As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect on what we were once thankful for …
“Where was your father born?”
“Where was your grandfather born?”
“What is your father’s name?
“What is your grandfather’s name?”
“What is your great grandfather’s name?”
“Which part of Israel are you from?”
Anonymous, 18, is a Greek-Palestinian British student who lives in London. The author usually goes to Jordan every 2 years, but never had the chance to go to Palestine and hoped to this year as part of a volunteering program. Knowing there would be difficulties at the airport, but never expected what happened. Anonymous says, “What shocked me that even though I had a British passport they still gave me a hard time, I felt like I was a criminal.”
I’m an 18 year old student, born and raised in London. Throughout my whole life my parents have brought me up to be proud of my Palestinian roots, I was brought up listening to stories from my father and grandparents about Ain Karem, my village. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to visit my homeland, Palestine, and this year in October I had the opportunity to finally go, I was going to go to the Palestinian territories to volunteer in a school in Bethlehem. I was told to not tell the Israeli authority the real purpose of my visit to Palestine, activists and volunteers are usually not allowed to enter Israel. I knew that I was going to face many problems at Ben Gurion airport, due to my Palestinian background.
I arrived at Ben Gurion airport, I showed my passport to the lady at border control, she looked at my name on my British passport and immediately she called border security. I was escorted by two security men to a waiting room. After 30 minutes a man called me to his office, the questions he asked were:
“Where was your father born?”
“Where was your grandfather born?”
“What is your father’s name?
“What is your grandfather’s name?”
“What is your great grandfather’s name?”
“Which part of Israel are you from?”
Then they asked me what the purpose of my trip to Israel was, I told them that I was visiting Israel for tourism. The first part of the interrogation had finished. My legs and arms were shaking, but I made sure that I didn’t show them that I was frightened.
Two hours had gone by and I was still waiting, a second man called me in to another room for questioning, this time I could sense that they were going to be really tough. I walked into the room and there was also another man sitting in the background. Again the man asked me the same questions. However this time they wanted all the details of my stay. I was prepared for these questions, at this point the Israeli authority still thought that I was in Israel for tourism. They asked me: “where are you going to stay?” I told them that I was planning to stay at a hotel in Jerusalem. They also asked me why me parents didn’t come with me, how much money I had on me. They also wanted contact details of my family in Jordan. I refused to give them such details.
The man then told me, write my e-mail address on a piece of paper. “Can you write your email address and password for us?” I simply replied, “No mate, I don’t think so, that’s illegal.” He just laughed and took my email address only (they still managed to hack into my personal email either way).
The interrogation stopped for 45 minutes and a different man came into the room to ask me further questions. He sat down, looked at me in the eyes and said “You’re a liar.” At this point I knew that they had hacked into my email account and seen my emails to the Palestinian volunteering organisation. The man then said to me:
“I know you lied, see the man at the back, he’s a psychologist and he was examining your body language throughout the whole process… why did you lie about your volunteering placement?”
My reply: “It’s not really my fault to be honest, you people give the impression that you want to kill any Palestinian activist or volunteer, this is why all people lie to you. I’m not stupid I know that you detained me because of my Arabic name.” His eyes turned red from anger. He banged his hand on the table and told me to be careful or I will be on the blacklist.
He quickly left the room and after an hour two women came in and asked me the same questions but in different ways. At this point I wasn’t scared, it just turned into a joke for me. They asked me:
“Why did your mum marry your dad? She’s non-Arab.”
I replied, “erm because she fancied him.” I could tell that they were getting agitated.
Then they asked me “Why did your dad move to London?”
I replied “because he wanted to be closer to the London eye,” and they looked at each other and said something in Hebrew.
They then asked me specific questions about my family in Jordan. “Which exact area was your dad born in?” My reply was, “Look guys I don’t know, I know you know the answer to that because you have my whole family history in your computer system so why waste my time in asking me these questions, just check in your computer, so I can find out myself.” They looked at me and just laughed, they then left.
I was in that room for at least 3 hours, I was not allowed to contact anyone, I was more worried with the fact that the taxi driver waiting for me might have left. After an hour another two men took me in for questioning, again, same questions were asked, we were just going around in circles, the Israeli authorities aim to make you nervous, but I didn’t care. At that point it was all a joke for me.
After five hours I finally got my Israeli Visa. As I walked out of the departures area, I started to panic because I could not see the taxi driver, I went to customer services and I told them that if I don’t find the taxi driver they will have to book me a hotel in Jerusalem so I could stay the night and then travel to Bethlehem the next day. As I was talking to them I saw my name, the taxi driver was there, a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The taxi driver waited for 5 hours, he was a Palestinian man named Mohammad. Every 20 minutes he would call border control to tell them to release me, he told them to tell me that he would be waiting for me until I got out, but they did not tell me, they knew that the only thing that was making me panic was the thought of the taxi driver not being there.
On my way back to London I was held for 4 hours, I was strip searched, all my bags were searched, every single item was taken out, even all my underwear were put through the x-ray scanner.
The Israelis use these intense interrogation methods to try and put off Palestinians from visiting the West Bank. However this makes people even more determined to go back to Palestine. I resisted because I was in the right.
All Palestinians should try to visit Palestinian territories, to see for themselves the daily struggle that the people have to face such as checkpoints everywhere, the IDF dehumanizing people every day, how people live in constant fear. Even though I was only there for 1 week I felt that I as surrounded by a military machine. We all need to remember that “To exist is to resist”.
The author at the Herodium, where you can see Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem and the Dead Sea.
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
As Amal Obeidi, a young woman from the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Lifta says, “borders are sometimes psychological, imposed on us by the occupation as if we will never return.”
The first step on the road is to shatter those psychological borders. This thought-provoking video helps to do just that.
Palestinians have fiercely defended their right to return to the lands and villages they were forced to leave between 1947 and 1949 as Israel was created.
This video by refugee rights group Badil, Introduction to Practicalities of Return features interviews with refugees and experts and scenes of the lands from which Palestinians are exiled.
In the video, Eitan Bronstein of Zochrot – an Israeli group that supports the right of return for Palestinians – observes that expulsion was only one part of the Nakba – the ongoing violent dispossession of the Palestinians. The other key element has been Israel’s prevention of return.
Therefore ending the Nakba requires creative and practical thinking and planning for return.
In the early years after their expulsion Palestinian refugees made many attempts to return home, often just to recover personal property. Many were shot and killed by Israeli forces.
In May 2011, thousands of Palestinian refugees marched toward the borders of their homeland from Lebanon and Syria in a dramatic reassertion of their commitment to return. Then, too, they were met with lethal Israeli fire.
Today, Palestinian refugees and their descendants number 7 million. Israel continues to deny their right to go home solely on the racist basis that these Palestinians are not Jews and thus constitute a “demographic threat” to Jewish political and numerical domination of the country.
But the right of return is recognized by international law.
A number of Palestinians have now set up permanent camps in the villages.
In the video Nahida Zahra talks about the history of this movement and explains, “The idea was supported by all the families of Kufr Birim, many of us believed in it.
“The idea was that we would return to our village and we didn’t need to wait for a legal decision or political agreement.”
Israel has reacted to this action, handing a demolition order to the return camp.
“This time we are not leaving here,” Zahra says, recalling earlier temporary attempts to come back to the village.
To make return a reality for many more people, there’s a need to create and disseminate practical ideas. Part of this process is joint planning between refugees and architects to imagine what rebuilt communities towns would look like.
This is already happening, says BADIL’s Terry Rempel, and it is vital to challenge the idea that return is impossible because homes have been destroyed.
Rempel points to the double standards of international organizations and governments that have actively promoted the right of return for refugees from other countries such as Bosnia, while arguing that it is impractical only in the case of Palestinians.
Yet the approaches taken in Bosnia can also offer practical solutions for restoring Palestinian refugee rights while protecting all stakeholders, Rempel says.
Thinking about return, several speakers argue, must go hand in hand with a process decolonization and de-Zionization.
This, they say, lays the ground for a just and inclusive political solution based on equality and nondiscrimination for all who live in historic Palestine.
As Amal Obeidi, a young woman from the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Lifta says, “borders are sometimes psychological, imposed on us by the occupation as if we will never return.”
The first step on the road is to shatter those psychological borders. This thought-provoking video helps to do just that.
For more information from Badil, visit their website: badil.org
Prosperity and fascism are oxymoron
By Khalid Amayreh
According to the latest reports from Cairo, Egypt’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum has fallen for the 4th consecutive year.
The fall reportedly became more pronounced and more acute especially since the bloody military coup in July, carried out by Abdul Fattah Sisis, in collusion with secular and anti-Islamic elements, against the democratically elected President Muhammed Mursi.
In the 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), the country slid to 118th position from 107 last year, falling from 3.7 to 3.63 points, to be placed in the lowest quartile of 148 countries included in the report.
The report pointed out that Egypt’s competitiveness was compromised due to deteriorating security circumstances and the consequent instability besetting the country.
“The deteriorating security situation and tenacious political instability are undermining the country’s competitiveness and its potential for growth,” according to the authors of the report.
The report defines competitiveness by the institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.
Fascism could ruin Egypt
The latest reports from Egypt should not raise the eyebrows of observers following up Egyptian affair. The present military junta simply doesn’t have the ability and necessary skills to run the country and efficiently manage its already shaky economy.
The military leadership may well be able to murder peaceful protesters at will at Rab’a and shut down non-conformist media outlets. It can also round up political opponents and incarcerate elected officials on concocted charges leveled against the Islamists by a notoriously corrupt justice system utilized as a rubber stamp by the fascist-minded ruling junta.
But the military can’t really do what should be done to revive the economy, create jobs for millions of unemployed Egyptians, create social peace and harmony among Egyptians and heal the wounds and scars of the catastrophic coup. Yes, it can kill, maim and incarcerate, but it can’t heal. It can destroy, but it can’t build. It can bully, but it can not reconcile.
It is really difficult to pin any real hopes on the military junta to stop Egypt’s slide to the unknown. That is because the fate of the country is being entrusted to an ignorant junta that thinks, behaves and acts like Third World coup makers did during the cold war between the West and the Soviet Union especially in the 1950s and 1960s.
What really makes things look even worse is the scandalous utilization of Egyptian courts to give the fascist junta a thin façade of legitimacy and legality.
But then, what are we to expect from a “justice system” that keeps a democratically elected president in captivity while setting free a vicious dictator who utterly ruined Egypt morally, politically and economically for more than 30 years?
Didn’t the same justice system abruptly cancel all parliamentary and other elections in Egypt for the purpose of depriving the Islamists of their victories, as the infamous Judge Tahani Jabali of the Constitutional Court told the New York Times in 2012?
Clearly, these are the hallmarks of fascism, pure and simple.
Indeed, with the Egyptian army effectively morphing into a full-fledged repressive police force, murdering and terrorizing its own people, it is hard to expect the occurrence of any economic improvement in the county.
This is why bankruptcy will become more rampant, foreign investors will flee Egypt and millions of Egyptian will lose the impetus to rebuild their country, given the depressive atmosphere overwhelming the country as a result of the usurpation of the Egyptian people’s will by a group of ignorant military officers, devoid of any morality.
To be sure, Egypt doesn’t lack the brain power to transform itself from a wretched, poor country into a modern state where the rule of law is respected and human rights and civil liberties are observed and upheld. But in order to reach this point, the right people ought to be in the driver’s seat.
The democratically-elected Islamists tried their best to rescue Egypt from a hopeless situation brought about thanks to decades of failed management, political tyranny and secular fascism.
They may not have succeeded in solving all Egypt’s problems, especially in light of the monumental conspiracies to thwart their efforts at the hands of a virulent clique of conspirers, including the despotic-minded armed forces, a notoriously dishonest and vehemently anti-Islamic media, and a vindictive Coptic Church that is hell-bent on de-Islamizing a country where Muslims constitute about 95% of the population.
But the Islamists tried despite the paucity of resources and the rampant conspiracies devised by the “deep state” and Mubarak’s supporters who were hell-bent on aborting the “Islamic experiment.”
None the less, Egypt and its great people will pay the price for the perfidy and treason of the military junta. To be sure, Egypt is already paying the price for the criminal vagaries of its armed forces which, we are told, are trying to rebuild democracy by decapitating it.
We can only hope that the Egyptian people will wake up sooner rather than later in order to save their country from the worst possible scenarios. For sure, no one would want Egypt to morph into another Somalia or another Syria.
However, even the unthinkable could happen if this ignorant and stupid military junta remains at the helm.
We have held on to this statement out of fear that the Egyptian authorities would harm Tarek and John if we released it. But given the announcement of impending charges in the Toronto Star today, we think that their own words can explain what the “evidence” the Egyptian authorities claim to have is. We believe that the impending charges have much more to do with what Tarek and John witnessed on August 16th, rather than what the Egyptian authorities claim they did.
“We are on the 12th day of our hunger strike at Tora, Cairo’s main prison, located on the banks of the Nile. We’ve been held here since August 16 in ridiculous conditions: no phone calls, little to no exercise, sharing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other political prisoners, sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches; sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water.
“We never planned to stay in Egypt longer than overnight. We arrived in Cairo on the 15th with transit visas and all the necessary paperwork to proceed to our destination: Gaza. Tarek volunteers at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and brings people with him each time. John intended to shoot a short film about Tarek’s work.
“Because of the coup, the official Rafah border was opening and closing randomly, and we were stuck in Cairo for the day. We were carrying portable camera gear (one light, one microphone, John’s HD Canon, two Go-Pros) and gear for the hospital (routers for a much-needed wifi network and two disassembled toy-sized helicopters for testing the transportation of medical samples).
“Because of the protests in Ramses Square and around the country on the 16th, our car couldn’t proceed to Gaza. We decided to check out the Square, five blocks from our hotel, carrying our passports and John’s HD camera. The protest was just starting – peaceful chanting, the faint odour of tear gas, a helicopter lazily circling overhead – when suddenly calls of “doctor”. A young man carried by others from God-knows-where, bleeding from a bullet wound. Tarek snapped into doctor mode…and started to work doing emergency response, trying to save lives, while John did video documentation, shooting a record of the carnage that was unfolding. The wounded and dying never stopped coming. Between us, we saw over fifty Egyptians die: students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed. We later learned the body count for the day was 102.
“We left in the evening when it was safe, trying to get back to our hotel on the Nile. We stopped for ice cream. We couldn’t find a way through the police cordon though, and finally asked for help at a check point.
“That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist’, slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing CPR, or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed ‘Canadian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.
“We were two of 602 arrested that night, all 602 potentially facing the same grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson, conspiracy, terrorism, possession of weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking a police station. The arrest stories of our Egyptian cellmates are remarkably similar to ours: Egyptians who were picked up on dark streets after the protest, by thugs or cops, blocks or miles from the police station that is the alleged site of our alleged crimes.
“We’ve been here in Tora prison for six weeks, and are now in a new cell (3.5m x 5.5m) that we share with ‘only’ six others. We’re still sleeping on concrete with the cockroaches, and still share a single tap of Nile water, but now we get (almost) daily exercise and showers. Still no phone calls. The prosecutor won’t say if there’s some outstanding issue that’s holding things up. The routers, the film equipment, or the footage of Tarek treating bullet wounds through that long bloody afternoon? Indeed, we would welcome our day in a real court with the real evidence, because then this footage would provide us with our alibi and serve as a witness to the massacre.
“We deserve due process, not cockroaches on concrete. We demand to be released.
“Peace, John & Tarek”
CONTACT: Cecilia Greyson, cgreysonATgmail.com, Justin Podur, justinATpodur.org
From left to right, David Cohen, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and former CIA agent; Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and NYPD chief Ray Kelly (Photo: EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT)
The New York Police Department’s dragnet surveillance program labeled mosques as terrorist organizations to justify infiltrating religious institutions. The latest bombshell on the program, published by the Associated Press’ Pulitzer Prize winning duo Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, exposes the logic governing the NYPD’s post-9/11 activities: every Muslim is a potential terrorist.
Since the NYPD implemented its surveillance program with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency, at least a dozen mosques have come under the purview of “terrorism enterprise investigations” (TEI). Labeling a mosque a TEI means that every single person attending the institution is a potential subject for investigation. NYPD agents from its Intelligence Division were sent into mosques to record sermons and spy on imams. The AP reporters write that “many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorism enterprise.”
The use of TEIs developed after 9/11, when former CIA agent David Cohen and current NYPD Intelligence Division official went to a federal judge to argue for changes in the legal framework governing surveillance. Cohen was largely successful, and the court agreed that the NYPD could open up TEIs. Cohen was also successful in convincing the judge to eliminate outside oversight of surveillance operations. Before 9/11, what are known as the Handschu guidelines required that an outside body review requests for investigations involving political groups. But after 9/11, the review process became only internal. A document published by the AP details the internal review process at one May 2009 meeting. Every single request for opening up a TEI into a mosque was granted by NYPD higher-ups.
But even with the loosened Handschu guidelines, civil rights lawyers still say the NYPD is violating the law. “The ways in which we think they’re violating the Handschu guidelines really rest on the fact that you still do need some information about criminal activity to launch an investigation,” Jethro Eisenstein, one of the original lawyers who filed a lawsuit against NYPD spying in the 1970s, told me in May. Instead, Eisenstein said, the NYPD is blanketing the “Orthodox Muslim observant community with surveillance. And that’s a violation of the Handschu guidelines.”
The latest AP story also contains other revelations: the NYPD attempted to infiltrate a prominent non-religious Arab organization, the police spied on guests attending a Brooklyn imam’s wedding and also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to install eavesdropping equipment in a mosque. The FBI refused to do so, but the NYPD took other measures to spy on the mosque.
“These new NYPD spying disclosures confirm the experiences and worst fears of New York’s Muslims,” Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union told the AP. The ACLU recently filed a lawsuit alleging the NYPD program was unconstitutional. “From houses of worship to a wedding, there’s no area of New York Muslim religious or personal life that the NYPD has not invaded through its bias-based surveillance policy.”
Some of the new details on the surveillance program track with past articles published by the AP in that they show how prominent members of the city’s Muslim community, often with ties to the police, are routinely spied on. One of those members is Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American Muslim and a prominent leader in the fight against NYPD spying. Sarsour, who has been honored by the White House and has met with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly many times, runs the secular Arab-American Association of New York. And the NYPD attempted to get its own informants onto the board of Sarsour’s group.
Another subject of NYPD spying was Zein Rimawi, a Palestinian from the West Bank who immigrated to the U.S. A founder of the Islamic Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, Rimawi’s mosque was targeted and put under surveillance in 2003 by the NYPD.
Commissioner Ray Kelly defended the NYPD’s activities in an appearance on MSBCthis morning as following the law and meant to protect New Yorkers. But he had previously said that the NYPD does not use TEIs to conduct surveillance, according to Brooklyn City Councilman Brad Lander.
I asked Comm Kelly whether NYPD has “Terrorism Enterprise Investigations” into mosques. He said no (then & now). But: link to t.co
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) August 28, 2013
The new expose on the NYPD is based on documents that will be published in an upcoming book by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo. An excerpt of the book was recently published by New York magazine. On MSNBC, Kelly said Goldman and Apuzzo were “hyping a book” that will include “a fair amount of fiction.”
