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US and Israel march in lockstep towards expansion of military detention

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 31 Comments
Guantanamo Bay (Photo via

President Barack Obama is set to sign legislation that would codify “indefinite detention without trial into US law and expand the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects.” And as a wave of predictable settler violence, this time against the Israeli army, engulfs Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced measures that would expand the use of Israeli military detention without charge and military trials. The events give new meaning to the phrase “shared values” when explaining the US and Israel relationship.

Here’s Human Rights Watch, via Glenn Greenwald, on the US legislation:

US President Barack Obama’s apparent decision to not veto a defense spending bill that codifies indefinite detention without trial into US law and expands the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the bill, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over detainee provisions, but on December 14, 2011, it issued a statement indicating the president would likely sign the legislation.

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”

The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.

In Israel, “administrative detention,” or “detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order,” has long been used to keep Palestinians locked up “for prolonged periods of time,” according to B’Tselem. And the new Israeli measures, ostensibly aimed at radical violent settlers, have worried some Israelis that the “new steps would also be used against” Israeli Palestine solidarity activists in the West Bank, as the New York Times reports. B’Tselem has also come out against Israeli steps to expand military detention.

The US and Israeli moves are not identical, to be sure. But the thread that ties these events together is this: The “war on terror,” a “war” in which the US and Israel both claim to be fighting the same fight by locking up non-citizens they declare to be “terrorists,” has come back home for Israeli and US citizens. And for those who might cheer for Israeli military measures against violent settlers, worries that the expansion of military detention could also affect leftist Israelis should be taken into account. As the US case shows, what happens to “them” can quickly become what happens to “us.”

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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31 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    December 16, 2011, 11:38 am

    When the Times editorial board says this, “This is a complete political cave-in, one that reinforces the impression of a fumbling presidency. To start with, this bill was utterly unnecessary. Civilian prosecutors and federal courts have jailed hundreds of convicted terrorists, while the tribunals have convicted a half-dozen.”

    you know you F’d up.

    I would say though, dissenters during the first world war, japanese americans during the second world war and “leftists” during the McCarthy era would have something to say about this latest affront to civil liberties being referred to as, “Israelification” – our own demons seem to be plenty strong enough already……

    And the march toward neo-feudalism continues……pretty soon, talking about The Enlightenment will be a crime…

    • Charon
      December 16, 2011, 1:00 pm

      pretty soon, talking about The Enlightenment will be a crime…

      I think that’s kinda the point. The ruling class want to bring about another dark age. Abrahamism’s original sin starts with eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) which results in the ‘fall of man.’ Knowledge, knowing the truth, is ‘sinful’ to the few who really know the truth. Because when the truth gets out, the game is over.

      There has been several times in history where the truth began to spread. The Internet is the greatest tool we’ve ever had. Quirks aside, even Google has the ability to translate any language. There are chat programs that do the same. Every time this has happened in history it was followed by disaster. Plague, religious persecution if you don’t convert, suppression of writing and philosophy. The mother of all conspiracy theories. Except it isn’t a theory. It’s a fact. The ruling class want to hold on to their dynasties no matter what the human cost is. The useful idiots under them will endlessly argue among themselves completely oblivious that the real bad guy is the elite PTB laughing at them from the sidelines.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        December 16, 2011, 1:21 pm

        Agreed. Big Time. Cheers, Charon.

      • Exiled At Home
        Exiled At Home
        December 16, 2011, 2:58 pm

        The so-called “Dark Ages” were the most advanced in history up to that point. People really need to get over the false conception that because religion was inextricably tied to everyday life that Europe was somehow backwards. Great leaps in physics, mathematics, sciences (astronomy, seismology, biology, etc), art, architecture, conceptualizations of international law, free-markets, evidentiary trials, the university system, rational debate, etc. sprang forth from the so-called “Dark Ages,” and they sprung forth with the backing of the Catholic Church. One can fixate over the fate of Galileo and extrapolate a larger theme, but that doesn’t make it so. There’s a very interesting book on the subject by Thomas Woods, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.”

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 16, 2011, 4:03 pm

        “The so-called ‘Dark Ages’ were the most advanced in history up to that point.

        Oh, nonsense. They weren’t even the most advanced in history at the time. The Chinese culture was leaps and bounds more advanced. Compared to them, Europe at the time was a barely civilized backwater.

        And while I agree that the myth of the 5th-15th Centuries as being a dark age is exaggerated, the notion of the Catholic Church as an incubator of advancement is as mythical, if not moreso. The Church was powerful and these advances occurred. But that did not mean that the advances sprang from the Church or that the advances would not have been as great or greater without out. My view is that they were inevitable simply based on the fact that each generation builds on the knowledge of its predecessors and the Church’s governance was equally as bad as most any in contemplation at the time. Until the Enlightenment, the race between types of governments was really a race to be the least bad.

        Finally, I would really think twice about recommending anything written by a neo-Confederate like Woods.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 16, 2011, 5:20 pm


        link to”

        Hmmm. That is very interesting. I did notice that very few of them are from the current age, and, indeed, almost none of them did any work in the 20th or 21st century at all.

        It is almost as if, when the Catholic Church also had secular political power, and therefore could controlled such things as the education, facilities and resources necessary to pursue scientific works, scientific-minded folks were drawn to clerical careers and that, as that power waned, the Church was suddenly deemed a less attriactive place for those people.

        Although, I will admit that the Vatican does seem to promote astronomy and the planetary science. I mean that sincerely.

      • Exiled At Home
        Exiled At Home
        December 16, 2011, 6:45 pm


        I’m not quite following your snark. It sounds though that you’re implying the only reason so many Catholic clerics were scientists is because already scientific-minded individuals felt they could further their credibility by joining the intrusively all power Church. However, absent any evidence of such motivations, your assertion sounds like nothing more than a baseless attempt merge the reality (that the Church was behind most scientific progress of the so-called Dark Ages) with your own prejudices (that the Church is inherently hostile to science). Without any substantiation of your wild theory, I’ll take it as nothing more than back-pedaling and posturing in the face of an “interesting” revelation that the majority of scientists during that age were Catholic priests or monks.

      • Exiled At Home
        Exiled At Home
        December 16, 2011, 10:37 pm

        Rereading my last post, it comes off a bit aggressive. I apologize, not my intention. I just feel that the average American’s perception of the Church is unfairly fueled by a pro-Enlightenment, WASP education system. Not all that much unlike I-P. The topic is inundated in propaganda and seeped in prejudice that most are not the slightest bit aware of. It bothers me.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 19, 2011, 4:17 pm


        I was merely attempting to note (and I apologize if I did so snarkishly (snarkily??)) the fact that the Catholic Church’s societal role at that point in time, in those cultures was much different than it is today and it had roles which encompassed areas which today are totally secular. So it should come as no surprise that someone interested in scientific research in those societies would have be part of the Church structure, given the necessity of support and patronage to do those things and the fact that the Church provided them, but it was not the church acting as a religious institution, but as a social and governing institution.

    • Keith
      December 16, 2011, 2:29 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- “And the march toward neo-feudalism continues….”

      It is, after all, the apparent objective of neo-liberal globalization. The formation of a super rich capitalist nobility to rule over the mass of people locked in debt servitude. All of it ultimately driven by debt money and compound interest in a private financial system. A system bound to collapse with incalculable consequences. Our greatest enemy our own elites. Not being superstitious, I can only conclude that the Mayan calendar is an incredible coincidence.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        December 16, 2011, 2:51 pm

        when i typed that last line, i thought – “i bet keith will like this”

        great minds think alike, eh? haha. Yea, we’re either royally F’d – or the guillotines are coming….give you one guess what my preference is….

      • December 16, 2011, 2:53 pm

        Don’t forget that the world can not hold us all ,and many of us are destined to perish ASAP according to the masterplan of our “representative” elites, that hold an iron grip on most of the current, world governments.
        So, maybe instead of saying “”drums of war” are beating ,
        it’s more correct to say: “drums of our doom” are geting louder and louder.

    • Hostage
      December 18, 2011, 1:07 am

      this latest affront to civil liberties being referred to as, “Israelification” – our own demons seem to be plenty strong enough already

      When articles here point out the cross-pollination between our intelligence services on torture methods (that aren’t in the Army Field Manual) I’ve always bitten my tongue. The Army’s School of the Americas copy of that one is still new (and in unused condition). Unfortunately for us and much of Latin America, our armed forces never needed any help from Israel in the torture department.

      Both countries seem to have publicized their cooperation more in recent years, but I think they are just giving one another cover as if everyone else is doing the same.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        December 18, 2011, 9:28 am

        smart hostage, per usual…..

  2. seafoid
    December 16, 2011, 11:53 am

    It’s amazing to look at that picture and think that for all its contempt of international law the US lost the war in Iraq.

  3. December 16, 2011, 12:05 pm

    The noose is getting tighter around our necks.

  4. Boycott Israel on Campus
    Boycott Israel on Campus
    December 16, 2011, 12:14 pm

    It would be nice to see some audible call for the boycott of Israel now, before that too is outlawed.

    In a major U.S. university’s student government, it’s now officially forbidden to compare the Israeli army to the Ku Klux Klan:

    (The article is entitled “Michigan Student Association accused of stifling speech on Israel-Palestine”)

  5. HarryLaw
    December 16, 2011, 12:31 pm

    If Newt Gingrich believes that all Palestinians are terrorists and a US court can send a person who organises a charity to relieve the sufferings of a people under a ruthless military occupation to 65 years in prison[Holy Land Foundation]then its possible that coming down the pike, is legislation that could make anyone campaigning for Palestinian self determination or Human rights a suspect, in fact they probably already are, so open to interpretation is this legislation and meant to be [the chill effect] that you would not know you were a suspect until you were sharing a brig for the rest of your life with Phil Weiss and dozens of people who comment on Mondoweiss.

    • lysias
      December 16, 2011, 12:58 pm

      If Newt Gingrich believes that all Palestinians are terrorists and the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the executive branch to imprison indefinitely at an undisclosed location without recourse anyone it suspects of involvement with terrorism, how far away are we from an internment of all Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans within the U.S.?

      • radkelt
        December 16, 2011, 11:10 pm

        and if you are occupying a public place to protest a corrupt financial
        system and/or a bought and paid for congress, you clearly are a terrorist.

  6. seafoid
    December 16, 2011, 12:37 pm

    Maybe Phil Weiss can riff on this
    “But would the Jewish people be better off today if there were no Jewish state, if we lived only with the dream of the biblical prophets?”

    Would a torturing nihilistic fascist Jewish state be better than no Jewish state ?

    • Charon
      December 16, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Eric Cantor is a disgusting treasonous pig. “Culture of resentment and hatred” ???? That comment should be directed at his Zionist kin, not the Palestinians. For the Zionists are the culture of resentment and hatred. That’s not even an opinion. What an ironic thing to say. These political pigs attacking the Palestinians (Cantor, Gingrich, etc.) are shooting themselves in the foot. You just don’t go demonizing an entire people. Zionists are not an entire people by the way so yeah they can be demonized. Witty’s Zionism is a fantasy that doesn’t exist. Real Zionism is Jewish in name only, there is nothing Jewish about Zionism. It’s time to take the pigs to the slaughter house.

    • Hostage
      December 18, 2011, 1:25 am

      “If Palestinians want to live in a state of their own they must demonstrate they are worthy of state.”

      Eric Cantor needs reminding that the UNSCOP and Ad Hoc Committees did not unanimously agree on partition, but they did unanimously agree with the British government, the Jewish Agency, and the Arab Higher Committee in insisting that the non-self-governing status of the territory of Palestine should be terminated as soon as possible, but no later than October of 1948.

      • seafoid
        December 18, 2011, 12:16 pm

        What do they have to do to prove they are worthy of a state? They have been playing this charade since 1991 .
        It’s like some older pervert stringing along a naive woman promising marriage. The Hebrew for Bad Faith is Zionism.

  7. Justice Please
    Justice Please
    December 16, 2011, 2:59 pm

    The US and Israel really want to be known as the new evil Achsenmächte, don’t they?

  8. DICKERSON3870
    December 16, 2011, 3:11 pm

    RE: “the thread that ties these events together is this: The ‘war on terror,’ a ‘war’ in which the US and Israel both claim to be fighting the same fight by locking up non-citizens they declare to be ‘terrorists,’ has come back home for Israeli and US citizens.” ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: Although “administrative detention” was used by the British in Palestine during the mandate period, it has been continued by Israel for use against Palestinians and has become an integral component of Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall”. And the US’ “Global War on Terror” pretty much seems to be an American version of the “Iron Wall”, with “indefinite detention” becoming one of it’s key components.

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Iron Wall (essay)]:

    (excerpt)…Jabotinsky argued that the Palestinians would not agree to a Jewish majority in Palestine, and that “Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”[1] The only solution to achieve peace and a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, he [Ze’ev Jabotinsky] argued, would be for Jews to unilaterally decide its borders and defend them with the strongest security possible…

    SOURCE –
    P.S. ALSO SEE: The Iron Wall, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, 1923 –

  9. lysias
    December 16, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Here’s another way in which the U.S. and Israel are in lockstep. From The no nonsense guide to the CIA in Lebanon! (on what Hezbollah has revealed it has learned about the DIA in Lebanon):

    The CIA as a consultancy for Israel

    The most important bit of the disclosure is the fact that the CIA was Israel’s consultancy in Lebanon. They were collecting information on behalf of the Israelis. During the July 2006 bloody Israeli war on Lebanon, the CIA used the U.S. embassy and its Lebanon network to monitor Hezbollah’s movements. They were giving the Israelis all the on-the-ground information available to the CIA. Some of this information led to targeting civilian buildings and other installations by Israeli aircraft. The CIA also requested detailed information on all Hezbollah’s institutions including their health, social and financial establishments.
    The CIA has also linked some of its sources/agents to the Israel’s Mossad agency to fully serve Israel’s security agenda.

  10. vered
    December 17, 2011, 8:13 pm

    All one has to do is examine the “justice system” and read the broadening definition of terrorism. On the heals of indefinite detention is the SOPA bill, under the guise of protecting corporations from so-called Internet piracy.

    it is no mistake with the record divestment of the people and trillions of dollars of bailout for the elite financial services, and the consequent rise of the Occupy movement along with the global uprisings that we see these bills rushed through the houses to the presidents desk to be signed. In other words, there is more “austerity” coming which will continue to rob the 99% for the 1% sake – they have no intention of stopping the process. So they want to scare and even imprison the dissenting indefinitely, and they want to cut off the means of communication via the Internet and turn back the clock to the corporate propaganda machine.

    Indefinite Detention Of Americans And SOPA – The War Is On

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