Category Archives: Colonialism

Decolonization Displaces Neoliberalism in Bolivia

In the central interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia is the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. A corporate entity, Coastal GasLink (CGL), abetted by colonial-government structures, is preparing to lay a pipeline in this territory. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (hereditary chiefs) did not grant consent for this; in fact, the proposal from CGL was unanimously rejected.

On 22 July, the Gidimt’en (Wolf and Bear) Clan of the Wet’suwet’en filed a lawsuit against CGL in the BC Supreme Court connected to the enforcement on 7 January when 14 people were arrested resisting a BC Supreme Court injunction granting CGL access to the pipeline right-of-way through Wet’suwet’en territory.1

Given the state of siege and corporate Canada’s unwelcome intrusion onto Wet’suwet’en territory, what is crystal clear is that colonialism continues unabated.

Ongoing colonialism and ongoing genocide remain a reprehensible and undeniable fact in “British Columbia.”2

Overcoming Colonialism and Genocide: The Bolivian Template

To combat the insidious effects of colonialism the colonialism must be undone. South of Turtle Island is the landlocked nation of Bolivia where decolonization has been underway. Author Benjamin Dangl chronicles this in The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia (AK Press, 2019). The brilliance of The Five Hundred Year Rebellion is that it lays out one actionable template for reclaiming what settler-colonists robbed from Indigenous peoples.

There are 38 different Indigenous groups in Bolivia; populous among them are the Aymara, Quechua, and Gurani. Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have mobilized en masse to reclaim their history and empower themselves through grassroots activism. The movements were labor-, union-, academic-, and politic-oriented.

Dangl writes that after the Spanish destroyed Incan society, the Indigenous-led National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) sought to reconstitute and solidify Bolivian ayllus (a centuries old community structure in the Andes). The Andean Oral History Workshop (THOA) reconstructed the historical narrative of Indigenous Bolivians.

Bartolina Sisa and Túpac Katari © Hugo Quispe

Important in restoring the historical Indigenous narrative was Katarismo organized by campesino movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Kararismo is named after the Aymara martyr Túpac Katari. In 1781, Katari with his wife Bartolina Sisa (women were an important part of the movement; p 71-78) and thousands of campesinos used road blocks (an effective tactic often used by the Indigenous resistance movements) to lay siege to La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia. However, this uprising failed and Katari was brutally quartered by the Spanish. Katari, subsequently, has been used as a icon of the resistance against the police state and military regimes. (p 49, 61)

Out of Katarismo arose the Unified Syndical Confederation of Rural Workers in Bolivia (CSUTCB). The Kataristas resisted the military governments in Bolivia and the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) that overthrew a military government in 1951. While the MNR brought in some land reforms, it sought to erase Indigenous identity. (p 25-28) The Kataristas, however, reinvoked Indigenous memory.

The CSUTCB indigenized the Bolivian Workers’ Central by, for example, recognizing Indigenous sartorial. (p 65) The solidarity was important in overthrowing military regimes.

Dangl details the importance of THOA in bringing Indigenous history to the forefront after years of being suppressed by colonialism, academia — and even Marxism (p 93). After the ayllu network was reconstructed by CONAMAQ, Indigenous surnames were retained, Indigenous narratives were incorporated into education, and Indigenous languages and culture were promoted. (p 94-104)

One particular history recovered by THOA was of the Indigenous resistance leader Santos Marka T’ula: “T’ula’s life is the vehicle of the narrative, positioned as a crucial step in a much longer journey toward justice.” (p 126)

Notable in the history of the Indigenous peoples has been a strong socialist component from the days of the Incan empire, Tawantinsuyu, to the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) governing Bolivia today. The ayllus are communal, featuring sharing and mutual aid (p 139- 140) — and even anarchistic in that leadership is rotational and decision-making consensus-based. (p 153)

Dangl describes the election of an Indigenous leader, Evo Morales, as a “watershed moment” in Bolivia. (p 163) Morales is currently standing for election to a fourth term as president of Bolivia. This is hardly rotational, but his MAS governments have made great strides for the people of Bolivia while continuing to face challenges and criticisms.

The Five Hundred Year Rebellion traces the historical path of colonial repression, historiographical and cultural destruction which was met with Indigenous resistance and the struggle for decolonization.

Solidarity is a key, and the Wet’suwet’en have reached out in their fight against colonialism.

Bolivia offers a template that might be useful in Indigenous contexts elsewhere. As such, Dangl’s book is an important source to consider for carrying out a successful resistance and achieving justice.

  1. .See Unist’ot’en.
  2. See Kerry Coast, author of The Colonial Present: The Rule of Ignorance and the Role of Law in British Columbia (Clarity Press and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, 2013). Review; Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).

Land and Freedom

From the genocidal aftermath of Columbus’ accidental “discovery” of the New World, to the ever-deeper encroachments of Israeli settlements into the West Bank — five hundred years of European colonialism has cast a long shadow over this world. Colonization, in its supreme arrogance, carved up the globe according to the imperial logic of accumulation, imposing artificial borders on foreign lands and seeking to subjugate restive native populations through religious indoctrination and force of arms. But despite their military superiority, ideological warfare and constant recourse to savage brutality, colonial regimes have consistently failed to crush the will of colonized people to fight back. And the reason for this is simple. Occupation breeds resistance.

Anarchists, especially those of us who have never experienced the sharp edge of colonization, have much to learn from those waging this resistance. We also have a principled imperative to align ourselves with those facing acute forms of state violence and dispossession. To this end, this episode of Trouble draws on two examples of contemporary anti-colonial struggle – those waged by the Palestinians and the Mohawks of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy against their respective oppressors, the Israeli and Canadian settler-colonial states, in hopes of drawing out lessons and increasing our capacity for producing meaningful solidarity.

Indigenous Resistance as Re-occupation of Land at the Forefront of Climate Justice

Protest against Trans Mountain pipeline in BC.

I write as a settler on this land. I am not speaking on behalf of Aboriginal people but rather as an unconditional ally to their struggles. I will specifically address Indigenous resistance in the form of re-occupation of Turtle Island and in particular of so-called Canada. Re-occupation of the land is a kind of resistance and decolonization to dismantle settler relations to the land as commodity or as property. It is a form of what Nishnaabeg Leanne Betasamosake Simpson calls Indigenous resurgence that is based on restoring Indigenous relationships with the land and how to treat the land in a reciprocal and profoundly respectful way: “It refuses dispossession of both Indigenous bodies and land as the focal point of resurgent thinking and action…. It calls for… radical resurgent organizing as direct action… against the dispossessive forces of capitalism, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy. These are actions that engage in generative refusal of… state control… and they embody an Indigenous alternative.”1 As I understand it this alternative implies both the return of the land to Aboriginal people (and thus the dismantling of settler colonialism) coupled with the literal social, political and economic overthrow of the settler, capitalist state that has wreaked havoc on the planet. More on the tactic of re-occupation shortly. But first, some context on how settler colonialism and ecocide go hand in hand is in order.

Ecocide or the annihilation of the planet and our very life support system is also an industrial genocide of Indigenous peoples symptomatic of what many scholars have called the cancerous diseases of capitalism and settler colonialism. They are both predicated on infinite expansion and growth, the reduction of earth to a lifeless commodity, the mindset of land as frontiers of conquest and the obliteration of what Naomi Klein calls sacrificial zones and people standing on their way. Under capitalism “the expansion of commodity frontiers fosters conditions of social and environmental degradation and conflict.” The commodification process inherent in capitalism begun with the sugar complex in the fifteenth century, spurred early colonialism, and continues to operate in settler colonialism and land grabs through mining and fossil fuel industries and corporate interests: “[f]urther expansion is possible as long as there remains un-commodified land, products, and relations. Here land should be seen the equivalent to the space to grow food or to extract minerals, or the sea for oil or gas exploration.”2 Although today the process of commodification has been exported from the European colonial empires to its colonies and it is rampant globally under the new neo-liberal world order it was initiated within Europe with the uprooting of European peasants, their loss of traditional forms of subsistence, their disconnection from the soil and natural environment, the subsequent flow of products from the countryside to the big urban centers and the degradation and toxification of the places of extraction and consumption. The rise of wage labour accompanied the commodification of land and labour while the “dispossession of subsistence farmers and herders from common land resulted in the proletarianization of rural populations, who flooded to urban centers in search of work…Those still in possession of land generally became indebted, fostering instability and overexploitation by capitalists. This process led to declining productivity, driving the frontier further in search of fresh supplies of labour and land.”3

The story of commodity frontiers and capitalist expansion is more or less similar around the globe. Capitalism goes hand in hand with settler colonialism and both are based on the principles of expansion and commodity frontier as well as the “doctrine of discovery” or in the words of some commentators “the doctrine of Native genocide.” As land is being exhausted in one place, “new” land needs to be “discovered” and thus occupied. And as social and environmental effects of extraction of resources increases, the quantity, quality and availability of resources decrease. Consider for instance that the expansion and the commodity frontier have now moved to a new whole other level in which the oil industry is after increasingly difficult oil to extract that requires large amounts of water, produces more waste and pollution and particularly affects the well being of Indigenous communities as is the case of extraction of dirty oil in the tar sands of Alberta in Canada.

Settler states such as Canada are founded on colonial narratives about the land as sites of conquest, as hard-won property, as real estate, as conquered territory and thus as an agentless object of domination. In contrast, Indigenous people understand the land and the earth as a living entity with its own agency, its own “personality.” Emma Battell Lowman et al. write that this is precisely why “it is often difficult for many settlers to understand why Indigenous struggles about the land are not about holding private property title to land in Canada and fair payment for land appropriated by the state or having equal rights under the law.”4 For many Indigenous people the water, the air, the living things such as plants and animals, the rocks and earth have thoughts of their own and are relatives of the people that depend on them for their own survival. Kyle White explains this relationship as a sort of kinship of humans and non-human others. It entails: interdependence with the land, and between humans and non-humans in the ecosystem; responsibility to care for the environment and the land in which human communities act as caretakers and stewards of the land; reciprocity and mutuality between the human and the non-human (natural world). White maintains that: “Indigenous ecology is an ecological system of interacting humans and non-human beings (animals, plants) and entities (spiritual, inanimate), and landscapes (climate regions, boreal zones) for the continuity of life that is based on “consent.” Notice here the gendered language implicit in the issue of consent. In this Indigenous ecological worldview the earth has agency for its ecosystems are not to be dominated but respected and asked for their consent to continue to sustain human and non-human communities alike. In turn, we are to protect her by taking care of her the way we would take care of our own kin or our mothers.

Settlement is not only a colonial but also a patriarchal project that seeks the very violation of the earth, the land and of Indigenous peoples. This is a point that Blackfoot/Sami filmmaker, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers has made abundantly clear in her short film, Bloodland, in which the earth is depicted as an Indigenous woman violated and ravaged by the oil and fossil fuel industries. It is not coincidental that all extractivist projects in Indigenous territories are accompanied by gendered based violence against Indigenous women particularly through the construction of man camps that house the industry’s workers and are notorious for preying on the Aboriginal women and girls living in nearby communities and reserves. It is also important to see the violence on the land/earth within the context of the phenomenon of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada, an issue of epidemic proportions and (very much analogous to a similar problem in the U.S). As a recent inquiry termed this epidemic sexualized genocide aiming at removing Indigenous women from this land it is ironic that mainstream conservative, white male, settler politicians in Canada debated the merit of the term genocide to refer to this violence. This resembles the way the fossil fuel industry and Canadian economic elites continue to be tone deaf to Indigenous communities’s refusals to give consent to extractivist projects in their territories, who see these projects as forms of industrial genocide of land and people.

The cultural basis of settler relationships with the land and the earth is that they are anthropocentric and rooted in the idea that humans are an exceptional species, unique in creation and as such the land must render benefits to human communities and the earth must serve human interests rather than having inherent value of its own. Human and settler interests supersede those of Indigenous communities, their land or those of non-human others. Indigenous peoples are understood not as sovereign people with their own sacred relationship to the land, their own governance and sovereign policies but as an impediment to the mindset of the commodity frontier and the rampant exploitation of the land and its so called resources. This is why the Canadian government always fails to consult in a meaningful way with Indigenous peoples when it undertakes development or extractivist projects. Canada as a settler state practices the logic of commodity frontier (i.e as land is exhausted, “new” land must be found, occupied and exploited), and ultimately reserves and exercises the right to simply ignore any Indigenous claims to land if it is in its so-called national or economic interests. Canada uses its colonial law and its institutions to legitimize its settler and capitalist impulse of land grabs, and harm Indigenous communities by displacing them and giving way to the settler state. Often this process unfolds into the violent deployment of the military and police to accomplish the expulsion of Indigenous communities, which, in turn, are criminalized and framed as standing in the way of Canada’s national or economic interests. Both federal and provincial state bodies often pit so-called law-abiding citizens against Indigenous peoples in this land by constructing settlers as the proverbial hard-working white settler and family folk, who just want good paying jobs to feed their families. In contrast, Indigenous people are seen as irrationally obstructing economic growth and a hindrance to the prosperity of law-abiding Canadians.

Examples of this abound. In British Columbia, the federal government just purchased with tax payer money the defunct Trans Mountain pipeline despite the fact that at least a hundred BC First Nations have not consented to its approval and have mounted countless legal challenges in courts. Even BC premier, John Horgan, who during the election campaign had promised that he was not going to approve this pipeline is currently fighting in court the Squamish nation: “defending the Trans Mountain pipeline approval…[The BC government’s] conduct flies in the face of their commitment to use every tool in the toolbox to defend our coast, increasing the chance this risky project goes ahead. It also breaks their promise to take reconciliation with First Nations seriously.” And all this happens in a province that is unceded and unsurrendered to the colonial state.

The most glaring example of this form of ecological devastation coupled with settler colonialism is the recent militarized invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory. The Unist’ot’en Camp is a homestead maintained for ten years now by members of the Unist’ot’en house group, which is part of another Wet’suwet’en clan on adjacent territory. The Unist’ot’en have been using the tactic of re-occupation of their land and have already defeated multiple pipeline projects. On December 14 a court injunction ruled in favour of a gas company called Coastal GasLink to begin construction on the Wet’suwet’en unsurrendered territories despite the fact that neither the Crown, nor Canadian courts and its colonial institutions such as the RCMP have any jurisdiction on Wet’suwet’en land governed under the leadership of their hereditary chiefs. The violent invasion of Wet’suwet’en territory, the arrests of defenders and eviction from their land by the industry and by colonial forces dressed in army fatigues and carrying military rifles were acts reminiscent of numerous murderous, settler colonial removals of Indigenous peoples and genocidal expulsions of the past. As the colonial police assailed their territory the Wet’suwet’en resisted on ground refusing entry to colonial authorities that were bullying them on behalf of the gas industry. Freda Huson, spokesperson for the Unist’ot’en speaking on the occasion of this invasion clearly links it to unlawful trespassing with the intent to displace Indigenous people and plunder their home/land: “We’re in the right. We’re not doing anything wrong. This is my home. This is my land. They want to break down my door.”

These violent acts happened under the auspices of the provincial government that has approved the GasLink project and the federal government of Canada, which among meaningless and empty words about reconciling with Aboriginal people have utterly failed to implement Article 10 of the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples (UNDRIP), which states: “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands and territories.”

Let there be no mistake: as the latest attempt at dispossession of Indigenous people from their land clearly indicates settler colonialism, or what some might call resource colonialism, is on going as is fierce resistance to it. Although the Wet’suwet’en have decided to de-escalate the violent attempts of the provincial authorities to invade their land by allowing company workers to do pre-construction work in their territories they still remain firm in re-occupying their land and resisting against the pipeline. Re-occupation means that they do not give their consent to its construction. This is not over: “The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have by absolutely no means agreed to let the Coastal GasLink pipeline tear through our traditional territories.”

Re-occupation as it has been playing out in the Unist’ot’en case is much more than a blockade and resistance against the fossil fuel and gas industries. The Unist’ot’en have built a camp with a healing center” and become a space where Wet’suwet’en and others come to reconstruct and nurture land-based relationships” Their re-occupation of land is similar to other re-occupations by “Indigenous peoples at Standing Rock, at Oka, at Gustafsen Lake” or by the Secwepemc, whose fierce women-led Tiny House Warriors have been building tiny houses and placing them on the path of Trans Mountain pipeline to block it from crossing unceded Secwepemc territory. In this way, through re-occupation these communities also assert their law and jurisdiction over their land. Indeed, re-occupation also serves as a form of re-indigenizing Canada because ultimately it implies the resurgence of Indigenous sovereignty and law and the dismantling of colonial institutions and structures. It aims at consolidating Indigenous governance based on responsibilities to, and taking care of the land that sustains both human and non-human communities and as such it is a return to land-centric or ecocentric “economy” that in White’s terms strives for “the continuance of all life.”

This is why re-occupation as a form of resistance is profoundly unsettling (pun intended) to economic elites and to settler states. It moves beyond the demands of mainstream environmentalism that works within the terms provided by settler states and capital. Mainstream environmentalism often avoids colliding head on with the state by gearing itself toward reforms such economic or environmental policies (taxes, corporate regulation, timber or fishing quotas, optimal rates of resource extraction and so on). In contrast, Indigenous people who re-occupy their land have anti-reformist, anti-state and anti-corporate positions and do not call themselves environmentalists but rather use terms that refer to themselves as defenders of their home (which for the settler, capitalist state is nothing but a commodity frontier); or they recognize themselves as protectors of the water, the coast, the river, the forest (etc). Some Indigenous re-occupation movements are also radical in the sense that they are not after so-called sustainable development or green technologies (wind, solar power etc), or hydroelectric dams (see the Treaty 8 First Nations opposition to site C dam in BC) but favour scaling down and returning to land, what some may call deep ecology.

As Leanne Simpson puts it when Indigenous people re-occupy their land they do so with an anti-capitalist mindset because they do not re-occupy resources: “’Capital’ in our [Nishnaabeg] reality isn’t capital. We have no such thing as capital. We have relatives. We have clans. We have treaty partners. We do not have resources or capital. Resources and capital, in fact, are fundamental mistakes within Nishnaabeg thought… and… come with serious consequences… the collapse of local ecosystems, the loss of prairies and wild rice, the loss of salmon, caribou, the loss of our weather.”1 Re-occupation then is not an environmentalist tactic in the strict sense of environmentalism. Although many people mount a tremendous resistance to environmental injustices and even die defending the environment, Indigenous people and “[p]oor people do not always think and behave as environmentalists…. The environmentalism of the poor arises from the fact that the world economy is based on fossil fuels and other exhaustible resources, going to the ends of the earth to get them, disrupting and polluting both pristine nature and human livelihoods, encountering resistance by poor and Indigenous peoples who are often led by women [as is the case of the women-led Tiny House Warriors movement]. Poor and Indigenous peoples sometimes [may] appeal for economic compensation but more often they appeal to other languages such human rights, Indigenous territorial rights, human livelihoods, and the sacredness of endangered mountains and rivers.”5 They even appeal to their own oral stories that describe how human greed and the drive for accumulation can desecrate the land and undermine the balance between the human community and the environment that sustains it. (See, for instance, the Nishnaabeg story of Nanabush, who “engages in a host of exploitative and extractivist practices at the expense of plants, animals, or the Nishnaabeg, and this results in his demise.” Simpson 2017). These stories function as what Carolyn Merchant (2005) calls “ethical or normative constraints” that prohibit the community from exploiting its landbase or from treating the land as a commodity frontier.

Indeed, I believe that if there is any chance to avert the pending collapse of the planet driven by unfettered capitalism in consorting with settler colonialism, this chance lies in Indigenous re-occupation of their land. It lies in how we as settlers and by extension the state can relinquish claims to unceded land and work outside colonial state institutions and along Indigenous peoples in their efforts to take back their territories and reclaim their sovereignty. This process requires us that we learn from Indigenous knowledge and practices in their wisdom of land stewardship. Ultimately, these practices are based on an ethics of radical empathy and care for the earth. Radical empathy toward the earth means that we learn to relate to her as our kin (indeed as our sacred mother) rather than as a lifeless trove of so-called infinite resources. At the same time we need a widespread cultural transformation that remodels our society based on this kind of ethics: we need to start telling ourselves new cultural stories that take their cues from those of Indigenous peoples and culturally constrain us from pillaging the earth. These tales must not be about frontiers of conquest or the uniqueness of our species or man-made constructs such as the economy, the market, the state, (etc), which are irrelevant to the physics of material reality and inconsequential from the point of view of the biosphere. In effect, in a dead planet there can be neither economy, nor market nor state.

These tales must be imbued with profound humility ensuing from the incontrovertible fact that in the large scheme of things the earth does not need us: we need Her.

  1. Simpson, L.B. (2017). “Kwe as Resurgent Method.” “Nishnaabeg Anticapitalism.” As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  2. Conde, M. And Walter, M. (2015). “Commodity Frontiers.” In D’Alisa, G et al (eds). Degrowth: A Vocabulary For a New Era. New York and London: Routledge.
  3. Conde and Walter, 72.
  4. Battell Lowman, E. et al. (2015). Settler Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Fernwood Publishing.
  5. Martinez-Alier, J. (2015). “Currents of Environmentalism.” In D’Alisa, G et al (eds). Degrowth: A Vocabulary For a New Era. New York and London: Routledge.

How Evangelical Christians Risk Setting the Middle East on Fire

The recent arrival of Africa’s most popular televangelist preacher, TB Joshua, to address thousands of foreign pilgrims in Nazareth produced a mix of consternation and anger in the city of Jesus’s childhood.

There was widespread opposition from Nazareth’s political movements, as well as from community groups and church leaders, who called for a boycott of his two rallies. They were joined by the council of muftis, which described the events as “a red line for faith in religious values”.

Joshua’s gatherings, which included public exorcisms, took place in an open-air amphitheatre on a hill above Nazareth that was originally built for papal masses. The site was used by Pope Benedict in 2009.

The Nigerian pastor, who has millions of followers worldwide and calls himself a prophet, aroused local hostility not only because his brand of Christianity strays far from the more traditional doctrines of Middle Eastern churches. He also represents a trend of foreign Christians, driven by apocalyptic readings of the Bible, interfering ever more explicitly in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories – and in ways that directly aid the policies of Israel’s far-right government.

Much-needed tourism boost

Nazareth is the largest of the Palestinian communities in Israel that survived the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948, which forced most of the native population out of the bulk of their homeland and replaced it with a Jewish state. Today, one in five Israeli citizens are Palestinian.

The city and its immediate environs include the highest concentration of Palestinian Christians in the region. But it has long suffered from the hostility of Israeli officials, who have starved Nazareth of resources to prevent it from becoming a political, economic or cultural capital for the Palestinian minority.

The city has almost no land for growth or industrial areas to expand its income base, and Israel has tightly constrained its ability to develop a proper tourism industry. Most pilgrims pass through briefly to visit its Basilica of the Annunciation, the site where the angel Gabriel reputedly told Mary she was carrying Jesus.

Nazareth’s municipal officials leapt at the chance to exploit the publicity, and income, provided by Joshua’s visit. The municipality’s longer-term hope is that, if the city can attract even a small proportion of the more than 60 million Christian evangelicals in the US and millions more in Africa and Europe, it will provide an enormous boost to the city’s economy.

Recent figures show evangelical tourism to Israel has been steadily rising, now accounting for about one in seven of all overseas visitors.

Playing with fire

But as the fallout over Joshua’s visit indicates, Nazareth may be playing with fire by encouraging these types of pilgrims to take a greater interest in the region. Most local Christians understand that Joshua’s teachings are not directed at them – and, in fact, are likely to harm them.

The Nigerian pastor chose Nazareth to spread his gospel, but faced vocal opposition from those who believe he is using the city simply as the backdrop to his bigger mission – one that appears entirely indifferent to the plight of Palestinians, whether those living inside Israel in places such as Nazareth, or those under occupation.

Political factions in Nazareth noted Joshua’s “ties to far-right and settlers circles in Israel”. He is reported to have had meetings about opening operations in the Jordan Valley, the reputed site of Jesus’ baptism but also the agricultural backbone of the West Bank. The area is being targeted by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu for settlement expansion and possible annexation, thereby dooming efforts to create a Palestinian state.

A view of Armageddon

During his visits to Israel, Joshua has also enjoyed access to key government figures such as Yariv Levin, a close ally of Netanyahu’s, who has been in charge of two portfolios viewed as critical by the evangelical community: tourism, and the absorption into Israel of new Jewish immigrants from the US and Europe.

Many in the evangelical community, including Joshua, believe it is their duty to encourage Jews to move from their home countries to the Promised Land to bring forward an end-times supposedly prophesied in the Bible.

This is the Rapture, when Jesus returns to build his kingdom on earth and righteous Christians take their place alongside him. Everyone else, including unrepentant Jews, it is implied, will burn in Hell’s eternal fires.

The cliff above the Jezreel Valley where Joshua and his disciples congregated offers views over Tel Megiddo, the modern name of the biblical site of Armageddon, where many evangelicals believe the end of the world will soon happen.

Speeding up the second coming

These Christians are not simply observers of an unfolding divine plan; they are active participants trying to bring the end-times closer.

In fact, the traumas of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the decades of bloodshed, violent colonisation and expulsions of Palestinians – cannot be understood separately from the interference of Western Christian leaders in the Middle East over the past century. In many ways, they engineered the Israel we know today.

The first Zionists, after all, were not Jews, but Christians. A vigorous Christian Zionist movement – known then as “restorationism” – emerged in the early 19th century, predating and heavily influencing its subsequent Jewish counterpart.

The restorationists’ peculiar reading of the Bible meant that they believed the Messiah’s second coming could be accelerated if God’s chosen people, the Jews, returned to the Promised Land after 2,000 years of a supposed exile.

Charles Taze Russell, a US pastor from Pennsylvania, travelled the world from the 1870s onwards imploring Jews to establish a national home for themselves in what was then Palestine. He even produced a plan for how a Jewish state might be created there.

He did so nearly 20 years before the Jewish Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl published his famous book outlining a Jewish state.

The secular Herzl didn’t much care where such a Jewish state was built. But his later followers – deeply aware of the hold of Christian Zionism in western capitals – focused their attention on Palestine, the biblical Promised Land, in the hope of winning powerful allies in Europe and the US.

Rallying cry for Herzl’s followers

Imperial Britain’s support was especially prized. In 1840, Lord Shaftesbury, who was connected through marriage to Lord Palmerston, a later prime minister, published an advert in the London Times urging the return of Jews to Palestine.

Christian Zionism was an important factor influencing the British government in 1917 to issue the Balfour Declaration – effectively a promissory note from Britain that became the blueprint for creating a Jewish state on the ruins of the native population’s homeland.

Writing of the declaration, Israeli historian Tom Segev has observed: “The men who sired it were Christian and Zionist and, in many cases, anti-Semitic.” That was because Christian Zionism took as its premise that Jews should not integrate into their own countries. Rather, they should serve as instruments of God’s will, moving to the Middle East so that Christians could achieve redemption.

Edwin Montagu was the only British cabinet minister to oppose the Balfour Declaration, and he was also its sole Jewish member. He warned – for good reason – that the document would “prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country in the world”.

‘Struggle until the Rapture’

While Jewish Zionists looked to the imperial powerhouse of Britain for sponsorship a century ago, today, their chief patron is the US. The standard-bearers of Christian Zionism have been enjoying growing influence in Washington since the Six-Day War of 1967.

That process has reached its apotheosis under President Donald Trump. He has surrounded himself with a mix of extreme Jewish and Christian Zionists. His ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, are fervent Jewish supporters of the illegal settlements. But so too, it seems, are key Christians in the White House, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Before he entered government, Pompeo was clear about his evangelical beliefs. Back in 2015, he told a congregation: “It is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture. Be part of it. Be in the fight.”

This past March, he backed the idea that Trump might have been sent by God to save Israel from threats such as Iran. “I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Pence, meanwhile, has said: “My passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith … It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice-president to a president who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally.”

Sleeping giant awakens

Trump’s relocation last year of the US embassy to Jerusalem, pre-empting any negotiated settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, was designed to pander to his Christian Zionist base. Some 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016, and he will need their support again in 2020 if he hopes to be re-elected.

Not surprisingly, the new US embassy in Jerusalem was consecrated by two prominent televangelist pastors, John Hagee and Robert Jeffress, known for their fanatical support for Israel – as well as occasional antisemitic outbursts.

More than a decade ago, Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, told delegates at a conference organised by AIPAC, Israel’s main political lobby in Washington: “The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the state of Israel.”

The Hagee group’s activities include lobbying in Congress for hardline pro-Israel legislation, such as the recent Taylor Force Act that slashes US funding to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting. The group is also active in helping to push through legislation at the state and federal levels, penalising anyone who boycotts Israel.

For US evangelicals, and those elsewhere, Israel is increasingly a key issue. A 2015 poll showed some three-quarters believe that developments in Israel were prophesied in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

Many expect Trump to complete a chain of events set in motion by British officials a century ago – and more and more of them are getting directly involved, in hopes of speeding along that process.

Closer ties to settlers

Israel’s vision of an “ingathering of the exiles” – encouraging Jews from around the world to move to the region under the Law of Return – fits neatly with Christian Zionism’s beliefs in a divine plan for the Middle East.

The efforts of extremist Jewish settlers to colonise the West Bank, the bulk of any future Palestinian state, also chimes with Christian Zionists’ understanding of the West Bank as the “biblical heartland”, an area Jews must possess before Jesus returns.

For these reasons, evangelicals are developing ever-closer ties with Israeli Jewish religious extremists, especially in the settlements. Recent initiatives have included online and face-to-face Bible studies programmes run by Orthodox Jews, often settlers, targeted specifically at evangelical Christians. The tutorials are designed to bolster the settlers’ narrative, as well as demonising Muslims and, by extension, Palestinians.

The most popular course offered by Root Source, one such venture, is titled “Islam – Insights and Deceptions”. It uses the Old and New Testaments to make the case that Islam “is extremely dangerous”.

A few months ago, Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper, published an investigation into the growing flow of evangelical volunteers and money into the West Bank’s illegal settlements – the chief obstacle to achieving a two-state solution.

One US organisation alone, Hayovel, has brought more than 1,700 Christian volunteers over the past 10 years to help in a settlement close to Nablus, in the heart of the West Bank.

Evangelical money pours in

An increasing number of similar initiatives have been aided by new rules introduced last year by the Israeli government to pay Christian Zionist groups such as Hayovel to advocate abroad for the settlements.

It is much harder to know exactly how much evangelical money is pouring into the settlements, because of a lack of transparency regarding US donations made by churches and charities. But the Haaretz investigation estimates that over the past decade, as much as $65m has flowed in.

Ariel, a settler town sitting in the very centre of the West Bank, received $8m for a sports centre from John Hagee Ministries a decade ago. Another evangelical outfit, J H Israel, has spent $2m there on a national leadership centre.

Other Christian charities that have historically funded projects inside Israel are reported to be increasingly considering assisting the settlements too.

Should a Trump peace plan – touted for publication later this year – back annexation of parts of the West Bank, as is widely expected, it would likely unleash a new and even greater wave of evangelical money into the settlements.

Immune to reason

This is precisely the problem for Palestinians, and the wider Middle East. Christian Zionists are meddling yet again, whether they be government officials, church leaders or their congregations. Evangelical influence is to be found from the US and Brazil to Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Western governments typically have more practical and pressing concerns than realising biblical prophecy to justify divide-and-rule policies in the Middle East. Chiefly, they want control over the region’s oil resources, and can secure it only by projecting military power there to prevent rival nations from gaining a foothold.

But the uncritical support of tens of millions of Christians around the world, whose passion for Israel is immune to reason, makes the job of these governments selling wars and resource grabs all the easier.

Both Israel and the West have benefited from cultivating an image of a plucky Jewish state surrounded by barbaric Arabs and Muslims determined to destroy it. As a result, Israel has enjoyed ever greater integration into a Western power bloc, while Western governments have been offered easy pretexts either to interfere in the region directly or delegate such interference to Israel.

The payoff for Israel has been unstinting support from the US and Europe, as it oppresses and drives the Palestinians off their lands.

With an evangelical base behind him, Trump has no need to offer plausible arguments before he acts. He can move the US embassy to Jerusalem, or approve the annexation of the West Bank, or attack Iran.

Standing against Israel’s enemies

Seen this way, any enemy Israel claims to have – whether the Palestinians or Iran – automatically becomes the sworn enemy of tens of millions of evangelical Christians.

Netanyahu understands the growing importance of this uncritical overseas lobby as his and Israel’s standing drops precipitously among liberal US Jews, appalled by the rightward lurch of successive governments.

In 2017, Netanyahu told a crowd of evangelicals in Washington: “When I say we have no greater friends than Christian supporters of Israel, I know you’ve always stood with us.”

For Palestinians, this is bad news. Most of these evangelicals, such as T B Joshua, are largely indifferent or hostile to the fate of the Palestinians – even Palestinian Christians, such as those in Nazareth.

A recent editorial in Haaretz noted that Netanyahu and his officials were now “endeavoring to make evangelicals – who support Israel’s hawkish rejectionism regarding the Palestinians – the sole foundation of American support for Israel.”

The truth is that these Christian Zionists view the region through a single, exclusive prism: whatever aids the imminent arrival of the Messiah is welcomed. The only issue is how soon God’s “chosen people” will congregate in the Promised Land.

If the Palestinians stand in Israel’s way, these tens of millions of foreign Christians will be quite happy to see the native population driven out once again – as they were in 1948 and 1967.

• Previously published in Middle East Eye

Hong Kong’s Poisoned Chalice

In chats about Hong Kong and the mainland, we always reached a consensus: if you want to develop you can go to the United States or back to the mainland, but there is no future in Hong Kong.  In recent years, the decline has happened with shocking speed. At handover in 1997, per capita GDP was twice Macao’s. Hong Kong’s GDP was 18 percent of China’s then; in 2013 it was three percent. Now, Macau’s is three times Hong Kong’s. In 1997, neither Beijing, Shanghai nor Guangzhou had GDPs approaching Hong Kong’s; now all are higher, as are Shenzhen’s and Tianjin’s.1

Demonstrators breaking into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Chambers

The Good Old Days

Under British rule,  Hong Kong’s public had no say in political appointment and the Governor, who was Commander in Chief of military forces, could do anything short of sentencing people to death. Wiretaps didn’t require warrants; when police denied demonstration permits the courts could only review their paperwork; the legislature was a rubber stamp and there was no political opposition. Under Communist “oppression”, the courts review police decisions for reasonableness, citizens elect their legislators, the government has a political opposition, and the Chief Executive can neither declare martial law nor call out the military. Some things haven’t changed, however: it is still illegal in Hong Kong to join the Communist Party of China.

Missing Elements

Some aspects of contemporary Hong Kong missing from our media’s coverage:

  1. As long as it controlled access to China’s gigantic market, Hong Kong flourished. Capitalism, Democracy, and British Justice had nothing to do with it.
  2. Had Hong Kong joined the mainland in 1997 its prosperity would have been assured.
  3. Before the handover the UK introduced electoral democracy, the poisoned chalice that ended the Colony’s hopes for development.
  4. When the Asian Financial Crisis crashed real estate markets Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa created the ‘85,000 Housing Development Project’ to build affordable homes and diversify the economy by building the Hong Kong Science Park and increasing investment in commerce, education, industry and tourism.
  5. Once the affordable housing units came onto the market the bourgeoisie opposed them because they affected real estate prices, the legislation voted with the bourgeoisie and the youth demonstrated in their support. Tung was vilified and thrown out.
  6. After they killed 224 people in the post-Tiananmen riots in 1989 French Intelligence, Britain’s MI6 and the CIA smuggled 600 agents out through Hong Kong to Western countries. The PRC arrested three Hong Kong-based activists but released them after intervention by the Hong Kong government.
  7. When China joined the WTO in 2001, trade bypassed Hong Kong, stagnation set in and the city’s best and brightest joined Taiwanese seeking a better life on the mainland.
  8. Hong Kong’s profile now resembles Britain’s: 23% of its children live in poverty– compared to the mainland’s 1%.
  9. Home ownership–a marriage prerequisite–fell from 53% in 2010 to 49% in 2018– compared to 78% on the mainland.
  10. Hong Kong trails only London and New York for the largest concentration of individuals worth more than $30 million.
  11. Hong Kong’s ten richest citizens account for 35% of its GDP.
  12. Hong Kong’s household GINI is 0.539, Singapore’s is 0.458 in 2016, America’s is 0.394 and the UK’s is 0.358. (0=equality).
  13. Rent for an HK ‘coffin apartment’ is HK$2,000/mo.


Hong Kong’s woes illustrate capitalism’s familiar  shortcomings: wealth accumulation has far outstripped the development of productive forces and the vast majority of citizens have no way to share its benefits. A large rentier class owns most of the city’s social resources, the same contradiction–between capital accumulation and society’s desire to live a dignified life–we confront in the US.

What do Hongkongers really need? Economic growth, employment opportunities and better housing, tasks the mainland has already accomplished. If they want a bright future Hong Kongers need to work together harder and bring their education standards up to the mainland’s. Their youth must develop a clear understanding of their true friends and real enemies.

The Protest Puzzle

The protests are interesting for several reasons:

  • They’re directed at Beijing, which does even have an extradition treaty with HK and has never requested one.
  • They’re timed (probably by the NED) to coincide with the anniversary of the handover.
  • They ignore the financial institutions and capitalists blocking legislative change.
  • Western media cover them sympathetically, almost hysterically, while ignoring real protests in Gaza, Honduras, Sudan, Yemen, and Brazil.
  • British media–which have persecuted, tortured, and incarcerated Julian Assange for non-political crimes–now urge his extradition, while trembling lest the PRC use ‘non-political crimes to prosecute critics.’
  • The UK Government has refused to sell crowd control gear to Hong Kong police.
  • Imagine how the NYPD would respond if one of their officers were assaulted like this:
  •  Or if demonstrators behaved like this: https://youtu.be/qFgE2Ardv64
  • Hong Kong police reported firing 150 tear gas canisters, several rounds of rubber bullets and 20 beanbags during the one day of serious violence, causing 72 injuries, none of which required hospitalization, and making 30 arrests.
  • French police, by contrast, fired 19,000 rubber bullets last year and 5,400 shock grenades, caused 850 serious injuries and 30 mutilations, dozens of facial and skull fractures. Twelve French demonstrators lost one eye. Including those injured by tear gas, water cannon and truncheons, the number would approach six figures, a level of repression not seen since the German Occupation.
  • French police arrested 9,000 on March 24 alone, half of whom received prison sentences–and that was before orders were issued to arrest protesters even faster.
  • The almost total Western media silence about French figures has been matched with relentless propaganda presenting their demonstrators as destructive hooligans.

The NED: Doing God’s Work

Beijing’s completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong-Mainland high-speed railway, along with the relentless decline of voter support for ‘democracy’ parties at every Hong Kong election are speeding the West’s ungraceful retreat from an Asia that never invited them. The extradition law will further erode Western influence and accelerate the political and economic integration of Hong Kong. Here are some elements of dis-integration:

  • There are 37,000 NGOs registered in Hong Kong (compared to 13,000 in Shanghai, which is four times larger), many of which receive funding from the US and Europe.
  • In March 1997 the NED sent their first survey mission to Hong Kong to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NED programming in the territory.
  • Fourteen NED survey missions had visited Hong Kong by 2012 to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NED programming.
  • In 2004, the NED found little interest among university students in activism,2 “Many critics still lament the low level of interest and activism by university students in Hong Kong”.
  • Between 1995 – 2013, HKHRM received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED.
  • Through its NDI and SC branches, NED has had close relations with other groups in Hong Kong. SC has given $540,000 to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions in the past seven years.
  • The current protest’s messaging and its associated groups raise questions about how organic the movement is:

  • Some of the groups receive significant, direct funding from the NED.
  • The Canadian and British foreign ministries have publicly thrown their weight behind the protests.
  • The protesters appeal to Western audiences, using signs in English and the hashtag “AntiExtraditionLaw”.
  • The group below is waving colonial Hong Kong flags while accusing China of colonialism.

  • Keeping Hong Kong from China has been an American priority for decades. One former CIA agent even admitted, “Hong Kong was our listening post.”
  • Seventy international NGOs have endorsed an open letter urging the bill to be killed, but signed only by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM)–all US fronts.
  • In 2018, NED granted $155,000 to SC and $200,000 to NDI for work in Hong Kong, and $90,000 to HKHRM, which is not itself a branch of NED but a partner in Hong Kong.
  • The coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, lists as organizers of the demonstrations the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.
  • Since Beijing made a big deal of NED’s influence in the 2014 Occupy protests, it is inconceivable that the current protest organizers are unaware of NED’s ties to its members. One NED official, Louisa Greve, told the Voice of America that “activists know the risks of working with NED partners” in Hong Kong.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress has “no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong is ‘sufficiently autonomous’ under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”
  • The State Department says the extradition bill could “could undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and negatively impact the territory’s long-standing protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values.”
  • Martin Lee, founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, a member organization of the Civil Human Rights Front, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who expressed support for the protests
  • Why are the protests supported by a foreign power currently carrying out a coup in Venezuela, threatening the DPRK and trying to start a war with Iran?

The Actual Amendment

The amendment would “allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that do not have long-term rendition agreements with the city,” among them mainland China and Taiwan. It was introduced when authorities found that a Hong Kong man wanted for murdering his pregnant girlfriend could not be returned to Taiwan to stand trial. Under current law, criminals from other parts of China can escape charges by fleeing to Hong Kong (imagine if Louisiana, under its Napoleonic code, refused to extradite fugitives from Texas or California for crimes committed in those states). Under the amendment the following crimes will be extraditable:

  • Aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring suicide.
  • Maliciously wounding; maiming; inflicting grievous or actual bodily harm; assault occasioning actual bodily harm; threats to kill; intentional or reckless endangering of life whether by means of a weapon, a dangerous substance or otherwise; offences relating to unlawful wounding or injuring.
  • Offences of a sexual nature including rape; sexual assault; indecent assault; unlawful sexual acts on children; statutory sexual offences.
  • Gross indecency with a child, a mental defective or an unconscious person.
  • Kidnapping; abduction; false imprisonment; unlawful confinement; dealing or trafficking in slaves or other persons; taking a hostage.
  • Criminal intimidation.
  • Offences against the law relating to dangerous drugs including narcotics, psychotropic substances, precursors and essential chemicals used in the illegal manufacture of narcotics and psychotropic substances; offences relating to the proceeds of drug trafficking.
  • Obtaining property or pecuniary advantage by deception; theft; robbery; burglary (including breaking and entering); embezzlement; blackmail; extortion; unlawful handling or receiving of property; false accounting; any other offence in respect of property or fiscal matters involving fraud; any offence against the law relating to unlawful deprivation of property.
  • Offences against bankruptcy law or insolvency law.
  • Offences against the law relating to companies including offences committed by officers, directors and promoters.
  • Offences relating to securities and futures trading.
  • Offences relating to counterfeiting; offences against the law relating to forgery or uttering what is forged.
  • Offences against the law relating to protection of intellectual property, copyrights, patents or trademarks.
  • Offences relating to bribery, corruption, secret commissions and breach of trust.
  • Perjury and subornation of perjury.
  • Offences relating to the perversion or obstruction of the course of justice.
  • Arson; criminal damage or mischief including mischief in relation to computer data.
  • Offences against the law relating to firearms.
  • Offences against the law relating to explosives.
  • Offences relating to environmental pollution or protection of public health.
  • Mutiny or any mutinous act committed on board a vessel at sea.
  • Piracy involving ships or aircraft.
  • Unlawful seizure or exercise of control of an aircraft or other means of transportation.
  • Genocide or direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
  • Facilitating or permitting the escape of a person from custody.
  • Offences against the law relating to the control of exportation or importation of goods of any type, or the international transfer of funds.
  • Smuggling; import and export of prohibited items, including historical and archaeological items.
  • Immigration offences including fraudulent acquisition or use of a passport or visa.
  • Arranging or facilitating for financial gain, the illegal entry of persons into a jurisdiction.
  • Offences relating to gambling or lotteries.
  • Offences relating to the unlawful termination of pregnancy.
  • Stealing, abandoning, exposing or unlawfully detaining a child; any other offences involving the exploitation of children.
  • Offences relating to prostitution and premises kept for the purposes of prostitution.
  • Offences involving the unlawful use of computers.
  • Offences relating to fiscal matters, taxes or duties.
  • Offences relating to unlawful escape from custody; mutiny in prison.
  • Bigamy.
  • Offences relating to women and girls.
  • Offences against the law relating to false or misleading trade descriptions.
  • Offences relating to the possession or laundering of proceeds obtained from the commission of any offence described in this Schedule.
  • Impeding the arrest or prosecution of a person who has or is believed to have committed an offence described in this Schedule.
  • Offences for which persons may be surrendered under multilateral international conventions; offences created as a result of decisions of international organizations.
  • Conspiracy to commit fraud or to defraud.
  • Conspiracy to commit, or any type of association to commit, any offence described in this Schedule.
  • Aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring the commission of, inciting, being an accessory before or after the fact to, or attempting to commit an offence described in, this Schedule.

The current spate of US-initiated wars, threats of wars, embargoes, threats of embargoes, coups, threats of coups, heavy censorship and massive propaganda, while impressive in its breadth, seems to lack strategic coherence, tactical effectiveness, credibility or effectiveness.

ABOVE: A picture circulated by CNN confirms the out of control violence of the protesters. Even CNN seems a bit confused about the Hong Kong process. The caption reads: A policeman looks at the damage and debris after protesters stormed the legislature hours before in Hong Kong early on July 2, 2019. This image was part of a subtly tendentious dispatch filed by James Griffiths on 2 July 2019.

Examine it, if you can, and see if you can spot the biases now that you read our remedial report.

  • First published at Greanville Post.
    1. See Hong Kong, Please Forget Me.

    Africa and Palestine: A Noble Legacy That Must Never Be Betrayed

    Europe’s “Scramble for Africa” began in earnest in 1881, but never ended. The attempt at dominating the continent using old and new strategies continues to define western relationship with this rich continent.

    This reality was further validated when I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on June 23. Although my objective was to address various Kenyan audiences at universities, public forums and the media, I also came here to learn. Kenya, like the rest of Africa, is a source of inspiration for all anti-colonial, liberation movements around the world. We, Palestinians, can learn a great deal from the Kenyan struggle.

    Although African countries have fought valiant battles for their freedom against their western colonizers, neocolonialism now defines the relationship between many independent African countries and their former occupiers. Political meddling, economic control and, at times, military interventions, as in the recent cases of Libya and Mali, point to the unfortunate reality that Africa remains, in myriad ways, hostage to western priorities, interests and dictates.

    In the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884, western colonial regimes attempted to mediate among the various powers that were competing over Africa’s largesse. It assigned each with a share of the African continent, as if Africa was the property of the west and its white colonists. Millions of Africans died in that protracted, bloody episode unleashed by the west which, shamelessly, promoted its genocidal oppression as a civilizational project.

    Like most colonized countries in the Southern hemisphere, Africans fought disproportionate battles to gain their precious freedom. Here in Kenya, which became an official British colony in the 1920s, Kenya’s freedom fighters rose in rebellion against the brutality of their oppressors. Most notable among the various resistance campaigns, the “Mau Mau” rebellion of the 1950s remains a stark example of the courage of Kenyans and the cruelty of colonial Britain. Thousands of people were killed, wounded, disappeared or were imprisoned under the harshest of conditions.

    Palestine fell under Brtish occupation, the so-called British Mandate, around the period that Kenya also became a British colony. Palestinians, too, fought and fell in their thousands as they employed various methods of collective resistance, including the legendary strike and rebellion of 1936.

    The same British killing machine that operated in Palestine and Kenya around that time, also operated, with the same degree of senseless violence, against numerous other nations around the world.

    While Palestine was handed over to the Zionist Movement to establish the State of Israel in May 1948, Kenya achieved its indepedence in December 1963.

    At one of my recent talks in Nairobi, I was asked by a young participant about “Palestinian terrorism”. I told her that Palestinian fighters of today are Kenya’s “Mau Mau” rebels of yesteryear. That, if we allow western and Israeli propaganda to define the discourse of national liberation on Palestine, then we condemn all national liberation movements throughout the Southern hemisphere, including Kenya’s own freedom fighters.

    We, Palestinians, however, must shoulder part of the blame of why our narrative as an oppressed, colonized and resisting nation is now misunderstood in parts of Africa

    When the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) committed its historical blunder by signing off Palestinian rights in Oslo in 1993, it abandoned a decades-long Palestinian discourse of resistance and liberation. Instead, it subscribed to a whole new discourse, riddled with carefully-worded language sanctioned by Washington and its European allies. Whenever Palestinians dared to deviate from their assigned role, they were decreed by the west to return to the negotiating table,” as the latter became a metaphor of obedience and submission.

    Throughout these years, Palestinians mostly abandoned their far more meaningful alliances in Africa. Instead, they endlessly appealed to the goodwill of the west, hoping that the very colonial powers that have primarily created, sustained and armed Israel, would miraculously become more balanced and humane.

    However, Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, etc., remained committed to Israel and, despite occasional polite criticism of the Israeli government, continued to channel their weapons, warplanes and submarines to every Israeli government that has ruled over Palestinians for the last seven decades.

    Alas, while Palestinians were learning their painful lesson, betrayed repeatedly by those who avowed to respect democracy and human rights, many African nations began seeing in Israel a possible ally. Kenya is, sadly, one of those countries.

    Understanding the significance of Africa in terms of its economic and political potential (support for Israel at the UN General Assembly), right wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has launched his own “Scramble for Africa”. Netanyahu’s diplomatic conquests on the continent have been celebrated by Israeli media as “historic”, while the Palestinian leadership remained oblivious to the rapidly changing political landscape.

    Kenya is one of Israel’s success stories. In November 2017, Netanyahu attended the inauguration of Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who supposedly received an astonishing 98% of votes in the last elections. While Kenyans rose in rebellion against their corrupt ruling classes, Netanyahu was seen embracing Kenyatta as a dear friend and ally.

    Netanyahu’s strategy in Kenya – and the rest of Africa – has been based on the same logic, where Israel would use its security technology to support corrupt and undemocratic regimes, in exchange for their political support.

    Tel Aviv had hoped that the first-ever Israel-Africa summit in Togo would usher in a complete paradigm shift in Israeli-African relations. However, the October 2017 conference never actualized, due to pressure by various African countries, including South Africa. There is still enough support for Palestine on the continent to defeat Israeli stratagem. But that could change soon in favor of Israel, if Palestinians and their allies do not wake up to the alarming reality.

    The Palestinian leadership, intellectuals, artists and civil society ambassadors must shift their attention back to the Southern hemisphere – Africa, in particular – rediscovering the untapped wealth of true, unconditional human solidarity that is provided by the peoples of this ever-generous continent.

    The legendary Tanzanian freedom fighter, Mwalimu Nyerere – who is also celebrated in Kenya – knew too well where his solidarity lay. “We have never hesitated in our support for the right of the people of Palestine to have their own land,” he once said, a sentiment that was repeated by the iconic late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, and many other African liberation leaders.

    This generation of African leaders should not deviate from that noble legacy. If they betray it, they betray themselves, along with the righteous struggles of their own peoples.

    Canada enables corrupt Haitian president to remain in power

    At the front of a protest against Haiti’s president last week a demonstrator carried a large wooden cross bearing the flags of Canada, France and the US. The Haiti Information Project tweeted that protesters “see these three nations as propping up the regime of President Jovenel Moïse. It is also recognition of their role in the 2004 coup.”

    Almost entirely ignored by the Canadian media, Haitian protesters regularly criticize Canada. On dozens of occasions since Jean Bertrand Aristide’s government was overthrown in 2004 marchers have held signs criticizing Canadian policy or rallied in front of the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. For their part, Haiti Progrès and Haiti Liberté newspapers have described Canada as an “occupying force”, “coup supporter” or “imperialist” at least a hundred times.

    In the face of months of popular protest, Canada remains hostile to the protesters who represent the impoverished majority. A recent corruption investigation by Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes has rekindled the movement to oust the Canadian-backed president. The report into the Petrocaribe Fund accuses Moïse’s companies of swindling $2 million of public money. Two billion dollars from a discounted oil program set up by Venezuela was pilfered under the presidency of Moïse’s mentor Michel Martelly.

    Since last summer there have been numerous protests, including a weeklong general strike in February, demanding accountability for public funds. Port-au-Prince was again paralyzed during much of last week. In fact, the only reason Moïse — whose electoral legitimacy is paper thin — is hanging on is because of support from the so-called “Core Group” of “Friends of Haiti”.

    Comprising the ambassadors of Canada, France, Brazil, Germany and the US, as well as representatives of Spain, EU and OAS, the “Core Group” released another statement effectively backing Moise. The brief declaration called for “a broad national debate, without preconditions”, which is a position Canadian officials have expressed repeatedly in recent weeks. (The contrast with Canada’s position regarding Venezuela’s president reveals a stunning hypocrisy.) But, the opposition has explicitly rejected negotiating with Moïse since it effectively amounts to abandoning protest and bargaining with a corrupt and illegitimate president few in Haiti back.

    In another indication of the “Core Group’s” political orientation, their May 30 statement “condemned the acts of degradation committed against the Senate.” Early that day a handful of opposition senators dragged out some furniture and placed it on the lawn of Parliament in a bid to block the ratification of the interim prime minister. Canada’s Ambassador André Frenette also tweeted that “Canada condemns the acts of vandalism in the Senate this morning. This deplorable event goes against democratic principles.” But, Frenette and the “Core Group” didn’t tweet or release a statement about the recent murder of journalist Pétion Rospide, who’d been reporting on corruption and police violence. Nor did they mention the commission that found Moïse responsible for stealing public funds or the recent UN report confirming government involvement in a terrible massacre in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline in mid-November. Recent Canadian and “Core Group” statements completely ignore Moise’s electoral illegitimacy and downplay the enormity of the corruption and violence against protesters.

    Worse still, Canadian officials regularly promote and applaud a police force that has been responsible for many abuses. As I detailed in a November story headlined “Canada backs Haitian government, even as police force kills demonstrators”, Frenette attended a half dozen Haitian police events in his first year as ambassador. Canadian officials continue to attend police ceremonies, including one in March, and offer financial and technical support to the police. Much to the delight of the country’s über class-conscious elite, Ottawa has taken the lead in strengthening the repressive arm of the Haitian state since Aristide’s ouster.

    On Wednesday Frenette tweeted, “one of the best parts of my job is attending medal ceremonies for Canadian police officers who are known for their excellent work with the UN police contingent in Haiti.” RCMP officer Serge Therriault leads the 1,200-person police component of the Mission des Nations unies pour l’appui à la Justice en Haïti (MINUJUSTH).

    At the end of May Canada’s ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard led a United Nations Economic and Social Council delegation to Haiti. Upon his return to New York he proposed creating a “robust” mission to continue MINUJUSTH’s work after its planned conclusion in mid-October. Canadian officials are leading the push to extend the 15-year old UN occupation that took over from the US, French and Canadian troops that overthrew Aristide’s government and was responsible for introducing cholera to the country, which has killed over 10,000.

    While Haitians regularly challenge Canadian policy, few in this country raise objections. In response to US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s recent expression of solidarity with Haitian protesters, Jean Saint-Vil put out a call titled “OH CANADA, TIME TO BE WOKE LIKE ILHAN OMAR & MAXINE WATERS!” The Haitian Canadian activist wrote:

    While, in Canada, the black population is taken for granted by major political parties who make no effort to adjust Canadian Foreign policies towards African nations, Haiti and other African-populated nations of the Caribbean, where the Euro-Americans topple democratically-elected leaders, help set up corrupt narco regimes that are friendly to corrupt Canadian mining companies that go wild, exploiting the most impoverished and blackest among us, destroying our environments in full impunity… In the US, some powerful voices have arisen to counter the mainstream covert and/or overt white supremacist agenda. Time for REAL CHANGE in Canada! The Wine & Cheese sessions must end! We eagerly await the statements of Canadian party leaders about the much needed change in Canadian Policy towards Haiti. You will have to deserve our votes, this time around folks!

    Unfortunately, Canadian foreign policymakers — the Liberal party in particular — have co-opted/pacified most prominent black voices on Haiti and other international issues. On Monday famed Haitian-Canadian novelist Dany Laferrière attended a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Port-au-Prince while the head of Montréal’s Maison d’Haïti, Marjorie Villefranche, says nary a word about Canadian imperialism in Haiti. A little discussed reason Paul Martin’s government appointed Michaëlle Jean Governor General in September 2005 was to dampen growing opposition to Canada’s coup policy among working class Haitian-Montrealers.

    Outside the Haitian community Liberal-aligned groups have also offered little solidarity. A look at the Federation of Black Canadians website and statements uncovers nothing about Canada undermining a country that dealt a massive blow to slavery and white supremacy. (Members of the group’s steering committee recently found time, however, to meet with and then attend a gala put on by the anti-Palestinian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.)

    A few months ago, Saint-Vil proposed creating a Canadian equivalent to the venerable Washington, D.C. based TransAfrica, which confronts US policy in Africa and the Caribbean. A look at Canadian policy from the Congo to Venezuela, Burkina Faso to Tanzania, suggests the need is great. Anyone seeking to amplify the voices from the streets of Port-au-Prince should support such an initiative.

    Kushner as a Colonial Administrator

    In a TV interview on June 2, on the news docuseries “Axios” on the HBO channel, Jared Kushner opened up regarding many issues, in which his ‘Deal of the Century’ was a prime focus.

    The major revelation made by Kushner, President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, was least surprising. Kushner believes that Palestinians are not capable of governing themselves.

    Not surprising, because Kushner thinks he is capable of arranging the future of the Palestinian people without the inclusion of the Palestinian leadership. He has been pushing his so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ relentlessly, while including in his various meets and conferences countries such as Poland, Brazil and Croatia, but not Palestine.

    Indeed, this is what transpired at the Warsaw conference on ‘peace and security’ in the Middle East. The same charade, also led by Kushner, is expected to be rebooted in Bahrain on June 25.

    Much has been said about the subtle racism in Kushner’s words, reeking with the stench of old colonial discourses where the natives were seen as lesser, incapable of rational thinking beings who needed the civilized ‘whites’ of the western hemisphere to help them cope with their backwardness and inherent incompetence.

    Kushner, whose credentials are merely based on his familial connections to Trump and family friendship with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is now poised to be the colonial administrator of old, making and enforcing the law while the hapless natives have no other option but to either accommodate or receive their due punishment.

    This is not an exaggeration. In fact, according to leaked information concerning Kushner’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ and published in the Israeli daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, if Palestinian groups refuse to accept the US-Israeli diktats, “the US will cancel all financial support to the Palestinians and ensure that no country transfers funds to them.”

    In the HBO interview, Kushner offered the Palestinians a lifeline. They could be considered capable of governing themselves should they manage to achieve the following: “a fair judicial system … freedom of the press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions.”

    The fact that Palestine is an occupied country, subject in every possible way to Israel’s military law, and that Israel has never been held accountable for its 52-year occupation seems to be of no relevance whatsoever, as far as Kushner is concerned.

    On the contrary, the subtext in all of what Kushner has said in the interview is that Israel is the antithesis to the unquestionable Palestinian failure. Unlike Palestine, Israel needs to do little to demonstrate its ability to be a worthy peace partner.

    While the term ‘US bias towards Israel’ is as old as the state of Israel itself, what is hardly discussed are the specifics of that bias, the decidedly condescending, patronizing and, often, racist view that US political classes have of Palestinians – and all Arabs and Muslims, for that matter; and the utter infatuation with Israel, which is often cited as a model for democracy, judicial transparency and successful ‘anti-terror’ tactics.

    According to Kushner a ‘fair judicial system’ is a conditio sine qua non to determine a country’s ability to govern itself. But is the Israeli judicial system “fair” and “democratic”?

    Israel does not have a single judicial system, but two. This duality has, in fact, defined Israeli courts from the very inception of Israel in 1948. This de facto apartheid system openly differentiates between Jews and Arabs, a fact that is true in both civil and criminal law.

    “Criminal law is applied separately and unequally in the West Bank, based on nationality alone (Israeli versus Palestinian), inventively weaving its way around the contours of international law in order to preserve and develop its ‘(illegal Jewish) settlement enterprise’,” Israeli scholar, Emily Omer-Man, explained in her essay ‘Separate and Unequal’.

    In practice, Palestinians and Israelis who commit the exact same crime will be judged according to two different systems, with two different procedures: “The settler will be processed according to the Israeli Penal Code (while) the Palestinian will be processed according to military order.”

    This unfairness is constituent of a massively unjust judicial apparatus that has defined the Israeli legal system from the onset. Take the measure of administrative detention as an example. Palestinians can be held without trial and without any stated legal justification. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been subjected to this undemocratic ‘law’ and hundreds of them are currently held in Israeli jails.

    It is ironic that Kushner raised the issue of freedom of the press, in particular, as Israel is being derided for its dismal record in that regard. Israel has reportedly committed 811 violations against Palestinian journalists since the start of the ‘March of Return’ in Gaza in March 2018. Two journalists – Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein – were killed and 155 were wounded by Israeli snipers.

    Like the imbalanced Israeli judicial system, targeting the press is also a part of a protracted pattern. According to a press release issued by the Palestinian Journalists Union last May, Israel has killed 102 Palestinian journalists since 1972.

    The fact that Palestinian intellectuals, poets and activists have been imprisoned for Facebook and other social media posts should tell us volumes about the limits of Israel’s freedom of press and expression.

    It is also worth mentioning that in June 2018, the Israeli Knesset voted for a bill that prohibits the filming of Israeli soldiers as a way to mask their crimes and shelter them from any future legal accountability.

    As for freedom of religion, despite its many shortcomings, the Palestinian Authority hardly discriminates against religious minorities. The same cannot be said about Israel.

    Although discrimination against non-Jews in Israel has been the raison d’être of the very idea of Israel, the Nation-State Law of July 2018 further cemented the superiority of the Jews and inferior status of everyone else.

    According to the new Basic Law, Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people” only and “the right to exercise national self-determination is unique to the Jewish people.”

    Palestinians do not need to be lectured on how to meet Israeli and American expectations, nor should they ever aspire to imitate the undemocratic Israeli model. What they urgently need, instead, is international solidarity to help them win the fight against Israeli occupation, racism and apartheid.

    A New Volkisch Mythos

    Greta is able to see what other people cannot see.  She can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye. She sees how it flows out of chimneys and and changes the atmosphere in a landfill.

    — Malena Ernman, Scenes from the heart. Our life for the climate (mother of Greta Thunberg),May 3, 2019

    If you want to be more ecologically minded, good for you. But don’t be under the bizarre American illusion that your individual action is a substitute for collective action, for systemic change.

    — Umair Haque, Medium, May 2019

    A psychotic world we live in. The madmen are in power. How long have we known this?

    — Phillip K. Dick, Man in the High Castle, January 24, 2012

    There is a clear problem with most environmental discussions or debates. The problem is, in short form, a lack of class analysis.

    This is most evident in the manufacturing of the overpopulation argument. But it is prevalent in nearly all discussions about global warming or rising sea levels or most anything relating to planetary ecology, really.

    What is bothersome here is that the voices I am hearing warning of mankind’s immanent demise are mostly ruling class voices.

    Richard Leakey says:

    I am increasingly convinced that in the tropics, and particularly in the poorer nations, protecting nature everywhere is an effort with diminishing returns. I believe that protected areas (that is areas of land set aside by governments and governed by national statutes) such as national parks and national forests are the best targets if nature is to be protected.

    So give up on the poor, can’t save them.

    And Leakey goes on:

    Whilst state-owned wildlife land, designated as national parks, is vital, in some countries private land may also be secured by state laws that allow for private ownership of title. Thus an individual can use such land for wildlife and nature protection for the duration of the term of the title and this can be equally as secure as a national park.

    Okay, so create spaces for the rich to be safe from the restive natives.

    And finally Leakey writes:

    Not all countries have constitutional provision for private ownership of land, and instead occupancy and land use are regulated by lease hold. In respect to conservation, this is certainly a better option than group-owned or community-owned land where in time wildlife could be untenable given governance arrangements on community-owned assets.

    As a general trend what I am hearing is the validation of what amounts to royalist wisdom and the dangers of community control of anything. The message is ‘we can’t risk it, the danger is so extreme that the practical solution is to allow the elite class to control the planet in order to save it.’ The elites and/or corporate control. All the so-called New Green Dealsolutions are there, it seems, to save capitalism before saving the planet.

    Now, one of the curious contradictions in the climate discourse is the selective trust in certain institutions. The western based (and funded) NGOs have a pretty long track record now of craven support for U.S. government foreign policy decisions. Take Amnesty International’s (AI) recent comments on Venezuela.

    Chuck Kauffman from Alliance for Global Justice observed vis a vis AI’s near fascistic litany of lies: “They don’t seem to even care about their credibility anymore.” The open naked Imperialist aggression against Venezuela, and the attendant propaganda slandering Maduro, is now a staple of all the candidates for the Democratic Party. And, Amnesty is also co founder of Global Campaign for Climate Action…a group that also receives monies from the Pew trust, the creepy AVAAZ, the World Wildlife Fund, and Union of Concerned Scientists. Now, just a quick word on the UCS. On the board sits William K. Reilly, former appointee by George Bush to head the environmental protection agency. There are also members that sit on the Council for Foreign Relations, a nuclear scientist who writes on security issues, a lawyer for the US Dept. of Energy.

    And yet, many people rightly concerned about global pollution and over industrialization seem to have no problem accepting the word of these same western backed NGOs when it comes to issues of ecology. They know Amnesty lies, but if the topic is climate change, they leap onboard. Clive Splash (He currently holds the Chair of Public Policy and Governance at Vienna University of Economics and Business, appointed in 2010. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Environmental Values) writes:

    The existing institutions of modern economies are those supporting economic growth. The growth priority has been made clear by the over 3500 economists supporting a climate tax and opposing structural change. Similarly, Lord Stern is the academic figure head of the New Climate Economy, a concept created by members of the Davos elite, with its ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’ reports. Their explicitly stated concern is that: “In the long term, if climate change is not tackled, growth itself will be at risk.” Change is coming and the corporations and billionaires are fully aware of this. They have been actively lobbying on climate and environment since Johannesburg (Earth Summit 2002) and were a dominant force at Paris. They have also long been seeking to control the environmental movement for their own ends.

    Again, we hear that echo of the ruling class (Lord ….LORD Stern?!) and the anti communist agenda at work here. Leave it to the elite class, the captains of Capital, to decide policy. And the first order of business is to save capitalism and that means to save growth. The poor are there to be slaves, not to decide policy. What one sees in Extinction Rebellion and in the Greta Thunberg brand is described pithily by Clive Splash…”When hegemonic power is threatened it captures the movement leaders and neutralises them by bringing them into the power circles and takes the initiative away from radical revolutionary change.”

    One of the refrains I have heard (and have had directed at me) is, well, we can’t wait for socialism. This is a natural response from a very frightened populace. And it is exactly this response that the ruling class counts on. The infiltration of radical movements has a long sordid history. Ask the Black Panthers. Today the very real threats and dangers of global warming and over-industrialization are being funneled into places that shift the blame from the ruling two or three percent and onto its victims. This is, of course, exactly what the overpopulation alarm does. I see headlines such as *Humans Plunder the Planet* but not *Ruling Class Plundering Humanity AND the Planet*. I see books such as Climategeddon — amusingly penned by a former author of diet self help books and…wait for it….a high ranking Scientologist. But I have had people quote Wollersheim to me. Next stop the Sea Org.
    More trenchant was this week’s bit of Imperialist green concern from war friendly candidate Elizabeth Warren, who expressed worry that global warming might effect the readiness of America’s military. (death of irony moment?) On twitter Club de Cordeliers noted…

    Under Warren’s proposal, each murdered child will be stamped with the slogan: This Killing Achieved with Net Zero Carbon Emissions.

    That the U.S. military is the greatest consumer of petroleum products worldwide seems beside the point. Or, let’s return briefly to Greta Thunberg — who can probably just be referred to as *Greta* these days without risk of confusion. She held up a cute homemade sign for a selfie …tweeting it to jillions of followers. The sign read ‘Let Russia Strike for Climate’. Apparently the *Greta* is getting good advice from Hillary Clinton or Bolton or Elliot Abrams, someone — who knows. She is certainly to be considered *NATO friendly* at this point. The visibility that Elizabeth Warren commands, and that which Greta commands now, too, is an indication that one should be highly credulous. The giant electronic telecom giants and the mainstream electronic media, social media, TV, all of it is in the hands of a relatively few people. These narratives, all of them, are vetted for ideological compliance with corporatism, Imperialism, and a de-facto racism or better put, white supremacy. Visibility is earned, and it’s not arbitrary. And if a *Greta* suddenly appears, rest assured she has handlers. I mean, it’s simply a given, and there are no exceptions.

    So there are several problems looming that tangentially connect to overpopulation alarms. One of them is a recolonizing of Africa (and the recolonizing of former communist countries continues apace, as well). But here Africa, in particular, is viewed as a huge resource for raw materials sought after in the West. The re-colonizing takes several forms but here is a typical example.

    As Cory Morningstar observed vis a vis this …“Can you imagine @WWF promoting the sterilization of women living around national parks in Europe or the US? The fact they consider it acceptable in India and Africa is racism, pure and simple.”

    The white west (and Bill and Melinda Gates leading the charge) are rather unapologetically determined to stop the global south from reproducing. Sterilization and vasectomy suggestions (voluntary, of course) are to be found in countless U.N. sponsored (and USAID sponsored) pamphlets and directives for missions in Africa.

    The new alarmist propaganda tends toward sensationalizing what are a few basic truths, sometimes half truths, and building a sort of screenplay to a disaster movie out of these. The influence of Hollywood apocalyptic film and TV cannot be over-emphasized, actually. For those films are both unconscious projections of the ruling class, and the audience embrace of this stuff speaks to unconscious fears as well. The elite producers of this crap fear the marauding masses (zombies) and the bourgeois audience fear black sites and Bloody Gina’s reprisals if they stray too far off message (like voting for a third party). A good deal of the new environmental panic is not based on the actual (and I hasten to emphasize real) problems and crises, but are more the conditioned response from audiences trained for thirty years, at least, to kitsch media entertainments. People see life unfold like an action movie. Sea levels can’t just rise and destroy infrastructure and crops, wash away beach front property, no, they have to completely submerge Baltimore, Oslo, and London. The sum effect of this is actually to have the real and severe problems in retreat.

    Watch Madonna’s Eurovision performance (in Israel where she was never not going to perform), with lyrics like “not everyone is coming to the future, not everyone is gonna last.”

    There is now coming out of Hollywood a near endless stream of dystopian ‘end of times’ films, which (as I have noted before) are reconstruction fables as well. But now the end of times includes the rehabilitation of Big Brother. The state emerges as a sort of necessary mechanism for culling the herd. Madonna was also sporting blond plaited hair and an eye patch. So maybe it’s just me but this new volkish imagery is growing and being used in ways that familiarize the public with fascist motifs.

    Thus, when we are talking about “völkisch” or “Überfremdung,” we are automatically producing images that are inevitably linked to a fascist past. “Überfremdung” describes the fear of being flooded with foreigners, a foreign infiltration. The Duden dictionary explained the term in 1934 as “the intrusion of alien races.” ( ) What is concerning about these “poor words” in the first place is the imagery inherent to them, one that conveys fascism without speaking it. Such words are racist in establishing a hierarchy of ethnicity and, in that way, they have the potential to createm or exacerbate, false divisions between and within societies. The word “völkisch” creates a sense of belonging, an imaginal feature to help distinguish between the in-group and the out-group. The word “Überfremdung” works similarly by implying that there is an abundance of strangers invading the ‘German race.’ What seems to have changed, however, is the definition of the out-group or the enemy. Promoted by PEGIDA and the AfD, the new threat are Muslim immigrants and the idea of the “Islamization” of the Western culture. Thus, this becomes a powerful example for the political myth of the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.

    — Alexa Lenz, Public Seminar, July 14, 2017

    The ideological road to National Socialism was paved not by Nietzschean self-awareness and self-overcoming, but by völkisch self-congratulation.

    Roderick Stackelberg, Idealism Debased: From Volkisch Ideology to National Socialism, March 1, 1981

    The first volley in the reclamation of volkish language was Bush’s use of the word “Homeland” when he created a new security service. Quite a few people noticed the connection to the German word Heimat. The far right parties in Europe now appropriate a good deal of Nazi symbology, while the even more virulent racism of a Macron (or Sarkozy) is ignored. PEGIDA and the AfD, in Germany, are really pretty much openly using Nazi rhetoric and symbol (both of which are technically against the law).

    Cassirer (1973) analyzed three potential techniques that enabled the myth of Nazism: the magical use of words, the use of rituals and, finally, the recourse to prophecy. Nazi politicians managed to charge words with feelings and violent passions, therefore transforming their semantic meaning to convey magical imagery.

    —Alexa Lenz, (Ibid.)

    I will only add here, as a sort of thought experiment, that one compare the TIME magazine cover of Greta, with the photos in, what Remco Ensel, in an excellent monograph on the Dutch “Heimat” portrait photography called *Dutch Face-ism”, an expression of Völkisch Nationalism circa WW2 and tell me there is no equivalence. (or the VICE lead photo, or even Greta’s facebook portrait).

    Now I know there are many people who will perceive this as an attack on Greta. It’s not. I am certain this young woman has almost zero awareness of any of the implications of her exploitation. And remember, too, that one of the most common rhetorical tactics of fascist apologetics (pretending to be liberal) is to re-state your argument incorrectly and then to respond to their manufactured distortion. It’s a version of straw man arguing. Couple this with the convenient appellation *denier*. If you say, wait, there were no rape camps in Serbia. You are immediately labeled a denier. It matters not at all that you would be correct in saying this. The corporate ruling class take-over of many green movements has a sum effect of reducing rights. For that is the logic of fascism. Remove rights but create space for the self expression of resentments. Property rights will remain untouched.

    The opportunistic proprietor class capitalist sees enormous profit in Green endeavours now. Just as Mike Pompeo sees melting arctic ice as an “opportunity”. Never underestimate the capacity for brutish insensitivity in the lower functioning humanoids that serve as representatives of the ruling elite. It is bottomless, in fact. Bolton, Pompeo, Abrams, Kushner, Biden…this is the Troglodyte political class.

    Brian Davey wrote about Thunberg, vis a vis her appearance in Katowice at a climate gathering:

    What’s more it is richest 5% of the planet that consume 50% of planetary carbon – so the very people who are promoting this campaign must cut back the most. Instead they want to expand the economy. But how is this to be made compatible with reducing carbon emissions?

    It isn’t – but a careful looks at the language of nature financialisation refers to carbon neutrality, not zero carbon. This is “convenient language when one of the main pillars of the business model is the sale of carbon offsets – rationalizing a continuance of the same carbon based lifestyle by constructing a faux fantasy one, that anyone with monetary wealth, can buy into.

    — Brian Davey, Credo; Economic Beliefs in a World in Crises, January 2015

    This is a bit like buying indulgences in the Medieval Catholic Church. So perhaps what is needed is a Martin Luther of environmentalism.

    The ruling class and its marketing apparatus recognized early on that Green language would serve as cover while they re-tooled their industries. Green took on those magical connotations. Cut to Greta’s mother explaining that her daughter was *different*; i.e. magical. She could *see* carbon dioxide. Trust me there will be green Angels, soon, helping further carbon neutrality.

    But there is another issue cutting across much of this, and that is a strange new war on children (and on motherhood in the global south, and black mothers in the U.S.). Although *new* is the wrong word. Whether by design of just as a natural tendency in the residual Puritans of America, the media message has been of late to normalize cruelty to children. From tearing babies from the arms of immigrant mothers and dropping them into cages, or the arrest of suspension of due process in Israeli arrests of children and youth, to the spike in jail time for minors across the U.S. In the 1990s, incarceration of minors rose 311 %.

    Across the United States, thousands of children have been sentenced as adults and sent to adult prisons. Children as young as eight have been prosecuted as adults { } Some 10,000 children are housed in adult jails and prisons on any given day in America. Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities and face increased risk of suicide.

    —Equal Justice Initative, Children in Prison 2018

    The rates for youth have declined slightly over the last few years but mostly due to teenagers aging out of the statistics. That ANY child was ever tried as an adult is all by itself a horror. In the U.S. infants born to black mothers die at twice the rate of those born to white mothers. Poverty is the obvious first reason, but structural racism…the stress of increased contact with the criminal justice system also undermines the health of the newborn.

    67 percent of black women who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. So the majority of black women and girls are not incarcerated for violent offenses…( ) There’s a large percentage of women who are single mothers. I’m fortunate to have a significant other that supports me and supported me when I was behind the walls. But most women don’t have that. So they’re forced to take care of their children alone. And so when you’re forced to take care of your children alone, you don’t have the type of credentials that you need in order to access a job that’s a livable wage. And that’s the type of wages that you can take your family on vacations, and enroll your kids in extracurricular activities, you tend to find some non-traditional ways to make money.”“67 percent of black women who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. So the majority of black women and girls are not incarcerated for violent offenses…( ) There’s a large percentage of women who are single mothers. I’m fortunate to have a significant other that supports me and supported me when I was behind the walls. But most women don’t have that. So they’re forced to take care of their children alone. And so when you’re forced to take care of your children alone, you don’t have the type of credentials that you need in order to access a job that’s a livable wage. And that’s the type of wages that you can take your family on vacations, and enroll your kids in extracurricular activities, you tend to find some non-traditional ways to make money.

    — Nicole Hanson, Rattling the Bars, Real News Network

    Neglect is often considered to be a failure, on the part of a caretaker, to provide adequate supervision, emotional nurturance, appropriate medical care, food, clothing, and shelter for a child. This definition also aligns with a definition of poverty, where poverty is considered to be inadequate food, shelter, and clothing.

    — Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014

    Child neglect is then, almost by definition, synonymous with poverty. Those damn poor people just can’t take care of their kids. And yet they breed so much, ya know? Maybe it wouldn’t be such a darn bad thing if we clipped the men…know what I’m saying, Earl?

    In fact, one of the side bar implications in Melinda Gates programs is to strongly associate pregnancy with disease (not for rich white people, of course). And the overpopulation argument feeds in this directly.

    There is not enough space to even scratch the surface here to list the inequalities operative in racial hierarchies in the U.S. What is important here to start to recognize the codes at work. Walter Benjamin famously said that “The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.” But more importantly, at the end of that same essay (Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) he added…

    Its (mankind) self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.

    Capitalism has abandoned humanity. A shamefully neglected infrastructure has exacerbated the effects of global warming. The loss of jobs, mostly to robots, engenders confusion and anxiety, but also deep resentment. And we are well past the time when anyone thinks robots provide superior service. The need to keep escalating conflict, both at home with a militarized and racist police apparatus, and abroad via a gargantuan military whose size defies all rational comprehension. The suffering inflicted on the world by the U.S. and its proxies (Saudi Arabia, Israel primarily) is so enormous that it is hard to grasp it in its totality. And this confusion breeds reaction. The confusion seems not, however, to breed questioning.

    When capitalism reaches its point of diminishing return, it deliberately creates a crisis or an appearance of a crisis in order to stage a ritual of a rebirth. The crisis is designed to corner everyone to rely on the capitalist framework for survival. This functions to divide people into two groups: a group which sees through the mechanism and a group that insists on solving the “crisis” no matter how (meaning solving it according to the acceptable ways). The establishment destroys the anti-capitalist momentum while co-opting dissident voices, giving them credentials, awards, positions in the hierarchy. The process eliminates enemies while augmenting the capitalist hierarchy.

    — Hiroyuki Hamada (in conversation with me)

    The real problems of ocean acidification, plastic pollution of those same seas, and the endless over production of certain crops that destroy land and poison pollinating insects, these problems are simply the result of needless and pointless industrial growth, a growth that has no rational need driving it. Hunger exists in a world of surplus food. The engine is maximizing profit. And why do so many people seem to just reflexively trust *science*? Trust without even a cursory check on who funds the study, or the institution. And the manufacture of fear is a staple of the ruling class. Fear of germs (from Asia or Africa, of course), or asteroids, or the ignoring of obvious testing failures which goes back to thalidomide. That and the very imperfect world of statistical analysis (see Harvard and Yale sociologists circa 1986 and the spinster’s beware warning) etc. The point is only that while it is clear global warming and pollution present enormous challenges, ones that may change the way nearly everyone on the planet lives, there is also clarity that a crises in Capitalism is forcing an increasing propaganda machine to validate the class hierarchies, and which is rehabilitating the most obscene thinking of the colonial and Victorian era. People are being indoctrinated to experience domination as salutary. Junk science abounds everywhere (facial recognition anyone? blood splatter?) but when it comes to climate and Green issues the bourgeois populace simply does not want to hear it. Which leads me to the idea of a cultic group think going on. And maybe this is tied into the acute narcissism of the boomers. Because just anecdotally my experience is that they WANT disaster. It provides self importance. They demand action and responsibility, but the most dire warnings are received with a barely suppressed pleasure.

    The liberal white American today cannot tolerate the world going on around them with people they have been trained to see as inferior. Fear of the dark skinned global south (I mean Melinda Gates actually has a brochure in one of her projects to teach African women how to hold their baby, because I guess, you know, that’s something they clearly don’t know about), they fear the numbers, they fear fecundity (something that has dropped precipitously in the advanced West), they fear being in close proximity to the poor, the ‘other’ (migration), and they fear exposing their children to this ‘threat’, most of all. Consider that there is a huge movement on the right to ban abortion. And yet, largely, these same people are thrilled with Bill and Melinda Gates work to stop African reproduction. So it’s clearly not too many people, it’s just too many black people.

    The new Volkish body politic is conflating global warming and the poor.

    …the “longing for myth” reflected the pervasive experience of “dislocation and disorientation” precipitated by industrialization, revolution, and the dissolution of community values in the abstract conception of secular society, compounded by the fragmentation of German society “along confessional, social, and territorial lines”; the splintering of traditional social and cultural bonds gave rise to the desire for an “aesthetic-religious imagery” that would “unite modern society just as Greek mythology had supposedly once united the polis.

    — Nicholas Huzsvai (honors thesis, unpublished)

    Over two million people languish in nightmarish prisons in the U.S. Most for non violent crimes. And today the target is increasingly children and women of colour. But people respond with arguments of distraction, just as they are narcotized by screen distractions. The children not targeted for jail are given anti depressants.

    And Gabor Mate has written (following Robert Bly) that fathers and mothers both today work twice as long and with less security and for less money than they did three generations ago.

    Quite the opposite is true now. Far from being helped, working women are actively penalized if they wish to extend the time they are at home caring for their children. For men, it is not even considered reasonable to think of “interrupting” their careers in order to share in that process. Society does little to establish expert and compassionate day care for those children during whose early years the parent(s), for one reason or another, cannot avoid the necessity of working outside the home. Poor women, especially in the U.S., are economically terrorized by the welfare system into entrusting their infants to appallingly inadequate care situations, and then must spend hours daily traveling to low-paying jobs that barely allow their families a subsistence income.

    — Gabor Maté, Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder,

    Leading to what Bly called “the rage of the unparented”. This is America, then, today. Children are targeted by law enforcement — think of the use of gang injunctions, prop 21 in California — which, again, allowed for minors to be sentenced as adults. California has, in fact, been the leading laboratory for terrorizing youth.

    The collateral consequences of an adult conviction are severe. An adult criminal conviction stays on a youth’s permanent record, which can prevent him or her from voting, securing housing, getting financial aid or public benefits, and finding a job. Further, the juvenile justice system is intended to be rehabilitative, whereas the adult criminal system is not. Youth tried in adult court lose the opportunity to access many of treatment and rehabilitative options available in the juvenile system.

    — National Center for Youth Law

    Poor women, and particularly black and latino women, have been zeroed in on by the justice system and now are the fastest growing segment of the carceral state. Their children are warehoused, usually chemically warehoused if they prove in the least disruptive. But this only mirrors in much harsher way the white children of the affluent. For even the petit bourgeois youth is afflicted by a culture of screen addicted distractions and coercive infantile propaganda and entertainments. And they are likely the children of parents who were also distracted and anxious. And the parents of those parents. Three or four generations now who have not been provided with any sense of community.

    A quick glance at the statistics: Children 0 to 5 years, over 600,000 are on one of the following: ADHD medication, anti depressants, anti psychotics, and anti anxiety drugs. But if you look at kids 6 to 17, there are SEVEN MILLION being medicated. I was told by a friend that in the run up to the millennium, in a gallup poll, that a majority of people welcomed an apocalypse of some kind — and the reason given was a belief that nothing was going to get better. They were expecting only worse to come. And, of course, they were largely correct.

    Hollywood has been normalizing a mix of the sadistic and the sexual for going on fifty years, only now the spectre of Big Brother looms over everything, and this is presented as a virtue. There is in this new mythos forming around end-times thinking, an erotic representation of duty to power, and it elicits a kind of frisson. Fascism is now being updated, and it serves up a menu of catastrophe and individualism. Daily life is a combination of drudgery, tedium, meaningless work, and insecurity. And parents are weary of their neurotic complaining children. In sum I think people in the West no longer dream Utopian.

    Madonna’s Fake Revolution: Eurovision, Cultural Hegemony and Resistance

    Rim Banna, a famous Palestinian singer who translated Palestine’s most moving poetry to song passed away on March 24, 2018, at the age of 51. Rim captured the struggle for Palestinian freedom in the most dignified and melodious ways. If we could imagine angels singing, they would sound like Rim.

    When Rim died, all Palestinians mourned her death. Although a few international outlets carried the news of her passing at a relatively young age, her succumbing to cancer did not receive much coverage or discussion. Sadly, a Palestinian icon of cultural resistance who had inspired a whole generation, starting with the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987, hardly registered as an event worthy of remembrance and reflection, even among those who purport to champion the Palestinian cause.

    Compare Rim to Madonna, an ‘artiste’ who has stood for self-aggrandizing personal fame and money-making. She has championed the most debased moral values, utilizing cheap entertainment while catering to the lowest common denominator to remain relevant in the music world for as long as possible.

    While Rim had a cause, Madonna has none. And while Rim symbolized cultural resistance, Madonna symbolizes globalized cultural hegemony – in this case, the imposition of consumerist western cultures on the rest of the world.

    Cultural hegemony defines the US and other Western cultures’ relationship to the rest of the world. It is not culture as in the collective intellectual and artistic achievements of these societies, but as a set of ideological and cultural tools used by ruling classes to maintain domination over the disadvantaged, colonized and oppressed.

    Madonna, along with Michael Jordan, the Beatles and Coca Cola represent far more than mere performers and fizzy drinks, but also serve as tools used to secure cultural, thus economic and political dominance, as well. The fact that in some cities around the world, especially in the Southern hemisphere, Coca Cola “flows more freely than water” speaks volumes about the economic toll and political dimension of cultural hegemony.

    This issue becomes critical when a pro-Israel Madonna decides to perform in Israel, as she has done repeatedly in the past, as part of the Eurovision contest. Knowing who she is and what she stands for, her decision should not come as a surprise; after all, in her September 2009 Tel Aviv concert, she sang while wrapped in an Israeli flag.

    Of course, it is essential that artistes of her caliber and the contestants representing 41 different countries, are reminded of their moral responsibilities towards occupied and oppressed Palestinians. It is also important that Israel is confronted regarding its unrelenting efforts to mask its apartheid and war crimes in Palestine.

    Indeed, the whitewashing of Israeli human rights violations using art – also known as “art washing” – should not be allowed to continue when Gaza is under siege, where Palestinian children are shot and killed daily without remorse and without the least legal accountability.

    This is why such artistic events are important for the Israeli government and society. Israel has used Eurovision as a distraction from the blood and gore that has been taking place not far from that venue. Those who labored to ensure the success of the event, knowing fully how Israel is using the brand as an opportunity to normalize its war against Palestinians, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    But, on the other hand, should we be the least surprised? Aren’t such global music events, as Eurovision, at the heart of the western-centric globalization scheme of cultural hegemony, which sole purpose is to enforce a capitalist view of the world, where western culture is consumed as a commodity, no different from a McDonald’s sandwich or a pair of Levi jeans?

    Calling on 60-year-old Madonna to refrain from entertaining apartheid Israel can be considered beneficial as a media strategy, for it helped highlight, although momentarily, an issue that would have been otherwise absent from news headlines. However, by placing so much focus on Madonna, and whatever human rights’ values she supposedly stands for, we also take the risk of inadvertently validating her and the consumerist values she represents. More, in this Madonna-driven trajectory, we are also neglecting Palestine’s cultural resistance, the core drive behind Palestinian ‘somoud’ – steadfastness – over the course of a century.

    In response to her critics, Madonna answered, “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.” In the eyes of many who are ignorant of the facts, such an answer may appear as if an ‘empowered’ response to those who are trying to sway a genuine, pure artiste from following her calling.

    In fact, Madonna is an expert in appearing as if morally-guided, yet never translating such morality to anything meaningful in reality. In a speech described as “powerful” by the Rolling Stone Magazine, Madonna declared during a Women’s March in Washington D.C. in 2017 “to the rebellion, to our refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny. Where not just women are in danger, but all marginalized people.”

    Of course, Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian women – who have paid a heavy price for Israeli Occupation, war and marginalization – are not to be included in Madonna’s false revolution. And the chances are, shortly after she sings and dances in a jubilant, apartheid Israel, she will once more take on many platforms as if the Rosa Parks of revolutionary art.

    While it is important that we keep the pressure on those who engage and validate Israel politically, economically and culturally, these efforts should come secondary to embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance. Behaving as if Madonna’s stage shenanigans represent true culture, while ignoring Palestinian culture altogether, is similar to academics addressing decolonization from the point of view of the colonizer, not the colonized. The truth is, nations cannot truly rid themselves from the colonial mindset without having their narratives take the center-stage of politics, culture and every other aspects of knowledge.

    “The intellectual’s error consists in believing that one can know without understanding and, even more, without feeling and being impassioned,” wrote Italian anti-fascist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci. This entails the intellectual and the artist to feel “the elementary passions of the people, understanding them and, therefore, explaining and justifying them.”

    The truth is that appealing to Madonna’s moral sense without immersing ourselves passionately in the art of Rim Banna will, in the long run, do Palestinians no good. Only embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance will, ultimately, keep the self-serving, hegemonic and cheap cultural messages of the Madonnas of this world at bay.