Category Archives: Apartheid

Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda

The Nakba is back on the Palestinian agenda.

For nearly three decades, Palestinians were told that the Nakba – or Catastrophe – is a thing of the past. That real peace requires compromises and sacrifices; therefore, the original sin that has led to the destruction of their historic homeland should be entirely removed from any ‘pragmatic’ political discourse. They were urged to move on.

The consequences of that shift in narrative were dire. Disowning the Nakba, the single most important event that shaped modern Palestinian history, has resulted in more than political division between the so-called radicals and the supposedly peace-loving pragmatists, the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. It also divided Palestinian communities in Palestine and across the world around political, ideological and class lines.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, it became clear that the Palestinian struggle for freedom was being entirely redefined and reframed. It was no longer a Palestinian fight against Zionism and Israeli settler colonialism that goes back to the start of the 20th century, but a ‘conflict’ between two equal parties, with equally legitimate territorial claims that can only be resolved through ‘painful concessions’.

The first of such concessions was relegating the core issue of the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees who were driven out of their villages and cities in 1947-48. That Palestinian Nakba paved the way for Israel’s ‘independence’, which was declared atop the rubble and smoke of nearly 500 destroyed and burnt Palestinian villages and towns.

At the start of the ‘peace process’, Israel was asked to honor the Right of Return for Palestinians, although symbolically. Israel refused. Palestinians were then pushed to relegate that fundamental issue to a ‘final status negotiations’, which never took place. This meant that millions of Palestinian refugees – many of whom are still living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as the occupied Palestinian territories – were dropped from the political conversation altogether.

If it were not for the continued social and cultural activities of the refugees themselves, insisting on their rights and teaching their children to do the same, such terms as the Nakba and Right of Return would have been completely dropped out of the Palestinian political lexicon.

While some Palestinians rejected the marginalization of the refugees, insisting that the subject is a political not merely a humanitarian one, others were willing to move on as if this right was of no consequence. Various Palestinian officials affiliated with the now defunct ‘peace process’ have made it clear that the Right of Return was no longer a Palestinian priority. But none came even close to the way that PA President Abbas, himself, framed the Palestinian position in a 2012 interview with Israeli Channel 2.

“Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am [a] refugee, but I am living in Ramallah,” he said.

Abbas had it completely wrong, of course. Whether he wished to exercise his right of return or not, that right, according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, is simply “inalienable”, meaning that neither Israel, nor the Palestinians themselves, can deny or forfeit it.

Let alone the lack of intellectual integrity of separating the tragic reality of the present from its main root cause, Abbas lacked political wisdom as well. With his ‘peace process’ floundering, and with the lack of any tangible political solution, he simply decided to abandon millions of refugees, denying them the very hope of having their homes, land or dignity restored.

Since then, Israel, along with the United States, has fought Palestinians on two different fronts: one, through denying them any political horizon and, the other, by attempting to dismantle their historically enshrined rights, mainly their Right of Return. Washington’s war on the Palestinian refugees’ agency, UNRWA, falls under the latter category as the aim was – and remains – the destruction of the very legal and humanitarian infrastructures that allow Palestinian refugees to see themselves as a collective of people seeking repatriation, reparations and justice.

Yet, all such efforts continue to fail. Far more important than Abbas’ personal concessions to Israel, UNRWA’s ever-shrinking budget or the failure of the international community to restore Palestinian rights, is the fact that the Palestinian people are, once again, unifying around the Nakba anniversary, thus insisting on the Right of Return for the seven million refugees in Palestine and the shattat – Diaspora.

Ironically, it was Israel that has unwittingly re-unified Palestinians around the Nakba. By refusing to concede an inch of Palestine, let alone allow Palestinians to claim any victory, a State of their own – demilitarized or otherwise – or allow a single refugee to go home, Palestinians were forced to abandon Oslo and its numerous illusions. The once popular argument that the Right of Return was simply ‘impractical’ no longer matters, neither to ordinary Palestinians nor to their intellectual or political elites.

In political logic, for something to be impossible, an alternative would have to be attainable. However, with Palestinian reality worsening under the deepening system of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, Palestinians now understand that they have no possible alternative but their unity, their resistance and the return to the fundamentals of their struggle. The Unity Intifada of last May was a culmination of this new realization. Moreover, the Nakba anniversary commemoration rallies and events throughout historic Palestine and the world on May 15 have further helped crystallize the new discourse that the Nakba is no longer symbolic and the Right of Return is the collective, core demand of most Palestinians.

Israel is now an apartheid state in the real meaning of the word. Israeli apartheid, like any such system of racial separation, aims at protecting the gains of nearly 74 years of unhinged colonialism, land theft and military dominance. Palestinians, whether in Haifa, Gaza or Jerusalem, now fully understand this, and are increasingly fighting back as one nation.

And since the Nakba and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinian refugees are the common denominator behind all Palestinian suffering, the term and its underpinnings are back at center stage of any meaningful conversation on Palestine, as should have always been the case.

The post Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Liberal budget funds apologists for Israeli crimes

As more and more Canadians, including university students across the country, oppose Israel’s apartheid policies. the Liberals devoted millions of dollars in the recent federal budget to strengthen anti-Palestinian forces.

They put up $5.6 million over five years for Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. The position was created a year and a half ago for one of Canada’s chief apartheid apologists, Irwin Cotler. A staunch proponent of Israeli colonialism, Cotler has a home in Israel and his daughter was recently a member of the Knesset. In response to a recent speech Cotler delivered at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, 45 faculty members sent the Dean a letter saying the event “reinforced anti-Palestinian racism in a way that is consistent with a broader pattern of silencing and erasure of Palestinian voices.”

Cotler has been bemoaning the “new anti-Semitism” of those who support Palestinian rights for decades. After Canada’s largest ever Palestinian solidarity demonstrations — largely by racialized Canadians — in May 2021 Cotler led an antisemitism summit and began decrying the worst antisemitism in Canada since World War II. (As Cotler knows, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became illegal to block Jews and other groups from purchasing property in some neighborhoods. Some social clubs also restricted Jewish membership into the 1960s.)

Mimicking Canada, the Israeli government recently created its own Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization. In appointing Noa Tishby to the position Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid talked about those accusing Israel of “apartheid”, making it clear the aim of the position is to combat groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that have detailed Israeli apartheid. Cotler immediately applauded the Israeli government’s move to set up an envoy and announced he was planning to work with Tishby.

The Liberals budget also funneled $20 million into a new Montréal Holocaust Museum, which is scheduled to move to the centre of the city in 2025. That institution lists Federation Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) of Montréal as its “Beneficiary” and its largest donor was the Azrieli Foundation. The Azrieli Foundation has financed projects that benefit the Israeli military and the Azrielis made a controversial donation to Im Tirtzu, which was deemed a “fascist” group by an Israeli court. CJA has promoted Canadians joining the IDF. Its website also proclaims that its Community Recovery & Resilience Campaign co-chair Mitch Garber’s “eldest son Dylan just completed his service as a lone soldier serving in an elite Cyber Defense intelligence Unit of the IDF in Israel.”

The museum has co-sponsored initiatives with CJA, B’nai BrithCentre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and other anti-Palestinian lobby groups. A former museum fundraiser, Mikhael Goldshtein, boasts that he fought in the IDF for eight years.

In 2020 it released a statement titled “The Montreal Holocaust Museum regretfully notes the Montreal Mayor’s refusal to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.” The IHRA definition seeks to label criticisms of Israeli policy as antisemitic. Seven of the definition’s 11 illustrative examples refer to Israel.

In addition to the Montreal Holocaust Museum’s overt anti-Palestinian alignment, Hitler’s destruction of European Jewry has long been weaponized against Palestinians. In his 2000 book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, Norman Finkelstein, whose grandparents perished in Nazi death camps, argues that the American Jewish establishment exploited the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for economic and political gain and to further the interests of Israel. Since the book was written, Israel lobbyists’ reliance on antisemitism/Nazi Holocaust claims to undermine Palestine solidarity has grown substantially.

If the Montréal Holocaust Museum refuses to distance itself — by declaring its support for Palestinian rights — from those using the Nazis’ extermination of European Jewry to justify subjugating Palestinians it should be opposed. Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism should be categorically rejected. Cotler is a liberal imperialist who has spent his life working to subjugate Palestinians.

With their recent budget the Liberals have reaffirmed their anti-Palestinian policy. People who support human rights for all and oppose Israel’s apartheid policies take note.

The post Liberal budget funds apologists for Israeli crimes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future

[This is the transcript of a talk I gave to Bath Friends of Palestine on 25 February 2022.]

Since I arrived with my family in the UK last summer, I have been repeatedly asked: “Why choose Bristol as your new home?”

Well, it certainly wasn’t for the weather. Now more than ever I miss Nazareth’s warmth and sunshine.

It wasn’t for the food either.

My family do have a minor connection to Bristol. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side (one from Cornwall, the other from South Wales) apparently met in Bristol – a coincidental stopping point on their separate journeys to London. They married and started a family whose line led to me.

But that distant link wasn’t the reason for coming to Bristol either.

In fact, it was only in Nazareth that Bristol began occupying a more prominent place in my family’s life.

When I was not doing journalism, I spent many years leading political tours of the Galilee, while my wife, Sally, hosted and fed many of the participants in her cultural café in Nazareth, called Liwan.

It was soon clear that a disproportionate number of our guests hailed from Bristol and the south-west. Some of you here tonight may have been among them.

But my world – like everyone else’s – started to shrink as the pandemic took hold in early 2020. As we lost visitors and the chance to directly engage with them about Palestine, Bristol began to reach out to me.

Toppled statue

It did so just as Sally and I were beginning discussions about whether it was time to leave Nazareth – 20 years after I had arrived – and head to the UK.

Even from thousands of miles away, a momentous event – the sound of Edward Colston’s statue being toppled – reverberated loudly with me.

Ordinary people had decided they were no longer willing to be forced to venerate a slave trader, one of the most conspicious criminals of Britain’s colonial past. Even if briefly, the people of Bristol took back control of their city’s public space for themselves, and for humanity.

In doing so, they firmly thrust Britain’s sordid past – the unexamined background to most of our lives – into the light of day. It is because of their defiance that buildings and institutions that for centuries bore Colston’s name as a badge of honour are finally being forced to confront that past and make amends.

Bath, of course, was built no less on the profits of the slave trade. When visitors come to Bath simply to admire its grand Georgian architecture, its Royal Crescent, we assent – if only through ignorance – to the crimes that paid for all that splendour.

Weeks after the Colston statue was toppled, Bristol made headlines again. Crowds protested efforts to transfer yet more powers to the police to curb our already savagely diminished right to protest – the most fundamental of all democratic rights. Bristol made more noise against that bill than possibly anywhere else in the UK.

I ended up writing about both events from Nazareth.

Blind to history

Since my arrival, old and new friends alike have started to educate me about Bristol. Early on I attended a slavery tour in the city centre – one that connected those historic crimes with the current troubles faced by asylum seekers in Bristol, even as Bristol lays claim to the title of “city of sanctuary”.

For once I was being guided rather than the guide, the pupil rather than the teacher – so long my role on those tours in and around Nazareth. And I could not but help notice, as we wandered through Bristol’s streets, echoes of my own tours.

Over the years I have taken many hundreds of groups around the ruins of Saffuriya, one of the largest of the Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in its ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948, the Nakba or Catastrophe.

What disturbed me most in Saffuriya was how blind its new inhabitants were to the very recent history of the place they call home.

New Jewish immigrants were moved on to the lands of Saffuriya weeks after the Israeli army destroyed the village and chased out the native Palestinian population at gunpoint. A new community built in its place was given a similar Hebrew name, Tzipori. These events were repeated across historic Palestine. Hundreds of villages were razed, and 80 per cent of the Palestinian population were expelled from what became the new state of Israel.

Troubling clues

Even today, evidence of the crimes committed in the name of these newcomers is visible everywhere. The hillsides are littered with the rubble of the hundreds of Palestinian homes that were levelled by the new Israeli army to stop their residents from returning. And there are neglected grave-stones all around – pointers to the community that was disappeared.

And yet almost no one in Jewish Tzipori asks questions about the remnants of Palestinian Saffuriya, about these clues to a troubling past. Brainwashed by reassuring state narratives, they have averted their gaze for fear of what might become visible if they looked any closer.

Tzipori’s residents never ask why there are only Jews like themselves allowed in their community, when half of the population in the surrounding area of the Galilee are Palestinian by heritage.

Instead, the people of Tzipori misleadingly refer to their Palestinian neighbours – forced to live apart from them as second and third-class citizens of a self-declared Jewish state – as “Israeli Arabs”. The purpose is to obscure, both to themselves and the outside world, the connection of these so-called Arabs to the Palestinian people.

To acknowledge the crimes Tzipori has inflicted on Saffuriya would also be to acknowledge a bigger story: of the crimes inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole.

Shroud of silence

Most of us in Britain do something very similar.

In young Israel, Jews still venerate the criminals of their recent past because they and their loved ones are so intimately and freshly implicated in the crimes.

In Britain, with its much longer colonial past, the same result is often achieved not, as in Israel, through open cheerleading and glorification – though there is some of that too – but chiefly through a complicit silence. Colston surveyed his city from up on his plinth. He stood above us, superior, paternal, authoritative. His crimes did not need denying because they had been effectively shrouded in silence.

Until Colston was toppled, slavery for most Britons was entirely absent from the narrative of Britain’s past – it was something to do with racist plantation owners in the United States’ Deep South more than a century ago. It was an issue we thought about only when Hollywood raised it.

After the Colston statue came down, he became an exhibit – flat on his back – in Bristol’s harbourside museum, the M Shed. His black robes had been smeared with red paint, and scuffed and grazed from being dragged through the streets. He became a relic of the past, and one denied his grandeur. We were able to observe him variously with curiousity, contempt or amusement.

Those are far better responses than reverence or silence. But they are not enough. Because Colston isn’t just a relic. He is a living, breathing reminder that we are still complicit in colonial crimes, even if now they are invariably better disguised.

Nowadays, we usually interfere in the name of fiscal responsibility or humanitarianism, rather than the white man’s burden.

We return to the countries we formerly colonised and asset-stripped, and drive them back into permanent debt slavery through western-controlled monetary agencies like the IMF.

Or in the case of those that refuse to submit, we more often than not invade or subvert them – countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Iran – tearing apart the colonial fabric we imposed on them, wrecking their societies in ways that invariably lead to mass death and the dispersion of the population.

We have supplied the bombs and planes to Saudi Arabia that are killing untold numbers of civilians in Yemen. We funded and trained the Islamic extremists who terrorise and behead civilians in Syria. The list is too long for me to recount here.

Right now, we see the consequences of the west’s neo-colonialism – and a predictable countervailing reaction, in the resurgence of a Russian nationalism that President Putin has harnessed to his own ends – in NATO’s relentless, decades-long expansion towards Russia’s borders.

And of course, we are still deeply invested in the settler colonial project of Israel, and the crimes it systematically inflicts on the Palestinian people.

Divine plan

Through the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain gave licence for the creation of a militarised ethnic, Jewish state in the Middle East. Later, we helped supply it with atomic material in the full knowledge that Israel would build nuclear bombs. We gave Israel diplomatic cover so that it could evade its obligations under the international treaty to stop nuclear proliferation and become the only nuclear power in the region. We have had Israel’s back through more than five decades of occupation and illegal settlement building.

And significantly, we have endlessly indulged Zionism as it has evolved from its sordid origins nearly two centuries ago, as an antisemitic movement among fundamentalist Christians. Those Christian Zonists – who at the time served as the power brokers in European governments like Britain’s – viewed Jews as mere instruments in a divine plan.

According to this plan, Jews were to be denied the chance to properly integrate into the countries to which they assumed they belonged.

Instead the Christian Zionists wanted to herd Jews into an imagined ancient, Biblical land of Israel, to speed up the arrival of the end times, when mankind would be judged and only good Christians would rise up to be with God.

Until Hitler took this western antisemitism to another level, few Jews subscribed to the idea that they were doomed forever to be a people apart, that their fate was inextricably tied to a small piece of territory in a far-off region they had never visited, and that their political allies should be millenarian racists.

But after the Holocaust, things changed. Christian Zionists looked like much kinder antisemites than the exterminationist Nazis. Christian Zionism won by default and was reborn as Jewish Zionism, claiming to be a national liberation movement rather than the dregs of a white European nationalism Hitler had intensified.

Today, we are presented with polls showing that most British Jews subscribe to the ugly ideas of Zionism – ideas their great-great-grandparents abhorred. Jews who dissent, who believe that we are all the same, that we all share a common fate as humans not as tribes, are ignored or dismissed as self-haters. In an inversion of reality these humanist Jews, rather than Jewish Zionists, are seen as the pawns of the antisemites.

Perverse ideology

Zionism as a political movement is so pampered, so embedded within European and American political establishments that those Jews who rally behind this ethnic nationalism no longer consider their beliefs to be abnormal or abhorrent – as their views would have been judged by most Jews only a few generations ago.

No, today Jewish Zionists think of their views as so self-evident, so vitally important to Jewish self-preservation that anyone who opposes them must be either a self-hating Jew or an antisemite.

And because non-Jews so little understand their own culpability in fomenting this perverse ideology of Jewish Zionism, we join in the ritual defaming of those brave Jews who point out how far we have stepped through the looking glass.

As a result, we unthinkingly give our backing to the Zionists as they weaponise antisemitism against those – Jews and non-Jews alike – who stand in solidarity with the native Palestinian people so long oppressed by western colonialism.

Thoughtlessly, too many of us have drifted once again into a sympathy for the oppressor – this time, Zonism’s barely veiled anti-Palestinian racism.

Nonetheless, our attitudes towards modern Israel, given British history, can be complex. On the one hand, there are good reasons to avert our gaze. Israel’s crimes today are an echo and reminder of our own crimes yesterday. Western governments subsidise Israel’s crimes through trade agreements, they provide the weapons for Israel to commit those crimes, and they profit from the new arms and cyber-weapons Israel has developed by testing them out on Palestinians. Like the now-defunct apartheid South Africa, Israel is a central ally in the west’s neo-colonialism.

So, yes, Israel is tied to us by an umbilical cord. We are its parent. But at the same time it is also not exactly like us either – more a bastard progeny. And that difference, that distance can help us gain a little perspective on ourselves. It can make Israel a teaching aid. An eye-opener. A place that can bring clarity, elucidate not only what Israel is doing but what countries like Britain have done and are still doing to this day.

Trade in bodies

The difference between Britain and Israel is to be found in the distinction between a colonial and a settler-colonial state.

Britain is a classic example of the former. It sent the entitled sons of its elite private schools, men like Colston, to parts of the globe rich in resources in order to steal those resources and bring the wealth back to the motherland to further enrich the establishment. That was the purpose of the tea and sugar plantations.

But it was not just a trade in inanimate objects. Britain also traded in bodies – mostly black bodies. Labour and muscle were a resource as vital to the British empire as silk and saffron.

The trafficking in goods and people lasted more than four centuries until liberation movements among the native populations began to throw off – at least partially – the yoke of British and European colonialism. The story since the Second World War has been one of Europe and the United States’ efforts to reinvent colonialism, conducting their rape and pillage at a distance, through the hands of others.

This is the dissembling, modern brand of colonialism: a “humanitarian” neocolonialism we should by now be familiar with. Global corporations, monetary
agencies like the IMF and the military alliance of NATO have each played a key role in the reinvention of colonialism – as has Israel.

Elimination strategies

Israel inherited Britain’s colonial tradition, and permanently adopted many of its emergency orders for use against the Palestinians. Like traditional colonialism, settler colonialism is determined to appropriate the resources of the natives. But it does so in an even more conspicuous, uncompromising way. It does not just exploit the natives. It seeks to replace or eliminate them. That way, they can never be in a position to liberate themselves and their homeland.

There is nothing new about this approach. It was adopted by European colonists across much of the globe: in North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as belatedly in the Middle East.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the settler colonial strategy, as Israel illustrates only too clearly. In their struggle to replace the natives, Israel’s settlers had to craft a narrative – a rationalisation – that they were the victims rather than the victimisers. They were, of course, fleeing persecution in Europe, but only to become persecutors themselves outside Europe. They were supposedly in a battle for survival against those they came to replace, the Palestinians. The natives were cast as irredeemably, and irrationally, hostile. God was invoked, more or less explicitly.

In the Zionist story, the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians – the Nakba – becomes a War of Independence, celebrated to this day. The Zionist colonisers thereby transformed themselves into another national liberation movement, like the ones in Africa that were fighting after the Second World War for independence. Israel claimed to be fighting oppressive British rule, as Africans were, rather than inheriting the colonisers’ mantle.

But there is a disadvantage for settler colonial projects too, especially in an era of better communications. In a time of more democratic media, as we are currently enjoying – even if briefly – the colonisers’ elimination strategies are much harder to veil or airbrush. The ugliness is on show. The reality of the oppression is more visceral, more obviously offensive.

Apartheid named

The settlers’ elimination strategies are limited in number, and difficult to conceal whichever is adopted. In the United States, elimination took the form of genocide – the simplest and neatest of settler-colonialism’s solutions.

In the post-war era of human rights, however, Israel was denied that route. It adopted settler colonialism’s fall-back position: mass expulsion, or ethnic cleansing. Some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and outside the new borders of Israel in 1948.

But genocide and ethnic cleansing are invariably projects that cannot be completed. Some 90 per cent of Native Americans died from the violence and diseases brought by European incomers, but a small proportion survived. In South Africa, the white immigrants lacked the numbers and capacity either to eradicate the native population or to exploit such a vast territory.

Israel managed to expel only 80 per cent of the Palestinians living inside its new borders before the international community called time. And then Israel sabotaged its initial success in 1948 by seizing yet more Palestinian territory – and more Palestinians – in 1967.

When settler populations cannot eradicate the native population completely, they must impose harsh, visible segregation policies against those that remain.

Resources and rights are differentiated on the basis of race or ethnicity. Such regimes institute apartheid – or as Israel calls its version “hafrada” – to maintain the privileges of their own, superior or chosen population.

Colonial mentality

Many decades on, human rights groups have finally named Israel’s apartheid. Amnesty International got round to it only this month – 74 years after the Nakba and 55 years after the occupation began.

It has taken so long because even our understanding of human rights continues to be shaped by a European colonial mentality. Human rights groups have documented Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians – the “what” of their oppression – but refused to understand the “why” of that oppression. These watchdogs did not truly listen to Palestinians. They listened to, they excused, Israel even as they were criticising it. They indulged its endless security rationales for its crimes against Palestinians.

The reluctance to name Israeli apartheid derives in large part from a reluctance to face our part in its creation. To identify Israel’s apartheid is to recognise both our role in sustaining it, and Israel’s crucial place in the west’s reinvented neocolonialism.

Being ‘offensive’

The difficulty of facing up to what Israel is and what it represents is, of course, particularly stark for many Jews – not only in Israel but in countries like Britain. Through no choice of their own, Jews are more deeply implicated in Israel’s crimes because those crimes are carried out in the name of all Jews. As a result, for Zionist Jews, protecting the settler colonial project of Israel is identical to protecting their own sense of virtue.

In the zero-sum imaginings of the Zionist movement, the stakes are too high to doubt or to equivocate. As Zionists, their duty is to support, dissemble and propagandise on Israel’s behalf at all costs.

Nowadays Zionism has become such a normalised part of our western culture that those who call themselves Zionists are appalled at the idea anyone could dare to point out that their ideology is rooted in an ugly ethnic nationalism and in apartheid. Those who make them feel uncomfortable by highlighting the reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – and their blindness to it – are accused of being “offensive”.

That supposed offensiveness is now conflated with antisemitism, as the treatment of Ken Loach, the respected film-maker of this parish, attests. Disgust at Israel’s racism towards Palestinians is malevolently confused with racism towards Jews. The truth is inverted.

This confusion has also become the basis for a new definition of antisemitism – one aggressively advanced by Israel and its apologists – designed to mislead casual onlookers. The more we, as anti-racists and opponents of colonialism, try to focus attention and opprobrium on Israel’s crimes, the more we are accused of covertly attacking Jews.

Into the fire

Arriving in the UK from Nazareth at this very moment is like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Here the battle over Zionism – defining it, understanding it, confronting it, refusing to be silenced by it – is in full flood. The Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was politically eviscerated by a redefined antisemitism. Now the party’s ranks are being purged by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, on the same phony grounds.

Professors are being threatened and losing their jobs, as happened to David Miller at Bristol university, with the goal of intensifying pressure on the academy to keep silent about Israel and its lobbyists. Exhibitions are taken down, speakers cancelled.

And all the while, the current western obsession with redefining antisemitism – the latest cover story for apartheid Israel – moves us ever further from sensitivity to real racism, whether it be genuine prejudice against Jews or rampant Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.

The fight for justice for Palestinians resonates with so many of us precisely because it is not simply a struggle to help Palestinians. It is a fight to end colonialism in all its forms, to end our inhumanity towards those we live alongside, to remember that we are all equally human and all equally entitled to respect and dignity.

The story of Palestine is a loud echo from our past. Maybe the loudest. If we cannot hear it, then we cannot learn – and we cannot take the first steps on the path towards real change.

The post Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How Can One Remain Silent?

I have never doubted that apartheid – because it was of itself fundamentally, intrinsically evil – was going to bite the dust eventually.

— Desmond Tutu, 2007

Along with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Nelson Mandela ‘Madiba,’ and Martin Luther King, Jr., the world has lost one of the greatest souls of the last two centuries or any prior — the last of the rare iconic figures who truly, genuinely cared for and spoke up with courage and conviction for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the humiliated, and any and all abused humankind.

These years of the raging COVID pandemic continue and spill over to 2022 – and have brought to an end the physical presence of one of humanity’s finest — the anti-apartheid human-rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. But there is no doubt that his thoughts, words, and actions will continue to be powerful and compelling forces for good for those who care and dream about a kinder, gentler, more just world — most principally, a free Palestine: “From the River to the Sea” — and Palestinian Muslims’ and Christians’ right to return to their own homeland from many points of diaspora.

The evidence is abundant and irrefutable: Palestine is the current-era victim of apartheid — an epic tragedy very recently (mid-2021) confirmed by both Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. The above quotation is one example of Archbishop Tutu’s distaste for apartheid. Here are others apropos the Palestinians’ torment:

(2014) “Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free. He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.”

(2014) “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”

(2014) “(Palestinians’) humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

(2014) “I know first-hand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.”

Archbishop Tutu was honored years ago with the title “International Patron of Sabeel” — his Christian-brotherhood association with the Palestinian Christian organization Sabeel Ecumenical Christian Liberation Center, established in 1989. (Sabeel is Arabic for “the way” or “the path.”) Sabeel, in a statement issued on 12-28-2021, wrote “Bishop Tutu spent his life actively struggling against apartheid and working for the liberation of his South African people.  Equally, however, he was committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people from the oppression and apartheid of the Israeli government in Israel and Palestine. For many years… he faithfully advocated for the achievement of justice, truth, inclusivity, equality, and liberation for all our Palestinian people.”

Elsewhere in this suffering world, we single out the ‘savages’ of India — the RSS, Hindutva/Sanghi promoters (followers of Nazism responsible for assassinating Gandhi) who are openly calling for GENOCIDE, taking up arms against and eliminating Muslims, Christians, and the Dalits (the ‘untouchables’). Perversely, they have also announced that all citizens of India must revert to Hinduism – the Pakistanis be made Hindus again – surely their DNA must have HINDU in them! Soon a civil war will be engaged — it is already in the making enabled by the ruling party of India, headed by Narendra Modi — he is completely SILENT: such an appalling prospect! And of course the majority who continue to be silent, covertly believing all along in the same or coming out of the woodwork now, have been emboldened by the silent stance of their government. They are putting up vile, demeaning and dehumanizing images of prominent Muslim women for auction: the ‘Sulli’ ‘Bulli’ deals that are circulating freely and brazenly.

And to add to the danse macabre of India: Kashmir is as occupied and oppressed as is Palestine. India plays by the colonial Zionist ‘playbook’: they believe in the same policies of oppression, humiliation, and subjugation. They are the ‘bosom pals’ of Israel. With support, assistance, and training from Israel’s Mossad, the Indian military has created the world’s largest prison camp in Kashmir — deploying seven hundred thousand soldiers.

How can one remain silent? In Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s immortal and searing words: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” This is so apparent now and brings to mind the prediction of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan who said in 1945, “Muslims who are opposing Pakistan (now) will spend the rest of their lives proving loyalty to India.”

We wish fervently in this 2022 that our world would transform into a kinder, gentler, more compassionate, healthful and vibrant place to live, in empathy, justice, dignity, tolerance, peace, and all encompassing love!

The post How Can One Remain Silent? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Politics and Sports Do Mix: On FIFA’s Hypocrisy in Palestine and the Need to Isolate Apartheid Israel

Israel’s war on Palestinian sports is as old as the Israeli state itself.

For Palestinians, sport is a critical aspect of their popular culture, and since Palestinian culture itself is a target for the ongoing Israeli attack on Palestinian life in all of its manifestations, sports and athletes have been purposely targeted as well. Yet, the world’s main football governing body, FIFA, along with other international sports organizations, has done nothing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinian sports.

Now that FIFA, along with UEFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and others have swiftly joined the West’s anti-Russia measures as a result of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Palestinians and their supporters are puzzled. Years of relentless advocacy to sanction Israel at international sports competitions have paid little or no dividends. This has continued to be the case, despite the numerous documented facts of Israel’s intentional targeting of Palestinian stadiums, travel restrictions on athletes, the cancellation of sports events, the arrest and even killing of Palestinian footballers.

Many Palestinians, Arabs and international activists have already highlighted the issue of western hypocrisy in the case of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine by apartheid Israel within hours of the start of the Russian military operations. Almost immediately, an unprecedented wave of boycotts and sanctions of everything Russian, including music, art, theater, literature and, of course, sports, kicked in. What took the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa decades to achieve was carried out against Russia in a matter of hours and days.

Palestinians are justified to be baffled, since they have been informed by FIFA, time and again, that “sports and politics don’t mix”. Marvel at this hypocrisy to truly appreciate Palestinian frustration:

The FIFA Council acknowledges that the current situation (in Palestine and Israel) is, for reasons that have nothing to do with football, characterized by an exceptional complexity and sensitivity and by certain de facto circumstances that can neither be ignored nor changed unilaterally by non-governmental organizations such as FIFA.

That was, in part, the official FIFA position declared in October 2017, in response to a Palestinian request that the “six Israeli football clubs based in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories should either relocate to Israel or be banned from FIFA-recognized competitions”.

Two years later, Israel so callously canceled the FIFA Palestine Cup that was meant to bring Gaza’s top football team, Khadamat Rafah Club, and the West Bank’s FC Balata together in a dramatic final.

Palestinians perceive football as a respite from the hardship of life under siege and occupation. The highly anticipated event would have been a moment of precious unity among Palestinians and would have been followed by a large number of people, regardless of their political affiliation or geographic location. But, and “for no apparent reason”, as reported in The Nation, Israel decided to deny Palestinians that brief moment of joy.

Even then, FIFA did nothing, despite the fact that the event itself carried the name ‘FIFA’. Meanwhile, outright racist Israeli football teams, the likes of Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, are allowed to play unhindered, to travel unrestricted and to echo their favorite racist cheers, “Death to the Arabs,” as if racism in sports is the accepted routine.

FIFA’s double standards are abhorrent, to say the least. But FIFA is not the only hypocrite. On March 3, the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) went as far as denying athletes from Russia and Belarus the right to compete at this year’s Winter Paralympics held in Beijing. The decision was justified on the basis that having these athletes participate in the Games was “jeopardizing the viability” of the events and, supposedly, making the safety of the athletes “untenable,” despite the fact that the Russian and Belarusian athletes were, due to the political context, set to take part as ‘neutrals.’

Not only are Israeli athletes welcomed in all international sports events, the mere attempt by individual athletes to register a moral stance in support of Palestinians, by refusing to compete against Israelis, can be very costly. Algerian Judoka Fehi Nourine, for example, was suspended along with his coach for 10 years for withdrawing from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to avoid meeting an Israeli opponent. The same course of action was taken against other players and teams for displaying symbolic solidarity with Palestine, or even fans for merely raising Palestinian flags or chanting for Palestinian freedom.

Mohammed Aboutrika, the former Captain of the Egyptian National Football Team, was censured by FIFA in 2009 for merely displaying a shirt that read, in both Arabic and English, “Sympathize with Gaza”. For that supposedly egregious act, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) – a branch of FIFA – warned him against “mixing politics with sports”.

About the double standards of FIFA, Aboutrika recently said in a media interview that the “decision to suspend Russian clubs and teams from all competitions must be accompanied by a ban on those affiliated with Israel (because Israel) has been killing children and women in Palestine for years.”

It must be stated that the hypocrisy here goes well beyond Palestine and Israel, into numerous situations where those demanding justice and accountability are often affiliated with poor nations from the Global South, or causes that challenge the status quo, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, among others.

But there is much more that can be done aside from merely delineating the double standards or decrying the hypocrisy. True, it took the South African Anti-Apartheid movement many years to isolate the racist Apartheid government in Pretoria at international sports platforms around the world, but that seemingly impossible task was eventually achieved.

Palestinians, too, must now use these channels and platforms to continue pushing for justice and accountability. It will not take days, as is the case with Russia and Ukraine, but they will eventually succeed in isolating Israel, for, as it turned out, politics and sports do mix after all.

The post Politics and Sports Do Mix: On FIFA’s Hypocrisy in Palestine and the Need to Isolate Apartheid Israel first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Next Step in Palestine’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle is the Most Difficult

When Nelson Mandela was freed from his Robben Island prison on February 11, 1991, my family, friends and neighbors followed the event with keen interest as they gathered in the living room of my old home in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip.

This emotional event took place years before Mandela uttered his famous quote “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.  For us Palestinians Mandela did not need to reaffirm the South African people’s solidarity with Palestine by using these words or any other combination of words. We already knew. Emotions ran high on that day; tears were shed; supplications were made to Allah that Palestine, too, would be free soon. “Inshallah,” God willing, everyone in the room murmured with unprecedented optimism.

Though three decades have passed without that coveted freedom, something is finally changing as far as the Palestine liberation movement is concerned. A whole generation of Palestinian activists, who either grew up or were even born after Mandela’s release, was influenced by that significant moment: Mandela’s release and the start of the official dismantling of the racist, apartheid regime of South Africa.

Even the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 between Israel and some in the Palestinian leadership of the PLO – which served as a major disruption of the grassroots, people-oriented liberation movement in Palestine – did not completely end what eventually became a decided anti-Israeli apartheid struggle in Palestine. Oslo, the so-called ‘peace process’ – and the disastrous ‘security coordination’ between the Palestinian leadership, exemplified in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Israel – resulted in derailed Palestinian energies, wasted time, deepened existing factional divides, and confused Palestinian supporters everywhere. However, it did not – though it tried – occupy every political space available for Palestinian expression and mobilization.

With time and, in fact, soon after its formation in 1994, Palestinians began realizing that the PA was not a platform for liberation, but a hindrance to it. A new generation of Palestinians is now attempting to articulate, or refashion, a new discourse for liberation that is based on inclusiveness, grassroots, community-based activism that is backed by a growing global solidarity movement.

The May events of last year – the mass protests throughout occupied Palestine and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza – highlighted the role of Palestine’s youth who, through elaborate coordination, incessant campaigning and utilizing of social media platforms, managed to present the Palestinian struggle in a new light – bereft of the archaic language of the PA and its aging leaders. It also surpassed, in its collective thinking, the stifling and self-defeating emphasis on factions and self-serving ideologies.

And the world responded in kind. Despite a powerful Israeli propaganda machine, expensive hasbara campaigns and near-total support for Israel by the western government and mainstream media alike, sympathy for Palestinians has reached an all-time high. For example, a major public opinion poll published by Gallup on May 28, 2021, revealed that “… the percentages of Americans viewing (Palestine) favorably and saying they sympathize more with the Palestinians than the Israelis in the conflict inched up to all-time highs this year.”

Moreover, major international human rights organizations, including Israelis, began to finally recognize what their Palestinian colleagues have argued for decades:

“The Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians,” said B’tselem in January 2021.

“Laws, policies and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power and land has long guided government policy,” said Human Rights Watch in April 2021.

“This system of apartheid has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all territories they have controlled, regardless of the political party in power at the time,” said Amnesty International on February 1, 2022.

Now that the human rights and legal foundation of recognizing Israeli apartheid is finally falling into place, it is a matter of time before a critical mass of popular support for Palestine’s own anti-apartheid movement follows, pushing politicians everywhere, but especially in the West, to pressure Israel into ending its system of racial discrimination.

However, this is where the South Africa and Palestine models begin to differ. Though western colonialism has plagued South Africa as early as the 17th century, apartheid in that country only became official in 1948, the very year that Israel was established on the ruins of historic Palestine.

While South African resistance to colonialism and apartheid has gone through numerous and overwhelming challenges, there was an element of unity that made it nearly impossible for the apartheid regime to conquer all political forces in that country, even after the banning, in 1960, of the African National Congress (ANC) and the subsequent mprisonment of Mandela in 1962. While South Africans continued to rally behind the ANC, another front of popular resistance, the United Democratic Front, emerged, in the early 1980s to fulfill several important roles, amongst them the building of international solidarity around the country’s anti-apartheid struggle.

The blood of 176 protesters at the Soweto township and thousands more was the fuel that made freedom, the dismantling of apartheid and the freedom of Mandela and his comrades possible.

For Palestinians, however, the reality is quite different. While Palestinians are embarking on a new stage of their anti-apartheid struggle, it must be said that the PA, which has openly collaborated with Israel, cannot possibly be a vehicle for liberation. Palestinians, especially the youth, who have not been corrupted by the decades-long system of nepotism and favoritism enshrined by the PA, must know this well.

Rationally, Palestinians cannot stage a sustained anti-apartheid campaign when the PA is allowed to serve the role of being Palestine’s representative, while still benefiting from the perks and financial rewards associated with the Israeli occupation.

Meanwhile, it is also not possible for Palestinians to mount a popular movement in complete independence from the PA, Palestine’s largest employer, whose US-trained security forces keep watch on every street corner that falls within the PA-administered areas in the West Bank.

As they move forward, Palestinians must truly study the South African experience, not merely in terms of historical parallels and symbolism, but to deeply probe its successes, shortcomings and fault lines. Most importantly, Palestinians must also reflect on the unavoidable truth – that those who have normalized and profited from the Israeli occupation and apartheid cannot possibly be the ones who will bring freedom and justice to Palestine.

The post The Next Step in Palestine’s Anti-Apartheid Struggle is the Most Difficult first appeared on Dissident Voice.

To the Victor Go the Spoils

As you know, I have other gigs, other ways to express ideas, and construct my own analysis in my own life. Experiences turned into philosophy. Or, anti-philosophy to invent self.

This piece is in the local rag, again, Newport, Lincoln County, Oregon. On the coast. (see story/Op-ed below — Newport News Times.)

Yes, the world is a microcosm in places wherever you find yourself, if you are willing to explore how universality is a common thread for most people, excluding the elites and rich and super-rich and sociopaths in those classes as well as down and dirty people born from a bad seed or with the evil encased in DNA. If you are willing to believe that not all humanity and all cultures frame their needs and wants and goals the same, but that we mostly want peace, prosperity, justice and a safe, clean, working world.

You can look at, say, Israel, and see that that apartheid state, that colony, well, the roots are there to apply the same sort of overall logic of oppression and land theft and human subjugation we see in the White United States of America. Imagine, ripping land away from people — Original Peoples — and then creating a policy of civilian (white) patrols and military patrols as part of an eradication policy to rid people of their ancestral land, but to rid the people altogether. Call it Indian Removal, Pacification or Assimulation, but like modern day “Israel,” the policy then was to remove people from being. From a future. From their right to travel freely. The system then got legalized, full of the lies of governments breaking treaties (all of them) to facilitate Manifest Destiny and Expansion for the rich. Those sociopaths I allude to above!

Now, again, more patronizing “month” number 12 to give lip service to Black people of this land. Black History Month now, in a time of right-wing hate of alternative (real) history and overall white disgust for the lives of Blacks now and Blacks then. This month of Netflix Black specials and other lip service fandangos seem like another blip on the screen of this out and out systemic and over hatred of people questioning their place here.

Black Lives Matter — the movement — was better than, well, nothing, and, sure, capitalism and egoism did take it down the ugly road of cooption and Hollywoodization. But. Yes, police are murderers, and so is the military, and then, defacto, we as taxpayers and citizens are part of that murder inc. See-speak-hear-rebuff no evil? Amerikkkaaah.

Then, this concept of wanting a campus with some semblance of “pacification” makes sense in this time of outright bigotry. Cancel Culture is an outgrowth of the fear porn Media have served up. Ivory Tower pencil necks, many of them in the Chosen Few class, they have messed up college, for sure. Bowing to elites, to the professional managerial class, and then fawning the super-stars of Capitalism, well, that’s the new normal for millions.

But throwing out the babies with the bathwater, that is the new normal with blogs, podcasts, YouTube shows, and infinite blathering on Instagram and TikTok lambasting everything tied to liberalism, to socialism, to a new way forward.

If you were to come back from the dead, say, dead in 1957, there would be an amazing schizophrenia buzzing in your head with all of the noise, the digital dimwit traffic, all of it, bombarding you dead sucker each second of the resurrection. To believe universities would not be subject to virtue signaling and cancel culturing, and to believe that snowflake making would not be the outgrowth of this dastardly warring, mean, racist society, that is, if you don’t get cause and effect, the why and how, then you have had to have lived in a toxic bubble of echo after echo of your own malfeasance.

What is good about Black Empowerment and Black History is certainly demonstrated by folks over at Hood Communist and Black Agenda Report, to name just a few. Black Alliance for Peace is another group. But most people do not tie into those sites, those thinkers on those sites.

The problem is that in USA, everything is turned into celebrity fawning or celebrity denigrating. Of course, Whoopi Goldberg is too rich and too stupid to understand what she was attempting to say on that stupid show about the Holocaust not being about race. She gets suspended for two weeks. Bizarre. All of it. The fact I am writing about it!

Of course, we have endless prattling and war mongering from African Americans, who should know what their place has been in the eyes of all administrations, even the one with the mixed race Obama. Blacks do not live in a democracy, and Biden is a racist, and, the systems in this country are against Black empowerment. And, yes, against worker empowerment. Against all people of color and those whites, too.

The U.S. Black Political Class and War

What passes for leadership is always a joke played upon Black people. The high water mark of the CBC being the “conscience of the congress” is long gone. No one can look to them on the issue of Ukraine or anything else. The people must restore the historical Black radical consensus as a matter of survival.  —

“It all makes sense” that in 2022, with the fear porn of billionaires and millionaires holding a thousand axes above our heads, those of us in the 80 Percent Class, with the Holly-Dirt engine of triple lies, with the Media in bed with the Deep-Shallow-Military State, with lab coat-wearing billionaires getting platforms to yammer on and on about universal yearly vaccinations for everything on planet earth; with the world going digital before our very eyes, with privatization on steroids; with a world so confused and dazed it collapses every minute;  and with the gear work of the slick and $2000 an hour racists working their magic to get the masses, the working class, the middle class, all lathered up and hateful against youth, the old, the homeless, BIPOC, educated, uneducated, sick, worn down, poor, all of this and more, as I say, it all makes sense that we are on a collision course of lack of solidarity. Big Time.

Try talking sense to anyone, and the conversation ends up spiraling into a cesspool of, well, Americana Amnesia. Americans the Children. Americans the Red-White-Blue Consumers. Americans the Nanny-Held Citizens. All those Americans Making a Buck Anyway Possible. A Little Bit of Poison in Air-Water-Soil-Food? The price to pay for capitalism. Capitalism with a big C for CANCER.

Remember, mostly, though, this America was created by religious zealots, by profiteers, mercenaries, Christian extremists, racists, superstition peddlers, peddling PR and smear and lies with a sucker is born every minute snake oil and poison gruel for children ethos.

Capitalism is the outgrowth of that theft of land and deployment of slaves to till the land, plant the crops, harvest the cotton, etc., etc.

Black History Month My Ass! We need daily rolling strikes. Shut them down, these planned pandemic psychopaths. Shut down these hoarders, these Bezos Yacht Boys. Shut the Musk Military Magic down. All of them need to be, well, you know, Exterminate All THOSE Brutes!

Black History Month Through the Eye of the Needle 

It’s an adage by P.T. Barnum:  “A sucker is born every minute.” In the USA, there are so many suckers now who don’t know their country’s history. It takes people from other countries to give them our history lessons.

When it comes to the struggles of Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and African-Americans, the racist systems in place – even in 2022 – work to continue making Americans more ignorant.

I’ve been teaching for going on 50 years. I’ve mentored many in community colleges, universities, K12, special programs for gifted and talented, gang intervention projects, refugee centers, military compounds, prisons, and homeless programs.

In a public arena where debate should take place by deploying critical thinking and rhetorical skills, most people who espouse banning books, who have no idea what the history of the USA is through the eyes of minorities or women, and who have no clue about other countries, I find can’t hold onto their prejudices and biases when up against smart, schooled and experienced debaters.

I’ve had many a run-in and debate with racists, sexists, and bigots. One thing they have in common is fear permeated with an undeserved sense of entitlement.

We’ve reached a point in the USA where dumb-downing vis-à-vis superficiality, lack of reading, a disregard for community engagement, and all that poisonous influence of “entertainment” consumed have created a large section of Americans who have zero concept of the power to change.

There is no doubt this country is based on exploitation, land theft, breaking every treaty signed with the First Nations tribes. This is a country that rose to success through slave labor – black slave labor. This is a country determined to expand by hook or by crook through Manifest Destiny and Imperial overreach.

It’s not to say other countries do not have these damning elements to their pasts. The point is, though, Americans are in a paradigm shift of consciousness. Black History Month is just one of many “months” or weeks to rethink bad history, lies and propaganda perpetrated by the dominant race.  Native American Heritage Month and banned book week are two topics I have explored here.

The issue at hand is, of course, February’s Black History Month. The work of researchers, internationally-traveled writers, educators, philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists is solid around this emerging history.

There is no Critical Race Theory conspiracy to denigrate the “white race.”

Paul Robeson — singer, athlete, actor, and, socialist Black man — stated:  “My father was a slave and my people died to build this country and I am going to stay here and have a part of it just like you….  The answer to injustice is not to silence the critic but to end the injustice.”

I consider Black intellectual, Cornel West, a friend, and I’ve marched with him in Seattle during Occupy Seattle. At Green River College, where I taught, we filled an auditorium with people wanting to hear him. I’ve written a story on him.

He’s smart, Christian, ministerial, deep into music, a writer and a public thinker. He is not a fan of Obama, Bush, Biden, Trump or Clinton. I know no person who is an avowed racist, white supremacist, or on a spectrum of angry history-denying white person I have taught and counseled who really could argue themselves out of a paper bag when faced with anti-racists. Think of anti-racists like Angela Davis (writer, Black Panther, educator) or Raoul Peck (filmmaker of HBO’s “Exterminate All the Brutes”) or Gary Howard (“We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools”).

I’ve been in Gary’s diversity workshops in Tacoma, and I have been in trainings with others, like Brown Eagle with Spokane’s Medicine Wheel Academy. I’ve worked with Winona LaDuke and have been a counselor for African-American ex-New Orleans Saints Toussaint Tyler.

Everywhere I have lived, worked and taught at I’ve found myself in a milieu of learning about other people: people that historians have lied about, that is, those whose ability to be humans and citizens in this country has been systematically thwarted through vicious systems of oppression. List some of them as sundown laws, red lining and overt racism and lynching.

When I taught mostly white students at Gonzaga University, many had never known the story of Emmett Till, the boy who was murdered by racists, and whose body was dumped in a river with a cotton gin fan wrapped around his neck.

His mother had an open casket funeral attended by thousands in Chicago. He was kidnapped, shot and disfigured by white guys because of a “wolf whistle” directed at one of the cracker’s wives. They got off free. However, with so much entitlement, they were paid for a magazine article and admitted to torturing and killing the 14-year-old Emmett August 28, 1955.

The entire world heard about Emmett’s case. His disfigured face was photographed by dozens of journalists. His murder by racist whites in Mississippi kick-started the civil rights movement, even before Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus.

I was 19 years old when President Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. Plain old white guy Gerald Ford stated he wanted all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

This was a no-brainer for me. My old man, in the Army for 32 years, recounted how three of his servicemen were refused food in Kentucky. That eatery then became off-limits for soldiers. There was a big movement to list all other places that refused service to Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans.

That was before I was born. It’s great to have these celebrations for Blacks’ accomplishments, but really, overlooked and denied now is the price African Americans have paid to reach their aims. Sometimes these struggles to live, work, vote, and excel were set into stone by racist courts, racist businesses, and racist communities.

Change is always in the wind. Let’s hope more Americans get smart sooner than later. People live their histories. Listen to them.

The post To the Victor Go the Spoils first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Amnesty Apartheid Report: The Walls Protecting Israel are Finally Crumbling

The walls protecting Israel are quickly crumbling. A year ago, it was Israel’s most celebrated human rights group, B’Tselem. Months later, it was the New York-based Human Rights Watch, whose senior staff have often enjoyed a revolving door with the US State Department.

Now, the one speaking up is Amnesty International – an organisation widely viewed as the most authoritative arbiter of what constitutes human rights violations. Over the past year, all have reached the same conclusion: Israel is an apartheid state. According to Amnesty’s new report published on Tuesday: “Israel’s system of institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid.”

This is not just a criticism of Israel’s occupation. All three groups have been pointing out for decades Israel’s flagrant disregard of international law, and its likely commission of war crimes, in the occupied territories.

But Israel was little concerned, so long as public debate was confined to the occupation. Its advocates quickly learned that they could always deflect to matters of Israel’s security, by presenting any Palestinian resistance as terrorism.

Now, the consensus is shifting to entirely new terrain – a discursive battlefield where Israel has less effective weapons with which to defend itself. The biggest human rights watchdogs are agreed that everything about Israel’s rule over Palestinians is connected, from its military oppression of those under occupation, to the civil legal system inside Israel that systematically confers inferior rights on the country’s large minority of nominal Palestinian “citizens”.

In other words, Israel’s apartheid structures cannot be disentangled, separating out the occupied territories from “Israel proper”. It is all part of the same, single system of rule by one ethnic-national group, Jews, designed to oppress and marginalise another ethnic-national group, Palestinians.

Late in the day, the champions of human rights have fully understood that the divisions between Israel and the occupied territories are simply cosmetic. They have served a public relations purpose, hiding Israel’s true intent: to dispossess Palestinians wherever they find themselves under Israeli rule.

‘Not perfect’

Crucially, all the major human rights groups have now jettisoned the key artificial distinction insisted upon by Israel. Israel’s premise was that its 1.8 million Palestinian “citizens” – a fifth of the population inside Israel – faced informal and unconscious discrimination, similar to that suffered by minorities in western democracies, such as the US and UK.

The message was intended to reassure: Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens was not perfect, but it was no worse than other liberal democratic states. That allowed it to rationalise its brutal, repressive treatment of Palestinians under occupation. The military occupation was supposedly an anomaly, forced on Israel by the need to protect its citizens and democratic structures from constant, unprovoked Palestinian violence and terrorism.

Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, rehearsed exactly that line in a pre-emptive strike against Amnesty. Shortly before the report was published, he said: “Israel isn’t perfect, but we are a democracy committed to international law, open to criticism, with a free press and a strong and independent judicial system.” For good measure, he accused Amnesty of echoing “the same lies shared by terrorist organisations”.

In Britain, the Board of Deputies of British Jews took a similar approach: “Israel is a vibrant democracy and a state for all its citizens, as exemplified by its diverse government and robust civil society.”

Except every mainstream Israeli politician vehemently rejects the idea that Israel could ever be a “state of all its citizens”. That was the expressed view of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And four years ago, a council of legislators even took the rare step of banning a bill from being debated in the Israeli parliament because it promoted Israel as a “state of all its citizens”.

In fact, the phrase itself is the slogan of Palestinian leaders inside Israel who have been mobilising their supporters in a campaign for sweeping change to end Israel’s current status as a racist Jewish state. Well-worn deflection campaigns by Israel and its defenders are looking ever more threadbare.

Amnesty has now joined B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch in repudiating this narrative as a smokescreen. All have accepted that Israel’s Palestinian minority faces systematic, structural and malign discrimination – and equated that discrimination to the oppression of Black and “coloured” populations in apartheid South Africa.

In short, Israel’s racism is not an add-on or temporary. It is hard-baked into the very idea of a Jewish state.

Collision course

The implication of all these apartheid reports is that Israel, as it is currently constituted, cannot be reformed. As with apartheid South Africa, there has to be a fundamental realignment of power within the region. Change has to be deep and all-encompassing. And as was the case with South Africa, it will not happen without strong international pressure.

That’s why Amnesty has called on the UN Security Council to “impose targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid, and a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel”.

Potentially waiting in the wings is the International Criminal Court, which is examining Israel’s violations of international law. Amnesty has called on the war crimes court to extend its deliberations to consider whether Israel is guilty of apartheid too.

This is likely to prove a decisive moment for Israel. Its narrative, and that of the human rights community, are on a collision course.

Once Israel’s security rationale for oppressing Palestinians is dismissed, as it has been by Amnesty and others by classifying Israel as an apartheid state even inside its recognised borders, then there is only one defensive position left: to call critics antisemitic.

This, of course, is exactly what Israel and its supporters have been doing. Lapid’s foreign ministry issued a press statement labelling the report “false, biased and antisemitic”. Pro-Israel lobby groups variously described Amnesty as “vilifying” and “demonising” Israel. The UK’s Board of Deputies accused Amnesty of “bad faith”.

Structural racism

B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty all knew they would face a concerted campaign of vilification themselves if they dared to present Israel in a more truthful light – which is arguably why they delayed so long.

After all, Israel did not become an apartheid state a year ago. It has been one since 1948, when it was explicitly founded as a Jewish state, premised on the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. It was just too radioactive for the human rights community to identify Israel’s apartheid character until recently.

For years, the legal group Adalah, which advocates for the Palestinian minority, has maintained an online database of Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate based on whether a citizen is Jewish or Palestinian. It has grown to more than 65 laws.

But the turning point came with the decision in 2018 of Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist government to do what its predecessors had carefully avoided: to write the systematic discrimination experienced by Israel’s Palestinian citizens into a single, constitutional-type piece of legislation – the so-called Jewish nation-state law.

That broke the dam. By declaring Israel the national homeland of Jews only, the flood of apartheid reports was inevitable. It was a largely self-inflicted wound.

Full implications

But Amnesty and the wider human rights community are still holding back from clarifying the full implications of Israel’s apartheid character, as the nation-state law underscores. It states that the right to exercise “national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people”.

That right is reserved not just for Jews living in Israel, but for all Jews around the world. All of them – whether they support Israel or not, whether they have ever lived in the region or not – have more rights to the historic lands of Palestinians than any Palestinian does, even a so-called Palestinian “citizen” of Israel.

Fervent pro-Israel Jewish organisations in the US and Britain that are currently defending Israel from the charge of apartheid know full well that the system they seek to protect is designed explicitly to privilege them over Palestinians whose families have lived in the region for generations.

These groups have actively colluded in Israel’s campaign of misdirection, one intended to shield from scrutiny an apartheid system. The next frontier in this battle – one the human rights community will need to take on urgently and bravely – is to expose this misdirection campaign for what it is, and to shame those who participate in it.

Zionist Jewish organisations inflict suffering on Palestinians by excusing and propping up Israel’s apartheid system – and wrongly, like Israel, they do so in the name of all Jews.

They see themselves at war with Israel’s critics, including groups such as Amnesty. The human rights community must confront this fight head-on, not shy away from it. The struggle isn’t only to end Israel’s catastrophic deceptions, but those of its apologists too.

First published at Middle East Eye

The post Amnesty Apartheid Report: The Walls Protecting Israel are Finally Crumbling first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Responses to Israeli and South African Apartheid

Paul Fletcher, Australian Federal Minister for the Arts, in an article entitled “Festival boycott the futile work of ‘useful idiots’” (The Australian, 21/1/2022) falsely stated: “When Australians look at Israel, what they see is the only multi-party democracy in the Middle East – not an “apartheid state””.

The facts:

(1). Notwithstanding a century-long Palestinian Genocide ( 0.1 million violent deaths, over 2 million avoidable deaths from deprivation, 0.8 million expelled in 1948, 0.4 million expelled in 1967, and 8 million Exiled Palestinians today), 7.1 million disempowered Indigenous Palestinians today represent 50% of the 14.2 million subjects of Israel, and the ruling Jewish Israelis represent 47%.

(2). The 5.2 million Occupied Palestinians represent 73% of the 7.1 million Indigenous Palestinian subjects of Israel but are excluded from voting for the government ruling them i.e. they are subject to Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and as perceived by Israeli B’Tselem, the US-based Human Rights Watch, non-Jewish and Jewish heroes in the fight against apartheid in South Africa (notably Nelson Mandela , Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils) and even by Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid in South Africa.

(3). The “lucky” 1.9 million Palestinian Israelis can vote for the government ruling them but are subject to 65 race-based discriminatory laws. The Israeli Knesset recently rejected a bill proposing equal rights for Palestinian Israelis. While Israel is a genocidally racist Apartheid state, non-racist democracies with parliamentary elections in the Middle East include Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

The Australian is obliged to correct false claims. Further, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu re responses to Israeli and South African Apartheid: “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Those who support Apartheid Israel and hence Apartheid are unfit for public life in one-person-one-vote democracies like Australia. Decent folk are obliged to apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) not just against Apartheid Israel but against all people, politicians, parties, collectives, corporations and countries supporting this racist rogue state.

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In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu

Long before intersectionality became a prevailing concept which helped delineate the relationship between various marginalized and oppressed groups, late South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it all in a few words and in a most inimitable style. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together,” he said.

Like other freedom and justice icons, Tutu did not merely coin the kind of language that helped many around the world rise in solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa, who fought a most inspiring and costly war against colonialism, racism and apartheid. He was a leader, a fighter and a true engaged intellectual.

It is quite convenient for many in corporate media to forget all of this about Tutu, the same way they deliberately rewrote the story of Nelson Mandela, as if the leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement was a pacifist, not a true warrior, in word and deed. Tutu is also depicted by some in the media as if he was merely a quotable man who helped in the ‘healing’ of the nation after the formal end of apartheid.

There is no use to preach to South Africans, and those who knew Tutu well, to understand the great man’s centrality in the anti-apartheid struggle and in the shaping of a powerful narrative, which exposed and, eventually, demolished apartheid.

As a Palestinian, however, I think it is very important to emphasize the crucial role played by Tutu in linking the apartheid experience in his country with Israeli apartheid and military occupation in Palestine, and in influencing a generation of Palestinian intellectuals who have sagaciously tapped into the collective South African anti-apartheid experience and applied many of its valuable lessons to the Palestinian experience as well.

“When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa,” Tutu told The Washington Post in an interview in 2013.

To be accepted into mainstream circles, activists of high caliber are often careful in the language they use and in the references they make. With weak and indecisive intellectual courage, they falter at the first challenge or in the face of abuse and attacks by their detractors. Not Tutu. When the man began making references to an Israeli apartheid in Palestine, Zionists and their friends were merciless in their accusations that the beloved spiritual leader, in the words of infamous American Zionist lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, was “evil”.

Dershowitz, hardly known for his moral fortitude and well known for his undying love for Israel, was one of those who used the opportunity to cowardly pounce on the great South African spiritual leader almost immediately after the news of his death.

“The world is mourning Bishop Tutu, who just died the other day,” Dershowitz said during an interview on Fox News on December 28, adding, “Can I remind the world that although he did some good things, a lot of good things on apartheid, the man was a rampant anti-Semite and bigot?”

Dershowitz also described Tutu as “evil”. Indeed, Tutu was also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racist apartheid government of South Africa, as he was ‘evil’ in the eyes of Israel. Mandela, Che Guevara, Yasser Arafat, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racists, the colonialists, the Zionists and the imperialists.

Expectedly, Tutu did not back down despite years of pressure and abuse. “I know, first-hand, that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark, indeed,” Tutu wrote in 2014, calling on US Presbyterians to impose sanctions on Israel.

In that same year, an interview with the South African news outlet News 24, Tutu said:

I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

It is such support by such great men and women like Tutu that gave the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement the needed impetus to build the foundation of its current success around the world.

Tutu went further. Instead of appealing to people’s consciousness, he also reminded them that making the wrong moral choice is a moral indictment of them as well. “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” he said.

In South Africa, in Palestine and all around the world, we mourn the death of Archbishop Tutu but we also celebrate his life. Particularly, we celebrate the legacy that this formidable intellectual and spiritual leader left behind.

Palestinians all over the world paid tribute to Tutu. Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna, himself a great warrior for justice, said that Tutu “will always be remembered for his rejection of racism and apartheid, including in Palestine.”

Because of Tutu and his comrades, we have a roadmap on how to fight against and end apartheid, how to confront the racists and how to defeat racism; how to embrace our moral responsibility and how to strive for a better, more equitable world. And, because of Tutu, we are constantly reminded that Israeli apartheid in Palestine must be fought with the same ferocity, will and moral fortitude as that of South Africa.

Tutu will never die, because his words continue to lead the way, in Palestine as in South Africa. Equally important, we must never allow the honorable legacy of Desmond Tutu to be exploited, demonized or rewritten by his detractors or by those whose sensibilities cannot accommodate the courage of this black fighter, who will continue to lead the way, long after his passing.

The post In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu first appeared on Dissident Voice.