Archive | January 3rd, 2020

Saudi Oil Attack and Choreographed Protest in Iran-aligned Countries

By VT Editors 

By Nauman Sadiq for VT Islamabad

Since the planting of limpet mines on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE in May, the subsequent downing of the US surveillance drone in the Persian Gulf and the brazen attack on the Abqaiq petroleum facility and the Khurais oil field in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on September 14, choreographed protests have erupted in Lebanon and Iraq since October.

Lebanese American journalist Rania Khalek has documented for The Gray Zone [1] the US-backed political forces are spearheading the “color revolution” in Lebanon, where Iran-backed resistance group Hezbollah is part of the coalition government.

Similarly, Iraq has been through the US occupation from 2003 to 2011 and is known to have US sympathizers in the Kurdish-held north and the Shi’ite-majority south of the country, where the US oil majors operate and dispense largesse among local chieftains of myriad clans and fraternities.

Unlike Lebanon and Iraq, though, Iran itself is immune to foreign-backed political demonstrations as it does not have any imperialist collaborators on the ground, besides a fringe militant group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) funded by the US, France and Israel.

The proximate cause of the November 15 protests in Iran was steep rise in petrol prices by the Rouhani government, dubbed as “sabotage” by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The worst-hit region was Khuzestan province in southwest Iran which is home to large Sunni Arab minority known to have grievances against Tehran and susceptible to infiltration by imperialist stooges.

Regarding the recent escalation in the Persian Gulf, although the Houthi rebels based in Yemen claimed the responsibility for the September 14 complex attack involving drones and cruise missiles on the Abqaiq petroleum facility and the Khurais oil field in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and they have UAV-X drones having a range of 1,500 kilometers, Washington dismissed the possibility.

Instead, the United States accused Tehran of mounting the attack from Iran’s territory, which is unlikely because Iran would never leave behind smoking gun evidence implicating Tehran, as the strategically vital Persian Gulf is monitored round the clock by American satellites and surveillance aircraft. The most likely suspects were Iran-backed militias in Iraq because the complex attack involving drones and cruise missiles was staged from the north.

Quoting Iraqi intelligence officials, David Hearst reported [2] for the Middle East Eye a day after the September 14 attack that drones and missiles were launched by the Hashed al-Shabi militia from its bases in southern Iraq.

Although Washington concocted “credible intelligence” the attack was mounted directly from southwest Iran, what lends credence to the report the attack was staged from southern Iraq is the fact that several eye witnesses reported seeing drones traversing the Kuwaiti airspace, entering from north and hitting targets south in eastern Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, in the weeks preceding the attack, Washington had accused the Hashed al-Shabi militia of mounting another attack in eastern Saudi Arabia claimed by the Houthi rebels because the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is nearer the Iraq border than it is to the Houthi stronghold in Saada, Yemen.

Furthermore, in the weeks before the attack, the Iran-backed militias blamed [3] the US and Israel in August for mounting airstrikes on their bases in Iraq targeting the missile storage facilities. The missiles were recently provided to the militias by Iran. It’s worth noting that 5,000 American troops and numerous aircraft are still deployed in Iraq, therefore the likely culprit targeting the Iran-backed militias in Iraq was the United States, not Israel.

Taking cover of the Israeli airstrikes, Washington has conducted several airstrikes of its own on targets in Syria and Iraq and blamed them on Israel, which frequently mounts air and missile strikes against Iranian operatives and Hezbollah militia in Syria and Lebanon, though Israel has never conducted an airstrike in Iraq because for that Israeli aircraft would have to violate Jordanian airspace.

Besides the airstrikes on the missile storage facilities of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, it is suspected that the US air force was also behind a recent airstrike at the newly built Imam Ali military base in eastern Syria at al-Bukamal-Qaim border crossing alleged to be hosting the Iranian Quds Force operatives.

In addition to planting limpet mines on the UAE’s oil tankers and shooting down the American Global Hawk surveillance drone, the September 14 attack on the Abqaiq petroleum facility and the Khurais oil field was the third major attack in the Persian Gulf against the interests of Washington and its regional clients.

That the UAE had forewarning about imminent attacks is proved by the fact that weeks before the attacks, it recalled forces from Yemen battling the Houthi rebels and redeployed them to man the UAE’s territorial borders.

Nevertheless, a puerile prank like planting limpet mines on oil tankers can be overlooked but major provocations like downing a $200-million surveillance aircraft and mounting a drone and missile attack on the Abqaiq petroleum facility that crippled its oil-processing functions for weeks can have serious repercussions.

The September 14 attack on the Abqaiq petroleum facility in eastern Saudi Arabia was an apocalypse for the global oil industry because it processes five million barrels crude oil per day, more than half of Saudi Arabia’s total oil production.

The subversive attack sent jitters across the global markets and the oil price surged 20%, the biggest spike witnessed in three decades since the First Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, though the oil price was eased within days after industrialized nations released their strategic oil reserves.

In order to bring home the significance of the Persian Gulf’s oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production is 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq each has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day each; while UAE and Kuwait each has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold 788 billion barrels, more than half of world’s 1477 billion barrels proven oil reserves.

Not surprisingly, 35,000 American troops have currently been deployed in the military bases and aircraft carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine of 1980, which states: “Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

It bears mentioning that alongside deploying several thousand American troops, additional aircraft squadrons and Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Abqaiq attack, several interventionist hawks in Washington invoked the Carter Doctrine as a ground for mounting retaliatory strikes against Iran.

The only saving grace of Iran is its military strength, geostrategic location in the Persian Gulf and the rhetoric of resistance against American imperialism appealing to the grassroots sentiments of the Middle East’s masses, who stand firmly united behind the revolutionary government, nevertheless Tehran has prudently avoided further escalating the conflict with Washington’s client regimes in the region following the choreographed demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq since October.

Footnotes:

[1] US-backed parties have infiltrated Lebanon’s protests:

[2] Iranian drones launched from Iraq carried out attacks on Saudi oil plants:

[3] Iranian-backed militia blames US and Israel for attacks on bases in Iraq:

Posted in Iran, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Saudi Oil Attack and Choreographed Protest in Iran-aligned Countries

10 Good Things About 2019

by MEDEA BENJAMIN

Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It’s hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.

1. In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as “the squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley—have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.

2. The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation’s horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation’s ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

3. 2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they’ve created. Greta’s school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.

4. While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028; and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.

5. In more environmental news, the European Union banned single-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.

6. While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alter its tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.

7. For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people’s power. There were advances and setbacks, but it’s clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they’re resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they’re transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.

