Tiptoeing between lawsuits: Senior officials stay in Israel

5 October 2009 — YNET

After Ehud Barak nearly arrested in London, Minister Ya’alon cancels his trip to Britain ‘in light of legal recommendation.’ However, together with Mazuz, only two lawyers handling some 1,000 foreign lawsuits against politicians and military officers. ‘Situation intolerable,’ said a senior official in Jerusalem

Roni Sofer

Will someone try to arrest them? Three Israeli lawyers against 1,000 lawsuits from around the world that put senior officials at legal risk for Israel’s defense activities. Such is the situation facing senior Israeli officials traveling abroad recently, from government ministers all the way to IDF officers.

The most recent case involved Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who canceled a trip to London next month for a conference being held by England’s Jewish National Fund to raise funds for a house intended for lone soldiers. Ya’alon’s office reported Monday, “Minister Ya’alon has avoided visiting England in recent years in light of a legal recommendation so as not to play into the hands of propaganda against Israel, its leaders, and its officers.”

Ya’alon’s office emphasized, “In order to support this front, Israel needs internal fortitude and vigorous action on the legal and diplomatic fronts. And we are doing as such.”

Ya’alon accepted the recommendation made by the legal team subordinate to the attorney general that is made up of three lawyers alone: the attorney general himself, Menachem Mazuz, his deputy, Danny Taub, and Attorney Adi Scheiman.

This team of three is in charge of all the open cases in the world against senior Israeli officials, politicians, and defense establishment officials. The number of open cases could change at any given moment, especially following the publication of the Goldstone Report in the UN Human Rights Council that claimed that Israel committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The political echelons, from the prime minister and on down, understand that the legal team needs to urgently reinforced, but this has yet to happen in reality. Despite many discussions at the top, the necessary resources have yet to be allotted for grappling with this phenomenon that has many in Jerusalem worried.

Scandinavia is problematic

In the meantime, the lawsuits are being addressed through work papers and discussion summaries. The existing system can warn politicians, as well as current and former military and defense establishment officials about destinations in which there are legal claims or arrest warrants out against them. However, to all those involved, it is clear that Israel does not currently have a legal response to the phenomenon.

A long list of current and former ministers and officers cannot travel to many destinations in the world without first conferring with a special team appointed for assessing threats to senior officials. Among those on this dubious list are former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, MK Shaul Mofaz, MK Avi Dichter, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Minister Ben Eliezer, Ya’alon, and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.

The military officials who must take extra precautions include Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and all the senior officers below him, including the military prosecution officers who accompanied Operation Cast Lead.

As a rule, even though there is no explicit warning against doing so, most defense establishment officials are avoiding travel to problematic destinations in Europe, such as the Scandinavian countries, Britain, and Spain.

A senior official in the political establishment said to Ynet on Monday that the Israeli government is broadly prepared for dealing with the phenomenon, but agreed that the current situation following the publication of the Goldstone Report is intolerable.

Free Mohammad Othman Now! Rally outside the Israeli Embassy

MohammadOthman.jpgFree Mohammad Now!

– No to oppressive arrests!
– No to prisoners of conscience!
– No to occupation!

Location: Outside the Israeli Embassy
Time: Thursday, 08 October 2009 13:00

Israeli occupation forces detained Mohammad Othman on the 22nd of September, 2009. Mohammad was detained while trying to return to the West Bank over the border from Jordan. Mohammad has spent the summer touring Europe, and was returning from his latest trip to Norway.

Mohammad is 33 years old, and has dedicated the past ten years of his life to human rights causes, particularly the non-violent struggle against the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank.

Mohammad is from the village of Jayyous in the occupied West Bank, and the village has lost most of its privately owned land due to the Apartheid Wall. The land is now confiscated by Israeli settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law.

Mohammad has an extensive network in the international solidarity movement, and plays an important role as the youth co-ordinator for the non-violent Palestinian Stop the Wall campaign. Mohammad has dedicated his life to tell the world about the war crimes and crimes against humanity that is being conducted by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank.

The demonstration has been called by: War on Want, Action Palestine and London University Palestine Societies

‘New’ Labour on the rocks? The last of the lackeys jump ship By Solomon Hughes

3 October, 2009 — The Morning Star Online

I got a sense of the complete exhaustion of the new Labour project when Will Hutton launched a crushing attack on 12 wasted years at a fringe meeting at the party’s conference.

Hutton made his attack in the heart of the Blairite temple, in front of some of new Labour’s high priests, and they responded with a smile and a murmur and little more.

Hutton was speaking at a Policy Network fringe meeting. Policy Network is an “international progressive think tank” founded by Blair in 2000 with Peter Mandelson as president. It is the “third way” made flesh.

Roger Liddle, the first servant of the new Labour gods under the dynasty of Blair, was in the chair.

James Purnell, a junior temple official who rose to the inner sanctum as work minister, was on the panel. Both Liddle and Purnell worked in Number 10 in the first Labour government, they were there when Blair started building his temples to the corporations and launching his wars against the worshippers of other gods.

While Liddle and Purnell did their work for the pharaoh in the name of the new religion of the third way, they didn’t really believe it. The third way turned out to involve pretty much doing whatever the multinationals wanted.

By contrast, Hutton is quite genuinely committed to a third way. His politics and economics do mix together a real interest in putting public welfare above private profit with a commitment to modernising capitalism.

So, on the one hand, Hutton can offer pretty interesting insights into the destructive nature of neoliberal capitalism, but on the other you do get a lot of talk about “experiential businesses,” “flexicurity,” how we “navigate our lives” and a demand that public-sector workers accept zero-hours contracts.

Hutton told the Blairite panel: “Precisely the wrong lessons were learned in the 1992 election, as Brown and Blair retreated further from Labour values and won in 1997 essentially as beaten men. And the problems we now face stem from then.”

Responding to some murmurs from Liddle, Hutton went on: “I think the electorate voted in 1997 for a modern social democratic party, for social investment and reining in the excesses of capitalism, but you [Liddle] and Peter Mandelson were into what you called the politics of assurance.”

This meant assuring the rich and the bankers that they were safe with new Labour.

Hutton continued: “But look, for example, at the Financial Services Authority constitution, drawn up by Brown and Ed Balls in 2001.

“It is essentially drawn up by the City, and it could not question any new financial instrument, the instruments that caused the crisis. Labour bought the neoconservative story.

“The big story is not Tony becoming a neoconservative with his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is Brown joining American economic neoconservatism, giving Alan Greenspan a knighthood and the freedom of Edinburgh – it’s just beyond belief.

“And now we face being reduced to 150 MPs and out of power for decades.”

Faced with this heresy, spoken on the temple floor, Liddle did little more than grimace. Purnell went one stage further – he partly agreed.

Purnell said: “Look at Alastair Campbell’s diaries around ‘96 and Tony Blair became very keen on stakeholder capitalism and you can read them and see it would fit in with Will’s description.”

Indeed they do. Stakeholder capitalism was a moderately social democratic principle asserting that businesses should not only listen to shareholders, they should also listen to stakeholders. The government would force boards to consider the effect on jobs, the environment, welfare and the public good as well as profits.

According to Campbell’s diaries in ‘96, Blair “felt he was on to something with the stakeholder economy idea. It was a way of conveying the economy is about more than money and jobs. It was also about what sort of country we wanted to be … it was a washing line from which to hang all the parts of economic policy.”

David Miliband “was ecstatic” about Blair’s laundry. But it was Brown who stepped in and tore all the ideas off their clothes pegs.

Campbell writes: “It was pretty clear that GB did not believe in the basic stakeholder economy message at all.”

Blair may have felt he was “on to something,” but he wasn’t on it very hard. Brown argued against any demands being placed on capital, so Blair gave up his vague ideas and happily waited for his crown and sceptre instead.

And now, 12 years on, Blair’s priesthood cannot even be bothered to make a defence when their religion is insulted in public.

They seem happy to sit back and watch their pyramids crumble, the nose fall off their sphinx and the new rulers sweep down.

– While Liddle and Purnell gave up on the fringe, there was an alternative strategy on the conference floor. Peter Mandelson demanded there be more real engineering and less financial engineering.

Gordon Brown assaulted the immorality of the bankers. Which means that the other Gordon Browns and Peter Mandelsons, the ones who rejoiced in “lighter than air” industries, light-touch regulation and intense relaxation about the filthy rich becoming richer and filthier, were just imitators.

Or were they the real Mandelsons and Browns? Will the real Peter Mandelson please stand up?

The Labour leadership’s growls against the market and the bankers fail to convince because they spent so long purring in the laps of the corporate elite.

They might rally a few votes, but they are limited by the fact that Labour has done the opposite in power for over a decade.

They do at least show that there is a political space to make these arguments, a task the left should take up if we are not too busy splitting and sabotaging our own initiatives, or launching successful electoral initiatives that promptly self-destruct.

Wikileaks: Investigative journalists, pressure groups top new threats to national security


“2389 classified pages on how the UK stop leaks”

This significant, previously unpublished document (classified “RESTRICTED”, 2389 pages), is the UK military protocol for all security and counter-intelligence operations.

The document includes instructions on dealing with leaks, investigative journalists, Parliamentarians, foreign agents, terrorists & criminals, sexual entrapments in Russia and China, diplomatic pouches, allies, classified documents & codewords, compromising radio and audio emissions, computer hackers—and many other related issues.

The document, known in the services as the “JSP 440” (“Joint Services Protocol 440”), was referenced by the RAF Digby investigation team as the protocol justification for the monitoring of Wikileaks, as mentioned in “UK Ministry of Defence continually monitors WikiLeaks: eight reports into classified UK leaks, 29 Sep 2009“.

The full document is large (46Mb, 2389 pages). A smaller (3.6Mb) text-only version can be found here.

Example excerpts (bolding by WikiLeaks, “D Def Sy” means Directorate of Defence Security, see also UK military targets domestic opinion leaders):

“Non-traditional threats

The main threats of this type are posed by investigative journalists, pressure groups, investigation agencies, criminal elements, disaffected staff, dishonest staff and computer hackers. The types of threat from these sources can be categorized in six broad groups: a. Confidentiality. Compromise of politically sensitive information. This threat is presented by: (1) Pressure groups and investigative journalists attempting to obtain sensitive information. (2) Unauthorized disclosure of official information (leaks)…”

Investigative journalists have exploited personal tax information; they also target commercial and financial information as do criminal elements seeking financial advantage. “


Continue reading