30 December 2016


  • December 28 2016  Sydney Morning Herald

Israel warned New Zealand that UN resolution was 'declaration of war': report

·         Henry Cooke
Wellington: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally phoned New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully to warn him a UN resolution co-sponsored by the country was a "declaration of war",  according to a leading Israeli newspaper.
The UN Security Council resolution called for Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, declaring the settlements "illegal".

Netanyahu labels UN vote 'shameful'


Kerry pleas for two-state solution in ...


Kerry warns Middle East peace in jeopardy

Less than a month before leaving office, Secretary of State John Kerry issues a warning to Israel over the waning chances at peace with Palestine.
It was picked up and sponsored by New Zealand and three other countries after US President-elect Donald Trump reportedly pressured Egypt into dropping it.
It was passed on Saturday after the US abstained instead of vetoing, as they historically have done on votes concerning Israel.
In the aftermath, Israel has withdrawn its ambassador to New Zealand and barred New Zealand's ambassador to Israel.
Netanyahu lashed out at other Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the US ambassador for a scolding. Netanyahu has publicly called it a "shameful anti-Israel resolution".
The Israeli daily Haaretzciting unnamed Western diplomats, reported that a "harsh" phone call took place between Netanyahu and McCully on the day of the vote.
"This is a scandalous decision. I'm asking that you not support it and not promote it," Netanyahu reportedly told McCully.

Lashed out: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: AP
"If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences."
McCully reportedly refused to back down, according to Haaretz, telling Netanyahu the resolution was consistent with New Zealand policy on the dispute.
Stood firm: NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Photo: Getty Images
McCully's office have confirmed to Fairfax Media that a phone call between the minister and Netanyahu took place just before the vote. They refused to publicly comment on the content of the conversation.
Israel's ambassador to New Zealand Itzhak Gerberg will meet with Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss whether further sanctions against New Zealand are appropriate. Israel's embassy said that "until further notice" no more sanctions would be imposed.
US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, centre, raises her hand to abstain during the UN Security Council vote on Friday. Photo: AP
Earlier this week McCully publicly said that Israel shouldn't be surprised by New Zealand's position.
"We have been very open about our view that the [Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question," he said.
New Zealand has used its time on the Security Council to consistently call for a halt to settlements.
Its two-year term as a non-permanent member ends this month.
New Zealand was the only Western nation to co-sponsor the resolution, joining Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.
The Security Council passed the resolution 14-0, with the United States abstaining.

28 December 2016


I personally don't think I can add much to what Tony Greenstein has laid out below, but let's go back to the old days when this "august" newspaper was known as the Manchester Guardian. Back then I believe the newspaper was known for its generally left-wing views on the political issues of the day - after WWII from 1950 onwards.

In its later manifestation it had gained so much readership from elsewhere in the UK south of Manchester that it changed its name to "The Guardian.

When one of South Africa's remaining anti-apartheid newspapers was busy collapsing due to the ramifications of the apartheid government - the South African one, not the Israeli one -  the Guardian  more or stepped in and provided an alternative newspaper voice and the paper in South Africa to this day is called the Mail and Guardian.

The Guardian along the way has spread its wings until these days, in the 2000s, it is as right wing as they come. 

What a shame and what a disgrace is their behaviour towards Antony Loewenstein and others who have other political views to the developing right-wing approach being pushed by the Guardian.

What a let-down to everybody in this reactionary political climate around the world to have what was one of the remaining newspapers with a little proper journalism still left, losing the plot altogether and supporting apartheid Israel at a time when Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are beginning to show their effect on apartheid Israel.



Saturday, 24 December 2016 - from Tony Greenstein blog

Guardian Cowardice as it abandons Antony Loewenstein to Israel's Ministry of Information

Antony Loewenstein's profile on Guardian website which lists over a 100 articles he has written

The article below by Jonathan Cook, a freelance journalist who used to work for The Guardian is self-explanatory.  A journalist, Antony Loewenstein, who has contributed 90 articles to the Guardian over the past 3 years as a freelance journalist, had the temerity to ask a difficult question of Israel’s uber-racist politician Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid.  Lapid masquerades as a Zionist centrist but he is virtually indistinguishable from Netanyahu. 
Antony Loewenstein - his crime was asking an uncomfortable question of Israeli MK and leader of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, a notorious racist opposed to 'mixed-race' i.e. Jewish-Arab liaisons
Loewenstein dared ask whether Israel’s treatment of the millions of Palestinians under military rule merited the accolade of it being an Apartheid state.   Nothing makes the defenders of ‘Israeli democracy’ bristle more than the word ‘Apartheid’ though quite how you describe a situation where 4 million Palestinians are held under military rule for nigh on 50 years at the very same time as Jewish settlers are subject to normal civil law, defies me.  Jimmy Carter, the former US President, was given similar treatment when he made this obvious comparison too.
HonestReporting is one of the many Israeli funded groups which dedicated themselves to combating unsympathetic coverage of Israeli and Zionist repression and racism
Either way a nasty little campaign has arisen, during which it has been falsely claimed that Loewenstein claimed to work for the Guardian as a permanent correspondent.  Loewenstein has been made the target of the so-called HonestReporting group, one of these Israeli funded groups whose main purpose in life is to intimidate journalists who are not singing from Israel’s hymn sheet.  When they contacted the Guardian to ask whether in fact Loewenstein works for them, rather than being told he is a freelance journalist who contributes copy, the Guardian distanced themselves from him. 
A cursory visit to Lowenstein’s profile on the Guardian website shows just how many articles he’s contributed in the past few.  The total is about 105. For the Guardian to now distance himself from the Israeli government and its Zionist chorus who wish to expel inconvenient journalists is despicable.

Tony Greenstein
Guardian newspaper fails to support colleague facing deportation threat from Israeli government
23 December 2016
Mondoweiss – 23 December 2016
Harriet Sherwood, former Guardian Israel correspondent, now their religious affairs correspondent.  Perhaps appropriate since her behaviour towards Loewenstein resembleds that of Judas towards Jesus
Israel is reported to be ready to expel an award-winning Australian journalist and writer, Antony Loewenstein, after he asked a too-probing question of an Israeli politician at a media event last week. Government officials have said they are investigating how they can deny him his work visa when it comes up for renewal in March.

It is unsurprising to learn that Israel has no serious regard for press freedom. But more depressing has been the lack of solidarity shown by journalistic colleagues, most especially the Guardian newspaper, for which he has regularly worked as a freelancer since 2013. Not only has the paper failed to offer him any support, but its management and staff reporters have hurried to distance themselves from him.
Sherwood on Twitter demonstrating that when it comes to solidarity with journalists under attack, the Guardian's journalists retreat by example
A deferential foreign press

Loewenstein has been under fire since he attended the event in Jerusalem, hosted by the Foreign Press Association (FPA), on December 12. According to the Israeli media, he asked former government minister Yair Lapid: “Is there not a deluded idea here that many Israeli politicians, including yourself, continue to believe that one can talk to the world about democracy, freedom and human rights while denying that to millions of Palestinians, and will there not come a time soon, in a year, five years, 10 years, when you and other politicians will be treated like South African politicians during Apartheid?”
Peter Beaumont - Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent in the normal act of solidarity one expects of Guardian journalists denied all knowledge of Loewenstein 
Israeli politicians are not used to hearing such difficult questions from members of the FPA, a professional association for journalists working in Israel. The reason for their deference to Israeli officials was explained to me a few years ago by an FPA insider. He revealed that not only are most of these correspondents Jewish – as Loewenstein himself is – but, unlike Loewenstein, they deeply identify with Israel. They live in Israel, not the occupied territories, they speak Hebrew, send their children to Israeli schools and expect them to serve in the Israeli army. Some of the reporters have served in the army themselves.

Perhaps most famously, former New York Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner was embarrassed in 2010 by the disclosure that he and the NYT had not divulged that his son was serving in the Israeli army while Bronner reported from the region. There was nothing exceptional about Bronner’s professional conflict of interest. My confidant told me: “I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

He added: “The degree to which Bronner’s personal life, like that of most lead journalists here, is integrated into Israeli society, makes him an excellent candidate to cover Israeli political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life. The problem is that Bronner is also expected to be his paper’s lead voice on Palestinian political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life, all in a society he has almost no connection to, deep knowledge of or even the ability to directly communicate with.”

Most publications appear to believe that the benefits of employing openly partisan reporters – and all of them partisan towards the same party in the conflict – outweighs any potential damage to claims that they are neutral and impartial. The outlets hope their partisanship will offer them an advantage: gaining unfettered access to the corridors of power, whether in the Israeli government or army.
With this background in mind, it is possible to understand why Loewenstein described the tenor of the FPA event in the following terms: “With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of journalists in attendance were deferential to Lapid and asked him bland questions.”

No support from the FPA
Loewenstein’s failure to follow the standard FPA rules of politesse when addressing an Israeli politician triggered a campaign against him by Honest Reporting. The group is one of several US-based media lobby organizations whose job is to intimidate foreign media organizations on behalf of the Israeli government. In this way, they have been successful in limiting critical coverage of Israel even further. Staff reporters tend to self-censor, while freelance journalists are pressured to leave the region.

In a transparent maneuver, Honest Reporting sought to paint Loewenstein as politically extreme for his past support for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), and as an activist rather than a journalist. That is no easy task. In addition to the Guardian, he has written for many leading publications in Europe, Australia and the US, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, the Nation, Le Monde diplomatique, the Huffington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and many more.

He has also written several books covering a diverse range of topics, including his best-seller My Israel Question, in which he considers his own Jewish identity and relates it to issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. (Full disclosure: I contributed a chapter to a 2012 volume, After Zionism, he edited with Ahmed Moor.) He is currently working on a documentary based on his book Disaster Capitalism.

In other words, Loewenstein is not only a journalist; he is the gold-standard for serious independent, critical-thinking journalists. Which, of course, is precisely the reason Israel would want him gone.
Ignoring the deep, but entirely acceptable partisanship of the vast majority of reporters in Jerusalem, Honest Reporting has accused Loewenstein of partiality: “Loewenstein is clearly incapable of reporting on Israel in a fair and objective manner. Yet Honest Reporting has learned that he happens to be a paid up associate member of Israel’s Foreign Press Association.”

It is the traditional and self-defined responsibility of journalists to hold power to account, yet, sadly, the FPA has failed to come to Loewenstein’s defense. In response to Honest Reporting, it said it had accepted him as a non-voting associate member “based on his career as a freelance journalist”. But then added only: “While we do not endorse his views, we also do not screen our members for their opinions.”

So no words of support from the FPA for Loewenstein as he faces being stripped of the right to report from the region (and not just from Israel, as Honest Reporting dishonestly claims, but also from the occupied territories, since Israel controls all access to Palestinian areas). Not a word of condemnation of Israel from the FPA for crushing press freedom. Just a shrug of the shoulders.

Loewenstein should not be surprised. The FPA has barely bothered to raise its voice in solidarity with journalistic colleagues in the region whose rights are being trampled on a systematic basis. 
Palestinian journalists have been regularly killed, wounded, beaten up or jailed, earning Israel a ranking of 101 out of 180 countries this year in the Reporters without Borders index. That places it below Liberia, Bhutan, East Timor and Gabon, and a nudge ahead of Uganda, Kuwait, and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Honest Reporting saw its chance to set a trap for Loewenstein to get him out of the region. More than a decade ago, Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) introduced new rules that tightly controlled coverage in its favor. In a non-transparent procedure, independent journalists have to persuade the GPO that they deserve to be issued with a work visa.

In February, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ executive director, Robert Mahoney, criticised Israel for this patronage system. “It is virtually impossible to work as a reporter in Israel and the occupied territories without a press card,” he said. “The threat of withdrawing accreditation is a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.”

The Guardian distances itself
Honest Reporting has created a phony controversy about how Loewenstein received his work visa in a bid to discredit him. In fact, Loewenstein should easily meet the formal requirements for a freelance visa, as he has written far more than seven articles for major publications in the last year. But Honest Reporting is seeking to confect a row to justify the GPO refusing to renew his visa in March.
It did so by questioning the Guardian about his connection to the paper, hoping that it could get the paper to dissociate itself from him. Without a shred of evidence, it suggested that Loewenstein might have lied to the GPO, claiming he was a Guardian accredited journalist, to get his visa.

How did the Guardian respond? According to Honest Reporting, its head of international news, Jamie Wilson, told them that “Loewenstein was contracted to write comment pieces for Guardian Australia and remains an occasional comment contributor but he ‘is not a news correspondent for the Guardian in Israel’. It was also relayed to us that Loewenstein has now been told to in future make sure he does not reference The Guardian at press conferences unless he is working on a direct commission."

Further, their Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont emailed the group to deny any knowledge of Loewenstein. And its former Jerusalem correspondent and now religious affairs reporter Harriet Sherwood entered the fray on Facebook: “Why is this guy claiming to be a Guardian writer when all I can find in our archive is occasional opinion pieces and nothing since August?” For the record, Loewenstein has written more than 90 articles for the Guardian since 2013.

One might wonder how it is that neither Beaumont nor Sherwood appear to have heard of Loewenstein when he has written several books on Israel and Palestine, and writes for their own paper and other leading publications on a range of issues, including Israel and Palestine. But then I suspect they may have a rather narrow range of reference points for their coverage – most of them doubtless FPA regulars.

But what is more significant is that none of the relevant actors at the Guardian has shown an ounce of solidarity with Loewenstein, as the Israeli lobby seeks to get him kicked out of the country for doing proper journalism. They have also inadvertently conspired with Honesty Reporting in misrepresenting him.

Despite Honest Reporting’s accusations, Loewenstein says he stated clearly in his GPO application that he was a freelance journalist. And it is simply inconceivable that he could have professed to be a Guardian reporter to the GPO without being found out. The GPO knows precisely who represents all the big media outlets in Jerusalem.

Further, according to a source at the FPA event, Loewenstein was clear about his status when he addressed Lapid. He said he was freelance journalist who had contributed to various publications including the Guardian.

Predictably, Honest Reporting’s managing editor, Simon Plosker, was delighted by the Guardian’s response: “The Guardian’s distancing itself from Loewenstein is a welcome development.”
So far the Guardian appears to have issued no criticism of Honest Reporting for its deceptions in this matter, or retracted its own misguided comments.

The Guardian — far from the fearless watchdog

Loewenstein may have hoped that the Guardian would stand by him. But my own early experiences in Israel with the paper suggest this is part of a pattern of cowardly behavior when it is under attack from Israeli officials or the Israel lobby.

I had an established relationship with the Guardian when I arrived in Israel as a freelancer early in the second intifada, in September 2001. I had previously worked on staff in its foreign department in London for several years. I used those contacts to begin pitching stories, and a few of the less controversial ones were commissioned by the paper.

It is standard journalistic practice when writing articles to give parties that come in for criticism a chance to respond. Therefore, in a piece on the Israeli army, I called the army spokesperson’s office for a comment. As is also standard practice, I introduced myself and cited where the piece would be published.

Less than an hour after the conversation, I was surprised to receive a furious phone call from the Guardian foreign desk in London. The Israeli army spokesperson had called the paper’s then-correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg, to ask who I was and why I was writing for the paper. Goldenberg called the desk and threw a tantrum about my referring to the Guardian.

Then I had the most bizarre exchange in my journalistic career – and I have had a few. The foreign desk banned me from mentioning the Guardian in calls to any Israeli officials.

“But if I am commissioned by the Guardian to write a piece, like this one, and an official asks me who I am writing for, what am I supposed to say?” I asked incredulous.

I was told: “We don’t care – just don’t mention the Guardian. Things are difficult for us and Suzanne right now, and we don’t need you making more trouble for us.”

It was a revealing moment. Far from the fearless watchdog of popular imagination, the Guardian showed its true colors. It was petrified of actually doing its self-professed job of monitoring the centers of power. And the Guardian is one of the most critical publications on Israel. Imagine how much more feeble the rest are, if Guardian staff are so fearful of incurring the wrath of Israeli officials.

Time for the Guardian to step up

The Guardian now needs to make amends to Loewenstein, rather than allowing itself to be implicated in Israel’s ugly McCarthyism. It could stand in journalistic solidarity with him. It would not take much, just a simple act of journalistic courage and refusal to allow Israel to control who gets to report on the region.

The Guardian could do it by giving Loewenstein official accreditation. That would remove the GPO’s pretext for expelling him. It would not mean he was the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent. It would simply be a declaration by the paper that it believes in a free press and does not wants to see him silenced. Or is that too much to expect from the Guardian? 

26 December 2016


Westpac seems to be, according to the figures, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, investors in the coal industry in Australia.

With climate change and global warming denialism at one of its highest levels in Australia ever, it is time for people who have any dealings with Westpac to consider their options to change this, mainly with such actions as divestment, which has been shown to work in so many ways in so many world problems.

Westpac, being one of the big four banking institutions in Australia and one of those who lend money to new and developing industries, it should be one of those institution which sets and example to those who believe global warming is a scientific hoax and is to be ignored.

Those of us who accept scientific evidence against the hip pocket responses to everything for the growing size of the hip pockets - where they put it all and what they need it for nobody knows - know that it is long past time to phase out developments of coal mines for energy or other purposes - and to stop making a fortune on coal exports to countries such as China where even this developing economy has started to realise that coal must go because pollution is killing them all.

Westpac must be taught a lesson and people must divest - coal mining is an ongoing disaster and must be stopped NOW!


The Manus Island concentration camp in Papua New Guinea has now had its 4th death in custody.

The people in the concentration camps have not been tried in criminal courts or in any sort of tribunal, but life has been removed from them so that they will die tortured deaths from a variety of reasons.

The British have got a proud history of concentration camps, having developed them in South Africa between 1899 and 1902 in what is known in some history records as the Boer War.

The people locked up in them, men, women and children, died from all manner of causes such as Typhoid and other diseases, starvation, and brutal treatment at the hands of their jailers. The Afrikaans population of South African never got over their treatment at the hands of the victors of that war, and their bitterness persisted even after the end of official apartheid in 1994, when Nelson Mandela's ANC party became the government of South Africa.

On Nauru, where some people are not actually locked up in the concentration camps there, if they have limited freedom to walk around the country, the Nauruan population resent their presence and attack them and harass them and their so-called freedom becomes non-existent. There have been some gay people walking around who have been assaulted so badly that they have feared for their lives and are now petrified to walk around the island.

Compare the current Australian government with other concentration camp governments - Israel - think Gaza and the West Bank, UK, USA - think Guantanamo, and others too numerous to mention - and you end up with the appalling state of the Australian camps which are apparently worse than some of Australia's worst prisons.

Added to the total inhumanity of the situation is the fact that these concentration camps cost an absolute fortune to maintain and the government tells us that we have to tighten our belts - parliamentarians excepted. In order to rob the poor and pay the rich, organisations such as those who run the concentration camps, no doubt keep offshore accounts and don't pay taxes in Australia.

And, as ever, religions continue to live tax-free existences, costing the community billions to pay for what these organisations don't pay for, and what are these religions doing for the people in our concentration camps to make their lives easier - well of course - exactly nothing.


As far as can be ascertained, the episode at La Trobe University with the sacking of Roz Ward in connection with some story connected with the Australian flag, the enormous outcry from the community, and her reinstatement by the university, seems not to be the reason for the Andrews government to sever the employment of Roz Ward of the Safe Schools programme.

If the La Trobe affair is not connected to the ending of the employment of her by the Andrews government, what then is the actual reason, and why does the Victorian government not share this information with us?

Roz Ward has done enormous service to the community by producing the Safe Schools report. The federal government with all its mock-religious fanatics and reactionary right-wing politicians, got rid of the Safe Schools programme because the loonies said it would be a programme to ensnare young people into becoming gays, lesbians, transgenders and all other sexualities in the community.

Apart from the fact that we are still getting such arrant nonsense in 2016, we still need an explanation, after the assertion by the Victorian Andrews government that they would take over the Safe Schools programme, as to why Roz Ward is now persona non grata and had to be dismissed.

There are certain aspect of the Andrews government which also defies understanding and for which we do not get adequate explanations.

13 December 2016


Marikana: More than four years after the massacre that shocked the world, charges against police finally laid
  • Greg Nicolson Daily Maverick
Over four years after the Marikana Massacre, the Presidency’s announcement on Sunday that some police officers would be charged and compensation is ready to be paid was welcomed, albeit cautiously, by victims’ representatives, whose fight for justice has repeatedly been delayed. By GREG NICOLSON.
There’s evidence showing that at almost every stage of the Marikana operation, the SAPS either broke the law or ignored its own policies. There was the confusion, possible murders, on 13 August. The bungled attempts at crime intelligence. The arbitrary decision to “go tactical” and forcefully end the Lonmin strike, linked to documented company and political concerns about talking to workers. An ill-timed and disastrously implemented plan at scene one on 16 August, leading to 17 deaths. A chaotic and murderous pursuit of miners at scene two, causing another 17 deaths. And a cover-up defined by lies and distortions. 

Justice, in the form of criminal charges against responsible SAPS officers, and compensation for workers who survived and the relatives of those who were killed, has been elusive after the report from the two-year commission of inquiry was finally released in June 2015 by President Jacob Zuma. The Presidency on Sunday offered some hope, although after repeated delays the commitments have been met with scepticism.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry recommended that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions should investigate a wide range of claims against police. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been working with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate potential charges. In an update on the implementation of the commission’s recommendations, the Presidency on Sunday announced that multiple charges have been laid against SAPS officers. The Presidency’s statement was opaque, but it appears most of the charges laid relate to the five deaths – three strikers and two police officers – on 13 August, while the killings on 16 August are still being investigated.

Investigations found an officer in command was “remiss in his conduct when dealing with the incident of 13 August 2012, which led to the deaths of two police officers, namely, Warrant Officer Lepaaku and Warrant Officer Monene, as well as three strikers, Mr Mati, Mr Sokhanyile and Mr Jokanisi”, the Presidency said. The officer facing charges, which is clearly Major-General William Mpembe, has been charged with four murders – two strikers and two police officers – and six counts of attempted murder for those injured on the day. He will also face charges of defeating the ends of justice for how he presented his role in Marikana. 

A colonel, warrant officer and a constable have all been charged for the murder of Mr Sokhanyile,” the Presidency continued. Sokhanyile was killed on 13 August, but the commission did not make conclusive findings on who the killer might be.

A criminal case has been opened against a major-general, which evidence suggests is Ganasen Naidoo, for defeating the ends of justice. He was in command at scene two on 16 August and the commission said he failed to exert command and control at what has been termed the “killing koppie” and failed to give his firearm to the SAPS ballistics team on time. A case has also been opened against a brigadier who failed to secure the recordings of the SAPS management meeting where the decision to “go tactical”, which led to the events of 16 August, was taken. The recording was with Brigadier Ledile Malahlela when it was suddenly erased and crucial information on the SAPS management’s decisions on the operation at Marikana was lost.

Forensic, ballistic and other evidence, including the authentication of incident footage, are still outstanding. Also, indications are that the police might have tampered with the crime scene,” said the Presidency, suggesting further charges are on the way. Two brigadiers, one heading the North West provincial detectives unit and another in charge of detectives at a detention centre, have been charged with defeating the ends of justice for concealing a death in custody. It’s unclear which death this relates to as it does not appear to have come up in the commission. The Presidency also said charges are being considered against those who misled the Marikana Inquiry, which could affect top officers like suspended Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku on Sunday said prosecutors and IPID are still working on investigations and the NPA has not yet decided to prosecute any of those who charges have been laid against. “I’d imagine that a decision would be taken fairly soon,” he said.

I think for the families, they’ll be very relieved that there will be some movement on criminal prosecutions,” said Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) director of litigation Nomzamo Zondo. SERI represents the families of 36 people killed at Marikana. 

A source who worked closely with the Marikana Commission and who requested anonymity on Sunday said the exact details of the charges are not clear from the statement and we will have to wait to see “if this NPA performs”. The lawyer warned of potential “scape-goating to protect certain other commanders”. Some officers, like Mpembe, who has been charged with a wide range of murder and attempted murder cases, have already been sidelined in Marikana’s aftermath.

Another source, an expert in policing issues who has worked comprehensively on Marikana-related issues, said “don’t hold your breath” on criminal prosecutions.

While the Presidency’s statement suggested further charges against police at Marikana might be likely, the source said even with prima facie criminal cases against police officers using lethal force in the line of duty it’s “notoriously” difficult to secure prosecutions. “Even if they are prosecuted, one should not assume that convictions are likely.”

Rehad Desai from the Marikana Support Campaign on Sunday said, “We whole-heartedly welcome this statement as a starting point for justice for the victims of Marikana. The prosecutions against the police are a real beginning but we believe it’s inconceivable that Lonmin executives have not been held accountable on criminal charges as should be the case with the ministers who were advanced in the planning of this operation. We welcome it as a fine starting point but it’s certainly not the end of the matter.” 

Desai called for further investigations into Lonmin executives and Cabinet ministers accused of involvement (whom the commission of inquiry mostly exonerated, due to insufficient evidence). He said issues about political interference within the NPA are well known, but he hoped it would not be the case regarding Marikana. 

Andries Nkome, attorney for the 275 injured and arrested mineworkers in Marikana, also called for further action against Lonmin and politicians accused of causing the massacre. 

We have said that it is not enough for consequences only to follow on Riah Phiyega [reportedly about to be fired after the findings of another commission]. We expect consequences to follow for Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said, noting the deputy president’s alleged involvement, along with a number of other ANC politicians.

The Presidency’s statement also spoke of the compensation claims from the families of those who died in Marikana as well as the injured and arrested strikers: 

Regarding the compensation for the Marikana victims, government is ready to pay. The SAPS has instructed its attorneys to make offers of payments in full settlement of claims for the claims where quantification were complete and are not under criminal investigation,” it said. Lonmin has given jobs to the family members of employees who were killed, but financial support is a key concern for many of the deceased’s relatives.

All the time we hear about offers being made to us in the press, in media statements, and the Presidency is not communicating with us on how to settle the claims,” said Nkome, noting past commitments. 

It still feels like they are playing to the media, playing to the public, that there isn’t any real sympathy for the families,” said Zondo. She said if government is now willing to pay, effectively admitting responsibility for the actions of the SAPS, it should now say when and where it will apologise for what happened. 

There are other complications regarding compensation. Relatives of the killed mineworkers have made claims for loss of financial support, as well as other issues like emotional distress, loss of family life and loss of parental care. The Presidency only spoke on the loss of financial support. Zondo said while discussions have been ongoing and offers of compensation have been made for some families regarding loss of financial support, there is a “clear as broad daylight” case they will pursue regarding issues like loss of family life.

If compensation is only paid on the potential income the mineworkers might have made, it won’t amount to much, said the lawyer involved in the commission. “Loss of support will be an actuarial forecast of the pittance that would be earned by the mineworkers had they not been killed. This is wholly inadequate compensation for killing their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers.”

The Presidency statement also spoke on broad police reforms suggested by the Marikana Inquiry and Lonmin’s social and labour plan, which the commission found the company failed to implement, a contributing factor to the conditions that led to the massacre. On housing issues, the Presidency noted Lonmin’s recent progress had been slow and the Department of Mineral Resources would take further action and could suspend or cancel Lonmin’s mining licence if it does not comply with requests. Lonmin head of communications and branding Wendy Tlou on Sunday said the company is committed to “doing its part as outlined in the report” but it needed an opportunity to study the Presidency’s statement.

Droplets of justice might be on the way, but the drought isn’t over. DM

Photo: South African police check the bodies of striking mineworkers shot dead at the Wonderkop informal settlement near Marikana platinum mine, Rustenburg, South Africa, 16 August 2012. EPA/STR

Greg Nicolson


Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel

I attended the funeral of a man named Ahmed just a few days after I had arrived in Palestine. It took place in the El Ain refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus. The day before, Ahmed had been praying in the camp mosque, and when he emerged from the mosque, Israeli soldiers shouted at him to stop where he was. But Ahmed, who was mentally handicapped, did not understand, and, becoming confused, he did not comply. The soldiers responded by shooting him four times, once in the chest and three times in the stomach.

Two months later, on one of my last days in Palestine, I watched as an Israeli sniper team commandeered the house of a Palestinian family in Hebron. The soldiers climbed onto the roof of the house, and waited, their trigger fingers itchy, for over an hour, until they found a suitable target. Two Palestinian teens were milling around on the roof of a building about two hundred meters away. The teens were not doing anything of note, but after twenty minutes one of them picked up a stone and languidly threw it off the building.  There were clashes nearby at the time. The team immediately went into action and cut him down, shooting him in the leg. The soldiers celebrated, clapping each other on the shoulder, even mocking their hapless victim.

Both of these incidents constituted heinous crimes, and I felt the world deserved to know about what was occurring in the Occupied Territories. And so I wrote and published articles about these and many other crimes that the Israeli authorities have committed and continue to commit. Do my actions make me an anti-Semite? According to the US State Department definition of anti-Semitism, they do.

Post-Election Incidents in the US

In the United States the number of incidents of harassment and intimidation has spiked sharply in the weeks following the election victory of Donald Trump. Spurred on by the hateful and divisive rhetoric of his campaign, many Americans have been emboldened to act on their racist, misogynistic and xenophobic sentiments. According to data supplied by the Southern Poverty Law Center, 867 such incidents were reported in the ten days following the election.[1]

While the large majority of these incidents were not serious enough to merit criminal investigation, they are nevertheless important to study, as their number is a barometer of the country’s attitudes.

No group seems to be immune to the Trump-fueled venom. While the plurality of the incidents has been directed at immigrants (32%), other groups have not emerged unscathed. Blacks (22%), Jews (12%), members of the LGBTQ community (11%), and Muslims (6%) have also been targeted.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act
On Thursday, December 1, the US Senate decided to act­­–but only to protect Jewish targets of hatred–by passing the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. Proposed by Senators Robert Casey and Tim Scott, both of whom have received substantial funding from pro-Israel lobby groups,[2] the legislation tackles anti-Semitism on university campuses. A statement on Casey’s website reads:
“It is incredibly important that we work together to stamp out anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination across our country.”[3]
The senators claim that the Department of Education has been hampered in its efforts to combat anti-Semitism partly because it is lacking an understanding of what precisely constitutes anti-Semitism. The legislation attempts to rectify this problem by codifying the so-called State Department definition.

The State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism

On its website the State Department states that:
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”[4]
This definition is relatively standard and uncontroversial. However, the State Department ventures into dangerous territory by adding several paragraphs dealing with examples of anti-Semitism in relation to the state of Israel. It includes the so-called 3 D’s – demonizing Israel, double standards applied to Israel, and delegitimizing Israel.

The definition is similar to one that was adopted by the European Union Monitoring Centre (EMUC) following intensive Israeli lobbying efforts. It was, however, heavily criticized and subsequently discarded by the EMUC in 2013.

Conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of the State of Israel, is extremely problematic. Many nations, including the United States and Israel, sometimes engage in criminal or immoral behavior and need to be censured for it. The ability to criticize a state’s actions is a crucial and necessary element of any thriving democracy. In this country it is also protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Perhaps realizing the outrageousness of its definition, the State Department includes, seemingly as an after-thought, a short sentence at the very bottom of the page.

“However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

These considerations echo the sentiments of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote in 2002 that “criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction — out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East — is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”[5]

Scholar Noam Chomsky disagrees with this assessment. Responding to a question about linking anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, he said that the former “is not a form of anti-Semitism. It’s simply criticism of the criminal actions of a state, period.”[6]

Anti-Semitism is clearly still a major problem in the United States and beyond. One can easily imagine that a true anti-Semite might find criticism of Israel to be a more socially acceptable outlet for his anti-Jewish feelings, but it is an enormous leap in logic to conclude the converse, that a critic of Israel must be an anti-Semite. But that is what the codification of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism does. The legislation seeks to punish those who seek to call Israel to account for its behavior on the assumption that it is a manifestation of anti-Semitism, when that can be far from being the case.

Why Now?

The reasons for the timing of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act are clear. Opinion polls show that while most Americans still tend to sympathize much more with Israel than they do the Palestinians, the gap has become significantly smaller in recent times, especially after the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, in which over 2,000 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, including women and children, lost their lives.[7]  Together with the recent successes of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on university campuses and beyond, the trend has pro-Israeli forces extremely worried, especially about the hearts and minds of young Americans, who, according to the polls, exhibit greater pro-Palestinian tendencies. While Israel has taken the battle against BDS to state legislatures, where at least twenty-two states have passed or considered anti-BDS laws,[8] the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is an offensive specifically aimed at the younger generation.

The Effects of the Bill
The legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate, and it is unclear what will happen if it is approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the president.

Palestine Legal, an organization devoted to protecting the rights of those who speak out on Palestinian issues in the US, states that criticism of Israel on campuses is protected under the First Amendment, and that the Department of Education has ruled in at least three separate cases to that effect.[9] But the law is a powerful deterrent, regardless of how effectively it can be used to prosecute offenders. What the lobby wants most is to stifle debate about Israel. The hope is that the fear of legal repercussions will prevent legitimate critics of Israel from raising their voices.

The election of Donald Trump has had many negative consequences for supporters of the Palestinian cause. In Palestine it has raised fears that Israeli authorities will agitate for the annexation of some parts of the West Bank, which would sound the death knell of a Palestinian state.[10] In the US the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) similarly has withdrawn its support for a Palestinian state, dropping language dealing with the two-state solution from its website.[11] Anti-BDS laws are being introduced in state legislatures, and now the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is threatening to silence all criticism of Israel.

These are dangerous times on many fronts for all those who seek a fair solution for the Palestinians, and it is important that the battle for justice continue to be fought as vigilantly as ever in the face of these obstacles.


[1] https://www.splcenter.org/20161129/ten-days-after-harassment-and-intimidation-aftermath-election
[2] http://maplight.org/us-congress/interest/J5100/view/all
[3] https://www.casey.senate.gov/newsroom/releases/with-attacks-on-the-rise-sens-casey-and-scott-introduce-bipartisan-anti-semitism-awareness-act
[4] http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/fs/2010/122352.htm
[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/16/opinion/campus-hypocrisy.html
[6] https://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/27/noam_chomsky_at_united_nations_it
[7] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/05/23/5-facts-about-how-americans-view-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/
[8] http://mondoweiss.net/2016/11/bullard-opposed-measure/
[9] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/548748b1e4b083fc03ebf70e/t/56e6ff0cf85082699ae245b1/1457979151629/FAQ+onDefinition+of+Anti-Semitism-3-9-15+newlogo.pdf
[10] http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-victory-spurs-israeli-talk-of-west-bank-annexation-1481106608
[11] https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/will-trump-help-israel-annex-west-bank
Richard Hardigan is a university professor based in California. He is currently writing a book entitled “The Other Side of the Wall” based on his experience in the Occupied Territories. His website is http://richardhardigan123.wixsite.com/mysite.

11 December 2016


December 8th, 2016
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Dear IJAN supporter:
As this year comes to a close, we are in a profound moment of destabilization as we face an acceleration of ongoing racism, militarization, violence and repression and rise of fascist governments and forces across the globe. In the United States, Black and Brown people, Muslims, Palestinians, Syrians and other Arab activists and communities, women, immigrants, queer and trans folks, people with disabilities, poor people and many others have been targets of the white supremacist government taking the reigns in the US. We also have an opportunity to join together with so many others mobilizing in this moment and to ensure that anti-Zionism is central to the struggles against racism and for basic human rights and decency.
With the election this year, we knew that with either candidate, US support for Israel and partnership in domination in the region would have been strong. Now, with president-elect Trump, this partnership goes beyond political shared interests; he has personal and business relationships with repressive regimes and corporate networks across the globe.

Trump has claimed that he will establish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel meaning the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem - 
signaling a green light to Israel’s reactionary and increasingly fascist government. He has proposed to build a wall on the US Mexico border using the Israeli apartheid wall as an example. He has called for mass deportations and further repression of movements, and will likely adopt Israeli models to do so.
From the resistance to Zionism in Palestine, to the movement for indigenous land sovereignty in Standing Rock, to struggles for black liberation internationally, Zionist institutions have played a role in attacks on these movements for self-determination: we have also seen the power of movements grounded in grassroots resistance to injustice.
Many of the forces that elected Trump are both deeply Zionist and antisemitic. Antisemitism and white nationalism are explicit in the U.S. in a way they haven't been for decades. Zionists are misusing this rise of anti-semitic rhetoric to further justify the colonization of Palestine.  We are deeply disturbed by the appointment of openly anti-semitic politicians and the use of Nazi imagery and rhetoric. We are particularly concerned with the ways Zionists are exploiting this rise of anti-semitism to leverage support for Israel. We are already seeing Zionist institutions, as well as the Senate, fraudulently use the true histories and current expressions of anti-semitism to bolster support for Israel and silence free speech in the Palestine solidarity movement. Zionism will further anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism and Israel will collaborate in enforcing it here in the United States and internationally.

We are infuriated, but we are not surprised, by the continued alignment of white supremacists and Zionists as we know their interests have always been aligned. We understand, in this moment more than ever, the importance of joint struggle against all forms of racism.
We are organizing against the looming attacks on Muslim and Arab communities activists and organizations. We are preparing to support Black, Brown, Arab and queer organizers in their community self-defense efforts. We are helping build strong movements that support self-determination and local national and international campaigns against repression.
Our work is cut out for us. Our relationships to each other are critical. Building organization, larger alliances, coalitions, and strong networks is vital now more than ever.
In love and struggle,
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)

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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