BREAKING NEWS ~~ MAJOR BDS VICTORY IN ISRAEL

Supreme Court allows US student accused of supporting BDS to enter Israel

Lara Alqasem’s lawyers hail ruling rejecting state’s attempt to bar her entry to study; interior minister calls decision a ‘disgrace’

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an American student accused of advocating boycotts of Israel can enter the country, putting an end to a weeks-long saga that drew scrutiny of an Israeli law allowing alleged anti-Israel activists to be barred from entry.

Lara Alqasem, 22, has been held in detention for the past 15 days after arriving in Israel for a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The state alleged that Alqasem, who was a member of the pro-boycott Students for Justice in Palestine group while studying at the University of Florida, supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In accepting her appeal, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a lower court that upheld the ban on her entry under a 2017 law forbidding BDS activists from entering Israel.

US student Lara Alqasem at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 17, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

More AT

MYSTERY OF THE DAY …. WHERE IS THIS PLACE?

Who knows where this place is?

PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN …… HERE IS JUST ONE REASON WHY

Canada steps up aid for UN agency for Palestinian refugees following US cut.

The easiest way to shut down UNRWA is to let the refugees return home

UNRWA and Palestinian refugees are being treated unfairly – Cartoon [AlArabi21News/Twitter]

Canada pledges $50m to UNRWA

Canada has announced that it is contributing $50 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Some $40 million would be allocated over two years to assist the health and education efforts of the refugee agency, a statement said.

Another $10 million is aimed at helping 460,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada’s new contribution would improve lives and “protect the human dignity” of millions of Palestinian refugees.

“This new funding to UNRWA is urgently needed, and it will bring some predictability to the agency as the needs on the ground are increasing,” Bibeau added.

UNRWA has been suffering from a budget deficit resulting from the ending of US funding.

The easiest way to shut down UNRWA is to let the refugees return home

ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL NUMBERS GAME

I never really understood the ‘numbers game‘ in the States, but the following one is pretty easy to understand ….

GOODBYE COLUMBUS!

Once again this year many schools will pause to commemorate Christopher Columbus. Given everything we know about who Columbus was and what he launched in the Americas, this needs to stop.

First landing of Columbus on the shores of the New World, at San Salvador, W.I., Oct. 12th 1492. ( Painting : Dióscoro Teófilo Puebla Tolín. Publisher : Currier and Ives)

Here’s why it’s time to abolish Columbus Day

 

Once again this year many schools will pause to commemorate Christopher Columbus. Given everything we know about who Columbus was and what he launched in the Americas, this needs to stop.

Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in early February 1494, first sending several dozen enslaved Taínos to Spain. Columbus described those he enslaved as “well made and of very good intelligence,” and recommended to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that taxing slave shipments could help pay for supplies needed in the Indies. A year later, Columbus intensified his efforts to enslave Indigenous people in the Caribbean. He ordered 1,600 Taínos rounded up—people whom Columbus had earlier described as “so full of love and without greed”—and had 550 of the “best males and females,” according to one witness, Michele de Cuneo, chained and sent as slaves to Spain. “Of the rest who were left,” de Cuneo writes, “the announcement went around that whoever wanted them could take as many as he pleased; and this was done.”

Taíno slavery in Spain turned out to be unprofitable, but Columbus later wrote, “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

The eminent historian of Africa, Basil Davidson, also assigns responsibility to Columbus for initiating the African slave trade to the Americas. According to Davidson, the first license granted to send enslaved Africans to the Caribbean was issued by the king and queen in 1501, during Columbus’s rule in the Indies, leading Davidson to dub Columbus the “father of the slave trade.”

From the very beginning, Columbus was not on a mission of discovery but of conquest and exploitation—he called his expedition la empresa, the enterprise. When slavery did not pay off, Columbus turned to a tribute system, forcing every Taíno, 14 or older, to fill a hawk’s bell with gold every three months. If successful, they were safe for another three months. If not, Columbus ordered that Taínos be “punished,” by having their hands chopped off, or they were chased down by attack dogs. As the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas wrote, this tribute system was “impossible and intolerable.”

And Columbus deserves to be remembered as the first terrorist in the Americas. When resistance mounted to the Spaniards’ violence, Columbus sent an armed force to “spread terror among the Indians to show them how strong and powerful the Christians were,” according to the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas. In his book Conquest of Paradise, Kirkpatrick Sale describes what happened when Columbus’s men encountered a force of Taínos in March of 1495 in a valley on the island of Hispañiola:

The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and [according to Columbus’s biographer, his son Fernando] “with God’s aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed.”

All this and much more has long been known and documented. As early as 1942 in his Pulitzer Prize winning biography, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Samuel Eliot Morison wrote that Columbus’s policies in the Caribbean led to “complete genocide”—and Morison was a writer who admired Columbus.

If Indigenous peoples’ lives mattered in our society, and if Black people’s lives mattered in our society, it would be inconceivable that we would honor the father of the slave trade with a national holiday. The fact that we have this holiday legitimates a curriculum that is contemptuous of the lives of peoples of color. Elementary school libraries still feature books like Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus, by Peter Sis, which praise Columbus and say nothing of the lives destroyed by Spanish colonialism in the Americas.

No doubt, the movement launched 25 years ago in the buildup to the Columbus Quincentenary has made huge strides in introducing a more truthful and critical history about the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. Teachers throughout the country put Columbus and the system of empire on trial, and write stories of the so-called discovery of America from the standpoint of the people who were here first.

But most textbooks still tip-toe around the truth. Houghton Mifflin’s United States History: Early Years attributes Taíno deaths to “epidemics,” and concludes its section on Columbus: “The Columbian Exchange benefited people all over the world.” The section’s only review question erases Taíno and African humanity: “How did the Columbian Exchange change the diet of Europeans?”

Too often, even in 2015, the Columbus story is still young children’s first curricular introduction to the meeting of different ethnicities, different cultures, different nationalities. In school-based literature on Columbus, they see him plant the flag, and name and claim “San Salvador” for an empire thousands of miles away; they’re taught that white people have the right to rule over peoples of color, that stronger nations can bully weaker nations, and that the only voices they need to listen to throughout history are those of powerful white guys like Columbus. Is this said explicitly? No, it doesn’t have to be. It’s the silences that speak.

For example, here’s how Peter Sis describes the encounter in his widely used book: “On October 12, 1492, just after midday, Christopher Columbus landed on a beach of white coral, claimed the land for the King and Queen of Spain, knelt and gave thanks to God…” The Taínos on the beach who greet Columbus are nameless and voiceless. What else can children conclude but that their lives don’t matter?

Enough already. Especially now, when the Black Lives Matter movement prompts us to look deeply into each nook and cranny of social life to ask whether our practices affirm the worth of every human being, it’s time to rethink Columbus, and to abandon the holiday that celebrates his crimes.

More cities—and school districts—ought to follow the example of Berkeley, Minneapolis, and Seattle, which have scrapped Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day—a day to commemorate the resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, and not just in a long-ago past, but today. Or what about studying and honoring the people Columbus enslaved and terrorized: the Taínos. Columbus said that they were gentle, generous, and intelligent, but how many students today even know the name Taíno, let alone know anything of who they were and how they lived?

Last year, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant put it well when she explained Seattle’s decision to abandon Columbus Day: “Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of Indigenous people and a celebration of social justice … allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination, and poverty that Indigenous communities face to this day.”

We don’t have to wait for the federal government to transform Columbus Day into something more decent. Just as the climate justice movement is doing with fossil fuels, we can organize our communities and our schools to divest from Columbus. And that would be something to celebrate.

NEW IMAGE ~~ ISRAEL GOT NO TALENT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got low scores at the UN for his speech attacking Iran and pointing to secret nuclear sites. When will he get voted off the show?

Image by Carlos Latuff

Last year’s ‘entry’ …

This year’s ‘entry’ (same old, same old)

RELATED …

Trump channels Netanyahu at the U.N., as his top policy-makers meet with Iran-war-mongers

As you surely know, Donald Trump channeled Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly. He mentioned Iran 14 times (compared to 0 for Russia and 4 for Israel) and all but called for regime change. Iran’s “brutal regime” was financing the destruction of Syria, its leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction,” its “corrupt dictatorship” should be isolated by the world.

This sly appeal was right out of the Netanyahu script:

[W]e ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

The media made a lot of Trump’s sovereignty doctrine–  nationalism and “patriotism” over “globalism” and multilateralism–  but even those remarks had a pro-Israel cast. Trump was talking about the US rejection of two Israel-bugaboos, the UN Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court.

As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority…. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy….America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism…

There is an obvious reason Trump is parroting Netanyahu. Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam are the largest funders of Republicans, ponying up $55 million for the midterm elections. Trump needs Sheldon Adelson now more than ever, and Adelson has a simple agenda, Israel. Adelson backs Netanyahu, pushed the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, opposes negotiations with Palestinians, and called on President Obama to nuke Iran. Adelson wanted Trump to tear up the Iran deal, and he did.

The New York Times ran a good piece on Adelson’s influence last week, saying Sheldon and wife Miriam “have emerged as the biggest and potentially most influential contributors to Republicans in the midterm season,” and that the Adelsons have gotten “their most cherished priorities” from the “unflinchingly pro-Israel” Trump administration. The Times even ran a letter saying the Adelsons bought the presidency.

But it is disappointing that no one in the mainstream press is connecting the Trump administration’s theatrical anti-Iran push in New York yesterday with the rightwing Israel lobby, which seeks a war with Iran.

The agenda is clear. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, addressed an Adelson shop, the organization United Against Nuclear Iran, in NY yesterday, and it was a war party at the Westin Grand Central Hotel. Bolton issued a bellicose warning to Iran to great applause: “If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.” As Eli Clifton and Derek Davison reported ahead of time:

According to the organization’s guest list, in attendance will be virtually every prominent official both in the United States and overseas who has pushed for a military confrontation with Iran—a veritable who’s who of warmongers…

Those guests included leading officials from countries that want a war with Iran: Yossi Cohen, director of the Israeli Mossad; ambassadors from Bahrain and the UAE; and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. Not to mention American hawks Dennis Ross and Joe Lieberman (the UANI chair), and a French one, Bernard Henri-Levy.

Bolton and Pompeo address warmongers at the Westin Grand Central Hotel, UANI conference.

Like Trump and the Republicans, UANI has been funded by Adelson. “Sheldon and Miriam Adelson… contributed $500,000 in 2013,” Clifton reports–  the same year Adelson called on Obama to nuke Iran.

UANI’s biggest funder is Thomas Kaplan, a billionaire investor who supports liberal and Jewish causes, such as wildlife conservation and the 92d Street Y. Five years ago, Kaplan introduced Benjamin Netanyahu at the 92d Street Y in fulsome terms –hailing the prime minister as the leader of “our people.”

It is… with great humility that we welcome the prime minister of Israel. On his shoulders rests the heavy decisions of  not only making a just peace, but confronting a fanatical regime that threatens his people, our people. We are inspired by your leadership, sustained by your faith, and truly honored by your presence.

UANI is closely aligned with Israel. Its board includes Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad director, and Irwin Cotler, the Canadian parliamentarian who is obsessed with BDS. Its contracts include $700,000 to Israeli consulting groups.

And you wonder why the media can’t touch the Israel lobby story; they’d have to talk about national interest, dual loyalty, whatever you want to call it. Sheldon Adelson once said he wished he’d served in the Israeli army, not the American one. Or as Obama said when he was trying to get the Iran deal through, only one country in the world was against it, Israel, and he’d be abrogating his constitutional duty if he didn’t work for the deal.

I recognize that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees — disagrees strongly… I believe he is wrong.  I believe the facts support this deal.  I believe they are in America’s interest and Israel’s interest.  And as President of the United States, it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.  I do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the United States.  I do not believe it would be the right thing to do for Israel.

Obama said the only alternative to the deal was war.

And Trump owes war-mongering Adelson everything; and he tore up the Iran deal. And the media “has largely supported Trump’s fictitious view” of the deal.

That’s the real issue here. Trump has surrounded himself with warmongers. Though yesterday he tweeted that he is sure that Iranian president Hasan Rouhani is an “absolutely lovely man,” his militant speech at the U.N. was scripted; and the script is what we all have to worry about. Once again neoconservatives are scheming for the invasion of a sovereign country in the Middle East, and it would be helpful if the press described the agenda.

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ STANDING UP TO EVIL IN GAZA (INFLUENCED BY KING DAVID)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Image by Carlos Latuff

The bravest of all Mothers!

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PRINCIPLED ANTI ZIONISM ~~ A GUIDE

What does principled anti-Zionism look like?  And what might it accomplish?

At its best, a principled anti-Zionism understands that freedom isn’t merely an optimal byproduct of struggle, but its only acceptable outcome.

A guide to principled anti-Zionism

An optimal anti-Zionism supersedes Palestine’s geography.  It likewise transcends ethnocentric interests. Anti-Zionism is a politics and a discourse, sometimes a vocation, but at its best it is also a sensibility, one attuned to disorder and upheaval.  It is a commitment to unimaginable possibilities—that is, to realizing what arbiters of common sense like to call “impossible.”

What, then, does a principled anti-Zionism look like?  And what might it accomplish? Here are some suggestions:

  • It is internationalist in the classic Marxist sense of the term; as such, it informs and absorbs liberation movements around the world.
  • It is anti-capitalist because Palestine will be free only when nobody within its borders is exploited.  (You can agitate for something less perfect, yes, but the language should reflect the limitations of that approach.)
  • It recognizes that mass extinction is earth’s immediate forecast.  Israel has destroyed Palestine’s environment with an array of bulldozers, munitions, and chemical weapons, along with overdevelopment to accommodate settlers.  It is, in short, an ecological catastrophe requiring what Anthony Galluzzo terms a “decelerationist socialism” to avert or at least mitigate our “literal gothic nightmare.”
  • It moves beyond opposition to military occupation.  Decolonization is key. The difference may appear semantic, but it’s actually significant.  In addition to disrupting the colonizer’s physical and political control, decolonization aims to abolish the settler’s psychic influence.
  • It is feminist in both theory and practice.  There’s no pre-patriarchal history in Palestine to satisfy our nostalgia, but this shouldn’t prevent us from pursuing a post-patriarchal future.  It’s critical to decouple visions of this pursuit from Western orthodoxies around sex and gender.
  • It opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.  This principle on its own decisively rebukes Zionism.
  • It is anti-imperialist.  While anti-Zionism and anti-imperialism are coterminous, some elements of the pro-Palestine crowd yearn for a world the USA can dominate without Israeli interference.  Other elements of the crowd have a bad habit of supporting US interventions that either benefit or directly involve Israel (as in Syria). Imperialism executes colonial fantasies of redemption; it has no place in any serious political community.
  • It doesn’t reduce Palestine to a branding device that can be invoked or ignored depending on the mood of editors and prize committees, or an instrument of celebrity to be calibrated according to market fluctuations in the pundit economy.
  • It doesn’t give progressive politicians a pass when they suck up to the Israel lobby.

These suggestions, I realize, risk transforming Palestine into a utopian tableau, perhaps a search for some kind of “Palestinian Wakanda,” as a prominent activist put it at a recent event I attended.  There’s much to be said about the benefits that would come from basic freedoms (travel, medical care, civil rights, housing, and so forth). I see no appreciable conflict between efforts at short-term relief and long-term emancipation.  Upholding principles that maintain the dignity of struggle foregrounds an effective material politics. We oughtn’t surrender notions of possibility to people who adore a stunted imagination.

Moreover, the suggestions don’t simply appeal to Palestine solidarity activists; they also demand that progressive formations take up anti-Zionism.  We’re well past the point where it’s acceptable to dispose of Palestine as a matter of choice or necessity. There’s significant opposition to Israeli brutality on the US left, but hardly any consequence in electoral culture for cosigning or ignoring that brutality.

Done without care, opposition to Israeli brutality can reify other forms of oppression, or it can conceptualize Israel as an aberration from honorable American values.  Israel doesn’t corrupt the United States—nor does the United States corrupt Israel. Both states originated through corruption—as paragons of foreign settlement, land theft, environmental degradation, racial inequality, and labor exploitation—a condition they mutually reproduce within and beyond their borders.  Israel doesn’t distract the United States from its otherwise noble mission in the world; it helps the United States manage a world order beneficial to its ruling class.

Disrupting those benefits is easier than it might seem.  We shouldn’t voluntarily concede to the oppressor, first of all.  The needs of power aren’t our guidepost for liberation; our notions of justice aren’t derivative of colonial logic.  At its best, a principled anti-Zionism understands that freedom isn’t merely an optimal byproduct of struggle, but its only acceptable outcome.