A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
August 4th 2010 Whose Behind Recent Attacks on Israel?
There are are never too many coincidences in international relations and three in a row is clearly no coincidence. Last Friday a Grad missile landed in Ashkelon, the first since the end of Operation Cast Iron. The missile was one of five projectiles that landed in Southern Israel this past week. Israel retaliated with three simultaneous air attacks on Gaza. The question now is, what is causing this new round of attacks in the South?
On Sunday, Katshusa rockets were fired at Eilat. The missiles missed their target and killed a Jordianian in Aqaba instead. Then today a border incdent occurs on the Lebaniese border, in which an Israeli patrol, doing routine work, pruning trees on the Israeli side was attacked, one soldier was killed. As a result of Israel's response 3 Lebanese were killed.
There is only one possible hand behind these new attacks, and that is Iran.
The recent unilateral sanctions by both the US and the European Union are clearly beginning to have at least a limited, but deepening effect on Iran. In addition, the remarks by Admiral Mullen, clearly stating that the US has a military plan ready to attack Iranian nuclear targets, are no doubt giving the Iranians additional food for thought. There has always been one school of thought believing that if the sanctions started effecting Iran, the Iranians would respond by heating up Israel's Northern or Gazan border, to deflect attention. This is in effect happening, and fear is likely to get worse in the coming weeks and months.
The Israeli government decided yesterday to approve an UN Investigation Commission on the Turkish Flotilla incident, stating that Israel has nothing to hide. Why in the world the government could not have done this the day after the incident, and gain the international initiative, is totally beyond me. Of course, it should not be, after all this time.
A few thoughts gathered from spending a week in Israel... The issue of conversion is not going away. The real issue has nothing to do with American Jewry, but the 300,000 Russian Israeli youth who have been living as non religious Jews in the State of Israel. The Russian youth are not recognized as being Jewish by the Rabbinic authorities, who have made it almost totally impossible for them to convert. It is hard to overstate how important this matter is to the State and the Jewish people. I believe there will be no solution, without taking back the religious authority from the Haredim in Israel.
Top 15 Most Evil Nazis
The Third Reich, which spanned from 1933 to 1945, was arguably the most heinous regime in history. Comprised of some equally malevolent characters, this administration was responsible for initiating the biggest and most costly war mankind has ever known, and perpetrated one of the worlds biggest acts of genocide, now referred to as the Holocaust. This list could have been bigger but I settled on these 15 (mostly) NSDAP members.
A WWI veteran, the Reichsmarschall was head of the luftwaffe, and the founder of the gestapo. After the fall of France he stole millions of pounds worth of art from Jews, and amassed a personal fortune. Goering took part in the beer hall putsch of 1923 and was wounded in the groin. Subsequently, taking morphine for pain relief, he became addicted to the drug for the rest of his life. In 1940, the Marshal ordered the bombing of the civilian population of Britain (the Blitz) and was involved in planning the holocaust. Goering was the highest-ranking defendant during the Nuremberg Trials. Sentenced to hang, he committed suicide in his cell the night before his execution by cyanide ingestion.
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Known as The &ldquoBitch of Buchenwald&rdquo because of her sadistic cruelty towards prisoners, Ilse Koch was married to another wicked Nazi SS, Karl Otto Koch, but outshone him in the depraved, inhumane, disregard for life which was her trademark. She used her sexual prowess by wandering around the camps naked, with a whip, and if any man so much as glanced at her she would have them shot on the spot. The most infamous accusation against Ilse Koch was that she had selected inmates with interesting tattoos to be killed, so that their skins could be made into lampshades for her home (though, unfortunately, no evidence of these lampshades has been found). After the war she was arrested and spent time in prison on different charges, eventually hanging herself in her cell in 1967, apparently consumed by guilt.
Dr. Paul Josef Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda, and a vehement antisemite. Goebbels speeches of hatred against Jews arguably initiated the final solution, and no doubt helped sway public opinion to the detriment of the Jewish people. A sufferer of polio, Goebbels had a club foot, but this did not effect his standing as the second best orator in The Reich. He coined the phrase &ldquoTotal War,&rdquo and was instrumental in convincing the nation to fight long after the war was effectively lost. At the end of the war, a devoted Goebbels stayed in Berlin with Hitler and killed himself, along with his wife Magda and their six young children.
Born in Austria, Stangl was a commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps. In 1940, through a direct order from Heinrich Himmler, Stangl became superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Program at the Euthanasia Institute at Schloss Hartheim where mentally and physically disabled people were sent to be killed. Stangl accepted, and grew accustomed to the killing of Jews, perceiving prisoners not as humans but merely as &ldquocargo.&rdquo He is quoted as saying, &ldquoI remember standing there, next to the pits full of black-blue corpses&hellip somebody said &lsquoWhat shall we do with rotting garbage?&rsquo that started me thinking of them as cargo. Stangl escaped Germany after the war and was eventually arrested in Brazil, in 1967. He was tried for the deaths of around 900,000 people. He admitted to these killings, but argued: &ldquoMy conscience is clear. I was simply doing my duty.&rdquo He died of heart failure in 1971, while serving a life sentence.
During the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Blobel commanded Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C, that was active in Ukraine. Following Wehrmacht troops into Ukraine, the Einsatzgruppen would be responsible for liquidating political and racial undesirables. Blobel was primarily responsible for the Babi Yar massacre at Kiev. Up to 59,018 executions are attributable to Blobel, though during testimony he was alleged to have killed 10,000 to 15,000 people. He was later sentenced to death by the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal in the Einsatzgruppen Trial. He was hanged at Landsberg Prison on June 8, 1951.
Kramer was the Commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Dubbed &ldquoThe Beast of Belsen&rdquo by camp inmates, he was a notorious Nazi war criminal, directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. Kramer adopted his own draconian policies at Auschwitz and Belsen and, along with Irma Grese, he terrorized his prisoners without remorse. After the war he was convicted of war crimes and hanged in Hameln prison by noted British executioner Albert Pierrepoint. Whilst on trial he stated his lack of feelings as he was &ldquojust following orders&rdquo.
Austrian born Kaltenbrunner was chief of security in The Reich where he replaced Reinhard Heydrich. He was president of Interpol from 1943 to 1945, and was there to destroy the enemies within the Reich. Kaltenbrunner was a physically imposing man with scars on his cheeks, which made him look like the tyrant he really was. Kaltenbrunner was one of the main perpetrators of the holocaust and he was hanged after the Nuremberg trials on October 16, 1946. He was the highest ranked SS man to be hanged.
Jeckeln led one of the largest collections of Einsatzgruppen, and was personally responsible for ordering the deaths of over 100,000 Jews, Slavs, Roma, and other &ldquoundesirables&rdquo of the Third Reich, in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II. Jeckeln developed his own methods to kill large numbers of people, which became known as the &ldquoJeckeln System&rdquo during the Rumbula, Babi Yar, and Kamianets-Podilskyi Massacres. After the war he was tried and hanged by the Russians in Riga on February 3, 1946.
WWI veteran Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger led the infamous SS Dirlewanger Brigade, a penal battalion comprised of the sickest most vicious criminals in the Riech. Dirlwanger raped two 13-year-old girls on separate occasions in the 1930s, and lost his Dr. title after being imprisoned, only to have it reinstated after his bravery in combat during the Spanish Civil War. He volunteered for the SS at the start of WWII, and was given his own battalion due to his excellent soldiery, Dirlewanger&rsquos unit was employed in operations against partisans in the occupied Soviet Union, but he and his soldiers are widely believed to have tortured, raped and murdered civilians (including children) and he allegedly fed female hostages strychnine in order to entertain his soldiers whilst they died in agony. Dirlewanger was captured by the French in a hospital after being injured at the front as he had always led his soldiers into battle. The French handed him over to the Polish, who locked him up and beat and tortured him over the next few days. He died from injuries inflicted by the Polish guards around June 5, 1945.
Odilo Globocnik was a prominent Austrian Nazi, and later an SS leader. He was one of the men most responsible for the murder of millions of people during the Holocaust. Globocnik was responsible for liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto, which contained about 500,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe, and the second largest in the world, after New York. He is also known for liquidating the Bialystok Ghetto, which stood out for its strong resistance to German occupation and resettling a large quantity of Poles under the premise of ethnic cleansing. He was in charge of the implementation and supervision of the Lublin reservation, to which 95,000 Jews were deported, with its adjacent network of forced labour camps in the Lublin district. He was also in charge of over 45,000 Jewish laborers. On May 21st, Shortly after capture, Globocnik committed suicide by means of a cyanide capsule hidden in his mouth.
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Eichmann was the organizational talent that orchestrated the mass deportation of Jews from their countries into waiting ghettos and extermination camps. A prodigy of Heydrich, he is sometimes referred to as &ldquothe architect of the Holocaust.&rdquo He learned Hebrew and studied all things Jewish in order to manipulate Jews, through his power of coercion, to leave their occupied territories and possessions in favor of a better life in the ghettos. At the end of the war he was doing the same to Hungarian Jews and, if it wasn&rsquot for the intervention of Raoul Wallenberg, the number of victims of the holocaust would have been much higher. He fled Germany at the end of the war via a ratline to South America, and was captured by the Mossad in Argentina. He was extradited to Israel and executed by hanging in 1962, after a highly-publicized trial. Eichmann&rsquos death was, and is, the only civil execution ever carried out in Israel.
Mengele initially gained notoriety for being one of the SS physicians who supervised the selection of arriving transports of prisoners, determining who was to be killed and who was to become a forced laborer, but is far more infamous for performing grisly human experiments on camp inmates, for which Mengele was called the &ldquoAngel of Death.&rdquo His crimes were evil and of many. When it was reported that one hospital block was infested with lice, Mengele gassed every single one of the 750 women assigned to it. Mengele used Auschwitz as an opportunity to continue his research on heredity, using inmates for human experimentation. He was particularly interested in identical twins. Mengele&rsquos experiments included attempts to take one twin&rsquos eyeballs and attach them to the back of the other twin&rsquos head, changing eye color by injecting chemicals into children&rsquos eyes, various amputations of limbs, and other brutal surgeries. He survived the war, and after a period living incognito in Germany, he fled to South America, where he evaded capture for the rest of his life, despite being hunted as a Nazi war criminal.
Heydrich was appointed Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. In August 1940, he was appointed and served as President of Interpol. Heydrich chaired the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which discussed plans for the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German occupied territory, thus being the mastermind of the holocaust. He was attacked by British trained Czech agents on May 27, 1942, sent to assassinate him in Prague. He died slightly over a week later from complications arising from his injuries. The foundations of genocide were laid by Heydrich and carried out in Operation Reinhard in his name.
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The bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation in Atlanta in 1958
On October 12, 1958, 50 sticks of dynamite exploded in the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, Atlanta’s oldest synagogue. The building sustained major damages, but no one was killed or injured. The attack was one in a series of attacks and attempted attacks on synagogues in the South in 1957 and ’58, spurred on by a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment among white supremacists during the desegregation era. Five men with links to the white-supremacist National States’ Rights Party were arrested and one was tried, but none was convicted.
The attack on Temple Beth-Israel in Gadsden, Alabama, in 1960
Before this weekend, the worst attack in a U.S. synagogue was believed to be the March 1960 attack on Temple Beth-Israel. A 16-year-old threw a bomb into the synagogue the bomb did not explode, but the bomber shot at congregants as they ran from the scene, injuring two of them.
The 1977 Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue shooting in St. Louis, Missouri
On October 8, 1977, guests were leaving the synagogue after a bar mitzvah and standing in the parking lot when Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who fatally attacked a number of Jews and black Americans from 1977 to 1980, opened fire nearby and killed a guest named Gerald Gordon two others were injured. Franklin reportedly chose the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue randomly, out of a phone book. In 2013, Franklin was executed for the murder of Gordon.
The murder of the talk-radio host Alan Berg in 1984
On June 18, 1984, the talk-radio host Alan Berg was shot and killed in the driveway of his home in Denver. Berg was known for his liberal views and for challenging anti-Semites and white supremacists on his radio show. Four members of the white-supremacist group the Order were indicted in his murder, and two were convicted for civil-rights violations against Berg, but not for murder.
The murder of the Goldmark family in 1985
On Christmas Eve 1985, the Seattle lawyer Charles Goldmark, his wife, and their two sons were murdered in their home in what the Anti-Defamation League has called the deadliest attack targeting Jews in the U.S., before Saturday’s shooting. According to a 1986 New York Times report, the family was “bound, chloroformed, beaten with the point of a steam iron and stabbed” by David Lewis Rice, a 27-year-old unemployed steelworker who was a follower of an extremist group called the Duck Club. The New York Times reported that Rice thought the family was Jewish and Communist (they were neither) Rice pleaded guilty and admitted to murdering the family because he thought they were Communists, but denied the reports that he had targeted them because he thought they were Jews.
The murder of Neal S. Rosenblum in 1986
On April 17, 1986, the 24-year-old rabbinical student Neal S. Rosenblum was shot five times on his way home from evening prayers in Squirrel Hill—the same Pittsburgh neighborhood where Saturday’s synagogue shooting took place. There were no suspects for two years after the shooting, but then a prison cellmate of a man named Steven M. Tielsch came forward with claims that Tielsch, who was being held for federal drug-trafficking charges, had been bragging about murdering a Jew. The witness also reported that Tielsch had made anti-Semitic remarks and drawn swastikas on his forehead. Sixteen years later, after four trials, Tielsch was convicted of third-degree murder in 2002.
The Crown Heights riot of 1991
On August 19, 1991, a driver in the motorcade of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, accidentally hit two black children with his car, killing one of them, the 7-year-old Gavin Cato, and severely injuring his 7-year-old cousin, Angela Cato. Tensions erupted in the Crown Heights neighborhood, which was home to both black and Jewish residents, and anti-Jewish riots broke out for several days, culminating in hundreds of robberies and injuries to both police officers and residents. On August 20, about 20 black men surrounded and fatally stabbed a 29-year-old Australian Jewish student, Yankel Rosenbaum. The press coverage of the riots often portrayed them as a scene of mutual clashing between the black and Jewish communities. But one reporter, who covered the violence for The New York Times, later criticized the paper for suggesting that Jews were attacking their black neighbors when he’d seen no evidence of such attacks.
The 1994 Brooklyn Bridge shooting
On March 1, 1994, Rashid Baz shot at a van filled with Orthodox Jewish students traveling on the Brooklyn Bridge. Four students were shot, and one—16-year-old Ari Halberstam—died from injuries. Baz, a Lebanese immigrant, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 141 years in prison. He initially argued that the motive was a traffic dispute, but in 2007 he admitted to targeting the van of Jewish students because of their religion.
The 1999 Jewish Community Center shooting in Los Angeles
On August 10, 1999, Buford O. Furrow Jr. walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Los Angeles, and fired 70 shots from a submachine gun, injuring five people: a 16-year-old camp counselor, three young campers, and a 68-year-old receptionist. Furrow drove away and then killed a Filipino American postal worker, Joseph Santos Ileto, a few miles from the center. He surrendered to the FBI and was sentenced to life in prison. Furrow had considered other Jewish targets in the Los Angeles area, including the Skirball Cultural Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center he allegedly told investigators that he wanted his actions to be “a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.”
The 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting
On July 28, 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq forced his way into the Seattle Jewish Federation offices and shot six women, killing Pamela Waechter, the 58-year-old director of the federation’s fund-raising campaign. The incident was classified as a hate crime and Haq was convicted in 2009.
The 2009 Holocaust museum shooting in Washington, D.C.
On June 10, 2009, an 88-year-old white supremacist, James W. von Brunn, entered the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and fatally shot a security guard before being wounded by other guards. According to a CNN report at the time, von Brunn was a known Holocaust denier who ran an anti-Semitic website and called The Diary of Anne Frank a hoax. Stephen Tyrone Johns, the security guard who was murdered, had worked on the museum staff for six years.
The 2014 Overland Park shootings
On April 13, 2014, on the eve of Passover, a man opened fire at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and at a Jewish retirement community, Village Shalom, both in Overland Park, Kansas. Three people were killed, two at the community center and one in the retirement community. The shooter, the 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., was a prominent former Ku Klux Klan leader he was convicted and sentenced to death. The three victims—a 14-year-old boy and his 69-year-old grandfather at the community center, and a 53-year-old woman visiting her mother at the retirement community—were Christian.
Analysis: Israel’s Celebration of Destruction, Dispossession and Desecration
On May 10 this year the state of Israel … but wait a moment … before we go any further … in talking about this state, its ‘independence’ was announced in 1948 by a colonial settler minority, putting it in exactly the same category as the ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ made in 1965 by Ian Smith, representing the colonial settler minority of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
The notion of independence being declared by a settler minority over the wishes of the indigenous majority was absurd and naturally rejected by the world when declared by Rhodesia’s colonial settlers. How odd that it could have been accepted when declared by Palestine’s colonial settlers, especially at a time when decolonization and self-determination were the order of the day.
So this is the first issue hanging over the state of Israel to this day. In any case, to continue, on May 10 the colonial-settler state of Israel will “celebrate” Jerusalem Day, marking the anniversary of the capture in 1967 of the “Temple Mount” and the “eastern parts of the city,” as the Times of Israel puts it (the Hebrew calendar is lunar, so the date, 28th Iyar, shifts year by year).
And here we have to stop again because what was captured in 1967, first, was not the ‘Temple Mount’ but the Haram al-Sharif, a Muslim compound containing two of the holiest sites outside Mecca, Al Aqsa (the farthest) mosque and the Qubbat al Sakhra (dome of the rock) sanctuary. There is a mount but there is no temple and strive as they might, as they have done ever since 1967, archaeologists have never found the evidence that one was ever there. This is not to say there was not but for no ruins to remain after a comparatively short time in history, it cannot have been anything like the gigantic structure described in the Bible.
Next are the “eastern parts” of the city but let’s not forget the western parts. In 1948 Palestinian Muslims and Christians still owned 70 percent of land and property in West Jerusalem and almost all of it in the east, where by 1948 the Jewish community consisted of about 2000 people: most of what is known today as the ‘Jewish quarter’ is property stolen from the Palestinians.
In the partition plan of 1947 Jerusalem was to serve as a corpus separatum between the Palestinian and Jewish states. In 1948 zionist militias occupied as much of the city as they could before the diplomats intervened. With more time, they would have taken all of it, but the point here is that in 1948, just like 1967, the zionists had no legal claim to west Jerusalem. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians included about 70,000 driven out of west Jerusalem and its immediate environs.
In any case, what happened on the ground in 1967 when the zionists seized the eastern part of the city? What will they actually be “celebrating?” on May 10? A short list begins with the destruction of the 135 buildings in the 40 dunums (2.5 acres) of the Harat al Magharibah (the Maghrebi or more commonly the ‘Moroccan’ quarter’), bordering the western wall of the Haram al-Sharif, and built in the late 12th century by Malik al Afdal, son of Salah al-Din al Ayyubi (Saladin) as a waqf (inalienable Islamic endowment) to accommodate travelers and scholars arriving from North Africa.
On the evening of June 10, five days after Israel attacked Egypt and Syria, about 650 residents of the Magharibah quarter were turned out into the streets at short notice, taking with them only whatever they could carry of their personal possession. The entire quarter, including the contents of all the homes, was then dynamited and bulldozed to make way for a ‘plaza’ for Jews.
Those who refused to leave were forced out: the body of a woman who had not left was later found buried in the rubble. Several other bodies were also reportedly found. Some of the families driven into the street were taken in by relatives but most ended up in the Shu’fat and Qalandiyya refugee camps. Within two days, nothing was left of the Magharibah quarter.
Apart from the homes, the destruction included two mosques, a Sufi lodge, the Afdaliyya madrasa (school), built for jurists of the Maliki school of Islamic law and the Hakurat al Khatuniyya (the garden of the noblewoman), a site containing Roman and Byzantine ruins and the foundations of an Umayyad palace.
Two years later the occupiers destroyed the nearby Fakhriyya madrasa and residence of the mufti of the Shafi’i school of law along with a house near the Haram that had been lived in by generations of the same family since the 16th century. The building itself was regarded as an outstanding example of Mamluq architecture.
During the conquest of the West Bank, some 300,000 Palestinians were driven out/fled across the Allenby Bridge into Jordan. The 5000 Palestinians turned out of Jerusalem and then the West Bank (on the all-purpose grounds of ‘security’) included the former mayor of East Jerusalem, Rouhi al-Khatib. Several villages and hundreds of buildings elsewhere were completely destroyed in the name of ‘security.’
The occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights was followed by the displacement of a further 120,000 people, Syrian nationals as well as about 17,000 Palestinian refugees from 1948. In June 1974 Israel withdrew from some of the Golan Heights but not before deliberately dynamiting most of the city of Quneitra. These are some of the realities being celebrated on May 10.
But let’s return to the Times of Israel’s account of the fun times to be had in Jerusalem on May 10. The activities include visits to the Tower of David Museum and the City of David, and again, we have to stop right here. This citadel site near the Jaffa Gate has been dated back to King Herod’s time (although, as a vantage point in the city, it would have been a natural defensive position for anyone occupying Jerusalem long before the Hebrews arrived in Palestine.
In turn, Salah al-Din al Ayyubi, the Mamluqs and the Ottomans all rebuilt the site: what the tourist guides call the ‘tower of David’ is actually the minaret of a Mamluk mosque, As for the ‘city of David,’ despite endless digging under and around the Haram, outside the scriptural accounts, it is still questionable whether a king called David ever ruled Jerusalem or that he even existed.
But let’s move on to where to stay while joining the celebrations in Jerusalem. The options given by the Times of Israel include the Mamilla Hotel. Jerusalem has many hotels and private houses that are stolen Palestinian property but the Mamilla is an interesting example because of what else it signifies. Occupied west Jerusalem in 1948 included the Mamilla cemetery.
As a burial site, Mamilla dates back to Byzantine times, as a Muslim cemetery back to the 7th century. The graves and tombs include, reputedly, companions of the Prophet (sahaba) religious scholars, sufi sheikhs, judges, the descendants of some of the city’s oldest families as well as the thousands of soldiers, Christian and Muslim, who fought and died for the city during the Crusades.
After seizing west Jerusalem in 1948 the Israeli administration pledged to respect the Mamilla cemetery. “Israel will always know to protect and respect this site,” in the words of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In practice, while promising to safeguard Muslim religious sites, the state oversaw their destruction. Village cemeteries were ploughed over or left to fall into disrepair from calculated neglect and mosques were turned into chic art galleries, museums and cafes. None of this was accidental or collateral damage or the unforeseen consequences of war. It was all deliberate because if Israel was to exist, Palestine had to be destroyed.
As a symbol of Palestinian Jerusalem alongside the Haram al-Sharif the Mamilla cemetery was a prime target for ‘redevelopment.’ Far from protecting the site, the government soon authorized its piecemeal destruction, once it was taken over by the Custodian of Absentee Property. Over the decades the cemetery was cut up for access roads, a car park, a school and playing field, a lavatory block, a park (‘Independence Park’) and cafe, a hotel and a government building, as well as being dug up around the graves for the laying of electricity cables.
Of the thousands of headstones on the site in 1948, only a few were still standing in 1967 and only an estimated five percent are left now. Only about eight percent is left of the original 134.5 dunums (33 acres) of the cemetery. The original Mamilla water pool/cistern is empty, with vandalism adding to the picture of deliberate neglect by the municipality.
The current threat to what is left of the cemetery is the construction of a ‘Centre for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance.’ This grotesque tying together of dignity, tolerance, and desecration was the initiative of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the US. The ground was broken in 2004 and digging began in 2005. In the following years, headstones were bulldozed, hundreds of graves were opened and the bones of the dead removed. The museum will take up 10 percent of what is left of the cemetery and given plans approved to build a hotel and hundreds of homes on the site, it is safe to predict that in time nothing will be left.
Conquest, destruction, dispossession and desecration are the realities behind what will be celebrated in the streets of Jerusalem on May 10. The occasion will be a standing invitation for the thugs who have been running wild in the streets of Sheikh Jarrah to inflict more pain on the Palestinians. “Death to the Arabs” they cry, as they have cried over the years, in Jerusalem and across Palestine. These are the “extremists,” Lehava (Prevention of Assimilation in the Homeland, aimed not just at Palestinians but all Christians) and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength), both of them, in their ideology and street brutality, the heirs of Rabbi Meir Kahane and his Kach (Thus) Party.
But they are only slightly more extreme, slightly more open in their genocidal intentions than the extremists inside the government and Knesset and the extremists waiting for their turn to take power. They are not an aberration but the inevitable product of a racist ideology and the state on which it has been built. Israel is on a destructive path, destructive of the world around it, destructive of itself, but can still celebrate what has brought it to this point.
– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.
Update 2: Israeli Missiles Kill 27 Palestinians in Gaza Including 9 Children
As of Tuesday morning, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has confirmed that Israeli airstrikes have killed 26 Palestinians, including 9 children and one woman, and wounded at least a hundred in the Gaza Strip. Israel began its assault on Gaza Monday evening, following three weeks of Israeli settler and soldier attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem. The Israeli attacks in Jerusalem began on the first day of Ramadan on April 12th, and have continued throughout the Muslim holy month, which is set to end Wednesday, May 12th. Israel’s attacks focused on Palestinian Muslims attempting to pray at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Yazan al-Masri, 1
In Gaza, reports continue to trickle in from hospitals and from survivors of the Israeli airstrikes. In addition to the nine children, including a 9-year old girl, who were confirmed killed in the first wave of Israeli airstrikes, local sources have also confirmed that a woman and her disabled son were among those slain.
In addition to those identified in the update below, five additional victims have been identified as having been killed by the two missiles that struck the home of Ibrahim Atallah al-Masri in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza Monday night.
- Ibrahim Yousef Atallah al-Masri, 10 years old
- Yazin Sultan Atallah al-Masri, 1-year-old
- Marwan Yousef Atallah al-Masri, 12
- Rahaf Mohammad Atallah al-Masri, 10-year-old girl
- Ahmad Mohammad Atallah al-Masri, 20
Before dawn Tuesday, the Israeli army fired missiles into an apartment in a residential tower, in the Rimal neighborhood, west of Gaza city, killing three Palestinians, and seriously wounding one, in addition to injuring at least seven other Palestinians in adjacent apartments. The Maan News Agency said the army targeted leaders of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, in the residential tower. The slain Palestinians have been identified as:
Extrajudicial assassinations are considered violations of international law but are a common practice by the Israeli military.
In Khan Younis, a Palestinian died of wounds sustained Monday evening during Israeli missile attacks in the al-Manara area of the city. He has been identified as:
Children covered in dust after surviving Israeli missile strike
Update: “Israeli Army Kills 20 Palestinians, including 9 Children, Injures 95, In Gaza”
The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has confirmed, on Monday at night, that the Israeli army’s bombardment and shelling of the Gaza Strip, has resulted in the death of twenty Palestinians, including 9 children, and the injury of 95 others.
The Health Ministry added that, among the slain children is a girl, only nine years of age.
It also said the 95 Palestinians, including children and women, were injured by the Israeli missiles and shells, some seriously.
Meanwhile, the Ma’an News Agency has reported that five Palestinians were killed when an Israeli shell struck a yard behind the al-Omari Mosque in Gaza.
It added that an Israeli missile struck a land, east of Jabalia in northern Gaza, leading to the death of its owner Saber Ibrahim Suleiman, 39و and his son Mohammad, 16.
The Israeli bombardment in Jabalia also led to the death of:
- Esmat Sha’ban az-Zein
- Mousa Khalil az-Zein, 19
- Zakariya Ziad Alloush
- Bashir Mohammad Alloush
- Raed al-‘Abed Abu Warda, 27
- Nabil an-No’mani Dardouna
- Mustafa Mohammad Obeid, 17
In Beit Hanoun, the soldiers fired two missiles at the home of Ibrahim Atallah al-Masri, killing eight Palestinians and wounding several others.
The army also fired a missile at a motorcycle near a mosque in Beit Hanoun, killing Mohammad Nosseir and Mohammad Fayyad, in addition to firing a missile into the home of Husam Ali Nosseir, behind Abu Bakr Mosque in Beit Hanoun, causing several injuries.
Ma’an said the Palestinians, who were killed in the Israeli bombardment in Beit Hanoun, have been identified a Mohammad Ali Mohammad Nosseir, Mohammad Abdullah Zidan Fayyad, Ibrahim Yousef Atallah al-Masri, Marwan Yousef Atallah al-Masri, Ahmad Mohammad Atallah al-Masri, and Rahaf Mohammad Atallah al-Masri.
– Updates Will be made once officially available
Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Kill 21 Palestinians, Including 9 Children
May 11, 2021, at 00:03
Israeli warplanes bombarded the northern Gaza Strip, on Monday, killing at least 21 people including 9 children, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has confirmed.
The names of those killed have not yet been released, but IMEMC will update this article with the information as soon as it is available.
In northern Gaza, Israeli forces fired missiles from an unmanned Israeli drone, striking dozens of civilians in the city of Beit Hanoun, killing 21 and injuring 65 others.
Several missiles were fired into the besieged coastal region, in response to rockets fired from the resistance factions in Gaza.
According to Jerusalem (Quds) Press correspondent, Israeli jets fired missiles at a large gathering of Palestinian civilians on Al-Masryin Street, adding that several people were transferred to the hospital for their injuries.
Earlier Monday, the “Joint Chamber of Palestinian Resistance Factions” demanded that the Israeli authorities disengage from the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Resistance factions set a deadline of 6pm, at which time they would retaliate for the violations against the Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem.
At 6pm the Palestinian resistance reportedly fired several crude, homemade rockets into Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip, no casualties or damage were reported.
Top 10 Greatest Monarchs
Throughout history, there have been good leaders and bad leaders. There have been dictators, and there have been benevolent kings. This list is about the greatest, most benevolent monarchs in history &ndash those rulers who made life better for their people.
Reign: November 6, 1494 &ndash September 7, 1566
Suleiman I, also known as Suleiman the Magnificent, reigned as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for 69 years, longer than any other Sultan. His reign marked the beginning of the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. During his rule, the Ottoman Empire encompassed most of the Middle East, Southeastern Europe and Rhodes. Suleiman also made educational, legislative, taxation and criminal reforms.
Reign: March 24, 1603 &ndash March 27, 1625
James I, also known as &ldquothe wisest fool in Christendom&rdquo, was the fist king of both England and Scotland. Under his rule, the two kingdoms were united. Literature and the fine arts flourished under his reign, he himself writing many books and poems. During his rule, international trade through the British East India Company increased dramatically.
John III, also known as the Lion of Lehistan, was a military and political genius. Under his rule, Poland-Lithuania became a stable, flourishing state. John became known as the Lion of Lehistan after his victory against the Turks in the Battle of Vienna.
February 3, 1867 &ndash July 30, 1912
When Meiji became Emperor of Japan at the age of 14, Japan was a primitive and isolated country. By the end of his reign, Japan was an industrial powerhouse. Meiji was a key player in making Japan a major world superpower.
Reign: October 30, 1611 &ndash November 6, 1632
Gustav II Adolf, also known as Gustavus Adolphus, was the King of Sweden for 21 years. During his reign, Sweden became a major European power. Gustav II Adolf led his Protestant army against the Catholic armies of France and Spain. After his death in battle, Sweden became known as a military powerhouse.
Reign: January 16, 27 BC &ndash August 19, AD 14
Augustus Caesar ruled as the Emperor of Rome for 41 years. During this time, Augustus improved the infrastructure and military of Rome. He also reformed the taxation process. His reign is known as Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, because during his reign diplomacy flourished.
Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great, ruled Persia for 30 years. During his reign, the Persian Empire encompassed much of the Middle East, including Iran, Israel and Mesopotamia. Under Cyrus&rsquos reign, human rights and military strategy were greatly improved.
Reign: May 31, 1740 &ndash August 17, 1786
Frederick II, also known as Frederick the Great, ruled Prussia for 46 years. During his reign, the borders of Prussia expanded to encompass West Prussia and Silesia. Under his reign, the infrastructure, military and bureaucratic process of Prussia was greatly improved.
Reign: June 20, 1837 &ndash January 22, 1901
Queen Victoria was ruler of the United Kingdom for 67 years, longer than any other British monarch. During her reign, the British Empire expanded to encompass one quarter of the land on the Earth, making it the largest empire ever. The United Kingdom flourished under her reign, with the Industrial Revolution taking place. Victoria lent her name to the Victorian Era, a time when the United Kingdom&rsquos power was at its zenith.
Reign: May 14, 1643 &ndash September 1, 1715
Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, reigned as King of France for 72 years, longer than any other European monarch. Under his reign, France became the most powerful country in Europe. Louis ended feudalism in France and modernized the country. During his rule, the military and fine arts flourished. Louis believed strongly in the divine right of kings, saying that he was the sun and that his courtiers and France should revolve around him like planets.
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Black September, Arabic Aylūl al-Aswad, also called Black September Organization (BSO), breakaway militant faction of the Palestinian organization Fatah. The group was founded in 1971 to seek retribution on Jordan’s military and to assassinate Jordan’s King Hussein after they forcefully confronted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during an attempt to seize power from the monarch in September 1970. The name Black September was chosen to commemorate that violent Hashemite-Palestinian clash, during which thousands of Palestinians were either killed or expelled and the PLO was driven out of Jordan. Before its official dissolution in 1974, the faction also participated in attacks against Israeli and Western targets worldwide, notably the massacre of members of Israel’s Olympic team at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.
Black September apparently formed within Fatah, the PLO group led by Yāsir ʿArafāt. Black September apparently received its orders from the Fatah security apparatus, but some scholars contend that its linkages to Fatah were kept hidden to allow Fatah to maintain its stance of not interfering in the internal matters of Arab countries. Others, however, argue that the faction eventually became a radical split from the more-moderate Fatah.
Eleven Israelis and a West German policeman were killed in the attack at the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Munich. In response, Israel ordered its national intelligence agency, the Mossad, to kill senior Black September and PLO operatives. The Mossad conducted several operations, including the 1973 killing of three Black September members in Beirut, the 1973 killing of a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway (who, it turned out, was apparently blameless), and the 1979 killing of Ali Hassan Salameh, the “Red Prince” (who was thought to have masterminded several deadly attacks, including that at Munich in 1972).
Several other attacks were ascribed to Black September. The group assassinated Jordan’s Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tel in November 1971 following the PLO eviction from Jordan the previous June. Black September was implicated in several acts of terrorism in 1972, including acts of sabotage in the Netherlands and West Germany in February, the hijacking of a Belgian aircraft flying from Austria to Israel in May, and the sending of letter bombs to Israeli embassies worldwide—one of which killed a diplomat in London in September. Operations continued in 1973 with an attack on the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, in March several hostages were taken, and Cleo A. Noel, the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, his deputy, and a Belgian diplomat were killed. In August a pair of young Black September members attacked passengers waiting to board a flight to New York in Athens, Greece, killing 3 people and wounding more than 50. (The pair sought to attack passengers bound for Tel Aviv, but that flight had boarded before they arrived.)
In December 1974 Black September was dissolved by Fatah, possibly as a response to the pressure placed on Black September by the Mossad. Most of its membership was reassigned to other Palestinian groups.
The Story Behind The Stuxnet Virus
Computer security experts are often surprised at which stories get picked up by the mainstream media. Sometimes it makes no sense. Why this particular data breach, vulnerability, or worm and not others? Sometimes it's obvious. In the case of Stuxnet, there's a great story.
As the story goes, the Stuxnet worm was designed and released by a government--the U.S. and Israel are the most common suspects--specifically to attack the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. How could anyone not report that? It combines computer attacks, nuclear power, spy agencies and a country that's a pariah to much of the world. The only problem with the story is that it's almost entirely speculation.
Here's what we do know: Stuxnet is an Internet worm that infects Windows computers. It primarily spreads via USB sticks, which allows it to get into computers and networks not normally connected to the Internet. Once inside a network, it uses a variety of mechanisms to propagate to other machines within that network and gain privilege once it has infected those machines. These mechanisms include both known and patched vulnerabilities, and four "zero-day exploits": vulnerabilities that were unknown and unpatched when the worm was released. (All the infection vulnerabilities have since been patched.)
Stuxnet doesn't actually do anything on those infected Windows computers, because they're not the real target. What Stuxnet looks for is a particular model of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) made by Siemens (the press often refers to these as SCADA systems, which is technically incorrect). These are small embedded industrial control systems that run all sorts of automated processes: on factory floors, in chemical plants, in oil refineries, at pipelines--and, yes, in nuclear power plants. These PLCs are often controlled by computers, and Stuxnet looks for Siemens SIMATIC WinCC/Step 7 controller software.
If it doesn't find one, it does nothing. If it does, it infects it using yet another unknown and unpatched vulnerability, this one in the controller software. Then it reads and changes particular bits of data in the controlled PLCs. It's impossible to predict the effects of this without knowing what the PLC is doing and how it is programmed, and that programming can be unique based on the application. But the changes are very specific, leading many to believe that Stuxnet is targeting a specific PLC, or a specific group of PLCs, performing a specific function in a specific location--and that Stuxnet's authors knew exactly what they were targeting.
It's already infected more than 50,000 Windows computers, and Siemens has reported 14 infected control systems, many in Germany. (These numbers were certainly out of date as soon as I typed them.) We don't know of any physical damage Stuxnet has caused, although there are rumors that it was responsible for the failure of India's INSAT-4B satellite in July. We believe that it did infect the Bushehr plant.
All the anti-virus programs detect and remove Stuxnet from Windows systems.
Stuxnet was first discovered in late June, although there's speculation that it was released a year earlier. As worms go, it's very complex and got more complex over time. In addition to the multiple vulnerabilities that it exploits, it installs its own driver into Windows. These have to be signed, of course, but Stuxnet used a stolen legitimate certificate. Interestingly, the stolen certificate was revoked on July 16, and a Stuxnet variant with a different stolen certificate was discovered on July 17.
Over time the attackers swapped out modules that didn't work and replaced them with new ones--perhaps as Stuxnet made its way to its intended target. Those certificates first appeared in January. USB propagation, in March.
Stuxnet has two ways to update itself. It checks back to two control servers, one in Malaysia and the other in Denmark, but also uses a peer-to-peer update system: When two Stuxnet infections encounter each other, they compare versions and make sure they both have the most recent one. It also has a kill date of June 24, 2012. On that date, the worm will stop spreading and delete itself.
We don't know who wrote Stuxnet. We don't know why. We don't know what the target is, or if Stuxnet reached it. But you can see why there is so much speculation that it was created by a government.
Stuxnet doesn't act like a criminal worm. It doesn't spread indiscriminately. It doesn't steal credit card information or account login credentials. It doesn't herd infected computers into a botnet. It uses multiple zero-day vulnerabilities. A criminal group would be smarter to create different worm variants and use one in each. Stuxnet performs sabotage. It doesn't threaten sabotage, like a criminal organization intent on extortion might.
Stuxnet was expensive to create. Estimates are that it took 8 to 10 people six months to write. There's also the lab setup--surely any organization that goes to all this trouble would test the thing before releasing it--and the intelligence gathering to know exactly how to target it. Additionally, zero-day exploits are valuable. They're hard to find, and they can only be used once. Whoever wrote Stuxnet was willing to spend a lot of money to ensure that whatever job it was intended to do would be done.
None of this points to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, though. Best I can tell, this rumor was started by Ralph Langner, a security researcher from Germany. He labeled his theory "highly speculative," and based it primarily on the facts that Iran had an usually high number of infections (the rumor that it had the most infections of any country seems not to be true), that the Bushehr nuclear plant is a juicy target, and that some of the other countries with high infection rates--India, Indonesia, and Pakistan--are countries where the same Russian contractor involved in Bushehr is also involved. This rumor moved into the computer press and then into the mainstream press, where it became the accepted story, without any of the original caveats.
Once a theory takes hold, though, it's easy to find more evidence. The word "myrtus" appears in the worm: an artifact that the compiler left, possibly by accident. That's the myrtle plant. Of course, that doesn't mean that druids wrote Stuxnet. According to the story, it refers to Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah she saved the Persian Jews from genocide in the 4th century B.C. "Hadassah" means "myrtle" in Hebrew.
Stuxnet also sets a registry value of "19790509" to alert new copies of Stuxnet that the computer has already been infected. It's rather obviously a date, but instead of looking at the gazillion things--large and small--that happened on that the date, the story insists it refers to the date Persian Jew Habib Elghanain was executed in Tehran for spying for Israel.
Sure, these markers could point to Israel as the author. On the other hand, Stuxnet's authors were uncommonly thorough about not leaving clues in their code the markers could have been deliberately planted by someone who wanted to frame Israel. Or they could have been deliberately planted by Israel, who wanted us to think they were planted by someone who wanted to frame Israel. Once you start walking down this road, it's impossible to know when to stop.
Another number found in Stuxnet is 0xDEADF007. Perhaps that means "Dead Fool" or "Dead Foot," a term that refers to an airplane engine failure. Perhaps this means Stuxnet is trying to cause the targeted system to fail. Or perhaps not. Still, a targeted worm designed to cause a specific sabotage seems to be the most likely explanation.
If that's the case, why is Stuxnet so sloppily targeted? Why doesn't Stuxnet erase itself when it realizes it's not in the targeted network? When it infects a network via USB stick, it's supposed to only spread to three additional computers and to erase itself after 21 days--but it doesn't do that. A mistake in programming, or a feature in the code not enabled? Maybe we're not supposed to reverse engineer the target. By allowing Stuxnet to spread globally, its authors committed collateral damage worldwide. From a foreign policy perspective, that seems dumb. But maybe Stuxnet's authors didn't care.
My guess is that Stuxnet's authors, and its target, will forever remain a mystery.
Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran
WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.
Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.
At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.
“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.
Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.
This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.
These officials gave differing assessments of how successful the sabotage program was in slowing Iran’s progress toward developing the ability to build nuclear weapons. Internal Obama administration estimates say the effort was set back by 18 months to two years, but some experts inside and outside the government are more skeptical, noting that Iran’s enrichment levels have steadily recovered, giving the country enough fuel today for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment.
Whether Iran is still trying to design and build a weapon is in dispute. The most recent United States intelligence estimate concludes that Iran suspended major parts of its weaponization effort after 2003, though there is evidence that some remnants of it continue.
Iran initially denied that its enrichment facilities had been hit by Stuxnet, then said it had found the worm and contained it. Last year, the nation announced that it had begun its own military cyberunit, and Brig. Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, said that the Iranian military was prepared “to fight our enemies” in “cyberspace and Internet warfare.” But there has been scant evidence that it has begun to strike back.
The United States government only recently acknowledged developing cyberweapons, and it has never admitted using them. There have been reports of one-time attacks against personal computers used by members of Al Qaeda, and of contemplated attacks against the computers that run air defense systems, including during the NATO-led air attack on Libya last year. But Olympic Games was of an entirely different type and sophistication.
It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives. The code itself is 50 times as big as the typical computer worm, Carey Nachenberg, a vice president of Symantec, one of the many groups that have dissected the code, said at a symposium at Stanford University in April. Those forensic investigations into the inner workings of the code, while picking apart how it worked, came to no conclusions about who was responsible.
A similar process is now under way to figure out the origins of another cyberweapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines. But the computer code appears to be at least five years old, and American officials say that it was not part of Olympic Games. They have declined to say whether the United States was responsible for the Flame attack.
Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons — even under the most careful and limited circumstances — could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.
“We discussed the irony, more than once,” one of his aides said. Another said that the administration was resistant to developing a “grand theory for a weapon whose possibilities they were still discovering.” Yet Mr. Obama concluded that when it came to stopping Iran, the United States had no other choice.
If Olympic Games failed, he told aides, there would be no time for sanctions and diplomacy with Iran to work. Israel could carry out a conventional military attack, prompting a conflict that could spread throughout the region.
A Bush Initiative
The impetus for Olympic Games dates from 2006, when President George W. Bush saw few good options in dealing with Iran. At the time, America’s European allies were divided about the cost that imposing sanctions on Iran would have on their own economies. Having falsely accused Saddam Hussein of reconstituting his nuclear program in Iraq, Mr. Bush had little credibility in publicly discussing another nation’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranians seemed to sense his vulnerability, and, frustrated by negotiations, they resumed enriching uranium at an underground site at Natanz, one whose existence had been exposed just three years before.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took reporters on a tour of the plant and described grand ambitions to install upward of 50,000 centrifuges. For a country with only one nuclear power reactor — whose fuel comes from Russia — to say that it needed fuel for its civilian nuclear program seemed dubious to Bush administration officials. They feared that the fuel could be used in another way besides providing power: to create a stockpile that could later be enriched to bomb-grade material if the Iranians made a political decision to do so.
Hawks in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney urged Mr. Bush to consider a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities before they could produce fuel suitable for a weapon. Several times, the administration reviewed military options and concluded that they would only further inflame a region already at war, and would have uncertain results.
For years the C.I.A. had introduced faulty parts and designs into Iran’s systems — even tinkering with imported power supplies so that they would blow up — but the sabotage had had relatively little effect. General James E. Cartwright, who had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America’s nuclear forces, joined intelligence officials in presenting a radical new idea to Mr. Bush and his national security team. It involved a far more sophisticated cyberweapon than the United States had designed before.
The goal was to gain access to the Natanz plant’s industrial computer controls. That required leaping the electronic moat that cut the Natanz plant off from the Internet — called the air gap, because it physically separates the facility from the outside world. The computer code would invade the specialized computers that command the centrifuges.
The first stage in the effort was to develop a bit of computer code called a beacon that could be inserted into the computers, which were made by the German company Siemens and an Iranian manufacturer, to map their operations. The idea was to draw the equivalent of an electrical blueprint of the Natanz plant, to understand how the computers control the giant silvery centrifuges that spin at tremendous speeds. The connections were complex, and unless every circuit was understood, efforts to seize control of the centrifuges could fail.
Eventually the beacon would have to “phone home” — literally send a message back to the headquarters of the National Security Agency that would describe the structure and daily rhythms of the enrichment plant. Expectations for the plan were low one participant said the goal was simply to “throw a little sand in the gears” and buy some time. Mr. Bush was skeptical, but lacking other options, he authorized the effort.
Breakthrough, Aided by Israel
It took months for the beacons to do their work and report home, complete with maps of the electronic directories of the controllers and what amounted to blueprints of how they were connected to the centrifuges deep underground.
The money trail behind the Jerusalem eviction battle that sparked the latest Israeli-Palestinian violence, exposed
One of the triggers for the recent conflagration in East Jerusalem, which quickly spread across Israel, was an effort to evict Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Like so many real-estate cases over the so-called Green Line that delineates 1948 Israel from the West Bank territory it has occupied since the 1967 war, ownership questions are murky. Attempts to identify the owners of the company behind the purchase of these six homes – and the source of the company’s funds – leads to a complex tapestry of obscure overseas companies. So intricate is this tapestry that it is impossible to know for sure who financed the planned evictions that led to the violence.
What is clear is that this real-estate project had millions of dollars in investments. Companies involved had links to Delaware and the Marshall Islands – corporate havens because of their low tax rates – as well as New Jersey, the Netherlands and Israel. Seymour Braun, a New York lawyer, is listed as an official in most of these companies on public records.
The bottom layer in this pyramid of companies, those actively conducting a legal battle to evict the Palestinian families, is Nahalat Shimon Ltd., an Israeli firm established in April 2000. The company bought the Sheikh Jarrah land underlying these six homes for $3 million in 2003 from descendants of the Jewish owners who had acquired them at the end of the 19th century.
The public face of Nahalat Shimon in several Israeli court hearings and filings dating back to 2010 was Tzahi Mamo, who manages its properties. Mamo is largely unknown to the Israeli general public, but is well-known among groups promoting Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank for heavy involvement over the last three decades in the purchase of land and buildings in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via G.
Members of the Israeli security forces patrol during protests by Palestinian demonstrators at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, on May 18, 2021.
In 2012, I conducted an investigation published in the Israeli daily Haaretz showing that Mamo, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, helped establish at least 20 companies that made various land purchases across the West Bank and East Jerusalem starting in the mid-1990s. Among them were Al Wattan (Arabic for “the homeland”) and Bnei Rachel (Hebrew for “sons of Rachel”), both of which were registered with Israel’s civil administration, which operates in the West Bank Lippens, which is registered in the United States and Space Real Estate, an Israeli company.
Mamo’s role differs from company to company, but usually involves the purchase of the properties and evictions of their occupants. Many of the companies he established are registered abroad. Mamo, contacted via phone, refused to talk with me.
The records relating to Nahalat Shimon – Nahalat means “estate of” in Hebrew – at the Israeli Registrar of Companies mention just one name: Braun, who is listed as director.
Born in Toronto, Braun is in his late 60s and is a partner at the New York law firm Braun & Goldberg. The firm specializes in international tax law and trusteeships. In addition to several connections to the tapestry of companies linked to Sheikh Jarrah, Braun’s name has also appeared dozens of times in international documents leaked in recent years – including the Panama Papers. He is also listed as the director of various unrelated off-shore companies in places like Barbados and the Bahamas.
Braun did not respond to several messages left at his firm, on voicemail and with a secretary.
It is unclear whether Braun’s involvement in the companies connected to the Sheikh Jarrah evictions is ideological it could simply be part of his legal work. But my investigation for this article uncovered a document, revealed here for the first time, showing that in 2010, Braun gave a $500,000 loan to the Amana Home construction company, part of the main movement that has promoted settlement in the West Bank – and, previously, the Gaza Strip – since 1978. The loan was used to help five families move into Ma’ale Efraim, a settlement in the Jordan Valley created in 1978.
Mamo and Braun are not the owners of Nahalat Shimon. Shares in the company are owned by a different Israeli company known as “Shimon Hazadik Holdings Ltd.,” which was also established in 2000. Shimon Hazadik, or Simeon the Just, was a Jewish high priest at the time of the Second Temple whose tomb is near the neighborhood now called Sheikh Jarrah. The few records available about the holding company list one individual: Seymour Braun, director.
In its early years, Shimon Hazadik Holdings was owned by a trust managed by a company called Trent, which was established in 1997 in Liberia and then relocated to the Marshall Islands in 2000. Subsequently, shares of Shimon Hazadik Holdings were transferred to a Delaware-based partnership known as Shimon Hazadik Portfolio C.V. L.P. This partnership was established in 2002 and its listed address is that of a law office in New Jersey that specializes in corporate law.
Paperwork for the Shimon Hazadik Portfolio C.V., registered in Delaware, and signed by attorney Seymour Braun.
The corporate tax rate in Delaware is famously low and the state demands almost zero transparency from companies registered there. Little surprise, then, that the file relating to Shimon Hazadik Portfolio contains just four short documents – some of which merely correct mistakes made when the company was first registered. One of those documents shows that Shimon Hazadik Portfolio C.V. L.P. is a reincarnation of Shimon Hazadik C.V., which was established in Amsterdam to “invest in real-estate projects in Jerusalem.”
That document – submitted to Delaware’s State Department in 2006 – was signed by Braun.
An examination of the Dutch incarnation of Shimon Hazadik reveals that, after its establishment, it received a total of $3.2 million from five different sources. Records do not indicate who transferred the money or who owned the company, but here, too, Braun’s name pops up: he is listed as the director of Jasa Beheer BV, the company that operated Shimon Hazadik C.V. (The shareholder of Jasa Beheer BV is Yardworth Corporation N.V., registered in Curacao, a former Dutch colony known as a tax haven. Its director was, again, Seymour Braun.)
Hagit Ofran from the Settlement Watch Project of Peace Now, said it did not surprise her that the people behind the evictions operate largely out of public view.
“The settlers are making a lot of efforts to conceal the sources of their funds and the identity of their supporters,” she said. “And so, the Palestinian families who are facing displacement, don’t even know who are they facing.”