Jun 12, 2010

SECTION 13 SERIES: Discrimination in the name of "Human Rights" - Section 13 targets one race exclusively

To all -

I have known Canadian activist and computer whizz, Marc Lemire, since he was a teenager, and I can vouch for his integrity and responsible activism on behalf of Freedom of Speech.

The text below should be of interest particularly to Human Rights organizations and individual activists as well as to attorneys involved in Freedom of Speech cases, such as the American-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

Please take a look.  This is a stunning document about corruption in the Canadian Human Rights industry.  Unless enough of us resist, Whites living in the U.S. will be next.



Here is part two in the Section 13 Exposed! series.
Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, is Canada's shameful internet censorship legislation, where truth is no defence, intent is no defence, in fact, there are zero defences! Recently in the Lemire case, Section 13 has been found to be unconstitutional.  The censorship enforcers appealed to the Federal Court of Canada.
These articles on Section 13 will document all the different angles of Internet censorship and the threat it poses to freedom and liberty in Canada.
Canada's needs freedom of speech on the Internet, and the fanatical CHRC wants to silence thought and speech.  To date, they have spent millions to keep their censorship franchise running.  With the most recent ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop all enforcement of Section 13 - Marc Lemire's case is the only active Section 13 case in all of Canada!  Unfortunately, all the weight of the state censors will be brought to bear.
Please send what you can to assist in the Lemire case.   The Lemire case will be the definitive challenge to internet censorship.  Your help is desperately needed.
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-Marc Lemire
Introduction: History of Section 13 Genesis of Section 13: From Taylor to "Terrorism"
Part #1 SECTION 13 A Sword not a Shield! The Aggressive Nature of Internet Censorship
Part #2
Discrimination in the name of "Human Rights"
 Section 13 targets one race exclusively
The Canadian Human Right Act was drafted and remains, apart from section 13, a statute addressing discrimination in housing, employment, and goods and services on various prohibited grounds. The Human Rights Act defines discriminatory practices related to the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodations (ss. 5, 14), the provision of commercial premises or residential accommodation (ss. 6, 14), hiring and employment practices (ss. 7,8,9,10,11, 12, 14), and retaliation against a complainant under the Act.
These provisions relate to the ability of a person to survive in society, to eat, to find a place to live, to find employment and a means of making a living. The retaliation provision is an attempt to protect those seeking a remedy under the statute. Section 13, however, does not relate to these fundamental means of surviving and earning a living in Canadian society.
A review of the case law conclusively shows that Section 13 is used to target individuals.  Of the complaints actually sent to a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) hearing, virtually no non-section 13 decisions in the years 2006 and 2007 were made which involved a respondent who was an individual.  In 2007, for example, the CHRT website lists 59 rulings and decisions made in that year. In non-section 13 cases, respondents included the Treasury Board of Canada, the Canadian Forces, Canada Post Corporation, Air Canada and Canadian National Railway.
When section 13 complaints alone are examined, however, the situation is exactly the opposite. Virtually all respondents, that were legally persons, were individuals or small associated groups of individuals.
As a practical matter, the discriminatory practices set out in the statute, other than section 13, will involve an individual or class of individuals who feel aggrieved against a federally regulated employer or service provider.  Of necessity, the respondent will be, and almost always is, a corporation or a government agency or department or a band under federal jurisdiction.
Under these provisions, the respondent is an entity who has allegedly discriminated against an individual or class of individuals in the provision of employment or services. But under section 13, the respondent is not providing any service or employment. He or she is someone who has used the federally regulated telecommunications facility, in a manner which is allegedly contrary to the statute. While corporations are obviously subject to section 13, not one corporation or federal agency or department has ever been the subject of a decision of the CHRT in the over thirty year history of the provision.
In the other discriminatory practices, an employer or service provider is the person being held liable. In section 13, it is the ordinary person, not in business and not a tax-funded government department or agency, who is being held liable.
The very definitions of discriminatory acts set out in the statute, other than section 13, ensure that in practice only those persons aggrieved by certain acts or policies will lay complaints. Such persons, because they have suffered harm, are looking for remedies to the situation in the fastest and most efficient manner possible. Conciliation and mediation are therefore welcome procedures that can be and are used by complainants under these provisions.
In the chart, Total CHRC Decisions (2002-2006), data from the CHRC 2006 Annual Report [1] shows that the remedial procedures set out in the statute appear to work well in resolving complaints.  Only 11% of the total complaints filed for those years were unresolved and were sent to a hearing before the CHRT.
When complaints filed under section 13 alone are looked at, however, the situation is exactly the opposite.  In the chart "Section 13 CHRC Decisions 1978 - 2007," it can be seen that fully 68% of complaints were sent on to a CHRT hearing. Only 4% were settled.  Once complaints are sent to the CHRT, complaints under section 13 again are resolved in a manner strikingly different from non-section 13 complaints. 
The chart "Mediated Cases before the CHRT," sets out the percentages of complaints resolved through mediation once they have been forwarded to the CHRT. In 2004, fully 67% of all complaints sent to the CHRT were settled through mediation. In 2005, this figure rose to 73.5% and in 2006 to 86% of complaints. Of section 13 complaints alone, however, only 10% of cases were settled through mediation at the CHRT in its entire thirty-two years history!  In the ultimate resolution of cases, all individuals who have been before the tribunal have been found liable under section 13.
Section 13 is clearly different from all other discriminatory practices under the CHRA. It is different with respect to the persons who are the subject of complaints and it is different in the way complaints are processed and resolved. The differences are not minor. In every way, section 13 complaints are the mirror image of non-section 13 complaints, to the detriment of respondents and the effect on freedom of speech.
Section 13: Used to target one group only
A 2007 Access to Information request filed by Marc Lemire, shows that since the inception of the Human Rights Act (to 2007), the CHRC has investigated 100 complaints under Section 13. Of those; the CHRC sent an overwhelming 68% of them on to a hearing before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
As odd as it sounds, the Canadian Human Rights Commission is just like a typical third-world government agency. Their files are in such disarray they don't actually know how many Section 13 complaints they have even received.[2] In 2007, the number of 100 referred to in Lemire's Access request is largely a guess on how many have been received. 
A lawyer representing the CHRC in the Lemire hearings, stated on the record:
MS. BLIGHT (CHRC Lawyer): Mr. Chairman, may I add for the record that I am familiar with this as counsel for the Commission, and I can advise Ms. Kulaszka and yourself that the number of 100 was based on the Commission's electronic recordkeeping system, and the Commission is not, in fact, able to conclusively confirm the accuracy of that number but it is the best number that the Commission has been able to produce based upon the records that it has at this time.[3]
The number of 68% of all Section 13 cases being sent to the Tribunal is in stark contrast to the rest of the Canadian Human Rights Act.   In all other (non-Section 13) cases, only a mere 11% are sent on to a Tribunal hearing.[4] 
A comprehensive review of all complaints the CHRC have dealt with, shows the agency only targets and sends on to the Tribunal a certain racial class of "offenders".  100% of cases have whites as respondents.
The statistics speak volumes:
·        ONLY ONE respondent have ever won a section 13 case before the tribunal.
·        100% of cases have Whites as respondents 
·        98% of cases have poor or working class respondents 
·        90.7% of respondents are not represented by lawyers
·        To date, $93,000 has been awarded in fines and special compensation since 2003.
·        37 respondents have lifetime speech bans (Cease and Desist) orders and if not followed the victims could face up to 5 years in prison.
·        72.4% of complaints specifically identify "jews" as victims.
·        48.8% of all cases are by Richard Warman (all but 3 cases since 2002)
Is Section 13 censorship really needed?
From 2002 to present, the law has been almost exclusively used by a single former employee of the Canadian Human Rights Commission
Further reading on Section 13:
·        Introduction: History of Section 13 Genesis of Section 13: From Taylor to "Terrorism"
·        Part #1 SECTION 13 A Sword not a Shield! The Aggressive Nature of Internet Censorship
I Desperately need your help to continue
Fighting the fanatics at the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission and defending freedom of speech for ALL Canadians is not an easy task. In particular, the Federal Court of Canada challenge to defeat Canada's internet censorship legislation, has consumed an immense amount of time and resources. This has meant sacrificing a lot of cherished things in my life that I used to take for granted such as spending precious time with my wonderful children. It's also very costly and has incurred heavy debts given that I'm facing a "Human Rights" juggernaut that has a limitless budget. It has already spent millions and is prepared to spend a lot more of your tax dollars to keep their thought control machine running.
My courageous lawyer Barbara Kulaszka and myself have demonstrated what two dedicated researchers can accomplish against overwhelming odds. We have single-handedly and doggedly fought the system and exposed the corrupt underbelly of the "Human Rights" Commission's fanatics. Nothing ever comes easy when you are fighting such a racket. This case is a seminal one, where the outcome will have serious implications on our right to think and speak freely in this country for generations to come. All Canadians will benefit if we manage to get this shameful law expunged from our legal books.
Every victory we've attained against the "Human Rights" juggernaut has come at great expense. Nothing has come easy.  In fact, the "Human Rights" Commission has done everything in their power to stop exposure of their twisted censorship agenda.
I cannot carry on this important fight alone. Your donations literally equal the survival of this case. I wish to thank all those that have donated to this worthy cause. Please donate directly to us so that I can send out a personal thank you. If you have donated to another organization or individual please contact me so I can thank you directly and send you a copy of our special booklet that is for our supporters only.
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It's time to end the censorship of the extremist Canadian Human Rights Commission!
Stop Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act

[1] 2006 CHRC Annual Report - Page 21
[2] Access to Information Request filed by Marc Lemire with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.  Dated June 12, 2007.  *Note that the CHRC has admitted to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that they are not conclusively sure exactly how many complaints have been received, but this is their best guess. [Lemire CHRT Transcripts - Volume 24, Page 5266 - 5267]
[3] Lemire CHRC Transcripts. Volume: 24, Page: 5266-5267
[4] 2006 Canadian Human Rights Commission Annual Report - Page 21


Nader: ‘Anti-semitism against Arabs is rife’ in U.S



Nader: 'Anti-semitism against Arabs is rife' in U.S.

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 11:10 AM PDT

Washington Post poll says that 91 percent of people are opposed to Helen Thomas's removal. Talk about the American street. And here is Ralph Nader on the Thomas resignation. Calls it a "professional execution." More:

She's a courageous journalist... blazed the way for women like no one did.... She set the standard for journalists, asking the tough questions... [to Bush] "Why did you invade Iraq?"

She also asked questions about the Israeli-Palestinian situation...

Do you know how many people [in Washington]... privately... say bad things about Arabs? Antisemitism against Arabs is rife in politics today... Ann Coulter... said horrific things about going over there and slaughtering Muslims....

More: the open-air prison that is Gaza, the USS Liberty too and the rubberstamping by the US of the Israeli investigation. Israeli nukes? Reporters are afraid to ask about them. 

I like Nader's freshness about ethnic identification. "She's of Arab origin for heaven's sake," says Nader, who is himself of Arab origin. Put the shoe on the other foot, he says: Imagine a a massive Arab power was pummeling the Jews. What do you think Jewish-American reporters would do, he asks: they'd say a lot more than Helen Thomas...

US position on flotilla is compromised by its love of drones

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 10:37 AM PDT

I wonder if this is an Aquino moment for Israel. In 1983, Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos ordered opposition leader Nino Aquino dragged from the plane and executed upon his return from exile. It was illustrative of how Marcos, forever coddled by his U.S. protectors, was so insulated from any meaningful rebuke that he thought he could eliminate a political foe in broad daylight with impunity. It was caught on film and was the end of his regime.

There is also the resemblance to the French intelligence bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior in 1985. Again, a ruthless attack by a mighty military upon a defenseless activist group, killing one. And like the Rainbow Warrior's mission, last week's flotilla was arguably provocative — for all the best reasons — but nevertheless provocative.

The deaths visited upon the flotilla deserve all the outrage pouring forth from the international community. Still, I became uneasy with the intense focus on Israel's wrongdoing. Granted, this blog's focus is on the complications and contradictions inherent in the Zionist endeavor, but I've watched with increasing horror how my own government — via an essentially autonomous CIA — uses drones to selectively kill perceived threats in lands far away.

How can the U.S. operate as a moral arbiter in the flotilla affair? Warfare by drone brings a detached cold-bloodedness that ups the ante of the term "war is hell" (even its name is evocative of an empty, unfeeling killing machine). Someone with skills developed on video games can annihilate a family in Afghanistan with a squeeze of a trigger. (And let's be honest, when it came to 9-11, the Taliban were at best bit players.) Yet we kill people in their homes based upon suspicions and God knows what quality of intelligence.

A U.N. Human Rights report released last week cries out against the Pandora's box opened up by extra-judicial execution by drone, especially once the technology inevitably proliferates to other countries.

For, as the report's author said to the New York Times, "If invoked by other states, in pursuit of those they deem to be terrorists and to have attacked them, it would cause chaos." 

But an unnamed U.S. "official," not surprisingly, tells the Times we'll do whatever the hell we want, thank you very much: "The United States has an inherent right to protect itself and will not refrain from doing so based on someone else's exceptionally narrow — if not faulty — definition of self-defense."

"Wired" reported that drones have killed hundreds of innocents in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But, as Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute points out, they have also killed 20 "high value" terrorist targets. The U.S. military has 7,000 such drones, and the Dept. of Homeland Security has some too. When asked on NPR whether he supported the use of drones, Singer said essentially it depended upon how they were used.

Well, you could say that about most any weapon.

The U.S. at one time denounced targeted assassinations carried out by Israel; now it's clear the U.S. has adopted the policy.

Some argue that drones are preferable to the carnage of carpet-bombing. Perhaps so. During WWII Orwell wrote of the contradictions in a society that will go to great lengths to punish murder of an innocent individual, yet will condone and rationalize wholesale aerial bombings of civilian centers. He described feeling a kind of interplanetary existential disorientation — as if earthlings were not quite the intelligent, caring humans they make themselves out to be.

The late Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King told me it was worth heeding war criminal Albert Speer's warning that mankind's moral compass was not keeping pace with its technical ability to create ever more lethal, insidious weaponry. It could be argued that the farther away our technology separates us from the carnage we cause, we are that much more detached from our humanity. Still, a few old-fashioned kicks to the face before a coup de grace through the skull don't seem all that humane either.

So, do we celebrate a cold-hearted brave new world of less collateral damage? Or does mankind's eternal vigil, awaiting the elusive morality upgrade, go on as ever before? True, the numbers are smaller, which could count as progress. Unless one of those few belong to you.

The following was written in memory of a teenager killed by a "stray bullet" in Gaza, but can stand for any innocent senselessly cut down.

For Mohammed Zeid of Gaza, Age 15

By Naomi Shihab Nye

There is no stray bullet, sirs.

No bullet like a worried cat
crouching under a bush,
no half-hairless puppy bullet
dodging midnight streets.
The bullet could not be a pecan
plunking the tin roof,
not hardly, no fluff of pollen
on October's breath,
no humble pebble at our feet.

So don't gentle it, please.

We live among stray thoughts,
tasks abandoned midstream.
Our fickle hearts are fat
with stray devotions, we feel at home
among bits and pieces,
all the wandering ways of words.

But this bullet had no innocence, did not
wish anyone well, you can't tell us otherwise
by naming it mildly, this bullet was never the friend
of life, should not be granted immunity
by soft saying—friendly fire, straying death-eye,
why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?

Mohammed, Mohammed, deserves the truth.
This bullet had no secret happy hopes,
it was not singing to itself with eyes closed
under the bridge.


Solidarity with Palestinians, yes– but why not solidarity with Jews?

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 08:07 AM PDT

I'm struck by the hysterical tone of Hirsh Goodman's piece saying that Israel must go to war against critical information. You'd think Goodman has some worldliness. He grew up in South Africa, was a reporter for many years, and is married to the New York Times correspondent. Yet he defends the murderous flotilla raid and the slaughter of Gaza in 08-09 and is angry that Israel is not getting its message out to maintain its image in the world, and its lifeline of international support. 

The obvious response to Goodman is that this battle is lost. The world is tired of Israel shaping the news, the world is tired of miraculous battles with "terrorists" in which nine non-Jews are killed and all the Israelis survive, and the dispossession doesn't stop. Even in the U.S. public opinion is now in play. Every day in the West Bank, Jewish colonists run over Palestinians on the Jews-only roads or Israeli soldiers shoot young Palestinians or evict them from their homes. That's what the world is focused on.

Still: Goodman feels the walls closing in. Almost all Israelis seem to feel the same way. 

I spend a lot of my day doing Palestinian solidarity, trying to put myself in another people's shoes. So what about solidarity with the Israelis? At a time when many people are clearly demonizing Israel (other states do bad stuff too; I was in Egypt last year, oppressive), why am I not on the side of the people I grew up calling my own, the Jews, and with them the Israelis, so many of them similar culturally to me? 

This is a genuine challenge, morally, spiritually, politically.

I first heard it a year ago in Gaza. A psychotherapist said to my group, Please, please put yourself in the minds of the Israelis, you who are their friends. We are imprisoned but they are not free. They are gripped by fear; how else can you explain their wanton destruction of our society. Something must be done for these people-- and the therapist was calling on us to reach out to them and try and heal them.  

The therapist felt, as I feel, that only greater bloodshed is likely to result until the Israelis overcome a psychosis. As Matthew Taylor wrote,

During my travels in Israel, I found many of the Israeli Jews I interviewed to be intensely scared to their deepest core, behind all of the bluster and tough talk about not giving an inch to the Arabs. We must remember: understandable, justifiable fear of anti-Jewish oppression was the most powerful motivating factor for the project of political Zionism from its inception 130 years ago, and I argue that fear still is the primary motivating factor whether it's justified fear or not

In a word, Hirsh Goodman.

The reason I do Palestinian solidarity is that there is no question about who is suffering and who isn't in Israel and Palestine. It is a grotesquely unjust situation with respect to human and civil rights, reminiscent of American slavery in the unfairness and the benediction granted the unfairness in Washington. Back then, I would have been a writer for an abolitionist newspaper; I'm proud to be doing this work.

As a Jew, I believe the only way to save my fellows from the despair of what Israel has become is not to justify Israel's actions, it is for American Jews to reclaim their tradition of liberalism and fight the Israel lobby in this country and convey their social/political understanding to the Israelis.

I use the word psychosis because Israeli society is conditioned by the Holocaust and the 6 million and the belief that Jews can trust no one else. As Norman Mailer said, Hitler's bitterest achievement was reducing Jews to the concern, Is it good for the Jews?

But not Mailer. And this is the sad truth about Zionism: it distilled distrust. Its nationalistic appeal sorted out Jews who were fearful about antisemitism from those who were not. It sorted out those who believe that Jews must look out for Jews from those who favor integration in western societies. It sorted out the ethnocentric, Is-it-good-for-the-Jews types, from Jews who think it's OK to marry non-Jews. And in that division, the fearful took power. They moved to Israel or manned the barricades of the Israel lobby, and the integrators married non-Jews or wrote books about jazz and checked out. The fearful were granted power by the rest of the community. It is no coincidence that Leon Wieseltier, one of the stalwarts of the Israel lobby in this country, is someone who has at times embraced paranoia (I think he called it anxiety) and was a member of the Jewish Defense League when he was in high school. Richard Perle and David Frum ("victory or Holocaust", sending us to Iraq) are probably just as bad. Jeffrey Goldberg concluded as a young man studying the Holocaust and the American response that the diaspora was the "disease" and Israel was the cure, and so he moved to Israel and served in a prison that oppresses Palestinians. All these men think that Jews must rely on themselves. And with that understanding, they are isolating the Jews of Israel from the world.

So I accept the charge. I am part of the Jewish community, and feel solidarity with the Jews of Israel. And the best thing I can do for them now is to convey to them firmly but kindly, this is not the way to deal with other people, and many, many Jews have reached that understanding. You are isolating yourselves from the world, it is time to listen. Please.

We need Roger Cohen to stand up for his opposition to nationalist myth-formation

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 07:54 AM PDT

The other day the New York Times went out of its way to bash Shlomo Sand for his book, The Invention of the Jewish People. The Times reported on new genetic studies suggesting a close DNA relation among Jews of the world and hastened to add:

They refute the suggestion made last year by the historian Shlomo Sand in his book "The Invention of the Jewish People" that Jews have no common origin but are a miscellany of people in Europe and Central Asia who converted to Judaism at various times.

This potshot deserves a strong response.

First, Sand's book is not chiefly about genetics; genetics make up about 7 pages. He's not a geneticist, he's a historian, and his purpose in the book was to trace the rise of Jewish nationalism, and of a Jewish story about a common origin going back 3000 years (in Netanyahu's view) so as to justify Israel's Zionist project. The brilliance of the book (and it truly is that) is its exploration of the rise of nationalist ideology in the 19th century and the ways that proto-Zionist historians shaped their view of the Bible to serve a nationalistic quest.

Sand relates genetic explorations to 1850s studies of race that served nationalism in Europe and observes:

Israel's rule since 1967 over a growing non-Jewish population intensified the urge to find an enclosing ethnobiological boundary.

Wow. That's Sand's method-- the rapier thrust.

Now Sand may be wrong about his debunking of the genetic studies, I don't know and don't really care. As I say, it's 7 pages in the book. Genetics is not destiny in any case. And this is where I urgently call on Roger Cohen to get engaged in this conversation-- a conversation about the historical/religious myths that are created to justify nationalistic and racist separation.

Why Roger Cohen? I met him a month back in Qatar. He's truly a worldly person who treats other groups than his own as equals. I read that his heart was broken by the partition of the former Yugoslavia; and you can see that passion in his great Iranian reporting of a year ago, and in his book on Yugoslavia, Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo.

In that book, Cohen landed on the myths that nationalists produced to justify projects of ethnic cleansing and supremacy. Milosevic, he said, postulated something that "had never existed" in order to justify Serbian crimes against Muslims-- a "Serbian state stretching from Belgrade to Knin [in Croatia]" and going back 600 years. And listen to his passion against nationalism:

The unscrambling of centuries of miscegenation in Europe in the name of relatively new ideas--that of the "nation-state" and its perversion, the "nation-as-tribe"--reached a paroxysm during the twentieth century. Hitler and Stalin moved or annihilated millions in the name of racist ideology or social engineering. More than one million Greeks were "resettled" from Turkey during the 1920s; six million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazi's; more than three million ethnic Germans from Central Europe and the Soviet Union were "resettled"in the aftermath of World War II. Violence, the very heart of fascist ideologies in which differences of class and background were subsumed, grew in proportion to the often tenuous reality of the national idea. As Hans Magnus Enzensberger has observed, "The Aryan was never anything more than a risible construct," a form of "compensation" for the mixed blood of the German and Austrian peoples. Similarly, in the Balkans, the post-communist "construct" of the Serbian, Croatian, and finally Bosnian Muslim nations had to be imbued with a compensatory fervor that masked the reality of mingling expressed in the idea of Yugoslavia. This fervor of the resurgent nation--built as much around legend as historical fact--in turn produced bloodshed not seen in Europe since 1945.

Wonderful, huh?

We are facing great bloodshed in the Middle East unless Jews begin to examine the legends and historical constructs that have justified the landgrab project that Israel licensed in the name of the Jews who were in Jerusalem 3000 years ago, per Netanyahu, and inventing hummus. Shlomo Sand has repeatedly been knocked in the Times, but he is offering a door to Jews and Israelis to examine our presence in the world in non-nationalistic terms, but as a religious civilization. Cohen should be engaged in this struggle. Because he shares Sand's universalistic beliefs and knows the danger of social ideologies that mask the "reality of mingling." 

(Oh and by the way: yes, Yugoslavia underwent partition-- and there was also a robust right of return for refugees, guaranteed.)

Recasting the Gaza blockade as a humanitarian project

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 07:56 PM PDT

Israel's efforts to control the narrative of the flotilla raid that left at least nine dead and dozens wounded have come under increasing scrutiny, with more and more contradictory evidence coming to light. Less attention has been focused on Israel's equally ambitious campaign to recast the nature of the blockade itself.

Anyone paying even slight attention over the past few years knows that Israel implemented the policy to deprive a million and a half civilians of adequate supplies of the necessities of life, such as food, water, medicine, cooking fuel, clothing, even children's toys. The Israelis have been allowing in enough goods that they calculate are necessary to keep people from dying of starvation. The Israelis consider anything in excess to be "luxuries" that must be kept from the Gazans until they overthrow Hamas, recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, free Gilad Shalit, or whatever is the cause du jour. Since the object of the siege was to compel a change of leadership, it had to be rigorous enough to cause severe pain to a large majority of the civilian population; mere inconvenience or annoyance would not do. Gazans had to experience real hardship and struggle for the Israeli policy to have even a remote chance of success. (It recalls Ariel Sharon's phrase "moderate physical pressure" used to describe garden-variety torture, as if "moderate" suffering could persuade unwilling victims to reveal secrets.)

For years, Israel made no secret of its motives. Dov Weissglas, top aide to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, famously said: "It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die." In February, 2009, Senator John Kerry learned that many truckloads of pasta were denied entry because only rice, not pasta, fit the Israeli definition of humanitarian aid. Apparently, the Israelis were at least temporarily shamed into reversing this position. As recently as March, 2010, it was announced that Israel would allow in the first shipment of clothes and shoes in more than two years.

All that has changed, however, in recent weeks, as Israel and its supporters began to recast the siege as designed to prevent the importation of weapons to be used against Israeli civilians. Of course, Israel always had a policy of interdicting such arms importations. Had it merely continued that policy, there would have been virtually no controversy and no attempts to break the siege. Inspect the pasta truck and let it through.

The true (and undisputed) nature of Israel's cruelty toward Gaza presented a potential public relations nightmare for Israel.

With unprecedented world attention drawn to the flotilla even before the lethal attack on its passengers, Israel naturally preferred to defend its position by creating an alternative reality. Rather than continue to admit that it was defending its "right" to keep purely civilian goods out of Gaza, the blockade was misrepresented as the only means to prevent the bad guys from importing weapons to be used against Israeli citizens.

Look how prominent Israelis and their supporters have changed the discourse. From the chief himself: "Mr. Netanyahu argues that the naval blockade is essential to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza by Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction. But, he said Sunday: 'We have no desire to make things difficult for the civilian population in Gaza. We would like for goods that are neither war matériel nor contraband to enter Gaza.'" This from the head of the government that has openly "desired to make things difficult for the civilian population in Gaza" by preventing the entry of "goods that are neither war matériel nor contraband."

For sheer chutzpah, this is hard to beat. But that hasn't stopped others from trying.

On June 3, the New York Times published two op-eds on the flotilla covering the gamut of opinion from A to B. Ambassador Michael Oren, who has expertly assumed the job requirement of designated liar, wrote: "There is little doubt as to the real purpose of the Mavi Marmara's voyage — not to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, but to create a provocation that would put international pressure on Israel to drop the Gaza embargo, and thus allow the flow of seaborne military supplies to Hamas. Just as Hamas gunmen hide behind civilians in Gaza, so, too, do their sponsors cower behind shipments of seemingly innocent aid." 

And Daniel Gordis of Israel's Shalem Center, chimed in: "Life in Gaza is unquestionably oppressive; no one in his right mind would choose to live there. But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens. Israel has readily agreed to send into Gaza all the food and humanitarian supplies on the boats after they had been inspected for weapons."

Then there is the comment submitted by the comically named Anti-Defamation League in response to a Huffington Post article by Josh Ruebner that compared Leon Klinghoffer to Furkan Dogan, the 19-year old Turkish-American killed on the flotilla. The ADL defamed Dogan as a terrorist, and added the following: "Israel is blockading Gaza because Hamas seeks weapons to attack Israel to fulfill its stated goal to eliminate the Jewish state. Israel stops weapons from going into Gaza; it allows basic necessities to go through after inspection. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

Of course, one can always rely on the creativity of Alan Dershowitz to present the most imaginatively dishonest version of the events: "Israel responded to the rockets by declaring a blockade, the purpose of which was to assure that no rockets, or other material that could be used for making war against Israeli civilians, was permitted into Gaza. Israel allowed humanitarian aid through its checkpoints. Egypt as well participated in the blockade. There was never a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, merely a shortage of certain goods that would end if the rocket attacks ended."

Wait a minute, Alan. If the purpose of the blockade was to assure that no offensive military material entered Gaza, how did that result in a shortage of certain (civilian) goods?

Which brings us to the curious use of the word "humanitarian." In Israeli parlance, the meager scraps allowed the Gazans, theoretically enough to sustain life, are described as "humanitarian aid," thereby allowing the Israelis to impose collective punishment on a civilian population yet still perversely claim the mantle of being "humanitarian." If Gazans are not actually dying of starvation, and show no signs of extended bellies, there is no "humanitarian crisis" because Israel has ensured that "humanitarian supplies" enter the area. The Israeli siege of Gaza, which has at times prevented toys, clothing, and pasta from importation, has become a "humanitarian" effort to provide necessities to a people victimized by their own oppressive rulers, who would prefer that they starve to embarrass the Israelis as a means for acquiring weapons.

"Humanitarian" has become confused with "human experimentation," which is precisely what the Israelis have been conducting in a grotesque effort to determine just how many calories are needed to keep a population alive.

Did this public relations effort really fool anyone?

Of course. Those who want to be fooled. Those who believed Israeli claims in December 2008 that an aid ship had deliberately rammed Israel's naval vessel rather than the other way around. Those who believe that Israel has the right to sadistically deprive Gaza civilians of everyday goods, while screaming about Elvis Costello cancelling his Israel gig and other monstrous deprivations resulting from the BDS movement.

How does one make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? I have no idea, but if you are interested, I suggest you contact the Israeli public relations machine. Piece of cake for them.

Gaza activists in prison stripes try to give themselves up to Congressman Brad Sherman

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 07:26 PM PDT

A bunch of Gaza activists descended on California congressman Brad Sherman's office to protest his statement that Americans who go to Gaza should be prosecuted for aiding terrorists. Medea Benjamin is there wearing prison stripes, Ann Wright of Code Pink too (there's the blonde colonel, at center in the still above, holding a photograph of Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American killed by the Israeli commandos) and Tighe Barry, who built a jungle gym in Gaza a year ago. "Guilty of Aiding Gaza," his placard reads. He's in prison stripes, too.

These 'Times' demand Robert Mackey

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 07:05 PM PDT

The New York Times has become notorious for its thoroughly pro-Israel reporting on Israel/Palestine. So it was somewhat of a shock to read recent entries on the Times' "Lede" blog, authored by Robert Mackey, and see actual reporting and blogging that doesn't take Israeli claims at face-value in the aftermath of the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

Mackey's most recent post highlighted filmmaker Iara Lee's unedited video from aboard the flotilla. He posted the full one-hour clip on the blog.

In an earlier posting, Mackey's headline read, "Turkish Doctor Describes Treating Israeli Commandos During Raid," highlighting two photos that show just that, therefore undermining the Israeli claim that they were met by a "lynch" mob intent on killing the commandos. Mackey even links to Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah's blog, giving credit where it's due, for Abunimah has been doing great work on the flotilla aftermath and, specifically, on the "lynching" claims. Linking to someone like Abunimah is not par for the course for the Times (has the Times ever assigned this writer an Op-Ed or a book review?) and I applaud Mackey for doing so.

Mackey also devoted a separate post to the testimony of two activists aboard the flotilla who were listed on the Israeli Defense Forces' website as "active terror operatives." Mackey casts skepticism on the Israeli claim, noting that there were factual errors in the IDF's bios, and gives space to Fatima Mohammadi, an American citizen born in Tehran, who strongly denied the claim that she was a "terrorist."

All of which leaves an obvious question: Why are there such stark differences between the Times' online work at the "Lede" blog and its pathetic reporting in print? Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner deny space to Palestinian voices, let alone Palestinian analysts and activists like Abunimah who buck the conventional wisdom on Israel/Palestine.

Bronner's article today on the blockade of Gaza includes the usual distortions the Times propagates on Israel/Palestine and Gaza. Imagine that article if Mackey became the Times' Jerusalem bureau chief? And imagine the effect that Mackey's getting print space-- with free rein to cast substantial doubt on Israeli propaganda and quote smart people like Abunimah-- would have on the bankrupt discourse in our mainstream media generally on these issues.

Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt suggested Bronner should be put in a different position than his current one as Jerusalem bureau chief at least for the duration of his son's service in the IDF. That's what should happen, and I have a good idea who should replace him.

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Fwd: The Occidental Observer Newsletter - PLUS Kevin MacDonald Blog: Jews, Israel, and South Africa

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