IN PHOTOS ~~ #RiseUpOctober

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There was a meeting in a church in Harlem organized by people who are opposing police murders and the whole system of mass incarceration (a/k/a the New Jim Crow) which has Black men and women spending decades in prison for non-violent drug offenses (brought about by the Rockefeller drug laws and mandatory sentencing).  And with the prisons privately run and them making contracts with many industries where prison labor is a source of slave labor, they find ways of keeping people in prison.  A very sick outrageous situation.  Of course a disproportionate people in the prisons are black because the police are concentrated in their communities and because they don’t have $ for big name lawyers. 

Anyway, many ministers spoke and people from the communities that are fighting against all this.  And then the families of young people who were murdered by the police came on stage – a lot of them – and one by one told their stories.  An act of heroism which reminded me of the stories we heard from Palestinian parents.  They told their stories in grief and in rage.  One grandmother tried but just couldn’t speak, she couldn’t stop crying.  Her 7 year old grandaughter was lying on the couch next to her when the police busted in looking for someone, threw in a stun grenade into the apartment hitting the child in the head and  blowing her brains all over her grandmother.  It was a mistake, they were in the wrong place, but never issued an apology.  And this keeps happening even though these murders are getting more attention.  These murderers don’t even feel like they better lay low for awhile because they are now in the public eye.  They don’t care and maybe they think that the public doesn’t care.  Perhaps they are right.  So far this year 700 people, mostly unarmed, have been killed by the police.  What makes them think they have been hired to be executioners?  The comparison to what is happening to Palestinian families is inescapeable – the same killings with impunity, the same non-caring attitude from the populace, the same torment for the families. 

The last speaker, Cornel West, noted the tie between what is happening in Palestine and in this country.  He delivered a monologue while walking quickly around the stage and as he noted all the problems, the racism, the militarism, the failure of capitalism, the U.S. being a dying empire, he spoke as if he was reciting a brilliant poem full of rhyme and rhythm.  It was a dazzling, magnificent jazz piece that left us both informed and mesmerized.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Chippy Dee

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IN PHOTOS ~~ ONE YEAR ON // REMEMBERING THE DEAD IN GAZA

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August 26th 2015, one year after the brutal Israeli massacre in Gaza, Jewish Voice For Peace  organized a memorial march through New York City from  West 77th St. to Columbus Circle. 200+ people participated in the memorial. As the they marched with signs and banners they  boldly called out  “Free Gaza”, “End the occupation” and “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes”. The group entered Columbus Circle in silence to honor the thousands murdered and injured in the attack which included children.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ DEMO AT UN IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKER

First an update …..

Hunger striker Allan re-enters coma, in critical condition

(click HERE to see report)

Muhammed Allan's situation has sparked protests in support of his cause and demands for his release. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Muhammed Allan’s situation has sparked protests in support of his cause and demands for his release. (AFP/Said Khatib)

On August 18th, several dozen people, mainly youth of the NYC Students For Justice In Palestine, gathered at the U.N. to protest the  Israeli  threatened intent to force feed Muhammad Allan who is now on a hunger strike to gain his freedom. There were Palestinian, Black & White youth in attendance.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Here is how solidarity demos are treated in Israel …

This video shows Israeli police and right-wing extremists violently attacking and assaulting Palestinians who had gathered outside the hospital where a Palestinian hunger striker is gravely ill.

Flag-waving Israeli extremists sing songs celebrating and calling for the slaughter of Palestinians, especially children.

The events occurred on Sunday, when hundreds of Palestinians and supporters protested in Askalan (Ashkelon) in the south of present-day Israel in solidarity with Muhammad Allan, the Palestinian who has been on hunger strike for two months against his “administrative detention” – without charge or trial – by Israel.

As Allan struggled for his life, his supporters arrived aboard buses from Jerusalem, Jaffa and the north to hold a vigil outside Barzilai Medical Center where he is being treated and detained.

“Allan come and see, your people are supporting you openly,” the supporters call out in the video before they are attacked.

An Israeli police officer shouts through a megaphone: “This is an illegal gathering.”

Police assault protestors, dragging them away and confiscating Palestinian flags, and use a water cannon and pepper spray.

Genocidal songs

Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, who tries to intervene to prevent the police violence, says: “The police are beating people, young women and men.”

At the same time, extreme right-wing Israeli Jews can be seen assaulting protestors without police intervention and indeed with police protection.

“Zoabi, you are whore! You are a terrorist,” one of the right-wing demonstrators shouts at her. The mob then starts to chant “Zoabi is a terrorist! Death to terrorists!”

Many openly declare support for Meir Kahane, the founder of the violent anti-Palestinian organization Kach.

They chant anti-Arab slogans including a song celebrating the mass killing of children in Gaza: “Why is there no studying in Gaza? Because there are no children left there.”

“Gaza is a cemetery,” they sing, and “Death to reporters!”

These same genocidal songs were heard on Israel’s streets during last summer’s 51-day assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children.

Assaults and arrests

The extremists have been present at the hospital for a week, assaulting visitors and supporters of Allan.

“They don’t even let us gather in one place to demonstrate, to send a political message that we support Muhammad Allan,” Zoabi observes of the police ban. “A conqueror acts like a conquerer, so the oppressed need to act like the oppressed.”

Eight activists were arrested, at least four of whom required hospital treatment due to injuries from police violence, according to the photography collective ActiveStills, which produced the above video.

Allan, a 33-year-old lawyer from the occupied West Bank village of Einabus, recently fell into a coma for four days. On Tuesday he regained consciousness and, still gravely ill, vowed to continue his hunger strike until Israel frees him.

Video by Keren Manor, Faiz Abu Rmeleh and Oren Ziv of the ActiveStills collective.

Text by The Electronic Intifada.

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ PUERTO RICO (LIKE PALESTINE AND GREECE) IS NOT FOR SALE!

As with every struggle for Justice, our dear Pete was with us in spirit to remind us all which land belongs to you and me ;)

On August 13th  scores of people gathered to protest vulture Hedge fund investors buying up the Puerto Rican debt crisis which will result in austerity measures to pay the debt. The militant slogan is “PUERTO IS NOT FOR SALE”.

These are the slime that buy up defaulted debts for a few cents on the dollar and then turn around and try to collect the full debt from the people.  This has become a common practice.  PR is in the same economic condition as Greece but their situation largely comes from being colonials.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ SAYING YES TO IRAN DEAL

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Copy, sign and send

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More photos and full report from Mondoweiss HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI BOMBINGS REMEMBERED IN NEW YORK AND PALESTINE

See below for report from Palestine

Carlos Latuff added this image

Carlos Latuff added this image

On August 6th  the New York City Granny Peace Brigade  held a Hiroshima / Nagasaki  day memorial event in front of the New York City Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. The memorial was held during the  rush hour as people were leaving work returning home. This way the memorial would have the greatest public visibility. There were numerous tourists also passing by. People stopped to take pictures and many took the yellow leaflets the grannies were handing out.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Mazin Qumsiyeh. PhD adds the following from Palestine and Hiroshima

70 years ago, on August 6 and August 9, the US government of Harry Truman
dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here is from my visit and
speech on that anniversary August 6, 2013 in Hiroshima.

This is the same Truman that pushed successfully to create nuclear armed
apartheid state of Israel that is terrorizing Palestinians and has
committed hundreds of massacres. Today Saad Dawabshe died of his severe
burns. He is the father of 18 month old martyr Ali who was burned alive in
the attack by racist Jewish colonial settlers on their family home. The
mother and second child still in critical condition. And the world leaves a
group of “pyromaniacs led by an egalomaniac” running a tinderbox (not my
words but words of an ex-Director of Israel’s security service, see below).
But the struggle goes on.

Today Saad Dawabshe died of his severe burns. He is the father of 18 month
old martyr Ali who was burned alive in the attack by racist Jewish colonial
settlers on their family home. The mother and second child still in
critical condition. And the world leaves a group of “pyromaniacs led by an
egalomaniac” running a tinderbox (not my words but words of an ex-Director
of Israel’s security service, click on link below). But the struggle goes on.

Click HERE


Contributed by Mike Rivero @

Contributed by Mike Rivero @

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS COMMEMORATE HIROSHIMA BOMBING

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Photos  © by Bud Korotzer

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Chippy Dee adds ….

Several people were invited into the consulate to present a letter of apology from the American to the people of Japan for the bombings. The failure of the American government to issue an apology in these seventy years was duly noted. Numerous peace organizations participated in organizing the event. On the street the participants engaged in speeches, singing and giving out leaflets explaining the meaning of the event.

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And Carlos Latuff added the following image

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The immortal Pete Seeger was there in spirit entertaining the participants …

IN PHOTOS ~~ INTERNATIONAL AL QUDS DAY IN TIMES SQUARE

Photos  © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ GAZA REMEMBERED ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK

Photos  © by Bud Korotzer

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Adding insult to injury

Adding insult to injury

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IN PHOTOS ~~ VETERANS FOR PEACE ON MEMORIAL DAY

On Memorial day weekend the Veterans For Peace held their annual  event at Battery Park NYC in front of the massive World War II memorial  remembering those killed in the war. Attending were the family and friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, veterans of WWII, veterans of  The Korean War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Participants came to the mike and spoke of those family members and friends killed in war. Chippy Dee, a Desertpeace associate, also memorialized the Palestinians: adults and children murdered by the Zionist Attack Force (also known as the IDF). As each speaker finished they threw a rose into the waters of the Hudson river. At the end of the memorial event the sad musical notes  of “taps” sounded in the park.

Photos  and Commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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THE NAKED TRUTH ABOUT MADONNA’S PHOTO OP

Yesterday, a photo posted by Madonna on Instagram went viral on the Net ….

Well, it was a phony, just as she herself is!

Below is the photo and the naked truth about its source

The photo of a Jewish and Arab man nearly kissing.

The photo of a Jewish and Arab man nearly kissing.

The photo is actually of two Israeli Jews: Imri Kalmann, 28, and Dekel Aiden, 24, two Tel Aviv party promoters who host a periodic gay club party called Dreck.

Mystery Solved! Madonna Viral Instagram Pic Was Israeli Gay Party Ad

Sorry, Madonna fans, but the Material Girl’s provocative Instagram photo of a Jewish man and an Arab man about to lock lips isn’t quite what it seems.

The photo is actually of two Israeli Jews: Imri Kalmann, 28, and Dekel Aiden, 24, two Tel Aviv party promoters who host a periodic gay club party called Dreck.

“I am not really Orthodox and he is not really Palestinian,” said Kalmann.

The picture first appeared last summer on a poster promoting a Dreck party in Tel Aviv. Kalmann said his team planned on something racier, but changed its concept after the start of Israel’s war with Gaza.

“We decided to do a photo shoot to say something that we feel regarding the war.”

In the picture, Kalmann is wearing a skullcap with Hebrew lettering and fake side curls that he purchased at a costume shop. Aiden is wearing a keffiyeh, or Palestinian national scarf, from Nazareth.

The poster was controversial at the time.

“Some understood the humor and liked it and appreciated it,” said Kalmann. “Some thought that in the middle of the war, when missiles were falling in Tel Aviv and people are in the war that it was not a time for peaceful homosexual posters. I don’t agree. I think that is the time to do it.”

Madonna’s Instagram post also raised hackles of her followers, most of whom apparently took it as authentic display of cross-cultural affection.

“You do not know at all what is happening here in Israel. Do not post such a picture here again,” one wrote.

Others were supportive: “Love is love my friends — doesn’t matter if you are Jewish or Muslim or whatever.”

Kalmann said that he was “shocked” when he saw Madonna post his photo on her feed. He has been to five of her concerts. “I really, really love Madonna.”

He said he has no idea how she found the image — but is happy the world is seeing it.

“I am very, very excited I have an opportunity to show this message to so many people and I thank Madonna for this.”

Dreck has stirred controversy in the past when it published a photo of a staged ISIS beheading to promote one of its parties. The group later apologized on Facebook.

Source

This was not the first time false images were published to ‘promote peace’ … 

(From the archives)

RICKI ROSEN Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

RICKI ROSEN
Staged: Ricki Rosen’s photograph meant to depict an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem has been reproduced hundreds of times.

(Click on link)

 EVEN A FAKE IMAGE CAN BE AN INSPIRATION FOR PEACE

IN PHOTOS ~~ 10 YEARS OF BDS ~~ A JOINT CELEBRATION

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

On the evening of May 6th in NYC at Alwan for the Arts the space was filled to capacity with people gathered to hear Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS campaign against Israel, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, discuss the BDS campaign as it reaches its’ 10th anniversary.  The meeting was organized by Haymarket Books.

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Barghouti began by explaining the philosophy behind boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).  It is about building awareness of the ethicality of resistance.  How does an oppressed people resist oppression without unduly harming the oppressor.  Both communities have to be humanized and the trap of collective responsibility is to be avoided.  An Us vs. Them mindset is not productive – Israelis should be encouraged to join the movement.

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The minds of Palestinians have to be decolonized.  Realizing there would be enormous resistance Zionists knew very early on that they would have to colonize the minds of Palestinians, building an iron wall there by removing all hope.  If hope is taken away the Palestinians would be defeated.  This was recognized as early as 1923 when the Zionist Vladimir Jabotinski wrote his political allies about destroying the will of the Palestinian people, “A living people make such enormous concessions…only when there is no hope left.  Only when not a single breach is visible in the iron wall, only then do extreme groups… lose their sway….”

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Last, people have to be mobilized for goal oriented action, one with a considerable chance of success.

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Only 38% of the Palestinian people live on the West Bank and in Gaza.  12% are Israeli citizens and 50% are in the diaspora.  It is not enough to say end the occupation.  Israel has divided the Palestinians, leaving them scattered all over the world.  The 3 goals of BDS: end the occupation, full and equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return will reunite the people of Palestine.  Our goal is freedom, justice and equality.  We must have consistent pressure to achieve these goals.  That means resisting/opposing the regime that stands against this.

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Israel is feeling very threatened because the economic and cultural boycott is growing and Jewish support for BDS is also growing.  People are coming to realize that either they support a colonial venture or they don’t.  The “Brand Israel” campaign has failed.  Now the Israeli fight-back is based on propaganda and ‘lawfare’, legal challenges to BDS.  They seem not to know how to deal with this non-violent principled resistance which is demanding basic rights for the Palestinian people under international law.

Vilkomerson said that JVP fully endorses all elements of the Palestinian call for BDS and believes that it provides the best tactics to bring justice to Palestine.  JVP also wants to bring pressure on the US government not to be complicit in this struggle. There have been many victories here in this country – 60 members of congress did not go to hear Netanyahu’s speech.  JVP stands with the divestment of the Presbyterian church and with SodaStream closing their West Bank factory.  JVP also supports the many Students for Justice in Palestine chapters that have been fighting for divestment, often winning, on their campuses.

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But the closer we come to winning this fight, the stronger the push-back will be.  Big money is going into this fight against the BDS campaign from the Jewish community, including on campuses.  There are constant accusations of anti-Semitism which, unfortunately, dilutes real anti-Semitism.

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Blacks, Latinos, and young people are most likely to support Palestine and over the past year there has been an enormous growth of solidarity between the Palestinian struggle and the fight against the oppression of Black people in this country.  JVP fully supports, with feet in the streets, the Black Lives Matter fight.  JVP is an anti-racist organization that sees the Palestinian and the Black struggle as the same fight for justice and will be there in solidarity because it is a joint struggle.  BDS is a tool of anti-racist ideology.

JVP is now 3 times the size it was before the Israeli attack on Gaza last summer.  They now have 200,000 on line supporters because people are coming to recognize that the Palestinian struggle is the world’s great moral issue of our time.

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I remember when people used the phrase ‘PEPs’, Progressive Except Palestine, to describe those who were generally progressive on most issues but would not or could not support Palestinians.  It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is no such thing.  If you don’t understand and support the Palestinian struggle for human rights you  cannot call yourself progressive.

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IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ JESUS AS A YOUNG BOY

See end of this post for a more accurate picture …

Detectives used a computer program to reverse the ageing process on an image from the Turin Shroud . (photo credit:ROME POLICE)

Detectives used a computer program to reverse the ageing process on an image from the Turin Shroud . (photo credit:ROME POLICE)

Police detectives in Italy claim that they have revealed how Jesus looked as a child based on forensics from his supposed burial cloth.

The Turin Shroud, one of the most famous Christian relics to date, provided the scientists with an approximate image of Jesus’ face on the material. From there, scientists created an image, and reversed the aging process using cutting edge technology to reveal what Christ may have looked like as a young boy.

The scientists used the same technique often employed to capture Italian mafioso who have been on the run for decades. By reducing the size of the jaw, raising the chin and straightening the nose, the replica of Jesus as a boy became clear.

The 14-foot-long Turin Shroud that supposedly covered Jesus’ body at his death bears the impression of a bearded man with long hair, with numerous injuries that are consistent with a crucifixion. The cloth also shows a side wound, just like the lance-wound Jesus is said to have suffered.

Despite these signs, many scientists have disputed the validity of the Turin Shroud. Carbon dating tests from 1998 concluded that the image on the shroud was made up to 1900 years after Jesus’ death. Believers counter claims by stating the researchers tested more modern elements of the Shroud and that other tests show the linen cloth conclusively derives from the Holy Land.

The digital image was created to go along with the displaying of the Turin Shroud’s two month public display which began this week at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin. Pope Francis is even expected to stop and pray before the cloth on June 21st.

Source

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A much more accurate image from What Really Happened

Read report HERE

Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image (above) of what the historical Jesus looked like.

Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image (above) of what the historical Jesus looked like.

 

FROM BALTIMORE TO JERUSALEM ~~ #BlackLivesMatter

Image 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Related report from Mondoweiss

Baltimore Is Here’: Ethiopian Israelis protest police brutality in Jerusalem

Ben Norton*

Police clamp down on an Ethiopian Israeli protest against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Lior Mizrahi

Police clamp down on an Ethiopian Israeli protest against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Lior Mizrahi

Ethiopian Israelis took to the streets of Jerusalem on the evening of April 30 to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Haaretz reports that approximately 1,000 protesters gathered, principally from the Ethiopian Jewish community.

The citizens condemned racism and police brutality toward the Ethiopian Jewish community, calling for the end of impunity for cops who harass them.

A video released of a white Israeli police officer attacking a black Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv on April 26 angered many in the Ethiopian Israeli community, which is disproportionately targeted by Israeli police. The video shows officers pushing Demas Fekadeh, an Ethiopian Israeli soldier, to the ground and beating him.

Zionist Union Member of Knesset Shelly Yachimovich remarked in a Facebook post “It wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect that if [Demas Fekadeh], the soldier who was hit, was a light-skin soldier, preferably with an Ashkenazi appearance, he would not have sustained harsh blows without consideration from police.”

Ethiopian Israelis protest police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Haaretz)

Ethiopian Israelis protest police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Haaretz)

This is by no means an isolated incident. In March 2014, an Ethiopian Israeli by the name of Yosef Salamseh was in a public park with his friends when police approached him. They accused him of breaking into a house, a claim he adamantly denied. The cops then attacked him with a Taser gun, kicked him, handcuffed him, shackled his legs, threw him in a police car, and detained him in a nearby police station. His family later found him unconscious and tied-up. A few months later, he died. Police claimed it was a suicide.

In the wake of the incident, Salamseh came to be known by many as “Israel’s Michael Brown,” referring to an 18-year-old black American man who was walking down the street with a friend in Ferguson, Missouri when white police officer Darren Wilson shot him nine times, three times in the head.

An Ethiopian Israeli blocking a police vehicle in a protest against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Lior Mizrahi)

An Ethiopian Israeli blocking a police vehicle in a protest against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Lior Mizrahi)

Numerous journalists reported that the Ethiopian Jewish protesters in Jerusalem were chanting “Baltimore is here!”, connecting their struggle against racist brutality in Israel to the struggle of black Americans against racist brutality in the US.

Civil unrest emerged in Baltimore on April 25, in response to the police killing of Freddie Gray, an innocent, unarmed black man who was arrested for looking at a police officer in the face and then running away. While in police custody, Gray’s voice box was crushed and his spine was 80% severed. Baltimore police later accused him of injuring himself, although video footage was released of cops pummeling Gray. In the video, Gray can be heard asking for his inhaler, as he had trouble breathing, and appears to be incapable of walking, because of the brutal beating he suffered. (Police also harassed and later arrested the man who captured the attack on camera.) A medical expert revealed that it is virtually impossible that Gray injured himself.

Black Israelis have tied their own struggle to that of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US—a civil and human rights movement that emerged in response to the constant police murders of unarmed, innocent black Americans at the hands of white police—not just by drawing connections between Baltimore and Jerusalem, but furthermore by launching an Israeli offshoot of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” campaign.

Ethiopian Israelis protesting police brutality outside of Netanyahu’s house, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Keren Simons)

Ethiopian Israelis protesting police brutality outside of Netanyahu’s house, in Jerusalem on April 30 (Photo: Keren Simons)

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews reportedly also gathered outside of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s house, in protest of racist police violence.

Israeli police sprayed protesters with “skunk water” to break up the protests. Israeli forces do the same to peaceful Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank. There are also numerous recorded instances of occupation forces spraying skunk water into Palestinian homes.

According to police, some Ethiopian Israeli protesters in the largely peaceful demonstrations were also throwing stones—a protest tactic in which Palestinians living under military occupation in the occupied territories also engage.

The intense racism people of African descent face in Israel is well-documented. Many journalists have written of “Israel’s Disgustingly Racist Behavior Towards Ethiopian Jews.” The self-proclaimed Jewish state has forcibly sterilized Ethiopian Jews,refused to take blood donations from Ethiopian Members of Knesset (referring to it as “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood” they avoid), and even refused to wed Ethiopian Jews, expressing doubts that they are “truly” Jewish.

An Israeli police officer uses his baton to attack a protester lying on the ground at a demonstration against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30, 2015. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli police officer uses his baton to attack a protester lying on the ground at a demonstration against police brutality, in Jerusalem on April 30, 2015. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

2/3rds of Ethiopian Jewish children in Israel live in poverty. Many Ethiopian Jews are forced to live either in ghettos or illegal settlements. These gaping disparities and this structural racism have led to critics calling Israel an Ashkenazi-supremacist state and Zionism a white-supremacist movement, one that is itself anti-Semitic in its oppression of non-Ashkenazi Jews.

Scholar Hanan Chehata describes Israel as the “promised land for Jews… as long as they’re not black.”

Jews of African descent are not the only ones to suffer from the Ashkenazi supremacy of Zionism. Since its earliest days, Mizrahi Jews (those of Middle Eastern descent) have faced systematic discrimination in Israeli society. In the 1950s, Israel forced Mizrahi Jews to live in poverty in tents in shantytown-like transit camps while Ashkenazim were given hotels.

In the decades since, Mizrahim have continued to endure systemic racism. This intense oppression led to the creation of the Israeli Black Panthers, in parallel to the revolutionary socialist Black Panther Party in the US. Former Israeli Black Panthers still protest Israeli racism against Mizrahi Jews today.

* About Ben Norton Ben is a freelance writer and journalist. His work has been published in CounterPunch, Electronic Intifada, Common Dreams, ThinkProgress, and ZNet, among other publications.

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Photos from solidarity demo in New York

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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MAY DAY IN PHOTOS

The Worker’s Song

Union Square, New York City

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ SIT-IN AND ARRESTS FOR NUCLEAR SANITY

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Ready and waiting to 'serve and protect'

Ready and waiting to ‘serve and protect’

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IN PHOTOS ~~ MARCHING FOR NUCLEAR SANITY

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A huge anti-nuclear march  took place on the streets of Manhattan  Sunday April 26th .  It stretched twelve long city blocks along one car lane from Union sq. 14th St. to 47th St. at the U.N where nuclear disarmament talks are now under way. The estimated number of marches was 5,000+.  

Marchers came from various areas of the U.S.  There was International participation also. The Japanese contingent was by far the largest ( more Japanese participants than US participants), with some people also from Belgium, France and Korea, who joined  the march. At the U.N. a massive rally was held. There were speakers,  dancers and singers. Petitions signed by over 6 million people was delivered to the U.N. demanding an end to nuclear weapons.

There were no mainstream media T.V. mobile units to record this march for  the public.  Once again  Americans  are made to remain ignorant of peace movement events going on around them.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

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IN PHOTOS ~~ BRINGING THE OCCUPATION TO NEW YORK

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer Commentary by Chippy Dee

Last Friday evening, April 24th, Haneen Zoabi, Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, spoke to a packed crowd of about 300+ in an auditorium at New York University in NYC.  The room was filled beyond capacity with people standing on the sides and sitting on the ground in the aisles.  She was invited there by the NYU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.  Before she arrived an unsigned leaflet was circulated accusing her of being a friend of Hamas and a supporter of terror.  A very small group of Israel’s supporters stood in the rear of the auditorium waving 2 Israeli flags.

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MK Zoabi entered from the rear, walking briskly, surrounded by 3 bodyguards.  The crowd stood up applauding enthusiastically for many minutes.  She appeared moved and a little surprised by the welcome saying that she does not receive such a greeting very often.  The bodyguards, ever vigilant, remained close to her. 

She then addressed the leaflet attacking her that had been handed out – she was holding a copy in her hand.  She said she was elected  to the Knesset in 2009, the 1st woman to win election as part of an Arab party.  Since then there have been repeated attempts to silence her.  She stated that Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East but compared to what, Arab dictatorships?  There is certainly no comparison to the U.S. and other western democracies – it is very different in Israel.  The democracy in Israel is only for the Jews.  She added that she stands against all injustice, not only the injustices against Palestinians.  She is a feminist, standing for full equality between men and women and will never agree to give others advantages over Palestinians in our homeland.

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She is fighting against racist Zionism, not against Jews.  85% of the Palestinians have been expelled during the ongoing Nakba and have been made refugees.  574 cities, towns, and villages have been destroyed.  The names of everything has been changed robbing Palestinians of geographic familiarity and now Palestinians are being driven out of the Negev. She then looked to the back of the room where Israeli flags were still being waved and asked, “What are  you so proud of?” 

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Zoabi said that Israel is threatened by a real democracy because there is a conflict between being a Jewish state and a democracy.  Palestinians are the indigenous people of their land and, as here in the U.S., indigenous people have to demand their rights in a democracy.  Usually when immigrants arrive in a new land they have to fight for their rights but in Israel it is the other way around.  Israel is demanding that she be loyal to the group that is oppressing her.  There is a tyranny of the majority there.  Over 50 laws discriminate against Palestinian citizens within Israel.  Family unification is not allowed, Palestinians cannot bring a spouse into the country.  The income of Jews is 3 times higher than that of Palestinians who are marginalized and not allowed to develop an economy.  An oppressive legal system is directed against Palestinians.

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Then Zoabi noted that she had been talking mostly about Israel and not Palestine.  What do Palestinians want?  “WE DON’T WANT TO THROW ANYONE INTO THE SEA.”  We want to live in full equality with the right of return in 1 state or 2 and we want the occupation ended now.  There was no talk about the occupation in the past 3 Israeli elections.  Israelis believe nothing is wrong while 50 rabbis recently published a demand that housing should not be rented to Palestinians, 33% of Israeli Jews agreed to imprison Palestinians in concentration camps if a war broke out, and 53% say that Palestinians  should not be represented equally with Jews when budgets are created even though they pay taxes.  She believes that Palestinians should go to the international court, demand that Oslo be reconsidered, and reject negotiations that have proved pointless.  Her conclusion was that, most of all, Palestinians must challenge Israeli racism and be very clear about respecting the rights of Israeli Jews.

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Then there was a Q & A period where the audience was able to respectfully ask questions about subjects she did not address in her speech.  One of the more interesting questions was, to paraphrase, Do you support BDS even if it means that Palestinians are hurt by it?  Her response was an unequivocal, YES, even if it hurts us.

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When she finished her presentation she received another standing ovation.  People rushed forward to talk to her, pose for photos with her, and shake her hand.  When she moved to leave a group of about 30 young men who had come to hear her joined her bodyguards to see that she exited safely.  And she left through the front door.

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS DEMAND MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

No commentary necessary …. the 2,000 Plus demonstrators say it all on their placards … 

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Related Article from CounterPunch

Wage Gains Won’t Last, Unless Fight for 15 Builds Worker Power

by ARUN GUPTA

When fast-food workers first took the streets in New York City in November 2012 to protest for higher wages and a union no one could have imagined how successful the campaign would be. Since then the low-wage workers movement, known as Fight for 15, has helped spureleven states and numerous cities to raise the minimum hourly wage. It’s enabled campaigns in Seattle and the Bay Area to pass citywide measures for $15-an-hour minimum wage. Fight for 15 and a separate campaign called Organization United for Respect at Walmart has also pushed companies like McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart to announce in early 2015 that they would raise the minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of employees.

The success of the organizing is due to everything from the abysmal recovery from the 2008 economic crisis to Occupy Wall Street’s role in shifting the national dialogue from austerity to economic inequality. But Fight for 15 is due primarily to the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the campaign in 2011 and has poured tens of millions of dollars into growing waves of protest that are battering the image of the fast-food giants.

As the protests have grown, the campaign has become both broad and narrow. SEIU has linked the plight of fast-food workers to that of retail and convenience-store workers, home healthcare aides, childcare workers, and adjunct professors. At the same time Fight for 15 is focusing its fire on McDonald’s. One SEIU insider says the strategy is, “Pummel them until they come to the table.” Another organizer outlined the thinking back in 2013: Fight for 15 was trying to cause enough problems for McDonald’s image and stock price that SEIU could say to the company, “We can make this all go away” if it agreed to a deal on wages and unionization.

Using the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU has filed charges of unfair labor practices and wage theft against McDonald’s franchises. The strategy paid off after the NLRB general counsel ruled in July 2014 that McDonald’s has joint employer responsibility, opening space for SEIU to pressure the corporate parent, rather than dealing with 3,100 U.S. franchisees. SEIU is also raising the heat overseas. The European Union is investigating McDonald’s for allegedly dodging more than $1 billion in taxes and labor federations in Brazil are suing McDonald’s largest franchisee in Latin America for wage and workplace violations. A participant in a recent strategy session held with Scott Courtney, said to be SEIU’s mastermind for Fight for 15, says the next step under consideration is to create trouble for McDonald’s on the property front, which is as much a titan of real estate as it is of hamburgers.

McDonald’s claims the campaign has had no effect on its operations and that it could not afford to raise wages. Over the last year its internationalsales have been flat and its profits have fallen sharply. So its announcement on April 1 that it would raise pay for workers at corporate-owned U.S. stores was widely viewed as a concession to Fight for 15. That move backfired, however, as the raise is only 89 cents an hour on average and affects just 10 percent of its U.S. workforce. Plus, sources say McDonald’s has quietly approached SEIU and is looking for a deal. For nearly two years there have been rumors that SEIU was considering some alternative to a union for the fast-food sector, such as a workers association.

A workers association, however, would mean fewer rights and protections for workers than a traditional union. This points to the question that’s been hanging over Fight for 15 since it caught fire. What is SEIU’s end game? I asked one organizer if the campaign is building working power, and the response was blunt: “The goal is not worker power. It’s a contract.”

Since a traditional union contract with McDonald’s or any other fast-food company remains unlikely, the campaign goals need to be better aligned with reality. Fight for 15 has been remarkably successful on wages, but unless it is trying to increase worker’s power on the job, any wage and benefit improvements won through public pressure, negative publicity, and community-based protest activity will be hard to sustain in the absence of ongoing workplace organization or networks of some sort.

Now, many Fight for 15 organizers point out SEIU is the only big union gambling on trying to organize an industry with millions of unorganized workers, and it’s putting thousands of workers in motion. Organizing low-wage workers is a long overdue response to the neoliberal turn that dealt a historic defeat to organized labor during the 1980s. Millions of new jobs are projected to be in occupations like food prep, retail, and healthcare aides that pay $9 to $12 an hour. The jobs have few benefits, schedules and hours are erratic and there tends to be high turnover. This is the base for Fight for 15, OUR Walmart and a broader campaign known as 15 Now, initiated by the Seattle-based Socialist Alternative.

A fundamental goal of labor organizing is to take labor out of competition with itself. But that is nearly impossible when low-skilled, low-wage workers have few rights and number in the tens of millions. Fight for 15’s approach is unorthodox, but it is constrained by organized labor’s history. Class-struggle unionism has been abandoned by labor leaders who act as junior partners to corporations, like SEIU and Kaiser Permanente, the UAW and auto companies, the machinists union and Boeing, and the building trades and real-estate developers. Many union leaders are also in the pocket of the Democratic Party despite it being in the pocket of Wall Street.

Fight for 15 trying to make trouble for global corporations, but it’s not pursuing a working-class struggle. (Few unions are interested in that; that’s the job of the organized left.) Fight for 15 is more of a legal and public relations campaign, as I explain, than an organizing campaign. It is bearing fruit, but mainly as a spillover than in the fast-food sector. This includes adjunct professor organizing, which with the assistance of unions, especially SEIU, have notched many victories since 2013. Thousands of healthcare workers, who make up about half of SEIU’s membership, are agitating for $15 an hour, which is also in response to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that imposed limits on union membership for home-care aides. There are also linkages with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is significant given Fight for 15 is the biggest mobilization of African-American workers since the 1960s. While these are inchoate forms of solidarity and social-justice unionism, they remain underdeveloped because of the top-down nature of Fight for 15.

The most intriguing outcomes of Fight for 15 are citywide campaigns for a raise in the minimum wage, which has opened up organizing space for the left. Fifteen dollars an hour is now reality in Seattle, albeit it with loopholes, with most low-wage workers expected to earn that by 2017. San Francisco’s ballot measure for $15 an hour was spearheaded by SEIU Local 1021, which one observer calls a model for a worker-run union. Fight for $15 campaign helped legitimize the idea in Seattle. The local SEIU affiliate’s biggest contribution was a $15-an-hour ballot measure that won in the SeaTac suburb. But the heavy lifting was done by Socialist Alternative and its inside and outside political approach, aggressive reporting and support from The Stranger, a well-regarded newsweekly, and incoming Mayor Ed Murray’s decision to back the measure and establish a committee to shape, for good and bad, the final bill. 15 Now is currently pushing $15 an hour statewide in Oregon and according to sources is encountering resistance from some unions that are reluctant to challenge Democratic politicians.

In terms of Fight for 15, its efforts have been more effective in the digital realm than in the real world when it comes to fast-food workers. One Fight for 15 organizer says, “SEIU would like the public to perceive this as a large and growing movement creating a crisis. They are creating the perception of a wave.”

But the campaign is also hamstrung, and SEIU’s media-centric strategy inhibits it from making hay from it. The organizer explains, “Workers are afraid to stand up. The number one problem is fear. I would say less than 4 percent of the workers we contact stay on board. They jump on and jump off [Fight for 15] all the time.” Workers have every reason to be afraid. One study from 2005 estimated 23,000 workers a year are penalized or fired for legitimate union activity, making a mockery of laws meant to protect workplace organizing.

A rich account of the difficulty and potential of worker-run, shop-based organizing in the fast-food industry is provided by Erik Forman in New Forms of Worker Organization. He recounts an IWW campaign in Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in Minneapolis, which narrowly lost a union vote but gained many concessions, wage increases and most important, worker consciousness, solidarity and power. Provocations and illegal acts by the bosses were used to build organization and militancy, not shunted over to law firms and P.R. agencies as in Fight for 15. But the campaign was dealt a serious blow by the mass firing of six organizers. (Forman’s scathing critique of a complacent union bureaucracy as an outcome of labor law and how labor law proved to be a dead end is also important to consider.)

SEIU has far more resources to confront employer threats of firing and retaliation, but creating a shop-by-shop base of power would still be a monumental task. Fight for 15 could nurture worker power other ways, but it has forgone a bottom-up struggle. Its worker leaders serve to energize other workers, relate a compelling personal story and act as a media spokesperson. In other words, they provide the image of a leader rather than the substance of a leader who can organize the workplace, engage in shop-floor warfare against the boss, develop worker solidarity, and force concessions while building a militant rank and file.

The site of worker power in Fight for 15 is supposed to be the organizing committees, but within the staff-driven campaign participants say workers have little power. Strike votes are usually not held unless the staff leadership is confident it will win. Meetings are for pumping up workers and feeding them information, not democratic debate and decision-making. The annual Fight for 15 conferences, with the next one reportedly set for this summer in Detroit, are described as heavily scripted. I asked one organizer if it was true that worker leaders made decisions during weekly national conference calls. The response was, “That’s bullshit, and I know because I participate in those calls.” Plus, a one person says during a strategy session Scott Courtney was introduced to workers as “the reason you are all here.” Compare this SEIU’s claim in 2013 that it is following the lead of fast-food workers and “We don’t yet understand the scale of it” when in fact it gave birth to the fast-food workers campaign.

