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Israeli President Applauds Shin Bet Chemist Doing “God’s Work” Developing Chemical Weapons for Assassinations

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | May 25, 2016

The Israeli settler publication, Arutz 7, reported that the Shin Bet gave special merit awards to personnel who excelled in their work.  The prime minister and president both attended a ceremony at the President’s House. Pres. Rivlin praised the Shin Bet efforts as “God’s work.”  Among those applauded was an assassin who uses chemical and biological weapons in his “creative efforts.”

“A.,” age 32, works as a chemist in the technology division.  The text declares that he heads a staff which develops capability for special “deterrence” (an Israeli intelligence euphemism for assassination), using advanced technological-operation methods.  He’s shown tremendous initiative and creativity by struggling to meet major challenges in the technology realm.  He’s thought to be the top of his field and a font of knowledge for numerous elements of the intelligence apparatus.  He’s even known as “Mr. Q” after the name of James Bond’s technology wizard.  A nickname which reflects his level of ingenuity and ability to transform something from the realm of the imagination into reality as far as Shabak operations are concerned.

An Israeli security source confirmed that A’s work involves assassinations, including this one Yossi Melman reported, involving the 2004 murder of a Hamas commander through food poisoning.

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

One year on: the Hares Boys

The Hares Boys | March 18, 2014

Occupied Palestine – Yesterday the Hares Boys, who are being charged with 20 counts of attempted murder with no evidence whatsoever, have been in an Israeli prison for one year. Now is more important than ever to fully understand the circumstances surrounding the unlawful arrest and imprisonment of Mohammad Suleiman, Ammar Souf, Mohammed Kleib, Tamer Souf, and Ali Shamlawi.

The car accident

At around 18:30 on Thursday 14 March 2013, a car crashed into the back of a truck on Road 5 in Salfit Governorate, occupied Palestine. The driver and her 3 daughters were injured, one of them – seriously. The driver, Adva Biton, was going back to the illegal Israeli settler colony of Yakir when the accident occurred. She later claimed the accident was due to Palestinian youth throwing stones at her car. The driver of the truck, having testified immediately after the accident that he had pulled over because of a flat tyre, later changed his mind and said he had seen stones by the road.

There were no witnesses to the car accident. Nobody had seen any children or youth throwing stones that day.

The arrests

In the early hours of Friday 15 March 2013, masked Israeli soldiers, some with attack dogs, stormed the village of Hares, which is close to Road 5. More than 50 soldiers broke the doors of the villagers’ houses, demanding the whereabouts of their teenage sons. Ten boys were arrested that night, blindfolded, handcuffed, and transferred to an unknown location. The families  were not informed of their sons’ alleged wrongdoings.

Two days later, a second wave of violent arrests took place. At around 3 o’clock in the morning,  the Israeli army, accompanied by the Shabak (the Israeli secret service), entered the homes of 3 Palestinian adolescents. They had a piece of paper with their names in Hebrew. After forcing all the family members into one room, taking away their phones so that they wouldn’t call for help, and interrogating them, the soldiers handcuffed their sons, all aged 16-17.

“Kiss and hug your mother goodbye,” a Shabak agent told one boy. “You may never see her again.”

A week later, Israeli army jeeps again entered the village and arrested several boys, who had just come back home from school. The soldiers lined all of them up, including a 6-year-old, and threatened at gunpoint their uncle who pleaded for the soldiers to at least release the youngest children. The army then randomly chose 3 boys, handcuffed them behind their backs, blindfolded them, and took them away. The families were not informed about either the allegations against their children, or their exact location.

In total, 19 boys from the neighbouring villages of Hares and Kifl Hares were arrested in relation to the settler car accident. None of them had previously had any history of stone-throwing. After violent interrogations, most of the minors were released, except for five, who remain in Megiddo, an Israeli adult prison.

These are the Hares Boys.

The interrogation

The arrested boys were subjected to a series of abuse and ill-treatment that accounts as torture. Upon detention, they were kept in solitary confinement  for up to two weeks. One boy, since released, described his cell: a windowless hole 1m wide and 2m long; there was no mattress or blanket to sleep on; toilet facilities were dirty; the six lights were kept on continuously, leading to the boy losing track of the time of the day; the food made him feel ill. The boy was denied lawyer; he was interrogated violently three times during three days, and eventually released after found not guilty at the trial.

Other boys have also told their lawyers of very similar treatment. They “confessed” of stone-throwing after being repeatedly abused in prison and during interrogations.

The charges 

The five boys from Hares are charged with 25 counts of attempted murder each, apparently 1 count for every alleged stone thrown at passing cars. The Israeli military prosecution insists that the boys consciously “intended to kill”; the boys can face the maximum punishment for attempted murder: 25 years to life imprisonment.

The prosecution’s case relies on the boys’ “confessions”, which have been obtained under torture, and 61 “witnesses,” some of which claim that their cars have been damaged by stones on that same day on Road 5. The latter only appeared after the car accident got a lot of media coverage as a “terrorist act”, and the Israeli prime minister Benyamin Natanyahu announced, after the boys’ arrest, that he “caught the terrorists that did it”. Other “witnesses” include the police and the Shabak, who were not even present at that location at the time. It is not clear whether the 61 “witnesses” have been properly questioned and their claims verified with, for example, hospital admission data, or even if the alleged damage to their vehicles has been photographed or otherwise documented. Such information is not even available to the boys’ attorneys.

The implications

If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.

The boys are now 16-17 years old. If the Israeli military get their way, the boys would only return to their homes and their families at the age of 41 – at best. Five young lives ruined with no evidence of their guilt is a spit in the face to our common principles of justice as human beings.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS?

Almost every stage of this case that could go wrong, did. Local and international law has been mostly dismissed; principles of justice barely fading in the horizon; respect for human beings non-existent.

Consider this:

  • The Hares Boys, as well as thousands of other Palestinian youngsters, are treated in the Israeli military court system as adults. According to international human rights law in general, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in particular, adults are people over 18 years of age. Israel treats even 9-year-olds as adults.
  • The racist system of “justice”: no matter the alleged crime, Palestinians are forced to go through the military courts and are tried under military law, while Israelis fall into the civil court system for the same crimes.
  • Violently arresting children at night without giving any explanation to their families about the reasons behind it, nor informing them about their children’s whereabouts goes against Israel’s own laws which state that minors are to be accompanied by an adult family member when detained or arrested.
  • The denial of lawyer for several days (in some cases weeks) after detention also accounts as a major violation of Israel’s own rules.
  • Children being put into solitary confinement for days on end is a form of torture; It is a severe punishment before the verdict.
  • Abusive interrogations of scared minors is considered torture.
  • The boys were arrested despite a total lack of evidence against them and condemned by the Israeli media as “terrorists”, which goes against the universal presumption of innocence (innocent until found guilty) and delivers a guilty verdict in the highly bombastic public trial, putting pressure on the judges to do likewise.

For more detailed accounts of the initial arrests and interrogations, please see IWPS Human Rights Reports from the ground:

HRR447: Arrest of 10 adolescents in Hares, Salfit (15 March 2013)

HRR448: Arrests of 3 more adolescents in Hares, Salfit: A (17 March 2013)

HRR451: Interrogation of a 16-year-old (21 March 2013)

HRR452: Arbitrary arrests of minors  (21 March 2013)

HRR458: Military court hearing for Hares arrest (9 April 2013)

HRR461: Arrest of three adolescents in Hares  (9 April 2013)

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shin Bet Arrests Palestinian Journalist Returning from Egypt

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | November 9, 2013

mohammed abu khdeir

Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, secretly arrested by Shabak

Israel’s security services arrested Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, after he returned from a reporting trip to Egypt two days ago. Abu Khdeir, who reports for the Palestinian Al Quds and the Kuwaiti Al-Rai, was arrested at Ben Gurion airport when he arrived on a flight from Egypt.

News of his arrest is under Israeli gag.  Abu Khdeir, as is common in security cases, has been denied any contact with his attorney. During this period, the Shabak commonly “works over” suspects for information, using abusive techniques like sleep deprivation and hours-long stress-inducing interrogation techniques. That is why it’s critical to spread word of his arrest.

The Israeli court system is complicit in this abuse and in this case a Beersheva court has granted the Shabak request for a gag and ordered him detained without charge until November 13th. It’s also usual in these cases for remand to be extended without any real oversight by the court. You can expect the suspect to be detained as long as the Shabak wants him there.

After examples of behavior like this, it should be no surprise that Israel’s rankings on world press freedom indexes are quite low. Unfortunately, one of the few ways to fight such outrageous violations of freedom of the press is to report them here.

It’s entirely possible that this arrest is based on sheer spite, and is certainly entirely arbitrary. A year ago, the Palestinian journalist embarrassed the Shabak by refusing to cover a Hillary Clinton press conference to which he’d been invited. The Shabak agents who provide “security” for such events, demanded only Palestinian journalists pull down their pants before entering the press venue. Abu Khdeir refused along with several others.

An unnamed Israeli official told FoxNews, apparently with a straight face:

…Israel is trying to provide the best possible security for Clinton and that similar procedures are used at Western airports and in secure facilities in Western capitals.

Last I checked, no Israeli reporters were forced to disrobe before entering the White House to cover Bibi’s press conferences. This is a clear case of Reporting While Palestinian.  His recent arrest seems like a good example of payback.

The other possibility is that Abu Khdeir may’ve annoyed the Egyptian military junta during his visit by contacting figures from the Muslim Brotherhood. If he did so, Israel too would want to warn him that such contact with Islamists is considered an offense against Israeli state interests. Not that this is, or should be against the law.  But when you’re Palestinian there doesn’t have to be a law. Shabak is the law. You may’ve done something wrong, you may’ve gazed a moment too long into the eyes of the security official at Ben Gurion. There doesn’t have to be a reason.

The only thing we can be thankful for is that Shabak didn’t kidnap him inside Egypt as they did recently in the case of a Gazan who disappeared there and turned up in an Israeli jail, where he presumably still sits. But they knew they didn’t need to since he was returning via Ben Gurion, where they could nab him.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Locking in Palestinians as Terrorists

By Dr. VACY VLAZNA | CounterPunch | October 4, 2013

What image of Palestinians would viewers, who have a smattering, or if any, knowledge of the Palestinian struggle, gain after seeing Dror Moreh’s documentary, The Gatekeepers?

The word ‘terrorist’ and versions thereof – ‘terrorism’ ‘terror’ – occur over 40 times, and all, bar once, in reference to Palestinians implicitly justifying the raison d’etre for Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

The MO of the vicious Shin Bet or Shabak is covert counter-terrorism  – based on the premise that the people of Palestine have no right to defend themselves or fight for their rightful independence enshrined in international law against the brutal illegal occupier and coloniser- the rogue State of Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel, the world’s fourth largest high-tech nuclear military force bleats its right to defend itself against Palestinian rocks and piddly homemade rockets.

The Gatekeepers presents interviews with six former Shin Bet commanders with relevant archival footage. Luke Buckmaster states, “These are men who, after consuming their toast and coffee, went to work to oversee every form of state-sanctioned violence. Manhunts. Executions. Torture. Missions that led to the death of countless innocent people… It seems highly improbable — despite unusually candid-feeling interviews — that the former top brass from the Shin Bet didn’t come to the project without an agenda in mind.” (Crikey 21-8-13)

The documentary has been hailed for presenting the human face of Shin Bet.

Dror Moreh: What shocked me was how humane they were. You have a certain image of somebody like Shalom before you meet him; he has a reputation that precedes him. And suddenly, you find yourself seated in front of Shalom and you do not see this monster, or this heartless bureaucrat, or this mastermind of espionage. You see a human being, with the same doubts and tormented thoughts that you or I have. You see a person with a conscience.

You can bet that a documentary proselytising the humanity of Gestapo heads, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolph Diels and Heinrich Muller would ignite fires of Sheol to spurt from the tongues of the Zionist Lobby.

The documentary opens with footage of a sterile ‘super clean operation’ (like the Wikileaks release of the US gunship ‘collateral murder’ video in Iraq) of the targeted killing, by remote, of so-called Palestinian ‘terrorists’ [freedom fighters], accompanied by the self-congratulatory comments of Yuval Diskin, who adds that in reflective moments he thinks it is ‘ unnatural’ to have the power to take lives in an instant. Really? Such moral musings from a man who has spent 30 years in military, Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence including Israel’s 1982 bloody war on Lebanon. Apparently ‘in no time Shin Bet controlled Lebanon’.

