Israeli murders of unarmed Palestinians in West Bank resembles police murders in the Black community in the US

Grieving Mohammed Lafi Abu Latifeh (Ilia Yefimovich:Getty Images) August 1 2015

The death of baby Ali Dawabsheh, who burned to death when Israeli settlers torched his family home, testifies to the criminality & barbarism of Israel’s settlement projects in the West Bank. Regrettably, he is not the only Palestinian being grieved right now. The situation in the West Bank of Israeli soldiers fatally shooting unarmed Palestinian youth resembles nothing so much as police homicides in the Black community in US cities.

Last week alone, there were funerals for three young Palestinians shot by Israeli soldiers. Here they are mourning the death of 19-year-old Mohammed Lafi Abu Latifeh who lived in the Qalandia refugee camp & was shot to death on an arrest raid. Israeli reports about what happened contradict those of Palestinian witnesses. Israeli authorities claimed he was a terrorist suspect–& in the racist thinking of an apartheid regime, summary execution is legitimate.

Yesterday, 18-year-old Laith al-Khaldi, was shot to death by Israeli troops at a protest over the murder of baby Ali. His funeral was held today.

Media is trying to pull a fast one on the truth by referring repeatedly to the settlers as “Jewish extremists.” In fact, extremism is the very nature of the Israeli settlement projects & the military occupation in the West Bank. Netanyahu can cry his crocodile tears about baby Ali to repair Israel’s murderous image but his inflammatory rhetoric against Palestinians, his murderous siege of Gaza, his assaults on unarmed protesters incites violence from settlers & tells us the “extremists” are the henchmen of the Israeli regime & another flank of the occupation.

Build the hell out of the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Don’t buy a damn thing made in Israel.

(Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

Attack on Jerusalem gay pride march is of a piece with Israeli apartheid

Gay pride march in Jerusalem (Kobi Schutz:AFP:Getty Images) August 1 2015

This is Israeli Yishai Shlissel attacking gay pride marchers with a knife last Thursday in Jerusalem; six were stabbed, two of them seriously injured. Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, are falling all over themselves disassociating from his actions. Netanyahu said the attack “contradicted the country’s basic values.” In fact what it contradicts is Israel’s elaborate pinkwashing of apartheid.

Much is being made of Shlissel’s ultra-orthodox Judaism but in fact he is a political product of Israeli colonialism, apartheid, & ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It’s not Judaism but Zionism that turned his head upside down. He’s from Modi’in Illit, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank established in 1994 on the land of five Palestinian villages. He had to be at least 19-years-old when he moved there so he has a head stuffed full of entitlement.

Shlissel’s violence isn’t just a personal pathology; it is of a piece with the very nature of Israeli militarism. Those who live in other heavily militarized societies like the US, India, Mexico, know the problem well. Shlissel attacking gay activists derives from the mentality that agrees with carpet bombing Gaza over & over again, particularly targeting children; of the economic blockade of Gaza preventing essential medicines & foodstuffs from getting through; of soldiers attacking worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque; of aggressive settlers from all over Kingdom Come moving to the West Bank & expropriating Palestinian lands as though they were entitled to it; of settlers burning down Palestinian mosques in the West Bank; of torching family homes with people inside–burning to death a small child & seriously burning his family; of soldiers shooting down unarmed protesters, roughing up small children, & incarcerating thousands without due process; of uprooting entire villages like Susiya & the five villages Modi’in Illit is built on; of Israelis sitting in easy chairs watching ethnic cleansing in Gaza like it was a football game.

Israel is not & never will be the promised land of Zionism. It has no future but dystopia because it is built on carnage & lies. The only solution is a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians live as brothers & sisters. Those settlers who can’t deal with justice may just want to move back to where they came from.

Build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel.

(Photo by Kobi Schutz/AFP/Getty Images)

In defense of “identity politics”, the struggle of the oppressed for justice

News reported that between 2005 & 2014, 17,000 women were murdered in Mexico–much of that likely related to the so-called drug war & military occupation of the country. Between 2003 & 2012, over 18,000 women in the US were murdered by men, over half by intimate partners. Official Indian crime figures estimate over 8,000 women a year are murdered in “dowry deaths & in 2013 there were 106,527 incidents of “cruelty” committed against women by husbands & in-laws. That kind of statistic holds true around the world.

The homicide rate against the Black community in the US is finally breaking the silence barrier of media & we now know that every 28-hours a Black person is killed by a police officer. According to “Operation Ghetto Storm” by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, that’s over 300 Black people a year.

So why in the hell are leftists going after “identity politics”? Identity politics is the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Black Power movement of the 1970s, the women’s liberation & LGBT movements–all of which transformed politics in the US, all of which were resistance to oppression & the exercise of power. Is it perhaps the specter of Black power, female power, LGBT power that scares the hell out of people? Is it something they cannot control? What possible objections hold water when the oppressed stand up for their own best interests? None!

Children are the beacon for social transformation

Madari girl (Umesh Solanki) July 31 2015

The world can get just too damn much with you; the violence & grief can get overwhelming. That can make cynicism & misanthropy seem appealing rather than rancid & dead-end. Once you lose respect & hope for humanity, there’s no place to go. That’s why Dante put “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” over the gate of hell.

We repeat ad nauseam that children are the future though you wouldn’t know it from the way poor children are treated. But for those who won’t accept the status quo, that’s where our commitment begins–to moving that mantra from sentiment to a determination to make this world suitable for children to live & love in.

This small girl is a from a Madari community in Gujarat, India. It’s not posted for anthropological reasons but because humanity still has a chance to make this world work for her.

(Photo by Umesh Solanki at

Pakistan destroying housing of Afghan refugees

Pakistan destroying slums (REUTERS:Faisal Mahmood) July 31 2015

Emancipation US-style: the US-NATO war in Afghanistan has been so liberating for women by bombing them out of their homes so they could travel to foreign countries as unwelcome refugees & disperse their unaccompanied children on the dangerous immigrant routes to Europe & Australia where they would be treated like vermin by border patrol. But at least their nails would be done at that beauty salon in downtown Kabul before they left.

Now for at least the last few years, the Pakistani government has been cracking down on the illegal slums where they live outside Islamabad, coming in with riot police & bulldozers to level them to make room for gentrification & redevelopment. The refugees are unable to afford the high rents in the city so built flimsy dwellings with no access to electricity, gas, or water mains. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) which is clearing the slums has no compensation or rehousing plans for the residents, which will make thousands of people, including children, elderly, & infirm, homeless. Many have lived here for nearly forty years after fleeing from the former Soviet invasion. This woman is objecting as the CDA moves in to destroy her home.

The UN refugee agency worked with the Pakistani government to induce refugees to return to Afghanistan by giving them the chump change of US $150. Of course, Afghanistan is still being bombed by the US, there is no housing for the refugees, & no work so there was little point to going home. At least in Pakistan some could find work as domestic workers–even if the pay was only about US $100 a month.

Residents are putting up a fight with the bulldozers & riot police but, as in other countries, they will be removed & just have to find another place of land where they can rebuild & live for at least a while.

Such are the glories of emancipation US-style.

US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!

(Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters)

In defense of religious freedom & the niqab

Some of the most contentious discussions I’ve had on Facebook were about my support for women wearing the niqab. Many concede it’s part of freedom of religion but insist the women wearing it are controlled by men or religion–or that it’s not really required by Islam. One would think that after thousands of women wearing the niqab led several of the Arab uprisings–most notably in Yemen & Bahrain–there would be more respect for the intelligence & independence of the women & their ability to decide what the hell they wear. I wore a nun’s outfit covering everything but my face for nearly three years & can testify that my brains didn’t fall out & that I even became a feminist while wearing it.

I’m being badgered again about its use–as if I had anything to say about it. For me, it’s a very simple matter of freedom of religion. It doesn’t matter if you feel offended, for whatever reason, by its use. The veil is not about you. It’s about women’s right to choose what they wear without being judged stupid or being demeaned. Is such a fuss made about the bikini or the mini skirt or exposing cleavage? I don’t have anything else to say on the matter. Except that women should be respected & left the hell alone. If they feel oppressed by the veil, it’s up to them to decide what to do. If they don’t, the eyes are the window to the soul.