Your Source for Leaks Around the World!

Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Reports on United States/Russia/China/Britain/Israel Nuclear Arsenals

In Archive, Britain, China, Israel, Military, Russia, USA on March 7, 2015 at 11:42 AM

These are the most up-to-date reports from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on the nuclear arsenals of the world’s biggest superpowers. This post will continually be updated with the most recent reports as they are published, including those of other major players such as France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and any others, when they become available.

United States (March/April 2015)

As of early 2015, the authors estimate that the US Defense Department maintains about 4,760 nuclear warheads. Of this number, they estimate that approximately 2,080 warheads are deployed while 2,680 warheads are in storage. In addition to the warheads in the Defense Department stockpile, approximately 2,340 retired but still intact warheads are in storage under the custody of the Energy Department and awaiting dismantlement, for a total US inventory of roughly 7,100 warheads. Since New START entered into force in February 2011, the United States has reported cutting a total of 158 strategic warheads and 88 launchers. It has plans to make some further reductions by 2018. Over the next decade, it also plans to spend as much as $350 billion on modernizing and maintaining its nuclear forces.

PDF

Related Links:

America’s Nuclear Secrets Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

US Nuclear Launch Code Was 00000000 For 20 Years During Cold War

How U.S. Almost Nuked North Carolina in 1961

National Security Archive Declassified Documents on U.S. Nuclear War Plans, Accidents, and Command Systems

Secret U.S. Air Force Nuclear Test Detection Site Locations

DoD Science Board Urges Expanded Global Monitoring for Counterproliferation Purposes (New Excuse to Expand Dragnet)

Russia (March/April 2014)

Russia has taken important steps in modernizing its nuclear forces since early 2013, including the continued development and deployment of new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), construction of ballistic missile submarines, and development of a new strategic bomber. As of March 2013, the authors estimate, Russia had a military stockpile of approximately 4,300 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,600 strategic warheads were deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with roughly 2,000 nonstrategic warheads. A large number—perhaps 3,500—of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement.

PDF

Related Links:

Russian Strategic Bombers Near Canada Practice Cruise Missile Strikes on US

Russia Ends US Nuclear Security Alliance

Russia Considers Intercepting Meteors with Nuclear Weapons

China (November/December 2013)

The number of weapons in China’s nuclear arsenal is slowly growing, and the capability of those weapons is also increasing. The authors estimate that China has approximately 250 warheads in its stockpile for delivery by nearly 150 land-based ballistic missiles, aircraft, and an emerging submarine fleet. China is assigning a growing portion of its warheads to long-range missiles. The authors estimate that China’s arsenal includes as many as 60 long-range missiles that can reach some portion of the United States. The US intelligence community predicts that by the mid-2020s, China could have more than 100 missiles capable of threatening the United States.

PDF

Related Links:

China Reveals Its Ability to Nuke the US: Government Boasts About New Submarine Fleet Capable of Launching Warheads at Cities Across the Nation

China Takes Nuclear Weapons Undersea Away From Prying Eyes

China Moon Rover Promo Image Shows Mushroom Cloud Over Eastern Europe

Britain (July/August 2013)

Recent research has revealed new facts about the British nuclear arsenal over a 25-year period starting in 1953. This accounting and the authors’ own research support an estimate that the British produced about 1,250 nuclear warheads between 1953 and 2013. From a peak of about 500 warheads in the period between 1974 and 1981, the UK arsenal has now been reduced to some 225 weapons.

PDF

Related Links:

Secret 1983 Queen Elizabeth Speech in Event of Nuclear War/WW3 Revealed

Winston Churchill’s ‘Bid to Nuke Russia’ to Win Cold War – Uncovered in Secret FBI Files

UK Lord & Ex-Defence Sec. Proposes Nuke Bomb on Afghan-Pakistan Border

Israel (November/December 2014)

Although the Israeli government neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted by friend and foe alike that Israel is a nuclear-armed state—and has been so for nearly half a century. The basis for this conclusion has been strengthened significantly since our previous estimate in 2002, particularly thanks to new documents obtained by scholars under the US Freedom of Information Act and other openly available sources. We conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated. We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.

PDF

Related Links:

Israels Dimona Nuclear Weapons Factory In 3D

US & Israel’s Nuclear Secrets

Israel, Vanunu and the Bomb

Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan: Israeli Spy/Arms Dealer, Obtained Parts for Nuke Program; Sidney Pollack Helped, Robert De Niro Knew

U.N. Demands Access to Israeli Nuke Sites

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

See Also:

World Leaders Play Nuclear War Game at G7 Summit; Scenario: Atomic Dirty Bomb in Financial Heart of Western Metropolis

What Would Happen if an 800-Kiloton Nuclear Warhead Detonated Above Midtown Manhattan?

Spy Cables: Leaked Correspondence Between Top Intel Agencies & S. Africa Offer Glimpse Into World of Espionage

In Archive, CIA, Espionage, FSB, Iran, Israel, MI6, Mossad, Russia, South Africa, Spy Cables, SSA, Surveillance, UK, USA on February 25, 2015 at 4:29 AM

02/23/2015

AlJazeera:

A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world’s spy agencies has offered an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage.

Over the coming days, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit is publishing The Spy Cables, in collaboration with The Guardian newspaper.

Spanning a period from 2006 until December 2014, they include detailed briefings and internal analyses written by operatives of South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA). They also reveal the South Africans’ secret correspondence with the US intelligence agency, the CIA, Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Russia’s FSB and Iran’s operatives, as well as dozens of other services from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

Unlike the Edward Snowden documents that focus on electronic signals intelligence, commonly referred to in intelligence circles as “SIGINT”, the Spy Cables deal with human intelligence, or “HUMINT”.

Rather than chronicling spy-movie style tales of  ruthless efficiency of intelligence agencies, they offer an unprecedented glimpse into the daily working lives of people whose jobs are kept secret from the public.

DOWNLOAD ALL FILES PUBLISHED SO FAR HERE (02/24/2015)
(36 PDFs/309 Pages/305MB/RAR)

al-jazeera-spy-cables

NEW FILES PUBLISHED 02/25/2015 HERE
(11 PDFs/132 Pages/128MB/RAR)

al-jazeera-spy-cables-02-25-2015

NEW FILES PUBLISHED 02/26/2015 HERE
(14 PDFs/56 Pages/79MB/RAR)

al-jazeera-spy-cables-02-26-2015

Revelations

Al Jazeera:

02/23/2015

Abbas and Israel ally against 2009 UN probe

Israeli cable reveals S Africa missile theft cover-up

South African spies wary of Iran operations

British attempt to recruit N Korean spy

‘Desperate’ US approach to Hamas

Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iran nuclear programme

02/24/2015

US meddling in African Union election

Inside the battle for intelligence in South Africa

Greenpeace among intelligence targets

African Union assassination threat

S. Africa’s alarming security failings

Israel airline used as intelligence ‘front’

Israel’s Mossad tactics

‘Ex-Israeli agents’ threatened cyber attack on S Africa

‘Arrogant’ Israeli spy infuriates S Africa intelligence

The car-jacking and the friendly Moroccan ambassador

Mossad’s questionable questions about Morsi

02/25/2015

The echo chamber: the politics of intelligence

Israel’s Africa policies ‘an exercise in cynicism’

‘China behind S Africa nuclear break-ins’

S. Africa spied on Russia for satellite project details

Spy Cables raise South Africa privacy concerns

Cables reveal S. Africa at odds with allies on al-Qaeda

02/26/2015

Israel’s Africa policies ‘an exercise in cynicism’

Mossad’s ‘moderate Muslim’ scorecard

Guardian:

02/23/2015

Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad

South Africa monitored Iranian agents under US pressure

MI6 intervened to halt South African firm’s deal with Iranian client

CIA attempted to contact Hamas despite official US ban

02/24/2015

Africa is new ‘El Dorado of espionage’

The unglamorous life of a modern spy in the new ‘El Dorado of espionage’

Greenpeace head targeted by intelligence agencies before Seoul G20

South Africa scrambles to deal with fallout from leaked spy cables

02/25/2015

What Goes Around Comes Around: NSA Cyberattacks Helping Other Countries (Iran) Learn to Hack Better

In Archive, Flame, GCHQ, Hacking, Iran, ISNU, Israel, Malware, NSA, NSA Files, Stuxnet, Surveillance on February 16, 2015 at 12:37 AM

02/10/2015

Glenn Greenwald/TheIntercept:

The U.S. Government often warns of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks from adversaries, but it may have actually contributed to those capabilities in the case of Iran.

A top secret National Security Agency document from April 2013 reveals that the U.S. intelligence community is worried that the West’s campaign of aggressive and sophisticated cyberattacks enabled Iran to improve its own capabilities by studying and then replicating those tactics.

PDF

The NSA is specifically concerned that Iran’s cyberweapons will become increasingly potent and sophisticated by virtue of learning from the attacks that have been launched against that country. “Iran’s destructive cyber attack against Saudi Aramco in August 2012, during which data was destroyed on tens of thousands of computers, was the first such attack NSA has observed from this adversary,” the NSA document states. “Iran, having been a victim of a similar cyber attack against its own oil industry in April 2012, has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others.”

The document was provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and was prepared in connection with a planned meeting with Government Communications Headquarters, the British surveillance agency. The document references joint surveillance successes such as “support to policymakers during the multiple rounds of P5 plus 1 negotiations,” referring to the ongoing talks between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and Iran to forge an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program.

The document suggests that Iran has become a much more formidable cyberforce by learning from the viruses injected into its systems—attacks which have been linked back to the United States and Israel.

In June 2012, The New York Times reported that from “his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered 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.” As part of that plan, the U.S. and Israel jointly unleashed the Stuxnet virus on Iranian nuclear facilities, but a programming error “allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet.” Israel also deployed a second virus, called Flame, against Iran.

Related: Obama Orders US to Draw Up Overseas Target List for Cyberattacks

Obama ordered cyberattacks despite his awareness that they would likely unleash a wholly new form of warfare between states, similar to the “first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade,” according to the Times report. Obama “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.”

The NSA’s concern of inadvertently aiding Iran’s cyberattack capabilities is striking given the government’s recent warning about the ability of adversaries to develop more advanced viruses. A top official at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) appeared on 60 Minutes this Sunday and claimed that cyberattacks against the U.S. military are becoming more potent. “The sophistication of the attacks is increasing,” warned Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.

The NSA document suggests that offensive cyberattacks on other states do not merely provoke counterattacks—those attacks can teach adversaries how to launch their own. “Iran continues to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against numerous U.S. financial institutions, and is currently in the third phase of a series of such attacks that began in August 2012,” the document says. “SIGINT indicates that these attacks are in retaliation to Western activities against Iran’s nuclear sector and that senior officials in the Iranian government are aware of these attacks.”

This would not be the first time the U.S. has inadvertently assisted Iran’s attack capabilities. Last month, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted of multiple felony counts for telling New York Times reporter James Risen about an agency program designed to feed Iran false data about nuclear engineering in order to create setbacks, but which instead may have provided useful information the Iranians were able to exploit to advance their nuclear research.

As of 2013, the NSA said that while it had no indications “that Iran plans to conduct such an attack against a U.S. or UK target, we cannot rule out the possibility of such an attack, especially in the face of increased international pressure on the regime.”

The NSA “can’t comment or speculate on the motivations of those who aim to harm the United States or our allies,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “The National Security Agency works with foreign partners to protect our interests and citizens in cyberspace.”

Kim Zetter/WIRED (1) (2):

In addition to attacks against Iran’s nuclear sector, however, the document also states that Iran learned from a different attack that struck its oil industry. The report says Iran then replicated the techniques of that attack in a subsequent attack called Shamoon that targeted Saudi Arabia’s oil conglomerate, Saudi Aramco.

“Iran’s destructive cyber attack against Saudi Aramco in August 2012, during which data was destroyed on tens of thousands of computers, was the first such attack NSA has observed from this adversary,” the NSA document states. “Iran, having been a victim of a similar cyber attack against its own oil industry in April 2012, has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others.”

How Wiper Inspired Copycat Attacks

The latter statement in the document is referring to the so-called Wiper attack, an aggressive and destructive piece of malware that targeted machines belonging to the Iranian Oil Ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company in April 2012. Wiper didn’t steal data—instead it destroyed it, first wiping content on the machines before systematically erasing system files, causing the systems to crash, and preventing them from rebooting. Wiper was “designed to quickly destroy as many files as effectively as possible, which can include multiple gigabytes at a time,” according to researchers at Kaspersky Lab who examined the mirror images of hard drives in Iran that were destroyed by Wiper.

Wiper was the first known data destruction attack of its kind. Although the NSA document doesn’t credit the US and its allies for launching the attack, Kaspersky researchers found that it shared some circumstantial hallmarks of the Duqu and Stuxnet attacks, suggesting that Wiper might have been created and unleashed on Iran by the US or Israel.

Many believe it served as inspiration for Shamoon, a subsequent destructive attack that struck computers belonging to Saudi Aramco in August 2012. The document claims Iran was behind Shamoon. The Shamoon malware wiped data from about 30,000 machines before overwriting the Master Boot Record, preventing machines from rebooting. The attack was designed to replace erased data with an image of a burning US American flag, though the malware contained a bug that prevented the flag image from completely unfurling on machines. Instead, only a fragment of the flag appeared. Researchers said at the time that Shamoon was a copycat attack that mimicked Wiper.

Wiper is also believed to have inspired a destructive attack that struck computers belonging to banks and media companies in South Korea in March 2013. That attack wiped the hard drives and Master Boot Record of at least three banks and two media companies simultaneously and reportedly put some ATMs out of operation, preventing South Koreans from withdrawing cash from them. The report does not suggest that Iran was behind this attack.

Wiper is also widely believed to have been inspiration for the recent hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Again, in the latter attack, the hackers wiped data from Sony systems and overwrote parts of the Master Boot Record, preventing systems from rebooting.

The US has long blamed the Saudi Aramco attack on Iran, but has blamed the South Korea and Sony hacks on North Korea. Although the NSA document published today cites the Saudi Aramco attack as “the first such attack the NSA has observed from this adversary,” researchers have disputed the attribution in this and the hacks against South Korea and Sony. A group calling itself the Cutting Sword of Justice took credit for the Saudi Aramco attack, and researchers from Kaspersky Lab noted that due to the attack’s unsophisticated design, the errors contained in it, and statements from the apparent hackers, they believe it more likely came from hacktivists rather than nation-state developers in Iran. Other researchers have found the attribution of the Sony and South Korea attacks circumstantial and flimsy.

Regardless of whether Iran is behind the Shamoon attack, there’s no question that it and other nations learn from cyberattacks launched by the US and its allies. Common cybercriminals also study Stuxnet and the like to learn new techniques for evading detection and stealing data.

Of course, a similar attack did strike the US. But instead of hitting the US oil industry or a similarly critical sector, it struck a Hollywood film studio. And instead of coming from Iran, it came this time (according to the White House and FBI) from North Korea. All of which suggests that when the US and Israeli strike their enemies, it isn’t just that single adversary who learns from the attack.

There are two other points in the document that merit attention.

One concerns the spy tool known as Flame; the other refers to concerns the NSA had about partnering with the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters and Israeli intelligence in surveillance operations.

Did GCHQ Partner With the NSA on Flame?

In the document, prepared in April 2013 for a meeting between the NSA director and GCHQ, the author cites the Flame attack against Iran as an example of a US/GCHQ partnership. Flame was a massive spy platform exposed by Kaspersky Lab and Symantec in 2012. Flame targeted more than 10,000 machines in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the Israeli Occupied Territories and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa and was active for at least six years before it was discovered. It used some of the same code that Stuxnet used, leading researchers to conclude that it had been created by the same US/Israel teams that had created Stuxnet. The Washington Post reported in 2012 that the US and Israel were both behind Flame, quoting anonymous US officials. But the new Snowden document hints that GCHQ might have been involved in Flame with the US.

Although the document doesn’t say overtly that GCHQ partnered with the US in creating and unleashing Flame, it hints obliquely at cooperation. The document notes that the NSA has “successfully worked multiple high-priority surges with GCHQ” and cites Flame as an example. But, oddly, it doesn’t say they worked together on creating Flame. Instead, it simply cites Iran’s discovery of Flame in a list of projects on which the GCHQ and the US collaborated.

These jointly worked events include “the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran; Iran’s discovery of computer network exploitation tools on their networks in 2012 and 2013; and support to policymakers during the multiple rounds of P5 plus 1 negotiation on Iran’s nuclear program,” the document reads. The reference to an embassy attack presumably refers to the 2011 attack on the British embassy by protestors in Iran. The reference to the P5 plus 1 relates to negotiations between Iran and Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program. The network attacks are identified by name as the Flame attacks in another part of the document.

It’s unclear what else this might refer to if not the two countries partnering in the creation and unleashing of Flame. Other documents leaked by Edward Snowden have spelled out in more detail how the NSA and GCHQ have partnered over the years in other spy operations, ranging from sharing data siphoned from undersea cables to the hacking of telecom networks, like Belgium’s Belgacom, to monitor mobile traffic. The new document suggests that the two countries might also have partnered on Flame in some way, though it’s unclear to what extent. If this is correct, and the previous Post is correct as well, it would mean the three nations teamed up to spy on Iran, presumably over its nuclear program.

NSA Expresses Concern About Partnering with GCHQ and Israel

Although there are numerous examples released in the Snowden documents of NSA-GCHQ cooperation as well as NSA-Israeli cooperation, the 2013 document published today expresses concern about a trilateral agreement between the three nations.

It appears in a section discussing a collaboration between the NSA, GCHQ and ISNU—a reference to the Israeli SIGINT National Unit, the Israeli counterpart to the NSA. Under the heading “Potential Landmines,” the document notes that GCHQ has long pushed to work with the NSA and ISNU “in a trilateral arrangement to prosecute the Iranian target.” And it notes that the NSA and GCHQ have agreed to share information gleaned from their separate partnerships with Israeli intelligence. But with regard to a trilateral partnership, the NSA had reservations. The document notes that the “SID policy has been opposed to such a blanket arrangement.”

SID refers to the Signals Intelligence Directorate. Under the SID Management Directive 422 (PDF), the intelligence community is prohibited from delegating a mission to a non-USSS element—that is, a non-US SIGINT System—without first obtaining a memo of understanding between the NSA and the non-US entity. NSA activities are government by a number of directives, most important among them is USSID 18, which governs what the US can and cannot collect on US persons and how it must handle information collected incidentally on them. Including a foreign spy agency in data collection raises issues about oversight and legality if it involves data pertaining to U.S. persons. This may be in part why the NSA was concerned.

As noted, the NSA has partnered separately with both the GCHQ and Israeli on intelligence collection. Previously released Snowden documents discussed how the NSA shared raw intelligence with Israel.

And according to the new document, the US, UK and Israeli spy agencies engaged in discussions in 2013 about a possible three-way partnership in tackling issues with Iran. “In January 2013, during an NSA-ISNU analytic workshop on Iranian Leadership, the first ever trilateral VTC on an Iranian issue was held with NSA, CCHQ and ISNU particiants,” it notes.

But the US was apparently hesitant about expanding the surveillance agreement outside of the issue of Iran. “The trilateral relationship is limited to the topic and will serve as a proof of concept of this kind of engagement,” the document notes. But “this specific trilateral should not be interpreted as a broad change of approach.” In other words, in areas not to do with Iran, the NSA and CCHQ have agreed to continue to share information gleaned from their respective bilateral relationships with the ISNU, but apparently are reluctant to make Israel a part of their exclusive club on a regular basis.

Related: Israel/Saudi Arabia Discuss Production of Malware Worse Than Stuxnet to Spy On/Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program

Palestinian Activists Smash Hole in Israeli Apartheid Wall as World Marks 25 Years Since Fall of Berlin Wall

In Activism, Archive, Germany, Israel, Israhell, Palestine on November 9, 2014 at 3:17 PM

11/08/2014

Ma’an:

Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees in the villages northwest of Jerusalem on Saturday broke open a hole in the separation wall to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“No matter how high walls are built, they will fall. Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation,” the popular committees said in a statement.

The activists said that their aim in destroying the wall was also to stress that Jerusalem is an Arab and Palestinian city, and that neither the construction of the separation wall nor Israeli military reinforcement could prevent Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The activists also called upon Palestinians to unite and take part in the battle for Jerusalem, and to defend the al-Aqsa mosque and all Islamic and Christian holy sites.

They also called upon people to be ready to take part in the “intifada” of Jerusalem, which they said would be “the final, fateful intifada to liberate Palestine.”

The Berlin Wall officially fell on Nov. 9, 1989, after having divided the German capital for nearly 30 years.

The Israeli separation wall is in many places more than double as high and nearly six times as long, as it cuts across the West Bank to divide Palestinians from other Palestinians ostensibly in order to ensure Israeli “security.”

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall. When the barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

Critics have called the wall part of a land grab designed to ensure Jewish-only settlements built on occupied territory housing around 550,000 Israelis will become part of Israel de facto despite the lack of a peace agreement, in effect legalizing land confiscation.

palestine-smash-israel-apartheid-wall

palestine-ich bin ein berliner

berlin-wall-vs-palestine-wall

Related Link: As World Marks 25 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Israel’s Wall Has Become a New Global Icon for OppressionOlivia Snaije

The Politics of Distraction: The Anti-Semitic and Pro-Terror Myths

In Archive, Israel, Israhell, Terrorism, Zionism on October 17, 2014 at 7:04 AM

via 4thAnon

anti-apartheid-not-anti-semitism islam-not-terrorism

10/17/2014

Robert Fantana/CounterPunch:

There is still, in some circles, a tendency to equate opposition to the unspeakable, apartheid practices of Israel with anti-Semitism. Zionists successfully made this illogical comparison for generations, but, while it still surfaces from time to time, it has mainly gone the way of the equally illogical ‘self-hating Jew’ concept, a label slapped on Jews who oppose the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Occasionally today, this, too, is heard, but it is rare.

Currently, Muslims, and those who have even a rudimentary understanding of the religion, sometimes fall all over themselves to distance themselves from ISIS and other radical groups that hide behind the mask of religion to perform their atrocities. Fear and loathing of Islam seems rampant in the United States, as many citizens now seem to connect that religion with beheadings.

While education is vital to assist any thinking person with overcoming irrational prejudices and beliefs, there is sometimes too much energy expended in defending oneself from charges of either being anti-Semitic, or sympathetic to Muslim ‘terrorists’. One need not deny being anti-Semitic, if so charged after condemning ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. One need not proclaim that they are not a jihadist, if one supports and respects Islam, and questions long-term U.S. policy of nearly indiscriminate bombing of the Middle East. Such charges are distractions from the real issues, which include Israeli apartheid and U.S. terrorism.

This is not the say that ignorance should be ignored; unfortunately, it can be deadly. One example, of countless available, is telling: On September 15, 2001, four days after the attack on the United States, Mr. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh, was shot and killed outside the gas station that he owned in Mesa, Arizona. When arrested for the crime, Mr. Frank Silva Roque said to the arresting officers: “I’m a patriot and an American. I’m American. I’m a damn American.” Mr. Roque believed that Mr. Sodhi was a Muslim, because he was wearing a turban. At the time of his death, Mr. Sodhi was working with a landscaper, planting flowers around the border of his gas station.

Indeed, those who see everyone wearing a turban, kefeyah or hijab as ‘out to get them’, and a threat to everything they hold dear, need to be educated, and the public needs to be protected from them. But this should not distract anyone from criticizing, and increasing awareness of, atrocities being committed by Israel and the United States.

Today, the world is understandably appalled that beheading is ever done. But the U.S. government, nothing if not hypocritical, has close ties with Saudi Arabia, where beheading as a form of capital punishment is still legal. In just two weeks in August of this year, United Nations observers say that there were 22 executions in Saudi Arabia, with at least eight of those victims beheaded. Yet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a state visit to that nation in September.

So the U.S. is selective in whom it criticizes for beheading people. ISIS doesn’t have huge oil resources, so its practice of beheading is an abominable and criminal act that demands international opposition, led by U.S. bombs. In Saudi Arabia, which is rich in oil, well, maybe beheading isn’t such a bad thing after all.

The point here isn’t the crime of beheading; it’s seeing any support of Islam as endorsing violence. It’s the perceived need to defend oneself for saying anything positive about Islam, having Muslim friends, etc. It’s the distraction from real violence, and its source, by artificially creating a need to discuss anything else, anything less important and a discussion of which will not help end violence.

Let us return for a moment to the anti-Semitism charge. No thinking person doubts that the Jewish population experienced horrific victimization during the Nazi regime. Yet past victimization does not excuse current victimizing. Because Jews in Europe had to carry identification cards, use separate streets, live in segregated neighborhoods, etc., does not justify Israel in forcing Palestinians to suffer these same indignities. Because at least 6,000,000 Jews were brutally slaughtered does not somehow excuse Israel for killing thousands of Palestinians every few years by bombing the Gaza Strip, or for destroying their houses, stealing their land, etc. Today’s issues must be addressed, regardless of the history of the current murderous perpetrator.

Israel has no moral reason for its oppression of the Palestinians. The myth that its ‘national security’ is somehow jeopardized or is at risk by a small nation it has occupied for decades is only parroted by the U.S., the United Kingdom and a few other puppet regimes. It is just and right for people the world over, including in Israel, to oppose the horrors being perpetrated on the Palestinians. When they do so, artificial charges of anti-Semitism can and should be ignored.

Islam is not an organization of violence. Whereas some in the U.S. have co-opted the term ‘Christian’ to justify their hatred of the poor, women, homosexuals and others, when Christianity, as taught by Jesus Christ, embraces all people, some Muslims have taken certain passages from scripture out of context to justify their violence. Anyone who supports Islam, has Muslim friends, etc., can condemn acts of violence throughout the world without needing to justify their support or respect for Muslims.

One wonders what it will take for this to happen. At what point will U.S. citizens, seeing a man with a kefeyah around his neck, or a woman wearing a hijab, not run in fear in the opposite direction? When will the mainstream news media recognize that the clothes a person wears do not necessarily signify their religious or political affiliations?

These are difficult questions to answer, especially since a paranoid society is not often eager to surrender its fears; after all, those fears are much of what defines it. But regardless of when that happens, what date far in the future a reasonable level of acceptance of everyone will be offered, current atrocities must be addressed. Nothing, and certainly not spurious accusations, should distract from doing so.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press)

%d bloggers like this: