Sign petition to support cultural boycott of Israel

The BDS committee is asking Brazilian musicians Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil to cancel their July 28th performance in Tel Aviv–the one year anniversary of Israel’s Operation Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza.

In 1968, Veloso & Gil, two of Brazil’s biggest pop stars, were arrested by the military dictatorship. They spent a few months in prison & several more months under house arrest. The junta wanted them to leave the country so let them play a concert in 1969 to raise the money. They went into exile in London for the next three years.

Their music has always been associated with struggles for freedom, justice, & equality–which is precisely why Israel wants them to perform. Veloso & Gil aren’t schleps like Robbie Williams but people of character. That puts the forces of justice in a political tug-of-war with the forces of apartheid for the education of Veloso & Gil as with Lauryn Hill, Roger Waters, Snoop Dogg, Carlos Santana, Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, & Elvis Costello who all withdrew from gigs in Israel in respect for the boycott.

Please sign & share this petition to support the cultural boycott of Israel:

Join Palestinian and Brazilian organisations in calling on Veloso and Gil to cancel their Israel concert:…

Tabloids caught lying again

Do you know how to tell the tabloid is lying that Yoko Ono had an intimate affair with Hillary Clinton? Because they claim Ono met Clinton at several anti-Vietnam War protests in NYC. Rest assured, neither ever marched with the plebeians.

And that’s enough celebrity gossip for one day. Make it a year.

The left should stop chattering and do something

Rohingya:food from water (Christopher Archambault:AFP) May 15 2015

There’s been a lot of chatter on the left for a long time about the need for a united party to counterpose to neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. And indeed that is a crying need. But before you talk about a party you ought to talk about working together to address the miseries all around us created by neoliberalism. If you can’t work harmoniously for justice, what the hell is the point of a group where you’ll be at each other’s throats over doctrinal differences?

The wars, Palestine, women’s rights, sweatshops, child labor, civil rights, civil liberties, the immigration crises everywhere on this planet are issues where unity can be forged in action. But most of the left is nowhere to be seen & lord knows, there’s enough of them selling newspapers. What the hell are they doing? Where are they concentrating their political energies?

No one who lives in the US should be riding a high-horse but still the question emerges, “Why haven’t left groups in Europe been organizing protests in defense of immigrants in the Mediterranean? We know there are immense political movements in Southeast Asia. Where are they in response to the crisis in the Andaman Sea? Are protests just not being reported anywhere? Are human rights groups, like too many in the US, all tied up in foundation hush-money?

This photo is Rohingya immigrants scrounging for food in the sea after Thai helicopters dropped parcels. The ones in the water are passing food supplies to those on board, including many small children. The UN & other human rights agencies haven’t sent rescue boats–& mind you, the UN has a military it can deploy if need be; & it has resources. Their hand-wringing is not a worthy response to this massive catastrophe. The left should be responding to all this–not twiddling with irrelevancies & factional disputes.

One of the operational mantras of capitalism is “find a need & fill it.” That’s pretty much what human smugglers are doing & they’re being chastised for it. Well there’s a much more pressing political need in immigration that needs to be filled & that is building international solidarity: picket lines, rallies, teach-ins, & speak-outs to educate on the human right of immigration & why “an injury to one is an injury to all” is the iron law of social transformation.

If the left can’t get together & work on that, they’re not much use at all. And the certainty is, when they’re eighty, they’ll be even more tiresome than they are now.

(Photo by Christopher Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

Peruvian farmers protest open-pit copper mine that will destroy their region

Peru farmers ( Martin Mejia:AP ) May 15 2015

News reports accompanying this photo are quite sketchy but it only took a few sentences to set off all kinds of red alerts. These are farmers in Cocachacra, Peru battling with riot police defending the $1.4 billion Tia Maria open-pit copper mine project. The farmers, along with environmentalists, claim the mining operation will contaminate their fields, groundwater sources, & crops. Thousands of people in several cities in the region have actively opposed the project for years. Of course, you don’t know most of that information from the sketchy reports.

If you’ve been following the history of multinational mining projects in Peru, you know the government has fast-tracked environmental studies minimizing potential contamination precisely to attract more foreign investment. The plunder will mostly be taken out of the country but not without enriching the local oligarchs & their minions in the regime. One of the red alerts in the articles is that the Tia Maria mine is owned by Southern Peru Copper Corp. based in Arizona, & a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico.

The name Grupo Mexico might ring a bell because just last August in Cananea in the state of Sonora, Mexico (about 40 miles from the US border with Arizona), a mining spill considered the worst environmental disaster in Mexico’s history happened at the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine. The mine is owned by Grupo Mexico which runs its operations on the neoliberal business model of scorched earth.

In that mining spill, eleven million gallons (42 thousand cubic meters) of sulphuric acid, arsenic, cadmium, copper, chrome, & mercury were spilled into two rivers, contaminating the water supply for several municipalities (including the downstream capital city of Hermosillo with one million people); destroying the local ecology along the river & the livelihood of thousands of farmers; making the area uninhabitable for local flora, fauna, wildlife & for birds on a major north-south migration route.

