Black actors boycott Oscar awards show because no Black actors nominated: another lily-white red carpet event

As a person who detests how art is debased by constant award shows that turn art into competitive sports like the Kentucky Derby, I must admit I’m delighted at the controversy emerging around the Oscar film awards this year. Black actors are publicly announcing a boycott of the red carpet event because 96 percent of voting academy members are white & male & didn’t nominate even one Black actor out of several noteworthy performances.

Hopefully they’ll do more than just stay away & will do some necessary political campaigning to expose the racism of Hollywood films. If we’re lucky, they’ll have a go at the outrageous misogyny too.

Israel’s sneaky approach to countering solidarity between Palestinians & US Black activists

Parkour in Gaza (Mohammed Salem:Reuters) Jan 18 2016

The growing bonds of solidarity between Palestinians & US Black activists that emerged in Ferguson after the murder of Michael Brown is a serious concern to Israel & its supporters–most importantly because it exposes the racist fault lines of Zionism & challenges the apartheid policies of Israel. This turn of events is not one Israel can allow to go unchallenged–& it has not.

Jews in the US have historically played an important role in social justice–including building unions to fighting for civil rights & they did so because of their own history of persecution & pogroms. Many claim such progressive politics are based on “Jewish values” but that’s an exceptionalist claim since all religions teach moral high-ground. (Delivering on it is another story.) The colonial formation of Israel at the expense of Palestinians has undermined that historic role & many liberal Jews now promote the racist & exclusionary ideology of Zionism which in its foundations rejected the broader struggle against racism & colonialism & replaced solidarity with rightwing nationalism. It can no longer claim affinity with civil rights.

In May 2015, a group of rabbis associated with the Jewish Federation, a leading player in the US Zionist movement, organized buses, issued public statements, & posed for photo ops at protests in Baltimore calling for justice for Freddie Gray, the Black man who died in police custody. The group was led by Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro whose FB profile picture includes a prominent Israeli flag to show his commitment. Is it conceivable the good rabbi is sincere about civil rights in the US but silent about racist discrimination & violence against the Ethiopian community in Tel Aviv? Does he give Israel a special dispensation for racist assaults on Ethiopians & for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians? Because in politics you can’t have it both ways.

The cultural boycott of Israel is an essential element in the BDS campaign because Israel consciously uses musicians & athletes to legitimize colonialism & render a favorable image to Israeli apartheid. Prevailing on performers to honor BDS & refuse to perform in Israel is a primary way most of us can stand with Palestinians.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day & media is saturated with the touching tribute paid him in Washington, DC by two male singing groups–the Maccabeats, a group of ardent Zionists & promoters of Israel, & Naturally 7, a Black group based in NYC. The two groups created a video tribute & this morning held a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where MLK delivered his “I have a dream” speech in 1963.

It’s entirely possible the Maccabeats feel strongly about Black civil rights in this country. But once again, you can’t have it both ways. In 2013, the Maccabeats made a music video called “Aliyah to Israel” romanticizing Jewish colonialism & in 2014 produced a video medley of songs called “Home” about Israel. What about the Palestinians? The Maccabeats have opened concerts for Matisyahu, the American Zionist singer who publicly supported the Israeli commando assault on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian flotilla to Gaza in 2010 (where nine activists were killed) & has remained silent on carpet bombing in Gaza. There isn’t a public peep out of the lot of them about the persecution of Ethiopians in Israel or against the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

They sing pretty but that’s not good enough when you’re croaking for apartheid. Their tributes to MLK are likely part of Israel’s campaign to glorify Israeli colonialism, counter solidarity between Palestinians & Black activists, & have precious little to do with Black civil rights in this country. Because it can never be said often enough: you can’t have it both ways in politics & few are stupid enough to think you can.

This is a Palestinian teen in Gaza practicing his Parkour skills midst the ruin of the Shejaia neighborhood in Gaza City caused by Israeli carpet bombing in 2014. That is the cost of Aliyah.

Build the cultural & economic boycott of Israeli apartheid. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729.

(Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

The Iran hostage swap & the disappearance of CIA agent Robert Levinson

The Iran hostage swap is all over the news: five Americans arrested in Iran in separate cases were just released in return for unspecified concessions from the US. Apparently media hasn’t thought to interrogate that except to point out that it’s a feather in Obama’s cap.

There are however bitter remonstrances that CIA agent Robert Levinson was not included in the deal. He disappeared in 2007 from Kish, the Iranian resort island in the Persian Gulf. There is some evidence coming from the US government (with ulterior motives for the claim) that he was picked up by Iranian intelligence agents. Maybe he was; maybe he wasn’t. There are a lot of people in Iran with a brief against the CIA for its operations in the country going back to the 1953 coup it engineered.

Certainly one of the most monstrous features of CIA operations in Iran was their relationship to SAVAK, the Shah of Iran’s secret police. SAVAK operated from 1957 to 1979 when it was dissolved by the Iranian Revolution that ran the Shah out of the country. It was considered the “most hated & feared institution” in Iran because of its torture & execution practices for dissidents–practices taught to SAVAK by the CIA.

No one who lived through that era can ever forget the descriptions of what SAVAK did to dissidents–including torturing children in front of their parents. One political journal stopped describing those practices since it traumatized & demoralized readers to know the details of such evil.

More’s the pity that Levinson has disappeared. He should never have been there in the first place. Whatever happened to him, it’s still a long shot away from justice.

Scotland burned Donald Trump in effigy in 2012: way to go Scotland!

Effigy of Trump Jan 18 2016

575 thousand people have signed a petition to ban Trump from entering the UK. He can’t be banned from the US because of citizen rights but a committee has formed to investigate alleged ancestry from trolls in the Black Forest which could invalidate his residence anywhere on planet Earth. Through clever morphing the Betty Windsor clan was able to broker that same ancestry into a dynasty but we can nip that Trump thing in the bud. The petition is a promising start to disgracing another fascist troll.

Re-posting this from April 2012 when Trump was fighting Scotland over wind farms to set up golf resorts. They burned his effigy. Way to go Scotland!

Now here’s a story just chock full of belly laughs because it involves one of the biggest buffoons on the planet: Mr. Donald Trump. Followed by his entourage of sycophants, our man stormed into the Scottish Parliament yesterday to testify to the committee on renewable energy against a wind farm of 11 turbines to be built offshore near a £750m golf resort Trump is having built in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Now we all know full well why he wouldn’t want wind anywhere near that coif of his but the main objections he voiced were aesthetic & xenophobic: wind turbines he pouted, are “horrendous”, “monsters”, & made in China. He responded to questions in the bullying & omniscient style for which he is regrettably known since he certainly isn’t known for his intelligence, wit, or insight. (We understand he watches Charlton Heston reruns to channel Moses but only comes off like a schoolyard bully.)

It’s difficult to make politicians look intelligent but in contrast to our man, the Scottish ministers disported themselves splendidly & must have had a barrel of laughs doing it. When asked what evidence he had to prove his assertion that wind farms destroyed tourism, he responded, “I am the evidence”, & when told that most Scots polled favored wind farms, he answered no one knows more about polls than him, that he knows more about the effects of turbines than any expert, & that he’s also an expert on tourism with “many, many awards” to his name (probably from tourist boards & chambers of commerce hoping to snare his bucks).

Trump claims he had a sweetheart deal with a Scottish politician who he’s now had a falling out with–testifying at once to the corruption & good sense of that politician. He ended his vituperations threatening to pull out of the deal & move his operation to Ireland if the Scottish Parliament doesn’t get cowed by his wrath. (Ireland, you better hope our man gets his way or you’ll have to contend with all this too.)

Two groups of protestors greeted Trump outside the Parliament: the first was assembled entrepreneurs hoping for concessions at the golf resort. The other were environmentalists holding up this effigy & a sign saying, “Scotland wants wind-power, NOT an old wind bag.”

(Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell)