Israeli Military Intelligence Targets “No More Deaths” U of A Chapterby Karl W Hoffman on Jun. 17, 2011, under Border Issues, Uncategorized
No More Deaths Statement:
No More Deaths community is fulfilling its commitment to “Global Movement Building.”
With each new generation there are those youth who aspire to change the world and bring peace to humanity through their own actions. With each new generation we as the human race actually get just a little closer. As a nation we should admire our youth for not accepting the media representation at face value and praise them for taking the initiative to get their hands dirty learning about the border issues first hand in the field. Unfortunately our youth are at the mercy of a well established and very manipulative group called No More Deaths
So lets take an in depth look at this particular group, No More Deaths. Many of this organization’s key members go back decades to the earlier Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s involving El Salvadorian political refugees whom the Regan administration refused to give asylum. They took the law into their own hands, and led by the Reverend John Fife (also a reported instigator in the 1960s university anti war demonstrations and riots), the Sanctuary Movement began at the South Side Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. Its purpose was to smuggle undocumented immigrants from El Salvador in to the United States. Gorilla fighters, rebels and criminals, who were fleeing to escape execution were included in this literal underground railroad, that smuggled illegal immigrants not just from El Salvador, but it gathered immigrants along the way through Central America and Mexico. Then through a network that stretched all the way to Canada, it eventually provided safe haven to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and involved over 500 churches and synagogues nationwide. This movement would create a foothold for illegal immigrant families and provide a destination point for other family members and continue to attract illegal immigrants for a generation.
With out any screening process or controls over who was being smuggled into the United States, another one of the adverse effects was a large very undesirable element that was relocated to our inner cities and formed the most notorious street gang in the history of our world. The Salvadorian gang MS13 (Mara Salvatrucha 13) is one of the most violently dangerous gangs and one of the most organized. This gang has grown to international proportions, with an estimated number of 70,000-gang members today, in the US alone and is a direct result of the Sanctuary Movement.
Although the article below states that all members were acquitted of federal charges, it neglects to say that recent charges were only reversed on a technicality and in the past many of the original group in the Sanctuary Movement, were convicted.
Including the arrest of the Reverend John Fife, eight activists where convicted on various federal charges in the 1990s. Several years ago, these same individuals resurfaced to form the group No More Deaths. This group is now walking a fine line between humanitarian aid, which should not be a crime, and indiscriminate but organized smuggling, which is a crime even if you are a church or a university. Considering the past and the present, it is of no surprise that contemporary government agencies are reluctant to work with groups that have such a subversive past and thrive on illegal activity and anti government agendas.
- photo removed by personal request
The war on our border has catapulted activists and subversive antigovernment groups such as No More Deaths into powerful positions progressing at an alarming rate through internet channels and social networking sites and they are rapidly gaining a foot hold on many college campuses. Creating a serious threat to national security, No More Deaths is also attracting the attention of global intelligence agencies.
On May 16, a 19-year-old American student from a Southwest university was stopped by Israeli security agents and held for several hours as she attempted to enter the occupied Palestinian West Bank with 17 other schoolmates and two professors. At one point in a grueling interrogation that lasted until 2 am, she was harassed about her affiliation with No Más Muertes/No More Deaths, a humanitarian group that operates along the U.S.-Mexico border.
No More Deaths is a prominent U.S. humanitarian group, well known for its numerous volunteers who have been indicted over the years by the federal government (though all acquitted) for advocating fundamental change in U.S. Immigration and Border Enforcement policies and, in the process, helping save the lives of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. So why is Israel so concerned about a human rights group that operates in a humanitarian border crisis zone several thousand miles away?
A report in recent weeks by Israel’s leading newspaper, Ha’aretz, suggests a possible answer, or at least provides some interesting insight on Israel’s efforts to deal with what it perceives as “delegitimization”: people and groups around the world opposing Israeli state crimes, organizing a mass withdrawal of support for them, and attempting to press accountability for such crimes under international and domestic law.
Following “an upsurge in worldwide efforts” of these sorts, according to Ha’aretz which cited senior Israeli officials and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officers whose Military Intelligence (MI) research division “created a department several months ago that is dedicated to monitoring left-wing groups” overseas and that “will work closely with government ministries.”
The Israeli officials were not reluctant to admit that the monitoring unit was created in the wake of a supposed intelligence failure prior to Israel’s lethal raid on the humanitarian convoy “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” last May in which nine international civilians were shot to death “in the manner of summary execution” and dozens were seriously injured, according to a UN fact-finding mission that investigated the attack.
According to the Ha’aretz report, the intelligence unit has been participating in high-brass discussions preparing for Flotilla 2. The unit’s interest might well be piqued, then, by the fact that the main No More Deaths Tucson General group announced last month on its website its support for two volunteers traveling to break the siege of Gaza, one being this author and the other a Palestinian student wishing to remain anonymous.
Ha’aretz described an official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office explaining that the unit’s “quality of information” about foreign targeted groups has “improved” and the “quantity” of such information “has increased in recent months.”
One Military Intelligence (MI) official explained to that “[t]he enemy changes, as does the nature of the struggle,” and so “we have to boost activity in this sphere.” Doubtless the intelligence unit is doing its job. But whether Israel regards No More Deaths and its volunteers and supporters as enemies of the state remains unconfirmed.
What other information in the public sphere has the unit been—or would be—able to “collect” on No More Deaths in order to “adequately prepare” for challenges posed to Israeli policy by civil society actions such as the flotilla?
Probably most relevant to the case of the student who was interrogated for her involvement with the group concerns the No More Deaths University of Arizona (UA) chapter (UANMD), which has been leading the No More Deaths community in fulfilling its commitment to “Global Movement Building.”
In November 2010, UA NMD allied with fellow campus groups Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace in organizing tours of the U.S.-Mexico border, starting with Nogales, AZ-Sonora, a border community bisected by the border wall. The effort aimed to highlight the “concrete connections” between the U.S. and Israel in their monetary and material exchanges in security technology, training and resources in maintaining state policy in both areas.
The groups followed their border tours with a national student conference, Concrete Connections, held in February, in which students and teachers from nearly a dozen states from across the U.S. attended to discuss comparisons and differences between US/Mexico border issues and the Israel/Palestine conflict and how solidarity movements can internationalize their commitment to each other’s struggle for justice in both areas.
One of the topics discussed by some activists was a “mock wall movement” to employ atcampuses across the U.S., modeled off the “mock shanty towns” that proliferated on U.S. campuses during the mid-1980s to symbolize student support for divestment from companies supporting South African Apartheid. On March 21—incidentally the same day Ha’aretz ran the above report—the largest mock apartheid wall in the U.S. was erected, dividing the 40,000-student UA campus for ten days, sponsored by numerous groups but chiefly organized by none other than the UANMD, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace. Numerous other schools across the country followed suit with their announcements of erecting similar walls later in the spring and this coming fall.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent a letter of support to the students, echoing their call for mock walls to spring up across the country. In April esteemed public intellectual Dr. Cornel West echoed Tutu’s call for divestment, in particular supporting the students’ Ethnic Studies solidarity program bringing together youth from Arizona and Palestine to exchange experiences and strategies of resisting U.S./AZ and Israeli state attacks on education.
Whatever Israel’s intention, it is clear that groups such as No More Deaths pose a serious threat to Israel’s ability to carry out state crimes and policies of illegal settlement and occupation unimpeded.
Gabriel Matthew Schivone lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is a Chicano-Jewish American and native Tucsonan, a volunteer and media/policy analyst with the U.S./Mexico border humanitarian organization No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, and an AZ coordinator of Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. He is a passenger and a U.S. representative for the AZ/Southwest on the upcoming “Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2″. He is also co-editor and a contributing author of the forthcoming book, Concrete Connections: Militarization, Migration, and the Political Economy of Human Rights in the Mexico/U.S. and Palestine/Israel Borderlands. Schivone may be reached at: email@example.com Twitter @GSchivone
While there are many humanitarian groups and organizations involved in the border arena and doing very positive work both in the field and politically, helping people and raising awareness for immigration reform and change on both sides of the American/Mexican border. I would in no way want to cast a shadow on their work or create a stigmatism for the good they are achieving.
A faith based humanitarian organization (No More Deaths) in southern Arizona has the slogan is “Humanitarian Aid is never a Crime”. Funded by churches, they recruit volunteers who venture into the deserts along the borders of America and Mexico to give life saving aid to illegal border crossers caught in an economical and political cross fire, or so they would like you to think. What is their real agenda? Are they really a subversive anti government cult like group of smugglers using the various churches to fund their illegal operation?
Karl W Hoffman
Documentary Film Producer
Reporting form the field not the desk.
For information on photography exhibits and prints, lectures, interviews, photo usage, border tours and to order the documentary on DVD and view Living on the Border documentary trailer please visit: www.skullcreekmedia.com