Israeli repression of Nakba commemorations

Palestinian detainee REUTERS:Ammar Awad) May 14 2015

This photo is Israeli border policemen arresting a wounded Palestinian protester. His inside pants leg appears to be saturated with blood suggesting he needs an ambulance, not a paddy wagon. Witnesses said he was shot by troops during a protest in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on the eve of Nakba Day commemorations.

In the past, there have been provocations & assaults on Palestinians during Nakba Day protests. There have been shootings, with injuries & deaths from live fire; protesters sprayed with “skunk” waste water.

Our fullest solidarity with Nakba Day protesters.

(Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Immigration crisis in Andaman Sea

Rohingya immigrants in Andaman Sea (Christophe Archambault:AFP:Getty Images) May 14 2015

While tens of thousands of immigrants continue to cross the Mediterranean Sea for refuge in Europe, another immigrant crisis is developing in the Andaman Sea where refugees from Bangladesh & Rohingya from Myanmar flee south to Thailand, Malaysia, & Indonesia. The Rohingya are fleeing state-sanctioned persecution & violence; the Bangladeshi from poverty & unemployment. Many Rohingya fleeing pogroms in Myanmar attempted for years to enter refugee camps in Bangladesh but increasingly were turned away. Now Rohingya boarding boats in the Bay of Bengal are joined by Bangladeshis running from poverty.

After giving sanctuary to under 2,000 immigrants, the Thai, Malaysian, & Indonesian navies are turning boats away from their harbors & setting them adrift. According to human rights organizations, most have been on the boats for over two months, many are close to death, all are without food or water, & have no idea how to navigate a boat or where to go. There are now an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 adrift in the Andaman Sea. Many of the immigrants set adrift reported they want to move on to Australia so it’s likely the Australian regime is up to its eyeballs in this treachery.

While their navies set thousands of immigrants adrift, Thai, Malaysian, & Indonesian politicians try to justify this unspeakable treachery before the world–proving thereby that politicians are as ruthless & stupid in those countries as they are in the US & Europe. They claim they’re already hosting tens of thousands of immigrants & haven’t the resources for more. And quite frankly, under neoliberalism they have a point. The unsolvable problems of the barbaric phase of capitalism are erupting beyond national borders causing millions around the world to flee–not just for a better life, but to survive. No single country can solve the problems created by massive inequality, widespread poverty, war, & persecution. That’s what internationalism is all about.

That doesn’t for one moment mean regimes can turn their backs on immigrants like they were trash to be dumped or drowned without mercy. When refugees coming knocking by land or by sea, it is the duty of civilized human beings to open the borders & provide refuge. Refuge may not mean accommodations like the Taj Mahal but it does mean a place to stay, food to eat, & a chance to forge a new life.

Several of the politicians from Thailand, Malaysia, & Indonesia are talking about the need to pressure Myanmar to respect the human & political rights of Rohingya. Well that’s a really important thing to do so it would be useful to know first, why they haven’t done it in their own countries for their own citizens as well as immigrants, & second, why they haven’t already put pressure on Myanmar since persecution of Rohingya has gone on for decades.

The photo is Rohingya, including small children, on a drifting boat off Thailand. Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo by Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

Dishonest media and Nakba Day

Gaza Naqba commemoration (Majdi Fathi:NurPhoto:Corbis) May 14 2015

The dishonest media coverage of Palestine can really exhaust the adrenalin unless we compare the mangled reports of today with the dead silence of thirty or forty years ago when the Exodus narrative about Israel was riding high. Palestinians commemorate Nakba (meaning “Catastrophe” in Arabic) Day annually on May 15th–the day after Israeli Independence Day according to the Gregorian calendar (though Israel celebrates the latter in April according to the Hebrew calendar). The Palestinian commemoration of Nakba Day never made the news while Israeli Independence Day made the headlines.

The creation of Israel was based on the forcible & violent dispossession & expulsion of Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were emptied, thousands massacred, & 700,000 driven into exile between 1947 & 1950. Nakba Day isn’t just a historic commemoration since there are now six million Palestinians living in refugee camps & Israel continues ethnic cleansing while it recruits Jews from all over Kingdom Come to become citizens of their military encampment.

The Guardian-UK caption to this photo published today is of the mangled kind. It said in Gaza City “Palestinian children take part in a march before commemorations of the birth of the state of Israel 67 years ago in British-mandate Palestine, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.” Couldn’t they find a more coherent way to phrase that? Couldn’t they bring themselves to say the word “nakba”? Or does clarity not serve mythology for the creation of Israel?

The Guardian knows full well the term nakba resonates for Palestinians as shoah, a term for the holocaust, does for Jews. That’s why in 2009 the Israeli education ministry ordered the removal of the word nakba from textbooks for Israeli Palestinian schoolchildren. It’s an attempt to switch the narrative from the catastrophe of nakba to the Zionist myth of a triumphal return from diaspora. What Israel commemorates as a war of independence was in truth colonialism & the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, a barbarous event in human history which continues unabated.

The resolute & historic struggle of Palestinians & the international growth & impact of the economic & cultural boycott of Israel (BDS) confronts the lies of 67 years of Zionist colonialism. BDS has made all the difference. Commemorate Nakba Day tomorrow & build the hell out of BDS.

(Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis)

Let Palestinians political voices be heard

It has to be said that too often Palestinians are spoken for & rendered invisible–as if the brains & the theoretics of Intifada were in diaspora. But Intifada has not survived for over 67 years by blowing in the wind theoretically. Their political leadership is written off as either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas which both have substantial political problems that allow some to equivocate or weasel out of solidarity. Many anti-Zionist Jews are among the most cogent voices of solidarity but the most powerful are Palestinians themselves & the boycott (BDS) movement has begun to familiarize activists with their voices.

This video has an interview with Ronnie Barkan, an Israeli anti-Zionist activist, & with Haidar Eid, a Palestinian professor who lives in Gaza, who here gives a powerful elaboration of a democratic secular state which he counterposes to the racist two-state proposal. His explanation makes all the paltry apologetics for a Palestinian bantustate pale in comparison.

The “R-word” is hate language

A man just unfriended me in a huff when I objected to his use of the word “tard” as an epithet. I don’t like being a pain in the ass but I have a commitment to my deceased younger brother with a learning disability who visibly winced every time he heard that word & to those in the self advocacy movement of those with learning disabilities.

Self advocates consider the word “retarded” as hate language & work to eliminate its usage in any form. The proof of that is its constant use as an epithet to insult someone.

My experience in the self advocacy movement has convinced me “retardation” is a social construct that stigmatizes, shames, & isolates. It’s not that people don’t have disabilities, even incapacitating ones, but there is no reason to label them as if they’re afflicted rather than just challenged.

Red Carpet film festival in Gaza

Gaza film festival (Emad Drimly:Xinhua Press:Corbis) May 13 2015

This is a rather poignant photo of the Karama-Gaza Human Rights Film Festival (Red Carpet) being held in the Shuja’ia neighborhood of Gaza City on top of the rubble created by Israeli bombing last summer. The festival on May 12th through 14th is for documentary films on the theme of human rights not just in Palestine & the Middle East but throughout the world.

The Karama (an Arabic word for dignity) Human Rights Film Festival was established in 2009 in Amman, Jordan to use film & culture for advancing social & political change in the Middle East since it’s one of the most dynamic & besieged regions on the planet. Along with the film festival, they sponsor other cultural events for theater, art, music, & educational programs for youth to advance human rights for children, women, refugees, & political, economic, social, & civic rights.

For those who would like to contact Karama HRFF:

(Photo by Emad Drimly/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

Zionism is a museum of magical thinking and horseshit

The education from reading Zionist walls is priceless–like a university of magical thinking & horse you-know-what: Hummus (an Arabic word) is an Israeli invention; Hamas goaded the Israeli military into killing civilians in Gaza last summer to discredit Israel; ISIS is now “competing” with Hamas in Gaza. No word on how they entered unless Israel airlifted them in. Or why ISIS would show up in Gaza after their barbarism in Yarmouk.

Zionists take great umbrage at recent exposure of Israeli war crimes in Gaza by the Israeli veteran & human rights group Breaking the Silence because the unidentified soldiers deployed in Gaza & testifying “could not have known the entire situation.” They were being demonized because “the IDF maintains the highest standard of ethics in wartime.”

And they’re blistering mad that Israeli military brigades to Kathmandu for disaster relief were dismissed as propaganda to deflect attention “from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank & the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.” There’s a lot of face palming going on over this report. Wait till they read about charges of Israeli baby trafficking from Nepal.

Social hatred changes political discourse and challenges satire

Social hatred like racism & misogyny change political discourse in ways that need to be examined. The big international (now tiresome) dispute is whether Charlie Hebdo is satire or racism. There may be those who think portraying African immigrants as fish-lipped pickaninnies passes as sarcasm but none who lived through Jim Crow (US apartheid) are so obtuse.

This comes up often in discussions around Obama & Hillary Clinton. Targeting his ethnicity or her gender are not political critique & the fact that they are corrupt politicians is no cause to let the dogs out. Their corruption is rooted in the system they represent & nothing else.

One of the ways it manifests with Obama is that discussion of his pandering to racism often leads to references to his own ethnicity. His ethnicity has nothing to do with his politics & no one has made that clearer than himself. People have to find another way to express incredulity that a Black politician would pander to racist stereotypes than drawing on old racist stereotypes like Uncle Tom or constant talk about his ethnicity.

Clinton may or may not be the Democrat’s candidate for president but she will be in the game for several months. Her vicious & dishonest politics should lay to rest the stereotype that women’s compassion makes them ideal leaders–a notion that should have gone out with Indira Gandhi & Margaret Thatcher. But criticisms, even excoriations, of her politics need no reference to her gender.

If social hatred weren’t a problem, this would not be an issue. But if the Charlie Hebdo travesty has taught us nothing else, it should be that satire will have to develop beyond stereotype. Satire is the genre of the oppressed; in the hands of the oppressor, it is nothing but garden-variety contempt.

The NY Times has the Pentagon Papers; the Guardian-UK has the “black spider memos”

Chucky Windsor (John Stillwell:PA) May 13 2015

Many people claim the Guardian-UK puts US media to shame for its political coverage. Well maybe it does, but that’s not saying much. How good do you have to be to eclipse Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof, Jodi Rudoren, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd? That’s journalistic child’s play. They’re not media celebrities because they can think & write but because they can’t.

Now, however, the Guardian has shown itself to be a champion of civil liberties & freedom of the press. For the NY Times, it was the Pentagon Papers; for the Guardian, it’s the “black spider memos.” It fought hard-driving legal battles for ten years for the public release of the memos which are secret letters Chucky Windsor wrote (called “black spider” because of his distinctively puerile handwriting) to ministers in the British government expressing his views on various matters of state. To give this nonsense more gravity than it deserves, they claim the letters undermine the political neutrality required of the moochocracy.

Does this mean that under feudalism moochocracy is barred from freedom of speech? Does it mean English taxpayers are paying Betty & her indolent clan nearly $40 million a year for nothing? What the hell does it mean? And more important, why does anyone give a rat’s ass?

(Photo by John Stillwell/PA)

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