Archive | September 9th, 2020

Gaza fears the worst as Nazi Gestapo ratchets up its siege

Gaza fears the worst as Israel ratchets up its siege

As coronavirus pandemic enters the beleaguered enclave, Israel’s blockade intensifies suffering of the Palestinians.

by Hana Adli

A family in Gaza prepares a meal over a fire amid the fuel shortages caused by Israel's siege [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]
A family in Gaza prepares a meal over a fire amid the fuel shortages caused by Israel’s siege [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Gaza City – Fears are mounting for the safety of people with health issues as already-strained hospitals are largely without power and the Palestinian territory faces a coronavirus outbreak.

Two million residents are surviving on only four hours of electricity a day after Israel cut off the fuel supply, leading to the shut down of Gaza’s sole power plant last week.

Israel made the move after the continuous launch of incendiary balloons from the coastal enclave towards Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip by activists demanding the easing of the crippling 13-year blockade.

At 5:30am local time, Salwa al-Bitar, 40, arrived at al-Shifa hospital to start her four-hour dialysis treatment in central Gaza City, which she requires once a week, before the arrival of other patients for the life-saving treatment.

“The situation is harder than before in addition to the precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19 infections. We are afraid from the effects of the fuel shortage on hospitals,” al-Bitar told Al Jazeera.

“My body is very sensitive. With only four hours of electricity, it’s like experiencing death in life. I can’t breathe as I can’t operate a fan, air conditioning, or use any substitution to deal with the electricity shortage.”

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said the power cuts have “dangerous repercussions” for hospitals with 120 premature babies needing incubators, 100 patients in intensive care, and 950 people with kidney failure requiring haemodialysis sessions every week.

“In addition, the electricity crisis endangers the daily surgeries, caesarean deliveries, and the laboratories … as the old generators can barely cover the electricity needs during this crisis,” al-Qidra told Al Jazeera.

[Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Salwa al-Bitar at al-Shifa hospital receiving her four-hour dialysis treatment [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

‘Dilapidated health system’

On Monday night, a total lockdown was imposed on the besieged Gaza Strip after authorities confirmed the first coronavirus infections.

“The announcement of COVID-19 cases within the community in Gaza puts the dilapidated health system due to the blockade at a dangerous new juncture, and it is difficult to withstand without regional and international support,” said al-Qidra.

Mohamed al-Qawwas, 55, needs to visit the dialysis unit three times a week, and he expressed concern at the arrival of COVID-19 in Gaza. He has diabetes and heart disease, which make a potential infection extremely dangerous.

“I go to the hospital three times a week and due to fuel and equipment shortage, I wait for about two hours to start my four-hour session,” al-Qawwas told Al Jazeera. “This is exhausting my heart and spirit.”

On August 11, Israel halted the entry of some materials into Gaza, but days later banned all transfers through the only commercial crossing except for food and medicine. The sea was also made inaccessible to fishermen on August 16.

[Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Mohamed al-Qawwas expressed concern over COVID-19 because of his diabetes and heart disease [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

‘Ignoring crimes’

Fawzi Barhoum – a spokesman for Hamas, the rulers of Gaza – called Israel’s move “a crime against humanity”.

“If the occupation thinks that this siege will undermine the determination and persistence of our people and its resistance, and that it will achieve security for them, that is delusional,” Barhoum said in a statement.

He urged intervention by the international community. “We call on human rights and humanitarian institutions and the international community – and decision-makers in the region – to break their silence and work to curb the Zionist aggression and end the blockade of Gaza.

“The absence of deterrent decisions to the occupation, but rather ignoring its crimes and normalisation with it is the main reason for its persistence in its crimes and violations against Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Businessmen Association in Gaza announced on Monday that nearly 2,000 companies have been completely or partially affected by the power station’s stoppage.

“Preventing the entry of various materials necessary for the activity of the industrial and health sectors threatens to have dangerous repercussions on the strategic stock of basic needs, threatening food insecurity, high unemployment, and poverty rates,” Ali al-Hayek, head of the association, told Al Jazeera.

[Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

The price of bread is soaring because of the intensified siege on Gaza by Israel [Ashraf Amra/Al Jazeera]

Food shortages

Walid al-Efranj, sales manager of a bakery chain, said fuel shortages were already affecting food production in the territory.

“The food industry in Gaza has been affected negatively by the lack of fuel as there is a decrease in production. And because of the coronavirus crisis, consumers rushed to stockpile food for the home quarantine period, which forced us to work longer hours using fuel generators that increase the cost of production for us,” he said.

Ahmed Labib al-Helou, head of the Association of Owners of Oil and Gas Companies in Gaza, warned of “disastrous consequences” on fuel supplies if the closure of the Karem Abu Salem (known as Kerem Shalom to Israelis)commercial crossing with the Israeli side continues.

Gaza’s power station shuts down as Israel cuts off diesel imports

Fishermen, too, are voicing concern.

“We depend on daily wages from selling the fish catch. If we don’t work we can’t afford food for our families, and for the 13th day in a row there is no source of income because of the ban on fishing,” said Khaled al-Habil, 40, a fisherman from the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.

“In addition to the implications of COVID-19 and precautionary measures that decreased our fish supply during the past three months, now Israel has shut down the sea. Two enemies against us – that is too much.”

Palestinian politician Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the National Committee to Confront the Siege against Gaza, said the reopening of the commercial crossing was imperative with Gaza now facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic enters Gaza in the most difficult humanitarian, health and environmental conditions, in light of the tightening of the occupation’s siege,” he said in a statement.

Palestinian sources confirmed the Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, was in the enclave on Wednesday as part of mediation efforts to alleviate tension between Israel and Hamas and fears of another all-out war.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Pompeo courts Trump’s culture warriors in Jerusalem speech

Josh Ruebner Power Suits 

Man speaks to camera with evening cityscape behind him
With occupied East Jerusalem as his backdrop, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a pitch to President Trump’s Evangelical base. (C-SPAN)

In likely violation of US law and State Department regulations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech on Tuesday laced with anti-Chinese racism to the Republican National Convention (RNC).

He spoke from outside the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem while on a taxpayer-funded, official diplomatic visit.

Texas Representative Joaquin Castro, chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, launched an investigation into Pompeo’s speech.

Calling it “highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting secretary of state to speak at a partisan convention,” Castro demanded Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun to turn over detailed written responses to questions and internal documents concerning Pompeo’s speech to ascertain whether legislative action is needed to hold Pompeo accountable.

At issue are seemingly clear provisions in US law and State Department procedures and legal memos that prohibit US government employees in general, and State Department officials in particular, from engaging in partisan activities, especially while representing the United States abroad.

While Castro’s investigation of Pompeo does not directly address the policy implications of his speech to the RNC, it is noteworthy that he is one of three candidates seeking to replace New York Representative Eliot Engel as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee next year.

Engel was solidly defeated by political newcomer Jamaal Bowman in the Democratic primary this year.

Engel – one of the Democratic Party’s most stalwart advocates for Israel – lost despite the infusion of millions of dollars of pro-Israel money in support of his campaign to a candidate who did not shy away from speaking out in favor of Palestinian rights.

If selected as the next committee chair, Castro has vowed to center Palestinian voices in committee hearings dealing with Israeli-Palestinian policy issues.

“Over the years, there have been too many voices excluded; I think too often Palestinian voices have been excluded,” Castro told The Washington Post last month,

“If the United States is going to be an arbiter of peace, it has to be willing to hear from the different sides, and in my estimation we’ve not always done that,” he added.

Castro’s investigation of Pompeo’s speech throws an interesting Israel-related wrinkle into his candidacy to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“City of God”

As importantly, Pompeo’s speech also demonstrates the degree to which the Republican Party is seeking to champion Israel and politicize what traditionally had been a bipartisan consensus of nearly lock-step support for it.

The section of Pompeo’s speech devoted to the Trump administration’s policies on Israel was surprisingly brief.

“The president exited the US from the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran and squeezed the Ayatollah, Hizballah and Hamas,” Pompeo bragged.

He also touted Trump’s move of the US embassy “to this very city of God, Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland.”

And he mentioned how the US brokered what he termed the “historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

“This is a deal that our grandchildren will read about in their history books,” Pompeo asserted.

Leaving aside Pompeo’s specious and grandiose claim of brokering “a historic peace deal” between Israel and the UAE – which was merely a normalization of diplomatic relations between two countries never at war – his speech is most noteworthy for the transparent and cynical attempt to shore up Christian Evangelical support for Trump.

“We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem. That’s for the Evangelicals,” Trump admitted at a campaign rally in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last week.

“You know, it’s amazing with that: The Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people. That’s right, it’s incredible.”

Trump’s anti-Semitism

Trump’s incredulity that Evangelicals would be “more excited” than Jewish people about his moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem continues his pattern of anti-Semitic dog-whistling.

Last August, Trump opined: “’I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Trump’s claim that Jewish people should either be loyal to him for supporting Israel or be loyal to Israel first and foremost is a classic anti-Semitic trope.

Surely the poll-obsessed president did not miss the fact that only 16 percent of Jewish Americans supported the embassy move, whereas a majority of Evangelicals did.

Clearly, Pompeo’s invocation of Jerusalem as the “city of God” and the “rightful capital of the Jewish homeland” is designed to consolidate Evangelical votes for Trump in advance of the election.

It is of a piece with the Republican Party’s strategy of playing to its shrinking, overwhelmingly white nationalist base of grievance-obsessed culture warriors.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Politics0 Comments

Moves to impeach President Trump

What is the real motivator of all the bile being levelled against Donald Trump? The Democrats can’t possibly be offended by corruption.

Lalkar writers

On 24 September 2019, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

This in itself is slightly strange as there is already supposed to be an impeachment inquiry into President Trump that was formally started on 12 September by the House Judiciary Committee when it positively voted in a “resolution for investigative procedures”.

That, apparently, is needed to guide the committee through an “investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment” – ie, an impeachment inquiry. Moreover, the committee’s chair, Jerry Nadler, is also claiming that the judiciary committee has been ‘unofficially’ pursuing an impeachment investigation for some time.

To clarify: a formal impeachment inquiry is not an impeachment but rather an investigation to see if there are any grounds for impeachment. After it has finished, the Speaker of the House will decide which items will be put to Congress to be voted on to start an impeachment proper.

Impeachment is a punishment for what Congress considers to be wrongdoing by a Federal official (more usually judges than presidents). If the person is successfully impeached, they lose their position.

The act of impeachment is semi-judicial but fully political and, in the case of presidents, of the three who have faced impeachment so far, all were set upon initially by the controlling bloc of congressmen of the opposite political party to the one of which they were a member.

Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2018 elections and are now the clear majority, giving them the strength and opportunity not only to attack the president in office but also to make sure that any impeachment will run into the 2020 presidential election campaign. The idea is clearly to damage Trump’s re-election campaign, even if he is cleared of charges and able to run again.

Against this Democrat majority in the House of Representatives – the only place where an impeachment process can start – it ends in the Senate and requires two-thirds (67 senators) of those voting to convict. The Democrats have only 47 senators and so must convince 20 Republicans to join them if the impeachment should come to the point of voting to proceed or not.

It seems unlikely at the present time that the president would be indicted (even though he has many Republican enemies), but the impeachment process would take most of Trump’s time and energy for the remainder of his first term, and, whether the Democrats realise it or not, could either impair or galvanise his election campaign for 2020.

Six house committees, including the judiciary committee, which, we are told by its chairman, was already in ‘investigate Trump’ mode, are now involved in the pre-impeachment probe, and are all busy trying to glean evidence of anything that might furnish the House with the necessary justifiction for ‘passing articles of impeachment’.

Impeachment is written into the US Constitution, but it is not clear regarding whether illegality alone is necessary to impeach or which legal acts may also be included. It acts a bit like an employment assessment, but with a legal sting in the tail.

A president may be impeached and removed from office, the constitution says, over charges described as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”. Ever since that was written, and it did follow a bitter debate, all kinds of legal experts have been at odds over exactly what a president can be impeached for.

In 1868, when Andrew Johnson, a most disreputable white supremacist, was impeached on 11 counts, one of them was talking too loudly and aggressively in Congress. In the end, Johnson wasn’t convicted and so was not removed from office, but he was a lame-duck president following the impeachment and couldn’t even garner sufficient backing from his own party to stand for a second term.

The closest the Senate has ever come to removing a president was in the case of Richard Nixon in 1974. Nixon resigned before the vote to proceed with the impeachment charges was taken, knowing that his impeachment was virtually assured and that removal was definitely the goal of Congress, which might also have left him open to legal charges.

Although he never got as far along the impeachment road as Johnson or Clinton, it was assumed by all concerned that if the articles of impeachment had ever been voted on, the end result would have surely been that he was convicted and removed.

Bill Clinton was impeached mainly over his public claim not to have had sex with researcher Monica Lewinski, but, in spite of it having been proved that he had lied, he was not convicted and was allowed to finish his second term of office as another lame-duck president.

So, what are the areas under ‘investigation’ in the bid to bring down or cage Trump?

The claims of involvement with Russia in its supposed bid to ‘fix’ the presidential election that he won could raise its head again, but it wouldn’t be a major plank of the impeachment as no real evidence has been found of Russian wrongdoing, or of Trump’s possible involvement, other than personal enemies of the man saying he did have some vague connection to Russia.

This line of enquiry might also throw up questions regarding the USA’s very real involvement in most other countries’ elections around the world – those of both friends and foes.

Of course, Trump has also pointed out that the US electoral system is subject to massive fraud, but it would be difficult, one imagines, for Congress to try to push those two items together on a charge sheet without laying itself open to some ridicule.

It is also possible that Trump’s very strong denunciation of US security services (CIA, FBI, NSA, etc) and the US media at his inauguration in 2017 could be used as a ‘misdemeanour’ to back up other charges.

His many public attacks on top officials whom he has put into various offices, many of whom went on to be fired before their names were painted on the office door, could also come into this category, along with his equally public attacks via Twitter on those investigating him, such as deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller.

The main charge at the moment seems to be that Trump asked the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to start an inquiry into Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine.

Following the US/EU-inspired and funded coup by internal fascist forces, Hunter Biden (a dishonourably discharged soldier with a history of drug addiction) was given a place on the board of the Ukrainian energy company – a non-executive position (he didn’t actually visit the country during the 18 months of his ‘work’ there) that nevertheless paid him £50,000 per month.

Hunter is the son of Joe Biden, who was the US vice-president in the regime of President Barack Obama, who was in office at the time of the coup, and the lucrative opening of the energy company to the Biden family was seen by many as a thank-you to the US government. The arrangement certainly sheds some light on the extremely high number visits made by Biden Sr to Ukraine while he was in office (reported by friendly media as six but by independent observers to number as many as 17).

President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden wanted the Ukraine’s chief prosecutor dismissed, and President Trump maintains that Hunter was tasked with bringing pressure to bear on the Ukrainian government to comply with those wishes. Others suggest that much work was also done on this issue by Joe Biden himself.

It has been said by some (notably by an anonymous CIA ‘whistleblower’) that when the US president suggested to Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky that his government should investigate Hunter Biden’s role in Ukraine, Trump threated withheld military aid in order to pressurise Zelensky into complying – a quid pro quo.

It seems quite likely that Trump would have done this, but it also seems likely that his potential Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden would have used his son’s position to pressure the Ukrainians, so if this line is pursued, the mud is likely to be flying in both directions.

Once the onset of a formal impeachment investigation of Trump was declared, it seemed to free him to speak more openly (if that is possible), so that on 3 October he stood on the White House lawn and publicly called on Ukraine’s government to start an investigation into Biden Jr.

For good measure, he added that the Chinese should likewise investigate the doings of Hunter Biden when he accompanied his father there, using his official jet on an official trip to China in 2013 to facilitate Hunter in doing his own business.

Hunter was setting up a private equity fund, BHR, and looking for money from Chinese investors. Following questions from the press, the younger Biden admitted that he had made a contact whilst on the trip, but passed this off as a mere social encounter.

At the end of the day, all bourgeois politicians are corrupt beasts in a corrupt zoo. The only thing about Trump is that sometimes he frustrates the plans of the US ruling 0.1 percent, and for that he receives the contempt and hatred of the bourgeoisie and its minions.

Strangely, it also earns him the contempt and hatred of most of what passes for the US left, who are all delirious with joy over the prospect of Trump’s impeachment. Trump is no better (apart from being an occasional unwitting loose cannon) or worse than any other US president, and the American left’s concentrating all their hatred on him personally only compounds the confusion that is rampant among US workers.

When one man is blamed for everything in this way, the winner is the political system of imperialism and the extremely small band of parasites who sit atop the bourgeoisie and direct all.

Bourgeois politicians tell lies; it’s what they do, get used to it. Just as in Britain when remainer MPs scream that Boris tells lies about proroguing parliament and about money for the NHS, they are trying their very best to avoid being called out on the lies they all told following the referendum result – namely, that they would respect the vote!

And what is the process of impeachment except a political tool that can in the right circumstances be used to batter an opponent? It is akin to a coven of witches leading the witch-hunt against another witch for the crime of being a witch.

Workers must let go of the narrative of individuals and concentrate their organisation, their class sense and, eventually, their fire against imperialism and those who use it against us all.

Posted in USA, Politics0 Comments

Bernie Sanders drops out – again

The great hope of the American left leaves his supporters in the lurch, putting his weight behind the establishment choice.

Lalkar writers

On Wednesday 8 April, Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to become the Democratic party candidate who will face Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential election.

This was Mr Sanders’ second time of running to secure the Democrat nomination. Last time, he was stitched up big time by the Democratic party hierarchy, which wanted the arch-warmonger Hilary Clinton, believing that she would ‘walk it’.

This time around, Bernie Sanders walked away from the race he had at one point commandingly led because he lost a series of primaries to former vice-president Joe Biden, who is seen by the Democrat great and good as the one to beat Trump this time.

Senator Sanders also cited the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as a factor in his decision, saying: “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.”

Both before and after Mr Sanders’ announcement that he was bowing out of the contest, his camp and that of Senator Joseph Biden had been in negotiations over which parts of the Sanders platform they should hoist onto the Biden bandwagon in order to get Sanders – and, more importantly, his supporters – to back Biden’s campaign.

Biden’s own performance has been lacklustre, even by US presidential standards, leaning heavily on supposed experience gleaned from his time as Barak Obama’s vice-president, and also on his personal enmity with President Trump.

The assumption that he is trying to build in relation to this idea of ‘personal enmity’ is, of course, that Donald Trump must consider Joe Biden to be the most dangerous possible opponent since Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son’s murky business interests in Ukraine ‘in order to smear him’.

The danger for Biden with this narrative is that Trump won the impeachment battle related to the so-called ‘Ukrainegate’ phone call, leaving the question still hanging in voters’ minds as to Biden’s and his son’s connection to dirty politics and dodgy business dealings in Ukraine.

Incorporating a modicum of Sanders’ programme?

At this time, we have no definite idea of the final platform on which Joe Biden will stand, but to carry those Sanders supporters it will need, initially at least, to go some way towards universal public healthcare, addressing homelessness to some extent, moving towards a $15 per hour national minimum wage, and creating student loans to help poorer kids get through college.

Whatever the end result, Mr Biden immediately responded to Sanders’ capitulation with the following words: “I’ll be reaching out to you … You will be heard by me.” Adding: “And to your supporters, I make the same commitment: I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country.”

Even on the surface, this seems very friendly, and it is telling that Sanders absolutely forbade his camp to challenge Biden on the Ukrainian allegations that President Trump raised, or on any issue that suggested criminal activity.

In January 2020, Zephyr Teachout, a law professor allied to Mr Sanders’ campaign, wrote a column in The Guardian saying that Joe Biden had “a big corruption problem”. Sanders made clear to CBS News: “It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way,” and one of Sanders’ aides who had agreed with Ms Teachout was virtually forced out of the team.

It has been speculated that Sanders used his early lead to open negotiations with the Biden camp even before Biden’s ‘Super Tuesday’ victories shot him into the lead. One unnamed Sanders team member speculated that Sanders was prepared to lose if he could get Biden to take on board most of his platform.

This does seem possible when we look further at Joe Biden’s gushing reply to the Sanders surrender: “Senator Sanders and his supporters have changed the dialogue in America,” the former vice-president said. “Issues which had been given little attention – or little hope of ever passing – are now at the centre of the political debate.”

Another incident that could suggest a Sanders/Biden double-act was the strange campaign trail adopted by Sanders. Bernie Sanders had to recognise Joe Biden as the main contender for the Democratic nomination, and yet he spent days trying to force two other candidates out of the race by campaigning in Minnesota and Massachusetts, the home states of Ms Klobuchar and Ms Warren (winning neither) who both threw their weight behind Biden when they ran out of steam.

One weapon that Joe Biden has in his electoral arsenal that Sanders lacks, and which may have helped him make the decision to step aside, getting Biden to carry much of his platform into the Oval Office, if indeed he did do this, is the older black vote. A big majority of older black people still look to the Obama presidency as one of the greatest events in US politics, and Biden was Obama’s right-hand man.

Despite Obama being no better than any other president of the USA in terms of foreign policy or home policy; despite his continuing wars and meddling in other countries’ internal affairs (helping bring open fascists to power in Ukraine; destroying Libya); and despite the vastly increased executions of black people on the streets by police forces across the country during his term in office, Obama was the first and as yet the only black president, and Joe Biden was his loyal vice-president.

So it now seems understood by all, even though it is not yet official, that Joseph Biden will stand against Donald Trump for the presidency. The platform will be assembled at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), but, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, there are many voices being raised in favour of that platform being carried out via the internet. This would mean a greater level of control by the Democrat party elite within the DNC and less chance of any Sanders-supporting delegates rocking the boat from the floor.

‘Sleepy Joe’ v Boxer Trump

Whatever the platform is and however it is arrived at, it will still have to survive the pugilistic and direct style of the Republicans under Trump’s leadership.

Biden’s mental state and ability to do the job has already been called into question through newspaper articles, and Trump has publicly labelled Biden as ‘Sleepy Joe’ – a nickname that seems to be gaining some ground.

Marc A Thiessen, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote an article on 12 March (well before Biden was the only man standing in the Democratic nomination race), entitled It’s fair to speculate whether Biden is mentally fit to be president, in which he listed recent gaffes by the 77-year-old Joe Biden. Some of the gaffes highlighted by Thiessen are, as he says, nothing by themselves, but taken together over a short period may cause concern.

Some of the Biden gaffes are mere slips of the tongue, but others show that gaps do exist in his memory and still others that reality appears to have toddled off altogether while he was talking. Biden’s grasp of what is happening now seems blurred as, when talking of the upcoming presidential election, he declared: “I think we can win back the House.”

He forgot the words of the Declaration of Independence, saying: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women are created, by the, you know, you know the thing.”

While campaigning in South Carolina, he forgot what office he was running for, declaring: “My name’s Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.”

On three occasions, Biden declared to the press that he was arrested in South Africa trying to visit Nelson Mandela in prison – an incident his campaign team later admitted never happened.

He described, in an interview with the Post, meeting a navy captain in Afghanistan, but the Post reported that “almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect”.

He claimed to have worked with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping on the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, although Deng died in 1997.

He claimed during a debate that “150 million people have been killed [by guns in the USA] since 2007” (which would be nearly half the US population).

He said he met with Parkland mass shooting victims while he was vice-president, even though the shooting took place after he left office.

He has declared that Democrats should “choose truth over facts”.

He has said that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” (which is perhaps more of a Freudian slip than anything else as it’s a good bet that a black kid in the USA is more likely to be poor).

He has pledged to use biofuels to power “steamships”.

He repeatedly gets confused about what state he is in during campaigning.

He has claimed that his late son Beau “was the attorney general of the United States”.

He publicly confused former British prime minister Theresa May with the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Taken together as a whole these gaffes may form a pattern – and raise questions about whether Biden has experienced a cognitive decline.

Social democracy to save imperialism or socialism to save the workers?

Of course, mental illness has never stopped anyone else from becoming the president of the United States of America. Take Ronald Reagan, who was obviously suffering from Alzheimer’s during his last term. George W Bush, too, was hardly fluent in English or common sense.

It is a fact, though, that much of the left throughout the world will still be hoping that Biden beats Trump. Why?

Because they have not yet learned that it doesn’t matter who the president is, or what colour or sex they are, since the USA remains the world’s most prolific murdering and robbing imperialist state in the world today.

In just the same way, it doesn’t matter who leads the British Labour party, since it remains a machine that exclusively serves British imperialism.

Would anyone excuse the crimes of a mass murderer simply because he had been kind to his old mother? So why excuse the crimes of a murderous imperialist state – whose crimes are on an immeasurably greater scale – because it is willing from time to time to distribute a few scraps of welfare to the exploited and oppressed?

We must understand what imperialism is and what it does; and that individuals, no matter how well-meaning (or stupid), cannot change the system – even if elected to sit on seats of supposed power.

Socialist revolution will sweep imperialism away, and that will be driven by the workers, not gifted to us by a multimillionaire or by a social-democratic party, be that party led by a ‘right’ or a ‘left’ social democrat.

Posted in USA, Politics0 Comments

US burning as working-class communities rise up against police brutality

As Irish republicans used to say: when the law makers are the law breakers, there is no law.

Proletarian writers

The militarisation of the USA’s police force has accompanied the descent into poverty of half the US population. While the poorest are more likely to die of Covid-19, and black workers are more likely to be poor, they face this reality without access to basic healthcare and in the face of brutal state repression. This is the stark reality of capitalist dictatorship in the ‘land of the free’.

As our latest paper went to press, working-class anger was spilling onto streets across the United States, as mass uprisings and nationwide protests followed the brutal murder of George Floyd, a black working-class man.

On the afternoon of 25 May, an employee at a delicatessen in Minneapolis accused Mr Floyd of using a counterfeit banknote to buy cigarettes and called the police. Just seventeen minutes after they arrived, Mr Floyd was dead.

Bystanders documented the state execution on mobile phones, and it was not long before the shameful behaviour of his murder squad had been witnessed by millions more on social media. Writing for Sputnik news, Tommy Sheridan described the scene:

“George Floyd called out for his mother as he gasped for air in the final minutes of his life.

“Lying face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind him, George posed no threat to anyone, but was restrained by three Minneapolis police officers kneeling on him, and one of those brutes placed his knee deliberately and sadistically onto George’s neck.

“George Floyd’s muffled and fear-laden cries of ‘I can’t breathe’ were ignored by the four police officers who surrounded him.” (America 2020 – where anti-racists are terrorists and racists are president, 1 June 2020)

So blatant was the murder of Mr Floyd that, the day after his death, the Minneapolis police department fired all four of the officers involved in the episode (an almost unprecedented event), and, on Friday, the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr Floyd to the ground.

Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Particularly shocking for the millions who have seen the video of his crime is the calm manner in which it was carried out. With his hands in his pockets, Chauvin coolly and calculatingly took his victim’s life. The video also shows that Chauvin did not remove his knee even after George Floyd lost consciousness, or for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene.

In an attempt to cover up the murder, a preliminary autopsy by the state found the cause of death to be the “combined effects of Mr Floyd’s being restrained by police, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system”.

The suggestion that Mr Floyd was partly responsible for his own death only inflamed the situation on America’s streets, and barely a week later an independent autopsy declared what everyone knew – that his death was straightforward murder.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been pouring oil on troubled waters by declaring that the thousands of angry workers who have taken to the streets in protest are criminal anarchist gangs and calling for extreme retribution against them, and by resuscitating a racist slogan/threat from the civil rights era on Twitter: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Not an isolated event

The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated event. Working-class people in the USA know from their daily experience that the police who are supposed to “protect and serve” them are in fact little more than an armed gang, rampaging through the streets with total immunity, free to commit any crime as they protect the private property of the rich – and that their violence is disproportionately aimed at black workers.

Racism has a long and bloody history in the USA, whose very founding took place on the backs of black African slaves and via the genocide of America’s native peoples. This historic racism has not gone away for the simple reason that every modern imperialist society needs racism to survive.

Our rulers need it to justify their unjustifiable wars, to justify the heinous inequality in the world they have created, and to preserve their rule at home by keeping workers divided and weak.

This latest murder, however, was not only more cold-blooded and better documented than most, but it took place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions of Americans forced even deeper into unemployment and poverty, with little or no support from the government, even as they have found that a lifetime of the poor nutrition and chronic stress that accompany poverty and institutional racism has left black Americans disproportionately vulnerable.

Into the simmering rage of a brutalised, marginalised and impoverished community, the video of George Floyd’s murder dropped like a petrol bomb into a hay barn, sparking a conflagration that quickly spread across the country and all the way to the White House front lawn, forcing President Trump to take shelter in a bunker underneath the White House.

While Trump has been quick to push for the use of extreme and brutal force against protestors, the fact that in one or two places police officers have refused to follow these orders will be giving America’s rulers serious pause for thought.

British workers in solidarity

At a meeting organised by the Workers Party of Britain on Tuesday 2 June, George Galloway gave a damning condemnation of state racism in the USA, whilst members of the WPB pledged to support protests called across Britain in solidarity with black workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

As we go to press, the situation shows little sign of de-escalating. Violent conflict across America is demonstrating to all the brutal realities of life for working-class people, especially working-class black people in the USA.

These events have shown once again what poor working-class communities know full well: that the police are not a neutral or benign body dedicated to serving the community and helping old ladies across the street, but a hired force dedicated to violently upholding the rule of the super-rich.

To put it in Marxist terms, they are a special body of armed men, whose job is to enforce the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Without a trusted revolutionary party of the entire working class, it will be extremely difficult for the American masses to achieve a decisive victory over their enemy, US imperialismBlack workers and white workers must unite in common cause against a common enemy. There can be no victory in a race war; only through a united class struggle for socialism can racism be finished off once and for all.

No matter the things which hold them back, the anger of the working people, their brave spirit of resistance, and their instinctive desire to live in peace and at liberty may prove to be sufficient to fatally weaken US imperialism, which is now at war at home as well as abroad.

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Rebellion: fractures in America deepen after murder of George Floyd

Will ‘taking the knee’, removing some statues and charging four policemen be enough to dampen the protests that have rocked the imperialist heartlands?

Proletarian writers

A cringe-inducing piece of theatre, Democratic party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer ‘took the knee’ at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, wearing stoles made of kente cloth (a Ghanaian textile used by many black Americans to show pride in and awareness of their African heritage), supposedly to show their opposition to systematic racism in America.

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On 25 May, an African-American man was murdered by the US police. George Floyd, a 46-year-old man, was arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota after he was accused by a local store employee of paying for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

Seventeen minutes after the first police car arrived at the scene, Mr Floyd was unconscious, having been pinned beneath the weight of three police officers with one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling forcefully upon his neck, pushing his whole body weight down upon his trachea and larynx for almost nine minutes, while onlookers filmed the incident in growing horror and disbelief.

The last minute of this suffocating act of ‘restraint’ – a standard police procedure that has led to many such cases of positional asphyxia – occurred after emergency medical services had arrived on scene.

At first, George Floyd called out for help; for his mother; then he became sickeningly limp and unresponsive. Still his attackers, serene in the protection offered by their uniforms and ‘the law’, continued to inflict injury, sublimely calm and unconcerned as to the foul and unjustified act of murder they were committing.

George Floyd subsequently suffered a respiratory and cardiac arrest whilst being conveyed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Video footage of the murder showed that Mr Floyd was not aggressive towards the police and did not resist arrest. He was entirely compliant. What the footage does show is that the arresting officers repeatedly ignored his pleas, and those of bystanders, that he couldn’t breathe.

So blatant was the murder, and so overwhelming the public anger, that Minneapolis police department was forced to sack all four police officers involved in the arrest the following day.

Separate autopsy reports released by independent and county medical examiners agreed in ruling that Mr Floyd’s death was a homicide attributable to the violent methods of restraint used upon him, but they differed in part on the cause. The state autopsy insisted that underlying health conditions and intoxicants may have contributed to Mr Floyd’s death in a thinly veiled attempt to cover up this graphically documented and widely witnessed state-murder.

Derek Chauvin, filmed with his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck has now been charged with second-degree (unpremeditated) murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers involved – J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane – have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.

At this time they intend to plead ‘not-guilty’ to their crime, and the prospects of a murder conviction are slim. According to NBC News, between 2005-19:

“Ninety-eight non-federal law enforcement officers have been arrested in connection with fatal, on-duty shootings, according to the Police Integrity Research Group’s data. To date, only 35 of these officers have been convicted of a crime, often a lesser offense such as manslaughter or negligent homicide, rather than murder.

“Only three officers have been convicted of murder during this period and seen their convictions stand. Another 22 officers were acquitted in a jury trial and nine were acquitted during a bench trial decided by a judge. Ten other cases were dismissed by a judge or a prosecutor, and in one instance no true bill [a legal procedure to dismiss charges against a defendant when the grand jury does not find enough evidence to charge them with violating a law] was returned from a grand jury.” (Police officers convicted for fatal shootings are the exception, not the rule by Janell Ross, 13 March 2019)

The initial response to Mr Floyd’s killing was the usual cover-up after a police murder, with none of the officers involved charged or arrested. But as the amateur video footage of his death went viral on social media and anger and frustration erupted into spontaneous civil unrest, protests began on 26 May in Minneapolis and quickly spread to hundreds of US cities, in all 50 states. Hundreds of thousands of enraged workers took to the streets, demanding justice for George Floyd and the arrest of the officers involved.

Such was the scale of unrest that the state struggled to maintain control. In extraordinary scenes on 28 May, officers were forced to flee in convoy from a Minneapolis police precinct, which was later torched by angry protesters.

In Washington DC on 29 May, more than 50 secret service agents were injured in clashes with protesters and President Donald Trump was forced to seek shelter in a bunker underneath the White House.

Whilst much has been made by politicians and the media of acts of violence, looting and arson, the protests have in fact been overwhelmingly peaceful. The response of the police to peaceful protests, meanwhile, has been to brutalise and intimidate demonstrators off the streets. Video footage has revealed officers using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against protesters, bystanders and journalists – without warning and without provocation.

The US press freedom tracker reported at least 125 violations of press freedom in the first three days of the protests, including 20 arrests. One particularly gratuitous act involved the arrest of an entire CNN crew, by black-uniformed and gas-masked officers in full riot gear, without even the pretence of explanation, or justification – while they were broadcasting live on national television.

If this is the treatment of the ‘free press’, which is in reality a most powerful and vocal section of the US establishment, it doesn’t take much imagination to conceive the scale of violent repression meted out to the average worker involved in the protests – particularly if the workers were black or Hispanic.

To contextualise the scale of repression, at least 11,000 protesters were arrested in the first eight days following Mr Floyd’s murder, compared to 9,000 arrests in Hong Kong during an entire year of US-backed political destabilisation and street violence.

President Trump has responded to the protests with his usual bluster, referring to protestors as ‘professional anarchists’, ‘violent mobs’, ‘arsonists’, ‘looters’, ‘criminals’, ‘rider rioters’ and ’antifa’. Blaming the ‘far left’ for the violence, Trump bizarrely claimed he was going to designate antifa a “terrorist organisation”, something which he doesn’t have the authority to do and is in any case an impossibility since antifa is a loosely-applied political label that can hardly be described even as a movement and certainly is not an organisation with members or a leadership.

On 1 June, Trump threatened to deploy active-duty military personnel onto American streets by invoking the Insurrection Act (1807) as was done by George H Bush during the Los Angeles uprising that followed the acquittal of the police officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King in 1992.

More than 17,000 troops of the national guard were deployed across 23 states. In Washington DC itself, Trump deployed nine Blackhawk military helicopters and thousands of national guard troops from several states alongside 1,600 military police and active duty combat troops from the 82nd airborne division, who received written orders to equip themselves with bayonets.

During a week of conflicting orders, during which Trump demanded a deployment of 10,000 troops to Washington DC, the extent of public outrage at the violent murder of George Floyd and the subsequent violent intent and behaviour of state forces, combined with public support for the protestors’ aims and the peaceful nature of the protests, eventually led to the withdrawal of troops.

BLM as a Trump removal mechanism

It seems that Trump’s enemies amongst the ruling class are using the Black Lives Matter protests to attempt to oust him from office. Large sections of the ruling class loathe him, not only because he is a source of instability, stumbling from one political crisis to another, but because Trump cannot be relied upon by the US imperial elite to wage the right wars or support the right interests.

Five retired four-star generals (Dempsey, Kelly, Mullen, Mattis and Allen) were given a platform by media outlets to criticise Trump for his proposed use of the military on American soil, with each accusing him of sowing division. More than 280 former national security officials found the time to sign their names to a letter criticising Trump’s aggressive approach to the protests.

Trump is making a political gamble that his blusterous demands for ‘law and order’ will shore up his support in advance of the upcoming presidential election, as his popularity has dipped significantly in recent months owing to his handling of the health crisis combined with the terrible toll being taken by the economic crash.

“The Trump campaign has hit turbulence five months from election day. Earlier this year, Mr Trump was riding higher on a[n apparently] strong economy and soaring stock market [bubble] following his impeachment trial acquittal. Now, he faces multiple crises that cannot be solved by a tweet. The coronavirus death toll has topped 100,000 and 40 million Americans have lost their jobs and he is struggling to make the case for his re-election.

“A national outcry against systemic racism and rapidly shifting public opinion on the issue have also undermined the appeal of the president’s nativist rhetoric among crucial independent voters.

“Mr Biden has an average national lead of eight points, according to Real Clear Politics. He is also ahead in many swing states that Mr Trump won in 2016, including Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Mr Trump has only a very narrow lead in Texas, a state that has not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter won the White House in 1976.” (Trump battles strong anti-racism tide in race with Biden by Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times, 11 June 2020)

Meanwhile, the Democrat party, also with eyes on the presidential election in November, has pinned all the blame for the unrest on Trump. The fact that the majority of violence meted out against protesters has occurred in blue states with Democrat governors and in cities with Democrat mayors seems to have eluded them.

It’s more than a ‘race riot’; it’s a rebellion

The civil unrest that has burst onto American streets since the death of Mr Floyd is interesting because historically, protests, rioting and civil disobedience have tended to be confined to the communities on the receiving end of police violence and racism. Such, for example, was the case during the long hot summer (1967), the Rodney King riots (1992), and more recently in Ferguson, Missouri (2014) after the police shooting of Michael Brown Jr.

By contrast, the spontaneous uprising of 2020 has affected every corner of the United States, as well as dozens of cities internationally. Protesters of every race and ethnicity have been motivated by revulsion at yet another murder of an unarmed black man by police, but also more broadly by the widespread injustices and rampant inequalities that workers experience under capitalism, made glaringly acute by the onset of the 2020 great capitalist economic depression.

A study carried out by a sociologist from the University of Maryland found that white Americans made up 65 percent of protesters in Washington, 61 percent of protesters in New York, and 53 percent of protesters in Los Angeles. (One big difference about George Floyd protests: many white faces by Amy Harmon and Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, 12 June 2020)

Polling has indicated that the protesters are overwhelmingly supported in their actions against police violence by wide-ranging sections of American society. (Big majorities support protests over Floyd killing and say police need to change, poll finds by Scott Clement and Dan Balz, Washington Post, 9 June 2020)

The emergence of a multiracial rebellion is a new development, showing what appears to be a dawning awareness within the US working class of a shared common interest.

This is bad news for the US ruling class, which everywhere attempts to divide workers on racial and ethnic lines in order to obscure the fundamental class issues that capitalism creates. This time, it hasn’t worked!

The international spread of the rebellion gives further credence to the idea that this is more than a race riot focused upon a single issue. In more than 60 countries, workers joining the ‘Black lives matter’ protests may be fighting injustices caused by their own ruling classes, but the common denominator remains capitalism.

Upticks in revolutionary cycles often begin with simple demands – in this instance, justice for George Floyd. Outrage at ongoing police tyranny, oppression and murder is the spark, but not the ultimate cause of civil unrest. Deeper issues are not hard to discern, as multiple crises are currently converging upon the United States.

The government’s incompetent management of the Covid-19 crisis has led to at least 116,000 American deaths. In addition, 40 million are newly unemployed (and therefore also adding to the significant numbers without health insurance), with 16 million of these jobs losses expected to be permanent.

Rebellions, or uprisings, depending on the nomenclature you prefer, are by their very nature chaotic, sporadic, and at some level politically ‘unsophisticated’. Much has been made by bourgeois politicians and the media about violence – destruction of property and the looting of goods are, of course, features of all spontaneous uprisings.

However, there is a critical difference, which must be acknowledged, between the violence of the oppressors and the reaction of the oppressed. In reality, the damage caused by protestors’ looting and arson pales into insignificance when one considers that, during three months of the pandemic, whilst millions of workers have been facing terrible hardships, a select few amongst the billionaire class have increased their wealth by $434bn. There can be no question of who is really doing the looting.

Whilst it’s probable that this particular rebellion will fizzle out, being a spontaneous movement lacking direction and the necessary conscious and organised working-class political leadership, this does not detract from the main character of the events – namely, that they are a justified revolt against police killings and repression, racism and poverty.

By taking part, workers will have learned important practical political lessons about their power as a class, seeing how they were able to act with relative impunity when they acted together, shutting down cities and burning down police precincts. Had such a movement been nurtured correctly, with conscious revolutionary leadership, it would pose a genuine threat to the US monopoly capitalist political system; something of which the ruling class is very well aware.

Our rulers will attempt to extinguish the embers of rebellion

There is palpable fear amongst the US ruling class that this rebellion could be sustained, threatening the ‘peace and stability’ – or, rather, the veiled but profound and sustained ‘lawful’ violence of the US state machine, which allows capitalism not only to loot from the American people but also from peoples in all corners of the earth.

In this context we can see that all actions the ruling class takes in relation to the civil unrest are aimed at nullifying any threat to capitalism. The two obvious avenues for this are the granting of concessions to, and the sowing of divisions amongst, the working class.

Concessions to public anger – but don’t hold your breath for voluntary systemic change!

Concessions are at all times carefully calculated to deceive the workers into discontinuing the class struggle, and are already in effect.

After many decades of almost complete impunity, police officers in the US are suddenly being ‘held accountable’ for their actions. As previously mentioned, the police officers involved in the death of Mr Floyd have all been sacked and are facing criminal charges.

Another fatal police shooting of a black man, Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday 12 June has been deemed an unnecessary use of lethal force, and resulted in the immediate dismissal and a murder charge for the police officer who fired the shots, as well as the resignation of the police commissioner. This is entirely uncharacteristic of the usual ‘due process’ of American law, and entirely a result of the current political climate.

In Minneapolis, lawmakers have voted to disband the entire police department and provide a new ‘public safety system’. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to divert police department funding into youth and social services. Across the USA, at both state and city level, chokeholds are either being banned or reviewed as part of police reforms.

Anyone who is familiar with the disbanding of the ‘Special Patrol Group’ in Britain (following the police murder at their hands of New Zealand born teacher and anti-racist activist Blair Peach, in Southall, in 1979), and its reconstitution as the equally violent and unaccountable ‘Territorial Support Group’ of ‘riot police’, will view such measures with the scepticism they deserve.

In a cringe-inducing piece of theatre, Democratic party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer ‘took the knee’ at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, wearing stoles made of kente cloth (a Ghanaian textile used by many black Americans to show pride in and awareness of their African heritage), supposedly to show their opposition to systematic racism in America.

With pressure building for major change in the USA, Democrats and Republicans have been vying to propose various cosmetic changes to the policing system, hoping this will be enough to dampen the anger of the workers.

Whilst we welcome all concessions forced from the ruling class by workers’ struggle, police reforms under the ancien régime are unlikely to make much difference to the lives of the working class.

The fundamental purpose of the police is to maintain the status quo and protect the private property of the rich. The violent response of US police to largely peaceful protests shows that the ‘rule of law’ is conditional on workers accepting their place in the capitalist order, and will invariably be suspended if they begin to seriously threaten existing social and property relations.

Race v class?

In addition to making largely cosmetic concessions, the key tactic of our rulers to neutralise any potential revolutionary sting is to reframe both the rebellion and the police violence that sparked it as being solely about ‘race’ – and nothing to do with class.

It is obvious that racism was involved in the killing of George Floyd. The police are recruited from reactionary sections of the privileged and politically backward workers – wrongly referred to as the US ‘middle class’ – and have been taught to hate and despise the poor and oppressed.

But the police are not primarily an instrument of racial oppression, but an instrument of class rule. Racism is but one weapon, albeit a central one, in the arsenal of the US bourgeois state.

It is not without reason that Malcolm X stated, when speaking at the Oxford Union on 3 December 1964, that he was “Speaking as a black man from America, which is a racist society. No matter how much you hear it talk about democracy, it’s as racist as South Africa or as racist as Portugal, or as racist as any other racialist society on this earth.

“The only difference between it [USA] and South Africa: South Africa preaches separation and practices separation; America preaches integration and practices segregation. This is the only difference. They don’t practice what they preach, whereas South Africa preaches and practices the same thing.

“I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”

The US civil rights struggle that has been going on for well over a century, in which Malcolm X participated in the 1960s, has clearly changed US society to a degree. Lynching is no longer prevalent, outside the state-sanctioned murders committed by the police, but that struggle is very far from complete, and moreover cannot be completed under the conditions of economic exploitation and disparity that persist, and in fact are more flagrant now than at any previous time.

The persisting and prevalent racism in US society is reflected in the economic, educational and health disparity of the black and Latino communities. The prevalence of residual racism also allows the state to advance a narrative about the recent BLM unrest, aimed at sowing division in the ranks of the protesters, and more fundamentally among the wider US working class, along racial lines.

As has historically been the case when the US state has had to respond to demands for racial equality, the ‘violent black male’ narrative so often invoked by the police to justify their everyday violence has been discarded. Instead, black protesters are described as ‘peaceful’ and legitimate, while their white counterparts are portrayed as ‘violent agitators’ who have come from ‘outside’.

Every attempt is made to prevent white and black workers from making common cause and identifying themselves as workers facing the same class enemy.

In Detroit, Michigan, police chief James Craig made thinly veiled comments on a Facebook livestream about white protesters: “You know, I love this community and we work very well with this community, and we know that the individuals from outside the city of Detroit who converged at the protest location don’t represent this city. They’re not from this city,” he said.

“And so I’m just asking for all Detroiters to continue to support us. Let’s peacefully protest. But outside of that, we’re not going to tolerate it; we’re not going to tolerate criminal acts.”

In Atlanta, Georgia, mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms denounced the “very diverse crowd” for violence in a 31 May interview with NBC, adding: “What I know in Atlanta is that this protest, even from a physical standpoint, didn’t look like our normal protests.”

To reinforce the message that black and white workers do not belong together, black separatists are being given platforms to reinforce schisms within the working class through the promotion of racial politics.

In a piece in the Nation, titled There’s only one possible conclusion: white America likes its killer cops, author Elie Mystal blamed all “white people” for racist police murders, asserting that they either openly or silently support law enforcement killers and are therefore responsible for the deaths of black Americans.

“The police are never going to voluntarily stop killing black and brown people. The killings will continue until the majority of white people in this country make the killings stop.

“The police work >em>for white people, and they know it. White people know it too. Deep down, white people know exactly whom the police are supposed to protect and serve, and they damn well know it’s not black and brown people.” (Our emphasis)

Toppling statues – or toppling the system?

Historical figures involved in barbarous acts such as slavery and colonialism have become the target of the official narrative, with statues and memorials removed at breakneck speed by protesters and authorities alike, not only in America but also in Britain, Belgium, New Zealand and elsewhere.

We are not opposed to such actions. We are very far from glorifying the historical heroes of imperialism, the wealthy ‘public benefactors’ who, having practiced their policies of rapacious greed, accumulating vast fortunes from the exploitation of the labouring masses and by looting foreign lands, trading in opium and human flesh, then sprinkled a few coins of largess on public works to immortalise themselves. Whether major historical figures – the looters of entire continents like Rhodes and Clive – or minor slave-drivers like Edward Coulson, we hold no brief for them, but merely note that they are long dead.

By all means we should re-evaluate our history, as it is part of understanding our present – but then the really glaring question presents itself: why is present-day imperialism not receiving such scrutiny?

Meanwhile, capitalist businesses and institutions are jumping on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon, distracting workers with platitudes and tokenism as they rush to advertise their ‘antiracist’ credentials.

The US Navy and Marines, without pausing for breath in their prosecution of imperialist wars all over the globe, have miraculously wiped their slate clean by … prohibiting the (anyway anachronistic) display of the confederate battle flag.

The NFL (national football league), which famously banned its players from kneeling during the national anthem to highlight racial injustice, has now scurried to apologise for that decision.

Big businesses like Amazon, Apple and Spotify are all seeking to distract attention from their unscrupulous business practices, including the intense sweating of their lowest-paid workers, by joining the side of the angels on the race question.

That this movement can be so easily co-opted by institutions and big business shows how unthreatening culture wars are to the continued rule of the moneybags. What is required is not more culture wars, but the vigorous prosecution of the class war.

Our common cause

The crucial lesson that all sections of the working class must learn is that the real source of our modern misery and frustration is the capitalist system of production. This system is kept in place by the hirelings of a handful of billionaires, who grow richer by the hour while pressing down hard on those who work to create those riches.

As the economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 health crisis, threatens the profits of the billionaires, they are crushing workers under their oppressive boot ever harder, reducing to a minimum and below not only workers’ wages, but also the social benefits they need, whilst proving incapable of providing work for the many millions in desperate need of decent employment, or healthcare for the millions threatened by the virus.

Workers must welcome all movements to address historical injustice, and there can be no doubt that the extent of the racism in the US is so pernicious as to sap the unity and vitality of the US workers. But the solution to racism, for the working class, must always be to demand equality and greater cooperation in the common struggle to end capitalism.

Marx long ago proclaimed that “there can be no freedom for the white labourer where in the black it is branded.” Our slogan must be: “Workers of all countries, black and white, unite and fight!”

Socialism will not come riding in on the back of any spontaneous protest movement, no matter how just is its cause, but will be fought for tooth and nail by a working class, black and white, that has learned to unite behind a clearly articulated programme and an all-embracing political leadership that is capable of forging real unity among the ranks of the historically divided working class. At the top of that agenda must be the overthrow of capitalism.

That is the historical task that awaits the proletariat – of all skin colours.

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Statues come down: the toppling of the mighty

Good riddance to bad rubbish, but what next?

Lalkar writers

At the moment a sizable number of statues are coming down around the world as the unfettered racist police murder of George Floyd in the US has drawn attention to the link between racism and black slavery.

Britain was, of course, was the major slave trading country, bringing enormous wealth to the slave traders who, being rich, rapidly received recognition as the great and the good. Some of them donated a part of their vast fortunes to public works for the benefit of the less fortunate; one of them wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.

Nevertheless, those who suffered at the hands of these bandits and their descendants cannot feel that whatever good works they might have done wipe out their unspeakable crimes.

Many of those wealthy slave traders and their descendants were among those who set up coal mines, mills and factories where they harshly exploited the British working class (who in the days of slave trading were overwhelmingly white), employing little children, throwing workers into unemployed penury at will, making workers endure dangerous conditions and forcing them into life-limiting overwork.

Whether descended from the victims of slave owners or other heartless exploiters, it is quite understandable that anger is leading protestors in the direction of toppling statues designed to honour these sociopaths.

We are happy for people to take into their own hands the removal of these tributes to evil – ie, for the working class to take the necessary executive action since it is perfectly clear that without them doing so, absolutely nothing would be done.

As a result of the good citizens of Bristol tipping the statue of slave trader Edward Colston into the river, authorities all over the world are frantically removing obnoxious statues from their own jurisdictions – or at least covering them up, as well as changing street names, etc, to which we can only respond: ‘Well done!’

What must not be done, however, is to restrict oneself to fighting the crimes of the past, since equally heinous crimes are being committed in the present by today’s ‘great and good’ – every day, in every way, and on a scale that positively dwarfs even the slave trade.

To the extent that we fail to fight the imperialist bloodsuckers of today while enjoying some of the benefits that living in an imperialist country provides, we make ourselves complicit in the crimes of our ruling class. Herein lies the great danger.

British imperialism, principally through its finance capital, sucks blood from oppressed countries all over the world. Having for centuries through downright looting impoverished the countries it colonised, it now claims for itself a large proportion of the wealth generated in those countries through lending to them at high rates of interest the money it looted in the past and the wealth it continues to extract to this day.

The result of this is that these countries, whether exploited by British imperialism, US imperialism or any other imperialism, lack the means to provide modern infrastructure, health and education facilities, or even to build enough production facilities to provide employment to their population, except to the extent that they increase their indebtedness and subservience to imperialism. Those who try to resist this iniquity nowadays find themselves victims of crippling sanctions, if not the bombing and destruction of what little they have.

The result is, of course, millions of refugees from these countries desperately seeking a safe haven, many of whom lose their lives in the process, or get stranded in concentration camps with little in the way of facilities and often without enough to eat. Disease in such places is rife.

Even in Britain we have been witnessing how the billionaire class has callously put working-class lives at risk by pillaging the NHS so it could not afford to put in place the necessary measures to combat a pandemic that everybody knew would sooner or later be coming.

To date, some 62,000 British people have paid the price with their lives, afflicted either with coronavirus or with other conditions that the hospitals were too overwhelmed to attend to, while others will never fully recover. (Excess UK deaths blamed on undiagnosed coronavirus cases by Chris Giles and Clive Cookson, Financial Times, 5 June 2020)

One must not forget also that precisely because of racism and discrimination that lowers their average social status, black people in Britain are more susceptible to coronavirus than the general population, without, however, blinding us to the fact that even in the lowest economic strata of British society, the majority are white.

In other words, susceptibility to disease is above all a class question.

In conclusion, if you see a statue erected to some great owner of cotton mills or coal mines, some industrial giant or honoured civic or royal dignitary, it is surely the case that the wealth they amassed or used was built on the dead bodies of slaves, on mines full of corpses, on the short and pitiless lives of mill workers.

If that makes you seethe with anger, what should be your response? To smash or hide that statue is by itself not enough. What is needed is to stand in unity with other workers, black and white, young and old, male and female, and smash the chains that still hold you. Racism cannot be tolerated as it undermines unity – a divided working class stands little chance of victory.

Our collective enemy is imperialism, and it must be destroyed. One day in the future, people will walk freely through museums of statues to this or that slaver, owner of machines, land-grabber, king or president, and marvel that such a twisted and sick society was ever created and lorded over by such an insignificant and vain tiny minority.

But there is much work to do to before we are able to establish that bright future.

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Statues and the crimes of imperialism

It is widely accepted that the imperial powers committed terrible crimes in the past, but is the past really so different from the present?

Proletarian writers

While workers are arguing amongst themselves over the rights and wrongs of slavers from history, the present-day slave-masters continue to loot the world’s wealth unhindered.

Proletarian Radio · Statues And The Crimes Of Imperialism

Protests that have sprung up across the western world recently directed a lot of energy towards the destruction of statues and memorials celebrating various slave owners and colonial statesmen.

While their removal is not to be lamented, we cannot but note that capitalist imperialism and all the filth it drags in its train – slavery, mass poverty, inequality, hunger and destitution – are not at all things of the past, the memories of which can be consigned to a museum, but a continuing plague on humanity that needs to be fought tooth and nail. Symbolic shadow-boxing is not going to cut it.

Divide and conquer: racism, sexism, religious intolerance

The foul murder in broad daylight of black working-class American George Floyd has prompted much urgent debate about the history and reality of racism in our society.

Racism is a tool that our rulers use to divide workers along national, racial or ethnic lines (much in the same way as the pitting of man against woman or the promotion of religious intolerance), with the aim of weakening us as a class through confusion and in-fighting.

Communists cannot allow the working masses to be divided along these artificial lines, which are so played up by the capitalists and their lackeys. Instead of taking the bait, we must fight strictly along the line of class.

We have witnessed the pathetic spectacle of politicians, in particular of our degenerate Labour party and the Democratic party in the US, hotfoot from sponsoring racist imperialist wars, scrambling to self-identify as anti-racist heroes by the cost-free and empty gesture of ‘taking the knee’ in supposed solidarity with oppressed black workers. So meaningless has this me-too posturing become that even the brutal thugs of the US police have joined in.

Meanwhile imperialism continues to commit, aid and abet all manner of atrocities all over the globe, as we will now review.

Open slavery in Libya

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, backed by the popular masses of Libya, sought to break the vice-like grip of North America and Europe on Africa, and for his efforts was brutally murdered.

The disgusting deed was broadcast across the world and held up as a grotesque trophy by the imperialists who had organised it. Hillary Clinton watched the murder on television, memorably gloating “We came, we saw, he died!”

And it was upon this dire landscape that the hideous, shameful sight of an open trade in black African slaved reared its ugly head – presided over by United Nations ‘peacekeepers’.

War in Yemen

Even before the war, Yemen was the poorest country in the middle east. The situation is now even more dire after five years of aggression by the feudal marionettes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose entire existence is dependent on oil exports to the centres of imperialism, predominantly the US.

While the boots on the ground were initially provided by the Saudis, alongside various mercenaries, the strings are being pulled and the armaments supplied by the US and its British and French side-kicks.

The US, as the most powerful imperialist power, masterminds the whole affair, relying on feudal monarchies and the zionist state of Israel to act as a check upon the development of independent, anti-imperialist nations in the middle east.

Britain, through the Royal Air Force and British Aerospace, plays its sordid part by training Saudi pilots, providing key logistical support, supplying expertise to command and control centres and selling munitions. Our ruling class is doing its best to help keep the failed war going, inflicting unimaginable suffering to the civilian Yemeni population in the process.

French state-owned ‘defence’ company Nexter, based in central France, has been cashing in by selling its Caesar truck-mounted howitzers, Leclerc tanks, Aravis armoured troop-carrying vehicles and many more weapons of death and destruction to the Saudis, with a lucrative contract to supply over 120 of such war machines between 2018 and 2023. (The itinerary of a secret shipment – made in France, Disclose, 15 April 2019)

Of course, the official line is that these machines are “placed for the most part in defensive positions, outside of Yemeni territory or under coalition control, but not on the front line”. Who believes such rot? There is no ‘defensive position’ for the aggressors in a rapacious war like this.

Terrorism in Syria

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad earned the undying hatred of the imperialists, alongside the respect and admiration of the progressive, anti-imperialist world, by insisting on a path of independent economic and foreign policy for Syria, by allying with Iran and with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, by opposing the war on Iraq, by supporting the Palestinian resistance and other such courageous and admirable acts of resistance against the imperialists’ insane drive for total domination of the world’s resources.

Maddened with rage that any should stand up to their rule, the imperialists launched a dirty proxy war against the sovereign nation of Syria.

The war was fought initially by bands of jihadi mercenaries. Openly terroristic organisations were billed as ‘moderate rebels’ by the imperialist media, although the only way they could possibly have been considered ‘moderate’ was by comparison with their imperialist paymasters, who are themselves the greatest sponsors and enactors of terrorism on the planet.

The aggression was stopped in its tracks by the Syrian Arab Army backed up by Russia, the latter knowing full well that Syria was just a stepping stone towards direct confrontation with itself. Yet the US won’t admit defeat, continuing to loot Syria’s oil for as long as it can maintain a shaky military presence on Syrian soil.

The looting of Africa, Asia and Latin America

Imperialist aggression is not just a military affair, it is also an economic one. Formed towards the end of WW2, the US-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund (the latter described by David Graebner in his book Debt as “the world’s debt enforcers … You might say the high finance equivalent of the guys who come to break your legs”) work hand in hand in order to keep poor countries chained in shackles of economic bondage – a system impeccably documented by John Perkins in his Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

“The World Bank was supposed to make loans for what they call international development. Development was their euphemism for dependency.

“The World Bank was supposed to provide infrastructure loans that other countries would go into debt to American engineering firms for, to build up their export sectors and their plantation sectors. So there would be roads, port development for imports and exports. Essentially, they would make long-term capital investments in the foreign trade sector.

“The IMF was in charge of foreign currencies. The aim of the IMF was quite explicitly to prevent any country from imposing capital controls to protect its balance of payments.

“Many countries had a dual exchange rate, one exchange rate for trade in goods and services, the other exchange rate for capital movements. The function of the IMF was essentially to make other countries borrow, not in their own currencies, but in dollars, and to make sure that if countries could not pay their dollar-denominated debts, they had to impose austerity.

“And the IMF developed a plan, saying any country can pay any amount of debt to the creditors if it just impoverishes its labour enough.” (The IMF and World Bank: partners in economic backwardness by Prof M Hudson and B Faulkner, Global Research, 6 July 2019)

It is through such mechanisms that AfricaAsia and Latin America are looted. African governments “received $32bn in loans in 2015, but paid more than half of that – $18bn – in debt interest, with the level of debt rising rapidly”.

Further: “African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation.” (World is plundering Africa’s wealth of ‘billions of dollars a year’ by K McVeigh, The Guardian, 24 May 2017)

Thus, countries that are home to immense natural resources, potentially capable of generating tremendous wealth and a wonderful standard of living for their inhabitants, are reduced to a state of perpetual and extreme poverty.

The atrocities above detailed are far from a complete list, as witness the unending war in Afghanistan, the utter devastation of Iraq, the sanctions against north KoreaCubaIran and Venezuela, all of which also face constant military provocations and threats of open military assault … to name but a few.

Wage-slavery in capitalist countries

Many would like to think of slavery as an ill of the past, never to be repeated. However, as we have seen, not only does slavery exist today in its ancient historical form, it is also very much alive in the heartlands of imperialism in the modern, disguised form of wage slavery.

The development of capitalism, with the industrial revolution, the rise of factory production and the seizure of state power by the rising bourgeoisie, brought into existence a new form of slavery: wage slavery. The toilers were ‘freed’ – that is, freed from the land, freed of property; unlike the peasant they had no land from which to live but only their labour-power, their ability to work, to sell, and no fall-back plan if no buyer could be found.

Unlike the slave or serf, the new class of workers were not sold individually. The individual toiler was no longer owned by another individual, but the class of workers was effectively owned by the class of capitalists.

The working class, the exploited proletariat, must work for the capitalist class in order to live under this economic order. This is how most of the world lives today, dependent for our survival on the whims of anarchic capitalist production.

Of course, the trafficking of people with black skins was an utter abomination. But so was the way that the white traffickers and others of their class treated workers with white skins during the same period.

One has only to read such works as Friedrich Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England, or novels like Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, to know that life for many millions of ‘free’ white-skinned English workers was a living hell, and continued to be so even after slavery was officially ‘abolished’.

The issue of slavery must not be used as a ploy to set black and white workers against one other, but, on the contrary, to strengthen their mutual solidarity against all forms of modern slavery – including and especially wage slavery.

Only socialism can abolish the exploitation, and hence the enslavement, of man by man. It does this by making the working class the collective owners of the means of production, which are used to meet the workers’ needs.

Today, although its reign is faltering, imperialism continues to run rampant across the globe and to heap untold misery upon the world’s people. Workers, rather than resting satisfied with the symbolic destruction of statues of long-dead exploiters, or being fooled into fighting along racial lines, will surely learn to direct their rage against the present-day masterminds of global terrorism and piracy – the ruling capitalist-imperialist class.

And once the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, workers will be free to set about building a world that serves the interests of the many, not the few, consigning capitalism to the dustbin of history – statues and all.:

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Long Live All Arabs, Including Palestinians, In Their Own Free Arab Countries

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Rima Najjar

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A political cartoon by Mohammad Saba’aneh drawn while he was in Israeli prison (arrested in March 2013) and completed after his release.

Edy Cohen, who describes himself on Twitter in both Arabic and Hebrew as “an Israeli journalist and academic doctor and researcher,” recently initiated a trolling campaign against award-winning Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh based on the latter’s cartoon of Mohammad Bin Zayed as a toilet paper roll. On Facebook, Edy Cohen (אדי כהן) describes himself as “Chief executive officer at Bar-Ilan University International School.”

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Edy Cohen on Twitter inciting against Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh

Edy Cohen retweeted Sabaaneh’s cartoon of the ruler of UAE as a toilet paper roll precisely in order to kindle fires of hateful and frenzied insults in response to the cartoonist’s depiction. Here is my translation of Cohen’s comment, which he wrote in Arabic:

A Palestinian cartoonist abuses and curses Gulf rulers. These cartoonists are scared to draw Netanyahu, because he could deny their entry to Israel. This, notwithstanding that the biggest Palestinian community [in exile] in the world is to be found in Saudi Arabia and then in the Emirates. How weird you are Palestinians [to bite the hand that feeds you].

This attempt at divisiveness is Cohen’s reaction, not so much to the cartoon alone, but to the overwhelming revulsion among the Arab populace to the announcement of the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates(UAE) and Israel.

In opposition to the announcement to formalize the normalization that has been ongoing unofficially for decades, many Palestinian and Arab writers have boycotted the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Booker), which is funded by the Emirati government, as well as the “Sheikh Zayed Book Award,” the “Etisalat” prize for children’s books, book fairs in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and literary and artistic events of all kinds in the UAE.

Outside Twitter and the machinations by Israeli “journalists” like Cohen, the sentiments against the move by the ruler of UAE are strong, including in the UAE itself — see ‘“Silent majority” rejects Gulf ties with Israel.’

“The Arab nations are in a free fall, everywhere, and Israel is the most proximate, but not only, cause.”

In an article in the Arabic language Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam titled “Arab and Palestinian intellectuals raise the slogan ‘No to normalization,’” Youssef Al-Shayeb notes that “the intellectuals of the Sultanate of Oman were the first to initiate the opposition to normalization.”

They were followed by a flood of statements and announcements by writers and artists across the Arab world in Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

Al-Shayeb’s report begins by focusing on one response that stands out, the position of Emirati novelist Dhabiya Khamis. Al-Shayeb quotes some of her remarks on Facebook (my translation):

.. As a writer and Emirati Arab citizen, I hate Israel and Zionism, just as the Jews hate Hitler, Nazism, Italians, Mussolini, fascism, Spaniards, Franco, and dictatorship, and I do not see a difference in the racism between Zionism and Nazism, and they are all against humanity!

… Every cause and affiliation is history, memory, language and culture, and if these are absent, affiliation is absent, and a person can become completely identical to his enemy without being defeated in wars, because he will fight the enemy’s war against himself.

… Many statements are coming out by authors to boycott newspapers, platforms and Emirati cultural awards as a reaction to the announced Israeli-Emirati agreement. Well, does this mean that you will not write in our newspapers, will not accept institutional awards, and will not attend Sharjah and Abu Dhabi book fairs? This is a great disappointment and self-defeat for Arab culture, not the [ultimate] solution [Khamis herself is boycotting the Booker Prize], just as insulting the Emirates, its land and its people is not the solution for our situation today, and for what our reality has become. In response [to rage against the UAE] you will kindle the fires of hateful and frenzied insults. The Arab nations are in a free fall, everywhere, and Israel is the most proximate but not only cause. I invite intellectuals to analyze and be clairvoyant, to connect facts from the Gulf to the ocean. Long live the UAE as a free and Arab country.

Mohammad Sabaaneh responded to Cohen’s incitement against the cartoon on his own Facebook page with: “One feels as though Edy Cohen represents public opinion in the Gulf … He incites against one of my cartoons and so begins on Twitter a trolling campaign on my page. Anyone interested in attending the wedding [the trolling exercise], click on

“بتشعر انو ايدي كوهين بيشكل الراي العام في الخليج .. بيحرض على احد اعمالي فتبدأ حملة شتائم و سب على صفحتي على التويتر .. الي حابب يحضر العرس على الرابط”

Mohammad Sabaaneh, like so many other Palestinian men of his age, has already had one stint in Israeli jail. As Cohen points out, he does not depict the image of Netanyahu in his political cartoons (he puts in an amorphous figure in army garb as a stand-in) because of possible repercussions to him in Palestine. He also faces censorship for political reasons by the Palestinian Authority.

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Cartoon by Mohammad Sabaaneh commenting on normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel

This particular cartoon is not one of Sabaaneh’s “dangerous cartoons.” It has shock value simply because, unlike American audiences with Trump cartoons, Arab audiences are not used to seeing their rulers portrayed visually so harshly.

Long live the UAE as a free and Arab country.”

Cohen’s attempt on Twitter to engineer public opinion and to make it seem as though Sabaaneh is being critical of the Emirati people rather than their government paid off, as it was meant to do, as Sabaaneh continues to post about the flood of invective he is getting as a result of Cohen’s and similar other incitement against him.

Following are a few representative responses on the Twitter link Sabaaneh provided in his response to Cohen (my translation):

One is from an Abu Dhabian ماجد الهاملي, whose Twitter logo is, “It is useless to convince those whose intellect is based on ignorance ..!”

You are depraved.. he [bin Zayed] is the crown decorating our heads, may God protect him.

Mohammad @Almuaini_M of Al-Shariqa says:

For years we have been helping them and hosting them, and in the end we got from them nothing but insults to us and our symbols .. O people of the Gulf, we are good at heart with them, and by God, they do not deserve it.

The Saudi hmod @hmod1h tweets:

Muhammad Al-Falasteezi, I have a visa for you to work in the UAE as my partner, with two thousand dollars. You have a day to respond if you don’t [respond in time] there are many like you mercenaries and sellers of homelands.

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Poster says: From the steadfast people of Palestine to our brothers the Emirates people, together let’s stop the conspiracy.
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Political cartoonists are not diplomats. The metaphor of flushing waste down the toilet closely expresses the rage against this ruler, who is widely perceived as a traitor to the Palestinian cause. Mohammad Sabaaneh, like the Emirati novelist Dhabiya Khamis, who has also faced intimidation for her work, is inviting us to connect the dots and call for a free and Arab Palestine. He is not insulting the Emirati people any more than a critical or crude Trump cartoon is meant to insult the American people.

It’s a fact that most of the Arab populace is on the side of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and self-determination, not against it; they do not approve of the sabotage or liquidation (تصفية) of the cause. Furthermore, as Palestinian historian Nur Masalha wrote on Facebook:

It is important to understand that the international solidarity movement with the Palestinians is a “movement from the bottom up”; it begins with the solidarity of peoples around the world (not the regimes) with the Palestinians. The same principle must be applied to the solidarity of the Arab peoples with the Palestinians. We welcome any state that supports the Palestinians – But our struggle in Palestine is a “people’s struggle” and we have to ask “all peoples” to support us.

Long live all Arabs in their own free Arab countries — including Palestinians.

Note: White and Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine, published by Just World Books, offers a rare opportunity for English-language readers to become familiar with Sabaaneh’s stark black and white images, printed in newspapers across the Arab world.

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How the Nazi regime wages war on Palestinian history ?

How Israel wages war on Palestinian history

Israeli demolition
By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

When the Palestinian actor Muhammad Bakri made a documentary about Jenin in 2002 – filming immediately after the Israeli army had completed rampaging through the West Bank city, leaving death and destruction in its wake – he chose an unusual narrator for the opening scene: a mute Palestinian youth.

Denied a voice

Jenin had been sealed off from the world for nearly three weeks as the Israeli army razed the neighbouring refugee camp and terrorised its population.

Bakri’s film Jenin, Jenin shows the young man hurrying silently between wrecked buildings, using his nervous body to illustrate where Israeli soldiers shot Palestinians and where bulldozers collapsed homes, sometimes on their inhabitants.

It was not hard to infer Bakri’s larger meaning: when it comes to their own story, Palestinians are denied a voice. They are silent witnesses to their own and their people’s suffering and abuse.

The irony is that Bakri has faced just such a fate himself since Jenin, Jenin was released 18 years ago. Today, little is remembered of his film, or the shocking crimes it recorded, except for the endless legal battles to keep it off screens.

Bakri has been tied up in Israel’s courts ever since, accused of defaming the soldiers who carried out the attack. He has paid a high personal price. Deaths threats, loss of work and endless legal bills that have near-bankrupted him. A verdict in the latest suit against him – this time backed by the Israeli attorney-general – is expected in the next few weeks.

Bakri is a particularly prominent victim of Israel’s long-running war on Palestinian history. But there are innumerable other examples.

Ethnic cleansing by firing zones

For decades many hundreds of Palestinian residents in the southern West Bank have been fighting their expulsion as Israeli officials characterise them as “squatters”. According to Israel, the Palestinians are nomads who recklessly built homes on land they seized inside an army firing zone.

The villagers’ counter-claims were ignored until the truth was unearthed recently in Israel’s archives.

These Palestinian communities are, in fact, marked on maps predating Israel. Official Israeli documents presented in court last month show that Ariel Sharon, a general-turned-politician, devised a policy of establishing firing zones in the occupied territories to justify mass evictions of Palestinians like these communities in the Hebron Hills.

The residents are fortunate that their claims have been officially verified, even if they still depend on uncertain justice from an Israeli occupiers’ court.

Redacting history 

Israel’s archives are being hurriedly sealed up precisely to prevent any danger that records might confirm long-sidelined and discounted Palestinian history.

Last month Israel’s state comptroller, a watchdog body, revealed that more than one million archived documents were still inaccessible, even though they had passed their declassification date. Nonetheless, some have slipped through the net.

The archives have, for example, confirmed some of the large-scale massacres of Palestinian civilians carried out in 1948 – the year Israel was established by dispossessing Palestinians of their homeland.

… Israel obscured its role in the ethnic cleansing of 1948 by inventing a cover story that it was Arab leaders who commanded Palestinians to leave.

In one such massacre at Dawaymeh, near where Palestinians are today fighting against their expulsion from the firing zone, hundreds were executed, even as they offered no resistance, to encourage the wider population to flee.

Other files have corroborated Palestinian claims that Israel destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages during a wave of mass expulsions that same year to dissuade the refugees from trying to return.

Official documents have disproved, too, Israel’s claim that it pleaded with the 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return home. In fact, as the archives reveal, Israel obscured its role in the ethnic cleansing of 1948 by inventing a cover story that it was Arab leaders who commanded Palestinians to leave.

The battle to eradicate Palestinian history does not just take place in the courts and archives. It begins in Israeli schools.

Falsifying geography 

A new study by Avner Ben-Amos, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, shows that Israeli pupils learn almost nothing truthful about the occupation, even though many will soon enforce it as soldiers in a supposedly “moral” army that rules over Palestinians.

Maps in geography textbooks strip out the so-called “Green Line” – the borders demarcating the occupied territories – to present a Greater Israel long desired by the settlers. History and civics classes evade all discussion of the occupation, human rights violations, the role of international law, or apartheid-like local laws that treat Palestinians differently from Jewish settlers living illegally next door.

Instead, the West Bank is known by the Biblical names of “Judea and Samaria”, and its occupation in 1967 is referred to as a “liberation”.

Google’s and Apple’s complicity

Sadly, Israel’s erasure of Palestinians and their history is echoed outside by digital behemoths such as Google and Apple.

Palestinian solidarity activists have spent years battling to get both platforms to include hundreds of Palestinian communities in the West Bank missed off their maps, under the hashtag #HeresMyVillage. Illegal Jewish settlements, meanwhile, are prioritised on these digital maps.

Another campaign, #ShowTheWall, has lobbied the tech giants to mark on their maps the path of Israel’s 700-kilometre-long steel and concrete barrier, effectively used by Israel to annex occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

And last month Palestinian groups launched yet another campaign, #GoogleMapsPalestine, demanding that the occupied territories be labelled “Palestine”, not just the West Bank and Gaza. The UN recognised the state of Palestine back in 2012, but Google and Apple refused to follow suit.

Palestinians rightly argue that these firms are replicating the kind of disappearance of Palestinians familiar from Israeli textbooks, and that they uphold “mapping segregation” that mirrors Israel’s apartheid laws in the occupied territories.

Today’s crimes of occupation – house demolitions, arrests of activists and children, violence from soldiers, and settlement expansion – are being documented by Israel, just as its earlier crimes were.

Future historians may one day unearth those papers from the Israeli archives and learn the truth. That Israeli policies were not driven, as Israel claims now, by security concerns, but by a colonial desire to destroy Palestinian society and pressure Palestinians to leave their homeland, to be replaced by Jews.

The lessons for future researchers will be no different from the lessons learnt by their predecessors, who discovered the 1948 documents.

But in truth, we do not need to wait all those years hence. We can understand what is happening to Palestinians right now – simply by refusing to conspire in their silencing. It is time to listen.

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