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Law and Disorder September 8, 2014


Updates:

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University of Illinois Chancellor Wise Going Forward With Salaita Appointment To Board of Trustees Vote

Last month, the University of Illinois rescinded the job offer of Professor Steven Salaita who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. This raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Professor Salaita was basically dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported weeks ago on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Professor Salaita.  FOIA Email Link

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Steven Salaita until recently was a tenured professor at Virgina Tech and was well known in English departments across the country and also among scholars who worked in colonialism and post colonialism studies. He developed a really rich body of work thinking about Native American rights, native people’s rights in the United States and connecting them to Palestinian rights in particular internationally.
  • Read Professor Katherine Franke’s second letter here.
  • He was a well sought after scholar and was hired by the University of Illinois in their American Indian Studies program in a process that started last fall.
  • The department unanimously voted him an offer and this summer the university started to get pressure from outside donors, some of their alums and advocacy groups to not finalize the offer because of some tweets Professor Salaita sent out over the summer related to the Israeli attacks in Gaza.
  • The emails to the chancellor were released showing that large six figure donors had seen those tweets or learned of them and said you cannot hire this guy or I will withdraw my future giving to the universities.
  • So, the chancellor let Steven know that she was not going to finalize his offer even though they already negotiated his teaching schedule, he’s already rented an apartment, they had already negotiated his moving expenses.
  • Right now he has no job, no income, no where to live.
  • It’s the most recent iteration of what has been a rather well organized, well financed campaign in the United States in particular to purge the academy of scholars and even graduate students who are doing work that is either sympathetic to the idea of Palestinian sovereignty or rights or critical of Israeli state policy particularly the occupation.
  • It was so obviously a violation of the fundamental right of academic freedom.
  • I’ve only learned of his scholarship as a result of this campaign and his termination from the University of Illinois.
  • I explain to Chancellor Wise in the letter that I sent, that not only will I not come to the university to speak in an official capacity but I will come to Urbana-Champaign and meet off campus with faculty and students, and members of the communities about these issues of academic freedom.
  • Their strategy has been to portray any criticism of Israeli state policy or any criticism of political Zionism as uncivil or as a form of hate speech, but more importantly to appeal to a civility norm. That its not nice. That it creates an unwelcome learning environment for students, particularly jewish students.
  • To see her parroting that language (Chancellor Wise) and for Chris Kennedy to parrot that language says to me that they’ve been reached by these organized operatives from the outside about how to message this termination.
  • I don’t believe there is a civility norm at stake here and I think we actually shouldn’t have one in a university setting. We ought to take on uncivil ideas, ideas that are troubling, that are uncomfortable and unpack them in thoughtful scholarly ways.
  • As these emails are coming out under the Freedom of Information Act Requests over the last few days its quite clear that civility is not what underwrote the decision to terminate him. It was really outside pressure from donors.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.
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The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

In June of this year, the United States sent more troops to Iraq and carried out airstrikes to stop the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS into the Kurdish capitol Erbil. However, a more complicated situation has developed in Syria. The U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is also the goal of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. ISIS’s membership is between 10 and 17 thousand.  We talk today with veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn about his new book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, about the origins of ISIS. We’ll also talk about the role of Saudi Arabia in the larger picture and in funding part of the Sunni terrorist groups, which was exposed by Wikileaks.

Patrick Cockburn:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has turned into the new caliphate in western-northern Iraq and western Syria. It has come out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
  • This organization that was linked to Al-Qaeda but not formed by Al-Qaeda after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is very anti-Shia, Sunni fundamentalist is extremely violent.
  • What makes it so effective is its a mixture of religious fanaticism and military efficiency.
  • Some of the senior people of ISIS are former security officers and special republican guard officers from Saddam Hussein’s time.
  • ISIS is led by a core of people who fought the U.S. in Iraq, fought the Iraqi Army, this is after 2003 and then after 2011 fought in Syria.
  • So, it’s quite an experienced group.
  • It had been growing stronger in Iraq over the last 3 years. It launched a series of campaigns, one of which to break its members out of prison.
  • It had taken over quite big territory in Iraq then it had moved into Syria.
  • It’s present in both countries, but its main effort was in Iraq this year.
  • It always had strength in Mosul City, even though the Iraqi Army was in theoretically in charge but it would still levy protection money on people.
  • Maybe 8 million dollars a month. I know contract men there paying half a million dollars a month.
  • It’s final take over was swift and devastating. I can’t think of an example in history when 350 thousand men in the Iraqi Army,  650 thousand police simply disintegrated under an attack from under 3000 ISIS fighters.
  • What really changed in 2011 when you had the uprising in Syria, primarily the Sunni Arabs of Syria, Iraq politicians said it would spill over into Iraq.
  • The U.S. and its allies to a substantial degree were responsible for this. They backed the uprising against Assad. Even when it was apparent in the last 2 years that Assad wasn’t going to go.
  • Wahhabism is the Islamic variant practiced in Saudi Arabia.
  • There’s always been an alliance over the last 300 years between the preachers of this very puritanical, fanatical, violent and bigoted variant of Islam and the House of Saud.
  • What they believe is not that much different from what ISIS believes. It’s very anti-Shia, the Shia seen as heretics worthy of death. It’s anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and deeply intolerant.
  • Without the policies of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there wouldn’t have been a 911.
  • Bin Laden was part of the a Saudi elite.
  • Rather amazingly, the Saudis were let off scott-free.
  • Kuwait has been a major financial supporter of the Jihadis, so has UAE, so has Qatar, the gulf monarchies as a whole if you like and so has Turkey.
  • The problem with Obama and the U.S. is they have to decide what side they’re on.  In Iraq, they’re supporting the government against ISIS, they’re supporting the Kurds against ISIS.
  • But in Syria, the main opponent of ISIS is the Assad government but the U.S. policy is to weaken and displace that government.
  • In a way, (the U.S. policy actually assists ISIS)

Guest – Patrick Cockburn is currently Middle East correspondent for The Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons, which was shortlisted for a Costa Award. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.

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Law and Disorder September 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: The Dahiya Doctrine, Wikileaks and Julian Assange
  • Michael Ratner: U.S. Is The Fundamental Supporter Of Israel War Crimes
  • Major Free Speech Court Victory in Brooklyn Bridge Occupy Mass Arrest Class Action
  • Update On H.Rap Brown Health And Treatment

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Labor Day Songs From The Union Makes Us Strong.

Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian play songs from The Union Makes Us Strong album by Peter Siegel and Eli Smith to honor Labor Day 2014. The historical importance of these songs lie in the role they played in the creation of the union movement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. They instrumental in propagating the attitudes and ideas the “class consciousness” that led working men and women by the thousands to recognize the need to stand together in solidarity. In short, they shaped a politicized working-class culture based more upon social than individual values.

Songs: There Is Power In the Union / The Preacher And The Slave / The Death of Mother Jones / Song For Bridges.

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Non-GMO Seed Programs Help Poor Farmers In El Salvador Secede From Monsanto Monopoly

When you hear news reports about the mass migration of unaccompanied children coming across the Mexico – U.S. border, you usually don’t hear about the pressures that are driving the emigration. Today we look at some of the economic and agricultural reasons that cause migrations specifically in El Salvador.  One organization helps poor farmers grow and market sees for corn and beans. This program is called the Mangrove Association where the government buys the seeds and distributes them for free to the 400 thousand farmers. However, these are non – GMO seeds, a preference that local communities and the El Salvadoran government had to fight for.

Professor of Law Eleanor Stein:

  • My primary work over the last 10 years has been centered on climate change and what can be done to reverse that trend and to change the political climate in which those decisions get made.
  • I was interested in this project in El Salvador because I understood that it was based in some local community groups in a very poverty stricken rural area in the southwestern part of the country and they were using very creative methods to develop more of a sustainable agriculture and also to take measures related to adaptation of their region as a result of climate change.
  • CAFTA is a trade treaty which the U.S. and Central America are parties and the Dominican Republic and it governs very much like NAFTA. It governs the requirement for procurement of goods and services by governments in those regions.
  • El Salvador is a very poor country. It’s still living with the results of a civil war that went from 1979 to 1992 that resulted in the death of almost 80 thousand people.
  • When I say a civil war, that doesn’t really capture the full involvement of the U.S. government fully supporting the right wing counter insurgency forces.
  • They (Salvadoran government) have put in place a seed program that began in 2012 that was meant to deal with tremendous problems in food insecurity, agricultural non-sustainability and poverty and lack of economic opportunity that exist in the rural areas.
  • They’re cooperatives that produce seeds. They’re locally grown, they’re non-GMO and they are apparently more successful than the Monsanto varieties.
  • They have a higher germination rate, and they’re much more hardy in their conditions of growth in El Salvador.
  • Until fairly recently, Monsanto had been procuring almost all of its seeds from a Monsanto subsidiary in the region and from very few other producers and were arguable in violation of CAFTA because this was a direct procurement without bidding.
  • The Millennial Challenge Corporation is a U.S. government agency which is basically a dispenser of aid in the form of grants to countries that have been defined as emerging potential democracies by the State Department.
  • This aid package for every country it has been offered has been conditioned on the local government making certain changes. Legislative changes to bring the economy of the recipient country more in line with the neo-liberal trade policies.
  • For example, they tried to get the El Salvadoran legislature to privatize water in their country.
  • This is one of few places in the world where a region has been able to secede from the Monsanto monopoly.
  • Mangrove Association.There were able to provide for free to more than 400 thousand farmers these very high quality seeds. This is a concrete effective local program that is really combating hunger and food insecurity and its at a time when tens of thousands of children from El Salvador are trying to emigrate to the United States because of not only violence but poverty and lack of opportunity in El Salvador.
  • Both the violence and the poverty and the lack of economic development are rooted in the war in the history of El Salvador and the history of the U.S. role in that war.
  • I think the underlying condition not only for the emigration but for the violence itself is the lack of infrastructure, the lack of development, the lack of opportunity that continues to haunt this country that was under the rule of an oligarchy for 60 or 70 years.
  • We didn’t meet a single family that had indoor plumbing. People are living under really difficult conditions.
  • www.eco-viva.org

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental  and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational  environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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Law and Disorder August 25, 2014


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Ali Abunimah On Gaza, His New Book The Battle For Justice in Palestine and Censorship

ElectronicIntifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is the author of new book The Battle For Justice in Palestine. He shares with hosts the recent news of what’s happening in Gaza, the resistance around the world, as well as on campus and in the United States. Ali was scheduled to speak at the Evanston Public Library in early August. The library later sent an email telling him he couldn’t be allowed to speak without an Israeli speaker to ensure balance. Neighbors for Peace an organization of antiwar activists based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois who initially brought Abunimah to speak suspected the library’s director was pressured to censor the event. The event was canceled the following day and after some activism and demonstration, the presentation was rescheduled. Ali spoke about his recent book The Battle For Justice In Palestine, the event was packed.  Last year at Brooklyn College a similar controversy erupted when Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler we’re scheduled to speak.

Ali Abunimah:

  • The situation has gotten considerably worse (in Gaza) over the past year because of the coup in Egypt.
  • The current regime in Egypt is very closely aligned with Israel. They’ve made it just impossible for 1.8 million people to live in Gaza.
  • The demands from Palestinian civil society is lift the siege, open the crossing, allow farmers to farm, allow fishermen to fish, allow factories to function, allow travelers to travel, students to go to their universities, patients to reach their hospitals, allow medicines to come in, allow books to come in.
  • You mentioned my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Well, there’s no way to get that book into Gaza.
  • It’s also a siege on human contact, culture, education and nourishment. They killed now more than 2000 people in Gaza which is 1 out of every 1000 residents in Gaza.
  • Entire families have been wiped out, nobody feels safe. This massacre Israel thought would break people’s will and get them to accept and go back under siege.
  • But Israel won’t (lift the siege) it’s a matter of pride for them, it’s a matter of colonial control.
  • The most frightening statement about where they’re (Israel) going was made more than 10 years ago. I wrote about this recently in an article called The Gaza Massacre Is The Price of Living In A Jewish State.
  • At that time you hearing fantasy about Gaza becoming the new Singapore on the Mediterranean. The Israelis were saying to themselves that Gaza was going to become a giant holding pen for human beings who are not Jewish.
  • If we’re going to wait for government to do the right thing or the UN to get its act together, then we’re doomed.
  • Despite the multiple levels of complicity by this government in this country, and governments in Europe and the Arab world, something is happening.
  • We’re not starting from zero we have a really important and sustained Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  • They’re firing artillery, mortar shells that are designed to be indiscriminate into populated areas of Gaza with the intended consequence of causing widespread destruction.
  • We have to go after the weapons manufacturer, we have to after the people who approve these sales from around the world and its because of public pressure that the UK announced last week that they will suspend armed exports to Israel if significant hostilities resume.
  • Well now they have resumed, let’s see what they do.
  • Look what’s happening just this week, an Israeli cargo ship was prevented from unloading for 4 days in Oakland because solidarity activists and unionized port workers have been working together to prevent that.
  • Israel can only maintain its dominance over Palestinians through brute force and use of violence against Palestinians there, and through attempts to suppress debate, suppress political action on behalf of Palestinians in the United States and around the world.
  • Mainstream media is more closed to Palestinian voices than what I’ve seen in 20 years. I used to get on CNN, I used to get on MSNBC.
  • The librarian let me know that the event was canceled until they could get a pro-Israel speaker.
  • There was such an uproar, it was amazing. They did a U-turn pretty quickly.
  • As Israel and its apologists lobbies lose control of the narrative, lose control of the politics in this country, there is a more blatant resort to outright repression such as what is going on now at the University of Illinois and other institutions around the country.
  • In that chapter I site an organization called the David Project, which is a Zionist group that’s been working for ten years attacking and targeting professors.

Guest – Ali Abunimah a Palestinian American journalist who has been described as “the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A resident of Chicago who contributes regularly to such publications as The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, he has also served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, is a fellow at the Palestine Center, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

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Top Legal Scholars Decry Chilling Effect of Dehiring Professor Steven Salaita

The University of Illinois has rescinded the job offer of the professor who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. Professor Steven Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. This has raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Those principles are enshrined in Illinois law, in the U.S. Constitution, and in the written principles of the American Association of University Professors. Recently, scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita. Read letter here.

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Salaita was made a tenured offer of appointment at the University of Illinois in their American Indian studies program last year. He accepted it and negotiated the terms of the offer. Then during the most recent assault on Gaza, he was active on twitter expressing his views on the Middle East and colonialism.
  • The University of Illinois came under a tremendous amount of pressure to revoke the offer of employment to Professor Salaita.
  • The offer wasn’t finalized, there’s usually a rubber stamp process where the department and the head of the university have to take appointment to the Board of Trustees.
  • The chancellor of the university Phyllis Wise informed Professor Salaita that she would not be bringing his appointment to the Board of Trustees and was unwilling to finalize his appointment.
  • He had already resigned his position at Virgina Tech and was getting ready to move. He’s a well known scholar, not only of American Indian studies but of colonialism more generally and has connected up the struggle for sovereignty and analysis of genocide and occupation in the United States to the struggles that the Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • He certainly didn’t depart from views he expressed before but I think they, in the heat of the moment of this recent assault on Gaza, the university basically buckled and withdrew the offer, and he’s now without a job and an income.
  • It’s because of his speech on the issue of war crimes that may have been committed by Israel in the assault on Gaza.
  • His tweets have been rather even across the board I think in terms of criticizing the critics of Israel when they’ve overstepped but also criticizing Israel itself.
  • He’s a firey guy with strong opinions and rigorous academic critiques of colonialism and colonial violence.
  • I thought it would be useful to add constitutional and legal analysis of the problem, situated historically in threats to free speech on campus. I drafted a letter for Constitutional law professors, not in which they would agree to boycott universities . . . more offering a constitutional analysis of retaliation against unpopular speech.
  • The law in this area has been made by faculty and sometimes students.
  • I brought it back to Urbana-Champaign and their own history of threats to free speech both during the McCarthy period when bills were introduced in Springfield to punish or purge people who had back then what they call Communist sympathies when working in public universities. In 1960, there was a professor in the biology department at Urbana-Champaign that had written and spoke about human sexuality and premarital sex, and had actually endorsed premarital sex.
  • There are a couple of principles that are at stake here, one has to do with the state punishing any citizen for speaking on an unpopular topic and particularly punishing for the viewpoint they take.
  • There’s another faculty member at the University of Illinois Kerry Nelson who has been a rather enthusiastic advocate of Israel’s right to attack Gaza. He said things that are quite inflammatory, he’s not been fired. He’s not been punished for the positions he’s taken on the Middle East.
  • Viewpoint discrimination, that’s the first point. The second point is academic freedom. Universities are the primary bastion of protection. A domain where we protect the pursuit of unpopular ideas, controversial ideas, of ideas that might even be frightening.
  • That is the commitment that we make as part of the academic endeavor. The point of that concept of academic freedom is that we don’t want to have a kind of orthodoxy or an official version of the truth.
  • Dr. Wise comes out of a somewhat corporate background. She, I think is the poster woman if you will for the executive that is now leading universities and thinks of universities as a business.
  • The presidents are making an economic calculation, that they can pay off someone like Salaita and satisfy their donors.
  • We can’t just agree to do nothing which what a boycott is. In a way it’s the easiest thing to do.
  • I would say I have a lot of faith in students.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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History Of Police Brutality And The Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

In the days since the uproar over the police shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, state and local law enforcement have been cycling through different approaches demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. They rolled out armored vehicles, while police in riot gear deployed tear gas, stun grenades and shotguns. Another decision permitted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to march with protestors. The National Guard was also ordered in.  We examine the history and consequences of militarizing local law enforcement with Baruch College Civil Rights Professor Clarence Taylor.

Professor Clarence Taylor:

  • We can’t talk about a post civil rights era. These issues are still with us today.
  • It’s the people on the ground, who have gone through this, that are fed up.
  • It’s not just arguing for a black face in a high place.
  • There is no requirement of the police of Ferguson to live in that community.
  • Having black officers would change the nature of the investigation.
  • This is something that’s been argued going back in the 1930s and the 1940s and people were organizing against police brutality.
  • We should not take our eyes off the racial component of this.
  • Police brutality would still go on without the militarization of the police.
  • You throw all these new toys at the police department and once you have a big enough hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • Diversifying police departments is very very important and emphasizing more community policing.

Guest – Professor Clarence Taylor, His research is in modern civil rights, black power movements and African American religion. He’s the author of many books including co-editor of Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader in the Black Struggle. He’s currently writing a history of police brutality in New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1991, Clarence received his PhD in American history and began teaching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He reworked his dissertation into a book, The Black Churches of Brooklyn from the 19th Century to the Civil Rights Era, and it was published by Columbia University Press in 1994. In 1996, Clarence became a member of the history department and the African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University.
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Law and Disorder August 18, 2014


Updates:

  • Police Reform Urged By Anonymous
  • Prof. Johanna Fernandez Brings Suit To Obtain NYPD Files On The Young Lords
  • Heidi Boghosian Leaves National Lawyers Guild After 15 Years And Is Now Executive Director of the AJ Memorial Muste Institute

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International Humanitarian Law and Israel’s War Crimes

Since the July 8th launch of intense bombing and the ground invasion by Israel against the occupied Palestinian territory’s Gaza Strip. There’s growing evidence that Israel’s leaders and commanders have committed the following crimes, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity as defined in the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court. U.S. military aid has aided and abetted and assisted the commission of these crimes by providing Israel with the military means to commit them. We discuss today violations of International Humanitarian Law with the Center for Constitutional Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood.

Attorney Maria LaHood:

  • It has been reported that Israel has killed almost 2000 people in Gaza, including 460 children over the last month.
  • A few thousand children alone, have been injured and they’ve displaced almost half a million people, that’s more than a quarter of the population of Gaza.
  • That’s not to mention the widespread destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, UN shelters, critical infrastructure for civilian population and the power plant in Gaza.
  • Then you think about the trauma that the population is subjected to, especially the children.
  • What Israel has done, violates the laws of war, which is intended to protect civilians.
  • There’s international humanitarian law that governs armed conflict. The basic principles are distinction and proportionality.
  • Parties to a conflict have to distinguish between military objectives which can be attacked, and civilians and civilian property and infrastructure which can never be targeted under any circumstances.
  • Grave and serious breaches of these laws are war crimes.
  • Willful, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians or civilian objects, like homes, the attacks on medical staff, and ambulances, and hospitals, which are specifically protected.
  • There has also been the extensive destruction of property that hasn’t been justified by military necessity.
  • The attacks and Israel’s closure on Gaza also are collective punishment. They punish people for offenses that they didn’t commit.
  • All state parties to common Article 1 of the Geneva Convention are required, including the United States, are required to insure respect for the conventions under any circumstances.
  • The United States has laws to prohibit funding and arms sales to foreign governments or specific units that are engaging in human rights violations.
  • For example the Leahy Law bars the U.S. from funding foreign military units and individuals if there’s credible information that they took part in gross human rights violations.
  • We found out recently, the U.S. doesn’t track which Israeli units are receiving U.S. military assistance.
  • More than half of our foreign military funding goes to Israel.
  • Even over the course of this latest onslaught on Gaza, the U.S. has sold munitions to Israel.
  • As far as I’m concerned the U.S. is aiding and abetting Israel’s war crimes.
  • I think the most important thing that’s going on right now is the global movement in support of Palestinian human rights.
  • Look at the U.K. recently, 100 thousand turned out for a protest. A foreign officer minister resigned over the government’s policy. Now the government announced it will suspend military export licenses if the fighting resumed.
  • Frankly, I’m not sure what could stop Israel while it has the U.S. government’s support.
  • That’s our responsibility to change.
  • It’s our right to talk about what Israel is doing, it’s our duty to do something about it.
  • At every chance the U.S. government protects Israel.
  • Its difficult in U.S. courts. It’s difficult when the U.S. government is protecting Israel in every way it can.
  • It’s not just in U.S. courts, its in the U.N. It’s basically pressuring Abbas, not to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court so that Israeli officials can’t be liable there.
  • It pressures the Human Rights Council at every turn not to condemn Israel, not to have fact finding missions into Israel’s crimes, not to permit accountability for Israel.
  • The United States has exercised its veto over 40 times to protect Israel from any accountability – (In UN Security Council)
  • Basically the Rome Statute permits that states who aren’t parties can accept the court’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis.
  • The ICC could accept jurisdiction of these crimes and should.
  • There is a very serious argument that Israel’s mass killings of civilians in Gaza, repeated several times in recent years, in the context of Israel’s 47 years of occupation and absolute suffocation of Gaza over the last several years, and treatment of Palestinians more broadly, not to mention the horrible genocidal statements that top officials have been making in recent weeks, that that constitutes genocide.
  • Genocide is a crime that the ICC has jurisdiction over.
  • I began doing civil rights work as an attorney, and I was so troubled by what was going to be happening post 9-11, that I really wanted to get more involved in international human rights.
  • I’m Lebanese-American, so I do feel impacted by what’s happening, but it is really truly I think my status as a responsible party as an American that makes me want to fight this.

Guest – Maria LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2003.  She specializes in international human rights litigation, seeking to hold government officials and corporations accountable for torture, extrajudicial killings, and war crimes abroad.
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International Peace Movement Gains Traction

There is a growing movement among Americans and Jewish Americans who are organizing for justice in Palestine. They’re calling for an end to the occupation, a restoration of the lands and homes of the Palestinians who were evicted years ago and an end to the siege in Gaza. Recent actions by a grassroots national organization called Jewish Voice for Peace have targeted companies that profit from the occupation, congressional leaders and Jewish institutions that rally behind Israel’s violence against civilians.

Donna Nevel:

  • It’s part of a long pattern, and a long history of brutality against the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza and going right back to the Nakba and since then.
  • The organizing that has been going on has been definitely stepping up. We’ve all seen the photos of protests around the world. London had a huge one, and South Africa and this country.
  • Netanyahu recently held a press conference that was translated from Hebrew, that there cannot be a situation in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the river Jordan.
  • If we look at what happened in 1948, with the Nakba, what happened in 67 when Israel occupied more territory and displaced thousands upon thousands more Palestinians. Palestinians have been arrested more systematically, increased colonization of land, including during the supposed peace process.
  • I’m one of many many people and groups that are doing organizing and as you know I’ve chosen to do my activism with a number of different groups.
  • One of them Jewish Voice For Peace, Jews Say No and have also become part of a project, The Nakba Education Project, specifically because we think there is a great need in the American Jewish community and more broadly for the Nakba to be front and center which also addresses issues of the right of return.
  • For our organizing, I think that the Palestinian led movement, for Boycott Divestment and Sanction at this particular moment becomes more important than ever as we’re protesting the brutality of the Israeli government.
  • Jewish Voice For Peace – we hold ourselves accountable as a Jewish group that needs to do our work within the Jewish community and at the same time be a very respectful, responsible and responsive partner to the Palestinian led movement for BDS and for justice in Palestine.
  • There are so many ways to connect.
  • Now, you can be an Alternet, a Mondoweiss, an ElectronicIntifada, really wonderful places that speak the truth.
  • There are organizations like the IMEU, The Institution For Middle East Understanding.
  • JVP alone has had 50 thousand new people at least who asked to be on their mailing list. I’m pretty sure that’s happened with lots of groups across the country.
  • The Israeli propaganda machine is so strong buttressed by the US government propaganda.
  • Demonstrations have been huge . . . and the acts of civil disobedience.
  • My background is that I grew up with deeply committed Jewish parents who taught me to stand up for justice whenever and wherever and to be proud of who I was and never think I was better than another human being.
  • That was the framing through which I grew up. I thought I was going to connect to Israel and at first connected to what was called the Marxist-Zionist movement, which I understand is rather an oxymoron.
  • I think what I hadn’t looked at was the Nakba. In 1989 I was involved with the Road to Peace Conference which was held at Columbia University between Knesset members and PLO officials and it was illegal for Israeli Knesset members to meet with PLO officials so Edward Said arranged for us to be at Columbia.
  • I had been told there’s no group to talk with on the other side meaning the Palestinian side. Every group within Palestinian civil society and Palestinian political life showed up at the conference.
  • There are increased BDS actions that are taking place. BDS Initiatives Grow Around The World
  • BDSmovement.net / Endtheoccupation.org / JewishVoiceForPeace.org / Adalah.org / Contact  – JewsSayNo@gmail.com /

Guest – Donna Nevel is a member of the board of Jewish Voice for Peace.  She’s also a community psychologist and educator, coordinates the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) in partnership with the Educational Leadership Program at NYU Steinhardt, where she teaches PAR. She has been a long-time organizer for equity and racial justice in public education. She has been involved with Palestine/Israel peace and justice work since the 1970’s and is also part of groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

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Law and Disorder August 11, 2014


Updates:

  • Attorney Michael Smith Remembers 69th Anniversary of U.S. Dropping A-Bombs On Japan
  • Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam: The Use of the Atomic Bomb and the American Confrontation with Soviet Power

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The Logic of Israeli Violence

Ongoing reports of Israel engaging in senseless cruel violence against Palestinian people in Gaza throughout Operation Protective Edge is not a random bombing campaign but a strategic war experiment in colonial management as Greg Shupak explains in his recent article The Logic of Israeli Violence.  Shupak points out the attacks on civilians fleeing for shelter, the bombing of the medical infrastructure, fishing boats and wheat mills, killing Arab speaking journalists are in the larger plan of ethnicide and to render the Palestinian people dependent. His article reminds readers that there is a measured plan of attack to systematically erase the historic memory of the Palestinian society.

Greg Shupak:

  • There’s good reason to believe according to some reporting by 97 Magazine and Max Blumenthal that the Israeli security forces knew quite perfectly well the teens were almost certainly killed as soon as they were abducted and yet they carried on this charade of pretending that they could be rescued in some way.
  • Rocket fire from Hamas didn’t start until after Israel carried out strikes within Gaza, and carrying out various forms of killing Palestinian civilians and or people they described as militants.
  • The rockets were a response to Israeli violence.
  • Israeli propaganda has insinuated that these tunnels have in fact been used to kill Israeli civilians or that they may well be, but that simply has not happened.
  • If the aim was to destroy tunnels, Egypt which is being ruled by a brutal regime, in its own right, was able to get rid of these tunnels without killing huge numbers of civilians.
  • Israel’s aim vis a vis Gaza is to isolate Palestinians there from the outside world render them dependent on external benevolence and at the same time absolve Israel of responsibility toward them.
  • The thesis I put forth about the current violence of Operation Protective Edge, is that one way Israel is attempting to achieve that goal, that goal of Jewish supremacy in historic Palestine with as much land as possible and as few Palestinians as possible is to aim to obliterate Palestinians as a people with the capacity to live independently in their homeland.
  • The pattern of Israeli violence . . . is not only to kill and maim Palestinians but to impede their capacity to live autonomously in historic Palestine.
  • It’s a settler colonial project.
  • This is part of a longer term pattern. If you look at the work of Dr. Sarah Roy of Harvard she has documented extensively what she calls the deliberate de-development of the Gaza Strip economy.  She has warned that Gazans are at risk for mass starvation.
  • Five hospitals have been shut down. 24 health facilities have been damaged.
  • We also that there’s been direct strikes on hospitals from Israeli fire.
  • The ability of Palestinians to care for themselves has very much been undermined.
  • Two thirds of Gaza’s wheat mills are inoperative, 3000 of its herders are in need of animal feed. We’ve seen fishermen attacked, we’ve seen attacks on agricultural sites, these are all part of those processes that Sarah Roy has talked about in the longer term.
  • If religion is way for a cultural group to understand its identity then attacking the cultural institutions of that religion are ispo facto an attack on the people to have an identity.
  • When you attack an educational institution you undermine the ability of a people to educate their young, to train them for future work, to train them to think critically, to develop artists, and inventors and so on.
  • This to me is a very significant way for stifling a cultural groups independent existence.
  • At its simplest, Israel can be seen as a giant military base for the United States.

Guest – Greg Shupak, a writer, activist and PhD candidate at the University of Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies. He teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
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The National Security State: The End of Separation of Powers

Retired Professor of Law from Duke University Michael Tigar joins hosts to talk about his recent article The National Security State: The End of Separation of Powers published in the latest Monthly Review Magazine.  Michael has explained how the Executive branch of government has come to dominate both the Judicial and Legislative branches of the United States government.  Attorney Michael Tigar has been working on social issues for many years, his books include Law and The Rise of Capitalism, Fighting Injustice, and Thinking About Terrorism: The Threat To Civil Liberties In Times of National Emergency.

Attorney Michael Tigar:

  • The basic principle of constitutional government that is established in our Constitution is that the actions of the legislative and executive branches, particularly the executive branch, are always reviewable by independently appointed judges and that the legality of whatever the executive branch does harms any protected interest, citizen or otherwise ought to be reviewable in the courts of the United States.
  • The main thing about this is the harm to the judicial branch is in a real sense a self inflicted wound.
  • That is to say judges confronted with assertions of executive power have proven inadequate to the task of restraining exercises of executive power
  • We recall the massive illegality of the Japanese relocation at the beginning of the Second World War.
  • It is now been shown that the premise upon which that relocation took place confining Japanese-Americans in concentration camps was false.
  • At the time the Constitution was being debated Patrick Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution on the ground that the ideal that independent judiciary could act as an effective check upon the exercise of executive power particularly military power was bound to be dis-proven in history.
  • Law is legal ideology. That is to say its erected around social relations. In every time of recorded history there is a sense in which the formal guarantees that rules of law make about individual rights are simply lies the regime tells the people in order to sustain itself.
  • That was the burden of book I wrote called Law and The Rise of Capitalism.
  • The ideal that you rally people to the cause of social change by promising them liberty is also not new.
  • The Cherokee people of Georgia read the Constitution and they said Aha, the Constitution guarantees that any group or individual can exercise certain social rights.
  • So they drafted a Constitution for their nation and set up institutions then they brought suit against the state of Georgia to enforce these rights, that the letter of the American Constitution guaranteed that.
  • What did Chief Justice Marshall say? What a minute, these are inferior and subject people. When the Constitution gives the right to all people, persons, citizens whatever, to bring lawsuits under Article 3 and to bring them to us, it wasn’t talking about these people.
  • Michael Ratner you and others, courageous lawyers who have been struggling to get reviewablility of unlawful executive action should not give up the fight.
  • The kinds of effort you make deserve support and turn out in historic context to be important.
  • Historically the role of lawyers has been to articulate people’s claims for justice.
  • What Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have done is reveal to the world fundamental defects in the way that the American political society has been operating and yet rather than saying thank you in some form of another, the government is hell-bent on prosecuting them.

Guest – Michael Tigar, a research professor of law. He holds expertise in Constitutional Law; Supreme Court; French legal system; criminal law and procedure; human rights. He is fluent in French. Tigar represented Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing trial. One of the most renowned lawyers in the country today, he has argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and more than 100 appellate cases. Tigar has written extensively about litigation, aspects of trial practice, criminal law, the death penalty, and the role of the criminal defense lawyer. His books include Fighting Injustice (ABA, 2002); Federal Appeals: Jurisdiction and Practice; and Examining Witnesses. In addition, he has written several plays about famous trials. Throughout his career, Tigar has been active in pro bono cases, the American Bar Association, continuing legal education programs, and international human rights. During the apartheid period, he went to South Africa to train black lawyers. Prior to joining AU, Tigar served as a professor at the University of Texas Law School.

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Law and Disorder July 28, 2014


Updates:

  • Palestine Center For Human Rights: Current War Statistics On Palestinian Death Toll
  • Two Laws Under Geneva Conventions: First All Attacks Have To Distinguish Between Military Objectives and Civilian Objectives. Second: You Can’t Just Kill Civilians Who Aren’t Participating in A War
  • Michael Smith: Cultural Ethnicide – Keep Expanding Until Israel Takes Over
  • Cultural Genocide Case: Illan Pappe – Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine
  • Naomi Wolf Walks Out of Synagogue When Nothing Is Said About Gaza
  • Demonstrations Against The Murder and Violence Against Palestinians
  • Michael Ratner Admonishes JFRED Jews For Racial and Economic Justice and Other GroupsTo Step Forward
  • Michael Ratner Pulls Apart NY Times Article: Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama

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Michael Ratner Discusses 3 International Crimes That Can Be Attributed To Israel’s Actions Against Palestinians: Genocide, Apartheid and Crimes Against Humanity.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • First International Crime: Genocide - There are two elements,  one is the mental element, what you’re thinking, and the mental element is intent to destroy in whole or in part. Then it defines who you want to destroy. A national group which would be the Palestinians. An ethnical group, which has a common cultural heritage, racial or religious group. Second is physical, it includes killing members of the group, serious body or mental harm to members of the group. Inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
  • A key term when I say in whole or in part is important.
  • It says the perpetrators, the Israelis in this case need not intend  to destroy the entire group.
    Destruction of only part of a group, members living in one region is also genocide. They tried to get rid of all the educated people. They tried to get rid of the leaders. It pretty clearly fits the legal definition. So we have the crime of genocide and genocide of course can be prosecuted in the International Court of Justice.
    That can be prosecuted by states who have their own universal jurisdiction.
    If an Israeli general or politician travels to a country that will actually enforce its genocide laws that person can be prosecuted under the Genocide Convention and the laws that flow from it.
  • Second International Crime: Apartheid – It’s defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.
  • Third International Crime: Crimes Against Humanity – It includes any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. They include, murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, enforced disappearance of persons, the crime of apartheid other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Western Media Coverage of Israel Gaza Violence

Last week we interviewed Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss and talked about the media’s role in reporting facts and detailing the history around the escalating violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military. Specifically in the discussion, Phil believed that what he considered better media analysis of the Middle East situation and some other factors, might prevent a ground assault against Gaza. Michael Ratner and Michael Smith both disagreed with Phil believing that it wasn’t just about media coverage or a little better media coverage but the question of a ground assault went to a much deeper issue. 3 hours later unfortunately Michael Smith and Michael Ratner were proven correct.

Jim Naureckas:

  • I think the first thing you have to say of this issue is that the loss of human life has been overwhelmingly on one side.
  • I think that needs to be clear in the coverage.
  • What you’re getting is a coverage on the whole attempts to that treats both sides evenly as if the trauma is equally split between the two sides.
  • The latest figure is 161 children killed in Gaza.
  • And to treat the worries of Israelis as important or more important than the death of 161 kids I think is revolting.
  • There was a poll a while back showing that when people heard the word “occupied territories” a lot of people think that the Palestinians are occupying Israeli territory because the media so rarely explain what’s going on.
  • They’re not explaining what the situation is between Gaza and Israel and so you get coverage of the rockets as if they are the main problem.
  • It’s really a cockeyed way of viewing the situation I think.
  • We were talking about the headline that was changed in the New York Times after the beach massacre when Israel bombed kids playing soccer on the beach and killed 4 boys.
  • The original headline was “Four Young Boys Killed Playing On Gaza Beach” which I might note leaves out the active subject of that sentence it doesn’t say who killed them.
  • By the time it made it to print, the headline had been changed to “Boys Drawn To Gaza Beach And Into Center of Mideast Strife.”
  • You see the underlying bias in these examples.
  • Another is 13 Israeli soldiers, 70 others killed. A lot of readers are going to read that and when you say 13 soldiers and 70 others, you’re going to read that as 70 other Israelis who weren’t soldiers were killed.
  • On MSNBC there was a contributor, a Palestinian American, Rula Jebreal, who was discussing this case and the coverage in general of MSNBC, and was critical of the amount of air time given to Israeli officials versus the amount of time given to Palestinians to discuss the conflict.
  • After making these criticisms, within hours, she had her contract canceled by MSNBC.
  • She was actually brought back on not as an MSNBC contributor but as a Palestinian journalist to talk to Chris Hayes, and Chris Hayes defended her firing.
  • In this particular conflict 100 U.S. Senators voted to declare their support for Israel with no mention of the Palestinians who are dying.
  • Michael Smith: 100 to zero. What does that say about democracy?
  • I think its safe to say there’s more dissent in U.S. media than in U.S. government about the attack on Gaza.
  • I think that the rise of social media has effected the coverage.
  • When you’re doing a story about people treating war as a spectator sport and don’t mention that people are dying in the war, you are really treating war as a spectator sport.
  • We’re writing about this daily on our blog FAIR.org. You can also hear us talking about these issues on Counterspin.

Guest – Jim Naurekas Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR’s monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the ’90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR’s website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR’s program director.

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Law and Disorder July 21, 2014


Updates:

  • Swedish Judge Denies Assange Lawyers Request To Set Aside 2010 Arrest Warrant On Sexual Misconduct Allegations
  • Torture Memo Author John Yoo Awarded Endowed Faculty Chair At University of California Berkeley School Of Law
  • Michael Ratner: The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld

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Israel’s Continued Disproportionate Use Of Force Against Palestinian Civilians

In a slow escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army responded earlier this month by launching “Operation Protective Edge” as Israeli jets dropped hundreds of bombs on the impoverished coastal enclave of nearly 2 million Palestinians. At this time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1400 injured. According to the United Nations, 77 percent of those killed are civilians and yet the massacre sadly continues. The vicious attacks are framed as a mutual conflict or exchange of fire. The reality is that the low quality rockets hitting Israel are not comparable to Israel’s powerful military strikes.

Phil Weiss:

  • In a nutshell I think Israel is trying to destroy the unification agreement between Hamas and Fatah. They don’t want diplomacy they want to end that unification deal.
  • It’s a great danger to Israel that the Palestinians are united, they want them divided.
  • They’ve used any pretext they can in the last month including the horrifying abduction and killing of these Israeli teens on the West Bank. They’ve used any pretext they can to break up, to try to break up that understanding.
  • The goals of a unified Palestinian government are to achieve some type of Palestinian freedom.
  • They would go on to International Criminal Court, International bodies and say hey, this occupation has been going on nearly 50 years . .. are you finally going to give us a state, sovereignty? If we can’t get sovereignty we’ll move to an equal rights struggle. .
  • I think the good thing that they show is there’s no green line. Israel operates with impunity, with complete autonomy all over historic Palestine. Netanyahu has said we’re never giving up the West Bank. It’s sort of an announcement to the world, this is one state.
  • The legal response and the one you demonstrated (Michael Ratner) against Cast Lead was this is Internationa Humanitarian Law and Human Rights law apply here and Israel should be brought up before International bodies for violating those laws.
  • The one form of progress is there’s no ground invasion this time. (this is what he thought at the time)
  • Michael Ratner, you and I have a somewhat different relationship to the mainstream press in that I used to be part of it and now and then I have fantasies of getting back in.
  • With that proviso, I think there has been a little bit of progress in the mainstream so you have on NBC news, you have words opening that report saying these people are trapped, they have no where to go and its a lopsided conflict.  I didn’t hear that around Cast Lead.
  • I’m not trying to defend the mainstream so much to say that I feel that there is some real shift going on.
  • Michael Ratner: Here’s a question about half-full. Do you want me to call the family that lost 17 kids in the same household in Gaza? That’s not half-full. That’s empty.
  • You’re putting me in the position of saying what I’m about to say which is the slaughter of 200 people is different from the slaughter of 500 people.
  • Michael Ratner: We’re still counting Phil.
  • The Jewish American community is highly responsible for this behavior, for this conduct that’s going on there.
  • How useful was that aircraft carrier (Israel) when we were occupying Iraq and we were invading Afghanistan? It wasn’t at all useful to us.
  • I think its a burden (Israel) I think it’s a millstone around our necks because it says the United States stance is slaughtering brown people.
  • You look at J Street, this great liberal Zionist organization. They’re justifying everything Israel is doing now.
  • There’s only a couple of Jewish organizations that stood up and said this is wrong. Jewish Voices For Peace and Jews Say No.
  • I think there’s an implicit understanding around the world now about why these people are firing rockets.
  • One of things you hear in Israel is the existential threat, in that people are delegitimizing us and I think that’s great news.
  • I see more voices talking about this conduct as just beyond the pale. I feel that the world is regarding this as a central human rights issue.

Guest – Philip Weiss,  founder of Mondoweiss, longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  Philip is the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga.  Weiss is one of the editors of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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Andrew Kadi:

  • I don’t necessarily know that Israel has any real goals that will benefit Israeli society other than possibly the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza, forcing them to move out.
  • They’re leaving Gazans in deplorable conditions. They have unilaterally absolved themselves of their legal obligation under International law to the population in Gaza and have instead declared something that I think nobody else recognizes that Gaza is somehow a hostile territory or an enemy territory.
  • It’s counter-productive if your belief that the goal or the end goal for the Israeli government is peace.
  • The majority of these rocket attacks are pretty small projectiles as anyone who has seen them knows has no chance of actually injuring anyone or causing damage. Some of them are as small as a Coke can.
  • Hamas has deployed larger rockets in last 4 years that can fire through a building. ‘
  • By and large these attacks are being carried out by other groups round the clock. The ones that Israel is referring to are usually other groups that have nothing to do with Hamas.
  • I would say the rocket attacks are a cry for help from Gaza.
  • In the end, Gazans are isolated, there’s a siege, a blockade that Israel’s carrying out. I think that Gazans don’t want to be subject to it anymore.
  • They want to be able to live like any other population.
  • The American Foreign Services committee published a list of American companies directly involved and complicit in the attacks on Gaza.
  • Those companies include Boeing, Hewlitt Packard, Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, General Electric, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon.
  • In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with the 3 tenets of International law.
  • The end of the occupation, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of refugees to return to their homes.
  • Other companies that folks can boycott, Sodastream, Ahava cosmetics, Strauss Group, Osem – Tribe Hummus, Sibeon Company.

Guest - Andrew Kadi, a human rights activist and digital media specialist currently serving on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He’s contributed to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Left Turn and other publications.

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Law and Disorder June 30, 2014


Updates

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Michael Ratner Marks CCR Case Rasul v Bush: Courage To Stand Up At The Right Time

In early 2002, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed two habeas petitions, Rasul v. Bush and Habib v. Bush. This  challenged the U.S. government’s practice of holding foreign nationals captured in connection with its war on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in indefinite detention. This is without counsel and without the right to a trial or to know the charges against them.  Michael Ratner then explains the timeline of how the Supreme Court, over the administration’s objections, agreed in November 2003 to hear the cases of the Guantanamo detainees, and also the case of al Odah v. Bush.  This week’s anniversary marks the historic ruling on June 28th, 2004 that detainees have access to U.S. Courts to challenge their detention.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • We won that in June 28, 2004. We won it in a 6-3 decision. The Center for Constitutional Rights was the only human rights organization on the case. The only one willing to take that case.
  • Many of my colleagues, not me, thought that would be the end of Guantanamo (Bay Prison)
  • There are still 149 people left in Guantanamo, over half of them have been cleared for release. The reason I want to mark this is because it talks about a struggle that in some ways was successful and in some ways not successful.
  • It also talks about the courage of these lawyers that started these cases in the thick of the most anger in the country and . . . fears that we would lose our fund raising.
  • We thought at that time, as I said some of our friends, said that we would close Guantanamo. But since that time there’s been incredible stubborn resistance by all 3 branches of government.
  • Bush first, then Obama, despite promises has failed to live up to them, promises to close Guantanamo. The courts are therefore useless now in this.
  • Congress is going retrograde at a speed unimaginable, trying to ban every transfer for the rest of our days from Guantanamo.
  • Within 2 months of the 911 attacks, President Bush issued Military Order Number 1. It’s November 13, 2001 Military Order, I thought a coup de tat happened in the country. It said the president had the authority to pick anyone, anywhere in the world. Hold them indefinitely, incommunicado and abolish habeas corpus.
  • We tried to get other human rights organizations to do it. No one else to their shame would come aboard with the Center for Constitutional Rights.
  • The Center for Constitutional Rights could’ve gone under for this. Let me be clear. It was a much smaller institution. It didn’t have that much funding. There was a high risk that we were going to get cut off completely.
  • January 11, 2002, they take the people, the first plane load to Guantanamo.
  • We never expected the Supreme Court to take the case in 2003. When it finally did, it accepted the case. It was argued in April 2004. It was decided in our favor on June 28.
  • We then put out a call for other lawyers to join us. Over a hundred lawyers joined us immediately. 600 within a year or two. We then created what I call a mass movement of lawyers to fight this.
  • As a result of the 2004 ruling, our first attorney went down (to Guantanamo) Gita Gutierrez. The big thing that Gita’s visit represented is that we found out about torture at Guantanamo.
  • You begin to understand when a government does incommunicado detention in an offshore facility that doesn’t have any court review, there’s a reason, and the reason is almost entirely torture.
  • There’s been no prosecution. Obama has given them all a huge pass unfortunately. It’s really damaging because what it has done for torture is its saying, torture isn’t necessarily illegal, Obama claims it’s illegal but he didn’t prosecute anybody.
  • So, next time we have another “scare” like this people will say it’s a political issue, we can torture, it works, etc.

Guest - Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Israel Increases Rate of Palestinian Home and Structure Demolition

In the past few months, the Israeli government has stepped up its campaign of Palestinian home demolitions, specifically in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim settlement. United Nations reports show 231 Palestinians had been displaced from their homes in early 2014. This is at a much quicker pace than 2013. Remember the demolishing of homes include livestock pens, fences, water reservoirs, schools, all vital to the livelihood and communal life of Palestinians. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions estimates since 1967, nearly 29 thousand Palestinian homes and livelihood structures were demolished in the Occupied Territories. However, at the same time the Israeli government has announced the construction of thousands of homes and buildings in the settlements of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Dr. Jeff Halper:

  • This is an area called E1, that’s the planner’s jargon.
  • The significance of E1 is that it closes the last north south corridor the Palestinians have from the north of west bank to the south since they can’t come through Jerusalem.
  • Even the United States say if Israel build in E1 and closes that corridor that’s the end of the two state solution.
  • This guy Irwin Moskowitz who is a big casino out in California gives millions to the settlements. He bought for the Israeli government a 10 million dollar state of the art police station. It’s the main police headquarters for all the West Bank that is in the E1.
  • There’s a whole infrastructure of roads leading to Jerusalem, but Israel has still refrained from actually building. The plan is to build 3,500 housing units that absolutely, thickly closes that corridor to Palestinians.
  • The 2 state solution is gone but this (building of E1 area) would be an absolute measure of the ending of the 2 state solution.
  • We’re trying to mobilize international civil society against the occupation. The occupation is not going to end because the Israeli public rise up and end it.
  • They’re living the good life, they’re profiting from the occupation especially from the point of view of testing and developing and selling weapons systems tested on Palestinians.
  • And the governments of the world aren’t doing their job. Governments manage conflicts, they don’t resolve conflicts.
  • So I’m here in the United States to try to speak to activist groups, church groups because the churches here have a very strong moral voice.
  • We’re dependent on the Palestinians for leadership on where to go next. Not  being Palestinians, we can’t tell them what the solution is.
  • I think its urgent we formulate a one state solution. A one democratic bi-national state.
  • I think there has to be a bi-national component in which both peoples have a sense of self expression and limited self determination within the common country.
  • You have to create structures of sharing power.
  • I think the Palestinians would have the ability to achieve a fair amount of parity with Israel within a short amount of time if we create this consociational type of state.
  • Israel is beginning to be more and more of an albatross around the American’s neck.
  • Operation My Brother’s Keeper had nothing to do with these kids who disappeared. It was a stand alone operation that used the disappearance as a trigger for being launched. The whole idea was to crack down on Hamas, to weaken the PA to keep it dependent on Israel.
  • I think what’s happening is we’re in the midst of collapse.
  • Jeff@ICAHD.org

Guest – Dr. Jeff Halper, co-founder and Director of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He was born in 1946 in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He spent ten years as a community worker in Jerusalem aiding low-income Mizrahi families. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel’s strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He is the author of three books, ‘Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century’, ‘An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Possession, Redeeming Israel’, and ‘Obstacles to Peace: A reframing of the Palestinian – Israeli Conflict’. In 2006 Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHD’s work “to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence” and “to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity.”
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Law and Disorder June 2, 2014


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Remembering Dr. Vincent Harding

Last month pioneering historian, theologian and civil rights activist Dr. Vincent Harding had died at the age of 82.  Harding was a close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and wrote King’s famous antiwar speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” King delivered the address at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.

After King was assassinated, Harding became the first director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center and of the Institute of the Black World.  He later became  Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  After serving in the Army for several years Harding became a pacifist and later served as co-chairperson of the social unity group the Veterans of Hope Project.  He’s the author numerous books including There Is A River and Wade in the Water: The Wisdom of the Spirituals.

Dr. George Tinker:

  • Vincent was sometimes called by black activists across the continent, the gentle giant.
  • Giant, not because of his physical size but because of intellectual stature.
  • Last summer we did a conference together speaking to a national conference of Quakers.
  • He was an incredibly soft-spoken and gentle person, yet could be so absolutely incisive in his quiet comments.
  • He was so persuasive that everyone had to pay attention to him.
  • On campus he was either in the midst of a student group trying to quietly cajole them into activism themselves or once the students became activists, he was one of the few faculty that was right there with students walking them through that activism.
  • Every thing in that speech (Beyond Vietnam) is a part of what Vincent lived every day.
  • He was in the Army during the Korean War and became a convert to Gandhi and non-violence theory.
  • His participation to bringing me to Iliff was a clear signal that he was one of those civil rights warriors who was not satisfied with interpreting the civil rights struggle as a black and white issue.
  • When we engaged in protest on the streets of Denver, beginning around 1989, getting ready for the 1992  Columbian Quinscentenary, we had Iliff students who would come out with the American Indian Movement of Colorado to help us protest what we always framed as state supported hate speech.
  • We were never against Italians celebrating their heritage but its the fact that Columbus Day is a federal holiday. It’s a federal celebration then, of the genocide of Indian people.
  • About a year and a half ago he joined Jewish activists and African American activists on a trip to Palestine, the West Bank. He came back deeply affected.
  • He immediately began to see the deep deep connection between the Palestinian struggle for freedom and American Indians on this continent.
  • We’re seeing it still today, US foreign policy is characterized by violence and the threat of violence and if not military violence, economic violence.
  • Vincent and Dr. King were men of conscience who once they understood the truth in Vietnam could not help but speak to it.
  • 18 year old kids don’t have the clear reading of history to fall back on their decision making. (military)
  • His passing is a passing of an era marked by the passing of Maya Angelou. It deeply deeply saddened me because I was hoping this next month to have lunch with him.

Guest – Dr. George Tinker, a colleague of Dr. Vincent Harding at the IIliff School of Theology.  Dr. Tinker. He teaches courses in American Indian cultures, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies and is a frequent speaker on these topics both in the U.S. and internationally. teaches courses in American Indian cultures, history, and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third-World theologies; and justice and peace studies and is a frequent speaker on these topics both in the U.S. and internationally. His publications include American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (2008); Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (2004); and Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Genocide (1993). He co-authored A Native American Theology (2001); and he is co-editor of Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (2003), and Fortress Press’ Peoples’ Bible (2008).

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Law and Disorder February 10, 2014


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Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel: Max Blumenthal

Operation Cast Lead in 2008, is a starting point in the book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel where award winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal shows the reader how a right wing government in Israel rose to power.  His book takes hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics through a cross section of interviews from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault against civil liberties.  Max gives readers a rare look into Israeli society that many will not write about.

Max Blumenthal:

  • The first title was Master Race Democracy.
  • Of course Israel is always portrayed in our media as this plucky little David surrounded by the Arab Goliath. Of course our reality is 180 degrees different.
  • Matzpen warned that this would happen, they took a full page ad in Harretz saying we will become a police state and a nation of murderers.
  • That’s where I come in to show that all of their darkest prophecies have been fulfilled and realized.
  • I take you through Israeli society and through the key institutions of Israeli life to show how its playing out.
  • From my time in Jerusalem where an anti miscegenation movement is burgeoning in the streets of Israel, leading mob attacks on young Palestinian men who are accused of making passes at Jewish women to the convention at the Jerusalem Ramada where key state Rabbis sit on a panel before right-wing settlers, including settler vigilantes leaders of the anti miscegenation movement defend a book, a guide on how and when its permissible to kill non-jews. A guide to genocide which is being distributed in Israeli Army units.
  • Avigdor Lieberman is the man that basically promised to transfer 100s of thousands of Palestinians. He’s a rising force in Israeli society. It’s the youth whose hearts and minds they command.
  • I take you into the Knesset to meet the younger legislators and the rising stars in Lieberman’s party and Netanhayu’s party who are far to the right of Netanyahu. Netanyahu really just commands the hollow center of Israeli politics.
  • Rotem was great because he and other hard core right wingers have this whole philosophy of being dugri or straight. There was nothing I could say to shake him. He looks at me coming in at just another pathetic Jewish liberal who doesn’t really get what it takes to prevent a second holocaust and that’s what he said his goal was.
  • It’s completely different from talking to a Republican in the United States who has to pander to some kind of civil rights sensibility.
  • That’s another thing reviewers missed about my book is that I analyzed these key votes on major anti-democratic laws going back to 2009. Laws like the Nakba Law which basically criminalized observance of Palestine dispossession in 2008. Laws like the Acceptance to Community Law which legitimizes racial and religious discrimination for communities of under 500.
  • These are laws that strip off the veneer of democracy and expose apartheid for what it is.
  • It’s the right-wing that has captured the heart of Israeli society because they have the dynamism, they’re driving the agenda forward. (using a simple mantra – “finish 48″)
  • In 1948 and actually starting in 1947, 750 thousand Palestinian Arabs were expelled to allow the creation of a Jewish state with a Jewish demographic majority, but many stayed behind. 20 percent of the state of Israel is non-Jewish Palestinian.
  • They view Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly as a fifth column, as a trojan horse for the Arab world, for Arab nationalism and Islamism.
  • In order to become a citizen of Israel you have swear loyalty to the Jewish state and that applies to Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
  • You will meet the people who are trying to push back inside Jewish-Israeli society on the pages of my book because they were my roommates, my friends. They took me to the flashpoints of ethnic cleansing and conflict.
  • I would number 700 or less active left wingers who are actively leveling their bodies against the occupation and apartheid.
  • The writings on the wall for these activists that there is very little room for them left in Israeli society.
  • What they’ve (leftists in Israel) done is call to the outside. They’re calling to us. They organized around the boycott from within committee and they’re signing letters asking performers not to come to Israel. They’re signing letters calling on Americans to boycott their country.
  • That is really where the activism of the radical left wing Israelis is going.
  • The Jewish National Fund is supposed to operate within the Green Line only and is probably the leading Jewish non-profit in the world. It receives the most donations from diaspora Jews in the world.
  • Steven Harper the Prime Minister of Canada recently spoke at one of their banquets. They’ve paid Bill Clinton hundreds of thousands to speak at their banquets.
  • They are also the premier organization linked to the Israeli government involved in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • It’s something we talk about a lot. How Zionism is trying to capture Judaism and change what it means to be a Jew and declare us to be who are not only not Zionists but object to this redefinition of Judaism and cast us out and declare us to be anathema.
  • You can see it in my video Feeling the Hate where I go to the heart of Jerusalem and meet American Jews from around the country and they line up around my camera the night before Barack Obama’s historic address in Cairo.
  • Zionism is attracting those who are magnetized by the kind of bellicose identity that it requires and is repelling anyone who has any liberal sensibility or at least throwing them into a moral crisis.
  • I showed up as # 9 on Simon Weisenthal Center’s list of anti-Israel, anti-semites and they called me an anti-semitic Jew, not even a self-hating Jew but a Jew who hates Jews.
  • I was tied with Alice Walker by the way.
  • They literally count the calorie of each Gaza resident with complex mathematical formulas.
  • Barack Obama has never challenged the idea of holding 1.8 million under siege because they possess the wrong ethnicity.
  • When a situation like this is taking place and expanding as Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions says into a “global Gaza” where the techniques that have been used to control people in the Gaza Strip are literally being exported because Israel is the only country that has the ability to basically lab test such a regime of domination.
  • That’s very appealing to people in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, to private prison companies like CCA.
  • Twitter – @maxblumenthal

Guest – Max Blumenthal,  an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a former Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for The Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

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