Archive | February 12th, 2020

Three Old White Guys: Bernie, Biden and Bloomberg

by JOHN DAVIS

Photograph Source: Bloomberg Philanthropies and Gage Skidmore – CC BY-SA 2.0

Pete Buttigieg’s declaration of victory in Iowa reminded us that neither sex, sexual orientation or skin color is in any way intrinsic to a person’s judgement – the first gay or the first African-American or the first woman to do this or that may still be mired in the mediocrity of their convictions. Distinctions of identity may remain relevant, but it is the authenticity of their narratives that should concern us.

So it is that a grizzled old white guy whose performative chops are limited to pointing and shouting appears to have been bested by a smooth-faced, hyper-articulate young gay man when, in fact, what we are seeing is a profound ideological battle between the attempted destruction of capital, along with its attendant ills, and its preservation by any means, occurring within a contest in which the safeguarding of the status quo is the only acceptable outcome.

Despite briefly sparking to life in the New Hampshire debate, can we now safely consign Biden to the category of the walking dead? The Democratic National Committee’s zombie candidate refuses to die. Joe has always been an empty suit. In 1988, he stuffed his elegantly draped fustian with some biographical features of a British politician, Neil Kinnock, whom he had a fancy to plagiarize. In 2008, he referred to fellow presidential candidate Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”, offering a searing glimpse of his blindingly white racist soul. Despite, or perhaps because of, exposing this characteristic shared by a large slice of the electorate, Barack chose him as his vice-president. Now, as a sort of twilight candidate in 2020, he hangs on for dear life to the coattails of his former boss, trusting that some of the president’s gravitas will enliven the tailor’s dummy. After his fourth-place finish in the heartland, it may be time again for him to retire his suit and aviator shades and reflect on his lifetime achievements of inflicting Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court, and his son, Hunter, on Ukraine’s Burisma Holding’s corporate board.

The DNC is committed to maintaining the sham of American democracy whose plutocratic roots go back to the very beginning of the Republic when the then richest man in America became its first president by acclamation of his wealthy friends and neighbors. Over time, recognizing the liberal instincts of its subjects, the oligarchs have allowed for the expansion of voting rights to those whose interests are clearly not those of corporations and the uber-wealthy. But they have fought back by establishing programs of disenfranchisement, most famously under Jim Crow, gerrymandering, control of critical sections of the media, building the carceral state, limiting education and opportunity for the middle-class and the poor, requiring voting to take place on a work-day, establishing spurious ID requirements and simply purging voter rolls. This countervailing program of franchise restriction has been abetted, over the last decade, by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision which has resulted in a flood ‘dark money’ from corporations, oligarchs and offshore interests pouring into the election process.

The DNC itself has inaugurated a kind of junior league plutocracy whereby its presidential hopefuls must be validated by their supporters sending them cold hard cash. Money as a proxy for voting is the oligarch’s foundational gambit and the anti-democratic forces of the DNC have now substantiated it in their farcical presidential primary process.

Just as the elite in Britain use the emotional ballast of royal regalia to deter rebellion, the wealthy ruling class in the U.S. call upon the trappings of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the flag – all conflated in the notion of American democracy – to quash radical action that might challenge them. Even as its universality has been squeezed hard, the sop of voting – the lure of having one’s voice counted – has been remarkably effective in guaranteeing the quiescence of the people.

The bastion of capital, which affords a dictatorship of the rich and the immiseration of its subject population, is supported by the twin pillars of neo-liberalism, the Republican and Democratic parties. Its walls are battle-hardened against rogue outliers such as Bernie, while the likes of Biden have spent their careers augmenting its fortifications. But there have been moments in that dictatorship, when chinks of humanitarian light have shone through its fortress walls. Its hostility to the wellbeing of its subjects is not necessarily guaranteed. Enter our third old white guy, Mike Bloomberg, flying the standard of the Democratic Party, but refusing to play by the DNC’s rules.

At least since Jackson, America has been built on just enough democracy to ensure that the masses retain their Horatio Alger dreams – believing the myth of equal opportunity and the chance to strike it rich – but never enough to challenge the power of the wealthy. Hard work has been replaced by education as the base material of these dreams, but the latter obscures the debt peonage its achievement often requires and the low-level work it typically enables. Trader Joe’s, the supermarket chain, requires all of its staff to have a college degree. Hard work counts for little in an age when the buying power of minimum wage has atrophied into insignificance. Voting, despite the purging of the rolls and other impediments to its practice, remains for many a feel-good way to connect to the grand mythos of America, inflating the self-worth of those who are otherwise victims of its deceits.

Material wealth, first as stolen land, then as industrial capital, and now as control of information (which today drives the forces of production through algorithms fed by real-time consumer desires, or clicks) is at the heart of the American pathology of exploitation, extraction, subjugation, oppression and the devastation of the natural world. Our putative democracy has been entirely enfolded into this ongoing historical project. It is an enabler of these crimes against humanity. It is an ideological co-conspirator.

Bernie proposes an ‘allopathic’ prescription for the overthrow of this world. He suggests that its corruption can be changed through the application of policies like Medicare for all, free college tuition, new taxes on the wealthy, slashing the defense budget, breaking up agri-business, the banning of fracking, and the overturning of the Citizen’s United decision. He understands that money is the medium through which all corruption flows. Mike Bloomberg, proposes a ‘homeopathic cure’, to heal like with like and use 2% of his wealth, or a billion dollars, to ignore the DNC’s beauty pageant, take on the billionaire incumbent and, as president, from deep within the bastion of capital, effect mildly progressive programs for the incremental improvement of the people’s civic and domestic lives, while all the while sustaining the pernicious arc of the American project for a further four or eight years.

Of our three old white guys, we have a candidate who refuses to be bound to the DNC’s rules, another whom it may refuse to anoint, and a third whose candidature is clinically dead.

The radical ideas proposed by the ancient Caucasian, cis-male senator from Vermont – whose bid for the nomination was last time up-ended by Hillary’s quest to be the first woman President of the United States, and is now challenged by the gay Pete Buttigieg and the women Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren – may represent a step towards overthrowing the capitalist hegemony. It would be tragic if his inability to challenge – by personal example – perceptions of identity, except perhaps to confirm the value of the aged, should in any way limit the possibility of success for his campaign.

His is the only authentic voice for change.

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THE CAIRNCROSS REVIEW: IT WAS A CON

Brian Cathcart

The Cairncross Review: it was a con

Why has the government binned the key recommendation of its own report on the future of journalism? Because it was only ever meant as a distraction

Two years ago, when the government was desperately struggling for a majority in the Commons to support scrapping part two of the Leveson Inquiry, the then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock came up with an idea.

An inquiry such as Leveson 2 into the criminal activities of the upper reaches of the national press, he decided, was ‘backward-looking’. (He might try saying that today to the Dowler family, who have just read allegations that a second newspaper was illegally trolling them and their murdered daughter.) 

Instead of looking back, Hancock told us, we needed a ‘forward-looking’ inquiry into the future of ‘high-quality journalism’, as he called it (and in his book this seemed to include the Sun and the Mail).

So in March 2018 he set up the Cairncross Review as an implicit substitute for Leveson 2 – and the gesture may well have helped politically because Leveson 2 was eventually cancelled by a margin of just nine votes.

But the Review had been promised, so it duly went ahead, with a cast of personnel that might have been (and probably were) handpicked by the big newspaper groups. And it eventually produced a report that, I will admit, was not as bad as I had warned it might be. 

But the report was just so many words. Only today, a year later, have we learned what the government will actually do about this set of recommendations. And its response amply confirms Matt Hancock’s gross dishonesty on this matter. 

Because his successor, Nicky, Baroness Morgan, has done what we can safely assume was always likely. She has binned the Cairncross Review’s central recommendation that we need an Institute for Public Interest News – ‘a dedicated body [that] could amplify efforts to ensure the future sustainability of public-interest news, working in partnership with news publishers and the online platforms’.

And the excuse Morgan gives is this: the idea ‘risks perceptions of inappropriate government interference with the press’. (As if, for example, having a Tory peer and ex-government minister running the press complaints body IPSO doesn’t risk such perceptions.)

This is a transparent pretext. If the government really wanted to set up the Institute in a way that made it independent of political influence it could easily have done so. Indeed Cairncross herself said in her report: ‘Its governance [that is, the governance of the Institute] should be carefully designed to ensure complete freedom from any obligations, political or commercial.’ 

Morgan could have got someone to do the careful designing but she didn’t. Which reveals the real explanation: the whole exercise was a sham from the start, an illusion conjured up by Matt Hancock to trick MPs into scrapping Leveson 2 and letting an army of corrupt, mostly Tory-supporting press bosses escape the scrutiny which his own party had promised to their victims and to the country.

This is not to suggest that Dame Frances and her panel were all insincere. But whatever their motives,  they have been used in a political game designed to shield the gang of people who oversaw industrial-scale phone hacking and data theft in the press. 

Posted in MULTIMEDIA, Media, UKComments Off on THE CAIRNCROSS REVIEW: IT WAS A CON

Capitalism’s Political Servants: Trump

and Johnson

by RICHARD D. WOLFF

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

For the last half-century, US and UK capitalisms led the way in undoing the parallel legacies of the New Deal and Europe’s social democracies. From its ascending Thatcher-Reagan couple to its descending Trump-Johnson imitation, neoliberal capitalism replaced Keynesian capitalism. Private corporate capitalists funded effective campaigns to celebrate neo-liberalism. The US and UK institutionalized it by de-regulating and privatizing further and faster than anywhere else

Over the same period, private capitalists attacked the working class on three fronts. Neo-liberalism provided ideological cover in that attack. Its ideologues insisted that their goals – deregulation and privatization – would bring prosperity and growth to all, a win-win program for everyone. Neoliberalism swept up many Keynesians and social democrats. They had wavered especially after the 1960s when they could no longer preserve, let alone advance, working-class gains won in the post-1929 depression. Resigned to neoliberalism, many leaders of center-left, labor and socialist parties redefined themselves as merely advocates for its less harsh forms.

The first front in capitalism’s attack was outsourcing production and jobs. At first, manufacturing moved from capitalism’s old centers (western Europe, US, Japan) to China, India, and other low-wage areas. Large profits gained by early outsourcers forced much competitive outsourcing later. Many service industries followed. Neo-liberals hailed “globalization.” To them it showed efficiency and prosperity delivered by deregulation and privatization.

Less movable employers (construction, retail trade, fast-food, etc.) raised profits by opening a second front against the working class. They chose increasingly to hire low wage immigrants desperate to escape from economic, political and military crises in their home countries. The undocumented were especially attractive: they lacked legal recourse for unpaid wages, illegal job conditions, etc. Their labor was unprotected.

The third front in the employers’ attack was more important than outsourcing or immigration. In a new automation wave, computers, robots, and artificial intelligence boosted profits by displacing workers. Automation enabled employers to cut wage bills relative to revenues from sales. Ideologues then attributed rising profits to neo-liberal capitalism’s win-win globalization.

Neo-liberal ideology did not last long. Widening gaps between winners and losers from globalization strengthened ideological critiques of win-win claims. Corporations, stock markets, venture capitalists, and the few they enriched (capital gains, dividends, merger fees, etc.) were clear winners. Top executives scored huge pay packages. Top “professional advisors” enjoyed big salaries and bonuses. Losers, on the other hand, were almost everyone else, a vast majority. Workers suffered stagnant wages and deteriorating jobs. Large industrial cities (Detroit, Cleveland, etc.) atrophied alongside small “rust belt” cities and much of rural America.

Average real wages stagnated since the 1970s. Chasing the “American Dream” drove millions to incur mounting personal debts (mortgage, auto loans, credit cards and then student loans). That added credit anxieties to their accumulating anguish over flat real wages, eroding benefits, and ever less job security. Capital’s three-pronged attack hurt.

Exporting jobs, importing low-wage immigrants, and automation combined to generate that great-for-capitalism mix of rising productivity and stagnant wages. Starting in the 1980s, profits soared and lifted stock markets. Those profits provided much of the money they loaned to a working class borrowing to offset stagnant wages. Rising personal debts proved a fragile economic foundation although they helped obscure the fast-growing rich-poor gap.

The 2008 crash rendered painfully visible what had been obscured. It broke the promises from politicians, academics and the media that lessons learned and reforms installed guaranteed that 1929-type crashes would never recur. The 2008 crash also exposed harsh social realities. The US and UK had become sharply more unequal economically and politically. Both governments quickly endorsed very expensive bailouts for the same banks that had helped cause the crash. Both governments paid for bailouts with decreasingly progressive tax revenues and still more borrowing. And both then pointed to rising government debt to justify austerity for everyone else. The only difference: Labor and the Democrats advocated a less harsh austerity than Conservatives and the Republicans.

Once exposed as performing so much better for the employer class than for the employee class, capitalisms run big risks. Systemic questions and criticisms arise, challenge the status quo, and strengthen social movements for systemic change. That happened during past capitalist crashes and certainly after 1929. Capitalism needs system-preserving political and ideological programs to “get through” crashes even more than it needs them between crashes.

Since 2008 nationalism once again played a key role in capitalism’s self-preservation. It had done so earlier in, for example, Mussolini’s and Hitler’s promises to make Italy and Germany “great again” against enemies – mostly foreign but also domestic (those not “genuinely” Italian or Aryan). Nationalist (in the sense of anti-foreign) ideology covered the state-managed (i.e., fascist) reinforcement or reconstruction of the employer-employee relationship that defines capitalism and that had been sharply challenged in and by the 1930s depression. Trump’s “Make America great again” plays to many Americans’ sense of loss before and after 2008. He attacks immigrants and “cheating” foreign trade partners as if they caused Americans’ felt losses. In the UK, Johnson’s Brexit program excoriates “Europeans,” as if they caused the UK’s deep economic and political inequalities. Bashing and limiting foreigners including immigrants are main themes of capitalism’s current political servants.

Those servants protect capitalism from its own crashes and from its highly unequal and very unpopular policy responses. They often choose nationalism because it serves them well. There is nothing new in that.

The left needs to respond in three key ways. First, it should stress how world war and holocaust resulted the last time post-crash capitalism used nationalism for scapegoating. Second, it should expose scapegoat politics as aimed to deflect working class anger from a crash-prone capitalism. Immigration, trade, tariff policies, or European integration define capitalism’s preferred terrain of debate, not a critical left’s. The left’s core response to capitalist nationalism should be this: capitalism is the problem and transition to a new, different, and fundamentally democratic system is the answer.

That answer focuses on the democratization of enterprises. Reforms of capitalism (welfare systems, New Deals, social democracies, etc.), however valuable and hard fought, are never secure while production is organized capitalistically. A small minority then owns and operates enterprises (public and/or private), reaps the profits, and rules each enterprise’s majority, its employees. It then uses those profits and that power to undo whatever reforms the working class has won.

The de-facto monarchy/oligarchy inside capitalist enterprises contradicts democracy today as utterly as monarchy and oligarchy outside enterprises did historically. Because reforms of kingdoms rarely endured, modern society eventually abolished monarchies. Reforms of capitalist enterprises likewise rarely endure. What we need are worker coops to democratize enterprises by displacing their capitalists.

Capitalism’s political servants, past and present, reformists and neoliberals, private boards of directors and public state managers, reproduce that system. After the 2008 crash, bailouts, austerity, and widening inequality, capitalism and its political servants are now especially vulnerable. System change is this historical moment’s opportunity. It should be our political project.

Posted in USA, UKComments Off on Capitalism’s Political Servants: Trump

PIERS MORGAN AND PHONE HACKING: WHAT EVEN HE CAN’T DENY

Brian Cathcart

Piers Morgan and phone hacking: what even he can’t deny

There’s a lot of evidence about Morgan and hacking, but how much has he already admitted? More than you might think…

By his own admission Piers Morgan knew about illegal voicemail hacking years before it became a public scandal – and he did nothing about it. Though he was a national newspaper editor at the time he did not expose it. Nor did he alert the police, Nor did he take any steps to ensure it didn’t happen at his paper. He just turned a blind eye.

This was a dereliction of his duties as an editor, journalist and citizen. Worse, if he had done the right thing when he says he first knew, thousands of blameless people might not have suffered unwarranted intrusion and press cruelty.

In fact it is no exaggeration to say that if Morgan had acted responsibly, Milly Dowler’s phone might never have been hacked.

Here are the undisputed facts.

On page 279 of his 2005 book, The Insider, which was presented as if it was a diary, Morgan wrote under the date 26 January 2001 that he had been warned that people might be listening to his voicemails. He went on to explain:

‘Apparently, if you don’t change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number, and if you don’t answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages. I’ll change mine just in case, but it makes me wonder how much public figures and celebrities are aware of this little trick.’

The date should not be taken too literally: Morgan has accepted vagueness about dates. (And of course it is only his word.) But as for the substance, when he was questioned about this at the Leveson Inquiry he did not seek to retreat from it.

So, to be clear, by his own admission he knew at least in early 2001 how hacking was done and that people were at risk. That was more than five years before the first journalist was arrested for it. He must also have known straight away that it was illegal, so what did he do with this knowledge?

At that time he was editor of the Daily Mirror, a post he had held since 1995 and in which he would remain until his sacking in 2004. The right thing for a national newspaper editor to do, surely, was to get his reporters to investigate this criminal practice and then expose it in public. That would have alerted potential victims, deterred perpetrators at whatever papers they worked, and perhaps even prompted police action – just the kind of crusading activity the press tell us they exist for.

And strikingly, that is what had happened in Ireland at the Irish edition of Morgan’s own paper. In 1998 a Mirror reporter in Dublin hacked the voicemails of the then Irish prime minister and promptly made the fact public on the front page to demonstrate the dangers. Nothing prevented Morgan doing something similar.

Bear in mind that after January 2001 thousands of people were victims of hacking, including victims of crime and terrorism, people in witness protection, bereaved families, people whose private lives offended the morality of editors, people who were simply witnesses to public events and ordinary people who were related to famous individuals or in relationships with them. At the very least, hundreds of these were victims of Morgan’s own newspaper while he was editing it. 

If he had chosen to do so he could have taken timely action to prevent much if not all of this – and he might even have prevented the hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002 – but instead he just turned a blind eye.

Nor is there any evidence of him doing the other thing we might expect from a senior executive of an important company who is in possession of such knowledge: so far as we know he took no steps to find out whether any journalist on his staff had hacked mobile voicemails, nor did he ban the practice at his paper. Nor did he tackle the rampant practice of employing private investigators to get people’s mobile numbers so they could be hacked. Had he done any of those things he might have halted what we now know was a huge and relentless campaign of hacking by the Mirror papers.

Charlotte Church

Morgan has confirmed that, at a Mirror lunch in 2002, he warned Jeremy Paxman about hacking. And the following year, 2003, he also warned the singer Charlotte Church. She recorded an interview with him, part of which was later broadcast by Channel 4, and it included the following significant exchange:

Morgan: ‘There was a spate of stories that came out because of mobile phones. When they first came out – mobile phones – journalists found out that if the celebrity hadn’t changed their pin code, right…’

Church: ‘Yeah, you can access their voicemail.’

Morgan: ‘…you can access their voicemail. Just by tapping in a number. Are you really telling me that journalists aren’t going to do that? If they know they can ring up Charlotte Church’s mobile phone, listen to all her messages…’

Church: ‘My God.’

This recording takes Morgan deeper. He admits on tape that he is aware of ‘a spate of stories that came out’ because of mobile phone hacking. He also presents as something like an impossibility the idea that if Church’s phone was known to be vulnerable it would not have been hacked by journalists.

In short, by 2003 at the latest Morgan, by his own admission, wasn’t merely aware that hacking by journalists was possible; he knew it was actually happening and that stories were being published as a result.

It was still three years before the hacking scandal broke and he was still editor of the Mirror but he still did nothing to investigate hacking or expose it to the wider public. Nor, again, did he alert the police or take action inside the Mirror papers.

A perplexing position

And if, for the sake of argument, we were to accept his claim that in 2001-3 he believed it wasn’t happening at the Mirror papers (though it definitely was), that makes Morgan’s position all the more perplexing, because in that case he must have believed it was only his rivals who were breaking the law. 

Let’s think about that. In this scenario Morgan thinks his own paper is in the clear but his rivals are up to their necks in criminality – and that criminality is obviously giving those rivals a significant competitive advantage in getting big stories. What more reason could he have asked for to expose hacking in the Mirror? Not only would it have been a public service, but it would also have been extremely good for business. 

Yet still Morgan did not do it, and so by his silence and inactivity he enabled the hackers. 

There you have it. Merely on the evidence of his own words, and without taking any account of the great volume of evidence about Morgan and hacking that has been brought forward by other people, it is very clear he has a lot to be ashamed of.

Finally, what might Piers Morgan say if he was forced to account for all this? He might well take the same line he tried on the judge at the Leveson Inquiry – that he never really knew about hacking, he just heard industry rumours. The judge didn’t believe him (he said on page 613 of his report that the evidence ‘clearly proved’ Morgan knew it was happening), and anyway that’s not a defence. He was an editor,  and the responsibility of editors, when they hear rumours about criminal activity, is to go out and establish whether they are true. Otherwise they are just covering it up. 
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Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is beyond insulting. That’s deliberate

By: Yousef Munayyer

US proposals always treat Palestinians as second-class citizens. But this time Trump has said the quiet part out loud, and it’s ugly indeed.

Palestinians have been ‘offered’ a truncated and dismembered archipelago of Bantustans connected by bridges and tunnels and subservient to the Israeli state.
 Palestinians have been ‘offered’ a truncated and dismembered archipelago of Bantustans connected by bridges and tunnels and subservient to the Israeli state. Photograph: Mahmoud Illean/AP

This week Donald Trump, in the company of the scandal-mired Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, finally released his long-promoted vision for “peace” between Israelis and Palestinians. The plan itself was unsurprising, and consistent with the Trump administration’s Middle East policies and the personnel in charge of executing them.

In the US president’s vision, which might as well have been drawn up by Netanyahu himself, Palestinians are “offered” a truncated and dismembered archipelago of Bantustans connected by bridges and tunnels and subservient to the Israeli state, which will retain security control over the entirety of the land. The Israelis will keep all of Jerusalem. No Palestinian refugees will be able to return to their homes.

But wait, there’s more! Palestinians will only receive this sorry excuse for an offer, which fails to meet even basic human rights, once they satisfy several conditions “proving” they are ready for statehood.

To call this a nonstarter would be to glorify it with negotiation language it doesn’t deserve. The “offer” is little more than a calculated insult, oozing with the most colonial-minded racism, and cynically designed to elicit a rejection.

What is most striking to me about Trump’s plan, however, is not how different it is from previous American and western proposals, but rather how similar it is. Members of the peace process industry might object over the nuances, percentages of land swaps, and so on, but in the final analysis the Trump plan is born of the same bankrupt principle underlying all other American and western proposals regarding Palestine for the last hundred years: the rights of Palestinians, both individually and collectively, are inferior to the rights of Jewish Israelis in the land.

Time and again, western proposals have divided, dismembered and discarded Palestinians in an effort to gerrymander a Jewish majority

It is this principle that leads Trump and others before him to support policies and plans in which the Palestinian entity will never have true or equal sovereignty, where the rights of Palestinian refugees are ignored, where the equality of Palestinian citizens of Israel is easily and quietly dismissed. Trump’s plan is merely the latest iteration, fashioned around the current realities on the ground – themselves conditions created by Israel and supported by the United States.

For a century, western powers, formerly led by Britain and now by the US, have shaped their policy toward Palestine in deference to the demands of Zionism. Time and again, western proposals have divided, dismembered and discarded Palestinians in an effort to gerrymander a Jewish majority in a land that has historically been overwhelmingly populated by Palestinians. There is no amount of negotiation, no slick diplomacy, no cadre of state department bureaucrats that can turn this racist principle into a formula for peace.

Like much of what Trump has done during his time in office, this proposal says the quiet part out loud. So obvious is the contempt for Palestinians, so blatant is the racism, that even people who previously supported proposals based on the same dehumanizing principle are growing visibly uncomfortable.

Of course, in the unlikely event Trump’s plan for neo-apartheid finally forces much-needed introspection and a re-evaluation of US policy toward Palestine it will be an important turning point in history.

The path to peace must be based on principles of justice for all and not inequality. The Palestinians, a population struggling and surviving under decades of Israeli oppression, must be centred in the conversation and not watching from outside the room as decisions that affect their lives are made by others. We, as Americans, must recognize Palestinians’ full humanity, and wrestle with our complicity in denying it for so many decades.

Trump has laid bare his malicious vision. This is an opportunity for progressives, liberals and people of conscience, including leaders in Congress, to take a stand. Will they stand on the side of apartheid, or will they work to dismantle it with both word and deed? History will record the choices made. Those looking to make a difference can begin by demanding an end to American financing of Israel’s military.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Middle EastComments Off on Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is beyond insulting. That’s deliberate

20,000 ISRAELI CHILDREN TAKEN FROM HOME SAYS KNESSET AND WE DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM

bY: Marianne Azizi

20,000 Israeli children taken from home says Knesset and we don't know what happened to them

Whilst activists against welfare are now in prison, the State announced the doubling of children taken from home annually.

The Ministry of Welfare denied it.  The government ignored it.  Social workers pressed charges and claims against activists for exposing them and preventing them from carrying out their duties faithfully.

But the parents knew.  Gag orders prevented the general public in Israel of knowing just how deep the problem is.  Snatching 80% of children from home unnecessarily.

Amnon Levy revealed in 2016 the ‘business of children’.  It was finally proven with papers on a documentary that a child generated $5000 per month for institutions, and needy parents left with nothing – not even their children.

It is reported that every single year 100 children are adopted without trace-ability.

We do not know what is happening with the children we have taken out of the house in order to save


In addition, welfare officials admitted that a tender for the position of child complaints commissioner, which is supposed to provide a response to thousands of children who were removed from their homes and whose appointment was decided by law, is still in the tender process.


MK Shasha Biton: “Some children are afraid to tell the story, those who are already told are silenced. They feel that it is not really what they feel, because because they were taken away from home is what they will always feel. My feeling is that maybe we are not all the way there to understand what the child feels. “

Representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs noted that at any given moment there are approximately 9,000 children in out-of-home settings, not including youth protection frameworks, and about 10,000 in the boarding schools of the director of educational settlements, which doubles the number.


Professor Esther Herzog, Aliyah:
 “I served as a foster family for a number of years, it was a total failure, the girl came to places that do not want to reach them, there is a system that promises failure, it can not succeed. , It does not change, and the very fact that the child spends from home is the failure. “

MK Shasha Biton: “It’s not black and white. There are children who took them out of the house because of severe abuse, they seek to save us. It is true that one has to go to a place of more treatment within the community, and this happens, but there are places where it is saving lives. We have to correct the flaws in the existing framework. ““We do not really know what’s going on in those institutions,” says Herzog, “we have to say that there is a lobby of institutions that ensures that there will always be enough quotas for children, only 20 percent find children because of sexual and violent abuse, The rest is due to neglect, and here the problem is, there are other routes inside the house.”

Lawyers working in Juvenile know exactly what is happening to the children in the institutions.  They are gagged from publishing the facts: drugging of children, abuse, prison like environments, and parents put on ‘trial’ to prove they are fit, and mostly always were, to raise their children.

Taking children away just because of financial difficulties, whilst filling institutions at a cost of $5000 per child per month is child abuse.  

“Esther Herzog is correct” says one juvenile lawyer.  “Once a child is taken from parents, in those crucial first days or weeks, the damage is done, and a child can be damaged for life.  Social Services take many children with an ex parte decision and even the parents are not informed.  Children taken by police from schools or kindergartens.  Even forgetting a lunchtime sandwich or having a slightly untidy look can result in children being taken from parents.”

Testimony of girl held 3 years

Children talk of rooms where they are isolated when they cry, often suffering ‘holdings’, where a number of adults, (some children confirm 5) who hold them down on the floor and sit on them. The bare facts are gagged at Supreme Court levels, leaving children alone, helpless and feeling their lives are over.  The above video cannot been seen in Israel.

Parents and lawyers cannot enter private institutions or emergency shelters, but the similar accounts from children prove there is an unacceptable abuse with impunity.

“The children speak when they realize that someone wants to hear. Children I represent for the third time ask me, ‘But you are right ?, you are mine.’ In their world there are a lot of factors, all with good intentions but none of them, no one sees only them. No matter how we get the standard, the child needs a person to trust. 

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on 20,000 ISRAELI CHILDREN TAKEN FROM HOME SAYS KNESSET AND WE DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM

Dead on Arrival: Dissecting Trump’s Vision for the Future of Palestine

What used to be an idea expressed by only the most extreme right-wing Zionists, namely ridding Israel of its Palestinian citizens, is now part of a “peace” plan and has been given the rubber stamp of the United States government, writes Miko Peled.

Trump Mideast Peace Plan Feature photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump announce their so-called Mideast Peace Plan in an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2020. Alex Brandon AP

by Miko Peled

Now that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed the details of the so-called Deal of the Century, the only appropriate response is a bold, well-defined plan which offers a real solution to the ongoing colonization of Palestine. To be viable, the alternative plan will need to include at least three vital elements: A total and unequivocal rejection of Zionism and the State of Israel, a plan by which Palestine will transition from an apartheid state to a democratic country and immediate implementation of the Palestinian right of return. 

Zionism, fascism and apartheid 

Zionism is a racist ideology that produced a dangerous, violent and racist regime. Like fascism and apartheid before it, Zionism must be denounced clearly and unequivocally. In an interview from 1984 with Palestinian leader the late Dr. George Habash, Habash explains why peace cannot coexist with Zionism, he says, among other things, that “Israel is the embodiment of Zionism” and “Zionism is fascism.”

In a piece published in Hebrew in the online publication, Mekomit, writer and activist Orly Noy writes that demographic engineering has been a foundation of Zionism since Israel was first established. Noy says that the BALAD party, an Israeli political party with a platform that calls for democracy and equality for all in the most unambiguous terms, is portrayed in Israel as extremist and even as “supporting terrorism.” This, Noy says, is because Zionism is inherently incapable of accepting the basic idea of granting citizenship to Palestinians.

Well-funded public relations campaigns have succeeded in painting what is inherently a racist ideology as heroic and even romantic. This campaign has gained Zionism a great deal of support and respect in the United States. At the same time, Palestinians and their leaders are labeled as terrorists unless they agree to stop fighting for their rights and capitulate to their colonizers.

A Spectacle at the White House

The spectacle that took place at the White House on January 28 ought to have been titled, “The Impeached and The Indicted,” or “How to Save Your Hide.” It was a crowning moment for all who believe that racism, money and violence should come before justice, freedom and equality.

Trying to address the content of this plan, which by the way is titled, “Peace to Prosperity,” would be a waste of time. It would be much wiser to spend time and energy on implementing a real solution to the question of Palestine. It is, however, important to read because it does offer a view into the broader aims of the State of Israel. 

Jerusalem

Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, are obsessed with biblical narratives because they are, for all intents and purposes, one of the only tools they can use to legitimize their abuse of Palestinian human rights. Historically speaking, Jews did not control Jerusalem for any significant amount of time, and others made most of the contributions to the city. In its section on Jerusalem, Trump’s plan states:

The State of Israel has been a good custodian of Jerusalem. During Israel’s stewardship, it has kept Jerusalem open and secure.

One has to wonder by what standard this custodianship was measured. How has Israel been a good custodian of Jerusalem? The city is segregated, and various communities, even Jewish ones, are hostile to each other. You will not find an Israeli Jew living in the Shuafat refugee camp, for example, or Isawiya or any other Palestinian neighborhoods for that matter. With very few exceptions, one will never find a Palestinian living in an Israeli-Jewish area of the city.

Israel Jerusalem

Israeli police shove a Palestinian woman in Jerusalem after they entered the al-Aqsa Mosque to “prevent Arab youths from attacking visiting Jews.” Photo | AP

For many decades now, Jerusalem has subjected to a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. Entire Palestinian neighborhoods have been emptied of their residents and subsequently leveled to the ground. The city’s indigenous populations, including the majority of non-Jewish Palestinians and a minority of Ultra-Orthodox religious Jews, are disenfranchised, impoverished and the discrimination against them is striking. Millions of Palestinians wishing to pray in Jerusalem are prohibited from entering the city at all, and those who do come are subjected to humiliating measures under the guise of security.

Gaza

Gaza has tremendous potential but is currently held hostage by Hamas… Significant improvements for the people in Gaza will not occur until there is a ceasefire with Israel, the full demilitarization of Gaza and a governance structure that allows the international community to safely and comfortably put new money into investments that will not be destroyed by predictable future conflicts.

Historically, Gaza has been a prosperous city, known as a center for commerce and learning. In the time since, Israel has turned it into little more than an open-air prison and the conditions of that prison are getting worse by the day. 

The claim that Hamas is holding Gaza hostage is interesting but not authentic. The navy ships, the air force bombers, artillery batteries and infantry battalions that bomb Gaza regularly and force Palestinians to remain in the Gaza strip do not belong to Hamas; they are all Israeli. 

The demand that Palestinians in Gaza disarm before there are guarantees for their safety and liberty is unrealistic at best. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are subjected to a slow and painful death by a variety of means, including a lack of water, nutrition, and medicine. Yet, demands are being made that they cease to struggle against their oppressors.

The Palestinian Communities of 1948

In what must have come as a shock to many, if not most of those who have read the Trump plan, is that it includes a frightening section about the future of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In 1948, the Zionist leadership and militias did not intend for Palestinians to remain in what became Israel. Throughout the years, Israel has made several attempts to force them to leave through massacres like Kafr Qassem, intimidation, and blatantly discriminatory laws, yet with little success. 

Here is what the Trump plan says about Palestinian citizens of Israel:

The Triangle Communities consist of Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baha al-Gharbiyye, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljulia. These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated. The Vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine.

What used to be an idea expressed by only the most extreme right-wing Zionists, namely ridding Israel of its Palestinian citizens, is now part of a “peace” plan and has been given the rubber stamp of the United States government. The communities mentioned in this passage, and many others besides them, have been subjected to land confiscation to a point that neither agriculture nor population growth is possible. Wide roads and comfortable housing in Jewish-only colonies have been built on the lands of these communities while they are simultaneously prohibited from building and cultivating.

Refugees and the right of return

The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement shall provide for a complete end and release of any and all claims relating to refugee or immigration status. There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.

One of the three demands made by the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, known more commonly as BDS, is the implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Five million Palestinians languish in inhumane conditions in and around Palestine only because Israel does not allow them to return to their homeland.

Gaza Palestine Poverty

A Palestinian man and his son warm themselves by a fire during cold, rainy weather in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza, Jan. 5, 2018. Khalil Hamra | AP

The United States has adopted the long-held Zionist narrative that places the blame for the refugee issue on other countries. What must be made absolutely and unequivocally clear is that Israel holds the responsibility for creating the refugee problem and must allow, and pay for, its remedy. 

A great deal has been said and written about this issue and few expected that Trump’s plan wouldn’t absolve Israel of its responsibility. Yet an appropriate response to this plan remains a dedicated campaign demanding the implementation of the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

A final note of humiliation

Each Palestinian city boasts its own unique trademark dishes and flavors, from Ramallah’s rukab ice cream to the famed knafeh of Nablus. Together, these attractions, among many others, endow the West Bank and Gaza with rich potential tourism opportunities. 

One is encouraged to know that President Trump’s son in law has heard of Palestinian ice cream and sweets. It seems that he has even Kushner knows that “the West Bank and Gaza are endowed with the potential for tourism.” However, Palestine is a naturally beautiful and historically fascinating country and there is far more than sweets and ice cream that make it a great tourist destination. 

What is holding back tourism in Palestine and the Palestinian economy, in general, isn’t the fact that people haven’t heard of knafeh. The underlying cause of poverty and unemployment is Israel and the economics of apartheid that is has put in place. Tourists are encouraged, and often given no choice, but to spend their money in Israel rather than in Palestinian shops and hotels. 

From El-Jaleel in the north to the Naqab in the south, and from the Dead Sea in the East to the Mediterranean coast on the West, Palestine is a tourist haven. Palestinian hospitality is well known and appreciated by all who have experienced it and Palestinians do not need handouts and patronizing from Donald Trump. 

Furthermore, Palestinians possess one of the highest literacy rates in the world. They do not need to be lectured by Israel and the United States, two governments characterized by racism and violence. 

Time will tell how the election campaigns of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump will be affected by their latest stunt. What is clear is that the reality for Palestinians will not improve until Zionism is condemned, a roadmap to a democratic free Palestine is put in place, and refugees are allowed to return to their homeland.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Dead on Arrival: Dissecting Trump’s Vision for the Future of Palestine

Stop Apartheid

Image result for TRUMP IN NAZI UNIFORM CARTOON

Photo by shoah.org.uk

Two days ago, US President Donald Trump released his long-anticipated “Deal of the Century,” a proposal that bolsters the position of Israeli politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz while failing to address the root cause of the issue – settler-colonialism and structural inequality. Rather, this plan further entrenches both flaws by prioritizing Israeli hegemony, sovereignty, and ethnocracy at the expense of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, security, democracy, and access to resources. Palestinian civil society has made its collective rejection of this “peace” plan clear through protest and a resounding refusal to continue to accept another conception of the future which fails to secure individual and collective needs and rights.

Trump’s “peace” plan includes extending Israeli sovereignty over the principal settlements throughout the West Bank and the Jordan Valley – the fertile region of Historic Palestine. Palestinian spaces would, in effect, turn into bantustans, joined by bridges (or a 25 mile long tunnel, connecting Gaza to a disjointed West Bank), over which Israeli security would reign supreme despite any pretense of an independent Palestinian state. This, like other “peace” proposals which have come before it, illustrates the settler-colonial mentality present in those making these proposals. This mentality leads to endless claims that one group of people’s right to “security” supersedes another group’s claims to the most basic of human rights, including safety. We at GSC reject this notion, rooted in the knowledge that we are all equal and thus deserve the same opportunities and access to rights, freedoms, and resources without privilege to one ethnicity, religion, race, sex, orientation, or based on any other arbitrary feature.

On the other hand, this proposal highlights a shortcoming of our own movements of justice: the continued belief that citing international bodies of law and the organizations intended to uphold them will bring about radical change. While many cling to the hope of rights, protections, and decisions outlined in international law and United Nations decisions (and rightly so to a certain extent, as they outline the minimal guarantees we should all enjoy), it is important to acknowledge that international mechanisms based on state sovereignty and the expectation that politicians will hold each other accountable for violations are simply not expressed in practice.

We cannot simply continue to react, to be on the defensive – we must shift our approach to be more proactive, choose reasonable targets, and change the law to protect all of our interests, rather than privilege some of us over others. In order to mobilize for change, we must remember our own power as organizers on the ground, sharing our resources among grassroots networks and building diverse coalitions usher in the future we all deserve.

As an organization based in the South Hebron Hills, where many of the most heinous acts of indigenous elimination occur, GSC is grounded in the belief that unless our plans for justice center decolonization and an equal priority for the rights of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, they will not work toward any lasting peace. We will continue to mobilize rooted in this knowledge, and call on our local and international partners to join us in working toward real justice for all people.

As we move forward into 2020, methodically building our coalition on the ground and international networks, we ask you to make sure you stay connected by following us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

As you see how crucial it is to develop alternative models to nonviolent resistance outside of the current NGO model, we hope that you will invest $5, $,10 or $20 dollars a month. If you are a US citizen and want to make a tax-deductible contribution, you can do it through this link. If you are a UK citizen and want to utilize GiftAid, you can do so through this link. For all other donation types, you can use this link here.

In solidarity, Cody

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Stop Apartheid

Gaza’s generation blockade: young lives in the ‘world’s largest prison’

Anger and frustration for generation of Palestinians who have spent their entire lives in the fenced-off territory

Khaled al-Nairab collecting fresh water.

Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha 

Cruising south along Israel’s coastal highway, there are almost no signs that you are approaching Gaza. Two million people live trapped on a thin slice of land along the Mediterranean, but someone could easily drive right past and miss it altogether.

For visitors to the strip, restricted mainly to diplomats, aid workers and journalists, the last stop in Israel is a service station, where Red Sea-bound tourists and commuters sip lattes and eat chocolate croissants at an American-style coffeehouse. Walking back to their cars, they may glimpse the only hint of Gaza’s existence – a white orb high in the southern sky, a tethered surveillance balloon that provides the Israeli army with a 24-hour overhead view of the enclave.

Down a lonely road past green fields, the Erez crossing, the only land route for people going in and out of Gaza from Israel, resembles a disused airport terminal. Inside, only a couple of counters are open. Once past passport control, a turnstile cuts through a concrete wall leading to 900-metre caged walkway before emerging into what its residents call the world’s largest prison.

Israelis are replaced with Palestinians. Freshly paved roads with bright white markings are replaced with sand-swept tracks, crumbling under the sun. Shimmering cars are replaced with juddering rickshaws and wooden donkey carts.

Khaled al-Nairab, a 22-year-old from Gaza City, has another phrase to describe the territory: “A cemetery of talent”.

He is from a generation of Gazans, now finishing their education, who have spent their entire lives in the fenced-off territory. Unlike their parents, who will remember a time when thousands of Palestinians worked in Israel, very few have met an Israeli.

Their lives have been blighted by three major conflicts with Israel, regular battles between Israel and Gaza’s rulers, Hamas, and infighting between Palestinian factions. Nairab and his peers are thrust into in an economy with more than 70% youth unemployment, a healthcare system that has collapsed, and a society in which people drink poisonous water and face relentless power cuts.

Israel and Egypt, Gaza’s other neighbour, have maintained a crippling blockade, locals say “siege”, on goods going into the 25-mile-long territory. Israel, which recalled its forces occupying the area in 2005, says the restrictions are for its security. But the UN says the blockade constitutes collective punishment.

It is this life that has driven tens of thousands to protest along the Israeli frontier each Friday for almost a year, throwing rocks and bottles of burning petrol in vain at Israeli soldiers on the other side. The protests have called for an easing of the blockade and also the right of return for Palestinians to ancestral homes in Israel. The Israeli army has responded by shooting more than 6,000 people and killing at least 180.

Nairab understands why people so willingly risk everything. Like most in Gaza, he comes from a family of refugees who fled from or were expelled from their homes around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948.

He wrote poetry at a young age, leading him to rap. Now, about to graduate from a multimedia course, he faces listless Gazan life. “Imagine going somewhere every day at the same time, meeting the same people. If you want to travel for any reason, you cannot.”

Khaled al-Nairab collecting fresh water.
 Khaled al-Nairab collecting fresh water. Photograph: The Guardian

On the surface, Nairab can live a life of his choosing in between rounds of bombings. He sleeps at his friend’s apartment, wakes up late, drinks Coke and edits music videos, looks for a rare paying job, records rap songs in a small downtown studio when he has spare cash, plays pool. But like all young people in Gaza, he has no real control over his life as the blockade affects even the simplest task.

What is available to buy in Gaza changes on the whims of what Israel and Egypt allow. When protesters began burning tyres, Israel restricted them and prices went up threefold. During the worst weeks, batteries are unobtainable.

Transferring money in or out of the territory governed by Hamas, which the US designates a terrorist organisation, is extremely difficult. Even the local currency is controlled by Israel, with shekels still in circulation. Tattered notes are held together with tape as fresh cash is rarely brought in. Meanwhile, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority cut civil servant salaries to punish its political rival.

Older people remember a time when there were rubbish trucks. Now, with restrictions on vehicle imports, many neighbourhoods have horse-drawn carts to pick up the stinking waste. Gaza also used to have cinemas, but trees now grow in their aisles. And while the blockade or ineffectual Hamas authorities cannot take away the stunning beach, a broken sewage system means the water is too dirty to swim in. Much of the fish is farmed on land.

Among all this, Nairab reads pdf books as importing them is difficult. He raps about Gaza’s problems, but needs to be careful as Hamas gives little space for critical voices and its strict Islamist ideology rarely permits public concerts.

“Look, I’m a rapper, I cannot sing about all subjects … I cannot stand in the street with a mic and speakers and start singing.”

He has friends who absconded across to Egypt through underground tunnels, which have since been destroyed, and then paid smugglers to take them to Europe by boat. That is too risky for him but he understands why people escape.

Frontier rallies will not save Gaza, he believes. “The mistake is not demonstrating, but the way of protesting. You are defenceless in front of a soldier carrying a weapon,” he says. “In the end, my price to them is just the price of a bullet.”

Palestinian protesters throw stones during clashes with the Israeli army on the border.
 Palestinian protesters throw stones during clashes with the Israeli army on the border. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Ghadeer Ayoub, a 27-year-old aspiring beautician, shares his outlook. “Instead of sending these kids to their death, we should teach them about their rights. Their right to live,” she says. The protests began on 30 March 2018 as a six-week campaign, but have continued well beyond that date.

Ayoub spoke at a coffee shop in Gaza Capital Mall, a three-storey shopping centre with squeaky clean floors, and stores selling clothes that mirror the latest Turkish styles. Occasionally, there’s even a BMW parked outside. For the few in Gaza with a little bit of income, the indoor plaza, opened in 2017, is a step towards a life they may expect elsewhere in the region.

Ayoub has moments when she forgets what she sees as the uniquely cruel trap for Gaza’s residents. But realisation bites at unexpected moments. One day, she was perusing videos on the internet and found one of a talented chef in Istanbul. Impressed, she showed the film to her father, thinking he might enjoy it. But his expression saddened. “He said: ‘We are not truly living here.’”

Life is further constricted by societal restrictions on women, she says. “I want to run in the street, but I can’t. Sometimes I wait until there is a storm, when the streets are almost empty, just so I can run on the beach.”

Hassan Zyada, a psychologist in Gaza, says: “People feel they are living in an uncontrollable environment. There is a feeling of powerlessness, helplessness and hopelessness.” In some cases, he adds, patients experience intense pain with no discernible cause.

The huge number of injuries from the recent protests has exacerbated a looming mental health crisis, but Zyada says Palestinians in Gaza need, from a mental health perspective, to feel they have agency.

“Engagement in a struggle, it’s very important psychologically. You cannot be a passive victim. Psychologically, you need self-respect, you need self-esteem,” he says.

Israel’s army blames the bloodshed at the frontier on Hamas. A bullet shot from inside Gaza has killed one soldier. Israeli forces have also bombed groups launching balloons and kites attached to flaming cans of petrol that burn farms on the other side.

Mohammed Wadiya limps down the street in Gaza City. The 29-year-old was a taxi driver who got “caught up in the emotion” and joined in the protests last May. Throwing stones, he eventually made it to the fence, where an Israel sniper shot him in the calf.

Wadiya sold his car and now moves around with metal rods in his leg. “I was a hero,” he says, “but after the first week, nobody cared about me.” The whole movement was “a lie”, he says.

Asked what he would have done if he made it through, he replies casually: “I would beat soldiers.” What about civilians? “Anybody,” he says. “They are the occupier.”

Over several months of interviews in Gaza, protesters have given different answers. They say they want to cross into Israel merely so they could stand on ancestral land. Others have run up to the fence and cut it or hoisted a Palestinian flag. In some cases, individuals have lobbed explosives to rip the wire apart. When one group made it across, they ran around hysterically before returning.

Still, Zyada, the psychologist, is not shocked by Wadiya’s answer. He sees Gazan life for young people as is one of continuing trauma. The result for some, as he understands it, is clear: “Life becomes meaningless.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Gaza’s generation blockade: young lives in the ‘world’s largest prison’

How Privilege and Woke Politics are Destroying the Left

by JULIAN VIGO

I was a Slack group for gender critical academics in the UK started by a UK feminist who has become known over the past 18 months for her critique of gender identity. The inception of this group seemed promising. Or rather, that is until this individual and several others within the group took it upon themselves to malign women who were doing political activism in the US whereafter I wrote an article here about the toxicity and elitist politics taking place in the heart of feminist circles.

The defamation was astonishing to witness as it put into the crosshairs feminists who were not operating from the safety of academic tenure and enacted gross misrepresentations of these women who felt the fallout of these attacks for months. And since this attack took place largely on Twitter, the pile-on effect was pronounced as the shit was stirred for weeks even if the posh feminists quickly pretended they had nothing to do with the ensuing political goulash they alone concocted. In response to having written the article, I was kicked out of the group as I was informed via email. So much for academic discussions that allow for diverse, even non-woke, positions.

Over the past year, I have seen this kind of dynamic repeated hundreds of times spiral out of control within Facebook groups and Twitter. Indeed, it seems in 2020 that it far better to bring to discussions a witty one-liner rather than take your interlocutor seriously and engage in calm and respectful debate. Instead of listening and agreeing disagreeably as the saying goes, social media is awash in individuals attempting to one-up the next person through either engaging in woke or privilege politics. While these two are inter-related, they do function independently as well.

Privilege politics functions like this: you act in bad faith with your interlocutor claiming that the fact that this person is male, white, married, or heterosexual, for instance, he cannot possibly be anything other than a caricature of something you have alone created. Are males really incapable of grasping sexism because they are inherently engineered to grope women? Are light-skinned people really unable to understand the experiences of immigration and are themselves always and forever racist? And are feminists who do not kowtow to a another form of gender wokeism necessarily part of the far-right, thus deserving of maligning?

Such tactics have become a “thing” of the left in recent years. Assuming your interlocutor shouldn’t be allowed to express herself because you disagree with her position is the beginning and end of totalitarian dogma whereby only those who parrot your every thought are welcome to participate in critical reflection. The bad news is that the wokerati are everywhere on the left—from environmentalists to feminists to anti-racist activists—and they are reminding us every second of the day that someone, somewhere is wrong and should be stopped, fired, kicked out of a group and worse. It’s almost as if the wokerati are a new band of right-wing intolerants recycled from the era of the Moral Majority. Instead of preaching about the “evil” of Robert Mapplethorpe’s homoerotic representations of of black and white bodies in the 1980’s, the new generation of the morally woke is here to point out every wrong move and utterance that oppositional voices offer. The high church of what “is a bad look” is inevitably measured against the larger barometer of how evil your interlocutor is based on sex, ethnicity, class and any other paradigm that can be pulled out of a hat to spin into that individual’s fundamental nefariousness. Hell, just accuse your interlocutor of having a Tommy Robinson avatar despite any truth to the claim or call someone a “thick feck.” Argument “won,” right?

Between the maligning of the other based on mischaracterization or their perceived privilege and the simultaneous slewing of woke narrative of what is wrong and right while maintaining that no other positions are worthy of being heard least we redeem Nazism, we are living in an era of neo-puritanism. While we have seen a plethora of op-eds critiquing woke and purity culture in recent weeks, little light has been shed upon how the leftist politics of privilege and wokeness operate to create a hermetic political culture which very much replicates much of the rhetoric of the right from years earlier.

Privilege politics operates through the constant attempt to undermine any kind of meaningful political dialogue through delegitimizing the other, because of their sex, skin color, class, and so forth, rendering their person as part of the problem. Enter wokeness stage left where privilege posturing segues into the narrative of the moral observer: this subject who has taken down the other personally then assails their interlocutor by assuming an unattainable ideal of wokeness by arguing that others cannot possibly attain this level of clarity given their moral standing on X subject. It’s the perfect formula to silence debate, to maintain the speakers virtue and in the end to inflame Twitter wars over issues that most are reacting to without having invested the time and energy to verify facts and separate them from the innumerable orbiting fictions.

Now, I have to confess that I have been without a solid source of internet for months and as a result I have spent far less time on social media which has lent me some healthy perspective on how social media functions to feed the ego (like my comment) while sanitizing the terrain of those who object with our ideas (block and mute are the BFFs to most). It’s a great micro-world where we allow ourselves to obsess over our every political ideal while we bask in the likes and mute anyone who disagrees with us. It almost perfection—a type of virtual life insurance plan against the fast-approaching winds of dissent. Except it’s anything but perfect as virtuality is merely a mutation of the real world where people actually do disagree without calling up the employers of their dissenters to demand that they be fired. In the real world we are forced to sit with disagreement even if we choose to remain silent. The stuff of reality that is increasingly evident in its important to our collective social sanity is the part about accepting the disorder and contentiousness of reality. Virtuality is a fake space where can superficiality turn off all white noise and label this superficial calm as consensus.

Who would have imagined a time where social messaging would have gained a momentum of lightening speed where millions of political and social messages can be posted daily all thanks to the speed of fibre optic cable together with more recent tech innovations such as SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networks)? According to one political commentator, “Twitter is where the people who care the most spend their time” and “where cultural kingmakers congregate” all through the microbursts of public commentary which is overwhelmingly instantaneous, even misinformed. In this era of king-makers where every social media bubble is cause to fawn over one’s latest social media hero, wit, one-liners and sarcasm are key to being able to deftly avoid any sort of dialogue. Rarely do we witness people hashing out differences on Twitter with most interactions ending acrimoniously. Still, the technological speed of the internet is not the guilty party behind the ills of how humans have utilized this technology to create tribes within an ostensibly open forum. We enter into this space of endless possibilities and we block everyone we disagree with out resulting in a virtual world of where connectivity uniquely depends upon agreement, never dissent. How anti-democratic can we aspire to be?

With the recent tumult over American Dirt, the novel by Jeanine Cummins which has been attacked on Twitter for “cultural appropriation,” we are witnessing the dangerous ground where surveillance of fictional authenticity is weighted against the skin color and background of a writer. Forget that novelists like Sandra Cisneros and Ann Patchett along with celebrities Gina Rodriguez and Salma Hayek support this literary work or that Oprah Winfrey praises this novel which she has included in her book club. Does the ethnic heritage of Cummins’ work merit such vituperation given that the work ought to be at the focus of literary appraisal, not the writer’s ethnicity?

And on the other side of the Atlantic you have the Laurence Fox debacle where—sit down for this one—Bonnie Greer dared to meet with Fox to discuss the events of the past fortnight in the UK. Not missing a beat, Greer took to Twitter to thank Fox for meeting up in the British Museum to which many critics responded, one accusing Greer of effectively being an Uncle Tom: “The disrespect you have shown the Black British arts community with this. Enough. Don’t know who you think you are helping here but it is not us. Maybe yourself and the platforms you are given by white middle class liberals who use you to feel better about themselves.” Certainly, the person who tweeted, “The idea that black people have to talk and educate (white) people that we have a right to be treated equally in society is exhausting” is correct. But unless we sit down and discuss with those on the other side of the aisle, we will never progress our humanity and remain hermetically sealed in the bubble of adoration and sycophantism.

There is only one way out of this political black hole the use of such weak political devices to avoid actual dialogue is the surrogate to having actual discussions with those on the other side of the aisle from us. We will get nowhere by pretending that everyone who disagrees with us is “cosying up to the conservative right.” We need to change our tactics and how we interact in the world politically and this change must begin with having good faith discussions that are not steeped in wokeism or privilege games.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on How Privilege and Woke Politics are Destroying the Left

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