Technical reasons prompt judge to cancel indictments against five minors from wedding in which settlers waved guns, stabbed images of Palestinian toddler
A juvenile court in Jerusalem threw out the indictments against a group of Jewish minors who participated in a radical settlers' wedding that made headlines two years ago after a video of participants waving guns and stabbing images of Palestinians were published.
The video of the so-called "wedding of hate" shows traditional Jewish dancing, but with masked guests with earlocks and yarmulkes brandishing guns and knives. One masked youth is holding what appears to be a firebomb, and another man is seen stabbing a photo of Ali Dawabsheh, the Palestinian toddler who was killed along with his parents in the firebomb attack in the Palestinian village of Duma in July 2015.
A Jerusalem court judge on Monday ruled that technical issues with the charges against five minors who were at the wedding merit their indictments being thrown out. Among the issues with the charges: having the attorney general sign off on the indictment only after it was filed, and not before, as stipulated by the law.
Nonetheless, the judge noted that the charges could be refiled according to proper procedure, if law enforcement deemed it necessary.
The indictments were filed 10 months after the wedding video was first published. Prosecutors claim the images of the Dawabsheh, the Palestinian toddler, were prepared in advance. Overall, 13 people from the wedding were charged, including the groom and the five minors. The trial of eight of them was still ongoing.
The minors were accused of incitement to violence and incitement to terror. Their lawyers, from the right-wing organization Honenu, called on the state not to refile the charges.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.824020
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked thought she was being smart when she called for an investigation into a member of the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence. More fool her
For some reason, there are those who attribute a considerable amount of intelligence to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. There are even those who say she’s smart – but it’s not clear why.
It’s hard to find a lot of intelligence, wisdom or knowledge in the nonsense she spews out every time she pronounces about matters relating to the law, the separation of powers, the High Court of Justice, democracy, “majority rule” and a host of other important subjects.
As if to prove my point, along came the case concerning Dean Issacharoff, a spokesman for the anti-occupation veteran’s group Breaking the Silence.
Issacharoff spoke publicly about how, during his army service, he had brutally beaten a Palestinian detainee. When his remarks surfaced, soldiers from his unit immediately got together and vehemently denied his claim.
You can understand them. After all, each of them has a behind that needs covering, lest they too become suspects.
Then Justice Minister Shaked entered the picture and demanded an investigation so Issacharoff could be put on trial.
So the world could see how moral our army really is. So those Breaking the Silence people would learn that they too will be brought to account.
“Oy vay!” was no doubt the worried utterance echoing through the corridors of the State Prosecutor’s Office.
One can also assume that a number of people there went pale upon hearing such ministerial drivel.
That’s all they need: the civil trial of an occupying soldier who freely admits to abuse. A defendant who would doubtless take advantage of such a prominent legal platform to generate headlines with an account of routine military brutality.
Lawyers would enlist more and more witnesses to testify about how the authorities turned a blind eye. Public debate would confirm the countless reports – both Israeli and Palestinian – of daily beatings, serial humiliations and overt abuse. After all, one soldier had already confirmed Issacharoff’s account, and this would just be the beginning.
The situation that ensued became the height of absurdity: a suspect who openly confessed to his deeds, ready to stand trial, being pitted against law enforcement officials who were prepared to do everything in their power to foil his plans.
No one would have been surprised if the prosecution even considered arguing that Issacharoff’s confession was secured through torture and was therefore inadmissible.
Ultimately, a brilliant idea was born: Bring in Issacharoff’s supposed victim, who could say he hadn’t actually been beaten up that much – and if the scoundrel refused, he could be sent to skilled interrogators, who could beat him until he admitted he hadn’t been beaten.
In a flash, an appropriate Palestinian was found, who uttered just what was hoped for, even adding his own educated opinion about the reasonableness of the assault – as if he himself were actually a spokesman for the Justice Ministry’s police misconduct unit.
And then something truly historical happened: For the first time ever, the state prosecution gave credence to a Palestinian witness, favoring his account over that of an Israeli soldier.
Until now, the Israeli legal system has always taken the view that the confession is the “queen” of all evidence. Ninety percent of all convictions in the colonial courts have been based on such a queen. And then everything was overturned – a revolution! In Issacharoff’s honor, the queen was ejected from her royal throne and her scepter handed to one of the natives. Amazing. That never would have happened at Israel’s Ofer Military Court in the West Bank. They never would have agreed to create such a dangerous precedent.
But now, at last, we can breathe easy. There will be no trial. The silence has not been broken. The file on another abusive Israeli soldier has been closed, as per usual. And there’s even a bonus: the entire Breaking the Silence organization can be accused of lying.
Here is the story in a nutshell: The Justice Ministry threw a stone into a swamp. The sages at the State Prosecutor’s Office all rushed into the mud to retrieve it. They managed, just about, to calm the ripple of the waves a little. But it will take many years before they manage to cleanse themselves of all the mud that has stuck to them. From the morass of politicization, flattery, panic, cloying obedience and utter negligence.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.823939
Sparks flew at a panel I participated in at the Palestine Center’s annual conference in Washington on Friday.
In the video above, you can hear me speak about Israel’s human rights violations – ranging from daily abuses to ethnic cleansing to genocidal thinking and actions – as foundational to the Israeli state.
“Zionism is a system founded on the denial of the existence of the Palestinian people,” I told the audience. “Zionism is a system that always has and still does seek the destruction of the Palestinian people.”
I spoke, for example, about the declassified Israeli cabinet minutes from 1967 in which ministers discussed ways to expel Palestinians from recently occupied territories.
I argued that ending such human rights violations must mean ending the Zionist system and replacing it with guarantees of full, equal civil and political rights for everyone in historic Palestine.
“Liberation and return”
Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a professor at the University of Houston, spoke about the need for Palestinians to rebuild a representative national movement by revitalizing institutions that have become stagnant, thereby rebuilding an anti-colonial movement whose goal is “liberation and return,” not merely “building a state.”
The third speaker, Alon Ben-Meir, a senior fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, railed against what he had heard, lecturing Palestinians that they must abandon any form of resistance to Israel and appeal to a mythical Israeli center-left that is yearning for peace and a two-state solution.
Ben-Meir blamed Palestinians for their own persecution by Israel.
In the discussion period, I called Ben-Meir’s presentation “racist and patronizing,” and pointed out that Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel’s ostensibly center-left Labor Party, is an anti-Arab racist who recently called Israel’s West Bank colonies “the beautiful face of Zionism.”
It was a lively discussion that provided an opportunity to hear and debunk some of the most cherished myths and talking points of pro-Israel propagandists, including against the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights.
See the full program of the Palestine Center conference and watch the other panels on YouTube.
Zionism’s alliance with anti-Semitism
In my presentation I pointed out the continuity from the Balfour Declaration a century ago until today of the alliance between the Zionist movement and anti-Semites.
I recommended Columbia University professor Joseph’s Massad’s recent article for The Electronic Intifada on the Balfour Declaration and its roots in European Christian anti-Semitism.
This week, the Moderate Rebels podcast with Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton features an hour-long discussion with Massad. It’s a fascinating, in-depth conversation that expands on many themes in his article.
“For 300 years or so, Zionism was a Christian Protestant idea that the majority of Jewish leaders at the time, especially rabbis, had been opposed to and understood to be a call for the expulsion of Jews,” Massad explains. “So it took about 300 years before Jewish intellectuals would take it up in the 19th century, even if they remained a minority among Jews.”
Massad also provides rich background about the long history of Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites, which was not merely fleeting or deviant, but anchored in a shared worldview.
For Zionists, Massad explains, “there was no point in fighting anti-Semitism because the diagnosis of [Theodor] Herzl early on is that what causes anti-Semitism were Jews themselves, or the presence of Jews in gentile communities.”
As Massad states, Herzl, the founder of Zionism, “actually blamed Jews for causing anti-Semitism, rather than blaming the anti-Semites.”
Massad, whose latest book is Islam in Liberalism, also speaks about the similarities between European anti-Semitism and present-day Islamophobia.
“Many of the precepts and the axioms of 19th and early 20th century anti-Semitism continue, and as Edward Said had already shown in his 1978 book Orientalism, that just the object of hatred has shifted, even though that object looks almost the same as the previous one,” Massad states.
“Contemporary Islamophobia or hatred of Muslims is a continuation of anti-Semitism, which thought of Jews as transnational, cosmopolitan, rootless and therefore tribal and dangerous to the national configurations of Europe.”
Listen to the full discussion with Joseph Massad in the SoundCloud player above.
What can we expect from Roy Moore on foreign policy if he’s elected to be the next US senator from Alabama?
It won’t be good.
Moore, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is a bigot stirring misplaced fears about Sharia law in the US. He also opposes internationally recognized human rights.
On his campaign website for the December special election in Alabama, Moore asserts about foreign affairs: “We should not be subject to UN control and direction.” The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child would “only undermine our sovereignty as a nation, as does the very presence of the United Nations on our soil,” he argues.
His opposition to the UN-backed rights of the child is telling in light of the allegations he faces, including initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl.
Article 34 of the convention requires that its signatories “undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
Moore’s policy statement on foreign affairs also notes: “We must remember that Israel is the United States’ most important ally and partner in the Middle East and should reject agreements or policies that undermine Israel’s security. We should pass the Taylor Force Act and move the US embassy to Jerusalem.”
The Taylor Force Act is a bill promoted by Israel lobby groups to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for its alleged financial support to families of those Israel calls “terrorists.”
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump also took up the cause of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
As president, though, he has already signed one waiver delaying the move.
House Republicans strongly pushed a move earlier this month in a hearing before the subcommittee on national security.
Moore does say in his policy section on the US military that “We should not be entangled in foreign wars merely at the whim and caprice of a president.” That comes immediately after endorsement of bigotry in a statement asserting, “Homosexuality should be against military policy as was the law prior to Bill Clinton.”
Allies, both apoplectic and apocalyptic
In this expression of bigotry, he was backed at a recent press conference featuring right-wing extremists, including Noson Leiter, a rabbi who claims to be a campaigner against child molestation.
Leiter inveighed against what he termed “homosexualist gay terrorism” and argued Moore has a “proven record of facing off against the gay terrorists.” Leiter deplored “the agendas of sodomy and transgender insanity.”
Standing behind him, and leading in prayer passionate apologists for Roy Moore, was former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
Some may remember Keyes 15 years ago as a right-wing propagandist for Israel on MSNBC. Keyes downplayed Israeli war crimes in Jenin and lied repeatedly about the history of Israel’s military occupation.
Presiding over the press conference was Janet Porter, head of Faith2Action, who in 2010 became so enraged about what she regarded as the poor relationship between then US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she attempted to send Netanyahu thousands of flowers, each bouquet costing a symbolic $19.48.
She wrote at the time, “I never heard whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was at least offered table scraps from Obama’s table.” She then added, “No, those, I’m sure, went to the dog, who was treated far better than the leader of Israel.”
(Months before leaving office, Obama signed an agreement boosting US military aid to Israel to record levels.)
Also speaking at the event was Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, who in a petition on his website prays that leading US politicians “help protect Israel’s original borders as given by God to Moses and Joshua in the days of the Bible circa 1500 BC.”
In other words, he wants an Israel including not just the 78 percent of historic Palestine on which it was established in 1948, but all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Lebanon, as well as parts of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran – and some would say encompassing even a small portion of Turkey and Kuwait.
Klingenschmitt, not content with implicitly backing war in the Middle East, seems to think that sexual assault is all just a big joke and only Democrats are capable of it. He recently retweeted this fake Steve Bannon tweet:
Moore, prior to the allegations against him, put out a statement regarding his views on Israel. It was promoted by Alabama, Florida and Mississippi Daughters for Zion, a pro-Israel pressure group.
Unlike Klingenschmitt’s call for Biblical boundaries, Moore merely called for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Even there he was flawed, channeling the language of Southern segregationists opposed to “outside agitators” when he declared such negotiations should reject “the imposition of outside solutions upon Israel” and “allow Israel to control decisions about its borders and safety.”
Little does Moore appear to realize that one of the few things uniting most elected Republicans and Democrats is Israel. The US does not apply significant influence where Israel’s borders and self-declared national security concerns are involved.
Moore buys into the usual propaganda about the connections between Israel and the US. He writes: “The United States and Israel share not only a common Biblical heritage but also institutions of representative government and respect for religious freedom. Twenty per cent of Israeli citizens, for example, are Arab and have the right to vote and hold office.”
He says not a word about the dozens of laws discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and the separate and unequal reality confronting Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Unsurprisingly, Moore voices opposition to the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in his statement.
Moore – notorious for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, resulting in his removal from the bench in 2003 – has argued that the US should be a theocracy, with the Bible taking precedence over federal law. It’s no wonder that he identifies so strongly with Israel, a self-declared “Jewish state.”
Listening to his defenders’ press conference and reading Moore’s statement, it is logical to conclude that in many ways Moore would be more comfortable in the Alabama of the 1950s than the US confronting him in 2017 that largely finds his views and alleged actions unacceptable.
Whether the voters of Alabama reach similar conclusions remains to be seen.
US threatens to close Palestinians’ DC office amid renewed peace push
AP & Saphora Smith, Abigail Williams of NBC News 18 Nov — The State Department threatened Friday to close the Palestinians’ Washington office unless they enter into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel. The move could potentially give President Donald Trump more leverage as he seeks an elusive Mideast peace deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians have run afoul of a U.S. law that allows their mission to the U.S. to function, a State Department official confirmed to NBC News. A condition in the law which allows support funds to be granted to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, and for their Washington office to operate is that they do not request the International Criminal Court, or ICC, prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. Tillerson has judged that the Palestinians violated this provision due to “certain statements made by Palestinian leaders about the ICC,” the official said. A State Department official told The Associated Press that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas crossed the line in September by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas called for the ICC to “open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.” However, the same law leaves space for the U.S. president to maneuver — meaning the office wouldn’t have to close. If after 90 days, Trump determines that the Palestinians have entered into “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel,” then they can keep their office and all restrictions placed on the PLO in the U.S. will be waived, the State Department official told NBC News.”We are hopeful that this closure will be short-lived,” the official said.
Contacts with the Americans are only being conducted by lower level officials. A visit by U.S. Vice President Pence hasn't been called off
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered Tuesday to freeze contacts with the United States in response to the Trump administration’s threat to shut down the Palestinian mission. The Trump administration notified the Palestinian Authority that unless it enters serious peace negotiations with Israel, the U.S. could shut down the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Washington, D.C. within the next few months.
At this point, Abbas’ order appears to be more of a threat than a promise, but it is yet another sign of the mounting tension between the Palestinian Authority and the White House. The U.S. administration commented that talks with the Palestinians about their diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. are continuing.
Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Abbas who is accompanying him on an official visit to Madrid, said this will be a decisive period in relations between the United States and Palestinians. He said Abbas’ order is a direct response to recent measures by the United States. Despite the challenges involved, the Palestinians will remain faithful to their own national interests, he said.
Although Abbas’ instructions are being carried out by senior diplomats, day-to-day contacts and consultations with the Americans conducted by lower level officials will not cease, a senior Palestinian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is slated to visit Bethlehem in December. At this stage, the visit hasn’t been canceled.
While Abbas ordered a halt to contacts with the Trump administration, this does not mean that if senior American officials initiate a phone call with senior Palestinian officials they will refuse to accept the call, said the senior official.
“What is important for the Palestinians is to pass on the message and a clear position to the [U.S.] administration and not to cut of relations just to cut off relations. We also must not forget the balance of power in this case when we are talking about a superpower such as the United States,” he added.
That said, the Palestinians describe the Trump administration's hardline position as unprecedented and blamed them for creating a crisis of a magnitude that has not been seen in years.
"In meetings with President Trump, Abu Mazen [Abbas] received very reassuring messages. On the other hand, we are dealing with the type of move that casts doubt on the entire relationship. The question is how does the White House explains this gap between the messages of the president on the one hand and those of his administration on the other," another senior Palestinian official said, also on condition of anonymity.
The order allowing the PLO mission in Washington to remain open must be renewed every six months due the fact that the PLO is listed as a terror organization in the United States. According to the Palestinian official, the Palestinian Authority demands that the United States stop defining the PLO as a terror organization, and allow the offices to remain open without the need for the approval. “We need to bring this issue to an end once and for all because this is a decision that harms the entire Palestinian people,” he added.
The U.S. State Department could act to close the mission through the same 1994 law that led to its establishment, which states that the mission will be closed if the Palestinians act against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Voice of Palestine radio that the Trump administration was reconsidering its position on closing the Palestinian mission in Washington because of the Palestinian Authority's threats to freeze relations.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-n…/palestinians/1.824175