Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Samidoun salutes Fidel Castro’s lifetime of revolutionary struggle, from Cuba to Palestine




Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, in particular leftist prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, have already announced that they will hold commemorations inside the prisons in memory of Fidel Castro, recalling his legacy of revolutionary struggle and internationalist commitment. Samidoun joins these prisoners and the struggling peoples of the world in mourning the loss of a great struggler for liberation, saluting his historic accomplishments and those of the Cuban people, and pledging to continue on the road to victory and liberation.


***


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network -
26 November 2016

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the lifetime of struggle and revolution of Fidel Castro upon the occasion of his passing on Friday, 25 November 2016. Throughout his life, Castro was a symbol and a practitioner of revolutionary struggle for the people of Cuba, of Latin America and the world.

 
As a law student and later a lawyer himself, Fidel became a communist and an anti-imperialist, committed to struggling against the role of United States imperialism in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America, and the right-wing governments it supported and imposed. He was imprisoned as a political prisoner in Cuba for his revolutionary involvement and struggle and after his release became a co-founder of the 26th of July Movement, the organization that would build the Cuban Revolution and defeat US-sponsored dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. His speech at his trial, “History Will Absolve Me,”  defended the right to popular revolution as it affirmed defiantly, “But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”


Castro consistently upheld a strong principle and practice of internationalism, with a particular focus on building support and solidarity for the revolutionary and anti-colonial struggles of the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America, including the Palestinian people. He urged action to “put an end to the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people that is taking place while the world stares in amazement.” In 1975, Cuba co-sponsored UN Resolution 3379, affirming the racist nature of Zionism. As the Cuban position statement at the time said, the situation “left no doubt about the identical imperialist origins and racist structure of the Israeli Zionist regime that is occupying Palestine and the one that is exploiting the black masses in South Africa.”

Castro was not alone in this regard; in fact he has come to symbolize Latin American revolutionary solidarity with Palestine, that has continued through popular movements across the continent as well as the principled positions of nations like Venezuela and Bolivia, in rejecting ties with the Israeli state and defending the rights and the struggle of the Palestinian people. Of course, this solidarity was not limited to Palestine; Castro and the Cuban government he led is perhaps most renowned for its international solidarity with African people’s movements against apartheid and imperialism, and its commitment to international health care solidarity. Castro also worked to build ties with oppressed peoples and social movements within imperialist nations, including Black revolutionary movements in the United States. Throughout his life, as leader of the Cuban revolution, prime minister and then president of Cuba, and then as a continuing symbol of struggle, Castro consistently stood against capitalism and imperialism, and with the struggling people of Cuba and the world.


In 2014, Castro wrote a searing message that resonated around the world in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza, declaring that “a new and disgusting form of fascism is emerging with considerable force at this moment in human history….Why does this [Israeli] government believe that the world will be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetuated against the Palestinian people? Perhaps it is expected that the complicity of the U.S. empire in this shameful massacre will be ignored?”

Monday, November 28, 2016

FIDEL








In the days to come, Fidel will be remembered and praised among workers and youth throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. In Miami, among the same proto-fascists that helped get Trump elected, he will be mocked and vilified.

I have a number of family and friends whose revolutionary careers managed them a photo opportunity with Fidel; they hang higher than any crucifix. I also have family who “escaped” Allende’s Chile for the United States and whose Cuban friends think Castro ordered the assassination of everyone from Camilo Cienfuegos to Kennedy. One thing is for sure, Fidel will be remembered.

I consider myself fortunate to have lived for a short while in Cuba. In 1999, we arrived on the eve of a massive protest calling for the return of Elian Gonzalez. In 2002, we returned for a longer stay. We attended many more such mobilisations and we met with all sorts. I will probably never see a May Day like the one I was part of in Cuba. I have yet to meet the sort of teachers and doctors I talked with in Cuba, willing to go anywhere in the world that could do with their help.

I will never get the chance again to meet the revolutionaries I met there from the world over. Unlike Fidel, many of these will be forgotten, exiled for life, wanted by right wing governments and abandoned by history. Like Fidel, many of these revolutionaries emerged from a generation that has yet to be replicated. Like Fidel, these revolutionaries represent an anger and rebellious spirit too much of the contemporary left has abandoned. Like Fidel, they should be remembered because, as Brecht most eloquently said, “Those who are weak don’t fight. Those who are stronger might fight for an hour. Those who are stronger still might fight for many years. The strongest fight their whole life. They are the indispensable ones”.

For a global left with no living memory of socialist revolution, we would do best to remember Fidel not for the state he presided over but for the revolutionary epoch his voice echoed.

In the Americas, there is no doubt: 26 July 1953 opened the door. Everything before that date was a story of retreat, defeat and betrayal. The Soviet aligned communists of the first half of the 20th century are not remembered fondly by many living workers. These were the years when communists forgot how to make revolutions. As he did in the Second Declaration of Havana, Fidel reminded them: “The duty of every revolutionary is to make revolution. It is known that the revolution will triumph in America and throughout the world. But it is not for revolutionaries to sit in the doorways of their houses waiting for the corpse of imperialism to pass by”.

We may debate the limits and contradictions of the Cuban revolution, but the force of its example is crystal clear. It inspired a whole generation of Latin American revolutionaries to forge their own path, to believe in the power of ordinary people against the power of capital and to commit themselves in the spirit of Fidel’s cry, “socialism or death”.

Just as Che and Fidel called for two, three and many Vietnams, we could do with two, three and many Cubas; not because it’s a model of socialism, but because its people have shown it to be a model of resistance, struggle and the power of historical perspective and ideals. 

Capitalism has not proven to be the end of history, but it has proven remarkably successful at blurring historical memory. Even among us revolutionaries, impressionism too often prevails. For all their mistakes, Fidel and the Cuban revolution have never wavered from the long view of history.

This has made Cuba the living example of idealism – the dream that history has much better to offer than what it has so far delivered. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said of Fidel, “I believe he is one of the greatest idealists of our time … he has the nearly mystical conviction that the greatest achievement of the human being is the proper formation of consciousness and that moral incentives, rather than material ones, are capable of changing the world and moving history forward”.

We cannot wait for the economic corpse of capitalism to pass by; we must put our shoulders to the wheel and fight to put an end to business as usual.

Comandante Fidel, Hasta la victoria siempre!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel Castro: The Palestinian connection

Dear friends,
as no doubt many of you will have heard, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died on late on Friday night (25 November 2016) at the age of 90 years.

While no doubt many of his enemies will celebrate his passing, millions in Cuba, as well as around the world  - particularly from the Global South - will mourn his passing, due to the revolutionary solidarity the Castro and Cuba enacted for more than 50 years since the revolution.  In South Africa and Palestine, in particular, he will be remembered fondly and with much affection for the support that both he, the Cuban people and the Cuban revolution gave to struggle against South African and Israeli apartheid.

Already in Palestine, Palestinian political prisoners have announced that they will be holding memorials in remembers of Fidel, while others have taken to the streets of Ramallah to remember him. 


Over the next few days, I will post a number of articles about Castro's legacy in relation to Palestine but other struggles around the world.  Here's is Al Jazeera's article which discusses Castro's Palestine connection. 

I have also posted below it an article written by my comrade, James Crafti, back in 2009 discussing
Cuba and Venezuela's revolutionary support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian struggle.

In solidarity, Kim
***


Fidel Castro: The Palestinian connection

The deceased Cuban leader and PLO chief Yasser Arafat enjoyed close relations and shared anti-imperialist ideology.

Al Jazeera, 27 November 2016



Ramallah, West Bank - It's November 1974, and Yasser Arafat, sporting his signature Ray-Ban sunglasses and checkered black-and-white headscarf, is waving to a cheering crowd on the tarmac of Jose Marti International Airport outside Havana.

He descended from the Algerian Airlines plane that took him from New York City to the Cuban capital, where he was greeted and embraced by Fidel Castro, who was at that time prime minister and had been in power for 15 years.

Castro died late on Friday at the age of 90, according to the Cuban government.
The moment in Havana wasn't the first time the two men had met - their initial encounter happened just over a year earlier at the 4th Summit of Non-Aligned Countries in Algeria. However, it was the first time they met on Cuban soil.

Despite not being a head of state, Arafat was given a presidential welcome in Havana: Cuban Communist Party officials, ministers and others warmly welcomed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader that day.

Later on, he was awarded one of the country's highest decorations, the Orden Nacional Playa Giron, or Bay of Pigs Medal, which, according to Cuba's government radio, is "awarded to Cuban citizens or foreigners who have excelled in the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, or who have done great deeds for peace and progress of mankind".

The iconic picture of Arafat and Castro walking on the tarmac - housed at the Yasser Arafat Foundation in Ramallah - tells the tale of how an unlikely relationship between the two men, and the PLO and Cuba, were forged.

And while Cuban-Palestinian relations can be traced as far back as the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana, it was Arafat's November 1974 trip that "cemented the official Palestinian relationship with Cuba", said Hosni Abdel Wahad, the Palestinian Authority's assistant foreign minister for the Americas.

"It was during that visit that the official PLO-Cuban ties were forged and the first [PLO] representative office was opened in Havana thereafter."

Cuba recognises the PLO

It is believed that unofficial ties were made between Cuba and the Palestinians during a first-of-its-kind trip by Fidel's brother, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara to the Gaza Strip in late 1959.
Events in the 1950s set the stage for this trip: during that time, all Latin American countries, with the exception of Cuba, consistently supported the Israeli position over that of the Palestinians in international forums. 

Che Guevara, who was not Cuban but was an instrumental figure in the country's revolution, spoke in support of the Palestinians in the coastal enclave and elsewhere.
This culminated in Cuba's recognition of the PLO when it was founded in 1964, making it one of the first countries to do so.



Many of Arafat's pictures at the Yasser Arafat Foundation, which traces and commemorates the life of the late Palestinian leader, attest to a close relationship with Fidel Castro and Cuba. 

The mostly black-and-white images document a series of visits by Arafat to the Latin American country - by some accounts, as many as eight; and these are just the official ones, said Mohammad Odeh, who heads Fatah's Latin America department.

"That's a significant number considering Cuba is such a geographically distant country.
"It was, at best, a 12-hour plane ride from any European country, yet Arafat made the trip on numerous occasions. Castro always welcomed him like he was a head of state."

Mansour Tahboub, former acting director of the Arafat Foundation, said such visits were also a testament to the close historical ties.

"Cuba has always been a strong supporter of Palestinians in all realms: political, military, vocational training," Tahboub said.

"The Cubans trained Palestinian cadres, and Fidel himself was a staunch advocate of the Palestinian quest for freedom and independence."

The rare archival footage at the foundation provides a window into many milestones of Cuban-Palestinian relations, such as Arafat pictured on stage - with former Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad, in the background - condemning Egypt for signing the 1978 Camp David Accords with Israel, during the 6th Non-Aligned Summit in Havana in September 1979. 

During that time, Egypt was suspended as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement after its agreement with Israel was criticised as "an act of complicity with the continued occupation of Arab territories".

But these pictures show only a portion of the decades-long relationship between the two men. The PLO and Cuba were natural allies, as both championed what their leaders saw as a struggle against imperial and colonial powers.

Quest for independence

Indeed, Castro conflated Cuba's "strife to fight imperialism" with the Palestinian quest for independence from Israel's occupation.

"Cuba's backing of the Palestinians wasn't exceptional," explained Abdel Wahad, who studied journalism in Cuba. 

"It was part of the Cuban support system to all people struggling for freedom and fighting against colonialism."

Castro reaffirmed this belief on numerous occasions, including during an interview with the French weekly Afrique-Asie in 1977.

"The Palestinian movements have shown their ability to resist imperialist ... aggression ... [The Palestinian cause] will prevail sooner or later in spite of the betrayal by Arab reactionaries, imperialist manoeuvres and Israeli aggression." 

In almost every one of Castro's many speeches, he voiced support for the Palestinians alongside condemnations of US "imperialist plots".

Following the end of the Six-Day War, Cuba condemned Israel for the first time at the UN. And of all the Latin American countries that had PLO representative offices at the time, only Cuba and Nicaragua granted the PLO full diplomatic status.

Yet despite its close relationship with the PLO, Cuba continued to maintain relations with Israel until 1973. It was during the Non-Aligned Movement summit of that year in Algeria that Cuba announced it would break off relations with Tel Aviv. 

Several historical accounts refer to a dramatic scene unfolding at the event after Castro was reportedly convinced to cut ties with Israel.

Tales were told of an embrace between Castro and former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, and some claimed that "Arafat ran across [the hall] to embrace Fidel, and the applause lasted for minutes".

During the Non-Aligned Movement's heyday, before the end of the Cold War, Cuba also gave much-needed political support to the Palestinians in international fora, such as the UN.
Around that time, Cuba co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that equated Zionism with racism. 

Even when the UN later repealed the resolution in 1991, Cuba stood in opposition.

Quid pro quo?

Some argued that the prominence Cubans gave to the Palestinian cause was a quid pro quo for helping the Castro government secure influence among "Third World nations".

"The symbiotic relationship between the two ... enabled Castro, despite his role in Latin America and Africa as a Soviet client and surrogate, to assume a leadership position in the Third World and within the Non-Aligned Movement," wrote David J Kopilow, a former consultant for the Hudson Institute in Washington specialising in Central America.

Cuba assisted the PLO - especially left-leaning factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) - in forging ties with neighbouring states.



"The Cubans played a vital role in facilitating our interactions on the Latin American scene," said Hisham Abu Ghosh, a member of the DFLP's political bureau.

The DFLP had an especially close relationship with the Cuban regime; the party's leader Nayef Hawatmeh made dozens of trips to the island, the most recent of which was made in November 2013.

The PLO also found fertile ground in Cuba for political training and support, giving "logistical and professional guidance for Palestinian factions", according to Abdel Majeed Sweilim, professor of political science at Al Quds University.

The Latin American state also took a special interest in providing educational support to Palestinians.

"Despite Cuba's economic woes, the government would give more than 150 Palestinians annually opportunities to study medicine, engineering and other disciplines," said Odeh, who studied dentistry on the island in 1970 under a full scholarship granted by the Cuban government.

Close relations have been maintained between the Palestinians and Cuba, but "the nature of the relationship has differed", explained the PA's Abdel Wahad. "There is an official relationship with the state of Palestine."

Cuba was even consulted in the lead-up to the UN's recognition of Palestine as a "non-member observer state".

"I was in Cuba two years ago to consult with officials about the UN bid," Fatah's Odeh said.
"Not many people know this, but the Cubans had a huge role in us seeking the status of non-member observer state, and we still liaise with them on all high-level international matters."

****

Latin America's revolutionary governments support Gaza against Zionism


By James Crafti
Direct Action, Issue 8: February 2009

Bolivian President Evo Morales delivered a blow to Israel on January 16 by cutting off diplomatic ties with the Zionist state. Roberto Nelkenbaum, the Israeli consul to Bolivia, said he was “surprised and sad” that Bolivia had taken this action after the two countries shared “good diplomatic relations for more than 50 years”. Morales said he was seeking to have Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert charged with war crimes over the invasion of Gaza, although he didn’t have much faith in the UN Security Council, which he described as an “Insecurity Council”, to do anything to help the Palestinians.


Bolivia’s condemnation of Israel’s attacks on Gaza is a further strengthening of the “axis of good” that has formed in Latin America against US imperialism. Only days before Bolivia cut ties with Israel, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s revolutionary socialist government terminated its diplomatic relations with Israel. In 2006, the Chavez government expelled the Israeli ambassador and recalled its own from Tel Aviv in response to Israel’s war against Lebanon. Socialist Cuba, a longstanding opponent of Zionism, has not had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1973.

Middle East Online reported on January 12 that “Venezuelan flags and portraits of President Hugo Chavez have been flying high during protests in the West Bank against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip … Chavez on Saturday accused Israel of being the ‘murder arm’ of the United States … Mohammed al-Lahham, an MP for the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said Chavez was ‘a symbol of the struggle for liberty, like Che Guevara. This distinguishes him from the world’s other presidents’. His opposition to Washington, Israel’s loyal ally, over the invasion of Iraq and to the Israeli offensive against Lebanon in 2006 have made Chavez a symbol for all peoples who ‘are resisting and fighting against occupation’, he said. Venezuelan flags and portraits of Chavez could be seen lofted by demonstrators in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron during rallies last week.

“Al-Jazeera television ran an interview with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in which he slammed ‘the criminals who govern Israel’ and who have ‘carried out a holocaust against Palestinians for 60 years’.”

The mayor of Al-Masar, a village near Bethlehem told Middle East Online: “I would like to be able to give Chavez a Palestinian passport so he could become a Palestinian citizen. Then we would elect him and he would become our president.” This statement reflects both Palestinian support for Venezuela’s actions and dissatisfaction with the current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has collaborated with Israel in its war against Gaza.

Non-Aligned Movement

In addition to its own example of diplomatically isolating apartheid Israel, Cuba has also been organising against the Zionist state through the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which represents 118 countries. Abelardo Moreno, Cuba’s representative to the UN and current chairperson of the NAM, addressed the UN Security Council on November 7, saying: “NAM strongly condemns the escalation of the military aggression being carried out by Israel, the occupying power, in the Gaza Strip. NAM is gravely concerned by and condemns in particular the launching of the Israeli ground invasion in Gaza in flagrant defiance of the calls by the international community for a cessation of military activities and of the regional and international diplomatic efforts under way to resolve the current crisis.”

Cuba and Venezuela have also been strong in their provision of aid to Gaza. Venezuela committed at least 92.5 tonnes of aid to Gaza as immediate assistance. Cuba’s aid has also been noted, the Palestinian ambassador to Cuba, Mohammed Samhan, commenting: “International support of Palestine is growing, particularly in relation to humanitarian assistance. Cuba, which has historically offered its solidarity, has purchased medications for our people, despite the fact that the Caribbean nation is still recovering from the damage inflicted by three hurricanes.”

It is this internationalist solidarity that has truly set Cuba and, more recently, Venezuela apart from other countries. Venezuela’s relationship with Israel has been icy since 2005, when, due to pressure from Washington, Israel refused to conduct maintenance on Venezuela’s F-16 jet fighters, something it was contracted to do by the previous Venezuelan government. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Venezuela provided 20,000 tonnes of aid to Lebanon. Further, Venezuela stopped issuing tourist visas to Israelis.

Since then, Chavez has been an outspoken opponent of the Zionist state. He has frequently compared Israel to Colombia, describing the Colombian regime as having “turned into the Israel of Latin America”. Chavez has made the link between these two regimes, both heavily funded by the US government. Both Israel and Colombia’s right-wing government have frequently carried out military attacks on their neighbours under the pretext of combating “terrorism”. 

After a February-March 2008 Israeli military assault on Gaza, which killed 90 people in four days, Chavez slammed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for saying that Israel was acting on its “legitimate right to defence”. Chavez pointed out that the same excuse was used by Colombia to invade Ecuadorian territory: “Colombia did not violate sovereignty; rather it acted on the principle of ‘legitimate defence’. This is the same as what Israel says. Israel and Colombia say this because this is the order of Washington. What is more serious is when the secretary-general of the United Nations says he ‘recognises the right of Israel to defend itself’ but only condemns as ‘disproportionate and excessive use of force’ that which has killed and injured so many civilians, including children. Isn’t this terrorism, Mr Ki-moon? You see how cynicism prevails in the world!”

Four decades of Cuban solidarity

In the early 1960s both Che Guevara and Fidel Castro visited Gaza (then ruled over by Egypt) and expressed their support for the Palestinians’ right to national self-determination. Cuba welcomed the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, making official contact with it in 1965.
Addressing the first congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1975, Castro declared that PLO leader “Yasser Arafat is a man we deeply love and admire and to whom we have always shown our solidarity”. Castro also declared that “the starting point of Cuba’s foreign policy ... is the subordination of Cuban positions to the needs of the struggle for socialism and for the national liberation of peoples.”

In 1975 Cuba was one of 25 countries that sponsored UN General Assembly resolution 3379 which condemned Zionism as a form of racism. Cuba was the only Latin American country to sponsor the resolution, which was passed 72-35 with 32 abstentions, but was overturned in 1991 with 111 in favour, 25 against and 13 abstentions. While many of the countries that supported the 1975 motion abandoned the Palestinian cause and changed their vote in 1991, Cuba remained committed to supporting the Palestinian national liberation struggle. 

By 1978, Cuban military advisers were providing instruction to Palestinian resistance fighters at PLO camps in southern Lebanon. In the 1980s the Cuban embassy in Beirut served as the operational headquarters for the exiled Arafat and the PLO.

While Cuba has been limited in the material assistance it can provide to Palestine since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it continues to publicly support the Palestinian cause, having spoken out repeatedly against Zionist actions like the construction of the apartheid wall. At a 2005 international women’s conference in Venezuela, Liia Ishehai from the International Democratic Federation of Women of Palestine said: “Cuba is one of the few nations in the world that offers itself up in solidarity with Palestine. Every year, thousands of Palestinian students receive scholarships to study in Cuba … A better world is possible if we all work together in solidarity. One of the heart-warming gestures of solidarity that Palestine has received took place here in Venezuela, in the Teresa Careno Theatre, on April 13, when everyone rose and in one voice affirmed that Palestine will prevail.”

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Suddenly It’s Okay to Be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic


Dear friends,
no doubt you will be aware that Donald Trump is now the President-Elect of America. Over the past week or two we have seen citizens from across the USA take to the streets to protest against Trump's elections promises. Although he may walk back some of the promises, others he will continue to seek to implement in some form or another.  

Trump has further shocked many with his appointment of Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist/Advisor in the White House. Bannon, who came on board as his chief political advisor in the last few months of his campaign, is a champion of the hard right. Bannon is a hard right warrior and white nationalist who aims to actively "wants to destroy the Left", as the The Altantic noted in their article on him when he was appointed to Trump's campaign staff. Bannon up until recently served as the editor of the hard right news outlet, Breitbart News, which Bannon has bragged is "the platform for the alt-right".

The "alt-right" for those who may not be aware, is a name coined by white supremacist Richard Spencer in order to rebrand the various assortment of white supremacists, fascists, KKK members, anti-semites, Islamophobes and other racists that he pals around with. Bannon's appointment has been widely celebrated by not only Spencer but other  fascists, white supremacists, KKK members (both present day and former) an assorted racists, as a victory for their politics.

