Psy Group: Mossad Spy Tool


By The Newyorker

Hatem Bazian, a veteran pro-Palestinian activist in his fifties, lives with his family on a quiet street in North Berkeley, near the campus of the University of California, where he lectures. Early on the morning of May 10, 2017, as Bazian was about to drive his teen-age daughter to school, he noticed fliers on the windshields of cars parked on his block. At first, Bazian assumed that they were advertisements for a new movie or restaurant. When he looked more closely at the flier that had been left on his BMW sedan, he realized that it featured a photograph of his face, below a tagline that read, “He supports terror.” Bazian quickly folded up the flier so his daughter wouldn’t see it.

Born in Jordan to a father from the West Bank city of Nablus and a mother from al-Quds, Bazian has long been an outspoken champion of Palestinian causes. For decades, staunch supporters of ‘Israel’ have criticized Bazian’s activism. The incident with the fliers, though, was particularly unnerving, he told me. He rented his house and did not publicize the address. His opponents, he thought, must be following him. Later that day, Bazian, who describes himself as a proponent of nonviolent protest, reported what happened to the Berkeley police. He said that officers told him they could do nothing about the harassment.

Although it is unclear who left the fliers, internal documents from a private ‘Israeli’ intelligence firm called Psy-Group show that, at the time of the incident, the company, and possibly other private investigators, were targeting Bazian because of his leadership role in promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, known as BDS Supporters of BDS urge corporations, universities, and local governments to impose economic, academic, and cultural boycotts on ‘Israel’ to protest its treatment of the Palestinians. Opponents say that the BDS movement aims to delegitimize ‘Israel’ and hobble its economy. On its Web site, the movement states that it does not advocate for or against a resolution in which ‘Israel’ continues to exist.

Psy-Group’s intelligence and influence operations, which included a failed attempt in the summer of 2017 to sway a local election in central California, were detailed in a New Yorker investigation that I co-wrote earlier this month. Before it went out of business, last year, Psy-Group was part of a new wave of private-intelligence firms that recruited from the ranks of ‘Israel’s’ secret services and described themselves as “private Mossads.” Psy-Group initially stood out among its rivals because it didn’t just gather intelligence; its operatives used false identities, or avatars, to covertly spread messages in an attempt to influence what people believed and how they behaved. In 2016, Psy-Group held discussions with the Trump campaign and others about conducting covert “influence” operations to benefit the candidate. Psy-Group’s founder and C.E.O., Royi Burstien, a veteran ‘Israeli’ intelligence officer who established the firm in 2014, told me that his talks with the Trump campaign went nowhere. The company’s posturing, however, attracted the attention of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who has been investigating interference in the 2016 Presidential race.

Psy-Group’s operations against BDS activists on US college campuses began in February, 2016, according to internal documents describing the campaign. The company raised money in New York from Jewish-American donors and pro-‘Israel’ groups, and assured them that their identities would be kept secret. Psy-Group told them that its goal was to make it appear as though the donors were not involved in any way.

The campaign, code-named Project Butterfly, initially targeted BDS activists on college campuses in “a single US state,” which former Psy-Group employees have told me was New York. The company said that its operatives drew up lists of individuals and organizations to target. The operatives then gathered derogatory information on them from social media and the “deep” Web, areas of the Internet that are not indexed by search engines such as Google. In some cases, Psy-Group operatives conducted on-the-ground covert human-intelligence, or HUMINT, operations against their targets. ‘Israeli’ intelligence officials insist that they do not spy on Americans, a claim that is disputed by their US counterparts. ‘Israeli’ officials said, however, that this prohibition does not apply to private companies such as Psy-Group, which use discharged ‘Israel’ Occupation Forces soldiers and former members of elite intelligence units, rather than active-duty members, in operations targeting Americans.

Project Butterfly called for Psy-Group operatives to disseminate negative information about BDS activists in ways that could not be traced back to the company or its donors. The goal, according to a Psy-Group summary of the campaign, from May, 2017, was to create “a new reality in which anti-‘Israeli’ activists are exposed and forced to confront the consequences of their actions.” The campaign’s messages were designed to convince Americans that “anti-‘Israeli’ activity” equated to “terrorism,” the company told donors. A former Psy-Group employee said these so-called name-and-shame tactics were often effective at silencing individual BDS activists. “They would disappear,” the employee told me, claiming that some activists appeared to become less engaged after derogatory information about them was publicized. If an activist claimed to be a pious Muslim, operatives would look for evidence that he had behaved in ways unacceptable to many observant Muslims, such as drinking alcohol or having an affair, a former employee said. BDS leaders, however, seemed to recruit new activists quickly. The former employee likened Psy-Group’s campaign to the war on terrorism, saying, “It’s never-ending.”

During the period when Psy-Group mounted its anti-BDS campaign, several Web sites, including the now-defunct, published information on the movement’s leaders and supporters. Definitively determining who was behind the sites is difficult because Psy-Group and other organizations involved in anti-BDS work used avatars and other tactics to disguise their involvement.

In an example of the deceptive practices employed by operatives involved in the campaign, an avatar who identified himself as “Alex Walker” sent an unsolicited e-mail on August 15, 2017, to an advertising-sales broker who represented several New York-based national Jewish publications. Walker claimed that a friend referred him to the broker and said that he was impressed with his services. When the broker asked for the friend’s name, Walker dodged the question. At that point, the broker, who asked not to be named, said he suspected that Walker wasn’t who he claimed to be. Walker said that he was upset about BDS and wanted the broker to place advertisements promoting in the New York area. Walker said that his assistant would pay the eight-hundred-dollar fee via PayPal. The broker told me that he placed the ads and took the money despite his suspicions about Walker. “In my mind, I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said.

The Web site featured short profiles of BDS activists, one of whom was Peter Moskowitz, a Jewish-American supporter of the movement. His profile contained misspellings, and, at one point, referred to him as “she.” But the site contained a piece of information that surprised Moskowitz: had somehow uncovered his membership in a left-wing Jewish organization critical of ‘Israeli’ treatment of Palestinians, even though Moskowitz had not disclosed his involvement online or to many friends.

Project Butterfly was overseen by an advisory board composed of “senior ex-officials and experts from the government, security and legal sectors,” according to Psy-Group documents. The most senior of those ex-officials was Yaakov Amidror, who became Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national-security adviser after leading a military-intelligence analysis division within the Amidror told me that before joining the board he spoke to Daniel Reisner, one of ‘Israel’s’ most prominent lawyers, and a partner at Herzog Fox & Neeman, which was Psy-Group’s outside counsel. He said that Reisner told him Psy-Group’s operations in the US against BDS activists were legal. Amidror said that he advised Psy-Group executives to insure that their operatives didn’t breach any US laws or norms while targeting American activists. “Don’t beat them. Don’t go into their houses,” Amidror said.

Amidror said that he supported the central goal of the Psy-Group operation: to “expose” BDS leaders on American university campuses and collect intelligence about any connections they might have to Palestinian organizations and other groups. “The ‘Israeli’ government was not there, and I thought that, if private people are ready to do it, it can be helped,” Amidror said. “It should be known who is behind them. It’s not known. We don’t know where the money is coming from, how far it is connected to Ramallah or Hamas.” He defended the propriety of a private ‘Israeli’ intelligence firm collecting and disseminating information on American citizens who supported BDS “If it is in the public domain, why not? I don’t see any problem,” he told me. “If someone doesn’t want it to be leaked publicly, he shouldn’t put it” on the Internet or on social media, Amidror said.

After Amidror joined the effort, Psy-Group recruited Ram Ben-Barak, who stepped down as the deputy director of Mossad in late 2011, to help as a paid strategic adviser on Project Butterfly. He worked one day a week out of Psy-Group’s offices near Tel Aviv. Ben-Barak said he believed that supporters of ‘Israel’ had no choice but to counter BDS forces in the United States. “You need to do it,” he told me. “They’re fighting against us, so we need to fight against them.”

In 2017, Psy-Group planned to expand Project Butterfly to target up to ten college campuses and other “venues,” according to the documents. In addition, the company said that its operatives would focus on between fifteen and twenty “national level individual targets.” Donors were told that Psy-Group had “mapped anti-‘Israel’ hubs” across the entity and had “executed 5 rapid-response operations nationwide,” without explaining what those operations entailed and whom they targeted.

The names of Psy-Group’s targets weren’t included in the May, 2017, summary of Project Butterfly, which was marked “confidential.” But a few days after the incident outside Bazian’s home, Burstien, Psy-Group’s founder and C.E.O, provided a report to researchers at a Washington think tank called the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, or F.D.D., which included the names of some of the BDS activists whom the ‘Israeli’ firm had targeted or planned to target. According to the Psy-Group report, the company had prepared “dossiers” on Bazian and eight other individuals. Psy-Group told the foundation that Bazian “got our full attention,” and that his dossier included “criminal background records” and other documents “obtained via HUMINT capabilities,” using the abbreviation for human-intelligence gathering. (When asked about the report, Bazian said he wasn’t sure what “criminal background records” Psy-Group was referring to. He said that he had received speeding tickets on occasion over the years, and was arrested in San Francisco, in 1991, for helping organize a student protest.)

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Psy-Group appeared to share a particular interest in the role of a pro-BDS organization that Bazian had founded, American Muslims for Palestine, or A.M.P. At a congressional hearing in 2016, F.D.D.’s vice-president for research, Jonathan Schanzer, alleged that Bazian and others working for or on behalf of A.M.P. had ties to organizations that Schanzer said have been accused of providing money to Hamas. (Bazian said that the foundation’s accusations were part of “a smear campaign that attempts to discredit anyone that deals with Palestine.” He added, “I have no ties whatsoever to any Palestinian group, faction, or organization inside occupied Palestine.”)

Psy-Group told the foundation that it planned to investigate “organizations and companies” that sponsor A.M.P.’s conferences, and singled out a Wisconsin-based Palestinian activist named Salah Sarsour, who has been in charge of organizing the conferences since 2015, as a planned target. Psy-Group alleged that Sarsour had “involvement with Hamas.” (Sarsour said that he had no relationship with the group.) Sarsour, who moved to the US from the West Bank in 1993, told me about two incidents since the summer of 2017 that made him suspect people were spying on him—although, he acknowledged, he had no hard evidence.

An F.D.D. official confirmed that the think tank met with Psy-Group, but she said the foundation “did not end up contracting with them, and their research did little to advance our own.” Psy-Group went out of business in February, 2018, as F.B.I. agents began to investigate its work. Other counter-BDS organizations have continued to operate against activists. Bazian’s page at accuses him of spreading “classic anti-Semitism,” and features several videos, including one titled “The Most Dangerous Professor in America?” “I am concerned and do take stock of the intimidation tactics,” Bazian told me. “But I am not deterred.”


School Employee Sues District for israel (apartheid state) Loyalty Oath in Contract


Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.

In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism, Bahia Amawi, a US citizen of Palestinian descent, lost her Texas elementary school job after refusing to pledge in writing that she would not participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Earlier this month, Amawi sued the school district that fired her.

The BDS movement against Israel has become a hot button issue in the closing month of 2018. A bipartisan group of senators tried to attach the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to the unanimous spending bill that Trump almost signed to avoid the current government shutdown. Meanwhile, Donorbox, a US software company, blocked the BDS fundraising account at the behest of a pro-Israel group.

“The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian – or McCarthyite – self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading,” Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept.

On December 12, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on Amawi’s behalf in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas against Pflugerville Independent School District, alleging that Texas’ law requiring the oath violates the First Amendment. Amawi’s complaint says the law constitutes an impermissible attempt “to impose an ideological litmus test or compel speech related to government contractors’ political beliefs, associations, and expressions.”

Amawi had contracted with the school district for nine years to work with students with autism and developmental disabilities in Austin. This fall, for the first time, Amawi was required to sign an oath that she would not boycott Israel. When she refused to sign it, she was fired.

“The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people,” Amawi explained. “Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

The BDS movement was launched by representatives of Palestinian civil society in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Even though it is a nonviolent movement, Israel sees BDS as a threat to its hegemony over the Palestinians. Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories, maintaining effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace, seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population registry. Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services, and continues to build illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“There will not be progress toward a just peace without pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian rights,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Bringing about that pressure, through a global grassroots mobilization, is exactly what BDS is about.”

After Amawi’s firing, The New York Times editorial board wrote,

It’s not just Israel’s adversaries who find the [BDS] movement appealing. Many devoted supporters of Israel, including many American Jews, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and refuse to buy products of the settlements in occupied territories. Their right to protest in this way must be vigorously defended.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of BDS, said in an email to The New York Times, “Having lost many battles for hearts and minds at the grass-roots level, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new strategy to criminalize support for BDS from the top” in order to “shield Israel from accountability.”

Barghouti called Shurat HaDin, the group behind the Donorbox action blocking the BDS account, a “repressive organization with clear connections to the far-right Israeli government” that is “engaging in McCarthyite … tactics … in a desperate attempt to undermine our ability to challenge Israel’s regime of apartheid and oppression.”

Twenty-six US states have anti-BDS laws and 13 others are pending. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would have to be reintroduced when the new Congress convenes in January, was supported by Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) opposed the bill.

Boycotts Are Protected by the First Amendment

The law that triggered Amawi’s firing prohibits the State of Texas from entering into government contracts with companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. It defines “boycott Israel” to include “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.”

Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, assembly and association. They have long been used to oppose injustice and urge political change. The Supreme Court has held that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” The high court ruled that advocating and supporting boycotts “to bring about political, social, and economic change” – like boycotts of Israel – are indisputably protected by the First Amendment.

The National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a legal memorandum challenging anti-BDS legislation in New York that such laws “harken back to the McCarthy era when the state sought to deny the right to earn a livelihood to those who express controversial political views.” The memo says, “The courts long ago found such McCarthy-era legislation to be at war with the First Amendment,” as they “unconstitutionally target core political speech activities and infringe on the freedom to express political beliefs.”

Even staff members at the right-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opposed anti-BDS laws and admitted they are unconstitutional. Although the leadership officially favors outlawing BDS, ADL staff wrote in an internal 2016 memo that anti-BDS laws divert “community resources to an ineffective, unworkable, and unconstitutional endeavor.”

Greenwald cited the grave danger anti-BDS laws pose to freedom of speech, tweeting, “The proliferation of these laws – where US citizens are barred from work or contracts unless they vow not to boycott Israel – is the single greatest free speech threat in the US.”

Demonstrating the incongruity of allowing Amawi to boycott any entity but Israel, Greenwald noted, “In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the US, or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.”

The US government remains Israel’s lap dog on the world stage. On December 5 the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. The United States opposed the resolution.

Meanwhile, the BDS movement continues to achieve victories. After more than 24,000 people complained to HSBC, the banking giant pulled out its investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit sells military equipment, including drones, aircraft, artillery and weapon control systems to the Israeli army, US Air Force and British Royal Air Force. It also provides surveillance equipment to the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

On the legal front, the ACLU has mounted successful court challenges to anti-BDS laws in Kansas and Arizona and has filed litigation in Arkansas and Texas.

Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Netherlands recognizes Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

Authorities in the Netherlands have allowed Palestinians living in the country to register the besieged Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official places of birth, instead of registering under such designations as ‘the Israeli-occupied territories’ or ‘unknown’.

Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a letter addressed to the House of Representatives in The Hague on Sunday, stated that he intends to add Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, to a list of official states used by the Dutch civil registry.

Knops added that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas.”

The Dutch minister further highlighted that the new category was named based on the Oslo Accords and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Dutch news outlets reported that the new category will be available to Palestinians born after May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces displaced some 700,000 Palestinians, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries. Israeli soldiers also wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more than six decades later.

The Israeli-occupied land was the only birthplace available to Palestinians registering in the Netherlands up until 2014. The category “unknown,” also known as code “0000,” was made available to Palestinians living in the country after opposition to listing Israel as their birthplace.

While the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, the Netherlands has refused to do so.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

How israel (apartheid state) lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

How Israel lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

On Saturday, RT aired the second part of a conversation between host Chris Hedges, journalist Max Blumenthal and me about the censored Al Jazeera film The Lobby – USA.

In part two – which you can watch above – we focus on how the film shows Israel lobby groups fabricating accusations of anti-Semitism on US college campuses in order to incite official crackdowns against Palestine solidarity activism.

I tell Hedges that “a lot of these fake anti-Semitism allegations are about trying to lay a factual basis to make federal civil rights complaints or lawsuits that can then be used to force university administrations to muzzle students and teachers.”

The Emergency Committee for Israel, an anti-Palestinian activist group, is also seen in the Al Jazeera film organizing a fake pro-Israel protest at the national conference of Students for Justice in Palestine, using paid fellows who are required to attend.

One of the participants describes it as “a chance to shout at Arabs.”

Blumenthal calls the astroturfed protest an indication of how the Israel lobby is “completely morally bankrupt” and “desperate” for the appearance that it has grassroots support.

Afraid of the base

We also discuss how the base of the Democratic Party – particularly supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders – is continuing to embrace the struggle for Palestinian rights.

“Something to watch is the role of Beto O’Rourke,” Blumenthal states. “He’s someone who the pro-Israel lobby has worked on for years and they will push him to drive a wedge in Bernie’s base, as the anti-Bernie progressive.”

Blumenthal adds that Israel supporters and centrist elites in the Democratic Party are “afraid not of Bernie per se but of his base.”

O’Rourke is seen as a rising star and possible presidential contender after he narrowly failed to defeat Senator Ted Cruz of Texas last November.

But while striking many progressive notes, O’Rourke has toed a staunchly pro-Israel line.

Part one of our conversation with Chris Hedges about The Lobby – USA was broadcast the previous week:

Censored and leaked

The Lobby–USA is an explosive undercover documentary produced by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit.

It exposes how US lobby groups – including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Israel on Campus Coalition – work closely with the Israeli government to spy on, smear and sabotage American citizens who speak out for Palestinian rights.

But the four-part film never aired on Al Jazeera. After Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds the news network, the documentary was censored.

Starting in August 2018, The Electronic Intifada and Blumenthal’s Grayzone Project began leaking excerpts from the film.

In November, The Electronic Intifada, along with the French publication Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, released the entire leaked film online.

You can watch in full episodes one and two, and three and four of The Lobby–USA – the film the Israel lobby did not want you to see.

الذكرى الـ 11 لرحيل حبش: أسئلة التطبيع.. والمواجهة

الذكرى الـ 11 لرحيل حبش: أسئلة التطبيع.. والمواجهة

يناير 29, 2019

نظام مارديني

عشية الذكرى الحادية العاشرة لرحيلِ حكيم الثّورة الفلسطينيّة، جورج حبش، شاءت الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين أن تحتفي بهذه الذكرى بالتركيز على خطورة التطبيع القائمة بين بعض الأنظمة العربية والعدو الصهيوني وسبل مواجهته، وبالتأكيد على مركزية المسألة الفلسطينية في الوجدانين، القومي والعربي، وذلك في مؤتمر أقيم في غزة، وقد ناقش المؤتمر أبرز الأدوات الصهيونية الاستراتيجية للتغلغل في المنطقة العربية، والتي لخصت بأن هذا الكيان الاستيطاني يشق طريقه بحضور سلعي وبآليات ثقافية تضليلية مثلما يشق جيشه الطرق لإقامة مستعمراته.

إذاً، وبهذه الذكرى 11 لرحيلِ أيقونة الثّورة الفلسطينيّة، جورج حبش، الّذي أثرى حركة النضال القوميّ والعربيّ، وتركَ بصمَته للأجيال التي تواجهُ الاحتلالَ في كلِّ مكانٍ مِن أرضِ فلسطين. وها هي هذه الأجيال، تعتمد مبادئه وحكمته في مواجهة ما يهدّد مسار المسألة الفلسطينيّة من كونها قضيّة نضال قوميّ ضدّ استيطان احتلاليّ يهوديّ في فلسطين، من البحر إلى النهر، إلى مسألةٍ تُختَصر بالقدس الشرقيّة ليس إلا!

يكتب ماركيز في ذكرى رحيل بورخس: «أنّ المتميزين لا يرحلون كأفراد، يرحلون، باعتبارهم مرحلة متوهّجة، صار رحيلهم خاتمتها». بهذه الرؤيا نفتتح الذكرى الحادية العاشرة لرحيل أيقونة الثّورة الفلسطينيّة جورج حبش وفاءً لأخلاقه الثّوريّة النبيلة التي ميّزته طوال مسيرته النضاليّة في حركة القوميين العرب والجبهة الشعبيّة، وإيمانه قبل رحيله برؤية سعاده.

وفي هذه الذكرى تُفتتح الكثير من الأسئلة التي لا نهاية لها، ولكن، وفي كلّ ألمٍ يصيب عمق ذاكرتنا، نكون قد عدنا إلى الكبار في بلادنا، فكيف نتحدّث بأسلوب يليق بأبجديتهم ولا تتجدّد دماؤنا..؟ والاستثناء هنا هو انتماء حبش لسجلّ النجاح لا الفشل، فكان قائداً سياسيّاً وعبقريّة تنظيميّة لم تشهد السّاحة الفلسطينيّة بل العربيّة مثيلاً لها.

هكذا تحوّل الحكيم حبش إلى أيقونة مركزيّة ليس في إطار الثّورة الفلسطينيّة ومنظّمة التحرير فحسب، بل في الوعي الشخصيّ لعشرات الآلاف من المؤمنين بأفكاره السياسيّة وخطّه الثّوري.

لا يمكن اعتماد الرؤية التجزيئيّة في التعامل مع شخصيّة كشخصيّة حكيم فلسطين والثّورة، مثلما لا يمكننا أيضاً اعتماد هذه الرؤية في القضايا القوميّة. ولهذا، ينفلت في كثير من الأحيان البُعد التاريخي لهذه الشخصيّة، وما عرفته من تحوّلات. لأنّ الوعي بالتشكّل التاريخيّ لقضايا بلادنا ومظاهره، يُنتج تفكيراً متسلسلاً، ومرتّباً، كما حدث مع حبش خلال مسيرته في الجامعة الأميركيّة، حيث عمل على تأسيس حركة القوميين العرب، وحتى تأسيسه للجبهة الشعبيّة لتحرير فلسطين.

لقد تأخّرنا في عمليّة الوعي بحالات التحوّل التي عرفتها هذه الشخصيّة صاحبة الكاريزما العالية، عندما ظلّ المنطق التجزيئي عندنا هو المهيمن على تفكيرنا وعقلنا. فالأعمال الكبيرة والشامخة لا تأتي من فراغ، بل هي حصيلة جهد وإرادة وطنيّة مخلصة تؤمن، أولاً وأخيراً، بأنّ تقدّم الوطن ونهوض الشعب مهمّة مقدسّة ترقى إلى مستوى التضحية والاستبسال من أجلها حتى الاستشهاد.. وهكذا كان هذا الأيقونة التي ستظلل صدورنا بكل فخر.

فأمام التحديات العاصفة التي تواجه بلادنا، بالتأزّم في لبنان والأردن، والتفاقم في شرور الأزمة الدموية الخانقة في سورية والعراق، والاحتلال الجاثم فوق أرض فلسطين من النهر إلى البحر، نقفُ أمام ذِكراك وقد امتلكتَ الشجاعة الأدبيّة وأنت المؤمن بالفكر الماركسيّ، بأنّك قلت للباحث صقر أبو فخر في عام 1997: «أهدرنا خمسين عاماً من النضال ونحن نصرّ على صوابيّة رأينا، وكان من الممكن أن نختصرها ونعود للإقرار بأولويّة وأحقيّة وراهنيّة ما قاله أنطون سعاده حول وحدة سورية الطبيعية وأولوية العمل لهذا الهدف».

مسيرته أسبغت عليه لقب «حكيم الثورة»، ولكن ليس المهم ارتداء لقب الطليعة فهو لم تخدشه إغراءات ومؤامرات الزمن ومحاولات التصفية والاغتيال، وهو القائل «لا تستوحشوا طريق الحقّ لقلّة السائرين فيه»، و«إنّ السلطة السياسيّة تنبع من فوهات البنادق»، ولذلك بقي مثابراً بشكل استثنائي على زيارة ضريح يوسف العظمة.. ولهذا دلالات روحيّة كبيرة.

بينَ الأمل والرجاء، والخيبة والخذلان، نعود إليك أيّها الحكيم.. لقب سنردّده وننشره ونجعله بيارق من العناوين الواضحة في الأزمنة والأمكنة. وسنظلُّ نتذكر أنّنا عِشنا في زمن جورج حبش.

دعوة فلسطينية في ذكرى «الحكيم»: في «جريمة التطبيع وسبل المواجهة»

يناير 28, 2019

اختتم في مدينة غزة وبمشاركة شعبية ووطنية واسعة مؤتمر الحكيم الثاني الذي نظمته الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين تحت عنوان «جريمة التطبيع وسبل المواجهة» وذلك على شرف الذكرى الـ11 لرحيل مؤسسها جورج حبش.

وأكد المؤتمر أن قضية فلسطين ستظل قضية العرب المركزية، وأهمية المقاومة بكافة أشكالها ضد الاحتلال الاستيطاني الاستعماري الصهيوني هذا الجسم الإحلالي الغريب في عالمنا العربي، والمهدّد لوجوده ومصالحه ومستقبله.

وشدّد المؤتمرون على أن شعوبنا العربية جميعها ضد كافة أشكال التطبيع، وأن سير الأنظمة العربية في المسار السلمي نفسه جعل من القضية الفلسطينية قضية ثانوية على أجندة الحاكم العربي.

وأوضحوا أن اتفاقيات السلام في تسعينيات القرن الماضي مثل أوسلو، ووادي عربة ساهمت في فتح الباب أمام العديد من الأنظمة العربية للتساوق مع التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني، وشكّلت مزيداً من الاختراق الصهيوني للجسم الفلسطيني والعربي على مختلف المجالات الاقتصادية والثقافية والإعلامية والسياسية، فضلاً عن استغلال الاحتلال حالة الانقسام الفلسطيني والتشرذم العربي الداخلي والعربي العربي في التغلغل في المنطقة العربية.

وثمن المؤتمر الجهود المبذولة التي تقوم بها حملة المقاطعة في مقاطعة وعزل الكيان وفضح جرائمه، مستعرضاً أبرز إنجازات الحملة سياسياً وثقافياً وأكاديمياً واقتصادياً، ومناقشة الإشكاليات التي تواجهها، وتصاعد الحملات المضادة وملاحقة الاحتلال لنشطاء المقاطعة.

كما ناقش المؤتمر أبرز الاستراتيجيات والأدوات الاستراتيجية للتغلغل في المنطقة العربية، يمكن تلخيصها بأن الكيان الصهيوني يشق طريقه بحضور سلعي وبآليات ثقافية تضليلية مثلما يشق جيشه الطرق ويدمر البيوت بآليات عسكرية فتاكة.

Senate anti-#BDS bill slammed as ‘absurd’ amid US government shutdown

Senate anti-BDS bill slammed as ‘absurd’ amid US government shutdown

US politicians and advocacy group say Senate should focus on the shutdown instead of taking away Americans’ free speech rights

Senator Marco Rubio said states have a right to boycott companies that boycott Israel (AFP/File photo)

WASHINGTON – A US Senate measure encouraging states and local governments to “divest” from companies that boycott Israel has stirred controversy in Washington, with civil rights groups rallying against the proposal and Senator Bernie Sanders slamming it as “absurd”.

The measure, presented in a wider Middle East foreign policy bill, was introduced last week amidst a partial shutdown of the federal government, which was caused by a political impasse over funding between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

“It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity,” Sanders wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right.”

That message makes a mockery of the constitutional principle that Americans are free to believe as they choose

– ACLU, on the Combating BDS Act

Newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib also criticised the proposal, which the Senate may vote on as early as Tuesday, urging politicians to remember that the US Constitution guarantees free speech.

“They forgot what country they represent. This is the US. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

The statement provoked Marco Rubio, the Republican senator who introduced the bill last week, to accuse the Palestinian-American congresswoman of anti-Semitism.

Tlaib later clarified that her comment was not aimed at Jewish-Americans, but was about Republicans’ efforts to strip citizens of their right to freedom of expression instead of focusing on reopening the government.

Earlier in the day, Rubio defended the proposal, calling Sanders’ statement a “lie”.

He also emphasised that his proposal is legal, despite two federal court rulings in Kansas and Arizona last year concluding that it is unconstitutional to force state contractors to refrain from boycotting Israel.


Dozens of states have passed various forms of anti-BDS bills in recent years, but several of these measures are currently being challenged in courts across the US.

While Rubio’s bill boosts local and state efforts against boycotting Israel, it also extends to boycotts of “Israeli-controlled territories”, effectively targeting boycotts of Israeli businesses in the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank and Syrian Golan Heights.

The proposal is named the “Combating BDS Act of 2019” after the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel economically and politically to end its abuses against Palestinians.

“My bill doesn’t punish any political activity. It protects the right of local & state govts that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott #Israel. So boycotting #Israel is a constitutional right, but boycotting those participating in #BDS isn’t?” Rubio wrote on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded to Rubio by explaining that the First Amendment, which grants US citizens the right to free speech, belongs to the people, not the government.

“States don’t have the ‘right’ to punish individuals for participating in political boycotts the government doesn’t agree with, which this bill encourages them to do,” the group said on Twitter.

Rubio’s office did not respond to MEE’s request for comment on Monday.

Later in the day, the ACLU sent a letter to the members of the Senate, calling on them to reject the bill, “primarily due to First Amendment concerns”.

“The Combating BDS Act sends a clear message to Americans who engage on issues of global importance that if they dare to disagree with their government, they will be penalized and placed in a lesser class with fewer opportunities,” the letter said.

“That message makes a mockery of the constitutional principle that Americans are free to believe as they choose.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called on its supporters to contact their elected officials and urge them to reject the bill.

“This unconstitutional bill violates the First Amendment rights of all Americans to challenge the illegal and discriminatory actions of a foreign government and goes against the principles of free speech on which our country was founded,” CAIR government affairs director, Robert McCaw, said in a statement.

Government shutdown

Since late December, about 25 percent of US federal agencies have been closed because of the disagreement between Trump and Democrats over the president’s demand to allocate $5bn for a border wall with Mexico.

The failure to reach an agreement has killed efforts to pass several funding bills.

In that context, Rubio’s anti-BDS measure has been criticised as a distraction from the more consequential government shutdown, as well.

The timing of the bill, dubbed S1, as the first order of business of the new Senate in 2019, has even irked some politicians who are staunch supporters of Israel.


Tlaib’s rise comes in defiance of decades of attacks on Palestinians in US

In a Twitter post, Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat who introduced his own anti-BDS bill in 2017, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should not take up any other piece of legislation that does not address the “crisis” of the shutdown.

The ACLU letter also noted the concerning nature of proposing the bill at a time when lawmakers should be trying to resolve the more pressing issue of the shutdown.

“It is particularly alarming that the Senate is considering this bill amidst a partial government shutdown,” it said.

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights provided a sample letter to its supporters, calling on them to urge their senators to vote against the proposed bill.

“I am especially outraged that while parts of the government remain shutdown, the Senate would consider its most urgent act to be denying us our First Amendment rights,” the letter reads.

Hate speech without hate: Britain and the United States

December 28, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon


By Eve Mykytyn

Gilad Atzmon is fighting a battle for free speech in England. Here’s why it matters in the United States. Atzmon was prohibited by a local council, Islington, made up almost entirely of Labour Party members, from playing the saxophone with his band the Blockheads. The ban followed a complaint from a far right Zionist, who in his own social media posts frequently disparaged and threatened the Labour Party and its leader as anti Semitic.

The complainant submitted a number of quotations from Atzmon taken out of context and cut and pasted for the desired effect. In fact, Atzmon is not an anti Semite, although he is critical of identity politics and particularly of Jewish identity politics (for example, the group Jewish Voices for Peace, why not All Voices for Peace?). The council concluded that Atzmon’s views were “at the lowest provocative and distasteful or at the highest anti-Semitic and racist”.

England has hate speech laws and with that conclusion one might have expected the council to file a complaint. But Atzmon has never been charged or even questioned under such laws. Through a convoluted series of rationales, the council, which does not have policing power, decided it had the right to prohibit a saxophone player from joining his band. The Labour Party seems to support the council’s decision: the Guardian reported that a spokesman for the Labour Party, without proof, labelled Atzmon a “vile anti-Semite“. Would Atzmon, a critic of Israel, been allowed to have the council deny admission to hard core Zionists? Could the council ban Muslims in burkas about whom Zionists complained?

“The right to examine its history simply places the holocaust with other terrible events we must examine and learn from, such as the Armenian Holocaust or the countless and uncounted Africans who died in the middle passage.”

Atzmon was also falsely called a holocaust denier. Atzmon is a critic of European laws that forbid any examination into the holocaust that contradicts the “accepted” narrative. This is odd, because the count of six million is, in itself, a suspiciously round number. Could it have been 6,100,000? Timothy Snyder, a Jewish historian at Yale, has written in the book Bloodlands, Europe between Hitler and Stalin, that far more Jews were simply shot than had originally been thought. Is this a violation? And, of course, no other historical narrative has been granted the legal right to go unexamined. The right to examine its history simply places the holocaust with other terrible events we must examine and learn from, such as the Armenian Holocaust or the countless and uncounted Africans who died in the middle passage.

In the United States we are facing similar issues. At the moment, there is a groundswell of support for prohibiting ‘white supremacists’ or more accurately, those whom some perceive as ‘white supremacists,’ from speaking. The University of Virginia, a public college, banned Richard Spencer and nine other white nationalist from campus for four years, although there were no claims that any of the 10 had participated in violence. Effective prohibitions have also come from students in response to Charles Murray’s statistical analyses (as at Middlebury College where thrown bottles injured a professor). There was indeed violence at Charlottesville where ‘white nationalist’ gathered, but there was violence during the civil rights marches. Should we have prohibited those brave enough to fight Jim Crow?

Twenty five states now have anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) laws for state workers or government contractors prohibiting participation in and/or requiring divestment (another boycott?) of companies that support BDS. This even though the Supreme Court has long held that political boycotts –  are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. A similar bill is now pending in Congress and seems to enjoy wide support. Why can’t a teacher or a government contractor conclude that Israel’s persistent brutality towards the native Palestinians is worthy of a boycott? Like Atzmon’s saxophone playing, they are being subjected to a political test while simply trying to earn a living, unrelated to Israel or boycotts.

Clearly, this is a slippery slope and it appears Britain is still ahead of the United States in attacking unwanted speech. Let’s not race so hard to catch up.

*Eve Mykytin is a writer, editor and former financial lawyer


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