Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 1, 2014

Saudi Arabia joins the Axis of Resistance

Filed under: Palestine,Syria — louisproyect @ 6:02 pm

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Tehran, Abdul Rahman Bin Garman Al Shahri on March 3, 2014. Credit: ISNA/Hamid Forootan

Yesterday the NY Times reported on the closing of the ranks of Arab dictatorships against Hamas and the people of Gaza:

After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents.

One wonders why the Times did not mention another member of the coalition. By now it should be obvious that no leader is more committed to the war against “political Islam” than Bashar al-Assad as the Huffington Post reported on July 11, 2013:

In an interview with a state-run newspaper Thursday, Assad said “Arab identity” was back on the right track after the fall from power of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which he contends had used religion for its own political gain.

Assad’s comments to the Al-Baath newspaper, the mouthpiece of his ruling Baath party, came a week after Egypt’s military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as millions took to the streets to urge his removal. Morsi was Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Assad calls the revolt against him an international conspiracy carried out by Islamist groups such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood – a branch of the Egyptian group with the same name to which Morsi belongs.

“The Muslim Brotherhood and those who are like them take advantage of religion and use it as a mask,” Assad said. “They consider that when you don’t stand with them politically, then you are not standing with God.”

Now of course this might be a bit of a paradox for those who have long argued that a Saudi Arabia acting in cahoots with the CIA was spearheading a drive to impose “political Islam” on the Arab world and mostly in Syria as stage one in an assault on Iran and then on—who knows—Russia. This article has been published in one form or another at least a thousand times in “anti-imperialist” websites.

Yet this argument can only be made by ignoring the evidence that the USA has made it clearer than ever that it sees Bashar al-Assad as a lesser evil to any of the forces opposed to him. It also ignores the rather obvious evidence of a thaw not only between the USA and Iran, but one between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as the National Interest pointed out in a May 15, 2014 article:

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, has announced an invitation to his Iranian counterpart to visit Saudi Arabia. This development is unsurprising, and it is welcome. It follows visits that Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a few months ago to some of the other Arab members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Rapprochement between Iran and its Arab neighbors is good for the neighbors as well as for Iranians, good for stability in the Persian Gulf, and good for U.S. interests in the region.

A careful reader might wonder how the Times would characterize Saudi Arabia’s opposition to “political Islam” when there is supposedly a preponderance of evidence that it has funded jihadist groups, most especially al Qaeda. Back in January WSWS.org, the website most committed to the USA-Saudi Arabia-al Qaeda axis theory, told its readers: “The Saudi regime has responded to the US postponement of war plans against Syria by pressing for stepped-up aid to the Al Qaeda-linked Syrian opposition, while arming itself to prepare for domestic repression.”

One wonders how such simple-minded assertions can be made without at least making the effort to account for the real as opposed to fictional relationship between al Qaeda and the Saudi monarchy. In February 2006 al Qaeda organized an assault on a Saudi refinery that was thwarted by security forces. Al Qaeda issued a statement hailing the abortive attack: “With grace from God alone, hero mujahideen from the squadron of Sheikh Osama bin Laden succeeded today (Friday)…in penetrating a plant for refining oil and gas in the town of Abqaiq in the eastern part of the peninsula, and then allowed two car bombs in driven by two martyrdom seekers.” Six years later the campaign was continuing as the BBC reported:

Saudi Arabia’s continuing campaign against al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism has enjoyed considerable success. The atmosphere in the country is noticeably more relaxed than it was a few years ago when the kingdom was buffeted by several major suicide bombings.

But the arrest earlier this month of eight men accused of plotting terror attacks in Riyadh and Jeddah is proof that the campaign is not over. As one Saudi newspaper editorial put it: “Renewed vigilance is required.”

Of the eight men arrested in the latest sweep, two were Saudis and the other six were Yemenis. There seems little doubt that the terror plot was hatched in Yemen.

With respect to Saudi support for its own proxy in Syria, the Islamic Front, it is necessary to point out that there are Saudi billionaires willing to back such formations whatever the stated policy of the monarchy. When Osama bin-Laden put up his own money to back jihadists across the planet, he was not acting on orders from the regime but on his own beliefs. In fact it was the decision of the Saudi monarchy in 1990 to provide a base for American troops entering the war against Iraq that initially led to bin Laden’s breach with the royalty and to his jihadist turn.

The hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood is based on other factors since the group never posed a direct threat to the monarchy. Despite this, the monarchy had no problem amalgamating it with al Qaeda linked groups as the BBC reported in March:

Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

An interior ministry statement also classified two jihadist groups fighting with the Syrian rebels – the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – as terrorist groups.

The statement gave Saudis fighting in Syria 15 days to return.

A royal decree issued last month said any citizen found guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad faced a jail sentence.

Last month, King Abdullah decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for anyone belonging to “terrorist groups” or fighting abroad.

Who knows what an imbecile from WSWS.org would say about this? Probably that this was a “false flag” measure meant to deflect attention from the secret operation Saudi Arabia was mounting in Syria to topple al-Assad. After all, these are people who maintain that Joseph Hansen, Trotsky’s bodyguard, was a GPU agent who facilitated his assassination without any proof.

There are those on the left who would have to hail Saudi Arabia as comrades if you follow the logic of opposing “political Islam” to its insane conclusions. If the categorical imperative is to block the rise of jihadists in the Middle East and to rally around those governments most committed to that task, then naturally you would see Bashar al-Assad as an exemplar.

The constellation of forces grouped around the Baathists represent an Axis of Resistance according to Phil Greaves, a British leftist who includes among its ranks: President al-Maliki of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Russia “acting in a minimally supportive role.” Of course, those enduring Russian-supplied bombs and missiles in Homs or Aleppo might have problems with “minimally supportive” but why quibble?

Greaves sticks to the jihadists as pawns of Washington narrative like white on rice:

These actors primarily responsible for the fall of Mosul and the anticipated partition of Iraq are the de facto regional clients of dominant imperialism – ISIS are merely the shock-troop proxies that implement such policy, creating “facts on the ground” when diplomacy and old-fashioned economic coercion no longer suffice.

As is so often the case with those more interested in writing propaganda than serious political analysis, Greaves has nothing to say about the oppression of Sunnis that led to the fall of Mosul and large swaths of Iraq. In a bravura stroke of gross stupidity, Greaves denies that the Maliki government upholds “sectarian policies”. To state otherwise is to promulgate a “false concept”. This, I suppose, is the consequence of committing yourself to an analysis based on blind loyalty to a degraded “anti-imperialism” bereft of class distinctions.

This finally leads us to the question of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Unless you are open to see this movement dialectically, you are better off avoiding Middle East politics if not politics altogether. In “Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam”, Robert Dreyfuss—the Nation Magazine editor who covers the Middle East—portrays it as a CIA tool against nationalist and Communist influences in the region. Drawing from the arguments made in the book, Dreyfuss advised Mother Jones readers:

For the next five decades, the Muslim Brotherhood would serve as a battering ram against nationalists and communists. Despite the Brothers’ Islam-based anti-imperialism, the group often ended up making common cause with the colonial British. It functioned as an intelligence agency, infiltrating left-wing and nationalist groups. But it was also fiercely independent, at times clashing violently with the ruling authorities. On several occasions, Ikhwan assassins murdered top Egyptian officials, including Prime Minister Mahmoud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi in 1948.

This is the same kind of charge that has been leveled against Hamas, namely that Israel allowed its growth as a lesser evil to the PLO. I suppose if your method of judging political movements is based solely on their ties to the USA or Israel at a given moment in its history you would have to view the MB and Hamas as the enemy.

But there’s another more important dimension, namely how they relate to the masses they are accountable to. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas’s problem was that in the eyes of the Saudi monarchs, the Zionists, and the Egyptian generals they were too plebeian and too unreliable. This was a function largely of their middle-class composition. Too closely tied to “the street”, the MB was never capable of serving the interests of big capital to the degree that was necessary. Hence it had to go.

Hamas is now suffering the consequences of being insufficiently subservient to Israeli demands. As opposed to the shibboleth about Jews being driven into the sea, Hamas and the population it represents certainly faces the existential threat of being expelled from Gaza just as Palestinians as a whole were expelled from their homeland in the original nakba.

One imagines that Bashar al-Assad will rub his hands in glee as Hamas gets its just desserts. After all they had the temerity to side with the Syrian revolution until desperation forced them to adopt a posture of neutrality. In 2011 Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad said “We supported the Syrian regime as long as it was fighting the Israeli enemy but when it oppressed its people we decided to part ways with it, despite the fact that this is considered a big loss for Hamas.” That took a lot of guts.

There’s nothing that Bashar al-Assad hates more than plebeian movements such as Hamas or the MB. That is something he obviously picked up from his father who served American interests despite a patina of “anti-imperialist” rhetoric. Like father, like son. Bashar al-Assad has been punishing the Palestinians at Yarmouk for the better part of two years, imposing a siege that has left people without food, medicine and other necessities–not to speak of bombing and shelling them indiscriminately as the need arises. Hafez al-Assad developed a finely honed skill for murdering Palestinians in Lebanon as Marah al-Baqa’i reported in Middle East Monitor:

At the end of June 1976, Syrian forces aligned themselves with extreme Christian sects of the time, as they cooperated to impose a frightening siege on Tel El-Zataar, a Palestinian refugee camp. The blockade lasted two months and the camp, which was home to 20,000 Palestinians and 15,000 Lebanese, were subject to violence and collective punishment. During this time, food and other basic supplies were prohibited from entering the camp. Approximately 5,500 shells fell atop the heads of civilians and the Red Cross was strictly prohibited from entering the premises.

On the night of August 14, 1976, Hafez Al-Assad’s forces stormed the camp, which had been weakened by hunger, fear and fatigue and they committed one of the most grotesque massacres that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Palestinians who fell victim to systematic violence. These militias marched under the guise of the Syrian government. They committed unfathomable crimes such as slitting the stomachs of pregnant women, massacring children and the elderly, as well as committing sexual assaults and looting.

In one of his boldest efforts against “political Islam” that clearly served as an inspiration for his son’s scorched earth policies, Hafez al-Assad took the fight to the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982. Nearly 20 years earlier Hafez al-Assad took part in a coup that ultimately led to the formation of a family dynasty that is the longest in the Middle East. Among its measures was a banning of the Muslim Brotherhood after the fashion of its banning in Egypt last year. In an even more draconian fashion, membership was ultimately punishable by death. In a purely defensive measure, the MB organized an armed resistance and just as is occurring now, the Baathists used every means at its disposal to put it down, including mass murder.

In 1982 Syrian tanks and jets pulverized Hama, a city that had been taken over by the MB after the fashion of revolts seen in 2011 and 2012, including one in Hama once again. Al Jazeera reported on the blitzkrieg directed against Hama. One can certainly imagine the IDF and Bashar al-Assad studying it for useful ideas about how to put down similar rebellions in Gaza or Aleppo:

It was February 2, 1982, when troops, ordered by the late President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, seized the city, and bombed its centre with fighter jets, according to an Amnesty International report, enabling tanks to roll through Hama’s narrow streets, crushing an armed rebellion by an estimated 200 to 500 fighters from the Muslim Brotherhood’s military wing.

The subsequent 27-day military campaign left somewhere between 10,000 to 40,000 people killed and almost two thirds of the city destroyed, according to human rights organisations and foreign journalists who were in Syria but were not allowed to enter the city.

Almost every family in Hama, which at the time had about 250,000 inhabitants, lost a member.

“The Taleea [the Muslim Brotherhood’s military wing] had tried to resist and clashed with the government forces but was crushed in few days. The Baroudiyeh neighbourhood, where the Taleea was based, was overtaken by the army just hours after the military campaign was launched,” said Abou Tamim, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who fled to Saudi Arabia amid the 1982 crackdown.

“But the campaign continued for days and most of the dead were civilians who had nothing to do with the Brotherhood,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘Punishing Hama’

Khani’s father was one of them. An eye doctor educated in France, he was taken by security forces to a porcelain factory where his eyes were torn out of his face. He was left to die in pain, Khani said. Tens of others in the factory-turned-detention centre were killed in various ways.

Khani says if he had publicly accused the government of killing his father in the years since his death, he could have faced the same fate. He and many other residents were forced to say that Muslim Brotherhood fighters had killed their loved ones.

“Assad wanted to punish the whole of Hama. Through us, he wanted to teach all Syrians that challenging the regime would lead to this. And it worked. It worked for 30 years.”

The fear of Hama’s residents to even mention the massacre began to falter when anti-government protests erupted across the country last March.

The first protest in Hama in 2011 came out from the Omar Bin Khattab Mosque near Hama’s castle. People chanted for freedom and the fall of the regime, the first serious challenge to the Assad dynasty in decades.

That same mosque is where, Khani recalls, he and his mother and siblings took refuge, along with other families, during the first few days of the military campaign in 1982.

The mosque turned into a detention centre. Women and children were separated from their fathers, husbands and brothers. A day and a half later, a soldier shouted from behind the mosque’s gate: “Do not expect to see your men when you are out.” He was right.

And there are those who now refer to Syria as being part of the Axis of Resistance. That would only make sense if you expand the term thusly: the Axis of Resistance to Justice, Democracy and Human Rights.

A letter to the author of “The Cancer Chronicles”

Filed under: Ecology,health and fitness — louisproyect @ 1:37 pm

Dear George Johnson,

I am currently reading “Cancer Chronicles” and am really impressed by both the elegance of your writing and your erudition.

I am a film critic and am doing some background research for a review of “Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering” that opens in NY on Aug.29. I used to work as a database administrator at Sloan-Kettering in the late 80s on patient registration systems and became interested in the “politics of cancer” as Samuel Epstein puts it, mostly as a function of my Marxist orientation. I read Epstein’s book while there and Robert Proctor’s “The Cancer Wars” much later on.

I noticed that–unlike Epstein–Proctor was hesitant to make a link between pollution and cancer. All this was in the back of my mind when I began reading your account of Love Canal yesterday that to my surprise concluded that there was no greater occurrence of cancer there than in the rest of NY state. I know that it is hard to argue with the data but I wonder whether your case would have been strengthened by a somewhat broader perspective.

I have been paying pretty close attention to China over the past 30 years ever since the country abandoned socialism (even a distorted version) and plunged full speed ahead into capitalist development with zero concern over health and safety. I seemed to have recalled many reports on cancer clusters–so to speak–over the years.

Refreshing my memory, I did a quick search and came up with this:

http://igov.berkeley.edu/content/water-pollution-and-digestive-cancers-china

> Water Pollution and Digestive Cancers in China
> author(s): Avi Ebenstein
> 2008
> Following China’s economic reforms of the late 1970s, rapid industrialization has led to
> a deterioration of water quality in the country’s lakes and rivers. China’s cancer rate has
> also increased in recent years, and digestive cancers (i.e. stomach, liver, esophageal) now
> account for 11 percent of fatalities (WHO 2002) and nearly one million deaths annually. This
> paper examines a potential causal link between surface water quality and digestive cancers
> by exploiting variation in water quality across China’s river basins. Using a sample of 145
> mortality registration points in China, I find using OLS that a deterioration of the water quality
> by a single grade (on a six-grade scale) is associated with a 9.3 percent increase in the death rate
> due to digestive cancer, controlling for observable characteristics of the Disease Surveillance
> Points (DSP). The analysis rules out other potential explanations for the observed correlation,
> such as smoking rates, dietary patterns, and air pollution. This link is also robust to estimation
> using 2SLS with rainfall and upstream manufacturing as instruments. As a consequence of the
> large observed relationship between digestive cancer rates and water pollution, I examine the
> benefits and costs of increasing China’s levy rates for firm dumping of untreated wastewater.
> My estimates indicate that doubling China’s current levies would save roughly 29,000 lives per
> year, but require an additional 500 million dollars in annual spending on wastewater treatment
> by firms, implying a cost of roughly 18,000 dollars per averted death.
>
> Attachment Size
> Pollution_in_China.pdf 904.88 KB

I know that you were not trying to write a comprehensive study of pollution and cancer but I was left with a worry that you were giving too much credence to an analysis I have seen over the years from Gina Kolata, your colleague at the NY Times,  who has downplayed environmental factors to the point where she seems like a pro-chemical industry hack.

July 31, 2014

Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 11:59 am

(An article by Kirill Medvedev, a Russian revolutionary socialist, poet and translator of Charles Bukowski. Here’s a link to another article by Medvedev.)

LEFT EAST31 July 2014

Peace-Fighters: Kirill Medvedev on the Need for a New Democratic Opposition

Kirill Medvedev

The need for a “third way,” one that is different from the rabid support for one of the sides in the Ukrainian crisis, a way about which several of have written in the last few months, is especially evident today, because it is the only chance to reconstitute the almost completely broken democratic opposition in Russia.

Maidan, the loudest and most relentless mobilization in post-Soviet space, was, without doubt, a chance for a unique democratic breakthrough, capable of serving as an example to Western Europe, the CIS countries, and many others.

Anti-Maidan, the tumult in South-East Ukraine, was, without doubt, a chance for a “circuit break,” an occasion to imagine the development of Western Europe outside of that course (of de-industrialization, privatization, neoliberalization) guaranteed to it by the heads of the European Union and the IMF.

It appears that both chances have been lost. Revolution is made by an active minority, but its fate depends on that minority’s ability to attract a majority to its cause, to convince it that there is a commonality of interests. Maidan proved unable to convey to the South-East, even before its victory, a clear message: we are one nation, we have common interests, there will be room in the new Ukraine for different cultural-historical traditions and economic-political orientations. Instead, there was, at best, confidence that the residents of the South-East will accept anything the revolutionaries will achieve in Kiev, at worst – the most abhorrent social racism and chauvinism, which in the end became the ideological basis for the anti-terrorist operation (ATO).

The republics that came into being in South-East Ukraine are, without doubt, the result of a foreign policy adventure on the part of the Russian regime, which, risking and wavering, tried to turn to its advantage the entirely justified discontent of a huge part of the population in the South-East with the new Kiev establishment and its politics.

Many on the Left (myself included) hoped that the people of Donbas (like those of Maidan) could formulate and realize their own social and democratic program: this could have either brought the two movements closer together, bringing to the fore the progressive elements of both; or it could have made the question of the territorial integrity of Ukraine (and Russia, and that of any other country in a similar situation) insignificant.

