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Law and Disorder October 20, 2014


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian Updates Listeners On The Revictimization Relief Act

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Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour

Early October marks the 47th anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevarra’s capture and assassination in Bolivia. Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith have authored the book Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. Michael Smith has recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires to promote the Spanish language version of the book. Michael explains how Che was a threat to the United States by helping Cuba take over their own economy and why its important to set the story straight about Che’s death. Review of Who Killed Che?

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Weekend of Resistance: Ferguson, St. Louis Protests and the National Lawyers Guild

Last weekend, thousands of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri just outside of St. Louis demonstrated during a long planned Weekend of Resistance to the militarized suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the the killings of unarmed black teenagers including Michael Brown two months ago. Demonstrators traveled from cites across the country to participate in protests against police violence – including sit ins and vigil marches. Meanwhile, National Lawyers Guild members have been providing legal support, legal observation and felony representation for people arrested during the weekend. We catch up with St Louis Lawyers Guild member attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke who has been working long hours representing arrested demonstrators. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis and Maggie also explains the challenges in helping those arrested get processed through a unique court system.

Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke:

  • People poured into the streets after the killing of Mike Brown and have pretty much been occupying various locations around the St. Louis area and protesting ever since.
  • We at the National Lawyers Guild have mobilized close to 100 legal observers at this point to come down and do the observing and training people who are local.
  • We’ve also been connecting people who are facing felony charges with representation as well as backing up the Arch City Defenders who are handling the bulk of the ordinance violations and charges.
  • In August there were lots of chemical weapons used, tear gas every night. I was tear gassed multiple times. Other major mobilizations that I’ve been to, they last a couple of days, maybe the duration of a week, but this has been a continued onslaught of less than lethal weapons.
  • There are a lot of difference agencies on the ground for law enforcement. There’s the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, The Sheriff’s Department and of course we have 90 different municipalities in St. Louis County, each with its own police force.
  • This is what it takes to fight back. People are out there every day on the streets.
  • We’ve had NLG members pour in from all over which has really been fun getting to know all these people.
  • Monsanto, which is based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, made a donation recently of a million dollars to various community groups doing work on the ground. On the other hand we’ll have a local pizza company board up and then the owner will train a gun on protesters to intimidate them.
  • The demands have varied depending on the organizations. Indicting Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown is at the top of everyone’s list. In order to achieve that you would have to have demand number 2 met which is that Don McCullough, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney recuse himself from this case. People think that he’s conflicted in that his father was a white police officer who was shot by an African American man and killed.
  • Another big demand is that the many many municipal charges that people are facing be dropped.
  • In addition we desperately need reform of our municipal court system. The structure is insane.
  • We’re hopeful that if we can demand jury trials for all of those arrested, we may in fact be able to crash the system.
  • We have 40 people now who are facing felonies.
  • The Organization For Black Struggle and  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Guest – Attorney Maggie Ellinger-LockeNational Lawyers Guild member and activist, and a partner with Ellinger & Assoc., P.C., a Law Firm in O’Fallon, Missouri.

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Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than 4Years

Last week former Chicago police commander Jon Burge who was convicted of lying about torturing more than 100 African-American men at Chicago police stations will be released from the Butner Correctional Institution and reporting to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. This, as many listeners know is an ongoing story that we’ve been reporting on for many years with Attorney Flint Taylor with the People’s Law Office in Chicago who worked on the case representing some of the torture victims. We talk about why Jon Burge was released and his recent article titled Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years. Flint reminds listeners that the total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his collaborating officers, exceeds $120,000,000.

 Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Burge is a now notorious police torturer here in Chicago. He shot from detective up to commander of a police station based on torturing African-Americans suspects into giving confessions and sending many of them to death row and to life in prison.
  • Ultimately, we were, along with community activists, expose this pattern and practice of 100 cases of police torture.
  • This was by electric shock, by bagging people and other kinds of racist brutality.
  • We exposed it and nothing happened for many years. Ultimately the Feds, indicted Burge, several years ago, not for torture because the statute of limitations had run on that, but rather for perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • He was convicted by a predominantly white jury and ultimately sentenced to 41/2 years in the penitentiary.
  • After 31/2 years, he was permitted to go to a halfway house for 6 months.
  • What’s happening now? What’s happening with regard to the men who are still in the penitentiary, decades later, and there are almost 20 of them, based on tortured confessions.
  • How about the men who testified against Burge, who were his victims?
  • Those men, unlike Burge who gets a pension now, and the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld his right, even as a convicted felon to collect that money. These men get nothing, have nothing.
  • There are as many as 90 of those men on the streets now, with no health care, with no treatment for psychological damage.
  • The majority of city council members support at this point reparations for those men. The reparations for those men would be 20 million dollars.
  • The same amount of the money the city spent to defend Burge in the cases of the exonerated men.
  • We’re now at a sensitive stage, where the mayor, Emanuel has had to come out. He’s no friend to the anti-torture forces, and he’s been asked repeatedly on this.
  • He has played both sides against the middle, its time right now where he’s going to have to fish or cut bait.
  • We had the strong support of Karen Louis who was a wonderful challenger and she has now had to withdraw from the (mayoral) race because of “health issues.” She was a strong supporter of the reparations ordinance.

Guest – Attorney  G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years.

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Law and Disorder October 6, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Moazzam Begg Freed After Terrorism Charges Dropped
  • Michael Ratner: 149 Inmates In Guantanamo Bay Prison – 79 Approved For Transfer

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Evaluation

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian draw a balance sheet on the record of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

  • Holder approved drone killing of American citizen al-Awlaki without due process.
  • Holder failed to prosecute any of the Bush Administration officials who were openly admitted torturers.
  • Holder abrogated the responsibility in holding corporate criminals accountable. Wall Street.
  • Holder settled with HSBC for 2 billion, the bank was caught laundering money for drug cartels yet no prosecution.
  • With-Holder prosecuted whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, James Risen, Jeremy Hammond, Fox News Reporter,

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, a nonprofit charitable foundation providing support to the nonviolent movement for social change. Before that she was executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is author of the book “Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance” (City Lights, 2013) as well as several reports on policing and the First Amendment.

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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Academic Freedom & Political Dissent: A Conversation with Katherine Franke and the Community

We continue to report on Professor Steven Salaita’s case and the concerns regarding established principles of academic freedom. We hear a presentation by Katherine Franke, Professor of Law at Columbia University. Listeners may recall that Professor Salaita was unhired 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 last month on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to unhire Professor Salaita. Katherine Franke discussed Salaita’s case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign late last month.

Speaker – 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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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 July 14, 2014


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Campaign Demanding Proper Health Care For Incarcerated COINTELPRO Target Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

A campaign was recently launched demanding immediate health care for political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. Once the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and minister of justice for the Black Panther Party, Al-Amin was one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO. Now 70 years old, he has been held in a federal prison at Florence, Colorado since 2006 where he is serving a life sentence for what many claim was the wrongful conviction in 2002 for shooting two deputy sheriffs. At the time, four leading Muslim organizations – CAIR, the AMC, ISNA and the Muslim American Society – issued a joint statement: “The charges against Imam Jamil are especially troubling because they are inconsistent with what is known of his moral character and past behavior as a Muslim.”

Al-Amin has multiple health issues have rapidly accelerated, including dental problems, a swollen jaw, broken teeth and swollen legs, ankles and feet, and has lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks, likely the result of recently-diagnosed cancer. Recently, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Al-Amin.

Attorney Karima Al-Almin:

  • I met Jamil on July 1st 1967. I had graduated from college and started a job on that day. He walked into the job where I was to see someone who he was staying with.
  • At that time he was under house arrest and he could only stay in the borough of Manhattan, the Bronx and then William Kunstler’s house up there in Westchester county.
  • He invited me to go to lunch. The lunch was with Louis Farrakhan. So I met him on the same day, we joke about that but I married Jamil.
  • In May of 1967 he was elected chairperson of SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • Based on the fact that he didn’t appear for trial in Maryland for inciting to riot charge which was later dismissed, he was put on the 10 most wanted list in May 1970.
  • For 19 months he was being sought and not found but then he was found and capture in October 1971. He was attempting to clean up New York City’s drug problem.
  • There was an H. Rap Brown Anti-Dope Campaign. As a result he was captured in what was labeled as an “armed robbery.” He did go to trial and William Kunstler and Howard Moore defended him.
  • He was given a sentence of 5-15 years. He served 5 years in the New York State prison system and then he got out in 1976.
  • After getting out in October 1976 he can come to Atlanta where I had moved.
  • He spent years, establishing a Muslim community again cleaning up the neighborhood making it safe for families and children.
  • In May of 1999 he was stopped which ended up being an illegal stop outside of Atlanta city limits. He was charged with driving a stolen car which he did not know about.
  • In January of 2000 he was given a date to appear in court on those charges there was a storm and it was postponed. He didn’t know he was supposed to return and a warrant was issued in March 2000. That’s when the incident happened.
  • A Fulton County deputy was killed and one was shot and then we had the trial in 2002. There were so many problems with the trial. There were so many constitutional violations during the trial. As a result he was found guilty in March 2002 and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
  • Georgia in 2003 tried to get him transferred and held in a federal facility, but it didn’t come to happen until July 2007. They were moving him based on his popularity.
  • Georgia (the state of) is paying a per diem to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for him to be housed.
  • It goes back to what he thought was a dental problem about a year and a half ago. He developed abscesses. He was unable to get out of bed.
  • A petition has already been sent to President Obama, Eric Holder and Charles Samuels.
  • Call ADMAX – 719-784-9464.
  • Create an email and fax flood. Email FLM/execassistant@bop.gov or use the form at http://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp (location Florence ADMAX USP). Fax 719-784-5290. Jamil Al-Amin, #99974555
  • He dared to step out when he was 23 years old to speak out about injustices and make a difference.

Guest – Attorney Karima Al-Amin is an attorney at law and the wife of political prisoner Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. In addition to her private practice, Mrs. Al-Amin continues to work with attorneys in appealing her husband’s conviction and in working on his civil lawsuits challenging First Amendment and religious violations. Mrs. Al-Amin is a member of several legal and community organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Clarkston Business Association, and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers (GAML).

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US Attorney General Ramsey Clark:

  • I met first through FBI memos, a stack that reached floor to ceiling. He had a wonderful talent to irritate the FBI.
  • The country needs that sort of skill. So I got a lot of memos before I even met him.
  • He committed the supreme offense in the hierarchy of offenses of the FBI that is he embarrassed the bureau by making them look foolish cause they couldn’t catch him.
  • The legal staff were cheering him on. He made our day with narrow escapes. After this Congress enacted this absurd statute in his honor that shows he was a productive citizen concerned for our welfare.
  • He’s big strong tall guy and he has to duck under that door on the other side of that glass that you meet him through, he looked smaller.
  • Usually his energy level is very high. His energy level is way down, he looked frail in spite of his large frame.
  • Went back Sunday and his condition was the same, confirmed. He’s got a real health problem that needs to be addressed.
  • I think ideally he’d go to the Mayo Clinic first, get the thorough work up and diagnosis and everything. If its going to be long range treatment get him over to North Carolina.
  • The main thing is he needs the help of caring people from all over the country. We have to organize that to pressure the United States to do the only moral thing.

Guest – Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War and continued on a radical path, defending the underdog, defending the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.

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U.S. Government To Prosecute 67-year-old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh

In the fall of 2013, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea Odeh, a 67 year old Palestinian American community activitist and teacher in her Chicago home for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court. She was charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh had allegedly failed to disclose her time in an Israeli prison 45 years ago. In 1969 Rasmea Odeh, her father and fiancee were brutally tortured in an Israel relating to a bombing at a Jerusalem supermarket. Israel extracted a confession from Odeh, and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.

Odeh is Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The events bring together disenfranchised women, mostly recent immigrants, from Arabic-speaking countries. Odeh is scheduled for trial at a Detroit Federal court in September. If convicted she could be imprisoned, have her citizenship revoked and be deported.  Human rights campaigners in the United States are calling on the Obama administration to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian-American community organizer in Chicago who is accused of lying on a citizenship application two decades ago.

Attorney Michael Deutsch:

  • She was arrested Israel military and secret police in February of 1969. Her family, her father and two sisters were also arrested, taken out of the house in the middle of the night.
  • She was then transported by herself to a prison in Ramallah. On the way she was brutally beaten, when she arrived at the prison she was beaten again to the point where her whole body turned black.
  • She was then transferred to another prison which is called the Russian compound which is in the West Jerusalem.
  • There she was horrifically beaten subject to electronic torture, alligator clips to her breasts and genitals.
  • Prisoners and soldiers came into her room, she was raped repeatedly. She was raped with sticks. She was denied food, denied sleep, this went on for 45 days until she gave in and confessed.
  • Her father was brought in a room with her and they said her father was going to rape her. Her father of course refused and they beat her father to the point of unconsciousness and they dragged him out.
  • She was accused of being involved in two bombings one at a British counsel and one at an Israeli grocery store.
  • When she was brought into an alleged court, which was a military court run by soldiers, she renounced her confession and said that she was innocent. That was ignored and she was convicted of these bombings and being a member of an illegal organization and given a life sentence.
  • Ultimately in 1979, she was traded with 70 other Palestinian prisoners for the return of an Israeli soldier where she was taken to Syria, then Lebanon then to Jordan where she lived til 1994. She obtained a VISA to come to the United States.
  • Basically for almost the following ten years she’s been working as a community activist in Chicago particularly with the Arab-American Action Network.
  • In 2010 there were all these raids by the FBI toward anti-war activists and the executive director of the AAAN. He was subpoenaed to a grand jury after the FBI raided his home and took all his papers.
  • They claim that he was providing material support for the PFLP and as a result the whole AAAN was put under investigation and the grand jury subpoenaed all the documents of the organization.
  • As a result of this investigation into the AAAN, the US attorney in Chicago sent word to Washington that they wanted to get Rasmea’s files from Israel.
  • In a year or two years they got the records or alleged to be her records of arrest, conviction and sentence by the Israeli military court.
  • I don’t believe a conviction or arrest by the IDF and a conviction by an Israeli military tribunal is consistent with International Law, fundamental fairness or due process.
  • One of the things were going to say is that the conviction and arrest can’t be given any kind of credit in a U.S. courtroom because its fundamentally unfair and shouldn’t be considered.
  • The question is whether she answered those questions with an intent to falsely procure her naturalization.
  • I would add the judge in this case has been a fervent supporter of Israel since the 50s.
  • The Israeli tribunals are not only based on torture but illegal occupation. They invade a people’s land and set up these military courts.
  • The question in my mind in Rasmea’s trial is how are they going to keep out the issue of torture? Which is want they’re going to want to do.
  • To support Rasmea Odeh, contact the Arab-American Action Network
  • CCR Statement

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch, after clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970 where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.

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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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E1Police israel_settlements
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 February 10, 2014


 Updates:

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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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