The sensitively airbrushed Yuval waxes lyrical about his ‘exotic encounter with olive trees’ (millions of which, along with livelihoods have been destroyed by Israel) and about his interaction with the peasants as he wandered through landscapes, refugee camps (refused right of return), visiting homes, chatting in cafes (one wonders how many of his bucolic buddies Shin Bet kidnapped and tortured) and then awakes from his fond reverie to remind himself and us of the ‘Palestinian problem’.

Right on cue the next footage, presents a newsreel on the killing of two soldiers in Al Khalil (Hebron). Mystifyingly, there is no footage of any of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians murdered there, in their own city, such as young Mohammed Ziad Awad al-Salayma who, in December 2012, was shot moments after buying a cake for his 17th birthday.

The indigenous people of Al Khalil are held hostage by a handful of settler thugs protected by the Israeli military. The once vibrant  commerce of Shuhada St has been shut down and netting covers the narrow passages of the Old City to curtail the urine, faeces and rubbish that vulgar settlers throw down on passing Palestinians.

Avraham Shalom, a feared and uncompromising bully, has an acting skill range from a frisky thrill for his job security “ luckily for us terrorism increased’, to quasi-senility in  remembering his ordering the execution of the two surviving handcuffed hijackers of Bus 300. Their heads were smashed with a rock. Shalom (ironic name) admits President Shamir had given him carte blanche on life-and-death decisions- literally – and that he coordinated his actions with Shamir, Rabin and Peres who rolled over and played ignorant under public pressure. Shalom later admits that Israel has become ‘cruel’ and is ‘similar to the Germans in WWII”. He should know.

Yakov Peri another of Moreh’s charming goons, comments on the First Intifada, “A nation rose up and tried to launch a revolution,” Why?  Wait for it –  “to kick us out”… Ah, there it is- the Israeli mantra of victimhood. Not one of these men of ‘conscience’ get that Palestinians are fighting for self-determination, for freedom from savage and systematic oppression, for their lives and shrinking country.

Peri goes on to laud Shin Bet’s ‘well-oiled’, ‘well-organized, effective’ and ‘systematic’ ‘intelligence factories’. He explains how Shin Bet learned about their territorial units ‘village by village, trail by trail’, through field trips and masses of ‘interviews’ ie interrogations about the village, the clans, number of people and its institutions. This format resembles the well-oiled, well-organized, effective and systematic Plan Dalet that mapped, for the Jewish terrorist militias, the ethnic cleansing of 531Palestinian villages in 1947-48; “These operations can be carried out in the following manner; either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up or by planting mines in their rubble)… In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.” Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine p.82

Shin Bet then set up a tight web of informers and agents and one wonders what terrible coercions would make a Palestinian betray his community, friends and family. The atmosphere of terror, the sinister recruitment practices and informant systems in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany comes to mind.

The section Our Own Flesh and Blood  deals with the rise of settler power. Peri drops a hasbara (Lie) clanger stating that “the illegal settlements were built despite of or in opposition to government decisions”. Shortly after the settler protests in 1975, Rabin allowed the establishment of  Ma’ale Adumin and settlers have been given financial incentives and tax concession by successive Israeli governments.

Since 1967 over 541,000 settlers have colonised the West Bank and there are 100 outposts, forerunners to new settlements. Israel threatens to annex the settlements on stolen Palestinian land and since the onset of the present peace farce in July, the Netanyahu government announced plans for 800 illegal housing units. Extremist settler parties have unprecedented power in the present Knesset.

The rise of settler power only disturbs Israel when its own may suffer as with the assassination of Rabin and the deranged plot to blow up the Dome on the Rock. Moreh never refers to these fanatics as terrorists even though, after the massacre at Al Khalil’s Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein, the settler groups, Kach and Kahane Chai were designated terrorist organisations.

Moreh makes much of death of Rabin and its impact on the peace process but Tanya Reinhart told it straight; “Deception and lies have been a cornerstone in Israeli policy, brought to a new level of perfection since Oslo. While the world believed that Prime Minister Rabin promised to eventually end the occupation and dismantle the settlements, the number of Israeli settlers actually doubled during his rule.”

If you are not convinced The Gatekeepers is a propaganda exercise, listen to Carmi Gillon’s testimony on Shin Bet’s justification for the use of torture in interrogations which became more difficult during the Second Intifada because “ Anyone willing to sacrifice his life whether its for the virgins in  paradise or not has nothing to lose.” The belittlement of the sacrifice of suicide bombers for paradisaical virgins confirms Israel’s denial of the Palestinian political impetus for freedom and denial of the desperation of Palestinian life under the might of Israel’s control.

In 2001, Human Rights Watch asked the Danish government to reject Gillon’s appointment as ambassador to Denmark and Amnesty International, citing the UN Convention against Torture demanded he be detained.

Years after the end of the Second Intifada, “the need to use moderate physical pressure in interrogations” continues to this day. Moderate? Impunity to inflict sleep deprivation, sitting handcuffed in a painful, degrading, exhausting position, covering heads, shaking, beatings, humiliation, threats against family, medical neglect, electrocution on adults and minors is secured by Israel’s High Court and the Office of the Prime Minister.

In February 2013, Charlotte Silver’s opinion piece in Al Jazeera,  How Israel legitimises torturing Palestinians, to death, exposes how Arafat Jaradet was tortured to death during the 7 days between his arrest and death on February 23.

“The ordeal that Arafat suffered before he died at the hands of Israel’s Shin Bet is common to many Palestinians that pass through Israel’s prisons. According to the prisoners’ rights organisation Addameer, since 1967, a total of 72 Palestinians have been killed as a result of torture and 53 due to medical neglect. Less than a month before Jaradat was killed, Ashraf Abu Dhra died while in Israeli custody in a case that Addameer argues was a direct result of medical neglect… And in the first week of February, two weeks before Arafat was killed, the High Court of Justice threw out Adalah’s petition that demanded the GSS videotape and audio record all of its interrogations in order to comply with requirements of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) to which Israel is a signatory.”

The section, Collateral Damage vividly depicts Shin Bet’s new strategy; state-sanctioned targeted killings which are outlawed under international law. In 2007, Avi Dichter, was forced to cancel a visit to the UK because of a potential arrest warrant on suspicion of war crimes for the bombing of Hamas‘ Saleh Shehade’s home killing 15 family members including 3 children. Sharon called it ‘one of  our greatest successes.’

Ami Aylon points out Israel also achieved greater security because cooperation was secured at monthly meetings between Shin Bet and the PLO security in spite of the dwindling Israeli desire to reach agreement on a Palestinian state. This is backed up by footage that features Fatah gangster, Mohammed Dahlan whose death squads took over Israel’s policing of Gaza and the West Bank. Concocting competition and conflict between Fatah and Hamas is a brilliant divide and rule strategy that deflects the Palestinian focus from self-determination.

In interviews, Moreh insists these Shin Bet sadists in sheep’s clothing agreed to be interviewed because of their concern for the diminishing window for a two-state solution that is propelling Israel toward a catastrophe. Ayalon is a vocal supporter the two state solution but without the right of return; a right of all peoples. A Jew anywhere in the world  has the right to ‘return’ to Israel but Palestinians are denied their legal right to return to their own country and lands even though international law guarantees, “no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal”.

Moreh’s urgent pragmatic push for a two state solution must include the corrupt Abbas, and Moreh, in an interview on Huffpost, condemns Netanyahu calling Abbas irrelevant and a terrorist. Of course Abbas, Erekat et al are the dream team because they’ve agreed to a Palestinian state on 18% of the remaining area within the 1967 borders, illegal land swaps that will contain the settlements in a vastly expanded Israeli state, no right of return, and demilitarisation. That is to say the status quo. Israel couldn’t get a better two-state deal.

Perhaps a future Palestinian leader of integrity and /or a one state outcome is the catastrophe Moreh is frantic to evade.

Moreh is honest in declaring, “I feel they came because they are really concerned about the future of the state of Israel.” (clearly there is no evidence they have any concern for Palestinians past, present or future) and Israel’s self-interest is definitely the prime agenda. Israel’s reputation is rancid internationally and it is desperately trying to sweeten it with honeytraps like The Gatekeepers that seemingly appear to criticise Israel, throw in a few moral and philosophical after-thoughts, then stamp the terrorist label onto suffering Palestinians.

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. 

October 4, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Locking in Palestinians as Terrorists

Israel bars entry of Polish humanitarian worker, halts irrigation project

Al-Akhbar | September 11, 2013

Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a decision to bar entry to the Jewish state to a Polish humanitarian worker for having unspecified links to “terrorist elements”.

Although Kamil Qandil had a valid visa when he landed at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on September 2, he was refused entry by immigration officials and held at the airport as he filed an appeal.

Upholding the ban, Chief Justice Asher Grunis cited “new material which points to the appellant having contacts with terrorist elements, which was not known at the time when he was granted the visa,” without elaborating.

“I have done nothing which could have harmed the state of Israel,” Qandil, who has a Palestinian father and Polish mother, told the court during the hearing. Grunis responded that he was “perhaps not aware of his actions.”

Part of the hearing was held in the presence only of the judges and agents of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

“The hearing today and the court’s verdict did little to clear the mystery about the allegations against Kamil,” his lawyer, Yadin Elam, told reporters.

The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which groups more than 80 organizations, said Qandil was detained on arrival to work on a project to supply water to Palestinians in a part of the southern West Bank under full Israeli control.

“He said that the biggest losers would be the villagers of the south Hebron hills where the project is located and…the Polish taxpayers who fund it,” a relative told AFP.

AIDA said PHA was seeking to refurbish rainwater cisterns on which Palestinian farmers depend for irrigation. Israel has demolished several refurbished cisterns, triggering a diplomatic response from Warsaw, AIDA said.

Shin Bet told Haaretz newspaper on Monday that Qandil was refused entry “due to security information that exists about him.”

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

September 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel bars entry of Polish humanitarian worker, halts irrigation project

The “crime” of solidarity

SocialistWorker | April 29, 2013

On April 24, Frank Barat, a Palestine solidarity activist and co-coordinator of last year’s Russell Tribunal on Palestine, was stopped at Ben Gurion International Airport by the Shabak, Israel’s internal security service, and subjected to four hours of interrogation and nearly a full day’s detention before being deported back Belgium. His “crime”? To have visited Israel while a supporter of Palestinian rights. Here, he describes what took place.

“WRITE YOUR e-mail addresses, your mobile phone number, your house phone, the name of your father and the name of your grandfather on this piece of paper” were the first words the Israeli security officer told me when I sat in front of him in his office.

As anyone involved in solidarity work with the Palestinian people will tell you, landing at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, and having-to-face questioning by the authorities is never an exciting prospect. In the last couple of months, a few activists have been turned back. Due to my work with the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, I knew even before I arrived in front of the immigration desk that I was a likely target for hard questioning from the Shabak, Israel’s internal security service.

I was coming to Palestine to visit old friends and also to take part in a conference on political prisoners organized in Ramallah as part of my role as coordinator for the Russell Tribunal. Due to the fact that Israel controls all the West Bank borders of Palestine, one has to go through Israeli officials in order to reach the occupied Palestinian territories. (Now, only Gaza–via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt–is accessible without too much Israeli interference.)

So I wrote the requested details on the piece of paper in front of me–except that I put an alternative e-mail address, being fully aware that what the officer in front of me wanted was information about other people involved with solidarity work in Palestine and abroad. Mapping networks has in recent years been vigorously pursued by Israel.

The line of questioning, at first, stuck to my travel plans. Six days in Tel Aviv without a travel guide was too much to bear for the man. He then quickly moved to my personal details and asked me to log on to my e-mail account, which is apparently less illegal (in Israel anyway) than I thought (see here and here).

He started to get upset when my inbox opened and there was no message in it. He told me repeatedly, “I know you have another e-mail address. Give it to me.” “I only have this one,” was the answer I stuck with throughout the whole process. I was taken to various offices throughout the whole interrogation process and spoke to a few people, who asked, again and again, the same questions.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I HAD to wait for long periods between each interrogation. Palestine and political activity only were raised after about three hours of questioning. I was sort of relieved to hear the word because I knew deep down that the Shabak agent had known about my work on the Palestine issue from minute one. He even asked me at one point, “What will Google tell me if I search for your name?”

The goal, however, was somewhere else. The goal was to exhaust me into giving information about workmates, colleagues and various people I knew in Israel/Palestine. The exhaustion part worked. I was clearly on my knees at 4 a.m., having had no sleep for 24 hours and faced with several unfriendly people questioning me. But they never got what they really wanted–my e-mail account and its content. After four hours of questioning, the verdict came (there were five people in the room, including me, at this time): “You lied to me. So you won’t get in. You will now be deported back. Your flight is in 23 hours.”

Still, right after telling me this, the officer tried one more time, telling me that he was my friend, here to help me and that if I collaborated he might change his decision. I was at this point taken to a room where I was body searched thoroughly (by a young man with an apologetic look on his face), and where my carry-on bag (the only piece of luggage I brought) was fully checked, in and out, approximately three times, including passing through X-rays.

At roughly 4.30 a.m., I was put in a van, alone, and driven to my next destination: the deportation center. Why we stopped, for about 10 minutes, in between airplanes on the tarmac is a question that remains unanswered. He told me before he dropped me off that I would be deported in 23 hours. “You’re lucky,” said the man. “Some people have to wait for a week here.”

The next 23 hours were the longest in my life. With no means to know what the time was, it took forever. My cellmate, a 21-year-old Ukrainian man who spoke no English at all and came to Israel in search of a better future, and I were allowed two 10-minute breaks outside, under surveillance of course, and managed to catch a glimpse of the palm trees and the sunshine that we were at this point longing for. We were then joined by two older Ukrainians as well as a Chinese man.

What I did not know at the time was that a friend in Israel, at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning, had contacted the office of Israeli lawyer Gabi Lasky to ask her to try to get more information regarding my whereabouts–did I enter? Was I being deported? Detained? They did not want to say anything. It took many hours for Gabi to get confirmation that I was in the detention center at the airport. Over the phone, Gabi later told me that the authorities are making life harder and harder for lawyers and that they are being more difficult every day.

I was put back on a plane, escorted by an immigration official, my bag full of security tags, paraded in front of the other passengers, at 1 a.m. the next day. The fact that the main air hostess was Arab and smiled at me when the immigration official handed her my passport felt, I have to say, very good at the time.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WHILE THIS was an extremely unpleasant experience, it is crucial to put things into a broader context. The pressure, fear and humiliation I often felt during this time–the scare tactics used by the Shabak (“Tell me the truth, or you’re going to jail right now”) and the short time spent in jail–are nothing compared to what the Palestinians are going through every day. Right now, more than 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners are rotting in Israeli jails. A few of them have started “hunger strikes” and are slowly dying, while the “international community” (understood as the Western states, the European Union and the United Nations) is doing nothing to come to their rescue.

It is crucial to keep highlighting this. The inconvenience felt by a privileged international citizen should not overshadow the reason at the core of his activism: To acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to resist their far more powerful occupier and to do so until the systematic and institutionalized apartheid system put in place by Israel ends; to expose the active role played by third parties (states, institutions and corporations) in supporting Israel’s occupation; and to highlight Israel’s impunity regarding countless resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council that have been, so far, never followed by any concrete action.

It is our role as global actors involved in a global struggle for justice, freedom and dignity for all people, regardless of their ethnicity, political orientations, or countries of origin, to show solidarity with those people stripped of their rights. The breaking down of human civilization in sub-categories of human beings (privileges come depending on where you were born, while this act was simply an accident of nature), the slow crumbling of any “common decency,” solidarity and compassion showed by people towards others, can be reversed and is not ineluctable.

This can only happen if we all unite towards this goal.

April 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The “crime” of solidarity

The Gatekeepers – demolishing the Zionist narrative

By Lawrence Davidson | To the Point Analyses | February 6, 2013

There is a new documentary movie about Israel, called The Gatekeepers.  It is directed by Dror Moreh, and features interviews with all the former leaders of the Shin Bet, the country’s internal security organization.  The Shin Bet is assigned the job of preventing Palestinian retaliatory attacks on Israel and, as described by Moreh, the film “is the story of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories as told by the people at the crossroads of some of the most crucial moments in the security history of the country.”   Along the way it touches on such particular topics as targeted assassinations, the use of torture, and “collateral damage.”

The Gatekeepers has garnered a lot of acclaim.  It has played at film festivals in Jerusalem, Amsterdam, New York, Toronto and Venice, and elsewhere.  It has received critical acclaim from critics and won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Documentary Award. It has been nominated for an Oscar.

The Messages 

In order to promote the The Gatekeepers, Moreh has been doing interviews and recently appeared on CNN with Christiane Amanpour.  He made a number of points, as did the Shin Bet leaders in the clips featured during the interview.  I shall review and critique some of these below.

Moreh says that “if there is someone who understands the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s these guys”  (the Shin Bet leaders).  Actually, this not necessarily true.  One might more accurately claim that these men, who led Israel’s most secretive government institution, were and are so deeply buried inside their country’s security dilemma that they see it in a distorted fashion (with only occasional glimmers of clarity).  For instance:

– Avraham Shalom (head of the Shin Bet from 1981-1986), tells us that “Israel lost touch with how to coexist with the Palestinians as far back as the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967….When the country started doubling down on terrorism.”  But is this really the case? One might more accurately assert that Israel had no touch to lose.  Most of its Jewish population and leadership has never had any interest in coexistence with Palestinians in any equalitarian and humane sense of the term.  The interviewed security chiefs focus on the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza because they are the ones who offered the most resistance to conquest.  But what of the 20% of the population of Israel who are also Palestinian and who actually lived under martial law until 1966?   You may call the discriminatory regime under which these people live “coexistence,” but it is the coexistence of superior over the inferior secured largely by intimidation.

–Moreh also insists that it is the “Jewish extremists inside Israel” who have been the “major impediment” to resolving issues between Israel and the Palestinians.  The film looks at the cabal of religious fanatics, who in 1980, planned to blow up the sacred Muslim shrine of the Dome of the Rock  on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount,  as well as the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in 1995.  Yet, as dangerous as are Israel’s right-wing extremists and settler fanatics, focusing exclusively on them obscures the full history of the occupation.

By the time Menachem Begin and Israel’s right-wing fanatics took power in 1977,  the process of occupation and ethnic cleansing was well under way.  It had been initiated, both against the Arab Israelis from 1948 onward, and against the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967,  by the so-called Israeli Left:  the Labor Party and such people as David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, and Yitzak Rabin himself.  Amongst the Israeli leadership, there are no clean hands.

– Finally,  Dror Moreh  repeatedly pushes another message:  “a central theme of the documentary is the idea that Israel has incredible tactics, but it lacks long-term strategy…if [security] operations do not support a move toward a peace settlement, then they are meaningless.”

Again, this erroneous assessment is a function of being so deeply situated inside of a problem that you cannot perceive it clearly.   Moreh assumes that achieving peace with the Palestinians is the only “long-term strategy” Israel ought to have and, in its absence, Israel pursues no strategy at all.  However, an objective assessment of Israeli history tells us that there has been another strategy in place.  The Zionist leaders have in fact always had a long-term strategy to avoid any meaningful peace settlement, so as to allow:  1. occupation of all “Eretz Israel,” 2. the ethnic cleansing or cantonization of the native population, and 3. settlement of the cleansed territory with Jews.

It is because of this same naivete that Moreh confesses himself “shocked” when Shalom compares the occupation of the Palestinian territories to “Germany’s occupation of Europe” which, of course, had its own goal of ethnic cleansing.  It is to Shalom’s credit that he made the statement on camera, and to Morah’s credit that he kept the statement in the final version of the film.  But then Morah spoils this act of bravery when he tells Amanpour, “Only Jews can say these kind of words. And only they can have the justification to speak as they spoke in the film.”  Well, I can think of one other group who has every right to make the  same comparison Shalom makes– the Palestinians.

The Retired Official’s Confession Syndrome

For all its shortcomings, the film is a step forward in the on-going effort to deny the idealized Zionist storyline  a monopoly in the West.  Indeed, that The Gatekeepers was made at all, and was received so positively at major film venues, is a sign that this wholly skewed Israeli storyline is finally breaking down.  Certainly, this deconstruction still has a long way to go, but the process is picking up speed.

On the other hand there is something troubling about the belated nature of the insights given in these interviews.  They are examples of what I like to call the “retired official’s confession syndrome.”  Quite often those who, in retirement, make these sorts of confessions were well aware of the muddled or murderous situation while in office.  But, apparently, they lacked the courage to publicize it at the time.  It would have meant risking their careers,  their popularity, and perhaps relations with their friends and family.  One is reminded of the fate of Professor Ilan Pappe, who did stand up and live his principles, and eventually lost his position at Haifa University and was, in the end, forced into exile.  For most, however, including these leaders of the Shin Bet, their understanding was clouded and their actions skewed by a time-honored, but deeply flawed, notion of “duty” to carry on like good soldiers.

Conclusion  

To date, Israel’s leaders and Zionist supporters have shown an amazing capacity to ignore all criticism.  The newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has let it be known that he has no intention of watching The Gatekeepers.  It is also questionable how many of those who voted for him, or other right-wing politicians, will bother to seek the documentary out.

Israel’s government has recently made the decision to ignore the country’s obligations under the United Nations Human Rights Charter,  a decision signaled by its representatives refusal to show up for the country’s “universal periodic review”  before the Human Rights Council.  Nor is there any sign that any new right-wing led government coalition will stop the ethnic cleansing and illegal colonial re-population of East Jerusalem.  

The only reasonable conclusion one can come to is that it will take increasing outside pressure on Israel, in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, to convince a sufficient number of that country’s Jewish population that they must change their ways.  To not change is to acquiesce in Israel’s evolving status as a pariah state.  The irony of it all is that that status will have little to do with their being Jewish.  Yet, It will have everything to do with the fact that, in this day and age, even the Jews have no right to maintain a racist state.

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Gatekeepers – demolishing the Zionist narrative

Israeli Supreme Court rejects demands to investigate torture

MEMO | August 8, 2012

The Israeli Supreme Court has rejected two petitions for an order to the Attorney General to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of torture and mistreatment by the Shin Bet security agency.

A number of human rights organisations submitted the petitions last year in protest at the work of the official observer of detainees’ complaints against Shin Bet and the Public Prosecutor regarding the opening of criminal investigations into the internal security agency. Some of the detainees alleging mistreatment were signatories to the petitions.

The Popular Committee against Torture submitted a report claiming that there were 598 complaints about torture and mistreatment against the agency between 2001 and 2008. The country’s Public Prosecutor has not ordered an investigation into any of them.

Summing up, Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein said “Shin Bet is neither above the law nor fortified against criticism, but the nature of its work has to be considered.” In addition, Judge Rubinstein said that he had to consider the “political and ideological background of absurd complaints.” The Judge pointed out that opening an investigation is very important, but it is necessary not to be arbitrary if there is clear evidence.

The Director of Israel’s Public Committee against Torture, Dr Ishai Menuhin, said that the Court supported the central claim of the petitioners that members of Shin Bet cannot investigate their own colleagues. He added that the Court’s decision contradicts international law which considers it to be mandatory to open an immediate and independent investigation into allegations of torture.

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli Supreme Court rejects demands to investigate torture

Best of friends? CIA considers Israel one of its biggest spy threats

RT – July 28, 2012

While US politicians boast strong ties with Israel, CIA officials suggest Israel is one of its biggest counter-intelligence threats. With spyware that rivals that of American agencies, it is extremely difficult to detect the extent of its spying.

In a CIA ranking of the world’s intelligence agencies and their willingness to help the US fight the War on Terror, Israel fell below Libya.

Speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, current and former US intelligence officials blame Israel for incidents that indicate attempts to acquire secret information.

One CIA station chief noticed that the communication equipment that he used to contact CIA headquarters from Israel had been tampered with, even though it was in a locked box. Another CIA officer based in Israel had his home broken into. While nothing was stolen, the officer noticed his food had been rearranged.

In addition to home intrusions and equipment tampering, CIA officials also suspect that a leak by Israel led to the capture and presumed death of an important US agent inside Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The US suspects that Israel’s foreign intelligence service, Mossad, and its FBI equivalent, the Shin Bet, have been trying to steal American counter-intelligence secrets. In the CIA’s Near East Division, which oversees spying across the Middle East, Israel is considered the main counter-intelligence threat. This suggests that counter-intelligence secrets are thus safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

However, the distrust has been ongoing for decades. Several years ago, two female CIA officers were fired for having unreported contact with Israelis. One of the women admitted to a relationship with a member of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who introduced her to a person that worked for Shin Bet.

In 1987, Jonathan Pollard, a US Navy civilian intelligence analyst, was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2006, a former Defense Department analyst received 12 years in prison for sharing classified information with an Israeli diplomat and two pro-Israel lobbyists.

Moreover, Israel’s high-tech spyware and services rival American agencies, making it more difficult to detect the extent of any spying. With advanced equipment and full access to the highest levels of the US government in military and intelligence services, Israel has a large capacity to monitor its ally.

This sometimes poses problems for US foreign affairs. Even though the US and Israel have a tight friendship, the two countries have sometimes conflicting interests abroad, especially regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Furthermore, America’s relationship with Israel can also affect the way Muslim countries perceive the US.

“It’s a complicated relationship,” said Joseph Wippl, head of the CIA’s office of congressional affairs. “They have their interests. We have our interests. For the US, it’s a balancing act.”

But while the two countries are strong allies, Washington continues to distrust Israel with sensitive national security information. Its most trusted allies are Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Together, the “Five Eyes” agree not to spy on one another, while sharing sensitive information.

The relationship between the US and Israel is known as “Friends on Friends,” which comes from the phrase, “Friends don’t spy on friends.” But that pact has repeatedly been broken, and CIA officials continue to distrust Israel with each additional case of spying.

But as intrusions into the homes of US agents in Israel continue and instances of spying increase the distrust, the US continues to give vast amounts of money to Israel, while the president trumpets an “unshakeable commitment to Israel.” On Friday, President Obama promised Israel an additional $70 million in military aid to help Israel produce a short-range rocket defense system.

July 29, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shin Bet Detains Irish Woman at Dublin Airport, Prevents Reunion with Israeli Boyfriend

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 26, 2012

Ynet reports (Hebrew) that the Shin Bet detained a 26 year-old Irish woman at Dublin airport when she arrived three hours prior to flight time (in order to go through the security check). She’d hoped to fly to Israel for a romantic reunion with her Israeli boyfriend, Alon, who she’d met in South America. It was to be her first visit to Israel.

When the Shin Bet security interrogators asked her why she was flying to Israel and she told them, they actually called her boyfriend in Israel to confirm this. They asked personal questions about the nature of their relationship. But that wasn’t enough.

At first, she was told she could board the flight, but without any personal electronic devices. Then, she was told she couldn’t bring any luggage at all. When offered this option, after the decidedly chilly reception she’d experienced from the Israeli security apparatus, she said: thanks, but no thanks. The distinct impression she got from her inquisitors was that the only reason she was treated this way is that she isn’t Jewish.

Keep in mind that her boyfriend is a former IDF officer who served his country and understood the need for security precautions.

During her trip to South America, she’d met many Israelis who told her about the bad rap that Israel got in the world media. They assured her that the real Israel was something else entirely.

The Shabak claims that it told the woman she could board the flight without her baggage and could send it separately via London. She denies they made this offer. They also claim that they couldn’t allow her luggage aboard because it required scanning by a special device which local airport security didn’t make available to them. I’d venture to say that if any Irish journalist picks up on this story and queries officials at Dublin airport they’ll find this is a crock. But the way the Shin Bet works, it only has to deflect criticism for a day or so for the embarrassing incident to be forgotten (or so they expect). That’s why they often don’t even make a pretence of having a credible story.

Alon’s girl still wants to reunite with him–anywhere but Israel. So think about this, if Alon and his girlfriend someday marry, where do you think they’ll live? Anywhere but Israel. But that won’t bother the racist thugs who control entry to the ‘Jewish homeland.’ They prefer their guests and betrothed to be Jewish. Non-Jews need not apply. The needs of the national security state trump love and romance.

There are two lessons to be learned from this story. First, don’t fly to Israel on an Israeli airline. Second, if I were Irish authorities I’d demand the head of whoever was responsible for this mess. In South Africa, when a flyer was abused racially, the authorities threatened to ban the airline from flying to South Africa. That got Israel’s attention.

Since I published this story, Maan reporter George Hale told me he received the exact same treatment. He was told on two separate occasions that he could only fly without luggage (that’s besides the regular strip searches). The Shin Bet official told him he could retrieve it “the next time you’re in Zurich.” That didn’t sit too well with George since it was everything he needed to practice his profession.

When he arrived at Ben Gurion he filed a complaint with the Press Office and the Shin Bet relented and returned his effects (which included all his electronic reporting gear). The Irish lass’ story is, unfortunately, not unique.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Shin Bet Detains Irish Woman at Dublin Airport, Prevents Reunion with Israeli Boyfriend

Shin Bet Goes on Palestinian Arrest Spree

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 18, 2012

The Shin Bet appears to have gone on a tear in arresting Israeli Palestinians over the past few weeks.  There are now at least four who’ve been arrested, the last three under gag.  I reported on the first arrest, of Dr. Eyad Jawhari of Majdal Shams earlier this month.  He is still imprisoned at Kishon prison after being moved from there to Shikma and back again.  Though he was arrested at the end of June, the security services have refused to allow him to consult either with his attorney or to speak with his family.  He has been incommunicado for three weeks, standard operating procedure for the Israeli secret police.  Though there was an initial gag concerning his arrest, shortly after I broke the story the Shin Bet partially removed the gag.  Now they may report the detainee’s name, though there is no official word on the charges against him.

In the short space of the past few days, three more Israeli Palestinians have been secretly detained.  They are:

Abdul Basset Zo’abi of northern Israel (no further information known as of this time)

Salman Hassan Safadi: his arrest reported by the Golani Arabic language news service, Baladee, which notes that the Shin Bet “turned his house upside down” and confiscated mobile phones & computers.  Like Jawhari, I’ve confirmed he is a resident of Majdal Shams, though neither Jawhari’s lawyer or family know if there is any connection between the two arrests.

Musa Khatib, a resident of the divided (Lebanese-Israeli) village of Ghajar, whose residents are largely Alawite, the same Muslim sect as Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad.  He is currently in Shikma Prison, outside Ashkelon.

Though I do not know the charges against these individuals, the fact that they were arrested by the Shin Bet under gag indicates a strong likelihood they were arrested on security charges.  This, of course doesn’t mean they endangered the security of Israel.  Far more likely they were engaged in political or nationalist activism, which is viewed as subversion by Israeli authorities.

Compare this treatment to that accorded to Jack Teitel, a Jewish settler terrorist who bombed other Israeli Jews, Christians and Palestinians, killing a number and severely wounding others.  He even murdered two Israeli policemen.  Only recently, years after his killing spree began, did the court accept a plea bargain by which Teitel admitted killing two Palestinians, though the court still has not formally convicted him or even found him criminally liable.  There appears to have been some struggle about whether to declare him insane and so be rid of a criminal trial (a tactic often used by the authorities to avoid sending Jewish terrorists to prison).  At any rate, he’s still officially in possession of his faculties, and free.

Another example of this sort of laxity concerns Dor Oved, who repeatedly vandalized the offices of Peace Now, the home of Hagit Ofran and cars of her neighbors, and other public property.  He e-mailed death threats and scrawled them in graffiti messages on the walls of building housing Peace Now and at Ofran’s home.  After a new round of this nonsense, the police have finally arrested him and charged him with some of these acts.  But he was first arrested last November and sent home to his parents, where he promptly reoffended by sending out the e mail death threats.

The worst thing about this story is that Oved’s name is under gag not because of any serious security danger, but because both his parents work for the security apparatus, he for the Shin Bet and she for the police.  When a photographer took the father’s picture at the court house, he assaulted the photographer warning that she should know who he was.  Despite the incorrigible nature of this Arab and Jew hater, his identity and that of his parents are still forbidden for Israelis to know (unless they read this blog).

So there you have it: four Israeli Palestinians about whom we know almost nothing, including what they’re charged with.  They have had no contact with lawyers or family and their names are under gag so that no one can rally to their support.  As opposed to Dor Oved, coddled by the State, afforded the finest lawyers, sent home by the court to his parents, where he promptly continued his campaign of hate.  His identity is protected in order by an arbitrary use of power on the part of the security police.  This is “democracy,” Israel-style.

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Comments Off on Shin Bet Goes on Palestinian Arrest Spree

Knesset Exempts Shin Bet from Recording Interrogations

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | July 17, 2012

Israel has a law that requires police and security officials to record their interrogations of suspects who are charged with crimes carrying a sentence of ten years or more.  That sounds great, right?  Just the way a democracy should work.  But hold on.  There’s a hole in the law big enough to drive a Mack truck through.  Both the police and Shin Bet are exempt from this law as far as security detainees are concerned.  In other words, in order to allow security personnel to use whatever means they wish, the Knesset permits them to have no recordings that might offer evidence of widely reported abuse and torture used against such prisoners.

The exemption was due to expire recently after it had initially been extended first for five years, then another four.  But never fear, we won’t abandon our boys doing the dirty work on our behalf in the cells of Shabak.  So the Knesset will extend the exemption for another three years, doing its duty on behalf of the secret police.

Here’s the reasoning (Hebrew) behind the exemption in all its fetid glory:

In the special circumstances of security investigations, which involve the fight against extremist, well-organized terror groups, documenting interrogations is liable to damage in a very real way the quality of security investigations, and thus the ability to deter terror threats.

Not a word about damaging the quality of Israeli democracy since it’s taken a back seat to security from almost day one of the existence of the State.

The Shin Bet chief of investigations, who was present at the Knesset deliberation, wove this nice fairy tale for the assembled solons:

Shin Bet investigations are overseen and documented from the beginning to the end [note he doesn’t say how they’re documented, in what form, etc.].  We’re not talking about damaging anyone’s human rights, but rather protecting our methods.  The exemption is necessary so that our enemies don’t learn our investigative methods.

So get this, Shin Bet interrogations are the equivalent of work product and mustn’t be revealed because to do so would allow Israel’s enemies to learn how it ‘persuades’ prisoners to give it the information it demands.  Presumably, that would enable terror groups to prepare their cadre for such interrogations in order to withstand them.  Not a word about the possibility that such recordings would reveal the nasty quasi-criminal enterprise that the security agencies conduct on behalf of the State.  Lest you think the previous sentence was hyperbolic, go back and read this post about a provoked prison riot which the prison security service put down with brutal force, ending with the murder of a prisoner who wasn’t even engaging in protest.  Now, recall that the commander who oversaw this exercise wasn’t disciplined or even investigated.  In fact, he was promoted for doing his job so well.

Israeli human rights NGOs dutifully raised their voices (Hebrew) in opposition.  But they were drowned out by the swelling chorus of support for any and all methods used to beat confessions and information out of detainees.  Here are some of their wise, but unheeded words:

The need for recording security interrogations is greater because of the need for certainty that a confession is valid and because of the critical importance of ensuring that the investigation was conducted properly, preventing the use of improper methods.  Prisoner populations are the most likely to be exposed to the danger of degrading or inhumane conditions, including the use of physical or emotional violence up to and including outright torture.  Recording interrogations can aid greatly in determining the credibility of complaints of improper acts.  It can supply objective specific documentation regarding the conduct of an investigation, either supporting or refuting the charges of the detainees.

Like voices crying out in the wilderness.  They speak but there is no one to hear.  In fact, the existence of the NGOs, though an inconvenience for the authorities, allows them to tell the world: we are a democracy; look at how our NGOs freely criticize us; what more can you ask of us?

There are those who’ve questioned my contention here that security prisoners like Dirar Abusisi, Ameer Makhoul, Mustafa Dirani, and others have been tortured during their interrogations.  They’ve done this despite the fact that defense lawyers have described in detail the sleep deprivation, loud noises, being tied to a chair for long periods, anal penetration, and worse.  Now, I’ll throw it back in their face: if you’re confident there is no such abuse, protest the lack of documentation of the interrogations.  If you don’t then you’re little more than a hypocrite because the video or audio tape would prove your claim.  Without it, you have nothing, not a leg to stand on.

Any of you American’s out there reading this, don’t get any big ideas about how superior our legal system is to Israel’s (though given the horrid record of the Obama administration it’s hard to see how anyone would believe this).  Remember the videotapes of brutal waterboarding by CIA inquisitors that were destroyed when word began to leak out that they existed?  Remember Jose Rodriguez, the CIA officer who destroyed them, who wasn’t even investigated, let alone punished for obstruction of justice?

We are no better than Israel in this, which is what makes it all the more tragic.

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Knesset Exempts Shin Bet from Recording Interrogations