Bernie Sanders’ equivocations on Israel catching up with his supporters


Mary Scully's photo.


Bernie Sanders is getting caught in his contradictions on the issue of Israel–only showing once again that you can’t play both sides of the street when it comes to apartheid & colonialism. Many Palestinian supporters will willing to let him try but Israel & its Zionist acolytes would have no part of his equivocations.

A few days ago the Sanders campaign announced they had hired Simone Zimmerman, a J Street activist, as the Jewish outreach director. J Street is a pro-Israel group that supports a bantustate solution for Palestinians & actively opposes BDS. It’s essentially the AIPAC of liberal Zionism. They don’t like the excesses of the Israeli government–like carpet bombing of Gaza–but are in full accord with a Jewish-only state & with the entire colonial project of Zionism which necessitates ethnic cleansing.

Zimmerman is a left Zionist of the J Street tradition who opposes Israel’s occupation & actively opposed the carnage in Gaza in 2014. She is also untypically willing to engage in debate with BDS activists. So if Sanders is going to play both sides of the street to get the nomination, Zimmerman is a good person to have on staff.

But only two days after her appointment was announced, Zimmerman was suspended by the Sanders campaign because the Washington Free Beacon, a sketchy news website, unearthed a FB post she wrote in March 2015 that was critical of Netanyahu. She wrote: “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole. He is the embodiment of the ugliest national hubris & tone-deafness towards the international community….Fuck you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world.” She went on to say he “sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people.” She later edited out a few of the expletives & vulgarities though it wasn’t those which offended Zionists but her critical views of Bibi-ass.

The appointment of Zimmerman brought out the big guns of the US Zionist establishment, including Abe Foxman, formerly a hot shot in the Anti-Defamation League, & Ronald S. Lauder, head of the Estee Lauder cosmetic company (a target of BDS) & president of the World Jewish Congress (one of the biggest & most influential Zionist groups in the world)–who both called on Sanders to fire her.

This fiasco illustrates the Catch-22 of lesser evil politics. As the crisis of modern capitalism deepens & broadens, as the crisis of leadership becomes more acute for the ruling elite & more importantly for working people, it isn’t possible to play both sides of the street if you want to serve justice & social transformation. Principled, uncompromising politics are required for that.

Photo is Sanders trying to sweat out his contradictions.

(Photo from AP)

The Zionist politics of Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone & Shimon Peres in 2006 (Maan News.Moti Milrod)

Sharon Stone is the latest celebrity to cancel a film project in Mississippi because of the state’s recently passed anti-LGBT law. Consistency appears to be as big a challenge for her in politics as it is in acting since for years she has flaunted her relationship with apartheid Israel.

She grandstands frequent visits to Israel under the guise of humanitarianism, visiting children in hospitals & sitting on panels with Robert De Niro & other know-nothings to discuss peace in the Middle East. To show her sophisticated grasp of the issues of colonialism, apartheid, & ethnic cleansing, she said: “I look at the absence of peace as a fatal disease. If we get into the deep-rooted history of the conflict, we’ll never see peace, & that’s fatal.” Theoretically very akin to Clinton’s, “Hamas provokes Israel. They often pretend to have people in civilian garb acting as though they are civilians who are Hamas fighters.”

Stone is a Buddhist (of sorts) but her 13-year-old son conducted his bar mitzva at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. She may feign some sort of emotional attachment to Israel but in most cases you scratch that sentimentality stuff & you find money-grubbing or rightwing commitments. It’s almost an iron law of rotten politics.

Photo is obligatory photo op with Shimon Peres from Stone’s 2006 visit to Israel.

(Photo from Maan News by Moti Milrod)

Local news reported that last year over 3,000 drivers just in the state of Texas were killed by distracted drivers texting or talking on their cells. A friend of mine who is a long-distance trucker told me that, in his observation, almost everyone on the roads, including truckers, are engaged with their phones. When I did a quick check I found that every day in the US over eight people are killed & 1,161 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Recently, I heard of a breathalyzer device connected to the ignition of a car that disables the ignition if a driver is intoxicated. Call me hard-assed, but I think cell phones should also be electronically disabled whilst people are driving.

Refugee/Immigrant right protests in Morocco

Morocco refugee protest (from FB wall of No Borders Morocco) Apr 14 2016

No Borders Morocco protest :Apr 14 2016

There has been a substantial news blackout about refugee movement on the Libya to Italy & Morocco to Spain routes. Both routes have been militarily repressed for nearly a year by Frontex naval operations involving warships from several European countries. The EU really doesn’t want us to know what they’re up to–how they’re intercepting dinghies, how many refugees have drowned, what they’re doing with those they intercept & “rescue.”

What we know from UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates is that last year over 154,000 (about 12,500 a month) arrived in Italy from Libya but this year less than 10,000 (about 3,300 a month) & only 638 refugees from Morocco arrived in Spain. What happened to the rest of them?

The demographics done by UNHCR show that nearly 50 percent of refugees from African countries are men & boys, 34 percent are children (including unaccompanied minors), & 20 percent are women. We also know from Europol that Italian authorities have lost thousands of refugee children after processing them for asylum–very likely handed over to traffickers.

It’s a gruesome story that needs to be investigated & told so that human rights & immigration rights activists can respond.

In my investigations (which are not ready to report), I came across a Moroccan immigration rights group & this protest they organized on February 6th in front of the Spanish embassy in Rabat, Morocco to protest the deadly border policy of the European Union. A year earlier, a planned protest at that embassy site had been criminalized & banned by the police. Four-hundred people, including activists from Moroccan & various sub-Saharan organizations, & refugees attended the protest which included tributes to friends who had died attempting to cross the sea to Europe. The banners & slogans demanded EU, stop the hypocrisy & open the borders; freedom of movement; Frontex ferries for all;

After the protest, they held interviews on radio & television & gathered for a conference where women & men from Morocco, Gambia, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, & other countries discussed immigration rights.

Supporting refugee/immigrant rights means forging international links with groups around the world doing defense work so that coordinated actions can be organized.

Pity is the last thing refugees need. Solidarity is a very different thing than sentimentality & demands an active commitment to human rights.

(Photos are from Feb. 6th refugee rights protest in Rabat from FB wall of No Borders Morocco.)

Khurram Parvez, a leading human rights defender in Kashmir, just posted this press release about the teenage girl in the Handwara sexual assault incident. The human rights coalition he works with was asked by the family to provide legal counsel & other support to the young girl & her father who are being detained in police custody & the family denied access to them.

We await political direction from the coalition to see how we can build international defense.

Urgent appeal for release of minor girl and her father by Handwara Police

Handwara sexual assault and killings

Press Release

14 April 2016

Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society has been approached by the family of the minor girl in the Handwara sexual assault case for legal counsel and other support.

On 12 April 2016, a minor girl (aged 16) from Handwara had, as per reports, accused army personnel of sexual assault. Four persons have been killed to date by armed forces personnel following protests. On the same day, a video was released of the minor girl exonerating the armed forces of sexual assault. The identity of the victim is revealed through this video that appears to have been recorded by the police and then widely circulated by army and Indian media. The family of the girl state that she has been kept in police custody from 12 April to date. Last night, around 1 am, the father of the victim was called to the Handwara police station. He was accompanied by his brother. Since then his whereabouts are not known. The family has been denied access to both the minor girl and her father.

The detention of the minor girl and her father are outside the powers of the State and appears to be an attempt to further pressurize the family to withdraw all allegations against the armed forces. Further, the manner in which the video has been recorded and then circulated is a gross violation of the special protections afforded to minors particularly during investigation of sexual assault cases. The actions of the police and the army would necessarily invite criminal prosecution if investigated.

The family of the victim has appealed for immediate release of the minor girl and the father of the victim and has sought legal assistance. The State under the garb of law and order is ensuring that all access to the family of the victim is denied so as to ensure protection to the armed forces personnel and seek to further distract from the crimes that have been committed – from the sexual assault to the killings. Any suggestion that the State is seeking to “protect”’ the minor girl and family must be rejected in the circumstances of this case and the actions of the police. Any protection, if necessary, must be provided at the residence of the victim and not at the police station.

The minor girl and her father must be immediately released and allowed access to legal counsel. Government of Jammu and Kashmir must allow immediate and unhindered access for the legal counsel team of JKCCS to the victim and her family.

Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society