#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”

#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

| The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear!

The Palestinian message to Israel: Deal with us justly. Or disappear ~ Jeff Halper, Mondoweiss.

Until Operation Protective Edge, most of the “messaging” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, certainly that which broke through the mainstream media, came from the Israeli side. Since Zionism’s official beginnings in Palestine some 110 years ago, the Jewish community, whether the pre-state Yishuv or constituted as the state of Israel, never took the Palestinians seriously. They were dark-skinned “natives” wrapped sinisterly in kafiyas, fedayeen or terrorists without names, history or humanity, an existential threat subsumed under the rubric “Arabs.” In 1967, when Israel finally came face to face with an organized, visible, politically aware Palestinian society, the idea of talking to them did not even occur to Israel’s leaders. They preferred to take what land and resources they wanted from the West Bank and “return” its Palestinian population to Jordan. (No one until this day in Israel has the faintest idea what to do with Gaza, except isolate it.) One Prime Minister, Golda Meir, even denied vociferously and derisively that a “Palestinian” people even existed. No Israeli government ever acknowledged the national rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination in their own country, even in a tiny, truncated state on parts of the Occupied Territory. In the brightest days of the Oslo “peace process,” all a Labor/Meretz government agreed to do was recognize the PLO as a negotiating partner. It never accepted the idea of a truly sovereign, viable Palestinian state, even if demilitarized and arising on but a fifth of historic Palestine.

To be sure, the Palestinian people resisted and, when possible, tried to negotiate. Their leadership was often weak, but we must remember that since 1948, when the nascent IDF went from village to village with ledgers containing the names of those who should be assassinated, until the attempted assassination of Muhammed Deif a few days ago, Israel has conducted a systematic campaign of eliminating by murder or imprisonment any Palestinian showing real or potential leadership. Fearful of giving any credit to Palestinian peace-making lest it undermine their own absolute claims by legitimizing a Palestinian “side,” Israelis forget and deride any Palestinian hand reaching out to them. Who remembers, for example, the moving words of Yasser Arafat at the (unsuccessful) conclusion of the Wye Plantation negotiations in 1998?  That’s when Netanyahu decided to stop agreed-upon Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank and his Foreign Minister Sharon publically called on the settlers to “grab every hilltop.” Nonetheless, in the concluding press conference, with nothing to gain and no prompting, Arafat said:

I am quite confident that I’m talking in the name of all Palestinians when I assure you that we are all committed to the security of every child, woman and man in Israel. I will do everything I can so that no Israeli mother will be worried if her son or daughter is late coming home, or any Israeli would be afraid when they heard an explosion.

The Palestinians’ messaging of peace, security and, yes, justice, was always buried under Israeli spin. At that very same Wye Plantation meeting, Sharon demonstrably refused to shake Arafat’s hand before the cameras. “Shake the hand of that dog?” he told reporters: “Never.” Mahmoud Abbas has gotten little better from Sharon or Netanyahu, despite repeated televised meetings with Israeli students, Knesset members or anyone else willing to listen to his pleas for peace, even at the price of giving up parts of East Jerusalem and some major settlement blocs. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority bear their share of the responsibility for this as well. For his own reasons Abbas has silenced his most articulate spokespeople, filled his Authority’s diplomatic posts for the most part with ineffective political hacks and makes it almost impossible for reporters to get information or responses – all in contrast to Israel’s vaunted hasbara and legions of professional spin-doctors. As a result, there has been little official Palestinian messaging at all. What has saved the day until now has been the efforts of civil society supporters of the Palestinian cause: the contributors to the Electronic Intifada, articulate Palestinian activists and academics on al Shabaka, events and actions initiated on campuses by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the myriad analysts, activists and organizations of the international civil society, including critical Israeli ones, not to forget the growing BDS movement.

That seemed to change suddenly when, on August 26th, Israel announced that it had accepted a permanent cease-fire with no pre-conditions, to be followed by a month of negotiations over issues of concern to Gazans – opening borders, reconstruction under international supervision, the rebuilding of the airport and seaport, ending restrictions on Palestinian fishing and on farming in the “buffer zone,” the reopening of the “safe passage” to the West Bank, release of prisoners and more. Hamas, who led the confrontation with Israel, was careful not to disconnect Gaza from the wider struggle for Palestinian national rights. It was Abbas who announced the cease-fire, not Khaled Mashal or Ismail Haniya, stressing that the struggle was a Palestinian one, not merely Gazan. In fact, although Netanyahu initiated Operation Protective Edge with an eye to destroying a Palestinian Unity Government of Fatah/Hamas, he ended up strengthening it. Hamas emerged the darling of the Palestinian people, as least as far as resistance goes. It was announced that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would be joining the PLO. And, in order to allow a kind of civil relationship with Egypt, Hamas lowered its pan-Islam Muslim Brotherhood profile in favor of its Palestinian one.

Still, the messaging belonged to Hamas, the ones who not only confront the Israeli Occupation but who have seized the political initiative from it. In stark contrast to Abbas, who has declared security cooperation with Israel to be “sacred” and who passively allows Israel to take effective control of Area C, the 62% of the West Bank where the settlements, the massive matrix of Israeli highways and the Separation Barrier spell the end of the two-state solution, Hamas has sent a clear and forceful message to Israel: We won’t submit even if you kill us. Deal with us justly – or disappear.

Yes, even in its moment of triumph – an Israeli commentator wryly noted on TV this week that “a Six Day War this will not be,” and polls show that 59% of Israelis do not believe Israel won – Hamas has left the door open to a two-state solution. Their position, as I understand it and as set out in the Prisoners’ National Conciliation Document of 2006, is nuanced but principled and coherent. Hamas and Jihad reject utterly the legitimacy of Israel, viewing it as a settler colonial state, and thus reject any negotiations with it or any subsequent recognition. That said, if other Palestinian parties (i.e. Fatah) enter into negotiations with Israel and the outcome is a total withdrawal from the Occupied Territory based on conditions that would allow a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state to arise, and if such a outcome would be approved by a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, Hamas and Jihad would respect that as the voice of the Palestinian people. Thus, while still rejecting the legitimacy of Israel in principle, Hamas has agreed to join a Unity Government that accepts the two-state solution – enough for the Netanyahu government to try and break it apart. Hence Hamas’s post-Operation Protective Edge message to Israel: deal with us justly – or disappear. This is your last chance. The alternative to the two-state solution, which few Palestinians believe is still possible, and rightly so, is a single state. That’s a democratic state in the eyes of the Palestinian left, an Algeria-like situation in which the colonialists leave in the eyes of Hamas and Jihad.

This should give Israel pause, although ironically it is Israel that has eliminated the two-state solution and has left a single state – an apartheid one in the eyes of all Israeli governments, including Labor – as the only other option. Indeed, just last month Netanyahu said publicly: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” For 110 years “practical Zionism” has believed it can beat the natives, that it can judaize Palestine and, with its metaphorical and physical Iron Walls, cause “the Arabs” to despair of the Land of Israel ever becoming Palestine.

Well, Israel has given it its best shot. After grabbing almost all the land, driving most of the Palestinians out, imprisoning and impoverishing them in tiny enclaves in both Israel and the Occupied Territory, after burying the Palestinian presence and patrimony under Israeli-only cities, towns, kibbutzim and national parks, after assassinating its leaders and leaving its youth with no hope of a future, it now brings the full force of one of the best-equipped militaries in the world against two million poor people living in an area the size of Mobile, Alabama. More than 2000 killed in Gaza, another 12,000 injured. Some 20,000 homes destroyed, 475,000 people displaced. Six billion dollars in damage to buildings and infrastructure. And for what? Israel may have finally discovered the limits of force and violence. After taking its best shots for more than a century – and, it is true, dealing the Palestinians devastating blows, as Netanyahu and the IDF proudly claim – Israel has gained one thing: an opportunity before it is too late to learn that the Palestinians cannot be beaten militarily, that Israel itself will never know security and normal life for all the “blows” it administers the Palestinians, as long as it maintains its Occupation. Indeed, for all its strength, it is liable to disappear if it doesn’t deal justly with the natives.

At least Abbas seems to have gotten the message. He now discards further pointless negotiations with Israel as brokered by the US, preferring to have the UN set a target date for Israeli withdrawal, and perhaps going to the International Criminal Court. Hamas is likely to prevent any backsliding on his part. Maybe Israel will never get the message, its hubris blinding it to tectonic shifts in the geopolitical landscape, especially among the people of the world. But the collapse is happening. Perhaps slower than in apartheid South Africa, the Soviet Union, the Shah’s Iran or Mubarak’s Egypt, but happening none the less. Having lost the power of deterrence, Israel will either have to deal justly with the Palestinians or, indeed, disappear.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: AP) 



prozac nutty yahooA


| Action Alert: Open letter to Daily Mail – East Jerusalem is NOT the capital of Israel!‏

FOA open letter to Daily MailEast Jerusalem is NOT the capital of Israel! ~ FOA.

FOA responds with an open letter to the Daily Mail following the publication of a highly misleading Travel article on Jerusalem.


Dear Editor,

Re: Holy Amazing? A Conspicuous Absence of Context and Truth

Frank Barrett‘s article on travel in Israel is rather like an Alice in Wonderland tale where fact and fiction have been weaved together to produce a dreamlike destination which travellers would be foolish to believe. But our concern is more with the factual errors and the clearly misleading propositions which Mr Barrett states without apology or exception.

The article leads by stating that Tel-Aviv is Israel’s second city. This imbues that Jerusalem is Israel’s first city which is a pretence being promoted by Israel in every sector possible, including tourism. Jerusalem is in fact split into East and West, and the holy religious sites to which Mr Barrett refers are in Palestinian East Jerusalem. While Israel maybe illegally occupying this land, it is not the custodian of these sites as Mr Barrett misleads readers into believing. The control and ownership rest with Palestinian Christians; just as the Islamic holy sites’ rests with Palestinian Muslims.

Jerusalem has religious significance for all three of these faith groups and the international community has made clear its position on Israel’s illegal attempts to annex East Jerusalem by refusing to move their embassies from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Thus, despite that fact that all embassies are in Tel-Aviv, Mr Barrett still suggests Tel-Aviv is Israel’s second city.

The article is a clear journey through Israel by someone who is determined to see a peaceful nation without a troubled past or present. He rather naively suggests that no conflicts exist between Jews and Arabs (Muslims and Christian) and that there is very little security presence. In actual fact, each year, the former Bishop of Jerusalem Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal, makes a call to Christians around the globe to stand up against the oppressive Israeli controls which are preventing Christian tourists from visiting Bethlehem, leaving it a ghost town while the world marks Christmas with lights and celebrations.

Further, it is clear from ethnic travellers’ experiences that a proviso should in the least be included: If you are a Christian or Muslim tourist from an ethnic background, expect to be delayed at Tel-Aviv airport and harassed for hours with benign and aimless questioning until you are either barred entry or allowed onwards on your journey.

Mr Barrett’s article is false and misleading in a number of places and a correction should be printed forthwith.

Yours faithfully,

Ismail Patel

Chair, Friends of Al-Aqsa


Take Action

Please write to the Daily Mail asking for a correction to their article.

Email: corrections@mailonline.co.uk and editorial@dailymailonline.co.uk

You can also write in to: Managing Editor, Mail Online, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT

A suggested letter can be found below:

Dear Editor

Re: Holy amazing: Why Israel an amazing place for a holiday, and far more than a bible story (22 December 2013)

Frank Barrett’s article on travel in Israel is highly misleading. It suggests that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and its first city while relegating the true capital (Tel-Aviv) to second city status. Jerusalem is in fact divided into East and West, and East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory wherein you will find the holy sites which Barrett speaks of.

The Daily Mail is misleading readers into believing what is basically Israeli misinformation which seeks to undermine the rightful Palestinian heritage within Jerusalem. Both the international community and international law uphold Palestinian rights to East Jerusalem.

An apology and correction should be published as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,



Friends of Al-Aqsa Donate to Friends of Al-Aqsa Friends of Al-Aqsa Facebook Friends of Al-Aqsa Twitter

Friends of Al-Aqsa is a UK based non-profit making NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem. This vision is supported by various international groups and organisations. Friends of Al-Aqsa was first established in 1997 and now has an international support base.



| Squatters on Crack! First UK now Romania and Netherlands object!

Israel’s isolation grows as it falls out with Romania and the Netherlands ~ Redress Information & Analysis.

It’s been yet another bad week for Israel.

First, its loyal poodle Britain fired its first-ever warning shot, signalling that it may have just about had enough of the apartheid state’s deceptions and violations of international law.

And now, the Zionist entity has got into a diplomatic row with Romania, which has told Tel Aviv that it will not allow Romanian construction workers to be employed in the illegal, Jews-only colonies in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s military radio reported on 10 December.

Differences between the two countries centre on Romania’s insistence that Israel guarantee that Romanian construction workers would not be employed on the Jewish colonies, which are considered illegal under international law.

As if this were not enough, the wrangle with Romania is Israel’s second diplomatic row with a European Union country this week following a dispute with the Netherlands over a new security scanner to be installed on the Gaza border that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was to have inaugurated on 1 December, the French news agency AFP reported.

The Dutch government had hoped the scanner would help increase the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank, but Israeli officials accused the Dutch of trying to impose “political conditions”.

Also on 1 December Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans refused to accept an Israeli military escort around Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank city of Hebron.

And there’s more to come. In January 2014 Israel can look forward to new EU guidelines coming into force, which ban the funding of projects linked to the Jews-only colonies in the occupied West Bank and the illegally annexed Arab East Jerusalem.


NuttyDivorce WallA1



| Unashamedly racist: Israel’s other silent war!

Israel’s other silent war ~

, Al Jazeera.

State-sponsored racism and discrimination against African migrants continue amid international media silence.

African immigrants face harassment and deportation in Israel [Getty Images]
A recent Jerusalem Post op-ed on “South Africa’s obsession with Israel” resurrects complaints regarding the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which during its 2011 session in Cape Town concludedthat “Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.”

The op-ed author reasons that, “[i]f… supporters of the tribunal were honestly concerned with the lives of Palestinians, why then was there not a single word mentioned about the abuse of Palestinians by Arab regimes such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait, who keep them stateless, refuse them access to higher education and do not allow them the vote?”

This critique conveniently ignores the fact that Palestinian statelessness is a direct result of the establishment of Israel, whose initial crime of ethnic cleansing granted Arab regimes the opportunity to engage in such abuses.

Furthermore, none of these regimes is portrayed by the US political class and media as a highly ethical democracy meriting multibillion-dollar annual donations.

As it turns out, South Africa’s alleged “obsession” with Israel extends beyond the treatment of Palestinians. In 2012, a resolution was passed “abhor[ring] the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans”.

One could argue that, because Africans are also treated like excrement in other places around the globe, Israel is being unfairly singled out for criticism.

However, this debate is generally averted thanks to the relative silence surrounding the plight of Africans in Israel.

Battling the ‘cancer’

Among the diminutive ranks of the vocal minority is Israeli-Canadian journalist David Sheen, who reports relentlessly on the hazards to African existence in the Jewish state.

These range from verbal and physical abuse – including, for example, the pelting of African women and children with bottles, cassette players, and other impromptu projectiles and the firebombing of homes and daycares – to long-term incarceration in inhumane conditions without trial, to the mass secret forcible repatriation of Sudanese asylum seekers in violation of the UN convention on the status of refugees.

When Israel rounds up and deports African refugees, it makes a mockery of the millions of Jews who died during World War II because no one would grant them shelter.

– David Sheen, Israeli-Canadian journalist

In a May blog post for +972 Magazine, Sheen marked the one-year anniversary of the “anti-African pogrom” in Tel Aviv, when “a thousand Jewish Israelis ran rampant through the streets… smashing and looting African-operated businesses and physically assaulting any dark-skinned person they came across.”

The rioters were encouraged by the likes of lawmaker Miri Regev, who announced that African migrants are “a cancer in the body” of the nation – terminology generally reserved for Palestinians.

As Sheen notes, Regev “apologised after the violence, not to African asylum seekers, but to Israeli cancer victims, for comparing them to Africans – [and] was appointed by [PM Benjamin] Netanyahu to head the Knesset Interior Committee, the very body that decides the fate of those asylum seekers”.

Sheen’s fundraising campaign to write a book on the plight of African refugees in Israel has been met with widespread vitriol, including from Amir Mizroch, editor-in-chief of Israel Hayom English.

In an email, Sheen shared his response to Mizroch’s allegation that writing a book about racism against Africans in Israel without also discussing racism against Africans in Arab countries constitutes racism against Israelis: “When I mocked his logic, asking him if it was necessary, in order to put the reports in their proper context, for me to also be locked up in an underground jail and tortured – sadly, the fate of many of these African refugees before they arrive in Israel – Mizroch tweeted: “now THAT I’d pay to see ;)”.

It’s worth reiterating that the mistreatment of Africans in non-Israeli locales often occurs in the countries from which they have fled and to which Israel has no qualms about illegally deporting them. Netanyahu haspledged to rid the country of its “tens of thousands of infiltrators” from Africa.

Monochrome Judaism

The deployment of the term “infiltrators” to denote Africans in general, who are caricaturised as animalistic criminals responsible for many of Israel’s ills, is disturbingly reminiscent of other historical periods involving the scapegoating of ethnic minorities.

Sheen remarks: “When Israel rounds up and deports African refugees, it makes a mockery of the millions of Jews who died during World War II because no one would grant them shelter.”

Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon’s suggestion that the presence of Africans in Israel constitutes the establishment of “an enemy state of infiltrators” fails to account for the fact that the award for setting up adversarial countries on other people’s land goes to Israel itself.

Although the fundamental reason for restricting African access to Israel is to prevent a tipping of the demographic balance in favour of non-Jews, the circumstances facing Ethiopian Jewish immigrants indicate that religion only gets you so far. Lest the target national colour scheme be irreparably disrupted as well, Israel has been known to forcibly inject Ethiopian females with contraceptives.

Other partial exceptions to the goal of monochrome Judaism do, however, exist. Sheen noted in May: “Since Israel took over responsibility for reviewing refugee status requests from UNHCR, out of the 60,000 non-Jewish African asylum seekers living in Israel, Israel has approved only one single solitary application. And that one African woman that the State of Israel… has deigned to bequeath refugee status upon – is an albino“.

You want to convert this state into a state for all its citizens, and you will not succeed. We will stop you.

– David Rotem, Israel MP

As for the hyper-paranoid ruckus concerning the allegedly inherent criminality of Africans, such allegations don’t jibe with the statistics. As Sheen has documented, criminal behaviour is more prevalent among “veteran Israelis” than asylum seekers, but, while instances in whichAfricans accused of raping Jews produce calls for the indiscriminate deportation of refugees, no such hysteria is generated when the rapist is Jewish.

The hypocrisy is rendered even more acute by Israel’s institutionalised rape culture, of which Sheen provides a few contemporary examples:

“The Jerusalem chief of police was indicted for sex crimes involving nine female officers. An Israeli mayor charged with ‘repeatedly raping a female subordinate over a lengthy period of time was given no jail time, and [was]instead invited to attend an event organised by the municipality marking ‘International Women’s Day’.”

new video produced by Sheen and bestselling author Max Blumenthal features footage of Israeli defenders of African rights being serenaded by other members of the public with shouts like “May you be raped!”

‘Landscape of denial’

Originally solicited and then rejected by the New York Times, the video also includes an interview with former Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari, who declares: “We are waging a war against the phenomenon of assimilation.”

Given such candidness with regards to politically incorrect designs, the international media’s complicity in censoring reality is no doubt partly to thank for the upkeep of Israel’s image.

So, obviously, is Israel’s PR machine, which as Sheen points out is “[w]ell-oiled from decades of distributing disinformation about Palestinians”, and thus in a position to magically convert the horrendous treatment of Africans into a narrative of incomparable magnanimity.

The perpetuation of this narrative entails the attempted silencing of persons like Sheen, subject not only to verbal intimidation but also physical harassment.

The fabrications upon which the state of Israel teeters are meanwhile explored in a new documentary by Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky, On the Side of the Road, which tells the story “of those who fought to erase Palestine and created an Israeli landscape of denial”.

Parliamentarian David Rotem appears in Knesset footage in the film informing his detractors: “You want to convert this state into a state for all its citizens, and you will not succeed. We will stop you.”

So much for democracy.

Cast as existential threats to the Jewish state, Palestinians and Africans have served as targets for Israel’sPrevention of Infiltration Law, devised to thwart Palestinian homecoming, and updated in 2012 to provide for the instantaneous imprisonment without trial of Africans.

It seems, however, that a neurotic nation that depends upon the forgery of ubiquitous enemies to justify the wanton trampling of rights and dehumanising subjugation of the “Other” might indeed be its own worst adversary.

After all, as Israeli historian Avi Shlaim has warned: “A history which is no longer credible serves neither to legitimate the State nor to inspire… its citizenry.”

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.


| Zio-zombies harvesting human organs: Israel to return Palestinian body parts!

Israel to return Palestinian body parts ~ Jonathon Cook.

Remember back to 2009, when there was a huge row over allegations in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Israel had been secretly harvesting body parts from Palestinians in the occupied territories.

There were problems with this story, which suggested that Israel had a shoot-to-kill policy so that it could get organs from those it killed.

But Israel effectively shut down all debate about the story and the validity of any of its allegations by accusing anyone who mentioned organ harvesting in Israel of committing a “blood libel” against Israel / Jews.

I found myself caught up in the margins of this row. In the wake of the Swedish report, I submitted an article to the Guardian Comment is Free section making a point that was actually well known inside Israel at that time, though largely concealed to outside observers.

Israel has one forensic lab, known as Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv, where autopsies are carried out. The chief pathologist there, Prof Yehuda Hiss, had by the time the Swedish story broke been repeatedly pulled up for stealing body parts – and on an industrial scale. Not just from Palestinians but from Israelis too.

His office was found to contain thousands of preserved body parts; it seems he harvested them to use them in medical experiments because of a shortage of Israeli donors.

What was surprising was that, despite his being repeatedly investigated by the police and admitting to organ theft, Hiss was never jailed by the courts nor was he removed from Abu Kabir.

When I tried to publish this piece, which you can read here, the Guardian ran a mile, terrified of the “blood libel” accusation Israel was using very successfully to silence the media. It was one of many occasions when I personally experienced the Guardian pulling its punches to avoid upsetting Israel.

Now it seems, according to Israel Channel 2, Israel has very belatedly agreed to return some body parts to the Palestinian families whose loved ones were organ-harvested.

Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said: “The [former] director of the institute, Dr Yehuda Hiss, admitted to stealing organs of martyrs and other Palestinians during autopsies.”

The admission being referred to actually dates to an interview from 2000 with a US academic, nine years before the Aftonbladetreport, although it was only made widely public in 2010. Nonetheless, Hiss had admitted as much to the Israeli media, police and courts for many years.

In other words, Israel knew all along that the accusation of official complicity in the theft of body parts was no blood libel; it was the long-standing reality. So why do we need to read the Arab media to find out about it?

Related articles



| UK Zionists scramble to defend Israel!

UK Zionists scramble to defend Israel ~ Stuart LittlewoodRedress Information & Analysis.

BDS won’t work, Zio leaders tell Methodists!

Of course, it wasn’t going to be long before the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) stuck their oar into the Methodists’ big debate on BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel, which included a public consultation questionnaire.

The BoD has now pubished their 33-page “Response to the Methodist Church in Britain’s Inquiry into the Tactic of BDS”.

Vice-President Jonathan Arkush complains that “BDS has the unacceptable aim of delegitimizing Israel, encourages the rejectionists of peace, hurts moderates and sows divisions”, and activists should “invest in peace and reconciliation projects” instead.

Offensive presumptuousness and vacuous propaganda

The BoD evidently hopes enough people will accept its definition of the Holy Land situation without question, and to that end their document relies heavily on the scribblings of the propagandists in Tel Aviv. The “Introduction” and “Executive Summary” are so liberally laced with distortion that this reader had had enough after the first five pages . If I were a Methodist I’d be deeply offended by the BoD’s presumptuousness.

Here are some of the things they say:

We begin with a shared vision for peace and justice in the Holy Land. The majority of Israelis and Palestinians (as well as the British Jewish community) desire a two-state solution to end this conflict.

Does anyone seriously share the Jewish/Zionist establishment’s vision for the Holy Land? As more illegal “facts on the ground” are created with impunity by the Israeli regime the prospect of a two-state solution fair to both sides fades. It has already become unlikely, even impossible, say the experts. The point may have been reached where one-state is the only realistic answer.

BDS is a divisive strategy that seeks to strike at the legitimacy of Israel. 

The methods used to establish the Jewish state – terror, dispossession of its neighbours at gunpoint, disregard for the UN Partition Plan, defiance of international law, and without declaring its borders – are bound to invite questions about its legitimacy.

As a tactic, BDS has not shown any signs of success in resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. BDS actually hurts some of the most constructive voices on the Israeli side…

Constructive voices on the Israeli side, admirable and welcome as they are, have made little difference to the continuing illegal land-grab and colonization of Palestinian territory, destruction of Palestinian homes and theft of Palestinian natural resources. BDS activists, however, claim that their campaign is being felt in Tel Aviv. The desperate tone of the BoD response seems to confirms it.

It is a matter of common assent that, with the situation of ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, people of goodwill should investigate ways that might have a positive impact.

“Soft” measures have been tried for decades and the situation for the Palestinians has simply gone from bad to worse. Understandably, activists feel it’s time to play a more robust game – like BDS.

To those who are engaged in promoting peace, it is clear that BDS is a false choice, as there are far more positive and effective ways that people can and do act for peace in the Middle East.

Name any that have been effective. It’s no use supporting peace if you don’t also call for justice. Apart from BDS and European Union trade sanctions, the only action that’s likely to work is filing charges in the International Criminal Court.

This report will show why people supporting peace should reject the demonization and stigmatization that emanate from the BDS campaign, and instead together grasp the possibility of assisting those in the region seeking reconciliation and creating an environment conducive to reconciliation.

Reconciliation isn’t going to happen until justice is restored and the occupation ended.

The one-sided nature of BDS campaign, and its application to Israel alone among all the countries of the world, is also alarming for the Jewish community…

We are dealing with the Holy Land, not the rest of the world. The Holy Land is precious to the three main religions and cannot be under the domination of just one.

Justice and mercy are only found among those who are willing to walk humbly together – Micah.

Justice and mercy are nowhere to be found in Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine. Who wants to “walk humbly” with such cruel oppressors or their supporters?

The report will highlight the positive alternatives that promote dialogue and reconciliation, which we as faith communities can support together.

A failed formula.

For the realization of the two-state solution… there needs to be a culture of reconciliation, understanding and confidence building which is harmed by the divisive tactic of BDS.

No, there first needs to be an end to the illegal occupation, compliance with international law and respect for Palestinian rights to freedom of movement and self-determination.

In our view, the tactic of BDS has two principal, underlying motivations: one is to stigmatize Israel and force her hand in negotiations, the other is the desire to strike at the very legitimacy of the state of Israel, ultimately arguing for the dismantling of the world’s only Jewish state.

Israel is doing a very good job of stigmatizing itself. I doubt if the BDS campaign is actually aimed at dismantling the Jewish state. As far as I know it is intended only to persuade Israel to behave decently and restore to the Palestinians what is theirs – including their freedom and dignity. If the BoD doesn’t understand this basic requirement they are not going to be of much help.

The peace process: this section looks at the times that Israel has offered, or given, land in pursuit of a resolution to the conflict – never in response to the threat of BDS, but because of the incentive of a peaceful future. 

Returning stolen land is not a concession. Those so-called offers in any case placed severe restrictions on Palestinian sovereignty and self-determination, and proposed the sort of wretched subjugation no nation could possibly accept.

The “Apartheid” label: proponents of BDS attempt to tar Israel with the deliberately misleading label of “apartheid” as a means of eroding Israel’s legitimacy and justifying their campaign… the country is in no way comparable to apartheid South Africa.

Tell that to the Bedouin (see the JVP note below).

Jews are often sensitive to anti-Semitic motivations behind BDS, particularly when Israel, the Jewish state, is seen to be held to a double standard and singled out.

Civil society does not bow to Jewish/Israeli exceptionalism. We hold Israel to the same standards expected of all nations, even if our corrupted political leaders don’t. Israel, as we see on a daily basis, is a warmongering entity that thinks itself above the law, and its leaders are never held accountable for their monstrous crimes by those whose solemn duty is to do so. This is why civil society now finds it necessary to adopt measures like BDS.

BDS campaigners have often inflicted discomfort and intimidation on Jews in the UK. This has been in the forms of verbal abuse, disruptions to events as well as the targeting of kosher products.

This is regrettable, especially for those Jews who speak out and condemn the Israeli regime. Abuse is always unacceptable. But as Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former Israeli military intelligence chief warned, “Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world”.

BDS activists explicitly identify a settlement boycott as a mere stepping stone to a full boycott of Israel. Such a policy incorrectly places settlements as the key stumbling block, overlooking past Israeli territorial concessions for peace, ignoring terrorism…

We’re back to territorial concessions, which are not Israel’s to make. And who are the real terrorists in the Holy Land? See the death count kept by B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization. The non-stop confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli colonization is not a key stumbling block? Really?

Academic boycott: this is a particularly nasty form of boycott. The notion of discriminating against academics based on their nationality runs contrary to the principles of freedom of thought and the sharing of ideas that are crucial pillars of academia and universities.

So does preventing Palestinian students from travelling to universities abroad and freely returning. So too is the blocking of academics and others from the outside world visiting Gaza. And what about preventing Palestinian students in Gaza from attending their own excellent universities in the West Bank? The BoD would be wise to keep quiet about academic boycott.

Cultural boycott: much like the academic boycott this is not an expression of displeasure with certain policies of the Israeli government…

I’ve heard it said that culture is largely responsible for behaviour and therefore an issue.

…Rather it is an act of censorship against all Israelis, regardless of their views. 

Again, this is regrettable and not something many of us would wish to see. But Zionists are on dangerous ground lecturing others about censorship.

In spite of the efforts of the BDS campaign, Israel and the UK have an important and growing trade relationship and the consequences of boycotting Israel would cause significant harm to both societies. Israel is a leader in a number of sectors, including medicine…

The plug could and should be pulled on trade by implementing Clause 2 of the EU-Israel Agreement, which requires Israel to show respect for the human rights of the EU’s other partners, including Palestine. Israel has never complied with this essential condition. Suspension of trade would hurt Israel far more than the UK, although an exception might have to be made for medicinal products.

The BoD boasts that Teva is the largest supplier of medicines in the UK, but activists say pharmacists are issuing non-Israeli brands on request.

A better way: invest in peace. There are numerous projects that are bringing Israelis and Palestinians together, breaking down the barriers… It is through supporting and working with these admirable and inspiring initiatives that we can promote our shared aims of peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israelis and Palestinians.

Those “shared aims” again! Alas, Israel’s ideas of peace, security, equality, etc are very different from anyone else’s.

Playing fast and loose with the truth

Skimming the rest of the document I was disappointed to find old fairy tales shamefully retold. For example: “In 2005, Israel fully and unilaterally withdrew from Gaza”. The BoD knows perfectly well that Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters have remained permanently occupied by Israeli warplanes and gunboats, Gaza’s fishermen are still barred from most of their territorial waters and fishing grounds, Gaza’s borders to the outside world remain sealed and the sea lanes to Gaza’s port are still blockaded. And Gazans are denied access to their offshore gas field, which the Israelis are attempting to steal. Israel’s troops may have pulled out but their murderous incursions continue and so does the Israeli stranglehold. The bottom line is that Israel still controls virtually every aspect of life in Gaza and goes out of its way to ratchet-up the human misery.

And how about this? “Since 2005, there have been over 8,000 rockets fired at Israel; an average of three rockets aimed at Israeli civilians per day.” Eight thousand garden shed rockets, my-oh-my!  And how many state-of-the-art Israeli bombs, guided missiles, tank shells and other ordnance, including banned phosphorus explosives, have been launched from land, sea and air into the tightly-packed humanity of the Gaza Strip where civilians have nowhere to run or hide? The BoD doesn’t say.

Most of those primitive rockets from Gaza were fired at Sderot, which the Israelis bleat about so much. Sderot is built on stolen lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Najd, which was terrorized, seized and ethnically cleansed by Jewish militia in 1948. But the BoD doesn’t mention that either.

Playing fast and loose with simple truths only casts doubt on the veracity of anything they say.

The main thrust of the BoD’s response, as one would expect, is to steer people away from meaningful civil action and confine them to endlessly sterile interfaith waffle. I think everyone by now has concluded that’s a waste of time.

“If Israel’s elected officials think this is what democracy looks like…”

I have just received a note from Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voice for Peace which says:

In just a few days, the Israeli Knesset will debate the Prawer Plan, a proposal to forcibly remove over 40,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their ancestral homelands.

If we can get 20,000 names saying No to Prawer within the next 24 hours, our partner on the ground, avaaz.org, will hand-deliver our list to the Knesset.

Join the 18,000 who have already signed: www.jvp.org/StopPrawer

As US Secretary of State John Kerry urges both sides to negotiate for peace, the Prawer Plan highlights why peace talks haven’t worked: the plan was developed without the input of Bedouin communities directly affected by it, and treats Bedouin citizens of Israel and Jewish citizens differently.

If Israel’s elected officials think this is what democracy looks like, it is no wonder that illegal settlement-building has only increased during decades of so-called peace talks.

Thank heaven for organizations like JVP. There can surely be no doubt who Mr Arkush’s “rejectionists of peace” really are. Is the BoD planning to add their considerable weight to efforts to save the Bedouin? Or would such heroic reconciliation, which they preach, be inconvenient to the Jewish state’s relentless expansion?



Certified2nutty un 5

| Germany threatens ties with Israel ignoring UN human rights review!

Germany threatens ties with Israel over UN human rights review ~ AFP, www.albawaba.com.

Germany cautioned Israel Sunday that diplomatic ties could be damaged if the Jewish state failed to attend a periodic UN human rights review on Tuesday, according to AFP’s sources.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that, “On Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sent a personal letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that Israel’s failure to attend the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review would cause the country severe diplomatic damage and Israel’s allies around the world would be hard-pressed to help it.”
Israel has previously “cut all ties” with the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council who conducts the periodic review in March 2012. The decision to cut ties followed the council’s announcement that it was planning to investigate how Israeli settlements may “infringe” on the rights of Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office had no official comments for AFP at the time of the report’s release.
An Israeli official told AFP, under the condition of anonymity, that Tel Aviv has not yet officially decided whether or not to attend Tuesday’s periodic review in Geneva, but that a final decision would likely be made later Sunday.
Israel is the first country to boycott a council review of its human rights record. Israel has frequently accused the council of bias against the Jewish state, saying that it is the only country to have a specific agenda item dedicated to it at every council meeting.
Despite such criticism, Tel Aviv released statements in June that suggest that it may reopen relations with the council in the upcoming months.
Israel’s renewed calls for “ramping up” settlement construction in the West Bank has come under widespread criticism, particularly after last week’s announcement that settler houses in Hebron would be doubled within the year. Under international law, it is illegal for Israel to build settlements in the West Bank and the occupied East Jerusalem, but over 500, 000 Israeli settlers currently reside in the teorritories.
Ma’an news agency also reported that Israeli forces seized a Palestinian house near Jenin Saturday and turned it into a military base to “monitor children throwing stones at Israeli vehicles traveling” between nearby illegal Jewish settlements.

Israel has previously boycotted the UN Human Rights Council periodic review after it told the Jewish state that it planned to investigate illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as an infringement on Palestinians' rights (Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Israel has previously boycotted the UN Human Rights Council periodic review after it told the Jewish state that it planned to investigate illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as an infringement on Palestinians’ rights (Ammar Awad/Reuters)





| Where is a bra considered a weapon? Only in PTSD ziocolony: Israel!

‘The bra is a security threat’: Harassment and interrogation at Ben Gurion airport ~ Anonymous, Mondoweiss.


Anonymous is 21 years old and lives in Berkeley, California. Her father is a Jordanian Palestinian and her mother is a British Jew. The following trip took place in September, 2013.

I took a deep breath and looked around at my surroundings. I mostly kept tabs on the other people who I had been in line with. While most went through the baggage scan machine and straight to their ticket desks, the other members with yellow stickers on their luggage like myself had all been cleared after a 10-15 minute bag check with only one or two of their bags being searched. I was the only person left at the checking tables. The thin bald man in the suit came over once again.

“What do you have in your pockets?” he asked me. “My passport, my visa, and my phone” I told him.

“Fine” he said, “she will escort you to security.” He pointed to the young blonde.

I reached for my bags. “No no. They stay here. You go with her.”

“Who will watch my bags?” I asked him. “They will be here. Go with her.”

The blonde woman and I walked through the airport.

“How old are you?” she asked me. “21” I said, “and you?”

“23” she said.

We stopped before a big white door. She swiped her id card and typed in a code. The door unlocked, to which I entered a white room with a baggage x-ray machine and a white table that looked like a dental chair. Curtains hung in the near right corner. She pointed to that corner with a foam chair and metal legs.

“Sit there” she said. I sat.

A young man appeared, he was in a plaid shirt, jeans and a pair of white Adidas. Undercover police for sure. He lurked on the other side of the curtain that the young blonde partially drew. “Stand with your arms at your sides” she gesticulated. I watched the man’s white sneakers stop on the other side of the curtain, facing towards it. I took my shoes off and my phone was placed in a grey tub. I eyed my passport and visa on the shelf in front of me. She did a general pat down and then pulled my pant waist far from my body and checked around between the gap where my underwear and my belt would have been if I had been wearing one. She sighed and told me that I was finished and should take a seat. Somebody else came through the white door on the other side of the curtain and began laughing with the plain-clothed guard. I could tell by the voice and by her black shoes under the curtain that she was a woman. The young blonde woman left with my shoes and my phone in the grey tub. I eyed my passport again on the ledge in front of me and stuck it into my pocket.

“Are your pockets empty?” Another blonde woman came through the gap in the curtains, the undercover guard moved to the table across from the gap and viewed in. I took my passport out again and held it in my hands. “Yes”.

She had large round eyes and appeared older than the first blonde woman who had checked my bags, maybe she was 26-29. Her hair was wavy and limp against her head. My phone beeped again, probably my family calling me to check on why I had not notified them about my status through the airport as we had agreed.

I guessed at the time. It was perhaps around 6:45. I had been in the private security room for roughly a quarter of an hour. “I am the security supervisor here and I have some questions for you” she told me. She asked me again as to the purpose of my trip, to which I gave the same generic answer of Holy Land sights, friends and family visits.

“Who’d you stay with?” I gave some names. “And the addresses?” I gave one address of a friend in Jerusalem who I’d stayed with for a block of time. She questioned me more on the details of the residents in the flat and how I knew them. She asked me why I’d stayed there and how I could be friends with the people who I mentioned. All had Jewish names.

“We just are” I told her. She stared blankly. “Ok…” she paused.

I said nothing, just looked up at her face. “And who paid for this trip?” she demanded. Her tone was hostile and her body language was on edge as she stood above me and looked down at me in my chair. “My mother.”


“So that I could visit the sights, friends and family” I repeated.

“You are going to London now.”

“Yes I am.”


“To visit family.”

“You are always visiting family” she commented in a teasing tone, the corner of her mouth in a slight snarl, “Why is that?”

“Because I am. Any other questions?” I told her flatly.

“What do you do?”

“What do I do?”

“Yes in the USA or wherever you live what do you do.”

“I work. I recently graduated college.” She asked for the details of what I studied and where I worked. I gave her one-word answers.

“What are your family names?” she again demanded.

“T(Palestinian) and N (Jewish).”


“Yes N(Jewish).”

“And your other name is T(Palestinian)?”

“That’s right.”

“Your father was born where?”


She repeated my name. “That is my name.” She paused, confused.

“You told another security person that you are Jewish but really you’re just a Palestinian.”

“I am both” I told her.

“What do you mean both?”

“I am Jewish and Palestinian. My mother is Jewish and my father is Palestinian, do you want my family names again?”

The undercover guard was still sitting on the table swinging his legs. His face twisted.

“So if you are both, where is your family in Israel?”

“Jaffa and Tel Aviv” I told her. She was frustrated. “But who…you’re going to England?”

“My mother was born in Britain, why I am going to England and who I will see is not relevant. Do you have any other questions?” I asked her.

This was the first emotional rise that she had gotten from me and, though it was mild, I reminded myself to calm down. I did not want to spend any more energy on this process than I had to. The goal is to end this and go. End this process and go. I reminded myself.

She paused. “Ok, were you told to bring anything onto the plane?”

“I am just bringing myself and my luggage”

“Yes but were you told to bring anything with you?”

“I don’t understand your question”

“Were you told to carry something onto, you know, the plane”

“I still don’t understand your question. I am attempting to board this plane in order to leave Israel and I am hopefully bringing myself and my luggage”

“But there is nobody else?”

“No? I am by myself” She turned around to leave.

“Excuse me, what is your name please?” I asked her. “My name?” The guard smirked.

“Yes your name.”

She and the guard exchanged glances. He sniggered. She laughed. “What do you want my name for?”

“You know my name so I would like to know your name.”

“It’s Hilda.”

“Hilda what?”

“Hilda Ma…” She mumbled the rest. “What was your last name again please?”

“I’ll spell it out for you later if you want. Ok?”

“Yes thank you.” She tossed the curtain aside.

I sat in clear view of the guard who exchanged some words and guffaws with Hilda. He raised his eyebrows at her and pointed at me, his tone of voice said, “can you believe that? Who does she think she is?”

Hilda imitated me and they laughed again. She then disappeared to the other side of the room where I lost visual contact with her. The guard watched her speak with the young blonde woman who then reappeared in the curtained area. She pulled the curtains closer together behind her. The white shoes stood on the other side of the curtain, facing towards it. She motioned for me to rise and hold my hands away from my body.

“Are you going to check me again?” I asked. “Yes” she said.

She scanned me with a metal detector, paying close attention to my chest where my underwire was making the machine beep (which anyone who wears a bra can tell you happens routinely in a check with a handheld metal detector). She lifted up my sweat-pant legs and checked around my calves.

“What’s in your hair?” she said, pointing to my poofy bun on top of my head.

“Nothing, it’s just a hair tie” I said. “Ok can you take it off” she told me.

I took my hair down and she sifted through my curls. “You have a lot of hair” she told me.

I put it back up into a bun and said nothing. Then she left through the gap in the curtains.  The man walked to the gap in the curtain and again turned to face me. I sat down and looked at him. His feet were swinging and his eyes mocked me.

The young blonde came back with the same probe, with a flat head and a cotton pad, that she had used to check my luggage earlier that morning. “Ok stand up again” she told me.
“What is that?” I asked her. She looked shyly at me. “This will um go around your chest and your bottom area”

“My bottom?”

“Your waist and yes like that” she said. “For what purpose?”

“To check and then scan into the machine…it’s just your surfaces” she told me.

I withheld a shudder, feeling the situation slowly slipping out of my control. There was no one else in the room, only the four of us, Hilda, the young blonde, the young undercover guard, and myself. Hilda called the guard over to the right hand side of the room. I watched his white Adidas move back and forth as he rocked on the other side of the curtain. The young blonde stuck the flat-headed probe down my shirt and then around my bra. Then she pulled my sweatpants far away from my body and circled the probe around my waist.

“Can you pull your underwear down a little bit please?” she asked me. This was the first time that she had said please and I could tell that she was embarrassed. I stared at the gap in the curtain and pulled the top of my underwear down. I looked her in the face. Her skin was dewy. The woman swept the probe around my body again and then told me to lift my feet off the floor. She checked my soles. I heard my phone beep twice in its grey bin somewhere on my right by the white “dental” chair next to Hilda and the guard. The young blonde avoided my eye contact and left through the door.

About 30 seconds later, Hilda reappeared and swept open the curtains. The guard reappeared with her and moved to stand on my left by the curtain seam.

“Ok so I need to take off your underwear.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes the machine signaled a problem with your shirt and underwear so you need to take them off”.

The guard stared me down. His eyes were mocking. “You want me to take off my underwear and then do what with them?”

“We will scan them and then you will need to put other ones on.”

“Other ones? I only have what I have on.” On cue the young blonde rolled in my red suitcase and pulled it into the curtain area.

“What did the machine detect exactly?” I pressed. “I can’t tell you that. You just need to remove your underwear and your shirt.”

“And then you want me to change back into them?”

“No you have to check them in with your luggage and wear something else.”

“But I don’t want to wear anything else. My other clothes are dirty.”

“You have to wear something else. The bra is a security threat.”

“My bra is a security threat?”

“Yes and so is your shirt.”

My mind buzzed as my emotions rose. I looked at the guard and he smirked back at me. “This is your punishment for asking Hilda’s name” I told myself.

The young blonde girl looked at me with my suitcase in hand, a surprisingly distressed look on her face. The expression was guilt. Only later did it strike me that the time between the probe test and Hilda’s decision that my underwear threatened security spanned an average of 30 seconds and that this was, most likely, a time too short to have actually checked the cotton pad on the end of the probe and communicated the next sequence of events between Hilda and the young blonde along with the organized retrieval of my suitcase from the terminal.

I unzipped my bag and popped it open. The inside was a mess from the first rummage through it and I had no idea where anything was. I calmed myself down, took deep breaths, reminded myself that this was all a power play with the intention of making me feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I fished out another bra from my bag and took the first shirt that I could find. I went into my underwear pocket but Hilda stopped me. “Why don’t you just wear the ones you have?” she said.

“You told me to change my underwear” I responded.

“No you can leave them. I just want your bra and your shirt” she barked at me.

I folded the two articles over my arm. “Give them to me” Hilda demanded. “I need to scan these before you put them on.” I handed them over to her while the guard watched. She disappeared, I don’t remember what she did. I was busy watching the young blonde woman who looked as uncomfortable as I felt. Hilda handed me my bra and shirt. I stared at the guard. Hilda caught my eye, “you have to change clothes now. No one will see you.” She left and drew the curtains behind her.

For the first time since I entered the airport, I was alone. I watched the guard’s white shoes, pointed towards the curtains. For good measure, I faced the wall and placed my passport in my pocket. I changed my clothes and replaced them with the ones from my bag. I went to my bag to fold them back in when Hilda pulled back the curtains.

“No don’t pack them yet I need to test them!” she barked.

“You already checked them. That’s why we are going through this process, correct?”

“I will check them again.”

I passed them to her right past the guard’s body. He had stepped very close to Hilda and myself. As I passed my clothing to Hilda, he stared down at the bra in my hand and then back up at me. I stood there. I took deep breaths. My eyes dared him to utter a word. He didn’t, he just stared at me.

The young blonde called me back to the other side of the curtains and closed them behind me. My whole body was vibrating with anger. She checked around my body with a metal detector for the second time. The young woman patted down my top yet again. My throat constricted and I could feel angry tears welling up somewhere inside me. I swallowed my feelings. I buried them. I reminded myself of my goal in this very moment and of the stubborn character that my family was so well known for. I made a pact with myself that I would not give them the emotional response they were pressing for. I would not let them compromise my dignity. “Focus” I told myself. “Just focus.”

Hilda brought my shirt and bra back from wherever she had taken them and I packed them into my chaotic suitcase. As Hilda and the guard joked and laughed together, the young blonde approached me. “This is all protocol you know” she whispered at my side.

“Oh really? This is protocol?” I said slowly. I looked her in the eye and she looked down at her feet. I hoped that she was ashamed of this process, ashamed of the actions that had been deemed “appropriate”, realized that she was a pawn in all of this but no less guilty in carrying out the policy of racial and specific group targeting that this whole experience was built upon.

The end of the process was sudden. The whole thing was surreal actually. Hilda left the room in one swift movement. The door slammed behind her. The guard kept tabs on me with the young blonde at my side. I closed my bag and pulled it to standing.

“You can put your shoes on” the young blonde said.

I looked around. “Ok, can I have my shoes please?”

“Oh yeah.” She brought me the grey bin with my phone and shoes and I slipped them on.

The girl pointed me towards the door and we walked through, the plain clothed guard disappeared into the hallway behind us. I did not see him again.

The girl and I walked back together, alone. “You know…” she began “I’ve been working here for 1.5 years and I have never seen them do something like that.”

“Do something like what?” I asked. She looked up at me with a crease in her forehead, “make someone take off their bra…”

“I hope it’s the last time” I told her. She looked ahead into the terminal. We stopped talking.

We reentered the large room that I had first had my bags checked through, the glass doors to the outside of the airport shone with the bright light of the sun. It was now morning. I smiled to myself that I had finished the process. “I get to leave now”, I thought to myself. My eyes adjusted to the light in the terminal where I clearly saw about 6-8 security guards rummaging through the complete contents of both of my carryon bags that now lay limp on the floor. Stuff inside grey bins, outside grey bins, on the conveyor belt, across on other tables; my things were strewn absolutely everywhere. It was chaos.

I appeared before the tables, covered in my things, as the plastic gloved hands continued the sifting process. Everything was separated and individually run through the little metal detector behind me.

A stern, balding, reddish haired man with a black kippah stood there with an earpiece on one side. His arms were crossed and by the way that the skinny bald man stood next to him and all the guards checked in with his appraising gaze, I could tell that he was the boss of this particular operation. Hilda had disappeared completely. She was nowhere in sight. I said nothing about the bags. I just breathed. “Excuse me”, I called to the skinny bald man, “What was the woman’s name who checked me in the security room?”

The man looked at me, “You mean Hilda?”

“Yes Hilda” I responded.

The man with the kippah turned his glance towards me. “What is her full name?” I asked.

The bald man opened his mouth to answer but first turned his attention to his superior. “We don’t give last names” the man with the kippah asserted. “I doubt that”, I thought to myself.

“Ok what is her title then please?”

“Hilda, Security Supervisor.” A woman with a clipboard appeared between us and asked the skinny man who I was. He pointed to my name on a short list, which she then highlighted in yellow and pink. The skinny man looked at me, “You will make your flight.”

A young woman beckoned me to her box, I’m next. She opened my passport and stared down at the page. She stutters my first name. “Yes?”

“Ra…Ra…” I pronounce the rest of it for her. “What was the purpose of your visit?” I let out the same monotonous answer I had uttered all morning.

“You have friends and family here?” she asked. “Yes.”

“Ok where are they?”

“Tel Aviv and Jaffa” I said. She paused and cocked her eyebrows. “That’s the same place.”

“No no, I said Tel Aviv and Jaffa” I told her, thinking she had not heard me correctly. “Yes that’s the same place.” What she was implying hit me.

All morning I had been mistreated, combed out of the crowd and profiled, my time wasted and my dignity subsequently stepped all over without a second thought. I had been treated like a criminal for having an identity that I was born into, told explicitly in each of these actions that I did not belong here and had no place here at all as a person with Palestinian heritage. Harassed and picked out from the rest because of my name, my history, the assumptions that go with them, and my very intention to visit my family, many of who cannot visit me in the USA.

Here I was being told by a girl in uniform, very close to my age, that my town had no existence in the present, even as I had just left from it hours before arriving at the airport. The whole morning’s exchange culminated at this moment as a burning ember in my stomach. It was emblematic of the constant reminder that we Palestinians are being systematically forgotten and erased from public consciousness in every sphere of life, delegitimizing every root that we are attached to inside and outside of the Israeli state.

Tel Aviv, some of it built on two prominent neighborhoods of my town, much of the rest built upon the orange groves that sustained it, was swallowing up my very presence, right there in the middle of the airport. I realized that, to this girl I was already a disappeared part of “history”, excluded from her general consciousness, not even present in her own imagination of the past.

Yet here she was, looking right at me. I wanted to show her, to figuratively reach behind her glass case, that I was not a shadow of the things that were but a glimmer of the present and future of what is and what can be.

“They are not the same place” I tell her “One is north and one is south. One is a city and one is a town.”

“No, you were in one place. The name of the city is Tel Aviv – Yafo. Not Yafo. Same place.” She handed me back my passport and stared at me, annoyed.

“It is not the same place” I told her. “Is that all?”

“Yeah. Go.”

I hurried to my gate, through the final check and into the airport lounge area. I decided that the plane would not leave without me, from the beginning the airline had been notified about my ensured tardiness. I stopped at a candy and snack store on my way to the gate and chose a bottle of water. I brought it up to the woman at the desk. “Passport and boarding ticket please” she told me. I handed both to her. She looked me up in the computer in front of her. Her eyes fixed on me. “How long have you been in Israel and what is your final destination?” I was incredulous. I was being asked security questions by a candy vendor.

“Excuse me, I’ve already passed through security. How much are those tic-tacs please?” I grabbed the box next to me. She told me the total and I paid. She asked no more questions. I took my boarding materials from the counter. As I turned around, I noticed two plain clothed men with shaved heads watching me from their seats at the fountain. They had no baggage. I guessed who they were. I moved past them and walked briskly to my gate. I kiss the necklace around my neck as an act of gratitude and I know that I will be back. I also know that it will not be easy. It never is.

I hope that one day this story becomes a fairy tale of what was once the Occupation, in all of its arbitrary character and continual perpetuation of inequality, injustice, and illusion. For now, this experience as described above is just a minor example of the humiliation and daily challenges that Palestinians face on a regular basis when trying to cross checkpoints inside and outside of the West Bank and Gaza. It is just a minor example of the racial profiling that Palestinians with Israeli passports or Jerusalem ID cards go through on a regular basis when walking down the street or applying for a job. It is just a minor example of how the Occupation divides the Palestinian population into all of our different “statuses” and privileges while combining us all together into one essentializing package. It is an example of a situation where the oppression of certain groups of people has been completely normalized by the international community.

If we can start anywhere in deconstructing this Occupation, literally taking it apart, we can start by educating ourselves and our communities. I implore those who read this to learn about the history of Palestine, to learn about recent events on the ground, to talk to as many people as they can, to be curious and ask questions, to look at displays of military power and question the motives of those governments who support them.

Throughout all of this, please remember, that this is not a historical issue, it is a human one.

Peace, Justice and Dignity.



BDS ziocolony