Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


NYPD helped Mort Zuckerman–8 years later, his paper shills for NYPD spying

Apr 11, 2012

Alex Kane

(Photo: Business Insider)

Mortimer Zuckerman, the media mogul who owns theNew York Daily News, is so well-connected that he once had New York Police Department (NYPD) intelligence agents conduct “counter-surveillance” of people who were following him (see Phil Weiss’ post for more).

Considering the Daily News’ non-stop praise for whatever the NYPD does, it’s worth asking this question: does the Daily News’ love for the NYPD have something to do with the preferential treatment showered on Zuckerman?

Leonard Levitt, the independent journalist who broke the story, writes:

Ever wonder why the Daily News runs all those editorials deifying the NYPD, even as the department arrested the paper’s own reporters during the Occupy Wall Street protests?

Or why these editorials praise the NYPD’s fight against terrorism in such slavish terms that not even the News’s own readers believe them? [See NYPD Confidential, Dec. 19, 2011.]


The answer may lie in documents (pdf here) provided to NYPD Confidential that show the lengths the NYPD has gone to cultivate and indulge powerful media figures such as the Daily News’s owner and Fox News’s president.

But even without the NYPD’s personal favors to Zuckerman (which is itself outrageous), the Daily Newswould probably still sing the praises of the NYPD’s constitutionally suspect practice of spying on Muslims. The praise for the spying aimed at Muslims (and left-wing activists) dovetail with Zuckerman’s neoconservative views on the Middle East and national security.

In light of Levitt’s report showing that the NYPD conducted “counter-surveillance” for Zuckerman, it’s a good time to examine the Daily News’ “slavish” (in Levitt’s words) praise for the NYPD’s spying on Muslims–and where they’re wrong.

Zuckerman’s paper has lauded Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for pronouncing the “NYPD not guilty of spying on Muslims”; described the intelligence division’s efforts assimply “checking out facts that are in the public record”; and mocked the Associated Press investigation into the NYPD tactics as “hilarious” instead of disturbing.

The distortions of what the NYPD spy program is go on and on.

In those editorials, the Daily News repeatedly characterizes the NYPD’s surveillance targeting day to day aspects of Muslim life in the city as innocuous. And the paper lambastes anyone who characterizes such efforts as “spying.”

NYPD intelligence agents simply, in the News’ world, collect public information to keep tabs on potential terrorists. But we know that’s not the full story.

It’s absurd to see the paper mock those who call the NYPD intelligence unit activities what they are: spying. What else do you call it when intelligence agents infiltrate mosques and record the content of sermons to be kept in a secret dossier?

Some of the information the NYPD collected was indeed public, as the Daily News notes, but the retaining of that information is legally suspect under the guidelines the NYPD operate under.

Additionally, as Glenn Greenwald noted, “much of the information was not at all ‘public’ but was compiled through infiltration and spying.” An undercover agent joining a Muslim student group’s trip to go rafting, and recording their activities in a secret dossier to be kept on file, is not simply collecting public information. Similarly, NYPD officers “eavesdropping” on conversations in mosques cannot be categorized as collecting public information. It’s about destroying “the private lives of Muslim citizens,” as Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi told the AP.

Zuckerman’s chummy relationship with the NYPD should cast doubt on the accuracy of Daily News editorializing about spying on Muslims. At the very least, people should know that Zuckerman has a personal interest in pleasing the NYPD.

Amira Hass explains why Israel’s U.S. model of ethnic cleansing failed, and why ‘Jewish regime’ will ‘crumble’

Apr 11, 2012

Philip Weiss

It is very common these days to hear supporters of Israel seek to justify ethnic cleansing by saying that You did it– you Americans. Amira Hass has a fabulous piece up at Haaretz that takes on this model head on. She exposes the Israeli desire to defeat the Palestinian people, as the U.S. defeated the Native Americans, and then only have to deal with the “remnant” (a reference to Eastern European Jewry after the Holocaust). And she explains why this is not possible, and why we are now in the endgame of “the Jewish regime” because Israel did not want a two-state solution.

Read this amazing true line: “The question was, and is, how much more bloodshed, suffering and disasters will be needed until the Jewish regime of discrimination and separation, which we have created here over the past 64 years, crumbles.” This is a frankly anti-Zionist piece, written by a child of Holocaust survivors. Amira Hass is thirsting for the DeKlerk to lead her society out of its racist dead-end. I cannot imagine it being published in the New York Times. A sad reflection on our discourse.

But happily, and to our relief, the Palestinians are one people (unlike the hundreds that were in America ) and the process of Jewish settlement did not wipe them out. We are in a different age and a different region. Thinking big makes us forget that, unlike the model we admire and seek to emulate, we are a minority in the region. And the region is evolving and demanding a change in the rules of the game that have been so convenient for the United States and Israel.

The real question is not whether the solution is “two states” or “one state.” History in any case does not recognize end points – every stage leads to another. Visions are also not lacking. The visions must develop and change during the struggle for equality and justice, otherwise they will become gulags. The question was, and is, how much more bloodshed, suffering and disasters will be needed until the Jewish regime of discrimination and separation, which we have created here over the past 64 years, crumbles.

The Palestinians provided us, the Israelis, a ladder that would have saved us the kind of suffering and loss that we have caused them. A ladder that we could have climbed to a historic rung where we could have been accepted in the region as neighbors who also have roots in this place and rights – not only as aggressive invaders. But successive Israeli governments, with the backing of their voters, have knocked the ladder over. They knew only too well why they must thwart the two-state solution (in its original, pre-1967 borders format ). It would have led to different ways of living together and sharing the land. But the basic logic of these ways of life requires giving up Jewish hegemony and superiority.

Refuser Diaries: Noam Gur and Alon Gurman

Apr 11, 2012

Noam Gur and Alon Gurman

Noam Gur and Alon Gurman are keeping a diary of the week leading up to their refusal to serve in the Israeli military and their likely imprisonment. Here is the first installment:

Monday, 9th April, 2012

Alon Gurman (Photo: Activestills)

The final countdown has begun. A week left and it’s the first time that I feel the pressure. Suddenly I feel as if there’s no time, and yet everything goes on as usual. Well, more or less anyway. My mom and I decided to go on a tour to South Mt. Hebron with an NGO called “Shovrim Shtika” (Breaking The Silence). It is guided tour with an ex-soldier in the Israeli military, through and area that often escapes the media and public eye. The tour has a strong effect on people, and once we are done, my mother seems wound up and ready to go on a demonstration against the occupation, despite the fear of military violence. In order to relax in preparation for my imprisonment, I try to spend a lot of time with friends, just relaxing. Today I did not get this chance, as I rush to an interview straight from the drop-off point of the tour. It was my first time on camera, and it didn’t feel too good. Any media coverage makes me feel exposed, and it is discomforting.  – Alon

Tuesday, 10th April, 2012

Today’s the day. I’ve been building up to this day. Today is the day when I am supposed to face the mighty challenge of – preparing my bag for imprisonment. Needless to say I didn’t really get to it. I look for something to do when eventually Noam arrives to Tel-Aviv early for her interview, and I pick her up and we spend some time talking. It helps a lot that we have each other to talk to. Many people have shared experience and support, but nothing compares to talking to someone who’s going through the same process as you are. After lunch we meet up again with a few friends to work on some posters for the demonstration we’ll have on our imprisonment. We are mostly quiet for most of the time, and burst out laughing every now and again from one thing or the other. It’s weird, because suddenly I realized how temporary it all is. I leave early for Arabic class. I had missed a few lessons and inform the group of my refusal for the first time. They are all very supportive. I rush to a staff meeting of a youth summer camp project. I feel preoccupied and later realize that I can’t bear the thought of doing anything that has nothing to do with either the occupation, resisting it, imprisonment, or relaxing in preparation. – Alon

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Noam Gur (Photo: Activestills)

5 days. That’s what separates me from entering a closed compound, a military compound to be exact, that will be denying me from my freedom. We are rushing through the preparation – both on the personal and public aspect – and it seems like I’m done with the Bureaucracy and all the “materialistic” prep. Now, when I’m done with that, we have to talk, or think, about the personal aspect of refusing, the emotional part. It’s feels like that’s the time I supposed to be freaking out, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. All the support we got is amazing, and makes us remember how important our statement is to some people out there. Suddenly cameras are not so scary as they used to be, and angry reporters are becoming the joke of our day. And “JAIL” this huge word, this terrifying word and place, is so much less scary. –Noam

Orlando Fox affiliate calls neo-Nazis a ‘civil rights group’

Apr 11, 2012

Allison Deger


On Monday, during their coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, a local Fox news station reported “there’s another civil rights group in town, the National Socialist Movement.” Though it should be obvious by group’s name: the National Socialist Movement, somehow local Fox 35 made the error that this racist white supremacy crew was a “white rights organization” or a “civil rights group.” Fox’s Jennifer Bisram who contributed to the report also added: “at least ten Florida-based members armed and dressed in all black will patrol the city of Sanford every day, everywhere.”

The piece runs a little over two minutes, and even includes an interview with Jeff Schoep, a member of the racist Aryan organization, who said “blacks have Al Sharpton and the whites have the National Socialist Movement.” Schoep’s remarks did not raise any red flags from the Fox team, who gave him a platform to explain that “the white community…out of concern for their safety,” brought in his group.

After noticing their mistake, yesterday Fox posted anupdate from their editors: “We intended to refer to them as a ‘self-proclaimed’ civil rights group.
Marc Ellis speaks out

Apr 11, 2012

Adam Horowitz


Marc Ellis has broken his silence on the disciplinary proceedings he faces at Baylor University.  For more on his case see this.

Sheizaf shreds Oren Op-Ed touting Israeli democracy

Apr 11, 2012

Annie Robbins

Noam Sheizaf (photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

Michael Oren is a master hasbarist. Albeit, nowhere as proficient nor eloquent as the first Mr. Hasbara, Abba Eban, but a master none the less. He’s creepy, slick and peddles himself off as a scholar.

When I first read Oren’s recent Op-Ed on Foreign Policy’s blog, it made me cringe, literally. For starters I was appalled that a site I respect and use as a frequent resource would stoop so low as to function as a blatant propaganda outfit for the Foreign Ministry of Israel (but that’s another matter altogether). Merely the title itself, “Israel’s Resilient Democracy,” made me want to gag. It starts out with this allegation:

The Jewish state, moreover, belongs to a tiny group of countries –…– never to have suffered intervals of non-democratic governance.

And then it just gets worse with every sentence.

972’s Noam Sheizaf takes him on, chews him up and spits him out. Heaven! Sheizaf says he will go “in depth”, and he does. In “Omissions, half-truths, lies: Ambassador Oren in Foreign Policy” Sheizaf completely eviscerates Oren over and over and over.

Here’s one example:

Ambassador Oren writes:

In fact, Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmed Tibi, who once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian “martyrs” — a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers — serves as a member and deputy speaker of the Knesset.

Context: Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (Raam-Taal / United Arab List) was recently accused by a rightwing watchdog group of giving a speech more than a year ago in which he praised suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. When the full video of the speech was released, it turned out that Tibi was referring to Palestinians who were killed in protests and to civilians who lost their lives. The version released by the watchdog group was heavily edited to create a false impression.

As a result, journalist Ben-Dror Yemini of Maariv and The Jerusalem Post, a well-known critic of the Arab Knesset members and one of those who broke the shahid (martyr) story, retracted his accusation both on his blog and in the printed paper. Yemini even went on Israeli public radio, saying: “I admit I was wrong. We owe an apology to [MK] Tibi.” The leading Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth also published an apology for running this story in its printed edition.

Not only did MK Tibi never praise suicide bombing, he is extremely consistent in denouncing the killing of Israeli civilians. Tibi is also a passionate critic of Holocaust denial in the Arab world, and can often be heard saying that “there is nothing more immoral than Holocaust denial.” There are two options here: Either Prof. Oren knowingly repeated a blood libel against the deputy speaker of his own Knesset, or he failed to fact check the issue before repeating those accusations. Both cases say something of the nature of Prof. Oren’s work, and demonstrate how easy it is to demonize Palestinians in Israel today.

Sheizaf neither begins or ends there, he goes after Oren for perpetuating the myth of  Israeli Arab parties calling for the “dismantling the Jewish state” when in fact they repeatedly call for a “state for all its citizens.” He rips Oren over the British Mandate’s emergency regulations and administrative detention, the NGO fiasco, the boycott law, the Nakba Law, the erosion of democratic rights of Israeli citizens, and then skewers him over his condescending critique of Peter Beinart’s assertion that Israel bars Palestinians from citizenship and the right to vote in the state that controls their lives.

Sheirzaf asserts the heart of Oren’s text “intends to portray Israel as a tiny America, a bastion of civil rights in a hostile and strange environment,” and counters:

Let’s imagine those citizens surrounded by walls and fences and a system of dozens of roadblocks, some of them permanent with many appearing and disappearing every day, between the various suburbs and towns, so a route that could take 10 minute to drive regularly turns into a journey of hours. Let’s imagine them unable to relocate or travel abroad without a special permit, notoriously hard to obtain, from the military authorities.

And on top of this, they can’t vote.

And now let’s imagine this unique situation applied to a third of the population under the United State’s control – say 100 million – for two-thirds of the country’s history, meaning over 150 years. This would be the proper analogy, if we were to follow Ambassador Oren’s logic. It doesn’t sound very democratic.

Not very democratic indeed.

Sheizaf slays him at the end, it’s so much fun to read. Thank you Noam, fabulous.

A humble shepherd is run off his grandfather’s grandfather’s land because of settlers’ ‘security’

Apr 11, 2012

Philip Weiss


Peter Beinart was motivated to cry out to Americans about the occupation when he saw a shocking video of a Palestinian being arrested at his farm near Hebron for insisting on his rights to village water.

Well it’s two years after that video. And here is another, from last month, shocking in its bald exposure of the humiliations of Palestinians, inflicted by Jewish soldiers acting in my name and Beinart’s name.

A shepherd with a crooked staff insists on his right to graze his sheep on village lands near the settlement of Otniel. He is accompanied by Israeli and international activists, god bless them. The soldiers run him off.

You will see the shepherd getting angry, as he should get angry, at about minute 3. The man has nobility. (He is facing the same blank authority that Jews faced in the Pale of Settlement)

You will see the officer explaining that the settlers fear terrorists at minute 7:30 or so. And this is why the shepherd must not come too close. On his village lands.

This is ethnic cleansing before your eyes. It is the reason that so many despair of Partition, it hasn’t worked. There is one authority between the river and the sea, and the battle is to give the subject people their rights.

From Ron, the Brit in the video, writing to his community back home:

“Last Saturday (March 10th) I was in the South Hebron hills again with
Ta’ayush (the Jewish/Arab Partnership). A large group of activists
went to the village of At-Tuwani but I was assigned to a group of four
which was sent to the tiny community of Um-el-Amad. Our task was to
accompany local Palestinian shepherds as they took their flocks to
graze on privately-owned Palestinian land.

Our presence there was asked for because earlier in the week two
shepherds had been kidnapped by the Israeli military, taken to the
nearby settlement of Ot’niel and beaten up. Their ‘crime’ ? – they
were too close to the settlement, even though they were on their own

The video was filmed by Ta’ayush activists.

Just by way of explanation, the Israeli soldiers appeared a short time
after we arrived at the grazing areas, alerted by the settlement
security officer. The senior soldier was very aggressive and when the
shepherd refused to leave his land he told us we were detained. He was
obviously eager to arrest us, but only the police can arrest Israeli
citizens and internationals.

He then phoned the Israeli police who arrived 15 minutes later. The
senior police officer was much more reasonable, aware no doubt that we
were on privately-owned Palestinian land and there quite legally. (I
guess that he thought the idea of arresting us would mean lots of
paperwork for no real reason.) At one point he took the aggressive
soldier to one side ,arm round his shoulder. Shortly afterwards the
soldiers left , disconsolately, only to be replaced a few minutes
later by two more, one of whom was a more senior officer.

The officer asked us to move 100 metres away from the settlement
perimeter, explaining that his soldiers couldn’t see us from the
watchtower ! As we were on Palestinian land and no security threat, we
refused. He then left the scene as did the police. Our unjustified
detention was over.

It  was a small victory but without the presence of Ta’ayush, I
suspect the shepherds would have been expelled from their own land.”

‘What do you want from a 5 year old girl? She threatens your state?’: Israel raids a house in Nabi Saleh

Apr 11, 2012

Today in Palestine


Palestinian woman confronts Israeli thugs that entered her home in the middle of the night to interrogate her family wanted to wake up her 5 year old daughter. Palestinian woman wins. Bittersweet.

Choice quotes:

“I dont fear you, you’re in my house and you tell me to shut up, you shut up! You leave my house!”

“What do you want from a 5 year old girl? She threatens your state?  She threatens its security? Are you happy with your state?”

From the YouTube page (translation Austin Branion):

“Occupation forces stormed the village of Nabi Saleh after midnight, raiding and ransacking the house of photographer Bilal al-Tamimi. They withdrew after the outbreak of clashes with village youth and the pelting of IOF vehicles with stones.”

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