| FactCheck: What about the Britons who fight for Israel?

FactCheck: what about the Britons who fight for Israel? ~ Patrick Worrall,

Channel 4 FactCheck goes behind the spin to dig out the truth and separate political fact from fiction.

The claim

“We have British citizens going over to fight in the Israeli army. Yesterday we know they are taking part in the collective punishment of a civilian population. That’s a crime.”
Farooq Siddiqui, 3 July 2014

An ex-adviser to the government on tackling extremism in Britain’s Muslim communities raised an interesting point on Channel 4 News in relation to Brits who fight in conflicts abroad.

Farooq Siddiqui, formerly of the Prevent programme, is calling for the UK to stop criminalising young Muslims who travel to Syria to fight against Bashar al-Assad.

Security service estimates suggest around 500 Britons have travelled to Syria to take part in the civil war.

Mr Siddiqui asked why the government has threatened to arrest British Muslims who return from Syria while it allows young people to fight for Israel and other countries with impunity.

“If we’re talking about stopping people, Muslims, stopping them from going over to other countries and fighting, why are we not doing that as a blanket for stopping anyone that goes over abroad to fight in other countries?”

Is Mr Siddiqui right to say that young Brits are fighting for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) while the Israelis are engaged in controversial strikes against Palestinian targets following the murder of three Jewish teenagers?

04 idf g FactCheck: what about the Britons who fight for Israel?

The analysis

Most Israeli citizens are obliged to do national service of up to two-and-a-half years in the country’s military, and so a significant number of British-born Israelis or immigrants with dual nationality will inevitably join Israel’s armed forces for a spell.

But you don’t have to be a citizen of the Jewish state to fight for the IDF.

The Israeli military runs a programme called “mahal” which allows non-Israeli nationals of Jewish descent to join the ranks of the armed forces for an 18-month tour of duty.

According to the rules, British men under 24 or women under 21 who have one parent or grandparent who is or was Jewish are eligible.

That’s Jewish (you need to prove it by getting a rabbi to sign a confirmation) not Israeli.

Overseas recruits get the same pay and conditions as Israelis and “serve always shoulder to shoulder with regular Israeli soldiers”.

The numbers of volunteers from the UK are small but significant: the IDF told Channel 4 News there are “around one hundred Brits currently serving” in its ranks.

There is a even a support group for British parents of IDF soldiers called Mahal Mums.

We’re not aware of anyone questioning the legality of this arrangement.

Unlike some other countries, Britain does not have an effective law prohibiting its citizens from fighting for foreign armies.

There is an obscure piece of legislation still on the statute books – the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 – which ostensibly makes it illegal for British citizens to join the armed forces of a country fighting a state at peace with Britain.

But this proved to be embarrassingly ineffective when prosecutors attempted to stop British volunteers from fighting in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

The lack of any practical ban on foreign enlistment leads to the slightly odd situation where a teenager can travel to Syria to fight for the brutal Assad regime with impunity, but if he sides with enemies of the regime he could face prosecution as a terrorist back in Britain.

This is because of the broad scope of anti-terror legislation. In the Queen’s Speech last month, the government set out new laws which mean Brits who travel overseas to train for acts of terrorism against any government will be prosecuted as if their actions had taken place in the UK.

In May Mashudur Choudhury, 31, from Portsmouth, became the first Briton to be convicted of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts after attending a training camp in Syria.

Choudhury wasn’t threatening the UK, he was training to fight Assad – who David Cameron also wanted to target with military action before losing a Commons vote last year.

But a supreme court judgement from last year ruled that the legal definition of terrorism can include “any or all military attacks by a non-state armed group against any or all state or inter-governmental organisation armed forces in the context of a non-international armed conflict”.

So if someone fights in a civil a war against a regime the British government hates – even if they fight for a moderate faction not banned as a terror organisation – they can still be prosecuted as a terrorist.

War crimes?

Mr Siddiqui is not the only person to have accused Israel of war crimes over its recent actions in the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of the killings of three Israeli teens.

Amnesty International has echoed his use of the words “collective punishment”, saying: “Justice will not be served by Israel seeking revenge by imposing collective punishment, or committing other violations of Palestinians’ rights.”

Collective punishment against a civilian population is banned under the fourth Geneva Convention.

But in the absence of any legal case brought against the IDF, the suggestion that Israeli air strikes, arrests, shootings and demolition of buildings constitute “collective punishment” of the Palestinians remains an unproven allegation.

How likely is it that Britons have been directly involved in clashes with Palestinians in recent days? Not surprisingly, we don’t have information on the movements of individual IDF soldiers.

But there is no reason why they would not be involved. The rules of mahal state that overseas recruits are liable to be picked for the same frontline combat units as Israeli conscripts, including infantry, tanks and special forces.

The verdict

It was news to FactCheck, but there are around 100 British nationals serving with the IDF as we speak, apparently with no legal difficulties.

But a Brit who trains or fights with any anti-Assad rebel group runs the risk of being jailed as a terrorist.

If we are worried about young British Muslims heading off to the Middle East to receive military training, should we be equally worried about Jews?

That depends on whether Mr Siddiqui is justified in comparing the experience of serving in a professional army overseas to fighting alongside Islamist militant groups in Syria. Of course this is a politically-charged and highly debatable point.

He insisted in the interview: “It is a fighting force, whether you want to say it’s disciplined or it’s a militia. The effect on the individual, the effect on the combatant is still the same.”

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| Special Report – Hamas: What “Destruction of Israel?”

Special Report What “Destruction of Israel”? ~ John V. Whitbeck, WRMEA, June/July 2014, Page 12.

 

When, in response to the threat of potential Palestinian reconciliation and unity, the Israeli government suspended “negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization on April 24 (five days before they were due to terminate in any event), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement asserting: “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.”

In a series of related media appearances, Netanyahu hammered repeatedly on the “destruction of Israel” theme as a way of blaming Palestine for the predictable failure of the latest round of the seemingly perpetual “peace process.”

The extreme subjectivity of the epithet “terrorist” has been highlighted by two recent absurdities—the Egyptian military regime’s labeling of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has won all Egyptian elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, as a “terrorist” organization, and the labeling by the de facto Ukrainian authorities, who came to power through illegally occupying government buildings in Kiev, of those opposing them by illegally occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine as “terrorists.” In both cases, those who have overthrown democratically elected governments are labeling those who object to their coups as “terrorists.”

It is increasingly understood that the word “terrorist,” which has no agreed definition, is so subjective as to be devoid of any inherent meaning, and that it is commonly abused by governments and others who apply it to whomever or whatever they hate in the hope of demonizing their adversaries, thereby discouraging and avoiding rational thought and discussion and, frequently, excusing their own illegal and immoral behavior.

Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas “calls for the destruction of Israel” requires rational analysis as well.

He is not the only guilty party in this regard. The mainstream media in the West habitually attaches the phrase “pledged to the destruction of Israel” to each first mention of Hamas, almost as though it were part of Hamas’ name.

In the real world, what does the “destruction of Israel” actually mean? The land? The people? The ethno-religious-supremacist regime?

There can be no doubt that virtually all Palestinians—and probably still a significant number of Native Americans—wish that foreign colonists had never arrived in their homelands to ethnically cleanse them and take away their land, and that some may even lie awake at night dreaming that they might, somehow, be able to turn back the clock or reverse history.

“Destruction” sounds much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy.”

However, in the real world, Hamas is not remotely close to being in a position to cause Israel’s territory to sink beneath the Mediterranean, or to wipe out its population, or even to compel the Israeli regime to transform itself into a fully democratic state pledged to equal rights and dignity for all who live there. It is presumably the latter threat—the dreaded “bi-national state”—that Netanyahu has in mind when he speaks of the “destruction of Israel.”

For propaganda purposes, “destruction” sounds much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy,” even when one is speaking about the same thing.

In the real world, Hamas has long made clear, notwithstanding its view that continuing negotiations within the framework of the American-monopolized “peace process” is pointless and a waste of time, that it does not object to the PLO’s trying to reach a two-state agreement with Israel; provided only that, to be accepted and respected by Hamas, any agreement reached would need to be submitted to and approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum.

In the real world, the Hamas vision (like the Fatah vision) of peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine is much closer to the “international consensus” on what a permanent peace should look like, as well as to international law and relevant U.N. resolutions, than the Israeli vision—to the extent that one can even discern the Israeli vision, since no Israeli government has ever seen fit to publicly reveal what its vision—if any exists beyond beyond maintaining and managing the status quo indefinitely—actually looks like.

As the Fatah and Hamas visions have converged in recent years, the principal divergence has become Hamas’ insistence (entirely consistent with international law and relevant U.N. resolutions) that Israel must withdraw from the entire territory of the State of Palestine, which is defined in the U.N. General Assembly resolution of Nov. 29, 2012, recognizing Palestine’s state status as “the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” (including, significantly, the definite article “the” missing from “withdraw from territories” in the arguably ambiguous U.N. Security Council Resolution 242), in contrast to Fatah’s more flexible willingness to consider agreed land swaps equal in size and value.

An Establishment Party

After winning the last Palestinian elections and after seven years of responsibility for governing Gaza under exceptionally difficult circumstances, Hamas has become a relatively “moderate” establishment party, struggling to rein in more radical groups and prevent them from firing artisanal rockets into southern Israel, a counterproductive symbolic gesture which Israeli governments publicly condemn but secretly welcome (and often seek to incite in response to their own more lethal violence) as evidence of Palestinian belligerence justifying their own intransigence.

Netanyahu’s “destruction of Israel” mantra should not be taken seriously, either by Western governments or by any thinking person. It is long overdue for the Western mainstream media to cease recycling mindless—and genuinely destructive—propaganda and to adapt their reporting to reality, and it is long overdue for Western governments to cease demonizing Hamas as an excuse for doing nothing constructive to end a brutal occupation which has now endured for almost 47 years. ❑


John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

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| #ziocolony: From kidnapping to collapse: The beginning of the end?

From kidnapping to collapse: The beginning of the end? ~ Jeff Halper, +972.

In the end, the unsustainability of warehousing Palestinians will force the hand of the international community. The Israeli government, so strong it does not know when to stop, will lead us to that moment.

 

The kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank has unleashed a military operation marking the end of the Israeli occupation. The term “occupation” designates a temporary military situation resolvable only through negotiations. If that is were case, then it could be argued that Israel’s occupation over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (not to mention the Golan Heights) lasted only a decade, during the dithering rule of Labor.

From 1977, when the Begin/Sharon government announced that “Judea and Samaria” would be considered integral parts of the Land/State of Israel, when it formally annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and began its campaign of systematically eliminating any two-state solution through massive settlement building, “occupation” gave way to something else. In fact, Israel denied it even had an occupation – that “something else” in Israeli parlance was merely the “administration” of a “disputed” territory.

 

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hence the Fourth Geneva Convention did not apply, Israel had not violated any international laws forbidding Occupying Powers from unilaterally changing the status of Occupied Territories and the Palestinians, defined as Protected People for whose well-being Israel is accountable, were left unprotected. Indeed, after the death of Arafat in 2004, if not before, Israel ushered in yet another variation of occupation: joint Israeli-Palestinian occupation rooted in an American-trained Palestinian Authority militia acting as Israel’s policeman.

 

And so it is with the killing of the three that we are about to enter yet another new and terrible phase of post-occupation, warehousing, a step beyond apartheid. After their land has been expropriated and 96 percent of the Palestinians confined to dozens of tiny islands on less than 40 percent of the Occupied Territories – i.e., 40 percent of 22 percent of their homeland – after 30,000 of their homes have been demolished and an entire population exposed to impoverishment and, in Gaza, conditions bordering on starvation, after negotiations have ended permanently and settlements have reached their critical, irreversible mass, warehousing is about to begin. The good news is: as violent and oppressive as Israel’s campaign of warehousing is likely to be (though strong international pressure may avert the worst measures), it will lead in short order to the complete collapse of Israeli rule and, if we are ready with an inclusive alternative, will open the way to new possibilities of a just peace not available today.

The term “warehousing” comes out of the world of America’s prisons. The U.S. has 4.4 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners. They are inmates, wards of the state, whose status is fixed and who have, for all purposes, disappeared. No one cares what happens to them (prison reform will not get you elected to Congress), and their rights are respected only in the breach. And when they “riot” – for we use non-political language to describe the doings of these less-than people – the prison guards have every right and duty to suppress them. No negotiations. They are not a “side,” just subjects to be managed, to be “warehoused,” forever if they prove to be recalcitrant.

This expresses precisely the way Israel views the Palestinians. It has never recognized the existence of the Palestinian people or their national rights of self-determination, and even in the brightest days of Oslo only recognized the PLO as a negotiating partner. Israel has never officially declared its acceptance of a two-state solution, certainly not one requiring it to withdraw completely from to the Green Line. Not considering them a genuine and equal “side” with whom to negotiate, it has merely made “generous offers” which they could either take or leave. Indeed, since the days of Ehud Barak Israel has claimed that it has no “partner for peace,” meaning that its policy decisions are made unilaterally.

The two-state solution buried forever under the settlement blocs, Israel is mopping up: the prison cells of Areas A and B have been prepared, and now the prison authorities have to convey to the prisoners the reality and hopelessness of their situation. Submit and you will live; resist and you will die. That is precisely the message of Operation Brother’s Keeper, which was only waiting for a pretext provided by the kidnapping.

Read +972′s full coverage of the kidnappings and their aftermath

Yet the powerless have one effective instrument at their disposal. They can say “no.” The Palestinian Authority comes close to being an occupying power in its own right. Israel’s take-over of Ramallah during its latest “operation” was carried out with the active cooperation of Palestinian security forces, and Palestinians often speak of living under two occupations. Whether it resigns or merely collapses under the weight of its own lack of credibility, it is hard to see how the PA can survive both the humiliation and the formal role of collaborator forced upon it by Israel, which it will be if it stays in power with no meaningful political process.

Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Here is where the collapse comes in – and the final resolution of the conflict. With no PA to perpetuate the fiction of “two sides” engaged in negotiations, Israel will unilaterally annex the main settlement blocs, half the West Bank, but will ultimately be forced to reoccupy the Palestinian cities and Gaza. (Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s foreign minister, has been urging the conquest of Gaza since the kidnappings took place.) Or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. What we will be left with, finally, is open-ended warehousing, the raw, naked imprisonment of an entire people. Israel thinks that’s a good thing. It believes it can imprison a people and get away with it. It can “win.” Such is its faith in the protection afforded by the American Congress and its usefulness as one of the world’s major purveyors of arms and security.

But here is where Israel misreads the political map. If left solely to governments, Israel could certainly prevail, for they merely manage conflicts rather than resolve them. But the Palestinian issue has assumed the proportions of the anti-apartheid struggle. And as in that struggle, the international civil society of political and activist groups, human rights organizations, trade unions, churches, students, intellectuals and an ever-more critical public opinion has grown in strength to the point where governments cannot ignore it. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not merely a spat between two local groups; it has become a global conflict that disrupts and destabilizes the entire international system, the inflammable Middle East in particular. In the end, the unsustainability of warehousing Palestinians will force the hand of the international community.

When that happens in the not-too-distant future, possibilities for a truly just resolution of the conflict will emerge offering alternatives not available today – the possibility of a single democratic, bi-national state being at the fore. The Israeli government, so strong it does not know when to stop, will lead us to that moment. It will not be a partner in achieving a just peace, however. It will be up to us ultimately, the people, to formulate what a just resolution would be, and push it to fruition. The moment is coming. The question is, will we be ready to seize it?

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He can be reached at jeff@icahd.org.

Related:
Analysis: The end of the ‘cheap occupation’ era
Our problem with selective sympathy for young victims
When the canons roar, the Israeli Left remains silent

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| Sick Israel’s brutal response to the disappearance of 3 Jewish teens!

Israel’s brutal response to the disappearance of 3 Jewish teens ~ Alison Weir, IF AMERICANS KNEW.

On June 12, 2014, it was announced that three Jewish teens who had been hitchhiking in the West Bank were missing. The government of Israel immediately accused Hamas of abducting them. What actually happened to the teens is unknown; Hamas has denied involvement in their disappearance, and no demands or credible claims of responsibility have been made by any party. The Israeli government has yet to offer any concrete evidence that Hamas is linked, yet its response against Hamas as well as ordinary Palestinians has been extremely violent and repressive.

Human rights organizations in Israel-Palestine (Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Yesh Din, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Breaking the Silence) signed a letter urging that Israel stop imposing “collective punishment” on the Palestinian people.

Since June 12, 2014 Israel has:

If Hamas is behind the disappearance of the 3 teens, that would indeed constitute a violation of their basic human rights. However, to put the situation in context, there are at currently least 5,271 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, 196 of them under the age of 18. These prisoners are not afforded a number of fundamental legal rights.

According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “Since the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). This number constitutes approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population in the oPt and as much as 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population… 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000.”

Alison Weir’s new book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

SELF-DEFENSE OR PROVOCATION?

Israel’s history of breaking ceasefires, 1949-2012 
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| Warmongers: ‘Gosh, Are They Still At It?’ An Appeal For Support!

‘Gosh, Are They Still At It?’ An Appeal For Support ~ Media Lens.

A Media Lens reader quipped recently that he had discovered a solution to the climate crisis. Simply harnessing the energy produced by Orwell turning in his grave would provide a limitless source of cheap, clean energy.

The comment was prompted by the decidedly Orwellian news that the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland had been awarded the Orwell Prize for political writing. Orwell must have been spinning like a top to have his name linked with a journalist who works so hard to sell Western ‘intervention’. In March 1999, Freedland wrote:

‘How did the British left get so lost? How have its leading lights ended up as the voices of isolationism? How did it come to this…? Why is it the hard left – rather than the isolationist right – who have become the champions of moral indifference? For, make no mistake, that’s what opposition to Nato’s attempt to Clobba Slobba (as the Sun puts it) amounts to… either the West could try to halt the greatest campaign of barbarism in Europe since 1945 – or it could do nothing.’ (Jonathan Freedland, ‘The left needs to wake up to the real world. This war is a just one,’ The Guardian, March 26, 1999)

In a 2005 article on Iraq titled, ‘The war’s silver lining’, Freedland commented:

‘Tony Blair is not gloating. He could – but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called ‘the ripple of change’ now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq.

‘He could have said yes…’

On March 22, 2011, with Nato bombing underway in Libya, Freedland focused on how ‘in a global, interdependent world we have a “responsibility to protect” each other’. The article was titled:

‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong – Not to respond to Gaddafi’s chilling threats would leave us morally culpable, but action in Libya is fraught with danger.’

Ignoring the resultant chaos, Freedland wheeled out the same arguments in response to the Syrian crisis in 2012:

‘The 2003 invasion of Iraq has tainted for a generation the idea once known as “liberal interventionism”…. We have new problems now. Fail to see that and we make the people of Homs pay the price for the mistake we made in Baghdad.’

Despite this continuous warmongering, Freedland is deemed a sober, restrained commentator by his corporate peers. Ostensibly at the opposite end of the media ‘spectrum’ from the Guardian, David Aaronovitch of The Times responded to Freedland’s winning of the Orwell Prize: ‘Congratulations, J. My favourite award!’

Aaronovitch featured in many of our early alerts after we started Media Lens in July 2001. Like Freedland, he is a militant advocate for Western ‘intervention’, including the ‘Clobba Slobba’ war, famously declaring his willingness to join the fight himself (Aaronovitch, ‘My country needs me,’ The Independent, April 6, 1999). Aaronovitch also supported the case for Western attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria. This month, he once again called on ‘us’ to bomb Iraq:

‘We must do everything short of putting boots on the ground to help the Kurds to defend themselves against Isis and similar groups.’ (Aaronovitch, ‘Forget the past. Iraqi Kurds need our help now; The 2003 invasion is irrelevant to what is happening in Mosul now. What matters is preventing the advance of Isis,’ The Times, June 12, 2014)

Despite their enthusiasm for ‘intervention’, neither Freedland nor Aaronovitch has ever proposed bombing Israel for its enormous crimes against the captive Palestinian population – a fine example of Orwellian ‘doublethink’. Freedland merely shakes his head sadly and asks if Israelis and Palestinians will be ‘locked in a battle that drags on and on, perhaps till the end of time?’

 

YES, WE’RE STILL AT IT

That warmongers like Aaronovitch and Freedland can still hold down senior positions in the media means there is a desperate need for analysis that punctures the façade of liberal journalism.

A key problem is that corporate journalists cannot or will not criticise either their own employers or potential future employers. Like all corporate employees, journalists who criticise their industry are unlikely to be embraced by any media corporation. This is why Freedland, Aaronovitch, the Guardian and the Independent are almost never subjected to honest criticism from a left perspective. On the contrary, aspirant left writers bend over backwards to praise corporate journalists and media, as do ambitious executives in every industry.

Last month, environment writer Paul Kingsnorth tweeted in mock surprise about Media Lens:

‘Gosh, are they still at it?’

Over ten years ago, when Media Lens was but a toddler, Kingsnorth had been on the staff of The Ecologist where we had a regular ‘Media Watch’ column. The editors quickly tired of what was perceived as our relentless ‘attacks’ on the liberal media, notably the Guardian. Surely there were ‘better’ targets – the Mail, the Sun, The Times and so on? The end came when we wrote critically about the Guardian’s John Vidal, a friend and ally of the magazine. We were making life difficult for their pals at the Guardian – the supposed flagship of environmental journalism – and perhaps an outlet they themselves aspired to write for.

By contrast, many of our readers understand our stance perfectly. One wrote to us earlier this year:

‘many of your criticisms are aimed at the so called liberal media such as the Guardian because if they can’t get it right who can?’

We even received an email from a Guardian insider who told us he had worked on its Environment section which he had seen turn into ‘the vehicle for corporate greenwash that it represents today.’ With careful understatement, he added a more general observation about the paper:

‘It may well be too late for the Guardian as a news organisation’.

He praised Media Lens:

‘[I] recognise the integrity and courage that you have demonstrated, particularly in the face of so much criticism, much of it, sadly, from liberal journalists, some of whom really should have known better, not to mention the brilliant journalistic exposes and fine writing on the murky world of modern journalism.’

Thirteen years after Media Lens was set up, we are indeed ‘still at it’; and in no small part because of the financial support we receive from many hundreds of people every month. We originally worked in what spare time we could find away from other, paid employment before sufficient income allowed both editors to go full-time on Media Lens: first David Edwards (in 2003) and then David Cromwell (in 2010). We are 100% reliant on public support; we take no funding from other sources (nor do we seek it). We are immensely grateful to everyone who sends us donations, large or small, whether one-off or regular amounts.

As regular readers will know, around once a week we send out a media alert – an in-depth analysis of a vital issue ignored or badly skewed in the corporate media. Every day, we post frequent observations, comments and useful links via our message board, Twitter feed and Facebook page. We also publish occasional Cogitations on more spiritual, philosophical themes. Everything we do is free of charge. If you feel you are in a position to support us, we would be very grateful for any donation you are able to make via one of the available methods outlined on our Donate page.

Whether you are able to send a donation or not, we value the contributions you make with your feedback, suggestions and in sharing our work with others.

This Alert is Archived here:
‘Gosh, Are They Still At It?’ An Appeal For Support

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| The random Muslim scare story generator: separating fact from fiction!

The random Muslim scare story generator: separating fact from fiction ~ The Guardian.

Halal meat is on every menu; sharia law is taking over; the niqab is undermining the nation. Ever noticed how often the same old stories keep appearing about Muslims in Britain? Here’s the truth about these and other media myths.

In Britain, there is now a cycle of Islamic scare stories so regular that it is almost comforting, like the changing of the seasons. Sadly, this rotation is not as natural, or as benign, although it is beginning to feel just as inevitable. We had the niqab winter last year, as the country lurched into the niqab debate for the second time in three years. Now we are in the spring of halal slaughter.

Muslims ate my hamster front page

The headline you haven’t read anywhere … yet. Photograph: Guardian

Add to this schedule the routine reports about gender segregation in UK universities and Muslim schools (as if the concept of gender segregation was somehow exotic to non-faith schools in the UK), claims of grandplans to “overthrow” non-Muslim heads of certain schools and you have a steady flow of creeping sharia messages, stoking a fear of a stealthy, incremental Islamicisation.

Channel 4’s Ramadan coverage last year drew 2,011 complaints, the majority objecting to the broadcast of the call to prayer, a two-minute transmission. This reflects an increasing nationwide umbrage towards visible British Muslims, informed by repetitive stories that inaccurately amplify their religiously motivated activity.

Underpinning it is a common theme: that there is an ever more muscular and intimidating Muslim minority demanding special rights from a cowed and pandering, lily-livered body politic muzzled by “multicultural Britain” – rather than simply attempting to adapt and integrate, as immigrants of all religions have been doing in the UK for centuries. It’s not hard to see how this constant blurring of facts generates the mood music of anti-immigration rightwingers and establishes common misconceptions about Muslims.

But the threat of a creeping sharia never seems to materialise. It seems to be more of a crawling sharia, so slowly has the Islamist takeover of Britain been, in contrast to the constant media warnings of its imminent arrival.

The focus far outstrips the size and political activity of the minority, which number 2.7 million (less than 5% of the population), not all of whom are practising Muslims. The Islamic scare story plays to a nexus of easy media sensationalism, a portion of the public primed and ready to believe the worst, and an interested rightwing element for whom it is a convenient vehicle for their anti-immigration views, xenophobia, or just Islamophobia.

