Saturday, June 30, 2012

Death of a Proud, Self-Avowed Terrorist:
Former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir Goes to the Great Hague in the Sky

Palestine Police Force Wanted Poster offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang members,
including (at center) Yitzhak Yezernitzky

Sometimes terrible people live long lives. Such is the case with Icchak Yezernitsky, a Russian-born racist, terrorist and eager ethnic cleanser who is better known to the world as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.  Shamir died today, June 30, 2012, at a Tel Aviv nursing home from Alzheimer's Disease at the ripe old age of 96.  One can only wonder if he had forgotten all the war crimes he committed.

Nearly every mainstream media outlet has eulogized Shamir with encomiums, or at least profound respect.  Here are some of Shamir's greatest hits, most of which have been omitted from most of the media's effusive obituaries:

Shamir was one of the leaders of Lehi (also known as The Stern Gang), a Zionist terrorist militia which rampaged through Palestine in the 1940s.  Were anyone to dispute that Lehi was a terrorist group, Shamir proudly affirmed that particular description in a 1943 article he wrote entitled "Terror."  Shamir wrote,

Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war...We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle.

First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier.

The following year, Shamir was responsible for ordering the assassination in Cairo of British Resident Minister of State in the Middle East Walter Edward Guinness, also known as Lord Moyne, who was in charge of implementing British policy in Palestine.

The Zionist terror campaign of Plan Dalet, put into effect in early 1948 and described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, consisted of "large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding population centres; setting fires to homes, properties, and goods; expulsion; demolition; and finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."

Shamir seemed to relish the opportunity to terrorize, murder and ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population into order to make room for the nascent state of Israel.  The massacre of Deir Yassin in April 1948, during which over 100 unarmed villagers were murdered, was carried out by Zionist commandos of Shamir's Lehi and Menachem Begin's Irgun (of which Shamir was a former member).

Following Israel's unilateral declaration of independence in May 1948, the United Nations reassessed its approach to the partition of Palestine and appointed a mediator, Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, to come up with new proposal while taking into account "the aspirations of the Jews, the political difficulties and differences of opinion of the Arab leaders, the strategic interests of Great Britain, the financial commitment of the United States and the Soviet Union, the outcome of the war, and finally the authority and prestige of the United Nations."  Notice that the rights of the indigenous Palestinians were not included in this mandate.

Nevertheless, while Bernadotte's second proposal was produced in consultation with British and American emissaries, then-President Harry Truman undermined its progress in the UN due to pre-election Zionist influence in the United States.  When Bernadotte finally presented his progress report, "Mediation, Truce Supervision, Refugees, Proposals for Peaceful Settlement," on September 16, 1948, it included this unequivocal statement regarding the Palestinian Right of Return:
It is not yet known what the policy of the Provisional Government of Israel with regard to the return of Arab refugees will be when the final terms of settlement are reached. It is, however, undeniable that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged by the hazards and strategy of the armed conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The majority of these refugees have come from territory which, under the Assembly resolution of 29 November, was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion. It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries. (A/648 1.V.6)
The very next day, September 17, 1948, Bernadotte was assassinated in West Jerusalem by members of Lehi, acting on Shamir's explicit orders.

In 1969, Shamir formally joined Begin's "Freedom Party" (Herut), which Jewish luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt had decried years earlier as "a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties" which "preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority."

In April 1988, during the first Intifada, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir warned that any Palestinian caught protesting would have his "head smashed against the boulders and walls.'' He continued, "We say to them from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us."

Shamir was a committed colonialist.  Even when, in September 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush threatened to withhold "loan guarantees sought by Israel unless the Israeli Government, which has ignored all of his previous appeals to halt settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, freezes building activity," Shamir never halted further colonization of Palestine.

During a visit to the United States in November 1991, Shamir delivered speeches in which he "insisted that Israel will not agree to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights even in exchange for a peace agreement with its Arab antagonists."

In June 1993, after being voted out of office, Shamir stated his desire to deliberately subvert any efforts to establish a Palestinian state by carrying out peace talks under false pretenses.  "I would have conducted the autonomy negotiations for 10 years, and in the meantime we would have reached half a million [Jewish] souls in Judea and Samaria."  Lamenting the end of his administration, Shamir said it was "painful that in the coming four years I won't be able to increase settlements in Judea and Samaria and Gaza."

It is no wonder then that Shamir once declared, "For Eretz Yisrael it is permissible to lie."

In 2005, Israelis voted Shamir the 29th Greatest Israeli in a poll conducted by Ynet.

Despite Shamir's history of despicable violence and willful abrogation of international law, Barack Obama's press secretary Jay Carney released a statement on behalf of the White House at the news of Shamir's death.

"Yitzhak Shamir dedicated his life to the State of Israel," the statement read. "From his days working for Israel's independence to his service as Prime Minister, he strengthened Israel's security and advanced the partnership between the United States and Israel."

It is unsurprising that Benjamin Netanyahu praised his Likud predecessor, saying, "He was a paragon of loyalty to the Land of Israel and the eternal values of the Jewish people," and adding that "Yitzhak Shamir belongs to a generation of giants, who founded the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people in its land."

One should remind Netanyahu of Shamir's proud justification of terrorism or perhaps simply note the words of the mayor of Tel Aviv under British Mandate, Israel Rokach, who in 1944 accused Shamir's Zionist militia of "lacking even a spark of humanity and Jewish conscience" after Lehi gunmen murdered three British police officers in a public shooting.

Shamir's daughter, Gilada Diamant, claimed her father "belonged to a different generation of leaders, people with values and beliefs. I hope that we have more people like him in the future."  Certainly anyone who values human rights, justice, sovereignty, and self-determination for the Palestinian people, the rule of law, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Principles does not share Diamant's hope.

Thomas Friedman once wrote that Shamir "exemplifies those Israeli leaders whose vision of tomorrow is yesterday."  For all those whose innocent lives were obliterated or whose families suffered at the hands of Yitzhak Shamir due to his commitment to ethnosupremacism, colonialism and mass murder, any more visions of violence and bigotry that he may have had thankfully died today.

***** ***** *****

A shorter version of this piece was cross-posted on Mondoweiss and Consortiumnews.



July 1, 2012 - It should also be remembered that, when he was leading terror campaigns during the British Mandate, Shamir nicknamed himself "Michael" after Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary and Director of Intelligence and ostensible Commander-in-Chief of the IRA, which fought a war of independence against the British between 1919 and 1921.  Known as coldblooded, ruthless, and calculating, Collins was responsible for creating a special assassination unit, called "The Squad" or "The Twelve Apostles," established for the express purpose of finding and executing spies and informants.  "For the future the rule should be guilty until proven innocent," Collins said of British agents.

What is perhaps ironic, however, is that, while Shamir and his cohorts considered Zionist opposition to the British Mandate to be analogous to the Irish fight against British domination, this comparison totally ignores the fact that the indigenous Palestinians were actually analogous to the native Irish in this situation, not the Zionist immigrants from Europe.

Further, even from the British point of view - the controlling, colonial power of both Ireland and Palestine - the Zionists were not recognized as playing the role of the occupied, colonized Catholics of Ireland, but as the Anglicans.

In One Palestine, Complete, Israeli historian Tom Segev devotes an entire chapter to this comparison - it's even called "Ireland in Palestine" - in which he tells us:
"The parallel between Palestine and Ireland is 'singularly complete,' wrote Colonial Secretary Ormsby-Gore, comparing the Jews in Palestine to the Protestants in Ulster. The country should be partitioned between its inhabitants, he believed.  Foreign Office officials debated whether the mufti was like Michael Collins and Gandhi: 'It was the Arab movement which made him rather than he who made the Arab movement,' wrote one official, adding, 'He does not seem to be a leader with the dynamic qualities of Collins or Gandhi.'"
(h/t Marsha Cohen)



July 2, 2012 - In perhaps one of the most appalling eulogies in recent memory, Knesset chairman Reuven Rivlin said of Shamir:
You were a solid, unbreakable rock. You carry upon your shoulders the nation's journey – its past and its future… not a thing could distract you from your path. Only one small weakness gnawed at you unremittingly: Love. Your love for this persecuted nation, for the homeland, for your home, and your greatest love of all: your wife, Shlomit.
One can be fairly certain that Shamir's wife Shlomit herself never advocated on behalf of Palestinian rights or the rule of international law; if she had, she probably would have been assassinated by her husband rather than adored.

Such obsequious comments should not be surprising considering Rivlin's own beliefs regarding the continued Zionist domination over all of historic Palestine - a passion shared by the departed Shamir.

Following the brutal murders of five members of a settler family, including three young children, in August 2011, Rivlin declared his firm belief that "the land of Israel is ours in its entirety."  In case anyone wasn't sure about Rivlin's own commitment to the continued Jewish colonization of Palestine, he added, "Populating the land of Israel is a part of Zionism, which was once based entirely on a policy of settlement."

Nevertheless, in the past, Rivlin has expressed a level of sympathy for Palestinians not often seen in the Israeli government.  For example, in August 2009, he delivered a speech in Jerusalem in which he stated that "the establishment of Israel was accompanied by much pain and suffering and a real trauma for the Palestinians," though he placed most of the responsibility for such tragedy on the Palestinian leadership rather than Zionist ethnic cleansing and colonization.  Rivlin added, "Many of them encounter racism and arrogance from Israel's Jews; the inequality in the allocation of state funds also does not contribute to any extra love."

One wonders if Rivlin thinks Palestinians love their actual homeland as much as Russian-born Icchak Yezernitsky loved his adopted home and if he believes they have a right to violently resist occupation, domination, colonization, and subjugation as forcefully and aggressively as the former Prime Minister he so warmly eulogized.


There's also this:


And this, from a New York Times slideshow:

Barbra Streisand with Prime Minister Shamir in his office in Jerusalem on April 3, 1984. 
Credit: Max Nash/Associated Press

***** ***** *****

On July 16, 2012, a Czech translation of this article appeared on the Czech Free Press! website (Vlajková Loď českého Nezávislého Webu!).  It was translated by Karel Hyka.

I am honored that someone would take the time to do this.
16 Červenec 2012
Nima Širazi

Strašní lidé někdy žijí dlouhý život. Příkladem toho je Icchak Ezernickij, v Rusku narozený rasista, terorista a horlivý etnický čistič, který je světu lépe znám jako bývalý izraelský premiér Jicchak Šamir. Šamir zemřel 30. června v telavivském pečovatelském domě na Alzheimerovu chorobu ve věku 96 let. Bylo by s podivem, pokud by zapomněl na veškeré válečné zločiny, kterých se dopustil.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blood, Heat and Tears:
Why I Can't Root for Miami in the NBA Finals

Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and majority owner Micky Arison

Last week, The Nation's sports editor Dave Zirin presented a number of excellent arguments in favor of rooting against the Oklahoma City Thunder in favor of the Miami Heat in this year's NBA Finals. In justifiably painting a lurid and grotesque picture of right-wing Thunder owners Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon, who uprooted the Seattle SuperSonics and moved the team to Oklahoma City in collusion with NBA commissioner David Stern in order to maximize corporate profits, Zirin dubs Bennett and McClendon "the kinds of sports owners whose villainy should never be forgotten."

But while Zirin reveals the greed and chauvinism of the Oklahoma City back office, he mentions only the famous players of Miami - Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh - in his juxtaposition of the two competing franchises, omitting completely the Heat's own ownership from his critical lens.

Zirin is right: Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon are both odious big-money, politically despicable, homophobic, environment-ruining robber barons who have committed a grave crime against the people of the Emerald City.  But what he doesn't tell you is that the Miami Heat's ownership consists of some of the richest people on the planet who happen to be committed to providing the colonial infrastructure of Apartheid and promoting the ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population from their ancestral homeland.

The Miami Heat is largely an Israeli-owned organization. The Arison family, one of the wealthiest families in the world, has owned the team from its early years in the 1980s. Its patriarch, Ted Arison, was the son of Romanian settlers who, in 1882, helped (along with Baron Edmond James de Rothschild) to establish Zikhron Ya'akov, one of the first Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine in the late nineteenth century. His father, Meir, was a multi-millionaire in his own right, owning the largest shipping company in Palestine under British Mandate. Ted served in the nascent Israeli army after the unilateral Israeli declaration of independence in 1948 that literally wiped Palestine off the map.

After relocating to the United States in the early 1950s and pursuing a number of different business ventures (some successful, others not), Arison eventually retired to Miami and founded Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972. Carnival is now the world's biggest and most lucrative cruise ship line in the world.

In 1990, Arison renounced his U.S. citizenship in an effort to avoid estate tax in the United States and returned to Israel to found Arison Investments. In 1997, he led a business consortium that purchased a controlling share in Israel's Bank Hapoalim for more than $1 billion, a deal that marked the largest privatization in Israel's history. Sadly, he died just nine months shy of being able to reap the benefits of his tax avoidance scheme.

Upon his death in 1999, Ted Arison was called "the world's wealthiest Jew" by the Bay Area's J. Weekly and described as "a natural ally and close friend of free-market champion Benjamin Netanyahu." Ehud Barak eulogized Arison, writing, "Arison's contribution shall be remembered for generations," while pre-coma "Likud leader Ariel Sharon mourned Arison as 'a precious human being, a proud Jew and Zionist, who connected his own lot with that of the state of Israel and the Jewish people in all walks of life.'"

The Arison Group, in addition to its Carnival and Miami Heat holdings, also owns the Israeli Shikun & Binui construction and real estate development behemoth which operates not only in Israel, Asia and Africa, but also in the occupied and colonized Palestinian territories.

Two days ago, on June 17, 2012, The Times of Israel reported that "Norway’s Ministry of Finance announced Friday that a state fund that is Europe's largest equity investor would no longer invest in Israeli construction company Shikun and Binui." The decision was made due to "a recommendation from a state ethics board, which found the company was in contravention of international law by being involved in building projects in East Jerusalem," such as "a residential project in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel," in addition to construction and infrastructure contracts in illegal Israeli colonies such as "a 1994 project in the Maaleh Adumim settlement and the involvement of subsidiary Solel Boneh in projects over the Green Line, including in Har Homa."

Norway's ministry released a statement which read, in part, that Arison's company is "involved in the building of settlements in breach of international humanitarian law in East Jerusalem" and that "the construction of such settlements on occupied territory represents a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention." The ministry explained its divestment on ethical grounds, stating, "The exclusion is based on an evaluation of the future risk that the company will contribute to serious violations of the rights of individuals in war or conflict."

Ted's son Micky is currently the CEO of Carnival Cruises and majority owner of the Heat. He is a multi-billionaire and, as of March 2012, is the 72nd richest person in the United States. During the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Carnival was gifted with a government contract to the tune of $236 million for the use of cruise ships to house hurricane victims, despite an offer by a Greek company to provide two of its own ships for free. The Carnival ships were barely used and sat docked and mostly empty. Two United States Senators, Tom Coburn (R-OK) and none other than Barack Obama (D-IL) even called the contract a "sweetheart" deal in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking him to explain the contract with the Miami-based company. Furthermore, "the senators alleged the contract guaranteed the Carnival Cruise Lines brand rates that were much higher than market levels."

Shari Arison, Ted's daughter, currently holds the elite title of Israel's richest woman and has, in the past, faced allegations by her second husband that she kidnapped their son and defended her third husband during a a sexual harassment suit that ended in conviction.

Furthermore, the Ted Arison Family Foundation - a "philanthropic" charity - has contributed millions of dollars to Birthright Israel, the racist, militarist and ethnosupremacist organization that provides free propaganda trips to Israel for young Jews. Incidentally, the Adelson Family Foundation (yes, that Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, of Citizens United fame) has contributed over $100 million to Birthright Israel since 2007.

A common scene from Birthright

But the Heat's connection to the State of Israel isn't just limited to the Arison clan. Israeli multi-millionaire real estate magnate, nosy landlord, and free speech enemy Raanan Katz is a minority owner of the Heat (along with Julio Igelsias, billionaire Sidney Kimmel and casino group CEO Robert Sturges), owning approximately 12% of the franchise. Katz is a former Israeli basketball player and former owner of the Maccabi Tel Aviv ball club.

Last night, Katz was pictured with former Israeli Occupation Soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held prisoner in Gaza for over five years before being released by Hamas in a prisoner exchange eight months ago and who is now attending the NBA Finals as a sports correspondent for the Israeli press for some reason.

"God can always help; we need him on our side against Dallas," joked Katz, back in 2006 when the Heat were poised to play the Mavericks. "Every Israeli must support us; they must go the Western Wall and pray for us. Miami Heat is no less Israeli than Maccabi. This is also a group with Israeli ownership in which many Americans play."

Sounds like Congress.

The Heat went on to win their first national championship that year. One wonders if a renewed call for prayer will help them beat the Thunder this time around.

The Seattle SuperSonics played their first NBA season in 1967 - just months after Israel launched an aggressive military operation and occupied the remaining 22% of historic Palestine that it hadn't already seized in 1948.  The Sonics' tenure in Seattle lasted until 2008.  The occupation of Palestine continues unabated to this day, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers and further entrenched by corporate ideologues like the Arisons, with no end in sight.

Fans queue before a security check upon arrival for Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 14, 2012. (Robyn Beck, AFP/GettyImages)

IDF Hawara Checkpoint, June 2006 (photo: Magne Hagesæter)

So yes, Bennett and McClendon are undoubtedly greedy rich conservatives with a terrible agenda and it's appalling to steal a beloved sports team from its hometown after 41 years.  But it's actually a war crime to build illegal and discriminatory colonies on stolen land, something the Arison family makes millions doing.

With this in mind, maybe we should start referring to Arison and Katz's squad as The Har Homa Heat.