Max Blumenthal en Neocon Jamie Kirchick Makes Friendly Appearance on White Nationalist Radio Show Broadcasting Inside the RNC <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Liberty Roundtable and its racist sister show have previously hosted David Duke and Donald Trump Jr.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-07-21_at_6.25.03_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4cdf01c3-0f8e-1f9d-3745-2262d8373389">Jamie Kirchick is a columnist for the Daily Beast and a fellow at the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative with a penchant for demonizing his ideological foes as antisemites. Among those he has branded as antisemitic with little basis are the <a href="">British Labour Party</a> under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and <a href="">researchers</a> formerly employed by the liberal Think Progress blog who challenged the push for a U.S. war on Iran. Since the 2008 presidential campaign, Kirchick has published a series of <a href="">articles attacking</a> former Rep. Ron Paul as a Jew hater with strong ties to white nationalism and neo-Confederate extremism. This year, Kirchick <a href="">cited</a> his Jewish heritage as the key factor motivating his opposition to Donald Trump, whom he cast as the ringleader of an antisemitic “mob.”</p><p dir="ltr">When the Liberty Roundtable — a prominent antisemitic radio show hosted by open white nationalists — approached Kirchick for an interview this week at the Republican National Convention, however, Kirchick was all in. He spent <a href="">15 minutes</a> exchanging banter with host Sam Bushman, politely disagreeing with Bushman’s opposition to foreign intervention while praising what he called Bushman’s “great opinion” that Trump had spent too much time in “New York circles.” Kirchick also took the opportunity to promote his forthcoming book, <em>The End of Europe</em>. (Trump has previously <a href="">warned</a> Muslim immigration would lead to “the end of Europe.”)</p><p dir="ltr">Kirchick’s appearance was immediately preceded by an ad for a white nationalist tract called <a href="">Racism, Schmacism</a>. The book’s author, James Edwards (Bushman’s co-host and business partner) has accused Jews of engaging in a conspiracy to cause a white Christian genocide. "White Christians in particular endure daily savaging from the Jewish-dominated news media and entertainment industry,” <a href="">Edwards wrote</a> on Liberty Roundtable’s website, “from the Zionist-infiltrated government, from the godless colleges and universities, and from every other outlet of information and influence.”</p><p dir="ltr">Edwards, who had been co-hosting Liberty Roundtable when Kirchick appeared for his interview, has also <a href="">said</a> that for “blacks in the Americas, slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened to them. Unfortunately, it's the worst thing that ever happened to white Americans.”</p><p>According to the <a href="">mission statement</a> of Edwards’ Political Cesspool, a production of the Liberty Radio News Network and sister show to Bushman’s Liberty Roundtable, the show “stands for the Dispossessed Majority” and is “pro-white.” Edwards added that his show rejects “homosexuality, vulgarity, loveless sex, and masochism.”</p><p dir="ltr">Kirchick is an openly gay, vehemently anti-Putin neoconservative who angrily denounced Russia’s anti-gay legislation during a carefully <a href="">staged appearance</a> on RT, the Russian government-owned broadcast outlet. Days later, Kirchick set out on a mission “to find out more about RT,” harassing random passersby outside RT’s downtown Washington DC offices with questions like, “What is a more appropriate punishment for the women of Pussy Riot, two years in a Siberian labor camp or public whipping by Cossacks?”</p><p dir="ltr">Kirchick <a href="">maintains</a> his vendetta against RT <a href="">to this day</a>, looking for any chance to savage the network. As he hovered around the halls of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in search of media exposure, however, he did not think twice about appearing on a white nationalist network whose leading program and most high-profile on-air personality were <a href="">exposed</a> by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “overtly racist” and antisemitic.</p><p dir="ltr">Bruce Wilson, a veteran researcher of far-right movements, <a href="">revealed</a> that Edwards’ Political Cesspool show provided a <a href="">friendly platform</a> this year to David Duke under the banner of Liberty Radio News Network, and that Edwards is a co-director of the Holocaust-denying American Freedom Party, whose mission statement declares, "White Americans should push back!"</p><p dir="ltr">On February 27, Bushman <a href="">filled in</a> as host of Political Cesspool while Edwards reported from a Trump rally in Memphis, apparently with VIP credentials provided by the Trump campaign. Days later, Edwards and Bushman scored an interview on Liberty Roundtable with Donald Trump Jr. </p><p dir="ltr">The firestorm of criticism that ensued from Trump Jr.’s appearance on the overtly racist forum prompted him to disavow the appearance and condemn the Liberty Roundtable co-host, Edwards.</p><p dir="ltr">Bushman and Edwards have surfaced again on the national political stage at the RNC, and with press credentials apparently granted by the Republican National Committee. Despite Trump Jr.’s widely <a href="">reported</a> disavowal of this pair of white supremacists, Kirchick waded casually into their cesspool. </p><p dir="ltr"><a href="">Listen</a> to Jamie Kirchick’s appearance on Liberty Roundtable; it begins at 40:00.</p> Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:22:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1060582 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project World kirchick neocon Israel middle east white racist Grayzone Is Blue Lives Matter a Racist Hate Group? <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The pro-cop, Trump-linked movement’s main Facebook community is a cesspool of racist rants and violent threats.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_5.00.09_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-ddf4895f-0826-bc88-371e-d41d4de10cb0">The first night of the Republican National Convention featured a parade of alpha-male veterans and tough-talking cops pledging to “make America safe again.” Marcus Lutrell, a highly decorated Navy SEAL accused of <a href="">fabricating</a> major portions of his tales of heroism and elan, set the tone for the evening. <a href="">Recalling</a> the action-packed operations he spearheaded in Afghanistan with a mixture of misty eyed nostalgia and vein-popping outrage, Lutrell concluded that “your war is here.” His insinuation of a new war on terror raging in America’s streets, where duty-bound cops are supposedly besieged by radical Black Lives Matter protesters and black nationalist snipers, transitioned smoothly into an <a href="">appearance by David Clarke</a>, the hardline Milwaukee County Sheriff who has <a href="">warned</a> that the Black Lives Matter movement would soon join forces with the Islamic State.</p><p dir="ltr">Clarke opened with what was perhaps the most successful applause line of the evening: “Ladies and gentleman, I would like to make one thing very clear: Blue lives matter in America!” Clarke brought RNC delegates to their feet again when he celebrated the acquittal of the Baltimore police officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray, who died after sustaining major injuries during an arrest. When Clarke cast Black Lives Matter and the Occupy movement as agents of anarchy hellbent on destroying an otherwise functional social order, the crowd erupted with euphoric applause.</p><p dir="ltr">Thanks to Clarke, a national televised audience was introduced for the first time to the movement known as Blue Lives Matter. Organized by police officers, their families and their supporters, Blue Lives Matter was founded to support the legal defense of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri cop placed on trial for killing the unarmed black teen Michael Brown in 2015. Mock civil rights marches have been organized under the banner of Blue Lives Matter, with cops and their families parading through the streets of major American cities and even <a href="">blocking traffic</a> on occasion.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Blue Lives Matter legislation has been introduced in statehouses across the country equating cops with historically oppressed minority groups and proposing to protect them under hate crime laws. “The overarching message is that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Louisiana,” <a href="">said</a> Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who became the first elected official to sign such a bill into law.</p><p dir="ltr">Invoked on the national stage by culture war icons like Sheriff Clarke, Blue Lives Matter has become an integral component of the Republican base. It is not only a catch-all for opposition to Black Lives Matter and virtually any effort to spur police reform, but also a brand that conveys the racial backlash sensibility cultivated by the Trump campaign. In the past weeks, following a series of videotaped killings of unarmed black men, nationwide protests and two deadly shooting sprees targeting cops, those mobilizing under the banner of Blue Lives Matter have taken a disturbingly militant turn.</p><p dir="ltr">On one of the movement’s main online organizing hubs, the Blue Lives Matter Facebook community, calls for the massacre of Black Lives Matter protesters have grown more frequent and pronounced. Cops and their supporters have proposed denying police services to citizens who publicly support Black Lives Matter, posted <a href=";reply_comment_id=535571813302264&amp;comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">discredited statistics</a> about race and crime produced by a white nationalist website (and <a href="">promoted by Donald Trump</a>), and spun out <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">fantasies</a> of an ongoing race war.</p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="537" width="467"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="537" width="467" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-19_at_5.45.20_pm.png" /></div><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="532" width="495"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="532" width="495" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_2.08.26_am.png" /></div><p dir="ltr">On this Facebook page, and under their own names, commenters have called for white Americans to organize as a race against civil rights protests, <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R6%22%7D">demanded</a> that police operate exclusively in white neighborhoods, and demonized black victims of lethal police violence as “thugs,” “hoodrats” and worse. Black Lives Matter is regularly described as a terrorist organization working in secret collusion with the Obama administration to wage civil war on cops. With help from a clickbait style blog that churns out daily disinformation—which the fact-checking site Snopes recently <a href="">exposed for journalistic fraud</a>—the Blue Lives Matter Facebook page has racked up over 1 million likes in a relatively short period of time.</p><p dir="ltr">With their violent sensibility and overtly racist tone, members of the Blue Lives Matter online community hardly seem dissimilar from the white nationalists attracted to Stormfront, the hate site the Southern Poverty Law Center has linked to some <a href="">100 murders</a> across the country. Unlike Stormfront, however, Blue Lives Matter is able to shroud its extremism behind the badge that commands society-wide veneration.</p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="526" width="501"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="526" width="501" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_1.22.31_am.png" /></div><p dir="ltr">This July, at least four Americans were <a href="">arrested</a> for social media postings expressing support for violence against law enforcement personnel. But police officers and their supporters have yet to face consequences for their comments at the Blue Lives Matter Facebook community, where they wish violence on private citizens with regular frequency. Like the cops who are afforded impunity when they kill unarmed citizens, Blue Lives Matter commenters have spouted violent extremism with minimal scrutiny and maximum intensity.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Fantasies of murdered black WNBA players</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Scarcely a day passed this month without an event that sent Blue Lives Matter supporters into a frenzy.</p><p dir="ltr">On July 11, players from the Minnesota Lynx WNBA team appeared during pre-game warmups in T-shirts emblazoned with a Black Lives Matter logo along with badges honoring the police officers gunned down in Dallas by the fanatical black nationalist Micah Johnson. In true Blue Lives Matter form, five off-duty cops abandoned their security duties at the game and staged a walk-out protest against the shirts. Hours later, the Blue Lives Matter Facebook community exploded in rage at the players.</p><p dir="ltr">Blake Urban, a self-described active duty cop at the Tallassee, Alabama police department, <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">described in broken English</a> his wish for police to deny service to the players: “And I hope they all beat each other up and they needed cops and I hope they didn't come.”</p><p dir="ltr">“I hope some crazy, black, ex military personnel decides to shoot up the team and nobody responds to save them... fk BLM,” <a href=";reply_comment_id=532766273582818&amp;comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">wrote</a> a commenter named Angela Davis.</p><p dir="ltr">“Truth is that it is not a Black Lives Matter movement it is a war on police and white people,” David Gonzales Fumero <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">interjected</a>. He added that BLM was “nothing more than a local terrorist organization committing hate crimes.” Fumero’s post earned 400 likes from fellow Blue Lives Matter community members.</p><p dir="ltr">In a separate post, a commenter named Lori Silver <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R6%22%7D">called</a> not only to deny police services to Black Lives Matter supporters, but to black people across America: “I say take ALL of our officers OUT of all the hoods in our country n put them in ONLY white nbrhoods, then they will be safe. Let the hoodrats kill each other.”</p><p dir="ltr">When an Indian-American commenter took issue with the racism that consumes the Blue Lives Matter Facebook threads, a self-identified army veteran named Frank Jakubec launched into a tirade. “Let the Americans run America,” Jakubec <a href=";theater">ranted</a>. “You people come over here and shit all over the unfortunate people that get stuck working for you.”</p><p dir="ltr">Sandwiched between the racist comment threads deluging Blue Lives Matter’s forum every day are ads for a T-shirt supposedly honoring the police officers recently killed in Dallas. The shirt features an image of a <a href=";theater">sword-bearing Crusader</a> with blue crosses emblazoned on his shield and chest plate. A staple of right-wing iconography intended to convey support for civilizational warfare, the Crusader symbol has been <a href="">embraced by British neo-fascists</a> and the late Christian Right icon “American Sniper,” Chris Kyle, who had it <a href="">tattooed</a> on his right arm.</p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="648" width="499"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="648" width="499" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_1.23.57_am.png" /></div><p dir="ltr"><strong>Black heroes for white racists</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Though the Blue Lives Matter Facebook community expresses an aggressively racist sensibility, its most ardent members have a few black heroes. Chief among them is Sheriff Clarke, who is African American, but has <a href="">defended</a> a Confederate monument, <a href="">called</a> Black Lives Matter “black slime” that “needs to be eradicated from American society,” and said he would have <a href="">used more force</a> than the Texas cops who roughed up and <a href="">drew a gun</a> on black teenagers at a pool party.</p><p dir="ltr">When Clarke’s angry confrontation with CNN anchor Don Lemon went viral on July 17, the members of the Blue Lives Matter community lit up with joy. Among the most liked comments was one by Scott Downing, who has posted a <a href=";set=pb.100000152136322.-2207520000.1468986204.&amp;type=3&amp;theater">photo</a> suggesting he works for the Mendota Heights, Minnesota police department. “If Trump wins I say make Sheriff Clarke the next director of the FBI or the DOJ,” Downing <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">proclaimed</a>. “We need leaders who talk the truth, who see the truth, who stand up for the truth, and who are not afraid to put the truth forward regardless of its color.”</p><p dir="ltr">One of the few other black men to <a href=";theater">earn the adulation</a> of Blue Lives Matter supporters was a self-described “Trainer Motivational Speaker” named Kevin Martin who took to Facebook to pledge total obedience to violent cops. Claiming he had been pulled over “COUNTLESS times by the police” while packing a “40 Cal Handgun,” Martin boasted that while he has been searched “for HOURS,” he had never been shot like other black motorists. “WHY?” Martin wrote. “Because I made 1 choice and that was to RESPECT THEIR AUTHORITY, and respect their orders… If the REST of america had the SAME AGENDA, this world would be so different.” </p><p dir="ltr">Martin’s declaration of unilateral submission before the authorities — and his apparent acceptance of being racially profiled — won a favorable post from Blue Lives Matter and <a href=";theater">pats on the back</a> from its supporters. One of the few critical comments, by someone who expressed sorrow over Martin’s claims of being constantly pulled over, earned a <a href=";theater">rebuke</a> from the Blue Lives Matter administrators: “He was stopped for traffic infractions...valid reasons...don't try to spin something positive with such an inflammatory comment.”</p><p dir="ltr">Martin immediately attempted to capitalize on the promotion he received from Blue Lives Matter, initiating a <a href="">pro-police live chat</a> on his Facebook page. “I, as a Black American will tell you why this problem starts directly with us, as black American people,” he promised, “and has very little to do with white America and our Police force.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Calls for slaughtering Black Lives Matter protesters</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This month in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former Marine and apparent black nationalist named Gavin Long gunned down three cops in apparent retaliation for the videotaped execution-style killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers. Back in Long’s hometown of Kansas City, a local reporter knocked on the door of his former home and asked if Long still lived there. When he <a href="">persisted</a> after being told no, an unidentified man inside the house returned to the door, silently bearing a rifle though not pointing it at the reporter.</p><p dir="ltr">Coverage of the minor incident set the Blue Lives Matter Facebook community aflame, with commenters demanding the most bloodthirsty response possible.</p><p dir="ltr">“Blow up the house,” <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">urged</a> a commenter named Joseph Brunner. His post earned almost 300 likes and spurred other commenters to issue similarly destructive propositions.</p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="652" width="495"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="652" width="495" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_1.24.30_am.png" /></div><p dir="ltr">“Government just threaten to take his assistance away and he will run out along with all his family!” <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R1%22%7D">wrote Crystal Rands</a>, a self-described substitute teacher at Minnesota public schools.</p><p dir="ltr">“Hang that peace [sic] of shit from a red light in the middle of baton rouge,” <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R2%22%7D">added Gerald Smith</a>, a Blue Lives Matter supporter.</p><p dir="ltr">A commenter named Danny Sutton who identified as a retired member of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">chimed in</a> with a request for Long’s carcass. Sutton explained that he wanted to deliver the dead body to the local chapter of the New Black Panther Party, a black nationalist group with no connection to the Baton Rouge shooting.</p><p dir="ltr">In post after post, Blue Lives Matter commenters have erupted with violent and racist diatribes against the Black Lives Matter movement. A <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R0%22%7D">meme</a> posted on the page on July 12 by a commenter named Reese Franklin typified the way Blue Lives Matter supporters discuss their perceived arch-enemies, and earned hundreds of likes: “It’s Time For Police To Take The Gloves Off And Put These Black Lives Matter Terrorists Down.”</p><p dir="ltr">“I hope they've enjoyed theirselves,” a commenter named Haley Susann Harris <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">said of Black Lives Matter</a>. “Won't be too much longer until bigger and better people and guns abolish the entire BLM ‘squad’. Going to start pissing off just those right type of people soon.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a separate thread, Eric Thomas, an Army veteran now working at the Florida Department of Transportation, called on whites to take a stand. “Will white America stand up and stop allowing this bullshit from the racist black community!” Thomas stated. “Tell these people to grow up and stop blaming whites for their problems!”</p><p dir="ltr">One of the few dissenters to weigh in on the Baton Rouge thread was an African-American woman named Asha Jamila. “People like the shooter read threads like this and thats all the motivation they need,” Jamila <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">warned</a>. “#BLM wouldn’t have to say one word.”</p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="515" style="width: 482px; height: 515px;" width="482"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="515" style="width: 482px; height: 515px;" width="482" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-07-20_at_6.45.48_pm.png" /></div> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 04:52:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1060439 at Grayzone Project Civil Liberties Grayzone Project cops Blue Lives Matter blm It Is Important to Have Perspective on Elie Wiesel's Legacy <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Officially remembered as a moral giant, Wiesel provided cover to the invasions and occupations that have devastated the Middle East.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/dalai_lama_and_bush_welcome_elie_wiesel_2007.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-c2d7fb22-baeb-d20e-f1f9-be798331201d">The news of Elie Wiesel’s death in the early morning of July 2 ushered in veneration and reflections from figures across the political spectrum, from <a href="">Bill Clinton</a> and <a href="">Donald Trump</a> to <a href="">Benjamin Netanyahu</a> and <a href="">George W. Bush</a>. The outpouring of high-level praise aimed at consolidating Wiesel as the eternal voice of the Holocaust and the central preceptor of its lessons. Those who criticized his legacy or pointed out his moral contradictions, meanwhile, were ferociously attacked by the forces he helped inspire. </p><p dir="ltr">Back when I was in junior high school, the rabbi of my family’s synagogue urged me to read Wiesel’s book <em>Night</em> as part of my Bar Mitzvah preparations. The story offered a look at the existence of Jews deported to Auschwitz and Buchenwald that was as harrowing as it was accessible. Reading <em>Night</em> while studying a Torah portion that chronicled Israelite captivity in ancient Egypt helped cement the Holocaust as a central component of my Jewish identity. Countless other Jews my age experienced Wiesel’s work in a similar fashion and many came to idolize him. Like me, few of them knew much about the man beyond the tribulation he endured in Hitler’s death camps.</p><p dir="ltr">Though my experience was particular to American Jewish life, the general public has been familiarized with Wiesel over the course of several generations through <a href="">educational curricula</a> and an expansive commercial apparatus. In 2006, after Oprah Winfrey’s embarrassing promotion of James Frey’s memoir, <em>A Million Little Pieces, </em>which turned out to be a fabrication, her book club made <em>Night</em> its monthly selection. The public relations maneuver drove the book onto the national bestseller list and centered its author in the celebrity limelight. Soon after, Oprah joined Wiesel on a tour of <a href="">Auschwitz</a>, where he spoke before a camera crew in mystical terms about the souls of those were exterminated and how he communed with them as he stepped across the hallowed ground.</p><p dir="ltr">Through Oprah, Wiesel secured his brand as the high priest of Holocaust theology, the quasi-religion he introduced some 30 years earlier in a New York Times op-ed: “The Holocaust [is] the ultimate event,” he insisted, “the ultimate mystery, never to be comprehended or transmitted. Only those who were there know what it was; the others will never know.”</p><p dir="ltr">Reflecting on the impact of Wiesel’s work, Brooklyn College political science professor Corey Robin <a href="">wrote</a> that he had “turn[ed] the Holocaust into an industry of middlebrow morality and manipulative sentimentality” while sacralizing “the ovens [as] our burning bush.” For the masses of Jewish Americans who subscribed to Wiesel’s secular theology, he was a post-war Moses who interceded between the Western world and a catastrophe that substituted for a merciful God.</p><p dir="ltr">While Wiesel leveraged his literary talents to win sympathy for Jewish victims of genocide, he sought to limit the narratives of other groups subjected to industrial-level extermination. As a member of the advisory council of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1992, he lobbied against recognizing LGBTQ and Roma victims of the Holocaust. A decade earlier, when the Israeli Foreign Ministry demanded Wiesel exclude Armenian scholars from a conference on genocide, fearing damage to the country’s relations with Turkey, he <a href="">resigned</a> from his position as chair rather than defend the scholars. (It was not until 2008 that Wiesel called the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide.)</p><p dir="ltr">Wiesel seemed to view these other victimized groups as competitors in an oppression Olympics, fretting that widespread recognition of the atrocities they suffered would sap his own moral power. The universalist’s credo—"<a href="">Never again to anyone</a>"—was a threat to his saintly status, his celebrity and his bottom line.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Defending Israel, crimes and all</strong></p><p dir="ltr">By popularizing an understanding of the Holocaust as a unique event that existed outside of history, Wiesel helped cast Jews as history's ultimate victims. In turn, he fueled support for the walled-in Spartan state that was supposed to represent their deliverance, and defended everything it said it had to do for their security. “My loyalty to my people, to our people, and to Israel comes first and prevents me from saying anything critical of Israel outside Israel,” Wiesel wrote.</p><p dir="ltr">In the face of increasingly unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, Wiesel counseled silence. “I must identify with whatever Israel does—even with her errors,” he declared.</p><p dir="ltr">Wiesel’s unwavering commitment to Israel undoubtedly influenced his vocal support for President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. “We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq,” he proclaimed in a 2003 <a href="">op-ed</a>. He went on to demand American-orchestrated regime change in <a href="">Syria</a>, <a href="">Libya</a> and Iran. “To be Jewish in this world is to always be concerned,” he <a href="">told</a> an audience on Capitol Hill, endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push for a U.S. attack on Iran. Wiesel’s support for successive assaults on Middle Eastern countries—always on the grounds of defeating “evil”—made him a key asset of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists alike.</p><p dir="ltr">Since 9/11, Wiesel’s figure has helped keep America’s imperial designs safely shrouded in the ghosts of Buchenwald and Babi Yar. As the literary critic Adam Shatz <a href="">wrote</a>, “the author of <em>Night</em> has gone from being a great victim of war crimes to being an apologist for those who commit them—all while invoking his moral authority as a survivor.” Even after the invasions Wiesel advocated for spurred the deaths of some 100,000 Iraqi civilians and the rise of ISIS, his aura remained intact, keeping him insulated from accountability.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Embracing hustlers and demonizing Palestinians</strong></p><p dir="ltr">When federal authorities busted Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme in 2008, Wiesel lost the millions he had amassed through his career as writer and lecturer on the Holocaust. To recoup his losses, he turned to the furthest shores of the American right-wing, forging mutually beneficial relationships with a coterie of pro-Israel hate preachers and hustlers.</p><p dir="ltr">Just months after losing his investments with Madoff, Wiesel <a href="">accepted $500,000</a> from Pastor John Hagee for a single speech. Addressing Hagee’s congregation in San Antonio, Texas, Wiesel heaped praise on the Christian Zionist preacher who once <a href="">described</a> Hitler as a “half-breed Jew,” then called him his "<a href="">dear pastor</a>" in a subsequent interview. Hagee’s <a href="">rants against gays</a> and the indisputably antisemitic passages that prompted John McCain to <a href="">rescind</a> the preacher’s endorsement during his 2008 presidential campaign were of little relevance to Wiesel as he scrambled to regain his fortune.</p><p dir="ltr">Around this time, Wiesel <a href="">fell in</a> with Shmuley Boteach, a self-styled celebrity rabbi who functioned as a liaison for Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. (Adelson began funding Wiesel’s foundation in 2007 with a donation of $1 million). Boteach operated as Wiesel’s de facto agent, arranging high-profile—and likely high-paying—speaking gigs with figures ranging from Baywatch star Pamela Anderson to Senator Ted Cruz. In return, the ethically tainted Boteach was able to bask in the presence of a man regarded with near-universal veneration.</p><p dir="ltr">I met Wiesel for a brief moment at New York University’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Life in February 2014. He had just <a href="">shared a stage</a> with Boteach, Adelson and Paul Kagame, the Rwandan strongman whose M23 proxy militia helped fuel the Congolese genocide. During the event, which was as surreal as it was outrageous, Kagame’s security team brutally ejected a lone audience member who took Wiesel’s call to challenge injustice as a cue to rise from his seat in protest against the Rwandan dictator. Afterward, I approached Wiesel and asked him about his vehement support for <a href="">Jewish settlers</a> ejecting Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. He told me to contact his office and shuffled away.</p><p>That July, Israel embarked on its most lethal operation to date against residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, destroying or damaging some 100,000 homes and killing over 2,200 people, including 551 children. At the height of the assault, a <a href="">shockingly Islamophobic</a> full-page ad appeared in the New York Times under the banner of Boteach’s World Values Network non-profit, which has received substantial funding from Adelson.</p><p dir="ltr">“Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’s turn,” the ad declared. Hammering on the common pro-Israel myth that Palestinians do not value their children’s lives as much as Israelis do, the ad denigrated the besieged residents of Gaza as “worshippers of death cults indistinguishable from that of the Molochites.” The text concluded with the signature of its author, Elie Wiesel, the man who would be <a href="">eulogized</a> by fellow Nobel Prize-winner Barack Obama as “one of the great moral voices of our time.”</p><p dir="ltr">With Wiesel’s death, the elites who relied on him for moral cover leapt at the opportunity to claim his legacy. Meanwhile, the teachings and testimonies of Holocaust survivors who insisted on applying the lessons of the genocide universally—including to Palestinians—remained confined to the margins.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Destroying the dissidents</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Among the Jewish dissidents to emerge from the nightmare of World War Two Europe was Marek Edelman, a member of the Warsaw ghetto resistance who <a href="">published an open letter</a> to Palestinian resistance fighters during the Second Intifada, addressing them respectfully as “Palestinian Partisans” while beseeching them not to attack civilians. There was also <a href="">Hajo Meyer</a>, who spent months in Auschwitz, where he lost his parents, and spent his later years writing slashing critiques of the Zionist movement’s base exploitation of the Holocaust. Like Meyer, <a href="">Hedy Epstein</a> invoked her experience surviving genocide (she escaped on the <a href="">kindertransport</a>) to emphasize the urgency of her activism for Palestinian rights. In her final years, she embarked on an aid flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip and participated in countless demonstrations for human rights, even getting arrested protesting police brutality in St. Louis, Missouri.</p><p dir="ltr">Many Israeli Jews who had fled Europe during the 1930's banded together in radical organizations like the <a href="">Socialist Bund</a>, <a href="">Matzpen</a> and the communist party known as Maki to challenge the military occupation of Palestinians that began inside Israeli territory in 1949. One of the earliest leaders of the Israeli Communist Party, Meir Vilner, used his position in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to expose the massacre by Israeli soldiers of 47 innocent Palestinian farmers in 1956 in the town of Kfar Kassem, where Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had ordered a media blackout.</p><p dir="ltr">“What we wanted to escape in Vilna [Lithuania] we found here [in Israel],” Vilner said after uncovering the atrocities Israel’s military had committed. “There, hatred was directed against Jews; here against Arabs.”</p><p dir="ltr">When these dissidents could not be ignored, they have been <a href="">denigrated</a> by pro-Israel forces as self-haters, race traitors and even frauds. This year, when the Austrian parliament invited Hedy Epstein to participate in an event on women survivors of the Holocaust, she was smeared by Efraim Zuroff, a self-styled “Nazi hunter” who headed the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office. “She is not a survivor in the classical sense,” Zuroff claimed, suggesting that Epstein’s support for Palestinian rights nullified her experience of escaping genocide. The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal <a href="">piled on</a>, painting Epstein as a “pro-Hamas, anti-Israel Jew” and attempting to link her to Iranian Holocaust deniers. As a result of the pressure, the parliamentary event was canceled. Epstein died three months later at age 91.</p><p dir="ltr">On the day of Wiesel’s death, those who took a critical view of his legacy were subjected to the same wrath as the survivors who challenged the segregationist principle he represented. Condemning his anti-Palestinian tirades was painted by right-wing and pro-Israel outlets as tantamount to Holocaust denial, and invited a torrent of incitement and death threats transmitted through social media. (A quick browse through my Twitter interactions will show an almost endless stream of disturbing imprecations).</p><p>With Elie Wiesel gone, his most zealous defenders have set out to destroy those who embraced the message he espoused in his Nobel Prize <a href="">acceptance speech</a>, but which he ultimately failed to uphold: “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”</p> Tue, 05 Jul 2016 04:58:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1059537 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project wiesel Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, the FBI Tried To Lure Him Into a Terror Plot <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New revelations raise questions about the FBI’s role in shaping Mateen’s lethal mindset.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-06-19_at_10.17.49_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons of the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce his participation in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St. Lucie County <a href="" target="_blank">told the Vero Beach Press Journal</a> that after Mateen threatened a courthouse deputy in 2013 by claiming he could order Al Qaeda operatives to kill his family, the FBI dispatched an informant to "lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite."</p><p dir="ltr">While self-styled terror experts and former counter-terror officials have <a href="" target="_blank">criticized the FBI</a> for failing to stop Mateen before he committed a massacre, the new revelation raises the question of whether the FBI played a role in pushing Mateen towards an act of lethal violence. </p><p dir="ltr">Since 9/11, the FBI has relied heavily on informants to entrap scores of young, often mentally troubled Muslim men and send them to prison for as long as 25 years. As Aviva Stahl <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, the FBI recently encouraged an apparently mentally disturbed recent convert to Islam named James Medina to bomb a South Florida synagogue and pledge allegiance to ISIS, a militant group with which he had no prior affiliation. On trial for planning to commit an act of terror with a weapon of mass destruction, Medina has insisted through his lawyer that he is mentally ill.</p><p dir="ltr">Trevor Aaronson, a journalist and author of “Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror,” <a href="" target="_blank">revealed</a> that nearly half of terror cases between 9/11/01 and 2010 involved informants, including some with criminal backgrounds raking in as much as $100,000 from the FBI. The FBI's assets have often preyed on mentally ill men with little capacity to resist their provocations. “Is it possible that the FBI is creating the very enemy we fear?” Aaronson wondered.</p><p dir="ltr">The revelations of FBI manipulation have cast Mateen’s case in a troubling light. Though he refused to bite when an FBI asset attempted to push him into a manufactured plot, he wound up carrying out an act of spectacular brutality years later and allegedly swore loyalty to ISIS in the midst of it. </p><p dir="ltr">“It looks like it's pretty much standard operating procedure for preliminary inquiries to interview the subject or pitch the person to become an informant and/or plant an undercover or informant close by to see if the person bites on the suggestion,” Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, told AlterNet. “In the case of Mateen, since he already worked for a security contractor [G4S], he was either too savvy to bite on the pitch or he may have even become indignant that he was targeted in that fashion. These pitches and use of people can backfire.”</p><p dir="ltr">To highlight the problematic nature of informants, Rowley pointed to the case of <a href="" target="_blank">Humam Khalil al-Balawi</a>, a Jordanian physician whom the CIA used to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda,. The CIA ignored obvious warning signs like Balawi’s extremist online manifestos and never subjected him to a vetting process. While Balawi claimed to have penetrated Al Qaeda’s inner circle, he was actually exploiting his CIA security clearance to plan a major attack. On December 30, 2009, Balawi strode into Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, and detonated an explosive vest that killed seven CIA agents and wounded six more -- the deadliest attack on CIA personnel in 25 years.</p><p dir="ltr">Mateen, for his part, displayed many of the psychological characteristics that typify both FBI informants and the disturbed figures they attempt to ensnare in bogus terror plots. Raised in a troubled home by an abusive mother and an apparently eccentric father, Mateen exhibited <a href="" target="_blank">signs of erratic, violent behavior</a> throughout his life. His ex-wife <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> reporters that he physically abused her and was “unstable and mentally ill.” He transformed from a chubby adolescent to a burly young man with the help of steroids, yearning for a career in law enforcement.</p><p dir="ltr">Seven months into a job as a prison guard in 2007, Mateen was fired for threatening to bring a gun to class. He settled on a career as a low level security guard for G4S Security Solutions, a global security firm that employed him for nine years. Though Mateen’s applications to two police departments were rejected, he was able to pass a G4S background check and receive several guard assignments. (The world’s third largest private employer, G4S has accumulated a staggering record of <a href="" target="_blank">human rights abuses</a>, including accusations of <a href="" target="_blank">child torture</a>.)</p><p dir="ltr">While the full extent of Mateen’s contact with the FBI is unknown, the fact that an informant encouraged Mateen to agree to carry out a terror attack should provoke serious questions and further investigation. Whether or not manipulation by a FBI informant had any impact on Mateen’s deadly decision, there is no denying that the attempt to entrap him did nothing to protect the public.</p><p dir="ltr">“The FBI should scrutinize the operating procedure where they use undercovers and informants and pitch people to become informants,” said Rowley. “They must recognize that, in this case [with Mateen], it had horrible consequences if it did, in fact, backfire.”</p><p> </p> Sun, 19 Jun 2016 07:15:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Sarah Lazare, AlterNet 1058581 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Omar Mateen How Trump and His Hipster Right-Wing Allies Are Trying to Use Gay People as a Weapon Against Muslims <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Pro-Trump provocateur Milo Yiannopolous exploited the Orlando massacre to paint Muslims and liberals as the greatest threat to gays.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/milo_yiannopoulos_journalist_broadcaster_and_entrepreneur-1441_8961808556_cropped-1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">While dozens of survivors of the mass shooting at Orlando’s LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub recovered from gunshot wounds in area hospitals, senior editor of the far-right outlet <em>Breitbart  </em>Milo Yiannopoulos appeared at the site of the massacre for a <a href=";v=xLqkizGtFo0" target="_blank">press conference</a>. Dressed in a dark, neatly tailored suit, flanked by a burly, sunburned bodyguard on one side and his racist hipster friend and <em>Vice</em> co-founder <a href="" target="_blank">Gavin McInness</a> on the other, Yiannopoulos unleashed a rambling tirade against Muslims, collectively blaming them for the shooting spree by the Afghan-American Omar Mateen.</p><p dir="ltr">“We will shoot back,” the openly gay former tech entrepreneur vowed, dabbing the sweat pouring from his brow with a handkerchief.</p><p>Racing breathlessly through his lengthy manifesto and glancing down at notes on his smartphone every few seconds, Yiannopolous took time to deny the existence of a rape crisis on college campuses -- “to believe that you’d have to believe that America resembles the Congo” -- trashed the columnist and CNN commentator Sally Kohn as a “Jewish lesbian feminist lunatic,” promoted the Israeli army as a model for gay self-protection, compared himself to Alexis de Tocqueville, and celebrate the Catholic church in Ireland for supposedly “looking after gay people before any Western state did.”</p><p>“I want you to listen me on social issues,” he pleaded before a small crowd of supporters. “I want you to listen to me on this minority war that the left has forced us into.”</p><p dir="ltr">It might have been easy to dismiss the display of sneering, English-accented resentment as the irritable mental gestures of an attention starved, neo-fascist popinjay. But Yiannopolous had not traveled to the scene of a blood soaked hate crime to promote himself alone. He was also in Orlando as a surrogate for the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, helping the campaign’s roll out its gay outreach strategy, which paints immigrant friendly liberals as the true enemy of LGBTQ communities.</p><p dir="ltr">“Trump is probably the most gay friendly candidate for president in either party in decades...” Yiannopolous proclaimed. “He could be the most gay friendly president in history.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Alt-right lite</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Yiannopolous’s extremist absurdism has made him an icon of the movement known as the alt-right. Alt-right adherents present themselves as an edgy antidote to the corporate-run, ideologically sanitized GOP, but their politics reflect little more than a <a href="">lumbersexual</a>, artisanally handcrafted rebranding of the black and brown-hating white nationalism that has always festered at the base of the conservative movement. While Yiannopolous won’t go as far as the ideologues who <a href="" target="_blank">yearn</a> for “an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” he makes no secret of his <a href="" target="_blank">hatred of women</a> and rails against Muslims with an almost violent fury. During his press conference in Orlando, for instance, Yiannopolous seemed to lament that the police presence around local mosques had prevented people from taking righteous revenge, which he downplayed as “being rude to Muslims.”</p><p dir="ltr">To <a href="" target="_blank">Richard B. Spencer</a>, a white nationalist champion of “peaceful ethnic cleansing” who is widely credited with authoring the alt-right brand, Yiannopolous is “alt-right lite,” an effective “entry point, gateway drug pushing towards us.”</p><p dir="ltr">Through Trump, the movement has found a vehicle for promoting its ideas to the general public. “Donald Trump has ironically had a huge effect on the explosion of the hashtag alt-right…” Spencer explained. “He has inspired the alt-right because he has attacked and humiliated a lot of the things that I hate.”</p><p dir="ltr">Spencer has <a href="" target="_blank">referred</a> to Trump’s rise as an “implicit white revolt.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Israel’s pinkwashing inspiration</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The massacre at a gay club by a Muslim born in the US to Afghan immigrants provided Yiannopolous and the alt-right with what seemed like a prime organizing opportunity. In Orlando, Yiannopolous painted the presence of Muslims in the West as the greatest threat to gay people like him and held immigrant friendly progressives directly responsible for the bloodbath. “The social justice warrior left is the single biggest enemy to gay people, to gay security,” he declared, “and to the wellbeing of homosexuals and every other minority they claim to represent that exists in America today.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yiannopolous’s rhetoric tracked closely with a speech by Trump the day after the Orlando shooting, in which the Republican nominee <a href="" target="_blank">attacked</a> his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a danger to gay people. “Clinton wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country — they enslave women, and murder gays,” Trump thundered. “I don’t want them in our country.”</p><p dir="ltr">Though Trump was probably unaware, his talking points were first honed by the Israeli government and its international network of supporters. Popularly known as pinkwashing, the Israeli propaganda tactic aims to recast a settler-colonial apartheid state as a gay-friendly bastion that all principled liberals must support. Exported into the Western political atmosphere through an aggressive public relations operation, <a href="" target="_blank">pinkwashing</a> is used to undermine solidarity between Muslims and LGBTQ communities, disrupting the progressive coalition building that Israel’s government views as a strategic threat. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put the technique on display by delivering a characteristically exploitative June 15 <a href=";id=124149704266450&amp;;_rdr" target="_blank">video message</a> linking the Orlando mass shooting to Palestinian violence and anti-Christian atrocities in Syria, and pointing to Islam as the common thread that united the killers.</p><p dir="ltr">As with Israel’s pinkwashing propaganda, Trump’s gay outreach strategy makes the support of gay people contingent on their fear and loathing of Muslims. Within a community that won its rights through solidarity with other targets of discrimination, Trump’s appeals to bigotry <a href="">stand little chance</a> of finding traction. The wider electorate has rejected his anti-Muslim messaging as well, <a href="" target="_blank">driving his unfavorability ratings</a> to new heights.</p><p dir="ltr">For Yiannopolous, however, the rejection of Trump’s response to the Orlando shooting -- by extension, his own -- is just an illusion cooked up by liberal elites. “The only people who are surprised by the fact that Muslims don’t like gays very much are journalists, politicians and celebrities,” he proclaimed. “Everybody else gets it.”</p> Sat, 18 Jun 2016 10:22:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1058517 at News & Politics Grayzone Project News & Politics donald trump 2016 elections anti-LGBTQ Milo Yiannopoulos Gavin McInness breitbart As It Shapes ISIS-Centric Narrative, Orlando Police Reject Freedom of Information Request for Audio of Nightclub Shooter’s 911 Call <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">By carefully managing the release of information, law enforcement appears to be shaping a politically convenient storyline.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_425262052.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Hours after Omar Mateen opened fire in the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the Orlando Police Department informed the media that Mateen had sworn allegiance to ISIS in a call to its 911 emergency line. This single detail became the focus of all the coverage that followed, prompting politicians from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump and a parade of pundits to call for stepped up military efforts and hardline measures against Muslim-American communities.</p><p>As scrutiny of the Orlando Police Department’s response to the shooting spree intensifies and Mateen’s profile grows more complex with each new detail, the department is refusing to release the audio of the killer’s alleged 911 call.</p><p>On June 13, AlterNet’s Grayzone Project submitted a request under Florida’s public records law for a written transcript and/or an audio recording of any and all phone calls that Mateen made to Orlando’s 911 emergency line on the date of the Pulse Nightclub mass killing.</p><p>Janet Lugo, the records and identification unit supervisor for the Orlando Police Department, replied on June 14: “The records being requested are exempt from disclosure at this time. Section 119.071(2)(c)1., Florida Statutes, exempts from disclosure all active criminal investigative information.”</p><p>The <a href=";Search_String=&amp;URL=0300-0399/0365/Sections/0365.171.html">statute</a> exempts “all active criminal investigative information” from disclosure by Florida government agencies.</p><p>Michael German, a fellow with the NYU Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, commented to AlterNet that “it’s clear that these law enforcement officials are selectively focusing on particular aspects of the attack when they speak with the media. For someone to cite allegiance to multiple terrorist groups that are actually in conflict with one another certainly does not reflect a deep attachment to any individual group’s ideology or political goal.”</p><p>According to FBI officials, Mateen previously pledged simultaneous allegiance to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two militant groups <a href="">fighting on opposite sides</a> of the Syrian civil war, and whose members have <a href="">battled ISIS</a> at various intervals.</p><p>The details of Mateen’s call to 911 provided to the media by the Orlando Police department and witnesses to the shooting highlight Mateen’s ideological incoherence. According to an anonymous police official <a href="">quoted by the Daily Beast</a>, Mateen told police that he was protesting U.S. bombing “in Iraq and Syria.” However, a witness named Patience Carter was <a href="">quoted by the Washington Post</a> claiming that Mateen wanted “Americans to stop bombing his country.” Mateen is the son of immigrants from Afghanistan, where the US is waging a military campaign against the Taliban—yet another militant group that <a href="">is battling ISIS</a>.</p><p>Despite the array of new details that case Mateen as an erratic figure consumed with personal and psychological issues with little relevance to international terror organizations, the mainstream media’s narrative of a hardcore  jihadist has remained intact, and thanks largely to law enforcement’s careful management of information. Indeed, the focus on ISIS has overwhelmed other important factors in the massacre, from lax gun laws to homegrown homophobia to Mateen’s history of domestic violence and possible struggle with his own sexuality.</p><p><strong>The US-ISIS echo chamber</strong></p><p>The official narrative of the massacre and the motives behind it was neatly encapsulated by a <a href="">New York Times report</a> on June 13:</p><blockquote><p>“Mr. Mateen called 911, beginning a series of calls and conversations with the police, in which he declared allegiance to the Islamic State, the terrorist group that has taken over parts of Syria, Iraq and Libya.”</p><p>“He was cool and calm when he was making those phone calls to us,” Chief [John] Mina said. “We had a team of crisis negotiators that did talk to the suspect, just trying to get as much information as possible, and they focused on what they could do to resolve the situation.”</p></blockquote><p>Even as the Orlando Police Department refused to release the audio of Mateen’s alleged call to 911, it provided details of the conversation to journalists. Daily Beast reporter Michael Daly <a href="">wrote</a> on Monday, “As paraphrased by the senior law enforcement source, Mateen told the 911 operator that, ‘I’m doing this to protest the U.S. bombing in Syria and Iraq and the killing of women and children… I’m doing this in solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers and Moner Abu-Salha.’” (The Tsarnaev brothers carried out a homemade bomb attack on the Boston Marathon in 2013; the following year, Abu-Salha became the first US citizen to engage in a suicide attack in Syria.)</p><p>The narrative has filtered down to right-wing tabloid media in predictable fashion, with the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post running a 10-page spread on the Pulse Nightclub massacre beneath a banner reading, <a href="">“ISIS VS. US.”</a></p><p>ISIS-related media outlets have exploited the opportunity to claim credit for Mateen’s attack, echoing US media accounts in what former FBI counter-terror agent <a href="">Ali Soufan described</a> as “circular reporting.”</p><p><strong>A bonanza for militaristic politicians</strong></p><p>However bizarre Mateen’s conflicting allegiances might have been, the reports of his support for ISIS provided militaristic politicians from both parties with an irresistible opportunity.</p><p>True to form, Donald Trump <a href="">exploited the massacre</a> to promote his proposed ban on Muslims and call for an escalation of U.S. bombings against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Hillary Clinton issued a strikingly similar response, <a href="">calling for an expansion</a> of the government’s terror watch list and <a href="">declaring</a>, “We should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign [in Syria].”</p><p>Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker who <a href="">appears eager</a> to be Trump’s vice presidential nominee, called for the <a href="">revival</a> of the House Un-American Activities Committee. From across the aisle, the former Democratic representative from Massachusetts and liberal icon <a href="">Barney Frank asserted</a> that the Orlando massacre “reinforces the case for significant surveillance by law enforcement of people who have given some indication of adoption of these angry Islamic hate views.”</p><p>FBI pressure to suppress allegations about Mateen’s sexuality?</p><p>A closer look at the available information about Mateen’s personal history demonstrates a more complex set of possible factors behind his killing rampage. Mateen did not receive training from any Islamic extremist organization, however, he was a longtime employee of G4S, a private security firm and prison provider with a record of human rights abuses that spans across the globe. Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, has <a href="">detailed</a> physical and emotional abuse at the killer’s hands, referring to him as “disturbed” saying her family had to rescue her in 2009 after he held her “hostage.”</p><p>At least four Pulse patrons <a href="">told</a> the Orlando Sentinal they had seen Mateen at the club before on numerous occasions, and Yusufiy has <a href="">stated</a> that she believes that Mateen was sexually attracted to men. Meanwhile, Mateen’s father <a href="">told</a> NBC that his son become “very angry” after seeing two men kissing.</p><p>Shockingly, Yusufiy's current fiance, Marco Dias, <a href="">told</a> a Brazilian television station that she was asked by the FBI not to reveal Mateen’s same-sex attraction “to the American media.” If true, the revelation reinforces suspicions that law enforcement is managing the release of information to shape a politically convenient narrative.</p><p>“Police release whatever information they choose through official leaks,” Jim Naureckas, editor of Extra!, the magazine of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, told AlterNet. “The media then treat official information as the gold standard of information. This makes them very dependent because, if reporters don’t spin stories the way police want, they can be cut off from unofficial leaks.”</p><p>“It’s not clear why they are releasing the characterization of the 911 call and not releasing the call itself,” Naureckas continued. “It seems like an opportunity to pull the strings of media coverage.”</p> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 16:02:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Sarah Lazare, AlterNet 1058342 at Grayzone Project Civil Liberties Grayzone Project News & Politics foia African-American Student Accused of 'Bias Incident' by St. Louis University for Condemning Israeli Human Rights Abuses <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">School administration implies that a student is antisemitic for challenging organizers of a pro-Israel campus event.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-05-26_at_10.11.18_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-72d3c477-ed66-a37a-e281-a0bddce57029">On April 4, after sitting through a two-hour presentation at St. Louis University about the state of Israel’s humanitarian gifts to the world, portraying the country as a global savior and ignoring its military occupation of Palestine, a sophomore named Christopher Winston rose from the crowd with a series of questions.</p><p dir="ltr">Challenging the presenters, who represented the school’s Jewish Student Association, Winston raised the fact that the Palestinian Red Crescent had declared a <a href="">state of emergency</a> in response to routine Israeli military attacks on its ambulances and harassment of its personnel. In a <a href=";;app=desktop">videotaped exchange</a>, Winston can be seen arguing politely with a presenter, who invoked the threat of “terrorist” Hamas before declaring, “If you would like to discuss this further, as I said, this is not the event for that.”</p><p dir="ltr">The argument continued after the formal Q&amp;A session ended, prompting one pro-Israel organizer to threaten to summon campus police to remove Winston, the only African American at the event. (Jewish Student Association members did not threaten to call security on a white student, Joel Milburn, who criticized Israel’s human rights record during the event.)</p><p dir="ltr">“Thank you, your Zionist fascism is on full display today,” Winston replied, according to an account he supplied to AlterNet. </p><p dir="ltr">A week after the episode, Winston received <a href="">a letter</a> from St. Louis University’s Department of Student Responsibility and Community Standards informing him that two members of the Jewish Student Association, Scott Lasky and David Weinstein, had filed a complaint against him. Winston was slapped with a “no contact order”—the school’s equivalent of a restraining order—alleging that Lasky and Weinstein were “concerned for their health, safety and well-being.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Inappropriate behavior that one might perceive as retaliatory by anyone including friends and family will not be tolerated,” the letter read. “If you find yourself inadvertently in the presence of Mr. Lasky or Mr. Weinstein, you need to avoid any contact with them and civility is expected.” Both Lasky and Weinstein were given reciprocal orders.</p><p dir="ltr">Winston’s trials did not end there. On May 11, he was informed that the campus Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) had found him guilty of involvement in a “bias related incident.” The finding suggested that St. Louis University administrators interpreted Winston’s anti-Zionist commentary and criticism of Israeli human rights abuses as antisemitic hate speech. The school also accused Winston of violating its policy against “disruptive behavior.” </p><p dir="ltr">The stern punishment campus administration meted out to Winston stood in stark contrast to the slap on the wrist it delivered to members of St. Louis University’s baseball team who had <a href="">unleashed a torrent</a> of racist, anti-black rants against President Obama. On a group chat board, the baseball players referred to Obama as a “F**king watermelon eatin baboon” and lamented that “they got a colored running the country.” Team members retaliated against the student who exposed the messages, spitting chewing tobacco outside his room. Rather than subjecting the players to immediate punishment, the university president’s special assistant for diversity and inclusion called for “a restorative justice process,” sparking outrage from African-American students.</p><p dir="ltr">St. Louis University spokespeople Clayton Berry provided AlterNet with a boilerplate statement on Winston's case: "Without commenting on specific cases, the University can say unequivocally that it stands not only against racism, but against all forms of discrimination based on race, gender, sex, religion, ability, national origin and veteran status. The University stands just as firmly on its commitment to free and civil discourse and the exchange of ideas and opinions its campus."   </p><p dir="ltr">St. Louis University is a private institution that is not bound by the First Amendment, giving it unlimited latitude to discipline students for violating the speech codes enshrined in its code of conduct.</p><p dir="ltr">The Palestine Legal Center, an independent organization that defends the legal rights of Palestine solidarity activists to organize in the United States, <a href="">issued a letter</a> to St. Louis University president Fred Pestello, demanding the school rescind its findings against Winston. The letter declared that “by punishing Mr. Winston for expressing his viewpoints in a manner entirely consistent with the forum, [St. Louis University] has sent a message that certain political viewpoints are not welcome on campus and that free speech principles do not apply equally to all students.”</p><p dir="ltr">Winston told AlterNet he was convinced that “the handling of this case proceeded from the assumption that I am antisemitic.” He added, “I believe that the university has abused me because of my political identity and race. I strongly disagree with the disciplinary handling of this case, and do believe that there is a double standard for supporters of Palestinian rights.”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite his censure for speaking out against Israeli human rights abuses, Winston says he is undeterred. “I will continue to work to build and aid the Palestine solidarity struggle and continue to remain a firm supporter of the right of the people of Palestine to exist and realize national liberation,” he vowed.</p> Thu, 26 May 2016 07:09:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1057209 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Israel palestine bds Grayzone college rights speech Neocons Cry Anti-Semitism Over the Pro-Trump 'Renegade Jew' Smear That They Popularized <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">William Kristol and his allies are outraged that the vicious tactic they generated has been turned against them.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-05-17_at_11.55.39_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-ba9aa581-bf6e-d6cb-a4a5-1996b5e6687b">An article labeling neoconservative movement leader, Fox News pundit and orchestrator of the #NeverTrump movement William Kristol as a “<a href="">Renegade Jew</a>” has sparked a frenzy on online news and social media forums. Written  by David Horowitz, another neoconservative, for the pro-Trump Breitbart website, the piece trashed Kristol for his plans to back a third party candidate against Trump, the populist evildoer at the top of the Republican establishment’s political kill list.</p><p dir="ltr">The phrase “Renegade Jew” has trended on Twitter for days after the publication of Horowitz’s tirade, with many anti-Trump conservatives echoing Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s <a href="">positive spin</a>: “To be fair, “Renegade Jew” sounds remarkably badass.” Liberals, meanwhile, <a href="">touted the Horowitz attack</a> as evidence of the anti-Semitism unleashed by the Trump campaign, which has provided fertile soil for grassroots white nationalist organizing.</p><p dir="ltr">In almost every case, the commentary on Horowitz’s outburst misses the ironic subtext that explains the origins of the ugly slur: As a leader of the neoconservative faction that formed in the defense of and in alignment with Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, Kristol himself has been a prime promoter of the “Renegade Jew” smear, presiding over campaigns to brand left-wing and liberal Jews as anti-Semitic apostates and demanding they be treated as pariahs by the community in which he and his ideological fellow travelers claim to be the authorities.</p><p dir="ltr">Kristol’s Weekly Standard magazine and the Washington Free Beacon online tabloid edited by his son-in-law, Matthew Continetti, have functioned as key vehicles for these smears against “Renegade Jews,” especially targeting <a href="">liberal supporters of Israel</a> for diverging from the Likudnik party line. Ethnically charged attacks against liberal Jews by Kristol’s media apparatus are so frequent and numerous that compiling them all might drive a researcher to exhaustion. A brief round-up is enough to demonstrate how zealously and routinely Kristol and his cadres have resorted to the “Renegade Jew” smear.</p><p dir="ltr"><b>Condemning Goldstone as a traitorous snitch</b></p><p dir="ltr">There are few “Renegade Jews” that Kristol and his Weekly Standard loathe more than those who staff J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobbying organization established to support the Obama administration’s negotiation efforts in Israel-Palestine. Back in 2009, when J Street was founded, the Weekly Standard’s <a href="">Michael Goldfarb described</a> the group as “nothing more than a partisan, Democratic organization trying to provide Jewish cover to an administration that is hostile to Israel -- they only stand with the [Iranian] mullahs because Obama stands with the mullahs.”</p><p dir="ltr">That same year, Goldfarb composed a <a href="">satirical poem</a> in the voice of two Jewish poets supposedly disinvited by J Street from the group’s first annual convention. The fake poem written by Goldfarb included the following line: “I write the names of the censored, the silenced, the forgotten the J Street capo has handed my name to the new Jew Gestapo I read my words distorted by neocon distorters.”</p><p dir="ltr">In 2010, following Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, the United Nations appointed Richard Goldstone, a distinguished Jewish jurist from South Africa, to lead its fact-finding mission into alleged war crimes. Goldstone fell under immediate attack from the demagogic pro-Israel lawyer Alan Dershowitz, an attorney who has <a href="">represented Sheldon Adelson</a>, the casino magnate who is the major financial backer of both the Israeli Likud and US Republican Parties and has now pledged $100 million to the campaign of Donald Trump. Dershowitz <a href="">engaged in character assassination</a> against Goldstone, calling him a “moser” and an “absolute traitor.”</p><p dir="ltr">Drawn from Talmudic teachings, the <a href="">condemnatory term</a> “moser” refers to Jewish snitches that  betray fellow Jews to Gentile authorities. The traditional punishment for <em>moserim</em> has ranged over the centuries from the severing of tongues and ears to execution. Faced with a torrent of pro-Israel threats, Goldstone was eventually prevented from attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, a family event that Dershowitz accused him of <a href="">“politicizing”</a> through his mere presence.</p><p dir="ltr">The Weekly Standard eagerly signed on to Dershowitz’s campaign to brand Goldstone as a Renegade Jew. Leading the charge was Rachel Abrams. The late wife of the former Reagan official Elliott Abrams, who pled guilty for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, Rachel Abrams was an outspoken proponent of genocide against Palestinians, <a href="">describing them as</a> “child sacrificing savages” and “unmanned animals.” After <a href="">denouncing</a> Goldstone as the “favorite judge” of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (the horror!) during the dark days of apartheid South Africa, Rachel Abrams <a href="">hailed</a> Dershowitz’s screed against Goldstone’s report on Gaza as “a masterpiece of dismantlement.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the end, Goldstone felt the strain of the sustained campaign of vitriol and recanted key aspects report he oversaw, even disowning the co-authors who did the bulk of the research.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The family that smears together</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The neoconservative movement is an incestuous enterprise that journalist <a href="">Jim Lobe called</a> “an extended clan of friends, spouses and children who have known each other for generations.” Rachel Abrams, a former board member of Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel, was the daughter of founding generation neocons Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, who are also the parents of New York Post columnist John Podhoretz and Ruthie Blum, a writer the Adelson funded, pro-Netanyahu daily newspaper Israel Hayom who has lived in an illegal Israeli settlement.</p><p dir="ltr">This neoconservative hothouse has reflexively reverted to the “Renegade Jew” charge as a substitute for reasoned debate with critics of Israeli policies. When the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt published her famous essay on the Adolph Eichmann trial and the "banality of evil" in 1963, Norman Podhoretz led the crusade to publicly discredit her and bully her editors at the New Yorker into disowning her work. John Podhoretz has regularly re-enacted his father's histrionics, albeit in much cruder form. He once took to Twitter to <a href="">call me</a> a “kapo,” or a Jewish guard in a Nazi concentration camp, then fired off the same insult against <a href="">Eli Valley</a>, a Jewish cartoonist whose send-ups of the pro-Israel political establishment have frequently appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The next generation of character assassins</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The son of first generation neocons Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, William Kristol founded the Weekly Standard in 1995. The magazine functioned as a farm system for young right-wing writers like Matthew Continetti, who broke into the conservative movement through a group co-founded by Kristol’s father, the Institute for Collegiate Studies. That organization provided Continetti with his salary when he went to work for the Weekly Standard. It was there that Continetti was essentially handed his <a href="">first book deal</a> by William Kristol, <em>The K Street Gang</em>, assigning him an editor to help write his proposal, and then helping arrange for its sale and promotion. (Continetti’s second book, <em>The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star</em>, was a defense of the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008 who Kristol discovered during a Weekly Standard cruise to her home state of Alaska. Palin employed Michael Goldfarb as a spokesman on her 2008 campaign).</p><p dir="ltr">In 2012, Continetti <a href="">married</a> Anne Kristol, the daughter of his boss.</p><p dir="ltr">That same year, Continetti helped found The Free Beacon with help from Kristol, who served as a board member of the Goldfarb-run <a href="">shell organization</a> whose sole function was presiding over the newborn magazine’s funding and publication. Vowing in the Free Beacon’s founding manifesto to conduct ruthless “combat journalism,” Continetti -- the son of Catholic parents -- proceeded to deploy the “Renegade Jew” smear with reckless abandon.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="">“Hughes Drops Jews,”</a> the Free Beacon headline blared in January 2013. Chris Hughes, a Silicon Valley tech baron, had just purchased The New Republic, provoking an exodus of writers that included several unpaid contributing editors who had <a href="">contributed</a> almost nothing to the magazine for several years. Although only five of the twelve writers happened to be Jewish, the Free Beacon accused Hughes of leading the digital media equivalent of an anti-Semitic pogrom in collaboration with another person the Free Beacon considered a Renegade Jew: The New Republic’s then-editor-in-chief Franklin Foer.   </p><p dir="ltr">One of the most recent targets of a Free Beacon-crafted Renegade Jew smear was Simone Zimmerman, a founder of the left-wing Jewish protest group, If Not Now, and former campus activist for J Street. When she was appointed this year as Jewish outreach director by Senator Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign, Zimmerman came under <a href="">ferocious attack</a> from a host of right-wing pro-Israel organizations. The campaign culminated when <a href="">Noah Pollack</a>, the director of Kristol’s pro-Likud Emergency Committee for Israel, publicized a Facebook post in which Zimmerman wrote, “Fuck you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you represent even a fraction of Jews in the world...” Posted during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military campaign against the Gaza Strip in 2014, Zimmerman’s item led to her suspension from the Sanders campaign.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Declaring Jewish liberalism a form of apostasy</strong></p><p dir="ltr">A Free Beacon review of a diatribe against Jews who criticize Israel perfectly captured the magazine’s mindset. Headlined  “<a href="">The Enemies Within</a>,” the review provided fulsome praise for “Jews Against Themselves,” an obscure book that described both J Street and the left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace as “internal enemies” and accused them of embracing “the ‘sissy’ Jewish school of thought.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Free Beacon reviewer highlighted what he considered an “important suggestion” from the book: “Remember that exclusion is as much a function of human intellect as inclusion. And view them as apostates—Jews who, in Maimonides’s words, are indifferent to their people when they are in distress and therefore have no share in the World to Come.”</p><p dir="ltr">Now that Kristol has been branded as a Renegade Jew, his cadres appear mystified. “What does [David] Horowitz think Kristol has betrayed? And what does his being Jewish have to do with it?... I’m a little hazy,” the Free Beacon’s <a href="">Matthew Walther</a> wrote of the notorious Breitbart headline.</p><p dir="ltr">While Kredo<a href="">expressed horror</a> that Kristol had been of “smeared with anti-Semitic slurs,” Jonathan Tobin, executive editor of the Commentary Magazine edited by John Podhoretz and a close ally of Kristol, <a href="">berated Horowitz</a> for daring to “wrap him[self] in the Star of David and to somehow brand his opponents as traitors to the pro-Israel cause.” Tobin, however, has been an avid user of the “Renegade Jew” smear. He deployed it, for example, in <a href="">2011</a> against New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, an occasional critic of Israel's settlement enterprise, for supposedly trafficking in “a new form of anti-Semitism” as well as “feed[ing] off of traditional themes of Jew-hatred.”  </p><p dir="ltr">Ultimately, it was Kristol and his allies who popularized this vicious tactic and helped generate the smear they now decry. Yet they react with shock that their chickens have finally come home to roost.</p> Tue, 17 May 2016 08:53:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1056670 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project neocons Israel rightwing blumenthal jewish How Opponents of U.K. Labour Leader Corbyn Advanced a Political Coup With Antisemitism Smears <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Inside the pro-Israel campaign to crush Labour’s left-wing insurgency.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-05-06_at_10.47.28_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">Chris Mullins’ 1982 political thriller, <em>A Very British Coup</em>, introduced British readers to a Marxist former steelworker named Harry Perkins who sends his country’s political elite into a frenzy by winning a dramatic election for prime minister. Desperate to foil his plans to remove American military bases from British soil, nationalize the country’s industries and abolish the aristocratic House of Lords, a convergence of powerful forces led by MI5 security forces initiate a plot to undermine Perkins through surveillance and subterfuge. When their machinations fail against a resolute and surprisingly wily politician, the security forces resort to fabricating a scandal, hoping to force him to abdicate power to a more pliable member of his own party.</p><p dir="ltr">Adapted into an award-winning <a href="">1988 television miniseries</a>, Mullins’ script closely resembles the real-life campaign to destroy the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. A left-wing populist with pronounced anti-imperialist leanings, Corbyn is seen by his opponents in much the same light as Perkins was in Mullins’ treatment: “You’re a bad dream. I could always comfort myself with the thought that socialism would never work,” Percy Brown, an aristocratic MI5 chief sworn to the prime minister’s ruin, told his enemy. “But you, Mr. Perkins, could destroy everything that I’ve ever believed in.”</p><p dir="ltr">After years as a backbencher in parliament railing against Tony Blair’s business-friendly agenda and mobilizing opposition to the invasion of Iraq, Corbyn emerged last summer as a frontrunner for Labour leadership. Against vociferous opposition, he stunned his opponents with a landslide victory, winning nearly 60% of the vote with help from a grassroots coalition of Muslim immigrants, blue-collar workers and youthful left-wing activists.</p><p dir="ltr">Just as Corbyn’s success stunned the party establishment, his rise infuriated the country’s powerful pro-Israel forces. Corbyn’s parliamentary office has served as a hub for the Palestine solidarity movement and his name has been featured prominently on resolutions condemning Israeli atrocities. At an <a href="">election forum</a> convened last year by the Labour Friends of Israel, Corbyn redoubled his support for key components of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that is pressuring Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians while Blair’s favored candidate, Liz Kendall, said she would fight it with “every fiber in my body.”</p><p dir="ltr">Just after Corbyn’s victory, Chris Mullins predicted that Labour’s new leader would face a blizzard of smears not unlike the kind Perkins confronted. “The media will go bananas, of course,” Mullins <a href="">told</a> the Independent. “There will be attempts to paint [Corbyn] as a Trot[skyite]. I think that may already have started. Every bit of his past life will be raked through and every position he has ever taken will be thrown back under him. Former wives and girlfriends will be sought out. His sanity will be questioned.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Distracting from inequality</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron set the tone for the coming smear campaign when he <a href="">tweeted</a> a day after Corbyn’s election, “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.”</p><p dir="ltr">It was around this time that allegations about Labour’s “antisemitism problem” began to gain steam. As this week’s local elections approached, the chorus of outrage erupted into the mainstream, with outlets from the Daily Mail—the tabloid still owned by the Rothermere family that supported the British Union of Fascists and <a href="">expressed admiration</a> for Hitler during the 1930s—to the liberal Guardian howling about a plague of Jew hatred spreading through the ranks of Labour since it opened up to the so-called Corbynistas. Even the Israeli government has gotten in the act, with its ambassador denouncing Corbyn on national TV while Israel’s Labor Party threatens a boycott of its sister party in the UK.</p><p dir="ltr">Behind the manufactured scandal is a real struggle over the future course of Labour. The right-leaning elements empowered by Tony Blair are determined to suppress the influence of an increasingly youthful, ethnically diverse party base that views the hawkish, pro-business policies of the past with general revulsion. With the British middle class in shambles after three decades of constant benefit cuts and a new generation in open revolt, Labour’s Blairite wing has embraced a cynical strategy to shatter the progressive coalition that brought Corbyn to power.</p><p dir="ltr">By branding the solidarity with the Palestinian cause flourishing among British Muslims and radical leftists as a form of antisemitism, the elements arrayed against Corbyn have managed to manufacture a scandal that supersedes more substantive issues. Right-wing bloggers have been dispatched to trawl through the social media postings of newer Labour members to dredge up evidence of offensive commentary about Israel and Jews or invent it when none exists. In the paranoid atmosphere Corbyn’s foes have cultivated, virtually any fulsome expression of anti-Zionism seems likely to trigger a suspension.</p><p dir="ltr">For Prime Minister Cameron, the scandal generated by Corbyn’s intra-party foes provides a chance to distract from the row over his family <a href="">hiding its wealth</a> in an offshore tax shelter, the <a href="">chaos over the Brexit debate</a> and the <a href="">disastrous results</a> of his Islamophobic attacks on the Muslim candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Among the most eager to join the pile-on was London Mayor Boris Johnson, who <a href="">claimed</a> “a virus of antisemitism hangs over Labour” just days after <a href="">ranting</a> that Barack Obama’s “part-Kenyan” heritage gave him “an ancestral dislike of the British Empire.”</p><p dir="ltr">Suddenly, Corbyn and allies who launched their careers in grassroots anti-racism struggles find themselves on the defensive about bigotry—and from a few accusers who have actual records of racist rhetoric. With nearly 20 party members already suspended for supposedly antisemitic comments, the witch hunt <a href="">claimed Jackie Walker</a>, a veteran black-Jewish anti-racism activist and leftwing Labour stalwart. Walker’s sin was harshly condemning the transatlantic slave trade as the “African holocaust.” Filched from her social media postings and publicized by a group called the Israel Advocacy Movement, her comments triggered an immediate suspension. “If they can do this to me,” Walker said, “then they can do it to anyone.”</p><p dir="ltr">Those behind the escalating crusade will not be satisfied until they claim Corbyn as well. Indeed, the manufactured scandal around antisemitism appears to be just one step on the way to a bloodless coup.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Fabricating a scandal</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Far from the gaze of the mainstream British media, a researcher named Jamie Stern-Weiner has conducted perhaps the <a href="">most thorough investigation</a> into the claims of an “antisemitism problem” within Labour. Stern-Weiner found that out of 400,000 party members, perhaps a dozen had been suspended for supposedly antisemitic remarks.</p><p dir="ltr">Surveying the individual cases, he discovered that many, if not most, of the offending comments related to Israel and Israeli policy, not Jews per se. Stern-Weiner went on to demonstrate that Guido Fawkes, the right-wing gossip blogger responsible for a substantial number of the antisemitism outrages that erupted in the British media, had doctored passages from Labour members’ social media postings to make them appear more offensive than they actually were.</p><p dir="ltr">“The chasm between this proffered evidence and the sweeping condemnations which have appeared in the press…is truly vast,” Stern-Weiner concluded. “Even were all the above charges true, what would it prove? The social media postings of a handful of mostly junior party members have no necessary representative significance, and plainly do not demonstrate widespread antisemitism.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Antisemitism without evidence</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Though British press has framed Labour’s “antisemitism problem” as a recently discovered and entirely organic phenomenon, elements in the party have been pushing it since the race for Labour leadership. And many of the offending social media posts were published during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the party was under the command of Ed Miliband, a Jew who issued <a href="">stern criticism</a> of Israel at the time.</p><p dir="ltr">The issue gained steam in February, when Alex Chalmers resigned last February as the vice-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club. <a href="">According to Chalmers</a>, Palestine solidarity activists had taken over his school’s Labour chapter and made life unbearable for Jewish students. He rattled off a litany of incidents that constituted antisemitism in his view. Almost all of them related to Israel, from angry remarks about its government and supporters to chants in support of Hamas. Chief among Chalmers’ grievances was “members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’” — a shorthand for Zionist that he viewed as the very embodiment of antisemitic rhetoric.</p><p dir="ltr">Chalmers provided no evidence to support his inflammatory allegations. And none was required for the outrage to make its way across the Atlantic. Within days of Chalmers’ resignation, his claims were <a href="">repeated</a> in the opinion section of the New York Times by Roger Cohen, a pro-Israel columnist who favors the permanent forced relocation of millions of Palestinians to countries outside their homeland. Rehashing Chalmers’ unsourced accusations, Cohen proclaimed that the Labour Party had become infected with “an antisemitism of the Left” under the watch of Corbyn.</p><p dir="ltr">Unmentioned in Cohen’s column were the ulterior sectarian motives Chalmers had deliberately concealed. As journalist <a href="">Asa Winstanley revealed</a>, Chalmers had been an intern at BICOM, the main arm of the UK’s pro-Israel lobby, which recently published the following call to arms: “Save your pitch fork for Corbyn.” Chalmers’ online bio noting his position at BICOM was mysteriously deleted around the time he publicized his allegations about antisemitism at Oxford. When Winstanley contacted Chalmers about the internship, he set his Twitter account to “private” and went off the radar.</p><p dir="ltr">As Perkins reflected in <em>A Very British Coup</em>, “By the time you prove anything, the damage is done.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Red Ken’s coup de grace</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In late April, the mounting witch hunt claimed its first high-profile victims. First was MP Naz Shah, a rising star in Labour and outspoken Muslim feminist. Shah was outed by a right-wing gossip blogger for promoting a tongue-in-cheek Facebook meme that imagined the geopolitical benefits of moving Israel to the United States. Following her suspension, Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a standard bearer of the British left who helped lead the major anti-racism campaigns of the 1980s, took to the airwaves to defend Shah. (Livingstone was among the figures who inspired the protagonist Perkins in Mullins’ novel.)</p><p dir="ltr">During an indisputably counter-productive and possibly alcohol-influenced performance, Livingstone rambled that Hitler had, in fact, provided support to the Zionist movement. Within hours, he too was suspended. As with Shah, the allegations of antisemitism that followed his suspension centered around impolitic commentary related to Israel, not Jews as a whole.</p><p dir="ltr">Livingstone might have been guilty of going off script, but he was not necessarily incorrect. The history of Nazi Germany’s <a href="">robust economic</a> and <a href="">political collaboration</a> with the Zionist movement throughout the 1930s is widely known and well-documented—even Elie Wiesel has <a href="">openly reeled</a> at the record of Zionist cooperation with Hitler’s minions.</p><p dir="ltr">Ignoring the clear context behind Livingstone’s remarks, the Guardian casually <a href="">dismissed them</a> as “bizarre,” wondering “what point he was trying to make.” MP John Mann, a backbencher from the right wing of Labour, went a step further, hectoring Livingstone before a gaggle of cameras about his supposed ignorance of Hitler’s evil. “There’s a book called <em>Mein Kampf</em>!” Mann bellowed. “You’ve obviously never heard of it.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>A high-level 'civil targeted assassination'</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Behind the furor over Israel criticism lay a constellation of political forces exploiting the issue to suppress the grassroots insurgency in Labour.</p><p dir="ltr">Under Blair’s watch, powerful pro-Israel elements entrenched themselves in the party, reversing the strong support Labour demonstrated for the Palestinian cause during the Thatcher era. Membership in <a href="">Labour Friends of Israel</a> (LFI), a pro-Israel lobbying faction, became a must for members of parliament seeking ministerial positions under Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown. Among LFI’s most generous funders is Baron Sainsbury of Turville, a reclusive billionaire who is heir to the Sainsbury supermarket fortune. Sainsbury is also a key funder of Progress, the faction established by pro-Blair elements to promote his agenda in the mid-1990s.</p><p dir="ltr">Members of both LFI and Progress have led the crusade to paint Corbyn and his allies as a band of raving antisemites. Lord Michael Levy, a former special envoy to the Middle East under Blair and top funder of LFI, has amplified the attacks with a series of media appearances in which he accused Corbyn of weakness in the face of anti-Jewish bigotry. A new and <a href="">unusual line of attack</a> holds Corbyn responsible for an alleged dearth of donations to Labour from “Jewish donors” like Levy.</p><p dir="ltr">The panic that spread through Labour’s right wing on the eve of Corbyn’s election reverberated in Jerusalem, where the Israeli government has vowed a campaign of "<a href="">targeted civil elimination</a>" (code for character assassination) against Palestine solidarity activists. By taking the helm of Labour, Corbyn became arguably the most high-profile supporter of BDS in the world. The Israeli government had placed him at the top of its political kill list and was bound to open fire at an opportune moment.</p><p dir="ltr">The moment arrived on May 1, as the BBC’s Andrew Marr hosted Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev for a <a href="">lengthy interview</a>. Anyone who watched international news coverage of any of Israel’s last three assaults on the Gaza Strip will remember Regev as the face and voice of Israeli propaganda, <a href="">spinning massacres</a> of besieged civilians as acts of self-defense without batting an eye.</p><p dir="ltr">Seated across from an exceptionally receptive host, Regev unleashed a tirade against the pro-Corbyn wing of Labour and the left in general, declaring it had “crossed a line” into antisemitic territory, even accusing it of “embracing Hamas.” Playing on the innuendo that has painted Corbyn as a supporter of Islamist insurgents, Regev demanded that Corbyn send an “unequivocal message” rejecting Hamas and Hezbollah. Marr piled on, baselessly claiming that Corbyn’s press secretary, Seumas Milne, had declared “it is a crime for the state of Israel to exist.” <a href="">It took Marr</a> over half an hour to retract his falsehood. By then, as usual, the damage was done.</p><p dir="ltr">The spectacle of a foreign diplomat from a country with one of the world’s worst human rights records injecting himself into a local electoral contest to brand the leader of a major political party as a bigoted cheerleader for terrorism perfectly crystallized the nature of the campaign against Corbyn.</p><p dir="ltr">Conceived by failed politicians backed by billionaire Lords and publicized with negligible skepticism by Fleet Street, those leading the charge against Corbyn recalled the devious aristocrats Perkins singled out during his final televised appeal to voters: “You the people must decide whether you prefer to ruled by an elected government or by people you’ve never heard of, people you’ve never voted for, people who remain quietly behind the scenes….”</p><p dir="ltr">There has been no such defiant address by Corbyn. Instead, he has convened an independent inquiry into antisemitism within his party, inviting <a href="">further attacks</a> even as he acceded to political pressure.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Redefining anti-Semitism for political ends</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The upcoming investigation will only be the latest in a series carried out in recent years. In January 2015, the Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism published a <a href="">detailed report</a> outlining its findings on anti-Jewish bigotry in the UK. It was authored by David Feldman, a leading expert on the history of British Jewry and the director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Birkbeck College.</p><p dir="ltr">As soon as he was chosen to serve as vice-chair of the new inquiry, Feldman <a href="">fell under attack</a> from the pro-Israel press. His opponents were particularly piqued by the working definition of antisemitism he adopted in his 2015 report, which he sourced to Jewish philosopher Brian Klug: “A form of hostility towards Jews as Jews, in which they are perceived as something other than what they are.”</p><p dir="ltr">By rejecting the <a href="">politicized definition</a> introduced by pro-Israel forces, which considers the adoption of “double standards” toward Israel to be a form of anti-Jewish prejudice, Feldman deprived them of their favorite line of attack against sympathizers with the Palestinian cause.</p><p dir="ltr">As Stern-Weiner clinically demonstrated, the vast majority of charges against Labour members related to commentary about the state of Israel, not the Jewish people. In order to paint anti-Zionist members of Labour as dangerous antisemites, Corbyn’s opponents have had to resort to conflating Israel with all Jews. Ironically, they have relied on the same conflation that actual antisemites typically employ to indict world Jewry for Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.</p><p dir="ltr">Jonathan Freedland, a veteran columnist for the Guardian, has been among the most aggressive employers of the conflation tactic. An outspoken liberal Zionist, Freedland <a href="">has insisted</a> on his right to call out antisemitism as he pleases and without any critical scrutiny from Gentiles—just as “black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism.” By extension, he has sought unlimited license to use “Jews” as a floating signifier for Israel and Zionism, to arbitrarily fuse the Jews of the world with a self-proclaimed Jewish state that only a minority of them inhabit.</p><p dir="ltr">Echoing Freedland, Ephraim Mirvish, the chief rabbi of the UK, <a href="">declared</a> that Zionism “can be no more separate from Judaism than the city of London from Great Britain.” Mirvish insisted that non-Jews were out of bounds by challenging the conflation of Jews with the political project of a Jewish state, ignoring <a href="">opinion polls</a> showing that a full third of British Jews identity as anti or non-Zionist.</p><p dir="ltr">John Mann, the member of parliament who chased Livingstone down a hallway while shouting about Hitler, has said that “it’s clear where the line is” on anti-Jewish bigotry. But during his testimony at an unsuccessful tribunal on “institutional antisemitism” on campus, Mann was <a href="">harshly criticized</a> for his inability to locate that line.</p><p dir="ltr">Even as they avoid putting forward a coherent working definition of antisemitism and exploit identity politics to silence those who do, Labour’s pro-Israel elements are pushing a new rule that could amount to a pro-Israel loyalty oath.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>A coming coup?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Back in April, members of the right wing of Labour proposed a <a href="">rule change</a> that would allow the party to ban members for expressing opinions deemed to be antisemitic. <a href="">Leading the charge</a> were Jeremy Newmark, chair of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement, and Wes Streeting, a member of parliament and former employee of the Blairite Progress faction.</p><p dir="ltr">When the furor over Livingstone’s comments about Zionist collaboration with Nazi Germany erupted, the call for a <a href="">rule change intensified</a>, inadvertently revealing its actual objective: To establish a lever for purging anti-Zionists from the party ranks. If implemented, the rule change could function as a de facto oath of pro-Israel loyalty for new Labour members and might even result in a series of tribunals for those who fail to toe the ideological line.</p><p dir="ltr">Though Labour <a href="">performed far better</a> in the May 5 local elections than a generally hostile media predicted, Corbyn’s opponents are determined to paint him as unelectable, <a href="">just as they did</a> during last year’s campaign for leadership.</p><p dir="ltr">Even before votes were counted, they were dead-set on sacking him. “We have got to get rid of him. He cannot be allowed to continue,” a Labour member described as “moderate” by the <em>Daily Express</em> <a href="">said</a> on the day of local elections.</p><p dir="ltr">The positive results may buy Corbyn some time, but his foes have signaled their intentions. They are determined to bury him in the same way the fictional villain Sir Percy Brown attempted to with PM Harry Perkins. “In South America they’d call this a coup d’etat,” Perkins protested when Brown presented him with scandalous documents forged by his security services.</p><p dir="ltr">“But no firing squad,” Brown explained with cool confidence. “No torture, no bloodshed. A very British coup, wouldn’t you say?”</p> Fri, 06 May 2016 07:30:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1055992 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project World labour uk Jeremy Corbyn Two Human Rights Defenders From Occupied Palestine Navigate the Politics of Capitol Hill <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">What can happen when you try to educate Congress about Israel’s escalating human rights abuses.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-04-27_at_10.17.31_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4cafd936-5812-06b4-6244-5133f185f739">This month, two front line human rights defenders in occupied Palestine, Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) founder Raji Sourani and Al Haq founder Shawan Jabarin, embarked on a speaking tour in New York City and Washington DC. Following their appearance at Columbia University, where they spoke at an event organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights, I met Sourani and Jabarin at a private event in Washington DC. The two had come to town for a series of meetings in Congress, including with one of the most knowledgable foreign policy staffers.</p><p dir="ltr">Sourani and Jabarin's first meeting took place at the Senate Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations in the office of Tim Rieser, a longtime aide to Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. Considered a champion of human rights inside Congress, Rieser is the brains behind the so-called Leahy Law which restricts US arms sales to serial human rights-abusing nations. In March, Leahy <a href="">joined</a> ten members of Congress in signing a letter demanding the Obama administration investigate Israel and the Egyptian military junta for “gross violations of human rights.” According to a DC based human rights activist who escorted Sourani and Jabarin to Rieser's office, the two had hoped to gain a sense of whether the Leahy Law would be enforced, but received only informal recommendations.</p><p dir="ltr">A meeting with Democratic Rep. John Lewis followed the gathering with Reiser. The DC-based activist told me that Lewis held court with Sourani and Jabarin for over an hour, far longer than expected and posed for photos with the men, lending the presence of a living symbol of the civil rights movement to their cause. He left the two with copies of his 2013 graphic novel, <a href="">March</a>, on the famous march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. “They came out of Lewis’s office feeling great,” the activist said.</p><p dir="ltr">Jabarin and Sourani were given the cold shoulder by the Obama administration, however. A State Department staffer agreed to meet with them, but phoned back two hours later to cancel without explanation. The treatment hardly came as a shock after years of disappointment with Western governments.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Towards the ICC</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Neither Sourani nor Jabarin planned to dedicate their lives to human rights work. But when they were teenagers, both were arrested by the Israeli army and tortured in Israeli prisons. At age 18, Jabarin said Israel “killed my dreams,” barring him from traveling to study medicine abroad, where he had a scholarship waiting for him. The two immersed themselves in international law and sought out remedies for challenging Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories.</p><p dir="ltr">In 1979, Jabarin founded Al Haq in Ramallah, now the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has carried out a sustained campaign of home demolitions, settlement construction and population transfer. For his part, Sourani founded the PCHR in Gaza City, now the target of unprecedented violence from Israeli drones, attack jets and heavy artillery.</p><p dir="ltr">Sourani currently presides over a staff of 63. “Even with that size,” he commented, “we don’t have one single day to rest. The quantity and quality of human rights violations we witness are astounding.”</p><p dir="ltr">During Israel’s 51-day assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014, PCHR researchers were often in severe danger as they set out to document the attacks that left over 2200 dead and <a href="">100,000 homes</a> partly or completely destroyed.</p><p dir="ltr">“I used to call Raji every day just to see if he’s alive or not,” Jabarin recalled.</p><p dir="ltr">With the experience Sourani and his staff gathered, they have trained human rights workers to document atrocities in Yemen, Libya and Syria. According to Sourani, Gaza’s terrible predicament has honed his organization into “the most sophisticated human rights group in the Middle East.”</p><p dir="ltr">Al Haq and PCHR are leading the Palestinian campaign to hold Israel accountable at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Sourani described the effort as a last resort. “We exhausted all national legal remedies in Israel. Khalas! [“Enough,” in Arabic] After years of experience we discovered that this system is providing legal cover for systematic war crimes. Torture is legalized and legitimized. Extrajudicial killing is legalized. That’s why we shifted to universal jurisdiction cases in the ICC.”</p><p dir="ltr">Threats, repression and travel bans</p><p dir="ltr">Because of their determination to publicize Israeli human rights crimes and hold their authors accountable before international legal bodies, Sourani and Jabarin have become targets of Israel and its international lobbyists.</p><p dir="ltr">Their appearance at Columbia University was pre-empted by an <a href="">intimidating letter</a> by right-wing NGO Monitor Legal Advisor Anne Herzberg to the Columbia Law School raising questions about the sponsors of the event.</p><p dir="ltr">NGO Monitor bills itself as a watchdog organization providing “critical analysis” of international NGOs, but is, in practice, an arm of Israel’s right-wing government. The group’s founder, Gerald Steinberg, has <a href="">worked</a>as a consultant to the Israeli government and served on a steering committee overseen by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. In testimony before Israel’s Knesset, Steinberg <a href="">called for</a> “a response like in war” against human rights organizations. He urged the Israeli government to back groups like his that created the impression of a “civil society” counter-attack.</p><p dir="ltr">NGO Monitor’s failed attempt to prevent Sourani and Jabarin’s appearance at Columbia is an extension of the escalating assault by the Israeli government on human rights organizations. Both men have been barred from traveling abroad by Israeli security services.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Jabarin, Al Haq’s funders have been confronted with a wave of threats and intimidation from pro-Israel forces. Recently, members of his staff have been finding at the doorsteps of their homes what he called “funeral flowers,” or dead flowers accompanied by cards inscribed with threatening messages. He said his group’s computer serves have been attacked, his staff has received threatening emails, and that he and Sourani are subject of a constant parade of attacks in the Israeli press.</p><p dir="ltr">“If you search our names on Google,” Jabarin said, “I guarantee you will see the word ‘terrorist’ next to them. We know this work is not a joke and we are prepared to pay the price to continue it.”</p><p dir="ltr"><br />Jabarin filed his submission at the Hague -- the home of the ICC -- on November 23, 2015. Trapped in Gaza, where travel is rendered nearly impossible by the ongoing Israeli siege, Sourani held a simultaneous press conference in the rubble of homes destroyed by the Israeli army.</p><p dir="ltr">“This was just a small step,” Jabarin said of the press conference in the ruins of Gaza. “Raji [Sourani] was surrounded by people who had lost their beloved, lost their properties, their houses -- everything. And this submission to the ICC gave them hope that justice was coming.”</p><p dir="ltr">He pointed to the Obama administration as a principal antagonist in the quest for Palestinian human rights. “You saw the US pressure Palestine not to go to the ICC,” Jabarin recalled. “They don’t want us to accept justice! This is the contradiction that makes us feel a little angry.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yet as he stood in a living room in DC surrounded by supporters, including a few bearing pins promoting the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders, Jabarin took stock of the shifting political winds. “You are the new America for us,” he told his audience, “not the administration.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Editor's note: This story has been updated since initial publication</em></p> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 07:12:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1055376 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Israel palestine washington law lawmakers dc Sanders Gets it Mostly Right on Gaza, but Cheerleaders for Israeli Brutality Attack Him Anyway <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">An exclusive Latuff cartoon on Israel lobby outrage over Sanders&#039; comments on Israel’s 2014 massacre of Gaza civilians.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-04-10_at_11.32.48_am_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="572" style="width: 600px; height: 887px;" width="387"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="572" style="width: 600px; height: 887px;" width="387" typeof="foaf:Image" src="" /></div><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bab2bf11-00c7-f026-f1c7-a4d48c3c894c">In an <a href="">interview</a> with the New York Daily News, a tabloid owned by ultra-Zionist multi-billionaire Mort Zuckerman, Sen. Bernie Sanders held forth on Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip. "My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been," Sanders declared. He then overstated the civilian casualty toll, asserting that “over 10,000 people” were killed by Israel.</p><br /><p dir="ltr">Sanders’ comments infuriated the pro-Israel lobby, provoking former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren to accuse him of a “blood libel,” referring to the false rumors of Jews kidnapping and cooking gentile babies  spread to justify pogroms and anti-Semitic repression. The Anti-Defamation League joined the festival of outrage, demanding Sanders <a href="">apologize</a> for his comments. When Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn, he was met with <a href="">protests</a> by right-wing allies of the Israeli settler movement including New York State Assemblymember Dov Hikind, an <a href="">unrepentant former member</a> of the violent extremist Jewish Defense League.</p><br /><p dir="ltr">While Israel lobbyists like Oren were determined to extract a display of contrition from the Democratic presidential challenger, it’s hard to imagine they would want to acknowledge the real toll of Israel’s 51-day-long assault, from the <a href="">551 children killed</a> to the Associated Press’s finding that Israel <a href=",7340,L-4626315,00.html">killed 844 Palestinian civilians</a> in airstrikes on their homes to the fact that a <a href="">whopping 100,000 homes</a> were damaged or destroyed by Israeli violence.</p><br /><p dir="ltr">Indeed, Sanders’ comments about the <a href="">leveling of apartment houses</a> and bombing of <a href="">hospitals</a> were absolutely accurate. When Israel shelled a UN-run shelter for displaced civilians in Gaza on August 2, 2014, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki <a href="">declared</a>, “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least 10 more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed.”</p><br /><p dir="ltr">The pro-Israel lobby played a critical role in the blood-drenched assault on Gaza in 2014, ensuring full-throated political support from American lawmakers and military backing from the Obama administration. Its accusations of blood libel represent the height of moral hypocrisy. Israeli propagandists like Oren -- who was an <a href="">active, uniformed participant</a> in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza -- point an accusing finger at Sanders with one hand, and pull the trigger on a besieged, occupied population with the other. </p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"> </p> Sun, 10 Apr 2016 08:25:00 -0700 Carlos Latuff, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1054300 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project sanders Israel palestine Watch: Israeli Gov't Calls for 'Civil Elimination' of Left-Wing Activists and Roseanne Barr Goes on a Rampage <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">An anti-BDS conference starring Roseanne and Israeli ministers was a symphony of extremist incitement. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/roseanne.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A symphony of extremist incitement and deranged tirades blared out at a conference hosted in Jerusalem on March 28 by the Israeli tabloid newspaper Yediot Ahronoth. Dedicated to attacking the BDS (<a href="">boycott, divestment and sanctions</a>) movement, the Stop BDS conference featured appearances by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, several ministers in the right-wing governing coalition and the American comedian Roseanne Barr.</p><p>One of the top government figures who appeared at the conference, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, called for stripping Omar Barghouti, a BDS movement leader and Palestinian resident of Israel, of his permanent residency rights. Deri said he was “inclined to accept” the recommendation against Barghouti, insisting that “you cannot turn the other cheek to those who beat them.”</p><p>Next, Israeli Minister of Transportation Israel Katz <a href=",7340,L-4784262,00.html">called for</a> the “focused civilian elimination of the leadership of BDS.” Insisting that he was not calling for military-style assassinations of BDS leaders, Katz explained, “Civilian [elimination] is to expose the actors, the people, the system, the mechanisms and their connections to the organizations already crossed the threshold of military and terrorist activity. And definitely, through this exposure, to know how to act against them, how to isolate them, also to transfer information to intelligence agents around the world, and other agents. We have to understand that there is a battle here. It is wrapped in many covers."</p><p>The Stop BDS conference featured Roseanne Barr as its keynote speaker. As Richard Silverstein recently <a href="">reported</a> for AlterNet, Barr has equated followers of Islam with Nazis, called for dropping a nuclear bomb on the University of California-Davis to retaliate for its students’ support for BDS, and has referred to supporters of Palestinian human rights as “Nazis' helpers.” Before her transformation into a Likudnik Twitter troll, Barr was a self-styled critic of Israel who promoted anti-Semitic activist Gilad Atzmon and once posed as Adolf Hitler in a supposedly humorous photo spread that depicted her shoveling “Jew cookies” into an oven.</p><p>Barr once told Oprah Winfrey, “I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs. Incredible mixtures of psychiatric drugs to deal with the fact that I had, and still in some ways, have and always will have some mental illness. And the drugs and the combination of drugs that I was given, which were some strong, strong drugs, I totally lost touch with reality in a big, big way.”</p><p>At the Stop BDS conference, Barr described BDS as “right-wing and fascist,” claiming it gave voice to “the immoral and insane racist anti-semitism of pharaohs and fuhrers.” Taking her tirade to its crescendo, Barr falsely branded me and Electronic Intifada publisher and journalist Ali Abunimah as the faces of the “trust fund left.” (To be sure, if I had a trust fund, I would donate heavily to pro-BDS organizations.)</p><p>In an interview after her speech, Barr called on “Jews who are dominant in the media” to ensure “Jewish unity. She then described campaigns to destroy the careers of musicians like Roger Waters who criticize Israel “a damn good thing.” </p><p>As Richard Silverstein reported on his <a href="">blog</a>, Israeli concert promoter Shuki Weiss complained that the country’s Interior Ministry was forcing visiting performers to sign loyalty oaths </p><p>Barr’s interviewer earned applause from the audience when he proposed her as a potential future prime minister of Israel. </p><p>“I don’t have to marry Sara?” Barr asked, referring to Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recently <a href="">forced</a> by a Jerusalem court to pay almost $50,000 in damages to a housekeeper who accused her of verbal and emotional abuse.<pwatch lowlights="" of="" p="" s="" tirade="" video=""> </pwatch></p><p>Watch video lowlights of Barr’s tirade below:<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2016 18:25:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Alexandra Rosenmann, AlterNet 1053636 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Video roseanne barr Israel palestine The Israel Lobby’s Dangerous Agenda for the U.S.: Attack Free Speech and Criminalize Resistance <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">With help from influential liberals, pro-Israel lobbyists push to define resisting Israeli apartheid as hate speech.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-03-28_at_12.54.49_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-7d846ed6-be1c-8592-530e-a3e055e21ef9">Last week, just a few minutes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee met for a hearing, one of the Israel lobby’s most dependable members of Congress, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen huddled with twenty supporters of AIPAC, the lobby’s front line organization in Washington. It was a routine affair for the Florida Republican and her pro-Israel allies, whom she addressed by their first names. But a member of the public who witnessed the meeting noticed a startling new agenda was on the table.</p><p dir="ltr">The witness told me that Ros-Lehtinen vowed to destroy the mounting grassroots BDS campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. To do so, she pledged to weaken the First Amendment. “Free speech is being used in our country to denigrate Israel and we need to actively fight against that,” Ros-Lehtinen declared, according to the source.</p><p dir="ltr">Disturbing as her statement might have been, it was consistent with the rhetoric bellowed out by nearly every presidential contender who appeared on stage at DC’s Verizon Center. Speaking before some 18,000 AIPAC supporters, Senator Ted Cruz not only <a href="">pledged</a> to starve educational institutions of federal funding if they dared to support BDS, he promised that under his watch, “they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Echoing Cruz, Republican contender John Kasich <a href="">announced his intention</a> to “use the full force of the White House” to destroy what he called “the scourge” of BDS.</p><p dir="ltr">The Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, was no less draconian. Reverting to the <a href="">“Goldwater girl”</a> sensibility of her conservative college years, and tossing aside her recent <a href="">appeals to social justice intersectionality</a>, Clinton <a href="">vowed to punish</a> the campus left for supporting Palestinian human rights. Slamming BDS as a form of anti-Semitic hate speech, Clinton offered encouragement to the young, affluent and almost uniformly white pro-Israel students bused into AIPAC in droves. “Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities,” she implored them.</p><p dir="ltr">The BDS movement has gathered momentum at a staggering pace since it was devised by Palestinian civil society groups in 2005. With its call for grassroots level boycotts to pressure Israel into respecting the human rights of Palestinians, the movement has spread across European capitals and found fertile soil on American college campuses. Yet just a few years ago, AIPAC and its affiliates displayed little interest at all in it. When he appeared at AIPAC in 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent his entire speech badgering the Obama administration for not attacking Iran. He did not feel compelled to mention Palestinians even once. Despite the influential role played in the 2012 Republican presidential primary by Sheldon Adelson, a key benefactor of Netanyahu and the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, BDS was scarcely mentioned by any of the candidates, nor was it discussed much in mainstream American media.</p><p dir="ltr">Almost four years later, with the Iran nuclear deal ratified, the peace process in shambles and the Green Line that was supposed to separate Israel from a future Palestinian state fully erased by a settlement movement that dominates the Israeli government, AIPAC is moving to destroy the last line of resistance. From Washington to Paris to London, Israel lobbyists are extracting ritual denunciations of BDS from its political hand puppets and authoring new laws to forbid its implementation. Repressive legislative efforts are accompanied by <a href="">legal subterfuge</a>, <a href="">high-tech sabotage</a>, <a href="">McCarthy-style online blacklists</a> and carefully orchestrated <a href="">smear campaigns</a> against <a href="">anyone who resists</a>. <a href="">No target</a> is too small. With guidance from Jerusalem, where the most right-wing government in Israeli history is mounting an all-out <a href="">assault on internal dissent</a>, the lobby has embraced a totalitarian agenda that aims for nothing less than the criminalization of all political opposition.</p><p dir="ltr">On display for the first time at AIPAC, the Israel lobby’s search-and-destroy mission against BDS has already found enthusiastic allies in governments across the West. In Paris, where Prime Minister Manuel Valls <a href="">vehemently equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism</a>, a French court of criminal appeals recently <a href="">upheld the conviction</a> of a dozen Palestine solidarity activists for calling for the boycott of Israeli goods. In the UK, the Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron has <a href="">introduced legislation</a> to prevent local town councils from divesting from Israeli products or even from weapons manufacturers. As <a href="">state legislatures</a> <a href="">across the US</a> vote to <a href="">blacklist companies</a> that refuse to do business in Israel — a rare and highly unusual instance of corporate regulation — the University of California board of regents has taken the unprecedented step of <a href="">defining anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish discrimination</a>, setting the stage for outlawing a political position <a href="">gaining in popularity</a> among Jewish Americans.</p><p dir="ltr">In its bid to criminalize the speech of its opponents, the Israel lobby has sought to formally redefine anti-Semitism according to the <a href="">“3 D’s” formula conceived by Natan Sharansky</a>. Promoted as a former Soviet dissident who champions freedom, Sharansky is, in fact, a hardline Likudnik Israeli politician and <a href="">promoter of Israel’s settlement enterprise</a> who <a href="">helped inspire</a> George W. Bush’s Middle Eastern conquests. Sharansky’s “3 D’s” abandons the traditional understanding of anti-Semitism, redefining it from the discrimination against Jews as Jews to any opposition to the political imperatives of the Israeli government, thereby limiting Jewish identity to the narrow ideological designs of Zionism. Israel lobbyists have <a href="">successfully pressured the US State Department</a> to adopt Sharansky’s definition, and after a <a href="">long slog</a>, have pushed the University of California regents to endorse it as well. If this highly politicized understanding of anti-Semitism is ever enforced, anyone who has campaigned against Israeli human rights abuses could face harsh legal recriminations, even if they identify as Jewish.</p><p dir="ltr">Capitalizing on a campaign finance system deregulated by the Citizens United decision, which defined corporations as people with unlimited rights to free speech, the Israel lobby has unprecedented leeway to limit the speech of actual human beings. Leveraging massive donations from <a href="">Likudnik oligarchs</a>, it is planting cadres at every level of government, turning Congress, statehouses and student government councils into a unified platform for crushing resistance. As the veteran AIPAC operative Jonathan Kessler <a href="">declared</a>, “We’re going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse [divestment votes]. This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capital.”</p><p dir="ltr">The lobby’s campaign extends well beyond crushing Palestine solidarity. In the years ahead, pro-Israel forces will serve as the leading edge of reactionary campaigns to fracture any iteration of solidarity between marginalized social groups. The <a href="">smears of Jeremy Corbyn</a>, the leader of the British Labour Party, offer a perfect example of how Israel has been instrumentalized to break down progressive social movements. Elected in one of the most dramatic grassroots triumphs in recent political history by a coalition of university students, blue collar workers and immigrants outraged by deepening austerity and destructive foreign interventions, Corbyn has come under sustained fire from the neoliberal Blairites who had dominated Labour since the 1990’s. This February, anti-Corbyn elements opened up a new front with a torrent of thinly sourced allegations that Labour had suddenly become infected with <a href="">“an anti-Semitism problem.”</a> Centered around the resignation of a Blairite Oxford University Labour club leader who complained that Jew-haters disguised as human rights activists had made his life unbearable, the unconfirmed claims made their way to the New York Times op-ed page through a column by Roger Cohen entitled, <a href="">“An Anti-Semitism of the Left.”</a></p><p dir="ltr">Cobbling together a litany of complaints by anxiety-ridden Zionists about the tide of Palestine activism rising all around them, Cohen bemoaned the “identity and liberation politics” that now prevail on university campuses. Just a few paragraphs later, however, Cohen pronounced his devotion to the Zionist project, insisting that “the Jewish state was needed… That is why I am a Zionist — now a dirty word in Europe.” Yet Cohen does not live in Israel; he resides instead in an affluent locale in New York City, where Jews enjoy lavish lifestyles, political power and a sense of security they could never dream of in Jerusalem. His connection to Zionism is not grounded in the facts on the ground in Israel-Palestine, but in an identity politics that only elites like him can enjoy. When forms of speech that reinforce his identity have come under attack, as when Islamic fanatics massacred the staff of Charlie Hebdo, he <a href="">summoned</a> “the entire free world” to “ruthlessly” defend liberal values. When his identity has been challenged by the unrelenting demands of Israel’s colonial subjects, however, Cohen quickly abandoned all pretense to enlightenment. He has become the living embodiment of Phil Ochs’ sardonic classic, "<a href="">Love Me I’m A Liberal”</a>: “Ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally,” as Ochs sang.</p><p dir="ltr">While Israel lobbyists <a href="">howl about the threat of intersectionality</a> on campus, they are actively appropriating its identitarian language to undermine progressive social justice organizing on campus. Mark Yudof, the former University of California president who <a href="">tacitly endorsed</a> the criminal prosecution of Muslim-American students for protesting a speech by Israel’s former ambassador to the US, <a href=";utm_campaign=06f09dc32e-DNU20151214&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-06f09dc32e-197769874">put the tactic on display by describing</a> <a href="">factual claims</a> that Israeli soldiers deliberately kill civilians as a “microaggression against Jews.” At the University of Michigan, a member of the student governing council <a href="">justified her vote</a> against a resolution to divest from corporations involved in the Israeli occupation on the grounds that it denied “safe spaces” to Jewish students. And at the University of South California, a pro-Israel student <a href="">conceded</a> that the UC regents’ decision to classify anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism was an attack on free speech — but supported it anyway because, in her view, Jews are “a minority still so unfairly discriminated against and maligned.” Animated by the perceived ethnic slights of a hyper-privileged overclass, pro-Israel activism is essentially a White Lives Matter movement protected from accountability by morally inconsistent liberals. Indeed, many of the Jewish liberals who claim to have <a href="">battled South African apartheid</a> and <a href="">marched alongside the civil rights movement</a> now seek to <a href="">destroy a struggle</a> they inspired.</p><p dir="ltr">Toward the end of his life, as he watched the occupation of Palestine deepen and expand, the dissident Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz described Israel as “the only totalitarian country in the enlightened world.” He was referring to the way the Jewish state promoted itself as a beacon of liberal democracy while imposing a brutal, panopticon-style regime of repression on Palestinians, raiding their homes at night, shuttering their media outlets and torturing them at will. Today, Israel is projecting this regime outward, recruiting operatives across the West to eradicate all resistance, even attacking constitutionally protected forms of protest. Like the country it has enlisted to defend, a borderless settler-colony that demands special exemption from international law, the lobby’s mission knows no limits. Where the occupation started is well known, but where will it end?</p> Mon, 28 Mar 2016 09:43:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1053432 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Israel Grayzone Gideon Levy: Americans "Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel" <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy talks to journalist Max Blumenthal about how the Israeli occupation has poisoned not only the region but much of the world, and how BDS might be the last standing hope to dismantle it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/israel_2.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>I'm Max Blumenthal, for the Real News. We're here at the National Press Club, at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Conference, examining whether the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel is good for America. And I'm here with Gideon Levy. Gideon Levy was the former spokesman for Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, and is now one of the most outspoken journalists in Israel, someone who I would say is a true dissident in Israeli society, and the voice of the voiceless in Israel. People, Israelis who are resisting occupation and resisting apartheid. And we're going to talk to Gideon not only about the U.S. and Israeli special relationship, but also about what's happening in Israeli society right now. Gideon, you spoke earlier today, and you said that if any--if you could show any American visiting the Holy Land anything, you would first take them to Hebron. And I think you're referring to H2, the section of the city that is honeycombed with very violent, radical settlers, but is still Palestinian. Why would you show them that area? There's so much to see.</p><p>Watch: Gideon Levy and Max Blumenthal discuss the future of Israel-America relations. Full transcript below.<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="" width="630"></iframe></p><p>GIDEON LEVY: I would start there because there you get it in a nutshell. There is no other place where you can see the Israeli policy, the Israeli apartheid in the West Bank, in such crystal clear colors. Roads are just separated for Jews and for Palestinians. An empty town, because all the Palestinian inhabitants head to run away. I mean, the settlers terrorized them so much, until most of them, there really remained only those who have no place to go. And you see the tyranny of the settlers, their brutality. They are the most extreme settlers and they are, part of them should be questioned by psychiatrists. I mean, really. And only a very small piece of land. And that's the way it could have--and it will look, one day--if this occupation will continue. So you get it in a nutshell.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Yeah, yeah. It's like a microcosm of the whole occupation.</p><p>LEVY: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I know no one who, any honest person, who had been ever there and wasn't shocked.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: And you know, I was on [Shuhata] street, standing around talking to the soldiers. And we were talking about a few hundred settlers guarded by hundreds and hundreds of soldiers, who also are very violent with the local Palestinian population. I'm standing there, I'm filming, and a settler woman walks by, and she's just staring at me. And I just go “Yalla,” you know, get out of here. And she goes, what do you mean, yalla? What are you talking about? And she has a Brooklyn accent. And that was incredible to me. I think--what you would hear there are New York accents in the middle of Hebron. So how do you think the U.S. has helped create that situation in Hebron?</p><p>LEVY: The U.S. is the big financer of the Zionist project and the big financer of the settlement project. Without the U.S. there is no occupation. And the U.S. carries responsibility for any of Israel's deeds and crimes, because without the U.S. Israel couldn't do it, very clearly.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: The U.S. claims that Israel is its ally in the region. That Israel actually serves a geostrategic purpose. Do you see it that way? Do you think Israel's actually, and under Israel--especially under Netanyahu, really cares what the U.S. thinks?</p><p>LEVY: First of all, many times, if one is watching the relations between Israel and the United States, comes up the question of who is the superpower? Is it Israel or who is the United States? Who dictates to whom? Who blackmails whom? And many times you get the impression that Israel is blackmailing the United States. And here I come and I ask myself, why? It's an enigma for me. How come that Israel is so powerful? And the other question one should ask himself is what those interests serve in terms of American, either interest or values. Occupation is American values? Occupation serves the American interest? Doesn't America see that it pays a hell of a price for this automatic and blind support of Israel and of the occupation project? Is it reasonable that in the 21st century, the United States will finance an apartheid regime in the occupied territories? All those questions should be raised, but I'm not sure anyone has an answer.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Well, we don't have anyone in our media here, in our mainstream media, who raises them. And you at least are at Haaretz, you have a column. Talk about your own experiences raising these issues, raising the uncomfortable and really disturbing issues of occupation, apartheid, and how it's creeping back into Jewish Israeli society? How's that affected you over the past years, especially since Netanyahu's been in power?</p><p>LEVY: The recent years, he became less and less pleasant, and maybe even less and less secure. As you might know, there was a certain time during the last war in Gaza in which I even had to be accompanied by bodyguards. It's to be, let's leave alone me, because I'm just one individual. What really matters is that to speak for consciousness, to speak for morality, to speak for maintaining the international law, is perceived in Israel as treason. Not less than this. The worst curse that you can hear today is you are a leftist. It's a curse in Israel. This atmosphere, violent, aggressive, and lacking any kind of tolerance, is above all dangerous for the future of Israel.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. Where do you see the future going? You have a culture minister, Miri Regev, who is demanding a kind of loyalty oath from artists. Actually, an artist friend of mine, Natali Vaxberg Cohen, has been jailed, or indicted, for her art. In the school system you're seeing very strong imposition of religious nationalist indoctrination, militarism. The youth in polls seem to be more racist than their parents and grandparents. We're talking about the Jewish Israeli youth. And it doesn't seem like the occupation is coming to an end. It actually seems like a future component of Israel. So where do you, where do you see it going over the next five or ten years, and how long can you hold on?</p><p>LEVY: First of all, American liberals should know all this. They should know that they are supporting the first sign of fascism in Israel. I don't call it yet fascism, but first signs, very clear, first signs of fascism. And America is behind it. And America is supporting it. And America keeps one blind eye to it. And America keeps financing it. This should be known and should be recognized by any American, mainly the liberals, who care where their taxpayer money goes, and so much of it. Now, where does it go? I can't imagine myself one hopeful scenario. You name it. I mean, there is no source of hope right now. There's no alternative to Netanyahu. And the alternative that might replace him is not any better. Atmosphere, as I said, is becoming less and less tolerant, and the standing of democracy is minimal and many times very twisted. People think that democracy, most of Israel, think that democracy means the rule of the majority, and all the rest is totally unimportant. Levels of ignorance which I never saw before, the young generation of Israel, you might know it, reached level of ignorance. They know nothing about nothing, and they care nothing about nothing. Which should worry, above all, Israelis before anyone else. But I don't see Israelis worry about it. And then we had this hope that the United States would change. We had the huge hope seven years ago. This hope was totally misleading, and finally we are seven years with Barack Obama, who did nothing in the Middle East. He was a great president, I'm sure. It's not for me to judge. But when it comes to the Middle East, he did nothing. And you are really hopeless. The only source of hope is that in many cases in history, the unexpected happens. In many cases, rotten regimes fall by itself. And there is nothing more rotten than the Israel occupation.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: A lot of the younger, Jewish Israeli activists, they started to kind of go into the West Bank through this loosely-knit group, Anarchists Against the Wall. And they would join Palestinians in the small villages, [name inaudible], and so on. And that's, you know, that whole cooperation, I feel like it's been crushed by the military, and the Palestinian authority. And I see a lot of them, who I've known since that period, moving into the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. And they're behind a group called Boycott from Within. They're basically calling to the outside world and saying, boycott my country. Why are they doing that, and what do you think of the prospects for the BDS movement? Do you think this might be potentially a game changer, and provide some hope? LEVY: First of all, I can't blame those young people. As devoted, as courageous as they are, they were crushed not only by the Israeli army. Also by the Israeli media. Which delegitimizes them on a systematic basis. And really, their voice was, really their mouth was shut, practically. Either delegitimization in the media, or really physical attacks by the army. And you know, week after week, and they lost hope, in many ways. The only hopeful tool right now, the only game in town, which might show some kind of hope, is BDS. It's a nonviolent tool, a very legitimate one. It was proven extremely effective vis-a-vis apartheid South Africa. And there is no reason the [worldwide] wouldn't be applied to Israel, because Israel is continuing to, to stand behind all those crimes, and behind the occupation.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. Most Israelis see BDS as tantamount to destroying Israel. How do you respond to them when they say, oh, it's just another way of throwing us into the sea? LEVY: Nothing will destroy Israel more than the occupation. And those who care about the future of Israel should better do something about the occupation. That's the biggest enemy of Israel, that's the biggest danger for Israel. Morally, politically, economically, and militarily. Anyone who thinks Israel will live on its sword forever just doesn't know anything about history. Because there are no empire which lasted forever living only on its sword. And BDS has a very concrete goal, and this is to put an end to the occupation. It's a very legitimate goal. It's a moral goal. And I wish I wouldn't say so, but I don't see anything more effective than this.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Let me ask you about your own political development. As I mentioned in the intro, you were a member of the Labor Party in good standing. You were close to Shimon Peres, you were close to the whole peace process, and the peace camp. And there's an incredible scene from a short documentary by a friend of ours, Eran Torbiner, where you're in the old Labor Party headquarters, where it's completely empty and kind of being demolished, and it's a symbol for the Labor Party today. The Labor Party today, under Isaac Herzog, is proposing a plan to do away with the two-state solution that it used to really define itself on. So how did you get to where you are, supporting the BDS movement, and how did the Labor Party get to this point, supporting Netanyahu's goals?</p><p>LEVY: I think I made the long journey. I'm not sure that Labor changed. Finally, Labor was always what it is today. There were times in which we believed the bluff, or I believed the bluff. But by the end of the day, Labor carries more responsibility for the occupation than any other political group in Israel. They put the foundations. They take, they did nothing to put an end to the occupation, ever. The only evacuation of occupied territories were made by Sharon, not by anyone of Labor. So by the end of the day, Labor didn't change. And Herzog is a typical leader of Labor, like Shimon Peres, like Rabin. Also in my view, was a trap. And it was never aimed to put an end to the occupation, and the proof is that it never evacuated one settlement. And without evacuation of settlements your intentions are very, very transparent. You don't mean to put an end to the occupation. And as for myself, this shift that I went through is due only to one thing; to the fact that I started to cover the occupation, to travel week after week, many times day after day, for 30 years, over 30 years. And what I witnessed very few Israelis had witnessed. And nobody who was conscious could stick to any other consequences and conclusions but the radical conclusion that this occupation must com to its end unconditionally and immediately, because it is criminal.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Since we're in Washington, a place where many people are unfamiliar with the images you would see on a weekly basis just traveling 30 minutes from your home, people here, information about this, is very hard to get. What do you sense when you get, when you come here to this town? Do you talk to any people who are in Congress? Do you talk to Congressional aides, do you ever get summoned to talk to anyone with any influence on policy, on foreign policy in the U.S.?</p><p>LEVY: Unfortunately not. Many years ago when I was more with the mainstream, I had more opportunities to meet legislators and officials. I'm, I'm really bent here, I mean, nobody will talk to me. Not that I tried. I never tried. But I don't feel any interest in my views. American media, or most of it, American politicians, legislatures, diplomats, they don't seem, I think it's much of a challenge for them to face my views.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Welcome to my world.</p><p>LEVY: Exactly. BLUMENTHAL: What role do you see AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby playing in making--in the transformation of Jewish Israeli society, where you say the stages of fascism are beginning? LEVY: Let's talk about the [inaud.]. I claim that AIPAC is an anti-Israeli organization, not a pro-Israeli organization. They corrupt Israel. Not only them, but they start this whole process, which enable Israel to continue the occupation with no limitations, with no restrictions. They stand behind this terrible phenomena in which a state like Israel, which is very well off, well-equipped, very strong, gets these enormous sums of money year after year which corrupts Israel. This American money that AIPAC is responsible for getting it, this money corrupts Israel. And therefore in my view, AIPAC is not only not pro-Israel, in my view AIPAC is one of the biggest enemies of the state of Israel. BLUMENTHAL: Sheldon Adelson would disagree.</p><p>LEVY: I guess. But not only on this. He will disagree on anything I say. BLUMENTHAL: Well, yeah. He doesn't seem to believe Palestinians exist.</p><p>LEVY: I am so proud to be different than Sheldon Adelson. So proud. BLUMENTHAL: I hope that I get that distinction, as well. This last question, wrapping up. Because, you know, it's campaign season. What kind of, how do you feel about the U.S. presidential campaign? There's going to be a walkout at AIPAC against Donald Trump by some of the figures that you've accused of perverting Israeli society. Hillary Clinton is sort of the, you know, challenger of Trump. The presumptive challenger of Trump. But she is also someone who is winning a lot of support from the pro-Israel lobby, and reaping a lot of donations. So do you see any hope or anything coming out of this election campaign?</p><p>LEVY: First of all, if I had to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump concerning the Middle East, not concerning [inaud.], concerning the Middle East, I'd rather vote for Donald Trump. With Hillary Clinton we know very well this means the continuous support, the automatic blind support in the occupation in Israel, and all its crimes, and all it takes. I mean, Clinton is the worst. Donald Trump is unknown. Might be a catastrophe. But until now he's said some interesting things, like wanting to be neutral. That's outrageous.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Pretty radical.</p><p>LEVY: That's out--to be neutral. I mean, I don't think he's a man of justice, I don't think he's a man of morality. I don't think he cares at all, he cares at all about the Palestinians. He hardly knows who they are. Really, you look at this and you look at this, and you understand that the Middle East is now doomed to another four or eight years of stagnation, of developing and strengthening the occupation even more. Nothing will come from Washington. For sure not from there officially. And therefore, again, we are going to think back to the important role of civil society. Because when this is the administration, the only hope will be from campuses of universities, from public opinion, from activists, from NGOs, and from individuals who will raise their voice against.</p><p>BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. How do you avoid burning out, or going crazy? How are you going to survive the next four to eight years? Because--I'm asking for myself. I struggle with this. LEVY: Okay. Who told you I'm going to survive? I'm not sure. Seriously, it's much easier than you think. Because when you really believe in what you do, you have no other choice. It's not like I can make a choice. I don't have any other choice. This is what I believe. This is my profession, to write. This is the mission I took upon myself. And nobody can change it. Unless, you know, I'd be expelled, I'd be jailed, I'd be killed. I don't know what. But as long as I am free to choose, nothing will stop me. BLUMENTHAL: Well, I can just tell you, when I started making the transition from covering domestic politics to writing about Israel-Palestine, it was your voice during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 that really helped me, that really encouraged me, and I think there are countless other people who feel the same. So just as a word of encouragement, in closing--. </p> Wed, 23 Mar 2016 09:13:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, The Real News Network 1053128 at World Grayzone Project Video americans Israel facism End Times Pastor Who Believes the Anti-Christ Is Jewish Will Speak at AIPAC Conference <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Bishop Edwin Harper is rapture ready. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bishop_harper.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Bishop Edwin Harper is a self-described "fanatic" who says he is eagerly awaiting the Rapture. He also believes that when the anti-Christ appears, he will be a Jew.</p><p>This year, the American Israeli Public Affairs Conference, America's most influential pro-Israel organization, <a href="">has invited Harper</a> to speak at its annual conference in Washington DC.</p><p>In 2012, Harper appeared before his Apostolic Life Cathedral in Huntington, West Virginia. Before a lively Sunday crowd, Harper <a href=";list=PLg2jTrHGi9o_HA-ml58CSOOODksd5ff5e&amp;index=3">devoted a sermon</a> to the coming nuclear war with Iran and the impending Rapture. As he worked himself into a lather about the coalition of evildoers that would converge against godly Christendom, Harper suddenly diverged into a tirade against Obamacare, warning his audience that they would have government-owned chips installed in their hands and skulls if they signed up.</p><p>According to Harper, government-subsidized healthcare was a Satanic enterprise—but the president who conceived it was a mere tool of Lucifer.</p><p>“Is Obama the anti-Christ?" Harper asked his audience. "No. He don't qualify. He’s not a Jew! You've got have a Jew!"</p><p>Harper brought his congregation to its feet by declaring that global nuclear annihilation was of little concern to him as long as he reached Heaven. "What I fear, more than a nuclear explosion, is missing the Rapture," the basso profondo preacher boomed from the pulpit. "I fear not being with the Lord more than I fear the guns and the bombs of this earth. Now we’ve got to understand, it’s about living for God. Now, Brother Harper, if we start living the way you’re preaching, people will call us fanatics. Oh, please do! Oh please do!"</p><p>AIPAC has invested substantial resources into cultivating Harper as an ally. In 2011, the AIPAC-affiliated America Israel Education Foundation sent Harper on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. Harper is a regular speaker at the Day of Israel celebrations in Huntington, WV and has participated in AIPAC-related lobbying sessions on Capitol HIll, where he claims to have met with Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim extremist and foreign policy advisor to Ted Cruz.</p><p>According to a <a href="">press release</a> from the West Virginia District of the Pentecostal Church International, Harper "was a key leader in rallying more than 700 attendees at the University of Charleston Town Hall hosted by Senator Joe Manchin III concerning the dangers of the ban Iran nuclear deal."</p><p>AIPAC did not respond to a request for comment on Harper's comments on Jews and the anti-Christ.</p><p>Watch Harper's remarks on the anti-Christ, Jews and readying for nuclear armageddon:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 06:05:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1052670 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Video religion Israel aipac palestine christianity The Clintons Earned Over $3.5 Million in Paid Addresses to Pro-Israel Organizations <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Bill Clinton said he “would grab a rifle” and fight for Israel during paid speech.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/aipac_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Bill and Hillary Clinton are under increasing scrutiny from the mainstream press over paid speeches they have given to big banks in exchange for millions of dollars. <a href="">According to</a> CNN, the couple has earned a total of $153 million in lecture fees from companies and organizations affiliated with the financial industry.</p><p>But the media has been conspicuously silent about the large sums the Clintons have raked in from paid addresses to pro-Israel organizations, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which directly participates in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin citizens of Israel. An evaluation of Hillary Clinton’s <a href="">public disclosures</a> from 2001 to 2015 shows that she and Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea, have earned roughly $4 million in speaking fees from pro-Israel organizations, including JNF and organizations allied with the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The vast majority of these documented payments—$3,599,999—have gone toward the Clintons’ personal income, and up to $450,000 has been funneled into the Clinton Foundation.</p><p>Ramah Kudaimi, membership outreach coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told AlterNet, "It is the right of voters to know what every single candidate earns in speaking fees, whether from banks or pro-Israel groups that engage in oppressive policies against Palestinians. It is the voters’ right to know if we have candidates running to be president who plan to continue horrific U.S. policies that make us all complicit in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.”</p><p><strong>The Wages of Blaming Palestinians</strong></p><p>Bill Clinton’s presidency ended with the collapse of the U.S.-led peace process at Camp David in 2000. After leaving office, Clinton <a href="">publicly blamed</a> Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for the failure of negotiations, explicitly violating <a href=";pg=PA54&amp;lpg=PA54&amp;dq=ahmed+qurei+%22the+americans+turned+their+back+on+us%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=Ll2eogEzuV&amp;sig=eHQJjQdkrkXmnlivEepKC_kEO_0&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjJ_pWA5O7KAhVIQyYKHTnJBW8Q6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&amp;q=ahmed%20qurei%20%22the%20americans%20turned%20their%20back%20on%20us%22&amp;f=false">a promise</a> he made to Arafat at the start of the Camp David process. The former president thus reinforced then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s infamous talking point that there was “no Palestinian partner” for peace.</p><p>Bill Clinton <a href="">declared</a> in the summer of 2002, at the Toronto chapter of the pro-Israel group Hadassah-WIZO, “If Iraq came across the Jordan River, I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die,” reportedly earning wild applause from attendees of the $1000-a-plate dinner. According to a New York Post reporter in attendance, Clinton again blamed Palestinians for his failure at Camp David, “accusing Arafat of making a ‘disastrous mistake’ by turning down past peace proposals that would have given the Palestinian leader control of 97 percent of the West Bank.” Clinton earned $125,000 for the speech.</p><p><strong>Payments From Obama’s Opponents</strong></p><p>Bill Clinton received $425,000 for two speeches to Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a right-wing group that generally supports the Likud-run government of Benjamin Netanyahu and is hostile to Democrats. Simon Wiesenthal Center president Marvin Hier, who <a href="">addressed</a> the 2000 Republican National Convention, has <a href=";b=9240795&amp;ct=14742505#.VrxAxKJdUj8">compared</a> President Barack Obama to Neville Chamberlain and described the Iran nuclear deal as “another Munich.” In 2011, three years before Bill Clinton’s second paid speech before the organization, Hier <a href=";b=6478433&amp;ct=10891189#.VrxBjqJdUj8">accused</a> then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “a sell out” to anti-Semitism for opening diplomatic discussions with Egypt’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p>While unmentioned in public disclosures, the Clinton Foundation website <a href="">notes</a> that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main arm of America’s pro-Israel lobby, contributed between $10,001 and $25,000 to the organization for at least one speech delivered by Bill Clinton, with the exact date or amount paid unspecified. S. Daniel Abraham, the Slim Fast diet mogul who serves on the board of AIPAC, has <a href="">given</a> as much as $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. Through a series of front groups, ad campaigns and Israel propaganda tours for freshman members of Congress, AIPAC <a href="">spent upward</a> of $40 million last year in a failed attempt to derail the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal.</p><p>Among the Clintons’ pro-Israel speaking fees, only one was received from an organization that could be classified as part of Israel’s peace camp. The <a href="">Abraham Fund</a>, which says its aim is to “promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab-Palestinian citizens,” paid Bill Clinton $125,000 for a single speech in 2002.</p><p>Chelsea Clinton raked in as much as $325,000 in speaking fees from the United Jewish Appeal and its affiliate, the Jewish Federations, a pro-Israel umbrella group of Jewish American establishment organizations that <a href="">actively combats</a> the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, bivestment and sanctions) movement. She remits 100 percent of her speaking fees to the Clinton Foundation, where she is a board member and helps decide how the foundation spends its $180 million annual budget.</p><p>Bill Clinton took in six-figure lecture fees from <a href="">pro-Israel</a> <a href="">synagogues</a> around the <a href="">country</a>. Our calculations include only Jewish instutions whose pro-Israel programming could be identified; we excluded hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees paid to the Clintons by Jewish instutions whose online materials do not explicitly promote Israel.</p><p>In addition, Bill Clinton received $250,000 for a speech to Univision Management Company, the media corporation co-owned by pro-Israel billionaire Haim Saban. As AlterNet’s Grayzone Project <a href="">recently reported</a>, Saban and his wife Cheryl contributed $5 million to the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action, this February. Saban has also <a href="">contributed</a> between $5 and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,” Saban said in 2004.</p><p><strong>Whopping Fees From Ethnic Cleansers</strong></p><p>Public records show that Bill Clinton earned a total of $549,999 in four speeches to the JNF. The disclosures do not mention the JNF’s most generous fee. JNF provoked an outcry within pro-Israel circles when it <a href="">transferred</a> half a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation through the Peres Academic Center to pay for a single speech by Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton later said he <a href="">donated</a> his large fee back to the Peres Academic Center, but there are <a href="">lingering questions</a> about where all the money went, including funds from the JNF.</p><p>Formed in 1901, JNF has spent over a century driving Palestinians off their land, including through the creation of the paramilitary force euphemistically <a href="">named</a> the Green Patrol. Former JNF director Yosef Weitz outlined <a href="">detailed plans</a> for the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, demanding that their villages be destroyed and they “be harassed continually” to prevent them from returning.</p><p>In recent years, JNF has teamed up with the Israeli military, police and <a href="">Christian Zionist donors</a> to violently expel the residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev Desert. Among them is Al Arakib, which as of October 2015, has been razed to the ground a staggering <a href="">90 times</a>.</p><p>Video below by Max Blumenthal, a co-author of this article, shows the destruction of Al Arakib by Israeli bulldozers in 2010 — the third time it was demolished — in order to <a href="">make way</a> for a JNF-funded “forest” and Jews-only town. The JNF is widely opposed in Palestinian civil society and controversial even within Israel, where it owns roughly <a href="">13 percent</a> of state land and vows to lease it to exclusively Jewish tenants.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Will Hillary Honor Her Commitments?</strong></p><p>Hillary Clinton has made her unflinching support for Israel a centerpiece of her foreign policy agenda. In November 2015, she <a href="">promised</a> to “reaffirm” the “unbreakable bond with Israel, and Benjamin Netanyahu,” suggesting she would adopt a friendlier posture to Israel’s right-wing leader than Obama had.</p><p>In a July 2015 <a href="">letter</a> to mega-donor Haim Saban, which her campaign distributed to the press, Clinton declared “we need to make countering BDS a priority.” It was the first time in American history that a presidential candidate mentioned by name the grassroots movement to boycott Israel.</p><p>As the challenge to her primary candidacy from Senator Bernie Sanders grows, Hillary Clinton is tacking left. During her concession speech in New Hampshire, Clinton insisted to local supporters, “I believe so strongly that we have to keep up with every fiber of our being the argument for, the campaign for human rights.”</p><p>Whether a Clinton presidency would alter the U.S.-Israeli special relationship remains to be seen. But as long as she honors the wishes of her family’s top contributors, as she has pledged to do, her argument for human rights must exclude Palestinians.</p><p>The following list shows Bill and Hillary Clinton's personal income from speaking fees to pro-Israel groups between 2001 and 2015, based on public disclosures.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="349" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="349" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="" /></div><p>The following list shows the Clintons' speaking events to pro-Israel groups, which were compensated by payments to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation's website does not provide information about the exact date of the engagements or the amount given.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="122" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="122" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="" /></div> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 07:19:00 -0800 Sarah Lazare, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1050496 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project Israel hillary clinton The Self-Invention of Maajid Nawaz: Fact and Fiction in the Life of the Counter-Terror Celebrity <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Maajid Nawaz bases his credibility on a compelling personal story, but how much of it is true?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-02-03_at_7.35.30_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9ba-f7ba-4e1b-e0c88e63de01">Maajid Nawaz, a native Briton of Pakistani background, tells a compelling personal story of his odyssey from extremist Islam to enlightenment. He burst onto the scene in 2008, when he began marketing himself as an expert witness on the threat of radical Islamism. Since then he has appeared with CNN’s <a href="">Anderson Cooper</a> and Fox News’ <a href="">Megyn Kelly</a>, <a href="">HBO’s Bill Maher</a> and National Public Radio’s <a href="">Terry Gross</a>, and been given the stage at high-profile “thought leader” gatherings hosted by <a href="">Aspen Ideas</a> and <a href="">Ted Talks</a>. Nawaz has delivered speeches at the British Liberal Democratic Party’s annual conference and run as a parliamentary candidate, <a href="">testified</a> before the U.S. Senate, discussed Islam on a panel at Harvard, and even <a href="">held forth</a> at a seminar at the Tribeca Film Festival.</p><p dir="ltr">He founded his own think tank in London, the Quilliam Foundation, which is devoted to “deradicalizing” and received $3.8 million funding from the British government. He has been feted by a wide swath of admirers from left-wing heiress <a href="">Jemima Khan</a> to George W. Bush. An embarrassing public implosion in Britain has not drifted across the Atlantic to affect his status in the U.S., where he is acclaimed in neoconservative circles as a courageous truth-teller.</p><p dir="ltr">Recently, Nawaz has trained his firepower on leftists and liberals, equating them with Islamic extremists if they express opposition to Islamophobia. Branding them the "<a href="">regressive left</a>," Nawaz asserts that by refusing to criticize the religion of Islam, progressives are doing nothing less than enabling ISIS.</p><p dir="ltr">“It is self-evident that ISIS have got something to do with Islam," Nawaz <a href="">told an interviewer</a> from Australia’s 7 News. “When ISIS throws gays off the top of buildings, they are using scripture. In fact there are traditions ascribed to the prophet where it says that is exactly the punishment that should be given to gays. I’m not saying that is Islam, I am saying that is a view of Islam justified by scripture.” (Nawaz refused multiple requests to comment for this article.)</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s authority, authenticity and appeal are rooted in the captivating details of his dramatic conversion. It is a story he told in his 2012 autobiography, <em>Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening</em>, which marked his emergence onto the public stage in the United States after several years of prominence in the UK.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s memoirs make riveting reading, and his critique of the perils of Islamist authoritarianism appears eminently sensible. Particularly after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the issues he raises of homegrown radicalization and the segregation of Muslim citizens in some Western societies are pertinent. His story revolves around his membership in the London branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), a global radical Islamist movement operational in some 50 countries. After joining the cult-like group in the mid-1990s, Nawaz rose through its ranks for over a decade. His extremist activities led to his imprisonment in Egypt under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, from December 2001 to March 2006. He has claimed this was a turning point that led him to fundamentally reassess what he called the “totalitarian” ideology of Islamism.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s fascinating autobiography is the basis of his identity as the pop idol of counter-terrorism. His credibility rests on his personal story. It is the foundation of his trustworthiness. So we spoke with more than a dozen people intimately familiar with the crucial facets of Maajid Nawaz’s life. They told us that many of his most important claims about his transformative journey are dubious. These accounts cross the ideological spectrum, from old friends of Nawaz who were never members of HT to members of his immediate family, from those who spent time in prison with him to activists who knew him in his militant Islamist phase. (As his public profile in the U.S. grows, Nawaz’s story is beginning to receive greater scrutiny in the media; some elements of his personal history were the subject of a <a href="">recent article</a> by Nathan Lean.)</p><p dir="ltr">Former associates of Nawaz describe him as an unabashed fanatic during his long stint inside HT, just as he painted himself. They claim, however, that his fanaticism continued well after he claimed to have rejected Islamism in an Egyptian prison, literally days before resigning from HT. These associates insist that his personal life story in which he blames his family for extremism and which he has retailed as intrinsic to his account is largely fabricated. These close sources state that after his release from prison and return to England, Nawaz neglected his wife and young son, whom he had not seen for four years, though not for the reasons he offered in his tell-all book. While Nawaz claimed to have separated from his wife over her refusal to disengage from Islamic radicalism, several sources, including a former cellmate from his time in prison in Egypt, corroborate that he continued to promote HT at precisely the same period he claims his wife’s ideology was suffocating him. What’s more, these sources attributed his separation to an affair they said he had with a fellow student, whom he later hired to work at the Quilliam Foundation.</p><p dir="ltr">During a personal spat with his brother, Kaashif, Nawaz threatened to turn him over to British security services as a dangerous Islamic extremist. Kaashif told us that Nawaz falsely painted him in his autobiography as a would-be suicide bomber, imperiling his security clearance while he was employed at a technology firm. Nawaz’s vindictive streak, which was on display when he lobbied the British Home Office to blacklist several mainstream Muslim organizations, has intimidated many of his former colleagues and estranged family members. For this reason, many of them insisted on anonymity when speaking to us.</p><p dir="ltr">Our sources, who include members of Nawaz’s immediate family, insist that many of the most spectacular episodes of Nawaz’s autobiography—his confrontations with neo-Nazi racists; his firsthand account of what he presented as Britain's first HT murder; his ideological transformation from Islamist to liberal; and his portrayal of his family—are filled with half-truths, exaggerations and falsehoods. These claims raise a whole set of issues beyond the confines of the current ideological debate: the manipulation of Islamist extremism as a marketing tool and the susceptibility of an array of influential figures across the political spectrum to charming, devious and shape-shifting self-promoters.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Suicide Bomb Threat Fantasy</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s story of his radicalization begins during his adolescence and forms the opening of his autobiography, <em>Radical</em>. As the alienated son of an educated immigrant family growing up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, he recalled racist gangs, including the notorious neo-Nazi group Combat 18 marauding through town, attacking him and his friends. In search of an identity, he became a streetwise rebel heavily influenced by the hip-hop culture from the South Bronx.</p><p dir="ltr">But a childhood friend of Nawaz who grew up in the same neighborhood supplied a different account. “There was no neo-Nazi right-wing movement that was so out in the open in Southend,” he recalled. “It was a great place to live and we all enjoyed it there. You would come across some racism, but not of the Islamophobic kind because no one would know what that was back in the '90s. The whole concept of being anti-Muslim wasn’t present; it was about being anti-foreign.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz grew up in a stately home now valued at close to $1.5 million, but according to the childhood friend, his family was forced to sell the house after their financial situation took a turn for the worse.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-02-03_at_7.43.03_pm.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em>The home where Maajid Nawaz was raised in Southend-on-Sea, Essex</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">By Nawaz’s own account, he lived “a polarized childhood.” He writes that his father went away to work for the Oasis Oil Company in Libya for months at a time, leaving him under the watch of his mother and her “more liberal outlook.” He describes his mother as “fiercely independent and free spirited, always the first to dance at weddings and last to sit down.”</p><p dir="ltr">According to Nawaz’s childhood friend, his parents had a rancorous divorce, followed by his father’s remarriage. Nawaz’s mother became involved with a non-Muslim man, the friend recalled, causing a stir in the local Muslim community. He said she resented the spouses of both Nawaz and his older brother for their outward displays of religiosity, deepening the tension in the family.</p><p dir="ltr">“There was a lot that went wrong there,” the friend said. “What happened with his parents and the effect it had on the community also helped shape him.” He emphasized that some of the factors that led to Nawaz’s radicalization were not political at all, but had their roots in his personal life, and which he has yet to publicly acknowledge.  </p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz writes in <em>Radical</em> that he came of age during a period of heightened political awareness in the British Muslim community. The war in Bosnia spurred a wave of public talks at mosques and debates at community centers in East London. As young Muslims flocked to mosques out of concern for fellow Muslims in Bosnia, many found themselves immersed in a religious atmosphere for the first time. His former friend described Nawaz as growing interested in politically minded Islam, but not the hardcore Islamism Nawaz described. At around age 15, Nawaz was following the lead of his older brother, Kaashif, who was growing politically active and religiously involved at the time.</p><p dir="ltr">In <em>Radical</em>, Nawaz credits Kaashif with recruiting him into the Islamist fold, referring to him throughout the book as “Osman.” Determined to set the record straight, Kaashif Nawaz agreed to speak to us in order to give his version about the truth of his brother’s account.</p><p dir="ltr">Early on in his autobiography, Nawaz relates a story that supposedly explained how Kaashif demonstrated to him the power of Islamism. In Nawaz's telling, Kaashif intimidated a gang of white racists in Essex by threatening to detonate a bomb he had in his rucksack. The gang had surrounded them, but instead of attacking, a gang leader named Mickey inexplicably fled the scene.</p><p dir="ltr">“Osman looked at me with a level of confidence in his eyes,” Nawaz wrote of his older brother, “‘I told him we’re Muslims and we don’t fear death. We’re like those Palestinian terrorists he sees on the television blowing up planes. We’re suicide bombers. We’ve been taught how to make bombs and I’ve got one in my rucksack. If you even try to make a move, I’ll set mine off. Trust me, I don’t give a shit. If we have to take ourselves out to take you out, then that’s what we will do.’”</p><p dir="ltr">According to Nawaz, his brother’s “bluff played on Mickey’s racism.” Claiming the gang leader “knew his Combat 18 literature,” Nawaz wrote that Combat 18 “depicted Muslims as terrorists, and suggested that we were all murderers given half the chance. So when Osman said he had a bomb in his rucksack, and that we had links to suicide bombers, it confirmed every prejudice that Mickey came to believe about us.”</p><p dir="ltr">The gang was so stricken with fear that they stood down, revealing to Nawaz the power of self-sacrificial Islamist violence. </p><p dir="ltr">But according to Kaashif Nawaz, the entire melodramatic episode was in fact a fantasy contrived by his younger brother’s exceptionally active imagination. Kaashif explained that the dispute with the white gang occurred because Maajid’s best friend had been “messing around” with Mickey’s girlfriend. Kaashif resolved the issue by convincing Mickey to find the culprit elsewhere: “I asked Mickey to leave my brother alone and gave him the green light to do what he wants to his friend.”</p><p dir="ltr">A cousin of Nawaz was also befuddled by Nawaz's account. “This whole story is imaginary,” the cousin told us. “It didn’t happen. Kaashif didn’t even go around with a rucksack.” According to these two witnesses, there was not only no bomb, but no backpack.</p><p dir="ltr">The story contains obvious clues as to its fabrication. The idea of undertaking a terrorist attack by exploding a “rucksack bomb” only entered public consciousness after the London bombings of July 7, 2005, when four British Muslims detonated explosives <a href="">concealed in rucksacks</a>. A decade earlier, such a notion was simply unheard of.</p><p dir="ltr">The cultural indicators of the time are also off-kilter in Nawaz’s story. To anyone familiar with the cultural landscape of mid-1990s England, it would seem absurd for a gang of white racists to package their racism toward Asians in explicitly Islamophobic terms. English racism of the time was a strictly ethnic affair, focused on "Pakis," "Arabs" and "niggers” and undergirded by virulent anti-Semitism. It took nearly a decade for this particular bigotry to take a religious turn.</p><p dir="ltr">As Nawaz’s former childhood friend told us, “I don’t think that anyone who would have attacked them at that time, like a neo-Nazi, would have known what a suicide bomber was. That was way ahead of its time, so kudos to them if they could have understood something like that back then.”</p><p dir="ltr">By other eyewitness accounts, Nawaz had exaggerated, or even fabricated, the story of his brother’s imaginary rucksack bomb to explain the incident that inspired his descent into Islamist extremism. “Now, here, with a defeated and retreating enemy, I finally understood what my brother had been talking about,” Nawaz wrote. “Islamism, I realized, could give me the respect that I’d craved since primary school. Here today, outnumbered, I stood my ground with Osman, and we won because we invoked Allah.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Spinning a Gang Stabbing into ‘HT Murder’</strong></p><p dir="ltr">At age 16, Nawaz said he became acquainted with a charismatic organizer for the extremist Islamist movement known as Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), or the Party of Liberation. Founded in 1953 in Jerusalem by Sheikh Taqqiuddin al-Nabhani, a Palestinian Muslim cleric, the movement sought to establish a global Islamic state or caliphate, based on its rigid interpretation of Islamic law. HT leadership emphasized political subversion over violent jihad, intending to organize military coups in Muslim majority nations. For an alienated and bullied British Muslim youth like Nawaz, the group offered an easily accessible community. But few of his peers took it as seriously as he did, as several of his former HT colleagues told us.</p><p dir="ltr">“HT was kind of a joke, kind of a laugh,” a former movement member and friend of Nawaz said. “You go in and listen to the fiery rhetoric, then have a little munch on kebab afterward with ‘the brothers.’ It’s what you do when you’re young. But for [Nawaz], it was his life. It was everything to him, it was his whole existence.”</p><p dir="ltr">According to this source, who like many others, said he feared retaliation if his identity was revealed, Nawaz was determined from the beginning to win leadership of HT’s London chapter: “He can’t ever accept number two; he has to always be number one. He would have been really successful in a real job, if he had ever held one.”</p><p dir="ltr">During the mid-'90s, while studying at Newham College of Further Education, Nawaz spread the gospel of HT alongside his friend Ed Husain. Husain was a bit older than Nawaz, more seasoned as an organizer, and unlike Nawaz, came to political Islam with a firmer understanding of traditional Islamic scripture thanks to his upbringing in a Sufi family. He would remain a significant influence on Nawaz in the years after their break from the movement.</p><p dir="ltr">In his autobiography, Nawaz boasted that he and Husain mounted a lightning takeover of the Student Union at Newham, outplaying their more pious, culturally backward Salafi opponents with his “B-boy attitude” and the group’s superior political savvy. He immediately turned the union into a front for HT, he claimed, funding the extremist organization under legitimate cover.</p><p dir="ltr">“Such takeovers were happening across the UK,” Nawaz wrote. “Islamism was firmly on the rise.”</p><p dir="ltr">But according to a former classmate who was active in the Newham College Islamic Society (ISOC), a mainstream club for Muslim students, this story is mostly fiction. “Nawaz promotes himself as a grand master of jihad, but really he had no traction. They [Nawaz and HT] used to resort to paying Muslims to vote for them… They were famous for going around London putting bright orange stickers on traffic lights, that was about it. They were a nuisance, nothing more than that.”</p><p dir="ltr">In his autobiography, Nawaz characterized his influence at Newham as strong enough to generate the atmosphere that led to what he and Husain called “the first Islamist murder in Britain.”</p><p dir="ltr">The notorious incident in 1995 at Newham College in East London was a defining moment for Nawaz and Husain. It was also a startling experience for Britain, received extensive press coverage, and for the first time put HT on the map as a threat to British security. According to several sources who knew Nawaz well at the time and one who was a direct actor in the events, Nawaz invented or distorted large portions of his story.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz claimed in his book that he and his fellow HT-affiliated classmates exacerbated tensions between Nigerian students and the mostly South Asian Muslim student population. He painted a picture of an intensifying atmosphere of intimidation in which HT ideologues rampaged across the campus, distributed inflammatory literature, held impromptu speeches in the cafeteria and demanded that women wear hijab, or headscarfs. At the same time, HT encouraged the Muslim students to band together and fight back against the Nigerian student gangs who had been bullying them.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Nawaz’s account, “a lanky black guy” and Islamic “jihadist” named Saeed Nur mysteriously turned up at Newham College one day brandishing a knife, offering to help “defend” the Muslim students from the Nigerians. Nawaz claimed Nur's presence played a major role in provoking the African students to clash with the Muslims. Tensions exploded, Nawaz wrote, when a confrontation in the student common room around a table tennis match resulted in Nigerian student leader Ayatonde Obanubi threatening a Muslim student with a knife, though no physical harm was done.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz wrote that he organized a “spontaneous rally” of Muslim students in the college’s courtyard the following day to protest Obanubi’s intimidation. After marching around shouting “Allah hu Akbar!” Nawaz claimed he called on the Muslim students to stage congregational prayers to menace onlookers.</p><p dir="ltr">“And then he arrived,” Nawaz wrote, referring to the knife-wielding Nur. “I’m not sure who had called [Nur], he’d offered his number to everyone, but he was aware of the incident in the common room and his eyes were bloodshot red.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz claimed Obanubi suddenly pulled out two knives and attacked Nur, who stabbed Obanubi in the chest, killing him. According to Nawaz, he was standing right behind Nur and momentarily unsheathed his own knife before tucking it away. He claimed to have watched impassively as Obanubi died. In his narrative, Nawaz was charismatic enough to help inspire the climate of violence but was not involved in the crime either directly or indirectly.</p><p dir="ltr">However, a co-defendant accused of the murder but who was ultimately acquitted (a close friend with Nawaz at the time, though never a member of HT) tells a different story. He claims Nawaz’s story is untrue.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the source, Nawaz had known in advance that a fight was going to take place at the college.</p><p dir="ltr">“The clash that led to the killing had nothing to do with Islamism or extremism. It was a stupid disagreement over table tennis,” the co-defendant told us. “The kid who was killed was a member of a well-known Nigerian gang called the Network Boys. They used to go around hassling and bullying Asian kids. The table tennis incident where Network gang members clashed with some Asian kids happened over a week before the actual killing.”</p><p dir="ltr">Not only did Nawaz know the fight was going to happen, the co-defendant insisted Nawaz and his erstwhile HT associate, Husain, had colluded to provoke it. According to the co-defendant, Husain telephoned Nur the morning of the day Obanubi was killed, and then phoned Nawaz.</p><p dir="ltr">“Maajid [Nawaz] is on the phone, then tells me that something’s going to happen, there’s going to be a fight,” the co-defendant recalled. “So we leave together to go to the college. Maajid asks me if I’ve got my knife. I don’t have it, but he tells me he’s got his.”</p><p dir="ltr">The source described Nawaz’s claim to have organized a rally at the college to intimidate non-Muslim students as a straightforward lie.</p><p dir="ltr">“There was no rally before the killing,” Nawaz’s former friend stated flatly. “Maajid didn't stage any sort of demonstration. That’s complete bullshit. He was with me that morning. Neither me nor Maajid, who were standing together, were right at the front of the scene, so we didn’t really see exactly what had happened.”</p><p dir="ltr">In this version, Nawaz’s story was invented long after the fact to burnish his former Islamist credentials while concealing his actual role in the events that culminated in Obanubi’s death.</p><p dir="ltr">“Maajid knew more about the whole thing than he’s let on,” claimed the former co-defendant. “Saeed Nur came down on campus because he got a call from Ed Husain from the Student Union. And it was Ed Husain that called up Maajid [Nawaz] to come to the college. That’s how Maajid knew something was going to happen. He and Husain had called Saeed down in the first place, and we all knew that Saeed and his gang carried knives.”</p><p dir="ltr">Although Nawaz pins the blame for Nur’s actions on HT, Nur in fact was never a member of the group, and according to the co-defendant, Nur had proudly taken responsibility for the killing on behalf of another gang from Brixton, a band of common ruffians known as the South London Posse.</p><p dir="ltr">Several former classmates of Nawaz with firsthand knowledge whom we interviewed confirmed that Nur was not even affiliated with that gang, but had boastfully used the murder as a sort of trophy to generate street cred. One ex-classmate told us he considered Nur to be “mentally ill.”</p><p dir="ltr">We asked the former co-defendant in the Obanubi case why he thought Maajid Nawaz would lie about the rally.</p><p dir="ltr">“Me and Maajid were like the best of friends,” he explained. “We used to hang out with each other all the time. The problem with Maajid is he was always trying to be the big man, the leader. He was so good at lying because he used to mix his lies with partial truths. I remember, Maajid used to like telling everyone that he was from the ghetto, from the street. But he wasn’t. I’m from the street. I know what it's like. Maajid grew up in a quiet, middle-class suburb in Southend. So when he came east, he had to tell loads of stories to fit in and make out he was a gangster.”</p><p dir="ltr">Another source who was close to the situation and worked near Newham College corroborated this account. “After the incident, I remember three of the guys that did it were people I knew,” he told us. “They hid out at my shop and told me the full details... I was shocked because none of them regretted it. They just matter-of-factly told me that he deserved what he got. These people had nothing to do with HT. It was all about gang politics, and religion gave them a convenient excuse—they wanted to prove their balls, and used to go around claiming they were with the South London Posse. But the South London boys made clear these kids had nothing to do with them either.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="">blog post</a> in September 2007, Nawaz himself conceded that, “it was a gang murder, in which HT played no direct part. However, it was primarily us HT activists that provided that gang culture with a ‘Muslim’ identity…. Such an atmosphere was undoubtedly created by us HT activists.” He described himself as “the HT activist that invited Saeed Nur on campus.”</p><p dir="ltr">After the murder, Nawaz failed to demonstrate regret for his relationship with Saeed Nur, according to the former co-defendant. He recalled an instance in which Nawaz demanded credit for the murder. “Maajid used to not just brag about it, but took direct responsibility for the killing. I remember once when we were walking around Southend, we got into a tiff with some black guy, and then Maajid told him, ‘You think you’re a bad man? You heard about what happened in East Ham? I did that! We were the ones that fucked that guy up. So trust me, you ain’t bad.’”</p><p dir="ltr">As a co-defendant in the trial, the source had direct access to Nawaz’s statements to the police about Obanubi’s murder. Those police statements, the source said, contradict the account in Nawaz's book.</p><p dir="ltr">“I saw the statements that Maajid gave to the police, because as a co-defendant obviously my lawyers had access to this material and it was relevant to my defense,” the co-defendant said. “Despite all his boasting and bragging about his role in orchestrating the murder, his police statements minimized his knowledge about the incident, and claimed he didn’t know people at the scene. It was all lies. I know, because I’m one of the people Maajid pretended to have never known. After I was arrested, Maajid stayed away from me, and I lost contact with him.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Crown Prosecution Service, which conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, has declined to release the relevant police statements for the public record.</p><p dir="ltr">The story that HT’s ideology inspired the killing of Obanubi entered mainstream British consciousness in 2007 through the publication of Ed Husain’s autobiography, <em>The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left</em>. It detailed his indoctrination into HT’s extremist fold and the deprogramming that returned him to traditional Islam, and won critical plaudits and wide readership. To firm up his account of Obanubi’s murder, Husain drew heavily on input from his friend, Nawaz.</p><p dir="ltr">When Nawaz released his own autobiography five years later, closely modeling his story after Husain’s, he revived the narrative of the “Islamist murder” and reinforced the significance of his former life as an Islamic extremist. In the years that followed, Nawaz retold his version of the events in the <a href="">Daily Mail</a> and the <a href="">New York Times</a>, where he claimed his “self-appointed bodyguard stabbed to death a non-Muslim student on campus, to cries of 'Allahu akbar!'" Nawaz furnished the episode as proof of his special insight into the radicalization of the infamous ISIS executioner, popularly known as Jihadi John, a British Arab killed by a drone strike in Syria.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c7-4b5d-410a-bc64b3cdefce"><strong>Prison Revisionism</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Following his time at Newham College, from which Nawaz said he was expelled after Obanubi's killing, he led an HT study cell out of his apartment in East London. One of his former students, who quit HT after about a year, described sessions with Nawaz as “very secretive, like living in Stalin’s Russia.”</p><p dir="ltr">Like other entry-level members of HT, Nawaz’s students pored over a tract titled <em>Systems of Islam</em>. The book’s author, HT founder Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, presented ideological conflict as the central path to societal transformation and emphasized the complete incompatibility of secular Western and Islamic thought.</p><p dir="ltr">“Maajid was very good at articulating political Islam,” his former childhood friend remembered. “He was charismatic and could explain himself really well. But even then, you could see that with all the attention he was getting, he was enjoying it too much. He just enjoyed people looking up to him.”</p><p dir="ltr">Using his little apartment in East London as a base, Nawaz struck out for Pakistan and Denmark to establish new cell groups. In 2001, during a study year in Egypt as an Arabic student at London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), security forces of President Hosni Mubarak arrested Nawaz and several other HT members. For five years, Nawaz languished in Cairo’s Mazrah Tora prison alongside a motley band of Islamic radicals and political dissidents.</p><p dir="ltr">The saga of Nawaz’s imprisonment forms the heart of his inspiring coming-out story. But like many other chapters he has written about his life, this one is filled with apparent distortions and is challenged by claims from former close associates who describe his account as essentially false.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Nawaz, his years of detention until his release in 2006 opened his eyes to the horrors of Islamist ideology. Since then, he has pointed to a shifting number of reasons for his transformation. In a 2015 <a href="">interview</a> with NPR’s Terry Gross, he credited it to reading George Orwell’s <em>Animal Farm</em>. "I began to join the dots and think, my God, if these guys that I'm here with ever came to power, they would be the Islamist equivalent of <em>Animal Farm</em>,” he explained. In a 2012 <a href="">interview</a> with the Quilliam Foundation, Nawaz claimed it was Amnesty International’s campaigning for his release as a <a href="">prisoner of conscience</a> that “enabled me to be emotionally prepared to question my deeply held prejudices.”</p><p dir="ltr">In his autobiography, Nawaz attributed his deprogramming to debates and study with his cellmates. “For me, with its rich mix of prisoners, from the assassins of [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat all the way through to the liberals and even homosexuals, Mazrah Tora became a political and social education par excellence,” he wrote. “The studies, conversations and experiences I gained in Mazrah Tora, over months and years, were crucial in overcoming my dogmatic allegiance to the Islamist ideology.</p><p dir="ltr">But according to former associates familiar with Nawaz before, during and after his prison experience, his account conceals crucial facts and lays out a false chronology of his deradicalization.</p><p dir="ltr">Ian Malcolm Nisbet was one of the Britons arrested and detained with Nawaz in Egypt. Born a Christian, he eventually converted to Islam, and his desire to read Islamic texts firsthand led him to take up a course in Arabic in Egypt, he said. Like Nawaz, Nisbet was also adopted as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. He told us in an interview that much of Nawaz’s narrative about the circumstances of his prison “conversion” is untrue.</p><p dir="ltr">“Once we were moved out of the torture cells and into the normal prison, we spent almost all of our free time together,” Nisbet said. “Other prisoners were members of various jihadist groups, disgraced businessmen or politicians, and Muslim Brotherhood activists. Maajid was exactly the opposite of what he’d described in his book. Rather than displaying doubts and questioning Islamist doctrines, Maajid was at the forefront of trying to convert everyone to HT ideology.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yasser Nabi, Maajid’s first cousin, who had traveled to Egypt regularly to visit him in prison, corroborated Nisbet’s account. Nabi had studied with HT early on along with Nawaz, but never became a member of the group. He told us that Nawaz spoke frequently, and proudly, during the visits about his efforts to convince his fellow inmates of HT’s position.</p><p dir="ltr">“He [Maajid] said he wanted to go and study under an HT scholar in Palestine after his release. No sign at all of any doubts about HT,” Nabi told us.</p><p dir="ltr">“To be honest, Maajid was quite antagonistic,” said Nisbet. “He had a burning need to always be right. He was often so aggressive in arguing with other prisoners in support of HT that they would usually beg me to try and rein him in.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nisbet said Nawaz showed no signs of rejecting HT. Nor could he recall any indications that Nawaz intended to leave the organization.</p><p dir="ltr">“I remember even on the plane back from Egypt, we were all talking about how our experience in prison had reinforced our conviction and dedication to the party," Nisbet said.</p><p dir="ltr">Nabi confirmed Nisbet’s account. “I remember during one visit in the last year Maajid was in prison, he told me he believed that Shar’iah rulings on slave girls could be applied in the West to have sexual relations with non-Muslim women outside of marriage. He quoted Egyptian jihadists to justify this idea, and he even made out that this was what he intended to do once he got back to the UK.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Recruited as an Informant</strong></p><p dir="ltr">As soon as Nawaz and his fellow former prisoners arrived at Heathrow on their return from Egypt in early 2006, Nisbet said they were quickly spirited away for interrogation. “When we came into Heathrow we were met by Special Branch police officers,” he recalled. “We were interviewed separately about our Islamic views and each of us was asked whether we would become informants in the local mosques. We were asked whether Special Branch could come and visit us in our homes to continue the discussion. Only Maajid agreed to this, as he says he could not think of a quick response to get rid of them.”</p><p dir="ltr">If Nisbet’s account is correct, no sooner had Nawaz landed on British soil after his detention in Egypt than he volunteered to become an informant for Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch. (This is a unit of the British police that oversaw national security related matters, and later merged with the Anti-Terrorist Branch to form the Counter Terrorism Command.)</p><p dir="ltr">Another former HT member who was close to Nawaz at the time, who now also rejects the movement’s ideology, told us Nawaz was indeed a police informant, helping the Metropolitan Police identify potentially troublesome HT members at political protests and other public gatherings.</p><p dir="ltr">In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the Metropolitan Police refused to confirm or deny the matter, on the following grounds:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">“To confirm or deny whether we hold any information, would allow interested parties to gain an upper hand and awareness of policing decisions used to safeguard national security. As you may be aware, disclosure under FOIA is a release to the public at large. Therefore, to confirm or deny that we hold any information concerning meetings between Special Branch officers and Maajid Nawaz could potentially be misused proving detrimental to national security.”</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c7-fa92-ca1c-219a3a9c6324"><strong>Back to the Movement</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz claims in his book that he met Ed Husain for the first time since his imprisonment in Egypt after announcing his rejection of HT at his university. The encounter occurred, he wrote, “That year, before graduation… When I left HT, I also left my friends behind…. Just at the time when all my HT friends were viciously turning on me—Traitor! Sell-out! Agent!”</p><p dir="ltr">In a subsequent interview with the Austrian newspaper, <a href="">Die Press</a>, Nawaz stated, “During the time of graduation, I decided to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir; I was 29 years old and it was 2006.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz indeed graduated from SOAS with his BA in Arabic and law in 2007. However, he announced his resignation from HT several months later in May 2007.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, Nawaz had redoubled his commitment to HT as soon as he returned from Egypt, advancing the organization with renewed fervor, according to multiple former associates.</p><p dir="ltr">“On his return,” <a href="">Husain wrote</a> of Nawaz, “the Hizb [HT] promoted him at events up and down Britain and gladly fielded him for media interviews.”</p><p dir="ltr">Far from displaying doubts about HT or playing a low profile, as might be expected if he had rejected HT, after his return to England Nawaz publicly and repeatedly declared that his imprisonment had hardened his conviction of the significance of HT’s ideology and mission.</p><p dir="ltr">As Husain has acknowledged, instead of retreating from HT, Nawaz voluntarily increased his activities on behalf of the group. This led him to join HT’s national executive committee. Nawaz gladly accepted his new authority within the group and threw himself into promoting HT’s vision of an Islamic state.</p><p dir="ltr">That Nawaz’s prison experience increased his Islamist zeal was corroborated by a member of Nawaz’s immediate family who told us that when Nawaz returned to England, despite having been away from his family for nearly five years, he virtually disappeared from the family home.</p><p dir="ltr">“He had a wife and small son, but she would complain that he was never at home,” Nawaz’s relative said. “You’d think someone who’d been imprisoned for so long would relish spending time with their family. Not Maajid. He couldn’t wait to throw himself into promoting HT.”</p><p dir="ltr">According to Nawaz’s family member—who has never been a member of HT—it was Nawaz himself who had insisted on touring the UK on behalf of the extremist group. This assertion is confirmed by several SOAS students who told us of their encounters with Nawaz when he enrolled at the university in 2006.</p><p dir="ltr">“As soon as he got back, Maajid was everywhere doing so-called dawah (propagation) for HT,” one of his former classmates, a liberal Muslim who has always been opposed to HT, told us. “He was doing sermons, trying to convert people, starting discussions with other Muslims. He was doing this constantly until the last minute. Literally just days before he left HT, he had been giving a pro-HT sermon at SOAS.”</p><p dir="ltr">Another former classmate of Nawaz’s who belonged to HT but later left the group, told us, “[Nawaz] was energetically involved in calling people to HT’s caliphate after prison; he seemed just as influenced by HT than ever before. Other [HT] members told me clearly after he came out of prison he was more convinced than HT than ever before. I could see it in the way he was preaching.”</p><p dir="ltr">In April 2006, Nawaz told Sarah Montague on <a href="">BBC’s Hardtalk</a> that his detention in Egypt had “convinced [him] even more… that there is a need to establish this caliphate as soon as possible.”</p><p dir="ltr">In October 2006, Nawaz delivered a <a href="">fiery sermon</a> at the annual al-Quds rally, a global, Islamic-oriented demonstration of solidarity with Palestinians. He demanded the establishment of an Islamic state on the ashes of Israel: "This state that existed in history, it brought a golden era to Spain, it brought a golden era to Baghdad. This is the Islamic state!”</p><p dir="ltr">Three months later, Nawaz <a href="">appeared at the forefront</a> of an HT rally at the U.S. embassy in London, protesting U.S. military operations in Iraq and Somalia. He delivered a rousing speech demanding an end to “colonial intervention in the Muslim world,” and the establishment of “khilafah” to put an end to Western-backed dictators in the region.</p><p dir="ltr">These episodes, however, went unmentioned by Nawaz in his autobiography. Instead, the book’s <a href="">description</a> claims, “Maajid went into prison preaching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong, and determined to do something about it.”</p><p dir="ltr">But these events occurred during the same period he claims he could not stand to spend time in his own home with his wife because of her fervent pro-HT world view. Once again, his former friends and others who remain close to his ex-wife accuse him of playing fast and loose with the facts.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c8-52ca-c190-c159f18bbd25"><strong>Toward Divorce, and More Distortions</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In <em>Radical</em>, Nawaz claims that the antipathy he supposedly developed toward HT was responsible for the growing gulf between him and his wife, Rabia, and that her combination of clinginess and militancy was the cause of their estrangement. “Every time she asked me to spend more time indoors,” he wrote, “I felt suffocated as I tried to remove myself from everything associated with HT and their ideology.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a 2013 interview with NPR's Ted Show host Guy Raz, Nawaz <a href="">claimed</a> that Rabia was still a hardcore HT cadre when he emerged from prison and that she “felt very let down because she'd waited all those years for her hero, her Islamist-resistance hero to return only to—for him to come and say well, it was all wrong.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yet it was Rabia who had perhaps done the most to campaign for Nawaz’s release from Mubarak’s prison. And she did so in explicit violation of HT principles, which expressly <a href="http://prohibit">prohibit</a> political participation in any pre-existing democratic system.</p><p dir="ltr">According to a close friend of Rabia’s who helped her lobby senior Labour politicians, Rabia had been “a force of nature” though she was “really distraught about the whole thing, as you’d expect. But she wouldn’t stop,” the friend explained. “Every day, she would be lobbying politicians, the media, anyone who could help. If anyone should take credit for getting Maajid released, it’s her.”</p><p dir="ltr">This description of Rabia contradicts Nawaz’s portrayal of her in his autobiography as an immovably bigoted HT ideologue. After HT effectively washed its hands of Nawaz and his fellow HT members during their detention in Egypt, Rabia relentlessly campaigned to raise awareness of Nawaz’s plight, hoping to pressure the British government into action.</p><p dir="ltr">“Despite everything she did for him, Maajid basically left her alone after he was back in the UK,” Rabia’s friend said.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead of removing himself from “everything associated with HT and their ideology,” as he claimed, Nawaz distanced himself from his wife—not to separate himself from HT but instead to escalate his work on its behalf.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c8-a0b3-64e5-78a1def46449"><strong>A Convenient Deradicalization</strong></p><p dir="ltr">By May 2007, Nawaz was rising through HT ranks. His close friend Ed Husain had just released his book, <em>The Islamist</em>, which catalogued his experiences inside the movement and described his path back to traditional Islam. The book rose to international bestseller status, garnering Husain a public platform as well as access to influential British counter-terror officials. A former Home Office official <a href="">told Nafeez Ahmed</a> (co-author of this article), “the draft was written by Ed [Husain] but then ‘peppered’ by government input — not explicitly, but implicitly.”</p><p dir="ltr">Just as Nawaz was approaching the upper echelons of HT, he suddenly resigned from the organization. Former friends of both Husain and Nawaz told us Nawaz was captivated by the stunning example of Husain’s success and eager to emulate it.  </p><p dir="ltr">Theological and scriptural counter-arguments appeared to have played no meaningful role in Nawaz’s decision to leave HT. Besides witnessing Husain’s rise to prominence, the main catalysts appear to have been multiple: the terrifying experience of his imprisonment due to his Islamist activism; the emotional disconnection from his wife Rabia; a growing disillusionment with his identity as an HT member and ex-prisoner; and an apparent new love interest at SOAS in the form of a more senior student.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s decision to become an informant for the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch upon his arrival from Egypt, described by his former fellow prisoner Ian Nisbet and an ex-HT member, also played an instrumental role in his complex evolution. In his book, Nawaz claims how in May 2006, he began to wonder where he could go next with his HT baggage. But rather than describing an inner ideological or theological crisis behind his decision to renounce HT, he outlines an emotional lack of self-esteem and realization that his path as a senior Islamist activist offered only a dead-end.</p><p dir="ltr">One fellow student who was at SOAS while Nawaz was active on campus suggested to us that his failure to generate interest in HT influenced his exodus from the group. “Far from SOAS being a hotbed of radical Islamism, we basically used to laugh the HT guys— including Maajid—out of campus,” he said, echoing the same assessment as Nawaz’s former Newham classmate of the earlier experience there. “HT had no traction whatsoever at [university]. Maybe this skeptical social and intellectual environment is what really caused his conviction in Islamism to buckle.”</p><p dir="ltr">As a matter of chronology, it was only after Nawaz returned to his studies at a major London university, surrounded by leading scholars and bright students of the Middle East and Islamic history—and where he was able to recognize more publicly acceptable opportunities to advance his career and personal life through the example of Ed Husain’s success—that he finally began to become “deradicalized.”</p><p dir="ltr">However, even though he resigned from HT, he continued to identify with Islamist beliefs in private. According to his first cousin Yasser Nabi, in a meeting a few weeks after his resignation from HT in May, Nawaz said he still respected and believed in HT’s founder, Sheikh Taqiuddin al-Nabhani.</p><p dir="ltr">“I remember, Maajid said to me, if Sheikh al-Nabhabi was still alive today, he’d be saying what I’m saying," Nabi told us. “He continued to justify his position under a veneer of Islamism. For instance, when he was accused by HT members of promoting homosexuality, he used to get angry and make clear he believed homosexuality is a grave sin and should be punished under Islamic laws. This was months after he publicly announced he’d left the organization.”</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c8-ecd7-e5fc-65f10c753aef"><strong>The Birth of Quilliam</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In April 2008, Husain and Nawaz together founded the Quilliam Foundation. Billed as the world’s “first counter-extremism think tank,” Quilliam was named after the English convert William Henry Quilliam, who opened the first mosque in England. Husain, Nawaz and their co-directors marketed themselves as leaders of a new movement for Islamic reform whose insider experiences gave them special powers of de-radicalization. Between 2008 and 2011, Quilliam <a href="">received</a> the U.S. dollar equivalent of at least $3.8 million in British government funding—about 92 percent of its total operating budget. Nawaz was, in effect, an employee of the British government, reaping a salary of about $140,000 a year.</p><p dir="ltr">In the years after the 2005 terrorist attacks of 7/7, in which Islamic extremists carried out a series of suicide bombings across London targeting morning commuters, the narrow focus of former HT ideologues on the threat of nonviolent extremism appealed to the British government.</p><p dir="ltr">Among Nawaz’s principal achievements at Quilliam was helping design the Preventing Violent Extremism program, which was popularly known as Prevent. A leaked 2010 <a href="">briefing paper</a> Quilliam sent to Charles Farr, the director general of the UK Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), highlighted the most troubling aspects of the Prevent strategy. “The ideology of non-violent Islamists is broadly the same as that of violent Islamists; they disagree only on tactics,” the document read. The paper, which drew heavily on Nawaz and Husain’s theories, urged the British government to reject partnerships with nonviolent organizations and individuals who supposedly shared Islamist ideals.</p><p dir="ltr">Muslim community leaders widely objected to Quilliam’s memo. It seemed to them to be a blacklist of nonviolent British Muslim groups and activists that accused them of providing the ideological fuel for violent extremism. Groups named in Quilliam’s blacklist included the Muslim Safety Forum, which coordinated directly with the police on community relations, and the Muslim Welfare House that drove radical cleric Abu Hamza from the Finsbury Park mosque. A Scotland Yard anti-terror group called the Muslim Contact Unit somehow made it into the Quilliam blacklist as well, befuddling British counter-terror officials.</p><p dir="ltr">"We believe the Prevent program isn't working as effectively as it could and want a strategy that is effective and properly focused—that is why we are reviewing it," a Home Office spokesman told the Guardian at the time.</p><p dir="ltr">Rizwaan Sabir, an assistant professor specializing in counter-terrorism and insurgency at Liverpool John Moores University, argues that the blacklist was evidence of Quilliam’s ulterior political agenda. “Quilliam is not there to de-radicalize, they’re there to offer a counter-narrative,” Sabir told us. “That’s why they primarily engage with people in power; they’re there to give legitimacy and justification to government power and practice.”</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c9-5a6b-a3a4-2a52fcbafa1e"><strong>Father Figure</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s account of his divorce from Rabia fit his developing storyline of sacrificing everything to break free from Islamist chains. While he blamed the split on his inability to reconcile his transition to liberalism with her HT membership, one close friend of the family of Nawaz’s ex-wife told us a different story.  </p><p dir="ltr">According to Rabia's friend, the main cause of the breakdown in Nawaz’s marriage was an extramarital affair with Fatima Mullick, a fellow student at SOAS, the London-based university where he was continuing to pursue his studies in law and Arabic after his return from imprisonment in Egypt.</p><p dir="ltr">A friend of Nawaz during this period of his life echoed this account, describing the two as being deeply romantically involved. Mullick denied the allegation, however, telling us, “The information you have cited is untrue. While I did get to know Maajid and considered him a friend while we both attended SOAS (like many others at university), that was the extent of it. In any case, I now have nothing to do with the man.”</p><p dir="ltr">In his book, Nawaz describes Mullick in sensual terms: “Proudly Pakistani, proudly female, her answer to the face veil was to wear her beauty brazenly, her answer to stoning the adulterers was to cite Rumi’s ‘Let the lover be.’ She embraced life in all its splendour where I had come to embrace the afterlife in all its austerity.”</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Radical</em> does not acknowledge an affair, but credits Mullick with inspiring Nawaz to leave HT. His book notes that after his divorce from Rabia in 2008, Nawaz fought with his “best friend Fatima over her plans to return to Pakistan.” He wrote, “in utter frustration I found my fist slamming against my bedroom wall… I knew instantly that I had broken the bones in my hand. Fatima began trying to soothe the pain with cold water and ice, and kindly laid me down and put me to sleep.”</p><p dir="ltr">Rabia came to believe Nawaz was having an affair with Mullick in 2006, while he was still a member of HT, and informed family members she had discovered email correspondence between the two proving the relationship. Yet Rabia remained loyal to her husband and tried to get his brother and cousins to intervene to help resolve their problems.</p><p dir="ltr">At first, her family refused to believe her, and warned her not to spread what they felt was serious slander about Nawaz. Eventually, she showed them the emails. By then, however, it was too late to stage a family intervention.</p><p dir="ltr">“We didn’t believe her at first,” one family member said, regretfully. “We should have.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz separated from Rabia in 2007, shortly after she accused him of having an affair with Fatima Mullick. Within months of securing his divorce in 2008, according to several family sources, Nawaz openly admitted he and Mullick were engaged.</p><p dir="ltr">In response to further queries about these allegations, Mullick said, “I can’t comment on what Maajid has claimed or what his ex-wife believed.”</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9c9-a766-571f-7c207548a4f9"><strong>Breaking Hearts and Influencing People</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Following Nawaz’s divorce, a court ruled that he was forbidden contact with his son. To be enforced, “denial of access,” as it is called in Britain, requires a court-issued Contact Order, taking into account the child’s wishes, emotional and educational needs, any risk of harm to the child, and the capacity to meet the child’s needs during contact.</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="">Facebook post</a> in April, in response to a London Daily Mail expose of Nawaz’s visit to a strip club, he claimed his loss of access to his son was due to his quixotic battle against Islamism: “The article mentions my son from a previous marriage, the truth is I have been denied contact with him for three years now for very similar reasons. Challenging the Muslim status quo today is mercilessly punishing business.”</p><p dir="ltr">But Nawaz’s charge was baseless. The judge in the case was not Muslim, nor has anyone accused English family courts of serving as enforcement mechanisms of a supposed “Muslim status quo.”</p><p dir="ltr">A close family member insisted to us that Nawaz’s loss of access to his son was utterly unrelated to the bold stand against Islamism he describes in his book. “He would pick up Ammar [his son] from Rabia’s house, then drop him off at his family home with his brother and sister, before going upstairs and collapsing into bed,” the family member said. “After that he’d literally sleep for most of the day, because he’d not had any sleep the previous night. He used to come to town the night before and spend the whole night clubbing.”</p><p dir="ltr">A second family member told us Nawaz refused to pay maintenance support for his ex-wife and son, who live in a small council flat in Harlesden. The boy's favorite toys were purchased by Nawaz's brother, Kaashif, said the other member of his family.</p><p dir="ltr">In the midst of his family drama, Nawaz hired Mullick at the Quilliam Foundation as Pakistan project manager. She was eventually promoted to the position of executive director of the Quilliam-founded NGO subsidiary, Khudi Pakistan.