Aletho News


Five Australian Unions Support BDS of Israel

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) – 16 November 2010

Five Australian unions have joined the international campaign advocating the boycott of Israeli goods from the occupied West Bank.


The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union passed a resolution in late October supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, reported the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Peter Tighe, national secretary of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, told The Australian newspaper, “We are not anti-Jewish, we just think the human misery over there is outrageous.”

Tighe plans to take a resolution to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the nation’s top union body, endorsing the boycott, according to the JTA.

The union’s announcement came just before Palestine solidarity activists gathered in Melbourne for Australia’s first national BDS conference. Around 100 activists from across Australia participated in the conference, held from October 29-31, during which they worked to establish a national agenda for the BDS campaign, coordinated actions, and participated in workshops and sector-based discussion.

Palestinian artist and activist Rafeef Ziadah was one of the main speakers at the conference.

“There was so much enthusiasm and dedication from the various Palestine solidarity groups. People really put differences aside and decided to work together in a non-sectarian way”, she told Green Left Weekly.

The conference adopted a four-stage calendar of actions for the BDS campaign, including a Christmas consumer boycott campaign, campus actions for the international Israeli Apartheid Week coinciding with Palestinian Land Day on March 30, and other actions coinciding with al-Nakba (the anniversary of the Palestinian expulsion from Israel in 1948) on May 15 and another in late September, reported Green Left.

“The vote on beginning a coordinated BDS campaign across many cities in Australia is … a terrific starting point. [It’s] really what this conference was about, bringing BDS work together and coordinating it,” said Ziadah.

“Getting activists in Australian cities talking about Israel as an apartheid state is a great achievement. The international BDS movement is only five years old, yet already we have students and trade unionists and people from different walks of life working together,” she added, saying, “The key now is doing the rank-and-file education and taking BDS actions.”

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 3 Comments

Settlements Wiping Out Natural Life in the Jordan Valley

Mazim Qumsiyeh | 18 November 2010

We spent two days in the Auja area north of Jericho on a field trip to survey what remains of the animals and plants in one of hundreds of areas directly devastated by Israeli occupation policies. Our host and guide was Mubarak Zawahra, a father of seven young children who lives near Bethlehem but his mother and many of his brothers live in the Jordan valley.

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The path of Wadi Auja spring, now dry

Before their lives were restricted and devastated by the occupation they usually held two locations (one for the winter months and one for the summer months). They relied on their flocks of sheep and goats that they grazed in the wide open areas around the two locations. They also raised pigeons and chickens and occasionally planted crops.

Mubarak’s father was so successful at what he did that at one point he and his 16 children had over 1000 heads of sheep and goats. It was very hard work. Their life meant covering many miles every day to reduce overgrazing. Spending over 12 hours daily walking rough terrains, Bedouins come to know every path, wadi, tree and cave over vast areas. Their encyclopedic knowledge of their surroundings is astounding. They have stories to tell you about every feature of their landscape, every animal and every plant. Even as a seasoned biologist, I always learn new things about nature from going out with Bedouins. They have unique names even for the different species of desert land snails. They can tell you of natural treatments to different maladies.

While Bedouin life was difficult, it was a life that functioned in harmony with nature for thousands of years. Their generousity and kindness to strangers is legendary. Disputes were mostly solved by traditional tribal laws. The fields were not overgrazed and nature was left unspoiled. Tranquillity prevailed as Mubarak told me in the evening after a very hard day of work in the fields. The best time was to sit after a meal, drink strong sweet tea seasoned with wild mint surrounded by loved ones and look at clear skies dotted with brilliant stars.

That life is slowly ending. The Zawahra’s saga is just an example. Colonial Jewish settlements in two main locations of the Zawahra’s domain (in the hills around Bethlehem and in the Jordan valley) have made it impossible for the Zawahras to continue the Bedouin way of life. In the Bethlehem district, Israeli colonies, security zones, and army bases now control the vast majority of the rich lands. The remaining land is basically the developed Palestinian areas with few open areas. With less than 5% of the open range areas of the Bethlehem district left available for grazing, the effects have been devastating. Animal numbers have decreased significantly (while the human population has tripled in the past 45 years), and overgrazing has had an appalling ecological effect.

