Friday 14th of June 2024

new curriculum: submission, compliance, fascism and fear ....

Thousands of students face severe consequences for protesting Gaza violence. Alan Macleod investigates the powerful financial and ideological ties to Israel driving the harsh responses from America’s top universities.

 

By Alan MacLeod / MintPress News

 

America’s universities are on fire. A protest movement against the violence in Gaza and U.S. colleges’ complicity in them has swept the nation, with encampments on college campuses in 45 of America’s 50 states. The crackdown has been swift; thousands of students have been arrested, charged, fined, lost their degrees, or even deported. Amid corporate media demanding a “Kent State 2.0”, riot police, armored vehicles and snipers have been deployed across the country to terrify those campaigning for justice into silence.

Why have overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations against a foreign power’s actions been met with such a heavy-handed response? A MintPress News investigation finds that those same elite institutions have deep financial and ideological ties to the state of Israel, are funded by pro-Israel billionaires who have demanded they take action to crush the student movement, are partially funded by the Israeli government, and exist in a climate where Washington has made it clear that the protests should not be tolerated.

ISRAEL’S BILLIONAIRE BACKERS

The movement began on April 17 at Columbia University, where a modest Gaza solidarity encampment was established. Protestors hardly expected to be welcomed by university authorities but were shocked as university president Minouche Shafik immediately called in the NYPD – the first time the university had allowed police to suppress dissent on campus since the famous 1968 demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

Shafik’s decision was no doubt influenced by the enormous pressure put on her by the university’s top donors – many of whom have deep connections to the Israeli state and its military.

ROBERT KRAFT

Billionaire businessman and sports executive Robert Kraft, for example, publicly announced he was cutting the university off from his lavish funding over its failure to suppress the protests effectively enough. “I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” he said in a statement, claiming that Columbia was not protecting its Jewish students.

The turning point, Kraft said, was watching a publicity stunt by Shai Davidai, an Israeli-American academic at Columbia, who claimed his access to campus was revoked. Davidai had previously called the student protestors “Nazis” and “terrorists” and called for the National Guard to be set upon the encampment, obliquely referencing the Kent State University Massacre while doing so.

Kraft is one of Columbia’s most important donors, giving the institution millions of dollars, including $3 million to fund the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life.

He also has deep connections to Israel, having visited the country over 100 times, including to have private lunch with his friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft.”

Netanyahu is correct. Kraft is one of the Israel lobby’s primary benefactors, donating millions to groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs. He pledged a gigantic $100 million to his own Foundation to Combat Antisemitism – a group that presents critics of Israeli policy with the charge of anti-Jewish racism. He has also funded a host of pro-Israel politicians in races against progressive, anti-war challengers. A recent MintPress News investigation took a closer look at how Kraft is a key actor in trying to launder Israel’s image in America.

LEON COOPERMAN

Another billionaire benefactor pulling his Columbia funding is Leon Cooperman. The hedge fund manager suspended his donations in October, citing student support for Palestine. “These kids are fucking crazy. They don’t understand what they’re doing or what they’re talking about,” he fumed, adding that they “have to be controlled.” One person who does know what he is talking about on this issue is Columbia’s Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, Joseph Massad. Yet Cooperman demanded Massad be fired after the academic took positions on Palestine he objected to.

Cooperman has enormous influence at Columbia precisely because he is one of its chief income sources. In 2012, for instance, he donated $25 million to support the construction of the university’s new Manhattanville campus.

However, Columbia is far from the only organization that receives lavish Cooperman cash. He is also a regular donor to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), a group that collects money to purchase supplies, equipment and support for active-duty Israeli soldiers. In addition, he was the first person to provide an endowment to Birthright Israel, an organization that provides free propaganda trips to Israel for young Jews.

LEN BLAVATNIK

A third billionaire backer using his financial clout to pressure Columbia is Soviet-born oligarch Len Blavatnik, who demanded that the university protestors be “held to account.” Leaked messages reveal that for Blavatnik,  this meant using the full weight of the law against protestors.

Blavatnik was a member of a secret WhatsApp group created in October 2023 that included many prominent Americans, former Israeli prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Benny Gantz, and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog. Its mission was, in its own words, to “change the narrative” in favor of Israel and “help win the war” for U.S. public opinion. This included donating to pro-Israel political candidates and trying to pressure black celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and LeBron James to publicly “condemn antisemitism” – i.e., attempting to conflate the protestors with racists.

Blavatnik also bankrolls Birthright and the U.K. Friends of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and has funded at least 120 scholarships for former IDF soldiers. Together, Kraft, Cooperman and Blavatnik are thought to have donated nearly $100 million to Columbia.

IDAN OFER

From Columbia, the protests quickly spread across America, including to many of the country’s most prestigious institutions, including Harvard.

From the start, the university was actively hostile to the protest movement and suspended dozens of protestors, effectively stopping them from graduating. This hostility is no doubt in part due to the university’s big-money donors pulling out en masse since October 7. Chief among these is Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer, who cited what he called “the lack of clear evidence of support from the university’s leadership for the people of Israel” and expressed his dismay that the Massachusetts college would not condemn Hamas strongly enough.

Ofer is a crucial player in Israeli intelligence. As a previous MintPress News investigation revealed, his family’s Zodiac Maritime cargo ships have regularly been used to secretly ferry Israeli commandos around the Middle East for assassination operations. This includes the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Khalil al-Wazir in Tunisia.

LESLIE WEXNER

Another billionaire apparently “stunned and sickened” by Harvard’s pro-Hamas positions is former Victoria’s Secret CEO Leslie Wexner. Apart from Wexner’s exceptionally close and well-publicized connections to child sex traffickers and Israeli intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein, Wexner is a major donor to Israeli causes.

A 2007 list of potential political donors compiled by Benjamin Netanyahu includes Wexner prominently. (Also included were Ofer’s brother Eyal, Blavtnik, and Donald Trump). In 2023, Wexner donated a six-figure sum to AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel force in American politics.

MARC ROWAN

Nowhere, however, has the elite backlash to student protests been as bitter as at the University of Pennsylvania. Leading the charge to suppress pro-Palestine sentiment on campus there has been Marc Rowan. The billionaire investor demanded that his side must “exact a price” on students who express solidarity with Palestine. “These kids who are marching, they don’t think about it because there’s been no price to pay,” he explained, suggesting that they should never be allowed to work again: “I would not hire you if you were anti-Black. I wouldn’t hire if you were anti-gay. I wouldn’t hire you if you were anti-anything. Why would I hire an antisemite?” he stated, effectively conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli government.

Rowan strongly opposed UPenn’s hosting of a Palestinian literature festival in 2023, demanding that college president Liz Magill and UPenn board chair Scott Bok be fired. After October 7, Rowan and his allies succeeded in forcing both from their jobs.

Rowan has tremendous influence at his alma mater, primarily because of his extraordinarily deep pockets. In 2018, for instance, he donated $50 million to the Wharton School of Business at Pennsylvania. But like with Columbia and Harvard’s big-money benefactors, he is far from a neutral actor on the subject of Israel and Palestine. In fact, he has considerable business interests in Israel. He has described himself as someone who has a “building and overwhelming commitment” to the country and “looks to the IDF and to what Israel does” for guidance.

Rowan and other oligarchs, Jonathon Jacobson and Ronald Lauder, helped organize a university funding strike until their demands were met. Jacobson, who claimed that the university refuses to stand for American values, is the chairman of the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank whose current director is former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. Unsurprisingly, for a man of this background, he has a long history of making donations to pro-Israel groups in the U.S.

Lauder, meanwhile, is even more ingratiated with the Israeli establishment than Jacobson. A close confidant and supporter of Netanyahu, he was appointed a negotiator for Israel with the government of Syria in 1998. His presence at a One Jerusalem rally in front of religious and nationalist extremists in 2001 led to a boycott of the Estée Lauder brand across the Muslim world.

ACADEMIC COLLABORATION

In addition to pressure from donors, elite U.S. universities have close academic and business ties to Israel. For example, Columbia announced last year that it would open a “global center” in Tel Aviv, which would serve as a research hub for academics and graduate students. This would expand the university’s dealings in Israel, where students can already pursue a joint degree with Tel Aviv University or study abroad in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. This development, however, will only benefit Israelis, as Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere are generally barred from entering Israel.

The plans for a new global center drew heavy criticism from Columbia faculty members, nearly 100 of whom signed a letter asking it to reconsider the decision, given Israel’s human rights record. Moreover, in recent years, many Columbia academics have been barred from entering Israel, likely because of their political views. These include Rashid Kalidi, the Edward Saïd Professor of Modern Arab Studies, and law professor Katherine M. Franke, who was detained and interrogated by Israeli authorities for 14 hours before being deported.

Yet, when it comes to American educational institutions, Columbia’s Israeli collaboration is not unusual. In 2003, Cornell University and the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund established a program for joint agricultural research. In 2014, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs announced a joint program with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya in Israel. (The Lauder School is named after its founder and benefactor, Ronald Lauder, a longtime advocate for the Zionist cause). The University of California signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s National Technological Innovation Authority to increase cooperation between the two organizations.

Despite the growing movement calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, intellectual collaboration between American and Israeli academics has grown. Between 2006 and 2015, there was a 45% increase in the number of articles in academic journals whose authors included researchers affiliated with both American and Israeli universities.

This collaboration was primarily among elite institutions. Topping the list of schools was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which, between 2006 and 2015, had 1,835 joint publications with researchers from Israeli institutions. MIT was followed by the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard and Stanford, respectively. The most common fields of research were medicine, physics and astronomy, biochemistry and biology. Tel Aviv University was the most prevalent Israeli collaborator.

PAID FOR BY ISRAEL

However, more controversial than the academic collaboration is the Israeli government’s direct funding of American educational institutions. MIT, for example, is awash in Israeli cash. Scientists Against Genocide, a group at MIT, report that, since 2015, the university has received over $11 million in authorized research funding from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. This cash has reached various departments, including Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Biological Engineering, Physics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

MIT labs and centers receiving funding include The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, the Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

The money has paid for research that directly benefits the Israeli military and helps them in their campaigns against the civilian population of Palestine. For example, one MIT project funded by Israel since 2022 is titled “Autonomous Robotic Swarms: Distributed Coordination and Perception.” According to Scientists Against Genocide, the research has helped the IDF carry out aerial drone bombings, surveil protestors, and drop tear gas on Palestinians. Israel is known to be developing flocks of small autonomous drone aircraft guided by artificial intelligence to locate targets, direct airstrikes and aid military advances.

Another project, “Planning and Sensing Algorithms for Underwater Persistent Monitoring,” has seen the Israeli Ministry of Defense give MIT $1.5 million to develop technology to help them police the Mediterranean Sea. Scientists Against Genocide have suggested that this has helped Israel enforce a naval blockade against Gaza, including targeting fishing ships to prevent Gazans from being able to feed themselves.

Israel has long limited the amount of food entering Gaza, keeping residents on a “diet.” However, during its seven-month-long assault on the densely-populated strip, the food crisis has reached critical levels. The United Nations has warned that famine is imminent, and its high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, suggested Israel was carrying out a war crime by using starvation as a weapon.

TIES TO THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

It could be argued that MIT could reasonably be accused of directly abetting a genocide in Gaza. However, MIT and other elite institutions are under enormous governmental pressure from the other side. Its president, Sally Kornbluth, as well as Harvard president Claudine Gay and Pennsylvania’s Magill, were brought before Congress and grilled on their universities’ alleged support for Hamas and indifference to antisemitism. The case made national news and focused waves of pressure on universities nationwide.

The U.S., of course, has an extremely close relationship with Israel, using it as an outpost of its power in the Middle East. Washington has vetoed successive bills at the United Nations that attempt to address the dire situation, including those calling for a ceasefire and full Palestinian statehood. The U.S. supplies Tel Aviv with nearly $4 billion worth of military aid each year, and in April, Congress voted to send $17 billion of additional U.S. taxpayer money. Critics have blasted the aid as pointless at best and supporting a genocide at worst. But President Biden maintains that every penny given to Israel is money well spent and has stated that if Israel did not exist, the United States would have to invent one.

American support for Israel comes at more than just a monetary cost. The U.S.’s international reputation is sinking. A recent poll shows that a majority of people in Southeast Asia would now choose China over the U.S. if forced to choose, with Washington’s continued backing of Israel being a critical factor in this shift. A number of American officials have also publicly resigned from their positions in protest. Lily Greenberg Call, the first Jewish Biden appointee to publicly resign over Gaza, left her job as special assistant to the chief of staff at the Interior Department. Explaining her decision, Greenberg Call wrote:

The President has the power to call for a lasting ceasefire, to stop sending weapons to Israel, and to condition aid. The United States has used nearly no leverage throughout the last eight months to hold Israel accountable; quite the opposite. We have enabled and legitimized Israel’s actions with vetoes of UN resolutions designed to hold Israel accountable. President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands.”

The United States has long enabled Israeli war crimes and the status quo of apartheid and occupation. That status quo does not keep Israelis safe, nor Jews around the world.”

Each campus protest is different. But they generally share the same goal: pressuring their universities into divesting their endowments from Israel and from companies linked to the ongoing Israeli occupation. Some have called for cutting academic ties with Israeli universities, while others, such as Cornell and Yale, have asked their schools to stop investing in weapons corporations that are making a killing from the bloodshed.

These requests have precedent. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, a host of American institutions cut off collaboration with Russia almost overnight. Going further back, student protests forced many U.S. universities to sever financial ties with Apartheid South Africa.

But Israel and the military-industrial complex are so intertwined with the U.S. economy that an extensive boycott might prove difficult, especially considering elite American universities’ deep ties to the defense industry. MIT, for example, has entered into long-term partnerships with a host of top weapons manufacturers, including RTX (formerly Raytheon), Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who has leased 100,000 square feet of research and lab space at MIT’s new mixed-use building in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA.

While corporate media has demonized the students as out-of-touch supporters of terrorism, they enjoy widespread support among their peers. Students approved a resolution calling on MIT to cut all research and financial ties to the Israeli military, with 63.7% of undergraduates and 70.5% of graduates voting in favor of it. American adults aged between 18 and 44 support the nationwide protests by a ratio of 4:3.

THE CRACKDOWN

Authorities, however, have been in little mood to negotiate, and images of black-clad riot police beating up and dragging away students and faculty members have gone viral across the globe.

MintPress spoke with Bryce Greene, a student organizer at the University of Indiana Bloomington, who told us how the administration collaborated with police to suppress the growing movement:

The night before we put our encampment up, the administration changed the rules of the space we were using and used that rule change to launch a military-level police assault on peaceful demonstrators. The university sanctioned armored vehicles, riot troops, assault weapons, shotguns, grenade launchers, a chopper circling overhead, a surveillance drone, and even a sniper on the roof.”

“On day one, militarized police swept into the camp and arrested dozens of people,” Greene said. Undaunted, protestors returned two days later and were met with similar levels of force. Greene was arrested and received a five-year ban from campus, something he attributes to his longtime student organizing.

The story at Indiana is far from unique. At MIT, more than 200 armed riot police stormed the protest camp at 4 am on May 11, destroying the encampment and arresting peaceful protestors. Harvard suspended the university’s Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and has taken action against individual students. Many are now facing eviction from student housing and even deportation. Meanwhile, UPenn has blocked protest leaders from campus. Seniors believe this will affect their ability to graduate or receive their degrees. As of May 22, there have been well over 3,000 arrests nationwide.

SHREDDING THE FIRST AMENDMENT

After a surprise attack by Hamas, Israel began its campaign on violence in Gaza on October 7. Relentless bombing of the tightly-packed strip has caused tens of thousands of deaths and led to nearly 2 million people being displaced in what is the worst episode of genocidal violence in Palestine since the 1948 Nakba when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forced from their homes at gunpoint to prepare the ground for a Jewish state. Multiple international bodies, including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and Amnesty International, have used the word “genocide” in discussing Israeli actions in Gaza. President Biden, however, rejected that interpretation and gave Israel his full support.

This unconditional backing is seriously harming Biden’s polling numbers. A majority of Democrat voters consider Israel’s actions to constitute genocide, and young Americans are abandoning support for him in droves.

Those groups, in particular, draw on alternative sources of news for Israel and Palestine. Polls show that young people who receive their news from TikTok and other social media (and not through the filter of corporate news) are most likely to hold a negative view of Israel’s actions. The Biden administration’s response has been to simply threaten the complete closure of TikTok in the United States. But it is far from clear whether this authoritarian measure will succeed in stemming the growing tide of Palestinian solidarity that has been building for years, partially down to the tireless work of activists on campuses across the nation.

Despite the campus demonstrations being overwhelmingly peaceful, authorities have chosen to crack down harshly upon them, shredding the First Amendment in the process. Why have both universities and the government shown virtually zero tolerance towards those protesting against genocide? Firstly, because so many big-money university benefactors are themselves committed Zionists and have deep ties to the Israeli state.

This raises the question of whether these so-called charitable donations are so charitable in the first place. For one, America’s super-wealthy often receive tax write-offs for their contributions. Secondly, it gives them excessive power to control the directions of the institutions they are funding. Should wealthy individuals be able to dictate university policy for tens of thousands of people? Many would suggest that this is profoundly anti-democratic.

As we have seen, universities themselves also have deep academic and even financial connections to the state of Israel, making the students’ divestment demands particularly sensitive. This is all happening in a context where the government continues to pledge its full support to Israel and its war aims and has moved to crack down on anti-Israel speech, attempting to make it functionally illegal to openly oppose Israel’s expansionist policies. Israel has long been a political third rail in America. The thousands of students being arrested are learning that in real-time.

https://scheerpost.com/2024/05/23/follow-the-money-how-israel-linked-billionaires-silenced-us-campus-protests/

 

aussie unis....

Australian university students channelled their peers around the world with encampments protesting the Gaza genocide. Will university leaders cow to pressure from the Zionist lobby and shut down free speech? Michael Sainsbury reports.

While the extreme right wing Australian Jewish Association claims ‘Hitler youth rallies’, the Australian university protests over Israel’s war crimes in Gaza are more like student protests against the Vietnam War in the Sixties and early Seventies which led to riots and students being shot by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University in 1970, a milestone in American history and the beginning of the end of America’s direct involvement in Indochina.

Meanwhile Downunder, leadership in Australian universities is fast hardening against pro-Palestine encampments on their campuses. Thanks to powerful and sometimes hysterical lobbying. The University of Melbourne, a member of the elite Group of Eight universities, has demanded students occupying the Arts West building on its Parkville campus, pack up and leave – or they will bring in police.

Melbourne Uni’s Vice-chancellor, Duncan Maskell, issued a notice to protesters saying the demonstration had become “increasingly disruptive and unsafe”.

“Camping is not allowed on university premises. Occupation of buildings is not permitted,” he said Monday, May 20. He has also threatened them with disciplinary action.

At Brisbane’s Queensland University, two students were arrested Monday for scaling a building as the institution attempted to ban phrases like “Out Israel, out” and “intifada”.

Pushed by pro-Israel lobbies, Melbourne Uni has joined other Australian universities in trying to silence free speech and crimp freedom of assembly by removing or trying to remove encampments of pro-Palestine protesters on their campuses. In the past week, Monash, La Trobe, Deakin, Brisbane and Australian National Universities have either shut down or promised to shut down camps.

 

 

The Australian Jewish Association has hit out at the camps, saying on X that it does not condone anything illegal but “nobody should be surprised if members of the public take matters into their own hands”, comparing the protests to “Nazi encampments”. It has dubbed the peace protests “Hitler Youth Rallies.”

“In July 2023, we warned the Minister and university leadership about rising antisemitism following the release of the Jewish University Experience Survey,” the Association of Australasian Jewish Students said after a recent meeting with Federal Education Minister Jason Clare.

“Despite assurances these concerns would be addressed, Jewish students have seen no evidence of any decisive action by universities or government. As a result, Jewish students are significantly less safe than a year ago.”

Although there is yet to surface any evidence of harassment, let alone harm. The Zionist lobby was contacted for comment about the evidence for their claims but did not respond.

Indeed the progressive Jewish Council of Australia has called for a halt to action against peace protestors.

 

 

Peaceful protests

Australian campus organisers insist they have been peaceful but are bumping up against well-organised and funded pro-Israel groups lobbying university chiefs and politicians.

“Opposition to the state of Israel and to Zionism as an ideology is not antisemitism,” a statement by the Palestine solidarity encampments at the University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, Curtin University, Monash University, RMIT University, Deakin University, University of Tasmania, Latrobe University, Australian National University, and University of Wollongong said.

“Many of the student leaders of our protests are Jewish. We stand alongside Jewish people against discrimination, and we see ourselves as standing on the shoulders of a long line of Jewish pro-Palestine and anti-war activists. 

We welcome Jewish participants in the encampments.

Amnesty International Australia has backed them up, stating, “Peaceful protest is a powerful exercise of the fundamental human rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression, and of association. These rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Encampments worldwide

Starting at New York’s Columbia University in April, the camps and protests have spread to hundreds of universities worldwide: more than 140 campuses in the US, 25 in the UK, and campuses across France, Spain, Canada, Turkey, Tunisia, Mexico, Holland, Ireland, Bangladesh, India, Cuba, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Egypt, and Switzerland.

The first Australian encampment began at the University of Sydney last month, and encampments and protests have spread to more than a dozen universities across Australia, including but not limited to La Trobe, Monash, RMIT, Deakin, ANU, the University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland, Curtin, Newcastle and Wollongong.

The step up in aggression from university management in Australia comes after violent scenes on April 30 when police arrested 109 demonstrators at Columbia and 173 other demonstrators at City College in uptown Manhattan. Police cleared protesters across dozens of US campuses, with non-profit US news site The Appeal reporting there have been more than 3,000 arrests at more than 100 campuses across the US.

Students call for financial transparency and divestment of the universities’ financial links with Israeli companies, particularly those in the arms industry. They are also demanding that institutions cut ties with Israeli universities and increase resources for the rebuilding of higher education in Palestine.

”Adelaide University’s hands are drenched in the blood of every Palestinian who has been murdered with the weapons provided by companies Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Thales, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, etc,” Students for Palestine Adelaide said in a recent Facebook post.

https://michaelwest.com.au/university-student-protests-over-israel-evoke-vietnam/

 

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2012....

cruel, inhuman & degrading treatment .....

The Foreign Office revealed last night that it would be challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons.

In the first investigation of its kind, a team of nine senior legal figures examined how Palestinians as young as 12 were treated when arrested. Their shocking report Children in Military Custody details claims that youngsters are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, have their wrists bound behind their backs, and are blindfolded and made to kneel or lie face down in military vehicles.

Children from the West Bank are held in conditions that could amount to torture, such as solitary confinement, with little or no access to their parents. They can be forced to stay awake before being verbally as well as physically abused and coerced into signing confessions they cannot read.

The team - led by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal judge - heard that "every Palestinian child is treated like a potential terrorist". In a damning conclusion, the report points out repeated breaches of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

"We were sitting in court and saw a section of a preliminary hearing when a very young looking child, a boy, was brought in wearing a brown uniform with leg irons on. We were shocked by that. This was a situation where we had been invited into the military courts for briefings from senior judges," explained one of the report's authors, human rights barrister Greg Davies. "To hold children routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement would, if it occurred, be capable of amounting to torture," the report said. Last night the Foreign Office, which backed the report, said it would be taking up the claims with the Israeli authorities:

"The UK government has had long-standing concerns about the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, and as a result decided to fund this independent report. While recognising that some positive recent steps have been made by the Israeli authorities, we share many of the report's concerns, and will continue to lobby for further improvements."

While the legal team said it was in no position to prove the truth of the claims of cruelty made repeatedly by Palestinian children, but denied by the Israeli authorities - which offered unprecedented access to the delegation - it pointed to the disparity in the law.

Israeli children must have access to a lawyer within 48 hours and cannot be imprisoned under the age of 14. But Palestinian children as young as 12 are jailed and can be kept for three months without legal representation. Between 500 and 700 are jailed each year.

"The other shocking thing is they are incarcerated in breach of many conventions. The practical effect is parents can't get there because they can't get permits," said Marianna Hildyard QC.

While the investigating team welcomed improvements introduced by the Israeli authorities, both Palestinian and Israeli lawyers on the ground insisted much of it was "rhetoric ra ther than real change".

Last night, Israeli Embassy spokesperson Amir Ofek said the country appreciated the efforts of the delegation but blamed Palestinians who "glorify terrorism". He said: "As a result [children] are frequently involved in lethal acts. With the Palestinian Authority unable or unwilling to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute these offences, Israel has no choice but to do so itself.

"Israel notes the detailed recommendations in the report and will study them closely as part of its ongoing efforts to find the most appropriate balance between preventing violence and treating perpetrators with humanity."

The report details claims children are dragged from their beds, bound and blindfolded

UK Ready To Take On Israel Over Fate Of Children Clapped In Irons

 

 

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from 2012....

the scourge of mistletoe .....

While many people are led to believe that US support for Israel is driven by the American establishment and U.S. national interests, the facts don't support this theory. The reality is that for decades U.S. experts opposed Israel and its founding movement. They were simply outmaneuvered and eventually replaced.­

Like many American policies, U.S. Middle East policies are driven by a special interest lobby. However, the Israel Lobby, as it is called today in the U.S.[1], consists of vastly more than what most people envision in the word "lobby."

As this article will demonstrate, it is considerably more powerful and pervasive than other lobbies. Components of it, both individuals and groups, have worked underground, secretly and even illegally throughout its history, as documented by scholars and participants.

And even though the movement for Israel has been operating in the U.S. for over a hundred years, most Americans are completely unaware of this movement and its attendant ideology - a measure of its unique power over public knowledge.

The success of this movement to achieve its goals, partly due to the hidden nature of much of its activity, has been staggering. It has also been at almost unimaginable cost.

It has led to massive tragedy in the Middle East: a hundred-year war of violence and loss; sacred land soaked in sorrow.

What is less widely known is how profoundly damaging this movement has been to the United States itself.

As we will see in this two-part examination of the pro-Israel movement, it has targeted virtually every significant sector of American society; worked to involve Americans in tragic, unnecessary, and profoundly costly wars; dominated Congress for decades; increasingly determined which candidates could become serious contenders for the U.S. presidency; and promoted bigotry toward an entire population, religion and culture.

It has promoted policies that have exposed Americans to growing danger, and then exaggerated this danger (while disguising its cause), fueling recent actions that dismember some of our nation's most fundamental freedoms and cherished principles.

All this for a nation that today has reached a peak population of, at most, 7.4 million people; smaller than New Jersey.[2]

History of the US-Israel Relationship, Part I