Besides problems of self-organization, of political initiative, which really do exist in South-East Ukraine (as they do in Russia and in many other places), it is also important that the aggrieved people of Donbas didn’t have any well-defined political goals from the start. Therefore, it is entirely logical that at the head of the mobilization appeared a small cadre of people, primarily from Russia, with either military or administrative experience, with some (let it be uncertain and unstable) support from Moscow and a very specific political motive – the restoration and expansion of “the Russian World.” Yes, the rudimentary Soviet anti-fascism and egalitarianism that reside in the majority of people of Donbas are not, to put it mildly, the worst of values now diffused in post-Soviet space. But it is impossible to seriously take as signs of left-wing or democratic politics government-implanted ideas about nationalization, the “anti-fascism” of right-wing historical re-enactors and former members of the RNU (Russian National Unity Party), their anti-Western, anti-European rhetoric, which plays on the unambiguously reactionary sentiments of the masses. And there is nothing left-wing about anti-oligarchic declarations as such, which can easily be part of a Right-Left, even a National-Socialist program. And there can be no comparison with either the Cuban or the Bolivarian revolutions as long as we refuse to speak of Russia as a local imperialist, dispatching its cadres to neighboring republics with the following ideas:

“The borders of the Russian World are significantly wider than the borders of the Russian Federation. I am fulfilling a historical mission in the name of the Russian nation, the Russian super-ethnos, bound together by Orthodox Christianity. In the Ukraine, as in the Caucasus, I fight against separatists, this time Ukrainian, not Chechen. Because there is such a thing as Russia, great Russia, the Russian Empire. And now the Ukrainian separatists in Kiev are fighting against the Russian Empire” (Aleksandr Borodai).

It is perfectly clear that the majority of residents of Donbas do not live in the fantasy-world of historical re-enactment, but in a world with their own everyday problems, problems of life and work, their own interests, which differ from the interests of the visiting fighters and commanders, no matter what hopes might have been placed on them in the beginning. And this is just as clear: even if a left-wing, radical-democratic agenda would suddenly begin to break through from the bottom, it would immediately be either appropriated or simply crushed, with support from Moscow, by the builders of the “Russian World.”

Therefore, the only chance to break the vicious circuit in Ukraine is for there to be radical changes in Russia. Changes that would come to pass not under the banner of a struggle for the “Russian World” against juvenile justice, Eurosodom and the like, but under the banner of radical democratic and social changes inside the country, a re-orientation of the economy from the maintenance of an army of bureaucrats, policemen, FSB-men, and heaps of big businessmen, to the social sphere, science, industry.

Of course, it is hard to imagine such changes taking place today. The events in Ukraine have, on the one hand, almost completely demoralized and divided the Russian opposition, divided its flanks from within (the Left flank most of all); on the other hand, they have presented a new problem for the regime: What is to be done with those sentiments that were persistently fired up by Russian propaganda, with the leaders and fighters of the South-East, who have gained authority in the context of the “anti-fascist” hysteria in the mass media? And it is obvious that there is nothing left to do but to co-opt, in some way and measure, their leaders and the sentiments that stand behind, to bring them to power.

Here we approach the subject of fascism. While the phrase “Kiev junta,” planted by the Russian propagandists, does nothing to help shed light on the situation, distinct elements of fascism are evident in post-Revolutionary Ukraine. These are, first of all, military forces financed by oligarchs, comprised of fighters motivated by ultra-nationalist ideas, recruited largely from far-right organizations. Attempts on the part of the regime (which may not itself be “fascist”) to support and make use of such structures all too often lead to the loss of control or to the surrender of it as the only means of survival. Historically, the intrigue of relations between bourgeois power and fascism consists precisely in this, which is why there is no point in calling the Poroshenko regime or the Putin regime in themselves “fascist” for the purpose of immediate propaganda gains.

In one way or another, the question of fascism in Ukraine must be discussed responsibly, including in the context of the pan-European situation with the far Right. We must discuss the relationship between the conduct of the pro-Kiev soldiers/fighters and ultra-nationalist ideology. But it must also be clear that racist hatred, torture, violence against peaceful residents are no less criminal if they take place under the Russian, Imperial or Soviet flag. And if we believe that a humanitarian catastrophe is taking place in South-East Ukraine, then we must demand the end of the anti-terrorist operation and the beginning of reconciliation under international control, not military support for our “brothers” coming from the right-wing, authoritarian Russian regime.

And, of course, we must discuss the question of fascism even more seriously in connection with Russia, for both the subsequent logic of events in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the example of, say, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, with his private battalions, give momentum to the formation of similar elements of classical fascism in our own country. It has been said more than once that, in the near term, regardless of how this whole Donbas story will end, we will likely see both the rise to power of several “heroes of the DPR” and the formation, from the ranks of militia returning to Russia, of some type of paramilitary structure under the patronage of patriotically inclined big businessmen and groups of the elite. Iconic DPR-men and their newly-recruited associates may very easily be employed in various political and economic conflicts and repressions, serve as examples of the regime’s “national-patriotic” character, be brought to the forefront in the event of crisis, and in the event of extreme danger – appointed to the highest posts.

Naturally, and in parallel to this, “anti-liberalism” will be strengthened, without, however, deviation from the general neoliberal economic course, but only in the guise of refining the figure of the liberal “national traitor” as a bogeyman for members of any kind of opposition. It appears that some on the Left are quite ready to lend a hand in this effort: some simply out of hatred for “liberals,” others wishing to find a small, but stable place for themselves in the new situation. They will be poured into the same anti-Western, “anti-liberal” sauce as the trash-conservative agenda. Let us look, for example, at the account of the “Yalta Conference of Resistance” on the site rabkor.ru:

“The struggle with the new Kiev regime is in effect a struggle against the EU, not in the form of challenging merely the politics of destroying the family and heterosexual relations, but in the form of challenging the entire anti-social neoliberal economic politics of the Western elites,” emphasized in his report the Head of the Centre for Economic Research (IGSO) Vasily Koltashov.

All those who are not satisfied with this dolled-up consensus, all those who want truly democratic, truly progressive social changes in Russia, who still hope that our country can become not just a petty regional predator, but an example of democracy, justice and education for all, need a new opposition. But for it to become possible, it is necessary, however difficult it may appear, to set aside differences of opinion with respect to Ukraine. Of course, it is impossible to set aside differences of opinion with those who, all these months, have had their teeth sunk into their computers, supporting the the anti-terrorist operation in their attacks on the “Colorados” (the pro-Russian insurgents) just as it is impossible to set aside differences of opinion with those who have hysterically called for a campaign on Kiev and Lviv in order to eradicate “Banderovism” and “Ukraino-fascism.” However, we can fully sympathize with those Ukrainians who do not want to live under today’s increasingly anti-democratic Ukrainian regime, and we can fully sympathize with those Ukrainians who want to protect their State from any kind of Russian interference. This is not our war, but our people are fighting in it – on both sides – besides a minority of ultra-right-wing thugs, their ideological and military leaders, patrons, and instigators on official TV. A great number of people from the most diverse social strata are fully capable of understanding and sharing this position, they are capable of conveying it to the majority.

We need a program of radical change that is oriented toward the majority, a program that brings together democratic and social demands, a program that proceeds from the fact that the exchange of one group of businessmen for another, more “democratic” one, does not lead to anything good, a program that is oriented simultaneously toward de-centralization and toward the unity of the country, for the Ukrainian example has once again shown everyone what results from the dream of “cozy national governments” under historical and cultural conditions that are unsuitable for them.

We must orient ourselves toward trade unions, which every day fight for labor rights, without which no democratic changes are possible.

We must orient ourselves toward the intelligentsia and toward everyone who cannot and who does not want to “hit the road,” but who wants to work in their own country under normal conditions.

We must orient ourselves toward the youth, which sooner or later will begin to rebel against idiotic conservative interdictions.

Such people are fully capable of constituting a real majority in defiance of today’s – in fact, ephemeral – ideological “for Putin, for Stalin, for the Russian World.”

And we must demand judgment upon those who with singular cynicism manipulated the psyches of millions of TV watchers all these months, demand free access to central TV channels for different political forces (besides those that promulgate ethnic and religious division), social movements, and trade unions.

Our enemy is in the Kremlin!

Kirill Мedvedev is a Moscow-based poet, translator, and activist. He is the founder of the Arkady Kots band. The text was published in Russian on OpenLeft and translated by Maksim Hanukai.

July 29, 2014

Civil disobedience led by Norman Finkelstein

Filed under: Palestine — louisproyect @ 10:02 pm

This took place today.

Bratton, De Blasio and the subway break-dancers

Filed under: crime,New York,racism — louisproyect @ 7:35 pm

Today’s NY Times reports on the crackdown on break-dancers in the subway.

The young dancers, Peppermint and Butterscotch, scanned the scattered faces aboard the New York City subway. One caught their eye.

“Are you a cop?” a performer asked, as their Q train rumbled toward Canal Street. The man waved them off. Peppermint and Butterscotch were satisfied.

“It’s showtime!” they shouted.

Music filled the train. Legs curled around the car’s graspable bars like creeping ivy. Then came a finale that surprised even the dancers: four plainclothes officers converging in tandem, and two sets of handcuffs.

Cheered by tourists, tolerated by regulars, feared by those who frown upon kicks in the face, subway dancers have unwittingly found themselves a top priority for the New York Police Department — a curious collision of a Giuliani-era policing approach, a Bloomberg-age dance craze and a new administration that has cast the mostly school-age entertainers as fresh-face avatars of urban disorder.

There’s probably nobody more opposed to being a captive audience on the subways than me. I have been riding NYC subways since they cost 15 cents a ride. When they were this cheap, they lacked air conditioning and were as noisy as hell, but you could at least be assured that you would never be forced to watch a musical performance, begged for spare change, or listen to a sermon.

That was a function of the city being a lot more economically and socially viable than it has been ever since the fare reached the dollar level at least. In 1961 the city was home to a million and one small manufacturing plants that provided jobs for Blacks and Latinos. This is not to speak of the jobs in heavy industry just across the river in New Jersey, such as the Ford plant in Mahwah. In those days, jobs were like low-hanging fruit for recent immigrants from the Deep South or Puerto Rico. They disappeared long ago, forcing the grandchildren of those who worked in them to beg for change or to break dance just one step ahead of the law.

In some ways it is the subway preachers that make me the most crazy, even though they are probably certifiably insane themselves. When I used to take the number one train up to Columbia University, there was a guy who showed up about once a month and preach to us. He had a thick Jamaican accent and would always prattle on about how Jesus was coming to take the faithful up to heaven and send the sinful down to hell. I had to restrain myself from ranting about there being nothing but colliding atoms. What good would it do?

During the Giuliani administration, chief of police William Bratton implemented the “broken window theory”, one that posited petty crime as creating a climate for more serious crimes. This meant in practice arresting the homeless men who used squeegees on car windows when they were stopped for a red light. They generally didn’t say anything if you refused but hoped to get a dollar for their work. The cops also went after young men, mostly Black and Latino, who spray-painted graffiti on subway cars, including Michael Stewart who died in 1983 while under police custody. Despite eyewitnesses who saw the cops kicking and beating him, an all-white jury acquitted the six officers.

Eventually the “broken windows” policy led to the formation of a Street Crimes Unit that targeted young Blacks and Latinos for selling drugs or other minor offenses. This was really the beginning of “Stop and Frisk”, the policy that Bill De Blasio claimed he wanted to abolish. Obviously it has snuck back in through the back door. In a very good article on Bratton in the ISO newspaper, attorney David Bliven describes his experience with Bratton’s law and order:

As a young civil rights lawyer in Jamaica, Queens, at the time, I had more than a few victims of this police harassment come into my office. They were often Black teenagers who described how they were walking home from school, or from the store, or just hanging out with friends, when a car pulled up and out jumped the NYPD thugs. They’d throw the teen into their car, rough him up in the backseat, try to get drug sale information out of him, and when they determined the kid knew nothing, end up dumping the then utterly frightened kid on the other side of Queens.

The Street Crimes Unit was eventually disbanded–not because it wasn’t effective at its mission (intimidating and oppressing Blacks and Latinos)–but because it eventually made its way into the mainstream press and thus fell out of favor with the white liberal establishment. The idea behind the Street Crimes Unit lived on and was quickly replaced by Drug Sweep Teams, which were the precursor to the “stop-and-frisk” policy.

Now that Bratton is running the police department again, the “broken window theory” has been reinstituted. Besides break dancers, it seeks to protect the public from the mostly minority men and women who sell single cigarettes on the street at a cut-rate price. One of them was Eric Garner, an immense but sickly African-American who died as an illegal chokehold was being placed on him and as he cried out that he could not breathe:

To its credit, the NY Times editorialized against Bratton’s policy:

How terrible it would be if Eric Garner died for a theory, for the idea that aggressive police enforcement against minor offenders (he was a seller of loose, untaxed cigarettes) is the way to a safer, more orderly city. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton responded swiftly after Mr. Garner was fatally assaulted by officers on Staten Island. They reached out to his family, promising to retrain every officer about the rules against using chokeholds. Two officers have been put on desk duty pending investigations.

The mayor and the commissioner should also begin a serious discussion of the future of “broken windows” policing, the strategy of relentlessly attacking petty offenses to nurture a sense of safety and order in high-crime neighborhoods, which, in theory, leads to greater safety and order. In reality, the link is hypothetical, as many cities and towns across the country have enjoyed historic decreases in violent crime since the 1990s, whatever strategies they used. And the vast majority of its targets are not serious criminals, or criminals at all.

Bratton is a pioneer of broken windows policing and Mr. de Blasio is a stout defender. The tactic was embraced in the crime-plagued New York of 20 years ago. But while violence has ebbed, siege-based tactics have not. The Times reported on Friday that the Police Department made 394,539 arrests last year, near historical highs.

The mayor and the commissioner should acknowledge the heavy price paid for heavy enforcement. Broken windows and its variants — “zero-tolerance,” “quality-of-life,” “stop-and-frisk” practices — have pointlessly burdened thousands of young people, most of them black and Hispanic, with criminal records. These policies have filled courts to bursting with first-time, minor offenders whose cases are often thrown out, though not before their lives are severely disrupted and their reputations blemished. They have caused thousands to lose their jobs, to be suspended from school, to be barred from housing or the military. They have ensnared immigrants who end up, through a federal fingerprinting program, being deported and losing everything.

No matter how much clout the “newspaper of record” has, the politician that the Nation Magazine, Salon.com, and the Huffington Post drooled over will likely ignore its recommendations. Once again from the NYT article we linked to at the beginning of this post:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has defended the approach even as some police reform advocates have called for big changes after the death of a Staten Island man, Eric Garner, during an arrest over accusations of selling untaxed cigarettes, a subject of complaints by local businesses.

“If you’re violating the law, I can understand why any New Yorker might say, well that might not be such a big offense or that might not be something that troubles any of us individually,” the mayor said, standing with Mr. Bratton on Monday at City Hall. “But breaking the law is breaking the law.”

And what exactly is the difference between Giuliani and De Blasio? I guess the same difference between Bush and Obama. In a period of declining economic opportunities, law and order will become more and more repressive. In the early stages of capitalism, vagabonds roamed the British countryside and prompted the equivalent of “stop and frisk” back then—draconian policies including being sentenced to a debtor’s prison.

Chapter 28 of V. 1 of Capital begins as follows:

The proletariat created by the breaking up of the bands of feudal retainers and by the forcible expropriation of the people from the soil, this “free” proletariat could not possibly be absorbed by the nascent manufactures as fast as it was thrown upon the world. On the other hand, these men, suddenly dragged from their wonted mode of life, could not as suddenly adapt themselves to the discipline of their new condition. They were turned en masse into beggars, robbers, vagabonds, partly from inclination, in most cases from stress of circumstances. Hence at the end of the 15th and during the whole of the 16th century, throughout Western Europe a bloody legislation against vagabondage. The fathers of the present working class were chastised for their enforced transformation into vagabonds and paupers. Legislation treated them as “voluntary” criminals, and assumed that it depended on their own good will to go on working under the old conditions that no longer existed.

Now that we are in the period of capitalism’s senescence, we find that once again manufacturing cannot absorb the “free” proletariat. In the 18th century this was because it had not come into existence. In the 21st it is because it no longer exists.

The Mole People

Filed under: Palestine — louisproyect @ 1:20 pm

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“It takes us a little bit to our childhood fairy tales of demons,” said Eyal Brandeis, 50, a political scientist who lives on Kibbutz Sufa, a mile from where 13 militants emerged from a tunnel at dawn July 17. “It’s a very pastoral environment I live in, the quiet, the green grass, the trees. It’s not a pleasant thought that you sit one day on the patio drinking coffee with your wife and a bunch of terrorists will rise from the ground.”

My email to Eyal Brandeis after reading this article in today’s NY Times:

Terrorists rising from the ground?

The real terror is IDF jets blowing up schools, power stations and hospitals; murdering Palestinian children playing soccer on the beach.

You fucking Israelis make me sick to my stomach, worse than the Afrikaners.

I say that as a bar mitzvahed Jew and the son of a woman who was president of her local Hadassah chapter. God damn your eyes.

Louis Proyect

July 28, 2014

Fallen City

Filed under: China,television — louisproyect @ 7:57 pm

This shows tonight on WNET in NYC at 10pm. Check your local PBS station to see if it is being screened in your city. This is from the PBS website:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/fallencity/film_description.php

Even for a country historically plagued by earthquakes, the 2008 quake in the Sichuan province was devastating. Nearly 70,000 people were killed and thousands more were missing and never found, making it the deadliest quake in the country in three decades. The old town of Beichuan, home to 20,000 people, was reduced to rubble. Fallen City is a revealing account of contemporary China’s response to the disaster: Within a scant two years, the government built a new and apparently improved town close to the old Beichuan.

Fallen City is the haunting story of the survivors, whose grief over the past and anxiety about the future cannot be resolved in bricks and mortar or erased by cheerful government propaganda about “the new Beichuan.” In today’s China, even the worst disaster can be an occasion for celebrating the country’s achievements and its anticipated great future. Yet in China, as elsewhere—and as movingly captured by Fallen City—suffering in the face of death and displacement follows a path determined more by humanity’s search for meaning than by the politics of the day.

—-

The film is the first directed by Qi Zhao, whose last credit was executive producing “Last Train Home”, about which I wrote:

“Last Train Home” is the latest movie that departs from the globalization-is-wonderful ideology of Thomas Friedman, Jagdish Bhagwati, and other prophets of neoliberalism. Some are fictional, such as “Blind Shaft”, a movie about miners forced to work in virtual slavery. Others are documentaries like “Still Life” that depict the loss of livelihood and ties to the land that the Three Gorges Dam posed.

Directed by a Canadian Lixin Fan, whose last film “Up the Yangtze” explored the same issues as “Still Life”, “Last Train Home” focuses on a single family whose life has been torn apart by China’s rapid industrialization.

Changhua Zhan and his wife Suqin Chen both work on sewing machines in a typical export-oriented factory in the Guangdong province. Each New Year’s holiday, they take a train back to their rural village to see their teenaged daughter Qin Zhang and her younger brother Yang Zhang. This is not as easy as it seems since there are far more people trying to get a ticket than are available. The train station is a sea of humanity with cops and soldiers trying to keep order. Although the film does not comment on why this is the case (it sticks to a cinéma vérité format), it strikes this reviewer as the likely outcome of a society that no longer places much emphasis on public transportation as it once did. (There are signs that this is beginning to change recently, but one doubts that it will have any impact on the poorer migrant workers for a while.)

full: http://louisproyect.org/2010/11/28/last-train-home/

I expect this to be a very important film.

July 26, 2014

The Kill Team

Filed under: Afghanistan,Film — louisproyect @ 7:28 pm

Arguably, the only good things to come out of the war in Afghanistan are the more than 30 documentaries depicting the American role as nothing less than heinous. Joining “Restrepo” and “The Tillman Story” in the top ranks is “The Kill Team”, which opened yesterday at Lincoln Center (full schedule information, including a nationwide rollout is here: http://killteammovie.com/see-the-film).

Dan Krauss’s documentary has an eerie resemblance to the tale told by Oliver Stone in “The Platoon”. An idealistic young Floridian named Adam Winfield joins the army to “do some good”, which in his mind meant helping villagers build wells and roads while protecting them from the Taliban.

Calvin Gibbs, his sergeant, has other goals, which are best indicated by the skull and crossbones tattooed on his calf. After being assigned to his unit, Winfield learns that Sergeant Gibbs, who has served in Iraq where he obviously learned his tricks, is determined to add notches to his gun barrel whether or not his victims are Taliban or not. Winfield is horrified to witness Gibbs killing an Afghan in cold blood and then planting an AK-47 near his dead body, after the fashion of New York cops planting a pistol on someone they have just blown away. Afterwards he cuts off the man’s finger and adds to a necklace he has fashioned, reminiscent of how Indian scalps were collected in the Wild West.

When Winfield begins to tell other men in his unit that he can’t abide such killings, and even urges his ex-Marine father to contact military investigators, Gibbs gets wind of his subordinate’s intentions and warns him that he will be next if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut.

If you have seen “Platoon”, you will recognize the similarity to the conflict between the character played by Charlie Sheen and his murderous sergeant played by Tom Berenger. Unlike “Platoon”, the two men in Krauss’s films are nowhere near equal. Winfield was about 100 pounds when he was enlisted, so light that he drank a gallon of water just to make the minimum weight while his sergeant was over 200 pounds.

Pressure built on Winfield to the point that he finally relented and joined Gibbs’s death squad for one hit that was eventually discovered during an investigation about hashish smoking in his unit.

Most of the film consists of testimony by Winfield and the men in his unit (except for Gibbs) who while not being proud of their role in the killings argue that this is what the army is about. It was Winfield’s misfortune to be caught in an untenable situation, one in which he would be a loser whatever choice he made. If he succumbed to Gibbs’s pressure, he would become a killer himself. If he became a whistle-blower, he would be killed.

The main message of the film is that the real kill team was not the group under Gibbs’s command but the entire military. It is to director Dan Krauss’s credit that he has made a highly dramatic and necessary documentary. It will make you both sad and angry, just the way that the long, long war in Afghanistan does.

Highly recommended.

July 25, 2014

The anti-Semitism canard

Filed under: anti-Semitism,zionism — louisproyect @ 7:06 pm

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Google search on “Gaza”, “protests” and “anti-Semitism” produces a jaw-dropping 5,300,000 results. Among them, you can find the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, reporting:

Jewish people are being attacked and abused on the streets of Germany as though the country were back in the Nazi era, political and religious leaders warned yesterday.

Escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has prompted a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in the last few days.

Murderous slogans dating back to the days of Hitler have been chanted at pro-Palestinian rallies in Germany. Jewish-owned shops were attacked and burned in riots in France at the weekend.

The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said: ‘They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin… as if we were in 1938.’

That this sort of thing can be reported while the death toll in Gaza tops 500 strikes me as obscene New York City has about 4 times as many people as Gaza. Can you imagine if bombs and artillery shells had killed 2000 people here in a month? The Zionists direct a lot of their hasbara to New Yorkers, arguing that they should consider what it would feel like if they were being shelled from New Jersey. Since the rockets from Gaza kill nobody, that seems like a piss-poor analogy but what else would expect from a regime drenched in blood and bullshit?

Even more in the spotlight is France, which has experienced the most massive protests against the Israeli blitzkrieg. Vox.net informed its readers:

France has the third-largest Jewish population in the world, after the United States and Israel. It appears to have seen the worst anti-Semitic violence in recent days.

“Eight synagogues in France have been targeted in the past week,” The New York Times reports. Over the July 19-20th weekend, “a radical fringe among pro-Palestinian protesters in the French capital clashed with police, targeting Jewish shops, lighting smoke bombs, and throwing stones and bottles at riot police,” the Times reported.

“They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris, ” Roger Cuikerman, head of French Jewish political group CRIF, said. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews.'”

According to The Independent, a peaceful protest in the northern Paris suburb Saracelles “degenerated” into anti-Semitic violence. “Several cars were burned,” the Independent reported, and “three shops, including a Kosher grocery, were burned and pillaged. A railway station was severely damaged.”

For an alternative take on France, I recommend this article that appears on the Quartiers Libres blog:

In the hours following the skirmish between protesters and JDL members, more messages were posted by JDL members and supporters saying the JDL had acted out of self-defence using only their bare hands against pro-Palestinian thugs, a version that is fully inconsistent with the many pictures and videos of the scene that were widely circulated by independent media websites and militants.

The JDL is banned in the USA and in Israel on account of its extremism and explicit racism. In France, where it is legal, the organisation is regularly guilty of taunts and attacks, as was the case only the week before, when they targeted a rally in support of Gaza. On July 13, by jeopardizing the safety of people gathered in a Synagogue, the JDL has shown it’s now moving on to a new tactical step. Yet although the street fight outside the Synagogue was all over the media, journalists first failed to so much as mention the JDL’s provocations or even the rally itself, sometimes making it sound as though the pro-Palestinian protesters had intentionally planned to attack a Synagogue.

There was never an attack against a Synagogue in previous pro-Palestinian demonstrations, just like there wasn‘t one on July 13: the skirmish broke out in the street between the JDL and antifascist protesters, and there was never an attack on either the Synagogue or the people inside, which all videos shot on that day bring evidence of.

Why didn’t Jewish authorities and non-extremist organizations such as the UEJF condemn the JDL’s rally and why did the police protect the JDL? Could it be that the French authorities are hoping to criminalize pro-Palestinian support?

Ever since I have been involved with the left, I have heard the charge that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are the same.

Beyond that, there is also a tendency to smear African-Americans as anti-Semitic any time they step out of line. When Jesse Jackson’s campaign was gathering steam, they crucified him for referring to New York as “Hymietown” in an unguarded chat with a Black reporter.

When a limousine carrying a Hasidic rabbi ran over a Black child in Brooklyn in 1991, the protests were routinely labeled as anti-Semitic even though they were primarily directed at Jewish privilege. When a troubled Black youth stabbed a rabbinical student, the press howled at the Black community, treating it as if it were bent on genocide. The hysteria paved the way for Mayor Giuliani’s administration that had the deaths of a number of Black men and the torture of Abner Louima to account for.

Stepping back from the immediate furor over Gaza, it would be worthwhile to examine the question of anti-Semitism in a dispassionate and historical materialist fashion.

When I was in the SWP, I developed an understanding of racism quite different from the one I had absorbed growing up in a relatively liberal household and attending an even more liberal college. The issue was not about “intolerance”; it was about institutions that kept Black people in a subordinate position. This included red-lining that made it impossible to get a mortgage in the Black community, white owned businesses in the ghetto that gouged their customers, police brutality, underfunding of primarily Black public schools, etc. In other words, what might be called institutional racism.

There was a time when Jews suffered from institutional racism. At the turn of the century, Jews lived in the slums on the Lower East Side and could easily identified by their Yiddish accent. They suffered from discrimination and poverty on a level that matched that of Blacks or other oppressed groups historically. In Germany they were less oppressed despite the specious arguments of Daniel Goldhagen. It was only the Great Depression and the massive influx of Eastern European Jews into Germany that allowed Hitler to make use of the Jews as a scapegoat.

All that changed after WWII when Jews moved out of the tenements and into the mainstream. The second generation (my mom and dad’s) opened small businesses, went to colleges (most often state universities), lost their Yiddish accent, and even changed their last name to fit in. Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis and Issur Danielovitch became Kirk Douglas. If you were fortunate enough to make big bucks on Wall Street, you didn’t even have to change your name.

I strongly urge those who have doubts about this to get their hands on Lenni Brenner’s 1986 “Jews in America Today”. I wish some of it was online but unfortunately the only place to go to get a handle on his analysis is a 2003 article he wrote for CounterPunch titled “The Demographics of American Jews”. He writes:

Why then is the Zionist lobby so powerful when their own scholars write endlessly about the alienation of their youth from the movement? The answer is simple: the Jews are the richest ethnic or religious stratum in the US. Because their standard of living is so high, they are the most educated. Because they are the most educated, they are the most scientific oriented, hence most inclined towards atheism or religious skepticism. But the true believer minority still has an unbelievable amount of money to throw at the politicians.

In 1991, I interviewed Harold Seneker, then the editor of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, for an article in The Nation. I told him that I found Jews, 2.2% of the population, to be about 25% of the 400. He told me that he thought this a success story, both for American capitalism and for the Jews, and that he wanted to write a story on it. But Forbes wouldn’t let him. The then publisher had gone thru the Hitler era, when talking about Jewish money was an anti-Semitic specialty.

This mentality is still common on the left as well, and it is wide spread among elderly Jews. Forbes, much of the left, and old Jews share what must be called a ‘folk Marxist’ mentality. Despite the differences in their politics, they all believe that history repeats itself. Someday there is going to be another 1929 Depression. The capitalists will, once again, call up central casting and get another Hitler to smash the left.

This is fantasy. It’s a projection of the past, and Germany’s past at that, into America’s future. In reality, journalists constantly turn out articles for Zionist publications about how Jewish campaign contributors play a major role in funding both parties and, very rarely, the topic is touched on in the mainstream media. “The Political Future of American Jews,” a1985 American Jewish Congress pamphlet by Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, declared that “While there have been few reliable statistics on the subject — and some reluctance to gather any — the journalistic and anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that more than a majority of Democratic funds on a national level, and as much as a quarter of Republican funds have come from Jewish sources.” They were referring to private contributions, as was an article in the 1/5/93 NY Times announcing that “Jews contributed about 60 percent of Mr. Clinton’s noninstitutional campaign funds.”

My estimate is that 84 of the latest 400 are Jews. The magazine doesn’t list religious affiliations unless the person involved is distinctive in giving to religious charities, etc. And not all of the Jews are pro-Zionists. Some listees are among the educated disaffiliated we are discussing. But Zionist money is prodigious. James Tisch, chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations isn’t on the list, altho he is CEO of Loews Corp., listed on the Fortune 500 list. But daddy, Laurence, is, at $2 billion, and uncle Preston is worth $2.3 billion. His predecessors at the Conference were Ronald Lauder, $1.8 billion, and Mort Zuckerman, who struggles along with a penny ante $1.2 billion. Chaim Sabon, $1.7 billion, is a University of California regent. Mayhaps he got the job because he gave the Democrats the largest campaign contribution in American history?

If you really care about anti-Semitism in Europe, the place to go is where you would expect it, not in the Paris banlieues but in the neo-Nazi movements that are growing rapidly in a period of economic hardship.

To put things into perspective, the Anti-Defamation League issued a report on anti-Semitics attacks in 2013 that covered the entire world. Not a single death was reported. Most of the incidents were of the sort that turns up in New York routinely, a swastika scrawled on a Synagogue wall or a gravestone overturned. Compare that to the fate of Muslims who face racism and murder every where they look, from Burma to Kashmir.

In the unlikely event that Jews ever become targets of the ultraright again, I would strongly advise my brethren to think twice about whether to align themselves with the POV expressed in the Daily Mail, the tabloid I quoted at the beginning of this article in light of what Wikipedia reports:

[The publisher] Lord Rothermere was a friend of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and directed the Mail’s editorial stance towards them in the early 1930s. Rothermere’s 1933 leader “Youth Triumphant” praised the new Nazi regime’s accomplishments, and was subsequently used as propaganda by them. In it, Rothermere predicted that “The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany”. Journalist John Simpson, in a book on journalism, suggested that Rothermere was referring to the violence against Jews and Communists rather than the detention of political prisoners.

Rothermere and the Mail were also editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. Rothermere wrote an article entitled “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” in January 1934, praising Mosley for his “sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine”, and pointing out that: “Young men may join the British Union of Fascists by writing to the Headquarters, King’s Road, Chelsea, London, S.W.”

 

Enough!

Filed under: Palestine — louisproyect @ 5:50 pm

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