‘It stops today!’ — Eric Garner, NYPD victim
reposted from http://www.SocialistAction.org
By CLAY WADENA
“Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today! I’m minding my business, please just leave me alone.”
— Eric Garner, Rest In Power, killed by NYPD July 17, 2014.
Eric Garner’s last words ring with righteous anger, disgust, desperation, and fatigue. Garner spoke for generations of Black and Brown people who have been subjected to America’s constant surveillance, intimidation, harassment, and brutality.
Ramsey Orta, explaining why he recorded the video of Garner’s death at the hands of the NYPD, said at a recent rally: “I watched that man [Garner] get harassed by police for four years and I had to do something.” Now, a New York coroner has validated what any honest individual saw when they viewed the video: Garner was killed by a chokehold (an illegal technique for police to use since 1993 in New York). The Staten Island man, a father of six children, had been targeted by cops for allegedly selling untaxed single cigarettes on the street.
Garner’s family is understandably calling for charges to be filed against the officer who murdered him, Daniel Pantaleo, an officer with a history of abuse that includes strip-searching and assaulting people during illegal car stops in broad daylight (which led the city to settle out of court for $30,000).
Perhaps to make America’s judicial system seem just, mainstream headlines all prominently noted that Officer Pantaleo had his gun and badge “stripped” from him over his murder of Garner, as if that would be enough, or as if Pantaleo isn’t on paid administrative “desk duty” (he is).
In a further indictment of the horrible conditions faced by so many, it was revealed that emergency response personnel did not help Garner when they arrived. Instead, they stood by with police as he died. This has resulted in the suspension of four emergency response workers without pay (note that their punishment is worse than what Officer Pantaleo received).
In typical fashion, some articles attempted a smear job, noting Garner’s arrest history, or the criminal charges faced by Ramsey Orta. This is a common tactic of the mass incarceration era—to designate someone a criminal and then deny them their human rights.
Mayor Bill de Blasio jumped into damage control quickly, trying to back up his campaigning as a friend and ally of those harassed and brutalized by police. De Blasio postponed his Italy vacation for a day, issued statements that angered the police union, and in general was not such an openly rabid supporter of police brutality as former New York mayors Giuliani or Bloomberg.
Even the notorious chief of police, William Bratton, got into the act and stated that he anticipates that the entire 35,000-member police force will be retrained, and that when it is complete, New York City will have “state of the art” training. Problem solved, right?
Don’t be fooled. These hacks believe in a robust police and surveillance presence; they just prefer for it to appear a tad friendlier. When de Blasio appointed William Bratton as police chief, it was a clear indication that de Blasio had no intention of really changing the NYPD. Among other things, Bratton is fully committed to the “Broken Windows” style of policing, which focuses on small quality-of-life offenses to reduce crime overall.
“My neighborhood is like it’s under martial law,” said Angel Garcia, 34, of East Harlem (quoted in the New York Daily News, Aug. 4, 2014). Whatever the policing style is called—stop-and-frisk, Broken Windows, quality of life offenses—it all boils down to Garcia’s eloquent appraisal of the lived experience: “martial law.” It means constant harassment, assault, and even murder at the hands of NYPD, no matter what it’s called.
When the de Blasio administration was confronted by recent analysis by the Daily News that showed the racist nature of Broken Windows policing (81% of the 7.1 million people hit with petty infractions were African American or Latino), the mayor showed he has no intention of backing away. His spokeman, Phil Walzak ,responded that “Mayor de Blasio believes a number of the policing innovations created by the NYPD over the past two decades, including … a focus on quality-of-life offenses, have contributed to New York City becoming the safest big city in the nation.”
He added that de Blasio is “committed to employing strategies and making adjustments that build a spirit of cooperation and trust between the police and the communities they serve.” While ending Broken Windows policing, which de Blasio and Bratton are so committed to, would be a victory, it is highly likely that the policy would reappear in another form without a strong mass movement to enforce accountability.
On that note, a protest march has been announced by Garner’s family and the Rev. Al Sharpton for Aug. 23 across the Verrazano Bridge (as of press time, the details are not yet published). Any public expression of resistance to police brutality is worth attending, as it will take a broad mass movement in the streets to truly begin to change the debate and force meaningful change around police and the prison system.
We fight for important reforms in policing and prisons, while acknowledging that the tendency of current American capitalism, with its large number of surplus workers, will be towards brutal policing and mass incarceration. End police brutality! End mass incarceration! No justice, no peace!
Photo: July 22 march to 120th precinct police station in New York City demands justice for Eric Garner. John Minchillo / AP
What does Karl Marx have to do with Karl Lagerfeld
originally published in Socialist Action News and found at SocialistAction.org
By CHRISTINE MARIE
Tansey E. Hoskins clearly loves art, understands the impulse to body modification and sartorial statement, and can imagine a socialist society where the creativity of the vast majority will be unleashed to spectacular ends in clothing and many other spheres. She has also written the most devastating deconstruction of the fashion industry, as well as of the “ethical fashion movement,” to date. Her new book, “Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion” (London: Pluto Press, 2014), leaves no negative impact of the fashion industry unexamined. She expertly lays out the industry record regarding class differentiation, worker exploitation, imperialist underdevelopment, racial stereotyping, female self-loathing, environmental degradation, gender oppression, and artist cooptation.
What makes Hoskin’s book more than a very radical and comprehensive look at the world of haute couture, and its impact on the rest of us, is the fact that she can be enthralled by the collection of a sophisticated designer at the same time that she shows herself to be a revolutionary socialist who has absorbed the best that Marxism and feminism have to offer on this question and can argue persuasively that nothing short of a battle for socialism can right these wrongs.
To better arm her readers for that struggle, she explains Marxist concepts like commodity fetishism, alienation, ideology, use-value, surplus value, and the reserve army of labor, and interweaves the history of garment production from the beginning of the factory system to today. In short, she effectively answers her own question, “But what does Karl Marx have to do with Karl Lagerfeld?”
The fashion industry, Hoskin’s argues, “lays out in sharp relief all the ins and outs of capitalism—the drive for profit and its resulting exploitation, the power that comes from owning society’s means of production,” and its use of ideology to assert that “there is no alternative.” Fashion, like all art forms in capitalist society, is highly contradictory. Individual artists can create work that inspires dreams of a different kind of society, while, at the same time, the art system that abides that rebellion actually hides capitalism’s inherently destructive mode of functioning and its vulnerability to overthrow by the majority. Relentlessly examining the fashion world in its material context and refusing to let the endless contradictions resolve, Hoskins argues, is the kind of practice that makes historical agency, and ultimately liberation, possible.
Liberation from our own alienation, retail therapy, credit card debt, and body image issues, Hoskins explains, can only be won collectively and in solidarity with garment workers acting in their interest worldwide. While boycotts and consumer campaigns that accompanied the civil rights movement or farm worker organizing contributed to the morale and mobilization of many, there is no “ethical” fashion purchase that will materially reduce the evils of the fashion industry under capitalism.
No company that produces garments, no matter what their public relations or green-washing campaigns assert, can stay in business in this system unless it wins the costs of production war with its competitors. And these wars are carried out in the context of powerful militarized nation states negotiating trade rules in the interests of the ruling rich.
In the 1970s, the U.S., Europe, and Canada set self-serving quotas and tariffs under the auspices of the Multi Fibre Arrangement (MFA), an agreement whose terms determined where it was viable to produce garments and where it was not. Globally, countries like Bangladesh that were too poor to diversify their industry suddenly lost $7.3 billion a year. Others, like South Korea, were set up for profit-making. Still other locations, like Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth, became a giant compound housing tens of thousands of young, female, Chinese workers.
In 2005, the MFA ended, and within a few years, Saipan’s industry vanished, and the young women without the means to return to China became the base of Saipan’s sex tourism industry. This volatility is endemic to an industry that due to competition overproduces in nearly unimaginable numbers and survives on the creation of false need.
After 2008, when the ending of the MFA coincided with the global capitalist economic crisis and production slowed, 10 million workers in China, a third of the 30 million textile and garment workers, lost their jobs. The figure in India was one million, and in Cambodia 20 percent of that workforce. The overwhelming majority of these workers were women under the age of 40 years working in frequently deadly conditions like the Rana Plaza, where over a thousand women lost their lives last year in a building collapse and where sexual abuse is rampant.
To keep a penny ahead of the competition, the industry carries out “global scanning,” ready to move a room full of sewing machines in an instant, leaving chaos and women forced into further degradation or exploitation. Hoskins demonstrates, as well, that any claim by any name in the industry that they were unaware of any of these conditions is simply impossible.
Particularly effective is Hoskin’s depiction of the special environmental destruction of the cotton, textile, and garment industries. She describes the Aral Sea, once a home to 24 species of fish and families dependent on them, today a diseased salt-rock desert plagued by winds blowing carcinogenic pesticide dust into villages. The sea was drained to irrigate Uzbekistan’s 1.47 million hectares of cotton, as well as those in Turkmenistan, grown in unsustainable ways to feed the insatiable cheap for-profit garment industry.
China’s textile industry, which supplies most Western name brands, is considered the third worst polluter out of the country’s 39 spheres of production, due to the huge amount of water used for dying and finishing. Aldicarb, the pesticide that poisoned up to 15,000 people in Bhopal in 1984, is primarily used for cotton and is still being manufactured in the U.S., though pressure may force the cessation of production by 2015.
All this human suffering and violence to the planet contributes to profit making only by the creation of false needs, resulting in the production of 80 million tons of textiles and “throwaway” garments that could clothe the world many, many times over if distributed based on need. Yet, of course, they are not, since fashion is a trend-based industry that relies on selling billions of short-life units every season at maximum profit.
The United Kingdom, she tells us, deposits 4 million tons of textiles in landfills each year. According to Hoskins, annually turning 80 million tons of textiles into short use garments every year requires 1074 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, 132 million tons of coal, up to 9 trillion liters of water, and an incalculable amount of pesticide, dye, and metallic fasteners. For every kilogram of textiles produced, an average of 10 kg of chemicals are used.
Hoskins concludes, “This spells disaster for the environment and led Marx to describe capital as having a vampiric relationship with nature, ‘a living death maintained by sucking the blood from the world.’”
While not denying the impact on nature of the current setup, the green fashion book “Eco Chic,” Hoskins tells us, urges women to “buy less, spend more,” i.e., choose more expensive but better-made clothes. As comforting as this might be to those who can afford haute couture, the author, explains, high priced garments with designer labels are made in the same polluting factories as cheaper garments.
There is no buying strategy that can subvert the laws of production and profit making under capitalism. Rather, Hoskins says, the labor movement, because of the strategic place of workers in the whole rotten setup, is the critical element in the journey towards a just society where human needs, which dovetail with environmental health, come first. She may be able to convince your friends and coworkers as well.
Socialist Action photo by MARTY GOODMAN: Fashionistas pose for photographers as they enter awards gala for Bill Clinton and Haitian President Martelly, June 26 in New York City.
Justice for Palestine, Free Gaza
Rally and March in Hartford! Thursday July 31
“No More Money for Israeli War Crimes”, Rally and Speakers, then a March in Hartford
5pm – 6:30pm
More to be announced!
FB event page
By JEFF MACKLER
Originally posted at www.socialistaction.org
End U.S. aid to apartheid Israel! Stop the Zionist bombing of Gaza!
The U.S.-backed racist, colonialist, apartheid Zionist entity known as Israel is once again saturation bombing the Palestinian people and destroying the infrastructure of the world’s largest open air prison—the Gaza Strip—a slip of land roughly 26 miles long by 5.5 miles wide.
Gaza’s 1.82 million Palestinian residents, many driven by force and violence from their land and homes throughout historic Palestine over the past 66 years, are compelled to live in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Unemployment stands at 80 percent.
For the third time since Israel’s 2008-9 three-week air bombardment and ground occupation that slaughtered 1400 Palestinians (14 Israelis died), the beleaguered masses are being subjected to a murderous invasion of 50,000 Israeli “Defense” Force (IDF) troops, accompanied by tanks, and supported by massive air strikes, cross-border mortar and artillery bombardments, and unending offshore naval shelling from Israeli gunboats.
Israel employs one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful military apparatuses, replete with advanced fighter jets, helicopter gun ships, a naval armada and well-equipped land forces. And in turn, the Zionist state confronts a comparatively disarmed people. Even Israeli officials have mocked Gaza’s rocket-making capabilities as little more than the efforts of a cottage industry, which they contemptuously refer to as “high tech.” Most of the rockets used by Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, are homemade devices filled with fertilizer, ammonium compounds, and other explosive materials. Although some rockets, designed to emulate relatively sophisticated Syrian and Iranian models, have a range allowing them to reach most of Israel’s cities, they are notoriously inaccurate.
Casualties from the beginning of the Israeli aerial attacks on July 11 until the July 17 IDF invasion stood at 250 Palestinians dead, and thousands wounded and/or left homeless—in contrast to one Israeli killed. According to the UN, almost 80 percent of the deaths were civilians—including many children. Israel suffered not a single casualty via the 1500 Hamas rockets fired. The one Israeli dead was from a mortar fired across the border.
The first week of the land invasion saw the number of Palestinian deaths escalate to over 750—mainly civilians—with no end in sight for the carnage. Three hospitals and 15 other health facilities were hit by Israeli fire during the first week of the invasion, while nearly 500 houses were destroyed. Israeli tanks shelled the UN school in Beit Hanoun on July 24, killing at least 15 people. Many civilians were in the building at the time who had fled there for supposed safety after being driven from their homes by bombing.
Here’s an on-the-scene account from Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza City, written in the early hours of July 19: “The Israeli tanks and airforce are bombing continuously. They are targeting Al-Shajaiya neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City. The airforce is flying planes very low and they are shelling houses. They are shelling everywhere, hitting many houses. People are dying. The Israeli occupation dehumanizes us by killing us while we are sleeping.
“The ambulances are trying to reach the dead and injured and transfer them to hospitals but many ambulances couldn’t pass.
“Tens of wounded people, old and young, are stranded. The ambulances can’t reach them to help. Tens of bodies are in the street or buried in the rubble. My friend Hani is a father in Al-Shajaiya and his wife is pregnant. He called me and told me that it’s not possible for the ambulance to reach them. He is scared that they will die there before the ambulance reaches his family because there is bombing everywhere.
“The number of people killed is increasing every minute because medical teams can’t reach the area and people are bleeding. People are running, terrified in the streets. Many families, many children are leaving the Al-Shajaiya neighborhood coming to Gaza’s city center. Women, men, children are walking and running. I can see a woman carrying her baby and terrified children around her. They are running to escape the smell of death.
“The bombs and the shrapnel are falling like rain on us. They are made by your governments: England, USA, Australia, etc. It is better to use these funds for health and education.
“What kind of humanity is this? What kind of modern society is this? This is what the Israeli occupation is doing and all the while using propaganda to try to hide the truth. I call on everyone in this world; don’t say that you didn’t know. I am telling you right now and you can hear me. This occupation, this massacre, is protected by a silent world.
“Wake up. Don’t remain silent.”
What limited infrastructure existed in Gaza before this new Zionist war is today being systematically targeted, destroyed, or severed by Israel, including basic water supplies, sewage systems, and electricity generation. Even before the July 17 attack, 90 percent of Gaza’s water supply, heavily salinated and saturated with poisonous chemicals stemming from ground water seepage of fertilizers, was deemed by world experts as unfit for human consumption, if not for basic agriculture irrigation. Today, most Gazans are largely without any regular supply of water!
The people of Gaza have been subjected for decades to an Israeli embargo/blockade wherein even basic foodstuffs are frequently denied entry, as are essential medical supplies. More than half the population is dependent on UN relief agencies for elementary health care, education, and related social services. No other source of support is available or permitted by Israel.
Directly addressing the plight of Gaza’s people, Hamas spokesman Ismail Haniyeh listed 10 demands as conditions for a ceasefire. “We’ll never go back to the slow death,” Haniyeh said. “Our demands are fair and they are humane. Our people have decided.” The demands, all rejected by the Israeli government, are as follows:
• Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border.
• Freeing all the prisoners that were arrested after the killing of the three youths. (Some 800 were arrested by Israel police and IDF forces.)
• Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people.
• Establishing an international seaport and airport which would be under U.N. supervision.
• Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers.
• Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the UN and some Arab nations.
• International forces on the borders.
• Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
• Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement.
• Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials and media, pre-prepared with a canned rationale aimed at blaming the victims for the Zionist terror, insist that their main targets are tunnels—some from Gaza into Israeli territory and others into Gaza from Egypt, which are used to bring in the rockets being fired today. Yet, every report indicates that the real Israeli targets, in addition to Palestine’s vital infrastructure, are anyone that moves, including Palestinian children sitting on rooftops and children playing on beaches, not to mention residential communities.
According to the July 18 New York Times, General Moti Almoz, the chief Israeli military spokesman, stated, “I will now, uncharacteristically, ask the residents of Gaza to move away from the areas our forces are operating in—they are operating with extreme force” [Emphasis added]. The “generous” murderers sent robo-style phone calls to 100,000 Palestinian homes informing them that they had minutes to evacuate before mass bombings commenced.
Israeli officials insist that while they take precautions to avoid civilian casualties, this is difficult because the pea-shooter rockets are often fired from residential neighborhoods. This rational didn’t fly well with the relatively conservative British-based Human Rights Watch, whose representative, Peter Brouchaert, responded, “We don’t need statements of regret from Israel. We need investigation and an end to the killing.”
Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, speaking of a claimed tunnel from Gaza that supposedly led to an Israel border settlement, stated in a July 17 interview that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed great “restraint” and paid a high “political price” for not invading sooner. Oren added, “Essentially Hamas,” the elected governing party of the Palestine Authority in Gaza, “invaded Israel first.”(!)
The “political price” paid by the “civilized” Netanyahu meant that he had to endure the mad calls from fanatical right-wing Israeli groups that demanded blood, including slaughtering Palestinian women to stop them from reproducing more Palestinians. This kind of “dialogue” is not uncommon in Israel but largely excluded from the corporate media in the U.S. After all, Israel is a civilized nation!
Origins of the Israeli settler state
Israel did not exist before 1948, when the World War II imperialist victors, meeting at the United Nations, decreed that an Israeli state was to be carved out of historic Palestine, then a British “Mandate,” a polite imperialist word for colony. The Zionist colonizers were granted 56 percent of the country.
Great Britain originally “acquired” Palestine following the World War I conflagration and worldwide slaughter that resulted in the victors’ division of the vanquished Ottoman Empire. England and France, which in the 19thcentury had partaken in the colonial subjugation and division of Africa, set out to do the same in the Middle East. Pencils and pens in hand, a host of diplomats divided up the Ottoman Empire and assigned the sections outside Turkey itself to the French and British imperialists.
Previously, in 1917, the Zionist movement, promising to be Britain’s colonial overseers in Palestine, had reached an accord with the British Empire, via the Balfour Declaration. Signed by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour and the British Zionist leader, Baron Walter Rothschild II, the agreement read in part: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The latter portion of this declaration was included to portray the British Empire and its associated Zionist colonizer allies as merely living side by side with their Palestinian “neighbors.” However, 90 percent of the population of Palestine at that time was made up of Palestinian Arabs.
Perhaps the leading ideological forbearer of “Revisionist Zionism” was Vladimir Jabotinsky, who authored the benchmark essay for the entire Zionist movement, “The Iron Wall.” (The earlier form of Zionism, with pacifist and socialist tones, nevertheless contemplated establishing a Jewish homeland to be carved out of some conquered nation with the approval of its imperialist conqueror. South Africa and Uganda were among the nations that had been considered for this project.)
In 1923, Jabotinsky spelled out the Zionist credo without equivocation: “Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the [British] Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country [Palestine] conditions of rule and defense to which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role—with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.”
Jabotinsky continued: “To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ‘absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes—not for any sweet words, not for any tasty morsel, because this is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.” (For a comprehensive overview, see Socialist Action’s pamphlet, “The Hidden History of Zionism” by Ralph Schoenman.)
European Jewish immigration to Palestine increased dramatically following Hitler’s coming to power in 1933. Jewish land purchases and new Jewish settlements rapidly ensued. Palestinian resistance to British control and Zionist settlements climaxed with the massive Arab revolt of 1936-39, which Britain brutally suppressed with the help of Zionist militias.
Within days of the 1948 partition of Palestine, Zionism’s terrorist armies, this time with British weapons in hand, declared war on the Palestinian people, inside and outside of the new Zionist state, as well as on all surrounding Arab nations that rejected the UN’s imperialist partition. Three hundred eighty-five Palestinian villages were razed to the ground, renamed, and reconstituted as Israeli towns. In the course of this 1948-49 war and expansion of Israel, 726,000 Palestinians were driven from their land, with many moving to Gaza and the West Bank (of the Jordan River) or dispersed to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere. With the destruction of their towns and villages, “vacated” Palestinian land was decreed Israeli state property under the 1950 “Absentee Property Law.”
Until 1947, Jewish land ownership in Palestine was 6 percent. The rest belonged to the Palestinian people. Today that figure is essentially reversed. Palestinian lands have been systematically stolen by force. By 1949 Israel occupied 78 percent of Palestine. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, the percentage was increased to 100—that is, Israel occupied all of historic Palestine.
The so-called Occupied Territories of 1967 were and remain subject to the systematic construction of Israeli settlements, despite the vague 1995 “Oslo agreement,” wherein Gaza and the West Bank would be under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian Authority, whose leaders were to be elected by Palestinians in that 22 percent of the original Palestine. But Israeli settlements in both “territories” continued without interruption, as they do to this day.
The three million Palestinian occupants of Gaza and the West Bank are essentially banned from leaving their new and now “legalized,” and re-occupied, territory. These economically and socially unviable Bantustans are daily subject to Israel military control, including a myriad of militarized checkpoints, walls, separate roads for Israelis, and other measures that render them little more than prisons regulated by Israeli troops, guards, and financial interests. With regard to Israeli’s relentless construction of settlements in these areas, UN resolutions and/or “international laws” that supposedly regulate relations between states and people and that prohibit such land seizures have been ignored with impunity—and always with total U.S. complicity.
Zionist apartheid vs. South African apartheid
Zionist colonization differs significantly from the classical European form, in which the conquered indigenous population is subjected to near slave-like conditions aimed at providing a near-free labor force for European industry and agriculture. In contrast, the Israeli variant was and remains based on the physicalexclusion of all Palestinian labor and its replacement with Jewish workers and settlers from all over the world. The latter are granted immediate citizenship based on their Jewish heritage, as opposed to Palestinians, whose rights are largely restricted regardless of how many generations their forbears lived in Palestine. Israel is formally a “Jewish state.”
In this sense, South African apartheid also differed significantly from its Israeli variant. The South African colonists, less than 10 percent of the population, maintained the fiction that South Africa was “legally” for whites only. Blacks were relegated to non-citizen status and required pass cards to work in the “new” South Africa. Others were held in artificially created and isolated Bantustans (“Black homelands” or “Black states”), geographically separate and apart from South Africa, as with Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei.
No nation except the apartheid South African government recognized this “legal fiction.” No one denied that these “homelands” operated merely to provide a reserve labor supply for South Africa’s capitalist enterprises, especially its mining industries. South Africa’s colonial settlers, with their ingrained racist/colonialist mentality, deemed these poverty-stricken enclaves “independent nations.”
In Israel, Palestinian labor barely exists, with the Zionist regime’s needed labor force, not including Jews, largely consisting of immigrants from poor nations. Jabotinsky’s conception is fully operative. The Palestinian identity is to be eradicated. Palestinians are to be driven out! Israel is for Jews only!
This is not to detract from the horrors created by European colonization. In Africa’s Congo, for example, King Leopold II of Belgium murdered 12 million Congolese in the 19th century, the largest genocide in history. The French, British, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese imperialists similarly murdered literally tens of millions while enslaving and exporting countless millions of others.
It is in this broad colonial context that the June 13 disappearance of three Israeli teenagers, which is still unexplained, must be evaluated. Without proof, the Zionist government immediately declared Hamas, the Islamic current that formally represents Palestinians in Gaza guilty—despite Hamas denials.
A “revenge” campaign was immediately launched in the West Bank. Entire towns were sealed off by Israeli government forces. Palestinian homes were systematically broken into. Some 800 people were instantly arrested and charged with being supporters of Hamas. (In fact, Israel is continuing to hunt down alleged Hamas supporters in the West Bank and in Israel itself.) And yet, Hamas, declared by the U.S. to be a terrorist organization, is held responsible for starting yet another war with the “peace-loving” and “democratic” Zionist and colonialist Israel.
This government-created hysteria resulted in three far-right Israelis, including two teenagers, taking action. They kidnapped, clubbed, doused with gasoline, and burned alive the innocent Palestinian youth, Mohammed Abu Khdeir. These murderers were soon captured by Israeli authorities and charged with “terrorism.” The same day, however, war was declared on the Gaza Strip, with death and destruction wrought on the innocent civilian population ever since.
One can only recall Hitler’s rounding up hundreds of civilians in Nazi-occupied cities, and ordering one person shot each minute until someone stepped forward to reveal the names of the resistance fighters who had courageously challenged and killed a handful of Nazis soldiers.
In a similar vein, any Palestinian who resists Israeli oppression, occupation, and confiscation of their land and property, and the slaughter of their people is deemed a terrorist. Nelson Mandela and Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, resistance fighters who became presidents of their nations, were similarly declared terrorists.
George Washington, who resisted British colonial occupation and oppression in the 18th century, and who used force and violence to win America’s freedom, was also deemed a terrorist. Before Washington was able to form regular armies to resist British rule, he too employed guerrilla tactics and primitive weapons to challenge the British Empire’s occupying armies.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration, like all other U.S. administrations before it, swears allegiance to the Israeli state power, which it arms and finances to the tune of $3.1 billion yearly, the largest sum gifted to any nation on earth. The vast portion of this “foreign aid,” it is worth noting, is spent on the purchase of military equipment from the largely monopolized U.S. military-industrial complex. That is, funds spent on arming Israel to the teeth are returned to the U.S. to beef up the coffers of U.S. war profiteers.
Growing worldwide opposition to Zionist Israel
Since the formation of Israel in 1948, systematic war against the Palestinian people has been the rule, not the exception. In 1948, no Arab nation recognized the legitimacy of this colonial racist state, carved out of Palestinian land. Indeed, leading American philosophers and scientists opposed the formation of the Zionist state, including renowned scientist Albert Einstein, who rejected an Israeli offer to become Israel’s first president. Einstein expressed grave concerns that the victims of the Nazis holocaust not become the colonial persecutors and overseers of the Palestinian people.
Today, some 66 years later, perhaps the world’s most well-known living scientist, particle physicist Stephen Hawking, refused to participate at a scientific gathering in Israel. In recent days and months, Hawking has been joined by a constant flow of leading U.S. academic and professional associations that have added their voices to the growing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement protesting Israeli’s policies. The 1.5 million-member Presbyterian Church voted in early July to condemn Israeli’s murderous policies toward the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the world is ablaze with unprecedented protests, exceeding any others in history, condemning the Zionist state. Hundred of thousands have taken to the streets in England, France, and across Europe. In the U.S. almost daily mobilizations have been organized across the country, with several thousands participating in actions in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities. In almost all instances, these actions have been initiated by U.S.-based Palestinian and associated Arab organizations and supported by a myriad of antiwar and social justice organizations. Indeed, the largest U.S. antiwar organization, the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), at its national conference two years ago of 800 activists from 30 states, nearly unanimously adopted the demand, “End all U.S. Aid to Israel—military, economic, and diplomatic.”
For a democratic, secular Palestine
I will conclude this admittedly angry essay by stating that Socialist Action has never recognized the legitimacy of the Zionist entity called Israel. Nor have we done so with regard to the overseers of any colonized nation on earth, whether in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, or anywhere else. We have always stood on the side of and in solidarity with the oppressed masses of the world who challenge their colonial or neo-colonial subjugators.
We likewise reject imperialism’s originally imposed division of the Middle East into separate states, dependent on and ruled by imperial occupiers or their agents. These divisions—these lines on maps drawn by conquerors—artificially divided or incorporated peoples with diverse origins, histories, languages, and cultures. Today’s tragic unfolding events in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—and indeed, throughout the Middle East—are testimony to the deadly effects of imperialist divisions.
Zionist Israel is nothing less than an imperialist creation that is administrated, tragically, by Jewish people—whose forebears were subjected to the monstrous Hitlerian holocaust. Today, Palestinians constitute the largest refugee population in the world. At more than four million, expelled from their land and homes, tortured, murdered and denied basic human rights, they are a beleaguered people struggling for their freedom and dignity.
Socialists do not demand “negotiations” or a “ceasefire” or a “just solution” to the “Palestinian problem”—all code words or expressions that are premised on extending legitimacy to the Zionist state, including its expulsion of the Palestinian people.
Socialist Action supports the 1973 historic demand of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for a “Democratic Secular Palestine” with the right of return to all dispossessed Palestinians should they choose to exercise it. Achieving this demand would entail the rejection of the Israeli settler state and the re-establishment of historic Palestine with democratic rights for all—Palestinians, Jews, and Christians.
“Free, Free Palestine!”—a demand increasingly shouted out by antiwar activists and supporters of Palestinian freedom around the world—likewise strongly implies the abolition of the Zionist and racist settler state of Israel.
At the same time, we understand that the Palestinians can never achieve true self-determination in the context of capitalism. We fight for a socialist Palestine, as we do for a socialist confederation of the Middle East. The revolutionary mobilization of the vast majority is a pre-requisite for this outcome. Anything less can only mean continued subjugation to the imperialist ruling rich and their appointed agents.
These are not revolutionary abstractions. They are based on our rejection of the colonialist and neo-colonial occupations and wars that are the rule today in that region. Revolutionary socialists support the right of all oppressed and colonized people to self-determination—free from colonial rule.
Today, the central imperial power in the Middle East is the United States. Free from U.S. intervention in its myriad forms, the people of the Middle East would have long ago ridden themselves of local would-be tyrants. These tyrants, as with the Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq, exist only at the behest of the U.S., which finances, arms, and directs its brutal puppet dictators in order to facilitate the exploitation of each nation’s resources and peoples. “Regime change” is imperialism’s current code word for replacing one dictator with another, provided only that the new appointees protect U.S. interests.
In the United States, we demand, “End all aid to Israel!” We call on the world’s working masses everywhere to take to the streets to demand, “Stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza!” and “End the Israeli blockade!”
Socialist Action photo by Tony Savino: Participants in New York City protest against Israeli invasion of Gaza.
Free Jane Doe Now! Fire Katz! Protest Outside DCF!
Wednesday, July 30 @ 5:30 PM
DCF Headquarters – 505 Hudson St., Hartford, CT
CT DCF’s torment of Jane Doe is far from over. On July 13, DCF ordered that Jane be moved to the CT Juvenile Training School, a locked facility for delinquent boys. DCF claims this happened as a result of an altercation with other girls at the Pueblo unit (the girls’ facility Jane was transferred to when released from prison), but all the girls were involved in the fight to the same degree – yet only Jane was punished by being transferred to a boys’ facility. DCF is responding to Jane’s status as an outspoken survivor of abuse at their hands and using her gender identity to punish her. The transfer occurred without her lawyers being notified, in the middle of the night. It occurred in spite of the original placement ruling by a judge, who articulated explicitly that Jane is NOT to go to CJTS. Jane feels unsafe and miserable, and her mental health is deteriorating.
We urge all of Jane’s supporters to converge on DCF headquarters and demand real #JusticeForJane. We are demanding that Jane be released from CJTS immediately, and that DCF Commissioner Katz – who has proven time and again to only care about her own reputation and not the basic dignity and safety of the most vulnerable kids in her care – be FIRED. We are continuing to demand the repeal of statute 17a-12, which allowed for Jane’s imprisonment and likely her illegal transfer to CJTS.
Join us! Car pools can be arranged; communicate on this page if you want to take part in that.