Bannon, like Breitbart, is a strong supporter of Israel. He is also been widely accused of being an anti-semite. In the past week or two we have seen the spectacle of Alan Dershowitz cautioning people that "we have to be very careful before we accuse any particular individual of being an anti-Semite ... And I think one has be be very careful about using the term anti-Semtic", along with AIPAC and other key US Zionist organisations actively avoiding condemning Bannon's appointment, Bannon or Trump. Both Dershowitzs and these same Zionist organisations have for years actively and wantonly sought to label pro-Palestine activism, particular BDS activism and activists, as anti-semitic (see: in particular Mondoweiss's rejoinder regarding Dershowitz's hypocrisy)

As a result, there have been numerous articles in both the Zionist and non-Zionist media over the last two weeks discussing whether it was possible to be both pro-Israel and anti-semitic. While this may seem to be a contradiction, it isn't. Since it's inception, Zionism has had a very distorted relationship with anti-semites with Herzl actively courting them in order to achieve his goal of a Jewish state.

I have included below Tel Aviv based writer, Naomi Zevelof's article which appeared in the Jewish online magazine, Foward, which is pro-Zionist/pro-Israel publication.  In addition, I have also included veteran Israeli reporter, Gideon Levy calling out they hypocrisy Zionists and Israel's apologists.

In solidarity, Kim 

***

How Steve Bannon and Breitbart News Can Be Pro-Israel — and Anti-Semitic at the Same Time


Breitbart News, the site chaired by Donald Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, is widely known as a platform for white nationalism and anti-Semitism. It is also brazenly Zionist, albeit peddling an exclusively right wing perspective on Israel.

Trump’s Jewish supporters have pointed to Breitbart’s Zionist stance to defend the president-elect’s choice of Bannon, who was painted as an anti-Semite by his ex-wife in court documents. Bannon denied making the anti-Semitic comments.

“He was and is and remains staunchly pro-Israel,” said Abe Katsman, the chief counsel for Republicans Overseas Israel, who has written for Breitbart News.

Yet though it would seem impossible to hate Jews but love the Jewish state, these two viewpoints are not as contradictory as they appear.
There is actually “little correlation” between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, according Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. To be sure, anti-Semitism is found among the anti-Zionist left. But it is also found among the Zionist right.

“Many people who dislike Jews like Israel and many people who are critical toward Israel are affectionate toward Jews,” said Cohen.

Breitbart News isn’t the only place where anti-Semitism and Zionism go hand in hand. Anti-Semitic attitudes abound in Poland, for example, even as Poland has a strong diplomatic relationship with Israel.

This duality is a central component of “Trumpism,” said Yael Sternhell, a Tel Aviv University professor of history and American studies. Though Trump has flip-flopped on the Middle East, he has professed an ultra-right view of Israel that would seem to outflank even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also has a Jewish son-in-law, and a daughter who converted to Judaism. At the same time, many of Trump’s followers spout anti-Semitism.
“As long as Jews are in Israel fighting the ‘good fight’ with the Arab world as a bastion of American ideals and values in the Middle East, then they are very useful and admirable allies,” said Sternhell. “Once they are home demanding a multi-cultural democracy, demanding that the country accommodate their religion, their belief and their custom that is a different story.”

Some on the alt-right, the emerging group of racist activists who support Trump, oppose the close U.S.-Israel relationship as part of a broader critique of U.S. interventionism abroad. Yet they admire Israel as a “model for white nationalism and/or Christianism,” according to the right-wing online encyclopedia Conservapedia. Some also see Jewish immigration to Israel as helping their cause of a Jew-free white America.

The coexistence of anti-Semitism and right-Wing Zionism “in Trump’s world make sense,” said Todd Gitlin, the Columbia University sociologist and cultural commentator in an email to the Forward.

“Anti-Semitism and right-wing Zionism are varieties of ultra nationalism, or, to put it more pejoratively (as it deserves to be put) tribalism. They both presume that the embattled righteous ones need to bristle at, wall off, and punish the damned outsiders. They hate and fear cosmopolitan mixtures. They make a fetish of purity. They have the same soul. They rhyme.”

Breitbart News, which became a mouthpiece for the Trump campaign, was actually started by a Jewish lawyer and businessman, Larry Solov. In addition to reporters in London and the United States, the site has a small Jerusalem bureau, which is helmed by journalist Aaron Klein. Attempts to reach Klein and two journalists who write for Breitbart Jerusalem were unsuccessful.

In a 2015 post announcing the opening of the Jerusalem bureau, Solov wrote that Breitbart News itself was conceived of in Israel, when Solov traveled to the Holy Land with Andrew Breitbart, now deceased.

“One thing we specifically discussed that night was our desire to start a site that would be unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel. We were sick of the anti- Israel bias of the mainstream media and J-Street,” he wrote.

At the same time, the site trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes. One article called Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum a “political revisionist,” noting “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” Another called The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.”

Bannon’s ex-wife branded him as an anti-Semite in 2007 court documents, in which she describes Bannon complaining about “whiny brat” Jews at their daughters’ school, according to the New York Daily News. Bannon denied that he made the comments, through a spokeswoman.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @naomizeveloff
The Forward's independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.
***


When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists.

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Nov 21, 2016
An anti-Trump sign at the Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, November 16, 2016Phil Sears / Reuters
 
All of a sudden it’s not so terrible to be anti-Semitic. Suddenly it’s excusable as long as you hate Muslims and Arabs and “love Israel.” The Jewish and Israeli right has issued a sweeping amnesty to anti-Semitic lovers of Israel – yes, there is such a thing, and they’re en route to taking power in the United States.

So now we know: Not just pornography but also anti-Semitism is a matter of geography and price. Right-wing American anti-Semites are no longer considered anti-Semites.

The definition has been updated: From now on, anti-Semites are only found on the left. Roger Waters, a courageous man of conscience without stain, is an anti-Semite. Steve Bannon, a declared racist and closet anti-Semite who has been appointed chief strategist in the Trump White House, is a friend of Israel.

Jewish and Israeli activists who left no stone unturned in their effort to discover signs of anti-Semitism, who viewed every parking ticket for an American Jew as an act of hate, who moved heaven and earth every time a Jew was robbed or a Jewish gravestone was cracked, are now whitewashing an anti-Semite. Suddenly they’re not convinced we’re talking about that particular disease.

Alan Dershowitz, one of the biggest propagandists in this field, has already come out in defense of the racist Bannon. In a Haaretz piece late last week, Dershowitz wrote that the man whose wife said he didn’t want their children to go to school with Jews isn’t anti-Semitic. “The claim was simply made by his former wife in a judicial proceeding, thus giving it no special weight,” Dershowitz wrote, with specious logic.

After all, Dershowitz’s former research assistant, an Orthodox Jew who later worked with Bannon, assured him that he had seen no signs of anti-Semitism in Bannon. And suddenly that’s enough for Dershowitz. Suddenly it’s possible to separate racism from anti-Semitism.

Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, naturally hastened to join the party. Over the weekend, he said he expects to work with Bannon. And boy, does he expect to work with that racist. After all, they’ll agree about everything: that there’s no Palestinian people, that there’s no occupation, that the settlement of Yitzhar should remain forever, that leftists are traitors.

For Dermer – ambassador of the illegal outpost of Amona, friend of the Tea Party and boycotter of J Street; a man who if the bilateral relationship had been normal would have been declared persona non grata by the United States – the new appointments are like the dawn of a new day.

He’ll feel so at home with Frank Gaffney, another hater of Muslims who’s likely to receive a senior appointment in the new administration; he’ll be so happy working with Bannon. And Mike Huckabee is exactly his cup of tea. Dermer, after all, was given the Freedom Flame Award by the Center for Security Policy, a hate group that proudly flies the flag of Islamophobia.

These racists and their ilk are Israel’s best friends in the United States. They’re joined by the racists of the European right. If you discount the guilt feelings over the Holocaust, they’re the only friends Israel has left. When friendship for Israel is judged solely on the basis of support for the occupation, Israel has no friends other than racists and nationalists. That ought to have aroused great shame here: Tell us who your friends are and we’ll tell you who you are.

These racists love Israel because it’s carrying out their dreams: to oppress Arabs, to abuse Muslims, to dispossess them, expel them, kill them, demolish their houses, trample their honor. This bunch of trash would so dearly love to behave as we do.

But for now this is only possible in Israel, so it’s the light unto the nations in this field. What happened to the days when Jews in South Africa went to prison with Nelson Mandela? Nowadays Jewish activists in America support the new rulers – the racists and anti-Semites.

The Palestinian-American author Susan Abulhawa wrote on Facebook over the weekend: Palestinians are calling white nationalist Bannon an anti-Semite, while AIPAC and Dershowitz think he’s not such a bad guy. What more proof do you need that Zionism is a face of white supremacy, and ultimately antithetical to Judaism?

Last summer, Abulhawa was deported via the Allenby Bridge. And she’s right. The United States and Israel now share the same values – and woe to that sense of shame.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Israel No Model for Aboriginal People - A response to Stan Grant.

Dear friends,
I have been snowed under with work and study, so apologies for posting this a little late. Please find below my article published last month by Red Flag. This article deals with the issue of whether Israel should be held up as a model when it comes to the struggle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

The article was prompted by Australia's public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in September treating us us to the spectacle of Andrew Bolt, a man widely known for his racially discriminatory commentary on Aboriginal issues, discussing whether or not Indigenous Australians should be recognised in Australia's Constitution.The program Recognition: Yes or No?, which screened on 20 September saw Bolt, along with Aboriginal Federal Labour MP Linda Burney, meeting with a range of politicians and community members to debate the issue. 

Among those to appear on the show was Aboriginal journalist, Stan Grant. While attempting to rebutt Bolt's dismissal of Aboriginal identity, Grant decided to illustrate his comment about the resilience of Aboriginal identity in the aftermath of European colonisation by citing Israel as an example of a united, cohesive and equal society, saying: "I have been to Israel and I have seen the sense of Jewish belonging whether you are an Ethiopian Jew or a Russian Jew or an American Jew, with a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship." Grant concluded that in a hundred years, despite other influences, Aboriginal identity would remain strong and viable.

While Grant is right about Aboriginal Identity, he is wrong about Israel. I have also included after my article, another article which appeared in the Fairfax Press in response to Grant's comments by Palestinian writer, Inais Iqtait.

In solidarity, Kim

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Israel no model for Aboriginal people
Stan Grant speaking at a Recognise meeting in Cootamandra NSW earlier this year PHOTO: Adam Yip

Aboriginal journalist Stan Grant told the ABC’s Recognition: Yes or No? program on 20 September: “I have been to Israel and I have seen the sense of Jewish belonging, whether you are an Ethiopian Jew or a Russian Jew or an American Jew, with a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship”

Grant was attempting to highlight the resilience of Aboriginal identity in the aftermath of European colonisation. But this praise for Israel shockingly ignored the Palestinian people and the fact that, like Australia, Israel is a settler colonial society in which the indigenous population has endured invasion, colonisation and dispossession.

Israel, far from being a society that embraces all ethnicities, is an apartheid state.

It isn’t as if Grant isn’t aware of this, having reported on the Palestine-Israel conflict at different times during his career. And it isn’t as if he doesn’t understand what settler colonialism entails. In October last year, he eloquently spoke about the impact of settler colonialism on Aboriginal Australia, noting: “The Australian Dream is rooted in racism. It is the very foundation of the dream. It was there at the birth of the nation. It is there in terra nullius. An empty land. A land for the taking”.

The history of Israel is no different, its establishment being rooted in the racist dispossession of the Palestinian Arab population. Like Australia, Palestine was also deemed an “empty land” by the Zionists who founded Israel, proclaiming it to be “a land without people, for a people without land”.

The similarities between Australia and Israel should come as no surprise. Settler colonial societies are a distinct type of imperialist formation, which are premised on the racist elimination of the indigenous population through various means, including ethnic cleansing, genocide and/or assimilation.

All settler colonial states are characterised by massive inequalities that often are codified in law and built structurally into the economic, social and political system, ensuring that the settler population is legally, socially and politically privileged over the indigenous population.
 
In Australia, Indigenous people continue to be the most disadvantaged group in the country, including in health, education and employment. Indigenous people also have the highest rates of incarceration, making up one-quarter of the prison population, despite being less than 3 percent of the total population.

Palestinians similarly face structural racism, oppression and disadvantage. Four million Palestinians currently live under Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Five million live in exile due to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.

In addition, 1.5 million Palestinians living inside Israel, despite being citizens, face daily discrimination and apartheid. According to Adalah – the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – more than 50 discriminatory laws have been enacted since 1948 in relation to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, criminal procedures, employment, property and family matters, such as marriage and family reunification.

Grant’s whitewashing of Israeli apartheid, while shocking, is unsurprising. While he has often been an eloquent advocate for Aboriginal people, Grant has also promoted himself as a diplomat and pragmatist who seeks “equilibrium and balance” so that Australia can “come together”.

In doing so, he has repeatedly tried to find some sort of mythical common ground between Aboriginal people and their oppressors. Such diplomacy does not eradicate racism. It gives it comfort.

Similarly, by holding Israel up as a beacon of cohesion and inclusivity, Grant is giving comfort to an apartheid regime, deliberately whitewashing its settler colonial history and disappearing the Palestinians.

Rather than Indigenous people lauding Israel, as Grant wants us to do, we need to recognise that the Palestinian people’s history is our history and vice versa. By standing in solidarity with the Palestinians and recognising our commonalities, we will not only strengthen both our struggles. We will also take both our people one step closer to winning justice, human rights and self-determination.

Kim Bullimore is a Murri activist. She has been active in the struggle for Aboriginal rights for over two decades and has been active in the Palestine solidarity movement for more than 15 years, including living and working in the occupied Palestinian territories

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For God's sake, give Palestinians a fair go

During Tuesday night's ABC show Recognition: Yes or No? Stan Grant weighed in on his Aboriginal identity after 200 years of European settlement, citing Israel as an example Australia could follow for its cohesion and equal society. Israel, being itself a European settlement, was absolutely the last example expected for supporting the rights of Aboriginals' recognition in Australia.

He said: "I have been to Israel and I have seen the sense of Jewish belonging whether you are an Ethiopian Jew or a Russian Jew or an American Jew, with a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship."

 Palestinian youths in Bethlehem list the names of the children killed in Israel's Operation Protective Edge military assault on the Gaza Strip in July 2014. Photo: AFP
 
Grant astonishingly fails to mention my people, the Palestinian people, who have resided under Israeli occupation or tutelage since (similar to Australia) mainly Europeans established a state on their lands 68 years ago. The use of Israel as an example for a place where "a whole range of ethnicities and everything else around it that coalesce around a sense of belonging and kinship" is flawed and simply unfactual.

In the words of former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or, Palestinians in Israel face a structural and systematic discrimination with the Israeli state not doing "enough to grant equality" for its Arab citizens. We haven't even mentioned the 4 million Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza for 49 years ongoing, or the other 4 million Palestinian refugees who were displaced in 1948.

Palestinians have lived under constant colonisation, dispossession and suffering from an illegal occupation that erodes their human, economic, and existential rights. Some 225,000 children in Gaza today require psychosocial support due to the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza in 2014; over 48,488 Palestinian structures have been demolished; and over 800,000 trees have been uprooted in the West Bank and Gaza. Is this a model Australia wants to replicate?

In an earlier speech Grant delivered at the IQ2 Racism Debate last year he called for Australians to acknowledge the two centuries of "dispossession, injustice and suffering". I find this statement to be strikingly similar to the Palestinians' plight for recognition, equality, justice, and statehood.

Suffice to say I find the irony in yesterday's comments painfully obvious. My 19-year-old sister, a future architecture engineer, was complaining to me yesterday about a 45-minute wait at an Israeli military checkpoint to her university in Ramallah. The military was chocking morning Palestinian traffic to let Israeli settlers reach Jerusalem without delay, with no regards to the native population of the West Bank and their livelihoods. This system, that increasingly resembles an apartheid, has to be internationally condemned and de-structured, not subtly praised.

Palestinians have been under a constant wave of colonisation, eroding their existence from the land they have proudly resided for thousands of years. Just like Grant is rightly proud of his ancestry that might run tens of thousands of years deep, I, too, am proud of my ancestry in Palestine. We both have suffered colonisation, marginalisation, and discrimination – most Palestinians still do – and we all ought to stand for equality and justice for their cause.

Anas Iqtait is a research Scholar at the Australian National University.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Haaretz: Secret Documents Reveal How Israel Tried to Evade International Scrutiny of Occupation

Dear friends,
the following article published recently by Haaretz discusses how Israel's deliberate violation of the Geneva convention and its attempt to deny that they have violated them and attempted to ensure that they were applied by denying that they are carrying out an illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza - something which Israel continues to do today.  These documents reveal that the Israeli military and government were well aware that they were violating international law and sought to evade being held accountable for their actions and treatment of the Palestinian population in the territories they now controlled. 

As the Haaretz article notes: "
These documents are not merely an interesting historical record of how Israel initially related to the Geneva Conventions, nor are they merely an admission of its violation. They are also relevant to the ongoing debate today over the occupation’s legality."

This article should be read in conjunction with the previous blog I posted, which discusses how Israel attempted to conceal its building of illegal colonies in the Occupied West Bank in the wake of their seizure of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights in 1967.  You can access it by clicking here.

in solidarity, Kim 


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Secret Documents Reveal How Israel Tried to Evade International Scrutiny of Occupation

In two cables from '67 and '68, Foreign Ministry officials admit violations of Geneva Conventions, instruct diplomats how to evade need for compliance by eschewing use of the word ‘occupation.’
 
Yotam Berger Sep 20, 2016 Haaretz

Israeli troops line up prisoners in the Gaza strip in readiness for questioning and identification on June 6, 1967, during the early stages of the Arab-Israel war.AP


Two classified Foreign Ministry documents, from 1967 and from 1968, disclose how the government tried to avoid application of the Geneva Conventions to the territories immediately after they were captured and how it tried to prevent international criticism of violations of the conventions.

They also show how Israel tried to avoid granting the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the territories as mandated by the conventions.

In the documents, senior civil servants admit to various violations of the conventions, including the use of violence against the Palestinian population. They also reveal how Israel sought to avoid defining itself as an occupier in the territories, while admitting explicitly that this claim was put forth for strategic reasons, to avoid criticism, even though there was no substantive justification for it.

One document is a cable sent in March 1968 to Israel’s then-ambassador in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin, by Michael Comay and Theodor Meron. Comay, a senior diplomat whose previous posts included ambassador to the United Nations, was political advisor to then-Foreign Minister Abba Eban when the cable was written. Meron was the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor.

The cable, which was classified top-secret, contains instructions from Comay and Meron on what Rabin should do to prevent the United States from forcing Israel to apply the Geneva Conventions to the territories.

“Our consistent policy has been and still is to avoid discussing the situation in the administered territories with foreign parties on the basis of the Geneva Conventions. ... Explicit recognition on our part of the applicability of the Geneva Conventions would highlight serious problems under the convention with house demolitions, expulsions, settlement and more — and furthermore, when we’re obligated to leave all options open with regard to the issue of borders, we must not recognize that our status in the administered territories is solely that of an occupying power,” the cable said.

“In short, our policy toward the administered territories is to try to prevent clear violations of the Geneva Conventions without getting into the question of the conventions’ applicability,” the cable continued.

Comay and Meron acknowledged that the status of Jerusalem was particularly problematic, because the government had already taken steps that would likely be viewed as violations of the conventions.

“The most serious problem is of course East Jerusalem, because here, if the government were to follow the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations, it wouldn’t be able to make far-reaching administrative and legal changes, such as expropriating land,” they wrote. “The Americans recently said that our status in Jerusalem is solely that of an occupation. On this basis, we can’t even talk to them about the issue of Jerusalem, because although here, too, we’re trying to avoid actions that would have international repercussions, there’s no possibility of making all our actions in Jerusalem fit the restrictions that derive from the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations.”

The diplomats therefore instructed Rabin “to tell the Americans that there are unique aspects to the status of the territories and to our status in the territories. Before the Six-Day War, the Gaza Strip wasn’t Egyptian territory, and the West Bank, too, was territory that had been occupied and annexed by Jordan without international recognition. Given this ambiguous, indeterminate territorial situation, the question of the convention’s applicability is complex and unclear prior to a peace agreement that includes setting secure and recognized borders.”

The cable added that there is “no point in debating publicly” with the Americans. “We recommend that you don’t get into any discussion or argument over the aforementioned issues, but merely record their response and leave the clarification to the embassy, without a circular and without the participation of UN members,” it said.

Another document, classified as secret, was sent by Comay to the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general several months previously, on June 22, 1967, less than two weeks after the Six-Day War ended. In it, he advised that the ministry not use the word “occupation,” so as to avoid committing to allow the Red Cross free access to the West Bank’s civilian population.

“In light of the fact that the international Red Cross is trying to assert rights with regard to the civilian population, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions ... it’s necessary to be careful about the use of certain phrases noted in the convention; I’m referring primarily to the phrases ‘occupied territories’ and ‘occupying power,’” Comay wrote. “Our UN delegation and our legations must know that here, we’re avoiding discussions with representatives of the international Red Cross about the status of the territories.”

Comay recommended replacing the phrase “occupied territories” with “territories under Israeli control” or “territories under military government.”

These documents are not merely an interesting historical record of how Israel initially related to the Geneva Conventions, nor are they merely an admission of its violation. They are also relevant to the ongoing debate today over the occupation’s legality.

“In recent years, political actors have tried to insert a claim that wasn’t serious even back in the 1970s into the discussion — that the territories aren’t actually occupied and that their residents aren’t entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions,” said Lior Yavne, executive director of Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, a left-wing research institute that works to uncover and publicize archival material on the conflict. “The uniqueness of the cable is the rare frankness with which the authors explain the reasons for the government’s refusal to admit the convention’s applicability to the territories, which were that some of its policies in the territories simply contradict the convention’s rules, and also as a tactical step in preparation for a future diplomatic agreement,” Yavne said.