Friday, August 27, 2010

This is the democracy the U.S. is exporting through the barrel of a gun

From Network World

ACLU Report: Spying on Free Speech Nearly At Cold War Level
Political spying is nearly as bad now as it was during the Cold War. The ACLU reports that Americans are harrassed and under surveillance for exercising their First Amendment rights.

By Ms. Smith on Mon, 08/23/10 - 12:02pm.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released numerous reports of increased government spying on American citizens. Once upon an unhappy time, U.S. law enforcement agencies, from the FBI to local police, had a history of political spying during the Cold War. The ACLU said that the old political spying tendencies are running high again. Individuals and groups are being monitored and harassed for "little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights."

One ACLU report, Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity (.pdf), reveals that, in recent years, Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by law enforcement agencies in 33 states plus the District of Columbia. What horrific acts did these Americans commit? Organizing, marching, protesting, supporting unusual viewpoints, and engaging in "normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public."

The map below show states where the ACLU uncovered incidents of political spying:

In California, there were 22 reports of spying. One such example is the Los Angeles Police Department Reporting Policy which included 65 behaviors LAPD officers were required to report. "The list includes such innocuous, clearly subjective, and First Amendment-protected activities as, taking measurements, using binoculars, taking pictures or video footage 'with no apparent esthetic value,' drawing diagrams, taking notes, and espousing extremist views."

13 incidents in Colorado were reported, including one when FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) agents opened "domestic terrorism" investigations after the Colorado American Indian Movement, peace groups, and environmental groups posted notices on websites. The announcements were of an anti-war protest in Colorado Springs and a protest against Columbus Day in Denver.

In Georgia, among seven spying reports the ACLU uncovered, a vegetarian activist was arrested for writing down the license plate of a Department of Homeland Security agent who had been photographing her and others during a peaceful protest outside a Honey Baked Ham store.

In Chicago, Illinois, the FBI JTTF conducted a three-day manhunt searching for a Muslim man due to him clicking a hand counter during a bus ride. The investigation revealed he was using the hand counter to keep track of his daily prayers.

In Maine, the FBI intercepted and stored e-mails planning peaceful protests. In Massachusetts, a "plain-clothes Harvard University detective was caught photographing people at a peaceful protest for 'intelligence gathering' purposes. Protesters who then photographed the officer were arrested." In North Carolina, an honorably discharged U.S. Army woman, whose husband is on active duty, was put under Pentagon surveillance for participating in a protest at Fort Bragg.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, the "Maryland State Police spied on more than 30 activist groups, mostly peace groups and anti-death penalty advocates, and wrongly indentified 53 individual activists and about two dozen organizations as terrorists." DHS further disseminated e-mails from one of the peace groups.

There are many such surveillance reports on a national level as well. An example is when a DHS contractor reported environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Humane Society, and the Audubon Society as “mainstream organizations with known or possible links to eco-terrorism."

An intelligence bulletin, from a DHS-supported North Central Texas Fusion System, was distributed to over 100 different agencies. It described a "purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the U.S."

Once you unfortunately land on some kind of watchlist, it's unlikely you will ever have your name removed. One example was a Kentucky minister who had never been arrested, had never been charged with a crime, and had never participated in a protest. During a sightseeing trip, he was detained by Canadian border officials. The ministered learned he was under federal scrutiny because, immediately after September 11, he ordered books over the Internet about the Islamic religion, like the Koran, to help his congregation better understand that faith.

Does this make you sick or does it make you mad? Does this even slightly sound like America, the land of the free?

"Vibrant" Isareli democracy a la Mississippi in 1950

From the International Middle East Media Center

Israeli Education Ministry Approves New 'whites-only' Settlement School
author Thursday August 26, 2010 03:38author by IMEMC Staff Report post

Several months ago, a religious school in the illegal Israeli settlement of Immanuel was criticized for segregating white Jewish students from non-white Jewish students in classes.

Originally, the school was fined for this policy of racial segregation, because the school was state funded. Now, the Israeli education ministry has agreed with the white parents' request to allow the school to continue with its racial discrimination under private funding.

There is no law preventing racial discrimination by private organizations, even schools, in Israel.

The Israeli court has interpreted these laws to also apply to illegal West bank settlements, like Immanuel, which are located in areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control. The Palestinian Authority does not allow racial discrimination, but due to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, it has no authority over the area in question.

74 white girls who have been studying in a building next to the school will now be allowed to study in whites-only classrooms that are privately funded, as their parents claim they do not want their girls to study in racially-mixed classrooms.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lebanon's "ground zero synagogue" puts U.S. bigots to shame

from the blogspot blog by Ghassan Bridi, posted 8/23/10

Monday, August 23, 2010
The Ground Zero Synagogue—Lebanon Becoming More American than America

"There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”— Newt Gingrich

Has Lebanon officially become more tolerant and progressive than the United States?

Let's talk about Lebanon’s Ground Zero and you can decide for yourself.

One must first understand what “Ground Zero” means to most Lebanese.

In a country with about the same land mass as Los Angeles County which has been at war off and on for nearly four decades, “Ground Zero” for the Lebanese is arguably their entire country—and at the center of their Ground Zero is downtown Beirut, captured and occupied by the Israeli Defense Force in 1982 and which was almost entirely reduced to rubble from Muslim West Beirut to Christian East Beirut, and all points in between.

Once upon a time not too long ago, there was scarcely a building left standing or unscarred by shrapnel in all of Beirut. I know, because I was in Beirut in 1991, and witnessed first hand a city once described as "the Paris of the Middle East" reduced to ruins, pot marked with unexploded munitions and a haphazzard "network" of open sewers.

Miraculously, Beirut was rebuilt and reclaimed its prominence. It once again became the jewel of the Arab world, remarkably able to bridge the ancient mystique of the east with the modern allure of the west.

Upon the first completion of its "rebuilding" process however--after 15 years and tens of billions of dollars spent on reconstructing Lebanon and its Ground Zero from rubble to splendor, Israel did what Israel does...

In July and August of 2006, Israel again followed through on its promise to “bomb Lebanon back into the Stone Age,” and in so doing displaced 1,000,000 Lebanese civilians (nearly a quarter of the country’s population), completely destroyed the country’s infrastructure (again), its only airport, at least 64 bridges, leveled entire buildings and neighborhoods to rubble (again), including the country's largest milk factory, a food factory, two pharmaceutical plants, water treatment centers, power plants, grain silos, a Greek Orthodox Church, several mosques, and a handful of hospitals (in a country which only had a handful of hospitals to begin with).

Over 1,200 hundred Lebanese civilians were killed and over 5,000 wounded.

Israel routinely talks about “proportionality” when comparing their “terrorism deaths” to American 9/11 deaths. In order to shock the sensibilities of a gullible American public, they portray a figure “in American terms,” by multiplying their dead by a number which reflects their population in comparison to the American population.

Well, what’s good for the Israeli goose is good for the Lebanese gander. I will play their game: 1,200 dead Lebanese civilians are the “proportional equivalent” to 90,000 American dead when accounting for the two countries’ population differences. Therefore, according to Israeli goose math, that’s the equivalent of roughly thirty 9/11’s Israel exacted on Lebanon in July and August 2006 over the course of 34 days—nearly one 9/11 a day for an entire month without relent.

Incidentally, July and August of 2006 only tell a small part of the story when it comes to Israeli aggression against Lebanon. There have been decades of invasion, devastation, and occupation which predated 2006. Several thousands of Lebanese have been killed at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force. Tens of billions of dollars of damage have been levied on the Lebanese infrastructure and private and public property courtesy of the IDF over the course of decades.

“Ground Zero” for Lebanon is an ever expanding, never ending, open wound that never heals.

So what now Newt?

Should you expect the Lebanese to allow a synagogue to be built on their Ground Zero, in the aftermath of a 9/11 that occurred 5 years after ours and which, “proportionately” speaking, was 30 times the size of ours?

Well guess what you hateful, misguided, twit?


In the process of re-building Beirut yet again, in 2008, renovations began and have now been completed on the Maghden Abraham Synagogue located in the middle of newly renovated downtown Beirut in an area known as the “Solidere" which has become the focal point and showcase of Lebanon’s rebirth.

This isn’t some hole in the wall, nondescript, “excuse me” synagogue hidden out of view so as to not “offend” Lebanese non-Jews—this is an elaborate, ornate, beautifully designed, cathedral-style house of worship built for a Lebanese Jewish population that totals less than 500 in a country of more than 4,000,000 (in stark contrast to the eight million American Muslims living in the United States).

And wait until you hear Hezbollah’s response to the building of this Ground Zero Synagogue.

(To those expecting a Newt Gingrich equivalent response, prepare to be woefully disappointed).

