Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres died today - last of the great founding leaders of Israel

Noga Tarnopolsky just posted this beautiful photograph on Twitter, with the title Jerusalem, 6:00 am.


President Obama's statement about Peres:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

"John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Holocaust Trial" - October 10, 7:30 pm, Ithaca College

Lawrence Douglas, of Amherst College, is speaking on October 10th at Ithaca College on the four trials of John (Ivan) Demjanjuk. He will be speaking in Textor Hall 101 at 7:30 pm.

John (Ivan) Demjanjuk was a Ukrainian national who was accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notorious guard at the Treblinka death camp in Poland, during World War II. As an adult, after the war, he lived in suburban Cleveland. He was the subject of the lengthiest and most bizarre criminal case to arise out of the Holocaust. All told Demjanjuk was tried four times: twice in the United States on immigration charges; once in Israel, in one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in legal history; and finally in Germany, where a Munich court convicted him in 2011 of being a guard at a Nazi death camp.

Demjanjuk was tried in Israel and convicted on the charges of crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people, but the Israeli Supreme Court later threw out the verdict on the basis that newly-found documents from Russia, available after the collapse of the Soviet Union, did not provide sufficient proof that Demjanjuk had served as a guard at Treblinka. Demjanjuk was later tried on Germany for being a guard at another death camp, Sobibor. In May, 2011, he was convicted on the charge of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, and sentenced to five years in prison, but he died in March, 2012, before his appeals had been exhausted, and so did not serve a prison term.

Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought at Amherst College, covered Demjanjuk’s Munich trial for Harper’s and his recently published book, The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial,  builds on that reportage to show the historic importance of the enormous effort to bring Demjanjuk to justice.





Secretary of State Kerry: One State = One War



Haaretz reports on a private meeting that Secretary of State Kerry had with ministers representing the countries giving financial assistance to the PA:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel to task at a private meeting in New York last Monday over its policy in the West Bank, Haaretz has learned. The comments came at a closed meeting of ministers representing the countries providing financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. 
Kerry repeatedly raised his voice, emphasizing that Israel and the Palestinians are moving in the direction of a binational state rather than a Palestinian state alongside Israel and are also headed toward war. He added that if the international community is interested in putting a halt to these developments, “Either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.” 
Western diplomats who were present at the meeting, but who asked not to be identified because the meeting was not public, noted that Kerry was extremely agitated. 
The U.S. secretary of state also expressed criticism of the Palestinians, the sources said, citing the increased number of Palestinian terror attacks and the incitement against Israel. However, the thrust of his remarks constituted criticism of the unprecedented rate of construction in the settlements in particular, and Israel’s policies in the West Bank in general. 
The Western diplomats noted that Kerry’s comments presented the despair on both sides, but also the understanding emerging not only on Kerry’s part but also among an increasing number of senior White House officials that they need to seriously consider the possibility of promoting a resolution at the United Nations Security Council or at another international forum. This would be immediately after the U.S. presidential election in November, and would deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue and preserving the option of a two-state solution in the future. 
In an interview with Channel 10 last Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, hinted at this, noting that the U.S. administration is considering a series of options, including a UN Security Council resolution. 
Shapiro added, however, that a decision has yet to be made on the matter. 
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at the beginning of last week, U.S. President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said Obama does not rule out such a process, but no specific proposal has been presented to him yet. 
At the New York meeting last Wednesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, the subject did not come up for discussion. But in interviews the prime minister gave to Israeli television networks over the weekend, he said he hoped Obama would not force a unilateral political solution on Israel. 
On Friday, Netanyahu met one-on-one with Kerry to discuss the Palestinian issue. The meeting, which was hastily arranged, took place shortly after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the UN and the European Union). Also attending were the foreign ministers of France and Egypt. 
At the end of the meeting, the Quartet’s foreign ministers condemned accelerated construction in the settlements, demolitions of Palestinian homes and the retroactive approval of illegal West Bank outposts in recent months. 
“All those are steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution,” the Quartet statement said. “The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”
At last Monday’s conference of countries providing funding to the PA, Kerry told the several dozen foreign ministers in attendance that after close to four years of talks with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he had come to the conclusion that the actions the two have been taking — and, more than that, the actions they are not taking — are deepening the diplomatic stalemate. 
“Now, every single terrible act of violence, every new settlement announcement, takes us not closer to peace; they take us closer to a one-state solution,” he said. “That is no solution. It is an invitation to perpetual conflict. And as Shimon Peres himself said, it will bring one war, not one state. Make no mistake about it, I believe that is the risk if we continue on the current course.” 
Kerry noted that since the release last July of a Quartet report that included a major warning regarding the direction in which the Israelis and Palestinians were headed, there has only been an increase in violence and Palestinian incitement has continued. In addition, plans for 2,400 new housing units in the settlements were announced and there has been a dramatic increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. 
The U.S. secretary of state presented figures indicating that since Obama took office in 2009, the number of Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has increased by 95,000, and that 15,000 of that increase has come in the past year alone. 
“How does increasing the number of settlers indicate an attempt to create a Palestinian state?” Kerry asked, raising his voice. “The status quo is not sustainable. So either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.” 
The U.S. secretary of state also spoke with anger, cynicism and frustration about the steps Israel was purportedly taking on the ground to ease the lives of the Palestinians. However, many of the measures have not been implemented at all and remain in the nature of declarations or remain simply on paper. 
“I know this because I was told the Allenby Bridge [between the West Bank and Jordan] would open 24/7. It never did. I was told that the 3G [West Bank cellular service] agreement signed nearly a year ago would take place within months. It still is not fully implemented,” Kerry said. 
“If we really want to get serious about a two-state solution, we need much more than just one-time agreements and improvements. We need to fundamentally change the dynamic by resuming the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority in Area C, which was called for in prior agreements.” 
Area C is the designation for the areas of the West Bank under full Israeli control. 
Kerry concluded by saying that Israelis and Palestinians are at a crossroads. “Either we reverse course and take serious steps on the path to a two-state solution, or the momentum of existing actions will carry us further toward an intractable one-state reality that nobody wants and nobody really thinks can work. 
“The consequences of the current trends reverberate far beyond the immediate damage the destruction and displacement may cause. What’s happening today destroys hope. It empowers extremists,” he added.

If the US opposes genocide, why aren't we intervening in Aleppo?

On February 17, 2016, Lee Smith of Tablet Magazine wrote on the shamefulness of our Syria policy.
Even die-hard supporters of President Barack Obama’s “realist” approach to foreign affairs are nauseated by the White House’s Syria policy. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a vocal supporter of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is fed up with nearly five years of the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of a Syria policy that “has become hard to distinguish” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. “Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame,” Cohen wrote last week, “a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.” 
Ambassador Dennis Ross and New York Times military correspondent David Sanger also published articles excoriating Obama’s policies in Syria. There is a military solution, it’s “just not our military solution,” a senior U.S. security official admitted to Sanger. It’s Putin’s. 
Perhaps most damning of the stink-bouquets was a Washington Post op-ed from former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier and Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff. “It is time for those who care about the moral standing of the United States to say that this policy is shameful,” they wrote. “If the United States and its NATO allies allow [Putin and his allies] to encircle and starve the people of Aleppo, they will be complicit in crimes of war.”
That is what we are doing right now.

Smith continues:
From the very beginning when Assad opened fire on peaceful protesters, to the present, as Russia bombs hospitals, the United States has done nothing to stop Assad and his gory friends—and all the faux-outraged tweets and Putin-blaming in the world will not distract a single Syrian from the plain facts that the United States was not only indifferent to the destruction of their country, but has also diplomatically enabled their horrific suffering. 
Remember when Obama warned Assad not to use chemical weapons against his own people? That, said Obama, “might change his calculus”—i.e., the use of chemical weapons against civilians would be such an obvious and grotesque violation of the international laws and norms and a host of arms agreements that Assad might actually manage to shame commander-in-chief into stopping a genocide. Obama was told repeatedly that Assad was using chemical weapons, but when the butcher of Damascus dared Obama, the leader of the free world blinked and said he wasn’t really going to take military action after all. Even after continued attacks with chemical agents, Obama boasted about getting rid of Assad’s chemical weapons’ arsenal, as if unconventional weapons was the only way the Syrian tyrant could process human flesh through his meat grinder.... 
Lots of people did argue for a no-fly zone or buffer zone to protect Syrians fleeing from Assad’s killing machine. But the White House said no. Mighty Syrian air defenses were too much for the U.S. air force, said former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
There was a time when virtually all of Obama’s national security staff advocated arming the rebels to take down Assad. The president was against it. He derided the opposition. As he told Thomas Friedman in August 2014, “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.” But the reality is that those doctors, farmers, and pharmacists are still out in the field, and might already have stopped the genocide against them on their own, if the president of the United States had been moved to help them help themselves.

Doomsday in Aleppo


The record of the US government in Syria is shameful. We have supported the non-Islamist rebels only sporadically and ineffectively. We have failed to ensure that aid gets through to people besieged by either the Syrian government or rebels. We focus our energy on bombing ISIS (and thus also bomb and kill Syrian civilians), without doing anything to prevent the Syrian government from murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians. We should have intervened long ago - at the very least created a no-fly zone in part of Syria to provide a haven for refugees and to prevent the Syrian government from dropping barrel bombs and chlorine gas on their own people. We should have (and can still) supported the Syrian Kurds far more effectively than we have. On our own, we probably could not have ended the civil war, but we could at least have prevented some of the civilian deaths.

Why do I say this now?

Because of the siege of Aleppo. The bombardment of the rebel-held areas of the city by the Assad regime and the Russians has vastly increased. Yesterday, they "launched ferocious aerial assaults on opposition-held areas of Aleppo amid threats of a big ground offensive."

Two million people are now without access to water - caused both by the Syrian government, which bombed the water station in the eastern part of the city, which is held by the rebels - and by the rebels, who switched off another water station, located in the eastern part of the city, but which furnishes water to the western part, held by the government.

On February 11, 2016, the Syrian Center for Policy Research said that 470,000 Syrians had died as a result of the war. How many have died since then?

The Syrian government is responsible for the overwhelming percentage of deaths of civilians.  In October of 2015, the Syrian Center for Policy Research reported that 3/4 of the civilian deaths in the first half of 2015 were caused by the Syrian government.

An article from yesterday's New York Times tells the horrifying story of the increasingly bloody siege of Aleppo - "'Doomsday Today in Aleppo': Assad and Russian Forces Bombard City."
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Syria’s war escalated abruptly on Friday as government forces and their Russian allies launched ferocious aerial assaults on opposition-held areas of Aleppo amid threats of a big ground offensive, while efforts at the United Nations to revive a cease-fire appeared to collapse. 
Repeated airstrikes that obliterated buildings and engulfed neighborhoods in flames killed about 100 people in Aleppo, the divided northern Syrian city that has epitomized the horrors of the war, turning the brief cease-fire of last week and hopes for humanitarian relief into faint memories. The bombings knocked out running water to an estimated two million people, the United Nations said. 
“It is the worst day that we’ve had for a very long time,” said James Le Mesurier, the head of Mayday Rescue, which trains Syrian rescue workers. “They are calling it Dresden-esque.”

The bombings shook the ground, left residents cowering in their homes and made streets impassable, according to anti-government activists in Aleppo. “You don’t know if you might stay alive or not,” said Modar Shekho, a nurse at al-Dakkak hospital in an opposition-held part of the city. 
“There are no more roads to walk on,” said Zaher Azzaher, an Aleppo activist reached through WhatsApp. “Even between our neighborhoods, the roads are full of rubble and destruction.” .... 
Rescue workers shared numerous videos of men digging children out of piles of debris and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble
Hanaa Singer, the representative for Unicef in Syria, said in a statementthat attacks had damaged the pumping station that provides water to eastern Aleppo, where 250,000 residents are surrounded by government troops. In retaliation, she said, a pumping station in the city’s eastern side was shut off, stopping water from flowing to 1.5 million residents in the city’s western side. 
The population would have to rely on well water, which is often contaminated and would raise the risk of outbreaks of disease, she said. 
Ammar al-Salmo, head of the Aleppo branch of Syria Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue organization, said that three of his group’s centers had been bombed and that some of their rescue vehicles had been knocked out. 
“It is as if Russia and the regime used the truce only to maintain their weapons and plan on next targets,” Mr. Salmo said from Aleppo. “It is like doomsday today in Aleppo.”
See also an article published by Bloomberg today - Syrian Troops Advance in Aleppo Amid War's Heaviest Bombing.
Beirut (AP) -- Syrian troops captured a rebel-held area on the edge of Aleppo on Saturday, tightening their siege on opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city after what residents described as the heaviest air bombardment of the 5 ½-year civil war. 
The U.N. meanwhile said that nearly 2 million people in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and onetime commercial center, are without running water following the escalation in fighting over the past few days....
The Observatory said the death toll in Aleppo is expected to rise since many people are in critical condition and rescue workers are still digging through the rubble. 
Residents say the latest bombardment is the worst they've seen since rebels captured parts of the city in 2012. Activists reported dozens of airstrikes on Friday alone. 
"Since the beginning of the crisis, Aleppo has not been subjected to such a vicious campaign," said Mohammed Abu Jaafar, a forensics expert based in the city. "Aleppo is being wiped out." 
For days, videos and photographs from eastern Aleppo have shown flattened buildings and paramedics pulling bodies from the rubble. Wounded people have flooded into clinics, where many are being treated on the floor because of a lack of stretchers.

"People in Aleppo already suffocating under the effects of the siege, have yet again come under horrific attack," said Carlos Francisco of Doctors Without Borders, which supports a number of area clinics. "No aid, including urgent medical supplies, is allowed to enter."

"We are deeply worried by the high numbers of wounded reported by the hospitals we support, and also know that in many areas the wounded and sick have nowhere to go at all — they are simply left to die." 
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the "chilling" escalation in Aleppo, which he said marked the "most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict." The statement issued by his spokesman said the reported use of "indiscriminate" weapons in densely populated areas "may amount to war crimes." 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at Tufts University in Boston, said what was happening in Aleppo was "beyond the pale." 
"If people are serious about wanting a peaceful outcome to this war, then they should cease and desist bombing innocent women and children, cease cutting off water and laying siege in medieval terms to an entire community," he said.
Kerry is speaking to the wind. The Russians just broke the last agreement to cease fighting, and they and the Syrian government have increased their attacks upon Aleppo.
The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition, one of Syria's main opposition groups, condemned the attacks on Aleppo, calling it "a crazy crime led by the Assad regime and Russian occupation." It said "the criminal campaign aims to settle international accounts at the expense of Syrians' blood." 
The escalation comes as diplomats in New York have failed to salvage a U.S. and Russian-brokered cease-fire that lasted nearly a week. Moscow is a key ally of Assad's government, while Washington supports the opposition. 
Aleppo has been an epicenter of fighting in recent months. It is the last major urban area held by the opposition, and the rebels' defeat there would mark a major turning point in the conflict, which has killed more than 300,000 people and driven half of Syria's population from their homes. [I've seen figures that at least 450,000 people have been killed in Syria, 90% of them by the Syrian government]. 
Living conditions in the already-battered eastern districts have meanwhile grown even worse. 
Recent attacks have damaged the Bab al-Nairab station, which supplies water to some 250,000 people in the rebel-held east, according to Hanaa Singer of the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. 
Singer said that in retaliation, the Suleiman al-Halabi pumping station, also located in the rebel-held east, was switched off — cutting water to 1.5 million people in government-held western parts of the city. 
"Depriving children of water puts them at risk of catastrophic outbreaks of water-borne diseases," Singer warned in her statement, released late Friday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates' list of 13 recommended books on race, slavery, segregation

I just saw this article about Ta-Nehisi Coates' list of recommended books (the link also brings you to an hour-long interview with him), and I'm putting it here to remind myself to start reading some of them, plus his own book, Between the World and Me.

1. “The Fire Next Time” in Collected Essays by James Baldwin. Many years ago I read as much of Baldwin's work as I could get my hands on, including this essay, and his fiction. I need to reread it.

2. The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life, His Own by David Carr

3. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

4. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War by James McPherson

5. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 by Arnold R. Hirsch
6. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America by Beryl Satter. I started reading this - it is about, among other things, the role that the author's father played in fighting against anti-black housing discrimination in Chicago. A quote from the New York Times review: "She persuasively and devastatingly argues (turning conventional wisdom on its head) that the true cause of black ghettoes in Chicago was financial exploitation — not the “culture of poverty” or white flight. She goes further, linking this kind of financial exploitation to today’s subprime mortgage crisis, an earlier example of greedy lenders pushing people “to take on more debt than they could handle” and charging inflated interest rates."
7. Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union from Avalon Project, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School

8. Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood

9. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund S. Morgan

10. Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields

11. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings

12. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings

13. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why not to trust Wikileaks

For those who still have the illusion that Wikileaks is a courageous truth-teller that only publishes in order to challenge the power of oppressive states, see these recent tweets, highlighted by Anshel Pfeffer (Haaretz writer). They show (as previous evidence has also shown) that Assange trafficks in antisemitism.


The three brackets around Twitter handles came originally from alt-right antisemites who used it to identify Jews. Once this was exposed, Jews and other anti-racists started using it to defy the neo-Nazis and make fun of them. That's what Julian Assange is referring to here (assuming he's in control of the Wikileaks Twitter account).

Pfeffer's reply to Assange's tweet, with two tweets from Assange's Neo-Nazi fanboys.







Jews are often accused of being "clannish" and I take "tribalist" to be a synonym for Jews. 

This pissed Assange off and he replied:

I guess this means that anyone who criticizes Assange and Wikileaks, especially with the charge that they now appear to be in the pockets of the Russian government, can't really be anti-racists, especially if they are Jews with black-rim glasses (LOL!).



Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Comparing Trump to Hitler

Over the past few months I've seen an excerpt from the article below about Hitler, the first one published about him in the New York Times in 1922. People have posted the last three paragraphs, which seriously underestimate Hitler and especially his anti-Semitism, and have suggested that they contain a message for us today not to underestimate the fascist potential of Donald Trump. I don't think, at this point, that the exact, specific comparison between Hitler and Trump is helpful, but it is interesting to think about some common features between them, as well as marked differences. 

In this article, Hitler's oratorical and organizational abilities are stressed - abilities which are markedly not possessed by Trump. He also has his own private army (the stormtroopers), which Trump certainly does not have. Trump, like Hitler (and other demagogues in American history) appeals to many people because of troubled economic times (we've had a recovery since the 2008 crash, but it doesn't go very deep and many people lost a great deal that they have not regained) and also appeals to people's bigotry and hatred of those whom they think should stay in their place (Jews, for Hitler and the Nazis; in the US, Trump singles out Muslims and immigrants, especially Mexicans, for special hatred). 

Read the whole article, not just the last three paragraphs, and draw your own conclusions about whether it's useful to compare Trump to Hitler.


NEW POPULAR IDOL RISES IN BAVARIA

Hitler Credited With Extraordinary Powers of Swaying Crowds to His Will.

FORMS GRAY-SHIRTED ARMY

Armed With Blackjacks and Revolvers and Well Disciplined, They Obey Orders Implicitly.

LEADER A REACTIONARY

Is Anti-Red and Anti-Semitic, and Demands Strong Government for a United Germany.

By CYRIL BROWN

Copyright, 1922, by The New York Times Company
By Wireless to The New York Times.

Munich, Nov. 20. – Next to the high cost of living and the dollar, “Der Hitler” and his “Hakenkreuzlers” are the popular topic of talk in Munich and other Bavarian towns. This reactionary Nationalistic anti-Semitic movement has now reached a point where it is considered potentially dangerous, though not for the immediate future.

Hitler today is taken seriously among all classes of Bavarians. He is feared by some, enthusiastically hailed as a prophet and political economic savior by others, and watched with increasing sympathetic interest by the bulk who, apparently, are merely biding the psychological moment to mount Hitler’s bandwagon. Undoubtedly the spectacular success of Mussolini and the Fascisti brought Hitler’s movement to the fore and gained popular interest and sympathy for it. Another condition favorable to the outburst of the movement is the widespread discontent with the existing state of affairs among all classes in the towns and cities under the increasing economic pressure.

Hitler’s “Hakenkreuz” [swastika] movement is essentially urban in character. It has not yet caught a foothold among the hardly Bavarian peasantry and highlanders, which would make it really dangerous. As a highly placed personage put it:
“Hitler organized a small insignificant group of National Socialists two years ago, since when the movement has been smoldering beneath the surface. Now it has eaten its way through, and a conflagration of course is not only possible but certain if this now free flame of fanatical patriotism finds sufficient popular combustible material to feed on.”
Hitler has been called the Bavarian Mussolini, and his followers the Bavarian Fascisti. There is nothing socialistic about the National Socialism he preaches. He has 30,000 organized followers in Munich alone. His total following throughout Bavaria is uncertain, since the movement is in a state of rapid flux. He is wasting no time working out political programs, but devotes his whole energy to recruiting fresh forces and perfecting his organization.

Blackjacks Silence Opposition

“Herr Hitler regrets he is unable to meet you as he is leaving town on important business for several days,” was the answer received by The New York Times correspondent. His important business was going to Regensburg with three special trainloads of Munich admirers for the purpose of holding a series of reactionary inflammatory meetings and incidentally to beat up protesting Socialists and Communists with blackjacks if any dare protest, which is becoming increasingly rarer.

His simple method is, first, propaganda, and secondly, efficient organization. He personally conducts patriotic revival meetings for this purpose, often descending from his stronghold, Munich, on other Bavarian towns with special trainloads of followers. He has the rare oratorical gift, at present unique in Germany, of spellbinding whole audiences regardless of politics or creed. The new converts made at these rallies, those who absolutely and unconditionally pledge themselves to Hitler and his cause, are carefully sifted through and the pick of them who pass the standard military muster are organized into “storm troops” with gray shirts, brassards in the old imperial colors, black and an anti-Semitic Swastika cross in a white circular filed on red; armed with blackjacks and, it is popularly whispered, revolvers.

According to a reliable specialist informant, there are probably 400,000 military rifles and 150 cannon still concealed in Bavaria. So that some fine day Hitler’s legionaries might well make their debut with rifles.

Hitler’s strength is in the combination of his undeniable great gifts as an orator and organizer. He exerts an uncanny control over audiences, possessing the remarkable ability to not only rouse his hearers to a fighting pitch of fury, but at will to turn right around and reduce the same audience to docile calmness and good order. A typical instance is related by the informant mentioned:
“At the height of the recent Bavarian Government crisis Hitler was holding a mass meeting in Munich and had worked up the big audience when a rumor spread through the hall that he had planned a coup and that he would overthrow and seize the Government that night and was about to give the signal at this rally. His followers burst into an enthusiastic uproar, drew and brandished blackjacks and revolvers, and with shouts of ‘Heil, Heil, Heil,’ prepared to follow Hitler and storm anything. 
“With a few electric words he worked a magic change in the audience. Their duty, on which the success of the cause depended, he said, was iron discipline and implicit obedience to orders when orders were given. The time for action had not come yet. And the riot was nipped in the bud.”
A Different Show of Power

A different exhibition of Hitler power: during a mass meeting in Nuremberg, a stronghold of Bavarian socialism, the radical elements undertook a counter-demonstration, massed outside the meeting hall and sang the “Internationale.” The strains of the hated tune heard in the hall enraged Hitler’s followers. At his word of command shock troops of gray shirts with fine discipline marched from the hall, pulled their blackjacks, charged and dispersed the crowd with many a broken head.

Hitler is credited with having a rapidly increasing following among the workers disgruntled by the high cost of living. It is also said many ultra-radicals, including Communists, have flocked to his reactionary banner. He is beginning to draw support from the politically sluggish middle classes, which in Bavaria, however, are not so sluggish as in Berlin. Even more significant there is some active, more passive support and to a still greater extent sympathetic interest for the Hitler movement among the Bavarian loyalists, among monarchists and militarists and in government and political circles, apparently coupled with the idea that the movement would prove a useful tool if it could be controlled by their special interests. But there is also the latent fear that the movement might wax beyond control.

Hitler, in addition to his oratorical and organizing abilities, has another positive asset – he is a man of the “common people” and hence has the makings of a “popular hero,” appealing to all classes. It is reported that he was a worker before becoming leader of the Bavarian Social Nationalists. He served during the war as a common soldier and won the Iron Cross of the First and Second Classes, which for a common soldier is distinctive evidence of exceptional bravery and daring. To Bavarian mentality he talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to present Bavarian public opinion a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.

Chief Points of His Program

Hitler’s program is of less interest than his person and movement. His program consists chiefly of a half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities. He is “against the Jews, Communists, Bolshevism, Marxian socialism, Separatists, the high cost of living, existing conditions, the weak Berlin government, and the Versailles Treaty.” Positive he stands only for “a strong united Germany under a strong Government.”

He is credibly credited with being actuated by lofty, unselfish patriotism. He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish. The keynote of his propaganda in speaking and writing is violent anti-Semitism. His followers are popularly nicknamed “the Hakenkreuzler.” So violent are Hitler’s fulminations against the Jews that a number of prominent Jewish citizens are reported to have sough safe asylums in the Bavarian highlands, easily reached by fast motor cars, whence they could hurry their women and children when forewarned of an anti-Semitic St. Bartholomew’s nigh.

But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.

A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

The Hitler movement is not of mere local or picturesque interest. It is bound to bring Bavaria into a renewed clash with the Berlin Government as long as the German Republic goes even through the motions of trying to live up to the Versailles Treaty. For it is certain the Allies will take umbrage at the Hitler organization as a violation of the military clauses of the treaty and demand disbandment, even as in the case of its predecessor, the Orgesch.

Friday, July 01, 2016

UN Human Rights Council approves action against anti-LGBT violence and discrimination

The UN Human Rights Council has finally done something useful (other than its usual rote denunciations of Israel). By a vote of 23-18, with 6 abstentions, it voted to "deplore" violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also voted to appoint an independent expert "on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity." The text of the whole resolution is below.

The yes votes were: Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela, and Viet Nam. [I think this list must be incorrect, because Nigeria stated during the discussion before the vote on the resolution that it opposed it - unless its position changed just before the actual voting].

Those voting no were: Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Togo, and United Arab Emirates.

Those abstaining were: Botswana, Ghana, India, Maldives, Philippines, and South Africa.

The official UN report recounts the voting both on the resolution itself and on various amendments that were brought forth by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that would have totally eviscerated the meaning of the resolution.

Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Nigeria (speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], with the exception of Albania) put forward an amendment to take no action. This was rejected 22 against, 15 in favor, and 9 abstentions.

Nigeria also spoke in favor of the amendment to take no action:
Nigeria took the floor on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, with the exception of Albania, and spoke in favour of the no-action motion on draft resolution L.2 as requested by Saudi Arabia. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation believed that the draft resolution L.2 was divisive and was concerned that the lack of definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity and the attached human rights and fundamental freedoms carried certain responsibility for States. The controversial views of those issues could not be imposed by some Member States. The adoption of the resolution would ensure that the attention on sexual orientation and gender identity issues as seen by the Western States would take root in the United Nations, without taking into account the views of a large number of States. The draft resolution was highly divisive and would create rancour within the Council which now should be focusing on its core agenda.
Pakistan then put forward ten amendments on behalf of OIC (with the exception of Albania). Saudi Arabia spoke in favor of the amendments:
Saudi Arabia, speaking in a general comment, said that the universality of human rights did not mean the imposition of certain so-called human rights concepts or ideas imposed from the point of view of another party, when those ran counter to some beliefs and specificities. Protecting the universality of human rights should not go beyond the main framework of human rights and be used to interfere in the affairs of sovereign States. The draft resolution imposed a specific notion that ran counter to religions. Saudi Arabia would not compromise or barter man-made legislation against divine laws. Islam knew the true meaning of human rights. The international community had to refrain from using the Council to interfere in the affairs of other sovereign States. Such resolutions would compromise the functioning of the Council. All were called on to vote yes for the amendments. 
The proposed amendments sought to insert statements that put the values of religion (most obviously Islam) and culture over those of human rights for LGBT people. These are the seven that were adopted:
Stressing the need to maintain joint ownership of the international human rights agenda and to consider human rights issues in an objective and non-confrontational manner, [adopted 24-17-4]

Undertaking to support its broad and balanced agenda, and to strengthen the mechanisms addressing issues of importance, including fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their forms, [adopted 23-17-5]

Reiterating the importance of respecting regional, cultural and religious value systems as well as particularities in considering human rights issues, [adopted 20-18-6]

Underlining the fundamental importance of respecting relevant domestic debates at the national level on matters associated with historical, cultural, social and religious sensitivities, [adopted 21-17-7]

Deploring the use of external pressures and coercive measures against States, particularly developing countries, including through the use and threat of use of economic sanctions and/or application of conditionality on official development assistance, with the aim of influencing the relevant domestic debates and decision-making processes at the national level, [No one had suggested these measures]. [adopted 23-18-4]

Concerned by any attempt to undermine the international human rights system by seeking to impose concepts or notions pertaining to social matters, including private individual conduct, that fall outside the internationally agreed human rights legal framework, and taking into account that such attempts constitute an expression of disregard for the universality of human rights, [adopted 17-18-9 - if this is a correct record of the vote, then this amendment was rejected, not adopted]
Underlining that the present resolution should be implemented while ensuring respect for the sovereign right of each country as well as its national laws, development priorities, the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and should also be in full conformity with universally recognized international human rights, [adopted 22-17-5]
From what I can see of the resolution as it was adopted, it seems that the first paragraph of the preamble incorporated language from these seven amendments, but did not include the most inflammatory one, about "external pressures."

The next amendment, L.80, would have entirely replaced the second paragraph of the resolution with these words: "Deplores acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." This amendment was rejected: 16 in favor, 20 against, and 8 abstentions.

Amendment L.81 would have replaced paragraphs 3-8 with the following words, which totally eliminated any reference to sexual orientation or gender identity:

Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report to the to the Human Rights Council, at its thirty-fifth session, on the protection of all individuals against violence and discrimination committed because of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status with a focus on major challenges and best practices in this regard;
This amendment was also rejected: 17 in favor, 19 opposed, and 8 abstentions.

In the discussion leading up to the final vote on the resolution, Saudi Arabia said:
Saudi Arabia, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that this draft resolution went contrary to its sacred values. It sought to impose issues that were prohibited by Saudi Arabia’s religion. This had nothing to do with discrimination or violence. The adoption of this mandate holder would lead to discussions on controversial issues that the Council would never be in a position to impose on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia would vote against this text, and would not cooperate with the Independent Expert.
Morocco said:
This text ran against the beliefs of more than 1.5 billion people in the world. Islam was a religion of non-violence, and Morocco had made great commitments in that regard. But today it was forced to call on all States to vote against this text, in order to support those outside the United Nations who expected the Council to protect their culture and values. 
The Russian Federation said:
Russian Federation, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that authorities in Russia carefully investigated and prosecuted all cases of violence and discrimination. Elements of private life were deeply individual choices, and they did not need a particular system of protection. International law, and national law in Russia, was extended in all areas equally, including women, ethnic or religious minorities or homosexuals. The Russian Federation noted that many thousands of years of development was carried out by those who did not make such a private choice, and the Russian Federation regretted that the co-sponsors of this resolution were trying to prevent others from defending their own views. The Russian Federation would vote against the creation of this mandate, and should it be established nonetheless, it would not cooperate with it. [In fact, gays and lesbians in Russia are discriminated against, are subject to great violence, and can run afoul of the state if they engage in so-called pro-gay propaganda].
Albania, the only majority Muslim state that voted in favor of the resolution, explained its vote as follows:
Albania, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, commended the leadership of the core group protesting against violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Violence against any individual was condemned, and the inherent dignity of all individuals should be upheld. The protection from violence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons was a priority for the Albanian Government. The aim of the draft resolution was to appoint a Special Procedure mandate holder, who could work on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The current text of the resolution did not seek to create any new rights, but affirmed the application of existing human rights standards.
Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

The Human Rights Council,
Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

Recalling that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action affirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated, that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis, and that while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Recalling also General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, in which the Assembly stated that the Human Rights Council should be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner,

Recalling further Human Rights Council resolutions 17/19 of 17 June 2011 and 27/32 of 26 September 2014,

Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 of 18 June 2007,

1. Reaffirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status;

2. Strongly deplores acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;

3. Decides to appoint, for a period of three years, an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, with the following mandate:
(a) To assess the implementation of existing international human rights instruments with regard to ways to overcome violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, while identifying both best practices and gaps;
(b) To raise awareness of violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to identify and address the root causes of violence and discrimination;
(c) To engage in dialogue and to consult with States and other relevant stakeholders, including United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and academic institutions;
(d) To work in cooperation with States in order to foster the implementation of measures that contribute to the protection of all persons against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
(e) To address the multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of violence and discrimination faced by persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity;
(f) To conduct, facilitate and support the provision of advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and international cooperation in support of national efforts to combat violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
4. Requests the Independent Expert to report annually to the Human Rights Council, starting from its thirty-fifth session, and to the General Assembly, starting from its seventy-second session;

5. Calls upon all States to cooperate with the Independent Expert in the discharge of the mandate, including by providing all information requested, to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Independent Expert to visit their countries and to consider implementing the recommendations made in the mandate holder’s reports;

6. Encourages all relevant stakeholders, including United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, national independent monitoring frameworks, civil society, the private sector, donors and development agencies to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert to enable the mandate holder to fulfil his or her mandate;

7. Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Independent Expert with all the human, technical and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of his or her mandate;

8. Decides to remain seized of this issue.