No Culture For ‘Em This Week

‘cos the interwebs was brokenz all Saturday. So enjoy teh kittehs n teh fail.

Administrative Rape

Earlier today I was again thinking about a post I want to finish which is about the hysteria of the wars on …well everything and within this authoritarian fugue how what would normally be considered rape is sanctioned by the state as ‘cavity searches’ or ‘strip searches’. Then this was reported at The Fanonite

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) – Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza. Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.

Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials. Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately. While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross. Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation.

“Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats,” Omer said.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met. The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being “the prize-winning journalist”. The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to “the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave.” To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a “trouble-maker”.

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked.

“At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear,” Omer said.

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer’s neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted. When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.

“I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me,” Omer told IPS. The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation. The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, “We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don’t believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy. “We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business,” added Dadou.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident. Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

“We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened. I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet.”

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. “I’m struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations,” he said.

He was assaulted then raped, the agents doing it knew he was a journalist, it may well be why they were doing it, the excuses of the spokeswoman are pathetic. How many men and women are administratively raped in IAA facilities? Others talking about this also mention how it is reminiscent of the treatment meted out to Hedy Epstein, a holocaust survivor (her parents died in camps, she escaped on a children’s transport in 1939) who in 2004 at 80 years of age was humiliatingly strip searched as she tried to travel into Palestine. This administrative rape and sexual assault, this sexual torture is a powerful weapon for the oppressor (cf. Abu Ghraib) however such ‘searches’ remain delineated into ‘security’ a false taxonomy even more important for the perpetrators to insist on after the UN recognised rape as a war tactic.

Posted in Human Rights, Torture. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Administrative Rape

Bipartisan Covert War With Iran

Seymour Hersh’s latest [here] details an expanded program of covert US activities against Iran, what is also important to note is-

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed. “The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy. (ht2 People’s Geography)

And both are keeping tight lipped-

Reuters- Many of these activities are not specified in the new finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature, it said. Among groups inside Iran benefiting from U.S. support is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, according to former CIA officer Robert Baer. Council on Foreign Relations analyst Vali Nasr described it to Hersh as a vicious organization suspected of links to al Qaeda.

The article said U.S. support for the dissident groups could prompt a violent crackdown by Iran, which could give the Bush administration a reason to intervene. None of the Democratic leaders in Congress would comment on the finding, the article said. The White House, which has repeatedly denied preparing for military action against Iran, and the CIA also declined comment.

Maybe, maybe the Democratic leadership have a faulty dictionary with incorrect definitions of- opposition, democracy, honesty and spine. Or it further confirms the leadership cynically co-opted anti-war feelings to get votes with no intention of actually fulfilling that role. Which leaves the election seeming an even weaker version of the least-worse-choice every day. You can vote empire, or you can vote empire, your choice! The real issue as Cyrus Safdari @ Iran Affairs says-

The “Iranian nuclear threat” talk is a pretext, a distraction and a smokescreeen. “Wmds in Iraq” was the pretext to invade Iraq, and “Communism” was the same pretextual justification for the CIA’s 1953 coup in Iran to secure oil. Bloggers should not allow themselves to be distracted into that debate, and should keep the focus on the real issue.

<…>

THAT is really what is behind this nonsense about “nuclear weapons” — a battle by developing nations with the rich to control their access to energy by monopolizing nuclear enrichment technology under the guise of non-proliferation. In the particular case of Iran, the Bush administration is also seeking to keep Iran economically deprived and backward, to suit Israel and thereby help secure Israel’s dominant position in the Mideast while also creating a pretext for implementing a policy of regime change.

Good Riddance

The United States has withdrawn nuclear weapons from the RAF Lakenheath air base 70 miles northeast of London, marking the end to more than 50 years of U.S. nuclear weapons deployment to the United Kingdom…Why NATO and the United States have decided to keep these major withdrawals secret is a big puzzle. The explanation might simply be that “nuclear” always means secret, that it was done to prevent a public debate about the future of the rest of the weapons, or that the Bush administration just doesn’t like arms control. Whatever the reason, it is troubling because the reductions have occurred around the same time that Russian officials repeatedly have pointed to the U.S. weapons in Europe as a justification to reject limitations on Russia’s own tactical nuclear weapons.

Mosaic-tastic

It’s not often you go out and actively inflict a meme upon yourself but I found this so enjoyable, well I did it twice! Ok so here’s the lowdown from GLH Playground

1. type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. using only the first page of results, pick one image.
3. copy and paste each of the url’s for the images into big huge lab’s mosaic maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:
1. what is your first name?
2. what is your favorite food? right now?
3. what high school did you go to?
4. what is your favorite color?
5. who is your celebrity crush?
6. what is your favorite drink?
7. what is your dream vacation?
8. what is your favorite dessert?
9. what do you want to be when you grow up?
10. what do you love most in life?
11. what is one word that describes you?
12. what is your flickr name?

some blogs are posting their answers to each other questions – i’d rather remain an enigma. i think the mosaic stands on it’s own.

And I agree, I also think with different questions it could become even more intriguing and the resultant mosaic is worthy of some pondering beyond simply the answers and the pics, the free creativity of all the flickr users, how people tag their images, how you choose, why you choose. The result does construct meaning emanating from many decisions and some shared perceptions mediated through the technology. A hi-tech ink blot, some collective unconscious, a colourful gestalt.

Also maybe a weekly one made of 9 search terms (for a 3×3 grid) from the weeks stuff and slightly changed rules could be good, hmmm. Anyway I enjoyed doing it (it is great, you see lots of piccies and the mosaic maker is really easy and effective), feel free to give a whirl and here are my two mosaics-

Friday! Kings Of Convenience- Failure

D’oh! [see below]

The Rape of Iraq- Casinos & Whores: And Hoaxers

Update: After this got picked up by Juan Cole a blogger with experience of Eisenstadt is saying it is a hoax, (or at least the guy is a wannabe more than anything) I’m trying to get to the bottom of this but as satire it does hit its targets I suppose.

Update 2: Well the jury is in and it is not what it appears to be, the guy changed his name to Martin to escape detection (now foiled as the last bout of activity now puts hoax as top result for his name!). If he means to help the antiwar cause he has not, my guess is he is after a media career does hold right wing views and thinks this is a funny satire of what the left thinks of the occupation. I will leave the rest of the post as a lesson in fallibility! I’m sorry to those who like me were taken in by this. Martin Eisenstadt or whoever he really is is invited to come here and explain his work and what his motivations are.

Old post below the fold-

Read the rest of this entry »