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An illegal Israeli colony near the village of Al-Auja.

It is sad to compare biodiversity in the Bethlehem area today with what I saw 40 years ago. Many animal and plant species can no longer be found in the hills of Bethlehem. Some areas are so barren that the only living animals I can see in the late summer and fall months are humans, goats (more hardy than sheep), and flies. 40 years ago, I could show you at least 40 species in two hours.

The second domain of the Zawahras is in the Jordan valley a few kilometres north of Jericho in the Wadi Auja area. Until recently, this valley had until a water flow year round estimated at 9 million cubic meters coming from the hills near Ramallah and flowing into the Jordan valley to feed the river Jordan. It made a beautiful oasis that attracted thousands of visitors year round for recreation. Downstream, agriculture flourished. Farms had been established and the tranquil village of Auja with 7000 Christian, Muslim and Bedouin farmers living comfortably.

My schoolmate Imad Mukarkar took me to his family farm there when we were in high school 35 years ago and I remember bountiful citrus fruit, bananas and vegetables of all kinds. On Tuesday night as we stretched nets to catch bats with his brother Khalid who is struggling to maintain the family farm. He explained how even the well water he relied on is decreasing in output both in quality and quantity while the settlers nearby have unlimited water to grow corn and even watermelons. A way of life is slowly being squeezed for the Palestinians and created for colonial settlers. These settlers looking for short term gains have no clue about the long term consequences of their policies.

Stealing water via pipes at the hills and bringing it to the Jewish settlements dried up the natural flow of water in Wadi Auja. The oasis is no longer an oasis. The valley now has water only in the brief rainy season (two months at best). The crisis of water is so desperate that winter rain runoff is collected via a dam, adding to the changes created by the Israeli water theft. Desertification has thus accelerated. The rich valley fauna and flora was devastated. We did manage to record three species of scorpions, two species of bats, spiny mice, five species of birds, two lizards, a desert fox, and struggling desert trees and shrubs. We were interrupted once by an Israeli military patrol who wanted to know what we were doing and seemed bemused by our scorpions. One soldier stated that they kill many of them. I did not want to argue but I did think in my mind that scorpions are preferable to some people since they kill only for food or to defend themselves.

Comparing field work now and three decades ago, we can see dramatic differences. For example I distinctly recall seeing over 20 species of birds seen in one morning. Now we find no frogs, an important environmental indicator, when there used to be plenty. The loss of biodiversity meant a loss of livelihood for the native Palestinians who live in this area. The Zawahra family who had hundreds of sheep and goats now have few animals and struggle to find menial jobs to make a living. Farmers like Khalid Mukarker who used to get plentiful agricultural produce have seen their costs quadruple and their output decline. Local animals and plants lost are irreplaceable.

The quality of water and air deteriorates each year, which will make it eventually impossible even for the colonial settlers to continue to live here. Short term political thinking of Zionists once again trumps long term planning. There is clearly a heavy economic and ecological cost of colonialism. Urgent studies and documentation are needed for areas like Al-Auja and increased activism to end this colonial occupation as quickly as possible. Time is not on our (human) side. Very soon, the damages done to the environment will make life impossible for all of us (Jews, Christians, Muslims, other animals, and plants) in this (un)holy Land.

Thanks to Mubarak, his family, my wife, my student Michael and his brother Majd for help in making this trip successful.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Settlements Wiping Out Natural Life in the Jordan Valley

‘I am strong. We resist’: An interview in the village of Jeb al Theeb

By The volunteers of the Harvesting Peace Project | Mondoweiss | November 18, 2010

Sitting in one of the houses of Jeb al Theeb, a small village south of Bethlehem, a Palestinian woman describes the living conditions. She is a teacher but in the darkness it is difficult to determine her age. Her home, just as the entire village, is without electricity. The only light that arrives comes from the mega-illumination of the adjacent settlements of El David, Nokdim, and Sde bar.

Can you tell us more about life here in the village?

Jeb al Theeb is a simple Palestinian village inhabited by 150 people, most of whom are young. We don’t have many older people here. The village lacks all types of basic infrastructure and the only roads are unsuitable for cars, forcing the people to travel on foot. There is no school, the children must walk a long way to the nearest one, even in winter with the rains. We no longer have access to our land, shepherds cannot graze their sheep in the pastures and children cannot play in the fields. We have no electricity and therefore cannot use computers or television. The children are unable to study after school, and, as you can see, at 5pm it is already dark. Studying by candlelight creates problems with their eyesight.

A settler and the village of Jeb al Theeb in the background

We’re staying in a house nearby and we have electricity, as do other homes in the area. Why don’t you have it here?

The houses a little further away from the settlements are supplied with electricity simply because they do not represent a direct threat. Our village, on the other hand, is located right next to the Israeli settlements, whose strategy is clearly to deny us electricity as well as other basic necessities.

In addition to electricity, what other basic necessities are you denied?
They often shut off the water and also damage the pipes, which creates many difficulties for us. Water is already scarce here, then we are forced to ration what little we have stored in tanks.

Who do you call when there are problems with the water?
We are located in Area C, so we have no choice but to call the Israelis. They come but they do nothing, nothing ever changes. We have no faith in the Israeli authorities.

In recent months there has been much talk of construction and expansion of the settlements. Are you allowed to build?
Absolutely not. In addition to not being allowed to build or even complete work already begun, houses are demolished by the Israeli authorities. My brother’s house was destroyed.

The other day we saw a settler in a pickup truck enter the village. Do they come here often?
It is as if they live here. They do what they want, when they want.

Do they come to intimidate you? To scare you? To provoke you?
They come for all these reasons. Just the other day, as I walked to work early in the morning, I saw a settler turn a hundred of his goats on the olive trees belonging to a man near the village. The day before, that same man had defended his right to access his lands. The goats damaged both the trees and the olives.

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Abu Yassir, a villager in Jeb al Theeb who was attacked by a settler.

We’ve noticed that the settlers are armed. Do they ever attack people in the village?
Unfortunately, yes. One of the most serious cases was that of this elderly man beside me who was beaten with a stick and hit with stones for nothing more than attempting to graze his sheep on his land. As you can see, he suffered a deep wound to the head. He received no immediate treatment due to the isolation of the village. It was only later that he was taken to the hospital in Ramallah where he underwent surgery. Fortunately, he recovered fully.

Was the settler who attacked him prosecuted?
We called the Israeli authorities. They came and wrote a report of the incident, but they did not take any action. It is clear that there is collaboration between the settlers and the Israeli forces.

When was it that your village began to have problems?
More or less 15 years ago when they started to build settlements. As a child I remember playing in the fields, there were flowers in the spring.

How exactly were you informed that you could no longer access your land?
They came to us presenting an official government document, according to which, from that moment on, we were not allowed to enter our lands. The same document gave the settlers the right to shoot anyone who tried. They communicated this to us in person.

Who brought you the document? The IDF soldiers?

The Israeli civil authorities?
No, it was the settlers themselves. As you know, they receive orders from above. The government also provides them with a series of incentives that help them economically. They have sheep, tractors, horses and camels, they have everything.

Now that you can no longer access your land, what is its current status?
I think the settlers go there to take our olives. They certainly take their sheep there to graze, and they eat the leaves and the olives off the trees.

What is that large metal building we see a few hundred meters from here?
It is a plant producing fertilizer that was built two years ago. As you may have noticed it also produces a horrible smell not to mention the fumes coming from its smokestacks. We shut the windows and doors to our houses but the smoke still gets in. Furthermore, it is dealing with chemical substances that cause serious health problems, especially for our children.

Do you think is was located here on purpose?
Maybe. One thing is certain, they don’t not care about us. They just want us to leave and will be happy when we do so.

And have people left the village?
As you can see, there are many houses that have been abandoned by their owners who were tired of the continual harassment and hardships they endured. Life here is impossible. How can it be that in the 21st century we are forced to live without electricity? We don’t have internet, we cannot send email, children cannot watch cartoons on TV.

But I’m not leaving. I could certainly have a more comfortable life elsewhere, but this is where my family is, this is my land. I remain also to keep hope alive.

I am strong. We resist.

Interview by the volunteers of the Harvesting Peace Project

Harvesting Peace is an Italian civilian peace intervention project in Palestine to support the olive harvest and the work of Popular Struggle Coordination Committee ( The project is promoted by Service Civil International – Italy, Association for Peace and Un Ponte Per. Volunteers provide international accompaniment for four weeks in the village of Jeb al Theeb near Bethlehem, under threat from the nearby illegal settlements and settlers.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on ‘I am strong. We resist’: An interview in the village of Jeb al Theeb

13 activists detained during volunteer work

Ma’an – 18/11/2010
Israeli soldiers scuffle with human rights activists on the outskirts of the West Bank
village of Beit Ummar near Hebron on July 18, 2009 [MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz]

HEBRON — Thirteen activists from a group of 30 were detained by Israeli forces Thursday afternoon while aiding local farmers whose land is set for confiscation by an adjacent settlement, locals from the village of Saffa reported.

Early Thursday morning officials said the activists were escorted to lands belonging to Sheik Mohammad Aady, reportedly slated for annexation the Bat Ayin settlement.

A statement by event organizers said that after half an hour of work, soldiers surrounded the group of volunteers and detained several, including seven Israeli activists.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the arrests, but said she could not comment on the reasons for the detentions.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on 13 activists detained during volunteer work

Protesting the Hebron Fund, I remember a long afternoon at a segregated swimming hole

By Seán O’Neill | Mondoweiss | November 18, 2010
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(Protesters in New York. Photo: Vanissa W. Chan)

Hebron Fund held its annual fundraiser in New York Tuesday night. A report from O’Neill, a former member of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the South Hebron Hills, who attended the protest:

I was just leaving Hebron’s Old City one day in August 2009 when a friend of mine, Hamzi, invited me to go swimming.

He and a few other guys were going for a dip in Abraham’s Well, an ancient spring located in Tel Rumeida, essentially the only neighborhood in the West Bank city where Palestinians and Israeli settlers physically encounter one another on a daily basis.

Whereas in the Old City a complex system of barricades, roadblocks, and checkpoints keeps Palestinians caged in and under the settlement pockets, in Tel Rumeida there is some level of mutual access, albeit unequal and under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers.

It was a hot, sticky day, and the thought of taking a dip in the cool undeground waters of Abraham’s Well sounded superb.  After a long circuitous route, unable to cross Shuhada St., Hebron’s main thoroughfare banned from use by Palestinians, we reached an olive grove just above the well.  In our enthusiasm, we didn’t notice the four Israeli soldiers sitting above it until they came running, screaming at us, rifles aimed in our direction.  Hamzi explained that we were just on our way down to swim.  The soldiers replied that there were a couple Jewish girls there swimming, so we’d have to wait.  We began to sit down in the shade of the olive tree next to the soldiers when a soldier began yelling again, shooing us with his free hand, indicating that we were too close.

“He acts like were dogs,” Hamzi muttered to himself as we moved back a few trees.

Occasionally we would crane our necks over the terraced rocks to see if the girls were leaving yet.  Noticing this, the soldier berated us again, instructing us to face the other direction, so as not to offend the young women, who by now, done swimming, were having a picnic next to the well.  Hamzi and the others stared for a moment, absorbing this latest humiliation, before turning away, powerless.  We sat there for about an hour in the midday heat, sweating profusely, debating whether it was worth the wait.  Finally one of us, sneaking a look, noticed the girls leaving.  We jumped up happily and asked the soldiers if we could now swim.

“No,” one said.  “There’s someone else coming.”  Indeed, two young Jewish boys had now approached the well and began to disrobe.

“But we’ve been here over an hour,” Hamzi protested.  “It’s a hot day.  If we have to wait for every Jew in Hebron to swim we’ll never get a turn.”

“Maybe not,” the soldier said, matter-of-factly.

And so we left, hot and irritated.  There wasn’t a physical attack or a home bulldozed.  No one was arrested or tear gassed.  Just another of the thousand daily humiliations that is apartheid Hebron.  That was the last day I was in Hebron, and the last time I saw Hamzi, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  Shortly thereafter I flew home for a visit and returning a month later discovered I had been banned from re-entry.

Tuesday night in New York was windy, cold and dark, a far cry from that blistering day in August.  Strange in a way to think that the men and women in suits and gowns at Chelsea Piers making their way to a dinner cruise on the Hudson River had any connection at all to that conflicted place thousands of miles away.  Hamzi and some 160,000 Palestinians in Hebron settled down to bed after celebrating another Eid al Adha in the grip of a suffocating occupation.

Here in New York husbands and wives and their families parked their cars and walked breezily past the indoor soccer fields to a feast of their own, making tax-exempt donations to bankroll Hamzi’s oppression.  Tuesday night was the annual dinner of the Hebron Fund, founded in 1979 to raise money for the Hebron settlements.  According to the Washington Post, the Hebron Fund and similar organizations have donated $33.4 million since 2004 to the settlement enterprise.  Settlements, keep in mind, are illegal according to international law.

This year’s dinner, held on a boat, was styled as the Hebron Aid Flotilla, a perverse celebration of the murder of nine human rights activists by Israeli commandos on the flotilla to Gaza this past May.

The event, however, did not go unnoticed.  A couple hundred people gathered at the piers’ entrance in not one, but two protests.  On the one hand was a coalition of Palestinian, Jewish, and anti-occupation groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Women in Black, Code Pink, and Adalah NY, among others.  They stood in a mostly silent vigil with signs reading “End the Siege of Hebron”, “Remove the Settlers”, and “Free Gaza”.

On the other, about 40 feet away, was a protest staged by J Street U, the college branch of the advocacy group which styles itself as pro-Israel, pro-peace.  They held Israeli flags and lamented the settlements as an obstacle to a two-state solution.  A participant in the J Street protest, Moriel Rothman said of the two protests, “I think that we’re working in parallel.  Ultimately we probably want similar things but have different tactics in how to get there.”

An attendee of the fundraiser, who chose to remain anonymous, brushed the protests off, saying, “If you look at the amount of energy that goes into protesting Jewish misconduct, it is disproportionate.  The world holds Jews to a higher standard.”  He added, referring to the Jewish protesters, “They are introspective.  You very seldom see that amongst the Palestinians.”

My first thought at seeing the two different protests was one of dismay.  Had the ideology of separation reared its ugly head even here, among the dissenters?  On second thought however, in a context in which meaningful dissent has been muffled for so long, a bit of pluralism may not be bad.  The groups didn’t agree on tactics, or symbols, or what a solution to the conflict will look like.  However, if there is an emerging consensus that the Hebron settlements, at least, are beyond the pale, that on a hot summer day Palestinian residents shouldn’t have to navigate around Jew-only roads to find that the well is closed to Arabs, that just might be progress.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Protesting the Hebron Fund, I remember a long afternoon at a segregated swimming hole

Rape Story – Phillip D. Zelikow… 911 Myth Maker

By Andrew | Rense | 10-12-7

When you ask people to revisit the events of 9/11 and reconsider what really happened, you enter the twilight zone of public mythology where people don’t want to rethink unhappy events and where you challenge their personal egos. Did you know that for the same reason that 2/3 of the women raped never report it, 2/3 of the victims of fraud never seek redress either? They find themselves at odds with their own egos; they simply don’t want to admit that they have been so violated or duped. I believe that the story of Philip Zelikow is important to help people beyond their own egos and see how America is being raped.

Most people have never heard of Philip D. Zelikow, but he is best known as the executive director of the 9/11 Commission. He basically wrote the 9/11 Commission Report. Immediately prior to Bush appointing him to head the 9/11 Commission, Zelikow was the executive director of the little known Aspen Strategy Group whose members include Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rica, and Paul Wolfowitz. Although most people don’t know anything about Zelikow, they recognize Cheney, Rice and Wolfowitz as the Neoconservatives most responsible for stampeding America into the current unfortunate conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Zelikow’s record gets really interesting when we consider that he went on to write the 9/11 Commission Report. He earned a law degree from the University of Houston Law School and a Ph. D. from Tufts University. He wrote books too. He wrote a book on The Kennedy Tapes, and another on Why People Don’t Trust Government. One of his areas of expertise is PUBLIC MYTHOLOGY.

While at Harvard he actually wrote about the use, and misuse, of history in policymaking. As he noted in his own words, “contemporary” history is “defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public’s presumptions about its immediate past. The idea of ‘public presumption’,” he explained, “is akin to [the] notion of ‘public myth’ but without the negative implication sometimes invoked by the word ‘myth.’ Such presumptions are beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.” So Zelikow, the guy who wrote The 9/11 Commission Report, was an expert in how to misuse public trust and create PUBLIC MYTHS.

If 9/11 was nothing but a huge HOAX, you would naturally expect that the event itself would have to be perfectly scripted.

In 1998, Zelikow actually wrote Catastrophic Terrorism about imagining “the transformative event” three years before 9/11. Here are Zelikow’s 1998 words; Readers should imagine the possibilities for themselves, because the most serious constraint on current policy [nonaggression] is lack of imagination. An act of catastrophic terrorism that killed thousands or tens of thousands of people and/or disrupted the necessities of life for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, would be a watershed event in America’s history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented for peacetime and undermine Americans’ fundamental sense of security within their own borders in a manner akin to the 1949 Soviet atomic bomb test, or perhaps even worse. Constitutional liberties would be challenged as the United States sought to protect itself from further attacks by pressing against allowable limits in surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects, and the use of deadly force. More violence would follow, either as other terrorists seek to imitate this great “success” or as the United States strikes out at those considered responsible. Like Pearl Harbor, such an event would divide our past and future into a “before” and “after.” The effort and resources we devote to averting or containing this threat now, in the “before” period, will seem woeful, even pathetic, when compared to what will happen “after.” Our leaders will be judged negligent for not addressing catastrophic terrorism more urgently.

If we can get people to see that the guy who wrote The 9/11 Commission Report got his Ph.D. in PUBLIC MYTHS and actually had his hand in scripting the 9/11 event itself in 1998, they might be more receptive to the idea that the official story of 9/11 should be revisited.

The other problem is getting them to look again at an unhappy event. Don’t show them the unhappy pictures or the long videos of planes crashing into the WTC Towers or of the Towers collapsing. Instead show them short videos of what the first reporters said immediately after the explosions at the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


On September 11, 2001, the immediate reports on the ground told the truth. I think most people can see that it was later that the myth-makers retold the myth the way Zelikow scripted it to be remembered. This may be 2007, but when we consider the power of mythology the psychology of the average man hasn’t changed in 4000 years. And when everyone in the political community believes the same myth, it becomes a parallel reality. With TV reinforcing the 9/11 myth every single day, it has become stronger than any belief system that I can remember, but we must explore ways to challenge it.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 3 Comments

Israeli Police Commander To TV News Director: ‘We Know Where You Live, Will Lie In Wait For You’

By Richard Silverstein | Eurasia Review | 16 November 2010

Israel is a democracy, right?  That’s what all the press releases say, don’t they?   But I wonder how those who praise said democracy to the skies manage to reconcile that with horror stories like the ones I’m about the recount.

Israel’s Channel 10 News ran a series on police violence and abuse.  It featured incidents between citizens and police officers which escalated into extreme violence.  Before it aired the national deputy police commander called the news director, Reudor Benziman, and threatened him and his staff with violence if it wasn’t cancelled.  In fact, this very threat should be investigated as a violation of the law.  When Benziman declined, the officer bellowed:

We too can act against you.  We know where your studios are and your personal vehicles and we can [lie in] wait for you.

The police also refused to provide any statistics to the station for its report including the number of complaints filed and those found to be justified (presumably this is publicly accessible information required to be made available by the police–which would make the refusal an act of mere petulance).  Local police commanders also routinely refuse to allow access to any of the Channel’s reporters.

Lest you doubt the level of violence of which these people are capable, listen to the police “explanation” of its behavior:

It’s already been a half-year since the Channel began a shameful, partisan campaign to recruit citizens and amass material against those who uphold the law.  The fantastical complaints raised by the news reports of alleged threats [by the police] reflect the level of journalistic integrity of the entire project…

Israeli police officers receive the unconditional backing of the national command for the full-fledged use of force as permitted by law.  In a nation that functions properly, the law-abiding citizenry stands beside its police and not against them.

This reminds me so well of the response by Dick Cheney to the civil liberties whiners who complained about the civil liberties violations brought on by the USA Patriot Act: no one who obeys the law has anything to worry about; only those who break the law will be affected by it.  Except that didn’t turn out to be true and never does in a police state.  The innocent are as likely to be dredged up from the sea bottom as the guilty.  And the innocent are treated no differently than the guilty.  In fact, because of the presumption of guilt in such cases, the innocent find it difficult, if not impossible to prove their innocence.

You’ll notice in the passage quoted above that the police have stabbed two targets at once.  They’ve smeared the Israeli media as being not only their enemy, but in effect an enemy of the state (because who do the police represent if not the state?).  Alongside the media, those citizens who register complaints against the police are in effect on the side of criminals (and certainly little better than them).

The sentiment above is confirmed by this Haaretz report on a Knesset hearing at which the boss of the police bully above testified about the record of police abuse and violence against the said citizenry:

Police Commissioner David Cohen…appearing before the State Control Committee, spent much of the meeting speaking out against critics that have alleged a pattern of abuses by the Israel Police. He said the organization “works with its head, not with its hands.”

…The police commissioner expressed outrage that citizens who have complained of police violence were allowed to attend the meeting, saying “they shouldn’t be here.” Committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson told Cohen they could not be barred from attending.

This is the nation’s top police officer appointed, as one of my Israel apologist commenters tutored me recently, by democratically-elected representatives, who himself doesn’t believe in democracy.  The state police chief believes no citizens who complain about the police should be allowed to attend a public hearing about the police.  Once again, he feels these citizens are offenders who should be barred and that their very complaints are an act of disloyalty against the police and by extension, the state.  Apparently, the only citizens who should be allowed to scrutinize the police are those who approve of the job he’s doing.  As the old song lyrics go: “Nice work if you can get it.”

As I wrote here recently, the police are a state unto themselves.  They run roughshod over those they are sworn to protect.  They face virtually no public control as this salient passage from the Haaretz story reveals:

The Justice Ministry has never run an internal inquiry into the operation of the department, according to presenters at the meeting. The State Comptroller’s office looked into the department’s work in 2005

The Israeli equivalent of the U.S. Justice Department has never run an internal inquiry into the actions of the national police force.  The State Comptroller last reviewed its work five years ago.  Think about that.  Who polices the police?  In Israel?  No one.  Just as no one polices the intelligence agencies nor the IDF.  Which is why the claim that Israel is a democracy is so completely divorced from the everyday reality.  When you are an Israeli and you encounter naked police power and aggression you might as well be walking down a Mississippi highway in the dark circa 1962.  They will do with you what they will.   And you will thank them for it.  If not, you might end up wedged in an Israeli equivalent of an earthen dam.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | 6 Comments

FBI Pushes For Expanded Wiretapping Capabilities

ACLU | November 17, 2010

WASHINGTON – According to a report in The New York Times today, the FBI is lobbying technological companies including Google and Facebook to win support for an Obama administration proposal to expand its Internet wiretapping capabilities. The administration is urging Congress to revise the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), claiming that law enforcement needs to keep pace with technological changes. The original law, passed in 1994, compels telecommunications and broadband companies to make their services wiretap-ready.

Today’s report states that the administration is hoping to submit proposed legislation to Congress early next year to overhaul CALEA in order to ensure telecommunications companies’ networks can be wiretapped as soon as they receive a government order. According to today’s report, the proposal could also mandate that any communications service based overseas ensure its communications are routed through an American server so that the government is able to collect and wiretap those communications.

The American Civil Liberties Union warned that the administration’s proposal could grant the government the means for extensive surveillance and is urging Congress to reject any proposal that does not protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“It is important to realize that this proposal isn’t simply applying the same sort of wiretap system we have for phones to the Internet; it would require reconfiguring and changing the nature of the Internet. We remain very concerned that this proposal is a clear recipe for abuse and will make it that much easier for the government to gain access to our most personal information. Americans should not simply surrender their privacy and other fundamental values in the name of national security. We strongly encourage Congress to not simply rubberstamp this proposal that will grant the government the ability to conduct broad surveillance on innocent Americans.”

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on FBI Pushes For Expanded Wiretapping Capabilities

British Defense Chief: 30 to 40 Years of Afghanistan Occupation Ahead

The New American | November 17, 2010

The foreign policy bait-and-switch continues. First, President Barack Obama declared the end of combat in Iraq, withdrawing some U.S. troops but leaving many others behind, possibly for decades, and redefining their role as “advise and assist” — whereupon they continued engaging in combat. Now, with Obama having publicly stated his intent to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next July, both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus are arguing for a long-term, if not permanent, U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

On top of that, British Defense Chief Gen. Sir David Richards, echoing their sentiments, has stated that “Nato now needs to plan for a 30 or 40 year role to help the Afghan armed forces hold their country against the militants,” according to the Daily Mail, though he “stuck to the government’s plans to withdraw combat troops by 2014 but made clear that thousands of troops will be needed long after that date.”

In an interview on November 14, Richards said, “Everyone is clear that we will have to remains [sic] a lot longer than” four to five years. “The plans,” he added, “are now in place to do that” and will be made “rather clearer” at the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon.

Richards correctly argued that the Taliban and al-Qaeda cannot be defeated militarily and that victory cannot be declared by “marching into another nation’s capital,” as in conventional warfare. These organizations, after all, are loosely organized and have no command center that can be neutralized. However, he contended, victory over Islamic terrorism in the traditional sense “is unnecessary and would never be achieved. But we can [sic] contain it to the point that our lives and our children’s lives are led securely? I think we can.”

The problem is that Richards, along with most other members of the government and media elite, believes that continued intervention in Afghanistan by foreign countries is the best way to go about containing terrorism. Therefore, in his opinion, U.S. and British forces must remain in Afghanistan for “generations,” albeit under the rubric of assistance rather than combat. Richards, writes the Mail, “said that there would need to be more support for the military from political, diplomatic and international aid efforts if the effort is to succeed.” (He did allow for the possibility of negotiating with some Taliban members, an option that the Obama administration has opposed.)

The idea that Islamic terrorism is, in large measure, a response to foreign intervention in Muslim countries seems never to have crossed Richards’ mind; but then such thoughts are anathema to a political establishment with an enormously inflated opinion of its own benevolence and effectiveness. Rare indeed is the politician or pundit who suggests that his own government ought to maintain “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none,” as Thomas Jefferson counseled. When one does make such a suggestion, he can expect to be shouted down with charges of “isolationism.”

Thus, both British and American officials, regardless of political affiliation, are playing along with the charade of ending combat while continuing to station troops in volatile regions and of stamping out terrorism by prolonging the conditions that incite it. In Britain, Prime Minster David Cameron of the Conservative Party “has recently moderated [his] stance” toward withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next year in response to Richards’ and Petraeus’ assertions that “it may be 2012 before there can be any significant draw down of frontline forces,” says the Mail. Likewise, the paper reported that the Labor Party’s shadow defense secretary, Jim Murphy, “said Gen Richards was ‘right’ that there was no purely military solution and said there would be ‘no white flag surrender moment.’ He added: ‘It will be for the long haul.’ ”

On this side of the Atlantic, Obama himself “is going to make a public announcement of the US government’s official abandonment of the July 2011 date and the new 2014 ‘target’ for the war effort’s transition to Afghan control,” according to’s Jason Ditz, who adds that “Obama will be vowing an ‘enduring presence’ in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 date.”

It appears, then, that Afghanistan (and Iraq) will be occupied by foreign troops for years to come, costing American and British taxpayers a hefty sum and increasing, rather than decreasing, the chances of terrorism against those same taxpayers. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion; and just this summer CIA Director Leon Panetta estimated there were no more than 100 al-Qaeda militants in all of Afghanistan. At the same time, NATO is spending an estimated $50 million for every Taliban member it kills in that same country. Surely there are better uses for this increasingly scarce money, such as in paying down both governments’ astronomical debts. Bringing the troops home, cutting the defense budget down to what is needed strictly to defend our actual territory, and eliminating foreign aid and other intervention will do far more for our pocketbooks and our security than another 40 years’ worth of futile — and, from the American perspective, unconstitutional — intervention.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on British Defense Chief: 30 to 40 Years of Afghanistan Occupation Ahead