Some of you might remember the old school desks with an inkwell in the upper right corner ….
Today, in some cases, documents or speeches are written using a different kind of well. This usually results in a complete falsehood of the intended subject. This was obviously the case when Netenyahu rewrote historical events regarding the holocaust ….
The first thing we can conclude is that Netanyahu is no historian. Himself the son of a crackpot historian, Bibi has adopted a fringe and discredited theory with no historical basis and made it the cornerstone of his understanding of the most traumatic and decisive event in Jewish history. read more:
The second takeaway from Tuesday night’s speech is that Netanyahu has lost it. He’s raving. His hatred of the Palestinians and his frustration at their refusal to succumb to his brutality has become an obsession in which even Hitler, the archetype of evil and Jew-hatred, has to play second fiddle to Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian predecessors.
Hitler’s plan to exterminate European Jewry dated back to years before his meeting with Husseini, noting references to it in “Mein Kampf,” which was published in 1925, as well as the 1933 Nazi party charter and remarks in the Reichstag in 1939, when Hitler threatened to “exterminate the Jewish people.”
Yad Vashem’s Chief Historian on Hitler and the Mufti: Netanyahu Had It All Wrong
There is no evidence that Haj Amin al-Husseini proposed the ‘final solution’ to Hitler, according to Yad Vashem chief historian Dina Porat
Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian of Yad Vashem, called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Hitler did not seek to exterminate the Jews until his meeting with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini “completely erroneous, on all counts.”
Porat, a senior historian at Tel Aviv University who specializes in Holocaust studies, told Haaretz on Wednesday: “Hitler did not need anyone to encourage the final solution. In terms of the facts, there’s no debate … all these actions, Hitler’s obsessions, have no link to the mufti.”
In his speech to the 37th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Netanyahu ostensibly quoted from the conversation between Hitler and the mufti at their meeting in Berlin in November 1941: “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’”
According to Netanyahu, Hitler asked Husseini, “So what should I do with them?,” to which the mufti replied, “Burn them.”
When asked whether Netanyahu fabricated the dialogue that he quoted, Porat said that Netanyahu is very knowledgeable about Jewish history. “He grew up in a home full of Jewish history. But what he said is not in the minutes of the meeting. That should be clear.”
The meeting between Hitler and Husseini was documented only with general statements and topic headings, and was not transcribed word for word. There is no record of Hitler asking Husseini what to do with Europe’s Jews.
“The mufti did not speak to Hitler in terms of ‘you should do this,’ or ‘what do you think of a final solution?’ Nor is it recorded that the mufti told Hitler to ‘burn them.’ Hitler never asked anyone what to do with the Jews,” Porat said. She did say, however, that Hitler told the mufti that he would “’continue his plans,’ meaning that he had already begun, and certainly not because the mufti asked him to.”
According to Porat, “all of the facts show that during Hitler and the mufti’s meeting, the ‘final solution’ was already under way.”
Porat explained that Hitler’s plan to exterminate European Jewry dated back to years before his meeting with Husseini, noting references to it in “Mein Kampf,” which was published in 1925, as well as the 1933 Nazi party charter and remarks in the Reichstag in 1939, when Hitler threatened to “exterminate the Jewish people.”
“And there’s no debating later on, with the invasion of Poland, the orders from Berlin to build ghettos, which were documented as a stage of the ‘final solution,’” Porat said.
Later, mass killings of Jews began with the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. “The order to kill wasn’t signed by Hitler, but the first death camp, Chelmno, began operating in December 1941, a few weeks after the meeting with the mufti — and it’s something that had been worked on long before,” added Porat.
Husseini asked Hitler to advance the final solution in the Middle East, but he certainly didn’t come up with the plan himself, Porat said. “Had Netanyahu added the words ‘in the Middle East’ to his speech, he wouldn’t be in this mess. But he didn’t add them,” Porat said: “That’s what the mufti wanted, and that’s why he went to Berlin.”
Our resident PsychoGal comes to the rescue of our Psycho PM in the following …
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has re-affirmed her country’s responsibility for the Holocaust, following controversial comments by Israel’s prime minister.
Benjamin Netanyahu was criticised for saying Adolf Hitler had only wanted to expel Jews from Europe but that a Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, told him to “burn them.”
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mr Netanyahu, Mrs Merkel said she was “very clear in [her] mind” that German soldiers were responsible.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s obvious hatred of the Palestinian people has finally come to a head via his remarks this week ….
An apology to the people of Palestine, as well as to the six million Jewish victims of the holocaust, their descendants and the survivors themselves is definitely in order.
This to be followed by by his resignation from the office of Prime Minister as he has definitely proven to be mentally unstable and not in a position to continue.
Nothing short of that would be acceptable.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday there was “much evidence” to back up his accusations against Husseini, including testimony by a deputy of Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Holocaust, at the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War Two. (FROM) And that is a reliable source of historic events?
And they searched his chest But could only find his heart And they searched his heart And could only find his people (Palestinian Poet Mahmud Darwish)
Black September Reflections
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
My political awareness started out in September 1970 when I was 13 years old. That is the first time I saw my late father cry. My parents had tried t isolate us from the miseries of the world but in this case he could not help it as he watched how politics results in innocent people massacred. The quarrel between the PLO and the Jordanian monarchy had peaked into a war. Jordanian troops with tanks entered refugee camps killing perhaps thousands (no one knows the number) of Palestinian refugees as they uprooted the PLO armed factions from Jordan. My father still would not talk much politics so I turned to my mother who gave me a brief history lesson much of it personal. For example she told me about her school friend Hayah Balbisi who was murdered with her students in Deir Yassin. The images on TV of flattened shaggy shantytowns over dead bodies still haunts me. I began to educate myself of things they do not teach us in school about our own history: that British invasion of Palestine September 1918 was a direct result of Zionist lobbies that gave the Balfour and the Jules Cambon declarations 1917 and learned of the British imposition of apartheid through the first Zionist ruler here Herbert Samuels.
In September 1982, it was my turn to cry uncontrollably as I saw images of the massacres at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila (Israeli paid proxy militias). By September 2001, I had been living and working at Yale University for 1.5 years and I had been in the US for 22 years. In those 1.5 years in Connecticut, we had held over 20 events for Palestine and I had published dozens of letters and opinion articles on Palestine. We were happy we succeeded in pressuring Yasser Arafat not to sign onto the humiliating agreement offered him at Camp David that abrogated the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands (I cofounded a group that managed to collect over 800,000 signatures for refugee rights between 1997 to 1999). We were planning moe actions and more events especially in protest of the ongoing massacres committed by the war criminal Ariel Sharon in the occupied Palestinian territories. That was what some people had called the second Intifada 2000-2005 (my book on Popular resistance actually shows it is number 14 or 15). We planned events, held rallies, organized protest and also cared for the injured. We had already brought a girl who was 8 years old who lost her eye to an Israeli rubber-coated steel bullet and gave her a prosthetic eye (Hiam was one of hundreds of children to lose eyes and limbs in 2000-2003). Another girl Marwa Alsharif was coincidentally with us in September 2001. Marwa Al-Sharif had a bullet in her head which was just removed by neurosurgeon in Hartford and she was recovering (I acted as translater for her and her mother). On 10 September 2001 I was dealing with Zionist back lash and media distortions about the Israeli targeting of these children. On September 4, 2001, the Zionist group CAMERA posted to their members one of our media alerts and added “As you will see, pro-Palestinian activists are very focused and energetic and are using sophisticated and diverse methods to press their case. We can do no less!” An article by Rhonda L Maacarty and me appeared in Q magazine about the growing role of international solidarity in the struggle for freedom in Palestine. The struggle was plodding along but then it came to the USA in a big way on 11 September 2001. My first message after I recovered from the shock of the news was this sent at 11:30 AM on Tuesday 11 September 2001:
Talking points on the catastrophe
Many have already been contacted by the media for commentary on the attacks in NYC and Washington. Here are possible talking points:
1) This is an awful catastrophe.
2) Our first thoughts must be with the victims.
3) We condemn acts of terror in the strongest possible ways.
4) It is important not to jump to conclusions about who or how this was caused and to wait for the situation to be clear.
No need to say anything else.
I checked on my friends in New York (an area only 40 minutes from our home in Orange, CT) and we held vigils for the victims at Yale (hundreds of victims were also Arab and/or Muslim Americans). I was interviewed at least 10 times in the next few hours. That night was sleepless night as we addressed emails and made phone calls etc. Marwa Al-Sharif and her mother were at the Friday prayers called for by all the mosques in the US after this catastrophic event to pray for the victims and pray for peace.
Marwa and her mother at the mosque after 11 Sept 2001
Brothers Michael and Robert Meeropol penned an op-ed in the New York Times Monday asking President Barack Obama to acknowledge that their mother, Ethel Rosenberg, was wrongly convicted and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage in 1953.
Honor thy father and mother, says the Torah. In the case of the sons of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, that means requesting a presidential pardon.
Brothers Michael and Robert Meeropol penned an op-ed in the New York Times Monday asking President Barack Obama to acknowledge that their mother, Ethel Rosenberg, was wrongly convicted and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage in 1953.
Ethel Rosenberg and her husband, Julius Rosenberg, were at the center of one of the most controversial spy cases of the 20th century and were victims, many say, of the zealous overreach of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade.
While the brothers did not dispute their father’s culpability in their op-ed (“Scholars mostly agree,” they wrote, “that Julius was a spy”), they made a case that their mother, though likely aware of Julius’ activities, was not an active conspirator.
The Rosenbergs were arrested in the summer of 1950 on charges of passing along atomic-bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. The case against Ethel Rosenberg was weak from the start: Historians believe she was largely a prosecutorial pawn used to put pressure on her husband. Damning testimony during the 1951 trial, however, came from David Greenglass, her brother.
Greenglass was an army machinist and committed communist, who claimed his sister had been present at meetings in which he shared nuclear intelligence with Julius Rosenberg and that she typed up the notes.
Later in life, when tracked down by a journalist, he admitted to lying on the witness stand to protect his wife, Ruth Greenglass, whom many suspect was actually the typist. David Greenglass, who served 10 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy, died last October at age 92.
In their Times op-ed, the Meeropol brothers cited the release of Greenglass’ grand jury testimony last month, six decades after it was given, in which he did not mention his sister’s involvement.
They also pointed to KGB records of communication with the Rosenbergs and noted that while Julius had a code name, “Liberal,” Ethel did not. They argued this means she was not considered a spy by the Russians and are now asking the U.S. government to reach the same conclusion.
“Our mother was not a spy,” they wrote in the Times. “The government held her life hostage to coerce our father to talk, and when that failed, it extracted false statements to secure her wrongful execution.”
The Rosenbergs’ sons were 10 and 6 years old respectively when orphaned. They were later adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol and have made it a lifelong mission to shed light on their parents’ case.
Michael Meeropol, now a professor of economics, edited “The Rosenberg Letters,” a compilation of the prison correspondence between his parents. Robert Meeropol founded the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which supports children of “targeted activists” and wrote “An Execution in the Family,” a memoir of his experience. They co-authored “We Are Your Sons,” about their turbulent childhood and political awakening, all of which has led to yesterday’s formal appeal.
“It is never too late to correct an egregious injustice,” they wrote. “We call on the government to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg.”
Che Guevara’s visit to Gaza in 1959 was the first sign of transforming the Zionist colonization of Palestine from a regional conflict to a global struggle against colonialism.
The trigger was the Bandung conference in 1955 and the resulting Non-Aligned Movement, whose members has just recently shaken the yoke of foreign domination. The stature of Nasser, as a world leader in the struggle against Imperialism and colonialism, brought world leaders to see for themselves the devastating results of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, clearly demonstrated in Gaza refugee camps.
Gaza Strip became the symbol of Palestine. This tiny sliver of land (1.3% of Palestine) remained the only place raising the flag of Palestine. It carried a major part of al Nakba burden when it became the temporary shelter for the inhabitant of 247 villages, expelled from their homes in southern Palestine.
Sketches of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg presented to their sons by the artist Pablo Picasso
Looking back at the day ..
By Steve Amsel
It was a Friday evening, 62 years ago today, that I sat in my bedroom waiting for the lights to dim. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were about to be electrocuted in Sing Sing Prison and I imagined the powerful surge of power causing a brown out in our own home. When that didn’t happen, I thought to myself that perhaps there was a stay of execution …. but I was wrong. Despite the protests, despite the appeals from world leaders, the couple was put to death just one minute before the Sabbath entered, as not to violate the sanctity of the day. It was a reminder of Christ’s execution, also rushed as not to violate the Sabbath.
Many of us were told that they were innocent of the charges of espionage. We were told that they were the ‘first victims of American fascism’. We were told decades later that this might not have been the case.
They left behind two young sons, Michael and Robert. Michael was a year older than me and Robert was three years younger. I could not imagine what these two were going through and could not comprehend how the government rendered them orphans with the flick of a switch.
A small part of me died with the flick of that switch, but worse yet, a big part of America’s integrity died as well.
The last four days of Ethel and Julius …
Published on June 15, 2015
First of four videos depicting the last four days of the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, as told through the letters they wrote to their two young sons on those dates. Featuring Angela Davis, Cotter Smith (as Julius), Eve Ensler (as Ethel), and Rosenberg sons Michael and Robert Meeropol.
Second of four videos depicting the last four days of the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, as told through the letters they wrote to their two young sons on those dates. Featuring Angela Davis, Cotter Smith (as Julius), Eve Ensler (as Ethel), and Rosenberg sons Michael and Robert Meeropol.
Third of four videos depicting the last four days of the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, as told through the letters they wrote to their two young sons on those dates. Featuring Angela Davis, Cotter Smith (as Julius), Eve Ensler (as Ethel), and Rosenberg sons Michael and Robert Meeropol.
Last of four videos depicting the last four days of the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, as told through the letters they wrote to their two young sons on those dates. Featuring Angela Davis, Cotter Smith (as Julius), Eve Ensler (as Ethel), and Rosenberg sons Michael and Robert Meeropol.
The Rosenberg Fund for Children was started by Robert Meeropol, who was orphaned at age six when his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed at the height of the McCarthy Era.
In 1990 Robert figured out how he could repay the progressive community that helped him survive. He founded the RFC to help children of targeted activists in the U.S. today- children who are experiencing the same nightmare he and his brother endured as youngsters. In September 2013, Robert’s daughter, Jennifer Meeropol, took over for him as the RFC’s executive director.
Since its start, the RFC has awarded more than $5.6 million to benefit close to a thousand children in the U.S. whose parents have been targeted because of their involvement in progressive movements including the struggles to preserve civil liberties, wage peace, safeguard the environment, combat racism and homophobia, and organize on behalf of workers, prisoners, immigrants and others whose human rights are under threat.
To assist them in their work, contributions can be made by clicking HERE
Photos from a Memorial Meeting held last night in New York
What do Israelis really know about the Nakba? What do they think about the right of return of the Palestinian refugees? De-Colonizer went out to meet and asked them…
Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD adds the following ….
On the eve of the 67th year anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophic
ethnic cleansing of Palestine), Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed a
“coalition government” a group of ministers who are honest about their
racist and genocidal tendencies (see article by Gideon Levy below). It
includes a “Justice” who called for murdering Palestinian mothers so that
they do not bring out more “snakes”. It includes the head of “civil
administration” who openly supports ethnic cleansing and genocide. A
government more right wing in its composition than Germany was in 1933-1939
or South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s but an honest one indeed without
double talk or hypocrisy. What is disappointing is not the make-up of the
government but the hypocritical response to it. Words from the “Palestinian
Authority” wining about the new government were accompanied by continuing
security coordination with Israel and the PA arrest of dozens of
Palestinians simply for having different political affiliation (e.g.
students who against all odds were voted to student councils at Palestinian
Universities). Geopolitically, there are now two choices: US/Israel that
attempt to dominate the Arab World and Western Asia through a class of
puppet dictators (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Egypt) and the axis of Russia,
China, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon (led by Hizbollah) and large segments of
Iraqi society. It would be nice to have a third axis (like the non-aligned
movement led by Egypt and India in the 1960s) but it does not currently
Yasser Arafat managed to steer the PLO leadership to semi-neutrality or at
least flexibility in building alliances as need arose. But even acting as a
good honest broker to solve some regional disputes many times by asking
people to put the interests of their people ahead of their superpower
sponsors (then it was Soviet Union and the USA/NATO). In the time of Abu
Mazen, we see more a definitive side-taking (e.g. with Saudi Arabia against
Yemen) in a fashion that actually weakened the Palestinian cause
dramatically. The black and white attitude was applied in a way that is
like George Bush “you are either with us (USA right wing government) or
with the terrorists. In this case you are either with us (Fatah) or with
the terrorist Hamas. There seems no room left for nuances or indeed for
diplomacy. From the agreement with Hamas, there is only the part about
holding elections for the PA that Abbas wants to implement. Other parts of
the agreement (holding elections for the PLO, economic issues etc) were
supposed to happen synchronously but they are now off the table. Meanwhile
Gaza was devastated and is still under siege (civil society is responding
and a flotilla of ships is moving to break the siege). Last time this
happened, there were martyrs and some high level PA officials ridiculed the
Free Gaza movement. Instead, it would have been nice to see PA officials
join Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah on the boats. Alas wishful thinking for
The old definition of madness still apply: repeating the same (failed)
tasks and expecting different results. And we live in a mad, very mad
world. US/Israel still fund terrorists, support dictators, and support
ethnic cleansing. Those who bet on them to help them achieve “independence”
still do not understand and still hope somehow magically, things will
change. They would be wise to listen to Russian President Putin. He was
speaking at the 70th anniversary of the win over Nazi Germany (26 million
Russian lives were lost) and was flanked by other world leaders including
China (though noticeably absent where key NATO leaders). He said, the
attempt at creating a unipolar world is failing and that we should look
towards a new system. Iran, China, most of Latin America and other
countries which long suffered from Western Colonialism agreed. President
Abbas was there but had no comment. I was reminded of Naji Al-Ali 1964. I
was reminded of Orwell 1984. I was reminded of the book Majanin Beit Lahmem
(the crazy people of Bethlehem) published 2014.
Life goes on in occupied Palestine. A Palestinian community (Susya) is
about to be uprooted. Colonial settlers and soldiers still attack native
Palestinians with impunity. Corruption and heroism happen, poverty and
greed happen, cooperation and collaboration happen, resistance and
normalization happen. Poor people struggle and rich get richer. It is hard
to cope sometimes but we keep going against all odds.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall….*
Stop whining. Long live Israel’s new and honest government
Israel’s new government won’t spout hollow slogans about peace, human rights, and justice. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis – and the world.
The 34th government will deserve Israel; Israel will deserve the 34th government. This is an authentic and representative government, the true manifestation of the spirit of the times and the deepest feelings of most Israelis. It will be a true government, without pretense, without makeup and without self-justification. What we’ll see is what we’ll get. Welcome to the fourth Benjamin Netanyahu government.
They won’t talk haughtily and they won’t spout hollow slogans. Not about peace and not about human rights; not about two states and not about negotiations; not about international law, justice or equality. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis and the world. And the truth is this: The two-state solution is dead (it was never born), the Palestinian state will not arise, international law does not apply to Israel, the occupation will continue to crawl quickly toward annexation, annexation will continue to crawl quickly toward an apartheid state; “Jewish” supersedes “democratic,” nationalism and racism will get the government stamp of approval, but they’re already here and have been for a long time.
Neither Netanyahu, nor Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman MK Naftali Bennett nor that party’s faction members MK Ayelet Shaked and MK Eli Ben-Dahan, started this whole thing. They only expedited things. And there should be no shock or outrage, no bewailing the bitterness of fate. This government is a government of continuation, not a government of change.