</p><p dir="ltr">During Nawaz’s alleged affair with Fatima Mullick, he grew close to a senior U.S. government official, Farah Pandith, according to a London-based former consultant to the U.S. State Department. Pandith, who previously served as Middle East director of the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, was in 2007 appointed senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, where she worked on countering extremism in Europe’s Muslim communities.</p><p dir="ltr">At this time, Pandith was a key liaison with the U.S. embassy in London, involved in a series of high-level engagements, panels and roundtables, several of which she chaired alongside State Department officials. Pandith was later promoted to the post of U.S. special representative to Muslim communities in June 2009, reporting directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.</p><p dir="ltr">The State Department consultant who had worked closely with Pandith in facilitating the embassy’s programs in London claimed she had grown personally close to Nawaz, and the two were often seen together at conferences abroad. Pandith told the consultant that by this point, she had granted Nawaz access to her major contacts in Washington DC and New York, helping to arrange his and Ed Husain’s U.S. speaking tour, and facilitating high-level meetings.</p><p dir="ltr">But Nawaz suddenly vacated Pandith's life, the consultant said: “She’d told me that all of Maajid’s American contacts had come through her. Literally all of them. She’d felt used.” (Farah Pandith did not respond to our requests for comment.)</p><p dir="ltr">Among the contacts Nawaz made through Pandith was the Gen Next Foundation, a philanthropic network closely aligned with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, which helped set up Quilliam’s American branch. Since 2011, the Quilliam Foundation’s American offices have been <a href="">physically shared</a> with Gen Next. Gen Next executive members include senior Bush administration officials and Tea Party activists such as Adam Stryker, vice-president of Americans for Prosperity, the fundraising super PAC that functions as the main political arm of the billionaire Koch brothers.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8eb4056f-a9ca-19d5-1297-133ead8a6c48"><strong>Not His Brother’s Keeper</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s biography, <em>Radical</em>, was the centerpiece of his public relations strategy that would introduce him to Americans as the new face of Islamic reform. With the publication of the book in 2012, he zeroed in on retailing the story of his brother’s apparently imaginary rucksack bomb as the turning point of his radicalization.</p><p dir="ltr">The story Nawaz has recounted time and again has had a dramatic impact on his brother’s life, according to close family members. A senior IT consultant, Kaashif Nawaz has high-level security clearance and worked as a government contractor. But as a result of Nawaz’s story about Kaashif as Britain’s first aspiring Islamist suicide bomber, his career has suffered.</p><p dir="ltr">“Kaashif has been blocked from getting certain types of projects and contracts,” a member of the Nawaz family told us. “To pass clearance, you need to have your name run through a preliminary risk assessment based on cross-checking through open sources and public databases. Once you get through that, you get to the main stage of the security check using confidential databases drawing on sensitive information guarded by intelligence agencies. What’s really silly is that Kaashif isn’t getting through stage one now because he’s been linked with Maajid’s false suicide bombing story.”</p><p dir="ltr">Kaashif said his brother’s rucksack bomb tale was motivated by “revenge” for an email he had sent to Maajid, friends and family, blasting Ed Husain for his <a href="http://support">support</a> of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early stages of the revolt. In the email, Kaashif had pasted a copy of an <a href="">article</a> in NOW Lebanon by Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington DC, attacking Husain—then a U.S. director of Quilliam—and noting his admitted consultancy on behalf of Assad’s secret police.</p><p dir="ltr">In a fit of rage, Maajid Nawaz lashed out at his brother, threatening in an email to “destroy” Kaashif if he did not issue an apology for the email. The transcript of the exchange was obtained from Maajid’s cousin, Yasser Nabi, who had received a copy of the conversation from Kaashif in April 2012.</p><p dir="ltr">Maajid Nawaz wrote his brother: “It's very very easy for me to slander you to pieces in my book, thus ruin not just your personal but professional standing… If you think I’m being harsh now, thank your Islamist god that I’m not speaking against you in public, because trust me, if I was half as ignorant and idiotic as you, I could destroy your career in a second. And that’s not a threat, it’s to show you how stupid you’re being by writing such one sided crap… And my megaphone is far louder than your petty ignorant one-sided emails against my work….”</p><p dir="ltr">Kaashif Nawaz replied: “I have had nothing to do with HT or their ideology for longer than you. So stop shooting at straw men and threatening me….”</p><p dir="ltr">Maajid Nawaz fired back: “In some security circles, unattached Islamists like you (working in secure environments) are considered more of a threat than open HT members. Lucky for you, I actually have a sense of what it means to be a brother, don’t erode that. Instead of throwing one-worded crap at me like ‘binary’ decide what you want to do… At least my anger is directed at you in private and not against you in public. Now either clarify what I’ve asked you in wording I’m happy with (as you are legally and Islamically obliged to do) or face the consequences. Simple.”</p><p dir="ltr">Kaashif Nawaz: “What are the consequences?”</p><p dir="ltr">Maajid Nawaz: “... You work out the consequences, or you’ll see them for yourself. Decide what you want to do.”</p><p dir="ltr">Maajid then attempted to dictate the wording of an apology he wanted Kaashif to write, before warning: “If you slander your brother, it has consequences. And that’s the wording I insist on, or you’ll see what happens.”</p><p dir="ltr">Since Maajid Nawaz has released his claims about his brother in his book, the two have broken off contact. Before that, the brothers had been in touch regularly.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet in a <a href="">Facebook post</a> wishing his brother happy birthday in July 2015, Nawaz made the curious claim that his brother and cousins “refuse to see” him because they “all wholeheartedly disagree with my views now.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz had, in reality, maintained regular contact with them long after departing from HT and founding Quilliam.</p><p dir="ltr">“The rucksack story in Maajid’s book was what broke things off,” a family member closely related to Nawaz told us. “Otherwise Kaashif and Maajid had kept in touch with each other.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ideological issues had little, if anything, to do with the fractures that emerged in the Nawaz family in the years since Maajid Nawaz’s departure from HT. Nawaz would, for instance, frequently take his cousins out clubbing and drinking, without causing his more devout brother to cut off contact. Half his family, including his sister, are non-devout Muslims.</p><p dir="ltr">“Kaashif is a practicing Muslim, but he didn’t break off with Maajid because of his religious or ideological views, or because Maajid used to drink,” said Nawaz’s relative. “It was just because Maajid was so self-serving he had no problem lying about his brother to sex up his life story.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the comments on Nawaz’s Facebook birthday post about his brother, one of Maajid Nawaz’s cousins, Faisal Saleemi, <a href=";comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">rebuked</a> Nawaz: “The fact is, you are fully aware that our lack of contact with you has little to do with your views per se. And I think I speak for your brother and the other cousin in the photo, when I say this… You may recall at another cousin’s wedding a few years ago, we had a civil and social chat, despite disagreeing with your ideas. And I even got my son to give you salaam—if I had ostracised you because of your views, then why would I have done this? This was shortly before your book was released.”</p><p dir="ltr">Saleemi blamed the "contents” of Nawaz’s book as the main trigger for ceasing contact: “It took something major to create the circumstances that led to it. The fact that you are looking to push the idea of you being the victim due to just a difference of opinion, further goes to prove our point!”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz responded: “Can we at least be honest here and accept that we all joined Hizb ut-Tahrir together?”</p><p dir="ltr">But in the same thread, Nawaz’s claim was contradicted by several of his own avowedly secular family members, his cousin Naz Nabi and his sister, Sorraiya Yasmin Nawaz, who posted: “He [Kaashif] was never an actual member of HT (unlike Maajid), simply studied with them and was involved during that period of his life. He has not had anything to do with them for years… He also stopped any involvement before Maajid and encouraged them to do the same.”</p><p dir="ltr">“I’m not an attached or ‘unattached Islamist,’” Kaashif Nawaz said.</p><p dir="ltr">This statement did not prevent Maajid Nawaz from publicly claiming the opposite. In another <a href=";reply_comment_id=890240497709883&amp;comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R9%22%7D">Facebook comment</a>, one follower asked Maajid about his brother. “Is he still HuT?” they asked. Nawaz replied, “yes, he’s fully pro-Islamism.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>‘I Was Using Them, They Were Using Me’</strong></p><p dir="ltr">By 2010, Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation was in a state of crisis, bleeding funds and refusing to provide journalists with an annual report that detailed its budget. “There is only one copy and it’s gone missing,” a Quilliam spokesperson <a href="">told the Guardian</a> at the time.</p><p dir="ltr">In September of that year, Quilliam formally <a href="">announced</a> that Nawaz’s longtime friend and former HT comrade, Ed Husain, would move to the U.S. to join the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC as a senior fellow. Nawaz replaced him as executive director. As part of that shift, Husain became a U.S. director of Quilliam’s U.S.-based nonprofit in 2011, which shared an office with the Koch brothers-affiliated Gen Next.</p><p dir="ltr">Quilliam’s shift to the U.S. was directly linked with the think-tank losing the confidence of the British government. Despite Quilliam’s continued influence in Whitehall, including on Prime Minister David Cameron’s national security policies, government officials increasingly recognized that Quilliam had no real rapport with the Muslim communities they were supposed to be working with in countering extremism. By mid-2011, Cameron’s government decided to end all funding for Nawaz’s outfit.</p><p dir="ltr">According to documents we have acquired (<a href="">here</a> and <a href="">here</a>), Nawaz registered a private consulting firm on June 15, 2011 in Britain. Without any apparent irony, the company was named Propagandaworks Limited. But the venture never materialized, and its status is now listed as “dissolved.”</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, after being cut off by the British government, Nawaz moved ahead with a strategy to rehabilitate his image and the ailing organization he now led. His plan hinged heavily on promoting his role in supposedly de-radicalizing Tommy Robinson, the longtime firebrand leader of the white supremacist, anti-Muslim English Defense League. Again, there was a massive gulf between the story Nawaz told the public and the apparent reality.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-02-03_at_8.00.11_pm.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Maajid Nawaz and former English Defense League leader Tommy Robinson, who was taking payments under the table from Nawaz's Quilliam Foundation</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz announced Robinson’s supposed departure from right-wing extremism at a heavily publicized October 2013 London press conference. Seated between Robinson and a fellow EDL leader, Kevin Carroll, Nawaz opened by detailing his own de-radicalization, repeating some of the dubious and discredited claims featured in his autobiography: “My own departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir happened when Amnesty International adopted me as a prisoner of conscience.”</p><p dir="ltr">He then declared, “I would be a very bad man if I did not extend the chance to [Robinson] that Amnesty extended to me.“</p><p dir="ltr">Finally, Nawaz stated in a tone brimming with confidence, “Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll have made it very clear to me: They do not hate Muslims.”</p><p dir="ltr">Some of the British press was already skeptical of Nawaz’s operations. The Guardian headline of his press conference with Robinson read: “Tommy Robinson link with Quilliam Foundation <a href="">raises questions</a>." Nawaz was described as “smooth and slick,” and the newspaper called his latest move “a high-stakes gamble that has raised serious questions about the motivations of an organisation that has played a particularly controversial role. If the latest accounts—for the financial year up to March 2012—filed by the Quilliam Foundation are anything to go by, the high-profile injection of publicity also comes at a time when it may be facing challenging financial circumstances.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the introduction to Quilliam’s <a href="">2012-2013 Progress Report</a>, board member Iqbal Wahhab described one of the foundation’s most notable achievement as “convincing the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson of the hugely negative impact he has had in building hate against Muslims, often violently so.” The report showered praise on his “rehabilitation to a more respectful position of pluralism....”               </p><p dir="ltr">Yet all along, Robinson was planning to rebrand his anti-Muslim organizing under the banner of a new organization. And this was not even a secret. Professional Islamophobic extremists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer revealed Robinson’s plans in a <a href="">blog post</a>, writing at the time, “Tommy is planning to start a new organization that is as free from Quilliam as it is from the EDL, and in that... we wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly support him.”</p><p dir="ltr">While conveniently ignoring the obvious warning signs, Quilliam was secretly paying Robinson 2000 pounds a months in a deal arranged so the group could take credit for his supposed deradicalization. In his autobiography published this year, <em>Enemy of the State</em>, Robinson <a href="">revealed</a> that Quilliam supported him after he was jailed for mortgage fraud, writing that it covered his “wife's rent and help with basic bills, in return Tommy Robinson would be their poster boy."</p><p dir="ltr">"I was using them, they were using me, but the bottom line from what I witnessed was that nothing truly productive was going to come out of it,” the anti-Muslim ringleader reflected.</p><p dir="ltr">Robinson poured contempt on his former patron, Nawaz, describing him as a “government stooge” heading a group “with little influence” on Muslims.</p><p dir="ltr">“The evidence of my eyes was that they were an organization that was useful for the government to throw money at,” Robinson said of Quilliam. “It helped the politicians and establishment feel good about themselves and it fed the idea, the illusion, that they were making some kind of difference. I didn't see it, if they were."</p><p dir="ltr">In 2014, documents disclosed through a Freedom of Information Request <a href="">revealed</a> that Nawaz unsuccessfully pleaded for government funding from the British Minister for Faith specifically to continue under-the-table payments to Robinson—“a direct contribution,” Nawaz wrote.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite his fundraising troubles, Nawaz modeled for a September 2014 Sunday Times <a href="">fashion spread</a> that cast him as one of “five men at the top of their game.” He sported a colorful ensemble that included Dunhill corduroy trousers (priced at 400 pounds) and a Paul Smith black velvet blazer (675 pounds). “My day can include being in the Newsnight studio or with friends or at Downing Street, so dressing is tricky,” Nawaz was quoted. “My clothes have to be versatile and smart.”</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/screen_shot_2016-02-03_at_8.02.49_pm.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr">A year later, Nawaz’s pet reclamation project to transform the racist thug Tommy Robinson into a model example of liberal tolerance completely backfired.  </p><p dir="ltr">The veteran hooligan announced he was the leader of a new anti-Muslim gang called Pegida UK, named after the German anti-Muslim far-right group. The organization continued the EDL’s old crusades against mosque construction and Muslim immigration. Two days after declaring he would organize a mass march across Europe against Islam, Robinson was <a href="">arrested</a> on assault charges.</p><p dir="ltr">By now, Nawaz was mired in damage control—not over the Robinson fiasco, but over yet another bungled attempt to grab headlines.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Sliding Down the Polls</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In the runup to the UK’s 2015 General Elections, Nawaz joined the Liberal Democrat Party, which at that time shared power as part of Cameron’s Tory-led coalition government. He was to stand as a prospective parliamentary candidate in the 2015 elections for the North London constituency, Hampstead and Kilburn.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s entry into the LibDems was, however, a last resort. Both a longstanding Labour member of parliament (MP) and a former Conservative minister confirmed to us that Nawaz had first approached their parties with the intention to stand as a parliamentary candidate.</p><p dir="ltr">The Labour MP said that Tony Blair initially backed the idea, but it encountered opposition especially from Muslim Labour MPs, who believed the untrustworthy Nawaz would be a “liability” for the party.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the former Tory minister, after the Labour Party rebuffed Nawaz he came to the Conservatives, hoping to springboard his political ambition off his connections with David Cameron, who liked his ideas. Senior Tory figures, also mistrusting him, resisted Nawaz’s overture.</p><p dir="ltr">Rejected by the two major parties, Nawaz joined the Liberal Democrat Party with the support of former party leader Paddy Ashdown, who had been an advisor to Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation during its launch phase in 2008.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz’s campaign for a seat in the Parliament was an unmitigated disaster. Shortly before the election, the <a href="">Daily Mail</a>, a Tory tabloid, splashed a front-page story showcasing Nawaz’s visit to a strip club in East London, where he cavorted in a private room with a lap dancer, as his “Drunken Night of Temptation.” The paper reported that Nawaz “had been pestering the girl all night,” was “repeatedly trying to make contact,” and “bouncers threatened to throw him out several times.” The club owner, Abdul Malik, was quoted: “He’s always talking about religion on TV and I thought, what a hypocrite.” “He claimed ‘arrogant’ Nawaz acts like a ‘spokesman for Islam’—but visited the club during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.” Photos of Nawaz pawing the lap dancer accompanied the article.<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Although Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg, then Deputy Prime Minister, stood by Nawaz, the story was a factor in Nawaz’s spectacular failure at the polls. Of the three candidates, he finished last with a paltry 3,039 votes compared to the 23,977 votes for the victor, newly elected Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, a Muslim feminist, and 22,839 for the Conservative candidate.</p><p dir="ltr">But there was more to the trainwreck of Nawaz’s political campaign than the Daily Mail story. After his loss, a senior political official in the Liberal Democrat party accused Nawaz of exploiting his campaign entirely for his personal publicity purposes.</p><p dir="ltr">“The problem with Maajid was that he saw the political campaign as a vehicle to promote his credentials as a counter-extremist, rather than as a politician,” the LibDem official said. “He offered very little in the way of anything tangible for British voters. At speech after speech, he’d focus on his personal story as a reformist. And then as the elections neared, Maajid became increasingly distant from the party. He simply didn’t campaign. It was very disappointing.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Liberal Democrats invested large sums of money in Nawaz’s campaign in the hopes that he stood a strong chance. But it soon became clear that rather than running a serious campaign for his seat, he was engaged in provocative stunts like <a href="">posting cartoons</a> of Muhammad on social media. His antics became so problematic that several months before the election, the party pulled the plug on his campaign.</p><p dir="ltr">“Months before the elections, we knew he had no chance of winning,” said the veteran Liberal Democrat politician. “So we pulled the money out.”</p><p dir="ltr">After the strip club scandal, many LibDem MPs and officials demanded Nawaz to be suspended from the party. Even Nick Clegg was fed up. But it was too late to take his name off the ballot.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the LibDem official: “Contrary to public perceptions, Nick privately disliked Maajid. He disagreed with his ideas about counter extremism, tolerating him largely under pressure from Paddy Ashdown, who still holds significant influence in the party. Paddy was the main force responsible for Nawaz joining the party in the first place. After the strip club revelations, Nick told me that if he could have suspended Maajid he would have, especially as he wasn’t really campaigning properly.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz blamed the Daily Mail’s expose on “a pre-planned regressive-Muslim campaign.”</p><p dir="ltr">“So what could possibly explain all this?” he wrote on his <a href="">Facebook page</a>. “Followers of my counter-extremism work will be aware that for years liberal Muslim voices like mine have been subjected to sustained personal attack....”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz defended his hijinks as “sex-positive” feminism, claiming, “My feminism, as intended by me, extends to empowering women to make legal choices, not to judge the legal choices they make.”</p><p dir="ltr">Ironically, Nawaz had <a href="">campaigned on a proposal</a> to impose criminal punishments on women who wear the face veil in public places such as schools, banks and airports. “Legally speaking,” Nawaz wrote, “there is no basis for any exception to be made, but the sad fact is exceptions are being made because we have become too spineless to do anything about it.” (He <a href="">dedicated</a> the proposed ban to his “Muslim mother.”) Nawaz explained that his strip club adventure was just a “stag night” to celebrate his impending wedding to his new wife, the American artist and writer Rachel Maggart.</p><p dir="ltr">Soon after the scandal erupted, Nawaz <a href="">published</a> a glamorous photo of Maggart on Twitter. He captioned the photo, "Don't ya wish your wifey. was. hot. like. mine? .... Don't ya? ... Don't ya?</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en" xml:lang="en">"Don't ya wish your wifey. was. hot. like. mine? .... Don't ya? ... Don't ya?" <a href="">@RachelMaggart</a> x <a href=""></a></p>— maajid nawaz (@MaajidNawaz) <a href="">April 13, 2015</a></blockquote><script async="" src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>"</p><p> </p><p><strong>From One Extreme to Another</strong></p><p>More than a few guests at the April 2014 wedding of Maajid Nawaz and Rachel Maggart noticed that something was terribly amiss. According to invitees, the program listed Nawaz’s best man as Ed Husain, his former HT comrade, longtime friend and Quilliam co-founder. But Husain was nowhere to be found when it was his turn to deliver a toast. He had stayed home, leaving many to wonder if he and Nawaz had finally fallen out. (Husain refused our requests to comment for this article.)</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz appeared unfazed, delivering a gracious tribute to one of his <a href="">newest friends</a>, the anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Standing before the assembled guests, he toasted Hirsi Ali for introducing him to his new wife.</p><p dir="ltr">Like Nawaz, Hirsi Ali based her celebrity and political authority on her tale of transformation from radical Islamist to liberal atheist. And like Nawaz, Hirsi Ali’s story was filled with fabrications and half-truths. After being <a href="">exposed</a> by a Dutch television network for lying about her childhood, her family and her immigration status while serving as a member of the country’s right-wing government, Hirsi Ali fled to the U.S., where she basked in positive publicity and generous patronage. With his credibility on the wane in the UK, Nawaz seemed determined to follow her example.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz and Hirsi Ali first met at a <a href="">2010 debate</a> hosted by Intelligence Squared, a nationally televised debating forum sponsored by the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation. They were on opposite sides of the debate question, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Nawaz was still intent on portraying himself as a liberal Muslim, while Hirsi Ali had called for Islam to be “defeated.” “Once it’s defeated,” she said in 2007, “it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now… There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”</p><p dir="ltr">Her debating partner, Douglas Murray, then-director of the London based Center for Social Cohesion and author of <em>Neoconservatism: Why We Need It</em>, was a right-wing anti-immigrant activist who has <a href="">fretted</a> that “white British people” are “losing their country” to dark-skinned immigrants. In a more recent column, he <a href="">lamented</a> “the startling rise in Muslim infants.” He has also <a href="">invited</a> readers to post demeaning “Irish jokes” on his blog, resulting in “a flood of crass and offensive contributions,” according to the Irish Independent newspaper.</p><p dir="ltr">Prior to the debate, audience members were asked to register their opinion of the question. A majority stated their support for the statement that Islam was a religion of peace. By the end of the debate, however, the crowd had shifted decisively in the other direction, with nearly all undecided voters rejecting the statement.</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz appeared overwhelmed by the arguments put forward by Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray. His attempts to place Islamic scripture in historical and theological context fell on deaf ears while his opponents electrified the crowd with unequivocal arguments casting the whole of Islam as poisoned. The humiliating defeat seemed to have a powerful impact on him.</p><p dir="ltr">The debate was pivotal in another way for Nawaz. It was there he met his future wife, Rachel Maggart, a writer and artist from a wealthy family in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to a former friend of Nawaz, Maggart was an ardent fan of Hirsi Ali. As Nawaz antagonized friends and family alike, Maggart would offer crucial support, helping Nawaz develop his latest new identity and regain the sense of mission he had lost back in the UK.</p><p dir="ltr">By the start of 2015, Nawaz appeared on British television <a href="">debating alongside</a> Murray against a British Muslim critic of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Following the ISIS-inspired terror attacks in Paris later in the year, the two were back on camera together, with Murray complimenting Nawaz’s points throughout a <a href="">televised panel</a>. Having failed to beat Murray, Nawaz now joined him.</p><p dir="ltr">With his political dreams shattered and the British government no longer serving as his source of funding, Nawaz searched for a new source of money. He found it in the U.S., where neoconservative foundations and think tanks treated him like a celebrity. His embarrassing scandals and fundraising imbroglios in London were overlooked in New York and Washington.</p><p dir="ltr">As he followed the money, Nawaz drifted further into the reaches of the neoconservative infrastructure. He was hailed by the neoconservative <a href="">Gatestone Institute</a>, whose senior fellows are a gallery of Islamophobes from John Bolton, George W. Bush’s United Nations ambassador, to Douglas Murray. Gatestone issued a <a href="">report</a> claiming Nawaz had been subjected to “death threats” in Britain and asserted that these “add to a <a href="">growing number of cases</a> in which Islamists are using intimidation tactics to restrict the free speech rights of fellow Muslims in Europe.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Bradley Foundation, one of the right-wing organizations identified by the Center for American Progress as a <a href="">top sponsor</a> of America’s burgeoning Islamophobia industry, gave Nawaz’s Quilliam Foundation $75,000. (See a <a href="">PDF</a> of Bradley’s 2013 990 form.)</p><p dir="ltr">Recently, Nawaz joined forces with Sam Harris, the self-styled “new atheist” who has <a href="">declared</a>, “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with ‘terrorism.’ We are at war with Islam.” An avid supporter of torturing Muslim terror suspects and <a href="">racially profiling</a> “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” Harris is also a New Age transcendental <a href="">meditation enthusiast</a> who has <a href="">suggested</a> that babbling infants might be speaking ancient languages. As Nawaz embraced the fervently anti-Muslim movement of self-proclaimed new atheists, he received a <a href="">$20,000 donation</a> from Harris to Quilliam in 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, Harris and Nawaz published <em>Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue</em>, a book framed as a high-minded demonstration of “how two people with very different views can find common ground.” Hirsi Ali offered <a href="">effusive praise</a>: “We must all read it and follow in [Harris and Nawaz’s] footsteps.”</p><p dir="ltr">When Harris and Nawaz took their show on the road, they scrapped any pretense of debate and acted as a tag team. Their most <a href="">high-profile event</a> occurred last September at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.</p><p dir="ltr">After opening the discussion by emphasizing the need to “destroy intellectually” what he saw as the troubling tenets of Islam, Harris offered a hypothetical scenario to explain the religion’s “uniquely problematic” tenets. “If I take out a pen and draw a stick figure of Muhammad, it’s not implausible to think that the rest of my life will be this deranged attempt not to be killed by a religious maniac who thinks I have crossed a line there. There’s only one religion on the planet today that is doing that to people, and this is not based on U.S. foreign policy, it’s not based on anything but specific religious ideas.”</p><p dir="ltr">Nawaz never challenged Harris. Instead, he unleashed a tirade against non-Muslims who had criticized his partnership with Harris. Tossing back the language of left-wing campus identity politics, Nawaz accused his “non-Muslim, white, middle-class American male” critics of “colonial patronage; a reverse form of racism,” indignantly instructing them to “check their privilege.”</p><p dir="ltr">“The day that you have had to dodge neo-Nazi knife attacks on the streets of the day you get to talk to me about Islamophobia,” Nawaz declared, portraying the affluent seaside area where he was raised as a hardscrabble ghetto besieged by violent thugs. Then he pointed to Hirsi Ali, now a Belfer Center fellow, seated in the front row of the audience, to vindicate her of any and all charges of Islamophobia. Next, to rebut detractors of Harris, Nawaz offered an anecdote about an encounter earlier that day in the gym:  </p><p dir="ltr">“I’m in the middle of training and Sam pulls his headphones out and says, ‘You can tell them that I’m listening to [Pakistani Sufi devotional singer] Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan…’ The reason I mention that is, here’s Sam Harris, who’s often accused of anti-Muslim bigotry... listening to Sufi music. That’s because he understands the difference between scrutinizing an idea and harboring anti-Muslim bigotry as a person. And if he did not understand that idea he would not be listening to one of the great Sufi mystics and musicians that Pakistan ever had.”</p><p dir="ltr">In his <a href="">recent interview</a> with Australia’s News 7, Nawaz compared his battles against Islam—not extreme Islamism, not radical Islam, not jihadism, but Islam—to noble fights against the scourges of racism and sexism. “You don’t need to be black to challenge racism, you don’t need to be gay to challenge homophobia,” he said, “and you don’t need to be a Muslim to challenge Islam.”</p><p dir="ltr">The metamorphosis of Maajid Nawaz continues to unfold. Whatever his latest identity, he demands that his ever-changing story be taken at face value. He presents himself as one of the world’s leading experts in understanding the radicalization of Muslims in Western societies because of his own hard-wrought experience. But upon closer and more objective examination, Nawaz's career appears to be more a case study in public relations. His family and former friends are left to wonder who he will be next, and how he will sell it.    </p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:41:00 -0800 Nafeez Ahmed, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1050120 at Grayzone Project Grayzone Project islam reform terror Grayzone fiction fact investigation Is France Building an Apartheid State? <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Arabs and Muslims in France have found themselves in a permanent state of exclusion enforced by a regime of increasingly brutal repression. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-12-08_at_2.16.18_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Ed. note: Watch the documentary at the bottom of the article.</em></p><p>In our documentary released earlier this year, <em>Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie</em>, Max Blumenthal and I surveyed the landscape of French society in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, interviewing representatives of French Muslim and Jewish communities, political activists, academics and average French citizens. The accounts we recorded told of long-exacerbating pressures on inter-communal relations that are rapidly approaching a state of low-level civil conflict. The minority citizens we spoke with were seething under a system that has given rise to daily encounters with discrimination and systematic exclusion from the public space.</p><p>In turn, French reality has been punctuated by seemingly random, spectacularly gruesome acts of violence carried out by individuals who come from the most excluded sections of French society. They are at once native-born citizens of France and the country’s ultimate outsiders. The main perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the atrocities this November were not a foreign presence which has disturbed a peaceful status quo in French society, but the unwanted, outcasted byproducts of the French Republic and its imperial legacy in the Middle East.</p><p>Whether or not we are willing to describe the situation in impoverished French <em>banlieues</em> (suburbs) as outright apartheid, as Prime Minister <a href="">Manuel Valls</a> did this year, the toxic combination of militaristic government policies abroad and draconian, discriminatory policies at home have unleashed an authoritarian mood among the general public. For French Muslims and other minorities, the situation increasingly resembles the plight blacks faced in apartheid South Africa and even that of the Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. Though French minorities confront only a shadow of the disproportionate violence that Israel has visited upon Palestinians, they have found themselves in a permanent state of exclusion enforced by a regime of increasingly brutal repression.</p><p>The racism that has always simmered just above the surface of mainstream French society has reached historic highs. In the month following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the Collective Against Islamophobia <a href="">measured</a> a 70% rise in Islamophobic incidents, 80% of which were directed against Muslim women usually targeted because they wore hijab. This includes Islamophobic language, verbal and physical assaults and property damage. Since the terrorist attacks of November 13, mosques, halal butchers, kebab restaurants and town halls have been <a href="">attacked</a>.</p><p>The scale of this racist tidal wave on Muslims can be gleaned from a statement made by a Parisian policeman, who <a href="">said</a> he is "overwhelmed with false accusations" made by civilians toward people perceived as Muslim. This goes hand in hand with the systemic use of <a href="">racial profiling</a> by France's security forces. This populist assault on France’s Muslim community has been incited by high-level Islamophobia from the country’s leadership, whose excesses include laws <a href=";xtcr=7">banning</a> the Islamic veil, <a href="">shuttering mosques</a>, <a href="">imposing state-friendly</a>, puppet-like religious leadership, <a href="">removing</a> non-halal options for Muslim school children, and the <a href="">anti-immigrant bile</a> spewed by members of the far-right National Front and former President Nicholas Sarkozy's center-right "<a href="">Republican" Party</a>.</p><p>How does this situation mirror apartheid, or the Israeli regime of ethnic separation known as hafrada, and whose benefit does this state of affairs serve? Undoubtedly, France’s political class has been careful to avoid canonizing an overt ideology of ethno-supremacy, and yet the effects of state actions have clearly led to the same result. In our documentary, Houria Bouteldja, a founder of the leftist minority party known as the Indigenous Peoples of the Republic, claimed it was “the figure of the Christian, white, European person” who the state privileges with power and wealth in the society, who is legally positioned above “the black, the Arab, the Muslim and the Roma” person. It isn't a visible form of apartheid, but a regime of separation which is enacted through systemic, naturalized forms of domination and violence. As her fellow party leader Youssouf Boussouma described to us how the French authorities banned demonstrations against Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, then meted out harsh punishments to young Arab males who took to the streets, “this government behaves toward certain sections of its populations as if they really were citizens of an occupied country.”</p><p>The reality Bouteldja and Boussouma painted for us reflected the consequences of a long-term, generational process of exclusion and inequality that stemmed directly from the history of French colonialism in Africa and the Middle East, the treatment of French colonialists to the indigenous populations which it ruled over, and the actions of the French army in those colonies.</p><p>Ethnic separation is also maintained through the urban environment, where large numbers of Arab and African communities languish in a spiral of poverty, relegated to second-class citizenship and physically separated through deliberate planning. Ethnic divisions are most notable in Paris, where successive waves of immigration from France's African and Middle Eastern colonies were settled in underfunded, distant suburbs. Meanwhile, gentrification is pushing the remaining minority communities out of the socially engineered Parisian city center, relegating them to the immiseration and despair of the<em>banlieues</em>. The <em>périphérique</em>, the ring road encircling the 20 districts of Paris and <a href="">elegantly buried underground</a> in the genteel neighbourhoods of the West and South, functions as a <a href="">concrete roadblock</a> cutting off access to and from the lower-class neighbourhoods of Saint-Ouen, Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers and Montreuil to the North and East. What this leads to is a growing cultural and ethnic homogenization of the center, through turfing out the different Others to the periphery. As Boussouma, the minority rights activist, remarked, “We have the feeling that... this isn't the same country, that these aren't the same norms, not the same references, that [we] live in a sort of sub-humanity.”</p><p>Following the atrocities of November 13, President François Hollande launched a state of emergency across France, which has since been extended for the next three months. The emergency regulations represent a legal no-man’s land between peacetime common law and wartime state of siege that has allowed the French state to deploy a war without needing to call it one. This is a war of low intensity, whose main tools are legal and judicial rather than through physical offensives. The state of emergency <a href="">allows local officials to</a> impose curfews, limit the freedom of movement and enter residences in certain areas, forbid individuals from entering certain zones and place them under house arrest in arbitrary fashion. French citizens who remember the Vichy regime have <a href="">made the connection</a> between the expanded policy of house arrests, and the creation of concentration camps by the Vichy regime, who used the same expression of 'house arrest' to justify their draconian clampdowns. The state of emergency was also used during the Algerian war to imprison thousands of suspected nationalist sympathisers.</p><p>What sort of result can we expect when the widespread ethnic profiling by French security forces is armed with a state of emergency? At the very moment when the French army is beefing up its military presence in Syria, it is impossible to demonstrate against these military operations, just as it was illegal to gather in large crowds for the COP 21 climate change talks recently held in Paris. Indeed, 26 environmental activists have been <a href="">placed under house arrest</a>, preventing them from protesting against the climate talks.</p><p>The new rules have been applied most firmly against the minority banlieue dwellers who bear the figure of the "terrorist." The day after the November 13 attacks, police stormed through the impoverished St. Denis neighborhood where two of the assailants lived, stopping and frisking young Arab men in droves, and raiding homes indiscriminately. By early December, the authorities had <a href="">closed</a> at least three mosques, and arrested hundreds after more than 2,200 raids carried out under the premise of anti-terrorism. Laurent Wauqiuez, the number-three figure in Nicolas Sarkozy’s Republican Party, has even <a href="">suggested</a> placing French citizens under terror investigations in internment camps.</p><p>While dynamics in French society have come to resemble those in Israel-Palestine, with deep fractures along ethnic lines, suppression of civil liberties and racist incitement, the Israel-Palestine crisis has been simultaneously imported back into French society. The French government entertains an obsequious relationship toward the State of Israel, having <a href="">invited</a> Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to Paris following the attacks in January while slavishly <a href="">supporting</a> his successive assaults on Gaza. France's security and intelligence forces <a href="">cooperate closely</a> with their Israeli counterparts; the municipality of Paris even stoked controversy earlier this year by <a href="">hosting</a> the city of Tel Aviv for a one day event at the Paris Plage artificial beach, whitewashing the murder of children on the beaches of Gaza one year earlier. At the recent COP 21 climate summit, Parisian authorities <a href="">deployed</a> a surveillance balloon made by Israel and first tested on occupied Palestinians by the Israeli army.</p><p>France can also be considered as contiguous territory on the war on Palestine. The French government is assisting Israel’s strategic imperatives by acting as the only country in the world that has criminalized the boycott of the State of Israel. A <a href="">memorandum</a> issued in 2010 by then-Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie demanded legal actions against BDS activists on the specious grounds that their political activities represented a form of anti-Semitic hate speech. In recent weeks dozens of activists of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement have been taken to court under the so-called Lellouche law. This month, four more activists will <a href=";view=article&amp;id=3900%3A2015-11-19-15-56-06&amp;catid=49%3Aactualites&amp;lang=fr">stand trial</a> in Toulouse for distributing pro-boycott material.</p><p>Omar Slaouti, a BDS activist who was summoned to trial under the Alliot-Marie directive, hears disturbing echoes of Israeli rhetoric in French political discourse. “The political language used to justify Western wars of foreign intervention is the same used by Israel to justify its occupation of Palestine,” Slaouti said, “and the same discourse wielded by the French political and security class towards the French underclasses.”</p><p>During a demonstration last year in protest of Israel’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip, the extremist Jewish Defense League <a href="">instigated a scuffle</a> with anti-war protesters, throwing projectiles at the demonstrators before fleeing for safety behind line of riot police. The French government reflexively took the side of JDL and its supporters, criminalizing all further demonstrations in support of Palestine. This suppression of Palestinian solidarity has been supplemented by attacks on anti-Zionist Jewish organisations, such as the the Union of French Jews for Peace (UJFP) and <a href="">Juives et juifs révolutionnaires</a> (Revolutionary Jews) by the JDL.</p><p>A French-Israeli hacker named Ulcan (real name Gregory Chelli) has taken refuge in Israeli-controlled territory, where he terrorizes activists from the leftist UJFP. A typical <a href="">Ulcan prank</a> caused riot police to rush to the home of UJFP president Jean Guy Greilsamer to respond to a false claim that Greilsamer had killed his entire family and would open fire on any police who approached his home. Ulcan is a former member of the JDL, which has appealed to French police for direct security coordinations, particularly in heavily Jewish areas like Sarcelles that also contain large Muslim and immigrant populations. A Jewish community leader from Sarcelles, David Haik, told us that this collaboration is already taking place below the radar.</p><p>“When the army is called in to protect some French citizens against others,” Haik remarked, “it's the beginning of a civil war.”</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p><em>Kahina Rabahi assisted in the reporting of this article.</em></p> Tue, 08 Dec 2015 10:57:00 -0800 James Kleinfeld, Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1047010 at World World paris Israel How Western Militarists Are Playing Into the Hands of ISIS <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As ISIS calls to destroy the &quot;grayzone&quot; where co-existence thrives, politicians and pundits are giving them just what they want</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_237997351.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">The Islamic extremists who killed over 125 Parisians on November 14 were heartless murderers, but they were also political operators implementing a carefully conceived strategy. A February 2015 article in <em>Dabiq</em>, the official magazine of ISIS, offers a clear window into their agenda. Published in the immediate aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the <a href="" target="_blank">essay</a> was titled, "The Extinction of the Grayzone."</p><p dir="ltr">"The presence of the Khilafa [Islamic Caliphate] magnifies the political, social, economic, and emotional impact of any operation carried out by the mujahadin [freedom fighters] against the enraged crusaders,” <em>Dabiq</em> stated. “This magnified impact compels the crusaders to actively destroy the grayzone themselves, the zone in which many of the hypocrites and deviant innovators living in the West are hiding…."</p><p dir="ltr">Here, ISIS revealed its intention to unravel the fabric of Western civil society — what it calls the "grayzone” — by provoking governments into carrying out disproportionate military reprisals and adopting draconian security measures.</p><p>Once repression and Islamophobia in Western societies reaches sufficiently unbearable levels, the author wrote, “The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize and adopt the kufri [infidel] religion propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the kuffar [infidels] without hardship, or they perform hijrah [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.”</p><p>In the mind of the <em>Dabiq</em> author, who appeared to be among the ideological vanguard of ISIS, the West’s descent into full-blown fascism would force Muslim immigrants to flee for the sanctuary provided by the Islamic State.</p><p dir="ltr">To bring this scenario to fruition, IS has aimed to cultivate favorable terrain for the Western political elements most likely to incite against Muslims, campaign for repressive surveillance laws, and ultimately play out an apocalyptic clash of civilizations. Indeed, IS is doing everything in its power to propel the militarists also seeking to extinguish the grayzone.</p><p dir="ltr">The reactions to the Paris attacks by influential political actors across the West suggest that ISIS may have gotten exactly the result it wants. Vowing a “pitiless war,” French President Francois Hollande ordered a series of airstrikes around the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa. To convince himself that another bombing run over the smoldering ruins of Syria would do anything to improve France’s security, Hollande clearly ignored the final words of one of the gunmen who massacred theatergoers in Paris: “Hollande should not have intervened in Syria!” But with mainstream French conservatives like Laurent Qauquiez calling for placing thousands of terror suspects in an <a href="" target="_blank">internment camp</a>, Hollande may have had no political space to act rationally.</p><p dir="ltr">Suggesting the surveillance laws rammed through parliament this year were not sweeping enough, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve <a href="" target="_blank">proposed</a> the dissolution of French mosques where “hate is preached.” As Poland abruptly <a href="" target="_blank">pulled out</a> of the EU refugee resettlement plan, neo-fascists Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen called for ending all immigration to Europe.</p><p dir="ltr">In the U.S., where Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder <a href="" target="_blank">suddenly rescinded</a> plans to take in Syrian refugees, right-wing pundits <a href="" target="_blank">exploited</a> the Paris attacks to lash out at everyone from gun control advocates to college students demonstrating for racial justice. Major pro-Israel <a href="" target="_blank">lobbying organizations</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">news outlets</a> seized the opportunity to link the massacre in Paris to Palestine solidarity activism, even though no such connection exists.</p><p dir="ltr">Among the most disturbing reactions to the attacks is neoconservative writer David Frum's <a href="" target="_blank">call</a> to “repatriate the Middle Eastern mass migration of the last two years…because unemployed and alienated 2nd generation populations are so susceptible to radicalization and violence.” </p><p dir="ltr">With his demand for the expulsion of millions of Muslims from Europe back to the moonscape of Syria, Frum was unwittingly agitating for the same goal ISIS outlined in <em>Dabiq</em> — “they will perform hijrah to the Islamic State.”</p><p dir="ltr">Frum has been much more than a passive observer of the rise of the Islamic State. As a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, he crafted the notorious “Axis of Evil” phrase Bush deployed in his 2002 State of the Union address to link Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Al Qaeda. A year later, America invaded Iraq on pretenses fabricated by Frum and his neoconservative fellow travelers, transforming a formerly stable Arab state into a sectarian meat grinder and setting the stage for the rise of ISIS.</p><p dir="ltr">After leaving the Bush administration, Frum published <a href="" target="_blank">An End To Evil</a> with Richard Perle, the neoconservative former Pentagon official who pushed for regime change in Iraq. The book reads like a mirror inverse of <em>Dabiq</em>, arguing for the application of total violence to purge the world of evil. Frum and Perle demanded regime change in North Korea, the toppling of the Iranian regime, an invasion of Libya and the termination of the Palestinian bid for statehood. (So far, only two of their radical fantasies have been fulfilled.) On the homefront, they urged the creation of a panopticon-style surveillance regime and implementation of political criteria for denying citizenship to immigrants. The only regret the two expressed over the failed invasion of Iraq was that the disgraced con artist Ahmed Chalabi had not been installed as the country’s provisional leader.</p><p dir="ltr">Neither Frum nor Perle nor any of the Bush administration figures behind the war on Iraq faced any consequences for the destruction they wreaked. Instead, they have been rewarded with cushy fellowships at think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, or been called on to advise Republican presidential candidates. Others <a href="" target="_blank">made fortunes</a> on reconstruction contracts, took prestigious <a href="" target="_blank">academic posts</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">led</a> international financial institutions. Frum was eventually hired as senior editor at the putatively liberal Atlantic Magazine. In March, the Atlantic published a widely read <a href="" target="_blank">cover story</a> glowingly portraying the criminal mafia of ISIS as an authentic embodiment of orthodox Islamic theology — exactly as it has marketed itself.</p><p dir="ltr">Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the global war on terror. At every step of the way, Western governments played directly into the hands of Islamic extremists, falling for their ploys and fueling their ambitions. As Osama Bin Laden tauntingly <a href="" target="_blank">proclaimed</a> back in 2004, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahadin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written Al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.”</p><p dir="ltr">For the handful of ideologues guiding the forever war, those personal and political benefits justified the price of failure. After the latest assault on Paris, it’s not surprising to see them clamoring for more force, more surveillance, more silence from progressives and more airtime for themselves. As they occupy the political center, the grayzone fades to black.</p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 06:56:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1045853 at World Grayzone Project Isis france attacks war conflict 'I Would Like to See Gaza Drown in the Sea': Remembering the True Yitzhak Rabin, 20 Years After His Assassination <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Israeli statesman was not the peaceful negotiator he&#039;s now presented as. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/640px-yitzhak_rabin_1986.jpeg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>At an election debate in 1988, Israeli statesman <a href=";feature=related">Yitzkak Rabin touted</a> his achievements as the Defense Minister who enacted the “broken bones” policy to suppress the first Palestinian Intifada. </p><p>“They also know: 260 Palestinians were killed in the last two months!” he proclaimed to boisterous applause from his audience. “7,000 were wounded!” Rabin bragged. “18,000 were arrested!” </p><p>He continued boastfully, “5,600 are currently in prison. Are these trivial numbers? Are these trivial numbers?”</p><p>This week marks the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by a right-wing fanatic seeking to scuttle Israeli negotiations with the Palestinians. The past days have been occasion for wistful remembrances of the martyred former Prime Minister by <a href="" target="_blank">Bill Clinton</a> and a who’s who of the obsolete Israeli “peace camp” that fought for a two state solution.</p><p>With his attempts to forge the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords, Rabin became an icon of liberal Zionism. For the Palestinians, however, he was anything but a man of peace. And, in fact, he never supported an honest two-state solution.</p><p>During his campaign in 1992, Rabin warned that a Palestinian state could only be established on the ruins of Israel. Indeed, Rabin was opposed to the creation of a viable Palestinian state, favoring instead a form of limited autonomy in Bantustan-style population centers overseen by dictatorial security forces that coordinated repression with the Israeli army.</p><p>“We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state,” <a href="" target="_blank">Rabin explained</a> in his final speech before the Knesset. He pledged to preserve a “united Jerusalem,” pledging not to cede control of the city’s occupied eastern areas for the establishment of a Palestinian capital. </p><p>Rabin’s aim, and that of his successors, was not co-existence with the Palestinians, but rather a form of hard separation that guarded Israel’s exclusively Jewish character. It was Rabin’s campaign vow in 1992 to “keep Gaza out of Tel Aviv” — to essentially wall off the Gaza Strip — that helped him secure the premiership. Months later, <a href="" target="_blank">Rabin declared</a>, “I would like to see Gaza drown in the sea.” </p><p>The Oslo era of peace processing may be extinguished, but many of the Rabin’s central strategic ambitions have been fulfilled. Thanks to the siege of Gaza and the construction of a vast concrete wall severing the occupied West Bank from Jerusalem, his vision of hard separation has become a reality. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are governing in the key Palestinian population centers, embracing a form of limited autonomy beneath Israeli occupation. And as the conditions of basic life in Gaza deteriorate to catastrophic levels, some of the coastal enclave’s most desperate residents are <a href="" target="_blank">literally drowning</a> in the sea. </p><p>Now that Israel has fallen under the sway of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a bitter rival of Rabin who has vowed to live by the sword in an endless clash of civilizations, liberal Zionists are descending into despair. Their anguish stems not only from their delusions about what could have been had Rabin lived on, but from their loss of power to the post-Oslo generation of right-wing religious nationalists. </p><p>Meanwhile, for Palestinians living under occupation, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Since mid-September, Israeli forces <a href="" target="_blank">have arrested</a> at least 1,553 Palestinians for demonstrating against the occupation, and indicted 437. Since October 1, 73 Palestinians <a href="" target="_blank">have been killed</a> by Israeli troops, including 12 children, two infants and a pregnant woman. </p><p>Numbers like these might be trivial to Netanyahu and the maximalists in his government, but for Rabin, they were once a point of pride.</p><p> </p> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:24:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1045330 at World World Yitzhak Rabin palestinians Israel Painting Palestinians as Nazis, Netanyahu Incites Wave of Vigilante Violence <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Netanyahu’s comments about the Mufti were much more than a hysterical lie. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-10-22_at_9.45.38_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">It is Springtime for Hitler. The genocidal dictator who presided over the murder of millions of Jews across Europe during World War II has been absolved of his most heinous crime by the elected leader of the self-proclaimed Jewish state. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the blame for the Final Solution lay not with Der Fuhrer, but with Hajj al-Amin Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who oversaw holy sites during the 1920s and '30s. In Netanyahu’s version of Holocaust history, Hitler was just following orders.</p><p dir="ltr">This seemingly surreal event occurred in Jerusalem at the <a href="">World Zionist Congress</a>, where the bigwigs of the pro-Israel world gathered amidst a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks and brutal Israeli crackdowns. When he rose to address the crowd, Netanyahu was determined to project defiance. He would let no one accuse Israel of provoking violence with its brutal, half-century-long military occupation. His security forces were facing down a terror wave rooted in a culture of Arab anti-Semitism that pre-dated the country’s establishment, he insisted. Jewish citizens of Israel were being attacked <em>as Jews,</em> not as occupiers or settlers, and anyone who said otherwise was a liar.</p><p dir="ltr">In a <a href="">long-winded</a> disquisition peppered with tales of his grandfather’s close encounters with Arab “marauders,” Netanyahu painted the Palestinian national movement as a collection of irrational extremists united by a singular goal of exterminating the Jews. To illustrate his point, he summoned the ghost of the Mufti.</p><p dir="ltr">“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu declared. “And Hajj Amin al-Husseini [the Mufti] went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they'll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ And he was sought in, during the Nuremberg trials for prosecution.”</p><p dir="ltr">Netanyahu had written feverishly on the Mufti’s collaboration with Nazi Germany in his 1993 book, <em>A Durable Peace</em>, citing dubious testimony by one of Adolph Eichmann’s underlings that the “Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry.” (In his 1961 trial in Jerusalem, Eichmann denied that Husseini played any such role or that he knew him well.) The long-dead Palestinian patriarch has been one of Netanyahu’s favorite boogeymen ever since, helping him implicate the Palestinians in crimes that had nothing to do with the occupation or settler-colonial domination. Back in 2012, in a speech before the Israeli Knesset, Netanyahu <a href="">claimed</a> the Mufti was “one of the leading architects of the Final Solution.” And a year later, at Bar Ilan University, Netanyahu attempted to draw a <a href="">direct line</a> between Nazi Germany and the Palestinian national struggle.</p><p dir="ltr">There is no evidence to support Netanyahu’s statements about the Mufti’s malignant influence over Hitler. According to a full readout of the Nov. 28, 1941 meeting between the two, the Mufti never urged Hitler to “burn [the Jews],” as Netanyahu alleged. Hitler’s discussion with the Mufti occurred months after the liquidation of nearly the entire Jewish population of Lithuania and weeks after the slaughter at Babi Yar, where over 34,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed in one of the worst massacres of World War II. Contrary to Netanyahu’s claims, the engines of genocide were roaring by the time the Mufti and Hitler met.</p><p dir="ltr">Almost every aspect of Netanyahu’s screed was false, down to his claim that Husseini died in Cairo before he could be summoned to testify at the Nuremberg Tribunal. (He died in Beirut in 1974.) In absolving Hitler of overseeing the Jewish genocide, Netanyahu dabbled in Holocaust denial, which is a crime in several European countries. The Holocaust revisionist David Irving lost his libel case against historian Deborah Lipstadt in part because he<a href="">made</a> the same false claim as Netanyahu: Irving wrote that Hitler was “inactive” in 1941, with no involvement at the time in the extermination of Germany’s Jews.</p><p dir="ltr">Unlike Irving, who eventually <a href="">went to jail</a> for Holocaust denial, Netanyahu has escaped with little more than a slap on the wrist. The <em>New York Times</em> reported his remarks and collected critical quotes by high-profile Holocaust scholars; however, it described his claims about Hitler and the Mufti as "<a href="">disputed</a>," the same language it uses to describe Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel. And the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel organization that declares battling worldwide anti-Semitism as its mission, <a href="">urged</a> Netanyahu to “be careful in talking about the Holocaust” and thanked him for “his clarification on the point.” Yet Netanyahu only doubled down on his remarks, proclaiming “it is absurd to disregard the Mufti’s role in encouraging Hitler to exterminate the Jews.”</p><p dir="ltr">Over the course of his career, Netanyahu’s seemingly outlandish behavior has always been animated by a cynical logic. By projecting the phantasms of the Holocaust onto the stark tableau of the Arab Muslim world, he has expertly exploited the psychological vulnerabilities of Jewish Israelis. His perseverance is perhaps the best validation of the phenomenon known as <a href="">Terror Management Theory</a>, in which average people turn to militaristic and authoritarian political leadership to cope with frightening encounters with mortality.</p><p dir="ltr">Just over 20 years ago, Netanyahu addressed a right-wing rally in central Jerusalem, speaking from a balcony “in a Mussolinian posture,” as Akiva Eldar and Idith Zertal, the Israeli authors of <em>Lords of the Land</em>, recalled. After egging on settlers bearing portraits of Rabin dressed as a Nazi SS officer, Netanyahu <a href="">marched</a> alongside a mock coffin marked “Rabin.” Exactly one month later, Rabin was gunned down by a right-wing fanatic. And Netanyahu was on his way to winning a first term.</p><p dir="ltr">When he returned to the Prime Minister’s office in 2009, Netanyahu revamped his signature tactic, this time to brand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then the president of Iran, as a “modern Hitler” planning a second Holocaust. When he <a href="">spoke</a> in Washington before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2012, Netanyahu waved a 1944 letter from the US Department of War supposedly relaying America’s refusal to bomb the railways that carried Jews to their destruction at Auschwitz. Likening Iran’s nuclear facilities to the gas chambers of the Holocaust, Netanyahu roared, “My friends, 2012 is not 1944… Never again!” His message to the Obama administration was clear: Bomb Iran, or we will.</p><p dir="ltr">Netanyahu's titanic struggle had come to a sputtering end by the time he arrived at the UN General Assembly earlier this month. His humiliating failure to stop the Iran nuclear deal had deprived him of the external enemy — the “modern Hitler” — that had assured him international relevancy and domestic support. For a full 45 seconds, Netanyahu silently glowered at the room full of stone-faced diplomats as though they were impudent children. It was one of the most bizarre displays in United Nations history.</p><p>As he returned to Jerusalem, Netanyahu turned his sights away from the Iranian nuclear threat and trained them on Palestinian kids with potato peelers. “Anyone who tries to harm us, we cut off his arm,” he <a href="">rumbled</a> during a memorial ceremony for Rehavam Ze’evi, the late right-wing politician who helped popularize the idea of forcibly transferring the Palestinian population from the West Bank to Jordan.</p><p dir="ltr">Paranoia was spreading across the country, with commando units <a href=";id=129653250402500&amp;;_rdr">bursting</a> into shopping malls during false alarms while Jews assaulted Jews who resembled Palestinians. As units of the Israeli army poured into Jerusalem for the first time since 1967, riot police took full advantage of authorization to shoot teenage stone-throwers with live bullets. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, an architect of the wave of evictions <a href="">inflaming</a> Palestinians in the east of the city, instructed all Jewish residents who owned weapons to stage armed vigilante patrols, and even embarked on one himself. “Don’t hesitate… If someone is brandishing a knife, shoot him,” <a href="">urged</a> Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid Party.</p><p dir="ltr">As the violence intensified, a sub-genre of viral snuff films emerged. In one grainy clip, a settler <a href="">draped</a> a Palestinian corpse with pork as paramedics stood by impassively. Another showed an Israeli man <a href="">taunting</a> a Palestinian boy as blood poured from his head and he panted for breath after being shot during a stabbing attack. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching video captured crowds <a href="">trouncing</a> on the lifeless body of Haftom Zarhum, an Eritrean refugee who was riddled with bullets after being mistaken for a Palestinian gunman. "Break his head! Break his head! Son of a whore!” shouted one man as he abused Zarhum’s body.</p><p>By blaming a Palestinian for the Final Solution, Netanyahu has helped his countrymen adjust to the macabre reality. He reassured them that they were not settler overlords or vigilante brutes, but Inglourious Basterds curb-stomping SS officers in the woods outside Krakow. And he sent them the message that Palestinians lurking behind concrete walls and under siege in ghettoes were not an occupied, dispossessed people, but a new breed of Nazis hellbent on Jewish extermination. Netanyahu’s comments about the Mufti were much more than a hysterical lie; they were an invitation to act out a blood-soaked fantasy of righteous revenge.</p> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 06:24:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1044516 at World News & Politics World netanyahu Israel nazis How Pro-Israel Fanatics Have Teamed up with Right-Wing Operatives to Crush Free Speech on Campus <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A McCarthyite &#039;underground operation&#039; to silence speech critical of Israel has a wider anti-progressive agenda.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-10-11_at_2.22.15_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr"><em>This is part four of a four-part investigation. Read parts <a href="">one</a>, <a href="">two</a> and <a href="">three</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr">At a Texas Retreat convened last June by <a href="">long-time neoconservative agitator David Horowitz</a>, a baby-faced operative named Charlie Kirk outlined an “undercover, underground plan” to “control student funding,” “censor professors” and “get rid of free speech zones.” His plan focused on channeling right-wing money into a full-bore attack on the grassroots movement to boycott, sanction, and divest from Israel as a means to pressure the country into respecting Palestinian human rights, known as BDS. The BDS movement has spread across US campuses and European capitals since it was devised by Palestinian civil society groups in 2005. </p><p dir="ltr"><a href="">Described</a> by the <em>National Journal</em> as “the future of the conservative movement,” the 21-year-old Kirk is rapidly emerging as one the most influential right-wing campus organizers. Speaking before an audience of hundreds of conservative activists in a hotel ballroom in Dallas, Kirk laid out a strikingly authoritarian vision to systematically eradicate progressive political culture from American universities.</p><p>“What we’re doing in states like California, Massachusetts and New York, is we’re starting...a rather undercover, underground operation that is designed for one purpose only,” Kirk explained. “And that is to run -- and win -- Student Government Association races the same way we look at Congressional campaigns. If we can successfully retake the student governments...on these really, really far left campuses such as UC-Irvine, UCLA, and we run the student government association races with the same money, time, energy and resources [as] we do a Congressional campaign, then we can start to effective, neutralizing factor on these campuses. You can control student funding, you can censor professors, you can get rid of free speech zones, you can then balance the curriculum, you then can use your student government post as a bully pulpit.”</p><p>Kirk pointed to BDS as a key target of his surreptitious takeover plan. “Who here has heard of BDS?” Kirk asked his audience, prompting a chorus of groans. “Every BDS resolution is passed because of student governments...They use student government associations to push this radical agenda on to these campuses…The only vulnerability there is, the only opening, is student government associations races and elections, and we’re investing a lot of time and energy and money in it. And you’d be amazed. If you spend $5,000 on a [student government] race, you can win. You could retake a whole college or university -- we did it at Arizona State University.”</p><p><em>(Video of Kirk’s appearance was mysteriously removed from David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Vimeo account. The authors of this article had previously downloaded the video, which has been re-uploaded <a href=";">here</a>.)</em></p><p dir="ltr">While Kirk is not active within the Israel lobby, he has participated in Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” campaign alongside the young zealots being prepared for future leadership roles. Last March, he appeared on a panel at Horowitz’s West Coast Retreat beside Daniel Mael and Chloe Valdary, two of the lobby’s most extensively groomed figures. Presenting himself as a seasoned operator, Kirk alluded to a project that he was working on with the David Horowitz Freedom Center to wage a slash-and-burn campaign against left-wing college activists online through social media.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>(Less than a day after the video of this panel at Horowitz’s West Coast Retreat appeared on the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Vimeo page, and just hours after Valdary promoted it on Facebook, the video was inexplicably removed. We were unable to download it at the time.)</em></p><p dir="ltr">According to the National Journal, Kirk has raised $1 million from right-wing donors “enthralled by his conservative promise.” And he has already pledged to spend a chunk of it to defeat BDS on campus through his “underground” plan. His funding will inevitably bolster the growing nexus between campus pro-Israel activism and the College Republicans. Whether or not Kirk is playing a role in the malicious blacklisting website Canary Mission, his participation in Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred” initiative and stated interest in defeating BDS on campus highlight the growing bond between the conservative movement and the Israel lobby.</p><p dir="ltr">If there is any single figure responsible for fusing the Israel lobby with the Republican Party, it is Sheldon Adelson. The 82-year-old casino baron, who is the single biggest contributor of political funds to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is also one of the largest individual contributors to the Republican Party, giving him enormous potential influence over its presidential primary campaign. In 2012, Adelson <a href="">shelled out</a> $150 million to defeat President Obama, dumping dark money into Republican Super PAC’s while funding a negative ad blitz. Over three years later, after Obama managed the historic passage of the Iran nuclear deal, Adelson and his allies are turning their attention to American campuses where Palestine solidarity activism is a thriving movement.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>“You no longer have to worry about financing”</strong></p><p>In June, the Israel lobby’s top right-wing activists <a href="">convened</a> at Adelson’s Venetian Luxury Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. The organizations they represented included CAMERA, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, the virulently Islamophobic Clarion Fund, and the Washington Free Beacon, a neoconservative online journal whose defamatory and frequently baseless articles <a href="">attacking</a> college students involved in Palestine solidarity activism have also served as blueprints for Canary Mission's dossiers. In all, fifty right-wing pro-Israel groups were represented at Adelson’s resort, regaling a coterie of twenty ultra-Zionist donors with their plans for crushing BDS on campus. As a fee for entering the gathering, each wealthy backer was required to pledge at least $1 million in donations over the next two years.</p><p dir="ltr">Pro-Israel lobbyists emerged from the gathering with a whopping $50 million in pledges for anti-BDS efforts. “You work together and we will raise you the money,” one of the major donors, Adam Milstein, <a href="">assured</a> his new beneficiaries after the meeting in Las Vegas. “You no longer have to worry about financing and fundraising. You just need to be united.”</p><p>An Israeli-American real estate baron <a href="">convicted</a> of tax evasion, Tuvia “Adam” Milstein was <a href="">exposed</a> in 2014 for funneling donations to UCLA student government candidates who personally pledged “to make sure that UCLA will maintains [sic] its allegiance to Israel.” He colluded further with UCLA Hillel -- the base of the major pro-Israel organizations on campus -- to develop “an ongoing strategy to delegitimize and discredit” any student organizations that support divestment.</p><p dir="ltr">While Adelson and Milstein typically support outfits operating on the right-wing of the political spectrum, one of the Democratic Party’s most powerful individual donors, Israeli-American tycoon Haim Saban, seemed eager to throw his financial weight behind their initiative. A Beverly Hills-based billionaire who earned much of his fortune by selling the Fox Family franchise to Walt Disney, Saban is so determined to control the narrative around Israel-Palestine that he previously considered purchasing the Los Angeles Times and transforming it into a pro-Israel propaganda organ. Last year, Saban and Adelson <a href="">openly mulled</a> buying the New York Times, in order to shift the Times’ editorial line closer to the Israeli government’s rightist agenda.</p><p dir="ltr">“I’m a one issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban said.</p><p dir="ltr">To advance his single-minded goal, Saban has made himself one of the most significant individual contributors to the Democratic Party. His generous donations to Obama’s presidential campaigns secured an <a href="">appointment</a> as special US representative to the 2012 United Nations General Assembly for his wife, former pop singer and Playboy “Disco Queens” <a href=""></a> model Cheryl Saban. A frequent White House guest during Bill Clinton’s presidency, Saban has been an aggressive supporter of Hillary Clinton and mega-donor to the Clinton Foundation. His millions have <a href="">funded</a> the construction of the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Washington’s Brookings Institute.</p><p dir="ltr">This year, as Saban mobilized to back Hillary Clinton’s second bid for the White House, he was forced to turn his attention to a more urgent concern: The BDS campaign that had<a href="">stripped</a> his Israeli Partner corporation of the right to use the brand of French-based Orange telecommunications. Seated beside Adelson’s on stage at the casino baron’s Las Vegas anti-BDS conference, Saban openly panicked about BDS, warning of “an anti-Semitic tsunami coming at us.”</p><p dir="ltr">Saban called for an initiative to punish corporations that refused to work inside Israel or the territories it occupies through military force: “Any company that chooses to boycott business in Israel is going to look at this case, and once we’re done they’re going to think twice whether they want to take on Israel or not,” Saban declared. “Trust me, this is just the beginning.”</p><p dir="ltr">Saban’s expressions of panic elicited a <a href="">letter</a> from Hillary Clinton in which she promised to “make countering BDS a priority.” Next to her signature was a handwritten note of assurance from Clinton: “Looking forward to working with you on this.”</p><p dir="ltr">This October, however, Saban suddenly withdrew his support from the anti-BDS campaign headed by Adelson. “He didn’t like that Adelson was pushing the group towards funding right-wing groups that are only speaking in a right-wing echo chamber — and not towards pushing a message that would actually change hearts and minds,” a pro-Israel lobbyist <a href="">told</a>Nathan Guttman of the <em>Forward</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Pro-Israel money is flowing disproportionately into the coffers of right-wing groups that are not only determined to obstruct Palestine solidarity efforts, but which are organizing on firmly partisan lines. The initiative devised at Adelson’s casino last June is a prime example: Its first administrative hire was <a href="">David Brog</a>, the Executive Director of the Christians United For Israel organization that supports the Israeli settlement enterprise and whose almost evangelical Republican membership advances the End Times as the solution to the Israel-Palestine crisis. And the national student network he would preside over was named the “Campus Maccabees.”</p><p dir="ltr">“With strength, determination, and unity, the Campus Maccabees will unite the best pro-Israel organizations, reverse the rising tide of anti-Semitism on our campuses, and succeed in the battle against the hate groups that seek Israel’s destruction,” Adelson proclaimed in a <a href="">press release</a>, embracing David Horowitz’s directive to paint Students for Justice in Palestine as a “hate group.”</p><p dir="ltr">For those familiar with Jewish history, the name of Adelson’s newfangled initiative contains striking resonances. The Maccabees were first and second century BCE religious zealots who slaughtered, forcibly converted and circumcised fellow Jews who attempted to assimilate into the Seleucid Empire’s Hellenistic culture. Once the Maccabees secured power through disproportionate force, retaking the Temple and smashing the empire’s idols, they imposed a draconian theocratic order on their subjects. <a href="">Mythologized</a> in the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Maccabees became heroes of the early Zionists who colonized historic Palestine.</p><p>The inauguration of the Campus Maccabees offers a massive cash infusion to the expansion of the movement of which Canary Mission appears to be a pilot project. With unprecedented resources, these hardline elements are expanding their campaign beyond fighting BDS in order to <a href="">castigate</a> liberal pro-Israel groups that supported Obama’s Iran deal such as J Street.</p><p>As the bipartisan consensus that once underlined pro-Israel organizing becomes a relic of the past, some campus activists are beginning to worry that the Israel lobby has crossed the line. “The pro-Israel community is increasingly being perceived as right-wing fanatics,” <a href="">complained</a> Justin Hayet, a star of the Crossing the Line propaganda film series produced by the Aish-affiliated <a href="">Jerusalem U</a>. “If we let that stigma perpetuate, fighting BDS on campus will become increasingly challenging.”</p> Sun, 11 Oct 2015 11:05:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Julia Carmel, AlterNet 1043893 at Civil Liberties Activism Civil Liberties The Right Wing World free speech campus Israel Why Are Dianne Feinstein and Janet Napolitano Backing a McCarthyite Push Against Palestine Activists? <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Going to extremes to stifle a growing movement.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-10-06_at_8.06.01_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr"><em>Part three of an ongoing investigation for AlterNet. Read parts <a href="">one</a> and <a href="">two</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr">With a majority of schools in the University of California (UC) system and the <a href="">UC Student Association</a> voting to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation, the pro-Israel lobby is pushing for a clampdown on Palestine solidarity activity at UC schools. Not only do they want to forbid demonstrations against Israeli policy on campus, they want to effectively ban the BDS movement, which advocates boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel to pressure the country into respecting the human rights of Palestinians.</p><p dir="ltr">Shockingly, the extreme demand that the UC system adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that would <a href="">effectively classify</a> most forms of Palestine solidarity activism as hate speech, and punish them as such, has won support from some of California’s most influential Democrats. They include Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California and former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Also backing the campaign is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her husband, the UC Regent and <a href="">scandal-stained</a> <a href="">arms profiteer</a> Dick Blum. According to lawyer Ken White, the Democratic power couple has <a href="">threatened</a> to “make trouble if the [university administration] didn’t commit to punish people for prohibited speech.” Blum has vowed that anyone who violated the new speech code be punished or expelled.</p><p dir="ltr">Behind this lobbying push is a little-known professor of Hebrew studies at UC–Santa Cruz named Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. A hardcore supporter of Israel’s right-wing government, Rossman-Benjamin has helped pioneer the use of speech codes and manipulation of the law to undermine Palestine solidarity campaigns — a tactic that pro-Israel advocates refer to as “lawfare.” Through the <a href="">AMCHA Initiative</a>, a right-wing nonprofit group that functions as Rossman-Benjamin’s personal political vehicle, she <a href="">helped devise</a> the radical crackdown on free speech at UC schools.</p><p dir="ltr">In the past, Rossman-Benjamin <a href="">unsuccessfully crusaded</a> to force California’s Attorney General to prosecute a professor at California State University–Northridge, David Klein, for his support for the BDS campaign. She has repeatedly <a href="">attempted</a> to compel the federal government to define public criticism of Israel as a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, insisting that activities that offend the sensibilities of pro-Israel Jewish students constitute a violation of those students’ civil rights.</p><p dir="ltr">Rossman-Benjamin makes no secret of her contempt for Arab and Muslim students. In a <a href="">disturbingly vitriolic address</a> to a Jewish congregation in 2012, Rossman-Benjamin claimed that campuses had been “poisoned” by the infiltration of “foreign students who come from countries and cultures where anti-Semitism is how they think about the world.”</p><p dir="ltr">“These are not your ordinary student groups like College Republicans or Young Democrats,” she warned. “These are students who come with a serious agenda, who have ties to terrorist organizations.”</p><p dir="ltr">Rossman-Benjamin also maintains strong reserves of resentment for left-wing African American academics and activists, accusing them of spreading anti-Semitism across American campuses. In a <a href="">lengthy paper</a> lamenting the successful push for an ethnic studies department at San Francisco State University in the 1960s, Rossman-Benjamin concluded, “Programs whose core mission includes the promotion of group identity and the pursuit of social justice may be linked to expressions of political animosities in general and antisemitism in particular.” (Her paper was edited by Alvin Rosenfeld, the author of an <a href="">essay</a> blaming “progressive Jewish thought” for the rise of a “New Anti-Semitism.”)</p><p dir="ltr">Rossman-Benjamin’s attempts to suppress BDS activity on campus have strayed over the line of legitimate activism into the realm of covert surveillance. In 2012, Rossman-Benjamin dispatched a student, Prescott Watson, <a href="">to spy on</a> a conflict analysis project of the University of California called the Olive Tree Initiative. With the information illicitly gathered by Watson, she produced a report based on private conversations and the personal information of Berkeley students to paint Olive Tree as a vehicle for promoting anti-Semitism. Documents leaked to journalists Asa Winstanley and Nora Barrows-Friedman found that Rossman-Benjamin had become obsessed with monitoring students well beyond this single initiative; she had spent years filing away their personal information into a database.</p><p dir="ltr">Rebecca Pierce, a graduate of UC–Santa Cruz and former student of Rossman-Benjamin, told us that the professor would often be seen seated towards the back of Palestine-related events on campus, jotting down notes on BDS activists that she would later turn into files.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Links to Canary Mission and The Islamophobia Industry</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Canary Mission, the malicious <a href="">Israeli government-linked website</a> that seeks to deny employment opportunities to students who campaign for Palestinian rights, has acknowledged its heavy reliance on the material Rossman-Benjamin gathered on the activists she’s <a href="">tracked.</a></p><p dir="ltr">As retribution for her public opposition to Rossman-Benjamin’s activities on campus, Pierce received a dossier at Canary Mission and consequently became the target of <a href="">online harassment</a>that resulted from the malicious listing. While Rossman-Benjamin has denied playing an operational role in Canary Mission, much of Pierce’s profile on the site specifically cited her criticism of her former professor, as though Rossman-Benjamin had supplied the material firsthand. Of over 140 students, activists and academics currently designated for blacklisting by Canary Mission, a disproportionate number have been enrolled at the California campuses that Rossman-Benjamin has obsessively monitored.</p><p dir="ltr">While some of the Canary Mission listings cite Rossman-Benjamin’s AMCHA Initiative as a source, others refer directly to material gathered by Charles Jacobs’ Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) and his former outfit, the David Project. In fact, many of the figures featured on Canary Mission are longstanding targets of Jacobs, from Columbia University professors Joseph Massad and Rashid Khalidi to Northeastern University professor Dennis Sullivan and student Max Geller. To generate its dossier on Geller, Canary Mission relied almost entirely on material first <a href="">published</a> in David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag by the Research Director for Jacobs’ APT, Ilya Feoktistov. (Jacobs and Feoktistov have <a href="">co-authored articles</a> published in right-wing outlets, including Breitbart and the Daily Caller.)</p><br /><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="332" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="332" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-10-06_at_5.13.39_pm.png" /></div><p dir="ltr"><em>Charles Jacobs is one of the country’s leaders in McCarthy-style tactics against Muslims and Palestine solidarity</em></p><p dir="ltr">So who is Jacobs? Like his ally, Rossman-Benjamin, he has spent much of his career painting those who disagree with his hardline agenda, especially liberal Jews, as anti-Semites and terrorist sympathizers. He has sometimes inspired threats against his targets — and hailed those who have made incitement their business. A tireless crusader against Muslim American communal organizing, Jacobs has <a href="">said</a> that Muslims “should be required to attend sensitivity training about Judaism and about American values of tolerance.” He has even <a href="">celebrated</a> Pamela Geller, who is possibly America’s most belligerent Islamophobe, as a “Jewish heroine.”</p><p dir="ltr">In a recent <a href="">article</a> for The American Thinker, a right-wing blog that <a href="">plays host to open and active white supremacists</a>, Jacobs sought to answer complaints by anonymous Christian friends about “Jewish political ineptitude.” Jacobs said he informed the Christians that “universalized Jews” were infected with a “Jewish cognitive disease." He called it “Jupus,” in reference to the autoimmune disease known as lupus. According to Jacobs’ diagnosis, this psychological virus had infected liberal Jews to the point that they had become suicidal. “To the ‘progressives,’ ARAB LIVES MATTER — but only if Jews kill them,” he alleged.</p><p dir="ltr">While Jacobs refused to reply to our questions about what role, if any, he has played in Canary Mission, some of his favorite academic and activist targets have become the subjects of dossiers on the website.</p><p dir="ltr">In 1982, when Israel’s first prime minister from the Likud Party, Menachem Begin, launched a catastrophic invasion of Lebanon, a new generation of pro-Israel hardliners emerged to defend Israeli policies from global criticism. These Likud loyalists formed CAMERA, apressure group that leveraged advances in digital data and ultimately, the Internet, to assail media organizations and reporters who diverged from a right-wing Zionist narrative. Charles Jacobs was one of the group’s founders in Boston, where CAMERA’s headquarters has been located ever since. Today, CAMERA is funded heavily by Seth Klarman, the Boston-based hedge funder whose digital newspaper, The Times of Israel, has hosted Canary Mission’s banner ads.</p><p dir="ltr">Former NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin has <a href="">estimated</a> that 90 percent of the zealots confronting him about his network’s Israel-Palestine coverage were “calling [him] because CAMERA had told them to.”</p><p dir="ltr">“As a consequence of its campaign against NPR, CAMERA acted as the enabler for some seriously disturbed people,” Dvorkin added, noting that he received so many direct death threats he was forced to report them to the FBI.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2003, as the Second Intifada raged and the U.S. invasion of Iraq began, Jacobs gathered with a network of pro-Israel groups to discuss plans for confronting the sudden rise in Palestine solidarity activism on campus. A memo he <a href="">commissioned</a> from McKinsey and Company called for a plan to “take back the campus by influencing public opinion through lectures, the Internet, and coalitions.” The lobbying discussions generated support for the David Project, a campus advocacy group that Jacobs founded to <a href="">destroy the careers of academic critics of Israel</a>, particularly prominent Palestinian professors such as Joseph Massad and Rashid Khalidi, both professors at Columbia University. In Boston, in 2004, Jacobs led a divisive and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to block the construction of an Islamic community center, relying on nuisance lawsuits and <a href="">bogus accusations</a> that the center was a front for “the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia or … the Moslem Brotherhood.”</p><p dir="ltr">Jacobs’ divisive approach rankled the sensibilities of liberal Jews in Boston and beyond. One of his critics, longtime Americans for Peace Now leader Leonard Fein, <a href="">accused</a> the David Project of “doing an ongoing disservice to the Jewish community. Where bridges could be built,” Fein wrote, “it prefers confrontation; where sober analysis is called for, it opts for polemic.”</p><p dir="ltr">When Jacobs resigned as director of the David Project in 2008, the organization underwent a substantial makeover. Under the leadership of David Bernstein, the David Project began channeling its resources into relationship-building and repairing frayed ties with liberal Jewish groups, largely abandoning the “name and shame” tactics that generated so much friction under Jacobs’ watch. Bernstein, a lobbyist formerly employed by the center-right American Jewish Committee, <a href="">worried</a> that “a pervasively negative atmosphere will affect the long-term thinking of current college students, negatively affecting strong bipartisan support for Israel.”</p><p dir="ltr">The newly conciliatory approach infuriated Jacobs, who insisted, “Unless you expose and humiliate and taunt and legally threaten and politically challenge the use of the podium as propaganda ... then you have a problem.”</p><p dir="ltr">Through the ironically named Americans for Peace and Tolerance, the organization Jacobs founded after leaving the David Project, Jacobs redoubled his efforts with the help of a new breed of zealots. Jacobs helped launch the career of Chloe Valdary, the Christian Zionist activist, <a href="">featuring</a> her in an APT-produced video in 2013 equating the global BDS movement with Nazi Germany and suggesting it could lead to a second genocide of Jews.</p><p dir="ltr">That same year, Jacobs initiated a crusade to censor high school curricula in the Newton, Mass. school district, alleging through a series of newspaper ads that school textbooks demonized Israel and “glorified Islam.” But Jacobs admitted, “We don’t know exactly what students are being taught,” and the local Anti-Defamation League issued its objection to his campaign. In fact, not one parent of any student in the Newton schools publicly supported Jacobs, including the parent who filed the initial complaint about the textbook content.</p><p dir="ltr">When Newton’s School Committee vice chairman Matt Hills formally rejected Jacobs’ charges, declaring, “there is not a single accusation that has merit,” Jacobs placed ads in local papers featuring Hills’ home phone number. According to the <em><a href="">Boston Globe</a></em>, Hills received more than 100 threatening phone calls as a result of Jacobs’ campaign, “some in the middle of the night and almost all from outside Newton.” Hills, whose wife was the president of the Temple Emanuel synagogue, required a police detail to provide security at their home.</p><p dir="ltr">Back in California, where Rossman-Benjamin is lobbying to silence student advocates of Palestinian rights, some students who have no role in the BDS movement are finding their names on the malicious Canary Mission website. Among those deceptively listed on Canary Mission as an “active supporter” of BDS is a student named Emily Chen. Chen’s only involvement in any BDS-related campaign appears to have been voting in favor of a resolution to divest from corporations active in the Occupied Palestinian Territories while serving as a member of UC-Berkeley’s Student Government Council. Nils Gilbertson, another student government member who voted for the resolution but who has no record as an activist, is also blacklisted at Canary Mission.</p><p dir="ltr">With support from powerful Democrats like Napolitano and Feinstein, zealots like Rossman-Benjamin and Jacobs seem unconcerned about the consequences of their campaigning. Even as they leave a trail of polarization and rancor, these activists are now on the verge of an unprecedented windfall in funding from a new coalition of right-wing pro-Israel billionaires.</p><p> </p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:11:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Julia Carmel, AlterNet 1043626 at Civil Liberties Activism Civil Liberties World Israel palestine Flush With Cash, Right-Wing Extremists Train the Future Zealots of Pro-Israel Campus Activism <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">McCarthyist tactics meet Internet technology.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-10-02_at_6.53.00_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr"><em>The following is part two of a four-part investigation. (<a href="">Read part one here</a>.)</em></p><p dir="ltr">When David Horowitz <a href="">appeared</a> in Rancho Palos Verdes, California for his lavish annual West Coast Retreat on March 6, the launch of the shadowy Canary Mission website was just weeks away. Speaking before hundreds of ultra-conservatives, Horowitz set the tone for the weeks to come: “It’s kind of obvious [that] the Jews are the canaries in the mine,” Horowitz proclaimed. “The canaries were taken by miners, as you know, into the mines, and when the canary died you knew there was gas in the mine and you’d better get out. So the Jews are there to identify the threat.”</p><p dir="ltr">Horowitz described for the assembled activists what he saw as the greatest threats to Jews. The danger, he said, started with the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a campus group he described as “a recruitment organization for the Muslim Brotherhood” with secret ties to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign through her aide, Huma Abedin, whom he called “a Muslim Brotherhood operative.” According to Horowitz, the MSA and another student group composed largely of Arab and Muslim-Americans, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), were behind a supposed epidemic of anti-Semitism that had put Jewish college students at risk across America.</p><p dir="ltr">Funded to the tune of $10 million by right-wing foundations, the David Horowitz Freedom Center is a key financial conduit to extreme anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic organizations. Among those who have received funding through the Horowitz Freedom Center is Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative. Geller, an aggressively self-promoting Islamophobic Zionist who was named in a recent <a href="">FBI report</a>as an ideological catalyst of far-right extremism, has spent much of this year waging court battles to allow her to purchase advertisements on public buses and subways that read, “Islamic Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran.” (In order to keep Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” ad campaign out of the city, Washington DC’s Transit Authority <a href="">banned</a> all political advertising).</p><p dir="ltr">More than perhaps any other conservative activist, Horowitz has revived the tactics most familiar to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy in order to undermine progressive political movements. “McCarthy was right about the presence of Communists posing as liberals…virtually all of McCarthy’s victims were Communists (and lied about being Communists),” Horowitz wrote in “Left Illusions,” a book-length defense of McCarthyism. His <a href="">error-laden book</a>, “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America,” amounts to a blacklist of left-wing and liberal professors who supposedly “say they want to kill white people,” “support Osama bin Laden,” “advocate killing ordinary Americans,” and “defend pedophilia,” according to Horowitz. Horowitz’s website, <a href="">Discover The Networks</a>, published dossiers of progressive public figures and linked them to “Jihad” and the Muslim Brotherhood. His lurid allegations of a dark alliance between American progressives and radical Islamists have formed the basis for the tactics he is now using to demonize the Palestine solidarity movement. And his extreme “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative has <a href="">received promotion</a> from Canary Mission.</p><p dir="ltr">Horowitz is a former radical leftist who emerged as a leading conservative organizer during the Reagan era. A former Stalinist raised without any connection to Jewish religion by Communist academics blacklisted by McCarthy, Horowitz became an ardent promoter of the North Korean Communist regime before turning hard right. His dogmatism was unaffected by his conversion. His transformation, meanwhile, has been wildly profitable, earning him millions of dollars from conservative donors including the Koch brothers. He showed little interest in the Middle East or Israel before the terrorist attacks of September 11. Afterward, in an autobiographical reflection on his own sense of mortality, Horowitz likened his deceased father to Mohammed Atta, one of the suicidal hijackers. In the post-9/11 era, Horowitz has focused his energy on whipping up the conservative movement with Islamophobia through campus-based initiatives like “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” where he <a href="">attempted to explain</a> how “the Left is in league with Islamofascists.” His Islamophobia campaigns have gained him and his groups millions more dollars from right-wing funders, some of which he <a href="">funneled</a> to the Dutch neo-fascist politician Geert Wilders. Despite his self-proclaimed fervent devotion to Israel, Horowitz has <a href="">never bothered to visit</a> the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Early this year, Horowitz introduced an initiative that would join the smear tactics that had earned him so much notoriety -- and money -- with the campaign to crush BDS, or the international grassroots campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it abides by international law. Calling it “Jew Hatred on Campus,” Horowitz introduced a project that aimed to blacklist colleges with “the worst anti-Semitic activity” while painting Students for Justice in Palestine as a hate group. At the same time, Horowitz’s organization <a href="">plastered campuses with posters</a> depicting a public execution by Hamas of prisoners accused of spying for Israel’s security services. The posters read: “Students For Justice in Palestine #JewHaters.” (Horowitz only took credit for the campaign after the posters ignited a furor).</p><p dir="ltr">One of Horowitz’s chief funders, the Boston-based tech baron Robert Shillman, also helps <a href="">bankroll</a> Pamela Geller’s Islamophobic poster campaign and her deliberately provocative road show. A trustee at his alma mater of Northeastern University, Shillman has attempted to leverage his multi-million dollar donations to <a href="">pressure</a> the school into banning its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Through his Shillman Fellowship, he has sponsored the careers of many of the zealots nurtured in Horowitz’s hothouse.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the most prolific Shillman-backed writers is Ben Shapiro, a would-be pundit and founder of the far-right online outlet called Truth Revolt, which is operated and funded through the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The website’s stated aim is to “unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases.” It has become a center for attacks on student BDS activists and liberal pro-Israel students, publishing material by right-wing students being groomed by the Israel lobby for advocacy careers.</p><p dir="ltr">Back in 2003, when he was still a student at UCLA, Shapiro called for the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. “If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper,” Shapiro wrote. More recently, Shapiro dedicated a <a href="">column</a> to a theme he would return to repeatedly in his tirades against the Black Lives Matter movement: “The racism of the black community.”</p><p dir="ltr">While other conservative organizers have attempted to recruit minorities into the ranks of the Republican Party, Horowitz has instead provided a <a href="">sympathetic forum</a> at his FrontPageMag for Jared Taylor, a leading white nationalist who argues that blacks and Latinos are genetically inferior to whites. Horowitz has <a href="">editorialized</a> that African-Americans owe white America a debt of gratitude for ending slavery and granting them “the most thoroughly protected rights anywhere.” This year, as protests against police brutality erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, Horowitz <a href="">declared</a> that “there’s no community in America that’s more racist than the black community.”</p><p dir="ltr">At his West Coast Retreat last March, Horowitz announced his “guerrilla campaign” against Palestine solidarity activism on campus. Complaining that conservatives too often shy from “very dirty warfare,” he declared that “negative advertising works. By focusing the conversation on their negatives, it takes attention away from ours.”</p><p dir="ltr">Our request for comment on Horowitz’s activity did not receive a response. An email to Elizabeth Ruiz, David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Assistant to the President, regarding the organization’s involvement in Canary Mission was not returned.</p><p dir="ltr">Canary Mission has partly relied on misinformation churned out by the myriad websites associated with Howoritz’s Freedom Center. More importantly, Horowitz has had a direct hand in backing many of the campus activists spying on their classmates, labeling them as terrorist sympathizers and smearing even pro-Israel students who disagree with their slash-and-burn style as anti-Semites. The Center for Constitutional Rights <a href="">documented</a> over 70 accusations of anti-Semitism in 2014 by pro-Israel forces on campus “based solely on speech critical of Israeli policy.”</p><div><strong>Grooming the Zealots</strong></div><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/screen_shot_2015-10-02_at_1.52.45_pm.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em>The pro-Israel lobby has invested heavily in the career of Daniel Mael</em></p><p dir="ltr">Featured at David Horowitz’s West Coast Retreat alongside fellow activists on a panel titled “The War on Campus” was one of the most assiduously groomed, reliably confrontational zealots in the country. Daniel Mael, a recent graduate of Brandeis University, wreaked havoc during his time at the traditionally Jewish institution. A member of <a href="">the Jewish fraternity AEPi</a>, Mael provoked highly publicized feuds with college classmates, aggressively rebuking them for any criticism of Israel’s right-wing government. Heavily funded pro-Israel groups have supported Mael’s exploits, but his smears of fellow Brandeis students were met with scrutiny from the university’s administration. He retaliated by leveling personal accusations at Brandeis faculty members, receiving reams of positive coverage from right-wing media.</p><p dir="ltr">Having <a href="">attacked</a> the authors of this report through social media postings and <a href="">online commentaries</a>, Mael <a href="">would not respond</a> to our questions.</p><p dir="ltr">After two years at Washington University, where he <a href="">played</a> for the school’s baseball team and began participating in pro-Israel activism, Mael transferred to Brandeis, citing his desire for more “access to more Orthodox [Jewish] infrastructure,” according to the <a href="">Boston Forward</a>. He immediately made his presence felt on the traditionally Jewish campus, siccing himself on students and faculty he considered anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, including liberal pro-Israel students from the campus wing of J Street.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, Mael gained access to the archives of “Concerned,” a private listserv that had been set up by Brandeis faculty during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He then provided emailed exchanges between the listserv’s professors to Charles Jacobs, a founder of CAMERA and the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, who promptly accused the faculty members of “hate speech” and anti-Semitism for their criticisms of Israel. Mael’s friend, a fellow pro-Israel activist named Chloe Valdary, reproduced carefully selected excerpts from the list at the right-wing <a href="">Daily Caller</a>, presenting them as evidence of their resentment of “conservatives, Jews, Christians, and anyone who views America as a force for good in this world.” The salacious reports ultimately prompted Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence to issue a <a href="">public letter</a> denouncing the “Concerned” members.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the faculty members targeted by Mael, Brandeis Professor of Computer Science Harry Mairson, remarked, "I have an odd admiration for Mael, even if I’m repulsed by his politics.  Every college student is looking for their niche, and he’s found his — a youthful, shameless ambition, [pro-Israel super lawyer Alan] Dershowitz in larval form. He’ll probably end up as a big shot at AIPAC."</p><p dir="ltr">According to Aya Abdelaziz, a former Brandeis student who helped lead the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, Mael once attempted to stage a mock lynching of a mannequin in the center of campus to dramatize the human rights record of Iran, where gay men have been publicly executed, and to promote the comparatively gay-friendly atmosphere of Israel. Shocked classmates told Abdelaziz that before bringing the crane, rope and gay dummy onto campus, Mael attempted to pressure Brandeis’s Muslim Students Association and the school’s LGBT club into endorsing his stunt.</p><p dir="ltr">“When the students refused his demands and erupted in outrage about the hanging, [Mael] went after them personally, confronting them and calling them anti-Semitic and accusing Jewish students of being self-hating,” Abdelaziz recalled to us. “It was something few on campus had ever dealt with before. It was crazy and very hurtful.”</p><p dir="ltr">Mael’s antics were consistent with directives outlined in the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” guidebook. “To highlight Israel’s comparatively stellar record on human rights,” the <a href="">35-page pamphlet</a> reads, “we encourage you to hold a mock hanging, mock stoning or mock whipping on your campus.” The pamphlet assures student agitators, “The Freedom Center will provide you with the materials to carry out these protests.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Mael was involved with painting SJP and everyone involved with us as terror sympathizers,” Abdelaziz said. “He was keeping constant tabs on my Facebook statuses and profile pictures.”</p><p dir="ltr">(Full disclosure: One of the writers of this article, Max Blumenthal, had an encounter with Mael. Blumenthal spoke at Brandeis March 4, 2014, where he received a warm and respectful reception his book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. A few students expressed their differences, but did so in civil terms, and stayed after the event to debate. At the time, Mael was away with fellow student activists at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington DC. Before he left town, however, Mael had plastered the campus with <a href="">crudely made fliers</a> painting Blumenthal as “anti-Semitic” and demanding that the school cancel his appearance.)</p><p dir="ltr">Mael has hardly limited his antagonism to anti-Zionists, non-Zionists and BDS campaigners. In fact, he seems to have focused much of his energy on targeting students involved with J Street U, the campus arm of the liberal pro-Israel organization, J Street. When he was a student at Washington University, Mael attacked Elisabeth Housman, a former J Street U National Co-chair who led Washington University’s chapter of the group at the time. He accused her of “anti-Semitism” simply because she organized a screening of Five Broken Cameras, an Oscar-nominated documentary that showcases Palestinian non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation.</p><p dir="ltr">“I always regarded and treated him as a potential ally in my pro-Israel activism, until he made it clear that he had no interest in working together, preferring instead to demonize me and my J Street U peers,” Housman told us. “He works through intimidation and manipulation - to put it mildly - which just was not conducive to what my peers and I were working to accomplish in promoting US political leadership to achieve a two-state solution."</p><p dir="ltr">After transferring from Washington University in St. Louis to Brandeis, Mael continued his ugly confrontations with fellow students, leading to charges of harassment and negative publicity for the university. In November 2013, a former Israeli military spokesperson Barak Raz visited Brandeis on a hasbara tour. During his lecture, Raz <a href="">claimed</a> that no checkpoints existed in the West Bank, prompting Eli Philip, an Israeli-American J Street U member, to protest that Palestinian freedom of movement was routinely obstructed by checkpoints like Qalandia, which separates the West Bank from occupied East Jerusalem.</p><p dir="ltr">Almost immediately, Philip became the target of Mael’s wrath. Mael excoriated him for airing his disagreements with Israeli policy in public, accused him of rupturing Jewish unity, and circulated petitions on campus calling on him to apologize. Philip claimed that Mael routinely sat in the back of J Street U meetings, feverishly jotting notes for files he kept on his adversaries. When Philip filed a harassment complaint against Mael with university administrators, Mael went to the Emergency Committee for Israel, a pro-Netanyahu lobbying group in Washington funded by the neoconservative casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The Emergency Committee hired an attorney at Covington and Burling, a major corporate law firm, to threaten to sue Brandeis, which intimidated the university into dropping the charges against Mael. As soon as Mael was in the clear, a neoconservative activist and Wall Street Journal editorial writer, Sohrab Ahmari, <a href="">conducted an interview</a> with him glorifying his bravery for attacking his classmates and his university. “The problem: Mr. Mael is a pro-Israel man of the right on a campus increasingly hostile to conservatism and the Jewish state. The other problem: The Brandeis administration, as at so many colleges, is more committed to shielding students’ political sensitivities from ‘harassment’ than challenging their minds.”</p><p dir="ltr">The following Spring, Mael targeted Talia Lepson, a Jewish student who was among the leaders of the Brandeis chapter of J Street U. Mael accused Lepson of berating him at the center of campus, calling him a “shitbag” and claiming, “Jews hate you.” Though Mael’s account of the incident remained unsubstantiated, he quickly relayed his story to his neoconservative allies, prompting a flurry of <a href="">articles</a> on right-wing <a href="">websites</a>accusing Lepson of harassing and threatening Mael, who was painted as a blameless honor student and pro-Israel victim-hero. He told the neocon Free Beacon that Lepson was guilty of “hate speech.” The Free Beacon concluded, “The incident also appears to run against Brandeis’s own code of civility…”</p><p dir="ltr">But was Mael telling the truth? According to four Brandeis students who stated they had witnessed the incident, his version was a fabrication. “Talia saw Daniel Mael, said a brief hello to him, and continued walking towards upper campus, exchanging no further words with or about Mael,” the <a href="">statement</a> read, signed by the four witnesses who were present during the alleged incident. “No one else in the group had any interaction with Mael. Talia never called Mael a ‘shit bag,’ nor did she say that ‘Jews hate him.’ As a witness in the situation, I can unequivocally state that these assertions have no basis in reality and are fictitious.”</p><p dir="ltr">Perhaps no incident crystallized the toxic role that Mael played on campus so much as the campaign he waged against an African-American classmate named Khadijah Lynch. Lynch had become a regular participant in the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted nationwide after a spate of police killings of unarmed black men. In December 2014, after the police officer who had choked Eric Garner to death in New York City was cleared of all wrongdoing, Lynch’s simmering anger rose to the surface on her personal Twitter account. Later that month, a mentally deranged African-American man murdered two NYPD officers in Brooklyn, prompting conservative pundits and politicians to blame Black Lives Matter protesters, claiming that the movement had cultivated an atmosphere that endangered cops.</p><p dir="ltr">Lynch took to Twitter in anger, declaring, "I have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today." She added, "lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist fucking country."</p><p dir="ltr">At the time, Lynch had only 81 Twitter followers. Her comments -- as raw and impulsive as they were – might easily have passed unnoticed. But to Mael there was a problem with Lynch that went beyond her remark. She happened to be the undergraduate representative for Brandeis’s African and Afro-American studies department as well as a student senate candidate <a href="">backed</a> by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.</p><p dir="ltr">When Mael took to <a href="">TruthRevolt</a>to sensationalize Lynch’s comments about the murdered NYPD officers, the story spread rapidly in conservative and mainstream media. Reports in the <a href="">Boston Globe</a>, <a href="">Inside Higher Ed</a>, and the usual suspects in right-wing media, including Fox News, which <a href="">hosted</a> Mael on air, prompted a wave of denunciations and demands for harsh punishment. A Facebook Page titled “Expel Khadijah Lynch from Brandeis” became a repository for right-wing bile. Meanwhile, Lynch’s email inbox was suddenly flooded with threats and racist tirades.</p><p dir="ltr">“Fucking nigger bitch,” an emailer named Philip Barnett wrote Lynch on December 21. “I hope you get shot, raped and butchered.”</p><p dir="ltr">“If you ever get a job I will post your tweets to every public venue implicating your employer, [y]ou will be a liability and you will be fired…” promised an emailer named Cody G. “If you don't want to stand behind our police, then feel free to stand in front of them you animal.”</p><p dir="ltr">“You are just a Hypocrite Racist Bitch!” someone named Marshall Brinson wrote to Lynch. “Get Out of Our Country!”</p><p dir="ltr">Lynch was ultimately forced to resign as the undergraduate representative of Brandeis’s African and Afro-American Studies Department, which issued a statement distancing itself from her Twitter remarks. She was unwilling to discuss her interactions with Mael on the record with us, citing her fear of being targeted all over again. “It’s been hard for me to go to class and continue being a normal student,” was all Lynch would say.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>"I’ll take the white supremacists any day”</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-10-02_at_1.46.58_pm.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Chloe Valdary (R) with anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at a gala for the pro-Israel group CAMERA</em></p><p dir="ltr">Seated next to Mael on Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred On Campus” panel last March was another zealous student activist who also represents one of the Israel lobby’s special projects. Chloe Valdary, an African-American Christian Zionist, has emerged as one of the most vehement -- and heavily promoted -- activists against Palestine solidarity on campus.</p><p dir="ltr">A recent graduate of the University of New Orleans, Valdary has received favorable profiles from the <a href="">Jewish Telegraphic Agency</a>, the neoconservative <a href="">Tablet Magazine</a>, and the Times of Israel, a digital news publication that has hosted Canary Mission’s paid advertisements on its site. Although she has remained conspicuously silent about Canary Mission, Valdary has been involved in similar intimidation campaigns against academics who have voiced support for Palestinian rights. In the wake of Canary Mission’s public launch this May, Valdary urged her followers to <a href="">call for</a> the University of Missouri to cancel an honors course on Zionism, which was scheduled for the upcoming Fall semester. The call to censor the course, <a href="">echoed</a> by Horowitz’s FrontPageMag, was based on claims that the course’s prospective instructor, Professor George P. Smith, <a href="">had been critical</a> of Israel’s occupation in the past. “Settlements undermine peace process,” ran the headline on one of his articles.</p><p dir="ltr">Valdary has proven adept at using racial identity politics, making her a key asset to the almost uniformly white pro-Israel lobby. Her <a href="">“letter from an angry black woman”</a> accusing the Students for Justice in Palestine of having “pilfered” the civil rights struggle for a “repugnant agenda” was widely disseminated. In the Horowitz-run TruthRevolt, Valdary <a href="">denounced</a> the critically acclaimed production at the Metropolitan Opera of John Adams’ “The Death of Leon Klinghoffer,” depicting the murder by Palestinian militants of a disabled Jewish man on a cruise ship in the context of the Palestinians’ grievances, to the lynching of a black man by white supremacists. And in a <a href="">video</a> produced by Aish, which appears to play a direct role in administering Canary Mission, Valdary called Islamic extremism “the New Racism,” casting its most ardent opponents as modern day MLK’s.</p><p dir="ltr">During her college years, Valdary received thousands of dollars in funding from CAMERA, a right-wing advocacy organization that brands itself as a media watchdog. AIPAC, the political core of the Israel lobby, paid for Valdary to attend its annual conference in Washington in 2012, and afterward sent her to Israel on an all-expenses paid tour, which she <a href="">described</a> as “life-changing.” But even before her visit, Valdary was a hardcore advocate of what she calls a “Jewish one-state solution” -- of total Jewish dominion over all of historic Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. She has <a href="">claimed</a> that Arabs are the real occupiers of Palestine and that they had historically “subjugated” Jews, who represent the authentic indigenous people of the region.</p><p dir="ltr">Valdary’s far right Zionism may be a product of her affiliation with the <a href="">Intercontinental Church of God</a>, a tiny denomination founded by the late TV evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. Max Valdary, Chloe’s father, <a href="">is a minister</a> in the congregation. On the Jewish holiday of Sukkot this year, he delivered what he titled <a href="">“An Uncle Tom Sermon,”</a> praising Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom slave character as a model Christian.</p><p dir="ltr">"When I read about this man, this Uncle Tom,” the elder Valdary proclaimed, “I don’t see weakness, I see strength…for those who call us Uncle Toms, for those who call us weak, who call us pushovers, they’re doing it because they see Christ in us. Smile! Rejoice!”</p><p dir="ltr">Intercontinental Church of God congregants imitate aspects of traditional Jewish worship and adopt their own biblical-based vision of Jewish history that bears resemblance to fire and brimstone sermons. “‘You are the sons and daughters of former slaves in Egypt, of warrior poets, and kings who slayed giants, and queens filled with courage, and prophets and dreamers,” Valdary bellowed out to a rally of 100 or so right-wing Zionists in New York City. ‘Rise, Zion, rise!’”</p><p dir="ltr">Valdary’s mentor, Pastor Dumisani Washington, has delivered anti-Arab diatribes before <a href="">mostly white audiences</a> at numerous pro-Israel campus organizations, including a group <a href="">within</a> Columbia University’s Hillel. Washington is a pastor of <a href="">The Congregation of Zion</a>, a small evangelical church inspired by Hebrew Roots theology. This relatively new theological trend claims that modern Christianity has strayed from its origins in First Century AD Rome, when Jesus supposedly adhered to traditional Jewish practices. For her part, Valdary observes the Hebrew calendar, including the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish holidays, within a distinctly Christian framework. Her theology emphasizes the importance of a religiously exclusive Jewish state in all of historic Palestine.</p><p dir="ltr">Pastor Washington’s organization, the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), which has previously employed Valdary, claims its mission is to “strengthen solidarity with the Jewish state among Black Americans and other communities of color.” Yet IBSI has little record of organizing outside the mostly white audiences cultivated by top-heavy, pro-Israel lobbying organizations. Washington also works as the “Diversity Outreach Coordinator” for Christians United For Israel (CUFI), a Christian Zionist group founded by the ultra-conservative Republican Pastor John Hagee, who once hosted a <a href="">mock slave auction</a> to raise money for evangelical high school students.</p><p dir="ltr">IBSI appears to owe its existence to the need to provide an almost entirely white, billionaire-backed movement with a veneer of diversity and a dash of black history. As IBSI’s <a href=""></a> mission statement explains, the group aims to “expose the hypocrisy of anti-Israel Arab Islamists (such as Hamas) who condone and benefit from the trafficking and sale of African slaves, while feigning solidarity with Black people.”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite their appeals to fellow African-Americans, Washington and Valdary are unlikely to win many over with their vehement condemnations of the black-led protests against police violence. In a video produced by the right-wing Jewish radio jock Dennis Prager, Valdary <a href="">proclaimed</a> that the black protesters at  Ferguson and their white progressive allies are a greater threat to the United States than the Ku Klux Klan. “I’ll take the white supremacists any day [over black rioters],” she declared. “First, there are very few of them and they have no power. Second, I can easily prove them wrong. But how do I shake off the condescenders, the patronizers?”</p><p dir="ltr">For his part, Washington has repeatedly taken to Twitter to inveigh against the protests in Ferguson and other cities against police brutality. In one instance, Washington <a href="">promoted</a> an editorial published by American Renaissance, an <a href="">openly white nationalist</a>organization whose founders consider blacks to be genetically inferior. “Most blacks are unable to speak English well,” the piece read. “They cannot conjugate verbs…[Blacks] show a complete lack of empathy and are unable to conceal a morality based on the satisfaction of immediate, base needs.”</p><p dir="ltr">When later asked on Twitter why he promoted this racist screed, Washington deflected the question with <a href="">personal attacks</a>. Valdary, for her part, has <a href="">described</a> an author of this article, Blumenthal, as an anti-Semite in commentary co-authored by Daniel Mael. She responded to questions about Canary Mission with <a href="">deflections</a>. “I am so beyond you,” she wrote. Her Twitter cover features an Israeli soldier holding an automatic rifle above a caption that reads, “Nice Jewish Boy.”</p><p dir="ltr">Despite their penchant for embarrassing gaffes, Valdary and Washington maintain their value to the pro-Israel lobby through their sheer presence. As Morton Klein, president of the far-right Zionist Organization of America, <a href="">said</a> of Valdary to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Because so many prominent black leaders are hostile to Israel, it makes it even more powerful to have someone who’s black supporting Israel.”</p><p dir="ltr">Upon graduating this year, Valdary’s pro-Israel fervor was rewarded with an editorial fellowship, now reporting directly to Bret Stephens, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, who <a href="">suggested</a> on the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima that the US should also nuke Iran. There, she would work alongside WSJ assistant books editor <a href="">Jessica Kasmer Jacobs</a>, the daughter of Charles Jacobs, who first promoted Valdary through his pro-Israel outfit.</p><p dir="ltr">Mael joined Valdary in New York City, where he went to work for the Gatestone Institute, a neoconservative online media outfit <a href="">funded by the heiress Nina Rosenwald</a> who extensively finances the Islamophobia industry and serves as a <a href="">board member</a> at CAMERA.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, another budding activist was dispatched to Boston for a special project. He was at least as ideologically extreme as Valdary and Mael, and even more aggressive.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The “Fighting Jew”</strong></p><br /><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-10-02_at_2.15.45_pm_0.png" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p dir="ltr"><em> Elliot Hamilton has vowed that Palestine solidarity campaigners “will be faced with the humiliating force that is the pro-Israel community.”</em></p><p dir="ltr">On a CAMERA-sponsored trip to Israel this June, a young man named Elliott Hamilton visited the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. When he came across a group of parked United Nations peacekeeper vehicles, Hamilton fantasized about vandalizing them. “Surprised I didn’t slash the tires before ditching [the UN truck],” Hamilton <a href="">mused</a> on Twitter.</p><p dir="ltr">Though not as prominent as Mael and Valdary, who each earned profiles in pro-Israel publications, Hamilton was at least as belligerent during his time at Pitzer College in California, from which he recently graduated. “Canary Mission definitely fits his personality and that of the all the various organizations he’s affiliated with,” a former classmate of Hamilton’s told us. “It goes perfectly with his history of trying to excommunicate people and target pro-Palestine activists.” (Hamilton <a href="">refused</a>to reply to questions we sent him about Canary Mission. He has an <a href="">extensive</a> <a href="">record</a> of leveling invective against both authors on Twitter.).</p><p dir="ltr">Hamilton has been among the activists featured in Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative. At Horowitz’s West Coast retreat this year, Hamilton delivered a frenetic, almost <a href="">hyper-ventilating performance</a> that blended denunciations of pro-Palestine evildoers with unsubstantiated tales of anti-Semitic persecution on American college campuses. As he built his jeremiad to a shrieking conclusion, the self-styled <a href="">“Fighting Jew”</a> demanded an iron fist to hammer what he called “a cancer, festering, metastasizing on our campus.”  </p><p dir="ltr">“If someone’s attacking you, you don’t wait for the punch to come to you. If someone’s gonna strike you, you block the strike and then you counter!” Hamilton boomed. Affecting the menacing tone of a hardboiled action film vigilante, Hamilton pledged that Students for Justice in Palestine “will be faced with the humiliating force that is the pro-Israel community.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the same speech, Hamilton mentioned that he had been consulting with his “really good friend” Frank Luntz on crafting his language to appeal to moderates on campus. One of the most widely recognized Republican public relations consultants and pollsters, Luntz earned renown in 1996 when he crafted a memo for Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the House, called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Luntz went on to get lucrative contracts with Enron, ExxonMobil and, later, the financial industry, which hired him to help undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has been a regular presence on Fox News. In 2010, Luntz produced a <a href="">116-page manual</a> on hasbara for the The Israel Project. Throughout the document, Luntz urges activists to lead attacks on their enemies by “start[ing] with empathy for both sides first,” feigning humility and concern for Palestinian children before attacking opponents as sympathizers of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite his admiration for a self-styled PR wizard like Luntz, Hamilton has not learned to emulate Luntz’s nuance. Hamilton <a href=""></a> claims he suffered from “bullying in Hebrew school” and “the question of identity in an interfaith family.” His sense of Jewish belonging, he says, stabilized only after he thrust himself into full-time Israel advocacy. At Pitzer College, Hamilton joined the <a href="">strongly pro-Israel fraternity AEPi</a>and began gravitating towards the local chapter of Chabad, a messianic ultra-Orthodox group that is closely affiliated with the settler movement in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Hamilton also kept close ties with Armageddon-ready Christian Zionists. He was filmed cheering on evangelicals as they danced a hora at the Christians United For Israel summit held in the midst of Israel’s war in Gaza in July 2014.</p><p dir="ltr"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Back at Pitzer, Hamilton <a href=""></a> quit Hillel, the leading Jewish organization on American college campuses, rejecting the group’s refusal to boycott liberal Jewish supporters of Israel. Hamilton founded Claremont Students for Israel, a CAMERA-backed activist group that was well to the right of the three pre-existing pro-Israel clubs on campus. And like Mael, he attacked Jewish classmates who criticized Israel.</p><p dir="ltr">According to a former classmate of Hamilton’s who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, Hamilton “has a history of obnoxious ad hominem attacks.”</p><p dir="ltr">In one instance, Hamilton lashed out at a Jewish classmate who posted on her Facebook wall a fact sheet on Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. “Stop being an anti-Semitic Jew and actually support your people’s right to self-determination instead of acting as an apologist for Jew-hating terror,” Hamilton demanded. “Try not to be more of a disgrace to the Jewish community than you have been already.”</p><p dir="ltr">In April, Hamilton delivered his <a href="">final address</a> as a campus pro-Israel advocate. Speaking before an audience convened in <a href="">partnership</a> between his Claremont Students for Israel and Horowitz’s “Jew Hatred on Campus” initiative, Hamilton took aim at liberal Jews. “It’s the self-proclaimed liberal zealots who revise Zionism’s history in order to fit a ridiculous narrative that perpetuates Jew-hatred,” he proclaimed. ‘Even Jews have taken part in this anti-Zionist blacklist, using their Jewish identity as a justification for acquiring a moral high ground.”</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of his speech he triumphantly announced that he had just been hired by Charles Jacobs, the ultra-Zionist founder of CAMERA and co-founder with Daniel Pipes of the blacklisting website, Campus Watch.</p><p dir="ltr">This May, Hamilton began work at Jacobs’ Boston-based lobbying outfit, which calls itself Americans for Peace and Tolerance. There, he would learn at the knee of one of the pioneers in blacklisting Palestine solidarity activists, a figure whose dossiers have formed a substantial part of Canary Mission’s glossary.</p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:28:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Julia Carmel, AlterNet 1043407 at Investigations Investigations The Right Wing World Israel palestine zionism blumenthal investigation israeli bds Exposed: Pro-Israel Modern Day McCarthyites Going to Extremes to Slime Human Rights Activists <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">As pro-Israel extremism reaches new depths with the notorious Canary Mission project, the FBI investigates growing threats against BDS activists.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-09-30_at_2.24.50_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr"><em>This article is part one of a four-part investigation. Read part two <a href="">here.</a></em></p><p dir="ltr">The Israel lobby is redirecting resources to a new project after its failure to stop the Iran nuclear deal despite spending an estimated $30 million to halt it. Following the defeat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a campaign against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that is spreading on American college campuses. The funding is flowing from donors closely linked to Netanyahu’s government. But the effort has almost instantly run into trouble. It is inspiring an atmosphere of incitement and intimidation, and the FBI is now investigating violent threats made against BDS activists.  </p><p dir="ltr">The BDS movement has gathered momentum at a staggering pace since it was devised by Palestinian civil society groups in 2005. With its call for grassroots level boycotts to pressure Israel into respecting the human rights of Palestinians, the movement has spread across European capitals and found fertile soil on American college campuses. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace now boast chapters at almost every major university, and student governments at most University of California campuses have passed resolutions to divest from occupation-linked corporations. The trend is sending shockwaves through pro-Israel circles, prompting a desperate multi-million dollar campaign to crush it. </p><p dir="ltr">The anti-BDS effort is a new wrinkle in the old culture war. It involves old actors and new activists. The old ones consist of neoconservative operators who have learned how to create causes to benefit from millions of dollars given by right-wing donors. Infused with new millions from the likes of billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer, they are recruiting from a new generation of conservative activists gathered around right-wing organizations and social networks. The sensibility of these activists is virulently Islamophobic, anti-Arab and conditioned by the cultural resentments of the far right. Those attracted to this crusade are typically Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians enraptured by Israel’s settlement enterprise, the militarized occupation and the Republican Party. They also feel that they are just as threatened by Black Lives Matter as they are by the BDS movement. With encouragement from veteran right-wing operatives, these heavily funded and promoted young zealots have turned to surveillance of their opponents, engaged in monitoring Palestine solidarity activists on social media and at public events and are compiling selective dossiers to smear activists as anti-Semites and even terrorist sympathizers.</p><p dir="ltr">The directive for the anti-BDS movement comes from Jerusalem, where the Israeli government has also provided an example, introducing measures to defund human rights NGOs and approving sanctions against Israeli citizens who support BDS. Netanyahu <a href="">has created a special ministerial post</a> for countering BDS, and the <a href="">Israeli army recently announced</a> its intention to monitor groups involved in boycott campaigns across the globe. Ofir Akunis, a rising star of the Likud Party and member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, distilled the government’s mindset <a href="">when he insisted</a> that Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Communist witch-hunter of the early 1950s, “was right in every word he said.”</p><p dir="ltr">In the aftermath of Netanyahu’s failed campaign against the Iran deal, his American front groups and funders are still holding the reins of the pro-Israel lobby and riding it further toward the far fringes of the right wing. Its new efforts are driving a polarizing atmosphere at every institution where its presence is felt.</p><p>One of its main expressions can be found on the website of a semi-secret organization, created, as Akunis suggested, in the spirit of Joe McCarthy. This website attempts to stigmatize college students for their political views and deprive them of future jobs as punishment.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>McCarthyism 2.0</strong></p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="346" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="346" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-09-30_at_3.01.09_pm.png" /></div><p dir="ltr"><em>Neoconservative ideologue Daniel Pipes acted as a go-between for Canary Mission</em></p><p dir="ltr">Canary Mission made its debut in April as a website tarring students with <a href="">derogatory labels</a> — “fake Jew” was how the site labeled one leading Students for Justice in Palestine activist. Even more disturbingly, its anonymous operators published bits and pieces of information with the stated aim of denying future employment opportunities to the students they had targeted.</p><p dir="ltr">Claiming to be operated by “students and concerned citizens,” who were not identified, Canary Mission is essentially a blacklist of students, academics and activists involved with pro-Palestine solidarity activities on campus. “It is your duty to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,” the anonymous female narrator of a <a href="">promotional video</a> posted on Canary Mission’s website declared. In their campaign against supporters of the BDS movement, Canary Mission’s masked staffers have vilified more than 140 activists, many of whom are current or recent students enrolled in the University of California system.</p><p dir="ltr">Canary Mission does not list the names of any of its staff members, financial backers or affiliated organizations. It is an anonymous venture; those involved have taken extensive steps to conceal their identities.  No reporter has yet been able to connect Canary Mission to any single funder or organization, despite the fact that the organization solicits tax-deductible donations via its website and mailing list. However, according to our review of IRS 990 tax filings, Canary Mission is not currently registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, suggesting that the group’s donations are instead channeled through an unknown pro-Israel parent organization that is registered. (Any organization that solicits tax deductible donations without maintaining valid IRS status is in violation of multiple federal laws).</p><p dir="ltr">When we contacted him by email, <a href="">Middle East Forum founder Daniel Pipes</a> stepped forward to act as a de facto spokesman for Canary Mission. A hardline neoconservative ideologue and former George W. Bush administration appointee to the US Institute for Peace, <a href="">Pipes has called</a> for razing entire Palestinian villages and <a href="">urged the US</a> to “help whichever side is losing [in Syria] so as to prolong the conflict.” While Pipes denied that he had any involvement in the Canary Mission venture, he admitted to us that he knew who was behind the site. Claiming to be communicating messages from Canary Mission’s real administrators, Pipes provided us with comments on their behalf.</p><p dir="ltr">When we asked why Canary Mission’s creators have insisted on remaining anonymous, Pipes stated, “I was told they do not want to distract from the subject at hand.”</p><p dir="ltr">Pipes later explained to us that “[Canary Mission’s goal of] collecting information on students has particular value because it signals [to] them that calumnying [sic] Israel is serious business, not some inconsequential collegiate prank; and that their actions can damage both Israel and their future careers.” He justified the site’s tactics by adding that “anti-Zionist elements frequently engage in exactly this practice of aggregating information.”</p><p dir="ltr">Besides Middle East Forum, Pipes is the founder of an online venture called Campus Watch comprised of dossiers on professors he considered “anti-Israel” — a blacklist with a strong resemblance to Canary Mission that targeted some of the very same individuals, and which also encouraged pro-Israel students to <a href="">surveil their professors.</a> He has <a href="">accused Arabs and Muslims</a> in the US of hatching a secret plot to “make the United States a Muslim country” and warned that “Middle East Studies has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who bring their views with them.” Many of those who appear on Pipes’ Campus Watch blacklist report being bombarded with violent threats and hostile email campaigns from mostly unnamed sources.</p><p dir="ltr">Unlike Campus Watch, which Pipes freely acknowledges as his own, Canary Mission’s administrators have gone to extreme lengths to keep the site’s funders and orchestrators a top secret. And it appears to be with good reason: Not only does Canary Mission seek to deny future employment opportunities to students who participate in Palestine solidarity activities, it also seems intent on cultivating an atmosphere of intimidation in which activists, academics and journalists are fair game for threats that include rape and violence and insults that are often racist.</p><p dir="ltr">Just a few weeks after the site’s launch, threats leveled by anonymous Twitter accounts, including several linked to Canary Mission, prompted an active FBI investigation.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>FBI investigates hate crimes, domestic terror</strong></p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="273" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="273" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-09-30_at_3.54.22_pm.png" /></div><p dir="ltr">As a former law student at Boston’s Northeastern University who has actively campaigned with the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, Max Geller is no stranger to character attacks and threats from pro-Israel activists. When the Boston-based right-wing Zionist donor Charles Jacobs — a possible orchestrator of Canary Mission — began lobbying Northeastern U’s administration to ban the school’s SJP chapter, he set up a Facebook page called “Exposing Islamic Extremism at Northeastern.” Soon, the <a href="">violent threats came pouring in</a>, with one commenter on the page writing of Geller, “I would seriously introduce that kid to the inside of an ambulance.” When his parents’ home address appeared on the Facebook page, Geller said he began receiving threats targeting his family.</p><p dir="ltr">Geller <a href=" Masada2000">pointed to the website</a>, a defunct anti-Palestinian blacklisting site operated by the violent extremist Jewish Defense League, as the true model for Canary Mission. “The dossiers and the website [of Canary Mission] seem to be primarily concerned with impacting Google search results,” Geller told us. “But the presence of Twitter handles and personal Facebook pages on the dossiers seem to be devoted to getting activists threatened. Canary Mission seems to be specifically designed to give individual students a cost benefit analysis as to whether they work with these activists that appear on the website.”</p><p>Noting that he and several other activists who appeared on Canary Mission had already received a renewed torrent of violent warnings, Geller reflected, “If joining a divestment campaign on campus translates into getting rape threats and racial epithets thrown at you, some people might just second guess whether they want to do that. So this website is not just about not getting people employed, it’s about much more, which is why they give people ways of getting in touch with the activists who are profiled. And by getting in touch, I mean bullying and threatening.”</p><p>Among those who have been bombarded with violent abuse since appearing on Canary Mission’s website is Rebecca Pierce, a Jewish African-American videographer and recent graduate of University of California-Santa Cruz. On June 2, less than two weeks after <a href="">Pierce appeared</a> as Canary Mission’s “Radical of the Day,” she began receiving <a href="">racist attacks</a> and <a href="">rape threats</a> from @RememberMasada, an anonymous Twitter user followed by Canary Mission’s Twitter account. (Masada may have been a reference to the defunct blacklisting site Masada 2000). “I know all you niggers hate Jews because you’re envious of us,” <a href="">wrote @RememberMasada</a>. The account went on to call Pierce a “kapo,” or Jewish concentration camp guard, telling her, “Only good kapo is a dead kapo.”</p><p dir="ltr">After @RememberMasada threatened to rape Pierce, another Twitter user named @HippyKiller12 suddenly materialized. “I found you on Canary, God bless those people,” the <a href="">user said</a>. “If SJP is allowed on campus, why not KKK?”</p><p>When Pierce protested her inclusion on the Canary Mission blacklist, complaining of racist abuse and violent threats, Canary Mission’s Twitter account addressed her directly with an ominous reply: “[W]e got your request to be off the CM list. If you're able to demonstrate good behavior for a few years it will be considered.”</p><p dir="ltr">With regard to this response from their own official Twitter account, Canary Mission’s staffers stated through Pipes, “It is not our responsibility to respond and deal with Twitter trolls who follow either us or Miss Pierce.</p><p>“Having said that, we took her complaints seriously and looked into the offending account and noticed it had already been banned by Twitter.  We ourselves abhor all forms of physical violence and racism — this is why we started Canary Mission in the first place. Rebecca Pierce allies herself with racists, radicals and bigots.”</p><p dir="ltr">Rania Khalek, a journalist and outspoken BDS advocate who has contributed to AlterNet, was also <a href="">targeted by @RememberMasada</a>: “@RaniaKhalek is an evil Arab supremacist whore who should be raped to death.” Two days later, a Twitter user named @RaniaKhalekRaped and featuring a photo of Khalek and two female relatives as its avatar began bombarding her with <a href="">death threats</a>: “I’ll tie you up and burn you alive, carve a swastika onto each of your tits,” wrote @RaniaKhalekRaped. “I know you Arabs like swastikas.”</p><p dir="ltr">The Canary Mission dismissed any responsibility for these threats, telling us through Pipes, “Rania Khalek is not currently profiled by Canary Mission. It is a stretch of the imagination to blame us for complaints against her.”</p><p dir="ltr">Another pro-Israel Twitter user calling themselves @BobbyShaftoe314 <a href="">fantasized about the Israeli Mossad</a> assassinating one of this article’s authors, Max Blumenthal. The same user has engaged in ongoing <a href="">friendly Twitter</a> exchanges <a href="">with the account</a> anonymously maintained by Canary Mission.</p><p>When Khalek contacted the FBI about the threats, FBI Agent Keith Pali informed her that his bureau had launched an investigation through its Counter-Terrorism division. On Aug. 12, Khalek received a letter from FBI Victim Specialist Greg Lott informing her that “a criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking, and, for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time.”</p><p dir="ltr">A separate FBI Counter-Terrorism <a href="http://">investigation published this May</a> found that right-wing extremists are “expanding their target sets to include Muslims and Islamic religious institutions in the United States.” The investigation cited anti-Muslim bloggers like Pamela Geller (no relation to Max Geller) as inspirations to the militia-oriented radicals seeking to attack Muslim targets in the US. Though the FBI bulletin did not make mention of it, pro-Israel organizations within Geller’s ideological network are adopting tactics previously identified with violent extremist outfits like the Jewish Defense League. Chief among them is the shadowy Canary Mission.</p><p dir="ltr">“Canary Mission is the first organized attempt to get [Palestine solidarity] activists in this country threatened,” Max Geller stated. “No good can come of this website existing. It can only legitimize volatile people’s narratives and motivate them to do violent things. And I also think the creators of this project wouldn’t feel that bad if some lone wolf was radicalized by what they read and did something crazy. In fact, it might be what they’re hoping for.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Canary’s links to the Israeli government and settlement enterprise</strong></p><p dir="ltr"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="359" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="359" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2015-09-30_at_3.05.01_pm.png" /></div><p dir="ltr"><em>Hasbara Fellows Complete Their First Day of Social Media Training At Aish’s World Center</em></p><p dir="ltr">Overlooking the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem stands a cavernous complex of offices called the <a href="">Aish World Center</a>. Operating on prime occupied land awarded to it by the Israeli government, Aish is a modern Orthodox, pro-settler organization that exists for the ostensible purpose of educating unaffiliated Jewish students in religious practice. While the group invests some of its energy on Jewish education, it also functions as a nerve center for pro-Israel fundraising and hasbara, or propaganda. Through Aish, an array of pro-Israel and anti-Muslim propaganda vehicles have been produced, from the virulently Islamophobic <a href="">Third Jihad and Obsession</a> films distributed en masse to American swing state voters on Election Day to <a href="">Set The Red Line,</a> an astroturfed film project hyping the threat of Iran’s nuclear program. With help from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Aish created a so-called <a href="">Hasbara Fellowships</a> program to train Jewish college students to propagandize for Israel on campuses in the US.</p><p>Our investigation into Canary Mission and its affiliates has identified Aish as an apparent administrator of the blacklisting website.</p><p dir="ltr">In August, Canary Mission shut down its Facebook page after a group of Internet sleuths obtained the recovery email for the site, which they then supplied to us. It was a Gmail address belonging to <a href="">Todd Rosenblatt</a>, a Jewish American photographer and video editor working at Aish’s World Center in Jerusalem. Rosenblatt has promoted and apparently participated in the Onward Israel Video Activism Summer Fellowship that Aish advertises on its website. This program is operated by a former Aish staffer named Jonathan Bash who was recently <a href="">identified by reporter</a> Joshua Nathan-Kazis as one of the likely administrators of Canary Mission.</p><p dir="ltr">Bash identifies as the director of a little-known hasbara operation called Video Activism that appears to be one of the many front groups spun out by Aish. This group coordinates the Video Activism Summer Fellowship through the Jewish Agency, which is funded largely by Israel’s government. Despite denying any role in Canary Mission, a video posted by Bash’s organization this July “features a voiceover by a narrator who sounds identical to the narrator who did a voiceover for a video posted by the Canary Mission in May,” according to Nathan-Kazis. Bash <a href="">has promoted the Canary Mission’s promotional video</a> on his personal YouTube channel.</p><p dir="ltr">In another apparent slip-up, Canary Mission directed website visitors not to its own Twitter profile, but to the Twitter account of a South African resident of Israel named Warren “Betzalel” Lapidus. Though ostensibly employed by Video Activism, Lapidus has listed Aish as his employer on his Facebook page. The mistake prompted Canary Mission to temporarily take down its website, but the damage to its secrecy had already been done.</p><p dir="ltr">So who or what exactly is directing Canary Mission? All clues point to Aish, but from there, the trail could lead anywhere. Indeed, Aish is a gargantuan organization that <a href="">claims to operate</a> “30 branches on six continents.” Canary Mission appears to be a collaborative effort involving a constellation of right-wing pro-Israel groups, most of which are based in the United States. A <a href="">video</a> promoted <a href="">by Rosenblatt in May</a> and produced by an obscure Israeli hasbara organization called the Hallelu Foundation outlines how Aish likely administers Canary Mission’s resources.</p><p dir="ltr">Declaring that Israel’s propaganda “is as important as its borders,” the video’s narrator explains that “the Hallelu fund plans to become an umbrella organization for all Jewish organizations in Israel and abroad that deal with hasbara. It will support them, coordinate and optimize their abilities, so that for the first time, forces will be integrated and will have strategic, coordinated action in this most important arena.”</p><p dir="ltr">According to the narrator, Hallelu “plans to start a series of unprecedented attack campaigns, the likes of which we’ve never seen, both in terms of content and in range, accompanied by first class professionals.”</p><p dir="ltr">Whether or not the Canary Mission is one of those campaigns, the Hallelu video offers a fairly clear picture of how hasbara functions. To the extent that Aish has a role in Canary Mission, it likely serves as a general manager while the frontline players do battle on the American field, conducting surveillance of campus organizers and left-wing academics, and compiling information in online dossiers. It is a team effort involving an array of cadres and organizations united by the singular goal of driving Palestine solidarity activism underground.</p><p dir="ltr">On the eve of the anticipated launch of Canary Mission earlier this year, key members of this network gathered in California to roll out a new initiative that one of its leaders described as a “guerilla campaign,” which would rely on the McCarthyite tactics that are the hallmark of his career.</p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:58:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Julia Carmel, AlterNet 1043287 at The Right Wing Activism Civil Liberties Media The Right Wing World canary mission 10 Places AIPAC Would Never Show Members of Congress on Their Upcoming Propaganda Trip <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A tour of the &quot;real Israel&quot; would show members of Congress the ugly truth behind Israel&#039;s propaganda. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_103952651.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>58 members of Congress will be in Israel in the coming days on a tour sponsored by the America Israel Education Foundation, an arm of the pro-Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC. Though AIPAC claims the trip is an annual ritual with no connection to the increasingly rancorous debate over the Iran nuclear deal, the trip offers Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a key opportunity for face-to-face fear mongering with some of the lawmakers who control the deal’s fate.</p><p dir="ltr">After the Republican delegation visits Israel, 22 Democrats — including several who represent key swing votes on the deal — will be shepherded through the AIPAC tour by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, an Israel lobby favorite. The freshmen legislators will visit all the requisite destinations, from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has featured exhibits <a href="">accusing</a> Palestinians of a central role in the Jewish genocide in Europe, to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who likes to present influential visitors with a <a href="">special ring</a> he purchased in a local pawn shop that supposedly legitimizes Israeli control over Jerusalem.</p><p dir="ltr">As a journalist who has covered the crisis in the Holy Land for several years, I have composed a tour route that might allow congressional newcomers to the situation to expand their understanding of Israel beyond the strict limitations imposed by their AIPAC-endorsed guides. They should engage with the reality of Israel, not only within the illusory realm of “Israel proper,” but in the Jews-only settlements and Palestinian ghettoes that make up the Occupied Territories. And they should meet the people who elected Netanyahu and the most right-wing governing coalition in Israel’s history.</p><p dir="ltr">So here is a list of a few places every member of Congress — and every American — should consider visiting on a trip to the Holy Land.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Dimona</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Israel is the only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons. Yet according to its policy of nuclear ambiguity, which the US government has faithfully honored, the self-proclaimed Jewish state refuses to acknowledge its arsenal and <a href="">will not allow</a> International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to inspect it. Unlike Iran, Israel has <a href="">refused</a> to sign the Nuclear Non-Profileration Agreement. Away from the scrutiny of international inspectors, Israel has produced scores of nuclear warheads along with a <a href="">Jericho missile delivery system</a> that puts much of Europe within striking range. According to journalist Seymour Hersh, Israel received an emergency package of military aid from the US during the 1973 war through “<a href="">nuclear blackmail</a>,” or threatening to blanket the Middle East in a hail of nuclear destruction if Washington failed to accede to its demands.</p><p dir="ltr">For those lawmakers who aren’t too hung over from the <a href="">drunken skinny dipping outings</a> that AIPAC has sponsored at the Sea of Galilee, a detour to Dimona is a must. In this economically depressed southern Israeli city, members of Congress will find the location of the nuclear weapons plant that the Israeli government officially refers to as a “textile factory.”</p><p dir="ltr">But a word of caution: When former Israeli member of Knesset Issam Makhoul publicly condemned his country’s nuclear program, he was <a href="">targeted</a> with a sophisticated car bomb. <a href="">Mordechai Vanunu</a> has not yet escaped the nightmare that began when he blew the whistle on Dimona. After being kidnapped by Mossad agents in the UK, Vanunu spent <a href="">12 years in tortuous solitary confinement</a> in an Israeli prison. He is still <a href=",7340,L-4687559,00.html">prevented</a> from traveling outside the country and <a href="">barred</a> from speaking to the press.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>2. “The Arab room”</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Members of Congress don’t have to travel far to see one of the first places many Americans are forced to visit as soon as they arrive to the Holy Land. It is the so-called “Arab room” inside Ben Gurion International Airport where Americans of Palestinian and Arab descent are interrogated and humiliated by Israel’s Shin Bet. The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee has said it <a href="">registered</a> around 100 complaints a year from Americans of Arab descent who said they had been denied entry by Israeli security services on the basis of their ethnicity. Before being deported, these unfortunate travelers were first flagged by racial profiling agents and sent to the “Arab room.”</p><p dir="ltr">Among the Americans most recently <a href="">deported</a> by Israel is Susan Abulhawa, the best-selling author of the critically acclaimed book, “Mornings in Jenin.” “This is our Israel. This is for Jews. No Palestinian should come to Israel,” an Israeli security officer <a href="">said</a> a few days later as he deported George Khoury, a Palestinian-American professor on his way to visit his birthplace in Jerusalem. Though Israel’s policy of denial <a href="">focuses</a> disproportionately on Arabs, American Jews like Julia Carmel Salazar have been <a href="">deported</a> as well on suspicion that they were on their way to meet Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.</p><p dir="ltr">A State Department webpage where Americans can report discrimination and denial of entry by Israel is <a href="">currently out of service</a>. “File not found” is all that appears when you <a href="">click</a> over to it.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Ofer Military Prison</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Just inside the occupied West Bank stands a gigantic military prison called Ofer. Inside are Palestinians who have been jailed for crimes against the occupation. Many are children who were  <a href="">arrested</a>, often <a href="">late at night</a>, by Israeli soldiers and coerced into confessing to stone throwing. Others are leaders of unarmed protest movements like frequent Ofer resident Bassem Tamimi, who was  <a href="">named</a> by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. Prisoners like Tamimi are usually jailed without charges and wait months before being sentenced by a judge who works for the Israeli military. The <a href="">conviction</a> rate in Israel’s kangaroo courts is 99.74%.</p><p dir="ltr">While many diplomats from the EU have visited Ofer, to my knowledge, no sitting member of Congress has been inside its gates. The Real Israel tour would not be complete without a visit to Ofer’s children’s court, where defendants as young as 13 are brought in chains to testify before military judges and prosecutors.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Teddy Stadium</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Members of Congress who want to see one of Israel’s best soccer teams in action should make their way down to Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium for a Beitar Jerusalem match. There, they can witness Beitar’s “ultras” — its hardcore fan base — bellow out “Death to Arabs!” after goals while <a href="">waving flags</a> honoring the late terrorist gang leader Meir Kahane. Beitar ultras have also <a href=",7340,L-4037569,00.html">participated</a> in lethal attacks on unarmed Palestinians around Jerusalem, <a href="">rioted</a> against Arabs in the local Malha Mall, and <a href="">attacked</a> leftists protesting last summer’s assault on Gaza. When Beitar captain Aviram Baruchyan mentioned that he wouldn’t mind playing on a team beside an Arab, he was immediately forced to <a href=",7340,L-3808080,00.html">apologize</a> to outraged fans for the grave transgression.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Zion Square</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Zion Square is the heart of central Jerusalem’s commercial district, a favorite haunt for international revelers, and the site of an increasing number of “Death to Arabs!” marches. After grabbing a cup of frozen yogurt, lawmakers should make their way over to the organizing table manned by <a href="">Lehava</a>, an organization dedicated to preventing romantic relationships between Jewish women and Arab men. For legislators representing districts located below the Mason-Dixon line, this stop on the Real Israel tour might offer a trip down memory lane.</p><p dir="ltr">Led by Benzi Gopstein, a disciple of the late terrorist leader Meir Kahane, Lehava supporters have been involved in an array of attacks on young Palestinian, <a href="http://">menaced</a> African asylum seekers, <a href="">incited</a> against homosexuals just hours before a stabbing spree at this year’s Jerusalem Pride Parade, and torched the only integrated Jewish-Arab elementary school in Jerusalem. Lehava leaders like Gopstein were <a href="">invited</a> to testify before the Knesset on the dangers of integration by Tzipi Hotovely, who currently serves as Israel’s acting Foreign Minister. Lehava’s sister organization, Hemla, which was also founded by disciples of Meir Kahane, has <a href="">received</a> hundreds of thousands in annual funding through the Israeli government’s Social Affairs Ministry.</p><p dir="ltr">Evangelical members of the Republican congressional delegation are encouraged to quiz Gopstein about his recent <a href="">call</a> for the mass burning of churches.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>6. Kiryat Arba and Hebron</strong></p><p dir="ltr">There are few sites in Israeli-controlled territory that contain as much recent historic significance of the memorial constructed in honor of Baruch Goldstein.</p><p dir="ltr">A <a href=",7340,L-3857671,00.html">hero</a> of hardcore settlers, he emigrated to Israel from his ancestral homeland of Brooklyn, NY before <a href="">massacring</a> 29 Palestinian worshippers in cold blood at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in 1994. The killings touched off a wave of retaliatory suicide bombings and sent the Holy Land spiraling into violence.</p><p dir="ltr">In a neatly tended park in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, not far from the site of the massacre, stands a <a href="">stone grave memorial</a> honoring Goldstein and his legacy. Members of Congress will find little stones left on Goldstein’s grave by visitors expressing their mourning — and respect — for the terrorist. And they can read the inscription on his grave: “The revered Dr. Baruch Kapel Goldstein… Son of Israel. He gave his soul for the sake of the people of Israel, The Torah, and the Land. His hands are clean and his heart good… He was assassinated for the Sanctity of God.”</p><p dir="ltr">After visiting Goldstein’s shrine, lawmakers should take a stroll through the narrow lanes of Hebron’s Old City, which lies just a short way from Kiryat Arba. There, Palestinian shopkeepers rely on a <a href="">steel net</a> to protect themselves from the bricks and soiled diapers that settlers and their children dump on them each day. Beyond the market is <a href="">Shuhada Street</a>, a Jews-only road where hundreds of Palestinian shops have been closed by the Israeli military. Lawmakers from New York will immediately recognize the accents of the settlers parading down the eerily empty street, while those from open carry states like Arizona might appreciate the sight of the machine guns slung over these patriotic rebels’ shoulders. The settlers have also put their artistic talent on display with graffiti on Palestinian homes that reads, “<a href="">Gas the Arabs</a>.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>7. Al Araqib</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Lawmakers seeking a first-hand look at how Israel makes the desert bloom might consider a trip to the little Bedouin village of <a href="">Al Araqib</a>. Nestled comfortably inside the territory that Peter Beinart refers to as “democratic Israel,” Al Araqib is among the scores of unrecognized villages dotting the Negev Desert whose residents are unable to receive public services because they are not Jews. In order to make way for a forest planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a tax exempt US-based non-profit, Israeli bulldozers and riot police have <a href="">destroyed</a> Al Araqib over 80 times, forcing its homeless residents to live in the village cemetery while <a href="">billing</a> them $500,000 for the demolitions. The JNF’s planned forest has received handsome financial <a href="">support</a> from British End Timers Rory and Wendy Alec, who have urged their followers to help them “beautify the land of Israel for the return of the Messiah.” The project shows how Israel creates interfaith opportunities in the unlikeliest of places — even on the ruins of a demolished Bedouin town.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>8. Holot</strong></p><p dir="ltr">“This country belongs to us, the white man.” Those were the <a href="http://">words</a> of former Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who promised non-Jewish African migrants that he would “make their lives miserable.” In keeping with Yishai’s vow, the Israeli government has constructed <a href="">Holot</a>, an internment camp in the Negev Desert for African asylum seekers who committed the crime of attempting to live in Israel while non-Jewish, and whose lack of J-Positive blood prevents them from a path to citizenship or even asylum. (All Jews can receive immediate Israeli citizenship according to the country’s “Law of Return”). For the thousands of African residents of Holot, Israel is a giant <a href="">Sundown Town</a> that forbids them from staying outside the camp’s gates past 10 PM.  </p><p dir="ltr">Rep. Mark Takai is one of the House members joining Hoyer on the Democratic AIPAC tour. Takai has taken a special <a href="">interest</a> in commemorating the internment of his fellow Japanese Americans during World War Two. For him, Holot offers the chance to visit one an active internment center for ethnic outcasts, complete with barbed wire and special ID numbers. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has called Holot a “<a href="">concentration camp</a>,” but the Israeli government prefers to call it an “accommodation center.” African-American members of the Democratic delegation should beware: Unless they find Holot’s notoriously <a href="">threadbare accommodations</a> attractive, they had better not overstay their visas.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>9. Deir Yassin</strong></p><p dir="ltr">When members of Congress visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, they will emerge from a heart-rending exhibition documenting Jewish genocide in Europe and find themselves on a veranda that offers a sweeping view of Israeli-controlled Jerusalem — the supposed answer to thousands of years of Jewish suffering. In the valley below, they might see the ruins of a village called <a href="">Deir Yassin</a>. On April 9, 1948 the Zionist militia known as the Irgun massacred over 200 of Deir Yassin’s residents, triggering a wave of terror throughout Palestine and accelerating the forced expulsion of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians. In order to preserve Israel as an ethnically pure Jewish state, those refugees have not been allowed to return. And while over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed, Deir Yassin’s homes were converted into wings of a <a href="">mental hospital</a> for patients suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome. Legislators should not expect to learn about this critical piece of Israeli history from a Yad Vashem staffer. Indeed, when a Yad Vashem guide named Itamar Shapira informed a tour group about the massacre in Deir Yassin, he was quickly <a href="">fired</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">* Due to the US-backed Israeli-Egyptian siege of Gaza, members of Congress will not be able to meet any of the 1.8 million people living in the ruins of this stateless coastal enclave, where Israel killed over 2200 people in 51 days last year, including 550 children. For a look at some of the 18,000 homes destroyed during the Israeli army’s rampage, <a href="">this video</a> will have to suffice.</p><br /><br /><br /><p dir="ltr"> </p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 06:57:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1040780 at World World Israel congress aipac iran palestinians For Israel, War Is No Longer an Option — It Is a Way of Life <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Before homes are even rebuilt in the ruins of the Gaza Strip, another war looms.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bf5b1a843cb4a0630f6a811456f76982be03a2ab.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>"A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” <a href=",7340,L-4621448,00.html" target="_blank">declared</a> Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in February. His ominous comments came just days after an anti-tank missile fired by the Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hezbollah killed two soldiers in an Israeli army convoy. It, in turn, was a <a href="" target="_blank">response</a> to an Israeli air strike that resulted in the assassination of several high-ranking Hezbollah figures.</p><p>Lieberman offered his prediction only four months after his government concluded Operation Protective Edge, the third war between Israel and the armed factions of the Gaza Strip, which had managed to reduce about 20% of besieged Gaza to an apocalyptic moonscape. Even before the assault was launched, Gaza was a warehouse for surplus humanity -- a 360-square-kilometer ghetto of Palestinian refugees expelled by and excluded from the self-proclaimed Jewish state. For this population, whose members are mostly under the age of 18, the violence has become a life ritual that repeats every year or two. As the first anniversary of Protective Edge passes, Lieberman’s unsettling prophecy appears increasingly likely to come true. Indeed, odds are that the months of relative “quiet” that followed his statement will prove nothing more than an interregnum between Israel’s ever more devastating military escalations.</p><p>Three years ago, the United Nations issued a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> predicting that the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable by 2020. Thanks to Israel’s recent attack, this warning appears to have arrived sooner than expected. Few<strong></strong>of the 18,000 homes the Israeli military destroyed in Gaza have been rebuilt. Few of the more than 400 businesses and shops damaged or leveled during that war have been repaired. Thousands of government employees have not received a salary for more than a year and are working for free. Electricity remains desperately limited, sometimes to only four hours a day. The coastal enclave’s borders are consistently closed. Its population is trapped, traumatized, and descending ever deeper into despair, with <a href="" target="_blank">suicide rates</a> skyrocketing.</p><p>One of the few areas where Gaza’s youth can find structure is within the “<a href="" target="_blank">Liberation Camps</a>” established by Hamas, the Islamist political organization that controls Gaza. There, they undergo military training, ideological indoctrination, and are ultimately inducted into the Palestinian armed struggle. As I found while covering last summer’s war, there is no shortage of young orphans determined to take up arms after watching their parents and siblings be torn limb from limb by 2,000-pound Israeli fragmentation missiles, artillery shells, and other modes of destruction. Fifteen-year-old Waseem Shamaly, for instance, <a href="" target="_blank">told me</a> his life’s ambition was to join the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He had just finished recounting through tears what it was like to watch a YouTube clip of his brother, Salem, being executed by an Israeli sniper while he searched for the rest of his family in the rubble of their neighborhood last July.</p><p>Anger with Hamas’s political wing for accepting a ceasefire agreement with Israel in late August 2014 that offered nothing but a return to the slow death of siege and imprisonment is now palpable among Gaza’s civilian population. This is particularly true in border areas devastated by the Israelis last summer. However, support for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas that carries the banner of the Palestinian armed struggle, remains almost unanimous.</p><p>Palestinians in Gaza need only look 80 kilometers west to the gilded Bantustans of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to see what they would get if they agreed to disarm. After years of fruitless negotiations, Israel has rewarded Palestinians living under the rule of PA President Mahmoud Abbas with the record growth of Jewish settlements, major new land annexations, nightly house raids, and the constant humiliation and dangers of daily interactions with Israeli soldiers and fanatical Jewish settlers. Rather than resist the occupation, Abbas’s Western-trained security forces coordinate directly with the occupying Israeli army, assisting Israel in the arrest and even torture of fellow Palestinians, including the leadership of rival political factions.</p><p>As punishing as life in Gaza might be, the West Bank model does not offer a terribly attractive alternative. Yet this is exactly the kind of “solution” the Israeli government seeks to impose on Gaza. As former Interior Minister Yuval Steinitz <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> last year, “We want more than a ceasefire, we want the demilitarization of Gaza... Gaza will be exactly like [the West Bank city of] Ramallah.”</p><p><strong>Keeping Gaza in Ruins</strong></p><p>Behind the quasi-apocalyptic destruction exacted on Gaza by the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge lies a sadistic strategy whose aim is to punish residents of the besieged coastal enclave into submission. The “Dahiya Doctrine,” named after a southern Beirut neighborhood the Israeli air force decimated in 2006, is focused on punishing the civilian populations of Gaza and southern Lebanon for supporting armed resistance movements like Hamas and Hezbollah. In “Disproportionate Force,” a 2008 paper published by the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank closely linked to the Israeli military, Colonel Gabi Siboni spelled out its punitive, civilian-oriented logic clearly: “With an outbreak of hostilities, the [Israeli army] will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.”</p><p>In the aftermath of Protective Edge’s massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the Israeli government set out to obstruct any reconstruction process and extend the suffering of Gaza’s civilian population. When diplomats including American Secretary of State John Kerry gathered in Cairo last October to discuss repairing and rebuilding some of the $7 billion in damage caused by Protective Edge, then-Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz assured them that their efforts were ultimately futile. “The Gazans must decide what they want to be: Singapore or Darfur,” Katz <a href="" target="_blank">said</a>, ominously invoking the threat of Sudanese-style genocide. “If one missile will be fired, everything will go down the drain.” The nature of his warning was not lost on the diplomats in Cairo, where one complained of “considerable donor fatigue.”</p><p>“No one can expect us to go back to our taxpayers for a third time; to ask for contributions for reconstruction and then we simply go back to where we were before all this began,” a diplomat <a href="" target="_blank">complained</a> to a reporter. Another conceded: “There isn’t a terrible amount of political commitment or hope.”</p><p>In the end, only a minuscule fraction of the $5 billion pledged at the conference has actually made its way to Gaza’s devastated masses. Instead, much of it has been diverted into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, whose mission requires it to spend around 30% of its budget on “security,” or policing fellow Palestinians, on behalf of their occupier.</p><p>Earlier this year, as funds for reconstruction dried up entirely, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry <a href="" target="_blank">attempted</a> to compel Palestinians in Gaza to accept a rebuilding plan he concocted in cooperation with the Israeli military, the Egyptian military junta of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and the PA. Described by Israeli military correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai as a model of “the conflict management approach,” the plan amounts to the internationalization of the siege of Gaza and the perpetual imprisonment of Palestinians there. Needless to say, it proved a non-starter among those whose lives it would have controlled.</p><p>Though Hamas has stringently maintained the ceasefire it inked when hostilities ended last August, Israel has repeatedly <a href="" target="_blank">attacked</a> Gaza’s fishermen as well as farmers working in areas near the Israeli border wall. As despair spreads, the previously minute ranks of Salafist extremists are expanding and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), the brutal theocratic crew that has established a “caliphate” in parts of Syria and Iraq and whose followers in Gaza have declared war on Hamas.</p><p>Gaza’s IS-allied factions have adopted a <a href="" target="_blank">simple formula</a> for undermining Hamas that begins with the launching of a crude rocket or mortar usually into an unpopulated area of southern Israel. That these do little or no damage hardly matters, since IS followers know that Israel will respond with airstrikes targeting Hamas-controlled facilities. Through these provocations, IS in Gaza has established an alliance of convenience with the Israeli military, with each relying on the other to tighten the vise on Hamas. Though IS has no chance now of toppling Hamas, its presence -- and Israel’s apparent eagerness to play its game -- has injected a volatile new element into an already unstable post-war landscape.</p><p><strong>Field Testing the Brand</strong></p><p>Hamas and allied militant groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad entered last summer’s war with a set of <a href="" target="_blank">conditions</a> that were entirely humanitarian in nature. They called for the right to construct a seaport in Gaza, rebuild the airport Israel destroyed, and freely import and export goods, as well as for Gaza’s stateless residents to obtain travel permits. In exchange, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce. Rather than accept any of these conditions, which would have promoted a dramatic reduction in tensions, Israel and its allies in Cairo and Washington opted for 51 days of brutal warfare, knowing that Gaza’s civilians would pay the steepest price -- and that an elite sector of Israeli society would reap handsome rewards.<strong> </strong></p><p>Unlike the rulers of Gaza, Israel’s upper classes thrive off war. The assaults on Gaza since 2005 have invigorated one of the country’s leading industries and been a boon to the 150,000 Israeli families who earn their livelihoods from it. Thanks in large part to the wars in Gaza and the ongoing occupation of Palestine, Israel’s weapons industry has tripled its profits to more than $7 billion a year over the past decade, making a country about the size of New Jersey into the fourth largest weapons exporter in the world.</p><p>“A salesman for the IAI [Israel Aerospace Industries] told me that assassinations and operations in Gaza bring about an increase of tens of percentage points in company sales,” <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> Yotam Feldman, the Israeli journalist whose documentary film, <em>The Lab</em>, provides a disturbing look at the country’s weapons industry and how it has transformed Israeli society. According to Feldman, “the war in Gaza has become inherent to the Israeli political system, possibly a part of our system of government.”</p><p>Members of the Israeli elite have benefitted directly from the Gaza wars by orchestrating the assaults as generals and politicians and then taking jobs as lobbyists, marketing to foreign militaries the newest weaponry and battlefield tactics tested on Gaza’s civilian population. Ehud Barak, for instance, was the defense minister who directed Israel’s disproportionate attacks on Gaza in 2008-2009 and again in 2012. He was also one of the closest associates of Michael Federman, a former member of his Sayeret Matkal commando unit and a political advisor who also happened to be the owner of Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems. It was perhaps unsurprising then that, after leading the Defense Ministry during so many wars deploying and promoting Elbit's latest weaponry, Barak's name suddenly <a href="" target="_blank">wound up</a> on the Forbes list of Israel’s wealthiest politicians in 2012.</p><p>A quick browse through <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Israel Defense News</em></a>, the leading English-language trade publication of Israel’s weapons industry, offers perhaps the best look at how new tactics and weaponry are marketed. In its latest issue, dedicated to the “new age warfare” practiced in Gaza, readers are assured that “2015 will be good for Israeli Defense Industries.” Uri Vered, general manager of Elbit Systems, promises that “land field systems” -- the tanks and armored combat vehicles deployed in the recent conflict -- will experience record growth.</p><p>Among the high tech weaponry being touted by the magazine is a drone “capable of loitering over the target and attacking it.” This is a reference to Israeli Aerospace Industries’ Harop, a “<a href="" target="_blank">suicide drone</a>” first tested in southern Lebanon that hovers over its target before diving into it with 10 kilograms of explosives packed into its nose. With militaries around the world snapping up the Harop by the hundreds, Israel’s weapons sector is eager to roll out a next generation vehicle that includes its own launch pad. In order to brand the newfangled drone with the magical marketing label of “field tested,” IAI simply needs another war.</p><p><strong>The Point of No Return</strong></p><p>To be sure, there are figures within Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus keen on averting another war with Gaza’s armed factions, at least in the near term. They recognize that Hamas has become a stabilizing force in Gaza capable of maintaining ceasefires in good faith. As it did with the Fatah-controlled Palestine Liberation Organization during the 1970s and 1980s, the Israeli military establishment has attempted to domesticate Hamas by assassinating “irreconcilables” like former Al-Qassam commander Ahmed Jaabari, while allowing more conciliatory and politically ambitious figures like Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to rise. Its strategy is aimed at cultivating within Hamas the kind of docile leadership that now makes up the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, thereby transforming another self-proclaimed Palestinian resistance organization into an occupation subcontractor.</p><p>Yet as Israel (relying on international mediators) engages in <a href="" target="_blank">negotiations</a> with Hamas over a range of issues including the <a href=",7340,L-4678717,00.html" target="_blank">release</a> of a captured Israeli citizen, there is no sense that its domestication strategy is working. And whatever accommodations the gatekeepers of Israel’s military-intelligence sector had in mind, the chaos unleashed by Operation Protective Edge has probably pushed Jewish Israeli society beyond the point of no return. Indeed, the wartime atmosphere proved a godsend for <a href="" target="_blank">far-right mobilization</a>, electrifying religious nationalist elements in the government and fascist goons in the streets of Tel Aviv. This January, the <a href="" target="_blank">45%</a> of Jewish Israelis who complained that their military had not used enough force against Gaza went on to elect the most right-wing government in Israeli history.</p><p>Among the leaders of Israel’s increasingly dominant religious nationalist movement is Naftali Bennett, the 43-year-old head of the pro-settler Jewish Home Party. Bennett spent much of last summer’s war railing against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to order a full reoccupation of Gaza and the violent removal of Hamas -- a potentially catastrophic move that Netanyahu and the Israeli military brass vehemently opposed. While Bennett accused Palestinians of committing “self-genocide,” his youthful deputy, Ayelet Shaked, <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> that Palestinian civilians “are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads.” According to Shaked, the “mothers of the martyrs” should be exterminated, “as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”</p><p>In the current Israeli governing coalition, Bennett serves as Minister of Education, overseeing the schooling of millions of Jewish Israeli youth. And Shaked has been promoted to Minister of Justice, giving her direct influence over the country’s court system. Once one of the young Turks of the right-wing Likud Party, Netanyahu now finds himself at the hollow center of Israeli politics, mediating between factions of hardline ethno-nationalists and outright fascists.</p><p>Where Gaza is concerned, Israel’s loyal opposition differs little from the country’s far-right rulers. In the days before the January national elections, Tzipi Livni, a leader of the left-of-center Zionist Union, <a href="" target="_blank">proclaimed</a>, “Hamas is a terrorist organization and there is no hope for peace with it... the only way to act against it is with force -- we must use military force against terror... and this is instead of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s policy to come to an agreement with Hamas.” Livni’s ally, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, reinforced her militaristic position by declaring, “There is no compromising with terror.”</p><p>Months after the cessation of hostilities, even as foreign correspondents marvel at the “quiet” that has prevailed along Gaza’s borders, the Israeli leadership is ramping up its bloody imprecations. At a conference this May sponsored by Shurat HaDin, a legal organization dedicated to defending Israel from war crimes charges, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned that another crushing assault was inevitable, either in Gaza, southern Lebanon, or both. After threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, Yaalon <a href="" target="_blank">pledged</a> that “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion... we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”</p><p>Yaalon went on to boast to his audience about how one year before Operation Protective Edge, he furnished his commanders with maps of “certain neighborhoods in Gaza” to hit. They included Shujaiya, an area east of Gaza City where over 120 civilians were <a href="" target="_blank">killed</a> in a matter of hours, and which now lies in utter ruin. Gaza still reels from last summer’s assault, yet there is no reason to doubt that the Israeli military will fulfill Yaalon’s terrifying vow -- perhaps sooner than anyone expects.</p><p>For Israel, war is no longer an option. It is a way of life.</p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:46:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, TomDispatch 1039418 at World World Israel palestinians gaza How Israel Used F-16s and High-Tech Soldiers to Devastate Gaza <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Max Blumenthal&#039;s new book looks at Israel&#039;s deadly assault on Gaza from last year. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/267f5266d4987b3d77c2d123519f2a7d5cc94ca3.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>The following is an excerpt from Max Blumenthal's new book, <a href="" target="_blank">The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza</a> (Nation Books, 2015). </em></p><p>46 days into Operation Protective Edge in the besieged Gaza Strip, the Israeli military was attacking with renewed ferocity. From my room in Abu Ghalion, an apartment building overlooking Gaza City's port, with the windows shut tight and the industrial fan cranked up to maximum speed, I could still hear the roar of F-16 jets as they coasted by, and could count the seconds before they struck their target—perhaps a rocket launching site or maybe some innocent family’s home. I managed to drift off for a few hours before being ripped from my sleep by a series of explosions. It was 6 a.m. and the sun was beginning to rise over the Mediterranean.</p><p>I checked the Twitter timelines of local Gaza accounts for information on the bombings and found that most were reporting on a strike on a four-story home owned by Abu Hussein Kallab, a businessman in Rafah whose factory had been destroyed in a separate strike. Over a dozen bodies had been extracted from the rubble, including a little girl who had survived with a mouth full of concrete shards. The ferocity of the airstrike was on par with the attack aimed at Deif, a massive concentration of force on a single home that suggested top-level targets were  inside.</p><p>By late morning, I learned that the dead bodies extracted from the rubble included three top Qassam Brigades commanders who had gathered inside the building to coordinate strategy. They were Raed al-Attar, the Qassam southern commander who oversaw operations in Rafah, his colleague, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, and Mohammed Barhoum. Having led several operations in the field, including the tunnel ambush codenamed “Shattered Illusion” that brought the Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit into captivity, Abu Shamaleh was considered as a possible successor to Ahmad Jaabari when he was assassinated in 2012. Attar, for his part, was among Gaza’s most revered figures for masterminding of the attack that captured Shalit. The deal for Shalit’s release produced wild celebration across Palestine, but particularly in Gaza, as over a thousand prisoners were freed from Israeli jails and reunited with their families. Attar’s hero status had been secured, as had his death   sentence.</p><p>For his part, Barhoum was a veteran Qassam operative who helped coordinate the transfer of weapons through the tunnel network at Rafah. The three commanders played an arguably more important role than the partially crippled Deif in the dayto-day field operations of the Qassam Brigades.  Indeed, Attar had overseen the operation to capture Lt. Hadar Goldin and was rumored to be one of the few people in Gaza who knew the whereabouts of Goldin’s body.</p><p>With these assassinations, it seemed that the war would drag on endlessly. I was running low on cash and with the bombs falling again, my freedom of movement was severely compromised. That afternoon, I took a taxi to the Erez crossing and prepared to leave Gaza for a few days.</p><p>Inside the cavernous Israeli-run terminal, as I handed my passport to a young female COGAT administrator, she began pounding frantically on the bulletproof glass that separated us, ordering me to take shelter. A few seconds later, I heard something explode in the distance, likely a mortar round or rocket fired from Beit Hanoun. Watching well-protected Israeli soldiers panic was a surreal experience after witnessing the wholesale destruction they wreaked across Gaza.</p><p>In the parking lot outside Erez, an Israeli news crew from Channel 1 intercepted me and peppered me with questions about what I had seen inside Gaza. Did I see rockets fired from civilian areas? Was Hamas using human shields? What about the tunnels? Realizing this was more an interrogation session than an interview, I quickly found a taxi and headed straight to Ramallah.</p><p>That same afternoon in Rafah, 15,000 mourners marched through the streets of the war-torn southern city with the bodies of the three commanders wrapped in green Hamas burial shrouds. On sidewalks and in squares, men cried openly for the loss of those they saw as guardians of their city while colleagues of the three fallen commanders offered defiant tributes to them in a local mosque.</p><p>Attar and Abu Shamaleh had survived an assassination attempt in 2003 with the help of local farmers who hid them in an olive grove while Apache helicopters hunted them down. A year later, when Israeli Special Forces raided Abu Shamaleh’s home, his neighbors helped him escape through the narrow lanes of central Rafah. This time, however, someone in the neighborhood had furnished the men’s location to Israel’s Shin Bet. Someone had been compromised by the intelligence services and induced into becoming a collaborator.</p><p>“My dad has spent his life fighting for the liberation of Palestine and today, my dad—they assassinated him,” Abu Shamaleh’s pre-teen daughter, Raba, told a local camera crew at her father’s funeral. With tears streaming down her face, the distraught girl said, “It’s all because of the collaborators and spies! And I tell my dad, God rest his soul, we’ll go after them and we’ll kill them.”</p><p>The wartime anger directed at the occupier suddenly turned towards the traitors burrowing from within. The day after Abu Shamaleh, Attar, and Barhoum’s assassination, a group of twenty-five accused collaborators that included two women was brought before a public crowd in al-Katiba Park in Gaza City. They appeared wearing masks, their identities concealed to guard their families from societal castigation. And then they were lined up against a wall and shot to death by members of the Qassam Brigades.</p><p>Photos of the execution were promptly disseminated to the media, presumably in hopes that the images would quell the anger overflowing across Gaza, and also as a warning to the collaborators who remained on the loose. Netanyahu’s office seized on the execution scenes to portray Hamas as a gang of medieval fanatics no less barbaric than ISIS. By extension,   he cast himself as the leader of the Westernized outpost on the front line against what he later described as “a world-wide network of militant Islamists” that “all share this fanatic ideology; they all have not only unbridled ambitions but also savage methods.”</p><p>The image of spies dragged before firing squads is common throughout history, particularly among anti-colonial and revolutionary movements. But its appearance in Gaza exposed a depressing reality that was only discussed in whispers. Those who were executed had likely been among the most desperate of Gaza’s dispossessed population. And before they became spies, they had been spied upon by the Israeli surveillance and cyberwarfare outfit known as Unit 8200.</p><p>An intelligence corps embedded within the Israeli military, Unit 8200 consists of several thousand of the army’s most highly educated, technologically sophisticated soldiers. It is, in fact, the army’s largest unit, comparable in its size and function to the US National Security Agency (NSA).  Much of Unit 8200’s work entails spying on everyone from Hezbollah and Hamas operatives to American citizens—the NSA handed over thousands of emails and phone communications to Unit 8200 of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, according to journalist James Bamford. In Gaza, Unit 8200 works with the Shin Bet to cultivate spies by compromising residents of the strip who might have fallen into difficult circumstances.</p><p>In a bracing September 12, 2014 joint letter declaring their refusal to serve any longer in the military, Unit 8200 veterans detailed how they preyed on innocent Palestinians, exploiting the weakest and blackmailing the most vulnerable. “If you’re homosexual and know someone who knows a wanted person, Israel will make your life miserable,” one of the Unit 8200 whistle-blowers explained to a reporter at the Guardian. “If you need emergency medical treatment in Israel, the West   Bank or abroad—we searched for you. The state of Israel will allow you to die before we let you leave for treatment without giving information on your wanted cousin. If you interest Unit 8200 and don’t have anything to do with any hostile activity, you’re [still] an objective.”</p><p>“All Palestinians are exposed to non-stop monitoring without any legal protection,” the letter read. “Any Palestinian may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion, or even direct physical injury.” There was not a shred of sympathy to be found anywhere in Gaza for the poor souls who had fallen into circumstances that led them to collaborate. Though the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the executions of the accused spies, a clear consensus in Gaza supported the death sentences. If I heard any dissenting opinions around Gaza, they were from those who believed the collaborators should not only have been executed, but brutalized as well.</p><p>Once again, Palestinians were pitted against one another through the machinations of their occupier. Palestinians killed Palestinians who had gotten Palestinians killed while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas undercut the negotiating position of Hamas. Back in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu heaped praise on Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen for orchestrating the assassinations, while Amos Harel, military correspondent for the zealously anti-Netanyahu newspaper, Haaretz, proclaimed: “Assassinations of Hamas commanders could make Netanyahu the hero.”</p><p>But Israel was hardly finished. As the war entered its denouement in the final week of August, the military readied a series of dramatic strikes aimed at the heart of Gaza City. The goal this time was to set the stage for the war’s aftermath by provoking Gaza’s middle class against  Hamas.</p><p><em>Reprinted with permission from Nation Books -All Rights Reserved. 2015</em></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, Nation Books 1039066 at World Books World gaza Israel palestinians hamas Why Scrapping the Confederate Flag Is a Threat to a Huge Swath of the Right-Wing Movement <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Ed Sebesta discusses his life&#039;s work, researching and challenging the neo-Confederates.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1372621001837-1-0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>One essential element of America's hard-right coalition that is consistently underacknowledged by media outsiders and downplayed by movement insiders is the neo-Confederate faction of Stars-and-Bars enthusiasts who revere Jefferson Davis, revile Abraham Lincoln and believe they are still battling Reconstruction in the form of liberal federal government policies. Leading neo-Confederate organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) insist their activities are merely historical in nature, and reject any implication that they are engaged in a long-term political campaign. But as the white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof recently demonstrated, neo-Confederacy often uses heritage as a mask for racial hate. </p><p>Following Roof’s massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, leading Republican politicians are capitulating to widespread pressure to condemn the display of the Confederate flag in state capitols across the Deep South. Yet neo-Confederacy maintains wide appeal across the South and deep influence within the broader conservative movement. The SCV, for example, oversees a junior ROTC program overseen by the federal government which enables the organization to <a href="">promote</a> “Confederate heroes” in public high schools and bestow awards on ROTC participants named after a Confederate military submarine, <em>H.L. Hunley.</em> Meanwhile, the UDC helps organize the annual presidential wreath delivery to the Confederate Army Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. President Obama is the most recent president to participate in this federal tradition, rejecting pressure from academics and activists to cease honoring Confederate veterans. </p><p>Since I began reporting on neo-Confederacy, I have consistently turned to one person for insight and information about the movement’s political goals and alliances. Ed Sebesta is a private citizen with no academic position who has dedicated much of his life to researching and challenging the neo-Confederates. Sebesta provided me with the research that allowed me to expose the relationship former Arkansas Gov. <a href="">Mike Huckabee</a> and ex-Virginia Sen. <a href="http://http//">George Allen</a> struck up with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a neo-Confederate group Dylann Roof credited with his radicalization. Sebesta was the source who supplied journalists with the <a href="">Ron Paul</a> reports that exposed the racist, homophobic screeds that filled Rep. Ron Paul’s newsletters during the 1990s.</p><p>Last week, as Charleston mourned its dead and Confederate flags came down, I spoke to Sebesta about his work. He explained to me his theory of the “reactionary fortress” that the neo-Confederate movement maintains in the Deep South, and how this factor has obstructed progressive change across the United States. </p><p><strong>Max Blumenthal:</strong> <strong>How does the neo-Confederate movement achieve its influence within the broader conservative movement and in right-wing Republican circles?</strong></p><p>Ed Sebesta: It’s not as direct as electoral politics, it’s more a matter of soft power relating to how you affect people’s thinking. There’s this plantation mythology and you shape your consciousness around the idea that the Confederacy is some ideal. But the thing about the Confederacy is that it’s about advancing inequality. To show how this cultural consciousness affects the country, I do maps of the ratification of the 19th amendment giving the women the right to vote. From these maps, you can see that there’s this Confederate fortress out there, and it’s very clear. Once you have this neo-Confederate mentality at some level of your consciousness, I don’t really have to tell you how to vote or give you a position on some issue — you’ll have this idea already, it naturally comes out of your consciousness. Neo-Confederacy forms American consciousness.</p><p>The other thing is, [neo-Confederates] do have access. They’re in the system. They’re not loners out in pickup trucks. <a href="">The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History</a> is written by a leading neo-Confederate [Thomas Woods] and it’s been a New York Times bestseller. I was looking at the “Politically Incorrect” titles and about half or more are written by neo-Confederates. So they’re about shaping mainstream consciousness in the conservative movement. </p><p>They’re also able to shape a reactionary fortress within the country. I did some mathematics and found that if you have 25% of the country in this reactionary fortress, what that means is to get any issue to pass in Congress, you have to get two-thirds support in the rest of the country. To get a judge confirmed in the Senate, you need about eight-ninths of the rest of the country. To get a constitutional amendment passed, you need 100 percent support in the rest of the country or you have to hope to pick up a couple votes in former Confederate states. That was how the 19th amendment was ratified — they did manage to pick up a few former Confederate states. The Equal Rights Amendment was not so lucky. After her celebration in defeating the ERA, Phyllis Schlafly was interviewed by the Southern Partisan. She bragged that 10 of the 15 states against it were from the South. </p><p>This is why the US was 26th to get women the vote. Because they had to get practically everyone else outside the South to vote for it. Imagine if the ERA had been ratified, what the situation would be today for women. Just look at a map of where <a href="">gender inequality</a> is most pronounced. This is the reactionary fortress.</p><p><strong>MB: Who are the main organizations promoting neo-Confederacy and what do they believe?</strong></p><p>ES: The main group behind this movement is the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). Their journal is promoting issues and ideas you wouldn’t believe. One of the books they’re promoting in the latest issue of their newsletter is a book by a writer named Frank Conner who argues that Jewish northern intellectuals are the South’s deadliest enemy — that civil rights is really a Jewish conspiracy and that blacks have lower IQs. They’re also selling <em>Southern By The Grace of God</em>, a book that portrays the KKK as great heroes. The intellectual group behind neo-Confederate ideology is the <a href="">Abbeville Institute</a> which comprises about 300 professors and some students. They publish online and promote an explicit neo-Confederate worldview. The United Daughters of Confederacy is more low key. The League of the South is mostly dead because the SCV have filled their role. They sell pro-slavery books and they pretty much resent anyone from unitarians to Latinos to gays to Muslims, you name it. </p><p><strong>MB:</strong> <strong>What means do neo-Confederate activists employ to impact conservative ideology?</strong></p><p>ES: One of their biggest successes were these “Politically Incorrect” books that are sold at Barnes and Noble. <em>The South Was Right</em> has sold 125,000 copies. When it comes to the Civil War, they’re influencing the purchase of textbooks by public schools, pushing for those that cover the civil war only in terms of military history and obfuscate the causes of the war. Southern Culture had John Shelton Reed as its chief editor and at the same time was writing for the neo-Confederate Southern Partisan under a pseudonym. So he was basically defining the field of Southern studies for about 10 years. None might be running for office, but they get the job done through soft power. </p><p><strong>MB: You have argued that Ron Paul is at least a neo-Confederate sympathizer who has worked intimately with the movement. How is this the case?</strong></p><p>ES: He was a keynote speaker at a secession conference planned by the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, which advocates secession quite openly. The Lew Rockwell institute is sort of a confederate libertarian organization and also neo-monarchist, and Paul maintains close ties with them. He has always worked directly within the movement.</p><p><strong>MB: What about the Council of Conservative Citizens [CCC], this white supremacist, neo-Confederate group that Dylann Roof credited with radicalizing him about African Americans and transforming him into a racial terrorist. They’ve fostered relationships with major Republicans like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in the past. Are they still influential?</strong></p><p>ES: What happened with the CCC was the same thing with the [defunct neo-Confederate magazine] Southern Partisan. Once it got out in the news that this was a racist organization the number of politicians who would participate in their events dropped precipitously. A few politicians in Mississippi might show up to the meetings, but they make a point of not stating their names. </p><p>Their membership overlaps quite a bit with the SCV. So you’ll see people in one group and one in the other, and these days, the SCV serves as kind of an umbrella group for the movement. When the whole Black Lives Matter movement erupted, SCV had a commentary about Ferguson and Eric Garner in its newsletter. After attacking the protesters as lawless individuals and cop opponents as racist, they went on to explain what all of this had to do with Southern heritage. Why is this in our magazine? And the answer was that Reconstruction brought liberalism to the South and it’s liberalism that’s responsible for all this lawlessness and attacks on the cops.</p><p><strong>MB: You’ve dedicated yourself to exposing the racist politics of the SCV, yet they’re still able to maintain a veneer of respectability. How do they accomplish this?</strong></p><p>ES: If a media person shows up at one of their events, their membership is required to refer the media person to one of their trained spokesmen. They tell their membership not to get in a conversation about slavery, let’s just talk about this or that historical event. So when reporters come up wondering what SCV is all about, the spokespeople reply, ‘Oh it’s about remembering General so and so.’ They don’t seem to want us to know what the actual agenda is. </p><p>I wonder why the SCV’s influence hasn’t been a bigger story and why the word hasn’t gotten out that legislators regularly meet with them. School boards meet with them. They get into public schools, not only to hand out awards to ROTC cadets, but to give classes on the Civil War in the public schools. You can imagine what that’s like. It is shocking to see all these African American kids getting taught by SCV members. So they’ve been very effectively maintaining a public space. </p><p><strong>MB: Where does the neo-Confederate movement go after the Dylann Roof episode and the national shaming of South Carolina for flying the Confederate flag over its state capitol?</strong></p><p>ES: The neo-Confederates are probably freaking out. They’re stunned. They had had their way in every way. Back in 1992 I started campaigning to get rid of the Robert E. Lee statue in Liberty Park in Dallas Texas and the local media put a bead on me editorially. I got a real whupping in the press. And then this week I saw that the Dallas Morning News published an <a href="">editorial</a> calling for the statue to be removed, along with other memorials to the Confederacy. So I think neo-Confederate forces are stunned. They will probably radicalize and the apolitical elements will drop out and the remnant will become more radical. They were always racist, but they had the smarts to keep it under the table. Now the racism is going to be much more up front. </p><p>I’m interested to see whether this current reaction against Confederate symbols lasts more than three months because they’re going to organize a counter reaction. Even if you get rid of the license plates and flags through legislation, the movement’s still going to be there. And people might go home thinking a victory has been won. </p><p><strong>MB:</strong> <strong>Very few Americans know that President Barack Obama has participated in the annual tradition of sending a wreath to the memorial to Confederate veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. You’ve <a href="http://http//">organized</a> a series of letters signed by scholars of Southern history demanding Obama end the practice. But it seems you’ve been ignored, or dismissed, and that Obama is still sending the wreaths.</strong></p><p>ES: That’s right, Obama has continued to send the wreath. UDC has photos of the wreath in one of the issues of their magazine. They considered it a great victory that I wasn’t able to get the White House to stop and Obama continued to send it. He also sent wreaths to the African American Civil War Memorial as some kind of compromise. But that’s just stupid. How it is okay to send a wreath to the Holocaust Memorial Museum and then place one on Nazi graves?</p><p><em>The photo below is of the wreath President Obama sent to Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. It is in the United Daughters of Confederacy's May 2011 newsletter</em>.</p><p style="margin: 0px; font-size: 14px; font-family: Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="768" width="592"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="768" width="592" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/s1in7thr2nfpp_p7uanmpfug9jqagvf1238llhe1tlw_0.jpg" /></div><p style="margin: 0px; font-size: 14px; font-family: Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;"> </p> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 09:02:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1038928 at The Right Wing The Right Wing confederacy south racism Could the Possible Sale of Huffington Post to Right-Wing Company Affect Its Editorial Line? <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Pro-war German media conglomerate Axel Springer is notorious for inciting violence and hatred against leftists and Muslims.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/huff.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">This month, Newsweek quietly <a href="http://">reported</a> that a German media conglomerate called Axel Springer was the “most serious” contender to buy the Huffington Post in the proposed sale of the magazine’s corporate parent, AOL, to Verizon. While Newsweek detailed Springer’s sizable media holdings in Germany and beyond, from the tabloid Bild to the newspaper Die Welt, it failed to note the stringently enforced right-wing editorial line that makes Springer the German equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.</p><p dir="ltr">Among the five preambles of Springer’s <a href="">corporate principles</a> is the requirement that employees “support the vital rights of the State of Israel.” Journalists are also expected to “uphold the principles of a free social market economy” and “support the Transatlantic Alliance and maintain solidarity with the United States of America in the common values of free nations.” The webpage outlining Springer’s preambles mysteriously disappeared from the web months before the company entered the bidding for the Huffington Post. (An archived version of the page can be viewed <a href="">here</a>.)</p><p dir="ltr">The Huffington Post is one of America’s most widely read online news outlets. While the site’s various niche portals earn much of their traffic through clickbait headlines and celebrity news, the Huffington Post’s politics section has made its mark with slashing coverage of the <a href="">Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)</a> trade deal, <a href="">Likudnik mega-donors</a> and <a href="">police brutality</a>. Huffington Post reporters have not shied from <a href="">targeting </a>Democratic senators who promoted war on Iran or <a href="">highligh</a><a href="">t</a><a href="">ing</a> President Barack Obama’s support for a provision in TPP that would reward companies that profit from slavery. Earlier this year, Obama <a href="">urged</a> House Democrats not to read the Huffington Post, complaining that the outlet reported unfairly on the free trade agenda he has been promoting.<em></em>(Full disclosure: my brother, Paul, is a staff writer for the Huffingon Post.)</p><p dir="ltr">Springer’s editorial line offers a stark contrast to the progressive tone of the Huffington Post. Founded in 1946 by the journalist Axel Springer, the company now holds about $3 billion in assets and oversees a collection of low-brow publications mostly associated with what liberal-minded Germans derisively refer to as “the boulevard press.” It was during the late 1960's when Springer took a turn to the populist right, with Axel Springer siccing his most popular tabloid, Bild, against the radical left-wing student movement in West Germany. The paper homed in on Rudi Dutschke, one of the movement’s most visible leaders, accusing him of conspiring to bring down West Germany through violent revolution while calling on patriotic Germans to "eliminate the trouble makers.”</p><p dir="ltr">On April 11, 1968, a lonely neo-Nazi mechanic and avid Bild reader named Josef Bachmann riddled Dutschke with bullets as he bicycled through Berlin. Bachmann later testified in court that he had developed his view of Dutschke exclusively through articles appearing in the Springer press and assorted jingoistic rags. As protests exploded across West Germany, with students chanting, “Springer pulled the trigger!” Axel Springer directed his editors to call for harsh police crackdowns on the demonstrators while whitewashing Bachmann as a lone madman as deranged as his victim, the “red maniac” Dutschke. (Dutschke died of injury-related complications in 1979; Springer’s deeply anguished son committed suicide months later.)</p><p dir="ltr">With the onset of the so-called war on terror, Springer has shifted its sights from the radical left to the Muslim menace. A Bild <a href="">article</a> warning last August of an epidemic of Ebola imported by black migrants from Africa was typical of Springer’s coverage. A month earlier, the paper ran a <a href="">screed</a> by Nicholaus Fest arguing that with their “far disproportionate criminality of young people with a Muslim background” and supposed tendency toward “anti-Semitic pogroms,” Muslims had no place in Europe. Fest’s tirade earned censure from the German Press Council, which ruled that its bigoted content “was incompatible with the reputation of the press.”</p><p dir="ltr">Even Springer’s most supposedly respectable paper, Die Welt, has become a repository for neoconservative editorializing and nakedly Islamophobic diatribes. Welt recently <a href="">anointed</a> the hyper-repressive Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as “the Luther of the Arab world”; it has <a href="">proclaimed</a> that “we should be thankful to drone pilots,” <a href="">accused</a> Muslims of insufficient opposition to ISIS and claimed that ISIS represents the true face of Islam. During the 2012 ceremony where anti-Muslim former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali received the Axel Springer Prize, she <a href="">appeared</a> to blame liberal defenders of multiculturalism for the killing spree committed by the Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik, claiming they left Breivik with “no other choice but to use violence.”</p><p dir="ltr">In keeping with its stated commitment to “uphold the principles of a free social market economy,” Springer publications have aggressively campaigned for economic austerity throughout the Eurozone. In February, Springer’s Bild <a href="http://">launched</a> the “We say NO!” campaign against new loans to Greece with a giant front-page headline reading, “NEIN!” The tabloid then published selfies of honest-looking, hard-working Bild readers holding the paper in defiance, granting the campaign to hollow out the Greek public sector with a populist veener. Bild was widely panned for the stunt, including by the <a href="">German Journalists Association</a>, which accused the paper of “crossing the border into political campaigning.”</p><p dir="ltr">Though the Huffington Post would not offer a comment on its possible sale to Springer, several editors I spoke to were previously unaware of the German media congolmerate’s hard-right editorial line. The question now is whether they will publicly oppose a deal that threatens to reverse the progressive direction of one of America’s most popular online news outlets.</p><p><em>Read Max Blumenthal's <a href="">report</a> for AlterNet on being smeared by the Springer press during a recent trip to Germany.</em></p> Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:58:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1037332 at Media Media the Huffington Post Axel Springer You Will Be Surprised Who the Outside Agitators Really Are in Baltimore <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The mayor of Baltimore was right to blame outsiders for causing trouble, but got it wrong.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_-__2015-04-28_at_1.05.54_pm.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>On Monday, the country watched as a band of outside agitators descended on the streets of Baltimore, attacked locals with blunt force, intimidated innocent bystanders, and even <a href="">threw rocks</a> at native residents. Every day, these gun-toting rogues come from as far as New Jersey and Pennsylvania to intimidate the good people of Baltimore, forcing communities to cower under the threat of violence. The agitators are known for their menacing dark blue garb, hostile behavior and gangland-style codes of secrecy and silence. Though many of these <a href="">ruffians have attempted</a> to conceal their identities from their victims, they can be easily spotted by the badges that signify membership in the widely feared Baltimore Police Department.</p><p>According <a href="">to data posted on the city of Baltimore’s OpenBaltimore website in 2012</a>, over 70 percent of Baltimore Police Department officers live outside city limits, with at least 10 percent living over state lines, in places as far away as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. By contrast, almost all of those arrested in ongoing protests sparked by the police killing of the unarmed Baltimorean Freddie Gray reside firmly within the city. These facts were apparently lost on Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when <a href="">she blamed</a> “outside forces” for all the looting of local businesses and attacks on cops. Similarly, the Baltimore Police Department claimed that "outside agitators continue to be the instigators behind acts of violence and destruction,” even as it conceded in the same statement that “the vast majority of arrests reflect local residency.” No evidence of outside agitation was produced by the mayor or the police, and none was demanded by much of the media covering the ongoing troubles.</p><p>This week’s scenes of mostly white cops battling the African-American youth of Baltimore captured a legacy of deeply entrenched racism that stretches back to Maryland’s Antebellum days. Though Maryland ended the slave trade in 1783, over 40,000 slaves remained in bondage in its Eastern Shore, near the border of Virginia, until Emancipation Day. When the Sixth Massachusetts Militia marched through Baltimore on April 19, 1861 on its way to protect Washington DC from advancing Confederate forces, the Union troops were attacked in the center of town with rocks, bricks and even pistols by local Southern sympathizers. Maryland’s <a href="">last recorded</a> lynching of a black man occurred in the town of Princess Anne on the Eastern Shore in 1933, when a thousand whites dragged assault suspect George Armwood from his jail cell, tortured him, hacked his ear off and hung him from a tree. It was the 33rd documented lynching in the state since 1882.</p><p>Gerald Horne, a professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston, sees the legacy of slavery as an underlying factor in the policing of majority black cities like Baltimore. “The origins of the urban police department lies precisely in slavery,” Horne <a href=";task=view&amp;id=31&amp;Itemid=74&amp;jumival=13720">remarked in a recent interview</a> with The Real News founder Paul Jay. “That is to say, slave patrols that were designated to interrogate, to investigate Africans who were out and about without any kind of investigation. You fast forward to 2015 and you still see more than remnants of that particular system.”</p><p>The Gilmor Homes area where Freddie Gray was violently apprehended and later killed by Baltimore police officers is one of the city’s most heavily policed areas. Eddie Conway, a local civil rights activist who served 43 years in prison after a dubious conviction for killing two cops, explained in <a href="">an interview</a> with Democracy Now! that Gilmor Homes is “a ‘broken windows’ police area in which people and residents in that area are arrested for sitting on their own steps. They are loitering in their own community, on their own steps, and they're harassed constantly.”</p><p>“[Cops] won’t let us go nowhere,” one young Gilmore Homes resident complained to <a href=";task=view&amp;id=31&amp;Itemid=74&amp;jumival=13719">The Real News</a>, “They’ll tell us, ‘Move, we gotta go here, you gotta move off there.’ We ain’t doing nothing!”</p><p>When Paul Jay relocated The Real News operations to Baltimore in 2013 and initiated a series of roundtable discussions with local cops, he learned about the hostile racial attitudes white officers were importing into the city. “I’ve talked to some black cops in Baltimore and one of them told me that in the locker room,” Jay said, “and when they’re getting ready to go on their shift, some of the white cops joke…’Time to go back to work in the zoo.’”</p><p>While the Baltimore Police Department recruits its manpower outside city limits, its leadership is regularly junketed to training tours in Israel, the occupying power whose hyper-militarized settlers act as some of the Middle East’s most aggressive outside agitators. In September 2009, members of the Baltimore PD “toured [Israel] and met with their Israeli counterparts to exchange information relating to best practices and recent advancements in security and counterterrorism,” according to the trip’s sponsor, <a href="">Project Interchange</a>. A separate <a href="">Israel tour organized</a> by the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security saw members of the Baltimore PD “begin the process of sharing ‘lessons learned’ in Israel with their law enforcement colleagues in the United States.”</p><p>Back in Maryland, the rate of citizens killed by police officers is skyrocketing. A <a href="">report by the ACLU</a> has found that 109 people died after encounters with Maryland police between 2010 and 2014, that almost 70 percent of those who died were black, and that over 40 percent of them were unarmed. In Baltimore alone, the city <a href="">was forced</a> to pay $5.7 million in lawsuits by suspects who accused police officers of beating them brutally and without cause.</p><p>Even after the National Guard vacates the streets of Baltimore and the state of emergency is lifted, vast swaths of the city will remain under occupation. Rather than return to a deadly status quo, the city could start answering the crisis by enacting residential requirements that force police officers to live in the neighborhoods they patrol.</p><p>Outside agitators have caused enough trouble in Baltimore. It’s time to send them back where they came from.</p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 09:12:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1035522 at Civil Liberties Civil Liberties baltimore What's Behind Michael Dyson's Over-the-Top Takedown of Cornel West? <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Hoping to salvage Obama’s legacy and his own reputation, Michael Eric Dyson is lashing out at their most relentless African-American critic.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-04-25_at_6.33.37_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">As the Obama era sputters to an end, new social movements are erupting in rebellion against a bankrupted bipartisan order that has doomed Americans to record levels of economic inequality, warehoused black bodies in a rapidly privatizing prison system, torn thousands of migrant families apart, outsourced unionized jobs to China and spread a dystopian assassination program across the far reaches of the globe. Activists confronting militarization on the US-Mexico border and organizers protesting lethal police violence under the banner of Black Lives Matter are sharing tactics with their counterparts from the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement challenging Israeli apartheid on university campuses. The personal and intellectual cross-pollination between these variegated struggles is producing the most exciting surge of grassroots mobilization I have witnessed in my adult life. Not everyone is happy about it, however, and it’s not hard to understand why.</p><p dir="ltr">The structure under-girding movements like Black Lives Matter is intentionally non-hierarchical, making them difficult for institutional liberal political entities to co-opt or control. Organizers eschew a programmatic agenda that demands alliances of convenience with entrenched power, resorting instead to divestment drives, civil disobedience and Situationist-style urban disruptions. With their populist sensibility, they are capturing the sense of betrayal that is mounting among millenials, and they show little appetite for electoral contests that fail to answer the crisis. “I decided it is possible I’ll never vote for another American president for as long as I live,” the Ferguson-based rapper and activist Tef Poe has <a href="">said</a> about his past support for Obama.</p><p dir="ltr">Organized with little regard for the imperatives of the Democratic Party, and often aligned against them, the wave of grassroots mobilization is increasingly viewed as a wild beast that must be tamed. The condescending <a href="">rants</a> delivered against Black Lives Matter activists by Oprah Winfrey and Al Sharpton are salutary examples of the irritation spreading within established Democratic circles.</p><p dir="ltr">Few public intellectuals have positioned themselves at the nexus of these emerging movements as firmly Cornel West has. Earlier this month, I joined him on a <a href="">panel</a> at Princeton University to support a group of students and faculty seeking to pressure the school into divesting from companies involved in human rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territory. His presence boosted the morale of the young student activists who had suddenly fallen under attack by powerful pro-Israel forces. Days later, West joined veteran human rights activist Larry Hamm at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark for a discussion on local efforts against police brutality. It was in places like this, away from the national limelight, where West gathered his vital energy and his righteous anger.</p><p dir="ltr">West’s investment in grassroots struggles ignored and even undermined by the Democratic Party has thrown him in direct conflict with the president and his supporters. He has been particularly withering in his criticisms of high profile African-American intellectuals and activists who have served as Obama’s loyal defenders. In an August 2013 <a href="">episode</a> of the radio show he hosted at the time with Tavis Smiley, West mocked Sharpton as “the bonafide house negro of the Obama plantation.” He then let loose on his former friend and understudy, Michael Eric Dyson, describing him and Sharpton as White House tools “who’ve really prostituted themselves intellectually in a very ugly and vicious way.”</p><p dir="ltr">The stage was set for an epic response from Dyson, the Georgetown University professor of sociology, frequent MSNBC contributor, and committed Obama ally. Dyson’s counter-attack arrived on April 19 in The New Republic with an <a href="">essay</a> that read more like a diatribe, and which seemed unusually disproportionate, not only because it clocked in at 9309 words. Repurposing attacks on West by Leon Wieseltier and by Larry Summers, Dyson excoriated his one-time mentor as “a scold, a curmudgeonly and bitter critic who has grown long in the tooth but sharp in the tongue when lashing one-time colleagues and allies.” (He would later <a href="">accuse</a> West of "assaulting Black people.") The malevolent thrust of the piece was encapsulated in its title: “The Ghost of Cornel West.” Dyson had condemned West as politically irrelevant and intellectually exhausted — a dead man walking. Back in the early 1990's, West served on Dyson’s dissertation committee, helping earn him admission to Princeton’s school of religion. Two decades later, Dyson authored West's obituary.</p><p dir="ltr">Much of Dyson’s harangue was comprised of complaints about West’s unnecessarily ornery tone. Dyson went to great lengths to demonstrate that West’s experiments in spoken word poetry and acting were cringeworthy, and he wrote miles to prove that West was not, in fact, a Biblical prophet. But these details of what Dyson described as West’s “rise and fall” were at best peripheral to his real grievances. The fact is, if West had not taken on Obama so forcefully, Dyson would not have tried so hard to take him out.</p><p dir="ltr">Having spent much of the past seven years slathering praise on Obama to an almost embarrassing degree, Dyson was unable to find any space in TNR to acknowledge the president’s shortcomings. Refusing to concede the sincerity of West’s criticisms, he dismissed them instead as the product of personal pathology, casting West as a jilted lover who “felt spurned and was embittered” by Obama. Dyson went on to belittle <a href="">West’s arrest</a> in Ferguson alongside 49 others at a Moral Monday protest as a “highly staged and camera-ready gesture[] of civil disobedience.” At no point did Dyson recognize West’s outspoken opposition to the Obama-backed decimation of the Gaza Strip, his rejection of Obama’s drive to pass the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, or his condemnation of the administration’s embrace of drone warfare. According to Dyson, West’s opposition to the president’s agenda could only be guided by an irrational madness.</p><p dir="ltr">While West engages with a panoply of urgent, interconnected human rights issues driving activism around the country, from mass incarceration (he authored the <a href="">foreword</a> to Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking "The New Jim Crow") to Palestine, Dyson has kept at a convenient arm's length from any cause that might conflict with White House imperatives. BDS might be sweeping American campuses, but Dyson has been largely silent on Israel's endless occupation. Dyson carps about character assassination, but he is reticent on drone assassinations. Since Obama entered the Oval Office, Dyson has had much more to say about Nas than the NSA.</p><p dir="ltr">There was a fleeting moment when Dyson’s language on Obama tracked closely with West’s. It was back in March 2010, at Tavis Smiley’s “We Count!”  <a href="">convention</a>, an experience he briefly alluded to in TNR, but which he failed to convey in detail. Before an audience of thousands, at a roundtable filled with civil rights icons from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan to West, Dyson launched into an impassioned sermon accusing Obama of abandoning black America. “Why is it that to deal with black folk, we are persona non grata?..” Dyson boomed. “You bailed out the notorious AIG, you bailed them out. You bailed out General Motors but you can’t bail out African American people who put together dimes and nickels…to make sure that you could get up in the White House?” As West gestured his enthusiastic approval and the crowd roared, Dyson ratcheted up his rhetoric: “You think Obama is Moses. He is not Moses, he is Pharaoh!” All of a sudden, Dyson’s audience turned against him, groaning its disapproval. With his confidence visibly shaken, he quickly qualified his comments: “I’m not doggin’ [Obama], I’m talking about his office!”</p><p dir="ltr">In the months and years that followed his dramatic We Count! appearance, Dyson registered at least 19 visits to the White House. He became a fixture on MSNBC, delivering regular punditry on the Comcast-owned network that was functioning as the outsourced public relations arm of the Obama administration. By Obama’s second term, Dyson was filling in for MSNBC host Ed Schultz, rattling off teleprompted scripts about Republican wingnuttery while <a href="">hailing</a> Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice as “one of the most brilliant minds alive.” Following the publication of his TNR essay on West, he has begun trumpeting the book he is writing on Obama.</p><p dir="ltr">"You know, I got like 17 books in," Dyson <a href="">boasted</a> to Ebony. "I gotta make my first like my last and my last like my first."</p><p dir="ltr">In the twilight of the Obama era, Dyson has become a political prisoner trapped within the stultifying confines set by the president, his party, and network executives with little patience for dissent. He has linked his reputation to Obama’s legacy to an inextricable degree, prompting him to defend them both against their most relentless critic. Dressed up as a high-minded scholarly critique, his attack on West was ultimately an exercise in self-justification.</p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:59:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1035326 at News & Politics News & Politics cornel west michael eric dyson feud al sharpton barack obama Exposing Anti-Islam Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Latest Deception <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">One of America&#039;s most prominent Islam bashers has a long history of making things up. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-03-26_at_6.21.53_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><strong>Update: </strong><em>Read Max Blumenthal's <a href="">overview of the neocon network's mobilization</a> against the facts contained in this article. His response to the National Review's allegations of a "lie" are included.</em></p><p>While promoting her new book, <em>Heretic</em>, on a March 23 <a href="" target="_blank">episode</a> of "The Daily Show," Somali-born author and anti-Islam activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali made a staggering claim: “If you look at 70 percent of the violence in the world today, Muslims are responsible,” she told host Jon Stewart.</p><p dir="ltr">Stewart did not demand any evidence and Hirsi Ali provided no citation. However, she made a strikingly similar statement in a <a href="" target="_blank">March 20 essay</a> previewing her new book for the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>: “According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies,” Hirsi Ali wrote in WSJ’s Saturday Essay, “at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims.”</p><p dir="ltr">I contacted the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a leading British foreign policy think tank, to inquire about the source of Hirsi Ali’s statistic. According to IISS Media Relations and Communications Officer Kat Slowe, IISS did not explicitly state such a figure in its research.</p><p dir="ltr">“I have spoken to a number of our experts and they cannot identify where this statistic may have come from,” Slowe told me.</p><p dir="ltr">“Their best guess is that the journalist in question [Hirsi Ali] may have access/a subscription to the [IISS] Armed Conflict Database and may have calculated this statistic independently. There are some concerns that it could be misleading as, without Syria (near 200,000 total deaths, and almost half of last year’s global conflict deaths) the figure would look massively different (and of course, this conflict did not have its root in religion),” Slowe added. </p><p dir="ltr">Hirsi Ali’s AHA Foundation did not respond to my request for a citation on the statistic, nor did the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute that employs Hirsi Ali as a resident scholar. My email query to Hirsi Ali’s personal account at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she serves as a fellow, also went unanswered.</p><p>Around 24 hours after my initial query, Hirsi Ali publicly backed off her claim that Muslims are “responsible” for most of the violence in the world. “Depressing that 70% of fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims,” she declared on her <a href="">personal Twitter account</a>. </p><p>Hirsi Ali <a href="">linked to a survey of casualties</a> in global conflicts by IISS’ Hanna Ucko Neill and Jens Wardenaer which made no reference to Muslims or religiously inspired violence. Apparently Hirsi Ali calculated the statistic on her own by using an IISS report that documented fatalities in conflicts in territories from eastern Ukraine to sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East to Mexico, where drug gangs fueled widespread killing. The IISS's Slowe noted that year's surge in conflict-related deaths occured thanks to the fighting in Syria, explaining that Hirsi Ali's claim "could be misleading" because "this conflict did not have its root in religion."</p><p dir="ltr">Instead of responding to my question about her statistic, Hirsi Ali’s AHA Foundation forwarded my email query to the <em>Washington Free Beacon</em>, a right-wing publication with its own history of Islamophobic <a href="" target="_blank">tall tales</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">hoaxes</a>. In a currently <a href="" target="_blank">un-bylined article</a> about the query, the <em>Free Beacon</em> accused me of anti-Semitism.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>History of fraud</strong></p><p>Hirsi Ali’s highly suspect statistic is only the latest deception by one of the world’s most prominent opponents of Islam. While other anti-Muslim activists like Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have marginalized themselves on the fringes of the far-right, Hirsi Ali remains a darling of the American mainstream media. In <em>Heretic</em>, a polemic recycling many of her past arguments against Islam, she calls for the emergence of a Muslim Martin Luther — the authoritarian 16th-century zealot who <a href="" target="_blank">called for</a> burning down the synagogues of Jews, whom he compared to a gangrenous disease. With the book's release, Hirsi Ali has been welcomed with open arms by the BBC, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and a relatively accommodating Jon Stewart. ABC News has even run an excerpt from <em><a href="" target="_blank">Heretic</a></em>, while the <em>New York Times Book Review</em> hosted her for an interview filled with <a href="" target="_blank">hardball questions</a> about her favorite children’s books. </p><p>Hirsi Ali’s power to persuade lies in her dramatic personal story and the public persona she has constructed. She has marketed herself as a expert native informant who has emerged out of the dark heart of radical Islam and into the light of Western civilization. Her tale is an uplifting, comforting one that tells many Westerners what they want to hear about themselves and their perceived enemies. With anti-Muslim attitudes at their peak across Europe and the US, her sweeping critique of Islam as an endemically violent faith has enormous cachet. The only problem is that like her writings on Islam, much of what she has told the public about herself is questionable.</p><p class="p1">In May 2006, the Dutch television program Zembla thoroughly debunked the dramatic story Hirsi Ali had told to advance her career, concluding that Hirsi Ali had sold the Dutch public “a story full of obscurities.”</p><p dir="ltr">Born Ayaan Hirsi Magam, she migrated to the Netherlands in 1992, changed her name to Hirsi Ali, and lied to Dutch authorities about her past. Contrary to the story she told the government, she arrived in the Netherlands not from war-torn Somalia, but from Kenya, where she lived in a secure environment and under the protection of the United Nations, which funded her education at a well-regarded Muslim girls’ school. Though she told immigration authorities and the Dutch public she had fled from civil war in Somalia, she left that country before its war broke out. Indeed, she did not live through a war there or anywhere else. Thanks to her fabrications, Hirsi Ali received political asylum in just five weeks.</p><p dir="ltr">Hirsi Ali told astonished audiences on Dutch talk shows that her supposedly devout family had forced her to marry a draconian Muslim man, that she had not been present at her own wedding, and that her family had threatened to kill her for offending their religious honor. However, Zembla told a drastically different story. Hirsi Ali’s brother, aunt and former husband each testified that she had indeed been present at her wedding. It turned out that Hirsi Ali’s mother had sent her brother to a Christian school, not exactly an indication of Islamic fanaticism.</p><p dir="ltr">“Yeah, I made up the whole thing,” Hirsi Ali admitted on camera to a Zembla reporter who confronted her with her lies. “I said my name was Ayaan Hirsi Ali instead of Ayaan Hirsi Magan. I also said I was born in 1967 while I was actually born in 1969.”</p><p dir="ltr">Hirsi Ali’s claim of honor killing threats also appears to be empty; she remained in touch with her father and aunt after she left her husband. In fact, her husband even came to visit her in the Dutch refugee center where she lived after leaving him. Even though he had paid her way to Europe on the grounds that she would join him in Canada, Hirsi Ali’s husband consented to the divorce she sought. <a href="" target="_blank">(Watch</a> the full Zembla program on Hirsi Ali.)</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Fabrications that toppled a government</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In 2003, just a decade after gaining political asylum in the Netherlands, Hirsi Ali was elected to the Dutch parliament on the ticket of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. VVD leadership knew that the story Hirsi Ali told on her immigration forms was a gigantic lie — she had told them as much — but covered up the fraud and even advanced it to propel her career.</p><p dir="ltr">“She’s witnessed five civil wars in her youth, and has fled with her family many times. She’s made of iron and steel,” the VVD’s Neelie-Smit Kroes said of Hirsi Ali at the time, reciting claims her party knew were false.</p><p dir="ltr">A year after joining the Dutch parliament, where she said she attempted to ban Islamic schools in the Netherlands, Hirsi Ali teamed up with Dutch director Theo van Gogh to produce a documentary called <em>Submission</em>. The film portrayed violence against women in Muslim communities as a logical result of Islamic belief, relying on actresses to portray abused women and featuring semi-nude, niqab clad women with Quranic verses scrawled across their torsos. Van Gogh, a filmmaker and columnist who had taken to calling Muslims “<a href="" target="_blank">goat fuckers</a>,” was gunned down and stabbed to death soon after the film’s release by a Dutch Islamist radical. Before fleeing the scene, the killer pinned a note to van Gogh’s body threatening Hirsi Ali with death. Hirsi Ali’s persistence in the face of the episode helped earn her hero status across the West, particularly in post-9/11 America, where Time magazine named her one of its 100 Most Influential People in 2005.</p><p dir="ltr">Zembla’s revelations of Hirsi Ali’s lies in May 2006 interrupted her ascent and threw the Dutch government into chaos. No one was more damaged than her friend and close party ally, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. Nicknamed “Iron Rita” for her ruthless anti-migrant crackdowns and her demagogic appeals to xenophobia, Verdonk was shamed by the revelations of Hirsi Ali’s deceptions. When she announced her intention to strip Hirsi Ali of her citizenship, however, she was skewered in parliament and forced to relent.</p><p dir="ltr">Days after Zembla aired its exposé, Hirsi Ali announced her plans to leave parliament and take up a position with the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington-based think tank that housed many of the neoconservatives who helped orchestrate the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the immediate aftermath of the furor she caused, Verdonk introduced the so-called “Law on Integration,” one of Europe’s harshest anti-immigrant bills. Only one member of the Dutch House of Representatives opposed it. However, the governing coalition soon collapsed because of the scandal Hirsi Ali’s deceptions inspired. With a new coalition seated in February 2007, and without Verdonk and Hirsi Ali in power, the government was able to adopt a more tolerant approach to immigrants.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Winning a Harvard fellowship, defending Breivik</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Upon her relocation to the US, Hirsi Ali was embraced by a coalition of liberal interventionists, neoconservatives and “New Atheists” like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Bill Maher. With extended <a href="" target="_blank">appearances</a> on the Christian Broadcasting Network of Pat Robertson, who blamed homosexuality for the 9/11 attacks, self-proclaimed feminist Hirsi Ali won droves of fans among the Christian right. Despite her views on Islam, which <a href="" target="_blank">she called</a> a “destructive, nihilistic cult of death,” or perhaps because of them, she received a <a href="" target="_blank">fellowship</a> from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.</p><p dir="ltr">As she rose in prominence among America’s intellectual elite, Hirsi Ali’s history of lying tumbled conveniently down the Orwellian memory hole. In <a href="" target="_blank">promotional material</a> for her best-selling 2007 memoir, <em>Infidel</em>, Hirsi Ali’s publishers at Simon &amp; Schuster have pushed the discredited claim that “Hirsi Ali survived civil war.” More recently, conservative pundit Peggy Noonan glossed over the reasons behind Hirsi Ali’s flight from the Netherlands, <a href="" target="_blank">writing</a>, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali got death threats and eventually fled to America.” Few, if any, American outlets have noted that Hirsi Ali left the Netherlands as her public credibility collapsed and her anti-immigrant party fell into crisis.</p><p>With support from across the American ideological spectrum, Hirsi Ali sharpened her rhetoric against Muslims. In a candid 2007 exchange with Reason Magazine, she <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> that the religion of Islam had to be “defeated.” “Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful,” Hirsi Ali stated. “It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now….There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”</p><p dir="ltr">Junketed to Berlin in 2012 to receive the Axel Springer Honorary Award from the right-wing German publisher, Hirsi Ali appeared to <a href="" target="_blank">blame</a> liberal defenders of multiculturalism for the killing spree committed by the Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik, claiming they left Breivik with “no other choice but to use violence. (Breivik cited Hirsi Ali’s work in his 1,500 page manifesto explaining his plans to commit a series of terrorist attacks across Norway.)</p><p dir="ltr">“[T]hat one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America – myself among them – but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.” (Her words were met with an extended standing ovation.)</p><p dir="ltr">When Brandeis University <a href="" target="_blank">canceled plans</a> to award Hirsi Ali an honorary degree in April 2014, it appeared that her increasingly vitriolic tirades against Islam and its adherents had caught up with her. But then came the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, a seemingly clarifying moment that Hirsi Ali and fellow anti-Islam activists seized on as confirmation of their darkest prophecies. Two months later, she released <em>Heretic</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Having rebranded herself a brave “reformer” <a href="" target="_blank">following in the footsteps</a> of the Selma marchers, Hirsi Ali has found her way back into the mainstream limelight. While American media demonstrates an endless appetite for her polemics about Islam, holding her to account remains taboo.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Editor's Note: Cat Slowe's official title with IISS has been clarified -- her official title is Media Relations and Communications Officer.</em></p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:19:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1033895 at Media Civil Liberties Media ayaan hirsi ali Paranoid Benjamin Netanyahu Prepares For His Last Stand <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Netanyahu has described a suicidal Jewish extremist as his personal hero. Will he follow in his path?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/50926b1892538c43faa1151e5ffbf94d0a578bed.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu propelled his Likud Party to victory over the centrist Zionist Union in national elections this week with a vehement rejection of a Palestinian state and warning of “buses full of Arabs” inundating polling places. He understands that most Jewish Israelis do not want to live beside an independent Palestinian state or next door to a Palestinian. He is one of them, after all, and he shares their sensibility. His last minute desperate appeal to racism was an Israeli application of Alabama Governor George C. Wallace’s political rule: “I will never be out-niggered again.”</p><p>By making Netanyahu the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history, Jewish Israeli voters have chosen occupation, apartheid and periodic bouts of warfare. By signing onto Likud’s election list, they have sent figures to the Knesset who make Netanyahu look like Arlo Guthrie. They include Miri Regev, an Israeli blend of Sarah Palin and Marine Le Pen who <a href="">incited</a> racist riots at a 2012 rally when she called African migrants “a cancer in the nation’s body.” Also on the list is Avi Dichter, a hardline former Shin Bet chief who authored a bill that would have formally enshrined Israel’s Jewish character as superior to its democratic charter. (The bill may pass in diluted form in the coming months). Then there is Ayoub Kara, a rabidly anti-Palestinian Druze Arab legislator who flew to Berlin in 2011 to <a href=",7340,L-4090800,00.html">pal around</a> with a neo-Nazi German millionaire and later <a href="">described</a> Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as “really a leftist.” Avigdor Lieberman, for his part, recently called for <a href="">beheading</a> Arab citizens of Israel he deemed disloyal—“we need to pick up an axe and cut off his head.”</p><p>A minority of Israeli Jewish citizens have attempted to resist their country’s destructive path, but they have never been more stigmatized or marginalized. Meanwhile, millions of Palestinians live under Israeli rule without the right to vote or any legal rights at all. The war that left some 2,200 residents of the Gaza Strip dead last summer and reduced nearly a quarter of the besieged coastal enclave’s urban landscape to rubble was <a href="">supported</a> by over 90 percent of the Jewish Israeli public, with 45 percent of Israelis complaining that their army had not used enough force. This was the Israel that rewarded Netanyahu with his fourth term.</p><p>Marketed to the Western world as a vibrant liberal democracy filled with sexy citizen-soldier girls, gay pride marchers and bespectacled Ashkenazi intellectuals anguishing over Israel’s excesses in quaint cafes, Israel today increasingly resembles the first-century CE desert fortress known as Masada. Now a popular tourist destination, Masada was the site of a mass suicide by Jewish fanatics who rebelled against the Roman Empire, then slaughtered and robbed a community of Jews at the village of Ein Gedi who had attempted to negotiate with the Romans. The Jewish Roman historian Josephus referred to the rebels as “Sicarii,” or terrorist bandits.</p><p>In his final address at Masada, with the hilltop fortress surrounded by the Roman legions, the messianic rebel leader Elazar Ben-Yair exhorted his followers to commit mass suicide. “Let our wives die before they are abused, and our children before they have tasted of slavery,” Ben-Yair declared. “And after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually, and preserve ourselves in freedom.” The zealots slaughtered one another, with the men among some 960 rebels running swords through their wives then butchering their children before killing themselves. The seven survivors of the massacre recalled to Josephus a stifling atmosphere in which all dissent was crushed and conformism reigned.</p><p>Instead of teaching Masada as a cautionary tale, Israel’s founding generation glorified the suicidal zealots. Israeli children celebrated their bar mitzvahs en masse at Masada, while soldiers ascended the steep incline to take their induction rites at the hilltop fort and recite a line from the poet Yitzhak Lamdan: “Never again willl Masada fall!” The Israeli political psychologist Daniel Bar-Tal titled his groundbreaking 1983 study of Jewish Israeli attitudes, “Masada Syndrome,” revealing the powerful influence of a siege mentality “in which members of a group hold a central belief that the rest of the world has highly negative behavioral intentions towards the group.” Masada was the symbolic space where all the demons of the Israeli psyche blended into a single phantasm of a last stand.</p><p>Nearly all of Israel’s leaders have demonstrated symptoms of Masada Syndrome, but few have embraced it as enthusiastically as Netanyahu. His world is a dystopia filled with genocidal enemies hellbent on the destruction of the Jewish people. They range from what he called “the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam” to the “modern Hitler” in Tehran, from the “goons in Gaza” to a Palestinian national movement <a href="">controlled</a> by anti-Semitic gamma rays emitted from Hitler’s brain. Netanyahu has <a href="">identified</a> the New York Times and Ha’aretz as two of Israel’s greatest foes, and once <a href="">described</a> former Obama advisors Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod as “self-hating Jews.” In the final days of his re-election campaign, he howled against an <a href="">international conspiracy</a> to overthrow him, with Barack Hussein Obama as its puppet-master. (A robo-call to voters in Israel <a href="">warned</a> them to vote for Netanyahu against “Hussein Obama.”)</p><p>Given his paranoid style, it is unsurprising that Netanyahu has identified the leader of the suicidal Masada bandits, Elazar Ben-Yair, as one of his personal heroes in his ironically titled 1994 book, <em>A Durable Peace</em>. During his speech to the Congress just before the election, boycotted by 58 Democratic lawmakers and Vice-President Joseph Biden, Netanyahu channeled Ben-Yair’s final words: “For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why—this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”</p><p>Few observers of his extraordinary performance in Washington understood his subtext. Netanyahu’s statement can be read in the wake of his victory as his threat to Israel’s Western patrons. To him, the EU and US are not allies, but Romans attempting to impose their oppressive order on Jerusalem. If they refuse to bend to his will, he will defy them as his hero Ben-Yair did. Vowing to “stand alone,” Netanyahu has set the stage for an ultimate stand-off.</p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:08:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1033551 at World News & Politics World benjamin netanyahu Israel Masada Did British Security Services Drive 'Jihadi John' to Join ISIS? Emails and Phone Exchanges Raise Serious Questions <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Documented evidence suggests the UK&#039;s MI5 drove a young Muslim man to the brink of madness.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-03-09_at_10.03.32_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr">In May 2009, the London-based human rights group Cage UK received a <a href="">panicked phone call</a> from a young man who had just been interrogated by the British security agency MI5. He had just returned from a trip to Tanzania when he was accosted by an MI5 agent who accused him of seeking to travel to Somalia to fight with Al-Shabab, a radical Islamist group waging a civil war against the country’s Western-backed government.</p><p dir="ltr">“He asked me, What do you think of 7/7?" the young man recalled, referring to the coordinated suicide bombing attacks that struck London on July 7, 2005. “I said, man, innocent people have died. You know, this is extremism!”</p><p dir="ltr">Next, the MI5 agent asked for his opinion of the US invasion of Afghanistan. The man replied that he opposed it on the grounds that innocent people were killed. It was a common view not only among British Muslims, but among supporters of the UK’s Labor Party in general.</p><p dir="ltr">“Then he starts telling me, What did you think of 9/11?" the man continued, with anguish rising in his voice. “I told him, this is a wrong thing. What happened was wrong! What do you want me to say? If I had the opportunity to make those lives come back, I would make those lives come back. I think what happened was wrong!”</p><p dir="ltr">This month, the exasperated young man heard in those phone calls was exposed by the <a href="">Washington Post </a>as the masked ISIS executioner known as “Jihadi John.” Back in May 2009, he was a 21-year-old University of Westminster graduate from West London named Mohammed Emwazi. Over the course of the next four years, the MI5 hounded Emwazi, attempting to recruit him as a spy and threatening him with harsh punishment if he refused to collaborate. By the time Emwazi left the UK in 2013, he had blamed the security services for driving him to the brink of madness. He would emerge soon after as the world's most notorious terrorist.</p><p dir="ltr">Asim Qureshi, a spokesman for CAGE who was approached by Emwazi in 2009 and documented his accounts of security service harassment, believes MI5 played a critical role in driving Emwazi into the hands of ISIS. “We have created here in the UK an environment in which the security agencies can act with impunity, can destroy the lives of young people, without any recourse to challenge them in an effective way,” Qureshi declared at a <a href="">February 26 press conference</a> in London where CAGE released its record of communications with Emwazi.</p><p dir="ltr">Five days later at CAGE’s office in West London, Qureshi explained to me, “We’ve never said it’s MI5 that’s solely responsible for his descent into violence. But MI5’s role is a contributing factor in making him want to leave the UK for Syria.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>“Why don’t you come work for us?”</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Emwazi first appeared on the radar of the British security services when he embarked on a trip with a group of college friends to Tanzania in May 2009. The MI5 believed that Emwazi was on his way to joining Al-Shabab in Somalia at the time, even though he had landed in a country that did not share a border with it. Emwazi insisted he was planning a safari in Tanzania and even produced a return ticket to substantiate his claim.</p><p dir="ltr">He had managed to fly out of the UK without incident and was able to pass through Amsterdam, where he had spent two days, all while he and his friends were under careful MI5 surveillance. As soon as he arrived in Tanzania, Emwazi was detained by local authorities acting on directions from the MI5, then stripped to his underwear and held in a dark, mosquito-infested cell. Over the next 24 hours, he said strange men with guns periodically entered to cell to threaten him. Tanzanian authorities ultimately found nothing to prove Emwazi had plans to join Al-Shabab and <a href="">deported him</a> on the curious grounds of having exhibited drunken, belligerent behavior on the flight from Amsterdam.</p><p dir="ltr">When he returned to Amsterdam from Tanzania, Emwazi was greeted at the airport by an MI5 agent calling himself Nick. “[Nick] said that at the end of the day they had been following us and watching us closely,” Emwazi told CAGE UK. “I told him that it was news to me and I had no idea about it. He knew everything about me; where I lived, what I did, the people I hanged around with.”</p><p dir="ltr">Emwazi said Nick attempted to induce him into spying for the MI5: “Listen Mohammed: You’ve got the whole world in front of you; you’re 21 years old; you just finished uni —why don’t you work for us?”</p><p dir="ltr">Emwazi was adamant in his refusal, triggering an ominous warning from Nick: “You’re going to have a lot of trouble... You’re going to be known... you’re going to be followed... life will be harder for you.”</p><p dir="ltr">The MI5 had apparently attempted to blackmail Emwazi, offering him an escape from its ever-tightening dragnet on the condition that he spy for them. Though the British government never formally charged Emwazi with any offense, the MI5 <a href="">interrogated his fiancee</a> and her family in Kuwait, and gradually stripped him of his ability to travel or work outside the UK.</p><p dir="ltr">When he was denied a visa to return to Kuwait in July 2010, where he had been employed as a salesman for an IT company, Emwazi got back in touch with CAGE. He was despondent, telling Qureshi he felt like “a person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and country, Kuwait.”</p><p dir="ltr">In an email exchange he conducted soon afterward with British journalist Robert Verkaik, whom CAGE urged him to contact, <a href="">Emwazi expressed</a> suicidal fantasies: “Sometimes I feel like I’m a dead man walking, not fearing they may kill me. Rather, fearing that one day, I’ll take as many pills as I can so I can sleep for ever!! I just want to get away from these people!!!”</p><p dir="ltr">According to Qureshi, Emwazi remained determined to find a way out of his predicament despite his increasing bouts of anguish. “What I saw was persistence [from Emwazi] — persistence to keep using the system,” Qureshi told me. “I never saw him losing hope. He was making a constant effort, he was always coming up with new ideas. Can I try this? What about traveling to Kuwait with my mother? Having an old lady there might get the MI5 off my back.”</p><p dir="ltr">But nothing Emwazi did could release him from the security services’ grip. In early 2013, he was rejected without explanation from an English instruction program in Saudi Arabia even as several of his friends were accepted. Even when he legally changed his name that year to Mohamed al-Ayan on his father’s advice, he was rejected again for a visa to travel to Kuwait. A virtual prisoner in London, Emwazi disappeared without a trace in August 2013. Qureshi suspects he slipped out with a forged passport, but the British government has not explained how he escaped while under such intensive monitoring.</p><p dir="ltr">When Emwazi resurfaced soon after, it was as Jihadi John, the black-masked ISIS executioner wielding a dagger over bound Western hostages clad in orange, Guantanamo-style jumpsuits.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Conveyor Belt</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Hours after Emwazi was unmasked as Jihadi John, CAGE UK <a href="">released</a> a massive trove of documents relating to his treatment by the MI5. The dossier revealed sustained harassment, constant surveillance and regular interrogations, exposing before an international audience the pernicious role the security services have played within Britain’s Muslim community since the dawn of the "war on terror."</p><p dir="ltr">CAGE’s documents revealed how the MI5 not only groomed extremists as collaborators, but how its methods actually propelled marginalized young men down the path of extremism. (Ironically, just before he condemned CAGE’s criticism of the MI5, Prime Minister Cameron ordered a new inquiry into the <a href="">security agency’s harassment</a> of investigation Michael Adebowale, the British Muslim who butchered the British soldier Lee Rigby as revenge for the military’s abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan).</p><p dir="ltr">Every possible explanation has been offered for Emwazi’s descent into violent jihadism, from a <a href="">head injury</a> he supposedly suffered in grade school to his <a href="">enjoyment</a> of the Goosebumps children's books series to his love for violent computer games. None of these seemingly superficial explanations have been challenged.</p><p dir="ltr">The most widely accepted narrative of Emwazi’s radicalization has focused around an <a href="http://">academically unproven theory</a> churned out by British government-backed neoconservative think tanks like the <a href="">Quilliam Foundation</a> called the “<a href="">conveyor belt</a>.” According to this theory, young Muslims turn to violent Jihad as a result of radical political and religious ideological inculcation, not in reaction to government repression or the West’s involvement in the Middle East. Incorporated by the British government into its <a href="">Prevent counter-terrorism strategy</a>, the “conveyor belt” theory has been leveraged to campaign for de facto loyalty oaths for new immigrants and intensified surveillance of Muslim political and civic leadership. Those who challenge the theory can expect to be labeled extremists and terror sympathizers by its promoters.</p><p dir="ltr">When CAGE’s Qureshi convened the press conference on the MI5’s harassment of Emwazi -- a blatant rebuke of the politically convenient "conveyor belt" theory -- his organization was bombarded with condemnations from <a href="">Prime Minister David Cameron</a> to London Mayor <a href="http://who">Boris Johnson</a>, accused Qureshi of trading in “irrelevant nonsense.” Andrew Gilligan, a columnist for the right-wing <a href="">British Telegraph</a>, described CAGE as “extremists peddling lies to British Muslims to turn them into supporters of terror” and as “a terrorism advocacy group.” Sky News presenter Kay Burley joined the pile-on by<a href=""> opening</a> an interview with CAGE spokesman Cerie Bullivant, <a href="">who lived</a> for two years under a control order under bogus charges of terrorism, with the question, “What level of harassment by the security services here in the United Kingdom justifies beheadings?”</p><p dir="ltr">While CAGE’s detractors hardly struggled to conjure up creative denunciations, they could not seem to counter the preponderance of evidence demonstrating the destructive role MI5 played in Emwazi’s radicalization. Even if Emwazi had planned to join Al-Shabab back in 2009, as the British government and its supporters maintain, MI5’s harassment of his fiancee, unrelenting threats and denial of his freedom of movement hardly helped to pull him back from the brink. If anything, they pushed him further into the margins of British society and closer to the bloody netherworld of ISIS, where his English language skills sent him rising through the ranks.</p><p dir="ltr">“Based on the person I knew, it comes as a shock to me that [Emwazi] would join up with ISIS,” Qureshi told me. “It might be a sense of belonging. He spent years feeling like he didn’t belong anywhere and now you have a group saying <em>ahlan o sahlan</em> [Arabic for “welcome”] and help us build the Islamic nation.”</p><p dir="ltr">Qureshi explained, “Some of our youth are extremely intoxicated by this idea. The idea that they will be welcomed somewhere and not judged on the basis of their religion is very intoxicating.”</p><p dir="ltr">The attacks on CAGE from the British government and supporters of its war on terror prompted banks to freeze the organization’s assets. Qureshi said a deluge of death threats forced him to move his family out of their home. But even as its staffers were painted as dupes for ISIS, the organization attempted a dramatic intervention to stop ISIS from executing Alan Henning, a British Muslim convert taken hostage while he was performing relief work in Syria.  </p><p dir="ltr">“We tried to create an environment where ISIS and their supporters had to question whether or not it was Islamically permissible to kill this man,” Qureshi explained. “And we believe our efforts behind the scenes led to the delay in his execution.”</p><p dir="ltr">Qureshi said he was devastated when CAGE’s efforts came up short. He described the moment that Jihadi John appeared on television screens across the world with a dagger to Henning’s neck as one of the worst days of his professional career. “People vilified me for getting upset in the press conference [about Emwazi and the MI5],” Qureshi said. “I was getting upset that this kind, gentle man I once knew was capable of killing someone like Alan Henning.”</p><p dir="ltr">While the mask has been lifted on Henning’s executioner, the security services that attempted to recruit Emwazi maintain cover from the British government and an obeisant national media. Important questions remain unanswered, such as why MI5 failed to reveal Jihadi John’s real identity when the <a href="">FBI said</a> it knew who he was back in September 2014. But official accountability has been elusive.</p><p dir="ltr">As attempts to explore the state’s role in driving radicalization are shut down with demagogic denunciations, the government’s counter-terror strategy grows more draconian. In an apparent reaction to Emwazi’s identification as Jihadi John, the British Home Office has drawn up a <a href="">proposal</a> to cut social benefits to anyone who fails to learn proper English or develop “British values.”</p><p dir="ltr">“We need to stand up and be more assertive in promoting our values and challenging the extremists who fundamentally oppose them,” the document read. “This will include explaining our foreign policy [and] promoting mainstream voices supporting the quiet majority in all communities who oppose extremism.”</p> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 07:37:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1032981 at World World Isis mi5 david cameron radicalizaton muslim britain Cage UK Mohammed Emwazi Emails and Racist Chats Show How Cops and GOP Are Teaming Up to Undermine de Blasio <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Threats seem to expose a political plot against the NYC mayor and the BlackLivesMatter movement.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2014-12-29_at_2.46.31_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>When hundreds of cops from around the country and as far away as Canada turned their backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, the NYPD officer shot to death alongside his partner Wenjian Liu by a deranged gunman, they fired the first salvo in a carefully coordinated political operation aimed at discrediting the liberal mayor and shattering the ongoing anti-police brutality protest movement. </p><p>AlterNet has obtained emails revealing plans to organize a series of anti-de Blasio protests around the city until the summer of 2015. Billed as a non-partisan movement in support of “the men and women of the NYPD,” the protests are being orchestrated by a cast of NYPD union bosses and local Republican activists allied with Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor who recently <a href="">called on</a> de Blasio to “say you’re sorry to [NYPD officers] for having created a false impression of them.” The first rally is planned to take place at Queens Borough Hall at noon on January 13.  </p><p>Joe Concannon, a failed Republican State Senate candidate and current president of the Tea Party-aligned Queens Village Republican Club, is the main organizer of the burgeoning anti-de Blasio protest effort. The retired NYPD captain and former Giuliani advisor is a <a href="">close ally</a> of Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch. Lynch generated national headlines — and cheers from rank and file cops — when he claimed that de Blasio “has blood on [his] hands” just hours after Ismaaiyl Brinsley murdered Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.</p><p>In an email exchange with a supporter, Concannon said he and his allies had filed papers to found a non-profit to fund the anti-de Blasio campaign. The January 13 Queens demonstration would be among the largest, according to Concannon. Major rallies in March in Breezy Point, Queens and at City Hall were also in the works, he said.</p><p>In a separate email dated December 26 and titled, “Support Your Police rallies,” Concannon declared the onset of a campaign he dubbed Operation All Out. “Everyone MUST get out and support these fine men and women,” he implored several NYPD associates. </p><p>Jack Coughlin, the treasurer of the NYPD Superior Officers Association, responded by proposing “a rally held in Breezy Point in March when the weather will be better [that] could attract thousands of pro-cop supporters to counter the professional anti-cop organizers.” Coughlin went on to urge Concannon to pressure Republican representatives Peter King and Lee Zeldin and NY GOP State Chairman Ed Cox to “get the House Homeland Committee to hold public hearings on who's financing Al Sharpton's anti-cop protest.”</p><p>National Police Defense Foundation executive director Joseph Occhipinti chimed in to offer help in coordinating the demonstrations. “I would suggest that everything go through the [Patrick Lynch’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association] for any organized protests,” he added. A former agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Occhipinti was <a href="">convicted</a> in 1991 of conducting illegal searches and narrowly escaped jail time for allegedly stealing $16,000 from his victims. When the US attorney who secured his conviction, Jeh Johnson, was appointed by Obama to direct the Department of Homeland Security last year, Occhipinti <a href="">rushed</a> to the right-wing writer Charles C. Johnson to complain.</p><p>The anger coursing through the ranks of the NYPD is driving union bosses like Lynch to ratchet up their rhetoric against the mayor. Lynch is up for election soon and seems desperate to channel the resentment of his constituents. Meanwhile, Republican operatives see a chance to do fatal damage to a rising Democratic star and close Clinton ally by resurrecting the kind of racial backlash politics that won them urban white votes during the Nixon era. </p><p>Not since the early 1970s, when liberal mayor John Lindsay presided over a politically chaotic and crime-ridden New York, has a mayor been so reviled by the NYPD. With an African-American wife with a history of liberal activism and a biracial son who played a pivotal role in his campaign for mayor, de Blasio has become, at least for some cops, a symbol of everything they despise about the city they patrol. Though <a href="">some officers</a> support de Blasio's calls to reform the NYPD -- particularly <a href="">Latino</a> and black cops -- there seems to be no organized force within the department capable of obstructing the campaign against the Mayor.</p><p>A cursory glance at message boards on a semi-private police chat forum suggests that opposition to de Blasio within NYPD ranks has descended into raw racial paranoia. </p><p><strong>NYPD Officers, In Their Own Words</strong></p><p>On Thee Rant, a popular chat site known to be an online watercooler for active duty and retired NYPD officers, commenters <a href="">fret</a> about possible ambushes by black gang members, obsess over radical leftists, <a href="">organize boycotts</a> of chain stores and a Chipotle outlet they <a href="http://http//">deem</a> “anti-cop,” and hatch plots to target protest leaders. While the forum attracts a disproportionate number of cops with a proclivity for outrageous hyperventilation, it also offers a rare look at the unvarnished views of the retired police activists and old guard officers mobilizing against the mayor. </p><p>As veteran NYPD observer Len Levitt <a href="">wrote</a> of the forum, officers “are often so constricted by the department that Thee Rant is often their only outlet. That’s good, until it isn’t.”</p><p>In comment threads, de Blasio is routinely referred to as “Kaiser Wilhelm,” a derisive reference to his birth name, Warren Wilhelm Jr. Police resentment of de Blasio has simmered since his campaign for mayor, when he ran against Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policies. The anti-de Blasio sentiment grew during the early months of his term, as he wrangled with the Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) over police salaries and dropped a Bloomberg appeal of a federal lawsuit that found NYPD officers unfairly targeted people of color with stop-and-frisk tactics.</p><p>But nothing fueled NYPD outrage like de Blasio’s relationship with Al Sharpton. When the mayor hired a former Sharpton aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, as the chief of staff to his wife, Chirlane McCray, then <a href="">defended</a> Noerdlinger against atorrent of bad press for her relationship with an ex-convict and her son’s Facebook postings referring to cops as “pigs,” NYPD anger exploded.</p><p>On a Thee Rant forum, commenters homed in on Noerdlinger’s race (she is black) and her gender. While one commenter <a href="">described</a> her as “a weed soaked cum dumpster low life POS,” another officer wrote of her and her partner: “The bit-ch will be bugging mofo's ass, if she hasn't done so already, about making nigge-r noise in court and he will begin clobbering her, and then junior will jump in and snap his neck!”</p><p>“They're born N I _ _ E R S , live like N I _ _ E R S and usually die like N I _ _ E R S,” a police commenter <a href="">added</a>. His language was typical of commentary appearing on the forum whenever Noerdlinger's name was mentioned. </p><p>When de Blasio remarked this month that he had instructed his son, Dante, to use extra caution when engaging with cops, Thee Rant commenters lit up the chat boards. In a typically lurid thread, a Thee Rant commenter made light of the struggle de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, has waged with substance abuse. “Somebody should slip her a ‘hot bag,’” a fellow officer who called himself Thisroundsoneme <a href="">replied</a>, suggesting a cop plant drugs on her to frame her for possession.</p><p>A Staten Island grand jury’s refusal to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for strangling Eric Garner to death was not only a cause for celebration at Thee Rant, but an excuse for a new wave of racist tirades. “F u c k  Black America, their equal or worse than whites, when speaking of Racism…" wrote Eddie R, a forum commenter. “F u c k  Diversity, it's not working and never will work…” </p><p>“The latinos are about 24 percent of the population as opposed to the 13 percent that negroes comprise. Perhaps that is why our 'brethren of color' are using any excuse to act up,” another NYPD commenter <a href="">added</a>.</p><p>When the killing of Ramos and Liu was first reported, Thee Rant commenters leapt to blame de Blasio, and for the first time, focused their loathing on Bratton. “Allowing these savage animals to get away with the SHYT they are is the reason this happened. The blood is on your hands Mr Mayor and You Police Commissioner Bratton,” a forum member <a href="">declared,</a> foreshadowing remarks by the PBA’s Lynch. </p><p>NYPD Commissioner Bratton has emerged in recent weeks as a hate figure on Thee Rant forums. The angry cops have dubbed him "Beansy," mocking his thick Boston accent and deriding him as a hyper-ambitious, imperious technocrat who has served as a political stage prop for the liberal de Blasio. While one forum commenter called for a PBA vote of no confidence for both de Blasio and Bratton, another waxed nostalgic for Ray Kelly, the former commissioner whose legacy was defined by his defense of stop-and-frisk. “The difference between Kelly and Bratton is Kelly, for better or for worse ran the Department while Bratton holds DeBlasio's coat,” a commenter who called himself Petefio <a href="">wrote.</a></p><p>As the demonstrations against police brutality spread, some Thee Rant commenters vowed to target protest organizers like <a href="">Jose LaSalle</a>, an activist with Copwatch who documents police abuses in the Bronx. “Jose hates white people!” <a href="">wrote</a> a commenter who identified himself as a former member of the NYPD and went by the handle, Retirednutjob. “What a shock! Why don't he go back to Puerto Rico? Go harass the Police down there Jose and see what happens!”</p><p>The ex-cop went on to post what he said was LaSalle’s home phone number and suggested a campaign to force him out of his job with the New York City Parks Department. “Come on we are a powerful force of retired investigators and private eyes and various other sources, lets start following and watching these !%@% stirrers it cant be that hard to find dirt and discredit these azzholes,” Baysidedet <a href="">clamored</a>.</p><p><strong>From #TurnYourBack to Operation All Out</strong></p><p>At the Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn where Ramos and Liu were pronounced dead on December 20, the PBA and Sergeants Benevolent Association received word that de Blasio was on his way. It was the police union bosses’ chance to embrace the raw rage of the beat cops they represented. When the mayor arrived, proceeding down a long hallway past a line of officers, <a href="">the cops turned their backs</a> to him in a show of total contempt.</p><p>“That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor,” the PBA’s Lynch <a href="">proclaimed </a>afterwards. “When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.” </p><p>The following day, actor James Woods seized on the protest to popularize a hashtag on Twitter: #TurnYourBack. Woods’ first tweet, published just hours after the spontaneous protest took place, has been retweeted more than 2500 times.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="385" width="480"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="385" width="480" typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/large/public/screen_shot_2014-12-29_at_2.38.35_pm.png" /></div><p>Woods is one of the Tea Party right's favorite celebrities and happens to be a friend and golfing partner of Rudy Giuliani. In fact, Woods played the former NYC mayor in the forgotten post-9/11 biopic, <em>Rudy</em>. “I fought tooth and nail to portray him as the genuine hero that I unequivocally believe him to be,” Woods <a href="">said</a> at the time.</p><p>With help from Woods and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post and Fox News Channel, where Giuliani <a href="">blamed</a> the Mayor for “bringing [police protests] on himself,” the NYPD’s war on de Blasio became a flashpoint for the national partisan battle. The stage was set for an epic rebuke.</p><p>Nearly 700 cops from around the country and Canada descended on New York City for the December 27 funeral of the murdered officer Rafael Ramos, taking advantage of an offer from Jet Blue of <a href="">free flights</a> to the memorial. Among those represented at the ceremony were <a href="">members</a> of the Albuquerque Police Department, a scandal-stained force with the <a href="">highest rate</a> of shootings of unarmed civilians in the country.</p><p>As soon as de Blasio appeared on a large screen monitor positioned outside the church where the funeral took place, cops who may never have heard the mayor’s name responded to the cue to turn their backs. “100% including Volunteer FD guys from Long Island and Cops from everywhere from Canadian Mounties to San Diego and San Francisco, and everywhere in between [turned their backs],” <a href="">recalled Thee Rant member</a> Thisroundsonme. “Even civilians in the rear behind the detail turned their backs as word spread as to what was going on.”</p><p>Another cop put the protest <a href="">in perspective</a>: “This was a show of solidarity for the Police nationwide. Cops everywhere are under attack by the public they protect, and the politicians who should be supporting their Police are derelict in their duties... And this is what you get.”</p><p>Officer Liu’s funeral on January 3 will present police with one more opportunity to admonish de Blasio. Then Operation All Out begins, with Republican operatives hoping to ride out of the political wilderness on the rising tide of blue rage. In an email to a supporter, Queens Village Republican Club president Joe Concannon referred to the planned wave of protests as “our plan to keep it in the news for the first half of 2015.”</p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:25:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1029463 at News & Politics Civil Liberties Media News & Politics bill de blasio Inside the Twisted Police Department That Kills Unarmed Citizens at the Highest Rate in the Country <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Hyper-militarized cops here have killed residents with shocking impunity.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_208336891.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>When an Albuquerque police officer shot his 22-year-old son to death, Mike Gomez was determined to crusade for justice. Three years later, he is simply despondent. </p><p>“It’s so frustrating,” Gomez told me. “There’s no accountability here. There’s no justice. There’s no respect. There’s no humanity here. There’s nothing. It’s so disgusting that they get away with it.”</p><p>A single father, Mike Gomez struggled for years to help his son, Alan, cope with a substance abuse problem. When Mike Gomez left town on May 10, 2011, Alan Gomez fell back into his addiction and was overcome with paranoid delusions. He began pacing back and forth on the front lawn of his brother's house, holding a conversation with an imaginary person about gang members assembling to kill him. Alarmed family members eventually phoned a dispatcher from the Albuquerque police, who summoned police to what she mistakenly believed was a hostage situation. </p><p>From across town, an off-duty cop named Sean Wallace heard the alert blare through his scanner, then barreled over to the scene before a crisis intervention officer could arrive. Without provocation, Wallace opened fire, killing Alan Gomez with a high-powered rifle as he entered the house through a screen door. The troubled young man was holding nothing in his hand but a plastic spoon. </p><p>With his death, Alan Gomez joined the list of at least 27 people killed by Albuquerque police officers since 2010, and the more than 40 wounded by gunfire. In a city of just over 540,000, the body count is staggering. Indeed, the rate of officer-involved shootings by Albuquerque police is <a href="">eight times that</a> of the NYPD and two times higher than in Chicago, a megalopolis with one of the steepest levels of violent crime in the country. </p><p>Alan Wagman, an assistant public defender who served on Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission, told me he observed a pattern of brutality that extended well beyond the shooting of unarmed people. He described witnessing numerous cases of officers applying a technique known as a “sternum rub” to homeless people. “They take their knuckles and hold it against the breastbone, push and rub back and forth,” Wagman explained. “The pain is so extreme only a comatose person wouldn’t wake up. So cops will come upon a passed out drunk, give him a sternum rub, the person wakes up and hits the cop and they charge him with assault on a peace officer. I’ve seen this more than once. It’s clear they’re trained to do this.”</p><p>Wagman described the Albuquerque police as the most violent department he has ever encountered in his career as a public defender. “I think they’re trained to kill people,” he said. “I can’t understand it any other way.”</p><p>A damning <a href="">report released this April</a> by the Department of Justice concluded that the “Albuquerque police department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of deadly force.” It went on to accuse members of the department of having “shot and killed civilians who did not pose an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to the officers or others.” The report singled out Wallace for killing Gomez when "no one's life was in danger and an APD negotiator was on his way to the scene.''</p><p>When I visited Albuquerque this October, local civil liberties activists explained the city’s plague of lethal police violence in a broader context of racism and economic inequality. The legacy of settler-colonialism and its echo in the immigration crisis has cultivated an atmosphere of racially charged brutality. The state’s economy subsists off of the arms industry, military contracts and nuclear research, fueling a militarized culture that filters down to local police forces. Albuquerque is at the crossroads of major drug-running route, making it a central staging ground for the federally funded war on drugs. Add to the equation a plethora of casinos, a dearth of jobs and a local government operated by a tax-slashing mayor overseeing a corrupt patronage network and it becomes clear why the blighted metropolis known as Duke City has become a virtual playpen for killer cops like Sean Wallace.</p><p><strong>A Killer’s Rewards</strong></p><p>Wallace joined the Albuquerque police in 2007 during an ill-fated push to expand the force to 1000 officers. He was among four officers who had just been fired from the New Mexico State Police for taking payments from Wackenhut, a private security contractor, while on duty as state cops. The four barely averted prison terms for the double-dipping scandal. </p><p>When the rejects were hired by the Albuquerque PD, <a href="">then-Deputy Police Chief Mike Castro pledged,</a> “They do not carry guns, they are not going to be badged.” Almost as soon as Wallace reported for duty, however, he was sporting a badge and bearing an assault rifle.</p><p>Besides killing Alan Gomez, Wallace has shot two other unarmed people in his short career — one died — and terrorized an untold number of others. He was named in a federal lawsuit for <a href="">ramming the car of a wanted man</a> driving his family to school, then handcuffing the man’s children as their schoolmates watched in horror. Though his killing of Gomez cost Albuquerque $900,000, part of a whopping $26 million tab in settlements paid out to families of citizens killed by cops since 2010, Wallace has received nothing but rewards from his superiors. (The first time he killed an unarmed person, Wallace cost the city $235,000.)</p><p>For shooting Gomez, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association <a href="http://;_r=0">paid Wallace $500</a> and gave him three days off. Other cops who shot local residents have received checks ranging from $300 to $1000, along with several days of leave—payouts the police union calls “decompression money."</p><p>Wallace has since received a special <a href="">commendation for distinguished service</a> and was promoted to sergeant. Despite changing the story of how he killed Alan Gomez several times during his deposition, Wallace has been<a href="">elected to the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association’s</a> executive board as the area representative for police supervisors. Chief among his duties is coaching other officers on how to structure their testimonies when they appear before Internal Affairs investigators. </p><p>“Wallace is laughing at me right now,” Gomez said. “He got money, he got a promotion, and now he’s coaching other cops on how to lie.”</p><p>Perhaps the only consequence Wallace has faced for his lethal violence was being shamed by protesters into withdrawing as a contestant from the city’s 2014 National Police Shooting Championships. Nicknamed by local anti-brutality activists the “<a href="">Killer Cop Competition</a>,” the target-shooting jamboree was overseen by Tim Gonterman, a local police officer who tased a homeless man until his ear fell off. (The 2002 incident cost the city $300,000 in an excessive force lawsuit.) Gonterman has since been promoted to the rank of major and appointed to oversee the reforms demanded by the Department of Justice. Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden proudly <a href="">declared</a> that Gonterman has “demonstrated the strong leadership skills necessary for us to move ahead with DOJ reform requirements.” </p><p><strong>Partner in Crime</strong></p><p>Wallace’s partner, Jeremy Dear, has also demonstrated a penchant for deception and wanton violence. Dear was caught lying to investigators during his deposition on the killing of Alan Gomez. He claimed he saw Gomez carrying something resembling a firearm when Wallace shot him. However, in audio recorded on his lapel camera when the incident took place, Dear clearly stated he could not even see Gomez’s hands.</p><p>This April, just two weeks after the DOJ released its report on the Albuquerque police, Dear shot and killed a 19-year-old named Mary Hawkes under suspicious circumstances. Dear claimed Hawkes had stolen a truck, then drawn a .32 pistol on him when he attempted to arrest her. In the end, Hawkes was found shot three times at a 60-degree <a href="">downward angle</a>, indicating she was lying down when killed. </p><p>Curiously, Dear could not produce any video from his lapel camera that captured his shooting of Hawkes. It was the fourth time that video from his camera had mysteriously disappeared. At Police Chief Eden’s press conference on the incident, he <a href="">displayed a replica of the gun Hawkes</a> was accused of pointing at Dear, raising questions about the whereabouts of the real pistol. To Hawkes' bereaved friends and supporters, it appeared the department was determined to sweep another killing under the rug along with the life of a homeless young woman city leadership seemed to view as disposable. </p><p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Raised in foster homes and drawn to the street in search of a community, Mary Hawkes fit the profile of so many other victims of the Albuquerque police. During a stint at the Bernalillo Juvenile Detention Center, she earned her GED and <a href="">articulated through poetry</a> her harrowing experience as a homeless teen born to abusive parents. On the streets of Albuquerque’s gritty International District, she and her friends sometimes broke into cars or vacant homes in search of places to sleep. It was there, under circumstances that will never be fully known, that Hawkes encountered the cop who would cut her life short.</span></p><p>This month, Dear was <a href="">fired</a> for repeatedly turning off or tampering with his lapel camera. But it remains unlikely that he will ever be indicted for killing Hawkes. Meanwhile, Police Chief Eden has declared that the department’s most violent elements may be intractable.</p><p><strong>The Killer Cop Clubhouse</strong></p><p>Within the Albuquerque police department, a little-known elite unit serves as a de facto clubhouse for some of its most violent members. It is a hyper-militarized anti-gang force known as the Repeat Offender Project, or ROP. For the past two decades, the team has chosen a hangman’s noose as its symbol. As <a href="">Jeff Proctor reported for Albuquerque’s News 13,</a> “The [ROP] team plastered the ominous insignia all over its wanted posters, internal memos and other documents.” </p><p>ROP members are drawn increasingly from SWAT teams, dress in plainclothes and function separately from the rest of the police force. Its leadership has refused to publicly disclose the names of officers in the unit. According to Proctor, a number of ROP officers have been funded by the New Mexico State Police “to receive training that has its roots in preparing soldiers for America’s wars in the Middle East and elsewhere” at a Department of Energy military training ground in the desert.</p><p>“I think of [ROP] like a fight club,” civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy remarked to Proctor. “They truly are cowboys. There’s no supervision, and there’s no chain of command. The ROP team does whatever it wants.”</p><p>Though it is only comprised of a handful of members, the ROP is responsible for at least one out of every 10 officer-involved shootings since 2005. The videotaped shooting this April of a mentally ill homeless man, James Boyd, by ROP detective Keith Sandy was far and away the team’s most notorious killing, sparking a storm of protest and forcing a national spotlight on the Albuquerque police’s culture of brutality. (Watch the embedded video at the bottom of this article.)</p><p>Like Wallace, Sandy was among the four rejects fired from the state police for accepting payments from Wackenhut while on duty. Somehow, he worked his way through elite units until he reached the ROP team, where he received military-style training at the Department of Energy facility. </p><p>As soon as he arrived at the Eastern Mountain ravine where Boyd was found camping without a permit, Sandy remarked in <a href="">murky audio</a> captured by a fellow cop’s dashcam, “That fucking lunatic, I’m gonna shoot him with a [unintelligible] shotgun.” Others who examined the audio heard Sandy pledge to “shoot him in the penis with a shotgun.”</p><p>After a three-hour standoff, Boyd suddenly gathered his belongings and appeared ready to surrender. Just then, the officers inexplicably fired a flash-bang round at his feet and released a police dog, prompting Boyd to reach for two small knives. When Boyd turned his body in apparent compliance with an order to get down on the ground, Sandy fired three bullets into his back with a modified M-4 assault rifle. Sandy’s partner, Dominique Perez, riddled him with bullets as well. The cops spent the next minute pelting Boyd’s lifeless body with beanbag rounds. </p><p><a href="">Footage of the killing</a> astonished Joe Kennedy, a civil rights attorney who had previously won a $10 million settlement from the Albuquerque PD. “I’ve never seen a murder captured on videotape before,” Kennedy told the local news outlet, Channel 7. “If this doesn’t convince this chief and this mayor that officers are out there killing people without justification, I don’t know what will.”</p><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Outrage and Unrest</b></span></p><p>Police Chief Eden spun the killing just as Kennedy feared. At a press conference, he described the officers’ actions as “justified,” claiming that Boyd “directed a threat” toward a canine officer who was, in fact, well out of Boyd’s reach. Eden offered a version of events that stood in stark contrast to the video evidence. For his part, Keith Sandy eluded punishment with help from the police union and tacit support from the department. In the wake of Boyd’s killing, only 36% of Albuquerque <a href="">residents expressed</a> confidence in the city’s police force. </p><p>Citywide outrage boiled over into open rebellion as nearly 1000 demonstrators marched next to the campus of University of New Mexico on March 30. After a day of raucous but mostly peaceful demonstrations led by family members of police shooting victims, cops in riot gear let loose a fusillade of teargas and moved in to make arrests. “Seemingly out of nowhere the police began charging them, we saw teargas go off, we even got maced out here as the wind is just blowing everything around,” <a href="">remarked News 13</a> correspondent Cole Miller. </p><p>The protest and its violent suppression galvanized the local movement against police brutality. “For the first time we have pressure and we’ve exposed the violence of the APD like never before,” Sayrah Namaste, a coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee-New Mexico, told me. “The families feel like there’s momentum and pressure that wasn’t there. Now we have a moment where a microscope is on the cops and they’re all on edge.”</p><p>Activist pressure has forced Mayor Richard Berry to shrink from public view, hiding from potential protests at major city festivals like Summerfest and Cesar Chavez Day. Meanwhile, the city council has taken measures to <a href="">restrict public demonstrations</a> during its meetings. As the blood continues to flow, one of the few whistleblowers to emerge from the ranks of the Albuquerque police is living in fear.</p><p><span class="s1"><b>“Nothing’s Gonna Happen Here”</b></span></p><p>In 2006, at a roadblock set up by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, Albuquerque police veteran Sam Costales’ life changed forever. Ordered to help turn back traffic, Costales witnessed several sheriffs brutally arrest the famed race car driver Al Unser Sr. as he attempted to return to his home in the neighborhood they had blocked off. When Unser was baselessly charged with resisting arrest, Costales agreed to testify in his defense, helping to exonerate the local legend. </p><p>While none of the officers who violently arrested Unser faced punishment, Costales was disciplined for wearing his uniform while testifying in Unser’s defense. (Albuquerque cops are only allowed to appear in police dress as witnesses for the prosecution). For violating what he called “the blue wall of silence,” Costales was about to be destroyed.</p><p>After then-Police Chief Ray Schultz condemned Costales for testifying in Unser’s defense, Costales fell victim to a retaliatory campaign orchestrated by the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, the main police union. “APOA started writing nasty shit on me on chat forums,” Costales told me. “They said, ‘Don’t give him backup, he will inform on you.’ I had to do my job totally alone without backup on calls and was eventually ordered to see a psychiatrist. They said I was a danger to myself and others.”</p><p>In 2009, Costales <a href="http://">successfully</a><a href="http://"> </a><a href="http://">sued the city of Albuquerque</a> in a federal court for $662,000 for the police department’s role in forcing him out of his job after 23 years. </p><p>As one of the few members of the Albuquerque PD to speak out about the culture of violence he witnessed throughout his career, Costales is left to wonder if the retaliation will ever end. “I’m alone today,” he said. “I’ve got no friends at the police department. I never carried a gun for 24 years as a cop when I was off duty, but I do now.”</p><p>Costales has watched with dismay as APOA vice-president Shaun Willoughby explains away shooting after shooting regardless of the circumstances while defending the election of violent cops like Wallace to the union’s board. Costales views the city government as hopelessly corrupt, Police Chief Eden as a feckless character with minimal field experience, and District Attorney Kari Brandenburg as a police tool. </p><p>This October, the city <a href="">reached an agreement</a> with the DOJ to implement a regime of reforms including de-escalation training and the disbanding of notoriously violent units like the ROP. But the deal means little to a former insider like Costales. “Nothing’s gonna happen here,” he said. “The police are gonna keep doing what they’re doing. They’re just thumbing their nose.”</p><p>Mike Gomez shares Costales’ skepticism. “There’s gonna be nothing but some new training for the cops,” he said. “There’s no accountability and there won’t be any indictments. We’ve gotta show them that they might go to court if they kill. Right now their badge is a license to kill and they know it.”</p><p>After three years of struggling in vain for a taste of justice, Gomez suddenly finds himself battling against hopelessness. “Sometimes I just want to walk away,” he said. “I can only do so many years of this stuff.”</p><p><em>Watch: Albuquerque police lapel camera video of the killing of James Boyd.</em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"></iframe></p><div> </div> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 08:45:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1028063 at Civil Liberties Civil Liberties police new mexico albuquerque Why I Was Censored from Talking About Israel In Germany <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Lefty Germans, blinded by collective guilt, have become intolerant and close minded.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/german_politician_hides_in_toilet.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I arrived in Germany formally invited by members of a political party to speak about my reporting during the Gaza war. I left the country branded an anti-Semite and an insane scofflaw. With machine-like efficiency, German media cast me and my Jewish Israeli journalist colleague, David Sheen, as violent Jew haters, never veering from the script written for them by a strange American neoconservative working for an organization subsidized by far-right-wing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, nor bothering to ask either of us for comment. Slandered as anti-Semites, we sought to meet with the left-wing politician who felt compelled to engineer the campaign to suppress our speech: Die Linke party chairman Gregor Gysi.<br /><br />When Gysi refused to speak to us, we followed him as he ran from his office. The <a href="">videotaped incident</a> ended at a door outside what turned out to be a bathroom, sparking a scandal known as “Toilettengate.” We had violated the unwritten rules of a dour political culture where conflict normally takes the form of carefully composed pronouncements delivered through proper bureaucratic channels. Thus we aroused the outrage of Deutschland, from left to right nimbly manipulated through a neoconservative ploy.<br /><br />According to the right-wing <a href="">Die Bild</a> tabloid, Sheen and I were “lunatic Israel haters” who had “hunted Gysi.” Various pundits on German public broadcasting declared that I was “known for [my] anti-Semitic way of thinking.” And the president of the Bundestag introduced a motion to ban us for life from the premises. As the freak-out escalated, the three Die Linke MPs who guided us to Gysi’s office— Inge Hoger, Annette Groth and Heike Hansel — delivered Gysi an abject public apology.<br /><br />Our hosts’ whimpering only served to incite their enemies. More than 1,000 Die Linke members from the party’s “reformist” faction have signed a letter calling for the three MPs to be sacked. Titled “<a href="">You Don’t Speak For Us</a>,” the manifesto opened with an excerpt from a 2008 speech to the Bundestag by former Israeli president Shimon Peres in which he compared Iran to Nazi Germany and ended with an affirmation of Germany’s special relationship with Israel, as the cleansing of the Holocaust.<br /><br />A Der Spiegel columnist named Sibylle Berg joined the pile-on with a crude piece of sexist psychobabble <a href="">accusing</a> Groth and Hoger of sublimating sexual lust for Palestinian militants into anti-Zionist activity. In Taggespiel, Die Linke MP Michael Leutert <a href="">referred</a> to us as an “anti-Semitic mob.” And in Die Zeit, another mainstream outlet, Elisabeth Niejahr <a href="">cast</a> Groth and Hoger as “Holocaust down players.” She had no evidence, but in German political culture, none was necessary. Either you are all-in with Israel’s policies, or you are an all-out anti-Semite.<br /><br />The storm of controversy triggered by our presence in Berlin was the culmination of the Die Linke party’s long-running internecine conflict on Israel-Palestine. Since emerging as Germany’s main left-wing opposition party, Die Linke leaders have presided over a full-scale assault on the few party members who rejected Germany’s uncritical special relationship with Israel. Behind the attack is a group of putatively left-wing intellectuals allied with heavily funded neoconservative operatives. The most effective weapon of this left-right alliance in a society consumed with Holocaust guilt is what some Germans have begun to refer to as the <em>Antisemitismus-keule</em>, or the anti-Semitism club.<br /><br /><strong>Smears and Suppression</strong><br /><br />The story of my and David Sheen's adventure as “anti-Semites” began even before our arrival to Berlin. I had covered the Gaza war and spoke about my reporting across Europe, often as the invited guest of members of parliaments—in London at the House of Commons, in Brussels before the European Parliament, in Oslo at the invitation of the Socialist Left Party, and in Copenhagen, where I was introduced by a member of the Danish parliament. Sheen has earned acclaim for his reporting on state-sponsored discrimination within Israel against Palestinians and African migrants and the right-wing attacks on them. Together, we produced an <a href="">original documentary</a> on racism against non-Jewish African refugees in Israel that has received over a million views on YouTube.</p><p>As we prepared for our flights, we were greeted with a November 6 article in the <a href="">Berliner Morgenpost</a> by a neoconservative writer named Benjamin Weinthal, announcing the cancellation of our planned discussion in the Bundestag. Die Linke party chairman Gregor Gysi claimed responsibility for terminating the talk, while Volker Beck of the Green Party and chair of the Germany-Israel Committee contributed his opinion to the writer that my work was “consistently anti-Semitic.” Weinthal, for his part, accused me of the “public abuse of Jews.”</p><p>The next day, Beck published a <a href="">letter</a> signed by Bundestag vice president Petra Pau (a key Israel lobby supporter in the Die Linke party) and German-Israeli Friendship Society president Reinhold Robbe demanding the cancelation of our event at the Berlin theater known as the Volksbuehne. The letter claimed our event would serve “to promote anti-Semitic prejudice by comparing the terror of the Nazis with Israeli policies.” Within hours, Volksbuehne officials pulled the plug. Weinthal took to his regular roost at the Jerusalem Post to <a href="">announce</a> the cancellation of an event that would “spread anti-Semitism.”<br /><br />On November 9, the morning our Volkesbuehne discussion was scheduled to take place, we wound up speaking through a loudspeaker to 100 supporters gathered outside the shuttered doors of the theater. It was the 76th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To our adversaries, it was a date that somehow rendered any criticism of the state of Israel and its policies verboten — along with Hitler’s birthday and every other date remotely associated with the Holocaust. For us, it was the perfect time to explain how the legacy of the European genocide had inspired our work, to emphasize that “never again” meant never again to anyone.<br /><br />In my address, I lamented that the most basic universal lessons of the Holocaust had been rejected by the German government in favor of a cheap absolution that took the form of discounted weapons sales to an army of occupation. Indeed, the German government <a href="">recently sold</a> Israel a fleet of Corvette attack boats at a 30 percent reduction to reinforce the siege of Gaza and enable further attacks on the coastal enclave’s beleaguered fishing industry. Next year, 250 German soldiers <a href="">will drill</a> at Israel’s Urban Warfare Training Center in counter-insurgency tactics, an unprecedented step in military collaboration. As a mere visitor to Germany, I was spared the long-term personal consequences of questioning how military aid to Israel honored the millions turned to ashes. When the famed German author Gunther Grass challenged the weapons sales in a polemical and arguably clumsy poem, he faced a tidal wave of character assassination attempts and the immediate loss of prestige. (Then-Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai <a href="">declared</a> Grass persona non grata, issuing a standing order to deny him entry to Israeli-controlled territory.)<br /><br />After the protest, we marched to a cramped anti-war cafe a few blocks away to carry out our discussion on Gaza and state-sponsored Israeli racism as originally conceived. As we spoke to an overflow crowd in a catacomb-like basement, 500 neo-Nazi football hooligans <a href="">marched</a> nearby against the supposed threat of “Salafism.” Police dispatched by the city protected the marchers, dispersing a small counter-demonstration.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Gysi stood by for instructions in the event that we were able to find a venue for our talk inside the Bundestag the following day. Though he was hardly a cheerleader for Netanyahu, he had proven himself an essential ally of his country’s Israel lobby, presiding over Die Linke’s transition from anti-Zionism into a full embrace of the country’s post-reunification consensus on Israel.<br /><br /><strong>“Jewish Anti-Zionism As a Total Illusion”</strong><br /><br />Once the leader of the reformist wing of Erich Honecker's Socialist Unity Party (SED) in East Germany, Gysi supported the dismantling of his party even as he opposed reunification with West Germany. He has since emerged as one of the most charismatic figures of the current opposition in the German parliament, earning attention for his sharp oratory while waging an aggressive legal battle to suppress public discussion of his alleged role as a Stasi agent.<br /><br />When Merkel’s right-of-center Christian Democratic Union (CDU) rose to power, Gysi began his efforts to reposition Die Linke as a potential coalition partner capable of allying with the Green Party and the Social Democrats. This meant adapting right-leaning elements inside Die Linke like the Forum Demokratischer Sozialismus that aimed to crush the party’s anti-war vestiges. (Most of the figures who signed the letter denouncing me, Sheen and our Die Linke hosts were affiliated with FDS.)<br /><br />During an <a href="">address</a> before the Rosa Luxemburg Institute on the occasion of Israel’s 60th birthday in 2008, Gysi made his most public bid for mainstream respectability. Proclaiming that anti-imperialism could no longer "be placed in a meaningful way" within leftist discourse, Gysi railed against expressions of Palestine solidarity within his party. "Anti-Zionism can no longer be an acceptable position for the left in general, and the Die Linke party in particular,” he declared. He went on to describe “solidarity with Israel” as an essential component of Germany’s “reason of state.”</p><p>Following a stem-winding survey of the Zionist movement’s history and its criticism from within the left, Gysi <a href="">concluded</a>, “If we choose a position of enlightened Jewish anti-Zionism...we still have the problem of ignoring the worst experiences of the 20th century, which expose enlightened Jewish anti-Zionism as a total illusion.”<br /><br />The Die Linke leader’s speech echoed an address delivered in Israel’s Knesset just a few months prior by Chancellor Angela Merkel in which she declared that preserving “Israel’s security…is part of my country’s raison d’être.”<br /><br />In a sardonic <a href="">assessment</a> of Gysi’s foreign policy pivot, left-wing columnist Werner Pirker wrote, “Gysi admires the Israeli democracy not in spite of, but because of its exclusiveness… With his anniversary speech for Israel Gregor Gysi passed his foreign policy test.”<br /><br />In June 2011, Gysi <a href="!73752/">imposed</a> a de facto gag rule on his party’s left wing called the “Three Point Catalog.” It read as follows: "We will neither take part in [political] initiatives on the Middle East which (1) call for a one-state-solution for Palestine and Israel, nor (2) call for boycotts against Israeli products, nor (3) will we take part in this year's 'Gaza-flotilla'. We expect from our personal employees and our fraction employees that they champion these positions.”<br /><br />A month later, Die Linke’s executive board voted for the first time to recognize Israel’s “right to exist.” Among those who took credit for the vote, and for sustaining pressure on Gysi, was a recently formed pro-Israel organization called BAK Shalom.<br /><br /><strong>The Anti-Germans</strong><br /><br />BAK Shalom drew its membership from adherents of the bizarre movement known as “die antideutsch Linke”—in short, the Anti-Germans. Born after reunification against the phantom threat of a second Holocaust and in supposed opposition to German nationalism, the Anti-German movement aimed to infiltrate leftist anti-fascist circles in order to promote unwavering support for the Israeli government and undermine traditional networks of leftist organizing. BAK Shalom’s <a href="">manifesto</a> pledges “solidarity with defense measures of any kind” against the Palestinians and backs American foreign policy on the basis of purely reactionary impulses: The US is Israel’s most aggressive patron and the ultimate target of Israel’s enemies, therefore opponents of “anti-Semitism” must lend it their total support.<br /><br />Though many top Antideutsch ideologues emerged from Marxist and anarchist intellectual circles, they are united in their opposition to what they call “regressive anti-capitalism.” According to BAK Shalom’s manifesto, because “complex and abstract capitalist relations are personified and identified as Jews,” anti-capitalism is a subtle but dangerous form of Jew hatred. In 2012, Anti-German activists mobilized in opposition to the <a href="">Blockupy</a> movement that occupied the European Central Bank and the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, casting it as an inherently anti-Semitic movement simply because of its opposition to globalized capitalism. Incapable of viewing Jews as individuals or normal people with differing viewpoints, the Anti-Germans inadvertently advanced the anti-Semitic trope of Jewish control over world finance.<br /><br />In 2003, hardcore Anti-German activists took to the streets in 2003 to support George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. At rallies in support of Israel’s assaults on Southern Lebanon and Gaza, Anti-German forces belted out chants alongside far-right Jewish Defense League militants and flew Israeli flags beside the red and black banners familiar to anti-fascist forces. One of the movement’s top ideologues, the Austrian political scientist Stephan Grigat, oversees an ironically named astroturf group, <a href="">Stop The Bomb</a>, that advocates unilateral bombing campaigns against Iran. Grigat collaborates closely with right-wing outfits like the <a href=";b=4441467&amp;ct=7944475#.VHFRSfTF-TY">Simon Weisenthal Center</a> as well as ultra-Zionist BAK Shalom allies like Die Linke’s Petra Pau.<br /><br />There might only be about several thousand Germans who identify with the Anti-German sensibility. The movement’s intellectual avant-garde, a collection of dour critical theorists and political scientists gathered around obscure journals like Bahamas, numbers at most in the low hundreds. According to BAK Shalom spokesman and Die Linke member Benjamin Kruger, his organization contains only 140 members. But thanks to the Holocaust guilt that consumes German society, these elements operate on fertile territory. As the translator and anti-racist activist Maciej Zurowski <a href="">explained</a>, by infiltrating Die Linke and the Social Democratic Party’s youth groups, along with key left-wing institutions like the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, “[Anti-German elements] are strategically well placed to promote ‘young talent’, while cutting off their opponents’ money supply.”<br /><br />Previously limited to the top-heavy realms of the country’s political and financial establishment, it is through such sectarian groups that the pro-Israel lobby finally secured a base within the German left.<br /><br /><strong>Good Jew, Bad Jew</strong><br /><br />In 2009, two years after the foundation of BAK Shalom, a <a href="">witch-hunt</a> forced a Die Linke member named Hermann Dierkes to quit his campaign for the mayor of Duisburg. He was accused of “pure anti-Semitism” by the Central Jewish Council for supporting the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) campaign — a human rights campaign German supporters of Israel routinely equate with the Nazi-era boycott of Jews. The same year, Israeli lobby pressure forced Munich city authorities to cancel a talk by Ilan Pappe, the dissident Israeli historian. Pappe protested afterward that his father “was silenced in a similar way as a German Jew in the early 1930s.”<br /><br />By 2010, BAK Shalom demanded the cancellation of a speech by Norman Finkelstein, a well-known political scientist highly critical of Israel’s policies, organized by a few anti-imperialist Die Linke MPs. BAK Shalom leaders accused Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, of “historical revisionism” and for being “internationally popular among anti-Semites”—guilt by association with unnamed villains. Weinthal amplified the attacks by <a href="">claiming</a> in the Jerusalem Post that Finkelstein was “pandering to subtle anti-Semitism.” With his events canceled by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and defunded by the Green Party-affiliated Heinrich Boll Foundation, Finkelstein canceled his plane ticket and stayed home in Brooklyn.<br /><br />The same year, BAK Shalom stepped up pressure on its allies inside Die Linke to purge MPs Groth and Hoger. The two MPs had traveled on the Free Gaza Flotilla and spent time in an Israeli prison after Israeli naval commandos massacred nine passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara ship. After their return to Berlin, the two politicians were branded as Hamas allies and anti-Semites for their participation in the humanitarian mission. The attacks set the stage for the storm that would erupt when Groth and Hoger decided to invite me and Sheen to meet with them and speak at the Bundestag.<br /><br />When the renowned Jewish-American scholar and outspoken Israel critic Judith Butler was awarded the city of Frankfurt’s prestigious Theodore Adorno Prize in 2012, Germany’s Israel lobby escalated its campaign to suppress free speech on the subject of Israel. At a protest outside the Frankfurt church where Butler was to receive her prize, the Anti-German academic and former Green Party advisor Matthias Kuntzel <a href="">conjured</a> the terrifying specter of a second Holocaust on German soil. He cast Butler as the key progenitor of a “new anti-Jewish discourse.” As the demonstrations were whipped up outside, Butler felt compelled to enter the ceremony in her honor through a back door.<br /><br />With ruthless efficiency, Germany’s Israel lobby established a new code for Jewish behavior: Jews who supported Israel without reservation were necessarily “good,” while those who agitated for Palestinian human rights or expressed a universalist perspective on the Holocaust were absolutely “bad.” The good Jews would be showered with adulation and publicly fetishized while the Bad Jews (Finkelstein, Pappe, Butler et al.) could be boycotted and battered with the Antisemitismus-keule — the anti-Semitism club. Even the gentile grandchildren of Nazis were welcome to raise this blunt weapon against the Bad Jews. By suppressing critical discussion of Israel, they were purified of the taint of the Holocaust and able to play the role of judges in the old question: Who is a Jew?<br /><br />Last year, I was labeled a Bad Jew on a blacklist that would serve as a singular guide to my work for Germany’s Israel lobby.<br /><br /><strong>Adelson’s Man in Berlin</strong><br /><br />In December 2013, my name wound up on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s 2013 list of the year’s top “<a href="">Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel slurs</a>.” I was number nine, tied with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and eight slots behind Ayatollah Khomeini. It was a ludicrous document of neo-McCarthyism filled with distortions, hyperbole and bizarre non-sequiturs. In the U.S., it was ignored when it was not <a href="">mocked</a>.<br /><br />The listing was prompted by my recent book, <a href="">Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel</a>, but did not dispute a single fact in the 450-page work. Instead of addressing the substance of my book, the Wiesenthal Center took issue with the titles of many of its chapters, claiming that I had drawn direct comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, though those chapter titles were taken from quotations of people describing actual incidents in Israel. In fact, nothing I had written or said approached the stridency of recent comments by famed Israeli author Amos Oz, who called violent Jewish settlers “<a href="">Hebrew neo-Nazis</a>.”<br /><br />While Oz was <a href="">presented</a> with the Siegfried Lenz Literary Prize this month by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, I was condemned as an anti-Semite by leaders of putatively left-wing German parties informed exclusively by the Wiesenthal list furnished to them by a neoconservative publicist, Benjamin Weinthal.<br /><br />A former <a href="!topic/">labor journalist</a> who bounced around at marginal leftist journals, the unsuccessful Weinthal drifted until he found his calling as one of the Israel lobby’s most dedicated operatives in Berlin. His career has since been sustained by a neoconservative Washington DC-based think tank called the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. <a href="">Funded</a> in part by the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a top donor to the Republican Party and Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, who recently grumbled that he has no use for “democracy” in Israel and “doesn’t like journalism,” FDD has promoted the preemptive US invasion of Iraq and preemptive bombing of Iran along with Netanyahu’s expansionist policies in occupied Palestinian territory. Described on FDD’s website as “our eyes and ears on the ground in Central Europe,” Weinthal publishes regularly at the right-wing English language daily, the Jerusalem Post. (Its editor, Caroline Glick, is simultaneously affiliated with the far right U.S. Center for Security Policy, and author of a recent book, <em>The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East</em>, advocating the complete obliteration of Palestinian rights.)<br /><br />In the days before our arrival, Weinthal phoned Gysi, Beck and a host of local Israel lobbyists to solicit statements condemning me and David Sheen and our hosts. Unable to speak or read English, Gysi had to rely on Weinthal, and by extension, his recitation of the Wiesenthal Center, as his translators. Gysi was obviously terrified and intimidated. When he falsely accused me in a press conference of referring to Israeli soldiers as “Judeo-Nazis,” it was clear he had never bothered to investigate the claims against me, never read my work and never sought to contact me. In fact, the phrase “Judeo-Nazis” was coined by the widely revered anti-establishment Israeli philosopher, <a href="">Yeshayahu Leibowitz</a>, who was <a href=",7340,L-3540900,00.html">ranked</a> by Israelis as one of the country’s most influential Jewish leaders of all time, and whom I profiled in my book. In his jeremiads against racism and militarization, Leibowitz warned Israelis against turning into their own worst nightmare. A frantic puppet dancing on the string of a neoconservative dirty trick, Gysi also revealed himself to be an ignoramus about Israel.<br /><br />As soon as the Volksbuehne caved to Israel lobby pressure to cancel my talk with Sheen, Weinthal was on the phone with Simon Wiesenthal Center dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper. “Germans should be grateful that some key leaders of the Left [Party] have acted to forestall this desecration and perversion of memory,” Cooper proclaimed.<br /><br />Then, when “Toilettengate” erupted, the German media reached for the Wiesenthal file, neatly provided by Weinthal, as its sole dossier on my work. Like Gysi, Der Spiegel <a href="">falsely accused</a> me of calling Israeli soldiers “Judeo-Nazis,” refusing to reply when I solicited a correction. None of the major outlets that reported on the incident made the slightest effort to call Sheen or me for comment. Instead, the German press was played, too, hammering away at our supposed “anti-Semitism,” never pausing to seek me out for reply or engage in a moment of skepticism about what any seasoned journalist could see was a transparent case of McCarthyism.  <br /><br />The most aggressive attacks appeared in papers associated with Axel Springer, Germany’s version of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. A bastion of yellow journalism, Springer compels all of its employees to take an <a href="">oath of loyalty</a> to Germany’s special relationship with Israel. When the Springer-owned tabloid Die Bild <a href="">described</a> me and Sheen as “lunatic Israel haters,” a friend gave me the phone number of the paper’s political editor, Ralf Schuler. <br /><br />“Why didn’t you reach out to me for a comment?” I asked him.<br /><br />“Because I don’t have to. I don’t want to talk to you or hear what you have to say,” Schuler said.</p><p>“So you were out to smear us?”</p><p>“Yes!” he declared emphatically. “And that’s how it is.”<br /><br />Schuler asked in an accusing tone if I was, in fact, “an anti-Semite." Then he abruptly hung up.<br /><br /><strong>The Exiles</strong><br /><br />My final talk in Berlin took place in an antiseptic classroom inside the cavernous main building of the city’s Technical University. During my presentation, I recounted the case of Ibrahim Kilani, a German citizen who was killed along with <a href="">most of his family</a> in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip this summer. The German government did not condemn the massacre, nor did it bother to offer condolences to members of the Kilani family living in Germany. Instead, it merely asked Israel to clarify the circumstances of the family members’ deaths.<br /><br />The government’s silence on the Kilanis roiled Germany’s 80,000-strong community of Palestinian immigrants. As soon as my talk ended, Nadia Samour, the young Palestinian-German lawyer who co-organized the event, commented that she no longer felt at home in Germany after witnessing her government’s handling of the killings. Her sense of alienation was almost omnipresent among the many educated and worldly Arab immigrants I encountered during my stay in Germany. And it was hardly surprising.<br /><br />Under the Hessen <a href="">citizenship tests</a> proposed in 2006, immigrants are expected to affirm support for Israel’s “right to exist.” The country’s past chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder of the Social Democratic Party, openly pondered imposing loyalty oaths on immigrants, while the current leader, Merkel, declared that multiculturalism “has utterly failed.” In a 2010 <a href="">poll</a>, 55% of Germans agreed with the opinion that Arabs are “unpleasant people.” In recent years, the country’s media has filled with <a href=";sl=de&amp;u=;prev=/search%3Fq%3D">commentaries</a> <a href="">painting</a> the Muslim and Arab immigrant community as a hotbed of potential recruits for groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.<br /><br />At every stop, immigrants to Germany are forced to pay heed to the <a href="">Leitkultur</a>, the national narrative that demands expressions of guilt for a Holocaust none of them participated in. For Palestinian-Germans, the Leitkultur serves to silence their own narrative of dispossession. As Ibrahim Kilani’s only surviving son, Ramsis, told journalist Emran Feroz, “In Germany, I get called an anti-Semite just for saying I’m Palestinian.”<br /><br />While Palestinians are shut out of German public discourse, an unlikely immigrant group has asserted itself against the national consensus. Some 20,000 Israeli Jews have sought refuge in Berlin, fleeing a state overrun with militarism and religious fervor for life in a stable social democracy. Most are young, cosmopolitan and deeply opposed to the Netanyahu government. When Merkel and a cast of German political figures including Gysi organized a <a href="">demonstration</a> this summer against “anti-Semitism” that doubled as a rally in support of Israel’s war on Gaza, a group of Israeli exiles organized a counter-demonstration. They held up a large <a href="">banner</a> reading, “Merkel, give us passports, not weapons!”</p><p>Following my talk at the Technical University, one of those Israelis rose to speak. He introduced himself as a writer who had come to the depressing conclusion that he had no future in Israel. He said he feared raising his newborn son in an environment that Israel’s right-wing rulers had rendered “uninhabitable.” Relations between Israeli Jews and Palestinians were damaged beyond repair, he continued, leaving a two-state solution that permanently separated the two groups as the only option.<br /><br />A middle-aged Palestinian refugee rose from his seat. “With your two-state solution, I can never go home,” he interrupted. “You have to understand that we Palestinians have no problem living with Jews. That’s not the issue. The issue is we have no right to live on our land.”<br /><br />The Israeli writer did not object or recoil. Instead, he listened patiently as the next speaker, Abir Kopty, a Palestinian-Israeli activist from Nazareth pursuing an advanced degree in Berlin, made the case for a binational state. Several German activists joined in, articulating a vision of equality that Gysi's gag rule forbade Die Linke members from promoting.<br /><br />As the discussion poured out into the hallway, whatever differences might have surfaced inside the lecture hall dissolved into the kind of camaraderie that always exists among outcasts. The Israeli exile and the Palestinian refugee had arrived in Germany as casualties of Western foreign policy, each victimized in his own way. Now they were struggling together for a free and open debate. And along with the rest of us, they reeled from the force of the national <em>antisemitismus-keule</em>.</p> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:40:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1027949 at World World germany max blumenthal middle east gaza Gregor Gysi David Sheen anti-semitism How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Rep. John Conyers wanted to block U.S. funding to neo-Nazis in Ukraine. But the ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/3c830b4201284f3473f6f2b4888273cb373fbb03.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>AlterNet has learned that an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forbidden US assistance, training and weapons to neo-Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine was kept out of the final bill by the Republican-led House Rules Committee. Introduced by Democratic Representative John Conyers, the amendment was intended to help tamp down on violent confrontations between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists. (Full text of the amendment embedded at the end of this article).<br /><br />A <a href="">USA Today/Pew poll</a> conducted in April while the NDAA was being debated found that Americans opposed by more than 2 to 1 providing the Ukrainian government with arms or other forms of military assistance.<br /><br />If passed, Conyers' amendment would have explicitly barred those found to have offered “praise or glorification of Nazism or its collaborators, including through the use of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, or other similar symbols” from receiving any form of support from the US Department of Defense.<br /><br />The amendment was presented by congressional staffers to lobbyists from Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two of the country’s largest established Jewish pressure groups. Despite their stated mission to combat anti-Semitism and violent extremism, the ADL and Wiesenthal Center refused to support Jeffries and Conyers’ proposal.<br /><br />According to Democratic sources in Congress, staffers from the ADL’s Washington office and the Simon Wiesenthal Center rejected the amendment on the grounds that right-wing Ukrainian parties like Svoboda with documented records of racist extremism had “moderated their rhetoric.” An ADL lobbyist insisted that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to meetings between far-right political leaders in Ukraine and the Israeli embassy as evidence that groups like Svoboda and Right Sector had shed their extremism. <br /><br />The ADL’s Washington office and the Simon Wiesenthal Center did not respond to numerous requests by email and telephone for comment.</p><p>Earlier this year, the ADL’s outgoing National Director Abraham Foxman noted Svoboda’s “history of anti-Semitism and platform of ethnic nationalism” in a <a href="">press release</a>demanding the party renounce its past glorification of Stepan Bandera, a World War Two-era Nazi collaborator who has become a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism.<br /><br />When the Ukrainian parliament failed to pass a bill this October honoring Bandera’s Ukrainian Rebel Army, about 8000 supporters of Svoboda and the extremist Right Sector <a href="">marched on the building</a>, attacking riot police with homemade weapons while waving Banderist flags and Svoboda banners. The violent backlash was a reminder that the legend of Bandera would not die any time soon, and that Foxman’s admonitions had fallen on deaf ears.<br /><br />Svobodoa’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, <a href=";current_page=1#bookmark">once called</a> for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” In 2010, following the conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok flew to Germany to praise him as a hero who was “fighting for truth.”<br /><br />Since the Euromaidan revolution, however, Svoboda has fought to rehabilitate its image. This has meant meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Reuven Din El and appealing to shared national values. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”<br /><br />Right Sector, the radical right-wing movement that battled riot police during the latter stages of the Euromaidan uprising, earned <a href="">plaudits</a> from the ADL’s Foxman when its leader arranged his own <a href="">meeting</a> with Din El. “[Right Sector leader] Dmitry Yarosh stressed that Right Sector will oppose all [racist] phenomena, especially anti-Semitism, with all legitimate means,” the Israeli embassy declared.<br /><br />The results of this month’s Ukrainian parliamentary elections were widely portrayed as a setback for the ultra-nationalist right-wing, with Svoboda taking around 6 percent of the vote while Yarosh’s Right Sector failed to qualify for seats. The outcome cheered the American Jewish Committee, which <a href=";b=9082255&amp;ct=13933729&amp;notoc=1#sthash.jawpqJXc.dpuf">declared</a> that “Jews in most of Ukraine are heartened by the election results and even optimistic about the country’s future.”<br /><br />But the dismal showing by the traditional ultra-nationalist parties was hardly evidence of a diminished right-wing. With President Petro Poroshenko leading the nationalists’ dream war in the East, Svoboda and Right Sector lost the protest vote they had commanded during the heady years of insurrection. As Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on Europe’s radical right, <a href="">explained</a>, “in 2012, Svoboda was also considered almost the only ‘patriotic’ party, but now all democratic parties are patriotic, so Svoboda has lost its ‘monopoly’ on patriotism.”<br /><br />During the national election campaign, Ukraine’s leading party, the People’s Front of neoliberal Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was honeycombed with far-right militants. Andrei Parubiy, the co-founder of the neo-Nazi-inspired Social National Party and former chief of the Maidan defense committees, was among the extremists who won seats on the People’s Front ticket.<br /><br />Besides Parubiy, the People’s Front included Andriy Biletsky, leader of the Azov militia, an overtly neo-Nazi fighting force that has been on the front lines of the battle against Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Azov deputy commander Vadym Troyan joined him on the party’s electoral list, rounding out a peculiar mix of khaki shirt clad fascists and buttoned-down neo-liberals.<br /><br />Unlike Svoboda, these figures do not even feign moderation. “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” Biletsky recently <a href="">wrote</a>. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”<br /><br />Azov fighters are united by their nostalgia for Nazi Germany and embrace of open fascism. Sporting swastika tattoos, the battalion “flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag,” the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer recently <a href=";_r=0">reported</a>.<br /><br />With the government in a state of flux, Azov is filling the void in the East. As Ukrainian parliamentarian Gregory Nemira <a href="">complained</a> to reporter Anna Nemtsova in September, “The president still has not appointed a chief of staff for the armed forces. He has not admitted we are in a state of war, preferring to throw the battalions like Azov into the most dangerous combat zones, where authorities would not have the courage to send regular troops.”<br /><br />Azov is precisely the sort of neo-Nazi organization that Conyers’ NDAA amendment would have deprived of US assistance. But when the congressman sought help from the ADL and the Wiesenthal Center in moving the proposal forward, he was rebuked. The amendment died a quiet death and Azov’s American supply line remains intact.<br /> </p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Failed Amendment barring US assistance to Ukrainian neo-Nazis on Scribd">Failed Amendment barring US assistance to Ukrainian neo-Nazis</a> by <a href="" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Max Blumenthal's profile on Scribd">Max Blumenthal</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_26118" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-dQVWJkcolE2yHV3U1UXG&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:10:00 -0800 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1027314 at World World neo-nazis ukraine adl Simon Wiesenthal Center russia john conyers Samantha Power, Obama’s Atrocity Enabler <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A new documentary whitewashes the U.S. Ambassador to the UN&#039;s record of covering for some of the worst human rights abusers.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2014-10-28_at_12.07.10_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><i>“We need to deter the Palestinians in any way we can.” —Samantha Power, July 17, 2013</i></p><p>A new documentary called “Watchers of the Sky” tells the moving story of Raphael Lemkin, Polish lawyer and resistance fighter who spent his final years seeking to secure legislation against the crime of genocide at the United Nations. Lemkin’s struggle to guarantee a legal order capable of preventing the slaughter of civilians is brought to life through the narration of Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and famed diplomat who earned renown with her 2002 book, “A Problem From Hell,” documenting the international community’s failure to stop genocide in Rwanda.</p><p>Power emerges during the film not only as Lemkin’s biographer, but as his natural successor. She appears as a towering crusader for human rights using her influence as the US Ambassador to the UN to ensure that the phrase, “Never again,” is not just an empty slogan. A tireless advocate for the oppressed <a href="">described</a> by journalist Tara McKelvey as the “femme fatale of the humanitarian-assistance world,” her quest to keep Lemkin’s legacy alive seems to transcend American foreign policy objectives.</p><p>“The hardest part about my position is having great visibility into a lot of the pain that’s out there,” Power declares in a voice trembling with emotion. “It’s not someone else’s responsibility or the fodder for an article. It’s the fodder for what we can do about it.”</p><p>In her five years in government, however, Power has done nothing of substance to prevent atrocities. In fact, her most notable accomplishment might be her enabling of their most ruthless perpetrators, primarily through her protection of Israel, a serial human rights abuser and the world’s only active settler-colonial state. In Syria, meanwhile, where one of the greatest atrocities of modern times continues to devour civilian lives, Power’s high-profile initiatives have done little more than generate publicity for herself. And in Libya, where Power’s demand for military intervention influenced President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize force, the US has thrown open the floodgates of chaos, transforming a repressive but functional state into a destabilized battleground for local warlords and jihadists.</p><p>Without any mention of her actual accomplishments in government, 
“Watchers of the Sky” feels like a whitewash of a failure and moral fraud. But perhaps that was the point. Honored with the <a href="">Ostrovsky Award</a> by an Israeli foundation at the Jerusalem Film Festival during the height of Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip, “Watchers of the Sky” appears to be Power’s reward for her role in protecting Israel from international scrutiny and advancing American unilateralism. Through her active participation in the film, Power reveals herself as a dangerous cynic intent on shrouding her real record behind the aura of a long-dead human rights icon.</p><p>Indeed, while the film plays in cities around the US, earning <a href="">critical acclaim</a> along the way, Power remains an active enabler of some of the most egregious crimes against humanity.</p><p><b>Conventional Wisdom</b></p><p>Power entered Obama’s orbit just as excitement was building around his campaign for president. She endeared herself to the candidate first with a 2007 <a href="">memo</a> blaming “Washington's conventional wisdom” for the “strategic blunder” of invading Iraq. She claimed that electing Obama would mean “a break from a broken way of doing things,” ushering in a new era of “fresh strategic thinking and common sense.”</p><p>“Barack Obama says we have to turn the page,” Power declared. “We cannot afford any more of this kind of bankrupt conventional wisdom. He has laid out a foreign policy that is bold, clear, principled, and tailored for the 21st century.”</p><p>Elected with a mandate to change Washington, Obama appointed Power as Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council. The newfangled position sounded like it was custom tailored for a fresh strategic thinker like her. She played basketball with George Clooney and <a href="">posed</a> for spreads in glossy fashion magazines. Marie Claire <a href="">declared</a> her “the Smartest Woman in America.” Her book on the martyred Brazilian UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello and his “fight to save the world” earned critical raves. Nearly everything Power did was under the media’s spotlight — everything except her actual duties inside the White House.</p><p>Described by White House foreign policy speechwriter Ben Rhodes as “the point person at the White House on all issues related to Israel at the UN,” Power routinely <a href="">coordinated</a> with the Israeli government to help protect its occupation of Palestinian territory. It was a decidedly conventional task that began with her leading of the efforts to weaken the impact of the Goldstone Report that found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity during its assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09. She then helped shield Israel from legal scrutiny after its commandos massacred 8 Turkish activists and one US citizen in international waters on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010. Next, Power spearheaded the US strategy to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the United Nations.</p><p>“Not a week went by without Samantha [Power] and me coordinating on an initiative to defend Israel from being singled out for unfair criticism at the UN or to protect against unilateral moves,” said US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.</p><p>So much for breaking with a broken way of doing things.</p><p>In 2012, Power turned her attention to Syria, responding to the miasma of bloodshed by convincing the White House to establish an Atrocities Prevention Board (APB). Since its dramatic roll-out by President Barack Obama at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the vaunted APB remains an empty shell. The Center for American Progress (CAP), a Democratic think tank that usually serves the goals of the Obama administration, <a href="">concluded</a> in a sharply critical 2013 assessment, “the continuing tragedy in Syria has cast a pall over the board’s work and has led many to sharply question its overall efficacy.” A few months later, a congressional staffer <a href="">described</a> the APB’s activities to CAP’s John Norris as “a complete black hole.” Thanks to the board’s curious lack of transparency, it is <a href="">unknown</a> if it sounded the alarm on the rise of ISIS, which was precisely the sort of thing it was created to do.</p><p>During her days as a journalist, Power <a href="">scolded</a> “bystanders to genocide” and exposed the failures of “people in offices” in Washington who had missed countless opportunities to halt the killing in Rwanda. She suggested that the best course of action for an advisor frustrated by presidential inaction in the face of atrocities was “a telling moment for a high-profile resignation.” But during the Syria crisis — one of the greatest moral tests of her tenure in the White House — Power performed no better than the foreign policy handlers she once roasted.</p><p>When White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough urged <a href="">support</a> for the Syrian status quo, arguing that a devastating war between Iranian proxies and Al Qaeda affiliates worked to America’s advantage, the best response Power could muster was to urge more military support for the loose conglomeration of Syrian rebels whose “moderates” were as elusive as the Yetti. When Obama adopted McDonough’s position just as the civilian death toll approached 100,000, Power was hardly prepared to stage a high-profile resignation.</p><p>By this time, the dream of her professional lifetime was on the way.</p><p><b>Tears for Dershowitz, Drinks with Shmuley</b></p><p>Inside a conference hall in June 2013, Power stood before 40 of the most influential members of America’s Jewish establishment and openly <a href="">cried.</a> Having just been nominated by Obama to serve as the US Ambassador to the UN, the far-right Zionist Organization of America had attacked her for her supposed compassion for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. With her ambitions on the line, Power was determined to mollify the fanatics.</p><p>Power “suddenly became deeply emotional and struggled to complete her presentation as she expressed how deeply such accusations had affected her,” recalled Shmuley Boteach, the right-wing celebrity rabbi she had courted as her consigliere. “Tears streamed down her cheeks and I think it fair to say that there was no one in the room who wasn’t deeply moved by this incredible display of pain and emotion.”</p><p>The spectacle earned Power all the support she believed she needed to secure her confirmation. Marty Peretz, the former <i>New Republic</i> publisher who once opined that “Muslim life is cheap,” emerged as one of Power’s most vociferous defenders (“Samantha is a friend, a good friend,” he <a href="">wrote</a>). Alan Dershowitz, America’s most prominent supporter of the Israeli government and of the practice of torturing criminal suspects, <a href="">called</a> Power “a perfect choice.” And Michael Oren, the neoconservative pundit then serving as Israel’s Ambassador to the US, <a href="">placed</a> an unsolicited call to the New York Times offering his own effusive endorsement of Power.</p><p>Even with her confirmation virtually ensured, Power was not taking any chances. “We need to deter the Palestinians in any way we can — and we need to get their attention,” Power <a href="">proclaimed</a> before the Senate, earning effusive praise from Republican Sen. John McCain. Hours later, Power was seen <a href="">celebrating</a> her confirmation at a local Irish pub with Boteach, her consigliere who had recently <a href="">justified</a> atrocities committed against Palestinians by likening them to the Nazis.</p><p>With Power seated at the UN, the Israel lobby chalked up one of its greatest political coups of the Obama era, securing perhaps the most high profile product of the human rights industrial complex as a weapon in its war on the Palestinians. As a renewed assault on Gaza approached, Power was in their hands.</p><p><strong>Defending the Gaza Slaughter</strong></p><p>Known as Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip began on July 8. 51 days later, over 2100 residents of the besieged coastal enclave lay <a href="">dead,</a> most of them civilians. Over 11,000 were wounded in the war, leaving over 1000 children with lifelong disabilities; as many as 1500 children were orphaned and <a href=":">89 entire families</a> were completely liquidated by Israeli attacks. Almost 20,000 housing units were totally destroyed or badly damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Gaza lay in ruins, with its border areas transformed into apocalyptic moonscapes of devastation. The violence against the occupied population was unprecedented in scale, raising widespread debate about whether Israel was carrying out atrocities with genocidal intent.</p><p>During the war, Power defended Israel with drone-like reliability. Even when she condemned Israeli assaults on UN schools where civilians fleeing their destroyed homes had taken shelter, Power placed the blame on Hamas and scarcely mentioned Israel. What’s more, she parroted the baseless claims that the schools had been used as bases for rocket launches, essentially justifying attacks on facilities maintained by the international institution she had once presented as the last, best hope against genocide.</p><p>On July 18, the day Israeli naval gunners massacred four Palestinian boys on a Gaza beach before the eyes of dozens of foreign correspondents, Power opened her speech by stating, “the United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas.” Four days later, Power stood before the UN and placed full responsibility for civilian suffering in Gaza on Hamas while noting that “we have consistently recognized Israel’s right to defend itself.”</p><p>There would be no tears for the people of Gaza.</p><p>Echoing Israel lobby criticism of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s plans to investigate Protective Edge, Power <a href="">declared</a> towards the final stage of assault on Gaza that the council “has shown itself incapable of engaging constructively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” More recently, Power was <a href="">credited with</a> persuading members of the UN Security Council to block a resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 armistice lines — to essentially shield the occupation of the West Bank from international law.</p><p>If her appearance in “Watchers of the Sky” is any indication, Power has yet to reckon with the consequences of her role in enabling some of the worst atrocities ever committed against one of the world’s longest-suffering populations. It is as if the more than 500 children killed in Gaza this summer never existed; as though they were ghosts.</p><p>Towards the end of the documentary, after nearly two hours of heart-rending footage of atrocities from Auschwitz to Rwanda to Darfur (genocides committed by US allies are never mentioned), Power begins to tear up, just as she did in her fateful appearance before the pro-Israel lobby.</p><p>“I always think about the privilege of getting to try,” she says. “Just to try.”</p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:03:00 -0700 Max Blumenthal, AlterNet 1024809 at World World samantha power united nations