31 December 2015

When Nuremberg Came to Israel

In Israel - mixed marriages are a no-no
You might, in your innocence, think that a book on an Arab-Jewish romance would be just the thing that would be welcomed as a way of breaking down barriers and enhancing understanding and tolerance between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.   However you would be very foolish to do so, because Israel operates under a different value system to most other societies. 

Israel is a Jewish racial state and miscegenation, the mixing of the ‘races’ is strictly forbidden in Israel.  Not legally of course, because Israel has to formally adhere to western values, but in the accepted and unwritten Zionist consensus.  A consensus that includes a shared practice and beliefs.  This consensus operates across all of Israel’s Zionist political parties from Likud to Labour.

Of course this is nothing new when it comes to settler colonial states.  Marriage and sex between the coloniser and colonised was banned or looked  upon with extreme disfavour in British colonies from India to Southern Africa.  It was termed ‘the Black peril’.   In South Africa the 1927 and 1950 Immorality Acts and the 1957 Sexual Offences Act forbade interracial sex and marriage. 

Nazi Germany had the 1935 Nuremberg Laws and specifically the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour which specifically forbade sexual relations or marriage between Aryans and Jews (later amended to Romanis and Blacks).  Israel has no such Act but then it doesn’t need to ban Arabs and Jews from marrying.  It’s just that it is impossible for them to do so since there is no civil marriage in Israel. 
Benny Gopstein, Kahanist and Head of Lehava, fascist anti-miscegenation organisation
Of course it is still possible for Arabs and Jews to have sex and relationships outside of marriage which is why Israel’s Social Affairs Ministry, in its wisdom has given a grant of around £120,000 each year, about half its running costs, to Hemla, the ‘charitable’ wing of the fascist anti-miscegenation organisation, Lehava.  [A Strange Kind of Mercy, http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/a-strange-kind-of-mercy-1.364417]   The head of Lehava, who is also employed by Hemla, Benny Gopstein, supports the burning down of mixed Arab-Jewish schools (its supporters were convicted of arson at the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem) and Christian churches.  The Knesset under the guidance of Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotoveli agreed to fund the good work of Hemla in helping to ‘rescue’ Jewish girls who had fallen for the wiles of Arab men.  Radical Jewishgroup’s head advocates burning churches 
Hemla - the 'charitable organisation' in  Jerusalem, funded by the Israeli government, which rescues fallen Jewish girls who have been seduced into relationships with Arab men
Because of western sensitivities, the criminalisation of interracial sex in Israel cannot be made a crime, though an Israeli Arab was gaoled for passing himself off as a Jew for the purpose of having sex with an Jewish woman.  Arab who posed as a Jew jailed for rape 'bydeception' 
Gopstein and thugs patrolling Jerusalem looking out for Arab men who might 'endanger' Jewish women.  'Jewish girls for a Jewish state' is their slogan
Extending this logic, then a married man who has sex with a woman, after telling her that he is single, could also be prosecuted for rape, even though the sexual intercourse was consensual.
So it is therefore quite understandable that a novel encouraging inter-racial sexual relations should be banned from schools where impressionable youngsters, who don’t understand the evils of Arab-Jewish romance, will be protected from harm.

It is worth reading the article Israel Bans Novel on Arab-Jewish Romance From Schools for 'Threatening Jewish Identity' in Ha'aretz to get the full flavour of the deeply ingrained racism in Israeli society.  The Ministry of Education, which has banned Dorit Rabinyan’s book, Borderlife, is headed by one of the principal racists of the Israeli government, Naftali Bennett of Habayit Hayehudi.
Gopstein temporarily under arrest
The acting Chair of the Education Ministry's pedagogic secretariat, Dalia Fenig [she is the acting Chair because Bennett dismissed the previous Chair] explained her reasons thus:  

“The work is contemporary and therefore presents the reader in a very tangible and powerful way with the dilemma of the institutionalization of the love while he [the reader] doesn’t have the full tools to weigh the decisions of such a nature,”

In other words, a young reader might be seduced by the message of love, regardless of the 'race' of the characters in the book, forgetting that Zionism dictates that the Jewish people must not become 'impure' by marrying out.  Fenig asserted that: 

The story is based on a romantic motif of impossible prohibited/secret love. Young people of adolescent age tend to romanticize and don’t, in many cases, have the systemic vision that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”

And in this statement you get the full measure of the biological racism at the heart of Zionism and Israeli society.  As the author Dorit Rabinyan noted, 'There is something ironic in the fact that the novel that deals with the Jewish fear of assimilation in the Middle East was eventually rejected by this very fear.”

Tony Greenstein

Dorit Rabinyan reading from Persian Brides, an earlier novel
Israel takes another step down a very dark path. Here is the news from Haaretz today:

Israel Bans Novel on Arab-Jewish Romance From Schools for ‘Threatening Jewish Identity’

Israel’s Education Ministry has disqualified a novel that describes a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from use by high schools..

Move comes despite the fact that the official responsible for teaching of literature in secular state schools recommended the book for use in advanced literature classes, as did a professional committee of academics and educators…

“Young people of adolescent age tend to romanticizing and don’t, in many cases, have the systemic vision that includes considerations involving maintaining the identity of the people and the significance of assimilation.”

The novel is Borderlife by Dorit Rabinyan. It is blurbed by Amos Oz. A description:

'What begins in the cold of early New York winter ends on a Jaffa beach at summer’s blinding peak. A chance encounter brings two strangers together: Liat, an Israeli from Tel Aviv, and Hilmi, a Palestinian born in Hebron. For one frozen winter away from home, on snowy streets, filled with longing for a Middle Eastern sun, Liat and Hilmi demarcate the place reserved only for them, an intimate short-term place, a universe for two. At the fissures and margins of things, in corners and in gaps, the reality lurking in Israel peers and snarls at them. The story, with its twists and passions, follows them even when they each go their own way – Liat returning to Tel Aviv and Hilmi to the village of Jifna, north of Ramallah – refusing to end.'

What will liberal Zionists say about this?  When do you conclude that this kind of intolerance and racism is built into the very idea of religious nationalism? Henry Siegman writes in Haaretz today that American liberal values are not shared by Israel. And yes, we’re trying to live up to them over here; but it’s impossible to imagine this kind of official action here.

Thanks to Ofer Neiman

Move comes despite the fact that the official responsible for teaching of literature in secular state schools recommended the book for use in advanced literature classes, as did a professional committee of academics and educators.

Or Kashti Dec 31, 2015 12:57 AM

Students taking a matriculation exam at a high school in Hadera. Alon Ron
Israel’s Education Ministry has disqualified a novel that describes a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from use by high schools around the country. The move comes even though the official responsible for literature instruction in secular state schools recommended the book for use in advanced literature classes, as did a professional committee of academics and educators, at the request of a number of teachers.

Among the reasons stated for the disqualification of Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (literally “Hedgerow,” but known in English as “Borderlife”) is the need to maintain what was referred to as “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector,” and the belief that “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity.” The Education Ministry also expressed concern that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”

The book, published in Hebrew by Am Oved about a year and a half ago, tells the story of Liat, an Israeli translator, and Hilmi, a Palestinian artist, who meet and fall in love in New York, until they part ways for her to return to Tel Aviv and he to the West Bank city of Ramallah. The book was among this year’s winners of the Bernstein Prize for young writers.

A source familiar with the ministry’s approach to the book said that in recent months a large number of literature teachers asked that “Borderlife” be included in advanced literature classes. After consideration of the request, a professional committee headed by Prof. Rafi Weichert from the University of Haifa approved the request. The committee included academics, Education Ministry representatives and veteran teachers. The panel’s role is to advise the ministry on various educational issues, including approval of curriculum.

According to the source, members of the professional committee, as well as the person in charge of literature studies, “thought that the book is appropriate for students in the upper grades of high schools – both from an artistic and literary standpoint and regarding the topic it raises. Another thing to remember is that the number of students who study advanced literature classes is anyhow low, and the choice of books is very wide.”

Another source in the Education Ministry said that the process took a number of weeks, and that “it’s hard to believe that we reached a stage where there’s a need to apologize for wanting to include a new and excellent book into the curriculum.” 
Dorit Rabinyan. Credit David Bachar
Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said: “The minister backs the decision made by the professionals.”

Two senior ministry officials, Eliraz Kraus, who is in charge of society-and-humanity studies, and the acting chair of the pedagogic secretariat, Dalia Fenig, made the decision to disqualify “Borderlife.”
At the beginning of December, the head of literature studies at the ministry, Shlomo Herzig, appealed their decision, but his appeal was recently denied.

“The hasty use, as I see it, of the disqualification of a work of literature from the body of work approved for instruction and included in literature curriculum doesn’t seem acceptable to me,” Herzig wrote to Fenig. “In all my all too many years as head of literature studies, I don’t recall even a single instance that a work of literature recommended by a professional committee by virtue of its authority, after thorough and deep discussion, was not approved for use by the chairman of the pedagogic secretariat.”

Herzig cites a portion of Fenig’s first letter of opposition to the book, which noted concern that it would encourage romantic relations between Jews and Arabs. “The acute problem of Israeli society today is the terrible ignorance and racism that is spreading in it, and not concern over intermarriage,” Herzig wrote. “The idea that a work of literature is liable to be the trigger for romanticizing such a connection in reality is simply ridiculous.” He added that he would expect the Education Ministry to be “a lighthouse of progress and enlightenment and not be dragged along by empty, baseless fears.”

“The most horrible sin that comes to mind in teaching literature (and other subjects) is eliminating all or some work which we don’t favor out of ethical considerations. In such a situation, there is no reason to teach literature at all. If we would have wanted our students to study only ‘respectable’ and conservative works, we would be left without a curriculum, or with a list of shallow and dull works of literature. Stellar international works such as ‘Crime and Punishment’ (the murder of elderly women), ‘Anna Karenina’ (betrayal and adultery), ‘Macbeth’ (the murder of a king and all of his relatives and members of his household) would not [get close] to a literature curriculum in an ethical literary ‘respectable’ world.”

Herzig asked for a rehearing of the issue at the pedagogic secretariat, which Fenig is temporarily heading since Bennett dismissed the previous chairman, Dr. Nir Michaeli. The post of chairman is considered one of the senior positions at the Education Ministry. The rehearing, in which Herzig and members of the professional committee members took part, didn’t reverse the decision to disqualify the book.

On Tuesday, Fenig sent another letter in which she explained the reasons for her decision. She noted that “in the Israeli reality of the Jewish-Arab conflict,” the book “in some classes” could “create the opposite result from what the work is seeing to present,” but dedicated most of her comments to concern over contact between Jews and Arabs.

“The work is contemporary and therefore presents the reader in a very tangible and powerful way with the dilemma of the institutionalization of the love while he [the reader] doesn’t have the full tools to weigh the decisions of such a nature,” Fenig asserted. “The story is based on a romantic motif of impossible prohibited/secret love. Young people of adolescent age tend to romanticize and don’t, in many cases, have the systemic vision that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”

Fenig added: “Works of literature are very powerful. And critical discussion to be held in class, if it is held, will not stand up to the very powerful message in the work that what was right and good was fulfilling the love between Hilmi and Liat.”

She predicted that many parents in the state school system would strongly object to having their children study the novel and would view it as a violation of the relationship of trust between parents and the school system. “It should be remembered that the choice of studying the work is the teachers’ and not the students’. Intimate relations and certainly the open option of institutionalizing [a relationship] through marriage and having a family, even if it doesn’t come to fruition in the story, between Jews and non-Jews is perceived among large segments of society as a threat to a separate identity.”

Rabinyan’s previous publications – “Our Weddings” and “Am Oved” – are taught in schools. According to the author, “It’s a great honor that my creations pierce the souls of young people and affect them. I would be happy if Israeli literature teachers were given the authority to choose whether to teach ‘Borderlife’ as well.”

She added, “I write novels for adults and ‘Borderlife’ also tells the story of intelligent adults. The hero of the story grew up and developed within the borderlines set by Israeli society, among the Jewish majority, the Arab minority and the Palestinian neighbors. Her difficult choice, to turn away from love, is the choice of a young woman whose main Zionist identity is deeply ingrained within her. There is something ironic in the fact that the novel that deals with the Jewish fear of assimilation in the Middle East was eventually rejected by this very fear.”

The Education Ministry said, “Professionals discussed the topic of including the work in the curriculum. After carefully examining all the considerations, and after weighting the advantages and disadvantages, the professionals decided to not include the work in the curriculum for five-unit literature studies,” referring to advanced literature classes.

Literary works that also told the stories of Jews who marry outside the faith include Haim Bialik’s “Behind the Fence,” Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “The Slave,” Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s “The Lady and the Peddler” and Sami Michael in “A Trumpet in the Wadi.” All were and some still are taught in schools.

Israeli ambassador flings Nazi label at Israeli leaders, after latest authoritarian step

And for those who doubt any of this, don’t forget to repeat the mantra ‘Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East’

It comes to a pretty pass when Israel's own ambassador compares the latest piece of racist legislation to that of the Nazis!

Tony Greenstein

Israel forces left-wing NGO’s that receive foreign funding to wear special stickers in the Knesset

Philip Weiss on December 29, 2015

Ambassador Caspi posts image of Hermann Goering to warn Israel about what it is becoming
In Peace Now’s daily news digest, this quote tops the list today:
Quote of the day:
From Peace Now Blog
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are under attack and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

–A quote by Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering, posted by Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, on Facebook, following the passing of the NGO bill.**
Yigal Caspi, image on twitter
Caspi has removed the quotation. He clearly intended the comment as a warning to Israeli leaders. He is now under investigation for the statement. The NGO bill is a new law that forces left leaning human-rights groups that receive substantial funds from overseas to wear labels when they come to the Israeli Knesset. Peace Now continues, “Another hot topic today was the comparisons to Nazis.”
Hebrew University lecturer Dr. Ofer Cassif wrote on Facebook that Justice Minister Shaked is ‘Neo-Nazi scum’ and told Army Radio afterward, “I think it’s fair to compare Israel to Germany in the 1930s, and not to the years of genocide. Cassif pointed to the Im Tirtzu video and Shaked’s NGO law. The article in Ynet noted that the Facebook posts come in the wake of the passing of the NGO bill, but it doesn’t mention that the bill requires the (mostly left-wing) NGO representatives to wear a special badge when they visit the Knesset committees to indicate that they receive more than 50% of their contributions from foreign states. 

Cassif shared on Facebook the post by his colleague Professor Amiram Goldblum, who sharply criticized Shaked for not revealing that she received ‘blood money’ contributions from a Jewish Belgian donor who is now in jail for selling arms to rebels in Sierra Leone. Private donations are not required to be revealed by the bill. Cassif was not alone in his comparison of Israel’s right-wing government to the Nazis. 

Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, posted a quote by a Nazi war criminal that described how fascist governments get their people to follow them, by “denouncing the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” Caspi added: “We’re on the right path…” 

Now, the ambassador faces punishment by the Foreign Ministry. Oddly, the article by Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner did not mention the context of the posting of the quote: the government’s approval of the NGO bill that labels left-wing Israeli human rights organizations.

Let’s be clear: anyone on the American left who used Nazi analogies for Israel was shunned for doing so, but Israeli leaders throw the Nazi stuff around readily. (For good reason; we all know that victims model their abuser when they gain any power.)

The Nazi charges of course go to the treatment of Palestinians. The NGOs all care about Palestinians. In its news list, Peace Now also mentions the latest failure in the investigation of the Duma murderers, Jewish zealots who torched a sleeping Palestinian family in occupied territory last summer. (Peace Now is virtually alone among liberal Zionist groups in recognizing the significance of the Duma murders as evidence of lawlessness, racism, and the fear among Palestinians.)

Many friends are saying that Israel is cracking up. “The end,” “Imploding,” “It’s over,” are two comments I’ve heard in the last day or two. Even J Street seems rattled (“deeply concerned and disappointed”). New Yorker editor David Remnick just got back from Jerusalem and said on the radio this morning that the situation is “tragic” and that Israel bears the greater share of responsibility for the failure of peace talks.

This crisis has long been evident to Palestinians. The knife attacks are of course a symptom of their loss of any faith in the many promises of freedom they have been given. Now the questions are: How long can Israel play out this crisis, as yet another burp in the managed-conflict model of persecution. And having long said that the status quo is unsustainable, will American leaders at last take a stand against apartheid and colonization? Who will speak up here, and show real leadership? Bernie? (And, to be parochial: how many secular American Jews will openly take on their parents and say what they believe in their hearts, that Jewish nationalism, the idea of a “Jewish democracy” established on lands belonging largely to others, is a snare and a delusion?)

Defending the 'Auschwitz Borders' against Unarmed Civilians as Sami Madi is mowed down

Despite Israel's claim that its main opponent in Gaza is Hamas, it continues to kill peaceful protesters against the siege and blockade of Gaza.  In the instance below Israel opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who approached the boundary of Gaza and Israel.  T

In Auschwitz, any prisoner who approached the electrified fences was immediately the target of machine gun fire from the watchtowers and many died as a result.  Israelis call what was formerly known as the Green Line, dividing 1948-1967 Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, the 'Auschwitz borders'.  Little did we know that what they meant by that was the execution of any Palestinian who had the audacity to approach the border.

We mourn  you Sami.

Tony Greenstein

The daughter of Palestinian Sami Madi is comforted by a relative as she cries during her father's funeral in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB / AFP / SAID KHATIB
Shawki Madi still cannot believe the embrace from his father that Friday would be their last.
The 16-year-old boy was playing football with friends on 11 December when a relative came to tell him that his father had been killed and that he should go home.

I did not believe it, but I ran home and found everyone in tears,” Shawki told The Electronic Intifada.

Shawki’s father, Sami Madi, 41, had led a demonstration that day to mark the 48th anniversary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
A relative of Sami Madi mourns over his coffin
Demonstrators headed for the boundary with Israel by al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.
There, Israeli soldiers opened fire. It was not the first such demonstration since the “intifada of the knives” erupted in Jerusalem in October. At least 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since then, most of them during demonstrations.
Palestinians carry the body of Sami Madi during his funeral in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on 12 December.  Yasser Qudih APA images

On this Friday, 17 unarmed people were wounded, including two children and a journalist. Only Sami was killed.

The PFLP had called for a “day of rage” — a common phrase denoting a day of popular demonstration and anger — to commemorate the anniversary, and urged its supporters to prove that Gaza can still play a role even when the focus is elsewhere. Demonstrating at the boundary was meant to show solidarity with those in the West Bank who are engaged in daily confrontations with the Israeli occupation.

That Gaza had played little role in these events disturbed Sami, said his father Shawki, for whom Sami’s son was named. “Demonstrating at the border gave him some relief; it proved that Gaza should not be out of the game,” he said.

The 68-year-old man denounced the deadly use of live fire against the unarmed protesters. “What kind of threat did my son and other protesters pose to heavily armed soldiers?” he asked. He referred to the footage of the demonstration as proof. “All they wanted to do was carry the Palestinian flag.”
Video from a protest in the same area last month shows Israeli forces firing on and critically wounding 22-year-old Muhammad al-Bhaisy after he mounted a Palestinian flag on the boundary fence.

Devoted comrade

Sami was a lifelong PFLP activist. His affiliation to the left wing Palestinian resistance faction began during the first Palestinian intifada in the mid-1980s when as a teenager he would throw stones at vehicles going to and from the Israeli settlements built on Gaza’s land.

He was wounded in both legs at 19 by two Israeli rubber-coated steel bullets and his father remembers him as a “rebellious” youth. “That was observed in the first intifada,” Shawki said.
As a law student, Sami represented the PFLP in universities and colleges across Gaza, where he organized activities to raise the political and the revolutionary awareness of Palestinian students.
In Deir al-Balah, where he was born and raised, his small rented apartment looks shabby. Its foundations were weakened during Israel’s bombardments last year as well as by floods during Gaza’s rainy season.

He is well-known here among other residents. He was the head of the PFLP’s factional committee in Deir al-Balah, a group that responded to emergencies as part of its duties. During Israeli attacks, members of the committee would help evacuate people in areas under attack.

To be effective, they had to be quick. And Sami was fast. According to Aysar Aman, the PFLP representative in central Gaza, Sami’s speed of thought and action was “a lifesaver” for many in Deir al-Balah and other areas.

Aman remembers Sami fondly. “He was a devoted comrade. He provided leadership. He was always effective,” Aman said.

He also used to distribute food parcels for people in remote areas during wars, said Aman, a job that demanded real courage.

“He managed to deliver basic relief for people in wars, even though he knew that he was a potential target,” he added.
Family man

Sami’s funeral saw people from near and far flock to his house to offer condolences, much to the family’s surprise. He was remembered in a speech given by the PFLP’s leader in Gaza, Jamil Mizher, on 12 December, in another rally marking the movement’s 48th anniversary.

Calling him “a defiant fighter whose blood will be a further step on liberation’s path,” Mizher added, “He was a dedicated comrade, and an eloquent orator whose deeds matched his words.”

Sami was also the head of the media committee of the PFLP in which capacity he would produce documentaries about the Palestinian cause. What would prove to be his last production is about the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 — and will be shown as part of the movement’s anniversary commemorations.

Above all, Sami was a family man. The eldest son of Shawki, he was, in the words of his father, “obliging and responsible.”

A former policeman, he drew a wage with the Palestinian Authority with which he would help pay for his siblings’ education.

“We are all indebted to him,” said his brother Mahmoud, for whom Sami paid university tuition fees.
Sami leaves behind seven children, the youngest a two-year-old girl.

“What breaks my heart is that his children have started to call me ‘dad’ instead of ‘grandfather.’ They are not prepared to absorb the ordeal of losing their father,” Shawki said.

Isra Saleh el-Namey is a journalist from Gaza. 

28 December 2015

Jingo - the ideal New Year’s Game Everyone Can Play

See how many excuses for Israel you can score!

(Apologies - Jewdas seem to have missed out the 'new' anti-Semitism and the singling out of Israel from all the other wicked Gentile nations)

The Murder of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police

Meribah Knight December 28, 2015

It’s nice to have a story, from the liberal Jewish paper The Forward, where Jewish people are in the forefront of the fight against racism.  Normally the story is of murders and racism by Jewish people in the context of the Israeli state and how it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to tell the truth.

We see in this case, the murder of an unarmed black teenager, by armed cops who fire 16 bullets into the kid when he is already lying wounded on the ground.

Chicago Police are literally a law unto themselves.  Earlier this year the Guardian revealed in Homan Square revealed: how Chicago police'disappeared' 7,000 people, how people were held in secret, physically abused and tortured, had no access to lawyers, received little or no food or water and had effectively disappeared.  They weren't booked in and given access to a lawyer as would normally happen in a police station or holding centre.  [see Civil lawsuit alleges abuse at Chicago police Homan Square detention center 
All of this has been presided over by Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Mayor, an ultra-Zionist and former Chief of Staff to Obama.  Many and loud are the calls for this reprobate’s resignation.  Under pressure Emanuel has been forced to dismiss Chicago’s Police chief. 

You will see from the two videos above firstly the execution of Laquan McDonald and secondly about the destruction of a crucial video tape from a local Burger King by Police immediately after the shooting and the threats made to witnesses to the shootings, cars stuck in traffic, to disappear.

This is democracy US style.  The judges’ involvement in the case has been to help the Police cover up the murder by allowing them to keep the tape of the murder under wraps until the pressure became too great, not least because the City of Chicago was forced to settle with the family of Laquan McDonald for $5 million.

It also occurred to me that because thousands of people are dying in Syria and Iraq since this incident, that it might be construed, according to the normal Zionist logic, that telling this story is itself anti-American.  Indeed because the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is a Jewish Zionist it is probably anti-Semitic as well since anyone who ever ‘singles out’ Israel for criticism is automatically being anti-Semitic unless they have condemned each and every human rights violation in every other state in the world!  Of course it could just be that Rahm Emanuel got mixed up and thought that Chicago was actually a city in Israel where this type of thing is normal.  It's really hard to say what was going through the Mayor's mind but of one thing I'm sure - it's definitely anti-Semitic to criticise him!

Tony Greenstein

CHICAGO — It all started with a phone call. In early November 2014, Craig Futterman, a civil rights attorney and law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, heard his phone ring. The caller, a source within Chicago law enforcement, told Futterman about the existence of a dash-cam video showing a black teenager being shot by a white police officer. What it depicted, the source said, was shocking.
Homan Square
Weeks earlier, the police department had issued a generic statement about the October 20 shooting of a 17-year-old African American, Laquan McDonald, who police said had lunged at officers with a knife in the city’s Archer Heights neighborhood, a largely Polish enclave in Chicago’s southwest sector. One of the officers shot the teen in the chest, and he was later pronounced dead, the police said. But this video, the source told Futterman, flatly contradicted that account.

“This looked like nothing short of an execution,” Futterman recalled the source saying. “They shot him like he was a dog in the street.”  His source went on to explain that the teen never lunged at the officers but was, in fact, veering away from them when an officer shot him, emptying his pistol and ultimately hitting McDonald 16 times.

Hearing Their Stories: Jamie Kalven (at right, standing) and Craig Futterman (sitting to Kalven’s left) talk with students at Hyde Park Academy about their interactions with police.
Make sure this doesn’t go away, don’t let it get buried, the source told Futterman, who continues to protect this person’s request for anonymity. So shortly after, from his Hyde Park office, Futterman called his longtime colleague, Jamie Kalven, a writer and activist, and they began to dig in.

The two men knew each other well; they’d been working together for nearly two decades on issues of police accountability and social justice. But they also share a heritage: Both hail from Jewish backgrounds, Futterman from the Northern suburbs and Kalven from the city’s South Side. For years they have pushed the Chicago Police Department for transparency and for answers. Today, however, it is not lost on these two Jews that what’s come of their crusade has not only upended the city, but also threatens the political viability of its first Jewish mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

Arrestees often are not processed at the Homan Square facility, in apparent violation of Chicago police directives. Photograph: The Guardian
There is such hostility toward the mayor because of this,” Kalven said, referring to the consequences of their efforts. But, he added, such anger is misguided and shortsighted. Emanuel inherited this problem. “He did not create it. And having his head on a stick is not going to cure it,” Kalven added. “The only way forward…is police reform in Chicago.”

After hearing from Futterman’s tipster, Futterman and Kalven tracked down witnesses, obtained the autopsy of McDonald’s body, gathered confirming accounts and, in a widely distributed statement on December 14, 2014, revealed the existence of the video that the city had sought to keep under wraps.
Rahm Emanuel.
The two men publicly demanded the video’s release. And when the city refused multiple requests, Futterman helped bring a lawsuit against the city, arguing in court that the public had a right to see it.

At the time Futterman initiated his campaign, Emanuel was running for re-election in what turned out to be a very tough race. In February, three days after the incumbent mayor was forced into an unexpected runoff, lawyers for the McDonald family contacted the city seeking $16 million in compensation. By this point, the family lawyers had themselves obtained a copy of the video through a subpoena. Lawyers for the city reached a settlement for $5 million with the family in mid-March, even before the family filed a suit. But the settlement required approval by the City Council, which did not come until April 15—eight days after Emanuel won his runoff.
Image: getty images Rahm Emanuel.
The settlement included a provision requiring that the video of McDonald’s death be kept private until the completion of an investigation.

It was not until November 26, thirteen months after the shooting, that the city produced the video under a judge’s order. It showed exactly what Futterman’s source had described. Just hours before the forced release of the video — and more than one year after the killing — the Cook County state’s attorney announced the indictment of police officer Jason Van Dyke on a charge of first-degree murder for shooting McDonald multiple times.
Image: Patricia Evans  Jamie Kalven.
“There are very few things in life that are black and white, but this pretty much is. It’s an execution,” Futterman said.

Critics have charged that the city fought release of the video at Emanuel’s instigation, to prevent it from exploding his re-election prospects. It’s a charge that the mayor has adamantly and repeatedly denied, saying he himself did not view the video until the public did. Its public release earlier, he said, would have contradicted long-established city policy of holding onto such evidence during the course of a live criminal investigation.

After Van Dyke’s indictment, the policeman’s attorney, Daniel Herber, told the Chicago Tribune
“This is not a murder case,” and that his client has a “valid defense.”

In recent weeks, Futterman and Kalven’s dogged efforts have culminated in massive political fallout. Protesters spilled into the streets of Chicago, disrupting holiday shopping and demanding Emanuel’s resignation. The mayor summarily dismissed the city’s police chief, Garry McCarthy, and the head of the police oversight agency. The Justice Department has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the police department, and some angry residents are demanding a recall election to force the mayor and the state’s attorney out.

Neither state nor city law contain any provisions for a recall election. But the calls to hold Emanuel and other city officials accountable are likely to only intensify with the mortal shootings by Chicago police on Saturday of an unarmed mother of five and a 19-year-old college student, both black, in an apartment building on the city’s predominantly black West Side.

Bettie Jones, 55, was shot through the door of her first-floor apartment, according to her cousin, Evelyn Glover. Reporters on the scene found a single bullet hole in the wooden door to her apartment. Police said Jones was killed by accident and extended their condolences. The college student, Quintonio LeGrier, was shot seven times, according to his mother Janet Cooksey. Family members said police were called after LeGrier, who was said to be suffering from mental illness, threatened his father with a metal baseball bat.

The police department provided scant additional information, saying an unspecified weapon was recovered and no officers were hurt. Police did not say whether there was a video of the incident and provided no information on the officers involved.

Whatever happens now, nearly all agree that Kalven and Futterman’s work helped expose the lack of transparency and failed response by the city, setting off the subsequent firestorm. But for Kalven and Futterman, their work on police accountably in Chicago has been more of a slow burn, spanning 15 years of daily phone calls and twice-weekly meetings, plotting their strategy and next steps. Their partnership has been a fruitful collaboration between a civil rights lawyer and an activist, working to empower the city’s most vulnerable citizens. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Futterman said.

In early November they launched the Citizens Police Data Project, an unparalleled public database of 56,000 misconduct complaint records for more than 8,500 Chicago police officers. It is the result of a decade of diligent work together and a successful 2014 landmark case, Kalven v. Chicago, which held that documents of allegations of police abuse are public information. But the police union is actively fighting the decision, and a judge barred the release of any misconduct records older than four years while the city and union go through arbitration. If the union doesn’t prevail, the database will soon be flooded with the disciplinary history of every Chicago police officer since 1967.
“If we win, having built the database infrastructure, we will make this extraordinary body of information public,” Kalven said. Indeed, no such thing exists in the country.

Kalven, 67, who has deep-set eyes framed by a full head of silver hair and a matching beard, is the son of the renowned lawyer and First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven Jr. The elder Kalven, a professor at the University of Chicago, kept the company of legends such as writer Saul Bellow and legal scholar Hans Zeisel. (He once defended controversial nightclub comedian Lenny Bruce.)
Kalven was raised in a secular Jewish household in the racially integrated Hyde Park neighborhood, where he still lives today with his wife Patsy Evans, a photographer. But it was not until his father died unexpectedly in 1974 of a heart attack at age 60 that Kalven took on a task that became a journey tinged with a sense of religious mission.

At his death, Kalven’s father left behind more than 1,000 pages of unedited manuscript for a book on freedom of speech and civil liberties. Kalven took it upon himself to finish what his father had started and spent the next 14 years on it.

“The work on my father’s book was this intensely talmudic exercise,” Kalven said; so much so that in the afterword of the completed book, titled “A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America,” 
Kalven cited a quote from the Talmud itself: “It is not upon you to finish the work; neither are you free to desist from it.”

Kalven’s work as a self-proclaimed “human rights” journalist and community organizer includes a decade he spent working in Chicago’s public housing projects — primarily Stateway Gardens in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood — turning vacant lots into gardens, cleaning out decrepit apartments, planting scores of trees on its grounds.

It was there, he says, that he saw police misconduct run rampant.

“It took me a while to see how different and disturbing patterns of policing were,” he said. “Once I saw it, I could not not see it. It became more and more central to my work to document and understand.”

Futterman, 49, who is the director of the Police Accountability Clinic at University of Chicago Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, grew up in the staunchly middle-class suburb of Niles, to the city’s northwest, in, he said, “a Jewish home with a strong sense of a Jewish identity.” But Futterman, who stands 6 feet tall with a broad smile and a smoothly shaved head, spent much of his childhood on Chicago’s predominantly black South Side with his grandparents, with whom he was very close. They were the only Jewish family in the mostly African-American Auburn Gresham neighborhood, and Futterman said he was welcomed by neighbors and found an extended family there. He observed for himself the stark realities of the city’s pernicious segregation and socioeconomic inequalities. But there was also a point of connection. “As a Jewish person, I identified far more with discrimination and racism,” he said.

Married now for 21 years to Kenyatta Tatum Futterman, who is African American, Futterman finds that his notions of race and religion are all the more entwined. The couple has two daughters, both of whom celebrated their bat mitzvahs at Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation that is home to the now retired rabbi who married Futterman and his wife. “I have black and Jewish family members. It’s who I am. It’s who my family is. I don’t consider those identities in tension with one another,” he explained.

After working as a Cook County public defender and civil rights lawyer at a boutique firm, Futterman took a teaching job at Stanford University’s law school, where he also directed the school’s public interest program. When he left California in 2000 for a job at the University of Chicago, a mutual friend introduced him to Kalven. The connection was immediate. Futterman was looking to do a citywide project on police misconduct. With Kalven’s help he began to focus on the areas of the city where Kalven, in his work at Stateway Gardens, had seen officers act with impunity.

“Our collaboration came to be very central to that project,” Kalven said. Over time, the combination of Kalven’s reporting skills and Futterman’s legal work resulted in multiple federal and civil rights suits. Futterman and his students would regularly work out of Kalven’s office in a Stateway high rise.

“Craig and Jamie’s values are so similar,” said Sunny Fischer, the former executive director of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and a longtime friend of Kalven’s. “It’s just a fabulous partnership, and it has made a huge difference for the city and people and communities that were abandoned.” 
Fischer currently serves on the governing board of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Kalven and Futterman both say they are concerned with the issue of black-on-black violence, which some point out kills many more people than police shootings. But Futterman said, “That is not the fundamental focus of the work that I do.” Choosing the battle they feel they are in a position to fight, they see their work to be the fight for police accountability and transparency.

Lately, Futterman and Kalven have been working around the clock. There is so much more to be done, and both are acutely aware that this tsunami of attention — from MSNBC, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker and Politico — must be harnessed.

Futterman reminds me in our interview that the tip about the McDonald video “is far from the first call I have gotten like this.” What’s more, the police union is fighting the release of the police records Futterman and Kalven fought for, and won, in court. The union is citing a provision of its contract with the city that says misconduct files should be destroyed after five or seven years, depending on the category of the file.

In other words, in the midst of a DOJ inquiry into the city’s police department, its history dating back to 1967 is at risk of going up in flames. “The stakes are really high,” Kalven said. “It’s like the institution blinding itself.”

The Fraternal Order of Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

And so, Kalven and Futterman continue their fight. Both admit they have had little sleep and even less time to process and reflect on what they’ve done, or how their work has pushed this city over a difficult but necessary precipice toward honesty and transparency, and meaningful reform.

But there was a time — in the midst of fighting for the video and pleading McDonald’s case to the public — when Futterman and Kalven felt like the city was stuck in a cycle of denial and dishonesty. 
“Part of what this case revealed is the very nature of the norm,” Futterman said. “Immediately the machine of denial goes into effect and the code of silence goes into effect, and this case is an example of that.”

Today both men see an important shift — post-Ferguson, post-Baltimore, post-Staten Island, post-Chicago.

“Collectively, in Chicago and around the nation, we are in a very different place,” Futterman said, citing the work of young organizers and massive protests after the killings of black men by police or in their custody.

It’s “forcing all of us to grapple with the everyday realities and police abuse in black and brown communities,” he said. “It’s forcing us to care.”

Contact Meribah Knight at feedback@forward.com