a “French Guantanamo” to house all the terror suspects, however, have been shot down by the current government, since it would violate human rights.
From cell-site simulators in New York to facial recognition devices in San Diego, law enforcement surveillance technologies are spreading across the country like an infectious disease. It’s almost epidemiological: one police department will adopt a new, invasive tool, and then the next and the next, often with little or no opportunity for the citizens to weigh in on what’s needed or appropriate for their communities. Sometimes even elected officials and judges have no idea how technologies are being used by the police under their supervision.
2016 is the year we start to turn it around. In California, we helped pass legislation to require transparency and public hearings on technologies such as cell-site simulators and automated license plate readers before they can be adopted by cities and counties. Specifically, earlier this year, the County of Santa Clara passed a groundbreaking ordinance limiting how and when law enforcement can adopt new surveillance technologies.
Today, EFF joins the ACLU and a diverse coalition of civil liberties organizations in launching the new campaign for Community Control Over Police Surveillance. This nationwide effort will pass ordinances on the local level that ensure that all affected communities will have a voice in deciding whether police may acquire a new surveillance tool. Without this reform, such decisions too often are made only by local law enforcement officials seeking to acquire the latest, shiny tools; by the federal government seeking to spread “anti-terrorism” funds and its own military-grade tech; and by the vendors aggressively marketing these devices to police departments.
The #TakeCTRL movement seeks to pass ordinances similar to that adopted by Santa Clara in 11 key and politically diverse municipalities across the country: New York City; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; Miami Beach and Pensacola, Florida; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Muskegon, Michigan; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Palo Alto, California.
While each ordinance will be tailored to the needs of each municipality, all will be grounded in these eight critical principles:
1) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without prior express city council approval.
2) Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.
3) The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.
4) The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.
5) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.
6) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.
7) To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.
8) City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.
This movement is supported by a wide variety of national groups, including EFF, the ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, NAACP, National Network of Arab American Communities, Restore the Fourth, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the Tenth Amendment Center.
This effort is crucial for society at large, but it is especially important to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. As the ACLU articulates:
The increasing, secret use of surveillance technologies by local police, especially against communities of color and other unjustly targeted and politically unpopular groups, is creating oppressive, stigmatizing environments in which every community member is treated like a prospective criminal. The overuse of surveillance technologies has turned many non-white and poor neighborhoods into fishbowls, and some into virtual prisons, where their residents’ public behavior is monitored and scrutinized 24 hours a day.
The ACLU has put together the ultimate resource guide for the Community Control Over Police Surveillance at communityctrl.com, where you can learn more about the principles, the technologies, the targeted cities, and how you can get involved. We also encourage you to learn from the work EFF is doing on these issues through our Street-Level Surveillance hub.
This effort may not be the ultimate antidote to the plague of invasive police tech, but we believe that it will help build up the antibodies to ensure that our communities become resistant to unchecked surveillance.
In recent days I discovered that the Canadian branch of the Israeli-US-based Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith is reporting that I am “well known for using academic credentials to deny the Holocaust.” On August 29, Daniel Leons-Marder mirrored the Canadian B’nai Brith report under the title, Facebook Allows “Kill All Jews” Post on Wall of Canadian Professor. In an item Leons-Marder claims has been shared 11,000 times, he asserted “B’nai Brith Canada reported the image, which was ruled acceptable [by Facebook] within two hours, when it was alerted to it having been posted on the Facebook page of Canadian Academic Professor Anthony Hall, who is a holocaust denier.”
The B’nai Brith’s Aug. 29 announcement starts with a bald statement that “Police have launched an investigation into an antisemitic Facebook post that was exposed by B’nai Brith Canada last Friday.” The earlier August 26 statement emphasized the role of Facebook, introducing me in the controversy as being “well known for using [my] academic credentials to deny the Holocaust and promote 9/11 conspiracy theories.”
Under the headline, “Killing Jews Is Now an Acceptable Message, Facebook Says,” the B’nai Brith announced,
“Antisemitism in all forms is rampant on social media, but this is the clearest, most obvious kind of antisemitism one could possibly create,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith CEO. “The classification of this as antisemitic cannot be challenged, and the fact that this promotes violence towards Jews is beyond dispute. Regardless, Facebook has deemed it acceptable despite its ‘community standards’ containing clear provisions against hate speech. The Jewish community deserves no less protection or respect than any other when it comes to hate speech and threats of violence.”
“Every year, upon publication of our Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, a contingent of detractors accuses us of saying the sky is falling, and that antisemitism does not exist in Canada,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “Content like this is proof positive that not only antisemitism of a genocidal nature exists in Canada, but the systems that are supposed to protect us from racist hate speech don’t consider hatred of Jews to be problematic.”
B’nai Brith has reported the post to Lethbridge Police Services.
The Canadian B’nai Brith’s post, together with those of others that have mirrored B’nai Brith’s announcement, constitute the first time I have seen myself described in print as a ‘holocaust denier.” What is the definition used by the thought police to decide who is or is not a “holocaust denier? Are there many holocausts or only one? Who owns the term, “holocaust?” If there are exclusive rights, how were they obtained?
In the eyes of the B’nai Brith, is a “holocaust denier” anyone who disagrees with any element, large or small, of its favored historical interpretation? Is the B’nai Brith naturally hostile to anyone that retains independent, evidence-based perspectives on some of the most fraught issues of historical interpretation in contemporary times?
What is behind the creation of the original post that set the controversy in motion? Who created it and why? Is this whole episode an engineered crisis? Is one of its purposes to fend off the criticisms of those that accuse the B’nai Brith and related Zionist agencies of claiming “the sky is falling” with their Orwellian system of Annual Audits of Antisemitic Incidents. Please see below the map published to present cartographic interpretations by the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.
As shall be explained below, the B’nai Brith has failed to perform due diligence in its handling of this matter. Its officers did not even attempt back up their provocative characterizations of me with even a shred of genuine evidence. The organization opted instead to exploit for its own political agenda the shock value inherent in the vile contents of an item allegedly posted, apparently very briefly, on my FB page. The item is said to have been posted by Glen Davidson. I did not ever see it on my FB page. I did not invite nor did I even have any knowledge of it until recently.
In its material the B’nai Brith describe the post as a “depiction of a White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew accompanied by a lengthy, violent anti-Semitic screed beside the photograph.” Here is the post, which I first saw sometime early in September as part of a smear piece published about me at “Aussie Dave’s” Israellycool.
To reiterate and to be absolutely clear, I did not post this social media item myself. I did not create it or solicit it. I do not approve of its contents. In fact I of course strongly condemn the message conveyed in both the image and the text. Due diligence demands, however, that I look further into this matter.
The B’nai Brith in Action
My initial research into the item’s content is leading me to the opinion that the image probably emerges from some sort of staged situation, one that seems to include the application of photo shop techniques. The most basic questions that must now be pressed concern the source of the atrocious text. From whence does it originate? Certainly I did not write it. Glen Davidson did not write it. Who did write it and why? Not once yet have I seen this deeper question posed by those who are exploiting the vile item to dramatize a real or concocted dispute with Facebook.
Quite possibly by design, the miniscule, densely compressed text is very difficult to read especially on small digital devices. Could this attribute be because the text was conceived not as a means of winning adherents but rather as a justification for political actions like the B’nai Brith’s current hate speech campaign highlighting my academic position at the University of Lethbridge?
I first saw the item among a number of screen shots all dedicated to “Aussie Dave’s” nomination of me as “Anti-Zionist-Not-Anti-Semite of the Day.”
I remember being particular interested in the part of the post that mentioned Ryan Bellerose, a Metis man and convert to Judaism who has recently been hired as the B’nai Brith’s new Western Canadian representative. Most of my attention zeroed in on Aussie Dave’s suggestion to his readers that they communications to the president of my University, Dr. Mike Mahon. I also took note of a screen shot of an item on U of L letterhead where Dr. Mahon responds to “JP.” Who is “JP”?
I can trace one thread of this matter’s origins to a recorded telephone call I listened to a year ago. Its source was Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. In August of 2015 Ms. Hohmann telephoned the manager of a community venue in downtown Edmonton Alberta. Ms. Hohmann aim on behalf of her employer was to shut down a book promotion event. At the time Dr. Barrett along with his wife, two sons a dog and me were touring Alberta to call attention to an edited text entitled We Are Not Charlie Hebdo. Dr. Barrett edited the volume to which I had contributed an article.
The venue’s manager, Richard Awid, taped Ms. Hohmann’s intervention and subsequently played it back for me. Here is how I described this part of the episode in an article entitled “B’nai Brith Moves to Quash Free Speech in Canada,”
Mr. Awid was somewhat dumbfounded that a small event at his community hall, “one of 100 such venues in Edmonton,” would elicit such an intense response from a very powerful organization in Toronto. He played back to me on his answering machine a recorded message he received at about 9 am on August 12 from Amanda Hohmann. Ms. Hohmann explained that she had received “a few complaints” about “Mr.” Kevin Barrett on the B’nai Brith’s “anti-hate hotline.” (1-416-633-6224; 1-800-892-2624)
Ms. Hohmann asserted that
“Mr. Barrett is a known anti-semite conspiracy theorist, a Holocaust Denier, and 9/11 Denier and all sorts of other things.”
Ms. Hohmann made no effort whatsoever to give background proof of her allegations or to identify the sources of the supposed “complaints.” Nevertheless she proposed to Mr. Awid that he should “cancel the event and let Mr. Barrett know he is not welcome in Edmonton.”
In this telephone call the B’nai Brith’s “human rights” director tried to defame a colleague offering absolutely no proof whatsoever to provide evidentiary backing for her directive from Toronto that Dr. Barrett should not be welcome in Alberta’s capital. I believe the Western world currently supports many Amanda Hohmanns paid very well to target and slander regularly individuals like Dr. Kevin Barrett.
Are the protagonists in these ugly witch hunts ever held accountable for the excesses? Are there any constraints on the increasingly severe incursions of the Zionist thought police? What remedies are or are not available for the likes of Dr. Barrett who is a Muslim man. Along with the rest of the omma, Dr. Barrett and his family are regularly subjected to heavy doses of “hate speech” and sometimes worse?
When Richard Awid, a Muslim himself, did not adhere to Ms. Hohmann’s instructions, the B’nai Brith was able to send in a representative of the “hate speech” unit of the Edmonton police. The officer monitored the first part of the event and then left after informing Dr. Barrett that our presentation deemed was not to be hate speech by the police force he represented. I recall wondering at the time, does that bizarre episode foreshadow an era when all university classes will be policed by officials answerable to agencies like the B’nai Brith? Is that where this is leading?
The B’nai Brith has been front and center in Canada’s increasingly notorious record of aggressively policing citizens for supposed thought crimes and speech crimes. The B’nai Brith’s assault on free speech in Canada includes among its objects for criminalization Doug Collins, Malcolm Ross, Jim Keegstra, Ernst Zundel, Terry Tremaine, David Ahenakew and, most recently, Arthur Topham.
The case against Arthur Topham and his Radical Press is still ongoing. By following at a distance the tawdry prosecution of the self-employed reporter, publisher, editor and carpenter in Quesnel British Columbia, I was made aware of a very significant text published in 1941. Theodore Kaufman’s Germany Must Perish outlines an extremely ruthless strategy of genocidal destruction of a whole people. Has this classic description of genocidal intent and methodology been ever given prominence in a school curriculum in Canada?
My reading of an Internet copy of the text, one that became integral to the proceedings of the Topham trial, caused me to reflect on how one-sided the whole discourse on genocide is becoming. The suffering of one group is highlighted and elevated above all others while the suffering and assaults imposed on other groups is often downplayed, ignored or even denigrated. I had no idea before the B’nai Brith-instigated prosecution of Arthur Topham that there was such a detailed plan to annihilate the entire German people.
I only recently have become fully aware of the extent of the murder, rape and pillage of several millions of Germans after 1945 in American prisoner war camps and in orgies of Soviet-instigated ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. Where are the museums to promote public education about these crimes against humanity? Where is the museum to commemorate the horrendous intergenerational genocide of perhaps a hundred million Indigenous peoples in the Holocaust of the Americas since 1492? Will future You Tubers make videos to ask elderly members of today’s generation what they did or didn’t do about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians now underway in order to clear the way for Greater Israel?
Thought Police Wreaking Havoc on Campus
The B’nai Brith is becoming especially aggressive in campaigns to have individuals fired from their work for expounding historical interpretations it does not like. The B’nai Brith boasted menacingly on September 15 of having destroyed the career of Nikolas Balakas, a long-serving lab technician at York University’s Department of Astronomy and Physics. The announcement that Canada’s most ruthless thought police agency had succeeded in its campaign to get York University to fire its employee was written by Aidan Fishman. Mr. Fishman is Campus Advocacy Coordinator of B’nai Brith Canada.
After counting coup on Mr. Balaras’s dismissal, Mr. Fishman concludes with the following plea that the University of Lethbridge should follow York University’s example. The B’nai Brith official wrote,
“Unfortunately not every administration is prepared to act with such decisiveness [as that of York University], as the ongoing saga surrounding Professor Anthony Hall at Lethbridge University shows. I hope that the administration in Lethbridge can use the excellent example set by York University on this matter, and take appropriate steps to ensure that their students are not similarly subjected to hatred and antisemitism on campus.”
Who is the real author of this “ongoing saga?” Where is the proof as of today that University of Lethbridge students are being subjected “to hatred and anti-Semitism on campus.” I have not once seen this kind of language appear in 26 years of teaching evaluations. Where is there any accountability for floating this kind of vicious agenda of smear? The intrusion into this matter of a B’nai Brith official described as Campus Advocacy Coordinator is, as far as I know, setting precedents at my school. What is the nature of the “advocacy” Mr. Fishman is “coordinating”?
The effort of B’nai Brith’s “campus coordinator” and possibly others of his group to inject themselves into the internal governance of the University of Lethbridge brings to mind a similar controversy brewing at Oberlin College. Oberlin College is a renowned Liberal Arts school in Ohio whose origins long predate the American Civil War. There Dr. Joy Karega has been suspended with pay from her teaching position as a result of a controversy also involving Facebook posts. I have written a lengthy open latter on the matter to Oberlin President, Dr. Marvin Krislov. The text, which has been mirrored on other web sites, was first published at American Herald Tribune.
In my effort to reach out to President Krislov, Dr. Karega and the other students and faculty involved in what has definitely become a fiasco for the Oberlin community, I proposed in my open letter that we all work together to mount a joint academic conference. I proposed that my own Liberal Education program at the University of Lethbridge ally itself with the embattled Liberal Arts College in Ohio to organize an event aimed at bringing thoughtful academic commentary to address a mounting crisis in higher education in North America.
I hereby invite Aiden Fishman to join this initiative and thereby embark on a constructive course rather than the trajectory of negativity implicit in his present preoccupation with hate talk and advocacy for division. Of course Mr. Fishman is far from alone in the type of “advocacy” in which he is engaged. There is a barrage of interventions currently underway from organizations like the AMCHA Initiative, the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Campus Outreach, Hillel, the American Jewish Congress, David Horowitz’s FrontPage and Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch to mention only a few. As currently on full public display at Oberlin College, these well-funded and deeply staffed interventions invariably wreak havoc on the principles of academic freedom and civil academic discourse on campus?
I suggested the following title for the event.
Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories:
A Rational or Irrational Phrase in Academic Discourse?
In my research research into the Joy Karega/Oberlin debacle I became aware of the concerted campaign in 2014 to destroy the career of Prof. William I. Robinson. Dr. Robinson is Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Like Dr. Joy Karega, Dr. Steven Salaita, Dr. Hatem Bazian, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Dr. Richard Falk, me and many others, Dr. Robinson includes in the curriculum some focus on the plight of Palestinian people.
Caption: Prof. Richard Falk, Former UN Rapporteur and Princeton University Professor of International Law, Speaks on the Issue of Academic Freedom at the University of California at Santa Barbara
The sociologist refused to back down from incorporating in his teaching critical perspectives on the harsh treatment of Palestinians especially in Gaza and the so-called Occupied Territories. Amidst proliferating Jewish settlements and the constant repressions of the Israeli police state, many Palestinians continue to eke out marginal existences on the heavily militarized lands set aside for them by the United Nations in Resolution 181. Resolution 181, an international instrument calling for partition of Palestine and UN trusteeship over Jerusalem, constitutes the primary law at the roots of the Israeli entity in its present form.
Prof. Robinson has written of his ordeal in August of 2014 on Truthout. In an article entitled “Repression Escalates on US Campuses,” the sociologist explains,
The persecution to which I was subjected involved a litany of harassment, slander, defamation of character and all kinds of threats against the university by outside forces if I was not dismissed, as well as hate mail and death threats from unknown sources. More insidiously, it involved a shameful collaboration between a number of university officials and outside forces from the Israel lobby as the university administration stood by silently, making a mockery of academic freedom.
The disciplinary procedure initiated against me by UCSB officials involved a host of irregularities, violations of the university’s own procedures, breaches of confidentiality, denial of due process, conflicts of interest, failure of disclosure, improper political surveillance, abuses of power and position, unwarranted interference in curriculum and teaching and so on. As I would discover during the course of the ordeal, individuals inside the university and in positions of authority had linked up with agents of the lobby outside the university in setting out to prosecute me.
Will the same toolbox of wrecking instruments deployed at the University of California be shipped in from the United States and unpacked at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada? Will the administration of my own school continue to uphold the University of Lethbridge’s good reputation as an institution of higher education where the vital principles of academic freedom and civil academic discourse are expressed and defended?
On several occasions I have publicly lauded the U of L for creating an environment of academic freedom. I made this observation, for instance, at the University of Lethbridge’s book event when in 2011 my volume, Earth into Property, was launched. In this 900+ page peer-reviewed academic text published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, I incorporate analysis that the B’nai Brith flippantly trivializes as “9/11 conspiracy theories.”
Deeply corrupt agencies like the B’nai Brith have a lot to lose when the basic facts about what really happened on 9/11–who did what to whom—become the common knowledge of the general public. That day may be approaching far faster than those hiding behind the tired old memes about “conspiracy theories” anticipate.
How much longer can the evidence of 9/11 be concealed behind the ruthless kind of ad hominem attacks that have become the well known-specialty of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in all its many constituent parts? How much longer will the public tolerate the hate propaganda and professional assaults that are obliterating the fundamental integrity of so many of our most important institutions?
What other lies and deceptions are being fed to the public on a regular basis? What is the level of public confidence these days in the trustworthiness of society’s key institutions including government, media, police and agencies of higher education? Who can say public confidence in these entities is high?
What is the appropriate role for universities in addressing issues of officialdom’s fraud and malfeasance especially in situations that have large implications for public policy? If even tenured university faculty can be intimidated into shying away from the professional responsibility to distinguish truth from falsehood, but especially in situations that threaten power’s imperatives, who will perform this vital function? Politicians? Talking heads on TV? Who will speak truth to the unaccountable power that the B’nai Brith in its current reckless demeanor so abundantly epitomizes?
Ritual Defamation in the Social Media Circus
To return to the Facebook post that lies at the root of this controversy, I have already publicly condemned the contents of the offending item in the September 16 edition of False Flag Weekly News. I currently co-host this regular broadcast along with one of its founding partners, Dr. Kevin Barrett.
I noticed a reference to my public condemnation of the item in question in the comments section of the B’nai Brith’s own web post of August 29. A commenter going by the name of Andrew Blair observes,
It is important to realize that Professor Hall publicly condemns that image and text. Go to False Flag Weekly, at minute 36, to see and hear his denunciation.When I put on my “fairness” glasses and look at that image I see Tony Hall in the headlock, and the arms locking his head are the image and the text. Does anyone else see that, or are my “fairness” glasses defective?
“Andrew Blair’s” question certainly resonates with me. The B’nai Brith’s description of the image in its news announcements refers to “a White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew.” Is the Orthodox Jew not a White man too? What is there to say that the aggressor in this image is not Cherokee or Mohawk or Palestinian for that matter?
What are the politics of the B’nai Brith’s choice of words in its racialized approach to its public announcement highlighting this inflammatory image? What effect is being sought? Did the image emerge from a real or staged situation? If it was the former, what was the event? Where did it happen? Who took the photograph? Have the investigators in the B’nai Brith-police-hate-crime-complex explored such matters.
Is the B’nai Brith’s emphasis on “police investigations” itself a staged tactic of sorts? Is it meant to dramatize the main story line aimed ultimately at seizing control of strategic instruments of Internet communication. The subplot, which is certainly intended to harm me personally and professionally, is that crazed and genocidal anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists– even “holocaust deniers”— are running around loose with full Internet access even in Lethbridge Alberta?
My own best assessment is that the offending social media item seems likely to have been produced by photo shop juxtapositions of different images. The “White man’s” head and the “Orthodox Jew’s” crushed glasses both look like inserts. The white wing of the victim’s crushed and displaced glasses seems to have been drawn in. There are signs of graphic tinkering in the relationship between the huge muscular arm in the forefront and the squeezed face of the suffering victim.
The reversal of Talmudic-style contempt for the Other (the Goy) cries out the pictured message of Jewish victimhood. The provocative power of the image is reinforced by the B’nai Brith’s very racialized description. In my recent research I have discovered that this image and other images very much like—images that often feature the same racist “White man”— show up on many Internet posts, even one I found translated into German.
Where the picture provides the main message, the text provides the “evidence” of the antisemitism that the B’nai Brith and its allied agencies are simultaneously engaged in inventing, cultivating, spotlighting and publicly combating. What justification would there be for the existence of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith without the métier of antisemitism? The primary essence of the B’nai B’rith entities is to advance the agendas of the Israeli entity in the Diaspora, in other words in Canada, USA, Britain, France. Australia, and many other countries.
The text in the offending item is perhaps the most appalling excerpt of gutter prose I have ever seen. Its contents are so reprehensible that they demand careful consideration. Like an illegal drug planted by corrupt police on a targeted individual, the reprehensible social media item has been metaphorically put on my digital front door step and then advertised by the B’nai Brith to advance its own political agenda. I am left with little alternative but to respond as decently and as conscientiously to a crime in progress.
The author, it is claimed by the item’s creator, is Ben “Tel Aviv Terror” Garrison. This Garrison person has many nicknames. He is made to exclaim,
“There was never a Holocaust, but there should have been and, rest assured, there WILL be, as you serpentine kikes richly deserve one. I will not rest until every single filthy. Parasitic kike is rounded up and slaughtered like the vermin they are. The White man has had more than enough of International Jewry and we are fully prepared to smite the parasite for the millionth time. The greedy, hook nosed kikes know that there days are numbered and, unlike in the past, they now have nowhere to run. This time, there will be no kikes left alive to spead around the planet like cockroaches. We will get them ALL into the oven and their putrid memory will finally be erased from the planet once and for all. Like all parasites the Jew will continue to reproduce until every last one has been wiped out. This is why it is crucial that all kikes are ruthlessly and mercilesslt butchered for the good of us all. KILL ALL JEWS NOW! EVERY LAST ONE!” Ben “Tel Aviv Terror” Garrison
What kind of demented mind would come up with such a macabre celebration of envisaged mass murder? What would be the motivation to pen such a blatant incitement to hate and slaughter of a specific people?
My research into the offending item’s origins quickly led me to the many Internet profiles and posts of Ben Garrison. Ben Garrison is apparently a real person who lives in Montana. It turns out that this Ben Garrison, the sole named individual in the miniature text of the offending Facebook post, is also the aggressor in the photo shopped image. Adorned with dark glasses and a cowboy hat, Garrison is pictured as (in the words of B’nai Brith) as “the White man assaulting an Orthodox Jew.”
The real life Ben Garrison is often described as a libertarian political satirist. He is a prolific cartoonist whose cartoon and personal images lie at the center of an increasingly contentious media circus. Significantly Facebook figures centrally in the many-faceted narrative of Ben Garrison. Perhaps his Facebook connection is a major reason why B’nai Brith and related agencies chose Garrison’s Internet personae as poster boy for its hate speech campaign of fund raising and ritual defamation.
Holocaust Studies experts at Tel-Aviv University are among the most outspoken proponents of the view that Ben Garrison is indeed the kind of bigoted psychopath who would in real life utter provocations to the genocide of Jews. These Israeli academicians would probably argue it is entirely in character for Ben Garrison to have actually declared with sincerity, “Kill All Jews.” The hypothesis that Ben Garrison’s racist screed should be taken at face value is implicit in the wording and headlines of the posts by B’nai Brith, Daniel Leons-Marder’s Everyday Antisemitism and the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.
The smear campaign’s architects and engineers are attempting a controlled demolition of my reputation in their quest to harness Facebook more fully to their own agendas. These architects and engineers count among their allies the creators and authors at Encyclopedia dramatica, Of Ben Garrison the encyclopedia’s drama experts report, “Scholars from Tel-Aviv University’s Center for Holocaust Studies have ominously described him [Ben Garrison] as the most racist man in the universe, and the biggest existential threat to the Jews since Hitler.”
This characterization runs counter to the dominant view that Garrison is “the Internet’s most trolled cartoonist.” According to a Breitbart article entitled “Ben Garrison: How the Internet Made a Fake White Supremacist”,
Montana-based artist Ben Garrison isn’t a violent Neo-Nazi, or even a white nationalist. He’s a polite, accomplished cartoonist, with no history of overt or covert racism. His true political leanings are libertarian, anti-elitist, and anti-globalist. Garrison is, in fact, the victim of one of the most extraordinary and longest-running smear campaigns on the internet.
For a mixture of amusement and spite, in a trolling spree that has lasted over six years, thousands of online pranksters and real neo-Nazis have been remixing his cartoons into racist caricatures. Most Ben Garrison cartoons attack the government, corporations, and political movements.
However, almost immediately after one is published, it is remixed into a new version that attacks Jews, African-Americans, or other minorities. These are rapidly disseminated in troll communities and sometimes become more widely-shared than the originals.
If Breitbart has it right and Tel-Aviv’s Center for Holocaust Studies has it wrong, then the real Ben Garrison could not have written the disgusting text that goes along with the offensive image of the cartoonist putting his victim in a headlock. If Ben Garrison is not to be understood as the kind of person who could have come up with the wording replicated and publicized by Amanda Hohmann, Daniel Leons-Marder,and B’nai Brith’s CEO, Michael Mostyn, then these individuals are involved in a telling case of false flag deception.
Given the nature of their dubious employment in what Norman Finkelstein has labeled the “Holocaust Industry,” I find it difficult to believe that these individuals as well as their bosses, underlings and associates were not aware of the controversy swirling around Ben Garrison. After all, I was able to discovered the basic outlines of the Garrison controversy in a few google searches after viewing the posts featuring Mostyn’s, Hohmann’s and Leons-Marder’s comments. Is this group merely incompetent? Are its members part of a concerted agenda to change the public policies of many agencies, including those of the Canadian government, Facebook and the University of Lethbridge, through calculated misrepresentations, frauds and incitements?
In an Internet post entitled “Ben Garrison on Trolls” the Montana cartoonist is said to speak for himself. Interestingly, Garrison’s observations begin with his reference to the very same Facebook reference to “community standards” that supposedly initiated the B’nai Brith’s slander of me.
“This page wasn’t removed. We reviewed the page you reported for harassment. Since it did not violate our community standards, we did not remove it. Thanks for your report.”
This is the message [writes Ben Garrison] I received after reporting a hate page on Facebook. Near the top of the hate page was a statement that encouraged the extermination of all Jews. Along with that statement was a photo of my face and the name Ben Garrison. Trolls had stolen my artwork and photos from my blog, my cartoon site as well as my fine art site and had concocted an entire page devoted to spewing libelous hate. The troll entity called the page ‘Ben Garrison Cartoons—the Official Site.’ The trolls had stamped the name ‘Ben Garrison’ onto as many hateful images as possible throughout the page. How does one stop such blatant libel? Where do these trolls come from? Is it even possible to track them down? Why do they do such terrible things? Why me?
As I found out, it’s not just me. Many others have suffered the same outrageous indignity. It appears that trolls are no longer content merely talk to each other on sordid sites such as ‘4chan’ or ‘Stormfront.’ They want to go mainstream. Therefore, social media are a natural target for them. Do they really believe the vitriolic memes they are shoveling, or are they merely playing an elaborate prank? It doesn’t matter. Their memes of hate must not go mainstream. Facebook must wake up and block the hate before it gets established. Hate speech is not free speech. Hate speech is blind, one-dimensional blackness. It is not reasoned debate. It loudly shouts for the murder of human beings and Facebook is providing them a megaphone for that purpose.
In my view the largest weight of available evidence points to the conclusion that Ben Garrison did not write the “Kill All Jews” commentary. If Ben Garrison did not write the planted text, then who did?
Could the B’nai Brith’s highlighted social media item have been produced by a Zionist group, agency or individual? Why might partisans of Israel do such a thing? Could it be to provide the ammunition for smear campaigns directed against individuals and groups that criticize Israel? Could it be to create incidents to justify appeals for money such as those accompanying the B’nai Brith’s slanderous posts aimed at damaging the reputation of the University of Lethbridge and my tenured academic role in it as a 26-year member of the Arts and Science Faculty?
Worse, much worse, can be envisaged. Could it be that the production and planting of the of the Ben Garrison post as well as others like it might be deployed to provide “evidence” in thought crime and speech crime litigation, the ultimate specialty and raison d’etre of the B’nai Brith? It is easy to imagine how such an outlandish and extravagant expression of hostility as that said to come from Garrison could be rendered useful to Crown prosecutors serving the Zionist masters.
Regardless of its source, there is no doubt that the Ben Garrison post could conceivably be exploited as a tailor made item to assist Crown prosecutors serving the agenda of B’nai Brith and related agencies. Such an item could definitely be deployed in a litigious assault on designated targets in order to establish webs of connection linking alleged hate speech with genocidal intent as well as the semantic nuke in the Zionist arsenal of weaponized words.
The conspiracy to advance the public perception that the engineered phrase, “holocaust denial,” has any internal and external coherence as an outlawed category of forbidden thought and speech runs absolutely contrary to the intellectual viability of the academy as well as the health of society more generally. The basic premise of the world’s most fraught term creates a false dichotomy that is coming to epitomize the decline of evidence-based rationality beneath the ascent of a new kind of orthodoxy combining both religious and secular elements.
Those that want to entrench and enforce an outlawed realm of forbidden thought and articulation brandish the weaponized term like an ideological sniper on steroids. They have no interest in providing definitions of where orthodoxy ends and where denial begins. As I am discovering by raising even a simple call for “open debate” on the main platform of Zionism’s unaccountable power, there are harsh new authoritarian forces that need to be called to account if we are even to slow down the police state incursions in our post-911 world.
The new configurations of authority are extending to important agencies like the Royal Canadian Legion, Jasper National Park, and the Alberta Society of Fiddlers. Those overseeing these important institutions are made to feel empowered to impose arbitrary sanctions and punishments against an individual who dared to question enshrined orthodoxy.
The message is made clear that the vibrance of art and culture, the wellbeing of veterans as well as the need to protect some of Alberta’s most majestic Alpine environments have become secondary commitments. The treatment in Jasper National Park of violinist Monika Schaefer signals the end of our free and democratic society. Our right and need to express independent thought, the starting point of collective self-determination, has has been sacrificed in order to enforce supine obedience to the sanctification of an historical interpretation that must not be held subjected to sceptical scrutiny and reconsideration.
How many are now being held, including some Canadians, in dark European dungeons for questioning any aspect of the unrelenting vilification of Germany as home of the most the most evil society of monsters ever to walk the face of the earth? Will we ever be able to liberate ourselves from the spell that is causing us to become so blind and unresponsive to the holocausts we ourselves are imposing on the natural world and also on the besieged worldwide community of our Muslim brothers and sisters?
What are the chances that the nuclear holocaust currently being promoted by our governors can be held back when those most intent on making war not peace are so firmly in charge? Is there a connection between the decline of the anti-war movement and the rise of the militarized police state currently deploying false flag-induced fears to constrain our ability to think, speak and act in conformity with the imperatives of survival? What we most require at this moment is simple affirmations of life’s beauty and integrity. Instead we are delivered coercive dictates demanding we deny what our reason and research tells us to be true.
How did we the academics, but especially we the historians, allow it to happen that a whole category of the European past has been declared off bounds to unfettered discussion and critical investigative scholarship? By allowing this development to proceed, a very sweeping and consequential precedent is being set.
How did we the citizens allow the principle to develop that government can declare that whole subject areas of research and publication have been so perfectly interpreted, so correctly dealt with in every detail, that no revision and modification of existing conclusions can be allowed. What is the role of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith in enforcing the ruthless bulldozing aside of the most basic foundations of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and adherence to rigorous standards of scientific inquiry.
The B’nai Brith and Ben Garrison, the poster boy for the Zionist organization’s hate speech campaign, are exactly on the same page when it comes to Facebook. Both Ben Garrison and the B’nai Brith seek to constrain free speech on the Internet more tightly. Is this convergence of agendas a coincidence or are more calculated deceptions at play here? To publicize his desire that Facebook be more proactive in censoring the Internet, Garrison produced the following cartoon.
Facebook and Israel; Ben Garrison and the B’nai Brith
My FFWN co-host, Dr. Kevin Barrett, has evaluated the evidence surrounding the Garrison post and concluded it was “very likely produced by B’nai Brith itself, or other Zionist extremists of like mind, as a PR operation. No wonder they are “monitoring” the police to make sure they behave themselves.”
Presenting his own version of the B’nai Brith’s highlighted image, Dr. Barrett continues
The absurd rant with its lurid references to “greedy hook-nosed kikes” and so on does not pass the smell test. Whoever created this image obviously did not do so with the intention of convincing the public to take action against Jews and/or Zionists. On the contrary, it appears to have been designed for the opposite purpose: To convince the public that crazed, foul-mouthed, murderous anti-Semites are a clear and present danger.
Virtually every time a swastika is spray painted on a synagogue, the culprit turns out to be a “self-hating” Jewish Zionist trying to conjure up the specter of an “anti-Semitic threat.” Would an investigation of the provenance of this image find something similar?
Dr. Barrett observes that“the manufactured incident smearing Tony Hall may be part of a coordinated program, orchestrated from Tel Aviv, to try to stop the rise of the ever-increasing virtual army of pro-Palestine social media users.”
As highlighted in Telesur, the government of Israel and Facebook have been represented at the highest level in a series of meetings aimed at conspiring to hold back the growing flood of social media posts subjecting Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinians to sceptical public scrutiny.
This recent development well demonstrates the specious nature of B’nai Brith’s characterization of Facebook as some kind of rogue agency unwilling to act immediately to pre-empt an existential threat emanating from Lethbridge. More likely the B’nai Brith’s alarmist posts in late August of 2016 were, in part at least, a ploy to divert attention from the reality that social media, but especially Facebook, is more and more being harnessed to Zionist goals and agendas.
Was the B’nai Brith’s deployment of the racist side of Ben Garrison’s dual public personae calculated to serve the double purpose of both smearing me and my school as well as leading interested parties to a surprising “libertarian” voice for the suppression of Internet freedom? What should be done about Internet trolls such as those at the B’nai Brith that have shown themselves to be unrelenting in planting lies and innuendo with the aim of silencing criticism of Israel?
Dr. Hall is editor in chief of American Herald Tribune. He is currently Professor of Globalization Studies at University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. He has been a teacher in the Canadian university system since 1982. Dr. Hall, has recently finished a big two-volume publishing project at McGill-Queen’s University Press entitled “The Bowl with One Spoon”.
HEBRON – Israeli forces reopened the northern entrance to the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron City on Thursday, after the road had been closed by Israeli authorities for four days to carry out maintenance work on an Israeli military watchtower stationed there.
Local activist Muhammad Ayad Awad said that the maintenance work expanded the military watchtower and narrowed the street, which is the main entrance to the village, to one lane instead of two lanes as before.
He said that the development will have a negative impact on the daily lives of Beit Ummar’s residents, forcing them to live under continuous Israeli surveillance and increase traffic congestion in the village.
Awad added that Israeli forces continued the closure of a sub-entrance near the village’s central vegetable market, which he said has been closed for five years.
The road was closed amid a heightened Israeli military presence in the Hebron district in the wake of a number of alleged attacks committed by Palestinians in the area, with the Israeli army adding an additional battalion to the district and setting up several road blocks throughout the district, while blocking off the village of Bani Naim and the Old City’s Tel Rumeida area entirely.
“Viva Palestina” is an enduring chant along with “Long Live Palestine” and “Long Live Gaza”, all of which are often used by human rights activists and others who want to show their support and goodwill for the long life and well-being of the state and its people. However, using such slogans and messages of solidarity could soon become a hate crime in Scotland, a nation which has often been praised for its refusal to give unconditional support to Israel and its brutal military occupation of Palestine.
To the astonishment of legal observers and human rights activists, a landmark trial is set to go ahead in Aberdeen after Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) member Alister Coutts, 56, was charged with “acting in a racially aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm”. His “crime” was to utter “Viva Palestina” next to the Jericho Cosmetics stall in the city’s Union Square shopping mall.
His arrest, charge and impending court appearance has now fuelled speculation that pro-Israel Zionist groups in Scotland are exerting undue pressure on the authorities to “get tough” with SPSC and other Palestinian-supporting groups. Following an initial crime investigation the police will send a report to the local Procurator Fiscal, who will consider the content and decide whether to take any further action.
While such decisions are said to be taken in the public interest, the disclosure of a host of secret email exchanges between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service on one hand, and Zionist organisations on the other, has alarmed SPSC, which says that they reveal the existence of a “cosy relationship” between the public prosecutor and the pro-Israel lobby in Scotland. The emails came to light after a Freedom of Information request was made to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Edinburgh. SPSC officials are now scrutinising the content of the dossier before making public its findings.
“It is extremely sinister for anyone to be charged with expressing the idea of saying ‘long live’ to a community,” commented SPSC co-founder Mick Napier. “The charge therefore seems to have a patina of wishing harm to the Palestinian people. If so, this is certainly breaking new ground in the Scottish legal system; that by saying ‘Viva Palestina’ you are considered to be attacking someone.”
After Coutts had said “Viva Palestina” a policeman arrived and ordered him to leave the shopping mall, a request which, his defence team will argue, was in itself illegal. As soon as he stepped outside, he was handcuffed, held for seven hours and charged.
“He is now deemed to be a racist for saying Viva Palestina in the vicinity of a cosmetics stall,” Napier pointed out. “In the meantime, we are examining what some might regard as the overly-chummy emails.”
The trial, expected to commence next month, comes amidst the backdrop of a nationwide campaign by SPSC against the Israeli-linked cosmetics firm Jericho SkinCare. The group accuses the firm of using minerals extracted from the Dead Sea on the coast of the illegally-occupied West Bank, which is Palestinian territory. SPSC notes that the extraction and commercialisation of resources from an occupied territory breaches UN conventions and it has launched a boycott campaign against a number of cosmetic firms linked to the practice and is lobbying for them to be removed from Scottish shopping centres.
According to Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Dead Sea products are linked closely to the commercial viability of Israel’s illegal settlements and are targeted as part of the global boycott movement. The organisation has produced a fact sheet outlining the legal position. Jericho SkinCare’s website states that the company’s products are “based on Dead Sea minerals”.
A Crown Office spokesman said that he was unable to comment on ongoing criminal cases [sic] but added: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service corresponds with many community and faith groups, particularly in relation to the impact of hate crime in their communities. All prosecution decisions are taken following an independent and thorough assessment of the available evidence.”
Let’s see what this translates to in practice.
Freshly purged from Labour, CHARLEY ALLAN calls for unity and calm at this weekend’s party conference opening
SO, I’ve been purged. My services to the Labour Party are no longer required. To all intents and purposes, I am an ex-member.
In an email on Wednesday evening, general secretary Iain McNicol informed me that I was in administrative suspension because of “comments you have made on social media, including between 10 April and 8 July 2016.”
I had half expected this. After reading and writing about so many members who had fallen foul of Labour’s retrospective “rudeness rules,” I knew a few of my own tweets might be flagged up — not to mention my weekly column.
It’s surely no coincidence that my ballot was already over three weeks late, despite multiple assurances from Labour that this was due to “admin error” and not because I was on any potential purge list.
Ironically, my re-reissued vote finally arrived by email on Wednesday afternoon, less than three hours before I received my suspension — the democratic equivalent of being dumped by text message.
I quickly discovered online that this was happening to lots of people, in what looks like a last-minute mega-purge for the final week of voting.
Conspiracies sprung up that Electoral Reform Services, which is responsible for this election, was telling Labour how everyone had voted, but the firm denies this — and to be fair most people make it pretty clear who they support online.
But even without the whiff of ballot-fishing, there’s something plain wrong about taking away a vote once it’s already been cast.
Labour’s had plenty of time to decide whether I’m worthy of membership. Disenfranchising me 10 days before the result simply adds insult to injury.
Going from the dates provided, it appears that my crimes include pointing out that Tony Blair had “hijacked” Labour in the past, calling non-specific MPs “traitors” and referring to “apartheid Israel” in both a tweet on April 10 and this column the next day.
While in hindsight I might have overused the T-word, especially on June 28 — aka “Coupsday Tuesday” — my Twitter comrade Angela McEvoy wrote it just once and still found herself suspended at the weekend. And the MPs themselves had taunted us as “Trots, rabble, dogs” for daring to rally around Jeremy Corbyn.
On Israel, I should’ve listened to myself — the piece in question warns: “Maybe I’ll be kicked out of Labour for saying all this.”
But the party’s rulebook makes it clear that members can’t be disciplined for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs or opinions,” so what else is going on?
My offending tweet took issue with former donor Michael Foster’s column that day in the Mail on Sunday, in which he accused Corbyn’s brother Piers of being a racist.
Foster, who failed in his High Court bid to keep Corbyn off the leadership ballot and was recently suspended for his “nazi stormtroopers” attack, objected to Piers tweeting: “Zionists can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine.”
The former showbiz agent’s logic went: “Try replacing the words ‘Zionists’ and ‘Palestine’ with ‘Blacks’ and ‘White South Africa’.”
OK then — “Blacks can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for White South Africa.”
Apart from not making sense, this inverts the correct analogy. When Jimmy Carter talks about apartheid in the Occupied Territories, he means that Palestinians suffer intolerable institutional discrimination by Israelis, not the other way round.
“White South Africa can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for Blacks” is much closer to the truth, as illustrated by the iconic 1984 photograph of a newly elected Corbyn being arrested in Trafalgar Square.
Maybe it was my hashtag #AntizionismIsNotAntisemitic that caused offence, in which case the piece itself should see me banned for life. Even so, they’ve had five months to let me know I’m not welcome.
In truth, the purge is out of control, but it’s heartwarming to see local Labour comrades — including my MP and councillors — rally round, as well as lovely Corbynistas online, many of whom are victims of the mass cull themselves.
As in other cases, prominent Corbyn-sceptics have shown solidarity in public, putting pressure on Owen “big M” Smith to speak out against the suspensions.
But the man himself seems more interested in tacitly defending the purge by fuelling suspicions that Momentum would be banned under his leadership, despite previous pleas to address its rallies.
“There is nothing comradely about setting up a party within a party,” Smith declared on Friday night, ignoring the Pfizer-funded influence of Blairite faction Progress.
“Momentum in Brighton and Liverpool — some of them exactly the same people as were in Militant all those years ago — organising to deselect a Labour MP,” he complained.
Calling for deselection is the new master-crime, yet everyone conveniently forgets Blair’s “show trials” against sitting left Labour MPs who were replaced by high-profile Progress members.
On Thursday, author Paul Mason was accused of bullying Labour Co-operative MP for Redcar Anna Turley by tweeting “deselect asap” in response to her defence of Tory ex-minister Anna Soubry.
Turley was one of several Smith-supporting MPs who tweeted their glee at Soubry’s spiteful attack on Question Time fellow panelist John McDonnell.
Soubry claimed female Labour MPs were “so frightened, humiliated, almost terrorised by Mr McDonnell and his gang they will leave politics,” adding that the shadow chancellor himself was “a nasty piece of work.”
Turley, who called Unite leader Len McCluskey an “arsehole” on Twitter in July but still has her vote, said Soubry “spoke the truth tonight” — prompting Mason to call for her deselection.
That’s not bullying or abuse, it’s part of the democratic process. If local members want to be represented by a different candidate at the next election, they have every right to make that decision, as does Mason to express his opinion.
What’s happened to the Labour Party — when eye-rolling isn’t allowed during debates, there’s a blanket ban on branch meetings and whole districts are suspended on trumped-up charges?
Loyal lifelong Labour members and supporters have been brought to tears by the smears, while the right’s plan is clearer than ever — provoke chaos at this weekend’s party conference opening.
However the vote goes, Corbynistas have to keep calm on Saturday.
Let’s just say the purge works and Smith steals this election — we would need an instant injunction and then ultimately be at the mercy of the Supreme Court, which wouldn’t look too kindly on a riot.
It’s far more likely that Corbyn will triumph, but his supporters are still outnumbered at conference — and under no circumstances should they be goaded by any angry, bitter and possibly drunk Owenites who don’t care about party unity and are looking to cause trouble.
Any violence in Liverpool, no matter who’s behind it, will be blamed on Momentum — and the right will use this as a pretext to proscribe the group and all its members.
We must also watch out for provocateurs in our own ranks, because spy cops aren’t only interested in trade unionists and environmental activists.
The world is watching and we can’t let Corbyn down.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan.
University of California, Berkeley, has reinstated a course on Palestine that was cancelled under pressure from pro-Israel groups, according to a press release.
Palestine Legal said, according to WAFA, that the university reinstated the student-led course titled “Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis”, following an outcry from students and faculty describing the action as a violation of academic freedom, shocking, and unjustifiable.
Palestine Legal also sent a letter to the university chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, on behalf of Paul Hadweh, the student giving the course, warning that the suspension infringed on First Amendment rights and principles of academic freedom.
Following the outcry, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, Carla Hesse, announced in a statement that the course is reinstated.
“I hope we can now focus on the challenging intellectual and political questions that this course seeks to address,” said Hadweh, a senior student and course facilitator whose family is originally from Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.
“I await an apology from Chancellor Dirks, and Dean Hesse,” explained Hadweh. “The university threw me under the bus, and publicly blamed me, without ever even contacting me. It seems that because I’m Palestinian studying Palestine, I’m guilty until proven innocent. To defend the course, we had to mobilize an international outcry of scholars and students to stand up for academic freedom. This never should have happened.”
Liz Jackson, staff attorney with Palestine Legal who represents Paul Hadweh, added, “This is a victory for Paul who spent eight months going through all the recommended and mandated procedures to facilitate a course. It’s also a victory for the 26 students who enrolled and had their academic studies severely disrupted, and for students and scholars across the U.S. who are facing a coordinated attack on the right to speak and study freely about Palestine-Israel.”
Echoing the concerns of Israel advocacy groups, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks had justified the suspension with concern that Hadweh’s course “espoused a single political viewpoint and appeared to offer a forum for political organizing.”
Jackson explained, “The university’s response should have been that academic freedom protects the rights of faculty and students to tackle difficult and even controversial questions. The extra scrutiny on scholarship relating to Palestine is obvious here. The university does not censor Israeli studies classes because they have a ‘political agenda’ or ‘ignore history’, although that case can also be made.”
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “the new face of terrorism” in New York on Sunday.
Speaking at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in New York, Shaked said, “The BDS is illegitimate. I define it thus: BDS is another branch of terrorism in the modern age.”
The BDS movement is a global campaign to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land through the boycott of Israeli goods and services, the divestment of funds and, in theory, sanctions.
Shaked claimed that the aim of the BDS movement was to “to wipe Israel off the map.”
As the decade-long movement gains momentum, Israel has pushed back against it with increasing determination.
“Sometimes the BDS movement’s funding sources are identical to those funding the terrorist organisations,” Shaked told the New York crowd. “This is the new face of terrorism.”
Shaked, a conservative member of Israel’s government who does not believe in a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, has made controversial statements in the past.
In, 2014 she was accused of inciting genocide with a Facebook post which quoted a Jewish settler, “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
Shaked reminded the crowd about 9/11, and said that the terrorism which has taken place in Jerusalem, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Brussels, Istanbul “is the same terrorism.”
The minister went on to tell the crowd that Israel and the rest of the world are all “fighting against extreme Islamic terrorism.”
The justice minister expressed concern that young Jewish people are “confused and are led astray” by BDS, claiming that they are being tricked by “terrorists from radical Islam.”
She congratulated states in the US that have adopted legislation against BDS and expressed hope that others would follow suit and make BDS illegal.
A detailed account of money and property seized by the New York Police Department is essentially impossible, an official says, as a comprehensive effort to report how much money the NYPD takes during arrests would “lead to system crashes.”
The New York City Council is considering a bill that would require the NYPD to offer annual reports of how much money and property it collects as potential evidence through the process of civil forfeiture. The bill aims to make civil forfeiture more transparent, but the NYPD claims it has no idea how much money it seized from New Yorkers and others it arrested last year.
Late last week, in testimony to the city council’s Public Safety Committee, NYPD Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner said detailing department seizures is technologically unworkable based on limitations of the NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS).
“Attempts to perform the types of searches envisioned in the bill will lead to system crashes and significant delays during the intake and release process,” said Messner, according to the Village Voice. “The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year.”
PETS was put in place in 2012, yet NYPD officials told the council last week that the system is too antiquated to meet the demands of the proposed transparency bill. Upon installation of PETS, however, the NYPD touted it as able to offer “the cradle-to-grave life cycle of property and evidence… visible upon demand,” and entered the system into the 2012 Computerworld Honors, which acknowledges “those who use Information Technology to benefit society,”according to Ars Technica.
When asked by the council whether they had come to the hearing with any kind of idea of how much money the NYPD actually seized last year, the officials said they did not.
“I find it strange that the most technologically sophisticated police force in the world cannot track its own property seizures. I just have trouble imagining that that’s the case,” said city councilmember Ritchie Torres during the hearing. “I’m skeptical about the NYPD’s testimony.”
To retrieve money or property, the defendant, whether or not they were charged with the crime they were accused of, must supply their own lawyer given the seizure is done through civil, not criminal, courts. Thus, the civil-forfeiture retrieval process is one most people cannot afford.
The NYPD did say during the hearing that, in 2015, more than $11,650 was legally forfeited, in which the NYPD made the case to a court why it should keep an amount of seized assets. But much more money is kept by the NYPD, given the process it takes to retrieve money or property seized by police as evidence is nearly impossible unless one has the wealth and legal resources to navigate the department’s administrative requirements for retrieval.
“Can a lay person be reasonably expected to defend themselves against the NYPD in their efforts to retrieve their property?” Torres asked Bronx Defenders attorney Adam Shoop during the hearing, according to Village Voice.
Shoop responded: “I don’t think a person can reasonably be expected to go through any of the administrative steps required to go about retrieving their property.”
The Bronx Defenders defense lawyers offer legal representation to low-income New Yorkers.
Though the NYPD says true reports of its seizures is next to impossible, Bronx Defenders admitted documents as part of its testimony detailing NYPD’s own accounting figures of such seizures. Those documents show that the NYPD had nearly $69 million in cash from seizures as of December 2013. That amount had been seized over a number of years, as the documents showed that the department brought in millions in revenue each month.
While NYPD officials maintained that the department’s technology is incapable of meeting the bill’s demands, they said the NYPD is willing “to work with the Council to achieve the goal of the bill,” Village Voice reported.
In January, the Bronx Defenders filed a federal lawsuit — Encarnacion v. City of New York — that challenged the NYPD’s civil-forfeiture process. The lawsuit, which has now reached class-action status, alleged that the NYPD’s failure to return items it seized related to cases that have been terminated is a violation of constitutional rights.
“Once a criminal case is over, the US Constitution does not permit the City to withhold someone’s personal property without justification,” attorney Eric Brenner said in June. “This City’s current policies violate the basic rights of individuals who need the cash and phones that the City is refusing to return.”
Bronx Defenders’ Molly Kovel added: “For people without access to an attorney, the hurdles they face to get their property back are simply too high, and they often give up. We hope this case leads to much-needed reform.”