The new revelations come smack in the middle of a nationwide debate on surveillance. As Goldman and Apuzzo write in the magazine, the NYPD’s activities are far more intrusive than the National Security Agency’s. “The NYPD went even further than the federal government. The activities Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration,” the reporters write.
Both the NSA and NYPD’s activities share a common root, though: they violate civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism.
Jerusalem launching campaign to urge Europe, United States to support military-backed government in Egypt, New York Times reports. ‘What’s the alternative? it’s army or anarchy,’ says Israeli official
According to the official, Israeli ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and other capitals would lobby foreign ministers. At the same time, leaders here will press the case with diplomats from abroad that the military is the only hope to prevent further chaos in Cairo.
“We’re trying to talk to key actors, key countries, and share our view that you may not like what you see, but what’s the alternative?” the official explained. “If you insist on big principles, then you will miss the essential — the essential being putting Egypt back on track at whatever cost. First, save what you can, and then deal with democracy and freedom and so on.
“At this point,” the official added, “it’s army or anarchy.”
These same diplomats say that Israel assured Egypt it did not have to worry about the US threat to cut its enormous aid package to that country.
The US is in no hurry to stop its aid to Egypt, which would severely damage its relations with the Egyptian army, the report said. The Egyptians allow the Americans to move their military forces, quickly and almost without warning, over Egyptian skies and the Suez Canal, which is a necessity for its activities in the war on terror in the Horn of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and the area of Israel and the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the arms supply to Egypt may be compromised in the course of pressure on the interim leadership in Cairo to stop the violence in the country.
“Exporting arms to Egypt may be influenced by steps we may take. Soon the EU foreign ministers will meet to discuss the situation,” Merkel announced in an interview for a German TV channel.
Also Saturday, the European Union said it was reexamining its relations with Egypt. France and Britain called for Europe to send a strong message on the escalating crisis in Egypt, urging the EU to review its relations with Cairo.
The French presidency said in a statement that after talks by telephone, President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister David Cameron agreed “on the seriousness of the violence of recent days and on the need for a strong European message.”
On Sunday, 38 Muslim Brotherhood detainees were suffocated to death by tear gas fired at them as they tried to escape trucks that drove them to a detention facility. According to reports, the detainees held a security officer hostage. Security forces rescued him and said he sustained serious injuries.
Jackson-Vanik was a provision of the 1974 Trade Act that denied favored status to nations that restricted emigration. The amendment was used to pressure the Soviet Union to loosen its restrictive emigration policies.
“It is obvious that Russia is oppressing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in a manner similar to the ways in which the Soviet Union once oppressed the Jewish community,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman wrote Friday in an article in the Huffington Post. “We need a new Jackson-Vanik to convince Russia that steps backward on this issue of basic human rights will be met with strong repercussions from the United States.”
In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed new anti-gay legislation that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations amongst minors,” including any gay-rights literature; banned gay-rights advocacy in general; and prohibited gay pride events in Moscow for the next 100 years.
Protests against the new law have met with violent retribution in recent months.
Memo obtained by Foreign Policy magazine reveals US intel agency kept file on prominent Jewish anti-war academic in 1970s. Chomsky in response: Systems of power typically try to extend their power in any way they can think of
WASHINGTON - After years of denials, the Central Intelligence Agency has revealed that in the 1970s it kept a file on prominent Jewish-American linguist and anti-war academic Noam Chomsky, but the files may have illegally been destroyed, the Foreign Policy reported Tuesday.
According to the magazine, the CIA had previously denied that it gathered information on the 84-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, well-known for his anti-war activism in the Vietnam era. But now, after a freedom of information request, attorney Kel McClanahan received a memo that confirms the agency gathered records on the American leftist icon, the Foreign Policy reports.
In the document – dated June 1970 – a CIA official asks colleagues from the FBI for information about an upcoming trip of a group of anti-war activists to North Vietnam. The official says in the memo, which was obtained by Foreign Policy, that the trip had “the endorsement of Noam Chomsky.”
Professor Athan Theoharis, an expert on FBI-CIA cooperation and information-gathering, told Foreign Policy that “the June 1970 CIA communication confirms that the CIA created a file on Chomsky. That file, at a minimum, contained a copy of their communication to the FBI and the report on Chomsky that the FBI prepared in response to this request.”
‘Lack of interest.’ Chomsky (Photo: AP)
According to the expert, earlier CIA responses to requests about Chomsky files indicate that the records were destroyed “at an unknown time.” Additionally, that might have been done in violation of the law, which requires that all federal agencies get approval from the national Archives before eliminating federal records.
“It is important to learn when the CIA decided to destroy the Chomsky file and why they decided that it should be destroyed,” Theoharis is quoted as saying by Foreign Policy. He also alleges the Chomsky file was not the only record scrubbed from archives.
When asked about the alleged CIA file, Chomsky told The Cable “some day it will be realized that systems of power typically try to extend their power in any way they can think of.”
“What was frightening in the ‘60s into early ‘70s was not so much spying as the domestic terror operations, COINTELPRO,” Chomsky said, referring to the FBI’s program to discredit and infiltrate domestic political organizations. “And also the lack of interest when they were exposed.”
In May Chomsky, an outspokenIsrael critic, made headlines in the Jewish state when The Guardian reported he was among a group of 20 academics who lobbied British physicist StephenHawking to boycott the President’s Conference in Jerusalem.
During a visit to Gaza last year, Chomsky called “to end the Israeli siege” on the Hamas-ruled territory. “The Palestinian people have a right to live peacefully and in freedom,” he was quoted as saying.
In May 2010, Israel barred Chomsky from entering the West Bank, where he was to deliver a lecture. He finally broadcast his speech by video link from Jordan.
(Reuters) – A decree issued by Egypt’s interim head of state on Monday means people no longer face jail for insulting the president, after a surge in such cases under deposed leader Mohamed Mursi including that of a popular comedian dubbed “Egypt’s Jon Stewart.”
The legal change by interim President Adli Mansour was welcomed by activists who had voiced concern over the high number of investigations during the one-year rule of ousted Islamist Mursi, who was toppled on July 3.
But Human Rights Watch Egypt said the decree did not go far enough, arguing that insulting the president “should not be an offence in the first place.”
Several Egyptians were investigated for insulting Mursi during his brief term in office, fuelling fears that the Muslim Brotherhood politician was trying to crush freedoms won in the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The most high profile case was that of Bassem Youssef, a popular comedian likened to U.S. satirist Stewart, who regularly poked fun at Mursi.
The prosecutor general ordered Youssef’s arrest in March, drawing criticism from Washington, but the cardiologist was released on bail.
Youssef hosted Stewart on his show in Cairo in June, and Stewart took aim at Mursi and his government, saying: “A joke has never shot teargas at a group of people in a park. It’s just talk.”
The army removed Mursi from power following mass protests against his rule and replaced him with Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Under the decree, those found guilty of insulting the president face a fine of up to 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,300). Under the previous law, they could be jailed for up to three years.
“We were hoping (such cases could be dealt with) through civil litigation and compensation, not fines, but it is still a good step,” rights lawyer Gamal Eid said.
“We are against imprisonment and we prefer no criminal courts forpublishing crimes,” he said.
He added the 28 cases of “insulting the president” brought during Mursi’s year in office compared with a total of 24 cases over the 115 years that preceded his election win last June.
Many of the cases were brought by private citizens sympathetic to Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood.
But Egypt director at Human Rights Watch, Heba Morayef, called on the interim leadership to go further.
“This amendment, while a general step in the right direction, doesn’t go anywhere near far enough, because it doesn’t address the multiple provisions in the penal code that limit freedom of expression,” she told Reuters.
Under the amended law, anyone found guilty of insulting the president would face a minimum fine of 10,000 pounds.
($1 = 6.9949 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Tom Perry and Mike Collett-White)
July 29, 2013 at 09:28 (Civil Liberties, Collective Punishment, Ethnic Cleansing, Hasbara, Human Rights, Israel, Occupation, Oppression, Palestine, Racial Profiling, Status of Jerusalem, zionist harassment)
Jerusalemite groups: The natives of Jerusalem are citizens, not residents
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, The higher Islamic commission and the council of awqaf and Islamic affairs in occupied Jerusalem said that the Palestinian natives of Jerusalem are citizens and can never be residents.
This came in a statement released on Saturday by the two Jerusalemite institutions in response to a recent Israeli measure classifying the Palestinian natives of Jerusalem as residents and not citizens in new IDs issued by the interior ministry.
The new Israeli IDs given to the Palestinians in Jerusalem do not only identify them as residents, but also they are provided with an expiry date for their residence in their holy city.
The higher Islamic commission and the council of awqaf and Islamic affairs condemned the Israeli measure as racist and urged the Palestinians in the holy city to uphold their legitimate rights, protect their homes and property and defend their holy sites.
They highlighted that the Palestinians in the holy city are its native citizens and their citizenship cannot be decided by the Israeli occupation regime, for they are deeply rooted in their city.
Both reports FROM
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — At the upscale November Café, near Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s house, the conversation and atmosphere are relaxed, and state-of-the-art smart phones rest on tables as their young owners sip cappuccino or fruit juice.
But despite the veneer of normalcy, the pinch of Israel’s 45-year-old occupation of the West Bank is palpable here. For one thing, the smart phones are limited in what they can do. They can’t provide email or Internet via Palestinian companies because Israel prevents these firms from offering 3G services. This has frozen the Palestinian telecommunications sector in a bygone era technologically.
“I am waiting, like many others here, holding smart phones without 3G,” photographer Noor Khatib, 33, told the Forward. Khatib, who shoots for a company that is part of Paltel, the biggest Palestinian telecommunications firm, explained that he preferred to forgo 3G rather than turn to an Israeli company for this service.
For the past seven years, Israel has refused to grant the Palestinian Authority electromagnetic spectrum for 3G service that it exclusively controls despite provisions in the 1993 Oslo Accords that appear to obligate Israel to provide this. The restriction has relegated the Palestinians to 2G, even as Israel prepares to launch 4G for its own citizens.
Israel’s Ministry of Communication says it cannot at present grant any spectrum to the Palestinians, because none is available. As soon as such frequencies will be available, “they will be assigned… to the Palestinians,” said Yechiel Shabi, spokesman for the ministry.
But enabling Palestinian 3G seems far from a priority for Israel. In 2011, the ministry granted frequency spectrum to two Israeli companies, Golan Telecom and Hot Mobile, rather than to the Palestinian firms, and a year later, as those two companies launched 3G, the ministry told the Palestinian firms that no frequencies were left; they would have to rent spectrum from Israeli firms.
The Israeli veto on Palestinian firms seeking to offer 3G leaves the Palestinian companies far behind even the standards of the region: Algeria and Iraq are the only other two countries in the Middle East to lack 3G. Palestinians see Israel’s policies on the frequencies as reflecting a larger Israeli approach that stunts their economic development.
But in this case, protectionist profit making may also be a factor. Palestinian mobile operators say that they are losing tens of millions of dollars a year because they cannot provide 3G, while their potential customers are forced to turn to the Israeli companies providing this service to West Bank Palestinians. Estimates are that between 300,000 and 500,000 West Bankers have Israeli SIM cards that originate in Jerusalem, giving them access to 3G.
This captive market for Israel is not what was envisioned in the Oslo Agreement. The agreement, which both sides agree remains in effect, says that the electromagnetic spectrum is to be shared and that Palestinian frequency requests are to be granted within a month of their submission to a joint committee.
“Israel is acting in bad faith to keep the pressure on our economy, and it’s acting in favor of Israeli companies,” Suleiman Zuhairi, the P.A. deputy minister of telecommunications, told the Forward in an interview in his Ramallah offices. Zuhairi dismissed Israel’s proposal that the Palestinians rent frequencies from Israeli companies as “impossible.”
“The frequencies are a Palestinian right,” he said. “Why should I rent my atmosphere in Ramallah from an Israeli company?”
According to Zuhairi, the Israeli companies providing 3G to Palestinians do so “illegally,” without Palestinian authorization explicitly stipulated as a requirement in the Oslo Agreement. Shabi, the Israeli spokesman, rejected this, saying that the Israeli operators act “in accordance with the agreements between Israel and the Palestinian side.”
The actual text of the Oslo Agreement seems to favor Zuhairi’s argument. Under the agreement, Israel is empowered to offer telecom services only to settlements and military locations in “Area ‘C,’” the mostly rural part of the West Bank that is still under full Israeli military control. The agreement has no provision for Israel operating telecom services in Palestinian Authority areas ‘A’ and ‘B,’ the more heavily populated Palestinian self-rule zones where the Israeli companies have amassed their Palestinian West Bank market.
The Oslo Agreement also says that “operators and providers of services, presently and in the future in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, shall be required to obtain the necessary approvals from the Palestinian side.” But in practice this approval has never been sought or given.
No one interviewed in the cafe admitted to using 3G from an Israeli company. A spokeswoman for Partner Communications, the company that owns the major cell phone provider Orange, said she did not have statistics on how many Palestinians in the West Bank are using the company’s services.
“For many persons here, it’s a moral obligation not to use the Israeli telecom providers, but some people have no choice if they are businessmen or need Internet access on their smart phones,” Khatib said.
“We all need 3G,” added architect Sara Khasib, 23, who is also waiting for Palestinian providers to offer it. “It is not comfortable to need to send an email and to have to go back to the office to send it.”
Wadee Shalash, a journalist, said that 3G would make a big difference in terms of Palestinians being able to be in touch with relatives abroad, since Skype is of poor quality due to low Internet speed in the West Bank, and there are smart phone applications for free phone calls.
Fayez Husseini, CEO of Wataniya Telecom, which was given frequencies for 2G six years ago by Israel after a three-year delay, said that because Israel is holding back on 3G frequencies, it “cripples what we can do.”
“As long as they have 3G and the Palestinian operators don’t, they have a strategic advantage, a very clear differentiator. When it comes to patriotism, you can only push it that much,” he said. He estimated that his firm’s inability to provide 3G lost it $40 million to $50 million a year. Paltel CEO Ammar Aker says his company loses $80 million to $100 million in revenues a year because it lacks 3G.
Meanwhile, when it comes to domestic economic policy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu preaches the virtues of deregulation and touts Israel as a world hub of cutting-edge technology. Last December, Netanyahu proclaimed a “revolution in the field of fiber optics” whose goal was to “enable every home in Israel to hook up to fast Internet, of 100 mega, super-fast, and to do this at low prices.”
Fast Internet in every Israeli home, Netanyahu vowed, would wipe out differences between center areas like Tel Aviv and development towns in the periphery. “We are paving fast electric highways in order to enable this link and to cancel the existing technological gap,” he said.
Many Palestinians view Israel’s restrictions on electromagnetic frequencies as part of an overall policy in which Israel deprives the Palestinians of their share of the territory’s natural resources. This includes access to water and to land for building in the zone designated under the Oslo Agreement as Area C, which constitutes the majority of the West Bank and remains under full Israeli control.
“They are monopolizing our resources and keeping our economy in a situation in which it is unable to grow or to create jobs, or to get more taxes for the authority,” said Samir Abdullah, director general of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, in Ramallah.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, dismissed this allegation. “On the contrary, the Israeli government understands that economic growth and greater prosperity in the West Bank is a vital ingredient as we move forward in peace.”
After The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the astonishing scope of some of the NSA’s surveillance activities, some people claimed that Americans wouldn’t care. But Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone doesn’t accept that.
In the video below, produced by the ACLU, Stone discusses the NSA spying program, recalling a disastrous legacy of unchecked government abuse of power. He reflects on the terrible consequences of runaway surveillance during the 1960s and 1970s, when intelligence services exploited fears of external threats to the United States to enjoy a carte blanche for their illegal activities. “We did not pass the Fourth Amendment to protect those with something to hide,” Stone tells us. We passed that amendment “because we know all too well the cost of an unaccountable government.”
Now is a critical time in our nation’s history for all Americans to stand up for our civil liberties, Stone says – by asking representatives in Congress to roll back the surveillance state.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks, have drastically eroded our Fourth Amendment rights. These statutes allow the government to access our most sensitive information without meaningful judicial oversight.
“I won’t stand idly by while our civil liberties are eaten by the NSA surveillance machine,” Stone says. “You shouldn’t either.” You can join Stone and the ACLU in demanding an end to the surveillance state, by signing a petition calling on Congress to repeal these problematic sections of the Patriot Act and the FAA. The time to act is now.
Click HERE to sign petition
One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.
It’s true that this scenario seems unrealistic right now. The Palestinians are still bleeding from the second intifada, which only brought disaster upon them (and the Israelis). They are divided and torn, with no real leadership and lacking a fighting spirit, and the world has tired of their distress. The Israeli occupation seems as strong and established as ever, the settlements are growing, and the military is in complete control, with all the world’s governments silent and indifferent.
On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine that this scenario will not materialize. To our south, the Egyptian people are struggling over the nature of their regime, in a way that can only inspire awe. To the north, the Syrian people are also doing this, albeit in a much crueler fashion. Could it be that only the Palestinian people will forever bow their heads, submissively and obediently, to the Israeli jackboot? Don’t make the minister of history laugh.
The regimes against which most of the Arab nations are rebelling were generally less brutal than the regime of the Israeli occupation. They were also less corrupt, in the broad sense of the word. Most did not take over the lives of their subjects day and night, did not so drastically restrict their movement and freedom, did not systematically abuse and humiliate them in the manner of the Israeli regime. Moreover, they were not foreign regimes.
Therefore, the events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. The masses will flood the Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza, push into Police Square in Hebron and storm all the checkpoints along their way. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.
From Jenin to Rafah, they are enviously watching the wonders of Tahrir Square. Can anyone seriously think these scenes and this spirit will not affect Balata? Not sweep through Jabalya? The first is under Israeli rule, while the other is supposedly controlled by Hamas, and yet residents of the two places cannot even meet with each other. How much longer will they accept this?
Yes, it will happen one day. The masses will rise up against the settlements and checkpoints, against the army barracks and the prisons. And at that point, the Israeli Arabs will no longer stand idly by. They are also watching what’s happening at Tahrir Square and also realize they deserve a different regime and a different country.
It seems to happen when you least expect it. No Military Intelligence report will predict it, and no Shin Bet field coordinator will warn about it. The defense minister will act shocked, the prime minister will convene urgent consultations, and the finance minister will post something on Facebook. The president of the United States will call for calm, and who knows, maybe will send a special envoy. The world’s most powerful and especially most moral military will try to restore order, but the new order will assert its control over the army as well.
As with other unjust and evil regimes, which are always destined to fall, this regime also will fall – it’s just not clear when and how. Sometimes these regimes fall in the wake of terrible bloodshed, as in Syria, and sometimes they fall on their own, like a tall tree whose trunk has rotted, as happened in the Soviet Union, South Africa and Eastern Europe. One day it will happen here, too; there is no other way.
It would be best that this day come soon; too bad it hasn’t come yet. The Israeli public, which didn’t know how to end its occupation regime on its own, will also act surprised, and offended. Again they will say that “there’s no partner,” that “they’re like animals,” but no one will take these statements seriously. Israel will again play the victim, but few will be able to identify with it anymore.
Why is it best that this happens soon? Because as time passes, the damage and rage accumulate. Because there is no chance that Israel will end the occupation voluntarily. Because justice cries out for it to happen. Because whether the solution is one state or two, an Israel that isn’t an occupier, that is just and egalitarian, will be a different and infinitely better place to live.