29 May 2013


Bradley Manning Support Network

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.
An appeal from Daniel Ellsberg

During the Vietnam War I worked in the Pentagon under Robert McNamara. In Vietnam, my background as a Marine officer allowed me to walk with the troops in combat and see the war up close. What I found was a costly, immoral war that could not be allowed to continue.

My decision to reveal the top secret Pentagon Papers to the American public was an act of conscience. These documents showed that we were in a destructive, wrongful war, and that we had entered that war under false pretenses. My hope was that, armed with this truth, the American people could act to end that war.

Today, a young soldier named Bradley Manning faces trial for a similar act of conscience, and he needs our help. In releasing documents and videos to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, PFC Manning made an enormously positive impact on world events. He revealed the terrifying misdeeds by American and coalition forces, such as the 2007 Baghdad airstrike that targeted and killed at least 12 Iraqi civilians. He opened a new pathway for truth and justice to reach the world, perhaps preventing the next unjust war from ever beginning. He even helped inspire a new, global movement for openness and democracy, ringing out from Tahrir Square to Wall Street. To me, and many others, Bradley is a hero.

Yet, for his courage, Bradley faces life in prison — much like I did 40 years ago. And just as I was arrested and called a “traitor” by President Nixon, Bradley’s charges include an accusation of “aiding the enemy,” even though there is no evidence that any individual was endangered by his disclosures. Bradley, now 25 years old, is far too young, and has too much to offer this country to spend the rest of his life in prison. He needs our support.

That support has worked already. In March of 2011, I proudly got arrested along with 35 others at the Quantico Marine Base while Bradley was being held there in solitary confinement. Bradley had spent nine months in conditions considered torture by the UN. However, shortly after our protest, with your help, Bradley was transferred to much more humane conditions in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Americans who care about the future of our country need to be involved in Bradley’s defense. The defining issues of the 21st century, including the transparency and accountability of our government, are at stake. I believe history is on the side of those who seek to reveal the truth, not on the side of those who seek to conceal it. But, as my example shows, there are those in government who rely on crimes and secrets, who will seek to punish him and dissuade others from offering truth to the American people. Mercifully, the Vietnam War did end, and many consider the release of the Pentagon Papers to have helped. With your assistance, Bradley’s impact can be even greater.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

The Bradley Manning Support Network has been key in coordinating nationwide support efforts for Bradley’s defense, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from thousands of people. We need money to support ongoing grassroots efforts—including rallies, petitions, and ads. Most importantly, however, we need to continue fully funding Bradley’s legal defense efforts—including possible appeals, all the way up to the US Supreme Court, if need be.

The future of truth-telling is at stake, and a young man’s selfless, heroic act of patriotism deserves our support.

Daniel Ellsberg

P.S. If you are one of the 18,000 friends who have already given to Bradley’s Defense Fund, thank you. On the eve of this historic trial, I’m asking you now to please give once more, and to give whatever you can. Your commitment, your creativity, and your energy remain vital, but right now, we need money as well. This is a crucial time in shaping support and public discourse in favor of Bradley.

The Bradley Manning Defense Fund, hosted by Courage to Resist in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network, is responsible for 100% of Bradley’s legal expenses. Courage to Resist is a program of the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ), a non-profi t organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Donations are tax-deductible. For more information, contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

28 May 2013


THis article was on Antony Loewenstein's blog on 27 May 2013:

Israeli electric car company, promoted as progressive, dies

This is a clas­sic case of main­stream jour­nal­ists, so keen to pro­mote Pro­gres­sive and Green Is­rael, shilling for Is­raeli elec­tric cor­po­ra­tion Bet­ter Place. The fact that mem­bers of its board had trou­bling human rights records and it op­er­ated in the oc­cu­pied West Bank was con­ve­niently ig­nored.

Now news that will sad­den no­body ex­cept in­di­vid­u­als who be­lieve that find­ing al­ter­na­tives to fos­sil fuels should not in­volve con­sid­er­ing human rights of Pales­tini­ans (via New York Times):

The vi­sion was am­bi­tious. Bet­ter Place, an elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­fra­struc­ture com­pany, un­veiled plans more than five years ago to pi­o­neer a sys­tem of quick-ser­vice bat­tery swap­ping sta­tions across Is­rael to en­able un­lim­ited travel.

The com­pany’s founder pre­dicted that 100,000 elec­tric cars would be on the roads here by 2010.

But on Sun­day, Bet­ter Place an­nounced that its ven­ture, a flag­ship en­ter­prise of Is­rael’s image as a start-up hub, was com­ing to an end.

Dan Cohen, the com­pany’s third chief ex­ec­u­tive, said in a state­ment that fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties had left the com­pany no op­tion but to file for liq­ui­da­tion in a dis­trict court and to re­quest the ap­point­ment of a pro­vi­sional re­ceiver “to find the best way to min­i­mize the dam­age to its em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers and cred­i­tors.”

The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed a string of set­backs in the emerg­ing elec­tric car mar­ket. Fisker, a car­maker, is in fi­nan­cial dis­tress; A123 Sys­tems, a bat­tery sup­plier for Fisker, and, more re­cently, Coda Hold­ings, an­other car­maker, filed for bank­ruptcy. Tesla, the promi­nent car man­u­fac­turer, has had suc­cess, though, re­pay­ing its gov­ern­ment loan last week after a suc­cess­ful sale of new shares.

Is­rael had been con­sid­ered a per­fect test­ing ground for Bet­ter Place’s green pro­ject, given the coun­try’s small size and high gaso­line prices. The elec­tric car fit into Is­raeli dreams of re­duc­ing oil de­pen­dency; the ini­tia­tive gained the sup­port of the gov­ern­ment and was em­braced by Shi­mon Peres, the pres­i­dent of Is­rael. Pres­i­dent Obama, dur­ing his March visit here, praised the Is­raelis’ in­no­v­a­tive spirit, men­tion­ing elec­tric cars as one of sev­eral ex­am­ples.

Yet the pro­ject was hob­bled by prob­lems and de­lays, and the com­pany’s idea failed to gain trac­tion, with fewer than 1,000 cars on the road in Is­rael and an­other few hun­dred in Den­mark.

Mr. Cohen said on Sun­day that the vi­sion and the model had been right, but that the pace of mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion had not lived up to ex­pec­ta­tions. With­out a large in­jec­tion of cash, he said, Bet­ter Place was un­able to con­tinue its op­er­a­tions.

“This is a very sad day for all of us,” Mr. Cohen added. “The com­pany brought with it a vi­sion that swept along many peo­ple here and around the world.”

About $850 mil­lion in pri­vate cap­i­tal has been in­vested in the com­pany, which has 350 em­ploy­ees in Is­rael. The largest share­holder, with about 30 per­cent of the stock, was the Is­rael Cor­po­ra­tion, a large hold­ing com­pany that fo­cuses on chem­i­cals, en­ergy, ship­ping and trans­porta­tion. The cor­po­ra­tion’s de­ci­sion not to in­vest fur­ther in Bet­ter Place led to the mo­tion for re­ceiver­ship.

The Bet­ter Place model for elec­tric car use emerged from an ef­fort among man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers to es­tab­lish a stan­dard in­fra­struc­ture in the nascent in­dus­try.

Under terms that re­sem­bled a cell­phone plan, sub­scribers to Bet­ter Place bought their cars and paid about $350 a month to lease ac­cess to the bat­ter­ies, swap sta­tions and charge points. But only one car man­u­fac­turer, the French au­tomaker Re­nault, signed on to adapt its Flu­ence Z.E. sedan to en­able bat­tery switch­ing, lim­it­ing the cus­tomers’ choices and the com­pany’s po­ten­tial.

The bat­tery has a range of about 100 miles. For those trav­el­ing longer dis­tances, Bet­ter Place set up a net­work of switch­ing sta­tions where it promised that swap­ping a de­pleted bat­tery for a fully charged one would take about the same time as fill­ing a car with gas, so that range would no longer be an issue.

“It’s not the fu­ture of gas sta­tions; it’s the end of them,” the com­pany Web site boasted.

About three dozen switch­ing sta­tions now dot Is­rael, which is about 260 miles long from north to south, but they often look de­serted.

The com­pany was founded in Palo Alto, Calif., by Shai Agassi, an Is­raeli en­tre­pre­neur who had pre­vi­ously been a top ex­ec­u­tive at SAP, the Ger­man soft­ware com­pany. It then moved from Cal­i­for­nia to Tel Aviv.

In Oc­to­ber, Bet­ter Place said that Mr. Agassi had been suc­ceeded as its chief by Evan Thorn­ley, the com­pany’s top ex­ec­u­tive in Aus­tralia. The com­pany said Mr. Agassi would con­tinue as a board mem­ber and share­holder. Mr. Thorn­ley left after only three months, over dif­fer­ences re­gard­ing the di­rec­tion of the com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Globes , the Is­raeli busi­ness pub­li­ca­tion. He was suc­ceeded by Mr. Cohen.

In Feb­ru­ary, Bet­ter Place an­nounced that it was wind­ing down its op­er­a­tions in North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia to con­cen­trate on its core mar­kets in Den­mark and Is­rael.

Mr. Cohen said on Sun­day that the com­pany would do what it could to con­tinue to serve its cus­tomers and op­er­ate the recharg­ing net­work, until the liq­uida­tor de­cided on a course of ac­tion.

26 May 2013


On Saturday 1 June 2013 groups around the world are demonstrating in support of Bradley Manning, whose trial in Fort Meade in the USA begins on 2 June 2013.

The following photos are from the demonstration in Melbourne on 22 February 2013 in support of Bradley Manning after he had been incarcerated without trial for 1,000 days:

We anticipate that, because of much wider publicity, there will be huge crowds in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, where demonstrations are scheduled to be held:

Photos by Kendall Lovett

Photos by Mannie De Saxe

For more information: Wikileaks Australian Citizens' Alliance - BRADLEY MANNING SUPPORT

20 May 2013


In the case of the United States government in 2013 and criminality and human rights abuses, it is difficult to know where to begin. It all started a very long time ago, long before Obama became president of that benighted country.

One of the abuses perpetrated by a previous president was the establishment of a concentration camp on the island of Cuba - a country with which the United States governments have for many decades treated with appalling human rights abuses. The concentration camp is called Guantanamo and the abuse and torture of its inmates makes for some very grim reading.

So far we have just started at the tip of the iceberg, but this is about what is going on at the present time and is a gory illustration of humans' inhumanity to humans, including its own citizens.

This story is about Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Wikileaks and related matters and shows how far the US government has strayed from any semblance of democracy.

We are very fortunate indeed that citizens of the United States, knowing about the abuses of their government, have put together organisations to assist those of their fellow citizens who have fallen foul of the current regime. Two of these organisations - the

Bradley Manning Support Network



- are doing their utmost to endeavour to ensure that Bradley Manning receives as fair a trial - criminal as that trial is anyway - as is possible under the circumstances.

A book by CHASE MADAR has just been published (VERSO 2013): THE PASSION OF BRADLEY MANNING - THE STORY BEHIND THE WIKILEAKS WHISTLEBLOWER and it has been reviewed in Australia by Jeff Sparrow, the review appearing in several local newspapers.

Here is the review:

Prisoner of conscience

May 11, 2013

Reviewed by Jeff Sparrow

Bradley Manning's disenchantment with the war stemmed from politics. Photo: AFP



By Chase Madar
Verso, $21.99

''Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.'' The opening from Chase Madar's book leaves us in no doubt as to the author's view on his subject: whistleblower Bradley Manning, the man said to have supplied to WikiLeaks half a million classified documents.

For Madar, the line's more than a rhetorical flourish. The US awarded the Presidential Medal, the nation's highest civilian honour, to most of the principal players behind the Iraq war, including Tony Blair and John Howard. In other words, those who misled the public into a disastrous invasion were decorated - but Manning faces life in jail for revealing the truth about what the conflict entailed.

In part, The Passion of Bradley Manning can be read as a biography. Manning, a talented but troubled computer geek, enlisted in the army (perhaps because of an unhappy relationship with his father) and, despite struggling as a recruit, somehow ended up an intelligence analyst in Iraq. In that capacity, he investigated 15 men detained by the Iraqi Federal Police for printing ''anti-Iraqi literature''. But the material that brought them into Iraq's notorious jails (where torture was rampant) proved, upon further inspection, merely an expose of Iraqi government corruption entitled Where Did the Money Go?

Yet when Manning reported what was happening in the Iraqi jails to his superiors, he was told to ''shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding more detainees''.

Though he was bullied for slight stature and his homosexuality, Manning's disenchantment with the war stemmed from politics, not personality or psychology. He had access to evidence of atrocities, such as the footage later released as ''Collateral Murder'' - a clip of a helicopter gunship killing civilians. As he asked during an online chat with a hacker called Adrian Lamo: ''[If you] saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do?'' Lamo supplied his answer by turning Manning into the authorities.

Alongside its biographical plot, The Passion of Bradley Manning tells another story, one of the history of secrecy's spread.

For the American founders, democracy necessarily meant that the people knew what their government did. Former US president James Madison put it like this: ''A popular government, without popular information, is but a prelude to a tragedy or a farce, or perhaps both.'' Today, however, secrecy seems an end in itself - so much so that documents pertaining to Madison's own administration (he left office in 1817) still remain under wraps.

The officials responsible for US information security classified nearly 77 million documents in 2010 and 92 million in 2011, while President Barack Obama, who campaigned as an ally of whistleblowers, has actually prosecuted more leakers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all his predecessors combined.

Naturally, with the security state so massive, leaks happen all the time - some 3 million Americans have access to classified documents.

But the reaction to any such breach depends largely upon who's responsible for it. For instance, material classified as top secret - a higher rating than anything Manning allegedly released - regularly finds its way into books by insider journalists of the Bob Woodward variety. Newspaper stories in The New York Times and elsewhere regularly quote ''unnamed officials'' on sensitive military matters.

Such leaks are often sanctioned at the highest levels. William Daley, President Obama's chief of staff between 2011 and 2012, has discussed how he and his predecessors gave secret material to the press when that information made the administration look good. ''I'm all for leaking when it's organised,'' he said.

Forty years ago, Daniel Ellsberg released details about the US war in Vietnam in the so-called ''Pentagon Papers'', all of it more highly classified than anything WikiLeaks has published. Yet Ellsberg is a free man while Manning is quite likely to stay in prison for the rest of his life. What's the difference?

Madar suggests Manning's case reflects a changing political climate in the US. The Pentagon Papers came out at the high-water mark of liberalism. Today, tolerance for dissent against the state is much lower.

American officials have acknowledged on several occasions that WikiLeaks has not cost a single American life. Yet since his arrest, Manning's been held in solitary confinement under extraordinarily degrading conditions (he's kept nude at night and, because he's classified as a danger to himself, he must respond every five minutes to the guards' inquiry: ''Are you OK?'')

On the one hand, Madar says, this cruelty reflects a degradation of judicial norms during the war on terror, a period in which assassinations and coercive interrogations have been normalised. More worryingly, it also mirrors deeper problems within the conventional US justice system, where the massive penal apparatus regularly keeps prisoners in appalling conditions for years on end.

In The Passion of Bradley Manning, one human-rights lawyer discusses how prisoners in Guantanamo Bay detention camp might be well advised to accept 10 years in the communal wing of that facility rather than three years in solitary at an American supermax prison, while another describes the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan as worse run than Gitmo.

For Madar, that's why Manning is so important. His disclosures matter because Americans remain ignorant about what's done in their name, whether in the bowels of high-security prisons or on the streets of Baghdad.

''I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy,'' Manning said during his web chat with Lamo. His fate depends on how many others feel likewise.

■ Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland. His most recent book, Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship, is published by Scribe.

The next item in the sorry saga of the persecution of Bradley Manning by his own government and that great "Bastion" of democratic support Barak Obama is this Must See" video from Nation of Change:

Worse than Nixon? Pentagon Papers Attorney Decries AP Phone Probe, Julian Assange Persecution

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez
Democracy Now! / Video Interview
Published: Saturday 18 May 2013 (from Nation of Change)

Some analysts are drawing comparisons between the Obama administration’s actions in the probe and those of the Nixon administration when it attempted to block The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam War leaked to that paper by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

The Justice Department’s disclosure that it had secretly subpoenaed phone records from the Associated Press has prompted a wave of comparisons between President Obama and Richard Nixon.

Four decades ago, the Nixon administration attempted to block The New York Times from publishing a secret history of the Vietnam War leaked to the newspaper by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Two days after the Times first published excerpts of what became known as the "Pentagon Papers," the Nixon government asked for and received a Supreme Court injunction against the newspaper, arguing that publication of the documents posed a "grave and immediate danger to the security of the United States." We speak to James Goodale, the general counsel at The New York Times during the Pentagon Papers crackdown. Goodale is a leading legal expert on the First Amendment and has just published a new book, "Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles."

Goodale said he wrote the book in part because of the work of Julian Assange of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and how he is likely being targeted by the U.S. government in an ongoing grand jury probe. "My book is meant to be a clarion call to the journalist community: Wake up! There’s danger out there," Goodale says. "You may not like Assange, but wake up! The First Amendment is really going to be damaged. If Obama goes forward and succeeds, he will have succeeded where Nixon failed."


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the growing concern over the Justice Department’s secret effort to spy on Associated Press reporters as part of an investigation into a leak about a failed terrorist attack. Some analysts are drawing comparisons between the Obama administration’s actions in the probe and those of the Nixon administration when it attempted to block The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam War leaked to that paper by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Two days after the Times first published excerpts of the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon government asked for and received a Supreme Court injunction against the newspaper, arguing that publication of the documents posed a, quote, "grave and immediate danger to the security of the United States." The link was raised Tuesday by a reporter during a briefing with White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

REPORTER: President Obama is being compared to President Nixon on this. How does he feel about that?

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: Again, I don’t have a reaction from President Obama. I can tell you that the people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history, because, you know, what we have here with one issue in Benghazi is so clearly, as we’re learning more and more, a political sideshow, a deliberate effort to politicize a tragedy. The president feels very strongly about that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Tuesday. Well, on Wednesday, the question was raised again of whether the Obama administration’s probe of the emails of Associated Press reporters and editors recalls Nixon’s targeting of the press. This time the question was posed directly to President Obama.

REPORTER: I’d like to ask you about the Justice Department.


REPORTER: Do you believe that the seizure of phone records from Associated Press journalists this week—or before, that was announced recently this week—was an overreach? And do you still have full confidence in your attorney general? Should we interpret yesterday’s renewed interest by the White House in a media shield law as a response to that? And, more broadly, how do you feel about comparisons by some of your critics of this week’s scandals to those that happened under the Nixon administration?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, yeah, I’ll let you guys engage in those comparisons. And you can go ahead and read the history, I think, and draw your own conclusions. My concern is making sure that if there’s a problem in the government, that we fix it. That’s my responsibility. And that’s what we’re going to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we turn to a guest who has a rather informed opinion on whether President Obama has been worse than President Nixon in their targeting of the press for published leaked information.

Joining us here in New York is James Goodale. He is the counsel—was the counsel for The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case, a leading legal expert on the First Amendment, has just published a new book, Fighting for the Press: Why the Pentagon Papers Case Still Matters.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!

JAMES GOODALE: Thank you very much for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: You say that President Obama is worse than President Nixon.

JAMES GOODALE: Well, more precisely, I say that if in fact he goes ahead and prosecutes Julian Assange, he will pass Nixon. He’s close to Nixon now. The AP example is a good example of something that Obama has done but Nixon never did. So I have him presently in second place, behind Nixon and ahead of Bush II. And he’s moving up fast. And if he goes ahead against Assange, he’ll at least be even, and we’ll have to see how that prosecution, if it takes place, comes out, because maybe he’ll pass him.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to the Pentagon Papers. We have a clip from a documentary that was made about Daniel Ellsberg. The documentary is called Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man in America. Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers directly contributed to the end of the Nixon presidency. His story is chronicled in the 2009 documentary. This is a clip.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: It was the evening of October 1st, 1969, when I first smuggled several hundred pages of top-secret documents out of my safe at the RANDCorporation. The study contained 47 volumes, 7,000 pages. My plan was to Xerox the study and reveal the secret history of the Vietnam War to the American people.

NEWSCASTER: The FBI was trying to find out who gave The New York Times a copy of a Pentagon secret study.

MIKE GRAVEL: Pow!, like a thunderclap, you get The New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers, and the country is panicking.

HENRY KISSINGER: This is an attack on the whole integrity of government. If whole file cabinets can be stolen and then made available to the press, you can’t have orderly government anymore.

WALTER CRONKITE: A name has now come out as the possible source of the TimesPentagon documents. It is that of Daniel Ellsberg, a top policy analyst for the Defense and State Departments.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I think it is time in this country to quit making national heroes out of those who steal secrets and publish them in the newspaper.

PATRICIA ELLSBERG: In the first year of marriage, we’re talking about him going to prison for the rest of his life.

REPORTER: Dr. Ellsberg, do you have any concern about the possibility of going to prison for this?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Wouldn’t you go to prison to help end this war?

EGIL "BUD" KROGH JR.: We felt so strongly that we were dealing with a national security crisis. Henry Kissinger said that Dr. Daniel Ellsberg was "the most dangerous man in America" and he had to be stopped.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is another clip of Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man in America, where he focuses on how the Nixon White House responded to Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers. It begins with John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon.

JOHN DEAN: I think that there is probably some good justification for the strong feelings Nixon had. He would make a decision in the National Security Council and the next day read it on the front page of The New York Times or some other newspaper. This makes it virtually impossible to govern.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Just because some guy is going to be a martyr, we can’t be in a position of allowing the fellow to get away with this kind of wholesale thievery, or otherwise it’s going to happen all over the government. I just say that we’ve got to keep our eye on the main ball. The main ball is Ellsberg. We’ve got to get this son of a [bleep].

JOHN DEAN: The leak of the Pentagon Papers changed the Nixon White House. It really is what some of us have called the beginning of the dark period. I mean, it was rough and tumble before, but it got down and dirty. So it’s really a defining event for the Nixon presidency.

AMY GOODMAN: That was John Dean and, before that, Richard Nixon. James Goodale, how The New York Times came into this story and the decisions it had to make at the time, when Nixon tried to stop New York Times from publishing?

JAMES GOODALE: How did The New York Times come into it? Well, because he brought The New York Times into it. What the Pentagon Papers case is about is censorship. And lawyers call it "prior restraint." And after publishing for three days, all of a sudden we were in court. And several days later, really, we were in the Supreme Court. So the Times came into it, because I believed and those at the Times believed that this was an outrage and that the First Amendment protected us and that the government had no ability to come in and tell us not what we shouldn’t print—sorry for the double negative—or what we should print. And we put our troops together and beat him.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in your book, it’s a really gripping account of the inside story of what happened, but you actually start with what happened a year earlier with Earl Caldwell and the Nixon administration coming after Earl Caldwell at The New York Times, as well, to seek information from him.

JAMES GOODALE: You know, I’m so glad you asked me that, because the subtitle of the book is "Other Battles." And the other battles are the reporter’s—what we call "reporter’s privilege" battles. That is to say, the ability of the reporter to keep sources from being disclosed. And, hey, where are we today, where AP—it’s the very same thing as Earl Caldwell, who was a black reporter who tried to keep his information secret from Nixon. And it started right there.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Earl had been writing articles about the Black Panther Party that the—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —Nixon administration wanted his notes on, right, as well?

JAMES GOODALE: He was virtually the only black reporter at The New York Times at that time. He gained access, I would think perhaps because he was into the Black Panther headquarters, and he gained their trust. So it was very important for the public to have someone who would explain the Black Panthers to the public. And his position was that if he had to say what he saw and tell what he knew, his credibility would be ruined.

Now, what’s interesting about this case, and also its parallel to the Pentagon Papers case, is, when it went to the Supreme Court, where he—I say he won, but other people say he lost—sort of a tie—but he had to be taken back to court. Guess what? Nixon forgot about him. So why did Nixon bring it in the first place? You know why: because it was a political case and wasn’t a real case. And I would suggest the Pentagon Papers case is not a real case; it’s a political case.

When I—I’ve got one message, basic message, in the Pentagon Papers part of the book, which is: When you look back at the so-called secrets, which the audience heard about in the clips, it’s all a bunch of malarkey. There are no secrets. The case with the Pentagon Papers was a bunch of—bunch of hot air. So, therefore, when we hear today the attorney general saying, "This is the worst secret I have ever seen disclosed," you know, beware, because, invariably, these secrets turn out to be non-secrets. They are the ability of the government to protect themselves and their own information and their own political power.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the things that you raise also in the comparisons to today with the Julian Assange case and Bradley Manning is the government not only went after Ellsberg, but it went after the reporter to whom Ellsberg leaked the information, just as now the government is trying to go not only after Manning, the leaker, but after Assange, the receiver of the leaks.

JAMES GOODALE: After the Pentagon Papers ended, which was a case about censorship, Mitchell, who was Nixon’s attorney general, got very excited about prosecuting The New York Times. People have forgotten about that. So he convened a grand jury in Boston, because there was some evidence that the Pentagon Papers had been circulated in the antiwar community before they were published by The New York Times. And the theory was that the New York Times reporter conspired with those antiwar protesters, and he was going to indict them for conspiracy.

So, now, fast-forward. What is Obama doing? He’s convened a grand jury. We haven’t heard about it; I think it’s still there. I think it may have even indicted Assange in secrecy. But what’s the charge? Conspiracy. Well, we don’t expect our listeners to be lawyers and jump up and down when they hear the word "conspiracy." I just want to tell you in the audience, it’s very easy to prove conspiracy, very hard to prove espionage under the Espionage Act. So what Obama is doing is doing an end run and trying to get an easy case against Assange, after he’s convicted Manning. It’s easy to convict Manning, OK? So that easy conviction then becomes the basis for the agreement for Assange.

So, my book is meant to be a clarion call to the journalist community: Wake up! There’s danger out there. You may not like Assange, but wake up! The First Amendment is really going to be damaged, if Obama goes forward. And as I said at the beginning of the show, if he does and succeeds, he will have succeeded where Nixon failed.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s play a clip from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he was onDemocracy Now! last November. He warns about the consequences of the Espionage Act being reinterpreted.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Now, the new interpretation of the Espionage Act that the Pentagon is trying to hammer in to the legal system, and which the Department of Justice is complicit in, would mean the end of national security journalism in the United States, and not only the United States, because the Pentagon is trying to apply this extraterritorially.

Why would it be the end of national security journalism? Because the interpretation is that if any document that the U.S. government claims to be classified is given to a journalist, who then makes any part of it public, that journalist has committed espionage, and the person who gave them the material has committed the crime, communicating with the enemy.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange was speaking to us from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is holed up. He got political asylum in Ecuador, but the British government won’t allow him to come out of the embassy to make his way to Ecuador. They say they will arrest him and extradite him to Sweden. He is concerned about then being extradited to the United States, where, as you say, you think that there is a sealed indictment against him. We know there’s a secret grand jury against him.

JAMES GOODALE: Better than 50 percent. I don’t know, because it’s secret, yeah. But that’s why he’s holed up. His lawyers are convinced, one step out, he’s into Sweden, and he’s right through Sweden over here.

And he’s quite right about talking about the threat to journalism with respect to the way Obama is going about prosecuting him.

What lawyers like to say is that if in fact the prosecution goes forward, as Julian Assange has said, it criminalizes news gathering, because I talk to you and ask you to give me a secret, or anything, but in fact that anything may be classified; we’re all both going to go off to the hoosegow. And, you know, Obama has classified, I think, seven million—in one year, classified seven million documents. Everything is classified. So that would give the government the ability to control all its information on the theory that it’s classified. And if anybody asks for it and gets it, they’re complicit, and they’re going to go to jail. So that criminalizes the process, and it means that the dissemination of information, which is inevitable, out of the classified sources of that information will be stopped.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about the—

JAMES GOODALE: It’s very dangerous. That’s why I’m—I get excited when I talk about it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about the irony of the Obama administration, after the news of their surveillance of the AP comes out, then going to Chuck Schumer and saying, "We need a stronger shield law"?

JAMES GOODALE: I mean, that—I have this whole history in my book. And I just thought that was quite ridiculous, because the bill that Obama asked Schumer to put into the House has an exception for national security. In other words, if you’re a reporter and you’re talking about national security, the law doesn’t apply. But what is the whole controversy about today with respect to AP? It’s about a national security exception to the privilege that you would think reporters would otherwise have. So, Obama puts it out, thinking the public doesn’t know what I know, and I’m really going to be good to reporters, but it doesn’t protect them at all in the AP situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Keller, the former executive editor of The New York Times, who partnered with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on several major releases, has since written critical columns about Assange. One of his columns ended with the line, quote, "The most palpable legacy of the WikiLeaks campaign for transparency is that the U.S. government is more secretive than ever." You were the general counsel for The New York Times.

JAMES GOODALE: Well, you know, we’ve gone the full secret—we’ve gone the full circle. When the Pentagon Papers came out, all the journalists and publishers said it’s a new era. The government isn’t going to be able to keep the secrets anymore—which they aren’t secrets, anyway, in my humble opinion. They’re not going to be able to hold back the information. We’ve had this great victory.

But now we are X years later, and we’ve got Obama, who indicted six journalists. I said that’s terrible, in my book. But look what we’re talking about in the AP situation. He’s trying to find a source who he can indict who will be the seventh. The secrecy has increased during the Obama administration. We have gone nowhere in terms of that.

But we do have a very good precedent that Obama can’t stop the press before printing. That was good. But let’s face it. In the digital age, no one cares about that anymore. In the digital age, the action is what the government will do after publication, after Assange has published. What are the rules there? So, this is a new chapter in the history of the Pentagon Papers.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you, James Goodale, very much for being with us.

JAMES GOODALE: You’re entirely welcome.

AMY GOODMAN: Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. James C. Goodale is the former general counsel of The New York Times, when President Nixon tried to stop the Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

This is Democracy Now!,

The War and Peace Report.

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Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

12 May 2013


This article is from Antony Loewenstein's blog and is dated 9 May 2013:

Watch furore over Stephen Hawking back BDS and realise its morality

Let the pub­lic de­bate thrive. Fol­low­ing Stephen Hawk­ing’s de­ci­sion to sup­port the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Is­rael, in a highly prin­ci­pled stand, the issue has caused glob­ally gnash­ing of teeth and re­flec­tion. In short, most Zion­ists just can’t un­der­stand why any­body would pick on poor, lit­tle, oc­cu­py­ing Is­rael. Some rel­e­vant in­sights below.

The Guardian:

The cel­e­brated physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing be­came em­broiled in a deep­en­ing furore today over his de­ci­sion to boy­cott a pres­ti­gious con­fer­ence in Is­rael in protest over the state’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine.

Hawk­ing, a world-renowned sci­en­tist and best­selling au­thor who has had motor neu­rone dis­ease for 50 years, can­celled his ap­pear­ance at the high-pro­file Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence, which is per­son­ally spon­sored by Is­rael’s pres­i­dent, Shi­mon Peres, after a bar­rage of ap­peals from Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics.

The move, de­nounced by promi­nent Is­raelis and wel­comed by pro-Pales­tin­ian cam­paign­ers, en­tan­gled Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity – Hawk­ing’s aca­d­e­mic base since 1975 – which ini­tially claimed the sci­en­tist’s with­drawal was on med­ical grounds, be­fore con­ced­ing a po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion.

The uni­ver­sity’s volte-face came after the Guardian pre­sented it with the text of a let­ter sent from Hawk­ing to the or­gan­is­ers of the high-pro­file con­fer­ence in Jerusalem, clearly stat­ing that he was with­draw­ing from the con­fer­ence in order to re­spect the call for a boy­cott by Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics.

The full text of the let­ter, dated 3 May, said: “I ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion to the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence with the in­ten­tion that this would not only allow me to ex­press my opin­ion on the prospects for a peace set­tle­ment but also be­cause it would allow me to lec­ture on the West Bank. How­ever, I have re­ceived a num­ber of emails from Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics. They are unan­i­mous that I should re­spect the boy­cott. In view of this, I must with­draw from the con­fer­ence. Had I at­tended, I would have stated my opin­ion that the pol­icy of the pre­sent Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is likely to lead to dis­as­ter.”

Hawk­ing’s de­ci­sion to throw his weight be­hind the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Is­rael met with an angry re­sponse from the or­gan­is­ers of the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence, an an­nual event hosted by Is­raeli pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres.

“The aca­d­e­mic boy­cott against Is­rael is in our view out­ra­geous and im­proper, cer­tainly for some­one for whom the spirit of lib­erty lies at the basis of his human and aca­d­e­mic mis­sion,” said con­fer­ence chair­man Is­rael Mai­mon. “Is­rael is a democ­racy in which all in­di­vid­u­als are free to ex­press their opin­ions, what­ever they may be. The im­po­si­tion of a boy­cott is in­com­pat­i­ble with open, de­mo­c­ra­tic di­a­logue.”

Daniel Taub, the Is­raeli am­bas­sador to Lon­don, said: “It is a great shame that Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing has with­drawn from the pres­i­dent’s con­fer­ence … Rather than cav­ing into pres­sure from po­lit­i­cal ex­trem­ists, ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in such events is a far more con­struc­tive way to pro­mote progress and peace.”

The Wolf Foun­da­tion, which awarded Hawk­ing the Wolf prize in physics in 1988, said it was “sad to learn that some­one of Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing’s stand­ing chose to ca­pit­u­late to ir­rel­e­vant pres­sures and will re­frain from vis­it­ing Is­rael”.

But Pales­tini­ans wel­comed Hawk­ing’s de­ci­sion. “Pales­tini­ans deeply ap­pre­ci­ate Stephen Hawk­ing’s sup­port for an aca­d­e­mic boy­cott of Is­rael,” said Omar Bargh­outi, a found­ing mem­ber of the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment. “We think this will rekin­dle the kind of in­ter­est among in­ter­na­tional aca­d­e­mics in aca­d­e­mic boy­cotts that was pre­sent in the strug­gle against apartheid in South Africa.”

Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics sent a bar­rage of let­ters to Hawk­ing in re­cent weeks in an at­tempt to per­suade him to join the boy­cott move­ment.

Samia al-Bot­meh, of Birzeit Uni­ver­sity in the West Bank, said: “We tried to com­mu­ni­cate two points to him. First, that Is­rael is a colo­nial en­tity that in­volves vi­o­la­tions of the rights of the Pales­tini­ans, in­clud­ing aca­d­e­mic free­dom, and then ask­ing him to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mic col­leagues who have called for sol­i­dar­ity from in­ter­na­tional aca­d­e­mics in the form of boy­cotting Is­raeli acad­e­mia and aca­d­e­mic in­sti­tu­tions.”

Hawk­ing’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from the con­fer­ence was “fan­tas­tic”, said Bot­meh. “I think it’s won­der­ful that he has acted on moral grounds. That’s very eth­i­cal and very im­por­tant for us as Pales­tini­ans to know and un­der­stand that there are prin­ci­pled col­leagues in the world who are will­ing to take a stand in sol­i­dar­ity with an oc­cu­pied peo­ple.”

Com­ments on so­cial media in Is­rael were over­whelm­ingly op­posed to Hawk­ing’s move, with a small num­ber en­gag­ing in per­sonal abuse over his phys­i­cal con­di­tion. A mi­nor­ity of com­men­ta­tors sup­ported his stance on Is­rael’s 46-year oc­cu­pa­tion of thePales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries.

In ad­di­tion to the let­ter sent by Hawk­ing to the con­fer­ence or­gan­is­ers, a state­ment in his name was sent to the British Com­mit­tee for the Uni­ver­si­ties in Pales­tine, con­firm­ing his with­drawal from the con­fer­ence for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons. The word­ing was ap­proved by Hawk­ing’s per­sonal as­sis­tant after con­sul­ta­tion with Tim Holt, the act­ing di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity.

On Wednes­day morn­ing, fol­low­ing the Guardian’s rev­e­la­tion that Hawk­ing was boy­cotting the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence, Holt is­sued a state­ment say­ing: “Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing will not be at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence in Is­rael in June for health rea­sons – his doc­tors have ad­vised against him fly­ing.”

How­ever, a later state­ment said: “We have now re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion from Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing’s of­fice that a let­ter was sent on Fri­day to the Is­raeli pres­i­dent’s of­fice re­gard­ing his de­ci­sion not to at­tend the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence, based on ad­vice from Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics that he should re­spect the boy­cott.”

In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with the Guardian, Holt of­fered “my apolo­gies for the con­fu­sion”.

This year’s con­fer­ence is ex­pected to be at­tended by 5,000 peo­ple from around the world, in­clud­ing busi­ness lead­ers, aca­d­e­mics, artists and for­mer heads of state. For­mer US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, for­mer UK prime min­is­ter Tony Blair, for­mer Russ­ian pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev, Prince Al­bert of Monaco and Bar­bra Streisand have ac­cepted in­vi­ta­tions, ac­cord­ing to or­gan­is­ers.

A highly un­sci­en­tific Guardian on­line poll finds huge sup­port for Hawk­ing’s stand. In Haaretz, note the ar­gu­ment put for­ward by an aca­d­e­mic, typ­i­cal of many Zion­ists. Rather than ad­dress­ing the rea­sons Is­rael is in­creas­ingly iso­lated, let’s focus on stronger ties to the out­side world. Fail:

The media re­ports Wednes­day that Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing would not be at­tend­ing the Pres­i­dent’s Con­fer­ence in Is­rael next month prompted many to ac­cuse the world-renowned sci­en­tist of anti-Semi­tism.

Hawk­ing, how­ever, has al­ready vis­ited Is­rael four times, in­clud­ing the last time, in 2006, at the in­vi­ta­tion of the British Em­bassy. Dur­ing that trip, he vis­ited uni­ver­si­ties in Is­rael and the Pales­tin­ian Au­thor­ity and said he hoped to meet Is­raeli and Pales­tin­ian sci­en­tists.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Guardian, ever since Hawk­ing’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­fer­ence was made known some four weeks ago, he has been bom­barded with count­less emails and let­ters from Britain and other places in the world, call­ing on him to re­voke his de­ci­sion.

In view of Hawk­ing’s pre­vi­ous vis­its to Is­rael, how­ever, it would be dif­fi­cult to brand him anti-Se­mitic. Per­haps he just wanted to avoid the headache in­volved in any visit to Is­rael by a well-known sci­en­tist or per­former.

Among those fight­ing to thwart the re­peated at­tempts, es­pe­cially in Britain, to boy­cott uni­ver­si­ties in Is­rael is David New­man, Dean of the Fac­ulty of Hu­man­i­ties and So­cial Sci­ences at Ben-Gu­rion Uni­ver­sity of the Negev. New­man says that the ma­jor­ity of the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment was once lim­ited to mere procla­ma­tions by var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions, but that this has been chang­ing in re­cent years. Now, he says, boy­cott ef­forts are car­ried out pri­mar­ily by de­ter­mined ac­tivists who bom­bard pub­lic fig­ures plan­ning to come to Is­rael with an on­slaught emails and faxes. This is prob­a­bly what hap­pened to Hawk­ing. If so, it means Is­rael may not be a pariah yet, but it is cer­tainly no longer a place every­one trav­els to gladly.

Ac­cord­ing to New­man, one of the founders of Ben-Gu­rion Uni­ver­sity’s pol­i­tics and gov­ern­ment de­part­ment, which has been ac­cused by local Mc­Carthy­ists of hav­ing dan­ger­ous left­ist ten­den­cies, the an­swer to these at­tempts to im­pose an aca­d­e­mic boy­cott on Is­rael is to strengthen the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Is­raeli and in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tists.

Acts such as up­grad­ing the sta­tus of the Ariel Uni­ver­sity Cen­ter, and threats like the one by the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil to shut down Ben-Gu­rion’s pol­i­tics and gov­ern­ment de­part­ment these hardly con­tribute to fur­ther­ing said co­op­er­a­tion.

In 972 mag­a­zine, al­ways in­ter­est­ing Is­raeli writer Noam Sheizaf ar­gues that Is­raelis can’t be sur­prised by the grow­ing move to­wards boy­cotts and should stop play­ing the vic­tim:

The British Guardian on Wednes­day re­ported that Prof. Stephen Hawk­ing hascan­celled his ap­pear­ance at the fifth Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence due to take place this June, in protest of Is­rael’s treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans. The re­port was later con­firmed by Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity. A spokeper­son for the Jerusalem-based con­fer­ence called Hawk­ing’s de­ci­sion “out­ra­geous and im­proper.”

One of Haaretz’s lead­ing lefty colum­nists, Carlo Strenger, wrote an open let­ter to Hawk­ing echo­ing these feel­ings. After ex­press­ing pride in his own op­po­si­tion to the oc­cu­pa­tion, Strenger ac­cuses Hawk­ing of hypocrisy and ap­ply­ing a dou­ble stan­dard; he claims that Is­rael’s human rights vi­o­la­tions are “neg­li­gi­ble” com­pared to those of other coun­tries in the world, and notes that the Is­raeli acad­e­mia is for the most part lib­eral and there­fore can’t be blamed for the oc­cu­pa­tion.

I would like to re­spond to some of the points he makes, since they rep­re­sent a larger prob­lem with the Is­raeli left.


While Hawk­ing re­sponded to the call for aca­d­e­mic boy­cott, it should be noted that the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence is not an aca­d­e­mic event: it’s an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the Is­raeli busi­ness, po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary elites, whose pur­pose is un­clear at best, and which has lit­tle im­por­tance in Is­raeli life (it didn’t exist until five years ago). The pro-oc­cu­pa­tion Right has a heavy pres­ence at the con­fer­ence – or at least it felt that way last year, when I at­tended. I will get back to the no­tion of “the lib­eral acad­e­mia” and the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence later.

Per­son­ally, I think we should put the “dou­ble stan­dards” line of de­fense to rest, since it’s sim­ply an ex­cuse against any form of ac­tion. The geno­cide in Cam­bo­dia was tak­ing place at the same time as the boy­cott ef­fort against South Africa. Ac­cord­ing to Prof. Strenger’s logic, anti-Apartheid ac­tivists were guilty of dou­ble stan­dards; they should have con­cen­trated their ef­forts on many other, and “much worse” regimes.

The no­tion ac­cord­ing to which the hor­rors in Syria or Dar­fur make end­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion a less wor­thy cause rep­re­sents the worst kind of moral rel­a­tivism, es­pe­cially when it’s being voiced by mem­bers of the oc­cu­py­ing so­ci­ety.

I’m also not sure what makes Is­raeli human rights vi­o­la­tions “neg­li­gi­ble” com­pared to those of other coun­tries. I cer­tainly do not think that killing hun­dreds of civil­ians in one month dur­ing Cast Lead was “neg­li­gi­ble,” but the oc­cu­pa­tion goes way be­yond the num­ber of corpses it leaves be­hind – it has a lot to do with the pres­sure on the daily lives of all Pales­tini­ans, and with the fact that it’s gone on for so long, af­fect­ing peo­ple through their en­tire lives (I wrote on the need to see be­yond death sta­tis­tics here). Plus, there is some­thing about the fact that it’s an Is­raeli who is de­ter­min­ing that those human rights vi­o­la­tions are “neg­li­gi­ble,” which makes me un­easy – just as we don’t want to hear the Chi­nese using the same term when dis­cussing Tibet.

I will not go into all of Strenger’s ra­tio­nal­iza­tions for the oc­cu­pa­tion – his claims that the Pales­tini­ans an­swered Is­rael’s gen­er­ous peace of­fers with the sec­ond In­tifada; that as long as Hamas is in power there is no­body to talk to, that Is­rael is fight­ing for its sur­vival against an ex­is­ten­tial threat, and so on. I don’t think that a fact-based his­tor­i­cal analy­sis sup­ports any of these ideas, but Strenger is en­ti­tled to his view. If you think the oc­cu­pa­tion is jus­ti­fied, or at least in­evitable, you ob­vi­ously see any ac­tion against it as il­le­git­i­mate and un­called for.

Yet the thing that made Prof. Strenger jump is not “any ac­tion” but rather some­thing very spe­cific – the aca­d­e­mic boy­cott. Per­son­ally, I think that his text mostly por­trays a self-per­cep­tion of in­no­cence. Is­rael, ac­cord­ing to Strenger, doesn’t de­serve to be boy­cotted and the “lib­eral aca­d­e­mics” – like him­self – specif­i­cally, don’t de­serve it be­cause they “op­pose the oc­cu­pa­tion.”

At this point in time, I think it’s im­pos­si­ble to make such dis­tinc­tions. The oc­cu­pa­tion – which will cel­e­brate 46 years next month – is ob­vi­ously an Is­raeli pro­ject, to which all el­e­ments of so­ci­ety con­tribute and from which al­most all ben­e­fit. The high-tech in­dus­try’s con­nec­tion to the mil­i­tary has been widely dis­cussed, the profit Is­raeli com­pa­nies make ex­ploit­ing West Bank re­sources is doc­u­mented and the cap­tive mar­ket for Is­raeli goods in the West Bank and Gaza is known. Strenger’s own uni­ver­sity co­op­er­ates with the army in var­i­ous pro­grams, and thus con­tributes its own share to the na­tional pro­ject.

I would also say that at this point in time, pay­ing lip ser­vice to the two state-so­lu­tion while blam­ing the Pales­tini­ans for avoid­ing peace can­not be con­sid­ered op­pos­ing to the oc­cu­pa­tion, un­less you want to in­clude Lieber­man and Ne­tanyahu in the peace camp. We should be ask­ing our­selves ques­tions about po­lit­i­cal ac­tion as op­posed to dis­cussing our views: where do we con­tribute to the oc­cu­pa­tion and what form of ac­tions do we con­sider le­git­i­mate in the fight against it?

Prof. Stephen Hawk­ing re­sponded to a Pales­tin­ian call for sol­i­dar­ity. This is also some­thing to re­mem­ber – that the op­pressed have opin­ions too, and that em­pow­er­ing them is a wor­thy cause. In Strenger’s world, the oc­cu­pa­tion is a topic of in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion among the Jew­ish-Is­raeli pub­lic. Some peo­ple sup­port it, some peo­ple – more – are against it; the Pales­tini­ans should sim­ply wait for the tide to change since “it is very dif­fi­cult for Is­raeli politi­cians to con­vince Is­raelis to take risks for peace.” And what hap­pens if Is­raelis don’t chose to end the oc­cu­pa­tion? (Which is ex­actly what they are doing, over and over again.) I won­der what form of Pales­tin­ian op­po­si­tion to the oc­cu­pa­tion Prof. Strenger con­sid­ers le­git­i­mate. My guess: none (code phrase: “they should ne­go­ti­ate for peace”).


The is­sues of boy­cott and anti-nor­mal­iza­tion are per­haps the tough­est for Is­raeli left­ists right now. Like every­one who deals with Pales­tini­ans – if only oc­ca­sion­ally – I have per­son­ally felt the ef­fects of var­i­ous cam­paigns against the oc­cu­pa­tion. I could also say that I have felt alien­ated by the lan­guage and tone of many pro-Pales­tin­ian ac­tivists. Often I feel that they re­ject my Is­raeli iden­tity as a whole, some­times even my ex­is­tence. Many even re­frain from using the name “Is­rael”, leav­ing very lit­tle room for joint ac­tion or sim­ply for mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tion.

But all this is be­side the point right now. While I my­self have never ad­vo­cated a full boy­cott, I think that the least Is­raeli left­ists can do is to not stand in the way of non-vi­o­lent Pales­tin­ian ef­forts to end the oc­cu­pa­tion. It’s not only the moral thing to do, but also a smarter strat­egy be­cause as long as Is­raelis don’t feel that the sta­tus quo is tak­ing some toll on their lives, they will con­tinue to avoid the un­pleas­ant po­lit­i­cal choices which are nec­es­sary for ter­mi­nat­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion. Since the Is­raeli left is often un­able to admit its own share in the oc­cu­pa­tion – and there­fore ac­knowl­edge the le­git­i­macy of Pales­tin­ian re­sis­tance – again and again it acts against its own stated goals.

2012 was the most peace­ful year the West Bank has known in a long time (for Is­raelis, that is), and yet at its very end, Is­raelis chose a coali­tion which all but ig­nores the oc­cu­pa­tion. The prob­lem is not just the politi­cians; Is­raelis are sim­ply ab­sorbed by other is­sues. I hope that Stephen Hawk­ing’s ab­sence will serve as a re­minder for the gen­er­als, politi­cians and diplo­mats who will at­tend the Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence next month of the things hap­pen­ing just a few miles to their east – as “neg­li­gi­ble” as they may seem to some.

Fi­nally, Ben White writes in Al-Jazeera that there are count­less rea­sons why Is­rael must face in­ter­na­tional sanc­tion:

The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment and var­i­ous lobby groups use events such as the “Pres­i­den­tial Con­fer­ence” to white­wash Is­rael’s crimes past and pre­sent, a tac­tic some­times re­ferred to as “re­brand­ing”. As a Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs of­fi­cial put it after the 2009 Gaza mas­sacre, it is the kind of ap­proach that means send­ing “well-known nov­el­ists and writ­ers over­seas, the­atre com­pa­nies, [and] ex­hibits” in order to “show Is­rael’s pret­tier face, so we are not thought of purely in the con­text of war”. “Brand Is­rael” is all about cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive image for a coun­try that is the tar­get of human rights cam­paign­ers the world over – as if tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions or high-pro­file con­fer­ences can hide the re­al­ity of oc­cu­pa­tion and eth­nic cleans­ing.

Pales­tini­ans suf­fer­ing under Is­raeli apartheid are call­ing for Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) as a strat­egy in the re­al­i­sa­tion of their basic rights, a fact that many Zion­ists choose to ig­nore when at­tack­ing boy­cott cam­paigns. The Pales­tin­ian civil so­ci­ety call for BDS was of­fi­cially launched on July 9 2005, a year after the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice’s ad­vi­sory opin­ion on the il­le­gal­ity of Is­rael’s Sep­a­ra­tion Wall. Sig­na­to­ries to the BDS call come from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zens of Is­rael, and Pales­tin­ian refugees. Since then, grow­ing num­bers of peo­ple in the likes of acad­e­mia, the arts world, trade unions and faith com­mu­ni­ties have an­swered the BDS call with ini­tia­tives that put the focus firmly on Is­rael’s rou­tine vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional law and end­ing com­plic­ity in these crimes. Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing is to be com­mended for seek­ing the ad­vice of Pales­tin­ian aca­d­e­mics, and heed­ing their re­quest for in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity in a decades-long strug­gle for free­dom and jus­tice.

10 May 2013


This item was part of a Nation of Change daily report: 30 APRIL 2013

Julian Assange Calls on Public to Support Bradley Manning

I had an opportunity to interview WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted political asylum since June 2012. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex allegations, although he has never been charged. Assange believes that if sent to Sweden, he would be put into prison and then sent to the United States, where he is already being investigated for espionage for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic and military memos on the WikiLeaks website.

Bradley Manning has been in prison for over 3 years now. His trial will begin on June 2. Bradley already pleaded guilty in February to ten charges, including possessing classified information and transferring it to an unauthorized person. Those pleas alone could subject him to 20 years in prison. On top of that, the government has added espionage charges that could put him in prison for life.

What do you think the trial will be like?

It will be a show trial where the government tries to prove that by leaking the documents, Bradley “aided and abetted the enemy” or “communicated with the enemy.” The government will bring in a member of the Navy Seal team that killed bin Laden to say that he found some of the leaked information in bin Laden’s house.

But it’s ridiculous to use that as evidence that Bradley Manning “aided the enemy”. Bin Laden could have gotten the material from The New York Times!

Bin Laden also had a Bob Woodword book, and no doubt had copies of articles from The New York Times.

The government doesn’t even claim that Bradley passed information directly to “the enemy” or that he had any intent to do so. But they are nonetheless making the absurd claim that merely informing the public about classified government activities makes someone a traitor because it “indirectly informs the enemy”.

With that reasoning, since bin Laden recommended that Americans read Bob Woodward book Obama’s War, should Woodward be charged with communicating with the enemy? Should The New York Times be accused of aiding the enemy if bin Laden possessed a copy of the newspaper that included the WikiLeaks material?

What are some things that Bradley Manning supporters can do to help?

They should pressure the media to speak out against the espionage charges. The Los Angeles Times put out a good editorial but other newspapers have been poor. A Wall Street Journal column by Gordon Crovitz said that Bradley should be tried for espionage, and that I should be charged with that as well because I’m a “self-proclaimed enemy of the state.”

If Manning is charged with espionage, this criminalizes national security reporting. Any leak of classified information to any media organization could be interpreted as an act of treason. People need to convince the media that it is clearly in their self-interest to take a principled stand.

What are other ways people can help Bradley Manning’s case?

People could put pressure on Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These groups briefly protested the horrible conditions under which Bradley was detained when he was held in Quantico, but not the fact that he’s being charged with crimes that could put him in prison for life.

It’s embarrassing that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—Amnesty International headquartered in London and Human Rights Watch headquartered in New York—have refused to refer to Bradley Manning as a political prisoner or a prisoner of conscience.

To name someone a political prisoner means that the case is political in nature. It can be that the prisoner committed a political act or was politically motivated or there was a politicisation of the legal investigation or the trial.

Any one of these is sufficient, according to Amnesty's own definition, to name someone a political prisoner. But Bradley Manning’s case fulfills all of these criteria. Despite this, Amnesty International has said that it’s not going to make a decision until after the sentence. But what good is that?

What is Amnesty’s rationale for waiting?

Their excuse is that they don’t know what might come out in the trial and they want to be sure that Bradley released the information in a “responsible manner.”

I find their position grotesque. Bradley Manning is the most famous political prisoner the United States has. He has been detained without trial for over 1,000 days. Not even the US government denies his alleged acts were political.

Human Rights Watch doesn’t refer to Bradley Manning as a political prisoner either. These groups should be pushed by the public to change their stand. And they should be boycotted if they continue to shirk acting in their own backyard.

Another way for people to support Bradley Manning is to attend his trial in Ft. Meade, Maryland, which begins on June 2, and the rally on June 1. They can learn more by contacting the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Thank you for your time, Julian.
Medea Benjamin is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink and, along with her husband, activist and author Kevin Danaher, fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange. Benjamin also was a Green Party candidate in 2000 for the United States Senate.

Why I Am on a Hunger Strike to Shut Down Guantanamo Bay Prison By Diane Wilson Well, Congress, you must not sleep well at night. The Death of Truth By Chris Hedges The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth.


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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm