Monthly Archives: March 2010

Who Called Stupak “Baby-Killer?” (Updated)

Update: TPM has Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas as the admitted “baby-killer” screamer. Neugebauer is the co-sponsor of a Birther bill and probably the new hero of the Tea Party crowd, even though many or most of their local chapters had until now tried to paper over social issues like abortion and gay marriage. I guess the Christian right isn’t dead after all, it’s just been hiding.

Republican Rep. John Campbell just confirmed to the Washington Post that a fellow Republican called Rep. Bart Stupak, the anti-abortion Democrat who voted for healthcare reform, a “baby killer.” He declined to say who. Campbell’s Republican colleague, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, said the shout came from an area where the Texas and California delegations usually sit. Rep. George Radanovich, a fiercely anti-abortion Republican from California’s Central Valley who plans on retiring in 2010, is rumored to be the culprit. An entry on Radanovich’s Wikipedia page that identified him as the screamer was just scrubbed but Gawker has a screen capture.

Whether or not the identity of “Baby-Killer” is confirmed, the incident highlights the distinctive similarity between Republican members of Congress and the teabagger rabble who surrounded the Capitol yesterday, screaming racist and homophobic epithets at John Lewis and Barney Frank.

The fact that Stupak is being targeted now after the anti-abortion movement upheld him as its darling is remarkable. He is being described in terms previously reserved for George Tiller. On Sunday afternoon, Red State’s Erick Erickson apparently initiated the right’s assault on Stupak, or at least took the Republicans’ sudden resentment of Stupak to a new level. The comments section of Erickson’s initial post on Stupak yesterday filled up with attacks call him a “baby killer.” Then the smears by right-wing blog trolls spread to the House floor.

I have tried comparing the shout of “baby-killer” that is audible in the video below the fold at :06 with the voice of Radanovich delivering a speech denouncing healthcare reform. It is impossible to tell if it was him.

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US Cable Channel Incites Religious War in Israel-Palestine w/Endorsement by George Costanza and Sponsorship from JDate

For the past three days the Israeli Army has sealed off parts of the Old City to prevent radical Jewish settlers from breaking into the Al-Aqsa Mosque to act out their messianic fantasies. The settlers intend to “redeem” the Temple Mount and construct the Third Temple, inciting a religious war in the process.

Incidentally, spent an hour tonight watching Talkline with Zev Brenner on Jewish Life TV, or JLTV. It is channel 120 on New York City’s Time Warner. This show is created by fanatical settlers for the national religious camp’s supporters in the US. It features a guest roster of far-right figures, including a few I’ve seen around Jerusalem and the West Bank. The show is devoted to promoting a Jewish takeover of Al-Aqsa to bring about the “Third Temple” . A look at JLTV’s programming shows a non-stop parade of pro-settler TV. Arutz Sheva, the official news network of the settlement movement, is among the sponsors of a show called, “Tuesday Night Live.”

“We need to invest all of our efforts into the Temple Mount and rebuilding the Third Temple,” Zev Brenner proclaims during his show.

Another speaker appears beside Brenner and declares, “Israel is divided into two camps: the whiners and the heroes.” The heroes, he explains, are the people “who lace up their boots, put on their uniforms, and go out and fight for the Israeli Army…They don’t whine about the politicians, they go out and do what’s asked of them.”

He goes on: “God brings a war because he needs to bring the best out of us. When we shine a light, it’s brightest when we come together [in war].”

Jason Alexander promotes JLTV at the 2009 Friends of the IDF Fundraising Gala

The program goes straight into footage of the IDF tanks going into Gaza during the early 2009 assault. An IDF officer assures the “residents of the South” that he will protect them. Then soldiers are seen praying with tefilin before entering Gaza. Shimon Peres enters the prayer tent to pump up the soldiers and prays with them. The footage highlights the role religious fervor played in elevating the soldiers’ morale as they prepared to attack Gaza.

“The leader of Iran says he has two sons: Hezbollah and Hamas,” Peres declares. “Now he will have two crippled sons!” The soldiers break into song: “Am Yisrael Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!”

Footage of destroyed Palestinian homes and civilian buildings is shown. “Massive force was used immediately upon entry in order to protect the lives of the Israeli soldiers,” a narrator says. Then Israeli soldiers appear at leisure in Palestinian homes they have seized from their owners.

The role of religious Zionist soldiers from the settlements is highlighted throughout the segment. Tviki Bar-Chai, the father of soldier Dvir, recalled how his family was evacuated from the radical Jewish settlement Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005. He reveals his son’s intention to place an orange flag on the ruins of the former settlement after the Gazans were sufficiently pacified by the assault. “He wanted to make a statement that way, to say, we made a mistake [by evacuating Gush Katif],” the father says of his son’s plan.

A cellphone video is shown depicting dozens of Israeli soldiers just before entering the Gaza Strip. This video was given to Dvir Bar-Chai to cheer him up after being injured and hospitalized. The soldiers are seen dancing together and singing a religious Zionist song about getting revenge “just this once” against “the Philistines.”

Finally, Jason Alexander of TV’s Seinfeld appears in a plug for JLTV. JDate is identified as a main sponsor of Talkline with Zev Brenner.

Inside the Lawfare Project: Netanyahu’s Attack on Human Rights NGO’s Hits the States

As the anti-Goldstone, human rights-bashing Lawfare Project’s opening event on March 11 wrapped up, I asked its chairman, Columbia University Law School Dean David Schizer, for an interview. Schizer, who had just attacked the Goldstone Report from the podium, pointedly refused to speak to me and looked for the exit. As Schizer was leaving, he was politely confronted by Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke, who heads the school’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Law.

“Why didn’t you invite any speakers with an alternative perspective?” Franke asked Schizer.

His reply was curt. “We invited one or two but they couldn’t make it,” Schizer claimed before hurrying away.

Schizer was understandably nervous about his exposure. After all, he had just presided over a day-long conference during which Israeli human rights workers were labeled as traitors while Judge Richard Goldstone and human rights groups were compared to “anti-Semitic street gangs.” After several speakers had harshly condemned legal efforts against the construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Schizer appeared beside them to lend his credibility to their views.

Schizer attacks Goldstone

Held in the ornate NY County Lawyers Association meeting room in downtown Manhattan, where the walls were adorned with portraits of the pioneers of international jurisprudence, the Lawfare Project’s conference had the look of a non-partisan academic conference. However, the event was organized by a network of American Zionist groups and conservative operatives with apparent encouragement from the Israeli government.

As Scott Horton noticed at Harper’s, the Lawfare Project’s rollout event followed a remarkably similar conference in Jerusalem two weeks earlier. Both conferences followed legislation in the Knesset designed to force NGO’s to disclose their foreign donors so they can be more easily branded as a fifth column and to strangle human rights groups in Israel and occupied Palestine.

The presence of high-level Israeli officials like UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev at the Lawfare Project conference suggested that the Netanyahu administration was the hidden hand behind the event. If so, the Israeli government has deployed its American Jewish allies to take the fight across the Atlantic to groups like Human Rights Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Both groups were attacked at the event as anti-Israeli and anti-American.

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Netanyahu and Pastor Hagee’s Lovefest on Eve of Biden’s Arrival in Israel

(Videos recorded by Rachel Tabachnick; more videos coming shortly.)

Vice President Joe Biden was greeted in Jerusalem with the announcement that the Israeli Interior Ministry approved the construction of 1600 new homes in Occupied East Jerusalem contrary to U.S. wishes and complicating Biden’s mission to help jump start the peace process. But Biden should have known that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu intended to upset his plans by Netanyahu’s appearance with John Hagee.

The day after a series of talks between US Special Envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell and Netanyahu, and a day before Biden’s arrival, Netanyahu appeared onstage with Pastor John Hagee in Jerusalem. The occasion was Hagee’s Night To Honor Israel, an event the far-right Texas-based preacher arranged to tout his ministry’s millions in donations to Israeli organizations and to level bellicose rhetoric against Israel’s perceived enemies.

At the gathering, Hagee called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “the Hitler of the Middle East” and denounced the Goldstone Report as “character assassination by an unbiased and uninformed committee.”

Netanyahu welcomed the crowd of 1000 American evangelicals to Jerusalem, a city he described as “the undivided, eternal capitol of the Jewish people. Then, he told them, “I salute you! The Jewish people salute you!” He used the rest of his speech to call for “tough, biting sanctions” against Iran that “bite deep into its energy sector.”

Hagee and Netanyahu appear together on stage:

In the audience were top-level members of the Israeli government, from Ambassador Michael Oren to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Also present was Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of the illegal West Bank settlement of Efrat who gained notoriety for lobbying President Bill Clinton to pardon his friend, fugitive billionaire Marc Rich. Ayalon had stirred controversy days before when he refused to meet with a US congressional delegation brought to Israel by the progressive Jewish group J Street.

Part One of Hagee’s speech:

Part Two:

Pastor Hagee in Jerusalem 3/8/10 (Part II) from Max J Blumenthal on Vimeo.

Hagee’s ceremony featured a 15-minute film highlighting the recipients of donations from John Hagee Ministries that totaled $58 million since 2001. The recipients included Jewish settlements from the West Bank like Gush Etzion and Shomron, which was involved in promoting an “Obama Hilltop project” that promoted more settlement building and compared Obama to Pharoah. Hagee also announced funding for a pressure group run by the settlers evacuated from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005. During Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009, a group of Gush Katif residents lobbied the Israel government to allow them to resettle the Palestinian coastal region.

Who is Hagee funding in Israel?

Who Is Hagee Funding In Israel? from Max Blumenthal on Vimeo.

The most notable of Hagee’s funding recipients was an organization called Im Tirtzu. A student representative of this group appeared in the film to thank Hagee for “help[ing] us to ensure that students in Israel are on the right path, the path of Zionism, the love of Israel, the path of solidarity.” Another student called for “the second revolution in Israel.”

In February, Im Tirtzu funding a smear campaign against former Knesset member and New Israel Fund Director Naomi Chazan that included posters caricaturing her with a horn on her head. The group misleadingly accused the New Israel Fund of bankrolling 16 human rights organizations that contributed documentation to the Goldstone Report.

The smear campaign led to unsuccessful legislation in the Knesset designed to further cripple already marginalized Israeli human rights groups. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post fired Chazan as a columnist without explanation. Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha’aretz, called Im Tirtzu “a McCarthyite movement” for its attacks on Chazan.

Although CUFI attempted to distance itself from Im Tirtzu’s campaign, the organization’s appearance during CUFI’s Jerusalem ceremony suggested that Hagee would continue to provide it with funding well into the future.

Republican Senator John McCain repudiated the endorsement of Hagee during his 2008 presidential campaign after Hagee’s statements describing the Holocaust as a fulfillment of divine prophecy came to light. Hagee has also said that he believed the anti-Christ was “partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler.” However, none of Hagee’s comments have deterred Israeli government officials from embracing him or accepting his millions in annual charity.

During Hagee’s speech, he made no secret of his support for the illegal settlement enterprise that has been the source of difficulties between the US and Israel. “The settlements are not the problem,” he boomed from the podium. “The problem is the refusal of Arab leaders to respect the right of Jewish people to live anywhere in the Middle East.”

Hagee received a rousing ovation from the crowd and the Israeli government officials seated beside the podium when he proclaimed, “World leaders do not have the authority to tell Israel and the Jewish people what they can and cannot do in the city of Jerusalem. They don’t have the authority to tell them what they can and cannot build, who can and and cannot live there.”

The following day, on March 9, Vice President Joseph Biden arrived in Israel to meet with Netanyahu and officials from the Palestinian Authority. He told reporters after touching down that he saw “a moment of real opportunity.”

A complete list of Israeli organizations funded by John Hagee Ministries is below the fold: Continue reading

So Who Are The Nazis? Meet Atlas’s Thugs

In the days leading up to Israeli Apartheid Week‘s opening event at Columbia University, leading anti-Muslim blogger Pam Geller posted an image of an SS officer with the name of one of the event’s speakers, Ben White, emblazoned on his uniform. (The image recalled placards held by far-right settlers depicting Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform just days before he was assassinated.) Geller was among the crowd at the Columbia event, making sure to catch White’s eye as he walked to the podium to speak. He told me that she mouthed to him, “You’re a Nazi.” The day after the event, Geller posted another characteristically juvenile screed describing White as “Nazi boy.”

There is little reason to engage a figure like Geller on the merits of her deranged characterizations. And it would be unfair to ascribe crude views like hers to the established pro-Israel groups working to discredit Israeli Apartheid Week. Their tactics are slightly more sophisticated, even if they have also demonstrated a reluctance to engage White and other participants on the facts about Israel’s systematic dispossession of the Palestinians. (Canadian pro-Israel students have united around a vaguely pornographic counter-campaign called “Size Doesn’t Matter” that invokes insecurities about penis length and equates traveling to Israel with the pleasure of oral sex.)

Pam Geller: How I wish I could be there with the English Defense League

Pam Geller: "How I wish I could be there to stand with the English Defense League"

Geller’s attacks on White are worth discussing only in light of their irony. She is, after all, a fervent supporter of a British fascist group comprised of soccer hooligans and skinhead thugs who have delivered sig heil salutes en masse at their rallies while also displaying Israeli flags — a most bizarre melange. Geller’s endorsement of the shadowy fascist group, called the English Defense League, highlights the reorganization of the British far-right around an anti-Muslim, pro-Zionist platform designed to cultivate alliances with influential online fanatics like her.

On the same day Geller posted her smear of White, she promoted a rally in defense of the Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders by the English Defense League (EDL) (Wilders has called for a “head rag tax” on Muslim women who wear hijab).

“How I wish I could be there to stand with the English Defense League,” Geller pined.

The Pam Geller-approved EDL burns an anti-Nazi flag

The Pam Geller-approved EDL burns an anti-Nazi flag

So what happens at a typical EDL rally? According to a report by Wales Online, at an October 2009 rally in Swansea by the EDL’s Wales-based affiliate, the Welsh Defense League, “onlookers were confronted with scenes of jeering men giving Nazi salutes.” At another rally in Stoke on Trent in January, intoxicated EDL activists in black masks attempted to break through police lines to assault anti-racist protesters around the block, injuring several police officers in the process.

Who belongs to the EDL? The group’s muscle is provided by thugs affiliated with the right-wing football hooligan club, Casuals United. The Casuals are led by an infamous thug who goes by the name “Tommy Robinson” and who will only appear in public in a balaclava. The Casuals are themselves a front for the another violent football hooligan gang called Soul Crew. Soul Crew’s former leader, Jeff Marsh, is now the head of the Welsh Defense League and a recruiter for the Casuals.

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