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Did police inaction and pinkwashing help kill Khalid Jabara?

Originally published at The Electronic Intifada

An Arab American man was shot and killed in front of his home last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by a neighbor who terrorized the victim’s family for years, referring to them by such racist slurs as “dirty Arabs” and “dirty Lebanese” who “throw gay people off the roof.”

Khalid Jabara, a 37-year-old of Lebanese Christian descent, was shot to death on his front porch on Friday.

Stanley Vernon Majors, a 61-year-old with a history of violence, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.

For the three years prior to the killing of Khalid, the Jabara family had endured threats, racial epithets, assaults and a vehicular attack that left Khalid’s mother Haifa with a broken shoulder and other injuries.

Majors spent eight months in jail awaiting an October trial on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and other charges related to the car ramming of Haifa Jabara. But in May he was released on bond, despite a prosecutor telling the court that Majors was “a substantial risk to the public.”

“This suspect had a history of bigotry against our family,” said Khalid’s sister Victoria Jabara Williams in a statement on behalf of the family that she posted on Facebook on Monday.

“He often called us ‘dirty Arabs,’ ‘filthy Lebanese,’ ‘Aye-rabs,’ and ‘Mooslems,’” the statement said. “He made xenophobic comments about many in our community – ‘filthy Mexican’ and the ‘n’ word were all part of his hateful approach to anyone from a different background.”

“My family lived in fear of this man and his hatred for years,” Williams Jabara wrote. “Yet in May, not even one year after he ran over our mother and despite our repeated protests, he was released from jail with no conditions on his bond — no ankle monitor, no drug/alcohol testing, nothing.”

In a motion filed in May, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler urged the court against releasing Majors on bond, warning that he “has demonstrated a habitual disregard” for the law and the welfare of Oklahoma citizens and “has demonstrated a wanton disregard for the life of [Haifa Jabara].”

Majors was also convicted in 2009 in Los Angeles of threatening to “terrorize” and sentenced to 16 months in prison.

The Tulsa prosecutor asked the judge to deny bond or raise it to the maximum allowed for the charges: $300,000. Instead, District Judge William LaFortune increased Majors’ bond from $30,000 to just $60,000, allowing him to get out of jail.

Three months later Khalid Jabara was shot dead and Majors was charged with his murder.

Police negligence?

Police portrayed the slaying of Jabara as a tragedy that could not have been prevented, caused by an ongoing feud between neighbors.

According to the police, Jabara called to report someone knocking on his windows at 5:00 pm last Friday.

Police say they arrived to Jabara’s home at 6:30pm, determined there was nothing they could do and left at 6:40pm.

Jabara was killed eight minutes later.

Jabara’s family described the sequence of events much differently.

“Only 30 minutes prior to my brother’s shooting, Khalid called the police stating this man had a gun and that he was scared for what might happen,” Victoria Jabara Williams’ statement on behalf of the family said. “The police came and told him there was nothing to be done. Minutes later, the suspect murdered our brother with four shots.”

According to court documents, both Khalid and Haifa Jabara were granted protective orders against Majors that prohibited him from having any contact with them or possessing a firearm for five years.

Yet according to FOX23, police maintained that “Majors was not doing anything to warrant a search of his home.”

In response to the Jabara family’s accusations of police negligence, the Tulsa Police Department’s public information officer Jeanne MacKenzie told The Electronic Intifada that “officers responded to a suspicious activity call earlier in the evening called in by the victim” but upon arrival were “unable to locate any criminal activity.”

Asked why police didn’t question Majors, Mackenzie replied, “it is too early to comment on all aspects of this investigation. The homicide unit is still preparing their investigation to present to the district attorney’s office.”

History of hate and violence

Majors was arrested in March 2015 for allegedly violating the protective order against Haifa Jabara. According to the report by the arresting officer, Jabara told police that Majors’ had entered her driveway and yelled “Fuck you” and “I want to kill you.”

“While taking Majors into custody, he was asked to put down his beer multiple times by officers,” the report states. “Majors chugged his beer before he put it down.” He was also reportedly “uncooperative” the entire time.

Haifa filed the protective order against Majors in 2013 for stalking her, knocking on her windows late at night and launching into racist tirades against her and her family.

In early 2015, Khalid filed for a protective order as well.

