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Feb-17-2012 16:57printcommentsVideo

The Destructive Madness of Extremism: First McCarthyism, Then Radical Zionism

Time to choose up sides, folks: Are you with us or against us?

Israel political prisoner

(CHICAGO) - The right-wing government leaders of the state of Israel, bolstered by their powerful US allies, are trembling with excitement at the prospect of a military attack against Iran.

Everything is in place for Iraq Redux. This time the Extremists are determined to get it right. No ground troops, just highly sophisticated bombing runs that will target nuclear targets in Iran.

The American public is being manipulated by Israel’s Zionist extremists to believe that Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear arms which will be able to “wipe Israel off the map”.

Time to choose up sides, folks: Are you with us or against us?

Republican candidates for president, congressional Republicans and conservative Democrats, with the active encouragement of the always predictable Israel Lobby, are all spoiling for a fight for “our side”.

Truth of the matter, as Paul Pillar reported in the website , The National Interest, Israel has already launched its war with Iran through stealth assassinations of Iranian scientists, who may have, or more likely, did not have, a part in developing nuclear military capability. Pillar’s source is a report by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, developed for NBC news:

Although the assassinations of Iranian scientists have until now been followed by no indication of responsibility other than smug comments of satisfaction from officials of the most likely foreign state perpetrator, now NBC offers something more specific.

According to a report by Richard Engel and Robert Windrem, the assassinations have been the joint work of Israel and the Iranian cult-cum-terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq.

According to the report, the partnership has involved Israel providing financing, training and arms to the MEK to accomplish the hits, as well as to commit other acts of violent sabotage inside Iran. The story tracks with accusations from officials of the Iranian government, who say they base most of what they know on interrogations and captured materials from a failed assassination attempt in 2010.

Such accusations by themselves would be easy to dismiss, of course, as more of the regime’s propaganda. But the NBC story cites two senior U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, as confirming the story. A third official said “it hasn’t been clearly confirmed yet,” although like the others he denied any U.S. involvement. The Israeli foreign ministry declined comment; the MEK denied the story.

No one is fooled by the Israeli denials. In fact, as the NBC report suggests, Israel deflects attention away from its involvement in all things nefarious, by suggesting that Iran is the aggressor here with its “attacks” on Israeli diplomats, a case dutifully made by the Washington Post here and here.

Juan Cole, a Middle East scholar, writing on his Informed Comment blog, is not persuaded by the Israeli spin. He finds Indian sources more credible than Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman:

American media that just parrot notorious thug, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in [these] unlikely allegation are allowing themselves to be used for propaganda. Why not interview Indian authorities on this matter? They are on the ground and have excellent forensic (“CSI”) abilities. Stop being so lazy and blinkered; that isn’t journalism.

Deflect attention from reality, create fear, and take the “high road”. This is the way extremists operate. It has always been so. We need only to travel back to the post WWII days of the 1940s and 1950s, when the US public was transfixed by a Washington drama that pitted suspected Communists against the American Way of Life.

The drama was launched in 1947 Congressional hearings.

Looking back to those days,the extremist side of that conflict became known in 1950 as McCarthyism, after Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, a Republican who served in the US Senate from 1947 until 1957. He became a media star because he was horribly simplistic as he peddled fear. Finally, the Senator overreached and ran afoul of an honest judge named Joseph Welch. After that he spiraled downward.

But for a time it was the McCarthy era, where the sides were clearly defined, no room for ambiguity. The times demanded good versus evil, darkness against light, the powerful against the weak. This 4 minute film clip below, from the 1947 hearings, shows both “friendly” and “unfriendly” witnesses. One of the friendly witnesses was an actor named Ronald Reagan, who later became President of the United States.

Those with the power of the Law behind them asked the question: “Are you now or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party”? It was a question which, with the wrong answer, could send a person to jail.

Ten of those who testified as “unfriendly” witnesses, became known as the “Hollywood Ten.” Because they originally refused to cooperate with House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) they were cited for contempt of congress.

They were subsequently fired and blacklisted by the Motion Picture Association of America. All ten served up to a year in prison, were fined $1,000 and faced great difficulty working in Hollywood again.

Some worked under assumed names. The blacklist was finally broken in 1960 when Dalton Trumbo, an unrepentant member of the Hollywood Ten, was publicly acknowledged as the screenwriter of the films Spartacus and Exodus. (Could Trumbo have anticipated that the Israel he celebrated in his script for Exodus, would one day be asking “Are you now, or have you ever been”?)

The oppression of the Hollywood Ten operated on a McCarthyite battle of simplistic good versus evil. The battle is repeated whenever extremists hold absolute power, or think they do. Give the “wrong” answer and you are doomed to an indefinite time of incarceration, or at the very least, a permanent banishment from polite society.

Fast forward to the Palestine of 2011-12, where a dying young Palestinian man lies chained to a hospital bed in Israel’s Ofer Prison in Palestine. In an earlier Wall Writings posting, I examined what happened to bring this young man into the Israeli military prison.

After he was seized on December 17, 2011, Kahder Adnan was asked the contemporary variation of the 1940s’ Communist question, under torture in an Israeli jail nine weeks ago this weekend.

Adnan was asleep with his family when he taken by the Israeli Occupation Forces from his home near Jenin, in Area A, that part of the Palestinian Occupied Terrorities which the Oslo Accords mandated “the Palestinian Authority has sole civil jurisdiction and security control, while Israel retains authority over movement in and out of the area”.

The questions put to the 33-year old baker and Bir Zeit University graduate, are probably not recorded. Israeli officials have made no effort to be specific as to why Adnan had been placed in “administrative detention”, the bland terminology used by Israel for “disappearing” a Palestinian into the darkness of the absolute control of its military prison system.

Israeli occupation forces subsequently have let their friends in the media know that the question put to Adnan was a variation of the old 1940s American “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party”. I am reasonably certain no one asking that question had ever heard of Joe McCarthy.

For Khader Adnan, the question was more along the lines of, “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of Islamic Jihad”?

From the McCarthy era to the time of Israel’s military occupation, the questions resonate through the decades. We, the all powerful, the all good, demand that you confess that you belong to a “party” that is evil. How does the public know that the Islamic Jihad is evil? Because the “only democracy in the Middle East”, declares it to be so.

Communism in the 1940s and 1950s did bad things; the 2012 Islamic Jihad is fighting military occupation by the means it has, none of which are attractive. Extremism from the top of the power pyramid, engenders extremism from below.

In Israel, and indeed, in the United States, where the definition of evil is dictated by Israel, Islamic Jihad is an “illegal terrorist organization”. But is Khader Adnan a “member” of Islamic Jihad? He might have answered with a biblical statement, “you say I am”. Or maybe he simply remained quiet, waiting to be charged with membership is an illegal organization, a charge that is yet to come.

Khader Adnan is no stranger to an Israeli jail cell. He has already spent six years in one. He had, however, been a free man until nine weeks ago when he was once again hauled away into “administrative detention”, a colonial means of control the British, the original colonial power, bequeathed to Israel, the current colonial power.

Israel has put in jail more than 40% of the male Palestinian population, at one point in their lives. The purpose is to subdue the population. Sometimes they sit for years in administrative detention. At other times, they serve prison terms, and then reenter society under the watchful eyes of Israeli soldiers and informers.

Khader Adnan responded the only way left to a prisoner whose future rests entirely in the hands of his jailers; he began a hunger strike that could lead to his death. In spite of numerous calls from Israeli and Palestinian organizations that Adnan be charged or released, the state of Israel remains silent, watching a man dying in one of its military prisons.

Most Americans are ignorant of Adnan’s impending death. If, or when, he dies, the American media may record his death as a small news item that will almost certainly, identify him as a leader of the “radical terrorist Islamic Jihad group”, a charge never leveled against Adnan except by implication.

And most Americans will not see that yet another Palestinian has died because the powerful are in control with the power to ask the question: “Are you now or have you ever been”, a member of whatever group that is not approved by the rulers.

Variations of the McCarthy Era question will continue as a part of our national discourse. It crops up even within the American Jewish community, as it did in a strange bit of inter-tribal conflict reported this week by Adam Horowitz on his blog, Mondoweiss.

Someone has said that great minds run together. I don’t know about that, but I say to you that by all things sacred, earlier in the week I was working on this post which links the McCarthy Era to Zionism.

I had even searched for, and found, the short congressional grilling of the Hollywood Ten, including Dalton Trumbo, above. Suddenly, there was Horowitz beating me into on line with the McCarthy connection. The least I can do is permit him to give the background of the story.

It all started when the New York Times transferred Ethan Bronner, its long-time Jerusalem bureau chief, back to the US. The irony of this personnel shift lies in the fact that Bronner finally may have become too much of a Zionist for even his editors to tolerate. For his part, Bronner says he had requested the transfer.

Bronner had been criticized by peace activists for his softness in covering the Occupation, soft that is, as in not being critical enough of the Israeli IDF tactics. When the story broke that his son had, until last year, served in the Israeli Defense Forces, even the Times‘ Public Editor suggested it was time for a transfer.

Jodi Rudoren, the new Jerusalem bureau chief is, like Bronner, Jewish. But her ethnicity was not enough to satisfy some on the Zionist team. Acting as a journalist should, she had reached out to sources on both sides of the issue in Israel/Palestine. Talking to the “enemy” immediately triggered a radical Zionist reaction.

Adam Horowitz on Mondoweiss, tells what happened next, writing under the headline: “Right wing to Rudoren: Are you now, or have you ever been, a Zionist?”

Judi Rudoren continues to hold her ground against the right-wing onslaught against her for tweeting Mondoweiss and Ali Abunimah, as well as recommending Peter Beinart’s new book (these are really the charges?). The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo interviews her and begins in the most (appropriately) McCarthyite way possible:

The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.

“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.”

He later presses her on the fact that she retweeted a mention from Sami Kishawiof the “Love Under Apartheid” campaign.

On the issue of her journalistic objectivity, Rudoren said her tweets do not reveal an innate bias against Israel.

Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.

“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”

Adam Horowitz and his Mondoweiss site, along with Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olan blog, have been two of the very few US-based web sites or publications, to provide a day by day account of the Khader Adnan ordeal as he lies chained to an Israeli military bed near Ramallah.

Whether the unjust administrative detention of Khader Adnan ends in his last minute release or in his death by self-starvation, Adnan will have registered his protest against the injustice and humiliation of Israel’s military Occupation, and in his case, especially, its administration detention.

Somehow I have to believe that new New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief will report on the final outcome of Adnan’s protest. She should, because in a much less serious moment in her life, Rudoren has also been asked the McCarthy Era question by her inquisitors.

The drawing at the top of this posting originally appeared on the website of The Association for Human Rights in Israel. The video of the HUAC hearings is from this site.

This week’s Wall Writings posting is being released a few days earlier than usual because I wanted to add my voice to those around the world who have demanded that Israel release Khader Adnan before he dies in an Israeli military prison, where he was incarcerated without any charges made against him.

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