Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
you know this is all just a deniability exercise, to shield the US itself from 9/11 responsibility, otherwise it wouldn’t be happening
Saudi Arabia Must Face 9/11 Victims in Revived Suit
Christie Smythe, Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg ‘News’, Dec 20 2013
Lawsuits claiming Saudi Arabia aided AQ and should be held liable for the 9/11 attack was revived by a US appeals court in a decision that allows victims and their families another chance to seek compensation from the kingdom. The US Court of Appeals in New York yesterday said a lower-court judge “rested on an error of law” in rejecting a request to reopen the cases against the country’s government and an affiliated charity. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina won a ruling dismissing them from the lawsuits on the grounds that a foreign government is immune from suit. Subsequently, the appeals court made inconsistent rulings on whether the terrorism claims made in the case fall under sovereign-immunity rule, according to yesterday’s opinion. The lower-court judge should have granted a request to reopen the cases to allow the inconsistency to be addressed, the appeals court said. The inconsistent rulings caused “a disparity” between two cases “where none should ever have existed,” the appeals court said. “We conclude that the circumstances of this case are extraordinary,” warranting its reopening the three-judge panel said in the ruling. The case will be returned to the lower-court judge for consideration as to whether it should move forward. Michael Kellogg, a lawyer for the KSA, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment on the ruling. Jerry Goldman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement:
This decision is soundly grounded and restores this case to the proper procedural posture. This is a big step forward in the process of obtaining fair justice for the victims of this tragedy.
Goldman’s clients include family members of John O’Neill, a former federal counter-terrorism agent who had led investigations of Osama bin Laden and was working as the chief of security for New York’s World Trade Center when the attacks occurred. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest source of funds for militant Islamic groups such as Afghanistan’s Taliban and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, then-Sec State Hillary Clinton said in a 2009 cable obtained by Wikileaks. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most “significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” according to the cable. The case is In Re Terrorist Attacks on Sep 11 2001, 12-1318, US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Manhattan.
one thing about fuckin’ hasbara, it’s always the fuckin’ same, and it’s always equally fabricated for effect
Egyptian security forces outgunned by Islamic terrorists in Sinai
Amos Harel, Haaretz, Dec 18 2013
The Egyptian security forces’ battle against Islamic terrorist organizations in Sinai has resulted in twice as many casualties among the former than among the latter. In slightly under six months, the security services have had 260 fatalities in Sinai, compared to only 131 for the terrorist organizations. Senior Israeli defense officials told Haaretz that Egypt’s campaign in Sinai, which began after the Egyptian military ousted the MB government in early July, started off as a pinpoint operation, but has now morphed into routine, long-term counter-terrorism activity. But the Egyptians are continuing to take a hard line against the terrorist organizations, the officials said, and whenever they discover one of these group’s bases, they bulldoze or torch the facilities.
This week, three terrorists were killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces in Sinai. Units from Egypt’s Second Army, which operate in northern Sinai, are considered more aggressive than those of the Third Army, which operate in the southern part of the peninsula. Israeli officials said their impression is that Cairo’s military rulers intend to continue the campaign for at least the next several months. Nevertheless, the terrorist organizations, whose members are drawn mainly from Sinai’s Bedouin population, but also include other Egyptian and foreign operatives, are managing to hit back hard at the Egyptian security forces. Their principal methods are shooting attacks, suicide bombings and car bombs, deployed against both army bases and convoys. They apparently prefer to focus on so-called quality attacks, meaning attacks that are less frequent but more deadly, causing a relatively high number of casualties, instead of carrying out a higher volume of smaller, less effective attacks. Dozens of terrorist groups that draw their inspiration from Osama bin Laden are currently operating in Sinai. A significant number of them are united in a loose organizational front that calls itself Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. A separate coalition known as Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis has a similar ideology, but is centered in the Gaza Strip and comprised primarily of Palestinians. Aknaf aims most of its Sinai-based activity at Israel, and Gaza’s Hamas-run government generally turns a blind eye to it. Though there is some coordination between these two coalitions, the Egyptian security forces are focusing mainly on organizations that belong to the Ansar front. Ayman al-Zawahiri has given Ansar his blessing.
The generals now running Egypt attach fairly high priority to the operation in Sinai. Earlier this month, General Sisi visited the peninsula to watch an exercise conducted by units of the Second Army. He also met with leaders of the local Bedouin tribes and warned them not to let their young men join terrorist organizations affiliated with radical Islam. Cairo also continues to exert pressure on Gaza’s Hamas government, accusing both it and other Palestinian groups in the Strip, such as Islamic Jihad, of involvement in terrorist activity in Sinai. The Egyptians have repeatedly arrested terrorists in Sinai who underwent training at bases in Gaza. They have also seized arms, including mortar bombs, that they claim were manufactured in Gaza. Cairo has exploited these occasions to bolster its deterrence against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and to warn them that it will intensify its already harsh crackdown on the Strip if they continue supporting terrorist groups in Sinai. Israel’s defense establishment has been favorably impressed by the Egyptians’ efforts to stop the smuggling from Sinai to Gaza via the tunnels under Rafah. Egyptian forces have flooded, blown up or otherwise destroyed hundreds of tunnels. Nevertheless, it seems that a comparatively small number of tunnels are still operating. These tunnels are being used to smuggle both consumer goods and arms into Gaza, including components used in manufacturing the medium-range rockets held by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israeli officials say Egypt has deliberately turned a blind eye to these tunnels in order to leave open a lifeline for the supply of sought-after goods beyond what is brought into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.
this is all absolute shit, and j stein is a normal confuit for disinfo like this, but it illustrates how “families of hostages” pick up the hasbara ball and dribble it forward
The FBI’s Own Hostage Crisis (drastically edited, cos you already know the context – RB)
Jeff Stein, Newsweek, Dec 20 2013
Levinson family attorney David McGee, who spent 17 years investigating organized crime in the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, tells Newsweek that publication of the AP story on Levinson’s disappearance was “kind of a relief.” For years the family had known of Levinson’s work for the CIA, McGee says, explaining:
After Bob disappeared, we searched his computer and found documents that connected him to the CIA. Those were not conclusive in themselves, but in those documents we found emails and addresses. My paralegal hacked the email accounts, and we found day-to-day back-and-forth correspondence with the CIA. We turned the documents over to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which summoned CIA officials for an explanation. They at first bald-faced lied about it. They said he had no connection with the CIA. Then the committee confronted them with the documentation we had, and they went, ‘Oh boy, we have to go back and do an investigation.’ At that point, the CIA launched an investigation.
McGee says Levinson was investigating high-level Iranian corruption, and that sounds like CIA work. McGee tells Newsweek:
At one point, the Iranians virtually admitted they had him, by secretly haggling with Washington over the procedures for his release, including the requirement that they would not have to admit that they’d snatched him. According to conversations I’ve had with US investigators, they demanded that Sec State Hillary Clinton make a statement that he’s not in Iran, that he’s in some third country other than Iran, such as the tribal areas of Pakistan. There were some negotiations. The negotiators thought she had agreed to do that. But at the last minute, she decided not to, and said he’s somewhere in south-west Asia, which was not the statement that the negotiators had agreed on. And so that deal fell through. Now, I’m not criticizing the Sec State. I understand there are a lot of reasons you don’t want to allow the Iranians to pressure the US into lying to the world, and I’m not prepared to make a moral judgment about that. But what that demonstrates is that the Iranians had decided that they wanted to create the impression that he was being held by someone else.
Hillary Clinton’s office declined comment, but a US diplomatic source cast doubt on McGee’s account. While McGee doesn’t blame US diplomats for failing to solve the faction-ridden Iranian regime, he heaps scorn on the FBI for its role in the affair, saying:
While some agents and officials worked diligently to find Levinson and get him home, the bureau’s efforts overall ranged from neglect to insufficient to absolute obstruction. The FBI has never interviewed some of the key witnesses. An example: the first offer we got to swap Bob came in an email from a guy named Omar, who sent the offer to several people whose email addresses were on Levinson’s phone. The FBI has never interviewed those guys about their contacts with Bob. Never talked to them. In addition, Bob worked undercover on Iranian issues with a Russian gentleman of some dubious background. This latter gentleman had been dealing undercover with Iranian nationals on very high priority issues for the CIA. The guy was perfectly willing to cooperate. He had great information, but the FBI refused to interview him because he was in Canada. Only after months of pressure from the family did the FBI agree to interview him.
McGee says of the FBI:
Their efforts have been sporadic. They have staffed it poorly. For years, this was staffed by junior agents. The junior agents were controlled by management. The management limited what they could do. Off the record, they would tell us, ‘We’re frustrated. We can’t do the things we want to do, that we think are necessary for this.’
An FBI spokesman declined to comment, but a high former FBI official who was intensely involved in in the Levinson affair tells Newsweek:
We worked it hard and we wanted so bad to bring him home. Getting Levinson back would have been our finest accomplishment.
Pilgrims Attacked Again in Iraq; 73 Killed, 121 Wounded
Margaret Griffis, AntiWar.com, Dec 19 2013
As the Arbain observance draws nearer, Shi’ite pilgrims remain easy targets for insurgents. The pilgrims often travel to Karbala on foot, making them exceptionally vulnerable. In addition, Iraqis will often provide refreshments to traveling pilgrims, giving insurgents effortless access to large groups of people. At least 73 people were killed today, and another 121 were wounded. Most of the casualties occurred between Baghdad and Karbala. In Baghdad, 20 people were killed and 40 more were wounded in a suicide attack at refreshment stand set-up for pilgrims traveling through the Doura district; one victim was a former Reuters reporter. Gunmen killed a civilian. A bomb in Radwaniya killed two people and wounded seven more. Security forces killed four gunmen and then two more in separate operations. A suicide bomber attacked pilgrims in Yusufiya, where he killed eight people and wounded 32 more. Nine people were killed in a suicide attack targeting ethnic Turkmen from Kirkuk who were traveling through Latifiya, and at least 23 more of them were wounded by the bomber. Gunmen in Abu Ghraib attacked a Sahwa leader’s home where they killed him and five other people, including at least two children. Two soldiers were killed and four more were wounded in a roadside blast in Mushahda. Three policemen were killed and another one was wounded in a bombing in Dour. Gunmen killed a Sahwa member and wounded two policemen on a highway near Qayara. One person was killed and two more were wounded in a small arms attack in Zaidan. In Mosul, gunmen killed an engineer. A taxi driver was gunned down as he washed his car. A policeman was killed and three others were wounded in shooting. A roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded three others in Baaj. Gunmen killed two policemen in Tikrit. In Yathrib, a roadside bomb killed a civilian and wounded another. Gunmen in Shura killed a policeman. A policeman was shot dead in Shirqat. A bomb injured three policemen in Samarra. In Ramadi, two gunmen were killed when security forces tried to arrest them. An unreported number of insurgents were killed in a security operation on the Euphrates River near Amiriyat al-Falluja.
Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges: A Quick Lesson in Alarmism
Nima Shirazi, Wide Asleep in USAia, Dec 14 2013
On Dec 12, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on last month’s interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, which means there was a tremendous amount of ignorant bluster, conventional wisdom, wishful thinking, staggering ignorance, and shameless posturing for lobbyist money on display. In other words, Congress critturs were speaking about Iran. While nearly every single word uttered by the Treasury Dept’s David Cohen and the State Dept’s Under-Sec Wendy Sherman could and should be fact-checked and debunked, in the interest of time and sanity, I will address only a single statement that cried out for correction. Maybe I will get to more another time. Midway through the hearing, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee claimed Iran is “wreaking havoc” in the Middle East, lamented that the US is “ceding much of Middle Eastern activities to them,” and expressed his frustration with the recent deal and any prospect of alleviating sanctions for fear that Iran may not be seen as a “rogue nation,” but rather “part of the international community.” Corker further opined that the P5+1 deal has “no sacrifice on their part whatsoever, none. They’re still spinning 19,000 centrifuges every single day.” This has recently become a canard in mainstream, usually hawkish, discourse on Iran’s nuclear program. In October, Joel Rubin of the Ploughshares Fund, who is described by VoA as an “Iran expert,” said that Iran “does have 19,000 centrifuges spinning.” Following the release of yet another speculative study by career alarmist David Albright and his ISIS, and an error-riddled USA Today article noting that Iran currently has “19,000 centrifuges” installed in its two enrichment facilities, this talking point gained even more traction. On Oct 29, neocon operative Kenneth Timmerman wrote in the Washington Times:
The regime now has 19,000 centrifuges, including several thousand high-performance, new-generation machines they are still testing, and has already amassed a stockpile of uranium that, with further enrichment, is enough for roughly 10 bombs.
In late November, Sarah Stern, head of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an extreme right-wing Zionist messaging organization that proudly describes itself as an “unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-USAian think tank,” and who serves as an advisor to creepy propaganda outfit The Clarion Fund, claimed:
For Iran, the interim accord keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges spinning.
A graphic on the EMET website states that, as part of the deal, “Iran gets 19,000 cylinders spinning enriching uranium.” On Dec 1, Senator Jim Inhofe called the deal a “reckless gamble” that, among other things he doesn’t like, “allows it to keep its nearly 19,000 centrifuges spinning.” The very next day, K T McFarland, a Fox News contributor and former aide to Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan, declared:
It’s just crazy. There are 19,000 centrifuges spinning in Iran. That’s twice as many centrifuges in Iran as there are Starbucks in USAia.
Spooky, right? Well, they’re wrong. According to the most recent assessment from mid-November by the IAEA, which conducts routine inspections of its nuclear program, Iran is reported to have installed roughly 19,000 centrifuges in its two enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. But they’re not all spinning. Not even close. The IAEA even provided a handy little graph along with its report showing the difference between what Iran has installed and what is actually operational. At most, Iran has about 10,000 operable centrifuges, all of which produce enriched uranium far below levels required for a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the IAEA notes:
Not all of the centrifuges fed with UF6 may have been working.
Moreover, Iran’s Natanz facility is designed for a fully operational capacity of 50,000 centrifuges. So far, fewer than 15,500 centrifuges have been installed and fewer than 9,000 are actually functional. Of the 2,710 centrifuges installed at the Fordow site, only about 700 are operational. Roughly 1,000 second-generation centrifuges have also been installed, but not a single one has yet been used. So, while Bob Corker and the rest sound pretty serious when they fret about Iran’s 19,000 “spinning” centrifuges, they’re overselling what Iran is actually doing in order to gin up their required hysteria. What a surprise.
Kirk-Menendez-Schumer Wag the Dog Act of 2014
Jim Lobe, Dec 18 2013
Copies of the bill that Sens Kirk, Menendez, and Schumer hope to introduce in the Senate this week, presumably to be pressed for passage after the holiday recess, are circulating today around Washington, and, as predicted, it is clearly designed to sabotage last month’s first-phase deal (the Joint Plan of Action) on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as prospects for a final agreement. The bill is called the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013, although I would prefer to call it the Wag the Dog Act of 2014, given the implicit discretion it gives to Bibi Netanyahu to commit the US to war with Iran. Its key provisions, as described by the sponsors, are laid out at the end of this post. A couple of very quick observations about the bill first:
- Despite its prospective application, it is definitely a sanctions bill and thus violates at least the spirit if not the letter of the Joint Plan of Action.
- It requires that any final agreement include the dismantling of all of Iran’s enrichment capabilities, a condition which Iran has made clear repeatedly is a non-starter.
- As noted below, it expresses a “Sense of Congress” that “USAia will have Israel’s back if Israel acts in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” not against an actual or imminent attack but against “Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” which, so far as Israel and the co-sponsors are concerned, Iran already has. More specifically, the bill states:
If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the US Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the US and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.
At least, Congress will have to approve an authorization to use military force (AUMF) before it can actually be employed.
- The two main co-sponsors of this legislation are also two of the biggest recipients of campaign funding from “pro-Israel” (the hasbara preference is “pro-Israeli” – RB) political action committees (PACs) associated with AIPAC in the US Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website. By a wide margin, Kirk was the biggest recipient of pro-Israel PAC money in Congress since 2002. In his most recent campaign (2012), Menendez received more than $340k from pro-Israel PACs, beating out all other Senate candidates. Schumer, a major rainmaker for other Democratic candidates (which poses a very serious challenge to the Obama administration in keeping his party in line on any vote on this bill) ranked fifth in his 2010 race at more than $260k, far behind Kirk, the year’s winner at nearly $640k. This bill was approved by AIPAC and is thus as close to the position of the Israeli government as its followers here believe will be politically palatable. Saudi Arabia will also be pleased.
There will likely be much more meticulous analyses of the Wag the Dog Act of 2014 that will no doubt point up other highly problematic elements, but here’s the summary of the bill that’s circulating on Capitol Hill today:
Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013
I. Findings and Sense of Congress. The bill expresses the following key principles:
- The Government of Iran must not be allowed to develop or maintain nuclear weapon capabilities, and all instruments of power and influence of the US should remain on the table to prevent the Government of Iran from developing nuclear weapon capabilities;
- The Government of Iran does not have an absolute or inherent right to enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and technologies under the NPT;
- A violation by Iran of any interim or final agreement with respect to the nuclear program of Iran should result in the immediate imposition of economic sanctions;
- The US should continue to enforce sanctions on the Government of Iran and its terrorist proxies for their continuing sponsorship of terrorism, ongoing abuses of human rights, and actions in support of Assad in Syria; and
- USAia will have Israel’s back if Israel acts in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
II. New Contingency-Based Sanctions to Protect Against Iranian Deception. The bill does not violate the Joint Plan of Action. New sanctions would only be imposed if Iran violates the interim agreement or does not reach a final agreement regarding its nuclear program. Such deceptive Iranian behavior would be met with the following new sanctions:
- Sanctions on Condensates, Fuel Oil and other Unfinished Oils from Iran. Requires a significant reduction in the import of all petroleum products extracted, produced or refined in Iran, including condensates, fuel oils and other unfinished oils on top of crude oil.
- Reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum to de minimis levels. To avoid sanctions, countries must at a minimum reduce their purchases of Iranian-based petroleum products by 30% within one year and further reduce purchases to de minimis levels within two years.
- Strategic Sector Sanctions on Iran’s Engineering, Mining, and Construction Sectors. Expands business and financial sanctions targeting Iran’s strategic economic sectors to include Iran’s engineering, manufacturing, and mining sectors.
- Sanctions on Foreign Exchange Transaction by Designated Iranian Actors. Imposes sanctions with respect to transactions in foreign currencies with or for the Central Bank of Iran, a designated financial institution, or a person that is part of a strategic sector of Iran.
- Sanctions on Countries Illicitly Diverting Goods to Iran. Authorizes sanctions against countries permitting diversion of goods and services to Iran that may be used to make a material contribution to Iran’s development of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons; ballistic missile or advanced conventional weapons capabilities; support for terrorism; or a strategic sector of Iran.
- Sanctions on Human Rights Abusers, Sanctions Evaders & Other Illicit Actors. Requires visa denial and asset blocking of those enabling Iran to evade sanctions, as well as senior officials of the Office of the Supreme Leader, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the Council of Ministers, Ministries of Defenses and Justice, and others.
III. Suspension of Sanctions: Explaining the Contingencies. During the first 180 days of negotiations, the President can suspend the sanctions contained in this bill so long as he certifies to Congress every 30 days that:
- Iran is complying with and transparently, fully, and verifiably implementing the provisions of the Joint Plan of Action and Iran has not breached the terms of or any commitment made pursuant to the Plan;
- any suspension or relief of sanctions provided to Iran pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action are temporary, reversible, and proportionate to the specific and verifiable steps taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and related weaponization activities;
- Iran has not directly, or through a proxy, supported, financed, planned or otherwise carried out an act of terrorism against the US or US persons or property;
- Iran has not conducted a ballistic missile test with a range exceeding 500 km; and
- the suspension of sanctions is vital to the national security of the US.
After these 180 days are up, 2 additional 30 day periods:
- If the President certifies the above and certifies that a final agreement is imminent (and that such agreement will fully and verifiably dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities, the heavy water reactor and production plant at Arak, and any nuclear weapon components and technology), sanctions can be delayed for another 30 days;
- Then, if the President certifies the above AND certifies that such a final agreement with Iran is still imminent, sanctions can be delayed for another 30-day period.
If after this total period of 240 days there still is no final agreement with Iran as described above, sanctions are re-imposed, but President can waive sanctions for 120 more days. The bill provides the President with four 30-day national security waivers to delay the sanctions, ending at the 1-year mark from the start date of this bill. Sanctions must be reimposed thereafter. If at any time the President cannot certify the criteria listed above (that is, Iran violates the interim agreement or no final agreement is imminent after 180 days):
- sanctions waived or suspended under the interim agreement shall be reimposed; and
- the new sanctions in this bill must be implemented.
If a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program is reached then, subject to a Joint Resolution of Congressional Disapproval, the President may suspend new sanctions for one-year if he certifies to the Congress that a final and verifiable agreement has been reached with Iran that will
- dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities, the heavy water reactor and production plant at Arak, and any nuclear weapon components and technology, such that Iran is precluded from a nuclear breakout capability and prevented from pursuing both uranium and plutonium pathways to a nuclear weapon;
- bring Iran into compliance with all UNSCRs related to Iran’s nuclear program, including 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), and 1929 (2010), with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UNSC’s consideration of matters relating to Iran’s nuclear program;
- resolve all issues of past and present concern with the IAEA, including possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program;
- permit continuous, around the clock, on-site inspection, verification, and monitoring of all suspect facilities in Iran, including installation and use of any compliance verification equipment requested by the IAEA, so that any effort by Iran to produce a nuclear weapon would be quickly detected; and
- require Iran’s full implementation of and compliance with its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, including modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to the Agreement, ratification and implementation of the Protocol Additional to the Agreement Between Iran and the IAEA for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, done at Vienna Dec 18 2003 (commonly referred to as the ‘‘Additional Protocol’’), and Iran’s implementation of steps in addition to the Additional Protocol that include IAEA verification of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing facilities, including raw materials and components, and Iran’s uranium mines and mills.
If Congress enacts the Joint Resolution of Congressional Disapproval, any sanctions suspended under a final agreement would be re-imposed. Additional 1-Year Suspension Periods. If Congress does not disapprove, the President must still renew the suspension of sanctions every year by certifying that Iran is complying with the final agreement criteria described above.
IV. Expedited Processing of Religious Minorities Fleeing Iran. Reauthorizes the Lautenberg Amendment, which expired earlier this year, until Sep 30 2014.
You can find a copy of the bill, as introduced Thursday, here. Co-sponsors include Kirk, Schumer, Graham, Cardin, McCain, Casey, Rubio, Coons, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Ayotte, Begich, Corker, Pryor, Collins, Landreiu, Moran, Gillibrand, Roberts, Warner, Johanns, Hagan, Cruz, Donnelly and Blunt. The White House and all those who want to save the diplomatic track have their work cut out for them. The White House Thursday said it will veto the measure if it passes Congress. This could be an epic battle.
Was any of this legal?
Marcy Wheeler, Graun, Dec 19 2013
Obama’s NSA review panel makes it clear that many of the things NSA has been doing are bad from a policy perspective. But the real question we should be asking is: are they legal? Early leaks about the review panel suggested it had found all the NSA’s (and other agencies they imply, such as FBI) activities to be legal. That’s based, in part, on this statement:
Significantly, and in stark contrast to the pre-FISA era, the Review Group found no evidence of illegality or other abuse of authority for the purpose of targeting domestic political activity. This is of central importance, because one of the greatest dangers of government surveillance is the potential to use what is learned to undermine democratic governance. On the other hand, as discussed later in this report, there have been serious and persistent instances of non-compliance in the Intelligence Community’s implementation of its authorities. Even if unintentional, these instances of non-compliance raise serious concerns about the capacity of the ‘intelligence Community’ to manage its authorities in an effective and lawful manner.
But notice that statement did not say the panel had found everything to be legal. On the contrary, it applied that judgment only to illegality or abuse “for the purposes of targeting domestic political activity.” That leaves open a whole slew of potential abuse, even illegal activities, targeting USAians for reasons outside of politics. That’s what the report should have tackled, but it didn’t. Instead, we have tame sounding “policy recommendations” as if this is all just a matter of political disagreement over the budget or farm bill. A later statement on the phone dragnet is equally ambiguous:
We have not uncovered any official efforts to suppress dissent or any intent to intrude into people’s private lives without legal justification.
Fine, but this leaves the possibility of unofficial efforts to suppress dissent or intruding into people’s lives with dodgy legal justification. Perhaps one signal the report won’t comment on legality is it is conspicuously silent about Bush 43′s “presidential” wiretap program, which top DoJ officials refused to authorize as lawful in 2004, in its section on legal issues. Later in the report, it briefly notes that Bush’s program operated outside FISA. Funny, that’s the same thing some of Obama’s programs currently do. Beyond the emphasis on the “serious and persistent instances of non-compliance,” there are other moments where the report points to issues of concern. For example, the report emphasizes that EO 12333, the executive order used both to authorize Bush’s illegal surveillance program and much of the dragnet currently, only governs “foreign intelligence activities not governed by FISA.” Yet the administration appears to have continued internet metadata collection more broadly under EO 12333. Furthermore, according to a WaPo report, the NSA has taken data (that is governed by Section 702 of FISA) from Google and Yahoo cables overseas. The report stresses the limits of EO 12333, but another way to read into that is that it suggests the executive branch continues to overstep it authority. Then there are places where the report airs questions about the legal interpretations the executive branch (and the FISA court) adopted, noting that critics argue the phone dragnet rulings have done “violence” to the meaning of the word “relevant,” but then insisting that the review’s “charge is not to resolve these questions, but to offer guidance from the perspective of sound public policy as we look to the future.” Yet elsewhere, the report states:
The 2005-06 Patriot Act standard leaves too little authority in the FISC to define the appropriate parameters of section 215 orders.
For these reasons, some of the areas where the report remains silent are the most intriguing. One example: when the report discusses the kinds of things, in addition to phone metadata, the government can collect under Section 215, it lists some possibilities, including bank records, credit card records, medical records, travel records, internet search records, and email records. It claims:
The government has expressly disclaimed any interest in such mass collection of personal information under section 215.
Yet we know the government has used section 215 to collect purchase records of explosives precursors. And we know the FISC (the FISA Court) has imposed minimization procedures on more and more of the government’s 215 orders in recent years, doing so for 176 orders last year, which is the hallmark of some kind of bulk program. The report may say the government doesn’t collect these items, but it’s collecting something, probably a lot of somethings, in bulk, and the report warns the president that such bulk collections “seem both unrealistic and unsound as a matter of public policy.” The same applies even more with this recommendation:
Governments should abstain from penetrating the systems of financial institutions and changing the amounts held in accounts there.
Huh? There have not yet been any allegations from the Snowden reporting that the NSA has done this, though it has hacked into financial data to collect it. And the recommendation is presented as a kind of best practices that all governments should adhere to, not something that would apply solely to the US. But it does raise questions about whether the review panel knows that such activities have been going on. It’s not at all clear this would be illegal; just unwise. There are hints like this in a number of places in the report, all presented as a discussion of policy. That of course permits the president to accept or reject these recommendations, as a matter of policy. But underneath it all, there’s a warning that the dragnets and the president’s EO 12333 activities may be wrong both on policy and on legal grounds.
President’s Review Group Suggests NSA Currently Acts as a Domestic Security Service
Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel, Dec 19 2013
One amusing tension in the NSA Review Group report is that its members clearly have been briefed on some things that haven’t been reported in the Snowden stories (yet), but it can’t tell us what those are. Which is why I’m curious what’s behind the following language, offered in support of the recommendation to clearly designate NSA as a foreign intelligence organization and presented with two other things we know NSA does.
It should not be a domestic security service, a military command, or an information assurance organization. Like other agencies, there are situations in which NSA does and should provide support to the Dept of Justice, the Dept of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement entities. But it should not assume the lead for programs that are primarily domestic in nature.
That seems to suggest that, in addition to supporting DHS, DoJ, and other law enforcement entities (cough, DEA, as well as probably Secret Service in its cyber-role), NSA takes the lead on certain issues that are primarily domestic. I do hope we’ll learn what this refers to. Because if NSA is operating domestically, maybe to police Internet Protocol, it will be scandalous news.
the clear implication of this (xinhua) is that IDF now has a policy of fabricating claims of incoming fire, in order to murder palestinians
Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian in second overnight incident
Xinhua, Dec 19 2013
RAMALLAH – Israeli soldiers killed a member of the Palestinian security forces in the early hours of Thursday in Qalqilya in the West Bank, just several hours after a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Jenin. According to the Israeli military, the unit was involved in counter-terrorism activity, searching for weapons and other war materials. During the activity fire was opened toward the Israeli soldiers. The soldiers fired back and killed Saleh Yassin, 28, a member of the Palestinian Security Forces. However, the Palestinian sources denied the Israeli reports and said source of fire came only from the Israeli side. This incident occurs just hours after in Jenin, one Palestinian was killed and five others were injured under similar circumstances. The soldiers were fired at, according to the IDF spokesperson, and fired back killing one Palestinian and injuring five. Military sources claim that there is an escalation in the response of the Palestinian to the Israeli military routine activities in the West Bank. A military source told Israeli news site Walla:
Before, these incidents would end with stone-throwing. Now, it’s quite possible they will open fire at us.
This confirms that an IED of some sort was thrown in Jenin the previous night, and also that the target of that raid was a Hamas member:
Palestinian killed as Israel raids Jenin camp
Ma/an, Dec 18 2013
JENIN – One Palestinian was killed and at least six others were injured after Israeli forces raided Jenin refugee camp and entered the house of a Hamas leader and prisoner. Locals said undercover Israeli forces arrived at Abu al-Hayja’s home in a car with Palestinian license plates before clashing with Palestinians who noticed them. Palestinians threw an IED at the Israeli forces, who called for reinforcements. Around 25 military vehicles arrived in the camp and fired live ammunition at Palestinians, injuring three people critically. Two people were shot in the stomach and one in the head. One person died on the way to hospital, an Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an. She said military medics were treating the injured Palestinians after the incident. Witnesses said Israeli forces were refusing to allow ambulances near other injured people. The spokeswoman said Palestinians fired at army personnel, who retaliated in self-defense. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said:
Operations like this are aimed at preventing the terrorists from reaching our towns and abducting our civilians and attacking Israeli commuters on the road.
stupid white men (in UK we’re having a rumpus about “was jesus white?” these ppl would doubtless say, “of course”)
Racist ringleaders 2013: Israel’s war on Africans intensifies
David Sheen, Electronic Intifada, Dec 19 2013
Twelve months have passed since the Electronic Intifada published “The dirty dozen: Israel’s racist ringleaders.” My article was a catalogue of the Israeli officials and cultural figures most responsible for the persecution of the country’s non-Jewish African population. Over the course of 2013, the war Israel is waging against African asylum-seekers has not abated. Sadly, in many respects, it has ramped up in intensity. However, some who have led the charge to expel Africans from the country have been replaced by fresh faces. National elections in January and the resultant make-up of the government pushed two of Israel’s biggest racists out of the limelight. Michael Ben Ari started his own splinter party, Strong Israel, which failed to garner enough votes to secure him a seat in the Knesset, from which he could rail against Africans. And Eli Yishai’s Shas party was not invited to join Netanyahu’s new ruling coalition, leaving Yishai without the interior ministry, which wields great power over the lives of asylum-seekers. But Ben Ari passed the torch to a young acolyte who has carried on his incitement campaign and forged an alliance with the new interior minister. The man who replaced Eli Yishai has continued his quest to drive all African asylum-seekers out of the country, with the same fervor, and greater media savvy.
10. Yehuda Bauer — academic
After leading Israeli politicians riled a south Tel Aviv crowd of thousands into a frenzy of hatred, igniting an anti-African pogrom on May 23 2012, the international media finally took note of the government’s war on asylum-seekers. The plight of African asylum-seekers in Israel popped onto the radar of human rights advocates outside Israel and the world began to wonder why a country ostensibly created to provide a safe haven to refugees was so determined to expel a new group of asylum-seekers. To quell this line of questioning, Professor Yehuda Bauer spearheaded a group of public figures who issued a petition calling upon the world to relieve Israel of its obligations to the approximately 60,000 African asylum-seekers living in the country. As a professor of Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), an academic adviser to Yad Vashem and a winner of the Israel Prize in 1998, Bauer commands a great deal of respect. In Dec 2012, Bauer leveraged this prestige to defend Israel’s treatment of asylum-seekers, saying that it has “an impressive record sheltering refugees from around the world” and to admonish “the nations of the world to accept their responsibility to share the burden.” Bauer’s efforts to whitewash history and blame every country other than Israel for the crimes being committed by the Netanyahu government is particularly pernicious when one considers the actual facts. In its entire 65-year history, Israel has granted refugee status to less than 200 persons, according to MK Zehava Galon writing in Israel ha-Yom. Only 8 of the 990 who submitted asylum applications to Israel in 2011 were recognized as refugees, according to Haaretz: less than 1%. Of the Africans that have arrived in recent years seeking asylum, less than 1% have received refugee status. In the rest of the world, 43% of Sudanese and 81% of Eritreans that request asylum receive refugee status. The vast majority of Africans in Israel hail from Sudan and Eritream according to the Israel Knesset Research and Information Center’s own report from last month (see pp 52-53). Also, the Middle Eastern countries have done much for asylum-seekers as a whole, taking in millions of refugees (Annex to UNHCR Statistical Yearbook 2012, Table 3, p 79). But Israel leads the world by far in the ratio between the number of asylum-seekers living in the country that are recognized by the UN, to the number of asylum-seekers living in the country that are recognized as refugees by the country itself. In other words, Israel refuses to grant refugee status to almost any asylum seeker. Bauer’s petition references the Evian Conference of Jul 1938, castigating those countries that “failed the test of civilization by refusing to help Europe’s Jewish refugees” on the eve of the Nazi Holocaust. Bauer’s words became especially ironic on Jul 14 2013, when Israel began to deport asylum-seekers back to the repressive regime they fled from in Eritrea, 75 years after the original Evian conference.
9. Gaby Barabash — hospital director
During a meeting held in the Knesset in April, Gary Barabash, director of the Ichilov Medical Center (the largest hospital in Tel Aviv), complained that African asylum-seekers in Israel were having babies. Although no new African asylum-seekers entered Israel in 2013, Barabash said:
The problem is that they closed down the fence, but they did not close down the natural growth, and the number of Eritreans born here rises from year to year.
In Jul 2012, Barabash forbade African asylum-seekers from entering Ichilov to visit their friends and relatives receiving medical attention there. That decision was later rescinded after doctors called it “patient-care apartheid” and a health ministry official called the policy “racist,” saying:
A country that went through the Holocaust cannot possibly use discriminatory policies against migrants.
Unfortunately, Barabash’s anti-African policies are not the exception, but the rule in Israel. After many years in which the Israeli government would not allow asylum-seekers access to any public health care services except in absolute emergencies, it opened a clinic in south Tel Aviv so that they could receive treatment without having to come into proximity with the rest of the population. As soon as it was set up in January, Israeli immigration police began to “ambush” asylum-seekers there, according to Israel’s health ministry. Israeli social worker Bracha Shapiro noted in August that asylum-seekers are often refused medical services at Israeli hospitals because they are not Jewish or because they come from Africa. Their only option is to turn to institutions operated by communities of Christians and Messianic Jews.
8. Danny Adino Abebe — journalist
There is no shortage of Israeli journalists who couch their reporting on African asylum-seekers in derogatory terms, vilifying them in the eyes of the Israeli public. In June, top Israel Army Radio reporter Hadas Steif employed racist tropes traditionally used to dehumanize Africans, saying that an African man suspected of snatching the wallet of an Israeli man “thought that he was in the jungle” and that Africans “tend to crawl.” But the Israeli journalist who has superseded all of his colleagues in attempts to smear asylum-seekers is actually an African man himself: Ethiopian-Israeli reporter for Yediot Ahronot, Danny Adino Abebe. Just days after Steif’s racist report, Adino Abebe published a scandalous accusation: at least 1,000 Ethiopian-Israeli Jewish women had been kidnapped in Israel and were being held against their will by non-Jewish African asylum-seekers. Adino Abebe did not produce even one piece of evidence to back up this calumny. Adino Abebe ignored all my requests for just a single source that would lend credence to this claim. After Muftah published my report on his accusation, I sought out Adino Abebe again in October to ask for his reaction, and this time he personally responded to my query. In that exchange, he stood by his claims, but still refused to provide even a scintilla of evidence. Adino Abebe’s attack on African asylum-seekers neatly mirrored a nearly identical slander made against Palestinian citizens of Israel. At a Knesset committee meeting in Feb 2012, Danny Danon, now the deputy defense minister, accused Bedouins of kidnapping 1,000 Jewish Israeli women. High-ranking Israeli police officials at the meeting said they had no evidence that even one of these alleged kidnappings had ever occurred.
7. May Golan — rising political star
When Michael Ben-Ari failed to receive enough votes in January’s national elections to retain his Knesset seat, some naive analysts suggested anti-African racism in Israel was waning. Ben-Ari, more than any other Israeli legislator, was adept at riling up a crowd with calls to ethnically cleanse the country of non-Jews. But his performance at the polls, just short of an electoral mandate, was in all likelihood not a sign that the voting public had rejected his views. Rather it showed that most mainstream political parties had actually adopted his views on African asylum-seekers. There was no need to vote for a splinter faction when the ruling party campaigned on the same racist platform. In the run-up to the national elections, Ben-Ari welcomed May Golan under his wing. She shared Ben-Ari’s desire to deport all African asylum-seekers, as well as his penchant for fiery racist rhetoric. But while Ben-Ari now lives in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank and only visits south Tel Aviv on occasion to stir up anti-African sentiment, Golan continues to live in south Tel Aviv, an area that has seen the largest influx of African asylum-seekers. She is seen as having more street credibility. What’s more, Golan is young, secular and photogenic, which gives her the potential to influence more Israelis than Ben-Ari could have hoped to. In the run-up to municipal elections in October, Golan scored political points that her mentor Ben-Ari could never claim. In an effort to harness the anti-African sentiment simmering in south Tel Aviv, Israel’s ruling Likud party announced a pact with Golan. In exchange for Golan’s endorsement of the Likud list for the Tel Aviv-Jaffa city council, Likud promised to appoint Golan to head a steering committee of south Tel Aviv residents that would deal with the issue of African asylum-seekers. The deal was sealed with a warm hug from the Likud’s new interior minister, Gideon Saar. Golan has expressed hope that the Israelis who come to the aid of African asylum-seekers be raped. Likud’s embrace of Golan who, like Ben Ari, is a follower of Meir Kahane, may signal the Israeli government’s most enthusiastic adoption of the political positions of the notorious racist, who Golan eulogized at a memorial service in October. Kahane was a popular USraeli ultra-nationalist rabbi who, as an MK between 1984 and 1988, advocated that Israel should: outright annex the West Bank and Gaza, ethnically cleanse the Palestinian population, criminalize inter-racial/religious relationships, and become a Jewish theocracy. Kahane and members of the group he founded, the Jewish Defense League, were found guilty in domestic terrorism cases in the US during the 1970s. Kahane himself was eventually assassinated in NYC in 1990.
6. Ron Huldai — Tel Aviv mayor
Tel Aviv-Jaffa mayor Ron Huldai persecuted African asylum-seekers no less in 2013 than he did in 2012, but simply he is lower on my list this year, because the ranks of Israel’s leading anti-Africans have swelled so much. Tel Aviv is economically reliant on foreign financing. In order to ensure that investment dollars and tourism euros keep on flowing, the city has to maintain its reputation as a multicultural metropolis. But Tel Aviv’s sandy beaches and modern museums are nowhere near the impoverished areas of town where asylum-seekers have settled, so there’s no danger of international visitors taking notice of Huldai’s harassment of the city’s African population. In May, Huldai’s municipal inspectors entered African restaurants and poured bleach into their pots of food. When human rights activists responded with shock, the municipality claimed that these were standard procedures applying to all food-serving establishments. This cynical excuse may have been more convincing if the raids had been not been conducted during the dinner hour, in full view of paying customers. In reality, it was simply an attack on African businesses, and an attempt to cut off what little income asylum-seekers make. This was part of the national strategy to “make their lives miserable” so they will give up and leave. Israel has only granted a tiny fraction of the African asylum-seekers in the country legal work visas. But even this minuscule amount was too much for Huldai who in July changed municipal policy to exclude Eritreans from opening their own businesses. When human rights activists realized that the rules had been altered, they appealed to Huldai for clemency. He agreed to let those asylum-seekers who had already paid out of pocket for the registration process to go through with it; but in the future, there would be no new such shops in Tel Aviv.
5. Hagai Hadas — ex-Mossad official
The Jan 2012 “anti-infiltration” amendment, which the government used to imprison all African asylum-seekers who entered the country from Jun 2012 onwards, was challenged in the courts by human rights groups and the UNHCR. Eventually, in Sep 2013, all nine Israeli high court judges voted to strike down the amendment and ordered the government to free all the 1,750 Africans jailed on the basis of it within three months. Instead, the government released just 700, most of them women and children, and passed a new anti-infiltration amendment last week. It circumvents the high court ruling and permits the continued incarceration of the remaining approximately 1,000 asylum-seekers, plus thousands more that the authorities intend to sweep off the streets. The Knesset’s own legal advisor has admitted that the new amendment will likely be rejected by the high court. But that will take time. One of the main reasons that it took so long for the court to strike down the Jan 2012 amendment was that the government argued that such a move would be unnecessary, since it planned to swiftly expel all African asylum-seekers from the country. The government claimed that it had reached understandings with several African countries that had agreed to take in the asylum-seekers, so the court suspended its decision until the government could provide details of the plan. The man appointed by Netanyahu as his special representative to negotiate these agreements was Hagai Hadas, formerly a senior official in the Mossad. Hadas claimed he was on the verge of sealing deals with at least three African countries which had agreed to take in tens of thousands of asylum-seekers, in exchange for Israeli arms and military training. When the government’s stalling tactics began to test the court’s patience, they announced Hadas had sealed a deal with Uganda. But the Ugandan government immediately denied that it had agreed to any such deal. The idea that Hadas, acting on behalf of the Israeli government, was plying African nations with weapons is especially horrific, given the history of Israeli arms sales to Africa. In Jun 2012, Ma’ariv revealed that the government had approved the sale of arms which had been used to slaughter civilians in Rwanda and other African nations. Even Michael Ben-Ari, the previous Knesset’s most ardent enemy of African asylum-seekers, admitted this to me when I interviewed him in Aug 2010.
4. Arnon Sofer — eminent academic
In his last major act as interior minister in the previous government, Eli Yishai published an official report advising the Israeli government to deal harshly with African asylum-seekers. The report was authored by a committee led by Professor Arnon Sofer, a founder of the University of Haifa, a lecturer at the National Defense College and an advisor to Israel’s prime ministers. For years, Sofer has warned that Jews will soon comprise less than half of Israel’s population and that once this occurs, the Arab majority will usher in a fundamentalist Islamic regime. To prevent this from happening, Sofer has advocated that the government suspend civil rights and build hermetic walls to keep Palestinians out. He said in 2004:
When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.
Sofer is regarded as the ideological architect of Israel’s wall in the West Bank, and advised then-PM Ariel Sharon when it was being planned. At Yishai’s behest, Sofer applied his paranoia of Palestinians to the issue of African asylum-seekers. The insurmountable walls he wants to construct would also serve the secondary purpose of keeping out any other non-Jews who would seek asylum in Israel. Sofer has said that if not for these walls, 100 million Africans might try to migrate to Israel. The construction of a wall on Israel’s border with Africa was already well underway when Sofer was tasked with writing his report, and it has since been completed, drastically reducing the number of asylum-seekers entering Israel to nearly none. But this measure would not suffice for Sofer. As I wrote back in May, the report calls for toughening the rules of engagement on Israel’s borders to “send smugglers a message,” a euphemism for possibly instructing soldiers to shoot asylum-seekers, a position held by some of Israel’s most racist lawmakers. The report also labels Israeli citizens and others who advocate for the rights of African asylum-seekers as ‘anti-Semitic’ and possibly terrorists, and calls for them to be arrested. The Sofer Report minces no words concerning the 60,000 African asylum-seekers already in Israel. ‘There’s no room for another ethno-national group in Israel,’ the report says, ‘they must be expelled.’ Sofer’s report dispenses with the whitewashed term ‘detention’ that the government once used to describe its prison for asylum-seekers, and now shamelessly adopts the word ‘concentration’ to describe the camp it decrees the Africans must be rounded into.”
3. Yehuda Weinstein — Attorney General
You’re riding your bicycle down the street when you hear your phone ring. You pull over to the side of the road, step onto the sidewalk and answer your phone. At that moment a policeman walks up and asks you if the bike and the phone belong to you. When you answer in the affirmative, he demands that you produce receipts proving that you purchased them. If you are unable to do so, and you are an African refugee living in Israel, you could be taken to jail, without even the courtesy of a kangaroo court trial. The man who created this racist regulation, first made public in July, is Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Yesh Din’s Yossi Gurvitz compared the procedure to the 1857 Dred Scott decision, when the US Supreme Court ruled that black people were not humans and as such they were not entitled to legal protections such as the right to a trial, called habeas corpus. When human rights activists learned of the regulation, they immediately petitioned Israel’s high court to overturn it. The court dismissed the petition out of hand. In Oct 2013, the high court finally invalidated the Jan 2012 anti-infiltration amendment and ordered the government to free all the African asylum-seekers Israel was jailing without trial on the basis of it. In response, Weinstein ordered police, prison and immigration officials to ignore the court’s decision and to continue incarcerating asylum-seekers (albeit under a different law) for the protection of “state security” and “public health.” In February, it was revealed that Israel had secretly coerced at least 1,000 asylum-seekers to return to Eritrea and Sudan, behind the back of the UNHCR. The UNHCR representative in Israel, Michael Bavli, called this “the gravest violation possible of the convention that Israel has signed, a crime never before committed.” Caught contravening a ruling of Israel’s own high court, Weinstein drew up a new protocol for interior ministry officials, a legal fiction which would allow Israel to publicly claim that these deportations were not coerced. By the summer, the deportations had resumed in earnest. Back in May 2012, Weinstein decided not to prosecute the Israeli author of a book which advocated killing non-Jewish people and even non-Jewish babies. Weinstein said that he based his decision on the fact that the book’s author did not specify Palestinians and other Arabs as the non-Jewish people that he advocated killing. In other words, Weinstein ruled that there was nothing illegal about publicly advocating the killing of other non-Jewish people, such as African asylum-seekers.
2. Gideon Saar — Minister of the Interior
The day that Eli Yishai stepped down as Israel’s interior minister, asylum-seekers and their allies across the country breathed a sigh of relief. Yishai had used this powerful perch to incite racial hatred in ways that would be unthinkable in any other democratic country, publicly accusing Africans of bringing AIDS to Israel and of raping Israeli women to give them the disease. Whoever replaced him would be welcomed as an improvement. Unlike Yishai, the man who took his place, Gideon Saar, does not make such crass statements. As a leading contender to eventually replace Netanyahu as prime minister, Saar has a more moderate image to maintain. So, like Netanyahu, he uses coded language to achieve the same effect. Any hopes that Saar would rein in the interior ministry’s persecution of asylum-seekers were dashed after his first foray into south Tel Aviv, just weeks after he entered office. On a tour of the neighborhoods most heavily populated by Africans, Saar refused to communicate with any of the African people who approached him. He told journalists that the Africans must return to the countries they fled from or find refuge in some other country. By tapping May Golan to lead a steering committee of south Tel Aviv residents that would advise the government on asylum-seekers, Saar can continue to speak in measured tones, while he rubber-stamps the demands of one of the country’s most extreme racists.
1. Benjamin Netanyahu — Prime Minister
Once more, Israel’s most powerful politician, Benjamin Netanyahu, tops the list of Israel’s racist ringleaders. He easily swept January’s national elections and deftly neutralized competition from political challengers. Even without either ultra-Orthodox party, he was able to form a supposedly center-right coalition that controls seventy seats out of a total of 120. With victory in hand, Netanyahu appointed Likud MK Miri Regev to head the important interior committee that determines the fate of asylum-seekers. Regev is the very same member of Knesset who triggered the May 23 2012 anti-African race riot in Tel Aviv with her cry of “The Sudanese are a cancer in our body,” and later apologized to cancer victims for comparing them to Africans. In a powerful opinion piece published in Haaretz in March, Israeli film-maker Galia Oz described Netanyahu’s war on African asylum-seekers, Palestinians and other non-Jewish groups as Kahanism by proxy. He wrote:
The hands are the hands of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, but the voice is the voice of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He no longer needs to engage in verbal thuggery. Others take care of it for him. Netanyahu watches from the sidelines.
Netanyahu does not need to resort to the vilest forms of racism to delegitimize asylum-seekers; others do that work for him. But the master plan is his: to decant the country of all non-Jewish Africans. In Dec 2012, he announced that the completion of the border fence was imminent and that the rate of Africans entering the country had been reduced to nil. But that was not enough. He said:
Now we are moving to the second phase. That’s the phase of returning the infiltrators that are already here.
After the high court struck down the Jan 2012 anti-infiltration amendment, Netanyahu quickly took the lead and established that the government would not comply with the court order. He made clear he would instead work around it to pursue the goal of ethnically cleansing the country, with or without judicial assent, saying:
I have ordered to move forward with new legislation that will enable the strengthening of the detention of illegal work infiltrators.
Earlier this month, a massive majority of Israel’s legislators approved his handiwork.