Where there is organizing in Fight for 15, it is more in the streets than in the workplace. The big days of action are vital for the sense of momentum. Allies from community groups, students and union staff swell numbers, add to the festivity, make a more favorable media impression, sway public opinion, and make it look as if the campaign is growing.

One can make the case that SEIU made a sound decision in forgoing a worker-centric campaign for a P.R. and legal strategy. But then it can no longer said to be a worker-driven movement. If SEIU admitted workers’ fear of being fired or disciplined by employers leads to high turnover in Fight for 15, it would undermine the perception that more and more fast-food workers are joining and staying with the campaign. A lack of power also means workers follow the dictates of paid organizers, who in turn say they get their marching orders from SEIU leaders.

A few organizers have mentioned SEIU’s P.R. firm, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, is involved in the strategy. In fact, a 25-page document entitled “Strike in a Box,” which bears BerlinRosen’s logo, is presented as a how-to-guide for building a successful strike. This and other documents provide more evidence for the top-down management of Fight for 15, which is logical given the enormous effort devoted to organizing just one protest in one city. The fact that Fight for 15 staged more than 200 protests in U.S. cities on April 15 indicates how many resources SEIU has committed.

For example, one fast-food protest in 2013 was run like a military campaign. The staffing plan included the local organizing leadership, four different media workers, half-a-dozen “defusers” to soothe any trouble, a photographer, videographer, police liaison, chant leader and energizer, a supply team, drivers, onsite legal, a criminal lawyer on standby, breakfast and lunch coordinators, and people designated to hand out signs, flags, t-shirts, and water. A spreadsheet mapped out protests by the minute, noting times and location for loading vans, picking up workers, talking points for press conferences, skits, prayers, dancing in the streets, and “walk backs” of workers the next day to minimize retaliation. Insiders say to maximize turnout, Fight for 15 will sometimes rent hotel rooms for workers the night before a protest, rent vans to drive them to the start point, and provide meals.

Strike in a Box appears to be from an earlier stage of Fight for 15, but it is insightful. It starts with a “Legal FAQ” that describes different types of strikes under labor law. It cautions against any conduct that can be classified as picketing as “picketing is considered coercive and incurs more liability for the union,” such as forcing a union election. Instead it says to focus on unfair labor practices as “ULP strikes are the legal crown jewel of strikes.”

The document gives tips for discovering, recording and tracking unfair labor practices. Workers in various Fight for 15 chapters say uncovering ULPs became a priority nearly two years ago, with organizers regularly asking for incidences of employer retaliation or discrimination.

The link between the legal and media strategy is in the section on “Site Assessments,” which begins by asking how many active and strong ULP’s there are at a particular establishment. The section also asks if it’s a good site to focus on, the existence of strong leaders, and then shifts to questions about messaging:

“Is it an iconic brand? Does the brand help tell a story, locally and/or nationally?

“Do we have spokespeople?

Trained? Reliable? Experienced?

“Do we have stories?

Compelling worker stories

Horror stories about site practices (wage theft, sexual harassment, etc)

Connection to broader themes (cutting hours because of Obamacare, etc)”

Much of the remainder of Strike in a Box is devoted to recruiting workers with strong stories, organizing the strike vote, how to build a “pull plan” to maximize strike-day turnout, shoring up workers confidence, carrying out the actual strike, and the need for compelling visuals, stories and a narrative. Little is said about workplace organizing. This matches the experiences of many workers in the campaign who say they are not provided with any training on how to build shop-floor organization.

None of this is meant to dismiss Fight for 15. It is having a more profound effect than anyone could have hoped for when it began. But politics don’t just happen. By denying a central role SEIU leaders can deflect questions about controversial strategies and on-the-ground organizing. Likewise, analyzing strategy and tactics years from now is little use in books few people will read. There are many more questions that can and should be asked about Fight for 15.

For example, the campaign is focused primarily on wages and then on scheduling. But once they clock out, fast-food workers confront the dilemmas of childcare, healthcare, transportation, and rent. Fight for 15 talks about the difficulty of living on a poverty wage, but does so in moralistic terms: “fairness.” It avoids a deeper critique because “the goal is a contract.” As much as workers need a pay raise, $15 an hour is of little help in many cities where the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment would eat up the entire income of a full-time worker on this wage. In Seattle, Socialist Alternative has pivoted to organizing around runaway rents, but it’s rare for big unions to seriously organize around rent control or tenants’ rights despite the fact that escalating housing costs are one of the biggest burdens that workers shoulder.

Beyond issues of daily life is workers’ role in the labor process. Building worker power would stop promotional campaigns like McDonald’s embarrassing “Pay with Love” or Starbucks clumsy “Race Together” before they happen. This is not all the responsibility of one organizing campaign but without a serious debate about the strategy Fight for 15 is pursuing and shifting to worker-oriented strategies, it’s hard to see how wage gains will translate into a gain of power for workers.

The campaign has raised hopes on the left of a revival of class consciousness and a working-class movement, but will it come to fruition under SEIU? If history and current events are any guide, the missing ingredient is the organized left. It’s anarchists who made Occupy Wall Street happen, socialists who have revitalized many teachers unions, and socialists and the left that have turned $15 an hour into reality. Without a similar effort, Fight for 15 may give fast-food workers more change in their pockets, but not the power to change their lives.

Arun Gupta contributes to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Vice, The Progressive, The Guardian, and In These Times.

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK SOLIDARITY WITH YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

March from Bryant Park to United Nations Headquarters

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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