Six months later, Majors allegedly tried to make good on his threat. On 12 September 2015, he allegedly rammed his car into Haifa Jabara while she was jogging, leaving her with a “broken shoulder, collapsed lung, broken ankle, broken nose, head trauma and fractured ribs amongst other injuries,” according to her family.

The district attorney charged Majors with “intentionally” hitting Jabara and “maliciously” fleeing the scene. “There were no skid marks to indicate an attempt by [Majors] to the stop the vehicle prior to striking the victim” on what was “a clear and sunny day,” the prosecutor’s filing states.

When police found Majors in a nearby parking lot, he was drunk and urinating. He reportedly told police, “I was out driving my car, drunk. I’m always drunk and you guys never stop me.”

The brazen behavior he has been able to get away with in such circumstances, including in this case after allegedly trying to kill someone, stands in sharp contrast to the endemic police shootings of Black Americans often for doing nothing at all.

Influenced by pinkwashing?

Majors called the police on the Jabara family incessantly. One officer recalled being “dispatched to their location three times in one day as a result of [Majors] issuing complaints about the [Jabara] household.”

It was behavior reminiscent of Craig Stephen Hicks, an anti-religion bigot who obsessively harassed his Muslim neighbors – Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha – about parking spaces.

Hicks is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges for killing the couple, along with Yusor’s younger sister Razan Abu-Salha, in their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last year.

Three hours before Majors rammed his car into Haifa Jabara, court documents show that Majors summoned the police to complain about a “vehicle parked in the street facing the wrong way.”

The officer who was dispatched that day testified that Majors characterized the Jabara family as “filthy Lebanese” who “throw gay people off the roof.”

After the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, began releasing shocking propaganda videos in late 2014 showing the group throwing people it accused of being gay off a roof, the right-wing echo chamber that typically incites hate against gays went to work portraying the savage acts of ISIS as representative of the supposedly inherent intolerance in Islam and Middle Eastern culture.

This rhetorical strategy – known as pinkwashing – is also used to portray Western countries and Israel as inherently more tolerant and thus to justify or erase violence against allegedly uncivilized Muslims.

ISIS has continued to produce similar videos every few months depicting acts of violence against gay people, likely in order to advance the group’s twisted objective of eliminating the “grayzone” – the co-existence that Muslims enjoy in Western countries – and sparking an all-out civilizational war.

To achieve this goal, ISIS has entered a de facto tacit alliance with right-wing and pro-Israel propagandists who gleefully spread such anti-Muslim defamation.

Around the same time ISIS debuted its first anti-gay snuff film, Majors married a man named Stephen Anthony Schmauss.

This raises the troubling possiblity that the pinkwashing narrative adopted by the American right in recent years resonated with Majors on a personal level.

Broken system

On another occasion, Majors allegedly yelled “Fuck you Arabs, Fuck you bastards. I want to kill you all. I know where your daughter lives and will take care of her,” according to a motion filed by the district attorney in September 2015.

Abed Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, emphasized that being Lebanese Christians did not shield the Jabara family from the Islamophobia that factored into the hatred espoused by Majors.

“It’s not just Muslims or even Arabs” who are being targeted by anti-Muslim bigotry, Ayoub told The Electronic Intifada. “It’s anyone who is perceived as Arab or Muslim. We have Hispanics who call our office reporting harassment for being perceived as Arab or Muslim.”

“A lot of people are going to say all we have to do is defeat Donald Trump,” he added. “But if he loses it’s not going to change for immigrant communities. These hate crimes didn’t start because of Donald Trump. They were happening before Trump and they’re going to continue after he’s gone. It’s indicative of a broken system.”

Months before Trump kicked off his presidential run, the FBI warned in an internal report that right-wing extremists, inspired by anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and disinformation funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars by wealthy pro-Israel zealots, were beginning to plot attacks against Muslims.

And while the hate has certainly intensified in the Trump era, he’s hardly the only demagogue around, particularly in a right-leaning state like Oklahoma.

In June, State Representative Pat Ownbey republished an article on his Facebook page that called for a “final solution” against “radical Islam,” echoing the phrase used to describe Hitler’s genocide of Europe’s Jews.

