Chomsky on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel for apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

Intifada July 5 2014

There is no need to genuflect to the contributions Noam Chomsky has made to understanding Zionism. With the collapse of the left, he has long stood alone on the campus circuit educating thousands about the nature of Israel. But for those who came of age politically in the 1960s (& earlier) there were many who elaborated the nature of Zionism even more cogently & without the compromises Chomsky makes to left Zionism. Those teachers include Abraham Leon, the Belgian Jew who died at Auschwitz; activists from Matzpen, the Israeli socialist group (now defunct); & many anti-Zionist Jews & socialists around the world, including Ilan Pappé, the Israeli now resident in England.

Chomsky, despite his criticisms of the violent excesses of Israel, believes in the Zionist project of an only-Jewish state, reflecting a deep conservatism & cynicism in his thinking which makes him unwilling or unable to thoroughly anatomize the reactionary character of Zionism. Because he’s a principled person, this cynicism seems to put him at odds with his own theoretics; it certainly puts him at odds with reality & with Palestinian justice. Because if there was ever an instance where you can’t possibly have it both ways, that would be Israel as a Jewish-only state & Palestinian justice.

Chomsky has chosen just this moment in time–when Israel is bombing the hell out of Gaza, conducting a barbaric jackboot occupation in the West Bank, & inciting racist mobs against Palestinians in Jerusalem–to publish a smarmy attack on the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement in The Nation magazine. Using the legalistic parsing employed by Norman Finkelstein, he attempts to discredit the characterization of Israel as an apartheid state. Both men expose their support for Israel as a Jewish-only state by appealing to the most conservative international agencies like the United Nations & Human Rights Watch–not to mention the US State Department.

Neither has respect for Palestinian intifada & rooted in academia, neither has a clue about how to build a social movement. Chomsky at least has always been candid in admitting that weakness. But most importantly, neither wants BDS & Palestinian solidarity to succeed because it threatens the possibility of a Jewish-only state. In their cynicism, they cannot envision a democratic, secular state where Jews & Palestinians & Africans live in harmony as brothers & sisters. Theoretically, like all Zionist ideologues, they capitulate to racism & antisemitism & the status quo of colonialism.

Both Chomsky & Finkelstein are media celebrities called on frequently for commentary on Israel. In opposing BDS with such arrant contempt they are trying to eliminate the economic boycott, a non-violent political weapon, & leave unarmed Palestinians to the savageries of bombers & jackboots. It may not be politic for Palestinians to sever relations with these two erstwhile allies, but sure as hell Palestinian supporters can call them out for such contemptible, shameful betrayal of justice.

Here a Palestinian responds to Israeli bulldozers expropriating Palestinian lands in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum in the spirit of intifada (on June 13th).

Stand with intifada & BDS: boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); support the cultural boycott of Israel; demand “No military aid to Israel.”

Long live intifada!

(Photo by Nedal Eshtayah/APA Images)

Anti-immigration protest in Murrieta, CA: a gathering of racist trolls

Anti-immigration march July 5 2014

The 150 anti-immigration protesters harassing buses of undocumented immigrants at a Border Patrol station in Murrieta, California near San Diego are making a lot of news–even though the LA Times reports they were outnumbered by immigration rights activists. That’s the media’s way of making it appear anti-immigration sentiment is a groundswell in the US–& thus helping to create one.

When the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced in 1995, the media was thunderous about how it exposed polarity between Blacks & whites in this country. It was alarming to hear many whites emboldened in their most primitive thinking & discussing how the verdict showed the impossibility of “racial” harmony in the US.

Serendipitously, the Million Man March in Washington, DC was just a week after the verdict. It was more a religious parade than a civil rights protest but it was a massive show of power when close to a million Black men & women showed up. It muted, in one fell stroke, all the bellicose rhetoric against Black people both in the media & among racist whites.

That’s what is needed now so that anti-immigration sentiment does not crescendo. Power is a very daunting thing but it needs to be mobilized.

Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders! Close down the immigration jails!

(Photo is the handful of anti-immigration protesters by Mark Boster/LATimes)

The racism of Zionism

Israel African immigrant July 4 2014

Zionism had a different kind of dream than Martin Luther King. In opposing US apartheid (called Jim Crow), Dr. King said “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal” & “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” It was that kind of vision that inspired the great US Civil Rights Movement, which while it lasted ended the worst savageries of US apartheid & inspired millions of oppressed around the world to stand against tyranny & colonialism.

Zionism isn’t built on equality & all that hope stuff; it’s built on a cynical & twisted sense of Jewish superiority, separating Jews from other ethnicities in a shtetl surrounded by an apartheid wall & fortified by one of the most heavily armed militaries in the world. From earliest on, those who opposed the Zionist project of Israel claimed it would be a death trap for Jews. It has proven worse than that.

Right now Israel is engaged in a murderous bombing campaign over Gaza & a jackboot occupation of the West Bank, brutalizing & rounding up hundreds of Palestinians. Politicians are inciting Israelis to barbarous acts of violence against Palestinian youth as revenge for the murder of the three teenage settlers–when no investigation, charges, legal proceedings have even been initiated. In other words, mob rule is in force in place of legal justice.

And in this photo, an Israeli cop & immigration officer brutalize an African asylum seeker who along with 1,000 others left Holot immigration jail in Israel & marched to the Egyptian border to get the hell out of the country. They preferred to return to their own war-torn countries or to make the perilous trek across the Mediterranean Sea than to stay in the hellhole called Israel. It doesn’t get more damning or more wretched than that.

Supporting Palestinian justice & opposing Israeli apartheid is the only vision that ‘will be able to hew hope out of the mountain of despair’ that is Israel. Boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); support the cultural boycott of Israel, & demand “No military aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Oren Ziv/AFP/Getty Images)

Abortion rights and the failed electoral strategy of women’s groups

SCOTUS Hobby Lobby July 3 2014

Since the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling on Roe v Wade legalizing abortion, the right-wing has relentlessly pursued its reversal. They have organized & bankrolled hundreds & hundreds of legislative initiatives, court challenges, public protests including at abortion clinics, & some have not stopped at violence & assassination.

This has gone on for over forty years with very little response from abortion rights activists. The reason for the lack of political opposition is that early on leading figures of the feminist movement like Betty Friedan & Gloria Steinem won a ferocious battle within the movement to tie it to the Democratic Party, the graveyard of social protest movements. When abortion rights were won in January 1973, the movement went into a prolonged eclipse. The thousands of women’s groups that had been formed from every kind of constituency–lesbian, Chicano, Black, disabled, religious, military, socialist, even Republican–now became little more than an answering machine or post office box. The movement that gets charged by know-nothings with so many crimes & receives so little credit for its monumental achievements actually only existed as a social movement for a matter of years. But its thrust was so massive & so powerful that it changed the lives of millions of women for what then seemed forever.

The primary feminist organization remains the National Organization for Women (NOW), which has an electoral & legalistic perspective & engages very little in massive mobilizations to defend reproductive rights. On the few occasions since Roe v Wade that NOW did put out a call for national protests in Washington, DC, hundreds of thousands of abortion rights activists responded.

Given the unwillingness of NOW to mobilize women & instead depend on the courts, it is no surprise that state by state major inroads against reproductive rights have been won or that we have seen just in the past few weeks two major Supreme Court rulings against reproductive rights: a ruling to allow right-wing vigilantes to harass women at clinics & the Hobby Lobby ruling giving corporations religious rights while denying them to women. The ultimate goal in all these attacks on reproductive freedom is of course to reverse Roe v Wade & send women back to coat hangers & back-alley abortionists. Every time a victory is won against reproductive freedom, Roe v Wade totters on its feeble legs–& that is precisely the strategy of those opposed to women’s reproductive rights.

You can’t just snap your fingers & materialize a social movement, no matter how dire the need. But those who value women’s rights must begin to collaborate, agitate, organize because an assault on Roe v Wade is rolling in piece-meal & right along with that a wholesale attack on every right won by millions of women in hard-fought battles.

Many pro & anti-reproductive rights protests have been held in front of Hobby Lobby stores but there are other corporations included in this decision. They should all be identified, boycotted, protested, & notified that they are under economic siege for daring to challenge women’s right to reproductive freedom. NOW should be strongly encouraged to organize local & national protests in defense of women’s rights.

Hands off our bodies! Hands off our rights!

(Photo of March 2014 protest at Supreme Court by Larry Downing/Reuters)

Teenage immigrant found dead in Texas: a victim of racist U.S. immigration policy

Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez July 3 2014

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago the Obamas claimed they wanted their two kids to experience the character-building reality of minimum wage jobs? They meant to sound egalitarian; instead they exposed a wretched noblesse oblige & contempt for working people. But patronizing us is one thing; going after our kids is quite another. 52,000 Central American kids have been arrested since October 2013 crossing the US border to find jobs that pay even less than minimum wage. They’ve been jailed in squalid, overcrowded conditions & are now threatened with deportation by the Obama regime. Is that about character building too?

There’s no reason to beat around the bush or continue to flog the shibboleth that Obama’s crimes are all George Bush’s fault. Those 52,000 children testify differently. But the most damning condemnation of all comes from the graves of 445 immigrants, including children, who died crossing the US-Mexico border last year.

While Obama utters pieties about the humanitarian crisis on the border, he sent his two hapless lieutenants Kerry & Biden to work the politicians in Central America. There isn’t much they can threaten them with since US military aid to those countries to facilitate the drug trade & other plunders isn’t going to stop over a massive immigration embarrassment.

The line peddled by all three politicians is that the kids are being “enticed” to the US by lies & promises of amnesty or they’re being urged to leave by their parents. So the US is starting an ad campaign throughout Central America to discourage the kids from coming. And here they have officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, & Texas Rangers talking tough to the kids, warning them not to come since they’ll just be sent home. And of course the local media operates like another flank of bully boys.

The Democratic Party has the Rio Grande Valley sewed up nice & tight & Obama wouldn’t want to rattle that cage. So he blithers pieties about the humanitarian crisis while he’s calling on Congress to dish out more money for “flexibility to speed the youth’s deportation”, $2 billion for more judges to process asylum applications in kangaroo immigration courts, & more detention centers to warehouse the kids. Because all that is really character building.

But then we have the story of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, a 15-year-old boy who left his remote mountain village in Guatemala against his mother’s wishes so he could earn money to treat her epilepsy. He was trying to join his older brother in Chicago but his decomposed body was found only a mile from the Rio Grande River. He died likely from heat stroke. If his mother’s pleas couldn’t deter him from trying to help her, does the Obama regime, complete with all his attendant stooges like Kerry & Biden, really believe a billboard campaign would!?

Photo is Gilberto Ramos. May he RIP. And may we keep this young boy in mind as we join with immigration rights activists in demanding: Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! Open the immigration jails!

(Photo from yahoo)

Farming is the oldest profession for women

Woman farmer June 28 2014

This is a woman farmer in Khokana, Lalitpur, a district in central Nepal. It’s not certain what she’s so happy about since the work looks like hell. We’re taught to assume farmers are mostly men when in fact it’s the primary work of most rural women. Contrary to the repugnant slander against our ancient mothers, farming is the oldest profession for women & they played a key role in the development of agriculture.

What’s interesting about the village of Khokana, with an economy still based on agriculture, is that it has an ancient Mother Goddess temple. Mother Goddesses personified the fertility & bounty of the Earth, often referred to as Mother Earth.

Cultural feminists from the women’s movement of the 1970s played the central role in popularizing interest in the Mother Goddesses & forged Wicca at one time as the fastest growing religion in the US & elsewhere. These feminists didn’t go back to farming but played an important role in educating women about our bodies & in advancing healthcare for women–which was a travesty in many ways prior to the women’s movement.

Whether religious or not, whether drawn to “pagan” goddesses or not, many women love to read about these Mother Goddesses because they represent a time in history when women were held in high esteem, when we were creative & powerful & not threatened with violence in a thousand different ways. It’s good to keep our ancient mothers in mind for inspiration because we have a long row ahead of us to plow to bring back those old glory days.

(Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

Graffiti campaign in Yemen: a form of political protest

Yemen graffiti campaign June 28 2014

This is a graffiti mural from Sana’a, Yemen but it’s uncertain if it is part of the 12th hour graffiti campaign or was already there–since graffiti has long been a form of political protest in Yemen & played a prominent role during & after the uprising in 2011.

We are told the purpose of this mural was to depict the disproportionate impact of poverty on women. The poignant & powerful image is universal, resonating with the oppressed everywhere.

Many try so hard to divide the human race by religion, gender, ethnicity, & everything else under the sun that makes us different. Artists & poets are here to silence the cacophony & disharmony & remind us to keep perspective; that we are all human beings with far more in common than at odds.

Once we rid this magnificent planet of the things that stink it up like injustice & inequality, the human race has a brilliant future.

(Photo from Yemen Times)

Graffiti campaign for disappeared in Yemen

Yemen- portraits of disappeared June 28 2014

This is another graffiti mural from the 12th hour graffiti campaign in Yemen depicting those disappeared by the regime. One of the most prominent manifestations of political discontent since the end of the uprising in 2012 has been continuous protests over those still unaccounted for by the regime. Graffiti portraits of victims of violence either murdered or disappeared are all over Sana’a.

(Image from Yemen Times)

Graffiti campaign in Yemen

Yemen June 28 2014

Before the Arab uprising in Yemen all the news from the country was about US drone bombing to rout Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Sometimes the reports were indistinguishable from farce–like AQAP & the underwear bomber or bombs planted in ink toner cartridges. When the tsunami of protest erupted in early 2011 we were witnesses to an extraordinary historical event. The threat of US military intervention did not daunt the spirit of rebellion to US-backed tyranny.

When the uprising ended in 2012 with the power elite playing musical chairs but without changing the status quo (including collusion with the US military), the only documentation of that momentous struggle was graffiti art & photo montages of those killed or disappeared by the regime.

There has been almost no news coming out of Yemen since except for scattered reports over the past year of “micro Arab Springs” & labor strikes especially among healthcare workers & despite draconian anti-labor laws. That’s interesting because healthcare workers played a prominent part in the Yemen uprising.

There must be something of political consequence going on that media has not felt compelled to report. Because in response to what is called (without elaboration) “the current political upheaval in Yemen,” artist Murad Sobay put out a call on social media for a graffiti campaign to address the US drone war, corruption, sectarian conflict, poverty, terrorism, civil wars, child labor, proliferation of weapons, kidnapping, & the continuing disappearances of activists.

Revolutions take a lot out of people, especially if they have not been successfully concluded & nothing has changed or may have gotten worse. But they also transform people–in ways that will not be reversed. They are moments in time when millions learn & unlearn & commit themselves to social transformation–even in the apparent lulls. It can be said with assurance that, whatever the odds, the revolution against tyranny in Yemen has just begun.

This is one of the graffiti murals in Sana’a, Yemen.

(Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA)

African refugees in Israel rebel against Zionist racism

African immigrants June 27 2014

What a dystopic vision Zionists have for Israel: they envisioned a ghetto but they’re creating a hell on earth. Zionism used to garb itself in the mantle of freedom from persecution & even socialism, but modern Zionists like Netanyahu are no longer able to hide the putrid racism & xenophobia at the heart of their ideology.

While the US bases its military policy on Islamophobia & bringing down Islamic fundamentalism, it promotes & bankrolls Zionist fundamentalism in Israel. A Jewish state or a Muslim state, based solely on religion, defies the achievements of the democratic revolutions against feudalism & signifies a political regression.

Zionism also signifies an abandonment of the worldwide struggle to end racism, an ideology developed to justify the slave trade. Rather than stand with others to oppose racist ideology & practices, Zionism accepted defeat, threw in the towel, & decided to join the side of the colonizers & oppressors.

The courageous & intransigent opposition of Palestinians to Zionist racism has put the lie to all this deceit & malarkey & they are now joined by African refugees who are being subjected to endless barbarisms including harassment, detention, deportation.

It’s so bad for African refugees in Israel that this week thousands of asylum seekers left the Holot prison for refugees in southern Israel & marched toward the Egyptian border with no intention of returning. This march exposes the Achilles Heel of Zionism, which is probably why Israeli soldiers manhandled & tried to hold the marchers back.

Most of these refugees fit the UN description of an asylum seeker: they are leaving war zones & it should be added, areas like South Sudan where Israel has long been invested in economic plunder. The right of asylum is an achievement of civilization that goes back millennia but Israel, with it’s xenophobic & dystopic vision of society, believes refugees are “infiltrators,” personae non gratae & must be deported. Imagine leaving your own war-torn country & culture & having to face the edifice of Zionist fundamentalism.

We hope African refugees not yet deported & still in Israel will forge political solidarity with Palestinians despite the impediments Israel is surely using to block such unity. There are many people around the world hoodwinked by Zionism’s cynical manipulation of the holocaust & endless pogroms against Jews who would find racism toward Palestinians & Africans damnable if they knew about it.

By every civilized societal standard, those African refugees deserve asylum but they’re not likely to get it under Zionism. That will require a democratic secular state where all men, women, & children–of whatever religion or ethnicity–live together as brother & sister. That’s the vision Zionism abandoned for a shtetl surrounded by an apartheid wall.

Our fullest solidarity with the African refugees.

(Photo of African asylum seekers leaving Holot detention center, June 25, 2014 by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)