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US media erase Israeli state and settler violence

As Tuesday’s grisly murder of five Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinian assailants continues to dominate headlines, major media outlets are actively erasing the Israeli violence that preceded the attack and the surging anti-Palestinian assaultsthat have followed.

In typical fashion, The New York Times buried information alluding to Palestinian death and suffering in the fourteenth paragraph, while CNN disappeared Palestinians from the discussion entirely.

The Washington Post went even further, using the synagogue attack as an opportunity to erase Israeli violence against Palestinians both past and present.

Noting that the attack site is located in what used to be Deir Yassin — a Palestinian village destroyed in 1948 after Zionist militias deliberately executed more than one hundred of its inhabitants, including children — the Post rendered the massacre an unproven accusation against Israel.

Following an uproar on social media, the Post quietly removed the reference to Deir Yassin from the piece without issuing an explanation or correction.

These same media outlets are gleefully painting Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip as heartless monsters based on a marginal celebration that took place in Gaza City.

“Residents of the Gaza Strip paraded in the streets singing victory songs, giving out candy, waving flags,” declared The New York Times, eliciting images of widespread jubilation.

An earlier New York Times piece claimed that in Gaza City, “praise for God and the attackers poured from mosque loudspeakers.” That paragraph appears to have been quietly scrubbed without explanation, but not before Zionist ideologues had a chance to exploit it.

Speaking from Gaza where he is currently stationed, journalist and Mondoweisscontributor Dan Cohen told The Electronic Intifada that there was indeed a celebratory rally organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza City but the celebrations were far from widespread.

“A small minority celebrated. That’s what being besieged and bombed does to people,” said Cohen, adding that it was hardly representative of the sentiment in Gaza, where residents are desperately preoccupied with escaping what he calls the “catastrophic” deterioration of conditions in the rubble-cluttered enclave.

Cohen also rejected The New York Times’ claim that celebratory praise for the synagogue attack rang out from mosque loudspeakers. There were a couple of cars driving around with megaphones that could be heard expressing joy for the attack, said Cohen, but that’s all. Gaza resident Mohammed Suliman and journalist Jehad Saftawi, who were with Cohen when we spoke, concurred.

While fringe celebrations among Palestinians have been widely reported, the more commonplace right-wing Israeli demonstrations agitating for greater violence and “death to Arabs” have been conspicuously absent from establishment media coverage, even though mainstream reporters are clearly aware of these rallies.

This follows a longstanding pattern that was most apparent during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including more than five hundred children.

As Israel mercilessly targeted civilians in the densely populated coastal enclave, western media outlets published scandalous justifications for the mounting atrocities, frequently blaming Palestinians for their own slaughter.

Under this convoluted paradigm, racist Israeli mobs joyfully singing “In Gaza there’s no studying, No children are left there” were virtually ignored in the mainstream press, as was the rampant genocidal incitement in Israeli social media and from high-level Israeli lawmakers.

Amid a rising tide of Israeli fascism, the mainstream media narrative of an Israel under constant and unrelenting attack from wildly violent and murder-celebrating Palestinians is more than just dishonest. It is dangerous propaganda that shields Israel’s unchecked extremism from scrutiny, guaranteeing and inciting further atrocities against the defenseless and disenfranchised Palestinian population, some of whom will respond with violence.

Profiles of the Jewish victims killed in the synagogue attack have appeared in one media outlet after another, interspersed with quotes from heartbroken loved ones. The same cannot be said of the countless Palestinians attacked, maimed and killed by Israeli violence, whose names and photos rarely make it into mainstream news accounts.

Here are some of their harrowing stories from the last two weeks alone, stories that will be replicated thanks in no small part to a mainstream media that sees them as unworthy victims.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Pentagon denies seeking advice from Israel on limiting civilian deaths

The Pentagon has distanced itself from claims made by a top-ranking military official that the US has received advice from Israel on limiting civilian deaths.

Speaking at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York on 6 November, Martin Dempsey, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the Israeli army for going to “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” during its summertime operation against Gaza.

“In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” said Dempsey in response to a question about the ethics of Israel’s assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, which killed 2,194 Palestinians.

At least 70 percent of those killed were identified as civilians by the United Nations, including at least 519 children. In stark contrast, Palestinian resistance fighters killed 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians, making it unclear what unique “standard” Dempsey is holding Israel to.

Dempsey absolved Israel of responsibility for these deaths by accusing Hamas of transforming Gaza into “a subterranean society,” referring to the elaborate network of tunnels that Gaza uses as a lifeline to bypass Israel’s starvation blockade, which amounts to collective punishment — forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Dempsey added that the Pentagon was so impressed with the Israeli army’s conduct in Gaza that it sent a “lessons-learned team” to Israel three months ago to study and emulate “the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties.”

“We asked [Israeli army Chief of Staff] Benny [Gantz] if we could send a lessons learned team,” said Dempsey, telling the audience, “We sent a team of senior officers and non-commissioned officers over to work with the [Israeli army] to get the lessons from that particular operation in Gaza.”

But in a statement emailed to the The Electronic Intifada, Commander Elissa Smith, a Department of Defense spokesperson, denied that the US believed Israel did everything it could to spare civilians.

“Deeply troubled”

“Following the conflict, as the chairman [Dempsey] noted, we engaged in a routine military exchange with the Israeli Defense Forces. Representatives from the Joint Staff and services traveled to Israel to receive a briefing from military counterparts on the conflict,” Smith writes. “It is important to note that this exchange was not a commentary or affirmation of Israeli actions in Gaza.”

Asked whether Dempsey’s praise of Israel’s conduct in Gaza reflects the position of the Pentagon, Smith predictably reaffirms Israel’s right to defend itself but clarifies that the Pentagon remains “deeply” troubled by the high civilian death toll.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Billionaire patrons of Democratic and Republican parties united by fanaticism for Israel Primary tabs

The Israeli American Council, a right-wing Israel advocacy organization, kicked off its first ever national conference in Washington, DC this weekend.

Big name speakers included Republican hot shots like former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney as well as hawkish neoconservative warmonger Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. As was predicted, the mostly rightwing speakers capitalized on the event, using it as an opportunity to mock Obama, brag about the GOP’s midterm victory and pander to the right wing of the Israel lobby.

Billionaire kingpins

The most illuminating spectacle of the conference appears to have been the highly anticipated public conversation between Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelsonand Hollywood billionaire Haim Saban.

On the surface the pair could be easily mistaken as ideological rivals.

Adelson, the tenth richest person in the world who bankrolls the far right wing of the Republican Party, spent $150 million trying to defeat Obama and unseat Democrats in 2012.

Conversely, Saban is a top donor to the Democratic Party, earning favors and grovelingfrom Obama. In 2002, Saban doled out $7 million to the Democratic National Committee’s construction of the party’s headquarters. It was believed to be the largest single donation in Democratic Party history up to that time.

But when it comes to Israel they share a hawkish obsession with maintaining the state’s settler colonial regime, making the elderly power duo practically indistinguishable.

And they make no secret of their motives.

Saban, who made his fortune building the Power Rangers empire, freely admits that his number one priority is to influence US foreign policy in Israel’s favor through a three-pronged approach that entails donating to political parties, establishing think tanks and controlling media outlets.

“I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” he once told The New York Times.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining his transformation from a Democrat to a Republican, Adelson revealed that the main driver was greater Republican sympathy for Israel.

Having expressed regret for serving in the US military instead of the Israeli army, Adelson has said he hopes to see his son “be a sniper for the IDF,” referring to the Israeli military. Adelson’s sectarian zealotry is matched only by his deep-seated hatred for Palestinians, who he routinely labels an invented people.

Meanwhile, Adelson donates more than $30 million annually to Birthright Israel, a program that sends young American Jews on a free ten-day trip to Israel in an attempt to radicalize them into immigrating to bolster the Jewish majority and participate in the dispossesion and ethnic cleansing of the land’s indigenous inhabitants.

Extremists with power

I had hoped to attend the Adelson-Saban event but was denied entry to the conference even though I applied for and was granted press access beforehand. The woman at the registration desk insisted my name wasn’t on the press list and refused to budge even after I pulled up my confirmation email from the Israeli American Council’s press contact.

However, the live tweets from the event candidly show the lust for extremism and violence espoused by the influential speakers.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Podcast: Going to the UN Committee Against Torture to Call Attention to Rampant Police Violence

On last week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure (sorry for posting late) Kevin Gosztola and I interviewed Page May, an organizer with We Charge Genocide, about the “shadow report” her organization submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) about deadly police violence. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

More from Kevin:

Chicago police officers have shot over three hundred people in the past five years. They have killed at least 89 people, predominantly people of color, in that same period. They have used force and received an astounding number of complaints about brutality from citizens in Chicago. Yet, Chicago police seem to enjoy a stunning level of immunity from accountability and justice.

