‘BIAS’ PROBE AT RUTGERS U

When I think of Rutgers University the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that Paul Robeson was an All American Football Player there, the first Black man at a major US campus to have that honour. I thought of Rutgers as a bastion of Liberal thought, that is, until I read the following;
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Rutgers students face “bias” probe for flyers criticizing Israeli home demolitions

 Ali Abunimah 

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SJP member Amanda Najib delivers a mock eviction notice at the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

 (Syjil Ashraf)

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Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, is under investigation by campus administrators after complaints of “bias.”

One Zionist group has alleged that SJP specifically targeted the dorm rooms of Jewish students on the New Brunswick, New Jersey campus with mock “eviction notices” designed to draw attention to Israel’s practice of demolishing Palestinian homes.

But this claim has been contradicted by the university in a statement to The Electronic Intifada.

A campus rabbi has even demanded that SJP be “disbanded” by the university to set an “example.”

The “bias” investigation comes after the university has already issued a written warning to SJP that it violated school policy by posting the flyers without prior approval from administrators.

The claims are only the latest in a long-running effort by pro-Israel advocates to paint Rutgers University as hostile to Jewish students.

Action to raise awareness

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Activists have used mock eviction notices on several campuses to draw attention to Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes.

 (Syjil Ashraf)

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“On the night of Sunday, October 6th, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) board members printed mock eviction notices and distributed them in dormitory buildings,” Students for Justice in Palestine — Rutgers New Brunswick explained in a statement emailed to The Electronic Intifada.

“This action was intended to call attention to the systematic demolition of the homes of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel.”

Last week, The Electronic Intifada published a photo story of Khirbet al-Makhul, a Palestinian community of 120 people in the occupied West Bank, demolished to make way for a live-fire training area for the Israeli army.

In August, Human Rights Watch urged Israel to “immediately end unlawful demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures,” noting an alarming increase in the number of Palestinians made homeless in eastern occupied Jerusalem since last year.

“Our completely fake notices brought no harm; it is the confiscation of Palestinian land that these notices bring attention to that continues to bring harm to millions,” Rutgers SJP added.

Bogus allegation Jews targeted

Andrew Getraer, executive director of the pro-Israel advocacy group Rutgers Hillel, told theDaily Targum, the campus newspaper, that “We had many students who came to us who were very upset when they received eviction notices, who felt harassed, who felt that they have been deceived and made to feel targeted and unsafe in their dorm rooms, and … We directed them to the appropriate deans … There were several students who filed complaints.”

Getraer claimed that “in some cases, Jewish students were targeted and explained how some students came to Hillel stating how they were the only student who received a flyer on their floor.”

SJP at Rutgers denied this, explaining the measures it took to avoid the possibility of bias accusations:

We posted the notices under many doors on different floors of student dormitories and residence halls. We chose doors at random, aiming to maximize the number of people who would be viewing the notice, with one exception: we intentionally avoided the Hillel building and Les Turchin Chabad House, locations with many, if not exclusively Jewish, residents. This was done to avoid the possibility that Jewish students would feel that they were singled out or targeted.

A university statement appears to support SJP’s account and contradict the claims of Hillel’s Getraer.

“The flyers were distributed randomly to about 800 students and the university is in the process of reviewing a student complaint arising from the incident,” university spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in an 11 October email to The Electronic Intifada.

Identical claims that Jews were targeted have been made in other cases where campus Palestine activists distributed mock eviction notices, including at Harvard University andFlorida Atlantic University.

Florida Atlantic confirmed there was no evidence Jewish students were targeted and declined to take punitive action.

The claim that Jews were targeted at Harvard appears to have been fabricated by Israel’s far-right Arutz Sheva website.

Call to disband SJP

Pro-Israel groups have been swift to condemn the SJP educational effort and to call for official retribution.

Rabbi Esther Reed of Rutgers Hillel told the Targum that she found the flyers “alarming and reprehensible” as well as “factually inaccurate,” complaining that they “vilified Israel.”

Rutgers Hillel also released a formal statement condemning the flyers, stating that they made “students feel unsafe in their homes.”

Another Hillel official, Rabbi Akiva Dovid Weiss, opined on the incident for Arutz Sheva, calling on Rutgers to ban SJP to set an “example for all others”:

[No] student in this university ever will feel safe until they know that university groups that engage in this kind of behavior will be unconditionally disbanded, since actions that compromise the emotional safety of our students within the privacy of their own residences cannot be tolerated and have no place on our campus.

The flyers were also condemned by anti-Palestinian and anti-gay activist group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) on the conservative news site The Blaze, which stated that “We focus on the real debate as opposed to theatrics.”

Bias investigation

The Targum reported on 11 October that complaints had been filed with the bias committee, and that committee, which “deals with the content in the flyers,” in turn alerted the Office of Student Life, which oversees student organizations.

Kerri Wilson, director of student involvement, told the Targum that SJP “was found responsible for violating student involvement posting policy for the residence halls,” resulting in a written warning over the unauthorized distribution of the flyers.

“We have faith that the Rutgers community and administration will recognize that our cause is important, not only to the Palestinians, but to the humanitarians in all of us,” the Rutgers SJP statement said in reference to the complaints.

“Students for Justice in Palestine is proud to be at Rutgers University, and we will not — should not — be silenced.”

Bias complaints are handled by the university’s Bias Prevention Education Committeewhich includes a “Response Team” made up of deans of students and a “Bias Prevention Education Advisory Team.”

The Bias Prevention Education Advisory team Team is co-chaired by Hillel Rabbi Esther Reed herself.

It is unclear whether she would play any role in the investigation, given her organization’s advocacy for Israel and her own prejudicial public statements regarding the flyers.

Rutgers Hillel has itself come under attack for promoting bias on campus. In 2003, sixty professors signed a statement expressing “growing unease to the role [Rutgers] Hillel has recently come to play in the promotion of the extreme right on campus.”

Then, as now, Getraer was executive director.

As recently as 2012, Rutgers Hillel has hosted Israeli soldiers who have personally participated in the military occupation of Palestinian land and justified killings of Palestinians.

Rutgers targeted

The allegations of “bias” at Rutgers are only the latest in a series of attempts to portray the campus as a hostile environment for Jewish students as a result of Palestine solidarity activism.

Rutgers is the subject of a 2011 complaint to the US Department of Education by the Zionist Organization of America under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, alleging pervasive anti-Semitism on campus.

A similar tactic has been used by various Zionist groups in an effort to suppress Palestine solidarity activism on other campuses.

But three similar complaints against the Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Irvine campuses of the University of California were recently thrown out by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, in what has been seen as a major victory for free speech.

While the Rutgers case is still pending before the Office of Civil Rights, university officials have dismissed the allegations as “factually inaccurate and significantly distorted.”

Gregory S. Blimling, the university’s vice president for student affairs, told the Chronicle of Higher Education in April 2012 that the issues raised in the complaint were not about anti-Semitism, but disagreement over Israel’s policies.

“There are people on both sides of that debate,” Blimling said, “who would like to have the other side of that argument not have the same freedoms they do.”

While Blimling may believe that, the indisputable fact is that only anti-Palestinian groups have resorted to legal measures to try to silence criticism of Israel on campus.

Faculty “frightened”

The attack on Rutgers has already affected the right of students to freely learn and talk about the question of Palestine.

Junior faculty are too afraid to even discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in class, according to Professor Charles G. Häberl, 2009–12 director of the Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

“They are frightened to say anything about these issues, especially since they don’t have the shield of tenure to hide behind. And I don’t blame them,” Häberl told the Chronicle.

Anti-Palestinian groups are likely to consider that a success.

Full statement from Rutgers SJP

On the night of Sunday, October 6th, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) board members printed mock eviction notices and distributed them in dormitory buildings at Rutgers New Brunswick. This action was intended to call attention to the systematic demolition of the homes of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel. Since 1967, approximately 24,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel, as estimated by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The facts about Palestinian home demolitions included on the mock eviction notices are all true and substantiated by human rights organizations, as well as international bodies such as the United Nations and International Court of Justice. More information can be found at www.icahd.org.

We posted the notices under many doors on different floors of student dormitories and residence halls. We chose doors at random, aiming to maximize the number of people who would be viewing the notice, with one exception: we intentionally avoided the Hillel building and Les Turchin Chabad House, locations with many, if not exclusively Jewish, residents. This was done to avoid the possibility that Jewish students would feel that they were singled out or targeted.

The fake eviction notices were just that—fake. The notices clearly stated that the eviction was not real, and was authored by SJP.

This peaceful, quiet demonstration is not unprecedented. It originated with student activists at New York University and has spread to other schools across the country, including Harvard, Yale, San Diego State, and Florida Atlantic University. This action is part of our long-term mission to draw awareness to a human rights issue that affects the global community on many levels, including social, psychological, humanitarian, and economic.

The Palestinian-Arab refugee and displaced population is the largest in the world, and forced evictions are one of the milder methods used to achieve this. It cannot, thus, be truthfully denied that for 65 years now, the Israeli government has oppressed and traumatized the Palestinian people by means of racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, illegal settlement and colonization, forced military occupation, and more. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children have been killed since the beginning of this conflict, and Palestinian refugees and their descendants number in the millions.

Rutgers University has a strong history of student protests and being the voice for those whose cries have fallen on deaf ears. We are proud to uphold this tradition that is fundamental to what it means to be a student at this university as well as a citizen of this nation. The First Amendment protects our right to free speech at a public university – especially speech about one of the most urgent international human rights issues of our time. This is a college campus, the quintessential marketplace of ideas, where vigorous debate about serious problems is part of the educational experience. Free Speech is sometimes controversial and upsetting to some; it would be worthless if it were not. But as was recently noted by the U.S. Department of Education in dismissing complaints against campuses like Rutgers alleging that pro-Palestinian activism creates a hostile environment for Jewish students, “[i]n the university environment, exposure to robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance that a reasonable student may experience.

Our completely fake notices brought no harm; it is the confiscation of Palestinian land that these notices bring attention to that continues to bring harm to millions. We hope that those who received and read them were given more insight as to the plight of the Palestinian people after being put in their shoes for a few seconds.

We have faith that the Rutgers community and administration will recognize that our cause is important, not only to the Palestinians, but to the humanitarians in all of us. We ask for your support not only in our fundamental right to freedom of speech, but also in fighting for Palestinian liberty, justice, human rights, and self-determination. Students for Justice in Palestine is proud to be at Rutgers University, and we will not— should not— be silenced.

In solidarity,

Students for Justice in Palestine — Rutgers New Brunswick.

 

 

Written FOR

FANNING THE FLAMES OF ISRAELI RACISM … VIDEO

racism (1)
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In the last three years, angry residents of south Tel Aviv have repeatedly taken to the streets, marching through neighborhoods now populated by significant numbers of non-Jewish Africans, demanding that they all be expelled from the country. Right-wing lawmakers have sought to score political points by attending the protests and fanning the flames of racial hatred.
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Video: Israeli crowd cheers as Africans called “slaves”

David Sheen*

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An Israeli high court decision on 16 September striking down legislation authorizing the indefinite incarceration of asylum-seekers from Africa brought hundreds of residents of Tel Aviv into the streets in protest the following day.

Blocking the intersection at the entrance to the Hatikvah market in south Tel Aviv to traffic for an hour and a half, Jewish Israelis decried the court ruling, which mandates that the 2,000 Africans jailed in Israel on the basis of the invalidated law must be released within ninety days.

In the last several years, south Tel Aviv has become home to approximately 30,000 non-Jewish African nationals, most of whom entered the country by walking across Israel’s desert border with Egypt.

Israelis opposed to their presence accuse them of migrating to Israel solely to earn more money than they could hope to in their home countries, while advocates for the Africans claim that most of them have fled dictatorial regimes and ethnic cleansing campaigns.

Fanning the flames

The overturned amendment represents part of the Israeli government’s unconcealed efforts to dissuade other Africans from arriving and to convince those already in the country to leave quickly. Other anti-African measures implemented by the government include the construction of border fences and the refusal to grant refugee status or even temporary work permits to the vast majority of the asylum-seekers. Without any legal means of sustenance, most of the Africans remain impoverished, living in the only areas they can afford to — neighborhoods which were poor to begin with.

Some Israelis from the political left and center have urged the government to grant residency to the asylum-seekers, which would allow them to contribute to the economy, earn a living and relieve some of the economic burden on poorer neighborhoods like south Tel Aviv. But the political and religious ultra-right, which has ruled uninterrupted since 2009, refuses to consider that option, since it vehemently opposes any proposals which would permit a significant number of non-Jewish persons to remain in the country on a long-term basis.

In the last three years, angry residents of south Tel Aviv have repeatedly taken to the streets, marching through neighborhoods now populated by significant numbers of non-Jewish Africans, demanding that they all be expelled from the country. Right-wing lawmakers have sought to score political points by attending the protests and fanning the flames of racial hatred. With municipal elections scheduled for 22 October, several candidates for Tel Aviv-Jaffa city council capitalized on the 17 September rally and filled the crowd with their activists and banners.

Frightening

The above video, which I shot at the rally, gives the viewer a court-side seat to the one of the most frightening displays of ultra-nationalism to come out of Israel in recent years. The rally’s master of ceremonies characterizes all Africans as slaves, and the crowd cheers him on.

Michael Ben-Ari, a former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, calls for martial law to prevent “ten million Chinese, five million Indians and twenty million Africans” from entering the country and turning Israel from a “Jewish state” to a “multi-national state.” Little children chant: “The people demand the expulsion of the Sudanese!” to the delight of their adult guardians.

But what stands out for me as the most revealing episode of the evening is my interview with a twenty-year-old Israeli soldier in civilian attire who says that he is afraid of being attacked when he walks around the neighborhood, even when he is armed with an assault rifle. When I asked what had happened to him to have aroused such intense fears, he told me that the anxiety took hold when he observed non-Jewish African people smoking and cooking outdoors on Yom Kippur, a day when these behaviors are forbidden to Jewish people.

It is difficult to imagine that there might be a single Jewish person anywhere in the world outside of Israel who stepped out of a synagogue on Yom Kippur, saw a non-Jewish person taking a drag on a cigarette or flipping a burger on a barbecue grill, and suddenly became afraid for his or her life.

The fact that this is the reported experience of a battle-ready Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv, the largest Jewish-majority city in the history of the world — leads one to surmise that this fear of African asylum-seekers probably has more to do with state-sponsored propaganda demonizing non-white non-Jewish people, than with any supposed demonic qualities that propaganda ascribes to its victims.

*David Sheen is an independent writer and filmmaker. Born in Toronto, Canada, Sheen now lives in Dimona.

Written FOR

THE ZIOPATION CANNOT CRUSH OUR DREAMS

“My dream is like the dream of any Palestinian kid,” says Tayma. “It is to live in safety and not in the shadow of colonization, and not to feel crushed every time I leave the house. And my other dream is to become a famous Palestinian rapper.”
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Short film about Tayma

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Find out more about Tayma’s story in this short film produced by Defence for Children International Palestine.

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Tayma, 13, an aspiring Palestinian hip-hop artist, shares her experiences of growing up with settler harassment and intimidation in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan through her lyrics.

“We had a childhood just like everyone else, but it wasn’t a normal childhood,” says 13-year-old Tayma. “Everywhere we turn, the settlers are around us … They came to our land, stole our land, and are saying that it’s theirs.”

Tayma lives in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City. Israeli authorities issued many of the Palestinian families living in Silwan with demolition orders for their homes to clear the area for a national park.

Israeli authorities also approved a large tourism center in the heart of the neighborhood, which will include parking, an event hall, a cafeteria, and stores. They’ve handed development of the area to Elad, an Israeli settlement organization.

“All the houses here are under threat of demolition [by Israel] so that the settlers can build a park for their children,” says Tayma. “They want to throw Palestinian families on the streets so that they can build parks for their own children.”

Israeli settlers have moved into Silwan. With the aid of Israeli security forces, they subject the longtime Palestinian residents to daily violent harassment and intimidation.

Tayma and her sibling must share the same steps with settlers to access their home. “Sometimes we rub each other the wrong way, which creates some bad situations between us,” she says. “There are cameras everywhere that watch the kids as they go up and down the steps.”

“My dream is like the dream of any Palestinian kid,” says Tayma. “It is to live in safety and not in the shadow of colonization, and not to feel crushed every time I leave the house. And my other dream is to become a famous Palestinian rapper.”

Produced BY
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Now look into my eyes and tell me what you see ….
i_am_the_child_of_palestine_by_shatha92-d4j8h7n
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FABRICATING ‘FACTS’ ABOUT SYRIA

The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources.
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Is Human Rights Watch Manipulating Facts about Syria?

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A still taken from the video analyzed by Eliot Higgins. Higgins deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. (Photo: Supplied)
A still taken from the video analyzed by Eliot Higgins. Higgins deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. (Photo: Supplied)
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By Richard Lightbown

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On 21 August 2013 a series of chemical attacks were perpetrated in the Ghouta suburbs of eastern Damascus. Sources say that between 281 and 1,729 civilians were killed, while Medcins Sans Frontiers reported around 3,600 were injured in the attacks. On the same day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed the UN Mission already in Syria to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Khan al-Asal, Sheik Maqsoos and Saraqueb to focus their efforts on the Ghouta allegations.

Before the UN Mission had reported its preliminary findings Human Rights Watch (HRW) jumped the gun on 10 September with its own report written by Peter Bouckaert, the organization’s Emergencies Director. The report admits that HRW did not have physical access to the site and had based its study on Skype interviews with ‘More than 10 witnesses and survivors’ made over a period of two weeks between 22 August and 6 September. These were supplemented by video and photo footage and other data from an unnamed source or sources. It is unclear then, exactly how many exposed survivors were interviewed by HRW or who the other witnesses were.

In compiling the report HRW had also drawn on the technical services of Keith B. Ward Ph.D., an expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents. However the organisation did not disclose that Dr Ward is employed by Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States government. The HRW investigation was also ‘assisted by arms experts including Nic Jenzen-Jones […] as well as Eliot Higgins […] who collected and analysed photos and videos from the attacks.’

Mr Jenzen-Jones’s LinkedIn profile does not list any training or experience with armaments, and his only qualifications appear to be ‘certified armourer and ammunition collector’ – which probably relates to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition control) Act 2012 of the state of New South Wales, Australia. In reports on the story on his own blog ‘The Rogue Adventurer’, Mr Jenzen-Jones relies on data taken uncritically from sources such as the New York Times and even a Los Angeles Times article based on Israeli intelligence Apparently he is not familiar with Israeli falsified reports such as the alleged use of guns by passengers on the Mavi Marmara against Israeli commandos (which remain uncorroborated despite Israeli forces seizing virtually all photographic data from the more than 600 passengers, along with film from security cameras located throughout the ship and Israel’s own constant infra-red surveillance from boats on both sides of the ship and at from least two aircraft). As former CIA director Stansfield Turner is alleged to have said, Mossad excels in PR, and not in intelligence.

HRW’s other expert, Eliot Higgins is an untrained analyst who was recently talked-up into some kind of expert by Matthew Weaver in the Guardian. On his Brown Moses Blog of 28 August 2013 Mr Higgins featured a video sent to him by a source allegedly showing the type of munition linked to the chemical attacks being fired close to Al-Mezzah Airport near Daraya. The video has been filmed at some distance and none of the upwards of 20 men roaming around the site can be clearly seen. An unmarked Mercedes semi-trailer lorry apparently delivers the rocket which is loaded (this is not seen) onto an unmarked white rigid lorry on which the launcher is mounted. The men aimlessly roaming around are mostly wearing army fatigues, although others, including some on the launcher, are in civilian clothes. A number of those in military uniform are wearing red berets. Based solely on this headgear, and the fact that the Syrian Republic Guard as well as the military police are issued with red berets, Mr Higgins is emboldened to state that ‘…this video shows the munition being used by the government forces […].

Stills taken from the video analysed by Eliot Higgins. Mr Higgins has deduced that this is a Syrian Army operation entirely from the red berets worn by some of the personnel. The rocket shown can also carry conventional explosives.

In a previous posting on 26 August, Mr Higgins estimated from shadows that a rocket shown in photographs between Zamalka and Ein Tarma had been fired from north of the site, and he set about trying to locate the launch site with the help of correspondents. Hoping to find the exact location, he speculated that the 155th Brigade missile base was a possible site for the crime. This line of investigation quietly disappeared after the UN Mission reported that the missile they had examined at Zamalka/Ein Tarma was pointing precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees, i.e. nearer west than north.

Meanwhile Mr Bouckaert in his report two weeks later reported that two of his witnesses told HRW that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport. These accounts also became inconvenient later when, as we shall see, HRW seized on the azimuths provided by the UN Mission and dashed off on a new wild goose chase. Apparently HRW now considered that nearly 20 per cent of the ‘witnesses and survivors’ it had interviewed were no longer credible regarding the direction of the rockets.

Nevertheless on page 1 of his report Mr Bouckaert felt confident enough to declare,

“Based on the available evidence, Human Rights Watch finds that Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for the August 21 attacks, and that a weapons-grade nerve agent was delivered during the attack using specially designed rocket delivery systems.”

The ‘evidence’ produced on p20 of the report amounts to nothing more than supposition. Mr Bouckaert merely states his skepticism that the rebels could have fired surface-to-surface rockets at two different locations in the Damascus suburbs; he asserts that the types of rockets thought to have been used are not reported to be in possession of the opposition nor is there any footage showing that they have mobile launchers suitable; and he states that the large amounts of dangerous nerve agent would require sophisticated techniques beyond the capabilities of the rebels. No actual evidence is cited to show that this weaponry is Syrian Army equipment. On the contrary the Soviet 140 mm rocket referred to on p15 requires a BM-14 rocket launcher, first produced in the late 1940s. The Syrian Army equipment list produced by Global Security shows none of this obsolete weaponry in stock but instead lists around 300 of the BM-21 launcher which replaced it. The BM-21 launches a 122mm rocket, so the Army would be unable to fire the 140mm rocket that rebels found and the UN Mission inspected at Moadamiyah. Mr Bouckaert might also recall that Israel has a common border to Syria and is known to have stocks of sarin amongst the vast collection of illegal chemical and biological weaponry amassed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) at Nes Ziona. YouTube videos also show Syrian rebels in possession of mobile rocket launchers. HRW really did assemble a Mickey Mouse team of researchers when they cobbled together this report.

Nevertheless HRW’s reputation and distribution ensured that their allegation was distributed by agencies such as Associated Press and reported by outlets which included the BBC, CBS, New York Post and other international media such as the Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner and the Jakarta Post None of these outlets questioned the veracity of this very serious allegation against the Syrian Army.

On 11 September, a day after the HRW report was published, the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria published its unique and important analysis of documentation nominated by US intelligence. Having carefully and thoughtfully analyzed the data, including a number of images also published in the Bouckaert report, the study discovered not only widespread manipulation of evidence, but in the tradition of BBC reporting in Syria, they also discovered that photographs of victims in Cairo had been described as victims of a chemical attack in Syria. This preliminary study concludes that there has been gross media manipulation and calls for an independent and unbiased International Commission to identify the children who were killed and try to find the truth of the case. This writer has not seen any HRW document which refers to the ISTEAMS study.

The UN Mission report was published six days after the Bouckaert report on 16 September. This disclosed that the Mission had been allowed a total of only seven-and-a-half hours on-site in the two suburbs which are both located in opposition-controlled areas. During that period they had experienced repeated threats of harm and one actual attack by an unidentified sniper on 26 August. Nevertheless they had collected samples and ‘a considerable amount of information’ along with ‘primary statements from more than fifty exposed survivors including patients, health workers and first-responders.’ In fact the statements had been taken in interviews with nine nurses, seven doctors and 36 survivors. The Mission concluded that there was ‘definitive evidence of exposure to Sarin by a large proportion of the survivors assessed’ and it stated that it had been informed that victims began suffering effects following an artillery barrage on 21 August 2013. All interviews, sampling and documentation followed procedures developed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization.

The report states that ‘several surface to surface rockets capable of delivering significant chemical payloads were identified and recorded at the investigated sites’ but only five impact sites in total were investigated by the Mission (presumably because of the time constraints imposed on them by those who controlled the areas).

The UN report is not without its contradictions. In a summary in their Letter of Transmittal the authors wrote ‘In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples, we have collected, provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Zamalka…’. And yet none of the 13 environmental samples taken from Moadamiyah were found to have any traces of sarin, although one of the two laboratories conducting the analyses found degradation products of sarin in four of the thirteen samples while a further sample was found to contain degradation products by the other lab. Although two of the samples were unspecified metal fragments, none of the samples was specifically described as being part of a rocket. Does the discovery of degradation products in 38 per cent of the samples (and only 23 per cent of the tests) along with a complete absence of the chemical agent itself constitute ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that Moadamiyah was attacked by surface-to-surface rockets containing sarin?

Most important however are the two caveats included in the report. On p 18 the inspectors wrote concerning the Moadamiyah site,

“The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

Similar tampering of the evidence was noted at the other site as the report notes on p22,

“During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

HRW was quick to seize on the UN report to substantiate its own allegations, although some adjustments were now necessary to get their allegations to dovetail neatly into the report’s findings. On 17 September Josh Lyons used the azimuths cited for the rockets in Appendix 5 of the Mission report  to produce a cross reference which suggested that the military base of the Republican Guard 104th Brigade had been the launch site for the chemical weapons. (Mr Lyons called this ‘Connecting the dots’. By coincidence, when referring to the Sellström Report on 19 September, John Kerry  said ‘But anybody who reads the facts and puts the dots together, which is easy to do, and they made it easy to do, understands what those facts mean.’? ‘Facts’ can mean anything if distorted enough, Mr Kerry.)

Once again no supporting evidence was provided to explain why HRW blames the Syrian Army, and all previous locations suggested for the launch were conveniently forgotten. To recap, Peter Bouckaert reported two witness statements that the rockets came from the direction of the Mezzeh Military Airport (more than 6 kilometres from the Republican Guard base) and HRW’s ‘expert’ Eliot Higgins was convinced that they were fired from north of the target sites.

Referring to unspecified ‘declassified reference guides’ Mr Lyons tells us that the 140mm artillery rocket could have reached Moadamiya, 9.5Km from the Republican Guard’s base. Yet even if a seventy-year old rocket system could indeed fly that far, Mr Lyons is forgetting that the Syrian Army no longer has these outdated systems. It therefore no longer has 140mm rockets, one of which is alleged to have been responsible for part of this crime against humanity. He is also forgetting that no actual chemical agent was found at Moadamiya, so it is premature to start producing cross references from that site. And above all he is deliberately omitting to tell his readers about the caveats written for both target sites by the UN inspectors that clearly and unequivocally suggest that the evidence has been tampered with at both sites which are located in opposition-controlled areas.

None of these inconvenient truths have stopped the HRW juggernaut. On 20 September the Guardian published an article by HRW staffer Sarah Margon promoting both the Bouckaert report and the Lyons’ calculations (apparently unaware of the contradiction between the two). She ended up by calling for an Obama/Kerry commitment to ensure there is ‘accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people’. But of course she was not writing about Fellujah or Gaza or the IIBR at Nes Ziona.

(The author is grateful for assistance from Josh Lyons of HRW Emergencies Division in the preparation of this article.)

- Richard Lightbown contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

PALESTINIAN YOUTH TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

After watching their land being raped for over 65 years, Palestinian youth are attempting to take back the night …
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The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.
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Palestinian youth assert right of return with direct action

Nadim Nashef*
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Summer camps aim to reconnect Palestinian youth to their ancestral villages. (Photograph courtesy of Baladna)

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During the summer of 2013 a new grassroots movement burst onto the scene and announced itself as a major development in the long struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.

The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.

Brutal Israel

Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.

Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.

Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.

The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.

Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.

On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.

Potent symbol

Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return.

Iqrit’s community has been organizing summer camps for its younger members annually since 1996; this year approximately 200 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 attended. The aim of the camp was to help the youth develop their identity by teaching them about their own history, and connecting this to the wider Palestinian history before 1948.

In addition to the summer camp and the newly permanent presence, villagers hold religious celebrations during Easter and Christmas in the local church. The village’s cemetery is also still in use.

The youth-led, grassroots approach of Iqrit is very much indicative of the movement as a whole. Youth took the lead in 2013’s “Summer of Return,” ensuring that demands for the right of return find a renewed voice among the latest generation of the dispossessed.

One village which has adopted Iqrit’s strategy of youth-based return is Kufr Birim. Located close to the boundary between Israel and Lebanon — not far from Iqrit — for the past few years Kufir Birim has played host to summer camps for children.

This summer, people with family connections to Kufir Birim have also decided to maintain a permanent presence in the village, centered around the old community’s surviving church. However, their initiative has not been without obstacles.

Refusing to leave

In August, the Israel Lands Authority told the camp’s members that they had to leave within a week or they would be removed by force (“Authorities threaten displaced community’s return to village,” +972 Magazine, 22 August 2013).

On 28 August, Iqrit also received a visit by inspectors from the Israel Lands Authority, accompanied by border policemen. They came during the morning and confiscated tents and beds, uprooted the small garden, removed signs and destroyed property, including the new football stadium.

However, as in Kufr Birim, the youth are not willing to leave their ancestral land.

This summer has also witnessed a very successful summer camp in the village of Ghabisiya, while Baladna (the Assocation for Arab Youth) and a number of other groups initiated the Udna (Our Return) project with the participation of five ethnically cleansed villages: Saffuriyya, Miar, Maalul, Lajjun and Iqrit, with one youth group in each village.

The project aims to educate the new generation with family connections to these villages of their history and rights, with film screenings and storytelling featuring residents who survived the expulsion. Practical approaches to the issue of return such as town planning and logistics were also explored, while musical events by local artists added a cultural feature.

Iqrit, Kufr Birim, Ghabisiya, Saffuriyya, Miar, Malul, Lajjun. These are just seven of the Palestinians towns and villages which were destroyed and whose inhabitants were displaced during the Nakba.

Yet the combined activities of these villages during the summer of 2013 represent the most significant movement in the struggle for return since the years following the Nakba. Far from forgetting their roots and historical injustices, the latest generation of Palestinians inside Israel are showing their dedication to their right of return.

This, combined with the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches, has resulted in a grassroots, youth-led movement unprecedented in the history of activism for the right to return. Whatever the immediate reaction of Israeli authorities to the return of villagers in Iqrit and Kufr Birim, these movements have captured the imagination of people across historic Palestine, young and old.

And while the future of the movement is full of uncertainty, the determination and energy of our youth alone is reason for optimism.

*Nadim Nashef is is the director of the Haifa-based Association for Arab Youth-Baladna.

 

 

Written FOR

WHAT KERRY OVERLOOKED IN GAZA >>>

The siege is collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, but it is also a collective crime.
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As noose tightens, Palestinians in Gaza face darkest days

 Ali Abunimah 

 

Palestinians wait at a gas station in Gaza City on 1 September 2013, as tightening blockade has worsened fuel crisis.

 (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Click HERE to see Tweets ….

 

These tweets by blogger Omar Ghraieb capture the despair felt by many of Gaza’s almost 1.7 million Palestinian residents as Israel’s blockade, compounded by Egypt’s intensifying crackdown, has brought the territory once more to the brink of catastrophe.

Since the 3 July military coup against Egypt’s elected president Muhammad Morsi, the military regime has destroyed almost all the vital underground supply tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

This week, Egypt began demolishing houses along its side of its border with Gaza, a futile and criminal Israeli-style tactic, that is seen as a prelude to establishing a “buffer zone” to further isolate Gaza.

As a result of these and other Egyptian measures, supplies of some critical medicines have hit zero, the construction industry has collapsed, and the Rafah crossing, the only entry and exit for most Gazans, is frequently closed.

The population of Gaza still faces 12-hour daily blackouts due to Israel’s destruction of the electricity infrastructure, but even the relief provided by noisy and often dangerous portable generators is fading into darkness as fuel supplies run out.

Slow death

A new report, “Slow Death; The Collective Punishment of Gaza has reached a Critical Stage,” from the human rights monitoring group Euro-Mid Observer, highlights the acute crisis that compounds the effects of the prolonged Israeli blockade.

Ten facts about the Gaza blockade

The report is worth reading in full, but these ten facts about the impact of the blockade capture the scale of the mounting catastrophe and underscore the urgent need for pressure on Israel to end it and for Egypt to end its complicity.

  • According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 57 percent of Gaza households are food insecure as of July 2013; however, if the current Israeli and Egyptians measures remain as they are, 65 percent of Gaza households will be food insecure (World Food Program estimate, June 2010).
  • As of August 2013, more than a third (35.5 percent) of those able and willing to work are unemployed (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics) – one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Economists expect that the continuous closure of the tunnels will lead to a sharp increase in the unemployment level (43 percent by the end of 2013 compared with 32 percent in June 2013).
  • The continuous closure of the tunnels will lead to a 3 percent decline in the growth by the end of 2013 compared with 15 percent as of June 2013.
  • The construction sector is working at less than 15 percent of its previous capacity, leading to more than 30,000 losses in job opportunities since July 2013.
  • A longstanding electricity deficit, compounded by shortages in fuel needed to run Gaza’s power plant, results in power outages of up to 12 hours a day (UN OCHA, July 2013).
  • Only a quarter of households receive running water every day, during several hours only.
  • More than 90 percent of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption.
  • Some 90 million liters of untreated and partially treated sewage are dumped in the sea off the Gaza coast each day, creating public health hazards.
  • Over 12,000 people are currently displaced due to their inability to reconstruct their homes, destroyed during hostilities (UNOCHA, July 2013).
  • The economy has endured severe losses worth $460 million in all economic sectors within the past two months (Ministry of Economy- Gaza).

Collective punishment, collective crime

Although it remains the occupying power, Israel declared Gaza a “hostile entity” in 2007 and its then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared, “We will not allow the opening of the crossings to Gaza and outside of Gaza to the extent that it will help them bring back life into a completely normal pace.”

These and other Israeli official statements quoted in the Euro-Mid report highlight that the catastrophe in Gaza is a calculated and intended effect of the siege, making it a war crime and collective punishment under international law.

Complicity

Euro-Mid calls on the “international community,” to pressure Israel to end the blockade.

That call is right, but it is an unavoidable fact that the siege would not have lasted seven long years already without the complicity and support of the “international community” in the form of the United States and its allies, particularly the European Union and compliant Arab regimes.

The siege is collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza, but it is also a collective crime.

 

 

Written FOR

ISLAM ‘EXPOSED’ BY NYPD

The New York Police Department’s dragnet surveillance program labeled mosques as terrorist organizations to justify infiltrating religious institutions.
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The NYPD’s bigoted logic: Mosques are fronts for terrorism

Alex Kane
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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)

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)

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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.

 

Written FOR

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ MORNING BLUES AT THE CHECKPOINT

It’s inhumane. They treat us like animals. Every morning I feel like an animal in a cage.
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The morning commute (through the checkpoint)
Philip Weiss

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Recently a Finnish photographer who had worked in the region sent us these photographs that were posted at his/her blog Ubuntifada. They were taken in late June, at the Bethlehem checkpoint to enter Israel. They depict the everyday experience of hundreds of Palestinians who go to work in Israel. I am respecting the photographer’s desire for anonymity because of employment/funding issues. He/she wrote the following at that site to explain the photos: 

Morning blues in the checkpoint

5:00 in the morning in Bethlehem. The rising sun is replacing the blue morning mist with its first warm rays. Hundreds of men are standing in a cage, holding the metal bars like prisoners and anxiously waiting. The atmosphere is as blue as the air.

Actually, it could be just a crossing between two countries – though a very disturbing one with its iron gates and cages, bars and burrows, loud PA systems and shouting, soldiers and police and private security guards all armed to the teeth. But instead of being in the border, checkpoint 300 stands 2 kilometers south of the green line, deep inside of the occupied West Bank.

Every working day from 4:00 to 7:00 around 4000 Palestinians cross this illegal checkpoint on their way to work in East Jerusalem or in Israel. And the ones standing in line are actually the lucky ones – they have been able to even get a permit.

It’s inhumane. They treat us like animals. Every morning I feel like an animal in a cage.

Adel, who crosses the CP five mornings a week

 

 

Source

PHOTO OF THE MONTH AND CALL TO ACTION

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 What is the Prawer Plan? 
On 24 June 2013, the Israeli Knesset approved the discriminatory Prawer-Begin Bill, with 43 votes for and 40 votes against, for the mass expulsion of the Arab Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. If fully implemented, the Prawer-Begin Plan will result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized”Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Naqab. Despite the Arab Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan and strong disapproval from the international community and human rights groups, the Prawer Plan is happening now.
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The Prawer-Begin Bill is an unacceptable proposition that entrenches the state’s historic injustice against its Bedouin citizens. Adalah and our NGO partners have been challenging the Prawer Plan before courts, government authorities and the international community, but we need your help to stop what would be the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s!
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Please sign our petition and visit our Facebook page to find out what you can do to Stop the Prawer Plan!
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What is the Prawer Plan?
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Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the Naqab (Negev) desert since the seventh century, are the most vulnerable community in Israel. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. The state deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.
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In September 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan, the brainchild of former Deputy Chair of the National Security Council, Mr. Ehud Prawer. The Prawer Plan will result in the destruction of the unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens. This plan was completed without consultation of the local community, and is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose their own residence.
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Prawer is Happening Now
Despite complete rejection of the plan by the Arab Bedouin, and strong disapproval from the international community, Prawer is happening now. More than 1,000 houses were demolished in 2011 alone, and civil society observed the same practices in 2012.  Since Prawer was announced, the government announced plans that will displace over 10,000 people and plant forests, build military centers, and establish new Jewish settlements in their place.
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The Prawer Plan is today being turned into an Israeli law. On 6 May 2013, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the proposed “Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013” (“the Prawer-Begin Bill”, after recommendations by Minister Benny Begin were included). On 24 June 2013, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Bill with 43 votes for and 40 votes against. The bill will now be sent to the Committee for Interior Affairs and Environment to be prepared for the second and third readings.
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The international community has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the Prawer Plan. In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination for Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed implementing legislation of the Prawer Plan, on the grounds that it was discriminatory. In July 2012, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution calling on Israel to Stop the Prawer Plan and its policies of displacement, eviction, and dispossession. 
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THE BORN AND BRED NON CITIZENS OF JERUSALEM

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Israel classifies Jerusalem natives as noncitizens
 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM  — The Israeli ministry of interior has come up with a new plan to expel the Palestinian natives of occupied Jerusalem from their city through classifying them as “noncitizens,” lawyer Ahmed Roweidi revealed. Roweidi stated on Tuesday that the Israeli interior ministry started to specify periods for the residence of the natives in Jerusalem and classified them as noncitizens who are susceptible to deportation anytime. Roweidi described this new measure as a prelude to a new ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Palestinian natives in the holy city. He affirmed that a number of Jerusalemite citizens went lately to the Israeli occupation authority to renew their IDs and noticed that the word “resident” was added into the new cards with an expiry date for their residence in the holy city.
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The response …
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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

HELEN THOMAS: INTEGRITY TILL THE END

Helen had great integrity and believed the media was important to protect and preserve democracy. “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe,” she would say, quoting Abraham Lincoln.
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Helen Thomas: defender of democracy

Rosemarie M. Esber* 
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Woman writes on notepad as man sits on desk

 Helen Thomas at a White House press conference with President Gerald Ford, 1976.

 (Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress)

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Helen Thomas’ life was a relentless search for the truth, without fear or favor. It was her calling, profession and duty.

She loved being a journalist, and she strived daily to deliver accurate news to the American people. “If your mother says she loves you,” she was fond of saying, “get a second opinion.”

Helen burned with outrage at injustice. As the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she was at the receiving end of racism and discrimination growing up in Detroit.

The memory of slurs hurled at her as a child still stung. She decried the racism and segregation she found in Washington, DC in the 1940s, arriving as a young ambitious reporter.

But she was gratified to eventually witness the civil rights transformation, covering Martin Luther King Jr’s march on Washington, and thrilling to Marion Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial.

She pushed fearlessly into the male-dominated press corps, enlisting Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to help advance women in journalism and government. Unpretentious, Helen encouraged young journalists and supported their careers, remaining approachable with a common touch.

She admired the first ladies as women of character and thought they all served the country well — sometimes better than their husbands.

“Unnecessary war”

Helen questioned ten presidents during her career. They didn’t like it. She didn’t care. When she was moved to the back of the White House pressroom and her questions ignored, she remained tenacious in seeking the truth. She minced no words.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, she wrote in her book Watchdogs of Democracy, was “an unnecessary war that has cost thousands of lives of innocent civilians, American and foreign military, and journalists,” noting that the alleged “weapons of mass destruction were never discovered.”

On television, challenging the president of the United States — the most powerful man in the world — Helen seemed ten feet tall to me. In reality, she was petite. “How tall are you, Helen?” I asked one day. “Five foot three — and a half,” she exclaimed.

“How then did you learn to ask such big questions?” I queried. “I ask big,” she replied, “for the American people.”

Integrity

Helen had great integrity and believed the media was important to protect and preserve democracy. “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe,” she would say, quoting Abraham Lincoln.

She found the current media’s lack of fight against “the manipulation of government officials who play the fear card” astounding. She lamented that so many “reporters became stenographers instead of interrogators.” Passionately anti-injustice, Helen believed she had to speak for those who had no voice.

For Helen, that meant speaking out about the Middle East conflict. Ironically for someone who had defended the freedom of the press all her life, furor over her poorly worded comments forced her to retire.

In time, however, her critics will find that Helen correctly evaluated the injustice of the conflict, and not because she was biased, but because she was an excellent journalist and had verified the facts.

She knew that Israeli forces expelled the overwhelming majority of the indigenous Palestinians from their homeland during the Nakba — catastrophe — of 1948, and later the 1967 war. She remained outraged at Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinians.

As the dean of the White House press corps, “Thank you, Mr. President,” was Helen’s signature close to presidential press conferences for so many years. America has lost a national treasure, a vigilant watchdog of democracy, a truth seeker, and a proud patriot. Thank you, Ms. Helen Thomas.

You will be well remembered by your profession, by this nation, and throughout the world for your courageous stand for truth and justice. You have fought the good fight, and you have finished the race.

*Rosemarie M. Esber is co-producing a documentary of Helen Thomas’ life.

Editorial AT

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES ~~ BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

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Half of the almost 500,000 registered Palestine refugees have now been displaced from their homes as shelling and fighting continue to encroach on their areas in Syria, and 44,000 refugee homes have been damaged, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said this week.
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“We have become refugees again,” say Palestinians from Syria now in Gaza

 Ali Abunimah
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As Palestine refugees face an increasingly dire situation in Syria, some have made their way to the Gaza Strip, as Yousef Al-Helou finds in this video report for The Real News.

This route to safety is closed off, at least for now, amid the turmoil in Egypt.

Half of the almost 500,000 registered Palestine refugees have now been displaced from their homes as shelling and fighting continue to encroach on their areas in Syria, and 44,000 refugee homes have been damaged, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said this week.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, including six in Yarmouk camp near Damascus over the last week, one of whom was the son of an UNRWA staff member.

From Damascus to Gaza, via Egypt

The number of Palestinians who have made it to Gaza is unknown, but Al-Helou cites estimates of around 800 persons.

“We Palestinian refugees have become refugees another time,” Muhammad al-Sheikh, a Palestinian who lived in Syria for 41 years, told Al-Helou. “We were forced to leave our homes due to the destruction and killing in Syria.”

“We know that Gaza often comes under Israeli attacks, so we know that for us the danger is not yet over. But at least we are in our homeland,” al-Sheikh added.

Though all facing the same dangers and dire situation that caused them to flee, Palestinians have strongly divergent views on the situation in Syria, with some opposing and others supporting the uprising against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Al-Helou reported.

Route to Gaza closed off by Egypt upheaval

Al-Sheikh said that refugees typically fly from Damascus to Cairo and then travel by taxi to the Rafah crossing border with Gaza.

But this route appears to be closed off at least for the time being amid the political turmoil in Egypt following the army’s removal of President Muhammad Morsi last week.

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been closed since the military takeover.

Egypt deports Palestinians

Egyptian authorities have begun deporting and denying entry to even long-time Palestinian residents of Gaza.

Contributor to The Electronic Intifada Yousef Aljamaldeported to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, is among dozens of Palestinians refused entry to Egypt as they tried to return home.

Egypt has also instructed international airlines not to allow Palestinian Authority passport holders to board flights for Cairo leaving many Palestinians stranded abroad.

Dozens more Palestinians are reported stranded at Cairo airport in deplorable conditions as efforts are made to persuade Egypt to reopen Rafah.

New measures restricting entry of Syrians

Today, Egypt expanded the tough restrictions to include Syrians, announcing that Syrian citizens would require advance visas in order to enter Egypt.

The measures came to light last night when Egyptian authorities deported 276 Syrians who had arrived at Cairo airport on scheduled flights from Beirut and Damascus, according to Egypt’s Ahram Online.

Rumors targeting Palestinians and Syrians

These measures come amid rumors and unsubstantiated accusations by Egyptian military brassin the media and on social media, that Hamas specifically and Palestinians generally – and now Syrians – are interfering in Egypt or assisting the Muslim Brotherhood movement of the deposed president.

In recent days, Egyptian officials have again claimed, without evidence, that Palestinians are responsible for attacks on Egyptian security forces in Sinai attributed to militant groups in the area.

Palestinians and Syrians in Egypt are particularly vulnerable populations who need safety and protection. Instead, in this atmosphere, many will now be feeling a heightened sense of danger.

Report: Rafah crossing may partially re-open on Wednesday

Breaking reports say that Egypt has agreed to partially re-open on the Rafah crossing on Wednesday. The main land exit from Gaza has been closed by Egyptian authorities for five days.

Gaza residents will be allowed to return, but only those with medical permits will be allowed by Egypt to leave Gaza, Palestinian authorities in Gaza have said.

Ban on entry remains for Palestinians

Notwithstanding the news about Rafah, Egyptian authorities issued a decree on 9 July announcing that no holders of Palestinian Authority passports or Jordanian passports that lack a national number will be allowed to enter Egypt without prior clearance from the security services. This means that Egypt remains effectively closed to Palestinians who fit those categories.

 

 

Written FOR

STILL WAITING FOR THE ARAB SPRING IN PALESTINE

 One day the Palestinian people will rise up against their occupiers. I hope this day comes soon.
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One day, Ramallah will rise up

The events at Tahrir Square will surely be replicated one day in Ramallah’s Manara Square. It is hard now to imagine it happening, but it is even more difficult to imagine that it will not.

By Gideon Levy
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Palestinians demonstrating in Ramallah in 2012.
Palestinians demonstrating in Ramallah in 2012. Photo by AP
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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. 

 

 

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UN BREAKS THE SILENCE ON PALESTINIAN CHILD ABUSE

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Today, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child  accused Israeli forces of torturing Palestinian children.
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Israel is accused of abusing Palestinian children– again
 Annie Robbins

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Today, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child  accused Israeli forces of torturing Palestinian children.

The report (pdf)comes within a year of three other reports: a UNICEF report on children in military detention last winter; a British report of a year ago, Children in Military Custody, which gained wide attention for its assertion that Israel was torturing children by holding them “routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement;” and this Breaking the Silence report last summer on Israeli soldiers’ abuses of Palestinian children, which included many reports of children getting beaten “to a pulp.” 

Reuters: Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N.

A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

……….

“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.

……

“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” [Israeli Foreign Ministry] spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

The “old stuff” FM spokesperson Yigal Palmor is referencing is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) February report Children in Israeli Military Detention, Observations and Recommendations (pdf) on the “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” abuse of Palestinian children held in Israeli custody.

After UNICEF released its report, Israel’s Foreign Ministry claimed in March that it would “study the conclusions and…  work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF.”

But that didn’t happen. No; instead, in a bizarre twist, a month later UNICEF attempted to sanitize its own findings at a press conference in Jerusalem. 

No doubt Palmor would much rather deal with UNICEF than with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which issued today’s report, since Israel joined UNICEF’s board this year, and UNICEF’s new Jerusalem bureau chief has been very respectful of Israel.

Back to Reuters:

The U.N. committee [OHCHR] regretted Israel’s “persistent refusal” to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and occupied Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.

Today is a good time to be reminding Israel to stop torturing Palestinian children. It’s World Refugee Day, established by the U.N. in December 2000, nearly 50 years after the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.  It is observed every year on June 20th to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

Palestinian refugees represent the longest suffering and largest refugee population in the world.

 

 

Written FOR

MEET BIG BROTHER’S LITTLE ISRAELI BROTHERS

The New Big Brother ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The recent exposure of National Security Agency monitoring of Americans’ emails, live voice communications and stored data cast suspicion once again on private surveillance contractors linked to Israeli intelligence services. One firm called Narus has provided the NSA with technology for almost a decade that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80 percent of communications made by Americans over online and telecom channels. What was Narus’ role in the latest scandal, and how far back does its history of spying go?
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Meet the Israeli-linked firm that sold Big Brother machines to Mubarak, Qaddafi – and Washington

by Max Blumenthal 
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A slide from the National Security Agency powerpoint presentation on the PRISM program. (Image: 
Washington Post)

The recent exposure of National Security Agency monitoring of Americans’ emails, live voice communications and stored data cast suspicion once again on private surveillance contractors linked to Israeli intelligence services. One firm called Narus has provided the NSA with technology for almost a decade that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80 percent of communications made by Americans over online and telecom channels. What was Narus’ role in the latest scandal, and how far back does its history of spying go?

Deep Packet Inspection

Back in 2011, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attempted to quell the Tahrir Square uprising by ordering telecommunications companies to shut down the Internet, the Obama administration slammed his regime, demanding that it immediately open up social media channels. The US also took the opportunity to promote the State Department’s $30 million Internet freedom project, which was aimed at providing dissidents with technology to stifle online surveillance in repressive states.

Tim Karr, the campaign director for the online freedom advocacy group Free Press, wondered what tools the Mubarak regime was using to target online dissidents. He discovered that Egypt had purchased Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology from Narus, a Silicon Valley-based high tech firm.

DPI is a computer network packet filtering system that allows administrators to collect any data that passes through an inspection point. Governments around the world rely on it to conduct spying and data mining on a massive level. “[DPI] is often called dual use because it can be used for legitimate purposes, by cops to ID terrorists, or for commercial purposes,” Karr told me. “But in the wrong hands it can be a tool that can be used to suppress online dissent, identify dissidents and even hunt them down.”

The information about Narus’ sales to Egypt was not hard to find; Karr discovered it right on the company’s website. Narus has also boasted about sales of DPI technology to serial human rights violators like the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and telecom subsidiaries of the Chinese government. Through a third party reseller, Narus was in negotiations to provide spying devices to the Qaddafi regime, but the deal fell through when Qaddafi was overthrown by the very people he had sought to monitor.

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A diagram from a Narus demo showing its network management product, which can be used to manage network traffic or provide surveillance over all network activity.
(Image: 
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society)

The exposure this month of the US National Security Agency’s Prism program, which uses DPI technology to monitor the phone and online communications of American citizens, eroded the credibility of US calls for Internet freedom abroad. “The Obama administration has tried to play both sides of this equation and the rhetoric it used during Arab Spring doesn’t square with our practices domestically in spying on our own citizenry,” Karr remarked. “There seems to be a double standard here.”

He added, “When people fear that their communications are being monitored, there is a chilling effect. So this is not just about privacy, it’s a freedom speech issue.”

Room 641A

In 2006, an AT&T technician named Mark Klein discovered a secret room inside the company’s windowless “Folsom Street Facility” in downtown San Francisco that was bristling with Narus machines. The now notorious Room 641A was controlled by the NSA, which was using it to collect AT&T customer data for data mining and real-time analysis. Thanks to the powerful NarusInsight system, the NSA was able to monitor 108 billion emails from AT&T customers per day.

 

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AT&T’s windowless Folsom Street Facility in downtown
San Francisco, the home of Room 641A where the NSA
used Narus machines to spy on millions of Americans.

 

The revelations set off a national scandal, confirming that the US government was spying on millions of citizens, and that major telecom and service providers were complicit. But no one was held accountable. Following a lawsuit filed against AT&T by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act in July 2008, giving retroactive immunity to telecom corporations that assisted the NSA, and relieving them of any consequences for spying on Americans.

Cass Sunstein, an informal advisor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who now heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and who has urgedfederal law enforcement to “cognitively infiltrate” anti-government groups, was anoutspoken supporter of the retroactive immunity bill. With Sunstein by his side, Obama reversed his initial objections to the NSA’s domestic spying operations, voting as a Senator for retroactive immunity.

The vote allowed the NSA to expand its domestic spying operations, clearing the legal hurdles obstructing the creation of PRISM. The stage was set for the second term scandal that would leave Obama reeling.

“You have to demonize the source”

Well before Edward Snowden was a household name, there was William Binney, a high level NSA official who resigned in protest on October 31, 2001 after learning of the birth of a massive, post-9/11 domestic spying operation. I spoke to Binney three days after Snowden revealed himself as the latest NSA whistleblower.

“I couldn’t stay there [at the NSA] and be a party to that collecting data and spying on American citizens,” Binney told me. “And that court order from Verizon [that revealed the PRISM program] is a continuation of that.”

Like Snowden, who has been roundly demonized by pundits and Obama supporters, and may face an extradition order, Binney encountered a severe backlash when he resigned. “They want to avoid facing up to what the government was doing so you have to demonize the source,” Binney said. “We [NSA whistleblowers past and present] were all attacked. They attempted to indict us and frame us, they raided us with the FBI, they attempted to discredit us with all the standard tactics they use. It went nowhere but it allowed them continue doing what they were doing. And that’s the problem – they refused to recognize there even was a problem and now we won’t solve it.”

Binney told me that throughout the United States there are currently as many as 20 NSA black sites like Room 641A. Narus devices, he said, have been placed at fiber-optic convergence points, allowing the NSA to retrieve about 80 percent of data carried through telecom and online service providers. Binney emphasized that the devices do not only retrieve so-called metadata, which only offers general records of data, but that they gather the actual content of emails and calls. (“We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on; we can reconstruct their (Voice Over Internet) calls,” said Steve Bannerman, the marketing director of Narus).

Thanks to PRISM, the NSA bas been able to “fill in the gaps,” Binney explained, gathering bulk data from communications the NSA might have missed with the NarusInsight system, especially those made between Americans and foreign countries.

The Israeli Connection

Binney told me that while he worked at the NSA in 1998, a freebooting agency colleague with pronounced pro-Israel views “shared” DPI technology with Israeli intelligence agencies. At the time, Binney was the chairman of the NSA’s Foreign Relations Advisory Council (FRAC), a board charged with reviewing the transfer of technology to foreign allies. To his chagrin, he was only made aware of the transfer to Israel after the fact.

“Usually when you share things you discuss them and have approval from FRAC – you have an agreement,” Binney said. “I was supposed to know about all the sharing that goes on. So when I found out about this I said, ‘Hey, if we’re gonna share it with Israel we should share it with other allies too and save them the money of having to develop it on their own. I didn’t have a problem with it, and I don’t know how he did it, but we had a process and he circumvented it.”

Enter Narus, the company named for the Latin word for “all knowing.” Founded in the Silicon Valley in 1997 by Israeli expatriates with alleged ties to Israel’s intelligence services, Ori Cohen and Stas Khirman, Narus has been shrouded in mystery since its inception.

A 2006 investigation by Haaretz into Cohen’s background was unable to establish a clear portrait of its subject, concluding that he was “hard to pin down.” Khirman, according to journalist James Bamford, worked in the past for Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries that specialized in advanced eavesdropping systems for Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus. (In 2010, Narus was sold to the Boeing Company, a multinational defense corporation that clearly saw a future in the online surveillance industry).

Sometime around 2002, Narus pioneered state-of-the-art DPI devices. “The timeline shows [DPI technology] was shared with Israel about five years before Narus came out with its devices,” Binney commented. “It certainly was a suspicious timing sequence.”

Another Israeli-linked tech company, Verint, is a subsidiary of the Israeli firm Comverse, which boasts a reputation as “the world’s leading provider… of communications intercept and analysis” technology. Among the many Comverse executives plucked from the ranks of Israeli army intelligence is the company’s founder, Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, an ex-Israeli intelligence agent who cashed in through Israel’s high-tech surveillance industry. Alexander’s lucrative careercollapsed in dramatic fashion when he was arrested for fraud in Namibia in 2006 after an international manhunt, and wound up handing over bank accounts worth $46 million to US authorities.

Just as AT&T relied on Narus systems, Verint’s DPI devices have been used to fulfill NSA requests for data from Verizon’s subscribers. And as Bamford explained in his 2008 book on the NSA, “Shadow Factory,” much of the data Verint and other private Israeli contractors gather from can be remotely accessed from Israel. “The greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and America’s increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel’s intelligence agencies,” Bamford wrote.

Journalist Christopher Ketcham speculated in a 2008 article that Israeli-linked firms like Verint and Narus could have implanted Trojan spy technology into their devices, providing Israeli intelligence services with a backdoor means of reviewing and analyzing data stored in secure NSA systems. Boaz Guttmann, an Israeli national police cybercrimes investigator, told Ketcham, “Trojan horse espionage is part of the way of life of companies in Israel. It’s a culture of spying.”

However, Binney dismissed the possibility of backdoor Trojan spying. “With any foreign equipment we bought we would make sure that there wasn’t anything planted in it like backdoors,” he told me. “I don’t think backdoors are a problem since they don’t have the bandwidth capacity and if it started happening it would have immediately showed up in service providers records.”

But no matter how much control the NSA exerts over the spying technology it procures from private contractors, there is little guarantee it can control the thousands of people who work in their offices. To understand how acute the problem could be, look no further than Edward Snowden.

 

 

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EVERYDAY ISRAELI APARTHEID … MUCH WORSE THAN YOU THOUGHT

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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No doubt a lot of Jews would say: Israelis have a long history of terror and hatred from Arabs, what do you expect? In return I would say: Arabs have a long history of violent subjugation and hatred from Jews, what do you expect?

But let’s put that duel aside and keep in mind who we’re talking about: Bedouin kids with cancer. Arab youngsters wishing to go to an amusement park. Random Arab adults trying to switch their bank accounts.

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Everyday ‘Apartheid’ and the Liberal Dream

By Larry Derfner

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The following items appeared in the Israeli media this month: Superland, an amusement park outside Tel Aviv, makes a policy of reserving separate days for Israeli Arab high school classes and separate ones for Israeli Jewish classes. A Jewish community pool in the Negev refused to admit a group of Bedouin children with cancer because, in the words of the manager, the patrons have a problem with that “sector.” In a hidden-camera investigation by Channel 10 news, branches of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, refused to allow three out of five Israeli Arab customers to transfer their accounts to a branch in a predominantly Jewish area, while routinely allowing all the Jewish customers to do so.

I have to admit, I am surprised. I didn’t think it was this bad.

I didn’t think the racist practices against Arabs in Israel — not Palestinians in the West Bank, but people who live in “Israel proper” as citizens — were so deeply entrenched. Unless I’m extremely mistaken, this sort of thing doesn’t, couldn’t, go on in the United States, or Canada, or other Western countries that Israel likes to think of as its peers in the democratic world.

No doubt a lot of Jews would say: Israelis have a long history of terror and hatred from Arabs, what do you expect? In return I would say: Arabs have a long history of violent subjugation and hatred from Jews, what do you expect?

But let’s put that duel aside and keep in mind who we’re talking about: Bedouin kids with cancer. Arab youngsters wishing to go to an amusement park. Random Arab adults trying to switch their bank accounts.

There’s a lot more where that comes from, of course — Israeli Arabs looking for jobs, looking for apartments, trying to get into a nightclub, trying to reserve a table at a restaurant. It’s a matter of luck, of which Jew in a position of power they happen to come across.

Two out of the five Arabs at Bank Hapoalim got lucky, the other three didn’t. The five Jews, of course, didn’t need luck.

As the saying goes, it is what it is.

What does this state of affairs say, for instance, about Israel’s blanket defense of “security” in ethnically profiling Arabs (along with all other gentiles) at Ben-Gurion Airport? How much of the true reason for that is security, and how much is straight-up racism? (And – sorry to come back to that old duel – but how much is the security problem responsible for Israeli racism, and how much is Israeli racism responsible for the security problem?)

And what does the past week’s news say about the popular claim that not only isn’t Israel an apartheid country, but that it’s anti-Semitic to even suggest so?

Finally, what does all this say to the liberals? What does it say to those (including me) who want to believe that if this country just ends the occupation, if it allows a Palestinian state to come into being in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, if it goes back to living within its old, pre-Six Day War borders, its spirit will be healed?

Larry Derfner is a journalist in Israel who blogs for +972 Magazine.

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WHY WOULD ROBERT DE NIRO SAY THIS?

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Here’s just one reason …
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Dozens of graduates of a Palestinian medical school gathered outside the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on Thursday to protest their continuing ineligibility to work in Israeli hospitals.
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Palestinian medical school grads protest exclusion from Israeli hospitals

The Al-Quds School of Medicine, east of Jerusalem, is considered neither Israeli nor foreign, leaving its graduates ineligible to take the Israeli licensing exam.

By Nir Hasson
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Al-Quds graduates at the Supreme Court in 2012.
Al-Quds graduates at the Supreme Court in 2012. Photo by Emil Salman
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Dozens of graduates of a Palestinian medical school gathered outside the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on Thursday to protest their continuing ineligibility to work in Israeli hospitals.

The graduates of the Al-Quds School of Medicine in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, had hoped new Health Minister Yael German would reverse her predecessors’ policy on the matter.

The policy, which has been in place for seven years, is political. Because part of the Al-Quds University campus – though not the medical school – is located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the Health Ministry and Council of Higher Education refuse to allow graduates in medicine and other health professions to sit for their licensing boards as “foreign university” graduates. Nor can they can they take the boards as Israeli graduates, because Al-Quds in not accredited by the council.

As a result, some 60 physicians, a similar number of dentists, and a few hundred lab technicians and physiotherapists who have finished their studies cannot work in the health system, even in East Jerusalem. This flies in the face of the serious shortage of Arabic-speaking health professionals in the capital in general, and East Jerusalem in particular.

Moreover, the Al-Quds School of Medicine is considered a top-notch medical school. In the past, when the Health Ministry allowed Al-Quds graduates to take the licensing exams, they consistently scored higher than the graduates of any other foreign medical school. Graduates of medical schools elsewhere in the territories can take the Israeli exams and work in Israel, even though their training is not as highly regarded.

The Health Ministry admits its policy on the medical school is political and that it was formulated in consultation with diplomats. But what makes the situation even more peculiar is that Al-Quds law graduates and graduates of other departments are allowed to sit for the Israeli Bar Association or other relevant Israeli professional licensing exams.

“It isn’t clear why the health minister has to be the pipeline for exerting diplomatic pressure on the backs of doctors and patients in Jerusalem,” says attorney Shlomo Lecker, who is representing the doctors.

In 2011, Lecker filed suit with the Jerusalem District Court, sitting as the Administrative Affairs Court, against the Health Ministry’s policy. After losing that case in February 2012, he appealed to the Supreme Court, which in July 2012 affirmed the lower court ruling. The justices, however, called on the Council of Higher Education to examine the possibility of splitting the university so that the medical school could be recognized separately as being outside the Jerusalem city limits. Al-Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh and the Council on Higher education have exchanged letters in the past few months, but the state has yet to change its position.

The Health Ministry noted that both the district and high courts had rejected the Al-Quds doctors’ appeals.

“Al-Quds University operates both in the Palestinian Authority territories and within the State of Israel (without CHE approval), and as a result it isn’t possible to recognize this university as a foreign university,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. “A solution was suggested to the university administration, but apparently the good of the students is not the university administration’s highest priority, but some other agenda. The Health Ministry is waiting for the parties to coordinate so that a solution can be found that will enable the graduates to be licensed.”

FATHER’S DAY IN GAZA …. WITHOUT DAD

Image by Skulz Fontaine
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Israel prohibits Gazan children from visiting imprisoned fathers
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Over 500 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel.
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ISRAEL IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES, NOT JEWS FROM BROOKLYN

We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.
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Unfair
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As Jews we say “Birthright” trips must end

Aviva Stahl
Sarah Woolf and 
Sam Elliott Bick
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Elderly woman sits in refugee camp

Israel claims all Jews have a “birthright” to the country, while Palestinian refugees are barred from return.

 (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

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As the summer months approach, thousands of young Jews from more than 60 countries prepare to participate in the Taglit-Birthright program. Since 1999, Birthright has brought 340,000 young Jews to Israel on free ten-day trips. In the midst of the fervor to sign up for this bi-annual program, we have launched the website Renounce Birthright (renouncebirthright.org) with the aim of providing a space for potential participants to engage with critiques of Birthright and of Zionism.

We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program because it promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora. We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.

Birthright was created in response to concerns over increasing rates of intermarriage, the perceived “crisis of continuity” and the weakening of Jewish communal ties. Over the course of the last decade, the program has worked to create and maintain commitment to Zionism and Israel on the part of non-Israeli Jews.

Exclusive ideology

Birthright’s mission, according to the organization, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”

The idea of strengthening “solidarity among world Jewry,” “personal Jewish identity,” and Israel’s “connection to the Jewish people” through trips to Israel is based on a conflation ofJudaism with Zionism. Judaism is a religion. Political Zionism is a movement based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians.

The term “Birthright” itself is telling. Like its American counterpart, the ideology of manifest destiny, it operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive “right” to Palestinian land. In both the American and Israeli contexts, the only way to secure that “right” is through violence, land theft and displacement.

Settler-colonialism must be opposed, no matter where it takes place. For non-Israeli Jews living in other settler-colonial countries, we must also be accountable to other processes of de-colonization. No group of people have the right to live anywhere that mandates the explicit exclusion of anyone else.

The establishment of the Israeli state, and the alleged Jewish “birthright,” involved the violent displacement of several hundred thousand indigenous Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages. A Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.

In contemporary Israel — where approximately one-fifth of the population is Palestinian — the rights of citizenship (ezrahut) and nationality (le’um) are intentionally distinct. Palestinians born within the 1949 armistice line are considered citizens (and not nationals). Meanwhile a Jew born and raised in New York has a “birthright” to the Israeli state in Palestine, is considered a national, and can almost immediately become a citizen upon emigrating.

Maintaining a myth

Birthright in particular — as a part of the Zionist project — relies on the belief that non-Israeli Jews are national-citizens-in-waiting, a reality from which Palestinian refugees are forever excluded.

We would have no “Birthright” without Israeli occupation and apartheid — it is how Zionism sustains the myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”

Birthright has spent more than $600 million since its inception in 1999. The organization has three major sources of funding: the Israeli government (which committed another $100 million to Birthright in 2011), wealthy donors such as Charles Bronfman, and Jewish federations across North America (“The romance of Birthright Israel,” The Nation, 15 June 2011).

In a 2012 speech delivered to Birthright participants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home, tell them about the real Israel” (“PM Netanyahu’s speech at Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event”).

Convincing non-Israeli Jews to defend Netanyahu’s “real Israel” is an integral part of Birthright, and helps explain the government’s investment in the program.

The program’s largest financial supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson — who has provided $140 million to the program — was described in The New York Times last year as having “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (“What Sheldon Adelson wants,” 23 June 2012).

Beyond individual donors, non-Israeli Jewish community organizations and institutions — such as the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel — support Birthright economically and politically.

Apolitical?

In the name of diasporic Jewish communities, these organizations invest millions of dollars into the promotion of Birthright’s political Zionism, rather than in local projects.

Despite all this, Birthright claims to be apolitical. In 2006, Birthright Director of Marketing Gidi Mark said: “I don’t think it’s political for Jews to support Israel” (“Come, see Palestine!” Salon.com, 5 June 2006).

However, the establishment and maintenance of an exclusively Jewish Israel — through forcible displacement, land theft, occupation, segregation, institutionalized racism and systemic discrimination — is political at its core, and is both supported and reinforced by the Birthright program.

For instance, during the trip, approximately 10,000 Birthright participants visit the Ahavacosmetics factory each year; Ahava is located in the illegally-occupied West Banksettlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava directly profits from the exploitation of Palestinian Dead Sea resources.

Moreover, disturbing accounts of explicit racism have arisen in recent years; former participants often recount how the language used by Birthright personnel demonizes Palestinians. One past attendee said her Birthright tour guide told her group that “Arabs have wanted to kill Jews forever, that they are ‘like mosquitoes’ we must swat away” (“So you’re thinking of Birthright,” Mondoweiss, 20 December 2012).

Zionism is a political project, and Birthright is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of that political project outside Israel. As such, we must recognize our engagements with Birthright as a question of politics, and not just “a free vacation.”

Narrow confines

In reinforcing the belief that what it means to be Jewish is to be Zionist (particularly for non-Israeli Jewish youth), Birthright perpetuates a single narrative about what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel, and who can be a Jew.

Jewish people speak and have spoken an array of languages, live and have lived across the world, and possess different histories that extend beyond the narrow confines of political Zionism and the nation-state of Israel.

It is contemporary political Zionism that has “othered” Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, as New York University professor Ella Shohat explains, by urging Arab Jews “to see their only real identity as Jewish,” such that their “Arabness, the product of millennial cohabitation, is merely a diasporic stain to be ‘cleansed’ through assimilation” (“The invention of the Mizhahim,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume 29, No. 1, Autumn 1999).

Further, Israel’s policy towards Ethiopian Jews in recent years demonstrates how the limits of Jewishness are often defined through Zionism. There is a clear tension between Birthright’s claim to promote diasporic life, and the fact that it the program is so deeply rooted in Zionism, an ideology that homogenizes the experiences and identities of Jews.

Our alleged Birthright can only exist through the suppression and erasure of many Jewish identities, histories and experiences.

Liberation in Palestine is a question of land, colonialism and apartheid — not religion. The work of Jewish and Israeli organizations and collectives such as Zochrot, Boycott from Within, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Israeli Queers Against Apartheid attests to this fact.

As scholar Judith Butler has explained: “there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values” (“Judith Butler responds to attack,” Mondoweiss, 27 August 2012).

No right to apartheid

We have founded Renounce Birthright because Birthright demands our complicity in two intersecting (but distinct) forms of violence: first, the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s brutal regime of apartheid and second, the erasure and suppression of diverse Jewish experiences and communities across the world.

In organizing for Palestinian liberation, we are deeply committed to the belief that Jewish experiences and narratives — particularly North American Jewish experiences, including our own — should not be centered.

As Mezna Qato and Kareem Rabie explained in their recent article for Jacobin magazine: “the left often neglects these anti-colonial principles and seeks out Jewish voices to validate Palestinian claims. In turn, it privileges Jewish discourse, anxieties, and histories in ways that marginalize Palestinians in their own struggle” (“Against the Law,” Spring 2013).

We recognize that our struggles are greatly distinct yet related, and are engaged in this project first and foremost from a position of solidarity.

We call on non-Israeli Jews across the diaspora to join us in renouncing Birthright— and our privileged legal relationship to the Israeli state — because we have no right to apartheid and colonialism.

Aviva Stahl grew up in New Jersey and now lives in London; she is the US researcher for CagePrisoners and a collective member of Bent Bars. She can be followed on Twitter@stahlidarity.

Sarah Woolf is an editorial intern at The Nation magazine. Hailing from Montréal, she currently lives in New York City.

Sam Elliott Bick is from Montreal, Québec. He is a member of the Tadamon! collective, and organizes at the Immigrant Workers Center. He can be followed on Twitter@sam_Bick.

Source

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Also see THIS relevant post

MEDICAL RACISM IN ISRAEL

It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.
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Medical racism: Israel hospital director complains that too many African babies are being born

 by Ali Abunimah
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Israelis chant “Sudanese Back To Sudan” during a right-wing demonstration against African refugees in south Tel Aviv, 30 May 2012.

 (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

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It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.

Israel’s Maariv reported yesterday the official’s comments in Hebrew:

“In Tel Aviv, today, there live approximately 80 thousand infiltrators from Africa, who constitute about 15 percent of the city’s population. In the last year about 700 babies were born to Eritrean and Sudanese mothers, and we currently have an average of about two births a day,” thus reported today Professor Gaby Barabash, director of the Ichilov Medical Center, in a hearing the Knesset held by the lobby for returning the infiltrators.

The problem is that they closed down the fence, but they did not close down the natural growth, and the number of Eritreans born here rises from year to year,” said Barabash.

Barabash’s use of the term “infiltrators” as a general term for Africans marks his comments as part of the long-standing campaign of racist incitement by Israeli leaders and officials that has resulted in horrifying demonstrations and pogroms targeting Africans in Israel, many of whom arrive as refugees.

In December, David Sheen profiled Israel’s “racist ringleaders,” the political leaders and public figures most responsible for racist incitement.

Barabash’s comments are also in keeping with the general outlook in Israel where it is socially acceptable to define the births of non-Jewish babies as undesirable or as a “demographic threat” to the so-called “Jewish and democratic state.”

Even more disturbing, Barabash played on common racist tropes of Africans and people of color as bearers of diseases, recognizable from racist discourses in other places and times, including traditional European anti-Semitic rhetoric:

Professor Barabash reported high percentages of intrauterine deaths, and also contagious viral diseases among the delivering mothers: tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. The African population constitutes one third of the new cases of AIDS carriers [sic] diagnosed in Israel, and half of the cases of malaria carriers.

All of this testimony was taken at a parliamentary hearing organized by members who voice vocal support for mass expulsions of Africans and for the construction of a desert prison camp to hold them.

Recently, women of Ethiopian origin have accused Israeli officials of forcing them to take long-term contraceptives, allegations that came to light following an investigation into the precipitous drop in births to Ethiopian women in Israel in recent years.

A long tradition of Israeli baby-hatred

Barabash’s shocking comments also recall those made by Dr. Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher at the Israeli government’s Armaments Development Authority at the Herzliya Conference in 2003, who called for Israel to “implement a stringent policy of family planning in relation to its Muslim population.”

Ravid added: “the delivery rooms in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba,” an area with a large Bedouin population, “have turned into a factory for the production of a backward population” (“Herzliya conference sees verbal attacks on Israeli Arabs,” Haaretz, 18 December 2003).

Palestine’s indigenous Bedouin population has long been the target of Israeli forced removal from their lands and other racist practices.

And as David Hirst wrote of Prime Minister Golda Meir in his classic book The Gun and the Olive Branch, “The Palestinians’ birth-rate was so much higher than the Jews’ that her sleep was often disturbed, she would say, at the thought of how many Arab babies had been born in the night.”

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation and analysis.

 

 

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