How The NSA Enabled Israel Military Intelligence To Politically Persecute Innocent Palestinians

from the a-huge-mess dept

Almost exactly a year ago, one of the many Snowden revelations came out, this time concerning the fact that the NSA was giving raw domestic communications data to Israeli military intelligence. This was somewhat shocking, because it basically was allowing Israeli intelligence to sift through communications data (both metadata and actual communications), including on Americans, without any restrictions. As was noted at the time:

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

James Bamford, the long-time NSA watcher and chronicler, has a new article in the NY Times, where he now connects that free and unencumbered data sharing with revelations of abuse by the very Israeli military intelligence unit the data went to. Bamford notes that, when he interviewed Snowden over the summer, Snowden had called out the data sharing with Israel as one of the most shocking finds:

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.

Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be ?minimized,? meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.

Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications ? email as well as phone calls ? of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. ?I think that?s amazing,? he told me. ?It?s one of the biggest abuses we?ve seen.?

And, indeed, Bamford notes, it’s now been more or less confirmed that the information that NSA was sharing was used to persecute innocent Palestinians. This is only coming out now because dozens of veterans of the unit publicly called out the abuses and refused to continue to participate in the process:

It appears that Mr. Snowden?s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 ? many still serving in the reserves ? accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for ?political persecution.? In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians? sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.

Everything about this is disturbing. There have long been concerns about the NSA and other intelligence agencies using the information they have access to try to coerce innocent people, threatening to embarrass them or reveal secrets. Other Snowden documents have revealed that the NSA in fact had plans on how to do something similar, using things like the porn surfing habits of people they didn’t like to embarrass and discredit them — even if they weren’t part of any terrorist organization. While the NSA insisted it never did such things, this latest revelation suggests that the NSA clearly enabled the Israelis to do exactly that — often using communications and metadata of Americans, handed over willy-nilly to the Israelis to do just that.

Meanwhile, kudos to the Israeli veterans for blowing the whistle on this kind of activity.

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Comments on “How The NSA Enabled Israel Military Intelligence To Politically Persecute Innocent Palestinians”

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72 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ironic

In the time before the creation of Israel, maybe that would have been correct. But since then, the primary warmongers have been Israel itself and the US.

That is not to say that there hasn’t, at times, been cause for that attitude, but the persecution of the Palestinian populace is obscenity of the highest order.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ironic

The Palestinian populace has been terribly abused, but mostly by their own ‘government’. Just look at their continued use of child labor (acknowledged by the UN since 2008, maybe earlier) in their efforts to attack the Israeli populace. Also consider the treatment of Palestinians who oppose Hamas (extrajudicial public execution), those who were suspected of collaborating with Israel (extrajudicial public execution), minorities, people who believe in other religions, gays (extrajudicial public execution), etc.
As for the persecution by Israel- giving the Palestinians over 50 truckloads of food per day (except when the crossing depot is bombed by Hamas), providing free electricity to Gaza (except when the power lines were bombed by Hamas), and providing free medical care to Palestinians (except when that crossing is bombed by Hamas). Just terrible. Unconscionable oppression.

Think you might have a bit of tunnel vision?

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ironic

It sucks even more when you act like animals and destroy useful infastructure left behind by your “wardens” and then focus what little resources you have left on a war that you can’t possibly win that will only cause huge civilian casualties to your own citizens.

Way to stay classy there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Ironic

Well that’s your opinion.

Some consider the occupation to be from the Palestinians.

If they really gave a damn about their lives they would stop poking the mean fucking bear!

Tell you what… lets play Palestinians and Israelites… I am going to be the Palestinian you can be the Israelite and I want to see how you respond cause I will be shooting a rocket at you, and you damn well better run an let me have what I claim to be mine!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Ironic

“If they really gave a damn about their lives they would stop poking the mean fucking bear!”

Way to oversimplify the situation. The fact of the matter is that both the Israelis and Palestinians are bad actors that routinely engage in nefarious activities that are counterproductive (sometimes those activities even rise to the level of war crimes.) Both sides. There are no heroes or saints in that mess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Ironic

Sure it is an oversimplification, but a good one in this case.

However, while I freely admit I am more on Israels side than the Palestinians I am not biased.

I will make it clear. I do not care if there is or is not a west bank or gaza strip. The problem is the terrorists that hide behind the little kids like meat shields. This is intentionally done to make whomever they are fighting be it US, Russia, China, or Israel. The people of Palestine let them do this therefore are complicit in the deal.

Israel will not saw my head off for not believing like them… the Palestinians WILL.

I feel no remorse for people that do not resist evil when that evil comes home to roost upon their doorstep. There is not a single peaceful Muslim nation on this planet… the cries of the innocent women and children oppressed, beaten, and murdered are greater than any evil Israel has visited throughout its relatively short existence as a nation.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Ironic

“There is not a single peaceful Muslim nation on this planet”

So you know all of them, huh? You’re a busy guy! I think your bigotry is showing a bit here. The very argument you make to condemn single muslim on the planet can be applied with equal effect to pretty much every other ideology or religion, including Judaism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Ironic

Where did I condemn? I said I had no remorse, there is big difference there.

I suppose we have a different definition of peace. If you see the version of Peace that Muslims bring as peace… yea… forget it, you can call me a bigot all day long, just remember… you will be murdered or enslaved by them the same as I. Good luck with that!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Ironic

The people of Palestine let them do this therefore are complicit in the deal.

Israel will not saw my head off for not believing like them… the Palestinians WILL.

I feel no remorse for people that do not resist evil when that evil comes home to roost upon their doorstep.

So if you don’t throw yourself on the bayonets of your fucking rocket-armed neighbors (or government) in a suicidal attack, you deserve whatever comes your way? In other words, die or I’ll kill you. Because some of that information the Israeli government is threatening to release could very well result in the death of the person they’re trying to blackmail.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Ironic

Sure it is an oversimplification, but a good one in this case.
No. You conveniently leave out all the reprehensible things Israel does to Palestine (like: occupying, dividing, constantly harassing military, spying, blackmailing, bullying). This is not simplification. This is lying.

I do not care if there is or is not a west bank or gaza strip.
Apparently you’re the only one in this situation. Let’s see a counter example. Mexico is pushing northward into texas. How many texans would not care about that simple fact, when it comes to resistance?

The problem is the terrorists that hide behind the little kids like meat shields.
The real problem is that you believe this bullcrap israeli propaganda.
Also, conveniently naming them terrorists. They are as much terrorists as scotts were when they fought against england’s occupation.

Israel will not saw my head off for not believing like them
No. They’ll just ruin your life, blackmail you until you betray your people, kill you by drones, artillery or airstrikes. Much more civilized.

There is not a single peaceful Muslim nation on this planet
Show me a single peaceful jewish nation.

I feel no remorse for people that do not resist evil
So we’re now judging them on our moral basics. Who are you to condemn them on your moral code, when you (probably) do not share customs, environment or even religion? What makes you think that your moral code is The Right One?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Ironic

tell you what, smartass, tell us HOW MANY precious israelis have ALL THE palestinian rockets IN HISTORY KILLED, TOTAL ? ? ?
how many, smart ass ? ? ?
oh, you mean there are more people killed by their own fireworks in the usa every year than have EVERY been killed by the palestinian ‘rockets’ ? ? ?
you mean you ARE a fucking coward and a pussy who doesn’t know shit about shit ? ? ?
that’s what i thought…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Ironic

You are a morally corrupt person deserving of no attention.

My position would not change even if a not a single person died from a rocket attack. The point is that the scumbags launching the rockets are wanting people to die.

Tell you what… if someone breaks into your house threatening you and yours… would you use deadly force to stop them? Would YOU wait for them to shoot and kill your loved ones BEFORE you attempted to stop them?

People like you ARE what is wrong with this world! The murder or anyone be it Israeli or Palestinian is evil, and the Pals are DEFINITELY attempting to murder Israeli’s! They don’t have to wait for a total holocaust to happen to react… you would not either and expecting them to do so is nothing more than a crime against humanity itself!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Ironic

The detail that the Palestinians have a very low success rate in murdering Israeli civilians does not excuse their efforts. Especially when the Palestinians’ stated goal is to murder ALL of the people in Israel. What the Palestinians are very successful at is killing their own people- far more Palestinians were killed by Palestinian rockets than Israelis.

It’s heartening that in spite of the nearly illiterate tone and style of the rest of your post, you consider Israeli lives as ‘precious’. You’re right, they are- as are Palestinian lives, and the lives of all people. It’s a shame that you don’t seem to recognize this, and are so dismissive of attempts to end lives. It’s also surprising that you would express yourself in a way that seems supportive of the most enthusiastic violators of this concept.

I hope that you can find the intellectual honesty to review and rethink your position.

Case says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Ironic

Being too incompetent to commit a crime does not change the mens rea. But if the intended target is demonstrably aware of the would-be perpetrators’ inability to follow through with their plan, self-defense is only valid against the actual threat, not the intended one.

If one out of a hundred rockets manages to cause a pothole, a dozen rockets in some basement are not a mortal danger outweighing the lives of nearby civilians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Ironic

Hamas does not have an inability to launch deadly rockets, they’re just not able to aim them. Your argument is invalid on prima facie. Self defense is completely justified. If some crazy person was randomly firing a machine gun downtown, would it matter that only 1/100 of his bullets hit someone? No, he would justifiably be shot. Why do you stretch and strain your logic to deny Israel the right to self defense?

These rockets do not just cause potholes, they kill people. Why are you presenting this ridiculous strawman argument?

Also having rockets in the basement of an apartment building is flat-out a war crime- this is well established. Why are you so willing to give Hamas a pass on war crimes, but would deny Israel the basic right to self defense?

Case says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Ironic

According to the data by the Israeli MFA, there have been 28 dead from a total of 18,928 rocket and mortar attacks since 2001. In other words, the chance of a given attack killing someone is 0.15%, about the same as the risk of dying from influenza when somebody infected coughs in your face.

So unless you shoot everybody who sneezes without properly washing his hands afterwards, I call bullshit on your reasoning.

Also having rockets in the basement of an apartment building is flat-out a war crime- this is well established.

Having a drug lab in the basement is a flat-out crime, that does not justify the police bombing the entire building.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Ironic

Are you incapable of thinking without using specious strawman arguments? Getting hit by a rocket is not like getting the flu. And are you telling me that if someone suffering from the flu were to go around purposely sneezing in your and your childrens’ faces, that you would do nothing about it? Seriously? What if they sneezed in your face 18,928 times? And why do you think it’s relevant that you wouldn’t shoot someone for sneezing? You would use appropriate measures. If someone is using deadly force against you, is it not appropriate to use deadly force in self defense? Or is it only inappropriate for Israel?

Having a drug lab in the basement is a criminal offense, not a war crime. A terrorist organization hiding missiles in the basement of a civilian building is a war crime, not a criminal offense. Do you not understand the difference? I suggest you look up the definitions. Or you could just create another poorly thought out strawman argument.

Case says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Ironic

Why do you continue to belittle the devious threat posed to the state of Israel by Influenza? You seem hell-bent on letting hundreds of Jews die each year without effective self-defense — especially elder people, are you trying to silence the memories of that generation? Ts ts ts, what a horrible person you are…

And also seriously confused. War crimes are criminal offenses, otherwise we’d neither call them “crimes” nor punish people for it (OK, most of the time we don’t, but at least in theory…).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Ironic

I think you incapable of rationally analyzing more than half a sentence at a time. I did not belittle the threat of Influenza. I do notice that you have not actually responded to any of my actual questions or statements, and in a desperate attempt to argue your pathetic position have changed from strawman attacks to (ironic) ad hominem attacks. I wonder which type of logical fallacy you will try next. Maybe you can provide a list so I don’t have to wait?

Are you now trying to excuse terrorist activity through pedantry? War crimes are considered part of international law, whereas crimes such as having a drug lab would be part of the local or national criminal code.

That part where you say you are ‘seriously confused’- bravo, first honest statement you’ve made in this thread.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Ironic

“Self defense is completely justified.”

Indeed it is. However, I think the “self defense” argument is more than a little strained when it comes to this issue. The attacks are due to what amounts to a war that both sides are doing their best to perpetuate. Both sides can claim their actions are “self defense” with equal (i.e., not much) accuracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ironic

I agree that the whole situation is FUBAR in Israel. But the NSA actively harming an ethnic group (regardless of what you actually think of that ethnic group) is inherently bad. Enforcing reliance on the powerful majority in the country is not a good thing.

I appreciate that Hamas are generally a horrible group – but I find it hard to believe that the Isreali élite can get away with genodical intent without repercussions; because, if this were one of the Arab-Islamic nations, then the US would have been involved 25 years ago.

Anonymous Coward says:

It does’nt matter, free speech is not a privilage, its a right, any one who tries to circumvent the natural right has no leg to stand on, and who is in fact AGAINST a just and free world, but is in fact for an authorative one, were the few dictate to the many, under the illusion of representation, in actuality under the thumb of manipulation

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

There are two kinds...

There are two kind of cops:
Dirty Cops
Cops who let the dirty cops continue to do what they do

There are two kind of people in the palestinian territories:
Terrorists
People who let the terrorists continue to do what they do

Unlike the NSA, Israeli intelligence ACTUALLY prevents homicide bombings, terror-tunnel attacks, and real terrorism. Not the grandma-with-fake-grenade-at-airport scenario.

Conflating the two is allowing OUR NSA’s incompetence and lack of actual threat-fighting to make a mockery of Israel’s (very real) result-driven work to actually stop terrorism.

You may not like the means – blackmail, extortion, etc. It’s good to have a high seat from which to criticize people under daily threat of annihilation. They don’t have to answer to the fake moral compass we can’t even hold our own NSA up to.

Anon says:

Re: There are two kinds...

There are two kind of people in the palestinian territories:
> Terrorists
> People who let the terrorists continue to do what they do

Of course, the same can be said about almost any regime which is not democratic, and some that are.

The people under ISIS’s thumb, for example, allow it to continue murder, rape, and genocide. The Chinese or North Koreans allow their governments to do what they want.

Let’s not forget that the people of Palestine picked Hamas (IIRC the vote was something like 70%) because for all their fanaticism, they were less of a pack of thieves than Fatah. For all their difficulties, the IDF only invades every few years, not like in the West Bank where they raid constantly. Oh, and nobody is talking about confiscating a few hundred hectares of Gaza this month.

I don’t remember any part of international law that permitted one side to act against all standards of humanity just because the other side did…

But of course, Hamas being homicidal terrorists makes it Ok for the IDF and Mossad to threaten innocent Palestinians caught in the middle with, for example as revealed in the protest letter – revealing their sexual orientation (knowing this would get them killed) or refusing life-or-death medical treatment unless they give information on their extended family – all this expedited by the NSA.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: An applicable jot of fiction

There are two kind of cops:
Dirty Cops
Cops who let the dirty cops continue to do what they do

There are two kind of people in the palestinian territories:
Terrorists
People who let the terrorists continue to do what they do

This comes to mind, from A Game of Thrones

NED STARK: When they slaughtered my guard, you stood beside the queen and watched, and said not a word.

VARYS: And would again. I seem to recall that I was unarmed, unarmoured, and surrounded by Lannister swords

Case says:

Re: There are two kinds...

There are two kind of cops:
Dirty Cops
Cops who let the dirty cops continue to do what they do

There are two kind of people in the palestinian territories:
Terrorists
People who let the terrorists continue to do what they do

In other words, the civil population is fair game if you happen to have a problem with their leadership — what was your complaint about Hamas, again?

Really, the comments here once more show the idiocy behind the whole mess: Both sides will readily preach their militant voelkisch ideology, and then without a trace of irony complain about the other side doing the same.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Victims of secret surveillance organisations

The point being made is that one secret surveillance organisation is supplying another secret surveillance organisation with details by which it can control and persecute a civilian population.

It is actually irrelevant whether it is USA, Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian, Russian, Chinese, British, German, Honduran, Malaysian, Saudis Arabian, North Korean, Australian, Canadian, etc. The fact that it goes on is what needs to be recognised and battled.

Getting into arguments over who had the most killed in a particular war/conflict is useless. The fact that far more civilians (of any stripe) were killed than combatants and that so many lives were destroyed is what should be recognised and dealt with.

There are many in the middle east who are filled with hate for anyone who is not of their group (witness ISIS/ISIL as just one example), just as their are many who don’t give a stuff about the differences but just want to help one another.

Injustices will occur. That is a simple FACT of life. These injustices arise because people care more for themselves than they do for those around them. As a nation, the USA could make a difference, but you won’t and from the various evidence that is coming to light, your hegemony is at an end. You’ve had your time and you’ve failed miserably. I expect some other nation or even a group of nations will now take the helm over the next few years and your nation will quickly become second-rate if not a third world country.

My own country has already gone down that path and lost all of its strength, power, influence and technology.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Victims of secret surveillance organisations

There are many in the middle east who are filled with hate for anyone who is not of their group (witness ISIS/ISIL as just one example), just as their are many who don’t give a stuff about the differences but just want to help one another.

The problem is that the first group have always been able to attract mindless thugs to their cause, and organize a militia or army; while the second cannot become strongly organized without giving up on their principles. Therefore the second group is prone to suffer division and conquest.

Editor-In-Chief says:

Re: Re: Victims of secret surveillance organisations

From a friend who grew up in that area and still has family in the area (currently under attack and on the run from ISIS/ISIL):

ISIS/ISIL are actively carrying out the full tenets of the Koran and fully following in the steps of the Prophet. Shi’a have been videoed destroying the ISIS/ISIL flag (the significance of this act is almost beyond belief, if you understand what is on the flag). The nominal Christians in the area have refused to recant and become Moslem, even though this means death for them with ISIS/ISIL.

When you get some understanding of the Koran and the actions of the Prophet, you begin to realise that Moslem who are peaceful and want to live in peace with their neighbours are “bad” Moslems and will face the wrath of “good” Moslems for NOT living by the tenets of the Koran. They will die as quickly as Christians and Jews (who are regarded as People of the Book within the Koran). Anyone else (who is not a “good” Moslem) will either be converted or die as is their due.

I have Moslem friends and they are in just as much danger as myself from these “good” Moslems.

The concern I have is that someone is backing these people and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the likes of secret surveillance organisations (as mentioned in the main article) just so they can keep their relevance in the modern world. So when secret surveillance organisations pass wholesale information onto other secret surveillance organisations and it is revealed, I am not surprised. Civilians the world over are the losers.

David Oliver Graeme Samuel Offenbach

lfroen (profile) says:

What is "innocent" palestinian?

Contrary to US, in Israel we have actual terrorists, not the kind of TSA is “searching for”. And we have war, not “war”.
Those “innocent” palestinians should not be persecuted. They should be shot. That’s what you do with enemies. That’s what you do in war.

When YOUR house will be shelled, we’ll see whether you will require “prosecution” OR you will cry for CIA/NSA/USFA/whoever-else to kill those “freedom fighters”

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: What is "innocent" palestinian?

Are you saying you don’t differentiate between militant Palestinians and civilians? That the last infant and child are just as hostile and dismissible as the front line rifleman?

Considering the asymmetry of the powers in question, that’s not a war, that’s a policy of genocide.

lfroen (profile) says:

Re: Re: What is "innocent" palestinian?

Before taking such moral high ground, remember how US “differentiated” population of Dresden and Hiroshima. I guess it was “long time ago” and thus doesn’t count.

Infant/child/dog/cat and other things are utterly irrelevant at war. Did Hamas rockets differentiate them? Yea, millions spent on rocket defence made those Kassam useless, but that’s a point of having defence.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What is "innocent" palestinian?

I’m not American, and I say, you are not differentiating, you are murdering. There is really no comparison between the horrible things that happened in Dresden or Hiroshima with the way Israel deals with the Occupied Territories and what’s left of Palestine.

When a five-year-old kicks you in the shin, you do not blow away his kneecaps with a pistol, nor mortar his house to bits. Comparing the relative damage done by the Palestinians to that done by the Israelis, and I can tell you which group I feel is being more unfair, inhuman and destructive. (And I say this as someone who used to be a strong Israel supporter.)

lfroen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is "innocent" palestinian?

Oh, how unfair for us to build a missile defense and not to get killed. Really unfair. We probably should just bomb ourselves to keep your “score” happy.

Here’s a deal – you threaten our population – we kill you. That’s it. Fortunately Israel have better economy and many educated and motivated people to build enough weapons to teach those scums a lesson. And a lesson is simple – “point a gun on us, and you dead”.

btw – you comparison of palestinians with five-year-old is insulting even for palestinians. They chose to support Hamas. Now cry me a river.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What is "innocent" palestinian?

“That’s it. Fortunately Israel have better economy and many educated and motivated people to build enough weapons to teach those scums a lesson”

You mean like 3B$ US support economy? Or the US manufactured F16? Nuclear weapons “supplied” by the US?

You have a big mouth and big pride, but the fact is, Israel would not exist without US and european support. Israel would not have came to be, and would be obliterated in a minute without western countries supporting your aggression.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What is "innocent" palestinian?

I’m pretty sure I could easily twist your quote with some 1930s Germany references, I’ve seen enough stupid anti-Semitic propaganda from the time to recognise it being spouted here (and yes, Palestinians are another Semitic people, so…)

I’m pointing out that however ‘wrong’ the Palestinians, Hamas or their supporters are, acting nastier and more ‘wrong’ does not make you more right. A common element of what is considered humanity and decency is not that someone throws a stone at you, and you chop him into little shreds. Apparently unless you are are a psychtic bully.

I don’t like Hamas or their tactics. But I do /not/ see that as justification to go and murder thousands of innocent civilians, especially hundreds of children, nor to destroy their infrastructure, pen them into GHETTOS and starve and trap them. I don’t care who is doing that or why, it’s wrong. When you are ‘newcomers’ to the land in the last 70 years, it’s even more wrong.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 An eye for an eye...not that his eye can be used in your head.

Hammurabi’s Code was intended to be an upper limit of response to actionable offenses, that if someone poked your eye out, whether with malice or by accident, that getting all your brothers and kin together and chopping his family into bite-sized pieces for the dogs was right out, that the worse you were allowed to do under the code was to take his eye as redress.

Interestingly when this was taught to me in 70s Sunday school, they insisted that these penalties were the smallest sentence for such crimes, and that proportional response was in.

Well, yeah, but that’s because the family-buchery-dog treatment was really in.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What is "innocent" palestinian?

By my logic, you over exaggerate the threat Hamas rockets (ha! tubes stuffed with kerosene, with a hand grenade strapped on the top) pose in order to justify excessive military response, genocide and strikes on civilian targets.

Ask them yourself. I doubt they were so pleased by european invaders, and highly doubt they were called terrorists for defending their home (with arrows and bows against guns, much like the hamas-israel situation).

Sure, sweep every damning evidence under the rug! At your convenience Sir!

GEMont (profile) says:

Tank God!!

All I can say, is that we really must all thank our national uni-god for religions, because without religions, we would have a huge over-population problem and would have run out of food, water and air long, long ago, due entirely to the difficulty of secular governments to convince us to leave our families and farms and kill our neighbors on a regular basis.

Without our various competing religions, all of our international population purges, or wars, would have to be initiated through false flag operations, which always pose the threat of exposing our leaders as the inhuman opportunists they really are and which cost a lot to pull off successfully.

With religion, there is no need for logic or compassion or consideration of consequences, as hate and revenge alone will carry the day and turn farmers and laborers into murderous soldiers on both sides of any population purge, as often and for as long as needed, free of charge.

If not for religion, we would no longer exist as a species on earth. We would have fucked ourselves into oblivion centuries ago.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device (profile) says:

Re: Not sure if poe or troll

Religions don’t drive the human species to genocide. We already waged war on our neighbors long before religion got organized, just because we like small societies in which people generally look and act like us.

We’ve since found it necessary to extend our base mores (mostly reciprocity) to larger groups as a device to defend against other large, organized civilizations.

Religion offers a means to bypass these socially driven mores. But it’s hardly the only ideological device we have to return us to our demagogic roots. Nationalism and moral panic, for instance, work just as well. “Black people are thugs” seems to work just fine.

GEMont (profile) says:

Tank God Revisited

Neither Poe nor Troll, but GEM

One might notice, upon a rereading of the post, that I never said religion was the ONLY method of bypassing common sense and getting otherwise peaceful peasants to kill their neighbors – merely that it was the best method ever devised and the cheapest one as well, since the peasants are thus already pre-trained to believe that death is just a detour to the next life, or a vacation in God’s Land, and all the rulers need to do is point towards the newest enemy and say “go get’em, boys”.

In fact, I even presented the next best scenario – the false flag operation, where employees of the ruling families dress up as foreigners and terrorise the countryside – to place it in its simplest form.

Also, I sincerely do hope that you were not under the misconception that religion was somehow a new invention, and that peoples of the past had none of their own. or that the religions they did have were less omnipresent in their lives, simply because they were not “organized”.

While it is obvious that the truly effective modern religions are all heavily organized and run like corporations, (and in my opinion, have at heart the very same goals), religions in the past played a far more crucial and direct role in the every day life of our ancestors among the non-elite.

From birth to grave, the “word” of those ancient gods – (also not so coincidentally translated into people-speak by the human members of a very wealthy and politically active religious order) – directed our ancestors’ daily routines as much or more than any modern organized religion does today.

In fact, I would say that modern organized religions face far greater numbers of dissenters in their own land than any ancient religion.

Most ancient wars were also waged over religious matters and differences. In human history, only a hand full of wars have been openly caused by secular matters, although in truth, economic concerns were always directly responsible as the underlying drive of the ruling class to utilize the religious triggers that spurred their peasantry to war.

The primary difference in fact would be that back then, it was city VS city, rather than nation VS nation. That is the only real result that organizing religion has accomplished – bigger wars.

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