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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Fuel For The Pollard Controversy

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Many Washington officials have long spun the story that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard did immense harm to this country’s national security by stealing vital American military and intelligence secrets. Thus, the U.S. intelligence community has always opposed Mr. Pollard’s release.

(Most notoriously, then-CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign if President Clinton followed through on his reported plan to release Mr. Pollard in return for Israeli concessions at the Wye Plantation negotiations; Mr. Clinton backed off on releasing Pollard but pocketed the concessions anyway.)

In any event, it was maintained that Mr. Pollard refused to disclose the full extent of his spying which was said to have included turning over to his Israeli handlers the names of U.S. agents around the world, information said to have ended up in Soviet hands because of Soviet penetration of Israeli intelligence.

Newly released declassified documents, however, paint a significantly different picture.

The documents primarily relate to the 1987 CIA damage assessment report based on its interrogation of Mr. Pollard. It records that Mr. Pollard’s spying was focused, at Israel’s request, on information the U.S. had about the Soviets and Arab states, not U.S. military secrets. In particular this involved gathering data on Syria’s chemical weapons program, Pakistan’s nuclear program and Egypt’s missile program. According to the documents, “The Israelis did not request or receive from Pollard intelligence concerning some of the most sensitive U.S. national security resources…. The Israelis never expressed interest in U.S. military activities, plans, capabilities or equipment. Likewise, they did not ask for intelligence on U.S. communications per se.”

The documents also note that Mr. Pollard’s CIA debriefers said he cooperated “in good faith” and that polygraph examinations “tended to confirm that his cooperation with U.S. authorities was bona fide.” As a consequence, they were confident they were aware of the full extent of the information Mr. Pollard shared with Israel.

The documents also debunk the widespread belief that a secret memorandum submitted to the sentencing judge sealed Mr. Pollard’s fate. Rather, he received a life sentence despite a plea agreement calling for a much shorter term because he gave an interview to The Jerusalem Post in violation of the agreement. (Mr. Pollard’s attorneys deny that the interview violated the agreement.)

There are, to be sure, negatives in the report for Mr. Pollard: as was widely reported from the beginning of the story, his spying for Israel was done on a for-pay basis, and there is the unexplained assertion in a mostly redacted section in the report that “Pollard’s espionage has put at risk important U.S. intelligence and foreign-policy interests.” Perhaps this alludes to the Soviets having indirectly deduced U.S. information gathering techniques from the data on Arab countries.

But in the 28th year of Mr. Pollard’s imprisonment, and especially in light of what the declassified documents reveal, that should now be beside the point.

As Lawrence Korb, a U.S. deputy secretary of defense at the time of Mr. Pollard’s arrest, has said, the release of the CIA report “underscores the case for Pollard’s immediate release…. We knew all along that the information that Pollard passed concerned Arab countries, and not the U.S., but the release of this official document confirming the facts makes it much easier to bring a speedy end to this tragedy. After 28 years is time for Pollard to be released and to go home now.”

We agree.

Pollard Still Imprisoned After 27 Years: An Object Lesson for Jews?

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case. Click for larger version.

Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case.

I haven’t written about Jonathan Pollard in a while. I’m prompted to do so again by two things: a recent news report that Pollard was taken to the hospital after collapsing in his cell (he is now back in jail), and the release today of formerly classified documents about his case.

Pollard, a Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested for passing classified information to Israel in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment, when the government reneged on a plea deal. The judge in the case ruled after receiving confidential information about the damage that Pollard’s spying allegedly caused from former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Weinberger’s memo to the court has now been declassified, but unfortunately the content that persuaded the judge to send Pollard to prison for life has been redacted, so we still don’t know exactly what Pollard is supposed to have done that justified his hugely disproportionate sentence. You can read more about the case here.

Some commentators think that Pollard was accused of being the source of information which led to the deaths of American agents at the hands of the Soviet KGB, when in fact this was provided by traitors Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. But this can’t be determined from what’s left of Weinberger’s memo.

One interesting item that appears in the declassified documents are details about some of what Pollard provided:

The documents provided information on PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.

The government has not provided any additional information that makes the reasons for keeping Pollard in prison clear. While he certainly is guilty of transmitting classified information to an ally, his is the only case of this kind that has resulted in a life sentence. I can’t believe, if the government actually has information to justify the sentence, that it could not be provided in a manner that would be convincing without revealing damaging secrets.

There are at least two other possible reasons for not releasing Pollard that come to mind: either:

  1. Pollard knows something which still, after 27 years, would embarrass the CIA or some other government entity or official; or,
  2. The administration believes that it is absolutely necessary to send a message that Jewish disloyalty will be treated with maximum harshness.

I’m going with number 2.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Palestinian Statehood, Terror, and the US Election (Pt. 2)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Whenever an insurgent group resorts to openly unjust means, its actions become incontestably terroristic. Even if the ritualistic Palestinian claim of a hostile Israeli “occupation” were somehow reasonable rather than invented, the corresponding right of entitlement to oppose Israel “by any means necessary” would be false.

Significantly, any openly unjust means would remain an obvious expression of terrorism, even if these means were sponsored by a now accepted sovereign state. Alternatively, in these post-independence circumstances, such means could also become a war crime.

Whatever the particular issue at hand, international law always has determinable form and content. Its principles and practices cannot be fashioned and re-fashioned by individual terror groups or by terror-supporting states in order to satisfy certain presumed geo-political interests. This is especially the case wherever terror violence purposely targets evidently fragile and vulnerable civilian populations.

Whatever their cause, national liberation movements that fail to meet the test of just means can never be protected as lawful or legitimate. Even if we could accept the intrinsically spurious argument that Hamas and/or Fatah are somehow able to fulfill the explicit criteria of “national liberation” movements, it would remain perfectly obvious that they still do not meet the recognizable standards of discrimination, proportionality, and military necessity. These authoritative standards of humanitarian international law are made most prominently applicable to insurgent organizations by the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and also by the two 1977 Protocols to the Conventions.

These core standards are also binding upon all combatants by virtue of broader customary and conventional international law, including Article 1 of the Preamble to the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907. This rule, generally called the “Martens Clause,” makes all persons responsible for upholding the “laws of humanity” and, reciprocally, the “dictates of public conscience.”

Under international law, the ends can never justify the means. As in the case of war between states, every use of force by insurgents must be judged twice, once with regard to the justness of the objective (in this case, a Palestinian state that seeks to be built upon the ruins of a correspondingly dismembered Israel), and once with regard to the justness of the means used toward achieving that annihilatory objective.

In law, murderers of mothers and young children who take an undisguised delight in the blood of their victims can never be “freedom fighters.” Indeed, if ever they should become entitled to such a laudatory designation, we would then have to recalculate the authentic meaning of international law. More precisely, we would have to concede that such law was really nothing more than a quaintly veneered authorization for unhindered evil.

American and European supporters of a Palestinian state continue to presume that Palestine would become an agreeable part of a two-state Solution. For these optimistic believers in “peace,” this 23rd Arab state will gratefully coexist with a still-standing Jewish state. Both U.S. presidential contenders should understand this presumption is plainly contradicted by the undisguised expectations of leading Palestinians, and is regularly dismissed everywhere else in the Arab/Islamic world.

Again, consider cartography. The official Map of Palestine at the PA website continues to include all of Israel. Significantly, there is only one state on this map. As readers may already know, it is not Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964, three years before there were any “occupied territories.” What, exactly, was the PLO attempting to “liberate” between 1964 and 1967? There is no more important or primary question.

In all law, terrorist crimes mandate universal cooperation in both apprehension and punishment. As required punishers of “grave breaches” under a still-decentralized regime of international law, all states are required to search out and prosecute, or to extradite, individual terrorist perpetrators. In absolutely no circumstances are states permitted to characterize terrorists as “freedom fighters.” Any such characterization would reject the fixed obligations of international criminal law.

In absolutely no circumstances are states permitted to support terror violence or war crimes against other states.

This is most emphatically true for the United States, which incorporates all of international law as the “supreme law of the land” in Article 6 of the Constitution, and also in certain Supreme Court decisions. Though almost no one seems to be familiar with such an “arcane” history, this American nation was formed by its Founding Fathers according to the timeless legal principles of Blackstone’s Commentaries and in conformance with antecedent and universal Natural Law.

Emory University Apologizes for 2 Decades of Anti-Semitism at Dental School

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Emory University issued a formal apology to Jewish dental students who attended the school between 1948 and 1961 and faced anti-Semitism.

University President James Wagner delivered the apology at a special event Wednesday night that included 32 former students, now in their 70s and 80s, of the Atlanta school. The students had received failing grades, were thrown out of school or were forced to repeat classes only because they were Jewish.

“I hereby express in the deepest, strongest terms, Emory’s regret for the anti-Semitic practices of the dental school during those years,” Wagner said. “We at Emory also regret that it has taken this long for those events to be properly acknowledged. I am sorry; we are sorry.”

Among the 450 people present was Perry Brickman, a retired oral surgeon from Atlanta who was kicked out of Emory in 1952 along with his three Jewish classmates and whose subsequent research about anti-Semitism at Emory was an impetus for the apology. Brickman spent many years interviewing fellow Emory students who faced discrimination, and his work was featured in the documentary film “From Silence to Recognition: Confronting Discrimination in Emory’s Dental School History.”

The documentary was shown last year to Emory’s board of trustees, who decided there needed to be a public apology, Emory University Vice President Gary Hauk told JTA.

“When we saw Brickman’s documentary, it was evident he had a story about discrimination — one that needed to be confronted and needed an apology,” Hauk said. “It’s a regrettable part of the institution’s history, and it’s shameful that it did happen. But there’s a renewed agreement to make sure discrimination like this doesn’t happen at our school again.”

The documentary film also was shown at Wednesday’s event.

“I was a good student, I did my work and got good grades, but I still got a letter that I was kicked out,” Brickman told JTA in an interview. “The whole thing was so embarrassing. But there was nothing we could do about it, so we just moved on and didn’t speak to each other. Nobody in the community wanted to do anything. We were dealing with immigration issues and hate speech from the KKK, so we didn’t want to make waves.”

The anti-Semitic policies at the dental school have been attributed to its then-dean, John Buhler. In 1962, the Anti-Defamation League presented the university with data showing that 65 percent of Emory’s Jewish students faced trouble – a sign, the organization said, of obvious discrimination. The university at the time denied being anti-Semitic, but shortly after Buhler resigned as the school dean.

“We are grateful to President Wagner for his forthright leadership in acknowledging and apologizing for a policy that has haunted many of the Jewish students throughout their long lives,” Bill Nigut of the ADL said in a statement this week. “We are now hearing powerful, painful stories of how they came to doubt their own abilities, were viewed as failures by parents and friends, and had to rethink careers — all because the dental school dean at the time was an anti-Semite, and other administrators and faculty either ignored or abetted his prejudice.”

IDF Soldiers Complain: Haredi Soldiers Received $5,000 Each in Illegal Grants

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

On Tuesday, soldiers in the IDF Kfir brigade sent a letter to the office of Chief of Staff Benny Gantz complaining about discrimination between soldiers serving in the Haredi Netzach Yehuda battalion and other soldiers in the brigade, Walla reports.

According to the soldiers’ claims it appears that recently soldiers serving in the Haredi battalion each received a grant of $5,000 from an American philanthropist.

According to one of the soldiers that discovered the occurrence, the Haredi soldiers received a one-time grant of $3,000 towards home furnishing and $2,000 towards general shopping for their families. The soldier claims that other soldiers, especially married secular soldiers, have been discriminated against since they are not eligible for this grant.

According to IDF orders, any contribution made for IDF soldiers has to go through the Association for the Wellbeing of Israeli Soldiers which distributes the money under the supervision of the Office of Human Resources personnel department.

Soldiers further claimed that senior Netzach Yehuda officers were in attendance at a charity event on behalf of the Haredi soldiers which took place two months ago at a Jerusalem hotel.

“The outcome was that married, non-Haredi soldiers do not receive a $5,000 grant and that the IDF supports this discrimination,” said a brigade soldier.

IDF sources report that the matter is being investigated by the secretary of IDF High Command.

The IDF spokesperson responded: “When the complaint letter is received, it will receive a direct reply. Army orders forbid direct contributions to individual soldiers or a unit which do not go through the Association for the Wellbeing of the Soldier or the Libi Fund.”

Jury Throws Book at Muslim Hotel Owner for Throwing Jewish Guests Out of her Pool

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

After five days of deliberation, a Santa Monica jury announced on Wednesday that Shangri-La Hotel owner Tamie Adaya committed anti-Semitic discrimination when she uttered her now-famous cry, “Get the [expletive] Jews out of my pool!

The jury found for the plaintiffs on multiple acts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, malice, fraud and oppression, and violations of the California Civil Rights Act.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The 18 individual plaintiffs and one corporate plaintiff were awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages, but the final amount Adaya and her company will owe is expected to go much higher, because the individual plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages on many of the counts.  In addition, attorney James Turken is entitled to collect attorney’s fees from the defendant under the Unruh Act – California’s Civil Rights Act, which specifically outlaws discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Turken was quite emotional after the verdicts were read Wednesday evening.  He had just been through two of the most draining experiences of his life.  For one thing, Turken is a corporate defense litigator, and so to him this civil rights case, especially representing plaintiffs, was largely unfamiliar territory.  He took on the case, he told the Jewish Press, because when he learned the facts he became “outraged,” and because he was also “incredibly impressed” with the plaintiffs.

On Friday, when the case went to the jury for consideration, Turken went to the home of his younger brother.  He then sat by his side as Dr. David Turken was succumbing to defeat in his years-long battle with Leukemia.  Jim Turken said that his brother had been following the lawsuit closely, despite his dwindling strength.  Even at the very end, when David was drifting in and out of consciousness, he kept asking his brother whether the jury had come back yet.

Turken could not say enough good things about his clients, the plaintiffs.  He praised them on multiple occasions as “the very best we have to offer, these are young people trying to make a difference, who volunteer for all kinds of charities.”  He told The Jewish Press that “as a Jew, I took this case very personally, but the plaintiffs made it a pleasure – I was honored to represent them.”

Ari Ryan, the lead plaintiff in the case, explained why he felt it was so important to persevere through the long, tortuous legal proceeding. Ryan was one of the organizers of the Friends of the IDF event at the Shangri-La Hotel, and as the events unfolded, as the Jews with wristbands were being herded out of the pool, “the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on me.”  He said, “evil succeeds if good men and women don’t stand up and do what is right.”

Well, the Shangri-la plaintiffs did what was right, and in the end, their conviction and hard work were validated.

Tamie Adaya was not in the court room when the verdicts were read, but she is required to be present during the punitive damages phase which starts on Thursday.

Florida Woman Sues El Al for Making her Give her Seat to a Haredi Man

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Debra Ryder, a Jewish resident of Florida and an El Al passenger, is asking the carrier for 50,000 shekel ($12,500) in compensation for allegedly switching her seat on a flight from the U.S., after a Haredi man refused to sit next to her. She claims that the flight attendant moved her without her expressed consent to a seat in the back of the plane, a location that did not meet her medical needs.

Ryder is seeking the compensation for emotional distress and gender discrimination.

“In his quiet way, the flight steward hinted that they were religious, that they saw me, and that they were not prepared to get up from their seats,” Ryder told IDF Radio. “It was clear that the flight attendant did not know how to deal with the situation. They didn’t even ask me and I was humiliated. If they had asked, it would have felt different. I never thought I’d have such an experience.”

Ryder’s attorney Orly Erez-Likhovsky, of the Israel Religious Action Center, sent a letter to El Al demanding that it set clear instructions to employees on how to act in such cases.

El Al said in response, “El Al flight attendants, who are in the front line of service with passengers, are faced with varied requests, and try to help as much as they can. The passenger’s complaint will be examined and dealt with.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/florida-woman-sues-el-al-for-making-her-give-her-seat-to-a-haredi-man/2012/08/13/

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