Rassismus


DON’T THEY KNOW IT’S BOLLOCKS

(To the tune of ‘Don’t They Know It’s Christmas’)

It’s Christmas time – just don’t turn on your TV.
At Christmas time, the shite they show’s no good for you or me.

If you just avoid the telly you can spread a smile of joy,
That’s how you keep your supper down at Christmas time.

But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
Stuck home watching Geldof and just yearning for a gun.

There are rich folks on the telly
wanting you to know they care,

come to beg you for your money,
so they can hold on to theirs.

And the Christmas songs they sing there are pure bourgeois wankery

So tonight thank god you’ve got a DVD.

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
(because most places there it’s summer, you gobshite)

Where nothing ever grows,
(‘cept the cash crops we all know).

Did you lot even research this at all?

Here’s to you
By now you must want a drink.

Every yuletide they’re here to pimp the poor,
in Africa – the poverty here they ignore.

Here’s to them,
With their exiled bank accounts.

Every year it’s the same old act –
Why don’t these bastards just pay their tax?

Don’t they know it’s bollocks, after all?

Jon "Yani" Haigh: Jews Suck, USAID Doesn't

Jon “Yani” Haigh: Jews Suck, USAID Doesn’t

In the last two parts of this series, published in this past fall, we met Jon “Yani” Haigh, who injected himself into the Greta Berlin debacle by signing an open letter along with multiple virulent racists and several sockpuppet accounts, that claimed that there was nothing racist going on in the racist troll groups where Greta Berlin found the holocaust denial video that she posted on the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) Twitter account.

Haigh, who lives in Brisbane, Queensland, works with a politically connected Republican lawyer by the name of Kamal Nawash. As discussed in greater detail in the first two parts of the series, Nawash, following a failed run for the Virginia State Assembly, decided to found a group called Free Muslims Coalition Against Terror, an astroturf operation that serves to root out “extremist Muslims” and generally provides an Arab/Muslim fig leaf for repressive US government policies.

These are, to be sure, strange bedfellows for anyone who, like Haigh, claims to be a Palestinian solidarity activist. As we will see in the following, however, they are not the only ones.

In the course of my research for this series, I was made aware that Haigh, with Kamal Nawash and one Rafi Gassel, had cowritten a roughly US$1 million USAID grant application for a project called “The Path to a Shared Future”. The project, we discover in the Background section, builds on a previous effort known as “Best Plans”.

Best Plans: US Government-Affiliated Normalisation

“Best Plans” is a “glimmer of hope in a sea of hate“, according to a Jerusalem Post article by fellow “Free Muslims” board member Ray Hanania, which also describes an effort called the “Israel-Palestine Confederation”, headed up by Nawash associate Josef Avesar.

Held at the University Centre of Samaria, an institution located in the illegal settlement of Ariel, the group brought together a group of mostly right-wing Israeli Jewish students with a “smattering” of Palestinian citizens of Israel and “some two dozen” Palestinians from the West Bank for open-ended brainstorming on “peace plans”, ranging from Israeli Jewish participants’ plans to culturally assimilate Palestinians into the colonial society of Israel or to extend apartheid from the river to the sea, with citizenship “after an unspecified period of time” for Palestinians who profess loyalty to a state that is explicitly not theirs, to Kamal Nawash’s plan for an “Israeli-Palestinian Confederation”.

It seems to have been a good strategic choice to hold the Best Plans conference in the segregated colony of Ariel, where Palestinians are banned from entering without special dispensation from the authorities, rather than occupied East Jerusalem, where Avesar decided to hold his “Israeli-Palestinian Confederation” mock elections. Avesar’s conference had to find new accommodations after Palestinian anti-apartheid activists became aware of it.

Protesters gathered outside the hotel to condemn the process of normalization of the occupation promoted by the conference, amidst the collapse of the peace process, continuing settlement construction and the confiscation of Palestinian land.

Conference events taking place in Beit Jalah and Haifa over the next few days have promoted a false illusion of Palestine already being liberated and contributed to the normalization of the Israeli occupation. One demonstrator commented that “how would such a confederation even be possible under the occupation?”

The management of the Ambassador Hotel announced their decision to cancel the conference events in a printed statement posted at the hotel’s entrance. A hotel manager stated that “we have been manipulated by the conference organizers, who did not reveal to us its real purposes. We refuse to take part in their attempts to veil the reality of Palestinian suffering.”

The criticisms raised by the Palestinian activists concerning the Avesar event apply in equal measure to the Nawash “Best Plans” conference: Both violate the Palestinian call to boycott “normalisation” events, i.e., events that bring Israeli Jews and Palestinians together to “sort out differences” without acknowledging the real context of inequality and oppression. Under the anti-normalisation prong of the Palestinian-led Boycott/Divestiture/Sanctions campaign, collaborative activities between Israeli Jews and Palestinians must explicitly state their opposition and resistance to the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population.

One can imagine how well that plan would have gone over with the right-wing Israeli Jewish participants of the Nawash conference.

Towards a Normalised Future

 

Haigh acknowledges cowriting USAID application

Haigh acknowledges cowriting USAID application

The programme discussed in the USAID application turns out to be an expansion on the “Best Plans” normalisation conferences. In the words of the application:

This proposal involves the selection of two teams of Palestinians and Israelis who are representative of the various ideologies, views and schools of thought that are found in Palestinian and Israeli societies. The two teams, made up of approximately six individuals each, will be required to attend organized workshops and seminars throughout Palestine and Israel to engage Israelis and Palestinians who are representative of the general populations about the minimum contacts, rights and access that they would require to accept a political solution. The seminars will not presume a particular solution such as two-state or one-state solution. The actual proposed solution or solutions will be attempted at the end of the process after the Israeli and Palestinian teams become exposed to the wishes of population and share their findings in the structured reporting process.

This is the definition of astroturfing. Some unspecified persons – one assumes it will be Nawash and his “Free Muslims” mob – will select two teams of Palestinians and Israelis (Jewish Israelis, one assumes) who they deem “representative” of the spectrum of thought found in Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish society. Those teams will carry out what amount to glorified focus groups throughout Israel and the territories occupied since 1967 to engage Israeli Jews and Palestinians who are “representative” about their bare minimum requirements for a political solution. After the focus groups, the two teams will develop the “actual proposed solution” based on their understanding of the wishes of the “representative” people who came to their focus groups.

In addition to being “representative” in the opinion of the “Free Muslims”, these team members must also be “articulate speakers and writers with academic credentials who are able to report without adding, subtracting or reframing discussion content.” In other words, they must come from the more privileged sectors of the society, particularly given the severely limited access to education (especially higher education) for Palestinians.

No information is provided on how the “representative” focus group participants will be selected, or by whom. Crucially, there is no provision for participation by the communities themselves in defining the conditions and manner of their participation, nor any indication that the communities themselves would have any say in deciding who is “representative” and who is not. Every bit of the process is top-down, with the US government-linked “Free Muslims” deciding who participates, whom to listen to, and how to describe the wishes of their hand-picked participants.

“Importantly”, the proposal adds, “the teams will be ‘locked down’ together in a conducive environment (like the Dead Sea Resort) for a period of no less than 5 days before any conferences for a series of workshops on using technology, deal [sic] with objections, managing public discourse and workshop the conference process and the content.” “Dealing with objections” is sales-speak for wheedling a customer into saying yes to something they don’t actually want to buy. “Managing public discourse” once again emphasises that it is the “Free Muslims” team members who are managing the process, not the local communities. Their “discourse” must be managed, rather than simply being listened to.

After the initial conferences are complete, the two teams will be required to submit individual or joint proposals for peaceful solutions based on the feedback that was learned from the conferences.

Each team will be asked to try to reach an agreement on a proposed solution for the Palestinian Israel conflict. However, individual group members may submit their own proposal if they do not agree with a proposal by one or more group members.

(…)

The teams will then be required to submit their various proposals to representative audiences in Israel and Palestine. The proposal envisions six additional conferences with three in Israel and three in Palestine to test the proposals on representative audiences. The audiences will be encouraged to give their feedback on the respective proposals. Following the conferences and the feedback from the audiences, the teams will be required to reevaluate their proposals and determine whether the proposals may require amendments or improvements.

In other words, after the handpicked teams work out amongst themselves what proposals they can agree on based on what they were able to glean from the “managed discourse” of the “representative” community members who participated in the focus groups, the teams then go before more “representative audiences” (it is unclear whether these are the same “representative” audiences as the initial focus groups). These “representative” audiences will then provide “feedback”, which will be reevaluated in order to determine whether the teams’ proposals will require amendments.

Just to hammer home the importance of being “representative”, the working language will not be the native languages of the communities in question:

The experience gained in The Best Plans Project indicate that people are capable of using English as the working language with translations to Hebrew and Arabic.

James Linden Rose, listed as one of the team members, explains his "best plan" for the Palestinian solidarity movement.

James Linden Rose, listed as one of the team members, explains his “best plan” for the Palestinian solidarity movement.

 

So, in addition to whatever criteria the “Free Muslims” will use to determine whether a focus group participant is “representative”, the “representatives” must also have at least a working knowledge of English – which is the native language of many Jewish Israelis (including the current PM), but much less accessible to Palestinians with their limited educational opportunities – thus further restricting the field. It is not entirely clear whether “translations” means that there will be interpreters present (yet another layer of mediation between the communities and “their” plans), or whether only the written documents produced by the teams will be translated.

One can be excused for thinking at this point that this is remarkably similar to the US occupation régime’s plan for “caucuses” as a substitute for actual elections in Iraq. However, that plan may actually have involved fewer levels of mediation by “representatives” selected by outsiders.

But wait, there’s more…

After the proposals are tested before representative audiences, the two teams will then meet for face to face peace negotiations to write a peace agreement. If no united peace agreement is reached by consensus, then the two groups will be required to attempt to reach a proposal by majority vote, where as the preferred method is consensus.

If an agreement is reached the solution will be distributed to the populations via newspaper advertisements, electronic media and other written and multimedia dissemination processes. The website will be updated and adapted to allow people to read the final proposal, comment on it and cast a vote for or against the proposal.

So, after “representative” team members selected by outsiders conduct focus groups with “representatives” selected by outsiders and decide amongst themselves what they think the handpicked focus group participants want, and then focus group that proposal with even more “representatives” selected by outsiders, the two initial groups of “representatives” selected by outsiders will come together to decide on a “united peace agreement” amongst themselves. If, and only if, the “representatives” are able to reach a consensus will the public as a whole be let in on the proposals, and given an unmediated opportunity to comment on them and vote for or against them.

Essentially, then, the idea is to do a community theatre production of the bogus “peace process” with limited public participation only at the fag end of the process.

The authors of this application – Nawash, Haigh, and Gassel – are not unaware of the Palestinian movement against “normalisation” with the apartheid system, discussed above. Indeed, they expressly acknowledge its existence, and state that “The two teams must work independently (…) to avoid the anti-normalization concerns in which Palestinians are discouraged from working closely with Israelis.” Which is to say that, rather than honour the anti-normalisation campaign, they seek to circumvent it by claiming that Israeli Jews and Palestinians working on this normalisation project are not really normalising because they aren’t working on the same project in the same place at the same time.

However, it would be unfair to say that the Towards a Shared Future project doesn’t include any innovative elements. It does, chief amongst them the element of surreptitious electronic surveillance. The USAID application includes funding for the purchase of fifteen pairs of “ZionEyez” (now Zeyez) sunglasses “built-in HD camera, microphone, recording media and interface live to mobile phones”.

“These glasses”, it is noted in a footnote, “are high quality and very difficult to pick as being other than normal Raybans. They provide an ability to record events without creating a sense of ‘cameras are watching me everywhere’.”

The USAID: An Odd Partner for Social Justice Activists

Perhaps more significant than the content of the application itself is the source of the funding sought: the US Agency for International Development.

Whilst it presents itself publicly as a humanitarian aid agency helping benighted populations out of poverty, in reality, the agency is an instrument of US foreign policy, often working in tandem with another, better known, Agency. Recently, the Venezuelan-led ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América – Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America) states voted to expel USAID from their territory, following the “parliamentary coup” that ousted centre-left Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, replacing him with a politician more willing to make deals with foreign mining corporations.

This is just the most recent in a long series of coups supported in one way or another by USAID activities. In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID provided torture training and equipment to Uruguayan “security” forces, as was revealed when USAID torture instructor Dan Mitrione was captured by the Tupamaro guerrilla organisation. Similarly, USAID provided support for the military dictatorship in Brazil, the murderous “Baby Doc” Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, and, more recently, was implicated in US-instigated 2002 coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez according to the documents unearthed by lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger. USAID’s role in the current murderous coup/occupation regime in Haiti is also a matter of record.

When first confronted with the USAID connection, Yani Haigh defended the agency, stating that it is merely an agency that “distributes money based on criteria”.

This is undeniably true:

Where there is a subservient dictatorship, USAID helps prop it up. Where there is a disobedient government, USAID works with other CIA associates like the “National Endowment for Democracy” and the “International Republican Institute” to “enhance civil society”, i.e., to finance and provide propaganda for right-wing groups willing to overthrow the miscreants.

In short, USAID is about as likely an instrument of justice for the Palestinians as, well, the “Free Muslims against Terror”.

The USAID application includes a somewhat detailed bio/CV of Jon “Yani” Haigh, revealing that the “Free Muslims” and the USAID application discussed above are by far not the end of the story. Haigh’s other dubious connections will be discussed in the next instalment.

 


In a comment below, Haigh writes:

Anyone on that list will tell you that I never buckle to Zionists, sexists, homophobes, abuse or liars.

Fortunately, Haigh has a track record on this subject, which allows us to see exactly how strong a stance he takes against sexist abuse, in particular:

Yani Haigh: Sylvia Posadas and I are "fat ugly bitches"

Yani Haigh: Sylvia Posadas and I are “fat ugly bitches”

Haigh: "They need to have their wombs out."

Haigh: “They need to have their wombs out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haigh's literal witch hunt.

Haigh’s literal witch hunt.

 

 

Part II of the Series:

A Who’s Who of the “Free Muslims Board

In Part I of this series, we examined the activities of Jon “Yani” Haigh, a longtime Queensland resident who operates and monitors a network of racist troll groups on Facebook, and Kamal Nawash (for whom Haigh provides a range of web design and programming services) of the “Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror” , a group that advocates the political repression and surveillance of the US Arab and Muslim communities (related to the Facebook group “Free Muslims”). This, the second part of the series, examines some of the other shady characters who make up the “Free” Muslims Coalition.

 

The board of the Free Muslims are exactly what you’d expect of a group with the stated purpose of putting a Muslim face on the plethora of repressive measures, human rights violations, and outright war crimes that make up the “war on terror”.

Particularly fitting is the presence on the Board of Ray Hanania, who began his career as a journo in Chicago, covering local and regional politics for the Sun-Times and other print, radio, and TV outlets. During this period, he also hosted call-in radio chatshows on WLS, and appeared regularly on Dick Kay’s City Desk on WMAQ-TV. In 1990, he served as a panellist at the Chicago mayoral debate, which resulted in yet another electoral victory for the Daley clan. Two years later, he delved headfirst into the world of Chicago machine politics, founding the Urban Strategies Group, a full-service PR agency whose clients include Mayor-For-Life Daley himself, various city agencies, aldermen, Democratic committeemen, and “three successful candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives”.

Hanania boasts particular expertise in “crisis management” for “those with serious public relation [sic] challenges”. One imagines that such expertise was quite useful during his stint providing “basic media training” to the propaganda agency of Israel’s “Palestinian Authority”. Nor could it have hurt when he was called upon by the U.S. State Department and U.S. “Information” Agency to “provide media training sessions, meetings and presentations…to foreign media and government officials.” (more…)

Part I of a Series on Racism and Infiltration

In the aftermath of the racist tweet and multiple, contradictory “explanations” by Greta Berlin, much attention has been focussed on the letter published as an appendix to Larry Derfner’s second article on the subject, in which a number of purported members of the “secret group” corroborate Berlin’s claim that nothing untoward or anti-Semitic was going on in the group in question. Benjamin Doherty revealed, in successive articles on Electronic Intifada, that a number of the signatories were in fact sockpuppets controlled by one Ofer Engel. Another central figure, however, has largely avoided the spotlight.

Before we proceed, however, it is important to keep in mind that the following is not about any one individual, though a number of individuals will be given their time to shine. No, this is about the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole: What we are and seek to do as a movement, and those who would hijack us for their own purposes.

Yani Haigh and The Trollpen

Jon "Yani" Haigh: Not One for Subtlety

Jon “Yani” Haigh: Not One for Subtlety

The final signatory on the “nothing to see here” letter is a Queensland web designer and photographer by the name of Jon “Yani” Haigh. He is, in Facebook terminology, the “owner” of the “secret group” Any Topic NOT Israel (and a regular in a number of related groups), and operates a number of anonymous and aesthetically nondescript websites, including thebestplans.org and peacearchitects.org.

This article, the first in a series dealing with the activities and associates of Jon “Yani” Haigh, will seek to provide a brief introduction to Haigh himself, and his close associate Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. In future articles, we will look at other figures on the “Free Muslims” Board, including the inimitable Ray Hanania, and other organisations and agencies with which Haigh and his associates collaborate.

Jon "Yani" Haigh: Jews suck

Jon “Yani” Haigh: Jews suck

A recurring theme in his posts is that “Jews suck”, and can only redeem themselves by being baptised Christian, and by boycotting Jewish community institutions and events (along the lines of Herskowitz’ schul picket). Alternatively, repentant Jews may simply send money to peacearchitects.org. Conflict, unsurprisingly, follows Haigh like the CIA follows Julian Assange.

The same can be said of other regulars of the “secret group” and affiliated groups, such as fellow signatory Kyle O’Laughlin, who divides his time in Any Topic NOT Israel fairly evenly between complaining that African-American pride is welcomed whilst “White Pride” is – shockingly enough – considered racist and posting links together with his comrade James Linden Rose on how the KKK and other white supremacist groups are in fact Jewish front groups designed to make white people look bad and thwart Ron Paul’s perennial presidential run.

"KKKyle" O'Laughlin Laments That "White Pride" is Considered Racist

“KKKyle” O’Laughlin Laments That “White Pride” is Considered Racist

Whilst the groups Any Topic NOT Israel, Our Land, and Free Muslims all have anodyne descriptions about getting to know each other and coming up with plans for peace, etc., and mission statements banning racism and flaming, the groups themselves bear little resemblance to these noble sentiments. In point of fact, the groups operate as a breeding and training ground for trolls, particularly those (like O’Laughlin, Linden Rose, and Haigh) of the white supremacist variety, mixed together with a few of the more vocal Zionist trolls. There, they engage in their preferred versions of racism, and hurl accusations back and forth about collaboration, snitching, and participation in world conspiracies of one sort or another, with little to no moderation in sight. One does have to wonder what the purpose of creating and administering a network of racist trollpens would be.

Greta Berlin, as luck would have it, is a member in several of these groups, though the exact

James Linden Rose on "Rule By Jew"

James Linden Rose on “Rule By Jew”

circumstances of her joining them will likely remain unclear, given the fog of bullshit that surrounds her and her cohorts’ descriptions of the groups.

 The Company He Keeps

             Yani Haigh, it must be said, is a rather embarrassing person to have vouch for one’s anti-racist credentials. Indeed, were it not for his signature on the “nothing to see here” letter and the creepily detailed set of mindmaps with which, by his own account, he monitors over 200 Facebook groups “to track troublemakers”, he would be an annoying boor of little consequence; he would merely be someone to avoid sitting in front of at the Gabba when the footie’s on, but would not merit much attention beyond that.

However, over the course of the past week, facts have emerged to place Haigh’s combination of racist boorishness and meticulous surveillance into a broader context. One of the websites Haigh designed and operates, thebestplans.org, is that of an organisation founded by one Kamal Nawash, Esq., Haigh’s employer and fellow member of the groups in question.

Kamal Nawash is a Palestinian-American lawyer, with an LL.M. from American University’s Washington College of Law.

After a stint as counsel for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in 2003, apparently with the support of hard-right Republican activist Grover Norquist, Nawash stood for election to a seat in the Virginia state Senate. His Senate run was ultimately unsuccessful due to the general climate of scapegoating and criminalisation of Muslim and Arab life in the US.

Some might be led by such an experience to campaign against racism and bigotry. Not Kamal Nawash. Shortly after his electoral defeat, Nawash founded the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror (and later, its Facebook counterpart, the group “Free Muslims”), an organisation largely dedicated to providing public relations cover to US government repression of the Arab and Muslim community. One view one finds repeated throughout the autobiographies of the Free Muslims Board members is that it is Muslim ideology – and not, say, decades of murderous US and US-sponsored violence against them and their countries – that is at fault for any problems in the Muslim community and the Middle East.

In 2004, the Free Muslims organised a March Against Terror, which was endorsed by a diverse cross-section of people and organisations dedicated to bigotry against Arabs and Muslims (such as Daniel Pipes), to organisations and people dedicated to more general bigotry (RIGHTALK.com), to fellow alibi Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser of the “American Islamic Forum for Democracy”, to a wide assortment of right-wing organisations that no one had ever heard of and/or offer no proof that they actually exist (such as the “Government of Free Vietnam”, made up of former officials from the US puppet dictatorship who claim to be the legitimate government on account of having been elected fair and square to the position by four US presidents in a row).

Apparently, Nawash’s March Against Terror (and explicitly in support of Bush) caught a few eyes in Washington, because, in 2005, he was rewarded by the Bush White House with an appointment as US envoy to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Around the same time (2003-2007), Nawash began contributing to FrontPagemag.com, the far-right blog run by Stalinist-turned-fascist David Horowitz, who also operates the neo-McCarthyite campus group CampusWatch and the right-wing private intelligence organisation Discover The Networks. Nawash’s articles include titles such as We Are So Sorry for 9-11, French Riots: A Gift from the Open Borders Lobby, and the KCNA-esque Free Muslims Congratulate President George Bush.

This period in the life of Kamal Nawash has been very helpfully chronicled by none other than Daniel Pipes himself. As of 11 September 2003, Nawash earned a strong blast of scorn from the Pipes for suggesting that the Bush administration’s “anti-terrorism” (i.e., pro-repression) plan raised concerns about “basic Constitutional rights”:

Of particular interest (given that several 9/11 hijackers used a student cover), is Nawash’s objection to the U.S. government tracking foreign students, protesting (nonsensically) that this step would indicate “a willingness to restrict scientific knowledge and scholarship to certain classes of people and to flout, basically, principles of academic freedom.” Sounds like this man opposes the war on terrorism; in any case, he sure makes for a strange Republican candidate.

Throughout 2003, Pipes had nothing but contempt for Nawash, who was raising objections to the Clinton-era Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows the executive branch unilaterally to ban organisations as “terrorist organisations”, and criminalises anyone associated with them, criticising the designation of Palestinian groups disfavoured by the US regime as “terrorist”, and generally raising fairly mild questions about the human rights implications of the “war on terror”. Of US Senator John Warner (R-VA), who had endorsed Nawash’s candidacy for the Virginia state Senate, Pipes wrote: “Virginians might wish to inform their senior senator that he is, to put it mildly, going out on a limb on this one.”

By 2004, however, another tune began to be blown on the Pipes. In noting Nawash’s formation of the Free Muslims group, Pipes writes:

It sounds good and it has been getting lots of good publicity, but given Nawash’s record on terrorism, as established here (his dismissing the concept, his close ties to a person alleged to fund terrorism), I need to be convinced that this leopard has changed his spots.

By 2005, we find Pipes explicitly endorsing the Free Muslims March Against Terror, particularly chuffed that one Khaleel Mohammed “denounc[ed] CAIR”.

Whilst Pipes begins expressing sceptical endorsement (and Pipes has no other kind of endorsement on offer for Arabs and Muslims), by 2006, some within the exceedingly mild-mannered antidiscrimination group CAIR were expressing concern with Nawash and the way in which his remarks were eagerly snapped up by the likes of Daniel Pipes.

In two short years, Kamal Nawash went, in the mind of racist “smearcaster” Daniel Pipes, from something akin to the 20th hijacker to one of the Good Muslims. A remarkable transformation, to say the least.

Pipes’ timeline ends in 2008, but one can imagine that he would see no reason to reconsider his assessment in the light of subsequent events. In 2011, Nawash endorsed the neo-McCarthyite hearings chaired by Rep. Peter King on the “radicalisation of American Muslims”, and condemned the Muslim and Arab-American antidiscrimination organisations for their opposition to King’s efforts to further scapegoat and criminalise the Muslim community. When it was revealed this year that the NYPD had, for years, been carrying out a massive, illegal programme of spying on virtually the entire Muslim community of the Five Boroughs, Nawash, along with representatives of other Muslim astroturf groups organised a joint rally in support of the NYPD spying effort with none other than Rep. King himself.

Looking at this trajectory, one might be excused for speculating that Nawash’s conversion from moderate Republican and defender of Muslim and Arab-American rights to Pipes pet was not entirely free of opportunism.

Opportunism, as we will see as this series progresses, is something of an overarching theme.

*    *     *    *    *   *    *

UPDATE: In the twelve hours since this post went live, someone temporarily shut down my Facebook account, and there was an attempt to hack this blog. It appears someone might have succeeded in changing my blog password, thus preventing me getting in. All appears well now, but it does seem that someone is not exactly chuffed to bits that this article was published. They will be positively unecstatic about the subsequent parts of this series.

Meanwhile, Ali Abunimah has published his “final word” on the debacle that gave rise to this series:

Should I have been more explicit about what I saw? Perhaps, but I had my reasons to take a more restrained approach. I had hoped that by sounding the alarm, and signaling that Berlin’s explanations were not credible, Berlin herself would begin to take the issue seriously, and that the new Free Gaza board would do the same. Sadly that did not happen.

The most dispiriting spectacle over the past two weeks was seeing Berlin disseminating, and a small group of people embellishing, outlandish stories intended to distract and shift the blame on to those who were asking for accountability.

Almost every day, I’ve received emails alleging, among other things, that I am a “Zionist agent,” that I’ve been “conned” by Israel into attacking Berlin so that Israel can steal Gaza’s natural gas, that I am engaged in a “vendetta” because Berlin endorsed a book I didn’t like, and so on. A few of these messages came from people I had previously believed to be reasonable and sensible, which added to the disappointment.

Read the full article here.

Bekah Wolf of Mondoweiss has also come out with a piece very germane to the topic of this series, documenting what some of us had been saying since this began: This wasn’t just one accidental tweet. Alas, Greta Berlin has form.

Some people have come to Greta’s defense, accepting her assertion that this was a technical mistake, that she did not support the content of the video, and that those who have criticized her response to the “mistake” are on a witch hunt. I’d like to acknowledge that the Free Gaza Movement was not synonymous with Greta Berlin; some of my good friends and people I deeply respect were leaders of that movement and their work and commitment should in no way be minimized by this.

Setting aside Greta’s woefully inadequate explanations for the tweet (of which there were several), the fact remains: Greta is an active administrator of a Facebook group that is full of unabashedly anti-Semitic rhetoric and has been called out before by activists for it but has never done anything to challenge or stop it. Since the controversy broke, the “Our Land” group has attempted to cover some of its tracks. The fact that Greta remains an active administrator of a Facebook group that accommodates this kind of bigotry raises serious issues about her commitment to building an anti-racist movement committed to justice and equality. Moreover, her unprincipled, vicious andIslamophobic attacks on the Palestinians who have called her to task for her behavior should alarm all of us who are committed to Palestine solidarity work.

The full article can be found here.

(Deutsche Übersetzung)

One of the most disturbing aspects of the fragmentary American Left today is the tendency of many leftists in the US (though, obviously, not just in the US) to make decidedly poor choices when it comes to selecting allies. One well-known example of this – tirelessly pointed out by Paul Street, Glenn Ford, and many others – was the combination of wishful thinking and denial that led so many progressives and leftists to hitch their wagons to the star of centre-right neoliberal Barack Obama, the darling of such classic Left institutions as Wall Street and the nuclear power industry.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a dawning realisation that this was a very bad idea indeed, and that many on the Left had fallen for a product of the PR industry specifically designed for them to fall for. It certainly was one of Madison Avenue’s great successes, so much so, in fact, that the Obama campaign beat out Apple in 2008 for the industry’s coveted award for best ad campaign. However, Obama’s PR makeover, which transformed a centre-right, neoliberal militarist only Citigroup could love into the darling of the anti-war movement, can’t hold a candle to the image makeover enjoyed by one Ron Paul. While Madison Avenue managed to transmogrify the centre-right Obama into a supposed stealth leftist, Ron Paul’s PR has managed to make a potential Left ally out of a far-right white supremacist who courts the favour of the sort of people Trotsky once suggested should be ‘acquainted with the pavement’. However, much less has been written about this continuing strategic cockup than the subject deserves.

In the following, I will briefly sketch the actual views of Ron Paul, to show what sort of person so many on the anti-war left have hopped into bed with. I will then propose an explanation for why this sort of thing happens, and keeps happening. The Ron Paul readers will encounter in the following will bear little resemblance to the sanitised Ron Paul who courageously rails against the current wars and declares himself to be against empire and the National Security State, and for personal liberty.

The Real Ron Paul

(Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-Communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen [sic]. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan Approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.)

Listen to a black radio talk show in any major city. The Racial Hatred makes a KKK rally look tame. The blacks talk about their own racial superiority, how the whites have a conspiracy to wipe them out, and how they are going to take over the country and enact retribution. They only differ over whether they should use King’s non-violent approach (i.e., state violence), or use private violence.

- Ron Paul on the Civil Rights Movement

 

When, on occasion, I have attempted to discuss Ron Paul’s views with his fans on the Left, I have regularly been accused of ‘smearing’ him. The accusation is understandable, because Ron Paul espouses views with which no decent person would willingly be associated. As we will see below, Ron Paul, far from being an ‘almost unique’ politician who ‘transcends the left-right pseudo-divide,’  and ‘doesn’t want to make a country of the left or a country of the right”, can in fact be quite easily located on the far-right end of the ‘left-right pseudo-divide’, alongside such ‘almost unique’ politicians as David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Craig Roberts. All that is true in the laudatio quoted above is that Ron Paul most definitely ‘doesn’t want to make a country of the left’.

Before he rose to national prominence, Paul was a little less cautious about publicising his views. In 1996, the year Adolph Reed, Jr. became the first on the Left to call out ‘vacuous to repressive neoliberal’ politician Barack Obama, left-progressive Texan commentator Molly Ivins wrote:

Dallas’ 5th District, East Texas’ 2nd District and the amazing 14th District,which runs all over everywhere, are also in play. In the amazing 14th, Democrat Lefty Morris (his slogan is ”Lefty is Right!”) faces the Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul, who is himself so far right that he’s sometimes left, as happens with your Libertarians. I think my favorite issue here is Paul’s 1993 newsletter advising ”Frightened Americans” on how to get their money out of the country. He advised that Peruvian citizenship could be purchased for a mere 25 grand. That we should all become Peruvians is one of the more innovative suggestions of this festive campaign season. But what will the Peruvians think of it?

This, it should be noted, is one of the relatively innocuous passages from the newsletters Ron Paul has sent out since 1978.

‘The criminals who terrorize our cities — in riots and on every non-riot day –‘, Paul’s newsletter proclaimed on one occasion, ‘are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to ‘fight the power,’ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.’ Carjacking, we learn from a 1992 Ron Paul Newsletter, is the ‘hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos.’ This they may have learned by following the example of the ‘pro-Communist philanderer’ Martin Luther King, Jr., who ‘seduced underage girls and boys’, and ‘replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.’ Not unsurprisingly, Paul’s newsletter described Martin Luther King Day as ‘our annual Hate Whitey Day’.

In another story, Paul regales us with tales of ‘needlin’, a new form of racial terrorism’. ‘At least 39 white women’, he claims, ‘have been struck with used hypodermic needles –-perhaps infected with AIDS—by gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14.’ Against this background, it is probably not terribly surprising that Paul’s newsletter refers to African Americans as ‘the animals’, and suggests that a more appropriate name for New York would be ‘Zooville’.

Much has been made of Paul’s attempts to deny any connection to the statements above, and many, many more like them, attempts that he only began making when it became clear that he had a shot at national prominence. Back in 1996, when his opponent for a Texas congressional seat distributed Paul’s newsletters to the voting public, he was not as coy:

Dr. Paul, who served in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said Tuesday that he has produced the newsletter since 1985 and distributes it to an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 subscribers. A phone call to the newsletter’s toll-free number was answered by his campaign staff. […]

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. […]

–Dallas Daily News, 22 May 1996

A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has decried the spread of urban crime.

Paul continues to write the newsletter for an undisclosed number of subscribers, the spokesman said.

Houston Chronicle, 23 May 1996

Essentially, then, Paul’s argument back in 1996 was that his writings – which he publicly admitted were his – were being taken out of context, a symptom of ‘The Coming Race War’, no doubt.

Twelve years later, however, Ron Paul had apparently realised that his ‘Sure, I called black people a bunch of criminal animals who want to rob you of everything you have and give you AIDS, but I didn’t mean it in a bad way’ defence probably would not cut it with his new, left-leaning national audience:

The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person’s character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’

However, in Paul’s view, African American ‘animals’ are not the only threat we must face. As he explained in a 2007 interview with the white-supremacist website VDare.com (co-edited by none other than Paul Craig Roberts, another strange bedfellow), we face two other great dangers: undocumented workers, the social safety net, and the looming ‘United Nations government’:

Well, I start off with saying that [immigration is] a big problem. I don’t like to get involved with the Federal Government very much, but I do think it is a federal responsibility to protect our borders. This mess has come about for various reasons. One, the laws aren’t enforced. Another, the welfare state. We have a need for workers in this country because our welfare system literally encourages people not to work. Therefore, a lot of jobs go begging. This is an incentive for immigrants to come in and take those jobs.

It is compounded because of federal mandates on the states to provide free medical care—that’s literally bankrupting the hospitals in Texas—and free education.

So my main point is to get rid of incentives that cause people to break the law—entitlements as well as the promise of amnesty, citizenship.

I also want to revisit the whole idea of birthright citizenship. I don’t think many countries have that. I don’t think it was the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment. I personally think it could be fixed by legislation. But some people argue otherwise, so I’ve covered myself by introducing a constitutional amendment.

(emphasis supplied) The problem of undocumented workers taking our jobs is apparently compounded by something Paul calls ‘the racial component’. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

In the same interview, Paul also announced that ‘I don’t think we should have minimum wages to protect the price of labor. I want the market to determine this. At the upper level as well.’ The Haitian approach to labour law.

As a professed ‘libertarian’ (in the appropriated, right-wing sense of the word, not the traditional sense), Paul loves words like ‘freedom’ and liberty’. Indeed, he has said that: “On the right-to-life issue, I believe, I’m a real stickler for civil liberties,’ except those of women:

It’s academic to talk about civil liberties if you don’t talk about the true protection of all life. So if you are going to protect liberty, you have to protect the life of the unborn just as well.

I have a Bill in congress I certainly would promote and push as president, called the Sanctity of Life Amendment. We establish the principle that life begins at conception. And someone says, ‘oh why are you saying that?’ and I say, ‘well, that’s not a political statement — that’s a scientific statement that I’m making!“

I know we’re all interested in a better court system and amending the constitution to protect life. But sometimes I think that is dismissing the way we can handle this much quicker, and my bill removes the jurisdiction of the federal courts from the issue of abortion, if a state law says no abortion, it doesn’t go to the supreme court to be ruled out of order.

(emphasis supplied)

I’ve heard his Left (yes, Left!) defenders respond to me that Paul merely wants limited government on the issue of abortion, to get the federal courts and government out of the matter so that the states can decide. I wonder how they square that with his vote in favour of the federal ban on the life-saving dilation and extraction (D&X) procedure, upheld by the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Not surprisingly, then, Ron Paul generates enthusiasm in the sort of people the Left generally do not like to be associated with. The Neo-Nazi website Stormfront donated $500 to his campaign, which Paul pointedly refused to return. For their support, Stormfront leaders were rewarded with a photo-op. As a Stormfronter with the evocative handle ‘Wolfsnarl’ noted:

If we can get them to defend their race without them actively thinking they are doing so in those terms-through mainstream anti-immigration groups like NumbersUSA or Ron Paul activism for example. After all, how many foot soldiers of the jewish [sic]/communist takeover actively thought of themselves as communists or whatever?

Klan leader David Duke, too, ‘like[s] Ron Paul’s campaign’ enough to offer him some free advice on What Ron Paul Must Do to Win, even though ‘Ron Paul does not do enough to defend the heritage and interests of European Americans.’ Note that Duke’s criticism is not that Paul isn’t a white supremacist, but that he isn’t enough of one.

Now, it’s true that a person can’t entirely be faulted for the fans they accumulate. Anyone with any public persona at all will probably acquire a few fans whose views they do not share. Barack Obama, for example, still has quite a few left-progressive, antiwar fans.

However, a person can be faulted for how she deals with those fans. Barack Obama has made valiant efforts to show that left-progressives’ Obama admiration is not mutual. He has ridiculed and disparaged them on numerous occasions, and has pursued an agenda that stands for everything they stand against. Clearly, then, Obama cannot be faulted for the fact that some people just can’t take a fucking hint.

Not so Ron Paul. First of all, as we’ve seen above, Ron Paul does share the views of the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in his cheering section. Indeed, he has long actively courted them, through his newsletter, by appearing at their meetings, by talking to their media (e.g., VDare), by taking their money, and by grinning into the camera at photo-ops with some of their leaders. This does not sound like the behaviour of a man who opposes everything the swastika-wearing Right stands for; this is the behaviour of someone who considers their views at least palatable, and who values their support. At the very least, Paul is a little too comfortable in the presence of people who would like to beat his Left supporters to a bloody pulp.

Ron Paul: A Symptom of Left Dysfunction

Despite a consistent, decades-long record of public pronouncements that, in any other country, would have anti-fascist activists shouting him down at every public appearance, quite a few left-leaning people in the US will defend Ron Paul to the death, attacking any critic who points out the niggling little matter of his positions on the issues. Why?

Most Left Paul supporters I’ve encountered sum up their support for him more or less as follows: He is anti-war, anti-USA PATRIOT Act, anti-empire, and for the legalisation of drugs. Any reference to the fact that he is also a misogynistic white supremacist who is virulently anti-labour is dismissed either as ‘smears’ or ‘fear-mongering’.

In other words: ‘He’s with us on one or two issues, so we have to support him. Who cares what kind of society he wants to build. You can’t have everything!’

This is the same thinking that has people in the Palestine solidarity movement approvingly quoting the likes of Jeff Blankfort, Paul Craig Roberts, and Gilad Atzmon.

Overall, the idea seems to be that we on the Left are alone in a corner, and can’t be choosy about our friends. ‘Well, if you don’t like Ron Paul’, I’ve often been asked, ‘name a politician you do like.’ The idea that there is no need to limit ourselves, in our search for ‘friends’, to the narrow-spectrum, ‘one-and-a-half-party’ political class, it seems, doesn’t even occur to them. No grass-roots movement building, no eschewing the corporate-managed electoral system in favour of exerting pressure from below and without – You picks yer candidate, and you tries yer luck. You can’t have everything. This is the thinking that allowed the Barack Obama campaign to sedate all of the grass-roots activism of the Bush years.

This is compounded by the often stunning political illiteracy one encounters in the American Left, where conspiracy theories from the far right have a disturbing tendency to migrate leftward (with certain modifications).

Witness the Fed conspiracy theories. The first time I heard someone (falsely) claim that ‘no one knows who owns the Fed’, and go on to (falsely) claim that the Fed is privately owned, it was in a ‘documentary’ called Freedom to Fascism. In this ‘documentary’, we hear that American workers enjoyed an almost utopian degree of freedom and prosperity until 1916, when the income tax was passed into law (women were free to not vote, all working people were free to not join a union or get shot, workers were free to be paid in company scrip instead of real money, African Americans were free to be photographed amongst grinning psychos whilst being burned at the stake, you know the drill). Luckily, the ‘documentary’ informed us that there was no law actually requiring us to pay income tax, quoting a number of notorious hucksters to this effect. Other examples of the looming ‘fascism’ cited by the film included the fact that, during Hurricane Katrina, white Louisiana residents were actually being investigated for opening fire on un-armed black Louisiana residents who made the fatal mistake of crossing a bridge into their neighbourhood in hopes of finding safety.

Two years later, I discovered that this Coughlinesque nonsense about an ‘international (Jewish) bankers’ conspiracy in the form of the ‘privately-owned’ Fed had been lapped up by quite a few left-progressives. Of course, the original narrative of the pre-union rights, pre-income tax, pre-women’s suffrage utopia wouldn’t sell in this crowd. Luckily, someone has come up with an alternate Utopia Lost narrative, using everyone’s favourite war criminal, JFK. JFK had long been the subject of misguided adulation on the American Left based on the idea that he had super-secret plans (so secret that they find not even the slightest hint of support in the declassified record) to end the war that he started and wholeheartedly supported. Now, not only was inveterate red-baiter John Fitzgerald Kennedy secretly going to end the occupation of Vietnam – he was going to take on the Fed by issuing silver certificates.

My intention in bringing this up is not to refute this or any other right-wing conspiracy theory that has made its way leftward – others more masochistic than I have already done an excellent job of that. Instead, my interest in this is that it parallels the dysfunctional choice of ‘friends’ we see in so many people on the fragmentary American Left. The appeal of these theories is not their veracity – they are so false as to be insulting. Their appeal – like that of Ron Paul and those like him – is that they appear, at least superficially, to be challenging powerful capitalist institutions. Moreover, they do so in a way that justifies inaction (they’re all-powerful, the ‘Sheeple’ just won’t listen, etc.), and appears to explain why we have no functional Left in this country without ever assigning any blame to the failure to engage in any sustained organising effort, the failure to distinguish healthy pluralism from dysfunctional opportunism (witness Ron Paul), and the failure to distinguish insistence on principle from insular sectarianism.

To be sure, there is plenty of blame to go around. We have decades-long attempts to infiltrate and undermine Left organisations by the FBI and local red squads, a propaganda system that convinces 80% of the population that they’re in the minority with their views, a Democratic Party that pretends to be progressive when they’re not in office, a Republican Party so scary that the Democratic Party looks good, and any number of other obstacles. However, those external obstacles do not absolve us from the responsibility to take a serious look at our internal dysfunction. There is little that a weak, fragmented, insular Left can do right now about the massive structural obstacles we face, but we can certainly do something about the mess in our own house.

Opportunism makes strange bedfellows. How else can Jeff Blankfort’s prominence in what is supposedly a Palestinian solidarity movement be explained?

 The Lobby Hypothesis

Blankfort’s basic claim is that a Jewish Lobby has absolute control over US policy in the Middle East. This is hardly a novel claim – it’s been advanced by various congressional Republicans and mainstream hawks like Walt and Mearsheimer, who claim that The Lobby is the reason that the US deviate from their general foreign policy of support for “democracy” when it comes to the Middle East, and that the Lobby is harming “national interests”.

There are, however, some obvious problems with this theory, which I will outline only briefly, as they have been discussed in great detail elsewhere. If we are to assume that The Lobby is the driving force behind US Mid-East policy, in particular of US support for the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, it is useful to ask a few basic questions:

  1. Does US policy in the Middle East differ in any fundamental, qualitative way from US policy anywhere else in the world (i.e., is US policy towards Israel, Palestine, and the rest of the region unique in the annals of US foreign policy)?
  2. Are there any other interests within the US that might benefit from US support for Israeli militarism?
  3. What happens when Israeli policies conflict with US strategic interests?
  4. Based on the overall US record, could we reasonably expect the US to pursue a policy of supporting the human rights of Palestinians if it were not for The Lobby?

One might further ask how one defines “national interests”, and whether a discourse of “national interests” is necessarily a good thing for Palestinian rights.

The answer to the first question is a resounding NO. The essentials of US Middle East policy – supporting murderous dictators, racist regimes, illegal military occupations, rampant violations of human rights and international law, and acts of aggression and genocide – characterise not only US policy in the Middle East, but US policy virtually everywhere else. The US installed and decisively supported the genocidal Suharto regime in Indonesia, which celebrated its inauguration by slaughtering between half a million and a million Indonesian peasants (often based on US-supplied hit lists), and went on to invade and occupy East Timor, carrying out a decades-long bloodbath (politely ignored in the US corporate media) that killed as much as one fifth of the population of that small, defenceless country. US support for genocidal regimes includes decisive support for Saddam Hussein’s slaughter of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of Kurds in the 1980s and 1990s, the mass slaughter of the indigenous people of Guatemala (lasting almost half a century), and its own genocidal warfare against Indochina, from which that region has yet to recover. Clearly, then, US policy towards Israel and Palestine is best characterised as highly consistent with US policy elsewhere. It is hard to sustain the idea that the dark machinations of an all-powerful lobby are the driving force behind a policy of doing basically the same thing everywhere in the world.

The answer to the second question is an obvious YES. Certainly, the US has an interest – going beyond the obvious commercial benefits – in controlling the Middle East’s oil reserves, which have been deemed by US planners to be the key to world domination going back to the end of the Second World War. Obviously, US oil corporations aren’t exactly hurting from this arrangement, either. Additionally, US military aid to Israel – 75% of which ends up in the pockets of US arms manufacturers – helps spur on a regional arms race, ensuring constant demand, and thus constant profits. Moreover, Israel is virtually the only state in the region that has little to no danger of being “infected” by “radical [i.e., independent] Arab nationalism”. Mubbarak & Co. might be overthrown tomorrow, but there’s no chance of Israel being a base for resurgent Nasserism.

As for the third question, when US interests conflict with Israeli policies, US interests consistently prevail. It is first important to remember that US interests do not include “ideological slogans about human rights”, as George Kennan put it half a century ago. From a strategic standpoint, the US couldn’t really care less what happens to the Palestinians. However, the US does care – to name just one example – about whether the Chinese government get their hands on classified US technology, and when Israel tried to make a deal to do just that, the US put a stop to it with a few phone calls and a well-timed snubbing. A deal like this is not a small matter for Israel. Israeli strategists have long been ambivalent about the exclusivity of the US-Israeli “special relationship”, and Israel certainly has a long-term interest in reducing its dependency on US armaments in order to ensure maximum manoeuvring room on policy. Losing the China deal, thus, was a real blow. One might have expected The Lobby to attack the US government for doing such harm to Israeli interests. One would have been wrong.

If The Lobby is truly the driving force behind US support for the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians, the answer to the fourth question – whether the US would truly support Palestinian human rights if it weren’t for The Lobby – would have to be YES. This does not rise to the level of a bad joke, as even a cursory glance at US policy elsewhere demonstrates. The US has enthusiastically supported and engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing all over the world, from the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, to the Timorese, to the Mayas of Guatemala, to the indigenous peoples of Paraguay, to the people of Indochina, and, last but not least, the genocide by which ‘The West [not to mention the East, South, North, and Midwest] Was Won’. Proponents of the Lobby Hypothesis do not even attempt to explain why the US would care more about Palestinians than about the millions of others whose slaughter they have supported.

As for “national interests”, the first problem is conceptual. Can we really claim, with any validity, that all people within “the nation” have the same interests, that unemployed auto workers have the same interests as the owners of auto companies, that the working class base of the US military has the same interests as the CEO of Halliburton? Of course not. “National interests” is a meaningless, obfuscatory concept. However, even if it were not, a discourse of “national interests” would be of little help to the Palestinians. What benefit do they confer on “the nation”? Moreover, if we accept “national interests” as the basis of the Palestinian solidarity movement, the movement would, by definition, have to end if it were ever conclusively proven that “national interests” are harmed by enforcing the human rights of Palestinians. Clearly, the Palestinians cannot hope to find reliable friends amongst those who base their advocacy on imagined “national interests”.

In other words, in order to sustain the Lobby Hypothesis, we must essentially forget all we know about US history and foreign policy. This sort of willful ignorance, while not particularly helpful to the Palestinians, is quite useful for those who simply want to improve the effectiveness of US imperialism. By placing all of the blame on an all-powerful lobby, they give US planners a ready-made alibi for their crimes against the Palestinian people: “The lobby made me do it!” Moreover, this hypothesis ensures that activism will miss one of the most important targets: the US government, and focus instead narrowly on Israel. This would be a serious tactical error – if activism is aimed solely at increasing the cost of the occupation for Israel, the US can easily find ways of counteracting those costs through extensive aid. Only by targeting not only Israel, but also the US government – without which none of these crimes would be possible – and US institutions that profit directly from the oppression of Palestinians can we hope to be effective in our work for Palestinian rights.

Blankfort’s Dishonesty

Blankfort’s contribution to this rather dubious theory – though even it is hardly original – is to respond to those who take issue with his claims by suggesting that they are of Jewish ancestry.

And yet, Blankfort is given a forum by blogs that otherwise seem to have some degree of quality control. MondoWeiss, for example, which often publishes quality material on the Israel-Palestine conflict (apart from Weiss’ obsession with “dual loyalty” and the Lobby Hypothesis) even went so far as to suggest that an interview between Ali Abunimah and Blankfort signified “a sense of a torch being passed here, or of the older left not being suited for the new conversation about Israel/Palestine.”

It is perhaps worthwhile to ask to whom this metaphorical torch is being passed.

Blankfort has made attacking Chomsky his life’s work. By this, I do not mean criticising Chomsky’s views, but actively, consistently, and knowingly misrepresenting them. In the torch-passing interview, for example, Blankfort claimed that Chomsky had never written about the role of US trade unions in calling for US support for Israeli militarism. This claim, as anyone who has read up to page 30 of The Fateful Triangle will know, is patently false. In that 1983 book, Chomsky discusses the role of trade unions at some length, and points out the flaws in the Lobby Hypothesis, which Blankfort also claimed Chomsky hasn’t written about. In other words, there are only two possibilities: Either Blankfort makes claims despite being ignorant of the facts, or he makes claims knowing full well that they contradict the facts.

Since this was my first encounter with Blankfort, I became curious, and discovered that his misrepresentations in the Abunimah interview were not isolated. Jeremy Hammond – whose masochism in delving into the Blankfort Bog greatly outstrips my own – has documented extensive distortions of Chomsky’s actual record that Blankfort demonstrably knows to be false. For example, that Blankfort has distorted Chomsky’s statements about Salam Fayyad’s pursuit of “sound and sensible policies” that seek to lay the groundwork for a de facto Palestinian state (something Chomsky describes, using a popular Zionist expression, as “creating facts on the ground”) to claim that Fayyad is “a favorite of both Washington and Israel and, it would appear, Chomsky”.

What is the proof that Blankfort knew that he was misrepresenting Chomsky’s statement in the interview? ‘Blankfort himself participated [in the interview in question] as well, having called in to the live program.’

In order to support his claims that Chomsky is involved in ‘damage control’ for Israel, Blankfort has quoted that statement by Chomsky in an interview on Israeli TV that ‘I don’t regard myself as a critic of Israel. I regard myself as a supporter of Israel.’ When Hammond noted in comments to a piece defending Blankfort on Dissident Voice that “Chomsky means he is opposed to Israeli crimes against Palestinians when he says he is “a supporter of Israel”, Blankfort’s terse response, in its entirety, was:

“DON’T AGREE. HE DID NOT QUALIFY HIS STATEMENT TO THE ISRAELI INTERVIWER [sic] BY SAYING THAT WHEN HE COULD HAVE.”

The problem is that Chomsky did qualify it, in the very next sentence:

“The people who are harming Israel, in my opinion, it’s what I’ve said many times, are those who claim to be supporting it. They are helping [to] drive Israel towards moral degeneration and possible ultimate destruction. I think support for Israel should be support for policies which are for its benefit.”

This distinction, of which Blankfort must certainly be aware if he is as familiar with Chomsky’s work as he claims to be, dates back at least to a passage in the first chapter of The Fateful Triangle (p. 4 of the 1999 updated edition), which merits quoting in full:

These remarks will be critical of Israel’s policies: its consistent rejection of any political settlement that accommodates the national rights of the indigenous population; its repression and state terrorism over many years; its propaganda efforts, which have been remarkably successful – much to Israel’s detriment in my view – in the United States. But this presentation may be misleading, in two respects. In the first place, this is not an attempt at a general history; the focus is on what I think is and has been wrong and what should be changed, not on what I think has been right. Secondly, the focus on Israeli actions and initiatives may obscure the fact that my real concern is the policies that have been pursued by the U.S. government and our responsibility in shaping or tolerating these policies. To a remarkable extent, articulate opinion and attitudes in the U.S. have been dominated by people who describe themselves as “supporters of Israel,” a term that I will also adopt, though with much reluctance, since I think they should more properly be called “supporters of the moral degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel,” and not Israel alone. Given this ideological climate and the concrete U.S. actions that it has helped to engender, it is natural enough that Israeli policies have evolved in their predictable way. Perpetuation of these tendencies within the U.S. and in U.S.-Israel relations portends a rather gloomy future, in my view, for reasons that I hope will become clearer as we proceed. If so, a large measure of responsibility lies right here, as in the recent past.


(emphasis supplied, footnote omitted).

In other words, Chomsky’s distinction between what he considers real supporters of Israel (i.e., critics of criminal Israeli policies) and those who “should more properly be called ‘supporters of the moral degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel’ is not a new point. Just to hammer this home, Chomsky puts the phrases ‘support for/supporters of Israel’ in inverted commas throughout the book.

Now, it is certainly possible that Blankfort is simply not as familiar with Chomsky’s writings as he holds himself out to be, and that he was just unaware of Chomsky’s deconstruction of the notion of ‘support for Israel’ at the very beginning of his best-known book on the subject, but the fact remains that Chomsky made the very same point, albeit more briefly, in the very next sentence in the very interview that Blankfort quotes. Thus, Blankfort’s claim that Chomsky “DID NOT QUALIFY HIS STATEMENT” can only be characterised as a lie.

Why, then, to return to the initial question, do people who otherwise show some discernment in their editorial decisions, associate themselves with the likes of Blankfort? Blankfort’s writings contain nothing novel, original, unique, or even intellectually honest. He has an irrational vendetta against Chomsky for reasons unknown, and is willing to lie outright in order to discredit him. One of Blankfort’s most common responses to criticism is to make insinuations about his critics’ ancestry, deflecting, for example, from Jeremy Hammond’s questions about obvious contradictions in Blankfort’s claims with the following remarks:

You know how it is with names. Hammond could be Protestant, Quaker, Methodist, Catholic, or, in this case, I suspect Jewish. And why? It seems that only Jews, thus far, have become hysterical over my critique of Chomsky which will come back to haunt them when they wish people to take them seriously.


Blankfort is, to be blunt, an asshole, and arguably a racist one at that. The only explanation why an unoriginal, dishonest, racist asshole like Blankfort is allowed to bring discredit on the Palestinian solidarity movement is that the movement (or at least some segments of it) has developed something of a habit of embracing assholes. When you’re already embracing imperialists like Walt and Mearsheimer, as well as racists like Pat Buchanan (who regularly excoriated opponents of original-flavour apartheid), Gilad Atzmon, and Paul Craig Roberts, what’s one more addition to the list? The response one invariably gets when this issue is raised is that “We may not agree on everything, but [whoever it is] opposes the occupation, and that’s all that matters”.

No, it bloody well isn’t. It’s one thing to encourage a healthy pluralism within a movement; it’s quite another to align oneself with people whose goals and ideologies (one hopes, anyway!) are diametrically opposed to one’s own, just because of an agreement-in-principle on one part of an overall issue. While this is quite beneficial to people like Blankfort and Buchanan, who would much prefer to be thought of as supporters of human rights than as proto-fascist reactionaries, it is toxic to a movement that is based on human rights and opposition to racism. While Buchanan, Roberts, Blankfort et al. get a reputation upgrade by association with the movement for Palestinian human rights, the movement itself can only be harmed by association with people like Buchanan, Blankfort, and Roberts. Assholes get legitimised, the movement gets delegitimised, everybody – especially the Palestinians – loses. That is the danger of opportunism.

Manche wissen einfach nicht, wann sie endlich aufgeben sollen. Zu diesem ziemlich großen Personenkreis gehört neben dem selbstvernichtungsfreudigen Spätrömer Guido Westerwelle offenbar auch die Staatsanwaltschaft Nürnberg.

Wohl viele werden sich daran erinnern, daß sich nach der – von der Gutgläubigkeit der Dresdner Justiz begünstigten – ruchlosen Mordtat an Marwa El-Sherbini außer dem Mörder selbst nur für eine Person strafrechtliche Konsequenzen ergeben haben: Dr. Sabine Schiffer vom Erlanger Institut für Medienverantwortung. Sie hat nämlich vermutet, daß nicht der Täter, sondern der nothilfeleistende Ehemann des Opfers „sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen“ angeschossen wurde. Sowas darf es nun wirklich nicht geben.

Nach einer peinlichen Niederlage vor dem Amtsgericht Erlangen, bei dem klar wurde, daß die werte Frau Staatsanwältin vom Verfahrensgegenstand keine Ahnung hatte und stattdessen auf eine merkwürdige zeitgeschichtliche Argumentation (Rufschutz für Polizisten als Konsequenz der [nicht zuletzt polizeilich durchgesetzten] NS-Gewaltherrschaft) pochte, hat sie sich nicht etwa bei der freigesprochenen Dr. Schiffer entschuldigt, wie es sich eigentlich gehört hätte. Nein, sie hat stattdessen lieber Revision eingelegt.

Die Revisionsbegründung wollen wir uns jetzt mal näher ankucken.

Zunächst einmal heißt es, das Amtsgericht sei zu Unrecht davon ausgegangen, daß es sich beim angegriffenen 4-Wort-Halbsatz um eine Meinungsäußerung handele. In diesem Zusammenhang habe das Amtsgericht „nur das Wort ‚sicherlich’“ (auf das die Staatsanwaltschaft erstinstanzlich selbst abgestellt hat!) betrachtet.

Wie man mit Füllwörtern bastelt


In erster Instanz hat die Staatsanwaltschaft bekanntlich andere Bedeutungen des Wörtchens „sicherlich“ als die von ihr aus offensichtlichen Gründen bevorzugte verstärkende Variante ignoriert. In der Revisionsbegründung räumt die StA immerhin ein: „Dem Amtsgericht Erlangen ist insoweit recht zu geben, als das Wort „sicherlich“ für sich genommen nicht nur verstärkend, sondern auch abschwächend verwendet werden kann.“ In diesem Fall sei es jedoch „zur Verstärkung“ eingesetzt worden, und zwar deshalb, weil in syntaktisch ganz anderen Satzteilen „die sogenannten Füllwörter „ja“ und „auch noch“ verwendet wurden“ und dem mehrteiligen Satz die Wörter „Und zwar ist Folgendes passiert“ vorangegangen seien.

Bevor wir mit der Sektion beginnen, wäre es sinnvoll, die ganze Äußerung zu betrachten:

„Und zwar ist Folgendes passiert: Der Vertreter der Muslime und der Vertreter der Juden, die sind zusammen nach Dresden gefahren, und haben den Mann, den überlebenden Mann, der ja versucht hat, seine Frau zu retten und sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen von einem Polizisten auch noch angeschossen wurde…“ (Hervorhebung der StA)

Für die Staatsanwaltschaft macht es allem Anschein nach keinen Unterschied, wo diese Verstärkungsfüllwörter überhaupt untergebracht werden.

(1)    Und zwar ist Folgendes passiert:
(2)    Der Vertreter der Muslime und der Vertreter der Juden, die sind zusammen nach Dresden gefahren
(3)    und haben den Mann

a.    den überlebenden Mann

b.    der ja versucht hat, seine Frau zu retten

c.    und

i.    sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen

d.    von einem Polizisten auch noch angeschossen wurde.“


Subjekt dieser Äußerung sind die Vertreter der jüdischen und muslimischen Glaubensgemeinschaften. Objekt ist „der überlebende Mann", dem die beiden einen Besuch abgestattet haben. Dieser hat „ja versucht“, seine Frau zu retten, und wurde „auch noch angeschossen“. Das einzige eindeutige Verstärkungsfüllwort – „ja“ – bezieht sich offensichtlich auf das Verb „versuchen“, also auf die völlig unbestrittene Tatsache, daß er „ja versucht hat, seine Frau zu retten“.

Bei „auch noch“ wird’s noch problematischer. Die Staatsanwaltschaft Nürnberg, die ja erstinstanzlich die andere naheliegende Deutungsmöglichkeit des Wörtchens „sicherlich“ (d.h. als Vermutungskennzeichen) gar nicht erst erwähnt hat, versucht jetzt auch noch, uns eine nicht gerade naheliegende Deutung von „auch noch“ unterzujubeln. Es ist ja ziemlich eindeutig, daß „auch noch“ in dieser Äußerung kein bloßes Verstärkungspartikel ist, sondern etwa „zu allem Überfluß“ bedeuten soll. Z.B.: Der Mann leidet ja unter dem Verlust seiner Frau, und, als ob das nicht genug wäre, ist er zu allem Überfluß angeschossen worden. Und worauf bezieht sich dieses „auch noch“? Auf die völlig unbestrittene Tatsache, daß der Mann angeschossen wurde.

Der Polizist kommt erst in einem Neben-Nebensatz vor, dessen Subjekt der überlebende Mann ist. Im Gegensatz zum Ja und Auchnoch, die sich auf unstrittige Tatsachen beziehen, bezieht sich das Sicherlich auf etwas, was offensichtlich (wenn überhaupt!) nur ein Mensch auf der Welt mit Sicherheit wissen kann, und zwar auf die bewußten bzw. unbewußten geistigen Voraussetzungen, unter denen er sich in einer uneindeutigen Situation spontan für ein Schußziel entschieden hat.

Sicherlich weiß der „unbefangene Durchschnittsempfänger“, daß kein Mensch (egal, wieviele Staatsexamina er bestanden haben mag) in der Lage ist, Gedanken zu lesen. Im Gegensatz zu manchen Staatsanwälten ist ihm die Fähigkeit zuzutrauen, zwischen Tatsachen und Deutungen zu unterscheiden. Wer wann angeschossen wurde, ist – zumindest rein theoretisch – eindeutig feststellbar. Wer wen wann besucht hat, ebenfalls. Um aber glauben zu können, eine Medienwissenschaftlerin, die offenkundig nicht einmal dabei war, würde bei einer außer durch allgemeine Bemerkungen über das islamfeindliche Klima der Gesamtgesellschaft nicht weiter vertieften nebennebensätzlichen Äußerung über die Gründe eines Fehlschusses eine Tatsache feststellen, auf die er sich ohne weiteres verlassen könne, müßte dieser Durchschnittsempfänger schon so bescheuert sein, daß er den Satz gar nicht erst begreifen könnte.

Die Staatsanwaltschaft Nürnberg kann nur hoffen, daß ihre Ausführungen in der Revisionsinstanz einem solchen Unterdurchschnittsempfänger begegnen.

Die Staatsanwaltschaft, die Medienwissenschaftlerin und der kleine Hopser

 

„Aus Sicht eines objektiven Empfängers, der das Interview der Angeklagten vom 15.07.2009 unbefangen hört oder liest, ist die Äußerung der Angeklagten betreffend die Schussabgabe dahingehend auszulegen, dass die Tatsache behauptet wird, dass der Polizeibeamte aus rassistischen Gründen auf den Ehemann der Getöteten geschossen hat.

Damit hat die Angeklagte dem Polizeibeamten ein – milde ausgedrückt – unehrenhaftes Motiv bei der Schussabgabe unterstellt.

Die von der Angeklagten behauptete Tatsache ist darüber hinaus geeignet, den Polizeibeamten in der öffentlichen Meinung herabzuwürdigen oder diesen verächtlich zu machen. Die Angeklagte stellt die Behauptung auf, dass das Motiv für die Schussabgabe rassistisch gewesen ist.“


In seinem Aufsatz Von den Kränzen, der Abtreibung und dem Sakrament der Ehe, schreibt Kurt Tucholsky: „Die Kirche beweist alles, was sie anordnet, mit der schärfsten Logik, es stimmt scheinbar alles, Schritt für Schritt, Stufe für Stufe – und wenn sie am Ende der Kette angekommen ist, dann macht sie einen kleinen Hopser, der Denker beginnt zu fliegen und entschwindet den erstaunten Augen im Himmelblau.“

Schauen Sie sich die oben zitierte Passage aus der Revisionsbegründung noch einmal in Ruhe an. Haben Sie ihn schon gefunden, den kleinen Hopser? „Die Tatsache (wird behauptet), dass der Polizeibeamte aus rassistischen Gründen auf den Ehemann der Getöteten geschossen hat…Die Angeklagte stellt die Behauptung auf, dass das Motiv für die Schussabgabe rassistisch gewesen ist.“ (Hervorhebungen von mir)

In der angegriffenen Äußerung von Dr. Schiffer ist aber von Motiven keine Rede, sondern von „Gründen“. Sie hat nicht gesagt, daß der Beamte aus rassistischen Motiven den Ehemann des Mordopfers angeschossen hätte, sondern daß der Gatte „sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen" angeschossen wurde.

Sollten sich an dieser Stelle manche denken, das sei doch nur juristische Haarspalterei (anders natürlich als die faszinierenden Ausführungen der Staatsanwältin zu den Füllwörtern), ist anzumerken, daß es zwischen Gründen und Motiven einen gewaltigen Unterschied gibt. Gründe können persönlich sein – und wenn Dr. Schiffer gesagt hätte, „Der Polizist hat den Ehemann des Opfers aus rassistischen Gründen angeschossen“ wäre diese Deutung sogar naheliegend – müssen es aber nicht. Gründe können vollkommen losgelöst von Menschen und ihren bewußten Gedankengängen existieren. Gründe können in der Luft schweben.

Motive liegen immer in der Person.

Zum Beispiel: Grund einer Erschießung können u.a. die physikalisch-chemischen Eigenschaften des Projektils und der Zündmechanismus sein. Die sind für das Tötungsgeschehen ursächlich – ohne sie hätte sich der Schuß selbst beim besten bzw. schlimmsten Willen gar nicht erst lösen können. Motiv ist jedoch der präzise, persönliche Grund, weshalb eine bestimmte Person diesen ganz konkreten Tötungsvorsatz gefaßt hat. Gründe kann auch eine versehentliche Handlung haben. Motive haben nur vorsätzliche Taten.

Mit diesem kleinen Hopser will uns die Staatsanwaltschaft eine grobe Entstellung der verfahrensgegenständlichen Äußerung unterschummeln. Der im Passiv gefaßte Halbsatz über die möglichen Gründe des Fehlschusses mutiert zu einer im Aktiv gefaßten Behauptung, die dem Polizisten vorsätzliches, rassistisch motiviertes Tun vorwirft.

Nur so kann die StA Nürnberg anschließend behaupten:

„Darüber hinaus liegt in dieser Behauptung der Vorwurf eines erheblich schuldhaften Verhaltens, eine gravierende Verletzung seiner Dienstpflichten als Polizeibeamter und damit auch eine erhebliche Herabwürdigung als Polizeibeamter und als Mensch, da auch die persönliche Integrität des Beamten in Frage gestellt wird.“


Das ist eine Ungehörigkeit, die eines ehrengerichtlichen Verfahrens würdig ist. Entweder weiß die Staatsanwältin wirklich nicht, daß es diese angebliche Behauptung so nie gegeben hat – dann sind die bayerischen Staatsexamina eindeutig zu leicht – oder aber, sie weiß ganz genau, daß die wirkliche Äußerung von Dr. Schiffer ganz anders aussieht, und hat deshalb vorsätzlich Passiv/Gründe gegen Aktiv/Motive ausgetauscht, um eine unhaltbare Behauptung glaubwürdiger erscheinen zu lassen (wie ihr Amtshandeln in dem Fall zu beurteilen wäre, sei den Lesern überlassen).

Dieser Hopser ist aber nichts gegen den Weitsprung, der jetzt kommt:

„Insbesondere vor dem geschichtlichen Hintergrund bedeutet diese Behauptung eine Herabsetzung des eingreifenden Polizeibeamten auf die unterste sittlichste (sic) Stufe. Es ist für den Beamten in hohem Maße herabwürdigend, bezüglich seines Motivs (!) für die Schussabgabe in Verbindung gesetzt zu werden mit den Zielen bzw. Beweggründen, welche im Nationalsozialismus (!) vorherrschend waren bzw. hinsichtlich der Beweggründe für die Schussabgabe diesen gleichgestellt (!) zu werden. Eine schlimmere Herabwürdigung ist kaum denkbar…“


Stopp! Wo soll man hier überhaupt anfangen?

Nach Auffassung der StA Nürnberg ist es also besonders verwerflich, nach dem Bestehen rassistischer Einstellungen und Denkmuster in der aktuellen Gesellschaft zu fragen, weil diese „im Nationalsozialismus vorherrschend waren“. Ja, das war eine schreckliche Zeit, besonders für die Polizei. Wir erinnern uns alle lebhaft daran, wie im sog. Dritten Reich die Polizei immer wieder als Rassistenpack verfolgt wurde und bei jeder Gelegenheit als Sündenbock hinhalten mußte. Ein schlimmeres Los als die des Polizeibeamten im Nationalsozialismus ist sicherlich kaum vorstellbar. Daher auch die Parole: Nie wieder Polizeikritik!

Hat Sabine Schiffer irgendwas vom Nationalsozialismus gesagt? Hat sie auch nur nebenbei bemerkt, „Das ist ja genau so wie damals!“ Wenn nicht, was soll denn diese Behauptung, daß sie den Polizisten "hinsichtlich der Beweggründe für die Schussabgabe (den im Nationalsozialismus vorherrschenden Zielen und Beweggründen) gleichgestellt" habe? „Rassistisch (ist) gleichbedeutend mit ausländerfeindlich und fremdenfeindlich“, und jetzt soll das alles gleichbedeutend mit Hitler sein.

Das Denkschema sieht allem Anschein nach so aus:

(1) Schiffer hat gesagt, der Ehemann sei sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen angeschossen worden. (2) Das heißt, daß der Polizist bestimmt aus rassistischen Motiven geschossen hätte. (3) Das heißt wiederum, daß er nicht nur Polizist, Polizeibeamter und Ordnungsbeamter, sondern auch noch „ausländerfeindlich und fremdenfeindlich“ sei, (4) und das waren die Nazis bekanntlich auch. Schlußfolgerung: Die Schiffer hat diesen armen Polizisten als Nazi beschimpft!


Darauf, ob Schiffer die Unwahrheit gesagt hat, wird hier überhaupt kein Wert gelegt. Dieser Frage wird ein einziger Satz gewidmet: „Dass die Behauptung, die die Angeklagte in ihrem Interview aufgestellt hat, nicht zu treffend (sic!) ist, folgt aus den Einstellungsgründen der Einstellungsverfügung im Ermittlungsverfahren gegen den Polizeibeamten.“ Erstens ist anzumerken, daß es inzwischen um eine Behauptung geht, die von Dr. Schiffer so nie aufgestellt wurde. Zweitens ist die Staatsanwaltschaft, die sich deshalb als „objektivste Behörde der Welt“ bezeichnet, nach § 160 II StPO verpflichtet, auch „die zur Entlastung dienenden Umstände zu ermitteln“.

Entlastend wäre hier auch die realitätsnähere Deutung vorzutragen, daß es um bewußtes, vorsätzliches, rassistisch motiviertes Tun gar nicht ging, sondern um die unbewußten psychischen Einflüsse medialer Sachverhaltsdarstellungen, insbesondere der tagtäglichen Hetze gegen Muslime in den Massenmedien (Schiffers Forschungsschwerpunkt). Wurde im Ermittlungsverfahren gegen den Polizisten auch danach gefragt? Wenn nicht, ist die Einstellungsverfügung irrelevant. Für die Staatsanwältin ist diese Einstellungsverfügung eine Heilige Schrift – sie darf weder in Frage gestellt werden, noch darf man ihr widersprechen. Quod non est in acta…

Gerade wenn man meint, unverschämter geht’s nicht mehr, kommt die StA mit folgender Behauptung daher:

„Die Angeklagte, als Leiterin des Instituts für Medienverantwortung, ist es gewohnt, mit Worten umzugehen und war sich der Bedeutung und Tragweite ihrer Äußerung bewußt.“


Diese Angehörige der „objektivsten Behörde der Welt“ ist es sicherlich gewohnt, mit Worten umzugehen (wenngleich ihr das mit der Rechtschreibung noch nicht so recht gelingen will), und kann wohl kaum behaupten, sie sei sich nicht über den gewaltigen Unterschied zwischen der tatsächlichen Äußerung der Dr. Schiffer und der in der Revisionsbegründung zurechtgebastelten Version bewußt gewesen. Für manche ist Ironie nicht nur im lexikalischen Sinne ein Fremdwort.

Für den Fall, daß das Hohe Gericht von dem, was sie bisher zum besten gegeben hat nicht gerade beeindruckt ist, greift die StA Nürnberg auf die Behauptung zurück, Schiffers Vermutung stelle eine Formalbeleidigung dar, d.h.

„die deutlich über eine angemessene Interessenwahrnehmung hinausgehende und für diese nicht erforderliche Herabsetzung, die sich aus der Form oder den Umständen ergibt.“


Das wahrgenommene Interesse besteht darin – dies sei hinzugefügt, denn in der Revisionsbegründung wird das mit keinem Wort erwähnt – die genauen Ursachen und Bedingungen des Polizistenfehlschusses, durch den immerhin ein eindeutig als Araber erkennbarer, völlig unschuldiger Mensch schwer verletzt wurde, aufzuklären. Dabei drängt sich – für die meisten unbefangenen Betrachter – die Frage auf, ob sich die tagtägliche Hetze über die terroristischen Moslems und die „stille Islamisierung“ und dgl. womöglich unbewußt auf die Deutung eines nicht ganz eindeutigen Sachverhalts in einer Streßsituation dahingehend ausgewirkt haben könnte, daß von einer Täterschaft des um das Messer ringenden arabischen Ehemanns ausgegangen wurde.

Dieser Frage ist Dr. Schiffer so schonend nachgegangen wie nur möglich. Sie hat den Polizisten nicht als Rassist bezeichnet und hat vom Gebrauch der in so einer Fallkonstellation naheliegenden Schimpfnamen („Rassistensau“, „Nazischwein“ oder dgl. – das wären Formalbeleidigungen gewesen) nachweislich Abstand genommen. Sie hat die so gekennzeichnete und sowieso eindeutig erkennbare Vermutung aufgestellt, der Fehlschuss könne „rassistische Gründe“ haben.

Wenn das schon eine Formalbeleidigung ist, dann macht sich jeder Rassismusforscher strafbar. Wie soll man den Rassismus schon erforschen, wenn man keinen finden darf?

Herfried Münkler von der HU-Berlin hat im SPIEGEL – diesem sich ständig unterbietenden Glanzbeispiel der deutschen Quantitätspresse – endlich das geliefert, worauf ein ganz bestimmter Jahrgang der deutschen Generalität vergeblich wartete: Eine praktische Anleitung, wie man an der Ostfront siegen kann. Eine etwas weiter östliche Ostfront, aber Ostfront bleibt Ostfront, und es ist ja nie zu spät, Versäumtes nachzuholen.

Der tückische David heißt der Text, und darin wird ausführlich skizziert, wie man als fremde Besatzungsmacht dem einheimischen Widerstand den Garaus machen kann – wenn das der Führer gewußt hätte!

Aggressor zu sein, konstatiert Münkler, der diesen häßlichen Ausdruck tunlichst meidet und lieber von „Goliath“ redet, ist kein beneidenswertes Los. Man steht als schwer bewaffneter Migrant von irgendwelchen fremden Leuten umgeben, deren Sprache man nicht versteht, und die einen am allerliebsten gleich wieder loswerden möchten (das gebührliche Mitleid bringen diese tückischen Davids natürlich nie und nimmer auf). Schlimmer als der deutsche Soldat an der neuen Ostfront hat es kein abgeschobener Sinti.

„Eigentlich hatte Goliath schon verloren, bevor der Kampf begann, weil er eben Goliath war.

Immerhin hätte er präventiv handeln können: Argwöhnisch geworden, weil der Knabe zunächst im Bach nach Steinen suchte, hätte er antizipieren können, dass ihn ein Kiesel aus seiner Schleuder treffen und kampfunfähig machen könnte. Er hätte also, um dem zuvorzukommen, seinen Speer auf den Jugendlichen schleudern und ihn töten können. Doch dann hätte es geheißen, der Krieger Goliath habe ein unschuldiges Kind beim Spielen am Bach getötet. Das hätte nicht bloß sein Hässlichkeits-Image verstärkt, sondern ihn auch Ehre und Ansehen gekostet. Womöglich hätten sich sogar seien Kriegskameraden von ihm abgewandt(!!). Nicht als strahlender Sieger, sondern mit dem Odium des Kriegsverbrechens belastet, wäre er nach Hause zurückgekehrt.“


Hierbei ist vorsichtshalber anzumerken, daß das nicht satirisch gemeint ist. Der Münkler meint es wirklich ernst. Daß der Goliath das mit dem rechtswidrigen Überfall vielleicht besser gelassen hätte, fällt ihm natürlich nicht ein. Und Kriegsverbrecher zu sein, ist für ihn nur ein Image-Problem – das sind die erhabenen Werte des Abendlandes, die wir diesen primitiven Afghanern jetzt mühsam beibringen!  

Ja, selbst dann, wenn man den Widerstand besiegt, schreibt Münkler mit rührendem Selbstmitleid, hat man ein (aus der Geschichte wohl bekanntes) „Legitimationsproblem“. Für die Bevölkerung ist man ja immer noch die fremde Besatzungsmacht, die ihre Landsleute umgebracht hat, und die Überlebenden der Gewalt käuflicher Massenmörder unterworfen hat, und zwar selbst dann, wenn man sich „Wohlwollen erkaufen“ will, indem man seinen Verpflichtungen nach dem 4. Genfer Abkommen durch die Errichtung einiger Schulen und Polykliniken teilweise nachkommt. Der Undank dieser wilden Ostvölker kennt wahrlich keine Grenzen.

Dafür hat Münkler jetzt die Lösung:

„Materielle Hilfe für die afghanische Bevölkerung muss konditioniert sein, verknüpft mit eindeutigen Loyalitätsbeweisen (sprich: Beweisen der Kollaborationsbereitschaft). Im Idealfall konkurrieren dann in einem Distrik die Dörfer, die sich dem Westen angeschlossen haben, mit denen, in denen die Gegner des Westens das Sagen haben."


Mit anderen Worten: Wir scheißen auf die Genfer Abkommen! Ärztliche und sonstige Grundversorgung kriegen nur die Käuflichen. Wer kollaboriert und denunziert, dem soll es einigermaßen gutgehn. Wer aber die Besatzung ablehnt, soll verrecken. „Es muss sichtbar werden, dass sich die Entscheidung für den Westen lohnt und die gegen ihn einen hohen Preis hat. Kopf und Seele kann man nur gewinnen, wenn der Leib etwas zu verlieren hat.“ Wenn man einen an den Eiern packt, folgen Kopf und Seele gleich danach, wie es der Stalin mal so schön auf den Punkt gebracht hat.

Münkler hat recht: Man muß aus den Fehlern der Vergangenheit lernen. Hätte sich damals die Kollaboration mehr gelohnt, wäre die letzte deutsche Goliathkampagne vielleicht anders ausgegangen.

Käuflichkeit muß sich wieder lohnen! Nur so kann Münklers demokratischer Verfassungsstaat verhindern, daß sich die Geschichte wiederholt.

In seinem neuerlichen Beitrag im Online-Cerebrolytikum Achse des Guten („Israels kleine Helfer“) hat der von der NPD gefeierte Publizist Henryk M. Broder in einer Sache definitiv recht: Die Neue Rheinische Zeitung taugt nicht zum Einwickeln toter Fische. Da kann man ihm uneingeschränkt zustimmen. Die Achse des Guten eignet sich auch nicht zum Regenschutz. (more…)

In der strafrechtlichen Praxis kann die Bedeutung des Ehrenschutzes mit dem Gewicht seiner theoretischen Ableitungen schwerlich mithalten: Die Anzeigebereitschaft ist gering, die Mehrzahl der Anzeigeerstatter wird ohne größeres Federlesen auf den Privatklageweg verwiesen und erleidet dort nach Zahlung von Sicherheitsleistung (§ 379 StPO), Gebührenvorschuß (§ 379a StPO), Kostenvorschuß für das Sühneverfahren (§ 380 StPO) und des zur Erhebung einer formgerechten Klage idR erforderlichen RA-Honorars regelmäßig Schiffbruch (§ 383 II StPO), in hartnäckigen Fällen eine Sonderbehandlung zur Abwehr des Querulantentums. Eine geringe Anzahl erlangt Genugtuung in Form von Beschlüssen nach § 153, 153a StPO. Für das Legalitätsprinzip und das gesetzliche Normalverfahren bleibt ein kleiner Kern von Taten übrig, unter deren Opfern Amtsträger und öffentlich wirkende Personen überräpresentiert sind.
-Tröndle/Fischer, StGB, 52. Aufl., Vor § 185, Rn 68, Hervorhebung von mir

Der Fall Schiffer


Das Mühlenkombinat „Deutsche Justiz“ mahlt bekanntlich langsam, aber sicher. Wenn Mehlbedarf angezeigt wird, kann es durchaus etwas dauern, bis die Bestellung bearbeitet wird, aber wenn Mehl bestellt wird, wird auch geliefert.

Geliefert wird allerdings nicht selten Hackfleisch.

Aber gemahlen ist gemahlen, und wir sollten uns freuen, daß wir überhaupt mit irgendwas beliefert werden.

Das sieht ungefähr so aus
:

Eine ägyptische Apothekerin holt einen Mann vor Gericht, der sie belästigt hat. Dieser üble Zeitgenosse trägt dem Hohen Gericht vor, daß er Muslime haßt und diese „Monster“ am liebsten allesamt gleich rausgeschmissen wüßte. Vor dem Betreten des Gerichtssaals wird er trotzdem nicht auf Waffen kontrolliert. Das Heiligtum des mitgebrachten Rucksacks wird auch nicht verletzt. Niemand kommt auf den Gedanken, daß es vielleicht doch nicht schlecht wäre, Vorkehrungen für den Fall zu treffen, daß der Angeklagte es mit seinen Drohungen ernst meint, mit der Ausnahme des Angeklagten selbst, der für diesen Fall extra ein Messer mitgebracht hat.

Das er vor Gericht auch ordnungsgemäß zum Einsatz bringt. Da es keine Beamten im Saal gibt, die für die Abwehr derartiger Gefahren zuständig wären, muß der Ehemann der Apothekerin selbst versuchen, sie vor dem Mann zu verteidigen, der sie abstechen will. Der erst nach Angriffsbeginn in den Gerichtssaal bestellte Polizist macht zur Klärung des Sachverhalts sofort von seiner Schußwaffe Gebrauch, und zielt dabei auf den Gatten. Indes stirbt die Apothekerin.

Nach diesem Vorfall drängten sich unbequeme Fragen u.a. über das dem Sicherheitsdenken der Dresdner Justiz offenbar zugrundeliegende „Laissez-Faire-Prinzip“ auf. Hinzu kam eine Erlanger Medienwissenschaftlerin und Rassismusforscherin, Dr. Sabine Schiffer, die vermutete, die in einer Krisensituation spontan getroffene Entscheidung des eingreifenden Beamten, auf den Ehemann zu zielen statt auf den Täter, könne womöglich etwas mit dem rassistischen Subtext einer Gesellschaft zu tun haben, in der Muslime ständig verteufelt und entmenschlicht werden. Ihre Bemerkungen ernteten Morddrohungen aus den üblichen Kreisen, die sie auch ordnungsgemäß anzeigte.

Das Mühlenkombinat „Deutsche Justiz“ hat auf die Bemerkungen von Dr. Schiffer gehört und sofort ein Strafverfahren – die ultima ratio der repressiven Staatsmacht –   eingeleitet.

Gegen sie.

Mit dem Strafbefehl des Amtsgerichts Erlangen (Az. Cs 404 Js 45405/09) wird Dr. Schiffer zur Last gelegt, gegen den Gummiparagraphen § 186 StGB („Üble Nachrede“) verstoßen zu haben. Angedroht wird eine Geldstrafe in Höhe von 6000,00 EUR bzw. zwei Monate Gefängnis.

Grundlage des Strafbefehls ist ein Interview von Dr. Schiffer mit dem iranischen Nachrichtensender IRIB, in dem es in einem Nebensatz hieß, daß der Polizist „sicherlich aus rassistischen Gründen“ nicht den Irren mit dem 30 cm langen Messer, sondern den zur Hilfe geeilten Ehemann des Opfers anschoss.

Hierbei handele es sich, so der Strafbefehl, um eine „unwahre Behauptung“, die „geeignet ist [den Polizisten] verächtlich zu machen und in der öffentlichen Meinung herabzuwürdigen“.

Die Unwahrheit der Vermutung der Dr. Schiffer stehe fest, da der Polizist behaupte, nicht aus rassistischen Gründen gehandelt zu haben und die Staatsanwaltschaft Dresden ihm dies abnehme.

QED.

„Diese Einlassung des Polizeibeamten kann nicht widerlegt werden“, verkündet der Strafbefehl. Stimmt. Nachgewiesen werden kann sie natürlich auch nicht.

Somit liegt dieser Verwaltungsmaßnahme der politischen Strafjustiz die gängige Auffassung zugrunde, man dürfe jeden bestrafen, der einem anderen verwerfliche Beweggründe unterstelle, wenn dieser die Unterstellung abstreite. „Unwahr“ heißt – wie im deutschen Äußerungsrecht so oft –  „strittig“.

Den Vier-Wörter-Nebensatz, für den Dr. Schiffer ins Gefängnis soll, hat sie in einer anschließend herausgegebenen Presseerklärung klargestellt:

Bei der von mir geäußerten Vermutung, dass der Polizist aus rassistischen Gründen auf den Ehemann des Opfers und nicht auf den wahren Angreifer gezielt haben könnte, handelt es sich um einen Erklärungsversuch, der auf den unbewussten Folgewirkungen medialer Sachverhaltsdarstellungen basiert. Wenn arabisch-stämmige Mitbürger in den Medien undifferenziert immer wieder als potenzielle Gewalttäter, Terroristen oder "Ehrenmörder" dargestellt werden, kann diese Form der Mediendarstellung auch das Unterbewusstsein der Medienkonsumenten und deren tatsächliches Handeln in Stresssituationen beeinflussen.

Es ist heute unbestritten, dass es über Jahre hinweg eine mediale Berieselung sowohl in der Berichterstattung als auch im Unterhaltungsbereich in Bezug auf Muslime und arabisch-stämmige Menschen gab. Deshalb kann man auch davon ausgehen, dass diese kollektiv verankerten Bilder in einer Situation, in der man nicht in Ruhe überlegen und einen Sachverhalt objektiv prüfen kann, eben zu einer spontanen Fehlentscheidung über mögliche Täter und Opfer führen kann. Es war daher nie meine Absicht, dem Polizeibeamten eine von Grund auf rassistische Einstellung oder gar vorsätzliches Handeln zu nterstellen. Ich wollte lediglich auf die Folgewirkungen medialer Darstellungen hinweisen und die gesamtgesellschaftliche Aufgabe anmahnen, über derlei rassistische Fehlinterpretationen und deren Begünstigung sowohl durch Mediendarstellungen als auch durch politische Diskurse aufzuklären. Dieser Aufgabe sollten wir uns entschlossen stellen. Sie geht uns alle an.

D.h., bei ihrer Vermutung ging es – wie es jedem längst hätte klar sein müssen, der nicht unbedingt etwas anderes hineinlesen will – nicht darum, diesen einzelnen Polizisten als bewußt handelnden Muslimhasser abzustempeln, sondern darum, daß er, wie jeder andere in der Gesellschaft, mit entmenschlichenden und verteufelnden Darstellungen von Muslimen nur so bombardiert wird, was sich ja nachweislich unbewußt auf mentale Sachverhaltsdeutungen und spontane Handlungen auswirken kann.

Diese Klarstellung des bereits Eindeutigen war der Staatsanwaltschaft Erlangen übrigens bei Abfassung des Strafbefehls längst bekannt. Die Presseerklärung wird sogar unter der Rubrik „Sonstige Beweismittel“ aufgeführt.

Selbstverständlich kann auch diese Einlassung der Dr. Schiffer nicht widerlegt werden. Im Strafbefehl selbst sind keine Ausführungen zur Bedeutung dieses Beweismittels zu finden. Überhaupt ist im Strafbefehl kein Indiz dafür ersichtlich, daß die Staatsanwaltschaft ihrer Pflicht zur Ermittlung „auch der zur Entlastung dienenden Umstände“ nach § 160 II StPO nachgekommen ist, es sei denn, die StA meint, durch die Aufführung der Presseerklärung als „sonstiges Beweismittel“ ohne inhaltliche Auseinandersetzung dieser Pflicht bereits in vollem Maße genügt zu haben.

Wiedersehen mit dem Minenfeld

Es wäre ein verhängnisvoller Fehler, sich von Berichten über Einzelfallunrecht zu dem Glauben verleiten zu lassen, daß es sich bei Fällen wie der Fall von Dr. Sabine Schiffer um Ausnahmen von der Regel „Meinungsfreiheit“ handele, daß in solchen Fällen das freiheitlich-demokratische Strafrecht zu politischen Zwecken mißbraucht werde. Ebenso falsch und gefährlich wäre es, sich aufgrund eines etwaigen Freispruchs in diesem oder in anderen Fällen vorzumachen, daß die Gefahrenspitze gekappt und die Meinungsfreiheit „wiederhergestellt“ worden sei.

Unter „Mißbrauch“ versteht man den zweckfremden Einsatz eines sonst akzeptablen Mittels. Die Angriffe auf kritische Stimmen durch die Justiz sind aber gar nicht zweckfremd, sondern fest im deutschen Recht verankert. Wozu dient denn sonst der Einsatz der ultima ratio der repressiven Staatsgewalt gegen Tatbestände wie „üble Nachrede“, „Beleidigung“, „Verunglimpfung des Andenkens Verstorbener“, „Verunglimpfung des Staates und seiner Symbole“? Wozu dient denn sonst eine „Rechtsprechung“, in der das Wort „unwahr“ ohne ernstzunehmende Beweisführung einfach so hingekritzelt werden darf, wenn eine Äußerung mit dem ästhetischen Empfinden von Richtern und Staatsanwälten unvereinbar ist? Wozu dient sonst ein „Persönlichkeitsrecht“, das der Selbstbeweihräucherung der Mächtigen Verfassungsrang gewährt und die Meinungs-, Presse- und Kunstfreiheit nicht als Kern der menschlichen Persönlichkeit und der Menschenwürde, sondern als zweitrangige Faktoren betrachtet?

Solange diese Gummiparagraphen und die dazu passende Elastedoktrin nicht abgeschafft werden, kann von Meinungsfreiheit keine Rede sein, sondern allenfalls von Meinungsprivileg. Solange dem Staat die Macht eingeräumt wird, Äußerungen aufgrund ihres politischen-ideologischen Inhalts unter Strafe zu stellen, wird es immer wieder Fälle wie den der Dr. Schiffer geben.

Wie ich es schon einmal geschrieben habe:

Mir ist an Vorschlägen für „sachgerechtere“ Überprüfungsmaßstäben nichts gelegen. Solche Maßstäbe gibt es gar nicht; jeder auch so neutral und objektiv klingende Maßstab läuft letzten Endes auf das ästhetische Empfinden von Polizei, Staatsanwaltschaft und Richterschaft, und damit auf völlige Waffenungleichheit hinaus. Die einen haben die Staatsgewalt, die andern nur das Wort.

Jede Ausprägung eines solchen Systems – mit den Lippenbekenntnissen zur Meinungsfreiheit und dem Heraufbeschwören „höherer Werte“ – ist zu bekämpfen. Da hilft eine Feinabstimmung – damit nur die „Richtigen“ eingelocht oder mit vernichtenden Geldstrafen um ihre Existenz gebracht werden, überhaupt nicht weiter, denn es gibt keine „Richtigen“. Das ist Landschaftsplege im Minenfeld. Gefragt sind aber Minenräumfahrzeuge.

Wie das gehen soll? Erstens gehören reine Äußerungs- und Propaganda„delikte“ aus dem Strafrecht gänzlich ausgeklammert, solange die an Sicherheit grenzende Wahrscheinlichkeit eines sofortigen Gewaltausbruchs bzw. die vom Täter nachweislich beabsichtigte sofortige tatsächliche Auslösung von Gewalt nicht tatbestandlich vorausgesetzt wird. Im Zivilrecht wäre eindeutig vorzuschreiben, daß Kläger, die Personen der Zeitgeschichte sind, schon im Vorfeld der Hauptverhandlung nachweisen müssen, daß die angegriffene Äußerung unwahr ist und daß der Beklagte die Unwahrheit der Äußerung kannte oder nur infolge grober Fahrlässigkeit nicht kannte. Liegt keine nachgewiesenermaßen unwahre Behauptung vor, soll die Klage sofort kostenpflichtig abgewiesen werden, denn schon die Einleitung eines Prozesses stellt eine äußerst wirksame Einschüchterungsmaßnahme dar, der nur zum Teil durch eine letztendliche Abweisung abgeholfen werden kann.

Dann wird man ohne Erröten von Meinungsfreiheit sprechen können.


Nächste Seite »