A journalist learns that if you photograph Border Policemen committing a felony, you’ll probably end up paying for it.
Near the end of January 2015, Amin Hassan Raneh Alawiya left his home in East Jerusalem’s Al-Azariya neighborhood and made his way to a wedding. As he later described it in his police complaint, upon leaving the house, lawiya – a photojournalist by profession – noticed a demonstration taking place nearby. Naturally, he picked up his camera and went over to document it. A Border Policeman, whom Alawiya recognized, ordered him to move away. In fact, he gave Alawiya the choice of either moving away, getting arrested or getting shot. Alawiya went back home and photographed from there.
Two policemen then came to the house and called Alawiya to come out. When he did the two cops jumped him. They continued hitting him as he was led to their vehicle, and from what they said on the two-way radio, Alawiya understood that he was to blame for disregarding their instructions. Inside the vehicle, the policemen kept hitting him, one of them shouting “this is for our friend” and “our friend will shoot you,” using the name of a third policeman. One of them also used the opportunity to curse the founder of Islam, Muhammad, until the other one told him to stop.
Who is the third cop? Ah! This is the core of the story. In May 2014, as part of his job, Alawiya documented Border Policemen assaulting a hooded child in East Jerusalem, after he was suspected of throwing stones. The policemen also took photos of themselves with the wounded child. The “friend” is one of those documented in Alawiya’s video, which enjoyed widespread distribution on Al Jazeera and other networks. Ever since, he says, he became a target for the Border Police in East Jerusalem, which he claims prevent him from filming in the city and even broke one of his cameras.
Alawiya’s detention in January was part of the Border Police’s quest for vengeance. One of the problems with police forces, particularly forces that are not subject to serious oversight, is that they tend to become a kind of gang: the permeation of a culture of violence and lies becomes common. We have seen the violence, now let’s deal with the deceitfulness.
After his detention, Alawiya was held, handcuffed and blindfolded, in the Abu Dis Border Police base for some two hours. He was then transferred to the police station in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Edumim. There he requested to file a complaint of assault against the cops, but the officer present refused to receive the complaint, and told him he should turn to Israel’s Internal Affairs Division. As we will see, this was a hollow demand that reflected the police’s negligence. Alawiya was immediately informed that he was charged with assaulting and obstructing an officer. The police then demanded Alawiya sign a document saying he was not attacked by the police. He did so, but added in Arabic that it was he who was assaulted. Soon afterward, Alawiya was led to an interrogation room, where he was informed by the interrogator that he was suspected of obstructing an officer.
Did you get what, according to the complaint, just happened? Prior to signing a document saying he was not assaulted by the police, Alawiya was accused of assaulting an officer. After he signed the document, the charge of assaulting an officer simply evaporated. There is a method here, well-known to veterans of demonstrations in Israel and East Jerusalem: as soon as you complain about police brutality, you are automatically charged with assaulting an officer.
When a police force fabricates a complaint against a civilian, especially after he complains of being assaulted by a cop, there is, to put it mildly, a gross misunderstanding of the function of the police. Its duty is to maintain law and order, not to protect itself. When it distorts reality, it lies to itself, to the public that pays its salary and to the courts. When it pins false charges on a person, it is conspiring to damage his good name, his livelihood, and in the worst case scenario, deprives him of his liberty. It then ceases to be the servant of the public and becomes its enemy; it ceases being a vehicle for safeguarding human rights and becomes a tool for their denial.
Alawiya couldn’t file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division, since he lives in East Jerusalem, specifically in a neighborhood that lies east of the separation wall. Despite the fact that Israeli Police (which includes the Border Police) have been active in East Jerusalem since it was occupied in 1967, there is no Internal Affairs Division station there. In order to lodge a complaint, Alawiya either needs a permit to enter Israel, or needs to use mediators such as human rights organizations. He says that ever since he documented the young boy being abused in May 2014, his permit has been denied.
And if you thought that was bad, the story doesn’t end there: a relative of Alawiya paid NIS 2,000 for his release on bail, since being assaulted by police and and then being wrongfully detained means you need to post bail. The relative, however, did not receive a receipt for the money. What happens to money given to a policeman when no receipt is given? Your guess is as good as mine.
In March 2014, Yesh Din Attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, sent a complaint to the Internal Affairs Division, demanding an immediate investigation on suspicion of, inter alia, false arrest, assault, abuse of the power of office and conduct unbecoming.
Given that in 93 percent of the complaints submitted in 2011-2014, the Internal Affairs Division closed the case without any investigation; that of the 11,282 complaints in the years 2011-2013, only 2.7 percent turned into indictments; and that the former chief of the division is on record saying that the police suffer from a “culture of lies” and that policemen cover for each other, one cannot hope too much that a journalist who exposed the face of the police will see justice. And these, we note, are the results for all complaints to the Internal Affairs Division, not just those by Palestinians. We’ll keep you posted.
An Israeli Court ruled Monday on the removal of Susiya Bedouin village, in Masafer Yatta area, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after colonists of the illegal Susya settlement, demanded the removal of the Palestinian enclave.
Coordinator of the Popular and National Committee in southern Hebron Rateb Jabour told the WAFA News agency that the Israeli decision could be enforced at any given moment, rendering dozens of residents homeless.
He added that the head of the Susiya Village Council Jihad Nawaj’a, received an official Israeli order informing him of the intention to remove the village.
Nawaj’a stated that the Susiya has been subject to dozens of violations and assaults by Israeli soldiers and fanatical colonizers.
“Our village is a historic area; Israel wants to remove us to control it,” he added, “There are many Islamic and Roman archeological sites here.”
The villagers have been constantly suffering, and literally fighting for their very existence, since Israel started the construction of Susya colony in 1983 on privately owned lands belonging to five Palestinian families from Yatta.
The villagers were forcibly removed from their village in 1986, and relocated to the current location, yet again, are facing the same fate.
Removing the village means displacing at least 50 families, and the illegal annexation of hundreds of Dunams of private Palestinian lands.
Nawaj’a said the residents have all deeds proving ownership of their lands, but Israel continues to displace them, in addition to constantly preventing them from having any access to running water, electricity and other basic services.
Several Palestinian, Israel and international human rights groups frequently warned of the Israel plans, and said Tel Aviv is planning to destroy 13 Palestinian villages in Hebron, under the pretext of “being located in military training zones.”
Removing the 13 communities would lead to the displacement of around 1,650 persons.
Photo from facebook.com/nejtaktilbsp
The Danish Palestinian Friendship Association said Monday it would expand its anti-settlement advertising campaign after Copenhagen bus operator Movia said it was dropping their ads from buses in the city.
The advertisements were put on 35 buses in the Danish capital and featured two women and the quote: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”
But Movia said they dropped them after four days because of the number of inquiries they received about what the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association stands for, AFP reports.
[We] “received a significant number of inquiries regarding the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association’s campaign against Israeli settlements.”
The company declined to comment but released a statement saying the ads were “unnecessarily offensive.”
Fathi El-Abed, the Chairman of the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association, however said that the ads were harmless.
“It’s a clear attempt to deny us our freedom of speech. There is nothing whatsoever about this campaign that is harmful, discriminatory or hateful in any way,” he told AFP.
He insisted that his organization would press on with a national advertising campaign on Israeli settlements.
El-Abed also said that his group was supported by people “who’ve never had anything to do with the Palestinian cause.”
Christian Juhl, a lawmaker from the Red-Green Alliance, said that he thought the decision by the bus company was “embarrassing.”
The decision by Movia is in stark contrast to their refusal last year to drop ads featuring bare breasts by a plastic surgery clinic after complaints by feminists.
In New York an arguably far more offensive ad campaign was allowed on buses after a judge overturned a ban in April from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
The adverts were commissioned by the pro-Israeli American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and featured a masked man next to the caption “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah. That’s his Jihad. What’s yours?”
The adverts were a spoof of an earlier far less offensive campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which encouraged Twitter users to post messages with the hashtag MyJihad where they would right about their personal and peaceful achievements.
There were also ads showing a 1941 photo of a Muslim leader meeting Hitler, which appeared on buses in Philadelphia, which were also organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a pro-Israel group led by blogger Pamela Geller.
AFDI was also behind the contest in Texas on Sunday to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad, which ISIS attempted to attack.
The latest ads come after ads linking “Islamic Jew-hatred” with Adolf Hitler appeared in San Francisco In January and in Washington DC last year.
The campaign to boycott Israeli produce and companies operating in the areas of the West Bank, which have been occupied by Israeli settlers, began in 2005, although its effectiveness in stopping the settlement program and its impact on the Israeli economy has been questioned.
The issue of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank is one of the main stalling factors in the now dead Palestine-Israeli peace talks.
In an interview Sunday with the Financial Times and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jimmy Carter, former American President and peace activist, said the peace process was dead because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would never accept a Palestinian state.
File photo IMEMC
We see how seriously the prosecution takes its role when we realize it closed a file for lack of evidence — without so much as noticing the evidence.
The location was Qusra, a village in the Shiloh Valley; the date, September 16, 2011. Fathallah Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Rhoda went out with his three sons to pick figs. A short while after reaching their land, they noticed about 10 Israeli civilians standing around their water hole. The Palestinians demanded the Israelis leave the place; the interlopers refused. The residents of Qusra — a village that has already proven it can defend itself against marauders — began heading to the area. An argument ensued, and according to Abu Rhoda’s testimony to the police, three of the settlers (who were armed) opened fire on the Palestinians. One bullet hit Abu Rhoda in the thigh.
Of the three, two were armed with rifles and the other with a handgun. From the police testimony, we see that the handgun’s owner also sicked a dog on the Palestinians. The complainants managed to photograph some of their attackers, among them the handgun owner.
Four days after the incident, Abu Rhoda filed a complaint with the police. Almost three years later, on August 6, 2014, the prosecution informed us that it closed the case for lack of evidence. After a series of 14 phone calls, we managed to photocopy the case file on December 15, 2014 — more than four months after the case was closed. However, it was immediately apparent some of the material was missing. We continued requesting it until February 2015.
From the evidence we finally received, it turns out that there is more than enough evidence to indict the handgun owner, E. As previously mentioned, E. was identified by the Palestinians victims, and they even supplied the police with photos of him at the scene, which clearly show him holding a handgun in one hand and the dog in the other. The police picked up cartridges from the scene, and a ballistic fingerprinting – which took place on September 27, 2011 – found that one of the cartridges came from a 9mm Glock pistol (the others were fired from rifles.) E. was summoned for an investigation, invoked his right to remain silent, but admitted he owned a Glock. The gun was duly turned over to the police, which sent it to a ballistic fingerprinting. In February 2012 the police expert reached the conclusion that there is a match between the cartridges fired from E.’s handgun and the those that were examined on September 27.
In total, the following evidence was marshaled against E.:
A. He was identified and photographed by the complainants.
B. His handgun was identified as the one fired during the incident.
Despite the evidence, the police recommended that the case against E. be closed due to — get this — lack of evidence. The recommendation was accepted by the prosecution. Embarrassingly, the prosecution admitted this to us only in January 2015 — 10 months after it closed the case for lack of evidence. Only as a result of our request for more case files did the prosecution learn about the September 2011 memorandum, which identified the type of handgun owned by E. That is, when the prosecution decided to close the case for lack of evidence, it was lacking a major piece of evidence.
What about the two other shooters? I’m glad you asked. The police chased one of the suspects into the Esh Kodesh outpost, even so much as detaining him after he fled. However, despite the fact that the suspect fled arrest and refused to identify himself, there is no indication in the material we received from the police that any investigative action was taken against him. There is, for instance, no sign that he was even interrogated or gave testimony; he was detained, and immediately released.
The third suspect managed to flee in a vehicle and reach Esh Kodesh. The police identified the owner of the vehicle as well as another person who was with him in the car during the chase. But, lo and behold, the police neither bothered to interrogate them nor attempt to identify the third shooter.
This is how the police and the prosecution treat a violent incident, in which three Israeli civilians open fire on Palestinians who are on their own land. In a case that contains such clear forensic evidence, they managed, with extraordinary negligence, not to notice it. And in the other cases? They simply do not investigate.
In the beginning of March, our attorney Anu Deuel Lusky (briskly aided by Moriyah Shlomot) appealed the decision, asking the prosecution to bring E. to trial and conduct further investigations that would lead to the capture of the other two suspects. To quote the appeal:
“This appeal, in both its parts, raises a harsh and heavy feeling that both the police and the prosecution betrayed their duties as bodies entrusted with maintaining law and order. The current situation – in which the lives, bodies and property of Palestinians, considered protected persons by international law, can be harmed with impunity, both as a result of settler violence and as a result of law enforcement entities standing aside, not making the minimal effort to bring lawbreakers to justice – is intolerable, and undermines the rule of law.”
One wonders what is left of the rule of law after it has been so brazenly undermined.
A protest in Tel Aviv over police mistreatment of Ethiopian Jews turned violent Sunday, resulting in 57 officers being injured, according to the Zionist police.
Most of those injuries were minor, according to police, but one officer was described to be “moderately injured.” Police say 12 protestors were injured. The extent of those injuries is not known, according to CNN.
The planned demonstration by the Ethiopian Jewish community — incensed over a video gone viral that shows a uniformed IOF soldier of Ethiopian descent being assaulted by police — had been peaceful for hours before things took a violent turn.
Authorities employed horses, water cannons and smoke to disperse the crowd in Rabin Square, where demonstrators had been chanting slogans such as “a violent cop should be in jail.”
Forty-three protesters were arrested, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
The videotaped episode from April 26 was a tipping point for Ethiopian Jews, some 125,000 strong, who say they have long felt like second-class citizens since arriving in two waves of mass immigration in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying that “all claims will be looked into but there is no place for violence and such disturbances.” Netanyahu will meet with Pakada on Monday, as well as with leaders in the Ethiopian community, according to the statement.
In the 1976 docudrama about the Watergate affair and the fall of Richard Nixon, All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward’s source at the FBI, Deep Throat, tells him to “follow the money.” To the Washington Post editorial board in 2015, doing just that is problematic—and probably anti-Semitic. Or at least that’s their charge in a piece published last Friday entitled, “Argentina’s President Resorts to Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories,” the Post opens by asking:
What do lobbyists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the director of a Washington think tank have to do with hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and the Argentine prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously in January? Well, according to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, they are all part of a “global modus operandi” that “generates international political operations of any type, shape and color.”[Links added]
The Post’s problem is that Kirchner posted a “rant” on her website highlighting the fact that Paul Singer—whose hedge fund, Elliott Management, is seeking to force Argentina to repay the full amount of its defaulted debt—has contributed a whole lot of cash to the same neoconservative organizations in Washington that have been tarring the South American nation as a deadbeat ally of Iranian-backed terrorism. These same groups have also uncritically promoted the work of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who in 2006 issued a highly controversial 900-page indictment charging seven senior Iranian officials with ordering the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), that killed 85 people. Nisman died in his apartment from a bullet to the head January 18, the night before he was set to testify before the Argentine congress in support of new charges that Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, had conspired with Tehran to quash international arrest warrants against those same Iranians, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and then President Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani, in exchange for a favorable trade agreement.
Making the Links
In 2013, Inter Press Service (IPS) ran a two-part feature by Charles (here and here) on the links between Singer and Nisman’s neoconservative fan club in the United States. The Argentine press and the president herself recently cited this work. The Post, however, plays dumb: “How do Singer, AIPAC and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [FDD] come into this?” it asks.
Mr. Singer—or “the Vulture Lord,” as Ms. Kirchner called him—won a court battle on behalf of holders of Argentine debt last year; Ms. Kirchner chose to default rather than pay. Mr. Dubowitz’s think tank has published papers on Argentine-Iranian relations, while AIPAC has criticized the Obama administration’s preliminary nuclear deal with Iran. Confused?
Conspicuously and no doubt consciously missing from the Post’s retelling is the fourth sentence of Kirchner’s “rant”: “[Singer] contributed to the NGO Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), $3.6 million from 2008 to 2014.” By leaving this out, the Post is better able to pretend the only link between Singer and Dubowitz and Nisman is their Judaism.
Argentina, whose politics are reputedly as byzantine and Machiavellian as any country’s, does indeed have a history of anti-Semitism. Not only did it offer a refuge to fleeing Nazis after World War II, but the military junta that took power in 1976 included elements that extolled the Third Reich, as eloquently retold by perhaps the most famous survivor of the junta’s torture chambers, Jacobo Timerman (the foreign minister’s late father) in his 1981 book, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number.
Kirchner may indeed have a political interest in claiming that an international conspiracy is defaming her government, but the evidence for such a conspiracy in this case is much stronger than the Post suggests. As noted above, millions of dollars have flowed from Singer’s pockets to the various neoconservative groups whose advocacy of confrontation with Iran has extended to attacking Argentina, in particular over its ties to the Islamic Republic.
Singer, who sits on the board of the hawkish Republican Jewish Coalition, turns out to be a generous funder of not only FDD, but AIPAC and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), as well as a number of other right-wing groups and politicians that have stoked hostility toward Iran. In 2010, for example, his personal and family foundations contributed a combined $1 million to the American Israel Education Foundation, the fundraising wing of AIPAC and the sponsor of its congressional junkets to Israel. The $3.6 million he gave to FDD between 2008 and 2011, meanwhile, makes him the group’s second largest donor during those three years. So, it’s pretty clear that what ties AIPAC and FDD together is not only their anti-Iran efforts, but also Paul Singer’s largesse. And that’s the link Kirchner highlights but the Post leaves out.
Make no mistake: Singer and Elliott Management stand to make as much as $2 billion if they can collect full value on the debt they bought for pennies on the dollar after the country’s 2001 default. About 93 percent of Argentina’s bondholders agreed to accept a fraction of what they were originally owed (a fact the Post also conveniently omitted). But Singer—who has done this sort of thing before with other nations that have defaulted on their debt—sued in U.S. court to recover the full amount, a move the Kirchner government has fought every step of the way. The Obama administration and the International Monetary Fund, as well as most of Latin America and Washington’s closest European allies, have also sided with Argentina, viewing Singer’s actions as a threat to the international financial system.
The Iranian “Connection”
What has this got to do with Nisman, though? His allegations of Iranian direction in the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires—and subsequent charges that the Kirchner government was trying to cover up that involvement so as to not undermine its growing economic relations with the Tehran—proved quite useful in another arena: the court of public and congressional opinion. According to IPS’s Gareth Porter, Nisman’s 2006 indictments were based virtually entirely on the testimony of a long-discredited former Iranian intelligence officer and several members of the cult-like Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war.
But the claims have undoubtedly been useful to Singer’s cause. “We do whatever we can to get our government and media’s attention focused on what a bad actor Argentina is,” Robert Raben, executive director of the American Task Force Argentina (ATFA) explained to The Huffington Post. ATFA, a group Singer helped create with other hold-out creditors in 2007, spent at least $3.8 million dollars over 5 years doing whatever it could to paint Argentina as a pariah, according to IPS. Connecting the Kirchner government to Iran has clearly furthered that purpose.
“Argentina and Iran: Shameful Allies” was the headline of one ATFA ad that ran in Washington newspapers back in June 2013 as the Obama administration was considering whether to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Argentina’s favour. The ad featured adjoining photos of Kirchner and outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad connected by the question, “A Pact With the Devil?”
“What’s the TRUTH About Argentina’s Deal with Iran?” asked another very flashy full-page ad featuring unflattering photos of Kirchner and Hassan Rouhani published in the Post’s front section shortly thereafter. The ad included excerpts of letters denouncing the joint investigation from members of Congress, including Mark Kirk (R-IL) who received more than $95,000 from employees of Singer’s firm, Elliott Management, in the 2010 election. The signer of one letter urging the administration against siding with Argentina, former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)—who after his re-election in 2014 pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion and resigned shortly thereafter—received $38,000 in campaign contributions from Elliott in 2012, nearly twice as much as his next largest donor.
Singer’s generosity also appears to have produced results in the think tank world, with Dubowitz’s FDD leading the way. In May 2013, as ATFA was running the Kirchner-Ahmadinejad ad, FDD release an English-language summary of a new “ground-breaking” report by Nisman detailing “Iran’s extensive terrorist network in Latin America.” (In an extended exchange with ProPublica here and here, Jim pointed out the summary’s many serious holes, leaps of logic, and other weaknesses.) The report triggered a flood of op-eds by FDD fellows and fellow-travellers at other neo-conservative organizations, as well as a series of hearings held by the House Homeland Security Subcommittee. According to FDD’s vice president, Toby Dershowitz, the report provided:
a virtual road map for how Iran’s long arm of terrorism can reach unsuspecting communities and that the AMIA attack was merely the canary in the coal mine. …The no-holds-barred, courageous report is a ‘must read’ for policy makers and law enforcement around the world and Nisman himself should be tapped for his guidance and profound understanding of Iran’s terrorism strategy.
Nisman’s death, on the eve of his testimony before the Argentine Congress about his charges against Kirchner and Timerman (since dismissed by two courts), produced another outpouring of articles by FDD fellows recalling the prosecutor’s tireless efforts to document Iran’s alleged involvement in the AMIA bombings and Kirchner’s purported courtship of Iran. Within a month, FDD announced the establishment of an “Alberto Nisman Award for Courage.” “We must pay careful attention to the detailed Iranian playbook he left behind and from it, heed important lessons in counter-terrorism and law enforcement,” Dershowitz said in the announcement. (For an interesting take on Nisman’s work, see “Why Nisman is No Hero in Argentine Bombing Case” by Argentine journalist Graciela Mochkofsky published last month in The Forward.)
Although FDD clearly lent itself with gusto to Singer’s efforts to tar Argentina and Kirchner with the Iranian brush, AIPAC has been more reserved. It has focused on the issue of Iranian terrorism in its own tireless drive to promote sanctions legislation and a policy of confrontation against the Islamic Republic. In 2010, however, the same year in which Singer and his foundation contributed $1 million to the premier pro-Israel lobby, Nisman was featured on a panel entitled, “Dangerous Liaisons: Iran’s Alliances With Rogue Regimes” at the group’s annual policy conference.
AEI Joins In
As for AEI, Singer would find it attractive not only for its pro-Israel hawkishness and long-standing hostility toward Iran and leftist governments everywhere, but also to its domestic agenda: a hands-off policy toward Wall Street. In other words, he may have had several reasons to give the group $1.1 million in 2009—its second-biggest donor that year—and another $1.2 million over the next two. Whatever his reasons, those who received those millions surely (and demonstrably) knew well enough not to upset their benefactor. And AEI fellow Roger Noriega, a former senior Bush administration official, has certainly pushed the Argentina-Iran/Nisman connection.
As Charles reported in 2013, Noriega has himself been paid at least $60,000 by Elliott Management since 2007—the same year AFTA was founded—to lobby on the issue of “Sovereign Debt Owed to a U.S. Company.” In 2011, he published an article on AEI’s website citing Nisman’s AMIA indictment and denouncing Iran’s offer to cooperate with Argentina in investigating the AMIA bombing as “shocking, in light of Tehran’s apparent complicity in that attack.” The article—“Argentina’s Secret Deal With Iran?”—cited secret documents suggesting that Tehran and Buenos Aires had recently renewed their cooperation on nuclear development as part of a deal “brokered and paid for” by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Two years later, Noriega and Jose Cardenas, a contributor to AEI’s “Venezuela-Iran Project,” co-authored a seven-page policy brief on AEI’s website entitled “Argentina’s Race to the Bottom,” which, among other things, charged that Kirchner’s government was “casting its lot with rogue governments like those in Venezuela and Iran.” Noting that two-way trade with Iran had grown from $339 million in 2002 to $18.1 billion in 2011, the article asserted:
…[T]he Kirchner government has been turning its back on its historical alliances and increasingly tilting its economic relationships toward countries of dubious international standing where rule of law is less of a concern.
And a week after FDD announced its Nisman Award for Courage, Noriega was back at it with an article headlined “Argentina’s Kirchner Reeling from Scandal.” The piece called for a “credible international investigation into Nisman’s case… to ensure that his 10-year search for the truth was not in vain and that justice is attained not only for his family but also for the victims of the 1994 AMIA bombing.” In a veiled reference to Singer’s quest, he wrote:
From ongoing battles with bondholders playing out in a New York courtroom to pressuring critical news outlets through threats and intimidation to failed attempts to jumpstart a flagging economy, the Kirchner administration cannot end soon enough for many Argentines. Candidates lining up to replace Kirchner in the October elections will likely position themselves as far away from the kirchnerista record as possible. A new administration will have ample opportunity – and likely significant public support – to chart a new economic course. That means reconciling with international financial institutions and markets, restoring trust among foreign investors, and rooting out corruption.
Perhaps Noriega is simply interested in tarring Argentina with the Iranian brush in keeping with his long-standing crusade against any Latin American government that defies Washington’s writ. But like others engaged in this campaign, he and his organization have been paid generously by a very wealthy individual with a clear financial stake in seeing that Argentina’s current government is excised from the community of respectable nations, at least until it pays what he thinks he is owed.
If the Post had “followed the money,” it perhaps would not have been so “confused” by the connections Kirchner highlighted between Singer and those who have attacked her government over its allegedly nefarious relations with Iran. Ignoring Deep Throat’s advice and acting as if that trail of money doesn’t exist allowed the paper to better roll out the powerful charge of anti-Semitism. In truth, it’s not the president of Argentina’s supposed bigotry that offends, though, but the powerful enemies she’s made (and how much they’re worth).
A lane, a narrow passage to Jallianwala Bagh Garden inside the old city of Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. It is a monument now, one of the testaments to madness and crimes committed by the British Empire during its colonial reign over Sub-Continent.
This is where, on April 13, 1919, thousands of people gathered, demanding release of two of their detained leaders, Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin. It was right before the day of Baisakhi, the main Sikh festival, and the pilgrims came to the city, in multitudes, from all corners of Punjab.
The British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer brought fifty Gurkha riflemen to a raised bank, and then ordered them to shoot at the crowd.
Bipan Chandra, an Indian historian, wrote in his iconic work, “India’s Struggle for Independence”:
“On the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. The figures released by the British government were 370 dead and 1200 wounded. Other sources place the number dead at well over 1000.”
While reading through the draft of this essay, my friend and comrade, renowned Canadian international lawyer Christopher Black, added:
“… At the investigation into the Amritsar massacre, General Dyer said his only regret was that he had not killed more people. He also used armoured cars to block the entrances and machine guns were also used on the crowd. After that the British made people in the streets crawl on the stomachs when they passed a British officer. Terrible, terrible things-and what the British did in Kenya in the 50’s is worse than what the Nazis did in Europe.”
Jallianwala Bagh is now a monument, a testament, a warning. There are bullet holes clearly marked in white, penetrating the walls of surrounding buildings. There is a well, where bodies of countless victims had fallen. Some people had chosen to jump, to escape the bullets.
There is a museum, containing historic documents: statements of defiance and spite from the officials of British Raj, as well as declarations of several maverick Indian figures, including Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest writers of India, who threw his knighthood back in the face of the British oppressors, after he learned about the massacre.
There are old black and white photos of Punjabi people tied to poles, their buttocks exposed, being flogged by shorts-wearing British soldiers, who were apparently enjoying their heinous acts.
There is also a statement of General Dyer himself. It is chilling, arrogant and unapologetic statement:
“I fired and continued to fire until the crowd dispersed, and I consider this is the least amount of firing which would produce the necessary moral and widespread effect it was my duty to produce if I was to justify my action. If more troops had been at hand the casualties would have been greater in proportion. It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd, but one of producing a sufficient moral effect from a military point of view not only on those who were present, but more especially throughout the Punjab. There could be no question of undue severity.”
Not everyone in India is outraged by former crimes of the British Empire. Some want to forget and to “move on”, especially those closely linked to the establishment; to the new corporate and pro-Western India, where education is being privatized, mass media controlled by big business interests, and progressive ideologies buried under unsavory layers of greed.
At the grounds of Jallianwala Bagh, Anand P. Mishra, Professor at O. P. Jindal Global University, Haryana, spreads his arms:
“This happened almost 100 years ago and I don’t hold any grudges towards British, anymore.”
But when I approach Ms. Garima Sahata, a Punjabi student, she does not hide her feelings towards the British Empire and the West:
“I feel ager, thinking what they had done to our people. I think it is important for us to come here and to see the remnants of the massacre. I still feel angry towards the British people, even now… but in a different way… They are not killing us the same way, as they used to in the past, but they are killing us nevertheless.”
The British Empire was actually based on enforcing full submission and obedience on its local subjects, in all corners of the world; it was based on fear and terror, on disinformation, propaganda, supremacist concepts, and on shameless collaboration of the local “elites”. “Law and order” was maintained by using torture and extra-judiciary executions, “divide and rule” strategies, and by building countless prisons and concentration camps.
To kill 1,000 or more “niggers,” to borrow from the colorful, racist dictionary of Lloyd George, who was serving as British Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922, was never something that Western empires would feel ashamed of. For centuries, the British Kingdom was murdering merrily, all over Africa and the Middle East, as well as in the Punjab, Kerala, Gujarat, in fact all over the Sub-Continent. In London the acts of smashing unruly nations were considered as something “normal”, even praiseworthy. Commanders in charge of slaughtering thousands of people in the colonies were promoted, not demoted, and their statues have been decorating countless squares and government buildings.
The British Empire has been above the law. All rights to punish “locals” were reserved. But British citizens were almost never punished for their horrendous crimes committed in foreign lands.
When the Nazis grabbed power in Germany, they immediately began enjoying a dedicated following from the elites in the United Kingdom. It is because British colonialism and German Nazism were in essence not too different from each other.
Today’s Western Empire is clearly following its predecessor. Not much has changed. Technology improved, that is about all.
Standing at the monument of colonial carnage in Punjab, I recalled dozens of horrific crimes of the British Empire, committed all over the world:
I thought about those concentration camps in Africa, and about the stations where slaves who were first hunted down like animals were shackled and beaten, then put on boats and forced to undergo voyages to the “new world” – voyages that most of them never managed to survive. I thought about murder, torture, flogging, raping women and men, destruction of entire countries, tribes and families. It is all connected: colonialism, present-day riots in Baltimore, horrid ruins of Africa.
In Kenya, near Voi, I was shown a British prison for resistance cadres, which was surrounded by wilderness and dangerous animals. This is where the leaders of local rebellions were jailed, tortured and exterminated.
In Uganda, I was told stories about how British colonizers used to humiliate local people and break their pride: in the villages, they would hunt down the tallest and the strongest man; they would shackled him, beat him up, and then the British officer would rape him, sodomize him in public, so there would be no doubts left of who was in charge.
In the Middle East, people still remember those savage chemical bombings of the “locals”, the extermination of entire tribes. Winston Churchill made it clear, on several occasions: “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas,” he told the House of Commons during an address in the autumn of 1937. “I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.”
In Malaya, I was told, as the Japanese were approaching, British soldiers were chaining locals to the cannons, forcing them to fight and die.
The Brits triggered countless famines all over India, killing dozens of millions. To them, Indian people were not humans. When Churchill was begged to send food to Bengal that was ravished by famine in 1943, he replied that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits” and that the plague was “merrily” culling the population. At least 3 million died.
Wherever the British Empire, or any other European empire, grabbed control over the territory – in Africa, Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, in Sub-Continent, Oceania – horror and brutality reigned.
V. Arun Kumar, MPhil in International Organization and researcher at Jawaharlal Nehru University, expressed his feelings regarding Partition, doubtlessly one more terrible result of the British “divide and rule” policy:
“India and Pakistan, two children born out of the same mother’s womb have today reached at a juncture where no mother would bear. From their birth and to more than sixty years down the history, India and Pakistan has gained the label of archenemies. These two countries have fought numerous wars over a narrow thread that divides them – which they call as border. State machinery on the both sides has constructed massive hatred-mongering propaganda programs, which ensure constant creation of fear psychosis in the minds of people against the other. Even when two countries are not in actual war, they are always in a state of war. A visit to Wagah border between India and Pakistan, one can see the mockery of peace, when soldiers on the both side perform a war like aggressive drill manoeuvre while opening the gates at the border. And the sea of people on both sides enthusiastically claps shouting abusive slogans on the other country- forgetting that they are abusing their own siblings.”
Beautifully said, and so true!
Only 30 kilometers from Amritsar, one of the most grotesque events on earth takes place: “Lowering of the Flag” on the Indian/Pakistani border. Here, what is often described as the perfectly choreographed expression of hate, takes place in front of thousands of visitors from both countries.
Wagah Border has even tribunes built to accommodate aggressive spectators. It goes everyday like this:
“Death to Pakistan!
Long Live India!”
“Death to India! Long live Pakistan!”
“Hindustaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan Zindabad!!!!!!” They shout here, “Long Live India!!!!” and those endless spasms are immediately followed by barks glorifying India and insulting Pakistan. And vice versa.
Border guards, male and female, are then performing short marches, at a tremendously aggressive and fast pace, towards the border gate. The public, sick from the murderous heat and the fascist, nationalist idiocy, speeches and shouts, is roaring.
As I am made to sit on the pavement, right next to the border gate of Wagah, squeezed between two corpulent women wearing sweat-soaked saris, flies are buzzing all over my cameras. Here I feel hate being omnipresent: there is hate expressed by the Indian crowd towards Pakistan, hate of the border guards towards its own unruly crowd, even hate of the crowd towards me, a daring foreigner who came, most likely, to poke fun at this insane martial ceremony.
The issue is so explosive, that my friends from nearby Lahore conveniently “forgot” to supply me with their quote. Few people in New Delhi “forgot” as well.
Now, Punjab is split, because that old “divide and rule” scheme was applied here meticulously, as it was almost everywhere at the Sub-Continent.
The British never really left: they live in the minds of the Indian elites.
Punjab suffered terribly during the Partition, and later, too, from brutality of the Indian state. In fact, almost all of India is now suffering, unable to shake off those racist, religious and social prejudices.
Delhi behaves like a colonialist master in Kashmir (where it is committing one of the most brutal genocides on earth), the Northeast and in several other areas. Indian elites are almost as ruthless and barbaric as were the British colonizers; the faces changed, but the power system remained almost intact.
It goes without saying that the Indian elites, disciples and admirers of the British Raj, are treating their own people with similar spite and cruelty.
The seeds sown by the British Raj have been inherited by several successive states of the Sub-Continent. They are now growing, blooming into a tremendous toxic and murderous insanity. Instead of turning against the homicidal elites, the poor majority is yelling nationalist slogans.
Everything here is deeply connected: the colonial torture, the post-colonial genocides, the prostitution of the local elites, who are offering themselves to the Western rulers of the world, the over-militarization, the institutionalized spite for the poor and for the lower castes and classes.
Confusion is omnipresent. Words and terminology have lost their meanings. Dust, injustice, pain and insecurity are everywhere.
Anyone who claims that colonialism is dead is either a liar or a madman.
And if this – the direct result of colonialism – is “democracy”, then we should all, immediately, take a bus in the opposite direction!
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.
The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has approved funding for Israel’s missile systems and an amendment authorizing research and development of an anti-tunneling system.
The committee allocated $474 million for the Iron Dome short-range missile system, the David’s Sling medium-range system and the Arrow program. The bills are now awaiting approval from the US Senate.
The $267.6 million funds for research on the anti-tunneling system show Washington and Tel Aviv’s concern about the underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are used by the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas to bring in vital goods and other necessities for the people living under Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.
On April 30, the UN urged Israel to end its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has urged the US Congress to approve the funds.
“AIPAC urges the full House and Senate to include these vital funds in the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2016 defense authorization and appropriations bills,” AIPAC said in a statement.
The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually.
The Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights issued its monthly report on Israeli violations against the Palestinians during April of 2015, and said that seven Palestinians were killed, and 375 were injured.
The report documents Israeli violations against the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.
Head of the Ahrar Center Fuad al-Khoffash said occupied Jerusalem remains the most targeted district compared to other Palestinian districts in the occupied West Bank, especially since the soldiers and police conduct daily violations against the Palestinians, their homes and property.
Three Palestinians were killed in the last week of April, while at least 39 others, including four children have been injured.
Two other children were also wounded due to the explosion of a remnant object of the Israeli military, south of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank.
Two Palestinian civilians were killed in two separate incidents in Hebron and Jenin in the West Bank, while the third, who was a child, was killed at a military checkpoint in occupied Jerusalem.
In occupied Jerusalem also, 26 Palestinian civilians, including two paramedics, were wounded during protests that followed the killing of the child; 12 others, including three children, were wounded during other protests in the West Bank and the fourth child was wounded in the Gaza Strip.
Ahrar said the army kidnapped at least 19 Palestinian women, including legislator Khaleda Jarrar, and that most of the arrests took place in the courtyards of the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. It added that the army kidnapped at least 55 children, mainly in Jerusalem, followed Hebron and Bethlehem, during repeated Israeli military invasions and assaults.
In occupied Jerusalem, soldiers kidnapped at least 113 Palestinians (including the 55 children), 86 in the southern West Bank District of Hebron, 54 Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, 40 in Bethlehem, 29 in Ramallah, 11 in Qalqilia, 4 in Tulkarem, and one in Salfit.
Palestinians Killed In April, As Documented And Reported By The IMEMC
On 27 April 2015, Israeli forces opened fire at 19-year-old civilian while he was in his farmland near the annexation wall in the west of Arqa village, west of Jenin. As a result, he sustained a bullet wound to the testicles due to which he suffered severe hemorrhage and died hours later.
On 25 April 2015, Israeli forces killed a 20-year-old Palestinian civilian crossing via an electronic gate at the entrance of the Ibrahimi mosque, south of the old city in Hebron, reportedly, after he stabbed an Israeli soldier at the said gate.
On April 24, soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian, near the Zaim military roadblock, east of occupied Jerusalem.
On April 14, a fighter of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, died of serious complications resulting from his injury by an Israeli missile during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza eight months ago.
On April 10, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man during the funeral ceremony of a former detainee, who was denied access to proper medical attention, while being held by Israel.
On April 8, another Palestinian was shot and killed allegedly after stabbing two soldiers, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that historically has been deployed to control and contain the black population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.
The narrative being advanced by corporate media spokespeople gives the impression that the resistance has no rational basis. The impression being established is that this is just another manifestation of the irrationality of non-European people – in particular, Black people – and how they are prone to violence. This is the classic colonial projection employed by all white supremacist settler states, from the U.S., to South Africa and Israel.
The accompanying narrative is that any kind of resistance that does not fit the narrow definition of “non-violent” resistance is illegitimate violence and, therefore, counter-productive because – “violence doesn’t accomplish anything.” Not only does this position falsely equate resistance to oppression as being morally equivalent to the violence of the oppressor, it also attempts to erase the role of violence as being fundamental to the U.S. colonial project.
The history of colonial conquest saw the U.S. settler state shoot and murder its’ way across the land mass of what became the U.S. in the process of stealing indigenous land to expand the racist White republic from “sea to shining sea.” And the marginalization of the role of violence certainly does not reflect the values of the Obama administration that dutifully implements the bi-partisan dictates of the U.S. strategy of full spectrum dominance that privileges military power and oppressive violence to protect and advance U.S. global supremacy. The destruction of Libya; the re-invasion of Iraq; the civil war in Syria; Obama’s continued war in Afghanistan; the pathological assault by Israel on Palestinians in Gaza and the U.S. supported attack on Yemen by the Saudi dictatorship, are just a few of the horrific consequences of this criminal doctrine.
Race and oppressive violence has always been at the center of the racist colonial project that is the U.S. It is only when the oppressed resist — when we decide, like Malcolm X said, that we must fight for our human rights — that we are counseled to be like Dr. King, including by war mongers like Barack Obama. However, resistance to oppression is a right that the oppressed claim for themselves. It does not matter if it is sanctioned by the oppressor state, because that state has no legitimacy.
No rational person exalts violence and the loss of life. But violence is structured into the everyday institutional practices of all oppressive societies. It is the deliberate de-humanization of the person in order to turn them into a ‘thing’ — a process Dr. King called “thing-afication.” It is a necessary process for the oppressor in order to more effectively control and exploit. Resistance, informed by the conscious understanding of the equal humanity of all people, reverses this process of de-humanization. Struggle and resistance are the highest expressions of the collective demand for people-centered human rights – human rights defined and in the service of the people and not governments and middle-class lawyers.
That resistance may look chaotic at this point – spontaneous resistance almost always looks like that. But since the internal logic of neoliberal capital is incapable of resolving the contradiction that it created, expect more repression and more resistance that will eventually take a higher form of organization and permanence. In the meantime, we are watching to see who aligns with us or the racist state.
The contradictions of the colonial/capitalist system in its current expression of neoliberalism have obstructed the creation of decent, humane societies in which all people are valued and have democratic and human rights. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is a confirmation that neoliberal capitalism has created what Chris Hedges called “sacrificial zones” in which large numbers of black and Latino people have been confined and written off as disposable by the system. It is in those zones that we find the escalation of repressive violence by the militarized police forces. And it is in those zones where the people are deciding to fight back and take control of their communities and lives.
These are defining times for all those who give verbal support to anti-racist struggles and transformative politics. For many of our young white comrades, people of color and even some black ones who were too young to have lived through the last period of intensified struggle in the 1960s and ‘70s and have not understood the centrality of African American resistance to the historical social struggles in the U.S., it may be a little disconcerting to see the emergence of resistance that is not dependent on and validated by white folks or anyone else.”
The repression will continue, and so will the resistance. The fact that the resistance emerged in a so-called black city provides some complications, but those are rich and welcoming because they provide an opportunity to highlight one of the defining elements that will serve as a line of demarcation in the African American community – the issue of class. We are going to see a vicious ideological assault by the black middle class, probably led by their champion – Barack Obama – over the next few days. Yet the events over the last year are making it more difficult for these middle-class forces to distort and confuse the issue of their class collaboration with the white supremacist capitalist/colonialist patriarchy. The battle lines are being drawn; the only question that people must ask themselves is which side they’ll be on.
A protester holds a sign reading “No to collective punishment.” (MaanImages)
JERUSALEM – Israeli polices forces violently dispersed a Palestinian protest in the occupied East Jerusalem village of al-Tur on Wednesday, amid complaints that authorities’ closure of the village’s main road is a form of “collective punishment” against locals.
Sources told Ma’an that dozens of residents of the neighborhood on the Mount of Olives as well as foreign activists carried out a sit-in on al-Tur’s main street to protest Israeli authorities’ decision to shut down major thoroughfare Suleiman al-Farsi street with two concrete blocks.
The street was closed earlier this week when locals protested against the death of a 17-year-old boy from the area who was shot dead after a scuffle with a soldier at a nearby checkpoint.
Mufid Abu Ghannam, director of a local activist committee, told Ma’an that Israeli forces assaulted protesters on Wednesday and launched stun grenades at sit-in participants, injuring two people with shrapnel in their lower extremities.
Israeli forces also reportedly detained two Palestinian protesters, Amjad al-Shami and Youssef Khuweis.
Abu Ghannam said that even after protesters had dispersed, Israeli forces continued firing stun grenades at people in the area.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the incident, saying that police used stun grenades against protesters after they blocked roads in what he called an “illegal demonstration” in which “stones were thrown at police officers who were at the scene.”
Rosenfeld denied any injuries in the incident.
The sit-in on the main street of al-Tur was held concurrently with rallies at five schools in the village, where students carried out sit-ins in school yards in protest against the closure of the village’s entrance.
Suleiman al-Farsi Street is considered the main entrance to the village, and local activists told Ma’an that the closure of the road negatively affected the ability of 3,000 local residents to live normally. The closure also prevents ambulances and fire trucks from reaching the village.
The thoroughfare is also the main road leading to the Suleiman al-Farsi mosque, the village cemetery, and two elementary schools where some 1,200 students attend.
The closure of the roads followed widespread protests against the killing of Muhammad Abu Ghannam on Saturday as he crossed the al-Zayyim checkpoint on foot resulted in widespread protests.
A soldier at the checkpoint reportedly insulted Abu Ghannam’s sister, leading to a scuffle, while Israeli authorities have alleged the boy pulled a knife on the soldier.
Israeli municipal authorities routinely close and block major roads leading into Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem.
In addition to Al-Tur, another major road into the nearby town of al-Issawiya was also shut closed.
Abu Ghannam was one of three Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces in the last week.
Although Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live within territory Israel has unilaterally annexed, they lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as “residents” whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
Jerusalem Palestinians face discrimination in all aspects of life including housing, employment, and services, and are unable to access services in the West Bank due to the construction of Israel’s separation wall.
Tensions have been running high in East Jerusalem since last summer when Jewish extremists raided the area and kidnapped and murdered a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir.
Israeli forces have detained hundreds of Palestinians across East Jerusalem who have taken part in protests, especially against Israel’s summer assault on Gaza, including 600 alone in the two months after Abu Khdeir’s death.
Near the outset of the U.S. Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made Maj.–Gen. George McClellan General-in-Chief of the Union Amy. McClellan was highly popular among his men and a great organizer who built the Army of the Potomac into a formidable force. Unfortunately for Lincoln, McClellan the meticulous organizer lacked the courage and judgment to be a field commander.
On April 5, 1862, Lincoln ordered McClellan to attack a Confederate force in Yorktown, Va. He had at his disposal 121,500 troops, 44 batteries of artillery and prodigious logistical support. The Confederate contingent in Yorktown, meanwhile, comprised something on the order of 10,000 men. The battle was a rout waiting to happen. It never did. McClellan told Lincoln the enemy was 100,000 strong and refused to attack. This delusion was partly due to Gen. John B. Magruder’s crafty parading of his Confederate soldiers in a circuit to give the illusion of greater numbers and his ordering of logs to be painted black to resemble cannons.
McClellan knew that intelligence estimates of Confederate strength were laughable exaggerations yet he acted as if they were true. Instead of attacking, he chose the do-nothing option of laying siege to Yorktown. In early May, Magruder and the Confederates slipped out to fight another day, leaving McClellan to enter an empty town. He declared victory. The last straw for Lincoln was McClellan’s repeated refusal to hasten after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s retreating army after the Battle of Antietam. On Nov. 5, 1862, Lincoln relieved him of command.
McClellan was an administrator who proved to be more of a coward than a commander, notwithstanding the Washington Post’s risible attempt to rehabilitate him. There may be a lesson here for a certain Canadian leader, one who finds himself at the head of a large force in the run up to a political war.
Two years ago this month, Justin Trudeau was anointed leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, a decision that gave hope to Canadians that somebody might finally put the brakes on Stephen Harper’s totalitarianism.
For one thing, Trudeau has a good pedigree. His father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, was a respected if not wholly popular prime minister, though his reputation has much improved since his death. Trudeau’s Liberal predecessors, Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, were, respectively, too bland and too aloof to generate any deep support among the party faithful or offer a viable governing alternative. When you add good looks and youth (41), Justin Trudeau appears to be the ideal prime-minister-in-waiting, especially for young voters.
Opinion polls in the month following Trudeau’s election seemed to confirm that a reversion to Liberal rule was highly likely if not inevitable. In May 2013, voter support for the Liberals had more than doubled since the end of the 2011 election, whereas support for the Harperites had fallen by a third. Some of that Liberal growth even came at the expense of the centre-left New Democratic Party, which lost more than 20% support. Had an election been called at this time, the Liberals would have coasted to majority rule. What a difference two years makes.
By April this year, the Liberals had fallen from 38.6% to 27.6%, and Harper, of all people, was the major beneficiary! The NDP, contrary to expectation, not only did not benefit from Trudeau’s slip but lost ground, confirming that its leader, Thomas Mulcair, is not perceived as a serious rival to Trudeau.
Like McClellan, Trudeau is highly popular. His victory came on the first ballot with 80% of the vote, and Liberal membership grew rapidly almost immediately. Trudeau’s popular appeal really took off in January 2014 and ballooned over the spring and summer.
Then, in mid-October, it all went south. The seminal event was the Oct. 22 shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a ceremonial guard on duty on Parliament Hill. It was a bizarre incident, not only because it came out of nowhere, but it received conspicuously comprehensive video coverage. Some of this coverage even managed to catch no fewer than four police cars parked near the site on Parliament Hill with officers standing around as if… waiting for something to happen.
As readers already know, the shooting of Cpl. Cirillo gave Harper the excuse he needed to legislate police-state repression and a host of other unconstitutional measures in the name of “public safety.”
This police-state repression is manifested in Harper’s Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act (Bill C-44) and Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (“Secret Police Act,” Bill C-51) which authorize the state to conduct spying, harassment, arbitrary detention and intimidation and other unconstitutional measures. The main targets are not so much “terrorists” as anyone who criticizes the government, people like environmentalists and Muslim charities. These groups are already subject to malicious audits and have been intimidated into repressing their political activism.
Canada’s McClellan fails test of character
The shooting of Cpl. Cirillo gave Trudeau the perfect opportunity to seize the initiative from Mulcair and the NDP, who represent the Confederacy for analytical purposes: He could condemn the shooting and condemn the Harperites for their conspicuously contrived campaign to demonize the shooter, Michael Zehaf Bibeau, as a terrorist. Moreover, he could call attention to the totalitarian overtones of the shooting and its aftermath.
On the day of the shooting, Trudeau did deliver a speech, but it was stiff and peppered with “values” blathering reminiscent of George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 screed. Nevertheless, it had one redeeming virtue—he did not demonize Zehaf Bibeau: “Criminals cannot and will not dictate to us how we act as a nation, how we govern ourselves or how we treat each other. They cannot and will not dictate our values. And they do not get to decide how we use our shared public spaces.”
For his part, Mulcair also steered clear of the terrorism tar pit. On Oct. 29, he also used “criminal” to describe Zehaf Bibeau: “When you look at the history of the individual involved, you see a criminal act, of course. But… I think that we’re not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we would understand it.”
At this point, Mulcair and Trudeau were on the same page regarding the shooting, but Trudeau had a big advantage. His Liberals are far and away richer and more populous than Mulcair’s NDP, and he can tap into overwhelming national hatred for Harper and his anti-terrorism totalitarianism to outmaneuver Mulcair. Since the Bill was announced, Harper’s terrorism smokescreen has lifted and opposition to state totalitarianism tripled in six weeks. Even key business leaders oppose it. All Trudeau had to do was channel this sentiment to become the people’s choice to restore Canada to parliamentary rule.
As expected, Harper and his minions jumped all over Mulcair for daring to be rational, but so did Trudeau! “The RCMP was clear, these were acts of terrorism, [so] these were acts of terrorism,” he said. Instead of lambasting Bill C-51 as unconstitutional and fascist, he tapped into his inner McClellan to adopt the do-nothing approach of proposing amendments that he knew full well would never pass. From a position of strength, Trudeau allowed himself to be outmaneuvered by both Harper and Mulcair thereby placing himself at odds with the electorate and his own party.
Trudeau’s abrupt about-face, and his attack on Mulcair for agreeing with him, makes no sense politically or morally. He does not allow for the possibility that the RCMP might lie, or that it might have abetted the shooting in some way. Currently, Parliament Hill has its own police force, which is loyal to Parliament; Harper wants it replaced by the RCMP, which is loyal to him. The RCMP has even admitted to being party to a smear campaign against former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale that helped Harper win his first election. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that the RCMP came to Harper’s aid again? At any rate, Trudeau had no business taking the RCMP’s judgment on what is or is not “terrorism” at face value.
His uncritical acceptance of the RCMP’s version of events is also disturbing because it raises the possibility that he might have succumbed to political coercion. If so, one of the likely suspects is the Israel Lobby, which has the most to gain from the destruction of Canada’s civil liberties. This view gains credence from Trudeau’s knee-jerk condemnation of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel politically and economically because of the atrocities it commits in the Middle East. Trudeau claims (wrongly) that the BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses, but this is just standard Lobby propaganda.
Since Trudeau wants to return the Liberals to power, he might have thought it less risky to acquiesce in attacks on Canadians’ constitutional rights than risk offending those who control vast amounts of campaign money and influence. After all, since Harper’s primary loyalty is to Israel, an attack on Harper’s secret-police bill might be construed as an attack on the Lobby. The problem with this scenario, though, is that it is utterly self-defeating—at least half the country and two thirds of Trudeau’s own MPs oppose Bill C-51. Why would Trudeau pick an unnecessary fight with his own party and the voting public unless he lacked the character and confidence to do the right thing?
In the end, Trudeau, like McClellan, succumbed to cowardice. Despite having a decisive advantage over his opponent and Harper set up like a clay pigeon, the expected rout never happened. Instead, Trudeau resorted to timid half-measures and abdicated the role of national saviour-in-waiting to Mulcair. Today, Mulcair and Green Party leader Elizabeth May are the only two national leaders willing to stand up to Harper to defend the Constitution and rule of law. In fact, Green Party support rose by more than 150% over this same period.
Short of a shock caucus revolt, which is distinctly unlikely in an election year, the Liberals are stuck with a McClellan at a time when they need a Ulysses S. Grant.