But with each reincarnation of a creeping Islamic threat, the gulf between the facts and what is reported widens. The following are some of the most popular examples – and the facts that discredit them.

Woman wearing a niqab
Does this woman pose a threat to the British way of life? Photograph: Alamy

The niqab

One of the most helpful exercises is to present some estimation of how many women actually wear the niqab, the face veil, in any given European country in which there is controversy about it. The estimates are so small that they cool a usually heated debate. In France, which banned them in public in 2011, it is estimated as between 400 and 2,000, ie not even 0.1% of the population. In the UK, approximations suggest that the numbers are “extremely low”. Among practising Muslim women, niqab wearers are more of a minority than women who do not even wear the hijab, the head scarf. You are far more likely in the UK to meet a Muslim woman in jeans and a T-shirt than you are to meet one in a niqab. It seems embarrassing that politicians and media professional should dedicate so much time to agonising over the issue.

Politicians are the worst culprits for recycling the niqab debate. Philip Hollobone, a member of parliament, was so moved by the plight of women in niqabs that he proposed to ban them from his constituency office. Security concerns over ID and testifying in court are utterly unfounded: women are required to take off their niqabs for identification purposes – for drivers’ licences etc – and they overwhelmingly comply. Once the security concerns are dispensed with, the last retreat of the niqab botherers is that the debate is out of anxiety for these women. But there has not yet been a single incident where the niqab debate was instigated by Muslim women themselves.

Muslim grooming gangs

In 2012, nine men were convicted of child exploitation and grooming of vulnerable young girls in Rochdale. Similar grooming gangs were identified in Derby, Rotherham and Oxford. Rather than the colour orreligion of the assailant being incidental to the crime – which is taken for granted when they are white or Christian – the fact that these grooming gangs were Asian and Muslim, and their victims white, became central to their offences in public discourse and media coverage. How was this done? Newspaper articlesradio shows and TV panel discussionsadopted, discussed and repeated the claim of Muslim grooming and abuse. By popularising a notion that their crimes were somehow mandated by a sharia law that condoned sexual exploitation of non-Muslims. That is, not only is their religion relevant, it is blessing their crimes, or at least informing their culture. This was simply not true but it was repeated and sublimated into fact. Rod Liddle in the Spectatorapproached this pivotal point, the purported reasoning for the entire grooming phenomenon, by saying: “Is there something within the religion or ideology of Islam which somehow encourages, or merely facilitates, extremist Muslim maniacs to maim or kill non-Muslims? I think there probably is. But you can’t say that.”

There you have it. He thinks there probably is. Never mind reports that Muslim girls were abused as well. Conveniently, this worldview chimes with the politically correct liberal somewhere out there who would rather your daughters were sexually groomed than dare call something out as related to religion.

Since Operation Yewtree started, there has been a healthy debate about sexism in the UK – the impunity of male celebrities, the cultural tolerance of sexual activity with minors and so on. But this nuance was not applied to the “Muslim grooming gangs”, a description about as unhelpful as  the “Christian paedophile Jimmy Savile”. It was a scenario in which a factually erroneous religious justification was used to explain an anomalous episode.

Sharia Council of BritainMembers of the Sharia Council of Britain preside over marital cases at their east London headquarters. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

Sharia courts

There have been two recent flare-ups of the sharia courts and “parallel Islamic law” scare story. In 2011, a bill was tabled in parliament to address concerns over sharia arbitration, and in early 2014 solicitors were allowed to draw up sharia-compliant wills, leading the Sunday Telegraph to pronounce that “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”.

Since 2009, there have been sharia court investigations by the Independent, the Telegraph and the BBC. The political momentum against these courts is primarily from Baroness Cox, a crossbench member of the House of Lords and self-proclaimed “voice of the voiceless” Muslim women, who she claims are being victimised.

Of all the Muslim threats, this seems the most potent. It actually has “sharia” in the name. UK law has some scope to acknowledge thecustomary or religious laws of both Jews and Muslims. But going by the coverage, it would seem it is only Muslims that have both demanded and been granted exception. On closer inspection, it is clear sharia courts only have jurisdiction on civil matters and everyone must opt in to a sharia court. They only have an advisory capacity and address mainly property and financial matters, and rulings are then only enforceable by civil courts. In many cases, they are understaffed affairs, where one official settles petty disputes and draws up rudimentary documents.

The creeping sharia courts’ “astonishing spread” was first reported by the Daily Mail in 2009. At the time, there were reportedly “no fewer than 85”. In the most recent Daily Mail report on the issue in 2014, the number was, despite the warning about the pace of change whereby Islamic law was cannibalising British secular law, still “no fewer than 85”.

Halal meat sign
Meat of the matter: a butcher’s window ineast London advertising halal meat. Photograph: Alex Segre/Alamy

Islamic banking

The most recent episode of this was a report that Lloyds TSB in the UK had reduced or eliminated overdraft fees on its Islamic bank accounts. This apparently “special treatment” might suggest that banks are overturning their commercial interests to keep customers happy. This alone should be a clear alert that the story is bunkum. When have you known a bank to do that? The reality is that Islamic bank accounts are, in fact, on average more costly for customers. Interest rates (yes, they are charged on Islamic bank accounts, under different mechanisms, usually fixed transaction fees) are often higher than the secular high street. More crucially, as Lloyds itself has explained, Islamic accounts “do not offer credit interest or other features that are available on our other products. A comparison with the overdraft charging structure on other accounts is meaningless.” The question shouldn’t have been, “Want to avoid overdraft fees? Open an Islamic bank account”, but: “Want to avoid overdraft fees? Open an Islamic bank account where you will not receive any interest on savings or deposits.” Again, this is a recycled story from 2009, so it is not an exposé.

Halal slaughter

According to recent tabloid newspaper “revelations”, halal meat is being slipped into food at major supermarkets, and Pizza Express has been “exposed” for stealthily replacing its chicken supply with halal poultry. Halal meat must come from animals that were killed with a cut to the throat, allowing all the blood to drain from the carcass. In the past four years, the UK media has broken the story to the British public at least a dozen times, warning about the widespread use of halal meat, yet somehow every new headline presents it as a new finding. In the latest Pizza Express episode, where the claim was that the chain was surreptitiously slipping halal chicken on to its menu, there was no secrecy at all: the chain’s website clearly states it uses halal chicken.

The “secret” element, a popular angle in the halal story, serves to support the alarm that people are being hoodwinked by Muslims sneaking their way of life into the mainstream.

The supposed objection is that halal slaughter is a less humane method of terminating an animal than the supposedly more palatable methods of stunning, electrocution and gassing. But according to a 2012 Food Standards Agency report cited by the RSPCA, 97% of cattle, 96% of poultry and 90% of sheep slaughtered using the halal method in UK abattoirs are stunned first, desensitising the animal to pain. If the objection were really about the distress of slaughter, it would therefore apply to only a tiny proportion of halal meat.

The most recycled of stories, the halal debate began in earnest in 2003, with a Farm Animal Welfare Council report that recommended stunning for halal and kosher slaughter. Since then, every time the issue of religiously compliant slaughter has been resurrected, the kosher element has been less and less prominent, rendering it less an animal rights issue, and more an irrational rejection of halal slaughter as something tainted with something intangibly Muslim. In a nation that has been enjoying halal meat for years in curries, kebabs and shawarmas, the halal debate has distorted and hijacked the welfare dimension, in order to channel nasty resentment that a minority you don’t like is being accommodated.

| Drones come back with footage of Fukushima destructions three years after earthquake!

Drones come back with footage of Fukushima destructions three years after earthquake ~ The Voice of Russia.

Three years has passed since the major disaster in Fukushima Daiichi and despite all the efforts of Japan government the big part of the east coast of Japan still remains desolated. The nuclear disaster in Fukushima still poses the continued risk of radiation to human workers, which led to the necessity to send drones to record the current situation on the coast.

Drones come back with footage of Fukushima destructions three years after earthquake

The drones have captured the level of devastation during their mission through the host towns of Japan. Abandoned houses, empty roads and lots of destruction could be seen on the videos and pictures published in the Internet.

One of the drones came back with an eight-minute video and with radioactive soil on the machine itself. The video shows the level of destruction that was caused during the Tohoku 9.0 earthquake in 2011.

The drone has captured an abandoned train station, the remains of the school building and a huge boat that is laying miles from the sea. The Cherry tree is blossoming right next to the destroyed buildings and personal possessions that people left when escaping.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster led to the failure at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on 11 March 2011. The plant was hit by a tsunami, which was caused by a powerful earthquake.

Three out of six nuclear reactors went down and released the radioactive materials. According to the reports, the soil and water in the region is still filled with high level of radiation.

The population of the Tokioma was more than 15,800 residents. A total of 300,000 people evacuated the Fukushima area.

Read also:

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| Beyond John Kerry’s “Israeli apartheid” moment!

Beyond John Kerry’s “Israeli apartheid” moment ~ Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis.

 

It would seem that recurring exposure to Israel and its repulsive Zionist leaders over the past nine months is forcing the truth upon the US secretary of state, John Kerry.

Speaking at a closed meeting of the Trilateral Commission on 25 April, he warned that if Israel doesn’t make peace soon, it could become “an apartheid state”, like the old South Africa, the Daily Beast news website reports.

“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry told the gathering of senior officials and experts from the US, Western Europe, Russia and Japan. “Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to,” he added.

In a further outburst of truth at the same meeting, Kerry lashed out against Israel’s Jewish squatter colony-building programme. “There is a fundamental confrontation and it is over settlements. Fourteen thousand new settlement units announced since we began negotiations. It’s very difficult for any leader to deal under that cloud,” he said.

Kerry’s rendezvous with the truth about Israel had surfaced in earnest on 7 April, when he openly blamed Israel for the breakdown of peace talks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Tip of the apartheid iceberg

But Kerry doesn’t seem to be quite ready to admit the full extent to which Israel is already an apartheid state.

As the journalist Jonathan Cook has stated,

When people call Israel an apartheid state, they are referring to the crime of apartheid as defined in international law. According to the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, apartheid comprises inhumane acts “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”.

In this regard, Israeli apartheid is far wider than the institutionalized discrimination practised against the Palestinians in the occupied territories and the preferential treatment enjoyed by the Jewish squatters in the territories.

As Cook reminds us,

  • Israel has nationalized 93 per cent of Palestinian-owned land in the country so that Jewish citizens can exclude Palestinian Arab citizens;

  • Israel has separate citizenship laws – the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952) – based on ethnic belonging;

  • Israel has designed its citizenship laws to confer rights on Jews who are not actually yet citizens or present in the state, privileging them over Palestinian Arabs who do have citizenship and are present in the state;

  • Israel defers some of what should be its sovereign powers to extra-territorial bodies – the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund – whose charters obligate them to discriminate based on ethnic belonging;

That is apartheid pure and simple.

Déjà vu

John Kerry has taken a few small steps towards publicly acknowledging the unpleasant reality of Zionist Israel. His journey is reminiscent of that of a former US secretary of state, James Baker, who 24 years ago publicly rebuked the Israelis for obstructing US efforts to start peace talks with the Palestinians, and invited them to call the White House when they are ready for peace.

The question now is whether Kerry will go where Baker did not and actually do something about it, or whether he will sit back and content himself with airing his frustration, as if that would magically resolve the problem.

In his 25 April speech to the Trilateral Commission, Kerry hinted at what he might do if the Israelis continue to obstruct peace.

According to the Daily Beast, he said that he was considering publicly laying out a comprehensive US plan for a final agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, in a last-ditch effort to forge a deal before the Obama administration leaves office in 2017.

“We have enough time to do any number of things, including the potential at some point in time that we will just put something out there. ‘Here it is, folks. This is what it looks like. Take it or leave it,’” Kerry said

If that is literally Washington’s final trump card, then it does not take a genius to guess how the Israelis will respond.

But if Kerry’s “take it or leave it” is a diplomat’s way of saying “there will be consequences for taking it and other, unpleasant consequences for leaving it, then Tel Aviv might begin to take him seriously.

APARTHEIDSTATE

 

| Nairobi: Interpol seeks UK woman Samantha Lewthwaite’s arrest!

Interpol seeks UK woman Samantha Lewthwaite’s arrest ~ BBC.

Self-portrait of Samantha Lewthwaite found on laptop by police
Samantha Lewthwaite is “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony”

International police body Interpol has issued a wanted persons notice for Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, at Kenya’s request.

Ms Lewthwaite is the widow of one of the four suicide bombers who attacked London on 7 July 2005.

Known colloquially as the “white widow”, she has been linked with Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

The group was behind the attack on the Westgate shopping complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, at the weekend.

The assault and subsequent four-day siege left at least 67 people dead.

An Interpol statement said the 29-year-old was “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011”.

The Interpol alert, known as a “Red Notice“, requires member countries to detain the suspect pending extradition procedures.

Interpol did not link the warrant to the Nairobi attack, but it comes after much speculation linking Ms Lewthwaite to events at the Westgate complex.

Kenya is continuing three days of official mourning for both the civilian and military victims of the siege.

The funeral of pregnant television and radio star Ruhila Adatia-Sood was one of many being held on Thursday.

Flags are flying at half mast amid visibly tighter security around the Kenyan capital. Security guards were scanning passengers with metal detectors before they boarded buses.

Amid rising concern among Kenyans over the authorities’ preparedness for such an attack, reports are emerging that the country’s counter-terrorism strategy and its disaster response co-ordination will now be reviewed.

Related Stories

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| NSA: Documents show US spied on Martin Luther King!

Documents show US spied on Martin Luther King ~ Al Jazeera.

Newly declassified documents show NSA spied on the civil rights icon, boxer Muhammad Ali and other Vietnam war critics.

The targets of the six-year ‘Miniret’ surveillance programme had been kept secret until now [EPA] [EPA]
The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States eavesdropped on civil rights icon Martin Luther King and heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali as well as other leading critics of the Vietnam War in a secret programme later deemed “disreputable,” declassified documents have revealed.

The six-year spying programme, dubbed “Minaret,” had been exposed in the 1970s but the targets of the surveillance had been kept secret until now.

The documents showed the NSA tracked King and his colleague Whitney Young, boxing star Ali, journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post, and two members of Congress, Senator Frank Church of Idaho and Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee.

The documents were published on Wednesday after the government panel overseeing classification ruled in favour of researchers at George Washington University who had long sought the release of the secret papers.

The intensity of anti-war dissent at home led President Lyndon Johnson to ask US intelligence agencies in 1967 to find out if some protests were fuelled by foreign powers. The NSA worked with other spy agencies to draw up “watch lists” of anti-war critics to tap their overseas phone calls.

The programme continued after Richard Nixon entered the White House in 1969, and historians say it reflected a climate of paranoia pervading his presidency.

US Attorney General Elliot Richardson shut down the NSA programme in 1973, just as the Nixon administration was engulfed in scandal.

Recent violations

The NSA has been accused of overstepping its authority and flouting civil rights protections since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The agency carried out warrantless wiretapping between 2001-2004 and recent revelations from US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden have exposed far-reaching electronic surveillance of phone records and internet traffic.

The researchers who published the documents said the spying abuses during the Vietnam War era far surpass the excesses of the current programme.

“As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today’s signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House’s political enemies,” wrote Matthew Aid and William Burr for George Washington University’s National Security Archive, a research institute that seeks to check government secrecy.

 

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