zaterdag 23 oktober 2010

Iran 346

Apologize to the World Mr. Wallace and Return that Emmy

Israel as a Rogue State 130

Weimar in Jerusalem: the rise of fascism in Israel

By  Uri Avnery

23 October 2010

Uri Avnery warns that fascism will overwhelm Israel unless progressive forces “awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available means ... in order to arrest the fascist wave that is threatening to engulf us”.

In Berlin, an exhibition entitled “Hitler and the Germans” has just opened. It examines the factors that caused the German people to bring Adolf Hitler to power and follow him to the very end...

[S]ince childhood, precisely this question has been troubling me. How did it happen that a civilized nation, which saw itself as the “people of poets and thinkers”, followed this man, much as the children of  Hamelin followed the pied piper to their doom.

This troubles me not only as a historical phenomenon, but as a warning for the future. If this happened to the Germans, can it happen to any people? Can it happen here, in Israel?
“This week, a new bill was tabled. It would prohibit non-citizens from acting as tourist guides in East Jerusalem... The bill is intended to deprive Arab Jerusalemites of the right to serve as tourist guides at their holy places in their city, since they are apt to deviate from the official propaganda line.”
As a nine-year old boy I was an eyewitness to the collapse of German democracy and the ascent of the Nazis to power. The pictures are engraved in my memory – the election campaigns following each other, the uniforms in the street, the debates around the table, the teacher who greeted us for the first time with “Heil Hitler”. I resurrected these memories in a book I wrote (in Hebrew) during the Eichmann trial, and which ended with a chapter entitled “Can it happen here?” I am returning to them these days, as I write my memoirs.

Fascism – no longer a taboo

I don’t know if the Berlin exhibition tries to answer these questions. Perhaps not. Even now, 77 years later, there is no final answer to the question: why did the German republic collapse?

This is an all-important question, because now people in Israel are asking, with growing concern: is the Israeli republic collapsing?

For the first time, this question is being asked in all seriousness. Throughout the years, we were careful not to mention the word fascism in public discourse. It raises memories which are too monstrous. Now this taboo has been broken.

Yitzhak Herzog, the minister of welfare in the Netanyahu government, a member of the Labour party, the grandson of a chief rabbi and the son of a president, said a few days ago that “fascism is touching the margins of our society”. He was wrong: fascism is not only touching the margins, it is touching the government in which he is serving, and the Knesset, of which he is a member.
Not a day – quite literally – passes without a group of Knesset members tabling a new racist bill. The country is still divided by the amendment to the law of citizenship, which will compel applicants to swear allegiance to “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”. Now the ministers are discussing whether this will be demanded only of non-Jews (which doesn’t sound nice) or of Jews, too – as if this would change the racist content one bit.
This week, a new bill was tabled. It would prohibit non-citizens from acting as tourist guides in East Jerusalem. Non-citizens in this case means Arabs. Because, when East Jerusalem was annexed by force to Israel after the 1967 war, its Arab inhabitants were not granted citizenship. They were accorded only the status of “permanent residents”, as if they were recent newcomers and not scions of families that have lived in the city for centuries.

The bill is intended to deprive Arab Jerusalemites of the right to serve as tourist guides at their holy places in their city, since they are apt to deviate from the official propaganda line. Shocking? Incredible? Not in the eyes of the proponents, who include members of the Kadima Party. A Knesset member of the Meretz party also signed, but retracted, claiming that he was confused.
“The Knesset members act like sharks in a feeding frenzy. There is a wild competition between them to see who can devise the most racist bill.”
This proposal comes after dozens of bills of this kind have been tabled recently, and before dozens of others which are already on their way. The Knesset members act like sharks in a feeding frenzy. There is a wild competition between them to see who can devise the most racist bill.
It pays. After each such bill, the initiators are invited to TV studios to “explain” their purpose. Their pictures appear in the papers. For obscure MKs, whose names we have never heard of, that poses an irresistible temptation. The media are collaborating.

Israel’s place in the international club of fascists

This is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. All over Europe and America, overt fascists are raising their heads. The purveyors of hate, who until now have been spreading their poison at the margins of the political system, are now arriving at the centre.

In almost every country there are demagogues who build their careers on incitement against the weak and helpless, who advocate the expulsion of “foreigners” and the persecution of minorities. In the past they were easy to dismiss, as was Hitler at the beginning of his career. Now they must be taken seriously.

Only a few years ago, the world was shocked when Jörg Haider’s party was allowed Into the Austrian government coalition. Haider praised Hitler’s achievements. The Israeli government furiously recalled its ambassador to Vienna. Now the new Dutch government is dependent on the support of a declared racist, and fascist parties achieve impressive election gains in many countries. The “Tea Party” movement, which is blooming in the US, has some clearly fascist aspects. One of its candidates likes to go around wearing the uniform of the murderous Nazi Waffen-SS.

So we are in good company. We are no worse than the others. If they can do it, why not us?

But there is a big difference: Israel is not in the same situation as Holland or Sweden...

The German republic carried the name of Weimar, the town where the constituent assembly adopted its constitution after World War I. The Weimar of Bach and Goethe was one of the cradles of German culture.

It was a shiningly democratic constitution. Under its wings, Germany saw an unprecedented intellectual and artistic bloom. So why did the republic collapse?

Generally, two causes are identified: humiliation and unemployment. When the republic was still in its infancy, it was forced to sign the Versailles peace treaty with the victors of World War I, a treaty that was but a humiliating act of surrender. When the republic fell behind with the payment of the huge indemnities levied on it, the French army invaded the industrial heartland of Germany in 1923, precipitating a galloping inflation – a trauma Germany has not recovered from to this day.

When the world economic crisis broke out in 1929, the German economy broke down. Millions of despairing unemployed sank into abject poverty and cried out for salvation. Hitler promised to wipe out both the humiliation of defeat and the unemployment, and fulfilled both promises: he gave work to the unemployed in the new arms industry and in public works, like the new autobahns, in preparation for war.

And there was a third reason for the collapse of the republic: the growing apathy of the democratic public. The political system of the republic just became loathsome. While the people were sinking into misery, the politicians went on playing their games. The public was longing for a strong leader, to impose order. The Nazis did not overthrow the republic. The republic imploded, the Nazis only filled the void.

In Israel there is no economic crisis. On the contrary, the economy is flourishing. Israel did not sign any humiliating agreement, like the Treaty of Versailles. On the contrary, it won all its wars. True, our fascists speak about the “Oslo criminals”, much as Hitler ranted against the “November criminals”, but the Oslo agreement was the opposite of the Versailles treaty, which was signed in November 1919.

If so, what does the profound crisis of Israeli society stem from? What causes millions of citizens to regard with complete apathy the doings of their leaders, contenting themselves with shaking their heads in front of the TV set? What causes them to ignore what’s happening in the occupied territories, half an hour’s drive from their home? Why do so many declare that they do not listen to the news or read newspapers anymore? What is the origin of the depression and despair, which leave open the road to fascism?
“... the genetic code of the Zionist movement is pushing towards the annexation of the whole of the historical country up to the Jordan River, and – directly or indirectly – the transfer of the Arab population.”
The state has arrived at a crossroads: peace or eternal war. Peace means the foundation of a Palestinian state and the evacuation of the settlements. But the genetic code of the Zionist movement is pushing towards the annexation of the whole of the historical country up to the Jordan River, and – directly or indirectly – the transfer of the Arab population. The majority of the people is evading a decision by claiming that “we have no partner for peace” anyhow. We are condemned to eternal war.
Democracy is suffering from a growing paralysis, because the different sectors of the people live in different worlds. The secular, the national-religious and the Orthodox receive totally different educations. Common ground between them is shrinking. Other rifts are gaping between the old Ashkenazi community, the Oriental Jews, the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and the Arab citizens, whose separation from the rest is increasing all the time.

For the second time in my life, I may have to witness the collapse of a republic. But that is not predestined. Israel is not the goose-stepping Germany of those days, 2010 is not 1933. The Israeli society can yet sober up in time and mobilize the democratic forces within itself.

But for that to happen, it must awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available means (as long as that is still possible), in order to arrest the fascist wave that is threatening to engulf us.

Gilad Atzmon

Jews, jazz and socialism

23 October 2010

Gilad Atzmon deconstructs the mindset of Mike Gerber, a self-proclaimed Jewish “socialist” who believes that there is a distinctive genre of music called “Jewish jazz”, and asks why “Jewish jazz” should be any more acceptable than “Aryan classical music”.

How would you feel about a radio show specializing in Aryan classical music? How would you feel about a radio show that features mainly or only Aryan composers and performers?

I guess that I know the answer: you would feel disturbed, and you may even want to protest.
“The greatness of jazz music is grounded in its capacity to bring together people of all colours and ethnicities.”
However, Mike Gerber, a writer for the Jewish Socialist Magazine and a member of the Jewish Socialists’ Group has a very similar agenda: he is about to launch a Jews-only jazz radio show.
Here is an extract from his press release, which he circulated recently:
I'm Mike Gerber, author of the book Jazz Jews, as a result of which I've been asked to host a regular jazz Jews show on the internet station UK Jazz Radio...

My “Jazz Jews” show will feature: Jewish/jazz fusions of every kind; rootsy Jewish music such as klezmer; Israeli jazz; and there will also be a focus on Jewish Great American Songbook composers. I will play tracks by some of the many Jewish musicians who have contributed to jazz more generally...
I assume that we wouldn’t accept an Aryan classical music radio show, yet a “Jewish jazz show” must be somehow kosher, or at least kosher enough for UK Jazz Radio to host it.

I met Mike Gerber 10 years ago. He came to my house to interview me about Jews and jazz. He sat with me for many hours, desperately trying to squeeze out of me an insight into the inherent bond between jazz and Jews. I could hardly help him. I am not a musicologist. Furthermore, I cannot hear any particular Jewish musical influence in jazz. Although it is true that more than a few jazz master artists and iconic composers were Jewish by ethnicity (and this fact in itself deserves studying), but jazz, as an art form, is far from being Judeo-centric or Jewish.
“...with all due respect to Michael Gerber and his obsession with Jewish cultural importance, I cannot hear the Jew in Gershwin or in Michael Brecker. I could instead hear Africa, Cuba, Blues, Baroque, New York City, Paris. In fact, I can hear everything but the Jewish Ghetto.”
The greatness of jazz music is grounded in its capacity to bring together people of all colours and ethnicities. Jazz made itself into a cosmopolitan language and a symbol of freedom because of its diversity of sounds, rhythms and cultures. And with all due respect to Michael Gerber and his obsession with Jewish cultural importance, I cannot hear the Jew in Gershwin or in  Michael Brecker. I could instead hear Africa, Cuba, Blues, Baroque, New York City, Paris. In fact, I can hear everything but the Jewish Ghetto.
When we met, I suggested to Gerber that for many Jewish artists jazz is actually an escape route from the ghetto, from the chicken soup, the gefilte fish, Zionism and other symbols of chosenness. At the time, I also discussed this issue with star drummer Asaf Sirkis, song writer Chaz Jankel and legendary New York saxophonist  Bob Berg and they obviously agreed with me. I myself can testify that 12 bars into my new path as a young jazz enthusiast, I managed to forget Zionism, Israel and the Israel Defence Forces. I didn’t want to die on the Zionist altar: instead I dreamed to swing in Paris, or bop in New York City. For many of us, Israelis and Jewish musicians, jazz was a window of opportunity. It was a true means towards liberation.
Gerber didn’t like my idea that much. It could easily dismantle his Jewish project. Gerber spent seven years writing a gigantic text about Jews and jazz, which, in my opinion, is one of the most disturbing books in the history of jazz literature. As Gerber’s website suggests, the book “explores the role of Jews in breaking the colour bar in American jazz, and in using jazz as an instrument against apartheid and against Soviet repression”.

But here is a clear problem: although it is indeed very important for Gerber to present Jewish jazz as a “progressive affair” at the heart of the anti-apartheid movement, it is far from clear why Jewish jazz musicians are anything but involved in the anti-Zionist movement.

If Jewish jazz musicians are somehow wonderfully progressive, how is it that we hardly see any Jewish jazz collective movement denouncing Zionism or Israel?
“... although it is ... important for Gerber to present Jewish jazz as a ‘progressive affair’ at the heart of the anti-apartheid movement, it is far from clear why Jewish jazz musicians are anything but involved in the anti-Zionist movement.”
Gerber is obviously totally foreign to jazz and its spirit. He clearly fails to realize that playing music is the ultimate form of being among others. When you play music, issues to do with race, identity, politics and cultural barriers are put aside. Being there and producing beauty with others is in itself the strongest possible statement. Jazz musicians do not have to say much, for the music carries the strongest message. In our Jazza festival last week we had at least four Jewish artists. They operated as ordinary human beings. They didn’t carry any flags or banners. They didn’t ask for any special treatment.

Michael Gerber, however, didn’t come to our jazza concert (though he somehow always calls me in advance to ask for a “free press pass” to Ronnie Scott’s when I play there). The Jewish Socialists’ Groups did not support Jazza either, nor did any other Jewish organization. But, let me tell you, many Jews did. They joined us as ordinary human beings. Unlike Mike Gerber and his Jewish Socialists, they have obviously become assimilated into humanity.

 Zelig for breakfast

Three weeks ago Gerber asked me to send him some music for his “Jews only” radio show. I of course refused. I suggested to him that when he decides to feature and promote gentiles’ music, he should contact me again and I will consider. This morning after reading Gerber’s press release, I wrote back to him in sarcasm – I suggested that my (imaginary) German friend, Klaus Hofmann, wants to host an Aryan jazz programme. I thought that it would be nice to have the two racist radio programmes back to back.

Gerber was hurt. He answered immediately:

“A key part of my show is Jewish jazz, which also includes a lot of Israeli jazz.” He went on to say: “If it's OK to have a Latin jazz programme, it's OK to have a show that's largely about the Jewish jazz sub-genre.”

Gerber’s answer took me by surprise. Although he is a member of the Jewish Socialists‘ Group, and in spite of the fact that Jewish socialists claim also to be anti-Zionists who support the cultural boycott of Israel, Gerber, all of a sudden, decided to endorse the Jewish state as a Jewish cultural Mecca. He even became an active mouthpiece for Israeli art, instead of boycotting it. When pushed into a corner the Jewish socialist somehow changed his spots. He even managed to endorse Zionist culture.

I can accept that Israel is indeed a well of very many incredible jazz talents. However, one question is still left open: is there such a thing as Jewish jazz?
“Jewish jazz ... is not an art form, and it is not a musical genre. There is no such thing, outside of Gerber’s universe. I guess that in order to make it into Gerber’s book, all you need is a Jewish mother. This is also exactly what you need in order to make aliya to Israel and dwell on Palestinian land.”
Gerber is either misleading or may even be misled by himself. There is a big difference between Latin jazz and Jewish jazz: Latin jazz is a clear musical genre that is intrinsically associated with a piece of geography. Musicians around the world can easily define Latin jazz in musical terms. Anyone can join a Latin jazz combo after achieving a reasonable command of the Latin musical language. Jewish jazz, on the contrary, is not an art form, and it is not a musical genre. There is no such thing, outside of Gerber’s universe. I guess that in order to make it into Gerber’s book, all you need is a Jewish mother. This is also exactly what you need in order to make aliya to Israel and dwell on Palestinian land.
As much as I am happy with Israel exposing its true nature, I am very happy with Mike Gerber pushing his agenda. It was Mike who already 10 years ago opened my eyes to this bizarre Jewish collective hubris. It was Mike Gerber who inspired me a few years ago to invent the satirical character Artie Fishel, the American musician who is totally convinced that jazz is neither American or African, but entirely Jewish.

Like Gerber, Fishel wants to bring jazz to where it belongs, namely the Promised Band.

As tragic as it may be, Jewish politics is always a form of Zionism

You can listen to Artie Fishel and his Promised Band while thinking about Mike Gerber and hiskosher socialism.

vrijdag 22 oktober 2010

Bertus Hendriks. Schnabbelaar 2

Sluit dit venster

Beste Bertus,

Waarom heeft de journalist Bertus Hendriks een uitnodiging voor een diner bij hem thuis gestuurd naar Hans Jansen, volgeling van Wilders, en de man die het volgende schreef in het inmiddels ter ziele gegane reactionaire tijdschrift Opinio:

Het is niet de leugen die regeert maar de duistere dreiging. We zijn collectief vergeten dat een vreedzame staat ook een aantal gedisciplineerde rotzakken nodig heeft, die zo nodig in het verborgene vuile handen maken bij het vechten voor vrede en vrijheid... de AIVD moet zich beperken tot analyseren en signaleren. Een AIVD-rapport is haast niet te onderscheiden van een scriptie of een proefschrift. Onderzoek en analyse zijn inderdaad van levensbelang, maar wie doet er, zonder dat wij dat willen weten, het vuile werk? We zijn collectief vergeten dat een vreedzame enclave als Nederland ter verdediging niet genoeg heeft aan de eigen vreedzaamheid, maar dat er ook een aantal gedisciplineerde rotzakken nodig heeft die zo nodig in het verborgene vuile handen maken bij het vechten voor vrede en vrijheid. Het zal niet meevallen om dat overtuigend uit te leggen aan al die brave en aardige mensen van het CDA en de ChristenUnie. En aan de rest

Waarom zou de journalist Bertus Hendriks deze extremist die pleit voor buiten de wet opererende doodseskaders in Nederland hebben uitgenodigd voor een etentje bij hem thuis? Bertus, vertel het me, als oude kennis van me krijg je op mijn weblog alle ruimte om me dit uit te leggen. Of heb jij hem niet uitgenodigd en heeft iemand anders het gastenlijstje samen gesteld? En wat dacht je te bereiken met deze uitnodiging? In afwachting van je antwoord.


Overigens Bertus, ik zie dat je bij de Speakers Academy in dezelfde prijscategorie valt als Jan Heemskerk van Playboy. Je bent in te huren voor een bedrag tussen 2000 en 3500 euro. Ik vind dat journalisten zich niet moeten verhuren. Jij wel. Waarom? En waarom ben jij even duur als de hoofdredacteur van Playboy? Is in het wereldje waarvoor jij werkt kennis over het Midden Oosten evenveel waard als de blote borsten expertise van meneer Heemskerk?

click to enlarge

The Empire 692

They Fled Away "Like Gangsters": Murder and Greed in Baghdad

by: H.P. Albarelli Jr., t r u t h o u t | Report

The contractors don't seem to care about the people they kill. It's just a part of their business. These kinds of incidents occur on a regular basis, but no one seems to be concerned. -Paul Wolf, attorney

It is nearly two hours past noon, a sunny, warm day on October 9, 2007. The creaky old Oldsmobile, containing a driver and three people returning home from church, is lumbering along at about 15 miles per hour. As it begins to cross a busy intersection in the bustling Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, several rounds of copper-jacketed 5.56mm rounds tear into its windshield sending glass everywhere.
A second volley of rounds, traveling in excess of the speed of sound, sprays the car's engine hood and dashboard sounding like hard hammer strikes. Two of the rounds puncture wide holes in the Oldsmobile's radiator, which begins to spray heated engine coolant and steam. At least nine rounds strike and kill the female driver and hit the woman seated in the front passenger seat in the neck. The woman's head drops and a growing mandala of blood blossoms across the dress she wears.
A third volley of shots lifts her head away from her neck and body and parts of it fly into the backseat. There, two wide-eyed people, a young woman and a 13-year old boy, sit. They begin to scream at the sight of the woman's crumpled, headless body. The boy's face has shards of glass protruding from it. The young woman wipes blood and pieces of flesh from her face. She sits as if frozen in place and begins to make a prolonged, otherworldly, wailing sound. The vehicle rolls to a slow stop as another volley of rounds is released.
Everyone on the busy street instinctively runs for cover. A woman on the sidewalk holding the hands of two children grabs both of them drawing them tight to her body, which she turns protectively toward the direction from which the shots come. She huddles like this, shaking as bullets whine off the concrete street. She tells the petrified children everything will be O.K. over and over and over. Above her voice, the children hear the wailing sound coming from the Oldsmobile, and then a man yells loudly in accented English, "All right, all right, let's get the hell out of here. Hit it, now, go."
There is the sound of heavy vehicles accelerating out of the intersection and away. The children draw themselves closer to the woman, one peeking out over her shoulder. The child watches an Iraqi policeman cautiously approach the Oldsmobile. Scattered about the ground are about 19 still hot shell casings. He opens the front passenger's door and the woman's body drops to the pavement. The shaken policeman stares down at the body and asks, "Where is her head?" Moments later he finds the woman's fully intact brain lying nearby on the sidewalk.
The shots fired into the Oldsmobile came from the opened rear door of a sports utility vehicle about 40 yards ahead of the Oldsmobile at the intersection. Within a few hours, men in the vehicle would claim that they had signaled to the approaching Oldsmobile's driver to stop. They would also claim that they fired a "warning shot" and "a warning flare." Iraqis who witnessed the incident countered that no warnings, verbal, hand signals, shots or flares were used prior to the Oldsmobile being sprayed with gunfire. One witness, who worked at a shop overlooking the scene, told local policemen that the back door of the SUV suddenly opened and several armed men within the vehicle jumped out and opened fire on the Oldsmobile. Several other witnesses on the street charged that the occupants of the Oldsmobile were fired upon without cause and that the men in the SUV appeared to have no compulsions about firing into the Oldsmobile.
The sports utility vehicle carrying the shooters was part of a convoy of several similar vehicles that belonged to a self-described "provider of risk related consulting, management and logistical services" called Unity Resources Group (URG). Within days of the shooting, URG chief operating officer, Michael Priddon, stated that the security convoy "had given several warnings to the women as their car approached the convoy." Priddon refused to reveal whether the security personnel involved in the shooting were Australian.
Other witnesses at the scene told Iraq police investigators that the convoy had employed some sort of "smoke flare" and that it may have confused the women as they approached the intersection. Said a witness named Sattar Jabar, "The [driver] tried to avoid the convoy ... but she was unable to and came too close to the last 4X4, [and] the guards on board then opened fire." Said shopkeeper Basim Mohammed, who also witnessed the incident, "They fired a warning shot when they [the women] were about 80m away, which probably made them panic because they went forward a little bit and [security guards] started firing at her from all directions."
Said URG in a statement issued a day after an Iraqi government spokesman called the incident "an unprovoked attack," "The first information that we have is that our security team was approached at speed by a vehicle which failed to stop despite an escalation of warnings which included hand signals and a signal flare."
URG is an Australian-managed company, registered in Singapore, which has its headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. URG claims to have over 1,000 employees worldwide, including about 275 in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Former SAS officer Gordon Conroy created URG in 2000. Sources in Australia report that several former British and Australian SAS veterans and former New Zealand Army commandos privately own URG. Others say that the company was "initially organized" as a private global security force by "an American company that serves as one of its biggest customers." URG states that a person named Brian Hewson, a former New Zealand Army officer, is its general manager. Many of URG's employees are dubbed "private security personnel," who come from multiple points on the globe. In 2004, URG founder Conroy said of the situation in Iraq, "It really is a scene out of a ‘Mad Max' movie, incredibly lawless with no-one fully controlling the highways."
Beyond its initial origins as an "international security firm," URG in recent years has evolved into a multi-faceted company that provides "consulting, training and critical services" by working closely with nations and "organizations that need to operate effectively in the world's most complex and unpredictable environments." One close observer of URG within the State Department (who declined to be named in this article) recently commented that the company "is extremely skillful and legally adept at moving corporate entities and covers about on the world's playing-board." URG's web site contains one prominently displayed page headed "Cultural Sensitivity" that states: "We respect and encourage the rights of individuals and organizations regardless of race, creed, sex, or religion."
URG observers also state that, in recent months, the company has aggressively moved into new geographic operational areas including North and South America and Latin America. Recent reports have URG actively recruiting "security personnel" in Chile and Columbia, as well as maintaining at least two active contractual relationships in Columbia. URG, according to the US State Department, has also "deployed" a "Crisis Response and Facilitation Team to Haiti," as well as about 200 "security risk" personnel.
Helping oversee URG's activities in the Americas is James L. LeBlanc, URG managing director and "vice president for the Americas." LeBlanc, who resides in a well-secured, palatial estate in Northern Virginia, is also president of the Washington, DC-based firm, J. LeBlanc International, LLC, which provides "assistance to private and public sector technology entities by strategically positioning them in targeted markets." LeBlanc was also the former executive director for the American-Kuwaiti Alliance, and is a senior associate at the Washington, DC-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As many readers are aware, over the past decades, "private security forces" in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a controversial subject. In July 2005, US Army Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, who had responsibility for security in and around Baghdad spoke to the media about "security contractors" operating in Iraq. He said, "These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force ... They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place." (See: Jonathan Finer, "Security Contractors in Iraq Under Scrutiny After Shootings," Washington Post, September 10, 2005.)
The URG convoy and security forces involved in the October 2007 Karada incident had been hired by another company called RTI International, which had in turn been hired by the US Agency for International Development, better known as USAID. RTI International had hired URG to provide "security" and "protection" for its many civilian employees in Iraq. Since 2003, RTI's central purpose in Iraq has been "to foster democratic local government" in the war torn country. RTI's first contract from USAID to accomplish its general goal in Iraq was for a whooping $167 million. In 2004, the company was awarded a one-year contract extension for about an additional $154 million. The company, which is incorporated as a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity, cited in its 2007 annual report revenues of $612 million. According to the company's financial reports, more than one-third of its income comes from USAID: in 2004 alone the huge research conglomerate received nearly $510 million alone from USAID.
The president and chief executive officer of RTI International is Victoria F. Haynes. Haynes became president of RTI in 1999, years after beginning her professional career with Monsanto Research Corp. and the BF Goodrich Company. Haynes also serves on the advisory boards of three major US government laboratories: Sandia Engineering Research Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory.
RTI's vice president of international business development at the time of the Iraq murders was Aaron S. Williams. Williams came to RTI from a high-ranking position at USAID. President Obama appointed Williams director of the Peace Corps in August 2009. Williams' position with RTI and the Iraq murders was not raised during his Senate confirmation hearing, which one Peace Corps web site dubbed "a veritable love-fest" that "lasted a few minutes less than an hour."
Serving alongside Haynes and Williams on RTI's senior staff is the nonprofit's Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President of International Development, Lon E. Maggart. Maggart, called "Bert" by those close to him, joined RTI in 1996, after serving, according to an RTI press release, a 30-year career in the US Army, retiring as a major general. Maggart, who served as chief of staff for the Army's First Infantry Division, in 1991 was commander of one of two brigades that mounted major assaults on Iraqi soldiers during the Persian Gulf War, playing a major role in the burial alive of between 80 and 250 Iraqi troops. Said Maggart on the incident to a reporter for The New York Times, "People somehow have the notion that burying groups alive is nastier than blowing them up with hand grenades or sticking them in the gut with bayonets." Maggart explained that Army tanks outfitted with large plows buried the soldiers in Iraqi trenches. (See: "US Army Buried Iraqi Soldiers Alive in Gulf War" by Eric Schmitt, New York Times, September 15, 1991.)
In addition to RTI's controversial employment of mercenaries as "security personnel" for its own staff and employees in Iraq, RTI has also been caught up in what appears to be an unresolved controversy with USAID's Office of Inspector General (OIG). In September 2003, OIG completed "a review to determine compliance with federal regulations in awarding [a $168 million contract] for Iraq sub-national governance and civic institutions to support to RTI." (See: USAID OIG Memorandum to Wendy Chamberlin from AIG/A Bruce N. Crandelmire, "USAID's Compliance with Federal Regulations/Iraq RTI Contract," September 9, 2003.)
According to OIG's findings, following a thorough audit of RTI's contract, USAID developed RTI's contract to "justify spending the available funding of approximately $150 million within one year" instead of fashioning the contract to conform to the needs of the Iraqi people.
It was under this initial contract and with this funding that RTI subcontracted with URG for the services of "security personnel."
RTI and URG Sued for Wrongful Death
This is an extremely lucrative business that attracts a lot of bad people. People are making huge sums of money in the war, and there is practically no oversight. -Paul Wolf, attorney
In April 2008, Washington, DC-based human rights attorney Paul Wolf filed a lawsuit against RTI International and URG on behalf of Jalal Askander Antranick, the father of Genevia Jalal Antranick, the woman who had been the front-seat passenger in the bullet riddled Oldsmobile. According to Wolf's complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Ms. Antranick was shot to death by URG employees despite that neither she nor the driver of the Oldsmobile, Mary Awanis Manook, posed any threat whatsoever to the URG employees, who prior to the shooting "had just dropped off an employee of RTI and were returning to their base of operations."
Wolf's suit explains that Ms. Manook and Ms. Antranick "were returning home from church at the time of the incident." Reads the filing: "An Iraqi policeman at the scene stated that the armoured [URG] convoy sped off 'like gangsters' after the shooting, leaving Ms. Antranick and Ms. Manook to die. The URG employees did not call an ambulance or otherwise try to rescue or assist the people they had just shot."
The suit goes on to state: "This is not the first time URG employees have killed defenseless people in Baghdad. Last year, URG employees killed 72-year old Kays Juma when he failed to stop at a security checkpoint. On or about June 24, 2007, Defendant's [URG] agents shot another civilian in the Karada neighborhood." Kays Juma was an Australian and college professor who had lived in Baghdad for 25 years, and drove his vehicle on the same route nearly everyday for all of those years.
Finally, Wolf's suit alleges, "Defendants [URG] have acted with evil and malicious intents in promoting their business interests at the expense of innocent human life. Defendants have earned, and continue to earn, huge profits for their work in Iraq."
RTI and URG filed promptly to have Wolf's suit dismissed. Wolf countered with filed opposition to RTI's and URG's motions to dismiss. Argued Wolf, RTI was liable for aiding and abetting in the murder of the two women "because RTI was acting under color of state law in its work to reorganize the Iraq government." Wolf argued further that RTI had "its own duty to Ms. Antranick regarding its hiring and supervising of URG" and that "it breached its duty, knew of the risk of harm it was creating and this was the proximate cause of Ms. Antranick's death."
In March 2010, however, a US federal judge ruled on Wolf's complaint finding that RTI could be sued in the US for the deaths of the women in Iraq. The judge granted Wolf jurisdictional discovery over URG. The security firm reportedly did not comply with scheduled proceedings, and instead argued that because the judge had dismissed the federal claims there was no diversity of citizenship and, therefore, the state diversity tort claims must be dismissed. URG missed at least two deadlines set by the judge. Said Wolf at the time, "Worst case is that Unity will be dropped from the case, and we will be left suing RTI, and have to sue URG separately in another country like Australia or UAE."
Wolf's case suffered a setback in early August when it was dismissed, without prejudice, in federal court in North Carolina. Undeterred, Wolf immediately refilled the case in federal court in Washington, DC. The reasons why the case had been dismissed were purely technical, but nonetheless extremely disappointing for Wolf and his client. The case had early on been assigned to a judge in Billings, Montana, who dismissed the federal claims of violations of international law and the torture victim protection act (which encompasses murder), but did not dismiss the state law claims for wrongful death and other torts. That judge then transferred the case to North Carolina, since RTI is headquartered there (RTI does maintain a small office in Washington, DC). The judge in North Carolina then held that his court could not hear state law claims brought by one alien (in this case the estate of a noncitizen) against another alien (URG).
The lawsuit against RTI and URG has received serious press attention in Australia. Earlier this month, newspapers there reported that URG had been awarded a $9 million-a-year contract to guard the Australian embassy in Baghdad, despite that the company had been involved "in at least 39 shootings - probably dozens more" in Iraq.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that elected officials in Australia are expressing serious concerns about URG's activities and are saying that the lawsuit provokes real questions about URG's receipt of any public monies or contracts. Said Australian Liberal Sen. Russell Trood, "I do have concerns about the contract [to guard the embassy]. I have concerns about awarding a contract to a company that has a long history of, if not lawlessness, then certainly a long history of allegations being made about its behavior." Asked Trood, "Is the [government] aware of the current lawsuit? And what did they do to determine that Unity was a fit and proper organization to be awarded the contract in light of the US proceedings." (See: "Embassy Security Contractor Accused of Lawlessness" by Dylan Welch, Sydney Morning Herald, October16, 2010.)
Interviewed last week, attorney Wolf, who hopes to establish an office in Iraq next year, said, "This suit has been very difficult at times ... often an exercise in frustration." Said Wolf, "I don't know where URG's office is located. We see lots of different addresses in Singapore, Australia, Dubai, the United States ... they have three different addresses in Dubai alone, and one is a hotel room and another a post office box."
Said Wolf on the overall issue of security contractors in Iraq, " I don't think they put much value on the lives of the Iraqi people. If there is the slightest chance of a threat, they pull the trigger. Sure it's dangerous in Iraq, but its far more dangerous to be an Iraqi. But the lives of Iraqis don't count for much in their calculations. Remember, we are not talking about the military. These are private companies that are making decisions to kill people. But really, they have no more right to shoot people than anyone else in Iraq."

The Empire 691

Veteran Suicides Outnumber US Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan

by: Nadia Prupis, t r u t h o u t | Report

More than 1,000 veterans in California under 35 died after returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2008 - three times as many California service members who were killed in conflict overseas, according to a recently published Bay Citizen report.
Investigative journalist Aaron Glantz studied the cases of Reuben Paul Santos, Alex Lowenstein and Elijah Warren to shed light on a growing trend among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who have died through high-risk behavior and suicide after being discharged. In particular, veterans who returned home to California died through motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents and unintentional poisoning; in addition, veterans were two and a half times as likely to commit suicide as Californians of the same age who had not served in the military.
Glantz, who has reported on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2005, decided to focus on veterans in California because "it's important to look at our own community. [Santos] was this young man that was from a community that was literally right down the street. That's how silent this epidemic is."
Santos returned from the military to his home in Daly City in 2003. He attempted to battle depression with a variety of treatments, from poetry to video games and, eventually, turned to psychiatric treatment. But according to Glantz, a number of bureaucratic obstacles prevented Santos from receiving adequate treatment once he recognized that he needed health care for psychiatric trauma.
Currently, veterans receive five years of free health care following their discharge; when Santos left the military in 2003, veterans were only eligible for two years of free health care - and Santos did not begin to experience symptoms until three years at home.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms "don't emerge right away," Glantz said. When Santos did apply to for treatment at the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Glantz said, he "got the runaround," often being transferred among therapists and having to retell his experiences in the war over and over. According to the report, Santos enrolled in a study treating veterans with PTSD six months before his death; after nine weeks with the same therapist, Santos left the study, while his doctor rated him as having "no clinical anxiety at that time."
Santos hung himself three months later. "He finally got treatment, but it was too late," Glantz said. "Reuben's death was preventable. He passed away six years after his return, so there were opportunities for the story to have had a different ending."
Lowenstein and Warren never attempted to receive mental health before committing suicide in 2010 and 2008, respectively. According to the report, less than half of returning veterans register at VA facilities for mental health treatment. A 2008 Rand Corporation study found that only half of veterans who need care seek it, as many traumatized soldiers remain silent to conform to a longstanding Army taboo against mental health care.
"VA and DOD [Department of Defense] appear to have a policy for veterans called 'Don't look, don't find,'" said Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Since 2008, Glantz said, policies have slowly shifted in a positive direction for veterans. "Under President Obama, the amount of money spent on veterans has increased dramatically," Glantz said. "Under President Bush, there was a real head-in-the-sand attitude. That's begun to change." But the VA has a lot of ground to cover to make up for lost time, he said. "We started so late in the game."
Specifically, Glantz recommends that veterans receive automatic registration with the VA, rather than having to seek it out on their own after their mental health begins to deteriorate. "Santos, Warren and Lowenstein should all have been automatically enrolled in the VA when they left the military. They should not have to fight a democracy to get in the system."
Overall, Glantz said, it is the VA and not the veterans that should uphold a standard of proactive behavior. "The VA needs to make themselves more friendly to these young men and help them come forward if they need help," Glantz said. "Out of one million veterans, only half are turning up at the VA, which means the VA needs to do a better job of reaching out to them."

Bertus Hendriks. Schnabbelaar

Sluit dit venster

Mijn uiterst flexibele collega Bertus Hendriks die nooit zijn eigen belang uit het oog verliest.

De NRC bericht:

Aangifte Wilders tegen raadsheer Schalken

Gepubliceerd: 22 oktober 2010 10:31 | Gewijzigd: 22 oktober 2010 16:08

Door onze redacteuren

Amsterdam/Rotterdam, 22 okt. PVV-leider Geert Wilders heeft aangifte gedaan tegen Tom Schalken, raadsheer bij het gerechtshof in Amsterdam, wegens beïnvloeding van een getuige.
Wilders heeft dat vanmiddag laten weten. Eerder vandaag beschuldigde hij Schalken al van „maffiapraktijken”.
Vanmorgen deed advocaat Bram Moszkowicz het verzoek om de getuige, Hans Jansen, opnieuw te horen. De rechtbank stond dit verzoek niet toe, waarop Moszkowicz de rechters wraakte. Ze zouden de schijn van partijdigheid hebben gewekt.
Moszkowicz wilde Jansen ondervragen over het feit dat Schalken voor het proces met de arabist, getuige-deskundige van de verdediging, had gesproken. In mei dit jaar, drie dagen voor hij voor de rechter-commissaris moest getuigen, dineerde de arabist met Tom Schalken, raadsheer van het hof, dat het OM had bevolen Wilders te vervolgen.
Jansen beschreef woensdag op de website dat hij was uitgenodigd aan te schuiven bij een eetclub om te discussiëren over de islam en het proces tegen Wilders. Toen Jansen werd voorgesteld aan de raadsheer, wilde hij direct opstappen. „Hij eiste een soort garantie van immuniteit”, zegt Midden-Oostendeskundige en gastheer Bertus Hendriks, die Jansen overtuigde toch te blijven. Jansen schrijft op het blog: „Ik vroeg hem of ik in zijn bijzijn wel vrijuit kon spreken. Hij had immers al eerder iemand die over de islam gesproken had, voor de rechter gebracht.”
Jansen zei vanochtend desgevraagd dat Schalken niet heeft geprobeerd zijn getuigenis te beïnvloeden tijdens het diner. Schalken zelf was niet bereikbaar, maar hij en het gerechtshof zouden vanmiddag met een verklaring komen. Volgens Hendriks is tijdens het diner niets gezegd dat het proces kan beïnvloeden.

wee zaken vallen op: het is algemeen bekend dat Tom Schalken een ijdeltuit is, maar dat hij zo stupide is dat hij daarmee de geloofwaardigheid van de rechterlijke macht in diskrediet zou brengen wordt door ter zake kundige juristen als opmerkelijk betiteld. Tweede punt: de freelance journalist Bertus Hendriks is altijd een -- laten we het diplomatiek stellen -- uiterst flexibele vakgenoot geweest die als journalist zijn eigenbelang altijd angstvallig in het oog hield. Maar nu hij schnabbelt lijkt hij bereid te zijn om werkelijk alle journalistieke principes op te geven. Ik bedoel dit: welke onafhankelijke journalist zou het in zijn hoofd halen om een rancuneuze arabist als Hans Jansen uit te nodigen, kennelijk in de verwachting dat de man op andere gedachten te brengen zou zijn. Bekend is dat Hans Jansen heeft voorgesteld om in Nederland doodseskaders te laten opereren die, ik citeer hem, 'in het verborgene vuile handen maken bij het vechten voor vrede en vrijheid.'

Begin dit jaar schreef ik dit:

Professor Hans Jansen 4

De arabist Hans Jansen is een man met wat men zou kunnen noemen klassiek fascistische opvattingen, en toch is hij hoogleraar. Dat kan in Nederland waar de criteria om professor te worden vooral worden bepaald door wie men kent en niet allereerst door wetenschappelijke kwaliteiten.

Professor Jansen schrijft ditmaal het volgende:

'Het internationale recht en de islamitische sharia zijn beide studeerkamerrecht. Van de werkvloer losgezongen, door theoretici in elkaar gezet. Theoretici die niet benoemd of gekozen zijn, die zichzelf als zodanig opwerpen, en die elkaar coöpteren.
In de kwestie Balkenende-Irak doet het er, vanuit democratisch oogpunt, helemaal niets toe wat zulke geleerden in het isolement van hun studeerkamers van mening zijn over de internationale verhoudingen: alle macht komt uit de loop van een geweer, of vanuit een wettig gekozen volksvertegenwoordiging.
De opinies van deze volkerenrechtsgeleerden zijn niet veel meer waard dan het kringlooppapier waarop ze worden uitgeprint. Er is behalve intellectuele pedanterie en goedmenselijkheid geen legitimatie voor deze opinies.

Niet alleen is dit klinkklare nonsens, het getuigt ook van een fascistisch wereldbeeld, waarin het recht van de sterkste geldt en het geschreven recht 'niet veel meer waard' is dan het papier waarop het geschreven is. Het was de nazileider Hermann Wilhelm Goring die hetzelfde zei met iets andere woorden toen hij opmerkte: 'Mijn maatregelen zullen niet verminkt worden door welke bureaucratie dan ook. Hier hoef ik me niet druk te maken over het recht; mijn missie is slechts te vernietigen en uit te roeien, meer niet.'
Na de oorlog werd deze misdadiger ter dood veroordeeld, ondermeer vanwege het steunen van een agressieoorlog, hetzelfde dus dat de Amerikanen begonnen door Irak binnen te vallen. Twee uur voordat Goring zou worden opgehangen, slikte hij cyaankali.
Eerder al stelde professor Hans Jansen van de Universiteit van Utrecht voor om in Nederland doodseskaders te laten opereren die 'in het verborgene vuile handen maken bij het vechten voor vrede en vrijheid.'

Waarom werd deze man door Hendriks uitgenodigd? Vanwege zijn gedachtegoed? Opmerkelijk. In elk geval toont het weer eens aan hoe onnozel dit slag journalisten kan zijn. Bertus,  lees nog even dit voordat je iemand uitnodigt als Jansen die vol ressentimenten zit, al was het maar omdat hij in Leiden nooit hoogleraar mocht worden. Hans Jansen over de Commissie-Davids: 

'De opinies van deze volkerenrechtsgeleerden zijn niet veel meer waard dan het kringlooppapier waarop ze worden uitgeprint. Er is behalve intellectuele pedanterie en goedmenselijkheid geen legitimatie voor deze opinies.'