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Activists Disrupt Israeli Ambassador in Chicago

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Activism, BDS, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, Chicago, USA, israel massacres of Palestinians, Gaza Strip 2018, March of Return, peaceful protestors murdered by IDF-IOF, end all U.S.. aid to Israel, impunity, international, U.S. news/media/world, Aamericans )

- 134 days ago -
Dozens of activists protested Israels recent massacres of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip outside Israeli ambassador Ron Dermers event in Chicago on 5 June


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fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 7:34 pm
VIDEO: Activists disrupted a speech by Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer in Chicago on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile outside the synagogue where he was speaking, dozens more, among them many Palestinian and Jewish activists, protested Israel’s recent massacres of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Several people were barred entry to the venue apparently because they were of Arab ancestry.

Dermer’s visit to Chicago was part of what organizers called “a damage control PR tour” to several Midwestern cities in the wake of growing outrage over Israel’s killing of more than 120 Palestinians and the injuring of thousands more since the beginning of the Great March of Return rallies on 30 March.

“We stand here today to challenge the Israeli ambassador’s attempts to rally Americans to give blind support to the Israeli army,” Jennifer Bing, of the American Friends Service Committee, said at the protest. “The same army that shoots and kills Palestinians in Gaza and continues an immoral and unjust blockade.”

Bing’s group, along with the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace called for the protest.

There was a heavy police presence in and around the Anshe Emet Synagogue on Chicago’s North Side as activists chanted and listened to speeches demanding an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza and killings of Palestinians.

Several counter-protesters holding anti-Palestinian signs and an Israeli flag stood across the street from the rally.

Arabs denied entry

The Dermer speech was advertised as “free and open to the community,” but required advanced registration. However, registration did not guarantee entry.

“There were five Palestinians and Arabs who registered to be inside [but] all five of them were kept out of the event by the security,” Hatem Abudayyeh of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine said at the protest. “We had a number of people organized to go, and the only five that got kicked out were the Arabs with Arab surnames.”

One attendee who asked not to be named told The Electronic Intifada he was turned away after security guards identified his face from a list of names and pictures of those presumably banned from entering the venue.

“I got through security, they checked my ID. I thought I got in,” Lara Haddadin, who was also turned away, told The Electronic Intifada. Security guards then stopped Haddadin, told her she was on “a list” and ordered her to “leave the property immediately,” she said.


Participants who got in disrupted the event multiple times, chanting “Free Palestine” and “End the siege on Gaza now.”

All were removed, some grabbed and manhandled by security guards.

Following one disruption, Dermer said that “You couldn’t yell out what those two women yelled out in Ramallah” – an attempt to portray Israel as tolerant in contrast to a supposedly more repressive Palestinian Authority.

He did not mention Israel’s crackdown on protesters all over the West Bank – where Ramallah is located – and in Israel, including harsh repression after the US embassy move to Jerusalem.

And unsurprisingly Dermer made no mention of how Israel shot dead unarmed civilians in Gaza for protesting for their fundamental rights.

More protesters than attendees

Jessica Kursman, who took part in the disruptions, told The Electronic Intifada, “there were around 10 security guards pacing the entire time and we had IDs checked three times.”

Kursman said that what she found “most insidious is the entire hasbara rhetoric [and] Israeli propaganda of a vulnerable state.” Hasbara is the Hebrew term frequently translated as propaganda.

Dermer’s comments “were standard Israeli talking points,” Eli Massey, who filmed the disruptions, told The Electronic Intifada.

The ambassador told Jews in the audience that “whether you like it or not, you are potential citizens of Israel” – an acknowledgment of Israel’s racist practice of granting Jews from anywhere in the world instant citizenship while shooting dead indigenous Palestinians who attempt to return to lands from which they were expelled.

Dermer himself is a Florida native who renounced his US citizenship in order to become Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

According to Massey, “there were significantly more protesters than people actually attending the event.”

With each disruption, Massey said, Dermer “joked about hoping there was enough of an audience left for a minyan” – the minimum number of worshippers required to hold a Jewish prayer service.

Earlier, Dermer was at Wrigley Field where he threw out the first pitch in a Chicago Cubs baseball game – part of Israel’s strategy of using sports and cultural events to seek popular appeal.

That strategy suffered a spectacular setback this week when Argentina pulled out of a high-profile exhibition football match with Israel that had been scheduled for Saturday.

Both Dermer and Israel’s consul-general Aviv Ezra wore Cubs jerseys with the numbers 70 and 48 printed on the back – marking 70 years since Israel’s founding, which came about through the 1948 Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians.

Judy C (91)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 7:50 pm
Good for the activists and for organizatons like the Friends Service Committee. I especially dislike seeing sports events being used as propaganda vehicles to prop up the military industrial complex and to celebrate belligerence.

fly bird (26)
Wednesday June 6, 2018, 7:56 pm
Religious extremism is at the heart of US support for Israel.
6 June 2018

One of the most important elements of the Israel lobby in the United States is right-wing Evangelical backing – or Christian Zionism.

The fanatically anti-Palestinian group Christians United For Israel, CUFI, claims to have more than 4 million members. It was founded in 2006 by a Texas mega-church televangelist, Pastor John Hagee. It now has smaller branches in the UK and Canada.

Hagee has a profitable line in supposedly prophetic books which promote extremist apocalyptic visions about the “end times.”

With attention-grabbing titles like Four Blood Moons, the books have a sci-fi or fantasy quality to them. Indeed, they are of course mostly fictional, even if their author would claim otherwise.

His upcoming book explicitly appeals to the lucrative fantasy blockbuster audience, titled as it is: Earth’s Last Empire: The Final Game of Thrones.

He also cashes in on the modern “prosperity gospel” trend among those Evangelicals who purport to show how Biblical prophecies and principles can lead to actual, literal wealth for his readers and congregants, in titles like “Decisions that Produce Wealth” and “The Power to Get Wealth.”

Hagee, then, is a modern-day snake oil salesman. As such, he is an appropriate fit for the state of Israel.

Hagee’s CUFI plays an important role in rallying Evangelical support for Israel in the US. It also claims that one of its aims is to fight anti-Semitism across the world.

Anti-Semitic creed

But in fact Hagee’s doctrine is one of the most fanatically anti-Semitic religious creeds in the world today.

Leading Palestinian intellectual Joseph Massad has made a convincing argument that Zionism’s origins actually lay in evangelical Protestant millenarianism rather than in any Jewish tradition.

At its heart is an anti-Semitic theology which aims to rid Europe of its Jewish communities and “gather” them in Palestine in anticipation of the End Times. There – so this eschatology has it – when the Messiah, Jesus, returns, the majority will convert to Christianity before the final judgement of God. The rest will be doomed to hell.

Christian Zionism sought to bring about this “return” to the “Land of Israel” in very practical terms. In reality, most Jews opposed Zionism as a fringe movement, and never sought to live in Palestine. European Jewish communities are just that – Europeans mostly descended from converts to Judaism.

The dangerous and racist mythology which drives groups like CUFI is therefore a useful tool of the Israel lobby in the eyes of cynical Israeli politicians and their Zionist supporters in the West.

Because despite its empty claims to be fighting anti-Semitism, CUFI’s theology is very much based in anti-Semitic ideas. Hagee himself infamously preached that Hitler was “a hunter” sent by God to drive Jews “back” to Palestine so that the divine plan to “return” the Jews to the Land of Israel could be played out.

Such demented ideology is a major driver of anti-Semitic hatred against Jews.

But it causes little problem for Israel and its supporters. While the re-emergence of Hagee’s Hitler sermon during the 2008 presidential race embarrassed John McCain into renouncing Hagee’s endorsement, the pastor continues to be courted and indulged by both Israeli and US politicians.

Racist logic

At the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May, Hagee gave the closing benediction, praying in front of a who’s-who of Israeli and American politicians.

The crowd included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (of the so-called “Labor” party), Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, former US presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and former senator Joe Lieberman.

During his prayer, Hagee claimed that Jerusalem is “the eternal capital of the Jewish people”. This description – a common claim by such Zionist fanatics – is worth thinking about: while superficially philosemitic, it is, in effect, anti-Semitic.

As the Palestinian intellectual Omar Bargouhti – the co-founder of the BDS movement – puts it: neo-Nazis claim that Jews are sub-human while Zionists claim that Jews are super-human – both agree that Jews are, somehow, not human.

The philosemitism of Christian Zionism is actually a subtle form of anti-Semitism.

The obvious implication of Netanyahu’s baseless claim to be not just the prime minister of Israel but the “representative of the entire Jewish people” and of Hagee’s claim that Jerusalem is the “eternal” capital not just of Israel but of “the Jewish people” is that “the Jews” do not really belong to the many various countries in which they were actually born and brought up, but “really belong” – on some sort of mystical, metaphysical level – in Israel and Israel alone.

The long term aim is to drive Jews out of their ancestral homelands and into Palestine where they are compelled into the role of settlers in the apartheid colony of Israel. It is a racist, anti-Semitic logic.

This is something that Zionism has had a degree of success in achieving over the last 70 years. But the project has been a failure in that most Jews do not live in Israel, and show little interest in ever doing so – especially American Jews.

Fiery pits of hell

Another extremist American pastor to attend the embassy opening ceremony was Robert Jeffress. The Evangelical gave a prayer in front of the assembled politicians and embassy staff in which he described Jerusalem as “the city that you [God] named as the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago.”

He went into full-throated political-religion mode, gushing over Trump, and thanking God “every day that you have given us a president who boldly stands on the right side of history, but more importantly stands on the right side of you, oh God, when it comes to Israel.”

But Jeffress is also an extremist anti-Semite Christian Zionist.

As reported by the New York Times, he once said during an interview on a Christian TV channel that Jews, Muslims and Mormons are all going to hell.

“Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell,” he said. “Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He continued: “Judaism – you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way? The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ. They all said Judaism won’t do it. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”

In a 2008 sermon, he was more direct: “Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism – not only do they lead people away from the true God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell … Hell is going to be filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.”

Israeli politicians like Netanyahu are no doubt aware of the hateful ideology of such allies. But as long as these allies are committed to political support for the state of Israel and defending its crimes, they do not care.

On the surface, this should make little sense. After all, in the fever dreams of Hagee and Jeffress, would Netanyahu – a Jew – not end up in the fiery pits of hell should he refuse to convert to faith in Jesus during the last days of judgement?

A settler-colonial movement

It makes more sense when you consider another historical fact: Zionism is not a movement for Jewish self defence, it is a movement for settler-colonialism.

If the global Zionist movement deems it useful to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (as Israeli intelligence services admit to having deliberately done) and hateful, anti-Jewish Christian theologies, then so be it, goes their thinking.

After all, the goal of Israel is to bring Jews to the land of Palestine and turn them into settlers – human fodder that can be used to displace the indigenous people. Zionism has never had as one of its real goals the protection of Jewish communities outside of Israel.

If anything, the opposite is true. Israeli leaders constantly sensationalize threats to Jewish life in Europe, to encourage migration to Israel. Many Iraqi Jews claim that attacks on their community were actually a plot by Israeli agents to drive them out of the country and head for Israel. Before the rise of Zionism, and the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, Jewish citizens of Iraq lived in relative prosperity and harmony with their fellow citizens of other religions.

Despite the warm words of Christian Zionists about Jews being “God’s chosen people,” there is no escaping the feeling that behind this veneer of philosemitism, there is a distinctly anti-Semitic core at work.

In the final analysis, the effect of Christian Zionism is anti-Semitic – it is bad for Jewish communities as well as bad for the indigenous people of Palestine.

Colleen L (3)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 7:36 am
Good for them. People have right to voice and show their opinions. Thanks Fly

fly bird (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 1:44 pm
Remote control repression: Israel tested its latest weapons against the Great March of Return
May 23, 2018

Over the course of the Great March of Return protests which started on 30 March, 115 Palestinians were killed and a further 13,000 were injured. Many were shot by live ammunition fired from Israeli positions behind the nominal Gaza-Israel border. Tear gas rained down on protesters from unmanned drones that hovered in the skies. Butterfly bullets shattered the limbs of scores of Palestinians.

This was the repression of protesters by remote control. It was cold, clinical and calculated, with devastating results. Israel is one of the world’s leading developers of high-tech weapons and munitions, and the Great March of Return presented an ideal opportunity to experiment with its latest products. With a guinea pig population of almost two million Palestinians held under siege in Gaza, Israel can boast of its technology and weaponry as being “battle proven” in a corporate world unconcerned about ethics.

Much focus has been given to Israel’s use of drones to drop tear gas on Palestinian protesters and journalists covering the protests. The drones were first seen back in March when footage by Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV appeared to show small aerial devices dropping gas canisters on anyone close to the Gaza-Israel border. The Times of Israel reported that “a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces said the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] was not operated by the army but by the Border Police.” The Border Police declined to comment.

In an investigation into Israel’s use of drones in this way, Middle East Eye (MEE) noted that “there appear to be three types of drones being used to disperse the gas.” The first is known as the “Cyclone Riot Control Drone System” and is developed by Israeli company ISPRA. The others are believed to have been used for the first time against Great March protesters, with MEE explaining that one is “a drone that releases gas directly from the craft like an aerosol” and the second “a helicopter-style drone which carries rubber bursting grenades with metal tops that disperse gas as they fall.”

Yet drones are not the whole story. Not only has Israel fired live ammunition into crowds of protesters, but reports have also surfaced about the use of “butterfly bullets”. According to an article by Al Jazeera earlier this month,

Medics on the ground say Israeli forces are shooting at demonstrators with a new type of round — never seen before — known as the ‘butterfly bullet’, which explodes upon impact, pulverising tissue, arteries and bone, while causing severe internal injuries.

It is believed that it was these “butterfly bullets” that killed Palestinian journalists Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu-Hussein, who were shot while reporting from Gaza despite being clearly marked as Press. The pair were shot in the abdomen which, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qedra, resulted in “all of their internal organs [being] totally destroyed, pulverised.” He added that the bullets are the deadliest that the Israeli army has ever used.

READ: Medics in Gaza report Israel forces using devastating ‘butterfly bullet’

Israel’s use of these new bullets has been extensive. According to a report by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), “half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverised the bone.” The report also noted that the number of patients treated in MSF clinics in the first three weeks of the Great March of Return alone “[was] more than the number we treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military Operation Protective Edge was launched over the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s use of its latest technology against Palestinians is nothing new. Writing in 2006 in the wake of Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza, during which time Israel withdrew some 8,000 illegal settlers from their positions in the Strip, Darryl Li of the University of Chicago referred to Gaza as a “laboratory”. According to Li, Gaza is “a space where Israel tests and refines various techniques of management, continuously experimenting in search of an optimal balance between maximum control over the territory and minimum responsibility for its non-Jewish population.” He quoted Amos Yadlin, then head of Israeli military intelligence, as saying: “Our vision of air control zeroes in on the notion of control. We’re looking at how you control a city or a territory from the air when it’s no longer legitimate to hold or occupy that territory on the ground.”

It is clear that Israel’s use of new technologies to quell the Great March of Return, therefore, forms just one part of its continuing quest to exert control over Gaza and its besieged population. Drones provide a detached method of control that requires minimal risk for Israel’s own forces and creates space to argue that “its hands are clean” when it comes to international PR. Simultaneously, the devastating effect of the newly-introduced “butterfly bullet” represents a new level of disregard for Palestinian life, as Israel tests its new technologies on a captive population for which it seeks to bear “minimum responsibility”.

The Great March of Return protests acted as a laboratory for Israel to trial its latest technologies in a real-life situation. This provides concrete evidence of the technologies’ efficacy, which can then be used as fuel for international arms trade deals. ISPRA, the company that manufactures the “Cyclone Drone” mentioned above, claims on its website to offer “smart solutions for crowd control” based on “technical knowhow with practical field experience.” As “a leading global supplier for police and defence forces around the world including USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Central & South America and Africa,” ISPRA and others like it will no doubt benefit in financial and reputational terms from the “successful” way that its products were used against Palestinian protesters in the Great March of Return. As long as international defence and police forces around the world continue to purchase such products, Palestinians will continue to pay with their lives.

READ: Israel army changed open fire regulations in Gaza

Danuta W (1251)
Friday June 8, 2018, 3:54 am
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