Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld the denial of a Freedom of Information request to make public documents about Israeli defense exports to Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide in that country. Israel continued to supply Rwanda with arms even though they knew a genocide was taking place in the country and there was a weapons embargo against it.
In 2014, attorney Eitay Mack and Prof. Yair Auron submitted a request to the Defense Ministry under the Freedom of Information Law, asking for details of Israeli arms exports to Rwanda between 1990 and 1995. In 1994, hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi minority were slaughtered by the Hutu majority during Rwanda’s civil war.
In their request, the two wrote, “According to various reports in Israel and abroad, the defense exports to Rwanda ostensibly violated international law, at least during the period of the weapons embargo imposed by the UN Security Council.” The Defense Ministry refused the request, saying this information “was not to be divulged.”
Mack and Auron appealed this decision to the Tel Aviv District Court, sitting as a court of administrative affairs. In December 2014 the court upheld the ministry’s decision, saying that providing the information would “with near-certainty” undermine state security and international relations. Mack and Auron then appealed to the Supreme Court.
“There is no doubt that the State of Israel and the defense and foreign ministries knew very well what was going on in Rwanda in real time, just as the entire world knew,” the two wrote in their appeal, adding that the government “continues to impose on the Israeli public a denial of Israeli involvement in the genocide there.” Mack and Auron argued that the lower court did not consider the public interest in publishing the information.
But the Supreme Court panel, comprising Court President Justice Miriam Naor and justices Isaac Amit and Neal Hendel, unanimously rejected the appeal. Amit wrote that although in principle “there is public interest in the requested information,” it did not tip the scales in favor of revealing it. The ruling states that the court was shown, ex parte, certain materials by the state that led the justices to conclude that the Defense Ministry decision was based solely on relevant considerations.
“We found that under the circumstances the disclosure of the information sought does not advance the public interest claimed by the appellants to the extent that it takes preference and precedence over the claims of harm to state security and international relations,” the court wrote.
“The ruling is mistaken and immoral. The State of Israel only loses from it,” Mack said after the verdict was issued. “At no point during the proceedings was there a denial that there were defense exports during the genocide; the Defense Ministry found the official documents about it and the justices examined them. In our opinion, it is this continued concealment that harms state security and its international relations. We will continue to fight to expose the truth and bring to justice those Israelis who abetted the serious crimes committed in Rwanda,” Mack said.
By African Globe Editorial_Staff
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
The U.S. has deployed at least 1,500 troops to the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions, with little public debate and what experts call an unclear strategy.
America’s little-known war on terrorists in Africa is becoming more perilous as the U.S. deploys growing numbers of troops to the continent’s most lawless regions, including the part of Niger where four special operations soldiers died in an ambush last week.
The escalation is occurring with little public debate — and, some military experts say, too little attention from top decision-makers in Washington. The U.S. military presence in the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions has grown to at least 1,500 troops, roughly triple the official number of American troops in Syria, according to Pentagon and White House figures.
As with Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the dispatch of hundreds of additional U.S. troops to countries like Niger, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Uganda and South Sudan is another instance where President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric hasn’t kept his administration from being drawn deeper into far-flung war zones. And the U.S. lacks a comprehensive strategy for pursuing its mission in Africa, military and intelligence experts told POLITICO.
“I don’t think there is any congressional oversight in this,” said Michael Shurkin, a former CIA analyst specializing in Africa who is now a researcher at the Rand Corp., a Pentagon-funded think tank.
He also pointed to vacancies in top policymaking posts in the State and Defense departments, saying they’ve left military operations such as Africa Command and its special operations component “pretty much doing their own thing.”
“It is not that there is a good policy or bad policy,” Shurkin said. “There is just no policy. It is inertia.”
Last week’s deadly attack has thrust into the limelight a series of dangerous military deployments that normally receive scant attention compared with the far larger military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A central focus of the mission is the vast desert nation of Niger, nearly twice the size of Texas, which has been a magnet for jihadists of many stripes, including those recruited locally and so-called foreign fighters drawn from North Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
In June, the official number of U.S. troops supporting Niger’s military as it fights the militant groups was 645, up from 575 in December 2016. But now it’s at least 800, according to the Pentagon.
Many of the troops are Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders, but officials said the reinforcements have mostly been Air Force personnel who are there to manage a surge in surveillance flights by unmanned drones and manned spy planes.
That’s a significant jump from the 100 troops that then-President Barack Obama deployed to Niger in 2013, notes a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. “This trend has coincided with sizable increases in U.S. security assistance for African countries over the past decade, of which Niger has been a major beneficiary.”
Plans are also underway to accommodate more forces, including $50 million that the Air Force requested to construct an air strip in the northern city of Agadez, considered one of the most volatile areas of the country.
The U.S. military presence has also been expanding elsewhere in the region.
As of June, another 300 U.S. troops were operating in neighboring Cameroon, up from 285 in December, according to the White House notifications to Congress required under the War Powers Act.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Maj. Audricia Harris, confirmed the increase in American troops in Niger but did not respond to inquiries about more up-to-date U.S. troop levels elsewhere in the region.
U.S. intelligence has warned in recent months about the growing Islamic militant threat in the region that stretches from Mali in the northwest to South Sudan and Uganda in East Africa — and a number of countries in between.
“In North and West Africa, al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) escalated its attacks on Westerners in 2016 with two high-profile attacks in Burkina Faso and Cote d’lvoire,” Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, reported to Congress in May. “It merged with allies in 2017 to form a new group intended to promote unity among Mali-based jihadists, extend the jihad beyond the Sahara and Sahel region, increase military action, and speed up recruitment of fighters.”
Current and former military officials say the distinction between advising and combat is blurring as U.S. troops expand their footprint and increase the patrols they conduct in terrorist sanctuaries alongside local allies.
“You’re damn right they’re in harm’s way,” said a former military officer with direct knowledge of the Africa operations who was not authorized to speak publicly, “because we are accompanying the indigenous forces and those forces are fighting an active, thinking enemy there.”
The level of danger to U.S. troops had been on display even before the deadly ambush in Niger last week.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee, said after the attack that “this was the first attack on U.S. forces on the ground in Niger.”
But two military officers — one current and one former — with direct knowledge of the operations in Niger told POLITICO that troops had previously been injured by an improvised explosive device or mine, though it remains unclear whether Americans were deliberately targeted in that incident.
The ill-fated patrol last week was an Expeditionary Forces mission, in a part of the country where troops are trying to hunt down and disrupt convoys of smugglers who travel through Niger’s open brush land from Mali and Chad to Libya carrying arms and terrorist funds. It is one of several areas in the broader Lake Chad Basin where advisers accompany the Expeditionary Forces and other local units.
While the Americans “stay back from actual raid,” the former military officer related, sometimes advisers have been under fire.
“We would go to the last covered and concealed spot” when going along with partner forces on a combat mission and then stay back from the actual raid, the former military source said. “But of course there’s no concealment out there” in an arid landscape with little vegetation to hide behind.
But as the military effort ramps up, so have concerns that the Trump administration lacks a comprehensive strategy for the region. Such a strategy would also emphasize more non-military tools such as economic aid and cooperation with allies to strengthen democratic institutions in some of the world’s poorest nations.
“There is a tendency to militarize things by deferring to the military,” Shurkin said, adding that the military effort “should be part of a larger strategy that will include other types of assistance.”
“You will end up with this piecemeal approach — focused on military stuff but in a very narrow way,” he added, noting that the U.S. military is only training a few elite units in these nations.
A senior State Department official on Wednesday told Congress that the administration is seeking to do more to assist countries hardest hit by the scourge of terrorist groups.
Donald Yamamoto, an acting assistant secretary of state, told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that the the administration’s $5.2 billion foreign aid budget next year will give priority to Mali, Nigeria and other African nations where Islamic terrorist groups have gained strength.
He called promoting these fragile states “a critical priority for the United States in Africa.”
But Congress received a warning last week that the larger U.S. military presence, along with that of other allies like the French, may already be angering local populations prone to the jihadist message.
“The growing foreign military footprint in the country appears to have fed a local backlash against both the government and Western countries,” the Congressional Research Service report said.
“One risk is that it is ineffectual and we are wasting money,” Shurkin said of the African counterterrorism mission. “We can also make things worse. Mucking around you bound to inflame things, exacerbate problems. We have no idea who these people are, which could be very, very dangerous.”
Army Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, who oversees all Army special operations forces, pledged in an address Wednesday to the Association of the United States Army in Washington to get to the bottom of what happened to the troops killed in Niger last week.
“I think we owe that to the American people, we owe that to the mothers, fathers, and wives of the fallen, to look critically from every echelon to see if we can do our job better,” Tovo said. “I think it highlights the fact that really every mission around the world that we’re undertaking has got elements of risk.”
Both military sources with knowledge of the Niger operations questioned just how much the missions are accomplishing.
“I would be hesitant to say we and the Nigeriens are having significant effects in that part of Niger up near Mali,” said the former officer.
“We’re having an effect,” he added. “Is it going to win the war? No, because the war will never end.Post Views: 822
If you truly knew what the N-word meant to our ancestors, you’d NEVER use it. It was used and still can be used to make us hate ourselvesBy Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
A few years ago, I read slave narratives to explore the lives of black agricultural workers after the end of the Civil War. The narratives came from the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, a program that employed researchers from 1936 to 1938 to interview former enslaved people, producing more than 2,300 narratives that, thankfully, reside online and are fully searchable.
Those whom the law defined as property recounted various unique human experiences — their daily horrors and monotonies, how they freed themselves or learned of their emancipation, the surge of exhilaration upon securing freedom, and how they endured life on the edges of a white supremacist society in the decades thereafter.
As I pored over the narratives, I was struck less by their experiences, as heartrending as they were, than by how their experiences sculpted their self-perceptions. The best explanation of what I gleaned, what social scientists called internalized oppression, describes the psychological trauma that ensues when a person from a stigmatized group believes those negative stigmas.
White folk indoctrinated them into accepting their supposed inferiority. These narratives illustrate the success of this campaign of mental terrorism, and no word conveyed the depth of this internalized oppression more than “nigger.” Now, whenever I hear the epithet, a visual and emotional representation of the heinous process by which a people — my people — were induced to think they were less than trespasses into my thoughts. After years of habitual use of “nigger,” I banished it from my speech to honor the humanity that many never saw in themselves.
The internalized oppression revealed itself in various ways. Sometimes the former enslaved people clearly, perhaps subconsciously, considered themselves subhuman, just like how their former owners regarded them. Jim Allen, for example, dubbed himself his master’s “pet nigger boy” and a “stray” and thought himself privileged because he could sleep on the floor beside his master’s bed. That he likened himself to a fortunate mangy mutt or frisky feline crushed me. The word laid bare a worldview that held black folk as a lower order of being, as when Irene Robertson claimed her former master Mr. Sanders was mean, in part, because “he beat his wife like he beat a nigger woman.”
“Nigger” also signaled antipathy toward fellow black folk. After the end of slavery, Mattie Mooreman went north to Wisconsin with a white family for whom she worked. Members of the family wanted her to go to the circus to watch a black boy’s performance. She told her interviewer, “Guess they thought it would be a treat to me to see another niggah. I told ’em, ‘Law, don’t you think I see lots, lots more than I wants, every day when I is at home?’ ” But read how she talks about the family’s baby, whom she constantly watched over, fearing, irrationally, someone would kidnap him: “No matter what time they come home they’d find me there. ‘Why don’t you go in your bedroom and lie down?’ they’d ask me. ‘No,’ I’d tell ’em, ‘somebody might come in, and they would have to get that baby over my dead body.” Her eyes fixated on the white baby, but she saw too many niggers.
A barrage of dispiriting uses of the word bloodied me as I combed through the narratives. “The Ku Klux kept the niggers scared.” “The Ku Klux did a whole lot to keep the niggers away from the polls. …” Slaves owned by “nice” masters are repeatedly called “free niggers.” “Niggers ain’t got no sense. Put ’em in authority and they gits so uppity.” “I’se just a poor old nigger waitin’ for Jesus to come and take me to heaven.” Slave traders are called “nigger traders.” Defiant enslaved people required the service of a “niggerbreaker.” “Nigger dogs” aided the recapture of those who escaped.
Perhaps more depressing, ironically, was that circumstances sometimes led them to opt against calling a black person a nigger. William Porter stated that “some of the Tennessee niggers was called free niggers. There was a colored man in Pulaski, Tennessee, who owned slaves.” A black man who kept others in bondage — he’s a “colored man,” yet those who were owned were “niggers.” I instantly thought of a moment from the O.J.: Made in America documentary when a white woman who saw black people talking to Simpson uttered, “Look at those niggers sitting with O.J.” Simpson delights in hearing this because she “knew I wasn’t black. She saw me as O.J.” Porter’s outlook matched that of both the racist white woman and the unspeakably racially deranged O.J.
Since reading those narratives, I’ve noticed this mindset when perusing the remarks of freed people in other contexts. For example, before the trial of Rufus Martin, a black man who stood accused of the 1903 murder of Charles Swackhammer, a woman whom the Fort Worth Star-Telegram referred to as an “old negress who occupied a front seat in the court room” bellowed:
It’s the white people that is to blame. They know that they got to make niggahs work or they ain’t no good and they know as long as they ‘low niggah men to loaf aroun’ low down saloons they ain’t goin’ to work. This man come from a good niggah fam’ly — one of the best I knows of, but the p’lice ‘lowed him to loaf aroun’ without workin’, and to drink and gamble, till he just got to be no good and thought he didn’t have to work. The p’lice ought to raid them low down niggah saloons every day and every night till they make every blessed one of the niggah toughs go to work or else send ’em all to the county road. Them saloons is what makes bad niggahs and the white folks is to blame for it, ’cause they let ’em run.
That Martin sported a reddish mustache, light hair and skin so bright he could pass for white almost certainly colored her perception that Martin came from a “good niggah fam’ly.”
Black folk rescued the word from the smoldering debris of a virulently racist land, reclaimed it and renovated the slur into a celebration of black comradery — defenders of contemporary usage of “nigger” repeat this. When this tale collides with reality, however, it shatters as a misreading of history — the current use of the word is owed less to white folk calling black folk “nigger” and more to black folk who thought they were niggers and said so. Black people have hurled the infamous word for nearly as long as white folk have. It exists within black speech now because it existed within black speech then. The uncomfortable truth must be confronted: Absent the internalized oppression of those who called white men and women their masters, “nigger” would probably not be a part of black folk’s lexicon. We black folk are reclaiming it not from bigoted white folk but from our ancestors, who, sadly, deemed their blackness a badge of inferiority.
I seek not to usher the word to the gallows. I harbor no aims to kill it. I can still bump a Young Thug track or chortle at a Dave Chappelle routine. “Nigger” does not bar my enjoyment of popular culture. My soul, though, winces whenever I hear it. The decision for black people to include it in their vocabulary, nonetheless, remains personal, and I reject the criticism of black folk who continue to wield it.
I write only to summon the words of former enslaved people from beyond the grave to express that “nigger” is haunted by the ghosts of hate and the more spiritually chilling ghosts of self-hate.
Brando Simeo Starkey is an associate editor at The Undefeated and the author of In Defense of Uncle Tom: Why Blacks Must Police Racial Loyalty. He crawled through a river of books and came out brilliant on the other side.Post Views: 568
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
Many folks try to make a dollar out of 15 cents, but African-Americans don’t always take those nickels and dimes to a bank.
More than 18% of African-Americans don’t have traditional bank accounts, compared with 7% of all Americans, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But where banks don’t fill the bill, communities have created their own solutions, including grass roots traditions and minority-owned banks and credit unions.
“People turn to the alternative forms of financing and credit because they don’t have the same access [to mainstream services],” says Vicki Bogan, associate professor of economics at Cornell University. “And that’s perfectly rational.”
For much of American history, legislation restricted minority access to mainstream financial services. Bogan points to segregation and Jim Crow laws that barred blacks from regular banks and forced them to look for other options.
One informal alternative is called a “sou-sou.” Also known as rotating savings and credit associations, sou-sous can help people save money without using a savings account.
Here’s how they work: Every week or so, the members each contribute a set amount of cash, and one member takes home the pool. This rotates until every member has received a payout. Members won’t see their savings grow, but in the end, the amount paid in equals the amount received. Prevalent in West African and Caribbean immigrant communities in the U.S., sou-sous are used virtually all over the world.
More formally, black-owned banks once flourished, Bogan says: At least 134 were founded in the U.S. between 1888 to 1934. And though there are fewer today, these banks and other nonstandard financing remain relevant.
Nikki Beasley is the executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services in Richmond, California, a nonprofit that connects low-income families to housing. She worked as a bank manager for 25 years and sees mistrust of banks and subtle cues from bankers as modern-day obstacles for people of color who want to enter the banking system.
“If a person doesn’t look a certain way or isn’t perceived to look [worthy of] service, the level of interaction and engagement tends to shift” on the banker’s part, Beasley says. That lack of engagement can discourage people from opening accounts.
Individual bank employees aren’t the only hurdle. Since 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined several banks for illegally denying fair access to credit or overcharging for loans because of customers’ race.
Black-owned banks can ease these worries for customers. Not every community has one, but online and mobile banking have made it easier for potential customers to find alternatives.
Last year, rapper Killer Mike encouraged black Americans to open accounts in minority-owned banks, kicking off the #BankBlack movement. Celebrities including Usher and Solange Knowles have also announced their support for black banks.
But Beasley says that while the internet can help spread awareness of black-owned banks, some consumers might meet a fully virtual experience with skepticism. “They may need an education component” to set up and learn to navigate online tools, she says.
For Maggie Anderson, switching to black-owned Liberty Bank was a matter of supporting her community.
Anderson is the author of “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy,” a book based on her experience shopping solely at black-owned businesses for 12 months. She was having an anniversary dinner with her husband 10 years ago when something clicked.
“The whole time we were there, we talked about all the crises in our community, the poverty, unemployment…and then the check came and we paid the bill. And that’s when we realized that we are a part of the problem,” Anderson says. “Our people needed that money. Our businesses needed that money. Our community is only as strong as our businesses and banks.”
No matter how you choose to bank, it’s important to do your research, Bogan says. “Make sure you know what type of products and services you’re using, what are the costs, what are the benefits, what are the risks.”Post Views: 687