Monthly Archives: January 2011

Mike Huckabee speaks “very Zionistically” in Israeli Knesset, condemns Egyptian uprising

Avowed Christian Zionist Mike Huckabee is a natural ally of the Bibi-Barak-Lieberman government

Avowed Christian Zionist Mike Huckabee is a natural ally of the Bibi-Barak-Lieberman government

Mike Huckabee was in Jerusalem today on an important junket related to his likely presidential campaign. He used his speech before the Knesset to denounce the Egyptian uprising as a threat to all humankind, warning that “the situation could threaten the world and all those who seek peace and security. The real threat to Israelis is not the bomb but the people behind it, not weapons but the madmen behind them.”

Bibi has essentially muzzled his cabinet ministers, warning them not to make any public statements about the uprising. It is not easy for so-called “only democracy in the Middle East” to say that it wants to keep it that way. So Huckabee was left with a golden opportunity to channel the sentiments of the Israeli government and mainstream Israeli society in an address carried to the Israel public as a top story on radio and TV news (I listened to the speech on Israeli national radio today while riding a minibus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem).

Huckabee’s speech earned praise from Yisrael Beiteinu’s Yulia Shamalov-Berkowitz, who said Huckabee spoke “very Zionistically.” MK Tzipi Hotovely from the governing Likud party echoed Huckabee, declaring that ”the conflict in this region is not a matter of territory, but simply Islam against Judaism, not 1967 borders but the very formation of the state in 1948.”

The language of religious warfare is not exclusive to the Zionist right. MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer, a leader of the shrinking and essentially moribund Labor Party, warned that the Egyptian uprising signals the beginning of renewed conflict. “There will be a new order in the Middle East,” he said recently, noting that he has been in discussions with Mubarak. “It will become more extreme, militant and radical towards Israel from an Islamic point of view. The conclusion that we will draw is that we did not take advantage of the potential for agreements when the Middle East was more moderate.”

Given the statements of Bibi-Barak-Lieberman proxies and supporters like Huckabee, it is not hard to predict Israel’s behavior after Mubarak finally capitulates. The Israeli military-intelligence apparatus and its public relations ancillary are almost certainly crafting a tentative plan to destabilize their neighbor, or simply touching up a dusty, well-worn blueprint. They know that if Zionism is to persevere in the heart of the Middle East, and to continue to besiege and colonize Arabs — Huckabee also called for more settlement building in the West Bank — the political aspirations of Egypt’s people must be crushed, again and again.

Huckabee’s visit marks the opening of what would be the first element of any plan to destabilize Egypt: a rhetorical campaign carried out by sympathetic media and political figures (the American right-wing, heavily influenced by Christian Zionist theology, is a natural ally) to delegitimize whatever comes after Mubarak as a radical Islamist regime that not only threatens Israel, but the Western world as well.

Is the Palestinian Authority cracking down on Egypt solidarity demonstrations? (Updated, and yes they are)

Update: Human Rights Watch was there and has confirmed that the PA crushed the demo.

I received this message from a friend in Ramallah yesterday. For obvious reasons, he can’t be identified (I hope I’ll have time to follow up; right now I’m working on a number of fronts. The Angry Arab has another report from the suppressed demo:

“We, a group of Independent, liberal leaning Palestinian youth, organized a demonstration near the Egyptian embassy using social media tools such as Facebook, to our surprise one of the organizers was upheld unlawfully and threatened by the Police, Intelligence service and Preventive force on separate basis that if the event takes place he will be tortured and made to pay a heavy price. According to their conversations, they claimed that the order came directly from President Abbas office. We are under constant surveillance and harassment since saturday.

After forcing one of the members to cancel an event on Facebook sending a message to thousands of ‘confirmed attendees’, we still went near the Egyptian embassy today at 4:00 pm. During the protest the police violently assaulted several peaceful protesters and threatened the use of brutal force if anyone raised any slogans.

These and other actions relating to the arrest of Journalists, activists and not as the PA claims only from the Islamist ranks, but also includes activists in Liberal and other leftist youth groups. Palestinians who used to express their opinions freely despite measures of occupation are now under the tutelage of two occupations suffocating our political, economic and social rights.”

MK Dov Khenin: Video of cops beating Dahmash family, shouting “Go to Gaza,” exists and must prompt investigation

Following up on my reporting from the Abu Eid refugee camp in Lod, in which I referenced a video depicting police officers beating members of the Sha’aban family, who have resisted the demolition of their home in the nearby unrecognized village of Dahmash, the existence of the video has been confirmed. At a demonstration in Jaffa yesterday, MK Dov Khenin of Hadash told me he has seen the video and that it does indeed show members of the Lod police force beating the Sha’aban family and shouting “Go to Gaza!” He said he will demand that it be shown in the Knesset Interior Committee. Hopefully it will soon be available for public viewing as well.

“The days of ’48 have come again.” 15 minutes from Tel Aviv, Israel creates a new refugee camp

Inside the "Abu Eid Refugee Camp," 15 km from Tel Aviv (all photos by Guy Botebia)

Inside the "Abu Eid Refugee Camp," 15 km from Tel Aviv (photo by Guy Botebia)

On December 13, 17-year-old Hamza Abu Eid was taken out of class and summoned to the principal’s office. “The Israelis are destroying your house right now,” the principal told him. “It is best that you remain here. The last thing we want is for you to have a confrontation with a police officer.”

But Abu Eid rushed to his family’s house, hoping to salvage whatever belongings he could. When he arrived, bulldozers from the Israeli Lands Authority had destroyed virtually everything — all seven homes belonging to the Abu Eid family were reduced to rubble. A black masked officer from the Israeli yassam (the anti-riot police) prevented Hamza from entering to attempt to save his belongings. Three refrigerators and a TV set were among the appliances that Hamza’s family lost in the demolitions.

In the end, 74 people were left homeless, including 54 children, forced to sleep under the open sky during the coldest period of the year. No government social workers arrived with assistance, nor did the state offer any temporary aid. The families gathered whatever belongings they could, pitched tents like so many Palestinian refugees have done in the past, and placed a sign over their land plot that read, “Abu Eid Refugee Camp.”

Over 70 members of the Abu Eid family sleep in tents next to their destroyed homes.

Over 70 members of the Abu Eid family sleep in tents next their destroyed homes

Although the area now looks like the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza after Operation Cast Lead, it is located only 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv in the Abu Toq neighborhood of Lod. All of Lod’s Palestinian residents are citizens of Israel, however, they are treated by the state like foreigners, or worse, as a threat to the survival of Zionism.

For years, the Abu Eid family applied for permits to allow them to renovate their homes to accommodate their growing family. But the state zoned their neighborhood as agricultural land and refused their requests (for obvious reasons, applications for renovation and building permits are almost always denied to the Arabs inside Israel). Finally, the state ordered them to seek residency elsewhere because their homes were slated for demolition.

Directly beside the Abu Eid refugee camp, building has begun on a yeshiva that will be directed by an Orthodox rabbi from the United States named Yaakov Saban. And plans have been authorized to build a road directly through center of the neighborhood. Pressure of Palestinian Israelis of Lod to leave is intensifying as a result of the far-right takeover of the city’s municipality.

Widespread corruption led to the collapse of the elected municipality, enabling the Israeli Ministry of Interior to install an emergency government consisting of hand picked military officials. Because the ministry is controlled by Eli Yishai, the leader of the extreme right Shas Party (Yishai was singled out in the Goldstone Report for saying “we should bombard thousands of houses in Gaza”), the new municipality has taken the form of an openly racist cabal. “They are poor in culture, poor in behavior. No ambition,” the mayor of Ramle, a neighboring city, said of the Palestinians of Lod.

Riyadh Abu Eid stands by the rubble of his home

Riyadh Abu Eid stands by the rubble of his home

While as many as 30 demolition orders hover over the residents of Lod, and 42,000 such orders have been issued across Israel against Arab residents, Yishai has declared his intention to settle thousands of Orthodox Jews in the city. At the same time, Arabs in Lod claim they are forbidden from living in a giant new public housing complex built in the heart of the city.

I arrived at the Abu Eid refugee camp on January 25. At the end of Lod’s Helen Keller Boulevard, men sit around open fires sipping tea, while small children clamber in an out of tents erected beside piles of rubble, debris and shattered home appliances. A middle aged man named Riyah Abu Eid met me at the entrance and took me into the makeshift camp.

“This place was here before 1948,” he said. “They destroyed it because they said we had no permit. But we can’t get permits because we are ’48 Arabs. We asked many times and were denied every time. They say we are terrorists. But look around, this is the real terror. Throwing children into the street on the coldest day of the year — that is terror.”

According to Riyadh Abu Eid, many children from camp are unable to attend school because they are unable to concentrate. A nine year old girl who was especially traumatized has refused to leave her bed for days. Riyadh does not try to conceal his desperation. “We do not feel safe here,” he said. “We want to ask the United Nations and Obama for international protection from a fascist government that has proven capable of massacring the unarmed.” He added, “The days of 1948 have come again.”

The destruction leveled against the Palestinians of Lod highlights a growing trend in Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens. Increasingly, the state is replicating the brutal methods it applies in the West Bank against Palestinians across the so-called Green Line. “For years I’ve been trying to say, ‘Don’t think the Occupation will stop at the Green Line,’” Amiel Vardi, a Jewish Israeli activist who accompanied me to Lod, told me. “Now we see it’s not stopping. They’re using the same methods with the settlements, with the courts, and with the Shabak [Shin Bet] on both sides of the Green Line. Go to the Abu Eid camp or to Al Arakib and there’s absolutely no difference from what I see in the Hebron hills.”

In the unrecognized Palestinian-Israel village of Dahmash, located next to Lod, the family of Ali and Farida Sha’aban defended their home for two years from demolition. When I met them last July, the couple was camped in front, awaiting the bulldozer that could come at any time. “If there is a democracy in Israel, then why are we forbidden from living here?” Ali said to me. “You are from the USA?” he asked me. “Well, we are the Native Americans in this place.” Building plans by the Lod municipality will effectively close off all or most of the entrances to Dahmash; already a wall separates the village from a Jewish housing development next door.

Demonstrators marched to the Lod police station demanding the release of Farida and Ali Sha'aban

Demonstrators marched to the Lod police station demanding the release of Farida and Ali Sha'aban

On January 22, the Lod police violently arrested Ali, Farida, and five members of their family, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Their detention in the city jail was unknown until Monday, when they were finally allowed to see a lawyer. A judge extended their imprisonment until Thursday on the grounds of secret evidence the Sha’aban family’s lawyer was not allowed to view — a tactic familiar to Israel’s military courts in the West Bank. Video allegedly showing the police kicking the Sha’aban’s while shouting, “Go to Gaza!” was shown during the court hearing.

Activists placed stickers on police cars mocking Israel claim to be "Jewish and democratic." They read, "Yahudit V'Gezanit," or "Jewish and racist."

Activists placed stickers on police cars mocking Israel's claim to be "Jewish and democratic." They read, "Yahudit V'Gezanit," or "Jewish and racist."

Last night, a group of Jewish Israeli demonstrators, including many from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement, joined the Abu Eid family and Palestinian activists from Lod, including members of the renowned rap trio Dam (“I broke the law? No the law broke me,” is a lyric from their song “Born Here”), in a protest march to the Lod police station to demand the Sha’aban family’s release. The demonstration consolidated Lod as a new node in the growing solidarity movement inside Israel. On Friday, the Abu Eid’s will participate in the weekly Sheikh Jarrah demo, which was joined last week by residents of Al Arakib, and has been frequently attended by Farida and Ali from Dahmash.

Back in the Abu Eid camp, I spoke to Hamza Abu Eid, the 17 year old high school student, about what his life has been like since his home was destroyed. “I get distracted when I’m in class now,” he told me. “Sometimes when I think about the aggressive way the police treated the women — one of them kicked my brother’s pregnant wife — I get so angry I can’t focus.”

Hamza said his family plans to buy trailers to live in until the state delivers them “a solution.” He said, “For now, we have no solution. I expect that I will stay in this life and it will keep going on. The government has done nothing for me but destroy my house. As a citizen, I have no rights.”

He added, “I see a future full of darkness.”

Despite being homeless and traumatized, Hamza said he is excelling in school. He told me had just received 92 out of 100 on a chemistry exam, and that he has near-perfect marks in biology. When he finishes high school, Hamza plans to pursue a career in economics or medicine.

“I know there is a hope,” he said. “I just don’t know what it is.”

Palestinian Authority Goons Attack Al Jazeera Offices in Ramallah

How did the US and Israel-funded emergency PA government of Abbas/Abed Rabbo/Erekat respond to Al Jazeera’s release of the Palestine Papers? They released a goon squad to vandalize Al Jazeera’s Ramallah office and apparently to attack the person filming the video, too.

An afternoon in the Jerusalem studio of GOD TV, the Christian Zionist ethnic cleansing network (updated/corrected)

I chat with Klaas, a GOD TV producer, inside the network's Jerusalem studio

I chat with Klaas, a GOD TV producer, inside the network's Jerusalem studio

Update/correction: A miscommunication with Jill Kestler-D’Amours, who interviewed Samia Al-Touri in Arabic with me present, resulted in my misquoting Al-Touri. Because I thought Kestler-D’Amours was summarizing Al-Touri’s comments, I attributed them to him. In fact, she was speaking for herself in reference to his comments. So I have corrected the post and updated with Al-Touri’s remarks.

I spent a part of this afternoon in the green room of a Russian news bureau in Jerusalem. While waiting for my friend Joseph Dana to appear on Russia TV to discuss the Palestine Papers, I looked out the window at a panoramic view of Jerusalem. In the foreground was the Mamilla cemetery, once the home to the graves of prominent Palestinian families like the Khalidis, and now the desecrated future site of the Simon Wiesenthal Foudation’s ironically named “Center for Human Dignity,” which was approved by the Jerusalem municipality.

Now Joseph was on. “What the papers provide us with is the ultimate confirmation that Israel is not a viable partner for peace and does not support an equitable two state solution,” he said. “Israel is content with the status quo, which means a permanent state of war and the deadly reality of occupation it established in 1967.”

On our way out, I noticed that the studio of GOD TV, the evangelical End Times network, were right next door. GOD TV is the key funder of the Jewish National Fund’s plan to plant a million trees directly over the site of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib, a scheme that has resulted in ten demolitions of the village and untold damage to its residents. I knocked on the door of GOD TV’s studio and a tall, lanky producer appeared. He told me he was from the Netherlands and introduced himself as Klaas. I asked if his network was funding the JNF’s plan to plant a forest that would permanently displace Al-Arakib, forcing its residents’ transfer to the Indian reservation style development town of Rahat.

He told me that while they are planting a million trees to beautify the land for the Second Coming of Christ, he knew nothing about Al-Arakib. “The JNF hasn’t told us anything about that and we certainly wouldn’t be a part of anything that would do what you described,” he said. Then he demanded I support my claims with evidence.

Klaas allowed me to go online on one of GOD TV’s computers to show him my video of the demolition of Al-Arakib. Unfortunately, Google and YouTube were blocked by a search filter on all of the network’s computers. Either a wave of porn watching and chronic masturbation has swept through GOD TV a la AIPAC in the Steve Rosen era, or they are restricted from accessing outside information like North Koreans. Or both. I left Klaas with an article by Neve Gordon about his network’s collaboration with the JNF.

As I was leaving, Klaas suddenly grew argumentative. “An Israeli friend who lives in the Negev told me the Bedouins have to be removed because they steal everything,” he said. “That’s their way of life — theft.”

I asked if he ever spoken to a Bedouin or gone to the Negev to see the situation for himself. He said he hadn’t. I then asked if he had ever met a Palestinian Christian. While our conversation took place, GOD TV was broadcasting a “report” on the Hebron massacre of 1929 which featured black and white footage of Arab men jumping around with swords in a frenzied manner interspersed with interviews with settlers.

“I noticed in Holland a lot of people said they were Christian but they didn’t even go to church, so I realized that they were not really Christians. I mean, what kind of Christians are these Palestinians?” Klaas said. He seemed to be suggesting that anyone who was not born-again was not an authentic Christian.

I told him that most of the Palestinian Christians are Orthodox, and that some are direct descendants of the Apostles. I explained that the Christians of Bethlehem have been physically assaulted by Israeli troops for attempting to celebrate Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, that Christians in Gaza are blocked by Israel from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem, and that the mayor of Nazareth Illit banned the public display of Christmas trees this year because he considered them “provocative.” “You can freely walk where Jesus walked because you’re an international,” I told Klaas, “but what if you were a Palestinian?”

He seemed disturbed by what I had just told him. “They really banned Christmas trees in Nazareth?” he asked. “Yeah, it was widely reported,” I replied. He paused, then came back at me: “Well, I’m not going to just stand here and believe what you say. If you approach the situation in one way, then you can fit everything into your point of view.”

I responded that that was exactly what GOD TV was doing with its broadcasts. He said, “Yeah, well you have to remember that we are a pro-Zionist network.” Then he added, “I’m happy to talk to you, but you’re not going to convince me.”

A Day In Kangaroo Court

Youth from Al-Arakib and Rahat demonstrate outside the Beersheva courthouse

Youth from Al-Arakib and Rahat demonstrate outside the Beersheva courthouse

Yesterday, I took a bus to Beersheva with a group of Israeli activists and the Bedouin residents of Al-Arakib and Rahat. The city’s courthouse was our destination. Inside, lawyers for Al-Arakib were contesting the JNF’s plan to plant a forest on their land. Deeds of ownership were presented proving the rights of the residents to remain in Al-Arakib. “This is our land and our grandfather’s land,” a 24-year-old resident of Rahat named Mohammed Abu Hamid, told me. “They have already taken so much from us. If they take everything, where else can we be?”

Gadi Algazi, a professor and activist who was arrested during the 10th demolition of the village, an episode in which Israeli police fired rubber bullets, told me that the plaintiffs are expected to lose. “We have a supposedly independent judge but the court system is completely stacked against the Bedouins,” Algazi said. “They almost always lose these cases. But this is one of the last chances to stop the JNF so they invested heavily in the case.”

Were it not for the wave of sustained activism against the JNF’s plans, the people of Al Arakib would have already been swept away like dust — like so many of the Bedouin tribes who were expelled to Gaza in ’48 and after. The court cases and demonstrations have at least postponed their cruel fate. But the demolitions and attendant violence have taken their toll.

Samia Al-Touri, a resident of Al-Arakib who has served as a key link to international and Jewish Israeli activists, said that six young members of the village were injured by rubber bullets during the last demolition. Jill Kestler-D’Amours, an activist and reporter who has spent extensive time in Al-Arakib, told me that many children from the village are suffering from bedwetting, nightmares and general trauma. Some fear returning to Al-Arakib so much they have already been resettled in Rahat — a quiet transfer.

Today I learned that Al-Arakib has lost its case in the Beersheva court. The JNF and GOD TV’s plans will move ahead. In a few minutes, Al Jazeera will air a special report on Palestine Papers detailing Israeli proposals to transfer large numbers of Palestinian Israelis into the West Bank, showing how the state uses its own non-Jewish citizens as bargaining chips. To anyone who has visited an unrecognized village like Al-Arakib, this revelation would not come as a surprise.

Below is a translated portion of Al-Touri’s interview conducted by Kestler-D’Amours and witnessed by me:

A week ago in the early morning, Israelis came from the Jewish National Fund. They didn’t give us time to wake our children up or take things out of the house. They demolished the houses and destroyed the water inside the house. This was the 10th demolition in al-Araqib and after this they began to plow everything. What they demolished they plowed. Big cars, about 40 cars or more. Then they wanted to plant trees in the land, and when the tractors came in they were confronted by the people of al-Araqib who tried to stop them.

They shot rubber bullets at us, and injured the youth and we had six injured the first days, many were prevented to go to hospitals. Also about five were arrested. After that, they came again to plant trees and then the lawyer stopped them from doing this by a court order.

That day there was demolitions, 7 people were injured, women were shot at. A child of 13-years-old was injured. People were arrested. 5 were arrested who were from al-Araqib, and 4 Israeli Jews were arrested from those in solidarity with us and who protect our cause. This is what happened in the past few days.

This is a decisive court [hearing], and we want to tell them to leave. We lost trust in these courts and this is why many of us are here today. This is a decisive court session and we want them to return our rights. We have all the necessary documents that prove that this land is ours and that we inherited it from our ancestors. For this, we came to tell this state stop demolitions, stop destroying, stop damaging our land in al-Araqib. We don’t want you to plant trees in our land, we want to build it again for us and our children, like any other citizens of the country.

Israelis target Macy Gray with racist diatribes AFTER she agrees to play Tel Aviv (and who are the “assholes?”)

It wasn't enough for Macy Gray to agree to perform in Israel. She has to take a virtual loyalty oath, too.

It wasn't enough for Macy Gray to agree to perform in Israel. She has to take a virtual loyalty oath, too.

The Israeli media is filled with reports about Macy Gray confirming her plans to perform in Tel Aviv in March. This should have been an occasion for Israelis to celebrate their continuing ability to behave as a normal society despite occupying millions of people, holding Gaza under siege, maintaining an apparatus of racism against its non-Jewish citizens. But in a poorly calculated stunt designed to wash her hands of human rights concerns, Gray had first asked her “fans” if she should perform despite what she called Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of the Palestinians. Within hours, thousands of people who had no prior interest in Gray or her music flocked to her Facebook page (they only had to “like” her page in order to post) to register their opinions. Gray, who appeared to have every intention of performing anyway, remarked after announcing her plan to go to Tel Aviv, that some of those urging her to boycott were “assholes.”

Under normal circumstances, Gray’s roundhouse attack on some supporters of BDS and her subsequent pledge to perform in Tel Aviv should have pleased nationalistic Israelis. However, her initial criticism of Israel’s occupation has invited a firestorm of racist, sexist and generally hateful diatribes from Israelis. Indeed, many Israelis are more furious with Gray for performing inside their country than for refusing to come. Several internet forums, including one called “Don’t Betray,” have sprouted up to incite public anger at artists such as Gray who have criticized Israel — even if they agree to perform in the country. Meanwhile, the talkback sections of articles in the Hebrew media about Gray’s Tel Aviv shows have provided a forum for the most extreme screeds about the singer.

I have collected and translated a sampling of talkbacks from an article in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, the online version of the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth, which highlight the attitude of some Israelis towards Gray. The talkbacks are almost entirely negative towards Gray, with many urging her to cancel her show for daring to criticize Israel, while others call her a “nigger” and denigrate black music as “contaminated.” Gray might be vaguely aware of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinians, but is she aware of the racism towards black Africans inside Israel, including Ethiopian Jews? Has she considered how she might be treated if she were living in Israel? And who are the “assholes” anyway?

Some of 500+ comments from the talkback section to the Hebrew Ynet article provocatively entitled “Gray is against Israel but not canceling:”

THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou

Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage opens their cunt on us. muslimit

David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.

Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max

Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name [Another commenter calls him a racist.] “No name” replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?

Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal

It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela

Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude

Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai

[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]: Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe
What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor
bruriera hess: What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense?
Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors
Anee: I returned the ticket. And you?
Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond
pessey: Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed.
Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage open their cunt on us. muslimit
[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]. Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M
Many say cancel, cancel, we don’t want you here.
When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh
Ronen: thank you new israel fund you did your job well
Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon
Quote by Ben Gurion. “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT
Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max
THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou
She is boycotting only Israel because she’s anti-Semitic. Gives long list of countries including the US and UK she should boycott.
Many say Lieberman should cancel the concert.
Many say yalla, yalla, go look for someone to fuck you
Many say she should perform in Gaza
David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.
Many suggestions to take her to the Holocaust Museum.
Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal
It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela
Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name Someone calls him a racist. No name replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?
Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude
Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai
IsraeliJewishFighter: Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us?
Hineh: Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves.
Many are angry with Ynet for posting on this and allowing talkbacks. NA: The problem with the Jews and that we’re stupid, sensitive and attendant to what every idiot around the world is saying. Why is it so important for Ynet to report on this? So a few miserable goyim are not coming. Oy yoy yoy! What are we going to do?
Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe

What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor

What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense? Bruriera Hess

Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors

I returned the ticket. And you? Anee

Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond

Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed. pessey

When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh

Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon

[Quote by David Ben Gurion]: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT

Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us? IsraeliJewishFighter

Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves. Hineh

Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole

On the origins of Palin’s blood libel gaffe

I was just recently on the Young Turks with Tina Dupuy discussing Palin’s blood libel gaffe, the murder of Judge John Roll, and extremism in Arizona. Here is a clip:

David Samel has more at Mondoweiss on the exploitation of the blood libel by Alan Dershowitz, who has stepped forward to defend Palin (he apparently doesn’t want to be robbed of one of his favorite smear tactics).

My day in the courtroom of Judge John Roll, who lived and died in Arizona’s climate of hate

US District Court Judge John Roll faced hundreds of threats during a trial in which I testified

US District Court Judge John Roll faced hundreds of threats during a trial in which I testified

John Roll, the Chief Justice for the US District Court in Arizona, was among those killed this afternoon at a town hall with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In February 2009, I testified as a prosecution witness in Roll’s courtroom in Tucson in a politically charged civil trial known as Vicente v. Barnett. I did not know at the time that Roll was living under a 24/7 protective detail because of hundreds of threats against him and his family as well as inflammatory rhetoric directed against him by right-wing elements.

A Republican appointee of President George H.W. Bush, Roll had certified a lawsuit against Roger Barnett, a local businessman who had become a posterboy of the national anti-immigrant movement for detaining over 12,000 Mexican migrants on a ranch he owned near the border. In 2006, Barnett was fined $100,000 in a similar lawsuit filed by a Mexican-American family he held at gunpoint (they were on a hunting trip). This time, a group of migrants sued Barnett for physically abusing them — he kicked a small woman in the shoulder hard enough to shatter a religious effigy she kept in her bag — calling them “fucking Mexicans” and threatening to kill them.

For years, Barnett had committed countless acts of random brutality against defenseless migrants. As Cochise County’s former Deputy Sheriff and the brother of the former Sheriff, Barnett acted with total impunity. I interviewed him in the lunch room of his propane delivery business in Sierra Vista, a small town near the Mexican border. It was February 2003, right around the time hundreds of extremists were flocking to the border to join the anti-immigrant vigilante patrols known as the Minutemen.

Seated across a table from the lumbering, ornery Barnett, I listened to him brag about taking migrants hostage. “They [the Mexicans] are gonna take over our country … Do you remember what the Iraqis did with our pilots in Desert Storm? They took them hostage. It’s the same deal here,” he said to me. When I challenged his right to detain people at gunpoint, he lunged across the table at me and rumbled, “What are you, a fucking lawyer?”

Later I learned from the Mexican consulate in Douglas, Arizona that Barnett had been attacking migrants along the highway at night. I reported on one alleged incident for Salon.com:

In the past three years, rumors have floated around Douglas that he was randomly pulling over drivers on Highway 80 northeast of Douglas whom he profiled as Mexican. While most witnesses to the pull-overs have disappeared into the woodwork or demanded anonymity, a recent incident confirmed by the Mexican consul general in Douglas, Miguel Escobar Valdez, suggests Barnett as a possible suspect in a brutal and unprovoked attack along the highway.

On January 19, Escobar was called in to Douglas Hospital to interview Rodrigo Quiroz Acosta, a 37-year-old Mexican national hospitalized with bruises to his head and ribs. Quiroz told Escobar that he had entered the U.S. illegally, became stranded and fatigued, and ventured out to Highway 80 to search for Border Patrol agents to pick him up. Suddenly a white pickup truck barreled off the highway, nearly hitting him. Out stepped a man described by Quiroz as close to 60 years old and accompanied by a dog. The man began shouting angrily, kicking him in the head and pummeling him with a flashlight. Eventually, Quiroz was able to escape and was later apprehended by Border Patrol agents. Quiroz said his attacker was about 6 foot 3 and in his late 50s — a description that could fit Barnett. A Border Patrol supervisor told Escobar that Roger Barnett — who has a dog and drives a white pickup — had detained a group of migrants an hour beforehand in the same area where Quiroz was attacked and that he was probably the attacker.

Seven years later, I was contacted by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and asked to testify as a prosecution witness in their lawsuit against Barnett. Soon I was in a room in the US District Court in Tucson filled with lawyers and witnesses. One witness, a middle-aged Mexican-American man who Barnett had repeatedly threatened and menaced, had just testified. Visibly agitated, he had sweated all the way through his shirt after facing down Barnett in the courtroom.

Henry Solano, a former US Attorney from Colorado who now headed MALDEF, told me a little about Roll before it was my turn to testify: “He’s a conservative but he’s fair. And he is really tough, so make sure to answer everything directly.”

On the witness stand, I faced Barnett’s attorney, a daft and over-aggressive local lawyer named John Kaufmann. Kaufmann began his cross-examination by showing me a series of photographs on placards. “Do you know what this is, Max?” he said with contempt, pointing to a desert canyon. “Obviously I do,” I said. Roll berated me for my response. “You are to answer the questions directly, do you understand?” he shouted from the bench. “Ok, it’s a canyon.”

“A canyon!” Kaufmann said. “You don’t have a lot of canyons in New York City, where you’re from do you? Well, maybe building canyons, but not real canyons.”

Kaufmann’s photos progressed from a canyon to piles of drugs to Mexican migrants, as he attempted to dramatize the horrors immigrants from Mexico had brought to Barnett’s ranch, and by extension, to America. He then read quotes from my Salon.com article, attempting to paint me as an out-of-touch liberal. However, he attributed a quote to me that was actually by former Rep. Tom Tancredo, one of the most anti-immigrant politicians in American history. I recognized that the quote was not mine and demanded that Kaufmann show it to me. He initially refused, but Roll forced him to produce the quote. It turned out I was right.

When Kaufmann was exposed before the jury for misquoting me, his credibility was tainted for the remainder of the trial. I went on to describe for the jury how Barnett had boasted to me about taking migrants hostage, and how he told me that two members of a group run by former KKK leader David Duke had volunteered to help him on his ranch and how he refused only because he didn’t want to risk bad publicity. Finally, Roll politely excused me from the court and thanked me for my testimony.

As the trial proceeded, the threats against Roll poured in. Meanwhile, Barnett was portrayed as a victim hero by Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, who hosted him for a friendly interview.”I don’t know what country I’m living in anymore,” Beck said to Barnett. “You have a right to protect your property.”

In the end, the the jury delivered justice to the migrants Barnett attacked, ordering Barnett to pay them $73 thousand in damages. From what I could tell, Roll handled his courtroom and a challenging trial with professionalism and courage.

Roll spent a substantial part of his judicial career in a climate of violence and political extremism, and would die in it too. He was not the only person killed in Arizona’s hyper- charged, hate-filled environment, and unfortunately, he probably won’t be the last.

On the Assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Updated)

Sarah Palin's SarahPAC has just scrubbed this bullseye on Giffords image from its website

Sarah Palin's SarahPAC has just scrubbed this bullseye on Giffords image from its website

Update: Giffords is alive and in surgery; she was shot in the head

Update #2: The shooter is Jared Lee Laughner. After browsing his Youtube channel for a minute, I got the impression that Laughner was extremely mentally unstable, but we still don’t know any firm details about him. There is also evidence that he subscribes to some form of anti-government ideology, and gold vs. federal currency. The key question is how someone like this was able to buy a semi-automatic handgun so easily, and whether anyone should be surprised that Laughner, whoever he turns out to be, killed an elected official amidst the climate of violence that the right has spawned in Arizona and across the country.

Update #3: A friend of Loughner’s named Caitie Parker is saying on her Twitter feed that he used to be a left-wing radical until he became very reclusive and essentially disappeared from society. More evidence that he was a nut, but nothing is confirmed. I am fairly certain this young woman will be all over cable news soon.

During the healthcare debate I began to discuss the specter of right-wing violence against Democratic elected officials and symbols of the federal government — since far-right extremists couldn’t get to Barack Obama himself. I covered right-wing violence in the Obama era in my IFC special on the Tea Party, declaring my opinion in an interview about the special that the Republicans “were trolling for assassins.” And I devoted the postscript in the paperback edition of Republican Gomorrah to the phenomenon. In one section, I described attacks on Giffords’ office after the passage of Obama’s healthcare plan:

…at least 10 Democratic members of Congress reported receiving death threats. Images of nooses were faxed to the offices of Stupak and James Clyburn, an African-American congressman from South Carolina. Representative Anthony Weiner, an especially vocal proponent of health care reform, received a menacing letter filled with white powder. The brother of Representative Tom Perriello, another health care supporter, had his home gas line deliberately sabotaged after a local Tea Party organizer posted his address online (he had meant to post the congressman’s) and encouraged activists to “drop by” to express their anger about Perriello’s recent vote. In Tucson, Arizona, the windows of Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ office were shattered by shots from a pellet gun. And a brick was thrown through the window of Representative Louise Slaughter’s office in New York as her voicemail filled with threats of impending sniper attacks.

After the passage of the health care bill, the Tea Party floated into a gray zone between authoritarianism and anarchy. Crusading to restore a holy social order, they promoted disorder. Claiming to protect democracy, they smashed windows of elected representatives. Warning of death panels, they called in death threats. With the atmosphere of violence thickening, Palin took to her Twitter account to issue a battle cry: “Don’t Retreat, Instead–RELOAD!” Thus concluded the first phase of the Obama era that was to usher in a peaceable kingdom of bipartisanship.

Now Giffords and five others are dead, (there are still a few reports that she “is in surgery”) victims of a shooting spree by an unknown 21-year-old male. The killer has been taken into custody but remains unidentified. Until his motives are known, it is unfair to lay the blame at the feet of Fox News and the far-right, though I see people are not hesitating to do that on Twitter. Arizona is a very violent, gun-happy environment (see my video report on anti-Obama gun culture). I know because I have covered politics in the state since 2002, focusing on the rise of the anti-immigration movement and nativist vigilantism. In Arizona’s climate of violence, anything is possible.

David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star just said on CNN that “the right has been stoking the fires of rage and hatred successfully for so long. And what motivated the killer of Gabrielle Giffords, who was a moderate, shows everything that is wrong with politics in this state.” Giffords barely survived a vicious campaign against a Tea Party opponent who held a rally to “shoot a fully automatic M16″ to “get on target” and “remove Gabrielle Giffords.” Giffords was also on Palin’s “target list” of vulnerable Democrats.

Arizona is the home of the country’s most ignorant, extreme, Republican-dominated state legislature in the country. And a little known fact about Giffords: she was the first Jew to be elected to Congress from Arizona. Everything is pointing in one direction but for now all we can say that a decent person and public servant, someone who was close to some of my friends in Tucson, is dead.

I will be on Al Jazeera English at 7PM ET to discuss the killingMy appearance has been bumped to Sunday. And I will have more once the identity of the shooter is revealed.