Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 2018

Here’s a question from a recent workshop participant. “How do you handle someone complaining about a co-worker?”

First, you want people to come to you. Some managers want challenges, problems, and people to go away. They hide in their offices, sneak to the elevator, or duck into the restroom to avoid facing tough conversations.

By Dan Rockwell?

Suggestions for dealing with co-worker complaints:

  1. Ask the complainer, “What can you do to solve this?” Some complainers want you to solve their problem. That’s a last resort. Savior-managers create irresponsible employees.
  2. The complainer may say, “I don’t know what I can do.” Say, “Why don’t you come back this afternoon with some ideas?”
  3. Develop a strategy to deal with the issue. If you can’t, try number four.
  4. Invite the person being complained about to a meeting to discuss the issue. You’ll be surprised that issues have several sides.
  5. Focus on issues and performance rather than personalities, unless personality is the problem.
  6. Take small steps in positive directions, don’t expect giant leaps. Identify observable behaviors. If you can’t see it, you can’t measure it.
  7. Follow up. “Let’s get together in two weeks to follow up.”

More suggestions:

  1. Withhold judgment.
  2. Never take sides.
  3. Clarify, is it personal or performance. It’s often personal.
  4. Warning, backstabbers are masters at seeming helpful while being destructive.

Bonus tip: When you bring the two parties together and one of them had no idea there was a problem, you’re dealing with a backstabber. Excuse the one who’s in the dark and deal with the real issue.

Most importantly: Deal with interpersonal tensions because relationships are worth it.

Read what Facebook contributors added: Leadership Freak Coffee Shop

You’re great at doing but are you great at connecting? I’m still blown away by Henry Mintzberg’s one word of advice, “Connect.”

Business stresses and people tensions result in unhappy, disengaged staff unless leaders model and encourage connecting. Meaningful relationships break the grip of distrust, disengagement, and fear.

Connecting with others is the secret to success in business and happiness in life.

Continue being great at getting the job done and add connecting to your leadership skills.

Great success: Great success requires great connecting. If you can succeed without out others you aren’t going very far.

You can’t lead people you don’t know and understand.

Connecting tips:

  1. Believe connecting is good for business, others, and you. You can’t fake it. Techniques without authenticity create fakers who aren’t trusted and often end tragically.
  2. Go to others; don’t wait for them to come to you. Leaders move first.
  3. Be fully present. Give the gift of yourself.
  4. Engage in small talk. Avoid being so focused on tasks that you ignore people.
  5. Give yourself first. Model the type of conversations you’re encouraging in the office.
  6. Acknowledge emotional states but avoid subtle put downs. “You seem happy today, what happened.” For example. You might privately say, “You’ve seemed down lately are you okay?”
  7. Listen with your eyes. If eye contact is uncomfortable focus on the forehead.
  8. Listen with your body. Relax your stance to avoid a, “I have to get going message.” Sit if you can.
  9. Show appreciation to everyone regardless of status.

Suggestions from Facebook contributors:

  1. Communicate the good and the bad.
  2. Put people first.
  3. Be yourself.
  4. Share without concern for the gain.
  5. Show compassion.
  6. Have empathy.

See the list of suggestions from Facebook contributors: Leadership Freak Coffee Shop.

How can leaders connect with colleagues, superiors, or subordinates?

 

ACTIVIST AND HERO HARRY LESLIE SMITH PASSES

harry leslie smith.jpg

World War II veteran and Labour activist Harry Leslie Smith standing with refugees

Veteran Labour activist Harry Leslie Smith has died aged 95.

Harry, who served in the Second World War and wrote movingly of the suffering and death of loved ones, friends and neighbours before the foundation of the NHS, campaigned not only for the protection of our health service but stood with refugees and against all the predations of Tory government on our vulnerable citizens.

Harry showed an energy that people half his age would have been proud of. He was in Canada when he died, after being hospitalised following a fall.

News of Harry’s illness sparked a worldwide surge of sympathy, solidarity and interest, with leading figures from many nations expressing hope for his recovery under the hashtag #IStandWithHarry.

harry uniform.png

Harry as a young man in his military uniform

Harry met his German wife Friede in the devastation of post-war Hamburg and his book about her and their experiences, Love Among the Ruins received huge acclaim.

Their son described her as ‘[Harry’s] true homeland’.

Episodes of his ‘Harry’s Last Stand‘ podcast can be downloaded from iTunesSoundCloud and other services.

The SKWAWKBOX sends sympathy and solidarity to his family. RIP.

 

THE SCIENCE OF GRATITUDE

The more you learn about gratitude, the more it becomes a magic elixir.

Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on gratitude, says…Gratitude has the power to:

  1. Heal.
  2. Energize.
  3. Change lives. (Like any positive change in attitude? Given that we can’t change much of our character?)

Defining gratitude:

Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness in the world. You recognize that you have received gifts and benefits.

Gratitude is a recognition that the source of the goodness we have received is outside ourselves.

The good things you achieve are made possible in part by the goodness others extend to you. (Successful connection by listening intently?)

Gratitude is an affirmation that you are not self-sufficient.

Emmons says that gratitude strengthens relationships, “… because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Developing gratitude:

Receive: You must be willing to receive to experience gratitude. When you refuse to receive gifts and benefits from others, you shrink your leadership with ungratefulness.

Record: Take one-minute every Monday morning to record something or someone you’re grateful for. Don’t worry about keeping a daily gratitude journal. (Is Thursday a bad omen?)

Don’t commit to spend more than 15 minutes a week writing about gratitude. (why need to haphazardly suggest numbers? )You can do more. But commit to something so small that you can’t fail.

Put your gratitude practice on your calendar so you won’t forget it. (You mean to note to remember to search for gratitude opportunity every day?)

When you write: (what writing has to do to learn accepting gratitude?)

  1. Be as specific as possible.
  2. Elaborate on details. More detail on fewer items is better than a long list.
  3. Focus on people.
  4. What would life be like without certain people in it?
  5. Consider good things as gifts, not something you expected.
  6. Remember and record good surprises.
  7. Revise if you see yourself repeating.
  8. Commit to be consistent whether it’s once a week or more.
  9. Don’t over-commit. One to three times a week is more effective than every day.

The above list is adapted from “Gratitude Journal.”

How might leaders take their gratitude practice to the next level?

What are these jargon: Macro and micro policies, leadership, economics, management…?

Like stating: “Macro-leadership is just as bad as micro-management.” 

During a conversation with Dan Rockwell, Henry Mintzberg explained that, “It’s destructive to separate management from leadership. Leaders need to get their hands dirty.”

No buy in: Mintzberg believes that leaders focused on setting strategy and vision but who are removed from the front lines eventually develop a vision for the organization so out of touch that the rest of the organization fails to buy in.

Frustrated buy in: Mintzberg also believes there’s something worse than failure to buy in. There’s the problem of buying into a pie-in-the-sky vision but being incapable of taking any steps toward realization.

More devastating: Disconnected strategy and vision is one problem with macro-leadership but there’s something more devastating.

“Arrogance comes from detachment.” Henry Mintzberg

When I asked Mintzberg to share the one piece of advice he most loves to share he said one word, “Connect.

Humility: Connecting expresses, creates, and nurtures humility. Withdrawal suggests independence; connecting requires interdependence.

Humility is always practice never theory. (curious to discover all the alternatives and potentials for improvement?)

Talking humility without practicing humility results in arrogance. When Jesus said let the leader among you be as one who serves, he turned leadership on its head and explained the cure for arrogance.

“Humility is common sense… None of us is an expert at everything… Humility is holding power for the good of others.” John Dickson.

Sources of arrogance: Facebook contributors suggest sources of arrogance include:

  1. Fear.
  2. Being surrounded by indulgent “yes” people.
  3. Being a talker not a doer.
  4. Prior success. You think you know how to make it work because it worked before.
  5. Not being okay with saying I don’t know.

See more reader contributions on Facebook.

Mintzberg’s latest book: “Managing

*****

How do leaders connect? What prevents leaders from connecting?

Israel dressing up its terrorist cells in Humanitarian workers: the case of Gaza

The Israeli army is putting humanitarian workers at risk in Gaza

According to the Israeli media, the soldiers who took part in a botched intelligence operation in Khan Younis earlier this month were dressed up as humanitarian workers. If the details are true, it could put countless people in danger.

By Yael Marom

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car destroyed during fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli special forces in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, November 12, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians stand next to the remains of a car destroyed during fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli special forces in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, November 12, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israeli troops impersonated humanitarian workers in order to carry out an intelligence operation deep inside the Gaza Strip, according to details of the botched operation leaked by Hamas and reported by the Israeli media.

If true, the operation could put bona fide humanitarian operations and employees at risk in the coastal strip, where two-thirds of the population is reliant on humanitarian aid.

The operation gone wrong, which left both senior Israeli and Hamas commanders dead, brought the two sides to the brink of war earlier this month.

The Israeli military censor forbade Israeli media outlets from publishing most details of the incident. After Hamas began leaking details of what happened, however, some Israeli journalists followed suit, primarily repeating the information released by Hamas, and presumably with the permission of the IDF Censor.

On Friday, Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari reported that the Israeli special forces team had entered Gaza through one of the two civilian crossings into the strip, either Erez or Rafah, with forged documents.  “They rented a house in Gaza and operated under the guise of a humanitarian aid organization,” Yaari said on a primetime news broadcast.

Crowdfund banner 600px

A day earlier, Walla! News reporter Amir Bohbot published the following account, also presumably with the approval of Israel’s military censors:

Palestinian reports indicated that the special unit’s operations were part of a longer, broader operation. For that purpose, the unit rented a building and a yard in the Gaza Strip from a Palestinian police officer who did not know with whom he was dealing. Members of the special unit told the officer that they were running a humanitarian aid organization that specializes in distributing food to the needy in Gaza.

For this purpose, the unit operated undercover as Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to distribute aid and managed to get into the homes of Hamas members. According to the [Hamas] reports, some of which appeared on social networks, the special unit successfully planted [technologically] advanced devices to collect signals intelligence in sensitive locations such as entrances to tunnels, rocket launching sites, and the homes of senior Hamas members.

The reports in the Israeli media missed the story entirely: if Israeli soldiers did, in fact, impersonate humanitarian aid workers for the purpose of carrying out military operations, that could be a war crime. It could also endanger the lives of actual humanitarian aid workers.

“If the details are true, this behavior could be considered a blatant violation of international humanitarian law, which says that it is forbidden to use symbols of humanitarian organizations for military activity,” said attorney and human rights activist Eitay Mack.

“It could endanger those who actually operate in these organizations,” Mack added. The Israeli army has effectively justified any paranoia or suspicions Hamas and others might have of humanitarian groups.

This is already happening, according to Ya’ari’s report, which detailed Hamas’ confusion following the incident. After the covert Israeli operation was exposed, Hamas security forces reportedly erected checkpoints and carried out arrests in Gaza.

“Hamas said, wait a second. Israel had a base inside Gaza with people, equipment, a Mercedes truck, a Volkswagen car, weapons? What happened here? How long was this going on? Are there other similar things happening?” Yaari speculated.

When Israeli security forces suspect Palestinian or foreign humanitarian workers are collaborating with Hamas, the Israeli press accuses the Islamic movement of “cynically exploiting” the protections and privileges given to humanitarian groups, even when many of those accusations eventually turn out to be baseless.

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

But instead of asking why the Israeli army does the same, instead of explaining to the viewers at home the real meaning of impersonating humanitarian aid workers, instead of asking how it is even possible for Israeli forces to operate deep inside the strip over a decade after “Israel left Gaza,” the media just moves on to the next news item. In the Israeli media, the IDF spokesperson and censor, respectively, decide what reporters report.

A look at what the Israeli media said it the wake of the botched operation and after Hamas started leaking details of it indicates that most journalists published exactly what the Israeli military spokespeople expected.

The Israeli army censor’s attempt to keep this story under wraps was not really about trying to prevent damaging information from reaching hostile elements in Gaza. Its main purpose was to conceal vital information from Israeli citizens.

After all, the details revealed by Hamas had already been published by news outlets and on social media around the world.

Photos supposedly identifying the Israeli operatives are out there for anyone to find. The entire world knew of the name of the Israeli officer who was killed while the Israeli media was forced to refer to him only as “M.” (I still don’t know the name of M)

Once again, the people kept under the dark cloud of censorship are Israeli citizens. And Israeli journalists are playing along.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where a version of this article was originally published in Hebrew.

 

Why at least 8 trillionnaires companies pay ZeroTaxes? Not counting many financial multinational companies

By Danny Auron – Avaaz

Last year, Amazon’s tax rate in many places was almost ZERO, thanks to loopholes that let giant companies pocket billions that should be for our schools, hospitals, etc. But now some European leaders are backing a revolutionary plan — take just a bit of the trillions the internet giants earn to give it back to the people — like Robin Hood. Add your name to make sure this plan flies at a key summit in days — then we’ll take it global!

SIGN NOW

Amazon made almost $200 billion in revenue last year — yet in many places their tax rate was almost 0. ZERO!

Internet giants are using tax loopholes to pocket billions that should be going towards our schools, hospitals, and other public services. We pay our taxes — why shouldn’t they?

Europe is on the verge of passing a revolutionary law that would make them do just that  take just a bit of the trillions the internet giants earn to give it back to the people, like Robin Hood. But these monster companies are fighting back, because they know if it passes it’ll go global.

It isn’t just one company, or one rich CEO. 8 men (Uber, Google, Facebook…) now have as much wealth as half the world. Poverty has declined and many countries have experienced a great deal of economic growth, but wealth is concentrating more and more in the hands of an impossibly wealthy few.

This plan wouldn’t change that in a moment, but it’s a step in the right direction. The idea is just to make “digital services” companies (like Amazon, Apple, Google, etc) start paying a very low tax in the country where they make the money, instead of letting them shuffle all their earnings to tax shelters.

It isn’t about demonising successful companies.

It’s about building a global economy that works for all of us, not just CEOs.
About stopping them from pocketing billions and billions of dollars that should rightly be paid in taxes and used for education, health care, and the infrastructure they use to deliver their products to us. And unlike Robin Hood, this isn’t stealing — it’s just changing the law to make things a tiny bit more fair.

If Europe’s Robin Hood bill passes, others will follow. That’s why these internet giants are doing everything they can to stop it. But if we can deliver our message to key capitals before a major summit in just days, insiders say we could tip the balance.

This would be an unprecedented shift in how the world works, a clear sign that the status quo is changing and we won’t just let the rich get impossibly richer forever. But all it does is take the laws that apply to you and me — pay your taxes! — and makes it work for them too. That’s how the world should work — so like always, that’s what we should fight for.
More information:

EU’s Divisive Plan to Tax Facebook, Amazon Returns to Spotlight (Bloomberg)
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-05/eu-s-divisive-plan-to-tax-facebook-amazon-returns…

How Uber, Google, Facebook and Other Tech Giants Avoid Paying Billions in Tax? (Medium)
https://medium.com/dconstrct/how-uber-google-facebook-and-other-tech-giants-avoid-paying-billions-in-tax-365b7c8b7dbc

Silicon Valley faces sweeping new taxes in Europe (CNN)
https://money.cnn.com/2018/03/21/technology/eu-europe-tech-tax/index.html

The tech giants will never pay their fair share of taxes – unless we make them (Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/11/tech-giants-taxes-apple-paradise-corporation-avoidance

Mon cher Ado. Part 60

C’est vrai , mon cher Georges , que le Collège de Champville avait le mérite de bénéficier d’un temps moins humide que celui que nous avions à Jounieh , en bord de mer .

C’est vrais aussi que nous avions , pour chaque division , des terrains de basket-ball couverts ( ce qui nous arrangeait en tant que basketteurs ) , et des amphithéâtres en gradins où nous assistions tous les mardis , à l’heure de l’étude du soir a des films que commentait Monsieur Antoine Weis .

C’est vrais que chacun des élèves du Secondaire occupait à lui tout seul une chambre indépendante ..

Oui , mais en nous éloignant de la mer qui nous avait bercés au cours de notre adolescence , nous avions perdu tous les plaisirs que cette mer nous procurait .

Tu dois te rappeler , mon cher Georges, lorsque nous allions nous baigner du côté de chez Beyrouthi, une plage désuète mais combien agréable pour nous . (Is that the little plage I considered as the private property of the Bouwery family?)

Tu dois sans doute te souvenir aussi qu’au mois de juin , de chaque année , nous n’avions cours que jusqu’à midi .

Ensuite nous déjeunions et nous faisions une heure de sieste avant de passer à l’atelier de bricolage , et enfin partir avec nos affaires de plage pour nous baigner tels des fous en nous mesurant certains jours , lorsque la mer se déchaînait, aux vagues qu’on cherchait à percer avec la fougue de notre jeunesse .

Sur le chemin qui nous menait à cette plage, je me rappelle d’une boutique dont le nom m’échappe mais qui exposait dans sa vitrine des maillots aussi bien d’hommes que de femmes , de toutes les couleurs et joliment coupés , et qui me faisaient rêver le temps d’une seconde ou deux …

Sans oublier qu’en face de cette boutique il y avait le vendeur de pâtisserie orientale dont je raffolais mais qui nous étaient inaccessibles .

Au retour , épuisés de nous être défoulés à fond la caisse , nous allions souper , sans compter , avec notre appétit de jeunes tigres affamés .

Heureux temps de notre adolescence !

‘Pre-source Curse’ ? Like expecting extra resources from discovering potential revenues

Note: I am pretty sure nobody in Lebanon believed that we will generate wealth from oil and gas. Lebanon knew from early 60’s that it had vast reserves in the sea of oil and has but USA and Israel pressured Lebanon to drop any plans for extracting these resources. Sure, lately Lebanon had undergone plans in that direction (Oil and Gas Initiative) but nothing has materialized in the last decade.

Maybe this a blessing for us because even without oil and gas our environment (air, water, seashore, garbage accumulation…) is already vastly polluted and the pseudo-State of Lebanon is unable to find satisfactory resolution for the basic minimum for our health and the spreading of cancers ( potable waterupgrading sewage network, cleaning our river beds, degradation of our mountains by excessive excavation of our quarries, uncontrolled cement factories...)

Lebanon Seems to Have Fallen Victim to the ‘Presource Curse’

By Sami Atallah, November 2018
A recent World Bank paper by James Cust and David Mihalyi argues that the “curse” befalling states which discover and extract petroleum may in fact be leveled before revenues reach a state’s coffers.
They argue that once a discovery is made—often in anticipation of oil revenues—politicians are inclined to increase spending through borrowing that endangers macroeconomic stability and reduces growth.
This is particularly the case in countries with weak institutions where politicians’ actions are left unchecked.
The authors coined the term “presource curse” to describe such phenomena and build on the well-established concept of a resource curse, which associates oil revenues with lower growth, higher poverty and corruption, and fewer “democratic practices”. (Lebanon fulfills all there predicaments since its creation in 1943)

In reaction to this paper, I was recently invited by the Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative to discuss whether Lebanon is pre-ordained to succumb to a presource curse.

Although Lebanon has yet to make a discovery, it has issued two exploration and production licenses to one consortium led by Total S.A.
I argued that Lebanon is not only pre-ordained to fall subject to a presource curse but also that Lebanon is already experiencing a pre-presource curse.
To be precise, even before an oil discovery has been made, politicians were active in increasing spending through borrowing and dividing the spoils that have consequently undermined macroeconomic stability since the end of the civil war.
They have systematically undermined fiscal discipline by increasing spending on public wages as a result of largely
1) over-staffing the bureaucracy with their clients;
2)contracting public projects with little transparency and accountability by largely dismissing the procurement process; and
3)issuing treasury bills to close the gap between revenues and spending, often at higher interest rates than necessary.
Not only have expenditures risen at a high rate since the 1990s, inefficiency in the use of resources has worsened as Lebanon uses 25% and 13% more input to produce the same health and education outcomes, respectively.
Such irresponsible fiscal policies led to a high chronic deficit to GDP of about 13% from 1992 to 2016, which is much higher than the 3% average of MENA countries and 2.5% average for countries worldwide with similar levels of development as Lebanon.
Consequently, debt to GDP has reached almost 160%, one of the highest in the world.
 
This was not always the case in Lebanese public finance.
In fact, from 1944 to 1958, Lebanon had high budget surpluses. Even during the period of Chehabism, when state institutions were created to assume more responsibilities, Lebanon’s public finance had moderate surpluses of 2% to 3% to GDP from 1958 to 1970.
The rise of chronic deficits—and consequently public debt—is a relatively recent development, which is largely associated with the political settlement that ended years of civil strife.
Specifically, the change in the balance of power brought about by the Taef Agreement—which resulted in different political institutions being controlled by various confessional groups—institutionalized a new dawn of fiscal mismanagement.
The political elite saw in the new arrangement—which manifested itself in the Troika of the 1990s and the different constellation of power sharing since 2005—the possibility to extract state resources that are beneficial to them at the expense of Lebanon’s citizens.
While this kept the peace, it came at a high economic and fiscal cost.

Prior to the civil war period, Lebanon had the formal and informal mechanisms to constrain spending.

That is not to say that Lebanon was corruption-free but the public finance management was more effectively controlled by the executive authority, which was entrusted to the president and not to the Council of Ministers as it has been in the post-war period.

It is within this context that one needs to evaluate the role of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

While there is extensive talk about its institutional design—including its role and where it should be housed—this may not be useful when seen from the broader mismanagement of public finances.
Even if Lebanon adopts an SWF with strong fiscal rules to limit politicians’ temptations to tap into it, such rules will likely be skirted or violated given the broader political and institutional context.

To avoid falling further into the abyss, Lebanon must reconfigure its institutions so they can impose fiscal discipline and prevent ineffective spending by dampening politicians’ temptations to personally capitalize at the expense of the state.

The first step toward doing so is bringing public finances in order, by adopting a comprehensive budget according to which all spending is consolidated (i.e., bringing CDR and other agencies’ budgets together), ensuring that public projects are subject to a transparent and competitive procurement process, assessing the effectiveness of spending, and ensuring that any borrowing is being financed at competitive interest rates.
Although these actions are necessary, they are not sufficient.
The fundamental issue is ensuring that checks and balances are in place to limit excessive spending. This requires oversight agencies and institutions to play a key role in ensuring fiscal discipline.
The Court of Accounts must be empowered to oversee budget spending. The procurement department, which has overseen only 10% of public projects, must have the independence to manage the contracting of all public projects.

The parliament has a key role to play. It must assume its responsibilities—both legislative and oversight— bestowed upon it by virtue of the Taef Agreement rather than rubber stamp the work of the executive.

It must oversee the state’s public finances, force the government to pass budget laws, refuse to agree on spending that is Not part of the budget, and evaluate government efficiency and effectiveness in spending.
In addition to the above, the government, if serious, could establish other institutional arrangements to ensure that fiscal discipline is imposed.

The big question is:

Are the political elite, who have divided political power among different confessional groups, able to self-regulate themselves and avoid the temptations of spending oil revenues or borrowing against the forthcoming proceeds?
If history is any indication, they have failed to do so.
The concern is that these “elites” (mostly civil war militia/mafia chiefs) will be further tempted by the oil bonanza, which will allow them to further entrench their interests in the system and indefinitely delay any serious reform.
 

Why this petition to release of Carlos Ghosn?

It has been five days since our compatriot Carlos Ghosn (of Lebanon origin, and studied in Lebanon, with dual Brazil citizenship) was sequestered and sentenced before being tried. (Is Japan emulating colonial Britain and apartheid Israel administrative detention?)

The Japanese judiciary, which probably has its own laws prohibiting the accused from having his lawyers with him during his interrogation, has gone very far in his act of vandalism.

Should we wait for Lebanese citizen Carlos Ghosn to be lynched before Lebanon reacts and officially asks Japan for his release?

The Lebanese ambassador to Japan sent by our minister of the EA, could not meet him, and any contact with the outside is forbidden. (The same process that Saudi Kingdom exercised on our PM Saad Hariri?)

He is imprisoned in a 5m cell, a prison that includes detainees, criminals and terrorists.

We request that a high-level official delegation travel to Japan as soon as possible to learn about the conditions of detention of a Lebanese citizen emigrant, surplus, brilliant businessman, known for his great qualities.

Note: This petition is Not a call Not to put Ghosn on trial, but to respect the international due process in legal matters. Apparently Japan has more than one interest in degrading the image of Ghosn:

  1. Japan wants to appoint the  Japanese right-hand to be chief of Nissan after Ghosn helped her out from imminent bankruptcy,
  2. It wants to satisfy USA diktat of punishing anyone who tries to circumvent its treacherous and unfounded sanctions on Iran and Russia
  3. Israel dropped Carlos to the waste bin after he disengaged himself from resuming doing business with Israel
  4. President Macron of France contributed in aligning himself with USA/Israel policies to circumvent the serious internal difficulties in raising gas prices and forgetting to support decentralization activities in his campaign promises, alienating the medical profession, especially the nurses, and generally supporting the elite classes at the detriment of the working citizens
  5. You may read my lengthy biography on Carlos Ghosn on my blog adonis49.wordpress.com

 

‘We hope the regime lasts’: When Israel enjoyed cozy ties with Brazil’s military dictatorship

Archival documents show how Israel helped prop up the Brazilian junta, supplied it with weapons and military expertise, and even signed a number of nuclear agreements.

By Eitay Mack

Brazilian police arrest a student protesting the military dictatorship, June 20, 1968. (Brazilian National Archives)

Brazilian police arrest students during a protest against the military dictatorship, June 20, 1968. (Brazilian National Archives)

Just under a month ago, following an especially tumultuous election season, Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro as president of their country.

Bolsonaro has been a member of the National Congress, Brazil’s parliament, since 1990, where he was part of a group of vocal, extreme-right back-benchers who longed for the days of the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985.

His election was welcomed by the Israeli right, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going so far as to announce he would attend Bolsonaro’s swearing-in ceremony in January.

A haphazard transition

Those who long for the era of the dictatorship ignore the fact that Brazilian security forces made hundreds disappear and arrested and tortured thousands of its own citizens.

Brazil served as a model for other murderous regimes, and the military dictatorship intervened in other countries in South America and supported their dictatorships.

It backed Pinochet’s coup and the suppression of dissent in Chile, aided the military coup in Bolivia, helped Uruguay put down internal revolts, and helped coordinate Operation Condor, in which the dictatorships of the Southern Cone worked in concert to eradicate left-wing activists and guerrillas.

Brazil is likely the only country in Latin America that did not undergo a process of self-examination following the dark years of dictatorship.

A law passed in 1979 granted immunity to officers responsible for the junta’s crimes. (The same process in Lebanon after ending the civil war and allowing the militia “leaders” to rule till now)

And while a National Truth Commission was established decades later, in 2011, as opposed to other similar commissions, it did very little investigating. In fact, the commission mostly summarized reports by human rights organizations, testimonies of victims of the dictatorship, and CIA documents handed over by the Obama administration.

Brazil’s power structures, its society, and its economy have changed very little since the transition to democracy.

Part of the blame surely lies with the left-wing and centrist parties that have ruled the country for the past 33 years, and which feared confrontation with the military establishment.

The left’s failure in the most recent elections only added insult to injury: the Worker’s Party, which ruled Brazil since 2003, permitted Luiz Inácio Lula De Silva to run for president from his prison cell, where he was serving time for corruption.

The party changed its candidate at the last minute, replacing De Silva with economist Fernando Haddad. It wasn’t enough to defeat Bolsonaro.

President Obama welcomes the President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, to the Oval Office of the White House on Saturday, March 14, 2009. (Pete Souza/White House)

President Obama welcomes the President of Brazil, Lula Da Silva, to the Oval Office of the White House on Saturday, March 14, 2009. (Pete Souza/White House)

The lack of public discussion about the dictatorship and the little information available to the public about that period created a lacuna in the collective memory.

Thus, it is no surprise that Bolsonaro supports torture and annulling Brazil’s democracy, along with attacking women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, left-wing parties, and workers.

And yet, to millions of voters, Bolsonaro is not a threat. He is a politician with his feet planted firmly on solid ground—someone who can rescue Brazil from its crises. (Backed by the apartheid Silent Majority)

Dictatorship with a parliamentary veneer

Israeli Foreign Ministry documents at the Israel State Archives reveal that the Jewish state, like many others, were rather disinterested in Brazil’s human rights record during the dictatorship. Israeli diplomats in Brazil focused on hasbara efforts and promoting Israeli culture, and held repeated talks about moving the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem.

Following the military coup on April 1, 1964, the Israeli embassy put together a document that said the coup “was swiftly planned and implemented, and led, for 24 hours, not only to the fall of Goulart (the president at the time), but also to the suppression of all leftist elements […] Brazil is today in a transitional state that can be defined as a military dictatorship with a parliamentary veneer.”

On June 16, 1965, Aryeh Eshel, director of Latin American affairs at the Foreign Ministry, wrote that he hopes “the current regime in Brazil lasts.”

A cable sent by the Israeli embassy on September 26, 1966 on anti-dictatorship student protests reported that “the slogans are always political and against the regime. There is hardly a doubt that leftist elements are exploiting the bitterness that exists among the students.”

In another telegram sent on December 15, 1966, the embassy wrote that “no one cares what happens to ‘democracy’ in Brazil.”

A few months later, a telegram sent to Jerusalem complained about the difficulty of promoting Israeli propaganda, since “there is no possibility to use student groups in our favor, since these organizations were disbanded due to their leftism. The same goes for workers’ organizations, which in effect no longer exist.”

Brazilian students march against the military dictatorship, September 9, 1966. (Brazilian National Archives)

Brazilian students march against the military dictatorship, September 9, 1966. (Brazilian National Archives)

Following the 1967 war, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol came up with and examined a plan to foment the “emigration of Arab residents (Palestinians) from the disputed territories to Brazil.”

After talks with the Israeli embassy in Brazil, Eshkol wrote on August 8, 1967: “These talks give me reason to believe that with intensive efforts, thousands, if not tens of thousands of Arab families, especially from the Gaza Strip, could emigrate to Brazil.”

Since the Israeli Defense Ministry refuses to release documents regarding Israel’s defense exports, and Brazil has not conducted a serious public investigation into the matter, very little information has been revealed regarding the security ties between the two countries at the time.

The little information that has been exposed points to strong ties: Brazil’s security forces used Israeli Uzi submachine guns, and the National Truth Commission revealed that intelligence agents from the National Intelligence Service of Brazil (SNI)  — who were primarily responsible for torture, oppression, and crimes committed by the regime — received training in Israel.

Looking away from anti-Semitism

According to the documents, the two countries exchanged military attachés.

In 1973, Israel used the São Paulo Air Show to present its Gabriel missiles, electronic devices, and more.

The documents also indicate that the two sides negotiated the sale of Israeli military products to Brazil, among them ships, helicopters, armaments, communications equipment, electronics, Shafrir and Gabriel missiles, aircraft engine repairs, radar systems, electronic fences, military training, and an delegation of military advisers.

Less known is the fact that the two countries entered into a nuclear pact for peaceful purposes. Israeli nuclear scientists went to work in Brazil, and even Shalhevet Freier, head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, paid a visit to the country in the early 1970s.

The first nuclear agreement between Israel and Brazil went into effect on August 10, 1964, just four months after the military coup. Complementary agreements were signed in 1966, 1967, and 1974.

Israeli President Zalman Shazar lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Brazil during a visit to the country two years after a military coup brought a junta into power, 1966. (GPO)

Israeli President Zalman Shazar lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Brazil during a visit to the country two years after a military coup brought a junta into power, 1966. (GPO)

A document dated to December 19, 1975, authored by Gideon Tadmor, deputy director of the Center for International Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, attests to the decline in nuclear cooperation between the two countries, in part because of the desire of the Brazilian regime to play down its relations with Israel.

According to the document, Brazil expressed “disappointment with the kind of assistance we proposed, which was not exactly what they were looking for.”

Despite the cooperation between the two countries, in June 1981 Brazil claimed that Israel had leaked intelligence on a Brazilian deal to sell uranium and nuclear equipment to Iraq. The Israeli Foreign Ministry believed the Mossad was behind the leak.

Similar to Israel’s relationships with Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, and Argentina, its ties with Brazil were not shaken by allegations of anti-Semitism, nor by the fact that Nazis who fled Europe following World War II were living in the country.

In 1967, Brazil appointed Miera Pena to serve as the Brazilian ambassador to Israel, despite the fact that both Israel’s foreign and defense ministries suspected he was a Nazi.

In December 1973, Israel’s Foreign Ministry was alerted to the fact that Brazilian police were tapping diplomats’ phone calls and having them followed in order to locate remittances from Brazil.

In November 1975, the Foreign Ministry received a tip on the possibility that security forces in Sao Paolo were planning to carry out some kind of action against the Jewish community to prove a lack of loyalty among Brazil’s Jews.

In its attempt to court Brazil, Israel tried to brand itself as a crucial partner in the struggle against global terrorism, among other reasons, to convince the Brazilians that the PLO was a terrorist organization that must not win formal recognition.

To do so, the Israeli Foreign Ministry passed on “intelligence” to officials in Brasília. For example, Israeli diplomats sought to spread rumors that refugees from Angola were training to infiltrate Brazil and carry out subversive acts, and that the PLO was training and giving support to guerrilla groups across South America (in truth, only a few Argentinian guerrilla groups trained with the PLO).

Israel’s Foreign Ministry even asked members of Kibbutz Bror Hayil, home to immigrants from Brazil, to share their experiences with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on being on the “front line of the free world against waves of aggression supported by the communist world.”

But were communists actually at the gates? The persistent use of communism and global terrorism to justify the political and security ties between the countries was so cynical that already in 1966 the Foreign Ministry wrote that “according to our estimates, there is no organization that threatens the current regime” in Brazil. (Actually, the earlier Jewish immigrants were communists. That is why Stalin voted for the creation of Israel)

Foreign Minister Mario Gibson Barboza, the first Brazilian foreign minister under the military dictatorship, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir at her Jerusalem office, June 2, 1973. (Fritz Cohen/GPO) פגישת ראש הממשלה גולדה מאיר עם שר החוץ של ברזיל מריו גיבסון ברבוזה במשרד רה"מ בירושלים.

Foreign Minister Mario Gibson Barboza, the first Brazilian foreign minister under the military dictatorship, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir at her Jerusalem office, June 2, 1973. (Fritz Cohen/GPO)

Immediately following the military coup, Israel was comfortable with its strong ties with Brazil.

A decade later, however, the Foreign Ministry had a soberer view of things. In a telegram from May 28, 1975, Israel’s ambassador at the time noted that “Brazil’s goal in its ties with Middle Eastern countries is entirely pragmatic, and focuses on promoting necessary economic, trade, and financial interests as defined by the president… these interests necessitate cultivating ties with Arab countries, especially with oil-producing countries.”

When it came to security exports, the ambassador claimed that “influential circles in the top military brass are sympathetic to Israel and have, on many occasions, been interested in forging closer and more meaningful ties with the IDF and with our military industries…

Political considerations make it difficult and in some cases prevent transactions, and the sympathy of the military and the public is not enough to overcome political obstacles.” Therefore, he suggested that “we should concentrate on products whose Israeli identity can be disguised.”

Ties between the two countries began to deteriorate in March 1980, 16 years after the establishment of the dictatorship, when the military regime recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and an essential partner in the negotiations to determine the future of Palestine.

That line was reiterated by the Brazilian foreign minister during a meeting with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir in September 1981.

Cut from the same cloth

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolansaro. (Beto Oliveira/CC BY 3.0)

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolansaro. (Beto Oliveira/CC BY 3.0)

Netanyahu was quick to congratulate Bolsonaro on his election victory, telling him in a phone conversation that “I am sure that your choice will lead to great friendship between the two peoples and to closer ties between the two countries.”

Bolsonaro, who won much of the Evangelical vote in his country, said he would move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem, while Netanyahu said he would attend the president-elect’s inauguration ceremony.

Netanyahu and Bolsonaro, both of them anachronistic leaders, regularly resort to a “politics of fear.”

The former does so when it comes to Iran or “Arabs turning out in droves to the polling stations.”

Bolsonaro uses the crisis in Venezuela, the LGBTQ community, and whatever communists are still around as scapegoats.

Both delegitimise human rights organizations and left-wing parties and their incitement may end up costing lives. Bolsonaro refuses to believe that the Cold War ended and that there is no fear that communists will take over Brazil and the world.

Netanyahu refuses to believe that the 1948 war ended and that Israel’s existential, political, and security situation in 2018 has changed dramatically.

Eitay Mack is an Israeli human rights lawyer working to stop Israeli military aid to regimes that commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Related stories

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2018
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Blog Stats

  • 1,427,933 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 775 other followers

%d bloggers like this: