The importance of the Palestinian struggle against apartheid, ethnic cleansing, colonialism

The attack by Sam Charles Hamad on the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement & his proposal for a bantustate solution for Palestinians has made me think about why the importance of the Palestinian struggle cannot be overstated. When I became involved in solidarity after the 1967 Six-Day War, my teachers were Palestinians, Arab student activists, older Jewish socialists, & activists from Matzpen, the Israeli socialist group (now defunct).

They elaborated the history & political character of Zionism, the history of terrorist war against Palestine, the colonial partition of Palestine, the establishment of Israel as a colonial-settler state, & the role of the US in militarizing Israel. Grounded in that history & theory from uncompromising supporters of Palestine, I have never questioned the just demands of the Palestinian people nor wavered in my commitment to them. But as the socialist movement began to fall apart & move to the right after the Vietnam War ended, there was a noticeable shift to the right on the question of Palestine among activists of my generation. Many became Zionists, opposed & campaigned against BDS, & some came right out & began calling Palestinians terrorists.

To my mind, turning your back or going all equivocal on the Palestinians is a staggering betrayal of the most fundamental principles of international solidarity, as unthinkable as turning one’s back on the Vietnamese during that war or on the Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, Yemenis, Kashmiris today. But of course, it’s of a piece because those who moved to the right & became Zionists also stopped organizing or participating in the antiwar movement.

It could be said that what makes Palestinians so important to Americans is the military role of the US in arming Israel as a fortress against democracy in the Middle East. But to my mind, what makes their struggle so monumental is that in 69 years of colonialism, apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, they have never bent the knee to colonialism & militarism but have fought intransigently against all odds even though vilified as terrorists. Like the Kashmiri struggle, a Palestinian victory against colonialism would alter the relationship of forces around the world to the advantage of the oppressed. Long live Palestinian Intifada.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Palestine. Honor the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729.

On MSNBC, veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell reported on the Afghan girl’s team at the high school robotics competition in Washington, DC. She reported the education of girls as an achievement of the nearly 16-year occupation & carpet bombing of Afghanistan.

It could be said that Islamophobic propaganda first tested the use of feminism to justify that monstrous war & it’s proven an inexhaustible source in the service of war & hate mongering. Feminists must speak out against it in no uncertain terms. War is not a method of liberation but of domination & destruction.

Humans of Occupied Kashmir

Humans of Occupied Kashmir

Torture Tales of Kashmir
(A Must Read)

Qalandar Khatana – A Torture Victim suffered by State Terror

Meet Qalandar Khatana: a shepherd and guide by trade in 1991, living in the village of Kalroos Moori Kothiyan in the north of (Indian held) Kashmir. When I first met him, it was not fear but resignation that I saw in Khatana’s eyes. Resignation over what he had suffered, over the ensuing helplessness, and over never being able to heal from the scars of trauma.

Khatana was among the civilian men caught during the 1990s by the Indian forces, at the peak of government efforts to quell the Kashmiri insurgency. He was accused of being a guide for militants who came from across the border (from what Pakistan refers to as Azad Kashmir). On mere suspicion, he faced third degree torture by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and the infamous Special Task Force (now Special Operations Group) of Police.

Khatana was left crippled for life. He now begs for a living.
Khatana recalled how he was transferred to nine different BSF camps for questioning; in each camp he was tortured afresh. First he was stripped and hung upside down, and then the interrogators took a razor and made tiny cuts all over his body. Bleeding and in pain, he howled for mercy but there was no respite. Salt and chilli powder was applied to his wounds. Wires were then rigged to his body, mainly to the genitalia and the eyelids. He was then electrocuted. Torture was often followed by starvation and ritual humiliation. He was not given any water and instead was urinated upon by his captors. Hungry, he begged for food but none was forthcoming.

Khatana then shows us his legs; scars and rope burn marks are present along with a curious lack of flesh. What happened, I gently probed. “I have no flesh [on my legs],” Khatana replied in a faraway voice, “Because for six months in this one camp, the sentries cut it off and fed it to me. My own flesh. If I refused to eat it, they would beat me mercilessly. How much cruelty is man capable of?”

Shocked and disturbed, I asked him why they subjected him to this kind of brutality. “Because they were getting no answers, because I did not know any of the men I took across the border, let alone their names. What could I tell them? Under extreme torture, I remember shouting out random names, anything … just anything to make the pain stop”. Khatana’s ordeal was far from over; from here he was shifted to Jammu prison — one of the most feared torture centres of the 90s, with plenty of tales of beating and horror entrapped within its walls. The warden in particular was infamous for his cruelty.

“I was again stripped and hung upside down, then came the beating. Iron rods were used to beat me, after a while they cut the rope and I fell to the floor. In pain, I accidentally kicked the warden. This infuriated him further; he screamed at me: ‘How dare you assault me?’ I was in so much pain that, I could not comprehend most of what he was saying.” Pausing, he resumes in a whisper: “Then they cut off my feet. I remember the warden bending down and whispering ‘Now you will never set foot on Pakistani soil again’. Then there was darkness.”

I asked him if any medical treatment was given to him after the amputation “What medical attention? People tell me I only regained consciousness two weeks later. It was hell.” Khatana was then shifted to the army hospital in Badami Bagh, Srinagar where he remained for a few weeks. He was then sent to Kot Balwal prison, where he languished for another four years.

Upon his release, Khatana’s case was taken up by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS), an NGO that is headed by leading advocate and human rights activist Parvez Imroz and others. A subsequent government investigation acquitted him of all charges, and condemned the torture that was inflicted on him. However he was only awarded Rs50,000 in compensation for his ordeal. That paltry sum quickly ran out, and much of it was used for treating his amputated feet which had developed gangrene and other infections. An NGO in Chandigarh paid for artificial limbs 15 years ago, but now the limbs have worn out.

Khatana now gets around on crude crutches made out of wood, and for his limbs there is nothing but plastic sheets covering the stumps.
“I lost my feet and eyesight. I don’t earn any money, and at times my children don’t have anything to eat. My children were studying in a local government school but they dropped out because I couldn’t afford it,” he laments. Every few months, he takes a loan to come to Srinagar, and to plead with the lawyers at JKCCS to help him get a little more compensation. Sadly, there is nothing more they can do.

In 2012, there were calls for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) — a powerful piece of legislation in force in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast of India, which allows soldiers to carry out operations without fear of prosecution. To an extent, this in understandable; but the AFSPA also shields soldiers from prosecution against human rights abuses. To date, not a single soldier has been prosecuted over human rights abuses in the Kashmir Valley.

But for men such as Qalandar Khatana — turned into invalids on mere suspicion by the same law — to be tortured is to know absolute helplessness. Hope is ground into the dust, blow by heavy blow.

Source : Was originally published on March 02, 2014 on Dawn/Gautham Ashok.

(From Facebook wall of Humans of Occupied Kashmir)

Solidarity versus white savior politics

Racism has made a wreck of the distinctions between solidarity with the oppressed & white savior politics. In the US, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” is the pioneering presentation of white savior politics, now a staple in literature & film about relations between Blacks & whites. White savior crap is so pernicious an ethos that while “Huckleberry Finn” traumatizes Black schoolchildren forced to read it as part of the curriculum, white adults swoon at what they perceive its anti-racism message.

Responding to my criticism of Sam Charles Hamad for his attack on BDS, someone said I had a white savior thing going on in my support for Palestinians & the longevity of my commitment reflected a fetish. There’s a lot of ways you can tell the difference between solidarity & white savior stuff since the latter is rooted in a racism which is not subtle. Solidarity is based in reciprocity: we’re in this mess together & we’ll get out of it together. White savior is rooted in charity, pity, noblesse oblige, vanity, & looking down on the oppressed. As for that fetish thing? Is that what commitment looks like to some? Is it my fault that the Palestinian struggle is absolutely central to the struggle against US & European domination of the Middle East?

Sam Charles Hamad comes out slugging for Israel & against BDS

Radiohead July 17

Sam Charles Hamad is a Scottish-Egyptian writer for several publications, known best for his writings on the Syrian revolution. Much of his work is useful, especially on the funding & arming of militias in Syria. But there’s a problem with Hamad; he’s a hater, a misanthrope, even a crank, with a deeply reactionary streak which he cultivates with extreme arrogance.

He’s no critic of capitalism but it’s hard to place his politics which seem to have strong affinities with rightwing libertarians. Ironic that since his nemeses in politics are libertarians who support the Assad dictatorship. In the long run it may turn out that Hamad supported the Syrian revolution only through a misunderstanding on his part. Based on his vituperations, it appears Hamad thinks the “monstrous western left” are the source of all evil in world politics but he lashes out at them without being able to distinguish among them. Ignorance doesn’t interfere with his rantings but on the contrary seems to nourish them.

We could leave Hamad to his misanthropy & his conservatism but unfortunately his hatred of the left has gotten the best of him & he has lost his bearings completely. Al-Araby (The New Arab) journal shamefully published an article by him today titled “Radiohead in Tel Aviv: It’s no worse than playing in the US.” Hamad comes out slugging as an apologist for Israel & equivocal about apartheid; supportive of a bantustate solution for Palestinians; opposed to the cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel called by Palestinian organizations in 2005 as a means to defend an unarmed people against one of the mightiest military forces in the world; ignorant & willfully uninformed about the impact of BDS; contemptuous & critical of the entire Palestinian solidarity movement for the entirely wrong reasons. In short, our man Sam is a political wreck on Israel & Palestinian self-determination.

Hamad defends the English rock group Radiohead for defying the cultural boycott to perform in Israel on July 19th. Fifty performers & prominent BDS activists, including Roger Waters, Desmond Tutu, & Thurston Moore, directly appealed to the group to honor BDS but instead the head of the group Thom Yorke has been defending their defiance of the boycott, including in Rolling Stone magazine. To show his contempt, he also flipped the bird to BDS activists holding up a Palestinian flag at one of his concerts.

The irony of Hamad’s opposition to BDS is that he parrots Noam Chomsky’s opposition to BDS when Chomsky is a supporter of Assad & part of that undifferentiated western left that Hamad so often excoriates. In truth, that left Hamad rants against has moved decisively to the right & Hamad may be just behind them.

Support Palestinian justice by honoring the economic & cultural boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with barcode beginning with 729.

Article by Hamad:

Max Blumenthal finds natural habitat on Fox News

Max Blumenthal was on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News talking about Russiagate. He’s found his natural habitat. Mark my words, that’s where he’s headed when he’s finished playing his part as apologist, albeit an ignorant one, for the Syrian counter-revolution.

Carlson moved from Max to a piece on Roma immigrants pooping on the streets of the Pennsylvania city where they settled. Would any self-respecting progressive journalist be part of such a habitually racist newscast? Though let us not forget Blumenthal’s sidekick Rania Khalek impugned Syrian refugees as terrorists.

Palestine for Kashmir

A Kashmiri friend introduced me to this blog titled Palestine for Kashmir. It’s primarily a compendium of articles from Kashmir about that struggle & is to inform Palestinians or Arabic speakers. (It’s in Arabic but can be automatically translated.) It appears to be a couple years old & is an important development. Does anyone know who the blogger(s) are or where it’s from?

Trump’s approval rating is down to 36-percent. That includes Republicans, libertarians, fans of Assad & Putin, Islamophobes, the US antiwar movement (such as it is), & other demented elements in society. Things are looking up now that they’re all in a confederacy of dunces & we can isolate them.

This morning some lowbrow punk named Eric Trager tweeted: “Arab Spring” was 6.5 yrs ago. It ultimately failed & sparked deadly power struggles. Yet some think tanks want US to encourage more of it.” Political analysis may not be Trager’s métier; tiddlywinks is more his intellectual speed.

Part of Islamophobia, even a central part, is disparaging the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011. So much rubbish has been written to discredit & scorn them or gloat over their defeat that it could be called an industry. In fact it is a propaganda industry & explains the scope & aggression of the Islamophobic counter-offensive.

Millions of working people in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, with reverberations in Iraq & across North Africa rose up against military rule, feudal tyranny & dictatorship to demand human & democratic rights. The world hasn’t seen anything so monumental & tsunamic for generations. They were/are being thwarted only by the use of massive repression, violence & massacres in Bahrain & Egypt, carpet bombing & funding of terrorist groups in Yemen & Syria & the most hateful vilifying of Arabs & Muslims as too politically primitive for higher aspirations like democracy.

Those revolutions aren’t over & have only just begun despite devastating setbacks. One of the most important things they lacked was international solidarity that could stay the hand of US & European collusion to destroy them. That failure of solidarity signaled the moment of betrayal when the international left self-destructed & proved itself incapable–as incapable as the rightwing Eric Trager–of discerning a revolution against tyranny & instead joined the counter-revolution. It’s all over for that left except the requiems. Let their epitaph be written: Rot in Hell.

Just discovered an entire genre of images called “IDF hotties”–Israeli women in full military uniform brandishing assault rifles in sexually provocative poses. The glamorization & sexualization of militarism. Using women to make occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonialism look “hot.” More precisely, making the extrajudicial execution of Palestinians look sexy. Contemptible isn’t a strong enough condemnation.

End the occupation of Palestine. Self-determination for Palestinians. Build the economic & cultural boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729.