The crisis of Palestinian solidarity over the war in Syria

The Syrian war has thrown not only antiwar forces for a loop but also the Palestinian solidarity movement. The disarray comes during a period of military crises & the weak antiwar movement is in no condition to unite around even a minimum program of action. Palestinian solidarity activists are divided, with some cheering Assad as a champion of the people when nearly 500 Palestinians have been tortured to death in his gulag & hundreds of others are political prisoners.

Some Palestinian supporters have disgraced the movement with Islamophobic rubbish about US-backed “head-chopping, heart-eating rapist jihadists”; some by accusing civilians being bombed by Assad & Russia of using their children as human shields; some with attacks on White Helmet rescue workers as nefarious operatives; & some with anti-Semitic claims that the war is initiated & all about Israel rather than about Assad’s dictatorship.

Many Palestinians have bristled at this outrageous rubbish & have blogged, twittered, & written no-nonsense rebuttals denouncing these attempts to put them at odds with their Syrian brothers & sisters under siege. This article by Sharif Nashashibi is part of that campaign & takes the issue on head-first without equivocation.

It’s a toss-up what will be the most unbearable: four years of smarmy Bill Clinton or four years of those horrible Trump kids. I’m thinking of becoming a cloistered nun till it’s over.

Westernism, not Islamic fundamentalism, the greatest threat to civilization

Calais Jungle- refugee nex to tent  (AP Photo:Emilio Morenatti) Oct 26 2016

A refugee watching as the “Jungle” refugee camp at Calais is dismantled & refugees are bussed to what are glorified concentration camps to await deportation, many of them back to war zones..

So it turns out Islamic fundamentalism does not present the greatest threat to civilization. Westernism–the ideology of might makes right, of scorched earth military policy & wars & occupations that go on for decades–has proven much more deadly & catastrophic.

Since 9/11, Westernism, engineered by the US & Europe, has killed & maimed millions of people in the Middle East, none of whom had a damn thing to do with the attacks in New York. The millions of refugees fleeing war are treated as the terrorists & denied asylum.

What a con. What monstrous crimes.

We demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of US-NATO out of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen; Russia & Iran out of Syria. End the bombing of cities & civilians.

Immigration is a human right. Open the damn borders.

(Photo by Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Who is the authoritative voice on Syria? Yassin Al-Haj Saleh or Vanessa Beeley


There’s no minimizing how complex & difficult it is to understand the war in Syria. That’s particularly true for those who live outside the Middle East & know almost nothing, or only fabrications, about the politics of regimes involved in the war. Racism toward Arabs in literature, film, & propaganda means most of us are handicapped from the get-go so who we look to for analysis is of the essence.

The current of progressives coalescing in the Hands Off Syria Campaign represent, not solely but in their majority, activists from the Stalinist & libertarian traditions. Vanessa Beeley, a libertarian, is associated with that current. When the US Peace Council traveled to Syria to meet & pledge fealty to Assad, they reported that their guides in Syria were Eva Bartlett & Beeley, both pro-Assad journalists. Writings by Beeley about Syria are circulated widely by members of the Hands Off Syria coalition & she is more & more frequently interviewed by Russian, Iranian, & libertarian media as an authority on Syria.

Beeley’s analytical repertoire is quite limited: Assad is not a dictator; there never was a popular uprising against him in 2011; Russia & Syria get blamed for bombing civilians when it is US-backed “jihadists” who are responsible. Her rabid focus now is vilifying White Helmet rescue workers pulling civilians out of bombed out buildings as nefarious operatives & on exposing what she calls the “Omran Deception”–that the little boy rescued from a building bombed by Russia was nothing but a staged propaganda event, which is the same position held by Assad.

There is little evidence Eva Bartlett has experience or credentials as an authority on Syria or on anything. The fact that she & Beeley have free access to enter & travel in Syria is significant because even reporters from major media have limited access. But of course, none of them are as ardently pro-Assad as Bartlett & Beeley or are delivering antiwar activists to Assad’s defense.

Who is Vanessa Beeley & how has she achieved such political status when her experience in the Middle East, by her own admission, only goes back to 2012? Previous to that she was working in sales for firms in the UK. Around 2012, she began volunteer work with a Palestinian group, began blogging & identifying herself as an independent researcher “focused on Egypt & Gaza, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq & Iran.” In four years, she went from sales to being an expert analyst of almost the entire Middle East?

Beeley doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that her father is Harold Beeley, a British career diplomat in several Middle East countries who began his career in 1946 as part of the joint UK-US Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine, which recommended partition & the immigration of 100,000 Jews to Palestine. He became the closest adviser to Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin who administered the end of British colonial rule over Palestine & facilitated the creation of the state of Israel.

One doesn’t impugn the authority of someone because their father played a reactionary, colonial role in the Middle East. But his role also doesn’t recommend her as an authority on the subject. What does she think of the mess he administered & of his involvement in the dispossession of Palestinians & violent creation of Israel?

What makes her an authority on Syrian politics when she doesn’t appear to have any experience at all outside of that independent research? Did her father’s stature give her entry to the inner circles of Assad? How can she claim there was no 2011 popular uprising against Assad when Syrians & Palestinians who were there testify otherwise? What makes the voice of a European rookie more compelling than the experienced voices of the Syrian revolution?

This article is an interview by Syrian activist Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, whose political experience goes back to the repressive regime of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father. He served 16 years as a political prisoner & after his release was an active part of the 2011 uprising. He now lives in exile in Turkey, like thousands of other Syrian activists against Assad’s dictatorship.

This blog is a collection of his political writings & antiwar activists who want to understand the character of the Assad regime, the 2011 uprising, & fundamentalist extremism are advised to study them & reject the pretentious, false credentials & Islamophobic claims of Vanessa Beeleyhttp://:

The interview:

A fellow I’ve known in politics since the 70s is one of those “progressives” who think Assad & Russia are fighting a righteous campaign against US-backed “jihadists” when they bomb cities & civilians.

He’s one of those who considers Russian-owned Sputnik News alternative media & it seems to have become his primary source of analysis. After I ridiculed Russian government media as alternative media, he unfriended me. That’s a good thing–because we’re not headed down the same road. How do antiwar activists degenerate into promoting militarism & carpet bombing as freedom struggle?

Petition against North Dakota governor emergency order to militarily enforce land grab

The North Dakota governor issued an emergency order to bring in out-of-state law enforcement to militarily counter the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe & supporters trying to stop the land grab & construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across tribal lands.

This land grab & destruction of environment are the neoliberal economic policies devastating countries around the world & being fought almost single-handedly by indigenous peoples–they began in Mexico, prevail in Latin America, Africa, North America, & South Asia.

This link includes an explanation of the measures the North Dakota governor is employing in its occupation:

Monica King has initiated this White House petition against the governor’s abuse of power. Please take a moment to sign & share it because 100,000 signatures must be raised by November 25th:

Khurram Parvez & the international campaign against forcible disappearance

Argentine disappeared (Photo- Natacha Pisarenko:AP) Oct 26 2016

It will be six weeks tomorrow since Khurram Parvez was arrested in Srinagar & jailed indefinitely under India’s Public Safety Act. The Indian government is going to try to wait us out, hoping we abandon any notion that an international defense campaign will influence them & get him out of jail.

They’ve been using live ammo, tear gas & sound grenades, pellet guns, night home invasions & mass arrests for 110 days–nearly four months–& that has not daunted the spirit of Kashmiri Intifada. So why in the hell would India think activists could ever forget Khurram Parvez & the important role he plays as head of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society which investigates human rights crimes including disappearances & defends the victims?

His political importance goes way beyond Kashmir. For decades, hundreds of thousands of people have been disappeared under repressive regimes all over the world. Most of those countries have active organizations representing the disappeared & their grieving families but political organizing around this issue has never been given the international prominence & coordination it demands.

In his work as chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Khurram initiated coordination between organizations of the disappeared throughout South Asia as well as Latin America. That campaign would put the spotlight on this monstrous crime where families can never be reconciled with the grief & torment until there is justice.

This photo is Angela “Lita” Boitano, president of “Families of the Disappeared & Detained for Political Reasons in Argentina. The badges are her son Miquel Angel & daughter Adrian Silvia, both among the estimated 30,000 disappeared during Argentina’s dirty war between 1974 & 1983. The work of Khurram & AFAD would strengthen the work of such groups & pressure these governments to come clean & to end the practice of disappearance. That’s how important his work & defense are.

Demanding the immediate, unconditional release of Khurram Parvez is as important to all of us as it is to Kashmiris. You can begin by liking & sharing his FB defense campaign page:


(Photo by Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Kashmir solidarity protest in New Zealand on October 30th

International solidarity with Kashmiris against occupation & for self-determination is on the move. This is day 110 of the murderous military siege so active solidarity is of the essence.

This event is in New Zealand on Sunday, October 30th. If you live in the region, show up, & if you don’t live there but have friends in New Zealand, please pass this information on to them.