Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Now is the Time for a Second Party

Third Party Blues

Today, who is a Democrat? Who is a Republican? Is there really a difference?

It is no secret that the current electoral system in the United States is rigged. The two hegemonic capitalist parties have made it nearly impossible for other parties to participate in elections. The first hurdle is simply to gather sufficient signatures to get on the ballot. A national candidate is obliged to go through this daunting procedure in each state. Furthermore, each state has its own rules for ballot access.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, for example, the third largest party in the United States, the Green Party, spent $800,000 to get on the ballot in nearly all the states. Their electoral success was sufficient to gain a ballot position for the 2020 cycle in twenty-one states. They are currently pushing their Sisyphean rock up in the remaining states with a guarantee that they will have to do it again in 2024.

After all of this effort, the Greens garnered about 1% of the vote and the furor of ignorant Democrats, who blamed them for Hillary Clinton’s loss. The Greens are not why she lost, but they are a convenient target for those not gullible enough to swallow the Russian interference excuse.

Not only have the capitalist parties stymied attempts by other parties to get on the ballot, but they, or at least the Democrats (it’s not clear how Trump became the Republican candidate) strictly control who can become their presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders decided to make two presidential bids through the Democratic Party apparatus. It was a good choice for one major reason: under current circumstances had he run as an independent or on, say, the Green Party ticket, nobody would have heard what he had to say. He would never have filled auditoria and stadia to overflowing. He would never have made social democratic policies the focus of the Democratic Party primaries and given hope to tens of millions of citizens. But he never had a chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

I realized from May 2015 that Sanders hadn’t a chance of winning the nomination, not because he couldn’t win enough delegates, but because the Democratic Party would make sure, by whatever means necessary, that he couldn’t win enough delegates. The reason for my assessment was that the capitalist class in the United States, and the rest of the world, was in no mood to accept improved living standards for the American working class. In a climate where NAFTA had been in effect since the Clinton administration, millions of industrial jobs were being moved to cheap-labor countries, the New Deal had been under capitalist attack since its inception, and there had already been two major recessions in the 21st Century, what could possibly motivate the capitalist class to offer concessions to the working class?

So, what is to be done? There is no room for a third party to seriously contest the capitalist monopoly. There is not even room for a third party to join the Big Two. We live with a system that excludes by its very nature and by subterfuge a viable third party. However, there is a way out.

First party split—From Whigs to Republicans

Did you know that in the early years of the Republic the two parties were the Democrats and the Whigs? Then, within a very short period the Whig Party disappeared and was replaced by the GOP. Presto! Party A dies and is rapidly replaced by brand new Party B. That seems to be the only way that a new party can become a contender in the American system.

Here, in brief, is what happened. In 1852, when the question of slavery and the creation of new slave states was a heated issue, the Whig Party split. The pro-slavery faction migrated to the Democratic Party, which represented the slave owners. In 1854 the anti-slavery faction and others went on to form the GOP. During the remainder of the 50s the GOP won elections, and in 1860 it captured the presidency under Abraham Lincoln.

The essential thing to understand is that before 1852 there were two hegemonic capitalist parties. The United States was in the early stages of becoming an industrial power, having been essentially agrarian since its beginnings. The Democratic Party, founded by southern planter Thomas Jefferson, by and large protected the planters’ interests. The Whigs, on the other hand, were a mixed bag, based largely in the northern states, which were not as wealthy as the South. However, that is where the Industrial Revolution was making inroads, much to the consternation of the planters.

The planters’ capital was tied up in slaves, who produced their wealth, and land that the slaves worked. The emerging northern industrial capitalists, however, needed free wage labor – free in the sense of being available to work when there were orders and unemployed when there weren’t. The industrialists had no intention of feeding and housing the working-class year in and year out whether there was work or not. Furthermore, the North had a labor shortage. The last thing the northern industrialists wanted was for additional states entering the Union to be allowed to use slave labor.

Under the pressure of the slavery issue, the Whig Party split essentially along regional lines: southern Whigs found a comfortable new home in the Democratic Party. Northern Whigs were left with a rump party, with no ability to contest an election against the Democrats. That is where the brand-new GOP came on the scene.

Prospects for a New Second Party: Can History Repeat Itself?

Let’s return, now, to the current situation. Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign made it apparent that a significant segment of the electorate was delighted to vote for progressive candidates, who were winning elections up and down the ballot. These candidates were often running as Democrats and gaining seats in everything from city councils to Congress. The group-think was that the progressives would take over the Democratic Party and make it into a party of the people. I realized that the Democratic Party would not allow a takeover or even a significant change of course. The Democratic Party, just like the Republican Party, belongs to capitalists, just as does almost everything else in the country.

The DNC had already settled interloper Sanders’ hash, and long before that had turned the wave of progressives that entered the party in the 60s and 70s into tame cattle. I refer to the Black and Progressive Caucuses. Here’s the deal: if you want to have influence, such as important chairmanships, you have to toe the party line. If you don’t want a DNC-approved candidate to primary you and you do want support for your re-election campaigns, you toe the party line. Buckle under or disappear.

My hypothesis was that the upsurge of interest in progressive policy would split the Democratic Party like the Whigs in 1852. It made no sense to create a third party – the American political system isn’t big enough to contain it and the hegemonic capitalist parties. However, it might be possible to kill the Democratic Party by drawing the viable elements into a new party with a progressive program. The remaining rump Democratic establishment would have nowhere to go but the Republican Party.

Currently, a new organization, the Movement for a People’s Party, was attempting to build a broad coalition to form the organic base for a third party. It still exists but doesn’t seem to be very successful. Trump has frightened so many otherwise well-meaning people that they can’t think about anything else but getting rid of him. They would gladly vote for Lucifer to replace Satan in Hell and voting for a third party feels too risky.

So, my hypothesis had the migration going in the wrong direction. In recent weeks we have seen lots of “Republicans for Biden” activity with the support of establishment Republicans and their donors. Wall Street is pitching Biden and abandoning support for Trump. But the icing on the cake is that four Republicans were featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention, and that the progressives were frozen out. AOC got 60 seconds. Sanders got a sadly capitulatory keynote address.

How do we get there from here?

The GOP and Democratic establishments have always agreed on the big issues of empire and wealth distribution. They have lost their party to Trump, but all he inherits is the lunatic fringe base, which has no money to maintain the party’s infrastructure. This base will disintegrate when Trump leaves office.

So, it looks like the GOP establishment is migrating to the Democratic Party and bringing their big donors with them. Progressives can no longer pretend that they have any power within the Democratic Party. By the same token, if Trump is re-elected, his second term will be hemmed in by the massed might of the capitalists, who can stymie every move he makes.

The US will soon have an official one-party regime, the Democratic-Republican Party. That leaves us the opening we need in which to create our own party, a real opponent to the capitalists who have, up until now, held a monopoly on power. Our party won’t just be an electoral vehicle. As long as the capitalists control the country, there is little that working-class people can win through elections. In this conjuncture, where the third major economic collapse of the century coincides with a major pandemic, people are angry and ready to move at the least spark. The George Floyd uprising won’t be the last, and every uprising that follows it will provide larger and larger populations experienced in mass non-violent civil disobedience. That will be the environment for creating a mass party of the people and for ridding ourselves of an oligarchy whose time has passed.

Our party’s leadership will rise from among the leaders of converging movements of mass civil disobedience. In particular, movements for rent relief, debt relief and $15 an hour, BLM, and workers and teachers refusing to sacrifice their lives to COVID-19 will spark action from other sectors of the working-class. These movements will shut down the capitalists’ drive to return to “normal”. The new party’s program will be the demands that arise from these movements. It will achieve its ends the way successful revolutions achieve theirs: replacing the current rulers with our own selves, eliminating the middlemen, and reducing the capitalist class to working for us.

Today, the capitalist parties have no mass memberships. They only have employees who work for private corporations like the DNC. The citizenry can choose a fictitious affiliation with one of those parties at voter registration, but ordinary citizens have no say in how the parties function or who the candidates will be. Candidates used to be chosen in smoke-filled rooms; today they are chosen in smoke-and-mirrors primaries.

A people’s party should differentiate itself clearly from the phony parties. Party membership should be based on formal agreement with the party’s goals and a decision from a membership committee. Card carrying is an honorable party tradition that demonstrates the member’s commitment to the party. Dues cement the commitment and provide the essential money to maintain and grow the machine.

The time is ripe to form a party of the people. In the meantime, watch for a purge of progressive Democrats in the near future.

First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Now is the Time for a Second Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Hymn for a Broken Empire: Republican National Security Officials for Biden

If fodder is needed for the argument that a Deep State is running wild and determined to depose President Donald J. Trump, this will surely help.  In a statement by self-titled “former Republican National Security Officials”, a hand-on-heart allegiance is made to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.  The authors are intent on moving the incumbent out of office, “profoundly concerned about our nation’s security and standing in the world under the leadership of Donald Trump. The President has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term.”

These former security officials, who include former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency Gen. Michael Hayden, see Joe Biden as the better horse.  He has “the character, experience and temperament to lead this nation.”  They might have their disagreements with him, but there would be “the time to debate those policy differences”.  In the immediate future, Trump had to be ushered out of office to stop his “assault on our nation’s values and institutions.”

The message is regaled in the language of defending democracy, the very sort of fragile creature such individuals have not been averse to mutilating in the past. But it is also couched in terms of cod psychology.  The term “unfit” is used four times.  This lack of fitness was demonstrated by bad character, corrupt behaviour, the inability to lead “during a national crisis.”

What is particularly galling for the authors is that Trump dared interfere with the National Security Family, offices of the imperium that should run without disruption and melodrama.  This mismanagement, as they term it, involved the dismissal or replacement “often by tweet” of “the secretaries of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, the Attorney General, the Directors of National Intelligence and the FBI, three National Security Advisors, and other senior officials in critical national security positions”.

The signers also take issue with the president’s spread of “misinformation”, the undermining of public health expertise, attacking officials at state and local level “and wallowing in self-pity.”  He had demonstrated greater interest in re-election “than the health of the American people.”

Misinformation is a good point.  Trump has been exceedingly inventive to the point of fiction in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.  He takes of the root of conspiracy.  But it is also worth noting that many of these former security officials who take issue with him were not averse to getting on the well-laden wagon of misinformation when it came to launching a war against Iraq in 2003.  The administration of George W. Bush was stacked high with true believers allergic to the findings of UN weapons inspectors.  Then Secretary of State Colin Powell, who put in an appearance at the Democratic National Convention just passed, gave a show of supreme mendacity on February 5, 2003 before the United Nations.  “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”  What was solid was the premature adjudication of the matter: Saddam Hussein had to go, and fictional weapons of mass destruction would do nicely as a pretext.

The result was the commission of what is loftily described as the “supreme international crime”: the crime against peace or what is sometimes, if awkwardly termed, a “war of aggression”.  In 2005, criminologists Ronald Kramer, Raymond Michalowski and Dawn Rothe gazed forlornly at the US-led invasion of Iraq and concluded that it, and the subsequent occupation, violated international law.  State crimes had been committed and “state officials responsible for the violations of law pursuant to the invasion and occupation of Iraq are guilty of war crimes.”

The signatories of this pro-Biden note also have their noses out of joint at Trump’s compromising of the Department of Justice, his libelling of federal judges, and those who “sought to uphold the law.”  He insulated himself from accountability, fired officials who commenced investigations or testified against him, threatened whistleblowers, promised pardons for silence “and blocked prison time for a political crony convicted of lying on his behalf.”

Smelly stuff indeed, till you consider what took place in the Republic after September 11, 2001.  During those dark years under GWB, the rule of law was given a right royal thrashing, and was barely able to walk after that.  Warrantless surveillance of US citizens was conducted with the specific purpose of avoiding the law altogether.  Torture was modish, given a shining light as a preferred method of military interrogation; inventive apologias and seedy justifications could be found through the DOJ for its use.  The “Bush Six” – Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Douglas Feith – rode high on stallions of bare legality.  The Central Intelligence Agency got bold and ugly with its Rendition Program.  Guantanamo Bay became code for human rights violations and legal purgatory.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch suggested that the then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the chief US commander in Iraq and Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander of the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be investigated for allegations of torture.  In 2011, HRW released a further report arguing for “a broad criminal investigation into alleged crimes committed in connection with the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the CIA detention program, and the rendition of detainees to torture.” To date, these dark retainers of executive power remain free to go about their business and whitewash a sullied era.  The Obama administration ensured that no prosecutions would take place.

The vocal, boisterous defenders of a cause are bound to be those who have, along the way, fiddled and forfeited it.  Be wary, claimed E. M. Forster in “What I Believe”, of the cohorts overly keen on causes.  “I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I would have the guts to betray my country.”  Trump has done his immodest bit to ransack an already soiled office.  The precedent of a burgeoning imperial presidency, indifferent to caution and legality, eager to bloody the noses of adversaries, spy on citizens and evade the rule of law, was already there to emulate.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus is in Town

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People.

Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses.  Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed.  And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus.

The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly.

Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements.

And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy.

Punch and Judy indeed.

All the while the corporate mainstream media warn of grim viral milestones, election warnings, storms ahead!  The world as you know it is coming to an end, they remind us daily.

The latter meme contains a hint of truth since not just the world as we know it may be coming to an end, but the world itself, including human life, as the clowns initiate a nuclear holocaust while everyone is being entertained.

Meanwhile, as the circus rolls along, far away and out of mind, shit happens:

With more than 400 military bases equipped with nuclear weapons surrounding China, the United States military continues its encirclement of China and China enters a “state of siege.

The U.S. conducts military exercises with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the contested South China Sea. These U.S “maritime Air defense operation[s]” close to the Chinese mainland are a part of significantly increased U.S. military exercises in the area.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Esper announces that the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Germany but moving them closer to the Russian border to serve as a more effective deterrent against Russia.

Russia says it will regard any ballistic missile aimed at its territory as a nuclear attack and will respond in kind with nuclear weapons.

Although the U.S. is formally not at war with any African country, a new report reveals that the United States has special forces operating in 22 African countries with 29 bases and 6,000 troops, with a huge drone hub in Niger that cost 100 + million to build and is expected to have operating costs of more than $280 billion by 2024.

The U.S. continues its assault on Syria, aside from direct military operations, by building up Kurdish proxies in northeastern Syria to protect the oil fields that they are stealing from the Syrian government, a plan hatched long ago.  The U.S. says their strategy is to deny ISIS a valuable revenue stream.  The same ISIS they used to attack the Syrian government in a war of aggression.

A new document exposes the U.S. plan to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a traditional U.S. regime change and CIA front organization.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, a place most Americans can’t find on a map, there is another color “revolution” underway.

Continuing its war against Iran and Venezuela by other means, the Trump administration seizes Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.  “Something will happen with Venezuela.  That’s all I can tell you.  Something will be happening with Venezuela,” said Trump in a July interview with Noticias Telemundo.

And, of course, the Palestinians are left to suffer and die as Israel is supported in its despotic policies in the Middle East.

The list goes on and on as the U.S. under Trump continues to wage war by multiple means around the world. But his followers see him as peaceful president because these wars are waged through sanctions, special operations, drones, third parties, etc.

But back in the center ring, the two presidential clown candidates keep the audience entertained, as they shoot water at each other. Trump, who now presides over all the events just listed, and Biden, who enthusiastically supported the American wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.

But then the followers of Obama/Biden also see their champions as peaceful leaders.  This is even more absurd.

Don’t you like farce?

Besides being a rabid advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a senator, Biden, as Vice-President under Obama for eight years, seconded and promoted all of Obama’s wars that were wrapped in “humanitarian” propaganda to evade international law and keep his liberal supporters quiet. From Bush II, an outright cowboy war-wager who used America’s large military forces to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretensions – i.e. lies, Obama and his sidekick Biden learned to arm and finance thousands of Islamic jihadists, run by the CIA and U.S. special forces, to do the job in more circumspect ways. They expanded and grew The United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) throughout Africa. They agreed to a $1 trillion upgrade of U.S nuclear weapons (that continues under Trump). They disarmed their followers, who, in any case, wished to look the other way. Out of sight and out of mind, Obama/Biden continued the “war on terror” with drones, private militias, color revolutions, etc. They waged war on six-seven – who knows how many – countries.

An exception to the more secretive wars was the Obama administration’s openly savage assault on Libya in 2011 under the lies of an imperial moral legitimacy. In order to save you, we will destroy you, which is what they did to Libya, a country still in ruins and chaos.  Their equally blood-thirsty Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let the cat out of the bag when she laughed and gleefully applauded the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Moammar Gaddafi with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” Yippee!

After Libya was destroyed and so many killed in an illegal and immoral war financed with $2 billion dollars from the America treasury, Joseph Biden bragged that the U.S. didn’t lose a single life and such a war was a “prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”

Biden was Obama’s front man on Iraq, the war he voted for in 2003, and wrote an op ed article in 2006 calling for the breakup of the country into three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish.

When Obama launched 48 cruise missiles and more than ten thousand tons of bombs on Syria in 2016, killing over a hundred civilians, a third of them children, V.P. Biden stood proud and strong in support of the action.

When the U.S. launched the bloody coup in Ukraine in 2014, Biden was, of course, in agreement.

But we are told that Trump and Biden are arch-enemies.  One of them wants war and the other wants peace.

How many Americans will vote for these clowns this year?  They are really front men for The Umbrella People, the money people who use the CIA and other undercover forces to carry out their organized crime activities.

As C.S Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters:

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint . . .. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received 129 million votes out of 157 million registered American voters eager to believe that this system is not built on imperial war-making by both parties.

Perhaps that’s a generous assessment. Maybe many of those voters believe in the U.S.A.’s “manifest destiny” to rule the world and wage war in God’s name.  I hope not.  But if so, you can expect a big turnout on November 3, 2020.

In any case, it’s quite a circus, but these clowns aren’t funny.  They are dangerous.

But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here

Don’t you like farce?

Hands off Lebanon: Macron’s Self-serving ‘New Pact’ Must Be Shunned  

French President, Emmanuel Macron, is in no position to pontificate to Lebanon about the need for political and economic reforms. Just as thousands of Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut demanding “revenge” against the ruling classes, the French people have relentlessly been doing the same; both peoples have been met with police violence and arrests.

Following the August 4 blast which killed over 200 people and wounded thousands more, the irony was inescapable when Macron showed up in a bizarre display of “solidarity” on the streets of Beirut. Macron should have taken his roadshow to the streets of Paris, not Beirut, to reassure his own people, burdened by growing inequality, rising unemployment and socio-economic hardship.

However, the French show went on, but in the Middle East. It was a perfectly choreographed scene, engineered to be reminiscent of France’s bygone colonial grandeur. On August 6, Macron stood imperiously amidst the ruins of a massive Beirut explosion, promising aid, accountability and vowing to never abandon France’s former colony.

A young Lebanese woman approached the French President, tearfully imploring him “Mr. President, you’re on General Gouraud Street; he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities.”

It is unconvincing that all of this: the sudden visit, the pleas for help, the emotional crowd surrounding Macron, were all impromptu events to reflect Lebanon’s undying love and unconditional trust of France.

Macron could have easily assessed the damage caused by the devastating explosion at the Beirut port. If the thousands of images and endless video streams were insufficient to convey the unprecedented ruin created by the Hiroshima-like blast, satellite and aerial footage certainly would have.

But Macron did not come to Lebanon to offer sincere solidarity. He came, like a ‘good’ French politician would to exploit the shock, panic and fear of a dumbstruck nation, while it is feeling betrayed by its own government, bewildered and alone.

I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them,” Macron said.

Certainly, Lebanon is in urgent need of a new pact, but not one that is engineered by France. Indeed, France was never a source of stability in Lebanon. Even the end of the formal French colonialism in 1946 did not truly liberate Lebanon from Paris’ toxic influence and constant meddling.

Alas, devastated Lebanon is now receptive to another bout of ‘disaster capitalism’:  the notion that a country must be on its knees as a prerequisite to foreign economic takeover, political and, if necessary, military intervention.

If the words of the woman who beseeched Macron to ‘liberate’ Lebanon from its current leadership were not scripted by some clever French writer, they would represent one of the saddest displays of Lebanon’s modern politics — this woman, representing a nation, calling on its former colonizer to subjugate it once more, in order to save it from itself.

This is the crux of ‘disaster capitalism’.

“In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure – whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or … a terrorist attack,” wrote the acclaimed Canadian author, Naomi Klein, in her seminal book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

The political fallout of the explosion — whatever its causes — were triggered perfectly from the perspective of those who want to ensure Lebanon never achieves its coveted moment of stability and sectarian harmony. Unprecedented in modern history, the country’s current economic crisis has dragged on interminably, while the ruling classes either seem to have no answers or are, largely, not keen on finding any.

On August 7, a United Nations-backed tribunal was scheduled to issue its final verdict regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri. Hariri’s killing, also by a massive blast in Beirut on February 14, 2005, has torn the country apart and somewhat placed Lebanon at the hands of foreign entities.

Whether the now postponed verdict was going to further divide Lebanese society or help it achieve closure, is moot. The port explosion will surely renew the French-led Western mandate over the country.

On August 6, four former Lebanese prime ministers called for an ‘international investigation’ into the causes of the blast, hoping to win political leverage against their political opponents, setting the stage for another sectarian and political crisis.

Local forces are quickly scrambling to position themselves behind a winning political strategy. “We have no trust at all in this ruling gang,” leading Lebanese Druze politician, Walid Jumblatt, said. He, too, is demanding an international investigation.

Times of national crisis often lead to unity, however temporary, among various communities, since mass tragedies often harm all sectors of society. In Lebanon, however, unity remains elusive, as most political camps have allegiances that transcend the people and nation. People often hold onto their clans and sects due to their lack of trust in the central government. Politicians, instead, are beholden to regional and international powers — as in Macron’s France.

But France should not be the last lifeline for the Lebanese people, despite their desperation, anger and betrayal. France is currently involved in two of the ugliest and protracted conflicts in the Middle East and West Africa: Libya and Mali. Predictably, in both cases, Paris had also promised to be a force for good. While Libya has essentially been turned into a failed state, Mali persists under total French subjugation. It is no exaggeration to argue that France is currently involved in an active military occupation of Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Lebanon should be aware that its current tragedy is the perfect opportunity for its former colonial masters to stage a comeback, which would hardly save Lebanon and her people from their persisting calamity.

Macron’s bizarre and dangerous political act in the streets of Beirut should worry all Lebanese, at least those who truly care about their country.

Hong Kong Elections Postponed: And where aren’t they?

Today, the Western press went absolutely mental again, radically schizophrenic.

Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, declared that the September 6 elections in SAR would be postponed by one year. Right away, she offered a rational explanation:

“We have 3 million voters going out in one day across Hong Kong, such flow of people would cause a high risk of infection.”

Fair enough. But while COVID-19 can justify just about any action taken by the West and also by countries that are closely associated with the West, it is constantly used against Mainland China and SAR.

Irrational double standards are continually used.

*****

Whether elections were to be held or not, attacks against Ms. Lam and Beijing were planned to continue. They were clearly ordered by the Western establishment, “no matter what happens.”

We will return later to ‘criticism of postponement of the elections,’ but first, let us see what was written just a few hours earlier when all major Western media outlets still thought that the elections would take place as scheduled.

On July 31, 2020, CNN published bizarre comments:

Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s de facto constitution, prospective legislators must swear to “uphold” the constitution, a declaration that has been largely procedural in the past. 

But citing a court case in 2016 barring a pro-independence candidate, the government said in a statement that vowing to “uphold” Basic Law “denotes not just compliance with it, but also an intention to support, promote, and embrace it.

First of all, “upholding the constitution” is a fundamental and essential condition for any prospective legislator in any democracy in the world. And not only  a legislator.  As we all know, in the United States, the president of the nation, when sworn in, puts his hand on the Bible (isn’t that “a bit too extreme” and “exclusive,” especially for those citizens who are not Christian?) and solemnly swears that he will be upholding and defending the Constitution of his country.

Second: some readers can probably overlook certain parts of the text, but this time they should come back to them and read carefully: “barring a pro-independence candidate.” CNN is obviously criticizing SAR for not allowing participation of separatists in the elections! It is hard to believe, difficult not to call it hypocrisy, given the fact that almost anywhere in North America and Europe, separatism is not tolerated, and, in fact, harshly punishable. Just think about Spain (Catalunya) or France (Corsica). Strive for separatism, which is ignited, and then supported and financed by foreign interests and foreign powers, would be considered treason and punished extremely harshly. As, let us not forget, each Western country has its own national security law.

But bashing China and its territories, by all means available, became such a norm in Western mass media, that almost nobody is scrutinizing details of such “analyses,” anymore. Baseless or thoroughly exaggerated criticism of everything Chinese became synonymous with a fast-track to career advancement, at least in the fields of journalism and academia. Thousands of scribes are now involved. It is a career. There is something ‘religious,’ even ‘fundamentalist’ in the anti-Beijing writing style. Logic is not required anymore. It is actually discouraged.

The title of the CNN article, which I am quoting, is, actually: “Hong Kong is setting up an election without a real opposition.” Real means what? In the new Western propaganda lexicon, ‘real’ means hard-core separatism, fundamentalist anti-Communism, and radical anti-Mainland stand.

*****

Now back to the postponement of the elections.

Even The New York Times, known for (at least stylistically) more ‘elegant coverage,’ produced a hawkish headline on July 31, 2020: “Hong Kong Delays Election, Citing Coronavirus. The Opposition Isn’t Buying It.”

 So, first, the way elections were to be conducted was wrong; and now postponement of them became wicked. Western “analysts” reacted very, very fast.

Nothing new, of course. Suspicion is omnipresent when it comes to news coverage of SAR and Mainland China by Western media outlets. Nothing short of total surrender would be accepted or praised.

It is essential to confront Western propaganda with the facts, again and again. It is a tiring, monotonous process, but there is no other way around it. Otherwise, all rationale will collapse. Therefore, let us continue with our labor:

This essay is written and sent from the Western Hemisphere, part of the world which is most damaged by COVID-19. Elections here are either outrightly postponed, or postponement is at least discussed, considered as an option. Even Donald Trump, ‘arch hero’ of the Hong Kong rioters, is going back and forth on the issue. Chilean referendum on Constitution changes was postponed, without much debate, due to COVID-19. Elections in Bolivia have been delayed again and again. And there, actually, the elections are crucial, as last year there was a U.S.-backed coup which out-seated enormously popular and successful indigenous President Evo Morales. Of course, you would not read much about all this in the West.

Western mass media takes COVID-19 ‘argument’ for postponing elections in the Americas as something fundamentally legitimate. Because this fits the interests of Washington. There, yes, but what is taken as a norm elsewhere is never acceptable when it happens in China.

Why it is this way,is clear: again, it is not at all about logic or rationale. China has to be wrong, no matter what it does. Even when what it does is in line with the rest of the world. It is Kafkaesque, it is unfair, but it is part of a new normal constructed by the U.S. leaders like Trump, Rubio, Pompeo, Bolton, and Navarro.

Ms. Carrie Lam and Beijing know perfectly well how to govern their territory and the entire country. They do not need Western boys and girls to tell them. China is doing well, much better than the West, and it is clear and obvious. Everyone who “commutes” between PRC and U.S. is well aware of it. And China, including SAR, would be doing even better if it would be left alone, stop being antagonized every day and night, and allowed to concentrate on what it is doing best: which is improving the lives of its people and the world.

• Originally published by China Daily Hong Kong

Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party

I wrote this article over four years ago in 2016 for the purpose of challenging left liberals to face the fact that they have no party. In re-reading it today, everything I said in the original article remains true. In fact, the Democratic Party has leaned even further to the right over the last four years.

In the face of uprisings of protesting the police killing of George Floyd and many other black Americans, the Democratic Party has done nothing. Even worse, in the face of these uprisings the Democratic Party candidate for president has named a vice-president who might be labelled the Queen of Prosecutions. Kamala Harris would be one of the first to prosecute the very blacks who are part of the uprising.

The only thing I want to add to this article is to define left liberal more precisely. The old liberals of the Enlightenment were committed to a constitution under law. They were against monarchies, for tolerance of divergent views and for separation of church and state. Left liberals during the FDR era have the following characteristics:

  • They were for Keynesian economic policies which admit that free market capitalism does not work and has to be monitored by state policies.
  • They supported what I call the “matriarchal” state. This means robust free public education, pensions and unemployment insurance. In the 1960s food stamps were added, and today universal healthcare. They also supported building mass transportation systems and building and repairing roads and bridges.
  • They were active in their support of science and technology. They believed science was the best way to understand the world and that building technologies would make life easier and better for most people.
  • They supported the existence of the military as a defensive measure only. They did not believe in imperial wars or overthrowing other governments.
  • They recognized and supported unions, which allowed for collective bargaining and strikes in support of the working class.
  • They made a distinction between communism and fascism. For example, liberals like John Dewey and Bertrand Russell actively gave the Soviet Union a chance before rejecting it.
  • Left liberals were committed to being more inclusive economically in relation to gender and race.

Most people I know who consider themselves liberal support all or most of these points, though they might not be able to articulate them all. Yet they ignore the fact that the Democratic Party, in practice, for the last 50 years, has little or nothing to do with any of these.

*****

Lost at Sea

Within the periphery of the circles in which I travel, people do not actively defend what it means to be a member of the Democratic Party. They come on much stronger when they say they are against the Republican Party. And why not? The Republican Party is the party of old money, inheritance, white supremacy and fundamentalist Christianity. Republicans and their followers are up front about it and don’t apologize. By implication, a Democrat is supposed to be opposed to such extremes. But what Democrats are for is simply left implied, and dissolves into a mist before the end of the conversation.

The case of the relationship between liberals and conservatives is pretty much similar. Long before political parties, the conservatives were considered to be the Party of Order, proudly supporting class, race and gender hierarchies, while proudly supporting obedience to authority and respecting tradition. In the time of French Revolution, to be liberal also meant taking a firm stand by opposing conservatives. But today, in the United States, to be liberal seems to be a weak program: more toleration, less inequality and less openness to experiment.

Above all, to be a Democrat or a liberal means you are not extreme. In fact, liberals have abandoned so many of the traditions they once fought for historically that the socialist movement has, unfortunately, taken over the causes of liberals ranging from state intervention in the economy, to raising the minimum wage, and introducing single payer healthcare as if this were the core of socialism. The fact that Bernie Sanders can claim to be a “democratic socialist”, promoting a program that is not even the equal of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberalism, demonstrates the failure of liberalism to defend its own best heritage.

Academic socialist leftists add more confusion to the mix by blithely calling the economic and political organization in the United States “neo-liberal” as if this term explained everything. The term neoliberal does not describe the state of the economy very well. It is not simply a return to Adam Smith’s economic liberalism. More importantly, liberalism is primarily a political stance that has undergone at least eight changes in the last 220 years. The fact that the general public has no understanding of this term, “neo-liberal”, doesn’t seem to phase these academics. The term does little to help the public understand the slide of liberalism into a morass.

Just as the Democratic Party and liberalism have allowed themselves to be defined by the Republican Party on the one hand and the conservatives on the other, the same fate has occurred in the case of what democracy is. During the 1920’s and 1930’s there was genuine concern that the American and Europe masses of people did not seem to act as democratically as Alexander Tocqueville had imagined. A few political theorists started asking questions about the political structure of electoral politics because so many people didn’t seem to show much of an interest in the candidates or the way issues were framed. But a not-so-funny thing happened to most political scientists in the 1930’s, at least in the United States. Instead of challenging the set-up of these electoral processes, political scientists turned outward, put on their best anti-communist face and instead invented the term “totalitarianism” to describe both fascism and Stalinism. The term totalitarian was toned down during World War II because the Soviets were on the side of the U.S., but the term “totalitarian” returned with a vengeance after the war to describe communist societies.

In the late 1940’s political scientists abandoned the very serious study of the problems of democracy, which were pointed out by left liberals like philosopher John Dewey, cultural critic Upton Sinclair and historian Charles Beard in the twenties and thirties. Instead they accepted a new right wing, elitist theory of democracy first championed by Joseph Schumpeter. Democracy was all about voting for the circulation of elites.

To sum up, in the case of Democratic Party, the political tradition of liberals and democratic theory the pattern is the same. All three words in practice have slid to the center right of the political spectrum. This rightward slide has occurred behind the scenes because it they have been contrasted favorably with the extreme right — Republican Party, conservative elites or fascists. The Democratic Party, liberals and elite democratic theory have also been favorably compared to the extreme left — communism. In fact, a Cold War Liberal like Daniel Bell could even dissolve the term liberal altogether in the book The End of Ideology. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. would write a book called The Vital Center. Liberals for him were synonymous with centrists.

My Claim

What I’m going to argue is that the best of the left wing liberal tradition is worth preserving and, as Ralph Nader might say, has nothing in common with the Democratic Party. The practice and politics of the Democratic Party is not liberal and never has been. Left-wing liberals have to face the fact they have no party.

A Whirlwind Tour of Liberalism

It is safe to say that what it means to be liberal has had different political meanings in different historical periods. According to political philosopher Stephen Holmes, in the glory days of the French Revolution, being liberal meant being against monarchies and aristocratic privilege. Liberals were militant against the church, claiming it was corrupt and filled with superstition, even as they defended religious tolerance. Liberals were opposed to censorship, and promoted freedom of assembly. They defended free trade against monopolistic trading companies before the working class and poor were driven into the mines and factories as industrial capitalism showed its full face.

In the early 19th century liberalism became entangled with the industrial revolution and moved towards the center of the political spectrum. Liberalism leaned right in the second half of the 19th century, buying into philosopher Herbert Spencer’s concept of “rugged individualism” and then slid into bed with social Darwinism. The early part of 20th century liberalism started moving left again with the progressive movement in the United States. For a while, some liberals were even open to hearing the communist case, with philosophers Bertrand Russell and John Dewey being sympathetic for a while.

Then in the 1930’s, catalyzed by the Great Depression, liberalism came to grips with the fact that free market capitalism wasn’t working and it embraced the economic policies of John Maynard Keynes. After World War II, Cold War liberals turned rightward, embracing the ideology of the Cold War. The Civil Rights and the anti-war movements of the 60’s drove liberalism leftward again in the form of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

As the growth rate of the capitalist economy slowed in the late 1960’s and the early 1970s, left liberalism slid rightward and has never recovered. For at least since the late 1970’s what has stood for liberalism was defined by neo-conservatives in the early 1980s and by right wing Democrats in the late 1980’s (the Democratic Leadership Council)

It’s not as if liberals are alone in using words that have little relation to a concrete policy. As many of us know, much fraternal blood has been spilled for well over 250 years between social democrats, Marxist Leninists, council communists and anarchists over what socialism should and shouldn’t be. But at least we socialists understand that in the United States, we simply have no party. Left liberals are still in denial.

Is the Democratic Party Left Liberal?

Back in the days of the French Revolution, no liberal government would put up with monarchies, even if they existed in other countries. For a short while after the French Revolution, the French government unsuccessfully tried to destabilize monarchies in other countries. Today Democratic presidents have no problems meeting with kings or queens and hammering out diplomatic agreements with them. Claiming to be a “democracy” it forms alliances with states that would be condemned as ultra-royalists 200 years ago.

Neither does the Democratic Party have any problems with inherited wealth. We see no bills in Congress coming from Democrats seeking to abolish inheritance or tax the inheritance of many of its members. These days, members of the Democratic Party do not attack the Catholic Church for its wealth or call for the jailing of priests for child molestation. Separation of church and state? How many Democrats are there who don’t support the religious theocracy of Israel?

Protection of free speech? No Democratic presidents had any trouble with raiding homes (the Palmer Raids), McCarthy witch-hunts, or involvement with the CIA and its anti-communist operations. As for free market policy, the Democratic Party has ignored what the best of liberals understood 80 years ago — a free market doesn’t work very well. Drone warfare, militarization of the police: these wouldn’t be problems for left liberals of the Enlightenment?

The Republican Party is my class enemy. But sometimes I respect my enemies. Republicans form in clear tendencies, they fight, undermine each other and violate virtually every one of Aristotle’s fallacies. However, one thing I admire is that they don’t swear allegiance to each other before, during or after the primaries the way Bernie Sanders has done to Hillary.

How obvious does it have to be that the left liberals have no party? Is the coming genuflection of Bernie Sanders to the neo-con in waiting, Queen Hillary, not enough to convince you? The Democratic Party stands for nothing but capitalism — before and during the primaries. It does what it has done for as long as I can remember: it presents a boogeyman Republican — whether it be Trump, McCain, Bush or whoever else. It then defends itself not by the sweet dreams it promises to deliver, but the Republican nightmares it promises to forestall.

Why Bother Writing About Left Liberals?

I do not make these criticisms because I hope that if left liberals build a “Tea Party of the Left” that I would join. We socialists have our own work to do. I consider the pessimism of the Frankfurt School, structuralism, post-structuralism and the nihilist and relativist posings of postmodernism as a 50 year embarrassment, and it is these folks who blithely paint right, center and left liberalism with the same brush. I think the ideas, programs and skepticism of John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell and John Dewey are just as relevant today as they were at the time they were written. Anyone who thinks these left liberals are worth defending should have nothing to do with the Democratic Party.

Neither do I think that liberals and socialists are ultimately “on the same side” as the term “progressive” seems to imply. Liberals are closer to conservatives than liberals are to left socialists because both liberals and conservatives are committed to capitalism. In the long run, left socialists and left liberals will differ. But in the short run, it would be good to have a left liberal party for company while we hopefully build our revolutionary socialist party.

One last way to make my point is by naming names. I trust Ralph Nader more than I trust Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky or Cornel West. Ralph Nader is a straight up New Deal Liberal. He knows the Democratic Party is the graveyard for left liberals. Neither does he play games with the term “socialism”. He is against it and he says so. On the other hand, while I see little or no difference between Bernie Sanders’ program and anything Ralph Nader proposes, Bernie insists on calling his New Deal program “democratic socialism” — and he joins the Democratic Party to implement it! Why would I trust that? Then there are the Left Gatekeepers who are also untrustworthy. Noam Chomsky writes about workers’ councils between elections then every four years tells us to vote for a Democrat. Cornell West talks about democratic socialism, yet he too, instructs us to vote for a Democrat when push turns to shove.

Why doesn’t the socialist left have a party? We have good reasons. Socialist organizations were crushed in the 40’s and 50 in the US by corporations, Cold War liberals, and spy agencies. In addition, to the extent that the socialist parties are really a party of the poor, working class and some middle class, building a party costs money, is time consuming and takes years. Most of us have little time and not much money.

But what excuse do left liberals have? Most left liberals are upper middle class. They have the resources to build a party. Why don’t they? What keeps left liberals from pouring resources into the Green Party, which has always been at least truly left liberal? Clearly the number of people in the United States who are for Bernie Sanders convinces me that the population would welcome such a party. For decades surveys have shown that Americans say there should be more than two parties. What is the hold-up? It’s past time.

Conclusion:

I can imagine those who support the “lesser of two evils” telling me “you are undermining us, and weakening our commitment to Biden and Harris” and this article will help deliver the election to Trump. I am completely cynical that I can convince any of the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” folks to not vote at all or vote for the Green Party. Your minds are made up. My only point is to say to you:

  • Your support of the Democratic Party has nothing to do with being liberal.
  • After the election if you want to rebuild liberalism get out of the Democratic Party and build your own party.

Can the Anti-Netanyahu Protests grow into a Larger Movement?

Israel is roiling with angry street protests that local observers have warned could erupt into open civil strife – a development Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be encouraging.

For weeks, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have been the scene of large, noisy demonstrations outside the official residences of Mr Netanyahu and his public security minister, Amir Ohana.

On Saturday night around 13,000 marched through Jerusalem shouting “Anyone but Bibi”, Netanyahu’s nickname. Their calls were echoed by tens of thousands more at locations across the country.

Turnout has been steadily growing, despite attacks on demonstrators from both the police and Netanyahu’s loyalists. The first protests abroad by Israeli expats have also been reported.

The protests, in defiance of physical distancing rules, are unprecedented by Israeli standards. They have bridged the gaping political divide between a small constituency of anti-occupation activists – disparagingly called “leftists” in Israel – and the much larger Israeli Jewish public that identifies politically as on the centre and the right.

For the first time, a section of Netanyahu’s natural supporters is out on the streets against him.

In contrast to earlier protests, such as a large social justice movement that occupied the streets in 2011 to oppose rising living costs, these demonstrations have not entirely eschewed political issues.

The target of the anger and frustration is decidedly personal at this stage – focused on the figure of Netanyahu, who is now Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Protesters have renamed him Israel’s “crime minister”.

But also fuelling the protests is a larger mood of disenchantment as doubts grow about the state’s competence to deal with multiple crises unfolding in Israel. The virus has caused untold social and economic misery for many, with as much as one fifth of the labour force out of work. Netanyahu’s supporters in the lower middle-classes have been hit hardest.

Now well into a second wave, Israel has a per capita rate of infection that outstrips even the US. The shadow of a renewed lockdown amid government mishandling of the virus has undermined Netanyahu’s claim to be “Mr Security”.

There are concerns too about police brutality – starkly highlighted by the killing in May of an autistic Palestinian, Eyad Hallaq, in Jerusalem.

Police crackdowns on the protests, using riot squads, undercover agents, mounted police and water cannon, have underlined not just Netanyahu’s growing authoritarianism. There is a sense too that the police may be ready to use violence on dissenting Israelis that was once reserved for Palestinians.

After manipulating his right-wing rival, the former military general Benny Gantz, into joining him in a unity government in April, Netanyahu has effectively crushed any meaningful political opposition.

The agreement shattered Gantz’s Blue and White party, with many of his legislators refusing to enter the government, and has widely discredited the ex-general.

Netanyahu is reportedly preparing for a winter election – the fourth in two years – both to cash in on his opponents’ disarray and to avoid honouring a rotation agreement in which Gantz is due to replace him late next year.

According to the Israeli media, Netanyahu may find a pretext for forcing new elections by further delaying approval of the national budget, despite Israel facing its worst financial crisis in decades.

And, of course, overshadowing all this is the matter of the corruption charges against Netanyahu. Not only is he the first sitting prime minister in Israel to stand trial, but he has been using his role and the pandemic to his advantage, including by delaying court hearings.

In a time of profound crisis and uncertainty, many Israelis are wondering which policies are being pursued for the national good and which for Netanyahu’s personal benefit.

The government’s months-long focus on the annexation of swaths of Palestinian territory in the West Bank has looked like pandering to his settler constituency, creating a dangerous distraction from dealing with the pandemic.

Similarly, a one-off handout this week to every Israeli – over the strenuous objections of finance officials – looks suspiciously like an electoral bribe. As a result, Netanyahu is facing a rapid decline in support. A recent survey shows trust in him has fallen by half – from 57 per cent in March and April, when the Covid-19 pandemic began, to 29 per cent today.

Many Israelis increasingly see Netanyahu less as a father figure and more as a parasite draining resources from the body politic. Capturing the popular mood is a new art work called the “Last Supper” that was covertly installed in central Tel Aviv. It shows Netanyahu alone, gorging on a vast banquet by stuffing his hand into an enormous cake decorated with the Israeli flag.

In another move designed to highlight Netanyahu’s corrupt politics, better-off Israelis have been publicly organising to donate this week’s state handout to those in need.

Netanyahu’s repeated incitement against the protesters – disparaging them as “leftists” and “anarchists”, and suggesting they are spreading disease – appears to have backfired. It has only rallied more people to the street.

But the incitement and Netanyahu’s claims that he is the true victim – and that in the current climate he faces assassination – have been interpreted as a call to arms by some on the right. Last week five protesters were injured when his loyalists used clubs and broken bottles on them, with police appearing to turn a blind eye. Further attacks were reported at the weekend. Protest organisers said they had begun arranging defence units to protect demonstrators.

Ohana, the public security minister, has called for a ban on the protests and urged a heavy hand from the police. He has delayed appointing a new police chief – a move seen as incentivising local commanders to crack down on the protests to win favour. Large numbers of protesters have been forcefully arrested, with reports that police have questioned some on their political views.

Observers have wondered whether the protests can transcend party political tribalism and develop into a grassroots movement demanding real change. That might widen their appeal to even more disadvantaged groups, not least the one fifth of Israel’s citizens who belong to its Palestinian minority.

But it would also require more of the protesters to start drawing a direct connection between Netanyahu’s personal abuses of office and the wider, systemic corruption of Israeli politics, with the occupation its beating heart.

That may yet prove a tall order, especially when Israel faces no significant external pressure for change, either from the US or from Europe.

• First published in The National

Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria

As illegal Jewish settlers increase their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the occupied city of Al Khalil (Hebron), the people of the Palestinian city continue to mount a campaign of popular resistance.

One of the channels of resistance is Human Rights Defenders, “a grass-roots, non-partisan Palestinian organization, working to support nonviolent popular resistance through popular direct action and documentation of human rights violations committed by the Occupation.”

To understand the situation in Hebron better, I spoke to Badee Dwaik, head of ‘Human Rights Defenders’, Raghad Neiroukh, a journalist, and Flora Thomas, a British solidarity activist.

The conversation included another member of HRD, Imad Abu Shamsiyah, the courageous activist who filmed the murder of a Palestinian young man, Abdul Fattah al-Sharif.

On March 24, 2016, Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, killed al-Sharif in cold blood in Hebron. The Israeli army later claimed that al-Sharif, and another Palestinian, tried to stab an Israeli soldier.

The murder was rightly dubbed ‘extrajudicial execution’ by human rights organizations. Under international pressure, Israel tried Azaria in court, sentencing him to eighteen months’ imprisonment, but eventually released him fourteen months later, to be received as a hero by many Israeli politicians, his family and ordinary people.

I asked Abu Shamsiyah about the events that took place on that day, when he had personally witnessed and filmed the execution of the Palestinian young man.

“It was about 8 o’clock in the morning and I was having coffee with my wife. I heard the sound of shooting outside, very close to my house,” Abu Shamsiyah began.

“I immediately went out to see what was going on, and my wife followed me. She brought the camera with her.

“I found out that a person was lying in the street. He was wearing a black t-shirt and trousers.”

“I saw that there was also another person on the ground. I moved my camera to capture him on film and noticed that he was bleeding from his face.”

“I observed a few Israeli soldiers approaching one of the people on the ground; they were very close to me.”

“I realized that Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was a Palestinian only when I saw an Israeli soldier kicking him.”

“When the Israeli soldier kicked him, al-Sharif moved both of his legs and his hands; and I captured this with my camera.”

“At that moment, my wife started shouting, saying: ‘Haram, haram,’ and tried to help the wounded young man.”

“When the soldiers heard her screams, they noticed our presence in the street. So they forced us to leave the street; they chased us away.”

“I went home but I began to think of another way to continue filming. I climbed on to the roof of a neighbor’s house and resumed filming the execution.”

“I saw an Israeli ambulance arriving in the area, but it didn’t go towards al-Sharif; instead, it went towards the other person who was still lying on the ground. Only then, I realized that the other person was, in fact, an Israeli soldier.”

“So I zoomed in the camera to capture a better image of the soldier, who (looked as if) slightly injured. The ambulance gave him first aid and treated him, while they denied any treatment to al-Sharif and the other wounded Palestinian.”

“They carried the Israeli soldier into the ambulance; I zoomed in again, and he was already standing; as I said before, he was (clearly) only slightly injured.”

“The ambulance began to turn around to leave the area. It was then that I heard the sound of one of the soldiers loading his gun. He got closer and closer to where al-Sharif was (still lying down). When he was about one meter away, he pointed the gun at al-Sharif’s head.”

“Al-Sharif did not pose any threat to the soldier, whose name was revealed later in the media to be Elor Azaria. It was Azaria who shot the wounded Palestinian in the head.”

“I was still filming, and one of the Jewish settlers, who noticed me, told the soldiers about me. One of the soldiers turned towards me and ordered me to leave the area, but I was already leaving because I had filmed the entire scene.”

“I immediately went to the ‘Human Rights Defenders’, where I uploaded the video and many people watched it.”

“Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians in cold blood, while accusing Palestinians of trying to stab soldiers.”

Following the incident and, throughout Azaria’s trial, Abu Shamsiyah and his family experienced much harassment by the Israeli army for revealing the truth that Israel wishes to keep hidden: the brutality of its soldiers, and the intrinsic relationship between the occupation army and the illegal Jewish settlers.

Speaking to Abu Shamsiyah four years after the tragic death of al-Sharif, the Palestinian activist remains steadfast in his belief that the ongoing Israeli human rights violations must be exposed. His voice conveys determination, not hesitation nor fear.

‘Human Rights Defenders’, like many other Palestinian groups, continues to channel and guide the popular resistance of the Palestinian people in Hebron and many towns and villages across Palestine. They are a testament to the resolve of Palestinian society – brave, steadfast and unbroken.

UK Labour Party teeters on Brink of Civil War Over Antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn, the former left-wing leader of Britain’s Labour party, is once again making headlines over an “antisemitism problem” he supposedly oversaw during his five years at the head of the party.

This time, however, the assault on his reputation is being led not by the usual suspects – pro-Israel lobbyists and a billionaire-owned media – but by Keir Starmer, the man who succeeded him.

Since becoming Labour leader in April, Starmer has helped to bolster the evidence-free narrative of a party plagued by antisemitism under Corbyn. That has included Starmer’s refusal to exploit two major opportunities to challenge that narrative.

Had those chances been grasped, Labour might have been able to demonstrate that Corbyn was the victim of an underhanded campaign to prevent him from reaching power.

Starmer, had he chosen to, could have shown that Corbyn’s long history as an anti-racism campaigner was twisted to discredit him. His decades of vocal support for Palestinian rights were publicly recast as a supposed irrational hatred of Israel based on an antipathy to Jews.

But instead Starmer chose to sacrifice his predecessor rather than risk being tarred with the same brush.

As a result, Labour now appears to be on the brink of open war. Competing rumors suggest Corbyn may be preparing to battle former staff through the courts, while Starmer may exile his predecessor from the party.

Rocketing membership

Corbyn’s troubles were inevitable the moment the mass membership elected him Labour leader in 2015 in defiance of the party bureaucracy and most Labour MPs. Corbyn was determined to revive the party as a vehicle for democratic socialism and end Britain’s role meddling overseas as a junior partner to the global hegemon of the United States.

That required breaking with Labour’s capture decades earlier, under Tony Blair, as a party of neoliberal orthodoxy at home and neoconservative orthodoxy abroad.

Until Corbyn arrived on the scene, Labour had become effectively a second party of capital alongside Britain’s ruling Conservative party, replicating the situation in the US with the Democratic and Republican parties.

His attempts to push the party back towards democratic socialism attracted hundreds of thousands of new members, quickly making Labour the largest party in Europe. But it also ensured a wide-ranging alliance of establishment interests was arrayed against him, including the British military, the corporate media, and the pro-Israel lobby.

Politicized investigation

Unlike Corbyn, Starmer has not previously shown any inclination to take on the might of the establishment. In fact, he had previously proven himself its willing servant.

As head of Britain’s prosecution service in 2013, for example, his department issued thinly veiled threats to Sweden to continue its legal pursuit of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who had sought political asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, even as Swedish interest in the case waned.

With his background in realpolitik, Starmer appears to have grasped quickly the danger of being seen to share any common ground with Corbyn – not only should he pursue significant elements of his predecessor’s program, but by challenging the carefully crafted establishment narrative around Corbyn.

For this reason, he has refused to seize either of the two chances presented to him to demonstrate that Labour had no more of an antisemitism problem than the relatively marginal one that exists more generally in British society.

That failure is likely to prove all the more significant given that in a matter of weeks Labour is expected to face the findings of an investigation by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The highly politicized watchdog body, which took on the probe into Labour while refusing to investigate plentiful evidence of an Islamophobia problem in the Conservative party, is expected to shore up the Corbyn-antisemitism narrative.

Labour has said it will readily accept the Commission’s findings, whatever they are. The watchdog body is likely to echo the prevailing narrative that Corbyn attracted left-wingers to the party who were ideologically tainted with antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. As a result, or so the argument goes, Jew hatred flourished on his watch.

Starmer has already declared “zero tolerance” of antisemitism, but he has appeared willing – in line with pro-Israel lobbyists in his party – to conflate Jew hatred with trenchant criticism of Israel.

The barely veiled intention is to drive Corbynite members out of Labour – either actively through suspensions or passively as their growing disillusionment leads to a mass exodus.

By distancing himself from his predecessor, Starmer knows no dirt will stick to him even as the Equality Commission drags Corbyn’s name through the mud.

Sabotaged from within

Starmer rejected the first chance to salvage the reputations of Corbyn and the wider Labour membership days after he became leader.

In mid-April, an 850-page internal party report was leaked, stuffed with the text of lengthy email exchanges and WhatsApp chats by senior party staff. They showed that, as had long been suspected, Corbyn’s own officials worked hard to sabotage his leadership from within.

Staff at headquarters still loyal to the Blair vision of the party even went so far as to actively throw the 2017 general election, when Labour was a hair’s-breadth away from ousting the Conservatives from government. These officials hoped a crushing defeat would lead to Corbyn’s removal from office.

The report described a “hyper-factional atmosphere”, with officials, including then-deputy leader Tom Watson, regularly referring to Corbyn and his supporters as “Trots” – a reference to Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of a violent Communist revolution in Russia more than a century ago.

Corbynites were thrown out of the party on the flimsiest pretexts, such as describing those like Blair who led the 2003 attack on Iraq as “warmongers”.

But one early, favored tactic by staff in the disciplinary unit was to publicize antisemitism cases and then drag out their resolution to create the impression that the party under Corbyn was not taking the issue seriously.

These officials also loosened the definition of antisemitism to pursue cases against Corbyn’s supporters who, like him, were vocal in defending Palestinian rights or critical of Israeli policies.

This led to the preposterous situation where Labour was suspending and expelling anti-Zionist Jews who supported Corbyn on the grounds that they were supposedly antisemites, while action was delayed on dealing with a Holocaust denier.

The narrative against Corbyn being crafted by his own officials was eagerly picked up and amplified by the strong contingent of Blairites among Labour legislators in the parliament, as well as by the corporate media and by Israel lobbyists both inside and outside Labour.

Effort to bury report

The parties responsible for leaking the report in April did so because Labour, now led by Starmer, had no intention of publicizing it.

In fact, the report had been originally compiled as part of Labour’s submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, effectively giving Corbyn’s side of the story against his opponents.

But once Corbyn stepped down, the party bureaucracy under Starmer preferred to shelve it. That decision meant there would be no case for the defense, and Corbyn’s opponents’ claims would go unchallenged.

Once leaked, Starmer stuck to his position. Rather than use the report as an opportunity to expose the ugly campaign against Corbyn and thereby question the antisemitism narrative, Starmer did his level best to bury it from sight.

He vowed to investigate “the circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain”. That sounded ominously like a threat to hound those who had tried to bring to light the party’s betrayal of its previous leader.

Rather than accept the evidence presented in the leaked report of internal corruption and the misuse of party funds, Starmer set up an inquiry under QC Martin Forde to investigate the earlier investigation.

The Forde inquiry looked like Starmer’s effort to kick the damaging revelations into the long grass.

The British media gave the leaked report – despite its earth-shattering revelations of Labour officials sabotaging an election campaign – little more than perfunctory coverage.

Labour ‘whistleblowers’

A second, related chance to challenge the Corbyn-antisemitism narrative reached its conclusion last week. And again, Starmer threw in Labour’s hand.

In July last year – long before the report had been leaked – the BBC’s prestige news investigation show Panorama set out to answer a question it posed in the episode’s title: “Is Labour Antisemitic?

John Ware, a reporter openly hostile to Corbyn and well-known for supporting Israel and his antipathy towards Muslims, was chosen to front the investigation.

The program presented eight former staff as “whistleblowers”, their testimonies supposedly exposing Corbyn’s indulgence of antisemitism. They included those who would soon be revealed in the leaked report as intractable ideological enemies of the Corbyn project and others who oversaw the dysfunctional complaints process that dragged its heels on resolving antisemitism cases.

The Panorama program was dismal even by the low standards of political reporting set by the BBC in the Corbyn era.

The show made much of the testimony of pro-Israel lobbyists inside the Labour party belonging to a group called the Jewish Labour Movement. They were not identified – either by name or by affiliation – despite being given the freedom to make anecdotal and unspecified claims of antisemitism against Corbyn and his supporters.

The BBC’s decision not to name these participants had nothing to do with protecting their identities, even though that was doubtless the impression conveyed to the audience.

Most were already known as Israel partisans because they had been exposed in a 2017 four-part al-Jazeera undercover documentary called The Lobby. They were filmed colluding with an Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, to bring down Corbyn. The BBC did not identify these pro-Israel activists presumably because they had zero credibility as witnesses.

One-sided coverage

Nonetheless, a seemingly stronger case – at least, at the time – was made by the eight former Labour staff. Their testimonies to the BBC suggested they had been hampered and bullied by Corbyn’s team as they tried to stamp out antisemitism.

Panorama allowed these claims to go unchallenged, even though with a little digging it could have tapped sources inside Labour who were already compiling what would become the leaked report, presenting a very different view of these self-styled “whistleblowers”.

The BBC also failed to talk to Jewish Voice for Labour, a group of Labour party members supportive of Corbyn who challenged the way the Jewish Labour Movement had manipulated the definition of antisemitism in the party to harm Palestinian solidarity activists.

And the BBC did not call as counter-witnesses any of the anti-Zionist Jews who were among the earliest victims of the purge of supposed antisemites by Labour’s apparent “whistleblowers”.

Instead, it selectively quoted from an email by Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s chief adviser, to suggest that he had interfered in the disciplinary process to help antisemites avoid suspension.

Proper context from the BBC would have revealed that Milne had simply expressed concern at how the rule book was being interpreted when several Jews had been suspended for antisemitism – and that he had proffered his view only because a staff member now claiming to be a whistleblower had asked for it.

This section of the Panorama show looked suspiciously like entrapment of Milne by Labour staff, followed by collusion from the BBC in promoting their false narrative.

Flawed reporting

Despite these and many other serious flaws in the Panorama episode, it set the tone for subsequent discussion of the “antisemitism problem” in Labour.

The program aired a few months before a general election, last December, that Corbyn lost to Boris Johnson and the ruling Conservative party.

One of the key damaging, “gotcha” moments of the campaign was an interview with the veteran BBC interviewer Andrew Neil in which he repeatedly asked Corbyn to apologize for antisemitism in the party, as had been supposedly exposed by Panorama. Corbyn’s refusal to respond directly to the question left him looking evasive and guilty.

With the rest of the media amplifying the Panorama claims rather than testing them, it has become the accepted benchmark for judging the Corbyn era. The show has even been nominated for a Bafta award, the British equivalent to an Oscar.

Shortly after the program aired, Corbyn’s team disputed the Panorama narrative, saying it had contained “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public”. They also described the “whistleblowers” as disaffected former staff with “political axes to grind”.

Ware and seven of the former staff members who appeared in the program launched a defamation action against the Labour party.

After the internal report was leaked in April, the legal scales tipped decisively in Labour’s favor. Starmer was reportedly advised by lawyers that the party would be well-positioned to defeat the legal action and clear Corbyn and the party’s name.

But again Starmer preferred to fold. Before the case could be tested in court, Starmer issued an apology last week to the ex-staff members and Ware, and paid them a six-figure sum in damages.

Admitting that “antisemitism has been a stain on the Labour Party in recent years”, the statement accepted the claims of the ex-staff to be “whistleblowers”, even capitalizing the word to aggrandize their status.

It said: “We acknowledge the many years of dedicated and committed service that the Whistleblowers have given to the Labour Party … We unreservedly withdraw all allegations of bad faith, malice and lying.”

Threat of bankruptcy

With typical understatement, Corbyn said he was “disappointed” at the settlement, calling it a “political decision, not a legal one”. He added that it “risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle antisemitism in the Labour party in recent years.”

Starmer’s decision also preempted – and effectively nullified – the Forde inquiry, which was due to submit its own findings on antisemitism in Labour later in the year.

Many in the party were infuriated that their membership dues had been used to pay off a group of ex-staff who, according to the leaked report, had undermined the party’s elected leader and helped to throw a general election.

But in what looked disturbingly like a move to silence Corbyn, Ware said he was consulting lawyers once again about launching a legal battle, personally against the former Labour leader, over his criticism of the settlement.

Mark Lewis, the solicitor acting for Ware and the whistleblowers, has said he is also preparing an action for damages against Labour on behalf of 32 individuals named in the leaked report. Among them is Lord Iain McNichol, who served as the party’s general secretary at the time.

Lewis reportedly intends to focus on staff privacy breaches under the Data Protection Act, disclosure of private information and alleged violations of employment law.

Conversely, Mark Howell, a Labour party member, has initiated an action against Labour and McNichol seeking damages for “breach of contract”. He demands that those named in the leaked report be expelled from the party.

He is also reported to be considering referring named staff members to the Crown Prosecution Service under the 2006 Fraud Act for their failure to uphold the interests of party members who paid staff salaries.

This spate of cases threatens to hemorrhage money from the party. There have been warnings that financial settlements, as well as members deserting the party in droves, could ultimately bankrupt Labour.

Corbyn to be expelled?

Within days of the apology, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than £280,000 for Corbyn to clear his name in any future legal actions.

Given his own self-serving strategy, Starmer would doubtless be embarrassed by such a move. There are already rumors that he is considering withdrawing the party whip from Corbyn – a form of exile from the party.

Pressure on him to do so is mounting. At the weekend it was reported that ex-staff might drop the threatened case over the embarrassing revelations contained in the leaked report should Starmer expel Corbyn.

Quoting someone it described as a “well-placed source”, the Mail on Sunday newspaper set out the new stakes. “Labour says they have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism. Zero tolerance means no Corbyn and no Corbynistas,” the source said.

There are already reports of what amounts to a purge of left-wing members from Labour.

Starmer has committed to upholding “10 Pledges” produced by the Board of Deputies – a conservative Jewish leadership organization hostile to Corbyn and the left – that places it and the pro-Israel lobbyists of the Jewish Labour Movement in charge of deciding what constitutes antisemitism in the party.

Selective concern

Starmer’s decision about who can serve in his shadow cabinet is a reminder that the storm over Corbyn was never about real antisemitism – the kind that targets Jews for being Jews. It was a pretext to be rid of the Corbyn project and democratic socialism.

Starmer quickly pushed out the last two prominent Corbynites in his shadow cabinet – both on matters related to criticism of Israel.

By contrast, he has happily indulged the kind of antisemitism that harms Jews as long as it comes from members of his shadow cabinet who are not associated with Corbyn.

Starmer picked Rachel Reeves for his team, even though earlier this year she tweeted a tribute to Nancy Astor, a supporter of Hitler and notorious antisemite. Reeves has refused to delete the tweet.

And Steve Reed is still the shadow communities secretary, even though this month he referred to a Jewish newspaper tycoon, Richard Desmond, as a “puppet master” – the very definition of an antisemitic trope.

Starmer’s “zero tolerance” appears to be highly selective – more concerned about harsh criticism of a state, Israel, than the othering of Jews. Tellingly, Starmer has been under no serious pressure from the Jewish Labour Movement, or from the media or from Jewish leadership organizations such as the Board of Deputies to take any action against either Reeves or Reed.

He has moved swiftly against leftists in his party who criticize Israel but has shrugged his shoulders at supposed “moderates” who, it could be argued, have encouraged or glorified hatred and suspicion of Jews.

But then the antisemitism furor was never about safeguarding Jews. It was about creating a cover story as the establishment protected itself from democratic socialism.

“Feeding a Bedouin”: Roy Oz and Israel’s Outrageous Racism 

On July 11, a video footage which showed a popular Israeli TV celebrity demeaning Palestinian children from the Bedouin community in the Naqab area, went viral on social media.

“Let’s feed a Bedouin. Don’t you want to feed a Bedouin?” Israeli Children TV host, Roy Oz, repeatedly asks his children, who were seated in the back seat of his car. Outside the vehicle, two Palestinian children were filmed as they stood waiting eagerly for the cookies promised to them by the Israeli driver.

Palestinian Bedouins are treated like “monkeys”, said Atia al-Asem, head of the Regional Council of Palestinian Villages in the Naqab, after viewing the disturbing footage.

Arab Member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Ahmad Tibi, described Oz’s behavior as the “lowest of human behavior, racist and despicable brutishness.”

In truth, Oz’s actions were merely consistent with the very racist reality that governs Israeli society — its laws, political institutions, media apparatus, its economic sector and popular perceptions.

In particular, the thousands of Palestinians who are still living in the Naqab desert have been subjected to a relentless Israeli campaign of dehumanization, racism, and ethnic cleansing.

Racism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Bedouin communities go hand in hand.  Oz’s video cannot be viewed separately from the Israeli government’s plans to corral Palestinians in the Naqab into isolated and impoverished communities in order to make space for Jewish-only housing developments.

For this sinister scenario to succeed, the Palestinian Bedouins need to be dehumanized by the Israeli political and media establishments. Oz’s racist video is a mere expression of this outrageous reality.

However, the issue exceeds that of the devastation and racism underway in the Naqab, into all aspects of Israeli lives.

In July 2018, Israel approved a “basic law”, dubbed the “Jewish nation-state law” that gave ascendency to everything Jewish and denigrated all else. It was a desperate, and ultimately failed, attempt at reconciling between the “Jewishness” of the state with universal democratic ideals.

“The Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established,” the new law said, celebrating the country as “the nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.”

In accordance with the above assertions, the new definition grants the “Jewish people”, everywhere, the right to “exercise  … the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel.”

The millions of Palestinian Arabs — Muslims, Christians and Druze — who share that same piece of land, though not as equals, have no place in Israel’s undemocratic definition of itself. Needless to say, the nearly 7 million Palestinian refugees were also excluded from claiming any rights in “the State of Israel”, including their internationally-enshrined Right of Return.

The Israeli Nation-State Law, however, must not be seen as the event that ushered in institutionalized racism in this country. Israel was founded on the racist principle that it belonged to the “Jewish people” only, and no one else, not even the Palestinian Arab natives of the land.

However, the law is significant in the sense that it represents the final blow to the hope that Israel will eventually come to terms with its past, and embrace the humanistic principles of equality, justice and democracy.

That hope — really an illusion — was dashed, and irrevocably so, as there is little resistance within Israel itself by any significant political force that is capable of confronting and defeating the racist, chauvinistic and ultra-nationalist trends that have always dominated the country.

According to an election survey published in January 2019, those who identified as “leftists” have dwindled  significantly, as they now represent only 12 percent of all Israelis – a number that includes Arab communities, where the left has historically had a strong presence.

This realization might be one of the reasons that made some optimists imagine that the supposed next best thing — Israel’s centrist Blue and White Party coalition under Benny Gantz — was still able to, at least, slow down the advancement of right-wing and religious parties.

These hopes persisted over the course of a tumultuous political year that witnessed three major elections in a row, despite the fact that many of Gantz’s stances were equally — if not even more — hawkish than those of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Unsurprisingly, on April 20, Gantz joined Netanyahu to form a coalition government that is arguably the most militaristic in the country’s modern history, as both camps are keen on a new military confrontation with Gaza and a massive annexation scheme of nearly 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.

Armed with constitutional racism, Israeli leaders can now justify, at least to themselves and their constituencies, any action that may be deemed abhorrent, illegal or racist by the rest of the world.

This is the very reality that allows racist ‘celebrities’, such as Roy Oz, to go on safari-like adventures with his well-fed children in their air-conditioned top model vehicles to hand cookies to malnourished and poor Palestinian Bedouin children in the Naqab.

For Israel, Oz is the epitome of the ultimate victory of the “Jewish people” — as defined by Israel’s racist Nation-State Law — over the alienated, corralled and victimized Palestinians.

But racism in Israel is not only the work of political institutions as a direct outcome of the disparities created by Israel’s military superiority and expansive colonial enterprises. It has long passed all of that into many other aspects of Israeli society, and can be felt in other sectors of law, economy, the health care system and education; especially education.

Aside from the “racist ideology” taught in Israeli public schools, which denies the historical roots of Palestinians in their own land, and often demeans the Palestinian natives in ways that violate the minimal standards of modern education — let alone human rights — the very set-up of the educational system is a testimony to Israel’s deeply entrenched racism.

Schools dedicated to Palestinian Arab children in Israel are “a world apart in quality from the public schools serving Israel’s majority Jewish population,” according to one Human Rights Watch report.

“Often overcrowded and understaffed, poorly built, badly maintained, or simply unavailable, schools for Palestinian Arab children offer fewer facilities and educational opportunities than are offered other Israeli children.”

Racism accompanies the average Jewish citizen of Israel from the hospital where he is born, to the iniquitous school system, to the discriminatory business sector, to the utterly racist fans at the soccer field, to the unruly, murderous army and beyond. And every step of the way, Palestinians are belittled, dehumanized, exploited, subjugated, confined, imprisoned and, in many instances, killed.

With that being the everyday reality in Israel and Palestine, should we really be surprised that a morally bankrupt fool like Roy Oz mistreated Bedouin children, offering them candy as if zoo animals?

The truth is, Oz is the actual face of Israel — privileged, entitled, racist and delusional. And the same way Israeli media — which gives the likes of Oz his celebrity status — should be shunned and boycotted, Israel should also be sanctioned and boycotted. Because, without international pressure, Israel will never, on its own, confront its demons of military occupation, apartheid and deep-rooted racism.