Thursday, April 26, 2012

Growth of Thuggish "Might Makes Right" mentality in theonlydeomcracyinthemiddleeast

from The Electric Intifada Cheering for Nazis If Israelis who commemorate the Nakba and call for the implementation of the right of return certainly do not represent the mainstream, what about another group of Israelis? In a story headlined, “Students cheer Nazis at Holocaust Remembrance Day play,” The Times of Israel reported: “You embarrassed the Jewish people and the Holocaust,” actor Oded Leopold said from the stage of the Cameri Theater last Thursday, lashing out at hundreds of high school students after they repeatedly disrupted a play dealing with the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to the report: During the play “Ghetto,” which portrays the life of Jews in the Vilna Ghetto in the early 1940s at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theatre, students in the audience made fun of the actors and shouted offensive remarks toward the stage. Some laughed and cried out encouragement during scenes depicting Jews being killed by Nazis, and when a kapo beat a Jew. Calls of “hit him harder” and “well done” were heard from the audience. The term “kapo” refers to Jews who collaborated forcibly or willingly with Nazis to persecute other Jews. It came to the fore recently when a professor used it to attack Jewish students who participated in the boycott, divestment and sanctions conference at the University of Pennsylvania last February. Teacher defends students’ behavior The Times of Israel article notes that actors, and even the Israeli minister of education condemned the students’ behavior, but more interesting is the inaction of teachers, one of whom even lashed out at those who criticized the students: Avi Kalma, director of the Cameri’s educational department, told Maariv that it was normal for students to disrupt plays from time to time, but what happened on Thursday was different. “You would think it was a comedy” based on the students’ reactions, he said, noting that thousands of students saw the play that week and only this group acted in such a manner. Some of the actors, including Natan Datner and Rami Baruch, said the educational staff “didn’t lift a finger” to try to stop the catcalls. You expect students to know who’s good and who’s bad, “but they didn’t,” said Baruch. But Rinat Meron, a teacher from Rishon Lezion, wrote a letter condemning Leopold’s castigation. The actor’s reaction was extreme, she wrote to the theater’s management. “Reactions from students are not in any way a disgrace to the Jewish people.” This might have been an ‘isolated incident,’ but it is one amid a growing number of documented instances of extreme racism and ultra-nationalism, from rabid rallies against African migrants led by legislators, to crowds of youths in eastern occupied Jerusalem’s streets, or in Malha shopping mall shouting “Death to the Arabs.” Another aspect of the lack of compassion – confused with strength – in the militarist, ultra-nationalist Zionist ethos, is the joy that some Israelis openly expressed at the deaths of a group of Palestinian children in a road accident. These incidents do not tack against the dominant ethos, but blow in the same direction as increasingly repressive and openly racist laws targeting Palestinians citizens of Israel as well as Africans. And while Israeli police and occupation forces at best do nothing to stop the racist mobs, and at worst protect or encourage them, it was the Nakba commemoration that Israeli police turned out in force to prevent. Zionist anti-Semitism Given the amount of propaganda Israel puts out about how its existence is justified by the “Never Again” lesson that comes out of the Nazi holocaust, Israeli youths ought to be imbued with compassion for Holocaust victims and anger at the Nazis. How could any actually identify with Nazis to the point of cheering them on? One of the anti-Semitic themes long present in Zionist thought is the notion that Jews in “exile” – living in the European native lands before the establishment of Israel – were weak and effeminate. Zionism sought not just to create a Jewish state in Palestine, but to fashion a new, Palestine-born “Sabra” Jew who was tough and militaristic. This attitude was manifested in contempt for Holocaust victims and survivors who were somehow seen as to blame for their own fate. As holocaust scholar Israel Charny explained: These undesirable aspects were expressed in juxtaposed attitudes of contempt by the Israeli youth in their slang expressions in the 1940s and 1950s for the survivor immigrants – “galuti,” “gachaletznik” (disdainful terms relating to the European origins of the survivor) and “sabon” (soap) [a reference to Nazis making soap out of human bodies of their victims]. The denial and repudiation of their own vulnerability were seen in the Sabra self-image of mastery and invincibility. Obviously, the kinds of racist outbursts we are increasingly seeing are not universal. But the point is they are not rare either. Indeed aggressive racism and Nakba denial in Israel are far more common than the phenomenon of the Zochrot activists who were attempting another kind of discourse by trying to commemorate the Nakba. If I were to hazard a guess, it is the Israeli state’s repressive answer that would undoubtedly be met with the greater public approval.

Israel's Iron Man: 'Stupid and Mean and Brutal' The 'hero' of the affair is Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner.

23:24 04/19/2012 By Uri Avnery 'In blood and sweat / A race will arise to us / Proud and generous and brutal…' Thus wrote Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, the founder of extreme right-wing Zionism, who was also a writer and a poet. Present-day Likud leaders see him as their forefather, much as Stalin saw Karl Marx. The world 'brutal' stands out, because it seems implausible that Jabotinsky really meant it. His Hebrew was not very good, and he probably meant something like 'hard' or 'tough'. If Jabotinsky saw today’s Likud, he would shudder. His was a 19th century mixture of extreme nationalism, liberalism and humanism. Paradoxically, brutality is the only one of the three traits that is prominent in our life today, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories. There is nothing there to be proud of, and generosity is something associated with the despised leftists. The routine, everyday brutality that governs the occupied territories was caught on video this week. A searing flash in the darkness. It happened on Route 90, a highway that connects Jericho with Beth She’an along the Jordan River. It is the main road of the Jordan valley, which our government aims to annex to Israel one way or another. It is reserved solely for Israeli traffic and closed to Palestinians. A group of young international pro-Palestinian activists decided to demonstrate against the closure of the road. They invited their Palestinian friends to a jolly bicycle ride along it. They were stopped by a unit of the Israeli army. For some minutes they faced each other: the cyclists, some with Arab keffiyehs (headdresses) draping their shoulders, and the soldiers with their rifles. The drill in such a situation is for the army to call the police, who are trained for this job and who have the means for non-lethal crowd dispersal. But the commander of the army unit decided otherwise. What happened then was shown on a video clip taken by one of the protesters. It is clear, unambiguous and unequivocal. The officer, a lieutenant-colonel, is standing opposite a fair-haired young man, a Dane, who was just looking on, neither saying nor doing anything. Nearby, protesters and soldiers are standing around. No sign of violence anywhere. Suddenly the officer raises his rifle, holding it horizontally, one hand on the butt and one on the barrel, and then he drives the squared-off end of the magazine hard into the young Dane's face. The victim falls backward on the ground. The officer grins with satisfaction. In the evening, Israeli TV showed the clip. By now, almost every Israeli has seen it a hundred of times. The more one sees it, the more one is shocked. The sheer brutality of this completely unprovoked act makes one flinch. To veterans of demonstrations in the occupied territories, there is nothing new in this incident. Many have suffered brutality in many different forms. What was unusual in this case was that it was caught on camera. And not a hidden camera. There were quite a lot of cameras around. Not only those of the protesters, but those of army photographers, too. The officer must have been aware of this. He just did not give a damn. The undesired publicity caused a national uproar. Obviously it was not the act itself that upset the military and political leadership, but the publicity it attracted. Coming at the same time as the glorious defense of Tel Aviv airport by 700 policemen and policewomen against the terrifying invasion of some 60 international human rights activists, such additional publicity was definitely unwanted. The army Chief of Staff condemned the officer and promptly suspended him. All senior officers followed suit, the Prime Minister himself spoke out. As is well known, our army is “the most moral in the world”, so what had happened was the unpardonable act of a single rogue officer. There will be a thorough investigation, etc etc. The hero of the affair is Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner (“Iron Man”, in German). Far from being exceptional, he seems to be the quintessential army officer, indeed the quintessential Israeli. The first thing TV viewers noticed was the kippah on his head. “Well of course,” many murmured to themselves. For decades the national-religious movement has systematically infiltrated the officers’ corps of the armed forces, starting from officers’ induction courses and climbing up, with the aim of having one of their number end up as the army Chief of Staff. By now, kippah-ed lieutenant colonels are common – a far cry from the kibbutzniks who dominated the officers corps at the birth of our army. At the time of the incident, Eisner was a deputy brigade commander. The national-religious movement, to which the core of the settlers belong, was also the home of Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin and of Baruch Goldstein, the mass-murderer of the Muslims in the mosque in Hebron. One of the pillars of this movement is the yeshiva Merkaz Harav (“Center of the Rabbi”), where Eisner’s father was a prominent rabbi. During the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlers by Ariel Sharon, Eisner Jr. was among the protesters. Last year Eisner was photographed on the very same spot on Road 90 fraternizing with extreme rightist demonstrators, who also protested on bicycles there. He did not take the rebukes lying down. With unprecedented impertinence, he attacked the Chief of Staff, the Commander of the Central Front and his division commander for suspending him. He waved his bandaged hand to prove that he was attacked first and acted in self-defense. He even produced confirmation from some doctor that one of his fingers was broken. That is highly improbable. First of all, the way he holds his rifle in the video would have been impossible with a broken finger. Second, the video shows that his act was not in reaction to any violence. Third, there were several army photographers around, who shot every detail (to be used as evidence if protesters were brought to trial in a military court). If any act of violence had taken place, their videos would have been displayed by the army the same day. Fourth, Eisner similarly struck two women protesters in the face and one male protester on the back- unfortunately off camera. He fervently insists that he did the right thing. After all, he did break up the demonstration, right? But he was not entirely without remorse. He publicly admitted that it “may have been a mistake to act this way in the presence of cameras”. With this the army and many commentators wholeheartedly agreed: they did not criticize his brutality, but his stupidity. As an individual, Eisner is not very interesting. If armies refrained from enlisting stupid people, where would we be? The trouble is that Eisner is not an exception, but rather a representative of a norm. There are some excellent people in the army, but Eisner typifies many officers who come out of the military melting pot. And not only in the army. To paraphrase Jabotinsky: our educational system now produces “a race / stupid and mean and brutal”. How could it be otherwise after 60 years of relentless indoctrination and 45 years of occupation? Every occupation, every oppression of another people, corrupts the occupier and makes the oppressor stupid. While still a teenager I worked as a clerk for an Oxford-educated, Jewish-British lawyer, many of whose clients were members of the British colonial administration. I found them mostly nice, intelligent and courteous with an engaging sense of humor. Yet the British administration acted with an astonishing lack of intelligence. At the time I was a member of the Irgun, whose aim was to drive them out of the country. At my home there was an arsenal of guns, which were used to kill them. Living between the two worlds, I constantly asked myself: how can these nice English people behave so stupidly? My conclusion was that no colonial masters can behave intelligently. The colonial situation itself compels them to act against their better nature and their better judgment. As a matter of fact, during the first years of the Israeli occupation, it was widely praised as “enlightened” and “liberal”. The then Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, gave orders to treat the Palestinians as generously as possible. He let them trade with the enemy and listen to enemy broadcasts to their heart’s content. In a gesture without precedent, he kept open the bridges between the West Bank and Jordan, an enemy country. (I joked at the time that Dayan, never having read a book, did not know that this was unthinkable.) Behind this policy there was no benevolence – just a belief that if the Arabs were allowed to live their daily lives in peace, they would not rise up, but put up with an eternal occupation. Indeed this worked more or less for some 20 years. Until a new generation started the first intifada and the occupation became – well, stupid, mean and brutal. Along with the officers in charge. Two days ago, Israel observed the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. In this connection, I would like to quote Albert Einstein, a Jew and a Zionist: “Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our two thousand years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us.” - Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Globalization of Hollow Politics

Posted on Apr 23, 2012 By Chris Hedges I went to Lille in northern France a few days before the first round of the French presidential election to attend a rally held by the socialist candidate François Holland. It was a depressing experience. Thunderous music pulsated through the ugly and poorly heated Zenith convention hall a few blocks from the city center. The rhetoric was as empty and cliché-driven as an American campaign event. Words like “destiny,” “progress” and “change” were thrown about by Holland, who looks like an accountant and made oratorical flourishes and frenetic arm gestures that seemed calculated to evoke the last socialist French president, François Mitterrand. There was the singing of “La Marseillaise” when it was over. There was a lot of red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag. There was the final shout of “Vive la France.” I could, with a few alterations, have been at a football rally in Amarillo, Texas. I had hoped for a little more gravitas. But as the French cultural critic Guy Debord astutely grasped, politics, even allegedly radical politics, has become a hollow spectacle. Quel dommage. The emptying of content in political discourse in an age as precarious and volatile as ours will have very dangerous consequences. The longer the political elite—whether in Washington or Paris, whether socialist or right-wing, whether Democrat or Republican—ignore the breakdown of globalization, refuse to respond rationally to the climate crisis and continue to serve the iron tyranny of global finance, the more it will shred the possibility of political consensus, erode the effectiveness of our political institutions and empower right-wing extremists. The discontent sweeping the planet is born out of the paralysis of traditional political institutions. The signs of this mounting polarization were apparent in incomplete returns Sunday with the far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, winning a staggering vote of roughly 20 percent. This will make the National Front the primary opposition party in France if Holland wins, as expected, the presidency in the second round May 6. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s leftist coalition, the Front de Gauche, was pulling a disappointing 11 percent of the vote. But at least France has a Mélenchon. He was the sole candidate to attack the racist and nationalist diatribes of Le Pen. Mélenchon called for a rolling back of austerity measures, preached the politics “of love, of brotherhood, of poetry” and vowed to fight what he termed the “parasitical vermin” who run global markets. His campaign rallies ended with the singing of the leftist anthem “The Internationale.” “Long live the Republic, long live the working class, long live France!” he shouted before a crowd of supporters Saturday night. Every election cycle, our self-identified left dutifully lines up like sheep to vote for the corporate wolves who control the Democratic Party. It bleats the tired, false mantra about Ralph Nader being responsible for the 2000 election of George W. Bush and warns us that the corporate technocrat Mitt Romney is, in fact, an extremist. The extremists, of course, are already in power. They have been in power for several years. They write our legislation. They pick the candidates and fund their campaigns. They dominate the courts. They effectively gut regulations and environmental controls. They suck down billions in government subsidies. They pay no taxes. They determine our energy policy. They loot the U.S. treasury. They rigidly control public debate and information. They wage useless and costly imperial wars for profit. They are behind the stripping away of our most cherished civil liberties. They are implementing government programs to gouge out any money left in the carcass of America. And they know that Romney or Barack Obama, along with the Democratic and the Republican parties, will not stop them. The abrasive Nicolas Sarkozy is France’s oilier version of Bush. Sarkozy, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has done the dirty work for bankers. He and Merkel have shoved draconian austerity measures down the throats of Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy. The governments of all these countries, not surprisingly, have been deposed by an enraged electorate. And if the new governments in these distressed European states continue to be ineffectual—which is inevitable given the sacrifices demanded by the banks—the instability will get worse. Politicians such as Obama—and, I fear, Holland—who carry out corporate agendas while speaking in the language of populism become enemies of liberal democracies. Labor unions, environmentalists, anti-war activists and civil libertarians, blinded by the images and lies disseminated by public relations offices, stop watching what these politicians do. They mute their criticism to give these politicians, whose rhetoric is rarely matched by reality, a chance. The result accelerates our disempowerment. It is also, more ominously, a discrediting of traditional liberal democratic values. The longer the liberal class does not vigorously denounce expanded oil drilling, our corporate health insurance bill and the National Defense Authorization Act, simply because these initiatives have been pushed through by the Democrats, the more marginal the left becomes. If Bush had carried these policies, “liberal” pundits would have thundered with feigned outrage. The hypocrisy of the American left is too blatant to ignore. And it has effectively left us disempowered as a political force. The political theater staged by the Democrats and Republicans, bloated with corporate money, will not work much longer. The game will soon be up. There are four countries in Europe with socialist governments—Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Slovenia. All have had to implement austerity programs. None have effectively defied the power of the banks. This paralysis is a ticking bomb both in the U.S. and abroad. And when it explodes it will be far more deadly than anything cooked up by a group of radical jihadists. Paris was convulsed by riots led by unemployed youths in 2005, many of them immigrants living in the depressing high-rise housing projects in the poor suburbs of Paris known as banlieues. These riots swiftly spread across France. The French government declared a state of national emergency. Now, the simmering rage of the underclass could easily boil over again. The French unemployment rate of 10 percent is the highest in 12 years, but for those in the banlieues the rate is more than 40 percent. We in the United States have similar numbers, only without France’s health care system or safety net. And public unrest could soon pit the disorganized rage of the dispossessed against organized crypto-fascists such as Le Pen, who once compared Muslims praying on France streets in front of overcrowded mosques to the Nazi occupation. A breakdown of liberal democracy, which seems to be where we are headed, may not bring with it a salutary change. The most retrograde forces within the corporate state, such as the Koch brothers, will lavish racists, homophobes, demagogues, birthers, creationists and gun-carrying, flag-waving idiots with money once the political center crumbles. The left in Europe, and most certainly in the United States, could prove to be too weak to battle against figures like Le Pen or those in the U.S. who rally around the perverted ideologies of the Christian right and the tea party and who receive tens of millions of dollars in corporate backing. The left, in short, may find that it has done too little too late to be an effective counterweight. And widespread discontent could very easily be manipulated by the corporate elites to ensure our enslavement. I watched this happen in the former Yugoslavia. This is the real battle before us. And it has nothing to do with the election charade between Obama and Romney and, I expect, Holland and Sarkozy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

USA: the only non-democracy in North America


First They Come For the Muslims
Posted on Apr 16, 2012
By Chris Hedges

Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester, Mass., to 17½ years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government’s criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on “evidence” the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal. What the government did to Mehanna, and what it has done to hundreds of other innocent Muslims in this country over the last decade, it will eventually do to the rest of us.

Mehanna, a teacher at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, was convicted after an eight-week jury trial of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and providing material support to al-Qaida, as well as making false statements to officials investigating terrorism. His real “crime,” however, seems to be viewing and translating jihadi videos online, speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and refusing to become a government informant.

Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., a founder of Project Salam and the author of “Victims of America’s Dirty War,” a booklet posted on the website, has defended Muslim activists since 2006. He has methodically documented the mendacious charges used to incarcerate many Muslim activists as terrorists. Because of “terrorism enhancement” provisions, any sentence can be quadrupled—even minor charges can leave prisoners incarcerated for years.

“People who have committed no crime are taken into custody, isolated without adequate recourse to legal advice, railroaded with fake or contrived charges, and ‘disappeared’ into prisons designed to isolate them,” Downs told me when we met last week at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Downs calls the process of condemning people before they have committed a crime “pre-emptive prosecution.” The concept of pre-emptive prosecution mocks domestic law as egregiously as pre-emptive war mocks the foundations of international law.

Downs’ awakening to the corruption of the judicial system came in 2006 when Yassin Aref, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq who was an imam of a mosque in Albany, was entrapped in a government sting operation. Downs, who three years earlier had retired as chief attorney for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, became part of Aref’s legal defense team. He met with Aref two or three times a week in the Rensselaer County jail over a six-month period.

“I was unprepared for the fact that the government would put together a case that was just one lie piled up on top of another lie,” Downs said. “And when you pointed it out to them they didn’t care. They didn’t refute it. They knew that it was a lie. The facts of most of these pre-emptive cases don’t support the charges. But the facts are irrelevant. The government has decided to target these people. It wants to take them down for ideological reasons.”

“In the past, when the government wanted to do something illegal it simply went ahead and broke the law,” he said. “They rounded up the Japanese during World War II and stuck them in concentration camps. They knew they were breaking the law when they decided to go after the activists with COINTELPRO in the 1960s but they rationalized that they were doing it for a higher purpose. This is different. The government is destroying the legal framework of our country. They are twisting it out of recognition to make it appear as though what they’re doing is legal. I don’t remember that kind of a situation in the past. The opinions of the court are now only lame excuses as to why the courts can’t do justice.”

“The government lawyers must know these pre-emptive cases are fake,” he said. “They must know they’re prosecuting people before a crime has been committed based on what they think the defendant might do in the future. They defend what they are doing by saying that they are protecting the nation from people who might want to do it harm. I’m sure they’ve been co-opted at least to believe that. But I think they also know that they are twisting the legal concepts, they are stretching them beyond what the framework of the law can tolerate. They have convinced themselves that it is OK to convict many innocent people as long as they prevent a few people from committing crimes in the future. They are creating an internal culture within the Justice Department where there is contempt for the law and for the foundational principle that it is better for one guilty person to go free than that one innocent person is convicted. They must know they do not do justice, and that they serve only ideological ends.”

Downs pointed out that if the government was actually concerned about the rule of law it would prosecute politicians and other prominent Americans who have publicly spoken out in support of Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis), an armed group on the State Department terrorism list that carries out terrorist attacks inside Iran. They include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton and Gen. James Jones, who was President Obama’s first national security adviser. Some of them voiced their backing in speeches for which they were paid lavishly.

“Their support of MEK is far worse than any of the pre-emptive prosecution cases,” Downs said. “They are literally engaged in material support for terrorism. But of course they’re not being prosecuted. ... The whole thing is a game. It’s not serious law enforcement. It is political posturing. This will bring the law into contempt. It will bring the mechanisms of prosecution into contempt and eventually it will destroy the legal system.”

“Justice is now justice for corporations,” he went on. “Anybody who interferes with the corporations, who interferes with their profits, who interferes with their rights, will become labeled ‘terrorists.’ They become people we need to get rid of. Judges, politicians and lawyers all feed at the same corporate trough. And that is why their decisions increasingly are corporate decisions.”

Downs holds out a faint hope that it may be possible to force the Justice Department to turn over exculpatory evidence—evidence of a defendant’s innocence that by law the prosecution must disclose to the defendant but an obligation that the prosecutors frequently ignore. He said he is certain there is exculpatory evidence in government vaults that could free many of those pre-emptively prosecuted. Government prosecutors, however, do not willing sabotage their own cases by turning over evidence that would exonerate those they seek to condemn. Downs knows it is a quixotic fight, but he is working to get the undisclosed exculpatory evidence in pre-emptive prosecution cases released to defense lawyers.

“That’s my one hope of getting these guys out of jail—I don’t see any other way,” he said.

The corruption in the judiciary, Downs argues, is so pervasive that it is probably irreversible in the short run. Already dissidents such as peace activists, environmentalists and outspoken intellectuals have been treated as terrorists. Downs expects soon to see labor organizers and those in Occupy encampments treated as terrorists, especially if domestic dissent spreads. Yet despite his pessimism he has no intention of surrendering.

“I take comfort from organizations like the White Rose in Germany,” he said, referring to the anti-Nazi group that defied Hitler and saw most of its members arrested and executed. “They were doomed almost from the beginning. How long could you defy Hitler before you were rounded up and shot? It appeared to be a futile effort. And yet, after the war, when people went back and began to rebuild the German nation, they could look to the White Rose as an example of what German culture was really about. There were Germans who cared about peace, freedom and tolerance. I’m working now as much for the historical record as for those still in jail.”

“When I was 6,” Mehanna told the court Thursday at his sentencing, “I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of my childhood I gravitated towards any book that reflected that paradigm—‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X,’ and I even saw an ethical dimension to ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ ”

“By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was learning just how real that paradigm is in the world,” he went on. “I learned about the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European settlers. I learned about how the descendants of those European settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III. I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed insurgency against British forces—an insurgency we now celebrate as the American Revolutionary War. As a kid I even went on school field trips just blocks away from where we sit now. I learned about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs and the struggles of the labor unions, working class and poor. I learned about Anne Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggle. I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was 6: that throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed, and consistently respecting those who stepped up to defend them—regardless of nationality, regardless of religion. And I never threw my class notes away. As I stand here speaking, they are in a neat pile in my bedroom closet at home.”

“In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit,” he told the court at the end of his statement. “But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the U.S. military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for ‘conspiring to kill and maim’ in those countries—because I support the mujahedeen defending those people. They will look back on how the government spent millions of dollars to imprison me as a ‘terrorist,’ yet if we were to somehow bring Abeer al-Janabi back to life in the moment she was being gang-raped by your soldiers, to put her on that witness stand and ask her who the ‘terrorists’ are, she sure wouldn’t be pointing at me.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The undercover persecution of Muslim Americans


Maureen Clare Murphy The Electronic Intifada Chicago 13 April 2012

Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim American from the Pittsburgh area, was to publicly claim that he was the target of an FBI sting operation at a press conference last month. Had he not been arrested at his home one day before the press conference was to take place, al-Akili would have described how he was harassed and stalked by undercover FBI operatives, one of whose identity was exposed after a Google search of his phone number returned results linking him to another undercover entrapment case in New York state.

Authorities claim that al-Akili “had made radical Islamic statements and that police had uncovered unspecified jihadist literature at his home,” as the Guardian’s Paul Harris reported (“‘Taliban sympathiser’ arrest prompts new questions about FBI tactics,” 26 March 2012).

Al-Akili is currently in detention, charged with a firearms code violation related to a seven-second video of him firing a gun at a shooting range.

Shortly before his arrest, al-Akili reached out to civil liberties groups, national Muslim organizations and the media with his claim of being targeted in an FBI entrapment plot. The timing of his arrest before the press conference hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms has caused some, including his lawyer, to suspect that his arrest was timed to prevent him from getting his story out.

Story of entrapment

At the press conference, al-Akili would have narrated how several months ago, he met a man who called himself Shareef, who would attend dawn prayers at an area mosque and, according to a National Coalition statement, would “with increasing frequency [turn] the conversation to fighting.” Shareef would repeatedly ask al-Akili to help him obtain a gun, which al-Akili refused to do (“Arrest of Muslim One Day before He Was to Participate in a NCPCF Press Conference,” 21 March 2012).

Shareef promised to help al-Akili finance a restaurant if al-Akili would do something for him, “which al-Akili understood to mean some ‘act of violence against others,’” according to the statement. Al-Akili tried to avoid the man, but this proved difficult as Shareef lived only two blocks away.

The National Coalition adds: “When Shareef offered to introduce al-Akili to a man he called his ‘brother,’ al-Akili tried to evade the meeting, but as he was walking back to his apartment from the store one night, Shareef pulled his vehicle up to al-Akili. A man got out of the passenger side, introduced himself as Mohammed, and said that he wanted to talk to al-Akili over coffee. Al-Akili made excuses, but when he got home the phone began to ring; it was Shareef and Mohammed downstairs, wanting to come in. Al-Akili pretended not to be at home.”

Mohammed would again appear out of nowhere, insisting that al-Akili meet him. Al-Akili took down his phone number and would eventually run a Google search of it. This is how he found out that Mohammed was actually Shahed Hussain, an undercover FBI operative.

According to an interview that al-Akili gave to the Times Union newspaper shortly before his arrest, when al-Akili asked Hussain whether he was an FBI informant, Hussain quickly ended the call and within a day, Shareef had vacated his apartment and vanished without a trace (“FBI informant in upstate stings, including Albany, surfaces in Pittsburgh case,” 17 March 2012).

Federal convict to FBI darling

When al-Akili ran a Google search of Mohammed’s phone number, he had found a reference to the Newburgh Four, a group of African American Muslim men who were convicted on the basis of testimony and secret recordings made by undercover informant Shahed Hussain.

The four men, from an impoverished community in upstate New York, are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for participating in a plot to blow up Jewish targets and fire a Stinger missile at US military planes.

Not exactly self-starters, the Newburgh Four were more likely motivated by financial gain than ideology. As Paul Harris reported in the Guardian last year, great material rewards including $250,000, free vacations and new cars were promised by Hussain to the alleged conspirators for their cooperation in the plot designed and encouraged by Hussain (“Newburgh Four: poor, black, and jailed under FBI ‘entrapment’ tactics”).

Hussain even paid for the food and rent of one of the men, as the Associated Press reported (“Was too much offered?,” 22 September 2010).

The men, all with serious troubles including jail time and mental health problems, may have believed they were playing Hussain — when Hussain gave one of them a camera to use for surveillance work related to the alleged plot, the camera was promptly sold. And when the same man, James Cromitie, tried to back out of the alleged plot, “Hussain said his overseas terrorist ‘brothers’ might cut his head off,” according to the Guardian.

For his services, Hussain, “the sole personal witness for the FBI,” earned $100,000.

Before setting his sights on Newburgh, Hussain was the government’s chief witness in the prosecution and conviction of two Muslim men in Albany, New York for money laundering to fund terror. As the Times Union reported in 2006, a loan promised by Hussain to one of the convicted men was the basis of the money laundering charges (“Informant for FBI is freed”).

According to the paper, Hussain has been involved in the arrest and prosecution of more than a dozen persons.

It was exposed during the Albany trial that the FBI recruited Hussain after he was arrested in December 2001 for taking bribes of several hundred dollars each as part of a ring to illegally give drivers licenses to immigrants who couldn’t pass the written examination. It was also revealed that he may have been involved in a homicide in Lahore, Pakistan.

Role of undercover informants begs scrutiny

Hussain isn’t exceptional as far as undercover FBI agents go — only that he was exceptionally bad at providing effective cover in the al-Akili case (al-Akili told the Times Union that Hussain and his colleague “were ‘too obvious’ and requested receipts even for small items they purchased like coffee and donuts”).

A groundbreaking study by Mother Jones magazine and the Investigative Reporting Program published last year examined the prosecutions of more than 500 defendants in terrorism-related cases in the US. The investigation found that “nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants,” motivated by money or “the need to work off criminal or immigration violations” (“The Informants,” September/October 2011), as in the case of Hussain.

Furthermore, “Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur — an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.” Indeed, the report found that “With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.”

Because so few domestic terrorism cases actually go to trial — the specter of terror means juries almost always return guilty verdicts, so defendants usually take plea deals — the role of undercover FBI operatives in domestic terror cases rarely comes under scrutiny.

“No real hunt”

Rare insight into the FBI’s policy regarding undercover operatives was provided after ex-informant Craig Monteilh came forward about his role in the infiltration of Muslim communities in Orange County, California.

Monteilh, who served time for passing fraudulent checks, told the Guardian last month that the FBI even “gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting,” and to record their “pillow talk” (“The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’”).

Monteilh’s provocateur tactics ironically prompted the community he was spying on to get a restraining order against him and he was reported to the FBI. The Guardian reports that Monteilh is now part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI, and has “joined forces” with the people he once targeted “to campaign for their civil liberties.”

Monteilh told the Guardian: “The way the FBI conducts their operations, it is all about entrapment … There is no real hunt. It’s fixed.”

Persecution of Muslims despite low threat

The study of domestic terrorism prosecution published by Mother Jones notes that “Ever since 9/11, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s No. 1 priority, consuming the lion’s share of its budget,” and the bureau now boasts “a roster of 15,000 spies — many of them tasked, as Hussain was, with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States.”

However, a February report on “Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11” by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that the scale of so-called homegrown Muslim-American terrorism “does not appear to have corroborated the warnings issued by government officials” for the year 2011.

Finding a “relatively low level of radicalization among Muslim-Americans,” the report adds that the US government’s predicted surge in “homegrown Islamic terrorism” has not materialized and that the decline in prosecutions for funding terrorism, which makes up the bulk of domestic terrorism cases, “is particularly notable in view of the heightened scrutiny that terrorism financing now receives from law enforcement agencies.”

Yet the extent to which the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have set Muslims in their sights is shocking. The Associated Press has published an explosive series of reports on leaked documents showing the New York Police Department’s mapping of Muslim communities and spying on student groups.

And last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act demonstrating that the FBI in San Francisco used a mosque outreach program to gather intelligence on Muslim organizations and their constituents “without any suspicion of wrongdoing” (“FBI FOIA Docs Show Use of “Mosque Outreach” for Illegal Intel Gathering”).

On my blog for The Electronic Intifada, I have covered a domestic terrorism case in which three young men in North Carolina received decades-long prison sentences for providing material support to terror groups — even though government prosecutors failed to identify the specific terror groups to which the men are supposed to have provided support.

Conversely, high-profile public figures have established close ties with and are providing advocacy to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident group on the US State Department’s designated foreign terrorist organization list. The US government is even providing training to this designated terrorist organization, according to a report by The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh (“Our men in Iran?,” 6 April 2012).

Incidentally, reporter Chris Hedges and others are challenging the Obama administration in court about whether “civilian activists and journalists should not fear being detained under a new anti-terrorism law” (“Lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act,” Reuters, 29 March 2012).

Of course, foreign policy is the driving force behind the development and application of anti-terror legislation, as the historic and contemporary targeting of Palestinian leaders and solidarity activists in the US reinforces. Opposition to the increasingly unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are frequently used against defendants in terror trials, who are sometimes prosecuted after having refused to become informants themselves, as in the case of Tarek Mehanna, who received a 17.5 year prison sentence yesterday for various trumped-up terror charges. As the ACLU of Massachusetts commented last month, “if you are Muslim and criticize US foreign policy, you too can be prosecuted — unless you agree to play the FBI’s game” (“Double standards distort the judicial process”).

The result of all this is that US Muslims like Khalifah al-Akili face lifetime sentences behind bars without having committed any acts of violence or harm as the government’s relentless drive to get terror convictions goes unchecked. Meanwhile the the civil liberties of entire communities are violated, burning whatever trust those communities may have had in the law enforcement that should be there to protect them, not go after them.

Maureen Clare Murphy is managing editor of The Electronic Intifada.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians


Robin McKie, science editor
The Observer, Sunday 25 November 2001 11.24 GMT
Article history

A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.
Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away.
Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma.
'I have authored several hundred scientific papers, some for Nature and Science, and this has never happened to me before,' said the article's lead author, Spanish geneticist Professor Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, of Complutense University in Madrid. 'I am stunned.'
British geneticist Sir Walter Bodmer added: 'If the journal didn't like the paper, they shouldn't have published it in the first place. Why wait until it has appeared before acting like this?'
The journal's editor, Nicole Sucio-Foca, of Columbia University, New York, claims the article provoked such a welter of complaints over its extreme political writing that she was forced to repudiate it. The article has been removed from Human Immunology's website, while letters have been written to libraries and universities throughout the world asking them to ignore or 'preferably to physically remove the relevant pages'. Arnaiz-Villena has been sacked from the journal's editorial board.
Dolly Tyan, president of the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, which runs the journal, told subscribers that the society is 'offended and embarrassed'.
The paper, 'The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations', involved studying genetic variations in immune system genes among people in the Middle East.
In common with earlier studies, the team found no data to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team's research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.
Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state. Rivalry between the two races is therefore based 'in cultural and religious, but not in genetic differences', they conclude.
But the journal, having accepted the paper earlier this year, now claims the article was politically biased and was written using 'inappropriate' remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its editor told the journal Nature last week that she was threatened by mass resignations from members if she did not retract the article.
Arnaiz-Villena says he has not seen a single one of the accusations made against him, despite being promised the opportunity to look at the letters sent to the journal.
He accepts he used terms in the article that laid him open to criticism. There is one reference to Jewish 'colonists' living in the Gaza strip, and another that refers to Palestinian people living in 'concentration' camps.
'Perhaps I should have used the words settlers instead of colonists, but really, what is the difference?' he said.
'And clearly, I should have said refugee, not concentration, camps, but given that I was referring to settlements outside of Israel - in Syria and Lebanon - that scarcely makes me anti-Jewish. References to the history of the region, the ones that are supposed to be politically offensive, were taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and other text books.'
In the wake of the journal's actions, and claims of mass protests about the article, several scientists have now written to the society to support Arnaiz-Villena and to protest about their heavy-handedness.
One of them said: 'If Arnaiz-Villena had found evidence that Jewish people were genetically very special, instead of ordinary, you can be sure no one would have objected to the phrases he used in his article. This is a very sad business.'

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Uri Avnery's Reflections on Passover

'Pour Out Your Wrath!': Reflections on Passover

By Uri Avnery

(note: emphasis in bold type is mine, R. Congress)

I am writing this on Friday night, the eve of Passover. At this moment, all over the world, millions of Jews are gathered around the family table, observing the Seder, reading aloud from the same book: the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

The impact of this book on Jewish life is immense. Every Jew takes part in this ceremony from earliest childhood and plays an active part in the ritual. Wherever a Jewish man or woman goes in later life, they will take with them a memory of the warmth and togetherness of the family, the magical atmosphere – and the overt and subliminal message conveyed by the text.

Whoever invented the Seder (“order”) ritual, many centuries ago, was a genius. All human senses are involved: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. It includes eating a ritualized meal, drinking four glasses of wine, touching various symbolic objects, playing a game with the children (searching for a hidden piece of Matzo). It ends with singing several religious songs together. The accumulated effect is magical.

More than any other Jewish text, the Haggadah forms the Jewish conscious – or, rather, unconscious - mind today, as in the past, influencing our collective behavior and Israeli national policy.

There are many different ways to view this book.

Literature: As a literary work, the Haggadah is rather inferior. The text is devoid of beauty, full of repetitions, platitudes and banalities.

This may cause wonderment. The Hebrew Bible – the Bible in Hebrew – is a work of unique beauty. In many places, its beauty is intoxicating. The peaks of Western culture – Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Tolstoy – are not its equal. Even the later Jewish religious texts – Mishnah, Talmud and so forth – while not so uplifting, contain passages of literary merit. The Haggadah has none. It is a text devised purely for indoctrination.

History: It’s not. Though it claims to tell history, the Haggadah has nothing to do with real history.

There can no longer be the slightest doubt that the Exodus never happened. Neither the Exodus, nor the wandering in the desert, nor the conquest of Canaan.

The Egyptians were obsessive chroniclers. Many tens of thousands of tablets have already been deciphered. It would have been impossible for an event like the exodus to pass without being reported at length. Not if 600,000 people left, as the Bible tells it, or 60,000, or even 6000. Especially if during the flight a whole Egyptian army contingent, including war chariots, was drowned.

The same goes for the Conquest. Because of acute security concerns, after being invaded once from there, the Egyptians employed a host of spies, - travelers, merchants and others - to follow closely the events in neighboring Canaan, in every single one of its towns and at all times. An invasion of Canaan, even a minor one, would have been reported. Except for the periodic incursions of Bedouin tribes, nothing was recorded.

Moreover, the Egyptian towns mentioned in the Bible did not exist at the time the event is supposed to have happened. They did exist, however, when the Bible was written, in the first or second century BC.

There is no need to point out that after a hundred years of frantic archaeological searching by devout Christians and Zionist zealots, not a shred of concrete evidence for the conquest of Canaan has been found (nor that the Kingdoms of Saul, David or Salomon ever existed).

But is this really important? Not a bit of it!

The Passover story does not derive its immense power from any claim to be history. It is a myth that grips the human imagination, a myth that is the basis of a great religion, a myth that directs the behavior of people to this very day. Without the Exodus story, there would probably be no State of Israel today – and certainly not in Palestine.

The Glory: One can read the Exodus story as a shining example of all that is good and inspiring in the annals of humanity.

Here is the story of a small and powerless people that rises up against a brutal tyranny, throws off its chains and gains a new homeland, creating a revolutionary new moral code on the way.

Seen in this way, the Exodus is a victory of the human spirit, an inspiration for all downtrodden peoples. And indeed, it has served this purpose many times in the past. The Pilgrim Fathers, the founders of the American nation, were inspired by it, and so were many rebels throughout history.

The Other Side: When one reads the Biblical text attentively , without religious blinkers, some aspects gives us food for other thoughts.

Let’s take the Ten Plagues. Why were the entire Egyptian people punished for the misdeeds of one tyrant, Pharaoh? Why did God, like a divine Security Council, levy on them cruel sanctions, polluting their water with blood, destroying their livelihood with hail and locusts? And, even more gruesome, how could a merciful God send his angels to murder every single Egyptian firstborn child?

On leaving Egypt, the Israelites were encouraged to steal their neighbors’ property. It is rather curious that the Biblical story-teller, who was certainly deeply religious, did not omit this detail. And this just a few weeks before the Ten Commandments were handed down to the Israelites by God personally, including “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

No one seems ever to have given much thought to the ethical side of the conquest of Canaan. God promised the Children of Israel a land which was the home of other peoples. He told them to kill these peoples, expressly commanding them to commit genocide. For some reason, He singled out the people of Amalek, ordering the Israelites to eradicate them altogether. Later, the glorious King Saul was dethroned by His prophet because he showed mercy and did not murder his Amalekite prisoners-of-war, men, women and children.

Of course, these texts were written by people living in times long past, when the ethics of individuals and nations were different, as were the rules of war. But the Haggadah is recited - today as before - uncritically, without any reflection on these horrible aspects. Especially in religious schools in Israel today , the commandment to commit genocide against the non-Jewish population of Palestine is taken by many teachers and pupils quite literally.

Indoctrination: This is the real point of these reflections.

There are two sentences in the Haggadah that always had – and still have – a profound impact on the present.

One is the central idea on which almost all Jews base their historical outlook: “In every generation they rise against us to destroy us”.

This does not apply to a specific time or to a specific place. It is regarded as an eternal truth that applies to all places, all times. ”They” is the entire outside world, all non-Jews everywhere. Children hear this on Seder evening on their father’s knee, long before they are able to read and write, and from then on they hear or recite it every year for decades. It expresses the total conscious or unconscious conviction of almost all Jews, whether in Los Angeles, California, or in Lod, Israel. It certainly directs the policy of the State of Israel.

The second sentence, which complements the first, is a cry to God: “Pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you…for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home…Pour out your wrath on them! May your blazing anger overtake them! Pursue them from under the heavens of the Lord!…”

The word “nations” in this text has a double meaning. The Hebrew word is “goyim”, an ancient Hebrew term for “peoples”. Even the ancient Children of Israel were called a “Holy Goy”. But over the centuries, the word has taken on another meaning, and is understood to refer to all non-Jews, in a very derogatory way. (As in the Yiddish song “Oy, Oy, Oy, / Drunk is the Goy.”)

To understand this text properly, one has to remember that it was written as a cry from the heart of a defenseless, persecuted people who had no means to take revenge on their torturers. To raise their spirits on the joyful Seder evening, they had to put their trust in God, crying out to Him that he should take revenge in their stead.

(During the Seder ritual, the door is always left open. Officially, that is to allow the Prophet Elias to enter, if he should miraculously rise from the dead. In reality it was to allow the Goyim to look in, so as to disprove the anti-Semitic libel that Jews baked their unleavened Pesach bread with the blood of kidnapped Christian children.)

The Lesson: In the Diaspora, this craving for revenge was both understandable and ineffective. But the founding of the State of Israel has changed the situation completely. In Israel, Jews are far from being defenseless. We don’t have to rely on God to take revenge for the evils done unto us, past or present, real or imagined. We can pour out our wrath ourselves, on our neighbors, the Palestinians and other Arabs, on our minorities, on our victims.

That is the real danger of the Haggadah, as I see it. It was written by and for helpless Jews living in perpetual danger. It raised their spirits once a year, when they felt safe for a moment, protected by their God, surrounded by their families.

Taken out of this context and applied to a new, completely different situation, it can set us on an evil course. Telling ourselves that everybody is out to destroy us, yesterday and most certainly tomorrow, we consider the grandiloquent bombast of an Iranian bigmouth as a living proof of the validity of the old maxim. They are out to kill us, so we must – according to another ancient Jewish injunction – kill them first.

So, on this Seder evening, let our feelings be guided by the noble, inspiring part of the Haggadah, the part about the slaves who rose up against tyranny and took their fate in their own hands – and not the part about pouring out our wrath.

- Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He contributed this article to He contributed this article to

Sunday, April 8, 2012


My poem to Gunter

Dear Gunter,

As a gesture of support to another person smeared by the Zionist propaganda machine I offer a poem. It's not a deep neoclassical disquisition, or a pensive's more of a non-postmodern chin-up to a good guy and truth-teller.


Rick Congres

When the truth makes its arrival/the Israelis cry "blood libel."

It seems that the killers of children have sensitive ears/they cry in their beers
over the mention of unapproved facts

To criticize the Jewish state is heretical/downright antisemetical/especially a German/they are all Nazi vermin/but that's ok so long as they keep their mouth on vacation/and pay reparations/ but no, not Gunter!

It's a tough job running a Jewish democracy/getting attacked for hypocrisy/but how can you keep a place ethnically pure anyway/when the five and a half million won't go away?

If you knew what Vannunu, you'd be clued/Israel's got international-inspection- exempted A-bombs by the ton/ready to drop on anyone/just for fun?/who knows?

Suppose the Minister of Inferior detects/poor Gunter, that old derelict/trying to sneak around the wall/but Israel's high tech/they'd surely ID that crusty old Kraut/and shout/"Hey Gunter keep off the Grass!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gunter Grass, English translation of "What Must Be Said


Again the same old story...anyone who dares to even allude to the truth about Israel's (and its enabler the US government)crimes, hypocrisy, lies and coverups is pilloried as an antisemite...this line of attack is getting more shrill and desperate as people are increasingly seeing through this kind of crude propaganda.

Gunter Grass poem English translation What must be said
Stories and News No. 428

What must be said

Why I am silent, silent for too much time,
how much is clear and we made it
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes.

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb.

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years – even if secretly covered -
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims - even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” -
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said.

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to.

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because - as Germans and with
enough faults on the back -
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision.

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too.

Translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Land Day 2012 in Times Square

On March 30, 1976 six Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army as they peacefully protested against the confiscation of Palestinian owned land in the Galilee. Land Day commemorates this struggle against Israeli theft of property and ethnic cleansing policies that are still continuing both inside and outside the Green Line.