Israel demolishing whole villages in West Bank

Khirbet Susiya (Abed Al Haslhamoun:EPA) May 7 2015

The Oslo Accords (signed in 1995) were one great big snow job at the expense of the Palestinians & appropriately considered by many (including Edward Said), even at the time, as a document of surrender. The Accords legitimized a bantustate solution & divided the West Bank into three administrative units, Areas A, B, & C, according to how much self-government Palestinians are allowed by Israel. The Area A, B, & C stuff is in part a legal fiction since Israel occupies all of the West Bank but Area C is the one Israel controls lock, stock, & barrel. Israel uses that complete control as a means of more aggressively expropriating Palestinian lands. According to the UN, over 350,000 Zionist settlers now inhabit over 200 settlements & outposts in Area C.

Last year, Amira Haas, the remarkable columnist for Haaretz (who lives & reports from the West Bank), reported on a meeting between Knesset politicians & representatives of settlers from Area C. They all agreed on the goal of clearing Palestinians out of Area C & forcing them into Areas A & B. The methods they discussed to clear out Palestinian communities, who they referred to as “weeds,” was designating districts as live-fire zones & conducting military exercises on them; declaring Palestinian land as Israeli state land (& then using it for settlements); refusing to connect Palestinian communities with water or electricity; evictions & forced transfers of residents; destroying water wells & solar panelling; denying Palestinians, who are mostly farmers & shepherds, access to grazing & farm land; refusing construction permits to repair or rebuild homes or construct health & other public facilities.

In 1983, Israel (in league with the World Zionist Organization) established the settlement of Susya just south of Hebron & within Area C on lands that belonged to the Palestinian community of Khirbet Susiya. Several other settlements have also been established in the area. Khirbet Susiya is one of at least thirty Palestinian villages under threat of demolition in the area & has been under siege for decades by violent settlers, Israeli soldiers, the Israeli administrators of Area C, & by the Israeli courts who repeatedly issue demolition orders.

One of the ruses Israel used to clear Khirbet Susiya is that it’s the site of an archaeological dig where they unearthed a synagogue. Even if they did unearth the ruins of a synagogue, Israel has no more right to the site than the ancient Babylonians do–or the Edomites, the Philistines, or the Canaanites who also inhabited ancient Palestine. This is just another episode in the invented people of Israel creating a mythological past to justify modern colonialism. Zionist writers have referred to the people of Khirbet Susiya as squatters & as an imaginary village but they can’t explain why there are mosques in the region & why they have to dig all the way to Argentina to find a shard that might be a synagogue.

Israel wants to outright annex Area C–which is why they’re expanding the settlements & linking them to Israel with a network of roads but denying all development to Palestinians & attempting to force them to move. The Israeli courts have once again issued a demolition & removal order for all the residents of Khirbet Susiya.

(Photo is child in Khirbet Susiya by Abed Al Haslhamoun/EPA)

The rescue of surrendered and abandoned parrots

PBS had a wonderful documentary on rescuing parrots surrendered or abandoned by “owners.” They’re near extinction in the wild but millions are held in captivity just in the US. They’re so complex & demanding, so intelligent & emotional, & cannot bear loneliness so that thousands are surrendered every year.

People buy them on a whim or without knowing much about them & then are horrified at the commitment involved. When in captivity, they lose their purpose for being–foraging, mating, nurturing young–& can develop aggressive or self-mutilating behaviors. Many require psychiatric interventions to heal from abuse or neglect.

The emotional suffering of neglected parrots is wrenching to observe & many who care for them eventually come to oppose breeding or selling them as merchandise. And that includes the macaws & cockatoos down to wee cockatiels & parakeets. They’re remarkable, admirable animals & should be left in nature. Unfortunately, once in captivity, they’re no longer suited for the wild.

A raspberry for Kristof: it takes a lot of work to be so stupid

How I wish I wanted to read “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, but Kristof has written more crap, especially about women, than any one person should be allowed in a lifetime. Like all misogynists & banal thinkers, he’s a bore & quite frankly talks mostly through his ass. He’s an amoral ideologue for neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. A chorus of raspberry tarts in his direction!

Immigration and the dumb questions people ask about it

African immigrants (Giovannie Isolino) May 6 2015

It didn’t take too long into this massive humanitarian & immigration crisis in the Mediterranean before someone raised the question, “Why aren’t African countries helping the immigrants?” You mean the countries they’re fleeing from? The ones run by dictators like Eritrea, the war zones like Somalia, or the ones where a third of the people live under $1.25 a day like Gambia? It’s a remarkably trite question, evincing not a whit of understanding about how the world is run. Or how it should be run.

Palestinians have for years been taunted with the same question, as if the lack of support from Saudi Arabia or Egypt or elsewhere reflected badly on the political justice of the Palestine cause. What is justice for Palestinians compared to billions of military weaponry from the US & Europe to use against their own rebellious populations?

The world is not run by ethnic identities but by an oligarchic system where power accrues to wealth & wealth to power. The Saudi prince & Egyptian general have no more affinity to Palestinian rebels against Israeli apartheid than they do to the rebels in their own societies who they torture, incarcerate, & murder.

The question shouldn’t be why aren’t African countries helping but why are European countries letting them drown?

This is a group of rescued immigrants from Libya in the Messina harbor on Sicily. As you can see, many are without shoes.

Open the damn borders! Immigration is a human right!

(Photo by Giovanni Isolino/AFP)

Sweatshops and the halfwits who defend them

Bangladesh sweatshop worker:Swan closing (A.M. Ahad: AP) May 6 2015

This woman from Dhaka, Bangladesh is a garment worker protesting with a few hundred others outside the offices of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Export Association–the trade association that brokers sweatshops for retailers in the US, Europe, & Japan. They’re protesting because Swan garment factory–a Hong Kong manufacturer that operated for decades in Bangladesh & boasts of millions of dollars in sales–closed down their operation & skipped town still owing workers¬†back wages. The protesters are also demanding the factory be re-opened.

Their demand for the factory to be re-opened does not for one moment legitimize the mountains of enthusiastic rubbish & panegyrics written in defense of sweatshops by the unsavory likes of Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, Jeffrey Sachs, Alex Massie, & Matt Yglesias. You wouldn’t know it from their writings, but they’re not all halfwits. With them, it’s not another case of privilege makes you stupid but of being paid big bucks to create an ideological defense for neoliberal plunder & exploitation. They put on a mask of humanitarian concern to justify barbarism but they use the exact same arguments to justify child labor (which is part & parcel of the sweatshop system). Let’s be frank; their arguments rest on the stinking edifice of racism.

Their odes written to sweatshops are monstrous, with titles like “In Praise of the Maligned Sweatshop,” “In Praise of Cheap Labor,” “Two Cheers for Sweatshops.” This kind of crap from men who wear $200 silk underwear over their pompous, ugly butts! And they continue to pour that stuff out as grieving families recover the bodies of their beloved from garment factory fires & building collapses.

These boneheaded, amoral apologists arrogantly drool all over themselves to make working people unable or unwilling to consider the options. Anti-sweatshop activists are not demanding the closing of factories. We are not (at least those outside “Buy America” labor unions) so xenophobic as to demand the jobs be brought back for union workers. What we demand is the same standards of wages, safety & working conditions for workers around the world as we want for ourselves–& increasingly no longer have. That’s what “an injury to one is an injury to all” is all about.

We want there to be no havens on this planet for human exploitation. Neoliberalism can’t provide that because its very nature is violence & barbarism. There’ll be some scuffles on the way to eliminating sweatshops. We can call them revolutions. But if humanity is to survive & human life be cherished, neoliberalism has to go.

Our fullest solidarity with this woman & the other protesters in Dhaka–& with all sweatshop workers around the world.

(Photo by A.M. Ahad/AP)

The dog and pony show of justice for Hosni Mubarak in Egypt

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh (Al Youm Al Saabi:Reuters) May 6 2015

Who can keep track of all the trials & retrials of Hosni Mubarak, the former military dictator of Egypt? He’s got one case going for corruption & another for murdering protesters. There isn’t much point in monitoring cause we’re looking at a done deal. Not to mention a mockery of justice. He’s gonna walk. The Egyptian appeals court opening tomorrow will uphold the lower court ruling to drop all charges against him for murdering protesters in the 2011 uprising that overthrew him. No need to play Nostradamus or lay odds with a bookie.

Most people wonder why the military regime is putting on such a spectacle of legitimacy. Legal farce has never troubled them before. They recently ruled the police murder of protester Shaimaa al-Sabbagh (January 2015) by birdshot pellets that pierced her lungs & heart was because she was too skinny. The forensics official said on television that ‘according to science, she should not have died’ & that made her death a fluke, not a crime.

Some media coverage of Mubarak’s trials make better parody than analysis. Without skepticism, one quoted a public prosecutor who said “A study of the reasons for the ruling revealed legal flaws that tinged the judgment.” Anyone with half a brain knew the case would be constructed to allow Mubarak to eventually walk on technicalities. Just like the prosecution is doing in Baltimore.

Another report said this dog & pony show of legality & appeals “is an integral part of the legal process in Egypt.” Who knew military dictatorship had a legal process!? Could somebody let General Sisi know? A reporter in the Huntington Post said dropping charges against Mubarak for murder is “raising fears among human rights activists that the old guard was making a comeback.” You think!?

Mubarak will walk away from all corruption & murder charges & he’ll start hanging at swanky parties again with General Sisi, who served the Mubarak regime in the military. But he cannot walk away from condemnation for the murder of democracy activists, for beating, raping, torturing, incarcerating thousands. The world knows what he is & that will be more than written in posterity; it will eventually fuel a new Egyptian uprising against tyranny.

This photo is the moment of the murder of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, a martyr of the Egyptian revolution. We honor her & all those who died. We don’t need a kangaroo court to determine justice.

(Photo by Al Youm Al Saabi/Reuters)

More unarmed Palestinians murdered by Israeli troops in West Bank

Grieving mother of Mohammed Yehya (Majdi Mohammed:AP) May 6 2015

The media caption to this April 28th photo read simply: “A woman cries at the funeral of Mohammed Yehya, who died while fighting with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin.” The brevity covers a multitude of lies.

A canned Associated Press (AP) article circulated in several media sources explained that 18-year-old Yehya died at a hospital in Nablus (in the West Bank) after being shot in the abdomen for hurling rocks at Israeli troops. The article accepted the Israeli military’s claim that they saw a group of Palestinians “trying to breech the security fence of a West Bank settlement & called on them to desist.” When they did not, soldiers “opened fire on them”, shooting toward their lower extremities. The military also claimed that over the weekend, Palestinians carried out three separate attacks against “Israeli police” & two knife-wielding attackers were shot dead.

Now let’s hear the real story, beginning with who the grieving woman is–namely Mohammed Yehya’s mother. Yehya & his family were preparing for the wedding of his older brother & were hosting relatives from Jordan visiting for the ceremony. The family group all went to visit family land near the apartheid barrier wall in the village of Al Araqa which had been divided by Israel to build the wall. Israeli soldiers objected to their presence & ordered them to leave.

Witnesses say before they had a chance to leave, a soldier shot Yehya point-blank in the abdomen. Or as the Israeli military admitted, “opened fire on them.” Even if the group gave the soldiers lip, there is no conceivable justification for shooting Yehya since he was not throwing rocks at them. Or even if he was throwing rocks at them.

Israeli soldiers arrested two of his Jordanian relatives & obstructed an ambulance for over half an hour trying to take Yehya, who was bleeding profusely. He was eventually taken to a Jenin hospital where doctors determined he required surgery they could not provide. They requested permission to transfer him to Israel for treatment but when denied entry permits transferred him in critical condition to a hospital in Nablus, twenty miles away on a road with checkpoints, where he died.

Yehya was the third Palestinian man gunned down last week by Israeli soldiers. Another was a young man in East Jerusalem and one in Hebron. Al Araqa, East Jerusalem, & Hebron are occupied territories, not the jurisdiction of Israeli police, as AP reported. Media can’t even get that straight.

The murder of these three young men is part of a general crack-down in the West Bank including overnight raids on dozens of houses, Israeli troops storming into homes & violently searching them, causing excessive property damage, & arresting dozens of Palestinians in a dragnet. According to one human rights group, Israeli troops shot seven Palestinians & arrested at least 375 others (including 55 children & 19 women) just last month. In that time they also abducted eleven Palestinians from Gaza.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are being held in 17 Israeli prisons & detention camps. Of these, 540 Palestinians are held under administrative detention which means imprisonment without trial or formal charges & allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians indefinitely. It not only violates due process & the Geneva Accord about rules of occupation; it violates so many international laws the UN should be jumping up & down like monkeys instead of standing mute as a dumbbell.

Build the economic & cultural boycott of Israel to defend Palestinians from the barbarism of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing. May our brother Mohammed RIP.

(Photo by Majdi Mohammed/AP)

NBC offers “heart-warming” in place of news

NBC nightly news did what they called a “heart-warming” story about a little girl in Central African Republic who lost both parents in the civil war. Last year the smarmy reporter Ann Curry did a report on how the child forgave the killers, like it was a conflict between good & evil. There was no political explanation of the conflict.

Some good-hearted rich guy in the US arranged to bring her here & get her adopted into another rich family. There’s no question this little girl will thrive–even though she’s wrenched out of her own culture to “save.” But there is still a civil war left unexplained & thousands of other little kids. What’s so “heart-warming” about that?