Courtesy of Hassan Nasrallah himself: "We respect Judaism, just as we respect Christianity. Our only problem is with Israel."

Did you hear that Newt (and the rest of you idiots)?

An Arab democracy, with a Muslim Prime Minister and a Christian President, allowed the building of a synagogue, squarely in the center of their “Ground Zero” in the heart and pride of downtown Beirut which used to be a dumping ground for Israeli military ordinances.

An Arab democracy allowed this, without so much as a protest being made by its citizens, or allegations by politicians that this was sacrilege, or hateful commentary by the media that the Jewish faith was barbaric, or any of the other stupidity I have seen and heard plastered all over American television, talk radio, and internet-blogs regarding a certain “Ground Zero Mosque” and the Islamic faith.

Regardless of whether you perceive Israel to be justified in perpetrating the devastation it did on Lebanon is irrelevant. The purpose of this article is not to debate that. What cannot be debated, is that Israel (a Jewish State, flying a Jewish flag) unleashed hell on Lebanon for 34 straight days in July and August of 2006 (and for decades prior in its wars against Lebanon). Regardless of whether or not you feel Israel had a right to do that, you cannot deny that Lebanese civilians harbored, and continue to harbor, a very real resentment against the government of Israel—this Jewish state—for those actions and the devestation those actions caused.

Yet these very Lebanese, who are so quickly labeled as “blood thirsty terrorists” by Newt Gingrich and his army of xenophobic morons, were able to draw a distinction between the Jews “flying those planes” in July and August of 2006 working at the behest of the Israeli government, and the Jews whom are citizens of Lebanon who had no connection with those attacks.

Lebanon rebuilt that Ground Zero Synagogue for its Jews.

Not for Israel. Not for the world’s Jewry. Not as a monument to mark a “Jewish victory” over Lebanon.

Lebanon rebuilt that Ground Zero Synagogue because its Jews lived in that neighborhood and they had every right to build a house of worship in a place they called home.

For crying out loud, Hassan Nassrallah and Hezbollah can even draw the distinction between a Lebanese Jew and an Israeli soldier who happens to be a Jew. So how is it that Americans can’t distinguish between American Muslims who were victims of 9/11 and Saudi Muslims who were the perpetrators of 9/11?

Thank you Mr. Gingrich for allowing Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah to outclass you and the Republican Party (and you Democrats aren't too far behind--yes Harry Reid, I'm talking to you). When the former Republican Speaker of the House and the current Democratic Senate Majority Leader start sounding less tolerant and less reasonable than a "terrorist," we need to start sounding the alarm bells.

What a sad state of affairs for America.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mobilize Against Islamophobia

Special Planning Meeting for Sept 11 Rally

Please note: Iftar (food to break the Ramadan fast) provided at the meeting after sunset

WED. Aug 25 at 6:30 pm

Solidarity Center

55 W. 17th St, #5C, (between 5th & 6th Ave) NY, NY 10011


Emergency Mobilization Against Racism and Anti-Islamic Bigotry

We say NO to Racism and anti-Islamic Bigotry

Attend a Major Rally

For Unity & Solidarity on Saturday, September 11

Emergency Mobilization Against Racism and Anti-Islamic Bigotry

Endorse this Call to Action at

Initial Signers (list in formation) More than 1,500 signers on-line

AlAwda NY Palestine Right To Return Coalition

American Muslims for Palestine

Arab Muslim American Federation - AMAF

Bailout the People Movement

BAYAN USA – Philippine American Alliance

Black Workers for Justice

Ramsey Clark

Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, VA

DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving-

Families United for Justice in America-FUJA

Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Fight Imperialism Stand Together-FIST

Gabriella Network USA – Women’s Leadership

Steve Gillis, VP, USW Local 8751 Boston School Bus Drivers

Mike Gimbel, Chair, Local 375, AFSCME "Labor/Community Unity Committee"

Imani Henry, LGBT Activist, Playwright/Performer

In the Name of Humanity

International Action Center

Jersey City Peace Movement

Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, Pres. North American Imams Federatiopn - NAIF

Angaza Laughinghouse, Pres, UE local 150, NC Public Service Workers Union

May 1 Workers and Immigrant Rights Coalition

Cynthia McKinney

Michigan Emergency Comm, Against War & Injustice

Millions for Mumia

Million Worker March Movement

MN Ă…nti War Committee

Moritorium Now Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs

Muslim Solidarity Committee

Nodutdol for Korean Community Development

North East Peace and Justice Action Coalition

NYC Coalition to Stop Islamaphobia

Pakistan USA Freedom Forum

Pan Africa News Wire

Peoples Organization for Progress

Peoples Video Network

Queers for Economic Justice

Richmond Jobs With Justice

Stonewall Warriors

Senegalese Workers Association

Bishop Filipe Teixeira, OFSJC, Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, CCA

