RACISM TEST // CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?

The following appeared today as an OpEd on Ynet News …. it’s definitely worth the read …

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The racism test

 Non-Jews often suffer discrimination, humiliation under guise of security reasons

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Here’s a small “spot the differences” style test referring to two stories reported in recent days. The first, which appeared on the IsraeliLifeUSA.com website, was about a blind passenger who was taken off a flight from Philadelphia to Long Island because his service dog, Doxy, refused to remain under the seat in front of him, violating safety instructions. The rest of the passengers rebelled and got off the plane as one. One of them reportedly said that he would rather ride a bus for 3.5 hours than travel with such insensitive people.

The second story has to do with us. A bus filled with soldiers arrived at the Dimona nuclear reactor for a security drill. The soldiers handed over their certificates, and it was then revealed that the three Druze troops among them were barred from entering the facility. They were only allowed to go in half an hour later.

The clear differences to an Israeli eye are as follows: There it was a flight, here – a bus. There it took place in Philadelphia, here – at the nuclear reactor in Dimona. There it “only” had to do with safety instructions, and here it had to do with the holy of holiest – security orders. And of course, there a dog was removed, and here – minorities.

These answers are correct, but they conceal the truth. The real answer is that there the passengers left the plane and the flight was canceled, and here several soldiers suggested “staying in the bus,” but the drill was held as planned, without the Druze soldiers.

Troubled by anyone who isn’t Jewish

This is a grim story because it’s not exceptional. The discrimination and humiliation suffered by non-Jews takes place frequently under the guise of security reasons. As the Nuclear Research Center said, “Everyone entering the Nuclear Research Center undergoes a security check at the gate, and this is what happened in this case too.” That is what they say at Ben-Gurion Airport as well in response to the repeated cases of humiliation.

That is also the excuse which the law preventing Palestinian family reunions in Israel was based on. The court accepted the claim that the partners arriving from the territories would be more inclined to support terror, although that security argument was not too strong. According to data which appeared in one of the verdicts, 130,000 Palestinians received a permit to stay in Israel from 1994 to 2006, and only few of them were suspected of security offenses.

Judge Procaccia, in a minority opinion, did not hesitate comparing the result to the infamous verdict in the Korematsu v. United States case, which approved putting Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II based on a general suspicion of treason due to their descent. Meanwhile, time has passed and the Americans regret this verdict. Here people say that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That’s a good piece of advice, but when it’s translated into a “rule of thumb” identifying dangerousness with Arabs, it turns into a racist instruction.

This security-related axiom is an admission ticket to the land of apartheid, where suspecting, checking and separating minorities seem like a normal and normative thing to us if they are covered with the “security” reasons.

We are troubled by anyone who is not Jewish: Arabs, migrants and even Druze who serve in the army. That is why we agree to join the shortened line reserved exclusively for Jews and turn a blind eye to the obstacle course reserved for others. We don’t leave the plane together with the dog. We take care of ourselves so much that we lose our humanity.

LAX SHOOTING // IT WASN’T A MUSLIM SO IT ISN’T TERRORISM

Despite the government having fairly clear definitions of what constitutes an act of “terrorism,” the terms “terrorist” or “terrorism” are used not to describe actions but to label people.

It is clear these are racialized terms, applied in a discriminatory way to people perceived as Muslim, Arab or nonwhite. And as such they are terms that stigmatize entire groups of people and to justify the government’s increasingly unaccountable power.

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Why isn’t the government calling the LAX shooting “terrorism?”

Ali Abunimah 

LAX shooting suspect Paul Ciancia

 (AP/FBI)

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“Paul Ciancia, the alleged gunman who paralyzed much of Los Angeles International Airport [LAX] in a Friday shooting spree, could have turned the nation’s third-busiest airport into a massive killing zone had it not been for the quick response by airport police,” officials told USA Today on Saturday.

Using an assault rifle, Ciancia allegedly shot and killed Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer, and injured two more TSA officers and two civilians before he was stopped.

Ciancia was shot and injured by police and taken into custody. He has been charged, among other offenses, with killing a federal officer.

Based on available information, Ciancia’s alleged actions amount to a textbook case of “terrorism” according to the US government’s own definitions. But for some reason neither media nor officials are describing it that way.

It is instructive to look at how the US defines “terrorism” and compare the reaction to the LAX shooting to the aftermath of last April’s Boston Marathon bombing.

US definition of “terrorism”

As I’ve noted previously, the US government has no single definition of “terrorism” but the National Institute of Justice at the US Department of Justice points to two influential standards that are in use, one enshrined in law and the other provided by the FBI:

Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Both definitions of terrorism share a common theme: the use of force intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal. In most cases, NIJ researchers adopt the FBI definition, which stresses methods over motivations and is generally accepted by law enforcement communities.

These definitions, it should also be noted, are carefully crafted to avoid including state violence as “terrorism” even when in every other respect, except the identity of its perpetrator, it fits the descriptions.

Ciancia’s alleged motive

Based on information released by officials, Ciancia’s intent was not in doubt. USA Todayreports:

Investigators recovered a rambling note from the bag the shooter allegedly was carrying, which detailed an intent to “kill” TSA officers, said two federal law enforcement officials familiar with the message’s contents.

[FBI Special Agent David] Bowdich said the handwritten note made it clear that the suspect intended to kill “multiple” TSA employees and to “instill fear into their traitorous minds.

The officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly, told USA TODAY that the note was written in a way that suggested the author expected to lose his life.

One of the officials described the incident as a suicide mission.

The Associated Press described the materials that were allegedly in Ciancia’s possession as “Patriot movement propaganda.”

There is no doubt Ciancia’s alleged actions clearly meet the government definition of “terrorism”: there is evidence of premeditation, a clear anti-government motivation and an intent to “instill fear.”

If any example of violence deserves to be treated as “terrorism” then it is hard to think of a more clear-cut example.

Is it “terrorism” yet?

And yet, neither major media nor public officials have, as far as I can determine, applied the terms “terrorism” or “terrorist” to what happened at LAX.

While the incident received major news coverage, there has been no national panic on the scale that followed the 15 April Boston Marathon bombing.

Recall that after that attack, media and officials all rushed to declare the incident a “terrorist” attack.

President Barack Obama, after initially hesitating, described the Boston bombing as an “act of terrorism” the very next day even before the identities of the suspects were known.

With the “terrorism” panic in full force, the city of Boston was placed under an unprecedented curfew – effectively martial law – with thousands of police scouring the streets and invading people’s homes as the search for the suspects went on.

After 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured by police, Obama made astatement declaring: “We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had. And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.”

He followed up with a video address to the nation, declaring that “an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon.”

Members of Congress demanded publicly that the surviving Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, be treated as an “enemy combatant.”

In fact officials of Obama’s Justice Department deprived Tsarnaev of his basic civil rights by questioning him for an extended period after he was taken into custody without reading him his Miranda rights. This violation met with broad public and elite approval.

After all, weren’t we dealing with “terrorism?”

Contrast

Contrast this with Obama’s silence after the LAX shooting. There’s no statement about it on the White House website as of today.

Obama has kept a low profile, speaking to officials by telephone, but saying nothing publicly to reassure an alarmed nation of his resolve against “terrorism.”

What’s important to remember is that in the Boston case, unlike the LAX shooting, there was and is no clear evidence of a political motivation that would meet the government’s definitions of terrorism.

The only “evidence” was that Dzhokar and his older brother Tamerlan, killed during the manhunt, were of Chechen ancestry and Muslim background.

Despite massive efforts, the government has found no credible evidence that the Tsarnaevs were acting on behalf of any group.

(More than a month after the bombing an anonymous official source claimed – rather incredibly – that the heavily bleeding Dzhokar had scrawled a note on the side of the boat he was hiding in when he was captured, stating the attack had something to do with US occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Meanwhile, police have uncovered evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was involved in a triple homicide in 2011, suggesting a hardened criminal who did not kill from a political motivation.

Not if it’s a white guy…

By now it should be clear that there is a pattern: acts of spectacular violence, predominantly by white men, are rarely termed “terrorist” even when all the evidence points in that direction according to the government’s own standards.

The LAX shooting is not an isolated case. Recall that on 18 February 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack flew an aircraft into an Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas, in an apparent suicide mission.

Stack killed himself and an IRS worker, Vernon Hunter. And just like Ciancia allegedly did, Stack also left a note explaining his anti-government motivations.

Yet even as information about Stack emerged, the Obama White House and various public officials refused to label his suicide mission a “terrorist” attack.

Similarly, Obama refused to term the August 2012 massacre of six persons at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin a “terrorist” attack.

The shooter, Wade Michael Page, was a US army veteran and white supremacist.

Blaming “mental illness”

Instead of the “terrorism” label, the media immediately begin to pursue a line of thought suggesting that the suspect (if white) is “mentally ill” or a “disturbed” loner.

This is already happening with Ciancia, whom The New York Times described today as “a troubled 23-year-old, with an assault rifle and an apparent grudge against the government.”

