Archive | February 20th, 2020

The Unbreakable Bond of Ireland and Palestine

Among European nations, Ireland has been one of the most vocal in its support of the Palestinian national struggle

By Creede Newton

Global Research,

In December, a wave of support for the recognition of a Palestinian state swept over Europe, culminating in the European Parliament’s (EP) vote on a motion that expressed support for an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a continuation of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The motion, largely symbolic, passed with 498 EU parliamentarians voting in favour, 88 voting against, and 111 abstaining.

While it does not require any concrete action on the part of any European Union (EU) member state, certain EU member states, such as Sweden and Ireland, have taken steps towards formal recognition of Palestine.

Ireland in particular has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. The origins of this solidarity come down to both the similarities and differences between the Irish and Palestinian national struggles.

‘Colonised people’

“The Irish people, as a colonised people living for centuries under British occupation, have instinctively identified with freedom struggles across the globe,” Gerry Adams, Irish republican and president of Sinn Féin, the largest Irish nationalist party in both the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland that still belong to the United Kingdom (UK), told Middle East Eye.

The entangled history of the UK and Ireland began in the 12th century, when Norman invaders reached the island. In 1541, the English parliament formally declared that English King Henry VIII was also the king of Ireland.

That was the beginning of several centuries of English and Scottish Protestants migrating to the majority Catholic island and taking power from the indigenous population. This set the stage for sectarian conflict that would flare up over the course of the following years.

In the second half of the 19th century, nationalist movements began picking up steam and by 1922, the Green Island was split into 26 counties that were to be ruled from Dublin as part of an independent Ireland, and six that would be ruled from Belfast, still part of the UK.

In the late 1960s, the conflict known as “The Troubles” began, with militants seeking the reunification of Ireland attacking military and civilian targets, and the British army and Protestant militants responding in kind. Adams himself recounted his own memories of political activism and protest for the reunification of Ireland, and against apartheid South Africa, in the 1960s.

Speaking critically of the current Israeli government, he said their “strategies and actions are aimed at imposing an apartheid system on Arab-Israeli citizens; extending the occupation through the building of settlements in the occupied territories, as well as the separation wall; and physically and politically dividing Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza and the refugee camps in other states.”

The current state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also troubles him, he said. In December, Israel denied Adams entry to the besieged Gaza Strip, and upon his return to Ireland, he was “deeply worried”.

“I am particularly concerned at the approach of the international community,” he told MEE, “which fails to hold the Israeli government to account for its actions and its breaches of international law.”

The role of prisoners

In Ireland, prisoners jailed by the British played “an important role”, according to Adams, and Palestinian prisoners play an important role, too.

But Gavan Kelley, the advocacy unit coordinator of Ramallah-based Addameer, a non-governmental human rights group that focuses on political and civil rights issues in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially those of prisoners, thinks that those imprisoned in Israeli jails can play an even greater role.

“Overall [Addameer] is in a very difficult situation. We want to get to a stage where prisoners are playing a role in ending the conflict,” he told MEE. “That’s the exact opposite of what’s happening now.”

As of October 2014, there were approximately 6,500 Palestinian prisoners, including roughly 500 administrative detainees—those who are held in Israeli prisons without charge. Their six-month sentences can be renewed indefinitely by judges on the basis of “secret” evidence.

Other than prominent Palestinian leaders, such as Ahmad Saadat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, most prisoners serve their sentences in silence.

Kelley says that prisoners “are being completely excluded and used as political bargaining chips” in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority.

The human rights of prisoners in Israeli jails are routinely violated, Kelley said, much like those of Irish prisoners during the conflict with the UK.  “You have daily rights violations of the prisoners. Medical negligence, malnourishment, nightly raids by the Israeli forces,” he said.

Kelley echoed Sinn Féin’s leader in saying that prisoners were instrumental in ending the conflict.

“If you look at Ireland and South Africa,” Kelley said, “prisoners played a central role in ending those conflicts.”

But looking at the current situation in the Holy Land,

“the political conditions that brought an end to the conflicts in Ireland and South Africa are nowhere near existing here in Palestine,” Kelley concluded.

United Efforts

Meanwhile, many Palestinians are grateful for international solidarity, which some view as instrumental in their own struggle.

“International solidarity is vital for more than one reason,” Najwan Berekdar, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and activist, told MEE.

“Not only that gives hope for the Palestinians to continue their struggle knowing they have support, but it also brings our struggles closer together, as we have been learning new tactics which were used by colonised people everywhere.”

The popular techniques used by the Irish and South Africans serve to envigorate Palestinian efforts to resist Israeli occupation, have led to innovative and interesting protests, some of which, such as the “Love in the Time of Apartheid” campaign, Berekdar organised.

“This is what will affect the public opinion. And this is what will pressure Israel and its supporting governments to change their policies.”

Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege: Worldwide Solidarity this Weekend

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, IrelandComments Off on The Unbreakable Bond of Ireland and Palestine

Nazi regime confiscates school in Susiyah

Image result for school cartoon
Israel confiscates school in Susiyah

On February 19, 2020, the Israeli Civil Administration confiscated a schoolhouse from the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills. These Israeli attacks on the basic infrastructure that serves the Palestinian children of Susiya is not simply a violation of human rights, but a message to the community: Leave your village.

In 2012, the far-right Israeli NGO, Regavim, launched a public and legal campaign to advocate for the forced displacement of the indigenous inhabitants of Susiya. In June 2012, the Israeli Civil Administration  issued more than 50 demolition orders to the small Palestinian village. These demolition orders came after Regavim petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, pressuring it to declare the village a “security threat” as well as an “illegal outpost”.

This most recent confiscation represents the continuation of Regavim’s campaign to drive the local community off of their lands. Regavim has advocated for the demolition of Palestinian homes countless times. In the past, Regavim has petitioned the Israeli courts for the displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank village of Susiyah to make way for the expansion of the Israeli settlement of Susya. In 2018, they petitioned the Israeli courts to forcefully evict the Bedouin community in Khan al-Ahmar in order to advance Israeli territorial claims in “Greater” Jerusalem. In both cases, the international community, including EU diplomats, US Senators, and US State Department cautioned against these measures and in the case of Khan al Ahmar, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned that evictions of the community could constit-ute a war crime.

Regavim finances its work through the use of US-based charities. The Central Fund of Israel and Israel Independence Fund enable Regavim’s work by funneling US taxpayers’ dollars through tax-exempt donations. This happens through the two organizations’ charitable status in the United States and their fiscal sponsorship of Regavim. However, for grants to overseas entities, US Treasury and IRS regulations require  the US grantor to make an “equivalency determination” to determine if the foreign entity is functionally the same as a US nonprofit. In other words, the recipient the sponsored organization overseas – must fulfill the same requirements as non-profits in the United States. These guid-elines require that tax-exempt donations “lessen neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law, and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency”.

Given the nature of Regavim’s work and the practical outcome of their actions, we see no evidence that such a determination has been made, or in fact could be made. A minimal good faith effort on the part of the donor organizations would have made it clear that Regavim’s mandat-e runs contrary to the spirit of the laws governing charitable organiza- tions. The organizations’ failure to comply in good faith with the equi- valency determination requirement is a primary reason for its status to be revoked.

Palestinians have long raised the issue of U.S.-based charities, such as the Central Fund of Israel, and their role in financing human rights abuses and have advocated for legal pressure to enforce the application of IRS regulations.

As the Good Shepherd Collective moves forward, we are building a grassroots movement to challenge the ways that US-based nonprofits can fund human rights abuses. To this date, GSC has collected the endorsements and video testimonies of around 130 Palestinian activists to raise the call to engage this campaign to stop charitable organizations from funding Israeli settlers organizations. We’ve received the endorsem- ents of nearly 30 Palestinian villages in municipal councils as well as leading Palestinian human rights organizations. But we need your help.

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, ZIO-NAZI, Education, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi regime confiscates school in Susiyah

Zionism, Jews and gentiles

Jews and gentiles
Gilad Atzmon writes:

Early Zionism was a significant and glorious moment in Jewish history, a moment of dramatic epiphany fuelled by self-loathing. 

The early Zionists promised to save the Jews from the Jew and to liberate the Jew from the Jews. They were disgusted by the diaspora’s non-proletarian urban Jewish culture which they regarded as parasitic. They promised to bond the new Hebrews with labour and soil. They were convinced that they could transform what they saw as a greedy capitalist into a new ‘Israelite hard working peasant’. They believed that they could make the ‘international cosmopolitan’ into a nationalist patriot; they believed that they knew how to convert Soros into a kibbutznik. They were certain that it was within their capacity to make Alan Dershowitz into a Uri Avneri and Abe Foxman into a peacenik. They promised to make Jews into people like all other peoples while failing to realise that no other people really want to resemble others.

… the International Holocaust Memorial’s (IHRA) Working Definition of anti-Semitsm should be regarded as a Zionist admission that the task of making Jews a people like all other peoples has been a complete failure. No other people has so intensely and institutionally engaged in the suppression of other people’s freedom of speech.

Zionism has been successful on many fronts. It managed to form a Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous people of Palestine. The Jewish state is a wealthy ghetto and one which is internationally supported. But Israel is a state like no other. It is institutionally racist and murderous. It begs for American taxpayers’ money despite being filthy rich. Sadly, Zionism didn’t solve the Jewish problem; it just moved it to a new location. More significantly, not only did Zionism fail to heal the Jews as it had promised to do, it actually amplified the symptoms it had vowed to obliterate.

Accordingly, the International Holocaust Memorial’s (IHRA) Working Definition of anti-Semitsm should be regarded as a Zionist admission that the task of making Jews a people like all other peoples has been a complete failure. No other people has so intensely and institutionally engaged in the suppression of other people’s freedom of speech. Jewish and Zionist bodies work openly and in concert to silence every possible criticism of their state. The real reason for the fight to make the IHRA definition law is that the Zionist position on anti-Semitism is indefensible. If the Jews need a special definition of hatred against them (as opposed to a definition of hatred that includes hatred of any people based on race or religion) it proves that, at least in the eyes of the Zionists who push for the definition, Jews are somehow different.

In addition, and for quite some time, history, laws and regimes of correctness have been employed to block our access to the Jewish past. This is paradoxical, given the fact that the Zionist project is a historically-driven adventure: while Zionists often claim their right to self-determination on their so-called ‘historical land’, no one else is allowed to critically examine the Jewish historical past. The Jewish past is, instead, what Jews consider to be their past at a given moment and, as the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand suggests, this so called ‘narrative’ is often an invention. No one is permitted to look into the validity of claims made about Jewish participation in the slave trade. Gentiles are not entitled to look into the role of Jewish Bolsheviks in some colossal communist crimes. The Nakba is legally isolated by walls of Israeli legislation. And it is axiomatic that no one may freely engage in critical thinking on any topic that is even tangentially related to the holocaust. For my suggestion that Jews should self-reflect and attempt to understand what it was that led to the animosity against them in the 1930s, I am castigated by some Jewish ethnic activists as a holocaust denier.

French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard taught us that history claims to tell us ‘what happened’ but in most cases it actually does the opposite: it is there to conceal our collective shame. To suppress their shame, Americans build holocaust museums in every American city rather than explore their own slave-holding past. Rather than deal with their dark imperial history, the Britons allocated a large part of their Imperial War Museum to a ‘holocaust memorial’. Both American and British holocaust museums fail to address the shameful fact that both countries largely blocked their gates to European Jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust. According to Lyotard, the role of the true historian is to unveil the shame, removing layer after layer of suppression. This painful process is where history matures into ethical awareness. And then, there is no examination of responsibility for historical wrongs in the Zionist narrative, for the notion of shame, that instigated the early Zionist ideology. This is totally foreign to Zionist culture and politics.

Zionism doesn’t have to deal with shame because shame involves uncanny introspection, it entails humility, ordinariness.

Israel not only couldn’t be bothered to build a Nakba museum, it does not even acknowledge the. Zionists didn’t express remorse that their Jewish state deployed snipers to hunt Palestinian protesters, killing hundreds and wounding thousands of them.

Neither Zionists nor Israelis feel the need to find excuses for the fact that their laws are racist: Palestinian Israeli citizens are seventh class citizens and the rest of the Palestinians who live in Israeli-controlled territories are locked up in open-air prisons. Zionism doesn’t have to deal with shame because shame involves uncanny introspection, it entails humility, ordinariness. Unlike the Americans and the Britons who made other people’s suffering into their empathy pets, the Zionists, the Israelis and Jews in general are clearly happy to celebrate the primacy of Jewish suffering while making sure everyone else adheres to this principle. Zionism skillfully put into play the means that suppress criticism altogether. But by doing so, Zionism essentially blinded its followers to its own crimes, and it put an end to the dream to become a people like all other peoples.

Although Zionism was an apparatus invented to fix the Jews, to make them ordinary, it had the opposite effect. It made it impossible for its followers to integrate into the rest of the nations as a people among other peoples. While Zionism was born to obliterate chosenness, as it was practiced it was hijacked by the most problematic form of Jewish exceptionalism. Interestingly enough, today, just ahead of the Jewish New Year, Haaretzrevealed that 56 per cent of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosen. I guess the rest see themselves as exceptional.

56% of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosen

56% of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosen

If some Zionists out there are still committed to the original Zionist dream, then owning the shame that is attached to the Zionist sin is probably the way forward. Because as things stand at the moment, the only public figure who insists upon seeing Jews as a people like all other peoples and actually acts upon it is, believe it or not, Jeremy Corbyn.

Jews versus Israelis: Understanding “Jewishness” as the key to resolving the conflict over Palestine

Jews versus Israelis: Understanding “Jewishness” as the key to resolving the conflict over Palestine

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Hitler was an ultra-Zionist!

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Jews versus Israelis: Understanding “Jewishness” as the key to resolving the conflict over Palestine

Jews vs Israelis
Gilad Atzmon writes: 

“… an understanding of ‘Jewishness’, a term familiar to every self-identified Jew, may provide answers to most questions related to Israel and its politics. It may also help us grasp the fake dissent that has dominated the so-called Jewish “anti”-Zionist campaign for the last two decades.”

Now would be the correct time for Ali Abunimah, Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) and the like to form an orderly queue and issue a deep and sincere apology to me. 

Since the early 2000s my detractors within the so called Jewish “left”, together with  their sometime stooges, have been harassing me, my publishers and my readers for pointing out that Zionism is an obsolete concept with little meaning for Israel, Israelis and their politics, let alone the conflict that has been destroying the eastern Mediterranean region

In my 2011 book, The Wandering Who, I argue that “Since Israel defines itself openly as the “Jewish State”, we should ask what the notions of “Judaism”, “Jewishness”, “Jewish culture” and “Jewish ideology” stand for”. Just before the publication of the book I was urged by both the JVP’s leader and Ali Abunimah to drop the J-word and focus solely on Zionism. In Britain, a gang of so called “anti”-Zionist Jews relentlessly terrorised my publisher and promoters. Funnily enough, most of these authoritarian tribals who worked 24/7 to silence me have been expelled from the British Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism! Now, they promote the ideal of “freedom of speech”.

In The Wandering Who and in the years preceding its publication I realised that the Palestinian solidarity discourse has been suffocated with misleading and often duplicitous terminology that diverts attention from the root cause of the conflict and acted to prevent intelligent discussion of possible solutions.

Let’s face it. Israel doesn’t see  itself as the “Zionist State”: not one Israeli party integrated the word “Zionism” into its name. To Israelis, Zionism is a dated and clichéd concept that describes the ideology that promised to erect a Jewish homeland in Palestine. For Israelis, Zionism fulfilled its purpose in 1948 and is now an archaic term. In The Wandering Who I presented a so far unrefuted argument that an understanding of “Jewishness”, a term familiar to every self-identified Jew, may provide answers to most questions related to Israel and its politics. It may also help us grasp the fake dissent that has dominated the so-called Jewish “anti”-Zionist campaign for the last two decades.

Though I was probably the first to write about the crucial shift in Israeli society in favour of Judeo-centrism, this shift is now mainstream news. Haaretz’s lead writer, Anshel Pfeffer has just written a spectacular analysis of this transformation. Pfeffer’s view is that Israelis are going to the polls this Tuesday to decide whether they are “Jews” or “Israelis”.

In Israel Zionism is an empty concept, politically, ideologically and spiritually. Israel defines itself as “The Jewish State” and Orthodox rabbis are at the centre of this transition in Israeli politics and life.

According to Pfeffer, in the mid-1990s it was Netanyahu’s American campaign guru, Arthur Finkelstein, who promoted “a message that could reach secular and religious voters alike. In his polling, he had asked voters whether they considered themselves ‘more Jewish’ or ‘more Israeli’. The results convinced him there was a much larger constituency of voters, not just religious ones, who emphasized their Jewish identity over their Israeli one.”

In light of Finkelstein’s observation, Likud focused its message on Jerusalem. Its campaign slogan was: “Peres will divide Jerusalem.” In the final 48 hours before election day there was also “an unofficial slogan, emblazoned on millions of posters and bumper stickers distributed by Chabad Hasidim: “Netanyahu is good for the Jews.”

In a Haaretz interview after his narrow 1996 defeat, Shimon Peres lamented that “the Israelis lost the election”. When asked then who had won, he answered: “The Jews won.”

Pfeffer points out that Netanyahu learned from Finkelstein that the “Jew” is the primary unifier for Israelis. This certainly applies to religious Jews but also to those who regard themselves as secular. After all, Israel has really been the “Jewish State” for a while.

This is probably the right place to point out that Netanyahu’s move of locating Jewishness at the heart of Israel is a reversal of the original Zionist promise. While early Zionism was a desperate attempt to divorce the Jews from the ghetto and their tribal obsession and make them “a people like all other peoples”, the present adherence to Jewishness and kinship induces a return to Judeo-centric chauvinism. As odd as this may sound, Netanyahu’s transformation of Israel into a “Jewish realm” makes him an ardent anti-Zionist, probably more anti Zionist than the JVP, Mondoweiss and the BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] put together. 

Pfeffer points out it was in 2009, when Netanyahu returned to power and formed a right-wing/religious coalition, that “the Jews prevailed – and have done so ever since in four consecutive elections, including the last one in April 2019.”

To illustrate this, Pfeffer cites the 2012 Israeli  High Court of Justice decision to deny a petition by writer Yoram Kaniuk and others to allow themselves to be registered solely as “Israelis” as opposed to “Jews”.

I guess that [Ali] Abunimah and the Jewish Voices for Peace were desperate to silence me at the time as they foolishly believed that shooting the messenger – or, alternatively, burning books – was the way forward for human rights activism. I stood firm. The observations I produced in The Wandering Who were endorsed by the most profound thinkers associated with the conflict and by the anti-war movement.

Every so often we hear from one Torah rabbi or another that “Zionism is not Judaism”. Those who have reached this point surely grasp that “Zionism versus Judaism” is a fake dichotomy. It serves to confuse and to divert questioning minds from the path towards an understanding of the conflict: In Israel Zionism is an empty concept, politically, ideologically and spiritually. Israel defines itself as “The Jewish State” and Orthodox rabbis are at the centre of this transition in Israeli politics and life. 

I guess that Abunimah and the JVP were desperate to silence me at the time as they foolishly believed that shooting the messenger, or alternatively burning books, was the way forward for human rights activism. I stood firm. The observations I produced in The Wandering Who were endorsed by the most profound thinkers associated with the conflict and by the anti-war movement. My observations are more relevant than ever and in Israel they have entered mainstream analysis. When it comes to Palestine solidarity, we have managed to waste a good two decades of intellectual progress thanks to authoritarian lobbies operating in our midst. For truth and justice to prevail, we have to learn to speak the truth as we see it, and to accept the JVP’s and Abumimah’s apologies when they are mature enough to come clean.

Forget the anti-Semitism fallacy, let’s focus on the Palestinians

Forget the anti-Semitism fallacy, let’s focus on the Palestinians

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Judaism and Zionism: a divorce in the making?

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Israel – a curious national home

Israel – a curious national home

In “Home”

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My struggle: The problems and ramifications of Jewish identity politics

Gilad Atzmon and the problems of Jewish identity politics
Gilad Atzmon writes:

I launched my study into Jewishness two decades ago. It began as a result of my reaction to the relentless attacks on dissident Jewish thinkers who didn’t fit with the “revolutionary agenda” of the so-called Jewish “anti-Zionist” left. I quickly grasped that it was actually the Jewish left, the radicals and progressives, who displayed the most problematic traits associated with Zionism and Jewish identitarianism.

I was perplexed: the same people who adhere to tribal politics and operate in racially segregated political cells preach universalism to others. I came to understand that nothing was transparent or obvious about Jewish culture and identitarianism, and that this was by design. I decided to untangle the Jewish enigma from a new perspective: instead of asking who or what Jews are, I asked what those who self-identify as Jews believe in, what precepts they adhere to. This question was the beginning of my struggle.

By the time I publishedThe Wandering Who? (2011), I realised that those who identify as Jews can be divided into three non-exclusive categories: (1) Those who follow the Torah and Mitzvoth; (2) Those who identify with their Jewish ancestry; and (3) Those who identify politically as Jews. In The Wandering Who? I argued that while the first and the second categories are innocent, the third category is always contaminated by biological determinism. The third category is, in fact, racist to the core. While Jews aren’t necessarily a race, Jewish politics are, too often, racially oriented. This applies to both Zionists and the so called “anti”-Zionists. In my work there is no real distinction between Jewish Zionists and their Jewish dissenters. I have found them to be equally racist.

There is more to draw from this approach. It is apparent that not many self-identified Jews fall exclusively into just one of the categories. Jewish identity is a multilayered construct. A West Bank settler, for instance, is usually a follower of Torah and Mitzvoth (Category 1), most often he / she speaks in the name of their Jewish ancestry and even claims lineage to Biblical figures (Category 2). And it goes without saying that a West Bank Jewish settler identifies and acts politically as a Jew (Category 3). Surprisingly, a Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) activist in Brooklyn isn’t all that different. He or she may not adhere to the Torah but likely identifies ethnically as a Jew (Category 2) and certainly acts politically as a Jew (Category 3).

Oddly, no one bothered to find a mistake in my work or pointed to where my argument was lacking. No one claimed that the facts I based my argument on were inaccurate. Both Zionists and anti-Zionists have deployed every trick in their hasbara book to try to silence me.

In The Wandering Who? I argued that if Zionism is a racist ideology, then Jewish anti-Zionists are at least as guilty of the same crime. In fact, in the Israeli Knesset, the third biggest party is a Palestinian party. You do the goy [gentile] count: try to figure out how many Palestinians or gentiles are on JVP’s board or among the British Jewish Voice for Labour (that doesn’t even accept gentiles as equal members). Needless to say, this observation didn’t make me overwhelmingly popular among Zionists and the so called “anti”-Zionists.

On the day of the publication of The Wandering Who? hell broke loose. What started as a struggle to seek the truth or at least some understanding, evolved into a bloody war. Oddly, no one bothered to find a mistake in my work or pointed to where my argument was lacking. No one claimed that the facts I based my argument on were inaccurate. Both Zionists and anti-Zionists have deployed every trick in their hasbara book to try to silence me. I was called a racist, an anti-Semite and a Nazi despite the fact that my entire work is anti-racist and in defiance of the Jewish racial argument.

Since 2011 I have been subject to a cowardly smear campaign. But the war waged against me has actually helped me to refine my views on Jewish identity politics. I realised that Jewishness (yehudiyut) is a manifold of different forms of chosenness. Rabbinical Jews celebrate being God’s favourite children. Atheist Jews in practice dumped the God who first chose them in order to validate their own superiority as godless people. Jewish Marxists are special for their belief in equality. Tikun Olam Jews believe that it is down to them to save the goyim. After a few more years of this study I realised that Judaism is just one Jewish religion among many and it is not even the most popular Jewish religion.

The great Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz figured out in the 1970s that while Jews uphold many religions and beliefs, all Jews believe in the holocaust. It was this observation by Leibowitz that planted the notion of the holocaust religion. When I wrote Being in Time, I realised that practically every precept can become a Jewish religion as long as it sustains a lucid concept of chosenness, self-love or auto-validation.

Jews do not like those who leave the tribe… For Jews, the former Jew, or ex-Jew, is a threat most likely because many Jews may feel insecure about the ethical ground of their core beliefs, culture and ideology.

The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan revealed that the “unconscious is the discourse of the Other” – the fear that one’s deepest secrets could be unveiled and make it into the public discourse. In Lacanian terms, the Jewish unconscious is the fear that the “goyim know”. Their torment is that people “out there” will start to converse about what has taken place in front of their eyes: whether it is AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] dominance of US foreign policy or the destruction of the Labour Party or the constant threat to world peace imposed by Israel and its lobby.

Judging by their desperate attempts to silence me, I assume that I must be seen, at least in the eyes of my Jewish detractors, as a prime conduit for that ever expanding general awareness – after all I have been blowing the whistle for a while. 

Jews do not like those who leave the tribe. Jesus paid a price, as did Uriel da Costa and Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza. For Jews, the former Jew, or ex-Jew, is a threat most likely because many Jews may feel insecure about the ethical ground of their core beliefs, culture and ideology. Enlightened Jewish progressives are probably clever enough to admit to themselves that being born into chosenness is a problematic, racially supremacist concept. Honest Jews may have gathered that being chosen by a God you yourself invented to favour you over the rest of humanity is actually funny. Orthodox Jews understand that large parts of their core beliefs are inconsistent with the Western universal humanist tradition. Many Zionists know that their claims to a historic right to a land they have never been in are ridiculous. 

The Jewish strategy to handle their fears includes the suppression of elementary freedoms: Jewish Power as I define it is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power. I believe that it was I who coined the slogan “We are all Palestinians”. In accordance with my definition of Jewish power, Palestinians are those who can’t even utter the name of their oppressor. While Israel calls itself the Jewish State and boasts about itself as Jewish, the Palestinians and their solidarity movement go out of their way to avoid the “J word”. When British Jewish institutions, including the chief rabbi and the British Jewish press, called an open war on the British Labour Party and its leader, no one in the Labour Party dared utter the “J word” except when asking for Jewish forgiveness. The condition of being Palestinian, of not being able to name one’s oppressor, is now a global symptom. This suppression of speech and thought has evolved into a tyranny of correctness.

My struggle as I now understand it has evolved into a metaphysical battle to reinstate Athens within my soul. If you want to make the West great again, my struggle is your struggle. Defy Jerusalem, say no to authoritarianism, embrace Athens in your heart: learn to speak your mind, tell the truth as you see it and bear the consequences.

By the time I wrote Being in Time I understood that my struggle has implications that far exceed my initial intellectual objectives. What we face as Western subjects is a massive battle between Athens and Jerusalem, where Athens is the birthplace of Western thought and Jerusalem is the city of revelation. Athens teaches us how to think, Jerusalem demands our obedience.

The Western humanist values and intellectual assets we are now nostalgic for what came from Athens: democracy, tolerance, freedom of speech, philosophy, agora [public space for debate], science, ethics, poesis and the tragedy. Jerusalem gave us laws, mitzvoth, regimes of prescribed and proscribed behaviour. Athens teaches us how to think ethically: in Jerusalem, ethics are replaced by the Ten Commandments, rules to obey. Jerusalem is not solely a “Jewish domain”. The Jerusalemisation of our universe is apparent in every corner of society: from pop culture, to the workplace, to academia and beyond. It is the tyranny of correctness adopted by the new left and it is at least as infectious within right identitarianism.

My struggle as I now understand it has evolved into a metaphysical battle to reinstate Athens within my soul. If you want to make the West great again, my struggle is your struggle. Defy Jerusalem, say no to authoritarianism, embrace Athens in your heart: learn to speak your mind, tell the truth as you see it and bear the consequences.

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Bloomberg is the Equal Evil

by NICHOLAS LEVIS

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

An oligarch is trying to buy the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination with cash payments from his own personal fortune. If his takeover attempt succeeds, it will smash the party and assure the reelection of Donald Trump. Given their shared interests, we might wonder whether that is Michael Bloomberg’s true intent. His cynical campaign is based on deceiving people into believing the opposite, that he would be a strong candidate against Trump. Many also believe, falsely, that Bloomberg presents a lesser evil than Trump. The following is presented in refutation of these false premises.

Bloomberg’s 12-year record as mayor of New York, his billions in personal spending as a political and “philanthropic” donor, and his many recorded public statements all suggest strongly that a Bloomberg regime would be at least as extreme, dangerous to democracy, lawless, and warlike as a second Trump term. I would never vote for either of these men, who are similar in all the ways that matter most, including a shared record as serial purveyors of misogynistic harrassment of women. Even were it possible to persuade me to “vote blue no matter who” in Bloomberg’s case, there is little point in trying. Tens of millions of others who might vote for a Democrat against Trump will never vote for Bloomberg, the Republican oligarch, if he seizes control of the party.

Republican Oligarch

Bloomberg is a long-standing Republican billionaire from New York City, rated as one of the ten richest men in the United States. He supported George W. Bush for president in 2000 and endorsed Bush’s reelection in 2004. As a speaker at the Republican nominating convention in New York that year, then Mayor Bloomberg heaped praise on the criminal invasion of Iraq and the “war on terror.” In 2008, Bloomberg endorsed John McCain against Barack Obama.

In the years that followed, Bloomberg continued to endorse and fund many Republican candidates. He threw millions in PAC money behind Pat Toomey (PA) in a close Senate election that Toomey won. That was in 2016, the year of Trump’s election. In 2014, Bloomberg donated to the reelection campaigns of the Republican senators Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham. Back in 2012, he also endorsed and funded the Republican Scott Brown against Elizabeth Warren.

On the federal level, in short, Bloomberg’s money has been deployed to keep GOP control of Congress, especially the Senate, and thus helped to assure GOP domination of the judicial appointments process. It does not matter what he says, pretends, or thinks he was doing. Through these actions, Bloomberg bears partial responsibility for the blocking of the Garland appoinment and for the approval of the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh appointments to the Supreme Court. No credible case can be made that concern about the conservative make-up of the Supreme Court is a priority to him; nor can it be assured that this two-faced actor would appoint more liberal judges than Trump.

Since 2018, Bloomberg has been doing business as a Democrat, having switched his nominal party affiliation to accommodate his new political ambitions. He continues to support some Republicans, again doing so in the age of Trump. In his career as a political donor, he has spent about $2 billion in dark-money contributions and “philanthropic” donations to causes favored by local politicians, especially mayors, as documented in the New York Times (15 Feb). This flood of cash has bought a stable of endorsers for Bloomberg’s presidential run, from politicians willing to sell their reputations and services. Following a few hundred thousand in donations to the Democratic National Committee, Bloomberg has also won the DNC’s favor. They have admitted Bloomberg personnel into key party positions, and they changed their debate qualification rules to make it possible for the billionaire to take the stage at the Nevada debate, days before the state’s caucuses. (Other candidates were excluded from earlier debates because they were required to have 200,000 individual donors; Bloomberg has no donors other than himself.)

NYC Mayor Or Real Estate Kingpin?

(And is there a difference?)

During his dozen years as mayor, Bloomberg flew several times a month on average to his compound in Bermuda, where he could manage his global financial empire and presumably vast, unaccountable, offshore assets. Officially, he placed the Bloomberg companies in a blind trust managed by associates. One of them, Dan Doctoroff, first served the Bloomberg administration for a few years as its top city planner, working closely with the mayor before proceeding to management of the mayor’s sequestered billions.

The doings in Bermuda have remained confidential. Bloomberg’s estimated wealth rose from about $2 billion at the start of his mayoral tenure in January 2002 to around $30 billion by the time he left office in January 2014. Seven years later, his wealth is given as $55 billion one month, $60 billion the next. Five billion is a rounding error, as Lee Fang remarked in a podcast interview (Rolling Stone Useful Idiots, 7 Feb).

As mayor of New York City, Bloomberg set off the largest wave of 20-year tax exemptions for new housing towers and other jumbo developments in the city’s history. The uncontrolled luxury building frenzy completely transformed New York for the worse. Rents became impossible. Large populations, mostly of black and brown people, were displaced. Historic neighborhoods turned into dull mall environments.

Bloomberg became the latest of several mayors to announce to lifelong New Yorkers that if they can’t afford to live here, they should move out. The homeless population skyrocketed. He went on record opposing the minimum wage and mocking the idea of a iiving wage as a communist plot. Posing as an education reformer, he aggressively pursued school-charter privatization plans, constantly attacked teachers and their unions, and advocated larger school class sizes. As a servant to the city’s real estate and finance sectors, he was an ally above all of developers like Donald Trump. There is good reason why you can find so many pictures of the two of them laughing together.

Authoritarian Tyrant 

If the term seems exaggerated, consider that in the original Greek, a tyrant was a city boss. Everyone is now recalling Bloomberg’s massive six-fold expansion of the “Stop and Frisk” program he “inherited” from Giuliani, which was eventually ruled unconstitutional. This was just one part of an intensely carceral, punitive and racially targeted approach to the city’s black and brown populations. His racist statements in justifying these policies are well-known. He extended the endless “war on drugs.” More people went to prison for marijuana. He still wishes to keep it illegal and declared that marijuana legalization is “the stupidest thing anybody’s ever done” (Newsweek, 23 Jan 2019).

As under Giuliani, countless innocents were incarcerated on petty charges. Kalief Browder’s three-year torment at Riker’s happened on Bloomberg’s watch. Bloomberg oversaw the violent and militarized expulsion of the peaceful Occupy Wall Street protest from Zuccotti Park in Nov. 2011, an action which was coordinated through the Department of Homeland Security with the simultaneous expulsions of dozens of other Occupy encampments in big cities around the country. In New York the action was run through a new office that for the first time brought all city, state and federal law enforcement agencies together with liaisons from corporate headquarters into a single underground command center.

When it became known that a judge was considering declaring “Stop and Frisk” unconstitutional (as she then did), Bloomberg activated PR and press teams to defame her in advance as unhinged and unreliable. This shows his contempt for the judiciary and the rule of law.

Those who credibly fear “president for life” or other lawless scenarios with Trump need also to recall that the similarly old and unhappily-disposed Bloomberg, who had claimed to support the term-limit laws in New York, switched suddenly to advocating and achieving a one-time repeal of the law in 2009. This allowed him to buy a third term with the most expensive mayoral campaign in history, spending sums variably estimated at $110 to near $200 million. Just like his current campaign, this largesse won the lockstep report of the city’s corporate media. He had thousands on staff, with paid employees accosting people on the street, and no evidence of volunteers.

Back in 2001, Bloomberg was set to lose his original run for mayor, as a Republican candidate. Then the primary election, scheduled for September 11, was postponed due to the attacks on the WTC. Mayor Giuliani, whom Bloomberg had always supported, called for the postponement of the general election and a four-month extension of his own term, effectively demanding that New York City, for the first time in 214 years, be placed under an ad-hoc dictatorship of emergency rule. Bloomberg supported Giuliani’s proposal before it was axed due to widespread opposition. He exploited the fear after the attacks by running an expensive scaremongering campaign, and managed to win the election.

As mayor, Bloomberg supported all of the emergency measures and new repressive policies and agencies initiated by the Bush administration, including the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Department, the blanket communications surveillance programs, and the increased direct intervention of the CIA in setting local police policy. New York overturned limits on the use of police video against protesters. The city became a testing ground for new domestic surveillance and repression programs.

The NYPD was deployed to spy on Muslims at mosques, and followed people to jurisdictions in other states without informing the local authorities. Zero actual terrorist plots were uncovered by these programs. When this illegal action was covered in a report commissioned by the Center for American Progress (CAP), publication was abruptly delayed until the chapter on the NYPD program was excised. Bloomberg had donated 1.5 million to CAP, the “Third Way” think-tank influential with the Democratic Party right-wing. Bloomberg later reiterated support for total federal surveillance programs, covering all phone calls and messages in the world. He told an interviewer that “we’d better hope the NSA is reading all of our e-mails.”

Trumpian Politician

Bloomberg supports high military spending but presents himself as a deficit hawk. Along with Mnuchin and the worst kind of Democrats, he has been a speaker at “summits” of the Peterson Foundation and has aligned himself with their efforts to cut or privatize Social Security and Medicare. During the recent budget sequester, he expressed concern that temporary spending cuts might “devastate defense.” He went to on to say, “There are ways to slowly decrease the benefits or raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.” He recommended the institution of more co-pays, so that people would “make less use of” medical services.

While he derides the single-payer health care system common around the world as an unobtainable fantasy, he also did not support the institution of the ACA (Obamacare). There is no reason to believe current claims that he would maintain ACA. He is, after all, beholden to no one, and changes his claims as required by political convenience. As mayor of New York, he supported fingerprinting for SNAP recipients and public housing residents, in keeping with his many recorded public statements deriding the poor and black and brown people in particular. (If his presidential campaign proceeds, you will be hearing these statements used against him on a permanent loop.)

Bloomberg’s supposed concern for the climate crisis as an issue is undermined by his unwillingness to spend anything to act on it, since this would be “unaffordable.” He mocks the Green New Deal and the federal Jobs Guarantee that it would necessarily entail.  How is this lip service, or support for a toothless climate tax, better than Trump’s overt denialism of the ongoing ecological catastrophe and global extinction event?

What pipeline is Bloomberg going to block? What lands that Trump has given to the drillers and loggers and polluters is Bloomberg going to restore as protected wilderness? What ecologically destructive project is he going to oppose, if a fellow capitalist intends to start it? What international initiatives is he going to lead on behalf of controlling the capitalist drive to burn the planet for profit? What difference is it going to make to life on this planet, if this fraud claims to “believe the science,” or if his foundation pays off select astroturf groups that then praise him as an environmentalist?

Bloomberg neither portends nor promises any change in the aggressive foreign policy, interventionism, escalated bombing campaigns, or primacy of the military budget under the Trump-Pence-GOP regime. He has never suggested any opposition to the perpetual wars.

A Bloomberg regime would be wedded to the Saudi-Israeli alliance, exactly like Trump’s. His business interests are closely linked with the Saudi and Gulf royalists, just like Trump’s. Bloomberg opposed the Iran deal and supports recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. During the large-scale Israeli assaults on Gaza, in 2008-9 and 2014, Mayor Bloomberg flew to Israel, calling these visits expressions of New York City’s support for Tel Aviv. On these occasions the Israeli military bombed the captive and defenseless population of the blockaded Gaza strip continuously from the air, the first time for three weeks consecutively, killing hundreds of defenseless civilians and turning hundreds of houses into rubble. The first of these offensives was timed to occur before the inauguration of Obama, whom the right-wing Israeli established considered weak in his support for Israeli policy. The mayor of New York, meanwhile, dropped all business to rush to Israel’s “defense.”

Oligarch Buying Presidency 

Through his foundation, Bloomberg has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars around in exchange for his current spate of endorsements from Democrats and liberals, performing the important service of revealing which mayors, politicians and activists are willing to sell themselves for cash.

He is documentably and programmatically as authoritarian, racist, personally abusive to his underlings, macho and misogynist, and in no way less a war-monger than Trump. My dear, sad True Blues, the corporate media are currently exploiting your justifiable trauma about Trump in order to deceive you that there is a substantive difference. You should be outraged.

Even if you can still persuade yourself that there is a difference, you should be equally outraged that anyone is attempting to buy your country’s presidency with their personal cash out of pocket. As bad as American oligarchy has become, this is a new frontier in its systemic corruption. It is not less dangerous than what the Trump-GOP-Pence regime already has wrought thanks to its own unlimited political spending. If Bloomberg’s gambit is not beaten back, and if it does not serve as the beginning of reforms to end the rule of pure money in politics, we will be seeing many more oligarchs trying the same stunt in the future.

How much of a sucker are you letting yourself be, to retrofit this man’s record and politics as “liberal” or “blue”? If the Democrats were a family, Bloomberg is the loan-shark who breaks into the house, puts on the father’s “blue” suit, and holds the children at gunpoint, telling them he’s there to save them. Jared Kushner is also a rich guy, possibly richer than his father-in-law. Imagine if he turned coat against Trump and bought the DNC and the Democrats. Would you get it then? Or would you tell people to Vote Kush No Matter Who?

Loser

Not the worst, but the most effective lie from the Bloomberg campaign is that he would have a better chance of winning against Trump than other candidates.

His money and the favor of the corporate media and party establishment may yet prove sufficient to outshout, overwhelm, and sabotage all of the Democratic opponents. I do not expect this, but it is possible. He has already shown that he will cheat and trample on democracy, and he has enough resources to outspend all of the rest combined by a ratio of two or three or ten to one, if he chooses. Just a few months of his returns on wealth suffice to make him literally the biggest purchaser of advertising of any kind, on both corporate media and social media, and for him to employ twice or ten times as much paid staff as all of the other campaigns nationally. He is providing a lesson, not only in why billionaires are bad for society because of the wealth inequality, but are active dangers to democracy because they can buy entire political systems with cash to suit their personal whims.

If somehow he should capture the nomination, however, all of this changes.

First, the Democratic Party breaks up, without a doubt. True Blues, do not bother to moralize at me or anyone else. It’s pointless. You can strap me down, pay me off, brainwash me. But everyone else? You won’t be able to herd tens of millions of cats who are on average smarter and wiser than you. Most Americans were never Democrats in the first place, were they now? You need their votes too. Among the serious Democratic voters, meanwhile, are the ones who actually mean it. Many will not be impressed with your arguments that a literal Republican with Trumpian politics, who conducted a hostile takeover of the party, must be given allegiance because he constitutes a “lesser evil.” This is a scam.

It’s done. People cannot be made to unsee what Bloomberg is, and even he cannot pay everyone enough to play along. (If his entire fortune were liquidated at the current estimated value and distributed equally among all Americans, we would each receive about $180.)

The Democratic Party will also smash apart even if Bloomberg fails to capture the nomination for himself, but serves as the kingmaker at a brokered convention that denies the nomination to anyone who wins a plurality of pledged delegates. True blues, there is nothing you can do about it.

Understand finally that these are not the threats of any organized force. Your imaginary “Bernie Bros.” have no central headquarters with which you can negotiate. The Demexit will be a long-suppressed sociological event: a cat tsunami.

Second, a nominated Bloomberg will be up against members of his own economic class. He’s only the world’s ninth-richest out of 1500-3000 billionaires, and never mind the ultra-trillions available to the major corporate cartels, and never mind the many foreign influences who regularly seek to influence US elections. The Trump-Pence-GOP campaign and the dark-money machines who support them will match and exceed Bloomberg’s spending. Like Bloomberg, they will feel no limits about lying, cheating, sabotage, or use of fascistoid tactics, and they have a much longer and broader and more successful record of election rigging.

It will be easy. They will have no trouble publicizing all of the above, and making it sound even worse than I have.

They will have no trouble convincing people who do not support Trump that Bloomberg offers the same shit as Trump. They will barely need to do that, because it is true.

They will have no trouble convincing Trump’s followers that Bloomberg is the Godless Judeo-Bolshevik head of a globalist free-trader conspiracy to take away their freedoms, their firearms, their flags, their crosses, their trucks, their triple-burgers and big-gulps, their children’s religious education, and their pride, because this is what many of them already want to believe anyway.

In truth, a lot of people who support Trump (and many who  hate him) don’t believe any of that, but think everything’s fucked anyway. They no longer care what is true, as long as it’s good television. Professional wrestling beats the Public Service Announcement, every time. Especially when the PSA comes in as dishonest and unctuous a form as Bloomberg with his unconcealed contempt for the poor, for minorities, for farmers and for workers. Imagine the media carpet-bombed with the clip of him explaining why farming is easy, and why farmers and industrial workers had it easy, because they did not require as much gray matter as tech workers.

And how is this different from you, True Blues? You think you’re smarter than the average Trump supporter, but you too believe what your emotions prefer. This Moneybag Monster you have persuaded yourselves to call “Democratic,” “moderate” and “electable” will be obliterated in the field.

Note: A growing collection of links to reports and clips backing up all of the above is available on this fb page.

To respond to this piece, offer millions in legal bribes in exchange for an endorsement, or remind Nicholas Levis that he should be working on his history dissertation, write to N24CP2020@gmail.com.

Posted in USAComments Off on Bloomberg is the Equal Evil

How the Military is Raiding Public Lands and Civilian Spaces Across the Western Front

by KATIE FITE

A close up of a rock mountainDescription automatically generated

Upper West Little Owyhee Wild and Scenic River, Oregon.

Military public land grabs and intrusions into civilian spaces are raging in the West. Wild landscapes are targeted for huge seizures of public land, increases in hideously loud war plane overflight impacts, or development of facilities like threat emitters. The military already has seized vast areas of the American West for use as ground and air ranges. The Nellis Range in Nevada spans 2.9 million acres, but the Air Force now wants to seize 300,000 more acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The Navy finalized a gigantic Fallon Range expansion EIS to lock up over 600,000 more acres of public lands east of Reno. Mountain Home Air Force base’s Owyhee Range airspace covers portions of three states (Idaho, Oregon, Nevada). Now the Air Force is proposing even more intrusive overflights. Washington’s wild coastal lands and waters, and people’s homes on Whidbey Island, are suffering nearly 100,000 Navy Growler flights a year. Navy intrusions on Olympic National Park and other sensitive sites include an area of the Hoh rainforest that had been described as the quietest place in the contiguous US. Meanwhile, civilian spaces in our cities and neighborhoods are increasingly subjected to creeping militarism and war games.

Military bite by military bite, the West is being consumed. Existing ranges are connected by Military Training Route air highways along which the planes travel over wild landscapes in between.

Urban War Games: Unprecedented Military Intrusion into Civilian Space

I now reside within an Urban War Range, though the Air Force doesn’t officially call it that. Boise and eight other cities across southern Idaho have become military playgrounds, along with land within a 30-mile diameter circle of town center. When I step into my yard, walk in the foothills or go downtown into “urban canyons” (as the Air Force dubs streets with taller buildings), I may become a conscripted game piece, part of the human “chaos” that the Air Force uses to train for bombings and assassinations across the globe. Mountain Home Air Force Base finalized an EA authorizing US and Singapore F-15 war planes to circle for hours above town at 10,000-18,000 ft. Meanwhile military personnel, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers or JTAC, playing friend and foe are disguised as civilians lurking on the ground. The war planes use “eye safe” lasers to zap the enemy amid the civilian clutter. Fortunately, this “Urban Close Air Support” proposal is being challenged in federal court. The litigation describes:

Once the military jets are in their holding patterns, a convoy of up to five vehicles and twenty soldiers will enter the urban center and act as the “Opposing Forces,” while a convoy of up to five vehicles and twenty soldiers would act as the “Friendly Forces.” These convoys will be comprised of both American and Singaporean forces and they will drive unmarked cars, travel through public spaces, and be disguised as plainclothes civilians. To begin a mission scenario, the Friendly Forces will communicate by radio with the F-15 jets above for help locating the Opposing Forces, which the aircraft will then track and target with training lasers.

There’s been no court ruling yet.

F-35s at City Airport Runways

Boise was an easy target for unprecedented urban war military civilian space grab, where real people are incorporated as play pieces. Under previous Mayor Dave Bieter, we were a wide-open frontier for any rapacious development or military scheme. The city used public funds to pay consultants to lobby for F-35 basing here and engaged in shenanigans for years to try to replace the A-10s based at the National Guard Gowen Field by the Boise airport with F-35s. The Guard uses the same airport runaways as passenger jets. F-35s are 8 to 16 times louder than the A-10s. Bieter resoundingly lost his re-election bid. New mayor Lauren Mclean trounced Bieter. Her opposition to the F-35s and concerns for affordable housing were major campaign issues.

The Air Force is also intent on inflicting F-35s on National Guard air units using urban airport runways. In 2013, Burlington Vermont was selected for F-35 siting over the fierce opposition of many residents, which continues to this day. Boise was in the running back, but fortunately lost out. As politicians heaped more billions on the F-35 program, another Guard unit basing scheme arose. The Air Force dispatched a review team to reconnoiter 5 cities, including Boise, and select two. They chose Montgomery, Alabama and Madison, Wisconsin as top candidates. The Guard uses the Madison city airport. Boise failed to make the cut. But that didn’t save us from being included in the latest F-35 EIS NEPA analysis. F-35s here would inflict horrific noise on the civilian populace. They would also overfly the Owyhee Canyonlands down to levels as low as 100-500 ft. in Idaho and use the military withdrawn bombing range sites. The final F-35 EIS is due out any day. Folks in Madison are rightfully alarmed at being part of the “preferred alternative” in the draft EIS. It’s a race to the bottom! Which city gets to not have its civilian population be human shields surrounding an F-35 base — with F-35s now designed to carry nuclear weapons? Which city gets to not have affordable houses demolished as homes near the airport become unlivable?

Even if Boise is not selected, as more bottomless billions are appropriated for F-35s, this EIS could serve as a basis for bringing them here with minimal new analysis. For much of the past decade, neighborhoods near the airport have been battling F-35 proposals. The stress and uncertainty of what will happen to homes has taken a real toll on people – along with the existing levels of airplane noise. The already considerable noise includes commercial airliners, A-10s, and transient war planes like Navy Growlers from Whidbey. Privately owned terminal facilities profit from transient war planes refueling at the airport. A few years ago, the Idaho Guard webpage read like a tourist brochure trying to lure transient war planes.

A sign on a grassy hill Description automatically generated

Owyhee Supersonic War Games

The Air Force has a new torment for Idaho and the tri-state Owyhee Canyonlands. A low level supersonic flight proposal has been unleashed on the public, with the military justifying its move in part by claiming “getting high, getting fast allows us to throw our weapons and hit the enemy from much farther away”.

The Air Force seeks to lower flight levels for sonic booms (currently 10,000 ft.); drop down the current 3000 ft. war plane flight floors in Oregon and Nevada by an unknown amount; and use “terrain masking” flight. Scoping info was vague. It appears the Air Force plans to extend its sagebrush skimming Idaho levels into Malheur County and northern Nevada. There are few high points or mountains across much of the high desert plateau country to use for terrain masking flight, so this seems to mean only one thing no matter how much the Air Force may deny it – flights descending into canyons with horrific noise boomeranging around canyon walls and California bighorn sheep and raptor habitat.

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It’s hard to fly much lower than the appalling 100 ft. above ground level already allowed in Idaho MOA airspace, including above the Owyhee Initiative wilderness areas of Pole Creek, Little Jacks Creek, Big Jacks Creek, Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers and Owyhee River. Regrettably, the Owyhee wilderness legislation contained military overflight language allowing virtually anything to take place in the wilderness airspace.

Sonic booms associated with supersonic flight generate enormous amounts of energy. They can be heard over vast distances. The thunderous sound, often accompanied with an unknown object suddenly appearing in the visual field, produces a startle effect, a primal avoidance reaction – like when you’re about to step on a snake. You don’t think, you react. Your mind has not had time to process the intense sound or that what’s coming at you is a plane, and not a giant velociraptor about to snatch you up for dinner. I’ve dropped to my knees, heart pounding, avoiding the unknown monster hurtling at warp speed in the Canyonlands. Now the Air Force wants to boom at even lower elevations while sneaking around using terrain masking flight.

An ever-increasing number of scientific studies show harmful noise impacts to myriad species of wildlife including sage-grouse. Military impacts on bighorn sheep were a huge issue with past Owyhee bombing range proposals. The Idaho Game Department has become so politically constrained and useless at sticking up for wildlife that its regional biologist told Times-News reporter Colin Tiernan:

“… there isn’t much good data on how bighorn sheep respond to loud noises. There have only been a few studies, mostly back in the 1980s and 1990s, and Curtis said most of those had holes in their research. Studying the impacts on the Owyhee populations would be incredibly difficult”.

Contrast this with the Washington state AG’s Growler lawsuit wildlife claims below.

Tufted Puffin with fish

Growler Land

Washington residents and groups like the Sound Defense Alliance have been fighting the Navy’s Growler expansion noise that is driving people out of their homes on Whidbey island. They are working to highlight impacts of military activity around the Salish Sea, Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula. Growlers are not quite as loud as F-35s but they generate extremely annoying low frequency sounds that penetrate deep into the body. A friend equated the sound of a Growler here in Boise to a train rumbling on top of her head. We’ve confirmed that some of the particularly noxious war plane overflights in Boise are from Growlers using the city airport.

Whidbey residents have filed a lawsuit over the Navy’s authorization of a nearly 400% increase in flight field landing activity. Residents assert that the Growler EIS constitutes a taking without compensation of property rights, in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  There are 24 named Plaintiffs who seek to certify it as a class action. The lawsuit includes:

The high and unhealthful levels of noise and vibrations associated with the Navy’s new flight operations, coupled with the danger of living in and near areas that the Navy itself has identified as unsuitable for residential use in light of the danger of a deadly jet crash, has deprived Plaintiffs of the use and enjoyment of their property …

Here’s a montage of the plaintiffs suffering under the “sound of freedom”:

… war planes flying as low as 200 feet directly over her home on a 60 to 90 second cycle … trying to hold conversations while outside (or even inside) is unbearable when the planes are passing …the Bortons no longer enjoy where they live and talk about how all they want is to “escape.” Of course, the jets have made escape impossible as well since the Bortons are seniors on a fixed income and are now unable to sell their home since the jet traffic has destroyed their property value … Everyone at the home must put in ear plugs and then [w]ear silence head gear over the ear plugs. Still, everyone is losing sleep due to the loud sound of the jets and intrusion … Ms. Corliss also fears for her safety and notes that her daughter, who was previously diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, found instant relief when she briefly moved off of the Island … the start of the Growler plan resulting in frequent overflights has increased his PTSD symptoms, triggered nightmares, and has interfered with the use of his CPAP machine at night, which is required to help Mr. Firnstahl breathe … she cannot walk her dogs, garden, or even be outside when the Growlers are circling overhead. She is concerned about the health of her dogs who cower when the planes fly and are constantly stressed and shaking. She does not believe that she would even be able to sell her home and move … Ms. Nichols reports that when the jets are flying, she must go inside or else her organs vibrate in her chest cavity … Ms. Shaw’s dog Sassy was once so scared by the Growler overflights that she got her foot caught in a rockpile trying to flee the noise and broke her leg. It cost Ms. Shaw $2,500 to get Sassy surgery …”.

Separately, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Navy to try to roll back the drastic increase in Growler flights over the land, coastline and ocean, citing effects on residents and wildlife, including endangered species.

The Navy authorized … increasing Growler take-offs and landings to nearly 100,000 per year for the next 30 years. Growlers are aircraft that fly low in order to jam enemy communications. The aircraft’s training regimen involves frequent, loud take-offs and landings…. In 2017, the Washington Department of Health provided feedback to the Navy on noise levels around the Whidbey Island airfields. The feedback outlined how exposure to noise levels similar to those at the naval air station could cause negative health impacts, including sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment and cardiovascular disease … The Navy arbitrarily dismissed impacts to human health and child learning from increased noise, despite many studies indicating that exposure to noise can lead to adverse health outcomes.

The suit stressed physiological noise effects, the Navy’s irrational claims that wildlife would “habituate”, and NHPA violations. It challenged the rejection of the Health Department concerns in the Growler EIS. The Navy evaded analysis by claiming there was not a definitive causal relationship between war plane noise and health effects. It seems that since nobody has yet dropped stone cold dead at the exact moment a Growler has flown over, there’s no need to worry.

“As the Washington Department of Health noted … requiring a definitive causal relationship between aircraft noise and health impacts is an unreasonably high standard that results in nonauditory health effects being excluded from analysis. By relying on this unreasonable standard, the Navy arbitrarily dismisses evidence of nonauditory health impacts caused by noise exposure and ignored or undervalued a growing body of science indicating key health concerns from noise impacts, including impacts from aircraft noise”.

The AG’s complaint references 230 migratory bird and priority species impacted including common murre, marbled murrelet, tufted puffin, great blue heron, harlequin duck, peregrine falcon and bald and golden eagles. The tufted puffin is a state endangered species. The Growler expansion intrudes on essential federally listed threatened marbled murrelet habitat, plus habitat for harbor seals, endangered southern resident killer whales (orcas), Steller sea lions, and many shorebirds – red knots, solitary sandpipers, and black oystercatchers, all of which are species of conservation concern.

As this article describes:

“The literature has shown that noise fundamentally changes behavior, distributions and reproductive success [for wildlife],” said Jesse Barber, who runs the Sensory Ecology Lab at Boise State University. “We can now clearly say that noise is a pollutant, but that takes some time to work its way into policy.”

There’s been no court ruling yet, but the Navy quickly agreed to re-initiate ESA consultation over Growler impacts on murrelets. The orca population is threatened by overflights of coastal areas of the San Juan Islands, Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands, with war plane noise levels up to 120 decibels and sound effects amplified in ocean water, along with potential pollution from fuel dumping and firefighting foam getting into water. The increased Navy flights will release 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, adding to ocean acidification that harms orca food supplies.

The overflights threaten the Hoh Rainforest One Square Inch of Silence site established by ecologist Gordon Hempton in 2005 to protect and monitor Olympic National Park’s soundscape, and marked by a tiny rock. Hempton relates: “Prior to the Navy arriving, it was not only the least noise-polluted national park in the U.S., it was also the most noise-diverse”.

Just last week I received an e-mail alert about the latest Growler outrage. Now the Navy wants to use Washington state land parks for their noxious War Games.

Juvenile bighorn

Juvenile bighorn sheep. Photo: USFWS.

Nellis Efforts to Devour Desert National Wildlife Refuge Public Lands

Nevada was the notorious site of 1960s era above-ground nuclear testing that extended a cancerous rain of radioactivity across the region. This included Idaho, where to this very day fallout victims have still not received compensation.

The Nellis Range includes the nuclear testing site (the NTTR), and sprawls across 2.9 million acres. An immense amount of military airspace extends over much of the state – associated with not just Nellis but also other war ranges – Fallon, the Utah Test and Training Range, Hawthorne, Mountain Home. But the war machine always claims it needs more, more, more for bigger, nastier, outrageously expensive weaponry training. Justification for the Nellis Land Grab includes wanting to “better simulate modern combat wherein planes drop bombs from greater distances and elevations …”.

Against fierce public opposition from all quarters, the Air Force finalized an EIS to seize 300,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (the largest refuge in the contiguous states). and hand over primary management jurisdiction for another 800,000 Refuge acres to the Air Force.

The Nevada Independent described:

“The Air Force already uses about 800,000 acres in the refuge, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has primary jurisdiction over managing the land for conservation. Several groups were concerned the military’s proposal would give the Air Force primary control, allowing it to make decisions about 1.1 million acres within the refuge.

Reacting to the overwhelming public opposition to the military Land Grab, the Nevada Legislature passed a resolution opposing the expansion. Presidential contenders weighed in – Julian CastroElizabeth Warren, Cory Booker. A righteous storm was brewing.

Then Senator Catherine Cortez Masto introduced compromise legislation to reduce the military’s Refuge new land seizure area to 98,000 acres (153 sq. miles). Her bill also would transfer several thousand acres of other public land to the military, still allow 15 threat emitter sites, and would designate 1.3 million acres of wilderness in the Refuge.

Cortez Masto’s bill contains the awful Owyhee Initiative Wilderness military overflight language – where military overflight impacts could get even worse over the proposed wilderness areas of the higher mountainous areas of the Sheep Range, Las Vegas Range, Gass Peak, Papoose, South Spotted Range, Pintwater/East Desert/Spotted Range and Hole-in-the-Rock. Noise is already tremendous at times, since the war planes extensively use the lands below the 4000 ft. WSA belt. The EIS described the Air Force desires to tear open WSAs using roads and build new threat emitter sites, and expand the area of military withdrawn lands:

Almost 90 percent of the DNWR (about 1.4 million acres) has been proposed as wilderness by the USFWS since 1971, and about 590,000 of those acres are in the South Range. Generally, areas proposed for wilderness areas in the South Range correspond to elevations above 4,000 feet above mean sea level. The areas proposed for wilderness on the South Range are managed as de facto wilderness by virtue of USFWS land management policy, which results in significant restriction on Air Force activities to areas below 4,000 feet. Existing roads (mountain roads/passages) other than those used below 4,000 feet are off limits, as is troop movement, ground disturbance, and the development of new locations such as emitter sites and communication sites

The Air Force already gets to train in “full battle spectrum mode” and conduct its “intelligence surveillance reconnaissance” and “irregular warfare” across vast areas of Nellis and other ranges. They just pretty much want it all. It’s unclear to me how the Cortez Masto bill addresses the significant overall increase in military disturbance from the EIS – a 30 percent proposed increase in aircraft operations and munitions expansion, or where new threat emitters (produce electromagnetic radiation used in war games) would be located (inside or outside WSAs/wilderness?).

The Desert Wildlife Refuge was created in 1936 to perpetuate survival of desert bighorn sheep, well before the Air Force started incrementally seizing blocks of the Refuge and other public land in withdrawals and other maneuvers.

Fallon’s Immense BLM Land Grab – Lest Smart Bombs Go Dumb

Not far to the north, the Navy’s “Fallon Range Training Complex Modernization” scheme would drastically expand that war range by over 3 times its current size of 240,000 acres. According to Basin and Range Watch:

The US Navy wants to close and bomb over 769,724 acres of public lands in Churchill, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, and Pershing Counties, Nevada. If Congress agrees to this, there will never be public access again. Several public roads would be closed and several private properties would also just be taken by the government. Beautiful mountains and basins would be closed and anyone caught there would be arrested”.

Fallon would gobble up part of the Monte Cristo Range, the Gabbs Valley, areas of the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and Stillwater Mountains. This includes parts of three BLM WSAs (Clan Alpine, Job Peak, Stillwater). The Navy even wants to defile mountain tops in the Stillwater Range sacred to the Fallon Paiute Shoshone tribe, placing electronic war game equipment on mountain peaks and locking up vast areas. In an Op Ed Tribal Chairman Len George decries the Navy’s aggressive Land Grab:

“ … we strongly oppose the Navy’s proposal to quadruple the size of Naval Air Station Fallon. The Navy’s proposed expansion would close off all public access to 660,000 additional acres of ancestral tribal lands and wilderness areas, turning these sacred public lands into a bombing range. The Navy also seeks to regulate an additional 300,000+ acres, for a total of nearly 1.2 million acres impacted by the base – not including the airspace that will be invaded”.

“… The proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon would destroy our way of life because it would allow the Navy to bomb our burials and other important cultural sites, and deny us access to those areas. Congress would never allow Arlington National Cemetery to be bombed for training exercises or ban the public from going there to pay their respects – our sites deserve the same protection. The proposed expansion of Naval Air Station Fallon is dangerous and disrespectful”.

The claimed Navy “need” to seize public land is that a huge area must be closed to the public for the latest in killing technology, “in case a smart bomb goes dumb”.

In both the Nellis and Fallon analyses, the military rejects use of training simulators – despite the increasing automation of all aspects of death-dealing warfare – including steps to replace pilots with automated systems. Like with Nellis, the Nevada legislature passed a resolution transmitting their opposition to the Fallon Land Grab to Congress, which must vote to release WSA lands.

What I’ve written about is only what I’ve been tracking and have some (though perhaps not perfect) understanding of. It’s certainly not inclusive of the complex military expansion efforts underway. The battles to protect public lands and homes are being fought by citizens and environmental groups in individual locales. But the problem is nation-wide, as an out of control war machine progressively is consuming us all.

Note: The Air Force has now issued the Final F-35 EIS and the top basing choices remain Montgomery and Madison. A Decision Record has not yet been issued. 

***

The not so pure driven snow. Military chaff on new-fallen snow atop Juniper Mountain in the Owyhees. An enormity of environmental concerns surrounds the incessant war training taking place over public lands – chaff, flares that cause wildfires, fossil fuel use climate footprint, use of hazardous devices, many kinds of pollution.

Posted in USAComments Off on How the Military is Raiding Public Lands and Civilian Spaces Across the Western Front

Shut Down Canada Until It Solves Its War, Oil, and Genocide Problem

by DAVID SWANSON

Photograph Source: tuchodi – CC BY 2.0

Indigenous people in Canada are giving the world a demonstration of the power of nonviolent action. The justness of their cause — defending the land from those who would destroy it for short term profit and the elimination of a habitable climate on earth — combined with their courage and the absence on their part of cruelty or hatred, has the potential to create a much larger movement, which is of course the key to success.

This is a demonstration of nothing less than a superior alternative to war, not just because the war weapons of the militarized Canadian police may be defeated by the resistance of the people who have never been conquered or surrendered, but also because the Canadian government could accomplish its aims in the wider world better by following a similar path, by abandoning the use of war for supposedly humanitarian ends and making use of humanitarian means instead. Nonviolence is simply more likely to succeed in domestic and international relations than violence. War is not a tool for preventing but for facilitating its identical twin, genocide.

Of course, the indigenous people in “British Columbia,” as around the world, are demonstrating something else as well, for those who care to see it: a way of living sustainably on earth, an alternative to earth-violence, to the raping and murdering of the planet — an activity closely linked to the use of violence against human beings.

The Canadian government, like its southern neighbor, has an unacknowledged addiction to the war-oil-genocide problem. When Donald Trump says he needs troops in Syria to steal oil, or John Bolton says Venezuela needs a coup to steal oil, it’s simply an acknowledgement of the global continuation of the never-ended operation of stealing North America.

Look at the gas-fracking invasion of unspoiled lands in Canada, or the wall on the Mexican border, or the occupation of Palestine, or the destruction of Yemen, or the “longest ever” war on Afghanistan (which is only the longest ever because the primary victims of North American militarism are still not considered real people with real nations whose destruction counts as real wars) , and what do you see? You see the same weapons, the same tools, the same senseless destruction and cruelty, and the same massive profits flowing into the same pockets of the same profiteers from blood and suffering — the corporations that will be shamelessly marketing their products at the CANSEC weapons show in Ottawa in May.

Much of the profits these days comes from distant wars fought in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, but those wars drive the technology and the contracts and the experience of war veterans that militarize the police in places like North America. The same wars (always fought for “freedom,” of course) also influence the culture toward greater acceptance of the violation of basic rights in the name of “national security” and other meaningless phrases. This process is exacerbated by the blurring of the line between war and police, as wars become endless occupations, missiles become tools of random isolated murder, and activists — antiwar activists, antipipeline activists, antigenocide activists — become categorized with terrorists and enemies.

Not only is war over 100 times more likely where there is oil or gas (and in no way more likely where there is terrorism or human rights violations or resource scarcity or any of the things people like to tell themselves cause wars) but war and war preparations are leading consumers of oil and gas. Not only is violence needed to steal the gas from indigenous lands, but that gas is highly likely to be put to use in the commission of wider violence, while in addition helping to render the earth’s climate unfit for human life. While peace and environmentalism are generally treated as separable, and militarism is left out of environmental treaties and environmental conversations, war is in fact a leading environmental destroyer. Guess who just pushed a bill through the U.S. Congress to allow both weapons and pipelines into Cyprus? Exxon-Mobil.

Solidarity of the longest victims of western imperialism with the newest ones is a source of great potential for justice in the world.

But I mentioned the war-oil-genocide problem. What does any of this have to do with genocide? Well, genocide is an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Such an act can involve murder or kidnapping or both or neither. Such an act can “physically” harm no one. It can be any one, or more than one, of these five things:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Numerous top Canadian officials over the years have stated clearly that the intention of Canada’s child-removal program was to eliminated Indigenous cultures, to utterly remove “the Indian problem.” Proving the crime of genocide does not require the statement of intent, but in this case, as in Nazi Germany, as in today’s Palestine, and as in most if not all cases, there is no shortage of expressions of genocidal intent. Still, what matters legally is genocidal results, and that is what one can expect from stealing people’s land to frack it, to poison it, to render it uninhabitable.

When the treaty to ban genocide was being drafted in 1947, at the same time that Nazis were still being put on trial, and while U.S. government scientists were experimenting on Guatemalans with syphilis, Canadian government “educators” were performing “nutritional experiments” on Indigenous children — that is to say: starving them to death. The original draft of the new law included the crime of cultural genocide. While this was stripped out at the urging of Canada and the United States, it remained in the form of item “e” above. Canada ratified the treaty nonetheless, and despite having threatened to add reservations to its ratification, did no such thing. But Canada enacted into its domestic law only items “a” and “c” — simply omitting “b,” “d,” and “e” in the list above, despite the legal obligation to include them. Even the United States has included what Canada omitted.

Canada should be shut down (as should the United States) until it recognizes that it has a problem and begins to mend its ways. And even if Canada didn’t need to be shut down, CANSEC would need to be shut down.

CANSEC is one of the largest annual weapons shows in North America. Here’s how it describes itself, a list of exhibitors, and a list of the members of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries which hosts CANSEC.

CANSEC facilitates Canada’s role as a major weapons dealer to the world, and the second biggest weapons exporter to the Middle East. So does ignorance. In the late 1980s opposition to a forerunner of CANSEC called ARMX created a great deal of media coverage. The result was a new public awareness, which led to a ban on weapons shows on city property in Ottawa, which lasted 20 years.

The gap left by media silence on Canadian weapons dealing is filled with misleading claims about Canada’s supposed role as a peacekeeper and participant in supposedly humanitarian wars, as well as the non-legal justification for wars known as “the responsibility to protect.”

In reality, Canada is a major marketer and seller of weapons and components of weapons, with two of its top customers being the United States and Saudi Arabia. The United States is the world’s leading marketer and seller of weapons, some of which weapons contain Canadian parts. CANSEC’s exhibitors include weapons companies from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

There is little overlap between the wealthy weapons-dealing nations and the nations where wars are waged. U.S. weapons are often found on both sides of a war, rendering ridiculous any pro-war moral argument for those weapons sales.

CANSEC 2020’s website boasts that 44 local, national, and international media outlets will be attending a massive promotion of weapons of war. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada has been a party since 1976, states that “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.”

The weapons exhibited at CANSEC are routinely used in violation of laws against war, such as the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact — most frequently by Canada’s southern neighbor. CANSEC may also violate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by promoting acts of aggression. Here’s a report on Canadian exports to the United States of weapons used in the 2003-begun criminal war on Iraq. Here’s a report on Canada’s own use of weapons in that war.

The weapons exhibited at CANSEC are used not only in violation of laws against war but also in violation of numerous so-called laws of war, that is to say in the commission of particularly egregious atrocities, and in violation of the human rights of the victims of oppressive governments. Canada sells weapons to the brutal governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Canada may be in violation of the Rome Statute as a result of supplying weapons that are used in violation of that Statute. It is certainly in violation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Canadian weapons are being used in the Saudi-U.S. genocide in Yemen.

In 2015, Pope Francis remarked before a joint session of the United States Congress, “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

An international coalition of individuals and organizations will be converging on Ottawa in May to say No to CANSEC with a seris of events called NoWar2020.

This month two nations, Iraq and the Philippines, have told the United States military to get out. This happens more often than you might think. These actions are part of the same movement that tells the Canadian militarized police to get out of lands they have no rights in. All actions in this movement can inspire and inform all others.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on Shut Down Canada Until It Solves Its War, Oil, and Genocide Problem

Indigenous Resistance Shakes the Canadian State

Indigenous groups resisting a destructive gas pipeline have blockaded one of Canada’s busiest rail lines bringing business as usual to a grinding halt, reports John Clarke

By John Clarke

Global Research,

In early February, the RCMP, Canada’s colonial police force, raided the land defender camps of the Wet’suwet’en people in British Columbia, in order to clear the way for pipeline construction. Clearly, none of the political decision makers responsible for this repressive action ever imagined that it would spark a powerful wave of solidarity actions across Canada. There have been ongoing protests and rallies but the focus has been on the tactic of economic disruption, most notably by blockading the railway network. If the attack on the Wet’suwet’en was driven by the profit needs of extractive capitalism, the resistance that has emerged has targeted the flow of goods and services as the most effective form of counter-attack.

In October of 2018, the provincial government of British Columbia approved the building of a 670 km pipeline to bring liquified natural gas from northern BC to a $40-billion export plant, to be constructed in Kitimat. In BC, the New Democratic Party (NDP) is in power, so it was shameful that Canada’s social democratic party would join with the federal Liberals to provide “a bouquet of government subsidies for BC’s largest carbon polluter.”

From the outset, it was clear that there would be a major problem with driving this environmentally destructive project through Indigenous territory. Unlike the rest of Canada, BC has been built up on disputed or ‘unceded’ land over which no treaties between the Crown and the Indigenous nations were ever drawn up. This is because the process of colonization in BC was especially ruthless and lethal. In 1862, when a smallpox epidemic broke out in Victoria, infected Indigenous people were driven back into the interior of the province, spreading the disease. At least 30,000 died as a result, which was about 60% of the Indigenous population at the time. Following this successful genocide, treaties seemed unnecessary to the colonizers. “The Indians have really no rights to the lands they claim,” concluded land commissioner, Joseph Trutch, in 1864.

Trutch and his friends would doubtless be chagrined to learn that, in the 21st Century, an unintended legacy of their handiwork has emerged. The Wet’suwet’en Nation lays claim to a 22,000 square kilometre unceded territory through which the Coastal GasLink project must pass. Moreover, almost twenty five years ago, in the Delgamuukw ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada held that there is, indeed, Aboriginal title over such land. Coastal GasLink and its apologists make much of the fact that they were able to coerce and cajole twenty Indigenous band councils into signing agreements with them. However, these bands only have authority, under the Indian Act, over the reserves they operate. They have no jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land as a whole, whereas the hereditary chiefs of the Nation have a claim that predates Canada and that various court rulings have acknowledged is still highly relevant.

The hereditary chiefs remain implacably opposed to the pipeline project and neither the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa, the BC government or the pipeline company have the “free, prior and informed consent” that is required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that Canada has signed onto.Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Against the Colonial Policies of the Canadian State

Resistance and Solidarity

The brutal arrogance with which the RCMP were unleashed on the land defenders was so shocking and appalling that it blew up in the faces of those responsible. After a previous assault on the Wet’suwet’en, in January of last year, it was discovered that RCMP planners were ready to shoot to kill. The notes of their meeting included an observation that “lethal overwatch is req’d.,” a reference to the deployment of snipers. After this last raid, a video emerged of a cop training his telescopic sights on the unarmed defenders. The footage and accounts of the militarized police action against people trying to protect their own ancient land was as heartbreaking as it was enraging.

“This is Wet’suwet’en territory. We are unarmed. We are peaceful. You are invaders,” yelled Eve Saint, the daughter of one of the hereditary chiefs. She later told the media that, “I held my feather up and cried because I was getting ripped off my territory and there was nothing I could do about it. That’s the type of violence our people face. It’s embedded in my DNA and hit me in the heart. This is what my people have been going through since contact (with colonizers).”

This ugly use of state power was made all the more vile and disgusting by Justin Trudeau’s hypocrisy. He is fully implicated in the attempt to crush Indigenous rights yet he postures as a champion of ‘reconciliation.’ The response was remarkable and powerful and created a political crisis, as hard-hitting actions took place across the country. BC’s NDP Premier, John Horgan, has been left ‘despondent’ by a solidarity action that disrupted his government’s throne speech. A day of action targeted BC government offices across the province. The Port of Vancouver has been blockaded. On the other side of the country, in Halifax, the Ceres container terminal was blocked by protesters chanting, “Where are we? Mi’kmaqi! Respect Indigenous sovereignty!” as well as, “Shut down Canada!”

It is, however, the rail blockades that have had such a huge economic impact and that have taken things to the level of political crisis. Action taken by residents of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario has prevented the movement of train traffic along a vital corridor connecting Toronto with Ottawa and Montreal for almost two weeks now and has had a national impact. The Mohawks have refused to obey a court injunction ordering them to leave on the grounds that Canadian courts have no right to tell them what to do on their land and they have made clear that they are going nowhere until the just demands of the Wet’suwet’en have been met. The economic impact of their action, along with a series of other rail blockades across Canada, has been enormous and it is growing. It is reported that “wood, pulp and paper producers have lost tens of millions of dollars so far.” At least 66 cargo ships have been unable to unload in BC and the president of the province’s Chamber of Shipping says, “those line-ups are only going to increase, of course ships are continuing to arrive. Eventually, there will be no space and they’ll be waiting off the coast of Canada, which is a situation we’d like to avoid.”

The federal Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller, has now been to Tyendinaga to meet with members of the community. His account of the hours long meeting doesn’t suggest much was resolved at all. Clearly, the Trudeau government is in a very difficult situation. They have seen the response to the RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en and they desperately fear the consequences of moving on the rail blockades. Yet the driving of pipelines through Indigenous territory is vital to their strategic priority of exporting dirty oil and gas to the Pacific market. The Coastal GasLink project is the harbinger of much more to come and the resistance of Indigenous people and their allies poses a threat to all their plans.

The considerable ability of the Liberal Party to serve the interests of the capitalists while containing social resistance is being tested to the limit. The vulnerability to disruption of the global supply chain that has been created during the neoliberal era, with its wide ranging sources of raw materials and component parts and its systems of ‘just in time’ inventory, makes the blockades and the economic disruption even more of a threat than they would have been at an earlier time.

The political crisis that has been unleashed by this wave of action in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en is already very serious but if state power is unleashed to remove the blockades, at Tyendinaga or at other locations, especially if a serious confrontation ensues, the mood across the country is such that disruptive actions could intensify dramatically. In that eventuality, the choice for Trudeau and his provincial allies would be between a dangerous escalation or a retreat on so fundamental an objective as the pursuit of environmentally disastrous extractive capitalism. Sparked by the magnificent defiance of the Wet’suwet’en, a struggle is unfolding with the most important implications for the building of resistance in Canada to the colonial project that Indigenous people face. At the same time, however, it is also creating a precious model for the global struggle against the deadly consequences of corporate climate vandalism.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on Indigenous Resistance Shakes the Canadian State

Russia Bans Most Chinese from Entry: ‘Pure Racism’ or ‘Preventive Reaction’?

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

Russia unexpectedly banned all Chinese except those with diplomatic, business, humanitarian, and transit visas from entering the country, but this unprecedented move was made as a preventive reaction against the spread of the coronavirus and not for racist purposes, though it’s understandable that China might be alarmed by Moscow’s decision since it could lead to other countries following suit for nefarious reasons related to their desire to wage psychological warfare on the Chinese people.

Russia’s Unprecedented Reaction

Russia took the unprecedented step of banning all Chinese except those with diplomatic, business, humanitarian, and transit visas from entering the country as a preventive reaction against the spread of the coronavirus. RT reported this breaking news late Tuesday night, quoting the decree issued by new Prime Minister Mishustin which read that

“From 00:00 local time on February 20, 2020, the passage of citizens of the People’s Republic of China across the state border of the Russian Federation entering the territory of the Russian Federation for labor purposes, for private, educational and tourist purposes, is temporarily suspended.”

Such a move wasn’t made lightly considering Russia’s strategic partnership with China and the increasing convergence of their economies following President Putin’s proposal last year to pair the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), which makes it all the more unexpected and raises some serious questions.

Perfectly Legal…

The Russian government didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind its decision, but it can be credibly assumed that this drastic course of action was undertaken because of Moscow’s unstated belief that the coronavirus epidemic isn’t going to abate anytime soon. Sharing such a large border with the People’s Republic and recently becoming one of its people’s prime tourist destinations after several million of them visited the country last year, Russia could potentially be at risk of a serious coronavirus outbreak if it doesn’t take proper precautions. Infected individuals can reportedly spread the coronavirus even without showing symptoms of the illness, so it makes sense that Russia would prefer to be “safe than sorry” by prohibiting the entry of all Chinese citizens except those with diplomatic, business, humanitarian, and transit visas. All countries, after all, have the right to ensure the security of their people from any type of threat however they see fit, so there’s nothing legally wrong with the measures that Moscow has decided to implement in response to this growing health emergency.

…But Still Controversial

That said, Chinese officials have previously criticized the US for causing panic and spreading fear because of its own preventive reaction to the coronavirus, though America’s response to this epidemic is comparatively milder than the much more drastic decision that Russia just made. It would therefore follow that China’s criticisms against the US would be just as — if not more — applicable against Russia as they are against America, though Beijing might refrain from directly criticizing Moscow due to the spirit of friendship that unites these strategic partners. China understands that the Russian state harbors no racist attitudes towards the Chinese people but is just being extremely (if not “overly”) cautious, unlike some Western countries which have exploited this situation for self-interested political purposes intended to portray the Chinese people in a very negative way that disturbingly borders on — and sometimes outright embodies — racist stereotypes.

Copycats

Nevertheless, it’s completely understandable if China feels alarmed by Russia’s move, though not necessarily because of the reason behind why it was made but due to how this decision might be abused by those same Western actors that Beijing had earlier accused of taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak for advancing their own hostile interests against the People’s Republic. Those same countries might feel emboldened by Russia’s decision and thus follow suit with copycat measures even if they don’t stand as much of a risk from the epidemic as neighboring Russia does, arguing that it isn’t “racist” to do so if even China’s own strategic partner is taking such steps without being criticized by Beijing in the same way. It’s therefore important that Russian media responsibly articulates the reasons behind their country’s decision and how their specific situation differs from others’, emphasizing facts and figures in order to make their case and rebuff any accusations of racism.

“Hoping” For “Hong Kong 2.0”?

Even so, that might not stop other governments from doing the same thing for the same publicly proclaimed reasons, though their intentions might be more nefarious since they could be doing so in order to send a subtle message of hostility against the Chinese people. The psychological warfare motivation behind their moves would be to make the country’s citizens feel “isolated” from the rest of the world, which stands in strong contrast to their hitherto presumption that they were rapidly becoming the center of it as a result of China’s global expansion of economic influence through BRI. Upon imposing their copycat entry restrictions on all Chinese without diplomatic, business, humanitarian, and transit visas, those countries might then prioritize shifting their supply chains outside of China on the basis of long-term “health-economic-strategic security” planning, kicking the country while it’s down in order to exacerbate its domestic challenges so as to “hopefully” incite Hong Kong-like anti-government chaos all across the mainland in the coming future.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia’s decision to ban the entry of all Chinese without diplomatic, business, humanitarian, and transit visas — including those that live outside of China and haven’t been there for over the past three months since before the coronavirus outbreak even began — is certainly controversial and will undoubtedly cause many strong reactions on all sides, but the state’s intentions are not to cause panic and spread fear even if its actions inadvertently result in this outcome. Nor, for that matter, does the Russian government harbor any racist attitudes towards the Chinese people, unlike some of its Western counterparts who have gleefully exploited this epidemic for psychological warfare purposes and are likely to take advantage of Moscow’s move in order to intensify their campaign of pressure against the People’s Republic. On a closing note, the author is personally concerned about the situation and hopes that these temporary restrictions don’t harm the hard-earned friendship between the Russian and Chinese people.

Posted in China, RussiaComments Off on Russia Bans Most Chinese from Entry: ‘Pure Racism’ or ‘Preventive Reaction’?


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