A witty and moving look at the privatised US prison system:
I’m honoured to be asked to sign the following just released statement with a range of distinguished people around the world:
Jews Say: End the War on Gaza — No Aid to Apartheid Israel!
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, July 22, 2014
On July 12, 2014, Gaza civil society issued an urgent appeal for solidarity, asking: “How many of our lives are dispensable enough until the world takes action? How much of our blood is sufficient?”
As Jews of conscience, we answer by unequivocally condemning Israel’s ongoing massacre in Gaza, whose victims include hundreds of civilians, children, entire families, the elderly, and the disabled. This latest toll adds to the thousands Israel has killed and maimed since its supposed withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
In response to this crisis, we urgently reaffirm our support for a ban on all military and other aid to Israel.
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opposed the Vietnam War with his famous declaration: “For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”
Today, *we* cannot be silent as the “Jewish state” — armed to the teeth by the U.S. and its allies — wages yet another brutal war on the Palestinian people. Apartheid Israel does not speak for us, and we stand with Gaza as we stand with all of Palestine.
In the face of incessant pro-Israel propaganda, we heed Malcolm X’s warning: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
For Israel’s relentless war on Gaza is no more an act of “self-defense” than such infamous massacres as Wounded Knee (1890), Guernica (1937), the Warsaw Ghetto (1942), Deir Yassin (1948), My Lai (1968), Soweto (1976), Sabra and Shatila (1982), or Lebanon (2006).
Rather, it is but the latest chapter in more than a century of Zionist colonialism, dispossession, ethnic cleaning, racism, and genocide — including Israel’s very establishment through the uprooting and displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba. Indeed, eighty percent of the 1.8 million people sealed into Gaza are refugees.
Like any colonial regime, Israel uses resistance to such policies as an excuse to terrorize and collectively punish the indigenous population for its very existence. But scattered rockets, fired from Gaza into land stolen from Palestinians in the first place, are merely a response to this systemic injustice.
To confront the root cause of this violence, we call for the complete dismantling of Israel’s apartheid regime, throughout historic Palestine — from the River to the Sea. With that in mind, we embrace the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which demands:
* An end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories
* Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
* Right of return for Palestinian refugees, as affirmed by UN resolution 194
Initial Signers (list in formation; organizations, schools and other affiliations shown for identification only; *Co-founder, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return)
Avigail Abarbanel, Psychotherapist; editor, Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists (2012, Cambridge Scholars), Inverness, Scotland
Noa Abend, Boycott From Within
Stephen Aberle, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Lisa Albrecht, Ph.D. Social Justice Program, University of Minnesota
Anya Achtenberg, novelist and poet; teacher; activist; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Mike Alewitz, Associate Professor, Central CT State Unversity; Artistic Director, Labor Art & Mural Project
Zalman Amit, Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Author, Israeli Rejectionism
Anthony Arnove, International Socialist Organization
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Switzerland
Ted Auerbach, Brooklyn for Peace
Anna Baltzer, author and organizer
Ronnie Barkan, Co-founder, Boycott from Within, Tel-Aviv
Judith Bello, Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition
Lawrence Boxall, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada; Vancouver Ecosocialist Group
Linda Benedikt, writer Munich, Germany
Nora Barrows-Friedman, journalist; Oakland
Prof. Jonathan Beller, Humanities and Media Studies Graduate Program in Media Studies, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
Medea Benjamin, co-founder, CODEPINK
Rica Bird, Joint Founder, Merseyside Jews for Peace and Justice
Audrey Bomse, Co-chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee
Prof. Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley
Lenni Brenner, Author, Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators
Elizabeth Block, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
Max Blumenthal, Author, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel; and Senior Writer for Alternet.org
Mary P. Buchwald, Jewish Voice for Peace-New York
Monique Buckner, BDS South Africa
Maia Brown, Health and Human Rights Project-Seattle & Stop Veolia Seattle
Estee Chandler, Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles
Rick Chertoff, L..A. Jews for Peace
Prof. Marjorie Cohn, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; past president, National Lawyers Guild
Ally Cohen, Ramallah, Palestine; International Solidarity Movement media coordinator
Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, Youth for Palestine, Netherlands
Mike Cushman, Convenor, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Margaretta D’arcy, Irish actress, writer, playwright, and peace-activist
Natalie Zemon Davis, Historian
Warren Davis, labor and political activist, Philadelphia, PA
Eron Davidson, film maker
Judith Deutsch, Independent Jewish Voices Canada; Science for Peace
Roger Dittmann, Professor of Physics, Emeritus California State University, Fullerton; President, Scholars and Scientists without Borders Executive Council, World Federation of Scientific Workers
Gordon Doctorow, Ed.D., Canada
Mark Elf, Jews Sans Frontieres, London, UK
Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor and human rights activist; St. Louis, MO
Marla Erlien, New York NY
Shelley Ettinger, writer/activist, New York, NY
Inge Etzbach, Human Rights Activist, Café Palestina NY
Richard Falk, Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, 2008-2014
Malkah B. Feldman, Jewish Voice for Peace and recent delegate to Palestine with American Jews For A Just Peace
Deborah Fink, Co-Founder, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods UK
Joel Finkel, Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago
Sylvia Finzi, JfjfP; Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost, EJJP. Germany)
Maxine Fookson, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; Jewish Voice for Peace, Portland OR-
Richard Forer, Author, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine
Sid Frankel, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Prof. Cynthia Franklin, Co-Editor, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, University of Hawai’i
Racheli Gai, Jewish Voice for Peace
Herb Gamberg, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
Ruth Gamberg, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
Lee Gargagliano, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Cheryl Gaster, social justice activist and human right lawyer, Toronto ON
Alisa Gayle-Deutsch, American/Canadian Musician and Anti-Israeli Apartheid Activist
Jack Gegenberg, Professor of Mathematics, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton NB
Prof. Terri Ginsberg, film and media scholar, New York
David Glick, psychotherapist; Jewish Voice for Peace
Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Professor, CSULB; Israel Divestment Campaign
Neta Golan, Ramallah, Palestine; Jews Against Genocide; Co-founder, International Solidarity Movement.
Tsilli Goldenberg, teacher, Jerusalem, Israel
Steve Goldfield, Ph.D.
Sue Goldstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Canada
Marty Goodman, former Executive Board member, Transport Workers Union Local 100; Socialist Action
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Freeman Fellow, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Hector Grad, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Spain
Prof. Jesse Greener, University of Laval
Cathy Gulkin, Filmmaker, Toronto ON
Ira Grupper, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY
Jeff Halper, The Israeli Committee Against House demolitions (ICAHD)
Larry Haiven, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Halifax
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, publisher, Germany
Stanley Heller, The Struggle Video News TSVN
Shir Hever, Jewish Voice for Just Peace, Germany
Deborah Hrbek, media and civil rights lawyer, NLG-NYC
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Adam Horowitz, Co-Editor, Mondoweiss
Gilad Isaacs, Economist, Wits University.
Selma James, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jake Javanshir, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
Riva Joffe, Jews Against Zionism
Val Jonas, attorney, Miami Beach
Sima Kahn, MD; President of the board, Kadima Reconstructionist Community
Yael Kahn, Israeli anti-apartheid activist
Michael Kalmanovitz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (UK)
Dan Kaplan, AFT Local 1493
Susan Kaplan, J.D. National Lawyers Guild
Danny Katch, activist and author
Bruce Katz, President, Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Montreal, Canada
Lynn Kessler, Ph.D., MPH, psychologist/social justice activist
Janet Klecker, Sonomans for Justice & Peace for Palestine, Sonoma CA
Prof. David Klein, California State University, Northridge; USACBI
Emma Klein, Jewish Voice for Peace, Seattle WA
Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Harry Kopyto, Legal activist Toronto ON
Richard Koritz, veteran postal trade unionist and former member of North Carolina Human Relations Commission
Yael Korin, PhD., Scientist at UCLA; Campaign to End IsraelI Apartheid, Southern California
Dennis Kortheuer, CSULB, Israel Divestment Campaign
Steve Kowit, Professor Emeritus, Jewish Voice for Peace
Toby Kramer, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jason Kunin, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Dr. David Landy, Trinity College, Dublin
Jean Léger, Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine, membre de la Coalition BDS Québec et de Palestiniens et Juifs Unis
Lynda Lemberg, Educators for Peace and Justice, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
David Letwin,* activist and teacher, Al-Awda NY
Michael Letwin,* former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; USACBI; Al-Awda NY
Les Levidow, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), UK
Corey Levine, Human Rights Activist, Writer; National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Joseph Levine, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lesley Levy, Independent Jewish Voices, Montreal
Mich Levy, teacher, Oakland CA
Abby Lippman, Professor Emerita; activist; Montreal
Brooke Lober, PhD candidate, University of Arizona, Gender and Women’s Studies Department
Antony Loewenstein, journalist, author and Guardian columnist
Jennifer Loewenstein, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Alex Lubin, Professor of American Studies, University of New Meixco
Andrew Lugg, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, Canada
David Makofsky, Jewish Voice for Peace, Research Anthropologist
Harriet Malinowitz, Professor of English, Long Island University, Brooklyn
Mike Marqusee, Author, If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
Miriam Marton, JD
Dr. Richard Matthews. independent scholar, London ON
Daniel L. Meyers, Former President National Lawyers Guild-NYC
Linda Milazzo, Writer/Activist/Educator, Los Angeles
Eva Steiner Moseley, Holocaust refugee, Massachusetts Peace Action board member and Palestine/Israel Working Group
Dr. Dorothy Naor, retired teacher, Herzliah, Israel
Marcy Newman, independent scholar; Author; The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans
Alex Nissen, Women in Black
Dr. Judith Norman, San Antonio, TX
Henry Norr, retired journalist, Berkeley CA
Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror
Prof. Bertell Ollman, NYU
Karin Pally, Santa Monica, CA
Prof. Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and socialist activist
Karen Platt, Jewish Voice for Peace, Albany CA
Dr. Susan Pashkoff, Jews Against Zionism, London UK
Miko Peled, writer, activist; Author, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
Prof. Gabriel Piterberg, UCLA
Mitch Podolak, Founder, Winnipeg Folk Festival and Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Karen Pomer,* granddaughter of Henri B. van Leeuwen, Dutch anti-Zionist leader and Bergen-Belsen survivor
Lenny Potash, Los Angeles CA
Fabienne Presentey, Independent Jewish Voices, Montréal
Diana Ralph, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London
Karen Ranucci, Independent Journalist, Democracy Now!
Ana Ratner, Artist, Puppeteer, Activist.
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights
Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Jewish Voice Germany
Diana M.A. Relke, Professor Emerita, University of Saskatchewan
Prof. Bruce Robbins, Columbia University
Stewart M. Robinson, retired Prof of Mathematics
Professor Lisa Rofel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Mimi Rosenberg, Producer & Host, Building Bridges and Wednesday Edition, WBAI 99.5 FM; Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Lillian Rosengarten, Author, From The Shadows Of Nazi Germany To The Jewish Boat To Gaza
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Yehoahua Rosin, Israel
Ilana Rossoff, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Martha Roth, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver BC
Marty Roth, Emeritus professor of English, University of Minnesota
Ruben Roth, Assistant Professor, Labour Studies, Laurentian University; Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Emma Rubin, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Cheryl A. Rubenberg, Middle East Scholar; Editor, Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Author, The Palestinians in Search of a Just Peace
Josh Ruebner, Author, Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Mark Rudd, retired teacher, Albuquerque NM
Ben Saifer, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Evalyn Segal, Rossmoor Senior Community
Sylvia Schwarz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League; Haifa
Carole Seligman, co-editor, Socialist Viewpoint magazine
Yom Shamash, Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver, Canada
Tali Shapiro, Boycott from Within; Israel
Karen Shenfeld, Poet, Toronto ON
Sid Shniad, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
William Shookhoff, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
Melinda Smith, Jewish Voice for Peace, Albuquerque NM
Kobi Snitz, Tel Aviv
Marsha Steinberg, BDS-LA for Justice in Palestine, Los Angeles
Lotta Strandberg, Visiting Scholar, NYU
Carol Stone, Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver BC
Miriam (Cherkes-Julkowski) Swenson, Ph.D.
Matthew Taylor, author
Laura Tillem, Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas
Peter Trainor, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
Rebecca Tumposky, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Darlene Wallach, Justice for Palestinians, San Jose CA
Dr. Abraham Weizfeld, JPLO
Bonnie Weinstein, Co-Editor of Socialist Viewpoint magazine; Publisher, Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Sam Weinstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labor; former President, UWUA Local 132
Judith Weisman, Independent Jewish Voices; Not in Our Name (NION); Toronto ON
Paul Werner, PhD, DSFS Editor, WOID, a journal of visual language
Noga Wizansky, Ph.D., artist, instructor, and researcher; Administrator, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley
Marcy Winograd, public school teacher, former congressional peace candidate
Bekah Wolf, UC Hastings College of Law Student; Co-founder, Palestine Solidarity Project
Sherry Wolf, International Socialist Organization
Dave Zirin, Author, Game Over: How Politics Have Turned the Sports World Upside Down
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Strong interview with Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah on Al-Jazeera English explaining the reality of Israeli violence in Gaza, resistance to its onslaught and the need for justice:
My weekly Guardian column:
The Sri Lankan Navy band was busy last week, learning the tune to Waltzing Matilda. They played it to welcome Scott Morrison, the Australian immigration minister, who was visiting to launch two patrol boats donated by the Australian government. A photo of the moment,tweeted by journalist Jason Koutsoukis, showed Morrison sitting alongside president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Perhaps it didn’t worry Morrison that there are growing calls to prosecute Gotabaya Rajapaksa for war crimes, because of his actions in 2009 during the Sri Lankan civil war. Australia has been aware of Sri Lanka’s breaches of human rights for some time.
Australia is now closer to the regime than ever, because of their assistance in implementing Morrison’s tough border protection strategy. As Emily Howie, the director of advocacy and research at the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre, reported in 2013, “the Australian government is actively funding and supporting Sri Lanka to undertake these interceptions [of asylum seekers].”
Her report was based on interviews she gathered in Sri Lanka with people who wanted to leave and were stopped, interrogated and often tortured. Howie wrote in The Conversation that arbitrary detention, beatings and torture are routinely meted out to those in custody, Tamil and Sinhalese, with Canberra’s knowledge.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) works closely with its Sri Lankan counterparts, providing training, intelligence, vehicles and surveillance equipment. This has been happening for years. From time to time, stories surface alleging that AFP offers have been present during Sri Lankan police beatings and interrogations of returned asylum seekers. If true, this fits into a wider pattern of Western officials colluding with thuggish militias and authorities over the last few decades, including in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Britain has had its own peculiar involvement in the darkness of Sri Lanka’s recent past. A groundbreaking new report by British researcher and journalist Phil Miller, a researcher at London-based Corporate Watch and regular contributor to Open Democracy on detention issues, outlines how brutal British tactics utilised in Northern Ireland were brought to Sri Lanka in its war against dissidents and Tamils.
The report uncovers new evidence of government and mercenary elements colluding to put down Tamil independence and calls for equal rights. From the early 1980s, London denied any official involvement in training Sri Lankan “para-military [forces] for counter-insurgency operations” but documents show how the British were working closely with Colombo to stamp out the Tamil Tiger insurgency.
Britain saw a unique opportunity to maintain influence with Colombo by training a generation of Sri Lankan officers. London set up a military academy there in 1997, supplied a range of weapons to the army, assisted Sri Lankan intelligence agencies, protected Sri Lanka in international forums against abuse allegations and pressured various governments to ban the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organisation after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
One month after the end of the civil war in 2009, Britain was working to assist the growth of Sri Lanka’s police department. There was no concern over the serious allegations of massive human rights abuses of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan military. The agenda was economic and political, with Liam Fox, the British defence minister, explaining in June 2011 that Sri Lanka played a vital role in combating international piracy.
“Sri Lanka is located in a pivotal position in the Indian Ocean with major international shipping routes between the Far East and the Gulf within 25 miles of your coast”, he said.
Russia, China, Israel and America have sold military hardware to Colombo both before and after 2009. Wikileaks cables show the US government recognised the Sri Lankan military’s role in atrocities during the civil war. Although the Tamil Tigers undeniably committed terrorist acts, state terrorism by the Sri Lankan establishment was far worse. Australia’s view has been consistent for decades: Canberra rarely recognises state terrorism if committed by an ally.
Australia’s former high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Bruce Haigh, stationed in the country from 1994, recalls how the high commission in Colombo would regularly liaise with its Sri Lankan counterparts, run training programs and accept Colombo’s line that any and all Tamils associated with the liberation struggle were terrorists.
This mindset existed long before September 11. Little has changed, though. Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, has gone even further than his mentor, John Howard, by expressing sympathy for a Sri Lankan regime that tortures its opponents and refuses to endorse an independent investigation into the end of the civil war.
How nations like Australia should relate to Sri Lanka and other human rights abusing countries is a tough question, when Canberra itself routinely breaches its international obligations. At the very least, we should call for rights to be recognised and improved in foreign lands and at home.
Gideon Levy in Haaretz:
The goal of Operation Protective Edge is to restore the calm; the means: killing civilians. The slogan of the Mafia has become official Israeli policy. Israel sincerely believes that if it kills hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, quiet will reign. It is pointless to destroy the weapons stores of Hamas, which has already proved capable of rearmament. Bringing down the Hamas government is an unrealistic (and illegitimate) goal, one that Israel does not want: It is aware that the alternative could be much worse. That leaves only one possible purpose for the military operation: death to Arabs, accompanied by the cheering of the masses.
The Israel Defense Forces already has a “map of pain,” a diabolical invention that has replaced the no less diabolical “bank of targets,” and that map is spreading at a sickening pace. Watch Al Jazeera English, a balanced and professional television channel (unlike its Arabic sister station), and see the extent of its success. You won’t see it in Israel’s “open” broadcast studios, which as usual are only open to the Israeli victim, but on Al Jazeera you will see the whole truth, and perhaps you will even be shocked.
The bodies in Gaza are piling up, the desperate, constantly updated tabulation of mass killing that Israel boasts of, which already numbers dozens of civilians, including 24 children as of noon on Saturday; hundreds of people injured, in addition to horror and destruction. One school and one hospital have already been bombed. The aim is to strike homes, and no amount of justification can help: It’s a war crime, even if the IDF calls them “command-and-control centers” or “conference rooms.” Granted, there are strikes that are much more brutal than Israel’s, but in this war, which is nothing other than mutual attacks on civilians — the elephant against the fly — there aren’t even any refugees. In contrast to Syria and Iraq, in the Gaza Strip the inhabitants do not have the luxury of fleeing for their lives. In a cage, there’s nowhere to run.
Since the first Lebanon war, more than 30 years ago, the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument. The IDF doesn’t wage war against armies, and its main target is civilian populations. Arabs are born only to kill and to be killed, as everyone knows. They have no other goal in life, and Israel kills them.
One must, of course, be outraged by the modus operandi of Hamas: Not only does it aim its rockets at civilian population centers in Israel, not only does it position itself within population centers — it may not have an alternative, given the crowded conditions in the Strip — but it also leaves the Gazan civilian population vulnerable to Israel’s brutal attacks, without seeing to a single siren, shelter or protected space. That is criminal. But the barrages of the Israel Air Force are no less criminal, on account of both the result and the intent: There isn’t a single residential building in the Gaza Strip that is not home to dozens of women and children; the IDF cannot, therefore, claim that it does not mean to hurt innocent civilians. If the recent demolition of the home of a terrorist in the West Bank still stirred a weak protest, now dozens of homes are being destroyed, together with their occupants.
Retired generals and commentators on active duty compete to make the most monstrous proposal: “If we kill their families, that will frighten them,” explained Maj.Gen. (res.) Oren Shachor, without batting an eyelid. “We must create a situation such that when they come out of their burrows, they won’t recognize Gaza,” others said. Shamelessly, without question — until the next Goldstone investigation.
A war with no goal is among the most despicable of wars; the deliberate targeting of civilians is among the most atrocious of means. Terror now reigns in Israel as well, but it’s unlikely there is a single Israeli who can imagine what it’s like for Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants, whose already miserable lives are now totally horrific. The Gaza Strip is not a “hornet’s nest,” it is a province of human desperation. Hamas is not an army, far from it, despite all the fear tactics: If it really did build such a sophisticated network of tunnels there, as is claimed, then why doesn’t it build Tel Aviv’s light rail network, already?
The 1,000-sortie and 1,000 tons of explosives marks have almost been reached, and Israel is waiting for the “victory picture” that has already been achieved: Death to Arabs.
In 2011 Norwegian Anders Breivik murdered dozens of his countrymen and women in a rampage of hatred.
Soon after, three Australians, Tad Tietze, Liz Humphrys and Guy Rundle, edited a collection, On Utoya, about the event. My chapter was about the growing connections between the far-right and Israel.
The e-book has now been released as a free PDF. They write:
On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, a Right-wing writer and activist, killed more than sixty young members of the Norwegian Labour Party on Utøya island. Captured alive, Breivik was more than willing to explain his actions as a ‘necessary atrocity’ designed to ‘wake up’ Europe to its betrayal by the Left, and its impending destruction through immigration and multiculturalism.
Following these events Guy Rundle, Tad Tietze and I collaborated to edit, within three months of the killings, On Utøya. The ebook was a challenge to anyone who would seek to portray the events in Norway as anything other than what they were – a violent mass assassination, directed against the Left, to terrorise people into silence and submission to a far-right and Islamophobic agenda.
Since this time the essays have been reproduced and expanded on in numerous forms in the Australian and UK media, as well as in academic and psychiatric journals, by the authors.
Here we provide a free open access PDF version of the book for all to read, with essays by Anindya Bhattacharyya, Antony Loewenstein, Lizzie O’Shea, Richard Seymour, Jeff Sparrow and the editors.
The book can be downloaded from academia.edu, HERE.
Moving report, on NBC News, by Ayman Mohyeldin that details the current Israeli violence in Gaza. Slowly but surely Americans are being exposed to the reality of Israel’s crimes in Palestine:
My weekly Guardian column:
William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.
On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once arguedthat the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.
Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.
“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”
He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.
Unlike Snowden, Binney didn’t take any documents with him when he left the NSA. He now says that hard evidence of illegal spying would have been invaluable. The latest Snowden leaks, featured in the Washington Post, detail private conversations of average Americans with no connection to extremism.
It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”
The lack of official oversight is one of Binney’s key concerns, particularly of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa), which is held out by NSA defenders as a sign of the surveillance scheme’s constitutionality.
“The Fisa court has only the government’s point of view”, he argued. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.”
A Fisa court in 2010 allowed the NSA to spy on 193 countries around the world, plus the World Bank, though there’s evidence that even the nations the US isn’t supposed to monitor – Five Eyes allies Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – aren’t immune from being spied on. It’s why encryption is today so essential to transmit information safely.
Binney recently told the German NSA inquiry committee that his former employer had a “totalitarian mentality” that was the “greatest threat” to US society since that country’s US Civil War in the 19th century. Despite this remarkable power, Binney still mocked the NSA’s failures, including missing this year’s Russian intervention in Ukraine and the Islamic State’s take-over of Iraq.
The era of mass surveillance has gone from the fringes of public debate to the mainstream, where it belongs. The Pew Research Centre released a report this month, Digital Life in 2025, that predicted worsening state control and censorship, reduced public trust, and increased commercialisation of every aspect of web culture.
It’s not just internet experts warning about the internet’s colonisation by state and corporate power. One of Europe’s leading web creators, Lena Thiele, presented her stunning series Netwars in London on the threat of cyber warfare. She showed how easy it is for governments and corporations to capture our personal information without us even realising.
Thiele said that the US budget for cyber security was US$67 billion in 2013 and will double by 2016. Much of this money is wasted and doesn’t protect online infrastructure. This fact doesn’t worry the multinationals making a killing from the gross exaggeration of fear that permeates the public domain.
Wikileaks understands this reality better than most. Founder Julian Assange and investigative editor Sarah Harrison both remain in legal limbo. I spent time with Assange in his current home at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last week, where he continues to work, release leaks, and fight various legal battles. He hopes to resolve his predicament soon.
At the Centre for Investigative Journalism conference, Harrison stressed the importance of journalists who work with technologists to best report the NSA stories. “It’s no accident”, she said, “that some of the best stories on the NSA are in Germany, where there’s technical assistance from people like Jacob Appelbaum.”
A core Wikileaks belief, she stressed, is releasing all documents in their entirety, something the group criticised the news site The Intercept for not doing on a recent story. “The full archive should always be published”, Harrison said.
With 8m documents on its website after years of leaking, the importance of publishing and maintaining source documents for the media, general public and court cases can’t be under-estimated. “I see Wikileaks as a library”, Assange said. “We’re the librarians who can’t say no.”
With evidence that there could be a second NSA leaker, the time for more aggressive reporting is now. As Binney said: “I call people who are covering up NSA crimes traitors”.
The following was broadcast last week by ABC TV’s Big Ideas:
Big Ideas went to the deep north for the Wordstorm festival in Darwin. This is a festival that covers local and national politics and culture with a hefty dose of late night rapping. Some of the rap probably needs a late night time slot; but we can bring you this uncensored session on freedom of the press that pulls together some local journalists and some from the bigger smoke.
The panellists are Kerrie Anne Walsh, formerly of the Canberra Press Gallery & author of The Stalking of Julia Gillard; Glen Morrison, a journalist from Alice Springs, John Van Tiggelan; formerly with The Good Weekend & currently a journalist with The Monthly, writer Claire Scobie & the ubiquitous Antony Loewenstein – blogger, doco maker and journalist. His last book you might recall was Profits of Doom.
Kerrie Anne Walsh is particularly good on the big changes in the reportage and alignments within the Canberra press gallery.
My weekly Guardian column:
The story from an Athens hospital beggared belief. In May a 54 year old man needed immediate heart surgery. He was unemployed and uninsured, a common reality for many Greek citizens since the economic crisis hit in 2008. The hospital initially refused to admit him, fearing they would never get paid, but the man said he would submit the required welfare document when he received it. His doctor convinced the facility that the patient was in jeopardy and must be operated on immediately.
The man, whose name has not been released – though the story has been verified by reliable sources – was lying in the operating theatre waiting to have a pacemaker installed, when a person from the hospital’s accounting department arrived. Because the patient hadn’t submitted the necessary welfare documents, the accountant forced the doctors to stop the procedure.
It was only the next day, after pressure from a unique organisation called the metropolitan community clinic in Helliniko, that the man had the life-saving work. Instead of acknowledging fault, the Greek health ministry preferred to blame the messenger, accusing the metropolitan clinic of concocting the story.
Such issues are increasingly common here in Greece. According to Transparency International, Greece has the most corrupt public service in Europe. The Institute of Economic Affairs found that Greece’s shadow economy in 2012 was equivalent to 24% of GDP.
On a balmy evening last week I visited the metropolitan clinic to see their response to this sad state of affairs. Situated on an old US army base on the outskirts of Athens, the organisation has become an invaluable service for 28,000 people since it began operations in 2011.
A storeroom full of donated medicine is the foundation of its operations. Visiting rooms are staffed entirely by volunteers, 250 Greeks who rotate on a roster.
Spokesman Christos Sideris explained to me that the centre treated the most desperate. “The clinic only accepts the poor and unemployed, people who have no insurance, those on low wages and pensions, all ages and sexes and even former industrialists who have fallen from financial highs,” he said. “Neoliberal ideology is putting money above people’s lives.”
There are a few key rules implemented by the group’s assembly: “No party politics and no money but we will take drugs as donations. We won’t have Greek politicians with TV crews to look around here. The clinic does not advertise who gives drugs, it’s anonymous, and we will try not to associate ourselves with companies, individuals or NGOs who got us into the financial crisis in the first place.”
Founder and key doctor Giorgos Vichas hoped that there would be no need for the facility in a few years’ time – though he’s being asked to advise on similar community clinics across Europe, including a new one just opened in Hamburg, Germany.
Vichas told me that the medical association of Athens tried to close the centre down in 2013, saying the clinic lacked the correct permits to operate. “But then in late 2013 the drugs police arrived with a magistrate who came with a bag of drugs to donate,” he said. “She could have shut us down.”
The clinic is a necessity in a country where extreme poverty, suicide and drug abuse are surging. Every time I catch a train around Athens I see Greeks begging for money or selling small pens for a pittance. A constant presence around the city are signs of protesting cleaning women, sacked by the finance ministry in 2013, holding constant protests to demand their jobs back.
For many, they’ve become a symbol of opposition against a state bureaucracy that prefers to talk of selling public assets to appease the EU and arrest the financial decline. China is now getting in on the act, keen to purchase its own part of the Greek state. Brussels is even financing a continent wide drone program. Greece has announced, without any public consultation, that the unmanned vehicles will be used to monitor immigrants over its sea borders.
I find myself agreeing with Slavoj Žižek, who argues that only a radicalised left can save Europe, including Greece, from slipping deeper into the morass of a populist, anti-refugee right.
This left is undoubtedly growing. During a public event last week in Athens with writer Christos Tsiolkas and me, talking about the concept of nation in a fractured, patriotic world, organiser Eugenia Tzirtzilaki encouraged the audience to challenge popular and simplistic notions of identity and find a more inclusive European perspective.
The crowd argued that Greece’s dark and racist past, along with its similar present, must be rejected. Yet finding an effective response to the use and abuse of nationalism, so beloved of the far-right and current government, is no easy task.
Thankfully, there are signs that many Greeks are blaming those directly responsible for the current crisis and not believing a person like IMF head Christine Lagarde, who remains in denial about how her organisation punishes the most vulnerable in Greece.
Greek lawyer Thanasis Kampagiannis is a member of Keerfa: Movement United Against Racism and Fascist Threat. he has spent years campaigning against the growth in extremism. He recently successfully represented the family of Pakistani man Shehzad Luqman, who was murdered by Golden Dawn thugs in Athens in 2013. The accused are now serving life sentences for the crime.
The lawyer is also involved in the likely, upcoming trial of the Golden Dawn leadership, though Kampagiannis remains skeptical it will happen.Collusion between the state and Golden Dawn is rife; nevertheless, he will appear to defend Egyptian fishermen assaulted by the party’s henchmen.
Kampagiannis is encouraged by the growing success of left-wing Syriza. It’s now the biggest party in the nation, but he is concerned its leadership won’t take the necessary “radical” action to rescue Greece.
“I worry that they accept the EU framework”, he said. “Leader Alexis Tsipras thinks you can reform the EU terms on which Greece implements measures against austerity.” With a majority of Greeks now having a “negative opinion” of the EU, Kampagiannis argued that Greece should leave it. In the transition away from Brussels, he told me, “we can have a policy where the working class interests are protected and capital should pay”.
It’s a vision that may find resonance beyond Greece’s borders in the coming decade.