Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Blog that Predicted the Victory of Netanyahu

Likud’s Triumph Emphasises the Irrelevance of Labour Zionism 


When all the pundits predicted that Netanyahu and the Right would be defeated in the Israeli General Election, this blog stood alone in predicting that  the Zionist Right would triumph once again. 

Jews voting for the Joint Jewish-Arab List

How could one disagree?
 http://www.azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-right-far-right-will-almost.html  In a blog post and article for Weekly Worker of 5th March 'Polarisation Will Continue to Grow' I wrote:

Zionism racist?  Perish the thought
The Israeli Labour Party, running with Tsipi Livni’s Hatnuah, has high hopes of forming the next government. It is likely to be disappointed.  http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1048/polarisation-continues-to-grow/

Netanhayu addresses Congress
I did not, and do not, possess a crystal ball.  Nor was it, as I posted to Antony Lerman's blog http://antonylerman.com/2015/03/18/israels-elections-more-bad-news-for-palestinians-and-europes-jews/#comment-8644 a hunch or guess.  It is based on an analysis that Zionism has no need today of the appearance of a 'socialist' cover.  A nakedly free market society adapts ideologically and in Israel's case it jettisons the old rhetoric of collectivity.  State capitalism as represented by Histadrut, which until the late 1980's and early 1990's was the second largest employer in Israel after the state itself, has given way to massive privatisation.  The welfare state has been progressively dismantled.  

Herzog - the Zionist Union (Labour) leader - Gaza should have been hit harder and earlier
The Israeli Labour Party, which pioneered the confiscation of Arab land, the military rule over the Arabs and the creation of an apartheid state, is now redundant, a left-over from the past.  In its wake there is a hysterical nationalist xenophobia that binds the settler majority and treats the Arab minority as a fifth column.  Arabs play the same role as the Jews did in Nazi mythology.  They are the traitors within, waiting to perform the 'stab in the back'.

This is my post:

Tony Greenstein

Antony says that he guessed that Netanyahu would win the election.  Perhaps he did but in an article for the Weekly Worker I was one of the few who put their cards on the table with an article The Right & Far Right Will Almost Certainly Win the Israeli Elections http://www.azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-right-far-right-will-almost.html (unexpurgated).

Israel's fascist foreign minister Lieberman - taking an axe to Israel's Arabs.  Leader of the Zionist ISIS
But it's not a question of who was right but why I predicted that the Right would win.  It was not a question of guessing.  Labour Zionism, to which Antony had a childhood attachment and still has a fondness for, is a busted flush.  It has served its political purpose.  It laid the basis for Begin's victory in 1977 and as Ze'ev Sternhell wrote, it is difficult to identify one social grouping that enthusiastically supports it.  

Netanyahu celebrates
I agree with Ali Abunimah when he says that Netanyahu's victory is the best outcome.  It means that the West has to confront its support for the war criminals in Tel Aviv.  The election of Livni and Herzog would have clouded that, raised hopes but have done nothing for those who need it most - the Palestinians.  Consider:

Livni is also the war criminal behind the attack on Gaza in 2008/9.  Some 1400 civilians were killed.  In the peace talks (see the Palestinian Papers, Clayton Swisher) she repeatedly proposes swapping Arab towns and areas of Israel for the settlements.  She is as much a devotee of a Jewish state as Netanyahu.

What of Herzog?  Is he just a traditional social democrat?   Hardly.  He campaigned on social issues but kept well clear of the settlements which he has vowed to maintain.  His party voted to support the banning of Haneen Zoabi.   He criticised Netanyahu in a video for going  soft on Hamas and not hitting Gaza hard enough or early enough.  2,200 dead in Operation Protective Edge was not good enough for him.  http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/leader-attacks-netanyahu

I know Antony does not like the comparisons but when you see Israeli mobs chanting 'death to the Arabs' or a demonstration of hundreds of Israelis outside a wedding reception of an Arab male and a Jewess you are reminded of Europe in the 1930's and Germany in particular.  Zionism is playing itself out in Lieberman's remarks about taking an axe and beheading Israeli Arabs.  Ayelet Shaked speaks for many when talking of exterminating Palestinian women so that they won't give birth to 'little Palestinian snakes'.    All this accompanised by frightening military power.

We should be grateful that Netanyahu's victory has at least provided clarity.

Southampton University Conference on Israel and International Law: The Zionist's Try to Ban it

The Zionist Lobby is a Threat to Freedom of Speech

Remember all the hypocritical cant about freedom of speech in the wake of the murder of journalists at Charlie Hebdo?  About how terrorism would not be allowed to silence the power of the pen?  Forget it.  Under the guise of 'anti-terrorism' the Zionist lobby is up to its old tricks, with support from the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.
Eric Pickles - Tory Minister who has added his (considerable) weight to the campaign to ban the Conference
A group of academics, primarily based at Southampton University, have organised a Conference “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism,” scheduled for 17-19 April.  You might wonder what could be more innocuous but of course international law isn't something that Israel is particularly keen on.
Prof. Oren ben-Dor, Southampton University Law Lecturer and organiser of conference

Electronic Intifada reports on how academics are pushing back against an effort by Israel lobby groups and UK government officials to cancel or alter a law school conference related to Palestine.
Southampton University
Almost 300 professors at universities in the UK and other countries have signed a statement expressing “principled and full support for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate.”


The University of Southampton has come under intense pressure in respect of the conference.  The conference will “engage controversial questions concerning the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature, including ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians and associated injustices,” the organizers wrote in a statement to The Electronic Intifada.
Olive grove that the settlers love to burn
The organizers are University of Southampton law professor Oren Ben-Dor; George Bisharat, professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law; Juman Asmail, a law graduate from Southampton and Southampton engineering professor Suleiman Sharkh.

The conference “will examine how international law could be deployed, expanded, even re-imagined, in order to achieve regional peace and reconciliation based on justice,” the organizers add.

The provisional program includes presentations from a range of well-known academics and experts including University of California at Los Angeles historian Gabi Piterberg; Nur Musalha, a historian who has written extensively about Zionist plans to expel Palestinians; University of Exeter historian Ilan Pappe and Princeton University emeritus professor and former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, among others.

Smear campaign

Pro-Israel media and lobby groups have been mounting an ever more shrill campaign using Islamophobic themes and casting aspersions of anti-Semitism to smear organizers and speakers.
Some have called for the conference to be banned outright, while others are urging the university to require pro-Israel speakers, on the grounds that the conference is “one sided.”

This is an interesting ground of objection.  Presumably conferences on the Holocaust or Apartheid in South Africa should have defenders of the Holocaust and Apartheid given equal weight!

The Jerusalem Post reports that late last year, “leaders of the Jewish community, including representatives of the Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies and the Union of Jewish 
Students” sent a letter to the university to cancel the conference.'

The Post says it has “exclusively” seen “extracts” of the letter.

A Southampton spokesperson emailed The Electronic Intifada that the university “received a number of representations concerning this conference, both those expressing concerns and those in support,” but would not provide details of the organizations that had approached it.

The Electronic Intifada has filed a Freedom of Information request with the university in an effort to bring more light on the Israel lobby’s campaign against academic freedom.

Zionist Federation petition

The UK’s Zionist Federation launched a petition calling on the university to ban the conference, a demand to which several members of parliament have added their voices.

The mass circulation tabloid The Daily Express published an op-ed associating the conference with support for the notorious Islamic State militant “Jihadi John” and demanding that the government cut funding to Southampton.

The Jewish Chronicle trumpeted criticism by a former Conservative government minister and quoted Southampton mathematics professor Tim Sluckin claiming that the purpose of the conference is to “delegitimize Israel.”

Sluckin, who is also secretary of the Southampton Hebrew Congregation, said the conference “makes me feel uncomfortable as a Jew.”

Government collusion

Perhaps the most worrying aspect for supporters of free speech is the apparent collusion of UK government officials in the attempt to smear and suppress the conference.

Last week, Conservative cabinet minister Eric Pickles warned the University of Southampton against “allowing a one-sided diatribe.” According to Jewish News, this made Pickles, who is Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, “the most senior politician yet to intervene” over the conference.

Last December, Pickles’ department issued a report promising “government action on addressing anti-Semitism.” But as The Electronic Intifada reported, the government document “conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of the State of Israel” and misrepresents the Palestinian call for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

Pickles has consistently conflated “anti-Semitism” with solidarity for Palestinians. He has for instance condemned the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for “flying a Palestinian flag.” London municipalities have a long tradition of international solidarity, especially during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

The Jerusalem Post also revealed that in February, UK ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould met with UK university heads to discuss the limits of “freedom of speech” relating to Israel.

According to the Post, the University of Southampton’s refusal to cave in over the conference was a topic of discussion in the meeting.

Ben White writes for Middle East Monitor that the university’s “stubborn commitment to freedom of speech has clearly angered Britain’s Israel lobby, but the bigger question here is why a UK ambassador was involved in the first place.”

The UK Foreign Office confirmed to White that the meeting had taken place but as White notes, the government spokesperson “did not elaborate on whether lobbying British universities” on behalf of Israel “was part of the ambassador’s remit.”

“Legal obligations”

The organizers have rejected accusations that the conference is “one sided.”

“Diligent efforts, including face-to-face meetings with leading intellectuals in Israel, were made to ensure the widest range of opinions possible,” the organizers wrote in their statement.

“Those who chose to abstain, however, cannot derail the legitimate, if challenging, academic discussion the conference will inspire.”

The organizers also say that are “deeply grateful for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression, which should set an example for universities worldwide.”

But the university has been more circumspect. Its spokesperson assured The Electronic Intifada that it “is legally obliged under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the university, as well as for visiting speakers.”

“We must ensure that academic staff have the freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions.”

University appeasing critics?

But in what looks like an attempt to appease critics, the spokesperson adds that “For the avoidance of doubt, the University of Southampton is not expressing an opinion or taking any particular standpoint in relation to the conference, ‘International Law and the State of Israel,’ but is fulfilling its legal obligations.”

Universities often endorse conferences and take strong stances in favor of various kinds of research on human rights, economic, medical or environmental issues.

For instance, University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam enthuses about a new research collaboration between his institution and the insurance company Lloyds Register.

But Southampton’s statement about the Israel conference follows an emerging pattern among universities that have come under attack for research or advocacy in relation to Palestinian rights: administrators assert their minimum obligations on free speech grounds while distancing themselves from the content, as if believing that Israel should be held accountable under international law were something odious and offensive.


Pressure is being exerted on the University of Southampton to cancel or ‘reconstruct’ a conference on Israel and international law scheduled for 17-19 April. Groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and UK Zionist Federation have urged the university to cancel the event, and there has also been an intervention from Communities minister and Conservative MP Eric Pickles.

To add your name to the below statement please email freespeechsouthampton@gmail.com

The statement and signatory list will appear here (and will be updated with names accordingly): h
ttp://freespeechsouthampton.blogspot.co.uk

Statement in support of the University of Southampton

We, the undersigned academics, express principled and full support for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate.

We commend the University of Southampton administration, including Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam, for its resolute defence of academic freedom.

It is standing principle and recognised practice that academic conference organisers have the right to choose those speakers and topics they feel would best address the purposes of the conference, without these being dictated to them by outside parties.To the best of our knowledge, the conference invitations in this case are based on qualification to speak on the topic rather than on political positions held.

We affirm, as academics from various disciplines and institutions of higher education, that the themes of the conference, such as the relationship of international law to the historic and ongoing political violence in Palestine/Israel, and critical reflections on nationality and self-determination, are entirely legitimate subjects for debate and inquiry.

We are very concerned that partisan attempts are being made to silence dissenting analyses of the topic in question. For external pressure and interference, especially from political lobby groups and a government minister, to censor lawful academic discussion would set a worrying precedent.

We tru
st that the programme of ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’ will go ahead as planned, to the credit of the University of Southampton and all those involved.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Right & Far Right Will Almost Certainly Win the Israeli Elections

The Last Fling of Left Zionism



Herzog and Netanyahu - Spot the Difference

Moshe Kalon of Kulanu -  A Likud offshoot

The late Shulamit Aloni who founded Meretz and drifted away from Zionism
The last time that the Israeli Labour Party (flying under the Zionist Union flag today in alliance with Tsipi Livni's Hatnuah) won an Israeli General Election it was in 1992 under Yitzhak Rabin.  The only comparison with today is that Israel, under a far-right Zionist administration (then led by Yitzhak Shamir who had proposed a pact with Nazi Germany as one of the leaders of Lehi) had come into conflict with the US Administration.  George Bush Snr. had then frozen $11 billion in export credit guarantees.
Haneen Zoabi of Balad/Joint List attacked
Israeli woman and Aida Touma-Suliman joint list
Today Netanyahu's administration, which is further to the right than Shamir's, has aligned himself with a powerful section of the US political establishment against Obama.
The Ogre
Israel's fascist foreign minister - Avigdor Lieberman
The arithmetic however is completely different.  Rabin gained 44 seats and Meretz, the left-Zionist civil rights party (which included Shulamit Aloni, who was barely a Zionist) gained 12 seats.  Today the Zionist Union will gain about 24 seats and Meretz 5 seats at most.  In 1992 Labour and Meretz nearly had an overall majority and with the Arab parties and Hadash couldn't be overthrown.  Today they will be at the mercy of all sorts of 'centrist' Zionist parties if they try to form an administration.
Yair Lapid - of the opportunistic 'centre' Yesh Atid
Below is the unexpurgated version of an article I wrote for the Weekly Worker 1048 Polarisation continues to grow
Israeli General Election 17th March 2015

Polarisation but no change

Israel is due to go the polls on 17th March 2015.  The above table is based on the latest 3 opinion polls and they differ only slightly.  The Israeli Labour Party, running with Tsipi Livni’s Hatnuah, has high hopes of forming the next government.  It is likely to be disappointed.
The Joint List Press Conference
Naftali Bennett - leader of the racist far-right settler's party Jewish Home (Habayit HaYehuda)
The previous General Election was held in 2013.  Netanyahu dissolved the Knesset two years early as a result of the refusal of Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Tsipi Livni of Hatnuah to agree to proposals to entrench, as a basic (constitutional) law, the definition of Israel as a Jewish state.  Accompanying Arabic would have been removed as the second official language in Israel and there would have been a failure to even pay lip-service to the equality of all Israeli citizens, regardless of national/religious affiliation, in law.
Zahava Galon - leader of Meretz/Mapam
There have, of course, never been any disagreements within the Zionist parties about Israel being a Jewish state.  What the disagreement focused on is the wisdom of putting this into law and thus making it clear that Israeli Palestinians are the equivalent of gastarbeiters (guests), tolerated strangers at best, within this state.
Zionist Union leaders Herzog and Livni
The context for this has been a raft of legislation specifically targeting Israel’s Palestinian minority.  Teachers are banned from teaching about the Nakbah, the expulsion of Palestinians in 1947-8.  Discrimination against Palestinians in terms of the right to lease ‘national land’ has been reinstated after the decision of the High Court in Kadan in 2000.
Aryeh Deri of the religious sephardic Shas party
To emphasise their Zionist credentials, the Israeli Labour Party has stood as the Zionist Union for the purpose of the elections.  It wishes to make it clear that it is not ‘soft’ when it comes to the Arabs. 
The Zionist ‘left’ has always hidden behind the formulation of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state, whereas the Right has always been clear.  In the words of Moshe Feiglin, a right-wing libertarian Likud MK ‘Not one of the dreamers and pioneers… who returned to our holy Land after 2000 years of exile did so in order to establish another democratic state. … Those who came to Israel wanted a Jewish State.’  Or as the Jewish Nazi MK, Rabbi Meir Kahane put it, you can have a Jewish state or a democratic state but you cannot have both.  A democratic society could vote that the state was no longer Jewish, something no Zionist could accept.
Mohammed Barakeh and Dov Khenin of Hadash/Communist Party
As is normal in Israeli elections, parties suddenly spring up for no other reason than there is an election.  The two new parties are Kulanu, a ‘centrist’ party (in Israeli terms) and hard-line on security and Yachad, formed by the former leader of the Ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Shas Party, Eli Yishai, which is on the Zionist Right.  This rapid formation and disappearance of political parties, usually based around a single individual, is a by-product of Israeli settler-colonialism  and its distorted class politics.
The racist Tsipi Livni - co-leader of Zionist Union
If the Israeli Labour Party were even the equivalent of a European social-democratic party and Israel was a normal bourgeois-democracy, it would be romping home.  Whilst the cost of housing continues to soar (provoking the Tent protests 3 years ago) and poverty and low wages affect even the Jewish sector of the population, billions of shekels are spent on the settlements.  Coupled with this there are now revelations that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, spent enormous amounts of public money on take-aways, cleaners and they even transferred garden furniture from the Prime Ministerial residence to their own private home in Caesaria.  Netanyahu is a good example of the marriage of racism and corruption yet Israeli Labour cannot land a blow.
Meretz's Issawi Frei - the sole Arab MK for a Zionist party
The other major feature of this election has been the effect of the decision to raise the threshold level which a party needs to gain representation.  Previously in Israeli elections, you needed to gain 2% of the vote but the fascist leader of Yisrael Beteinu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, raised it to 3.25% specifically to exclude the Arab/Palestinian parties.  However this has backfired as it forced them to form a joint list of the United Arab List and Tal, the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement, the nationalist Balad party and the Arab Movement for Change - Hadash, the Communist Party.  The number of seats for Arab parties is expected to increase from 11 to 13.
Ayman Odeh of Hadash/Joint List
It is, however hard to see the Israeli Labour Party forming the next government since it is a cardinal rule of Zionist politics that you do not form a coalition with Arab parties, or even rest on their support to form a government coalition.  Assuming the Zionist Union gain 23 seats and Yesh Atid, the rightward looking ‘centrist’ party of Yair Lapid gains 12 seats and Meretz and Kulanu gain 14 seats that is still a total of 49  seats.  It is normal for the ILP to include an Orthodox Jewish  Party in a government coalition and Shas would take such a coalition to 57 seats on current forecasts.  But if Shas joined the coalition then a peace settlement would be all but ruled out.
Benny Begin - Netanyahu's retread
Likud (22) plus Yisrael Beteinu (6) Jewish Home (12) and Yachad (4) total 44 seats but the Ultra-Orthodox parties have 14 seats between them making a total of 58 seats.  Kulanu, which might form a coalition with Israeli Labour has a hard-line security policy.  Another Likud coalition seems the likeliest outcome.
Herzog
If Likud and the Zionist Right do lose a number of seats and the Zionist Centre gain a few, then the second most likely outcome is a repeat of the 2009 general election when Israeli Labour went into a coalition with Likud and virtually destroyed itself.  There is, after all, no difference of principle between Likud and Labour.  Isaac Hertzog, the new Labour leader, made that clear when Israeli Labour representatives on the Central Elections Committee voted along with Likud and the Zionist Right to ban Haneen Zoabi of Balad from standing in the election (Ms Zoabi successfully challenged this in the Supreme Court).  It probably didn’t occur to the ILP that existing racist members of the Knesset, such as Ayelet Shaked, who advocated the murder of all Palestinian  mothers, because they will only give birth to Palestinian ‘terrorists’ or ‘snakes’ in her description, might be a more suitable candidate to bar.  Racism and Israeli Labour have always gone hand in hand and that is why, whatever the mathematical outcome, Israel’s General Elections heralds no change.
Haneen Zoabi - the Arab MK the Zionists love to hate - a secular Palestinian woman is too much for the Zionists
The last time the Israeli Labour Party won a convincing majority was in 1992.  Yitzhak Rabin’s victory was primarily on account of the freezing by George Bush of export credits by the United States.  Despite recent differences, there is no sign that Obama is thinking of similar moves.

Tony Greenstein 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Argentina: The Mystery Surrounding the death of Alberto Nisman's

Was Nisman's Case Against Iran Junk?

In 1994 a bomb exploded at the Jewish community centre of Amia, killing 85 people.  Immediately the finger was pointed at Iran, not least by Israel.  Whatever the truth of this accusation, we should bear in mind that when Argentinia’s neo-Nazi Junta (1976-83) tortured and murdered up to 3,000 Jewish people, Israel said not a word.  It was busy conducting a lucrative arms trade with the Generals.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister today, Hector Timerman, is the son of Jacobo Timerman, the Jewish & left-Zionist editor of La Opinion, a liberal newspaper.  He was imprisoned and savagely tortured by the Junta.  Because of his international reputation the Junta was forced to release him and he went to Israel as a hero – at least before he wrote ‘The Longest War’ a devastating criticism of Israel’s 1982 war in Lebanon.  Timerman returned  home and died in Argentina.

Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian special prosecutor in the bombing of the Jewish community centre either committed suicide or was murdered on 18th January in his flat.  The Opposition has claimed that the Argentinian President, Cristina Kirchner played a part in Nisman’s alleged murder.  It is widely believed that Nisman was killed because he had got near the truth of Iranian involvement in the bombing.

The article below suggests otherwise.

Tony Greenstein

Why Alberto Nisman Is No Hero for Argentina — or the Jews


Alberto Nisman
It was widely believed special prosecutor Alberto Nisman died because he was about to expose a criminal pact between Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and the Iranian government to cover up the latter’s responsibility in the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’s Jewish community center. It now appears when the U.S. and Israeli governments rejected an agreement between Argentina and Iran that might have lead to solving the case, Nisman set about sabotaging it.
Graciela Mochkofsky

Jewish Daily Forward March 13, 2015
  
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. A federal judge says Alberto Nisman’s charges against President Kirchner ‘lack all validity’.  United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
It is widely believed, particularly outside Argentina, that special prosecutor Alberto Nisman died because he was about to expose a criminal pact between President Cristina Kirchner and the Iranian government to cover up the latter’s responsibility in the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’s Jewish community center. According to this riveting version of events, powerful forces — most likely the government he was accusing, perhaps Iran — murdered Nisman to keep him silent.

If you are one of the many people watching that movie, I have to warn you: Judge Daniel Rafecas’s flat-out dismissal of Nisman’s accusation, released February 26, is going to be quite a spoiler.
Aftermath of bombing
I don’t know of anyone in Argentina who considered Nisman a hero before he was found dead in his apartment on January 18. He was part of a species born and bred in my country, a specimen of the politicized federal justice system — typically, someone who stretches the law, lives beyond his means and always stands close to power. Nisman was also known among his colleagues for his close ties to Argentina’s intelligence services. The services have long been involved in political espionage, financing of political campaigns, bribing of judges and lawmakers, and every dirty operation you can imagine.
Nisman
In 1997, when he first became involved in the case — known in Argentina by the JCC’s acronym, AMIA — Nisman was a young and ambitious prosecutor making a career in the newly inaugurated system of open trials.

His task was to make presentable the fabrication concocted by Judge Juan José Galeano. With forged evidence, Galeano and other authorities had accused a ring of corrupt police officers of being the “local connection” in the bombing.

The open trial began in 2001 and ended in disaster in 2004. The forgery was so apparent that it didn’t survive scrutiny. The policemen were exonerated. The judge, the prosecutors, the head of the intelligence service, a high-ranking police officer, former president Carlos Menem and the leader of the main political Jewish organization were eventually indicted for the cover-up (and are going to trial in a few months). Nisman somehow survived, and President Néstor Kirchner (Cristina Kirchner’s now late husband, who took office in 2007) appointed him as special prosecutor for the AMIA case. He had to rebuild it from scratch. In 2006, based mostly on foreign intelligence reports, Nisman accused the Iranians of sponsoring the attack, allegedly carried out by Hezbollah militants.
The Bombing
In the following years, the Kirchners firmly supported these allegations, accusing Iran in international forums. But in 2013, Cristina Kirchner and her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, a prominent Argentine Jew and the son of Jacobo Timerman, a publisher revered by some as a human rights figure in the 1970s, signed a surprising memorandum of understanding with Iran.

The memorandum was intended to create an international commission of jurists to analyze the evidence provided by both countries on the AMIA case and to issue a nonbinding recommendation. Interpol had released international arrest warrants against five Iranian suspects, who remained in Iran. The main point for Argentina was that Iran would allow these suspects to be interrogated by Nisman and the new judge of the case, Rodolfo Canicoba Corral. This was considered a solution to the impasse the case had faced, because Argentine law requires that a suspect be interrogated before he can be indicted. Once the suspect is interrogated, even if he claims innocence, the judge has the power to indict and to send the case to trial. The 20th anniversary of the bombing was approaching on July 18, 2014, and the government wanted to show progress by that date.

When the agreement became public, Nisman broke ranks and repudiated it. By then he had found in the state department of the United States a more powerful ally. According to diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks in 2010, Nisman had sought the approval of America’s embassy in Buenos Aires before making any move in the case. When the Israeli and the American governments rejected the memorandum between Argentina and Iran, Nisman did, too.

Why not wait until recess was over? Because, according to numerous testimonies, he feared the government was going to remove him from his post, as part of a larger judicial reform. (Several of those reforms were introduced December 31, and that same day, Nisman changed his return ticket from Spain.)
The first judge who received Nisman’s accusation rejected it as baseless. The Jewish leadership refused to stand by him in parliament (they started supporting him post-mortem). The victim’s relatives’ associations rejected not only the accusation, but also Nisman himself: They had been asking for his removal from the case all along.

Then, on January 18, Nisman was found dead, shot in the head with a .22-caliber bullet inside the bathroom of his locked 13th-floor apartment in the posh Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
With the country in shock — half the public thinking it was murder and 77% believing that the truth about his death would never be known, according to a national poll — Nisman’s 289-page accusation was made available online. His allegations of a cover-up, it turned out, were based on two weak journalistic reports and hundreds of hours of wiretapped phone conversations between peripheral political operators aligned with the government, a criminal who tried to pass as a secret agent and the leader of the Islamic community in Buenos Aires who is also an agent of Iranian interests in Argentina.

Several of the country’s most prominent jurists agreed that there was no evidence to prove that a crime of any kind had been committed. But with demonstrators in the streets paying homage to Nisman, federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita picked up the case and filed the accusation again.

On February 26, Rafecas demolished it.

His 63-page dismissal is devastating: Not only was there “not even circumstantial evidence” of the alleged cover-up or obstruction of justice in Nisman’s last document, the judge wrote, but the evidence gathered by Nisman himself openly contradicted his accusations. In essence, the judge offered three points. First, since the memorandum of understanding was never actually implemented — the Iranian Parliament had not approved it, and an Argentine court ruled it unconstitutional — the alleged crime never took place.

Second, Nisman had accused Timerman of trying to cancel Interpol’s international arrest warrants against the Iranian suspects. Rafecas proved with testimonies and documents from Interpol and the Argentine Foreign Ministry that the opposite is true: Timerman was adamant that the warrants, known as “red notices,” stayed in place before and after the agreement with Iran. They still are in place. “There is not a single piece of evidence, a single trace, that supports the prosecutor’s hypothesis…. that Héctor Timerman had ever planned or prepared an attempt of a cover-up,” Rafecas wrote. “If anything becomes apparent in the wiretapped conversations (among the Iranian agents and their Argentine counterparts), it is that [(Timerman)] was the enemy to be vanquished.”

Third, the wiretapped conversations, involving people who are not public officers, could have been, at best, hints of a plan that was also never put into action — that is, the alleged trade-off of impunity for oil. Rafecas showed that there’s no trace of any real link to the Argentine government, only a lot of boasting among small-time characters.

Nisman’s criminal hypothesis, the judge concluded, “lacks all validity.”

And it gets worse. Rafecas revealed that Nisman wrote contradictory submissions on the same month of his death: on one side, his explosive accusation; on the other, two documents, both with his signature and dated January 2015, in which he praised the government’s efforts to bring the Iranian suspects to justice, acknowledging that the only aim of Kirchner was to move forward with the investigation. The only thing he complained about was that, in its negotiations with Iran, the Argentine government was accepting some of Iran’s conditions instead of forcing the country to surrender the suspects. Nowhere in these two documents, which his clerks handed to Rafecas after Nisman’s death, did the prosecutor accuse the government of a cover-up.

Where does this all leave the bombing investigation? Does this mean that the Iranians are guilty or not guilty of planning or carrying out the attack? And why?

“We don’t know anything, anything, anything at all” about these questions, summed up Diana Malamud, leader of Memoria Activa, one of three organizations of AMIA’s victims’ relatives. In almost 21 years since the bombing, there have been so many hypothesis and fabrications, she added, that “if someone tells me today there was no bombing, I would consider it.”

[Graciela Mochkofsky is an Argentine journalist who is the author of an acclaimed biography of Jacobo Timerman. She is currently a Prins Foundation fellow at the Center for Jewish History, in New York.]

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Merkel’s Conservatives Are Better Politically on Palestine than Germany’s Green Party – Die Grunen

Green Politics and Utopian Capitalism - International Solidarity is the First Casualty

Poster portraying Netanyahu as a child murderer
To those who believe that you can judge Britain’s Green Party by what its conference passes when it has no power, the example of Germany’s Greens is a powerful example.
Beck and some dimwit
Volker-Beck, a Die Grunen MP who is described as the head of the German-Israel Parliamentary Group, attacked the Merkel administration because it would not define BDS as automatically anti-Semitic. 
The Bourgeois Beck
The cerebrally challenged Volker has determined that BDS is anti-Semitic because it ‘aims essentially against Jewish Israelis’.  In fact it is aimed ‘essentially’ at the Israeli economy, cultural, academic and similar institutions.  The fact that those affected are primarily Israeli Jews is as relevant as the fact that BDS against Apartheid South Africa mainly affected White people – it wasn’t therefore anti-White.  Or in a case nearer home the Jewish anti-Nazi  Boycott of the 1930’s affected mainly Germans, including bigots like Beck, but it wasn’t directed at them because they were German.
Merkel and Netanyahu
In a smaller way it is akin to when  Brighton PSC proposed, via an expelled Green Councillor Ben Duncan, a motion calling for Brighton to twin with a Palestinian city.  The Green Administration in Brighton was hostile and they hid behind a ruling from the Chief Executive that it should not be discussed.

Tony Greenstein

Germany says BDS is not anti-Semitic+

German lawmaker outraged: 'BDS aims essentially against Jewish Israelis and is therefore anti-Semitic'

Germany has rejected a definition of anti-Semitism that labels the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) as anti-Semitic, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

Responding to a legislative questionnaire released Thursday by leading Green Party MP Volker Beck, the Merkel administration wrote that “there does not exist a general academic definition” of anti-Semitism.

Beck, who heads the German- Israel parliamentary group in the Bundestag, sharply criticized the Merkel administration: “Here the federal government has cowered,” he said. “There is no doubt of the anti-Semitic motivation within the spectrum of the BDS campaign. BDS aims essentially against Jewish Israelis and is therefore anti-Semitic. Whoever aggressively boycotts Israeli goods and people, should also be viewed as anti-Semitic by the federal government.”

The German government said it defined anti-Semitism, as “political, social, racist and religious” hostility toward Jews.