Israel’s Supreme Court — Upholding “Targeted Assassinations” and Torture

Global Research, November 08, 2019

Time and again, Israel’s high court upholds human and civil rights abuses committed by the state.

In 2006, the court upheld its targeted assassinations policy, claiming they’re OK when no other choices exist to protect against dangers to national security — that don’t exist it failed to say.

The policy contravenes Israeli law, the laws of war, and human rights law. Time and again, Israel falsely calls legitimate self-defense by Palestinians “terrorism,” unjustifiably justifying its lawless actions, most often upheld by its high court.

In Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. the Government of Israel et al (1999), Israel’s Supreme Court banned the practice it earlier OK’d, ruling “psychological pressure (and) a moderate degree of physical pressure” are permissible.

Israel’s 1987 Landau Commission condemned harsh interrogations amounting to torture, but approved the practice to obtain evidence for convictions in criminal proceedings, saying these tactics are necessary against “hostile (threats or acts of) terrorist activity and all expressions of Palestinian nationalism.”

Despite calling the 1984 UN Convention against Torture “absolute (with) no exceptions and no balances,” Israel’s high court OK’d coercive interrogations in three cases.

It permitted violent shaking, painful shackling, hooding, playing deafeningly loud music, sleep deprivation, and lengthly detainments.

Loopholes in the high court’s 1999 ruling OK’d abusive practices amounting to torture despite banning the practice.

It notably allowed physical force in so-called “ticking bomb” cases, giving Israeli interrogators and others wide latitude on their actions.

The court effectively ruled both ways, approving torture and other abusive practices despite banning it.

International law is clear and unequivocal on this issue, banning it at all times, under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions.

In 2015, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by human rights groups and political movements that called for overturning the Anti-Boycott Law.

At the time, the Global BDS Movement and Coalition for Women for Peace called the bill “one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted” by Knesset members, adding:

“Boycott is a nonviolent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that are protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. The bill constitutes a fatal blow to all these civil rights.”

The police state law punishes entities or individuals that call for boycotting Israel, or an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of its illegal settlements.

According to the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Israel’s Supreme Court “ignored the chilling effect of this law, and missed the opportunity to tell legislators that there are limits to their anti-human rights actions. This law encourages discrimination against the Arabs in Israel.”

The 2012 Nakba Law “harms both the freedom of expression and the civil rights of Arab citizens, even before its implementation.”

“Because the law’s formulation is so broad and vague, many institutions have already begun and will self-censor in order not to risk incurring penalties.”

Israel’s high court upheld the law, falsely claiming it “does not raise difficult and complex questions.”

It violates Arab history, culture, heritage, and the right to express, teach, or disseminate it freely.

Arab intellectual Constantin Zureiq earlier called the Nakba “the worst catastrophe in the deepest sense of the word, to have befallen the Arabs in their long and disaster-ridden history.”

Compromising their ability to publicly denounce what happened compounds the high crime against them.

Speech, press, and academic freedoms in Israel are gravely endangered. In 2017, legislation was enacted that banned foreign nationals who support BDS from entering the country.

Last April, Israel’s Jerusalem district court ruled against Human Rights Watch’s Israeli office director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, ordering him deported for supporting the global BDS movement, his lawful free expression right.

HRW appealed the ruling, petitioning Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the injustice. It got an injunction to let Shakir stay in the country until the high court heard his case.

On Tuesday, the court ruled against him, Shakir tweeting:

“Breaking: Israeli Supreme Court upholds my deportation over my rights advocacy. Decision now shifts back to Israeli gov; if it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave…(W)e won’t be the last.”

Critic of Israeli human rights abuses Amnesty International said

“the court has made it explicitly clear that those who dare to speak out about human rights violations by the Israeli authorities will be treated as enemies of the state.”

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against free expression. Without it, all other rights are jeopardized.

Compromising speech, press, and academic freedoms is the hallmark of totalitarian rule — the new normal in the US, other Western societies and Israel, affirmed by its high court.

Is is just a matter of time before Western ones rule the same way?

Is digital democracy in the West and Israel endangered?

Are abuses against Chelsea Manning, other whistleblowers, Julian Assange, and other independent journalists prelude for much more severe crackdowns against fundamental freedoms ahead?

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from IMEMC


Comment on Global Research Articles on our Facebook page

Become a Member of Global Research

محور المقاومة ينافس أميركا بسلاحها: استخدام العقوبات الاقتصادية؟

سبتمبر 23, 2019

د. عصام نعمان

كان وزير خارجية أميركا مايك بومبيو خلال زيارته السعودية قد وصف الهجوم على منشأتي أرامكو النفطية بأنه عمل حربي . لكنه خفّف لهجته بعد محادثاته مع ولي عهد أبو ظبي محمد بن زايد بقوله: نحن هنا لنشكّل تحالفاً يهدف إلى تحقيق السلام والتوصل إلى حلّ سلمي … هذا بالتأكيد ما يريد الرئيس ترامب منّي تحقيقه، وأتمنّى أن ترى الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية الأمر بهذه الطريقة .

إيران لا ترى الأمر بهذه الطريقة. قادتها السياسيون والعسكريون حذروا ترامب من الانجرار إلى حرب شاملة في الشرق الأوسط، وأكدوا أنها ستواجه أيّ عمل عدائي بردّ ساحق .

لماذا آثر الرئيس الأميركي المضيّ في اعتماد المزيد من العقوبات الاقتصادية في مواجهة إيران ومضاعفة الجهود الديبلوماسية لتوليف تحالف عالمي لحماية تدفق النفط عبر مضيق هرمز؟

الجواب يكمن في جملة دلالات تكشّف عنها الهجوم على منشآت أرامكو ، أبرزها خمس:

أولاها، انّ إدانة إيران رسمياً بأنها مدبّرة الهجوم ومنطلقه يستتبع بالضرورة الردّ على حربها بحربٍ مضادة، وهو أمر استبعده ترامب لأنه بالغ الخطورة

التتمة ص9

والكلفة اقتصادياً وسياسياً. ذلك أنّ إيران قادرة على الردّ باستهداف قواعد أميركا العسكرية في المنطقة والمزيد من منشآت النفط السعودية والإماراتية ما يولّد تداعياتٍ سياسية مضرّة بترامب نفسه المنهمك في معركة ضارية للفوز بولاية رئاسية ثانية.

ثانيتها، انّ فِرقَ التحقيق الأميركية وغيرها لم تتمكن من ان تحدّد بشكل قاطع الجهة المدّبرة للهجوم والمكان الذي انطلقت منه وسائل التدمير سواء كانت طائرات مسيّرة او صواريخ باليستية.

ثالثتها، انّ الحرب على إيران قد تتطوّر الى حرب شاملة تلفّ الشرق الأوسط برمّته، وقد تؤدّي الى تدمير منشآت النفط ليس في إيران فقط بل في السعودية والإمارات وقطر والبحرين أيضاً ما يتسبّب بأزمة نقص هائل في إمدادات النفط عالمياً.

إلى ذلك، ثمة دلالات أخرى تمخّض عنها الهجوم على منشآت أرامكو حملت الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا على التوقّف عندها ودرس مضاعفاتها وتداعياتها على حاضر الصراع ومستقبله مع إيران وحلفائها في محور المقاومة. فالهجوم، بكلّ مراحله وملابساته، تمّ بسريّة كاملة وبمنأى عن أجهزة الرصد والاستطلاع الأميركية ما يشير الى امتلاك إيران وحلفائها أجهزة سيبرانية والكترونية قادرة على إخفاء عمليات استطلاعها وإطلاق مسيّراتها وصواريخها على علوّ منخفض جداً، والقصف المركّز بسريّة تامة. كما تبيّن انّ منظومات الدفاع الجوي التي وفّرتها أميركا للسعودية إما كانت غير فعّالة او انّ مشغّيلها السعوديين لم يُحسِنوا استعمالها. كلّ ذلك يفسح في المجال للاعتقاد بأنّ في إمكان إيران وحلفائها تدمير ما تبقّى للسعودية من منشآت نفطية إذا ما اختارت الولايات المتحدة طريق الحرب للردّ على عملية تدمير منشآت أرامكو المستهدفَة مؤخراً.

أرى أن الأمر الأكثر أهمية في عملية ضرب أرامكو هو الإحاطة بالدافع الى ضرب هذا المرفق تحديداً وليس غيره من المرافق السعودية.

في هذا السياق يمكن التقدّم بتفسير جريء مفاده انّ الجهة المقتدرة التي ضربت أرامكو أرادت الإيحاء إلى السعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة كما إلى أميركا بأنها ليست قادرة على ردّ الكيل كيلين فحسب لكنها تقصّدت عدم تصعيد حربها الدفاعية ضدّ أعدائها بدليل قيامها بضرب مرفق اقتصادي مهمّ من دون التسبّب بسفك دماء ووقوع ضحايا بشرية ما يشكّل، بحدّ ذاته، دليلاً على استعدادها للانخراط في مفاوضات لإيجاد تسوية سياسية لحرب اليمن المتمادية.

فوق ذلك، ثمة مغزى أكثر دلالة وخطورة يمكن استخلاصه من ضرب منشآت أرامكو هو قدرة إيران وحلفائها في محور المقاومة على استخدام العقوبات الاقتصادية في الردّ على الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها في الشرق الأوسط. فشركة أرامكو التي تمتلكها السعودية مرفقٌ اقتصادي ضخم وإنتاجه النفطي هائل ما يسمح باستنتاجٍ مفاده انّ استهدافه من بين الآف المرافق السعودية الحيوية انما يُقصد به استخدام صنف من صنوف العقوبات الاقتصادية شديدة الضرر من دون إلحاق أذى بالمدنيين.

قد يقول قائل: إنّ فرض عقوبات اقتصادية يجري، غالباً، دونما استخدامٍ للعنف بل انها بديل من الحرب كونها تُلحِق بالجهة التي تُفرض عليها أضراراً شديدة من دون تكبيدها ضحايا بشرية. هذا صحيح، لكن فرض العقوبات الاقتصادية بطريق الحصار البحري او الجوي هو وقف على دولٍ تمتلك أساطيل بحرية وجوية الأمر الذي يتعذّر على الدول الصغيرة وحركات المقاومة التي لا تمتلك مثل هذه الأساطيل، فماذا تراها فاعلة؟ تلجأ إلى تعويض هذا النقص بفرض صنف من العقوبات الاقتصادية قوامه تعطيل مرافق حيوية استراتيجية مع الحرص على عدم إلحاق أذى بالمدنيين. ألم يهدّد قائد المقاومة السيد حسن نصرالله إسرائيل قبل أشهر بتدمير منشآتها النفطية البحرية إذا ما تجرّأت على منع لبنان من استخراج نفطه من مكامنه في مياهه الإقليمية؟

الولايات المتحدة لن تبتئس للتدمير والخسائر اللاحقة بمنشآت أرامكو بل ستسارع الى عرض المزيد من الأسلحة المتطوّرة ومنظومات الدفاع الجوي على السعودية لتشتريها بمئات ملايين الدولارات، وستطالب الرياض بمئات ملايين إضافية كبدل حماية لأمنها كما فعلت وابتزّتها في الماضي غير البعيد.

غير انّ ثمة سبباً آخر لعدم ابتئاس أميركا. ذلك انّ احتمال تدمير المزيد من منشآت إنتاج النفط في السعودية وغيرها من الدول المنتجة نتيجةَ استمرار حرب اليمن او نتيجةَ قيام إسرائيل ، منفردةً او بالتنسيق معها، بشنّ حربٍ على إيران وتمديدها الى سائر بلدان المنطقة، ووقف إنتاج النفط وتوريده الى شتى أنحاء العالم، سيتيح للولايات المتحدة فرصة ذهبية. كيف؟

انّ أميركا باتت اليوم أكبر منتج للنفط في العالم بعد نجاحها في استخراج مقادير هائلة من النفط الصخري بكلفة معقولة، وهي لا تجد لإنتاجها أسواقاً في دول أوروبا وآسيا وأفريقيا لاعتماد هذه الدول على نفط الشرق الأوسط الأدنى كلفة. لذلك فإنّ وقف إنتاج النفط في بلدان الخليج وإيران يتيح للولايات المتحدة فرصةً لتسويق نفطها في أسواقٍ عالمية واسعة من جهة، وتتيح لها، من جهة أخرى، ممارسة ضغوط أقوى على الصين التي تشنّ عليها في الوقت الحاضر حرباً تجارية متصاعدة.

قد تبدو هذه السيناريوات بعيدة المنال، لكنها ليست فوق العقل، لا سيما إذا ظلّت قيادة أميركا بيد حاكم من طراز ترامب يدير بلاده وربما غيرها أيضاً بتغريدات متناسلة ومتناقضة آناء الليل وأطراف النهار.

وزير سابق

Exclusive: Rashida Tlaib’s Granny Supports Her Refusal of ‘Israeli’ Conditions

By Al-Ahed Correspondent

Occupied Palestine – Soon after the ‘Israeli’ occupation imposed restrictions on the visit of Democratic US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s visit to the occupied territories, the family anticipating her was totally disappointed.

Tlaib was supposed to visit her grandmother’s home in the village of “Beit Aour al-Fawqa” in the West Bank.

But following the Zionist conditions imposed on the US congresswoman’s visit, Rashida voiced rejection and said in a tweet on her account:

“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The lady in her nineties, called Muftiyya, told al-Ahed in an exclusive interview that she is sad that the occupation’s authorities barred Rashida from visiting occupied Palestine without conditions.

“I was happy with her visit, which was supposed to happen in the coming days, but the occupation’s conditions barred her,” she told al-Ahed, adding that “I prepared delicious meals to receive her, but the occupation killed our joy.”

Her family further voiced support for Rashida’s refusal to submit to the Zionist conditions, considering it a restriction of her freedom. They were also proud of the decision Rashida has made.

Tlaib’s uncle supports her decision

For his part, Rashida’s uncle Bassam said that their stance is the same as Rashida: “We reject the humiliating conditions that were put on her visit of family and relatives in Palestine,” adding that “Rashida has the right to visit Palestine without any condition.”

Bassam also hailed the congresswoman’s stance from the Zionist occupation, noting that the Zionist entity rejects the voices calling for people’s right to self-determination, explaining that the enemy wants Rashida to meet with ‘Israeli’ officials before visiting the Palestinian territories, which she rejected.

The Zionist occupation had blocked the visit of Rashida Tlaib and her fellow Ilhan Omar after pressures from US President Donald Trump. However, according to Zionist officials, the block came due to their Boycott, Divestment, Sanction ‘Israel’ BDS movement ties.

Earlier, Tlaib and Omar voiced solidarity with the pro-Palestinian BDS Movement due to the Zionist policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Tlaib later tweeted: One day @IlhanMN and I will see Bethlehem and InshAllah it will be free when we do. #FreePalestine

Related Videos

Related posts

Israel’s Hands Spread Wide and Dig Deep

Image result for Israel’s Hands Spread Wide and Dig Deep
Brian Cloughley
August 6, 2019
© Photo: Flickr / Official Photo by Caleb Smith

In the US House of Representatives on 23 July there was an overwhelming vote condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement which has the objective of encouraging the government of Israel to meet “its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully comply with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the 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 homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

There is nothing morally or legally questionable in any of these aims.  But the United States Congress does not concern itself with morality or legality if these are inconsistent with its policy concerning Israel, which, as enunciated by Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, is based on the conviction that “Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats.”  Fox News reported that the condemnatory resolution “has been pushed by AIPAC, the influential Israel lobby in Washington,” which explains a great deal, as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a very powerful organisation, with deep pockets and wide-spreading hands.

In February 2019 The Intercept noted  that “AIPAC, on its own website, recruits members to join its ‘Congressional Club,’ and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.” In a film called The Lobby “Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells an Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results.”  A secret recording revealed that “Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress.”

And AIPAC influences Congress and other agencies extremely efficiently, even to the extent of managing to have Al Jazeera refrain from broadcasting the US-focused version of The Lobby.The Director of Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, Clayton Swisher, said that pressure included “pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington threatening to convince Congress to register the network as ‘foreign agents,’ and false accusations of anti-Semitism against the producers of the documentary.”  That’s all you need:  the mere mention of anti-Semitism makes everyone suck their teeth, roll their eyes, and leap out of the way.

It so happened that the day before Congress condemned an initiative aimed at having Israel recognise the rights of Palestinians and abide by international law, the Israelis carried out an operation of destruction that was specifically aimed against the rights of Palestinians and was contrary to international law.  As the BBC reported, it involved 200 Israeli soldiers and 700 police, weapons at the ready, deploying to the Palestinian village of Wadi Hummus at 4 in the morning of July 22, along with bulldozers and excavators that proceeded to destroy Palestinian homes.

There wasn’t a word of objection from the US Administration whose Tweeter-in-Chief had made his views on Israel crystal-clear on 16 July when he announced that the four non-white female Members of Congress whom he loathes to the point of psychosis are “a bunch of Communists [who] hate Israel.”  Moreover, they “talk about Israel like they’re a bunch of   thugs, not victims of the entire region.”  On the other hand, the European Union stated that “Israel’s settlement policy, including actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, is illegal under international law. In line with the EU’s long-standing position, we expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions.”  Fat chance of that — just as there is no possibility that the United states or the United Kingdom will support pursuit of international law when it is violated by Israel.

Britain is on its way out of the European Union, so has no say in EU policy, but in any case it wouldn’t agree about criticism of Israel because the governing Conservative Party fosters an organisation called ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’ (CFI) whose members constitute some eighty per cent of Conservative Members of Parliament.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Trump-loving new prime minister, is a fervid supporter of CFI which supported him in his bid to be head of the Conservative party. On 23 July, after his selection to be leader and thus prime minister, the CFI’s Chairmen, Stephen Crabb MP and Lord Pickles, and Honorary President Lord Polak declared that “From his refusal to boycott Israeli goods in his time as Mayor of London through to his instrumental role as Foreign Secretary…  Boris has a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel and the Jewish community. Mr Johnson continued to display his resolute support… reiterating his deep support for Israel and pledging to be a champion for Jews in Britain and around the world.”

One of Johnson’s first ministerial appointments was of Ms Priti Patel to be Home Secretary. She had resigned from the Cabinet of PM Theresa May in November 2017 because it had been discovered that she had been telling lies, which wasn’t in itself unusual, but the circumstances were intriguing.  As the BBC headlined about the then head of International Development :  “Priti Patel quits cabinet over Israel meetings row” which involved her apologising to the prime minister “after unauthorised meetings in August with Israeli politicians — including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — came to light. But it later emerged she had two further meetings without government officials present in September.”  Not only that, but in a media interview “she gave the false impression that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Foreign Office knew about her meetings in Israel.”

It’s one of these irregular verbs which were met with much laughter during the marvellous BBC series ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ — ‘I make a misstatement;  she gives a false impression;  he is in prison for telling lies.’

And it was decidedly strange that the egregious Lord Polak, he of the statement that Boris Johnson stands “shoulder to shoulder with Israel” accompanied Patel at 13 of her 14 meetings with Israeli officials during August and September. What on earth could have been going on?

Of course she had no reason to worry about having to resign for telling lies, because at the time of her disgrace Boris Johnson told the BBC that “Priti Patel has been a very good colleague and friend for a long time and a first class secretary of state for international development. It’s been a real pleasure working with her and I’m sure she has a great future ahead of her.”  The man has the gift of prophecy.

Then Johnson appointed Michael Gove to his Cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is a weird appointment that gives a lot of power and very little responsibility. Gove had been demonstrably disloyal to Johnson during the first leadership struggle, in what the Daily Telegraph called a “spectacular act of treachery” but all was forgiven because, as recorded approvingly by the Conservative Friends of Israel he believes that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are “two sides of the same coin”, which means that anybody who criticises Israel’s nationalistic persecution of Palestinians is an anti-Semite. He believes that “the test for any civilised society is whether it stands with the Jewish people, and whether it stands with Israel. It is a pleasure to stand with the Jewish people. It is a duty to stand with Israel.”

The Palestinians are not going to get one tiny bit of support from either the United States or Britain when their houses are bulldozed to rubble.  They can expect no criticism from Washington or London when their children are killed in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.

The West Bank of the Jordan River, between Israel and Jordan, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Then it annexed East Jerusalem. Both areas are defined in international law as occupied territory.  Although this is ignored by the US and Britain it was intriguing that in a minor but telling legal finding in Canada on 30 July, a judge ruled that wines made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank should not carry labels that say “Product of Israel” because of course the settlements are built on Palestinian land.

But there’s no point in telling that to the Israeli-supporting wine connoisseur Donald Trump or the US Congress or any member of Britain’s governing Conservative party, because international law means nothing when there are other priorities.

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 outlawbds.com, 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 outlawbds.com 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 outlawbds.com 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: outlawbds.com 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 CanaryMission.org 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

Source

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.

%d bloggers like this: