Israel has refused to allow a UNESCO investigatory team to make a field visit to Hebron in advance of pending July vote to register its Old City on the list of World Heritage in Danger under the “State of Palestine.”
This is a “principled and strategic” stand, Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Carmel Shama HaCohen said on Saturday.
Hebron’s Old City, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is one of the 35 sites the World Heritage Committee plans to consider for inscription on the World Heritage List when it meets in Krakow, Poland from July 2-12.
The Palestinian Authority has fast tracked the inscription process by claiming that the site is endangered.
Since UNESCO recognized Palestine as a member state in 2011, the Palestinian Authority has similarly fast tracked inscription of two other sites on the list of World Heritage in Danger. This includes the Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem in 2012 and the ancient terraces of Battir (2014).
The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a professional body, which investigates nomination requests and provides recommendations for inscription on the list of World Heritage in Danger had recommended that both nominations go through the normal process after making field visits to both sites.
This time Israel has rejected its request to make a field visit to Hebron, this includes a refusal to grant entry visas to Israel for the group, Shama HaCohen said.
The 21-member World Heritage Committee rejected the ICOMOS conclusions not to place the Church of the Nativity and the terrace of Battir on its endangered list, Shama HaCohen said.
Therefore, it’s “a shame to waste the time and money” of the ICOMOS committee whose recommendations are otherwise typically adhered to with regard to the inscription process, Shama HaCohen said.
“Israel won’t take part in and won’t legitimize any Palestinian political moves under the guise of culture and heritage,” Shama HaCohen said.
The only steps it will take is to wage a diplomatic campaign to organize a large majority to block a process filled with “lies that plots against the state of Israel as well as the history and the connection of the Jewish people to this important holy site,” Shama HaCohen said.
“We are in the midst of a campaign against the opening of an additional Palestinian front in the religious and cultural war they are trying to force on us,” Shama HaCohen said.
He added that he hoped that this time around Israel would succeed in blocking the move.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs is Judaism’s second most holy site, after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Herodian Structure built around the tombs houses uniquely houses both Jewish prayer sanctuaries and the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The bulk of the Palestinian city of Hebron is located under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. But the Tomb of the Patriarchs and some of its Old City, are located in a small area of the city under Israeli military control. Some 1,000 Jewish live in that section of the city.
The PA has warned that Israeli actions have placed the Herodian structure and Hebron’s historic Old City in danger. It has provided UNESCO with a list of complaints that includes placement of road blocks and checkpoints, the tear gas used to quell Palestinian demonstrations and failure to make necessary repairs. It has included in that list recent attempts by the Jewish residents of the city, to purchase property on Shuhadah Street.
Israel has rejected all claims that it has harmed the Tomb or the structures in the Old City.
It has further argued that Israel’s military control of that area of the city is based on a 1997 agreement with the PA. It has told UNESCO that any inscription of the site should be done at the request of both Israel and the Palestinians.
Council heads in the northern Israeli region of the Galilee demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu order the immediate freeze of medical aid the country provides to Syrian refugees at the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya.
The government-run hospital is the main medical center in that country that officially helps injured people and refugees from the war-addled country.
According to the council heads, the 600,000 residents of the Western Galilee did not have sufficient medical care available to them because the hospital was short on funds and was invested instead in the treatment of injured Syrians.
“We fully recognize the importance of the humanitarian mission of treating our Syrian neighbors,” the council heads explained, but charged that it was “inconceivable that rehabilitating war refugees would come at the cost of the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of residents of the Western Galilee.”
According to the letter they penned and that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication Ma’ariv, the government has been withholding financial resources that the hospital is legible to receive by law but still tasked the medical center with the responsibility of treating the Syrian refugees “without allotting [specific] funds for that.”
Council heads representing regional councils such as Ma’ale Yosef, Kfar Vradim, Shlomi, Ma’alot-Tarshiha and Acre accused the government of overlooking the medical crisis the hospital was suffering from, saying that it was “on the verge of utter collapse due to the blatant discrimination” it was facing.
The also mentioned that the hospital was in a deficit of NIS 300 million.
“It is unheard of that the government” places the singular responsibility of treating the Syrian refugees “without allocating a budget to their treatment,” the letter continued.
“And all that without fulfilling its [the government’s] obligations and legal duties to the people of the Western Galilee, who are starving and dying, day after day, because of [the government’s] helplessness,” they added.
The council heads concluded their letter by asking that the prime minister immediately get involved in the financial crisis the hospital is undergoing. “Your immediate intervention as prime minister is requested, including ordering right away that the health minister redirect the burden of treating the Syrian injured to other medical institutions in Israel- [such as] those that have more funding and those that did not fall victim to discrimination.”
Their letter comes amid an escalation on Israel’s border with its northern neighbor, as errant fire from the internal fighting in Syria struck the north twice within 24 hours. Speaking about the projectiles that hit Israel’s north, Netanyahu said in a stern warning to Syria that “We will not accept any kind of ‘drizzle, not of mortars, rockets, or spillover fire [from the Syrian Civil War]. We respond with force to every attack on our territory and against our citizens.”
When Mya Guarnieri Jaradat arrived in Israel 10 years ago from the United States, she was supposed to have come on a one-year trip to complete her master’s thesis. Like so many others, she prolonged her stay. But what made her expatriation in the Jewish state unique were the motivations behind it.
There were two issues that caused her to prolong her initial educational and cultural sojourn: a love of Hebrew and commitment to learning it fluently, and the desire to work with the state’s marginalized communities in south Tel Aviv.
Jaradat began her work primarily with migrant workers from southeast Asian countries such as Thailand or the Philippines, as well as African asylum seekers from countries including Eritrea and South Sudan. Her initial observation was that there was massive poverty among these communities. But Jaradat also began to witness how most of the people she spoke with also had few legal, civic or labor rights.
What started off as volunteer work soon transitioned into journalism, which led Jaradat on the path to eventually becoming an Israeli citizen.
“As soon as I took on Israeli citizenship, I felt a strong sense of responsibility for what the Jewish state was doing in my name,” says Jaradat.
Jaradat has continued working as a journalist, covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in a wide host of publications around the globe, including The Nation, The New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, the far-left Israeli blog +972, and Al Jazeera.
The outspoken Jewish-American reporter claims that Israel’s policy on migrant workers and asylum seekers is shaped by what she calls a paradoxical double-sided contradiction “to maintain a particular demographic balance necessary for the state to be both ‘Jewish and democratic.’”
“What you see in Israel is this attempt to uphold hegemony of a particular group,” Jaradat says from her home in Florida, where she is currently based.
“And so if you are not in that group — if you are not Jewish — then the state is going to be in conflict with you on some level, ” she adds.
Avoiding jargon and academic theory on the subject, the book focuses instead on giving voices to the migrants and asylum seekers themselves through in-depth interviews that take the reader into a seldom-seen world — one even most Israelis don’t know exists.
She visits, for instance, overcrowded black-market kindergartens in south Tel Aviv, where she describes how toddlers are left crying for hours on their own in unhygienic conditions. In another chapter we get descriptions of middle-of-the-night raids by Israeli immigration police — whom she accuses of intimidating members of the Filipino community — to deport them with quick succession.
Jaradat says a recent reading of Israeli history is required to understand why the state — in regard to both African asylum seekers and migrant workers — currently operates the labor and migration policies it does.
Primarily, she says, this issue ties in with the fate of the Palestinians.
Palestinians once constituted nearly 10 percent of the Israeli work force. When the First Intifada began in 1987, for example, almost half of Israel’s construction workers were Palestinian, as were 45% of agricultural laborers. But with increased distrust between the two peoples in the aftermath of the intifada, the 1990s saw Israel make a transition to foreign workers instead.
“Israel was once dependent on Palestinian day laborers,” Jaradat says.
As Israel implemented and tightened movement restrictions on Palestinians, it needed to find a group to substitute for these people that were crucial to different sectors of the economy. So the state began to bring migrant workers to replace Palestinians, claims Jaradat.
“With a large pool of inexpensive laborers in the country, Israel doesn’t need Palestinian day laborers anymore. The state can effectively lock the Palestinians behind the wall without feeling the economic consequences they would have felt when they were dependent on Palestinian day laborers, before they had migrant workers,” she says.
“Now, there are no economic consequences to shutting Palestinians out and, further, granting work permits to Palestinians can function as a reward — a carrot and stick, if you will — rather than as something crucial that meets the Israeli need for laborers,” Jaradat adds.
Jaradat says it’s also worth noting that “it’s easier for a Palestinian day laborer to obtain a permit to work in a settlement than it is inside of Israel proper, so the presence of migrant workers inside the Green Line helped the state channel the Palestinian day laborers towards the settlements.”
The journalist claims the treatment of asylum seekers also bears a resemblance to that experienced by Palestinians — notably in subjecting both groups to detention without trial.
“I guess [one of the main concerns of this book] is about that contradiction between trying to maintain a certain demographic and being democratic at the same time,” says Jaradat.
‘This isn’t exclusive to Israel, but I’m using Israel as a case study’
“This isn’t exclusive to Israel,” Jaradat says. “But I’m using Israel as a case study of what happens when a nation is trying to uphold hegemony of a particular group. Looking at those two groups [migrant workers and African asylum seekers] is a way of getting at the question: Can the state maintain hegemony of a certain group and be democratic at the same time?”
And with regards to possible security concerns influencing Israel’s policy towards migrant workers and African asylum seekers, Jaradat claims “ there are none.”
“The state’s concern is about maintaining Jewish demographic and cultural hegemony,” she insists.
Jaradat’s book also spends a chapter looking at how loose labor laws in the Knesset are inextricably linked to a culture of companies — across Israel — making an easy buck.
The journalist points out, for instance, that while Israel’s treatment of non-Jews is rooted primarily in demographic concerns, there are business interests representing the construction and agricultural sectors that affects public policy on this issue, too. Israeli manpower agencies have huge sway especially, Jaradat says.
“The workers pay a fee to the manpower agencies,” she explains. “And therefore a worker who stays on in the state and who doesn’t change jobs isn’t going to pay a fee. So it’s more profitable for the manpower agency to be always bringing in new workers.”
These agencies have aggressively lobbied for the Israeli government to set higher quotas of migrant workers, using bribes to officials in key ministries as one major means of achieving this, Jaradat claims.
Referencing a term used by anthropologist Barak Kalir, who has also written on labor migration in Israel, Jaradat refers to what is known as “the revolving door.” The Israeli government brings in new workers with one hand, and deports existing and older workers with the other.
The two big winners here are the state and the manpower agencies. The state doesn’t have to worry about legislating new laws on migration, and the manpower agencies make huge profits in return.
“Where this issue gets really interesting is when you bring the asylum seekers into that conversation,” Jaradat says. “Because here is a group of people — currently 40,000 in Israel — who cannot be deported legally.”
‘Where this issue gets really interesting is when you bring the asylum seekers into that conversation’
A lot of these asylum seekers are not willing to voluntarily repatriate because they cannot go back to their home countries, says Jaradat.
“These African asylum seekers are stuck in this legal limbo, so why not give a job to them rather than bringing in workers from overseas? That’s where you see the role that profit plays in all of this,” she says.
The reason that both asylum seekers and migrant workers are being exploited so consistently by both the Israeli state and by private business groups, is primarily because there is no legislation protecting them, Jaradat says.
Any laws that do deal with migration in Israel, she says, are “centered on privileging Jewish immigration, while stopping other groups from coming into the country.”
The journalist cites two examples. One is the Law of Return, passed in 1950, which ensures that any Jew in the world has the right to return and live in Israel as an oleh, a new immigrant. The second is the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law — a temporary law passed in 2003, and amended several times since — which prohibits, among other ethnic groups and nationalities, the granting of any residency or citizenship status to Palestinians from over the Green Line who are married to Israeli citizens or permanent residents.
“Israel cannot pretend that non-Jews don’t exist, and that they won’t come to the country,” says Jaradat.
“It’s not sustainable to bring migrant workers, then to open one-time windows to their children while deporting some and naturalizing others. Israel needs to deal with this issue in a more humane and practical way,” she adds.
Another way that Israel has tried to legally deal with the issue of migrants and asylum seekers is through a government initiative called voluntary departure. This is a voluntary scheme which encourages mainly Eritreans and Sudanese asylum seekers from Israel to head to other so-called “third countries.”
Jaradat points out that many of these voluntary departures — where the Israeli government sometimes offers a cash incentive of $3,500 up front — have resulted in African asylum seekers ending up in countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Libya. Often facing considerable risk and danger.
‘I take issue with the term voluntary departure… you can either go to jail, or back to a third country’
“I take issue with the term ‘voluntary departure,’” says Jaradat. “What is really happening is that you are in a state that is depriving you of your rights and that is keeping you in legal limbo. So the state says, you can either go to jail, or we will send you back to a third country.”
“I think when Israel began deporting South Sudanese citizens, they were trying to make an example of this group and using it as a threat to the other groups, saying, ‘You have two choices: you can deport yourself voluntarily, and take the little cash incentive. Or, we are just going to deport you anyway.’ So that naturally put pressure on other groups watching the South Sundanese being deported,” Jaradat says.
While most of her book focuses almost exclusively on the rights of migrant workers and asylum seekers, the narrative is a personal journey of sorts, too — Jaradat fell in love and married a Palestinian man while living in Israel.
The journalist says Israel’s varied political and social policies, and attitudes towards Arabs — on both sides of the Green Line — in general, eventually led her and her husband to leave the country. Both chose to settle in the United States instead, where they currently reside.
“I do feel there is something incorrect about having to get married outside of Israel. My husband is a native, an indigenous Palestinian,” says Jaradat, “and according to the State of Israel, I am a returnee.”
“We had to leave Israel to live together. He is a native of the land. And then there is me who is supposed to have all of this privilege under the Jewish state,” she says.
“Well, if you step out of line and marry a non-Jew, there goes your privilege,” she says.
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AFP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday welcomed Qatar’s dismissal of a sweeping list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies in an escalating crisis and said the ultimatum was “against international law.”
“We welcome (Qatar’s position) because we consider the 13-point list against international law,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Erdogan, who spoke to reporters after morning prayers at an Istanbul mosque, said the demands on its embattled regional ally Qatar had gone “too far.”
“What we are talking about here is an attack on the sovereign rights of a state,” he said. “There cannot be such an attack on countries’ sovereignty rights in international law.”
Qatar on Saturday denounced the ultimatum as unreasonable and an impingement on the emirate’s sovereignty.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt want Qatar to meet the 13-point ultimatum in return for an end to a nearly three-week-old diplomatic and trade “blockade” of the emirate.
The four Arab governments delivered the demands to Qatar through mediator Kuwait on Thursday, more than two weeks after severing all ties with the emirate and imposing an embargo.
The document which has not been published but has been widely leaked includes the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict between Doha and neighboring countries which accuse it of fomenting regional strife.
Notably, Doha has also been asked to shut a Turkish military base in the emirate.
The Turkish parliament passed a bill this month allowing Ankara to send up to several thousand troops to the Turkish base in Qatar.
Almost two dozen Turkish troops also arrived in Qatar as Ankara boosts military support for Doha.
Erdogan on Sunday said demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Qatar was a “disrespect to Turkey.”
The Turkish president also repeated an offer to Saudi Arabia to build a military base in the Muslim kingdom, similar to that built in neighboring Qatar.
That offer was rejected by Riyadh which said a Turkish military base would not be welcome and “not needed.”
“If Saudi Arabia wants us to build a base there, we can take a step in that direction,” Erdogan said, adding that Riyadh had not responded to the latest proposal.
He also stood by the defense agreement with Qatar.
“Will we take permission from others when we cooperate on defense with a country? No offence but Turkey is not an ordinary country, it is not an ordinary state,” he said.
Since the crisis erupted between Doha and its Gulf neighbors, Erdogan has vowed to back Qatar and rejected the accusations that it supports terrorism.
But Ankara has stopped short of directly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s actions, merely calling on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.
WASHINGTON — One late afternoon in April, helicopter-borne American commandos intercepted a vehicle in southeastern Syria carrying a close associate of the Islamic State’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The associate, Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, was a rare prize whom United States Special Operations forces had been tracking for months: a midlevel but highly trusted operative skilled in raising money; spiriting insurgent leaders out of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s besieged capital in Syria; and plotting attacks against the West. Captured alive, Mr. Uzbeki could be an intelligence bonanza. Federal prosecutors had already begun preparing criminal charges against him for possible prosecution in the United States.
As the commandos swooped in, however, a firefight broke out. Mr. Uzbeki, a combat-hardened veteran of shadow wars in Syria and Pakistan, died in the gun battle, thwarting the military’s hopes of extracting from him any information about Islamic State operations, leaders and strategy.
New details about the operation, and a similar episode in January that sought to seize another midlevel Islamic State operative, offer a rare glimpse into the handful of secret and increasingly risky commando raids of the secretive, nearly three-year American ground war against the Islamic State. Cellphones and other material swept up by Special Operations forces proved valuable for future raids, though the missions fell short of their goal to capture, not kill, terrorist leaders in order to obtain fresh, firsthand information about the inner circle and war council of the group, also known as ISIS.
“If we can scoop somebody up alive, with their cellphones and diaries, it really can help speed up the demise of a terrorist group like ISIS,” said Dell L. Dailey, a retired commander of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command and the chairman of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
American military and intelligence officials caution that the Islamic State is far from defeated, particularly with a sophisticated propaganda apparatus that continues to inspire and, in some cases, enable its global following to carry out attacks. But in the self-proclaimed caliphate across swaths of Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group’s last two major strongholds are under siege, many senior leaders have fled south to the Euphrates River Valley, and its legions of foreign fighters are battling to the death or slipping away, possibly to wreak havoc in Europe.
The race to drive the jihadists out of eastern Syria, where they have held sway for three years, has gained new urgency as rival forces converge on ungoverned parts of the region. Syrian forces and Iranian-backed militias that support them are advancing east, closer to American-backed fighters battling to reclaim Raqqa. Russia threatened on Monday to target American and allied aircraft the day after the United States military brought down a Syrian warplane.
This highly volatile environment puts an increasing premium on the Special Operations missions.
Despite his nom de guerre, Mr. Uzbeki, 39, was a native of Tajikistan, not Uzbekistan, and honed his fighting skills with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a Taliban-allied jihadist group, according to an American military official. About 10 years ago, he moved to Pakistan, where he had extensive contacts with Al Qaeda, the official said. In recent years, he had moved to Syria and joined the Islamic State’s fighting ranks.
Mr. Uzbeki was close to Mr. Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s leader, and helped plot a deadly attack on a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Day. He was targeted for his role in the Islamic State’s plotting of attacks around the world, said Col. John J. Thomas, a spokesman for the United States Central Command. “He facilitated the movement of ISIS foreign terror fighters and funds,” Colonel Thomas told reporters in April.
After months of waiting for an opportunity to seize Mr. Uzbeki without putting civilians at risk, one arose on April 6 for the so-called expeditionary targeting force, a group of commandos from the secretive Joint Special Operations Command who hunt Islamic State leaders in Iraq and Syria.
About 3 p.m., Mr. Uzbeki was driving from Mayadeen, a city in southeastern Syria that has become an enclave for Islamic State leaders fleeing Raqqa. (The Central Command said this past week that it had killed Turki al-Bin’ali, a senior recruiter and propagandist, in an airstrike on May 31 in Mayadeen.)
“As Mosul and Raqqa come under increasing pressure, we’ve seen ISIS elements moving into the Euphrates River Valley over the past few months,” said Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Uzbeki had just dropped off a higher-ranking Islamic State leader in Mayadeen and was returning to Raqqa when the commandos ambushed him. Though he died, the soldiers were able to recover cellphones and other materials, a military official said.
In a similar raid in early January, American commandos killed another midlevel Islamic State leader they had been trying to capture and interrogate in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour, which is largely under Islamic State control. The insurgent, whom the military did not identify, was also killed when he resisted capture. Important information was also collected from this raid, military officials said.
The model for these kinds of operations in Syria emerged in May 2015 when two dozen Delta Force commandos entered Syria aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Ospreys from Iraq and killed Abu Sayyaf, whom American officials described as the Islamic State’s “emir of oil and gas.”
The information harvested from the laptops, cellphones and other materials recovered in the raid yielded the first important insights about the Islamic State’s leadership structure, financial operations and security measures.
Equally important, Abu Sayyaf’s wife, Umm, who was captured in the operation, provided information to investigators for weeks, American officials said, before she was turned over to the Iraqi authorities.
So successful was that raid that seven months later, Ashton B. Carter, then the defense secretary, disclosed at a House hearing that he was creating a “specialized expeditionary targeting force.”
The commandos — initially numbering about 100 troops, including support personnel — would have a mission similar to, but smaller than, the one they carried out in tandem with President George W. Bush’s surge of American troops in Iraq in 2007. There, commandos conducted a series of high-tempo, nightly raids to capture or kill fighters from Al Qaeda and other former Baathist groups in Iraq.
In recent months, the targeting force has intensified its drone strikes and raids in Syria against the Islamic State’s external operations planners, who have inspired, supported and directed attacks beyond their declared caliphate and into the West. A small number of capture missions are in the works, tracking insurgent leaders, military officials said.
“When the target is indeed captured alive, then we often can get even more valuable information through interrogations, immediate and continuing over time,” said William Wechsler, a former top counterterrorism official at the Pentagon. “All of this helps us better understand the enemy network, prioritize new targets, and identify external terrorist plots.”
The families could reel off all the times they had called the media and written to Washington, but after all that trying, they had never heard anyone who mattered say anything like it: Most Mexican immigrants, Donald J. Trump declared in his first campaign speech, were “rapists” who were “bringing drugs, bringing crime” across the border.
Now he had come to meet them, the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants, and they wanted to tell him he was right.
One son had been struck by a truck, another shot just around the corner from home. Different causes of death, but the driver, the gunman, all the perpetrators were the same, the parents said: people who never should have been in the country in the first place.
Sitting alone with them at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in July 2015, the candidate distributed hugs as the families wept. When the campaign had called, most of them had been told only that they were going to meet with Mr. Trump. But then the group was ushered into the next room, where the campaign had invited reporters to a news conference.
It was a surprise, but no one seemed to mind. Several stepped up to endorse Mr. Trump.
“He’s speaking for the dead,” said Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose teenage son was shot to death by a gang member in Los Angeles in 2008. “He’s speaking for my son.”
Mr. Shaw wanted the news media to know that Mr. Trump could have gone further when he called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals.
“I would have said they were murderers,” he said.
Hailed for bravery, accused of racism, scorned as puppets, these are some of Mr. Trump’s most potent surrogates, the people whose private anguish has formed the emotional cornerstone of his crusade against illegal immigration and clouded the futures of America’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants.
Their alliance came down to this: To parents parched for understanding, Mr. Trump was a gulp of hope. The Trump campaign flew them to speak at rallies and at the Republican National Convention, put them up in Trump hotels and kept in touch with regular phone calls and messages. After his victory, Mr. Trump invited at least one to the Inaugural Ball and seated three more with the first lady during his first address to Congress.
Then and since, they have defended him on social media and in the press, assuring the world that, with President Trump in office, their children will not have died in vain.
This week, the House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill that would intensify penalties for immigrants who re-enter the United States after being deported. The bill is named for a woman fatally shot by a man who illegally crossed the border at least five times.
Sabine Durden, the mother of another victim, recalls dropping to her knees and sobbing when she first heard Mr. Trump warn of the dangers of illegal immigration. Then his campaign called.
“It was almost an out-of-body experience after being so deeply hurt and nobody listening and nobody wanting to talk to you about this,” she said. “It’s almost like I put on a little Superwoman cape because I knew I was fighting a worthwhile fight.”
In Washington in April, they sat in the front rows as Mr. Trump’s homeland security secretary unveiled an office for victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants: of the many promises the new president had made in their names, one of the first kept.
To Mr. Trump’s critics, the office and the people it was supposed to represent were little more than pawns in his crude attempts to make monsters out of a largely law-abiding population — one that research has shown to comit crimes at a lower rate than native born Americans. But here before the cameras, the secretary, John F. Kelly, was putting his hand over his heart and thanking families.
“To say the least, my heart goes out to you,” Mr. Kelly told them.That night, they celebrated what felt like their achievement over dinner and drinks at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. It was expensive, they admitted, but it felt right.It was strange that one of the sweetest moments of their lives was about reliving the single bitterest. But there had been a lot of that over the past year or two, as they searched for a way to make it all mean something: the startled and painful pride of finding themselves booked on national television and welcomed to the White House to talk about the blight of illegal immigration, all because of their sons and daughters, who were gone.An Overnight AwakeningThe local news reportssaid Dominic Durden’s motorcycle was hit by a pickup truck as he rode down Pigeon Pass Road in Moreno Valley, Calif., on his way to his job as a 911 dispatcher. He was 30.They identified the other driver as Juan Zacarias Tzun, who was charged with vehicular manslaughter. It was July 12, 2012.Sabine Durden had last seen her son at the airport the day before, when he dropped her off for a trip to Atlanta. Across the country, she said, she nearly blacked out at the moment of his death. Later, after her phone lit up with messages from his friends, she was sure she knew why.
Not until later, she said, did she find out from some of her son’s friends in law enforcement that Mr. Tzun had come to the country illegally from Guatemala, and that he had been convicted twice of driving under the influence. He had been released on bail several weeks before the collision.
At his sentencing in 2013, Mr. Tzun blamed God for the crash. Ms. Durden blamed the immigration system.
“If it was an accident, I could deal with it, but this wasn’t an accident, because if that guy wasn’t in the country at 5:45 on July 12, 2012, my son would still be alive,” she said. (Mr. Tzun was deported in 2014.)
But nobody overseeing her son’s case seemed willing to view his death that way, she said. “You feel like you got the runaround,” she said.
Ms. Durden, 59, had come to the United States from Germany when she married an American in the Army, eventually becoming a citizen. He was a Democrat, so she was a Democrat. She had never thought much about the immigration debate before Dominic died. Now it was her whole life.
Then came Mr. Trump. Whenever she saw him, he greeted her with a “great big hug,” she recalled. “Dom’s mom,” he called her.
“He would say, ‘You’ll never be alone again. You’ll never have to fight this alone,’” said Ms. Durden, who went on to speak at three of his rallies.
The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, was out there talking about the need to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. When Ms. Durden heard that, she changed her voter registration to Republican the same day.
In a series of recent interviews, the families described a similar trajectory: The death of a loved one. The spasm of realizing that the other driver, or the gunman, was living in the country illegally. The political awakening — for the Republicans, a hardening toward illegal immigrants; for the Democrats, a quick, grim conversion. The relief, when another “angel mom” or “angel dad” saw them on the news and found them online.
Most of all, the fear that their children would diminish into fading news and Facebook tributes, horror stories circulated in the outer boroughs of the American right — until Mr. Trump thundered into their lives, bearing cameras.
Immigration was “one of those issues that, it didn’t affect me — I was busy working,” said Steve Ronnebeck, 50, whose 21-year-old son, Grant, was shot and killed as he worked overnight at a convenience store in Mesa, Ariz., in January 2015.
“As time went on and the more angry I got, that’s when I got more active,” he said. “This is how I deal with my grief.”
For another parent who came to the Beverly Hills meeting, Don Rosenberg, a self-described lifelong liberal from Westlake Village, Calif., it was hard to embrace Mr. Trump, even if he had the right idea about immigration.
As he watched Mr. Trump announce his presidential bid on TV, “I’m saying to myself, he’s talking about illegal immigration — why did it have to be Trump?” said Mr. Rosenberg, 64, whose 25-year-old son died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. He had been struck by a Honduran man in the country illegally. “To me, an immigration policy isn’t, ‘Build a wall, Mexico will pay for it.’”
Still, by the election, Mr. Rosenberg had come around. He said that he had not voted for either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump, knowing it was not likely to make a difference in California, but that if he had lived in a swing state, he would probably have cast his ballot for Mr. Trump.
Here was the paradox of Donald Trump, the unfiltered tycoon who seemed as far away as Fifth Avenue and as close up as the living-room TV. Even as a legion of critics warned he was pandering to his fans on the way to betraying them, the alliance he had made with the families felt, to many of them, like an unshakable bond.
The thing was, he paid attention. And he never stopped.
After the Beverly Hills meeting, Mr. Shaw received a gift basket containing Mr. Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” chocolates, and Trump-branded ties and cuff links, according to an account in The Wall Street Journal. At one point, Mr. Shaw flew on Mr. Trump’s private plane. At another, while staying at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, he cut a campaign commercial.
The other families received regular care from the campaign, too. A Trump adviser, Stephen Miller, would call or text at least once a month, inviting them to speak at rallies or just checking in. Some spoke regularly to Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager at the time, or to Hope Hicks, the campaign’s spokeswoman.
Mr. Miller, an advocate of restricting immigration and now a senior White House adviser, helped draft Mr. Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order directing the government to intensify immigration enforcement.
A few of the parents also regularly texted with Keith Schiller, Mr. Trump’s longtime bodyguard and current Oval Office aide. It was Mr. Schiller whom the president sent to hand-deliver a letter to James B. Comey informing him he was no longer director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
To find some of the families, Mr. Trump’s team had help from the Remembrance Project, a nonprofit founded in 2009 to draw attention to the victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants. It caught the Trump wave early, bringing several families to the Beverly Hills meeting and other campaign events and hosting a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump in Houston last fall.
As the campaign offered a national audience to more of the parents, however, many of the Remembrance Project’s members abandoned the group, chafing at what several said were its founder’s attempts to dictate what they said and even what they wore. Mr. Trump, they said, had allowed them their own voice.
Before going onstage at some events, Mr. Trump would shoo aides away for a private moment with the families.
“To me, I find it much more personal when the president comes up to you and says, ‘Steve, how are you doing?’” Mr. Ronnebeck said. “He knows my name. He doesn’t just, you know, speak the whole time. He listens.”
For the Trump campaign, the private cultivation paid off. In public, the families became some of the campaign’s most compelling witnesses.
They could be picked out by what they carried, the talismans of absence: the T-shirts printed with photographs of the smiling dead. The commemorative buttons. The ashes held close in a locket.
At one rally in Phoenix in August, a hush muted the crowd when Mr. Ronnebeck and other family members approached the microphone, one by one, to speak about a lost son or daughter.
“I truly believe that Mr. Trump is going to change things,” Mr. Ronnebeck said, his voice catching.
At the Republican National Convention, Mr. Shaw, Ms. Durden and another parent took turns speaking about their children. Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech was partly devoted to the story of Sarah Root, 21, who was killed in Nebraska the day after graduating from college by a Honduran immigrant who was driving drunk.
“I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family,” the nominee said. “But to this administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting.”
He also mentioned the case that, at least on the right, had come to define the dangers of illegal immigration: that of Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old woman shot to death on a San Francisco pier in 2015. The suspect was an ex-felon from Mexico who had been deported five times. A few months before Ms. Steinle’s death, the local authorities had released him from jail without notifying federal immigration agents.
“My opponent wants sanctuary cities,” Mr. Trump said, referring to local governments, including San Francisco, that limit their cooperation with immigration officials. “But where was the sanctuary for Kate Steinle?”
The president has since vowed to starve such cities of federal funding, but a judge has temporarily blocked his administration from doing so. The House is scheduled to vote this week on a bill, known as Kate’s Law, that would stiffen penalties for immigrants caught illegally re-entering the country after being deported.
For all the heat the Steinle case generated, however, her family kept a distance from the campaign, occasionally breaking their silence to voice discomfort with the way her death had become a political grenade. (Through their lawyer, they declined to comment.)
“For Donald Trump, we were just what he needed — beautiful girl, San Francisco, illegal immigrant, arrested a million times, a violent crime and yada, yada, yada,” Liz Sullivan, Ms. Steinle’s mother, told The San Francisco Chronicle in September 2015.
‘We’ve Chosen to Speak.’
Politics makes public playthings of private lives. As their losses came to eclipse everything else about them, the families became, in Mr. Trump’s telling, living testimonials to all that was broken about the immigration system.
Still, those who appeared on the campaign’s behalf said they had never felt like props. Mr. Trump was no more using them, they said, than Mrs. Clinton was using hardworking Hispanic families to humanize the issue.
“He’s never once asked us to speak,” said Michelle Root, 48, Sarah Root’s mother. “We’ve chosen to speak.”
It looked very different to the other side, of course. People on social media, and even some friends, did not hesitate to let them know that they thought they were being used. Lots of people called them racist. They insisted that they were not, emphasizing that they did not think all undocumented immigrants were bad.
For the families, such studies were beside the point. To them, illegal immigration was an epidemic of preventable deaths.
The glare of other people’s judgment did get to them sometimes. Mr. Ronnebeck took a break from social media for six weeks, as the anniversary of Grant’s death passed, then the inauguration, then Grant’s birthday.
“There’s people that think I’m a racist and there’s people out there that think I’m the devil,” he said. “It gets to a point where you just can’t do the negative anymore.”
Not for long, though. With Mr. Trump in the White House, they could take their message straight to the corridors of power. Some hope the president will revoke Obama-era protections for young undocumented immigrants; others pray to see the wall built.
“I think we could email or text or even pick up the phone, for some of them, and call them and have them pass it on,” Ms. Root said of her contacts in the White House. “And he would listen. He might not agree, and might not do it, but I know our voice would be heard.”
Provided as an example is lobbyist (((Robert J. Shapiro))), who had previously been placed in key Democratic administration positions. His revolving-door career includes a role as senior fellow at the Georgetown University School of Business, adviser to the International Monetary Fund, director of the Globalization Initiative at NDN, etc. As I’ve always maintained, if these over-rated, it’s-who-you-know, empty suits and their ilk were football coaches representing the public interest, they would have been canned long ago for losing seasons and lack of actual merit.
Shapiro has been heavily involved as a “policy adviser” on debt-slave “restructuring,” Huffington Post reports:
All three situations have one thing in common: If they were resolved the way Shapiro suggested, a variety of bets placed by a select group of the most politically powerful hedge funds would pay off in a huge way. In the case of Argentina, they mostly have ...
For this article, we called Shapiro to ask on whose behalf he has been waging these intellectual battles. His answer was surprising in its honesty: He’s working with DCI Group, a political dark arts master known to be advocating on behalf of a group of powerful hedge funds that are changing how Washington works.
For those interested in investigating the tangled-web backgrounds and connections, the partners and leadership of DCI are shown here. The HuffPo points out, “Shapiro is but one foot soldier in the hedge fund infantry.” But this is just as much about J Street as K Street.
Then there’s the Raben Group, operatives whose specialty is working in the progressive space and lobbying Democrats. There’s the American Continental Group, a bipartisan lobbying firm. There’s 60 Plus and the Center for Individual Freedom, two groups that call themselves part of the conservative movement, but in reality are dark money groups known to run whatever campaign they’re paid to run, and that are happy to conceal the source of the funding. All these groups have roughly nothing in common, other than that they all have united in advocacy campaigns that alternately go up against the Argentinian people, Puerto Ricans and the rest of the American public.
It’s pure Washington Consensus and the Trumpians are on board as well. In fact there is no one in the political swamp who is not. Whole nations are lured into debt and, once on the menu, picked apart by hedge fund vultures and parasites. Privatizations on the cheap to key kleptocrats is central to this operation. I described this in my article “The Parasite Guild.” The end game of debt-slave operations is government bailouts and back stops.
We can follow this model with Puerto Rico and whoever else ends up in the tar pit, such as Chicago and the state of Illinois. And don’t forget Europe. A loot of Brazil looks to be on the menu [see “Brazil Reported Ready to Sell State Assets“]. Yesterday TNN reported on the installation of a Cabal stooge in Saudi Arabia for the purposes of looting assets there. Note that government bail outs occur later in the looting cycle and only after the targets have been worked over. HuffPo describes the operation in terms of Puerto Rico:
They’re now betting that they can stop Congress from rescuing Puerto Rico by amending bankruptcy laws that allow Puerto Rico to cover its basic expenses before paying out the hedge funds.
The Parasite Guild buys the debt at pennies on the dollar and are paid off much higher. Little debt is forgiven. HuffPo describes the targets:
What makes the hedge fund pressure campaign distinctive is the ambivalence, or even nihilism, that lies behind the public policy suggestions. Hedge funds want whatever policy outcome will make their leveraged bet pay off. It makes gauging the merits of a particular policy extraordinarily difficult. The targets of the campaign are largely beside the point: It’s not personal, it’s just business. And it’s not ideological, either. If a big group of hedge funds decided to short the health insurance industry, it could easily be in their interests to fund a dark money campaign on behalf of single-payer health care. If they short the big banks, they’ve now become allies with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
If one wanted a model for the next “debt crisis” and who the subsequent loot will hit, simply follow the machinations of the hedge fund lobby and the Parasite Guild itself with the following four step process. This requires a major reality check — including being wise about the tribal Jewish network and on how the kleptocratic sistema works.
Step 1: Cabal primes unsustainable bubbles, sluffs off the caca on unsuspecting and planned pasties in a monster wealth transfer.
Step 2: Cabal shorts and facilitates the rout or crash of the debt bubble.
Step 3: The crisis/collapse stage in which the Parasite Guild cabal swoops in like vultures to pick up economic gems, using large stashes of repriced precious metals. I’m not sure there will be any hard currencies left.
Step 4: Anybody still solvent is robbed to pay off debts in full. A key mechanism this cycle will be bank deposit bail ins. Parasite guildists have also made it clear that cleaning out pension funds is on the menu as well.
Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was given a “Sweetheart Deal” by federal prosecutors who chose to allow him to be charged at the state level, not with federal crimes. Lawyers representing the victims say details of the deal were kept from them and now they’re suing the federal government for violating the Crime Victims Rights Act.
Jeffrey Epstein should have been locked up and the key thrown away, according to some who believe the “billionaire pedophile” got off easy. Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and soliciting minors, avoided federal charges, only had to spend his nights in jail, and was allowed to live as a free man during the daytime.
Now, as a part of a separate lawsuit against the government, prosecutors are having to defend their arrangement in the so-called “sweetheart deal” for Epstein.
Epstein only served 13 months of an 18-month sentence, while work release allowed him to go to his office and work as a money manager during the daytime hours. After his short stint in jail was over, he was forced to register as a sex offender and spent just another year on probation.
The arrangement angered at least two of his more than 30 known victims, who decided to sue the federal government for the slap-on-the-wrist plea deal to which the federal prosecutors agreed. They say they were lied to and were never notified of the plea deal’s details.
According to the Palm Beach Post, prosecutors critical of the plea deal have called it, “One of the most extraordinarily lenient plea deal arrangements in modern history.” The Post discovered, by reading court documents, Epstein may have victimized upwards of 40 girls.
Attorneys Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell represent the victims in their lawsuit against the federal government. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra is overseeing the case that accuses the federal government and its prosecutors of violating the federal Crime Victims Rights Act (CVRA).
Edwards and Cassell say their clients (Epstein’s victims) were left out of the proceedings and not properly informed of the plea deal prosecutors were offering. They point to a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana sent to the victims.
The letter, sent in 2008, reportedly informed them the FBI had resumed their investigation of Epstein. In other words, the victims believed he was going to be charged with federal crimes, which would have put the billionaire pedophile behind bars. Instead, he was given a plea deal and the victims contend they were not made aware of the details, thereby violating the CVRA.
According to the Palm Beach Post Villafana contended “most of the young women were extremely reluctant — or simply refused — to testify against Epstein, who had paid them to give him sexually-charged massages at his mansion.” It’s implausible to the victims’ attorneys their clients would not have testified, yet that’s the contention Villafana made to Marra in an attempt to get him to throw out the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the victims also claim Villafana didn’t notify them of the details of the plea deal. The Post wrote:
Villafana said she didn’t tell the young women about the terms of the agreement, fearing Epstein’s attorneys would use it to crush them if federal charges were filed and the case went to trial. Savvy attorneys would argue that the women were testifying against Epstein because federal prosecutors told them they would get paid restitution if they did, she said.
Per the CVRA, the victims were supposed to have been made aware of the details of the plea deal. A hearing date was set and Villafana reportedly said she immediately notified Edwards. She said she said she told him to alert his clients so they could be present at the hearing, yet none of the more than 30 victims came to the hearing. All of which resulted, arguably, in Epstein being allowed to get the “sweetheart deal” he’s now accused of receiving.
Epstein was surrounded by high-profile attorneys which included such well-known lawyers as Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz. Star was the independent prosecutor whose investigation led to impeachment proceedings against former President William Jefferson Clinton, who is also alleged to have spent time with Epstein on his “Lolita Express” airplane as The Free Thought Project has reported.
Federal crimes can still be brought against Epstein, and that’s what the victims want, according to reports. The current lawsuit seeks “an official acknowledgment that what happened to them was wrong and assurances it won’t happen to others.” They’re also hoping any fines the federal government is forced to pay will be given to help victims of sex trafficking.
But, it’s not just massages Epstein was supposedly given. His victims contend they were lured into prostitution with Epstein and many of his wealthy friends, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, an allegation he denies. One such victim, represented by Edwards says she was enticed into exchanging sex with Epstein for money when she was 14 years old.
The victim is now 28 and has been in and out of jail but Edwards says, “She’s carrying a heavy weight and is thinking of a class of victims that she went to high school with and who brought her to (Epstein’s) house. She’s trying to do right by them.”
If these girls do not get justice, it should come as no surprise, especially given Trump’s outspoken praise for Epstein, including referring to the convicted pedophile as a “terrific guy,” he is “fun to be with,” and “he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
We, at The Free Thought Project, believe no person, especially a billionaire, should be allowed special plea deals to avoid federal prosecution. As TFTP has contended, there’s a pedophile network at work in the U.S., whose clients extend to the highest levels of government. Any federal charges against Epstein would likely lead to the discovery of how deep and how wide such a network extends. Federal prosecutors, along with the FBI, can and should do their jobs to end such a scourge which preys upon the innocence of our nation’s youth.
Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine. This article first appeared here at The Free Thought Project.
Yesterday was a marvelous way to end the week as the work of my horsemen and their followers continues to result in the deaths of many people in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, I am writing this song/poem to thank them for their work in promoting nihility that is leading to the deaths of many people in this world. Also this poem will serve as great inspiration for those who wish to kill to bring this world closer to an empty world that shall wipe away all existence in this life!
Safe To Kill
I could kill you all
I could stab you where you wouldn’t see
And kill those you wouldn’t believe
You can be my hate
Even as the world is dying off
I know we will be safe to kill!
We are safe to kill
I could shoot your kids
We know the rivers of blood will never dry up
The world will appreciate it
For you can be my death
Even in a world of subhumans
We know that we will be safe to kill!
Safe to kill
We are safe to kill
Safe to kill
We are safe to kill
Take your hate!
And know that we are safe to kill
Safe to kill
I could show you hate
In a wave of suffocating lives
You will kill next to me
For you shall be my death
Even as they lay six feet under
I know that we shall be safe to kill!