Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reporting On Developments And Revelations In Israel, Indict, Prosecute, Justice Updates And We’re Being “Tea Bagged”!

Reporting On Developments And Revelations In Israel, Indict, Prosecute, Justice Updates And We’re Being “Tea Bagged”!




Army of Extremists How some military rabbis are trying to radicalize Israeli soldiers

By Christopher Hitchens


Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land. The secular Israeli academic Dany Zamir, who first brought the testimony of shocked Israeli soldiers to light, has been quoted as if the influence of such extremist clerical teachings was something new. This is not the case


I remember being in Israel in 1986 when the chief army "chaplain" in the occupied territories, Rabbi Shmuel Derlich, issued his troops a 1,000-word pastoral letter enjoining them to apply the biblical commandment to exterminate the Amalekites as "the enemies of Israel." Nobody has recently encountered any Amalekites, so the chief educational officer of the Israeli Defense Forces asked Rabbi Derlich whether he would care to define his terms and say whom he meant. Rather evasively—if rather alarmingly—the man of God replied, "Germans." There are no Germans in Judaea and Samaria or, indeed, in the Old Testament, so the rabbi's exhortation to slay all Germans as well as quite probably all Palestinians was referred to the Judge Advocate General's Office. Forty military rabbis publicly came to Derlich's support, and the rather spineless conclusion of the JAG was that he had committed no legal offense but should perhaps refrain in the future from making political statements on the army's behalf.


The problem here is precisely that the rabbi was not making a "political" statement. Rather, he was doing his religious duty in reminding his readers what the Torah actually says. It's not at all uncommon in Israel to read discussions, featuring military rabbis, of quite how to interpret the following holy order from Moses, in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31, Verses 13-18, as quoted from my 1985 translation by the Jewish Publication Society. The Israelites have just done a fairly pitiless job on the Midianites, slaughtering all of the adult males. But, says their stern commander-in-chief, they have still failed him:


Moses, Eleazer the priest, and all the chieftains of the community came out to meet them outside the camp. Moses became angry with the commanders of the army, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, who had come back from the military campaign. Moses said to them, "You have spared every female! Yet they are the very ones who, at the bidding of Balaam, induced the Israelites to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so that the Lord's community was struck by the plague. Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every young woman who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man."


Moses and Eleazar the priest go on to issue some complex instructions about the ritual cleansings that must be practiced after this exhausting massacre has been completed.


Now, it's common to hear people say, when this infamous passage and others like it come up, that it's not intended to be "taken literally." One also often hears the excuse that some wicked things are done "in the name of" religion, as if the wicked things were somehow the result of a misinterpretation. But the nationalist rabbis who prepare Israeli soldiers for their mission seem to think that this book might be the word of God, in which case the only misinterpretation would be the failure to take it literally. (I hate to break it to you, but the people who think that God's will is revealed in scripture are known as "religious." Those who do not think so must try to find another name for themselves.)


Possibly you remember Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the man who in February 1994 unslung his weapon and killed more than two dozen worshippers at the mosque in Hebron. He had been a physician in the Israeli army and had first attracted attention by saying that he would refuse to treat non-Jews on the Sabbath. Now read Ethan Bronner's report in the March 22 New York Times about the preachments of the Israeli army's latest chief rabbi, a West Bank settler named Avichai Rontzski who also holds the rank of brigadier general. He has "said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath … is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred." Those of us who follow these things recognize that statement as one of the leading indicators of a truly determined racist and fundamentalist. Yet it comes not this time in the garb of a homicidal lone-wolf nut bag but in the full uniform and accoutrement of a general and a high priest: Moses and Eleazar combined. The latest news, according to Bronner, is that the Israeli Defense Ministry has felt compelled to reprimand Rontzski for "a rabbinal edict against showing the enemy mercy" that was distributed in booklet form to men and women in uniform (see Numbers 31:13-18, above).


Peering over the horrible pile of Palestinian civilian casualties that has immediately resulted, it's fairly easy to see where this is going in the medium-to-longer term. The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein's rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Once considered highly extreme, such biblical exegeses are moving ever closer to the mainstream. It's high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people's land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.


Israel's Dirty Secrets in Gaza: It Was Pure Murder

Donald Macintyre, The Independent. March 21, 2009.

Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms.


Israel onfronted a major challenge on Thursday night over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation. In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 metres from a house commandeered by troops.

Another soldier, describing how a mother and her children were shot dead by a sniper after they turned the wrong way out of a house, says the "atmosphere" among troops was that the lives of Palestinians were "very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and – I call it murder – to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away."

The accounts, which also describe apparently indiscriminate destruction of property, were given at a post-operation discussion by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course at the Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. The transcript of the session in front of the head of the course – details from which were published by the newspaper Haaretz – prompted the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit yesterday to announce a military police investigation into the claims. Haaretz said the airing of the "dirty secrets" would make it more difficult for Israelis to dismiss the claims as Palestinian propaganda. The course principal, Danny Zamir, told the newspaper that after being "shocked" by the testimonies on 13 February he told the IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi he "feared a serious moral failure" in the IDF.

In one account, an infantry squad leader describes how troops released a family who had been held in a room of their house for several days. He said: "The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay... The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him. He shot them straight away. I don't think he felt too bad about it, because, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to, the lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

A second squad leader, who described the killing of the elderly woman, says he argued with his commander over loose rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, soldiers had complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the centre of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist." The squad leader said: "To write 'death to the Arabs' on walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics."

Ehud Barak, Israel's Defence Minister, said: "I say to you that from the chief of staff down to the last soldier, the most moral army in the world stands ready to take orders from the government of Israel. I have no doubt that every incident will be individually examined."

But Israeli human rights organisations, including B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, called for an independent investigation and complained that the military police inquiry had only been announced after Haaretz published the story, "three weeks after the relevant materials reached the Chief of the General Staff. This tardiness follows a pattern of failures to investigate suspicions of serious crimes".

Amos Harel, the paper's respected military correspondent who broke the story, wrote that Mr Zamir was sentenced in 1990 for refusing to guard a settlers' ceremony at Joseph's tomb in the West Bank. But he added that a reading of the transcript shows that Mr Zamir "acts out of a deep concern for the spirit of the IDF".

In their own words: Soldiers' stories

Squad leader Aviv

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and – I call it murder – to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'."

Soldier Ram

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."




Cosponsor the State Secrets Protection Act 
This is a bill to deny presidents the power to keep information secret from even a closed court of law by claiming "state secrets." While this power was abused greatly by President Bush, this bill was reintroduced by leading Democrats because President Obama began abusing this power. This is a rare instance of Congress standing up for itself (er, for the courts, but walking begins with baby steps) despite the party membership of those involved. Your representative and senators should be willing to sign onto this regardless of their party or politics. The House version (HR 984) has 16 cosponsors. The Senate version (S 417) has 6. Learn more: 

Impeach Jay Bybee 
If Congress wanted all of its powers to start flowing back up Capitol Hill, it would reclaim the power of impeachment, and it has a perfect opportunity. John Yoo didn't write those torture memos alone. His boss was Jay Bybee, and Bybee's signature is on memos that amount to confessions to felonies. Meanwhile, Bybee is serving as a federal judge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That the people of San Francisco and their Congresswoman who serves as Speaker of the House tolerate this is a disgrace. Any member of Congress of any party and from any state can introduce an article of impeachment or a bill to initiate impeachment hearings. Learn more: 

Ask Eric Holder to Appoint a Special Prosecutor 
In June 2008, 56 Democratic Congress members, led by Congressman John Conyers, wrote to Attorney General Mukasey asking for a Special Prosecutor. Conyers and Congressman Jerrold Nadler wrote to Mukasey again in December 2008. Please ask them to re-send these letters to the new Attorney General, Eric Holder. Nadler says he's drafting a new letter. The demand for prosecution has been supported by many members of the House and Senate. Almost 200 organizations are calling for a special prosecutor, as are almost 50,000 Americans. Ask your representative and senators to work with Nadler or on their own to publicly ask Holder to do what the law requires. Learn more: 

Co-sponsor the Employee Free Choice Act 
This bill would enforce the basic human right to assemble and self-organize, to form a union in the workplace free of intimidation and retribution from employers. This is a bill to restore power beyond Congress, to the people. You don't have to tell congress members that, but you do have to show it to them and compel them to back this. The House version (HR 1409) already has more than enough cosponsors to pass (224), but the Senate version (S 560) has only 39 and needs 50 (or 60 if the Senate leadership chooses to allow a filibuster to block it. If unions won't pressure senators hard for this, that doesn't mean future larger unions can't be made to fight for justice. We know they won't if they don't exist. Learn more: 

End the Filibuster 
Ask your senators to ask Senator Reid to support changing the filibuster rule (which can be done with a simple majority) to henceforth require only a simple majority to bring a bill to a vote. It is obscene to continue with a system in which senators representing 12 percent of the country can block all the efforts of the House and Senate. Learn more: 

Cosponsor Single-Payer Healthcare 
The United States National Health Care Act or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, is a House bill, HR 676, that now has 72 cosponsors. Some members of the Senate supported this bill when they were in the House, but there is not yet any bill in the Senate. Your far-right elected officials will call this "socialized medicine" but it uses private doctors, private hospitals, complete freedom of choice (unlike the current system), saves businesses billions, and nets 2.6 million new jobs. Your moderate-right elected officials will tell you they want to just follow the president's plan, but unless they do their jobs and represent you by pushing for single-payer there will not be even a partial solution to our healthcare disaster in the final compromise bill. You can't compromise unless you have a starting position. And that requires putting your name on the line. Learn more: 

Cosponsor Resolution Rejecting Treaties Made Without Congress 
Bush made a treaty with Iraq for three more years of war, without congressional approval, and President Obama has declared in a signing statement that he has the power to make treaties without congress "interfering," despite the Constitution's requirement that two-thirds of the Senate approve any treaty. Feel free to mention Bush or Obama depending on who you're talking to. A House resolution (HRes 72) would express opposition to Bush's Iraq treaty unless approved by Congress. It has 6 cosponsors. Many groups and individuals are urging Pelosi to support this. No Senate resolution or bill has yet been introduced. Learn more: 

Oppose Escalation of War in Afghanistan 
Even when Congress members won't use their powers and choose to behave as advisors to the throne, it is possible for them to say the right thing and for that to help build the willingness to act. A bipartisan group of fourteen members of Congress recently wrote to the president asking him to reconsider his proposal to ship more troops to Afghanistan. Your representative and senators should send similar letters. Learn more: 

Promise to Vote No Money for War Escalation, War Extension, Military Enlargement, or Bankers 
Congress plans to vote on another supplemental spending bill for 2009 to continue the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and expand the latter. This will be for $75.5 billion on top of the $68.5 billion already stolen from our children and forked over. We want commitments to vote no on appropriating or authorizing any such spending, unless amended to be used purely for withdrawal. Enough is enough. We have seen huge struggles over this in past years that should not be allowed to dissipate because the wars are rebranded with the face of a new commander in chief. We do not have another $75.5 billion to spend on death and destruction and the antagonizing of the Muslim world. That money must go to human needs. 

Another $130 billion or so will be marked for war funding in the upcoming FY 2010 budget as well, on top of another $557 billion or so in military spending, not counting various pieces of Pentagon spending and the military spending scattered across various other departments. In other words, the plan is to increase the largest military budget in world history. More than half of every dollar of income tax now goes to killing rather than living, investment in weapons and only weapons is destroying our economy, we desperately need jobs, green energy, mass transportation, healthcare, infrastructure, and schools, our government has already put our grandchildren in deep debt to China, and the plan is to INCREASE this approach. It's time to say No. We need a commitment to vote No on appropriating or authorizing any spending that extends illegal wars and fails to significantly decrease the wasteful spending of the Pentagon. If that means passing an amendment to the budget, so be it. If it means revising the budget until it will pass, so be it. We waste some $140 billion per year maintaining military bases around the world that damage our relations with the world. We dump billions and billions into weapons systems that do not work or are designed to combat enemies we do not have. Investing in non-military areas creates more and better-paying jobs, and without all the blowback. We need change, and we will not get it by voting, or by watching basketball. Change comes through organized public pressure. Learn more: 

Cosponsor the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act 
Congress passed a law in March permanently banning exports of nearly all U.S.-made cluster bombs. But Congress has not banned the use of cluster bombs by the U.S. military. The Senate version of a bill to do so (S 416) has 23 cosponsors, and the House version (HR 981) has 24. Learn more: 

Let Wall Street Bankers Try Working for a Living 
We need an understanding in congress that we will not tolerate any more bailouts for bankers, and we need leadership in efforts to undo what has been done, take our money back, allow fraudulent finance companies to fail, and fund the real economy. We want New Orleans rebuilt. We want a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. We want a living wage minimum wage. And we want investment of the size traditionally reserved for weapons makers and now expanded for bankers to go, instead, into the creation of non-military non-Wall Street jobs. We want money for every useful local and state need and pet project any elected representative has in mind, and we want our representatives to begin seeing potential funding for human needs when they look at massive military and Wall Street waste. We want local groups that work on domestic issues to see the same thing, and we should use these visits to build such coalitions. Here are two more things we DO want: 

Cosponsor the Universal Prekindergarten Act 
This House bill (HR 555) would assist States in establishing a universal prekindergarten program to ensure that all children 3, 4, and 5 years old have access to a high-quality full-day, full-calendar-year prekindergarten education. It has 6 cosponsors. 

Cosponsor a Department of Peace 
This House bill (HR 808) has 65 cosponsors. Learn more: 

You can read any bill and check the list of cosponsors at: 

You can find your representative and senators at: 

Getting Organized: and


The the Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals, or the Robert Jackson Steering Committee for short was formed at a September 2008 conference in Andover, Mass. Watch video


Blivet: A World War II Military Term Meaning “Ten Pounds Of Manure In A Five-Pound Bag”…Now…Rush Limbaugh




We’re Being Tea Bagged And It Is Serious

The Opposition has found a workable political gimmick and rallying cry. They have begun to show some real organizational sense in this effort.  It is not to be taken lightly and must be watched and dealt with!

Obama's Taxes — “Time for Another Tea Party? Another Revolution Is Brewing.”


“The Silent Majority Is Silent No More!”

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