True, some of its members are more extreme than their predecessors, but that is mainly about rhetorical differences. Even the most inflammatory appointment, of Shaked as justice minister, which reverberated throughout the world over the weekend, is less revolutionary than it seems. Shaked is blunt and violent, whereas Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, her predecessor, was delicate and proper. But Justice Minister Shaked will not have to work hard to break open cracks in our democracy; they opened a long time ago.
The best test of the nature of the regime in Israel is the test of the occupation and the war crimes: the foundations of apartheid are already deep and the war crimes remain uninvestigated. From her office in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, Livni has not made Israel more just in that respect. True, Shaked’s ideas are more nationalistic and her understanding of the essence of democracy is nil. True, many in the world were shocked that a person who identified with one of the most violent articles ever written here against the Palestinian people (by Uri Elitzur), was appointed minister of Israeli justice. But there’s no place for such sanctimoniousness. Elitzur expressed what many people are thinking.
The appointment of another racist, Eli Ben-Dahan, as deputy defense minister, responsible for the Civil Administration, should not be earth-shattering either. True, Ben-Dahan said that “the Palestinians are animals, they are not human, they are not entitled to live” – but don’t these statements reflect the true attitude of many Israelis? Ben-Dahan will speak for them. That is how Israel has been treating the Palestinians for almost 50 years; Ben-Dahan is only saying things overtly. Now he will be responsible for the Civil Administration and the whole system of “humanitarian gestures” will be torn up. Ben-Dahan is the right man in the right place at the right time. An excellent appointment.
A person who proudly says “I killed masses of Arabs” and calls them “shrapnel in the buttocks” will be education minister – and who in Israel doesn’t think that? The general of Operation Cast Lead, with its crimes, the man who contravened building restrictions, Yoav Galant, will be construction minister. Is that not a fine appointment? MK Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism is to head the Knesset Science Committee? Does that not correctly reflect the attitude of some Israelis to science?
Stop whining. Maybe Israel’s shadow government should be more enlightened, but not its real government. It is what the Israelis chose, it reflects their true stands. And so, long live the new government.
The workers died because of the sickening greed of their bosses and the malfeasance of local officials who looked the other way. The bosses never paid for the murder of these workers but in the months and years that followed, American unionism took off and laws protecting workers and improving their conditions were established.
‘Ein Siniya’s population in the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, was 114. Today in 2015, ‘Ein Siniya’s population is 885 persons strong. Given every act of the Israeli military occupation for the last five decades has been designed to get Palestinians to leave Palestine, ‘Ein Siniya is a living testament to our resilience and determination to not only remain on the land, but to grow despite all odds.
Restoration of Buildings vs Memories
By Sam Bahour
Home of Jamil Al Husseini, ‘Ein Siniya, Palestine (Photo credit: DHIP)
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. I’ve lived in Palestine for 21 years and passed by the village of ‘Ein Siniya hundreds of times, but can’t recall ever actually visiting it, that is, until today.
‘Ein Siniya is a small Palestinian village in the West Bank’s Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, 10 kilometers north of Ramallah, northeast of Jifna, the village renowned for its apricots. It lies in a valley surrounded by olive and fig terraces. Its population has grown from 701 persons in 2007 to 885 today, a whopping 12% increase. It was the home of Faisal Husseini, the legendary Palestinian leader who spent his life defending Palestinian rights in Jerusalem. ‘Ein Siniya is what one would call a sleepy, laid-back village, but today it came alive and I was there to witness this refreshing awakening.
I arrived to ‘Ein Siniya driving behind a minibus from The Danish House in Palestine that was transporting people who were heading to the same venue that I was. Turning off the main road into the village, we turned right and then took the first left. The first thing I noticed is what one usually sees in all Palestinian villages, a group of children. This group was a cheerful one of young girls seemingly excited at all the odd traffic crawling up their street. A few hundred meters up the hill, on the right, was the historic home that we were coming to visit, the home of Mr. Jamil Al Husseini.
Standing in front of this huge, run-down home was actress Faten Khoury. She was oddly standing halfway in the street, not to be missed. She was frozen in a pose, staring at the long, stone staircase that hugged the backside of the building and led to the first floor of this abandoned, eerie home. She held a suitcase in one hand and a white photo album in the other. As we exited our cars and the bus unloaded, many stopped to talk to Faten, but she would not budge. She just stared up the staircase, clearly leading us to where we were to go, without saying a word.
Upstairs we entered through an old, traditional doorway, narrow and with a heavy steel door. We then walked across a sheet of metal flooring, placed on an old outside terrace that led to a large room. Along the way there were rooms to our right, the first had two young girls, in traditional costume, sitting on the floor kneeling bread dough. The next room had a young man, also in traditional dress, manually milling freshly picked olives with a stone. At the end of the terrace walkway we entered a larger room, possibly what was once the family’s living room.
Emilie Simonsen (Photo credit: Mohammed Abbas)
As we found our seats, more and more people flowed in, young and old. Emilie paid no attention to all the buzz in the room; she just kept doing her thing. Sitting behind me was a row of the most beautiful young girls from the village. The sat diligently waiting, trying to understand who were all these strange people who all of the sudden arrived out of nowhere. I asked them where they were from and what they were all waiting for? Without hesitation, one replied, “We are from here, ‘Ein Siniya, and we await the skit, there is going to be a skit here. Where are you from?” I replied, “Al-Bireh, near Ramallah,” thinking they would only know the larger city near mine. One of the girls, around 9 years old, answered, “I know where Al-Bireh is; it’s where the Al-Bireh Secondary Girls School is located.” I was clearly not needed for these girls to navigate their geography.The room was full of people sitting on the ten or so rows of chairs. In the front of the room was a table, with a foreign lady sitting alone. She had her headphones on and reverted back and forth between diligently typing away on her laptop and putting on a pair of white gloves, before picking up an artifact, pieces of a colorful broken ceramic dish, which she used a small brush to meticulously brush the edges of the dish pieces off. We later learned this she was Ms. Emilie Simonsen, a Danish actress visiting Palestine, playing the role of a historic restoration expert.
Not before long, there was only standing room left. Then entered an older, well-dressed man. He was ushered to sit in the first row. This was the owner of the house, Jamil Al Husseini. It was then announced that the show was about to begin. The room fell silent.
Actress Faten hesitatingly entered the room, still holding her photo album as she placed her luggage to the side. She then spent the next ten minutes thrashing around the room, talking to herself, reminiscing about days long gone. She recalled her father’s descriptions of his home back in Palestine, this home. She walked through the rooms, shocked that, although she never lived in this home, she felt like she knew every nook and cranny—the wooden window frames, the arched windows that separated the rooms, the porch, the now-broken vase sitting on Emilie’s table waiting to be logged in her laptop, the tiled floors, and so on. She spoke of the home as if she could see all its long-gone residents still there. Actually, as Faten reminisced, a group of young actors and actresses from Ashtar Theater were playing out the home’s original family members, as if they had come back to life. As Faten moved from one room to another, she slammed a door, startling Emilie, the foreign actress.
Emilie abruptly stopped bushing the artifact in her hand, threw off her white gloves and removed her headphones to jump up and scold Faten for being in the house. Emilie explained that the house was very old and is being restored and no one was allowed in. Faten replied, in vain, that this was her family’s home and she could envision all the memories as if they were alive. Emilie was unable to see this, being only privy to the material artifacts that she was brushing and logging into her laptop. As photos of past times, when the home was full of life, were displayed on the stone wall of the living room, Faten, frustrated with Emilie’s inability to feel the living past of the home, summed up the stance: “You are only interested in the restoration of the buildings, not the memories.” The audience was moved. I had a serious outbreak of goose bumps.
Following the skit, the floor was open for discussion. The first to speak, remaining true to our culture, was the owner of the home. He thanked everyone for coming and welcomed us to his home, a heavy-on-the-heart welcome given the condition of the building, but an exceedingly warm welcome taking into consideration that it was now filled, once again, by village boys and girls, adults, and everyone else, most importantly Jamil himself, the homeowner.A few minutes later, the skit ended. It took this talented team of actors and actresses merely twenty minutes to strike a deep chord in each of us. Lost homes, time passed, history maintained through oral storytelling, refugees coming home, today’s material world seeking to merely see the stones and not the families who lived in the homes or what happened to them, or where they went, or how they died. In those short, twenty minutes, a number of deep feelings that every Palestinian has was touched.
When I spoke during the discussion period, I challenged the young ones in the room. I told them I’m going to write this article about the event and want them to send me their reflections so I can include them. Immediately after the event, the entire group of young girls who were sitting in the row behind me came up to me. One of the girls, Bisan, an unquestionable future leader, garnered enough courage to speak to me on their behalf. With her red cheeks and beautiful smile, she said they wanted to ask how they can send me what they write. I gave them my business card and told them my email is listed. One of the girls asked if she can send hers to me on Facebook, or Face, as she called it. Another sign of the times. They were so excited, they made the rest of a normal day great.
I barely got home that evening when I found this message from Bisan:
‘I am Bisan Jabr Ahmed, I was in ‘Ein Siniya theater and I’m ten years old. I felt that this play expressed our Palestinian heritage and took me back to the old days, how our parents used to live, while now everyone is busy with Face. How in the old times my parents and I worked together in our home and how we cooperated and how we disagreed.’
She then asked me to let her know next time I come to ‘Ein Siniya. Bisan and her generation are thirsty to live, while the military occupation that keeps its boot on their necks make it hard for them to even breathe.
Then a few hours later, I received this message:
‘I am Sama’a Khater. I’m nine years old. I loved the skit which was played in ‘Ein Siniya. Although it was short, it expressed the feelings of people in old days, and made me feel very sad.’
The idea to bring Palestinian oral histories to life has been the passion and project of actress Faten Khoury for years. With the support of The Danish House in Palestine and many generous others, she was able to link with the professional Danish actress Emilie who works in Denmark to revive history through theater. This skit was a pilot for a much larger project that Faten is working on, the creation of a Theatrical Museum of Oral History. I support this project wholeheartedly and made it my firm’s current corporate social responsibility project. Please help bring it to life if you can by visiting www.aim.ps/aim-csr.html and making a donation.
Bottom line, ‘Ein Siniya’s population in the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, was 114. Today in 2015, ‘Ein Siniya’s population is 885 persons strong. Given every act of the Israeli military occupation for the last five decades has been designed to get Palestinians to leave Palestine, ‘Ein Siniya is a living testament to our resilience and determination to not only remain on the land, but to grow despite all odds. I, for one, commit to redoubling my efforts to ensure that Bisan and her friends will all have a future worth living for.
On March 7th,1965, Black citizens from Selma, Alabama attempted to march to the state capital Montgomery demanding the right of Black citizens to vote.
At a bridge on route to Montgomery they were confronted by a large band of Alabama state troopers armed with rifles, whips, tear gas, clubs & dogs. They were informed their march was illegal and they would not be allowed to cross and were given three minutes to disperse. When the marchers requested time to pray they were immediately set upon by the troopers: a brutal racist attack commenced. Beatings, blooded heads and broken bones ensued: Blood flowed freely.
That day is known as “Bloody Sunday”. This day, March 7th, 2015, is the 50th anniversary of the Alabama State terror attack. In commemoration, 1,000 people joined and walked from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn bridge to Brooklyn and then to Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to hear President Obama’s speech from Selma Alabama.
If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. Remembered by Carlos Latuff
Malcolm X was assassinated 50 years ago this month (February 21st 1965). He would have been almost 90 years old. But he left us when his time was due. A fearless, courageous and sincere man who will never be forgotten by those who stand with the oppressed.
We will remember him today as we did yesterday as our beloved brother.
We remember him and appreciate the sacrifices he made not only for the African Americans but all people across the world. May God grant him mercy and the highest station in paradise. Amen.
Eulogized by Ossie Davis
Remembered by his friends and comrades…
Contents Assassination of Malcolm X Harlem resident Sonia Sanchez James Henrik Clarke Ella Collins Prince Faisal (not to be confused with THE King Faisal) Ossie Davis Amiri Baraka Yvonne Little Alex Haley Sharon 10X Maya Angelou Denzel Washington Nelson Mandela Tariq Ramadan Robert Haggins Earl Grant Yuri Kochiyama Shirley Joshi Malcolm X in Smethwick, Birmingham, UK (12/02/1965) Ossie Davis Malcolm X in Oxford Union (04/12/1964) Malcolm X resting
Twenty one years ago this week terror struck out in Hebron. Thirty Palestinians at prayer were slaughtered by one Judeo nazi. There were no solidarity marches, there were no massive outcries in the Western Press, after all, the dead were only Palestinians. Instead there were graveside ceremonies glorifying the terrorist and his acts.Twenty one years later a compatriot of the terrorist is a candidate for the Knesset.
ISRAEL MUST HANG ITS COLLECTIVE HEAD IN SHAME!
The following is by far the best account of the massacre itself. It was originally posted seven years ago…..
21 Years of Lessons after Al-Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre – A Memorial History for the 30 Palestinian Martyrs
The dawn of Friday 15 Ramadan 1414 a.h. / 25 February 1994 marked the first of three massacres perpetrated by Israeli settlers accompanied by the Israeli Army. There were more than 30 martyrs and 270 injured. The main massacre took place while the victims were performing al- Fajr (Dawn) Prayer at Al Ibrahimi mosque.
At 05:00 on February 25, around eight hundred Palestinian Muslims passed through the east gate of Al-Ibrahimi mosque to participate in al-Fajr prayer, the first of the five daily Islamic prayers. At that time of the holy month of Ramadan, there were many people who flocked the Ibrahimi Mosque to perform their prayers. The mosque was under Israeli Army guard.
That same day, a Jewish American Zionist physician decided to materialize the dream of the typical Zionist movement of annihilating the Arab existence in Palestine. Dr. Baruch Goldstein prepared for the move. It was during Ramadan when Dr. Goldstein decided to execute his old plan of vengeance.
Goldstein passed two army checkpoints at the dawn of February 25, 1994 from the northeastern gate of the mosque near privy. That privy could be the reason why Goldstein decided on that gate because he, probably, received his contemplation about Arabs from the Rabbis of Kach in Kiryat Arab where the Arabs were described as the demons of the privy. The privy of the mosque is important not only because it has two Israeli army checkpoints on its nearby mosque’s gate, but also because it is surrounded by Israeli army posts from the east and army patrols in the west. So Goldstein was acting from the deepest parts of the Zionistic ideology in liquidating the demons.
Goldstein was carrying his IMI Galil assault rifle, four magazines of ammunition, which held 35 bullets each and hand grenades. He thought about the best moment to execute the plan, maximize the number of casualties and secure the escape or rescue. The best moment, of course, was when the Muslim worshipers knelt on the floor with their backs towards Goldstein.
It was first a hand grenade that he threw among the worshipers causing casualties, confusion, and possibly an invitation to the Israeli soldiers in the halls and outside of the mosque to intervene for rescue. And in no time, the automatic massacre took place with the same kind of mercy that other Zionists like Goldstein shows all the time toward Arabs.
Standing in front of the only exit from the mosque and positioned to the rear of the Muslim worshipers, he opened fire with the weapon, killing 29 people and injuring more than 125. He was eventually overwhelmed by survivors, who beat him to death.
An eyewitness said that when Goldstein was executing the massacre and people attacked him, there was a soldier who attempted to come closer to the scene. But instead of “rescuing” Dr. Goldstein, the Israeli soldier shot his bullets in the air and then escaped from the inside eastern door of the northern hall to the previously known “women praying area.” In the opinion of the eyewitness, the soldier could have rescued Goldstein by killing 5 or 10 more Palestinians, but it appeared that his personal safety was above any blood value.
Al Ibrahimi massacre (a.k.a Hebron massacre) is not the last one. Muslims and Jews are and will remain candidates for victimization. But the cause will always be the same: “The Nazi style laws of the Zionists occupation in Palestine.”
Reports after the massacre were inevitably highly confused. In particular, there was uncertainty about whether Goldstein had acted alone; it was reported that eyewitnesses had seen “another man, dressed as a soldier, handing him ammunition.” The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said that the attack was the work of up to 12 men, including Israeli troops. However, Israeli Army denied that and confirmed that Goldstein had acted alone without the assistance or connivance of the Israeli guards posted at the mosque.
News of the massacre immediately led to riots in Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) and the rest of the occupied territories. Additional Palestinian Muslims were crushed to death in the panic to flee the mosque and in rioting that followed.
Now that was history, a bloody history that marked Feb 25 of every year with memorials of the Palestinian Martyrs massacred that day for nothing but being Palestinians. So, what are the lessons learned from this?
First we will look at the ideology behind this massacre (and all the Zionist massacres), then how it is treated among Zionists. And last but not least, how does the media look at Zionist (terrorists) and how do they handle such massacres compared to other terrorist acts and massacres.
The sympathy which Baruch Goldstein enjoys among the Gush Emunim, whose influence is more pervasive than that of the Kahanists, can only be explained by a shared ideology. However, Gush Emunim leaders enjoy Rabin’s friendship and strong influence in wide circles of the Israeli and diaspora Jewish communities. Therefore it is their version of this ideology which is more important. Gush Emunim’s thinking assumes the imminence of the coming of the Messiah, when the Jews, aided by God, will triumph over the Gentiles. Consequently, all current political developments call be interpreted by those in the know as destined either to bring this end nearer or postpone it. Jewish sins, the worst of them being lack of faith in Gush Emunim ideology, can postpone but not alter the predestined course of Redemption. The two world wars, the Holocaust and other calamitous events of modern history serve as stock examples of such a curative punishment for Jewish sins. Such explanations can go into a lot of specific detail. The rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior (who attended Goldstein’s funeral and praised him), blamed Israel’s relative failure in its 1982 invasion of Lebanon on the lack of faith manifested through signing a peace treaty with Egypt and “returning the inheritance of our ancestors [i.e Sinai] to strangers”.[…]
The fundamental tenet of Gush Emunim’s thinking is the assumption that the Jewish people are “peculiar”. Lustick discusses this tenet in terms of their denial of the classical Zionist claim that only by undergoing “a process of normalisation”, by emigrating to Palestine and forming a Jewish state there, can the Jews become like any other nation. But for them this “is the original delusion of the secular Zionists”, because they measured that “normality” by applying non-Jewish standards. According to Gush Emunim, “Jews are not and cannot be a normal people”, because “their eternal uniqueness” is “the result of the covenant God made with them at Mount Sinai”. Therefore, according to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of their leaders, “while God requires other normal nations to abide by abstract codes of â€˜justice and righteousness’, such laws do not apply to Jews”.
Harkabi quotes Rabbi Israel Ariel, who says that “a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from human judgement, and has not violated the prohibition of murder”. The Gush Emunim rabbis have indeed reiterated that Jews who kill Arabs should be free from all punishment. Harkabi also quotes Rabbi Aviner, Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook and Rabbi Ariel, all three of whom say Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because since the land was once Jewish, all property to be found on that land “really” belongs to the Jews. In the original Hebrew version of his book Harkabi expresses his shock at finding this out. “I never imagined that Israelis would so interpret the concept of the historical right.”
Gush Emunim’s plans for governing non-Jews in Israel are also based on “theological” principles. According to Rabbi Aviner; “Is there a difference between punishing an Arab child and an Arab adult for disturbance of our peace? Punishments can be inflicted on Jewish boys below the age of 13 and Jewish girls below the age of 12…But this rule applies to Jews alone, not to Gentiles. Thus any Gentile, no matter how little, should be punished for any crime he commits.” From this dictum, it is only a short step to slaughtering Arab children.
Even Israel’s Supreme Court compared Kahane to the German Nazis. The prominent Orthodox dissident, Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz, said that the mass murder in Hebron was a consequence of “Judeo-Nazism”. But Gush Emunim’s ideology is no less like that of the Nazis than Kahane’s.
Celebrating the Hebron massacre:
Why do we hate them?
When you see the Israelis and Zionists from different parties and sections of the Israeli society, including their army, as well from around the world, gathering annually at the grave of Baruch Goldstein to celebrate the anniversary of his massacre of Muslim worshipers in Al-Khalil (Hebron), how can you but “LOVE” them?
Militant Jews have gathered at the grave of Baruch Goldstein to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his massacre of Muslim worshippers in Hebron.
The celebrants dressed up as the gunman, wearing army uniforms, doctor’s coats and fake beards.
Goldstein, an immigrant from New York City, had been a physician in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Waving semi-automatic weapons in the air, the celebrants danced, sang and read prayers around his grave.
“We decided to make a big party on the day he was murdered by Arabs,” said Baruch Marzel, one of about 40 celebrants.
The tribute was a macabre twist on the Jewish festival of Purim, when it is a custom to dress in costume and celebrate.
Massacre in mosque
In 1994 on Purim, Goldstein stormed a mosque and fired on praying Muslims in the West Bank city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs – a shrine sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
Twenty-nine people died in the attack, and the angry crowd lynched Goldstein in retaliation.
Israeli extremists continue to pay homage at his grave in the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, where a marble plaque reads: “To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel.”
About 10,000 people had visited the grave since the massacre, Mr Marzel said.
Note: the above news story is ten years old.
Not only that. The Israeli government allocated a special site for the grave, in the Tourist Park in Kiryat Arba settlement. Over the years, the grave has become a site of pilgrimage. Tens of thousand people from all over the world go to pray and honor this terrorist memory. The local religious council of Kiryat Arba settlement declared the grave site a cemetery. During the Feast of Purim, Goldstein friends celebrate the feast near his grave to honor him, in appreciation of what he did!
Following the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the arrest of several Muslims who were charged with the crime, the American media were flooded with news stories, analyses and commentaries that warned of the coming “Islamic threat.” “Investigative reporters” and “terrorism experts” alleged on television talk shows and op-ed pages that the accused perpetrators of the bombing were part of an “Islamic terrorism network” coordinated by Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, or other Middle Eastern bogeymen. […] Contrast those reactions with the media’s response to the massacre in Hebron. No analyst suggested that the event reflected the emergence of a global “Jewish threat. ” No terrorism expert was invited to discuss on “Nightline” or the “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” the rise of a “global Zionist terrorism” organization manipulated, say, by the Israeli Mossad. No scholar alleged that the massacre by a Jewish settler suggested that Western and Jewish values were somehow incompatible.
If one really had wanted to apply the journalistic methods that were used in the case of the World Trade Center bombing, it would not have been so difficult, after reviewing the biography of Rabbi Meir Kahane by Robert I. Friedman, to point to the strong ties between Baruch Goldstein and the other “fanatics” in the Jewish settlements and members of the Israeli political establishment, especially in the Likud party. One could even have reminded American readers that Kiryat Arba, where Goldstein resided, was actually the brainchild of a pre-1977 Labor government.
Any analysis of public statements and writings by some of the major political and spiritual leaders of the Jewish settlers, including the rabbis who head the movement, would reveal a fanatical hatred and racist attitudes toward non-Jews in general, and Arabs and Palestinians in particular.
Instead, most journalists and analysts adopted the official Israeli line and described the massacre as an “isolated” case of Jewish “extremism,” an act of a “lone gunman,” a “lunatic,” a “madman” who does not represent Israeli society or, for that matter, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. Journalists, like the Israeli government, stressed that killing of innocent civilians violates the moral tenets of Judaism.
The above was originally posted by Haitam Sabbah seven years ago.
Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 32 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.
The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence , Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.
When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army
pension reported to have been $13,507..72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.
After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove
home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.
When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined,
stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and
that doesn’t belong to me.. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”
Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award
him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”
As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.
Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in
on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, too many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.
Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My
choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a
politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!”
We ought to have cloned him for telling it like it is and being
frugal with our tax dollars!
A 98-year-old retired New Jersey math teacher implicated in a Cold War atomic espionage case lost her bid on Thursday to throw out her conviction, which she called a McCarthy-era injustice.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan ruled that Miriam Moskowitz failed to show that recently released records not available to her trial lawyers would not have resulted in her acquittal.
“The error if any is not fundamental,” Hellerstein said. “There’s no showing it would have altered the result.”
Moskowitz called the decision “too bad,” but the Washington Township, New Jersey resident said she would not appeal.
“My 98-year-old life goes on,” she told reporters outside the courtroom. “I am disappointed because it reflects not so much on me but on the prejudice of the McCarthy era.”
Moskowitz had been a secretary when she and former boss Abraham Brothman, a chemical engineer with whom she had an affair, were convicted in Manhattan in 1950 of conspiring to obstruct justice by lying to a grand jury investigating espionage.
Moskowitz served two years in prison after a trial that lawyer Roy Cohn, who later worked for Senator Joseph McCarthy, the leading face of post-war U.S. anti-Communism, called a “dry run” for the government case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
She said recently unsealed records established that a chemist named Harry Gold lied when he testified at her trial that she was present when he and Brothman got their stories straight before speaking with the grand jury.
She said Gold repeatedly told the FBI otherwise but that the defense had not been informed. Gold admitted passing information on the U.S. atomic bomb program to a Soviet diplomat and served about half of a 30-year prison sentence.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan declined comment.
Moskowitz wrote the 2010 book “Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” about her case.
Her trial judge, Irving Kaufman, also handled the Rosenbergs’ trial. They were executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage.
IN its long and checkered history, Jerusalem has been occupied by dozens of conquerors.
Babylonians and Persians, Greeks and Romans, Mamluks and Turks, Britons and Jordanians – to mention just a few.
The latest occupier is Israel, which conquered and annexed Jerusalem in 1967.
(I could have written “East Jerusalem” – but all of historical Jerusalem is in today’s East Jerusalem. All the other parts were built in the last 200 years by Zionist settlers, or are surrounding Arab villages which were arbitrarily joined to the huge area that is now called Jerusalem after its occupation.)
This week, Jerusalem was in flames – again. Two youngsters from Jabel Mukaber, one of the Arab villages annexed to Jerusalem, entered a synagogue in the west of the city during morning prayers and killed four devout Jews, before themselves being killed by police.
Jerusalem is called “the City of Peace”. This is a linguistic mistake. True, in antiquity it was called Salem, which sounds like peace, but Salem was in fact the name of the local deity.
It is also a historical mistake. No city in the world has seen as many wars, massacres and as much bloodshed as this one.
All in the name of some God or other.
JERUSALEM WAS annexed (or “liberated”, or “unified”) immediately after the Six-day War of 1967.
That war was Israel’s greatest military triumph. It was also Israel’s greatest disaster. The divine blessings of the incredible victory turned into divine punishments. Jerusalem was one of them.
The annexation was presented to us (I was a member of the Knesset at the time) as a unification of the city, which had been cruelly rent asunder in the Israeli-Palestinian war of 1948. Everybody cited the Biblical sentence: “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together.” This translation of Psalm 122 is rather odd. The Hebrew original says simply “a city that is joined together”.
In fact, what happened in 1967 was anything but unification.
If the intent had really been unification, it would have looked very different.
Full Israeli citizenship would have been automatically conferred on all inhabitants. All the lost Arab properties in West Jerusalem, which had been expropriated in 1948, would have been restored to their rightful owners who had fled to East Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem municipality would have been expanded to include Arabs from the East, even without a specific request. And so on.
The opposite happened. No property was restored, nor any compensation paid. The municipality remained exclusively Jewish.
Arab inhabitants were not accorded Israeli citizenship, but merely “permanent residence”. This is a status that can be arbitrarily revoked at any moment – and indeed was revoked in many cases, compelling the victims to move out of the city. For appearance’s sake, Arabs were allowed to apply for Israel citizenship. The authorities knew, of course, that only a handful would apply, since doing so would mean recognition of the occupation. For Palestinians, this would be paramount to treason. (And the few that did apply were generally refused.)
The municipality was not broadened. In theory, Arabs are entitled to vote in municipal elections, but only a handful do so, for the same reasons. In practice, East Jerusalem remains occupied territory.
The mayor, Teddy Kollek, was elected two years before the annexation. One of his first actions after it was to demolish the entire Mugrabi Quarter next to the Western Wall, leaving a large empty square resembling a parking lot. The inhabitants, all of them poor people, were evicted within hours.
But Kollek was a genius in public relations. He ostensibly established friendly relations with the Arab notables, introduced them to foreign visitors and created a general impression of peace and contentment. Kollek built more new Israeli neighborhoods on Arab land than any other person in the country. Yet this master-settler collected almost all the world’s peace prizes, except the Nobel Prize. East Jerusalem remained quiet.
Only few knew of a secret directive from Kollek, instructing all municipal authorities to see to it that the Arab population – then 27% – did not rise above that level.
KOLLEK was ably supported by Moshe Dayan, then the Defense Minister. Dayan believed in keeping the Palestinians quiet by giving them all possible benefits, except freedom.
A few days after the occupation of East Jerusalem he removed the Israeli flag which had been planted by soldiers in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Dayan also turned the de facto authority over the Mount over to the Muslim religious authorities.
Jews were allowed into the Temple compound only in small numbers and only as quiet visitors. They were forbidden to pray there, and forcibly removed if they moved their lips. They could, after all, pray to their heart’s content at the adjoining Western Wall (which is a part of the compound’s ancient outer wall).
The government was able to impose this decree because of a quaint religious fact: Orthodox Jews are forbidden by the rabbis to enter the Temple Mount altogether. According to a Biblical injunction, ordinary Jews are not allowed into the Holy of Holies, only the High Priest was allowed in. Since nobody today knows where exactly this place is located, pious Jews may not enter the entire compound.
AS A result, the first few years of the occupation were a happy time for East Jerusalem. Jews and Arabs mingled freely. It was fashionable for Jews to shop in the colorful Arab market and dine in the “oriental” restaurants. I myself often stayed in Arab hotels and made quite a number of Arab friends.
This atmosphere changed gradually. The government and the municipality spent a lot of money to gentrify West Jerusalem, but Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were neglected, and turned into slums. The local infrastructure and services degenerated. Almost no building permits were issued to Arabs, in order to compel the younger generation to move outside the city borders. Then the “Separation” Wall was built, preventing those outside from entering the city, cutting them off from their schools and jobs. Yet In spite of everything, the Arab population grew and reached 40%.
Political oppression grew. Under the Oslo agreements, Jerusalemite Arabs were allowed to vote for the Palestinian Authority. But then they were prevented from doing so, their representatives were arrested and expelled from the city. All Palestinian institutions were forcibly closed down, including the famous Orient House, where the much admired and beloved leader of the Jerusalem Arabs, the late Faisal al-Husseini, had his office.
KOLLEK was succeeded by Ehud Olmert and an Orthodox mayor who didn’t give a damn for East Jerusalem, except the Temple Mount.
And then an additional disaster occurred. Secular Israelis are leaving Jerusalem, which is rapidly becoming an Orthodox bastion. In desperation they decided to oust the Orthodox mayor and elect a secular businessman. Unfortunately, he is a rabid ultra-nationalist.
Nir Barkat behaves like the mayor of West Jerusalem and the military governor of East Jerusalem. He treats his Palestinian subjects like enemies, who may be tolerated if they obey quietly, and brutally suppressed if they do not. Together with the decade-old neglect of the Arab neighborhoods, the accelerated pace of building new Jewish neighborhoods, the excessive police brutality (openly encouraged by the mayor), they are producing an explosive situation.
The total cutting-off of Jerusalem from the West Bank, its natural hinterland, worsens the situation even more.
To this may be added the termination of the so-called peace process, since all Palestinians are convinced that East Jerusalem must be the capital of the future State of Palestine.
THIS SITUATION needed only a spark to ignite the city. This was duly provided by the right-wing demagogues in the Knesset. Vying for attention and popularity, they started to visit the Temple Mount, one after the other, every time unleashing a storm. Added to the manifest desire of certain religious and right-wing fanatics to build the Third Temple in place of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, this was enough to create the belief that the holy shrines were indeed in danger.
Then came the ghastly revenge-murder of an Arab boy who was abducted by Jews and burned alive with gasoline poured into his mouth.
Individual Muslim inhabitants of the city started to act. Disdaining organizations, almost without arms, they started a series of attacks that are now called “the intifada of individuals”. Acting alone, or with a brother or cousin whom he trusts, an Arab takes a knife, or a pistol (if he can get one), or his car, or a tractor, and kills the nearest Israelis. He knows that he is going to die.
The two cousins who killed four Jews in a synagogue this week – and also an Arab Druze policeman – knew this. They also knew that their families were going to suffer, their home be demolished, their relatives arrested. They were not deflected. The mosques were more important.
Moreover, the day before, an Arab bus driver was found dead in his bus. According to the police, the autopsy proved that he committed suicide. An Arab pathologist concluded that he was murdered. No Arab believes the police – Arabs are convinced that the police always lie.
Immediately after the Synagogue killing, the Israeli choir of politicians and commentators went into action. They did so with an astonishing unanimity – ministers, Knesset members, ex-generals, journalists, all repeating with slight variations the same message. The reason for this is simple: every day the Prime Minister’s office sends out a “page of messages”, instructing all parts of the propaganda machine what to say.
This time the message was that Mahmoud Abbas was to blame for everything, a “terrorist in a suit”, the leader whose incitement causes the new intifada. No matter that the chief of the Shin Bet testified on the very same day that Abbas has neither overt nor covert connections with the violence.
Binyamin Netanyahu faced the cameras and with a solemn face and lugubrious voice – he is a really good actor – repeated again what he has said many times before, every time pretending that this is new recipe: more police, harder punishments, demolition of homes, arrests and large fines for parents of 13-year old children who are caught throwing stones, and so on.
Every expert knows that the result of such measures will be the exact opposite. More Arabs will become incensed and attack Israeli men and women. Israelis, of course, will “take revenge” and “take the law into their own hands”.
For both inhabitants and tourists, walking the streets of Jerusalem, the city which is “joined together”, has become a risky adventure. Many stay at home.
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II scarred American history for years to come.
Now, a new research paper argues that Palestinians share a similar traumatic experience. Pointing to a barely discussed chapter in the history of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the paper highlights a time when the fledgling Jewish state interned more than 6,000 Palestinian citizens without charge in camps across the country.
Dueling Narratives Emerge On
Palestinian Internment Camps
Were They About Keeping Jews Safe — Or Getting Free Labor?
Legal Or Not? Palestinians labored in the Ijlil POW camp in central Israel, which housed 2,000 prisoners for 11 months in 1948 and 1949.
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II scarred American history for years to come.
Now, a new research paper argues that Palestinians share a similar traumatic experience. Pointing to a barely discussed chapter in the history of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the paper highlights a time when the fledgling Jewish state interned more than 6,000 Palestinian citizens without charge in camps across the country.
The descriptions included in the research paper, which was published in the summer volume of the Journal of Palestine Studies, are chilling: arbitrary arrests of civilians who were jailed in prisons described as “concentration camps” and subjected to torture, hardship, food deprivation and forced labor. The references made in the study to Nazi camps are not coincidental.
“It is amazing to me, and many Europeans, who have seen my evidence,” the study’s co-author Salman Abu Sitta, told the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, “that a forced labor camp was opened in Palestine three years after they were closed in Germany, and [was] run by former prisoners. There were German Jewish guards.”
But just like almost every other episode in the history of the Israeli–Arab conflict, the new study also quickly played into the battle of historic narratives waged between both sides. What Palestinians view as a new revelation of Israeli atrocities that included concentration camps and unlawful internment of innocent civilians is seen by Israelis as no more than a known and acknowledged, if little examined, chapter in Israeli history in which prisoners of war were held in internationally recognized camps under Red Cross supervision, and in accordance with all practices and rules set by the Geneva Convention. The allegations of “torture,” they point out, come not from the Red Cross’s reports but from oral testimonies that Abu Sitta and his co-author, Terry Rempel, gathered from internees many decades after the fact.
“We all know that there were cases of massacre, that there were expulsions and so forth. Why do you need this addition? How does this insignificant chapter help the Arab sense of catastrophe?” asked Alon Kadish, a professor of history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who argued that the new research is merely an attempt to “amplify the calamity” without offering any new facts.
“An easy way to silence a scandal is to say that it’s not new and was investigated in the past,” responded Ariella Azoulay of Brown University, whose book “From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947–1950” documented some of the camps used by Israel to hold Palestinians during the war. “It was investigated a bit in the past and is known, but that is too little for a crime of this magnitude.”
Abu Sitta is a Palestinian scholar based in London whose research is focused on Palestinian refugees. Rempel is a founding member of BADIL, a resource center on issues relating to rights of Palestinian refugees.
Camp 791: The POW camp in central Israel operated for 11 months between 1948 and 1949.
Their research is based on documents from the Red Cross archives that include reports and correspondence from the organization’s representatives who visited the camps, and on interviews conducted with former detainees. The reports and testimonies paint a troubling picture of innocent civilians thrown into camps in subhuman conditions and forced to work for their captors.
“We had to cut and carry stones all day [in a quarry]. Our daily food was only one potato in the morning and half-dried fish at night. They beat anyone who disobeyed orders,” Marwan Iqab al-Yehiya, a former prisoner, told the authors. He added that detainees were “lined up and ordered to strip naked as a punishment for the escape of two prisoners at night.”
Another inmate, Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim, said: “Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape.” According to Ghanim, the Palestinians’ pervasive fear of being shot by their guards led them to alter the basic nature of their own movements. “Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward, facing the guards,” he said.
The focus of the study’s research was on the way the Red Cross dealt with the POW situation. The authors conclude that “in the last analysis, Israel was able to ignore with impunity” any complaints the Red Cross raised, “thanks to the diplomatic cover of major Western powers.”
The treatment of Arab civilians concerned Israeli leaders from early days of the nation’s War of Independence, even before statehood was declared on May 14, 1948. In the early months of the war, waged between Jewish and Arab paramilitary groups sharing the land of Palestine under British mandate, both sides, for the most part, did all they could to avoid the burden of prisoners — whether this meant simply killing those they captured or leaving them be if they were judged to be no immediate threat.
But once Israel became a state with an organized military force, it changed its policy for dealing with local Palestinian civilians found in combat zones. Some were expelled, creating one of the most contentious and sensitive chapters of the War of Independence. But in many cases the order was to take all able-bodied men as prisoners, out of fear that if left behind, they’d join the fight against Israeli forces.
The prisoners were held in five camps: Ijlil, near Tel Aviv; Atlit, south of Haifa, and three smaller camps, all in central Israel. The camps were set up in haste, in some cases, such as Atlit, utilizing former British prisons that had been used in the past to confine illegal Jewish immigrants. In other cases, Israel built makeshift tent cities surrounded with barbed wire. In addition, there were several temporary camps in the front lines, used to hold prisoners before they were transferred to the permanent installations.
Treatment of POWs was determined by the highest ranks of Israel’s leadership, including Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The Israelis were careful to inform the Red Cross whenever Palestinian civilians were imprisoned, and allowed Red Cross officials to visit and document the camps.
In the camps, prisoners were sent to work. Some labored on Jewish farms and factories that had lost their working hands when the war broke out. Others were sent to work building and reinforcing military and government facilities. In principle, going out to labor was voluntary. But most prisoners joined, mainly because it promised them a larger food ration and minimal wages.
At their peak, the camps held, according to Israeli and Red Cross records, 6,300 prisoners. Most were civilians living in villages and towns taken over by Israel. A minority were enemy combatants from Arab countries. On average, most spent less than a year in the camps, which were largely emptied by 1950. But a few prisoners were moved to prisons and held — without charge — for longer, some until 1955.
There is little dispute about these facts. But when it comes to their interpretation, Israelis and Palestinians paint two different pictures. The diverging terminology and context provide opposite stories of what happened to thousands of Palestinian civilians during the war.
Abu Sitta and Rempel, in their study, view the episode as an Israeli attempt to humiliate Palestinians and eventually facilitate ethnic cleansing of the land.
Both authors declined to be interviewed for this article.
Writing in the liberal Haaretz daily, columnist Amira Hass described a “nightmare question” about the role played by Holocaust survivors in allegedly torturing Palestinian POWs. “Whether they were German Jews or not, forcing prisoners to line up naked and using boots on those who fall are part of the family histories of many of us, but from the other side,” she wrote.
For Israelis, however, this historic episode represents an entirely different story.
Aaron J. Klein, an Israeli historian and author, said he was shocked to read the new study. Klein had researched the very same issue in the late 1990s for his master’s thesis at the Hebrew University. A version of it was later published in a collection of works on the War of Independence, edited by Kadish. Klein said the new study adds nothing to the facts already revealed and published in his thesis. He described himself as “disgusted” by the attempt to describe Israeli POW camps as concentration camps. “This is an attempt to enlist another piece of history to the Palestinian narrative, but it isn’t serious,” Klein said.
His reading of the documents from the time paints a picture of an Israeli leadership eager to win international legitimacy by adhering to the Geneva Convention and working with the Red Cross. The civilians arrested by Israel were legally recognized as POWs; their internment conditions were no better or worse than those of all Israeli soldiers at the time, and working outside the camps was seen as beneficial to the inmates. “Whoever reads the reports sees that the Red Cross understood the circumstances and gave Israel, all in all, good grades.”
But much of the firsthand testimony gathered by Abu Sitta and Rempel more than six decades later starkly contradicts Klein’s account of the Red Cross reports.
“We were tortured,” Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Qadir Abu Sayf, a former internee told the researchers. He described a prison room with “a sandy floor to absorb blood and pus.”
“Many had broken teeth, hands and legs,” the ex-prisoner recalled. “Food consisted of one loaf for every 15 people, and one piece of vegetable floating in a big pot. In the early morning we were taken to work. They hit us on our heads to move. If one fell, they hit him with their boots…. Torture sometimes continued at night. More people came. They were picked up like us, in pastures or in lonely places.”
The Israeli researchers argued that it would be a mistake to give oral testimonies recorded 60 years after the events took place the same credibility as Red Cross reports that were documented and prepared in real time.
So why did this episode get lost in the broader picture of the tumultuous days of 1948?
In part, because of shame. As Abu Sitta states, Palestinian detainees felt their experience in the camps paled in comparison with the suffering of their fellow Arabs who lost their homes and, at times, their lives.
Israeli camp guards, according to Klein, were also reluctant to speak of their experience. The guard force was made up primarily of former members of the Irgun and the Stern Gang, two right-wing underground groups. The ruling Haganah leadership sidelined them to noncombat positions as POW guards. “They felt humiliated by not being included in the combat units,” Klein said.
But whether forgotten or not, authors of the new paper believe that the events surrounding the capture and internment of Palestinian noncombatants during the war can serve as an early indication of Israeli behavior, as seen by the Palestinians. “Gaza today,” Abu Sitta said, “is a concentration camp, no different than the past.”
It was the most notorious spy case of the Cold War — the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union — and it rested largely on the testimony of Ms. Rosenberg’s brother David Greenglass, whose name to many became synonymous with betrayal.
David Greenglass, the Brother Who Doomed Ethel Rosenberg, Dies at 92
It was the most notorious spy case of the Cold War — the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union — and it rested largely on the testimony of Ms. Rosenberg’s brother David Greenglass, whose name to many became synonymous with betrayal.
For his role in the conspiracy, Mr. Greenglass, an Army sergeant who had stolen nuclear intelligence from Los Alamos, N.M., went to prison for almost a decade, then changed his name and lived quietly until a journalist tracked him down. He admitted then, nearly a half-century later, that he had lied on the witness stand to save his wife from prosecution, giving testimony that he was never sure about but that nevertheless helped send his sister and her husband to the electric chair in 1953.
Mr. Greenglass died on July 1, a family member confirmed. He was 92. His family did not announce his death; The New York Times learned of it in a call to the nursing home where he had been living under his assumed name. Mr. Greenglass’s wife, Ruth, who had played a minor role in the conspiracy and also gave damning testimony against the Rosenbergs, died in 2008.
In today’s world, where spying has more to do with greed than ideology, the story of David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs is an enduring time capsule from an age of uncertainties — of world war against fascism, Cold War with the Soviets, and shifting alliances that led some Americans to embrace utopian communism and others to denounce such ideas, and their exponents, as un-American.
Mr. Greenglass, who grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a household that believed Marxism would save humanity, was an ardent, preachy Communist when drafted by the Army in World War II, but no one in the barracks took him very seriously, much less believed him capable of spying.
He was not well educated, but his skills as a machinist — and pure luck — led to his assignment in 1944 to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, where America’s first atomic bombs were being developed. After being picked to replace a soldier who had gone AWOL, he lied on his security clearance report and was assigned to a team making precision molds for high-explosive lenses used to detonate the nuclear core.
When Mr. Rosenberg, already a Soviet spy, learned of his brother-in-law’s work, he recruited him. Security was often lax at Los Alamos, with safes and file cabinets left unlocked and classified documents lying on desks. Mr. Greenglass had no need for Hollywood spy tricks. He kept his eyes and ears open, and in mid-1945 sent Mr. Rosenberg a crude sketch and 12 pages of technical details on the bomb.
That September, after the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed with atomic bombs, ending the war, David and Ruth Greenglass visited the Rosenbergs’ apartment in New York. What happened there later became a matter of life and death, for as Mr. Greenglass delivered his latest spy notes, a woman — either his wife or his sister — sat at a Remington typewriter and typed them out.
The significance of that act did not become evident for five years. By then the Soviet Union, once America’s ally, had become a Cold War foe, witch hunts for suspected Communists were underway, and spy networks were being broken up. Klaus Fuchs, a physicist who had worked at Los Alamos, was caught, and named Harry Gold as a courier. Mr. Gold then named the Greenglasses and the Rosenbergs, who were arrested in 1950.
Mr. Greenglass admitted passing secrets to Mr. Rosenberg, but refused at first to implicate his sister. But just before the Rosenberg trial, Mr. Greenglass changed his story. Told that Ruth had informed F.B.I. agents that Ethel had typed his notes, he supported his wife’s account and agreed to testify against his sister and her husband.
Mr. Greenglass was under intense pressure. He had not yet been sentenced, and his wife, the mother of his two small children, faced possible prosecution, though her role had been minimal. In federal court in Manhattan in 1951, Mr. Greenglass’s testimony — corroborated by his wife’s — clinched the case against Mr. Rosenberg and implicated Mrs. Rosenberg.
Referring to Ethel Rosenberg in ringing hyperbolic phrases, the chief prosecutor, Irving H. Saypol, declared, “Just so had she, on countless other occasions, sat at that typewriter and struck the keys, blow by blow, against her own country in the interests of the Soviets.”
The jury found the Rosenbergs guilty of espionage conspiracy, and the presiding judge,Irving R. Kaufman, sentenced them to death. Appeals failed, and the Rosenbergs, who rejected all entreaties to name collaborators and insisted they were not guilty, were executed at Sing Sing on June 19, 1953. A co-defendant, Morton Sobell, was also convicted and was imprisoned for 18 years.
Mrs. Greenglass was not prosecuted. Mr. Greenglass was sentenced to 15 years, but was released in 1960 after nine and a half. He rejoined his wife and for decades lived quietly in the New York area, working as a machinist and inventor.
A 1983 book by Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, “The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth,” rekindled interest, concluding that Mr. Rosenberg was a dedicated spy but that his wife had played only a minor role, and raising questions about the evidence and the government’s tactics in the case. Mr. Radosh and Sol Stern also interviewed Mr. Greenglass for an article in The New Republic.
Sam Roberts, a Times editor and reporter, later found Mr. Greenglass and, after a 13-year effort, obtained 50 hours of interviews that led to a book, “The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case.” In the book, Mr. Greenglass admitted that, to spare his wife from prosecution, he had testified that his sister typed his notes. In fact, he said, he could not recall who had done it.
“I don’t remember that at all,” Mr. Greenglass said. “I frankly think my wife did the typing, but I don’t remember.”
He said he had no regrets. “My wife is more important to me than my sister. Or my mother or my father, O.K.? And she was the mother of my children.”
In a 2008 interview with Mr. Roberts, Mr. Sobell admitted that he had given military secrets to the Soviet Union, and concurred in what has become a consensus among historians: that the Greenglass-Rosenberg atomic bomb details were of little value to the Soviets, except to corroborate what they already knew, and that Ethel Rosenberg had played no active role in the conspiracy.
David Greenglass was born on the Lower East Side on March 2, 1922, to immigrants from Russia and Austria. He was 14 when he met Julius Rosenberg, who began courting Ethel, who was seven years older than David, in 1936. The Rosenbergs were married in 1939.
David graduated from Haaren High School in 1940 with only fair grades. He attended Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, but flunked out.
Mr. Greenglass and Ruth Printz, who had been neighbors, childhood sweethearts and members of the Young Communist League, were married in 1942. They had a son and a daughter, who survive him.
He had several machinist jobs before being drafted in 1943, and the Army put his skills to use. He fixed tank motors, inspected equipment and worked on ordnance in California and Mississippi. He was also assigned to classified work at Oak Ridge, Tenn., where uranium was being enriched for a secret weapon.
To pass his security clearance for the most sensitive work of the war at Los Alamos, Mr. Greenglass disguised or omitted Communist associations in his background. For character and work references, he alerted the writers — all friends — how to respond, and only glowing reports came back. “All evidence indicates subject to be loyal, honest and discreet,” Army intelligence reported.
Everywhere — even at Los Alamos — he preached communism, trying to persuade fellow G.I.s and co-workers that they would someday prosper in a utopian society free of squalor and injustice. Letters to his wife, some signed “Your Comrade,” also sprinkled dialectics among the endearments. “We who understand,” he wrote, “can bring understanding to others because we are in love and have our Marxist outlook.”
The deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Greenglass, like those of the Rosenbergs more than 60 years ago, are unlikely to end public fascination with the case, whose betrayals have been woven into American culture. In Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the character played by Mr. Allen says dryly that he still has feelings for his vile brother-in-law.
“I love him like a brother,” he says. “David Greenglass.”
The 98-year-old retired math teacher who walked into the Manhattan federal courthouse on Monday says she has never forgotten that she is a convicted felon.
Unjustly so, she insists. She believes that she may be the last living victim of the “hysteria” produced by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against communism.
And she is determined to prove—64 years after her conviction for conspiracy to obstruct a grand jury’s investigation of atomic espionage—that she is innocent. Her pro bono attorneys from Baker Botts have reached deep into the lawyer’s toolkit for what they call an “exceptional” petition they hope will persuade Southern District Judge Alvin Hellerstein (See Profile) to vacate her conviction.
Miriam Moskowitz, of Washington Township, N.J. was a secretary to chemical engineer Abraham Brothman, who was suspected of passing documents to the Soviets, when they were arrested in 1950.
Along with her photo, a front-page New York Daily News headline read on July 30, 1950, “REDS SMASH ON IN FLANK ATTACK, Nab Man, Woman in Spy Plot.
“I was made out to be a monster, and I did nothing wrong,” Moskowitz told Law Journal affiliate Am Law Daily. “All I want is to clear my name before it’s too late.”
Robert Maier, a partner at Baker Botts in New York, along with associates Guy Eddon and Joseph Perry are representing Moskowitz pro bono in her long-shot crusade.
“Our goal is to see that justice is done in a pretty unusual case,” said Eddon, an intellectual property attorney.
The arrest of Moskowitz and Brothman came 11 months after the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. Moskowitz said many Americans were “hoodwinked” into believing that traitors had stolen the ultimate weapons and handed it to our enemies—only a few years after the Soviets were our admired allies and played the crucial role in defeating the Nazis in World War II.
Moskowitz said the allegations were “nonsensical.” The bomb was so complex that “you couldn’t steal [it] if you wanted to.” She credits Soviet physicists, “among the most respected in the world,” with getting the bomb. “They did it themselves,” she said in an interview with the Law Journal in her lawyers’ Rockefeller Center offices.
In any case, neither Moskowitz nor Brothman were charged with espionage. Brothman was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice because he and his associate, Harry Gold, an acknowledged courier for Soviet spy rings, discussed how to keep their stories straight before the grand jury. Moskowitz was charged with conspiracy for allegedly being present and failing to notify the government about their plans.
Moskowitz denies the accusation; she says that Gold hated her and lied at her trial—changing the story he had told only four months before—to escape punishment for his own activities. She scoffed that the government went after her because “I was a woman. They wanted a Mata Hari.”
Moskowitz did not testify before the grand jury or at trial because she said she was having an affair with Brothman and was afraid that information would come out.
With the paranoia of the McCarthy era seeping into the courtroom, the jury convicted both Moskowitz, then 34, and Brothman of the charges against them. Gold was the only witness against Moskowitz.
Only a few months after Moskowitz’s arrest, the government began its prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage, which ended in their executions. Then-Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Roy Cohn said in his autobiography that the cases of Moskowitz and Brothman were a “dry run” for the later case—with the same judge, Southern District Judge Irving Kaufman; the same head prosecutor, Irving Saypol, who was assisted by Cohen; and many of the same witnesses.
Moskowitz served two years in the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, W. Va., and paid a $10,000 fine, roughly equivalent to $100,000 today.
“I survived,” Moskowitz said of her prison experience. “I knew it wasn’t going to last forever.”
However, she said in a book written recently that she had to tread carefully because there was an “undertone of hostility” toward her on the part of guards. “I was that insufferable, quintessential outsider, a Jew,” and a disloyal one at that.
However, she said the prison routine became more bearable when the officer in charge of the prison’s music program loaned her a violin.
Meanwhile, she composed detailed letters to relatives about what was happening to her. She thought she would need the information she included to research a book she planned to write.
Away from Brothman, she said she could “think clearly and make a decision.” She realized their relationship was “evil and wrong, and it was what upended my life.”
When she was released, Moskowitz got a job in public relations. But she said that FBI harassment and her own notoriety cut short that career. Falling back on her degree from City College of New York, she became a teacher.
“The entire course of my life has been affected by my conviction,” said Moskowitz, who never married or had children.
For years, she did not talk about her past; “it lay buried.” She put the book project aside because teaching was a demanding job and took up a lot of time. What time was left, she spent on her music.
She took up her book project again when she retired and her deteriorating eyesight made it hard to read musical notes.
The book, which was published as “Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice” in 2010, took 10 years to write. During that time she obtained FBI reports and secret grand jury testimony, disclosing that Gold gave a very different account than in his trial testimony.
A transcript of grand jury testimony in the Brothman-Moskowitz case was unsealed in 2008 by Hellerstein, part of a larger trove of documents sought by National Security Archive of the George Washington University, several organizations of historians and New York Times reporter Sam Roberts.
Moskowitz hoped that “Phantom Spies” would “do something, but “it’s a book, nothing more than a book. It doesn’t get into court. It doesn’t get into the hands of a judge.”
Enter Baker Botts
Eddon met Moskowitz more than 20 years ago in New Jersey, when he played the cello and the viola in a local ensemble. He didn’t know anything about her past until 2010 when he read a blurb about her book in The New Yorker.
Earlier this year, he read about a rare form of legal relief—a writ of error coram nobis—granted by Eastern District Judge I. Leo Glasser (NYLJ, July 7). Eddon thought the device offered hope of vindication for Moskowitz, and Baker Botts agreed to represent her.
Having never filed this type of request, Eddon has logged roughly 75 hours since early July exploring the case law, reading FBI reports and transcripts and searching for original documents stored in Washington, D.C., and the Columbia Law School library.
“[Guy] personally cares about the results of this petition,” said Maier, who has logged nearly 20 hours. “He has a stake in it and he’s trying to right a wrong … all that makes it more compelling.”
A petitioner for coram relief must show 1) that under the circumstances it is necessary to achieve justice; 2) sound reasons exist for failure to seek appropriate relief earlier; and 3) the petitioner continues to suffer legal consequences from her conviction that may be alleviated by the granting of the writ. Foont v. United States, 93 F.3d 76 (2nd Cir. 1996).
On Aug. 11, only a few months after Baker Botts had taken on Moskowitz as a client, her legal team filed a coram petition, branding her conviction as a “profound injustice” and a “fundamental error,”Moskowitz v. United States of America, 14 cv 6389.
“She’s 98 years old,” said Eddson. “We didn’t want to waste any time.”
The filing states that, based on evidence hidden from the defense for more than 60 years, both Brothman and Gold told FBI agents and the grand jury that Moskowitz was never part of a conspiracy to lie to the grand jury.
The petition argues that had the jury known about this previous testimony, “no reasonable jury could have believed Gold’s later testimony against Moskowitz.”
Further, the petition states, “Throughout the trial, in myriad ways that would be unfathomable today, the judge and the prosecutors revealed their political bias and motivation.”
During voir dire, Kaufman asked potential jurors whether any were prejudiced against the House Un-American Activities Committee or supported the Communist Party.
Kaufman allowed the prosecution to read large swaths of Gold’s grand jury into evidence, over defense attorney William Kleinman’s protest that he had been given no opportunity to review it.
Prosecutor Saypol said in his closing statement that the obstruction of justice at issue “was perpetrated to retard an investigation of espionage to conceal the activities of these parties on behalf of the Soviet Union.”
Kaufman thanked the jurors for their verdict against defendants he suggested had attempted “to undermine the very backbone of our country.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed Brothman’s conviction on the substantive obstruction charge while upholding the conspiracy convictions of him and Moskowitz. United States v. Brothman, 191 F.2d 70.
“As it stands, Miriam Moskowitz is a convicted felon, while the criminality of the underlying conduct has been strongly challenged” her filing says.
Eddon acknowledged in an interview that obtaining coram relief “always is a tough road to climb.”
A Lexis search of 51 coram decisions within the last two years in federal courts nationwide found only three instances in which petitions had been granted. The Glasser decision is being appealed by the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Eddon said that he has explained the odds to his client frankly, but she remains optimistic.
A ruling in her favor “is inevitable if I get a judge who is sympathetic and has read the trial record and says, ‘I can’t believe this happened. ‘I can’t believe Judge Kaufman allowed this. I can’t believe the prosecutor'” made the prejudicial comments that he did, she said.
Moskowitz’s trip to federal court Monday was her first in more than 64 years.
“I have to confess that I have the same butterflies today that I had the last time,” she said. “That feeling of, ‘What are these people talking about? What are they saying?’ The routine [of the court proceedings] was so prescribed and orderly that it never seemed like it was really happening until we got further into the trial.”
During the brief conference, Hellerstein jokingly referred to a Jewish tradition that holds no one can aspire to more than 120 years of life because that’s how long Moses lived.
However, Hellerstein said several times that he wanted to move quickly, establishing a schedule under which the government’s response is due Oct. 1, Moskowitz’s reply is due Oct. 14 and a hearing will be held Nov. 4.
Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Allen told the judge that, “It’s still [too] early” to say how the government will respond to the petition. But he added that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not need any witness testimony, and no facts are in dispute, so they don’t anticipate a need for discovery.
Sitting with her lawyers, Moskowitz watched the proceedings attentively but had trouble hearing. Hellerstein stopped every few minutes to allow Eddon to lean over and loudly explain what was happening. The judge said a real time transcriptionist would be on hand for the next hearing to allow her to follow on a screen.
Kaufman died in 1992, and Moskowitz watched from across the street as his body was carried into the synagogue for a funeral.
She recounts in her book how, seizing the chance to confront her nemesis, she improvised a lengthy silent curse in which she said that his name “is etched on the tablets of history by the acid of your inhumanity. It has become the vilest of curses, and anathema, an execration for the ages.”
Decades later, Moskowitz said she is not bitter, but “I am still angry.”
It’s still happening …. Read about The New McCarthyism HERE