Saturday, 3 November 2018

Questioning Jewish Progressive Wisdom

 There is an element of truth in the above…
There is an element of truth in the above…
Earlier this week the Jewish Forward reported on Monday’s counter-Trump demonstration in Pittsburgh.
“They came in their thousands, singing Jewish songs and folksy protest anthems … (they were) holding signs denouncing Donald Trump as ‘President Hate.’”
I think it is not a clever move for leftist Jewish groups to declare that Trump is to blame for the terror attack in Pittsburgh. In fact, some might see it as irresponsible, and a response that could easily provoke further harassment and violence.
Most disturbing to me about the Jewish progressives’ response to Trump’s visit was the blunt dishonesty reflected in the signs and announcements of the protestors and organisers.
According to the Forward one sign read,
“you know who else was a nationalist? Hitler.”
Hitler was indeed a nationalist but so was Churchill, Gandhi, Herzl and even the 52% of the Brits who voted for Brexit. Nationalism isn’t the problem: Racism is.  Accordingly, we tend to believe that it was racism that drove Hitler’s discriminatory ideology. But the ‘progressive’  Jewish groups who opposed Trump this week aren’t free of racism. They themselves are operating as racially exclusive political groups. I have said it many times before. I struggle to see a categorical difference between Aryans only and Jews only clubs. To me, both are equally racist.
“Speakers from Bend the Arc, the progressive Jewish group that organised the march, castigated Trump and what they saw as his complicity in the attack, allegedly perpetrated by an anti-Semite who shared Trump’s anti-refugee views.”
It is comforting to learn that  Jewish progressives support some refugees; do they also support the Palestinian refugees?
Israel has prevented the ethnically cleansed Palestinians from returning  to their land for more than 70 years.  The Jewish State’s record on refugees and asylum seekers is appalling. But it seems the progressive Jews at Bend the Arc have little to say about that. I searched Bend the Arc’s web site and didn’t find any denouncements of the Jewish State’s anti refugee policies.  Maybe in the Jewish progressive universe one rule applies to the Jewish State and another rule to the sea of Goyim.
Noticeably,  the Bend the Arc event was not the only protest in town: A previous rally event had been held nearby, organized by the leftist Jewish group IfNotNow in collaboration with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other groups.
“We know Trump is responsible for violence in our city,” IfNotNow and DSA organizer Arielle Cohen told the Forward. “ Trump has been the enabler-in-chief.” I fail to see the evidence that supports Cohen’s strongly worded accusations. And I wonder whether the decision makers at IfNotNow and JVP grasp the danger they may inflict on their communities by making such provocative accusations.
It is interesting to contrast this reaction to that of the members of the African American congregation that was targeted in 2015 by Dylann Roof, a self-professed racist shooter, who killed 9 people who had invited him into their bible study. After the shooting, Mr. Roof was unrepentant but the reaction of the victims and their families contrasts sharply with the progressive reaction to the Pittsburg massacre.
At Mr. Roof’s bond hearing, the victim’s relatives spoke directly to Roof. “You took something very precious from me”  Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance said. “But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”
“I acknowledge that I am very angry,” said the sister of DePayne Middleton-Doctor. “But one thing that DePayne … taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
Each speaker offered Roof forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses. Not one speaker blamed political leaders or anti Black sentiment. They correctly saw Roof as the culprit, even as they compassionately prayed for him. There is much to admire in the congregation’s reaction. It was the opposite of inflammatory, intended to calm the situation.
If the goal is to unite America, to bridge the divide and calm things down, probably equating your president with Hitler and accusing him of the hate crimes of others is the worst possible path to choose.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Great Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading


by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogGreat Recession at 10: $500k wine & jailing Black footballers for insider trading
November 02, 2018
Ten years ago my life was all screwed up by the economic crisis I had nothing to do with.
In August 2008 AFP (Agence France Presse) said that if I learned French they’d give me a job. I moved in with my parents and studied five hours a day seven days a week for five months. By the time I arrived in France in February AFP, along with everyone else, was no longer hiring. The crisis had started in September with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.
So I had wasted all that time and effort. I was in France but sans job – a big problem on multiple levels. I could translate French copy into English adequately but I immediately realised I could not understand anything the French were saying to me, nor could I say hardly anything to them. I was a jobless, isolated, unneeded immigrant with no income and questionable prospects in an overcrowded field now undergoing a second recession (the internet provided the first recession in journalism jobs).
Ten years later, I consider myself lucky: that is hardly the worst story you’ve heard caused by capitalism’s ever-guaranteed, always-exacerbated failures.
What have we learned?
Why are you asking me? Well, I better have something to say because, very fortunately (and rather undeservedly, given the many better journalists here in Paris), for most of the last decade I seem to have been one of the busiest on-the-ground English-language TV reporters in Paris.
Covering the Great Recession from Europe is, I think, far different than covering it from the United States because Europeans often insist that their democracy, economy and mindset is qualitatively different from those in America.
The Great Recession in America was just a case of bad getting worse – dilapidated infrastructure from the Depression or Eisenhower eras remaining dilapidated, widespread drug and alcohol addiction falling deeper into the rabbit hole, near-zero government assistance remaining near-zero, tons of crime devolving into tons of crime now committed by people with tattoos on their faces – i.e., no real change and no real hope for change.
But Europe – ooh la la, they have too much class for tattoos on their faces. They have long-represented the alleged “Third Way”, which gracefully sidestepped American yahoo-ism and (alleged) Soviet totalitarianism, and were recently united in the (alleged) ever-greater fraternity which was the European Union and the Euro.
So what have we learned in 10 years? Last month a former employer of mine reported on the correct price for the best bottle of wine – $558,000.
What on earth is that, besides grounds for a public near-lynching? That is asset inflation of the worst, most socially-useless type. In 2008, that same price got you 27 bottles of wine, which was then the highest price ever paid for a single lot.
This two reports perfectly describe what has been the West’s fiscal policy since the Great Recession began: using taxpayer money to inflate the assets only owned by the rich and the propertied class in order to increase only their wealth. They have spent 10 years re-creating a bubble for upper-class assets – wine is never worth $93,000 a glass any more than a bottle was worth $19,000.
In the same vein, a Leonardo da Vinci painting is not worth the $450 million Mohammad Bin Salman paid for it last year. These massive, heinous, sinful sums are not being forked over because “that is what the market will bear” – they are being paid because the ultra-rich have become ultra-richer in the last 10 years and…you gotta spend your money somewhere.
No, the rich have not let taxpayer trillions burn holes in their pocket: Our money has only re-pumped new bubbles in the primary asset classes of the 1% – luxury goods, real estate, stocks (overvalued companies) and investment funds.
I will get straight to the point: Because our trillions have gone into these wasteful investments, instead of investments which improve overall societal well-being, we are certainly WORSE OFF than ten years ago.
Not all bubbles or debt is the same, despite what German-minded minds will insist. Instead of creating bubbles or debt to do any of a million positive things – improving business efficiency through better infrastructure, inventing cheaper solutions via increased education and research & development, injecting money to circulate into the “real economy” just by giving Joe Schmoe a job to uselessly move a bag of dirt from point A to point B and back again – the lack of socialist central planning has allowed the real economy to be gutted in favor of the economy of the 1%….again.
Of course, there are other bubbles which affect more than just the 1%: Western inflation over the past 10 years has been much more impactful in sapping (my) wages than the upper class realizes, but the US housing market had no reason to have reached 11% above the July 2006 Housing Bubble peak in August 2018.
For those of us who hold no property in real estate or property in corporations (stocks), we are left out in the cold. We still are yoked to debt and can be bankrupted by bubbles, though.
But the bubbles and debt of the 99% are good and even necessary: we need houses to live in, we need our sub-prime auto loans not to lead to repossession, we need our medical bills paid for, we need our elderly care bills paid for because we simply cannot stand how loud Grandpa has the TV any longer. All of this is “good debt” which sends money into the real economy (even if you can’t hold on to it for more than one payday).
The effects of the FIRE economy – Finance, Investment & Real Estate – in the recent history of capitalism has been studied and popularized by American economist Michael Hudson, but we are about to find out AGAIN just how pernicious its influence has been.
The Lost Score: not the stash of swapped prescription medication you have misplaced
Don’t think the Eurozone is lost? The Eurozone’s GDP is 12% lower than in 2008Chinas is up 266% over the same timeframe.
Your problem must be that you believe what you read in the Western Mainstream media: China’s 6.5% growth in the 3rd quarter was “weak” to Reuters, while France’s 3rd quarter growth of just 0.4% was (per my would-be AFP colleagues) a “boost as economy rebounds”. Sure, Frenchy, sure, you’re a real star. Both those articles are from the past fortnight, but it’s the same absurd spin I’ve reported on for nearly 40 economic quarters.
Europe’s Quantitative Easing was scheduled to end September 2017, so back then I wrote a 7-part series which showed how the world’s biggest macro-economy – the Eurozone (but China is about to surpass it – remains the weak link the global economy despite the “whatever it takes” (alleged) solution of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in 2012. What I did was combine a decade of on-the-street reporting with some basic (leftist) economic sense (FYI, all economic sense is leftist) to write about what will happen when this bubble – the “bailed out by taxpayers” bubble – finally re-bursts.
That is the biggest bubble, and it is about to pop.
Because they no doubt read and agreed with my analysis, the Eurozone’s leaders postponed the end of QE for 1 year. However, come January 1st, no more 30 billion euros in free money to high finance every month – they have been given 2.5 trillion euros in total. Again, we in the Eurozone have gotten zero from all that because the center- and right-wing forms of capitalism do not allow strings to be attached (such as delivering jobs, community betterment, etc.) in return for these fiscal gifts. CEOs, not workers, rule – the Eurozone has never been a socialist republic.
The problem is us:
This policy was not at all wanted by the Eurozone’s population…but this is a liberal democracy: that means public opinion is aggregated once every four or five years, and then the sheep must shut up and take it. That’s why it made no difference when Francois Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity platform: in classic modern liberal democracy form, he simply introduced a divisive, deflecting plan to approve gay marriage on the very same day – November 7, 2012 – that he announced his backtracking acceptance of austerity.
It is only in socialist countries where pubic opinion is actually reflected in policy making – empowering the average citizen is one of the two pillars of socialism (redistribution of wealth being the other) and what do you think “empowering” means? Hint: it is not synonymous with “ignoring”.
The Chinese Communist Party, it has been accurately written, is the world’s biggest public polling firm. There is no doubt that Cuban socialists are reflecting the People’s will when they are counting up their few unblockaded pesos and prioritising education, housing, medicine and food. North Korea is not funding nuclear research because they want to, but because all North Koreans are in agreement that they were the most-attacked, most-threatened, most-surrounded nation in the 2nd-half of the 20th century. You are totally unaware if you think the Iranian Revolution has endured similar violence and menacing by wasting their oil money on policies which the Iranian People cannot immediately and tangibly see have improved their quality of life since 1979: Iran’s economy, essentially 100% state-controlled, reflects the People’s will to a great degree (it is structurally impossible for it to reflect the will of private Iranian CEOs).
However, the West’s beloved liberal democracies do not at all care or reflect popular opinion – liberal democracies are designed to please the bourgeois/aristocratic/top 10%/technocrat/brahmin/genetically-superior/culturally-superior class. We hold these truths to be more self-evident in 2018 than 2008.
But what will happen when QE ends in the Eurozone? My prediction last year was based on capitalist logic: high finance, no longer bought off by free money (and thus less able to pay for $500k wine), will go back to doing what they did at the height of the crisis in Europe – the 2012 Sovereign Debt Crisis – and start squeezing the poorer countries of the Eurozone in the bond market. This time, Italy and Spain will be in their sights. This will soon spark the same chaos and instability as back then.
But worse: as illustrated, the Eurozone is far, far weaker than in 2012. They have spent trillions but bought $500k wine instead of productive, economy-safeguarding, preparing-for-capitalism’s-next-inevitable-rainy-day investments for the 99%. How could anybody possibly see it differently? I guess it’s the same answer to how AFP can see France’s 0.4% Q3 growth as a “boost as economy rebounds”. Keep the faith – success is right around the trickle-down corner, LOL!
You cannot tell me that the bankers have been totally bought off and will be content to roll around in their filth for the next 50 years, because they never are: there is always some young, Martin Shkreli-like, hedge fund-managing punk who wants to make his billions, and he will gladly hold Spain and Italy hostage to do so. Shkreli was not jailed for changing a pill’s price from $13.50 to $750 – that’s totally legal in capitalism – he was jailed because of his big mouth. But his usury and his rapper-like ego is simply how he was raised (in a non-socialist, non-religious Western culture). Nobody can stop him in the capitalist system – there is no central planning, there is total opposition to the idea of a “collective”, and they have even lost that longtime feeling of “positive racism” which formerly lent a sliver of unity to Western imperialist societies (“I can’t ruin my Color tribe and will do some things in their general interest because I hate your Ethnic tribe and fear that Religious tribe could be right.”).
And you can’t say that we are safer now because the criminals of 2008 have been brought to justice: look at the case of Mychal Kendricks, a 27-year old professional American football player convicted of insider trading.
Kendricks is the Black son of a crack addict, so from a socialist perspective his “class label” could not be more perfect – he succeeded despite tremendous obstacles, and he would be listened to with sympathy, targeted for public assistance and given affirmative action policies. He has admitted to insider trading and should be punished, but was the 2008 crisis orchestrated by football players, perhaps in between their concussion protocols and MRIs?
The case illustrates the priority of liberal democratic/bourgeois justice systems: Mychal Kendricks, from the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, faces prison while the 1%ers who gamed the system did much more than escape justice – they were hailed as our only saviours to financial ruin, as too important (big) to fail, and subsequently entrusted with many no-strings-attached trillions.
Corruption must be punished, but Kendricks is not the problem…..
The problem is the lack of socialist central planning, the lack of democratic input (worker empowerment) on public policy, and the lack of prioritising the bottom 90% – the top 10% is prioritised, lauded and excused, instead.
The lack of all those three things created Europe’s Lost Decade of economic growth; created a situation where little-old-me was one of the few journalists to do some basic economic math and to openly say it was a Lost Decade (but which was noticed only by a small group of powerless intelligentsia on the fringe); this lack created today’s reality where things have only gotten worse since 2008, that more crisis is coming, and that the next crisis will necessarily be even worse.
The age of European austerity can be summed up quite simply: creating such a desperate labor market that the 1% was able to roll back Europe’s better-than-average social safety net, regulations, wages and working conditions.
That’s all it was – a wilful economic depression in order to turn the the EU’s work culture (and financial culture) into that of the US. The same process happened during Japan’s Lost Score – the Eurozone is now entering part two of their Lost Score.
These truths are more self-evident in 2018 than 2008. If you haven’t learned that, you obviously remain resolutely pro-capitalism and pro-liberal democracy/West European bourgeois democracy despite ten years of proof in your face.
Socialism has changed much in 10 years – a new generation of leaders in Cuba, the possible reintegration of North Korea into global affairs, a possible rapprochement between Iran and Europe (but not the US), the increasing acceptance of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as a reproducible and admirable model – but if capitalism has changed at all it is only for the worse.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Western Media Make One Death a Tragedy, Millions a Statistic

Western Media Make One Death a Tragedy, Millions a Statistic
The Western media coverage devoted to the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi proves the cynical adage that one person’s death is a tragedy, while millions of deaths are a mere statistic.During the past four weeks since Khashoggi went missing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the case has been constantly in the news cycle. Contrast that with the sparse coverage in Western news media of the horrific Saudi war in Yemen during the past four years.
The United Nations has again recently warned that 16 million in Yemen were facing death from starvation as a result of the war waged on that country by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab partners, with the crucial military support of the US, Britain and France. That imminent death toll hardly registered a response from Western media or governments.
Last week, some 21 Yemeni workers at a vegetable packing plant near the Red Sea port of Hodeida were killed after US-backed Saudi warplanes launched air strikes. Again, hardly any condemnation was registered by Western governments and media pundits.
Admittedly, some politicians in the US and Europe are lately expressing disdain over the Saudi-led war and the possible culpability of Western governments in crimes against humanity.
Nevertheless, in proportion to the public concern devoted to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi there is a staggering indifference in relation to Yemen. How is possible that the fate of one man can provoke so much emotion and angst, while millions of children in Yemen appear to be shrugged off as “collateral damage”.
Partly, the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder by a Saudi death squad are more easily visualized. His connections as a journalist working for the Washington Post also ensures ample interest from other media outlets. Photos of the 59-year-old Saudi dissident and his personal story of going to the consulate in Istanbul to obtain official papers for an upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancée also provided a human identity, which then garners public empathy.
Another factor is the macabre plot to trap him, torture and dismember his body by a Saudi hit team who appear to have been acting on orders from senior Saudi regime officials. Khashoggi’s bodily remains have yet to be recovered which adds to the interest in the grisly story.
Regrettably, these human dimensions are all-too often missing in the massive suffering inflicted on Yemen. Thousands of children killed in air strikes and millions perishing from disease and starvation have an abstract reality.
When Western media do carry rare reports on children being killed, as in the Saudi air strike on a school bus on August 9, which massacred over 50, the public is still relatively insensate. We are not told the victims’ names nor shown photographs of happy children before their heinous fate.
However, the contrast between one man’s death and millions of abstract deaths – all the more salient because the culprits are the same in both cases – is not due simply to human callousness. It is due to the way Western media have desensitized the Western public from their appalling lack of coverage on Yemen.
The Western media have an urgent obligation because their governments are directly involved in the suffering of Yemen. If the Western media gave appropriately more coverage with human details of victims then it is fair to assume that there would be much greater public outrage over Yemen and an outcry for justice – at least in the form of halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Such calls are being made over the Khashoggi case. Surely, the same calls for economic and diplomatic sanctions should therefore be made with regard to Yemen – indeed orders of magnitude greater given the much greater scale of human suffering.
The Western news media have been shamefully derelict in reporting on Yemen’s horror over the past four years. One of the most despicable headlines was from the BBC which described it as a “forgotten war”. The conflict is only “forgotten” because the BBC and other Western news outlets have chosen to routinely drop it from their coverage. That omission is without doubt a “political” decision taken in order to not discomfit Washington, London or Paris in their lucrative arms trade with the Saudi regime.
Another way at looking at the paradox of “one death a tragedy, a million a statistic” and the Western media’s nefarious role in creating that paradox is to consider the fate of individuals facing death sentences in Saudi Arabia.
Take the case of female pro-democracy protester 29-year-old Israa al Ghomgham. Israa was arrested three years ago because she participated in peaceful protests against the Saudi monarchy. She and her husband Moussa al Hashem are facing execution any day by decapitation. Their only “crime” was to participate in non-violent street demonstrations in Saudi’s eastern provincial city of Qatif, calling for democratic rights for the Sunni kingdom’s oppressed Shia minority.
Another case is that of Mujtaba al Sweikat. He also is facing death by beheading, again because he was involved in pro-democracy protests against the absolute Saudi rulers. What makes his case even more deplorable is that he was arrested in 2012 at the age of 17 – legally a minor – when he was leaving the country to take up studies at Western Michigan University in the United States.
It is not clear if these individuals – and there are many more such cases on Saudi death row – will be spared by the Saudi monarchy in the light of the international condemnations over the Khashoggi killing. Any day, they could be hauled to a public square and their heads hacked off with a sword.
If we try to explain the disconnect in Western public reaction to the Khashoggi case, on one hand, and on the other, the massive misery of Yemen, one might invoke the cynical adage about a single death versus millions. But then how does that explain the apparent lack of public concern over the imminent death of individuals such as Israa al Ghomgham, her husband Moussa, or the student Mujtaba al Sweitat?
The tragedy of desensitized abstraction is not due to overwhelming numbers. It is primarily due to the willful omission – and worse, misinformation – by Western media on the barbarity of the Saudi regime and the crucially enabling support given to this regime by Western politics and economics.
The apparent disconnect is due to systematic Western media distortion. That’s not just a flaw. It is criminal complicity.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Bellingcat & Atlantic Council actively promoted ISIS recruiter as ‘Syria expert’




ISIS Daesh
© Flickr/ Day Donaldson
New information has come to light regarding the identity of the person behind the @ShamiWitness Twitter account, a conduit for Daesh messaging and recruitment that was heralded for its expertise on the Syria conflict by foreign policy thought leaders in the Beltway and beyond.
Among the most prominent proponents of the ShamiWitness account were Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and the Atlantic Council, who is known for telling his online opponents to “suck” his genitals; Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute, who contends that al-Qaeda “has really got it right” in Syria; Oz Katerji, a former Bellingcat team member and former Vice News journalist with a penchant for Lebanese porn stars; Michael Weiss, a CNN analyst that previously organized an anti-Islam rally in New York City; Danny Gold, another Vice News journalist famous for puff pieces about his pop culture discussions with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra); Washington Post Beirut Bureau Chief Liz Sly, a fake news pusher and lauder of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; and Israeli think tank analyst and Israel Defense Forces reservist Elizabeth Tsurkov, who is known for making wild claims about the Syrian government forcing citizens to appear on RT and Sputnik News with threats of torture.
The Middle East Institute and the Atlantic Council, it should be noted, are funded by Gulf monarchies like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. For its part, Bellingcat receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government organ often used to fund insurrectionists with policy goals that align with those of the United States.
As ShamiWitness was getting endorsements as an expert on jihadism and the Syria conflict, he was tweeting things such as: “May Allah guide, protect, strengthen and expand the Islamic State.” He also tweeted jokes about Daesh fighters raping Kurdish women fighters and posted graphic videos of Daesh killings. ShamiWitness was one of the first to tweet the video of Daesh’s beheading of American social worker Peter Kassig, which he posted five times within minutes of its publication.
Followers of ShamiWitness have carried out terrorist attacks, including one that left 29 people dead in 2016. Two-thirds of all foreign jihadists followed the account, according to research conducted by ICSR at King’s College London.
So who is behind the ShamiWitness account with so many prominent supporters? Counter to the name’s suggestion, it’s not a Syrian (Shami means Syria). As it turns out, the man behind ShamiWitness was a 24-year-old marketing executive named Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who lives in India and was arrested for operating the account in 2014.
Journalist Mark Ames notes that years after Biswas’ arrest, many of his former supporters are in turn supported by the mainstream media and Beltway establishment, and they have successfully rebranded from Syria experts to Russiagate experts. Now, more details are coming out about Biswas’ activities on the ShamiWitness account.
Before Biswas was outed, journalists started picking up on the account’s jihadi sympathies, most notably Channel 4 earlier in 2014. Accordingly, Higgins immediately distanced himself from the account, saying ShamiWitness wasn’t a Daesh mouthpiece but merely a Daesh parrot. As it turns out, Biswas’ relationship to the genocidal Wahhabist group was far more involved.
Indian authorities discovered that Biswas, through his Twitter account, helped recruit a group of young men into Daesh’s ranks. Moreover, a 2018 report by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism details how ShamiWitness told would-be Daesh members where in Turkey they could link up with like-minded militants to be vetted and eventually relocated to the front lines in Syria.
Comment: Mint Press News reports more on the relationship between Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and ShamiWitness:
A new report has exposed the past collaboration of Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and influential neo-conservatives with the “most influential Twitter account” of the terror group Daesh, also known as the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS). That collaboration helped promote the account, which posted under the Twitter handle @shamiwitness, as an “expert” on foreign jihadists while also helping to promote the account’s pro-Daesh messaging.
However, instead of being an “expert,” the account was run by an Indian marketing executive living in Bangalore by the name of Mehdi Biswas. Biswas used the account to help recruit foreign extremists and lead them to Syria – where they participated in the slaughter of religious minorities, among other atrocities.
The explosive report, written and self-published by journalist Mark Ames, extensively details how Western accounts and figures closely associated with influential government-funded think tanks helped to elevate the ShamiWitness account from “a cretinous troll” into a credible “ISIS expert” who was subsequently promoted by Middle East correspondents from The New York Times and other mainstream publications.
At the height of his popularity, the ShamiWitness account – which was voluntarily deleted in 2014 by its owner after a Channel 4 News exposé – had over 17,000 followers and was followed by two-thirds of foreign jihadists with a presence on Twitter. When Twitter would ban an extremist’s account, ShamiWitness was key to promoting the new account created to replace the banned one. ShamiWitness also helped guide foreign extremists to battlefields in Syria and actively recruited individuals to join Daesh through his social media accounts, according to a report published earlier this year by George Washington University.
Also see:

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the Palestintans (25 – 31 October 2018)


01 Nov 7:09 PM
Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes, in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), for the week of 18 – 24 October, 2018.
Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against unarmed civilians and peaceful protestors in the Gaza Strip. 7 Palestinian civilians were killed in the 31st week of the Return and Breaking Siege March. 298 civilians, including 68 children, 13 women, 3 journalists and 9 paramedics, were wounded; 14 of them sustained serious wounds.
Shooting:

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces escalated their murders as 11 palestinian civilians were killed, including 3 children.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces killed 10, including 3 children.  Seven of those killed due to the use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters, who participated in peaceful demonstrations organized within the activities of the “Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege” in the Gaza Strip, which witnessed for the 31st week in a row peaceful demonstrations along the eastern and northern Gaza Strip border area. Meanwhile, the 2 children were killed in an airstrike carried out by the Israeli warplanes in violation of the principles of necessity and distinction.  During the Protests in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces wounded 289 civilians, including 68 children, 13 women, 3 journalists, and 9 paramedics.  The injury of 14 of them was reported serious while a civilian was wounded during a shooting incident near the border area.

In the West Bank, the Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 16 others, including a child, journalist and 2 paramedics.

In the Gaza Strip, on 26 October 2018, Israeli forces killed 4 protestors; 3 in eastern Khan Younis and 1 in northern Gaza Strip, during their participation in the 31st Friday Protests within the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege.  In the next two days, 2 of those wounded on Friday succumbed to their wounds.  On 29 October 2018, a protester was killed while participating in the protests occurred off Zikim Military Base, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza, increasing the number of those killed in protests to 7.

in a new crime of excessive use of lethal force, which reflect the highest degree of recklessness of the lives of Palestinian civilians, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian children after targeting them with a missile in the border fence area with Israel, east of Wadi al-Salqa village, in the central Gaza Strip. Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR), indicate that the airstrike violates the principles of necessity and discrimination and the use of force was excessive, especially that the 3 children were civilians and unarmed. The Israeli forces claimed that placed an explosive device near the border fence, but paramedics at Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), who retrieved the dead bodies of the 3 children confirmed that the children did not have anything and they found them on the border fence in the Palestinian side.

As part of using excessive forces against the peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip borders, the Israeli forces during the reporting period wounded 298 civilians, including 68 children, 13 women, journalists and 9 paramedics.  Fourteen of those wounded sustained serious injuries.

CityInjuries
TotalChildrenWomenJournalistsParamedicsCritical
Conditions
Northern Gaza Strip8923444
Gaza City89171
Central Gaza Strip5617844
Khan Younis5210113
Rafah121113
Total28968133914

As part of the Israeli airstrikes, the Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes targeting military training sites belonging to the Palestinian Armed Groups and other targets, causing complete destruction of them.  Moreover, the nearby houses and civil objects sustained damage such as the Indonesian Hospital, Golden Hall for Weddings, al-Nawras Resort in Beit Lahia, al-Tawil Company for Auto Repair and Kuhail Contracting Company.  In addition, al-Kamal Building comprised of 4 floors and built on an area of 250 square meters was destroyed in central Gaza City while classes were suspended in Ibn al-Nafis Primary School in Bani Suhaila.

As part of targeting the border areas, on 28 October 2018, the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, southeast of Beit Hanoun opened fire at a group of bird hunters, wounding one of them with a bullet to the buttock.

In the West Bank, on 26 October 2018, the Israeli forces killed Othman Ladawdah (34) during his participation in a demonstration comprised of 250 civilians from the Western Farm Village, northwest of Ramallah in Kherbet Na’lan area which Israeli settlers from Kirim ‘Alim storm every Friday to perform Talmudic prayers in an attempt to seize it.

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces wounded 16 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist and 2 paramedics.


Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 55 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 6 similar ones into Jerusalem and its suburbs. During those incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 49 Palestinians, including 5 children, in the West Bank.  Meanwhile, 12 other civilians, including 3 children, were arrested in Jerusalem and its suburbs.

Israeli Forces continued to create a Jewish Majority in occupied East Jerusalem:

As part of the Israeli house demolitions and notices, on 29 October 2018, the Israeli forces demolished a newly built house in al-Fheidat neighbourhood in ‘Anata village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, belonging to Saleh Fheidat.  The 50-square-meter house that is of one floor sheltered a family of 5.  It should be mentioned that the Israeli municipality demolished another house, which was built 80 years ago, 2 months ago.  Fheidat said that he was not warned or noticed that his newly built house would be demolished by the municipality and that the demolition was surprisingly carried out.

Moreover, on 28 October 2018, the Israeli municipality handed 3 civilians from al-Waljah village, northwest of Bethlehem, notices to refer to it for investigating “violations committed relevant to unlicensed construction”, noting these houses were demolished a month ago.

Israeli Forces continued their settlement activities, and the settlers continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property

As part of demolition of houses and other civil objects, on 29 October 2018, the Israeli forces levelled 23 dunums and property belonging to civilians in western Beit Oula village, west of Hebron.

On 31 October 2019, Israeli forces demolished 2 agricultural rooms in Kherbet Khelet al-Foron, south of Bani Na’im village, east of Hebron.


As part of the Israeli settlers’ attacks against the Palestinians civilians and their property, on 28 October 2018, the guard of “Eili” settlement namely Yousi attacked the Secretary of Qaryout village council, Mofid Jamil Abu Murrah (56), and Member of the village council, Khairy Mohammed Hasan Marawdah (53) on Batishah Road, west of the abovementioned village, southeast of Nablus.  Both of them were in Batishah area within Area B supervising the establishment of the base course within a project funded by the First Aid Society.  The guard beat them up and threw a sound bomb at the bulldozer that was spreading the base course and belonging to the village council.
Use of Force against Demonstrations in Protest against the U.S. President’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel:

Israeli forces continued its excessive use of lethal force against peaceful demonstration organized by Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it was named as “The Great March of Return and Breaking Siege.” The demonstration was in protest against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. Embassy to it. According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed large participation by Palestinian civilians as the Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators, though the demonstration were fully peaceful. The demonstration was as follows during the reporting period:

Gaza Strip: (the events on Friday, 26 October 2018)

  • The Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces killed Mohammed Khalid Mahmoud Abdul Nabi (27)from Jabalia, after firing a live bullet to the head. Moreover, 55 civilians, including 17 children, 3 women, a paramedic, were wounded. Fifty two of them were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel and 3 were hit with tear gas canisters. medical sources classified 4 civilian’s injuries as serious. The wounded paramedic was identified as ‘Ala’a Sha’ban Mohammed Sabbah (39), a paramedic at the Palestinian Civil Defense, was hit with a live bullet shrapnel to the feet. The Israeli forces also targeted 2 ambulances, one of them belongs to Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), which was hit with a live bullet to the left door and the other belongs to the Military Medical Services and was hit with a live bullet and 4 shrapnel to the left side.

  • In Gaza City: 89 civilians, including 17 children, a journalist, were wounded. Fifty two of them were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel, 7 were hit with rubber bullets and 30 were hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded journalist was identified as Bilal Khalil Noufal, a photojournalist at Seraj Media Office, was hit with a live bullet to the left thigh.

  • Khan Younis: Israeli forces’ shooting at demonstrators, which continued from 15:00 to 18:30, resulted in the killing of 3 civilians, who were wounded between approximately 16:45 and 17:00, east of Khuza’ah village. The wounded civilians died after a short time of their arrival at Gaza European hospital. Those killed were identified as follows:
  1. Nassar Eyad Nassar Abu Taim (19), from Bani Suheila, east of Kahn Younis, was hit with a live bullet to the head.
  2. Ahmed Sa’ed Abdul ‘Aziz Abu Lebdah (22), from Bani Suheila, east of Khan Younis, was hit with a live bullet to the chest.
  3. ‘Ayesh Ghassan ‘Ayesh Sha’ath (23), from al-Fukhari, east of Kahn Younis, was hit with a live bullet to the head.
Moreover, 52 civilians, including 10 children, a woman and a journalist, were wounded. Forty four of them were hit with live bullets and their shrapneland8 were hit with tear gas canisters. Doctors classified 3 civilian’s injuries as serious.

  • The Central Gaza Strip: 56 civilians, including 17 children, 8 women, 4 paramedics, including 3 female paramedics, were wounded. Fifty three of them were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel and 6 were hit with tear gas canisters. Doctors classified 4 civilians’ injuries as serious. At approximately 02:30 on Saturday, 27 October 2018, medical sources at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City announced the death of one of the wounded civilians namely Mojahed Ziyad Zaki ‘Aqel (24), from al-Nuseirat refugee camp, succumbing to his wounds. Mojahed was hit with a live bullet to the upper thigh. At approximately 02:00 on Sunday, 28 October 2018, medical sources at al-Shifa Hospital announced the death of another wounded civilian namely Yahiya Bader Mohammed al-Hasanat (37), from al-Moghraqah village, was hit with a live bullet to the head.
The wounded paramedics were identified as:
  1. Hala ‘Ata ‘Eqab Abu Thaher (22), from al-Buraij refugee camp, was hit with a shrapnel to the abdomen.
  2. Basmah Maher Fehmi Weshah (27), from al-Buraij refugee camp, was hit with live bullet shrapnel to the feet.
  3. Ibrahim Husni Shaheen (29), from al-Nuseirat refugee camp, was hit with live bullet shrapnel to the right leg.
It should be noted that the 3 paramedics worked at the Union of Health work Committee.
  1. Rajab Husein Rajab al-Khaldi (27), a volunteer paramedic at the Palestinian Ministry of Health from al-Buraij, was hit with a live bullet to the right leg.

  • Rafah City: 12 civilians, including a child, a journalist and a paramedic, were wounded. Ten of them were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel and 2 were hit with tear gas canisters. Doctors classified 3 civilians’ injuries as serious. The wounded journalist identified as Mahmoud Mohammed Sa’ed Shata (25), who works at Forasan Press, was hit with a tear gas canister to the left leg. The wounded paramedic identified as Yasser Rafiq Mohammed Abu Habib (26), paramedic volunteering within Nabd al-Hayah Medical Team, was hit with a shrapnel to the upper part of his body.

  • At approximately 15:00 on Monday, 29 October 2018, dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel upon calls from the Supreme National Authority for the March of Return and Breaking Siege in which they called for participation in the Return coastal camp located in al-Sefa area, adjacent to “Zikim” military base, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. It should be noted that this is the 14th time for Palestinian boats to sail for Breaking the Siege, which was launched from Gaza Seaport towards the northern Gaza Strip coastline adjacent to the abovementioned camp.

The Israeli gunboats heavily fired live bullets and sound bombs at the boat of Breaking the Siege that approached the waster barrier established by the Israeli forces and extends to the border fence. The Israeli forces claimed that they established the border fence fearing of naval infiltration.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stationed behind sand barriers and cement cubes heavily opened fire and fried a large number of tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians participating in the demonstration and approached the coastline. As a result, Mahmoud Abdul Hai Ahmed Abu ‘Obadi (25), from al-Shati’a refugee camp, west of Gaza Strip, was killed after being hit with a live bullet to the chest.
The Israeli soldiers also wounded 34 civilians, including 9 children, a woman and 3 paramedics. The injuries were classified as follows:
Sixteen civilians, including 2 children, a woman and 2 PRCS paramedics, were hit with live bullets and their shrapnel. The paramedics were identified as Suleiman Mohammed Salman al-Zawa’ah (30) was hit a live bullet to the right leg and Hani Mahmoud Husein Wadi (33) was hit with a shrapnel to the chest.
Moreover, 19 civilians, including 7 children and a paramedic, were hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded paramedic identified as Yusuf Ramzi Mohammed Daif Allah (21), a paramedic volunteering at Algerian Medical Team, was hit with a tear gas canister to the head.


West Bank:

  • Following the Friday prayer on 26 October 2018, about 250 Palestinian civilians from different ages from l-Mazra’ah al-Gharbiyah village, northwest of Ramallah organized a demonstration in “Kherbet Na’lan” area. At approximately 14:00, they attempted to confront Israeli settlers and soldiers, who were about 50-70 settlers and soldiers. The protestors set fire to tires and threw stones at the settlers and soldiers in an attempt to prevent the settlers from performing the Talmudic prayers and controlling the area. The Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors, who were about 30 meters away from them. The clashes continued for 2 hours and a half. As a result, 4 civilians, including a child, were wounded. They were transferred via a PRCS ambulance to the Istishari Arab Hospital in al-Raihan Suburb, north of the city. Doctors classified their injuries as moderate. At approximately 17:00, a number of young men moved forward the Israeli Border Guards, who moved back about 30 meters away from the clashes’ area and stationed in a low area near “Kerem ‘Elim” The young men threw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers. In less than 5 minutes, a soldier from the Border Guard forces directly fired 10 consecutive live bullets at the young men. As a result, 10 civilians, including a journalist and 2 paramedics belonging to the Medical Relief crews, were wounded and then transferred to the Istishari Arab Hospital. Medical sources announced the death of ‘Othman Ahmed ‘Ali Ladadwah (34), who was hit with a live bullet to the left side of the thigh that settled in the lung. The wounded journalist identified as Hamzah Mohammed Shriteh (24), a photojournalist at the Website of the abovementioned village, was hit with a live bullet to the foot. The 2 wounded paramedics identified as Mohanned ‘Abbas Hannoun (20), was hit with a live bullet to the hand, and Mohammed ‘Emad Sa’aidah (32), was hit with a live bullet to the arm.

  • Following the same Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian youngsters gathered in al-Zawiyah Gate area in the center of Hebron. They set fire to tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers stationed at Checkpoint (160). The soldiers fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. the soldiers also set up ambushes to arrest the protestors. They then arrested Ayman ‘Ammar Abu ‘Aishah (14) and then took him to the checkpoint on al-Shuhada’a Street.
  • House Demolitions and Notices:

  • On Sunday, 28 October 2018, the Israeli authorities handed 3 civilians, from al-Waljah village, northwest of Bethlehem, notices to refer to the Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem, in order to question them about building without a license. Activist Ibrahim ‘Awadallah said that the Israeli forces moved into ‘Ain Jowizah and Khelet al-Samak areas and handed Hanan Mohamed al-Razim, Khaled Mahmoud Abu Khiarah and ‘Alaa Hussain Hajajlah notices to refer to Qatar’s Planning and Building Committee in order to question them about building their houses without license, noting that their houses were demolished a month ago. It should be noted that the Israeli forces lately demolished 4 houses and notified 8 others to stop construction work in al-Waljah village.
  • At approximately 06:00 on Monday, 29 October 2018, Israeli vehicles demolished a new residential house in al-Fahidat neighborhood in ‘Anatah village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Salah Fahidat said that the Israeli Municipality staff accompanied with Israeli forces raided his house on Monday morning, expelled his family member and then evacuated the house. He added that the Israeli vehicle demolished his 50-square-meter house, where he along with his 5 family members lived. Salah clarified that the Israeli Municipality demolished another house belonging to him 2 months ago and was an old one built over 80 years ago. He pointed out that the Israeli Municipality did not warn him to demolish his new house, clarifying that they raided the house and immediately demolished it.
  • At approximately 09:00, Israeli forces backed by military vehicles and accompanied with a vehicle of the Israeli Civil Administration and 3 diggers moved into the western area of Beit Ola village, west of Hebron. The Israeli vehicles leveled many dunums planted with olive trees, demolished stone chains and then confiscated barbed wires. The damage carried out in Wad al-Qalmoun and Kherbet al-Kharouf was under the pretext of state lands. The targeted area is in the western side of the village and 300 meter away from the annexation wall. The Israeli authorities previously leveled trees and demolished wells in the above-mentioned areas. The attacks were as follows:
    • Hijazi Mohamed ‘Abed al-Raheem Torshan (50): leveling 13 dunums planted with olive trees 5 years ago and damaging stone chains.
    • Mohamed Suliman Mahmoud al-‘Adam, leveling 10 dunums planted with 30 olive and 20 almond trees and demolishing stone chains in addition to damages from the Israeli Civil Administration which included 2 water wells, damaging stone chains and uprooting olive and almond trees.
    • ‘Azmi Mohamed Suliman al-‘Emlah (44), cutting iron bars and confiscating them with the fence.

  • At approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 31 October 2018, Israeli forces accompanied with military vehicles and a vehicle of the Israeli Civil Administration and a bulldozer moved into Kherbet Khelet al-Forn, south of Bani Na’iem village, east of Hebron. The Israeli soldiers deployed in the lands overlooking Bypass Road 356 and then demolished two 50-sqaure-meter agricultural rooms belonging to Majed Mohamed Ibrahim Burqan (55). The rooms were demolished under the pretext of building without a license in area classified as Area C. The rooms were used for breeding livestock. Kherbet al- Khelet is located to the west of the Bypass Road 356, adjacent to the intersection leading to “Bani Hefer” settlement established on the lands of Bani Na’iem village. The residents of Kherbet al- Khelet work in agriculture and breeding livestock and most of them are Bedouins.


Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property


Israeli settlers’ attack:

  • At approximately 10:40 on Sunday, 28 October 2018, Yusi, a guard of “Eili“ settlement, attacked Mofeed Jameel Abu Murrah (56), Secretary of Qaryout village council, and Khairy Mohamed Hasan Maradwah (53), Member of the village council, on Batisha Road established west of the abovementioned village, southeast of Nablus. Mofeed and Khairy were in Batisha area, which is classified within Area B, supervising the establishment of the base course within a project funded by the Relief Society. The guard beat Mofeed and Khairy and then threw a sound bomb at the bulldozer that was establishing the base course. Khairy Mohamed Hasan Maradwah (53), Member of Qaryout village council, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: “ At approximately 10:40 on Sunday, 28 October 2018, I was along with Mofeed Jameel Abu Murrah (56), Secretary of Qaryout village council, in Batisha area. We were supervising the establishment of base course on the road. This project is funded by the Relief Society. The road is 1,500 meters long. At the mentioned time, we were surprised with the guard of “Eili“settlement, Yusi, heading toward us carrying MI6 riffle. Yusi and I know each other. Yuis immediately threw a sound bomb at the bulldozer and then headed toward Mofeed and beat him. After that, Yuis grabbed my neck and cursed me before assaulting me with the rifle’s butt on my hands and chest. He then deported us from the road classified as Area B. As a result, we were forced to leave the area until we could see him leaving.”



Recommendations to the International Community:

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
  2. PCHR calls upon the ICC to continue to investigate the Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and grave violations in the Gaza Strip.
  3. PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
  4. PCHR calls upon the international community to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine.
  5. PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
  6. PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
  7. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
  8. PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
  9. PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
  10. PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
  11. PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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