Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Only in America

June 14, 2016

The mass murder in Orlando staggers Europeans and indeed all people of conscience who value human life and dignity.

It points to the brokenness of the US political system and the dumbing down of the electorate under turbo-capitalism. In T.S. Eliot’s words masses of the country are “distracted from distraction by distraction.” Sports, pop celebrity culture, Facebook increasingly take the place of any critical thinking. Reagan, Bush and Trump are all you need to know.


And now Hilary Clinton bought and paid for by Wall Street and AIPAC>

This is a country with a military budget, driven by fear and paranoia, which literally strangles human development and socially progressive initiatives which make for a healthy society.

Budgets are moral documents and the US budget annually shows the bankruptcy of a country whose government has turned its back on national health, education and the common good. The wealthiest country in the history of the world for decades has abandoned the sick, the aged and the young. The latter can not afford a real education, one which other European countries readily grant their citizens. These jurisdictions understand what the real wealth of a nation is—its people and the nourishing of their dignity and talents.


The US Congress and Senate, hostages to money and influence, have betrayed their people, their health, their future and the environment which sustains everything.

The Obama administration, conjointly with Congress (in a rare act of bipartisan solidarity) has refused to do anything about the availability of murderous weapons in the hands of lost boys and the mentally ill. They have been dragged kicking and screaming into fessing up to their callous disregard to our fundamental economy, the ecology which underpins everything. These same sell outs to lucre and legal graft, has provided billions of American tax payer dollars in military aid, standard diplomatic immunity at the UN security council to the deadly occupying of Palestinian land. These political cowards has left Israel to do as it wishes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and especially Gaza. Every year they have remained silent over violations of international law by Israel

Once again: It’s the occupation, stupid

June 12, 2016

Another horrible attack in Israel on June 8 which killed 4 Tel Aviv citizens.
Another blinkered and stupid israeli response.–revenge and collective punishment.
Why is it that intelligent people whose forebears suffered repression and occupation can not understand what precipitates violence. The same people which celebrate Hanukkah, the revolt of the maccabees and also the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto in April 1943 cannot understand the idea of resistance to massive injustice.

More and more one can understand Israeli writer Gideon levy’s oft quoted analysis—Israelis are the most brainwashed people on earth, a citizenry which has gorged itself on the powerful government decades old propaganda.Arabs they believe are congenitally anti-Semitic. for no reason they murder jews. what kind of bizarre thinking is this?
Israel is becoming a sad caricature of the person who buries his head in the sand.


But outside Israel thanks to electronic devices, more and more people are witnessing a callous, brutal state which periodically “mows the grass” of a people with no army, no missiles, no Apache helicopters or Merkava tanks.


As the man said, “it is not going down well” , In the rest of the world people have eyes to see.

In Tel Aviv, the mayor literally spit in the face of the oafish PM Netanyahu:
Ron Huldai pointed squarely back at Israel’s occupation as the root cause of violence.
Israel is “maybe the only country in which another people is under occupation and in which these people have no rights,” he told army radio:
“We can’t keep these people in a reality in which they are occupied and [expect] them to reach the conclusion that everything is alright and that they can continue living this way.”
And to add more clarity, one of the parents of the deceased said, “Last night, after the attack, the prime minister and two of his ministers arrived and yet another security cabinet issued decrees – not to return corpses, to put up barriers, to destroy houses, and to make lives harder, “These solutions create suffering, hatred, despair and [lead] to more people joining the circle of terror.What’s needed is a solution rather than saying all the time that there’s nobody.”
The solution: end the occupation.

Governor Cuomo turtles on justice

June 9, 2016


New York stands for  injustice

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has just played politics and spat in the face of democracy when in the most Jewish constituency in America, New York State he issued an executive order to push through a McCarthyite attack on a movement for Palestinian justice. Cuomo did not have the guts to go through his own legislature to pull this stunt—the same one which was rejected by the Ontario legislature. Led by MPPs Mike Colle and Tim Hudak the Ontario House rejected the banning of BDS, a tried and true nonviolent response to Israel’s consistent flouting of international law.

Robert Kennedy was the senator from New York when in 1968 he was gunned down by a Palestinian American for his blinkered approach to Palestinian rights. Kennedy was playing politics like Cuomo and  Hilary Clinton over a people’s democratic rights. Kennedy’s murder was a heinous act totally unjustified. It was  however in 1968 almost 50 years ago when Palestinian rights were invisible and kennedy needed Jewish support.  Today the world has seen through Israeli propaganda which ruled the media for far too long. Today with the advance of computer technology, hand held devices, and social media the brutal oppression, the shocking over the top bombardment of innocents in Gaza has woken people up to this festering wound of a besieged people. Yet political hacks like Clinton, Cuomo and US legislatures continue to enable Israel’s brutal occupation.


Boycotts have long been a tactic of social justice movements to bring about urgently needed change for a more just and equal society, and the movement for Palestinian rights should not be singled out.


This executive Cuomo order which will never stand up to a legal challenge shows how out of touch the political leadership is with the growing numbers of Americans who support the use of nonviolent tactics to achieve freedom and equality for Palestinians.

Blue Jays cave to American Militarism

May 31, 2016


How low can you go? they are at it again.This time We the South.Why a Canadian ball team has to genuflect to US nonsense, especially after the chaos the empire created in the Middle East. What gives?

Smedley Butler where are you when we need you?

I was disgusted decades ago when the Blue Jays opened their season on Good Friday. Is nothing sacred? Answer no, of course not. We would not think of practicing on Good Friday when I was running ball teams for the Knights of Columbus. It just wasn’t done but as they say that was then and this is now. But then I taught in a Catholic school where the obtuse VP got on the PA and on Holy Thursday and wished the student body, “a good long weekend.”
Now Major League baseball ordered the teams to dress in military camouflage to celebrate Memorial Day last Monday, a holiday unheard of in Canada.
More of the cloying uber-patriotism the USA is famous for but which used to be frowned on in Canada. A few years ago the ugly Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had a fan ejected when the poor sap never got up to sing America the Beautiful at the seven inning stretch.
All of this is post 9/11 nonsense.


The caps and jerseys featured “an authentic military digital camouflage design licensed from the U.S. Marine Corps in honor of Memorial Day,” according to Major League Baseball. The Blue Jays Canadianized it by using “a camouflage design based on the Canadian Disruptive Pattern (“CADPAT”) used by Canadian Forces.”
Stephen Harper would have loved this suck up to the Yanks. First we had “the highway of heroes” for the 401, then a bloated military budget and now this hokey genuflection to the military. Don Cherry presumably was over the top.



As Pierre Trudeau once said, it’s tough when the mouse lives next to the elephant. The consumer BS does not recognize the 49th parallel and all this disgusting militarism finds its way here and we go along with it.
Shame on the Blue Jays for capitulating.


Next year I suggest every fan gets one page handout on Memorial Day.This one from a real patriot.Smedley Darlington Butler was a United States Marine Corps major general  at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. Smedley had been used in typical imperial misadventures in the Philipines and Nicaragua and he saw through the propganda lies couched in the usual nationalist cant. On his retirement he wrote a book War is a Racket



“Go to Hamas”

May 28, 2016

Poor Miriam, such a decent person. She came to Israel full of hope, did everything right then she watched the whole thing unravel. Bigoted Arab haters took over her government, men who  were racist and had lost the deep respect for humanity at the heart of Judaism. Imagine living in a country when a vicious brute like Ariel Sharon ould become your Prime Minister, then now living under Benjamin Netanyahu. She scans the landscape and cringes as her hoped-for democratic country continues its oppression of Palestinian people.

What’s a good woman to do? “Go to Hamas or Gaza” because she is apprently an Arab lover. No she is a good woman  who grants dignity to all people. She is heartsick. She writes her cri de coeur to that fine newspaper, Haaretz.Intelligent people read this paper so Miriam writes to it. Now unknown to North americans there is A rag called Israel Hayom, a free paper purchased by the American idolator of Netanyahu, the casino  magnate Sheldon Adelson. 40% of Israelis pick up this propaganda sheet and only 5% of israelis read a real paper like Haaretz. So Miriam writes. She is now 75 and still hopes for the best.


From Holocaust to rebirth to occupation

I am a Holocaust survivor, born in Belgrade in 1940, and my childhood was spent in the ghetto and in a Budapest hospital under an assumed name. My life essentially began in 1948 when I immigrated to Israel. Here my family and I built our lives with difficulty and distress, without help from the establishment although the Israeli government had committed in the Reparations Agreement to rehabilitate us. I served in the Armored Corps, studied social work, and my husband and I were among the first residents of Arad.

My children served in the army, and I never – until the past few years – felt alienated or unaffiliated with the state in which I was assured a life of freedom as a Jew. In recent years, as I get older, I have encountered people’s hatred of my views on the bus, in the grocery store and in the mall, a hatred that sometimes is expressed in remarks like, “Go to Gaza, to Hamas.” To this we must add the politicians’ use of agitation and hatred for political purposes.

In this atmosphere I feel persecuted once more. We are not victims. A people that conquers another people, a nation that has a strong army, isn’t permitted to use the Holocaust to justify its actions. Every day I feel the evil spirits wafting through the country. I feel like an unwanted outsider, and, sad to say, I’m also afraid. Maj. Gen. Yair Golan was correct. As the man responsible for all our children he had to say what he did. Hatred of the stranger, the occupation, an unwillingness to accept those with different views – these are all foundations of a fascist movement. We must stop this immediately, because if we don’t, it won’t help our leaders to use the Holocaust to stop the criticism from the free world, which will justifiably condemn these phenomena.

Miriam Handelman Bat Yam
May 23, 2016

The United States of Amnesia

May 27, 2016


Comes another independent film not coming to a cinema near you. Everywhere the landscape is changing. More and more people seeing through the incessant drumbeat of Israeli lies, its craven enablers in the US media and Congress. Church organizations (except the somnolent Catholic church) at the national level are supporting Boycott Divestment Sanctions against the apartheid state. More unions are on board, campuses are buzzing with BDS activity and most worrying to Israel are the Jewish millenials who can no longer stomach the evisceration of the Jewish ethical life.
People in general are less afraid of being tagged anti-Semitic in spite of tremendous pressure. The mood seems to be changing at long last. A lie can not simply last forever. Connections are being made in the USA between between police violence in the cities here and military violence against Palestinians. More and more people are understanding that urban police departments in the USA have been trained by the experts—Israelis who have ben past masters at penning up an occupied population.


The ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and its repeated invasions of the Gaza strip have triggered a fierce backlash against Israeli policies virtually everywhere in the world — except the United States. The Occupation of the American Mindtakes an eye-opening look at this critical exception, zeroing in on pro-Israel public relations efforts within the U.S. Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor.


You can own a copy of this important film
The Occupation of the American Mind provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people — a battle that has only intensified over the past few years in the face of widening international condemnation of Israel’s increasingly right-wing policies. (Running time: 85 mins)
FEATURING (partial list):
• ROGER WATERS, the narrator of The Occupation of the American Mind.
• AMIRA HASS is the correspondent for the Occupied Territories for Haaretz.
• STEPHEN M. WALT is Professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
• NOAM CHOMSKY is a leading U.S. political theorist and activist, and institute professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
• HENRY SIEGMAN is a research professor in the Middle East Program at SOAS at the University of London.
• RASHID KHALIDI is currently Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University.
• RAMI KHOURI is the Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.
• NORMAN FINKELSTEIN is an American political scientist, activist, and author of numerous books on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
• MAX BLUMENTHAL is an award-winning journalist for The Nation magazine and New York Times bestselling author of several books.
• PHYLLIS BENNIS is a writer, activist, and policy analyst on Middle East and UN issues.
• MARK CRISPIN MILLER is professor of media studies at New York University and one of America’s foremost authorities on advertising, public relations, and political propaganda.

Praise for The Occupation of the American Mind
“I wish every American would watch this powerful documentary. Not only every person of conscience, but every taxpayer, must see it — and then ask themselves if the status quo is acceptable and can continue deep into the 21st century.” Gideon Levy, columnist for Haaretz
“Harrowing and incendiary! A vital and unmissable film.” Dave Zirin, The Nation magazine
“One of the most compelling and important documentaries in recent years, because it helps us make sense of the lies, mayhem, and injustice in the heart of the Middle East: Palestine. … watch this film.” John Pilger, journalist and filmmaker
“A remarkable achievement. Anyone who wishes to understand the deeper reasons for America’s utter failure to bring peace to the region should begin by watching this powerful film.” Avi Shlaim, Professor Emeritus, Oxford
“A superb documentary that makes a devastatingly persuasive case that the U.S. public is being systematically subjected to disinformation from its media on the Israel-Palestine conflict.” Jonathan Cook, journalist, author
“A powerful film that exposes an infuriating reality. You cannot watch this film without grieving for the Palestinians, for the propaganda we’ve been subjected to … ” Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink
“Not only land, but also minds can be colonized. The brilliance of this documentary is that it manages to tell the story of both forms of colonization simultaneously.” Neve Gordon, Professor of Politics, Ben-Gurion University

“As courageous as it is informative, brilliantly produced and faithful to its search for the truth, it makes clear how the current right-wing government in Israel has weaponized knowledge …” Henry Giroux, McMaster University

The solution: move Israel to USA

May 19, 2016

courtesy of Truthdig and Norman Finkelstein

In an interview with Open Democracy, Finkelstein, who regards the image as “funny” and a “joke,” remarked, “As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour. It’s inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map.”


Omar Barghouti banned in Israel

May 16, 2016

Well, they are at it again. Yep, it’s Israel, ”the only democracy in the Middle East.” What a joke. The latest embarrassment is the travel banning of Omar Barghouti the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Barghouti like others before him is a particular danger to Israel as he is a fluent English speaking activist who has carried BDS around the world.


In former years Israel simply expelled Palestinian leaders who were gaining nonviolent traction among the masses. The most famous case was that of Mubarak Awad(simply Google him). There are many nonviolent actions even today in Israel but the western press refuses to give them the press they merit.


All the while you have a nonviolent actor like Barghouti who is punished for advocating peaceful stratagems like BDS. Israel will do anything to stop him and BDS.In the USA we see desperate attempts to criminalize such an nonviolent movement


Barghouti, born in Qatar, lived in Egypt but moved to Jaffa and has lived without incident in ACRE for 22 years. He is married to a Palestinian Israeli citizen and has what is called a “visa of permanent residency” but needs official permission to travel outside Israel.

Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.” She added: “Israel has used this sort of control to arbitrarily ban many Palestinians from traveling, as well as to ban international human rights monitors, journalists and activists from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”


Silence from the EU and USA.they love the murdered Jesus, Gandhi and King, the nonviolent martyrs, but turn their backs on a living actor, a true champion of nonviolent,civilian led tribune of the people.
Barghouti remains nonplussed.

“By repeating platitudes about Palestinian human rights but then persistently failing to criticize Israel when it denies them, the US administration is protecting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid from accountability. In effect, this administration is giving Israel a tacit green light to violently repress Palestinian, Israeli, American and other human rights defenders who are struggling nonviolently for the realization of Palestinian rights under international law through the time-honored tactics of boycott and divestment. With  the “pernicious rise of the influence of the far-right, settler-dominated Israeli government in the US Congress in recent years, the US administration has surrendered any attempts to hold Israel to account, even when it undermines US policy interests.”

To the consternation of hardline, out of touch Jewish organizations, young millenial Jews are more and more supporting the BDS nonviolent alternative.


Jewish Voice for Peace spokesperson Rebecca Vilkomerson said she hoped activists would “flood Secretary Kerry’s office with tens of thousands of messages” because “this is more than just an attack on one political leader. It’s an attack on the right to nonviolently organize for justice, freedom and equality.”


Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads the global BDS movement, said:


“Having failed to stop the growth of BDS in the mainstream, Israel is now launching a desperate and dangerous global war of repression on the movement. After losing many battles for the hearts and minds at the grassroots level, Israel and its well-oiled lobby groups are pressuring western states to implement patently anti-democratic measures that threaten civil liberties at large.
By banning our colleague Omar Barghouti from traveling and threatening him with physical violence, Israel is showing the lengths it will go to in order to stop the spread of the non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice

Racist murder in Israel

May 5, 2016


On March 24 a 19 year old Israeli medic-soldier and French citizen Elor Azarya was filmed summarily executing Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif an incapacitated Palestinian who lay wounded in the occupied city of Hebron where the IDF defends 600 illegal settlers in a Palestinian city of 220,000.This cowardly act flying in the face of all Hippocratic oaths that medics especially should attend the wounded, went viral. The murder was filmed by a “Jew of conscience” who worked for B’Tselem the Israeli human rights group.

Shockingly, a petition defending this sick man proliferated within a few minutes and a poll revealed that 82% of Israelis supported the execution. Rallies were held all over Israel. At a rally in Rabin Square Azarya’s mother, Oshra Azarya, who previously had written on Facebook to kill Palestinian mothers and children , broke down when she spoke of her son’s “angel eyes”.

The  mother wrote to the paper Ya’alon “I am the mother of the soldier that you sent on a mission to protect the country’s citizens and you have abandoned him. A mother who sent her son to protect the country and its citizens, and the establishment reciprocates by firing back and silencing his voice. I am the mother of the 19-year-old boy who is standing alone in front of the political and military leadership and can’t take it on.”

To bring a more sobering view on this shockingly brutal act Gideon Levy wrote on March 27:

It was murder. It was murder of the most abominable kind, the murder of a helpless human being. It was murder committed by a cowardly soldier, who shot a wounded man. The murderer’s accomplices were those colleagues of his who said “it’s no big deal” and the officers who spoke on their cellphones or occupied themselves in a thousand different ways while the wounded man lay helpless. The soldier shot him in the head and his body was left bleeding on the road.

Levy increasingly is the voice of sanity in racist Israel.  The brave Haaretz reporter spoke the truth about Israel, the great democracy’s penchant for extra judicial killings.
The momentary storm that erupted in Israel is a self-righteous one. This is exactly what the extrajudicial killings over the past months have looked like – the only difference was the B’Tselem camera. There were plenty of testimonies and evidence about these killings, but Israelis chose to close their eyes. As in previous incidents, the wounded man lying on the road was no threat to anyone – and no shrewd lawyer will be able to convince a decent judge that the soldier fired because he felt that his life was threatened.

The question raised by Levy is What has happened to us. What kind of people cheer on a murderer? A murder that required no courage, a cowardly act of the highest order, has become heroic in the eyes of the masses, simply because it ended with a dead Palestinian bleeding on the road to the sound of their rejoicing.


HEROFor this longtime observer of the country he loves as an israeli patriot,”Israeli racism has reached a new peak….Israel is probably the most racist country in the world… These are deep currents that are difficult to stop. They have settled deep in people’s hearts, the result of decades of incitement and brainwashing.”

The Selfie Banality of Evil

May 1, 2016


Once a week the brave Christian Peacemaker Team sends out photos of the Occupation.

This one particularly grabbed and infuriated me.
I immediately sent it on to some friends with the following commentary:

Look at these dumb brainwashed Israeli soldiers taking selfies in the Palestinian city of Hebron where about 600 settlers are “protected” from 215,000 Palestinians. Observe the two Palestinian men looking on, humiliated by these immature conscripts. CPT wrote that “The men were detained for over an hour, while one was released after 40 minutes. One of the men was taken behind the container to be body searched. Meanwhile, these soldiers ensured that they captured their role in this humiliating, infuriating and violating occupation for social media.

These soldiers probably about age 19 doing their 2 years of service in the IDF (males do 3) have no idea that pictures like this are accelerating the demise of Zionism. They are totally unaware that their immature frivolity is purchased at the expense of another people. A decade from now at least two of them will be deeply embarrassed at their gross insensitivity. This selfie taken by bored kids in an army of Occupation has wings and a voice, the same one that came from Sinai, ”Let my people go.”

A day later on the website Mondoweiss ( the same picture was produced with the excellent caption The Banality of Evil.

Following the brief description several comments were posted:

• April 29, 2016, 1:25 pm
this photo should be on the front page of the nyt in all its banal, evil and lascivious glory

John O April 29, 2016, 1:53 pm
You’re right, DaBakr. High time more people saw what an ill-disciplined rabble the IDF are.
oldgeezer April 29, 2016, 7:56 pm
In the nyt version the Palestinians would be airbrushed out and the selfie used to demonstrate how western and girlish they are. How wholesome. What kind of depraved values were these young people raised with. Disgusting. The decent people in Israel need bodyguards. Only the rotting core is left besides those few courageous souls.

Refaat April 29, 2016, 3:29 pm

As a Palestinian kid growing up in occupied Gaza during the first Intifada, I have seen people arrested, killed, injured, and beaten. It was horrible. But what still sticks with my 20 years later are the regular sessions of humiliation at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces. Sometimes they would beat us for the fun it. Sometimes they would line us up and, smiling, a soldier would try to slap two or three of us with one hit. The others stood their giggling. That was one major reason why I threw stones at the passing Military jeeps later on.

• Kate April 30, 2016, 6:55 am

Thank you Refaat. Don’t know how you endured that – humiliation is often worse than injury and is inexcusable at any time. I have not forgotten or forgiven instances of humiliation that happened to me decades ago, and most were not as bad as what happened to you since there was usually less of an audience
I wonder if the Israelis have any idea how much hatred they engender with this behavior? Apparently not, since they continue to blame ‘incitement’ for any Palestinian resistance.


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