Passport

The Israel Project rules the airwaves

If you watched the midterm election results come in -- and if you're reading Passport, there's a  good chance you did -- you likely saw this commercial from The Israel Project. And according to the organization's president, you're going to keep seeing the ad for some time.

The commercial, which was arguably the most prominent instance of a foreign policy issue rearing its head on election night, features remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair interspersed with pictures of smiling children. Both Blair and Netanyahu are quoted lauding the Israel's democracy and affirming its desire to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Another ad urged Israel and the United States to work together on developing alternative energy sources, "so that some day, every neighborhood will be free from our dependence on Middle East oil."

Jennifer Mizrahi, the Israel Project's president, said that the ads started airing during the night fo the midterm elections, and will continue to appear for sometime. The organization bought air time on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and Comedy Central, among other networks.

"We bought a lot of ads," said Mizrahi. "I don't know, but I think we were on every break. And we should still be on -- it's a very heavy rotation."

Mizrahi estimated the cost of producing the ads at $50,000. She said that her organization had spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on ad time over the past year.

Mizrahi said that the Israel Project decided to buy ads at this time because they knew that they would reach a demographic concerned about national security issues. And she wanted to ensure that, though the election may have hinged on domestic economic issues, the next session of Congress doesn't neglect the U.S. alliance with Israel.

"[W]e want people in Washington to understand that the holding of the peace process is very important to Israel and to people who care about Israel -- that we want these peace talks to move forward," said Mizrahi. "That was the first thing: to show the Israeli prime minister's commitment to a peace process and a two state solution, and a better future for all."

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

Passport

What do we know about the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei?

Greek authorities are blaming a shadowy far-left group called the "Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei" for a series of attempted mail bombings against prominent European political leaders which has forced the country to shut down international mail service and have arrested two of its members.   But what do we actually know about the Conspiracy of the Fire Nuclei, or as they're sometimes less dorkily called, the Conspiracy of the Fire Cells?

Little is known about the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, which first emerged in early 2008, six years after Greek police dismantled the country's notorious left-wing November 17 terror group. The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei has been known for nonlethal bomb attacks around Athens despite the arrests of several of its members—most of them in their 20s—in the past two years. The group is seen as anti-authoritarian and the most recent targets may reflect their opposition to Greece's fiscal austerity program after a European Union sponsored €110 billion ($154 billion) bailout package this year.

Wikipedia has a run-down of their past targets, a somewhat random-seeming assortment including a former justice minister, several automobile dealerships, Agence France Presse, a neo-Nazi party, a Pakistani community leader, the Greek Parliament and the embassies of Mexico, Bulgaria, Chile, and Germany. They don't seem to have ever killed someone, thankfully.

On his website, former Athens-based Foreign Service Officer John Brady Kiesling has an interesting piece on the group in which he takes a stab and pinpointing their ideology:

Arrested SPF suspect Masouras produced (or parroted) SPF's early strand of Nietzschean pseudo-philosophy:

"We execute morality, prefacing catastrophe, whispering rabidly, biting the words: WAR ATTACK because only beauty and strength exist, but the cowards to balance [them] invented justice."  (Masouras's 10/09 letter to Indymedia

Recent SPF proclamations have been longer, less immature, and more revolutionary in content, suggesting a new sense of collective responsibility in response to the belief, fueled by the economic crisis, that Greece has entered or will soon enter a "revolutionary period." Both in tactics (symbolic bomb attacks on buildings) and rhetoric the group is slowly evolving to resemble Revolutionary Struggle (EA) or Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), both of which were uneasy coalitions between communist theoreticians and anarchist/anti-authority bombers

I'm curious as to why 70s style leftist and anarchist militancy seems to have been preserved in Greece while it has mostly (though not entirely) away in most other European countries.

Also worth checking out, the website Anarchist News has compiled a most excellent list of names of Greek anarchist groups, including CFN. (I can't confirm that any of these are actually real.) My personal favorites:

  • Summer Entropy Commandos
  • Arsonists with dirty consciousness
  • Immediate Intervention Hood-wearers
  • Council for the de-structualization of Order
  • Destroyers of whatever is left of social peace
  • Nikola Tesla Commandos