The rise of the global far-right could energize the anti-occupation movement

Shameful and inevitable?

The warm relations between Israel and a new crop of anti-democratic leaders are tragic, but they also expose the true nature of Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians.

By Eli Bitan

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolansaro. (Beto Oliveira/CC BY 3.0)

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolansaro. (Beto Oliveira/CC BY 3.0)

Only hours after Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil last Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to phone the extreme-right candidate. Netanyahu accepted Bolsonaro’s invitation to Brazil, inviting the president-elect to Jerusalem,, after the latter declared his intention to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem.

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Bolsonaro is a vulgar and violent man. His aggressive remarks leave no doubt regarding the kind of policies he plans on enacting. He also wholeheartedly supports Israel and its actions, which is hardly a surprise. With Trump, Orban, Modi, Duterte and others, it has become self-evident that far-right leaders will immediately side with Israel, to which the Jewish state responds with a reciprocal warm embrace. There are few who are still embarrassed by this show, but in Israel, Netanyahu has been able to celebrate these victories as if he himself were kingmaker.

The more Israel becomes excited by these leaders, seemingly vestiges of centuries passed, who were elected with the help of Vladimir Putin, the more they feel it necessary to ignore Palestinian suffering and pledge support for continued occupation. The more right-wing commentators spout the main argument of the Right today, the more their opponents understand the extent to which the Israeli government and the occupation need both racism and regressive ideas to exist.

The congruence between the violence and the hate that these officials spread, and their complete, unquestioned support for Israel is astounding. It is doubtful whether there is anything that proves the irrelevance of all kinds of “liberal” justifications for the settlement enterprise and the occupations quite like the support of right-wing authoritarians. The world now sees who vouches for Israel — the only thing left to do is draw a line in the sand.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi get their feet wet at Olga Beach, just 60 miles north of the Gaza Strip. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seen at Olga Beach, 60 miles north of the Gaza Strip. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

And yet the Foreign Ministry, the hasbara industry, the Jewish Agency, Birthright — they are all busy figuring out how to market this package. Netanyahu, of course, heads this industry, and each appearance on the world stage proves what his rivals have always claimed about him. Yet the occupation has long ago become Israel’s official policy.

This much is clear to all those who oppose this new wave of elected official, and it is good news for Palestinians and activists who for decades have tried to convince Western leaders that the occupation and the settlements are littler more than theft and dispossession. That there is no connection between the occupation and the Holocaust or Israel’s security. Now it is clear that Israel is acting only to entrench military rule in the occupied territories, that this is the only obstacle to peace and to the end of the conflict. Today dissidents of all stripes are learning this truth, ironically thanks to Israeli funding.

There are people in Israel who believe that before Trump, the United States opposed the occupation. Those who know the details are aware that this is a joke. Trump is not a much bigger supporter of the occupation than Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, and the same goes for the rest of the leaders of the West. Some of them may have supported peace negotiations, while others have not, but backing for Israel’s policies was and remains near total. Israel has always enjoyed being part of the family of nations, economically, politically, or even morally.

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Israel’s decision to peg its foreign policy to far-right authoritarians is a poor one, characterizing the paranoid and anxiety-driven era of Benjamin Netanyahu. But it is not the entire story: Trump, Orban, Modi, Duterte, and now Bolsonaro have happily jumped on the bandwagon. They are taking advantage of Israel’s liberal credit around the world in order to bolster themselves. In effect, they end up undercutting that very liberal credit.

The fact that these people are being elected is terrifying, both for their citizens as well as for the world. The same goes for the fact that they choose to support Israeli policies, and that Israel chooses to praise them and offer its support in return. But the Bolsonaros of the world have also left us with a worthy mission. On the day they are tossed into the dustbin of history, the struggle against the occupation, for the end of the conflict, and for peace, can find itself stronger and more stable, with many new partners who for years have gone along with Israel’s every whim.

Opponents of the occupation must now pick up the leftovers. There is no doubt that they must also contend with the new regimes, as awful as they may be, just as they must contend with Israel, the IDF, the Civil Administration, the courts, and the police. But the new leaders have also provided us with a huge liberal camp with which we must form alliances. We must teach it about what is happening on the other side of the Green Line, and then we must fight together.

Eli Bitan is a blogger for Local Call, where this article was first published in Hebrew. Read it here.

The post The rise of the global far-right could energize the anti-occupation movement appeared first on +972 Magazine.

More Swedes fought Nazis in WWII than previously thought

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Dan Norrgård from Timrå fought for the first bridge across the Rhine in 1945.

Lyssna: More Swedes fought Nazis than previously thought

New research has revealed that the number of Swedes who fought for the Allied forces in World War 2 was far higher than previously thought.

Author Lars Gyllenhaal tells Radio Sweden that he has used American archives to find details on hundreds of unknown soldiers and sailors, whose numbers dwarf the around 200 Swedes who fought in German uniforms.

“Allied Swedes have, so to say, been in the shadows because during recent years there’s been a lot of attention about the Swedes on the other side,” Lars Gyllenhaal tells Radio Sweden.

Sweden had a policy of remaining neutral during World War 2 though that did not stop thousands from volunteering or fighting during the conflict.

Loukas Christodoulou
loukas.christodoulou@sverigesradio.se

Georgia Officials Quietly Patched Security Holes They Said Didn’t Exist

by Jack Gillum, Jessica Huseman, Mike Tigas and Jeff Kao, ProPublica; and Stephen Fowler, Georgia Public Broadcasting

On Sunday morning, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp unleashed a stunning allegation: State Democrats had committed “possible cyber crimes” after a tipster told party officials he had found gaping security holes in the state’s voter information website. The affair quickly degenerated into volleying charges about whether Democrats had promptly informed officials of the possible security breach.

A representative for Kemp, the state’s Republican candidate for governor, denied vulnerabilities existed in the state’s voter-lookup site and said the problems alleged could not be reproduced. But in the evening hours of Sunday, as the political storm raged, ProPublica found state officials quietly rewriting the website’s computer code.

ProPublica’s review of the state’s voter system followed a detailed recipe created by the tipster, who was described as having IT experience and alerted Democrats to the possible security problems. Using the name of a valid Georgia voter who gave ProPublica permission to access his voter file, reporters attempted to trace the security lapses that were identified.

ProPublica found the website was returning information in such a way that it revealed hidden locations on the file system. Computer security experts had said that revelation could give an intruder access to a range of information, including personal data about other voters and sensitive operating system details.

ProPublica’s attempt to take the next step — to poke around the concealed files and the innards of the operating system — was blocked by software fixes made that evening. According to the tipster’s recipe, it was also possible to view a voter’s driver’s license, partial Social Security number and address.

Kemp is locked in a tight race with Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia House. On Monday, his spokesman said the vulnerabilities raised could not be replicated. “There was nothing to substantiate” the claims, said Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce.

ProPublica’s test on Sunday found traces of the same vulnerabilities the tipster described in his digital recipe. Details of the alleged vulnerabilities were provided to ProPublica by the website WhoWhatWhy.org, which first reported on the security issues this weekend.

Broce said the ability to see where files were stored was “common” across many websites, and she said it was not an inherent vulnerability. She did not deny that the website’s code was rewritten and would not say whether changes were made as a result of the possible security holes.

“We make changes to our website all the time,” Broce said. “We always move our My Voter Page to a static page before Election Day to manage volume and capacity. It is standard practice.” By Monday afternoon, the page did not appear to be static in the way Broce described, and she did not respond to a request to provide evidence of the change.

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Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., disputed that visibility into file storage was common. “It’s definitely not best practice,” he said. He said it appeared the state had made the change in response to being notified of the problem and could see no reason why officials would otherwise make such a change ahead of Election Day.

Security experts frown on making such seemingly ad hoc changes close to major events, such as an election, because they can create unforeseen problems when made so quickly.

Georgia’s secretary of state was first alerted of a potential vulnerability Saturday afternoon. At the time, Washington attorney David Cross — who is representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Georgia over its paperless voting machines — alerted the office’s outside counsel that a man named Richard Wright contacted him Friday afternoon and claimed “any and all” information about registered voters could be pulled from the site with just a few keystrokes.

The state’s Democratic Party, for its part, denied running the code and said a party volunteer named Rachel Small merely forwarded Wright’s tip — containing an explainer and recipe that could reproduce the problem — to her boss, who forwarded it to cybersecurity experts. Those experts told the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and Georgia officials by mid-Saturday, documents and interviews show.

The state did not know that Small had received her information from Wright — and assumed Small had written the code herself — until ProPublica told them of the connection on Sunday evening. Still, Broce said the investigation into the state Democratic Party was justified.

“You don’t have to actually have someone who is successful in running up against your system,” they don’t have to find a vulnerability for it to be potentially criminal or even try and execute it, Broce said. “All you need, to open an investigation, is information suggesting plans and an attempt to put together some kind of program or utilize specialize tools to find a vulnerability. We did have evidence,” she said, referring to the email forwarded by Small.

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Kemp has previously faced election-related security problems, including a case in 2015 when his office mistakenly distributed files with 6 million voters’ private information.

Democratic Party of Georgia spokesperson Seth Bringman said that the party found out about Kemp’s investigation of the purported hack from news reports. He noted that no one from the secretary of state’s office has called to ask about Small. The party, Bringman said, has also not been contacted by the FBI or DHS. Bringman called Kemp’s public statements that Democrats were under investigation “unethical, irresponsible and disqualifying.”

Kemp’s campaign showed no signs of relenting Monday. “In an act of desperation, the Democrats tried to expose vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voter registration system,” spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement. “This was a 4th-quarter, Hail Mary pass that was intercepted in the end zone. Thanks to the systems and protocols established by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, no personal information was breached.”

“These power-hungry radicals should be held accountable for their criminal behavior,” he said.

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A Mysterious Facebook Group Is Using Bernie Sanders’ Image to Urge Democrats to Vote for the Green Party

Facebook on wrong side of democracy again!

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by Jeremy B. Merrill, ProPublica, William Turton, VICE News

A Facebook page for a group called “America Progress Now” is running ads online urging progressives to vote for Green Party candidates in seven competitive races in the Midwest.

“People of Color NEED Marcia Squier in the Senate to represent them,” one of the ads says, promoting a Green Party candidate in Michigan. “Americans don’t have control over our government anymore. We’ve lost it to greedy, corporate capitalists,” says another, calling for voters to support Ohio Green Party candidate Joe Manchik.

The page features ads with images of prominent progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Problem is, America Progress Now hasn’t registered with the Federal Election Commission, as all groups making independent political expenditures are required to do. Six of the Green Party candidates being promoted by America Progress Now say they have no affiliation with the Facebook page, and most say they’ve never heard of the group.

And there’s no sign of America Progress Now at the address listed on its Facebook page. When we visited 605 E. 132nd St. in the Bronx on Monday morning, none of the tenants we spoke to had ever heard of America Progress Now. The building’s landlord, Stephen Rosenfeld, said in a phone call that he hadn’t heard of the group either and that no tenants by that name were in his building. After reaching out to America Progress Now, the page removed its Bronx address.

The ads caught the attention of Sanders’ Senate office, which asked Facebook to take the ads down, but so far the company has refused to do so. Two of the ads mention Sanders and one insinuates that he supports voting for third-party candidates. “Bernie Sanders is leading the way,” the ad states. “It’s time to send him some allies in Washington. This November, don’t vote for a party, vote for Progressive values.”

“We asked Facebook to remove the ad last week because it is clearly a malicious attempt to deceive voters,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis said in a statement. “It is deeply troubling that after Facebook was used in similar ways by foreign actors in 2016 to swing the election, the company still refuses to act to combat deceptive and misleading ads run by anonymous organizations.”

In an email to a Sanders staff member that was shared with VICE News and ProPublica, Facebook said it had investigated America Progress Now and found no violations of its policies. Facebook said it had verified that American Process Now is authorized to run ads with “America Progress Now” in its “Paid For by” disclosure.

The group’s meme-like ads use publicly available pictures of the candidates, quotes and a rose motif reminiscent of that used by some socialist groups. One of the featured candidates, Randall Auxier, a Green Party candidate running for Congress in Illinois’ 12th district, said, “I did not say or write the text that is with my picture, although I do agree with the content, for the most part.”

Squier left a complaint about the ads on America Progress Now’s Facebook page. “Cease and desist NOW!” she wrote. “This site is NOT authorized to make up quotes I never said or run ads on my behalf.”

The ads, some placed on the eve of the midterms, appear intended to take away Democratic votes in key races.

“This clearly looks like an attempt to convince members of the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party to vote Green, thus benefiting Republicans,” said Daniel Kreiss, an associate professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies political communication. “During the 2016 election, folks on the right, shady groups were pushing Green Party votes as well.”

In a statement to VICE News and ProPublica, Facebook said it reviewed the ads, requested additional information from the advertiser and determined they do not violate its community standards or advertising policies. Facebook said the company received either an Employer Identification Number or an FEC committee ID from America Progress Now. It’s also possible that an individual bought the ads and that America Progress Now is not a political group, but an individual would still have to register with the FEC.

On the morning of Nov. 5, several of the ads said that they had been “taken down because it goes against Facebook’s advertising policies.” Later in the morning, the ads had all been restored.

America Progress Now did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but Facebook’s Messenger app indicated the page “read” the requests.

The page has spent at least $1,000 so far on the ads, which were still running Monday and have been viewed at least 108,000 times, according to Facebook’s ad archive. It’s a drop in the bucket in Facebook terms: Since May, advertisers have spent more than $353 million on political ads on Facebook. Yet the ads show how political groups and individuals are still using Facebook’s ad system to target voters anonymously.

There is no record of a group registered with the Federal Election Commission by the name America Progress Now; groups making online independent expenditures that urge readers to “vote for” a candidate incur legal requirements to register with the FEC. Nor does a group with the name America Progress Now exist in the corporate filings databases of LexisNexis, Washington, D.C., Delaware or other databases.

In May, Facebook instituted new political ad rules in response to Russian meddling: first, it verifies that the person placing ads has a Social Security number and a U.S. residential mailing address, then it requires the advertiser to add a “Paid for by” disclaimer that “accurately represent[s] the name of the entity or person responsible” for the ad.

However, Facebook last week acknowledged to ProPublica that it can’t “scalably” verify that the “Paid for by” disclaimers are accurate, all after VICE News was approved to run ads that said, falsely, that they had been “Paid for by Mike Pence” and all 100 U.S. senators.

At least one of America Progress Now’s ads was targeted to people whom Facebook categorizes as “very liberal,” according to one ad submitted by a participant in ProPublica’s Political Ad Collector project.

Several of the races targeted by the page — the Missouri Senate race, Ohio’s 12th Congressional District and Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District — are highly competitive and are rated as “toss-ups” by the Cook Political Report. Two others are “leans” and two, the Michigan Senate race and Pennsylvania governor’s race, are considered “likely” Democratic victories by the Cook Political Report. The logic of these choices is unclear: While there is a Green Party candidate in New Jersey’s “toss-up”-rated Senate race, America Progress Now hasn’t run ads about the candidate there.

“It has the potential to make a difference in close races,” Kreiss said, but he doubts it’ll be effective this year, where so much of the midterm election dialogue has focused on President Donald Trump. “You will see Democrats and progressives having party unity.”

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Antisemitism endangers us all. We can’t afford to be complacent | Sadiq Khan

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The synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh should be a clarion call for society to take a stand. I want London to lead the way

On Saturday – exactly a week after the horrific attack in Pittsburgh – I had the privilege of attending a Shabbat service at a synagogue in London to show solidarity with the Jewish community, both here and around the world. We prayed for all those affected – the families, the friends and the wider Jewish community. This evening, I’m also proud to be speaking at the annual dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews – a great organisation that does an incredible job standing up for the Jewish community in our country.

Understandably, many Jewish Londoners – and Jewish communities around the world – are not only mourning the victims of the dreadful attack in Pittsburgh, but worried about what this means for their own safety. A synagogue should always be a sanctuary, a place where you feel safe to worship and practise your faith in peace.

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A 13-year-old girl is a ‘lesbian’ if she plays football? Some things don’t change

Still – :>{

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Taunts like this have been around for decades – but this playground name-calling reflects how women’s sports are treated

When I was in school a few decades ago, it was standard to be called a lesbian if you so much as kicked a football back to a boy in the playground. This was obviously after the ball had been aimed at one’s (lesbo) head in the kind of terrifying gesture that we were taught, as girls, to laugh off – or, worse, take as a compliment. (See also: the pinging of bra straps.) Well, here we are in 2018, which in many ways is just an endless gif of a football whacking your outraged teenage head (which – ha! – in my case turned out to be bisexual), and a 13-year-old girl is being called a lesbian … for playing football. Some things, such as the nature and content of homophobic taunts, don’t change.

Darcie, from Monmouthshire in Wales, has reportedly been told by PE teachers that she cannot play football as a recommended sport at school. Her peers “have criticised me a lot by saying I’m a man or a lesbian”, she says. The other children’s parents are reportedly no better, apparently shouting “don’t let a girl tackle you” during matches. Gender stereotyping never looked so unoriginal.

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