Thousands in Gaza, West Bank rally in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners
■ Abbas calls on int'l community to intervene
■ Clashes with Israeli forces
■ Hamas backs strike
Tens on thousands of Palestinians from throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip marched and attended rallies to show
If people can be arrested for asking questions at library events, 'then I guess we're going to have to shut the library down,' says outraged director about the May incident.
The executive director the Kansas City library system says he is "outraged" that prosecutors continue to pursue charges against a man who was arrested after asking pointed questions during a library discussion about the Middle East peace process and an employee who tried to intervene.
Although the arrests occurred in May following a speech by author and diplomat Dennis Ross, the library system only recently went public about its opposition to charges, the Kansas City Star reported.
R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the city's library system, said "we're going to be living in a different kind of country" if people can be arrested for asking questions at a library. "If this kind of behavior is unacceptable to the police, then I guess we're going to have to shut the library down."
Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the U.S. and Israel that amount to "state-sponsored terrorism."
"When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?" Rothe-Kushel asked.
When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, "Get your hands off of me right now!"
Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.
"Every police officer who was on duty that evening was very communicative and respectful," Rothe-Kushel said. But he said he would have left if he had been asked to and given the chance to do so.
Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves said off-duty officers hired by the event sponsor acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions.
Rothe-Kushel is charged in city court with trespassing and resisting arrest. Woolfolk is charged with interfering with an arrest. Woolfolk said he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee when a police officer kneed him in the leg.
Kemper said the private security guards had no right to remove a patron for asking a question.
Ross' speech was the inaugural Truman and Israel Lecture, established by the Truman Library Institute and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
The Associated Press
The open criticism of the Palestinian Authority and the succession battle as Abbas ages could accelerate a new round of attacks.
The Palestinian wave of lone-wolf terrorism that began a year ago has continued intermittently into the current Jewish holiday season. When a terrorist can get his hands on a gun, as happened Sunday near Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill, that will always be the preferred option, not a stabbing or a car-ramming that usually cause fewer casualties. And because the gunman who killed a woman and policeman Sunday was from East Jerusalem, he had no problem reaching the site by car.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad quickly praised the attack, but neither organization has had much to shout about in recent months. A year ago Hamas tried to ride the terror wave and encouraged residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to take up arms. The group hoped this gun violence would exacerbate the situation and stir internal strife that would threaten the Palestinian Authority’s rule.
But only the lone-wolf attacks continued, and Hamas had trouble activating cells of its own, apart from one suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus in April in which the terrorist, who was from Bethlehem, was the only one killed. In the vast majority of cases, the Shin Bet security service and the PA security forces stopped Hamas cells in the West Bank before they could launch attacks.
On Sunday, the gunman who was killed by the police in a shootout was a known local activist with ties to Hamas and the force founded by the Islamic Movement for clashing with the police and Jewish worshippers on the Temple Mount (and which Israel outlawed a year ago.)
He was also a resident of Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood where friction between Arabs, Jews the police and the city has been at its highest. The Shin Bet and the police will have to see why there was no specific warning about the gunman’s plan (and about his acquiring a gun), despite his many extremist posts on Facebook and the fact that he was due to begin a four-month sentence in an Israeli prison for assaulting a police officer.
The attack’s religious motive is clear. It’s tied to the constant fear in East Jerusalem that Israel will try to keep Muslims off the Temple Mount, especially during the Jewish holiday season. Since the attack took place in a central location and caused a loss of life, was filmed by Palestinians and the perpetrator was known among East Jerusalem activists, there are many reasons to expect copycat attempts, especially in Jerusalem and Hebron.
With the sense of personal safety in Jerusalem shaken, the police will consider boosting their forces in the city even more, in addition to the heightened army presence in the West Bank during the High Holy Days. Last October began similarly in Jerusalem, with the terror wave petering out only in the spring, followed by sporadic occurrences thereafter.
The Israeli side has learned lessons from the last round and sealed off vulnerable spots, which should help reduce the chances of a major outbreak. A Palestinian opinion poll published Sunday – conducted among a thousand or so young people from the West Bank and Gaza – found somewhat surprisingly that more than half named unemployment as their number-one concern.
But the main difference from a year ago is the weakening of the PA’s standing. Last week, a few days after he was harshly criticized for attending Shimon Peres’ funeral, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was hospitalized for a heart catheterization.
In addition to Abbas’ health problems, the PA continues to have trouble exerting control. The previous terror round was halted largely thanks to security cooperation between Israel and the PA, though it took a few months for the latter to take part in efforts to halt the wave.
The open criticism of the PA, combined with the anticipation of the end of Abbas’ tenure and the succession battle, could accelerate a new round of terror attacks. Once again, Jerusalem – the Temple Mount in particular – will be a place for gauging whether a longer and more severe escalation will take place in the territories, or whether we’ll have random incidents that don’t reflect a turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Emails show Clinton crafted BDS letter for pro-Israel donors, as counter to her support for Iran dealThursday, 13 October 2016 10:58 Published in biagioeng
The latest hacked emails from the Clinton campaign expose a lot of fawning toward the Israel lobby, especially during the runup to the Iran deal, when Hillary Clinton had to balance her devotion to Israel with her loyalty to the Obama administration.
For instance, when Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to give his speech to Congress in March 2015 seeking to submarine President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, Clinton’s top foreign policy aide Jake Sullivan expressed concern that Clinton not say anything publicly to offend “Bibi.”
At the time, Sullivan was advised by Stuart Eisenstat, Clinton’s ambassador from the Jewish community, that Clinton needed to make an “adult” statement, so as to ameliorate “the deteriorating U.S.-Israel relationship, with the increasingly bitter Obama-Bibi tiff.”
Here a simple call from Hillary that it is important to stop the downward spiral of events with our close ally, notwithstanding mistakes, so we can focus on the key issues of Middle East peace and preventing Iran for acquiring a bomb would be a welcome positive, “adult” statement.
Stu – how would you craft the… statement so it doesn’t look like a rebuke of potus [President of the United States], bibi, or both?
Clinton soon made the “simple call” that Eisenstat had advised so as to placate the Israel lobby. She called Malcolm Hoenlein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (and the very man Obama had used to feel Clinton out in 2008 when he wanted to hire her as secretary of state), and Hoenlein released a statement: “Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests.” And the New York Times, among other publications, ran a story on the call, headlined,“Clinton Wants to Improve Ties to Israel.”
One of Clinton’s biggest financial supporters was pleased. Haim Saban sent an email to Clinton aides Huma Abedin and John Podesta describing the Clinton comments as “Very smart and politically correct” because they did not criticize the Obama administration. “Pls say thanks to the lady.”
Saban added that “thousands” of people, meaning pro-Israel donors, were going to like the call, because they wondered Where Hillary is on Israel.
Also pls be aware that these articles will be mailed to thousands of people who are interested in the subject matter and who have been asking themselves ,,,,and me ,many times ”Where is Hillary on this”
Iran was still a problem, though. That summer of 2015, the Iran deal came to Congress, andPolitico published an article saying that Hillary Clinton was confusing “Jewish donors.” On the one hand, she was telling them, “I’ll be better for Israel than Obama.” On the other, these same donors came out of meetings with her with “sometimes widely varying interpretations” of her view of the Iran deal. Mixed signals!
The article caused considerable consternation in the Clinton braintrust. Virtually the entire campaign leadership discussed what to do over the course of an afternoon, July 3, 2015. Campaign manager Robby Mook said he got the Israeli questions from “donors all the time”:
I was just thinking: has she made a clear statement on Israel yet? I get this question from donors all the time. Does she need to state her principles on Israel before Iran? Or do both at the same time?
In saying “before Iran,” Mook was anticipating Clinton’s public support for the Iran deal, which she announced ten days later.
Speechwriter Dan Schwerin said Clinton was taking care of her position on Israel:
That’s basically the goal of the BDS letter.
The BDS letter was a letter Clinton had written to Saban the day before, dated July 2, promising to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, along with Republicans. The letter had not yet gone public.
Mook responded that the letter wasn’t enough.
Do we need to push it harder over the next few days? Get something written? I feel like we’re going to want something to point to. Or maybe even just content on the website?
Deputy communications director Christina Reynolds suggested:
We could either get a donor to leak it or just give it to a reporter if we want to get it out there. I’m semi-surprised it’s not out yet.
If Haim’s going to give it to the Jewish media, I think that solves our problem. Once they write, we can make sure it gets picked up by some of our beat guys.
Jake Sullivan also got into the act that afternoon, July 3:
We have a two pager I’m getting clearance from her on. That is what we have to ship around.
Reynolds again emphasized the need to cover her “Israel support”:
Right, but if we wanted to have a reporter cover the Israel support now, a leak of the letter could probably get written. Otherwise, we can work around the Israel support for reporters covering Iran.
Mook responded that afternoon that it was vital to get the word out before Hillary Clinton endorsed the Iran deal:
Let’s def give it to someone. I see zero downside to a story. Then we can circulate around right away (hopefully) in advance of Iran
The Clinton-to-Saban letter against BDS appeared in Politico on July 6. Politico wrote, “A campaign aide said Clinton was motivated to write the letter after hearing from a number of people on the issue over the past few months.”
A week later Stu Eizenstat warned the campaign that “in Israel there is wall-to-wall opposition” to the Iran Deal, including from the center-left Jewish leaders Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
Another warning came on January 27, 2016. M Bronfein, who would seem to be Michael Bronfein, a big contributor to the Clintons. warned the campaign about an article in the Washington Post by the neoconservative Jennifer Rubin pointing out that Chelsea Clinton had held a fundraiser in California at the home of a board member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which Rubin called “a notorious group with links to the Iranian regime that opposed, among other things, any sanctions on Iran.” Bronfein wrote:
I am fielding quite a few concerns over this.. , seems to have some viral qualities.. FYI
Dennis Cheng, the national finance chair for the Clinton campaign, wrote back the same day to Bronfein:
Thanks for flagging – will look into this asap
As you read these emails, which were hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email accounts, remember that after the Iran Deal was signed in 2015, Netanyahu wasinvited to an embarrassingly-obsequious interview by the person holding Podesta’s former job as head of the Center for American Progress: Neera Tanden. Part of the strategy from on high.
The Saudi bombing of a funeral in Saana, Yemen, killed about 200 – we don’t yet know the exact number – and wounded over 500.
No one believes the denials of the Saudis: clearly this event was targeted for special treatment. They didn’t just bomb it once: they came back again to rain death and destruction on the mourners. And these weren’t just any mourners: it was the funeral of the father of the Houthi Interior Minister, Jalal al-Rowaishan, with many government officials present. The dead included the Mayor of Sanaa: we don’t yet know if the Interior Minister survived.
No one wants to talk about this war. Up until now, the US has kept an embarrassed silence, for the most part: in response to this latest atrocity, the National Security Council issued a terse statement with all the requisite buzzwords – “deeply concerned,” “troubling,” “not a blank check,” even while reiterating the indefensible US rationale for funding, assisting, and enabling what is quite simply mass murder of civilians: “Even as we assist Saudi Arabia regarding the defense of their territorial integrity …”
The very idea that Yemen – what is arguably the poorest country on the face of the earth – is a threat to the Kingdom’s “territorial integrity” is a grotesque joke. I’ve covered the historical roots of the ongoing rebellion in Yemen – see here, here andhere – but in brief: the Saudi invasion of Yemen is quite simply a proxy war on behalf of the US that has devolved into Saudi expansionism. Indeed, one could make the case that it is much more so than the Russian re-annexation of Crimea – which, after all, has been a Russian domain since the days of Catherine the Great. Yemen has never been a part of the Saudi kingdom: it is an ancient land, whose roots as an independent entity precede the birth of Christ.
While the Syrian civil war has been the subject of much debate, the war in Yemen has received almost no attention. Donald Trump has mentioned it only in passing, and Hillary Clinton hasn’t said a single word about it – with good reason.
The reason is because, during her reign at the State Department, she and her staff collaborated with the Saudis to create a military machine that is now mowing down Yemeni civilians by the thousands.
It was Christmas eve, 2011, and the employees at Hillary’s Foggy Bottom were celebrating. Were they celebrating the Christian holiday? Hell no! They were overjoyedby the “good news” – as Jake Sullivan, Hillary’s deputy chief of staff put it in the heading of an email – that the Saudis’ Prince Salman (now the Saudi king, then the chief negotiator for the Saudi side) had signed on to a $29.4 billion arms deal with Boeing. Included in the sale: more than 80 F-15 fighter jets, which are now slaughtering ambulance drivers, children, and any others in war-torn Yemen who happen to be within range. “Not a bad Christmas present” remarked one top official in an email chain made public by a Freedom of Information Act request. Hillary was on the receiving end of all of this.
The gift-giving was hardly one-sided, however. The Saudis had already given an estimated minimum of $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. And, as David Sirota and Andrew Perez pointed out in the International Business Times,
“Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing – the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 – contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.”
As the Saudis prepared their campaign of aggression, the Clinton State Department made arming the regime a “top priority.” And as Hillary prepared her presidential run, a Boeing lobbyist, Tim Keating – a former aide to husband Bill – hosted a “Ready for Hillary” fundraising gala.
Wheels within wheels within wheels, all turning and churning to produce death and destruction for those on the bottom, and enormous wealth and power for those on the top.
“Merry Christmas Jingle Bells
Christ is born and the devil’s in hell
hearts they shrink
Everybody know and nobody tell
Little Wheels spin and spin
Big wheels turn around and around.”
The big wheels – the Clintons and their friends – send the little wheels spinning into oblivion, and the people of Yemen are just one part of the larger story. The Clinton State Department’s obscene “Christmas present” is just one chapter in the continuing saga of how our corrupt elites lord it over not only us but the whole world, grinding all underfoot while they celebrate their wealth and vaunted wisdom. The game is not only rigged, as Trump points out – it’s murderous.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott RichertandDavid Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.
This article originally appeared on Antiwar.com.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.
Netanyahu to Kerry: I Expect U.S. Won't Advance UN Resolution on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Before Obama Leaves OfficeThursday, 13 October 2016 10:56 Published in biagioeng
U.S. secretary of state told the prime minister that at this stage the U.S. administration has not made a decision on possible steps in the Security Council, Haaretz has learned.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would expect that the administration of President Barack Obama will not carry out a shift in policy and will not promote or support a United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue during the period following the U.S. presidential election until Obama leaves office, Haaretz has learned. Netanyahu made the comments in a telephone conversation with Kerry on Saturday night. The election is to be held on November 8 while Obama's term ends on January 20.
A senior Israeli official who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter said that, in the call, Netanyahu presented Kerry with Israel's position on the matter and repeated the points that he, Netanyahu, had presented publicly about two weeks ago in a speech to the UN General Assembly.
Haaretz has learned that in the portion of the call devoted to possible steps at the UN Security Council, for the most part Kerry listened, but ultimately told the prime minister that the U.S. administration has still not made any decision on the issue.
In his UN address, Netanyahu noted that one of the mainstays of Israel's relations with the United States is America's steadfast support for Israel at the United Nations. "I appreciate President Obama's commitment to that longstanding U.S. policy," Netanyahu said at the time. "In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations."
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office and at the Foreign Ministry are concerned that, following the American presidential elections but prior to the end of his term in the White House, Obama could attempt to promote steps to enshrine his presidential legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The assessment in Jerusalem is that such a process could take the form of a speech in which the U.S. president would spell out his vision for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for a Security Council resolution regarding West Bank Jewish settlements or even the promotion of a Security Council resolution that would define the principles for a solution to the core issues of the conflict, such as the borders of a Palestinian state or the future of Jerusalem.
Despite concerns over steps Obama could take at the United Nations, Netanyahu preferred not to raise the subject at the meeting that he had with Obama in New York two weeks ago. The Israeli prime minister did, however, raise the subject several days later at a meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In a statement released after the meeting with Netanyahu, Clinton said that she had expressed her opposition to the prime minister to any unilateral steps against Israel at the United Nations. Staff at the Prime Minister's Office believe that if Clinton is elected president, she could serve as a restraining influence regarding any such steps on Obama's part before he leaves office on January 20.
The highly harsh American response last week to reports of the advancement of construction plans in the area of the Shiloh settlement for residents slated for evacuation from the illegal outpost of Amona increased concern at the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry over steps Obama could take at the United Nations. Highly pessimistic scenarios were voiced last week on the matter at a meeting of Foreign Ministry officials.
A senior ministry official noted that among the comments voiced was one stating that the harsh statements issued by the State Department and the White House against construction plans to accommodate residents relocated from Amona are an indication of a very negative attitude in the U.S. administration regarding Israeli policy in the territories. This, it was added, was liable to lead the United States to take steps at the UN Security Council after the November 8 election.
In the course of his telephone conversation with Kerry, Netanyahu sought to cool tempers with the Obama administration regarding Amona. Netanyahu told Kerry that the advancement of construction plans don't constitute the establishment of a new settlement, as the administration is claiming and instead is designed to provide approval for substitute housing for Amona's residents in the event that no other solution for them is found. At this stage, officials in the U.S. administration are not accepting Netanyahu's explanations and are insisting that from their standpoint, the construction plan that has been advanced is not the establishment of a new settlement, which would constitute a violation of prior commitments that Netanyahu gave to Obama in 2009.
On Friday, the UN Security Council will meet in special session to consider Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. No resolutions will be voted on at the session, but it is expected to be open to the media and to become a display of international condemnation of the Israeli government's policies in the territories.
About two weeks ago in his speech to the UN General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians would renew their efforts to pass a Security Council resolution condemning the settlements and was deem them illegal.
Last week Arab ambassadors at the United Nations held a meeting considering the possible provisions of such a resolution. Nevertheless, at this stage, there is still no draft acceptable to all of the Arab countries.
Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats have expressed the view that the Palestinians do not intend to seriously promote a Security Council resolution on the settlements until after the November 8 elections in the United States. The intensive Palestinian efforts at the Security Council on the settlements, they say, is designed to prepare the ground for a resolution on the subject after the U.S. elections.
Mossad operations are often based as much on personal vendettas, petty jealousies, and professional slights as they are on sound judgment, and Israel’s intelligence agency has a long history of kidnapping and assassinating its enemies on foreign soil.
SEATTLE — (Analysis) Omar Nayef Zayed signed his death warrant in an Israeli courtroom in 1986. That’s when he and two young Palestinian accomplices pleaded guilty to the murder of Eliyahu Amedi.
“We Don’t Regret It” Maariv headline about sentencing of Omar Zayid to life in prison for the murder of Eliyahu Amedi.
During a period when Israeli Orthodox schools, known as yeshivot in Hebrew, were moving into East Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter and provoking violence against Palestinian residents, Zayed plotted an attack against them in retaliation. He organized a cell which traveled from their home in the West Bank village of Jenin, to the city. When they came upon Amedi, a yeshivot student, they stabbed him multiple times and killed him. They were apprehended a few hours later near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Speaking for himself and his two young Palestinian accomplices at a trial lasting all of five minutes, Zayed said:
“We don’t regret, nor do I apologize for killing him [Amedi]. This was done in the context of the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.”
From that day forward, Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, vowed to exact vengeance for the murder of Amedi. One agent, Yossi Cohen, took a particular interest in the case, and he waited 25 years for his revenge against Zayed.
That revenge came on the morning on Feb. 26, when Zayed’s blood-soaked body was found in the garden of the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Where the story began
In 1986, the yeshivot of East Jerusalem were just beginning their encroachment on the native Palestinian population. Over the intervening 30 years, this process of ethnic cleansing has proceeded apace with wholesale expulsions of Palestinian families from homes they’d occupied for decades, if not generations. But in 1986, this process was in its infancy. Israel uses multiple methods to expel East Jerusalem Palestinians including revoking residency permits, fraudulent assertion of title to homes occupied by Palestinians, and denying building permits only to Palestinians seeking to build homes.
Watch “The Empire Files: How Palestine Became Colonized:” https://youtu.be/BT5L4YU_Fl4
To protest the yeshivot infiltrating what had been Palestinian neighborhoods, Omar Nayef Zayed and two other young Palestinians affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) from Jenin decided to take their revenge. They traveled to East Jerusalem, where they hoped to make their names as heroes for the popular resistance. There, they found Eliyahu Amedi, a young student from one of the most violent and militant yeshivot. They attacked him, stabbing him 14 times.
Just after the murder, Teddy Kollek, then-mayor of Jerusalem, made clear what motivated the killers:
“The feeling of being encroached upon that the Arabs have by this permanent advance, mainly through the yeshivot, is creating part of the tension. … I am not talking about rights. We (Jews) have the right to the entire city, and we have the right to our country. I’m speaking about the wisdom of certain actions.”
A spokeswoman for the mayor later clarified: “The private Jewish families get along fine with the Arab community. … It’s the yeshivot that are creating the problems, not the families.”
On Nov. 19, 1986, Jonathan Broder reported for the Chicago Tribune:
“Over the last seven years, half a dozen yeshivot and 200 private Jewish families have quietly moved into the Moslem Quarter, living among its 17,000 Arabs in buildings that they say were owned by Jews before the 1948-1967 period of Jordanian rule. …
One Hassidic seminary in particular, the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva, has developed a reputation among Arab residents and municipal authorities as a fountainhead of friction. Made up of 70 born-again Orthodox Jews, many of them former criminals, the yeshiva has repeatedly been at the center of violent brawls between students and Arabs since it opened in 1982.
During one disturbance in 1983, Shuvu Banim students hurled heavy boulders on Arabs living in the houses and courtyards below, killing an elderly Moslem woman.
Since then, Arab neighbors charge, yeshiva students have tried to force them to sell their houses, harassing the Moslems incessantly in an effort to make them leave.
Amedi was a student at Shuvu Banim.”
Yossi Cohen is an Orthodox Jew who was educated in the same sort of yeshiva attended by Amedi. The former’s school, Yeshivat Or Etzion, was founded by Rabbi Haim Druckman, one of the earliest and most extreme of the settler rabbis. The horror a former yeshiva student would feel at the brutal murder of a fellow student should not be discounted as potential motivator for killing Zayed.
Israel captured the three suspects a few hours after the killing and brought them to trial. After they confessed, they were sentenced to life in prison. Two of them were released with the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 after serving over a quarter-century in jail.
But Omar Nayef Zayed wasn’t one of them.
From an Israeli prison to his own business in Bulgaria
By 2011, Zayed had already been out of the Israeli prison system for nearly two decades.
Amid a 40-day hunger strike in 1990, Zayed was transferred to a Bethlehem hospital when his health began to deteriorate. He was able to escape the hospital ward and eventually fled to neighboring Arab countries, where he lived for four years. In 1994, he arrived in Bulgaria, where he renounced any involvement in Palestinian politics or resistance. He opened a small Middle Eastern grocery in Sofia, became a leader in the local Palestinian community, and married a Bulgarian woman with whom he had three children.
But those who know the Mossad’s reputation, understand that its memory is long and its ways of exacting retribution many. That’s where Yossi Cohen enters the picture. According to his Hebrew Wikipedia article and Tamer al-Meshal, an Al-Jazeera correspondent who is planning a segment on Zayed’s murder to air in November, Cohen was responsible for Mossad’s European theater of operations in the 1990s. As such, Cohen took a personal interest in a Palestinian terrorist who escaped punishment and found safe haven within his bailiwick.
Cohen had to wait until 2016 to exact retribution. In August 2015, he became Mossad chief designate (he assumed office the following January). By December, Bulgarian officials had informed Zayed that Israel had filed a request for his extradition. That’s when Zayed disappeared. On Jan. 6, Cohen became head of the Mossad. The week before, Zayed sought refuge at the Palestinian embassy in Sofia. The ambassador was not a willing host and demanded that he leave, which Zayed refused to do.
Palestinian activists began an international campaign seeking to protect Zayed from both Israeli retribution and Palestinian betrayal.
Bulgarian-Israeli-Palestinian collusion in Zayed’s death?
The Palestinian Embassy in Bulgaria
In February, just ahead of Zayed’s death, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov traveled to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. They discussed Zayed’s case, and Borisov reiterated his determination to respect international law in the matter (i.e., to respect the territorial sovereignty of the Palestinian embassy). On Feb. 26, Ynet reported that Borisov said that both Palestinian and Israeli authorities brought up the topic of Zayed’s extradition in meetings. The outlet also quoted him as telling reporters:
“I told both sides that Bulgaria respects the rule of law and will follow the legal procedures in the case.”
What the public statement likely concealed was a side deal between the two parties: Bulgaria would uphold international law publicly, while privately giving a green light to Israel to either kidnap Zayed and return him to Israel or assassinate him.
It is hard to imagine that any nation’s political leader would even tacitly permit a foreign country’s intelligence service to assassinate someone on its own territory. But then again, it’s not that difficult when you consider Bulgaria is one of the most corrupt states in Europeand that virtually anything and anyone there is for sale.
In the course of running a country, though, what might be called corruption in a private setting is called trade policy on the public stage. It’s likely no coincidence that Israel offered trade and energy goodies too good for a poor country like Bulgaria to pass up following the meetings of the heads of state.
This offer could have been made in exchange Bulgaria agreeing to allow Israeli forces to “handle” Zayed on Bulgarian soil. Of course, it’s possible that Bulgaria agreed only to Zayed’s kidnapping and return to Israel to face punishment for his earlier crime.
What happened in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia on the night of Feb. 26 in the hours leading up to the murder is not totally clear.
On March 1, Megan Hanna reported for MintPress News:
“Zayed’s brother, Ahmad, spoke to al-Quds news channel, and claimed that nothing was amiss when he spoke to Zayed on the phone Thursday evening. However, early Friday morning he was notified by the embassy of his brother’s death.”
And if it was, indeed, a murder, as so many allege and as the circumstances surrounding his death suggest, how did the murderers succeed in getting into the embassy? Why was there no security presence? There are enough questions to raise suspicion of potential collusion between the Mossad, Bulgarian security services, and Palestinian embassy personnel.
The Mossad’s long history of kidnapping and assassination abroad
This is how Dirar Abu Sisi, a civil engineer from Gaza, was kidnapped by a Mossad operative in Ukraine in 2011 with the cooperation of senior members of that country’s intelligence services (a story I was the first journalist to report). The Mossad had been falsely informed by Hamas disinformation that Abu Sisi played a key role in kidnapping and hiding Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured in a cross-border raid by Gaza militants and held captive for five years. Despite the fact that Abu Sisi had fled Gaza to Ukraine in 2011 and sought asylum there, the Mossad orchestrated a complex scheme which brought him back to Israel.
Once Abu Sisi was in Israel, it became clear that he knew nothing about Shalit. So the security apparatus invented a conspiracy in which Abu Sisi was Hamas’ chief rocket engineer (this supposedly explained why the agency went to such trouble to kidnap him). After four years in which he was severely mistreated and refused to negotiate a plea deal, he finally agreed to a plea in which he would serve 20 years in prison.
In the months following his extraordinary rendition, Mykola Azarov, then-prime minister of Ukraine, traveled to Israel, which showered trade and tourism deals upon him in return for the state’s collaboration in the capture of the Palestinian engineer (though the quid pro quo was never explicitly mentioned).
Bulgarian authorities immediately determined that Omar Nayef Zayed died as a result of violence. He was also reportedly drugged, and had apparently fallen several stories from a balcony. Al-Jazeera’s Tamer al-Meshal said that Zayed survived the fall. If that is true, his attackers appear to have finished him off and fled.
Bulgarian authorities immediately opened an investigation into the incident. But nothing has come of it to date, and Bulgarian police and other authorities related to the investigation have rarely mentioned the case. Without Bulgarian pressure, there’s no reason for Israel say anything about the attack–even to deny accusations that it was involved.
However, Israel did issue a statement after the incident. Israeli state radio reported:
“Israel isn’t responding to the Palestinian claim that the Mossad killed the wanted man from the Popular Front who gained refuge in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia. … However, a security source told Kol Yisrael it has no interest in targeting an old terrorist especially if it involves a great outlay of resources or endangering [agents]. He also noted that the first impression was that the killing wasn’t even very professionally executed.”
The inference drawn from this is that Zayed’s killing did not involve “a great outlay of resources or endangering” of agents.
And, as Joe Catron, a MintPress contributor who also works with Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, told Megan Hanna:
“Israeli media have been the first to report explicitly that Omar was ‘assassinated.’ This comes as no surprise. They’re simply the most knowledgeable and honest about the workings of their government and its intelligence agencies.”
Israel’s Channel 1 military correspondent said: “Justice was done, even if late.” Israel HaYom’s blaring headline on Feb. 28 called it “a mysterious assassination,” rather than “murder.” Writing in Maariv, veteran security correspondent Yossi Melman all but said it was a Mossad killing. He noted that “the account was closed after thirty years.” This media consistency indicates that Israeli security sources wanted it known that they’d eliminated Zayed, even if they didn’t wish to take credit explicitly.
This is reminiscent of the assassination of Hamas weapons dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010. Twenty-seven Mossad agents conspired to track, target and eliminate al-Mabhouh by drugging him in his hotel room with a chemical that caused symptoms which mimic a heart attack.
Similarly, in Amman in 1997, two Mossad assassins injected Khaled Meshaal with a poison which nearly killed him. Only the apprehension of the two agents by Jordanian police forced then-Prime Minister Netanyahu to offer Jordan’s king an antidote which saved Meshaal’s life.
Al-Jazeera’s Tamer al-Meshal told me that Zayed’s killers also used drugs to incapacitate him. It’s no secret that Israel has one of the most advanced chemical and biological weapons programs in the Middle East, if not the world, based at its Israel Institute for Biological Research.
‘Ask Assaf Yariv what happened to Zayed’
When an Israeli security source agreed speak to me about the case, he refused to comment directly. But he did add a telling statement, joking: “Ask Assaf Yariv what happened to Zayed.” Yariv is a senior official in the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency. In fact, he was one of two finalists for the job of chief of the domestic intelligence agency. Two weeks before Zayed’s death in Sofia, I reported on my blog:
“According to a confidential Israeli security source he is Assaf Yariv, who was the agency’s regional chief in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since then he has been ‘lent’ to the Mossad for [unspecified] counter-terrorism missions.”
This is significant because the Shin Bet is responsible for all operations against Palestinian militants based in Gaza and the West Bank. So, the agency had played a key role in apprehending the terror cell responsible for the 1986 murder that Zayed and two others confessed to.
When Zayed fled to Europe, he became the responsibility of the Mossad. However, in order to track him down and bring him to justice, the latter required the expertise and intelligence capabilities of the Shin Bet. This is likely one of the main reasons Yariv was lent to the Mossad.
Mossad assassinations in European capitals
While the Khaled Meshaal and Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killings happened in Middle Eastern capitals, the Mossad has a long tradition of assassination in Europe, as well.
In June 1992, Atef Bseiso, PLO intelligence chief, arranged to meet with his French counterparts to consult about the threat to European nations by the most prominent violent Palestinian terrorist, Abu Nidal.
On his first night in Paris, he dined with two colleagues before heading to his hotel. As he emerged from his car, he was attacked by a man and woman. Bseiso’s bodyguards interceded and wounded one of the assailants, but the Mossad assassins murdered both Bseiso and one of his guards.
Israel never took public credit for the killing. But French authorities and others were certain the Mossad was responsible. For a time, it disrupted cooperation between France and Israel. France’s intelligence chief was furious Israel would engage in such an egregious breach of territorial sovereignty. Writing for the Independent in February 2010, Donald Macintyre reported:
“Interestingly, as many – including Yasser Arafat – jumped to the correct conclusion that Mossad was responsible for Bseiso’s killing, the suggestion was denied as ‘totally ridiculous’ by the office of the then prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, who had approved the operation. This did not convince the newly appointed head of French internal security, who, at a ‘courtesy’ meeting with Shavit a few months later, pounded the table as he told the Mossad chief: ‘We know you killed Bseiso. We’re still working on the proof. When it comes through, you’ll get what’s coming to you. In no way am I willing to allow you to turn Paris into your stage for acts of war and assassinations. We’re not going back to the early Seventies, when you did whatever the hell you wanted. I will not allow it to happen.’”
Israel intimated that Bseiso had been involved in the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympics, as if to justify its killing. But such claims were never supported with proof or verified. It’s more likely that the Mossad wished to disrupt PLO intelligence operations, as Bseiso’s two predecessors in the job had also been murdered.
Further, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was facing a national election shortly after the assassination. There are two ways Israeli political leaders burnish their reputations in the lead-up to elections: wars and assassinations of terrorists. The killing of Bseiso appeared to be politically useful to Shamir; the Israeli leader himself had ordered and participated in numerous assassinations as a member of the Israeli right-wing underground, most notably that of U.N. peace mediator Count Folke von Bernadotte in 1947.
Mossad: Creatures of habit
Though it has a reputation for brutality and vengeance that is renowned in the world, the Mossad is very much a creature of habit. The agency conducts its various operations in similar ways, using similar methods. Even if an operation is less than successful, the killers are often found repeating the same basic modus operandi.
The Mossad of 2016 which numerous sources allege–either implicitly or explicitly–killed Omar Nayef Zayed hasn’t changed much in its broad outlines from the Mossad of 1992 which killed Bseiso. It is this lack of innovative thinking and unwillingness to challenge accepted wisdom which led to some of its most spectacular failures, like the assassinations of Khaled Meshaal and Ma
hmoud al-Mabhouh, as well as an innocentMoroccan waiter murdered in Lillehammer, Norway.
Before Jonathan Pollard was exposed and convicted as an Israeli spy, that country’s leaders swore they would never spy on an ally. They swore the same after he was caught. Yet Israel continues the same spy game it has always pursued here. After assassinations, when Mossad operatives are exposed and it comes out that they used forged or cloned foreign passports, the agency swears it will never again engage in such behavior. But it does. After such operations, Mossad station chiefs are expelled and the agency promises it will not do such things again. And then it does. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose.
Further, Mossad operations are often based as much on personal vendettas, petty jealousies, and professional slights as they are on sound judgment. There doesn’t appear to be any reason Omar Nayef Zayed was murdered except to add another a notch in Yossi Cohen’s belt. Zayed was no longer operational. He was no longer a Palestinian militant. He was a man who’d settled into an ordinary life in a European backwater. What was the point of murdering him and leaving three children fatherless? These are the sorts of decisions made by an agency fueled by hubris rather than sober reasoning.
Initiative to walk out on addresses from Arab MKs arises after they refused to attend the funeral of former president Shimon Peres.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he plans to support the coalition initiative to boycott the MKs of the Joint List of Arab parties when the Knesset reconvenes at the end of this month.
The move, initiated by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is aimed at protesting the decision by the faction’s MKs to stay away from the funeral of former President Shimon Peres. Members of the coalition are expected to leave the plenum during addresses by Joint List MKs, and may even work to delay debates, agenda items, and parliamentary queries that the party’s MKs initiate.
“Members of the Joint List have proven that there’s no point anymore in discussing anything or even arguing with them, and that we must decide to boycott all their appearances and addresses in the Knesset,” Lieberman said. Lieberman asked MK Oded Forer of his Yisrael Beiteinu party to approach Zionist Union and Yesh Atid in an effort to persuade them to join the move.
Coalition chairman MK David Bitan confirmed that Netanyahu supports the boycott and made it clear that he would convene the coalition executive when the winter session opens to pass a resolution about sanctions against members of the Joint List.
“The behavior of the Arab MKs, which expresses itself also in their absence from Shimon Peres’ funeral, proves repeatedly that it isn’t motivated by a true concern for Israel’s Arab population or for coexistence but that they work toward separatism, incitement, and polarization,” Bitan said.
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh attacked Lieberman in response, calling the initiative, “A new record of depravity. He, whose entire political legacy is built on hatred and polarization, is trying to teach us how to build bridges. As we know, however, Lieberman’s initiatives to undermine the political representation of Arab citizens boomerang on him and only strengthen us, so that his intimidation only strengthens the Joint List. We will continue to work in all arenas, including the parliamentary arena, to advance peace and equality.”
There have been several boycotts at the Knesset in recent years. Many female lawmakers staged walkouts during speeches by Likud MK Oren Hazan over reports that he had dealings with prostitutes, and leftist MKs used to leave the plenum when far-right MK Michael Ben-Ari spoke. Joint List members often boycotted Netanyahu's speeches, as well.
Zionist Union co-chair Tzipi Livni responded unfavorably to the iniative, saying that "The boycott of the Joint List won't save us from or prevent the next terror attack. Instead of stopped the deterioration and preventing the next year from become a year of terror, as we experienced last year, Netanyahu, led by Bennett and Lieberman, is playing at petty politics.
"This is a lost government without a path, without vision, that doesn't know how to provide security," she concluded.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.746737
A reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.”
Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.
Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachmentof Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.
Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to acollaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.
However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.
Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about “When Genocide is Permissible” in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.
An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.
Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April,a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.
The soldier, Elor Azaria, was charged with manslaughter for the killing, which occurred deep within Palestinian sovereign territory in the city of Hebron. Hebron contains an illegal Jewish settlement, but despite its illegality is protected by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) all the same. This has led to frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.
The Tel-Aviv rally was attended by an estimated 2,000 people and several Israeli pop icons entertained attendees including singer Maor Edri, Moshik Afia, and Amos Elgali, along with rapper Subliminal. Chants of “Elor [the soldier] is a hero” and calls to release the soldier were common. One woman was photographedholding a sign reading “Kill them all.”
A Jewish reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.” Despite the obvious animosity and incitement made evident at the rally, it isn’t difficult to imagine what the response would have been if this has been a pro-Palestinian rally calling for the deaths of Jews. The stark divide between what is permissible for Palestinians and what is permissible for Israelis should concern us all as the widespread bias of social media, the press, and many governments threaten to blind us from the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli practices and policies are a combination of apartheid, military occupation, and colonization. This regime is not limited to the Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but it also targets Palestinians residing on the Israeli side of the 1949 Armistice Line, as well as those living in forced exile. Indeed, Israel’s treatment of non-Jewish Palestinians throughout Israel, the oPt, and the Diaspora constitutes a comprehensive discriminatory regime aimed at controlling the maximum amount of land with the least number of indigenous Palestinians.
Many Palestinian human rights organizations, however, limit their mandate either to the occupied Palestinian territory or to Israel only, thus conforming to Israeli-imposed legal categories, which aim to geographically isolate these areas from each other. Some organizations circumscribe their scope of intervention even more narrowly – for example, only to the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip, to Area C within the West Bank, or to East Jerusalem. When they restrict their mandate in such a way, human rights groups in the oPt are actually confirming the notion that the problem they are trying to combat is confined only to areas occupied in 1967. In fact, for organizations that limit their operations to those territories only, the implicit starting point could even be considered the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, which consolidated the movement restrictions between Gaza and the West Bank.
Yet the realities that we all deal with did not begin in 1993 nor in 1967. They began with the emergence of Zionist colonization of Palestine – the starting point of the Palestine ‘question’ – and should be recognized as such in seeking a solution. No organization will find or even come close to finding a solution if they believe or pretend to believe otherwise.
The practice of geopolitically dividing the Palestinians started in 1948. Israel needed first to cut off existing relationships and ties among Palestinians and did so through the Nakba, which tore apart the social fabric of Palestinian society. All Palestinians, including those who managed to remain in the territory that became the state of Israel, had a sister, a cousin, a brother-in-law, an uncle, or a neighbor who was forcibly displaced or lost their house, farmland, or property. After cutting off those relationships between people and communities, Israel maintained the geographical scattering of Palestinians by prohibiting them from returning to their homes and inhibiting social ties with Palestinians in so-called “enemy states” – Arab states to which the majority of Palestinian refugees were forced to flee. Slowly throughout the decades, those social ties were lost, and the geographical isolation facilitated the creation of political divisions.
Terminology is another key factor in the classic colonial strategy of “divide and conquer,” producing further political divisions that build on the physical fragmentation. But what is most concerning is that, too often, we find ourselves using the terminology generated by Israel itself because, simply speaking, Israel is dominating the discourse. For example, Israel treats the Druze as a distinct nationality from Arabs, and Palestinian NGOs inside Israel that operate according to these parameters deal exclusively with “Druze villages” and “Druze municipalities.” This is so because Israel applies different legal frameworks, budgets, and ministerial departments to these communities, and thus has pushed Palestinians to adopt a corresponding approach.
In addition, the Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab are placed in a separate administrative category, which was deliberately employed by Israel to misleadingly divide them from other Palestinians. Unfortunately, we find Palestinians themselves using the term ‘Bedouins’ as a separate classification as well. Yet the displacement of the Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab is clearly connected to the forcible displacement across and beyond Mandate Palestine, including the millions of Palestinian refugees currently living in forced exile and who are barred from coming back to their homes and places of origin.
Given this context, human rights work should not be arbitrarily limited by juridical borders. What is needed is to use the understanding of the ongoing Palestinian Nakba as a lens for developing a holistic approach that crosses such boundaries and recognizes a struggle that covers all of Mandate Palestine and includes all Palestinians. Such an understanding that frames, guides and unifies the language of our analysis is vital to our work in dealing with the Palestinian quest for freedom, liberation and human rights.
As human rights activists and organizations, we must be more careful in the way we articulate reality through the terminology we use. If Palestinian civil society seeks to struggle against the process of forcible displacement, we should not stratify our people, but rather use language to build a common struggle against a colonial project that aims to erase the presence of the indigenous Palestinian community. We should not, even indirectly, support this kind of destruction of the Palestinian people while accepting the division made by the colonial power. We have to control our own discourse, to challenge the Israeli narrative’s local and international dominance.
The key, therefore, is for human rights organizations to always emphasize the two dimensions of time and space. With regards to ‘time,’ it must be asserted that the situation today is directly connected to, and a continuation of, what happened in 1948 or even prior to that. And with regards to ‘space,’ it must be recognized that what is happening today in Bethlehem, Jenin, Gaza and Jerusalem is also happening in Haifa, Jaffa, Iqrith and the Naqab.
This post originally appeared on the website The Nakba Files, a joint project of Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia University.