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The West Spreading New Wave of Feel-Good Movies and False Hopes

By Andre Vltchek | New Eastern Outlook | 27.05.2017

Watch blockbuster movies from the “south” and chances are you will start to believe that the world is not really such a desperate place. Perhaps you might even get convinced that under the present imperialist and turbo-capitalist global arrangement things can always get better. If you live in a gutter somewhere in Sub-Continent or Africa, you could simply try hard, you could “believe in yourself and love yourself”, you could “listen to your instincts”, and everything may eventually fall into the right places. You could get acknowledged, rewarded and even catapulted from your misery into some plush pastures that are covering the tall green hills of success.

Think twice! Or… don’t think at all – just bury your head in the sand.

There were always books written and films produced just in order to please the Western funding agencies and propaganda machine. I described the process, colorfully, in my recent political/revolutionary novel “Aurora”.

Just think about Kite Runner written by an Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, or about all those bestsellers by Salman Rushdie or Elif Shafak, books about India or Turkey, but intended almost exclusively for a Western audience, and often despised in their native countries.

The works of Rushdie and Shafak can at least qualify as “literature”. But now both the Western markets and mainstream media are demanding more and more of ‘feel good’ rubbish books and movies from poor countries, more and more of those simple, picturesque and ‘positive’ stories that are actually confusing and give false hopes to the local population of many poor countries.

Do you still remember Slumdog Millionaire? How realistic a scenario was that? First of all, it was not even an Indian film; it was a 2008 British movie, directed by Danny Boyle, who also had directed Trainspotting. It took place in the Juhu slum of Mumbai.

In 2011, I filmed in the same Mumbai slum where the movie was produced. I asked many, how likely was such a ‘success scenario’ in that filthy and hopeless neighborhood? The dwellers of the Juhu slum just dismissed the entire charade with derogatory gestures; why even waste precious words?

Now more films are coming – more and more… and more! Feel good; feel very good about the world! Drop a few tears as you are departing from the cinema. Utter under your breath: “Everything is possible.” Collaborate with the establishment. Forget about the revolution, think ‘positively’ (the way the system wants you to think) and above all, think about yourself!

A film about a real Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, created by the Indian director Mira Nair (Fire, Water among her other work), Queen of Katwe, is a tour-de-force of true individualism. And again, if you think you are actually watching a Ugandan or even Indian film, you are squarely wrong: it is supposed to feel like an African one, but it is a US movie, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. And it is actually intended and even proudly promoted as a “feel good movie”.

The plot is simple and predictable: a little girl grows up in total misery, in one of the toughest slums of Africa – Katwe, at the outskirts of Kampala. Her father has already died of AIDS, her mother is unable to pay the rent, and her older sister is barely surviving as a prostitute. Phiona, just 10-years old, is forced to drop from school.

Her life is approaching total collapse. But then, suddenly, a miracle! Hallelujah!

Phiona enrolls in a state-sponsored chess program. She is talented. She climbs and climbs, soon travelling to Sudan by a plane, and a few months later, even to Russia.

It is supposed to be a ‘true story’. And yes, there was a poor girl, growing up in a Ugandan slum. She was talented although she never reached the zenith, and never won any gold medal. In the film, she wins tournaments, makes loads of cash, and buys a villa (looking like a palace), for her family.

Is this what young poor girls watching the film in the Katwe slum should be aiming at? Would such a dream be realistic, or is this an absolute mirage?

I also filmed in Katwe, for my damning documentary Rwanda Gambit. And when I was a young kid, I could pass for a talented chess player, taking part in several tournaments and competitions. Somehow, the film – Queen of Katwe – did not make any sense. To become chess champion takes much more than some luck and zeal. Like a concert pianist, a chess player has to spend years and years of hard training, literally killing himself or herself, to play at a certain level.

When I was a kid, my father, a scientist, was obsessed with turning me into a champ. Frankly, I was not too interested, although I worked hard, for years. I won a few medals, but never went further. Could Phiona, hungry, almost without a roof over her head, become a grand master, just after a few months of unhurried coaching?

I wish she could. But I doubt it, knowing Uganda, knowing its slums, fully realizing how merciless their reality really is, and of course, knowing chess.

Who benefits from such films? Definitely not the poorest of the poor, and definitely not Indians or Africans!

It appears that the only beneficiaries are those people who are trying to uphold the status quo, in the West and in the colonies. They don’t want people to realize: that there is almost no hope left, and only some radical change, a revolution, can reverse and improve things in their plundered countries.

A revolution is a ‘communal’ event. It is never about one person suddenly advancing, or getting ‘rescued’ or ‘saved’. It is not about one person or one family ‘making it’. It is about an entire nation fighting for its rights, for progress, and it is about social justice for all.

Little ‘success stories’ actually divide communities, offering false hopes.

Phiona’s story coming from pro-Western, turbo-capitalist Uganda, has nothing in common with the great communal projects in Venezuelan slums: like the classical Youth Orchestras, or cable cars, childcare centers, public libraries, community learning centers, and free medical posts.

No matter how ‘lovely’ is Mira Nair’s cinematography, winning the lottery, or getting lucky here and there, is not going to change the entire country. That is exactly why those small individualist acts and triumphs are being celebrated and glorified in the centers of Western imperialism. There, no real change is ever welcomed, whether it takes place at home or in the colonies. On the other hand, all selfish little victories are treated as sacred. One should live for himself or herself, disregarding the context.

How many other deeply ‘positive-thinking’/ unrealistic/ ‘feel-good’/ ‘false-hope’ films have I seen, lately? Many. For instance Lion, a 2016 Australian/UK co-production, about a poor Indian boy who jumps on a train, loses his hometown, and eventually gets adopted by a loving and dedicated Australian family.

It looks like a downpour, an avalanche of similar films and books and news stories. It looks like some kind of new wave of ‘positive thinking’, or ‘there is nothing really too wrong with our world that couldn’t be fixed by some personal luck and individualism’ dogma. Most of the stuff is somehow connected to the epicenter of Western ideological indoctrination – the United Kingdom (a country, which is successfully nullifying all revolutionary zeal of its own citizens, of the immigrants arriving from desperate and colonized countries, and even those people who live in despair in various far away places).

The West is busy manufacturing ‘pseudo reality’. And in this grotesque pseudo-reality, several deprived individuals like starving chess players, street vendors and slum dwellers are suddenly becoming rich, successful and fulfilled. Millions of others, all around them, continue to suffer. But somehow, they don’t seem to matter much.

There is a new celebrity group in making – let’s call them the ‘glamorous poor’. Those ‘exceptional individuals’, the glamorous poor, are easy to digest, and even to celebrate in the West. They are swiftly and cheerfully integrating into the ‘mainstream’ club of the global ‘go getters’ and narcissist rich.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

Ma’an – May 27, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month.

Palestinian leaders have applauded the prisoners’ “victory,” saying that the agreement represents an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe and head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Qaddura Fares said in a joint statement that the prisoners suspended the “Freedom and Dignity,” following more than 20 hours of negotiations between IPS and Marwan Barghouthi — the imprisoned Fatah leader who has been the primary leader of the mass strike, and other prison leaders in Ashkelon prison.

The statement added that IPS officials announced the end of the strike after negotiating with Barghouthi, who IPS had consistently refused to speak with throughout the strike’s duration, as hunger strikers had meanwhile refused to enter negotiations without the presence of Barghouthi.

The joint statement did not mention which of the hunger strikers’ demands were actually met by Israeli prison authorities.

An IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that the agreement was forged between the Israeli state, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Palestinian Authority (PA), granting prisoners a second monthly family visit to be funded by the PA .

The move effectively reinstated the number of family visits that were traditionally provided to Palestinian prisoners, before the ICRC reduced the number of visit they facilitated last year from two to one visit a month, sparking protests across the Palestinian territory.

The IPS spokesperson confirmed that Barghouthi was part of the agreements, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.

The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners who had remained on strike to the 40th day had ended their hunger strikes, and the 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether any of the other demands were met, which also included the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners were transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were puking blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.

Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), released a statement on Saturday, saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”

“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.

As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions.

Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures, including punishing hunger strikers with the use of solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders, most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.

“The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

The statement also went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina.

“The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.

Spokesperson for the PA Youssef al-Mahmoud also congratulated the hunger strikers on “achieving their demands.”

“Our heroic prisoners achieved a new victory in their legenday resistance,” he said, adding that the government would continue its efforts to “guarentee that all Palestinian prisoners are freed without exceptions or conditions.”

He also called for the ending of political divisions in Palestine and to work on regaining national unity to support Palestinians who are facing challenges.

Meanwhile, member of Fatah’s central committee Jamal Muheisin and Qaraqe held a press conference at Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah to announce the “victory” of the hunger strike.

The national committee formed to support the hunger strike also released a statement saying that the hunger strikers had achieved a “legendary triumph forcing the occupation government to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike and Marwan Barghouthi after having refused to negotiate for 40 days.”

The statement highlighted that the “epic hunger strike” brought back unity between Palestinians in Israeli prisons and revived the spirit of national solidarity, which has succeeded in “thwarting the occupation’s plots”.

The statement added that more information regarding the details of the agreement between IPS officials and the hunger strikers would be released later on Saturday.

Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have underwent numerous hunger strikes since the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, with several hunger strikers being killed during strikes owing to Israeli policies of force-feeding the prisoners.

Their demands have ranged from insisting on better quality prison food to ending torture in Israeli prisons.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of April, most of whom are being held inside the Israeli territory in contravention to international law which forbids holding Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza outside the occupied territory.

While Israeli authorities label Palestinians as “security prisoners,” activists and rights groups have long considered Palestinians held in Israeli custody as political prisoners, and have routinely condemned Israel’s use of prison as a means of dismembering Palestinian political and social life in the occupied territory.

Addameer has reported that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

“Is free-speech really worth all this hassle?” – Gaby Hinsliff

By Kit | OffGuardian | May 26, 2017

I’ve never written a response to a Gaby Hinsliff column before. I’ve never felt the need. In much the same way that I’ve never written an online review of sliced bread or an essay about cardboard. It’s… there, I suppose, and it does a job, but it’s hardly worth getting excited about.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Mahatma Gandhi

The Manchester bombing was “let happen” by MI5 because of the Conservative party’s disastrous dip in the polls. That was the theory tweeted by Rufus Hound, a comedian. As theories go, and it is still just a theory at this early stage, it’s not at all outlandish. History is full of precedents of power structures making people believe they are under threat in order to secure their position. As Hound succinctly put it, #Reichstagfire.

The bombing, whether real or staged or allowed to happen or planned by MI5, will allow May to talk about strength and stability some more, allow the Tory’s to attack Corbyn on the grounds of being “soft on terrorism”, and distract everyone from the conservative plans to sell everything in the country that isn’t nailed down, arrest anyone that isn’t a member of a golf club, and levy hefty taxes on bedsits, old-age and despair.

If you find yourself reading this and thinking, “Well, I guess that’s possible,” I have some bad news for you: You are a dangerous, delusional moron.

At least, according to Gaby Hinsliff.

Mr Hound posited a theory, one with which Ms Hinsliff disagrees. In a rational world what would follow is a balanced exchange of ideas. Rhetoric, debate, discourse. These are the tools that make a society great, right?

Instead we get roughly 2000 words of insults, innuendo and fallacy. Her defence of Theresa May’s morality is a wondrous example of double-think:

This isn’t just silliness crowned with ill-judged Nazi references. It’s using a public platform to baselessly suggest that loved ones could be alive today had the Tories not been desperate to win an election. Before eventually apologising and deleting the exchange, Hound explained that “I struggle believing our establishment is incapable of great evil” – as if one comedian’s struggle with his own addled beliefs was reason enough to allege complicity in mass murder.

Clearly facts are too burdensome to carry when storming uphill to capture moral high ground, because Hinsliff seems to forget: May’s “complicity” in mass murder does not need to be “alleged”. It is an historical fact.

As an MP, May supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.The final count on the number of dead Iraqi children as a result of that war is still unclear, however most reasonable estimates put it somewhere north of 22. Likewise Libyan children. And Afghan children. And Syrian children. In fact, Theresa May has actually never once voted AGAINST military intervention of any kind.

Theresa May is absolutely FINE with blowing up children, and has never given us any reason think she sees our children as more precious than their children. That Hinsliff can so easily, comfortably, make that distinction says more about her own mind than anything else.

Even if you buy into the (vaguely racist) assumed distinction between children born in Baghdad and children born in Manchester, any defence of May’s morality – or the morality of the conservative party as a whole – begins and ends with their domestic policies. People have died after being deemed “fit for work”. Old, sick, disabled, injured people are denied care and security, while £350 billion pounds is spent on a machine for setting the world on fire.

Any argument based on the assumed morality of power structures is illogical, an example of what they call the Divine Fallacy or the argument to incredulity. An argument based on the morality of this Tory government? That is nothing short of absurd.

Her vaguely directed bile would carry more weight (maybe) if she could at least demonstrate she had even the slightest idea what she was talking about:

Social media is littered with amateur “truthers” who once watched a YouTube video about Noam Chomsky’s theory of false flags, and now see conspiracies lurking under every bed.

I’m not sure what a “professional” truther would be, aren’t all people naturally inclined to want to know the truth? That said, even the most cursory of google searches would have taught her that Noam Chomsky’s “theory of false flags” is that “they don’t really happen and even if they do who cares”.

I realise that, as a journalist, Ms Hinsliff is imbued with a natural contempt for the truth, and I understand that writing a column without researching your ideas is much, much easier, but it’s hardly right she should flaunt it. At least a passing veneer of competence would make the Guardian’s (increasingly desperate) pleas for money so much more effective.

Bizarrely, she is so incredibly bad at making her argument, she accidentally makes the opposite case:

It’s not unreasonable to think an election fought in the shadow of a terrorist threat could help the traditional party of law and order, and the state did collude with paramilitaries in Northern Ireland; besides, the government’s emergency Cobra committee meets in secret, so can anyone outside the room really know what happened?

This paragraph is just delightfully odd, it seems to be heading towards a “BUT” that never arrives. Hinsliff lays out all the (perfectly reasonable) logic behind suspecting government involvement, and then just leaves an ellipsis on the end, hoping we can come to the “right” conclusions all on our own.

The equivalent of a defense attorney, at a murder trial, beginning his final statement to the jury with:

“Yes, obviously, my client had every reason in the world to want the victim dead, and yes, he has undeniably killed people before. And, true, he can’t account for his whereabouts on the night in question.”

… and then just sitting down without another word.

Apparently, when Hinsliff writes about “reversing the burden of proof”, she means she’s going to start proving herself wrong and saving everybody else the trouble. Very considerate of her.

“But where is all this going?”, you might ask. What, indeed, is her point?

Like mushrooms, conspiracy theories grow in the dark. But mushrooms also need manure, which is where social media comes in.

There it is. Beneath all the rambling about Diana, and the Moon Landings, and Noah Pozner, what we have here is yet another attack on the internet, and the ability of people who lack the “journalistic and regulatory processes” of the mainstream media to say things with which Ms Hinsliff (and her colleagues) are paid to disagree.

The internet’s magical power – that by expanding social circles to millions worldwide it allows the like-minded to find each other, however esoteric their interests – is also its sickness. There is no belief so repellent that it cannot find an echo somewhere online, and feel normalised…. Paedophiles are emboldened to learn just how many others secretly fantasise about sex with children, leading one another on to ever more violent obscenities.

This not-so-subtle concomitance of paedohilia and anti-establishment political ideals aside, this is at last an honest expression of a justly held fear. The internet is a threat – as an open network of person-to-person communication, it really sticks in the media’s collective craw. As such, it is blamed and bad mouthed at every corner.

That’s not to say that Rufus Hound was right or wrong. I’m not writing in defence of conspiracy theories per se. Maybe every conspiracy theory is wrong. Maybe Oswald was guilty as hell and physics stopped working on 9/11. Or maybe John Lennon is still alive and Stanley Kubrick directed the moon landings. It’s immaterial. This goes beyond that. This is about free speech, and the right to be wrong.

Unless we stand up for each other’s right to hold, and express opinions – even wrong opinions – then no opinions will ever be safe. Because when they clamp-down on the internet, it won’t be truth that decides what stays and what goes, but political convenience, and unless we defend all of it, none of it is safe.

In the past few months the internet’s lack of regulation has been blamed for Clinton’s loss of the election, for Russia’s “spreading influence” and for the proliferation of “fake news”.

In the past week alone, the Guardian has been running articles on Facebook’s lack of moderation. How they promote child abuse, misogyny and holocaust denial. Already Theresa May has called on tech companies to “do more” to combat online extremism.

They blame it for paedophilia, terrorism, sexism, racism. Drugs are dealt, threats are issued, abuse hurled. The internet is a playground, as David Thorne said, but apparently it’s one of those rusty, graffiti-ridden playgrounds where nice kids shouldn’t go. Tear it down. Pave it over.

Cure society’s ills by making it smaller, more isolated and much, much easier to control.

Maybe I’m just getting middle-aged. But there are weeks when [arguing with conspiracy theorists] seems an inordinately high price to pay for a convenient means of swapping gossip and cat videos.

Isn’t free speech difficult? Isn’t it all just so much hassle? Wouldn’t it be SO much easier if we could just stomp it all out? Yes, obviously, fewer cat videos would be a shame, but think of the benefits – a nice safe world, full of nice safe pre-approved thoughts. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

This sentence does more than give us a fleeting glimpse at the author’s complete lack of imagination, it shows… again… where the establishment’s crosshairs are trained. And it’s on us. At OffGuardian and the hundreds of sites like us. At the minor celebrities tweeting reasonable (but forbidden) thoughts to groups of followers “more than double the circulation of a national broadsheet newspaper”. We’re all talking to each to other now, bypassing the established and approved lines of communication.

And it’s causing no end of trouble.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Hassan Nasrallah on the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners and international hypocrisy

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 2, 2017, on the occasion of the Day of the Wounded

Transcript:

[…] Two words on the general situation (in the Middle East).

The first thing to be said about the general situation in the region concerns the struggle for freedom and dignity that 1500 Palestinian prisoners are leading and… we are today on the 16th day of their hunger strike, with a supportive response from the Palestinian street, inside (occupied Palestine) and outside, towards this movement.

As usual, we naturally support and unite with them, and we announce our firm and total solidarity with this action of jihad and strong resistance by Palestinian prisoners for their legitimate and natural demands. But we want to learn from what is happening there.

In this first point concerning the situation of the region, I have two points.

First, I want to learn the lessons on which we can build a permanent political path. Well, on the opposite side, Israel turns a deaf ear… They are not ready to negotiate or to respond to the demands. The demands of the prisoners are not the liberation of Palestine nor the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). The prisoners’ demands concern the natural rights of all prisoners, humanitarian rights. Israel is turning a deaf ear and, as usual, relies on the passing of time, the weariness, and the withdrawal of Palestinian prisoners, hoping that this movement will be nothing but a vain eruption.

Nothing else can be expected of Israel, the usurping, terrorist, occupying enemy. But look at the rest of the world. Look at the rest of the world. Where are the Arab regimes? Where are the Arab peoples? Where is the Union of Arab Countries? Where is the Organization of Islamic States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation? Where is the world? Where is Europe? Where is the West? Where is the UN? Where’s the Security Council? All those who often get angry at the most trivial stories that happen in this or that place of the world, where are they? We are on the 16th day, and nothing happens in the world, nothing at all.

For the commemoration of the martyr leaders, I stirred up the roses’ pot, when I said that they brought us, the Arab world and the region, to the point where Palestine became the forgotten cause. This is proof.

Today, tell me where the kings and the Arab presidents are. Soon, it will be said that the Sayed (Nasrallah) attacks the kings and Arab presidents. Where are the Arab regimes? Where is the Union of Arab Countries? Where is the serious reaction, where are the real pressures? The pressure on your American friends, the pressure on your European friends?… Where are the organizations for the defense of human rights? Where is the Arab voice? Where are the Arab media? Where are the Arabic TV channels? Where are the Arabian pens?

If this happens, oh my brothers and sisters, if this was happening in a country that was not allied or aligned with the United States, allied or aligned with the West, you would have seen the whole world rise (of indignation) without sitting back. I do not even say whether it was in Iran, Syria or I do not know where. In any country that is not aligned with the United States and the West, which is not subject to their will and diktat, which is not part of their project, you would have seen the Council of Security, the UN, the White House, foreign ministers, human rights organizations and the whole world stand up. Not on the 16th day, from the first hour. And the state or government that refuses to negotiate with these prisoners and respond to their demands would have been accused of aggression, cruelty, inhuman treatment, oppression, torture, tyranny, and so on.

But it is Israel, the spoiled child of the United States, the advanced military base of the West in our region… (So) no!… Let Netanyahu do what he wants. Let him take his ease, he has all his time. No problem. Just as he had absolutely all the time in the world for the wars against Gaza. He has all his time once again, whether it be for the question of prisoners or any other; for the question of colonies or any other.

Well, if we’re trying to collect comparable evidence, whether it’s less than a year ago, or since 2003, in Iraq, since 2003, Takafi terrorist organizations have carried out thousands of suicide operations, not to mention the others operations, and they killed Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, they did not spare anyone in the Iraqi people. And daily massacres, to the point that car bombs have become a normal and natural daily occurrence in Iraq. And the world (whole) remains silent. And the world knows who supports them, who finances them, who protects them, and who helps them in the media so far: there are Arab channels which, in this battle of Mosul, are with ISIS. They are not with the Iraqi government or the Iraqi forces. And the whole world says nothing of all these helpers, supporters, assistants, media protectors, funders and facilitators (of ISIS). Why? Because the Iraqi people must be subjugated, humiliated, silenced and integrated into this (American) project.

Well, let’s consider Yemen. A few days ago, the UN Secretary-General read a speech of mourning, saying that while we are talking, 50 Yemeni children are dying. Well, the whole world speaks of millions of people threatened by famine in Yemen. While the whole world knows who is besieging Yemen, who bombards Yemen, who starves Yemen. Does anyone dare open his mouth (about it)? Does anyone dare to talk?

And if I begin to describe things as they are, I am told that I jeopardize tourism in Lebanon. If I say what the whole world knows, that Saudi Arabia and its allies are besieging, starving and killing the Yemeni people every day and every night, I am accused of jeopardizing tourism in Lebanon. A simple word of truth (is worth this accusation). But a world that remains silent in the face of millions of people dying of hunger, what does the death of thousands of people killed and bombed mean to him, and hundreds of thousands injured? How could they matter to them? Although the whole world and the UN recognize this situation. Simply because it is Saudi Arabia, the ally of the United States, the West, who pays fortunes, the hundreds of billions of dollars that it pays to the United States. And Trump is coming now to take from them the money they have left.

But as for the poor Yemeni people, they have no money to pay to the United States, they have no money to pay to Trump, they have no money to pay to the British prime minister or to the French President so that they move and say “Enough, we will end the siege, the war and the aggression against Yemen.”

Well, let’s look at Syria. A few days ago, a massacre was perpetrated against the inhabitants of Fou’a and Kafraya who left their besieged towns in the Al-Rachidin district at the entrance to the city of Aleppo. A bloodthirsty suicide bomber came with a van, and attacked the bus convoy. What was in the convoy? 5,000 civilians, an overwhelming majority of civilians, most of whom were women and children. In short, the attack caused hundreds of martyrs, wounded and disappeared. What did the world do? What did it do?roo

In the agreement, the Syrian State and ourselves have guaranteed the safety of the evacuees (of the terrorist enclaves of) Madaya, Zabadani, Biqqin, Sarghaya, Blodan and Borj Blodan, so that they be conveyed to a safe point beyond the city of Aleppo. Imagine that a person (there are no suicide bombers in our camp), by mistake, took a machine gun and fired (on their convoy), or fired a RPG rocket on a bus and killed a certain number of persons. Who would have spared us (his condemnations)? Who would have spared the Syrian army, Hezbollah and the parties that guaranteed this agreement? The Security Council, the US, Trump and the whole world would have entered in a great anger, and may even have launched an air attack (against Syria).

So look at the existing situation, the actual situation. Of course, I do not bring anything new. I only want to confirm a long-established idea, which is confirmed every day, every day, every day, in the face of the people opposing our point of view, whom we would like to see bring us the least evidence, the least element (which confirms their vision).

But when the Khan Sheikhoun event happened and the regime was accused of using chemical weapons, well, guys, do an investigation, but they do not want to do anything, no investigation. My dear friends, who proved that the regime really used chemical weapons? Yes, he did (so they say). Well, what is the proof? No one has any evidence. Well, are these images that have circulated, are they made up or is it the truth? Nobody knows. Well, send a commission of inquiry, for example, Russia, Iran, other countries of the world… Oh, we’re just asking for a commission of inquiry, but the US does not want a commission of inquiry. They do not accept inquiry! We just want to know the truth, in order to condemn the criminal who used chemical weapons, whoever he may be. But they refuse any commission of inquiry.

On the contrary, from the very first moment, Trump and the American administration, as usual, established themselves as Attorney General, Investigator, Judge and Executioner, and they came to strike at Shu’eirat airport, and considered to have achieved a great feat. And congratulations began to be fired from all sides, from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, some Gulf countries, political forces (who said) “Congratulations, God bless you and reward you, give you a fine end And increase your resources.” Is it not what they told them?

Well, on what basis? For the one who is targeted here (Bashar al-Assad) is not a collaborator, a follower or a submissive, they want to subjugate, humiliate and break him. This is the equation.

Today, if we came to any corner of a country not aligned with the USA, and imagine there was a city completely besieged, with hundreds of men and women standing under the sun, day and night, to protect a pure man, a great scholar in Bahrain, His Eminence Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassem, and this for 7 or 8 months, soon a year, in a very severely besieged region. It is a forgotten thing, which does not interest anyone in the world. Because these people are in a subdued, aligned, part of the (American) project, and therefore no pressure will be exerted on the issue. Why would they ask them anything? They will be congratulated instead for the beautiful kohl of their eyes, and will be told “Very well, continue.”

That’s it. It is not necessary that I multiply the examples, I was rather long already, but the conclusion that must be drawn is this: O our brothers, O our sisters, O our people (and we express ourselves with experience, and these examples only confirm the idea, which is ours from the beginning), today if our territory is liberated, if our prisoners in the Israeli jails have returned (there are still files awaitng), if our country is free in the face of Israeli threats, no one has played any role in this, neither the UN Council, the US, the West, the Union of Arab International resolutions or anyone at all.

It is thanks to you alone, the noble people, the Army, the People and the Resistance, the martyrs, the wounded. Today, if Lebanon enjoys freedom, dignity and security, it is thanks to your lofty souls, your wounded bodies, the pure blood of your martyrs, and the blood of your bodies, which was poured on the land of that country and in that region. Only, only, only (thanks to you and no one else).

Do not expect anything from this world, this international community, America and the West, do not expect justice, impartiality, or the recognition of truth. That does not mean we do not ask for it, but we do not expect anything. And in any case, we do not regret that they ignore us, that they do not take the required position and that they exert no pressure (on the oppressors). For basically they are the enemy, so beware of them! The basis of our ills is them. The very people we are asking for positions, declarations and measures are the problem at the first level. As for the others, they are merely instruments, they merely follow, they are merely the pawns of a game of chess which serve the projects of domination of our countries. What do they want, friends? They want to plunder our choices, our resources, our oil, our gas, and now they want to plunder us more. We do not have time to talk about the new American policy: more obvious looting, explicit looting.

It is therefore necessary that we rely on our presence in the squares and fields (of battle), on our strength. What I have always said to you today, all the events and developments that are happening, I repeat to you again: we live in a world of wolves. There is no international law, there is only the law of the jungle. The strong eats the weak. If we are weak, we shall be eaten. If we are stronger, the world will respect us.

When we have a weight on equations and interests… This world seeks interests, it does not seek principles or values. Therefore, our strength is there, our interests are there, and our destiny and our future stop at our strength, our unity, our presence, the endurance of our people, the conscience of our (Islamic) Community.

These are the lessons we must learn from what is happening now. […]

Translation: http://www.sayed7asan.blogspot.fr

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

EU ministers approve plans to force social media companies to tackle hate speech

RT | May 23, 2017

European Union ministers have approved plans to force social media companies to combat hate speech on their platforms. It comes a day after Facebook’s internal guide for tackling such behavior was leaked.

The proposals, approved by ministers on Tuesday, mark the first attempt at legislating at EU level on the issue of hate speech across social media, according to Reuters. However, the plans still need to be ratified by the European Parliament before becoming law.

If the proposals are passed, social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube would be forced to take measures to prevent hate speech, incitement to hatred, and content justifying terrorism.

“We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way,” Andrus Ansip, EU Commission Vice-President for the digital single market, said on Tuesday, as quoted by Reuters.

The move comes after Facebook’s internal guide for combating hate speech was leaked online with its rules baffling many over its seemingly inconsistent policy direction.

It’s not the first time that European countries have called on social media outlets to do more to combat hate speech.

Earlier this month, an Austrian court ruled that Facebook must delete hateful posts directed at the leader of the country’s Green Party, a move that was viewed as a landmark victory for anti-hate speech campaigners.

Germany approved a bill in April which would see social media sites fined up to 50 million euros ($55.9 million) for failing to remove hate speech and so-called fake news. Critics denounced it as a violation of free speech.

Opponents of the bill even tried to climb onto the roof of the country’s Justice Ministry last week in protest over the bill.

In December, the International Auschwitz Committee accused Facebook of “poisoning the societal climate” in Germany and overseas, saying, the social media site’s soft treatment and arrogance towards online hate speech was “increasingly intolerable and dangerous.”

It appears that hate speech and fake news aren’t the only problems facing Facebook. A high number of murder and suicide videos posted on the social media platform prompted the company to announce earlier this month that it will be hiring 3,000 people to monitor content including live videos.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance

By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch | May 23, 2017

As the United States prepared to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and “renovation” project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply that it was also a security operation.

Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, “ … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. “The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” As the report makes clear, the project did not provide for the construction of residential buildings in place of those destroyed.

Awamiya was home to the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the fiery cleric who nonetheless peacefully demanded equal rights for the marginalized, oppressed Saudi Shia community. He was ultimately executed by the government in January 2016 after his capture in July 2012. Awamiya is no stranger to aggression, but this past week’s attack and ongoing siege is a new escalation by those yet to be satiated by the killing of Sheikh al-Nimr.

The city’s planned “development” was marked by blocking ambulance access, cordoning off the entrance to Mosawara with concrete barriers, cutting power and shooting at residents. As one said, “It is really painful to demolish a historic and archaeological city like Almosara whose lifespan extends for hundreds of years. Some people who want to close their eyes to the truth and are not affected by the demolition will believe in the lie of development.”

The action comes on the heels of an interview by deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s interview on state television in which he vowed to take the country’s standoff with Tehran inside of Iran’s borders. The offensive was still against Shia Muslims but instead within Saudi borders and the victims his fellow citizens.

It is erroneous and somewhat simplistic to frame the assault strictly in sectarian terms or as a move to appease the religious establishment’s anti-Shia proclivities. Rather, it was meant to send a message to all in the Kingdom of the fate of those who would oppose the authority and the legitimacy of the monarchy. It was to widen the narrow streets of Mosawara to allow tanks easy passage for future operations. It was a reminder to those in the Qatif who might still be emboldened by Sheikh Nimr’s famous declaration, “A century of oppression … enough, we will not be silent and we will not fear. We will call for separation even from this country and let be what will be. Our dignity is dearer than the unity of this land.”

Most importantly, it was to demonstrate that even when the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia to speak about combating extremism, the regime itself can be extremist without consequence or reproach.

Qana, Lebanon has been the subject of two vicious Israeli attacks and massacres. Gaza withstood untold suffering from a suffocating blockade followed by attack from land, sea and air. The poor villages outside of Manama, Bahrain, have withered under the pervasive repression of the al-Khalifa dynasty. Now another has joined their ranks.

Al-Awamiya: city under siege, city of resistance.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Hunger Striking for Palestinian Rights

Take the Salt Water Challenge

Salt

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 23, 2017

Marwan Barghouti has stopped drinking water. He started his hunger strike thirty-six days ago, together with 1,500 other Palestinians who are being held in Israeli prisons. Each day the strikers have been drinking water mixed with salt, the salt needed to keep their electrolytes functioning to stay alive, but their health has reached a critical phase in which they are experiencing vomiting, fainting and loss of vision. Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prisons for 15 years, is wagering with his own life in a bid to obtain better conditions for the 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli detention, most of whom have been imprisoned on faux terrorism related charges by military tribunals that have a 90% conviction rate. Nearly 500 children are among the prisoners, some of whom are only 12 years old, and there are also an estimated 500 Palestinians held in administrative detention, which permits the Israeli authorities to confine them indefinitely without any charges or any trial.

The Israeli authorities describe the hunger strike as a “violation of prison rules.” In the past, they have responded to such protests by bringing in doctors to help restrain and supervise force feeding of the strikers, but the practice proved very controversial among members of the medical profession and has been suspended, though there have been suggestions that “foreign” doctors might be brought in to do the dirty work. So it is to be presumed that the strike will continue until the protesters either win, begin to die or choose to cease and desist.

I have had the pleasure of speaking recently with Marwan’s youngest son Arab, a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California with a master’s degree in financial analysis, who has begun a campaign to publicize his father’s resistance against the Israeli prison authorities. He has been asking supporters to themselves drink salt water as a sign of solidarity with the hunger strikers. Many prominent Palestinians have done so publicly and the practice has become widespread both in Gaza and on the West Bank as well as among activists in Europe and the United States. It is also gaining strength on the social media, most particularly on Facebook, with videos of supporters of the Salt Water Challenge Salt Water Challenge inviting their friends to join the movement. Hunger striking is the ultimate personal statement, a peaceful form of protest that can only be effective if it helps to mobilize other forces to bring about change. With that in mind, the account of the suffering of Marwan Barghouti and his comrades in prison deserves the widest possible dissemination worldwide.

Marwan Barghouti is, not surprisingly, a controversial figure. His resistance to the Israeli occupation of his homeland began early at age 15 when he joined Fatah and eventually went on to co-found the organization’s youth movement. He later assumed leadership of its paramilitary wing Tanzim, though he eventually distanced himself from Fatah due to its corruption and for a short time headed his own reform party. He subsequently rejoined Fatah in 2006 and is now a member of the Palestinian Parliament. He is widely regarded as the most popular of Palestinian leaders even though he is in prison, or perhaps in part because of that.

Barghouti’s biography reads like a work of fiction. One of seven children, his father was a migrant worker. He completed high school while in an Israeli prison, where he learned Hebrew, and then went on to complete a BA in history and political science followed by an MA in international relations, both at the Palestinian Birzeit University. It required 15 years to complete his degrees because he was exiled to Jordan by the Israelis from 1987 to 1994 for his involvement in the First Intifada after being charged with “incitement,” a favorite catch-all phrase frequently used by Israel to indict anyone who is perceived as an opponent or critic when no actual charges can be plausibly supported by evidence.

Marwan Barghouti was indeed prominent in both the First and Second Intifadas due to his undoubtedly correct belief that a powerful Israel had no interest in any peaceful accommodation with the beleaguered Palestinians. He supported sometimes violent resistance and provocations directed at Israeli soldiers and settlers on the West Bank, though he did not consider Israeli citizens inside Israel legitimate targets. In 2002, he was arrested in Ramallah by the Israelis during the Second Intifada and eventually convicted of five counts of murder plus additional charges. He was given the maximum sentence of five cumulative life sentences for the alleged murders plus forty additional years for attempted murder and membership in an illegal organization.

In his trial Barghouti denied everything but refused to defend himself, claiming that the court had no jurisdiction and that he was legitimately resisting the Israeli occupation of his home. No one was able to demonstrate that he had actually killed anyone but the prosecution insisted that he had given the orders to do so. It should be noted that it was a political rather than a criminal event and completely illegal as he was a Palestinian living in Ramallah who was being tried in an Israeli court and sentenced to prison in Israel. The Inter-Parliamentary union subsequently reviewed the case and found that it had violated the accused’s rights and that numerous international legal agreements and norms were contravened.

Since 2002, there have been growing demands for Marwan Barghouti’s release, including from some Israeli politicians and peace groups, based on his relative moderation and desire to see a peaceful transition into a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He has sometimes been likened to Nelson Mandela as someone who could potentially bring order and justice to an apparently intractable situation. Barghouti is undeniably more popular than either Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah or Ismail Haniya of Hamas. If he were free and an election were held today, he would undoubtedly be elected Palestinian president.

It is important to understand the context of the plight of the Palestinian prisoners to appreciate where Barghouti’s struggle for Palestinian rights derives from. Israel shoots to kill Arab demonstrators, including children, who throw stones. It engages in illegal mass, arbitrary arrests of Palestinians who do not reside in Israel but are nevertheless subject to control by the Israeli military authorities who have a relatively free hand on the West Bank. Once convicted by a military court, which is almost always the case, the prisoners are then held in Israel, a violation of international law, while their homes back in the Palestinian territories are frequently demolished to collectively punish the families. The trip through Israeli security barriers from the West Bank to the prisons requires 20 hours travel each way, leading to a 45 minute visit with a barrier in between so no one can actually see anyone else. A one visit per year limit for anyone over 16 is part of a process intended to further punish the families. Prisoners are routinely tortured by Israel, including the “Palestinian Chair”, an excruciating procedure which was developed by the Israel Defense Force’s interrogators and later taught to Americans and used at Abu Ghraib. Hundreds of Arabs have also been killed while in custody and reports of organ harvesting have surfaced in the international media.

Over the past fifty years, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel at one time or another, fully 40% of the adult male population. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers run amok on the West Bank, protected by the police and army as they attack Palestinians at random and systematically destroy their livelihoods. They are rarely arrested and, if they are, they are tried in Israeli civil courts where they are nearly always acquitted. It is a situation that would be unimaginable nearly anywhere else in the world but Israel gets away with it due to a sympathetic Jewish dominated media in the U.S. and lickspittle politicians worldwide who can easily be bought or coerced.

Numerous international laws and the Geneva Conventions have been violated in the horrific treatment of the Palestinians but Israel continues to act with impunity. Israel’s colonial occupation and theft of Palestinian land are illegal and have been frequently condemned by world bodies like the United Nations. The United States agrees that the settlements are illegal, though it avoids the word, but it balks at calling out the brutal Israeli military occupation for what it is. The U.S. has also served as Israel’s protector in the U.N. and elsewhere, meaning that there is no pushback against Israeli actions that is in any way commensurate to the crimes that its government commits.

The current American Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is a virtual echo chamber for Israel’s Foreign Ministry. She sells out U.S. interests to pander to the powerful domestic Israel Lobby which uses its money and political access to corrupt American politicians as well as judicial processes worldwide, as Alison Weir has recently demonstrated with her brilliant analysis of how any criticism of Israel is now being conflated with anti-Semitism and increasingly regarded as a universal “hate crime.”

Israeli apologists like to frame the Palestinian “problem” as a group of unredeemable terrorists who have to be dealt with harshly, a narrative that portrays all Arabs as a threat. But the reality is that Israel has overwhelming power and exercises brutal control over the Palestinian population, which is treated as if it were subhuman. Indeed, many Israelis believe that Arabs are subhuman and deserve to be “ethnically cleansed.” But a people under occupation, even if relatively powerless, has a right to resist under international law, to include the use of violence, which is what the two Intifadas were all about.

One has to hope that Marwan Barghouti succeeds in his resistance and that his son Arab will be able to reach the widest possible audience to publicize what exactly is going on in Israel’s prisons and by extension in its cruel occupation and settlement of what remains of Palestine. And we should not forget other prisoners of conscience like Israeli nuclear whistleblower Moredechai Vanunu, who has yet again had his liberty restricted by the country’s Supreme Court. Israel is an essentially racist police state in spite of its frequent boasts about its alleged democracy but the important message for us Americans is that we have unfortunately served as Benjamin Netanyahu’s enablers. The Palestinians deserve a state of their own and the time has come for the United States to demand that Israel free all political prisoners like Marwan Barghouti and allow that to happen.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 2 Comments

This week in Palestine: Israeli forces kill three, refuse to negotiate with hunger strikers

This week in Palestine: Israeli forces kill three, refuse to negotiate with hunger strikers

Saba’ Obeid, Mohammad al-Kasaji, and Mohammad Bakr were killed by Israeli forces.
If Americans Knew

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights documents crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories in weekly reports. We summarize their reports and stories from other news agencies with the goal of informing Americans of the ongoing violence that Palestinian families face each day under Israel’s occupation of their ancestral lands. The Israeli government receives $3 billion per year in direct military aid from U.S. taxpayers.

May 11, 2017 – May 17, 2017

West Bank

  • The Israeli military continued its 50-year long military occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, under which the 2.8 million Palestinians living there are subjected to a different set of laws and treatment than Jewish settlers (numbering 588,000) are.
  • An Israeli sharpshooter shot 22-year-old Saba’ Obeid in the heart at demonstration supporting the Palestinian mass hunger strike, killing him. Israeli soldiers shot other demonstrators with rubber-coated steel bullets and teargas canisters and prevented journalists from entering the area.
  • An Israeli police office killed Jordanian man Mohammad al-Kasaji, 57, in Jerusalem’s Old City after the man reportedly stabbed him. Palestinian sources said the officer is known for assaulting worshipers who come to Al-Aqsa Mosque (a Muslim holy site), including women.
  • Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails continued their hunger strike, which reached the 4-week mark. Many are now suffering life-threatening conditions, unable to move or stand, are vomiting blood, and and have had their salts confiscated by Israeli prison authorities. Many have been placed in solitary confinement, are being transferred from prison to prison, and are forced to stand to be counted or face severe fines in spite of their deteriorating health. Israeli officials continue to refuse to negotiate with them.
  • Israeli forces attacked demonstrations in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers and wounded 40 Palestinians, 13 of them children. Roughly half of the wounded were shot with live bullets or rubber-coated bullets. Israeli forces also damaged three ambulances.
  • Israeli forces attacked the weekly demonstrations against Israeli’s Separation Wall in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, dispersing the protesters with tear gas and live bullets, and beat some of them.
  • Israeli forces carried out 62 invasions of Palestinian communities, raiding and searching homes, and arrested 79 civilians, 9 of them children. One of those arrested and jailed was 67-year-old academic and writer Ahmad Qatamesh, who already spent 8 years of his life in Israeli jails without any charges or trial. A teenage girl was also arrested after soldiers invaded her family’s home at 2:00 in the morning.
  • Israeli authorities announced they planned to demolish four buildings in a Palestinian neighborhood because they were built too close to Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall.
  • An Israeli police officer hit a Palestinian child with his vehicle in Jerusalem and fled the scene. In a different incident in the West Bank, a Jewish settler hit a Palestinian man with his vehicle and deserted the scene.
  • Israeli forces uprooted 60 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian man.
  • Israeli forces erected several temporary checkpoints, restricting movement for even more Palestinians. (There are 27 permanent checkpoints and hundreds of physical roadblocks placed by Israeli forces. Palestinians are prohibited from using 41 roads totaling 700 kilometers in the West Bank; only Israelis can travel on them.)

Gaza Strip

  • Israel continued its 10-year illegal land, sea, and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, strictly controlling the movement of all 2 million Palestinians living there.
  • Israeli navy forces killed Mohammad Bakr, a 23-year-old fisherman and married father of two, off the shores of Gaza on the 69th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. The Israeli gunmen chased the boat, opened fire on the four cousins on it, shot Mohammad in the stomach, and ordered his cousins to hand him over before taking him away. He died of his wounds later that day.
  • Israeli navy forces opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip most days. They arrested six Gaza fisherman, including two children, confiscated a boat, and damaged another.
  • At 1:00 am, Israeli forces raided and searched the home of Hamas leader Essa al-Jabari, 51, interrogated him, pointed weapons at his wife and daughters, and then arrested him and confiscated his car.
  • Israeli forces continued to prevent most Gazans from entering or exiting the Strip (via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing), allowing less than 2,000 people to travel.
  • Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian patient who was on his way to the West Bank with his mother to receive medical care.
  • Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian agricultural lands near the border.
  • Israeli forces continued to prevent most exports from Gaza, allowing only some produce items, fish and aluminum scraps. There is just one Israeli-controlled crossing (Kerem Shalom) for the movement of goods. Israel’s strict limits continue to severely cripple Gaza’s economy. Israeli officials told the U.S. that their goal is to keep Gaza “on the brink of collapse” and “‘functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

Read the full PCHR report, which also contains daily summaries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) also publishes a “Protection of Civilians” report on the occupied Palestinian territories every two weeks. Their latest report covers May 2 to May 15.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Occupation’s Accomplice

By Meghna Sridhar Tripp Zanetis | Jacobin | May 18, 2017

Mass incarceration is a central pillar of Israeli occupation. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are waging a hunger strike to fight it.

On April 17, on the anniversary of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, over 1,500 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike. A month later, 834 of the prisoners remain on empty stomachs — with several dozens now placed on “close medical watch” by Israeli authorities. The strike has drawn a wave of solidarity among Palestinians and has been met with severe repression by Israeli authorities.

Weeks before the strike erupted, we visited the military courts in the West Bank as a part of a delegation from Stanford Law’s International Human Rights Clinic. Observing the court proceedings drove home how the prison system serves as a core pillar of the occupation — and why the prison strike has attracted so much support among Palestinians.

The prisoners are demanding better conditions: improved access to family visits and phone calls; access to books, newspapers, mail, and educational opportunities; and an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement.

Yet at the heart of their struggle lies a more insidious problem: the sprawling military court system that has stripped them of their dignity and incarcerated over one in three Palestinian men since 1967. Palestinians imprisoned in Israel are sentenced by a court system run by the Israeli military, without any of the safeguards of the Israeli civilian courts. These military courts are predicated on a legal double standard: they only prosecute crimes against Israeli citizens or property; they do not prosecute crimes committed by Israeli settlers living in the Occupied West Bank, or crimes with Palestinian victims.

As strike leader and political prisoner Marwan Barghouti has put it, Israel’s military courts are an “accomplice in the occupation’s crimes.”

Israeli authorities have cracked down swiftly on the hunger strike — not only have they punished those who have protested, but they are also reportedly looking into setting up a separate military hospital to force feed those still on strike. Far-right National Union activists, meanwhile, have organized a barbecue outside the prison, seeking to mock the hungry prisoners with the wafting scents of grilled meat. And Pizza Hut released an advertisement taunting Barghouti to end the strike with a slice of their pizza.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon has said that the Palestinian prisoners are not political prisoners, but “convicted terrorists and murderers” who were “brought to justice.”

Our observations of the military courts — and the statistics — tell a different story. The courts prosecute between five hundred and seven hundred children each year — 79 percent, between 2010 and 2015, for stone throwing, which under the Israeli military’s own classification is only a “public order” offense. This crime generally involves youth throwing stones at military targets so distant that no bodily harm occurs.

Several other offenses that the military courts process are also nonviolent in nature. Incitement — a catch-all crime that could include posting anti-occupation status on Facebook — increasingly appears on the docket. Infiltration — which involves Palestinians illegally entering Israel in order to work, usually as manual laborers — also accounts for a fair share of the men brought before military courts.

There is a good reason that the practice of trying civilians — especially children — in military courts for such a prolonged period of time is unprecedented in an ostensible democracy. International law does allow military courts for civilians in the exceptional case of belligerent occupation. But the international laws governing occupation never contemplated a situation of a fifty-year occupation. And Israel’s military courts prove exactly why.

A staggering 99.74 percent of the cases heard in military court end in conviction: once accused, a Palestinian has little chance of mounting a successful defense. Evidence, especially when it pertains to children, is often the result of coerced confessions — but exclusion motions throwing out such illicitly obtained evidence are rarely successful. The court proceedings are entirely in Hebrew — a language almost all defendants, and most of their lawyers, don’t speak. Translations are often inadequate, or sloppy: we witnessed a translator walk out of the court midway through a proceeding. Most cases are resolved through guilty pleas — because, according to the attorneys we interviewed, defendants and defense lawyers alike are often punished for attempting to take cases to trial.

Palestinian prisoners, in short, are not just faced with harsh prison conditions, in prisons that their families have limited or no access to. They arrive in these facilities after facing a dehumanizing trial in a language that they do not speak, where the presumption of innocence does not apply, and where they face little chance of defending themselves successfully. When they put their bodies on the line with a hunger strike, they are doing so because the system offers them no other option.

That system must fall.

Mass incarceration is a central pillar of Israeli control over the West Bank. Improving prison conditions or adding procedural protections will not solve the problem. Only ending military control over the civilian population will deliver justice to the striking prisoners, as well as the millions suffering daily indignities on the outside.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

BBC goes full Big Brother in recent announcement

OffGuardian | May 21, 2017

Brought to our attention by Mark Doran, a new BBC document dated May 2017 contains this bizarre threat to its licence-payers:

9. Offensive or inappropriate content on BBC websites

If you post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content anywhere on or to BBC websites or otherwise engage in any disruptive behaviour on any BBC service, the BBC may use your personal information to stop such behaviour.

Where the BBC reasonably believes that you are or may be in breach of any applicable laws (e.g. because content you have posted may be defamatory), the BBC may use your personal information to inform relevant third parties such as your employer, school email/internet provider or law enforcement agencies about the content and your behaviour.

Here’s Mark’s screen cap of the doc:

Not only is this freakishly (yes, there’s no other word) Orwellian, it’s completely vague. Are the words “objectionable” and “disruptive” going to be employed like the words “hate” (currently being used to shut down discourse on social media), and “fascist” (currently being used by (often fascist) neoliberals to brand any serious criticism of globalism and the corporatocracy), to outlaw and/or punish dissident views? And what about “defamatory”? Is anyone calling Theresa May a malfunctioning Thatcher-bot going to be shopped out to her lawyers by the Beeb?

Clarification, at the very least, is urgently needed. Better still, the BBC should backtrack and guarantee it will remain a broadcast corporation and NOT presume to act as an arm of the state security system.

If you’re a concerned UK citizen, don’t hesitate to contact the BBC to express your views – though be prepared for a follow-up visit from the cops.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’

International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’

Delegates at the 2009 Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism convention in London. The organization issued a declaration calling on governments to use an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

For two decades, some Israeli officials and Israel partisans have worked to embed a new, Israel-focused definition of antisemitism in institutions around the world, from international bodies and national governments to small college campuses in heartland America. This effort is now snowballing rapidly. As a result, advocacy for Palestinian rights is well on the way to being curtailed and even criminalized as “hate.”

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | May 18, 2017

As the world has witnessed the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, many people have risen in protest. In response, the Israeli government and certain of its advocates have conducted a campaign to crack down on this activism, running roughshod over civil liberties (and the English language) in the process.

The mechanism of this crackdown is the redefinition of “antisemitism”[1] to include criticism of Israel, and the insertion of this definition into the bodies of law of various countries.

Where most people would consider “antisemitism” to mean bigotry against Jewish people (and rightly consider it abhorrent), for two decades a campaign has been underway to replace that definition with an Israel-centric definition. That definition can then be used to block speech and activism in support of Palestinian human rights as “hate.” Various groups are applying this definition in law enforcement evaluations of possible crimes.

Proponents of this Israel-centric definition have promoted it step by step in various arenas, from the U.S. State Department and European governments to local governments around the U.S. and universities.

While this effort has taken place over the last two decades, it is snowballing rapidly at this time. The definition is increasingly being used to curtail free speech and academic freedom, as well as political activism.

Furthermore, such politicizing of an important word may reduce its effectiveness when real antisemitism occurs, doing a disservice to victims of true bigotry.

As of this writing, the U.S. Congress has endorsed the distorted definition, the governments of the UK and Austria have officially adopted it (in December and April, respectively), various U.S. State legislatures are considering it, and numerous universities are using it to delineate permissible discourse. Many representatives and heads of other states around the world have embraced the new meaning, even if they have yet to officially implement it.

This article will examine the often interconnected, incremental actions that got us where we are, the current state of affairs, and the public relations and lobbying efforts that are promoting this twisting of the definition of “antisemitism” — often under cover of misleadingly named “anti-racism” movements.

Claims of “Antisemitism” Used to Silence Support for Palestinians

For many years, numerous respected organizations have documented Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, including killing of Palestinian civilians, abuse of Palestinian children, torture of Palestinian prisoners, confiscation of Palestinian land, and other cases of systematic violence and oppression. Detailed reports have been compiled by Defense for Children International, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Foreign Service Journal, Physicians for Human rights, Christian Aid, Human Rights Watch, the National Lawyers Guild, Israel’s Public Committee Against Torture, Israel’s B’Tselem and others.

Israel long claimed that its 1948 creation was on “a land without a people for a people without a land,” and many people may still believe this founding myth. The fact is, however, that the land was originally inhabited by an indigenous population that was approximately 80 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, and a little under 5 percent Jewish. The Jewish State of Israel was created through the ejection of approximately three-quarters of a million people.

Over the decades since Israel’s founding in 1948, accusations of antisemitism have been leveled against many people who criticized Israeli actions. Indeed, the accusation was used effectively to silence very prominent critics.[2]

However, for most of that time, the meaning of the term itself was not in question. The standard definition was, in Google’s terms, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.”[3] Around the turn of this century, though, certain advocates began promoting official and even legal definitions of antisemitism that included various kinds of criticism of Israel.

Conflating Criticism of Israel with Antisemitism

Natan Sharansky, Israeli minister, in 2003: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.” Sharansky’s formulation formed the basis for the new Israel-centric definitions adopted around the world.

Unsurprisingly, the new definitions appear to have originated from within the Israeli government, or at least with an Israeli government official.

The definitions adhere to a pattern set by a man named Natan Sharansky, who was Israel’s Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs and chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Sharansky founded a Global Forum against Anti-Semitism in 2003, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

But Sharansky apparently didn’t mean a counteroffensive against just anti-Jewish bigotry, but an offensive against criticism of Israel. The following year he wrote a position paper that declared: “Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, ‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state.”

Sharansky’s paper laid out what he called the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism.” Sharansky applied the term “antisemitic” to criticism of Israel in three cases. First, he argued that statements that “demonize” Israel are antisemitic — by being, in his mind, unfairly harsh. (Some of those allegedly guilty of “demonizing” Israel are Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Human Rights Watch, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, French President François Mitterrand, and others.)

Second, Sharansky declared that it’s antisemitic to apply a “double standard” to Israel — in other words, to criticize Israel for actions that other states may also take. However, if one could never criticize, protest or boycott abuses without calling out every single other similar abuse, no one would ever be able to exercise political dissent at all.

Finally, Sharansky said it’s antisemitic to “delegitimize” Israel, or dispute its “right to exist” (a standard Israeli talking point for many years). In fact, insisting Israel has the “right” to exist amounts to saying it had the right to expel Muslim and Christian Palestinians in order to found a religiously exclusive state. (See “What ‘Israel’s right to exist’ means to Palestinians,” by John Whitbeck, published in the Christian Science Monitor.)[4]

Sharansky’s outline provided the pattern for a European agency to create a new definition of antisemitism the next year, 2005 — a definition that would then be adopted by a succession of organizations and governments, including the U.S. State Department.

Jean Kahn (R) with French President Francois Mitterand. Kahn initiated the creation of the European Monitoring Centre, which released an Israel-centric “working” definition of antisemitism.

There is a back story to how this all came about.

This European agency itself was founded and run by a man with important connections to Israel. It was called “The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia,” under the Council of the European Union. A Frenchman named Jean Kahn had convinced European heads of state to create it in 1997.

Kahn had been a President of the European Jewish Congress, elected in a plenary session in Israel, and said the Congress “would demonstrate its solidarity with Israel” and that he hoped European countries would “coordinate their legislation outlawing racism, anti-Semitism or any form of exclusion.”

Kahn was chairman of the Monitoring Centre’s management board and called the “personification” of the agency. Within three years, the Centre issued a position paper calling for the definition of anti-Semitic offenses to be “improved.”

A few years later, Israeli professor Dina Porat took up the effort to create a new definition. Working with her were Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker of the American Jewish Committee. Stern reports that when the Monitoring Centre’s then head, Beate Winkler, had failed to deliver the desired definition, Andy Baker “smartly developed a working relationship with her.” Stern and others[5] then created a draft for the Monitoring Centre to use.

Israeli Dina Porat, Kenneth Stern, Rabbi Andrew Baker worked to draft what became the European Monitoring Centre definition of antisemitism.

In 2005 the agency issued its “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” largely based on that draft. It included an array of negative statements about Israel as examples of antisemitic offenses. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

Once the Monitoring Centre had created its expanded definition, certain Israel partisans used it to promote similar definitions elsewhere. And while the Monitoring Centre itself continued to term it only a “working” definition and its replacement organization eventually withdrew the definition, in other countries and agencies the expanded definition became official.

In addition, quite frighteningly, proponents pushed successfully to begin applying the Israel-centric definition to law enforcement.

In the United States

The same year Sharansky created his “3-D” antisemitism test — a year after he founded the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism — the U.S. Congress passed a law establishing exceptional government monitoring of antisemitism. The law created a special State Department envoy and office for this monitoring, over objections of the State Department itself.

The law, called the “Global Anti-Semitism Review Act,” included a line that subverted its meaning by enshrining a new definition of antisemitism aligned with Sharansky’s: “Anti-Semitism has at times taken the form of vilification of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and incitement against Israel.”

The bill was introduced in April 2004. That June, a Congressional hearing was conducted about how to combat antisemitism. A major witness was Israeli minister Sharansky. In his testimony Sharansky proposed his “3-D” Israel-connected definition for anti-Semitism.[6]

State Department officials objected to the proposed legislation, saying the new office was unnecessary and would be a “bureaucratic nuisance” that would actually hinder the Department’s ongoing work. A State Department press release opposing the new office described the many actions that State was already taking against antisemitism.

Despite this opposition, the Senate bill acquired 24 cosponsors representing both parties, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Sam Brownback, Saxby Chambliss and Ted Stevens. Similar bills (here and here) were introduced in the House of Representatives, acquiring 35 cosponsors, again including both Republican and Democratic leaders. The legislation passed easily and quickly became law.

Gregg Rickman, first U.S. antisemitism envoy, later worked for AIPAC.

The first Special Envoy, Gregg Rickman, endorsed the European Monitoring Centre’s Working Definition in 2008. Rickman’s report called it a “useful framework” for identifying and understanding antisemitism. After Rickman left the State Department, he went to work for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the major Israel advocacy organization that lobbies Congress.

The next Special Envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, took this campaign a major step forward: In 2010 the office officially adopted the European Monitoring Centre’s definition.

Rosenthal was extremely proud of having achieved this “breakthrough” definition. She began making use of it quickly, establishing a 90-minute course on the new antisemitism at the Foreign Service Institute, the training school for diplomats.

“We have now a definition we can train people on,” she told the Times of Israel, “and we’ve been very aggressive in training foreign service officers.”

Rosenthal announced that with the new definition including criticism of Israel, their reporting on antisemitism improved “300 percent,” even though, she said, that didn’t mean that antisemitism had actually increased in all the countries monitored.

Hannah Rosenthal adopted the “breakthrough” Israel related definition and promptly used it in training U.S. diplomats.

The gloves were off. Now fully half of the official U.S. State Department definition of antisemitism had gone beyond the normal meaning of the world to focus on Israel.

Applying the New Definition to U.S. Citizens

The State Department uses the new definition to monitor activities overseas. But once the State Department definition was in place, efforts began to use it to crack down on political and academic discourse and activism within the U.S.

This past December (2016) the U.S. Senate passed a law to apply the State Department’s definition (i.e. the Sharansky-Stern-Rosenthal definition) of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes.

A companion bill for the House is supported by AIPAC, the ADL, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives recently passed legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The state senate will consider this in 2018. If passed, it will mean that the state will now probe criticism of Israel on state campuses.

Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

Such efforts are also ongoing in California. In December Democrat Brad Sherman called on the California Secretary of Education to “expand its definition to include certain forms of anti-Israel behavior.” Pro-Israel organizations such as the Amcha Initiative have also been pushing the state legislature for several years to officially adopt the State Department definition. So far these have been defeated but continue to be promoted.

U.S. Campuses

A parallel effort has been occurring on U.S. campuses. In 2003 Sharansky said that college campuses were “one of the most important battlefields” for Israel.

In 2015 University of California President Janet Napolitano (head of 10 campuses) publicly supported adopting the state department definition, after 57 rabbis sent a letter to her and the University Board of Regents promoting the definition.

Student councils or other groups at various universities have passed resolutions adopting the State Department definition, which can then be used to block campus events about Palestine.

An AIPAC official announced at the 2010 convention: “We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government. That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.”

An ongoing campaign to ensure Israel partisans become influential in student government has supported these efforts. This campaign was announced by an AIPAC leader in 2010: “We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government,” he said. “That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” (Video here.)

Resolutions referencing the Israel-centric definitions have now been passed by student governments at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, East Carolina UniversityIndiana University, Ohio’s Capital University, Ohio’s Kent State, Orange County’s Chapman University, San Diego State University, and other campuses around the country.[7]

An example of these resolutions is the 2015 bill at Indiana University. The resolution denounced anti-Semitism “as defined by the United States State Department” and stated that the student government would not fund antisemitic activities or activities that “undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.” It also said that IUSA executives and Congress members would undergo diversity training on anti-Semitism.

According to the student newspaper, the bill was written by Rebekah Molasky, a fellow with the international pro-Israel organization Stand With Us. After the resolution was passed, “the bill’s sponsors and outside supporters hugged and high-fived before gathering in the hallway to take a picture to commemorate the moment.”

As evidenced above, such resolutions can now be used to censor student events. The UC San Diego resolution largely replicated the Indiana format, announcing that the student government will not support activities that “promote anti-Semitism” under the new definition, including “denying Israel the right to exist.” Stand With Us applauded the resolution.

In 2012, an organization called the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law was founded and immediately began promoting the new definition. Within a year it launched an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S. to advance “the organization’s mandate to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.” The Center helped push the South Carolina legislation. It is one of numerous organizations promoting the new definition.

(Incidentally, former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis was a leader in the world Zionist movement and worked in public and covert ways to promote it — see here.)

“Thought Policing”

A number of analysts have pointed out some of the many significant flaws with such legislation.

Anthony L. Fisher at Reason.com writes of Congress’s December law applying the State Department definition to the Education Department: “It gives the federal government the authority to investigate ideas, thoughts, and political positions as violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Fisher continues: “By specifically using the broad language of a 2010 State Department memo attempting to define anti-Semitism, the Senate bill wades into thought policing.”

Attorney Liz Jackson wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times : “Anyone who values the constitutional right to express political dissent should worry about this development.”

NY Times columnist Bret Stephens says Jewish Americans should “do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.”

On the other side of the debate is New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, formerly Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor and before that editor of an Israeli newspaper. Stephens, extremely hawkish on Israel, writes and speaks fervently against the movement to boycott Israel (BDS) and what he says is antisemitism on US campuses and elsewhere. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, he claimed that “anti-Semitism is the disease of the Arab world.”

In 2014 Stephens spoke at the Tikvah Fund, a philanthropic foundation committed to supporting the “Jewish people and the Jewish State,” opining that it would be a scandal if Jewish people failed “to do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.”

U.S. and European Lawmakers Pressure Governments to Ban Criticism of Israel

During all this time, parallel efforts to promote the new definition continued in Europe.

In 2009 an organization called the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) took up the effort to spread the expanded definition. The group says it brings together parliamentarians from “around the world” to fight antisemitism and lists a steering committee of six European and U.S. legislators.

UK politician (and later Prime Minister) David Cameron signed the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition statement calling on governments to outlaw certain forms of criticism of Israel, including calls to boycott Israel; to regulate criticism of Israel in the media; to monitor criticism of Israel online and elsewhere; and to prosecute critics of Israel under “hate crimes” legislation.

The group held a conference in London in 2009 at which it issued a “London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism,” which was signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other heads of state and legislators. This declaration called on governments to use the European Monitoring Centre’s definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

It was couched in “anti-racism” terms, but when we look at the declaration’s recommendations combined with its definition of antisemitism, one thing becomes clear: In the declaration, numerous lawmakers of the Western world called on world governments to restrict political dissent.

Specifically, they called on governments to outlaw certain forms of criticism of Israel, including calls to boycott Israel; to regulate criticism of Israel in the media; to monitor criticism of Israel online and elsewhere; and to prosecute critics of Israel under “hate crimes” legislation.

Among numerous other demands, the lawmakers declared that governments:

  • “must expand the use of the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’” including “as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;”
  • should “isolate political actors” who “target the State of Israel;”
  • “should legislate ‘incitement to hatred’ offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;”
  • “should … establish inquiry scrutiny panels;”
  • “should utilise the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards;”
  • “should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes” (keeping in mind here that the declaration’s definition of “antisemitic” includes various criticism of Israel);
  • “should use domestic ‘hate crime’, ‘incitement to hatred’ and other legislation … to prosecute ‘Hate on the Internet’ where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written” (again keeping in mind what is defined as “antisemitic”);
  • and that “education authorities should … protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts.”

In 2015 the European Commission created a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism and appointed German national Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeded to promote the use of the Israel-centric definition.[8]

UK and Austria Adopt Definition

 In December 2016, the UK announced it would formally adopt the Israel-centric definition. It was quickly followed by Austria, which adopted the definition in April 2017. The Austrian justice minister had previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the adoption of the Israel-centric definition at a Conservative Friends of Israel event.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

UPI reported: “The British police are already using this definition[9], which can now also be used by other groups, such as municipal councils and universities. The definition is not a law, but provides a formal interpretation of an illegal act that can serve as a guideline for criminal proceedings.” Shortly afterward the UK’s higher education minister sent a letter informing universities that the government had adopted the IHRA definition and directing them to utilize it.

(The London council quickly followed suit with its own adoption of the definition, and other cities have now done the same. In May the Israel-Britain Alliance (IBA) began asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they would support the new definition.)

A number of groups objected to the definition, arguing that the definition “deliberately equates criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews.”

Opponents said it was “vigorously promoted by pro-Israel lobbyists to local authorities, universities, Labour movement organisations and other public bodies.”

They stated that after its adoption there had been “an increase in bannings and restrictions imposed on pro-Palestinian activities, especially on campuses.” Some of the cancellations cited the IHRA definition. Oxford Professor Stephen Sedley wrote in the London Review of Books that the IHRA definition gives “respectability and encouragement to forms of intolerance which are themselves contrary to law.”

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, recipient of the President’s Medal of the British Operational Research Society and Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, said there were many examples of the definition creating a “chilling effect” on institutions’ willingness to permit lawful political activity, “even when the definition was not specifically cited.”

AJC’s Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker helped create and disseminate the new definition throughout Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which represents all of Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada — a billion people — was also pushed to adopt the definition at its December 2016 conference.

The American Jewish Committee, which has offices in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Warsaw, reported that it had “met with senior European government officials to encourage OSCE adoption of the definition.” However, adoption of the definition has so far been blocked by one member: Russia.

AJC leader Rabbi Andrew Baker wrote that the AJC would now work “to foster its greater use by the individual states of the OSCE and members of the European Union.”

Inter-Parliamentary Coalition’s American Representatives

Two American Congressmen are among the six-member steering committee of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA).

One is Florida Congressman Ted Deutch. Deutch’s Congressional website highlights his support for Israel as well as his work against antisemitism.

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch has pushed the use of the Israel-centric definition to curtail academic freedom and campus political dissent within the United States. Deutch’s website declares him “a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth.”

According to the site, Deutch “works closely with his colleagues in the House and Senate to… pass resolutions strongly opposing manifestations of anti-Semitism at home in South Florida, across the United States, and around the world.”

Florida Congressman Ted DeutchThe website reports: “Congressman Ted Deutch is a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth. Ted spent his summers at Zionist summer camp, worked as a student activist in high school and college, and served in leadership roles on several local and national Jewish organizations throughout his professional career. Today, Ted serves as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s influential Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, where he continues to champion Israel’s security during a time of great volatility in the Middle East.”

Deutch is also a member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. His ICCA bio announces that he plans to use this position “to continue to publicly condemn anti-Semitism.”

Deutch receives considerable funding from the pro-Israel lobby.

In March Deutch led a bipartisan letter to Trump “Urging Forceful Action on Anti-Semitism.” It demanded ‘a comprehensive, inter-agency strategy that called for the Justice Department to investigate “anti-Semitic crimes” and “ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Deutch was one of two Congresspeople who introduced the December law to apply the State Department definition to education.

New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, member of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition, brought Sharansky to testify before Congress about his new definition.

The other U.S. Congressman on the steering committee of the ICCA is Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith is also a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. According to the website Open Secrets, a large proportion of his campaign donations are also from pro-Israel sources.

Natan Sharansky twice testified at hearings Smith chaired. In a speech at an event honoring Smith for his work against antisemitism, Smith remembered that Sharansky had  “proposed what he called a simple test to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. He called it the three Ds: Demonization, double standard, and de-legitimization.”

Spreading the New Definition Under Cover of “Anti-Racism” Movement

UK universities have seen repression of pro-Palestinian activism on an epic scale. In 2007 the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopted the new antisemitism definition at its national conference, when pro-Israel students introduced a motion entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then did the same.

This was a particularly ironic name for a pro-Israel motion, given that many people around the world consider Israel’s founding ideology, political Zionism, racist. In fact, in 1975 the UN General Assembly specifically passed a resolution that “Zionism is a form of racism.”

(The resolution was revoked In 1991, but not because the world body had changed its mind. In that year President Bush was pushing for the Madrid Peace Conference, which he hoped would end the “Arab-Israeli” conflict. When Israel said it would only participate in the conference if the UN revoked the resolution, the U.S. pressured member states to do just this.)

Through the years numerous entities have affirmed that Zionism is a type of racism, including conferences in South Africa and a recent UN commission which reported that Israel was practicing apartheid. (This report was then removed by the UN Director General, after Israeli and U.S. pressure.)

The UK student actions exemplify a trend that has pervaded this movement since the beginning: Efforts to shut down pro-Palestinian activism, curtail free speech and police thought both online and off are repeatedly packaged as “anti-racism” and sometimes “anti-fascism.”[10]

Campaign for New Definition Overcomes Hiccups

Taken together, these steps towards redefining “antisemitism” to include criticism of Israel, and then ban it, are effectively (and increasingly rapidly) producing significant results in terms of actual regulation and even law enforcement. Nevertheless, there apparently has been some resistance to the change.

In 2013, the successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly dropped the working definition from its website. Without any public announcement, the definition was simply no longer on its site. When questioned about this, the agency’s director simply said that the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.”

Proponents of the definition were outraged. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained that the agency’s “disowning of its own definition is astounding” and that “those who fight antisemitism have lost an important weapon.” (The Wiesenthal Center is a global organization that declares it “stands with Israel” with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.)

However, the fact that the Monitoring Centre had never officially adopted the definition, and that its successor organization now had apparently discarded it, seems to have been ignored by those who had adopted it.

The U.S. State Department continues to use the discarded version. The only difference is that the PDF that gave its Monitoring Centre origins has been removed from State’s website.

The World Jewish Congress convention 2014, chaired by David de Rothschild, urged “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes” based on the Israel-centric definition.

The following year, the World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish umbrella bodies in 100 countries, called on “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes based on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism developed by the former European Union Monitoring Commission (EUMC) and used in a number of states’ law enforcement agencies.”

IHRA Picks Up the Ball

Other groups stepped into the vacuum and kept the definition alive. In 2016 The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted the definition.

The IHRA consists of 31 Member Countries, ten Observer Countries, and seven international partner organizations. Its chair announced that the IHRA’s goal was to inspire “other international fora” to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” It’s working: Britain and Austria almost immediately followed suit.

The U.S. Brandeis Center applauded the move, saying that “because the IHRA has adopted it, the definition has now officially been given the international status that it was previously lacking.”

The Brandeis Center reported that this was the “culmination of a process initiated by Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two years ago, with help from others including Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State.”

Ira Forman, antisemitism envoy under Obama and formerly of AIPAC, played a pivotal role in the IHRA adoption of the new definition.

Forman was the State Department Special Anti-Semitism Envoy under Obama, reportedly led Obama’s reelection campaign in the Jewish community, had worked for Bill Clinton, and had served as Political Director and Legislative Liaison for AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization. Nicholas Dean had been the State Department Special Envoy for the Holocaust.

The New York Jewish Week reported that Forman and Dean “played a pivotal role in diplomatic efforts that led to the recent adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of a Working Definition of Anti-Semitism.”

“This is the first-ever formal international definition of anti-Semitism, and a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action against it,” the article continued.

Pressure On State Department to Continue Extra Monitoring

Among much budget slashing proposed by President Donald Trump were cuts to the State Department that would have ended funding for the antisemitism monitoring office and special envoy (though State Department monitoring of antisemitism would continue even after the cuts).

Various organizations are lobbying to keep the office and envoy, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a U.S. organization whose mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people” but which in effect seems to serve as an American extension of the most right-wing elements of Israel’s government. It has a long and infamous history of attacking critics of Israeli policy as “antisemites” and also uses an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism.

The ADL and allies pointed to a rash of bomb threats against Jewish institutions to strengthen their argument that this exceptional office must be funded. A letter with over a hundred signatories was sent to Trump demanding that he keep the dedicated State Department position, a bipartisan letter in support of retaining that special monitor was circulated in Congress, and over 100 Holocaust memorial groups and scholars urged Trump to keep the office.

As this political fight has raged, the ADL, which has a budget of over $56 million, sent out press releases to national and local media around the country reporting that antisemitic incidents have soared. The release was repeated almost verbatim in numerous national media and in individual states (as a random example, a Massachusetts headline declared: “Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise in Massachusetts.”)

However, it is impossible to know how many of the antisemitic incidents reported by the ADL were actually related to criticism of Israel, because the ADL didn’t release the data on which these results were based.

Israeli man arrested for over 2,000 bomb threats.

In addition, the ADL’s reported spike includes a spate of threats called in to Jewish organizations, schools and community centers that, thankfully, were hoaxes. The vast majority of threats (reportedly to over 2,000 institutions) apparently were perpetrated by an 18-year-old Jewish Israeli who reportedly suffers from medical and mental problems. (This alleged perpetrator is also accused of trying to extort a US Senator, threatening the children of a US official, and a range of other crimes.)

Another individual, an American in the U.S., apparently perpetrated eight hoax bomb threats in a bizarre campaign to get his former girlfriend in trouble.

A Jewish News Service article says the threats by the Israeli teen made up a significant percentage of the ADL’s spike and reported: “The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) decision to count an Israeli teenager’s alleged recent bomb hoaxes as ‘anti-Semitic incidents’ is prompting criticism from some Jewish community officials.”

An ADL official admitted that the audit is an approximation, saying “the science on it is currently being written.” A regional ADL director said that “this is not a poll or a scientific study,” but rather “an effort to get a sense of ‘what’s going on in people’s hearts.’”

Regarding hard data, the report said that anti-Semitic assaults across the nation had “decreased by about 36 percent.”

The ADL blames various groups for antisemitism, pointing the finger at people of color with claims that Hispanic Americans and African Americans are “the most anti-Semitic cohorts,” at “white supremacists” and at Trump’s election — but not at the Israeli teen responsible for 2,000+ hoax threats that terrorized Jewish institutions, nor at its own distorted, Israel-connected definition.[11]

Claims of increased antisemitism are cited repeatedly in calls for the U.S. government to maintain funding for the special State Department monitoring.

Former US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power tweeted that the entire Trump administration should focus on antisemitism.

Former Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and two Democratic congressional representatives, Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and Deutch of Florida, are among those demanding that Trump appoint a new antisemitism monitor and maintain this office at full strength, even while he cuts other federal spending.

Power tweeted: “Anti-semitism is surging in world. Entire Trump admin needs to focus on it & envoy position must be kept.”

Lowey demanded: “The president must show he takes the rise of anti-Semitism seriously by immediately appointing a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and fully staffing the Special Envoy’s office.”

In a May 2017 speech, World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder said, “Being anti-Israel is being anti-Semitic.” He announced that the congress “is creating a new communications department, or what you might call Hasborah” to counter this new “antisemitism.”

Dissenting Views

Many Jewish writers and activists dispute Lauder’s contention and oppose the campaign to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. An article in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper points out that “were anti-Zionism a cover for the abuse of individual Jews, individual Jews would not join anti-Zionist groups. Yet many do. Jewish students are well represented in anti-Zionist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.”

Rabbi Ahron Cohen of Naturei Kartei (“Guardians of the Faith”) writes that “Judaism and Zionism are incompatible and mutually exclusive.” Cohen states that antisemitism is “an illogical bigotry. Anti-Zionism, however, is a perfectly logical opposition, based on very sound reasoning, to a particular idea and aim.”

Cohen argues: “According to the Torah and Jewish faith, the present Palestinian Arab claim to rule in Palestine is right and just. The Zionist claim is wrong and criminal. Our attitude to Israel is that the whole concept is flawed and illegitimate. So anti-Zionism is certainly not anti-Semitism.”

 Antisemitism?

Recently Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper published a column entitled, “An Israeli Soldier Shot a Palestinian in Front of Her Kids. Where’s Her Compensation?”

The article, by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, begins: “For three months, Dia Mansur was certain his mother was dead. He was 15 years old when he saw her collapse in the living room of their home, felled by a bullet fired by an Israel Defense Forces soldier that sliced into her face, tearing it apart. He saw his mother lying on the floor, blood oozing from her mouth…”

Gaza, 2014. Israel’s invasions and shelling of Gaza killed and injured thousands of children and left multitudes homeless.

Levy, citing a report by an Israeli human rights organization, writes that from September 2000 to through February 2017, “Israel killed 4,868 noncombatant Palestinian civilians, more than one-third of them (1,793) were children and adolescents below the age of 18.” (More info here.)

He continued: “Thousands of others, who were also not involved in fighting, have been wounded and permanently incapacitated.” (Photos here.)

Shifa Hospital, Gaza, 2014

A few weeks before that report, Ha’aretz published an article that described Israel’s month-long imprisonment of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, one of over 200 Palestinian children taken by Israeli forces in a little over three months. The boy, accused of throwing stones against Israeli soldiers, would have been released from incarceration earlier, except that his impoverished family didn’t have enough money to pay the fine.

In the article, Israeli journalist Amira Haas reported that the boy’s father said that his son “wasn’t how he used to be before he was arrested.” “He used to joke,” the father said, “and he stopped doing that. He talked a lot, and now he is silent.”

Haas wrote that UNICEF had issued a report four years ago that Israel was “extensively and systematically abusing detained Palestinian children and youth.” Today, she reported, “The stories of physical violence, threats, painful plastic handcuffs and naked body searches remain almost identical.”

Sadly, every week there are similar stories.

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian boy in West Bank town of Hebron, June 20, 2014. “Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Israel of ‘abusive arrests’ of Palestinian children as young as 11 and of using threats to force them to sign confessions.” – AFP

To the multi-billion dollar network of lobbies advocating for conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, those who work to get such information to the American people – whose government gives Israel $10 million per day – are antisemitic.

Many others of all faiths and ethnicities have a different view.

Sixteen years ago I wrote: “Equating the wrongdoing of Israel with Jewishness is the deepest and most insidious form of anti-Semitism of all.”

It is ironic that it is the Israel lobby that is today doing this equating, and that it has worked to invert the very meaning of antisemitism itself. Rather than denoting only abhorrent behavior, as it once did, today the term is often officially applied to what many consider courageous actions against oppression.

More troubling, still, these lobbying groups are working to outlaw conduct that numerous people (including many Israelis and Jewish Americans) consider morally obligatory.

It seems imperative for Americans who wish for justice and peace in the Middle East, and who oppose Orwellian distortions of language and law, to speak out against this campaign – while we can.

#

N.B. I deeply hope that no one will exaggerate or misrepresent the information this article reveals. The actions above were taken by specific individuals and organizations. They alone are responsible for them, not an entire religious or ethnic group, most of whom quite likely have little idea that this is occurring.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel


Timeline for creating new Israel-centric definition of antisemitism

Following is a timeline of some of the key events in the creation, promotion and adoption of the Israel-focused definition of antisemitism. It provides an outline, but does not include every step of the process, all the key players, or every action.

1991 – Jean Kahn is elected president of the European Jewish Congress at its plenary session in Israel. He announces an ambitious agenda, including demonstrating solidarity with Israel and European countries coordinating legislation to outlaw antisemitism.

1997 – Kahn “convinces 15 heads of state” to create the The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to focus on “racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”

2000 – The Monitoring Centre issues a position paper calling for the definition of antisemitic offenses to be “improved.”

2003 – Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky founds the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

2004 – Sharansky, who is also chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, issues a position paper that lays out the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism:” statements that “demonize” Israel, apply a “double standard” or “delegitimize” Israel are “antisemitic.” These will form the blueprint for new definitions adopted by lobbying organizations and finally governments.

2004 – US Congress passes law establishing special office and envoy in the State Department to monitor antisemitism that includes statements about Israel under this rubric. (Sharansky is witness at Congressional hearing.)

2004 – American Jewish Committee directors Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “ Andy” Baker work with Israeli professor Dina Porat to draft a new antisemitism definition and push the Monitoring Centre to adopt it, according to Stern. Their draft drew on Sharansky’s 3 D’s.

2005 – Monitoring Centre issues a “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that includes Sharansky’s 3 D’s, based on Stern et al’s draft. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

2007UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopts the new antisemitism definition focused on Israel, after pro-Israel students introduce a motion misleadingly entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then follow suit.

2008 – The first U.S. State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism, Greg Rickman, endorses the Monitoring Centre working definition in State Department report to Congress. (Rickman later went to work for AIPAC.)

2009 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), which brings together parliamentarians from around the world, issues the London Declaration signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others. The Declaration calls on governments to use the Monitoring Centre definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.” US Congressmen Ted Deutch and Chris Smith are members of the CCA’s steering committee.

2010 – Second US State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism Hanna Rosenthal officially adopts European Monitoring Centre definition; this is subsequently referred to as the State Department definition of antisemitism. Rosenthal creates course on antisemitism using this definition to train Foreign Service Officers.

2012Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law is founded and immediately begins promoting the new definition. Within a year it launches an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S.

2013 – Successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly drops the working definition from its website. When questioned about this, the agency’s director says the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.” (Groups using the definition continue to use it.)

2014 – Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with help from Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State, initiates efforts for another agency to adopt and promote the working definition of antisemitism.

2015 – European Commission creates a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism, appointing German Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeds to promote use of the Israel-centric definition. 

2015 – Indiana University passes resolution denouncing “anti-Semitism as defined by the United States State Department and will not fund or participate in activities that promote anti-Semitism or that ‘undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.’” University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA also pass such resolutions.

2016 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), consisting of 31 Member Countries, adopts the definition; the goal is to inspire others to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” An analyst writes that the IHRA action is “a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action.”

December 2016 – U.S. Senate passes law to apply the State Department’s definition of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. Now the law defines actions connected to criticism of Israel as “religiously motivated.”

December 2016 – UK announces it will formally adopt the Israel-centric definition–the first country to do so besides Israel. UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

December 2016 – Adoption of the definition by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been heavily lobbied by the American Jewish Committee, is blocked by Russia. The AJC then says it will push for individual member states to adopt it.

March 2017 South Carolina House of Representatives passes legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The Senate version will be discussed in 2018. Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

March – May 2017 – Resolutions adopting the Israel-centric definitions are passed by student governments at Ohio’s Capital University and Kent State, California’s San Diego State University and at other campuses around the U.S.

April 2017

  • Austria adopts the definition. (The Austrian justice minister previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.)
  • The ADL, which uses Israel-centric definition of antisemitism, announces that antisemitism has risen by 86 percent in 2017, but includes questionable statistics. News organizations throughout the U.S. report the ADL claim.
  • Reports that Trump administration budget cuts might cause special antisemitism envoy position to remain vacant provokes outrage among Israel lobby groups and others. Samantha Power calls for entire Trump administration to focus on antisemitism. Soon, Trump administration says it will fill post.
  • All 100 US Senators send a letter to UN demanding it stop its actions on Israel and connects these to antisemitism.

May 2017 –

  • Israel-Britain Alliance begins asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will support the new definition.

End Notes

[1] I’m using the newer, unhyphenated spelling of this word, which seems to be growing in popularity. I feel it is a more appropriate spelling, since the hyphenated version suggests that it refers to all Semites, which is incorrect. The word was created in 1879 specifically to refer to anti-Jewish prejudice.

[2] Former Israeli parliament member Shulamit Aloni explained this in a 2002 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy now. “It’s a trick. ” she said. “We always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are ‘anti-Semitic’.

Aloni noted that the pro-Israel lobby in the United States “is strong, and has a lot of money.” She continued: “Ties between Israel and the American Jewish establishment are very strong … their attitude is ‘Israel, my country right or wrong.’”

“It’s very easy,” she said, “to blame people who criticize certain acts of the Israeli government as ‘anti-Semitic’ and use that claim to justify everything Israel does to the Palestinians.”

Examples abound of critics of Israel silenced in this way. One telling story is that of once-famous journalist Dorothy Thompson, who was virtually erased from history after writing about the Palestinian cause. Read about her here and here.

[3] Dictionaries all agreed on this meaning, with one exception that caused considerable outrage. This was Merriam-Webster’s mammoth unabridged dictionary, which included a second meaning: “opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel.”

When some people discovered this extra, Israel-related meaning in 2004 and raised objections to it, there was a general outcry that the additional meaning was inaccurate and should be removed, including by New York Times columnist and linguistics arbiter Jeffrey Nunberg, who wrote that it “couldn’t be defended.”

Merriam-Webster responded by saying that the extra meaning would “probably be dropped when the company published a new unabridged version in a decade or so.” The company hasn’t published a new version yet, but it seems to have followed through with this decision. The online version of the unabridged dictionary, which says it is updated with the latest words and meanings, makes no mention of Israel or Zionism.

[4] An increasingly common Israeli talking point is the claim that it’s antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their “right to self-determination.” This is disingenuous: Self-determination is the right of people on a land to determine their own political status, not the right of some people to expel others in order to form an exclusive state on confiscated land. In reality, the principle of self-determination would have had the Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of historic Palestine forming a government for all of them, and today would give Palestinians living under Israeli occupation the freedom to determine their own destiny.

[5] Michael Whine, Jeremy Jones, Israeli Roni Stauber, Felice Gaer, Israeli Yehuda Bauer, Michael Berenbaum and Andy Baker, and later on, AJC’s Deidre Berger, previously an NPR reporter.

[6] The other witnesses were representatives of the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations, American Jewish Committee, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Anti-Defamation League, National Conference for Soviet Jewry, B’nai B’rith International, World Jewish Congress, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shai Franklin, and Jay Lefkowitz of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.

[7] An organization called Students Supporting Israel (SSI) takes credit for most of these initiatives. Created in 2012 at the University of Minnesota by Israeli Ilan Sinelnikov and his sister, Valeria Chazin, SSI now has chapters on over 40 college campuses around the U.S., at least three high schools, and some campuses in Canada. In 2015 Israel’s Midwest Consulate chose SSI to receive the award for “Outstanding Pro Israel Activism.” Campus Hillels are also frequently involved.

The bill at Chapman University passed but was vetoed. Another vote will probably be proposed in in the fall.

[8] For information on additional Israel-centered campaigns, see the works of Israeli strategist Yehezkel Dror, such as his paper “Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy toward the European Union

[9] The AJC’s Andy Baker reported: “It is part of police-training materials in the UK.”

[10] An antifa group in France, for example, reportedly shut down a talk by an anti-Zionist intellectual.

[11] A number of analysts have also suggested that some antisemitism may at times be an (inappropriate) response to Israeli violence and oppression of Palestinians. Yale Chaplain Bruce Shipman pointed out in a letter to the New York Times that an earlier period of reported rising antisemitism in Europe paralleled “the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.” Israel partisans were outraged and Shipman was soon required to resign.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Israeli settlers reportedly destroy Palestinian-owned water well near Bethlehem

Ma’an – May 3, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Israeli settlers destroyed a Palestinian-owned water well on Tuesday in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinians news agency Wafa.

Hasan Brijiyeh, a local activist from the separation wall and settlements’ committee in Bethlehem, told Wafa that a group of Israeli settlers destroyed the well under the protection of Israeli forces, identifying the owner of the well as Ahmad Ghnaim.

The 100-square-meter well was built almost 250 years ago, according to the report, and is located near the illegal settlement outpost of Sde Boaz, built on Palestinian-owned land.

Two weeks ago, Wafa reported that Israeli settlers from Sde Boaz razed privately-owned Palestinian land in the Wadi al-Ghawit area in the western outskirts of al-Khader, and physically assaulted the Palestinian landowner.

Sde Boaz, also known as Nevi Daniel North, was established in 2002 when settlers from the established illegal Nevi Daniel settlement took over a hilltop about 1.5 kilometers north of Nevi Daniel.

Israeli settlers from Sde Boaz destroyed over 300 newly planted grape vines belonging to the Sbeihs in 2014.

Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The international community regards all settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal, though the Israeli government distinguishes between the state-sponsored settlements and dozens of unauthorized outposts like Sde Boaz.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed the outpost “Regularization law” in February, which could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments