Eleven Examples of Resistance to Government Raids

Resistance to unjust government action is the duty of all people who care about human rights.

As Dr. King reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham jail, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

It is now clear that Latinos and Muslims are Trump’s first target for government actions.  The orders just released put ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and US Customs and Border Protection on steroids.  These new policies also will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ, as well as Black and Muslim communities.

Here are eleven recent examples of how people are directly resisting.

One.  Blocking vehicles of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A coalition of undocumented immigrants, faith leaders and other allies blocked a bus in San Francisco which was full of people scheduled for deportation. Other buses were blocked in Arizona and Texas. People blocked streets outside of ICE facilities in Los Angeles.

Two.  People have engaged in civil disobedience inside border highway checkpoints to deter immigration checks.  People have called neighbors to warn them that ICE is in the neighborhood and held up signs on  highways that ICE is checking cars ahead.

Three.  Cities refusing to cooperate with immigration enforcement and targeting. Hundreds of local governments have policies limiting cooperation with immigration enforcement.

Four.  Colleges and universities declining to cooperate with immigration authorities and declare themselves sanctuary campuses. Dozens of schools have declared themselves sanctuary campuses and over a hundred more are considering some form of resistance to immigration enforcement.

Five.  Churches sheltering and protecting immigrants scheduled for deportation in their sanctuary. Over a dozen churches are already doing this with hundreds more considering sanctuary.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles declared itself a Sanctuary Diocese in December 2016 and pledged to defend immigrants, and others targeted for their status.

Six.  Detained people demanding investigation into illegal actions. Over 400 detained immigrants in Broward County, Florida wrote and publicized a letter to government officials challenging the legality and conditions of their confinement.

Seven.   Divesting from stocks of private prisons. Private prison companies CCA and GEO have pushed for building more prisons for immigrants and have profited accordingly. Columbia University became the first university to divest from companies which operate private prisons.

Eight.  Lawyers have volunteered to defend people facing deportation. People with lawyers are much less likely to be deported yet only 37 percent of people facing deportation have an attorney and of those already in jail the percentage drops to 14 percent.  Los Angeles has created its own fund to provide legal aid to those facing deportations. Other groups like the American Bar Association recruit and train volunteer lawyers to help.  Know Your Rights sessions are also very helpful.  Here are CAIR Know Your Rights materials for Muslims.  Here are Know Your Rights materials for immigrants from the National Immigration Law Center.

Nine.  Restaurants declaring themselves safe space sanctuaries for undocumented and LGBTQ workers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 25 percent of workers in restaurants are Latino.

Ten.  Sit-ins at elected and appointed officials at government buildings. Bodegas have gone on strike.

Eleven.  Social self-defense.  Jeremy Brecher pointed out that decades ago communities in Poland organized themselves into loose voluntary networks called Committees for Social Self-Defense to resist unjust government targeting.  This opens resistance in many new forms in addition to the ones identified above including: setting up text networks for allies to come to the scene of ICE deportation raids, to document and hopefully stop the raids; identifying and picketing homes of particularly aggressive ICE leaders; providing medical, legal and financial assistance to help shelter people on the run from authorities; and boycotting businesses and politicians that cooperate with ICE.

Resist!  For more information on how, check out some of the many organizations already resisting targeting and deportations.  Mijente offers creative ideas and examples for action to expand the idea of sanctuary to protect all residents from criminalization and deportation.  National Day Laborer Network has many resources for communities seeking to stop deportations.  Central to the campus sanctuary movement is MovementCosecha.  The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild provides resources for lawyers.  Faith communities looking into this should connect with the Sanctuary Movement.  Puente Arizona is a great example of grassroots organizing in local communities.

America’s Cultural Autism

It appears that America has little awareness of the value of awareness since fake news and fake values arrived to take possession of the body politic. Solipsism appears to lurk behind a modus operandi of tough talking American empire-speak when it addresses its ire to other centres of power daring to challenge its hegemonic brand of self-centred conceits, now spreading across the globe.

President Trump visited the Boeing hangar in South Carolina 16 February, hours after it was reported he was considering using the National Guard to round up undocumented migrants and had this to say: “We are going to build up a military might so great that no one will dare to challenge it. None!”.  Needless to say, the media honed in on his words as if this was the very first occasion where imbecility du jour had raised its ugly head to defile an American presidential narrative.

Talking off-the-cuff, the President…as is his wont…expressed himself candidly in a manner that had the gall to rile an ‘intelligentsia’ essentially mute on the question of America’s inability to comprehend much beyond its own navel. The mess America made in the Middle East falls on the shoulders of the entire American community and the President allows no sensitivities to interfere with his passion for tweeting twaddle concerning the Foreign Policies follies of his predecessors.

Nobody can pretend to be unaware of the carnage America has engaged in abroad. It has gone on for decades, yet amazingly little was said about the subject in the recent presidential elections. The media along with academia may consider it expedient to adopt discretion as the better part of valour, but these instrumentalities at best, merely exist to hoodwink the masses into believing that there is just-cause behind the aggression its government and war profiteers engage in.

Think of it! Presidents and war criminals retire to ponder the nature of love, mathematics, the value of their assets…some even paint pictures… while consigning the history of their imbecility as commanders of one kind or another to their diaries…and the rest of us are expected to merely tag along.  It’s the power of the brand that keeps people unfree, coaxing them to get behind that most unholy patriotic narrative that fronts for the armament industry.

Have we come to accept permanent war as the norm? The images of cities destroyed and the ever mounting toll of human collateral damage hardly penetrates public consciousness anymore, because we are told that the ‘other’ had to be destroyed before they became the clients of an alien hegemonic force that could damage our free trade arrangements. Hegemonic masculinity works in mysterious ways; it is resilient and incorporates an autistic dimension so to avoid explaining itself to Main Street.

Awareness and language are flip sides of the same coin. There is no self-awareness without awareness of the ‘others’ existence; language is the medium which enables definition of the particular to circumscribe identity for the purpose of constructing social perspectives that may have the capacity to benefit one and all.

The young mother discovers the power of emergent language as the infant in her charge commences to demonstrate awareness of co-equal reality by observing responses in the ‘other’; every word and gesture conveying meaning of ‘otherness’ puts awareness in context. If all babies are born equal, then language itself must be a fulcrum capable of achieving comity in the theatre of social interaction.

But what corrupts American ‘boys’ after they leave the bosom of the nursery to become equals by serving in a military culture of command? Is it a desire to plough on, move forward, press on, push on, advance upwards, believing expediency to be the only indisputable means of achieving material success and a dominant role in society for themselves…or is it the naïve assumption that it is the only option available to them? Or does the uniformity of military culture endow the individual with a form of courage that only comes into being in the context of the group?

The American penchant for growing hegemony vis-a-vis expediency began with the covered wagon and quickly spread across that vast continent under the protection of canon, musket and the protection of the military. The genocidal slaughter used against the native peoples to achieve hegemony over their lands was of little concern to them. They were a people who spoke different languages, dressed strangely and had a skin colour that identified them as near subhuman in the eyes of the occupiers.

So, did the cult of the boys-in-uniform find fertile ground in the belief that slaughtering the indigenous population was necessary in order to supplant them with virile American stakeholders attuned to the wiles of colonial exploitation as it was a sure-fire means of thieving from the native people?  After all, awareness was something that only occurred in the minds of sissies.

From its inception, America managed to blindside interpretations of its actions by demonising the people it wanted to eradicate. It was through misinformation that it sought to portray its intentions as morally sound, while vilifying all resistance to its cause. In reality, American history has more to do with false-flag misinformation than truth.

The seeds of un-awareness were sown and cultivated in jargon that presented the case for colonial trading practices as being contingent upon civilised intercourse. The public had come to believe they were exceptional because the elites kept telling them it was so. Believing that they had finally reached nirvana, the public gave themselves over to the expediency of the capitalist juggernaut, not aware that the military-industrial-complex was parasitically burrowing its way into the heart of the American dream-enterprise.

The “Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline” shows how covered-wagons have transmuted into ‘aerial-wagons’ equipped with ballistic missiles over time.  According to this report, the U.S. has 662 overseas bases in 35 foreign countries. So when the President of America says “We are going to build up a military might so great that no one will dare to challenge it”, it appears that he is unaware of the fact that his ‘adversaries’ are also in possession of a vast number of weapons of mass destruction…the nuclear overkill sort come to mind and they are a far cry from the humble bow and arrow!

The challenge facing America now is its lack of any real self-awareness…or lack of awareness of values outside of its known sphere of limited knowledge, for that matter. The world has become suspicious of an American brand of capitalistic-democracy that continues to impose — by military means — its authority on the rest of the world, hence the blowback against the loud mouth devoid of diplomatic skills.

At home, the media and the intelligence agencies continue to expunge truth from the public narrative by virtue of their ability to distort reality. Technology is the tool that gives them this advantage. By virtue of this advantage, security apparatuses in the service of government manipulate public perceptions so as to inform the public whom they should regard as friend or foe.

The elites who control the system instill fake news and fake values in the media in order to control awareness. The interests of the establishment are served by expedients that come in the form of binary perspectives that feed off the fear of blowback. If the rule of the elites is threatened in any which way, the patriotic card is the one that is automatically extracted from the deck.

There is little concern for facts on the ground when corporate-minded capitalist expediency vaunts its interests in, and plans for, free trade agreements. The global business trade-cycle ‘in-question’ is nothing more than a scam to eliminate points of particularism that claim the right to retain multiple centres of activity as the healthier way of conducting trade. Neo-conservative capitalism adheres to the myth that one size fits all. American hegemonic enforcement as implemented by the military-industrial-complex will have to inevitably roll back as alternative means of negotiating trade come into existence.

The world is now alert to America’s fork-tongued affair with Anglo Zionism and awareness of the duplicity surrounding the fake peace talks is breaking out all over. Pulverising people and countries across the Middle East attest to America and Israel’s cupidity. That they have been relegated to the status of the most reviled countries on the planet comes as no surprise.

Security walls, plus extrajudicial killings, plus the genocide of the Palestinian people may have brought America and Israel together as bedfellows…but having cavorted together in ways most treacherous, the smell and sight of their dirty linen is now on show for the whole world to behold…and the so called ‘honest broker’ stands diminished and soiled as a consequence of the role he played in that unholy union.

If Americans continue to see themselves as units in an economy that seeks greatness and virility with the help of an overblown military, then doomsday may not be far off.  Without questioning the facts presented to them by the government (deep-state interests) and the media, the public at large will remain captive to a culture of fake news and fake values that trap them in a web of placebo realities. There is now an abundance of evidence to show that the ‘deep-state’ is more or less a collection of monstrous parasites gnawing on the entrails of the host. Reason suggests that bringing the affairs of The State out into the light of day should be the top priority.

The deep state — or the chain of command as it was formerly known as — has many points of particularity, but none of them directly represent the interests of main-street-America.  The system we presently have, seeks to replicate the human genome apparatus by hierarchically regulating and delegating control over the economy — the central nervous system — for the purpose of establishing command of an order it can oversee and profit from. The result of this maneuvering within the body politic is that democracy has been pushed off the page.

To date, the history of America has been one where hegemonic masculinity appears to have triumphed militaristically over reason. But with the establishment of an army of intelligence agents, another layer of ‘macho power’ was added to the gun-ships of state. It should be noted that having chosen ‘agro’ as the gene of choice for the State, the skills of diplomacy were stifled very early in the piece. Thus did brawn manage to smother America’s better self and consign its ‘dream’ to the isolation of the autistic ward.

Americans are now struggling to comprehend the thought processes of their Commander In Chief. They sense that the Commanders at The Pentagon, Commanders at Wall Street, Commanders at NATO, Commanders at Fleet Street, Commanders at AIPAC, Commanders at the CIA and the FBI are actively part of a genome chorus of imbedded interests seeking to retain as much power in the chain of command as possible in ways that corrupt the democratic process…which leaves it to the jury to form an opinion.

The jury is the American People and they are slowly becoming aware of the duplicity that has corrupted them from the very start. But wait! The centre is no longer holding and the people might come out of their long coma yet to discover that it is high time they freed themselves from the fake news and fake values that represent the current American brand. Clearly, the existing American brand of governance is the product of straw-men!

Elor Azaria Sentence: “No justice for Palestinians”

Human rights groups and Palestinian leaders have condemned what they called the “extremely lenient” punishment of Elor Azaria, the Israeli army medic who was filmed executing a severely wounded Palestinian in Hebron last year.

On Tuesday, a military tribunal sentenced the soldier to 18 months in jail and a demotion, nearly a year after he shot a bullet from close range into the head of 21-year-old Abdel al-Fattah al-Sharif.

There has rarely been a trial in Israel where the judges have been under such relentless – and mostly hostile – scrutiny. That appeared to be reflected in their sentencing, more than a month after they found Azaria guilty of manslaughter.

The sentence was much lower than the three to five years demanded by the prosecution, and far below the maximum tariff of 20 years. One of the three judges dissented, recommending two and a half to five years.

“Azaria should have received a life sentence. This will not act as a deterrence to other trigger-happy soldiers,” Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, told Al Jazeera. “There are thousands of other soldiers who have killed Palestinians, but are not on trial. Israeli pilots dropped bombs on schools and hospitals in Gaza [in the 2014 war]. Why are they not on trial, too?”

He called Israel a “democracy of guns”, adding: “The real author of the crimes against Palestinians is the Israeli state. By putting one individual on trial, Israel hopes to confer legitimacy on the whole apparatus of state-sanctioned killing.”

Cold-blooded execution

Even before the sentencing, Azaria’s lawyers had said they would appeal the verdict. If that fails, they have vowed to seek a pardon. Education Minister Naftali Bennett immediately backed a pardon for Azaria.

For Palestinians, the trial was viewed as little more than a farce. The family of Sharif said that Azaria had carried out a “cold-blooded execution”, not manslaughter. They added: “The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.”

Azaria shot Sharif more than 10 minutes after the Palestinian had been severely wounded by other soldiers at a checkpoint and was lying helpless on the ground.

Samir Zaqout, a spokesman for the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza, said the lenient sentence came as “no surprise”.

“Palestinians don’t expect any kind of justice from the Israeli legal system,” he told Al Jazeera. “The lives of Palestinians are judged as worthless.”

Addameer, a group defending Palestinian prisoners’ rights, also condemned the sentence, noting that it was less than many Palestinians received for belonging to an organisation proscribed by Israel.

“The message this sends to other soldiers and police officers who extrajudicially execute Palestinians is that their actions will not be seriously accounted for and that impunity will persist,” it said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.

Extreme anti-Arab views

Despite the clear-cut evidence, military prosecutors last year rejected a murder charge and settled on the lesser manslaughter indictment, amid a wave of support for Azaria from Israeli politicians and the public alike.

Polls showed most Israeli Jews agreed with Azaria’s refusal to show remorse: they believed he acted appropriately and had been unfairly singled out for prosecution.

During the trial, it emerged that Azaria, 20, held extreme anti-Arab views, which he expressed regularly on social media. In one Facebook post during the 2014 war on Gaza, he called for the massacre of every Palestinian in the small coastal enclave.

He also admitted to spending a great deal of time in Hebron with the followers of the late Meir Kahane, a rabbi whose virulently anti-Arab Kach party was outlawed in 1994 after a supporter, Baruch Goldstein, shot 29 Palestinians in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque.

None of that damaged Azaria’s popularity with a large swath of the Israeli Jewish public. The Israeli media designated him as “everyone’s son”.

Worries about morale

Despite prosecuting Azaria, the army was reported to be worried about the damage the case was doing to morale.

Local media revealed that, after Azaria’s conviction last month, a senior commander approached his father to persuade the family not to appeal, reportedly offering them an 18-month jail term in return. In the end, that was what the judges imposed, even without a deal.

The army is reportedly concerned about research showing a recent sharp drop in the proportion of combat soldiers who believe their service is more important than non-combat roles. There is a similar fall among those who believe their commander will back them if they get into trouble.

Riots erupted outside the courtroom early last month when Azaria was found guilty. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the senior politicians who called for a pardon for Azaria even before the conviction, implying that the trial itself was a miscarriage of justice.

Sari Bashi, the Israel-Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, said that her organisation’s research showed that too often, soldiers adopted a shoot-to-kill policy towards Palestinians, including when their lives were not in danger or when less force could be used.

“It is important that Israel’s political and security leaders repudiate the shoot-to-kill rhetoric,” she told Al Jazeera.

Secret offer to family

Delivering the verdict last month, the court dismissed Azaria’s claim that he acted in self-defence. They concluded that he sought revenge on Sharif for a knife attack on a checkpoint in the occupied Palestinian city a short time before.

The three judges, who received a flood of death threats afterwards, had to be issued with bodyguards. But while sentencing was expected a few days later, the panel seemed in no hurry to conclude the case.

It emerged that the extra time had been exploited by the army to try to reach a settlement with Azaria behind the scenes.

Azaria’s battalion commander, Guy Hazot, secretly approached his father, Charlie Azaria, to offer lenient treatment if his son expressed regret for his actions and promised not to appeal the conviction. Charlie Azaria recorded the conversation.

According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the move by Hazot was designed “to end the public relations headaches and social divisions the case has created in the army and throughout the country”.

Hazot’s actions raised serious questions about the military courts’ independence, said Nadeem Shehadeh, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal rights group in Israel. “I have never heard of a case where army commanders went over the court’s head to offer a sentencing deal,” he told Al Jazeera. “It is highly irregular.”

Appeal or pardon?

Azaria now has various options to avert or minimise prison time. He could request the head of the army’s central command reduce his sentence. But more likely, he will launch an appeal. His lawyers have said they will argue that the guilty verdict was influenced by statements last year from former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and army commanders that there was clear evidence Azaria shot Sharif.

If that fails, Azaria can ask for a pardon from the army chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot. And if he refuses, Azaria’s final option is to submit a request for a presidential pardon.

According to polls, some 70 percent of Israeli Jews support a full and immediate pardon.

There will be nothing exceptional if Azaria is reprieved. He will simply be the latest in a long line of security officials who demonstrably killed Palestinians, but were exonerated by a system that treats such murders with impunity, noted Zahalka.

In perhaps the most notorious such case, known as the Bus 300 affair, several security officials were pardoned after they were convicted of killing two Palestinians in 1984. The officers smashed the pair’s skulls with rocks after they had been arrested for hijacking a bus.

Following their pardons, one, Ehud Yatom, went on to serve in the Israeli parliament. In 2001, the then-prime minister, Ariel Sharon, appointed him as his anti-terror adviser, until the courts overruled the decision.

Rare prosecution

More often, however, soldiers face no trials at all, even where there is overwhelming evidence that they committed crimes, said Shehadeh. “We see lots of cases like Azaria’s, where soldiers injure or kill Palestinians at checkpoints, but usually nothing happens. In Azaria’s case, it was filmed and there was no choice but to prosecute him.”

In fact, Azaria is the first soldier to be tried for manslaughter since 2004, when Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin sniper, killed British solidarity activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza. Hayb was sentenced to eight years and served six and a half.

Usually, when the army is forced to prosecute, human rights groups have noted, the proceedings are dragged out and plea deals arranged to spare soldiers trials for more serious crimes.

Last month, Ben Dery, a border police commander, had his original charge of manslaughter reduced to negligent use of a firearm in a deal with prosecutors. Dery was filmed shooting dead 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara during a protest at a West Bank checkpoint in May 2014, even though the youth posed no danger. Three other Palestinians were hit with live rounds, one of whom also died from his wounds.

The prosecution accepted Dery’s claim that he had mistakenly loaded a live round into his rifle when he intended to shoot a rubber bullet. Nuwara’s family called the deal a “trick” and “shame on the Israeli justice system”.

Zahalka said: “There will never be real justice for Palestinians from the Israeli courts. The proper address is the International Criminal Court, where Israelis must be put on trial for war crimes.”

• First published in Al Jazeera

Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism

Fifty-two years-ago on February 21st, the world lost the great anti-colonial fighter, Malcolm X. Around the world, millions pause on this anniversary and take note of the life and contribution of Brother Malcolm. Two years ago, I keynoted a lecture on the legacy of Malcolm X at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. While I had long been aware of the veneration that Malcolm inspired in various parts of the world, I was still struck by the love and appreciation that so many have for Malcolm beyond activists in the black world.

There are a number of reasons that might explain why 52 years later so many still pay homage to Malcolm. For those of us who operate within context of the Black Radical Tradition, Malcolm’s political life and philosophy connected three streams of the Black Radical Tradition: nationalism, anti-colonialism and internationalism. For many, the way in which Malcolm approached those elements account for his appeal. Yet, I think there is something else. Something not reducible to the language of political struggle and opposition that I hear when I encounter people in the U.S. and in other parts of the world when they talk about Malcolm. I suspect it is his defiance, his dignity, his courage and his selflessness. For me, it is all of that, but it is also how those elements were reflected in his politics, in particular his approach to the concept of human rights.

The aspects of his thought and practice that distinguished the period of his work in that short year between his break with the Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1964 and his assassination in 1965 included not only his anti-racism and anti-colonialist stance but also his advocacy of a radical approach to the issue of human rights.

Human Rights as a De-Colonial Fighting Instrument

Malcolm – in the tradition of earlier black radical activists and intellectuals in the late 1940s –  understood the subversive potential of the concept of human rights when philosophically and practically disconnected from its liberal, legalistic, and state-centered genesis.

For Malcolm, internationalizing resistance to the system of racial oppression in the U.S. meant redefining the struggle for constitutional civil rights by transforming the struggle for full recognition of African American citizenship rights to a struggle for human rights.

This strategy for international advocacy was not new. African Americans led by W.E. B. Dubois were present at Versailles during the post-World War I negotiations to pressure for self-rule for various African nations, including independence from the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. At the end of the World War II during the creation of the United Nations, African American radicals forged the possibilities to use this structure as a strategic space to pressure for international support for ending colonization in Africa and fight against racial oppression in the United States.

Malcolm studied the process by which various African American organizations – the National Negro Congress (NNC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), petitioned the UN through the Human Rights Commission on behalf of the human rights of African Americans. Therefore, in the very first months after his split with the NOI, he already envisioned the idea that the struggle of Africans in the U.S. had to be internationalized as a human rights struggle.  He advised leaders of the civil rights movement to “expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement, it would internationalize it.”

Taking a page from the examples of the NNC, NAACP and CRC, The Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), one of the two organizations Malcolm formed after leaving the NOI, sought to bring the plight of African Americans to the United Nations to demand international sanctions against the U.S. for refusing to recognize the human rights of this oppressed nation.

However, there was something quite different with Malcolm’s approach to human rights that distinguished him from mainstream civil rights activists. By grounding himself in the radical human rights approach, Malcolm articulated a position on human rights struggle that did not contain itself to just advocacy. He understood that appealing to the same powers that were responsible for the structures of oppression was a dead end. Those kinds of unwise and potentially reactionary appeals would never result in substantial structural changes. Malcolm understood oppressed peoples must commit themselves to radical political struggle in order to advance a dignified approach to human rights.

We have to make the world see that the problem that we’re confronted with is a problem for humanity. It’s not a Negro problem; it’s not an American problem. You and I have to make it a world problem, make the world aware that there’ll be no peace on this earth as long as our human rights are being violated in America.

And if the U.S. and the international community does not address the human rights plight of the African American, Malcolm is clear on the course of action:

If we can’t be recognized and respected as a human being, we have to create a situation where no human being will enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Malcolm’s approach to the realization of human rights was one in which human agency is at the center. If oppressed individuals are not willing to fight for their human rights, Malcolm suggested that “you should be kept in the cotton patch where you’re not a human being.”

If you are not ready to pay the price required to experience full dignity as a person and as members of a self-determinant people, then you will be consigned to the “zone of non-being,” as Fanon refers to that place where the non-European is assigned. Malcolm referred to that zone as a place where one is a sub-human:

You’re an animal that belongs in the cotton patch like a horse and a cow, or a chicken or a possum, if you’re not ready to pay the price that is necessary to be paid for recognition and respect as a human being.

And what is that price?

The price to make others respect your human rights is death. You have to be ready to die… it’s time for you and me now to let the world know how peaceful we are, how well-meaning we are, how law-abiding we wish to be. But at the same time, we have to let the same world know we’ll blow their world sky-high if we’re not respected and recognized and treated the same as other human beings are treated.

People(s)-Centered Human Rights

This approach to human rights struggle is the basis of what I call the People(s)-Centered approach to human rights struggle.

People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle.

This is the Black Radical Tradition’s approach to human rights.  It is an approach that views human rights as an arena of struggle that, when grounded and informed by the needs and aspirations of the oppressed, becomes part of a unified comprehensive strategy for de-colonization and radical social change.

The PCHR framework provides an alternative and a theoretical and practical break with the race and class-bound liberalism and mechanistic state-centered legalism that informs mainstream human rights.

The People-Centered Framework proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations is located in the relationships of oppression. The PCHR framework does not pretend to be non-political. It is a political project in the service of the oppressed. It names the enemies of freedom: the Western white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy.

Therefore, the realization of authentic freedom and human dignity can only come about as a result of the radical alteration of the structures and relationships that determine and often deny human dignity. In other words, it is only through social revolution that human rights can be realized.

The demands for clean water; safe and accessible food; free quality education; healthcare and healthiness for all; housing; public transportation; wages and a socially productive job that allow for a dignified life; ending of mass incarceration; universal free child care; opposition to war and the control and eventual elimination of the police; self-determination; and respect for democracy in all aspects of life are some of the people-centered human rights that can only be realized through a bottom-up mass movement for building popular power.

By shifting the center of human rights struggle away from advocacy to struggle, Malcolm laid the foundation for a more relevant form of human rights struggle for people still caught in the tentacles of Euro-American colonial dominance. The PCHR approach that creates human rights from the bottom-up views human rights as an arena of struggle. Human rights does not emanate from legalistic texts negotiated by states—it comes from the aspirations of the people. Unlike the liberal conception of human rights that elevates some mystical notions of natural law (which is really bourgeois law) as the foundation of rights, the “people” in formation are the ethical foundation and source of PCHRs.

Trumpism is the logical outcome of the decades long assault of racialized neoliberal capitalism. Malcolm showed us how to deal with Trumpism, and the PCHR movement that we must build will move us to that place where collective humanity must arrive if we are to survive and build a new world. And we will – “by any means necessary.”

The “White Helmets” Go to Hollywood

The Netflix movie The White Helmets may win an Oscar in the “short documentary” category at the Academy Awards on Sunday February 26.  It will not be a surprise, despite the fact that the group is a fraud and the movie is a contrived infomercial.

The White Helmets are a “feel good” story like a Disney hero movie: 90% myth and fabrication. Most of what is claimed about the Syrian rescue group is untrue. They are not primarily Syrian; the group was initiated by British military contractor James LeMesurier and has been heavily funded (about $100 million) by the USA, UK and other governments. They are not volunteers; they are paid. This is confirmed in the Al Jazeera video which shows some White Helmet “volunteers’ talking about going on strike if they don’t get paid soon. Most of the heavy funding goes to the marketing which is run by “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. The manager is an Irish America woman Anna Nolan who has never been to Syria. As an example of its deception, “The Syria Campaign” website features video showing children dancing and playing soccer implying they are part of the opposition demand for a “free and peaceful” Syria . But the video images are taken from a 2010 BBC documentary about education in Syria under the Baath government.

White Helmets and Nusra

When eastern Aleppo was finally freed from the armed militants, it was discovered that the White Helmets headquarters were alongside the headquarters of the Al Qaeda Syrian militant group. Civilians from east Aleppo reported that the White Helmets primarily responded when the militants were attacked. Soon after departing Aleppo in government supplied buses (!) the White Helmets showed up in the mountains above Damascus where they allied with terrorist groups in poisoning then shutting off the water source for five million people in Damascus.

The White Helmets’ claim to be neutral and independent is another lie. They only work in areas controlled by the rebel groups, primarily Nusra/Al Qaeda.  Their leaders actively call for US and NATO intervention in Syria. Video shows White Helmet workers picking up the corpse of a civilian after execution and celebrating Nusra/Al Qaeda terrorist battle wins.

White Helmets and Nusra

The movie is as fraudulent as the group it tries to heroize. The film-makers never set foot in Syria. Their video footage takes place in southern Turkey where they show White Helmet trainees in a hotel and talking on cell phones. Thrilling. There is some footage from inside Syria but it looks contrived.  The opening scene depicts a White Helmet “volunteer” going to work and beseeching his son not to give mommy a hard time. Real or scripted?

The message is simple: here are people we can support; they are under attack by the brutal “regime” …shouldn’t we “do something” to stop it??!

ISIS and One Finger Salute


White Helmets’ One Finger Salute

Khaled Khatib is said to be the person who filmed the footage from inside Syria. He has reportedly received a US visa and will attend the Oscars. This will likely garner special media attention. Ironically, some of those who have exploited the refugee issue for their own fund-raising campaigns, like Human Rights Watch, are groups which promote the war which created the refugee crisis.

Khatib has tweeted the first video he took showing the White Helmets. It looks remarkably unrealistic, with a girl who was totally buried being removed without injuries or wounds or even much dirt. Is it really possible to rescue people that quickly? In the real world, rescue workers are told to work slowly so as to not damage or exacerbate body injuries. The original video has the logo of Aleppo Media Center (AMC) which was created by the Syrian Expatriates Organization.  Their address on K Street in Washington DC suggests this is yet another Western funded media campaign driven by political objectives.

In the past few days, with perfect timing for the upcoming Oscars, there is yet another “miracle” rescue … another girl totally buried but then removed and whisked away in record breaking time — perfect for social media.  Is it real or is it contrived?

This raises a question regarding the integrity of the Academy Awards. Are awards given for actual quality, authenticity, skill and passion?  Or are Oscars sometimes given under political and financial influence?  There is political motivation to promote the White Helmets as part of the effort to prevent the collapse of the Western/Israeli/Gulf campaign to overthrow the Syrian government.  These same governments have given boatloads of money to fuel the propaganda campaign. Last week Syria Solidarity Movement reached out to three marketing firms in the LA area to request help challenging the White Helmets nomination.  Two of the firms declined and the third said they were already being paid to promote the nomination!

The true source and purpose of the White Helmets was exposed almost two years ago. More recently Vanessa Beeley has documented the fact there is a REAL Syrian Civil Defence which was begun in the 1950’s and is a member of the International Civil Defense Organizations. This organization is opposite to the group created in Turkey in 2013. According to on-the-ground interviews in Aleppo, terrorists began by killing real Syrian rescue workers and stealing their equipment.  Since then the White Helmets have been supplied, by the West through Turkey, with brand new ambulances and related rescue equipment.

Max Blumenthal has written a two part detailed examination of the “shadowy PR firm” behind the “White Helmets”. And Jan Oberg has written an overview survey of the “pro” and “con” examinations in his work “Just How Gray are the White Helmets“.

Yet mainstream media, and some ‘alternative’ media, continue to uncritically promote the myth of the “White Helmets”. The promoters of the group absolutely deserve an award for marketing and advertising. This is a field where truth and reality is irrelevant; it’s all about sales and manipulation. On that basis, the “White Helmets” has been an incredible success. The group was started as “Syria Civil Defense”  in Turkey in 2013.  It was re-branded as the “White Helmets” in 2014. It was heavily used in 2014 and 2015 by Nicholas Krisof, Avaaz and others to campaign for all out aggression against Syria.  In 2016 the group received the Rights Livelihood Award and was seriously considered for a Nobel Peace Prize.  These facts show how corrupt and politically and financially influenced the Rights Livelihood Award and Nobel Peace Prize can be.

Meet the White Helmets

The White Helmets movie is a tactic in the ongoing campaign of distortion and deception around Syria.  It’s a fraud, just like the fake kidnapping of NBC reporter Richard Engel. The Oscars will be a demonstration of the integrity of the Academy Awards.  The reporting on the story will be a test of the integrity and accuracy of media outlets. Ironically, the Israeli mainstream TV program I24 presented both sides and titled the segment “White Helmets: Heroes or Hoax?”  In contrast, the highly popular and widely respected DemocracyNow has only broadcast a puff piece promoting the “White Helmet” disinformation.  The coming days will reveal more about the ongoing information war against Syria.  Meanwhile an on online petition continues to gather signatures to NOT give the Oscar to the White Helmets deception.

Assessing Media Bias

Can you trust any media outlet to tell the truth about foreign affairs? Or are they all part of some propaganda system? Perhaps the best we can do to understand what’s really happening in the world is read/listen/watch a variety of sources, but assume they are all biased in one way or another?

These questions came to mind after a recent Montréal event about Syria.

In a La Presse article, international affairs reporter Agnès Gruda essentially dismissed a presentation by a freelance journalist who has covered the war in Syria by writing: “for who does Eva Bartlett really work? During her conference, she confirmed that she wrote commentaries for Russia Today — a Russian propaganda organ.”

Gruda isn’t the only reporter to highlight Bartlett’s ties to RT when discussing her Syria work. A Hamilton Spectator story about her talks in that city noted, “Bartlett maintains a blog for the state-funded media outlet Russia Today” while Pulse reported that she contributed to the “Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today.” (Bartlett has published five articles about Syria for RT.)

Of course, the question of where journalists publish or who employs them and the interests of the owners/funders of said media does deserve attention. It is not unreasonable to be skeptical of a Russian media outlet’s reporting on Syria. While I’m not current with RT, it’s hard to imagine that a station set up by the Russian government wouldn’t be biased in favor of Moscow’s position in a conflict it is a major player in.

But, does Gruda describe herself as an employee of the billionaire Desmarais family that is heavily involved in Canadian and other countries’ politics? How does Gruda describe journalists who’ve written for Al Jazeera, which is owned by a Qatari monarchy that has backed armed opposition to Assad? Or how about the BBC, CBC and other media outlets owned by governments?

Does Gruda offer readers similar background on journalists who’ve worked on a National Film Board documentary? Created as part of the Canadian government’s World War II propaganda arsenal, the 1950 National Film Board Act calls for it to “promote the production and distribution of films in the national interest.”

Or, does she mention journalists’ ties when they have freelanced for Radio Canada International, a “Canadian government propaganda arm”? Initially focused on Eastern Bloc countries, beginning in 1945 RCI beamed radio abroad as part of “the psychological war against communism”, according to external minister Lester Pearson. Early on External Affairs was given a copy of the scripts used by commentators and it responded to criticism of Canada’s international policies. Into the 1990s RCI’s funding came directly from External Affairs.

Or what about the Canadian Press? The influential media institution has significant historic ties to official Canadian international policy. During World War I Ottawa helped establish the Canadian Press to increase pro-war coverage and strengthen national identity. A predecessor newswire disseminated Associated Press stories in Canada but the war spurred criticism of the US news agency, which did not cheerlead British/Canadian policy loud enough for some (Washington had yet to join the fighting). “In effect, an arm of the British Foreign Ministry”, Reuters offered Canadian newspapers free wire copy during the war. But, the British press agency would only deliver the service to Ottawa. If the federal government “wanted to ensure that this pro-war imperial news service was distributed effectively across the country”, it had to subsidize a telegraph connection to the West Coast. To support CP the federal government put up $50,000 ($800,000 in today’s dollars) a year, which lasted for six years.

CP “cemented” itself as Canada’s national news service during World War II. “To accomplish this,” Gene Allen writes in a history of the organization, “CP cultivated unprecedentedly close relations with Canada’s military authorities — who had reasons of their own for wanting extensive coverage of the national war effort — and thereby moved some distance away from traditional notions of journalistic independence.” In an extreme example, CP recruited a Canadian Forces public relations officer who led reporters into battle zones. Bill Boss remained with the same unit but began reporting for the news service and would become one of Canada’s most famous war correspondents.

Nationalism remains an important media frame at the CP. “As a war correspondent in the 1990s”, former CP reporter Stephen Ward describes facing nationalist pressures. “I came under pressure to be patriotic when reporting on Canadian soldiers or peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere [Iraq] … I should not embarrass Canada by reporting on mistakes in the field; I should not quote soldiers puzzled about their mission; I should do ‘feel-good’ pieces about soldiers watching hockey via satellite in warring Bosnia.”

Most Canadian media face similar pressures in their international coverage, as I detail in A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

Certainly Russia’s foreign affairs machinery isn’t the only one that shapes international coverage. Highlighting Russia’s “propaganda system” to a Canadian audience without mentioning the one at home indicates either a journalist’s ignorance or that she is part of it.

Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts

In not so merry old medieval England, wrongful injuries between people either were suffered in silence or provoked revenge. Cooler heads began to prevail and courts of law were opened so such disputes over compensation and other remedies could be adjudicated under trial by jury.

Taken across the Atlantic to the colonies, this system – called tort law or the law of wrongful injuries – evolved steadily to open the courtroom door until the nineteen seventies. It was then that the insurance industry and other corporate lobbies began pushing one restriction after another through state legislatures– not restrictions on corporations’ rights to sue, but restrictions on the rights of ordinary people to have their day in court.

