Media lies, half-truths, & complete baloney about Palestinians

Beaten Orthodox Jew near Al-Aqsa (Ammar Awad) Sept 29 2015

This photo is a classic case of the media conceit that doesn’t always outright lie but never tells the truth about Palestinians. It was taken about two weeks ago in the alleyways of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem which lead to gates entering the Noble Sanctuary where Al-Aqsa mosque is located.

These entryways are the site of conflict between extremist Israeli settlers & riot cops against Palestinian worshippers & activists defending the mosque.
This is the area where extremist Israeli settlers threatened Palestinian women with bats in an attempt to rush the Al-Aqsa compound while Israeli riot police are using rubber-coated metal bullets, stun grenades, pepper & tear gas against Palestinians defending the mosque. In one video, Israeli police took after a Palestinian man coming to the defense of the women being threatened.

The Reuters caption to the photo read: “Palestinian women look on as an Orthodox Jew lays on the floor after he was attacked by other Palestinians during clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City.” More’s the pity! The kid shouldn’t have been there in the first place. If he got his ass kicked for trying to enter & vandalize the mosque, tough noogies!

Why don’t media show what these often-armed settlers do to Palestinians in the West Bank? What about the torching of Palestinian homes & mosques, the destruction of their water wells & farm lands, the assaults & brutalizing of their kids?

Hopefully the schnook wasn’t hurt too bad though baby Ali Darawshe burned to death when such extremists torched his family home.

Build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel; demand no aid of any kind to Israel.

(Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters)

One-year anniversary of “umbrella movement” for democracy in Hong Kong


Yesterday was the one-year commemoration of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, China, called the “umbrella movement.” This is a re-post from October 2014 as a tribute to that continuing movement but also because it was accused of being a US-orchestrated spectacle & this is to answer that scurrilous charge.

It is now frequent for commentators to smear opposition to tyranny by labeling it US-orchestrated or right-wing. They did this to the Arab uprisings, including in Syria; protests against the Rousseff regime in Brazil & protests in other Latin American countries; & against China in Hong Kong. This post addresses those smears because if they are not exposed politically, people around the world who want to render active solidarity will be confused & demobilized.

(I only regret the length of this post.)

Many articles insist the Hong Kong democracy movement is orchestrated by the US State Department, because the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)–which is a US government agency likely chock full of CIA operatives–fed money to some organizations & activists. Those who make these allegations have read too many John LeCarre novels or listened too much to Alex Jones–& have participated in politics too little. Of course the US government is involved; they have vested interests in the outcome. But suggesting these protests are CIA street theater rather than a profound social movement for democracy is politically shabby & plays into the hands of reaction.

The CIA & other US agencies have a long-standing policy of intervening in political movements all over the world. There are volumes written on this, some books now decades old. All the most important social movements (including the US Civil Rights, women’s, labor, antiwar, & socialist movements) are/were infiltrated by provocateurs using bribery, blackmail, & other corrupting practices. It’s what undercover operatives do. That does does mean the entire movement is compromised nor does it render the entire movement bankrupt.

Too much has been written by conspiracy thinkers claiming the Arab uprisings are a sting operation of Mossad & the CIA; many circulated rumors that the Brazil anti-World Cup protests of millions were taken over by fascists; competing political forces have made a cacophony of dissenting analyses of Syria & the Ukraine. Now, based on a shred of evidence & massive speculation, some are on a band wagon denouncing the Hong Kong movement because the NED dished out dough to some participants. Does it surprise anyone that Beijing is making the exact same claim?

Some people who make these claims about the Hong Kong protests are Maoists, shamelessly attempting to cover for the undemocratic regime in China. Many are libertarian thinkers who have no respect for working people as the agents of social transformation & think they are only pawns in international espionage. Where will this nonsense end!? Those who don’t recognize the compelling realities of a mass social movement demanding democracy need to get out of the game & take up crocheting. Conspiracy models of social uprisings serve reaction, not justice. In many ways it’s just a shade away from the Zionist claim that Hamas rockets are the problem in Gaza rather than Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

In 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the movement for democracy called the Prague Spring. Both Soviet & capitalist media reported the movement as anti-socialist–of course because that deceit served the interests of both. It justified suppression for the USSR & it discredited socialism for the US. But what the movement was demanding was democracy; they wanted democratic freedoms & the end of a police state. The point of the comparison is that misrepresenting & discrediting progressive movements is an old game that always plays into the hands of reaction, undercuts solidarity, & buttresses continued tyranny.

So who are these protesters in Hong Kong? They’re students, union organizations, & unaffiliated working people. Likely a section of them are even anti-communist & identify capitalism as democratic. Call it heresy, but that doesn’t invalidate their struggle for democratic suffrage one iota. They’ve been out on the street now for nearly three weeks (since Sept. 28th), setting up an Occupy encampment in Admiralty, the central business district & venue of financial institutions & government buildings. They also set up encampment in Mong Kok, a major commercial district with high end retailers & catering to the tourist & entertainment industry, particularly the sex industry, with brothels, massage parlors, nightclubs, & bars run by criminal cartels.

Democracy activists paralyzed commerce & traffic in both districts with makeshift metal, bamboo, & umbrella barricades. Since billions of dollars of business are transacted in Hong Kong & at least 44 banks were closed due to protests, business analysts are worried about the negative economic impact of the protests. Some alarmists speak of the need for financial markets to move to Singapore to escape the instability; some are concerned foreign investors will shy off. A few expressed indignation at the illegal character of the protests which defy a local ordinance that protests of more than 50 people must have police permits. It’s a good thing those analysts are good are making money because they stink at politics.This could be taken as a petulant & pissy complaint. But of course, it’s because they answer to the capitalist tycoons who run Hong Kong like a mafia. What’s regrettable is they differ so little from the Chinese “socialist” regime.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese government, issued a condemnation on October 1st which also calls the movement “an illegal gathering” which is “disrupting social order & harming Hong Kong’s economic livelihood.” It goes on to threaten that if the protests continue the “consequences will be unimaginable.” When you have the untenable situation of Hong Kong called “one country, two systems” & you can’t tell the difference between the two political systems, & when you have ostentatious wealth juxtaposed to thousands living in basement chicken coops, you gotta ask, ‘just where does the socialist side of that equation manifest’? And you have the cauldron that foments revolution.

It’s not certain which of the two systems governs Hong Kong’s riot cops because they act just like the ones at Tiananmen Square in 1989 & those we’ve experienced in all the political uprisings around the world. Starting last Tuesday, police using pepper spray & tear gas moved on the Admiralty & Mong Kok encampments, drove out the protesters, & armed with bolt cutters, chainsaws, & sledgehammers, dismantled the barricades.

Media has been reporting about scuffles between democracy activists & disgruntled local residents or supporters of the Beijing regime who counter-protest, attempt to remove the barricades blocking the streets, & attack the protesters. Let’s get real! They’re more likely to be goon squads hired by the brothel owners or bouncers at the local strip clubs than neighborhood people or political reactionaries. Multinational businesses can’t ply potential clients with booze & prostitutes if they have to traverse barricades & encampments to get to the brothels.

Protesters using the umbrellas that have come to symbolize their movement as weapons & shields against pepper spray & tear gas battled with riot cops & retook Mong Kok on Saturday morning. They retook Mong Kok, but do the protesters stand a chance of forcing the regime’s hand? Will political power in Hong Kong remain in the hands of a tiny elite of capitalist tycoons in league with the undemocratic regime in Beijing? Maybe for now they will only squeak out minor concessions; maybe Beijing will continue to let capitalist tycoons run the place. But a movement has emerged, the forces of social transformation have assembled. If that wasn’t making Beijing & the tycoons sweat bullets, Beijing would not have put up an internet firewall to prevent millions of discontent Chinese on the mainland from witnessing the undoing of the monstrosity called “one country, two systems.”

For our part, we salute the protesters in Hong Kong & extend our fullest solidarity.

Photo is an activist without umbrella or other defenses standing alone against the socialist-capitalist riot cops in a scene reminiscent of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square.

(Photographer unknown; from the FB wall of Gregor Benton)

Turns out the revolution will be televised

Refugees charging celllphones (Iakovos Hatzistavrou:AFP:Getty) Sept 28 2015

Turns out the revolution will be televised. Every time refugees get near electrical outlets we see scenes like this. This is on a ferry heading for the port of Piraeus on the Greek mainland but we’ve also seen them in train stations along the way north. Who could have predicted the cell phone would be such an invaluable tool for refugees & immigrants to let their families know where they are & if they are safe.

Selfies are the only thing missing.

(Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP/Getty)

The mangled & bungled analysis of the Assad regime by the left: ending up on the wrong side of justice

Syrian boy injured in Assad bombing (Abd Doumany:AFP:Getty Images) Sept 28 2015

It’s hard to think of an Arab uprising where the analysis has been more mangled & bungled than the Syrian uprising. A large section of the left hails Assad as a champion of democracy & others recognize him as a dictator. Of course those who hail him as a champion can’t explain why he’s been bombing his own people for the past four years, killing an estimated 250,000 people, jailing thousands of dissidents, & driving 10 million into exile.

Some claim the Syrian uprising in 2011 was right-wing elements against a progressive regime. That has become the regrettable narrative of many leftists every time one of their favorite capitalist regimes faces popular opposition. They’ve regressed in analysis of capitalism in crisis to the jejune history of good guys/bad guys taught in US elementary schools.

Things are gonna get bumpy for Assad supporters now that the US has admitted its strategy in Syria of arming anti-Assad paramilitary militias was a mistake. Instead, it’s going to align with Russia, Israel, Australia, Turkey, & the Assad regime to fight ISIS. It would be best if Assad supporters reevaluated their analytical methods but it’s more likely most will engage in some fast talking around their misjudgments & run around like chickens with their heads cut off. What’s important is not who’s right & who’s wrong but what is actually happening in Syria & coming to grips with the complexity of that because it’s shaping up to be a very dangerous military situation for the peoples of the region.

What’s important to watch is the transition we’re going to see in US war propaganda. The US quite correctly–but for its own reasons–assessed the brutality of Assad’s regime. Now they have to pull a switcheroo to ally with his regime & promote that in a convincing way to the American people. There’ll be plenty of fast talking coming out of Obama & the Pentagon too.

In truth, we have to take all our intelligence about what ISIS is, what it’s doing, & what kind of threat it is from media accounts based on Pentagon & Kremlin press releases. That’s as reliable as a Chinese fortune cookie. This is why the voices of reliable Syrian activists are so important.

But we needn’t be scholars on Syria; we needn’t agree on the political character of Assad or of ISIS. We only need organize ourselves to re-build the international antiwar movement to oppose any military intervention into Syria by any country & at the same time demand Assad stop bombing his own people.

This small boy is awaiting treatment for shrapnel injuries in a makeshift hospital in Douma, an area near Damascus which Assad warplanes have been bombing for several months because it’s a stronghold of US-backed militias. We’ve seen months of pictures exactly like this. This is why 10 million have chosen to flee.

No war in Syria! Stop the bombing!

(Photo by Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images)

The unsavory alliance of Mark Zuckerberg & Narendra Modi

Zuckerberg and Modi

Not to tempt fate, but since Facebook gave so many of us an adrenalin rush by closing us out for an hour, I post this photo from Mark Zuckerberg’s FB wall: it’s him & India’s fascist prime minister Narendra Modi.

It’s not just a case of you lay down with dogs you wake up with fleas. It’s a case of you hang out with Modi your Facebook members wake up with surveillance operatives hanging on their every word. Actually Modi’s regime closed down social networking sites in Kashmir over the religious holiday last week. They were probably discussing how to collaborate on that.

Oh well, the FBI and Mossad already have that covered. What are you gonna do? Stop exercising free speech? No! You use FB to campaign for it.

(Photo stolen from MZ’s wall)

Israeli police & settler violence at Al-Aqsa continues

There are reports that Israeli soldiers are using rubber-coated metal bullets, stun grenades, pepper & tear gas against Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque & in the adjacent city area. Several have been wounded.

There are also videos of thuggish Israeli settlers physically threatening Palestinian women–storm trooper style–as the settlers continue to try to force their way into the Noble Sanctuary.

Build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Demand no aid of any kind of apartheid Israel.

Leading Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi on U.S. speaking tour

Bassem Tamimi (Reuters) Sept 28 2015

Bassem Tamimi (on the top left in the green shirt) is a leading Palestinian activist–along with the rest of his extended family engaged in weekly protests against Israeli settlements & the military occupation in the West Bank town of Nabi Selah. He’s been arrested by Israeli soldiers numerous times. His cousin Mustafa Tamimi was killed in a gruesome incident in 2011 when he was hit by an Israeli grenade & his brother-in-law was shot & killed in 2012 by Israeli soldiers.

The memorable incident in this photo is an Israeli soldier brutalizing his young son while he, his daughter Ahed (known to many for her defiance against Israeli soldiers), wife Nariman, & others come to the boy’s defense.

He is presently on a speaking tour of the US so many can get an opportunity to hear a powerful voice of the Palestinian struggle.

The link is the schedule of his speaking engagements in the US. He’s presently in the Bay area of California but will proceed to Albuquerque, NM; Boston, Massachusetts; Florida; & Washington, DC.

(Photo from Reuters)…

The redoubtable courage of Mexican protesters

Ayotzinapa protest in Mexico (Yuri Cortez:AFP:Getty Images) Sept 28 2015

There have been a reported 25,000 people disappeared in Mexico in the past decade which the government attributes to the drug cartels. Of course the criminal cartels are integrated into Mexican capitalism & indistinguishable from each other—two flanks of the same rotting system bankrolled & armed by the Pentagon cartel in the US.

Teachers in Mexico have been among the most militant activists & many have had to flee to the US as undocumented workers to escape assassination & disappearance. It’s no accident that the Mexican military, which has 60,000 soldiers deployed along with paramilitary thugs, targeted student teachers when they disappeared 43 activists on September 26th 2014. These protesters are student teachers from Ayotzinapa teachers college in Guerrero state facing off against riot police to protest the disappearance of their 43 classmates.

So many become overwhelmed by the scope of repression & violence in the world & declare the human race a failure rather than see that capitalism has failed human beings. We only need look to these student teachers defying repression & terror—or to the stone-throwers of Kashmir defying the brutal Indian occupation, the Palestinians standing against Israeli terrorism, or Black activists against US terrorism in their communities. They are the hope of the future. If the terrorized & oppressed have not given up on justice, neither can we.

(Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

Extreme distress growing among beleaguered refugees

Distressed Syrian boy (Manu Brabo:AP) Sept 28  2015

There’s an important change in photojournalist documentation of the refugee crisis in the eastern Mediterranean. There are now frequent photos of refugees in extreme distress. That would be expected on the Hungarian or Croatian borders where they are being violently assaulted by border guards & denied entrance–at a point in their journey when their psychic energies & resources must be completely drained. This poor little guy is with his family in Tovarnik, Croatia, trying to board a train to northern Europe.

But we’re now seeing photo after photo of distressed refugees in the Aegean leg of the trip traveling mostly in dinghies from Turkey to the Greek islands. Many are swimming to shore from overcrowded or disabled dinghies, are weeping & fainting when they land, some are in apparent shock. More alarmingly, there are more frequent reports of plastic dinghies sinking & refugees drowning.

Media reporting on the crisis is so half-assed that one can’t tell if the situation is worsening dramatically. But the increasing drowning rate along with reports on CBS news that Turkish & suspected Greek coast guard boats are harassing & disabling the dinghies would suggest refugees are more endangered than before & need active solidarity more than ever.

Bernie Sanders expressed opposition to immigration & open borders because it threatened the nation-state. Interesting objection because the European Union is a failed experiment that tried to overcome the limits of the nation-state in the interests of capitalism. It’s apparently working out well for some of the German banks but it’s proving a disaster for working people & proving itself barbaric & xenophobic when it comes to the refugee crisis.

Of course European governments are overwhelmed with thousands of refugees who need housing & social services–especially when they’re operating under austerity policies & can’t provide them for their own citizens. Perhaps it’s time working people decided the nation-state isn’t working for us, ally ourselves with refugees, & come up with a social structure that can serve human needs.

The “gray out” of news on the crisis of African refugees from Libya to Italy continues except for reports that drownings continue. Still no word what the hell those 26 European navies are doing out there.

(Photo by Manu Brabo/AP)