It’s way too early to give up on Israeli working people (though their political backwardness certainly taxes patience)

After election results in Israel today, Gideon Levy, the Israeli journalist, wrote an article in Haaretz entitled, “Netanyahu deserves the Israeli people, & they deserve him: If after everything, the Israeli phoenix succeeded in rising from the ashes & getting reelected, something is truly broken, possibly beyond repair.”

The article is more than plaintive; it’s a jeremiad. Levy says “The results are indicative of the direction the country is headed: A significant proportion of Israelis has finally grown detached from reality. This is the result of years’ worth of brainwashing & incitement.”

We knew that when we saw people pulling up easy chairs in the hills of Sderot to watch genocide in Gaza like it was a spectator sport. We understand Levy’s grief since he is a long-time impassioned opponent of Zionist settlements & ethnic cleansing. He calls himself a “patriotic Israeli” but rejects the bantustate solution as apartheid & calls for a democratic secular state but views it almost like a hopeless cause because of racism & rancor. He’s got a lot of evidence to support that cynicism.

One cannot deny the profound racism & mass psychosis of applauding genocide. One cannot pretend away the irrationality that insists opposition to Zionism is social hatred of Jews. But whatever their political dissonance, Israeli working people are not living in the promised land. Zionism is coming up empty handed for them. The concentrated fury directed at Palestinians is an attempt to resolve the deadly combination of Zionist false hopes & neoliberal austerity on the backs of Palestinians.

You can’t address that problem with sermons & pieties; it must be met with power, massive power–the power of Intifada combined with international solidarity, the power of BDS that extracts consequences for siding with genocide & apartheid. When you stand with the oppressed there’s no room for equivocations or mollycoddling the obtuse.

Will achieving this be easy? When has wrenching social transformation ever been easy? There was no sicker society than the US in the era of Jim Crow (the US form of apartheid). It was putrid with social hatred. The history is one of the ugliest in all of human history. The power of the Civil Rights Movement cut through that crap & transformed society. There’s been a regression which needs to be studied by the erupting civil rights movement but what’s important is that power & not bending to tyranny can change people. The social mysticism & hatred that blinds seems to fall away.

We should not buckle one iota to Zionism or let Israelis off the hook for supporting it in Netanpsycho. We need to build massive political pressure on them through exposing the lies & building BDS. But it’s way too early to give up on them. That’s not wishful thinking but a political perspective.

Lies, lies, and more lies when it comes to reporting on Palestinians and Israel

Israeli detainee (REUTERS:Mohamad Torokman) Mar 18 2015

The caption to this photo read “Israeli border policemen & soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a protest against what Palestinians say is land confiscation by Israel for Jewish settlements, near the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem March 17, 2015.”

“What Palestinians say is land confiscation”–just like Gaza was bombed to smithereens ‘according to witnesses or Hamas officials who claim it was done by Israeli bombers’. Toying with language is another way of lying & making an ass of yourself at the same time. In 67 years of Zionist colonialism they can’t just say outright that Palestinians are protesting because Zionist settlers guarded by Israeli soldiers are destroying their olive trees, poisoning their water wells, beating up & arresting their kids, taking over their farm lands?

Who the hell does media think they’re kidding when they’re also full of accounts about settlements in the West Bank? When Netanpsycho made more settlements a selling point in his campaign? Whose land are they building those settlements on in occupied Palestine? Are they going to claim some patriarch was buried there 3,000 years ago & they have a Biblical land grant to the property?

Get real! And build the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel.

(Photo by Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

The economic and cultural boycott of Israel continues apace whatever the election results in Israel

Netanpsycho reportedly swept the Israeli elections & this is a very bad sign. Not because the alternatives would have rejected apartheid & ethnic cleansing but because it signifies popular support for extreme barbarism against Palestinians.

Media reports that this puts Israel at sharper odds with US policy, especially over accelerated Zionist settlements in the West Bank. How do they explain away the press release out of the Obama White House just a few weeks ago where his regime boasted they gave millions more of military aid to Israel during Operation Ethnic Cleansing last summer? Where they explained they gave millions to transport Zionist settlers to Israel, for temporary housing when they arrived, & for Hebrew language courses in Palestine where Arabic is the first language?

We cannot be daunted by this regrettable election result but only more determined to build the economic & cultural boycott of Israel (BDS) & to demand no aid of any kind to that barbarous colonial state.

Long live Intifada! Take it international! Build BDS!

Somali piracy and neoliberal plunder

Somalia protest (Feisal Omar:Reuters) Mar 17 2015

These students & activists in Mogadishu, Somalia are protesting the illegal poaching operation of Italian fishing vessels in Somali waters. For years, all we read about was the threat of Somali pirates to international shipping by hijacking ships & demanding ransom for their return. But much of the “piracy” was directed at foreign vessels over-fishing Somali waters & destroying the livelihood of local fishermen.

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa on the Gulf of Aden entering the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal–a major international shipping route with an estimated 25,000 ships transiting annually to the Suez Canal. Its strategic location in Africa & in proximity to the Arabian Peninsula has given it special importance in colonialism (it was both British & Italian colonies), in the Cold War conflict between the US & Soviet Union, & in modern neoliberal plunder. And of course, the US claims it is now an “Islamist” & Al-Qaeda stronghold to justify drone bombing the country. If you look at a map, you can see it forms something of a military phalanx (including Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, & Bahrain) for advancing US military interests in the Middle East.

The World Bank & IMF have been there since the 1980s jacking around their economic & political life & prepping it for the devastation of endless US military incursions. Those barbaric incursions were glorified in the book & film “Black Hawk Down” about a battle between the US & Somali forces to portray colonial depredation as battlefield glory. (Those familiar with WWII movies will know the score.) For no apparent reason other than racism & to create a primitive image, local political leaders in Somalia who oppose US incursions are referred to as “warlords.”

According to a 1997 Greenpeace report & other investigations, Swiss & Italian companies brokered for European companies dumping hazardous waste in Somali waters. They worked with corrupt Somali government officials & other criminal elements called “warlords” to dump the waste in coastal waters or bury it along the coastline. According to that report, just between 1994 & 1998 there were over 10 million tons of hazardous waste dumps, including radioactive material. The Ecologist journal reported in 2009 that since 1991, 35 million tons of waste had been exported to Somalia in exchange for $6.6 billion dollars to government officials & “warlords.”

When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit, waste containers washed up on the shores of Somalia. A 2005 UN environmental report said the hazardous waste deposits stirred up by the tsunami contaminated groundwater & caused health problems in the surrounding fishing communities, including respiratory infections, dry heavy coughing & mouth bleeding, abdominal hemorrhages, skin infections, & sudden death from inhaling toxic fumes.

Somali pirates originally formed as coastguard militia to protect fishing waters from foreign vessels taking advantage of the anarchy & chaos created by World Bank & IMF plunder & US military incursions to illegally fish & dump toxic waste. Media often refers to them as vigilantes but when the US destroyed the Somali government, that included an effective coast guard to protect Somali waters from poaching & toxic waste dumping. Of course what really rankled the US & European regimes about Somali pirates from the outset was their armed self-defense against colonial depredations. Such a thing could easily get out of hand & turn to effective armed insurrection against the US military.

From available reports, which are often laden with racism & vested interests, it’s hard to tell what is going on with Somali piracy today. With millions of ransom extracted on hijacked ships (an estimated $1 to 2 million per boat), it’s likely bigger forces of Somali & foreign capitalism got involved. Pirate fleets are now reportedly equipped with rocket launchers, GPS systems & satellite equipment & you have to ask who is supplying that equipment. Reportedly the insurance industry for shipping has found Somali piracy quite a bonanza by jacking up the premiums.

It’s estimated that Somali piracy employs thousands who go to sea, repair boats, supply food but they’re still coming out on the short end. Somalis may collect up to $100 million annually from extracting ransoms on hijacked ships but European & Asian trawlers poach an estimated $300 million annually in fish from Somali waters.

The US & European Union navies run counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden & have arrested dozens of Somalis who get prosecuted in European & US courts & are handed draconian sentences. Since colonialism has destroyed the court & legal system in Somali they are tried in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Yemen, Belgium, the US where they can’t possibly get a fair trial.

Justice demands we stand with the students & activists in Mogadishu not just in opposing poaching & waste dumping but in demanding the US get the hell out of Somalia–lock, stock, & bomber.

(Photo by Feisal Omar/Reuters)

In defense of satire

Gerald Scarfe of Thatcher

Some people don’t like satire & think it cruel. But that’s exactly what’s so endearing about it. At its best, in words & image it skewers power & pretense combining vengeance with hilarity.

This is a depiction of Margaret Thatcher by English cartoonist Gerald Scarfe–although this is less her caricature than a psychological profile. The poor thing was an elitist, vicious mess & might better have been institutionalized with the criminally insane. There was international jubilation when she finally croaked. Not unlike when Omar Suleiman was iced. Or the anticipated festivities when Henry Kissinger drops.

It isn’t easy to be lacerating & sarcastic in cartoons & also disguise your racism or misogyny & you see that often in caricatures of people like Hillary Clinton, Obama, & Netanpsycho. There isn’t a reason in the world to stay away from going after them; you just have to eschew the cliches of elitism & supremacy. Scarfe did a damn good job. We need to sic him on Clinton & Obama. He’s already taken out Netanpsycho. They should be faulted for making such good material for satire.