Lawmakers, whose campaign coffers were  stuffed by corporate lobbyists, were not  concerned about advancing their passing rules that arbitrarily tied the hands of judges and jurors—the same judges and jurors who were the only people to see, hear and evaluate individual cases in their courtrooms. Legislation imposing caps on damages – as with California’s $250,000 lifetime cap on pain and suffering – was especially cruel for those victims of medical malpractice who were  young, unemployed or elderly and thus do not  have significant enough wage losses to receive sufficient damages.

In recent decades, the nonsense about our society being too litigious  (except for business vs business lawsuits) has become even more extreme. Not only do we file far fewer civil lawsuits per capita than in the 1840s, according to studies by University of Wisconsin law professors, but jury trials have been declining in both federal and state courts, with trials down by 60% since the mid-1980s.

My father used say that “if people do not use their rights, they will over time lose their rights.”  This truism brings us to a new book by University of Connecticut Law Professor Alexander Lahav, with the title In Praise of Litigation (Oxford University Press). The title invokes the necessity of legal recourse in a society whose ordinary people are being squeezed out of their day in court, being denied justice, and are becoming cynical enough to want to get out of jury duty—a right for which our forebears demanded from King George III.

Professor Lahav makes the point we should have learned in high school, or at least college. The right to litigate is critical to any democratic society. Imagine living in a country where no one can sue powerful wrongdoers or the government. We have names for countries like that. They’re called dictatorships or tyrannies.

Here is author Lahav’s summary: “Litigation is a civilized response to the difficult disagreements that often crop up in a pluralist society. The process of litigation does more than resolve disputes: it contributes to democratic deliberation. This is the key to understanding what this process is supposed to be about and what should be done to improve it. By appreciating the democratic values people protect and promote when they sue – enforcement of the law, transparency, participation and social equality – reformers can work toward a court system that is truly democracy promoting.”

It would be more reassuring if more judges reflected those words. Were that the case, they would be fighting harder to expand the shrinking court budgets (about two percent of state budgets) that are increasingly causing civil trials to be deferred or courtrooms to be temporarily closed. Tighter budgets lead judges to excessively pressure lawyers to settle or go to arbitration. The latter is a malicious inequity between consumers, workers and other people unequal in power vis-a-vis big corporations like Wells Fargo, Exxon/Mobil, Pfizer and Aetna, who force consumers to sign fine print contracts that limit people’s rights to use the courts.

The usual sally against praising civil litigation is the claim of too many frivolous suits. Whenever Richard Newman, the Executive Director of the American Museum of Tort Law, hears that asserted, he asks for examples. They are not forthcoming. For good reason. Litigation is expensive; lawyers have to guard their reputations and judges, who largely lean to the conservative side, are in charge of their courtrooms. They are quite ready to approve motions to dismiss a case or summary judgments.

We have to take a greater interest in our courts. They are open to the public for a reason. Students need to visit them and understand what the burdens are on courts, and how our civil justice system can be improved. When I ask assemblies of students if they have ever visited a court as a spectator, hardly one in ten raise a hand.

Courts should not be places of case overloads and long delays. They should be welcoming temples of justice where judge and jurors engage in reasoned deliberation for the advancement of justice as part of a functioning democracy. The demands for justice are such in our country that courts should have more judges, more juries and more trials.

As the great judge, Learned Hand, wisely wrote “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.”

President’s Quest for Détente with Russia Continues Despite Fierce Opposition

President Trump rose from the ashes of Mike Flynn at his press conference last Thursday. In a bravura performance, defiant and funny at times, the President took on the corporate media en masse.

It is a performance that should not be missed. You can savor both video and transcript at your leisure here.

The press

Trump: “Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

Sounds like what many “progressives” have been saying for a mighty long time, and it deserves resounding applause from them.

Trump: “And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone.’ The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that — the tone is such hatred.”

And: “Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I’m amazed by it. The public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN. You know.”

The bias of the press against Trump is so obvious and heavy handed that no one can miss it. I asked one friend who is an avid and careful reader of the NYT whether he could name a single pro-Trump article over the last year. He could not. Does the press believe that the public are such fools that they cannot see this tone? This is but one more sign of the contempt that the clueless Elite have for the working stiff.

Russia and Putin

The most important point of the press conference was undoubtedly Trump’s refusal to back off one inch from his desire to “get along with Russia,” what some call New Détente or Détente 2.0. It is the most important, because tension between the two nuclear powers could well lead to war and nuclear exchange. For antiwarriors of every stripe Trump’s steadfastness was good news. The Flynn episode has not changed Trump’s resolve one iota.

Trump continued. Were he to denounce Russia and Putin, he instructed the press, it would be much easier for him politically. He would be hailed by the corporate press, the elitists of both Parties, the neocons, the Hillarycons and the entire foreign policy establishment, all of whom are itching for a fight, heedless that it might lead to a nuclear exchange. So Trump’s willingness to hold to this position is hardly opportunistic.

But he went farther. Trump let the press know that the atmosphere they are creating would make it difficult to negotiate with Putin, to defeat ISIS, or to bring an end to the crises in Ukraine or Syria nurtured by the US over the last six plus years. Why? Because he would have difficulty making concessions, giving as well as taking which any negotiation or deal demands. Any concession would trigger the charge that Trump is Putin’s puppet, the crazed mantra with which we are harangued daily and for which after all these many months there is not a shred of evidence. This is the very same point that Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, often makes in his weekly discussions (Jan.25 episode especially) of U.S., Russia relations with John Batchelor on WABC.

Trump: “But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said ‘you know.’ He’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying ‘you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely. It’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.’ OK? And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia — and by the way, China and Japan and everyone. If we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing. (Emphasis, jw).

And later, Trump: “But you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.

If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. (Emphasis, jw)… They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

The idea of “getting along” with other nations, even as we compete with them economically, is of course the way to peace and the very antithesis of the path the neocons and liberalcons from the Clintons to Bush to Obama have set us on these past thirty plus years of killing and destruction. And yet the “peace movement” expresses nothing but hatred for Trump and pushes for his impeachment. Some “peace” movement, that.

Back to l’affaire Flynn for a moment. Permit this writer to make a surmise, scarcely a ripple on the sea of surmises these days about the Deep State, Trump etc. Flynn did nothing illegal. Trump did not have to let him go, and it can easily be argued that Trump may have kept blood out of the water by sticking by Flynn and keeping him on. Flynn has been an asset. He is a champion of Détente 2.0 with Russia. He knows the national “intelligence” apparatus and where all its skeletons are closeted. He seems to know the deep story of the support that the Obama and Hillary forces gave to ISIS – certainly indirectly through US allies and probably also directly through the CIA, Mossad etc. But Flynn is also a man near crazed with an irrational bellicosity to Iran. That would have thrown a monkey wrench into Détente 2.0 since Russia and Iran have close ties especially in the fight against Sunni fundamentalist terrorism. So sooner or later Flynn had to go to preserve Détente 2.0. Did Trump take this opportunity to do so? And did Tillerson also crave this? It is a suspicion worth pondering. Trump has shown a cold-blooded capacity to say “you’re fired” when someone’s liabilities outweigh their assets. This writer suspects that Flynn’s time had come.

Trump’s Clarifying Moment for Israel and Palestinians

For 15 years, the Middle East “peace process” initiated by the Oslo accords has been on life support. Last week, United States president Donald Trump pulled the plug, whether he understood it or not.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could barely stifle a smile as Mr Trump demoted the two-state solution from holy grail. Instead, he said of resolving the conflict: “I am looking at two states or one state … I can live with either one.”

Given the huge asymmetry of power, Israel now has a free hand to entrench its existing apartheid version of the one-state solution – Greater Israel – on the Palestinians. This is the destination to which Mr Netanyahu has been steering the Israel-Palestine conflict his entire career.

This week it emerged that at a secret summit in Aqaba last year – attended by Egypt and Jordan, and overseen by US secretary of state John Kerry – Mr Netanyahu was offered a regional peace deal that included almost everything he had demanded of the Palestinians. And still he said no.

Much earlier, in 2001, Mr Netanyahu was secretly filmed boasting to settlers of how he had foiled the Oslo process a short time earlier by failing to carry out promised withdrawals from Palestinian territory. He shrugged off the US role as something that could be “easily moved to the right direction”.

Now he has the White House where he wants it.

In expressing ambivalence about the final number of states, Mr Trump may have assumed he was leaving options open for his son-in-law and presumed peace envoy, Jared Kushner.

But words can take on a life of their own, especially when uttered by the president of the world’s only superpower.

Some believe Mr Trump, faced with the region’s realities, will soon revert to Washington’s playbook on two states, with the US again adopting the bogus role of “honest broker”. Others suspect his interest will wilt, allowing Israel to intensify settlement building and its abuse of Palestinians.

The long-term effect, however, is likely to be more decisive. The one-state option mooted by Mr Trump will resonate with both Israelis and Palestinians because it reminds each side of their historic ambitions.

The international community has repeatedly introduced the chimera of the two-state solution, but for most of their histories the two sides favoured a single state – if for different reasons.

From the outset, the mainstream Zionist movement wanted an exclusive Jewish state, and a larger one than it was ever offered.

In late 1947, the Zionist leadership backed the United Nations partition plan for tactical reasons, knowing the Palestinians would reject the transfer of most of their homeland to recent European immigrants.

A few months later they seized more territory – in war – than the UN envisioned, but were still not satisfied. Religious and secular alike hungered for the rest of Palestine. Shimon Peres was among the leaders who began the settlement drive immediately following the 1967 occupation.

Those territorial ambitions were muffled by Oslo, but will be unleashed again in full force by Mr Trump’s stated indifference.

The Palestinians’ history points in a parallel direction. As Zionism made its first inroads into Palestine, they rejected any compromise with what were seen as European colonisers.

In the 1950s, after Israel’s creation, the resistance under Yasser Arafat espoused a single secular democratic state in all of historic Palestine. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Palestinians’ growing isolation in the early 1990s, did Arafat cave in and sign up for partition.

But for Palestinians, Oslo has not only entailed enduring Israel’s constant bad faith, but also created a deeply compromised vehicle for self-government. The Palestinian Authority has split the Palestinian people territorially – between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza – and required a Faustian pact to uphold Israel’s security, including the settlers’, at all costs.

The truth, obscured by Oslo, is that the one-state solution has underpinned the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for more than a century. It did not come about because each expected different things from it.

For Israelis, it was to be a fortress to exclude the native Palestinian population.

For Palestinians, it was the locus of national liberation from centuries of colonial rule. Only later did many Palestinians, especially groups such as Hamas, come to mirror the Zionist idea of an exclusive – if in their case, Islamic – state.

Mr Trump’s self-declared detachment will now revive these historic forces. Settler leader Naftali Bennett will compete with Mr Netanyahu to take credit for speeding up the annexation of ever-greater blocs of West Bank territory while rejecting any compromise on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism.

The struggle Mr Trump’s equivocation provokes, however, must first play out in the internal politics of Israelis and Palestinians. It is a supremely clarifying moment. Each side must now define what it really wants to fight for: a fortress for their tribe alone, or a shared homeland ensuring rights and dignity for all.

• First published in The National

America First


Nothing in Trump’s campaign resonated with the American heartland quite like “America First”. But Trump wasn’t the first. Remember Charles Lindbergh? He put “America First” and paid the price.

Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) also wasn’t first but neither were we last. The first DYR “America First” billboard went up in Detroit in November 2015.  It didn’t last long but such is Jewish power.

It re-appeared on February 6 this year near Ann Arbor, Michigan but, just one week later, DYR received a call from Adams Outdoor Advertising General Manager Mike Cannon saying that the board had to come down. Such is Jewish power.

These tactics, known as ‘Dynamic Silencing”, are well-worn and well-described by Benjamin Ginsberg in his book The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, p. 124:

Working together, officials of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the ADL would approach the publishers of major newspapers and owners of radio stations in cities where Smith [substitute any “anti-Semite”] had scheduled appearances to ask that Smith be given no coverage whosoever. If newspapers and radio stations failed to cooperate on a voluntary basis, Jewish organizations were usually able to secure their compliance by threatening boycotts by Jewish advertisers.

So where now? Try another site? Turn it into a lapel pin? Put it on a truck and drive it cross-country?

Please send any ideas to us here.