Intelligent activism by Jewish Canadians who advocate against the fictional notion of a “new anti-semitism” which is used as a pressure tactic by the likes of the Anti-Defamation League and Harvard’s McCarthyite-in-Chief Alan Dershowitz against anyone who criticizes Israeli policies. Video by Independent Jewish Voices.
by Chase Madar
When I was down in Guantánamo a few months ago, a veteran German journalist let it slip that she didn’t much care for the place. “This,” she confided in me, and many of the other journalists there as well, “is the worst place I have ever visited in my entire career.”
It’s not hard to see why my superlative-loving friend felt this way: we were covering the case of Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian captured after a firefight with U.S. forces outside Kabul in July 2002, tortured and interrogated for a few months at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, then transported to Guantánamo. He just reached a plea agreement that will avoid a trial before a military commission at Gitmo for five “war crimes.” Four of them, freshly invented for the occasion, are not recognized as war crimes in any other court on the planet. (Khadr pled guilty to all charges and will get at least one year more at Gitmo — in solitary — then perhaps be transferred to Canada for a remaining seven years.)
Aside from Khadr and about 130 other prisoners who may one day see a trial, Guantánamo also holds 47 more War on Terror prisoners who are expected to be “detained” indefinitely without being tried at all. This was one of the radical policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that is now cheerfully defended by the human rights grandees in Barack Obama’s State Department.
Gitmo and all other places without habeas corpus rights are indeed dismal places — and there is certainly something disgusting about the first conviction of a child soldier since World War II. All the same, I couldn’t help but wonder if my vehement Kollegin had ever visited a homegrown federal prison like the one in Terre Haute, Indiana (whose maximum security wing was copied down to the smallest detail at Gitmo’s Camp 5), or even your run-of-the-mill overcrowded state lock-up, the kind you pass on the highway without even noticing that you’ve done so, or one of the crumbling youth detention facilities in New York State which, as we lawyers who have represented youth offenders know, are hellish.
by David Smith-Ferri
Kabul, Afghanistan – “We live in constant fear of suicide attacks,” said Laila, an Afghan woman who lives in Kandahar city and who visited with us yesterday. “When will the next one strike and where?”
“Twelve days ago,” she continued, “a good friend was walking home from the mosque. A four-minute walk. An IED was detonated, and my friend lost half his face. Another man lost his leg, and his son lost his leg, too. We live with that kind of uncertainty, when you don’t know what is going to happen from one moment to the next.”
Laila’s descriptions of living with fear and violence in Kandahar contradict the mild U.S. descriptions of the “security situation” there. “The Taliban do not control the city,” said Army General Stanley McChrystal, in a May 13, 2010 briefing concerning a “much-anticipated” military operation in Kandahar. “You can walk around the streets of Kandahar, and there is business going on. It is a functioning city.”
Compare McChrystal’s blithe comments with Laila’s experience. “In Kandahar city, you don’t know what’s going to happen, minute to minute. Every single minute that we live – if you can call it living – every single second there is the thought that this is going to be my last second.”
Laila went on to illustrate this graphically. “A good friend of mine had a ticket to travel to Canada to visit her mom for a family wedding. She dressed in a burqa, and went to say goodbye to some colleagues. When she returned home, traveling by rickshaw, she saw a neighbor outside. So she stood for two minutes to talk to her. In those two minutes, two men on a motorcycle drove up. One man shot her in the head and killed her, and the other man drove them away.”
by James Petras
The November 2, 2010 electoral debacle of the Democratic Party in the US cannot be solely ascribed to the failed policies of President Obama, the Congressional leadership or their senior economic advisers. Nor is the demise of what passes for the American “center-left” confined to the US – it is a world-wide pattern, expressed in countries as diverse as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and Japan.
The central question is why the left-center left governing parties are everywhere in crisis and will be for the foreseeable future?
The Left-Center Left: Past Winners, Present Losers
In the past leftist parties had been the beneficiaries of capitalist crises: Incumbent conservative regimes, which had presided over economic recessions or had been held responsible for military debacles, were ousted from power by leftist parties prepared to make large-scale, long-term public investments, funded by progressive taxes on wealth and capital, and to impose austerity programs on the rich and wealthy.
In contrast, today the left/center-left (L-CL) regimes preside over crisis-ridden capitalist economies and administer regressive socio-economic policies designed to promote the recovery of the biggest financial and corporate enterprises while rolling back wages, social programs, pensions and unemployment benefits.
As a result, the L-CL has become the prime political loser in the current economic crisis, reaping hostility and rejection from the great mass of its former working class and salaried supporters.
David Cronin’s important new book Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occuption (Pluto Press) is now available, filling a key void in the growing body of literature on the role of the Israel lobby. Cronin is one of the very few journalists who regularly exposes the pernicious role of the Israel lobby in Brussels and the long-standing hypocrisies of the European Union. (See some of Cronin’s articles published on PULSE in the past, here and here).
In carefully crafted official statements, the European Union presents itself as an honest broker in the Middle East. In reality, however, the EU’s 27 governments have been engaged in a long process of accommodating Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Journalist David Cronin interrogates the relationship and its outcomes. A recent agreement for ‘more intense, more fruitful, more influential co-operation’ between the EU and Israel has meant that Israel has become a member state of the Union in all but name. Cronin shows that rather than using this relationship to encourage Israeli restraint, the EU has legitimised actions such as the ill-treatment of prisoners and the Gaza invasion.
Concluding his account, Cronin calls for a continuation and deepening of international activism and protest to halt the EU’s slide into complicity.
by Andy Worthington
With just days to go before George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, hits bookstores (on November 9), and with reports on the book’s contents doing the rounds after review copies were made available to the New York Times and Reuters, it will be interesting to see how many media outlets allow the former President the opportunity to try to salvage his reputation, how many are distracted by his spat with Kanye West or his claim that he thought about replacing Dick Cheney as Vice President in 2004, and how many decide that, on balance, it would be more honest to remind readers and viewers of the former President’s many crimes — including the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the authorization of the use of torture on “high-value detainees” seized in the “War on Terror.”
As I fall firmly into the latter camp, this article focuses on what little has so far emerged regarding the President’s views on Guantánamo, and, in particular, on his confession that he authorized the waterboarding of “high-value detainee” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which is rather more important than trading blows with a rapper about whether or not his response to the Katrina disaster was racist, as it is a crime under domestic and international law.
On Guantánamo, the only comments in the book that have so far emerged are insultingly flippant, which is disgraceful from the man who shredded the Geneva Conventions and authorized an unprecedented program of arbitrary detention, coercive interrogation and torture. In addition, Bush’s baleful legacy lives on in the cases of the 174 men still held, in the recent show trial of Omar Khadr, and in the complacency regarding the basis for detaining prisoners of the “War on Terror” — the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks — on which Barack Obama continues to rely, despite its formidable shortcomings.
As Michiko Kakutani explained in a review of the book for the New York Times:
He tries to play down the problems of Guantánamo Bay, writing that detainees were given “a personal copy of the Koran” and access to a library among whose popular offerings was “an Arabic translation of Harry Potter.”
Al Jazeera – Ali, a Palestinian veteran of the intifada, went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after an Israeli settler shot him in the leg.
While there, he learned that his younger brother Yusef had been killed by an Israeli soldier.
Ali had spent years in Israeli prisons for actions like demonstrating against the occupation, throwing stones, and being a member of a political party.
The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Benjamin Dangl’s new book Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, (October, 2010, AK Press), recommended by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman:
Ben Dangl breaks the sound barrier, exploding many myths about Latin America that are all-too-often amplified by the corporate media in the United States. Read this much-needed book.”
The motorcycle thundered off the highway onto a jungle road of loose red dirt framed by trees, families lounging in front of their farmhouses, and small herds of disinterested cows. We pulled up to a dusty store to buy food for our stay in the rural community of Oñondivepá, Paraguay, and asked the woman behind the counter what was available. She nodded her head, picked up a saw, and began hacking away at a large slab of beef. We strapped the meat and a box of beer on to the back of the motorcycle and roared off down the road.
A volleyball game was going on when we arrived in the area where landless activist Pedro Caballero lived. His wife offered us fresh oranges while his children ran around in the dirt, playing with some wide-eyed kittens. The sun had set, so Caballero’s wife lifted a light bulb attached to a metal wire onto an exposed electric line above the house, casting light on our small gathering of neighbors. Suddenly, the dogs jumped to action, joining in a barking chorus, and lunged toward the edge of the woods. They had found a poisonous snake, a common cause of death in this small community far from hospitals.
Our dear and respected friend Tariq Ali on the Riz Khan Show.
His father used to work at the refinery, which was a good job. His father brought home a new toy every evening, that’s what Bilal remembers. Many of the toys are still at home, stuffed under his mother’s bed: speaking animals, racing cars, things that work if you have batteries.
Bilal thought his father had a round and jolly face, but this thought contradicted the stern, gaunt photograph framed on the living room wall. The photograph was a fact – unlike Bilal’s thought, which was only a thought, as vague and blurry at the edges as thoughts tend to be.
A couple of years ago, a long time now, his father had been arrested and taken away. This happened to a lot of people and was nothing much to cry about.
There was some confusion as to his father’s exact location. One aunt said he was in the local prison. One said he was in prison in the capital. His uncles squeezed his shoulder and said nothing at all.
One aunt said he was in heaven. When Bilal heard her he thought his father had been killed and he began to cry inconsolably. But his mother told him that that aunt was just upset and raving, that his father was in prison in the capital, and that Bilal would meet him again one day when he’d grown up and done something that his father could be really proud of. She said people don’t die in any case. And Bilal was consoled.
He was the oldest child, the only son, in a way the head of the household now. He bossed around his two sisters who were too little to obey him. He knew he bore responsibility for them and for his mother whose wages paid the rent on their flat but didn’t put food on the table. That was his job. But what he suffered in responsibility he regained in freedom.