Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 26, 2017

A piano for Ketermaya

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 6:54 pm

Last month I had the very good fortune to see “Ketermaya”, a documentary shown at the 2017 Socially Relevant Film Festival about a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon, and the even greater fortune to meet the director Lucas Jedrzejak. In two long conversations with Lucas, I found myself admiring not only his skill as a filmmaker but his very deep feelings of solidarity for the people of the Ketermaya refugee camp, especially the children. As we said goodbye, I told him to keep me in the loop on anything that I could do to help him in his efforts on behalf of the Syrian refugees who were the stars of his film. My review of “Ketermaya” included this:

Jedrzejak’s film focuses on the camp’s children, many of whom are orphans. Despite the hardships of living in Spartan conditions, the occupants of what can be described as huts are intent on living as much of a normal life as possible. Wise beyond their years, the childrens’ life revolves around playing in a makeshift playground and going to a one-room schoolhouse. One of the teachers is a star in the film, a 13-year old hijab-wearing girl named Nijmeh who should go on speaking tour of the USA about Syrian refugee realities. She is deeply aware of her responsibility to teach the ABC’s to children half her age as well as to keep their morale up. We see her leading a group of them in what looks a bit like ring-around-the-rosie that they delight in. When we learn that most of them have been exposed to aerial bombardment from Assad and his Russian gangster confederates, we can understand that they are glad to be alive even if they lack videogames and large-screen TVs.

Well, if they lack videogames and large-screen TV’s, maybe we can help them get something that is more “old school”, interactive and valuable—a piano!

Lucas has gotten in touch with me about a Crowdsource funding project for the piano and some ancillary needs. I chipped in 100 pounds and urge you to pitch in as well. I will allow Lucas to fill you in:

The piano is apparently reduced now to $400 after 9 conversations but I need to sort out a truck to get this and be able to get to the mountains with it in one piece so thought to create a campaign to raise $700 all together and if enough to get some other instruments for the kids. We will be doing a new water filtration system and Danette Gorman from Socially Relevant NY is coming too 🙂 she raised over $3K for sanitary towels for women and loads of stuff for the orphans and other kids in the camp.

The piano:

So, dig deep into your pockets, comrades. This will make a huge difference in the lives of people who are the best hope for a better future both in Syria and the entire Middle East.


  1. Good work, Louis. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    Comment by Arn Kawano — April 27, 2017 @ 1:22 am

  2. chip in where?

    Comment by Aldo Matteucci — April 27, 2017 @ 2:40 am

  3. Louis us unrepentant Marxists have to stick together so I’ve matched your donation
    thanks for the good work

    Comment by Greg Adler — April 27, 2017 @ 5:20 am

  4. I’m not sure where I lost the plot, but I thought Marxists opposed imperialism whereas you seem to fully support it.
    A thirteen year old girl wears the hijab. So she is a leftist?
    Louis, if they offer remedial courses in propaganda, you ought to take advantage.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 27, 2017 @ 5:33 am

  5. What a sad comment. But don’t worry there are plenty of “leftists” who support barbarism in Syria.

    Comment by Greg Adler — April 27, 2017 @ 7:37 am

  6. Of course you lost the plot, Doug. You are a conspiracist troll who knows as much about Marxism as I do about particle physics.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 27, 2017 @ 11:18 am

  7. Aldo, go here to contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/piano-for-syrian-children-refugees

    Comment by louisproyect — April 27, 2017 @ 11:19 am

  8. Is it your opinion that I am a conspiracist because I think the opponents of the Syrian government are supported by the western powers, and include others like Turkey, the KSA, Israel, as well as that friend of the working person, our dear host, Louis.
    Where on earth do they get all those TOW missiles from?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 28, 2017 @ 3:28 am

  9. I intended a question mark after your name, Louis.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 28, 2017 @ 5:25 am

  10. Yeah, maybe you’re right. You aren’t a conspiracist but you don’t seem to be very informed about Syria for someone who keeps commenting on it.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 28, 2017 @ 12:36 pm

  11. I don’t count myself among those who are well informed about current events in Syria. There are not many who are, in my view. That is why I ask questions, which is mostly what I have done here. Would you say that the opponents of the government in Syria are not supported by and receiving aid from the USA, England, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel? Maybe you are not saying that. It’s hard to know because you don’t answer most of my questions.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 29, 2017 @ 1:26 am

  12. ‘U.S troops drove through Qamishli today – part of which is still controlled by the Assad regime – to deter Turkey border incursion.’ Supporting the Kurds. The Kurds have handed territory, taken back from IS, with USA help, to the regime. Would you say the regime is supported by, and receiving aid, from the US?

    Seems to me the interference of other countries has been decisive against the revolutionaries. Iran in 2012, Russia in 2015 have propped it up on the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Millions are refugees. Are you some kind of bibliophobe anyhow, Doug? There are a lot of books that could go into detail about the things you ask.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 29, 2017 @ 8:09 pm

  13. I am not at all surprised when some aspect of the US aids the Syrian government. But the main thrust of assistance, that looks different. Some of the special forces directed to train the opposition spoke out about how they thought they had been directed to train terrorists. People on the ground sometimes counter their orders.
    I don’t know what happened at Khan Sheikhoun, and probably never will. I acknowledge the possibility that the SAA might have dropped sarin. More likely in my view it was something else, but the certain evidence is lacking. It seems like you do know.
    There is a (very small) part of me that envies your naievety.

    Bibliophobe, that’s a good one, but no, I worked at a library for 17 years and loved it.

    Please note, I have not called you a factophobe, but that is what I generally think of true believers.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — April 30, 2017 @ 6:22 am

  14. Naievety. Is that how educated ex-librarian bibliophiles spell? I don’t think so. Its naivety, Doug. Its a label that fits those who swallow Fascist propaganda rather well. What is lacking is evidence for your hunch that ‘it was something else’. Perhaps the children were not ‘really dead’, as Assad creepily wondered in his TV interview. The regime changed their stories , there was the chemical warehouse one, what do you reckon, eh, Doug? Perhaps it was that. There is absolutely no part of me that envies your credulous senility.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 30, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

  15. And just a note Doug, because I’ve read Clay Claibornes latest piece and it has a horrific photo that reminds me of one of your Putinist troll like remarks about head choppers, to remind you that the major perpetrators of civilian killings by far, are the regime and its allies.

    As for your assertion that the US has been aiding AQ terrorism I find that rather specious. Train and equip , the idea to create a small army of fighters tasked to fight IS was a debacle, yes , but hardly evidence of deliberate AQ/US collusion. ‘180 Syrians in total graduated from the program’. ‘New Syrian Forces recruits were asked to sign a pledge forswearing any intent to use their martial skills or any US provided gear to go after any Assad regime targets. They were only authorised to fight IS.'(Weiss/Hassan ‘IS Inside the army of terror’ p.278) When Syrians main problem was with the regime, it seems proof to me of the US Obama administrations ‘one-eyed’ policy, so determined not to do anything against the regime, Iran, or Russia, the chief terrorists in the conflict. Trump is incoherent also but also against those who seek a new Syria.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 30, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

  16. What else is naive Doug, is thinking Assad regime is the opposite to AQ/IS. A bit of history, ( from a talk by Charles Lister)

    2003 – as American troops prepared to invade Iraq, the Grand Mufti in Syria , the Assad Grand Mufti, issued a fatwa declaring it a religious duty on all Muslims globally to kill Americans in Iraq. An Assad regime instruction essentially. Within days of US invasion of Iraq 5,000 jihadists flew into Aleppo and Damascus and were bussed, in Syrian government buses, to Iraq border and crossed from Syria into Iraq. In the following years hundreds of American soldiers were killed by Assad regime assistance to IS in Iraq, IS predecessor movement.

    In 2011 as the regime arrested pro-democracy protestors, it released jihadis. Two of the seven founding members of the AQ affiliate in Syria were released from Assad regime prisons as the protests began.

    If you are against terrorism you should not be so naive as to regard Assad regime and Putin and Nasrallah and Khamenei as the enemies of terrorism.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 30, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

  17. My, my. You seem to have an excess of bile, Matthew. Thanks for the spelling lesson. If you look back, you will see it is similar to the mistakes you yourself have made. I do not claim to be smart. I also never claimed to be a librarian. Almost 80% of us were clerical staff. An excellent illustration of how you have come to the conclusions you hold. By jumping.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 3:10 am

  18. Umm, could you remind me of where I naively said “(the)Assad regime and Putin and so on” were “enemies of terrorism”? You see, I don’t remember saying that, and that is not how I see things.
    I can’t be certain, but strongly suspect Putin has ordered such actions. As far as I can see most states act like that, if they can.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 5:22 am

  19. Well I’m sorry Doug if I caricature your views. It seems to me if , in spite of much evidence to the contrary, and in spite of Ghouta chemical attacks ( or does that look suspicious to you too? I mean after all, theres Hersh , and the world isn’t black or white is it ? etc etc ), you think the latest sarin attack was ‘likely not ‘ the work of the regime, then I put you in the pro-Putin, pro-Assad camp. And it was silly of me to try and make you feel stupid for a spelling mistake, when it isn’t spelling that makes me think you are stupid at all, it is much rather when you write stuff like the chemical attack was ‘likely not ‘ the regime and also writing , almost proudly, that you are not well informed. Well you won’t be if you don’t read books and the past blog posts here for example will you? Which is again why I suggested you read some fucking books. Or watch films, theres one on the White Helmets on Netflix I think at the moment. You do seem prejudiced, like Chomsky, and like Corbyn in Britain against the civilians of Syria that opposed the will of the regime, Iran and Russia. Anyhow this is petty. Read Weiss/Hassan Hassan on IS. It’s interesting.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 10:40 am

  20. I’ll see if I can find it.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

  21. You should be able to find it, I’ve told you the authors names, Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. Also try and read HRW report on chemical weapons use by Syrian regime. Khan Sheikhoun, you say you don’t know what happened, but you reckon it was probably not the regime, ‘more likely it was something else.’ But in spite of your ignorance things are known. HRW say the evidence all points to it being a sarin attack using a Soviet made air dropped chemical bomb. Specifically a KHAD250. Remnants include the green paint , a signifier for chemical bombs, and a smaller circular metal object, the cap covering the filling holes of the KHAD250 have been recovered. Also evidence of sarin use by regime on December 11, 12 , 2016 and on March 30 2017 at al-Latamineh. Always in areas where airfields are threatened by opposition. Its kind of stupid of you to write here ‘ I don’t read and stuff, Im pretty ignorant about Syria, I think most people are , but I reckon , I reckon those 92 people killed at Khan Shekhoun, I reckon it weren’t the regime, you know what I reckon , I reckon…blah blah .’ Can’t you see how fucking stupid that is.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

  22. KhAB bombs.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 3:59 pm

  23. Well, now that you’ve quoted me I can clearly see just how stupid I was to write that. Obviously I should be more careful when I’m expressing myself.
    To be honest, my memory is far from perfect. Could you point out where I actually wrote what you’ve quoted? I’m just clutching at straws here, but is it possible you’ve taken me out of context?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 6:44 pm

  24. I was quoting you like a method actor, trying to get inside what passes for your mind. The spirit of what Ive quoted you as saying, that is the kind of thing you write here. ‘I don’t count myself among those who are well informed about current events in Syria. There are not many who are, in my view. [-] don’t know what happened at Khan Sheikhoun, and probably never will… the SAA might have dropped sarin. More likely in my view it was something else, but the certain evidence is lacking. ‘ You see, that is the exactly quoted drivel you write. And meantime you make every effort it seems to stay ignorant, not read anything that will disturb your ridiculous amour propre, your self satisfied arrogant assumption that your ‘above the fray’ sardonic ‘questions’ and ‘questioning’ are actually the height of intelligence. They aren’t, it isn’t. Read the HRW report. Don’t remain stupid all your life.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

  25. I have about as much trust in HRW as I do in Vanessa Beeley. Very little. I’m starting to understand how you have become so well informed. By accepting every bit of propaganda your side dishes out. I question the veracity of all reports from those involved in conflict. So I’m uninformed. And you’re misinformed.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

  26. “I have about as much trust in HRW as I do in Vanessa Beeley.”

    Really? Did Beeley ever write about Assad in the way that HRW has written about the Syrian rebels?


    Comment by louisproyect — May 1, 2017 @ 9:08 pm

  27. In my opinion you calling HRW part of a ‘side’, shows how deep in the fringe-y fascistic Assadist miasma you are.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 9:34 pm

  28. Yeah, Doug is a regular commenter at Off-Guardian, a really filthy Assadist/911 Truther outlet.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 1, 2017 @ 9:37 pm

  29. “Did Beeley ever write….the way HRW writes about the Syrian rebels?” I very much doubt it.
    Tom Malinowski has had an interesting career. No possible bias there. Are you kidding?
    And let’s not forget Kenneth Roths’ tweet wondering if an (illegal) symbolic bombing would be enough.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 1, 2017 @ 10:04 pm

  30. Oh, I see. I just looked at their home page . Says, ‘We believe in the concept of truth itself — not merely in that of competing narratives — and in the sanctity of facts themselves.’ Sound like a bunch of self righteous Fascist wankers to me and Doug seems to me to just keep saying no-one can know any facts for sure. Kind of the opposite to their sanctimonious ‘credo’. I won’t waste any more time typing on responding to his stupid remarks. Anyway, I still read the Guardian , Martin Chulov is a great journalist, so I must count among the lost to that kind of fanatic.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 1, 2017 @ 10:08 pm

  31. Doug, you still haven’t answered my question. HRW writes about rebel war crimes while Vanessa Beeley is in the business of absolving Assad of every single atrocity from sarin gas attacks to bombing hospitals. She is like the people who used to defend Stalin in the 1930s. I really have no idea what your politics are but you seem to have trouble distinguishing between right and wrong. Were you always such a fuckwit or did this begin with Syria?

    Comment by louisproyect — May 1, 2017 @ 10:16 pm

  32. Louis, do you have difficulty reading?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 2, 2017 @ 5:18 am

  33. What bothers me about you Doug is that you say you care about facts but your , as you see it, refusal to be duped, leads only to you siding with the biggest perverters of facts. In WW2 a parallel ‘Doug’ could have posted smarmy remarks in newspaper columns to the effect that while he conceded it was certainly possible there were injustices to Jews in the eastern areas of Europe, we lacked facts, OffGuardian certified facts, and then the Allies were also setting up camps, there was one on the Isle of Man that ‘Doug’ knew of, and well, sad to say, there was propaganda around on all sides. This parallel ‘Doug’ would have been the biggest Fascist dupe and useless Fascist shill in the world. You are wilfully ignorant. Politically its nihilist. Impossible ever to think you ever get any understanding wrong, because you keep your understanding deliberately obfuscated and fuzzy and permanently interrogative. But if I had to place you in that great tragedy of political interrogation, ‘Hamlet’, I’d say you aren’t Hamlet, you are Osric.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 2, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

  34. Matthew, do you recollect Martin Luther King called the the US government the greatest purveyor of violence in the world? I think he was right, and I think he still is.
    The elites in the US learned a lot from Vietnam. Most of all they learned how they must shape the narrative. The babies thrown from incubators in Kuwait – that really was well done. Colin Powells’ speech to the UN. Judith Miller. Panama. The place once known as Yugoslavia. Look up what happened to Milosovitch. Look up what happened to the mines and industries, and who owns them now. I am not saying he was a good guy. What I am saying is when we see stories about how monstrous someone is, comparing them to Hitler, it means someone here wants something there.
    I don’t like empire.
    What bothers me about you is the fact that you learn nothing from history. I’m guessing you’re a US citizen. (If not I apologize.) Since 1945 how many countries invaded? How many bombed? How many governments overthrown? Assasinations? How many US government officials charged with war crimes?
    But it’s different this time. You think?

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 2, 2017 @ 5:56 pm

  35. I’m a British citizen. You think Assad is some kind of Mossadeq? I don’t see anything in the lines you have written but an extended kind of ‘what-about-ery’. And I don’t see any ‘shaping of the narrative’ in reportage of what has happened in Syria. The sarin attack for you, is just another chance to demonise the fair Assad? Is that the kind of thing you think. If there is news of barrel bombs and mass torture and sarin bombs, it isn’t because there are barrel bombs, and mass torture and sarin bombs, it’s because ‘someone here wants something there’. And HRW are in on the act? I think you are a kind of useful idiot, or useless idiot, for regimes that really do , totally, viciously, systematically, control narratives. You are the kind of person that made Solzhenitsyn tear his hair out, you have freedom to write and think as you wish, and you use it to piss on freedom, to succour dictators, to write crap, to think crap. Still, thats your freedom.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — May 2, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

  36. As you are free to beat your war drum. I actually know someone who still thinks there are nuclear weapons hidden in Iraq. Reminds me of you.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 3, 2017 @ 12:39 am

  37. Matthew, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I have a much better understanding of your point of view, which I believe is shared by many, likely most.
    You have said you think I am stupid. While I think you are mistaken in some of your beliefs I nonetheless see you as being quite intelligent.
    Thank you too, Louis, for providing the space for what I have found to be a useful conversation.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — May 3, 2017 @ 6:06 am

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