By Susan Schwartz, TMO
The Levantine Cultural Center hosted an informative and thought provoking event last week at their Los Angeles headquarters.
Titled: LAPD Spying, Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, and the Israeli Connection, the event was one in a series of continuing discussions about the Middle East.
The organizers were the Levantine Cultural Center and LA Jews for Peace. The sponsoring organization was Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.
Two speakers prominent in their fields, Hamid Khan and Max Blumenthal, were featured.
Hamid Khan described himself as a Community Organizer and a civil rights activist.He is an organizer for the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The Coalition wants to expose to the public the spying techniques and the goals of Los Angeles law enforcement which represent a de facto nullification of our civil liberties.
The Coalition seeks to raise such awareness with the goals of advancing a conversation on the existing conditions and building a coalition to oppose it.
There are two parts to the LAPD program. The first is the use of SARs – Suspicious Activities Reports. If a person engages in an activity that the observing officer deems â€œsuspiciousâ€ – suspicious being subjective and un quantifiable – the officer will write up a SAR report. The person observed will not be told nor will he have access to it, but it will follow him wherever he goes for the rest of his life. The â€œsuspiciousâ€ activity may include such benign actions as using binoculars, taking photographs, or inquiring of a business what their hours of operation are.
The second part is termed iwatch. It is a restatement of the â€œif you see something, say somethingâ€ idea. It makes members of a community inform on their neighbors and report to the LAPD. It is a form of infiltration by the police of local neighborhoods and its twin is racial profiling.
Max Blumenthal is the author of the best selling book: â€œGoliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.â€ The topic of his address, which segued perfectly into Mr. Khanâ€™s presentation, is that we have in the United States the Israelification of national security. Minority and progressive communities are the first victims of the growing police state surveillance. In this, these groups are the minerâ€™s canary, for eventually we are all in danger of losing our civil liberties.
In the early days of the state of Israel, survival was not a certainty. Some 80% of Gazans were forced out of Israel, and were described by Israel as infiltrators. Zionism was and is a settler – colonial policy. Israel had to be armed and ready at all times, and this led to the development of surveillance techniques and weaponry no other nation had. Israel could not live with Gazans, and, not only did they in effect exile them, they made them into a laboratory. What better place to test Israeli security apparatus but Gaza?
During the Cold War Israeli expertise went to Guatemala and apartheid South Africa. The Israeli soldier became the model for the Guatemalan soldier; the Israeliâ€™s Uzi became the Guatemalan soldierâ€™s weapon of choice.
No nation had to be on its guard like Israel. No nation needed to develop its surveillance and oppressive materiel like Israel. And, whatâ€™s more, no nation had a ready made area in which to field test its weapons as Israel did in Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel is pushing terrorism with Islam as the enemy and â€œas having an insatiable crocodile appetite.â€
The United States adopted a drone policy from Israel, the latter using it in Gaza with the resulting disproportionate force. Most of Israelâ€™s technology goes to developing nations and to our citiesâ€™ police departments.
In the United States pro-Israel groups sponsor trips to Israel by law enforcement officers. In Israel these men and women are taught Israelâ€™s version of the Holocaust, and they learn to blur the distinction between criminals and terrorists.
The mayor of Washington, D. C said that â€œIsrael is the Harvard of anti-terrorism.â€
A lively question and answer session followed the presentation. So intriguing was the subject matter and so learned were the speakers that the session continued for two days after the event via e mail discussion.
The following web sites will be of interest to the reader: The Levantine Cultural Center at: www.levantinecenter,org; LA Jews for Peace: www.lajewsforpeace.org; Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace: www.icujp.org.