Corruption does not begin with Netanyahu’s cigars or pink champagne. It begins with an ideological system that sees entire segments of the population as undesirable and unnecessary, and as temporary residents in their own homes.
A Bedouin woman after authorities demolished her village of Al Araqib, January 16, 2011 (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
Last night, a striking episode in Amnon Levy’s documentary series, “The Real Faces,” aired on TV. The episode followed the residents of the Tel Kabir, Givat Amal, and HaArgazim neighborhoods, whom the government has designated as trespassers in their own homes. The government is now trying to evict them, to the benefit of real estate tycoons.
Yesterday, a court in Be’er Sheva convicted Sheikh Siakh A-Turi, 68, of trespassing, sentencing him to ten months in prison with a fine of 36,000 shekels. Sheikh Siakh, is a resident of the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib.
The residents of Givat Amal and Al-Araqib share the same tragic fate: they are among the most marginalized people in a country whose government has declared them trespassers on land on which they have lived for decades. In both instances, the government prevented them from formalizing their property ownership by a range of deceptive means. The government, in contrast, moved quickly to formalize and recognize the ownership of those citizens whom it actually values, in some cases spitting distance from where these “trespassers” live.
To truly believe these stories, you must hear them again and again. The Mizrahi residents of these Tel Aviv neighborhoods could not formalize their ownership of the land on which they have lived for 70 years because they “missed” a small announcement in the Davar newspaper in 1951, inviting “any person who de facto owns, without a deed, an apartment or business on absentee property” to submit a request to formalize their ownership. Like their Ashkenazi neighbors—Mapai supporters and employees of the Tel Aviv municipality and the Custodian for Absentee Property—they, too, settled on property that belonged to Palestinians before 1948.
However, unlike their Ashkenazi neighbors, the Mizrahi residents had no way of hearing about an announcement published once in the Mapai party newspaper, and which allowed for a short window of two weeks to formalize property ownership. Those who read the announcement got recognized as legal landowners. Those who didn’t, didn’t; they continued to live in their houses without knowing that eventually, when their land had become desirable real estate, they could be declared “trespassers” in their own homes.
At the same time as the Israeli government was defrauding the residents of Tel Aviv’s Mizrahi neighborhoods, it was expropriating vast tracts of land in the Negev—permitted under a 1953 law to allow the government to easily seize land to promote “development, settlement, and security.” Residents of Al-Araqib were expelled by the government from their land, despite the fact that the land has since gone untouched; the government expropriated the land seemingly for no reason.
When Al-Araqib residents attempted to appeal the expropriation in court, the government refused even to hold a hearing. As Michal Rotem writes, “according to the state and its representatives, not only do the native inhabitants of the Negev lack ownership of the land, they lack even have the right to pursue their claim in court.”
Over the years, the residents of Al-Araqib have attempted to maintain their connection to the land, working their crops, watching their flocks, and burying their dead there. While lone farms — for Jews only — continue to proliferate in the region, since 2010, the government has destroyed the village of Al-Araqib 120 times.
Sheikh Siakh, a man nearing his 70s, will be imprisoned because he dared to resist this injustice. Perhaps it should comfort him that he was not shot to death by police, like Yaqub Musa Abu Al-Qian, killed in Umm Al-Hiran — a man whose only crime was attempting to get away from his village before it was destroyed so that a Jews-only town, Hiran, could be built in its place.
For months, thousands of people have joined the weekly protests against government corruption in Petah Tikvah and now Tel Aviv. But government corruption does not begin with Netanyahu’s graft investigations, nor with his cigars and rosé champagne.
Government corruption begins with an ideological system that works to demographically design the country’s territory according to the criteria of ethnic and national origin. Government corruption begins with a way of seeing entire segments of the population as unnecessary and undesirable, as temporary residents in their own homes. Government corruption begins with the criminal violence of calling people trespassers in their own houses. If we want to fight this deep moral corruption, the place to look is not Rothschild Boulevard or the Attorney General’s house, but the line that that connects Givat Amal to Al-Araqib.
Caduri Halif stands among the rubble of his demolished house, Givat Amal neighborhood, Tel Aviv, September 18, 2014. A third eviction of families in the neighborhood left 20 residents homeless and without proper compensation or an alternative housing solution. (Activestills)
This article first appeared in Hebrew at Local Call. Read it here.
Can I get three – lol The Republican tax bill signed by President Donald Trump could provide “additional stimulus” for the recovering corporate jet and business aviation sectors, a leading aerospace analyst says.
Cowen aerospace analyst Cai von Rumohr offered that assessment in a brief research note he shared recently with the independent investment firm’s clients.
The number of pre-owned business jets for sale as a percent of the fleet dropped in December, the fourth straight month of decline and the lowest level…
On Christmas, Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post from published two widely shared reports on GRU (Russian military intelligence) activities in creating fake profiles on social networks, along with “astroturfed” political activist groups.
The first, longer article, entitled “Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options,” was written by Nakashima along with Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous. This article paints a wide picture of online activities from the GRU and presumably Kremlin-linked individuals, centered on a “freelance journalist” Alice Donovan (also known as Sophie Mangal). A central detail in this investigation is an “intercepted Russian military report” from February 2014 that “documented how Moscow created fake personas to spread disinformation on social media to buttress its broader military campaign.”
In her second article of the day, “Inside a Russian disinformation campaign in Ukraine in 2014,” Nakashima elaborated on this document, with the specific example of “Ivan Galitsin.” This persona was allegedly a specific part of the GRU cyber operations to influence opinion in Ukraine during the uncertainty of the Euromaidan revolution and the ensuing drama in Crimea.
Nakashima provides a few details about “Ivan Galitsin” that allow us to find the digital footprints of the alleged disinformation campaign carried out by the GRU. Specifically, the Post article describes how this online persona left a comment on a “British newspaper” under a February 22, 2014 story about former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
In going through Google results for stories about Tymoshenko from February 22, 2014, a handful of British sites that also have a physical newspaper seem promising, such as the the Guardian and the Daily Mail. Of these results, only a particular Guardian article has a large number of comments.
Sure enough, on the second page, we can find a comment from an “Ivan Galytsin” with the exact words printed in Nakashima’s reporting. Additionally, “Ivan Galytsin” uses a photograph of Konstantin Yaroshenko, as described in the Post article, and created his account (and posted both of his only comments) on February 22, 2014.
We can also find “Ivan Galitsin” on Facebook, using the same avatar of Konstantin Yaroshenko.
According to the Post article, and corresponding to this Facebook profile, “Ivan Galitsin” created his profile on February 22–just as he did on the Guardian website. This “Ivan Galitsin” is supposedly from L’viv, a Ukrainian city in the country’s west.
Another online persona created by the GRU in the Post article is “Vova Kravets,” who was posing as a radical Ukrainian and sent death threats to Ukrainian politicians on Facebook.
This persona is also quite easy to find on Facebook, with only one profile currently on Facebook that could be a possible match. This “Vova Kravets” profile was created on January 31, 2014, a few weeks before “Ivan Galitsin,” and ceased posting on March 27, 2014. The persona’s identity is clear–a radical, far-right Ukrainian who is either a fan or member of the ultra-nationalist group Right Sector. Additionally, the profile’s only “friends” are a number of well-known individuals in Ukraine.
Tracking down these two individuals named in the Post article was not especially difficult, but there are still a number of unresolved issues that were either directly raised in the Post‘s reporting or in need of attention.
Firstly, on February 27, 2014, four groups were allegedly created by the GRU on Facebook and Vkontakte (VK). In particular, these groups “encourage[d] Crimeans to support secession from Ukraine.” Furthermore, these groups “used paid ads on Facebook” and “received nearly 200,000 views on Facebook on Feb. 27 alone.” What are these groups? All of the pages liked by “Vova Kravets” and all of the groups he was a part of were in line with the persona that “he” was projecting–a Ukrainian ultranationalist, thus “he” would not have been part of any of these alleged GRU groups created on February 27. “Ivan Galitsin” liked three pages and was a part of one group that fit with the political theme of the GRU pages: Ukrainian Front (group), Ukrainian Front (page), Slavic Shield, and Antimaidan. However, none of these were created on February 27, though it is worth nothing that the Ukrainian Front page (not group) was created on February 22, the same day that “Ivan Galitsin” created “his” account.
