The IDF spreads a lie and the Israeli press plays along

Facts show that Mohammed Tamimi was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers. But the facts were not enough for the Israeli army, or the journalists who tow the government line.

Mohammed Tamimi, 15, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet by the Israeli army shortly before the video of Ahed and Nur was filmed. (Activestills/Oren Ziv)

Mohammed Tamimi, 15, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet by the Israeli army shortly before the video of Ahed and Nur was filmed. (Activestills/Oren Ziv)

Let’s start with the facts. On December 15, 2017, 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi sustained a severe head wound during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

Like most Fridays in Nabi Saleh, demonstrators headed toward the village’s spring, which Israeli settlers took over a number of years ago. The Israeli soldiers who came to suppress the protest that day did not make do with just protecting the spring or the nearby settlement of Halamish — instead they invaded the village and commandeered a home, from which they opened fire at young demonstrators who threw stones at them.

Mohammed Tamimi was inside his village at the time. An Israeli army rubber-coated metal bullet struck him in his head, and was hospitalized in serious condition. We know this because the hospital produced a detailed report of the medical procedure, a CT scan of his head showing the bullet lodged inside, a photo of the bullet after it was removed in surgery, and the first-hand testimonies of those who witnessed the incident, including Israeli activists Jonathan Pollak and Oded Yediya.

Pollak and Yediya spent the rest of that afternoon making phone calls attempting to secure the transfer of Mohammed, whose life was in danger, to an Israeli hospital. They failed. The surgery took place at a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah finished only at 4:30 a.m. Mohammed required several more rounds of surgery to fix the damage to his skull. Haaretz’s Amira Hass published a detailed report of the incident at the time.

We also know that an hour or so after the shooting, Mohammed’s cousin Ahed tried to expel soldiers from the courtyard of her family home — and the rest is history. We know that just hours after the video of her slapping the soldiers went viral, 17-year-old Ahed was pulled out of her bed and arrested by Israeli soldiers. She is still in prison.

Ahed Tamimi during the first hearing of her trial at the Ofer prison military court. February 13, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ahed Tamimi during the first hearing of her trial at the Ofer prison military court. February 13, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In an overnight raid in Nabi Saleh on Monday Israeli soldiers arrested Mohammed and eight other Palestinian youths. He was interrogated by Israeli police — without a parent or lawyer present — and was released after a few hours.

Those are the facts. Here’s the spin.

According to Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the head of Israel’s military government charged with ruling over Palestinians in the West Bank, during his interrogation Mohammed Tamimi confessed that his head injury was the result of a bicycle accident — that his head hit the handlebars.

Family members and human rights organizations explain the “confession” as such: a wounded child, whose family members are in Israeli prisons, and who is suspected of throwing rocks, will say anything just to go home if he is being interrogated in the middle of the night without a parent or lawyer present.

Law enforcement officers and army major generals are not supposed to simply accept something a distressed child tells them under duress in interrogation. They should know that the army itself never denied Mohammed Tamimi was shot, and that the aforementioned evidence proves it.

Mordechai, whose job it is to oversee and rule over the day-to-day lives of millions of Palestinian civilians, instead smeared the entire Tamimi family, as well as the witnesses and the hospital staff.

Everyone is lying, he says, the boy fell from his bike.

Why? Because it serves the army’s and government’s agenda — to fight every village, family, and child who resists Israeli military rule in the occupied territories.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

A battle of narratives

In the face of such lies, one might expect that the Israeli media would paint a more serious picture that, inevitably, exposes Mordechai’s lies.

But that’s not the world we live in, at least not if you’re a consumer of Hebrew-language news.

Ynet published a short news item that included only Mordechai’s claims, without presenting any facts to counter his narrative.

Ma’ariv‘s headline and sub-headline were dedicated solely to Mordechai. Only those who read to the end of the article will find a response by the Tamimi family or by their attorney Gaby Lasky or MK Dov Khenin (Joint List). The facts are nowhere to be found.

Israel Hayom confused its readers with their headline: “Rubber bullet? What really wounded Mohammed Tamimi.” At least the paper deigned to include a photo of the bullet that was removed from the teen’s head.

Left: The rubber-coated bullet that was removed from Mohammed Tamimi's head; Right: CT scan of Mohammed Tamimi's head. (Courtesy of Tamimi family)

Left: The rubber-coated bullet that was removed from Mohammed Tamimi’s head; Right: CT scan of the bullet inside Mohammed Tamimi’s head. (Courtesy of Tamimi family)

Channel 10 struck a near-identical tone with the headline, “A battle of versions.” There is no truth, of course. There’s no need to find out what actually happened. Dear viewers at home, you get to decide who is telling the truth: the IDF or the Palestinians.

And lastly, Haaretz. As expected, the paper did its due diligence — yet still fell into a similar trap. The initial Hebrew headline read: “IDF: Ahed Tamimi’s cousin admits he was not shot in the head but injured on his bicycle.” Anyone who read the headline would likely assume the army had exposed a lie. At first, the article only dealt with Mordechai’s post, as well as the responses to it. Within an hour or two the headline was changed to mention the CT scan, and the tone of the text focused on exposing Mordechai’s lie.

Aside from Haaretz, the coverage of the Mohammed Tamimi story reveals the sordid status of Israeli journalism. Statements by the army and the police are taken as truth, especially in the face of claims made by Palestinians. At best, we hear about a battle of conflicting narratives.

That is not journalism – it’s government propaganda.

This article was also published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Chile student protest leaders send support to Florida gun campaigners

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Four leaders of 2011 movement send letter to young US activists urging them to fight idea that only adults should make the decisions

It began with a classroom walkout, grew into a nationwide protest movement led by high school and university students – and culminated in radical reforms previously dismissed as unthinkable.

Six years later, the Chilean student leaders who overthrew the country’s political establishment with street protests and legislative victories, have sent a message of support for the young Florida activists pushing for gun reform in the US.

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US immigration attacks Oakland mayor for warning of raid that arrested 150

Good mayor! ICE bad!

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Agency chief likens mayor to ‘gang lookout’ over early public alert that helped 800 avoid arrest

A day after agents confirmed that more than 150 people in California were arrested in immigration raids, a federal immigration official lashed out at the Oakland mayor who gave a public warning ahead of the raids, saying it was “no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’”.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) chief, Thomas Homan, speaking to Fox and Friends on Wednesday, said that the warning from the mayor, Libby Schaaf, helped about 800 people avoid arrest. He also said the justice department was looking into whether Schaaf obstructed justice.

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Costa Rica Studies Its Land, to Keep from Losing It

Donald Vásquez shows how the land has been degraded in an area of coffee plantations on the slopes of Berlin, one of the towns in the Barranca-Jesús María river basin in western Costa Rica. Farmers in the area, with the support of experts, have built terraces and channels to curb erosion. Credit: Miriett Ábrego / IPS

Donald Vásquez shows how the land has been degraded in an area of coffee plantations on the slopes of Berlin, one of the towns in the Barranca-Jesús María river basin in western Costa Rica. Farmers in the area, with the support of experts, have built terraces and channels to curb erosion. Credit: Miriett Ábrego / IPS

By Daniel Salazar
SAN JOSE , Feb 28 2018 (IPS)

Donald Vásquez points to the soil on a farm located in one of the most degraded basins on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica. Below, where he points with his index finger, there is a huge layer of white earth, with dozens of bare coffee plants struggling to produce beans in the next harvest.

“This used to be a cloud forest, a rainforest 60 years ago. Now the soil looks like this. From a productive point of view, this has practically died,” Vàsquez, who is taking part in several initiatives aimed at restoring the soil in the Barranca River-Jesús María River basin, where land degradation is already impacting farmers, told IPS.

Vásquez lives in one of the towns in the basin, about 60 km from San José, to the west of the Costa Rican Central Valley, within an area at about 1,500 m above sea level dedicated mainly to coffee growing.“Here we lament it when a tropical forest is cut down, we know that’ a terrible thing. But a tropical forest can regenerate in 60, 80 years. When you lose the soil, recovering it can sometimes take up to 200 years.” – Óscar Lucke

His concern is not about something that is a minor issue in Central America. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) estimated in its Global Land Outlook (GLO) report, published in 2017, that degraded lands account for over a fifth of forest and agricultural lands in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the Costa Rican Advisory Commission on Land Degradation (Cadeti), established by the government, and in which Vásquez takes part, degradation is already happening in more than a tenth of the territory of Costa Rica, making it more necessary than ever to meet the goal of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030.

The concept of LDN is defined as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.”

Costa Rica is one of the countries in the region that devotes the greatest effort to meeting that goal. There is a need for more indicators and budget, but those dedicated to the matter, such as Vásquez, are already working on several initiatives to prevent the loss of more land.

“Here we lament it when a tropical forest is cut down, we know that’ a terrible thing. But a tropical forest can regenerate in 60, 80 years. When you lose the soil, recovering it can sometimes take up to 200 years,” Óscar Lucke, a consultant on land degradation neutrality and a retired professor who is a representative of civil society in Cadeti, told IPS.

“We are working to protect that wealth of biodiversity and all the services we need that are in the soil,” he explained.

It was not until 2015 that the UNCCD agreed to set national goals to stabilise the planet’s soils. But in Costa Rica Cadeti was already working on the issue since 1998, through coordinated work among different government and academic bodies.

For this reason, this Central American country of 4.9 million people became one of the 10 pilot sites in the world to implement LDN, and the only one in Latin America.

In April 2017, the government reinforced the strategy with a decree that coordinates the different agencies involved in that objective and, in addition, designated Cadeti as the body within the Ministry of Environment and Energy to advise all public institutions in how to move towards that goal.

Assessing the land

Several indicators are used to measure neutrality in land use.

According to the 2017 Scientific Conceptual Framework for LDN, countries must observe the evolution of three key elements: forest cover, productivity and soil organic carbon. So far, Costa Rica only has information on the first indicator, and is working to obtain the others this year, with important progress made so far.

In fact, between 2000 and 2015, Costa Rica went from 47 percent to 54 percent of forest cover, while all other Central American countries have proportionally cut their forest covers, according to a study released in December by the State of the Nation of Costa Rica, an interdisciplinary body of experts.

The first State of the Environment Report, published Feb. 20, prepared by the Costa Rican government, notes that the country increased its forest area by 112,000 hectares between 2010 and 2013 (currently it has more than three million hectares of forest), an increase of almost the same amount as the reduction in crops and pastureland, which amounted to 114,000 hectares.

“That is very positive. In general, the more covered the soil is, the better, but protection guidelines have to be implemented in the areas that clearly cannot be covered with trees, because crops have to be planted to grow food,” said Carlos Henríquez, director of the University of Costa Rica’s Agricultural Research Centre, and an expert in soil fertility.

He told IPS it is necessary to implement protection practices to try to maintain the resource in a sustainable way, because the increase in forest cover does not mean that farmers always use their land well.

For example, the cultivation of pineapple (questioned because of its link with soil erosion and the high use of agrochemicals) has increased fivefold since 2000, according to the annual report of the State of the Nation.

For that reason, the government is working on generating carbon maps and productivity maps to identify the most degraded areas of the country.

According to forest engineer Adriana Aguilar, the national focal point for the UNCCD, and an official in the National System of Conservation Areas, an agreement is also being hammered out between the government and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GIZ), aimed at identifying key actors and model projects, and capturing resources for them.

“That is a goal for this year, so that from 2019 we can report on that basis. By defining these indicators, applying the panel, finishing our action plan and implementing this decree, we are moving towards achieving that goal,” she told IPS.

There are already several initiatives to work with farmers in the areas that, according to estimates, could have the most degraded soils in the country.

“Degrading the land is very easy. To recover them is the difficult thing. Farmers do not have resources for this and there are crops, such as coffee, that already have very low productivity,” said Renato Jiménez, another member of Cadeti, which for the past six years has carried out more than a hundred projects on farms in the most degraded areas of the country.

For example, in the Barranca-Jesús María river basin, farmers and experts from the government and civil society have created channels and terraces to prevent water from washing away their crops and nutrients, and have extracted healthy bacteria from the forest to use in their plants.

For Vásquez, who operates in the area, that is key because with climate change the rains in Costa Rica seem to be increasing in intensity and decreasing in frequency.

“The idea is for river flows to not build up so much speed or destroy the soil so much. I believe that if people see the positive results, and notice that coffee production is increasing, other neighbours will copy it, because production here has been dropping,” he said.

The post Costa Rica Studies Its Land, to Keep from Losing It appeared first on Inter Press Service.

In a suburban Cincinnati office park, white nationalists have found their lawyer – and an ally

You probably haven’t heard of James Kolenich. You will.

Source: In a suburban Cincinnati office park, white nationalists have found their lawyer – and an ally

Kolenich also called into question the estimated number of six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust, and even if it actually happened.

He said he’s never been called a neo-Nazi before, and that he wouldn’t care if he was. “If being Christian is equated with being a neo-Nazi in this society, then that’s just how it has to be,” he said. “‘It’ (being a Nazi) is something that I would reject, all things being equal, but there’s nothing I can do about it in modern society.”

Kolenich said the Holocaust gets too much attention.

“You can’t call the Jew Holocaust into question, right?” said Kolenich. “How many millions, tens of millions of Russians were slaughtered during the Soviet Union… you never hear about it right? Don’t want to talk about it. Just the magic six million. So Christians really shouldn’t fall for that. The Holocaust is the execution, the crucifixion of Christ. The most important event in human history is His Resurrection, not, this Jewish Holocaust even if it did happen.”