Rob Bryan

Lawsuit by Notoriously Brutal Israeli Ex-Commander Against Journalist David Sheen Signals Israel’s War on Free Speech

The history of legal action meant to chill free speech is long and sordid. From sedition and obscenity laws through McCarthyism and the current effort to silence Palestinian activist groups on college campuses, those in power have a bad habit of cracking down on writers and activists whose work they deem a threat. David Sheen, an Israeli-Canadian journalist, is now the target of such a campaign, perpetrated not by the Israeli government but by an eccentric multimillionaire named Israel Ziv. 

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From Bethlehem to Brooklyn: How a Socialist Palestinian Reverend Became a Frontrunner in the New York City Council Race

When I first met Khader El-Yateem several weeks ago, the 48-year-old reverend was standing in front of a gas station on the corner of 4th Avenue and Senator Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was wearing black slacks, a button-down gray shirt, a white clerical collar, and black Sketchers that he said would make climbing staircases less difficult. Joined by his young field manager Abdullah, El-Yateem was out canvassing door-to-door as part of a push to win votes in the upcoming 43rd district City Council race on September 12th. The candidate greeted me with a smile and a handshake, stooping his tall frame slightly in a manner that ironically called to mind one of his favorite targets: Mayor Bill De Blasio.

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Why the Democratic Socialists of America Vote for BDS Is a Turning Point in American Left Politics

For a few veteran members of the Democratic Socialists of America like Eric Lee, this year’s annual convention in Chicago was a rude awakening. The DSA’s ranks suddenly swelled with thousands of new members, mostly younger activists mobilized by the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders and inspired by the success of socialist Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. Lee shared their excitement about Sanders, and about the prospects of socialism gaining traction among middle-class voters worn down by decades of neoliberal austerity. What he could not stomach, however, was the new DSA generation’s enthusiastic support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

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Trump's Nominee for Ambassador to Israel Is More Right-Wing Than Netanyahu

Trump's nominee for ambassador to Israel, 57-year-old bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, is not one for subtlety. In a 2016 column for far-right publication Arutz Sheva, he declared that supporters of J Street—a pro-Israel advocacy group that supports a two-state solution—are more depraved than Nazi collaborators.

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How Extreme Ethnic Nationalism, High-Tech, and the Cult of Machismo Brought India and Israel Together

Addressing a rally in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh state in Northern India on October 18th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gloated over the "surgical strikes" that India conducted last month in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in response to a raid on an Indian Army base. The attacks were the first publically acknowledged military action across the Line of Control in over 40 years (the Line of Control runs through Kashmir and serves as the de facto border between India and Pakistan).

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An Anti-Semitic Conspiracist Comes to Brooklyn, Sparking Outrage

On Wednesday night, anti-semitic conspiracy theorist Christopher Bollyn stood in front of a crowd of about 20 people at Brooklyn Commons to deliver a long speech about how 9/11 was an inside job. Or how it was orchestrated by the Rothschilds. Or by the Israeli Mossad. Or something…it was hard to tell. One minute he was attacking the U.S. government for not trying to overthrow “the democratically elected government of Syria” and the next he was ranting about how the billionaire Ron Lauder privatized the World Trade Center -- which just so happened to contain a vault with top-secret documents about Enron.

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View From Harlem: Marijuana Legalization Is a Hollow Victory If We Still Criminalize Other Drugs

Sitting in a parked car on 132nd Street and Lenox, Joseph “Jazz” Hayden wonders what effect marijuana legalization would have on the streets of Harlem, where he has spent most of his 75 years.

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How a Violent Jewish Extremist Group Went From the Fringes to the Mainstream French Right-Wing

The French far-right has produced a strange confluence of xenophobic nationalism: old school antisemites on the one hand, and militant Zionists on the other, united in their fear and hatred of Islam. A state of emergency that began with the terrorist attacks of November 2015, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, is still in effect, resulting in targeted state harassment of French Muslims. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s July cargo truck attack in Nice, for which ISIL also claimed responsibility—though it probably had nothing to do with the perpetrator or his crime—fed the flames of Islamophobia, despite the fact that 30 out of the 84 victims were Muslim.

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Meet Bassem Eid, the Former Palestinian Human Rights Activist Who's Sucking Up to the Israel Lobby

Bassem Eid, a stocky 58-year-old Palestinian political analyst, stood in front of an audience of about 30 people this June 22 in the law offices of Duval & Stachenfeld in midtown Manhattan. The crowd snacked on stuffed grape leaves and drank red wine from the Northern Galilee region of Israel, eager to hear an exuberant man hold court on the plight of his people.

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Israel’s Right-Wing Ambassador to the U.S. Plays to the Trump Crowd in New York City

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer is a virtuoso of propaganda. As he sat in Shmuley Boteach’s Upper West Side townhouse on Thursday trading stories and jokes with the occasional rabbi and full-time Republican political operative, he made whitewashing Israeli crimes look easy. The intimate gathering was Dermer’s effort to endear himself to the Trump crowd, of which Shmuley is undoubtedly a part. Netanyahu has become a persona non grata to liberal Jewry, so instead Dermer regaled an aging right-wing crowd that represents the only remaining Jewish communal bastion for whom unapologetic atrocities can be defended without objection.

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Meet Shmuley Boteach, the Right-Wing Reality Show 'Rabbi' Hustling His Way Into the Trump Campaign

"He who is greedy of gain troubles his own house, but he who hates gifts will live.” —Proverbs 15:27

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Three Days Undercover at the Israel Lobby’s Biggest Policy Conference

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a cult, and like most cults, its followers would probably object to the characterization.

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Trump’s Ethnic Incitement Falls on Fertile Soil at AIPAC, Bringing Pro-Israel Crowd to Its Feet

A few minutes into Trump's address to roughly 18,000 delegates at the AIPAC Convention at Washington DC’s Verizon Center, I sensed that something was off. Was it the guy in front of me exclaiming, "Republicans get it!" between yelps of approval and a seemingly endless number of selfies? No, that was annoying but expected. Was it the fact that a proto-fascist demagogue was drawing multiple standing ovations from an arena full of Jews? That was alarming, sure, but my earlier conversation with a Trump-supporting Jewish couple on the way over made the sad spectacle less surprising than it could have been.

Then I realized what it was: Trump was reading an actual speech! Not a loose collection of riffs about how everything was going to be "so great" with him in office or how his fingers aren't even that short, but an actual speech (written largely by his Jewish son-in-law, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner) that he was reading from a Teleprompter. It was obvious that Trump had come prepared, not just with his cocky swagger and a collection of zingers but with a carefully rehearsed speech full of anti-Iran saber rattling and pledges to preserve the ethnic purity of the Jewish state.

It took Trump less than a minute to invoke 9/11, and barely a minute after that to declare, with no shortage of irony, "I didn't come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That's what politicians do: all talk, no action." He proceeded to spend 20 minutes pandering like the most craven member of Congress, hitting all major bullet points from Iran ballistic missile tests to a sick Palestinian society that makes heroes of those who murder Jews. The only thing that may have rankled AIPAC, in the end, was his attack on President Obama, which went against the "Come Together" bipartisan motto of this year's conference. "He may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel," Trump declared, adding his signature "believe me" to drive home this completely unfounded statement. But much of the crowd approved, responding to Trump’s attack on a sitting president with profuse applause.

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