zaterdag 17 april 2010

Israel als Schurkenstaat 110

Boldness vs. Bullets at the Gaza Border

by: Max Ajl, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Photo: Max Ajl)

The razor-wire and concrete frontier between Israel and Gaza is intermittently interrupted by remote-controlled metal observation towers equipped with motion sensors. When the sensors detect something, the metal petals atop the towers peel back, blooming. A small bloom means the interior camera is peering around. A big bloom occurs when the people controlling the machine guns inside the turret are thinking about blasting someone.

On Tuesday, in a border area near Atatra, a neighborhood in Beit Lehiya in northern Gaza, the top only opened a little - just looking around. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) software operator saw us nearing the border, perhaps 200 Palestinians and seven internationals. The Palestinians marched, boisterously and peacefully, holding a banner reading "No for the security wall and we call on international society for urgent intervention to stop the Israeli violations of Palestinian rights."

The bigger group of them stopped maybe 150 meters of the border, well within the Israel-decreed buffer zone. The bolder youth surged forward, to the first string of barbed wire, maybe 25 meters from the border, then around it, past the ring road, then nearly to the border fence. There they defiantly planted a Palestinian flag. They climbed on top of a metal structure, maybe formerly used for transmitting electricity, and planted several Palestinian flags. I mentioned to another international, Rada, that "someone was going to get shot," we were so close to the border. I guessed wrong, luckily. And there we waited. We didn't wait too long.

First one jeep, then two, then three, drove up in a tremendous hurry. IDF marksmen rushed from the jeeps and took up sniping positions on a sand-dune overlooking the enemy: in this case peaceful Palestinian demonstrators clustered on their own land, with a few international witnesses, and a lot of clearly visible press wearing blue flak jackets.

After a few quiet minutes, an order came in and bullets started rifling through the air. First, warning shots. Then shots that were really intended to warn us. Then more ambiguous shots. Bursts of sand started to seemingly explode in front of our shoes, and most of the youth, save a select, surreally brave few, retreated pell-mell. They know what happened on Land Day, when the IDF shot young Palestinian men. But some stayed, and we stayed with them. Bullets start flying close enough to my head that I could feel the passage of the air and the crackle of the passage throb in my ears. These, too, were "warning shots," but the soldiers were perched on a sand dune. Sand isn't great footing. If they had slipped, someone could have caught a bullet. I and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer Adie Mormech started to retreat to where the rest of the press corps was stationed.

ISM volunteer Eva Bartlett stayed at the forefront, waving her arms as bullets thudded into the sand around her. Eva is identifiably Western, blond and white. The ISM goes in an effort to ensure that Palestinians aren't shot at these demonstrations, and if they are, to document the shootings. It hopes an international presence deters the defense forces.

Sometimes this may be true. Other times, it is not true.

The Israeli army is far more likely to shoot Palestinian protesters than Western ones. People in the West raise less of a fuss over a Palestinian corpse than a Western one. We all know the names of Western activists murdered by the IDF - Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall - and scarcely know the names of the many, many more Palestinians who were slaughtered as they nonviolently mobilized against the occupation.

As I backed up to around 100 meters, bullets kept flying. One of the protest's organizers, Saber Zaaneen, from the Beit Hanoun-based Local Initative, started retreating too. He used to be a member of the muqawama, the armed resistance. He knows about violence and facing Israeli bullets. More recently, he has chosen another path: nonviolence. As he told the Palestine Telegraph, "I wanted to experiment with that strategy in Gaza," he said. "The strength of these demonstrations is that they attract international activists and journalists to see what's really happening."

The spectacle of Israeli sniper bullets cutting the air around me as I stood on Palestinian land remained with me when I sat down at my computer that evening. Ethan Bronner, bureau chief in Jerusalem for The New York Times, had written an article about Palestinian nonviolence. Perhaps he was going to extol the efflorescing nonviolent mobilization in the West Bank? Or he had heard of the recently burgeoning Ghazzawy nonviolent marches for security in the buffer zone? Maybe not.

Bronner wrote that the "Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, joined by the business community, is trying to forge a third way: to rouse popular passions while avoiding violence ... through acts of popular resistance." Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has apparently attempted to encourage this by planting trees, thereby, if slowly, helping to build a "virtual state."

Others, although not Bronner, have noted a certain inconsistency between the Palestinian Authority's rhetoric and its actions. Saleh al-Naami, a Gaza-based journalist, writes that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah are "are not shy about not tolerating a mood of popular action that could trigger a third Intifada. Adnan Al-Damiri, spokesman for Fayyad's security apparatus, justified security intervention to prevent many demonstrations by various popular movements to protest against Israel's actions." They don't want popular resistance to become popular. So Fayyad partakes in "controlled exclusive events," which are meant to avoid inciting larger mobilizations. Such larger mobilizations are not welcome. As one anonymous military official told Bronner, "We respect Salam Fayyad ... But we don't want him to engage in incitement. Burning goods is incitement. Destroying the fence is incitement and is not nonviolent. They are walking a thin line." The "fence," incidentally, had been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Strange that an Israel Defense Forces officer would call destroying an illegal fence violent. It was almost hallucinogenic to read another bit of Bronner's piece, that, "Nonviolence has never caught on here.... But the current set of campaigns is trying to incorporate peaceful pressure in limited ways." The ongoing struggles in Bilin and Nilin, villages in the West Bank that struggle against the apartheid wall's theft of their territory, and the campaign against the destruction of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, likewise did not penetrate into the piece.

Bronner's elision of the first Intifada raises different questions. Overwhelmingly nonviolent, from 1987-1989 Palestinians took part in mass mobilization, including strikes, flag-raising, fasting and other varieties of civil disobedience. Bogglingly brave teenagers refused to disperse when tear-gassed or shot with live ammunition. Israel responded to this uprising with mass arrests, murders, curfews and assassinations. Yitzhak Rabin, former and future prime minister, said he would hammer the largely nonviolent mobilization with "force, might and beatings." By December 1989, the IDF had killed over 600 Palestinians, injured perhaps 20,000 and jailed perhaps 50,000. Historians and the entire population of Palestine are well aware that it is not precisely in Palestine that "nonviolence has never caught on." Surprisingly, since the IDF is pretty quick to pepper bullets in the general direction of utterly peaceful protesters. Not the sort of thing to encourage peaceful mobilization, but it keeps happening anyway - just not under the stewardship of Fayyad.

Perhaps Bronner could come check this out himself. I can reserve a spot for him next week in Beit Hanoun - three meters away from the sniper bullets. Cool?

Yoram Stein 23

Nadat Friedrich Nietzsche God dood had verklaard, schreef hij in een brief aan zijn vriend Overbeck: 'Es wird einmal an meinen Namen die Erinnerung an etwas Ungeheueres anknupfen, - an eine Krisis, wie es keine auf Erden gab, an die tiefste Gewissens-Collision, an einde Entscheidung, heraufbeschworen gegen Alles, was bis dahin geglaubt, gefordert, geheiligt worden war.' En toen de westerse wereld op het punt stond massaal ontheiligd te worden, stelde de filosoof het volgende: 'Mir besteht mein Leben jetzt in dem Wunsche dass es mit allen Dingen anders gehen moge, als ich sie begreife; und dass mir jemand meine "Wahrheiten" unglaubwurdig machen.' En wel omdat door de doodverklaring van God het nihilisme zijn intrede deed: 'der unheimlichste aller Gäste.'

Een van de gevaarlijkste uiterlijke kenmerken van dat nihilisme is het slachtofferisme, een karakteristieke eigenschap van de moderne massamens die weigert de eigen verantwoordelijkheid te aanvaarden en daarom niet zonder een slachtoffer kan waarop hij zijn eigen onvermogen kan projecteren. Dit probleem zag Nietzsche lang voordat het slachtofferisme een politiek fenomeen werd. Hij besefte als geen ander dat zodra de mens zijn god dood had verklaard het onvermijdelijke lijden geen betekenis meer kon krijgen. Voorheen kon de gelovige nog zijn god of zijn duivel de schuld geven van al het ondraaglijke lijden, en de vertroosting was dat de 'vrome' mens later in de hemel gecompenseerd zou worden. Maar zonder god bestaat er geen metafysische verklaring meer voor het lijden, en dat was een ernstig probleem want ondanks alle successen van de Verlichtinsideologie bleef de mens lijden en moest die op zoek naar een nieuwe verklaring. De oplossing werd gevonden in 'de ander'. De ander werd de oorzaak van het eigen lijden. En wie was die ander? Simpelweg, degene die het meest afweek, die altijd al gezien werd als een vijfde colonne, als er niet bij horend, als een potentieel gevaar.

De ander was in de christelijke cultuur altijd de jood geweest, en dat veranderde niet toen de christelijke god dood was verklaard. Het nihilisme, 'der unheimlichste aller Gäste.' leidde onvermijdelijk tot de Holocaust, waaraan het enige nieuwe het feit was dat de vernietiging nu fabrieksmatig kon worden uitgevoerd, en zich binnen Europa voltrok en niet langer meer exclusief in de kolonien. Zoals er massaproductie was, was er nu ook massavernietiging. Auschwitz en Hiroshima waren het resultaat van dit nihilisme, dat logischerwijs niet verdwenen is maar met andere namen en in andere vermommingen gewoon doorgaat, precies zoals Nietzsche had voorspeld. De jood is de Arabier geworden, Yoram heet nu Achmed.

De slachtofferist kan van alles en nog wat, maar één ding niet, te weten: zijn persoonlijke verantwoordelijkheid accepteren. Dit is de kern van de zaak. Het slachtofferschap is het enige concrete dat hem overeind houdt, het is de kruk waarmee hij zich door het leven baant. Zonder het slachtofferschap zou hij niet kunnen bestaan, hij zou van angst sterven. Het is zijn raison d'être. Geen filosofie kan hem zijn slachtofferschap ontnemen. Hij klampt zich eraan vast als een drenkeling aan een vlot. Ik ben een slachtoffer en dus besta ik. Een heldere illustratie van dit fenomeen is de wijze waarop Yoram Stein zijn voormalige 'wietverslaving' beoordeelt.

Ik citeer uit interviews met hem:

'Ik was er aan gewend geraakt om alle gevoelens te belonen met een joint. Bij verdriet liet ik me troosten door de hasj. Als ik boos was, liet ik me kalmeren. Als ik blij was, gebruikte ik om te vieren.’

Het werd zo erg dat hij zich niet meer kon concentreren op zijn werk. ‘Mijn probleem was niet: hoe kan ik functioneren met die roes? Mijn probleem was: hoe kan ik functioneren zónder die roes?'

Men zou verwachten dat iemand die op het Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam filosofieles geeft in staat is om zichzelf de vraag te stellen waarom hij niet kon 'functioneren zónder die roes'. Per slot van rekening was het stoppen met zijn zogeheten 'wietverslaving' geen fysiek proces met alle afkickverschijnselen van dien, maar een psychische zaak. Anders gesteld: waarom ziet Stein 'als hij terugdenkt aan zijn eigen tijd' alleen 'een beeld voor zich van een kamer waar de luxaflex dicht zijn. ‘Ik had een soort onbestemde angst voor alles buiten die luxaflex. Ik nam de telefoon niet op. Ik kwam tot niets. Afwas die er maanden stond. Ongeopende post. Eigenlijk verkeerde ik in een totaal isolement.’

Dat kwam natuurlijk niet door de marihuana, maar door de beelden die de marihuana bij hem opriepen. Er zijn miljoenen wietgebruikers die geen paranoide levenshouding ontwikkelen. Integendeel zelfs. Waarom werd juist Yoram Stein overvallen door 'paniekaanvallen'? En waarom zorgde 'het stoppen voor een nieuw probleem: ''Ik kon niet meer schrijven. Er kwam zoveel naar boven. Ik was boos, agressief, labiel. Ik dacht: wat heb ik eigenlijk gedaan al die jaren? En hoe moet het verder met mij?''?'

Terechte vragen. Maar Yoram Stein deed wat elke slachtofferist altijd doet, hij ging niet zichzelf analyseren, hij stelde niet zichzelf de vraag waarom hij zo in de vernieling lag, nee, hij zocht de schuld van zijn eigen falen buiten zichzelf, als in een reflex.

Lees maar:

Ik voel me verraden. De gebruikers van nu zijn geen hippies die een onschuldig middel hebben ontdekt en filosoferen over een nieuwe samenleving. Het gaat om wannabe gangsta’s, die schijt hebben, onverschillig zijn, vluchten, omdat de maatschappij zoveel van hen vraagt...

Als je progressief bent, dan zeg je niet: ‘Wij komen op voor het recht om te blowen door jongeren.’ Dan zeg je: ‘Wij komen op voor het recht om een toekomst op te bouwen, het recht om betekenisvolle ervaringen op te doen.’ De ideologie rond cannabis moet veranderen. De intellectuele elite moet waarschuwen, ontmoedigen. Het lijkt er soms op dat in Nederland alles moet kunnen, behalve moraliseren.'

Als je de cijfers bekijkt, blijkt er in elke schoolklas wel een verslaafde te zitten. Maar nog steeds wordt het niet echt serieus genomen. Eigenlijk wordt er nog altijd gezegd: het is maar een jointje. Sommige mensen geloven nog steeds niet dat je er echt aan verslaafd kunt raken. Ik hoorde bovendien van Jaap de Vlieger, jarenlang drugsexpert bij de Rotterdamse politie, dat een aantal beleidsbepalende Nederlandse drugswetenschappers ook gebruikt.

Stein verbaast zich erover dat juist de PvdA de problemen met wiet en hasj niet aanpakt. ‘Als je íets kunt doen aan de tweedeling in de maatschappij, dan is dat het voeren van een ontmoedigingsbeleid.'

Sleutelwoorden zijn: 'verraden' en 'PvdA', of beter nog 'progressieven', die '[op]komen voor het recht om te blowen door jongeren.' In plaats van zijn eigen onvermogen onder ogen te zien zoekt de slachtofferist een schuldige voor zijn eigen falen. Zolang het geen sociale gevolgen heeft is dit geen probleem voor de samenleving. Het wordt evenwel gevaarlijk wanneer deze stoornis politieke consequenties krijgt als gevolg van toenemende angst en onzekerheid bij grote groepen mensen, zoals het geval was in het Europa van de jaren twintig en dertig van de vorige eeuw. Het was de dolkstootlegende, het zogeheten verraad van de democratie dat Hitler aan de macht hielp, en het zijn dezelfde ressentimenten tegen de progressieven die nu door Wilders worden geexploiteerd. En daar speelt Yoram Stein op in wanneer hij stelt zich 'verraden' te voelen door de lui die 'progessief' zijn. Stein's waarschuwing kan het volk niet anders dan serieus nemen, het heeft immers te maken met allereerst een ervaringsdeskundige, een voormalige 'wietverslaafde' die door de hel van zijn verslaving is gegaan nadat hij door de progressieven verraden was. Ziehier het slachtoffer dat nu geheel gelouterd leraar is op de vrijzinnige Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam. En de massamedia spelen het spel mee en voeren Yoram Stein ten tonele niet als een nihilistische slachtofferist, der unheimlichste aller Gäste,' maar als een heus slachtoffer, iemand zoals al die anderen die zich slachtoffer voelen van deze of gene, dan wel van dit of dat. En zo wordt het nihilisme een politiek fenomeen dat alleen in bloed kan eindigen als het niet op tijd wordt gestopt.

Israel als Schurkenstaat 109

Via Lucas:

Is the Star of David the new swastika?

In a disturbing reversal of symbolism, Israeli extremists are defacing Palestinian property with the Jewish symbol

This post originally appeared on Judy Mandelbaum's Open Salon blog.

Time was when Nazis used to slather swastikas on synagogues and Jewish businesses to prepare the local population for expulsion or much worse. It's sad that this sort of behavior persists around the world, as a new study by Tel Aviv University shows. But it's even sadder to see Israelis regularly defacing Palestinian property with Stars of David with equal glee and with what appears to be the same brain-dead mindset.

Your local paper might not have covered it, but in the wee hours of Wednesday morning a gang of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank village of Hawara. "Palestinians reported two torched cars on the village’s central road early yesterday," Haaretz writes. "A small village mosque, used only on the weekend, had the word 'Muhammad' sprayed in Hebrew and a Star of David. Haaretz also found graffiti with the Jewish prayer 'Praise be onto him for not making me a gentile.'" The attackers also took the opportunity to destroy some three hundred olive trees, a major source of local income.

In February of 2009, a Canadian writer by the name of Marcello Di Cintio witnessed how "earlier this week, the IDF raided Jayyous. Soldiers entered the village at night, seized about a hundred young men and penned them in the school gymnasium. The troops also occupied several village houses and spray-painted a Star of David over a pro-freedom mural on a school wall. The IDF took about a dozen men with them when they left, and the men are still in custody somewhere in Israel."

According to the Maan News Agency, in December 2008, "Israeli settlers rampaged through five villages in the northern West Bank early on Tuesday, vandalizing mosques, attacking farms and harassing residents. In the villages of Yatma, Qabalan and As-Sawiya, south of Nablus, settlers slashed the tires of more than 20 cars and also set fire to thousands of shekels worth of straw bales, used as animal feed. In As-Sawiya, settlers wrote slogans insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammad on the walls of a local mosque. [S]ettlers painted a star of David and slogans such as 'Death to Arabs' on the village mosque."

"On 19 March 2007, Israeli settlers illegally occupied an empty four-story Palestinian building," the Electronic Intifada reported. "This multi-unit Hebron building is close to the Kiryat Arba settlement of 7000 residents and is strategically located to link Kiryat Arba to the smaller enclaves inside Hebron’s Old City. … Palestinians say that another settlement will lead to yet another checkpoint and tighter curfews, further isolating this part of the city. Already settlers have placed a wire at the entrance of the Palestinian house across the street to trip residents as they exit their home. They have stoned the house and spray painted a Star of David on the front door."

Also in 2007, Tim McGirk blogged about his own experiences in the West Bank for Time Magazine:

Not long ago, I ventured into Hebron ... I wanted to see what [the Palestinians] thought of their Jewish neighbors. On this street, winding up a hill, it was easy to spot the Arab houses. Their windows and doors were covered in metal grills to protect them from stones, rotten fruit and the occasional gunshot coming from settlers living across the road. Over the years, a few Jewish settlers had also been shot by Palestinian militants, and Israeli soldiers had cordoned off this section, emptying life from the heart of old Hebron. The Arab houses were easy to spot for another reason. The settler kids had spray-painted a Star of David on walls of all the Arab houses. A religious symbol used for intimidation. I found this disturbing, like seeing the Klu Klux Klan’s cross blazing on a black man’s lawn.

Blogging for the Madison Times, George Arida described a visit to Nablus in 2003:

We stopped at Joseph's Tomb, a site of archaeological and religious significance. It also had military significance; the Israelis had bombed it over a year ago (the dome and outside walls were damaged) and then had later used it as a base of operations. The soldiers had left a spray-painted Star of David on the ancient stone wall. This spray-painted souvenir was left by the Israelis on the walls of many buildings in Nablus.

Israeli troops pulled out of the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2002. "The home of Hamdi Flaifer, 35, was in ruins after an Israeli search," the New York Times reported. "Windows were broken, furniture was smashed, sofa cushions slashed, closets and cabinets were emptied onto the floor. Just outside his front door, Israelis had spray-painted a Star of David and a number, indicating to other Israelis that his house had been searched."

The Mogen Dovid is a symbol that has experienced a roller coaster of shifting meanings over the centuries. The six-pointed star was a symbol known to many religious and spiritual traditions and only became firmly associated with Judaism and Zionism in the late nineteenth century. But its power as a Jewish symbol derives less from what Jews have done with it than from what anti-Semites have tried in vain to make it into. Storm troopers painted Stars of David on Jewish businesses during their boycott of Jewish shops in 1933. In September, 1941, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich signed a decree demanding that all Jews in German-occupied Europe wear a yellow star – first to shut them up as potential defeatists, and later to mark them for extermination. After the war the new State of Israel chose the Star of David as its national emblem. Thus it has gone from a symbol of pride to a symbol of shame and fear and then back again to a symbol of pride and endurance against impossible odds.

Will it return to being a symbol of shame and fear -- perhaps permanently? With attacks like the ones I described above on the increase, and now that the Israeli military has approved plans that could lead to the mass deportation of tens of thousands of West Bank residents on short notice, Palestinians are increasingly experiencing the Star of David as a threat to their very existence. This should be a scandal to everyone who remembers what the star has meant in the past. My message to Israelis is simple: Stop doing this. NOW.

Israel als Schurkenstaat 108

Whistleblowing Journalist Treated as "Fugitive Felon" by Israel's Mossad Intel Agents

Brave journalist who exposed lawbreaking OK'd by Israeli officers faces espionage charges; Mossad promises to "remove the gloves" to track him down.
April 14, 2010 |
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An Israeli journalist who went into hiding after writing a series of reports showing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders faces a lengthy jail term for espionage if caught, as Israeli security services warned at the weekend they would "remove the gloves" to track him down.

The Shin Bet, Israel's secret police, said it was treating Uri Blau, a reporter with the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper who has gone underground in London, as a "fugitive felon" and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

Options being considered are an extradition request to the British authorities or, if that fails, a secret operation by Mossad, Israel's spy agency, to smuggle him back, according to Maariv, a right-wing newspaper.

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Blau's informant, Anat Kamm, 23, a former conscript soldier who copied hundreds of classified documents during her military service, had confessed shortly after her arrest in December to doing so to expose "war crimes".

The Shin Bet claims that Mr Blau is holding hundreds of classified documents, including some reported to relate to Operation Cast Lead, Israel's attack on Gaza in winter 2008 in which the army is widely believed to have violated the rules of war.

Other documents, the basis of a Haaretz investigation published in 2008, concern a meeting between the head of the army, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the Shin Bet in which it was agreed to ignore a court ruling and continue carrying out executions of Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories.

Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, who has said his organisation was previously "too sensitive with the investigation", is now demanding that Mr Blau reveal his entire document archive and take a lie-detector test on his return to identify his sources, according to Haaretz. The newspaper and its lawyers have recommended that he remain in hiding to protect his informants.

Haaretz has also revealed that, in a highly unusual move shortly before Israel's attack on Gaza, it agreed to pull a printed edition after the army demanded at the last minute that one of Mr Blau's stories not be published. His report had already passed the military censor, which checks that articles do not endanger national security.

Lawyers and human rights groups fear that the army and Shin Bet are trying to silence investigative journalists and send a warning to other correspondents not to follow in Mr Blau's path.

"We have a dangerous precedent here, whereby the handing over of material to an Israeli newspaper is seen by the prosecutor's office as equivalent to contact with a foreign agent," said Eitan Lehman, Ms Kamm's lawyer. "The very notion of presenting information to the Israeli public alone is taken as an intention to hurt national security."

The Shin Bet's determination to arrest Mr Blau was revealed after a blanket gag order was lifted late last week on Ms Kamm's case. She has been under house arrest since December. She has admitted copying hundreds of classified documents while serving in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, in charge of operations in the West Bank, between 2005 and 2007.

Under an agreement with the Shin Bet last year, Haaretz and Mr Blau handed over 50 documents and agreed to the destruction of Mr Blau's computer.

Both sides accuse the other of subsequently reneging on the deal: the Shin Bet says Mr Blau secretly kept other documents copied by Ms Kamm that could be useful to Israel's enemies; while Mr Blau says the Shin Bet used the returned documents to track down Ms Kamm, his source, after assurances that they would not do so.

Haaretz said Mr Blau fears that they will try to identify his other informants if he hands over his archive.

Mr Blau learnt of his predicament in December, while out of the country on holiday. He said a friend called to warn that the Shin Bet had broken into his home and ransacked it. He later learnt they had been monitoring his telephone, e-mail and computer for many months.

In a move that has baffled many observers, the Shin Bet revealed last week that Mr Blau was hiding in London, despite the threat that it would make him an easier target for other countries' intelligence agencies.

Amir Mizroch, an analyst with the right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper, noted that it was as if Israel's security services were "saying to Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Hizbullah and Iranian intelligence agents in London: 'Yalla, be our guests, go get Uri Blau'." He added that the real goal might be to flush out Mr Blau so that he would seek sanctuary at the Israeli embassy.

Ms Kamm is charged with espionage with intent to harm national security, the harshest indictment possible and one that could land in her jail for 25 years. Yesterday another of her lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, appealed to Mr Blau to return to Israel and give back the documents to help "minimise the affair".

"The real question is whether this exceptionally heavy-handed approach is designed only to get back Kamm's documents or go after Blau and his other sources," said Jeff Halper, an Israeli analyst. "It may be that Kamm is the excuse the security services need to identify Blau's circle of informants."

Mr Blau has already published several stories, apparently based on Ms Kamm's documents, showing that the army command approved policies that not only broke international law but also violated the rulings of Israel's courts.

His reports have included revelations that senior commanders approved extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories that were almost certain to kill Palestinian bystanders; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely captured; and that the defence ministry compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law.

Although the original stories date to 2008, the army issued a statement belatedly this week that Mr Blau's reports were "outrageous and misleading". No senior commanders have been charged over the army's lawbreaking activities.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said its research had shown that "in many cases soldiers have been conducting themselves in the territories as if they were on a hit mission, as opposed to arrest operations".

It added that the authorities had "rushed to investigate the leak and chose to ignore the severe suspicions of blatant wrongdoings depicted in those documents".

A group of senior journalists established a petition this week calling for Mr Blau to be spared a trial: "So far, the authorities have not prosecuted journalists for holding secret information, which most of us have had in one form or another. This policy by the prosecution reflects, in our view, an imbalance between journalistic freedom, the freedom of expression and the need for security."

However, media coverage of the case in Israel has been largely hostile. Yuval Elbashan, a lawyer, wrote in Haaretz yesterday that Mr Blau's fellow military reporters and analysts had in the past few days abandoned their colleague and proven "their loyalty to the [security] system as the lowliest of its servants".

One, Yossi Yehoshua, a military correspondent with the country's largest-circulation newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, who is said to have been approached by Ms Kamm before she turned to Mr Blau, is due to testify against her in her trial due next month.

Chat forums and talkback columns also suggest little sympathy among the Israeli public for either Ms Kamm or Mr Blau. Several Hebrew websites show pictures of Ms Kamm behind bars or next to a hangman's noose.

A report on Israel National News, a news service for settlers, alleged that Ms Kamm had been under the influence of "rabidly left-wing" professors at Tel Aviv University when she handed over the documents to the Haaretz reporter.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books).

A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.


Poppo Wit 5

Nog meer Poppo Wit:

April 14th, 2010 at 19:35
@Poppo Wit. They asked & received permission to engage (=shoot) before they mentioned “RPG” (btw, somehow they saw 5 to 6 people with AK-47’s. Do you see the same?). On the black van: they did not connect it with the one previously seen. They say (3:16): “We have a van that’s picking up the bodies” … “looks like possibly uhm picking up bodies and weapons”. And, in general: how professional is their talking? Are yuo allowed to do your work talking that way?

Poppo Wit

April 16th, 2010 at 08:53

True, They received permission before that.

Again, I’m not familiar with the procedures. I guess the pilots have great freedom in their target aquisition. I have the impression they were very eager to attack and overstated the threat these guys posed.

Still, walking around with an RPG is NO normal behaviour and anyone can understand that an occupation force regards that as a threat.

Regarding the van: As I mentioned before, this seems totally out of proportion, I would say it is a crime. Which threat does picking up wounded people pose? The pilots suggested the van was there to pick up weapons, but they started shooting before they actually saw that happening.

If this is default behaviour of US troops over there, this is a bad situation.

Well, yes, talking like that about people you just killed is quite senseless, especially heartless when they discuss the wounded children. But I would say this happens in a war when you are a soldier and think you are targeting the guys who (probably) shot up some of your friends.

The point is to avoid getting yourself into those circumstances, I guess.


Ik citeer: 'The point is to avoid getting yourself into those circumstances, I guess.' Nadat Poppo Wit eerst terecht gewezen is door de feiten van eGuest, concludeert hij toch vanuit zijn veilige en comfortabele jongenskamer in Nederland dat die kinderen, burgers en journalisten in Irak die zwaar gewond of gedood werden zelf de schuld daarvan dragen. Poppo is ernstig in de war. Het vermoorden van een gewonde en zijn hulpverleners van wie de 'fout' alleen was dat ze een gewonde te hulp schoten, zoals eGuest nog eens aangeeft, is een feit dat Poppo Wit negeert omdat het niet past in zijn vooringenomenheid.

Poppo Wit 4

Iraq Vet From WikiLeaks Video Unit: Video Is Shocking But Shouldn't Be Surprising, This Is What They Are Trained to Do

Josh Stieber talks about how the disturbing video shouldn't be seen as a few soldiers behaving badly but as a sign of a broken system where the same 'outrages' will continue.
April 12, 2010 |
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Josh Stieber was deployed to Iraq in February 2007 as part of the "surge" overseen by George W. Bush. An enthusiastic supporter of the war when he enlisted, Stieber served with Bravo Company 2-16, the same unit now depicted in the chilling video released last week by, which shows American troops massacre 12 Iraqi civilians from an Apache helicopter, including two Reuters employees, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh. Also killed was Saleh Mutashar, the father of two young children who were themselves injured on the scene, when their father attempted to pick up the wounded Saeed to take him to the hospital, only to get shot by U.S. troops.

Josh Stieber was not on the mission over Baghdad that day. By then he had already begun questioning the actions he was being asked to carry out in Iraq; he had refused an order from his commanding officers a few days earlier -- "a command that I didn't feel right in following," as he
told Glenn Greenwald on Friday -- and he was kept behind. Otherwise, he said, "I would have been in that video."

AlterNet's Liliana Segura spoke with Stieber over the phone on Sunday night about his reaction to the video, the response from the Pentagon, and why the Iraq Veterans Against the War member has devoted himself to speaking out.

Liliana Segura: Today, on ABC's "This Week," Jake Tapper asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the Wikileaks video, asking if the release of that video damages the image of the U.S. in the world. And Gates basically said, it's "clearly not helpful" but "by the same token … it should not have any lasting consequences." How would you respond to this?

Josh Stieber: Yeah, I looked at the interview, and it seemed a little strange that he would say some of those things. I guess I agree that militarily speaking -- which is far different from saying morally speaking -- I don't think what was shown in the video is anything out of the ordinary and I think Gates reaffirmed that. There are a lot of troubling implications with that. But I would definitely disagree that the video will have no effect on America's image. Even some of the comments that I'm receiving as a former soldier from people internationally have been pretty harsh and, you know, I'm one of the few who have chosen to say 'this is wrong and I'm not going to be a part of it anymore,' and if I'm hearing that, then I can only imagine some of the things that are being said to people who haven't come to that conclusion.

LS: One of the really jarring things about watching the video is not only the fact that these are images that the average American is really insulated from -- but what WikiLeaks did, that I thought was very effective, was intersperse quotes from corporate media outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times that create a narrative in which these soldiers were going out of their way to preserve civilian life -- and then the footage that follows clearly disproves what was being written in the media. It certainly doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the media and the way it covers these wars.

JS: Yeah, one very interesting aspect that I think is very telling is that this particular story and stories like it are not new. If you look at David Finkel's book,
The Good Soldiers, that was about the unit I was with and about the unit on the ground in this video. Pretty much word for word, this event is described in this book -- but there was no huge outrage about the event [when it was] described in words. And then there are other examples like the Winter Soldier testimonies; soldiers have been saying this and trying to tell people what's been going on and for one reason or another people haven't been listening. But now that it's right in front of them and they can watch it visually, the conversation is changing. I guess the reason why this video is such a big thing is that it's a visual that we haven't been receiving.

LS: Did you read Collateral Damage, by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian? It's about the question of Rules of Engagement at checkpoints in Iraq. They interviewed many veterans who describe the way in which the Rules of Engagement, in theory, look good on paper but once you're in that situation all bets are off, and the result has been a lot of dead civilians. I wonder how you compare what we see in this video to, for instance, civilians getting killed at checkpoints.

JS: I'm not quite as familiar with checkpoints, but I can definitely say that other policies and practices that we had contributed to civilians being killed. I think that this video and other reports that are similar should be pointing us to a larger conversation, that if the Secretary of Defense or someone that high up is trying to defend this, it should be pointing out pretty clearly the gap in logic that if we're over there claiming to be spreading freedom and democracy. Even if top military advisers are saying the actions in this video are justified in terms of military procedure, that's not even beginning to ask the question: Is this an effective or even logical way to try to help another country and spread these values that we claim that we're doing it in the name of?

LS: For me one of the irritating things about people discussing the Rules of Engagement in the wake of this video is that it seems like such a bankrupt conversation in a way because, how much do "Rules of Engagement" really mean when the sort of original engagement of this war, the invasion, was so clearly illegal. Are any of these deaths justified in an illegal war of aggression? It obviates the more important questions that you're talking about.

So, to back up a little bit, for you having served in this unit, what was your initial reaction to the video?

JS: My initial reaction was one of shock, to recognize exactly what this video was. And there's a difference between shock and surprise. When I watched the video -- and when the average American watches the video -- there is definitely a shock factor, but I don't think there should really be a surprise factor. This is what war looks like. This is nothing really out of the ordinary. The surprise and the outrage that there's been … have been detracting from a conversation that we can have, where we can take this video and say, 'Look I think this is telling of the contradictions about why we are there.' But it seems like a lot of the discussion has been about, 'Look at these few soldiers, look how horrible they are, we should just punish them.' If we only look at that, then we're missing this larger conversation. And if we take all our wrath and judgment out on them, then, yeah, they might get punished, but the larger system in general that created them -- they were following what we're trained with on a day to day basis -- then that larger system is going to continue to do the exact same thing.

LS: Right. It's sort of like the reaction to Abu Ghraib, where the underlings were disciplined but the torture program and those who designed it had nothing happen to them.

You mentioned the Winter Soldier hearings; one of the things that was very powerful was the way in which veterans spoke about the ways in which the military trained them to dehumanize Iraqis. That seems pretty clearly at play in the video; there's this casual disregard for the lives of even the two children who were injured in the van. When it comes to training and the way soldiers perceive Iraqis, are all Iraqis just viewed as a potential threat?

JS: Yeah, I mean, that's been an interesting thing to think over these last few days. The reality of the situation is that a lot of times when attacks [on U.S. troops] happen it's from a faceless enemy. A roadside bomb goes off and you don't see who set that bomb, or a sniper hits one of your friends and you don't know where the shot came from. There's this invisible enemy and it puts people on edge that any second, without knowing it, something can happen. So yeah, that kind of paranoia and that kind of fear that that situation creates combined with the military training, is a huge thing.

I've been thinking about it a lot since watching the video … Obviously the way the people in the helicopter were talking was very callous, but compared to things that I was being taught in basic training, from training videos that we had to watch, to cadences that we sang, the language in the helicopter was relatively mild. I've been thinking even more about our culture in general; going back to high school, I remember learning about the atomic bomb. It was never talked about as being morally wrong but that was a much larger example of people saying 'Yeah, innocent civilians are going to die … but so be it if it helps us accomplish our end goal.' So a lot of aspects of our society even outside the military justify the same mindset that are shown in the video.

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