Two days after the slaying of Jabara, the imam of a Queens, New York, mosque and his assistant were gunned down in the street just after they left afternoon prayers.

Oscar Morel, 35, has been charged with the murder of Imam Alauddin Akonjee, 55, and his assistant, Thara Miah, 64. While police still say the motive is unclear, that attack only heightened fears that rising Islamophobia is increasingly turning lethal on America’s streets.

“I want to shed light and bring awareness to the negligence that occurred from the first moment the neighbor … this monster … called our family ‘Dirty Arabs,’ to the time he ran over my mother with his car, to the two protective order violations, and our constant vigilance to communicate and be proactive with the [district attorneys], to the fact that they let him out of jail after eight months,” Khalid Jabara’s sister Victoria wrote in a separate Facebook post.

“While one cannot explain irrationality and evil, one thing I can explain is that indifference and inaction were major factors leading to Khalid’s death,” his brother Rami wrote on Facebook.

“As an attorney, I have seen the system fail defendants, but it also seems to fail the victims just as much or perhaps more. I feel like my family lost, my community lost. My brother lost. We all lost. I feel like we did everything we possibly could do [to] advocate for and protect ourselves.”

People are using the hashtag #justice4Khalid to demand accountability.

Class Politics, Not White Male Angst, Inspires Wide Support For Sanders

Throughout the Democratic presidential primary, journalists and commentators have relied upon their interactions with Bernie Sanders supporters on social media to promote the myth that what drives white men to support the democratic socialist is angst or some form of racial resentment. But there simply is no basis in fact for this argument; in fact, it is class politics, which is at the core of the groundswell of support for Sanders.

Matt Karp, who is an assistant professor of history at Princeton and a contributing editor of Jacobin, appears on the show to talk about a story he co-authored with Shawn Gude on the Sanders campaign, class politics of the campaign, and how—despite the dominant narrative—it is not driven by white male angst.

Karp wrote a piece that deconstructed a flawed survey, which two political scientists inappropriately used to draw conclusions about white Sanders supporters. The problem, as Karp points out, is the survey included Republicans. When they are removed and only people who likely voted for Sanders remain, it shows white Sanders supporters are not only more class conscious than white Clinton supporters but they are consistently less racist than white Clinton supporters.

We spend the interview breaking down this survey, discussing why it is important, and what Karp has learned from writing about the Sanders campaign for Jacobin.

Then, hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola return from a weeks-long break to highlight the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech against Donald Trump. The hosts talk about the tragedy of refugees drowning as they flee for Europe. U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s appeal is briefly discussed. Finally, the hosts talk about the upcoming California primary and the Democratic Party’s disdain for independent voters.

The interview is available for download on iTunes. For a link to the interview (and also to download the interview), go here. A page will load with the audio file of the interview. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the interview.

To listen to this week’s discussion (and also to download the discussion), go here. A page will load with the audio file of the discussion. It will automatically start playing for you to hopefully enjoy.

Below is a partial transcript.

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The Clintons And The ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ Election

Former President Bill Clinton went off on a rant against Black Lives Matter protesters in the audience at a campaign event for his wife, Hillary Clinton. There was focus on the spectacle itself. Some attention was paid to the substance of Clinton’s remarks, but for the most part, it was presumed that Clinton became worked up and agitated by the protesters.

Did Bill Clinton really lose his cool at a campaign event in Philadelphia or was this calculated? Was this another Sister Souljah moment, like what happened to Lisa Williamson during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign?

On CNN, commentator Van Jones said Bill Clinton destroyed Williamson’s career, as she was sitting in the audience, in order to show white voters he could stand up to Jesse Jackson and to black activists.

This week Douglas Williams, a writer for “The South Lawn,” joins the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast to discuss Bill Clinton’s attacks on Black Lives Matter and more. We discuss the crime bill in the 1990s. We talk about how the Clinton campaign has used African Americans against each other and how the Democratic primary race has perverted the concept of diversity. Williams calls this the “cognitive dissonance election,” and we explore this idea during the interview.

In a separately posted Part II of the episode, hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola discuss the Panama Papers, a class action lawsuit by American Muslims against the No Fly List, a human rights hearing on water crises in the United States, and some more of the latest developments in the 2016 presidential election.

The podcast episode is available for download on iTunes. For a link to the interview with Douglas Williams (and also to download the episode as well), go here. A page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.

For a link to the discussion portion of the episode with Khalek and Gosztola, go here.

Below is a partial transcript for the interview.

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Video: AIPAC attendees slam Netanyahu’s racism when they think it’s Trump’s

On Monday, thousands of supporters of Israel filed into the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, to watch the Republican presidential candidates address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential arm of the Israel lobby.

The line to get in spanned an entire block and wrapped around the corner, and was the scene of confrontations between conference attendees and an assortment of protesters, some chanting against Israel, others against AIPAC and almost everyone against Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner whose big speech was just hours away.

It was the perfect opportunity to engage with Israel’s most politically active supporters, so I pulled out my camera phone and began asking what they thought of Trump.

Most respondents expressed extremely negative views about the candidate, slamming his racism, xenophobia and incitement to violence.

So I decided to conduct an experiment to test for consistency by attributing racist statements made by Israeli leaders to Trump and asking respondents what they thought of such language.

Most people I spoke with energetically condemned racist statements attributed to Trump. However, when I revealed the statements had actually been made by Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, respondents immediately excused, justified or supported the rhetoric they had just condemned.

Migrants compared to cancer

One young woman said of Trump, “He’s terrible. He incites racist attitudes.” When asked, “What do you think about Trump’s comments comparing migrants to cancer?” she responded with disgust, “He’s awful. I hate Trump.”

But it was Israeli culture minister Miri Regev, not Trump, who compared African refugees to “a cancer,” a statement that 52 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with in one survey.

Regev later apologized, not to Africans but to cancer survivors for likening them to Black people.

I revealed to the young woman that Regev was the source of that statement and added that Netanyahu had recently called for surrounding all of Israel with walls “to protect ourselves from wild beasts.”

“I think you have to step back for a second,” the young woman snapped. “Israel is next to Syria, which is, as you know, going through a civil war. So when [Netanyahu] says ‘wild beasts’ he means jihadis who can potentially be coming into Israel. So I think you need to be very distinctive about that.”

The cognitive dissonance on display was startling as one anti-Trump liberal after another transformed into a defender of hate-speech uttered by Israelis, reflecting the alarming degree to which Arabs have been dehumanized in the minds of many of Israel’s North American supporters.

A woman from Montgomery, Maryland, stood outside the Verizon Center holding a sign that read, “Jews against Trump because we’ve seen this before.”

Though outraged by Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and his pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, she seemed to keep her distance from the larger protests against both Trump and Israel. It was soon clear why.

Asked if she was similarly disturbed by Netanyahu’s “wild beasts” comment, her tone changed and she became defensive.

“I didn’t hear the context,” she said.

“Is there a context where that comment would be okay?” I asked.

She insisted she couldn’t respond without hearing the statement in full and verifying it for herself.

Ironically, her response was not unlike Trump’s answer to a CNN interviewer last month when the billionaire was asked to repudiate the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Trump refused to disavow Duke or his white supremacy.

Trump later tried to blame his response on a “bad earpiece.”

“Abusive and negative”

A man waiting in line to get inside the stadium told me Trump is “psychotic” and accused him of pandering to bigots. But he rolled his eyes and walked away when confronted with Regev’s cancer analogy.

Another man standing in line said he was “afraid” of Trump and called the “wild beasts” comment “abusive and negative.”

As I tried to explain that Netanyahu was the source of the “wild beasts” comment, the man raised his voice, “What does Donald Trump have to do with Netanyahu?”

He went on to blurt out standard pro-Israel talking points.

“Buses were exploding in Israel. Buses exploded! There were bombs exploding,” he argued. “Walls went up to keep Palestinian terrorists out because they’re killing people.”

While Israel insists that its apartheid wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Hague in 2004, is vital to keep suicide bombers out, even Netanyahu has confessed that the true purpose of the “separation fence” is to protect Israel’s Jewish majority from “demographic spillover” of Palestinians from the West Bank.

And contrary to oft-repeated Israeli government claims, the wall was not responsiblefor a reduction in bomb attacks carried out by Palestinians.

Israel is “a light unto nations” with “the most moral army in the world,” the man insisted, ignoring decades of Israeli occupation and its attendant brutal violence against millions of Palestinians who remain without rights.

The lesson of the day, if there was one, seemed to be that violent demagoguery, no matter how reprehensible, is perfectly justified when it comes from the mouths of Israeli leaders.

Clinton Manipulates Language of ‘Intersectionality’ To Preserve Support From Minority Voters

The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton has been a master class in how to divorce economic issues from issues of race and gender by pushing the language of “intersectionality,” which enables the political class to head off threats to their power and protect the status quo. The results in the South Carolina Democratic primary are a clear example of this reality.

Clinton has suggested, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow…would that end racism? Would that end sexism?” Her supporters have been led to believe this is a reasonable perspective to hold, and so, as Roqayah Chamseddine has argued, the answer to Sanders’ “economic populism” has been relatively easy—”divert attention to other issues” and mislead the “public in terms of how anti-capitalism converges with race, gender, and class.”

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast we are joined by Vivek Chibber, a sociology professor at New York University and the author of “Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital.”

During the interview, he analyzes how neoliberals and the Democratic Party wield identity politics to push citizens to vote against their self-interests. First, he offers a basic explanation of “post-colonial theory,” and then he talks about how the New Left popularized the political or intellectual thinking prevalent today. The interview pivots to Hillary Clinton and how her campaign deploys the language of radical left-wing politics in order to manage and lower the expectations of voters, especially minorities.

In a separate episode, hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola break down some of the many social issues raised by the campaigns of Clinton, Sanders, and Donald Trump. This episode includes talk about Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams confronting Clinton over her “super-predator” comment in 1996. We spend time on Washington Post Jonathan Capehart, who helped the Clinton campaign do damage control and even went so far as to defend what Clinton said about “super-predators” back in 1996. We also highlight recent developments with the closure of Guantanamo and Rasmea Odeh’s case.

Throughout March, as the election intensifies even more with primaries, we intend to post our interview and our discussion separately so we are not posting 90-minute episodes, which listeners cannot consume and appreciate in one sitting. By separating them, there will be more political discussion for our listeners to enjoy throughout the entire week.

The podcast episodes are available for download on iTunes. For a link to the episodes (and also to download them as well), go here and here. A page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.

Below is a partial transcript of the interview with Vivek Chibber.

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Israeli leaders lit the match that burned baby Ali Dawabsha

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

The savage burning alive of 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha in the occupied West Bank village of Duma has elicited energetic condemnations from Israeli leaders.

To anyone paying attention to the widespread expressions of hatred emanating from many quarters of Israeli Jewish society, these stern platitudes are not only unconvincing, they are an obvious handwashing performance meant for external consumption.

It is difficult to find a single Israeli cabinet minister who has not encouraged or perpetrated racist violence against Palestinians, largely because this kind of incitement – and worse – gets them elected.

Ali was killed in the middle of the night, early Friday, when persons, later seen by witnesses fleeing back to the settlement of Maaleh Efraim, smashed the windows of the child’s family’s home and threw Molotov cocktails and flammable liquid inside.

His parents and 4-year-old brother barely survived the attack – they are fighting for their lives with burns covering almost their whole bodies.

An autopsy found that Ali’s “body was completely blackened, his features had melted, parts of his extremities disintegrated from the burns, while parts of the lungs and rib cage had melted,” Ma’an News Agency reported.

Burning children, from Gaza to Duma

The attackers spray-painted a Star of David and the Hebrew words for “Revenge” and “Long live the Messiah King” on the walls of a neighoring house which they also burned – no one was injured in it – leaving no confusion about their motive.

Similar nationalist and racist graffiti was found on the walls of homes occupied by Israeli soldiers in Gaza during last summer’s military assault.

This is just one of many reasons the award for most disingenuous posturing goes to the Israeli army, which issued statements condemning “this barbaric act of terrorism” and vowing to intensify efforts “to locate those responsible.”

The notion that the same Israeli army that protects and allows settlers to harass and attack Palestinians with impunity is going to hold the Dawabshas’ attackers accountable is far fetched.

This is also the army that completely destroyed or severely damaged more than 25,000 homes in Gaza last summer, wiping out entire families sheltered inside, “including nineteen babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5,” according to an AP investigation.

The only thing that separates the Israeli soldiers responsible for those killings from the settlers who burned baby Ali is a uniform and explicit orders from the state.

Less than 24 hours since vowing to bring the killers to justice, the Israeli army has shot dead two Palestinian teens – Muhammad Hamid al-Masri in Gaza, and 17-year-old Laith al-Khaldi in the West Bank – while the killers of baby Ali remain at large.

From killer to leaders

As for the Israeli officials who rushed to denounce the Duma attack as “terrorism,” all have well-documented histories of engaging in anti-Palestinian incitement. Some have even killed Palestinians themselves and later bragged about it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the architect of last summer’s 51-day assault that killed 551 Palestinian children in Gaza, responded to the settler attack with a statement that his government is “united in strong opposition to such deplorable and awful acts.”

This is the same man who, following the discovery of the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teens one year ago, issued a call for blood vengeance, essentially lighting the match that burned alive 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khudair.

As journalist Dan Cohen observed, it seems vigilante burnings of Palestinian children have become a yearly Israeli ritual.

“Self-genocide”

Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, said, “Arson against a house in Duma and the murder of a baby is a disgusting act of terror.”

This is the same Bennett who famously bragged, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

Perhaps the settlers who murdered baby Ali were following in the footsteps of Bennett, who rose to prominence after playing a key role in triggering Israel’s April 1996 massacre of more than 100 civilians and UN peacekeepers sheltering at a UN base in Qana, Lebanon, during that year’s Israeli invasion.

Over half of those killed in the attack were children.

Had the settlers who burned baby Ali been wearing Israeli army uniforms when they set fire to the Dawabsha house, Bennett would likely be praising rather than denouncing them, much like he did in response to international outrage at the Israeli massacre of the four Baker boys on the beach in Gaza last summer.

Appearing on CNN at the time, Bennett accused Palestinians of “conducting massive self-genocide” to make Israel look bad.

“Chemotherapy”

Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon referred to the killing of baby Ali as “horrible terror attacks that we cannot allow” and promised to “pursue the murderers until we bring them to justice.”

This is the same Yaalon who guaranteed that Israel would not hesitate to kill Palestinian and Lebanese civilians including children, if it felt it had to, in any future war between Israel and its neighbors.

Like most Israeli leaders, Yaalon has a pattern of engaging in violent incitement and of acting on it.

During his stint as Israeli army chief of staff, he likened Palestinians to a cancerous threat that can only be eliminated by “applying chemotherapy.”

If the murderers of baby Ali are anything like Yaalon, they will evade justice and advance their careers while doing it, as Yaalon has successfully done time and again despite his participation in war crimes.

In Israel, killing Palestinians and advocating for genocide builds political careers.

Violent demagogues occupy key positions in government, not in spite of their anti-Palestinian incitement or the killings they have perpetrated, but because of them.

After endorsing a call last June for Palestinian mothers to be slaughtered in their beds to prevent them from birthing “little snakes,” Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked was rewarded by being appointed justice minister.

Killings babies permitted

Eli Ben-Dahan, the settler rabbi in occupied East Jerusalem who decreed that “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human,” is Israel’s recently appointed deputy defense minister.

He is now in charge of the “Civil Administration,” the name Israel gives to the military body that rules Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It is no accident that clerics like Ben-Dahan have been largely silent about baby Ali. After all, they inspire an extreme messianic, eliminationist version of Judaism that drives settler violence.

Two of the most notorious are Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, who in 2009 co-wrote Torat Hamelech (The King’s Torah), a guidebook on when it is permissible to kill non-Jews.

The authors claim that Jewish law permits “killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

Elitzur and Shapira run a hardline yeshiva – Jewish religious school – in the settlement of Yitzhar, home to some of the most violent settlers, not far from the Palestinian village of Duma.

In July 2014, Dov Lior, a leading West Bank settler rabbi who has endorsed Torat Hamelechissued his own ruling that the complete “destruction of Gaza” was permissible.

“At a time of war, the nation under attack is allowed to punish the enemy population with measures it finds suitable, such as blocking supplies or electricity, as well as shelling the entire area … to take crushing deterring steps to exterminate the enemy,” Lior wrote.

Israeli settlers, who see themselves in a perpetual state of war against an “enemy population,” would certainly take heed of such clerical guidance.

In February, the Israeli army raided Yitzhar and confiscated weapons that settlers there planned to use against Palestinians, including flammable liquids, tear gas canisters and black face masks.

Despite the horror expressed by Israel’s most prominent politicians, they have yet to utter a word against the rabbis who incite attacks on Palestinians in the name of their extreme version of Judaism.

Growing racism

Meanwhile, this broad ideological spectrum of hate has consequences that extend beyond the settlements.

A recent report by the Coalition Against Racism in Israel revealed a sharp rise in anti-Arab attacks since 2013, which coincided with racist incitement by Israeli elected officials and decisionmakers during last summer’s attack on Gaza and the February elections.

Over the last year, the report documented 237 racist attacks, with 192 of them directed at Arabs, up from 113 in 2013.

This tally excludes settler attacks in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The culture of hate and extremism that led to Ali Dawabsha’s slaying is rooted not just in the settlements, but within the very fabric of Israeli political culture, its discriminatory regime and the Zionism that underpins them.

Politicians that rule a society where Palestinian babies are routinely called a “demographic threat,” and where many joyfully celebrate their slaughter, cannot claim innocence and purport to be “shocked” when settlers burn Palestinian children alive.

ADL honor for St. Louis police ahead of Ferguson anniversary sparks outrage

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is honoring the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) on 31 July, just days ahead of the first anniversary of the police killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in the St. Louis-area municipality of Ferguson, Missouri.

The purpose of the event, according to an announcement on the ADL’s website, is to celebrate 10 years since the launch of the organization’s Holocaust education program, called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust” (LEAS).

Designed by the ADL and the Holocaust Museum, LEAS is described as “an innovative training that increases law enforcement’s understanding of their role as protectors of the American people and the Constitution.”

“By examining the Holocaust, police learn about the dangers that anti-Semitism, bigotry and bias pose to all,” according to the ADL, which boasts of having trained more than 90,000 police officers in LEAS.

The program has also been introduced to US military personnel with plans to expand its reach.

SLMPD is slated to receive special recognition for being the first law enforcement agency to participate in LEAS when it was piloted in 2004.

The program was created at the behest of former DC Metropolitan police chief and current Philadelphia top cop Charles Ramsey, whose career has been punctuated by violent crackdowns on protests and the expansion of racially discriminatory practices.

Learning about law enforcement’s role in perpetuating the Nazi Holocaust appears to have had little impact on the SLMPD, which participated in the heavily militarized crackdown against Ferguson protesters after Michael Brown’s death and continued to violently crushdemonstrations across St. Louis in the months that followed.

Cut ties with white supremacy

The ADL’s mission at its founding a century ago was to defend Jews against then rampant discrimination. In recent decades, the group’s main preoccupation has been to ferociously pursue critics of Israel and defenders of Palestinian rights.

Notoriously, the ADL spied on both Palestine solidarity and anti-apartheid activists in the 1980s.

In response to the ADL’s event honoring the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (STL-JVP) issued a statement beseeching “all who oppose white supremacy to cut ties with the Anti-Defamation League.”

STL-JVP said it was particularly egregious to honor “a police force whose racist shooting spree targeting Black youth continues, most recently in the shooting of 16-year-old Brandon Claxton in the face last weekend even as witnesses say he posed no threat.”

“We are disgusted by the ADL’s grotesque invocation of the Nazi Holocaust – in which countless members of our families perished – both as a tool to give the ADL and St. Louis police cover as protectors of civil rights, and to frame racism in the US solely within the context of anti-Semitism,” the statement continued.

“We have cringed as the ADL positions itself locally as a champion of racial profiling legislation while sending US police – including former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch – to train on population control in Israel, an apartheid police state with more than 60 years of sophisticated expertise in racial profiling, mass incarceration, settler colonialism, and ethnic cleansing targeting the non-Jewish indigenous Palestinian people,” STL-JVP added.

The group takes to task mainstream Jewish organizations in St. Louis including the ADL, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation whose leaders “speak the language of justice” but “are overtly racist toward Palestinians.”

“Zionism – itself a form of white supremacy that oppresses Palestinians, Jews of color, and other marginalized groups – has no place in any antiracist movement,” STL-JVP states.

The statement concludes by imploring “St. Louis Jewish leaders and organizations, especially those who have been active in Ferguson, to stop playing both sides – chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the streets while working closely with racist Jewish organizations.”

Meanwhile, STL-JVP is organizing a protest outside the ADL’s police celebration and has invited broad participation.

ADL stands by police

Despite the criticism, Karen Aroesty, ADL regional director in St. Louis, is refusing to cancel the event.

“We are validating a 10-year partnership that is not simply about the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, but about more than 50 other departments in the region who have participated in this program in the last decade,” Aroesty told this reporter by telephone.

While she acknowledged bias exists in policing, Aroesty said she believes the ADL’s event is warranted and that activists who are upset by police violence need to engage more.

“Those folks who are impacted by policing, they also need to understand that they have value in that learning process and simply being angry is not going to get the job done,” Aroesty said. “And I do think there are police departments that are kind of frustrated because they feel as if it’s all being put on them to change drastically but there’s certain things that they cannot change.”

When it was suggested that police are not being held accountable for killing citizens across the country, Aroesty said it is police who are being shot in the streets.

“I wonder what happens to our trust in democracy when people feel that they can just indiscriminately shoot police officers,” she said. “What does it do to the community’s sense of stability?” Aroesty asked, referencing the ambush shooting of an officer in St. Louis on 14 July, for which she implied the community bore responsibility.

There’s no doubt that police face threats on the job, but the statistics do not compare to the often racially charged police violence against citizens they are supposedly tasked with protecting.

Of the 67 US police officers that have died “in the line of duty” so far this year, 22 were killed by gunfire or assault, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The rest died from previous illnesses, car crashes, heart attacks or various accidents.

In the same time period, police have killed more than 630 people – nearly ten times as many – with more than 80 deaths in July alone.

And while those who harm police officers are likely to be arrested, charged and convicted, police officers who kill are almost never held accountable.

Nonetheless, Aroesty denied that police impunity is widespread.

“I feel confidant that police officers who are in fact acting beyond the scope and abusing their discretion, that they are in fact being held accountable,” she said. “It is very very complex.”

Anti-Palestinian

Back in March, after the Jewish Community Relations Council pressured the Missouri History Museum to cancel a panel discussion on Ferguson, Palestine and the kidnapping and killing of students from Ayotzinapa College in Mexico, Aroesty applauded the censorship and encouraged the museum to contact SLMPD for assistance in quelling protests the cancellation provoked.

The ADL has repeatedly condemned solidarity between Black Americans and Palestinians, characterizing it as offensive and rooted in hostility toward Israel. It became so incensed, it compiled a blacklist of people and organizations that dared to compare state violence against Black Americans to Israeli violence against Palestinians, accusing Palestine solidarity activists of “trying to rouse support for an anti-Israel agenda by attracting like-minded activists.”

The main connection activists recognize from St. Louis to Palestine is the training relationship between US law enforcement agencies and Israel.

“That’s hogwash!” Aroesty interjected before this reporter could finish asking a question about the fact that senior commanders from numerous US police departments routinely travel to Israel to “learn” from state security and occupation forces. Many of these junkets are organized by the ADL.

“Sure, the Israelis have, because of their security issues, a unique capacity for training police chiefs from around the country who have been going [to Israel],” Aroesty conceded. “And a number of different agencies, not just ADL, sponsor training programs.”

Under the cover of “counterterrorism training” senior commanders from nearly every major US law enforcement agency have traveled to Israel, including the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan police departments.

In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the ADL’s National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s own website.

While Aroesty acknowledged Fitch’s participation, she rejected as “factually incorrect” any suggestion that the training had any impact on the behavior of St. Louis police in the weeks following Michael Brown’s death.

But on its website, the ADL boasts of sending more than 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, proudly stating that they are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”

Still, Areosty insisted that the training junkets “had nothing to do with any of the police tactics or the optics that were experienced in the couple of weeks after Michael Brown was shot.”

She insisted that any criticism of the training programs and ADL’s role in them “was about the ideological goals of the anti-Israel movement” which was intent on using “whatever they could to make their point … whether they were factual or not.”

The protests the ADL’s event is sparking suggest that it getting harder for the pro-Israel group to pose as both a champion of civil rights in the US while defending the police forces that routinely trample those rights with impunity.

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