Bill O’Reilly aggetating the murder of Dr Tiller

Keith Olbermann: ‘FOX News Incited Dr. Tiller’s Murder’

O’Reilly: “[I]f I could get my hands on Tiller — well, you know. Can’t be vigilantes. Can’t do that. It’s just a figure of speech.”

More O´Reilly hateful, racist bullshit

Does the O’Reilly Factor Create Killers?

he killing of Dr. George Tiller is, of course, the second recent politically-motivated church shooting. The first occurred in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on July 27th of last year. And although one was targeted at a doctor, and the other at liberals in general, both share a common element: Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly had targeted Tiller repeatedly on his show, claiming he ran a “death mill” and quoting a description of him as “Tiller the Baby Killer.” And as for the Unitarian killing, the shooter infamously had a copy of O’Reilly’s book in his home, and wrote a vitriolic screed about his hatred for liberals.

Of course, the factors motivating each killing cannot be boiled down simply to the influence of Mr. O’Reilly. However, Mr. O’Reilly bears a unique responsibility for this kind of violence, not only because his show and opinions reach millions of viewers, but also because he is a figure who not only disagrees with but dehumanizes his opponents. Using words like “evil” and “villain” to describe his targets, O’Reilly turns political spats into sweeping moral crusades.

A large part of The O’Reilly Factor’s success can be attributed to this righteous anger and the creation of villains for the audience to despise. Bill O’Reilly has a spectacular ability to create caricatures out of cherry-picked details and heavily edited interviews, and to portray himself as a noble warrior against the forces of injustice. Whether it’s a small-town mayor or a circuit judge, whoever O’Reilly feels has committed a sin is professionally and personally demonized. Of course, anyone who has ever spent a minute watching the show knows this, and it can usually be written off as a sensationalistic ratings-grabbing act. But when events like today’s happen, it is important to examine the damage that this relentless pursuit of viewers can create.

As someone who worked at Planned Parenthood for a large part of the last year, I have driven past screaming protesters on my way into work numerous times. And the main problem with these activists has not been their mere presence, or the fact that they disagree with me, but their clear view of me as less than human. These groups often see doctors who perform abortions not only as wrong, but as seething, forceps-wielding, murderous Harold Shipmans or Josef Menegles. Barack Obama was prescient at Notre Dame when he claimed that the greatest obstacle to progress on abortion was the tendency to ignore the humanity of opponents.

And so, when crimes like the shooting of Dr. Tiller occur, Mr. O’Reilly bears a strong responsibility. He has used his great influence to create a climate of hatred in the parts of the American right, a hatred which is naturally likely to bubble over into extreme violence now and then. The Tiller and Tennessee shootings are the logical consequences of buying into O’Reilly’s dehumanizing rhetoric. If those that disagree with us politically become monsters and murderers, shooting them can seem an act of great heroism. And it is O’Reilly, more than any other conservative host, who crafts the images of liberals and “abortionists” as monsters.

I am not suggesting that Bill O’Reilly should be brought up on charges. In my home country of Great Britain, leaders of the far right are occasionally arrested and convicted of attempting to incite violence, a measure which is deplorable and despotic. Freedom for the speech we hate is essential. But I am astounded that Mr. O’Reilly can sleep at night knowing the terror and hostility his words create. Until he softens his tone, and convinces his followers to demonstrate respect for those they disagree with, murders like George Tiller’s are likely to

Ref: Huffingtonpost

Racists for Democracy

How lucky we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy.

This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State.

The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes “a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”, if the contents of the call might cause “actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts”.

One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.

The consequences are inevitable. The prisons will not be able to hold all those convicted of this crime. There will be a need for concentration camps all over the country to house all the deniers of Israeli democracy.

The police will be unable to deal with so many criminals. It will be necessary to set up a new unit. This may be called “Special Security”, or, in short, SS.

Hopefully, these measures will suffice to preserve our democracy. If not, more stringent steps will have to be taken, such as revoking the citizenship of the democracy-deniers and deporting them from the country, together with the Jewish leftists and all the other enemies of the Jewish democracy.

After the preliminary reading of the bill, it now goes to the Legal Committee of the Knesset, which will prepare it for the first, and soon thereafter for the second and third readings. Within a few weeks or months, it will be the law of the land.

By the way, the bill does not single out Arabs explicitly – even if this is its clear intention, and all those who voted for it understood this. It also prohibits Jews from advocating a change in the state’s definition, or the creation of a bi-national state in all of historic Palestine or spreading any other such unconventional ideas. One can only imagine what would happen in the US if a senator proposed a law to imprison anyone who suggests an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

* * *

THE BILL does not stand out at all in our new political landscape.

This government has already adopted a bill to imprison for three years anyone who mourns the Palestinian Naqba – the 1948 uprooting of more than half the Palestinian people from their homes and lands.

The sponsors expect Arab citizens to be happy about that event. True, the Palestinians were caused a certain unpleasantness, but that was only a by-product of the foundation of our state. The Independence Day of the Jewish and Democratic State must fill us all with joy. Anyone who does not express this joy should be locked up, and three years may not be enough.

This bill has been confirmed by the Ministerial Commission for Legal Matters, prior to being submitted to the Knesset. Since the rightist government commands a majority in the Knesset, it will be adopted almost automatically. (In the meantime, a slight delay has been caused by one minister, who appealed the decision, so the Ministerial Commission will have to confirm it again.)

The sponsors of the law hope, perhaps, that on Naqba Day the Arabs will dance in the streets, plant Israeli flags on the ruins of some 600 Arab villages that were wiped off the map and offer up their thanks to Allah in the mosques for the miraculous good fortune that was bestowed on them.

* * *

THIS TAKES me back to the 60s, when the weekly magazine I edited, Haolam Hazeh, published an Arabic edition. One of its employees was a young man called Rashed Hussein from the village of Musmus. Already as a youth he was a gifted poet with a promising future.

He told me that some years earlier the military governor of his area had summoned him to his office. At the time, all the Arabs in Israel were subject to a military government which controlled their lives in all matters big and small. Without a permit, an Arab citizen could not leave his village or town even for a few hours, nor get a job as a teacher, nor acquire a tractor or dig a well.

The governor received Rashed cordially, offered him coffee and paid lavish compliments to his poetry. Then he came to the point: in a month’s time, Independence Day was due, and the governor was going to hold a big reception for the Arab “notables”; he asked Rashed to write a special poem for the occasion.

Rashed was a proud youngster, nationalist to the core, and not lacking in courage. He explained to the governor that Independence Day was no joyful day for him, since his relatives had been driven from their homes and most of the Musmus village’s land had also been expropriated.

When Rashed arrived back at his village some hours later, he could not help noticing that his neighbors were looking at him in a peculiar way. When he entered his home, he was shocked. All the members of his family were sitting on the floor, the women lamenting at the top of their voices, the children huddling fearfully in a corner. His first thought was that somebody had died.

“What have you done to us!” one of the women cried, “What did we do to you?”

“You have destroyed the family,” another shouted, “You have finished us!”

It appeared that the governor had called the family and told them that Rashed had refused to fulfill his duty to the state. The threat was clear: from now on, the extended family, one of the largest in the village, would be on the black list of the military government. The consequences were clear to everyone.

Rashed could not stand up against the lamentation of his family. He gave in and wrote the poem, as requested. But something inside him was broken. Some years later he emigrated to the US, got a job there at the PLO office and died tragically: he was burned alive in his bed after going to sleep, it appears, while smoking a cigarette.

* * *

THESE DAYS are gone forever. We took part in many stormy demonstrations against the military government until it was finally abolished in 1966. As a newly elected Member of Parliament, I had the privilege of voting for its abolition.

The fearful and subservient Arab minority, then amounting to some 200 thousand souls, has recovered its self-esteem. A second and third generation has grown up, its downtrodden national pride has raised its head again, and today they are a large and self-confident community of 1.5 million. But the attitude of the Jewish Right has not changed for the better. On the contrary.

In the Knesset bakery (the Hebrew word for bakery is Mafia) some new pastries are being baked. One of them is a bill that stipulates that anyone applying for Israeli citizenship must declare their loyalty to “the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State”, and also undertake to serve in the army or its civilian alternative. Its sponsor is MK David Rotem of the “Israel is Our Home” party, who also happens to be the chairman of the Knesset Law Committee.

A declaration of loyalty to the state and its laws – a framework designed to safeguard the wellbeing and the rights of its citizens – is reasonable. But loyalty to the “Zionist” state? Zionism is an ideology, and in a democratic state the ideology can change from time to time. It would be like declaring loyalty to a “capitalist” USA, a “rightist Italy”, a ”leftist” Spain, a “Catholic Poland” or a “nationalist” Russia.

This would not be a problem for the tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in Israel who reject Zionism, since Jews will not be touched by this law. They obtain citizenship automatically the moment they arrive in Israel.

Another bill waiting for its turn before the Ministerial Committee proposes changing the declaration that every new Knesset Member has to make before assuming office. Instead of loyalty “to the State of Israel and its laws”, as now, he or she will be required to declare their loyalty “to the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State of Israel, its symbols and its values”. That would exclude almost automatically all the elected Arabs, since declaring loyalty to the “Zionist” state would mean that no Arab would ever vote for them again.

It would also be a problem for the Orthodox members of the Knesset, who cannot declare loyalty to Zionism. According to Orthodox doctrine, the Zionists are depraved sinners and the Zionist flag is unclean. God exiled the Jews from this country because of their wickedness, and only God can permit them to return. Zionism, by preempting the job of the Messiah, has committed an unpardonable sin, and many Orthodox Rabbis chose to remain in Europe and be murdered by the Nazis rather than committing the Zionist sin of going to Palestine.

* * *

THE FACTORY of racist laws with a distinct fascist odor is now working at full steam. That is built into the new coalition.

At its center is the Likud party, a good part of which is pure racist (sorry for the oxymoron). To its right there is the ultra-racist Shas party, to the right of which is Lieberman’s ultra-ultra racist “Israel is our Home” party, the ultra-ultra-ultra racist “Jewish Home” party, and to its right the even more racist “National Union” party, which includes outright Kahanists and stands with one foot in the coalition and the other on the moon.

All these factions are trying to outdo each other. When one proposes a crazy bill, the next is compelled to propose an even crazier one, and so on.

All this is possible because Israel has no constitution. The ability of the Supreme Court to annul laws that contradict the “basic laws” is not anchored anywhere, and the Rightist parties are trying to abolish it. Not for nothing did Avigdor Lieberman demand – and get – the Justice and Police ministries.

Just now, when the governments of the US and Israel are clearly on a collision course over the settlements, this racist fever may infect all parts of the coalition.

If one goes to sleep with a dog, one should not be surprised to wake up with fleas (may the dogs among my readers pardon me). Those who elected such a government, and even more so those who joined it, should not be surprised by its laws, which ostensibly safeguard Jewish democracy.

The most appropriate name for these holy warriors would be “Racists for Democracy”.

Ref: Counterpunch

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

The Changing Face of Israel

Avraham Burg obviously believes that the occupation has had a deeply corrupting effect on Israel. But there is something else going on inside Israel that worries him greatly: the changing nature of that society. He says, for example, that “Israeli society is split to its core,” and although he does not detail the specifics of that divide, it is apparent that it has a political and a religious dimension. He believes that the political center of gravity in Israel has shifted markedly to the right. Indeed, he believes that the left has “decreased in numbers and become marginal.” He also sees the balance between secular and religious Israelis shifting in favor of the latter, which is why he writes that “the establishment of a state run by rabbis and generals is not an impossible nightmare.”

I would like to try to buttress Burg’s analysis by pointing out some trends in Israeli society that are having and will continue to have a profound effect on the Jewish state over time, but which are hardly talked about in the mainstream media here in America. Specifically, I would like to focus on the growth of the ultra-Orthodox or Haredi in Israel, and emigration out of Israel, or what one might call “reverse Aliyah.”

There were only a tiny number of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel when the state was founded in 1948. In fact, the Haredi were deeply opposed to Zionism, which they saw as an affront to Jewish tradition. However, their numbers have been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, as has their share of the Israeli population. The reason is simple: on average, each Haredi woman has 7.6 children, which is roughly triple the rate for the overall Israeli Jewish population. Thus, the Forward reported in August 2007 that : “In the 15 years from 1992 to 2007, the proportion of Jewish children attending state-secular elementary schools dropped to 55% of the total from 67%; in 2012 it is projected to fall to 51%. The percentage attending Haredi schools, meanwhile, went from 12.4% in 1992 to 26.7% in 2007 and a projected 31% in 2012.”

The rapid growth of the ultra-Orthodox community has significant consequences for Israel, because only 30 percent of Haredi men work and very few of them serve in the military. More generally, it means that they are likely to play a major role in running Israel in the decades ahead. It is worth noting that in the recent mayoral race in Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox candidate, Meir Porush, said that, “In another fifteen years there will not be a secular mayor in any city in Israel, except for perhaps in some far-flung village.” He was exaggerating for sure, but his comment captures where Israel is headed, and why Burg worries about rabbis running the state.

The second trend is the large number of Israelis who have emigrated to North America and Europe, and are unlikely to return home. According to most estimates, there are roughly 5.3 million Israeli Jews and 5.2 million Palestinians living in Greater Israel. There are also about 300,000 individuals living in Israel who the Central Bureau of Statistics defines as “others.” Most are family members of Jewish immigrants or individuals who have Jewish ancestors, but not a Jewish mother, and therefore are not categorized as Jews by the Israeli government. If one counts these “others” as Jews, then there are 5.6 million Israeli Jews, not 5.3 million. Let’s do that, which means that there are 5.6 million Israeli Jews and 5.2 million Palestinians. However, not all of those Jews live in Israel anymore. It is difficult to get firm numbers on how many Israelis live abroad, because the government stopped publishing those numbers in the early 1970s. Based on various articles on the subject and conversations I had when I was in Israel this past June, it seems safe to assume that at least 750,000 Israelis live outside its borders. This means that there are now fewer Jews than Palestinians living in Greater Israel, even if you count the 300,000 “others” as Jews.

Furthermore, there is considerable evidence that a substantial number of Israeli Jews would like to leave Israel if they could. In an article that just appeared in the National Interest, John Mueller and Ian Lustick report that “a recent survey indicates that only 69 percent of Jewish Israelis say they want to stay in the country, and a 2007 poll finds that one-quarter of Israelis are considering leaving, including almost half of all young people. They go on to report that, “in another survey, 44 percent of Israelis say they would be ready to leave if they could find a better standard of living elsewhere. Over 100,000 Israelis have acquired European passports.”* I would bet that most of those Israelis who have opted to live in the Diaspora are secular and politically moderate, at least in the Israeli context. It is also worth noting that there has been limited immigration into Israel since the early 1990s, and in some years, the emigrants outnumber the immigrants.

This data seems to confirm Burg’s point that Israeli society is becoming more religious and less secular, and that the political center of gravity is much further to the right than it used to be. I can think of five possible implications of this evolving situation.

First, these trends will surely make it less likely that Israel will leave the West Bank and allow the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own. Greater Israel is going to be a fact of life, if it already isn’t.

