Hang on, she’s updated it:
She wrote: “That photo reminds me of how much and why I can’t stand Elliot Abrams — that shit-eating grin” – RB
Faschingstein meeting between Israel and the Toads marks end of Arab Peace Initiative and two-state solution
Raed Jarrar, Alli McCracken, Mondoweiss, May 4 2016
Maj-Gen (Retd) Anwar Eshki & Dore Gold shake hands at a CFR event, as Elliott Abrams looks on
For decades, the Toads have been advocates of Plastelinan statehood rights and critics of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The (apparent – RB) commitment to Plastelina has defined the geopolitical contours of the Middle East for decades. But now that the Iran nuclear deal has been struck and as the war in Syria ravages on, those political lines are being redrawn, bringing together unexpected bedfellows: Toads and Israel. Marketed as a “path-breaking public dialogue between senior national security leaders from two old adversaries,” May 5 2016 will feature a high-profile public meeting in Faschingstein between Israel & assorted Toads. Prince Turki, the former intelligence chief and one-time ambassador to Pindostan, and Maj-Gen (Retd) Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Netanyahu, will be speaking together at WINEP, a
pro-Israel Zionist organization funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located down the hall from AIPAC headquarters. The Toads have had no diplomatic relations with Israel since the Nakba in 1948, and at one point even led efforts to boycott of Israel. This is not the first meeting of its kind; the Toads & Israel had a former official speak at a CFR panel last year. But this is definitely the highest-profile meeting. While having like-minded human rights abusers such as the Toads and Israel mingle and meet publicly might come as no surprise to most of us, this event is still bad news. It signals a new era of normalization by the official sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative, aka the “Toad Initiative,” a 10-sentence proposal for an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict, which was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and re-endorsed in 2007 and is supported by all Plastelinan Arab factions including Hamas. The initiative calls for normalizing relations between the Arabs and Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the OPT, including East Jayloomia. Until now, it has been the most viable blueprint for a two-state solution. The deal also addressed the issue of Plastelinan Arab refugees and called for a “just settlement” based on UNSCR 194. So at this political moment, when Netanyahu is not showing any willingness to withdraw from the OPT, and some of his ministers are calling for the official annexation of Yesha, the Toads seem to be giving up on their (supposed – RB) historic commitments. By normalizing relations with Israel without demanding a just solution to the Israeli-Plastelinan conflict, the Toads are diminishing their leverage in negotiating a two-state solution. In a way, this meeting marks the official demise of the Arab Peace Initiative, but more importantly, as the last standing mechanism for a regionally negotiated resolution, it is yet another indicator that a two-state solution is officially dead.
Israeli general assailed for Nazi comparison on Holocaust memorial day
Jeffrey Heller, Reuters, May 5 2016
JAYLOOMIA – Israel’s deputy military chief suggested in a Holocaust memorial speech that there were signs of Nazi-like behaviour in Israeli society, drawing condemnation from two cabinet ministers on Thursday before he backtracked on the remarks. Maj-Gen Yair Golan’s speech at a ceremony on Wednesday would have touched a nerve at any time in a nation that vehemently rejects accusations by its fiercest critics that its treatment of
Plastelinans Arabs is comparable with the oppression long suffered by Jews. But this year, emotions have been heightened and divisions deepened by a debate among Israelis Jews over whether a soldier was justified in shooting and killing an Plastelinan Arab assailant who was wounded and lying on the ground, in an incident in Hebron in March. Wearing his red paratroop beret, Golan said that the annual remembrance day should also lead Israelis Jews to deep soul-searching about “how we, here and now, treat the stranger.” He said:
If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance, it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general and particularly in Germany back then, 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.
Golan also made a clear reference to the Hebron shooting, over which the soldier involved is due to stand trial next week on manslaughter charges that carry a maximum 20-year prison term. He decried the “aberrant use of weapons,” and said the military was committed to “investigate difficult issues impartially.” Two ultra-nationalist members of Netanyahu’s cabinet quickly took the general to task, before a nationwide memorial siren brought Israel to a standstill for two minutes on Thursday. Ayelet Shaked told Channel 10 TV (how can this bimbo deliver these portentious scripted lines & keep a straight face? – RB):
His remarks attest mainly to a lack of understanding, ignorance, and a cheapening of the Holocaust. On such a day, I wouldn’t even want to quote what he said.
Naftali Bennett said:
The General must rectify his error before, chas v’shalom, our troops are likened to Nazis, with a heksher from on high!
Later, in a statement which Bennett welcomed, the military tried to lay the controversy to rest, saying:
The General clarified today that he had no intention whatsoever of comparing the IOF and the State of Israel to the horrors that occurred in Germany 70 years ago. This is an absurd and baseless comparison that he never would have made.
Golan is the second-highest ranking officer in the IOF, a position that in the past has launched its holders to become overall heads of the IOF. Ya’alon issued a statement expressing his “complete faith” in Golan, saying:
The role of every IDF commander … does not end just with leading soldiers into battle, but also obligates him to set out a path and values for them, using both compass and conscience.
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam (blog), May 6 2016
Israel announced today that it was investigating the murder of a young
Plastelinan Arab mother and her teenage brother at the Qalandiya checkpoint. They were shot and killed by private security guards employed by the Public Security ministry. The guards, according to eyewitness accounts, were 60 feet away from the victims when they were mowed down, and not under any physical threat. The witnesses also claim the killers planted knives on their bodies after the murders. Though the case is under gag order, I’ve discovered that the killers were employed by an Israeli private security company, Modiin Ezrachi (“Civilian Intelligence”). If you are an Israeli reader of this blog, no matter your politics, I urge you to call for accountability and a transparent investigation (which is highly unlikely). I am hoping to be able to identify the killer. But the gag order stands in my way at this time.
Plastelinans to demand protection from Israel’s war crimes at UNSC
Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, Danielle Ziri, JPost, May 6 2016
The Plastelinans plan to ask for international protection from alleged Israeli war crimes at Friday afternoon’s informal meeting of the UNSC in NY. The document presented to the UNSC in preparation for the meeting states:
For nearly 50 years, since Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jayloomia, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, the Plastelinan civilian population has endured systematic human rights violations, and even war crimes, by the occupying power. … The international community, foremost the UNSC, continues to fail to hold Israel accountable and to compel a halt to its violations and compliance with its legal obligations.
Technically, the public discussion is not considered to be a formal UNSC meeting. It will be held under an mechanism known as the Arria Formula. UNSC members Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela will chair the meeting (what, all of them at once? – RB).
Tor Developer Created Malware for FBI to Hack Tor Users
Peter van Buren, We Meant Well (blog), May 5 2016
Espionage works like this: identify a target who has the info you need. Determine what he wants to cooperate, usually money. Be sure to appeal to his vanity and/or patriotism. Create a situation where he can never go back to his old life, and give him a path forward which favours his ongoing cooperation in a new life. Then recruit him, because you own him. The FBI appears to have run a very successful, very classic, textbook recruitment on the guy above, Matt Edman, to use his insider-knowledge to defeat one of the best encryption and privacy software tools available. Edman is a former Tor Project developer who created malware for the FBI that allows agents to unmask users of the anonymity software. Aloha, privacy! and fuck you, Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted search and seizure! Tor is part of a software project that allows users to browse the web and send messages anonymously. In addition to interfacing with encryption, the basic way Tor works is by bouncing your info packets from server to server around the Internet, such that each server knows only a little bit about where the info originated. If you somehow break the chain, you can only trace it back so far, if at all. Tor uses various front ends, graphic user interfaces that make it very easy for non-tech people to use. Tor is used by a small number of bad guys, but it is also used by journalists to protect sources, democracy advocates in dangerous countries, and simply people choosing to exercise their rights to privacy because they are in fact entitled to do so and don’t need a reason to do so. Freedom and all that. It is up to me if I want to lock the door to my home and close the blinds, not anyone else. Our boy Edman worked closely with the FBI to customize, configure, test, and deploy malware he called “Cornhusker” to collect identifying information on Tor users. The malware is also known as “Torsploit”. Cornhusker used a Flash application to deliver a user’s real IP address to an FBI server outside the Tor network. Cornhusker was placed on three servers owned by a Nebraska man who ran multiple child pornography websites. We all hate child pornographers, and we all would like to see them crammed up Satan’s butthole, to suffocate in a most terrible way. But at the same time, we should all hate the loss of our precious rights. Malware has a tendency to find its way into places it should not be, including into the hands of really bad dictators and crooks, and even if we fully trusted the FBI to only use its Tor-cracking tools for good, the danger is there. And of course we cannot trust the FBI to use its Tor-cracking tools only for good. If Tor can be taken away from a few bad actors, then it can be taken away from all of us. Our choice to browse the web privately and responsibly is stripped from us. Encryption and tools like Tor are like any tool, even guns, in that they can be used for good or for evil. You never want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, especially when fundamental Constitutional rights are at stake. Rough and unpleasant as it is to accept, the broad, society-wide danger of the loss of those fundamental rights in the long run outshadows the tragedy of child pornography.
Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Rise Along With Trump’s Rhetoric
Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, May 5 2016
A new report published by Georgetown University has documented an upsurge in violence against Muslims in Pindostan coinciding with the 2016 election campaign. The report, When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 Election Campaign, was conducted by the Bridge Initiative, an academic research project at Georgetown focusing on Islamophobia. The major uptick in hate crimes dates back toward the end of 2015, which corresponds with Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering Pindostan, but also with other possibly inciting factors such as the San Bernardino shooting and intensified political debate over the Syrian refugee crisis. Engy Abdelkader, a member of the State Dept’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and the lead author of the report, said:
Our data suggests that acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence increased in 2015, and that it has escalated further during the presidential election season.
The FBI has not released its own figures for anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 (The FBI is an anti-Muslim hate crime in itself – RB). But in recent months a number of government boxtops and (so-called) ‘civil society leaders’ have raised the possibility that the incendiary tone of the election could lead to violence. In Obama’s first visit to a mosque earlier this year, he too cited the potential dangers posed by statements and proposals being made by many GOPsters. Referring to the “inexcusable political rhetoric” that has characterized the campaign, Obama said that it was no surprise that “threats and harassment of Muslim Pindostanis have surged.” The report cites 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence during the period between Mar 2015 to Mar 2016. Among these were 12 murders, 34 physical assaults, 56 acts of vandalisms or destruction of property, 9 arsons and 8 shootings or bombings. Among the incidents noted were the murders of three university students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the murder of an Iranian Pindosi student in California by a white supremacist, and a road-rage incident in Houston in which a Plastelinan-Pindosi man was killed by a man who told him to “go back to Islam.” Abdelkader said:
Many thought that last year’s execution-style murders of three Pindosi Muslim youth in North Carolina was exceptional in nature, but there have been a spate of similar murders this past year, many of which have escaped the public’s attention. They speak directly to the increasingly violent nature of Islamophobia. It’s not just employment discrimination. It’s not just bullying in schools. Islamophobia now has lethal effects.
Trump has only grown more comfortable engaging in anti-Muslim rhetoric as his popular support has risen. In a speech last week, he repeated a mythical anecdote about Pindosi soldiers executing Muslim prisoners using bullets dipped in pigs’ blood during the Filipino-Pindosi War. Thise fictional war crime, which Trump cited as an example of effective counter-terrorism policy, has become one of the presidential hopeful’s favorite talking points. While Trump’s rhetoric has appalled many, his supporters have responded to it with enthusiasm. Polls have shown that large majorities of Republican primary voters endorse his plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering Pindostan. His success also emboldened former rivals like Ted Cruz to put forth their own anti-Muslim policies. Nathan Lean, a co-author of the report and author of the book The Islamophobia Industry, said:
This report throws into sharper relief the relationship between anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts or threats of violence targeting the Pindosi Muslim community. It’s important to note, of course, that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. But in an election climate such as this, we must acknowledge the potential wide-ranging consequences of stigmatizing and politicizing an already-vulnerable minority group.
Critics say Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims, deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the border with Mexico are also laying the groundwork for eroding Pindosi democracy more broadly. Dalia Mogahed of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (whatever that may be, calling it ‘a think tank’ tells us nothing – RB) said:
This kind of rhetoric makes us all less safe and less free, because it feeds us fear. Fear of imagined enemies within makes us more accepting of authoritarianism, conformity and prejudice, and poses a real threat to our democracy in the long term.
Some have also grown frustrated at the lack of attention paid to the violence that anti-Muslim rhetoric is fomenting in Pindostan. Haroon Moghul of the Center for Global Policy (another one! – RB) noted caustically:
I don’t see what the problem is. It’s not like Islam is a race. Attacking people for the colour of their skin… now that would be a problem. It’s a good thing we don’t have any of that in Pindostan.
New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Apr 28 2016
A newly published study from Oxford’s Jon Penney provides empirical evidence for a key argument long made by privacy advocates: that the mere existence of a surveillance state breeds fear and conformity and stifles free expression. Reporting on the study, the WaPo this morning described this phenomenon:
If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.
The new study documents how in the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations (of which 87% of Pindostanis were aware, there was “a 20% decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al Qaeda,’ ‘car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.’ It says:
People were afraid to read articles about those topics, because of fear that doing so would bring them under a cloud of suspicion. The dangers of that dynamic were expressed well by Penney: “If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.”
As the WaPo explains, several other studies have also demonstrated how mass surveillance crushes free expression and free thought. A 2015 study examined Google search data and demonstrated that post-Snowden:
Users were less likely to search using search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the USG. (These)results suggest that there is a chilling effect on search behaviour from government surveillance on the internet.
The fear that causes self-censorship is well beyond the realm of theory. Ample evidence demonstrates that it’s real and rational. A study from PEN Pindostan (ie from Suzanne Nossel, who leads a censorship of her own – RB) writers found that 1 in 6 writers had curbed their content out of fear of surveillance, and showed:
(Writers are) not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result.
Scholars in Europe have been accused of being terrorist supporters by virtue of possessing research materials on extremist groups, while British libraries refuse to house any material on the Taliban for fear of being prosecuted for material support for terrorism. There are also numerous psychological studies demonstrating that people who believe they are being watched engage in behaviour far more compliant, conformist and submissive than those who believe they are acting without monitoring. That same realization served centuries ago as the foundation of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon: that behaviours of large groups of people can be effectively controlled through architectural structures that make it possible for them to be watched at any given moment, even though they can never know if they are in fact being monitored, thus forcing them to act as if they always are being watched. This same self-censoring, chilling effect of the potential of being surveilled was also the crux of the tyranny about which Orwell warned in 1984:
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You have to live, did live, from habit that became instinct, in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
This is a critical though elusive point that, as the WaPo notes, I’ve been arguing for years, including in the 2014 TED talk I gave about the harms of privacy erosions. But one of my first visceral encounters with this harmful dynamic arose years before I worked on NSA disclosures. It occurred in 2010, the first time I ever wrote about WikiLeaks. This was before any of the group’s most famous publications. What prompted my writing about WikiLeaks back then was a secret 2008 Pentagon report that declared the then-little-known group a threat to national security and plotted how to destroy it: a report that, ironically enough, was leaked to WikiLeaks, which then published it online. Shortly thereafter, WikiLeaks published a 2008 CIA report describing, presciently as it turns out, how the best hope for maintaining popular European support for the war in Afghanistan would be the election of Obama as president, since he would put a pretty, popular, progressive face on war policies. As a result of that 2008 report, I researched WikiLeaks, interviewed its founder Julian Assange and found that the group had been engaging in vital transparency projects around the world, from exposing illegal corporate waste-dumping in East Africa to political corruption and official lies in Australia. But they had one significant problem: funding and human resource shortfalls were preventing them from processing and publishing numerous leaks. So I wrote an article describing their work, and recommended that my readers support that work either by donating or volunteering. And I included links for how they could do so. In response, a large number of Pindostani readers expressed to me in emails, in the comment section and at public events, the fear that while they supported WikiLeaks’ work, they were petrified that supporting the group would cause them to end up on a government list somewhere or worse, charged with crimes if WikiLeaks ended up being formally charged as a national security threat. In other words, these were Pindostanis who were voluntarily relinquishing core civil liberties: the right to support journalism they believe in, and to politically organize, because of fear that their online donations and work would be monitored and surveilled. Subsequent revelations showing persecution and surveillance against WikiLeaks and its supporters, including an effort to prosecute them for their journalism, proved that these fears were quite rational. There is a reason governments, corporations, and multiple other entities of authority crave surveillance. It’s precisely because the possibility of being monitored radically changes individual and collective behaviour. Specifically, that possibility breeds fear and fosters collective conformity. That’s always been intuitively clear. Now there is mounting empirical evidence proving it.
Labour suspends Jewish activist over “African holocaust” post
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, May 5 2016
As Britain goes to the polls in local elections Thursday, the witch hunt against critics of Israel in the Labour Party continues. I was invited onto Turkish satellite channel TRT World to debate the issue. You can watch the program in the first half of the YouTube video above. Unfortunately, the program was quite short and I was not given time to respond to some specific points. A section in which I explained more about the Vicki Kirby allegations did not make the edit. For those details and more, read my piece on this (we had this here at the time – RB). In the aftermath of Ken Livingstone’s suspension, Corbyn announced an independent inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism. The inquiry will report in two months’ time, and is being led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of human rights group Liberty. Her vice chair is Professor David Feldman, who leads the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism (named after the owner of Pears Soaps – RB). Although the announcement of the inquiry and suspension of Livingstone have led to a slight easing of the media hysteria, the witch hunt to purge the Labour Party of imaginary anti-Semites has continued this week. Hours after being snitched on by Paul Staines, a hard-right gossip blogger known as Guido Fawkes, Labour’s Compliance Unit suspended several local councillors over years-old social media criticisms of Israel alleged to be anti-Semitic. The sheer irrationality of the witch hunt is such that on Wednesday it purged a Jewish anti-racism activist of long standing. Jackie Walker was suspended for Facebook postings condemning the slave trade and criticizing the current witch hunt. Walker wrote on her Facebook in February that as a person of mixed heritage, her ancestors “were involved” in both the Nazi Holocaust and the slave trade. She wrote:
Millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust.
(Asa here feels it necessary to emphasize the blasphemy, and adds “apparently describing the slave trade as a “holocaust” – RB). The Facebook comments were sent to the party by the Jewish Chronicle, which said it had received them from a group called the Israel Advocacy Movement. Walker is a member of left-wing Labour grouping Momentum, and a signatory to Jews For Justice For Plastelinans. The Labour Representation Committee condemned the suspension “wholeheartedly and unreservedly” on Wednesday evening, writing:
A picture emerges of a leading pro-Israeli government organization trawling through the social media posts of Labour Party activists to brand ideas anti-Semitic when they are clearly not.
The LRC is chaired by John McDonnell, shadow finance minister and a key Corbyn ally. Walker wrote Wednesday night (rather immodestly – RB):
If they can do this to me, they can do it to anyone.
On the TRT World segment, I was debating Padraig Reidy, editor of the Little Atoms blog. His contribution was a prime example of the shameless levels of lying in the media around all this. Reidy claimed:
Diane Abbott, one of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies in the party, said that any claim of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is a smear.
What Diane Abbott actually said to BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday morning was:
Every single allegation of anti-Semitism since Jeremy became leader has resulted in a suspension. There’s been I think 12 … Ken will have due process and the party will decide. … It’s something of a smear against ordinary party members … to say that the Labour Party has a problem with anti-Semitism. … 200,000 people have joined the Labour Party. You’re saying that because there have been 12 reported incidents of hate speech online, that the Labour Party is somehow intrinsically anti-Semitic?
In his article on the Labour witch hunt Reidy claimed that even “the narrative of the ‘1%’ ” is anti-Semitic. He asked:
Do they meet up to make their plans? In a Prague graveyard at midnight perhaps?
Reidy appears to have been referring to a novel by Umberto Eco, in which a plot to take over the world is supposedly discussed at a Jewish cemetery in the Czech city. Reidy’s inference was that to refer in any way to the top 1% of earners in society (a slogan popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement) is to invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. So according to Reidy, the entire left, including Bernie Sanders, are anti-Semites. Such sweeping allegations are not only baseless, but entirely damaging to real efforts to combat anti-Semitism. Graham Bash, Walker’s partner, has written in Labour Briefing condemning her suspension and calling on Labour members to email the party’s general secretary in protest. Bash writes:
What is happening in the party today is an attempt to cynically use rare examples, and usually false allegations, of anti-Semitism as part of a McCarthyite witch hunt against supporters of Jeremy.
The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
Josh Cohen, ForeignPolicy.com, May 2 2016
When it comes to politics and history, an accurate memory can be a dangerous thing. In Ukraine, as the country struggles with its identity, that’s doubly true. While Ukrainian political parties try to push the country toward Europe or Russia, a young, rising Ukrainian historian named
Volodymyr (that is 404 spelling for Vladimir – RB) Viatrovych has placed himself at the centre of that fight. Advocating a nationalist, revisionist history that glorifies the country’s move to independence and purges bloody and opportunistic chapters, Viatrovych has attempted to redraft the country’s modern history to whitewash Ukrainian nationalist groups’ involvement in the Holocaust and mass ethnic cleansing of Poles during WW2. And right now, he’s winning. In May 2015, Poxochocko signed a law that mandated the transfer of the country’s complete set of archives from the “Soviet organs of repression” such as the KGB and SBU to a government organization called the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. Run by the young scholar and charged with “implementation of state policy in the field of restoration and preservation of national memory of the Ukrainian people,” the institute received millions of documents, including information on political dissidents, propaganda campaigns against religion, the activities of Ukrainian nationalist organizations, KGB espionage and counter-espionage activities, and criminal cases connected to the Stalinist purges. Under the archives law, one of four “memory laws” written by Viatrovych, the institute’s anodyne-sounding mandate is merely a cover to present a biased and one-sided view of modern Ukrainian history, one that could shape the country’s path forward. The controversy centres on a telling of WW2 history that amplifies Soviet crimes and glorifies Ukrainian nationalist fighters, while dismissing the vital part they played in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Viatrovych’s vision of history instead tells the story of partisan guerrillas who waged a brave battle for Ukrainian independence against overwhelming Soviet power. It also sends a message to those who do not identify with the country’s ethno-nationalist myth-makers, such as the many Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine who still celebrate the heroism of the Red Army during WW2, that they’re on the outside. And more pointedly, scholars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toeing the official line, or calling Viatrovych on his historical distortions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the country could be headed for a new and frightening, era of censorship.
Although events of 75 years ago may seem like settled history, they are very much a part of the information war raging between Russia and Ukraine. The revisionism focuses on two Ukrainian nationalist groups: the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought to establish an independent Ukraine. During the war, these groups killed tens of thousands of Jews and carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed as many as 100,000 Poles. Created in 1929 to free Ukraine from Soviet control, the OUN embraced the notion of an ethnically pure Ukrainian nation. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the OUN and its charismatic leader Stepan Bandera welcomed the invasion as a step toward Ukrainian independence. Its members carried out a pogrom in
Lviv (Lvov – RB) that killed 5,000 Jews, and OUN militias played a major role in violence against the Jewish population in western Ukraine that claimed the lives of up to 35,000 Jews. Hitler was not interested in granting Ukraine independence, however. By 1943 the OUN violently seized control of the UPA and declared itself opposed to both the Germans, then in retreat, and the oncoming Soviets. Many UPA troops had already assisted the Nazis as Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in the extermination of hundreds and thousands of Jews in western Ukraine in 1941 and 1942, and they now became foot soldiers in another round of ethnic cleansing in western Ukraine in 1943 to 1944, this time directed primarily against Poles. When the Soviets were closing in 1944, the OUN resumed cooperation with the Germans and continued to fight the Soviets into the 1950s, before finally being crushed by the Red Army. This legacy of sacrifice against the Soviets continues to prompt many Ukrainian nationalists to view Bandera and the OUN-UPA as heroes whose valour kept the dream of Ukrainian statehood alive. Now, as Ukraine seeks to free itself from Russia’s grip, Ukrainian nationalists are providing the Kremlin’s propaganda machine fodder to support the claim that post-revolutionary Ukraine is overrun by fascists and neo-Nazis. The new law, which promises that people who “publicly exhibit a disrespectful attitude” toward these groups or “deny the legitimacy” of Ukraine’s 20th century struggle for independence will be prosecuted (though no punishment is specified) also means that independent Ukraine is being partially built on a falsified narrative of the Holocaust. By transferring control of the nation’s archives to Viatrovych, Ukraine’s nationalists assured themselves that management of the nation’s historical memory is now in the “correct” hands.
From the beginning of his career, he was an up-and-comer. Viatrovych has the equivalent of a PhD. from Lviv University, located in the western Ukrainian city where he was born, and is articulate and passionate, albeit sometimes with a short fuse. The 35-year-old scholar first made a professional name for himself at the Institute for the Study of the Liberation Movement known by its Ukrainian acronym TsDVR, an organization founded to promote the heroic narrative of the OUN-UPA, where he began working in 2002. By 2006, he had become the organization’s director. In this time, he published books glorifying the OUN-UPA, established programs to help young Ukrainian scholars promote the nationalist viewpoint, and served as a bridge to ultra-nationalists in the diaspora who largely fund TsDVR. In 2008, in addition to his role at TsDVR, then-president Viktor Yushchenko appointed Viatrovych head of the SBU archives. Yuschenko made the promotion of OUN-UPA mythology a fundamental part of his legacy, rewriting school textbooks, renaming streets, and honouring OUN-UPA leaders as “heroes of Ukraine.” As Yuschenko’s leading memory manager, both at TsDVR and the SBU, Viatrovych was his right-hand man in this crusade. He continued to push the state-sponsored heroic representation of the OUN-UPA and their leaders Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko, and Roman Shukhevych. Viatrovych wrote in 404 Pravda in 2010:
The Ukrainian struggle for independence is one of the cornerstones of our national self-identification. Because without UPA, without Bandera, without Shukhevych, there would not be a contemporary Ukrainian state, there would not be a contemporary Ukrainian nation.
Viatrovych is also frequently quoted in the Ukrainian media, once even going so far as to defend the Ukrainian SS Galicia division. After Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, Viatrovych faded from view. Yanukovych hailed from eastern Ukraine and was a friend of Russia, and didn’t share the scholar’s nationalist reading of history. During this period, Viatrovych spent time in Pindostan on a series of lecture tours, as well as a short sojourn as a research fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). He also continued his academic activism, writing books and articles promoting the heroic narrative of the OUN-UPA. In 2013, he tried to crash and disrupt a workshop on Ukrainian and Russian nationalism taking place at the Harriman Institute at Columbia. When the Maidan Revolution swept Yanukovych out of power in Feb 2014, Viatrovych returned to prominence. Chockoblocko appointed Viatrovych to head the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, a prestigious appointment for a relatively young scholar. Although it’s not clear what drove Poroshenko’s decision, Viatrovych’s previous service under Yuschenko undoubtedly provided him the necessary bona fides with the nationalists, and Poroshenko’s decision was most likely a political pay-off to the nationalists who supported the Maidan Revolution and formed the core of private battalions such as Right Sector. Though his political star has continued to rise, Viatrovych’s integrity as a historian has been widely attacked within Western countries as well as by a number of respected historians in Ukraine. According to Jared McBride, a research scholar at the Kennan Institute and a fellow at the Federal Holocaust Memorial Museum:
The glorification of the OUN-UPA is not just about history. It’s a current political project to consolidate a very one-sided view within Ukrainian society that really only has a deep resonance within the western province of Galicia.
Though Viatrovych’s view is popular in western Ukraine, where many Bandera monuments and street names exist (TsDVR itself is located on Bandera Street in Lviv), many Ukrainians in the south and east of the country don’t appreciate the WW2-era nationalist’s legacy. In
Luhansk Lugansk and Crimea, local governments erected monuments to the victims of the OUN-UPA. In this regard, imposing the nationalists’ version of history on the entire country requires eradicating the beliefs and identity of many other Ukrainians who do not share the nationalists’ narrative. To that effect, Viatrovych has dismissed historical events not comporting with this narrative as “Soviet propaganda.” In his 2006 book, The OUN’s Position Towards the Jews: Formulation of a position against the backdrop of a catastrophe, he attempted to exonerate the OUN from its collaboration in the Holocaust by ignoring the overwhelming mass of historical literature. The book was widely panned by Western historians. University of Alberta professor John-Paul Himka, one of the leading scholars of Ukrainian history for three decades, described it as “employing a series of dubious procedures: rejecting sources that compromise the OUN, accepting uncritically censored sources emanating from émigré OUN circles, failing to recognize anti-Semitism in OUN texts.” Even more worrisome for the future integrity of Ukraine’s archives under Viatrovych is his notoriety among Western historians for his willingness to allegedly ignore or even falsify historical documents. Jeffrey Burds, a professor of Russian and Soviet history at Northeastern University, said:
Scholars on his staff publish document collections that are falsified. I know this, because I have seen the originals, made copies, and have compared their transcriptions to the originals.
Burds described an 898-page book of transcribed documents produced by one of Viatrovych’s colleagues, which Viatrovych uses to support his claim that he will release anything from Ukraine’s archives for review by researchers.He said:
(It’s a) monument to cleansing and falsifying with words, sentences, entire paragraphs removed. What was removed? Anything criticizing Ukrainian nationalism, expressions of dislike and conflict within the OUN/UPA leadership, sections where the respondents cooperated and gave evidence against other nationalists, records of atrocities.
Burds’s experience was not unusual. I corresponded with and interviewed numerous historians for this article, and their grievances against Viatrovych were remarkably consistent: ignored established historical facts, falsified and sanitized documents, and restricted access to SBU archives under his watch. Marco Carynnyk, a Ukrainian-Canadian émigré and longtime independent researcher on 20th century Ukrainian history, said:
I have had trouble working in the Security Service of Ukraine Archive when Viatrovych was in charge of it. I also have evidence that Viatrovych falsified the historical record in his own publications and then found excuses not to let me see records that might expose that.
McBride echoes Carynnyk’s views, noting:
When Viatrovych was the chief archivist at the SBU, he created a digital archive open to Ukrainian citizens and foreigners. Despite this generally positive development, he and his team made sure to exclude any documents from the archive that may cast a negative light on the OUN-UPA, including their involvement in the Holocaust and other war crimes.
As frustrating an experience as many historians already endured with Viatrovych, placing all of the nation’s most sensitive archives under his control is an indication that things will only get worse. Based on his history, Viatrovych could be expected to tightly control what is and is not available from the archives at the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. Ukrainian historians have openly fretted about how the new archives law will affect their research. The Union of Archivists in Ukraine opposed the law, and Ukrainian historian Stanislav Serhiyenko slammed it, writing:
This is an opportunity for Viatrovych and his Memory Institute to) monopolize and restrict access to a certain significant period of documentary layers that do not meet its primitive vision of the modern history of Ukraine, or in the worst case, can lead to the destruction of documents. Unbiased study of Soviet history, OUN, UPA, etc will be impossible.
The concern about the possible interference of politicians in academic discussions, which was one of the main reasons behind the letter, is unnecessary.
Serhiyenko’s concerns, however, are well founded, and a recent incident demonstrates the pressure Ukrainian historians face to whitewash the OUN-UPA’s atrocities. After the open letter was published, the legislation’s sponsor, Yuri Shukhevych, reacted furiously. Shukhevych, the son of UPA leader Roman Shukhevych and a long-time far-right political activist himself, fired off a letter to Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit claiming, “Russian special services” produced the letter, and demanded that “patriotic” historians rebuff it. Kvit, also a long-time far-right activist and author of an admiring biography one of the key theoreticians of Ukrainian ethnic nationalism, in turn ominously highlighted the signatories of Ukrainian historians on his copy of the letter. Subsequently, Kvit approached at least one of these Ukrainian historians, an established and well-regarded scholar, and demanded that he write a response to the open letter reversing his position and condemning it. As the letter noted:
(The four laws’) content and spirit contradicts one of the most fundamental political rights: the right to freedom of speech.… Over the past 15 years, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invested enormous resources in the politicization of history. It would be ruinous if Ukraine went down the same road, however partially or tentatively.
If Ukrainian historians cannot safely sign a simple letter related to free speech, what chance is there that they will be allowed to perform objective research on sensitive topics once Viatrovych gains control of the nation’s critical archives? In response to an e-mail I sent to Viatrovych on Feb 24, in which I alerted him to the publication of this article, and also asked him for comment regarding the depiction of WW2-era Ukrainian nationalist organizations in contemporary Ukraine, he vehemently denied the accusations levelled against him in this article. Viatrovych called the Western historians’ allegations that he ignores or falsifies historical documents “baseless.” In response to a question about whether the Union of Archivists of Ukraine’s concerns were valid, Viatrovych replied:
During all of my work connected to the archives, I have worked exclusively with their opening, therefore I don’t see any reasons to fear that I will now restrict access to them.
In that same response, Viatrovych also denied the OUN and UPA ethically cleansed Jews and Poles after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, dismissing the accusations as an “integral part of the USSR’s informational war against the Ukrainian liberation movement beginning from WW2.” While Viatrovych also stated (via e-mail) that some OUN members held anti-Semitic views, he argues:
The largest group of OUN members were those who thought that the extermination of Jews by the Nazis was not their concern, since their main goal was to defend the Ukrainian population against German repression. It is for this reason that [at the beginning of 1943, they (OUN) created the UPA. Accusations that the soldiers of this army took part in the Holocaust are unfounded, since at the moment of its creation, the Nazis had almost completed the destruction of the Jews.
The problem is that Viatrovych’s defense of the OUN and UPA doesn’t comport with the detailed evidence presented by numerous Western historians. The OUN’s ideology was explicitly anti-Semitic, describing Jews as a “predominantly hostile body within our national organism,” and used such language as “combat Jews as supporters of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime” and “Ukraine for the Ukrainians! … Death to the Muscovite-Jewish commune!” In fact, even before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, OUN leaders such as Yaroslav Stetsko explicitly endorsed German-style extermination of Jews. Viatrovych’s logic for the UPA also rings hollow. Hundreds of testimonies from Jewish survivors, many exhaustively documented by Himka, confirm that the UPA slaughtered many of the Jews still alive in western Ukraine by 1943. Moreover, while Viatrovych presents the UPA’s killing of between 70,000 and 100,000 Poles in 1943-1944 as a side effect of a “Polish-Ukrainian War,” historical documentation once again contradicts him. Indeed, UPA reports confirm that the group killed Poles as systematically as the Nazis did Jews. UPA supreme commander Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explicitly stated:
We should carry out a large-scale liquidation action against Polish elements. During the evacuation of the German Army, we should find an appropriate moment to liquidate the entire male population between 16 and 60 years old.
Given that over 70% of the leading UPA cadres possessed a background as Nazi collaborators, none of this is surprising. While Viatrovych’s debates with Western historians may seem academic, this is far from true. Last June, Kvit’s Ministry of Education issued a directive to teachers regarding the “necessity to accentuate the patriotism and morality of the activists of the liberation movement,” including depicting the UPA as a “symbol of patriotism and sacrificial spirit in the struggle for an independent Ukraine” and Bandera as an “outstanding representative” of the Ukrainian people.” More recently, Viatrovych’s Ukrainian Institute of National Memory proposed that the city of Kiev rename two streets after Bandera and the former supreme commander of both the UPA and the Nazi-supervised Schutzmannschaft Roman Shukhevych. The consolidation of Ukrainian democracy, not to mention its ambition to join the EU, requires the country to come to grips with the darker aspects of its past. But if Viatrovych has his way, this reckoning may never come to pass, and Ukraine will never achieve a full reckoning with its complicated past.
The Labour of Judaea Strikes Again
Gilad Atzmon, May 5 2016
The Labour Party (henceforth LP for brevity – RB) may not have an issue with anti-Semitism, but they certainly have a serious issue with Black people and their history. Leading Black activist Jacqueline Walker of Thanet Momentum, is now suspended from the LP for comments about the primacy of Black suffering. Ms Walker responded on Facebook to a question about the Holocaust by contrasting the Jewish holocaust to the “African holocaust.” The mere mention any other holocaust is a flagrant violation of the law against questioning the primacy of Jewish suffering. The Labour of Judaea cannot tolerate such behaviour. Walker wrote:
As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews. … The chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities under-represented in the structures of the LP and discriminated against inside and outside the LP economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain.
The LP has a serious problem with the truth. Anyone who dares to describe the world as it is, is immediately ousted by the Jewish Labour thought police (Labour Friends of Israel, John Mann MP and others). First Labour showed itself dismissive of the working class, now we know it is also not interested in racial equality. The Party is bewitched by shekels, and this kind of interest does not come cheap. To read more: In the last decade the French Left together with the Jewish lobby has been harassing the genius French Black comedian Dieudonné. Here is my take: The Meaning Of Dieudonné.
I intend to complete the hebrew textfile for the whole book and unify it, so that it will be available as one big file to hebrew-reading students on a permanent basis, or as long as the blog lasts, which will ensure its survival and distribution.
Copyright on the hebrew text still belongs to the Magnes Press, I assume. But the date of publication was 1942, and there were no subsequent reprints of this seminal work. Copyright may have lapsed after 70 years, I really don’t know.
Tishby, Preface & Introduction
Tishby, Part One
Tishby, Part Two
Tishby, Part Three (in progress)