Secondly, how effective were these online operations? While the figure of 200,000 views on a Facebook page is impressive, it is unclear if these are page views on the group’s page itself or impressions from its posts. When looking at “Ivan Galytsin” in particular, this online persona hardly made a dent in the online information space, with two comments on the Guardian‘s website and a neglected Facebook profile. Were the other online personas far more active than this virtual nobody?
Lastly, did this GRU operation have any relationship with the infamous St. Petersburg Troll Factory, allegedly run by Yevgeny Prigozhin? From the Post report, this GRU operation seems to have been run in-house, rather than outsourced to Prigozhin as a sort of contractor. However, with additional data points, it may be possible to find links between Prigozhin’s vast network of news (and more often, “news”) sites and army of social network sock puppet accounts.
8 years of fear of one jokester?
China has sentenced prominent rights activist Wu Gan to eight years for subversion after online criticism of Beijing’s leaders. His jailing is the harshest punishment in a two-year crackdown on dissent.
With its new Silk Road mega-project, China is building on old traditions. But it’s hard-core geostrategic interests and not nostalgia which is guiding Beijing. Miodrag Soric reports from Tbilisi, Georgia.
On December 10, 1966, the Jewish-German poet Nelly Sachs received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm, an award she shared with the novelist Shmuel Agnón. In her acceptance speech, she paid tribute to another Nobel laureate for saving her life. “In the summer of 1939, a German friend came to Sweden to visit Selma Lagerlöf and asked if she could find somewhere for my mother and I to take refuge,” she said. “In the spring of 1940, after several tortuous months, we reached Stockholm. Denmark and Norway were already occupied. The great novelist was no longer here.”
Brexit negotiators should take note: Brussels has acted to put European law first
It’s been fascinating to look at some of the reactions, in Europe and beyond, after the European commission last week took the unprecedented step of triggering a mechanism against Poland, for the first time potentially threatening to strip a member state of its voting rights in the club.
Brussels decided to move against Poland’s democratic backsliding, namely the crushing of its independent judiciary – a process that had recently been accelerated by its populist government, elected in 2015. On social media, the far right raged. Here was the European behemoth lashing out at a country whose sovereign choices were being trampled on, its image unfairly tarnished. Sound familiar?
Cut our influence and risk our national security because… you can #TraitorTrump – #LoserTrump!
- US is responsible for 22% of the UN’s annual operating budget
- Timing sends message after UN rejects Trump’s recognition of Israeli capital
The US government has announced significant cuts in its United Nations budget obligations for 2018-19 in what will be interpreted as a further ratcheting up of pressure from the Trump administration looking to bend decision-making at the international body to its will.
Male self-delusion to get a pass for someone who supports what you support is as infinite as other self-delusions to justify making the world like you want it.
History proceeds clumsily. Innocent people — or “innocently guilty” people, like the junior senator from Minnesota — often get unfairly hung out to dry. Should he have to resign? As far as I can tell, his alleged sexual wrongdoings over the years consist of three butt grabs, several uninvited kisses, a breast grope and a waist squeeze.
There may be more, of course, and they add up to something beyond what could be called innocent mistakes or misunderstandings. An adolescent sense of entitlement seems to be at work here, but . . . this is the moral standard of a Congress open for purchase by corporate lobbyists? Who among us (Roy? Donald?) hasn’t committed transgressions worse than the above? And shouldn’t a person’s positive achievements be factored into the severity of his punishment, at least when no permanent damage has occurred?
Yet . . . yet . . .
We live in a deeply problematic and unfair world, but suddenly social awareness has solidified around the wrongness of sexual abuse, so much so that powerful men are feeling the sting of accountability for stupid and cruel behavior that until recently seemed consequence-free.
I get the outrage, which is a release of decades — centuries — of the hopeless despair of so many women, who have been powerless even to stop, let alone get justice for, sexual abuse, harassment, assault. We live in a deeply problematic and unfair world, but suddenly social awareness has solidified around the wrongness of sexual abuse, so much so that powerful men are feeling the sting of accountability for stupid and cruel behavior that until recently seemed consequence-free.
I get that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has long stood up courageously against the sexual assault that permeates the U.S. military, led the way in calling for Franken to resign and calling for zero tolerance of all forms of sexual harassment.
But I also get the counter-outrage: the support for Franken (including “feminists for Franken”); the calls for him to reconsider his resignation; the outcry that zero tolerance for minor transgressions, sexual or otherwise, is morally simplistic and can quickly devolve into destructive self-righteousness that only makes matters worse; and the demand for some sort of due process, e.g., convening the Senate Ethics Committee to consider the accusations against Franken.
What’s clear is that this is a moment of social change. I believe we should value everyone who is a participant in it, willingly or otherwise. Real social change leaves no one out.
So . . . should Al Franken resign?
As Masha Gessen wrote last month in the New Yorker, “maybe ‘Should Al Franken resign?’ is the wrong question.
“The question frames the conversation in terms of retribution, but it is not possible to hold to account every man who has ever behaved disrespectfully and disgustingly toward a woman. Nor even every senator, or every comedian. And, even if it were possible to punish every single one of them, what would be accomplished? Punishment, especially when it is delayed, is not a very effective deterrent.
“. . . the real issue here,” she goes on to point out, is “the power imbalance that allows some men to take women hostage using sex. Franken, from what we know, was not such a man.”
Harvey Weinstein, on the other hand, held women sexually hostage with the power he wielded over their careers. So did Roger Ailes — and so many others. But even they, and all those who preceded them in such behavior, and worse, weren’t acting simply as bad individuals. They were acting in a social context. a.k.a., the patriarchy, in which male sexuality mattered more than female humanity.
Rape, indeed, was once a property crime. “The idea that rape is a crime against a woman, and specifically a crime against a woman’s body, is relatively new,” writes Emily Crockett at Vox. “For most of human history, rape has been treated as a property crime against a woman’s husband or father, since they effectively owned her.”
This is the horrific social context that has suddenly stopped coddling the tainted celebrities of the 21st century, some of whom have lost their careers because accusers have finally felt empowered to tell their stories. But for the most part the national conversation about it has not moved beyond the bad behavior of individual men and the need to punish them for what they did. I keep believing that we can move more deeply into the matter.
Consider, for instance, how the tiny indigenous village of Hollow Water, Manitoba, confronted, back in the 1980s, its own long-festering sex abuse problem, as described in Rupert Ross’s book Returning to the Teachings. The sex abuse was the hidden part of the problem, which manifested in alcoholism and various forms of violence, as well as the profound alienation of the community’s teenagers.
Inflicting punishment on the perpetrators of various crimes, the Western way, did nothing but further destabilize this fragile community. The situation became so desperate that a group of community members finally came together and started talking.
Several years ago, after I heard Ross and Burma Bushie, a resident of Hollow Water, speak at Des Moines University, I wrote : “And at the core of it all was the circle: the whole. They sat with one another in peace circles and talked with raw honesty. They sat with the injured and those who caused harm. As Ross put it, ‘Their definition of justice sounded more like our definition of healing.’ It was about healing, about reconnecting people with one another and their surroundings. The Hollow Water team had made lifelong commitments to heal their community and supplant the Western replacement legacy of punishment-based justice and welfare bureaucracies, which only intensified the wreckage.”
The global restorative justice movement emerged from indigenous communities, such as Hollow Water, beginning the process of healing themselves by reclaiming the tribal circle, which included truth-telling and forgiveness. Accountability is a far more difficult process to undergo than punishment, but it empowers everyone, both victim and perpetrator. Indeed, claiming accountability turns perpetrators into healers.
All of which brings me back to Al Franken, and why his resignation seems to accomplish little more than fueling the momentum of revenge. It further splinters the political culture but does nothing to set free its collective secrets.
And as long as punishment rules, the patriarchy remains intact.