Second, it seems clear that the Jews are going to badly outnumbered by the Palestinians in Greater Israel. The one key demographic fact that I did not include above is that the average Palestinian woman has approximately 4.6 children, while the Israeli figure is about 2.6 children. Greater Israel will be an apartheid state.

Third, young Israelis who think like Burg are likely to become increasingly uncomfortable living in Israel, and find the idea of living in Europe or North America increasingly attractive. And Europe, which will be facing wicked demographic problems down the road, is likely to welcome – if not try to attract – those Israelis who want to immigrate there.

Fourth, it is likely to be increasingly difficult for pro-Israel forces in the United States to make the case that Washington should maintain its “special relationship” with Israel, because the two countries have “common values.” There is not much similarity in terms of core values between the emerging Israel and contemporary America.

Fifth, it also seems apparent that it is going to be increasingly difficult for American Jews, especially younger ones, to identify with Israel and feel a deep attachment to it, which is essential for maintaining the special relationship.

In sum, Israel is in trouble, which is why Americans of all persuasions – especially those who purport to be Israel’s friends – should read Burg’s important book and start talking about it.

Ref: TPM

Also read the report in FP > The Changing Face of Israel

Perhaps the most contentious element of Yisrael Beytenu’s demographic agenda is titled “land for land, peace for peace.” Rejecting government “land for peace” initiatives with neighboring Arab states, it proposes instead to swap Israeli-Arab border towns (and Israeli Arabs) for close-in Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Even with Lieberman heading Israel’s Foreign Ministry, this proposal may not surface publicly under the Likud-led coalition. Land swaps are ideologically unpalatable to either the left, for whom Israeli-Arab rights are non negotiable, or the right, for whom each square kilometer secured within the Green Line (Israel’s pre-1967 border) is symbolic of national sacrifice. Nonetheless, the swap appeals to many within government and in the public. Moreover, it’s another of Yisrael Beytenu’s demographic game-changers: It might circumvent the impasse created by the settlements while taking a chunk of Arab population growth out of Israel’s political future.

It is probably unwise to attempt near-term political predictions for a system where new break away parties, comingled electoral lists, and governments composed of strange political bedfellows are commonplace. We offer just one: As the secular proportion of Jewish voters recedes, Yisrael Beytenu’s fortunes are bound to improve. And that secular proportion will indeed recede, unless, of course, the rules of the game change — which is precisely what Lieberman has in mind.

UN war investigators arrive in Gaza

United Nations team has arrived in the Gaza Strip to investigate possible war crimes and other violations of international law during Israel’s assault on the territory earlier this year.

The 15-member team, headed by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing on Monday.

The team entered from Egypt after being denied visas to cross from Israel, despite multiple requests by the UN.

“We have come here to see, to learn, to talk to people in all walks of life; ordinary people, governmental people, administrative people,” Goldstone said.

The team plans to complete its fact-finding mission in a week, but Goldstone said they were likely to return within a month, before presenting a report in August.

Goldstone’s team plans to meet witnesses and victims of alleged violations, non-governmental organisations and UN agencies in Gaza.

Goldstone is former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and lead a public inquiry into intimidation and violence leading up to South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections in 1994.

Hamas welcome

Ghazi Hamad, a representative of Hamas, and local UN officials met the investigators at the Rafah crossing.

“They have already met government officials, mostly from the ministry of health here,” Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said.

In depth

Analysis and features from after the war
“They have been presented with nearly two hours of video material prepared by the government, including testimonies of witnesses and those that suffered.”

“Over the course of the next few days … they will see for themselves the wanton destruction across the Gaza Strip. They will visit areas where alleged war crimes have taken place and hear directly from the Palestinian people.”

Israel accuses the UN’s mission of being biased.

“They have been instructed to prove that Israel is guilty and we will not collaborate with such a masquerade,” Yigal Palmor, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, told The Associated Press news agency.

Palmor said Israel had no plans to co-operate with the investigation.

In May, Goldstone had said he hoped to visit Gaza and southern Israel and hold public hearings on whether war crimes had been committed.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas official, welcomed the investigation in a statement.

“We hope to see the leaders of the Zionist enemy brought to justice as soon as possible as war criminals in the international courts,” he said.

Conduct questioned

During the 22-day conflict which ended in January, 1,417 Palestinians were killed, including 926 civilians, according to Palestinian officials.

But Israel says that the number killed is considerably lower, and that only 295 of the dead were civilians.

International human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called for a credible and independent investigation of Israel’s conduct in Gaza.

They specifically asked for inquiries into the destruction of residential areas and the use of artillery shells containing white phosphorous, which can cause severe burns.

Israel, which conducted an internal investigation by its armed forces last month, says it found no evidence of serious misconduct by its troops.

ReF: Haartez

Israeli silence and the Lebanese ‘spy rings’

Watching the Arab television networks, which are extensively covering the uncovering of the “Israeli espionage network,” is not a particularly heartwarming experience these days. One after another, Lebanese army and police officers, some of them high-ranking, are being brought in for detention and questioning. Advanced electronic equipment has been confiscated. The heads of Lebanon’s counterintelligence are proud of their successes in breaking the Israeli code.

Looking on from Israel, it is very difficult to gauge the true dimensions of the affair. It is clear there is more than a little exaggeration, mixed with a pinch of Oriental fantasy and the paranoia of a small state that for years has feared its secrets are being exposed to its powerful southern neighbor. The timing of the publication, too, is far from coincidental: Lebanese parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 7, next Sunday. The investigation reports reinforce the standing of the pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian radical alliance led by Hezbollah.

On the other hand, even judging from the little that Israel itself has reported, along with reports from foreign media sources, it is clear that Israeli intelligence racked up more than a few achievements on the northern front in the past decade. Operation Specific Gravity, in which the Israel Air Force knocked out Hezbollah’s medium-range missile launchers with a high degree of accuracy on the first night of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, would not have been possible without excellent intelligence information. Hezbollah also attributes to Israel the assassination of many militants in the terror organizations in Lebanon before that war, culminating with the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus about 18 months after the war ended.

Getting worse?

Do the reports from Lebanon mean things are getting worse for Israel? Is this another foreign espionage fiasco, like the 1954 Lavon Affair in Egypt? Israel’s publication policy in this area has not changed over the years: No information is offered, good or bad. Israel will not provide its enemies with official declarations indicating whether they hit their target or missed it completely. The average Israeli, as a media consumer, therefore never knows the genuine extent of the damage, if any.

This stems not only from Israel’s policy of silence and nonresponse. In a slightly surprising development, the defense establishment is enjoying particularly good public relations – precisely in the years following its relative failure in the Second Lebanon War. In many areas, the rehabilitative work done since that war is truly impressive. But who could have predicted that the Mossad head and the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff would be competing for the title of media man of the year? It seems more appropriate to a Soviet-era Eastern European state.

It is quite clear that the Israeli public is tired of hearing about the screw-ups of its military forces. The people oppose the hostile media? Then most media outlets will change accordingly.

The upshot of these trends is increasingly less public supervision of the defense establishment. For example, is there anyone, regardless of events in Lebanon, who is examining the jurisdictional boundaries between the various intelligence agencies? Who should be utilizing agents, and do the units assigned to a mission have the skills necessary to carry it out?

In the past, a subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee played a significant role in overseeing sensitive issues. The Netanyahu cabinet includes at least two ministers with great experience in these areas, in addition to Defense Minister Ehud Barak: Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor, and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (a former IDF chief of staff and head of Army Intelligence). One must hope that the figures holding these important positions know enough about current events and are determined enough to make sure that mishaps are fully investigated, and that Israel, which is once again confident in its military capabilities, is not confidently marching toward new entanglements.

Ref: Haaretz