Israeli defence minister: “I choose the Islamic State”

At a “security” conference in Tel Aviv last week, top-level Israeli speakers argued the case for viewing Israel as being in the same trench as the so-called Islamic State.

It sounds like an unlikely thing for me to be reporting, but it happened all the same. “Islamic State”, a hideously violent extremist group, has made very few rhetorical statements against Israel. It has certainly engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric, and terrorists linked to Islamic State have carried out anti-Semitic attacks in the West – but that is a very different thing from targeting Israel itself (and in fact anti-Semitic attacks in the West only fuel the false Zionist narrative about Israel being the only safe place for Jews).

But, aside from the odd stray missile, the group has never targeted Israel. Most of its attacks have been focused on those it considered infidels in the the Middle East. These include native Christians and non-Sunni Muslims in the Arab world, but the largest part of its victims have been ordinary Sunni Muslims.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

Israel’s ‘war’ against BDS is increasingly desperate

A fascinating article by a Jerusalem Post Knesset reporter earlier this month gives quite the insight into the increasingly desperate state of the Israeli “war” against BDS. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement aims to hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

At first ignored, and later derided, the BDS movement has by now become one of the top strategic threats to Israel’s ability carry on the business of occupation as usual. Formally founded in 2005, the movement aims to encourage people of conscious around the world to boycott Israel products, dis-invest from Israeli businesses and to put pressure on governments to implement sanctions against Israel.

And over the last 11 years, the movement has achieved some impressive results, despite an enormous and well-funded backlash by Israel’s powerful supporters in the West. Examples are too numerous to detail, but the most recent victory has been the move of the United Methodist Church in the US to divest its $20-billion pension fund of any stake in five Israeli banks – excluded for their involvement in illegal Israeli settlements built on confiscated Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Read more over at MEMO.

Buyer beware: Israeli spy tools may be spying right back

Last month I wrote about Israel’s high-tech industry and how integrated it is with with state intelligence and military agencies. Top figures in the same agencies that systematically spy on and persecute Palestinian civilians often later go on to work in the private sector.

One reader of that article alerted me to another such “revolving door” figure. Matan Caspy, the co-founder and head of operations at the firm which sells the Wifi spy boxes I wrote about listed on his LinkedIn page that he was for eight years a “special operation agent and team leader” with the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.

Four years after he left he would found the firm, Rayzone. Is the idea that he and his friends and colleagues at the Shin Bet do not still stay in touch and share information the least bit credible? Of course not.

Caspy boasting about his links to Israeli spooks might not seem the brightest thing to do for a former spy. But apparently, high-tech investors and buyers seems to love the idea that their spy gear is made by an ex-Israeli spy. (Since I wrote that last article on Rayzone, his LinkedIn has been deleted. But I made copies, so you can still read it here.)

But revelations in the Wall Street Journal last month suggest an intriguing possibility: what if the Rayzone “InterApp Interception System” (designed to spy on Wifi connections within range of a small box) also clandestinely spies on the foreign state agencies it is marketed to?

The new revelations show there is a precedent.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

Israel’s fanatical settlers can get away with murder – literally

Just before Christmas, a shocking video was broadcast on Israeli television. It showed a large group of Israeli settlers at a wedding celebration dancing and singing. The clip was quickly dubbed the ” wedding of hate” because of the violent nature of the event.

In the clip, the wedding guests wave guns, knives and what is apparently a Molotov cocktail. One of them then stabs a photo of a Palestinian baby. It was a very specific photo.

According to the reports, it depicted Ali Dawabsha, an 18-month-old child burned to death by Israeli fanatics. His home in Duma, near Nablus was attacked in a July fire-bombing. Both Ali’s parents died in agony after suffering severe burns in the attack.

Playing both sides in Syria

For several years now in this column I have argued that the strategic aim of both Israel and the US in the Syria conflict has been to to actively prolong the war. If you believe their rhetoric about wanting to encourage “stability” in the region, this would seem unlikely. But scratch beneath the talk about human rights and democracy and it’s not hard to see the reality of imperial self-interest lying beneath.

Over the course of 2015, I have also used this column to show how a most unlikely alliance has played out in the south-western reaches of Syria: one between Israel and al-Qaeda’s officially-recognised franchise there – Jabhat al-Nusra.

Israel has been providing logistical support to al-Qaeda in Syria by treating their wounded fighters in its hospitals and sending them back to fight against the Syrian regime. UN reports have suggested that it may also be arming them.

It is well known that the US has been training and arming rebel groups in Syria. Although the US media routinely claims these are “moderate” rebels (in contrast with the extremists of the so-called Islamic State) the reality is that the US and its allies in the Gulf dictatorships have been giving arms and training to rebels who either “defect” to al-Qaeda soon after being trained or, under the rubric of the “Free Syrian Army” openly fight in alliance with al-Qaeda.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

Israel wants the civil war in Syria to continue

From before Christmas:

This weekend Israeli occupation forces bombed out an entire apartment building in Syria, in order to target a leader of the Lebanese resistance forces: Samir Quntar, who died in the attack.

It showed once again Israel doing what it does best: killing Arab civilians. There is a long history of Israeli “assassinations” indiscriminately targeting whole civilian areas, ostensibly in order to kill a political, military or activist enemy. The other aim of such Israeli terror attacks is to send a direct message to Palestinian and other Arab civilians: give in, accept Israeli occupation and stop supporting resistance (in any form, whether armed or unarmed).

In 1972 Israeli agents used a car bomb to murder Ghassan Kanafani in Beirut. He was an important Palestinian writer and an activist with the Marxist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. At same car bomb killed his young niece Lamis during the attack.

When they can catch them, Israeli strikes against resistance leaders in Gaza systematically blow up the homes and cars of those leaders, targeting their families at the same time. During the last Israeli war against the civilian population of Gaza in 2014 (during which Israel murdered 551 Palestinian children), Israel was unable to get to Muhammad Deif, the military mastermind behind Hamas’ armed wing, so instead they blew up his home, murdering his family.

Read the rest over at MEMO.

The hypocrisy that underlies Cameron’s Muslim Brotherhood ‘review’

So after much prevarication, a summary of Cameron’s “intelligence-led” review into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood has finally been released, sneaked out just before the Christmas break where it will gain little attention from press or MPs.

What a farce this document is – or at least the 12-page summary of the full (secret) review, which is all that has been released. As I predicted from the start, this was a political stitch-up, concocted to keep tyrants in the Gulf and Egypt happy, and to keep arms deals with the bloody kings and princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE flowing.

In a written statement to MPs Thursday, Cameron said that the review supports “the conclusion that membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism” and that “parts of the Muslim Brotherhood have a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism.”

Read the rest over at MEMO.

The UN’s ambiguous role in Palestine

The United Nations is supposed to be the guardian of peace and justice in the world. Founded in 1945 “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,” the UN was sadly flawed from its inception.

But those familiar with the struggle for Palestinian human rights will know about the many ways the authority of the UN is cited to back the right to Palestinian self determination and to the return of Palestinian refugees. UN General Assembly and even Security Council resolutions are cited tirelessly in reference to the illegality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights.

And well they might be: citing the authority of international law is a useful and persuasive tool in campaigning for human rights.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides essential services to Palestinian refugees both in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in regional Palestinian refugee camps. And there is also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on 29 November each year.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

The arrogance of Israeli spy firms

Israel has long been a global hub of terrorism. It is part of a global terrorist network run by the US empire. Israel’s spy agencies, such as the Mossad, are a notorious gang of killers, kidnappers and thugs.

Israel’s weapons industry has been a great asset to the cause of US imperialism over the years, arming various dictators and counter-revolutionary forces around the world at times when it was inconvenient for the hegemon to do so directly. The Iran-Contra scandal is a case in point.

Another example was Israeli aid for various other reactionary dictatorships in Latin America in the 1980s. The author of a book about the history of the AK-47 automatic rifle tells the story about how Osama bin Laden’s own Kalashnikov was provided by Israel via the CIA: it had originally bean seized in Lebanon after PLO fighters were made to evacuate Beirut in 1982.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

The Mossad accelerates its strategy against BDS

One year ago I wrote about the Mossad’s strategyto combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. In part, I based my argument on the analysis of former Mossad director Shabatai Shavit, who had written an important, and under-noticed, opinion piece about it in Haaretz, Israel’s liberal daily newspaper.

In that piece Shavit had argued, in a most sinister fashion, that “in this age of asymmetrical warfare” Israeli spy agencies are not yet “using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power.” To me, this seemed tantamount to a declaration of war on the BDS movement. I maintain that in the long term, as Israel becomes more and more desperate in its (mostly failed) attempts to combat BDS, the more likely it is to carry out some sort of violent attack on BDS activists.

It’s already very difficult for Israel to combat BDS. It’s something akin to trying to against fight a shifting sand dune. BDS is a diffuse and broad movement, which, although it has popular and influential figures supporting it, has no central leadership or cadres that Israel could remove through its various nefarious means. More fundamentally, it’s pretty hard to force people to buy Israel products, or make them participate in Israeli propaganda initiatives against their will or interest. Furthermore, although some people can be bought-off, intimidated, or otherwise coerced into silence, it’s pretty much impossible to stop everyone talking about an idea or a strategy.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop Israel trying.

Continue reading over at MEMO.

Syria vote is Jeremy Corbyn’s first real test

So here we are again. David Cameron seems determined to plough Britain into another war in another Arab country. This time in Syria.

To be precise, Britain has been involved in the covert destabilisation of Syria for years. Western spy agencies (including the Israelis) have been involved in arming and supplying assorted extremist militias and gangs at war with the Assad regime in Syria – including those allied to al-Qaeda.

The overall aim of such meddling, as I have argued before, is not to defeat the Assad regime outright, or to defeat the “Islamic State” outright, but actually to keep feeding the civil war. The logic, in the words of one former Israeli diplomat, is to “let both [sides] bleed”. As long as Arabs are busy with internal wars, they will not be fighting Israeli occupation or the West, so the cynical logic goes.

But now, of course, Cameron wants to deepen British involvement in the country by bombing “Islamic State” positions. He’s chosen his moment for this cleverly, coming as it does soon after the Islamic State atrocity in Paris.

Read more over at MEMO.

Syriza’s U-turn on Israel is now complete

Or: “Beware of Social Democrats Bearing Gifts:”

Syriza was a popular leftist political party which was swept to power in Greek elections on its promise to end years of IMF-and EU-imposed austerity.

By now, though, the party’s leadership has sold out its principles, implementing the very same austerity it was elected to oppose, even after a massive “No” vote in a summer referendum on a new bailout that came with further severe austerity conditions.

This led to the departure of Yanis Varifakis, the finance minister, and a big split, with many leaving to form a breakaway party. Tsipras did manage to come back to power in new elections though, albeit on a reduced mandate.

As I have written before, in power the Syriza-led government has reneged on other promises too, such as those of its once anti-militarist foreign policy. Their electoral manifestos once included the promise of “abolition of military cooperation with Israel.” In power, their government in fact continued the joint military exercises with Israel that began under the conservative government in 2009.

During a visit to Israel in July, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias even said that Greeks needed to “learn to love Israel” and disgracefully called Israel part of a “line of stability” in the region – something that will some as news to the friends and relatives of those 551 Palestinian children murdered by Israeli during its summer 2014 war against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

Read the rest over at MEMO.