It would be impossible for Palestinians not to revel in six prisoners carrying out a daring escape from one of Israel’s most secure and modern jails. Israel may be working overtime to demonise the six men as “terrorists“, but for Palestinians, they are among its finest and bravest foot soldiers.
They are prisoners of war, most of whom were serving long sentences after they tried to liberate their homeland by killing Israeli soldiers or settlers – those seen to be implementing and enforcing Israel’s decades-old occupation.
All Palestinians can identify with the plight of these men. Imprisonment is a rite of passage for much of the male Palestinian population; estimates are that many hundreds of thousands have passed through Israel’s jails over the past five decades.
Many are in jail awaiting trial, as were two of the six escapees. Others are in administrative detention – jailed without trial or even being told what charges are levelled against them. Inmates’ rights are serially abused. They are kept in overcrowded cells, have little contact with their families, and are often beaten or tortured.
In the summer, footage emerged – redolent of the abuses committed by the US army at Abu Ghraib in Iraq – of mass beatings of Palestinian inmates at Ketziot prison in Israel’s south in 2019. No action was taken even after the video leaked, presumably because this kind of thing – if rarely seen – is entirely routine. It confirms what Palestinian prisoners have long been saying.
And most Palestinian political prisoners are held in jails inside Israel, outside the occupied territories – the six fugitives broke out of Gilboa prison, in northern Israel – in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions and Israel’s obligations under the laws of war. As a result, family visits are often difficult, if not impossible.
Humiliation for Israel
Every Palestinian will glory in Israel’s humiliation. Guards failed to spot the prisoners gradually widening a hole in the drainage system in their cell over many months. The six men moved undetected past a sleeping guard, and they planned a sophisticated getaway – seemingly assisted – that foiled a police manhunt hot on their tail.
But the celebrations in Palestinian communities across the region, and far beyond, relate not just to the jailbreak. Every day the prisoners remain free – and four were still at large on Friday, after two were reportedly caught in Nazareth – is another hammer blow against the occupation. That is not just the way Palestinians see it. It is how Israel’s officials and much of the public understand it too.
The six did not just escape from an Israeli maximum-security prison. They jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. They broke out of the small prison that is Gilboa into the much larger prison for Palestinians that is their homeland under occupation.
Every minute the men remain at large, Israel’s occupation is defied. Every minute they can’t be found, Israel’s system of control is defeated. Palestinians are reminded that freedom may ultimately be possible; that the occupation is not invincible.
Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militant faction to which five of the men belonged, has urged Palestinians not to speak of this as an escape but as an “act of liberation”. This is precisely why Israel is determined that, as soon as possible, the men are returned behind visible bars – or maybe killed in a shootout, a fate that often befalls those who defy Israel. The point of its occupation is to crush any hope, any sense that freedom can be attained.
Hierarchy of confinement
In fact, like Dante’s circles of hell, Israel has created a hierarchy of confinement for Palestinians. The more they resist the fate intended for them by Israel – to be dispossessed and erased from their homeland – the more harshly Israel constrains them.
Prison is the ultimate punishment. But as is so often pointed out, Gaza is also a giant detention camp, the largest open-air prison in the world. The coastal strip, run by Hamas, is surrounded by an electronic perimeter fence, and besieged by the army and navy on all sides.
Over in the land-locked West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, formally the Palestinian president but in practice the unelected head of a few cantons in its midst, has won minor privileges for his own population through good behaviour.
By serving as Israel’s security sub-contractor – remember his infamous words saying “security coordination” with Israel was “sacred” – Abbas has managed to slightly loosen the chains of confinement. There are fewer Israeli checkpoints, and less of an Israeli army presence, in the small areas of the West Bank not being plundered by settlers.
But Israel’s furious reaction to the jailbreak, as well as the fugitives’ limited options in the face of this backlash, were a reminder of deeper realities. The occupied West Bank was put under immediate military closure – the cell door slammed shut – in a familiar move of Israeli collective punishment.
The six men are from Jenin and its immediate environs. The small Palestinian city in the northern West Bank is only a stone’s throw from Gilboa prison. They could have expected to be hidden there, if they could have reached it. In another act of collective punishment – a war crime – Israel arrested several of their relatives.
Given Abbas’s “security coordination” with Israel, however, the fugitives may prefer to stay out of the West Bank. Abbas has noticeably avoided expressing any support himself for the men. He recently met Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, in a bid to revive a long-stalled “peace process” that served in the past only to perpetuate, and provide cover for, the occupation.
Israel’s intelligence agencies are constantly eavesdropping on Palestinian communications, and they operate an extensive network of collaborators in the occupied West Bank. Or as the Haaretz military affairs correspondent Amos Harel put it with revealing frankness: “With the possible exception of a number of totalitarian regimes, the West Bank is subject to as comprehensive and intensive intelligence coverage as anyplace on earth.”
The fugitives’ best hope of remaining out of Israel’s clutches may be leaving their homeland and crossing the border into Jordan. Amman would find it hard to return them, given their status as heroes and Jordan’s concerns about inflaming passions among its own large Palestinian refugee population.
But making such an escape would be no mean feat. Israel already has tight security along the Jordan Valley.
Underscoring the paradoxes of the occupation, Israel seems most concerned that the fugitives may try to break into Gaza. It has reportedly beefed up patrols around the perimeter. The coastal enclave may be an open-air prison, and has been under 15 years of Israeli blockade, but it is one where, uniquely, the Palestinian inmates have some degree of control inside the walls of their massively overcrowded, resource-poor, polluted cell.
Israel’s sanctions are mostly at arm’s length. It keeps the inmates on a near-starvation diet, and intermittently – when they start to riot – it sends in missiles or soldiers as the equivalent of punishment beatings.
The final option for the men is to stay inside Israel. Already, the Israeli media is hinting to its readers that the fugitives were aided, and sheltered, by Israel’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population who have very degraded citizenship. These Palestinians are the remnants of the native population who were otherwise expelled from their lands during the new state of Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations in 1948.
Some of Gilboa’s guards have been interrogated on the assumption that the prisoners received inside help. That is one way of seeking to diminish their achievement in escaping from an Israeli maximum-security jail. But it is also a finger of accusation pointing at Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens.
The Druze are a very small sect among the Palestinian minority whose young men are, uniquely for the minority, conscripted into the Israeli army. Afterwards, most end up with few opportunities apart from working in low-paying security jobs, often as prison guards.
Israeli authorities have every interest to shift the blame onto one or more of these guards for the jailbreak, if it means their own incompetence or complacency can be taken out of the spotlight.
Heroes three times
What happens next will be difficult for Israel, whatever the outcome. The six escapees are now heroes to the Palestinian public three times over. They originally made personal sacrifices to join the military resistance to the occupation and risk their lives. They carried out a bold and rare prison escape under the very noses of Israeli authorities. And now they are on the run, and most have so far evaded capture, despite Israel using every one of the many means at its disposal.
They have rapidly become symbols of the plight of every Palestinian – and what every Palestinian aspires to achieve through defiance.
Inspired by the six men’s actions, Israeli political prisoners have already rioted to stop efforts by Israel to collectively punish them over the prison break and move them to different jails. They are also threatening a mass hunger strike next week over new forms of collective punishment in response to the jailbreak, including cancelling already limited family visits. Hamas could fire rockets into Israel if matters escalate.
Support among the Palestinian public is likely to be rock-solid, and discontent – both against Israel and against Abbas as Israel’s security contractor – could easily explode across the region, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and among Palestinian citizens in Israel. Some Palestinians responded to a Hamas call for a “day of rage” in support of the prisoners on Friday, and there were warnings that an uprising could be imminent.
On the other hand, the new right-wing government of Naftali Bennett, after more than a decade of rule by Benjamin Netanyahu, is vulnerable to claims by his rival that both the jailbreak and the failed manhunt are evidence of dangerous incompetence on his watch.
For many of Bennett’s own supporters, the preferred outcome would doubtless be the fugitives’ execution while on the run. Alon Eviatar, a former Israeli intelligence officer, spoke bluntly of either catching or killing them. The latter outcome would be seen by much of the Israeli public as reasserting “deterrence” and as fitting “justice” for men widely reviled.
Most Israelis want a forceful message sent to Palestinians: that resisting their imprisonment – whether in a small jail such as Gilboa or in the bigger jail of the occupation – is futile.
For a while longer, however, Palestinians will be able to exult in the idea that resistance might actually achieve something after all.
The decision by the African Union Commission, on July 22, to grant Israel observer status membership in the AU was the culmination of years of relentless Israeli efforts aimed at co-opting Africa’s largest political institution. Why is Israel so keen on penetrating Africa? What made African countries finally succumb to Israeli pressure and lobbying?
To answer the above questions, one has to appreciate the new Great Game under way in many parts of the world, especially in Africa, which has always been significant to Israel’s geopolitical designs. Starting in the early 1950s to the mid-70s, Israel’s Africa network was in constant expansion. The 1973 war, however, brought that affinity to an abrupt end.
What Changed Africa
Ghana, in West Africa, officially recognized Israel in 1956, just eight years after Israel was established atop the ruins of historic Palestine. What seemed like an odd decision at the time – considering Africa’s history of western colonialism and anti-colonial struggles – ushered in a new era of African-Israeli relations. By the early 1970s, Israel had established a strong position for itself on the continent. On the eve of the 1973 Israeli-Arab war, Israel had full diplomatic ties with 33 African countries.
“The October War”, however, presented many African countries with a stark choice: siding with Israel – a country born out of Western colonial intrigues – or the Arabs, who are connected to Africa through historical, political, economic, cultural and religious bonds. Most African countries opted for the latter choice. One after the other, African countries began severing their ties with Israel. Soon enough, no African state, other than Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, had official diplomatic relations with Israel.
Then, the continent’s solidarity with Palestine went even further. The Organization of African Unity – the precursor to the African Union – in its 12th ordinary session held in Kampala in 1975, became the first international body to recognize, on a large scale, the inherent racism in Israel’s Zionist ideology by adopting Resolution 77 (XII). This very Resolution was cited in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted in November of that same year, which determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. Resolution 3379 remained in effect until it was revoked by the Assembly under intense American pressure in 1991.
Since Israel remained committed to that same Zionist, racist ideology of yesteryears, the only rational conclusion is that it was Africa, not Israel, that changed. But why?
First, the collapse of the Soviet Union. That seismic event resulted in the subsequent isolation of pro-Soviet African countries which, for years, stood as the vanguard against American, Western and, by extension, Israeli expansionism and interests on the continent.
Second, the collapse of the unified Arab front on Palestine. That front has historically served as the moral and political frame of reference for the pro-Palestine, anti-Israel sentiments in Africa. This started with the Egyptian government’s signing of the Camp David Agreement, in 1978-79 and, later, the Oslo Accords between the Palestinian leadership and Israel, in 1993.
Covert and overt normalization between Arab countries and Israel continued unabated over the last three decades, resulting in the extension of diplomatic ties between Israel and several Arab countries, including African-Arab countries, like Sudan and Morocco. Other Muslim-majority African countries also joined the normalization efforts. They include Chad, Mali and others.
Third, the ‘scramble for Africa’ was renewed with a vengeance. The neocolonial return to Africa brought back many of the same usual suspects – Western countries, which are, once more, realizing the untapped potential of Africa in terms of markets, cheap labor and resources. A driving force for Western re-involvement in Africa is the rise of China as a global superpower with keen interests in investing in Africa’s dilapidated infrastructure. Whenever economic competition is found, military hardware is sure to follow. Now several Western militaries are openly operating in Africa under various guises – France in Mali and the Sahel region, the US’ many operations through US Africa Command (AFRICOM), and others.
Tellingly, Washington does not only serve as Israel’s benefactor in Palestine and the Middle East, but worldwide as well, and Israel is willing to go to any length to exploit the massive leverage it holds over the US government. This stifling paradigm, which has been at work in the Middle East region for decades, is also at work throughout Africa. For example, last year the US administration agreed to remove Sudan from the state-sponsored terror list in exchange for Khartoum’s normalization with Israel. In truth, Sudan is not the only country that understands – and is willing to engage in – this kind of ‘pragmatic’ – read under-handed – political barter. Others also have learned to play the game well. Indeed, by voting to admit Israel to the AU, some African governments expect a return on their political investment, a return that will be exacted from Washington, not from Tel Aviv.
Unfortunately, albeit expectedly, as Africa’s normalization with Israel grew, Palestine became increasingly a marginal issue on the agendas of many African governments, who are far more invested in realpolitik – or simply remaining on Washington’s good side – than honoring the anti-colonial legacies of their nations.
Netanyahu the Conqueror
However, there was another driving force behind Israel’s decision to ‘return’ to Africa than just political opportunism and economic exploitation. Successive events have made it clear that Washington is retreating from the Middle East and that the region was no longer a top priority for the dwindling American empire. For the US, China’s decisive moves to assert its power and influence in Asia are largely responsible for the American rethink. The 2012 US withdrawal from Iraq, its ‘leadership from behind’ in Libya, its non-committal policy in Syria, among others, were all indicators pointing to the inescapable fact that Israel could no longer count on the blind and unconditional American support alone. Thus, the constant search for new allies began.
For the first time in decades, Israel began confronting its prolonged isolation at the UNGA. America’s vetoes at the UN Security Council may have shielded Israel from accountability to its military occupation and war crimes; but US vetoes were hardly enough to give Israel the legitimacy that it has long coveted. In a recent conversation with former UN human rights envoy, Richard Falk, the Princeton Professor Emeritus explained to me that, despite Israel’s ability to escape punishment, it is rapidly losing what he refers to as the ‘legitimacy war’.
Palestine, according to Falk, continues to win that war, one that can only be achieved through real, grassroots global solidarity. It is precisely this factor that explains Israel’s keen interest in transferring the battlefield to Africa and other parts of the Global South.
On July 5, 2016, then Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kick-started Israel’s own ‘scramble for Africa’ with a visit to Kenya, which was described as historic by the Israeli media. Indeed, it was the first visit by an Israeli prime minister in the last 50 years. After spending some time in Nairobi, where he attended the Israel-Kenya Economic Forum alongside hundreds of Israeli and Kenyan business leaders, he moved on to Uganda, where he met leaders from other African countries including South Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Within the same month, Israel announced the renewal of diplomatic ties between Israel and Guinea.
The new Israeli strategy flowed from there. More high-level visits to Africa and triumphant announcements about new joint economic ventures and investments followed. In June 2017, Netanyahu took part in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. There, he went as far as rewriting history.
“Africa and Israel share a natural affinity,” Netanyahu claimed in his speech. “We have, in many ways, similar histories. Your nations toiled under foreign rule. You experienced horrific wars and slaughters. This is very much our history.” With these words, Netanyahu attempted, not only to hide Israel’s colonial intentions, but also rob Palestinians of their own history.
Moreover, the Israeli leader had hoped to crown his political and economic achievements with the Israel-Africa Summit, an event that was meant to officially welcome Israel, not to a specific African regional alliance, but to the whole of Africa. However, in September 2017, the organizers of the event decided to indefinitely postpone it, after it was confirmed to be taking place in Lome, capital of Togo, on October 23-27 of that same year. What was seen by Israeli leaders as a temporary setback was the result of intense, behind-the-scenes lobbying of several African and Arab countries, including South Africa and Algeria.
Ultimately, it was a mere temporary setback. The admission of Israel into the 55-member African bloc in July is considered by Israeli officials and media pundits as a major political victory, especially as Tel Aviv has been laboring to achieve this status since 2002. At the time, many obstacles stood in the way, like the strong objection raised by Libya under the leadership of Muammar Ghaddafi and the insistence of Algeria that Africa must remain committed to its anti-Zionist ideals, and so on. However, one after the other, these obstacles were removed or marginalized.
In a recent statement, Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, celebrated Israel’s Africa membership as an “important part of strengthening the fabric of Israel’s foreign relations”. According to Lapid, the exclusion of Israel from the AU was an “anomaly that existed for almost two decades”. Of course, not all African countries agree with Lapid’s convenient logic.
According to TRT news, citing Algerian media, 17 African countries, including Zimbabwe, Algeria and Liberia, have objected to Israel’s admission to the Union. In a separate statement, South Africa expressed outrage at the decision, describing the “unjust and unwarranted decision of the AU Commission to grant Israel observer status in the African Union” as “appalling”. For his part, Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramtane Lamamra, said that his country will “not stand idly by in front of this step taken by Israel and the African Union without consulting the member states.”
Despite Israel’s sense of triumphalism, it seems that the fight for Africa is still raging, a battle of politics, ideology and economic interests that is likely to continue unabated for years to come. However, for Palestinians and their supporters to have a chance at winning this battle, they must understand the nature of the Israeli strategy through which Israel depicts itself to various African countries as the savior, bestowing favors and introducing new technologies to combat real, tangible problems. Being more technologically advanced as compared to many African countries, Israel is able to offer its superior ‘security’, IT and irrigation technologies to African states in exchange for diplomatic ties, support at the UNGA and lucrative investments.
Consequently, Palestine’s Africa dichotomy rests partly on the fact that African solidarity with Palestine has historically been placed within the larger political framework of mutual African-Arab solidarity. Yet, with official Arab solidarity with Palestine now weakening, Palestinians are forced to think outside this traditional box, so that they may build direct solidarity with African nations as Palestinians, without necessarily merging their national aspirations with the larger, now fragmented, Arab body politic.
While such a task is daunting, it is also promising, as Palestinians now have the opportunity to build bridges of support and mutual solidarity in Africa through direct contacts, where they serve as their own ambassadors. Obviously, Palestine has much to gain, but also much to offer Africa. Palestinian doctors, engineers, civil defense and frontline workers, educationists, intellectuals and artists are some of the most highly qualified and accomplished in the Middle East. True, they have much to learn from their African peers, but also have much to give.
Unlike persisting stereotypes, many African universities, organizations and cultural centers serve as vibrant intellectual hubs. African thinkers, philosophers, writers, journalists, artists and athletes are some of the most articulate, empowered and accomplished in the world. Any pro-Palestine strategy in Africa should keep these African treasures in mind as a way of engaging, not only with individuals but with whole societies.
Israeli media reported extensively and proudly about Israel’s admission to the AU. The celebrations, however, might also be premature, for Africa is not a group of self-seeking leaders bestowing political favors in exchange for meager returns. Africa is also the heart of the most powerful anti-colonial trends the world has ever known. A continent of this size, complexity, and proud history cannot be written off as if a mere ‘prize’ to be won or lost by Israel and its neocolonial friends.
When the Palestinian Olympic delegation of five athletes – adorned in traditional Palestinian attire and carrying the Palestinian flag – crossed into the Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium during the inauguration ceremony on July 23, I was overcome with pride and nostalgia.
I grew up watching the Olympics. All of us did. Throughout the month-long international sports event, the Olympics were the main topic of discussion among the refugees in my refugee camp in Gaza, where I was born.
Unlike other sports competitions such as football, you did not need to care about the sport itself to appreciate the underlying meaning of the Olympics. The entire exercise seemed to be political.
However, the politics of the Olympics is unlike daily politics. Indeed, it is about something profoundly deeper, related to identity, culture, national struggles for liberation, equality, race and, yes, freedom.
Before Palestine’s first Olympic participation in 1996, with only one athlete, Majed Abu Marahi, we cheered – we still do – for all the countries that seemed to convey our collective experiences or share part of our history.
In our Gaza refugee camp, in a small, often hot, simply furnished living room, my family, friends and neighbors would gather around a small black and white television set. For us, the opening ceremony was always critical. Though the camera often allocates mere seconds to each delegation, a few seconds were all we needed to declare our political stances regarding each and every country. It was no surprise, then, that we cheered for all African and Arab countries, jumped in joy when the Cubans came marching in, and booed those who have contributed to Israel’s military occupation of our homeland.
Imagine the chaos in our living room as a small crowd of people made loud and swift political declarations about every country, making a case of why we should cheer or boo, all simultaneously: “The Cubans love Palestine”, “South Africa is the country of Mandela”, “The French gave Israel Mirage fighter jets”, “The Americans are biased towards Israel”, “The president of this or that country said the Palestinians deserve freedom”, “Kenya was occupied by the British too”, and so on.
The judgment was not always easy as sometimes none of us would be able to offer a conclusive statement to make a case for why we should cheer or boo. For example, an African country which normalized relations with Israel would give us pause: we hated the government but we loved the people. Many such moral dilemmas were often left unanswered.
These dilemmas existed even before I was born. The previous generation of Palestinians also struggled with such pressing quandaries. For example, when African American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raised their fists during the award ceremony in the October 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, that, too, must have been a difficult philosophical question to be readily answered by the residents of my refugee camp. On the one hand, we loathed the historically devastating role played – and continues to be played – by the US, in arming, funding and politically supporting Israel. Without such support, Israel would have found it impossible to maintain and profit from its ongoing system of military occupation and apartheid. On the other hand, we supported, as we continue to support, African Americans in their rightful struggle for equality and justice. In these situations, it is often resolved that we should support the players while still rejecting the countries they represent.
The ongoing Tokyo Olympics were hardly the exception of this complex political system. While much media coverage has been placed on the Covid-19 pandemic – the fact that the games were held in the first place, the safety of the players and so on – the politics, the human triumph, the racism, and much more were also still present.
As Palestinians, this time around, we have more to cheer for than usual: our own athletes. Dania, Hanna, Wesam, Mohamed and Yazan are making us proud. The story of each one of these athletes represents a chapter in the Palestinian saga, one that is rife with collective pain, besiegement and ongoing Diaspora, but also hope, unparalleled strength and determination.
These Palestinian athletes, like athletes from other countries who are enduring their own struggles, whether for freedom, democracy or peace, carry a heavier burden than those who were trained under normal circumstances, in stable countries that provide their athletes with seemingly endless resources to reach their full potential.
Mohamed Hamada, a weightlifter from the besieged Gaza Strip, competes in the 96 kg men snatch. In actuality, the 19-year-old is already carrying a mountain. Having survived several deadly Israeli wars, a relentless siege, lack of freedom to travel, to train under proper circumstances and, of course, the resulting trauma, by taking his first step in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, Hamada was already a champion. Hundreds of aspiring weightlifters in Gaza and throughout Palestine must have watched him in their own living rooms, filled with hope that they, too, can overcome all the hardship, and that they, too, could be present at future Olympics.
Yazan al-Bawwab, the 21-year-old Palestinian swimmer, embodies, despite his youth, the story of the Palestinian diaspora. A Palestinian, who grew up in the United Arab Emirates, now living in Canada while carrying dual Italian and Palestinian citizenships, he represents a generation of Palestinian youngsters who live outside the homeland and whose life is a reflection of the constant search for home. There are millions of Palestinian refugees who were forced by war, or circumstances, to constantly relocate. They too, aspire to live a normal and stable life, to carry the passports of their own homeland with pride and, like al-Bawwab, to achieve great things in life.
The truth is, for us, Palestinians, the Olympics are not an ethnocentric exercise. Our relationship to it is not simply inspired by race, nationality or even religion, but by humanity itself. The dialectics through which we cheer or boo conveys so much about how we see ourselves as a people, our position in the world, the solidarity that we wish to bestow and the love and solidarity that we receive. So, Ireland, Scotland, Cuba, Venezuela, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden and many more, including all Arab countries without exception, can be certain that we will always remain their loyal fans.
Ben & Jerry’s decision to suspend its operations in the occupied Palestinian West Bank is an event that is proving critical to Palestinian efforts, which ultimately aim at holding Israel accountable for its military occupation, apartheid and war crimes.
By responding to the Palestinian call for boycotting apartheid Israel, the ice cream giant has delivered a blow to Israel’s attempts at criminalizing and, ultimately, ending the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
What differentiates Ben & Jerry’s decision to abandon the ever-growing market of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank from previous decisions by other international corporations is the fact that the ice cream company has made it clear that its move was morally motivated. Indeed, Ben & Jerry’s did not attempt to mask or delude their decision in any way. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a statement by the Vermont, US-based company read on July 19.
Expectedly, the Israeli government was infuriated by the decision, especially as it comes after years of a well-funded, state-sponsored, global campaign to discredit, demonize and altogether outlaw the BDS movement and any similar initiatives that aimed at boycotting Israel.
For years, the Israeli government has viewed the boycott movement as a real, tangible threat. Some Israeli officials went as far as perceiving the ‘delegitimization’ resulting from the boycott campaign as the primary threat faced by Israel at the present time. Well attended conferences were held in Las Vegas, Brussels, Jerusalem and elsewhere, hundreds of millions of dollars raised, fiery speeches delivered, while politicians and ‘philanthropists’ lined up at many occasions, vowing their undying allegiance to Israel and accusing anyone who dare criticize the ‘Jewish State’ as ‘antisemitic’.
However, Israel’s biggest challenge was, and remains, its near complete reliance on the support of self-serving politicians. True, those ‘friends of Israel’ can be quite helpful in formulating laws that, for example, falsely equate between criticizing Israel and antisemitism, or render the act of boycott illegal, and so on. In fact, many US states and European parliaments have bowed down to Israeli pressure to criminalize the BDS movement and its supporters, whether in the realm of business or even at the level of civil society and individuals. All of this is amounting to very little.
Additionally, Israel doubled down on its attempts to control the narrative in mainstream media, in academia and wherever the anti-Israeli occupation debate proved to be consequential. Through a Kafkaesque, and often bizarre logic, Israel and its supporters deliberately misinterpreted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, applying it at every platform where criticism of Israel or its Zionist ideology is found. The reckless Israeli dialectics was, sadly – albeit predictably – embraced by many of Israel’s Western benefactors, including US, Canada and Italy, among others.
Yet, none of this has ended or even slowed down the momentum of the Palestinian boycott movement. This fact should hardly come as a surprise, for boycott movements are fundamentally designed to circumvent governmental control and to place pressure on politicians, state and corporate apparatuses, so that they may heed the calls of civil society. Thus, the more Israel attempts to use its allies to illegalize, delegitimize and suppress dissent, the more it actually fuels it.
The above is the secret of the BDS success and Israel’s very Achilles’ heel. By ignoring the boycott campaign, the movement grows exponentially; and by fighting it, using traditional means and predictable language, it grows even faster.
In order to appreciate Tel Aviv’s unsolvable quandary, just marvel at this odd response, which was offered by top Israeli officials in response to Ben & Jerry’s decision. Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, warned the British company that acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, of “severe consequences”, threatening that Israel will take “strong action”, most likely referring to legal action.
But what was truly strange was the language used by Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, who accused Ben & Jerry’s of participating in “a new form of terrorism”, namely, “economic terrorism”. On July 21, Herzog vowed to fight “this boycott and terrorism in any form”.
Note how the Israeli response to the continued success of the Palestinian boycott movement remains confined in terms of options and language. Yet on the legal front, most attempts at indicting BDS activists have repeatedly failed, as the recent court rulings in Washington demonstrate. On the other hand, the act of accusing an ice cream company of ‘terrorism’ deserves some serious examination.
Historically, Israel has situated its anti-Palestinian propaganda war within a handful of redundant terminology, predicated on the claim that Israel is a Jewish and democratic State, the security and very existence of which is constantly being threatened by terrorists and undermined by anti-Semites.
The above mantra may have succeeded in shielding Israel from criticism and tarnishing Israel’s victims, the Palestinians. However, it is no longer a guarantor of international sympathy and solidarity. Not only is the Palestinian struggle for freedom gaining global traction, but the pro-Israeli discourse is finally discovering its limitations. By calling an ice cream company ‘terrorist’ for simply adhering to international law, Herzog has revealed the growing lack of credibility and absurdity of the official Israeli language.
But this is not the end of Israel’s problems. Regardless of whether they are branded successful or unsuccessful, all BDS campaigns are equally beneficial in the sense that each campaign kickstarts a conversation that often goes global, as we have seen repeatedly in the past. Airbnb, G4S, and SodaStream, are but a few of many such examples. Any global debate on Israel’s military occupation and apartheid is a BDS success story.
That said, there is one strategy that will surely end the BDS campaign, and that is ending the Israeli occupation, dismantling the racial system of apartheid and giving Palestinians their freedom as enshrined and protected by international law. Alas, this is the only strategy that Israeli officials are yet to consider.
Exits of Netanyahu and Trump: chance to dial down Mideast tensions
The Iraqi geopolitical analyst, Ali Fahim, recently said in an interview with The Tehran Times: “The arrival of [newly elected Iranian President] Ebrahim Raisi at the helm of power gives a great moral impetus to the resistance axis.” Further, with new administrations in the United States, Israel, and Iran, another opportunity presents itself to reinstate fully the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, as well as completely lift the US economic sanctions from Iran.
Let us wait and see after Raisi is in power in August 2021. It is a fact that, since the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, tensions have been on the rise. One can legitimately suspect that the Trump pull-out had as its real intentions: first, to provoke Tehran; second to undo one of the only foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration, which was negotiated by John Kerry for the US. The Trump administration also used unfair economic sanctions on Iran as a squeeze for regime-change purposes. This was a complete fiasco: the Islamic Republic of Iran suffered but held together.
As far as military tensions in the region, there are many countries besides Syria where conflicts between Iran-supported groups and US-supported proxies are simmering, or full blown. The US does its work, not only via Israel in the entire region, but also Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen, and presently Turkey in Syria. Right now conflicts are active in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine, but something could ignite in Lebanon at any time.
Iran views itself as the lead supporter of the resistance movement, not only through its support for regional allies like Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad, but also beyond the Middle-East, for Maduro in Venezuela. The upcoming Iranian administration does not hide its international ambition. For better or worse, Iran sees itself as a global leader of smaller nonaligned countries that are resisting US imperialism, be it Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, or Venezuela. Even though Iran is completely different ideologically, it has replaced the leadership of Yugoslavia’s Tito or Cuba’s Castro. Both were not only Marxists but also leaders of the nonaligned movement during the Cold War, when the US and the USSR were competing to split the world in two. Now the dynamics have shifted because of China’s rising global influence, and the Iran Islamic Republic thinks it has a card to play in this complex geopolitical imbroglio.
In the US, Europe and Gulf States, Raisi has been categorized as a hardliner cleric and judge, but this gives Raisi more power than he will have as president. In Iran, major foreign policy issues are not merely up to the president to decide but a consensus process involving many. In the end such critical decisions are always signed off by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has already indicated that he supports going back to the 2015 nuclear deal. During his electoral campaign, Raisi, who is close to Khamenei despite previous opposition, said that if elected he would uphold the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement.
Turkey’s President, Recep Erdogan, often behaves as a modern day Sultan. He is shrewd and extremely ambitious. He fancies himself to be the global leader, politically and militarily, of Sunny Islam. Under Erdogan, Turkey has flexed its military muscles, either directly or through Syrian proxies, not only in Syria, but also in Libya, as well as in Turkey’s support for Qatar in the small Gulf State’s recent skirmish with Saudi Arabia. Erdogan thinks he now has a card to play in Afghanistan. More immediately and strategically, the serious issue on Erdogan’s plate is called Idlib.
The problem of the pocket of Idlib has to be resolved, and unfortunately, for all the civilian population that has been and will be in the crossfire, it can only be solved by a full-on military operation, with troops from Bashar al-Assad and Russia. Turkey is, of course, adamant about keeping a military presence and influence within Syria to prevent a complete Assad victory. Time will tell, but the war of attrition has to end. For this to happen, Russia has to commit to face Turkey from a military standpoint. If Russia is ready for a direct confrontation with Turkey, then Bashar al-Assad’s troops, and Russian forces bringing mainly logistic and air support, should prevail.
What should make this easier is the fact Erdogan has overplayed his hand for quite some time. This includes his tense relationships with his supposed NATO allies, many of whom, including France, Greece and even Germany, would not mind having him out of NATO altogether.
There are important factors that explain, not only why Erdogan is quite popular with Turks, but also why his position could become precarious. Erdogan is playing on the Turkish nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire.
From one Empire to two others: the Sykes-Picot agreement
To understand better this imperial dynamic, we must go back to the middle of World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was allied with Germany. In 1916, the Sykes-Picot secret agreement effectively sealed the fate of post World War I Middle-East. This British-French agreement, in expectation of a final victory, was a de-facto split of the Ottoman Empire. In the resulting colonial or imperial zones of influence, a euphemism for an Anglo-French control of the region, the British would get Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and the Gulf area, while France would take control of Syria and Lebanon. More than 100 years later, the misery created by this imperialist deal lingers in the entire region, from Palestine, with the 1948 English-blessed creation of the Zionist state of Israel, to Iraq. France put in place two protectorates in Syria and Lebanon, in which the respective populations did not fare much better. Even today, French governments still act as if they have a say in Lebanese affairs.
The weight of history and the nostalgia of 600 years of rule in the Middle-East are why some Turks — especially Erdogan — feel entitled to an intrusive role in the region. The unfortunate story of the Middle-East has been to go from one imperialism to another. With the American empire taking over in the mid-1950s, the only competition during the Cold War became the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had carte blanche. It became more blunt about the exploitation of resources, regime-change policies and its role as the eternal champion of the sacred state of Israel. Quickly, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar became the US’ best friends in the Arab world. I have called this alliance between the West, Israel and the oil-rich Gulf states an unholy alliance. It is still at play, mainly against Iran.
Since the collapse of the USSR, the US empire has tried to assert a worldwide hegemony by mainly two different approaches: support of autocratic regimes like those in the Gulf States, or pursuit of regime change policies to get rid of sovereign nations. This is what I have identified as engineering failed states: a doctrine at play in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Often, Islam soldiers of fortune — called at first freedom fighters as in Afghanistan, or the so-called Free Syrian Army — have mutated down the line into ISIS terrorists. Once the mercenaries developed independent ambitions, they served a dual purpose: firstly, as tools of proxy wars; secondly as a justification for direct military interventions by the empire and its vassals. Since the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the bottom line results have been the same: death and destruction. Tabula rasa of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with countries left in ruins, millions killed, and millions of others turned into refugees and scattered to the winds. The numbers are mind boggling in the sheer horrors they reflect. According to the remarkable non-partisan Brown University Costs of War project, since the start of the US-led so-called war on terror, post September 11, 2001, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere the direct cost in people killed has been over 801,000. So far, the financial burden for US taxpayers has been $6.4 trillion.
Does Erdogan think he can do better than Alexander the Great with Afghans?
Apparently Erdogan’s imperial ambitions reach as far as the land of the Pashtuns. The Taliban already control about 85 percent of Afghanistan. While most NATO troops have either left or are in the process of doing so, Erdogan has volunteered Turkish troops to secure Kabul’s airport. Some in the Middle-East speculate, rightly or wrongly, that Erdogan plans to send to Afghanistan some of his available Syrian mercenaries, like those he has used in Libya. Even if this is rubber stamped by regional powers like Pakistan or Iran, which it won’t be, such a direct or proxy occupation will fail. If Turkish or Syrian mercenaries, or any other foreign proxies for that matter, try to get in the way of the Taliban, they will be shredded to bits.
Does Erdogan think he is a modern day version of Alexander the Great? This is plainly laughable! The Taliban are resuming control of Afghanistan, and that is the reality. Something Afghans agree upon is that they want all occupying foreigners out. This will include Turkish and Syrian mercenaries.
Post Netanyahu Israel: more of the same for Palestinians?
For the Palestinians living either in Gaza or in the occupied territories, one element that has changed in Israel is that Netanyahu is no longer in power. It would be naive to think that the new Israeli administration will be less Zionist in its support for Jewish settlers expanding their occupation of Palestinian land, but we might see a small shift, more like a pause in Israel’s bellicose behavior.
Lebanon on the brink: opportunity for Israel to attack Hezbollah?
Despite Lebanon’s dreadful political and economic situation, Israel would be ill advised to consider any military action. Hezbollah is a formidable fighting force of 70,000 men, who have been battle hardened for almost a decade in Syria. Vis a vis Iran, a direct aggression of Israel is even less likely. With Trump gone, it seems that Israel’s hawks have missed out on that opportunity. Furthermore, it would be borderline suicidal for the Jewish state to open up many potential fronts at once against Hezbollah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad’s army. All of them would have the backing and logistic support of Iran.
Once the 2015 nuclear agreement is in force again, with the Biden administration, the tensions in the region should significantly decrease. It is probable that in the new negotiations, Iran will request that all the US economic sanctions, which were put in place by the Trump administration, be lifted.
Neocolonial imperialism: a scourge that can be defeated
One thing about US administrations that has remained constant pretty much since the end of World War II is an almost absolute continuity in foreign policy. From Bush to Obama, Obama to Trump, and now Trump to Biden, it hardly matters if the US president is a Democrat or Republican. The cornerstone of foreign policy is to maintain, and preferably increase, US hegemony by any means necessary. This assertion of US imperial domination, with help from its NATO vassals, can be blunt like it was with Trump, or more hypocritical with a pseudo humanitarian narrative as during the Obama era.
The imperatives of military and economic dominance have been at the core of US policies, and it is doubtful that this could easily change. Mohammed bin-Salman‘s war in Yemen is part of this scenario. Some naively thought MBS would be pushed aside by the Biden administration. The clout of the Saudis remained intact, however, despite the CIA report on the gruesome assassination of a Washington Post journalist in Turkey. All evidence pointed to bin-Salman, but he was not pushed aside by his father. Under Biden, MBS is still Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and de-facto autocratic ruler. The Saudis’ oil and money still have considerable influence in Washington.
The Saudis understand very well that, since the 1970s, their real geopolitical power has resided in the way they can impact global oil prices. They can still make the barrel price go up or down to serve specific geopolitical interests. For example, recently the Saudis tried to help the US regime change policy in Venezuela by flooding the global market to make oil prices crash. Saudi Arabia and its United Arab Emirates ally have used the black gold as an economic weapon countless times, and very effectively.
The great appetite of the Saudis for expensive weapons systems is another reason why they have a lot of weight in Washington and elsewhere. How can one oppose the will of a major client of the corporate merchants of death of the military-industrial complex?
History will eventually record the 20-year Afghanistan war as a defeat and perhaps the beginning of the end for the US empire that established its global dominance aspiration in 1945. People from countries like Yemen, Palestine, as well as Mali, Kashmir, and even Haiti, who are fighting against an occupation of their lands, respectively, by the imperial little helpers Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, India and the United Nations, should find hope in what is going on in Afghanistan. My News Junkie Post partner Dady Chery has explained the mechanics of it brilliantly in her book, We Have Dared to Be Free. Yes, occupiers of all stripes can be defeated! No, small sovereign nations or tribes should not despair! The 20-year US-NATO folly in Afghanistan is about to end. The real outcome is a victory of the Pashtuns-Taliban that is entirely against all odds. It is a victory against the most powerful military alliance ever assembled in history. Yemenites, Palestinians, Tuaregs, Kashmiris, Haitians and other proud people, fighting from different form of neocolonial occupations, should find inspiration from it. It can be done!
The new CEO fronting for America Inc. completed his first meeting among our Euro lapdogs – officially known as NATO – and had a more important meeting with Putin in which, according to media servants of market forces, he let him know who’s boss of the universe. Politely, of course, because even this glorified clerk understands the danger of provoking a world war which would spare few of us, if any. An unedited interview of the Russian president, available online if American authorities of freedom and democracy haven’t already removed it, clearly reveals the infantile ignorance of a network assailant posing as objective reporter and the often amused reactions of the Russian statesman and leader of a nation once hanging on the ropes under the abuse of global capital now a world power again and much of that due to his leadership. It, like so many other examples, glaringly highlights the descent of the American empire with little global power remaining but its ability to blow up earth and commit mass murder more effectively than any other nation. But it is also susceptible to almost as much horror as it might inflict on powerless nations by powerful nations now able to retaliate in kind, which we can all be thankful for since it’s the only thing stopping us from attempted greater slaughters than we already conduct which we sell as advancing the cause of peace and democracy.
While the corona virus has created a menace seemingly beyond what was already becoming obvious about the end of private profit domination of earth, it also unleashed the greatest outpouring of high, low and no IQ speculation, charges, countercharges and more surpassing past reactions at times of great crisis with moments of extreme fantasy bordering on dementia being experienced and practiced both by people of supposed expertise and higher education in the sciences to folks who may still dance under a full moon with their bodies covered in slime as a way to avoid cancer. Sadly, so far the slime-covered dancers are making about as much sense as the allegedly more critical gang.
The horrendous death toll inflicted by the virus is thought by many to be the work of a Chinese plot to exterminate everyone on earth but the Chinese and blame it on America, an American plot to exterminate everyone on earth but Americans and blame it on China, and assorted tales of twitness and omni-anti-social media to make those two sound relatively thoughtful. The fact that capitalism has transformed nature and made it far more easy to spread a lethal virus than to feed, clothe and shelter billions of people has escaped many, even some critics of capital who seem shocked that big pharma profits from illness. Hello? As does every and all other business entities and aspects of free market private profit pursuit which has less to do with evil individuals and far more to do with a corrupt debased system controlled by minorities at ever great cost to the majority. Dog food, bombs, broccoli, burgers, health food, high fashion, health care, garbage, death and every other aspect of life are all subject to market forces creating private profit at the mall, school, factory, lab, convenience store and all other venues where goods are exchanged by one and all except for those without enough market force, and they can just drop dead.
And this is only a small part of the dis-mis-cis mind attacks on the population to assure mass confusion that doesn’t notice billions the world over, and hundreds of thousands in America, unable to afford food, clothing, and shelter while a relatively tiny number increase their wealth to become the equal of gods while their subjects cringe at threats to what is called “our” democracy originating from people with little to no political economic power save to vote for candidates mostly bought, rented and leased by the richest of the rich who look down on them lined up at the polls, malls and battlefields from their wealth created mountain-top fortresses and smile at the blessings of capitalist democracy.
What’s a failing empire to do but continue failing, as in rushing to increase aid to Israel when a global majority has reacted in critical anger over its most recent abuse of the indigenous people whose land was taken on behalf of Europeans and the Palestinians were made to pay and are still paying for European atrocities? While the new American CEO leads a struggle to return to a form of social democracy that spreads a few more loans among the barely surviving and more taco-pizza-burgers to the fast food hungry while assuring that the system responsible for creating hunger is maintained and billions of American tax dollars continue to be rewarded to a colonial apartheid nation? And this while decent Americans in great numbers are enraged by the conditions of life of America’s indigenous people robbed of their land, culture and heritage long before Israel or the Middle East occupied any of the consciousness of Americans.
Like the humanitarian decency at the root of all Americans when reaching out to immigrant populations having the usual difficulties of discrimination inflicted first by their cheap labor exploiters and later by the native people whose jobs they take and at whose expense they frequently survive. Not to mention the difficulty of having to step over the bodies of Americans reduced to sleeping in the street while on our way to rescue an animal to save it from, um, having to sleep in the street. Are we confused? Does a snake have wings? Is a bluebird blue?
Of course, all of these systemic curses of inhumanity and often near madness can be written off as Russian and Chinese assault on our sacred democracy, enshrined in the constitution-bible, written by slave owners and others of the 1% who believed the common people should leave the important business of ruling to those with the most money, purchased knowledge and sanctification by those biblical gifts handed down – or up? – by an invisible force called god, or later, high finance.
The financialization of capitalism has cursed the world with worse contradictions than existed in the time of the system’s birth when Marx pointed out most of them. Now, money makes money without the production of anything but more money which may soon lead to much of humanity with indoor toilets eating bitcoins and excreting buttcoins while trying to live with junk filled oceans, overflowing sewers and forests turned to deserts while praying that nobody pushes the nuclear button. On the hopeful side, workers here and all over the world are acting up, unionizing and fighting for democracy in political economic dictatorships worshipped as democracies by Wall Street and its wholly owned subsidiary: the American government.
Time is growing short for Americans to get beyond symbolic challenges to capitalism that merely offer more profits by “branding” various movements with marketplace stature assuring that Gay Inc., Feminist Inc., Black Lives Matter Inc., and Latino-a-x Inc. do not, perish the thought, turn into American Democracy Inc. That is still to come and as always, we’d better hurry to join up with much of the world our media mind managers don’t tell us about but which is setting an example for everyone by opting for a system that puts the public good before private profit. So far, as expected, the American regime of warfare, petcare and egomaniacal behavior personified by Trump – which is why they had to get rid of him for exemplifying what the nation really is – has succeeded in keeping division, individual mental illness and group therapy uppermost in consciousness while social reality sinks more deeply into a massive sea of moral sewage.
The “memes” of an all too often me-me-me-me culture need to and will soon become a plural “we “encompassing all of us and leaving no one out. Capitalism cannot be saved but humanity must be, from the social pandemic of private profit first, humanity later, if ever. The viral brain surgery performed on our collective consciousness by our rulers is an aspect of capitalism and could not exist without market forces under minority and anti-democratic control. The sooner “we” understand that, the sooner “we” end pandemics and thought control on our way to real democracy in a collective human environment favoring the best for all and leaving no one out.
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 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.
African Americans must learn the truth about socialism that they may preserve their culture, get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease, and help America live up at least to a shadow of its vain boast as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
— W.E.B DuBois
The Message is the Truth!
He who controls the media, controls the world. And with media, that is everything — curriculum design, product manuals, white papers, legislative treatises, novels, history books, magazines, on-line, off-line, textbooks, music, film, TV, the entire ranch, including The Press.
It was early when I got into Gannett papers, Pulitzer owned papers, small town mom and pop “chains, LA Times Syndicate, and others. Chilling, really, the naivete I had as a J student in Tucson, working the Arizona Daily Wildcat and other lab papers. Seems like I thought I was a warrior for truth, and that was on occasion true, but in the end, the powers that be in big or small locales control the message because the newspaper owners and editors usually are embedded in the community: Chamber of Commerce, School Board, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and more.
There is not much freedom, and you better get the quotes right, and you better not pry too much around the edges.
No more competing newspapers in small towns. No more weeklies. No more radical and hokum papers. There are no more papers. Well, a few, but in this Zoom scroll world, and this antisocial shit storm of the social networks (sic), we have pretty threadbare conversations. Digital stories are worthless for that, getting the juices flowing. It’s all curated and personalized, these digital platforms and news aggregators; and there is just so much shit out there on the Internet the quagmire is part of the lesson plan and lessons learned — no one is right. Bullshit. Some great sources, in the digital world, but they are read by a few hundred, maybe a thousand or so. Writing rants in the comments sections, well, not sure the impact that has on anything other than ego building and endless criticism. There are a million know-it-all’s out there for every decent piece of news or feature.
But reading ain’t enough, since we need robust parsing and discourse, and exactly what it is we are asked to read and comprehend and take hook, line and sinker, as the prevailing truths of our time, or the situational truths of our day.
It is A Sickness: Shifting Baseline Disorder/Disease?
So much shifting baseline disorder, and so many truths lifting and tossed and remixed. Without education, that is, table and coffee talk, what have, it is a one-way line of communication. Even these little rants need some feedback, or better yet, discourse. Ain’t gunna happen. Here, today, on Democracy Now:
And this is something that the AP and other news organizations really need to think about. Who are we going to let work in our newsrooms? How are we going to deal with — I mean, if you have, for example, a whole generation of students who went to Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and then they come and take my journalism class at Stanford or another university, and they say, “You know what? I want to be a journalist,” and their lives live on TikTok and Instagram and all that, are all these journalists not — are these students not going to be able to be journalists now? I mean, are there not top managers in news organizations who were in anti-Vietnam protests in the ’60s, and their lives live on in Instagram?
Or is this specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Which, as you noted, the coverage is shifted the very week that Emily got caught up in this. You had the bombing of the AP bureau in Gaza. You had a very visceral reaction by the American public to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, in a way that you did not have in 2014 when 2,200 Palestinians were killed. You didn’t see this kind of reaction. You had, on the A1 of The New York Times on Sunday, a story about the brutality of life under Israeli occupation. These are all very unusual. Look on The New York Times today in terms of a letter from Gaza that really calls into question a lot of the Israeli narrative about Hamas and what’s really happening in Gaza. I mean, there’s just — there’s a major shift going on.
— Stanford journalism professor Janine Zacharia, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post
You Can’t Talk about this in Polite Company!
To distract from Gaza slaughter, Israel lobby manufactures antisemitism freakout. Grayzone.
Mark Ruffalo apologizes for posts on Israel: ‘It’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify antisemitism’
Emily Wilder’s Firing Is No Surprise: AP Has Always Been Right-Wing — Source.
On February 10, Abby Martin filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a Georgia law requiring all independent contractors to sign a pro-Israel pledge, promising to not participate or advocate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli crimes.
The death knell is talking critically about “Israel,” man. Line up those rusty three-penny nails and hammer truth away in a pine coffin. Facts don’t matter. The up is down, war is peace, lies are truth mentality and propaganda, that is on overdrive with the Zionists especially, those here, there, and in other parts of the world, like UK and Australia. Forget Canada!
Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
— Chris Hedges in his recent commentary, “Israel, the Big Lie” for ScheerPost
To Boycott or Not to Boycott?
Well, that is not the question. Really, when I was working for the University of Texas in El Paso, there was a loyalty oath to the Texas Constitution. Basically, you sign a state statute disqualifying for government employment persons who advocate the overthrow of government by force or violence or persons who were members of organizations that so advocated; the statute had been supplemented by a provision applicable to teachers calling for the drawing up of a list of organizations that advocated violent overthrow and making membership in any listed organization prima facie evidence of disqualification.
No Sign, No Job. Or, for a measly adjunct with no union (as if teacher’s unions do squat for the rank and file), you attempt to push the illogic of a loyalty oath to the state’s constitution, etc., when, in fact, much of what some teachers do IS tied to groups the prevailing neoliberal, neocon, conservative consider as dissident, adversarial, contrary to the American/Texan way, etc. That was me for much of my 18 years, on and off, in El Paso.
Of course, those corrupt and syphilitic judges pushing state loyalty oaths, and loyalty ones for apartheid and murderous Israel, they come back like this in their legal opinions: “If they do not choose to work on such terms, they are at liberty to retain their beliefs and associations and go elsewhere. Has the State thus deprived them of any right to free speech or assembly? We think not.”
A state could also deny employment based on a person’s “advocacy of overthrow” of the government by force or violence or based on unexplained membership in an organization so advocating with knowledge of the advocacy.
We already are behind the eight ball, as in these shit hole right to work (sic) states (read: anti union, anti worker rights, the right to get fired for no reason, thank you very much, mister, clean out your desk, and you have 10 minutes to leave the facility/office/warehouse/yard).
I’ve been escorted out of several workplaces with an hour’s notice, and these purveyors are wicked people, don’t let their PC and Cancel Culture and LGBTQAI+ spiels fool you.
Cancelling Your Subscription to Critical Thinking
Oh, so many ways that Tricky Shithead Force of Authority can wrangle “communist/radical/anarchist/Antifa/ ecoterrorist/antigovernment malcontent/fomenter of overthrow” out of this or that group or essay or membership into what would be now, terrorism. I was in Governor George W. Bush Country when it shifted — loyalty oath was required now of teachers, college adjuncts, what have you. “To honor, protect, defend and hold high the constitution of Texas . . . . ” El Paso may have voted straight democratic ticket, but many of the people in my circle who were artists, Chicanos, radicals outside that two-party system, but still voting for the lesser of two evils, always the democrat. Then, put in a large chunk of Latinx (mostly Mexicans and Mexican-Americans) who follow the Pope and indeed enlist in the military, well, we do have that conundrum of conservative “Hispanics.”
There really is no great place for a two-bit person — teaching hundreds of students at a time, in different schools or locations — to live. I was the Freeway Flyer, but in effect, now, before the lockdown and Zoom Rooms, 80 percent of all faculty are adjunct — just-in-time, precarious, at-will, 11th-hour, unprotected, un-benefited faculty.
That job is already fraught with landmines — bad department chairs, bad deans, asshole tenured faculty, bad unions, no unions, basic inhumane conditions in terms of teaching: no office, no health care, no nothing. That’s low wages, man — $6 an hour, $15, up to $18 (maybe).
Try being a creative teacher (I’ve written this a million times), and alas, scrutiny after scrutiny you find yourself in the public domain, even as a small fry. I was in the two newspapers all the time because I was working as a journalist, and I was not afraid of opinion pieces leveled against Empire, Powers, Administrators and the like.
Target after target are what I got plastered on my two-bit back. Hell, two-bit (no superstar teacher, shitty little articles, shitty little literary journals, shitty little everything in the eyes of the Capitalist Hierarchical Heathens) sometime feels like the world is against you, and other times, it seems as if the world could give squat what happens to you. That is the freedom, I guess — to never be noticed, read or consider an enemy of any “state.”
Above, that is, the story about Associated Press, it is no world of stopping the presses, so to speak. In terms of AP, well, a good piece over at the billionaire’s Intercept on that. Read:
“From its founding during the Mexican-American War to its reporting on Latin America today, AP’s always been quietly conservative” by Jon Schwartz.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS has received an enormous amount of criticism, including from its own staffers, for firing Emily Wilder, 22, after hiring her as a news associate just 17 days before. According to AP, Wilder was let go for “violations of AP’s social media policy.” AP’s action was clearly in response to a right-wing pressure campaign targeting Wilder for her activism in college supporting Palestinian rights.
AP’s conservatism continued for the rest of the century. Seymour Hersh, who worked for AP from 1962 to 1967, later said editors there were “timid on Vietnam” and that he could not have written his 1970 exposé of the My Lai Massacre for the wire service. In 1984, at a time of great fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan “joked” before a radio address that “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” An AP reporter filed an article on this, but editors didn’t publish it — until other news outlets ran the story. That same year, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger asked AP not to run what it knew about the launch of a military satellite. AP happily obeyed.
I worked on stories for the AP a long time ago, and had friends who were employed by the AP. Absolutely, covering Southeast Arizona, the border, the militarized border, and such, I ran into editors on the newspapers that employed me who were scared shitless because their small town owners were also scared shitless capitalists. Amazing, any balance, really, to the other side of the border repression, or the outright thuggery of the officials, well, that was chopped out. My buddies with the AP, well, mostly culled stories, or at least parsed to nothing!
No Competing Narratives Allowed!
The price you pay for arguing is no job. Loyalty oath to the Constitution of Texas? There were some of us protesting, and I think I just signed on the dotted line, Paula Abdulla, quickly and sloppily, and while I didn’t put down my real John Hancock, it still felt like a cop-out. Paula Abdulla has been a signature I have used over the years. Each one is a bit different, and I have perfected the signature to not contain any resemblance to my real signature.
The outcry, and the protests, sure, maybe they did something, and my own pathetic personal deceptive signature may have felt good, but in the end, This is Not My/Our House.
So many of my African-American brothers and sisters have repeatedly stated, as we worked in these nonprofit (poverty pimps) jobs, that when the supervisors plied their unethical, ill-mannered, rotten tools to subjugate professional social services professionals, and I railed, always, and I always got sacked, the rejoinder was from my Black brothers and sisters, “This is not your house, Paul.” Not because of my skin color, because I am white, but because of my anti-Imperial, anti-authority, and oppositional defiance to the managers’ and overlords’ consistent and corrupting misjustice, and maladjusted injustice, all of what their hierarchies create in capitalism, I criticized/criticize.
Oh, then there are the multimillionaires, the Mark Ruffalo’s of the world. Imagine, the fear of losing films, man, for making a TRUE statement about Israel as an Apartheid State and a Genocidal Fanatical Religious State.
Any number of “projects” this Ruffalo multimillionaire hawks, well, this is the stuff of his backbone — fear of losing to the Israel Lobby.
The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Bilott, along with Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman.
Now, well, many Jewish writers have stated, “Of course, Jews run Hollywood.” I’m thinking about the early 2000s. Now, Google states:
Mea Culpa, Holly-Dirt!
Of course, Oliver Stone also had to apologize —
During a Television Critic Association panel on his 10-hour television Showtime documentary A Secret History of America in January, Stone got started with this little ditty: “Hitler was an easy scapegoat.”
This weekend he amped it up a notch. The controversial director complained to the London Sunday Times of “Jewish domination of the media” and claimed that Hitler did more damage to Russia than he did to the Jews.
Stone, who is half-Jewish, told the Times: “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f—ed up United States foreign policy for years.”
While “Hitler was a Frankenstein [monster],” Stone said, “there was also a Dr. Frankenstein: German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”
Stone continued: “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million [killed].”
It is the most bizarre and conspiratorial thing of our times, no, the fact that Jews were the heads of the major Hollywood studios, yet what Stone stated was, well, wrong! And he too grovels, and apologizes for stating his opinion, or deploying his First Amendment rights.
The complex web of interactions between Hollywood and the German government in the decade before the War reveals quite a different story – one not of antifascism but of “collaboration” [“Zusammenarbeit”]. The studios agreed not to attack the Nazis in any of their productions, and in return American movies were permitted in Germany, even potentially threatening ones like King Kong. At the same time – and this was a result less of the direct arrangement between the two groups than of a much deeper shared understanding – the American studios eliminated Jewish characters from the screen entirely. For seven years, the studios put out movies that were unobjectionable and sometimes even beneficial from the Nazi standpoint, and as a result they were able to continue doing business with Germany. (Source).
—Hitler and Hollywood: The Collaboration of American Movie Studios with Nazi Germany
By Benjamin Alexander Urwand
The names Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner, and Adolph Zucker are giants in the history of contemporary Hollywood, outsiders who dared to invent their own vision of the American Dream. Even to this day, the American values defined largely by the movies of these émigrés endure in American cinema and culture. Who these men were, how they came to dominate Hollywood, and what they gained and lost in the process is the exhilarating story of An Empire of Their Own.
That is the gigantic sticky wicket, no, that we have Hollywood invented by Jews, but, well, Jews Don’t Run Hollywood. Then, there are those Jews who write about how Jews Run the Media, too — media being a plural, including books, music, film, TV, radio, marketing, what have you, including The Press.
Well, there could be some .001 percenters in the financial world, billionaire class, white men, mostly, and some are Goy and others Jewish. That’s just fact.
Jews are estimated to make up less than 1.4% of the world’s population, yet approximately 25% of the world’s billionaires. Even the Times of Israel states this:
Forbes published its 2018 roster of America’s wealthiest this week, and five members of the tribe made the top 10 list.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads the Jewish pack at number 4, with a net worth of $61 billion. He is followed by software giant Oracle’s Larry Ellison at #5 with $58.4b and Google co-founder Larry Page at #6 with $53.8b.
Fellow co-founder Sergey Brin falls a bit behind with $52.4b, leaving him at #9. Finally, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg closes out the top 10 with a respectable $51.8b.
We Can Always Rewrite a Murder Conviction into Self-Defense, those little Bastard Babies!
You can have your cake and eat it too! But no matter how you spin it, please find movies out of Hollywood or distributed or acted in by big names that might, oh, look at the rampant racism, indoctrination of, and apartheid loving Jewish man or woman, or child, in Israel. Think about that, uh, a movie script that shows one of the IDF pilots refusing to bomb Gaza. You think there might be a Netflix or Hulu series on that, how the family is not split in half, but just one son, a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, refuses to bomb Gaza. Imagine those dinner table conversations. Nah, not on Netflix.
Listen to Dan Cohen and Miko Peled talk about how indoctrinated Jews are in Israel. This is what you need to know about an entire people destroyed by agency, and free thought:
Or Norman Finkelstein —
And then the question is: Why? And I think the answer is: Because, whether one likes it or not, Benjamin Netanyahu is the true face of Israel. He’s an obnoxious, loudmouth, racist, Jewish supremacist. And that’s the whole population now. Now, I’m saying it’s in their DNA. I’m not saying it’s genetic. But it is a very sorry thing that the state of Israel has degenerated into. And that—
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s clearly not the entire population. You have so many critics. You have a peace movement there.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, no, I would say—you know, Amy, I would wish that were the case. I would wish that were the case. But if you ask the critics themselves, if you ask a Gideon Levy, you ask an Amira Hass, you ask a—
AMY GOODMAN: Who write for Haaretz.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—you ask B’Tselem, you ask—
AMY GOODMAN: The human rights group.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—Breaking the Silence, the soldiers’ group, they’ll tell you they represent nobody. They’ll tell you they don’t represent anymore. There was a period where they represented at least a factor in Israeli life. But it’s no longer true. And the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu endures, despite the succession of scandals, is a manifestation of how much that society has degenerated.
So, Gideon Levy, I think, the columnist, he made a comment the other day which I found very interesting. He said, the Israelis, they see a fellow in a wheelchair—he lost both his legs—in Gaza. He’s holding a flag. They shoot him right between the eyes, a sharpshooter. Everybody sees it on video. He says, no Israelis cared. Then another kid is killed. In this case, the second case, a kid is killed. A third is killed. Nobody cares. One thing they care about: The young girl, Ahed Tamimi, smacked an Israeli soldier. That causes hysteria. How dare a Palestinian smack an Israeli soldier? But the daily atrocities— Source.
Of course, by highlighting these statements, all of this, well, in the minds of racists, it’s antisemitism.
How much bearing witness do we go through?
Storytelling 101 — Only A Chosen Few Tell Our Stories
You think there are any dramatizations of that situation? Sure, come on, what about the Family known as, the Glosser Family:
Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.
It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.
He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweatshop toil, Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hardworking immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.
What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.
Will there be a totally interesting Netflix Original or Amazon Studies flick on that Stephen Miller dynamic family life, and the variations on a theme of how many Jews are racists, not just some Miller-Trump aberration. We can have Norman Lear with Archie Bunker and all of that in that family, but, what about the Miller-Glosser All About Apartheid series?
Many of us wonder how it is the stories of the “other people” get told through the eyes of the White American or European scriptwriter or producer or director or novelist? Come on. Look at the films and documentaries, and look at the credits and follow the money, the Ivy League, the East Coast chosen ones.
That quote from above is from Miller’s uncle’s short piece, and you never-ever see any mention of the border wall, the economic strangulation, the eye, knee, torso shooting. No mention of the apartheid state and the daily international laws of humanity broken by Israel, and the chosen people: It would be a perfect piece to broach that topic, since Miller and Trump love what Israel does to Palestine. But He doesn’t do it, Mr. Glosser.
— “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out” by David S. Glosser
Here, more of that chosen people, and their amazing PR bombs, הַסְבָּרָה
(Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.)
The Israel lobby’s latest blitz of antisemitism allegations has successfully deflected US media’s attention away from Israel’s deliberate bombing of civilian towers and extermination of entire families in Gaza, the pogroms Jewish extremists waged against Palestinians just minutes from Tel Aviv, and the ongoing police round-up of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In turn, it has cast an American Jewish community basking in almost unimaginable affluence and privilege as the true victims of the Israel-Palestine crisis, while impugning a movement agitating for the rights of a dispossessed and colonized people as bigoted criminals.
Free beer and a hot dog: Across US, incentives push to get holdouts vaccinated against COVID-19
States are getting creative with vaccine incentives. In Kentucky, you can win up to $225K
$1m in Ohio. $100 savings bonds in West Virginia. How incentives could improve the vaccination rate
Want tickets to the Super Bowl or a seven-day cruise? Get vaccinated at CVS
Some of the recipients of a Michigan marijuana dispensary’s “Pot for Shots” scheme
Oh, those were the days, uh, lifting the Black power salute in Mexico City, and, well, banned for life. May Lee Evans R.I.P.
Lee Evans, an African American sprinter who helped found the Olympic Project for Human Rights after leading protests against racism in the United States, has died in Nigeria at the age of 74. Lee Evans won two gold medals while setting world records in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
His victories came just days after John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute as the U.S. national anthem played during an awards ceremony. Carlos and Smith were suspended from the U.S. team and would later be banned for life from the Olympics for their protest in support of Black lives. Just two days later, Lee Evans wore a black beret and raised his fist in a similar protest, after winning a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.
Harry Edwards, who co-founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights, said, “Lee Evans was one of the greatest athletes and social justice advocates in an era that produced a generation of such courageous, committed and contributing athlete-activists.” (Source)
Oh, that fucking Olympics — one continuing criminal enterprise. Maybe several thousand students and others murdered, beginning in July, 1968, with the October 2, 1968 massacre, 10 days before the Olympic games were to begin in Mexico City. Police and army thugs fired on thousands of demonstrators. Hundreds were killed, thousands were beaten and jailed, and the government did its best to sweep the incident under the rug. No boycott there, uh?
Memory of Tlatelolco
by Rosario Castellanos
And who saw that brief, vivid flash of light?
Who is the one who kills?
Who are the ones who breathe their last; who die?
Who are the ones fleeing without their shoes?
Who are the ones belonging to the deep well of jails?
Who are the ones rotting in hospital?
Who are the ones struck dumb, forever, with horror?
Who? Who are the ones? Nobody. The next morning, nobody.
They found the square was swept clean. The front pages of the newspapers were full of the state of the weather. And on the television, on the radio, in the cinema, there was no change of programming, no special announcement. Not any meaningful silence in the midst of the banquet, because the banquet went on.
Don’t look for what isn’t there: traces, bodies, it’s all been given as an offering to a goddess, the Great Devourer of Excrement…
There are no official records.
Yet the fact is I can touch a wound.
In my memory it hurts, therefore it’s true.
I remember. We remember.
That’s our way of helping the very brave on so many a stained mind…
Let’s all remember until justice becomes clear among us.
Now those Tokyo Olympics, to be cancelled or not to be cancelled, because of coronavirus SARS-CoV2? Contractual law, right, and the message is Covid-19, super spreader event, those 100 yard dashes?
JULES BOYKOFF: Each time an Olympic host city gets ready to start the games, they need to sign a host city contract with the International Olympic Committee. Those contracts are extremely lopsided in favor of the International Olympic Committee, and it gives them — and only them — the power to cancel the Olympics in a case like this. So, when the prime minister of Japan states in public, under pressure from people in Japan and around the world to cancel the Olympics — when the prime minister states in public that he actually doesn’t have the power to cancel the Olympics, he’s absolutely correct.
And that’s part of a larger state of exception that comes into the Olympic city when the Olympics arrive on your doorstep. There are all sorts of special laws that are put into place, all sorts of special rules that are put into place. New technologies are secured for the Olympics. So, for example, in Tokyo, you see facial recognition systems being put in place at all Olympic venues, even though they’re known for having a racial bias. Security forces use the Olympics to get all the special weapons and funding they’d normally never be able to get during normal political times.
And so, that’s exactly what we’re seeing transpire here. The all-powerful IOC, that is really a privileged sliver of the global 1%, is exerting itself and forcing the games ahead against the will of the population. More than 80% of the people in Japan oppose hosting the Olympics this summer, and yet the IOC insists on pressing ahead.
— Boykoff, scholar and former Olympic athlete who played for the U.S. Olympic soccer team from 1989 to 1991. He has published several pieces, his latest this morning in The Washington Post, “Tokyo is learning that the only force stronger than a pandemic is the Olympics.” His guest essay in The New York Times is headlined “A Sports Event Shouldn’t Be a Superspreader. Cancel the Olympics.” He’s written four books about the Olympics, his latest headlined NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beyond.
Donuts for that jab, and what about the booster, uh? Nah, do not expect free trips on a shit-hole cruise line. Expect a letter from Uncle Sam (Big Pharma induced) that states: “Thanks for participating in the Covid-19 vaccination last year, and we now have an easy-booster program. Kiosks, with your vaccine passport in hand on that app, you go to one of these, put that app on the scanner, along with your cornea scan, and put your left or right arm (doesn’t matter) into the high tech device, and there you go, instant booster. No line, nothing, since Big Tech will be hosting these kiosks by the millions in all those zip codes and all Census tracks. Isn’t Making America Vaccinated Great Again?”
I kid you not, so No Jab, No Life. Lockdown. Permanent. Expect those wearable ankle bracelets for all unvaccinated folk. Expect those by next Xmas.
That is the shifting baseline, no? Today, on Dissident Voice (May 27) hot off the digital press:
The ease with which the German authorities implemented the new official ideology, and how fanatically it has been embraced by the majority of Germans, came as something of a shock. I had naively believed that, in light of their history, the Germans would be among the first to recognize a nascent totalitarian movement predicated on textbook Goebbelsian Big Lies (i.e., manipulated Covid “case” and “death” statistics), and would resist it en masse, or at least take a moment to question the lies their leaders were hysterically barking at them.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Here we are, over a year later, and waiters and shop clerks are “checking papers” to enforce compliance with the new official ideology. (And, yes, the “New Normal” is an official ideology. When you strip away the illusion of an apocalyptic plague, there isn’t any other description for it). Perfectly healthy, medical-masked people are lining up in the streets to be experimentally “vaccinated.” Lockdown-bankrupted shops and restaurants have been converted into walk-in “PCR-test stations.” The government is debating mandatory “vaccination” of children in kindergarten. Goon squads are arresting octogenarians for picnicking on the sidewalk without permission. And so on. At this point, I’m just sitting here waiting for the news that mass “disinfection camps” are being set up to solve the “Unvaccinated Question.”
Oh, C.J. Hopkins, I wonder if you are getting the putridity of Capitalism, mixed with the strong arm and stiff arm salute of the Corporate elite, the Group of 30 and those 199 Companies controlling human and animal and flora kind! Make that an a great One-Seven, 17: Check out journalist Abby Martin interview Peter Phillips, former director of Project Censored and professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University. His new book “Giants: The Global Power Elite” details the 17 transnational investment firms which control over $50 trillion in wealth—and how they are kept in power by their activists, facilitators and protectors.
So, donuts, ballpark trips, Super Bowl, marijuana, and alas, free cruise trips, to get the jab. Oh, wehat about all those millions who lined up for the jab who got nothing but a masked technician moving them along. Look at Portland, OR, man, of course, St. Clair laughing at any other narrative around SARS-CoV2. This Counterpuncher is, well, so so confident in his so-so wrong view of how to debate an issue. Shit!
When I arrived at the Convention Center (which Portland old-timers (ie, people who have lived here longer than five years) have long referred to as the Palais de Gaultier, because the twin glass cones outside the hulking post-modernist structure resemble the spiky bra Jean-Paul designed for Madonna during the Blonde Ambition Tour), it was clear that the vibe of the place had changed. Three weeks earlier, the cavernous building had a community atmosphere. The way stations were helmed by welcoming volunteers, the jabbing was done by retired physicians, the recovery rooms monitored by local nurses.
Now the building resembled an armed camp. Those of us about to be shot were herded into serpentine lines by burly figures in uniform and combat boots, their severe eyes scanning our faces from behind camouflaged masks. The festive spirit of April had been replaced by May’s military gloom.
The National Guard had taken over the operation and few of them looked glad to be here, as if helping to save what’s left of the Republic from a killer pandemic was beneath their calling and that they’d rather be searching the border for migrant “caravans” or making some of the last raids on peasant villages in Kandahar before the big show leaves Afghanistan.
There was something deeply unsettling about the entire scene and it flashed into my head that the Guard had taken over not for reasons of efficiency, but to instill popular fear about what a national health care system might look like if it fell into the wrong hands. The vaccination program in the US has been one of the most successful government operations in decades and one that the moneyed interests are desperate not to see replicated.
Oh, the most successful government operation in decades! Whew, C.J. Hopkins! His last posting on Counterpunch is August 2018! He starts publishing over at Off-Guardian, June 2018!
Here you go with those cruise lines, man!
Last week, the Economist asked the question in the title of its article about excessive corporate compensation – Will Shareholders Halt the Inexorable Rise of CEO Pay? Today, a clear majority of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shareholders in what is called a “say-on-pay” vote, gave a big “thumbs down” to the company’s plan to pay its CEO Frank Del Rio $36,400,000 million for 2020, according to a Miami Herald article published this afternoon.
Herald Reporter Taylor Dolven wrote “in a rare rebuke, 83% of shareholders did not approve the company’s executive compensation in a non-binding vote” today. The newspaper cited Luis Navas, an executive compensation adviser, describing the vote as “incredibly embarrassing.”
Yes, its should be embarrassing, but that assumes this cruise executive is capable of feeling shame. Even before the pandemic, CEO Del Rio was the poster child of a spoiled, overpaid cruise executive in an industry where companies incorporate in places like Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and register their cruise ships in places like (Panama) and the Bahamas (NCL) in order to avoid all U.S. income taxes and wage and labor laws.
That new new abnormal normal here ends with the dumb PR rag from one of the alma maters, Eastern Washington University. It’s called, Eastern. It is a deplorable PR rag, like all the others I have been associated with through three college degrees — University of Arizona, University of Texas and now EWU.
There is an interim president, some political science faculty named David May. He replaced some English faculty who was president for a few months, who is going back to teaching in that English Department.
Some of the stuff coming from May’s mouth is pure “I am your leader and I listen to you and I was ready to save the world, err, Cheney, WA, and even Spokane, from the deadly pandemic.”
The “article” is just out, titled, “Man of the Moment.” On page 28 of the piece, it is clear this May has the agenda in mind of the World Economic Forum and Davos and the Tech Wunderkinds. He doesn’t know it, though.
The article’s write states that May isn’t dwelling on all the storms swirling around him. He is focused on the best way to serve students of Eastern, even before Covid-19. They call it, “right-sizing,” par of an Academic Review Program coming to a college and community college and university near you. Double-speak, this “right-sizing.”
As in sizing out programs. This is about student demand and regional needs for graduates, as well as looking at program to program, department to department, budget shortfalls.
“We will continue to teach art, we will continue to teach music, we will continue to teach philosophy, we will continue to teach political science, but we have to rethink how those things fit into the overall education of the student.”
Case closed, folks. This short of shit came into play for me as a graduate student in 1983, and while the great days of undergraduate school, 1974-1979, at the University of Arizona may have put me into the mix as a report and assistent editor of the daily Wildcat, this is the way of budgets determined by the capitalists, the Military Industrial Complex’s demands. And we know the MIC is:
life sciences programs
criminal justice programs
et al (look up a typical four-year research institution’s departments and programs and show me the ones NOT making bank from that MIC?)
That is the shifting baseline for some of us who thought, naively, that there would still be scrappy and independent minded and against Empire faculty and students participating in those schools of higher education. The entire system is corrupted, and alas, now, as I receive instanteous (a day after applying) rejections from various agencies, nonprofits and government agencies, I get that middle man’s life is the destroyer of it all. They sign up for my name, Paul Haeder, Paul K. Haeder, PK Haeder, to see the dirt on me. I have some cousin I never met, who is an MD with my name, so he must get some odd out of the blue emails or such, but in the end, the schools I have envisioned are nothing in comparison to K12 or K20 or post doctoral.
The political science faculty interim president of a small college (oh, they will put money into new buildings, new stadium infrastructure, etc. — you know, priorities) may have had a great teaching career, and he can just cite how he took over the helm under those swirling storms, but alas, this is what those liberal class and dream hoarders ( Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It) and Professional Managerial Class (Source) have done.
At a time when corporate America is exploring and exploiting its new Supreme-Court-bestowed role in the management of American election results, an earlier transformation in the composition and political role of American business leadership should be recalled. This was the replacement of the Gilded Age capitalists and industrialists — audacious, rapacious and innovative, who created the post-Civil War American industrial economy — by the early 20th-century professional managers who took their place.
Liberals, largely comprised of the professional-managerial class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.
The photo was unprecedented. It showed Mansour Abbas, leader of an Islamist party for Palestinians in Israel, signing an agreement on Wednesday night to sit in a “government of change” alongside settler leader Naftali Bennett.
Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fervently try to find a way to break up the coalition in the next few days, before a parliamentary vote takes place. But if he fails, it will be the first time in the country’s 73-year history that a party led by a Palestinian citizen has joined – or been allowed to join – an Israeli government.
Aside from the symbolism of the moment, there are no other grounds for celebration. In fact, the involvement of Abbas’s four-member United Arab List in shoring up a majority for a government led by Bennett and Yair Lapid is almost certain to lead to a further deterioration in majority-minority relations.
The sole reason that this makeshift coalition exists – the only glue holding it together – is the hostility of the various parties towards Netanyahu. In most cases, that is not a hostility towards his political positions; simply towards him personally, and towards the corrupting stranglehold he has exerted on Israel’s political system for the past 12 years.
The “change” referred to by this proposed government coalition begins and ends with the removal of Netanyahu.
It barely needs stating again that Bennett, who will serve first as prime minister in rotation with Lapid, is even more right wing than Netanyahu. In fact, three of the new coalition’s main parties are at least, if not more, rabidly nationalistic than the Israel’s longtime leader. In any other circumstances, they would be enthusiastically heading into government with his Likud Party.
As Bennett and Mansour huddled inside a hotel near Tel Aviv to sign the coalition agreement as the clock ticked down on Lapid’s mandate to form a government, far-right demonstrators noisily chanted outside that Bennett was joining a “government with terror supporters”.
Much of the ultra-nationalist right is so incensed by Bennett’s actions that he and other members of his Yamina party have been assigned a security detail for fear of an assassination attempt.
No one has forgotten that it was Bennett’s own settler camp that produced Yigal Amir, the man who in 1995 shot dead the then-prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in a bid to foil the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. Amir killed Rabin in large part because the latter was seen to have betrayed the Jewish people by allowing “Arabs” – Palestinian parties in the parliament – to prop up his minority government from outside. They did so to pass legislation necessary to begin implementing the Oslo process.
The chain of events that followed the assassination are well-known. Israelis lurched further rightwards and elected Netanyahu. The Oslo track with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was derailed. A Palestinian intifada erupted. And – coming full circle – Netanyahu returned to power and is now Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Today’s potential Yigal Amirs are doubly offended by Bennett’s behaviour. They believe he has stabbed the right’s natural leader, Netanyahu, in the back, while at the same time allowing Abbas – seen by the right as Hamas’s man in the Knesset – to dictate policy to the Jewish owners of the land.
Digging in heels
It was notable that Bennett and Abbas were the last to sign the coalition agreement, after both made great play of digging in their heels at the final moment for more concessions. Each risks inflaming their own constituency by being seen to cooperate with the other.
Commentators will try to spin this agreement between a settler leader and the head of an Islamic party as a potential moment of healing after last month’s unprecedented inter-communal fighting inside Israel.
But such a reading is as misleading as the narrative of the recent “Jewish-Arab clashes”. In fact, protests by Palestinian youths against systematic discrimination escalated into confrontations only after Israeli police turned violent and let Jewish gangs take the law into their own hands. Just as the balance of power on the streets was weighted in favour of Jewish vigilantism, so the balance of forces in this new coalition will work solidly against Abbas.
When Bennett spoke publicly on Sunday, as the horse-trading began in earnest behind the scenes, he underscored his credentials as the former head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements. That will be the theme of this proposed “government of change”.
Pact with the ‘devil’
During the coalition-building negotiations, the more moderate Labor and Meretz parties conceded time and again to the demands of the far-right and settler parties on ministerial positions and policy. That is because the moderates have nowhere else to go.
They have built their whole electoral strategy on ousting Netanyahu at any cost, using the anti-Netanyahu street protests of the past two years as their rallying cry. They cannot afford to be seen as missing this opportunity.
By contrast, as the death threats highlight, Bennett has far more to lose. Some 60 percent of his party’s voters recently told pollsters they would not have backed him had they known he would join a coalition with Lapid. Equally at risk are Gideon Saar, whose New Hope party broke away from Likud to challenge Netanyahu, and Avigdor Lieberman, a settler politician whose right-wing base has found in him their local strongman.
These three must now do everything in their power during the term of this new government – if it happens – to prove to their constituencies that they are not betraying the far-right’s favourite causes, from settlements to annexation. Baiting them from the sidelines at every turn will be Netanyahu, stirring up passions on the right – at least until he is forced to step down, either by his party or by a verdict against him in his current corruption trial.
The Achilles heel Netanyahu will keep prodding as viciously as he can is the fact that his rivals on the right have made a Faustian pact with the Arab “devil”. Netanyahu has never been shy to incite against the Palestinian minority. To imagine he will restrain himself this time is fanciful.
Bennett understands the danger, which is why he tried to legitimise his dealings with Abbas on Thursday by calling him “a brave leader”. But Bennett was also keen to emphasise that Abbas would not be involved in any security matters and that he was not interested in “nationalism” – in this case, indicating that Abbas will neither offer support to Palestinians under occupation nor seek to advance national rights for Palestinian citizens of the kind Israeli Jews enjoy.
Early on Thursday, Netanyahu had decried the new coalition as “dangerous” and “left wing”. He will most likely be in the driving seat, even while in opposition. Far from healing the country, a “government of change” could rapidly provoke yet more street violence, especially if Netanyahu believes such a deterioration would weaken Bennett as prime minister.
Abbas, the United Arab List leader, reportedly held out until last before signing. His whole electoral strategy was built on a promise to end the permanent exclusion of Palestinian parties from Israel’s national politics. He will be keen to show how many benefits he can extract from his role inside government – even if most are privileges the Jewish majority has always enjoyed by right.
Abbas trumpeted that the agreement would “provide solutions for the burning issues in Arab society – planning, the housing crisis, and, of course, fighting violence and organised crime”. He has reportedly secured some $16bn in extra budgets for development and infrastructure, and three of the many Bedouin villages the state has long refused to recognise will be given legal status.
Abbas is also pushing for the repeal of a 2017 law that makes tens of thousands of homes in Palestinian communities inside Israel vulnerable to demolition.
One of his fellow legislators, Walid Taha, observed of the United Arab List’s new role: “For decades, Arab Israelis [Palestinian citizens] have been without any influence. Now, everyone knows that we’re the deciding votes as far as politics goes.”
Abbas has every incentive to use such claims as a whip to beat his rivals in the Joint List, a coalition of several other Palestinian parties that are staying in opposition. He needs to emphasise his role in bringing about change to make them look weak and irrelevant.
Hostility and disdain
But despite the promises that lured Abbas into the new government, he will face a rough ride getting any of them translated into tangible changes on the ground.
Lapid will be busy as foreign minister, selling this as a new era in Israeli politics. Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, the current defence minister who just oversaw the destruction yet again of Gaza, will offer continuity.
Back home, the key internal ministries will be held by the far-right. Lieberman will control the purse strings through the finance ministry, directing funds to settlements before Palestinian communities inside Israel. Bennett’s partner, Ayelet Shaked, will be interior minister, meaning the settlements in the occupied West Bank will be treated as more integral to Israel than the communities of Palestinian citizens. And Saar will be justice minister, helping to drive the legal system even further to the right.
Faced with this bloc, all of them keen to be seen as upholding the values of the right, Abbas will struggle to make any progress. And that is without considering the situation he will find himself in if Bennett pushes for annexation of the West Bank, or authorises another police invasion of al-Aqsa, or oversees the expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, or launches a fresh attack on Gaza.
Abbas put the coalition negotiations on pause during Israel’s assault on Gaza last month. He won’t be able to do the same from inside the government. He will be directly implicated.
As a result, Palestinian citizens are likely to end up growing even more disillusioned with a political system that has always treated them with a mix of hostility and disdain. They will finally have representatives inside government, but will continue to be very much outside of it. The triggers for the protests that erupted among young Palestinians in Israel last month are not going away.
The most likely scenario over the coming months is that Netanyahu and Bennett will engage in a furious competition for who deserves the title of champion of the right. Netanyahu will seek to break apart the coalition as quickly as possible by inciting against Abbas and the Palestinian minority, so he has another shot at power. In turn, Bennett will try to pressure Likud to abandon Netanyahu so that Bennett can collapse the “government of change” as quickly as possible and rejoin a large majority, far-right government with Likud.
Rifts will not be healed; coexistence will not be revived. But the preeminence of the ultra-nationalist right – with or without Netanyahu – will be restored.
The ceasefire on May 21 has, for now, brought the Israeli war on Gaza to an end. However, this ceasefire is not permanent and constant Israeli provocations anywhere in Palestine could reignite the bloody cycle all over again. Moreover, the Israeli siege on Gaza remains in place, as well as the Israeli military occupation and the rooted system of apartheid that exists all over Palestine.
This, however, does not preclude the fact that the 11-day Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip has fundamentally altered some elements about Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, especially the Palestinian Resistance, in all of its manifestations.
Let us examine the main actors in the latest confrontation and briefly discuss the impact of the Israeli war and the determined Palestinian resistance on their respective positions.
“Mowing the Grass’ No More
‘Mowing the grass’ is an Israeli term used with reference to the habitual Israeli attacks and war on besieged Gaza, aimed at delineating the need for Israel to routinely eradicate or degrade the capabilities of the various Palestinian resistance groups on the street.
‘Mowing the grass’ also has political benefits, as it often neatly fit into Israel’s political agendas – for example, the need to distract from one political crisis or another in Israel or to solidify Israeli society around its leadership.
May 2021 will be remembered as the time that ‘mowing the grass’ can no longer be easily invoked as a military and political strategy by the Israeli government, as the Gaza resistance and the popular rebellion that was ignited throughout all of Palestine has raised the price by several-fold that Israel paid for its violent provocations.
While Israeli military and political strategists want to convince us, and themselves, that their relationship with Gaza and the Palestinian Resistance has not changed, it actually has and, arguably, irreversibly so.
The Altered Equation
The Palestinian fight for freedom has also been fundamentally altered, not only because of the unprecedented resilience of Palestinian resistance, but the unity of the Palestinian people, and the rise of a post-Oslo/peace process Palestinian nation that is united around a new popular discourse, one which does not differentiate between Palestinians in Jerusalem, Gaza, or anywhere else.
Palestinian unity around resistance, not peace process, is placing Israel in a new kind of quandary. For the first time in its history, Israel cannot win the war on the Palestinians. Neither can it lose the war, because conceding essentially means that Israel is ready to offer compromises – end its occupation, dismantle apartheid, and so on. This is why Israel opted for a one-sided ceasefire. Though humiliating, it preferred over-reaching a negotiated agreement, thus sending a message that the Palestinian Resistance works.
Still, the May war demonstrated that Israel is no longer the only party that sets the rules of the game. Palestinians are finally able to make an impact and force Israel to abandon its illusions that Palestinians are passive victims and that resistance is futile.
Equally important, we can no longer discuss popular resistance and armed resistance as if they are two separate notions or strategies. It would have been impossible for the armed resistance to be sustained, especially under the shocking amount of Israeli firepower, without the support of Palestinians at every level of society and regardless of their political and ideological differences.
Facing a single enemy that did not differentiate between civilians and fighters, between a Hamas or a Fatah supporter, the Palestinian people throughout Palestine moved past all of their political divisions and factional squabbles. Palestinian youth coined new terminologies, ones that were centered around resistance, liberation, solidarity and so on. This shift in the popular discourse will have important consequences that have the potential of cementing Palestinian unity for many years to come.
Israel’s Allies Not Ready to Change
The popular revolt in Palestine has taken many by surprise, including Israel’s allies. Historically, Israel’s Western supporters have proven to be morally bankrupt, but the latest war has proved them to be politically bankrupt as well.
Throughout the war, Washington and other Western capitals parroted the same old line about Israel’s right to defend itself, Israel’s security and the need to return to the negotiation table. This is an archaic and useless position because it did not add anything new to the old, empty discourse. If anything, it merely demonstrates their inability to evolve politically and to match the dramatic changes underway in occupied Palestine.
Needless to say, the new US Administration of Joe Biden, in particular, has missed a crucial opportunity to prove that it was different from that of the previous Donald Trump Administration. Despite, at times, guarded language and a few nuances, Biden behaved precisely as Trump would have if he was still President.
What ‘Palestinian leadership’?
The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and his circle of supporters represent a bygone era. While they are happy to claim a large share of whatever international financial support that could pour in to rebuild Gaza, they do not represent any political trend in Palestine at the moment.
Abbas’s decision to cancel Palestine’s elections scheduled for May and July left him more isolated. Palestinians are ready to look past him; in fact, they already have. This so-called leadership will not be able to galvanize upon this historic moment built on Palestinian unity and resistance.
The Palestinian Authority is corrupt and dispensable. Worse, it is an obstacle in the way of Palestinian freedom. Palestine needs a leadership that represents all Palestinian people everywhere, one that is truly capable of leading the people as they attempt to chart a clear path to their coveted freedom.
Expanding the Circle of Solidarity
The incredible amount of global solidarity which made headline news all over the world was a clear indication that the many years of preparedness at a grassroots level have paid off. Aside from the numerous expressions of solidarity, one particular aspect deserves further analysis: the geographic diversity of this solidarity which is no longer confined to a few cities in a few countries.
Pro-Palestine solidarity protests, vigils, conferences, webinars, art, music, poetry and many more such expressions were manifest from Kenya to South Africa, to Pakistan to the UK and dozens of countries around the world. The demographics, too, have changed, with minorities and people of color either leading or taking center stage of many of these protests, a phenomenon indicative of the rising intersectionality between Palestinians and numerous oppressed groups around the globe.
A critical fight ahead for Palestinians is the fight of delegitimizing and exposing Israeli colonialism, racism and apartheid. This fight can be won at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), UNESCO and numerous international and regional organizations, in addition to the countless civil society groups and community centers the world over.
For this to happen, every voice matters, every vote counts, from India to Brazil, from Portugal to South Africa, from China to New Zealand, and so on. Israel understands this perfectly, thus the global charm offensive that right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been leading for years. It is essential that we, too, understand this, and reach out to each UN member as part of a larger strategy to deservingly isolate Israel for ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity.