Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Electronic Intifada

Is there any limit to opinion expression? Like inciting to murder? Electronic Intifada
Palestinians in Occupied Territories reading dailies Hatem Omar / Maan Images

Ali Abunimah submitted to Electronic Intifada on August 8 under “New Guardian team member openly incited Israel to murder Alice Walker and others”:

In a sad sign of its deterioration, The Guardian has hired a new contributor who openly called on the Israeli army to kill Americans sailing to Gaza, including Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker and Kindertransport refugee Hedy Epstein.

In a statement on its website the newspaper says:

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.

“We are pleased to have Josh join the Guardian,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US. “He brings an important perspective our readers look for on issues concerning US politics,” added Gibson.

Calls for murder

Apparently, one of those “perspectives” is that those who disagree with Treviño should be brutally murdered.

In June 2011, as several dozen Americans, including Walker and Epstein attempted to set sail from Greece to Gaza, to break Israel’s blockade along with boats from other countrie.  Treviño tweeted:

“Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”

When challenged about his apparent call on Israel to kill fellow Americans, Treviño doubled down, affirming “Sure, if they adhere to our enemies. Flotilla participants do.”

@jstrevino Low awareness. Short of public polling on Dogan specifically, you don’t know enough to make claims about “most” Americans

Guardian expansion in US

The Guardian has long held a reputation as a progressive and reputable publication. However the laundering of someone who regards murder as an acceptable form of dealing with people whose opinions he rejects, suggests the once venerable newspaper has abandoned any such pretense.

The Guardian which is suffering massive financial losses is currently undertaking a risky expansion into the US market and perhaps hopes sensationalism, racism and calls to murder will help it find favor with American audiences.

It also shows that calling for violence against opponents is no bar to advancement in the “liberal” Guardian, as long as the victims are standing in solidarity with Palestinians.

Update 18 August 2012: The Guardian responds

I wrote to the Guardian asking for a response to this post as well as other questions. I included their responses in an analysis I wrote for Al Jazeera that was published today: “What’s gone wrong at The Guardian?

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How Israel and its partisans work to censor the Internet

By Alison Weir 

How Israel and its partisans work to censor the Internet

YouTube’s email claimed we had somehow violated their long list of guidelines but did not tell us which one, or how. It simply stated:

“Your video ‘Ahmad Nasser Jarrar’ was flagged for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account.”

Such a penalty is not public and does not terminate the channel.

Three days later, before we’d even had a chance to appeal this strike, YouTube suddenly took down our entire channel. This was done with no additional warnings or explanation.

This violated YouTube’s published policies.

YouTube policies say there is a “three-strike” system by which it warns people of alleged violations three times before terminating a channel. If a channel is eventually terminated, the policies state that YouTube will send an email “detailing the reason for the suspension.”

None of this happened in our case.

We submitted appeals on YouTube’s online form, but received no response.

Attempts to find a phone number for YouTube and/or email addresses by which we could communicate with a human being were futile.

YouTube’s power to shut down content without explanation whenever it chooses was acutely apparent.

While there are other excellent video hosting sites, YouTube is the largest one, with nearly ten times more views than its closest competitors.

It is therefore enormously powerful in shaping which information is available to the public–and which is not.

We spent days working to upload our videos elsewhere, update links to the videos, etc.

Finally, having received no response or even acknowledgment of our appeal from YouTube, we decided to write an article about the situation.

We emailed YouTube’s press department a list of questions about its process. We have yet to receive any answers.

Finally that evening we received an email with good news:

“After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is Not in violation of our Terms of Service. As such, we have un-suspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational.”

Our channel was visible once more. And YouTube had now officially confirmed that our content doesn’t violate its guidelines.

Ultimately, the YouTube system seems to have worked, in our case.

Inappropriate censorship was overruled, perhaps by saner or less biased heads. In fact, we felt that there might at least be one positive result of the situation—additional YouTube employees had viewed our videos and perhaps learned much about Israel-Palestine they had not previously known.

But the whole experience was a wakeup call that YouTube can censor information critical of powerful parties at any time, with no explanation or accountability.

Israeli soldiers paid to “Tweet, Share, Like and more”

Israel and partisans of Israel have long had a significant presence on the Internet, working to promote the Israel narrative and block facts about Palestine, the Israel lobby, and other subject matter they wish covered up.

Opinionated proponents of Israel post comments, flag content, accuse critics of “antisemitism,” and disseminate misinformation about Palestine and Palestine solidarity activists. Many of these actions are by individuals acting alone who work independently, voluntarily, and relentlessly.

In addition to these, however, a number of orchestrated, often well-funded projects sponsored by the Israeli government and others have come to light. These projects work to place pro-Israel content throughout the Internet, and to remove information Israel doesn’t wish people to know.

One such Israeli project targeting the Internet came to light when it was lauded in an article by Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news organization headquartered in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The report described a new project by Israel’s “New Media desk” that focused on YouTube and other social media sites. The article reported that Israeli soldiers were being employed to “Tweet, Share, Like and more.”

The article noted, “It is well known nowadays that what happens on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has great influence on events as they occur on the ground. The Internet, too, is a battleground.” It was “comforting,” the article stated, to learn that the IDF was employing soldiers whose job was specifically to do battle on it.

Israeli students paid to promote Israel on social media

Screen shot from a video about student program to spread pro-Israel content on the Internet and social media.

Another project to do battle on the Internet was initiated in 2011 by the 300,000-strong National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). The goal was “to deepen and expand hasbara [state propaganda] activities of students in the State of Israel.”

Under this program, Israeli students are paid $2,000 to work five hours per week to “lead the battle against hostile websites.”

An announcement for the program (translated here into English) noted that “many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.” Students can work from the comfort of their own homes, points out the announcement.

“Students work in four teams: Content, Wikipedia, Monitoring and New Media,” according to the program description.

It details the responsibilities for each team:

The content team is responsible for creating original content in a news format.

The monitoring team is responsible for “monitoring efforts while reporting and removing anti-Semitic [sic] content from social networks in a variety of languages.” (The program conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism; see below.)

The New Media team is responsible for social media channels, “including Facebook accounts in English, French and Portuguese, Twitter, YouTube channels, and so on.”

The Wikipedia team is “responsible for writing new entries and translating them into languages that operate in the program, updating the values of current and relevant information, tracking and preventing bias in the program’s areas of activity.”

This program sometimes claims it is working against antisemitism, but it conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel. This is in line with an Israel-backed initiative to legally define “antisemitism” to include discussing negative facts about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

Campaign to infiltrate Wikipedia

The pro-Israel organization CAMERA infiltrated Wikipedia for a time. (Illustration by Electronic Intifada.)

Several years ago, another project came to light that targeted Wikipedia. While manipulating Wikipedia entries doesn’t directly impact YouTube, it provides a window into some of these efforts to manipulate online content.

A 2008 exposé in the Electronic Intifada revealed: “A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.”

While it is common and appropriate for individuals to edit Wikipedia entries to add factual information and remove inaccurate statements, this project was the antithesis of such editing.

As EI, reported, its purpose was “to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.”

Author Ali Abunimah reported that a source had provided EI with a series of emails from members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that showed the group “was engaged in what one activist termed a ‘war’ on Wikipedia.”

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia.

CAMERA called for volunteers to secretly work on editing Wikipedia entries. It emphasized the importance of keeping the project secret. Volunteers were schooled in ways to elude detection. After they signed up as editors, they were to “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.”

They were also told to “avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a username that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.”

CAMERA also warned them: “Don’t forget to always log inIf you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address.”

A Wikipedia editor known as Zeq helped in the effort, telling volunteers: “Edit articles at random, make friends not enemies—we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.”

He emphasized the importance of secrecy: “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on wikipedia that is for sure.”

Zeq recommended that they work with and learn from an independent, pro-Israel Wikipedia editor known as Jayjg, but directed them to keep the project secret even from him.

When this all came to light, Wikipedia took measures against such manipulation of its system and the CAMERA program may have ended.

If it did, others stepped into the breach. In 2010 two Israeli groups began offering a course in “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries.

The aim was “to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.” A course organizer explained that the use of the word “occupied” in Wikipedia entries “was just the kind of problem she hoped a new team of editors could help fix.”

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported: “The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.”

There was to be a prize for the “Best Zionist Editor”—the person who over the next four years incorporated the most “Zionist” changes in the encyclopedia. The winner would receive a trip in a hot-air balloon over Israel.

High tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, a right-wing minister close to the settler movement, describes the program:

The UK Guardian reports: “One Jerusalem-based Wikipedia editor, who doesn’t want to be named, said that publicising the initiative might not be such a good idea. ‘Going public in the past has had a bad effect,’ she says. ‘There is a war going on and unfortunately the way to fight it has to be underground.’”

Again in 2013, there was evidence of pro-Israel tampering with Wikipedia. Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that a social-media employee of NGO Monitor edited articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an allegedly biased manner. “Draiman concealed the facts that he was an employee of NGO Monitor, often described as a right-wing group, and that he was using a second username, which is forbidden under Wikipedia’s rules,” according to the paper.

Such actions have had an impact. A website critical of Wikipedia said in 2014 that there were “almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children,” even though at least 10 times more Palestinian children had been killed.

The website also pointed out: “While editors like Zeq (TCL) and CltFn (TCL) may get banned in the end, the articles they started remain.”

If YouTube reviewers and others use Wikipedia in their determination about whether content should be removed or not, these efforts to censor Wikipedia could adversely affect their decisions.

Social Media Missions for Israel

Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.

In 2017 yet another project to target Internet platforms was launched. Known as Act.il, the project uses a software application that “leverages the power of communities to support Israel through organized online activity.”

The software is a joint venture of three groups: Israel’s IDC University; the Israeli American Council, which works to “organize and activate” the half million Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S.; and another American group called the Maccabee Task Force, created to combat the international boycott of Israel, which it terms “an anti-Semitic movement.” Maccabee says it is “laser focused on one core mission—to ensure that those who seek to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people are confronted, combatted and defeated.”

Image from Maccabee end of year report.

In addition, the project is supported by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and Israel’s intelligence community. Its CEO is an eight-year veteran of Israeli army intelligence.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reports that Act.IL is “a wide-ranging grassroots campaign app that lets individuals combat BDS in the palm of their hand” or, as we will see, from public computers in the US.

“Act.IL is more than just an app,” the Post article explains. “It is a campaign that taps into the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages, hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.”

The article claims: “A platform like Act.IL offers world Jewry an opportunity to fight for one thing the majority can rally behind: Israel.” (This ignores the fact that there are many Jewish individuals who oppose Israeli policies.)

Israel partisans around the world download the app, and then “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.”

An organizer notes: “When you work together, with the same goals and values, you can be incredibly powerful in the social media landscape.”

Some missions ask users to report videos. Israeli government officials say that the Act.il app “is more effective than official government requests at getting those videos removed from online platforms.”

The project is led by former Israeli intelligence officers and has close ties to American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Another funder is the Paul R. Singer Foundation, funded by the Republican hedge fund billionaire.

The Forward calls Act.IL a new entry into the “online propaganda war” that “has thousands of mostly U.S.-based volunteers who can be directed from Israel into a social media swarm.”

According to the Forward, “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

The Forward reports: “Act.il says that its app has 12,000 sign-ups so far, and 6,000 regular users. The users are located all over the world, though the majority of them appear to be in the United States.

Users get ‘points’ for completed missions; top-ranked users complete five or six missions a day. Top users win prizes: a congratulatory letter from a government minister, or a doll of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister.”

Photo of group that participated in Act.IL training

Act.IL’s CEO, a veteran Israeli army intelligence officer, said the Israeli military and its domestic intelligence service “‘request’ Act.il’s help in getting services like Facebook to remove specific videos that call for violence against Jews or Israelis.” This according to the Forward report.

The officer later tried to walk back his statement, “saying that the Shin Bet [intelligence service] and the army don’t request help on specific videos but are in regular informal contact with Act.il. He said that Act.il’s staff is largely made up of former Israeli intelligence officers.”

Teens in American JCCs carry out missions assigned from Israel

New Jersey “Media Room,” a project of IAC New Jersey in partnership with Act.IL.

The project recruits Jewish teens and adults and sometimes operates out of local Jewish community centers, the Forward says. The paper describes one example:

“The dozen or so Israelis sitting around a conference table at a Jewish community center in Tenafly, New Jersey, on a recent Wednesday night didn’t look like the leading edge of a new Israeli government-linked crowdsourced online propaganda campaign.

“Tapping on laptops, the group of high school students and adult mentors completed social media ‘missions’ assigned out of a headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.”

In addition to the Tenafly “media room” another operates in Boston in cooperation with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. There are also regular Act.il advocacy-training sessions at The Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramas, New Jersey. Other media rooms are reportedly in the works, with one in Manhattan, hosted by The Paul R. Singer Foundation, scheduled to open soon.

The Forward reports: “In November, the Boston media room created a mission for the app that asked users to email a Boston-area church to complain about a screening there of a documentary that is critical of Israel. The proposed text of the email likens the screening of the film to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and calls the film’s narrator, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a ‘well-known anti-Semite.’”

Photo of Boston Media Room published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which states: “Media Room Ambassadors are students and adult mentors who are trained with the knowledge, skills, and tools to positively influence public discourse by developing pro-Israel social media campaigns.”

According to the Forward, Act.il also produces “pro-Israel web content that carries no logo. It distributes that content to other pro-Israel groups, including the Adelson-funded Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and The Israel Project, which push them out on their own social media feeds.”

The Forward predicts: “Initiatives in cyberspace seem likely to increase.”

Screenshot from video promoting the project, posted on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston website.

Israeli media report that the Israeli military “has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies” to recruit for its ranks.

An Israeli official described the process: “Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify, Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there.”

Israeli Government Ministry backs secret online campaigns

General Sima Vaknin-Gil told Israeli tech developers to “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel propaganda. As Israel’s Chief Censor, she said: ” “We censor information that is critical to our enemies, who have no capabilities like us, do not have a Jewish brain, and therefore our enemy relies to a large extent on open information…”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is behind this and similar projects, has mobilized substantial resources for online activities.

Israel’s Ynet news reports that the Ministry’s director “sees it as a war for all intents and purposes. ‘The delegitimization against the State of Israel can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools,’ she says. ‘In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness.’”

The director, General Sima Vaknin-Gil, told a forum of Israeli tech developers at a forum: “I want to create a community of fighters.” The objective is to “curb the activities of anti-Israel activists,” and “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel content.

An Israeli report in December stated that the ministry has acquired a budget of roughly $70 million to “stand at the forefront of the battle against delegitimization, adopting methods from the fields of intelligence and technology. There is a reason why ministry officials define it as ‘a war on consciousness terrorism.’” [‘Delegitimization’ is a common Israeli term for criticism of Israel. See here for a discussion of the term.]

Ha’aretz article reports: “The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ‘supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’—and they prefer their actions be kept secret.”

The article reports that the Ministry includes a job role entitled “Senior official—new-media realm,” responsible for surveillance and activities “in the digital realm.”

This individual head is responsible for analyzing social media and formulating a social media campaign against sites and activists who are deemed a threat to Israel.

Among the job’s responsibilities are:

“Analysis of the world of social media, in terms of content, technology and network structure, emphasizing centers of gravity and focuses of influence, methods, messages, organizations, sites and key activists, studying their characteristics, areas, realms and key patterns of activities of the rival campaign and formulating a strategy for an awareness campaign against them in this realm and managing crises on social media. That is, surveilling of activities mainly in the digital arena.”

Officials at the ministry are charged with “construction and promotion of creative and suitable programs for new media.”

The unit works to keep its activities secret from the public. For example, a program to train young Israelis for activities on social media was exempted from publishing a public bid for funding. Similarly, the ministry’s special unit against delegitimization, “Hama’aracha” (The Battle), is excluded from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ in which Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance U.S. legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, & close bank accounts.. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

Its activities reportedly include a “24/7 operations room monitoring all the delegitimization activities against Israel: Protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. The operations room will transfer the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Other programs include a 22-million-shekel project to work among labor unions and professional associations abroad “to root out the ability of BDS entities to influence the unions,” and a 16-million-shekel program focused on student activities throughout the world.

Israel’s UNIT 8200

Photo from article about Unit 8200 on Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre website.

Another Israeli entity that plays a role in covert Internet activity is the Israeli military’s legendary high-tech spy branch, Unit 8200. This unit is composed of thousands of “cyber warriors” primarily 18 to 21 years of age; some even younger. A number of its graduates have gone on to top positions at tech companies operating in the U.S., such as Check Point Software (where the spouse of the Jewish Voice for Peace head is employed as a solutions architect).

In 2015 Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced plans “to establish a special command to combat anti-Israel incitement on social media.” The command would operate under the foreign ministry’s hasbara [propaganda] department and would especially recruit from graduates of Unit 8200.

An article in the Jewish Press about the new command reports that Unit 8200 “has developed a great reputation for effectiveness in intelligence gathering, including operating a massive global spy network. Several alumni of 8200 have gone on to establish leading Israeli IT companies, including Check Point, ICQ, Palo Alto Networks, NICE, AudioCodes, Gilat, Leadspace, EZchip, Onavo, Singular and CyberArk.”

Check Point Software headquarters in Tel Aviv. Founded by a former Unit 8200 member, it also has offices throughout the U.S. Israeli tech companies sometimes assist in online spying efforts.

Numerous Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, assist in these online spying efforts, sometimes receiving Israeli government funding “for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts.”

According to the ministry’s statement, among the Command’s activities is finding videos with inflammatory content and issuing complaints to the relevant websites.”

To be clear, this is an occupying military working covertly to achieve censorship of reporting on its atrocities.

YouTube & Google officials meet with Israeli Minister

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaking to the Israel Collaboration Network’s Israeli Women in Tech Group on August 25, 2016.

Major Internet companies have reportedly been cooperating in this effort.

In 2015 Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that she had visited Silicon Valley and met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google’s Director of Public Policy (it is unclear whether this was was Jennifer Oztzistzki or Juniper Downs; Hotovely’s announcementreferred to “Jennifer Downs”).

“At the end of the meeting,” Israeli media reported, “it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus.”

Another Israeli news report about the meeting states: “…it was agreed that the companies would strengthen ties with the Foreign Ministry and build a regular mechanism of control to prevent the distribution of those incendiary materials on the network.”

Google, which owns YouTube, denied the Foreign Ministry’s report. The Ministry accordingly “clarified” its statement somewhat, but continued to say that Israeli officials would be in “regular contact with Google’s employees in Israel who deal with the problematic materials.”

Such officials often have close ties to Israel. For example, Facebook’s Head of Policy in Israel,Jordana Cutler, had previously been employed for many years by the Israeli government. (More about Facebook can be found here.)

The Linkedin page for Facebook’s Jordana Cutler

The meetings seem to have had a significant effect.

In 2016 Fortune magazine reported: “Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israeli requests to delete content that the government says incites Palestinian violence, Israel’s Justice Minister said on Monday.”

More recently, the Israeli Ministry of Justice said that its cyber unit handled 2,241 cases of online content and succeeded in getting 70 percent of it removed.

According to a 2017 report, Google, in its capacity as the operator of Youtube, announced that it was updating the steps it was already taking on this score.

Among other things, Google said it would increase the number of members of the “Trusted Flagger program,” which enables certain organizations and government agencies to report content. It also said it would “increase support for NGOs and organizations working to present a ‘corrective voice.’”

Given the record of infiltration and orchestrated activities described above—many financed by a combination of certain influential billionaires and the Israeli government itself—it’s hard to imagine that Israeli organizations and partisans are not thoroughly embedded in this program. In fact, one of the NGOs already working with YouTube as a “trusted flagger” is the Anti-Defamation League, whose mission includes ‘standing up for Israel.’

Anti-Defamation League celebrates Israel at 2017 New York City parade.

A leaked secret January 2017 ADL strategy paper detailed how to counter the pro-Palestine movement. Among its many strategies were some focused on the importance of efforts in cyber space.

The paper was produced in collaboration with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, and included an endorsement by Sima Vaknin-Gil, who stated that “the correlation between the Ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high, and has already proven effective… ”

Strategy paper about how to counter the Palestine solidarity movement. (Full document posted here.)

The document’s executive summary noted: “Cyberspace, broadly defined, stands out as a crucially important arena (for monitoring and counter and pro-active strategies) which requires more resources and attention due to its current influence, rapid growth and growing complexity.”

The paper called for “a mix of policy advocacy and industry engagement with corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in a manner consistent with the ADL Center for Technology and Society and its Anti-Cyberhate Working Group.”

An illustration in the ADL-Reut working paper on improving Israel advocacy. It noted: “While the pro-Israel network increasingly is active in this domain, much more can be done.”

The paper also recommended: “‘Bottom-up efforts’ of crowd-sourcing to enhance the adaptive capacity of the pro-Israel network.”

At the same time, it urged:

“Strengthening pro-Israel organizations that mobilize and coordinate a network of ‘nodes’ e.g. Jewish Community Public Affairs (JCPA) and its network of Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRCs) in the USA; Hillel, which is present in nearly five hundred locations in the U.S. and globally; the Israel Action Network (IAN) that reaches nearly 160 federations in the U.S.; or the Jewish Congress (WJC) that represents dozens of Jewish communities around the world.”

The detailed, 32-page document reported that in recent years “a massive investment of resources and talent” had been directed against the pro-Palestine movement.

One of the results, the paper said, was to create a “world-wide pro-Israel network.” It was this network that the report wished to mobilize. One of the paper’s concerns was that since Israel’s 2014  attack on Gaza “a growing number of Jews have become more critical of Israel.”

The document recommended a degree of stealth, noting: “high-visibility response by the pro-Israel side can be counterproductive.”

What this means

Nevertheless, despite all these forces arrayed against information about Palestine reaching the American public, our channel is back up on YouTube. In fact, we’ve just uploaded a new video:

This one is about the death of a nine-year-old boy. [Perhaps the Israeli government would consider this incitement to Palestinians to rebel against occupation; we see it as incitement to the world in general, and Americans in particular, to care.]

In other words, Israel’s efforts at censorship don’t always succeed.

But sometimes they do, and other YouTube users have not always been so fortunate. For example, YouTube has terminated several Palestinian news organizations.

One was the al-Quds network, which, according to a report in Middle East Eye, “relies on young reporters and volunteers using phones and other digital devices to cover local news across the Palestinian territories.” They would often report Israeli soldiers committing various human rights violations.

Its YouTube channel was terminated in 2011, and its editor says they had to “to create a new channel from scratch.” By 2017 its new channel had gained almost 10 million views before it was suddenly suspended without warning again last October. It now, however, appears to have a YouTube channel in operation.

According to the MEE report, YouTube also suspended the Filisten al-Youm TV channel last August, and in 2013, apparently following complaints by the Anti-Defamation League, YouTube closed down Iran’s PressTV channel. (A Press TV YouTube channel now also appears to be available again.)

Palestinian social media users risk even greater consequences.

The Israeli government has arrested Palestinians for videos, poems, and other posts it dislikes. A 2016 report estimated that “more than 150 arrests took place between October and February 2016 based on Facebook posts expressing opinions on the uprising. A recent video posted on social media led to the imprisonment of a 16 year old girl, her mother and cousin.

In addition, Palestinian access to social media is somewhat controlled by Israel. As a Huffington Post article reports, ”Palestinians’ digital rights and access to the Internet are compromised in very basic ways, because Israel controls the infrastructure and services of Palestinian telecommunication companies in the West Bank.”

While the situation has greatly improved in recent years – the Israeli government finally announced in 2016 that it would allow Palestinians in the West Bank to access 3G wireless networks, making this one of the last regions in the world with such access after years of Israeli restrictions – it is important to remember the enormous power Israel wields over this largely captive population.

While Israel is able to organize entire campaigns to filter and flood social media, its immense control over Palestinians impedes their access to the same media.

Given these facts, it is extremely important for people to search out information for themselves, go directly to our websites and others, subscribe to diverse email lists, and not rely on social media for information. [Please subscribe to our news posts here.]

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are private companies. In the end, they have the power to censor information, and they periodically do so. For a few days, we felt acutely what that was like. If Facebook had joined the ban, as has happened with others, we would have been even more cut off from what is essentially today’s “public square.”

The Internet and social media give us far more access to information and tools for communication and activism than ever before, but they, too, can be controlled—and they are.

It is up to us, as always, to overcome.

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Our videos are also being uploaded to Daily Motion, Vimeo, and BitChute, and many are already on ournews blog, Timeline, and main website, where all of them will eventually be available.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of “Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.” 

The section on the ADL was expanded on March 9. The ADL-Reut is posted here.

The French telecommunication multinational Orange joined the battle front with Israeli units bombing Gaza people 

Orange, previously France Telecom,  with its Israeli subsidiary Partner Communications Ltd, has been directly aiding Israeli military units for a decade now.

Orange participated in providing all the necessary advanced telecommunication equipment and subsidising Israeli soldiers under the adoption projectAmetz Lohem” for the tank division EZUZ since  2005 and the division for Shachar since 2008.

During Israel  savage preemptive war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Orange was on the battle front, particularly with the tank division Ezuz and commanded by Aryeh Berger, and provided all the facilities and communication batteries needed to resume the bombing of Gaza for an entire month. Free of charge.

Israel dropped what amounted to an atomic bomb during these 51 days of horror and total genocide tactics. Tanks were ordered to cross over gardens, cultivated lands and houses as training learning sessions.

Orange is an important mobile and internet supplier in Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, including Jordan and Egypt (Mobinil)

If the International Penal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity is serious in investigating and prosecuting the calamities in Gaza, all it has to do is subpoena Orange for all the direct videos and communication that were taken during the war.

The Israeli affiliate of Orange, the French multinational telecom company, provided direct material support to Israeli soldiers who participated in the deadly assault on Gaza last summer.

The firm has also sponsored two Israeli military units for several years, evidence of its deep complicity in Israeli military occupation and human rights abuses.

One of these units, the “Ezuz” tank company, took part in last summer’s attack on Gaza and was active in specific locations where hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed.

Orange, previously known as France Telecom, is a major provider of mobile phone, land line and Internet services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including in Jordan and Egypt (through its subsidiary Mobinil). In the UK, Orange operates as part of a joint venture called EE, and in Belgium it owns a big stake of Mobistar.

In Israel, Orange makes its profits by licensing its brand to an independently owned Israeli company called Partner Communications Ltd. and selling equipment and other services to it.

Helping the attack on Gaza

Israeli warplanes and artillery dropped the equivalent of an atomic bomb on Gaza during 51 days last July and August, killing more than 2,200 Palestinians, among them more than 500 children, and destroying vast areas.

According to Amnesty International, Israeli forces operated with “callous indifference to the carnage caused” by their attacks.

Entire families were wiped out as Israeli forces systematically and deliberately targeted civilian homes.

Throughout this horror, which Israel dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” Orange was on the front lines providing material support and boosting the morale of those carrying out the assault.

Orange waived service fees for soldiers “located in the area around Gaza” during the attack, Israel Hayom reported.

Every day during the assault, Orange sent “three mobile units to the soldiers’ gathering spots around Gaza,” the website Frumline reported in a 22 July 2014 article headlined “Orange in action on the border due to Operation Protective Edge.”

“The mobile units are equipped with generators, chargers for all types of devices, hundreds of fully charged batteries, and cellular devices, to allow soldiers to be in contact with their homes,” Frumline stated.

In Gaza, Palestinians who survived the assault have told of Israeli soldiers executing their relatives in cold blood.

Meanwhile in Israel, dozens of Orange employees fanned out across the country, visiting Israeli soldiers “and distributing tablet computers, to make their time in the hospital more pleasant.”

“Adopt a soldier”

Orange’s support for the Israeli military long predates last summer’s attack on Gaza.

“Our ongoing association with the soldier population began with the establishment of the Adopt A Soldier project by the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers,” Orange says on the “corporate responsibility” page of its Israel website.

As part of this project, the company has “adopted” two units: the “Ezuz” armored company, since 2005 and, since 2008, the “Shachar” search and rescue unit.

Dozens of firms, the vast majority Israeli, take part in the Adopt A Soldier project – “Ametz Lohem” in Hebrew. Among the more well-known internationally are the Israeli airline El Al and Strauss, the maker of Sabra brand hummus.

The participation of a multinational like Orange stands out – the only other readily recognizable international firm is the business services company Ernst & Young, which sponsors a drone unit.

According to the Orange website, the “adoption” consists of “joint activities of the soldiers with employees of the company, such as: sports, use of company facilities for training and conferences, support for lone soldiers, accompanying discharged soldiers on their pathway to civilian life and financing battalion-wide entertainment activities: hikes, athletics days, awards ceremonies for outstanding soldiers, and more.”

Ezuz in the attack on Gaza

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An article in Shiryon (Armor) glorifies the role of the Orange-sponsored “Ezuz” armored brigade in the summer 2014 assault on Gaza.

An article in the November 2014 edition of the Israeli military magazine Shiryon (Hebrew for “Armor”) reveals that the Ezuz unit directly participated in the attack on Gaza and was present at times and places where hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands of homes destroyed.

Unit commander Lt. Colonel Aryeh Berger tells Shiryon that Ezuz was part of a force that invaded Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. There, he says that his men “attacked homes of Hamas activists” and “purified” buildings.

Human Rights Watch condemned Israel’s deliberate targeting of homes, merely under the pretext that they allegedly belonged to the families of persons associated with Hamas or other armed resistance organizations, as “unlawful.”

Berger also reveals that his unit was active in the area of Khan Younis in southern Gaza at the same time that an Israeli soldier, Hadar Goldin of the Givati brigade, was reported captured near the city of Rafah, to the south. That capture occurred on 1 August 2014.

This places the Ezuz unit in two specific areas where mass killings took place.

In the Khan Younis area, Berger says his forces were tasked to “isolate” a village – which he does not name. Once the report of Goldin’s capture came, Berger says “we had to leave our task urgently and reinforce the Givati brigade, and we got there within three hours.”

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Palestinians search through rubble of their destroyed houses hit by Israeli strikes in Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, 5 August 2014.

(Yasser Qudih / APA images)

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that dozens of civilians were killed in and around Khan Younis by airstrikes and shelling from tanks and gunboats.

On 1 August, during a short-lived “humanitarian ceasefire,” medical crews, journalists and residents entered the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, which had been besieged by Israeli forces. They found the bodies of dozens of dead civilians.

Some had been killed while trying to leave, waving white flags. Others died as their homes were destroyed on top of them.

The UK’s Channel 4 documented scenes of destruction and carnage as people entered the village on 1 August:

The harrowing effects of the broken Gaza ceasefire | Channel 4 News

In Rafah – presumably where Ezuz redeployed to reinforce the Givati brigade following the reported capture of Goldin – Israeli forces implemented the so-called “Hannibal Directive”: they carpet bombed the town by land, sea and air, killing more than two hundred civilians and destroying more than 2,500 homes.

There were so many dead that local hospitals were forced to store corpses and body parts in ice cream coolers.

While in Gaza, Ezuz commander Berger says he ordered his men not to drive on roads or through intersections.

When tank commanders asked where they should drive, Berger replied “Everywhere else!”

He saw the assault on Gaza as a rare training opportunity:

“I assigned one of my company commanders to document some of this by video, so we can illustrate it in training, show them for example how a tank drives through a grove of trees, because they don’t believe this is possible, or how the tank shoots in different situations. Because in training we don’t have planted grove areas we can keep running over, or a variety of ‘live’ houses to shoot at.”

This is the unit Orange has sponsored for a decade.

“Corporate social responsibility”

Orange says it has a comprehensive global program on “corporate social responsibility.”

The company claims that “our commitment to corporate citizenship means that everything we do is for a single purpose: using digital technologies to speed up progress for society.”

But by supporting the Israeli army through its Israeli affiliate, Orange has been helping to speed up the destruction of Palestinian society and to kill and injure thousands of people.

Although Orange does not own Partner Communications Ltd., it remains responsible and liable for Partner’s activities done in its name and with its brand.

Orange directly derives profits from Partner’s activities through its royalty agreement, supplies Partner with equipment and is responsible for the stewardship and reputation of the Orange brand worldwide.

Brand Israel

The parent company, moreover, appears to be fully complicit in helping Israel whitewash its reputation. In May 2014, its Orange Institute think-tank sponsored a conference in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem called “How Israel became a Tech Lab for the World.”

The promotional material says that in 2014 “the brand of ‘Israel as Startup Nation’ is shining even more brightly than when Orange Institute first visited in 2011.”

“From this small country of eight million people,” Orange Institute gushes, “we continue to see oversized returns.”

The conference promoted such topics as “civilian drone use” and “cyber-security innovations within the Israeli cyber ecosystem.”

Orange wants to claim credit for initiatives “supporting digital literacy” and promoting “eco-friendly solutions.”

It should also be held accountable for its complicity in Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. Consumers might do that by refusing to be Orange customers.

Orange has already come under pressure from French civil society over its Israeli affiliate’s complicity in Israeli colonization of the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.

A statement signed by dozens of French groups calls on Orange to end its deal with Partner Communications Ltd. over the latter’s operations on occupied lands.

Last year, the French government warned French businesses of the risks of doing business in Israeli settlements in occupied territories that are illegal under international law.

But there is also the possibility that Palestinian individuals or human rights groups could seek to hold Orange accountable for providing material support to war crimes – including in the form of equipment it supplies to Partner – under the emerging doctrine of corporate liability for gross human rights abuses.

Orange’s press office at its headquarters in Paris did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for providing research and translation

Orange fournissant un service gratuit aux soldats israéliens déployés près de Gaza pendant l’attaque qui a tué plus de 2200 Palestiniens l’été dernier.
La filiale israélienne de la compagnie de télécommunications française a « adopté » une…
bdsfrance.org|By admin

“Indirect victims of Holocaust”? Palestinians were colonized since 1869

When Gaza was attacked during the summer, Angela Merkel promised to “stand by the side of Israel.”

The German chancellor has done much more than offer verbal support for Israel’s crimes. Under her leadership, the Berlin government has been equipping Israel with submarines that reportedly carry nuclear weapons.

France built the 6 submarines and Germany provided the finance from German taxpayers’ pockets’.

France was the only supporter for colonizing and partitioning Palestine before WWI and the main power after WWII to delivering sophisticated weapons and nuclear plants.

The first settlement was established in 1869 in a land donated by the Ottoman Sultan close to Jaffa.

Beginning 1882, Edmond de Rothschild invested $100 million over the next 17 years to purchase land and build colonies.

Lord Balfour acknowledge the partition of Palestine in 1917. A year later, both France and the US president ratified Balfour declaration. The western powers had already set their mind in partitioning Palestine before WWI ended.

During its mandate over Palestine, England cracked down on the countless Palestinians uprising and civil disobedience (Intifada) using extreme forms of violence and torture techniques. England refrained from persecuting the extremist terrorist Jewish factions such as Jabotenski, Begin, Shamir, Irgun…

At the start of WWII, England trained thousands of Jews in Palestine on how to demolish bridges, plant bombs and execute assassination… The Palestinians were denied enlisting in the army.

Merkel may sympathize with Israel on account of the Nazi behaviour, but she and Max Blumenthal are not to ignore the fact that Palestine was already planned to be partitioned long time ago and have to desist throwing sands in the eyes of the world community.

Emran Feroz in The Electronic Intifada this November 14, 2014

Germany made Palestinians “indirect victims of Holocaust,” says author Max Blumenthal

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The German chancellor and the Israeli prime minister met with their respective cabinets in Jerusalem in February. (Saeed Qaq / APA images)

Some German politicians have tried to muzzle debate about Israel by denouncing its critics as “anti-Semites.”

The American journalist Max Blumenthal — author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — faced such a smear on a recent speaking tour in Germany.

A number of elected politicians alleged that a scheduled talk by Blumenthal and his colleague David Sheen in a Berlin theater would serve “to promote anti-Semitic prejudice.”

This was deeply ironic: both Blumenthal and Sheen are themselves Jewish. The politicians denouncing them failed to produce any evidence that they are hostile towards fellow Jews.

Blumenthal spoke to Emran Feroz in Stuttgart.

Emran Feroz: You recently witnessed the destruction caused by Israel in Gaza. What scenes had the most effect on you?

Max Blumenthal: Emergency operations had to be performed in dentist chairs, while the bodies of dead children had to be laid in ice boxes, which were originally designed for ice cream. Those were probably the most shocking testimonies I heard.

EF: Not long after your trip to Gaza, you started using the hashtag #JSIL (Jewish State of Israel in the Levant) on Twitter. Making this kind of comparison between the group Islamic State and Israel is taboo in Germany. Why did you dare to do this?

MB: It is strange that you equate, in Germany, IS with Hamas or describe the entire Palestinian national movement as “heirs of the Nazis,” while there is such an outrage regarding my comparison. It was not a direct one-to-one comparison, but I wanted to point out the hypocrisy behind supporting one religiously exclusive state that forces minorities out of its territory while attacking another.

EF: But by using this hashtag, you must be suggesting that Israel and IS are somehow similar.

MB: Sure, they are. The “Jewish state” has no internationally recognized borders. The same relates to the “Islamic State.”

Both constructs have emerged after the original indigenous population were partly expelled and ethnically cleansed.

In the case of Israel it was the Palestinian indigenous population; in the case of the IS [they] are the Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims (and even Sunni Muslims).

Both “countries” rely on a religious exclusivity in the Levant.

And both think they represent all Muslims and Jews worldwide and thereby help inspire Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Both the Jewish state and the Islamic State recruit confused young men from around the world as foreign fighters to engage in atrocities.

When Israel’s defenders failed to address the comparisons on their merits, they simply attempted to hijack the #JSIL hashtag by declaring it stands for the “Jewish State of Israel Lives.”

EF: IS fighters behead their victims and then spread the videos of the beheadings through YouTube and social media. Do Israeli soldiers also make such videos?

MB: During the last attack on Gaza, the Israeli army killed civilians via drones and Jewish Israeli citizens celebrated the killings on Facebook. Some Israeli citizens gathered on a hill in the border town of Sderot and celebrated the bombing of the military with chips and beer. I find that this is not less macabre and disgusting. (How about pouring gasoline in the mouth and setting a Palestinian youth on fire?)

EF: How present is religious extremism inside the Israeli military?

MB: It is very present. A major figure of the last military operation in the Gaza Strip was commander Ofer Winter, who was celebrated as a national hero. Prior to the mission Winter said to his troops, that the Palestinians had sinned against God and therefore all must be punished.

So he declared a literal “holy war” against the Palestinian people. This is not the only way Winter has expressed the religious extremism that is rising in Israeli society.

In one instance, an Israeli woman singer wanted to perform in front of [Winter’s] soldiers. He refused [permission] to do so and said that a woman is not allowed to do that.

EF: Many women are part of the Israeli army. This is celebrated in what are effectively promotional campaigns for Israel. How can there be misogyny in the Israeli military if it has many female members?

MB: What is not mentioned is the fact that it is more likely that these women are assaulted by their male counterparts in the army than by Palestinians. I think that only imperialist feminists argue that women can be emancipated in an army like the Israeli one.

Good examples of this type of feminism are political figures like Samantha Power or Angela Merkel or Tzipi Livni because their peculiar brand of feminism goes hand in hand with the imperialistic interests of the western powers who are so invested in majority Muslim countries, where the population is portrayed as culturally backwards and in need of “liberation.”

EF: During the last attack on Gaza, the family of Ibrahim Kilani — who are German citizens — were killed. His son Ramsis, who lives in Germany, said that up to today nobody has apologized to him. The German government has not called him a single time. How can you explain this behavior?

MB: The behavior of the German government shows not only the lack of interest in the rights of the Palestinians, but also the very lives of them. The life of these people is practically non-existent in Germany. They are the new “un-people.”

The German foreign minister issued condolences for the families of those German citizens killed on an airliner over eastern Ukraine, possibly by Russian separatists. But they’ve said nothing to the Kilani family.

The negation of Palestinian lives has been German policy since the days of Konrad Adenauer [chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963].

In those days Israel had no problem to negotiate on Holocaust reparations with the head of the chancellery, Hans Globke, who was a known Nazi in the Third Reich. This cash flow from Germany went directly to the Israeli occupation machine that has made the Palestinians indirect victims of the Holocaust.

The current bloodshed is a result of this policy and every German should ask himself: how does this policy honor the Holocaust?

EF: Your willingness to make such statements probably explains why some German politicians do not want to see you here in Germany. What happened to you exactly?

MB: Some politicians, such as Volker Beck, a parliamentarian from Germany’s Green Party, had launched a campaign to silence us — me and the journalist David Sheen. The reason for this is the fact that they do not want to know of another version of Judaism and they certainly do not want to hear about the facts on the ground.

Their attitude actually promotes anti-Semitism.

It is simply anti-Semitic to equate Zionism with Judaism and to limit Jewish identity to the narrow confines of Israeli nationalism. For a gentile politician to do it is beyond disgusting.

EF: The Gaza Strip remains destroyed. And, according to some media outlets, a third intifada (actually the fourth if you don’t forget 1936 that lasted 4 years) is going to happen in the occupied West Bank. Is this really the case or is it just scaremongering?

MB: Last year the al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] was stormed “only” eight times by Israeli soldiers. This year this happened 76 times. Radical religious elements have announced that they want to demolish the mosque to build a Jewish temple. If this happens, the situation will take on global implications that will be approach the apocalyptic.

The whole conflict is taking on a religious dimension, which is devastating for all involved, and, as I said, will promote radicalization around the globe. I think the third intifada actually is at the door.

However, I believe that this word — intifada — does not adequately describe the situation. It is not effective enough to describe what is actually going on. At that time — in the case of the first and second intifadas — this term was appropriate.

Now with so many Palestinian political leaders in prison or dead and such a complex matrix of control imposed on them, a nationwide revolt cannot take place. What we are seeing is creative resistance with limited means occurring on a national level but at sporadic moments.

And it will continue and intensify as long as the status quo is in place. It is that deadly status quo that German foreign policy protects and promotes.

Emran Feroz is a Germany-based freelance journalist, blogger and activist. He is also the founder of Drone Memorial, a website listing victims of drone attacks. His Twitter account is @Emran_Feroz

Impunity? Will US persist in demanding truth about Israeli sniper killing of Palestinian-American child?

Thousands attended the 26 October funeral of Orwa Hammad, the 14-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank village of Silwad two days earlier.

Israeli occupation forces claimed Orwa had been about to throw a molotov cocktail, a justification frequently given for the killings of children.

Local residents told The New York Times that “Palestinians throwing stones clashed with Israeli soldiers in the village after Friday Prayer, but that Orwa was apparently killed hours later.”

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Palestinians carry the body of 14-year old Orwa Hammad at his funeral in the West Bank village of Silwad, 26 October.

Israeli occupation forces shot and killed the US citizen on 24 October. (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

The US State Department expressed “condolences” for Orwa’s death but failed to condemn it, in contrast to the killing of an Israeli-American baby in Jerusalem days earlier when a Palestinian driver crashed a car into a group of pedestrians in eastern occupied Jerusalem.

The US called for “a speedy and transparent investigation” into Orwa’s death.

What no one disputes, however, is that Orwa was killed by Israeli bullets.

Losing a brother and a son

Thousands of miles from where Orwa died and was buried, Shukri Abu Baker sits in a maximum security US federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, serving out a 65-year sentence.

He is one of the Holy Land 5” – the founder of the Holy Land Foundation, and one of five of the charity’s officials convicted in a travesty of a trial in 2008 for raising funds to help Palestinians.

It turns out he has a connection to Orwa and light to shed on the tragedy his family has lived through under occupation.

Using the authorized prison email system, Abu Baker sent this message to his family and friends.

His daughter Nida Abu Baker shared it with The Electronic Intifada:

From: SHUKRI ABU BAKER (32589-177)
Date: 10/27/2014 5:21:14 PM
Subject: Bullets That Kill   Message:

Family and friends,

On Friday, October 24, Israeli soldiers swarmed the northern West Bank village of Silwad to quell a protest by dozens of frustrated youngster. Upon arriving, the heavily armed soldiers opened fire at 14-year-old, Orwa Hammad, aiming at his head and neck.

The boy fell to the ground and bled to death before the soldiers called an ambulance. Six others were wounded.

In summer 1992, during a visit to my home village, Silwad, I met  Nabil Qaddorah, 19, handsome, full of energy and optimism, and excited about his planned engagement to the love of his life.

The Israeli soldiers raided the village with their military jeeps and started shooting at a crowd of youngsters who had started to throw stones at the military vehicles.

Nabil received multiple wounds in his chest. As he fell to the ground an Israeli  soldier started to jump up and down pounding on his chest. They carried him inside a jeep and took off.

After dark, two days later, his family claimed his body and brought him home for his elderly parents, relatives, and friends to view before he was put to grave in the same night. I viewed his body, kissed him on the forehead, and said goodbye.

Nabil’s sister is Orwa’s mother [Ikhlas Hammad].

In a span of 22 years she has lost a brother and a son. Orwa’s father, Abdelwahab, is my wife’s maternal cousin who was in New Orleans, Louisiana when his son was murdered. He asked that the burial of his son be put off for three days to allow him to make it back in Silwad and attend the burial. Orwa was an American citizen by birth.

His family is expecting a statement from the State Department demanding answers from the Israelis, and I say, it won’t happen because we already know that it was the soldiers who shot Orwa, but where did the bullets that killed him come from?

Impunity

Now cut across to Monday’s State Department press briefing where AP correspondent Matt Lee challenged US officials on what they were going to do to get answers in Orwa’s case and others.

Several months ago, there was a shooting – there was an incident involving a shooting of some Palestinian youths. They weren’t Americans, but you called at that time for an [investigation],” Lee said, “this was the video, the one that was captured on videotape. Are you aware of the results of that Israeli investigation?”

Lee was referring to the cold-blooded shootings by snipers of Palestinian teens Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia on 15 May.

Despite plenty of video evidence and the US request for an investigation, Israel has made no arrests and issued no report.

This is the standard impunity that Israeli killers of Palestinians receive.

State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki’s answered Lee: “I would encourage you to ask the Israeli authorities for any outcomes they would like to share with you.”

In other words, there will be no follow up from the US government, not for Nadim and Muhammad, not for Orwa – an American – and not for thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel with weapons provided or paid for by the United States.

The total impunity the Obama administration continues to afford Israel is just as lethal to Palestinian children as the weapons the US gives Israel in order to kill them.

 

G4S ‘to end’ Israel prison contracts as pressure mounts over torture complicity

British-Danish multinational security and prison profiteering firm G4S is to pull out of Israeli prisons completely, the Financial Times reports this morning.

Campaigners have given a cautious welcome to the news, but emphasize that pressure on the company must continue until the complicit abuses end. They note that G4S has made misleading statements in the past.

According to the Financial Times:

G4S has confirmed that it will end all its Israeli prison contracts within the next 3 years after an annual general meeting that was severely disrupted by human rights protesters.

Asked by angry protesters whether G4S would withdraw from the Palestinian territories as reported by the Financial Times last year, Ashley Almanza, chief executive, confirmed “no change to that position.”

“We expect them to expire and we don’t expect to renew them,” he said. These include contracts to provide security and screening equipment at military checkpoints, the controversial Ofer prison and a police station in the West Bank, all of which are expected to expire next year.

But Mr Almanza said for the first time that the move would also include prison service contracts all over Israel.

Caution

“G4S is certainly feeling the pressure and reputational damage caused by the international campaign against its complicity in Israel’s military occupation,” said Randa Wahbe, advocacy officer with the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, in a statement emailed to The Electronic Intifada.

“The latest reports that G4S will not renew its contract with the Israeli Prison Service is a welcome step, but this has no immediate effect on those facing human rights violations inside Israel’s prisons today.”

“G4S has a long track record of saying one thing but doing another and has not made any formal written statements about when it intends to end its contracts with the Israeli prison service and other aspects of Israel’s apartheid regime.”

“The campaign against G4S will continue until it actually ends all contracts that support Israel’s military occupation.”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign adds that G4S “will continue to be targeted until it ends its complicity with Israeli crimes.”

“Blood on its hands”

Despite the apparent decision to pull out, the company maintains that it has no role in Israel’s abuses.

“We do not operate prisons, we supply prisons with security equipment,” Almanza told the Financial Times, claiming that the equipment made the Israeli prisons “safer” and did not increase human rights abuses.

 

But as this video from Addameer explains, G4S has “blood on its hands” by providing surveillance systems and other services at facilities like Megiddo prison, where Arafat Jaradat , father of three, was tortured to death last year, and where Palestinian teen Ali Shamalawi, one of the “Hares Boys,” is being held.

Increasing pressure

On 5 June, dozens of campaigners disrupted the G4S annual shareholder meeting in London and 25 were forcibly ejected, as many more demonstrated outside.

The video at the top of this post, taken during the meeting, features activists loudly shouting “G4S shame on you!” and reading out the company’s abuses, including its role in the abuse and detention of asylum seekers and migrants in the UK and for Australia (Three G4S guards have been charged with manslaughter following the 2010 death of Jimmy Mubenga as he was being restrained by the men during a forcible deportation from the UK.)

Another video posted by the activist coalition Stop G4S on its Facebook page shows more of the action outside the shareholders meeting.

The news also comes after a number of well known artists, activists and politicians publicly called on G4S to end its complicity in Israel’s abuse of child prisoners.

They include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African politician and former political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, Alice Walker, Roger Waters, Angela Davis, Breyten Breytenbach, Saleh Bakri and a number of UK members of parliament.

In addition to protests, G4S is also finding itself under official pressure. Earlier this week, as the Financial Times reports, “the UK government’s National Contact Point watchdog launched an investigation into G4S’s activities in Israel and the West Bank. The National Contact Point, which is part of the Department for Business, said it had ‘accepted issues for further examination.’”

This follows a formal complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, which welcomed the trade body’s step as “ground-breaking and significant.”

Last week it was revealed that the Bill Gates Foundation dumped a significant holding of shares in G4S after coming under criticism for investing in the company.

The latest developments show clearly that even a company as vast as G4S – it has more than 600,000 employees worldwide – cannot continue to profit from the suffering and abuse of human beings without feeling the pressure from dedicated campaigners.

Note 1: UN Secretary General demanded that Israel free all the Palestinians under administrative status. Over 200 have been on hunger strike for 2 months, and 40 of them are suffering from bleeding in the stomach for prolonged hunger strike period.

Note 2: Over 60% of Palestinian youth have been placed in administrative detention, just to keep them off the street, as black youth in the US at certain periods.

It is Jawhariyyeh’s lack of status that makes his memoirs so unusual, revealing new facets of Palestinian life before the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment — and challenging many preconceptions and stereotypes.

Wasif Jawhariyyeh was not from the elite families. His father was associated with the Husseinis, performing administrative jobs for the family alongside his activities as a merchant and silk farmer.

According to Wasif’s account, his father was a close and trusted advisor to Salim al-Husseini and his son Musa Kazem.

This association with a well-off family meant that, although the Jawhariyyehs’ financial situation was sometimes precarious, gifts from his father’s patron ensured that Wasif and his siblings rarely noticed.

The descriptions of his childhood center around a large house shared with tenants, situated around a courtyard and with communal facilities.

“If you entered the house on a Sunday,” writes Jawhariyyeh, “you would find families and relatives of both sexes with their children, some playing cards or backgammon, others singing or playing music with their friends, some smoking argileh [water pipe], or telling stories and anecdotes… .

Our Muslim neighbors, both men and women, used to join us at times of sorrow or joy alike. On the first night of Lent, we would all dress up — men and women.”

This is a rare glimpse into “middle-class” life in Jerusalem at the end of the Ottoman period, where the important things are food, family and getting an education, not palatial homes and political goings-on.

Talented musician

Wasif, however, was found at a young age to be a talented musician, playing instruments such as the oud and the rababah or rebeck.

This ability gives his autobiography an extra perspective, because he often worked as a personal musician to members of the Jerusalem elite, including men of the Husseini and Nashashibi families.

We may be used to seeing these names in history books, making decisions which affected the political fate of Palestine.

Wasif Jawhariyyeh played his oud in the bachelor pads — called odas — of the young men of elite families, and in the cafes they frequented, and taught music and singing to their mistresses.

Jawhariyyeh’s access to the upper echelons of Jerusalem society, as well as his formidable memory for anecdotes, also deliver personal insights into Britain’s colonial governors.

They include the “cunning” Ronald Storrs and the eccentric Edward Keith-Roach, who cycled round the roof of the government building in his pyjamas and locked his beloved cat in to protect her from the advances of felines from the neighboring Morcos Hotel.

Vibrant nightlife

Far from being an austere, religious place at the heart of political events, Jawhariyyeh’s Jerusalem is a city with a vibrant nightlife, performances by famous musicians from Cairo and Beirut, songs satirizing contemporary events and personalities and partygoers dabbling in recreational drugs.

Jerusalem in the 1920s, it seems, was less the traditional backwater depicted in some accounts of the British Mandate, and more a city whose affluent cultural scene was a smaller version of that to be found in other cosmopolitan capitals in the region and across Europe.

As well as this unique insight into the leisure lives of the upper classes, Jawhariyyeh’s depictions of late Ottoman and Mandate Jerusalem give us eyewitness accounts of the diverse society destroyed by the establishment of the State of Israel.

Muslims, Christians and Jews not only lived alongside one another, but participated in each other’s religious festivals and cultural celebrations, drawing no meaningful distinctions between one community and another.

According to these descriptions, the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter were celebrated almost as one huge event in Jerusalem, with participants from the highest ranks of Muslim officials.

The Jewish festivities included a procession from Jerusalem to the shrine of Moses near Jericho, which was also the destination for Muslim pilgrims during the Islamic festival of Nabi Musa.

Sense of darkness

Perhaps there is an element of nostalgia to Jawhariyyeh’s reminiscences of the earlier years of his life.

Even allowing for this, there is a growing sense of darkness throughout the latter part of his memoirs, as political events — Zionist immigration and growing discrimination against the local population by the British Mandate authorities — start to impinge on everyday life.

Music — including technological innovations such as radio — remained central to Jawhariyyeh’s professional and personal existence but even this was touched by the impending crisis.

Jawhariyyeh recounts, for example, how a Jewish musician who had represented his home country, Iraq, at the 1931 Arabic music conference in Cairo went to play in a new orchestra, separate from the Palestinians, after political clashes split the artists.

With the exception of a few minor inconsistencies in transliteration, this is a book about which one can be unequivocally enthusiastic. For those with background knowledge of Palestine under Ottoman and Mandate rule, it will be source of fresh perspectives and details.

For those new to the period, the book — edited by Salim Tamari and Issam Nassar, and translated by Nada Elzeer — provides a highly readable, intimate account of life for urban Palestinians.

And for all readers, its portrayal of a diverse, vibrant society is a bitter-sweet glimpse into what Palestine might have been, in a world without European and Zionist colonialism.

Sarah Irving worked with the International Solidarity Movement in the occupied West Bank in 2001-02 and with Olive Co-op, promoting fair trade Palestinian products and solidarity visits, in 2004-06.

She is the author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine and co-editor of A Bird is not a Stone, a collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry in translation.

She is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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