26 August 2012

The Israeli Military's Child Abuse

Ex-soldiers admit to appalling violence against Palestinian children

A young Palestinian protester runs away from Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kafr Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Ramallah (AFP Photo / Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israeli military accused of mistreating children

Donald MacIntyre, Hebron, Sunday 26 August 2012
Hafez Rajabi
Hafez Rajabi was marked for life by his encounter with the men of the Israeli army's Kfir Brigade five years ago this week. Sitting beneath the photograph of his late father, the slightly built 21-year-old in jeans and trainers points to the scar above his right eye where he was hit with the magazine of a soldier's assault rifle after the patrol came for him at his grandmother's house before 6am on 28 August 2007.
13-year-old Walid Abu Obeida recounted his time in an Israeli prison
Linda Forsell

He lifts his black Boss T-shirt to show another scar running some three inches down his back from the left shoulder when he says he was violently pushed – twice – against a sharp point of the cast-iron balustrade beside the steps leading up to the front door. And all that before he says he was dragged 300m to another house by a unit commander who threatened to kill him if he did not confess to throwing stones at troops, had started to beat him again, and at one point held a gun to his head. "He was so angry," says Hafez. "I was certain that he was going to kill me."

This is just one young man's story, of course. Except that – remarkably – it is corroborated by one of the soldiers who came looking for him that morning. One of 50 testimonies on the military's treatment of children – published today by the veterans' organisation Breaking the Silence – describes the same episode, if anything more luridly than Hafez does. "We had a commander, never mind his name, who was a bit on the edge," the soldier, a first sergeant, testifies. "He beat the boy to a pulp, really knocked him around. He said: 'Just wait, now we're taking you.' Showed him all kinds of potholes on the way, asked him: 'Want to die? Want to die right here?' and the kid goes: 'No, no...' He was taken into a building under construction. The commander took a stick, broke it on him, boom boom. That commander had no mercy. Anyway the kid could no longer stand on his feet and was already crying. He couldn't take it any more. He cried. The commander shouted: 'Stand up!' Tried to make him stand, but from so much beating he just couldn't. The commander goes: 'Don't put on a show,' and kicks him some more."
Brutalised: Israeli soldiers accuse a Palestinian boy of throwing stones
Two months ago, a report from a team of British lawyers, headed by Sir Stephen Sedley and funded by the UK Foreign Office, accused Israel of serial breaches of international law in its military's handling of children in custody. The report focused on the interrogation and formal detention of children brought before military courts – mainly for allegedly throwing stones.

For the past eight years, Breaking the Silence has been taking testimonies from former soldiers who witnessed or participated in human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Most of these accounts deal with "rough justice" administered to minors by soldiers on the ground, often without specific authorisation and without recourse to the military courts. Reading them, however, it's hard not to recall the Sedley report's shocked reference to the "belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a 'potential terrorist'".
The soldier puts it differently: "We were sort of indifferent. It becomes a kind of habit. Patrols with beatings happened on a daily basis. We were really going at it. It was enough for you to give us a look that we didn't like, straight in the eye, and you'd be hit on the spot. We got to such a state and were so sick of being there."

Some time ago, after he had testified to Breaking the Silence, we had interviewed this soldier. As he sat nervously one morning in a quiet Israeli beauty spot, an incongruous location he had chosen to ensure no one knew he was talking, he went through his recollections about the incident – and several others – once again. His account does not match the Palestinian's in every detail. (Hafez remembers a gun being pressed to his temple, for example, while the soldier recalls that the commander "actually stuck the gun barrel in the kid's mouth. Literally".)

But in every salient respect, the two accounts match. Both agree that Hafez, on the run after hearing that he was wanted, had slipped into his grandmother's house before dawn. Hafez showed us the room in his grandmother's house, the last on the left in the corridor leading to her room, where he had been hiding when the soldiers arrived. Sure enough, the soldier says: "We entered, began to trash the place. We found the boy behind the last door on the left. He was totally scared."

Both Hafez – who has never read or heard the soldier's account – and the soldier recall the commander forcing him at one point during his ordeal to throw a stone at them, and that the boy did so as feebly as possible. Then, in the soldier's words "the commander said: 'Of course you throw stones at a soldier.' Boom, banged him up even more".

Perhaps luckily for Hafez, the second, still uncompleted, house is within sight of that of his aunt, Fathia Rajabi, 57, who told us how she had gone there after seeing the soldiers dragging a young man behind a wall, unaware that he was her nephew. "I was crying, 'God forbids to beat him.' He recognised my voice and yelled: 'My aunt, my aunt.' I tried to enter but the two soldiers pointed their guns at me and yelled rouh min houn, Arabic for 'go away'. I began slapping my face and shouting at passers-by to come and help. Ten minutes later the soldiers left. I and my mother, my brother and neighbours went to the room. He was bleeding from his nose and head, and his back."

The soldier, who like his comrades mistook Ms Rajabi for the boy's mother, recalls: "The commander said to [her]: 'Keep away!' Came close, cocked his gun. She got scared. [He shouted:] 'Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don't annoy me. I'll kill him. I have no mercy.' He was really on the edge. Obviously [the boy] had been beaten up. Anyway, he told them: 'Get the hell out of here!' and all hell broke loose. His nose was bleeding. He had really been beaten to a pulp."

Finally, Hafez's brother Mousa, 23, a stone cutter who joined his aunt at the second house, recalls a second army jeep arriving and one soldier taking Hafez's pulse, giving Mousa a bottle of water which he then poured over Hafez's face and speaking to the commander in Hebrew.

"I understood he was protesting," says Mousa. This was almost certainly the 'sensitive' medic whom the soldier describes as having "caught the commander and said: 'Don't touch him any more. That's it.'" The commander goes: 'What's with you, gone leftie?' And he said: 'No, I don't want to see such things being done. All you're doing to this family is making them produce another suicide bomber. If I were a father and saw you doing this to my kid, I'd seek revenge that very moment.'"

In fact Hafez, did not turn into a "suicide bomber". He has never even been in prison. Instead, the outcome has been more prosaic. He no longer has nightmares about his experience as he did in the first two months. But as a former mechanic he is currently unemployed partly because there are few jobs outside construction sites and the Hebron quarries, where he says his injuries still prevent him from carrying heavy loads, and partly because he often does "not feel I want to work again". And he has not – so far – received any compensation, including the more than £1,100 he and Mousa had to spend on his medical treatment in the two years after he was taken.

The report by Sir Stephen Sedley's team remarks that "as the United Kingdom has itself learned by recent experience in Iraq, the risk of abuse is inherent in any system of justice which depends on military force". Moreover, Britain, unlike Israel, has no organisation like Breaking the Silence that can document, from the inside, the abuse of victims like Hafez Rajabi who never even make it to court.

But as the Sedley report also says, after drawing attention to the argument that every Palestinian is a "potential terrorist": "Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice, and one which only Israel, as the occupying power in the West Bank, can reverse."

Breaking the silence: soldiers' testimonies

Scarred: Hafez Rajabi, 21, was beaten in 2007 by soldiers

First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Salfit 2009

"We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50. When these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimise hitting them. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn't rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15, hadn't done a thing.

"In general people at the school were sitting for hours in the sun. They could get water once in a while, but let's say someone asked for water five times, a soldier could come to him and slap him just like that. I saw many soldiers using their knees to hit them, just out of boredom. Because you're standing around for 10 hours doing nothing, you're bored, so you hit them. I know that at the bathroom, there was this 'demons' dance' as it was called. Anyone who brought a Palestinian there – it was catastrophic. Not bleeding beatings – they stayed dry – but still beatings."

First Sergeant, Combat Engineering Corps

Ramallah 2006-07

"There was this incident where a 'straw widow' was put up following a riot at Qalandiya on a Friday, in an abandoned house near the square. Soldiers got out with army clubs and beat people to a pulp. Finally the children who remained on the ground were arrested. The order was to run, make people fall to the ground. There was a 10- to 12-man team, four soldiers lighting up the area. People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten – that was the rule.

"We were told not to use it on people's heads. I don't remember where we were told to hit, but as soon as a person on the ground is beaten with such a club, it's difficult to be particular."
First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade

Hebron 2006-07

"We'd often provoke riots there. We'd be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we'd trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we'd want a riot? We'd go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we'd get a riot.

"Every time we'd catch Arab kids.You catch him, push the gun against his body. He can't make a move – he's totally petrified. He only goes: 'No, no, army.' You can tell he's petrified. He sees you're mad, that you couldn't care less about him and you're hitting him really hard the whole time. And all those stones flying around. You grab him like this, you see? We were mean, really. Only later did I begin to think about these things, that we'd lost all sense of mercy."

Rank and unit unidentified in report

Hebron 2007-08

"One night, things were hopping in Idna village [a small town of 20,000 people, about 13km west of Hebron], so we were told there's this wild riot, and we should get there fast. Suddenly we were showered with stones and didn't know what was going on. Everyone stopped suddenly; the sergeant sees the company commander get out of the vehicle and joins him. We jump out without knowing what was going on – I was last. Suddenly I see a shackled and blindfolded boy. The stoning stopped as soon as the company commander gets out of the car. He fired rubber ammo at the stone-throwers and hit this boy.

"At some point they talked about hitting his face with their knees. At that point I argued with them and said: 'I swear to you, if a drop of his blood or a hair falls off his head, you won't sleep for three nights. I'll make you miserable.'

"They laughed at me for being a leftie. 'If we don't show them what's what, they go back to doing this.' I argued with them that the guy was shackled and couldn't do anything. That he was being taken to the Shabak [security service] and we'd finished our job."

From Time Magazine Does Israel Mistreat Palestinian Child Prisoners?

Andrei Breivik – A Christian Zionist and Friend of the EDL

In All the Reports of his Trial - No Mention of Breivik's Support for Israel & Zionism

Anders Behring Breivik, left, the suspect in the mass killing in Oslo on July 22, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing on July 25. (Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen, Aftenposten / AP Photo)

photo: REUTERS
However difficult it is, you have to feel some sympathy for Andrei Breivik.  He was a devout Christian Zionist and he assumed that if Israel killed with impunity, then there was no reason that he shouldn’t either.  As I wrote yesterday, Israel has murdered 825 Gazans with the use of drones over Gaza in the past 4 years.  No Western government has protested, so why – Breivik thought – shouldn’t he kill some 'Muslim supporters' i.e. young socialists in Norway, who also supported the Palestinians (as all decent socialists and social democrats do these days).

Breivik had been to Israel several times and just loved the fact that there you could be openly racist and anti-Islamic without any sign of disapproval.  Despite media disinformation, he had strong contacts with the EDL and as the article in the Independent below shows, EDL leader Stephen Lennon praised him, adding that ‘the murders he carried out would have been easier to justify if they had been perpetrated against Muslims’.  We now know exactly what the EDL intends for its opponents (although most of us were already aware).

Those who remember the initial reports of the massacre that killed 77 in Oslo will remember that ‘Islamic extremists’ were first to be blamed.  When it turned out to be a fascist with strong sympathies with Israel, then the news began to be censored.  It didn’t quite fit the message we are taught to imbibe, that Israel and its supporters are peaceful and it is only Muslims who glory in blood and death.

Below are articles on the support for Breivik of the EDL nutters as well as an article on Anders Behring Breivik, Islam and Israel by Brit Dee, Breivik’s Zionist streak in  The Daily Beast and an article in the Jerusalem Post, a right-wing Israeli paper admitting to the fact that 'Norway attack suspect had anti-Muslim, pro-Israel views'.

Breivik was declared sane in an insane system that targets the victim as the aggressor.  It is a tribute to Norway, that unlike the United States and other states based on barbarism, the call for vengeance did not materialise.  Norwegians in their overwhelming majority were not prepared to allow their legal system to be subverted by a fascist oddball like Breivik.  The USA, which has a far higher murder rate than Norway, uses of course the death penalty as a ‘deterrent’ – though it has yet to employ it on those guilty of truly mass murder, such as Obama, Bush and Clinton.

I also submitted a comment on a hate-filled ‘Christian Voice’ site which I doubt will be published, so here it is, with the original link. Breivik: right verdict – wrong sentence 
'Your article is outrageous and indefensible.  Those young people who were murdered were not 'those at the Utøya youth camp should be proposing a solution to Israel as final as that which Hitler attempted for the Jews.'  That is just a political libel.

Support for the Palestinians, who are being ethnically cleansed and driven off their land, their houses demolished their youth beaten up, has nothing at all to do with Hitler's final solution.  Perhaps you should look at the 'Christian' record during the holocaust when the German Reich church supported Hitler, the Pope refused to speak out and western church leaders, with a few exceptions, kept silent.

The Norweign youth that Breivik murdered were doing what should have been done in the 1930's - supporting the victims of racism.

Nor were they supporting 'the anti-Israel terrorism of Hamas'.  Hamas is a political party and group, created partly by Israel as a response to secular Palestinian nationalism.  They were supporting the people of Gaza, a somewhat different thing.  Nor were the Gaza flotillas 'Hamas flotillas'.  That is cheap propaganda.

Israel has no right to impose an embargo on the people of Gaza, just as the Nazis had no right to incarcerate the Jews of Europe in ghettos.  A breach of such a blockade is perfectly justified.

Glenn Beck's comparison between the camp and the Hitler youth was simply obscene.  It should be obvious to all but the most stupid numbskull.  Hitler Youth gloried in attacking individual Jews.  Criticising and boycotting a STATE has no comparison, whatever name that state calls itself.  Or was it wrong to boycott South Africa under Apartheid? 

The author of this post finds it strange that Breivik is described as far right.  Really?  He attacked a left-wing youth group, his friends were neo-Nazis.  Opening fire on political opponents is a stock-in-trade of the death squads of Central America and South America and Colombia today.  All of which the USA sponsored.

It is no accident that this hate filled article should end by saying Breivik should have been sentenced to death.  In Europe we are more civilised.  The death penalty reduces us to the level of the murderer and if anyone deserves it, it was 'born again' Bush who was responsible for the death of over a million Iraqis.

Let's see if you have the courage to print this.'
Tony Greenstein

EDL leader praises Breivik in interview with Norwegian tabloid

The leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, has praised Breivik in an interview with Norwegian tabloid newspaper Dagbladet.
The leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson [aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon], has praised Breivik in an interview with Norwegian tabloid newspaper Dagbladet.

The newspaper visited Robinson, 29, in his home town and the birthplace of the EDL, Luton. Here he showed them the town, and revealed worrying admiration for Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right terrorist who killed 69 people in two terror attacks in Norway last July.

Although links between Breivik and the EDL have long been known due to his repeated mentioning of them in his so-called manifesto, that Tommy Robinson has applauded Breivik's point of view and the attention he brought to the cause, is sure to spark outrage. Breivik is currently on trial for the terror attacks which he has confessed to but maintains he is not criminally responsible as a justified crusader against Islam.

Several EDL members have even reported that Breivik attended a number of EDL events, although Tommy Robinson denies this. Either way, links are certain, at least in ideology.

In support of Breivik's writing, which Robinson says he has read, he argued:
"The blogs are full of facts. You can not yell at people because they tell the truth. You may find the truth hurts, but it is still the truth. I read the blogs themselves - they contain facts about Islam."

Although the EDL leader condemns the approach the Breivik took, in his interview with Dagbladet he defended his writings and argued that it can't be denied that he is "pretty smart".

When asked 'would it be easier to justify the attack if Breivik had attacked Muslims?' he answered:
"Yes, it would been easier to justify it, but he would only have been swept aside as the one that killed Muslims because he did not like Islam. Whether you like it or not, that guy was pretty smart...What he did is despicable, but he managed to make people curious."

Just a few weeks ago on 31 March the EDL helped to organise and attended a rally in Aarhus, Denmark, in an attempt to promote a pan-European far-right movement. Although the march was by all accounts a failure, it was another worrying instance of far-right sentiment that can lead to such devastating attacks as those conducted by Breivik in Norway last year.

Additional Reporting The Foreigner

EDL leader forced to deny praising Anders Breivik

EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has been forced to deny supporting mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik after he was quoted praising the man who killed 77 people in a Norwegian newspaper.

In an interview conducted in his home town of Luton, Mr Yaxley-Lennon called Breivik “smart” and said the murders he carried out would have been easier to justify if they had been perpetrated against Muslims.

The [Breivik’s] blogs are full of facts. You can not yell at people because they tell the truth. You may find the truth hurts, but it is still the truth. I read the blogs themselves – they contain facts about Islam.”
In the interview with the Dagbladet newspaper, Mr Yaxley-Lennon, who also goes by the name “Tommy Robinson”, added: “Yes, it would been easier to justify it [if the crime were committed against Muslims], but he would only have been swept aside as the one that killed Muslims because he did not like Islam. Whether you like it or not, that guy was pretty smart...What he did is despicable, but he managed to make people curious.”

Today, Mr Yaxley-Lennon was forced to insist that he did not condone the killings. He acknowledged the quotes given to the Norwegian paper but told The Independent: “they were not in support of Breivik. I was saying that it is bad we are all playing out what he wants us to. Everything that is happening, he thought about. He has planned all of this; it is disturbing to give him what he wants.

“What I said was if it was Muslims, he would have been swept aside as a Muslim-hater. The man is a monster, he took kids away from their families. But the blogs are the truth.”

The anti-Islam group whose marches have been marked by violence and numerous arrests, has been at pains to distance itself from Breivik ever since he mentioned it in the largely racist writings he used to justify his actions.

There were reports that Breivik attended EDL marches in the UK before carrying out the murders, although these were denied by Mr Yaxley-Lennon.

See also

Anders Behring Breivik, Islam and Israel

by Brit Dee, July 27 2011

During the ongoing trial of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik we have learnt many interesting but chilling details about the bombing in Oslo and subsequent shootings on the island of Utøya. Perhaps most interestingly of all, Breivik has provided a clear explanation of exactly what he hoped to achieve through his acts of terrorism. Immediately after the attack, some commentators speculated that the tragedy would be exploited by the political elite, to demonise moderate nationalists - "patriots" who reject mass immigration and the erosion of national culture - and to stifle debates on such issues. This, it seems, is exactly what Breivik hoped for.

During the third day of his trial, The Guardian reported how Breivik insisted that his goal (in the short to medium term) was to make pariahs of Europe's nationalists – the very people with whom you might expect him to feel kinship. "I thought I had to provoke a witchhunt of modern moderately conservative nationalists," he said. Then he claimed that this curious strategy had already borne fruit, citing the example of Norway's prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who he said had given a speech since the attacks saying that critics of immigration were wrong. The effect of this "witchhunt", said Breivik, would be to increase "censorship" of moderately nationalist views, which would "increase polarisation". The effect of this, he said, would eventually lead to "more radicalisation as more will lose hope and lose faith in democracy". Ultimately, he said, these new radicals would join the war he has started to protect the "indigenous people" of Norway and western Europe.

Whilst Jens Stoltenberg's speech may give the impression that Breivik's strategy is indeed going to plan, other evidence suggests that nationalist parties and policies have not suffered at all in the wake of the Norwegian terror attacks. Last week Geert Wilder's fervently anti-Islam Freedom Party, the third largest party in the Netherlands, brought down the Dutch coalition government after withdrawing its support for EU-imposed budget cuts. In France, Marine Le Pen's equally strongly anti-Islam National Front won a record 18 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections. Le Pen claims to be fighting the "Islamisation" of France, a position for which there is evidently considerable support, particularly in the aftermath of Mohamed Merah's "Al Qaeda" shootings in Toulouse last month (the fact that Merah was likely an asset being handled by the French authorities of course being rarely mentioned).

Indeed, the far-right appears to be in the ascendancy, and even courted by the mainstream. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, knowing that he will have to attract National Front votes if he stands any chance of re-election, said after the first round that NF voters "must be respected", as their votes were "a vote of suffering, a crisis vote". Comments bluntly critical of Islam, previously the preserve of the far-right, have also been made by leading mainstream politicians in other European countries. Last week the leader of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in parliament, Volker Kauder, described Islam as "not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong in Germany", though he was careful to add "But Muslims do belong in Germany. As state citizens, of course, they enjoy their full rights."

Whilst Breivik's purported plan to spark a demonisation of nationalists does not appear to be working, or even necessary, his attacks are certainly feeding into the general tension currently building between those of different political parties and faiths; society is indeed becoming polarised. This may be the natural result of a failed experiment in multiculturalism, the effects of deliberate conspiracies echoing those such as Operation Gladio, or the "strategy of tension", or a combination of the two. No matter who or what is behind the current ratcheting up of tension, a political, religious and racial tension inextricably linked to the collapsing economies and deteriorating living standards of Europe, the ultimate beneficiaries are clear - the shadowy criminal elite who profit from such "systemic destabilisation" and who Peter Dale Scott characterises as the "overworld".

It must be pointed out that Zionist supporters of Israel are one of the beneficiaries of the tensions currently being played out in Europe. Indeed, the newfound alliance between staunchly pro-Israeli Zionists and ultranational anti-Islamists, is one of the most intriguing aspects of today's political scene.

The extreme right has traditionally been seen, often with good cause, as anti-Semitic - and yet now we see many examples of the anti-Islamic far-right openly embracing Zionism and Zionists. Anders Breivik was himself an avowed Zionist, his 1515-page manifesto containing multiple references to his firm belief that Israel is an ally which must be strongly defended by nationalists at all costs. Breivik was also of course an avid follower of such anti-Islamic, pro-Zionist writers as the American blogger Pamela Geller.

The Dutch politician Geert Wilders, mentioned earlier, is also a staunch supporter of Israel, having reportedly lived in the country for two years during his youth, and visited 40 times in the last 25 years. His Freedom Party allegedly receives financing from supporters of Israel in the US. The English Defence League, to whom some have linked Breivik, openly state their support of Israel, sometimes appearing at demonstrations waving the Star of David flag. The EDL has a Jewish Division, run by the Zionist Roberta Moore, who recently expressed her support for Breivik's murders and claimed that his teenage victims were "not innocent". In France, Le Pen's National Front has also reportedly recently won support from a previously hostile Jewish community.

We are obviously living in dangerous times and, with the economy collapsing, widespread social tension increasing, peculiar alliances forming, and Muslims seemingly being scapegoated in a role historically allocated to Jews, drawing parallels between today's political climate and that of the 1930s, is unfortunately unavoidable.

The Norway Shooter’s Zionist Streak

Jul 25, 2011

‘A Very Devout Christian Zionist’

Anders Breivik’s embrace of Israel is the latest sign of a shift among reactionaries in Europe—with fascism and Zionism going hand in hand, fueled by Islamophobia, says Michelle Goldberg.

Anders Breivik is a Christian nationalist terrorist obsessed with preserving the “Nordic/Germanic” people. He is also an ardent Zionist. Though he finds elements of Nazi ideology appealing, his 1,500-page manifesto condemns anti-Semitism. He argues that Hitler should have used his “military capabilities…to liberate Jerusalem and the nearby provinces from Islamic occupation” and give them to the Jews. Breivik calls on his imaginary comrades: “So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists.”

Coming from a Scandinavian fascist, this is a remarkable sentiment. The European far right has long been rooted in Nazism, and for decades, anti-Semitism was its hallmark. But Breivik’s embrace of Israel, far from being unique, is just the latest sign of a great shift among the continent's reactionaries. Indeed, in European politics, fascism and an aggressive sort of Zionism increasingly go together.

You can see it in country after country. While Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s ultraright Front National, is a Holocaust denier, his daughter and successor, Marine Le Pen, is working to cleanse the party of its reputation for Jew hatred, telling the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that it “has always been Zionistic.” In the early 1990s, the British National Party organized a violent neo-Nazi gang called Combat 18. In 2009, the party’s leader, Nick Griffin, boasted that his was the only British party to support Israel’s war “against the terrorists” in Gaza.

Earlier this year, Newsweek ran a story about this phenomenon titled “Europe’s Extreme Righteous: Far-right European politicians find love—and common cause—in Israel.” It opened with three politicians, “a Belgian politician known for his contacts with SS veterans, an Austrian with neo-Nazi ties, and a Swede whose political party has deep roots in Swedish fascism,” visiting the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. They met with members of the Knesset and signed something called the Jerusalem declaration, which affirmed, “We stand at the vanguard in the fight for the Western, democratic community” against the “totalitarian threat” of Islamic fundamentalism.

Obviously, Islamophobia is responsible for the bizarre alliance between Israel and European white nationalists. Muslims have come to occupy the place Jews once held in the reactionary European imagination; they’re seen as agents of an apocalyptic conspiracy that threatens Europe’s very survival. The specter of the coming caliphate has crowded out the old myth of the scheming elders of Zion. Naturally, the self-described agents of the counter-jihad see the enemy of their enemy as an ally. It’s the inverse of the anti-Semitic alliance between Hitler and Haj Amin el-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.

'Norway attack suspect had anti-Muslim, pro-Israel views'

By BEN HARTMAN  07/24/2011

1,500 page manifesto credited to Breivik, accused of killing spree, lays out worldview including extreme screed of Islamophobia, far-right Zionism.

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who killed nearly 100 people in a combined terror attack Friday that included car bombings in Oslo and a shooting rampage at an island summer camp, held fiercely anti-Islamic and pro-Israel views, according to a 1,500 page manifesto he uploaded before his killing spree Friday.

In the 1,500-page tome, which mentions Israel 359 times and “Jews” 324 times, Breivik lays out his worldview, which includes an extreme, bizarre and rambling screed of Islamophobia, far-right Zionism and venomous attacks on Marxism and multi-culturalism.

In one passage, he lashes out at the Western media, which he accuses of unfairly focusing on the wrongdoing of Jews.

“Western Journalists again and again systematically ignore serious Muslim attacks and rather focus on the Jews,” he wrote.

Breivik also took a jab at leftwing Jews.

“Jews that support multi-culturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism as they are to us,” he continued.

“So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists.”
He also stated that Israel is the homeland for Jews largely due to the persecution suffered by Jews at the hands of Muslims, saying “if one acknowledges that Islam has always oppressed the Jews, one accepts that Israel was a necessary refuge for the Jews fleeing not only the European, but also the Islamic variety of anti- Judaism.”

The manifesto also serves as a call-to-arms, of sorts, in which Breivik lays out his reasons for launching the attack, focusing on what he described as the importance of nationalism and the growing scourge of Islam in Europe.

Entitled “2083 - A European Declaration of Independence,” the document states: “as we all know, the root of Europe’s problems is the lack of cultural self-confidence [nationalism] ...this irrational fear of nationalistic doctrines is preventing us from stopping our own national/ cultural suicide as the Islamic colonization is increasing annually ...You cannot defeat Islamization or halt/reverse the Islamic colonization of Western Europe without first removing the political doctrines manifested through multiculturalism/ cultural Marxism.”

Breivik did, however, note that he doesn’t hate Muslims in any fashion and that “I have had several Muslim friends over the years, some of which I still respect.”

He also expressed his sympathy for the people of Serbia, and blasted Norway’s support of the 1999 NATO-bombing campaign on Serbia that stopped the expulsion of Kosovar Albanians by Serbian forces.

In addition, he expressed his disgust at his government’s awarding of “the Nobel peace prize to an Islamic terrorist [Arafat] and appeasers of Islam.”

Breivik sneers at those who would spare the lives of women, and in an especially chilling instruction writes, “once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike. Explain what you have done [in an announcement distributed prior to operation] and make certain that everyone understands that we, the free peoples of Europe, are going to strike again and again.”

Trevino is Fired - The Guardian Does the Right Thing for the Wrong Reasons

Trevino Fired Not Because He is a Fascist - 

But Because He's a Corrupt Fascist!

The Guardian's Dishonest Statement That Fools No One
The racist rat found British readers a little more discerning than the normal Texan

Trevino Even Looks the Part of a Neo-Con Nutcase
It would be nice to think that the Guardian had got rid of Joshua Trevino, the far-Right Texan Republican who they hired as US Correspondent, because he was an advocate of genocide, concentration camps and the transfer of the Palestinians as well as glorifying in the death of unarmed peace activists. 

The Guardian had their chance.  They could have fired Trevino when his tweet ‘Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me." was first revealed.  Instead they  published a lying ‘clarification’ that fooled no one, not even Israel’s most ardent supporters. My 2011 Gaza flotilla tweet: a clarification.

Matt Seaton - Head of US Cif was the only one to openly defend Trevino - next time he'll stick to the only subject he's an expert in - bicycling!
Instead I was barred from posting comments to CIF because I’d called some Zionist a ‘fool’.  Presumably telling the truth resumably that is a greater offence in the eyes of the idiots who go by the name of CIF Moderators than justifying the death of innocents.

The only person who was apparently taken in was the hapless Matt Seaton, Head of  the American , who was sent out to bat for Trevino.  Maybe Seaton had to defend the indefensible.  Clearly possessing a spine isn’t a qualification necessary to being a Guardian US Correspondent.  Instead he should have told his editor Janine Gibson to go take a running jump.   If Gibson possesses any integrity, she will hand in her notice and depart arm-in-arm with Trevino.

I have to confess that the post by Trevino that I found most appalling wasn’t his tweets about the shooting of Alice Walker and co. on the Gaza flotilla, nasty as they were.  It was his considered comments that the setting up of concentration camps in Iraq were a good idea and cited the concentration camps that Britain set up in South Africa (where a mere 26,000+ women and children died) as an example. (The Guardian Hires Racist Sack of Garbage, Joshua Trevino as its US Correspondent) .  I was banned from writing for CIF, at the urgings of the Zionist lobby, because I had the temerity to compare things like the Nazis forbidding the renting and ownership of property to Jews in 1939 with similar provisions in Israel today by the Jewish National Fund.

What kind of hypocrisy forbids legitimate comparisons between the policies of the Nazi regime in respect of the Jews and Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians.  After all it is a fact that the Nazi policy towards the Jews was in favour of the transfer of the Jews to Madagascar (or indeed anywhere) up 1941.  Trevino likewise supports the transfer of Palestinians from Israel.  Where’s the difference?

This episode suggests that although the Guardian had to face up to the fact that many readers of the Guardian would not put up with this fascist as a commentator/correspondent, (the Guardian never could decide which), the strategy of appealing to the Republican right in the USA remains unchanged.  As someone who hasn’t bought a copy of the Guardian since news of Trevino’s appointment was announced, I am on a personal level happy that I can return to purchasing it, even though it is going rapidly downhill.

But the question remains.  If the Guardian are happy to have as a correspondent this racist scumbag, what other surprises have they in store?  As it happens not only was Trevino a racist, but a corrupt one who hadn’t declared his connections with the Malaysian regime and a group called Malaysia Matters, whilst posting that bogus sodomy charges against the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim .  Of course Trevino was also an anti-gay bigot to add to his other vices.

This reminds me of the threatened impeachment of Richard Nixon, US President, back in 1974.  Most Guardian writers these days are too young to remember Watergate and simply take it as another history lesson (whilst learning all the wrong lessons).  But what struck me, having become politically aware during the campaign against the Vietnam War, was that Nixon faced almost certain impeachment, not for having waged a secret war with Henry Kissinger in 1970 against Cambodia, resulting in over a million dead and the ascendancy of Pol Pot, who killed at least another one million in the most horrific circumstances imaginable, but because he had had lied over a relatively minor break-in at the Democrat’s offices in Watergate.

But we should not be churlish.  Let’s hope that Gibson, Seaton, Freedland and all the other superficial pundits who inhabit the Guardian’s editorial chairs these days, will learn their lesson.  And above all, congratulations should go, above all, to Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, for his intrepid and consistent  campaign to have Trevino removed.

Tony Greenstein

Guardian dumps Joshua Treviño

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Fri, 08/24/2012 - 21:01

Citing his failure to disclose a major conflict of interest, The Guardian has dumped Joshua Treviño, nine days after it announced it had hired him as a columnist.

The announcement came as outrage from Guardian readers continued to grow over his history of incitement and hate speech directed against Palestinian solidarity activists, Muslims and others.

In a joint statement with Treviño, The Guardian said:
Joshua Treviño wrote a piece for the Guardian on February 28, 2011 titled “Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?” The Guardian recently learned that shortly before writing this article the author was a consultant for an agency that had Malaysian business interests and that he ran a website called Malaysia Matters. In keeping with the Guardian’s editorial code this should have been disclosed.

    “Under our guidelines, the relationship between Joshua and the agency should have been disclosed before the piece was published in order to give full clarity to our readers,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief, Guardian US.”

    I vigorously affirm that nothing unethical was done and I have been open with the Guardian in this matter. Nevertheless, the Guardian’s guidelines are necessarily broad, and I agree that they must be respected as such,” said Joshua Treviño.

    We have therefore mutually agreed to go our separate ways and wish each other the best of luck.

I had raised the issue of Treviño’s conflicts of interest in my 18 August Al Jazeera article “What’s gone wrong at The Guardian:

According to The Guardian’s own editorial code, journalists and commentators must disclose outside work and organisational affiliations that could pose a conflict of interest. Treviño, as has been disclosed, works as a paid consultant to Republican candidates for elected office. But there’s much more readers deserve to know.
In July 2011, Treviño was caught in a curious controversy where a website in Malaysia accused him and another US blogger of running a website named Malaysia Matters, allegedly secretly paid for by Malaysia’s prime minister and another politician in order to improve their image. Treviño told reporter Ben Smith, then of Politico, that the story was “completely false”. But Smith stated that Treviño “misdirected” him.

    While Smith was unable to get to the bottom of the murky financial arrangements behind Malaysia Matters, he revealed that, in 2008, Treviño had approached a number of prominent US bloggers, “offering them a free ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Malaysian junket, paid for, he [Treviño] said in an email at the time, by business interests associated with Malaysian politics.

    When challenged on this rather odd activity for a journalist, Treviño wrote to Smith: “I also offer people paid trips to Israel” - as if that were the most normal thing in the world for a blogger to do.

Do Treviño’s new bosses at The Guardian know this? Do they know on whose behalf Treviño - a former member of the advisory board of Act for Israel - is writing? And more importantly, are they planning to tell their readers?

There is more information from Sarawak Report whose investigations were key to revealing Treviño’s Malaysian connections.

The Guardian has done the right thing. It may have cited the conflict of interest in order to save face, but that reason was certainly enough to call into question the decision to hire Treviño. Treviño’s dishonesty was also on display in his mendacious “clarification” of his tweets calling for violence and gloating over the deaths of unarmed civilians, which The Guardian has yet to correct. That is pending business.

But everyone who contacted The Guardian to express their views on its disastrous judgment should be pleased with this outcome. The Guardian should reflect deeply on this debacle and work to rebuild readers’ trust.

I also suggest that people write to the following at the Guardian to welcome the decision taken in the end, even though it was done for the most trivial of reasons.  

Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief: alan.rusbridger@guardian.co.uk
Jonathan Freedland: Editorial Team jonathan.freedland@guardian.co.uk 
Janine Gibson, Editor in Chief Guardian US: janine.gibson@guardian.co.uk
Matt Seaton, Editor Comment is Free US: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk
Ombudssman Chris Elliott: reader@guardian.co.uk
Comment is Free Editors:  cif.editors@guardian.co.uk
Becky Gardiner, Editor CIF:  becky.gardiner@guardian.co.uk
Joseph Harker, CIF Editorial Team:  joseph.harker@guardian.co.uk
Brian Whittaker CIF Editorial Team: brian.whitaker@guardian.co.uk

25 August 2012

825 Gazans have died because of Israeli Drones


Searching for dignity

This is an article by Rajaie Batniji,  just published in The Lancet, Volume 380, Issue 9840, Pages 466 - 467, 4 August 2012. Rajaie visited his family in Gaza last spring.  If Gazans fire a rocket at Israel then it’s instantly BBC news.  But the death of 800 people from Israeli drones passes without mention.

Tony Greenstein

Death by Drone

They were playing with their Atari last night.” This was my young cousin's way of explaining why our street in Gaza had turned into an arrangement of chairs and tents for an outdoor funeral. He was, of course, referring to attacks by drones, which Gazans call “zennana” in an Arabic reference to the buzzing noise they make. While there is uncertainty about how many people have been killed by these drones, the Palestine Center for Human Rights estimates that at least 800 people in Gaza have died because of drones since 2006. These deaths are largely civilians, bystanders from Israeli attempts at targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip—a narrow 41 kilometre strip of land along the Mediterranean, where more than 1·5 million Palestinians live.
Another death by drone
Zennana, a feminine word, is also used by Gazans to refer to a whining wife or daughter, reflecting the Gazan perception of these weapons of war as a nagging nuisance of daily life, rather than a traumatic occurrence. To understand how Gazans have “normalised the abnormal”, I visited Ahmed Abu-Tawahina, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP). He explained to me how “The idea of trauma makes no sense in the Palestinian context where people live in constant fear. Trauma makes sense in Geneva, where there is safety, stability, and routine. But in Gaza, there is no normalcy.” Ahmed suggested that an alternative to “trauma” might be “mousiba”, meaning tragedy. Since Gazans live in constant fear and insecurity, they are not typically shocked by violence.

The violence did startle me. Leaving the serenity of my life in the USA, where I am a resident physician at Stanford University, I arrived in Gaza in March, 2012, on the eve of an Israeli aerial campaign targeting militants from Islamic Jihad. I was greeted by my loving grandparents with offerings of tea and overly sweetened juice, but also by a near absence of electricity, a scarcity of running water, the buzz of the drones, the roar of military jets, and explosions from nearby incoming and outgoing missiles. In Gaza, I learned how the Israeli military's surveillance and attacks, international foreign aid, and the conflict between Palestinian political factions conspire to create fear, divide communities, and—above all—threaten people's dignity.

Dignity is a nebulous idea in theory and definition, but I found that Gaza is something of a laboratory for observing an absence of dignity. Jonathan Mann made the case that violations of dignity have “devastating” effects on physical, mental, and social wellbeing and he sought to create a taxonomy of dignity violations that included: not being seen or being incompletely seen; being subsumed into a group identity; invasion of personal space (including physical violence); and humiliation. Mann's persuasive ideas seem to resonate in Gaza. The constant surveillance from the sky, collective punishment through blockade and isolation, the intrusion into homes and communications, and restrictions on those trying to travel, or marry, or work make it difficult to live a dignified life in Gaza.
Grieving Over Another Victim of Israel's Drones
 Riding in a United Nations car with Mahmoud Daher, head of WHO's Gaza office, he was careful to keep his distance from all other vehicles, for fear that they might be targeted by Israeli missiles. Later, Karem, a young surgeon at Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's trauma centre, told me how “Every day, I go to work and wonder where and when I'll die. You never know when a war will start again. Just yesterday, it was calm, and now we're in war.” During the 2009 Gaza war, Karem worked 19 straight days without leaving the hospital. He does not exude fragility. On his Facebook wall the day I entered Gaza, his status read, “Another tough night at Shifa hospital, then [at home] you still have the smell of smoke from grilled human bodies & that image of shattered human flesh.”

Foreign aid, ostensibly provided to relieve the suffering of Palestinians, has in some ways increased social fragmentation. Since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, after winning the 2006 election, some political actors have used foreign aid in an effort to create a prosperous and healthy West Bank, and a sick and impoverished Gaza. In fact, official development assistance has, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, more than doubled since 2006, from disbursements of US$1·2 billion in 2006 to disbursements of $2·7 billion in 2009 and $2·5 billion in 2010. Yet very little of this aid makes it to Gaza. As Hasan Zeyada, a psychologist with GCMHP, told me, “Aid allows foreign powers to achieve a goal they couldn't even achieve through war.”

Perhaps the most devastating attack on social cohesion comes from the internal Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian power struggle has recreated many of the most threatening aspects of the Israeli occupation: barriers to movement of people and goods, fear, isolation, and torture. It takes several hours to move a few hundred metres across the Egyptian border. Medical students, eager to act on the social and political factors that affect health, report that they are unable to do so because it is dangerous to create groups and alliances. Torture techniques seem to be used by Palestinians from both political factions. Torture survivors come to clinics in secret; their charts carry false names. As one clinician observed during my visit, “It would be far more compelling to tell an optimistic story, but I cannot do that. Torture and violence destroy our hopes for Palestinian unity.”

Occupation and the blockade make shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies commonplace. Yet during my visit it seemed to me that these shortages are at least partly attributable to internal Palestinian conflict. While enjoying fresh strawberry juice on Gaza's coast with Mahmoud Daher, of WHO, our conversation was not only interrupted by explosions, but also by a call from the American Consulate in East Jerusalem, asking about the health situation amid the escalation in conflict. Mahmoud informs them that of about 480 drugs on the Palestinian essential drugs list, 180 drugs are out of stock and 70 to 80 are below the 3-month threshold. The cause of the essential drugs shortage is debated in Gaza. Some blame the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for failing to transfer medicines from their warehouses to Gaza. Others blame the Hamas Government for misallocating funds that need to be transferred to acquire the medications. Irrespective of the cause, the drug shortage is no longer simply attributable to the Israeli blockade.

Everywhere they turn, Gazans face isolation and fear: the drones and warplanes of Israeli occupation, the inequality reinforced by foreign aid, and the pervasive conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Ahmed Abu-Tawahina, of GCMHP, seemed to put it best when he likened Gazans to subjects in a Pavlovian experiment, being betrayed by political parties and donors wherever they turned. “We go to each corner of the cage and are shocked, then we stand in the middle of the cage, totally paranoid and abandoned.” In an earlier era, there was stronger social solidarity. During the first Palestinian uprising of 1988—93, the divisions between cities, villages, camps, and clans had faded. But, along the way, Gazan society has become divided. Without reliable infrastructure for water, electricity, or imported goods, families hoard fuel and depend on the black market. Many people on the street now walk with their heads down—whether it is out of fear, isolation, or a loss of dignity.

The attempt to restore and protect dignity was the primary goal of many clinicians I met in Gaza. One clinician, who works with victims of torture, keeps doing his work, despite the risks to his life in doing so, because his patients remind him, “You are the window through which I can breathe”. As Eyad El-Sarraj explained, the core goal of GCMPH is to make people feel like they are regaining their dignity. This is why their staff see themselves as community workers and human rights advocates, not just clinicians. Khamis Elessi, a clinician-educator at at El-Wafa Hospital and the Islamic University in Gaza, teaches his students to touch their patients. He explains, “The sick want to tell you about daily suffering, the misery of life without electricity, how he feels when his kids can't go to school.” They need doctors who give them an opportunity to express these struggles. He had much more to say, but we ended our meeting so he could go to the funeral of his cousin, a 60-year-old farmer, who had recently died after an Israeli airstrike.

How do you control territory without troops? Ask the Israelis who fly drones over Gaza.

An Israeli drone as seen from the ground in Gaza
Photograph by Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images.
Yesterday, for the third time this year, Iran said it had shot down a U.S. drone in its airspace. The United States doubted the drone had been shot down but refused to say what it had been doing near the Iran-Afghan border. NATO said the drone might have crashed in Iran after operators “lost control” of it over Afghanistan. All three stories sound fishy. If I were the CIA or the U.S. military, I’d be using our drones to spy on Iran. And if I were Iran, I’d be trying to shoot them down.
To understand how it feels to live under drones, look 1,000 miles to Iran’s west, toward the Gaza strip. Two months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations that Israel had withdrawn “from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. … We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even moved loved ones from their graves.” Everything from corpses to cornerstones came out of the ground.

But not out of the air. In the sky above Gaza, Israel never fully withdrew. In 2008, I visited Israel under the sponsorship of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Near the Gaza border, I saw tethered airships overhead. In today’s Washington Post, Scott Wilson explains how Israeli drones are affecting Gaza. Israel no longer occupies Gaza. And yet, it does.

Israel’s occupations of land beyond its original borders—Southern Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank—have been morally and politically costly. But Israel’s absence from these territories has been costly, too. No Israeli can forget that the country was caught unaware and nearly destroyed when its neighbors launched a coordinated assault in 1973. And as Netanyahu has pointed out, Israel’s pullouts from Gaza and Southern Lebanon brought further missile barrages from those places, not peace. By 2008, when I visited the often-bombarded Israel town of Sderot, Palestinian militants had fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

If your country had endured such assaults, you’d want to know exactly what your neighbors were up to. You’d want a permanent intelligence—and possibly military—presence in their territory. That’s what drones have achieved. As Wilson notes, Israel developed its first surveillance drone after the 1973 war, and it escalated its aerial surveillance of Gaza after Hamas, in 2006, sneaked into Israel and kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

As a military force, Israel’s unmanned aircraft have spared civilians more effectively than its manned aircraft have. “Because Gaza is a very dense urban environment, with civilians and terrorists mixed together, the only way to differentiate is by looking,” the commander of Israeli drones over Gaza tells Wilson. “And this is up to us to do that.” Drones can hover, observe, and verify their targets, and their strikes are more surgical. According to Wilson, “Gazans use a quick calculus to assess an attack: A destroyed building, such as the small police post, is the result of an F-16. A strike on a sedan, or a group of men clustered at an intersection, is the work of a drone.” An Islamic Jihad leader tells Wilson that Israel’s drones have killed fewer people than the Palestinian Center for Human Rights asserts, because many deaths attributed to the drones were actually inflicted by bombers or helicopters.

For both sides, then, drones are the safest way of maintaining an Israeli presence. But that doesn’t make them cost-free. Gazans tell Wilson that their kids live in fear of the drones and that they abandon their cars, cancel social plans, and stay indoors when they hear the familiar buzz. They’re afraid to be anywhere young men gather. They’re afraid to go out in clothes that might be mistaken, in the eyes of a drone pilot, for terrorist garb. “Israel’s military may not be on the ground anymore,” a Palestinian human rights advocate explains. “But they are in the air—looking, always, at every square inch of Gaza.” Despite the absence of Israeli tanks and troops, Gazans feel—and, in a sense, are—still occupied.

The Islamic Jihad leader says his men don’t yet have the weaponry to clear their skies of Israeli drones. But he indicates that they’re trying to get it and that they’re making some progress by smuggling equipment into Gaza through tunnels. If they succeed, Gaza, like Iran, could become a dangerous place for drones. That won’t make war in either place less likely. It will just force those who face terrorism from Gaza, or nuclear weapons in Iran, to strike at their enemies with less information and with clumsier, bloodier tools.

William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter:

See Israeli drone attack kills Palestinian in Gaza Strip