Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letters re body scans and pat downs and 'dangerous' terrorists

The New York Daily News
Letter to
columnist  Joanna Molloy
November 16, 2010

Dear Joanna Molloy:
I was  disappointed to find that you support the new TSA rules ('Junk' Science, NY Daily News, 11.16.10).  
You say safety is at stake but your credibility, I suspect, is even more at stake.
I'd be interested to see if you have  evidence that these pat downs and full body scans are making us any safer.
We depend on people like yourself to help us fight back against Big Brother, especially in outrageous and incredibly expensive cases such as this. We might have hoped for some common sense and a determination to help us struggle to hold onto our freedom and dignity.
Ronald Bleier
The New York Times
Letter to the Editor
November 18, 2010
To the Editor:
Re Editorial, 11.17.10 : Accountability for Torture” (in Britain)”

Thanks for addressing the Obama administration's shameful performance as it continues to cover up and institutionalize the illegal detention and torture polices of the Bush-Cheney years.


However when you write that none of the “truly dangerous terrorists [held in Guantanamo]  have been brought to justice” you seem to take for granted that the claims of the Bush and Obama administrations have merit despite the lack of  evidence of criminal or terrorist activity beyond that which has been elicited by “enhanced interrogation” techniques.


Are they truly dangerous terrorists or are they alleged dangerous terrorists?



Ronald Bleier


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ilan Pappé: Neo-Zionists Recapture the history of 1948


An abridgement of Ilan Pappé’s 2009 article, “The Vicissitudes of the 1948 Historiography [i] of Israel,” in the Journal of Palestine Studies  is available on the DESIP website at:


Pappé’s article describes the two-fold transition from the original Zionist myths to the New Historians, only to culminate in the relatively quick re-emergence of the neo-Zionists. Pappé observes that the neo-Zionists view the catastrophe of the Palestinians as an essential element making possible the State of Israel.


Selections from the abridgment follow.


Ilan Pappé

“The Vicissitudes of the 1948 Historiography of Israel”


History is more than a simple sequencing of events. It’s a way of extracting a plot out of collected facts. Current political realities inevitably influence the agendas of historians--especially when the subject involves a disputed land and when the narrative is seen as playing a crucial, even existential, role in that land’s ongoing struggle and self-image.


In view of the political demands, it should not be surprising that the case of Palestine and particularly the narrative of the 1948 war has undergone two major transitions in less than two decades. First from the classical Zionist narrative of a heroic Jewish struggle for survival that ended in the voluntary flight of the Palestinians, to the ‘New History’ narrative of the 1980s. This new narrative fundamentally challenged the earlier version, but around the year 2000, it gave way to what I will call the “neo-Zionist” narrative that re-embraced the spirit, if not the details, of the original Zionist version. This two-fold transition encompassed the movement from adherence to the national consensus, to recognition by certain elites of its many contradictions and fabrications [the post-Zionist phase], to the current phase of a rejection of the post-Zionist questioning of the national consensus.


The time that elapsed between the challenge posed by the New Historians/post-Zionists and their disappearance was short, less than two decades. The reason for this brevity is doubtless because the 1948 war is not only a story closely linked to current politics but is also a foundational myth.


Foundational myths provide the narrative that justifies the existence of the state, and as long as they remain relevant to the existing social order, they retain their force. Since the social order had not essentially changed since 1948, society quickly reverted to its long held beliefs. And because the history of the 1948 war is linked to the future direction of the country, conclusions about it remain extremely relevant to the political scene.


The new neo-Zionist historiography didn’t exactly repeat itself. …The difference from the neo-Zionist version lay in the response or interpretation of the facts. What the New Historians saw as human and civil rights abuses or even atrocities and war crimes are treated in the new research as normal and sometimes even commendable behavior by the Israeli military. First and foremost was the categorical rejection of the New Historian view that the dispossession of the Palestinians was an Israeli crime. The neo-Zionists attacked them on moral grounds for dangerously undermining the legitimacy of the state. Succinctly articulating this approach is a quote from an article in the journal Techelet: “No nation would be able to keep its vitality if its historical narrative were to be presented in public as morally defunct.”


Testimony of a Palestinian POW from the 1948 war.


We were loaded into waiting trucks…Under guard we were driven to Um Khalid…and from there to forced labor. We had to cut and carry stones all day. Our daily food was only one potato in the morning and half a dried fish at night. They beat anyone who disobeyed orders. After 15 days they moved 150 men to another camp. I was one of them. It was a shock for me to leave my two brothers behind. As we left the others, we were lined up and ordered to strip naked. To us this was most degrading. We refused. Shots were fired at us. Our names were read: we had to respond ‘Sir’ or else. We were moved to a new camp in Ijlil village. There we were put immediately to forced labor, which consisted of moving stones from Arab demolished houses. We remained without food for two days, then they gave us a dry piece of bread.


Read more:



[i] Wikipedia defines historiography as the study of the history and methodology of the discipline of history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fascism in the US: Thanks, Obama

Talk about betrayal. Read below the first two paragraphs of the following article on Obama's Justice Department raiding homes in Minneapolis and Chicago in September. The article was written by a lawyer for the People's Law Office in Chicago and posted on Mondoweiss. It's gonna be harder now to talk about Republicans bringing Fascism to the US. --RB

U.S. Justice Department prepares for the ominous expansion of law prohibiting ‘material support’ for terrorism
by Michael Deutsch on November 10, 2010 ·
In late September the FBI carried out a series of raids of homes and anti-war offices of public activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Following the raids the Obama Justice Department subpoenaed 14 activists to a grand jury in Chicago and also subpoenaed the files of several anti-war and community organizations. In carrying out these repressive actions, the Justice department was taking its lead from the Supreme Court’s 6-3 opinion last June in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project which decided that non-violent First Amendment speech and advocacy “coordinated with” or “under the direction of” a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as “terrorist” was a crime.
The search warrants and grand jury subpoenas make it quite clear that the federal prosecutors are intent on accusing public non-violent political organizers, many affiliated with Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), of providing “material support,” through their public advocacy, for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Secretary of State has determined that both the PLFP and the FARC “threaten US national security, foreign policy or economic interests,” a finding not reviewable by the Courts, and listed both groups as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO).
Michael Deutsch is a lawyer with the People's Law Office in Chicago and has been representing political activists and victims of government repression for the past 40 years.
Read more: