Israel sentences 14-year-old stabbing victim to 12 years in its gulag for Palestinians

Ahmad Manasra Nov 8 2016
Remember this boy named Ahmad Manasrah from October 2015? He was 13-years-old then & had been shot several times by an Israeli settler. As he writhed in pain on the ground, he was taunted as the “son of a whore” & soldiers were egged on to shoot him to death.

This was during the Israeli hysteria about a “stabbing Intifada” to cover a pogrom of violence against Palestinian youth & as a pretext to execute them.

Yesterday, an Israeli court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for a stabbing attempt. There’s going to have to be an international campaign in his defense.

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Slavoj Zizek endorses Trump

Trump and Zizek

Slavoj Zizek, the rock star theoretician called “the Elvis of philosophers” for a degenerating left just endorsed Trump. That’s because they share more than a runny nose & sniffles problem.

Let me strut a bit here: I’m no clairvoyant & don’t have advanced academic credentials, but the first time I read his rubbish & watched him lecture on YouTube, I considered him an intellectual buffoon, a poseur, a sniveling grandstander who understood little & cared less about the struggles of working people. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand the respect he garnered or the proliferation of study groups & fan clubs for this blowhard.

After his deplorable comments about refugees pouring into Europe from Syria & other war zones being a threat because “there are among refugees also terrorists, rapists, criminals,” one would think he had finally exposed himself not as “the most dangerous philosopher in the West” but as intellectual dry rot, as a lowlife xenophobe & white supremacist. Despite this, he was still allowed to speak at the Left Forum in NYC last May. Would David Duke or Donald Trump who think the same as Zizek be allowed to speak at the Left Forum?

As a woman socialist, I’m accustomed to men not hearing my voice, to tuning the voices of women right out, to being shunned for not deferring or simply disagreeing on issues like the Oslo Accords, on antiwar perspectives & other questions. But a blowhard like Zizek can talk racist, supremacist trash & be published & paid honoraria as a theoretician? Count me out of that left. “Elvis” doesn’t have to leave the building. I’m out of there.

Rally in Dublin against Russian bombing of civilians in Aleppo

Nov 2016 Dublin protest ISSM Nov 8 2016

Last Saturday, November 5th, the Irish Syria Solidarity Movement (ISSM) organized a rally in Dublin outside the Russian embassy to protest Russian bombing of civilians in Aleppo with placards reading “Stop your barbarism in Aleppo, Putin” & “Putin Stop Bombs on Babies.” TASS & Russia Today (RT), both wholly owned by the Russian government, reported the event.

For those who eschew mainstream media as dishonest, RT (Russian mainstream media) actually gave a fairly honest account of the rally. They reported that ISSM “recognizes the legitimacy of the popular Syrian uprising that began in March 2011” & “deplores the brutal & savage repression of the uprising by the Assad family oligarchy.”

RT reported that Nikolay Ivanov, the Minister-Counsellor at the Russian embassy–apparently forgetting he wasn’t in Russia where protests are restricted–called Dublin police on the “illegal” protest. He told RT in an interview that Russian military intervention in Syria was at the invite of Assad & that protesters outside were “unaware about the real situation in Syria” because they were demanding Russian warplanes stop bombing civilians in Aleppo.

RT also got a political hack from the Russian parliament to denounce the Dublin rally as “belated, hypocritical, pointless, & as such, immoral.” Russian working people are apparently not convinced by propaganda in Russian mainstream media because a recent poll shows that nearly 50-percent are afraid the conflict over Russia’s role in Syria could lead to a third world war. That is the political judgement of anyone watching Armageddon unfold in Syria.

Without coverage in Russian media, the small rally might have gone unnoticed. It’s significant that Russia felt threatened enough by a rally of less than a hundred people to denounce it. Bigger antiwar protests in the US are routinely ignored by US media.

The disturbing aspect of the Russian coverage is that discombobulated antiwar activists sucked into the pro-Assad, pro-Russian bombing perspective posted the articles to support Russia. Some even objected that Irish protesters did not denounce the US. To the orientalist mind, only US military power matters so they are blinded to the complexities & realities of war in Syria. They don’t even understand what the hell the US is doing in Syria.

So let us repeat that the only principled antiwar position is to call for the immediate cessation of Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians; to demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Syria (& of course that means the US, Russia, Iran, et al), including by air, land, & sea, overt & covert, special forces, mercenaries, & foreign paramilitary operatives.

If your “antiwar” position supports US, Russian, or Syrian bombing of civilians in Syria, you have crossed the line to militarism & should stop kidding yourself that you stand against war if you only protest those conducted by the US or only those conducted by Russia.

War is an international issue. It’s not “understandable,” as some claim that US activists only concern themselves with US interventions. That’s a new theory & a boneheaded one being floated by Assad supporters to avoid condemnation of Russian bombing. People around the world have always protested US wars so what makes misguided US activists think they only need protest US intervention?

(Photo of November 5th Dublin rally from FB wall of Irish Syria Solidarity Movement)

The stresses of the 2016 elections on civility

A woman I’ve known many years through protests, mostly for immigration & women’s rights, feigned umbrage at my quip about medicating to get over the elections. She accused me of insensitivity & racist indifference to Mexican-Americans, encouraging heroin use, & expressing white privilege.

When I privately asked her to knock off the baiting, she insisted I was trying to silence the voice of the oppressed & continued to berate me as a “phony white racist.” She finished by saying she doesn’t understand half of what I write because she’s just trying to survive & *ain’t worried about the world over.”

This was supposed to bring me to my knees but it didn’t make any sense & is just garden-variety baiting. Addiction affects most people in one way or another; drug & alcohol addiction are a national crisis in this country among every demographic, including within my family. I was not silencing the oppressed but refusing to tolerate her insults. I’m also trying to survive & on a fixed income & still haven’t gone stupid about the suffering of people in other countries, especially those in countries where the US is conducting racist wars.

Her insults on my post (which I deleted) & her continuing private insults had nothing to do with racism or drug abuse. It was all about her committed support to the Democratic Party & Clinton. She still supports Obama despite his betrayal & massive deportation rates of undocumented immigrants. Sometimes you can intimidate people with baiting. But not the ones who can see right through it.

Bob Schieffer on disaster of US 2016 election

The senior news commentator Bob Schieffer, with uncustomary frankness, repeatedly excoriates the lowbrow character of this election campaign, blaming both candidates.

He doesn’t pull his punches but frankly says this campaign has demeaned the presidency & US electoral process in a way that will deeply & negatively impact youth.

Good. It’s about time the character of US democracy stood exposed.

Protests in Kunduz, Afghanistan against US bombing of civilians

Kunduz Afghanistan protest vs US airstrike (Nov 6 2016

Last Thursday in the northern province of Kunduz, Afghanistan, US bombers in repeated night airstrikes, killed 32 civilians, including women, children, & infants, sleeping in their homes & injured 25 others. Those are the official figures but civilians in Kunduz claim the deaths & injuries are much higher.

The US claimed the airstrikes were to support a joint US & Afghan ground operation hunting down two senior Taliban commanders. Afghan commandos descending from helicopters came under fire & that’s when the US deployed bombers.

They used a similar story in October 2015 when US bombers destroyed a trauma hospital in Kunduz operated by MSF/Doctors Without Borders, killing 42 people & injuring 30 others. MSF said all warring parties were notified of the hospital’s location & that the airstrike was a deliberate war crime. The US military initially said the airstrike was to support US ground troops but later tried to blame the Afghan military.

This is a rare glimpse into the barbaric character of US military operations in Afghanistan–about which there is an almost total news blackout: the bombing of hospitals & residential areas with reckless & racist contempt for human life. That is what Afghans have lived with for over 15 years.

There were protests in Kunduz as outraged & grieving survivors carried the caskets of their beloved to the governor’s office. Some chanted “Death to America” & “Death to President Ghani.”

We stand with the people of Kunduz in condemning the US government for its murderous occupation & countless war crimes against the people of Afghanistan. The greatest political failing of this period is the weakness of international antiwar forces demanding the end of this monstrous war.

US out of Afghanistan.

Vote Mary Scully for President

Today the election ordeal will be over. It was historic in so many ways–none of them edifying. We now know the republic is in more trouble than we ever imagined.

Whoever wins, our work remains the same: first & foremost, to stand against US militarism & all foreign military intervention into other countries; to stand with the Black community; with undocumented immigrants; for Indian sovereignty in North Dakota; & for women’s reproductive rights; to stand with the oppressed & persecuted as our own wherever they struggle for justice.

I had hoped to run a more vigorous campaign but that was hard to do without a campaign apparatus. That’s okay because I have been blessed throughout this campaign with the activists I have met, particularly Kashmiris & Rohingya who are involved in momentous struggles against occupation & genocide.

I have three votes that I know of & hope to have some more write-ins tomorrow. It was never about winning the office. What the hell would I do as president of the US? It was about presenting socialist ideas & the conviction that the iron law of social transformation is “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Search & rescue in Mediterranean left to NGOs

Rescued refugee and baby:Libya (Andreas Solaro:AFP:Getty Images) Nove 4 2016

From 1988 until today, it is estimated nearly 27,000 refugees have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. There were no organized search & rescue operations until October 2013 when the Italian coast guard initiated Mare Nostrum—although Mare Nostrum was as much border patrol as search & rescue. That year there were nearly 3,300 drownings.

Mare Nostrum ended after one year in October 2014 because Italy was no longer willing to sustain the cost alone. In November 2014, the European Union launched the Frontex Operation Triton & in April 2015 Operation Sophia (also called European Union Naval Force Mediterranean). Neither of these naval & air operations involving several European fleets engage in search & rescue but only in surveillance & deterrence of immigration. They purposely do not operate within Libyan waters where many of the boats & dinghies capsize & rescue operations are required. There are also Frontex & NATO fleets in the Aegean Sea to deter refugee flight from Turkey to Greece.

All sorts of military & commercial vessels travel through the Mediterranean & according to maritime law are required to rescue any they see in danger. The maritime Rescue & Coordination Centre in Rome, along with Frontex, has the Mediterranean under constant surveillance & can order a ship to rescue those who are drowning. In 2014, the International Chamber of Shipping claimed 40,000 refugees were rescued by commercial vessels but there is no independent corroboration of that & quite frankly, it’s not that believable.

The job of search & rescue has been left entirely to NGOs. The most prominent & extensive operation is Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) which launched on August 2014 & is headquartered on Malta. It was started by Christopher & Regina Catrambone who became millionaires selling insurance to those operating in war zones. They were on a vacation cruise in the Mediterranean & passed near Lampedusa just after a shipwreck where 700 refugees had drowned.

The Catrambones were horrified that as they leisure cruised across the sea, thousands were drowning. They decided to launch MOAS, now the primary search & rescue agency in the Mediterranean. Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) initially partnered with MOAS to provide medical aid on the rescue ship but later launched two of its own rescue vessels. NGOs in other countries including Greece, Norway, Spain, & Germany do not yet have regular operations but run them periodically. MOAS is now a high-tech operation with drones for surveillance & patrolling, medical operations on board, & even night rescues.

Since it is estimated there are 500,000 refugees waiting in Libya to cross, rescue operations are inadequate to the task. We know that because this year has the highest drowning rate on record. NGOs wrestle with the issue of taking over search & rescue operations versus using resources to campaign for the EU to stop impeding immigration & start massive rescue operations. What is required to change this horrific situation is an international clamor for refugee & immigrant rights.

Earlier this year, MOAS launched a South East Asia mission in the Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea & adjacent waters to respond to the crisis of Rohingya & Bangladeshi refugees being stranded at sea. No other agency or government has done one thing to address that major human rights disaster. On March 3rd, after several months of negotiations with human rights groups & governments in the region (particularly Thailand), they moved their rescue ship into the Andaman Sea to begin operations.

The initial mission was exploratory & intended to last four weeks. It was dependent on coordination with the Thai military junta & governments of Malaysia & Indonesia. After the Thai military refused to release two surveillance & patrol drones necessary to the operation, MOAS was forced to scrub the operation after only two weeks. In an email today, MOAS explained that they don’t intend to resume operations there any time soon. So now we know where the Thai military regime stands on the question of Rohingya genocide: comrades-in-arms with the Myanmar junta executing the genocide.

If anyone is looking for a place to contribute aid for refugees, MOAS & Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) are always soliciting donations. You can donate through their websites:

MSF/Doctors Without Borders:

This young mother & her child were rescued off the Libyan coast just a few days ago.

(Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)