Everyday news from the occupation…

5 Citizens Arrested by IOF
Time:17:00
RAMALLAH, October 29, 2007 (WAFA) – Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested on Monday five citizens in the West Bank, witnesses said.

According …..full story
Dozens Arrested in West Bank by IOF
Time:16:34

NABLUS, October 29, 2007, (WAFA)- Dozens of Palestinian citizens were arrested on Monday by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the West Bank …..full story
4 Citizens killed, 25 Others Wounded by IOF in Gaza Strip
Time:16:33

GAZA, RAMALLAH, October 29, 2007, (WAFA)- Four citizens were killed and twenty five others wounded on Monday during an Israeli rampage in Beit …..full story

Inside Israel’s Military Courts – The First Nation to Legalize Torture

Should the United States, seeking to recalibrate the balance between security and liberty in the “war on terror,” emulate Israel in its treatment of Palestinian detainees?

That is the position that Guantanamo detainee lawyers Avi Stadler and John Chandler of Atlanta, and some others, have advocated. That people in U.S. custody could be held incommunicado for years without charges, and could be prosecuted or indefinitely detained on the basis of confessions extracted with torture is worse than a national disgrace. It is an assault on the foundations of the rule of law.

But Israel’s model for dealing with terrorism, while quite different from that of the U.S., is at least as shameful.

Long before the first suicide bombing by Palestinians in 1994, Israel had resorted to extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, deportations, curfews and other forms of collective punishment barred by international law.

Imprisonment has been one of the key strategies of Israeli control of the Palestinian population, and since 1967 more than half a million Palestinians were prosecuted through military courts that fall far short of international standards of due process.

Most convictions are based on coerced confessions, and for decades Israeli interrogation tactics have entailed the use of torture and ill-treatment. Tens of thousands more Palestinians were never prosecuted, but were instead held in administrative detention for months or years.

Israel had the ignominious distinction of being the first state to publicly and officially “legalize” torture. Adopting the recommendation of an Israeli commission of inquiry, in 1987 the government endorsed the euphemistically termed “moderate physical pressure,” and tens of thousands of Palestinians suffered the consequences.

In 1999 the Israeli High Court prohibited the routine use of “moderate physical pressure.” But the ruling left open a window for torture under “exceptional circumstances.”

These tactics, many of which have been used by American interrogators against foreign prisoners, include painful shackling, stress position abuse, protracted sleep deprivation, temperature and sound manipulation, and various forms of degrading and humiliating treatment. In an interview with three Israeli interrogators published in the Tel Aviv newspaper Ma’ariv in July 2004, one said the General Security Service “uses every manipulation possible, up to shaking and beating.”

About 10,000 Palestinians are imprisoned inside Israel and more than 800 are administratively detained. Their families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are barred entry to Israel, so Palestinian detainees are, in that sense, as isolated as prisoners in Guantanamo. Just last week, the Israeli Supreme Court had to order one of the most notorious detention facilities to allow prisoners 24-hour access to toilets.

The Israeli military court system compares to the U.S. military tribunal system established for Guantanamo in ways that U.S. lawyers like Stadler and Chandler deplore.

In addition to the reliance on coercive interrogation to produce confessions and to justify continued detention, prisoners in Israeli custody can be held incommunicado for protracted periods, and lawyers face onerous obstacles in meeting with their clients.

While it is true that detainees are brought before an Israeli military judge at some point, this process is hardly impartial. Such hearings tend to be used to extend detention and often take place in interrogation facilities, not courts. Detainees are rarely represented by lawyers or apprised of their rights, including a right to complain about abuse or to assert innocence. Failure to assert innocence at this hearing can be used as evidence of guilt.

Any information, including hearsay and tortured accounts from other prisoners, can be used to convict or administratively detain Palestinians.

If we learn anything, then, from the Israeli experience, perhaps it should be that torture and arbitrary or indefinite detention exacerbate a conflict and endanger civilians.

Americans should be proud of the noble work that Guantanamo lawyers are doing to press for a restored commitment to the rule of law by the U.S. government. If these lawyers wish to identify an apt model from Israel, it is not the government or the military court system.

Rather it is the Israeli and Palestinian human rights communities who have been working for decades to establish respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Ref: Counterpunch, by Lisa Hajjar

Lisa Hajjar is associate professor and chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of “Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza” (University of California Press, 2005).

The United States of Violence – Imperial Excess

We keep hearing that Iraq is not Vietnam. And surely any competent geographer would agree. But the United States is the United States — still a country run by leaders who brandish, celebrate and use the massive violent capabilities of the Pentagon as a matter of course.

***
Almost fifty years ago, during the same autumn JFK won the presidency, John Hersey came out with “The Child Buyer,” a novel written in the form of a hearing before a state senate committee. “Excuse me, Mrs., but I wonder if you know what’s at stake in this situation,” a senator says to the mother of a ten-year-old genius being sought for purchase by the United Lymphomilloid corporation. “You realize the national defense is involved here.”

“This is my boy,” the mom replies. “This is my beautiful boy they want to take away from me.”

A vice president of United Lymphomilloid, “in charge of materials procurement,” testifies that “my duties have an extremely high national-defense rating.” He adds: “When a commodity that you need falls in short supply, you have to get out and hustle. I buy brains. About eighteen months ago my company, United Lymphomilloid of America, Incorporated, was faced with an extremely difficult problem, a project, a long-range government contract, fifty years, highly specialized and top secret, and we needed some of the best minds in the country…”

Soon, most of the lawmakers on the committee are impressed with the importance of the proposed purchase for the nation. So there’s some consternation when the child buyer reports that he finally laid his proposition “squarely on the table” — and the boy’s answer was no.

Senator Skypack exclaims: “What the devil, couldn’t you go over his head and just buy him?”

“The Child Buyer” is a clever send-up, with humor far from lighthearted. Fifteen years after Hersey did firsthand research for his book “Hiroshima,” the Cold War had America by the throat. The child buyer (whose name, as if anticipating a Bob Dylan song not to be written for several more years, is Mr. Jones) tells the senate panel that his quest is urgent, despite the fifty-year duration of the project. “As you know, we live in a cutthroat world,” he says. “What appears as sweetness and light in your common television commercial of a consumer product often masks a background of ruthless competitive infighting. The gift-wrapped brickbat. Polite legal belly-slitting. Banditry dressed in a tux. The more so with projects like ours. A prospect of perfectly enormous profits is involved here. We don’t intend to lose out.”

And what is the project for which the child will be bought? A memorandum, released into the hearing record, details “the methods used by United Lymphomilloid to eliminate all conflict from the inner lives of the purchased specimens and to ensure their utilization of their innate equipment at maximum efficiency.”

First comes solitary confinement for a period of weeks in “the Forgetting Chamber.” A second phase, called “Education and Desensitization in Isolation,” moves the process forward. Then comes a “Data-feeding Period”; then major surgery that “consists of ‘tying off’ all five senses”; then the last, long-term phase called “Productive Work.” Asked whether the project is too drastic, Mr. Jones dismisses the question: “This method has produced mental prodigies such as man has never imagined possible. Using tests developed by company researchers, the firm has measured I.Q.’s of three fully trained specimens at 974, 989, and 1005…”

It is the boy who brings a semblance of closure on the last day of the hearing. “I guess Mr. Jones is really the one who tipped the scales,” the child explains. “He talked to me a long time this morning. He made me feel sure that a life dedicated to U. Lympho would at least be interesting. More interesting than anything that can happen to me now in school or at home…. Fascinating to be a specimen, truly fascinating. Do you suppose I really can develop an I.Q. of over a thousand?”

But, a senator asks, does the boy really think he can forget everything in the Forgetting Chamber?

“I was wondering about that this morning,” the boy replies. “About forgetting. I’ve always had an idea that each memory was a kind of picture, an insubstantial picture. I’ve thought of it as suddenly coming into your mind when you need it, something you’ve seen, something you’ve heard, then it may stay awhile, or else it flies out, then maybe it comes back another time. I was wondering about the Forgetting Chamber. If all the pictures went out, if I forgot everything, where would they go? Just out into the air? Into the sky? Back home, around my bed, where my dreams stay?”

***
Suppression of inconvenient memory often facilitated the trances that boosted the work of the Pentagon. But some contrary voices could be heard.

Lenny Bruce wasn’t a household name when he died of a morphine overdose in August 1966, but he was widely known and had even performed on network television. His nightclub bits, captured on record albums, satirized the zeal of many upstanding moralistic pillars. One of Bruce’s favorite routines described a visit to New York by top holy men of Christianity and Judaism. They go to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: “Christ and Moses standing in the back of Saint Pat’s. Confused, Christ is, at the grandeur of the interior, the baroque interior, the rococo baroque interior. His route took him through Spanish Harlem. He would wonder what fifty Puerto Ricans were doing living in one room. That stained glass window is worth nine grand! Hmmmmm…”

In what turned out to be his final performances, Bruce took to reciting (with a thick German accent) lines from a poem by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton — a meditation on the high-ranking Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. “My defense? I was a soldier. I saw the end of a conscientious day’s effort. I watched through the portholes. I saw every Jew burned and turned into soap. Do you people think yourselves better because you burned your enemies at long distances with missiles? Without ever seeing what you’d done to them?”

***
We saw butterflies turn into bombers, and we weren’t dreaming. The 1960s had evolved into a competition between American excesses, with none — no matter how mind-blowing the psychedelic drugs or wondrous the sex or amazing the music festivals — able to overcome or undermine what the Pentagon was doing in Southeast Asia. As journalist Michael Herr observed in Vietnam: “We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality. Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.” At the same time that Woodstock became an instant media legend in mid-August 1969, melodic yearning for peace was up against the cold steel of America’s war machinery. The gathering of 400,000 young people at an upstate New York farm implicitly — and, for the most part, ineffectually — rejected the war and the assumptions fueling it. Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an apt soundtrack for U.S. foreign policy.

***
Days after the November 2004 election, while U.S. troops again moved into Fallujah for the slaughter, a dispatch from that city reported on the front page of the New York Times: “Nothing here makes sense, but the Americans’ superior training and firepower eventually seem to prevail.”

Superior violence, according to countless scripts, was righteous and viscerally satisfying. Television and movies, ever since childhood, presented greater violence as the ultimate weapon and final fix, uniquely able to put an end to conflict. Leaving menace for dead — you couldn’t beat that. But at home in the USA and far away, the practical and moral failures of violence became irrefutable. In Iraq, sources of unauthorized violence met with escalating American violence. In the United States, war opponents met with presidential contempt.

In a short story, published one hundred years ago, William Dean Howells wrote: “What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

Ref: counterpunch, by Norman Solomon

This essay is excerpted from Norman Solomon’s new book, Made Love, Got War.

White Fantasies About Raced-Based Intelligence

The idea of race-based intelligence has historically proved to be an unintelligent notion. Let one just question the premise: what is race and what is intelligence? Neither idea is physical, fixed, nor cross-cultural. Certainly, race and intelligence are real-but only as a social construction. For instance, ten of thousands of African Americans who are described as racially “black” in America, would undoubtedly be designated as “whites” in places like Brazil and Nigeria-because of their skin color, economic status and/or language. Additionally, an Anglo-Saxon visiting Mali or Sri Lanka may be labeled as unintelligent because he cannot recount the names of all his ancestors sixteen or two generations before him, nor provide food for himself by himself, nor can he speak five languages. While in his country he may be a designated a genius, a Nobel Prize winner even.

James Watson, a Nobel laureate for discovering the structure of DNA, hopes that there will soon be a genetic breakthrough that determines a gene for intelligence. He also proposes genetic intelligence can be measured in terms of race. If this so, how would it be done? Who will create the tests? Would one take “random” samples of blacks, whites, reds and yellows? How could we trust these samples are representative of the so-called races? What about the people who are in-between or a combination of the “races”? Are people born with a genetic limit, a cap on the amount of intelligence they can have? At what age do we test people? These questions are rhetorical and meant to illustrate some reasons why scientific studies on race intelligence have failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future.

Where did this unfruitful obsession with determining a race-based intelligence come from? Undoubtedly, race-based intelligence is a mutant concept of racism, a modern pillar of it, in fact. Many believe that racism stems out of the slave trade, imperialism and colonization, but these ideas are older than that. They are even older than the world’s most popular religions, which have also had an early hand in fostering racism. Racism has existed since various cultures began to co-mingle.

One of the earliest documented records of ideas on race is from the writings of Herodotus, the ‘father of History.’ Writing approximately 440 B.C.E. he researched marvelous histories of people such as Egyptians and Ethiopians. He describes many Africans as having black skin and wholly hair. On occasion, he refers to people that were not Greek-mainly yellow and black people, as “barbarians.” However, it should be noted people of other cultures at that time also regarded those not of their own group as barbarians.

In particular, scientific studies on race-determining-intelligence have unsuccessfully been conducted for centuries. The failure to prove this theory is not for lack of trying. The scientific avenues of inquiry on intelligence according to race have been studied from numerous angles. Psychology, Epidemiology, Statistics, Phrenology, Palentology, Anthropology, Eugenics (not only the Nazis used this “science”), Forensics, Social Darwanism, Biomedicine, and of course, Genetics are sciences that have all contributed to the hundreds of studies on, surrounding, or motivated by this topic.

Samuel George Morton ‘tested’ his collection of Native American, Egyptian and Caucasian skulls in the 1830s and 1840s by comparing brain sizes, which he defined as correlating to mental capacity. From the hundreds of skulls (retrieved through questionable methods) he surprisingly determined that caucasions were superior. Stephen Jay Gould is one of many scientist to prove the inconsistencies, omissions, miscalculations and pure absurity of this barbaric study and others like it.

In the 1900s the litany of “tests” racially comparing students’ IQs began not long after the turn of the century, but is famously associated with Lewis Terman. Innovating IQ tests in 1916, Terman tested children from various “races”-namely whites, blacks and reds. He determined that of the reds and blacks “their dullness seems to be racial.” A contemporary of his in the 1920s, African American psychologist, Horace Mann Bond refutingly analyzed Termans work uncovering his racism, as well as contributed scientific studies to academia that demonstrated the primary role of envirnoment and culture to the varying styles of cognative processing.

Ralph Bunche was another scholar who reiterated the overwhelming role of social circumstances in determining education results-a.k.a. ‘intelligence.’ This African American 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner was a living example of the tremendous intellectual capacity of someone from any “race,” but he didn’t stop there. In a 1936 article “Education in Black and White,” Bunche provides sound logic that evaluating blacks and “other peoples in the nation cannot be divorced from the dominant political, social and economic forces active in the society.”

Yet in 2007 James Watson argues he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa[because] all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.” As if addressing Watson himself, Bunche concludes in his 1936 article: “The difference between the problems of black and white working masses is one of intensity rather than in kind.” Of the two Nobel laureates, Ralph Bunche was the best qualified commentator on Africa, having been one of the most knowledgeable foreign experts on Africa of his time.

Surely, Bunche would have noted the problems of Africa have more to do with a brain drain, a minority of unscrupulous leaders and most importantly, foreign manipulation. At the same time, he also would declare that the continent of Africa is vibrant and continues to remarkably contribute to the betterment of mankind.

Wangari Maathai’s “Green Belt Movement” is excellent evidence of the bright future Africa may hold. This Kenyan female, a biologist, veterinarian, politician and Nobel laureate too (2004), has motivated hundreds of women to plant tens of millions of trees in Africa over the last 31 years. So, after all, it seems that intelligence can measured in different ways? Certainly reversing the trends of global warming to help save the earth for future generations is one sort of intelligence that will be helpful to all of the ‘races.’

Ref: counterpanuch, by Natalie Washington-Weik

Natalie Washington-Weik is currently researching Traditional Healing as an African History doctoral student at The University of Texas, Austin. She can be reached at: i_sea_@hotmail.com

So Much for Islamo-Fascism Awarenes – Thank You, David Horowitz

In America awareness never sleeps and has been on particularly active duty this October, designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush); as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush); as Energy Awareness Month (proclamation of President George Bush and the Environmental Protection Agency); and–we speak here specifically of October 22-29 — Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (proclamation of David Horowitz, a fat and hairy ex-Trot living in Los Angeles).

Cautionary interpolation: Horowitz was certainly fat last time I clapped eyes on him and he sports a beard which waxes and wanes in outreach depending on which Google image you look at. And yes, Christopher Hitchens is also a fat and hairy ex-Trot, is also a known associate of the man Horowitz, and also thunders against Islamo-Fascism. Nonetheless we speak here of Horowitz.

When I first saw Horowitz he was neither fat nor hairy nor apparently aware of Islamo-Fascism. This was in the late 1960s in London and he was working for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, studying at the feet of Isaac Deutscher and Ralph Miliband. About a decade later I saw him again, this time in Washington DC presiding over a well-publicized “Second Thoughts” conference, announcing his departure from the Left. He spoke harshly of his parents’ decision to make him watch uplifting features about the Soviet Union and forbade any Doris Day movies, a common blunder in child-brain-washing techniques among the comrades at that time.

Since then, like other Trotskyist vets, such as the above-mentioned Hitchens, Horowitz has thrown his energies into crusading on behalf of the American right, fuelled in his efforts by copious annual disbursements from the richer denizens of that well populated sector. Richard Mellon Scaife–apex demon in the “vast right-wing conspiracy” identified by Hillary Clinton amid the Lewinsky scandal–has poured millions into Horowitz’s organizations, as have other well-heeled conservative foundations. Every now and again Horowitz will raise some spectacularly nutty alarum, like the Los Angeles Times being taken over by pinkoes, and I always assume that Horowitz must be filling out his annual grant applications, and reminding Scaife that others may snooze and idle, but he, Horowitz, is unceasing in his vigilance against sedition.

In Horowitz’s bestiary, sedition comes in all the traditional forms, from commies on campus to commies in the press and he’s churned out endless bulletins charting their insidious reach. Some of his specific accusations have no doubt been useful to fearful school administrations eager to harry and expel the few radical teachers able to find employment in these bleak times.

But the problem for Horowitz is one of supply. The left in America is really in very poor shape: near zero Commies, and really only a sprinkling of radical black profs, militant Lesbians and kindred antinomians to beat up on. The notion of pinkoes in the media is laughable to all except the fearful imaginations of millionaires like Scaife. Hence the spotlight on Islamo-Fascism, a gloriously vague term whose origin is the topic of a tussle between Malise Ruthven, who used the term in 1980 to describe all authoritarian Islamic governments, and Stephen Schwartz, yet another fat, bearded former Trotskyist who says he was the first to use it in its specific application in 2000, eventually receiving a tap on the shoulder for so doing from Christopher Hitchens and John Sullivan. Arise, Sir Stephen!

Islamo-Fascism Awareness week has been featuring Horowitz and big-name ranters of the right like Anne Coulter and Fox’s Sean Hannity, plus former US Senator Rick Santorum, and noted Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. They descended on various college campuses to be received by Christian-Fascists and the curious while they hurled imprecations at the left for being soft on sons of the Prophet stoning women to death for adultery.

The reaction of the left has been mixed. In some ways it always takes Horowitz’s antics far too seriously, though the latter’s effect on timid college administrations cannot be entirely gainsaid. On the other hand, Awareness week is having a galvanizing effect. Coalitions have formed to combat Horowitz’s version of Awareness with superior Progressive Awareness about what is good or not so good about Islam. Since Santorum and others have ripe records of intolerance for women, the air is usefully thick with shouts of “hypocrite”. Horowitz is probably the best organizer the left has these days. He’s an Energizer, apt to the beseechings of Energy Awareness Week, though the target in that instance was probably that other insidious element in the American way of life, the incandescent light bulb.

Ref: Counterpunch, by Alexander Cockburn