The Peace Thru Justice Foundation

World Can’t Wait

Women’s Fightback Network

Monday, August 16, 2010


SALT OF THIS SEA (Milh Hadha al-Bahr), A great Palestinian film opened Friday Aug 13 at the Quad Theater in NYC. It did so well that it's being held over another week!
This film is so effective that is should be used by Palestine solidarity activists around the country. It will change people's minds! -- Rick Congress

Activists in New York worked hard to publicize this film as you can see from the messages below:


“Brilliant, emotional, intense and fresh... the kind of powerful film that stays with you long after you leave the theater. It profoundly moved me.” — Michael Moore

Dear Friend of Palestine:

Are you tired of derogatory images of Palestinians, sick of obfuscating media narrative that tells less than half the story? Have you been waiting for a Hollywood-style film to reach out to the American voting public and tell a true story from Palestine? To describe from a personal point of view the History of dispossession, then bring it into the present with clear and unflinching images of the current reality of ongoing occupation set in a romantic adventure? This film has has arrived! Even if you can't attend, PURCHASE A TICKET NOW TO SUPPORT “SALT OF THIS SEA!”

Opening in New York Friday, August 13, Salt of This Sea (Milh Hadha al-Bahr), is a beautifully shot film from Palestine, produced by Hollywood strongman Danny Glover, directed by Tony-Award winning Palestinian-American filmmaker Anna Marie Jacir, starring Brooklyn’s own Suheir Hammad, and Saleh Bakri (son of Mohammed Bakri, acclaimed Palestinian actor and director of Jenin, Jenin). Now is the moment to support mainstreaming cinematic images of Palestine in America.

Why is this appeal reaching you less than 24 hours before the film's opening? Because a peace with justice organization I work with received a phone call just yesterday from Salt of This Sea's distributor, asking us to partner with them for group sales -- far too late for effective outreach for most films -- and we’ve just been informed by the Quad Cinema that NOT ONE GROUP BLOCK OR ADVANCE TICKET HAS BEEN SOLD! Given the caliber of this film, we don't know why this oversight occurred. But we must act now to remedy this missed opportunity to avoid losing the powerful educational outreach potential of this rare Palestinian film.


Because Monday morning after reviewing weekend box office sales, cinemas decide which films to keep in the theatre, and which to drop from the marquee. If Salt of This Sea does not sell more tickets that the other films at the Quad this weekend, it will be gone from the theatre.


- It’s the difference between distributors viewing films from Palestine as "box office deficits" and "passing" on these films in the future; vs. distributors viewing films from Palestine as commercially viable for American audiences, and seeking them out for future distribution in the US.

- It’s the difference between dissemination of more negative stereotypes and false narratives reaching the American voting public; vs. dissemination of true stories from Palestine, by Palestinian directors, portraying whole characters.


Because images form concepts, concept influence voting habits, and voting habits influence American foreign policy, in support of Palestine - or not. I think we all know how the record stands now. Let's take steps to change that now!

Salt of This Sea is a rare theatrical release with great potential to educate American public. The battle for Palestine begins with the media. Start now!

Kind regards and solidarity,

Nora Malone

Brooklyn For Peace Israel-Palestine Committee

American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, New York Chapter

M.F.A., Film and Media Arts Temple University 2003

Cell (267) 241 0405

follow up email message from Brooklyn for Peace:

CONGRATULATIONS everyone who helped spread the word!!! Salt of This Sea out sold all other films at the Quad Cinema this weekend! That includes: Joan Rivers, A Piece of Work, Cyrus, and Orlando. Yes, Palestine is more popular than Joan Rivers in New York!

As a result, Salt of This Sea will stay at the Quad Cinema for another week. This was our goal, and we achieved it!

Please understand from this experience that YOU as an audience member have the power to VOTE for the media you wish to see in theatres. Tired of that stereotype of Palestinians? Love the images you saw in Salt of This Sea? Then keep those images in the cinema for all to see by passing on the screening information and telling everyone you know it's a "must see." Keep the ticket sales going! Make Salt of This Sea a box office asset and show distributors films from Palestine are commercially viable.


- Write the distributor, Kino Lorber, and thank Richard Lorber for taking on this wonderful film: Ask how your group can arrange for a alternate screening after the theatrical run.

- Contact your local, regional, and national media outlets and let them know a film from Palestine sold out in New York, topped the weekend box office, and is being held over another week.

- Spread the word to all your blogging friends. Plug Salt of This Sea on your Facebook and Twitter.

Making Salt of This Sea a box office success will encourage the distribution of more films from Palestine. We CAN mainstream Palestine in America!

Obama's Audacity of Double Talk and Cowardice on the NYC Islamic Center

After Mayor Bloomberg's ringing defense of democratic rights and attack on anti-Islamic bigotry (a surprise to me actually. Given his contempt for democratic rights for New York City citizens, especially victims of his racist cops. But give credit where it's due.) Obama chimed in with a "me too."

Then, perhaps after looking at some poll numbers that showed a majority of the people in favor of bigotry and Islamophobia, he trimmed his sails and explained that he didn't really mean it, but he's in favor of the idea of religious freedom.

Finally, perhaps seeing that he went too far towards painting all Muslims as terrorists, he corrected himself and whispered a more muted "me too" to Bloomberg's statement.

I'll keep you posted on the next iteration from our bold audacious prez.

Sunday, August 15, 2010



Published 11:41 15.08.10
Latest update 11:41 15.08.10

"Arabs, get out"
If the inciters succeed in expelling the Arab MKs from the Knesset, it will be the final straw. Forget justice: it's plain stupid… and frightening.
By Gideon Levy

Alright, let's say they succeed. Let's say that the racist nationalist members of Knesset achieve their aspirations to kick the Arab member out of the Knesset. Let's assume that the aspirations of the sweet-lipped extremist Otniel Schneller, the "democrat" Ofir Akunis, and the nationalist Avigdor Lieberman come to pass and the Knesset is free of Arabs.

What would happen next? Behind this incitement campaign, like every other, there is no motivation other than arousing the darkest and most basest instincts: 'Arabs, get out' – not to mention 'Death to the Arabs.' So the Arabs are out, what then?

Even in the second round of the verbal lynching of Knesset member Hanin Zuabi this past weekend, including all the lies ( she "fought with Israeli soldiers," joined the "terrorists," "objected to removing evacuating wounded soldiers") put forward by politicians and television show hosts, calls arose to eject her from the Knesset, naturally.

It's already completely kosher – the calls to eject Hanin, and you, Ahmed Tibi, Mohammed Barakeh, Jamal Zahalka, and their friends are no longer only right-wing fantasy. The legitimization of the calls, in the wake of the crushing silence of most other politicians, demonstrates how deeply the aspiration behind it has put down roots.

They may be ignoramuses when it comes to democratic ideals - but those calling for the ejection of Arab MKs must at least say what will happen once Israeli Arabs are deprived of representation in the Knesset. Will Arab citizens vote for Yisrael Beitenu? Doubtful. Will they vote for Akunis in the primaries? Unlikely.

Will they place their ballot for McCarthyist Kadima? Change their views and join the Zionist movement, which brought them the Nakba - only don't ever mention it? Become Zu Artzeinu activists? Im Tirtzu foamers-at-the-mouth? Or maybe somehow they'll disappear entirely?

The State of Israel owes a great debt to the Arab public and to the members of Knesset that represent it. They are more separatist than the Basques in Spain (although with many more reasons to be separatist than the Basques), and also, of course, much less violent and subversive than them.

The fact that they have yet to choose to boycott the state and its institutions and to stop participating in the game of democracy, which is corrupt to begin with, as far as they are concerned – a game from which they are almost completely excluded – is nothing short of amazing.

Instead of thanking them for this, instead of appreciating their tolerance and restraint, their basic loyalty – we push them out, specifically now. Forget morals and democracy, justice and equality – is there anything stupider than this? Is it not clear to the inciters what the alternative is to the continued participation of the Arabs in the game of democracy?

The lives of Arab Israelis bear no resemblance to the lives of a Jewish Israeli. He is born into crowded conditions and neglected neighborhoods. In 62 years, the state has not lifted a finger to help the Arab populace, which constitutes a full fifth of the state's citizens, to establish a single new settlement.

The Arabs are weaned on deprivation from birth, the discrimination follows them from their earliest days. They can never bring up their past, they cannot define themselves as they wish ('Palestinian?' How dare they?), and sometimes they don’t even feel comfortable speaking their own language.

Try being an Arab and finding an apartment or a job. Surrounded by Zionist institutions that work to banish them, from the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund to the Israel Lands Administration, a new set of laws intended to repress them, a justice system that discriminates between them and the Jewish citizens – an entire web of life of a second-class citizen in every way possible.

Day and night they hear that they are a 'demographic threat' or a 'fifth column,' that the Negev and Galil must be 'Judaized,' that they must be expelled from their lands. Now they hear that the Knesset must be purified of their representatives, as well.

It's likely to happen. In a society whose institutional defenses of democracy have started to deteriorate, nothing is safe any more. One day, perhaps we will no longer have Arab MKs, or at least none that represent their constituents. And on that day, Arab Israelis will know that their exclusion from their state has become total and complete.

And what do the inciters believe will replace Hadash, United Arab List - Ta'al, and Balad? And who will replace Barakeh, Zuabi and Tibi? What will replace the speeches, difficult and bitter as they are, from the Knesset podium? The campaign trails and assemblies? The public protest that is for the most part law-abiding?

You know the answer very well. The answer is frightening and dangerous.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Modern or Throwback, Zionist State is Wrong

I used to use the argument "Israel as an ethnic-based exclusively Jewish state is a throwback to earlier centuries, and modern states are secular and non-exclusive." I used it until someone completely tore it to pieces. He was right.

The issue isn't that the state of Israel is a good thing or not. It definitely was illegitimately created by expelling the majority Palestinian population and creating a Jewish ethnocracy. It's also an expansionist Western colonial settler-state based on theft and oppression (not just in the West Bank but from 1948 on). But don't use the “not a modern state” argument.

Unfortunately, ethnic states are common these days. Look at Serbia. How about Belgium which is on the bring of splitting apart into Francophone and Dutch sections. Remember Czechoslovakia? Then there's the Hindi Tamals who fought for independence from the Buddhist Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka.

Going back to the 18th and 19th centuries you can find multi-ethnic states, most notably the double kingdom of Austria-Hungary. Switzerland has been an official tri-ethnic state for centuries. Going back to antiquity you can find a lot of multi-culti states especially the Roman Empire, or Persian.

So Israel is not a throwback in that sense. It is a hanger-on from the past in terms of being the last significant European (including American and Canadian Jews whose ethnicity includes Central and Eastern European Jewish ancestry) colonial settler-state.
--Rick Congress

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The ADL is NOT a human rights organization, it is, in fact, a fraud

When The ADL Gave White Nationalism A Free Pass, Did “Pro-Israel” Politics Play A Role?
On 08.09.10, By Max Blumenthal

A t-shirt sold by Richard Quinn's Southern Partisan Magazine

With the Cordoba House controversy, the mainstream press has suddenly discovered that the Anti-Defamation League is more than willing to give sanction to bigotry. But the ADL has a long history of allowing cynical political calculations to trump its professed concerns about racism.

In a virtually unknown and unreported event in 1999, the ADL pointedly refused to condemn Richard Quinn, a leading white nationalist publisher who had come under fire for his history of promoting racist screeds before taking a job as a consultant for John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. Though the ADL initially expressed concern about Quinn’s role on the McCain campaign, it backed off for reasons that appeared to relate to the calculated “pro-Israel” line of Quinn’s magazine.

The episode began after John McCain’s surprising victory in the 1999 New Hampshire Republican primary. Controversy ensued when the New Republic’s Benjamin Soskis revealed that McCain had hired the longtime editor of Southern Partisan Magazine, Richard Quinn, as a consultant. Quinn came under fire from Soskis and many others for editing a neo-Confederate magazine that promoted white nationalist themes. For his part, Quinn had authored an editorial in his publication denouncing Martin Luther King Day as “vitriolic and profane;” attacked Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist” and a “bad egg;” and wrote the following about the KKK’s former Imperial Wizard-cum-Louisiana GOP gubernatorial candidate: “What better way to reject politics as usual than to elect a maverick like David Duke? What better way to tweak the nose of the establishment?”

As the bad press piled up, and reporters discovered gems like the ad in Southern Partisan for a t-shirt emblazoned with a Republican elephant logo that read, “Lincoln’s Worst Nightmare!” Quinn began to work his contacts. Finally, his friend Sam Tennenbaum, who served at the time on the ADL’s advisory board, intervened in his defense, ensuring that the ADL did not condemn the Southern Partisan or disturb the McCain campaign about employing an avowed neo-Confederate.

In the 4th Quarterly issue of the Southern Partisan in 1999, editor Christopher Sullivan detailed the ADL’s deliberations and ultimate refusal to condemn Quinn [see the full article here and here]:

Even the Anti-Defamation League, trusting the information that had been conveyed in the media, wrote McCain a letter requesting an explanation. Regular readers of the Partisan know that we have never published anything that even suggested anti-Semitism. In that regard, a friend of Richard Quinn’s [Sam Tennenbaum, a South Carolina businessman and a prominent Democrat] happens to serve on an advisory board to the Anti-Defamation League. Tennenbaum called the League’s national leaders and persuaded them that the attack on Quinn was unfair and undeserved.

Why did the ADL let the Southern Partisan off the hook when it had been so zealous in assailing other white nationalist organizations? A pro-Israel screed authored by Sullivan in 4th Quarterly issue of Southern Partisan in 2001, right after the 9-11 attacks, may offer an explanation. In an article called “Whose Fault?” [read full version here] Sullivan wrote:

Does anybody, however, really thing that if George Bush had come into office and renounced American support for the state of Israel that bin Laden’s sleepers would have packed their bags, settled their bills and flown back to Arabia? Of course not. They hate Jewish Israel and they hate Christian America. If the radical Arabs and Palestinians were successful in their murderous dream of annihilating every last Jew from The Levant, it would only mean more free time to scheme up another plot to destroy the West.

Within neo-Confederate circles, and by extension within the paleoconservative movement, Israel is a generally unpopular cause. Thus the Southern Partisan stood out in its roaring defense of the Jewish State’s value to the United States.

Ed Sebesta, one of the country’s leading researchers on the neo-Confederate movement, suggested to me that the Southern Partisan’s unusual pro-Israel bent helped explain why Quinn was able to marshall the ADL as his ally. “One of the leading figures in the neo-Confederate movement is Frank Conner whose book, ‘The South Under Siege: 1830-2000,’ has chapters of anti-Jewish writing. It is representative of neo-Confederate thinking. Frank Conner is a figure respected in the Sons of Confederate Veterans [the nation's largest neo-Confederate group] and was the author of multiple articles for the Sons of Confederate Veterans educational foundation publication, ‘Southern Mercury.’ What is interesting is that the paleoconservatives and neo-Confederates are very critical of Israel. But the Southern Partisan was always the publication of Richard Quinn, a Republican party consultant who needed to earn a living. So its position on Israel is anomalous relative to the neo-Confederate movement.”

The ADL’s refusal to condemn Quinn was a telling episode. Foxman and company may have been willing to ignore all the racist propaganda Quinn and his associates promoted (the Partisan ran a glowing review of the pornographic anti-immigrant tract, “Camp of the Saints,” in the same issue in which it defended Quinn) because the magazine maintained a strict “pro-Israel” line. There is hardly any other explanation for the ADL’s strange silence. In contrast, the Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly taken on the Southern Partisan and the figures behind it. The SPLC is able to take a sincere and principled stance against bigotry because, unlike the ADL, it does not have a foreign policy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the only democracy in the middle east is at it again

From Haaretz
Published 01:17 08.08.10
Latest update 01:17 08.08.10

Missing the forest
Does anyone actually know the meaning of the term 'Jewish state'? Wouldn't it be better to live in a just democracy?
By Gideon Levy

Sometimes you really can't see the forest for the trees. The forest of political, governmental and institutional racism in Israel is dark and deep. One particular tree in that forest happens to have Israelis all riled up: The state's handling of the children of migrant workers. In the shade of a nearby tree is the state's handling of these children's parents, but this excites the Israelis somewhat less. And there are many other poisonous trees in the forest: Citizenship laws, loyalty laws, conversion laws, the razing of Bedouin villages in the Negev and even the story of the Arab delivery man who was convicted of rape for pretending to be a Jew. Each one galvanized parts of society into action, and this is well and good; but few see the big picture, and the big picture is several times worse than the sum of its components.

Enlightenment came from an unexpected direction; it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of all people, who accurately defined the problem. In deciding on these children's future, he said, the cabinet is torn between humanitarian considerations on one hand and Zionist considerations on the other. The prime minister of Israel himself presents them as a contradiction, and this is the story in a nutshell.

Each particular wrong must be fought, of course, but we must not forget that all comes down to one large, fundamental truth: Defining Israel as a Jewish state condemns us to living in a racist state. This is the new definition of Zionism that we have subscribed to, and until we realize that we will not be able to uproot all the wild weeds that have seeded themselves here lately. Were we to not expel the migrant workers' children but continue to raze Bedouin villages we would not solve a thing. We will continue to move from one injustice to another until we recognize the racist nature of the state.

Israel is not the only place where racism is on the rise. Europe and the United States are awash in a turbid wave of xenophobia; but in Israel, this racism is embedded in the state's most fundamental values. There is no other state whose immigration laws are blatantly and unequivocally based on the candidates' bloodlines. Jewish blood, whether authentic or dubious, is kosher. Other blood, from those of other creeds or nationalities, is unacceptable. No country throws its doors wide open to everyone, but while other states take social, economic and cultural considerations into account in Israel bloodline is the name of the game. How else are we to understand the fact that someone who was born here, who speaks the language, cherishes its values and even serves in the military, can be unceremoniously expelled while a member of the Bnei Menashe community in India or the grandson of a half-Jew from Kazakhstan are welcomed with open arms.

In contrast to what we have been told there is no significant argument in the wider world, and of course not in Israel, over the Jews' right to a state. The argument is about its character. There is also no argument about the justice of the Law of Return: Israel is the place of the Jews who want to live there. The real argument is over the law's exclusivity, over the fact that it applies only to Jews. That's where it all begins. One could understand the need after the Holocaust, the necessity in the first years of the state, but 62 years after the founding of the state the time has come to reexamine the long-obsolete concepts.

Does anyone actually know the meaning of the term "Jewish state" that we bandy about so much? Does it mean a state for Jews only? Is it not a new kind of "racial purity"? Is the "demographic threat" greater than the danger of the state's becoming a religious enthnocracy or an apartheid state? Wouldn't it be better to live in a just democracy? And how is it even possible to speak about a state being both Jewish and democratic? But anyone who tries to enter the cauldron of this debate, who tries to think outside the box of tired cliche, is automatically fated to delegitimization and slander. Just ask Avraham Burg, who last week announced his intention to set up a political party along those very lines.

(Berg, a rightist Zionist, recently publically advocated a "one state solution." However, it was not for a secular, democratic state, but a scheme to gradually allow some Palestinians from the west bank to be citizens of a Jewish state. --R. Congress)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vibrant Israeli democracy in action: high scool students learn how to be Judeofascists

Israeli high school students participated in demolition of Bedouin village

From Mondoweiss Posted: 01 Aug 2010 01:50 PM PDT

The other day we picked up the news from CNN that when Israeli security forces descended on a Bedouin village in the Negev and destroyed it, uprooting over 200 people, busloads of civilians were there cheering.
Max Blumenthal has now visited Al-Arakib and has a thorough report on his blog that the cheering civilians were high school students. Excerpt:

Arab Negev News publisher Ata Abu Madyam supplied me with a series of photos he took of the civilians in action. They depicted Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard (I am working on identifying some participants by name). Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings.
A number of villagers including Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain sight of the owners. Finally, according to Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.
“What we learned from the summer camp of destruction,” Madyam remarked, “is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.” (The cover of the latest issue of Madyam’s Arab Negev News features a photo of Palestinians being expelled to Jordan in 1948 juxtaposed with a photo of a family fleeing al-Arakib last week. The headline reads, “Nakba 2010.”)
According to residents of al-Arakib, the youth volunteers vandalized homes throughout the village
The Israeli civilian guard, which incorporates 70,000 citizens including youth as young as 15 (about 15% of Israeli police volunteers are teenagers), is one of many programs designed to incorporate Israeli children into the state’s military apparatus. It is not hard to imagine what lessons the high school students who participated in the leveling of al-Arakib took from their experience, nor is it especially difficult to predict what sort of citizens they will become once they reach adulthood. Not only are they being indoctrinated to swear blind allegiance to the military, they are learning to treat the Arab outclass as less than human. The volunteers’ behavior toward Bedouins, who are citizens of Israel and serve loyally in Israeli army combat units despite widespread racism, was strikingly reminiscent of the behavior of settler youth in Hebron who pelt Palestinian shopkeepers in the old city with eggs, rocks and human waste. If there is a distinction between the two cases, it is that the Hebron settlers act as vigilantes while the teenagers of Israeli civilian guard vandalize Arab property as agents of the state.