8. In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

9. In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. “The victims have the right to truth, justice and reparations under international law,” say the protesters.

10. While Trump didn’t fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn’t start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn’t always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don’t want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a miniscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his warhawks. And let’s remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest warhawk of all, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.

Posted in USA, WorldComments Off on 10 Good Things About 2019

Happy New Year, Riyadh!

by CHARLES PIERSON

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

’Tis the season for giving. Accordingly, the US has given the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a gift in the form of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which President Donald Trump signed into law on December 21.

The NDAA is not only a gift to the Saudis. The $738 billion in new defense spending the NDAA authorizes means a very Merry Christmas for the Pentagon and for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and the like. The NDAA’s creation of a sixth branch of the armed forces, the Space Force, also guarantees a huge market for military contractors’ high-tech toys.

President Trump had Merry Christmas, too. Trump tweeted: “Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA.” Trump couldn’t be happier if he found a pony—or a porn star—under his tree.

Progressives got coal in their stockings. Several urgently needed antiwar amendments which the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives had inserted in its version of the NDAA were thrown out during the reconciliation process. The House amendments would have ended US assistance to the Saudi-UAE coalition attacking Yemen; ended arms sales to the Saudis; required Congress’ assent to a US attack on Iran; and would have revoked the by now long in the tooth 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force which the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations have stretched far beyond their original purposes to make war anywhere they choose.[1]

Tossing out the amendments means Congress and the President have given the Saudis gifts of incalculable value. The US will continue to provide arms to the Saudis and assist Saudi aggression in Yemen. And Trump can start a war with the Saudis’ hated rival Iran at any time without having to bother with Congress.

Denouncing the NDAA’s “astonishing moral cowardice,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) urged “every member of Congress” to vote against the NDAA. Fat chance. Only 48 members of the House and 8 senators voted against the NDAA. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a co-author of the axed Khanna-Smith-Schiff-Jayapal amendment which would have terminated US involvement in Yemen, went off his head entirely and praised the NDAA as “the most progressive defense bill in the history of the country.”

Trump’s Gifts to the Saudis

Under Trump, what Riyadh wants, Riyadh gets. The president remains slavishly loyal to the Saudis and, in particular, to the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Trump’s man crush on bin Salman continued unabated even after the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Washington Post columnist who the Saudis murdered and then carved up with a bone saw in their consulate in Istanbul.

President Trump did grudgingly issue economic sanctions against 17 Saudis alleged to have been involved in the murder. Not against the kingdom itself, you understand, and certainly not against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Measures with real bite, such as an arms embargo on the Saudis, were rejected. So was the so-called No Nuclear Weapons for Saudi Arabia Act of 2018. The Trump Administration has been trying to negotiate a sale of two nuclear reactors to the Saudis, because apparently just giving the Saudis a nuclear bomb might raise eyebrows. The Act would not have barred the prospective sale, but would have hemmed it in with safeguards which the Saudis have been resisting. The Act expired without being voted on and has not been reintroduced.

Hail, Caesar!

The slap on Bin Salman’s wrist contrasts jarringly with US treatment of another international outlaw: Syria. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act became law on December 21 as part of the NDAA. Named after a pseudonymous Syrian military photographer who defected to the West, bringing with him 55,000 photographs of Syrians tortured and murdered by the ‘criminal regime of President Bashar al-Assad’, the Act ramps up economic sanctions on Syria, Iran, and Russia, each of which has contributed to the 110,000 to 220,000 civilian deaths during the Syrian Civil War.

Economic sanctions are problematic for the left. Too often, sanctions inflict suffering on ordinary citizens rather than their leaders. They are a weapon used by large, powerful states like the US against smaller, weaker states. Sanctions may not even work. Despite being buried under US sanctions, Iran has not abandoned its nuclear weapons program, probably because Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Sanctions are often promoted as an alternative to war, but in the case of Iran the purpose of US sanctions seems to be to soften up Iran for the kill.

Still, if anyone deserves sanctions—and I emphasize if—Assad, Iran, and Russia do. But what about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Does anyone else sniff a little bit of hypocrisy here? Saudi Arabia is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world. The US overlooks Saudi crimes because of oil and US arms sales. But even if morality weren’t a concern (as, in statecraft, it almost never is), there is less reason than formerly to coddle the Saudis. The US imports less and less Saudi oil each year as US production of shale oil climbs. The US is on track to become a net exporter of oil. The Devil’s bargain the US struck in the 1945 Quincy Agreement, in which the US would provide Saudi Arabia with protection in exchange for Saudi oil, may been justifiable in the past. It isn’t anymore. The US no longer needs the Saudis. It’s time for the US to back away from one of the most hateful nations on the planet.

  1. Running interference for the White House with the conference committee was the president’s son-in-law and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner was instrumental in ensuring that the final NDAA would continue US assistance to the Saudi-UAE coalition in Yemen. 

Posted in Middle East, USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Happy New Year, Riyadh!

Arrests and warning against the commemoration of the start of “Fatah” in Jerusalem

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Nazi Occupied Jerusalem: The occupation police arrested, today, Wednesday, three cadres of the “Fatah” movement in the city of Jerusalem, on the anniversary of the launch of the 55th Palestinian revolution.

According to local sources, the Nazi occupation forces arrested at dawn today the secretary of the “Fatah” movement in Issawiya (northeast of Jerusalem) Yasser Darwish, and also arrested a member of the movement’s district, Awad Al Salaymeh, from the town of Beit Hanina (north).

She added that the police forces arrested the secretary of the “Fatah” movement in Jerusalem, Shadi Matour, from his home in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in the city.

The detainees were taken for interrogation at Nazi Gestapo occupation police station in the city, where the Nazi occupation police warned against holding any activities to commemorate the launching ceremony in Jerusalem.

These arrests coincide with the celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of the movement, when Palestinian activists suspended the Palestinian flag on the historic wall of Jerusalem.

Elements of the Nazi police attended and removed the flag, as well as the Palestinian flags and national flags that had been installed in the town of Al-Tur, east of Jerusalem. 

It is noteworthy that the Nazi occupation forces arrested at dawn today at least nine Palestinians from the occupied West Bank after their homes were raided and searched, and they were taken for investigations. 

During the past year, the occupation authorities prevented the holding of several social, national and sports activities in the occupied city of Jerusalem, on the pretext that it was funded by the Palestinian National Authority.

Palestinian factions congratulate Fatah on the anniversary of the launch

A Palestinian refused to “escalate the Nazi occupation piracy”

A father kills his son and then commits suicide in Irbid

Nazi Bennett issues a decision to confiscate the families of 32 families held by the Nazi occupied interior

Birzeit Crisis Management: We give management 72 hours to fulfill our demands

She tried to rid her child of arrest. The Israeli soldiers broke a Palestinian skull in Al-Issawiya

“The Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet’ penetration” … when the martyr Hammad, the officer Usher, was humiliated.

The student, Mais Abu Ghosh, was arrested and beaten for long days

A child was killed by her father’s wife in a shocking manner

Jihad and Fatah comment on the investigations of the assassination of Abu al-Atta .. What did they say?

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“The Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet’ penetration” … when the martyr Hammad, the officer Usher, was humiliated.

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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A blind military plane bombs mercilessly, and a raven black revelation revealed to the brute army the sanctuary of the penetrator of the Nazi Gestapo ‘Shabak’ Mutasim Hammad, two rakats to God during the bombing, he rode his rifle and grew up, clashed and resisted. This unmatched fragrance curses.

On the morning of 26/1/1974 Mu’tasim Mahmoud Abdullah Makhlouf was born in the town of Anabta, east of Tulkarm, he studied in his town and among her children in the school of Abdul Rahim Mahmoud until the first secondary stage, and he was known at that time for his scientific excellence to obtain certificates of appreciation in all grades, even He joined the ranks of the resistance during the uprising of the stones, and he is fifteen years old, accompanied by a group of his generation until he was arrested during the high school stage.

Positions of memory

The brother of the martyr and the liberated prisoner, Zakaria Makhlouf, says that Mu’tasim was aware of the coming of the occupation to arrest him like his comrades in confronting and defending the Palestinian land. “Once upon a time, the Nazi occupation came to our old house. Mu’tasim removed my mother and took the peace and put it on the roof, and at that time the army had cordoned off The area, and we thought that Mu’tasim had escaped despite the large number of Nazi soldiers, and after the soldiers left, Mu’tasim came and had hidden in the solarium on the roof of the house, and the Nazi soldiers next to him did not notice him, but he was arrested shortly after. “

On the period of Mu’tasim’s detention, his sister, Khawla, says, “At the secondary school stage, Mu’tasim was arrested first while he was in school because he went to help female students whose Nazi occupation was closed by the school, to perform high school exams in prison, and he got a good rate, and he was released, and after that He moved to university studies at Al-Quds Open University to study business administration.

Khoula continued, that in 1990 the martyr Mu’tasim decided to make his way in the revolution, so he participated in a military parade in the village of Ramin and was wounded by his foot during the parade, and he was transferred to Rafidia Hospital and treated there and the occupation forces were unable to arrest him and he was chased.

Zakaria says that as soon as Mu’tasim recovered, he quickly returned to the resistance. One day, when they were in school, they heard the young men say Mu’tasim Makhlouf was killed during confrontations with the occupation, but it turned out that he was injured and he did not die.

Zakaria continues, “Mu’tasim stayed 21 days in the Yakhloof Hospital, and he left the hospital and we were shocked at how he got out and wanted, but he had been able to visit the identity of his name in it (Abdel Aziz) and put it in his pocket and took this name out of the hospital, while we were at the breakfast table in a month Ramadan, a young man named Muhammad Shafiq Qabaj gave us: “Mu’tasim is in our house now, and he is safe.”

The Nazi occupation increased its madness and hatred when they knew this, and their state of affairs says it was in our hands and we did not know!

The second arrest

On 6/21/1991, a special Nazi forces with a Subaru car entered the town to hunt Mutasim, until she obtained her search and arrested Mu’tasem to stay in the cells of the investigation for 40 days, and they used the worst forms of torture with him, such as electrocution, plucking and the ghost, and sentenced to life imprisonment and fifteen years.

On 5/1/1996 the mother of Mu’tasim went to the memorial of the martyr Yahya Ayyash in Nablus, and then a person came and said Mu’tasim would be released in the Oslo agreement deal, and after a few hours already he was at home, and when his mother arrived in Morocco, she fell to the ground of joy, before To hug, embrace and accept herself.

Unforgettable situations

And Zakaria tells about one of the situations that he will not forget yet. “One day my mother was in the hospital and Mu’tasim came to me and asked me to prepare dinner, and while preparing the dinner I heard the sound of an explosion at home, so I went out of the kitchen quickly until I found Mu’tasim on the stairs running, and I was stunned by the scene as In front of me, Moatasem appeared in his blood, then he said only a few words, take me to the doctor and open all the gas cylinders, and was determined not to go to the hospital, everyone asked about the reason and what happened and we say the gas cylinders exploded, and the doctor advised us to go immediately to the hospital but Moatasem insisted on not going, and I wondered why? !

We were surprised that Mu’tasim, during his absence, mastered the manufacture of explosives and became an engineer in them, but during the manufacturing process on that day, he made a mistake. Instead of placing his cell phone at the point of shipment, he placed the booby-trapped device.

 Zakaria describes the house of Mutasim, which is a few meters away from the main family home, in the minefield, as it was not without a corner except that it found a detonating device or an explosive device.

The house was demolished

On the tale of demolishing the house, Zakaria says, “In the year 2001 I was sitting on the balcony looking at the street and it was full of occupation soldiers, I said to my brother Osama I do not want to stay here, the house is filled with weapons and explosives and if we stay here we will be sentenced to life, we took the ladder and left from the surface I And my brother, but the soldiers realized us, and opened heavy bullets at us, until I heard my brother Osama suffer and found that he was shot in the head, I pulled Osama until we got to the neighbors house, and because of the sound the Palestinian police station came out thinking that there was a problem that happened, 4 of them were martyred After that.

In the morning, the area was searched and they took me. As for Osama, we hidden him under the bed, so he asked me about my name, and I answered him Zakaria Hammad, Mu’tasim’s brother. He said: This is your house.

Immediately upon the arrival of an intelligence officer, we asked about the presence of something in the house, so we decided to demolish it, we told him to demolish it, but he said: I want a house in Mu’tasim, which is the upper part of the house, so he placed dynamite and detonated it, it was a tremendous and chilling sight.

Khawla’s sister, Khawla, said, “My mother did not want to leave the house, so they brought her dogs, and the house exploded, and while everyone was crying, Umm Al-Mu’tasim said:” Oh, loss, they went out of the oils, “which made us forget the pain, my mother was strong and did not fear the army. And she adds that the explosive material that Mu’tasim made was called Umm al-Abd, according to his mother.

The Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet

 The challenge between Mu’tasim and the Nazi Gestapo intelligence officer “Usher”, which Mu’tasim considered a match, increased. One day, an explosion occurred at the Al-Taibeh and Al-Shahaddi checkpoint from the town of Anabta named Murad Abu Asal. The official in charge of the operation, Engineer Mu’tasim Hammad, is my brother, the number one wanted by the Mossad. And, he adds, “The martyr Murad was reporting all the Mossad news to Mu’tasim on the pretext that he was working with the occupation, but it was quite the opposite, and the last news that Mu’tasim had from Murad was that the occupation wanted to eliminate it.”

“After the operation, the intelligence officer came to the family’s house and said: I salute the greeting of Mu’tasim’s mother, and he asked her, Do you know what your son did today? She answered no, so he answered plans for a sabotage operation in which two intelligence officers were killed, and the response of the servant’s mother came, so he might take off your eyes. I handed him over to my Lord, and I gave him to my first girlfriend, Palestine. “

The life of a chaser

Khawla smiles and looks at Mu’tasim’s picture that she put in the room. She tells: Mu’tasim called me, “I’m on my way to you, but prepare the mush. Can you?” I said to him, “I will prepare it quickly, it came to me at noon, and without any planning my father came at the same time, and during their discussion about submitting Mu’tasim himself to the suggestion of the father, Mu’tasim repudiated you saying this, Dad!” I want martyrdom, martyrdom only, and I kissed my mother looking at Mu’tasim’s face.

The mother says to her son, Isn’t it time for me to rejoice in you, my son, Moatassim replied with a smile? You will offer me a big wedding about his mother’s relative. Indeed, the wedding was only two days later.

Certificate

On the thirteenth of March of the year 2002, and at about three o’clock in the evening, an explosion occurred in the western Sahel region, an intense flight of aircraft, an armed clash taking place in the place, the pace of news and climate accelerated. It was well prepared for any novel, Mu’tasim Shahid? Not apparently Maher al-Bilbisi, but Rami al-Mulhim, was one of them likely injured or not? Anabta is on fire, horrific scenes and lead melodies sound all over. The operation is over and the occupation forces have withdrawn. Three cases have reached the Palestinian Red Crescent building in Anabta. Maher, Rami and the penetrator, engineer Moatasem Hammad, what happened, Rami? 

Maher is a friend of Mutasim and a companion who was trained as a martyr in the aftermath of the direct missile strike. Mutasim was at the time praying his last kneeling to his Lord, coinciding with the end of his prayers. The bombing started, he took up his weapon and clashed, and he was hit directly by the head once and two and three. With the phrase “gift Usher to Mutasim”.

The mother of the slave, the mother of the martyr Mu’tasim, was unable to believe the news and rejected it completely, and when she confirmed herself, she refused to cry, and on the contrary she sang to her son and competed: “He spilled his eyes and extended his hands to curse him”. I grew up and praised God and fired bullets in the air during the funeral. He wore his suit and required people to bless his son Mu’tasim’s testimony instead of comforting him.OccupationIntifada

Palestine 2019..a new government, striking Tel Aviv, Naziyahu’s escape and the election controversy

A year has passed and a year has passed … Jerusalem is telling its pain

It was a year full of?

Bennett issues a decision to confiscate the families of 32 families held by the occupied interior

Birzeit Crisis Management: We give management 72 hours to fulfill our demands

She tried to rid her child of arrest. The Nazi soldiers broke a Palestinian skull in Al-Issawiya

“The Nazi Gestapo ‘Shin Bet’ penetration” … when the martyr Hammad, the officer Usher, was humiliated.

The student, Mais Abu Ghosh, was arrested and beaten by Nazi Gestapo for long days

A child was killed by her father’s wife in a shocking manner

Jihad and Fatah comment on the investigations of the assassination of Abu al-Atta .. What did they say?

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The Nazi occupation strikes and arrests a number of worshipers from Al-Aqsa Mosque

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Nazi Occupied Jerusalem: A number of worshipers were injured, Thursday evening, as a result of aggression by the Nazi occupation forces, while they were in the vicinity of the Bab Al-Rahma chapel, in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to eyewitnesses, the Nazi soldiers assaulted the worshipers, and sprayed them with pepper gas, before they arrested the two young men, Muhammad Al-Shawish and Abdullah Al-Bizra.

For its part, local sources said to the “Quds Network” that the Nazi occupation police, located in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, prevented food from entering as it was every Thursday, where fasting worshipers were eating breakfast, and the Nazi police and its soldiers deployed imposed strict measures on movement.

Popular: We will use all options to save the captive Zahran

A boy was shot by the Nazi occupation forces in Bethlehem

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Nazi Bennett issues a decision to confiscate the families of 32 families held by the Nazi Gestapo

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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The Minister of War in the Nazi Occupation Government, Nazi “Naftali Bennett”, announced that he issued a decision this evening to impose funds on the families of (32) Palestinian prisoners from the occupied interior.

And Nazi “Bennett” claimed that the families of the prisoners have received salaries from the Palestinian Authority over the past years.

The decision of the Nazi Minister of War, Naftali Bennett, came about a week after another decision to seize and confiscate the salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority to eight prisoners from the occupied Palestinian interior.# Occupation# prisoners

The Hebrew media: Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ sent a message to Naziyahu, warning of the explosion of the situation

To end UNRWA schools, the Nazi occupation plans to set up an educational complex in East Jerusalem

Nazi settlers in Nazi occupied Palestine do not feel secure even after the assassination of Abu Al-Atta

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Labour’s Patriotism Test

by: KENNETH SURIN

Photograph Source: August Brill – CC BY 2.0

In the recent UK general election the winning Conservatives managed to convince voters nostalgic for the days of Empire that the repeated slogan “Get Brexit Done” was somehow the guarantee of a “Rule Britannia” resurgence of patriotism.

In addition to “Get Brexit Done”, the Tories had “Take Back Control” as their other election slogan.

Both slogans were of course pure nonsense.

BoJo Johnson, born in New York, was an American citizen until the US tax authorities started to take a prosecutorial interest in his tax-dodging ways last year, and this course of action ensued in an overnight relinquishment of BoJo’s US citizenship.

BoJo can now pose, more or less successfully, as a full-blown “patriot” and Ukanian exceptionalist.

So: no more divided loyalties for BoJo, though he and Trump continue to conduct sporadic “love-ins” for the benefit of a pliant rightwing media in the UK.

The US media, understandably, couldn’t give a rat’s arse about a future trade deal concocted between the two posturing leaders of their respective countries.

Given the vast trade imbalance between them, commerce between the US and China is much more important to the US in financial terms than anything a jaunty BoJo can offer Trump.

“Take Back Control” and “Get Brexit Done” are thus vapid and meaningless until the UK manages to be in a position to conclude, in ways binding and definitive, at least a fraction of the hundreds of post-Brexit trade treaties needed to replace those it previously had by virtue of its EU membership.

Only then will the UK have “cred” as a potential trading partner with something to offer.

But this level of seriousness has never been within BoJo’s compass.

The quintessential chancer and con man, he’s set his store, albeit without saying so, by a failure of any withdrawal deal with the EU, thereby hoping to blame the EU for this– BoJo believes he can then concoct an alibi in the hope of convincing his supporters that the fault for a no-deal Brexit lies with the eurocrats in Brussels.

At the same time, Britain’s technocrats of whatever political persuasion, apart from a few die-hard Europhobes, agree that a no-deal Brexit will be hard for a disordered UK to weather economically.

Since the 2008 financial crash, the UK’s economic recovery has been uneven and tepid: investment has been sub-par, productivity growth almost non-existent, wages adjusted for inflation are still below where they were in 2007, and household debt, while stabilizing since 2013, continues to be at a very high level.

Brexit is reckoned to have a 1-3% drag-effect on this already sluggish economy once it is implemented.

But the key “over-ride” in the face of any such supposedly realistic considerations is “patriotism”.

The myth here, mock-Churchillian in tone, and designed for the consumption of BoJo’s mostly elderly and less educated supporters, is that the Britain which once stood alone against a continental European adversary, must now somehow be able to “do it again” (this time with regard to the EU as a more or less hazy across-the-Channel entity).

The underlying fable here, obviously, is that of a British exceptionalism.

And, in terms of underlying political and philosophical principle, this is probably where Corbyn lost.

Corbyn, in his long political career, has never been an Ukanian exceptionalist.

He’s been opposed all the UK’s neocolonial military ventures (to the extent of saying his government, if elected, will find ways to send Tony Blair to the Hague for his participation in the invasion of Iraq).

Labour campaigners on the doorstep found traditional working-class Labour voters having doubts about Corbyn’s “patriotism”—his failure to bow to the queen at the opening of parliament, or sing the national anthem, or not wearing a big enough poppy badge on his lapel for Remembrance Sunday in November, or wanting a ceasefire with the IRA during the Troubles, or his long history as a peacenik, and so on, were projected to voters craving a more gloriously rose-tinted Ukanian past as evidence that Corbyn was insufficiently “patriotic”.

Britain’s rightwing trash-rags of course added fuel to the sentiment that the “unpatriotic” Corbyn had long disdained any vestige of Ukanian exceptionalism (as did some of Corbyn’s Blairite enemies in his own party).

His “constructive ambiguity” over Brexit was fed into this narrative by being glossed as yet another sign of Corbyn’s weakness— here was a fence-sitter who may not be able to stand-up to the flinty eurocrats the way a jingoistic and chippy BoJo would.

Labour has always faced two challenges posed for it by the Establishment and the rightwing media.

The first has to do with socialism, every significant form of which is branded in the rightwing media (which of course monopolizes the UK’s mediascape) as “loony leftism”, “Marxism”, “a revolutionary cult”, etc.

All that Corbyn’s Labour presented to voters this time round was the prospectus for a UK version of Scandinavian social democracy.

But the outcome here has been obvious, even without hindsight: in its frantic (past) efforts to convince voters that it is absolutely committed to a perceived non-revolutionary politics, Labour had to eschew socialism.

Corbyn and his leadership group were the first Labour team in decades not to treat “socialism” as a dirty word, and the outcome was Labour’s worst electoral performance since 1935.

Brexit was of course the dominant factor in contributing to this dismal outcome, but here the second challenge materialized, namely, Labour having always to deal with the charge that it is constitutively “unpatriotic”.

Labour politicians were the prime targets of the “red scares” during the Cold War. “Red scares” can no longer be mobilized politically, but the “patriotism” motif has now morphed into something more generalized, that is, an intrinsic connectedness with Ukanian exceptionalism.

Europhobia, and an accompanying Little Englanderism, showed themselves in the cluster of issues surrounding Brexit.

But we can be critical of, or indeed hostile to, the EU without succumbing to any kind of europhobia or Ukanian exceptionalism.

The EU is after all a staunch supporter of big business and the multinationals (“What is good for Bayer and Daimler Benz is good for Europe”), doesn’t even pretend to represent the interests of working people (except where health and safety measures are concerned), and is profoundly undemocratic (the European parliament is just a debating chamber with no legislative function). And let’s not forget the EU’s part in the fiscal waterboarding of the Greek people during that country’s 2009 financial crash in order to protect the French and German banks from the risky loans they made to the Greek elite.

Corbyn, like many in Labour—the so-called Lexiters– has always been sceptical of the EU for the above reasons.

But as a staunch internationalist, and thus lacking credentials as an Ukanian exceptionalist, the “unpatriotic” card could be played against Corbyn by Brexiter exceptionalists like BoJo.

So someone who grabbed a journalist’s phone and put it in his pocket rather than look at a photo of a young child lying on a hospital floor, who ran and hid in a fridge rather than be questioned by Piers Morgan on his morning TV show, and whose “deal of the century” was precisely the crap one he voted against as an MP 18 months before, got virtually no negative publicity, while Corbyn copped most of it.

The Independent commented on this disparity by citing a report produced by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture:

“Because the largest newspapers were more friendly to the Conservatives, when weighted by circulation, the final week of the 2019 election gave the Tories a positive score of 30.17 while Labour’s was minus 96.66 – a vast gulf in treatment.

All opposition parties were portrayed negatively, with only the ruling Tories portrayed in a positive light”.

The Labour leader taking-over from Corbyn will therefore face not just the two challenges just mentioned (being branded as “unpatriotic” because shunning Ukanian exceptionalism, and being “a loony leftist” for espousing social democracy), but also a hostile media campaign of unremitting ferocity and character assassination— unless of course they come across as “patriots” and commit themselves to a non-socialist politics.

Only then will Labour be deemed “electable” by Rupert Murdoch and his ilk.

Already Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Corbynite frontrunner in the contest to find Corbyn’s successor, has called for a “progressive patriotism” in an attempt to obviate the charge directed at him (though she has refrained from criticizing Corbyn). To quote The Guardian:

“Long-Bailey differentiates herself from Corbyn by saying that as Labour leader she would champion “progressive patriotism”. She says: “From ex-miners in Blyth Valley to migrant cleaners in Brixton, from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford, we have to unite our communities. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built upon unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone”.

The problem of course is detaching this “progressive patriotism” from any kind of Ukanian exceptionalism.

This may seem equivalent to squaring the circle, but look for Long-Bailey and her strategists to move the terms of the patriotism-debate, should it become significant, from a patriotism based on ethno-nationalist fantasies to one based on a version of “civic” patriotism.

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Metaphor, the Holy Bible and the Western Hero: Corrupting Jesus to Trump the Constitution

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

by JOHN GRANT

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

– Matthew 7:15

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

– Matthew 7:18

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

– Matthew 22:39

(For Thompson Bradley)

Over this past Christmas holiday, I did what I enjoy most about that time of year, I got together with family and friends to share camaraderie, food and drink. It even included a well-attended memorial for a dear deceased friend, an atheist and a socialist, who, as one speaker testified, was a profoundly spiritual man who devoted his life to fighting for the dignity of his fellow human beings. During all the cheer, though, there always comes a moment when the absurdity of the season settles upon me and I have to force myself to laugh just a little harder. This year was a doozy.

It wasn’t the usual deluge of cloying commercial nonsense that got me; long ago I’d accepted Stan Freiberg’s definition of Christmas as the time we celebrate the birth of the gross national product. What was so farcical this year was the insidious political context in which we were celebrating the birth of Christ. Of course, the Prince of Peace wasn’t actually born on December 25th. Some savvy person in ancient times decided not to rock the boat and chose to celebrate his birthday on the Winter Solstice, because that’s when pagans and pre-Christians naturally celebrated. The harvest was in and the community’s storage sheds were full of fresh food, so everyone was inclined to co-mingle with family and friends before they hunkered down to face the harsh winter ahead.

There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s smart change-oriented politics. For example, if George W. Bush had understood this realpolitik dynamic and had not swept away and totally replaced Saddam Hussein’s power structure his invasion/occupation might not have been one of the worst foreign policy debacles in modern times. As that beloved absurdist Kurt Vonnegut might say: So it goes.

A central folly of this Christmas season was evangelical Christian Franklin Graham, following an editorial in Christianity Today supporting the impeachment of Donald Trump, telling us how much he revered President Trump because he was strongman protecting the Christian religion from liberal assault. Graham conceded the man came up morally short and couldn’t pass muster under the scrutiny of Jesus Christ. But that didn’t matter. He also conceded Christianity Today had been founded by his father, Rev. Billy Graham. Nor did it seem to matter to Graham, the son, that Christ was a spiritual leader famous for exhibiting fury toward the Trumpian plutocrats of his time by entering a temple and physically flipping over their tables devoted to emolumenta (Latin for profits), and exclaiming:

It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

– Matthew 21:13

In a book titled Blessed Assurance: A History of Evangelicalism in America, Randall Balmer tells a story from early in father Billy Graham’s career how he “turned aside a friend’s challenge to attend Princeton Theological Seminary and become conversant with intellectual and theological issues.” Graham was not interested, Balmer writes, because “Populist evangelical theology in America, like populist politics, operates on pragmatism more often than it does on principle.”

“‘I don’t have the time, the inclination, or the set of mind to pursue them,’ Graham protested. ‘I have found that if I say, “The Bible says,” I get results. I have decided I am not going to wrestle with these questions any longer.’ ”

There it is. Don’t confuse me with knowledge and the deep thinking of great minds. Keep it simple and popular in stories my plain-talkin’ flock can understand; cite The Bible as a source of political power. (The story Balmer tells comes from William Martin’s biography of Graham titled A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.)

It’s hard to fathom anyone on the religious, political right believing Donald Trump subscribes to any of the New Testament words attributed to Christ in the King James Version of The Holy Bible — though they assure us that book is the foundational text handed down by God directly from Heaven. They seem to have made a devil’s bargain and handed over protection of their church to the den of thieves. The hypocrisy and delusion is simply awe-inspiring.

I’m a spiritual atheist who subscribes as much as one can to Christ’s teachings on compassion and forgiveness. What most gets my attention, in this case, is that by supporting an obviously un-Christian Donald Trump as a strongman protecting his religion, Rev. Graham is focusing his wrath and power at people like me. Torquemada was also a powerful strongman who protected Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition by murdering and torturing those who threatened his reign — all in the name of the Prince of Peace.

In Italy, the Inquisition was condemning people to death until the end of the eighteenth century, and inquisitional torture was not abolished in the Catholic Church until 1816.

– Carl Sagan

Franklin Graham and similar fundamentalist Christians are advancing what Chris Hedges wrote about in a 2006 book titled American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. I agree, the term fascist is a loaded word one should use cautiously. And Hedges makes it very clear America is not becoming Hitler Germany or Mussolini Italy. What he had the courage to say was, yes, it can happen here — in the same way that proverbial frog remains in the slowly heating water til’ he finds himself boiled to death. Again, I’m concerned because it’s people like me and people I respect who will be hurt.

The idea of slowly encroaching fascism was vividly revealed to my mind when on Christmas Eve I read in the New York Times a story about a state legislator in Washington associated with far-right fringe elements who disseminated among his band of armed zealots a document called “A Biblical Basis for War.” According to the Times, it called for the “surrender” of those advocating abortion rights, same-sex marriage and socialism. “[I]f they do not yield,” it urged armed patriots to “kill all males.” Shea defended the document, saying it was referring to Old Testament war tactics. That didn’t make anyone feel better.

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that has known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

– Numbers 31:17,18

My reading of The Holy Bible comes from an excellent class in “The Bible as Literature” I took at Florida State University many years ago on the GI Bill. It’s a great poetic work full of novelistic history and character and charged with mythic and metaphoric power. But if you believe it literally, you’re looking for trouble. What’s different about the New Testament is, of course, its emphasis on Jesus Christ as a “prince of peace.” There’s not a lot of smoting, killing and carrying off of your enemy’s young daughters; that’s to be found in the Old Testament. Militant Christians like Matt Shea and his well-armed comrades have assumed Jesus Christ as their savior, while they’ve ditched all the peaceful and forgiving ideas he proselytized about to his flock; then, they’ve borrowed the most violent, tribal passages from the Old Testament to gird their loins for cultural battle in the 21st Century.

Crazy? I’d say so. But, then, what’s crazy and what’s political violence circa 2020 is not so clear-cut when facts, science, truth and the law are so widely disrespected that the mad find protection for their madness in the padded rooms of wealth and power. Consider this: In today’s loopy, internet-saturated world, is it hard to imagine a lonely, AR15-packing, Second Amendment-worshiping rightwing-fringe nutcase listening to Matt Shea’s Old Testament message getting into his big truck with a duffel bag of weapons and extra magazines and tearing off to rid us of some liberal fiend damned on a website called Stormfront.com? Son of Sam took his orders from a dog. Matt Shea’s grasp of history and crisis is much more articulate and clear than a dog’s. Plus, we should not forget this poor fellow’s reading list, which no doubt includes publications like Recoil magazine, a 180-page, slick AR15-wet-dream fantasy that proselytizes this stuff for the gun industry with a fat, glossy new issue each month.

The lynch pin of all this is metaphor. Life with no mental mediation for establishing meaning out of universal chaos would be so confusing that the human mind would blow a gasket. Thus, we rely on metaphoric thinking to simplify things and make them familiar so we can go on with our lives. Creating metaphors is, of course, an art. When I taught writing in a city prison, one of my greatest challenges was breaking inmates of the metaphor, “He was fast as shit” or “He was slow as shit.” You can do better, I’d preach. Narrative and story are metaphors for living, pleasing patterns that represent in our poor, limited minds larger, more overwhelming things we can’t fully understand. Life is like a bowl of cherries. We know that’s nonsense, but we like cherries and we want life to be good, so it comforts us and allows us to think we have things under control. The problem comes when people take their metaphors literally; sometimes people are so sure their metaphors are the real thing they take up arms and threaten to harm or even kill those who don’t share their certainty. Again, in the case of the Matt Sheas of this world, that could be me and my friends.

Add all this up. Factor in climate change, a more and more dysfunctional education system, and things like a pharmaceutical industry in which much-needed antibiotic research is not being done because under capitalist logic there’s no profit incentive. Throw in what Harry Frankfurt told us about a marketing-based society drowning in bullshit. Don’t forget the wasted resources and lingering legacy of failure from too many imperial military debacles. Add some computer algorithms for spice. Then jam it all into an electric blender, turn it on high and what do you get? A nation headed toward an uncertain rendezvous with destiny.

But it’s not that simple. While everyone these days seems to agree on this metaphor — that our imperial republic is a runaway train heading for some rendezvous with destiny — everyone still argues exactly what the hell that destiny may be or should be. Much of the rest of the world is biting their fingernails watching our national agony, at the same they seem to be enjoying the United States’ loss of self-confidence in a worldwide outpouring of schadenfreude, that darkly human impulse that finds joy in another’s misfortune. It’s not quite sadism, but it shares something with that impulse.

When Things Get Crazy, Go to the Movies

When I was in Baghdad in January 2004 as the cameraman on a documentary film, the director and I had dinner with a cinema professor from a major university in Baghdad. He hoped to lure the director to come later and lecture at his university. The professor was accompanied by a man who had been a general in some technical area of Saddam Hussein’s army; he showed me the clearance document given to him after a period of interrogation by the invading US military. He said, in the chaotic and frightening state of affairs in Iraq at that moment, he mostly stayed home and watched movies.

These days, I sometimes feel like that man. Last night, for example, I indulged in my love of westerns. In a thrift shop I’d found a DVD of The Quick and the Dead, a 1987 film version of a Louis L’Amour novel starring Sam Elliot as a loner in buckskin with a horse, a huge bowie knife, a Colt .45 and a lever-action, repeating rifle. The plot was classic: A man, his wife and young son are in a wagon full of furniture being pulled by a team of four mules, with two fine horses tethered at the rear; they’re coming from Philadelphia on their way to Bighorn, Montana, where with their money her brother has built them a house. The brother is in Custer’s 7th Cavalry.  Click here for a clip from the film.

They roll into a sad, barren town in Wyoming and are confronted by a menacing gang of smelly, grinning predators. Then Sam Elliot rides into town. The Easterners are ripe for picking, and Elliot takes a less-than-discreet fancy to the man’s beautiful wife, as does a fat, greasy member of the vermin gang who lusts for a “good-smelling woman.” Over an hour-and-a-half, Elliot’s character saves the family and educates the tenderfoot husband; per the popular western code, he evolves into a true gentleman vis-à-vis the wife, the husband is revealed as a Civil War veteran who has seen too much killing and by the end of the picture the gang of threatening lowlifes have been eliminated, one by one. The ending is right out of Shane, as Elliot’s wild-West character rides off into the sunset, alone, with the boy and the wife waving farewell, our gun-shy Civil War vet Easterner now a rugged Western killer able to secure his family.

I couldn’t help it: I metaphorically projected the dangerous, smelly gang of vermin in the narrative onto the likes of Matt Shea and his militant bunch of western white men hostile toward immigrants. The decent Philadelphia family represented law-abiding, compassionate liberal people focused on open-mindedness and cooperative living. Matt Shea and his ilk would, of course, lean toward another version of such a plot, with the outsiders more sinister and threatening their liberty and way of life.

In Far Country: Scenes From American Culture, Franco Moretti quotes Robert Warshaw answering the question why the Western has such a hold on our imaginations:

“It offers a serious orientation to the problem of violence such as can be found almost nowhere else in our culture. One of the well-known peculiarities of modern civilized opinion is its refusal to acknowledge the value of violence. This refusal is a virtue, but like many virtues it involves a certain willful blindness and it encourages hypocrisy.”

Moretti sees in the Western “a political founding myth: the genesis of the state.” He quotes a line from Owen Wister’s famous 1902 western novel of Wyoming, The Virginian: “Where you [the Virginian] come from they have policemen and courts and jails to enforce the law. Here, we got nothing.” This metaphoric and mythic time/place is fundamental to who we are as Americans. Moretti concludes: “The Western needs heroes, because it has no stable mechanism to enforce the law. The hero fills the void of the absent state — he is the state.”

In my thinking, there’s just as much mythic mind-work going on vis-à-vis Western movies as there is vis-à-vis stories in The Holy Bible. Of course, this is a big reason people like me are deemed so frightening by some people. The solution to such polarization is in the recognition that absolutely nothing is solid in this life and everything is vulnerable to change. As Epictitus put it thousands of years ago in Greece: “You can never step in the same river twice.” Humility, dialogue and cooperation is the only way.

What stories one pays fealty to ends up mattering. Donald Trump’s tragic flaw is he only listens to the stories he generates in his own head; there is no respectful dialogue with the world surrounding him. So he’s right: The world is out to get him. The US Constitution is a long, complex story with ups and downs and evil switchbacks, complete with a cast of colorful characters and a European backstory called the Enlightenment. The so-called Deep State is also a character, one day the bad-guy for the left, the next day the bad-guy for the right. It’s actually a helluva drama, now being played out as Reality TV. Nothing can be taken for granted. We aren’t in Kansas anymore.

Politically, I’m done with Identity Politics. It’s the wrong metaphor for this fraught  moment because it divides more than it unites; because, whoever we are, however we might have been abused in the past, we’re all in the same boat now facing the same bad weather. Personally, I do my best to eat right and exercise to keep my aging body healthy and strong. I try to have integrity, use my talents wisely, not take myself all that seriously and present the best image I can to the people I engage with by choice or fate. Of course, I come up short in some way every day. Finally, I constantly work to adjust my inner metaphoric and mythic life, keeping it fresh and on time, so I can cope as effectively as possible with a maddening, ever-changing but always interesting world.

As the learned old preacher tells us in the Old Testament:

Vanity of vanities: all is vanity. . . . For in much wisdom is much grief: he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

– Ecclesiastes 1:2,18

Posted in USA, Campaigns, PoliticsComments Off on Metaphor, the Holy Bible and the Western Hero: Corrupting Jesus to Trump the Constitution

Cuba’s Revolutionary Origins: a Personal Reflection

by NINO PAGLICCIA

Photograph Source: Student protests in Havana, 1956 – Public Domain

Some time ago in another late December my partner in life commented that she liked beginnings in reference to the approaching new year. I became immediately aware that other traditions may have a calendar different from the Gregorian calendar and the beginning of their new year may take place at a different time. But the notion of “beginning” intrigued me, especially because I had another upcoming beginning in my political mind.

A beginning can mark any event, like for instance the start of a special day that we acknowledge with some ritual. There may be beginnings that are ominous like those of natural disasters or traumatic experiences; others can be unique and personal like the beginning of life at birth; yet others are uplifting like the beginning of a relationship. Whichever event we go through, often we remember its beginning as an anniversary or worthy of celebration.

For me at this time of the year it is inevitable to remember the momentous day when the protracted revolutionary process in Cuba came to fruition on January 1, 1959 marking the triumph of the Cuban Revolution with the ousting of the dictator Fulgencio Batista and the attaining of the long overdue independence from foreign and oligarchy dominance. That is an historic beginning that I inevitably remember and personally celebrate every year. My celebration is not with fireworks or public display but more like a time for introspection and reflection on some of the events that led to that new start. Although I was too young to have been aware of that historical moment at the time, I am quite acquainted with Cuba and I have come to know some of the historical leaders of the Cuban Revolution. I consider myself privileged to be a contemporary of those personalities.

The modern history of Cuba is quite rich and full of human episodes. Its retrospective study gives an insight in the determination of Cubans to resist any foreign intervention. After long years of fighting the Spanish colonisation in the 19th Century, Cuba was close to achieving its independence goal militarily, but a false flag incident of the explosion of the US battleship Maine in the Havana Bay in February 1898 – blamed to the Spanish – was used by the US as a pretext to intervene in the Spanish-Cuban war. “False flag” acts are frequently used today but it’s an old military tactic. There is another infamous false flag act committed later in April 1961 when the US-sponsored invasion of Cuba at Bay of Pigs was carried on with planes painted with the colours of the Cuban air force to deceive the population and the revolutionary government itself as if it were a mutiny. The invading mercenaries were eventually defeated and taken prisoners in less than 72 hours.

In 1898, despite the Cuban troops’ advantage over the Spanish, and despite the Cuban troops’ protection of the US landing of its army, Cubans did not receive any recognition. They were in fact ignored. Spain surrendered to the US in the Paris Treaty of December 1898. On January 1, 1899 the possession of Cuba was transferred from Spain to the United States. An inauspicious beginning that would rather be forgotten, but history is there so we don’t forget. And Cubans didn’t.

The importance of Cuba for the US was, and still is, mostly strategic for its geographic position as a virtual protective gate to the gulf of Mexico. Cuba also was used for economic exploitation of its vast sugar cane and other produce plantations mostly in the hands of US corporations. That was sufficient for the US government to turn a blind eye to the extensive mafia gambling activities, tax haven and other illegal dealings taking place in Cuba. The different puppet regimes governing the country had a total disregard for the well-being of Cubans who lived in extreme poverty and abject conditions especially in the rural areas.

This was the social situation under the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista that the revolutionary movement of Cuba in the mid-20th century was attempting to overturn. The first major attempt took place on July 26, 1953 when Fidel Castro led an attack at the military garrison in Santiago de Cuba that failed. The struggle continued including more than two years of guerrilla warfare. In the words of Fidel Castro “five years, five months and five days” passed from that day until victory was finally achieved liberating the whole country of six million Cubans.

In my personal reflections I always respect the moral qualities of Fidel Castro exemplified by his modesty. He always discouraged the personal idealisation towards him and I think that he set the standard from the very beginning. While revolutionary commanders Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos entered into Havana on January 1 and took over the two large military garrisons without resistance winning over the majority of the soldiers, Fidel was still in Santiago de Cuba, almost a thousand kilometers away. He did not rush to the capital to be acclaimed. He took the trip by road stopping at every major Cuban city to connect with the people who had been his supporters and had been the most ignored historically. He arrived in Havana eight days later.

Following his death in November 2016 a funeral procession carried the casket with his ashes symbolically travelling the same route back from Havana to Santiago de Cuba. Large crowds stood along the way to pay their final respects. His brother, Raul Castro, stated one of Fidel’s dying wishes: that his image and name never be used in public places, from streets and parks to government institutions. Legislation to that effect was passed by the Cuban National Assembly.

January 1, 2020 will mark the 61st anniversary of this legendary revolutionary beginning, and the term beginning is very appropriate because it indicates a continuous process of transformation of what is called today: a Revolution in motion. At every step, a true social advancement is made. The human and social development of this small nation is outstanding by any stretch of the imagination while subjected to the most crushing economic and financial blockade by the United States from 1962 to this day. The UN Human Development Report of 2019 states, “Cuba’s HDI [Human Development Index] value for 2018 is 0.778— which puts the country in the high human development category— positioning it at 72 out of 189 countries and territories…above the average of 0.750 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.759 for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

I am truly convinced that be it a personal change or a social revolution a true transformative beginning must be marked by a creative process and a radical change with the profound conviction that a better world is possible.

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