No, Sen. Collins, You Don’t Get To Cry Sexism After Destroying So Many Women’s Lives

This week, the Senate succeeded on partisan lines in passing a bill known widely as the “Republican Tax Scam,” a widely and unanimously decried piece of legislation that exploits the working class to expand the wealth of the top 5%, strips millions of people’s healthcare, and tanks the country’s economy while it’s at it, all at the service of the party’s wealthy donors.

The bill cleared the Senate floor after it was given the go-ahead by so-called “moderate” Republicans, one of whom was Senator Susan Collins, considered a ‘hero‘ by centrist Democrats after her vote to block Republican Obamacare repeal legislation. Senator Collins apparently ‘blasted’ coverage of her approach to the bill on Tuesday, decrying it as ‘unbelievably sexist‘ for a variety of reasons, including newspapers alleging the fact that she was ‘duped’ despite her experience in politics and negotiating, and noting that she ‘didn’t cry’ when confronted by protestors. She claimed that by contrast Jeff Flake, another allegedly ‘moderate’ Republican had received no such coverage.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: every woman, in every situation, is a victim of sexism. That’s because sexism is embedded in systems and institutions, and doesn’t pick and choose who it affects or when it comes in to play. Conservative women aren’t excluded from the impact of sexism, and their coverage in the media will fall into sexist tropes, just like the coverage of all women falls into sexist tropes. And it isn’t excused or okay or any better when it’s directed at conservative women because it comes from the same place and encourages the same behaviors that end up affecting women on all parts of the political spectrum. It’s no doubt that the fact that Collins is a woman affects how she’s treated, and that Flake is covered very differently by the press.

But that doesn’t mean Collins can get to deflect attention on the fact that it was her vote that helped pass a monstrous piece of legislation that plunders poor and working-class women and their families by pointing to that sexism. Here’s the thing about the systemic nature of sexism: this means that it isn’t individual actions that together constitute the patriarchy, but material conditions that put women at a disadvantage structurally to men. The bill that Collins’s support has helped come closer to becoming law will hit working-class women hard, possibly the hardest, and thereby exacerbate institutional sexism. It is disingenuous and hypocritical for Collins to call out sexism without examining how her behavior, and the behavior of the party she represents, are committed to making life worse off for a significant majority of women. Collins is trying to use feminism — like Kellyanne Conway before her, and Ivanka Trump, and like countless other women in positions of power — in a selfish and self-serving way, and ignore that feminism is a social movement aimed at lifting women as a collective, and not as individuals. If Collins really cared about sexism — as opposed to using it as a cheap political tool to score brownie points with liberals for the devastating impact her vote will have on the American working and middle class — then she would work to dismantle patriarchal structures, not uphold them by servicing the Republican party’s rich white male donors.

In 2018, we cannot let rich, powerful white women working to uphold structures of our oppression co-opt our social movements and act as wolves in sheep’s clothing. We must refuse to let powerful white women use cries of sexism to absolve themselves of responsibility from the terrible impacts of their actions. We must have the courage and conviction to stand by our criticisms of women in power while still recognizing that sexism is ubiquitous and we must always work around patriarchal discourses. In 2018, we cannot let Susan Collins use cries of ‘sexism’ to get away with destroying the lives of millions of poor women.

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The Israeli government is paying for anti-BDS journalism

The Israeli ministry tasked with fighting the BDS Movement is spending millions of shekels to place propaganda that looks like news in Israel’s most prominent media outlets.

By Itamar Benzaquen

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh attend a ceremony for Israeli police at the Police National College, Bet Shemesh, September 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh attend a ceremony for Israeli police at the Police National College, Bet Shemesh, September 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Israeli government paid the Yedioth Group, publisher of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, hundreds of thousands of shekels to publish articles and interviews meant to influence readers to support a campaign Israel is waging against its critics. The Strategic Affairs Ministry, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, purchased positive coverage and the distribution of that content on the Internet.


According to information provided to “The Seventh Eye” and “Hatzlacha,” as part of a freedom of information request, the Yedioth Ahronoth Group received NIS 350,000 ($100,000) to publish journalistic articles, which were then distributed by member organizations of the “Pro-Israel Network” in Israel and around the world. The articles, according to the information furnished, were meant to motivate or enlist Israelis into the struggle.

The paid-for articles were published starting in June 2017 in the news section of Yedioth Ahronoth‘s weekend magazine, and on its website, Ynet. Like other campaigns that included purchasing articles from the newspaper, this one also included promotions in the widely-distributed weekend edition.

Alongside the paid-for articles, Ynet also published promotional videos produced by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, as well as three interviews with a ranking official at the ministry, Tzahi Gabrieli. Two of those paid-for interviews were conducted by Ynet’s senior political correspondent, Attila Somfalvi, who asked soft-ball questions that allowed him to present his talking points.

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In addition to the interviews with Gabrieli, Yedioth also interviewed a string of people from various Jewish organizations that do not have direct ties to the state. The role of those organizations in the government efforts against de-legitimization and their ties to the government are unclear.

Two of those organizations, the “World Jewish Congress” and “Stand With Us,” were sponsors of Yedioth’s anti-BDS conference last year, in which senior politicians and officials from the Strategic Affairs Ministry took part. “Over the last year,” wrote journalist Reuven Weiss in one of the paid-for articles, “the boycott movement’s main base of operations in their campaign to delegitimize Israel has moved to social media, and new tools are required.”

The aim of at least some of those state-sponsored articles was to enlist the public to help some of those civil society organizations in spreading government messaging on the internet and to combat unflattering content. In other words, to get the public to execute the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ strategy.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at Yedioth Ahronoth's Stop BDS conference, March 28, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at Yedioth Ahronoth’s Stop BDS conference, March 28, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/

“Are you sick of hearing the lies about Israel spread in the international media and on social networks?” read an accompanying box in one of the Hebrew-language state-sponsored articles. Readers were then encouraged to Google the campaign’s name, “4il,” go to the site, and start sharing “videos, caricatures, and articles that expose the lies of BDS.” In addition, Yedioth suggested that readers download an app called, which enables them to take part in “daily missions” to advance pro-Israel messaging on social media.

As has become customary at Yedioth Ahronoth in recent years, readers are told only that the article they are reading was published “in cooperation with” an Israeli government ministry, without explaining that “in cooperation with” actually means “paid for by.” In recent months, the list of articles featuring that disclosure has grown to include articles written by the news organization’s diplomatic correspondent Itamar Eichner.

The relationship between the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Yedioth Ahronoth is only part of a much broader, well-funded campaign: in June and July of 2017 the ministry spent nearly NIS 7 million ($2 million) on spreading its messaging to the public in Israel and abroad. That is larger than any of the other campaigns that have been exposed by The Seventh Eye in recent years. The second-largest such campaign documented previously was NIS 11 million, and that was over the course of more than a year.

In addition to the journalistic content that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs purchased in Yedioth, it also spent over half a million shekels on placing content on Israel’s highest-rated television news channel, Channel 2 and its website, Mako. And in addition to Hebrew-language articles, the ministry also purchased journalistic content targeting a more global audience, enlisting it in the fight against delegitimization.

The state-sponsored articles aimed overseas audiences were published in The Jerusalem Post, which was paid NIS 120,000 ($34,000); in the Times of Israel, which was paid NIS 95,000 ($27,000); and the J Media Group, an American publishing group, which was paid NIS 115,000 ($33,000). The J Media Group, which operates a television station called ILTV, also received money from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, along with Hebrew-language newspaper Makor Rishon. The ministry refused to release data on its relationship with Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper, Israel Hayom.

Israeli BDS activists take part in an anti-corruption demonstration in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, December 9th, 2017. (Hagar Shezaf)

Israeli BDS activists take part in an anti-corruption demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, December 9th, 2017. (Hagar Shezaf)

According to the data that was released, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ biggest expenditure of the campaign — over NIS 2.6 million ($740,000) — was budgeted to promote content on social media and search engines, including Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Another large sum, around NIS 2 million ($570,000), was budgeted for building the website and producing multi-media content for it. Another roughly NIS 490,000 ($140,000) was budgeted for “strategy,” “creative,” and “branding.”

The funds the government is using to purchase state-sponsored journalistic articles come from the public, and therefore most government ministries have agreed to release information on those types of relationships. It will soon be far more difficult to obtain information about the purchase of journalistic content by Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The ministry has in recent months been advancing legislation that would exempt it from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law. According to the draft legislation, “successfully waging this battle requires keeping it as ambiguous as possible.”

The Strategic Affairs Ministry claimed that the law would not apply to the types of relationships like that with the Yedioth Ahronot Group, but the bill itself, which passed a preliminary vote over the summer and is now waiting for its second and final votes, is written in a way that will apply to all of the ministry’s activities. In response to past freedom of information requests by The Seventh Eye and Hatzlacha, the ministry claimed that some of the requested documents were “classified.” It redacted other documents, claiming that they were liable to harm Israel’s foreign relations, and even state security.

Attila Somfalvi declined to respond to interview requests. Ron Yaron, the editor of Yedioth Ahronoth, sent the following response:

We are proud of the broad and comprehensive coverage Yedioth Ahronoth has been leading against the boycott of Israel. When, in that framework, there has been cooperation with [government] officials or bodies in articles that were published, there have been prominent disclosures of it, similar to what is done in other media outlets when they cooperate with various bodies

This article was first published in Hebrew on The Seventh Eye.

Israeli army court orders Ahed Tamimi imprisoned for five more days

The Palestinian teenager from Nabi Saleh was arrested after being filmed confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home. Israeli forces have since arrested her mother and an another relative; her father Bassem received a summons while in court.

By Oren Ziv and Yael Marom


Ahed Tamimi in the Ofer prison military court. December 20, 2017. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)

The Israeli army’s Ofer Military Court extended by five days the detention of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who was arrested for confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Video of the confrontation made headlines around the world. Police had asked the court to extend Ahed’s detention by 10 days.


Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Ahed Tamimi, argued that even if the police intend to continue their investigation against her client, it is unnecessary to keep Ahed in prison.

“The police claim this is a unique incident carried out shamelessly and spitefully. But obviously neither shamelessness nor spite justify imprisonment,” Lasky said. “Israeli hilltop youth (settlers) have engaged in similar behavior and the police and the army chose not to arrest them or to consider their behavior such that requires keeping a minor under arrest.”

Lasky also criticized the manner in which Tamimi was arrested, as well as the request by the police to carry out the hearing behind closed doors. “Given that the incident in question occurred during the day, it would have been possible to carry out the arrest during the time of the incident or a few hours later. Instead, the army and the police chose to carry out an illegal, offensive, nighttime raid.”

“It is unacceptable that the military authorities decided to video-tape the arrest of a minor and send the clip to media outlets as punishment,” Lasky said of the state’s request to hold the hearing behind closed doors. “Now the police are suddenly worried about protecting the rights of a minor […] It seems that this is all to prevent anyone from seeing what happens inside the courtroom.”

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Israeli Border Police officers arrested Ahed in a night-time raid on the Tamimi family home in the early  hours of Tuesday. Her mother, Nariman, was arrested while accompanying Ahed to an Israeli police station.

Tuesday night, Nur Tamimi, a relative of Ahed’s who appeared alongside her in the now-famous video, was arrested as well.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, also a relative of Ahed’s, remains hospitalized after Israeli troops shot him in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a protest in Nabi Saleh on Friday. He has been unconscious for a number of days.

During the military court hearing on Wednesday, a police representative said that Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, will also be called in for an investigation Thursday morning.

Bassem Tamimi said on Wednesday that he is proud of his daughter and worried about her. “I don’t trust this court because it is a component of the occupation — it helps the occupation and the occupier,” Tamimi said. “It is used to give legitimacy to the arrest of Ahed, the child.”

Nothing that in addition to his wife and daughter both having been arrested, he also received a summons to be interrogated, Bassem added: “I ask that they keep us all together, so that we can remain together as a family in jail.”

The village of Nabi Saleh began weekly demonstrations against the occupation in 2009 following a takeover of the village’s natural spring by settlers from the adjacent settlement of Halamish. The army has since to deployed troops on a weekly basis to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the spring or the road used by the settlers.

Every protest by the residents of Nabi Saleh, and any Palestinian in the West Bank, is illegal under Israeli military law in the occupied territory. The army regularly suppresses Palestinian nonviolent and unarmed protests with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, live fire, and other means of crowd dispersal.

In December 2011, Mustafa Tamimi was killed during a protest in the village when he an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with a tear gas canister at close range. One year later, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Rashadi Tamimi in the village.

Oren Ziv is a photojournalist with Activestills. Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article also appears in Hebrew. Read it here.

British Intelligence Report Confirms Russian Military Origin of MH17 Murder Weapon

Today, December 20, the British Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published its 122-page annual report. This report covers a wide range of topics, including cyber security, the status of the UK’s international relationships, the threat of foreign fighters, and so on. However, one almost anecdotal detail in the Russian objectives and activity against UK and allied interests section states a key fact in absolute terms: the Russian military bears direct responsibility for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17).

On page 52 of the report, when discussing Russian disinformation activities, a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) source described how “we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russian military supplied and subsequently recovered the missile launcher” after “the shooting down of MH-17.”

Western governments and the Dutch-led criminal investigation into the tragedy, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), have been reluctant to outright name the Russian military as the responsible party for providing the murder weapon for the downing, and even more reluctant to name the Russian military as the actors who carried out the shoot down. While the latter concern is understandable, as there is still no direct evidence placing specific active Russian servicemen with the Buk at the time of the downing, there is no reason to avoid naming the Russian military as the guilty party in providing and retrieving the Buk missile launcher

It is widely acknowledged by official bodies that the Buk that downed MH17 came from Russia and was returned there after the shoot down, but the language describing these events has been deliberately obfuscated to avoid a direct accusation at the Russian military. For example, the U.S. State Department’s press statement on the third anniversary of the tragedy mentioned that the Buk was brought “from Russia” and fired by “Russian-led forces,” but avoided direct accusations of the Russian military.

The reticence to directly name the Russian military can be seen clearly in the JIT’s 28 September 2016 press conference, where the investigators did all they could to avoid directly naming the actors who facilitated the transfer of Buk 332 across the Ukrainian border. For example, in one segment of the press conference, the Buk is described as crossing from the Russian Federation into Ukraine, with a map clearing showing the crossing point near Donetsk (Russia).

Later, the JIT showed a number of intercepted phone conversations from the morning after the downing. Some of the people in these conversations are unidentified, but at least one is the Russian Sergey Dubinsky, who worked as Igor “Strelkov” Girkin’s intelligence head in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). In the conversations, Dubinsky and others describe how the Buk was transported back to Russia and left with some “guys” (парни).

By following the statement in the British intelligence report, we can confirm that these “guys” who retrieved the Buk after it crossed the border were indeed Russian soldiers.

Previous Bellingcat Research

Since late 2014, Bellingcat has published a series of detailed reports outlining exactly which Russian military unit (53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, based in Kursk, Russia) supplied the Buk 332, the Buk-M1 missile launcher that downed the passenger plane, along with the potential suspects and witnesses from this military unit who either participated in the transfer/use of the missile launcher or have direct knowledge of it. Additionally, we have published reports on the Russian soldier-drivers who were involved in the transport of the eventual MH17 murder weapon through Russia towards the Ukrainian border, along with two specific Russian suspects — one of which is a Colonel General in the Russian Armed Forces — who were key actors in the procurement and transfer of Buk 332. A summary of all of Bellingcat’s research into MH17 up to the the third anniversary of the tragedy can be found here.

The post British Intelligence Report Confirms Russian Military Origin of MH17 Murder Weapon appeared first on bellingcat.

South Korea president suggests joint drills with US could be suspended


Moon Jae-in says if Pyongyang behaves itself, North Korean athletes could also be invited to take part in Winter Olympics

The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has suggested his country’s joint military drills with the US could be postponed to reduce tensions with North Korea, but said the move would depend on Pyongyang’s actions in the coming weeks.

Moon also said he would like North Korean athletes to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in the South Korean town of Pyeongchang, amid concern that the regime could try to disrupt the Games, possibly by testing ballistic missiles or launching a cyber attack.

Continue reading…

22 Arab Authors on Their Favorite Reads of 2017

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

Each year, ArabLit knocks on the doors of a range of Arab novelists, poets, and memoirists, asking for their favorite reads os 2017. This year’s list was co-edited and -translated by Mahmoud Hosny and M Lynx Qualey, along with the some of the authors who submitted:

Salim Barakat (Syrian-Kurdish poet and novelist)

I didn’t get many books this year. So I reread:  Interpretation of the Qu’ran by Ibn Arabi (تفسير القرآن لابن عربي) for the third time in nine years. And also I reread Ibn Kathir’s exegesis of the Quran, تفسير القرآن لابن كثير, for the second time in eleven years.

I reread the complete works of Nietzsche, The Art of Always Being Right by Arthur Schopenhauer, and Repetition by Søren Kierkegaard.

Haytham El-Wardany (Egyptian writer)

Actually, I feel confused by “book lists,” and I feel we need another, better way to value literature. But if there are three…

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Jim Clapper Just Nuked the Trump Presidency

@aleksey godin

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Spy bosses are by nature the most tight-lipped of people. Those who head our intelligence agencies got there in no small part by knowing precisely what to say to whom, when. In recent decades, as the heads of Western intelligence have emerged from the shadows and are expected to make occasional public statements, their utterances are customarily vague, requiring extensive tea-leaf analysis to derive their actual meanings.

Even in retirement, spymasters remain habitually enigmatic, and none has been more so than James Clapper, who is our nation’s most experienced spy boss. He retired as the Director of National Intelligence at the beginning of 2017, after over six years in that job—a record. That capped off a career in our Intelligence Community that lasted more than a half-century and included the directorships of two of our nation’s spy agencies. Nobody knows the IC better than Clapper.

While his career had its ups and downs—you don’t work in any trade for over 50 years without missteps—the former far outweighed the latter. Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general, is widely respected in national security circles, across partisan lines, as a guy who knows his stuff and focuses on the job. Naturally, he’s exceptionally discreet as well.

That changed yesterday, when Clapper went on CNN to drop an unimaginably large bombshell on President Donald Trump. Since the inauguration in January, Clapper has made a few critical comments regarding the president and his strange ties to Moscow, but these have been largely anodyne. Clapper began showing his hand in September, with a comment that the IC assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election raised questions about why Trump was in the White House: it “cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election,” he stated.

At the end of October, in an interview with Politico, Clapper added more about Kremlin interference in the 2016 election: “The Russians have succeeded, I believe, beyond their wildest expectations.” Clapper dismissed President Trump’s repeated attacks on the investigation of his Moscow links as “fake news” with a warning that the Russians “have been emboldened and they will continue to do this.”

Clapper went considerably further yesterday in his appearance on CNN’s The Lead, in which he finally let his top secret mask drop to say what he really thinks about our 45th president:

I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president … You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.

When pressed about what exactly he was saying, Clapper explained that he meant his words “figuratively,” but that barely mitigates the shock value of what he said. To be perfectly clear: America’s most experienced spy boss publicly termed our president an asset—that is, a witting agent—of the Kremlin who is being controlled by Vladimir Putin. Even if meant only “figuratively,” this is the most jaw-dropping statement ever uttered about any American president by any serious commentator.

Besides, there’s not much difference between literally and figuratively when we’re talking about the inhabitant of the Oval Office. If the American president is being controlled or unduly influenced by a country that’s hostile to us, that’s a big deal. This, of course, is precisely what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation are trying to get to the bottom of—and, not coincidentally, what President Trump and his supporters are trying just as hard to prevent Team Mueller from unraveling.

It needs to be stated that Jim Clapper’s words, while shocking to the public, are utterly uncontroversial in American intelligence circles (or with our spy partners worldwide, for that matter). In our Intelligence Community, it’s widely understood that Donald Trump possesses longstanding ties to the Kremlin which are at best suspect and at worst reflective of an unsettling degree of Russian influence over our commander-in-chief.

Although I’ve been out of the IC for more than a decade, even then it was known in counterintelligence circles that some of Trump’s Kremlin connections were questionable. Although Trump is too psychologically unstable to be a bona fide spy for anybody, that he possessed strange linkages to Moscow was hardly a big secret.

In particular, Trump’s flashy 1987 trip to the Soviet Union – an obvious KGB operation to anyone versed in Chekist matters – led to his becoming an apparent agent of influence for Moscow. That is, a conduit for political favors and information, often in exchange for commercial deals of the sort Trump has always prized. Knowing this, the history of the Trump Organization over the last few decades takes on a different coloration.

What exactly is Donald Trump’s relationship to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin? It seems likely that nobody outside Moscow knows the full story, and we should expect it will take years of investigation by Team Mueller and the IC to unravel this murky three-decade saga. The well-honed Chekist habit of planting disinformation to throw Western counterspies off course, which already seems to be at work in the Trump investigation, promises to drag this inquiry out even longer. Don’t plan on pleasant answers either.

Regardless, Jim Clapper has done our country a valuable service by stating the plain truth about our president. On CNN, he was speaking for all our intelligence professionals who must remain silent because of the lifetime secrecy oaths they took to join the Intelligence Community. After months of public White House attacks on the IC, which have now escalated into all-out war on America’s spies by Team Trump, there is finally some open pushback by the spooks.

This isn’t the mythical Deep State, which Trumpists detect lurking behind every tree in Washington. This was Jim Clapper, now a private citizen, speaking his mind as a highly experienced intelligence officer. The impact of his words can be fairly assessed as devastating to anyone who’s paying attention. Nor will Clapper be the last former spook to go public with his thoughts on Donald Trump and the Russians.

John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he’s also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He’s published four books and is on Twitter at @20committee.