Zionism and Israel have nothing in common with Black civil rights Obama claims

(Jaafar Ashtiyeh:AFP:Getty Images)

Zionism is a right-wing ideology which in its inception rejected the broader struggle against racism & colonialism. It’s an elitist doctrine which cannot resolve issues of persecution or address the problems of Jewish working people because social hatreds like racism & antisemitism can only be rooted out of human society through solidarity. That’s the iron law of social transformation which Zionism rebuffed.

Now in an interview with Atlantic magazine, Obama pulled one of his fast ones by linking Zionist Israel’s colonial right to exist by dispossessing Palestinians to the struggle for Black civil rights in the US–a movement he has no credentials in as an activist or supporter.

The US Pentagon just approved a $1.9 billion arms deal with Israel–the very same Pentagon which armed US police departments with the most up-to-date armored vehicles & weaponry against the Black community. And the very same police departments trained in violence by Israeli security firms who honed their skills on ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Zionism is a supremacist doctrine, racist at its core.That is being violently played out within Israel against Palestinians & Ethiopians; in the incarceration & deportation of African refugees; in the occupation & ethnic cleansing of the West Bank & Gaza; in its neoliberal projects in African countries, most especially in the blood diamond industry.

Activists in Gaza & in Ferguson recognized their affinity last summer when both were under violent siege & reached out to each other. The oppressed understood what Obama’s manipulations cannot efface. But his comments clearly show the US & Zionist movement will be directing a campaign within the Black community to garner support for Israel. Palestinians & their supporters in large numbers have stood with the Black community against the denial of civil rights & civil liberties–standing on opposite sides of the barricades from the Pentagon tanks & Israeli-trained troops.

This photo is a Palestinian activist at a West Bank protest against Israeli settlers expropriating Palestinian land. While Israel receives 14,500 missile guidance systems, 750 bunker buster bombs, 4,100 glide bombs, 3,000 precision-guided Hellfire missiles, & 250 medium-range air-to-air missiles in the $1.9 billion deal, Palestinians are armed only with rocks, sling-shots, & burning tires. Tell us again Mr. Obama, that Zionism is the anthem of freedom!

Palestinians & their supporters will continue to support & help build the emerging civil rights & Black power movement in the US as we continue to build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Our loyalties & commitments are undivided: we stand against racism, antisemitism, & every form of social hatred.

(Photo by Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)

Mothering the refugees

Rohingya mother & child (Beawiharta:Reuters) May 23 2015

This is a Rohingya mother waiting as her child drinks water after getting off the boat in Julok village in Kura Binje, Indonesia. Some of the arrivals reported they were drifting at sea nearly four months with very little food & water.

We should take a moment to honor these parents & to imagine what it must have been like to go through months not knowing if your child or children would survive. There were likely those who did not. Terror, stoicism, & grief for your children must combine with your own starvation in a complex of psychological misery & take a terrible, lasting toll on these young parents.

Our deepest respect for them & our hopes their lives & their futures will recover from the tsunami of social hatred they have had to endure–in Myanmar & on the high seas. Our fullest solidarity with them.

(Photo by Beawiharta/Reuters)

Indonesian government serves up indignity to Rohingya refugees

Rohingya in truck (Sutanta Aditya:AFP:Getty Images) May 23 2015

Just because you’re poor & undocumented doesn’t mean you don’t know when you’re being treated like cattle–or that it’s okay to treat you like that. These are Rohingya men & boys rescued in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia being transported in a truck to a detention center.

Indonesia has a great big military with all sorts of personnel carriers. Couldn’t they have commandeered a couple of those to transport the immigrants with some measure of comfort & dignity? Or at the very least couldn’t they have cleaned the manure out of this truck before they loaded it up with exhausted, malnourished people?

When Indonesia hosted the Asia-Africa Conference (AAC) last month with politicians & dignitaries from all over the world, did they transport them around in unwashed manure trucks? Or did they provide limousines? Or at least buses?

The conference was formed 60 years ago to oppose colonialism, address poverty & underdevelopment, “craft a new ethos of international relations,” “practice tolerance & live in peace with one another as good neighbors.” Is moving people around in manure trucks the best way to do that?

At the AAC meeting Indonesian president Joko Widodo chided the UN to reform to put “justice for all nations first” because “the global imbalance is getting more & more suffocating.” No one knows that better than the Rohingya.

(Photo by Sutanta Aditya/AFP/Getty Images)

Governments collude with Zionist movement against BDS

Palestinian activist May 22 2015

There are some very troubling signs in several countries indicating collusion between governments & the Zionist movement in the political containment of BDS & intimidation of the growing Palestinian solidarity movement. There have been several initiatives under the guise of identifying anti-Zionism with antisemitism: one is the lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority in a NY court by Shurat HaDin, the Israeli law firm associated with Mossad, for aiding & abetting terrorism; there are legislative initiatives in the US against companies honoring BDS; a Palestinian support event was banned on a university campus in England; a professor in Australia is being prosecuted for supporting BDS; a Canadian official is talking about making BDS activity illegal;

The Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (Palestine Legal), in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), released a report this week saying in the US they had 102 requests for legal assistance from campus solidarity activists just in the first four months of 2015 after being harassed & intimidated as antisemitic or supporters of terrorism.

Shurat HaDin, which received training from the Southern Poverty Law Center, has on its masthead: “Bankrupting terrorism–one lawsuit at a time.” And that is certain to be a method they will employ against BDS groups to tie up resources & personnel in civil liberties law suits.

Shurat HaDin calls itself a civil rights organization. They would not be the first organization to identify their purpose with high principles to carry out anti-democratic & politically reactionary work.

Now in an interview in Atlantic magazine, Obama linked Israel’s right to exist with the struggle for civil rights in the US–which he hasn’t lifted a finger to advance. “There’s a direct line,” he said, “between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland & to feel safe & free of discrimination & persecution, & the right of African-Americans to vote & have equal protection under the law.” There’s a direct line between colonialism & voting rights? We only wish our man would allocate as many resources to protecting the US Black community from police violence & discrimination as he does to an apartheid state engaged in ethnic cleansing.

What concerns Obama & Israel & all their Zionist front groups is not civil rights for Black Americans but the new political solidarity forged between Palestinians & the Black community after Ferguson. Such a dynamic would be disastrous for Israel’s apartheid project. That’s why Zionist groups organized buses to attend rallies in Baltimore. Civil rights for Blacks is only to cover their ulterior motive of linking Zionism to justice–with which it is absolutely incompatible since Zionism is based on a rejection of the broader struggle against colonialism & racism. Zionism is racism & it has been unable to contain that reality within Israel itself by discrimination against Palestinians, Ethiopians, African refugees, & occupation of the West Bank & Gaza.

There is no reason to be daunted by the crescendo of Zionist attacks. They only emphasize the importance & the power of BDS. What they signify so clearly is the historical importance of the Palestinian struggle. It is surely one of, if not the most important political struggle in the world today. Palestinian Intifada stands as a beacon to suffering humanity. It is, for the US, not just a matter of controlling the Middle East but of destroying the exemplar of popular struggle against tyranny & colonialism which the Palestinians represent.

Our commitment must continue to be building the economic, cultural, & educational boycott of Israel so that we may contribute to forging a democratic, secular state where Jews & Palestinians live as brothers & sisters–& stand united against colonialism, racism, & social hatreds of all kinds.

(Photo from Electronic Intifada)

Working people aid Rohingya while governments continue their barbaric default

Acehnese fisherman with Rohingya boy (Binsar Bakkara:AP)

There are so few stories coming out of the immigration crises in the Andaman & Mediterranean Seas that aren’t tragic because it is the suffering of so many confronting the barbaric indifference of governments. Whoever called the poor “the wretched of the earth” hadn’t yet met neoliberal politicians willing to let thousands drown & starve to death without lifting a finger. Actually such crimes were always a part of colonial history but now they stand exposed & humanity (individually & collectively) must choose where we stand: with human solidarity or with barbarism.

Lampedusa (which has an immigrant detention center & is a transit point to Europe), is a tiny island under 8 square miles (20.2 square kilometers) with a population of 4,500 people engaged primarily in fishing & farming with tourism a thriving business. After the Arab uprisings & US-NATO war against Libya, the island was deluged with upwards of 60,000 refugees, mainly from Tunisia & Libya. Those most concerned about refugees were small shopkeepers afraid refugees would deter tourism & who attempted to prevent immigrant boats from landing. The coast guard had to create a landing area behind a phalanx of armed police.

Most immigrants lived in the streets & there were riots because the 850 bed detention facility was an overcrowded hellhole. The mayor then (2011), Bernardino de Rubeis, was inflammatory & led the campaign against immigrants for ruining the island. What does it say that in 2013 our man De Rubeis was jailed for over five years & disqualified from public office for life for extortion & accepting bribes in exchange for illegal dumping of waste? If you want to hurt the tourist industry, there’s nothing like mountains of stinking garbage.

All that has changed under the present woman mayor of Lampedusa named Giusy Nicolini, an outspoken advocate for immigrants. In 2013, off the coast of Lampedusa local fishermen rescued people from a capsized immigrant boat. The residents of Lampedusa, led by Nicolini, compassionately welcomed the survivors & continue to provide shelter in churches, blankets, & food. Nicolini publicly criticized the Italian coast guard for botching the rescue & continues to speak out against EU immigration policy.

In the Andaman Sea, Thai, Malaysian, & Indonesian navies prevented immigrant boats from landing & pushed them further out to sea–adrift without food, water, or engines, many in need of emergency medical care. The headlines today read that after Indonesia agreed to temporary sanctuary, Indonesian fisherman rescued & towed the boats to shore. One fisherman who led the rescue was Razali Puteh who after spotting a drifting boat of refugees rallied other fishing boats to help bring immigrants to shore. When the refugees landed photos show Acehnese residents carrying those who are sick to shore. That was while Indonesia’s foreign minister was saying the country had “given more than it should” to help Rohingya & Bangladeshi refugees.

There’s no reason to draw cynical conclusions about the human race from these immigration crises. But there is every reason to question the character of political leadership. What seems an insurmountable crisis to the politicians was managed quite simply by working people. This might suggest that the people running this world are the wrong class of people, that they are truly the wretched of the earth. And the human race deserves far better.

The photo is an Acehnese fisherman rescuing refugees at sea. Our deepest respect.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.

(Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP)

Chucky Windsor never in IRA and not in the Boy Scouts either

The Washington Post reported Chucky Windsor has always denied being an IRA member. Wow, good thing that’s cleared up cause the IRA would never live it down. It’s bad enough they have to deal with Gerry Adams & Martin McGuinness crawling on their bellies like a reptile for the Windsors.

There’s nothing more sour than a rebel gone establishment. Better they go into a witness protection program or join the monastery.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s collusion with Rohingya ethnic cleansing

Rohingya & Indonesian school girls  (AP Photo:Binsar Bakkara) May 21 2015

Hopefully, at some point media & human rights groups will exhaust their incredulity that Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi remains silent on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. In 2012, when she received the Nobel prize & the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (an honorific signifying political death) she refused to denounce the violent pogrom against Rohingya driving thousands into exile in Bangladesh. Bangladesh was refusing them entry & when reporters asked Suu Kyi about it, she told them she “didn’t know” if the Rohingya could be considered Burmese citizens. They had been stripped of citizenship in 1982 by the military junta & are treated as undocumented immigrants though Muslims go back centuries in Burma.

When asked, she has also insisted the pogroms against Rohingya, led by right-wing, nationalist Buddhist monks & fomented by the military regime (to facilitate land grabs), are religious, not political disputes & that violence is committed on both sides. That is not silence but outright collusion with the regime & with the pogroms—from a person who claims to be inspired by the non-violent vision of Gandhi & who was feted by the Nobel committee for her “visionary idealism” & abhorrence of brute force.

In the past few years, Suu Kyi has met with H. Clinton, Obama, & Christine Lagarde, the executor-in-chief of the IMF. They’re not meeting with her for social smooch-fests but because the US has immense capital investments in Myanmar. There is also an attempt to transition the economy from a form of crony capitalism controlled by the military to the scorched earth economics of neoliberalism. They want her to help promote that & are as indifferent to genocide of Muslims as she is. US companies were banned from investing in Burma in 1997 but under Obama economic sanctions were lifted & some of the biggest US corporations operate there now, including Coca Cola, PepsiCo., MasterCard, Visa, Cisco, Gap, Inc., & General Electric. During the years of sanctions, most investment, primarily based on the extractive industries, came from China & Thailand. There is now a competition shaping up in Myanmar between Chinese, Indian, & US business enterprises.

In 2013, farmers, villagers, & environmentalists began protests against the $1 billion Latpadaung copper mine project, a joint venture between a Chinese mining company & the Myanmar military. According to protesters, the project was based on massive land grabs (8,000 acres/3,200 hectares), destroying nearby mountains, polluting farmlands with waste products from the mines, destroying schools, homes, & monasteries, creating catastrophic environmental, social, & health problems. They demanded it be shut down. The regime (which Obama & Clinton tout as democratic) took after the protesters, including many Buddhist monks, with water cannons, tear gas, smoke grenades, & white phosphorous incendiary devices. Over 100 were hospitalized with serious burns.

Suu Kyi was appointed to head the official government commission set up to investigate the police violence as well as assess the social & economic sustainability of the copper mine. The regime likely figured that with her reputation as an opposition leader & all her honorifics she was the best person to make pigs fly. The commission ruled in favor of the mining project, pointedly avoided criticism of the government, & did not call for prosecuting those involved in the violence against protesters.

Suu Kyi went to meet with farmers, villagers, & protesters near the mining project to sell these conclusions & argued that Burma should honor the deals with foreign companies because “If we unilaterally break off ongoing projects, we stand to lose international trust.” Stooping to banalities (of the kind that likely go over well with Obama & Clinton), she added “I think we have to deprioritize our emotions & needs when it comes to the greater good.” The dispossessed protesters heckled her out of town. She’s lucky they didn’t ride her out on a rail.

Not just Suu Kyi’s silence on the pogroms against the Rohingya but Obama’s conduct of several wars exposes the Nobel Peace Prize as a fraud—as if that needed any more documentation after Henry Kissinger won it in 1973. It has no more cachet than People magazines “Sexiest Man Alive” award. And for rebels against tyranny, it once again shows that in social transformation there are no gurus, no masters but only teachers—even those of the less edifying kind.

This photo is young Muslim school girls in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia, handing food over the wall to a Rohingya refugee girl. Unlike Suu Kyi, they recognize the humanity of Rohingya Muslims. Unlike her, they do the right thing even without honorifics. Unlike her, they are the very best of humanity.

(Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP)

The barbarism of neoliberal immigration policy

Rohingya on land (AP Photo:Binsar Bakkara) May 21 2015

In a move of staggering barbarism, the European Union (EU) has approved plans for military operations to stop immigration from North Africa. It will begin next month with naval operations & likely proceed to “boots on the ground” in Libya–ostensibly to rout out “human traffickers” but of course to terrorize & deter immigrants. The military siege will almost certainly include the Spanish enclaves of Melilla & Ceuta on the North African coast near Morocco, another entry point for immigrants where Spanish authorities are increasing assaults to beat them back.

In that shell game we know so well for sanctioning war, the EU is lobbying the UN for approval. The UN is now trying to determine how to get their approval past international condemnation & contempt & salvage their tattered reputation from their operations in the DR Congo & Haiti.

The EU acknowledges there will be “collateral damage,” that men, women, & children on immigrant vessels will be killed. But who’s kidding who? They are not collateral at all but the intended victims. You don’t take a navy & an army after a few, or even several hundred “traffickers.”

The crisis in the Andaman Sea has been solved for the moment by Indonesia & Malaysia giving temporary refuge to the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 Rohingya & Bangladeshi refugees starving to death on ships. Thailand refused refuge & it’s certain immigrants would not be safe there anyway–so murderous is the military regime. Leaving people to starve to death was too unspeakable a crime, not for governments to perpetrate, but to perpetrate before public scrutiny & condemnation.

Photos show Indonesian fishing boats towing refugee ships to shore. There are images of refugees bathing, grooming, children playing, people tending to their sick, many looking shell-shocked. But for now, they are on dry land.

The crisis is by no means over for the Rohingya since persecution continues in Myanmar & many will continue to flee. Until they find a permanent refuge without persecution, we must remain on red alert. These governments are only waiting for attention to pass before they start with the barbarism again.

The crisis in the Mediterranean is now a war against immigrants. People of good will around the world must consider ways to put massive & emergency political pressure on our governments & the UN to back off their murderous plans. Not just Europeans but everyone must protest the use of military force against desperate, unarmed human beings in plastic dinghies.

Immigration is a human right! If the EU, Thailand, the US, Australia, & other countries cannot honor it, they have to be taken out. Neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, has proven incompatible with human life.

Photo is Rohingya boy sitting with his sick mother in an Indonesian refugee camp.

(Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP)

Social welfare cuts in India to transition to scorched earth economics of neoliberalism

India (Adnan Abidi:Reuters) May 20 2015

Media reports that after a year in office, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has cut social welfare spending that will impact at least 300 million poor. The cut in funds for nutrition, clean water, & health programs (stingy to begin with) will instead go to infrastructure projects like roads & bridges to facilitate industry & foreign investment–the neoliberal model used all over the world. Except in the US where they cut social welfare & still do not invest in infrastructure so that bridges are collapsing all over the place.

Modi set up an agency called Niti Aayog (or National Institution for Transforming India Aayog) to execute the neoliberal transition–or rather to accelerate it since it’s been operative in Indian agriculture & mining for a long time. The agency is headed by Columbia professor Arvind Panagariya, a man trained at the World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organization, & a guru of neoliberal scorched earth economics. The agencies mandate is to dismantle the “Soviet-style Planning Commission” which didn’t appear to be working that well anyway for working people & go whole-hog neoliberal.

This child lives in a New Delhi slum & is likely to grow old there unless neoliberalism is decisively routed–which won’t be easy but is possible & necessary if humanity is to survive. Housing is not part of neoliberal infrastructure schemes.

(Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters)