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Monday, 5 October 2015

Robert Reich and the War on America's Poor and Working Class

A brilliant little sketch on what the US and our ruling class is up to.  Begun by New Labour it is carried on by  Ian Duncan Smith and Cameron.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Charity Funding Illegal Settlements - Charity Commission Turns Blind Eye

Charity Commission Chairman William Shawcross of the Henry Jackson Society Ignores Charity Funding of Terrorist Settlements – Because they are Zionist not Muslim

Helping Apartheid is a Charitable Objective
In 2012 the Tory/Lib coalition appointed William Shawcross as Chairman of the Charity Commission, the body charged with overseeing Britain’s 300,000+ charities.  Shawcross, in addition to the Government fluff about his experience is also a member of the Henry Jackson Society, a cold-war, pro-Zionist political outfit.  This has coloured the operation of the charity commission since his appointment.

Shawcross has led an unprecedented attack on Islamic charities as part of the Government’s overall attack on Muslims in Britain as ‘terrorist’.  It has instructed charities not to fund the Cage pressure group which supports detainees abroad (something which is at present subject to Judicial Review).
Toremet's Founder Stood for the Most Racist Jewish Home Party in the Knesset
At the same time a host of scandals has grown up around the activities of a number of charities which have been literally mugging vulnerable people and pensioners for contributions.

The Charity Commission has a history of supporting Zionist organisations.  Two years ago I was one of a number of Jewish people who was party to a challenge to the registering of JNF UK as a charity, even though the JNF deliberately discriminates between Israeli Arabs and Jews.  The former have no access to the land that they help purchase.  Because we could not demonstrate that we had standing, i.e. were particularly affected by the JNF’s activities, we were unable to progress the case.  This is a legal filter mechanism that the courts use to prevent challenges to the illegal practices of organisations.  The Court therefore never got  to rule on the substantive question.

Toremet goes even further.  Its funding is being used to support settlements which are illegal in international law, established on confiscated Palestinian land and which, as a matter of course, don’t include Palestinians.

Of course this is at one with Shawcross’s far-right views but it demonstrates the contempt for the law that our ruling class has.
Tony Greenstein  
Charity Commission Chairman and extreme right-winger William Shawcross approves of Zionist charities funding illegal settlements - Islamic charities are his main target

Ben White, Memo, 25 September 2015 11:00

UK Toremet’s CEO and founder Jonny Cline previously ran on the Jewish Home’s list in Israel’s 2013 municipal elections. Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, wants to annex most of the West Bank
Toremet's Facebook Page
A UK charity is acting as a conduit for donations to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it has been revealed, prompting calls for action from the Charity Commission.UK Toremet receives donations on behalf of what it calls ‘recipient agencies’, organisations or charities in Israel and elsewhere, who donors wish to support.

Among the list of approved recipients are several groups operating in, or for the benefit of, Israeli settlements. These colonies are deemed illegal under international law, and are at the heart of a regime of discrimination and segregation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
Toremet puts out the begging bowl for Israel's murderous settlers - courtesy of the Charity Commission
One recipient is the Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies at Susya, a settlement whose Palestinian ‘neighbours’ have suffered expulsions and dispossession (and may again). The school claims to be home to “some of the finest sons of religious Zionism in Israel.”

Another recipient agency, Shavei Chevron, is a religious school built in the heart of Hebron in the Occupied West Bank. “Guarded like a fortress by army troops”, according to The Times of Israel, it is “one of the reasons that the IDF decided to close off the route to Palestinian traffic of all sorts.”
Under UK law, “a charity must not provide funding or support to an organisation that exposes beneficiaries to extremist views”, even if “the charity’s funding or support is applied for legitimate charitable activities.” Extremism is defined as “vocal or active opposition” to values like “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

Other recipient agencies include the Efrat Development Foundation, established “for the benefit of the residents of Efrat”, an Israeli settlement in the southern West Bank. Donations can also be made to the Gush Etzion Foundation, which supports some 20 settlements south of Jerusalem and works to maintain “maximum Jewish presence in the region.”

All Israeli settlements established in the OPT are considered illegal under international law, a consensus position shared by the British government, the European Union, the United Nations, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In addition to being a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s settlements policy is inherently discriminatory, in the words of Amnesty International, and “perpetuates violations against Palestinians” such as “infringing their rights to adequate housing, water and livelihoods.”
As Amnesty UK Campaign Manager Kristyan Benedict told me, “the presence and relentless expansion of settlements has led to mass violations of human rights of the local Palestinian population.” He added that “the often violent take-over of more and more Palestinian land for illegal settlements amounts to a war crime.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has stated that Israeli settlements in the OPT “are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the whole population, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin.”

Asked whether settlements should benefit from charitable donations, UK Toremet’s CEO and founder Jonny Cline said that “the law on charity and the definition of charitable activity does concentrate upon the content rather than the geographical locus of activity.” Since “education is education and welfare is welfare”, he added, recipients take part in charitable activity “for all nationalities, religions and genders, anywhere.”

Pressed further if philanthropic values are compatible with a regime of systematic discrimination of which settlements are a core component, Cline said UK Toremet merely facilitates “donors’ wishes to support the provision of services in answer to human needs, wherever and for whomever they may be”, in line with the definition of charitable according to UK law.”

He added: “We try not to lose that thread, for to do so would be to put ourselves as the judge and jury, differentiating between blood and blood, tears and tears. Philanthropy and charity are human issues that are to be found on all sides of any human paradigm, sometimes this is complicated.”
UK Toremet also facilitates donations to a number of Israel advocacy organisations, such as UN Watch, The Israel Project, and Honest Reporting.

Recipient agency Shurat HaDin, meanwhile, uses courts around the world “to go on the legal offensive” against those it perceives to be “Israel’s enemies.” Its director has privately admitted to taking direction from the Israeli government over which cases to pursue.”
Asked to comment, Cline said the projects these organisations have asked to have supported through UK Toremet “are in the areas of media monitoring, legal research, education and human rights, all of which are charitable activity.”

The aim of UK Toremet is “promoting the culture of philanthropy in the UK by facilitating the fulfilment of aims deemed charitable by British law, in the UK and abroad.” The charity “facilitate[s] tax-efficient online donations to good causes around the world”, making it easier to gift money to charities outside the UK by facilitating a UK tax receipt and Gift Aid qualification.”

Serving as “a conduit for charitable donations”, UK Toremet announced last year that it had distributed over £1 million in its first three years of operation, and represents “over 250 carefully-vetted Recipient Agencies.”

Asked about that vetting process, Cline explained that after a charity applies to be recognised, “including specifying the programmatic area for which donations will be used”, UK Toremet consults “independent 3rd party sources” – citing Guidestar, the media, and charitable reporting documentation – before “a cause is accepted.

According to Cline, “there have been cases of charities refused support, and there have been cases of charities that have specified specific programming that will be supported by funds coming from UK Toremet.” The charity’s website states: “we will not limit your (legal) choices.”

Cline, a self-described “social activist and entrepreneur, moved to Israel from Britain at the age of 18, and performed his military service in the Israeli army. He has worked as spokesperson for Ariel, a major West Bank settlement, and a former resident of Kiryat Netafim settlement.

Cline has also previously worked for the Shomron Regional Authority, which provides municipal services to some 30 settlements in the northern West Bank. There he managed projects for its then-head Benzi Lieberman, a man who told Jeffrey Goldberg in 2004 that “the Palestinians are Amalek.”
While Cline has previously described himself as “an active member of the World Likud and the Likud Party English Division”, in Israel’s 2013 municipal elections Cline ran on Jewish Home’s list for the Modi’in city council, narrowly missing out. Jewish Home, headed by Naftali Bennett, wants to annex most of the West Bank. Cline has confirmed that he is currently a Jewish Home member.

The role played by UK Toremet in facilitating donations to projects based in or for Israeli settlements raises a number of questions. For example, why can such organisations benefit from British taxpayers’ money through the Gift Aid system, when the UK government views such settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace?

Asked for comment, The Charity Commission noted that “charities can make grants for charitable purposes to non-charitable bodies”, as long as “the recipient non charitable organisations apply those funds for charitable purposes only.” The spokesperson added: “When funding organisations based in the OPT, charities must ensure they comply with the law of England and Wales.”

For Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding), “serious questions need to be asked if any UK charity is channelling funding into projects in settlements in the West Bank.” Since settlements are illegal under international law, Doyle added, “charities have a duty not to assist in the violation of such laws”, and urged the Charity Commission to “take immediate action.”

The British government already actively discourages UK citizens from pursuing “economic and financial activities in the settlements”, based on the “legal and economic risks”, as well as the “potential reputational implications” and “possible abuses of the rights of individuals.”

For Amnesty UK’s Kristyan Benedict, “charities, donors, individual consumers and governments need to ensure they are not complicit in discrimination, violence and illegality.”

Campaigners for Palestinian rights are also dismayed. Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said “the question is, why is money from UK taxpayers – in the form of charitable donations – going to fund settlement activity?” Such donations, she insisted, “should be subject to proper scrutiny by the British government.”

In Israel - the Army has Full Access to Schools

Screaming: An Israeli officer drags five-year-old Wadi'a Maswadeh towards an army vehicle after he threw a stone at soldiers - Five-year-old Palestinian boy dragged away by Israeli soldiers who then bind and blindfold his father because the child threw stones at them 

Contrary to the myths of Israeli hasbara, it is in Israeli schools that the indoctrination of the settler young take place.  Arabs are the baddies in school books.  The terrorist is the Arab.  Army involvement in schools is from kindergarten upwards.  At the same time Israel is doing its best to prevent any independent Palestinian school network in Israel though it has suffered a setback with the attempt to cut the funds of the only independent group of schools, the Christian schools network mainly based around Nazareth.  
Tony Greenstein

Israel’s army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers
Zionist troops attacking Gaza

28 September 2015  Jonathan Cook

Close ties mean Israeli pupils are being raised to be ‘good soldiers’ rather than good citizens

Middle East Eye – 27 September 2015

The task for Israeli pupils: to foil an imminent terror attack on their school. But if they are to succeed, they must first find the clues using key words they have been learning in Arabic.

Arabic lesson plans for Israel’s Jewish schoolchildren have a strange focus.

Students and teachers create signs on June 30, 2015, to cover the racist graffiti spray painted on the walls of one of Israel's few mixed schools, the Hand in Hand in Jerusalem, the night before. (Courtesy: Hand in Hand)
Those matriculating in the language can rarely hold a conversation in Arabic. And almost none of the hundreds of teachers introducing Jewish children to Israel’s second language are native speakers, even though one in five of the population belong to the country’s Palestinian minority.

Israel's army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers

The reason, says Yonatan Mendel, a researcher at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, is that the teaching of Arabic in Israel’s Jewish schools is determined almost exclusively by the needs of the Israeli army.

Mendel’s recent research shows that officers from a military intelligence unit called Telem design much of the Arabic language curriculum. “Its involvement is what might be termed an ‘open secret’ in Israel,” he told MEE.

“The military are part and parcel of the education system. The goal of Arabic teaching is to educate the children to be useful components in the military system, to train them to become intelligence officers.”

Article: Israel's army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers | OpEdNews

Telem is a branch of Unit 8200, dozens of whose officers signed a letter last year revealing that their job was to pry into Palestinians’ sex lives, money troubles and illnesses. The information helped with “political persecution”, “recruiting collaborators” and “driving parts of Palestinian society against itself”, the officers noted.

Israeli military personnel visit Israeli kindergarten. Israel's army and schools work hand ...

Mendel said Arabic was taught “without sentiment”, an aim established in the state’s earliest years.

The fear was that, if students had a good relationship with the language and saw Arabs as potential friends, they might cross over to the other side and they would be of no use to the Israeli security system. That was the reason the field of Arabic studies was made free of Arabs.”

Officers in classroom

The teaching of Arabic is only one of the ways the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), as the Israeli military is known, reaches into Israeli classrooms, teachers and education experts have told MEE.

And many fear that the situation will only get worse under the new education minister, Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, the settler movement’s far-right party.

Most Jewish children in Israel are subject to a military draft when they matriculate from high school at the age of 17. Boys usually serve three years, and girls two.

However, the army and the recent rightwing governments of Benjamin Netanyahu have been concerned at the growing numbers who seek exemptions, usually on medical, psychological or religious grounds.

Israeli Defence Forces in schools

Nearly 300 schools have been encouraged to join an IDF-education ministry programme called “Path of Values”, whose official goal is to “strengthen the ties and cooperation between schools and the army”.

In practice, say teachers, it has led to regular visits to schools by army officers as well as reciprocal field trips to military bases for the children, as a way to encourage them to enlist when they finish school.

Although what takes place during visits is rarely publicised, the Israeli media reported in 2011 that on one simulated shooting exercise children had to fire their weapons at targets wearing a keffiyeh, or traditional Arab headdress.

“Militarism is in every aspect of our society, so it is not surprising it is prominent in schools too,” said Amit Shilo, an activist with New Profile, an organisation opposed to the influence of the army on Israeli public life.

“We are taught violence is the first and best solution to every problem, and that it is the way to solve our conflict with our neighbours.”

Fear of being sacked

MEE has had to conceal the identities of the teachers it spoke to, because the education ministry requires pre-approval of any interviews with the media.

Most of the teachers were concerned that they might be sacked if they were seen to be criticising official policy.

All the teachers noted that schools have come under mounting pressure to actively participate in the IDF programme.

Each school is now graded annually by the education ministry not only on its academic excellence but also on the draft rate among pupils and the percentages qualifying for elite units, especially in combat or intelligence roles.

Schools with a high draft rate can qualify for additional funding, said the teachers.

Ofer, a history teacher in the centre of the country, said: “When it comes to the older children, you have to accept as a teacher that the army is going to be inside the school and in your classroom. All the time the students are being prepared for conscription.

“The army is treated as something holy. There is no way to speak against the army at any point.”

Rachel Erhard, an education professor at Tel Aviv University, recently warned that Israel’s schools risked becoming like those of Sparta, the city in ancient Greece that famously trained its children from a young age to be warriors.

Public hounding

There are additional pressures on principals to participate, note teachers.

Zeev Dagani, head teacher of a leading Tel Aviv school who opted out of the programme at its launch in 2010, faced death threats and was called before a parliamentary committee to explain his actions.

The public hounding of teachers who oppose the militarisation of Israel’s education system, or are simply active outside the classroom in opposing the occupation, has continued.

Adam Verete, a Jewish philosophy teacher at a school in Tivon, near Haifa, was sacked last year after he hosted a class debate on whether the IDF could justifiably claim to be the world’s most moral army.

As the new school year started this month, parents and city mayors launched high-profile campaigns against two teachers for their anti-occupation views.

Avital Benshalom, who had just taken up her new post as head of the School of the Arts in Ashkelon, was forced to issue an apology for signing a petition 13 years ago supporting soldiers who refused to serve.

Herzl Schubert, a history teacher, similarly found himself facing a storm of protest after he was filmed taking part in a West Bank demonstration in support of the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh during the summer vacation.

Notably, neither Bennett nor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened to support the two teachers’ right to free speech.

Racist depictions

Teachers and education experts who spoke to MEE said such incidents had created a climate of fear that was intended to intimidate other teachers.

Neve, a history teacher at a school near Tel Aviv, said: “Teachers are afraid to speak out. The pressure comes not just from the education ministry but from pupils and parents too. The principals are terrified something bad will happen to the school’s reputation.”

The education ministry declined to respond to the accusations.

Teachers and education experts point to examples of collusion between schools and the IDF in all aspects of the education system.

Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a professor of education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said her studies of Israeli textbooks showed depictions of Arabs and Palestinians were “racist both verbally and visually”.

“They are necessary to legitimise a Jewish state, the history of massacres of Arabs, discrimination against Palestinian citizens and a lack of human rights in the occupation territories,” she told MEE.

“The aim is to create good soldiers, those who are prepared to torture and kill and still think they are doing the best for the nation.”

Separate studies of maps in textbooks have shown three-quarters do not indicate the Green Line separating Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories, suggesting the whole area accords with the right’s idea of Greater Israel.

Revital, an Arabic language teacher, said the army’s lesson plans were popular with pupils. “I don’t approve of them, but the students like them. They celebrate and laugh when they kill the terrorists.”
Revital said she had been disciplined for speaking her mind in class and was now much more cautious.

“You end up hesitating before saying anything that isn’t what everyone else is saying. I find myself hesitating a lot more than I did 20 years ago. There is a lot more fascism and racism around in the wider society,” she said.

Holocaust studies

Some of the close ties between the IDF and the education system are well known.
The education ministry funds several prestigious schools, such as the Reali in Haifa, whose students combine education with military training as cadets.

Ofer said many senior teachers and principals were recruited directly from the army, when they retired at 45. “They then go on to a second career instilling ‘Zionist values’ into the students,” he said.
But the examples of overtly militarised education tend to overshadow the more subtle engineering of the curriculum of ordinary schools, complain teachers.

There are particular concerns about the emphasis in the curriculum on the Holocaust, including a decision last year to extend mandatory Holocaust studies to all ages, including kindergartens.

Following objections from the small leftwing Mertz party, the then education minister, Shai Piron, instructed kindergartens that soldiers should not bring guns into the classroom to ensure children’s safety.

Meretz legislator Tamar Zandberg, however, observed that uniformed soldiers should not be in kindergartens in the first place.

“People see inserting the army into the educational system as something natural, and it’s time that the educational system internalized the fact that its place is to educate to civic values,” she said.

Neve said the students no longer learnt about human rights or universal values in history classes.
“Now it’s all about Jewish history – and the Holocaust is at the centre of it.
“When we take the children to the deaths camps in Poland, the message is that everyone is against the Jews and we have to fight for our survival. They are filled with fear.
“The conclusion most draw is that, if we had had an army then, the Holocaust could have been stopped and the Jewish people saved.”

Atmosphere of fear

The teachers said an atmosphere of fear and sense of victimhood dominated classrooms and translated into a young generation even more rightwing than their parents.

David, who teaches computer sciences in a Galilee school, said: “You have to watch yourself because the pupils are getting more nationalistic, more religious all the time. The society, the media and the education system are all moving to the right.”

A 2010 survey found that 56 per cent of Jewish pupils believed their fellow Palestinian citizens should be stripped of the vote, and 21 per cent thought it was legitimate to call out “Death to the Arabs”.

Subjects that have become particularly vulnerable to the promotion of military values, according to teachers, are Arabic, history and civics.

Naftali Bennett brought in a new head of civics in July. Asaf Malach is a political ally who believes the Palestinians should not be allowed a state.

A history lesson plan proposed last year, shortly after Israel’s 51-day attack on Gaza that left at least 500 Palestinian children dead, encouraged pupils to be “Jewish fighters”, modelling themselves on the Biblical figure of Joshua.

But Revital said most teachers were not concerned by these developments. “Out of the 100 teachers in my school, maybe two or three think like me. The rest think it’s important the army are in the school.”

Among those is Amit, who teaches Judaism in central Israel. He said: “Inviting soldiers into the classroom is not just about encouraging the students to enlist but for us to talk about the value of solidarity and the contribution every person can make to society.

“Our job is to prepare them for future challenges, and that includes the army. We can’t ignore the reality that we live in a country where there are soldiers everywhere.”

Neve, however, said hopes of ending Israel’s conflicts in the region depended on bringing a more civilian ethos back into schools.

“If our students don’t learn about others’ history, about the Palestinians, then how can they develop empathy for them? Without it, there can be no hope of peace.”