Ciancia, we are informed, attended a Catholic school, but there’s no speculation about what role religious education might have played in his alleged actions.

“Several family friends, neighbors and classmates described him as having been a reserved, quiet boy who, along with his younger brother, Taylor, seemed to be scarred by his mother’s long battle with multiple sclerosis and her death in 2009,” the Times reports.

It quotes a 21-year-old server in a local diner in the family’s New Jersey hometown claiming that the Ciancia brothers “had some depression issues, and they both got obsessive.” The Times does not explain what qualifications the server had to make such a clinical diagnosis.

Aside from stigmatizing mental illness, the absence of this knee-jerk reaction when Muslims are accused reflects a bizarre belief that only white people can be “disturbed” or “mentally ill.”

“Terrorist” as a racial term

Despite the government having fairly clear definitions of what constitutes an act of “terrorism,” the terms “terrorist” or “terrorism” are used not to describe actions but to label people.

It is clear these are racialized terms, applied in a discriminatory way to people perceived as Muslim, Arab or nonwhite. And as such they are terms that stigmatize entire groups of people and to justify the government’s increasingly unaccountable power.

 

Written FOR

A MUST READ IF YOU THINK THE TSA ARE A BUNCH OF NUDNIKS

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If you think the TSA hassle you went through the last time you traveled was unbearable, read the following ….. you ain’t seen nothing yet! It’s a long read, but if you want to see a real picture of zionism in action, it’s a must.
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‘The bra is a security threat’: Harassment and interrogation at Ben Gurion airport
 Anonymous

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Here is yet another story of a Palestinian being harassed while trying to travel through Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Anonymous lives in Berkeley, her father is Palestinian and her mother is Jewish. Here she recounts how she was interrogated and strip searched while trying to leave Israel/Palestine after visiting family in Jaffa and Tel Aviv, “I had been mistreated, combed out of the crowd and profiled, my time wasted and my dignity subsequently stepped all over without a second thought. I had been treated like a criminal for having an identity that I was born into, told explicitly in each of these actions that I did not belong here and had no place here at all as a person with Palestinian heritage. Harassed and picked out from the rest because of my name, my history, the assumptions that go with them, and my very intention to visit my family, many of who cannot visit me in the USA.”

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I took a deep breath and looked around at my surroundings. I mostly kept tabs on the other people who I had been in line with. While most went through the baggage scan machine and straight to their ticket desks, the other members with yellow stickers on their luggage like myself had all been cleared after a 10-15 minute bag check with only one or two of their bags being searched. I was the only person left at the checking tables. The thin bald man in the suit came over once again.

“What do you have in your pockets?” he asked me. “My passport, my visa, and my phone” I told him.

“Fine” he said, “she will escort you to security.” He pointed to the young blonde.

I reached for my bags. “No no. They stay here. You go with her.”

“Who will watch my bags?” I asked him. “They will be here. Go with her.”

The blonde woman and I walked through the airport.

“How old are you?” she asked me. “21” I said, “and you?”

“23” she said.

We stopped before a big white door. She swiped her id card and typed in a code. The door unlocked, to which I entered a white room with a baggage x-ray machine and a white table that looked like a dental chair. Curtains hung in the near right corner. She pointed to that corner with a foam chair and metal legs.

“Sit there” she said. I sat.

A young man appeared, he was in a plaid shirt, jeans and a pair of white Adidas. Undercover police for sure. He lurked on the other side of the curtain that the young blonde partially drew. “Stand with your arms at your sides” she gesticulated. I watched the man’s white sneakers stop on the other side of the curtain, facing towards it. I took my shoes off and my phone was placed in a grey tub. I eyed my passport and visa on the shelf in front of me. She did a general pat down and then pulled my pant waist far from my body and checked around between the gap where my underwear and my belt would have been if I had been wearing one. She sighed and told me that I was finished and should take a seat. Somebody else came through the white door on the other side of the curtain and began laughing with the plain-clothed guard. I could tell by the voice and by her black shoes under the curtain that she was a woman. The young blonde woman left with my shoes and my phone in the grey tub. I eyed my passport again on the ledge in front of me and stuck it into my pocket.

“Are your pockets empty?” Another blonde woman came through the gap in the curtains, the undercover guard moved to the table across from the gap and viewed in. I took my passport out again and held it in my hands. “Yes”.

She had large round eyes and appeared older than the first blonde woman who had checked my bags, maybe she was 26-29. Her hair was wavy and limp against her head. My phone beeped again, probably my family calling me to check on why I had not notified them about my status through the airport as we had agreed.

I guessed at the time. It was perhaps around 6:45. I had been in the private security room for roughly a quarter of an hour. “I am the security supervisor here and I have some questions for you” she told me. She asked me again as to the purpose of my trip, to which I gave the same generic answer of Holy Land sights, friends and family visits.

“Who’d you stay with?” I gave some names. “And the addresses?” I gave one address of a friend in Jerusalem who I’d stayed with for a block of time. She questioned me more on the details of the residents in the flat and how I knew them. She asked me why I’d stayed there and how I could be friends with the people who I mentioned. All had Jewish names.

“We just are” I told her. She stared blankly. “Ok…” she paused.

I said nothing, just looked up at her face. “And who paid for this trip?” she demanded. Her tone was hostile and her body language was on edge as she stood above me and looked down at me in my chair. “My mother.”

“Why?”

“So that I could visit the sights, friends and family” I repeated.

“You are going to London now.”

“Yes I am.”

“Why?”

“To visit family.”

“You are always visiting family” she commented in a teasing tone, the corner of her mouth in a slight snarl, “Why is that?”

“Because I am. Any other questions?” I told her flatly.

“What do you do?”

“What do I do?”

“Yes in the USA or wherever you live what do you do.”

“I work. I recently graduated college.” She asked for the details of what I studied and where I worked. I gave her one-word answers.

“What are your family names?” she again demanded.

“T(Palestinian) and N (Jewish).”

“N(Jewish)?”

“Yes N(Jewish).”

“And your other name is T(Palestinian)?”

“That’s right.”

“Your father was born where?”

“Jordan.”

She repeated my name. “That is my name.” She paused, confused.

“You told another security person that you are Jewish but really you’re just a Palestinian.”

“I am both” I told her.

“What do you mean both?”

“I am Jewish and Palestinian. My mother is Jewish and my father is Palestinian, do you want my family names again?”

The undercover guard was still sitting on the table swinging his legs. His face twisted.

“So if you are both, where is your family in Israel?”

“Jaffa and Tel Aviv” I told her. She was frustrated. “But who…you’re going to England?”

“My mother was born in Britain, why I am going to England and who I will see is not relevant. Do you have any other questions?” I asked her.

This was the first emotional rise that she had gotten from me and, though it was mild, I reminded myself to calm down. I did not want to spend any more energy on this process than I had to. The goal is to end this and go. End this process and go. I reminded myself.

She paused. “Ok, were you told to bring anything onto the plane?”

“I am just bringing myself and my luggage”

“Yes but were you told to bring anything with you?”

“I don’t understand your question”

“Were you told to carry something onto, you know, the plane”

“I still don’t understand your question. I am attempting to board this plane in order to leave Israel and I am hopefully bringing myself and my luggage”

“But there is nobody else?”

“No? I am by myself” She turned around to leave.

“Excuse me, what is your name please?” I asked her. “My name?” The guard smirked.

“Yes your name.”

She and the guard exchanged glances. He sniggered. She laughed. “What do you want my name for?”

“You know my name so I would like to know your name.”

“It’s Hilda.”

“Hilda what?”

“Hilda Ma…” She mumbled the rest. “What was your last name again please?”

“I’ll spell it out for you later if you want. Ok?”

“Yes thank you.” She tossed the curtain aside.

I sat in clear view of the guard who exchanged some words and guffaws with Hilda. He raised his eyebrows at her and pointed at me, his tone of voice said, “can you believe that? Who does she think she is?”

Hilda imitated me and they laughed again. She then disappeared to the other side of the room where I lost visual contact with her. The guard watched her speak with the young blonde woman who then reappeared in the curtained area. She pulled the curtains closer together behind her. The white shoes stood on the other side of the curtain, facing towards it. She motioned for me to rise and hold my hands away from my body.

“Are you going to check me again?” I asked. “Yes” she said.

She scanned me with a metal detector, paying close attention to my chest where my underwire was making the machine beep (which anyone who wears a bra can tell you happens routinely in a check with a handheld metal detector). She lifted up my sweat-pant legs and checked around my calves.

“What’s in your hair?” she said, pointing to my poofy bun on top of my head.

“Nothing, it’s just a hair tie” I said. “Ok can you take it off” she told me.

I took my hair down and she sifted through my curls. “You have a lot of hair” she told me.

I put it back up into a bun and said nothing. Then she left through the gap in the curtains.  The man walked to the gap in the curtain and again turned to face me. I sat down and looked at him. His feet were swinging and his eyes mocked me.

The young blonde came back with the same probe, with a flat head and a cotton pad, that she had used to check my luggage earlier that morning. “Ok stand up again” she told me.
“What is that?” I asked her. She looked shyly at me. “This will um go around your chest and your bottom area”

“My bottom?”

“Your waist and yes like that” she said. “For what purpose?”

“To check and then scan into the machine…it’s just your surfaces” she told me.

I withheld a shudder, feeling the situation slowly slipping out of my control. There was no one else in the room, only the four of us, Hilda, the young blonde, the young undercover guard, and myself. Hilda called the guard over to the right hand side of the room. I watched his white Adidas move back and forth as he rocked on the other side of the curtain. The young blonde stuck the flat-headed probe down my shirt and then around my bra. Then she pulled my sweatpants far away from my body and circled the probe around my waist.

“Can you pull your underwear down a little bit please?” she asked me. This was the first time that she had said please and I could tell that she was embarrassed. I stared at the gap in the curtain and pulled the top of my underwear down. I looked her in the face. Her skin was dewy. The woman swept the probe around my body again and then told me to lift my feet off the floor. She checked my soles. I heard my phone beep twice in its grey bin somewhere on my right by the white “dental” chair next to Hilda and the guard. The young blonde avoided my eye contact and left through the door.

About 30 seconds later, Hilda reappeared and swept open the curtains. The guard reappeared with her and moved to stand on my left by the curtain seam.

“Ok so I need to take off your underwear.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes the machine signaled a problem with your shirt and underwear so you need to take them off”.

The guard stared me down. His eyes were mocking. “You want me to take off my underwear and then do what with them?”

“We will scan them and then you will need to put other ones on.”

“Other ones? I only have what I have on.” On cue the young blonde rolled in my red suitcase and pulled it into the curtain area.

“What did the machine detect exactly?” I pressed. “I can’t tell you that. You just need to remove your underwear and your shirt.”

“And then you want me to change back into them?”

“No you have to check them in with your luggage and wear something else.”

“But I don’t want to wear anything else. My other clothes are dirty.”

“You have to wear something else. The bra is a security threat.”

“My bra is a security threat?”

“Yes and so is your shirt.”

My mind buzzed as my emotions rose. I looked at the guard and he smirked back at me. “This is your punishment for asking Hilda’s name” I told myself.

The young blonde girl looked at me with my suitcase in hand, a surprisingly distressed look on her face. The expression was guilt. Only later did it strike me that the time between the probe test and Hilda’s decision that my underwear threatened security spanned an average of 30 seconds and that this was, most likely, a time too short to have actually checked the cotton pad on the end of the probe and communicated the next sequence of events between Hilda and the young blonde along with the organized retrieval of my suitcase from the terminal.

I unzipped my bag and popped it open. The inside was a mess from the first rummage through it and I had no idea where anything was. I calmed myself down, took deep breaths, reminded myself that this was all a power play with the intention of making me feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I fished out another bra from my bag and took the first shirt that I could find. I went into my underwear pocket but Hilda stopped me. “Why don’t you just wear the ones you have?” she said.

“You told me to change my underwear” I responded.

“No you can leave them. I just want your bra and your shirt” she barked at me.

I folded the two articles over my arm. “Give them to me” Hilda demanded. “I need to scan these before you put them on.” I handed them over to her while the guard watched. She disappeared, I don’t remember what she did. I was busy watching the young blonde woman who looked as uncomfortable as I felt. Hilda handed me my bra and shirt. I stared at the guard. Hilda caught my eye, “you have to change clothes now. No one will see you.” She left and drew the curtains behind her.

For the first time since I entered the airport, I was alone. I watched the guard’s white shoes, pointed towards the curtains. For good measure, I faced the wall and placed my passport in my pocket. I changed my clothes and replaced them with the ones from my bag. I went to my bag to fold them back in when Hilda pulled back the curtains.

“No don’t pack them yet I need to test them!” she barked.

“You already checked them. That’s why we are going through this process, correct?”

“I will check them again.”

I passed them to her right past the guard’s body. He had stepped very close to Hilda and myself. As I passed my clothing to Hilda, he stared down at the bra in my hand and then back up at me. I stood there. I took deep breaths. My eyes dared him to utter a word. He didn’t, he just stared at me.

The young blonde called me back to the other side of the curtains and closed them behind me. My whole body was vibrating with anger. She checked around my body with a metal detector for the second time. The young woman patted down my top yet again. My throat constricted and I could feel angry tears welling up somewhere inside me. I swallowed my feelings. I buried them. I reminded myself of my goal in this very moment and of the stubborn character that my family was so well known for. I made a pact with myself that I would not give them the emotional response they were pressing for. I would not let them compromise my dignity. “Focus” I told myself. “Just focus.”

Hilda brought my shirt and bra back from wherever she had taken them and I packed them into my chaotic suitcase. As Hilda and the guard joked and laughed together, the young blonde approached me. “This is all protocol you know” she whispered at my side.

“Oh really? This is protocol?” I said slowly. I looked her in the eye and she looked down at her feet. I hoped that she was ashamed of this process, ashamed of the actions that had been deemed “appropriate”, realized that she was a pawn in all of this but no less guilty in carrying out the policy of racial and specific group targeting that this whole experience was built upon.

The end of the process was sudden. The whole thing was surreal actually. Hilda left the room in one swift movement. The door slammed behind her. The guard kept tabs on me with the young blonde at my side. I closed my bag and pulled it to standing.

“You can put your shoes on” the young blonde said.

I looked around. “Ok, can I have my shoes please?”

“Oh yeah.” She brought me the grey bin with my phone and shoes and I slipped them on.

The girl pointed me towards the door and we walked through, the plain clothed guard disappeared into the hallway behind us. I did not see him again.

The girl and I walked back together, alone. “You know…” she began “I’ve been working here for 1.5 years and I have never seen them do something like that.”

“Do something like what?” I asked. She looked up at me with a crease in her forehead, “make someone take off their bra…”

“I hope it’s the last time” I told her. She looked ahead into the terminal. We stopped talking.

We reentered the large room that I had first had my bags checked through, the glass doors to the outside of the airport shone with the bright light of the sun. It was now morning. I smiled to myself that I had finished the process. “I get to leave now”, I thought to myself. My eyes adjusted to the light in the terminal where I clearly saw about 6-8 security guards rummaging through the complete contents of both of my carryon bags that now lay limp on the floor. Stuff inside grey bins, outside grey bins, on the conveyor belt, across on other tables; my things were strewn absolutely everywhere. It was chaos.

I appeared before the tables, covered in my things, as the plastic gloved hands continued the sifting process. Everything was separated and individually run through the little metal detector behind me.

A stern, balding, reddish haired man with a black kippah stood there with an earpiece on one side. His arms were crossed and by the way that the skinny bald man stood next to him and all the guards checked in with his appraising gaze, I could tell that he was the boss of this particular operation. Hilda had disappeared completely. She was nowhere in sight. I said nothing about the bags. I just breathed. “Excuse me”, I called to the skinny bald man, “What was the woman’s name who checked me in the security room?”

The man looked at me, “You mean Hilda?”

“Yes Hilda” I responded.

The man with the kippah turned his glance towards me. “What is her full name?” I asked.

The bald man opened his mouth to answer but first turned his attention to his superior. “We don’t give last names” the man with the kippah asserted. “I doubt that”, I thought to myself.

“Ok what is her title then please?”

“Hilda, Security Supervisor.” A woman with a clipboard appeared between us and asked the skinny man who I was. He pointed to my name on a short list, which she then highlighted in yellow and pink. The skinny man looked at me, “You will make your flight.”


A young woman beckoned me to her box, I’m next. She opened my passport and stared down at the page. She stutters my first name. “Yes?”

“Ra…Ra…” I pronounce the rest of it for her. “What was the purpose of your visit?” I let out the same monotonous answer I had uttered all morning.

“You have friends and family here?” she asked. “Yes.”

“Ok where are they?”

“Tel Aviv and Jaffa” I said. She paused and cocked her eyebrows. “That’s the same place.”

“No no, I said Tel Aviv and Jaffa” I told her, thinking she had not heard me correctly. “Yes that’s the same place.” What she was implying hit me.

All morning I had been mistreated, combed out of the crowd and profiled, my time wasted and my dignity subsequently stepped all over without a second thought. I had been treated like a criminal for having an identity that I was born into, told explicitly in each of these actions that I did not belong here and had no place here at all as a person with Palestinian heritage. Harassed and picked out from the rest because of my name, my history, the assumptions that go with them, and my very intention to visit my family, many of who cannot visit me in the USA.

Here I was being told by a girl in uniform, very close to my age, that my town had no existence in the present, even as I had just left from it hours before arriving at the airport. The whole morning’s exchange culminated at this moment as a burning ember in my stomach. It was emblematic of the constant reminder that we Palestinians are being systematically forgotten and erased from public consciousness in every sphere of life, delegitimizing every root that we are attached to inside and outside of the Israeli state.

Tel Aviv, some of it built on two prominent neighborhoods of my town, much of the rest built upon the orange groves that sustained it, was swallowing up my very presence, right there in the middle of the airport. I realized that, to this girl I was already a disappeared part of “history”, excluded from her general consciousness, not even present in her own imagination of the past.

Yet here she was, looking right at me. I wanted to show her, to figuratively reach behind her glass case, that I was not a shadow of the things that were but a glimmer of the present and future of what is and what can be.

“They are not the same place” I tell her “One is north and one is south. One is a city and one is a town.”

“No, you were in one place. The name of the city is Tel Aviv – Yafo. Not Yafo. Same place.” She handed me back my passport and stared at me, annoyed.

“It is not the same place” I told her. “Is that all?”

“Yeah. Go.”

I hurried to my gate, through the final check and into the airport lounge area. I decided that the plane would not leave without me, from the beginning the airline had been notified about my ensured tardiness. I stopped at a candy and snack store on my way to the gate and chose a bottle of water. I brought it up to the woman at the desk. “Passport and boarding ticket please” she told me. I handed both to her. She looked me up in the computer in front of her. Her eyes fixed on me. “How long have you been in Israel and what is your final destination?” I was incredulous. I was being asked security questions by a candy vendor.

“Excuse me, I’ve already passed through security. How much are those tic-tacs please?” I grabbed the box next to me. She told me the total and I paid. She asked no more questions. I took my boarding materials from the counter. As I turned around, I noticed two plain clothed men with shaved heads watching me from their seats at the fountain. They had no baggage. I guessed who they were. I moved past them and walked briskly to my gate. I kiss the necklace around my neck as an act of gratitude and I know that I will be back. I also know that it will not be easy. It never is.

I hope that one day this story becomes a fairy tale of what was once the Occupation, in all of its arbitrary character and continual perpetuation of inequality, injustice, and illusion. For now, this experience as described above is just a minor example of the humiliation and daily challenges that Palestinians face on a regular basis when trying to cross checkpoints inside and outside of the West Bank and Gaza. It is just a minor example of the racial profiling that Palestinians with Israeli passports or Jerusalem ID cards go through on a regular basis when walking down the street or applying for a job. It is just a minor example of how the Occupation divides the Palestinian population into all of our different “statuses” and privileges while combining us all together into one essentializing package. It is an example of a situation where the oppression of certain groups of people has been completely normalized by the international community.

If we can start anywhere in deconstructing this Occupation, literally taking it apart, we can start by educating ourselves and our communities. I implore those who read this to learn about the history of Palestine, to learn about recent events on the ground, to talk to as many people as they can, to be curious and ask questions, to look at displays of military power and question the motives of those governments who support them.

Throughout all of this, please remember, that this is not a historical issue, it is a human one.

Peace, Justice and Dignity.

 

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

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

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR TRAYVON

 This week thousands of angry New Yorkers marched through the streets ….
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IT STARTED WITH A YELLOW STAR …..

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Then it became ….
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Israeli airport sorts passengers with ‘Jewish stickers’ and ‘Arab stickers’

 Philip Weiss

This shocking story– of yet another “huge humiliation” of a non-Jew at Ben Gurion airport– was posted by Mira Awad, an Israeli Palestinian singer, on her Facebook page, in Hebrew, today. Ami Kaufman at +972 provided a translation of the entry, and notes that Awad is a celebrity in Israel. Awad in translation: 

So, I was checked at the airport, they asked the questions, put the stickers on, and I proceeded to the X-Ray machine. Suddenly, the young security man comes to me: “Mira? Mira Awad?”

Me: “Yes?”

Security man: “Can I see your passport? There’s a mistake with the sticker.”

I almost told him: “No, you’re not mistaken, I see you put the right one on — the sticker for Arabs”, but I didn’t say that (security people have their humor extracted during their preparatory course). I gave him my passport, he opens it, takes off the sticker in the passport and on the suitcase and puts on a new one, different, the same color but smaller.

Now the dilemma. On the one hand it’s obvious the young man has just made my life easier by putting on the sticker for Jews. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that it’s hard to say thanks for. I mean, thank you for not considering me a terrorist any more? Thanks that someone whispered to you, “it’s Mira Awad,” so the “Awad” isn’t scary anymore? Thanks for upgrading me to a Class A citizen? I turned into one of “ours,” or actually one of “yours.” A small sticker that carries with it such huge humiliation, and today even enfolds stupidity. Because since they cancelled the stickers with different colors, which we protested, they made new stickers with less recognizable differences to the inexperienced eye, and here they are embarrassing themselves with unaware patronizing like, “Let’s award you with the status of a privileged person!” — so you don’t say that we aren’t humane. By the way, it happend to me also last week, when a senior security man who wanted to “show off” (maybe you’ll say he wanted to joke around, but we’ve already concluded that he doesn’t know how to joke around, see earlier “extraction of humor”) and asked one of his employees to get me one of the “regular” stickers and then winked at me as he continued to speak him: “Can’t you see it’s Mira Awad?”

So, the conclusion is, if you’re Israeli and your name is Awad – you better be famous! If not, forget about the duty free! Yalla, I’m out of here. For now.

Thanks to Ofer Neiman.

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Some people DO care …..

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Fighting Israeli Apartheid in Seattle

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 Equal Rights for Palestinians: The Way to Peace bus ads Seattle Metro (photo: SeaMAC)

Seattleites are becoming familiar with a host of different SeaMAC ads. Below are just a sampling of the ads they’ve run in Seattle’s 2 local print weeklies, The Stranger and the Seattle Weekly. Many more can be viewed at their website.

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Both posts FROM

‘LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT’ (YOUR LAPTOP) IF VISITING ISRAEL

A third American citizen, who preferred that her name not be published, was also refused entry in May after refusing to allow airport security personnel to access her personal email account. She was also told that she must have something to hide.
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Israel airport security demands access to tourists’ private email accounts

Several U.S. tourists report being asked by airport security personnel for access to their personal email accounts; Israel’s Shin Bet security service says it acted within the law.

By Amira Hass
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Travellers in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport
Travellers in Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Israel’s Shin Bet security service has been demanding access to personal email accounts of visiting tourists with Arab names, according to the testimony of three U.S. citizens who were interrogated at Ben Gurion Airport and subsequently refused entry into Israel in May.

Najwa Doughman, a 25-year-old architect from New York, landed in Israel on May 26. Doughman, who had already visited Israel three times in the past, planned to tour the country for ten days with a friend, Sasha Al-Sarabi, 24, who was visiting Israel for the first time. Both women were born to Palestinian families who were expelled from Haifa and Akko in 1948.

Around 5 P.M., approximately an hour after landing, Doughman’s interrogation began. She was questioned by a female security guard who did not divulge her name or position. Another female questioner was also present.  

The first part of the interrogation began with questions like: “Do you feel more Arab or more American?” (to which the interrogator supplied her own answer: “Surely you must feel a little more Arab.”), “Will you go to Al-Aqsa?” and “Why are you coming now for the third time? You can go to Venezuela, to Mexico, to Canada. It is much closer to New York, and much less expensive!”

When Doughman responded by asking “Don’t you have other tourists who come here more than once?” her interrogator responded, “I’m asking the questions here.”

Then, according to Doughman, her interrogator said, “Okay, we are going to do something very interesting now!” As Doughman describes it, the harsh stare on the security woman’s face gave way to a slight smirk. She typed www.gmail.com on her computer, turned the keyboard toward Doughman and demanded that she log in to her personal email account.    

Doughman said she that, while she was taken aback, it did not occur to her to refuse, despite the fact that this was clearly not a reasonable request.

According to a piece Doughman wrote several days later on the blog Mondoweiss, the security woman read through every email with certain key words (including “Palestine,” “Israel,” “West Bank” and “International Solidarity Movement”), reading some lines out loud as well as some chats between her and her friend regarding their upcoming trip. Then she recorded a number of her contacts’ names, emails and telephone numbers.

After some five hours of questioning, Doughman and her friend were forced to wait another three hours, after which they were told that they would be refused entry into Israel. Accompanied by a heavy cadre of security people, they were led to another part of Ben Gurion Airport, where they were photographed and their bags were searched meticulously down to the smallest objects.

Their computers and iPads were passed, twice, through an explosives-detection machine. Then they were given body searches behind a curtain.

When a metal detector beeped while being passed over a button on Doughman’s jeans, she was asked to take her pants off. She broke down in tears and refused, to which the security team responded by threatening to remove her pants by force. Instead, she was given a pair of shorts from her own suitcase and told to put them on instead of her jeans.

The two spent the night in a detention facility at Ben Gurion Airport and were flown out via France, some 14 hours after landing in Israel.

On May 21, another U.S. citizen, Sandra Tamari, a 42-year-old Quaker from St. Louis, was also asked to give airport security people access to her email before being denied entry into Israel. Her interrogation lasted eight hours. When she refused to open her email account, she was told that she was probably hiding something.

Tamari, also of Palestinian descent, has been active in campaigns for a boycott and sanctions against Israel. Her description of events was also published on Mondoweiss.

A third American citizen, who preferred that her name not be published, was also refused entry in May after refusing to allow airport security personnel to access her personal email account. She was also told that she must have something to hide.

A similar case was reported in October of 2011.

Ronit Eckstein, a spokesperson for the Israel Airports Authority, told Haaretz that the Interior Ministry is responsible for the entry of tourists to Israel, and that the security officials who interrogated the women were not employed by the Airports Authority or by Ben Gurion Airport.

The Interior Ministry said in response that the security checks are the responsibility of the Shin Bet security service.

The Shin Bet confirmed that Doughman and Tamari had been questioned by Shin Bet agents after landing in Israel, adding that the actions taken by the agents during questioning were within the organization’s authority according to Israeli law.

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Israel’s Response …

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Israel Rebuffs Criticism Over E-Mail Checks at Airport

Civil RIghts Groups Blast ‘Drastic Invasion of Privacy’

E-Mail Invasion? Israel is legendary for its tight airport security. But is it going too far by demanding that some passengers show their private e-mails?
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E-Mail Invasion? Israel is legendary for its tight airport security. But is it going too far by demanding that some passengers show their private e-mails? 

By Reuters

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Israel’s top legal adviser on Wednesday rebuffed criticism of authorities for asking travellers entering the Jewish state to show border officers their emails, saying the checks affecting only certain foreign nationals were lawful.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s written legal opinion was given in response to a query by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) which first questioned the practice last year.

On Wednesday the group called the checks a “drastic invasion of privacy … not befitting a democracy”.

Israel’s security agencies have been keen to stop pro-Palestinian activists they suspect may be planning anti-Israel activities in the occupied West Bank or inside the Jewish state.

Weinstein said officers of the internal undercover security service, the Shin Bet, needed “to establish or dispel suspicion against prospective foreign nationals wishing to enter Israel who show initial suspicious signs”.

He said officers were not allowed to access email accounts without the consent of the owner and added that travellers could refuse to cooperate. This did not necessarily mean they would automatically be barred entry.

“The traveller is not asked to reveal passwords … but opens the account on their own. The traveller has a full right to refuse the search and will not be forced to comply, although this will be taken into account when the authorities decide whether to allow the person to enter Israel,” he said.

Marc Grey, an ACRI attorney, said the issue was not so much the matter of revealing the email account’s password but the actual perusal of the private content in the mailbox.

“Passwords are not the issue, email accounts are about as private as it gets,” Grey told Reuters.

He said he did not know how many travellers to Israel had been asked to open their email accounts.

Lila Margalit, another ACRI attorney, said travellers were not on an equal footing when they faced questioning.

“A tourist … to Israel (who is) interrogated at the airport by Shin Bet agents and told to grant access to their email account, is in no position to give free and informed consent. Such ‘consent’, given under threat of deportation, cannot serve as a basis for such a drastic invasion of privacy,” she wrote in an email distributed on Wednesday.

“Allowing security agents to take such invasive measures at their own discretion and on the basis of such flimsy ‘consent’ is not befitting of a democracy.”

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RUSHING TO JUDGEMENT IN BOSTON

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Obama’s rush to judgment: Was the Boston bombing really a “terrorist” act?

 Ali Abunimah
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President Obama has repeatedly claimed that the Boston Marathon bombing was an “act of terror” and that its alleged perpetrators are “terrorists.”

It may seem pointless to quibble with this description: after all what could be more “terroristic” than setting off bombs at a peaceful sporting event killing three persons, one a child, and injuring or horrifically maiming dozens more?

But in fact how the act is described is very important in determining government, media and wider societal responses, including ramping up racism and bigotry against Muslims, Arabs or people of color.

There can be no doubt that the Boston Marathon bombing was a murderous act, but does it –– based on what is known –– fit the US government’s own definitions of “terrorism”?

It is important to recall that other, far more lethal recent events, including the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and the school massacre at Sandy Hook, Connecticut havenot been termed “terrorism,” nor their perpetrators labeled “terrorist” by the government. Why?

Obama’s changing descriptions

In his first statement shortly after news emerged of the bombing in Boston on 15 April 2013, Obama pointedly did not describe the attack as “terrorism.” The term is totally absent from his statement. He does say, “We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.”

It was only the next day on Tuesday, 16 April, that Obama first called the bombing an “act of terrorism” after media had pressed the White House on the issue.

Last night, after 19-year-old suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was captured by police, Obama made a statement declaring: “We will investigate any associations that these terroristsmay have had. And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.”

In his weekly video address today, Obama reaffirmed, “on Monday an act of terrorwounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon.”

Official definitions of “terrorism”

The US government has no single definition of “terrorism” but the National Institute of Justice at the US Department of Justice points to two influential standards that are in use, one enshrined in law and the other provided by the FBI:

Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Both definitions of terrorism share a common theme: the use of force intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal. In most cases, NIJ researchers adopt the FBI definition, which stresses methods over motivations and is generally accepted by law enforcement communities.

What was the “political” or “social” goal of the Boston bombing?

Based on these definitions, what distinguishes a “mass shooting” such as Aurora or Sandy Hook on the one hand, from an act of “terrorism” on the other, is that the mass shooters have no political goals. Their act is nihilistic and is not carried out in furtherance of any particular cause.

So far, however, absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted “in furtherance of political or social objectives” or that their alleged act was “intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.”

Nor is there any evidence that they are part of a group.

Neither of the suspects is known to have made any statement of a political or other goal for their alleged action and there has been no claim of responsibility. Obama, in his statement last night, admitted as much:

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?

So why is Obama calling them “terrorists?

Since Obama has no idea why the alleged suspects may have resorted to violence and no one else has offered an evidence-based explanation, why is Obama already labeling them “terrorists” when he himself warned against a “rush to judgment?”

The only explanation I can think of is the suspects’ identification as ethnic Chechens and Muslims, even though there is no evidence that they acted either in relation to events in their ancestral homeland or were motivated by any Islamist ideology.

Obama seems to be going on the careless, prejudiced assumption so common on cable television: they’re Muslims, so they must be “terrorists.”

This may be the easy and populist way of looking at it, pandering to prejudice as Obama so often does, but it is irresponsible and violates official US policy that Obama seemed, at least on the first day, willing to observe.

How acts are labeled is highly political: recall the controversy over whether Obama was quick enough to label the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September as “terrorism,” and the continuing demands that the government designate the November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan, as “terrorism.”

All of these cases reinforce the widely noted observation that acts of violence, especially mass shootings, carried out typically by white males are immediately labeled as the acts of “disturbed individuals” while the acts of a person identified as “Muslim” are to be labeled “terrorism” regardless of the facts.

These are unsafe assumptions and foreclose the possibility of full understanding. Moreover, by reinforcing popular stereotypes, they give new force to the anti-Muslim backlash that seems only to be growing stronger and more poisonous as the 11 September 2001 attacks recede into the past.

It is also important to note the contrast between Obama’s eagerness to label the Boston attack as “terror” and its alleged perpetrators as “terrorists” – without evidence – and hisreluctance to label last August’s mass murder at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin as “terrorism” despite the identification of the shooter as having a history of white nationalist and supremacist activism.

Perhaps the first serious consequence of labeling Boston a “terrorist” attack was the Obama administration’s decision to deprive the suspect who was captured of his constitutional right to receive a Miranda warning on arrest, a further thinning of the already threadbare pretense of “rule of law” in post 11 September 2001 America.

Could this be another “Columbine?”

Let’s consider another possibility. Exactly 14 years ago today, 20 April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold executed a carefully-planned attack on Columbine High School in Colorado, using guns and bombs.

The two seniors murdered 12 fellow students and one teacher before shooting themselves.

Like the Boston Marathon bombing allegedly was, the Columbine attack was carried out by two persons, and it involved some of the same methods: homemade explosives.

But the Columbine attack is remembered as a “school shooting” or a “mass shooting” – perhaps the most iconic of a sad litany of such events – but not a “terrorist” attack.

In his essential 2009 book Columbine, Dave Cullen tells the story of the attack in meticulous detail, debunking many of the popular stereotypes that persist to this day that the attack was meant to avenge bullying by “jocks.”

The evidence that emerged is that Harris was a clinically sadistic sociopath who had no ability to empathize with other human beings. Klebold was a depressive whom Harris was able to manipulate. These facts lay at the heart of what happened.

It is definitely not any more desirable in the wake of such atrocities to have a media frenzy stigmatizing all people with mental illness as potential killers any more than we want them to stigmatize all Muslims as potential terrorists – in fact people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else, and are indeed more likely to be victims of violence. And contrary to popular stereotypes fed by the media it is exceptionally rare for Muslims to become “terrorists.”

What we do need is patient, serious and informed analysis: could the relationship between the Boston suspects be similar to those of the Columbine killers? What other factors are at at play? I don’t know, but I cannot rule anything out.

Just like President Obama, I do not know what drove the alleged Boston bombers. What I do know is that when the media and the government, egging each other on, rush to judgment, the possibility of alternative scenarios is ruled out and getting to the truth is harder.

If Boston was “terrorism” based on the little that is known, then we must be able to answer these questions: can only white or Christian males be sociopaths, or suffer from other mental illnesses that under certain conditions lead to violence?

Can only two white Colorado high school students act as a pair without “terrorist” motives? Can “Muslims” or ethnic Chechens, or Arabs never be subject to the same kind of conditions or analysis?

Surely the survivors and families of the Boston bombing deserve no less of an accounting of what happened than the victims of Columbine?

We cannot and should not rule out that evidence will emerge that the alleged Boston bombers had a political motive. But it hasn’t so far.

What we have seen is the usual rush to judgment that has left Muslims and many people of color once again fearing collective blame and the governmental and societal retribution that comes with it.

 

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And of course, the anti-Muslim backlash …

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So here we are, nearly 12 years after September 11 unleashed a new wave of anti-Muslim hate. 44 percent of Americans say they have an “unfavorable” view of Muslims, according to a recent poll–and that was before the Boston bombings. How little has changed.

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Boston Marathon bombings unleash a new wave of Islamophobia

by Alex Kane
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Sharia
An anti-Park 51 protester in New York City in September 2010
(Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
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It’s happening again: another collective freakout steeped in Islamophobia. The Boston Marathon bombings have unleashed the anti-Muslim sentiment that bubbles under the surface and always shines bright in times of national hysteria. The current wave of Islamophobia the country is perpetuating and experiencing–and it’s only the beginning–is the first since the Park 51 fracas in 2010.

The news that the main suspects in the bombing are Chechen Muslims will fuel the ugly hate that has intensified since September 11. But the hate was unleashed immediately after the attack, even before the public knew that Muslims were involved. How little is needed for the brash and bigoted side of this country to come out swinging against the “Muslim enemy” we have been been so trained to fear.

It’s very easy to see the most blatant manifestations of the ugly phenomenon of Islamophobia, which casts collective blame on all Muslims. The right-wing is always the place to start. But it’s also emanating from our mainstream institutions and figures, where it’s a little more difficult to identify the Islamophobia. It’s there, though. Powerful institutions and figures are focusing on Muslims and trying to justify even more animus and surveillance targeting the Muslim community in the United States.

Let’s begin with the easiest of places: the Islamophobic media. The New York Postled the charge on this front. In the immediate hours after the Boston attack, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid fingered a “Saudi national” who was injured in the blast as a suspect. It turns out he had nothing to do with the attack.

The other easy place to see anti-Muslim hate is, of course, the Islamophobic blogosphere. Pamela Geller went from freaking out about the Saudi to freaking out about two innocent people featured on the Post’s front page to freaking out about a missing university student to finally arriving at where everybody else is: freaking out about the Chechen suspects. What tied them all together was they all looked “Muslimy,” the term Wajahat Ali aptly used in Salon, and denotes how Muslims have become racialized in this country. There was also Steve Emerson, the faux terror “expert” welcomed by AIPAC with open arms, who opined about the “Saudi national” on television, as Ali Gharib documented.

And then there are the anti-Muslim hate crimes. ColorLines has chronicled some of them. They include: a white man punching a Palestinian woman who wears a hijab in Massachusetts; and Latino men beating up a Bangladeshi in the Bronx because he looked “Arab.”

But how easy anti-Muslim sentiment migrates over into the mainstream. Sure, this form of Islamophobia is not as blatant as Pam Geller’s. But it’s just as dangerous–if not more so, since more people imbibe what the mainstream tells them.

The mainstream media is busy speculating about whether Islam played a role in the decision to blow up the bombs at the Boston marathon. I heard one reporter ask the uncle of the suspects whether they were “radicalized” in a local mosque, apparently not knowing that the vast majority of mosques in the nation are nowhere near “radical.” This is the soft bigotry the mainstream is engaging in.

Another culprit that has bought into Islamophobia, and therefore legitimizing it, is law enforcement. Return back to the Saudi national story. As The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson writes, “he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in ‘a startling show of force,’ as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a ‘phalanx’ of officers and agents and two K9 units.” Davidson goes on to ask: “Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word ‘suspect’?” The question answers itself. He was Saudi. He was Arab. That’s enough for a lot of people, including law enforcement. It speaks volumes that the only injured person to have his home searched by law enforcement was the Saudi national.

Finally, let’s look at the man who runs the city that suffered the nation’s most catastrophic terrorist attack. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to reassure New York City in the aftermath of the Boston attacks. But he ended up exploiting the attacks for his own political purposes. At a press conference on Tuesday, he crassly said: “The moment that we let our guard down, the moment we get complacent, the moment we allow special interests to shape our security strategies, is the moment that the terrorists are waiting for. As a country, we may not be able to thwart every attack. We saw that yesterday. But we must do everything we possibly can to try.”

“Security strategies.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Bloomberg is referring to the New York Police Department’s tactic of spying on Muslim communities with no regard as to whether people are innocent or guilty of any crime. Don’t get complacent: stop criticizing the NYPD, the mayor says. They’re doing their job, and their job is to map Muslim communities, eavesdrop on conversations and catalog innocent people in police documents related to terrorism. And those “special interests”? That’s a clear as day reference to the Muslims who are fighting back against the spy program and to the allies who have joined them in that fight.

What Bloomberg doesn’t acknowledge is that the police department itself has admitted in court that their surveillance program has not stopped a single act of terrorism. Not one. Which begs the question: how can the “security strategies” Bloomberg is defending help prevent the next Boston? They can’t. But Bloomberg wants to justify a program that is Islamophobic at its core.

So here we are, nearly 12 years after September 11 unleashed a new wave of anti-Muslim hate. 44 percent of Americans say they have an “unfavorable” view of Muslims, according to a recent poll–and that was before the Boston bombings. How little has changed. 

 

 

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AIR FRANCE FINED FOR RACIST INTERROGATION

“We cannot tolerate this kind of conduct on our territory,” state prosecutor Abdelkrim Grini had said during the trial. “Today they ask you if you’re Jewish, tomorrow if you’re Muslim, after tomorrow if you’re homosexual or a trade unionist.”
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Paris court fines Air France for following Israeli order to interrogate passenger whether she was Jewish

 by Ali Abunimah 
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An Air France jet at Nice airport. (Source)

 (Mathieu Marquer / Flickr)

On 15 April 2012, Horia Ankour, 30, a French nursing student, boarded Air France flight 4384 from Nice to Tel Aviv. She was traveling as part of a solidarity initiative called “Welcome to Palestine.”

Just minutes before the aircraft was scheduled to take off, a cabin attendant approached Ms. Ankour, took her to a corner and asked her whether she had an Israeli passport. When Ankour answered “no,” the cabin attendant demanded to know whether she was Jewish. When she also answered negatively, Ankour was thrown off the flight.

Ankour was given a written statement from Air France documenting the incident and confirming that the questions were asked at the direct behest of Israeli authorities.

“Today they ask you if you’re Jewish, tomorrow if you’re Muslim…”

Today a court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny found Air France guilty of illegal discrimination against Ankour and fined the airline 10,000 euros ($13,000) in damages and another 3,000 euros ($3,900) in costs.

“The court declares Air France guilty of the crime of discrimination,” Judge Nabila Mani-Saada said in her ruling.

“We cannot tolerate this kind of conduct on our territory,” state prosecutor Abdelkrim Grini had said during the trial. “Today they ask you if you’re Jewish, tomorrow if you’re Muslim, after tomorrow if you’re homosexual or a trade unionist.”

Fabrice Pradon, the lawyer for Air France, had told the court that the demand to ask Ankour the questions about her religion had come “directly from Israeli authorities.”

Several other airlines were complicit in Israel’s effort to stop the Welcome to Palestine initiative by barring passengers on Israeli orders.

Israeli “airline security” a front for Shin Bet secret police

The incident is reminiscent of a row that broke out between Israel and South Africa in 2009 after Jonathan Garb, a former security official with the Israeli airline El Al told the South African investigative television program Carte Blanche that the airline’s security had been a front for Israel’s Shin Bet secret police for years and that it used explicitly racist tactics against black and Muslim travelers at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

“What we are trained is to look for the immediate threat – the Muslim guy,” Garb claimed. “The crazy thing is that we are profiling people racially, ethnically and even on religious grounds … This is what we do.”

After Carte Blanche sent in an undercover reporter whose experience confirmed the differential and unconstitutional treatment of Muslims, South Africa protested to Israel and deported an El Al security official.

While it is unclear whether French authorities will take similar steps to prevent Israel from exporting its racism onto French territory, it appears that it is still possible for citizens like Horia Ankour to receive vindication in French courts.

 

 

Source

STOP SPYING ON MUSLIMS

In this Jewish season of renewal and rebirth, in which we celebrate the universal value of equality of human rights, the New York Jewish community supports the local American Muslim community effected directly by this surveillance program. Every one of us should stand in solidarity when it comes to protecting the civil liberties — regardless of faith, ethnicity or race.
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Stop Spying on Muslims

Why the NYPD Needs Oversight

GETTY IMAGES


By Rachel Kahn-Troster and Marjorie Dove Kent

What would it look like to have your movements and your friendships tracked simply because of your religion or where you prayed? Syed Farhaj Hassan knows. He stopped attending his mosque in New Jersey after discovering that the New York City Police Department had it under surveillance. Hassan, a specialist in the Army Reserve, told The Associated Press that he worried about his name, or the name of one of his mosques, turning up in a police intelligence dossier and jeopardizing his military security clearance or job prospects. He is one of eight American Muslims who filed a federal lawsuit in early June against the NYPD to force the department to change its surveillance tactics, which are aimed at singling out our Muslim neighbors and colleagues.

As Jews, we are just emerging from the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days, when our lives metaphorically become an open book before God and our year of deeds good and bad are examined and explained. But this examination is between God and us, not God and the state. Imagine if we worried that by going to synagogue for Yom Kippur, we would end up in the NYPD’s ledger of right and wrong. Under this aura of suspicion, the significance of the holy days would be replaced by mistrust and fear.

This is what the New York Muslim community must face. As Jews and as New Yorkers, we’ve been angered over the past year to read about targeted surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD. Numerous reports have shown that the NYPD has spied on Muslim student organizations, taken down the license plate numbers of people attending services at mosques and showed the inflammatory film “The Third Jihad” to hundreds of police trainees — targeting the Muslim community as a whole rather than acting on specific intelligence about individuals.

One NYPD practice that hit particularly close to home was the surveillance on college campuses, including infiltrating a student whitewater-rafting trip. For those of us who thrived in Hillels during our student years, it is unthinkable that those communities would cease to be safe spaces.

Jews have a historic vulnerability to abuses of power, and we feel especially responsible to ensure civil liberty protections for all New Yorkers. We know that the Jewish communities of New York City, like all communities, want to be assured that we are being kept safe against those who would do us harm. Keeping us safe, however, means that law enforcement should target suspects based on actionable evidence, not on those suspects’ religion, place of birth, race or ethnicity.

Two New York City Council members have introduced a bill that will create an Inspector General for the NYPD, which would have independent, broad authority to conduct investigations of the police department. Law enforcement officers would be required to report problems to the Inspector General and would also be protected from retaliation.

Inspectors General are a standard feature of government agencies — including the CIA, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice — and most New York City agencies. While there are agencies that investigate individual cases, no mechanism exists to provide for independent investigations of NYPD policies and procedures to ensure that they are operating effectively and consistently with the law.

We encourage the City Council to adopt the Inspector General bill and its four companion bills, which would create additional safeguards against inappropriate NYPD surveillance and stop-and-frisk abuses. This includes prohibiting profiling by the NYPD, protecting New Yorkers against unlawful searches, and requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public.

In this Jewish season of renewal and rebirth, in which we celebrate the universal value of equality of human rights, the New York Jewish community supports the local American Muslim community effected directly by this surveillance program. Every one of us should stand in solidarity when it comes to protecting the civil liberties — regardless of faith, ethnicity or race.

Marjorie Dove Kent is the executive director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is the director of North American programs for Rabbis for Human Rights — North America.


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FBI ‘OUTREACH PROGRAMMES’ TARGETING ISLAM

Recently publicized documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suggest that the FBI targeted American Muslims for intelligence gathering under the guise of community or mosque outreach programs from at least 2004 through 2010. Many of the community organizations, mosques, and college campuses identified in the FBI documents are located throughout Northern California, but it is unclear whether similar activities are occurring in other FBI divisions.
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(Photo: Politico)
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22 congressional reps seek investigation into FBI ‘outreach’ that collected data on Muslims

by Alex Kane

Efforts to remedy law enforcement abuses against Muslim-Americans have made headlines in recent days. A federal lawsuit filed early this week in New Jersey seeks to put an end to the New York Police Department’s surveillance program targeting Muslims in the Northeast.

And yesterday, 22 members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging an investigation into the FBI “outreach” program in California that turned into a potentially illegal operation in which FBI agents collected and stored data on innocent Muslims. That data was also marked as being available for distribution to other government agencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got the ball rolling on the FBI abuses. The organization released documents in March that exposed the FBI’s practices, which the ACLU says could violate the Privacy Act of 1974.

“I’m very concerned that Muslim Americans in Northern California and elsewhere may have been targeted by the FBI because of their religious practices — possibly in violation of their First Amendment and privacy rights,” Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) said in a press statement.

The Congressional letter, signed by a number of progressive Democrats and Ron Paul (R-TX), echoes the ACLU’s concerns. An excerpt from the letter to the Justice Department’s Inspector General:

We write to express our concern with recently released documentary evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) improperly targeted communities based on their religion, race and national origin of community members. Specifically, the evidence shows that the FBI recorded and disseminated information about community members’ First Amendment-protected activities, including religious practices. We request that you initiate an investigation into these allegations, including into possible Privacy Act violations within the FBI’s San Francisco and Sacramento divisions.

Recently publicized documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suggest that the FBI targeted American Muslims for intelligence gathering under the guise of community or mosque outreach programs from at least 2004 through 2010. Many of the community organizations, mosques, and college campuses identified in the FBI documents are located throughout Northern California, but it is unclear whether similar activities are occurring in other FBI divisions.

This letter follows up on a letter sent to the Inspector General by the ACLU in April. The ACLU likewise called for an investigation into the FBI practices.

For more information on the FBI’s “outreach” program to Muslims, read this Alex Kane post

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RACIAL PROFILING ADDED TO ISRAELI DOG TRAINING MANUAL

Soldiers from an elite IDF canine unit have been confiscating Palestinian vehicles in order to train their explosive-detecting dogs, an activist monitoring the conduct of soldiers in checkpoints told Haaretz.
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Israeli soldiers use Palestinians to train army dogs, activist says

Report claims IDF troops order West Bank residents to exit cars and wait, as dogs seek training explosive devices; army spokesman: Soldiers conduct searches to increase Israelis’ safety.

 Amira Hass

Oketz training - Breakin the Silence
Oketz soldiers inspecting a Palestinian cab in a West Bank checkpoint. Photo by Tamar Fleischman

Soldiers from an elite IDF canine unit have been confiscating Palestinian vehicles in order to train their explosive-detecting dogs, an activist monitoring the conduct of soldiers in checkpoints told Haaretz.

The unit in question is Oketz, directly subordinate to IDF command, and which, among other duties, trains dogs to locate weapons and explosives. Its training base is located in the Adam base west of Ramallah.

According to Tamar Fleischman, Oketz soldiers have been randomly stopping Palestinian vehicles in the last few weeks as they pass through the Jaba checkpoint, near the city of Ramallah.

The soldiers then reportedly order the passengers to exit and display their identification cards, with one soldier positioned with his weapon aimed at the Palestinians.

At that point, Fleischman said, a dog handler places an object inside the vehicle, which the dog is then sent to find, an receiving a treat upon its retrieval. The passengers then receive their IDs, and are allowed to return to the vehicle. The entire process usually takes around ten minutes.

Earlier this week, Fleischman reported that in one such session the dog was unable to locate the hidden object, prompting a soldier to crawl through the vehicle until it was found, with the passengers looking on as another soldier pointed his rifle at them.

According to Breaking the Silence, an NGO, which collects the testimonies of IDF soldiers serving in the occupied territories, the training of Oketz personnel and dogs using Palestinian vehicles has been performed in the past as well.

One testimony, given by a female dog handler, relates to the period from 2007 to 2009. She said that the soldiers were present at the checkpoints “only to train the dogs.”

“We hide something in the case…like a [rifle] magazine. In the unit we use something called a snapir [fin], a stainless steel canister holding explosives held in a net, that keeps material, but allows scent to filter out,” she said, adding that the container holds the blast in case it’s dropped, “so no one can get hurt.”

The past dog handler said that Oketz soldiers take the vessel with them “to the checkpoints, and hide it in Palestinian vehicles and then the dog looks for it…. The justification for the action is ‘deterrent,’ the passengers don’t know we’re really not inspecting the vehicle.”

“This happens all year, even if it’s raining outside,” she said.

According to testimonials, the training isn’t time-bound, with sessions sometimes lasting for an hour, sometime three.

In one instance, three of four dogs were loaded onto a pickup truck, and driven to a checkpoint near the Adam base. At the Na’alin checkpoint, used by both Israelis and Palestinians, soldiers would stop “every Arab passing by, even if his wife was giving birth.”

“Countless settlers pass through there, but you would never inspect those vehicles, she said, adding that the dog handlers made sure to ask the passengers to remove Korans and prayer rugs from the vehicles, as they they  would not be defiled by the dogs.

Speaking to Haaretz, Fleischman said that dog handlers have attempted to prevent her and other activists from filming the process from the other side of the checkpoint. In one instance, they did film, but the soldiers yelled out that they were being put at risk, adding that they had security clearance. They then stopped the training, and put the dog into a special cage, releasing him and resuming the session once Fleischman and the other activists walked away.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response that “following the appeal, the issue will be thoroughly examined. As a rule, the IDF conducts inspections in West Bank checkpoints as part of its routine activity, in an attempt to ensure the safety of Israel’s citizens.”

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THE ‘LUCK’ OF A PALESTINIAN IN ISRAEL

I’m a “lucky” Palestinian: instead of being jailed, I’m subjected to racial profiling

Yara Hawari 

The new security routine at Ben Gurion airport attempts — but fails — to disguise racial profiling.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

As a Palestinian citizen of present-day Israel, I have an Israeli passport and am allowed to fly in and out of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. That is as far as Israeli courtesy has been extended to me. Each time I use this airport, I am subjected to racial profiling.

When I was younger and lived in Jerusalem, we would often fly to the UK to visit my mother’s family. I still vividly remember the ordeal that we would go through at the airport.

“Wrong” queue

We would always have to leave for the airport ridiculously early to be sure that the extensive security checks wouldn’t make us miss our flight. When we arrived at the check-in area, there would be two queues for each flight. A queue for Israeli nationals and a queue for foreigners.

Naturally we would stand in the Israeli national queue because despite our staunch Palestinian identity we wanted to be treated as equal citizens of the country. Airport security workers would make their way through the Israeli queue, checking passports and briefly questioning people about their luggage. When they reached us my father would address them in Hebrew (he has mastered the Israeli accent, after studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem).

But it wouldn’t take them long to register that he was, as they like to call us, an Israeli Arab. His name and place of registration (the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee) were obvious indicators, as was the fact that my mother, brother and I did not speak Hebrew. We would then be asked to move to the foreigners’ queue.

I remember several occasions when my father made loud protests at this request and the people in the foreigners’ queue would back him up. The accusations of racism and apartheid were always ignored and so we would reluctantly have to stand in the foreigners’ queue.

Designed to humiliate

If this wasn’t unfair enough we would then be subjected to an intense “security check.” Our belongings would be taken out of our suitcases, displayed so the whole airport could see, and scrutinized. We would be asked questions that had nothing to done with flight security but rather were designed to humiliate and frustrate us.

Our fellow Israeli passengers who witnessed our public security check would look on with a hostility that would continue on the actual flight. As children, my brother and I didn’t understand the gravity of our treatment; in fact, we considered it normal. The awareness of this racial profiling grew over the years, especially after using other airports where we were not subjected to anything like this.

In more recent years, the Israeli authorities decided that the airport needed a massive facelift to accommodate an increased number of passengers. So in 2004 a new state-of-the-art terminal was opened. This terminal included a new security routine that attempted to disguise the racial profiling that is imbedded in Israeli society.

Now Palestinian citizens of Israel are allowed to stand in the Israeli queue. They have a new system of security checks that lead to one being classified with numbers ranging from one to six, six being considered the highest security threat.

When you are standing in a queue someone from the airport security team will check your passport and ask you a few basic security questions such as: Did you pack your bag yourself? Do you have anything sharp in your hand luggage?

Then you will proceed to the x-ray machine for your bags. After this, you are either directed to the “security lab” — as I like to call it — or the check-in desks. Very few people make it straight to the check-in desks.

This “security lab” consists of about nine stations which have surfaces for the suitcases and computer screens with the x-ray images of your luggage. The lab also has a variety of machines to detect residues of explosive substances, among other things. This is the standard procedure for all passengers flying out of Ben Gurion.

Questions reserved for Arabs

Let me now explain my experience as a Palestinian with an Israeli passport. In the queue, waiting for my bags to be x-rayed, I am approached by a member of Israeli airport security. The member of staff begins speaking to me in Hebrew and I explain that I don’t speak Hebrew, much to his or her confusion. The staff member then opens my passport, noticing my name.

Then I get the “special” questions reserved only for Arabs:

“What were you doing here?” Visiting family.

“Where do your family live?” Tarshiha.

“What are their names?” What, all of their names? I have a very big family.

“Some of their names.” Haneen, Abed, Fadi, Majd, Mayse …

“That’s fine. Where do you live?” Oxford, England.

“But you used to live here?” Yes. “OK, wait here.”

The staff member then goes to speak to the head of security who tends to be milling around. Some pointing at me ensues, along with a nod of the head. They come back and put stickers on my bags. They discreetly give me a level six, reserved only for those who are considered a potential security check. I get my bags x-rayed and proceed to the lab where I am assigned two members of the security team (everyone else gets only one). They then proceed to go through everything in my suitcase, dirty clothes included. Every now and then, they ask me what this or that is, where I got it from, showing items to colleagues.

To most tourists, my special treatment goes unnoticed as they are subjected to a very watered-down version of this procedure.

After an hour or so, I am then asked to follow one of them to the “special room” for a body check. To my knowledge, most Arabs and Palestinians go into this room, and occasionally the odd foreigner as well. Despite Israeli insistence that this process is random, it is not. I have been going to the “special room” every time since I turned 15.

This “special room” consists of cubicles where you are patted down and prodded to make sure you aren’t hiding anything. Recently, they have begun checking in between my toes and combing through my hair. The whole process is degrading and frustrating, especially when you know that most other passengers are not subjected to this.

What’s worse is that during this procedure they continue to ask me questions but in a more off-the-record fashion. I am always asked why I don’t speak Hebrew and why I have an Israeli passport. As it isn’t enough that I have to sit in a dingy cubicle, essentially being felt up, I am subjected to ignorant questions about my identity.

Nothing to do with security

As with many security measures in Israel, the airport procedures are aimed at making life difficult for Palestinians and have little to do with security. On various occasions, I have notice lapses in their security which have confirmed my accusations of harassment for the sake of harassment.

Once I was listening to my iPod as they rummaged through my stuff. When they finished, I closed all my bags, popping my iPod inside one of them and proceeded to the “special room” for my body search. The same happened with a book I was reading once.

Both times I could have easily hidden an item considered as a security threat. I also noticed that many Israeli Jews can bypass the security lab. Are Israeli Jews incapable of any kind of threat?

Remaining sane through resistance

Throughout this treatment I am able to retain a bit of sanity by committing my own acts of resistance. For example when they are going through my luggage I like to read an appropriate book in front of them. Something on the Nakba (the systematic ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s foundation) or Palestinian identity usually does the trick.

Often when they open my suitcase, they’ll find a traditional checkered scarf — or kuffiyeh— and an “I love Palestine” t-shirt spread out on the top. Also, when they ask me for the names of family members, I have taken to reciting various different groups of people. Once it was the Rightly Guided Caliphs, last time it was Lebanese pop singers (Nancy, Elissa etc.). I think next time I’ll go for The Spice Girls.

Despite these attempts to lighten the airport experience, it is still completely humiliating and upsetting. However, it is simply another thing the Palestinians endure on a day-to-day basis. The very fact that I get to fly out of Tel Aviv makes me one of the lucky ones.

As I write, thousands of Palestinians are stuck in Israeli prisons without hope of being released — and even more are stuck in the great outdoor prisons of the West Bank and Gaza. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones. But how awful that I am considered as such when I have to go through such a public ordeal of racial profiling.

Yara Hawari is a masters student in Palestine Studies at Exeter University (England) and will be commencing her PhD later this year. Her research focuses on Nakba memory and oral history inside historic Palestine. Yara is a Palestinian from the Galilee, and although she left Palestine ten years ago, she frequently visits family and conducts research back home.

Source

RACIAL PROFILING REACHES NEW HEIGHTS IN NYC

 With the new ‘Stop and Frisk’ policies…
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This policy is used by the NYC police mainly in Black and Latino communities regardless of a probable cause… Below is the latest protest against it
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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ANTI ISLAMIC RACIAL PROFILING BY NYPD EXPANDS TO ENTIRE NORTHEAST

 Photo © by Bud Korotzer
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It started by using this video as part of the police training programme….
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This is the video NYPD Chief Raymond Kelly routinely used as part of his department’s anti-terrorism training
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It continues now throughout the entire Northeast…
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NYPD monitored Muslim students all over Northeast

New York Police Department monitors Muslim college students at schools, student websites including Ivy League colleges of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania

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Though the NYPD says it follows the same rules as the FBI, some of the NYPD’s activities go beyond what the FBI is allowed to do.

Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly have said that the police only follow legitimate leads about suspected criminal activity.

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Read the Associated Press Report HERE

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Also see THIS post from the archives

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