The farmers & environmentalists aren’t talking through their hats. There is an entire history of open-pit copper mining just in the US which has left thousands of acres in Arizona, Montana, & Utah not just vast eyesores but have done massive environmental damage to fish & wildlife, water & air contamination, & created health & public safety problems for hundreds of thousands.

Peru, whose economy is warped by neoliberalism, depends on mining for 62 percent of its export earnings because it has bent over backwards with incentives to multinationals. Investment in mining last year based on those incentives amounted to $8.6 billion according to official figures. The country is now the world’s number three copper & number five gold producer. And you can bet your sweet boopie the oligarchs are raking in the dough for closing their eyes to environmental catastrophe. Short-range profiteering is one of the fatal flaws of the neoliberal business model.

The Peruvian elite is not going to let farmers & environmentalists scare off their gravy train with these protests & they have used considerable violence against them. Several farmers have already been killed. And that puts those farmers on the front lines (or rather one of the front lines) of the environmental struggles against neoliberal devastation of the planet.

Our fullest solidarity with their struggle.

(Photo by Martin Mejia/AP)

Commemorating the historic betrayal of the Camp David Accords in 1978

Speaking at a press conference from Camp David yesterday, Obama praised the Camp David Accords signed in 1978 between then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat & Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin & brokered by US president Jimmy Carter–that born-again champion of the oppressed (yeah right!). According to Obama, the great master of deceit, the Accords were intended to bring peace between Israel & Palestinians.

Sadat & Begin both won the Nobel Peace Prize that year for this monumental betrayal not just of the Palestinians but of the Egyptian people. As a result of the Camp David Accords, the Egyptian regime turned its back on the Palestinians & allied with Israel. In reward for that betrayal, Egypt was armed to the teeth by the US Pentagon to defend Israel & against any movement for democracy within Egypt. We see the continuing results of that relationship in the military dictatorship & the reversal of the Egyptian uprising.

On Nakba Day 2015, we should acknowledge that justice for Palestinians & a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians can live in harmony will not derive from negotiations with the US. When the Oslo Accords (again brokered by the US) were signed in 1993, those who opposed them as the terms of Palestinian surrender were excoriated as fools. The Oslo Accords were “the best the Palestinians could do,” we were told. And that is absolutely irrefutable if you rely for justice on negotiations with the neoliberal forces who see Palestinians as an obstacle to plundering & controlling the Middle East.

Intifada, Palestinian political power is the way forward–not negotiations with war criminals. Palestinians can speak for themselves. BDS is vital to the process of strengthening Intifada & discrediting the role of US & European negotiators who are there for no other reason than to undermine Palestinian self-determination & prevent a democratic secular state from bringing peace & justice for all.

Long live Intifada! Take it international by building the economic & cultural boycott of Israel!

Our rulers have popped their cork

Thai navy May 15 2015

This photo is documentation the people who run this planet have officially popped their cork. The Guardian-UK caption says in the Andaman Sea near Thailand, “Rohingya migrants swim to collect food supplies dropped by a Thai army helicopter after they jumped from a boat.” It’s long been established that media caption writers struggle with language. It’s so hard to be pithy when a picture is worth a thousand of your damn lies.

So what came first? Did the Rohingya jump off the boat to take a leak or take a swim & then the Thai army decided to deliver food to them then & there? Or did the Thai army actually airdrop food supplies in the Andaman Sea for exhausted, starving immigrants to make a swim for?

Because the Andaman Sea is bigger than a swimming pool. The depth goes from nearly 3,600 feet (1,096 m) to nearly 14,000 feet (4,198 m) & it’s 231,700 square miles (600,000 km). Should people without life jackets really be swimming around out there? Are there sharks? What if nobody on the boat could swim?

Couldn’t the Thai army which has annual joint military training exercises with the Pentagon come up with a less barbaric way to deliver food? Or several less barbaric ways?

The more you know about out “leaders”, the more certain you are of their criminal insanity. We’re not safe with them in charge.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders!

(Photo by Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

Vatican recognizes Palestinian bantustate. Whoopdidoo!

So the Vatican officially recognized a bantustate for Palestine. Whoopdidoo! Now what? The Vatican has 67 years of equivocations about Palestinian justice. This must be another one of those symbolic things Palestinians are expected to rejoice about–like the pope saying a Hail Mary at the apartheid wall. Symbolic is another word for empty gesture.

Israel is reportedly disappointed. But not as disappointed as Palestinian supporters when Pope Francis refused to denounce Operation Ethnic Cleansing last summer & held a public smooch-fest with then Israeli president Shimon Peres.

These bantustate recognitions are a political scam. If the Vatican comes out for BDS, now we’re talking. Now we’re getting somewhere. Save the empty gestures.

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)