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Maandelijks archief februari 2017

Supporters Of Syrian Rebels Using Pro-Israel Tactics To Silence Journalist

“I’ve never been as marginalized and ostracized as I have been by these pro-regime change in Syria pressure groups. This includes my reporting on Palestine. That never got me this much backlash, ever.”

Journalist and co-host of "Unauthorized Disclosure," Rania Khalek.

Aclique of individuals, many of whom hold themselves out as advocates of the Syrian rebels, pressured a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the University of North Carolina and convinced the chapter to cancel an event with journalist Rania Khalek.

The individuals employed pressure in the same manner that pro-Israel students and groups typically employ pressure to shut down pro-Palestine events that they perceive to be unjustifiably against Israel.

“An Evening With Rania Khalek” was scheduled for February 27. It was co-sponsored by the Black Student Movement and Criminal Justice Awareness and Action. It was promoted as an opportunity for students to hear about the “role Israel plays in training the U.S. police force and how this impacts the lives of disenfranchised communities from Palestine to Baltimore and beyond.”

She was also expected to highlight Israel’s influence on the “United States’ border security and its use of drones as weapons of destruction.” The chapter expected her to address the implications of President Donald Trump’s election on Palestine.

Event organizers described Khalek as “an outspoken independent journalist known for her groundbreaking work covering Palestine and Syria,” but at no point was Khalek planning to talk about the conflict in Syria.

On February 26, she was informed the event was canceled after several complaints, which were primarily posted to the Facebook page for the event.

“They received several complaints that I’m pro-Assad and that I’m anti-Muslim,” Khalek told Shadowproof.

According to Khalek, organizers invited her to speak at an event in January. She had to reschedule the event to February, and the February date was set a couple weeks ago. The intense pressure against SJP did not publicly manifest itself until February 25.

“After receiving much feedback and after careful consideration, we have decided to cancel tomorrow’s event with Rania Khalek,” the UNC SJP chapter announced. “We do not endorse nor reject her views on the Syrian civil war as they remain relatively unclear, according to our members’ diverse opinions of Rania’s analyses.”

“Although Rania was not going to speak about Syria, we understand the Syrian conflict is a contentious issue and the invitation was met with a lot of anger. We appreciate the concerns of those who have reached out to us, especially our Syrian supporters, and believe her invitation would mistakenly imply SJP to hold such views. SJP supports liberation movements for all oppressed people and recognizes their right to self-determination,” the chapter added.

“Enemies Of Mankind”

The cancellation was celebrated by Idrees Ahmad, a journalist whose work has been published by The Guardian, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Vice News, The New Republic, and The Atlantic. Sarab Abu Adib al-Jijakli, a Syrian American community organizer, advertising executive, and the national president of the Network of Arab American Professionals, praised the chapter.

Michael D. Weiss, a Daily Beast contributor, was pleased. Sana Saeed and Amr Kawji, both affiliated with AJ Plus, were glad the chapter canceled the event. But none was as proud of the students in the UNC SJP chapter as Oz Katerji.

Katerji works for the Turkish State Broadcaster, TRT World, and when asked how much damage he would like to see inflicted upon Khalek and her journalistic career, he responded, “I will never stop fighting against Assad’s propaganda campaign, over my dead body.”

Asked if Katerji would like to see nobody donate to her work ever again, he admitted, “Yes, that would be preferable. Maybe one day you will all apologize for your shameful politics but that won’t stop me.”

“I will never stop. Not with any of you. I will never rest while you are given platforms or publishing opportunities,” Katerji proclaimed. He maintained Khalek is “no journalist” but rather a “shill” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran. He described people like Khalek as enemies of mankind and hoped God would have mercy on her because he had no plans to show mercy.

Katerji has not publicly indicated whether he contacted the SJP chapter to lobby for the cancellation of Khalek’s event. Regardless, his conduct exemplifies the kind of overzealous and malicious nature of activists, who are committed to inflicting a kind of economic violence against people who offer effective nuanced analyses about Syria and refuse to toe their line.

“A tightly-knit network of Syrian regime change activists has composed a de facto blacklist of those who have refused to toe their ruthlessly enforced, hyper-sectarian ideological line,” journalist Max Blumenthal wrote. “Their goal is to deny the message by destroying the messenger.”

According to Blumenthal, who has also had his professional career targeted by Katerji, he has “worked enthusiastically with Israeli aid organizations and demonized leading Palestine solidarity activists as anti-Semites, including the founder of Electronic Intifada. He freely admits that a Canary Mission-style campaign is being organized to silence ideological foes like Rania.”

Canary Mission is a shadowy outfit that engages in modern-day McCarthyism to vilify individual Palestinian solidarity activists in the United States. They have directed their attention particularly at students in groups on college campuses, like SJP, and aim to prevent students who engage in pro-Palestinian activism future employment opportunities (just like Katerji and others did to Khalek in this case).

The effort to silence Khalek escalated substantially in recent months, especially when she traveled to Syria to see for herself what was happening to Syrians in Aleppo. She went on a delegation with Western journalists to a conference in Damascus organized by a nongovernmental organization known as the British Syrian Society, which was co-founded by Assad’s father-in-law. She had her name added to a program as a speaker without her consent. So did a number of other journalists, however, after the program circulated online, she was the only one who was targeted by this faction.

As a result, Khalek was forced to resign from the editorial board of The Electronic Intifada. She had to leave Damascus and never attended the conference. She subsequently found it impossible to convince major progressive media outlets to publish her reporting from Aleppo, even though it was topical and frequently in the news last November.

Khalek criticized Salafism and Wahhabism, which are ultra-conservative strains of Islam. These ideologies inspire jihadist groups like al Qaida and the Islamic State. She faced a backlash from people accusing her of Islamophobia for negatively writing about these modern far-right ideologies on social media. And, whether coincidental or not, that is when the pressure to cancel her event really escalated.

“Why Is It That I Have To Fight On All These Fronts?”

“I feel bad for the students,” Khalek shared. “They were put under a lot of pressure, and they really wanted to have me come talk but ultimately they voted to cancel it. The reasoning was they didn’t want to have to deal with all this controversy around Syria.”

“I don’t agree with the fact that they canceled it, however, I totally understand. They already deal with an immense level of backlash for their Palestine work on their campuses. So, it’s really not fair that they should have to deal with pressure group attacks from people who want regime change in Syria” as well.

She expressed immense frustration at the fact that media outlets, which cover Palestinian issues or issues of free speech, have not covered or spoken up more forcefully to condemn what happened.

“Why is it that I have to fight on all of these fronts?” Khalek said. “I’m being completely silenced. I already lost my job because of the Syria trolls. Because all I did was question the narrative around the rebels and challenged it. I lost my job because I went to Syria and tried to see for myself what was happening. I lost my job because of an insane smear campaign as a result of going to Syria. Now, I’m being canceled and no-platformed as if I’m Milo [Yiannopoulos] or something.”

“I’ve never been as marginalized and ostracized as I have been by these pro-regime change in Syria pressure groups. This includes my reporting on Palestine. That never got me this much backlash, ever,” Khalek added.

Amr Kawji said to the SJP chapter, “Save yourselves the embarrassment and cancel your event with Rania Khalek—an Islamophobic pro-Assad propagandist. So ashamed.”

“As a Syrian American (and former SJP member),” he wrote on their Facebook event page, “I am asking you kindly to either cancel this event with Rania Khalek or replace her with a coherent speaker. Rania’s comments on Syria and Islam have been extremely hurtful to many people, and she should not be allowed to continue to spew her propaganda. Save yourselves the embarrassment and please cancel the event or find someone else.”

Adam Sabra, a professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, also wrote on the Facebook event page, “I share other people’s concerns about inviting Rania Khalek to campus. In particular, her support for the Syrian regime undermines her credibility to speak on behalf of the Palestinian cause. I ask you to reconsider.”

Shadowproof reached out to Sabra for examples of what concerned him about Khalek and whether he considered the kind of precedent this pressure to shut down Khalek’s event might set on the UNC campus. Sabra did not respond to the request for comment.

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director for CAIR-LA who openly wished a Russian military jet that crashed had killed more military personnel and later apologized, declared, “As a lifelong advocate for freedom and justice in Palestine, I applaud you for refusing to throw the Syrian people and their just struggle for freedom and dignity under the bus. Palestine is too just and noble of a cause to allow an Assad apologist to taint it, even if she claims to stand for Palestinian freedom.”

“We stand for freedom for the people of Palestine, Syria, and all those oppressed. Supporters of tyranny can never be true allies,” Ayloush added.

As may be evident, when those committed to shutting down Khalek condemn her alleged views, there are zero specifics given. Labels are attached to vilify her without any attempt to back up those labels whatsoever.

Sustained Attacks On A Journalist’s Economic Livelihood

Writer Carl Beijer argued people like Katerji are “engaged in a deliberate, continuing campaign of attacks on Rania Khalek’s economic livelihood in order to force her to abandon a political position.” Their hope is to “leverage capitalism towards inflicting as much violence on her.” They effectively, through their actions, are okay with threatening her with “food insecurity,” “unsafe living conditions,” and loss of health insurance. They intend to force her into poverty.

This is economic violence, Beijer asserted, and why “people of conscience should find this behavior absolutely revolting.”

Khalek considers what she is dealing with to be a form of “economic terrorism.”

“People like Oz are trying to sabotage any prospect for me to ever be able to make money, to ever be able to feed myself and put a roof over my head,” Khalek stated. “It’s McCarthyism at its worst. And it should not be met shrugs and silence because people are scared of the Syrian issue. This is where people need to have solidarity with journalists.”

What people like Katerji do works. It has worked against Khalek. “There is a soft boycott of me.”

Part of the attack on her included outrage that she commented on sects of Islam when she is not Muslim. There was outrage that a secular non-Muslim Arab woman condemned Salafism and Wahhabism.

To Khalek, this weaponization of identity politics to destroy her reputation is similar to how pro-Israel groups target Palestinian voices and work to suppress their work.

Her family is from Lebanon and have Druze heritage. These religious ideologies, according to Khalek, are led by figures, who call for the death or enslavement of Druze people.

“As a minority from the region, I have every right to speak out against the religious ideologies that call for my death. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Finally, while a number of people came to her defense and condemned the decision by the SJP chapter, she believes if a Zionist or pro-Israel group had shut down her event there would be much more attention to the cancellation. But apparently, “It’s perfectly okay for someone to cancel talks because they don’t like someone’s reporting on Syria. I just don’t see why that’s not as big of a deal.”

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Maariv: Mossad used phantom media firm to kill Zouari


Maariv newspaper said that the murderers of Tunisian aviation engineer Mohamed Zouari worked under the guise of a fake European media production company in order to locate and assassinate him.

According to the Hebrew newspaper on Monday, Israel’s Mossad established a phantom media company to use it as a cover to reach Zouari and employed Tunisian citizens to achieve that.

However, Maariv claimed that the hired Tunisians worked for the company and acted in good faith, without knowing the Mossad was behind it and lurking around.

In order for the Mossad to carry out the assassination, the Tunisians were assigned to secure cars and cellphones for the job and contact Zouari for interviews.

Among the Tunisians who worked for that company was a Tunisian journalist holding Hungarian citizenship. She conducted interviews with Zouari and arranged the last meeting in which he was killed by two Mossad agents.

According to the newspaper, a similar tactic had been used by the Mossad in 2010 to plot the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

Martyr Zouari was one of Hamas’s prominent engineers and contributed to developing drones for the Palestinian resistance movement.

He was a Tunisian aviation engineer and lived for some time in Syria during the presence of Hamas there before he was able to return to his country Tunisia following the 2011 revolution.

On December 15, 2016, he was assassinated outside his home in Sfax, a commercial coastal town that lies southeast of Tunis.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Al-Haiya: The two-state solution is doomed to failure


The member at the political bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Khalil Al-Haiya, said that the two-state solution is doomed to failure and there is no alternative to free Palestine.

Al-Haiya pointed out during the Friday sermon that Palestine is solely for Palestinians and no one will share it with them, noting that the Palestinian resistance will continue its struggle against the Israeli Occupation.

The official added that there are no peaceful solutions with an occupation that commits barbaric crimes against the Palestinian people. Al-Haiya stressed that the Israeli Occupation has no place on the Palestinian land.

He called upon all the Palestinian people to unite efforts needed to expel the Israeli Occupation and put an end to its continuous aggression on the indigenous people.

Al-Haiya concluded by saying that the latest land grab law will strip the Palestinian people at the West Bank from their homes and land.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Minors, girls among 7 arrests reported in West Bank


The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Tuesday evening seven Palestinians as clashes broke out in al-Khalil and Ramallah.

Local activist Mohamed Awad affirmed to the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers arrested today evening two Palestinian minors aged 14 and 16 at the entrance to Beit Ummar town in al-Khalil.

Meanwhile, five University students, including two young women, were detained when clashes erupted near Ofer military camp west of Ramallah.

The five detainees were identified as Ahmed Khader, Zainab Barghouthi, Bayan Safi, Miran Barghouthi, and Hassan Daraghmeh.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Madaya’s Besieged Residents Send Message to UN via Opposition Delegation to Geneva Talks

The opposition’s negotiation delegation to Geneva talks conveyed a message from the local council in the besieged town of Madaya in Rural Damascus to the UN envoy to Syria Satffan de Mistura expressing the grievances of the people of Madaya.

In a teleconference between members of council and members of the opposition’s High Negotiation Committee (HNC) on Monday, the conferees stressed the need for the HNC to press the United Nations to enforce its resolutions on Syria, most importantly the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged towns and cities, the lifting of the sieges, and the release of detainees.

Members of the local council pointed to the severe shortages of food and medical supplies in the town, leading to diseases among the civilians trapped inside such as kidney failure and kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein–energy malnutrition. An estimated 350 people have developed this disease, which is caused by insufficient intake of protein and the food being limited to dry beans.

The town of Madaya is home to about 40,000 people who suffer a crippling siege by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias. At least 280 people have died since the beginning of the siege nearly three years ago. Moreover, 12 people have been killed in attacks by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias or died due to lack of medical supplies since the truce took effect in December 29, 2016. Around 200 more have been injured.

During the teleconference, the HNC spokesman Salem Meslet assured members of the council that their message to the United Nations will be delivered, stressing that the HNC delegation is in Geneva to discuss political transition needed to restore stability and security to all parts of Syria.

The mission of the opposition’s negotiating team is to defend the demands of the Syrian people and help achieve their aspirations, Meslet said.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 28.02.2017)

‘5 atom bombs’: 3,000 local Israelis protest ammonia facility with potential to kill 600K people

‘5 atom bombs’: 3,000 local Israelis protest ammonia facility with potential to kill 600K people

Haifa Chemicals’ ammonia tank in Israel, February 26 2017

Around 3,000 people gathered outside Haifa District Court on Sunday to demand the closure of an ammonia storage facility that is said to be potentially more deadly than five of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

Judges in the district court deliberated for around three hours as a crowd of environmental protesters gathered outside.

Middle and high schools around Haifa and nearby towns also went on strike, with all classes cancelled from 8am till noon to allow the students to take part in the protest.
“The ammonia tank endangers and threatens hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the Haifa district. I call on all teenagers to ask the hard questions, create a discourse, become actively involved and go and protest for the relocation of the ammonia tank,” said Haifa District Student Council Chairman Noy Krief, as quoted by Ynet.

In an earlier ruling, Haifa’s Court for Local Affairs gave the Haifa Group, the fertilizer producer that operates the tank, until February 22 to remove its chemicals from the facility. Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry also said it would not renew the tank’s permit when it expires on March 1.

After initially saying it would comply with the court’s decision, the company filed a last-minute appeal, accusing Haifa’s authorities of trying to “sow fear among the public,” arguing that its facility is crucial to the local economy and closing it will cost jobs. It was granted a stay until Sunday’s hearing.

The facility was declared a danger to public health after the Technion Institute of Technology published an expert report in January, which said the site had not been properly inspected since it was built 30 years ago. If the ammonia tank was to rupture, for example, as the result of an earthquake or terrorist attack, the released gas could suffocate 16,000 people. This fact was not lost on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who threatened to launch rockets at Haifa’s ammonia tanks, as well as a nuclear facility in Dimona, should a conflict erupt with Israel.

“I call on Israel not only to empty the ammonia tank in Haifa, but also to dismantle the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Our military capabilities will strike Israel and its settlements,” he said in a televised speech, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Apparently picking up on the idea, one of the protesters outside the court dressed up as Nasrallah for the rally.

נסראללה בחוץ, קורא להשאיר את המיכל. השופטת באולם. עורכי הדין של חיפה כימיקלים לא כאן!!!! @haifacity

However, the shipments of ammonia the facility receives through the city’s port each month pose an even graver threat. If the delivery ship’s cargo leaked into the air, it could kill as many as 600,000 people in the local area.

“To bring down the Twin Towers in New York, the terrorists did not need dozens of tons of explosives; rather, they realized the destructive potential of a giant passenger plane, full of fuel, traveling at high speeds,” the report read, noting “the Hezbollah secretary-general was absolutely right about the inherent destructive potential of the container and, more important, of the ammonia ship.”

“The ammonia ship that enters the Haifa Bay every four weeks is akin to a ship carrying five primed atom bombs, each more deadly than the one dropped on Hiroshima,” the report added.

The report’s findings prompted Jameela Hardal Wakim, leader of an NGO called Citizens for the Environment, to press Haifa Municipality to request that the Local Affairs Court issue an immediate order to shut down the tank. This was granted on February 12, until the Haifa Group filed its appeal.

Former Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin has criticized the Haifa Group for not pursuing alternatives, such as moving the facility to the southern Negev desert.

“It is up to the government to close the plant and remove this horrific danger from the citizens of Haifa and North,” he said, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

“The suitable solution to this situation is reopening it in Mishor Rotem, and by doing that it would also create places of work in the South.

“Luckily, the court saved the public from danger, and its decision, which motivated the government to act, might have prevented a large-scale disaster,” he said.

Judge Tamar Sharon Netanel promised that the District Court would reach a decision by Wednesday at the latest, the Times of Israel reported.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

IOA distributes demolition notices north of Jenin


The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) on Tuesday handed demolition notices to owners of vegetable stalls north of Jenin city after interrogating them.

Hasan Abu Farha told the PIC reporter that the IOA warned them of setting up their vegetable stalls along al-Nasra road until the Jalama checkpoint claiming that it is a military zone.

Farha pointed out that 14 owners of vegetable stalls, who have set up their stalls few hundred meters away from the Jalama checkpoint, were handed demolition notices, and added that these citizens, who do not pose any threat to the Israeli authorities, will become jobless.

The IOA demolished in 2016 all the stalls in the area which served as a shopping center for the Palestinians of the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Palestinian Human Rights Council Condemns Israel’s Ban of Israel-Palestine HRW Director

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) has strongly condemned “the refusal by Israeli authorities to grant a work permit to Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director.”

PHROC added, “The refusal reflects a larger policy of repression of human rights work by Israeli authorities through movement restrictions, arbitrary arrests, travel bans, and denial of entry.”

PHROC notated it “stands in solidarity with Human Rights Watch and calls for the protection of human rights work, the freedom of movement for human rights staff, and an immediate end to repression and that serves to inhibit vital human rights work in Palestine, Israel and globally.”

View image on Twitter

PHROC condemns denial of work permit of Human Rights Watch country director 

PHROC concluded that “In recent months, Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations have come under increased pressure from Israel for their reporting on Israel’s human rights violations. This includes a series of smear campaigns and the passage of a Knesset law in July of 2016 that obliges nongovernmental organizations to report on their foreign funding, with fines reaching about 7,000 USD for non-compliance.”

Israel has denied Omar Shakir, the Israel/Palestine director for Human Rights Watch a work permit, citing HRW ‘bias’ against Israel, a claim HRW rejects.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Israeli soldier shot elderly Palestinian in West Bank

The Palestinian is 72 years old. What kind of danger does he pose on the Israeli soldiers?

An Israeli occupation soldier shot, wounded on Tuesday an elderly Palestinian man at illegal military checkpoint south of West Bank city of Nablus.

Most of the shootings, where the Israeli occupation claimed the Palestinians attempted to attack Israeli soldiers, proved they were motivated by racist reasons. (Archive)

An Israeli occupation soldier shot, wounded on Tuesday an elderly Palestinian man at illegal military checkpoint south of West Bank city of Nablus.

Eyewitnesses said that the elderly wanted to cross the illegal military checkpoint of Huwwara when the Israeli occupation soldier opened fire at him.

Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) evacuated the Palestinian old man from the area where he was shot to the Palestinian hospital of Rafidia in Nablus.

The PRC paramedics said that the man was shot in the foot and pelvis, describing his condition as moderate, but stable.

Sources at the hospital identified the man as Hussein Qawariq, 72 years old.

A spokesperson of the Israeli occupation army claimed that the man posed danger on the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint.

Therefore, the spokesperson alleged, they called for him to stop and when he did not respond to their orders, they opened fire at him.

Several rights groups and officials, including Israelis, accused the Israeli occupation forces of shooting the Palestinian citizens at the different Israeli checkpoints across the occupied West Bank without posing any danger.

Most of the shootings, where the Israeli occupation claimed the Palestinians attempted to attack Israeli soldiers, proved they were motivated by racist reasons.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

Palestinian died as being chased by Israeli forces

The Israeli forces chased the Palestinian youth while he was heading to his work inside Israel

Palestinian citizen died after falling from a 164-feet-cliff in the occupied West Bank as he was running away from the Israeli occupation forces on Thursday night.

The youth, the sources said, tried to jump over the Apartheid Barrier, but he fell down from the cliff and, according to the medical report, he immediately died

Palestinian citizen died after falling from a 164-feet-cliff in the occupied West Bank as he was running away from the Israeli occupation forces on Thursday night.

Local sources identified the Palestinian as Rabeeh Salman, 20, and said he was from Askar Refugee Camp, east of Nablus.

According to the sources, the Palestinian youth wanted to cross the Israeli Apartheid Barrier, which divides the occupied West Bank into very small cantons, to his workplace in Israel.

The youth, the sources said, tried to jump over the Apartheid Barrier, but he fell down from the cliff and, according to the medical report, he immediately died.

Following to the death of the Palestinian youth, several Israeli military vehicles and a military helicopter arrived in the scene for combing activities.

Later on, the Israeli occupation authorities handed over the body of the youth to the Palestinian Red Crescent, which admitted it to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus for medical examination.

(Source / 28.02.2017)