In response to systematic police brutality and misconduct, a group of young organizers have formed a group called We Charge Genocide, which has submitted a “shadow report” to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) to call attention to police violence and further expose the issue as a violation of the anti-torture treaty. Organizers will, in fact, be traveling to Geneva in November to present their report to the UN Committee.

Page May, organizer with We Charge Genocide, joined “Unauthorized Disclosure” this week to talk about the group’s “shadow report” to the UN Committee Against Torture and the process of putting it together. She discusses police militarization, sexual assault by police, mass detention and harassment in the context of a system with a history that goes all the way back to the days of slavery in the United States. She also addresses where the name comes from, its historical basis and how it helps frame the group’s organizing efforts.

In the discussion portion, we discuss Israel closing the Al Aqsa mosque, US military plans to deploy“advisers” to the Anbar province in Iraq and the FBI impersonating repairmen and media organization, accused cop killer Eric Frein’s capture, and Josh Rogin and Eli Lake’s new job with Bloomberg.

Podcast: Max Blumenthal on Israel’s Gaza onslaught and rising fanaticism among Zionists in the US

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gosztola and I spend the entire hour speaking with Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, about his visit to Gaza during Israel’s summertime assault, the out-of-control genocidal racism within Israel and the rising fanaticism of Zionist ideologues in the United States. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

As always, Kevin’s got the details:

At New York City’s Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera staged the opening performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer.” It is based on the story of Palestinian militants who hijacked a ship and demanded the release of 50 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in 1985. Initially, their demands were not met so the Palestinians threw a 69-year-old American Jew in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, overboard. They eventually managed to negotiate safe passage in return for the release of passengers aboard the ship.

The opera was received fairly well by critics, who acknowledged the nuanced portrayals of Jewish and Palestinian people. But that is exactly what infuriated right-wing Zionists with the Americans for Safe Israel, a far-right pro-settler organization that organized protests against the opera (which, by the way, was first staged in 1991).

Max Blumenthal, journalist and author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, joined “Unauthorized Disclosure” this week to talk about the fanatical protesters he encountered when he went to the Lincoln Center on the opening night, who seek to perpetuate the “spirit of the Holocaust” to maintain their status and preserve their occupation of Palestinians. He also shares his experiences in Israel and Gaza in the midst and aftermath of Israel’s summer assault, which killed over two thousand Palestinians and damaged infrastructure more severely than Israel’s two previous wars on Gaza.

Blumenthal describes how the Lincoln Center was surrounded by “fanatics,” who had been incited to a “near-riot frenzy” by the fact that this opera was being performed. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who is the money manager for George Pataki who once called writer Tony Kushner a “Kapo” or a Jewish concentration camp guard, footed the bill for the protest. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke against this opera.

“They were heckling people going in including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I saw David Remnick, the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, and get screamed at by these demonstrators calling him a Nazi pig,” Blumenthal shares. He saw a 90-year-old woman being pushed around in her wheelchair by her African-American “caretaker.” He was recognized walking by a woman, who “tried to summon the worst insult she could” and wound up calling a “disgusting Jew.” She summoned a “geriatric mob” of people to surround him.

“These Zionist fanatics were hurling anti-Semitic insults at me,” Blumenthal states. He managed to get away.

Blumenthal noticed a “strange obsession with beheading.” They had signs imagining that journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by the Islamic State, had been beheaded at the Lincoln Center. “This was part of their phantasmagorical macabre imagery.”

“The most bizarre thing I saw, something I’ve never seen in my life, was yellow badges were distributed,” Blumenthal describes. “Jews living in Nazi-occupied areas in World War II were forced to wear these yellow badges that were shaped like Stars of David and read Juda or Jew on them so the could be racially classified and singled out for discrimination and ultimately extermination. You saw mostly older Jewish people voluntarily walking around with yellow badges that read ‘Never Again,’ singling themselves out on the streets of New York, suggesting that they were victims of a second Holocaust because of like an opera showing at the Lincoln Center.”

There was a lot of media coverage of the protests against the opera in the New York Times, the New Yorker and the New York Daily News. All the New York TV networks were there for the scene. However, the fact that Zionists were handing out yellow badges did not make news reports.

“It was like they went out of their way to avoid showing this sickening symbol that abuses and exploits the memory of the Holocaust. And it suggests that these [Jewish State in Israel in the Levant (JSIL)] fanatics are actually seeking to live the Holocaust in spirit in order to confirm their evanescent identity in a multicultural tolerant society that confers upon them unlimited privilege and entitlement.”

Blumenthal addresses the presence of mobs in Jerusalem, particularly organizing by a group called Lehava, “an anti-miscegenation group dedicated to the prevention of relationships between Jewish women and Arab men. Hundreds of people “besieged a wedding” to protest a Jewish woman marrying an Arab man near Jerusalem.

“I managed to talk to one of the people organizing with them in English,” Blumenthal recounts. “He was obviously a colonist whose parents were from the West, who is an Anglo colonist, and he said that we’re here to tell scum that they’re not wanted in this place. We’re here to fight scum and we’re doing it to make the Jews strong. Basically, that was his message until he was told to stop talking to me by the leadership, top cadres of the organization.”

“What I noticed when I went out with the few leftists willing to protest the war in a really forceful way in Tel Aviv,” Blumenthal adds, was the “sense of fear that the right had created among them. It was kind of a parallel to the fear that Israelis in the south had of Hamas terror tunnels.”

Following a left wing rally in Tel Aviv, organizers called out to everyone to disperse because right wingers were coming to hunt them. Blumenthal remained in the area and no right wingers came. However, the “fear factor was so high” that they believed they would be attacked.

Blumenthal spoke to people in Gaza who survived Israel’s assault. For example, he talks about how Israel unleashed its “full malevolent fury” on Rafah after one of its soldiers was “momentarily captured.” They killed about two hundred people and threatened to bomb the main hospital. Everyone had to evacuate and went to work at a tiny dental clinic in the center of town called the Kuwaiti Hospital, which only had twenty beds. This was where dead children were stored in ice cream coolers because there was nowhere to store the bodies.

“Chief doctor, Dr. Samir Homs, who I met, had to store body parts in meat lockers of nearby butchers. He was doing operations on the floor. He was doing amputations in dental chairs. And that was what Israel did to Rafah on August 1 and it was all under the command of someone named Commander Ofer Winter,” Blumenthal recalls.

Blumenthal mentions that Winter regarded the people of Gaza “not as enemy combatants or civilian enemies, which is bad enough,” but called them “blasphemers of God.” This religious fanatic led a top Israeli infantry division into Gaza during the summer. He embodies the “religious messianism that is overwhelming Israeli society and the genocidal approach to a Palestinian population that is ghettoized and unknown to most Israelis.”

When Blumenthal visited Gaza, he met many Palestinians who had never met someone who was Jewish.

There’s a deliberate conflation of European anti-Semitism, of classical anti-Semitism with Arab anti-Semitism and Palestinian anti-Semitism is an entirely different phenomenon. Palestinian anti-Semitism doesn’t require anti-Semitic textbooks or fanatical Islamist preachers to encourage. All it requires are Israeli combat jets and tanks and soldiers bearing the symbol of the Jewish State in Israel in the Levant on their uniforms to encourage it.”

You go to the Gaza Strip. It’s a literal walled-off ghetto, and the only people there who have met Jews are the older folks cause many of them used to work in Israel. And they don’t have the friendliest attitude either because the Jewish State, which claims to be acting in the name of all Jews in the world, is carpet bombing them but they do have a more tolerant attitude. Then you talk to the younger people who’ve never met a Jew, who didn’t confront them in a tank and they’re not the most philo-Semitic people. And I got to say that’s not their fault.

However, most of them that I met don’t really seem to be that sectarian. Many of the educated people have an understanding that there are other Jews in the world that have different attitudes. And some of them express a yearning to meet Israeli Jews on a neutral field, to meet Israeli Jews who aren’t pointing weapons at them. But that’s been rendered impossible by the militant sectarian leaders of JSIL and it’s really unfortunate.

Blumenthal traveled among the ruins of homes in places that were bombarded and saw Stars of David spray painted on walls or etched into furniture, where soldiers “marked their territory.” Effectively, they are “spreading hatred of Judaism.”

“They are abusing the symbol of the oldest monotheistic religion in the world and narrowing it down to the miserable seventy-year experience of an apartheid state. That is incredibly dangerous and it reflects the attitude that is inculcated in these young people in the Israeli education system, which is that the whole world is against them.”

Why do media value Israeli children’s lives more than those of Palestinian kids?

A young Palestinian man named Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi rammed his car into pedestrians exiting the Ammunition Hill light rail station in northern Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing three-month-old Haya Zissel Brown and injuring at least seven others.

Israeli officials instantly labeled the crash a terrorist attack, which US media outlets have parroted without question even though the intent of the driver remains unclear. Given that Israeli police shot and killed al-Shaludi immediately after he exited the vehicle, whether the crash was deliberate may never be certain.

His family insists it was an accident, telling reporters that al-Shaludi, 21 years old, suffered from mental illness as a result of being tortured in Israeli prison.

“We believe that he was shot and killed in cold blood and there was no attempt to question him, and hear his side of the story,” his cousin, Abed al-Shaludi, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Al-Shaludi had been jailed by Israel three times since September 2012 for allegedly hurling stones and molotov cocktails at Israeli settlers and their property in Silwan, his neighborhood in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli press is using this to cast al-Shaludi as a career criminal with a history of “anti-Jewish” violence.

According to his mother, al-Shaludi’s metal health began to deteriorate after a three-week-long interrogation at the hands of the Shin Bet (Israel’s secret police) in the Jerusalem Russian Compound jail, a notorious site of abuse and torture of Palestinians.

This context has of course been missing or buried in most US media accounts, of which there are many. Israel and Palestine-related news is currently saturated with headlines about a Palestinian man killing an Israeli baby.

Meanwhile, these same outlets have either whitewashed or completely ignored the ongoing abuse and killings of Palestinian children by the Israeli military and settlers.

Gaza children still dying

The same day that al-Shaludi killed an Israeli infant with his car, an unexploded Israeli bomb took the life of four-year-old Muhammad Sami Abu Jrad in Beit Hanoun, a city in northern Gaza that was decimated by Israel’s merciless summertime bombing campaign, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including more than 500 children.

According to the Ma’an News Agency, Jrad is the tenth person killed by unexploded Israeli munitions, most of which have yet to be cleared because the Israeli-imposed, Egypt-enforced blockade hampers access to the robotic and protective equipment needed to neutralize the leftover ordnance.

Unlike the tragic death of three-month-old Haya Zissel Brown, Muhammad Jrad’s killing elicited only silence from the American press corps, as did that of another Palestinian child run over by an Israeli settler earlier this week.

Children run down

On Sunday, a man reportedly from the Jewish-only settlement of Yitzhar ran over Palestinian schoolchildren as they made their way towards their mothers after exiting a school bus in the West Bank town of Sinjil.

Five-year-old Inas Khalil died of her wounds shortly thereafter and another girl, also hit, was left in critical condition.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Podcast: Guantanamo Prisoner’s Attorney on Importance of Public Seeing Videos of His Forced-Feedings

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Cori Crider of Reprieve about the ongoing torture of her client, Guantanamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab. During the discussion portion, we chat about the outrageous police violence and brave activism we witnessed in St. Louis during Ferguson October. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here).

More details from Kevin:

Guantanamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab has been pursuing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s administration to force the government stop using force-feeding to punish him while he is on hunger strike and protesting against his continued indefinite detention, even though he has been cleared for release.

There were legal proceedings in recent weeks, where a federal judge heard testimony about his treatment. The lawyers filed a “post-trial brief” on October 17, which argued that Dhiab has suffered an “unacceptable and unconstitutional degree of cruelty and incompetence” by authorities who have “sought to suppress” Dhiab’s “peaceful protest by causing him gratuitous pain.”

Judge Gladys Kessler has ordered that videos of Dhiab’s force-feedings and forcible removal from his cell for those sessions be released to media organizations for the public to see. But the government requested a 30-day delay to prepare and file an appeal and have, as of now, managed to stall the disclosure of videos to the press.

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast the guest is Cori Crider, a director for Reprieve and a counsel representing Dhiab. She describes the kind of treatment Dhiab has suffered in Guantanamo and why he decided to bring a lawsuit against the United States government. She highlights the significance of 32 videos of Dhiab’s force-feeding and forced removal from his cell, which a federal judge has ordered be released (although the government is appealing). She also discusses the critical role she plays as an attorney who can publicly advocate for Dhiab while he remains in indefinite detention.

During the discussion portion, Gosztola and Khalek debrief and reflect on “Ferguson October,” since they were both there in St. Louis last weekend to cover the “weekend of resistance.” Then, the show highlights plans by the Obama administration to build a new rebel force for battle in Syria, a bill that passed in Pennsylvania which will make it possible for inmates and former offenders to be silenced if they want to engage in speech and a report that only 4% of US drone strike victims in Pakistan have been al Qaeda.

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