Archive | August 11th, 2020

Egypt man locks his sister in a room for 22 years

An Egyptian man who locked his sister in a house for 22 years has been arrested

Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women (L) was kept locked up by her brother for 22 years
The small room in which Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women was forced to stay in by her brother for 22 years in Egypt, 4 July 2020 [masralarabia/Twitter]
The small room in which Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women (R) was kept locked up by her brother for 22 years in Egypt, 4 July 2020 [masralarabia/Twitter]

An Egyptian man who locked his sister in a house for 22 years in Upper Egypt was detained pending investigation following the discovery, reports Egypt Independent.

Fadia Ismail’s imprisonment was discovered after neighbours reported her brother to the public prosecution.

After she was rescued, 56-year-old Fadia was examined by a doctor who reported she was suffering serious health issues due to her confinement.

Fadia suffered psychological and physical damage as a result of the ordeal.

READ: Egypt suspends Islamic preacher who says women are harassed due to tight clothing

A photo of Fadia published on Egypt Independent shows that she is severely malnourished.

For the final 11 months of her confinement her family completely neglected her, giving her little food.

Egypt Independent reported the man’s wife saying that Fadia had been locked up to stop her from running away. However, the Rassd news site said Fadia had been detained as a result of a dispute over money as she was owed money for her share of the family home.

Admitting to locking up his sister, Fadia’s brother said he had done so because she suffered mental health issues and he had to protect her.

Photos of the room where Fadia was kept, with a straw roof, a sand floor and a blanket or a rug in the corner.

The family live in the village of Tala in Minya, the capital of Upper Egypt, approximately 245 kilometres south of Cairo.

Posted in Egypt, Human RightsComments Off on Egypt man locks his sister in a room for 22 years

Coronavirus-Linked Hunger Could Cause 12,000 Deaths a Day

Food bank

Volunteers prepare to load vehicles with boxes of food at a food bank in the Los Angeles County city of Duarte, California on July 8, 2020 as the record for most coronavirus cases in a single day is set in California. Oxfam has warned that as many as 12,000 people around the world could die per day by the end of the year due to hunger related to the COVID-19 pandemic.FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY

BY CHANTAL DA SILVA 

As many as 12,000 people around the world could die per day by the end of the year due to hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic, Oxfam has warned in a new report.

Even before the pandemic began, hunger had been on the rise, with 821 million people estimated to be “food insecure” in 2019, according to Oxfam.

However, in its new report titled “The Hunger Virus,” the organization suggests that as many as 121 million more people could be “pushed to the brink of starvation” this year due to the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers,” Oxfam America President Abby Maxman said in a statement sent out by the organization.

Now, mass unemployment, disruptions to food protection and supplies and inadequate access to aid could put hundreds of thousands of more lives at risk.

Oxfam’s report identifies ten “extreme hunger hotspots” around the world that have been particularly hard-hit by hunger due to the coronavirus pandemic: “Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti.”

Countries such as Venezuela and South Sudan have seen food crises worsened as a result of the pandemic, the report warned, while “middle income countries” like India, South Africa, and Brazil have seen millions of people who were already struggling to get by pushed into poverty and hunger.

However, Oxfam said in a press release, the United States is also “not immune to this hunger crisis.”

“The pandemic obliterated systems that had, for years, kept millions one small step away from poverty and food insecurity,” Oxfam said. “Countless businesses shuttered, leaving millions unemployed and struggling to pay bills. Schools closed, removing reliable sources of breakfast and lunch for millions of students. The food chain faltered—from produce fields to meat plants—causing prices to rise.”

“The awful truth is that food insecurity is exploding here in our own backyard,” said Maxman. “Every town has people who are going to bed hungry right now. Those who were on the edge before are now struggling to stay afloat. In Mississippi, nearly a quarter of all residents are experiencing food insecurity; in Louisiana, over a third of all children are facing empty cupboards.”

Oxfam’s warning comes amid findings from a recent survey that found that nearly half of U.S. households have seen their income decline amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the study conducted by Bankrate, a New York financial services company, and YouGov from June 18 to 23, 49 percent of adult participants said they had experienced a negative impact on their income during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Of that 49 percent, just 17 percent said their income has returned to normal since the outbreak began, while another 42 percent said they believed their finances would return to normal within six months. At least four percent believed their income would never recover.

In every region in the world, Oxfam said, women and women-headed households are more likely to be impacted by hunger.

“Women are already vulnerable because of systemic discrimination that sees them earn less and own fewer assets than men,” the organization said. Further, it said, women “make up a large proportion of groups, such as informal workers, that have been hit hard by the economic fallout of the pandemic, and have also borne the brunt of a dramatic increase in unpaid care work as a result of school closures and family illness.”

While people around the world continue to suffer, Maxman said, “those at the top are continuing to make a profit.”

“Eight of the biggest food and drink companies paid out over $18 billion to shareholders since January even as the pandemic was spreading across the globe–more than ten times the current [United Nations] appeal to stop people going hungry,” the Oxfam America president said.

“Governments must contain the spread of this deadly disease, but it is equally vital they take action to stop the pandemic killing as many–if not more–people from hunger,” said Eric Muñoz, the senior manager of food and climate justice at Oxfam America.

“Governments can save lives now by fully funding the UN’s COVID-19 appeal, making sure aid gets to those who need it most, and cancelling the debts of developing countries to free up funding for social protection and healthcare,” Muñoz said.

“To end this hunger crisis, governments must also build fairer, more robust, and more sustainable food systems, that put the interests of food producers and workers before the profits of big food and agribusiness,” Muñoz said.

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Coronavirus-Linked Hunger Could Cause 12,000 Deaths a Day

Britain is two-faced over Saudi Arabia

Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab in London UK on 14 February 2020 [Kate Green/Anadolu Agency]

Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab in London UK on 14 February 2020 [Kate Green/Anadolu Agency]

Jonathan Fryer

On 6 July, in a statement to the House of Commons, the Conservative Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled an important plank in Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy. For the first time in decades the country would unilaterally invoke sanctions against individuals and organisations deemed to have grossly violated human rights through such acts as assassinations, extra-judicial killings, torture and degrading treatment, slavery and forced labour. Action against perpetrators would mainly take the form of seizure of assets and travel bans.

It was striking that of the almost 50 names cited by the minister, 20 were from Saudi Arabia, including Saud Al-Qahtani, formerly a close advisor to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). It is no coincidence that Al-Qahtani, along with Ahmed Al-Asiri, Deputy Head of the Kingdom’s Intelligence Service, and other Saudis on the list had  just a few days previously been indicted in absentia in a court in Istanbul, charged with the unlawful killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in that city in October 2018.

The details of that crime, in which Khashoggi was allegedly strangled and then dismembered in the building before his remains were spirited away to an unknown location, shocked the world. Five unnamed men were tried and sentenced to death for the killing at a trial in Saudi Arabia last December which observers were not allowed to attend. But both the Turkish and British authorities believe that verdict was an attempt to brush the affair under the carpet. Undeterred, the charges in Turkey and by Britain are now levelled at 15 members of a hit team allegedly sent to Turkey to carry out the operation as well as the men who are believed to have orchestrated it.

READ: UK ‘complicit’ in devastating ‘unlawful’ Saudi led blockade of Yemen

When announcing the asset seizures and travel bans targeting the 20 men (along with others from Russia, North Korea and Myanmar), Raab declared unambiguously that, “today this government and this house sends a very clear message on behalf of the British people that those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, the henchman of dictators, will not be free to waltz into this country.”

The news must have caused shock waves in MBS’s inner circle in Riyadh, as they have long seen Britain as Saudi Arabia’s strongest European ally. MBS himself enjoys very cordial relations with Britain’s royal family. The prince strongly denies having ordered the Khashoggi murder but in a BBC interview last September he said that he accepted responsibility for the killing as a Saudi leader – inevitably conjuring up memories of the sign US President Harry S. Truman kept in the Oval Office in the White House: The Buck Stops Here.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 24 October 2018 [Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 24 October 2018 [Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images]

Opposition Labour MPs in the British parliament welcomed Raab’s announcement. It was, after all, a Labour Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook, who promoted the idea that Britain should conduct an “ethical foreign policy” way back in 1997, though few subsequent UK governments have truly lived up that high ideal. However, warm words for the Conservatives from the opposition benches were short lived, as less than 24 hours after Raab’s Commons statement the government indicated that it intends to renew arms sales to Saudi Arabia. These were suspended on humanitarian grounds following a court case by the NGO Campaign against the Arms Trade (CAAT). CAAT argued successfully that British weapons could be used illegally against civilians in the civil war in Yemen in which for the past five years the Saudis have been leading a coalition of intervention forces in defence of the ousted central government.

READ: UK broke inspection rules at Scottish bomb factory supplying Saudi

However, according to the UK government, a subsequent review of the situation in Yemen found only “isolated incidents” of possible violations but no pattern of non-compliance with humanitarian norms and no clear risk of future serious breaches. CAAT reacted angrily to this sudden volte face over the arms embargo, accusing the government of “rank hypocrisy” in taking this step just one day after the Khashoggi killing sanctions were announced. The Labour Party then chimed in saying that these “mixed messages” undermined the UK’s claim to be a human rights defender.

The United Nations has verified the deaths of around 7,700 civilian deaths in Yemen since 2015, though anti-war campaigners argue that the real figure is considerably higher. What is indisputable is that there have been a far higher number of civilian injuries and millions of Yemenis, especially children, have fallen victim to hunger and various diseases, including cholera. An estimated £5 billion ($6.3 billion) worth of British arms has been licensed to Saudi Arabia over the past five years, though by no means all of those have been destined for use in Yemen.

Human rights organisations and aid agencies have been vocal in condemning the war in Yemen and periodically there are demonstrations in London and other cities calling for an end to British involvement. However, the British government argues that Saudi Arabia is a long-standing ally and that if British arms manufacturers did not sell their weapons their competitors from France and elsewhere would.

Moreover, given the way so many of the political and military conflicts in the Middle East are these days seen through the optic of Saudi-Iranian rivalry – with the Iranians giving political and limited military backing to the Houthis in Yemen – London tends to line up alongside Washington in backing Saudi Arabia. Of course, that backing is not absolute. Unlike the Trump administration, Britain’s Conservative government really would like to see the 2015 Iran nuclear deal functioning again. But if push came to shove, Riyadh would be seen as a more reliable ally than Tehran.

READ: UK PM faces backlash over DfID merger which endangers projects across the Middle East

The events of the past few days nonetheless highlight the ambiguity and inconsistency inherent in British government policy towards Saudi Arabia, which could be characterised as two-faced. Though Raab and his predecessors – who include the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson – warmly welcome what they see as positive reforms that have taken place domestically in the Desert Kingdom, largely at the behest of MBS, they cannot ignore the fact that some of the very violations Raab highlighted in his statement to the House are prevalent inside Saudi Arabia. Executions have actually risen over the past 12 months and what human rights lawyers would consider cruel or degrading punishments still occur.

Small wonder, therefore, that Saudi dissidents – some of whom have found safe haven in Britain – are exasperated at what they see as little real action by British governments to hold Saudi Arabia to account. If Raab lives up to his declared intention then at least the 20 Saudi nationals cited in the Foreign Office’s new list of sanctions will find their ability to travel to the United Kingdom restricted and risk having any assets here seized. Along with nationals from other Gulf States, many Saudis have property in the UK and in non-COVID-19 times often spend the summer months here. But monitoring the direct or indirect effectiveness of the sanctions could prove tricky.

The British government is proud that it has been able to demonstrate what it refers to as the country’s post-Brexit “independence” by unilaterally announcing sanctions without any need to coordinate moves with the EU27, let alone with the United Nations. But it might have found such solidarity useful. As it is, because of the juxtaposition of resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the announcement of the sanctions there will doubtless be suspicions in the ranks of the opposition that behind the façade of a more human rights focused foreign policy it will probably just be business as usual.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UKComments Off on Britain is two-faced over Saudi Arabia

Are Jews ‘indigenous’ to ‘Israel’?

Are Jews ‘indigenous’ to Israel? One rabbi said ‘no’ on Twitter – and went viral

Ari Feldman

A New York rabbi tweeted on Wednesday that Jews cannot be considered indigenous in any land, prompting a debate on Twitter over the meaning of indigenous identity and whether Jews can claim it.

His tweet hit a nerve among Jews, some of whom tie their connection to Israel to extensive historical evidence of continuous Jewish settlement of the land for thousands of years – but who many be uncomfortable using a term usually reserved for people native to a land that was colonized by European empires, and who are now minorities that struggle for political representation in those countries.

“Let me say this as plainly as possible: Jews are not an indigenous people,” wrote Rabbi Andrue Kahn, an assistant rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. “It is appropriative to make use of this word when referring to our relationship to the land of Israel, and it undermines the difficult work being done to fix the ongoing oppression of indigenous peoples.”

Kahn’s tweet received nearly 10,000 likes and hundreds of comments, provoking derision, praise and interested debate. Some readers agreed, saying that Jews – especially those descended from Eastern Europeans – are too far removed from ancestral communities in the Land of Israel to be considered “indigenous” there today.

Others disagreed strongly, saying that Jews are indigenous by virtue their historical and cultural ties to ancient Jewish societies in what is now Israel. One poster even suggested Kahn’s comments are anti-Semitic.  TOP ARTICLES1/5READ MOREThe Jewish Uruguayan movie we all need to bewatching now on Netflix

Kahn declined to respond to questions from the Forward.

There is no official definition of an indigenous group, according to the United Nations. But the U.N.’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has a list of criteria for identifying indigenous groups.

An indigenous people, first of all, self-identifies as such. They may also have historical continuity with pre-colonial societies; distinct culture, language and beliefs; and be intent on maintaining their ancestral environments.

By these criteria, some have argued, Jews should be considered indigenous to Israel.

Tema Smith, who has written for the Forward, suggested that arguing over who in Israel is indigenous is pointless, because the term was meant to empower “indigenous peoples still living on land that has been colonized and fighting for sovereignty.”


Tema Smith@temasmith
Replying to @temasmith @rabbiandykahn and 3 othersIt bothers the hell out of me tbh. As someone Jewish I’m not “indigenous” to Israel. As someone Black I’m not “indigenous” to Africa. They might be my ancestral homelands but that doesn’t make me an indigenous person to those lands.12:40 AM · Jul 8, 2020 from Toronto, Ontario32See Tema Smith’s other Tweets

But nonetheless, the concept of Jewish indigenous ties to Israel is frequently invoked and debated within the context of the conflict over the land that the Israeli government controls.

Jewish communities have inhabited Israel for more than 3,000 years, claims that are only disputed by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and some Palestinian leaders.

But the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel – which was established there, and not in other available territories like Uganda, because of Jews’ historic and religious ties to the land – also led to Palestinians being forced out of their homes during the state’s founding, and then living under an often repressive military occupation in the West Bank.


Will Israel really annex the West Bank (and what happens next)? Watch the video of our June 17 Zoomversation with David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.


“Evaluated independently from Zionism, Judaism and Jewish peoplehood meet many of the criteria for being indigenous,” David Mevorach Seidenberg, an early proponent of egalitarian Hasidic Judaism, wrote in an essay for Tikkun in June. “Evaluated independently from Judaism and Jewish peoplehood and historical context, Zionism is barely distinguishable from settler colonialism.”

Palestinian groups say that they have an ancestral connection to the land Israel is located in that makes them an indigenous group as well. In August 2018, several Palestinian groups attended a summit of Native peoples hosted by the indigenous activist group Red Nation in Albuquerque, N.M. In a statement, those groups compared the displacement of Native Americans by European settlers to the displacement of Palestinians after the 1948 War of Independence in Israel.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, however, says that while there are Palestinian groups that are indigenous, such as the Bedouin people, not all Palestinians are indigenous.

Some Israelis that have suggested Jews are indigenous have acknowledged that Palestinians are indigenous to the land as well.

“We accept that there are two indigenous peoples that both of them have rights,” Dani Dayan, Israel’s Consul General in New York, said in a recent Zoom talk. “The moment the Palestinians will come to the fact that history created two indigenous peoples, then the peace process will start.”


Five Yiddish comedians walk into a bar… Have you heard that one? Join Forverts editor Rukhl Schaechter as she talks to contemporary stars of Yiddish comedy and mavens of Yiddish humor. Don’t worry — the jokes will be fresh. Register for Zoom here.


Yet the Israeli government does not consider Bedouin people to be an indigenous group, and they face frequent demolitions of their villages throughout the Negev desert.

Kahn, for his part, wrote on Twitter that he does not consider Palestinians to be indigenous to Israel.


Rabbi Andy Kahn@rabbiandykahn
Replying to @rabbiandykahn @Jacob_Labendz and @Roulan67Palestinians, I think, are more a post Pan Arab group that would have (should have) had their own country akin to Lebanon, Syria, etc. And the indigenous people in this equation would have been the Druze and the Bedouin. 2/3:10 PM · Jul 7, 20203See Rabbi Andy Kahn’s other Tweets

For many commenters, however, the debate came down to whether they feel that their Jewishness makes them a “native” in Israel – as opposed to someone connected to a religion and culture with its roots in that land. Tasha Kaminsky, a nonprofit fundraiser and the cofounder of a Jewish community center in St. Louis, Mo., jokingly wrote that, if anything, she felt “vaguely indigenous to Florida.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Are Jews ‘indigenous’ to ‘Israel’?

Elderly Palestinian dies after 26 years in Nazi Camp

Elderly Palestinian dies after 26 years in Israeli prison

Image

Tamara Nassar 

A Palestinian prisoner died on Wednesday after 26 years in Israeli prison.

Palestinian human rights groups and political parties accused Israel of years of medical neglect in the death of Saadi al-Gharabli.

Israeli prison authorities transferred al-Gharabli from Eshel prison in the south to the Kaplan Medical Center in central Israel a few days before he died. He was reportedly unconscious.

Al-Gharabli, 75, had various medical conditions, including prostate cancer. Israeli prison authorities failed to provide him with adequate medical treatment.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club said al-Gharabli faced the “slow killing” of medical negligence over years of imprisonment.

It says al-Gharabli is one of 69 Palestinians who have died from medical negligence in Israeli custody since 1967.

He was arrested in 1994 for alleged involvement in the killing of an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv and was given a life sentence.

He spent the first 12 years of his detention in solitary confinement.

Al-Gharabli was from the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and had ten children. He was one of the oldest and longest-serving Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Political parties condemnation

The executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization said al-Gharabli’s death is “a new crime added to the record of crimes committed against the prisoners movement as a result of medical negligence.”

The Islamic Jihad resistance group assigned Israel “full responsibility for the policy of medical neglect that led to the martyrdom of many heroic prisoners in occupation prisons.”

Hamas also accused prison authorities of negligence in the death of al-Gharabli.

The former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Rami Hamdallah, condemned the conditions of al-Gharabli’s death and accused Israeli prison authorities of neglecting his care.


Rami Hamdallah@RamiHamdalla
تعازينا الحارة لعائلة الأسير سعدي الغرابلي المحكوم بالسجن مدى الحياة، والتي قضى منها 26 عاما في الأسر، واستشهد نتيجة لاستمرار سياسة الإهمال الطبي في السجون الاسرائيلية. نتمنى من العلي القدير ان يتغمده برحمته، ويلهم عائلته الكرام وشعبنا الفلسطيني وأهلنا في قطاع غزة الصبر والسلوان

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However, the Palestinian Authority has a lengthy record of collusion with Israel’s military occupation. This includes detaining and interrogating Palestinians who are later arrested and tortured by Israel.

There are currently 4,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including more than 500 serving life sentences.

Child detainees

Israeli is currently holding 160 Palestinian children in prison.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Israel accelerated its arrest of Palestinian children, despite international calls to reduce the world’s prison population in fear of outbreaks.

Israel arrested three Palestinian teens last month, disrupting their high school exams, known as the tawjihi.

Amin al-Sulaibi, Khalaf Shakarneh and Saifuddin Najajreh – all aged 17 – were detained in separate pre-dawn raids on their homes in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on 9 June.

Passing the tawjihi is required to graduate from high school.

Palestinian children must often repeat a grade upon release from Israeli prisons, according to Defense for Children International Palestine.

“Israeli authorities understand the significance of the tawjihi exams,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a program director with the rights group, stated.

“The intention is to detain children knowing they will not be able to complete their education rather than to hold a child accountable for any specific wrongdoing.”

The children’s advocacy group documented 120 education-related violations by the Israeli military against children between last August and February of this year.

These include the detention of children from or near schools and attacks against schools.

“Palestinian children frequently experience physical violence and harassment on the way to and from school, military and settler raids, hate speech graffitied on school walls, and the total and partial demolition of schools,” Defense for Children International Palestine said.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Elderly Palestinian dies after 26 years in Nazi Camp

George Orwell was a reactionary snitch who made a blacklist of leftists for the British government

George Orwell was a reactionary snitch who made a blacklist of leftists for the British government

It is fascinating seeing people in the 21st century, especially self-declared leftists, still lionizing George Orwell, the worst kind of reactionary turncoat.

For years, the cat has been out of the bag: George Orwell secretly worked for the UK’s Foreign Office. At the end of his life, he was an outright counter-revolutionary snitch, spying on leftists on behalf of the imperialist British government.

The US government also found Orwell’s work quite useful. The coup-plotting, death squad-training assassins and torturers at the Central Intelligence Agency turned Orwell’s books into a propaganda weapon. The CIA even funded the Animal Farm movie, which is now mandatory viewing in many high schools.

But that happened after Orwell’s death in 1950. What is more scandalous is that he knowingly collaborated with the UK government when he was still alive.

Orwell’s List” is a term that should be known by anyone who claims to be a person of the left. It was a blacklist Orwell compiled for the British government’s Information Research Department, an anti-communist propaganda unit set up for the Cold War.

The list includes dozens of suspected communists, “crypto-communists,” socialists, “fellow travelers,” and even LGBT people and Jews — their names scribbled alongside the sacrosanct 1984 author’s disparaging comments about the personal predilections of those blacklisted.

The document was declassified by the British government in 2003. The leading neoliberal newspaper The Guardian reported at the time that the blacklist “contains the names of 38 public figures, from the actors Charlie Chaplin and Michael Redgrave to the author JB Priestley, whom Orwell suggested should not be trusted by the IRD as anti-communist propagandists.”

Timothy Garton Ash, the historian who obtained the document, revealed that Orwell gave the blacklist to his close friend Celia Kirwan, who worked for the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department, from his sickbed in May 1949.

Orwell had told Kirwan in April that the list included journalists and writers who “in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists.”

“There seems to be general agreement by Orwell’s fans, left and right, to skate gently over Orwell’s suspicions of Jews, homosexuals and blacks, also over the extreme ignorance of his assessments,” wrote legendary radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, sardonically referring to the anti-communist blacklist as “St. George’s List.”

“If any other postwar left intellectual was suddenly found to have written mini-diatribes about blacks, homosexuals and Jews, we can safely assume that subsequent commentary would not have been forgiving,” he added. “Here there’s barely a word.”

Cockburn’s The Nation article on the subject, “St. George’s List,” is difficult to find today. I have republished it in full below. The article was also expanded into “The Fable of the Weasel,” Cockburn’s foreword for John Reed’s Animal Farm parody Snowball’s Chance.

Apologists insist Orwell simply “sold out” later in life and became a cranky conservative, yet the story is more complex. Orwell had a consistent political thread throughout his life. This explains how he could go from fighting alongside a Spanish Trostkyite militia in a multi-tendency war against fascism to demonizing the Soviet Union as The Real Enemy — before returning home to imperial Britain, where he became a social democratic traitor who castigated capitalism while collaborating with the capitalist state against revolutionaries trying to create socialism.

Sure, the USSR did some objectionable things, but it was also the only large country in the entire world that supported the Spanish Republicans in their fight against fascism (excluding a bit of extra support from Mexico). The Soviet Union understood that one cannot have a revolution if one cannot even defeat the fascist counterrevolution first — a lesson many on the left still have not learned today.

Yet leftists like Orwell and his devoted followers continue to lament Kronstadt and revel in their ideological purity — while conveniently living relatively comfortable lives in Western imperialist countries that commit much more heinous crimes throughout the world every day.

Orwell spent WWII writing about how evil the Nazi-destroying USSR was

George Orwell’s infantile politics are most evident in his magnum opus, 1984. And one of the most important reviews of this book was not by a political scholar or philosopher, but rather by none other than science fiction master Isaac Asimov.

In his review of 1984, Asimov rips the novel to shreds. He also points out a shocking fact that conveniently escapes the myriad disciples of the British author: George Orwell spent the peak years of genocidal destruction of World War II writing a childish story about how evil the Nazi-killing Soviet Union supposedly was.

As Asimov points out:

He [Orwell] wasn’t much affected, apparently, by the Nazi brand of totalitarianism, for there was no room within him except for his private war with Stalinist communism. Consequently, when Great Britain was fighting for its life against Nazism, and the Soviet Union fought as an ally in the struggle and contributed rather more than its share in lives lost and in resolute courage, Orwell wrote Animal Farm, which was a satire of the Russian Revolution and what followed, picturing it in terms of a revolt of barnyard animals against human masters.

He completed Animal Farm in 1944 and had trouble finding a publisher, since it wasn’t a particularly good time for upsetting the Soviets. As soon as the war came to an end, however, the Soviet Union was fair game, and Animal Farm was published.

Orwell wrote this childish novel — now basically mandatory reading in US high schools — in 1943 and 1944, at the height of the Nazi Holocaust.

That is to say, while the genocidal Nazi regime was mowing down Red Army soldiers with warplanes, tanks, and machine guns — and while SS officers were shoving Jews, Romani, and disabled people into ovens and gas chambers — George Orwell was occupying his time writing a story about barn animals and how Stalin was a big mean pig.

The Battle of Stalingrad, one of the largest battles in human history, ended in 1943 — the year Orwell began work on Animal Farm. In this battle alone, half a million Soviet soldiers sacrificed their lives to defeat fascism.

In the entire war, more than 26 million Soviets died — compared to just around 400,000 Brits and 400,000 Americans. Even virulent right-wing colonialist and racist Winston Churchill, an inveterate anti-communist, had to admit the undeniable fact that “it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the German army,” or, as he repeated in 1944, “it is the Red Army that has torn the guts out of the filthy Nazis.”

But if you were to read Orwell, you would think that the Soviets were the real evil ones. As Asimov observed in his review, in 1984, “Orwell didn’t want readers to mistake the villains for Nazis. The picture is of Stalinism, and Stalinism only.”

In fact Orwell had nothing at all to say about the enormous Soviet sacrifice in World War II. He was much more interested in demonizing the USSR and everything it stood for. Because, like much too many anti-communist “leftists,” Orwell’s hatred of communists exceeded his hatred of genocidal fascists (something he shared in common with Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain).

Isaac Asimov was no communist; he was much more of a progressive New Deal Democrat. But even he was shocked at Orwell’s childish personal obsessions, noting that, “to the end of his life, he [Orwell] carried on a private literary war with the communists, determined to win in words the battle he had lost in action.”

Asimov was also struck simply by how bad 1984 is as a piece of literature. “I read it and found myself absolutely astonished at what I read,” he recalls. “I wondered how many people who talked about the novel so glibly had ever read it; or if they had, whether they remembered it at all. I felt I would have to write the critique if only to set people straight.”

But there is a reason we remember Orwell. And it is not because of his literary prowess. It is because of the novel’s political utility to reactionary capitalist and imperialist governments. Asimov is careful to point out:

By the time the book [1984] came out in 1949, the Cold War was at its height. The book therefore proved popular. It was almost a matter of patriotism in the West to buy it and talk about it, and perhaps even to read parts of it, although it is my opinion that more people bought it and talked about it than read it, for it is a dreadfully dull book – didactic, repetitious, and all but motionless.

From British colonial officer to anti-communist snitch

None of this is to even mention the earlier life of George Orwell, the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (of no know familial relation to Tony Blair, although their fake “left-wing” politics are certainly related). The son of a British colonial officer from a wealthy landed family, Orwell made no secret of the fact that he began his career as a British imperial official working in the Crown’s colonies in southeast Asia.

Sure, Orwell later denounced his past work on behalf of the British empire, but he held on to his colonialist mentality.

Orwell’s politics are social chauvinist in the rawest sense. It is no coincidence that many of his avowed admirers today lionize and whitewash “revolutionary” extremist Salafi-jihadist militias in Syria and Libya, while at the same moment violently condemning progressive revolutions in Cuba, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, and beyond as mere “Stalinist bureaucracies.”

That is to say, it should come as no surprise that the architect of Animal Farm is adored by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Michael Weiss. George Orwell was the first in a long line of Trots-turned-neocons.

“St. George’s List,” by Alexander Cockburn

The following article was first published as Cockburn’s column “Beat the Devil” in The Nation on December 7, 1998

In our last installment we left the two most notable anti-Communist literary figures in postwar England about to enjoy a country weekend together, with George Orwell visiting Arthur Koestler’s cottage in Wales. This was Christmas 1946. Also present were Koestler’s second wife, Mamaine, and her twin sister, Celia Kirwan. Orwell took a shine to Celia and indeed proposed to her soon after they were back in London. She turned him down.

The most notorious component of the subsequent transactions was the remission by Orwell to Kirwan of a list of the names of persons on the left whom he deemed security risks, as Communists or fellow travelers. The notoriety stems from the fact that Kirwan worked for the Information Research Department, lodged in the Foreign Office but in fact overseen by the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6.

When Orwell’s secret denunciations surfaced a couple of years ago, there was a medium-level commotion. Now, with the publication of Peter Davison’s maniacally complete twenty-volume collected Orwell, the topic of Orwell as government snitch has flared again, with more lissome apologies for St. George from the liberal/left and bellows of applause from cold-warriors, taking the line that if Orwell, great hero of the non-Communist left, named names, then that provides moral cover for all the Namers of Names who came after him.

Those on the non-Com left have rushed to shore up St. George’s reputation. Some emphasize Orwell’s personal feelings toward Kirwan. The guy was in love. Others argue Orwell was near death’s door, traditionally a time for confessionals. Others have insisted that Orwell didn’t really name names, and, anyway (this was Ian Hamilton in the London Review of Books), “he was forever making lists” — a fishing log, a log of how many eggs his hens laid — so why not a snitch list?

Christopher Hitchens hastened into print in Vanity Fair with a burrito con todo of these approaches. “Orwell named no names and disclosed no identities.” Actually, he did both, as in “Parker, Ralph. Underground member and close FT [fellow traveler]? Stayed on in Moscow. Probably careerist.” Presumably these secret advisories to an IRD staffer whom Hitchens describes as not only a “trusted friend” and “old flame” but also-no supporting evidence offered for this odd claim-“a leftist of heterodox opinions” had consequences. Blacklists usually do. No doubt the list was passed on in some form to American intelligence agencies that made due note of those listed as fellow travelers and duly proscribed them under the McCarran Act.

Hitchens speaks of Orwell’s “tendresse” for Kirwan. He insists Orwell “wasn’t interested in unearthing heresy or in getting people fired or in putting them under the discipline of a loyalty oath,” though as opposed to the mellow tendresse for secret agent Kirwan, he had “an acid contempt for the Communists who had betrayed their cause and their country once before and might do so again.”

Here Orwell would surely have given a vigorous nod. Orwell’s defenders claim that he was only making sure the wrong sort of person wasn’t hired by the Foreign Office to write essays on the British way of life. But Orwell made it clear to the IRD he was identifying people who were “unreliable” and who, worming their way into organizations like the British Labor Party, “might be able to do enormous mischief.” Loyalty was the issue.

There seems to be general agreement by Orwell’s fans, left and right, to skate gently over Orwell’s suspicions of Jews, homosexuals and blacks, also over the extreme ignorance of his assessments. Of Paul Robeson he wrote, “very anti-white. [Henry] Wallace supporter.” Only a person who instinctively thought all blacks were anti-white could have written this piece of stupidity. One of Robeson’s indisputable features, consequent upon his intellectual disposition and his connections with the Communists, was that he was most emphatically not “very anti-white.” Ask the Welsh coal miners for whom Robeson campaigned.

If any other postwar left intellectual was suddenly found to have written mini-diatribes about blacks, homosexuals and Jews, we can safely assume that subsequent commentary would not have been forgiving. Here there’s barely a word about Orwell’s antiSemitism — “Deutscher (Polish Jew),” “Driberg, Tom. English Jew,” “Chaplin, Charles (Jewish?),” on which the usually sensitive Norman Podhoretz was silent in National Review and which Hitchens softly alludes to as “a slightly thuggish side” — or about his crusty dislike of pansies, vegetarians, peaceniks, women in tweed skirts and others athwart the British Way. Much of the time he sounds like a cross between Evelyn Waugh, a much better writer, and Paul Johnson, as in Orwell’s comment that “one of the surest signs of [Conrad’s] genius is that women dislike his books.” The racist drivel about Robeson and about George Padmore — “Negro. African origin? Expelled CP about 1936. Nevertheless pro-Russian. Main emphasis anti-white” — arouses no comment.

Then there’s the IRD, an outfit that, at the time of Orwell’s listmaking, was strenuously reaching out to Ukrainian nationalists, many of whom had enthusiastically assisted the Nazi Einsatzgruppen as they went about liquidating Jews and Communists. One IRD man working in this capacity was Robert Conquest, a big Orwell fan and Kirwan admirer. I discussed his role in an exchange with him in The Nation in 1989, one I remember Hitchens said he’d read closely, which makes his studiously vague reference in The Nation to “something named the Information Research Department” disingenuous. Conquest, in the TLS, cites a letter of Orwell’s to Koestler as evidence that Orwell was well aware of what the IRD was up to with the Ukrainians and approved.

When someone becomes a saint, everything is mustered as testimony to his holiness. So it is with St. George and his list. Thus, in 1998 we have fresh endorsement of all the cold war constructs as they were shaped in the immediate postwar years, when the cold war coalition from right to left signed on to fanatical anti-Communism. The IRD, disabled in the seventies by a Labor Foreign Minister on the grounds it was a sinkhole of right-wing nuts, would have been pleased.

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The Nazi entity is a settler colony, annexing native land is what it does

Since its early days of colonising Palestine, the Zionist movement has always aimed to establish a Greater ‘Israel’.

by Mark Muhannad Ayyash

A Palestinian man stands in front of Israeli forces during a protest against Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on February 25, 2020 [File: Reuters/Raneen Sawafta]
A Palestinian man stands in front of Nazi forces during a protest against the Nazi Jewish settlements in the Nazi-occupied West Bank on February 25, 2020 [File: Reuters/Raneen Sawafta]

The international rejection of Israel’s plan to formally annex even more Palestinian land is based on two arguments: the annexation is a violation of international law and it defeats the prospects of a two-state solution.

The world view of this international consensus underscores as problematic the lack of a reciprocal dialogue between the sides, their inability to compromise and the unilateral actions that inhibit peace efforts. At the same time, it foregrounds conventional peace-building processes that emphasise mutual recognition as well as economic and security cooperation.

There is basically a belief in the international community that universal international laws and norms can facilitate a just outcome to the conflict with two independent states living side by side.

This world view is operating in a diplomatic space that has lost all connection to the realities that ordinary Palestinians face. The Palestinian losses are much more serious than is conventionally suggested in the “save the two-state solution before it is too late” type of thinking.

It is already a very late hour for the prospects of Palestinian freedom and sovereignty. A different lens must, therefore, be adopted, which first and foremost underscores the logic that underlies the Israeli state – settler-colonialism.

A settler colony

Academics have debated for decades whether Israel constitutes a settler colony, and following the arguments of leading scholars such as Joseph Massad, Rashid Khalidi, Noura Erakat, Ilan Pappe, Hamid Dabashi and Robert Wolfe (among others), the answer is convincing: Israel is the product of a national settler-colonial project.

So, what makes a settler colony a settler colony? The answer to this question cannot be reduced to specific characteristics but must instead be sought in a general principle. Simply put: all settler colonies constitute a continuous process of land annexation, whereby native inhabitants are removed and settlers from elsewhere are brought to occupy the land.

To be sure, all modern nation-states have annexed land in certain respects, but the settler-colonial state’s distinguishing feature is that it does not come into being and cannot continue to exist without claiming sovereignty over land that is forcefully taken from its native inhabitants. In short, the settler colony can only claim its sovereignty through the eradication and erasure of native sovereignty.

The methods of annexation certainly vary, but this variety should not detract us from naming and highlighting their underlying logic: the expulsion of native people from their lands. This is the core problem of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. And nowhere is this logic more visible than in the expansion of settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.

Settlements and the Israeli state

Not all, but the majority of arguments that emphasise international law and the peace process are based on the dubious assumption that Israel is interested in seeing a Palestinian state established along the 1967 borders. But Israeli policies have clearly shown that is not their goal or aspiration.

The list is long but among those policies are the long-held policy of annexing East Jerusalem; the building of the apartheid wall; the siege on Gaza, separating Palestinian land into non-contiguous units; the constant imprisonment of Palestinians under the charge of being political; the occupation and the checkpoints that make life impossible for ordinary Palestinians, hence encouraging their emigration; the de-development of the Palestinian economy; the policy of home demolitions; the discriminatory policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel that deny them the ability to purchase and lease land; and the non-ending stream of Israeli government permits to build more settlements and expand existing ones.  

It is important to take a moment and reflect on the last point. For decades, settler movements and the settlers have been expelling and replacing native Palestinians from more and more Palestinian lands. In much of what passes as intellectual diplomatic discourse in North America and Western Europe, these settlers are presented as divorced from the Israeli state and even painted as a burden on the Israeli state.

This occurs even when Israeli policy is directly tied to the expansion of settlements. In 2016, for example, then-Secretary of State John Kerry claimed, “Let’s be clear. Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israel’s security. Many settlements actually increase the security burden on the Israeli defence forces and leaders of the settler movement are motivated by ideological imperatives that entirely ignore legitimate Palestinian aspirations.”

And when he was not divorcing the ideology of the settlement leaders from the ideology of the state, Kerry made sure to present the settlements as a side issue, and not the core of the problem: “Let me emphasise, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict, of course they are not. Nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you’d have peace without a broader agreement. You would not.”

Versions of this discourse are repeated ad nauseam in the diplomatic arena, all of which misses (purposely or not) the crucial point that these settlers are not ideologically opposed to the state, but are rather a mirror for the foundation of the Israeli state revealed in its naked form.

The main difference is that these settlers act without the sophisticated rhetoric that hides and conceals the violence of the settler colony. They do not hide their intention to remove Palestinians and expand the state that is to come, the state of Greater Israel.

Since the early 20th century, the Zionist movement has longed for the creation of a Greater Israel, but it has been savvy enough to hide and conceal its intentions, especially in the international arena.

As Benny Morris put it in his famous book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, “[Zionist leader David] Ben-Gurion, a pragmatist, from 1937 on, was willing (at least outwardly) to accept partition and the establishment of a Jewish state in only part of the country. In effect, he remained committed to a vision of Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine as the ultimate goal of Zionism, to be attained by stages.”

The current relation between the state and the settlers is, thus, not one of opposition or nuisance, but one between a force that expands (the settlers) and a force that makes possible but hides the violence of the expansion (the state). And at the opportune moment, provided in this case through the Trump administration’s unwavering support for Israel, the state becomes one with the settlers out in the open and officially expands.

The annexation plan is nothing more than the state’s turn to claim sovereignty over what the settlers have already annexed. And they are able to annex precisely because the state makes that possible through its occupation of Palestinian land.

And this cycle will not stop. The settlers will continue to expand and annex with the aid of the state, until such time that the state can officially announce the reality of their fusion with the settlers, taking even more land.

As far as the Israelis are concerned, time is on their side, and they can patiently proceed stage by stage.

Empty words

The latest round of international reactions will predictably change nothing for the Palestinian people. International law will flag the violation against its rules, words of “condemnation” will fill the air, analysts and commentators will discuss the “strength” of these words in comparison to past statements, and Palestinian land will continue to be stolen.

Palestinian lives will continue to be threatened with death, injury, debilitation, occupation, oppression and expulsion while the world watches and pronounces empty words.

These words do not carry any consequence that can give them meaning, depth, and force. They are part of the diplomatic routine, which gives the feeling that something is being done, that the world is watching closely and that the world is concerned for Palestine.

This chimera of an act ends up sustaining the status quo and ensures that nothing consequential is ever undertaken. The very emptiness of these words thus becomes another weapon that enables annexation.

Many ordinary Palestinians have understood this situation for some time: the cavalry is not coming – not from the Arab world, not from the UN and not from international law. And in their absence, those international institutions and states show themselves as part of the problem, not the solution.

Israeli settler colonialism will not rest until the majority of the Palestinians are removed and expelled, and all of the Palestinian lands are under Israeli sovereignty, just as Ben-Gurion envisioned.

Israel cannot tolerate the idea of Palestinian sovereignty, let alone its implementation because the erasure of Palestinian sovereignty is part and parcel of the underlying logic of the settler colony. As a result, regardless of how much land Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ally, Defence Minister Benny Gantz actually annex this year, this episode will be neither the first nor will it be the last.

The settler colony, secured in its power after the founding violence, often plays a long game. But despite the scantest of hopes of ever gaining their freedom and sovereignty, the Palestinians will continue to stand, more or less, alone in their long and historic resistance.

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Jewish settlers trespass on Palestinian land to build a pool for their children

Under COVID-19 lockdown, Amer Abu Hijleh discovered Jewish settlers were digging a hole on his land. While Nazi forces prevented his access to the area, the hole became a pool.

By Ahmad Al-Bazz 

Amer Abu Hijleh near the pool that settlers built on his land in the occupied West Bank. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills)

Amer Abu Hijleh near the pool that settlers built on his land in the occupied West Bank. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills)

Soon after the Palestinian Authority put the cities and towns of the occupied West Bank under COVID-19 lockdown in late March, Amer Abu Hijleh received a call from a fellow farmer telling him that Israeli settlers were working his land.

Abu Hijleh, 56, hung up and immediately left his home in the village of Deir Istiya, and drove toward his land, located in Area C of the West Bank next to the Israeli settlement of Yakir. Upon arrival, Abu Hijleh discovered that settlers had begun digging a hole in the ground after uprooting some shrubbery.

A few minutes later, Israeli forces and settlement security guards arrived at the scene and asked Abu Hijleh and a few Israeli activists who had come to support him to evacuate the area. “When I told [the security forces] that settlers had been working in my land, they didn’t stop them, and instead asked me to bring my documents [of land ownership] and contact the Israeli Civil Administration,” Abu Hijleh said, referring to the department of the Israeli Defense Ministry that administers the occupation in the West Bank.Get Our Weekly NewsletterSign up

Two weeks later, after collecting all the necessary documents showing he had inherited the plot from his father, Abu Hijleh returned to his land and found that the settlers had turned the hole in the ground into a pool. “Why are you angry? It’s just a pool for our children,” an Israeli settler reportedly told Abu Hijleh before representatives from the Civil Administration arrived and asked both the Palestinians and the settlers to evacuate “until the issue is legally resolved.”

“I couldn’t trust the Israeli Civil Administration and returned to inspect the land 10 days later,” Abu Hijleh said. “I found a finished pool with some chairs. All their work was completed.”

Abu Hijleh then got in touch with the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, in order to start building a legal case. Meanwhile, he planned to continue cultivating his land by planting olive trees. But when he arrived, the Israeli army denied him access to the area, he said.

In early July, +972 Magazine visited the location alongside Abu Hijleh and his son. The area near the pool was littered with cement bags, remains of a campfire, and pipes. A few meters away, more cement bags were stored behind the settlement’s security fence gate, which Abu Hijleh sees as evidence of that the Israeli local council was involved in the building of the pool. With Yakir growing east, he is worried this could be the beginning of a settlement expansion process that will cost him his land.

Amer Abu Hijleh worries he might soon lose his land in the occupied West Bank (marked in red) to the growing Israeli settlements of Yakir (left). (Courtesy of Ahmad Al-Bazz)

Amer Abu Hijleh worries he might soon lose his land in the occupied West Bank (marked in red) to the growing Israeli settlement of Yakir (left). (Courtesy of Ahmad Al-Bazz)

Fadia Qawasmi, an attorney and field investigator with Yesh Din, confirmed that the organization asked the Civil Administration to remove the pool after reviewing all of Abu Hijleh’s documents.

Settlements grow while Palestinians can’t build

In 1981, Israeli authorities confiscated around 700 dunams of Palestinian land to build the settlement of Yakir. The plan included the 82-dunam plot that belonged to Abu Hijleh’s father, but luckily, the family succeeded in holding onto their land. “The affected [people] own their land and have inherited it from their grandparents. The reason for the confiscation is to expand Yakir,” reads a 1982 newspaper stub published by Al Quds, which Abu Hijleh still keeps.

Since the 1980s — following the Israeli High Court’s ruling in the Elon Moreh case, which  prohibited the construction of civilian settlements on private Palestinian land — Israeli authorities have enabled settlement expansion by requisitioning Palestinian land and declaring it as “state land.” Though Palestinians make up about 86 percent of the West Bank’s population, over the past four decades, the Civil Administration has allocated less than one percent of state land in the West Bank to Palestinians, according to data obtained by Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.

The land next to Abu Hijleh’s plot includes areas that were expropriated and turned into a military firing zone. “My neighbor lost part of his land because [Palestinians] cannot legally object to expropriation for military purposes,” he said. Abu Hijleh indicated that there is an Israeli water facility on his land that provides Yakir with Palestinian groundwater. “I couldn’t object to that as well because expropriations for public services are allowed.”

Abu Hijleh’s land, which will likely be included in Netanyahu’s annexation plan, is located just outside the Wadi Qana nature reserve, a mostly Palestinian-owned area surrounded by five settlements, one of which is Yakir. Residents claim that settlement outposts are expanding on the hills overlooking the valley, while Palestinians are not allowed to build on their land.

In Area C, which is under full Israeli administrative and security control, obtaining a building permit is almost impossible. At the same time, Israeli settlements continue to grow across the West Bank. According to the United Nations, Israeli authorities have demolished 320 Palestinian structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of 2020, affecting 1,578 people.

The view of the Wadi Qana nature reserve and a settler outpost in the background, as seen from Amer Abu Hijleh's land in the occupied West Bank. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills)

The view of the Wadi Qana nature reserve and a settler outpost in the background, as seen from Amer Abu Hijleh’s land in the occupied West Bank. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills)

“I’m waiting to see what will happen in July regarding Netanyahu’s annexation plan,” Abu Hijleh’s said, adding that he fears Israel will implement the Absentee Property Law — passed in 1950 to legalize the takeover of Palestinian land left by refugees during the Nakba — in the West Bank. The law is still being used in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, to dispossess Palestinians in the city, although it is yet unclear whether it will be used in the West Bank as well.

According to Yesh Din, in the best-case scenario, Israel will demolish the settlers’ pool. After that, Abu Hijleh will still be able to visit his land but will not be able to build on it — unlike the settlers.

+972 Magazine reached out to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry that oversees the occupation in the West Bank, which said that the case was “known to the Civil Administration. Enforcement in the area will take place in accordance with the authorities and procedures and will be subject to operational priorities and considerations.”

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Something rotten at the heart of UK government: The smell of pro-Israel bias in the Foreign Office is overpowering

UK-Israel symbiosis
Stuart Littlewood writes:

As George Washington put it,“a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils”. He warned that sympathy for the favourite nation encourages the illusion of common interest where none really exists, risks participation in its quarrels and wars, and involves“concessions to the favourite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained… And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favourite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country.” 

So a month ago I asked my MP Alister Jack: “If Netanyahu proceeds with his sickening annexation what will you say in Cabinet, please, about the need for real consequences such as sanctions? And will you speak up to ensure UK trade deals with Israel do not facilitate its territorial expansionism?”

It was a reasonable question which he has chosen to ignore. Jack is Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Government and would be wise to have no ‘passionate attachments’ to foreign powers.  Netanyahu didn’t carry out his threatened land grab on 1 July but might yet do so. Jack’s silence is therefore unacceptable and I’d like to know whether the person who represents me in Parliament aligns himself with the Israeli regime’s evil intent.

Meanwhile a pro-Palestinian activist, exasperated by the UK Foreign Office constantly repeating the same old mantra excusing its inaction over Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine, has received the same old half-baked reply but with a warning that they will not be corresponding with her again. The FO’s letter followed the familiar let’s-duck-the-issue formula.

In line with international law, and relevant Security Council resolutions, notably Resolutions 242 and 497, we do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights, and we do not consider them part of the territory of the State of Israel.

Okay. But when is Britain, a key player in the founding of the United Nations and with a permanent seat on the Security Council, going to do something about it?

The two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution. It is the only way to permanently end the Arab-Israeli conflict, preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity and realise Palestinian national aspirations.

The “only way”? Israel’s “democratic identity”, when it’s a deeply unpleasant ethnocracy? Why does Britain persist with these fantasies?

We are firmly opposed to sanctions. We believe that imposing sanctions or boycotts on Israel or supporting anti-Israeli boycotts would not support our efforts to progress the peace process and achieve a negotiated solution.

But you’ll cheerfully slap Iran, for example, with sanctions for no good reason… except to please Israel and its bitch, the US, which is what all this is really about. Civil society has resorted to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) in the absence of any real diplomatic pressure from the so-called ‘great powers’. It’s the only non-violent language Israel understands. And it’s beginning to work. Get behind it.

We’re told that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spent the summer of 1998 working for one of the PLO’s chief negotiators on the Oslo peace accords, a doomed initiative begun in 1993 to create a form of interim governance and framework for a final treaty by the end of 1998. So Raab was there at a time when the two sides had been faffing about in the name of peace for 5 years and getting nowhere.

In October of 1998 the US, desperate to keep the charade going, held a summit at Maryland’s Wye River Plantation at which Clinton with Yasser Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu, and senior negotiators produced the Wye River Memorandum. Not that this did much good either. But Raab must have learned a lot about Israeli perversity, not to mention America’s shortcomings as an honest broker.

Before entering Parliament Raab joined the Foreign Office and worked at The Hague bringing war criminals to justice, then became an adviser on the Arab-Israeli conflict. As reported in Jewish News, he welcomed Trump’s so-called peace plan saying: “Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent. We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations.” But it’s debatable whether the leaders on either side represent anyone but themselves and their own warped interests.

Raab’s boss Boris Johnson said of it: “It is a two-state solution. It would ensure that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people…” But the Trump Plan relegates the Palestinian capital to the outskirts of East Jerusalem keeping the rest of Jerusalem, including the sublime and ancient walled city (which is officially Palestinian territory), under Israeli control. That is perhaps the cruellest part of the Trump/Netanyahu swindle.

Because Jerusalem/Al-Quds is immensely holy to all three Abrahamic faiths, the UN proposed that it should be a corpus separatum – an internationally-governed open access city free from Israeli or Palestinian control. What could be more sensible than that?

In the Global Britain debate on 3 February Raab boasted that Britain will be an even stronger force for good in the world. “Our guiding lights will remain the values of democracy, human rights and the international rule of law”. Whereupon Alistair Carmichael (LibDem) asked: “If the concept of a global Britain is to have any meaning and value, surely it must have respect for human rights and international rules-based order at its heart. With that in mind, will the Foreign Secretary reconsider the unqualified support he gave to President Trump last week in respect of the so-called peace plan for Palestine? Will the right hon. Gentleman repudiate the proposed annexation of the West Bank and at long last support the recognition of a Palestinian state?”

Raab replied:

The one thing that the plan put forward by the US included was a recognition of and commitment to a two-state solution. We have been absolutely clear that that is the only way in which the conflict can be resolved… Rather than just rejecting the plan, it is important that we try to bring the parties together around the negotiating table. That is the only path to peace and to a two-state solution.

Then Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad, in a debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict in March, said: “The UK Government have made it clear that, before taking part in any peaceful negotiations on the two-state solution, any party at the negotiating table needs to agree the right of Israel to exist.” But what about Palestine’s right to exist? Lord Ahmad must know that he’s talking about the fate of his Muslim brothers and sisters, not to mention the Christian communities there. On the basis of what he says, wouldn’t the UK Government’s continuing refusal to recognise a Palestinian state bar us from the peace process?

Evil intent

Raab, by now, ought to be extremely skeptical of any two-state solution given the many irreversible facts on the ground that Israel has been allowed to create with impunity. And he would know better than most how many times the sides have come to the table for lopsided ‘negotiations’ and how the Israelis never honour the agreements they make. 

And what would a two state solution look like? Yeah, too messy to describe. So why keep pushing it as the only answer? Netanyahu has said repeatedly that there will be no Palestinian state during his tenure as Israel’s prime minister. Furthermore there’s no prospect of Israel willingly giving up the Palestinian territory it illegally occupied and effectively annexed in 1967 and which must be returned if Palestinians are ever to enjoy their universal right to freedom and independence. Netanyahu has declared: “We will not withdraw from one inch… There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel… This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land… We are here to stay forever.” Read his lips. 

The question is: what ancestral links do he and his partners-in-crime have to the biblical land of Israel? Zionist leaders before Netanyahu broadcast their fraudulent claims to the land and bragged about their evil plan to seize it. It has been well advertised and, to a large extent, already implemented. Even if Netanyahu wanted a two-state solution he would be opposed by his own party and the others making up his ruling coalition, virtually all of which stand against Palestinians having a state of their own. 

Those paying attention have known that the idea of a two-state solution by negotiation has been dead for 20 years and the only purpose in still talking about it is to perpetuate the status quo and buy time for Israel to complete its creeping annexation. 

The British Government’s pledge to Lord Rothschild and the Zionist Federation on 2 November 1917, signed by Lord Balfour, was simply this:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

A national home, not a state. And no harm to the rights of non-Jews. Britain’s failure to uphold that bit leaves a disgusting stain of cowardice and corruption on the UK.

The fate of Israel/Palestine is not a matter for meddlesome nations with vested interests seeking to override UN resolutions and re-shape the Middle East to suit themselves.  It is for the International Court of Justice to decide on the basis of international law. But we never hear about law and justice from the UK Government, or the US administration, in relation to the Holy Land. Why is that, Raab? Don’t we believe in it any more? Or are we too stupid to respect it, too morally bankrupt to pursue it, too yellow to enforce it? When will the penny finally drop that you can’t have lasting peace without justice?

Talk is cheap when you have no intention of following up with action. It has become a sacred tradition to post pro-Israel stooges to key positions in the UK administration, especially the Foreign Office, to prevent any rocking of the boat. Raab’s predecessors suffered the same paralysis. Alistair Burt, a product of the Israel lobby, was not about to transform himself into a man of action for peace. He’d been an officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel. The then prime minister, David “I’m-a-Zionist” Cameron, proclaimed: “In me you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible.” What a disgraceful pledge for the prime minister of a mainly Christian country to make to a lawless, racist entity that respects nobody’s human rights Christian or Muslim, continually defies international law and shoots children for amusement (see ‘The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force’ by surgeon David Halpin and reports on the use of dum-dum and other soft-nose or ‘exploding’ rounds by Israeli snipers). But Cameron is not the only one to have done so. It has become a regular appeasement ritual.

Should we recognise Palestine or un-recognise Israel?

The Conservatives, then as now, chose to spew their infatuation with the Israeli regime all over the British nation and the Arab world. In a speech to the Board of Jewish Deputies, Burt recalled how he had worked from the age of fifteen for an MP who was a president of the Board and a founder of the Conservative Friends of Israel, and how this “had a lasting effect upon me, and on my interests in Parliament… Israel is an important strategic partner and friend for the UK and we share a number of important shared objectives across a broad range of policy areas.”

Can anyone think of a single objective they’d wish to share with those people? Many of us are tired of being told by the Government and senior politicians that “the UK is a close friend of Israel”.We don’t believe Israel has a friend in the world outside the Westminster and Washington bubbles and the US Bible Belt. 

And Burt’s stance on Palestinian independence was always puzzling. I remember him saying that we would not recognise a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel. London “could not recognise a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders.” He’d been talking earlier about a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, which is understood to be the legal position. Even Hamas agrees to that. So why had Burt suddenly lost the plot? And where did he suppose Israel’s borders are? Where the UN drew them in the 1947 Partition Plan? Has Israel ever declared its borders? Is Israel ever within them? Is Israel where Israel ought to be? If not, how could he or Raab or anyone else in the Government possibly recognise Israel let alone align themselves with it? And where did Burt suppose the offshore borders of Palestine, Lebanon and Israel ran in relation to the huge reserves of marine gas and oil in the Levantine Basin? Israel is intent on stealing the lot. The question for many years has been: will Gaza ever get a whiff of its own gas? 

“We are looking forward to recognising a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements…” But Israel’s illegal squats, or ‘settlements’, are classed as war crimes. Since when did Her Majesty’s Government approve of negotiating with the perpetrators of such crimes? Besides, the Holy Land’s status was ruled upon long ago. International law has spoken. But instead of enforcing the law and upholding justice Burt and his Government still pushed for more lopsided talks. Like Raab is doing today.

The “passionate attachment” that’s utterly inappropriate

The danger of inappropriate ‘friendships’ with foreign regimes became blazingly obvious in December 2009 when three of Israel’s vilest – Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and retired general Doron Almog – cancelled engagements in London for fear of ‘having their collar felt’. 

They complained bitterly to David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary at the time, who promised that UK laws on ‘universal jurisdiction’ would be changed and asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Jack Straw for urgent action. A general election intervened and ousted Miliband from the Foreign Office, but the grovelling promise was eagerly taken up by his replacement, William Hague, another fanatical ‘friend of Israel’. Hague declared that a situation where foreign politicians like Livni could be threatened with arrest in the UK was “completely unacceptable… We will put it right through legislation… and I phoned Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals.” 

Oh bravo, Hague! Never mind that the arrest warrants in question were issued to answer well-founded criminal charges. Never mind that all States that are party to the Geneva Conventions are under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. And never mind that there must be no hiding place for those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The UK Government didn’t give a toss about such piffling principles. And still doesn’t.

Private arrest warrants were necessary because the Government itself was in the habit of shirking its duty under the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention and deliberately dithering until the birds had flown. Bringing a private prosecution for a criminal offence, said Lord Wilberforce, is “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority”. Lord Diplock, another respected Lord of Appeal, called it “a useful safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of those authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law”. And the beauty of the private warrant was that it could be issued speedily.

The Foreign Office’s move to scupper this was even more deplorable when you consider that Tzipi Livni was largely responsible for the terror that brought death and destruction to Gaza’s civilians during the blitzkrieg known as Operation Cast Lead. Showing no remorse, and with the blood of 1,400 dead Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women) on her hands and thousands more horribly maimed, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of it. Speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”

Nevertheless the British government of the day was happy to undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for the likes of her. 

By 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu felt untouchable enough to say that if he was returned to power, a Palestinian state would not be established because handing back territory would threaten Israel’s security.

And in August 2017 he announced that Israel would keep the West Bank permanently and there would be no more uprooting of squatter ‘settlements’: “We are here to stay forever… This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land.”

Saying it again and again doesn’t make it so. The true inheritors are the Palestinian peoples who have been there since the days when Jerusalem was a Canaanite city.

Sanctions Russia Israel

Palestine and Europe’s symbolic gestures

In “Europe”

“The name of the game: erasing Palestine…”

Stuart Littlewood explains why British Prime Minister David Cameron’s unconditional support for Israel “is totally incompatible with the values we hold dear and is a stain on Britain and the British people”.

In “British stooges”

Israel stooge David Cameron

Name and shame supporters of racist Israel

In “British stooges”

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Something rotten at the heart of UK government: The smell of pro-Israel bias in the Foreign Office is overpowering

Killing Democracy in America

by WILLIAM ASTORE

The phrase “thinking about the unthinkable” has always been associated with the unthinkable cataclysm of a nuclear war, and rightly so. Lately, though, I’ve been pondering another kind of unthinkable scenario, nearly as nightmarish (at least for a democracy) as a thermonuclear Armageddon, but one that’s been rolling out in far slower motion: that America’s war on terror never ends because it’s far more convenient for America’s leaders to keep it going — until, that is, it tears apart anything we ever imagined as democracy.

I fear that it either can’t or won’t end because, as Martin Luther King, Jr., pointed out in 1967 during the Vietnam War, the United States remains the world’s greatest purveyor of violence — and nothing in this century, the one he didn’t live to see, has faintly proved him wrong. Considered another way, Washington should be classified as the planet’s most committed arsonist, regularly setting or fanning the flames of fires globally from Libya to Iraq, Somalia to Afghanistan, Syria to — dare I say it — in some quite imaginable future Iran, even as our leaders invariably boast of having the world’s greatest firefighters (also known as the U.S. military).

Scenarios of perpetual war haunt my thoughts. For a healthy democracy, there should be few things more unthinkable than never-ending conflict, that steady drip-drip of death and destruction that drives militarism, reinforces authoritarianism, and facilitates disaster capitalism. In 1795, James Madison warned Americans that war of that sort would presage the slow death of freedom and representative government. His prediction seems all too relevant in a world in which, year after year, this country continues to engage in needless wars that have nothing to do with national defense.

You Wage War Long, You Wage It Wrong

To cite one example of needless war from the last century, consider America’s horrendous years of fighting in Vietnam and a critical lesson drawn firsthand from that conflict by reporter Jonathan Schell. “In Vietnam,” he noted, “I learned about the capacity of the human mind to build a model of experience that screens out even very dramatic and obvious realities.” As a young journalist covering the war, Schell saw that the U.S. was losing, even as its military was destroying startlingly large areas of South Vietnam in the name of saving it from communism. Yet America’s leaders, the “best and brightest” of the era, almost to a man refused to see that all of what passed for realism in their world, when it came to that war, was nothing short of a first-class lie.

Why? Because believing is seeing and they desperately wanted to believe that they were the good guys, as well as the most powerful guys on the planet. America was winning, it practically went without saying, because it had to be. They were infected by their own version of an all-American victory culture, blinded by a sense of this country’s obvious destiny: to be the most exceptional and exceptionally triumphant nation on this planet.

As it happened, it was far more difficult for grunts on the ground to deny the reality of what was happening — that they were fighting and dying in a senseless war. As a result, especially after the shock of the enemy’s Tet Offensive early in 1968, escalating protests within the military (and among veterans at home) together with massive antiwar demonstrations finally helped put the brakes on that war. Not before, however, more than 58,000 American troops died, along with millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians.

In the end, the war in Indochina was arguably too costly, messy, and futile to continue. But never underestimate the military-industrial complex, especially when it comes to editing or denying reality, while being eternally over-funded for that very reality. It’s a trait the complex has shared with politicians of both parties. Don’t forget, for instance, the way President Ronald Reagan reedited that disastrous conflict into a “noble cause” in the 1980s. And give him credit! That was no small thing to sell to an American public that had already lived through such a war. By the way, tell me something about that Reaganesque moment doesn’t sound vaguely familiar almost four decades later when our very own “wartime president” long ago declared victory in the “war” on Covid-19, even as the death toll from that virus approaches 150,000 in the homeland.

In the meantime, the military-industrial complex has mastered the long con of the no-win forever war in a genuinely impressive fashion. Consider the war in Afghanistan. In 2021 it will enter its third decade without an end in sight. Even when President Trump makes noises about withdrawing troops from that country, Congress approves an amendment to another massive, record-setting military budget with broad bipartisan support that effectively obstructs any efforts to do so (while the Pentagon continues to bargain Trump down on the subject).

The Vietnam War, which was destroying the U.S. military, finally ended in an ignominious withdrawal. Almost two decades later, after the 2001 invasion, the war in Afghanistan can now be — the dream of the Vietnam era — fought in a “limited” fashion, at least from the point of view of Congress, the Pentagon, and most Americans (who ignore it), even if not the Afghans. The number of American troops being killed is, at this point, acceptably low, almost imperceptible in fact (even if not to Americans who have lost loved ones over there).

More and more, the U.S. military is relying on air power, unmanned drones, mercenaries, local militias, paramilitaries, and private contractors. Minimizing American casualties is an effective way of minimizing negative media coverage here; so, too, are efforts by the Trump administration to classify nearly everything related to that war while denying or downplayingcollateral damage” — that is, dead civilians — from it.

Their efforts boil down to a harsh truth: America just plain lies about its forever wars, so that it can keep on killing in lands far from home.

When we as Americans refuse to take in the destruction we cause, we come to passively accept the belief system of the ruling class that what’s still bizarrely called “defense” is a “must have” and that we collectively must spend significantly more than a trillion dollars a year on the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and a sprawling network of intelligence agencies, all justified as necessary defenders of America’s freedom. Rarely does the public put much thought into the dangers inherent in a sprawling “defense” network that increasingly invades and dominates our lives.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that low-cost wars, at least in terms of U.S. troops killed and wounded in action, can essentially be prolonged indefinitely, even when they never result in anything faintly like victory or fulfill any faintly useful American goal. The Afghan War remains the case in point. “Progress” is a concept that only ever fits the enemy — the Taliban continues to gain ground — yet, in these years, figures like retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus have continued to call for a “generational” commitment of troops and resources there, akin to U.S. support for South Korea.

Who says the Pentagon leadership learned nothing from Vietnam? They learned how to wage open-ended wars basically forever, which has proved useful indeed when it comes to justifying and sustaining epic military budgetsand the political authority that goes with them. But here’s the thing: in a democracy, if you wage war long, you wage it wrong. Athens and the historian Thucydides learned this the hard way in the struggle against Sparta more than two millennia ago. Why do we insist on forgetting such an obvious lesson?

“We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us”

World War II was arguably the last war Americans truly had to fight. My Uncle Freddie was in the Army and stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked on December 7, 1941. The country then came together and won a global conflict (with lots of help) in 44 months, emerging as the planetary superpower to boot. Now, that superpower is very much on the wane, as Donald Trump recognized in running successfully as a declinist candidate for president in 2016. (Make America Great Again!) And yet, though he ran against this country’s forever wars and is now president, we’re approaching the third decade of a war on terror that has yielded little, spread radical Islamic terror outfits across an expanse of the planet, and still seemingly has no end.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump himself claimed only last year. Yet that’s exactly what this country has been doing, regardless of which party ruled the roost in Washington. And here’s where, to give him credit, Trump actually had a certain insight. America is no longer great precisely because of the endless wars we wage and all the largely hidden but associated costs that go with them, including the recently much publicized militarizationof the police here at home. Yet, in promising to make America great again, President Trump has failed to end those wars, even as he’s fed the military-industrial complex with even greater piles of cash.

There’s a twisted logic to all this. As the leading purveyor of violence and terror, with its leaders committed to fighting Islamic terrorism across the planet until the phenomenon is vanquished, the U.S. inevitably becomes its own opponent, conducting a perpetual war on itself. Of course, in the process, Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Somalis, and Yemenis, among other peoples on this embattled planet of ours, pay big time, but Americans pay, too. (Have you even noticed that high-speed railroad that’s unbuilt, that dam in increasing disrepair, those bridges that need fixing, while money continues to pour into the national security state?) As the cartoon possum Pogo once so classically said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Early in the Iraq War, General Petraeus asked a question that was relevant indeed: “Tell me how this [war] ends.” The answer, obvious to so many who had protested in the global streets over the invasion to come in 2003, was “not well.” Today, another answer should be obvious: never, if the Pentagon and America’s political and national security elite have anything to do with it. In thermodynamics class, I learned that a perpetual motion machine is impossible to create due to entropy. The Pentagon never took that in and has instead been hard at work proving that a perpetual military machine is possible… until, that is, the empire it feeds off of collapses and takes us with it.

America’s Military Complex as a Cytokine Storm

In the era of Covid-19, as cases and deaths from the pandemic continue to soar in America, it’s astonishing that military spending is also soaring to record levels despite a medical emergency and a major recession.

The reality is that, in the summer of 2020, America faces two deadly viruses. The first is Covid-19. With hard work and some luck, scientists may be able to mass-produce an effective vaccine for it, perhaps by as early as next spring. In the meantime, scientists do have a sense of how to control it, contain it, even neutralize it, as countries from South Korea and New Zealand to Denmark have shown, even if some Americans, encouraged by our president, insist on throwing all caution to the winds in the name of living free. The second virus, however, could prove even more difficult to control, contain, and neutralize: forever war, a pandemic that U.S. military forces, with their global strike missions, continue to spread across the globe.

Sadly, it’s a reasonable bet that in the long run, even with Donald Trump as president, America has a better chance of defeating Covid-19 than the virus of forever war. At least, the first is generally seen as a serious threat (even if not by a president blind to anything but his chances for reelection); the second is, however, still largely seen as evidence of our strength and exceptionalism. Indeed, Americans tend to imagine “our” military not as a dangerous virus but as a set of benevolent antibodies, defending us from global evildoers.

When it comes to America’s many wars, perhaps there’s something to be learned from the way certain people’s immune systems respond to Covid-19. In some cases, the virus sparks an exaggerated immune response that drives the body into a severe inflammatory state known as a cytokine storm. That “storm” can lead to multiple organ failure followed by death, yet it occurs in the cause of defending the body from a viral attack.

In a similar fashion, America’s exaggerated response to 19 hijackers on 9/11 and then to perceived threats around the globe, especially the nebulous threat of terror, has led to an analogous (if little noticed) cytokine storm in the American system. Military (and militarized police) antibodies have been sapping our resources, inflaming our body politic, and slowly strangling the vital organs of democracy. Left unchecked, this “storm” of inflammatory militarism will be the death of democracy in America.

To put this country right, what’s needed is not only an effective vaccine for Covid-19 but a way to control the “antibodies” produced by America’s forever wars abroad and, as the years have gone by, at home — and the ways they’ve attacked and inflamed the collective U.S. political, social, and economic body. Only when we find ways to vaccinate ourselves against the destructive violence of those wars, whether on foreign streets or our own, can we begin to heal as a democratic society.

To survive, the human body needs a healthy immune system, so when it goes haywire, becomes wildly inflamed, and ends up attacking and degrading our vital organs, we’re in trouble deep. It’s a reasonable guess that, in analogous terms, American democracy is already on a ventilator and beginning to feel the effects of multiple organ failure.

Unlike a human patient, doctors can’t put our democracy into a medically induced coma. But collectively we should be working to suppress our overactive immune system before it kills us. In other words, it’s truly time to defund that military machine of ours, as well as the militarized version of the police, and rethink how actual threats can be neutralized without turning every response into an endless war.

So many years later, it’s time to think the unthinkable. For the U.S. government that means — gasp! — peace. Such a peace would start with imperial retrenchment (bring our troops home!), much reduced military (and police) budgets, and complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and any other place associated with that “generational” war on terror. The alternative is a cytokine storm that will, in the end, tear us apart from within.

Posted in USAComments Off on Killing Democracy in America


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