Category Archives: Racism

In the name of humanitarianism, Covid is crushing local as well as global solidarity

There seems to be a glaring illogic to official arguments about the need to vaccinate British children against Covid that no one in the corporate media wishes to highlight.

Days ago the British government’s experts on vaccinations, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, withstood strong political pressure and decided not to recommend vaccinating children aged between 12 and 15. That was because the JCVI concluded that vaccination could not be justified in the case of children on health grounds.

The implication was that the known health risks associated with vaccination for children – primarily from heart inflammation – outweighed the health benefits. The JCVI also indicated that there might be unknown, longer-term health risks too, given the lack of follow-up among young people and children who have already been vaccinated.

But while the JCVI defied the government, they did not entirely ignore the political demands of them. They offered the government’s four chief medical officers a get-out clause that could be exploited to rationalise the approval of child vaccinations: they conceded that vaccinations might offer other, non-health benefits.

Utilitarian arguments

Predictably, this utilitarian justification for child vaccinations has been seized on by the British government. Here is the Guardian uncritically regurgitating the official position:

There have also been concerns about the indirect effects of the virus on children. The biggest has been the disruption to schools, which had a severe impact on their mental and physical health, as well as their education.

That, essentially, is why the four CMOs have said children aged between 12 and 15 should be eligible for the jab.

They believe that being vaccinated will reduce the risk of disruption to school and extracurricular activities and the effect of this on their mental health and wellbeing.

Let’s unpack that argument.

Covid poses no serious threat to the overwhelming majority of children, the JCVI and the chief medical officers are agreed. (Those few children who are at risk can be vaccinated under existing rules.)

But, according to the government, Covid has inflicted physical, mental and educational suffering on children because classrooms had to be shut for prolonged periods to protect vulnerable adults in the period before the adult population could be vaccinated.

Now most adults, and almost all vulnerable adults, are vaccinated against Covid, offering them a significant degree of protection.

But still children need to be injected with a vaccine that may, on balance, do more harm to their health than good.

If this is the official argument, we should all be asking: Why?

Two scenarios

There are two potential scenarios for assessing this argument.

The first:

The vaccine works against transmission and severe illness in adults. Schools therefore no longer need to be shut down to protect the adult population. Adults are now largely safe – unless they have decided not to get vaccinated. And that, in turn, means that “indirect” harm to children’s mental and physical wellbeing caused by school closures should no longer be a consideration.

If this is the case, then there are no grounds – either health ones or indirect, non-health ones – to justify vaccinating children.

The second:

The vaccine doesn’t stop transmission and severe illness, but it reduces some transmission and mitigates the worst effects of Covid. This is what the evidence increasingly suggests.

If this is the case, then vaccinating children will not only fail to stop a proportion of them catching and transmitting Covid but it will also fail in its stated purpose: preventing the future closure of schools and the associated, indirect harms to children.

Worse, at the same time vaccination may increase children’s risk of damage to their health from the vaccine itself, as the JCVI’s original conclusion implies.

Just to be clear, as the “follow the science” crowd prepare yet again to be outraged, these are not my arguments. They are implicit in the official reasoning of the experts assessing whether to vaccinate children. They have been ignored on political grounds, because the government would prefer to look like it is actively getting us “back to normal”, and because it has chosen to put all its eggs in the easy (and profitable) vaccine basket.

If vaccines are all that is needed to solve the pandemic, then there is no need to look at other things, such as the gradual dismantling of the National Health Service by successive governments, very much including the current one; our over-consumption economies; nutrient-poor diets promoted by the farming and food industries; and much else besides.

Unadulterated racism

There are, in fact, much more obvious, unequivocal reasons to oppose vaccinating children – aside from the matter that vaccination subordinates children’s health to the adult population’s wellbeing on the flimsiest of pretexts.

First, vaccination doses wasted on British children could be put to far better use vaccinating vulnerable populations in the Global South. There are good self-interested reasons for us to back this position, especially given the fact that the fight is against a global pandemic in a modern world that is highly interconnected.

But more altruistic – and ethical – concerns should also be at the forefront of discussions too. Our lives aren’t more important than those of Africans or Asians. To think otherwise – to imagine that we deserve a third or fourth booster shot or need to vaccinate children to reduce the risk of Covid deaths in the west to near-zero – is pure, unadulterated racism.

And second, a growing body of medical reseach indicates that natural immunity confers stronger, longer-lasting protection against Covid.

Given that the virus poses little medical threat to children, the evidence so far suggests they would be better off catching Covid, as apparently half of them already have.

That is both because it serves their own interests by developing in them better immunity against future, nastier variants; and because it serves the interests of the adults around them – assuming (and admittedly it’s a big assumption) that the goal here is not to have adults dependent on endless booster shots to prevent waning immunity and enrich Pfizer.

Worst of both worlds

By contrast, the approach the British government is pursuing – and most of the corporate media is cheerleading – is the worst of both worlds.

British officials want to treat Covid as a continuing menace to public health, one that apparently can never be eradicated. A state of permanent emergency means the government can accrue to itself ever increasing powers, including for surveillance, on the pretext that we are in an endless war against the virus.

But at the same time the government’s implicit “zero tolerance” approach to Covid – in this case, a futile ambition to prevent any hospitalisations or deaths from the virus in the UK – means that the interests of British children, and populations in foreign countries we helped to impoverish through our colonial history, can be sacrificed for the good of adults in rich western countries.

The combined effect of these two approaches is to foster a political climate in which western governments and the corporate media are better placed to replicate the colonial policy priorities they have traditionally pursued abroad but this time apply them to the home front.

The supposed war against the virus – a war that children apparently must be recruited to fight on our behalf – rather neatly echoes the earlier, now discredited and unravelling “war on terror”.

Both can be presented as threats to our civilisation. Both require the state to redirect vast resources to corporate elites (the “defence” industries and now Big Pharma). Both have led to widespread fear among the populace, making it more compliant. Both require a permanent state of emergency and the sacrifice of our liberties. Both have been promoted in terms of a bogus humanitarianism. And neither war can be won.

Dog eat dog

Recognising these parallels is not the same as denial, though the government and media have every interest to cultivate this as an assumption. There were and are terrorists, even if the term readily gets mangled to serve political agendas. And there is a dangerous virus that vulnerable populations need protection from.

But just as the “terror” threat arose in response to – and to mask – our arrogant, colonial control over, and plundering of, other people’s resources, so this pandemic threat appears to have arisen, in large part, from our arrogant invasion of every last habitat on the planet, and our ever less healthy, consumption-driven lifestyles.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote an article that went viral called “A lesson coronavirus is about to teach the world“. In it, I argued that our capitalist societies, with their dog-eat-dog ideologies, were the least suited to deal with a health crisis that required solidarity, both local and global.

I noted that Donald Tump, then the US president, was trying to secure an early, exclusive deal for a “silver bullet” – a vaccine – whose first doses he planned to reserve for Americans as a vote-winner at home and then use as leverage over other states to reward those who complied with his, or possibly US, interests. The planet could be divided into friends and foes – those who received the vaccine and those who were denied it.

It was a typically Trumpian vanity project that he did not realise. But in many ways, it has come to pass in a different fashion and in ways that have the potential to be more dangerous than I could foresee.

Divide and rule

The vaccine has indeed been sold as a silver bullet, a panacea that lifts from our shoulders not just the burden of lockdowns and masks but the need for any reflection on what “normal life” means and whether we should want to return to it.

And just as Trump wanted to use vaccine distribution as a tool of divide-and-rule, the vaccination process itself has come to serve a similar end. With the quick roll-out of vaccines, our societies have almost immediately divided between those who demand vaccine passports and mandates as the price for inclusion and those who demand the protection of basic liberties and cultivation of social solidarity without conditions.

In popular discourse, of course, this is being spun as a fight between responsible vaxxers and irresponsible anti-vaxxers. That is more divide-and-rule nonsense. Those in favour of vaccination, and those who have been vaccinated, can be just as concerned about the direction we are heading in as the “anti-vaxxers”.

Fear has driven our division: between those who primarily fear the virus and those who primarily fear western elites whose authoritarian instincts are coming to the fore as they confront imminent economic and environmental crises they have no answers for.

Increasingly, where we stand on issues surrounding the pandemic has little to do with “the science” and relates chiefly to where each of us stands on that spectrum of fear.

Hoarding impulse

The vaccination of children highlights this most especially, which is why I have chosen to focus on it. We want children vaccinated not,, because the research suggests they need it or society benefits from it, but because knowing they are vaccinated will still our fear of the virus a little more.

Similarly, we want foreigners denied the vaccine – and that is the choice we make when we prioritise our children being vaccinated and demand booster shots for ourselves – because that too will allay our fears.

We hoard the vaccinations, just as we once did toilet paper. We try to fortify our borders against the virus, just as we do against “immigrants”, even though the rational part of our brain knows that the virus will lap up on our shores, in new variants, unless poorer nations are in a position to vaccinate their populations too.

Our fears, the politicians’ power complexes and the corporations’ profit motives combine to fuel this madness. And in the process we intensify the dog-eat-dog ideology we call western civilisation.

We turn on each other, we prioritise ourselves over the foreigner, we set parent against child, we pit the vaccinated against the unvaccinated – all in the name of a bogus humanitarianism and solidarity.

The post In the name of humanitarianism, Covid is crushing local as well as global solidarity first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Poison of Nationalism

Once upon a time Nationalism was an ideology reserved for extremists, but in recent years it has moved from the irrelevant fractious fringes to become a central movement in western politics. Rooted in fear, it feeds on tribal instincts and has become mainstream by offering oversimplified explanations to complex problems, such as poverty and immigration.

The ideal of a post-cold war tolerant world where resources (including food and water), are shared equitably, governments cooperate and borders soften has been usurped by rabid intolerance and racism, wall building, flag waving, cruel unjust immigration policies and violent policing of migrants and migrant routes. Rather than addressing issues and tackling underlying causes the ardent nationalist blames some group or other, ethnic, religious or national.

Love, distorted but potent, and hate sustain the monster: love and corrupted pride of nation and ‘our way of life’, seen among the flag wavers as somehow superior; hatred of ‘strangers’, and hatred of change to that which is familiar. It is an insular reactionary movement of introspection and division based on false and petty notions of difference: skin color, religion, language, culture, even food.

Such prejudices lead to an agitation of suspicion and hatred of ‘foreigners’. National interests are favored over international responsibilities; minorities and refugees insulted, abused or worse. Covid has intensified such vile human tendencies, and highlighted what were already strained relations with ‘outsiders’ –  those that are differentwith ‘the other’.

People of Asian appearance have been victimized in various countries, most notably the US, Australia and Britain; trapped in refugee camps, asylum seekers/migrants have been forgotten, and vaccine nationalism, the “me first approach”, with wealthy western countries buying up vaccines, has been widespread. As a result of this injustice, while the rich will have their populations vaccinated by late 2021, developing countries (relying on the inadequate COVAX scheme) are looking at mass vaccination by the end of 2023, if ever. It is a moral outrage that flows from and strengthens ideas of global separation, inflames resentment and will prolong the virus.

Central to the fear-inducing nationalist program is reductive national identities and cultural images tightly packaged in ‘the flag’. Described as “primordial rag[s] dipped in the blood of a conquered enemy and lifted high on a stick” (in Flags Through the Ages and Across the World by Whitney Smith), national flags evolved from battle standards and means of group identification held aloft during the Middle Ages. They are loved by nationalists who always believe their country to be ‘the greatest on Earth’, their people the strongest and the ‘best’, their way of life superior.

Such ignorant, meaningless and completely false ideas have become common elements of political rhetoric. Politicians (of all colors) in many, if not all, western democracies believe they must reinforce such crass sentiments, or face losing populist support, being attacked as ‘enemies of the people’ – as High Court Judges were in Britain during the Brexit fiasco, or labelled ‘traitors’.

Torrents of abuse

There are various interconnected threads to, and expressions of, Nationalism, from the political realm to mainstream and social media, popular culture to education. This suffocating network strengthens discrimination and prejudice of all kinds, including racism. During the recent Euro ’21 tournament black England players who had missed penalties in the final were subject to a torrent of abuse online. The same England ‘fans’ booed opposition teams singing national anthems and their own team, when they ‘took the knee’ before matches; a universal non-political act of solidarity that UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel disparagingly described as “gesture politics”.

She was later (rightly) accused of “stoking the fires of racism”, by refusing to endorse the players’ actions. Her new widely condemned immigration policy, has also given license to nationalist bigots and racists. Some of them have recently been recorded hurling abuse from the beaches of southern England at refugees in boats crossing the English Channel.

Irresponsible nationalist politicians like Patel (and the world is full of them), thick with ideology and ambition, are dogmatic in their beliefs and concerned solely with getting and retaining power. To this narcissistic end they employ the inflammatory rhetoric of nationalism – ‘our country’, ‘this great nation of ours’, ‘controlling immigration’, and ‘the flag’. Predictable and crude methods used to cajole the slumbering masses and agitate their tribal tendencies.

In order to strengthen their nationalist credentials presidents, politicians and military men and women, adorn themselves with the national emblem: embossed badges, a trend led by the US, who are flag-waving world leaders, and at press briefings/interviews they are rarely seen without a flag at their side – two, where there was no pre-Covid, in the case of the totally inept UK Government, desperate one suspects to shift the focus away from their homicidal management of the pandemic, and the calamity that is Brexit Britain. The flag is not, in itself, the problem, but its growing use is a powerful sign of the unabated rise of nationalism, a trend that with the fall of Trump, many had hoped was in decline.

Unifying acts of kindness

Nationalism grows out of fear. It feeds hate, leads to violence, and creates a climate of ‘us’ and ‘them’.  Indeed it thrives and is dependent upon such divisions. The stranger, the foreigner, refugee, asylum seeker or migrant is targeted. Blamed for the country’s ills, slandered as criminals, rapists, murderers. Accused of stealing jobs, draining health care services, degrading housing, corrupting the pristine national culture with their vile, primitive habits and beliefs.

In this way the ‘stranger’ becomes dehumanized, making it possible to abuse and mistreat him or her in varying degrees: From verbal insults on the street, the workplace or in the classroom to violent assault; detained in offshore prisons (Australia), imprisoned for years without charge (Guantanamo e.g.), housed in inhumane conditions in refugee camps, detention centers and/or temporary housing, or allowed to drown in the Mediterranean, North Sea and elsewhere.

Such atrocities are all fine, because the men, women and children who are being mistreated constitute the ‘them’. ‘They’ are the enemy, the destroyer of civilisation and decency, less than human, even the children, and as such they deserve it. And the further away such ‘strangers’ are kept the easier it is to perpetuate the demonisation myth, maintain suspicion and strengthen hate. Conversely as Joe Keohane makes clear in The power of strangers: the benefits of connecting in a suspicious world, “connecting with strangers helps to dispel partisanship and categorical judgements, increase social solidarity and make us more hopeful about our lives.” Mistrust of ‘strangers’ is strengthened by division and dispelled by contact; by sharing a moment, by acts of kindness – given and received, in which our common humanity is acknowledged.

Nationalism poisons the mind and the society and must be rooted out. Despite the apparent signs to the contrary, it is completely at odds with the tone of the times, which is towards unity – greater cooperation, tolerance and understanding. It is in reaction to this unifying movement that the demon of nationalism has risen; it is  cruel, ugly and extremely dangerous and must be countered by unifying acts of kindness and compassion wherever it is seen.

If the unprecedented crises confronting humanity – environmental emergency, displacement of people, poverty and armed conflict – are to be faced, mitigated and overcome, individuals, communities, businesses and governments must increasingly come together, agree methods and global policies and build united integrated societies founded on compassion. Given the unprecedented scale and range of the issues, particularly climate change and the broader environmental calamity, there is no alternative.

The post The Poison of Nationalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

When Football Did Not Come Home

They were in with a shot.  The English team, deliriously floating on chants of Football’s Coming Home, had made it to their first major Ttournament final since 1966.  The UEFA European Football Championship would be decided at Wembley against an Italian side unblemished by defeat since September 2018.  But the English, coached by the much admired Gareth Southgate, succumbed in that most cruel of deciders: the penalty shootout.

In English footballing history, the penalty shootout has been responsible for a string of famous defeats.  In 1990, the national side lost to the West German juggernaut in the semi-final of the World Cup.  In the European Championship in 1996, the result was repeated, with the Germans again winning.  Southgate will have particularly vivid memories of that: he was one of the players who missed.  The shelf of defeat was beginning to sag.

Then came the European Championships of 2020, delayed by the global pandemic.  England were fortunate in their draw and, unlike many of their opponents, played most of their matches on home soil.  But their record proved impressive, with Southgate’s side keeping a clean sheet till the semi-final against Denmark.  It became clear that Southgate had created a team unit as opposed to a team of stars bristling with contesting egos.   Previous footballing practices extolled celebrity within the team, with predictable consequences.  “Beckhamisation”, named after the recognisable former England captain and Manchester United player David Beckham, did much to create estrangement within the ranks between the celebrities and the foot soldiers.

The success of Southgate’s team also did much to tease out discussions about English identity and a supposedly new form of progressive Englishness. “In England we have spent a bit of time being a bit lost as to what our modern identity is,” observed Southgate prior to the 2018 World Cup.  “I think as a team we represent that modern identity and hopefully people can connect with us.”  The UK Migration Museum even declared that, “Without players with at least one parent or grandparent born overseas, England would be down to just 3 players.”

The draining final played on July 11 finished with each side having scored a goal.  In the penalty shootout, the steely discipline of the Italians resolved the match in their favour.  Pundits spent hours debating England’s tactics against the Italian goalkeeper, as if it mattered.  Should the tender-aged Bukayo Saka have taken the fifth penalty kick as opposed to a more seasoned player?  Was Southgate being too bookish in sticking to the original line up of players?

But the defeat did more than produce the usual rivers of commentary on tactical slips and fortuitous blunders.  Darker demons were released from the froth of despair.  Vengefully, they focused on matters of race, scalding and unsparing about those who had failed to score.  A torrent of abuse was released upon Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka, a vicious, smouldering kind that has come to typify social media commentary.  Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, heaped scorn on Rushford in a private WhatsApp group.  “They lost – would it be ungenerous to suggest that Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics?”

A mural of Rashford in Withington, Manchester, was defaced with obscenities.  In appealing for information on the incident, Chief Superintendent Paul Savill warned that hate crime would not be tolerated and was “not welcome in this city.”  Notes of support were placed across the mural like plastering bands of reassurance across cuts and bruises.

Team captain Harry Kane took to Twitter to praise the three players who had the courage to take the penalty and should be celebrated for that fact. “They deserve support & backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night.  If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an @England fan and we don’t want you.”

On the issue of condemning racial abuse, certain players found the messages from the Johnson government jarringly insincere.  The pot of identity was again being stirred and the result was increasingly ugly.  Home secretary Priti Patel received a sharp barb from English footballer Tyrone Mings for having previously refused to condemn fans who had booed the England team in taking the knee in protesting against racism.  In his opinion, Patel had undercut her own case. “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

It was not just that the home secretary had voiced her view against such displays of “gesture politics”.  She also saw little problem in the conduct of the fans: “That’s the choice for them, quite frankly.”  The hordes were duly summoned.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been known to dabble with the race card, penning pieces of some notoriety and doing his bit of stoking from time to time.  London radio presenter James O’Brien noted one article in particular mocking Islamic dress.  “In the three weeks after the ‘letterboxes’ article was published in August 2018, 42 per cent of offline Islamophobic incidents reports ‘directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column.”

Labour’s opposition leader Keir Starmer was even more explicit in Parliament, accusing Johnson of giving racism “the green light” and engaging in his own culture war.  “And I’ll tell you the worst kind of gesture politics, putting an England shirt on over a shirt and tie whilst not condemning those booing”.

Johnson has promised to take “practical steps to ensure that the Football Banning order regime is changed so that if you were guilty … of racist abuse online of footballers then you will not be going to the match, no ifs, no buts, no exemptions and no excuses.”

The government was also seeking other handy alibis.  As usual, social media platforms were walked into those roles to provide ammunition.  Johnson claimed to have had a firm word with representatives from social media at his Downing Street residence on July 13, warning that he would “legislate to address this problem in the Online Harms Bill, and unless they get hate and racism off their platforms, they will face fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues.”  The more astute comment in this move was made by former Premier League player Anton Ferdinand: sort out your own house first.  And that house is in severe need of tidying.

The post When Football Did Not Come Home first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Family Separation Law: Israel’s Demographic War on Palestine Intensifies  

When the Israeli Knesset (parliament) failed to renew what is commonly referred to as the Family Reunification Law, news reports and analyses misrepresented the story altogether. The even split of 59 MKs voting in favor of the law and 59 against it gave the erroneous impression that Israeli lawmakers are equally divided over the right of Palestinians to obtain permanent residency status or citizenship in Israel through marriage. Nothing could be further away from the truth.

Originally passed in 2003, the Citizenship and Entry Law was effectively a ban on Palestinian marriage. Under the guise of ‘security’, the law prohibited Palestinians in the West Bank, who marry Israeli citizens, to permanently move to Israel, obtain work, permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship.

The law was never made permanent as it was subjected to an annual vote, which successfully renewed it 17 times, consecutively. The 18th vote, on July 6, however, ran into an obstacle. Contrary to the perception given by media coverage, those who voted against the renewal of the ban did so for purely political reasons and not out of concern for the tens of thousands of Palestinian families that have splintered and broken up since the law came into effect.

Since the ousting of former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the hands of his protégé, current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, Israel’s former leader has been determined to topple Bennett’s already fragile coalition. Bennett’s government allies cobble up extreme right-wing parties, including Yamina, the party of the prime minister himself, centrist and even leftist parties, the likes of Meretz. It even hosts an Arab party, United Arab List, or Ra’am, of Mansour Abbas. A coalition of this nature is unlikely to survive long, considering Israel’s tumultuous politics, and Netanyahu – eager for an early election – will do everything in his power to facilitate what he sees as an imminent collapse.

Netanyahu’s Likud party and its allies in the opposition voted against renewing the discriminatory law to score a political point. Their justification, however, was more appalling than the law itself. The Likud wants the temporary law to become a permanent fixture, a Basic Law, to be added to dozens of other similar racially-motivated laws that target the very fabric of Palestinian society.

Welcome to Israel’s demographic war on the Palestinian people. This one-sided war is situated in the belief among Israel’s Jewish majority, that Israel’s greatest challenge is sustaining its demographic advantage which, thanks to a decided campaign of ethnic cleansing that began over seven decades ago, has been held by Jews over Palestinian Arabs.

Israel’s main fear is not simply a decisive Palestinian majority between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel’s Jewish ruling classes are also rattled by the real possibility of the growing political influence of Israel’s Palestinian Arab constituency, and are doing everything in their power to ensure Palestinian holders of Israeli citizenship are kept at a minimum. The Citizenship and Entry Law was designed specifically to keep this population in check.

The general elections of March 2020, in particular, provided a taste of what a doomsday scenario would look like.  Arab Israeli parties unified under the single ticket of the Joint List and emerged with 15 seats, making it the third-largest political bloc in the Israeli Knesset, after Likud and Blue and White. If Palestinian Arabs mastered this much influence, though they represent only 20% of the overall Israeli population, imagine what they could do if the demographic tide continues to shift in their favor.

For Israel, the future of Jewish majority – read: supremacy – is dependent on keeping the population equation in favor of Israeli Jews at the expense of Palestinian Arabs. Most of the laws that discriminate against Palestinians, regardless of where they reside – in fact, anywhere in the world – is motivated by this maxim.

According to the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), Israel’s Palestinian Arab population is targeted with 65 different government laws and regulations, which ensure Palestinian Arabs do not prosper as a community, remaining politically disempowered, socio-economically disadvantaged and constantly threatened with the loss of their residency, and even citizenship.

Palestinians elsewhere suffer an even worse fate. For example, Palestinians living in Jerusalem, who supposedly hold permanent residency status, are subjected to different types of legal harassment, so that Jerusalem can maintain its current Jewish majority. When Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, the city was almost entirely Palestinian Arab. Through numerous tactics, the city’s Arab population is now an ever-shrinking minority. Worse still, in 2018 Israel passed a law that granted the Ministry of Interior the right to revoke the residency of Jerusalemites based on the murky accusation of ‘breach of loyalty’.

The occupied West Bank and Gaza are confined, as only Israel determines who remains and who is permanently exiled. The Israeli military occupation of these regions has taken population control to a whole new level; it is almost an exact science.

This is also precisely why Israelis abhor the very discussion of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, for they consider it an implicit call for the ‘destruction of Israel as a Jewish state’. According to this logic, if millions of Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homes and lands in historic Palestine, Israel will no longer exist in its current form, as a Jewish state, but will become a democratic state for all of its citizens, instead.

What is likely to happen next is that Israel’s Interior Ministry will continue to find caveats in Israel’s ever-flexible laws to block the reunification of Palestinian families, until the Knesset officially renews the Citizenship and Entry Law or, worse, make it permanent. Either way, Israel’s demographic war on Palestinians is likely to intensify in the future. Considering that it is a war that cannot rationally be won, Israel is likely to delve deeper into the abyss of apartheid.

As Israel continues to experiment with controlling the Palestinian population, it would be shameful if the international community continued to remain silent. This moral outrage must end.

The post Family Separation Law: Israel’s Demographic War on Palestine Intensifies   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ongoing Israeli Genocide of Palestinians

The Omar al-Mukhtar neighborhood of Gaza City after it was pounded by Israeli airstrikes, 12 May. Mohammed ZaanounActiveStills


The world needs to  know the horrendous dimensions of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide, and of the gross Apartheid Israeli maltreatment of 5.2 million Occupied Palestinians and in particular of the 2 million inmates of the blockaded and bombed Gaza Concentration Camp. A numbers-based summary of these ongoing  atrocities will strengthen global Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the intolerable obscenity of Apartheid Israel and its racist supporters.

(A). Background of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide.

Gaza per se dates back over 3,000 years and “Palestine” and related terms (e.g. “Falastina”) come from the Philistine inhabitants of circa 1,200 BCE.

In 1880 90% of the Palestinian population were Muslims and about 10% were Christians, and there were about 25,000 Jews (about 50% immigrants).

The ongoing Palestinian Genocide  has been associated with 2.2 million Palestinian deaths from violence, 0.1 million, and from imposed deprivation, 2.1 million, since the British invasion of the Middle East in 1914 for oil and imperial hegemony – in contrast, 4,000 Zionists killed by Palestinians since 1920. Christians are only 1% of the Palestine population today.

The 1916 Anglo-French Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the formerly Ottoman-ruled Middle East between the UK and France. WW1-related Palestinian Famine (0.1 million deaths).

The Australian Light Horse Charge at Beersheba (31 October 1917) was pivotal to the defeat of the Turks. The UK Balfour Declaration giving Semitic Palestine to the non-Semitic and genocidally racist Zionists was issued 2 days later (2 November 1917) in a quid pro quo connected with getting Zionist Jewish Communists to try to keep Russia in the war against Germany.

On 10 December 1918, the Surafend Massacre of about 100 Palestinian men and boys was carried out by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers.

Overt Jewish immigration was stopped by the British 1939 White Paper designed to pacify British Muslim subjects during WW2. Circa 1944 the British War Cabinet secretly decided to Partition both Palestine and India, supporting European Zionists and Indian Muslims, respectively. Racist mass murderer and pro-Zionist Winston Churchill hated  Indians (“They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”), hated Indigenous Palestinians, Indigenous people of North America, and Indigenous Australians  (“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia [i.e. Australian aborigines]. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” Source.), and hid the WW2 Bengali Holocaust for which he was responsible (6-7 million Indians deliberately starved to death for strategic reasons by the British with Australian complicity).

1948,  Deir Yassin Massacre (107 killed, village razed); the Nakba or Catastrophe (800,000 Palestinians expelled, 500 villages emptied); Zionists seized 78% of Palestine for their settler colonial state.

1966, Palestinians in  Israel given Israeli citizenship, albeit qualified  under race-based laws (presently over 60 such laws).

1967, a now nuclear-armed Apartheid Israel attacked all its neighbours and seized territory from all of them, including the Sinai (Egypt), Shebaa Farms (Lebanon), the Golan Heights (Syria) and 100% of Palestine; 400,000 Arabs expelled in the Naksa (Setback). US Alliance-backed Apartheid Israel presently has 90-400 nuclear weapons as well as biological weapons,  chemical weapons and delivery systems.

30 March 1976, First Land Day protesting Israeli land theft (6 Palestinians killed, 100 wounded and hundreds arrested).

1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre (3,500 Palestinians killed by Lebanese Phalangists in Israeli-occupied West Beirut.

2002, West Bank Massacres, notably in Jenin, with 497 Palestinians killed, 1,447 wounded, and 7,000 imprisoned (30 Israelis killed, 127 wounded).

2018 Apartheid Israeli nation state law passed  that officially makes Palestinian Israelis Third Class citizens (presently subject to over 60 race-based laws).

2020 Apartheid Israeli parliament rejects equality for all Israeli citizens.

2021, over 90% of Palestine ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians; Tom Pickering,  former US Ambassador to Israel and the UN, says Israel would concede only 4.4%   of Palestine for a Palestinians State in a “2-state solution”, and predicts future complete Palestinian removal from the West Bank and Gaza to elsewhere in the world (a “no state solution”).

Apartheid Israel rules all of a 90% ethnically cleansed Palestine (plus ethnically cleansed parts of Syria and Lebanon) and of its 14.4 million Subjects, 6.8 million (47.2%) are Jewish Israelis, 0.4 million (2.8%) are non-Jews and non-Arabs, 2.0 million (13.9%) are Palestinian Israelis, and 5.2 million (36.1%) are Occupied Palestinians with zero human rights. Despite a century of a Palestinian Genocide involving killing, deprivation and repeated mass expulsions, 7.2 million Indigenous Palestinians still represent 50% of the Subjects of Apartheid Israel in Palestine, but over 72% of the Indigenous Palestinian Subjects of Apartheid Israel are excluded from voting for the government ruling them i.e. are subject to egregious Apartheid.

(B). Geography and  Demographics of Gaza.

Area 360 square kilometres.

Population 2.0 million (5.2 million Occupied Palestinians in  Gaza plus the West Bank).

Population density 5,556 people per square kilometre.

Gaza is the 3rd most densely populated entity in the world.

0-14 years: 42.53% (male 418,751/female 397,013).

15-24 years: 21.67% (male 210,240/female 205,385).

25-54 years: 29.47% (male 275,976/female 289,277).

55-64 years: 3.66% (male 36,409/female 33,731).

65 years and over: 2.68% (male 27,248/female 24,191) (2020 estimates).

About 50% are children and about 75% women and children.

(C). Administration of Gaza.

In 2006 the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won a majority in the democratic Palestinian Legislative Council elections held under Israeli guns – Hamas won a plurality of 42.9% of the total vote and 74 out of 132 total seats (56%). The Hamas representatives were variously killed, imprisoned or exiled to the Gaza Concentration Camp or elsewhere by the genocidally racist, nuclear terrorist, state terrorist and  neo-Nazi Israelis who, together with their pro-Apartheid US Alliance backers, declared Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

Land borders are  hermetically sealed by Apartheid Israel and Israeli-beholden Egypt; air, sea and land are violently controlled by Israeli drones, warplanes, navy and army.

Maritime rights  are illegally appropriated by serial war criminal Apartheid Israel.

A wide range of decent people from scholars and human rights activists to religious and political leaders have referred to Gaza as ”an open air prison” ,“the Gaza Concentration Camp”, and indeed as the world’s biggest open air prison and concentration camp.

5.2 million Occupied Palestinians,  50% children and 75% women and children, are highly  abusively and indefinitely confined to the  Gaza Concentration Camp (2 million) or to West Bank ghettoes (3.2 million) without charge or trial but for the asserted “crime”  of being Indigenous Palestinians living on part of the land continuously inhabited by their forebears for thousands of years.

“Coronavirus closure” is applied by Apartheid Israel on top of other draconian restrictions on movement in and out of Gaza.

(D). Employment in Gaza.

Unemployment rate 43.1% .

Total employed people 280,000 (end 2019) , 222,000 (end 2020).

Average monthly wage $207 versus $323 (West Bank).

Public sector workers (39.2%) earn $29 per day.

Private sector workers (60.8%) earn  $11 per day.

Women unemployment rate 65% (3rd quarter 2020), 60.4% (4th quarter 2020).

Women workforce  participation rate 18.7% (beginning 2020), 12.4% (end 2020).

Youth (under 30) unemployment rate 65.5% (end 2020).

(E). War criminal Israeli collective punishment of Gaza by mass murder.

2006 Gaza Massacre – 400 Palestinians killed, 1,000 wounded (11 Israelis killed, 82 wounded).

2008-2009 Gaza Massacre – 1,400 Palestinians killed, 5,300 wounded, 51,000 homeless, huge infrastructure damage (13 Israelis killed, 518 wounded).

2014 Gaza Massacre – 2,300  Palestinians killed, 11,000 wounded, 7,000 homes destroyed (73 Israelis killed and 556 wounded).

2018-2019 Great March of Return Gaza Massacre – 223 killed, 9,200 wounded (0 Israelis killed, 11 wounded).

2021 Gaza Massacre – 256 Palestinians killed, 2,000 wounded (13 Israelis killed, 217 wounded).

In the last 2 decades Gaza rockets have killed about 40 Israelis but Israeli reprisals have killed over 4,600 Gazans, an over 100-fold disproportionality.

In the last 2 decades Israelis have murdered about 2,600 Israelis but Apartheid Israel has not  killed 100 x 2,600 = 260,000 Israelis in response.

On average in the last 20 years, Apartheid Israel has violently killed about  500 Occupied Palestinians each year (10,000 in total) and killed a further 4,000 Occupied Palestinians annually  through imposed deprivation (80,000 in total)

“Coronavirus closure” is  presently applied to Gaza by Apartheid Israel on top of other draconian restrictions by way of collective punishment.

(F). Fourth Geneva Convention, GDP, infant mortality, avoidable mortality, health, trauma, food, water, electricity, and homelessness in Gaza.

Apartheid Israel grossly violates Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) that unequivocally demand that  an Occupier must supply life-sustaining food and medical services to its Conquered Subjects “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”.

Apartheid Israel violates 15 International Law Conventions, most notably the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Genocide Convention.

GDP per capita $1,500 for Gaza ($3,240 for Occupied Palestine and $46,400 for Apartheid Israel).

Poverty kills: annual under-5 infant deaths 1,100 in Gaza (2,800 for Occupied Palestinians, 500 for Apartheid Israel).

Poverty  kills: annual avoidable deaths from deprivation 1,500 in Gaza (3,900 for Occupied Palestinians and essentially zero for Apartheid Israel).

Apartheid Israel deliberately restricts Gaza imports to carefully estimated bare survivability needs.

Apartheid Israel stops many asserted “dual function” goods including critical  medical supplies from getting into Gaza.

Economic growth has declined and gone negative in the last 25 years and unemployment has increased.

Occupied Palestinians in Gaza live in dire poverty.

Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): “At least 90 percent of Gaza residents are in need of mental health support and treatment because of the repeated military attacks and devastating humanitarian conditions in the Strip”.

Tens of thousands with life-changing permanent disabilities from Israel violence.

Hospitals, schools, power and water infrastructure bombed and barely functioning.

Electricity supplies intermittent and Gaza’s electricity is normally supplied by its sole diesel power plant (nominal rating 60-140 MW) plus 125 MW (from Israel) and 27 MW (from Egypt) for about 300 MW total (Apartheid Israel has 16,250 MW power capacity or 54 times more than Gaza).

Apartheid Israel controls water supply, notably that from the largely West Bank-based Mountain Aquifer with 9.1 million Israelis getting 87% of Mountain Aquifer water whereas 5.2 million Occupied Palestinians get a mere 13%. WHO minimum daily per capita water allocation is 100 litres, Israelis get 240-300 litres and West Bank Palestinians get 73 litres; Israelis have deliberately demolished 50 water extraction facilities in the West Bank. Israeli bombing has destroyed water and sewerage infrastructure in the Gaza Concentration Camp to the point that it is approaching unliveable conditions.

Homelessness – Israeli bombing in 1 week alone in 2021 made 58,000 Gazans homeless.

(G). Covid-19, Occupied Palestinians and Gaza.

Apartheid Israel leads the world in Covid-19 vaccination for its Israeli Subjects but  refuses to vaccinate its 5.2 million Occupied Palestinian Subjects except for 5,000 front-line medical workers and 120,000 Occupied Palestinians who work in Israel or in illegal West Bank settlement as cheap “captive labour”.

Ventilators per million (/M) people are 504/M (Occupier US), 173/M (Occupier Australia) and 407/M (Occupier Apartheid Israel) versus 8/M (Occupied Afghanistan), 38/M (Occupied Palestine) and 13/M (Gaza Concentration Camp).

Gaza’s sole Covid-19 testing laboratory was damaged by Israeli bombing; Apartheid Israel blocked Russian Sputnik V vaccine entry to Gaza but 20,000 doses entered via Egypt; fewer than 2% of Gazans have been fully vaccinated; with an Apartheid Israeli-crippled hospital system, densely populated Gaza faces an Apartheid Israeli-imposed Covid-19 catastrophe.

As of  early July 2021 many Occupied Palestinians had died (686 Covid-19 deaths per million of population; 3,565 deaths or about 1% of 314,000 cases) but notional extrapolation to a maximum of 5.2 million cases would indicate that Apartheid Israel has deliberate intent to kill about 50,000 Occupied Palestinians.

(H). Apartheid Israeli  “intent  to destroy” and ongoing Palestinian Genocide.

Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention defines “genocide “ as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Genocide experts describe an ongoing Palestinian Genocide. Thus Professor Francis Boyle (University of Illinois) re the Palestinian Genocide (2013): “The Palestinians have been the victims of genocide as defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, under which a government can be guilty of genocide even if it intends to destroy a mere “part” of the group”.

90% of Palestine has been ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians with Zionists adumbrating 95% and even ultimately 100% ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Gaza.

Zionist leaders from Theodor Herzl to Benjamin Netanyahu have explicitly advocated removal of the Palestinians from Palestine.

Of 15 million Palestinians today, 8 million are forcibly Exiled from their homeland and 7 million Indigenous Palestinian Subjects of Apartheid Israel live under threat of killing and expulsion.

Deaths in the ongoing Palestinian  Genocide (2.2 million Palestinians killed by violence or imposed deprivation) are similar to deaths in the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million deaths from  violence or imposed deprivation) or the “forgotten”, British-imposed and Australia-complicit  WW2 Bengali Holocaust (6-7 million deaths from  violence or imposed deprivation) (see “Palestinian Genocide”).

Conclusions.

I have a large, 2-sided and big- black-capital-letters-on-white placard that I take to public rallies in support of Palestinian Humans Rights. One side says WORLD: STOP PALESTINIAN GENOCIDE and the other says BOYCOTT APARTHEID ISRAEL. The Gaza Concentration Camp and the  ongoing Palestinian Genocide shame Humanity and the pro-Apartheid US Alliance in particular. Decent Humanity must (a) inform everyone they can, and (b) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel and all its supporters.

The post Ongoing Israeli Genocide of Palestinians first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Why Human Rights in China and Tigray but Not in Haiti, Palestine, or Colombia?

U.S. President Joe Biden and the Democrats have been playing the “Black Lives Matter” tune on their fiddle. Biden even raised the issue of Black Lives Matter during his presidential campaign. But, just days after Biden was sworn into office, his administration lent support for the Haitian dictator, Jovenel Moïse, who stayed in office past his term to the dismay of the Haitian people, who flooded the streets in protest.

Now, Moïse is dead and the United Nations has decided who will be the new president of Haiti. We see the racist irony. The people of Haiti have not been allowed to weigh in. The white rulers have made their decision, as the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) stated in its July 9 press release.

And while the director of Colombia’s National Intelligence Agency and the director of its national police’s Intelligence Division are in Haiti to investigate the role of Colombia in the assassination, those agencies have not launched investigations into police forces and paramilitary elements involved in the recent killings of peaceful protesters in Colombia, a client state of the United States.

Accepting the recommendation from the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti that contested Prime Minister Claude Joseph would be the new president is the ultimate in Western arrogance. The white West is continuing its white-supremacist narrative that the predominately African/Black population of Haiti cannot govern itself. What is really going on is the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination is working through the “Core Group” to ensure Haiti remains subordinate to its interests. The United States remains in the lead of that axis.

That is why we say Biden and Democrats could care less about Black lives.

In fact, Biden was quoted in 1994 as saying, “If Haiti just quietly sunk into the Caribbean or rose up 300 feet, it wouldn’t matter a whole lot in terms of our interest.”

Is this the man and are Democrats the people Africans and other colonized people around the world are supposed to trust with our lives?

No, they are committed to one thing: The perpetuation of the pan-European colonial-capitalist project that has been underway for more than 500 years. That ideological foundation explains why they do not believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings. Hence, the double standard in place: The pretense of democracy and the rule of law for them and colonial fascism for the nations and peoples of the global South.

This is why the white West’s deployment of “humanitarian intervention” because of the “Responsibility to Protect” is so cynical. The West is responsible for the barbaric treatment and conditions colonized peoples have faced for centuries. The U.S. ruling class has shown nothing but contempt for the lives of workers inside its borders and for the millions worldwide who live in abject poverty as a result of the global U.S.-dominated capitalist-imperialist system.

Why the concern about Muslims in China while Biden and Democrats greenlight Israel’s war crimes against predominately Muslim Palestinians?

Whenever the United States raises humanitarian issues—be it in the Horn of Africa or in China—we know it can only mean one thing: The United States has strategic interests that have nothing to do with the humanity of the people they pretend to care about.

That is why BAP will continue to tell the truth, no matter the consequences.

The post Why Human Rights in China and Tigray but Not in Haiti, Palestine, or Colombia? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kneeling against Racism: Solidarity in EURO 2020 Should Not be “Controversial”   

Another football ‘controversy’ has started when football players participating in the ongoing ‘UEFA Euro 2020’, kneeled down during national anthems to protest racism, a serious problem that has plagued football stadiums for many years.

Yet, while some players chose to kneel down, others opted not to, offering flimsy excuses as “players weren’t ready”, and “politics should stay out of football”. Racism in sports is real, though it cannot be separated from racism within society. In fact, the reactions to the moral stances taken by some players were reflections of how rightwing, populist and chauvinistic movements wield such massive influence over various European societies, to the extent that these movements often define mainstream political sensibilities.

For example, the French national team, comprising largely black and Muslim French players, came under attack led by right wing politicians and media outlets to the point that, on June 15, the entire team decided not to take a knee at the start of their matches, likely fearing racist repercussions.

In the French example, racism in sports prevailed over the anti-racism sentiments. Worse, the country’s highest football association, the French Football Federation (FFF) does not even acknowledge the necessity to discuss the issue. FFF president, Noel Le Graet, was quoted as saying that racism “does not exist”, following an incident last September during the Marseille-Paris Saint Germain game, when the Brazilian Neymar was called a  ‘monkey motherf—er’ during a scuffle.

Not only are racist incidents in football games on the rise and well-documented in France and elsewhere, the ‘monkey’ slur is particularly popular among European football fans who, sometimes in groups, carry out what is known as ‘monkey chanting’, which specifically target black and other dark skin players. When the despicable practice in Italy finally received national attention, an Italian court dismissed the case as ‘unfounded’, and fans who were caught ‘monkey chanting’ on camera were ‘unconditionally acquitted.’

This in mind, it was unfortunate that only half of the Italian team took a knee during their game against Wales on June 20, and eventually, they decided not to kneel down at all in a later game. It is telling that, while racism in sports continues to prevail, anti-racist gestures are considered unnecessary and divisive.

The truth is that football, like any other sport, is a reflection of our societies, our unities and divisions, our economic privileges and socio-economic inequalities, our strong communal bonds and, yes, our racism. Instead of attempting to fully understand and, when necessary, alter these relationships, some conveniently opt to ignore them altogether.

Assertions such as ‘sports and politics must not mix’ are not only wishful thinking – as they ignore the fundamental premise that sports are a direct expression of reality – they are also underhanded as they are meant to divert attention from core issues that should concern everyone.

This misleading logic falls within the same category of the phrase “all lives matter” in response to the legitimate outcry for racial justice under the banner, “black lives matter”. The latter is meant to illustrate – in fact, challenge – racism and violence, which disproportionately target black people in the United States specifically because of their skin color; while the former, although technically accurate, is meant to delude and undermine the urgency of confronting systemic racism.

When American football player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled down in 2016 to protest racial injustice, he did mean to be disruptive, not to ‘disgrace’ American ‘values’ and ‘symbols’, but to force millions of people out of their comfort zone to contend with far more consequential questions than winning or losing a football match. His statement was an act of protest against the mistreatment of black communities across the US. As a black man with access to media platforms, it was his moral duty to speak out. He did. But that wholly symbolic, non-violent act was perceived by many in government, media and society as a treasonous one, which ultimately cost the athlete his career.

The entire episode, which reverberated across the world and the violent, often racist, responses to it were all political, unwittingly proving, once more, that the relationship between politics and human rights, on the one hand, and sports, on the other, are impossible to separate. Interestingly, those who insisted that Kaepernick has violated the sanctity of sports have no qualms with other, essentially political acts throughout football: the national anthem, the endless display of flags, the nationalist chants, of soldiers being honored for their services in various wars and, at times, of air force fighting jets flying overhead, intoxicating the crowds with the might and power of the US military. Why are nationalistic politics acceptable while a single black man kneeling down to shed light on the plight of the innocent victims of police brutality is perceived to be an act of treason?

Whether it is convenient or not, sports is rife with political symbols and is a reflection of existing realities: inequalities, racism and more. It can also be a source of harmony and unity. In fact, sometimes it is, as was the heartwarming exchange between Portuguese international player, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Iranian footballer, Ali Daei, when, on June 24, Ronaldo  equalized the international goal record of Daei. It can also be a reflection of rooted socio-political ailments, such as racism.

Racism is a political disease, like cancerous cells spreading across the body, or body politic of society. It has to be stopped, on and off the field. While taking the knee will not end racism, it is meant to serve as a conversation starter, a moral stance by players and a meaningful gesture of camaraderie and humanity.

The post Kneeling against Racism: Solidarity in EURO 2020 Should Not be “Controversial”    first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Critical Race History in Texas

Image credit: Texas Observer

In late December 2015, Constance Hollie-Jawaid and I were still working on the final plans for the dedication ceremony for a Texas state historical marker commemorating the Slocum Massacre. The fight to get the marker approved had been grueling, and, on that particular day, we had traveled to Palestine, Texas, to meet with the marker effort’s chief antagonist, Anderson County Historical Chairman Jimmy Ray Odom.

Jimmy’s beliefs about the Slocum Massacre were almost completely contradictory to ours, but—in conversation, anyway—he was a straight shooter. Our historical and cultural disagreements notwithstanding, I respected him for that.

Jimmy had taken some heat in the press for his straight-shooting, and he was upset with me. And when we met that day in late December, he let me know this in no uncertain terms. At that point, however, the marker was secured. Constance—a descendant of victims of the atrocity—and I had won the argument, so we could be magnanimous. I let Jimmy air his grievances without response or complaint. In fact, even though the Anderson County Historical Commission had fought the Slocum Massacre historical marker application tooth and nail, I even agreed to write a short piece for the Palestine Daily Herald thanking Jimmy and the commission for cooperation that had been virtually nonexistent.

After the discussion regarding the marker ceremony concluded and the air was a hair more convivial, I asked Jimmy why there was no historical marker for a Black activist named Frank J. Robinson—and his response was as straightforward as it was shocking.

“Oh, they killed him,” Jimmy said.

Constance’s and my jaws smacked the hardwood floor simultaneously.

I had stumbled across Frank J. Robinson when I was writing The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (2014). He had known Abe Wilson, one of Constance’s forebears on her father’s side, and the man whose appointment to round up Black and white citizens for county road repairs in the area at the time had infuriated a half-renter named James Spurger. Spurger would become the chief instigator of the Slocum Massacre.

Frank J. Robinson was a daunting force for good in Anderson County in the 1960s and early-to-mid 1970s, mentoring Boy Scouts, volunteering for church youth groups, and constantly advocating for equal civil and voting rights for minorities all over East Texas. To these ends, he eventually organized the Anderson County Civic League, which encouraged Blacks in the Palestine area to run for public office.

No African American had ever held public office in Anderson County, so the all-white commissioners court gerrymandered the county’s voting precincts, diluting the Black vote by dividing it into three separate parts. Robinson subsequently created the 16-county East Texas Leadership Forum so African Americans could combine their collective resources to challenge and procure judicial redress. Then, with the support of the ACLU, the AFL-CIO, and other progressive organizations and individuals, Robinson and two other plaintiffs sued the Anderson County Commissioners Court.

On March 15, 1974, a district court sided with Robinson et al., stating that the Anderson County precincts were racially apportioned and ordered the county to redraw the lines. Anderson County appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the ruling was upheld in December 1974. The changes Anderson County was required to institute led to the election of the first Black public official in East Texas history, and African Americans in several other East Texas communities followed Robinson’s lead.

But Robinson didn’t stop there. In short order, he organized the East Texas Project and initiated litigation aimed at making the City of Palestine address the ways in which its election system disenfranchised minorities, but the work didn’t get very far. On October 13, 1976, Robinson was killed by a shotgun blast that the Palestine authorities ruled was self-inflicted. Expert witnesses, including a Texas Ranger who testified that no gunpowder residue was found on Robinson’s shirt, challenged the official determination, but the ruling of suicide still stood.

And then I, matter of factly, asked Jimmy Ray Odom about Robinson 40 years later, and his response was unequivocal.

Oh, they killed him.

Throughout my research and work on the Slocum Massacre and the Slocum Massacre historical marker, I was repeatedly asked why it was important to bring attention to something that happened over 100 years ago. Why were Constance and I stirring up trouble? Why did what happened then matter now?

Well, Frank J. Robinson—a civil rights champion who basically delivered democracy to East Texas for African Americans—was probably assassinated for his efforts in many of our lifetimes and most of us have never heard of him.

Isn’t this type of history critical?

The post Critical Race History in Texas first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The G7 and the Orwellian Twin Tropes Propagandising US Global Domination

During the recent G7 summit the corporate media went into pro-US propaganda overdrive.  The BBC’s Global News channel – or UK global propaganda outlet – has spent the years since the Iraq War spinning the US Military’s assault on the Black and Brown homelands of the world as ‘America spreading democracy’.  Media Lens has responded to the brutal consequences, condemning BBC Paul Wood’s misrepresentation “The coalition came to Iraq in the first place to bring democracy and human rights” (22 December 2005).  Previously, BBC defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus also historically spun American Military aggression as “the promotion of democracy throughout the Muslim world” (5 December 2002).   In the near two decades since Iraq, consecutive BBC Political Editors Andrew Marr and Nick Robinson have also regularly spouted this propaganda position.  And this ongoing orthodoxy was parroted ad-infinitum during the summit by the rest of the corporate media.  The other trope repeatedly invoked was that of a supposed transatlantic ‘special relationship’.

Even leaving aside the death toll and victims of torture resulting from historically recent US militarism, for America to actually spread democracy it would have to be one itself.  Reflecting the genealogical critique of Philosopher-Historian Michel Foucault – that the mechanisms of power rarely disappear but instead evolve – the US reality is that much of its slavery-era anti-democratic oppressions are still intact, albeit in mutated form.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, African-Americans were driven out of the public sphere by a violent campaign of lynching, torture and intimidation known as ‘disenfranchisement’.  This deliberate political exclusion persisted into the 1960s in the practice of murdering voter registration activists, some of which was fictionalised in the pro-federal establishment film Mississippi Burning (1988).  Currently, this agenda manifests itself in ‘Voter Suppression’ tactics.   Poll Stations are closed down in Black and Latino areas, resulting in reports of 6+ hour waits, to cast a ballot – as exampled in the infamous experience of 102 years-old Desline Victor.  Impediments to voting are also created by new regulations which refuse to recognise forms of ID common among Black and Latino groups, therefore blocking their attempts at voting.

In the academic publication The New Jim Crow (2010), Michele Alexander documents a similar oppressive continuity, recording that there are more Black Americans in the US penal apparatus than were held in slavery in the 1850s.  Given the privatisation of US Prisons, much of this captivity is for profit, and can also similarly involve prisoners being used as cheap labour.  In most US states prisoners lose the right to vote, so once again they can’t take democratic action, even against their own caged exploitation.

There is also the issue of taking Black lives with impunity of which the Black Lives Matter movement rightly complains.  Much of this begins with the historic lynching tradition.  Given often the complicity of authority figures – sheriffs, police officers, local judges, handing victims over to lynch mobs – this practice has historically been relabelled as supposedly respectable ‘extra-judicial killing’.  Building on this, in recent years many states have passed Stand Your Ground, Shoot First Laws’.  There have been attempts to excuse current killings of many Black youths such as, Trayvon Martin and Jordon Davis on just this legal provision.

Those wondering about the relevance of these practices for foreign policy need only reflect on why examples of the US historic lynching postcard resemble so closely the human trophy photography to come out of Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay.  One of Guantanamo’s interrogators was “Lieutenant Richard Zuley, a Chicago police detective in the Navy Reserve… During his career with the Chicago Police Department, Zuley conducted police interrogations primarily on Black Chicagoans. These interrogations involved the use of torture techniques similar to those he would later use at Guantánamo Bay.”  Again echoing the issue of institutional continuity, the  American Military’s practice of assassinating those globally, whose arguments of US racist-imperialism it finds too inconvenient to put on trial, is similarly once again spun as merely ‘extra judicial killing’.

Neither claims of ‘America spreading democracy’ or the ‘special relationship’ stand much scrutiny, given that for generations Britain has been welcoming those seeking refuge from US racial and political oppression.   Therefore the real predominant special relationship that the British general public actually embraced has been with Americans, who were the US establishment’s victims.

The singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson enjoyed his time in the UK in the early 20th C, whereas in his own country he was subjected to racial and political persecution, predominantly by Federal authorities.

Post-war footage of African-American Rhythm-&-Blues performers freely plying their trade in Britain, shows the artists in occasional off-stage anxiety as this was the first time they’d been in un-segregated spaces, sharing train carriages and the like with white citizens.  Some of this footage can be found in the first episode of a previous BBC arts documentary Blues Britannia (2011), which demonstrates the ongoing self-conscious lengths the BBC’s Global News channel attempts in re-branding American establishment traditions as ‘democratic’.

Also, many American artists objecting to working-class exploitation and oppression came to Britain fleeing the political persecution of US McCarthyism.  The composer and harmonica player Larry Adler was one of these.  While here he produced the score for the popular UK film Genevieve (1953).  Two decades later he told the New York Times how even his foreign work was treated under McCarthyism.

Remember the film ‘Genevieve?’ I composed and played the music for that. Six weeks before it opened at the Sutton in New York a print was requested without my name. My music was nominated for an Oscar. As no composer’s name was on the credits they nominated Muir Mathieson, who conducted the orchestra. I made the fact known to the Academy but no correction was made and my name never restored.

The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of UK television’s most successful exports of the late 50’s and early 60’s.  However, its producer Hannah Weinstein and previously successful Hollywood writing team including Ring Lardner Jr. (a joint Oscar recipient), Ian Hunter, Robert Lees, Waldo Salt, Adrian Scott and Editor Howard Koch (another joint Oscar recipient), were fleeing the McCarthyite Black List.  In 1990 a fiction film – Fellow Traveller (1990) director Philip Saville, starring Ron Silver, Daniel J Travanti – was made largely inspired by their situation.  The production company back then was ‘Screen Two’ a division of the BBC.

While largely hated by large parts of America, in the 1960s and 70’s Muhammad Ali, similar to Robeson, enjoyed respite in the UK.  Part of Ali’s fondness for Britain was that when stripped of his World title by US authorities, a little known Oxfordshire based Irish former bareknuckle fighter Paddy Monaghan, put together a petition demanding his reinstatement.  Even though only publicised by a working-class, unknown, un-resourced figure, this petition got 22,224 signatures in the UK.  You’d hope given Ali’s relationship to Britain, and that images of the resulting friendship that occurred between the two men can be found in the BBC’s photo-archive, that this alongside the history of McCarthyism, would inform BBC News/Current-Affairs spin on US democracy.  Sadly not!

Significantly the UK has now gone from the country that used to welcome those seeking refuge and relief from American oppression, to one that on US government insistence imprisons and – according the UN’s Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer and medical journal The Lancet – tortures Julian Assange (Assange is now an absented non-person in corporate media coverage).  This turnaround has occurred due to the elitist subversion of Party democracy in the UK, and because the corporate news media – as demonstrated by BBC News output – is willing in the Orwellian manner of Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth, to absent and rewrite, its own Arts, Historical, and Archive material.

The origins of the constructed ‘special relationship’ narrative, owes much to the correspondence and occasional friendship between a retired Winston Churchill and President Kennedy.  And also to the fact, that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher launched their attacks on the post-war consensus in their countries, from largely shared agendas and at around the same time.  Actually UK Labour was historically to the Left of even US Democrats.   Labour’s 1960s Prime Minister Harold Wilson could not expect his Party to accept following America into Vietnam – so there was no all across the political spectrum ‘special relationship,’ and very few instances where Britain has ever been able to say to the US ‘don’t do x…”

The notion of a ‘special relationship’ was infamously remanufactured when Neoliberal New Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tried to market the war on the Iraqi people on the basis of the heady days of world war alliances.  This was quite a reboot.   America aided Britain’s fight against the eugenicist Nazis by providing racially segregated regiments.  Historian Graham Smith (When Jim Crow met John Bull – 1987), notes than when American forces arrived in Britain they attempted – thankfully unsuccessfully in some cases – to impose segregation on the UK social spaces that GIs might visit.  Owners/landlords of pubs, dance halls and cafes were often appalled both by the racism and the threat of being posted off-limits to service personnel, at a time of great economic hardship, if they refused.  This was not new.  Smith cites similar diktats in WWI given to French Authorities about not ‘Spoiling the negroes” (Ibid., page 10).

Race issues also threatened the judicial independence of British sovereignty.  During the Second World War, 11 African-American GIs were executed for rape on UK soil. And rape was not a death penalty crime under British law.  It’s questionable how many – if any – of these soldiers committed this crime because American authorities of the time viewed relations between black men and white women as a sex crime in itself.  The case of Leroy Henry particularly incensed the British public. He’d been having a relationship with a local white woman before being arrested for rape and having a confession beaten out of him, resulting in a death sentence. Indicative of the British low opinion of American justice and the solidarity later to be shown Muhammad Ali decades later, the people of the city of Bath put together a 30,000-strong petition, which got his sentence commuted.

White Americans also brought racial violence and lynching practices to UK shores.  The wartime memory of many British Tommies is fighting in UK dance halls and elsewhere alongside Black GIs against White American racists.  Victims of violence also included British Colonial Servicemen and volunteer Colonial Technicians (recognition of this in some BBC archives does not impact on its ‘US spreading democracy’ news narrative).  West Indies cricketing legend Learie Constantine was in charge of the Caribbean technical volunteers, and was subsequently given a peerage for his war service and sporting achievements.  He wrote the following letter of complaint to the British government.

I cannot lay sufficient emphasis on the bitterness being created amongst the technicians by these attacks on coloured British subjects by white Americans … I am … loth to believe that coloured subjects of the Empire who are here on vital work could be attacked at random and at will and pleasure of these white American soldiers without the means of redress … I have lived in this country for a long time and claim many friends among the white population and I shiver to think that I am liable to attack by these men if I am seen in the company of my friends. I suggest something be done urgently, as I can foresee a crisis.

Corporate media apologists might question how much this experience was part of public consciousness.  However, the middle section of the film Yanks (1979, director John Schlesinger) features an attempted dance hall lynching of a Black GI who’d been seen dancing with a white woman.  And this film is primarily a wartime set romantic vehicle for Richard Gere, not a piece of political agit-prop.  There were also similar phenomena internationality, including the Battle of Manners Street, in New Zealand where white American servicemen attempted to violently segregate a Services Club to the exclusion of local Maoris.  Race and the US wartime presence were also believed to be contributing factors to the two days of rioting in Australia known as the Battle of Brisbane.

Post-war even in America it was impossible to sell in the cultural market place, the US establishment as a credible site of authority.  The Black figure offered as an idealised son-in-law of a middle-class white family in the film, Guess who’s coming to dinner (1967) is not a member of the US establishment but a doctor working for a UN based organisation.  Marvel Comics when starting the title Nick Fury, Agent of Shield, originally made Shield a UN based organisation, rather than US.  The central protagonist of The President’s Analyst (1967) is on the run from the world’s intelligence agencies, the worst of which are the CIA and FBI.  Indicative of the fear of oppression of US authorities the producers did not even feel safe in using the actual acronyms of US intelligence agencies.

When Tony Blair threw his weight behind America’s foreign wars, he did so flying in the face of this history and the cultural sensibilities it generated.  He also threw into reverse Britain’s position as a post-war decolonising power.  He subverted the Labour Party’s historical identity as a pro-workers organisation with a socialist agenda by aligning it with the right wing US Republican Party. He also subverted Labours’ historic anti-imperialist sensibility, which kept Britain under Harold Wilson’s Labour out of Vietnam.  Perhaps most shocking for older Labour traditionalists and Black Britons, he took the UK’s intelligence and military sectors and forced them into relations with the US security services, that had historically tried to break the Civil Rights Movement, drive Martin Luther King to suicide, fed details of his sex life to the right wing press, and which had an assassination programme of American Black Liberationists entitled COINTELPRO.

Blair chose to support America’s Iraq War 5 years after arguably the worst lynching in US history –  in 1998, James Byrd, “a Black man in Jasper, Texas was ‘lynched by dragging‘,” behind a pick-up truck until his body disintegrated.  Three years after the start of the Iraq War, in Jenna, Louisiana “whites responded to black students sitting under the ‘white tree’ at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree.”  And America’s post-war civil war Black Lives Matter crisis has still continued to manifest itself.  As for Presidential and federal authority, this was also 5 years since Bill Clinton bombed a medical manufacturer in Sudan.  9/11 resulted in 3000 American deaths and many more injured.  Clinton’s bombing is credited with “several tens of thousands of deaths” of Sudanese civilians caused by a medicine shortage” by German Ambassador Werner Daum and others.

Just as no one in the corporate media questions the death toll and torture of current US-led imperialism, no one also scrutinises the nature of just what has been unleashed on the world, or the massive ideological reboot needed to sustain it.  Instead, we get ‘America spreading democracy’ and the ‘special relationship.

The post The G7 and the Orwellian Twin Tropes Propagandising US Global Domination first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New Israeli Government, Same Israeli Apartheid

After 12 years, Israel finally inaugurated a new prime minister. While being hailed by many as the opportunity for a fresh start, Naftali Bennett is at best a continuer of Netanyahu’s policies and at worst an ideologue whose positions are to the right of Netanyahu’s.

In 2013, as Middle East peace talks were set to resume after a five-year freeze, Bennett reportedly proclaimed to Israeli National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there’s no problem with that.”

In 2014, Bennett, who had previously been the director of the Yesha Settlements Council, contradicted Netanyahu by asserting that all Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, even those living in outposts that violate Israeli law, should remain under Israeli sovereignty, and called for more settlement construction. “This is the time to act,” he said. “We must continue building in all corners of the Land of Israel, with determination and without being confused. We are building and we will not stop.”

In 2016, as Israel’s Minister of Education, Bennett called on Israeli Jews to “give our lives” to annex the West Bank. While this might seem relatively innocuous, it was not. Bennett’s remarks invoked Kahanism, a Jewish supremacist ideology, based on the views of Rabbi Meir Kahane, that calls for violence and terrorism to be used to secure Israel as an ethno-nationalist state. In 1994, Israeli settler and Kahane follower Baruch Goldstein massacred Palestinians in the West Bank Ibrahimi mosque. In 1988, the Kach party was banned from running for the Israeli Knesset. In 2004, the US State Department labeled Kach a terrorist organization.

Sunday, June 13, 2021, right before he was inaugurated to replace Netanyahu as the prime minister of Israel, Bennett doubled down on his anti-Palestinian views proclaiming  that his government would “strengthen settlements across the whole of the Land of Israel.”

It’s not only on the Palestinian issue that Bennett is a far-right ideologue. Bennett uses his adherence to orthodox Judaism as cover for his opposition to gay marriage. “Judaism doesn’t recognize gay marriage, just as we don’t recognize milk and meat together as kosher, and nothing will change it,” he declared.  Netanyahu, by contrast, touts himself as being pro-LGBTQ+ rights. As recently as 2018 he wrote: “I am proud to be the prime minister of one of the world’s most open and free democracies… Israel consistently upholds civil equality and civil rights of all its citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

So why then are progressive politicians and organizations responding so positively to the change in Israel? Bernie Sanders, known for his progressive stances and for being a congressional champion of Palestinian rights, said in a video that he was “hopeful” that the new government would be one “we will be better able to work with.” Americans for Peace Now, the sister organization of Shalom Achshav, Israel’s preeminent anti-settlement/pro-peace organization, released a statement that it “welcomes the swearing-in of Israel’s new government.” On Sunday night after the new government was sworn in, thousands of Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv — considered Israel’s bastion of secular liberalism — and celebrated into the night.

One answer lies in how fed up people inside and outside of Israel had become with Netanyahu’s rule. His tenure was marred by corruption charges and shrewd maneuvers to remain in power, and what had become an endless cycle of Israeli elections, during which the government was paralyzed and unable to pass a budget for the past three years.

The other answer, however, is that this was the best change that could be obtained from a government that prevents about five million people living under its rule from being able to vote. Here’s the situation:

About 20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinian. They can vote in all Israeli elections and have representation in Knesset. This election saw the first Palestinian party join an Israeli majority government coalition. However, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship represent only about one-third of the Palestinians living under Israeli rule and military occupation.

Though the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are the official governments of the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, Israel is the absolute power in charge. Israel controls the borders, the currency, and the central bank. It collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), maintains the right to carry out military operations on Palestinian land, and controls the amount of freedom, or lack thereof, that Palestinians are granted.

Israel approves only about half of the permits that residents of Gaza apply for to travel outside of Gaza for vital medical treatment. In 2017, 54 people died while awaiting a permit to travel for medical treatment, leading to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, to release a joint statement calling for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

Reasons for denying people in Gaza necessary medical treatment are often absurd, such as denying travel because a relative at one time moved from Gaza to the West Bank without Israeli permission. Even when not carrying out a massacre, such as the May 2021 one that killed 256 Palestinians, Israel regulates the fuel and building materials available to Gazans. At times, it has even controlled the number of food imports according to the number of calories Gazans should consume.

Israel controls not only the exterior borders of the West Bank but what goes on inside as well. While the Palestinian Authority manages utilities and infrastructure for much of the West Bank, Israel is the ultimate authority.  Israeli settler regional councils control 40% of West Bank land. Even in areas like Ramallah, supposedly under complete Palestinian Authority control, Israel reserves the right to enter the city at any time, close streets and shops, burst into homes, and make warrantless arrests.

While the PA does maintain a judicial and penal system, one that itself is incredibly repressive, Palestinians are also subject to Israel’s military court system and laws such as Military Order 101, which bans peaceful protest. Though they are prosecuted in Israeli military courts and serve time in Israeli military prisons, Palestinians have no say over who is appointed to run the Israeli military, let alone the military courts.

Jerusalem was captured by Israel in 1967 and formally, and illegally, annexed in 1980. Common sense might follow that Israel would have then absorbed the East Jerusalem Palestinians, now numbering around 370,000, and made them Israeli citizens.

Rather than holding citizenship, however, Jerusalem Palestinians hold the status of permanent residents, allowing them to vote in municipal, but not national, elections. While this may at first seem a move in the right direction, a closer look reveals careful manipulation of demographics to ensure an at least a 70% Jewish majority at all times. Through such policies as exorbitant taxation, requiring constant proof of residency, and denial of family unification, since 1967 Israel has managed to revoke the residency of 14,595 Palestinian Jerusalemites.

Right now Israel’s courts are in the process of ethnically cleansing the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Before the Nakba, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and lands to establish the state of Israel, two Jewish trusts purchased a plot of land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. When Israel was established, the Jewish families living in Sheikh Jarrah left for West Jerusalem as that section of the city was now part of the new state of Israel while East Jerusalem came under Jordanian and UN control. In 1956, Jordan and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees resettled 28 Palestinian families who had been forced out of their homes inside the new state of Israel into Sheik Jarrah. In exchange for giving up their rightful refugee status, the 28 families were to receive ownership of the Sheikh Jarrah properties, but they never got the deeds to their properties. Israel is now trying to return the properties to the Jewish trusts who later sold them to Nahalat Shimon, a real-estate company registered in the US state of Delaware. The kicker is that while Israel regularly uses this tactic to remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Israeli law bars Palestinians from recovering property they lost in the Nakba, even if they still reside in areas controlled by Israel.

2021 marks 54 years of occupation, including 14 years of the siege of Gaza, and 28 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords that were supposed to create a Palestinian state. 600,000 Israeli citizens now live in the approximately 200 illegal Israeli settlements that cover the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

A breakdown of who is and isn’t allowed to vote between the Jordan river and the sea reveals Israel’s motivations:

  • Number of Jewish Israelis living in Israel proper, and East Jerusalem, and West Bank settlements: 6.589 million (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics)

  • Number of Palestinian citizens of Israel (Palestinians who can vote in national elections): 1.5 million (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and Jerusalem Municipality)

  • Number of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza who cannot vote in Israeli national elections: 4.88 million (Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics)

As we get to know Israel’s new prime minister and government, as we continue to watch Israel forcibly remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem, as we worry about a next massacre in Gaza, and as we continue to hear the absurd label of Israel as a democratic state, let’s not forget that the right to vote is only granted to 60% of the total population and only one-third of Palestinians who live under Israeli rule had any say Naftali Bennett becoming Israel’s thirteenth prime minister.

The post New Israeli Government, Same Israeli Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.