Monday, December 26, 2016

On the anti-settlement UN resolution

Marc Goldberg wrote an excellent post for Harry's Place on the UN resolution. Here's the beginning:
I’ve written two posts about this anti settlement resolution at Times of Israel so I combined them into one long post here: 
On Friday evening in Israel we learned that the United Nations Security Council had passed yet another resolution against Israel. This resolution condemned settlement building and referred to East Jerusalem as occupied territory. The full text of the resolution can be found here
Originally this resolution was put together by Egypt but after some last minute behind the scenes wrangling Egypt dropped it only for it to be pushed forward by Senegal, Venezuela and New Zealand. The resolution passed with 14 votes for and none against with the USA abstaining. Every single member of the Security Council voted for this resolution with just one abstention, the USA....
The big story around this resolution at the moment is that the outgoing Obama administration didn’t veto it. Netanyahu has spent the last eight years completely ignoring Obama’s initiatives when it comes to Israeli Palestinian peacemaking, making statements about expanding settlements when American diplomats arrive in the country, campaigning personally in Washington DC against Obama’s Iran deal and involving himself in US Presidential election campaigns against him. In the end it looks like Obama just had enough.
Read the rest - it's really good.

Hanukkah Party tonight!

I went to my synagogue's Hanukkah party tonight and people brought many pretty hanukkiyot (menorahs for Hanukkah) to light. I saw a dinosaur, two snarling lions, a row of houses, and little boxes with candles in them, plus mine - a classic surmounted by the Star of David, and a music box that plays Hatikvah.

Dinosaur!

Two angry lions


Houses and trees
A little row of boxes

My menorah



Antisemitic Nazi march in Whitefish, Montana

All Coming Together

Josh Marshall on the threatened neo-Nazi march in Whitefish, Montana:
There was some news of this already. But now it's coming together. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer is organizing an armed march against Jews in Whitefish, Montana.

To remind you, this stems from the fact that "alt-right" leader Richard Spencer's parents live in Whitefish - otherwise it's not known as a center of American Jewry. 
Mainstreamed anti-Semitism, loose gun laws, Bannonism, even the 'Whitefish' (you'll get it if you're Jewish), it's all there in one hideous package. They're trying to put it together for the second week of January.

Happy and Merry Chrismukkah from the Republican and Democratic parties this year!

The Republican party sent out rather peculiar Christmas wishes this year:


I wonder when the author of this statement last read the New Testament. Matthew 2:1-2 reads, "In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.'"

The wise men came to visit Jesus after he was born, not on the day of his birth.

For Christians, doesn't Christmas mark the birth of Christ the king, not a "new King"? Who are they referring to? Jesus or Donald Trump?

And finally, this statement speaks from a Christian perspective - there's no differentiation between the speaker and the Christian message - "a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind." Jesus is unequivocally the Savior. While the message starts, "Merry Christmas to all," the Republicans are speaking to their fellow Christians in this message, not to all Americans.

So what wishes did the Republican Party send about Hanukkah this year?



This message differentiates the speaker(s) from those receiving the wishes. They speak to "our Jewish friends." The statement is addressed to Jews specifically, without the false universalism of the Christmas wishes. I find it creepy to be addressed as "our Jewish friends," with the clear indication that "we," the Republican party, has Jewish friends - but not that the "we" includes Jews (although of course there are plenty of Jewish Republicans).

And the Democrats? Both messages are addressed to those celebrating.  The Democratic message doesn't send Christmas wishes to "all," unlike the Republican message. Jews are not "our Jewish friends"; they, like Christians, are those who celebrate their specific holiday.










Friday, December 23, 2016

Text of UN Security Council resolution on Israel-Palestine

This is the text of today's UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, from Haaretz.

I've underlined the passages that condemn terrorism and that hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for fighting against it.
The Security Council, 
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008), 
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, 
Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice, 
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions, 
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, 
Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001, 
Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, 
Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground, 
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace; 
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard; 
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations, 
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution; 
5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967; 
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace; 
8. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010; 
9. Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;

10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement; 
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions; 
12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution; 
13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

J Street and Ameinu on the passage of the UNSC settlement resolution

Two liberal American Jewish organizations, J Street and Ameinu, have just issued statements supporting the UNSC anti-settlement resolution and commending the US for abstaining on the resolution. I agree with the Ameinu statement, especially the paragraph on Jerusalem.

J Street:
J Street welcomes the decision today by the Obama administration to abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution which reaffirms the need for a two-state solution and calls for a halt to actions by both sides that serve to undermine the prospects for peace. 
The resolution is consistent with longstanding bipartisan American policy, which includes strong support for the two-state solution, and clear opposition to irresponsible and damaging actions including Palestinian incitement and terror and Israeli settlement expansion and home demolitions. 
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only end based on mutual agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, and President Obama has repeatedly stated his opposition to the United Nations -- or any other entity -- imposing a binding resolution on the parties. He also has stated and demonstrated a commitment to vetoing UNSC resolutions that are one-sided or anti-Israel. 
Recent Congressional resolutions have reaffirmed this position. They have made clear that there is no US obligation to veto UNSC resolutions, like the one passed today, which acknowledge harmful actions, rhetoric or policies of both parties to the conflict. In fact, Democratic and Republican Presidents alike have frequently supported such UN Security Council resolutions on the conflict. 
Indeed, a Congressional resolution earlier this year joined by 64 Members of the House of Representatives, and supported by J Street and the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, encouraged the US government to “firmly articulat[e] 49 years of consistent, bipartisan United States opposition to settlement expansion.” 
This resolution conveys the overwhelming support of the international community, including Israel’s closest friends and allies, for the two-state solution, and their deep concern over the deteriorating status quo between Israelis and Palestinians and the lack of meaningful progress toward peace. It is also a clear signal that the international community's patience with an occupation of almost 50 years has limits. 
Over the past few years, a major increase in settlement expansion and other activities that undermine the two-state solution have made clear the urgent need for strong US and international leadership to help preserve it, to remind the parties of the responsibilities and to help move them back on the path to a comprehensive negotiated agreement. 
The consistent failure of the Palestinian leadership to adequately condemn acts of terror against Israeli civilians, and the apparent commitment of the current Israeli government to expanding, entrenching and retroactively legalizing settlement expansion and land seizure in the West Bank, warrant a strong rebuke from the international community and a clear affirmation of the commitments that are needed from both sides. This resolution helps to fill that need. 
The overwhelming majority of American Jewish supporters of Israel continue to believe that the two-state solution is the only way to secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, and support strong American leadership to help achieve that goal, even when that means criticizing and rebuking counter-productive actions of the Israeli government. Election Day 2016 polling found that 62 percent of Jewish voters believe the United States should either support or abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank. 
Moving forward, J Street hopes that both Israelis and Palestinians will respect the sense of this resolution and take appropriate steps in response. President Abbas and the Palestinians must show far greater vigilance and seriousness in opposing and condemning acts of terror, and acts of incitement -- including actions at the UN that ignore Israeli rights and historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the holy sites of the Jewish people. Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israelis must reverse the overwhelming tide of settlement expansion in the West Bank, cease home demolitions and expulsions of Palestinian residents, and marginalize prominent leaders calling for a “one-state solution,” annexation, or permanent occupation. 
We urge all actors, including the incoming US administration, to recognize that this resolution is now the benchmark set by the international community and must be respected as such. Steps to abrogate or ignore it would not only damage Israel’s future and the prospects for a two-state solution, but undermine American interests and standing in the world.
Ameinu:
(New York, December 23, 2016) – Responding to news that the United States abstained on a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlement activity, thereby allowing its passage, Kenneth Bob and Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO respectively of Ameinu, North America’s largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization, issued the following statement:

"Ameinu believes that the decision to abstain is a reasonable response to the resolution as presented and is valuable to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. While the wording of the draft UNSC resolution is not perfect, particularly with regard to Jerusalem, and while the core issues between Israel and the Palestinians must ultimately be decided by direct negotiations by the parties themselves rather than by international action, abstention should not be viewed or described as an abandonment of Israel.

Ameinu notes that, compared to other proposals debated at the UN, this resolution is balanced and focused on Israeli settlement activity rather than on broad and extremely biased condemnations of Israel, as normally seen at the UN. Ameinu also appreciates that the resolution recognizes that the conflict continues because of actions of both parties as it:
“Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism…”
Ameinu strongly agrees with the resolution’s statements on terrorism and believes that actions by the Palestinians to implement this provision, including in the area of incitement, will be crucial for a negotiated settlement to be reached.

In the past the Obama Administration has vetoed UNSC resolutions as unfair and biased against Israel, as part of its unprecedented security and political support for the special relationship between Israel and the United States. However, the specific resolution and actions on the ground in Israel -- including continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, action on legislation to retroactively legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land and statements from key government ministers that the era of the Palestinian state is over – justify the decision to abstain in the interest of preserving a two-state solution.

While overall Ameinu believes the resolution is fair, in one area we continue to be very uncomfortable with the language used. The complexity of Jerusalem over the Green Line is not well delineated in the UNSC resolution. For example, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall are simply not the same as Palestinian neighborhoods like Silwan in East Jerusalem where Palestinian residents are being intentionally displaced. States seeking to implement this resolution must make this distinction if they are to serve the goals of the resolution and to promote a two-state solution.

Ameinu hopes that both the Government of Israel and the Palestinians will work with the international community, the Obama Administration and the incoming Trump Administration to take all steps possible to work towards a two-state solution and division of the land to allow for the creation of a State of Palestine living at peace next to the Jewish State of Israel."

U.N. Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements Is Approved; U.S. Abstains

U.N. Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements Is Approved; U.S. Abstains
UNITED NATIONS — Defying extraordinary pressure from President-elect Donald J. Trump and furious lobbying by Israel, the Obama administration on Friday allowed the United Nations Security Council to adopt a contentious resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction. 
The administration’s decision not to veto the measure broke a longstanding American tradition of serving as Israel’s sturdiest diplomatic shield.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Trump's Budget Director Pick Spoke at a John Birch Society Event

Mick Mulvaney, whom Trump has picked to be his budget director, made a speech in July, 2016, to a chapter of the John Birch Society. According to Mother Jones:
In the speech, Mulvaney blasted the Federal Reserve, saying its actions have "effectively devalued the dollar" and "choke[d] off economic growth." He praised bitcoin as a currency that is "not manipulatable by any government." He told his audience, "You all put out some really good stuff and it's always interesting." He said he was "looking forward to reading The Shadows of Power," a 1988 book by James Perloff with the subtitle "The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline." The book advances conspiracy theories about the New York-based think tank, alleging that it advocates "the creation of a world government." After referring to this book, he told the crowd, "Keep doing it."
This is not normal.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gleichschaltung and how to avoid it

So, why the rush to defend Trump’s supporters? Why the self-recriminations? Why the willingness to stretch the bounds of legitimacy to accommodate Trump’s antics? Much has been written about Trump’s demagoguery and its similarity to totalitarian leaders of the past, but what about Trump’s opponents? Are many of us borrowing a page from totalitarianism without realizing it? Are we empowering him? Are we coordinating? 
The word Gleichschaltung is often translated from the German as “coordination” and refers to the process of ― politically speaking ― getting in line. It often appears in books about the Nazi era. German Jewish philologist Victor Klemperer and German journalist Joachim Fest wrote about the personal cost of coordinating in their respective memoirs. German author Sebastian Haffner and Americans including journalist William Shirer wrote about the propaganda and politics of coordination.

German-born Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, in one of her last interviews, explains it best. 
“The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did, but what our friends did. Friends ‘coordinated’ or got in line.” And this coordination was not necessarily due to the “pressure of terror,” said Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933. Intellectuals were particularly vulnerable to this wave of coordination. “The essence of being an intellectual is that one fabricates ideas about everything,” and many intellectuals of her time were “trapped by their own ideas.”

Israelis demonstrating for peace in Syria

Demonstrators in Tel Aviv. Credit: Tag Meir.
In Israel, Tag Meir organized a demonstration last night to protest the massacres of civilians in Syria. The demonstrators formed a human chain from the American to the Russian embassies.
Thanks to over 1000 people who turned up last night to form a human chain along Hayarkon Street to protest the massacre of civilians in Syria. 
Protesters formed a chain connecting the American Embassy and the Russian Embassy building - over 800 meters. 
We held protest signs against the massacre and called upon the most powerful nations in the world to stop the killing of civilians. 
As Israelis, we can not stand by silent, when innocent people are being murdered not far from Israel's borders. 
Stop the slaughter in Syria!

Another strange incident....this time in Minneapolis: "Heil Hennepin!"

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo just posted a strange story sent to him by a reader in Minneapolis:
I wanted to share a really disorienting experience I had yesterday morning in Minneapolis. I live in one of the most liberal neighborhoods in the city. We had a sizable snowfall on Friday night, so my wife and I were shoveling out our front walk on Saturday morning.

As we were digging, a guy in a van drove by and came to a stop. He rolled down his window and said, "I was going to make a funny, but no..." and then shouted "Heil Hennepin! Heil Hennepin! Heil Hennepin!" while making a Nazi salute.... 
As it happens, my wife and I have been having a debate since the election about whether to put up a yard sign with a welcoming message to all our diverse neighbors. I agree with the sign in principle but I'm worried it could make our house a target for vandalism - or worse, considering Trump's lack of a problem with his supporters' violence. 
My worry now, however, is that this is how free speech dies. Random intimidating acts keep normal people from speaking in favor of normality. I can't believe this is happening in our country - in our very city, liberal Minneapolis. But here we are. It is different than anything I have ever experienced, and I suspect that anybody younger than the oldest generation has experienced....

America, 2016: Do not say that you did not know

From Think Progress: "White nationalists target Jews in small Montana town"
A white-supremacist call to action to “troll” Jewish people in Whitefish, Montana — home of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s mother — is gaining support on social media and putting lives in danger. 
On Friday, Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer published an inflammatory article about Jews “targeting Richard Spencer’s mother,” Sherry Spencer, claiming that her real estate business is failing because of public backlash against her son, a white supremacist and prominent member of the National Policy Institute (NPI) who coined the term “alt-right.” 
Anglin falsely claimed that Jewish people in Montana are “harassing” Sherry, attempting to extort money from her, and forcing her to sell a building she owns — all because they disagree with her son. He cites a Daily Mail article in which Sherry complains that her sons’ views are damaging her business. The article does not mention any particular religion. But Anglin called on his readers to harass Jews, describing them as a “vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths” and “a people without shame.”
The post included photos, phone numbers, email address, and social media accounts of members of Love Lives Now, a peace organization “committed to co-creating a caring, open, accepting and diverse community, free from discrimination and dedicated to equal treatment,” which is smeared by Anglin as a “terrorist group.” The action also incorporated photos of a local real estate owner, her husband, and young sons, as well as addresses where people can find them.
The Daily Stormer’s call for Jews to be targeted is the latest in a string of hateful activities by white nationalists who are emboldened by President-elect Donald Trump....

And Jewish people are some of the primary targets.
The last link is to an earlier Think Progress article, "How Donald Trump’s Campaign Collapsed Into An Anti-Semitic Vacuum," published on July 7, 2016, and written by Jack Jenkins.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Now the sword shall never depart from your house

I am reminded of this biblical curse uttered by the prophet Nathan to David (2 Sam 12:9-12):
9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
From Frederic Hof in today's Washington Post: "Everyone will be paying for Aleppo for as far as the eye can see: Syrians and what remains of 'the West' will be taxed at the highest rates."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why has the American left failed the people of Syria?

I've wondered for a long time why American leftist groups have not come out strongly against the Assad regime and why they did not support the democratic revolutionaries at the beginning of the Syrian revolution. It has never made sense to me why our local leftists here in Ithaca, who are very eager to demonstrate against Israel, have never gone out to demonstrate in favor of the Syrian people against the vicious Assad regime, since the Assad regime has killed far more Syrians than Israel has ever killed Palestinians. I'm not saying that they shouldn't protest Israel, but that it seems hypocritical to me that it's only Israel they protest.

An article in a media source that I would never have consulted on this issue is actually quite illuminating - the Socialist Worker. I remember this newspaper from about 1970, when it was sold at anti-Vietnam War rallies, and after that from other leftist gatherings in the Boston area, where I grew up. My memory of it was as a totally ideologically-driven propaganda rag that was increasingly anti-Israel. Well, it's still anti-Israel, and anti-imperialist, but their analysis of the position of the American left on Syria (that is, left of the Democratic Party) seems quite accurate to me.

*Addendum - just to make it clear, I haven't suddenly become either a socialist or a Trotskyist, but their analysis of the situation has made the situation in Syria much clearer to me.

In an article called Anti-Imperialism and the Syrian Revolution, the author, Ashley Smith, writes, "THE SYRIAN Revolution has tested the left internationally by posing a blunt question: Which side are you on? Do you support the popular struggle against dictatorship and for democracy? Or are you with Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime, his imperial backer Russia, his regional ally Iran and Iran's proxies like Hezbollah from Lebanon?"

According to the author, from the very beginning of the Syrian revolution, "a whole section of the left opposed the popular uprising against the Assad dictatorship that began in early 2011, part of the Arab Spring wave of popular rebellions against dictatorship and repression." This section of the left ignored Assad's massacres and his use of barrel bombs, chemical weapons, and siege of cities, like Aleppo.

What was this section of the left? Stalinist groups like the Workers World Party, Party of Socialis and Liberation, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. They "never wavered in their support for the Assad regime." They always support opponents of the US government, regardless of how oppressive those opponents are.

As the article says, "Prominent figures on the broader left adopted a similar position," namely Patrick Cockburn and Robert Fisk, and Britain's Stop the War coalition. The American Communist Party's U.S. Peace Council (a fringe group indeed) sent a delegation to meet with Assad. "They justified their sympathy with Assad by claiming that he was resisting U.S. imperialism's backing of Islamic fundamentalist forces to carry out regime change in Syria."

The article then traces the historical support that groups like these gave to Stalinist Russia after WWII:
The answer starts with the Stalinist left's support of Stalin's Russia and Mao's China during the Cold War era. It supported those state capitalist dictatorships not only as opponents of U.S. imperialism, but as positive models of socialism.

Thus, some of the same currents that today support Assad yesterday defended murderous repression of workers' rebellions and even imperialist invasions in the past.

They stood with Russia's crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring in 1968 and Poland's Solidarity in 1981. They supported Mao's China when the regime wrecked workers and peasants' lives through the Great Leap Forward and oppressed Tibetans in a decades-long occupation. They defended regimes like Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe as anti-imperialist, despite his relentless crackdown on all dissent.

Even today, when all the world's states are obviously capitalist, these leftists support oppressive regimes as "anti-imperialist" so long as they oppose the U.S. in some form. Under the faulty logic that "my enemy's enemy is my friend," popular struggles for democracy are denounced as the work of American imperialism if they protest the wrong regime.

This attitude, referred to as "campism," has distorted much of the left's response to popular uprisings in the Middle East. For example, Iran's "green movement" was dismissed as a creation of the U.S. drive to overthrow former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

As a consequence of this flawed underlying approach, the campist left reacted to the Arab Spring in a completely incoherent fashion.

Everyone on the left supported the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions of early 2011 because these countries were considered U.S. allies. But the campists opposed pro-democracy uprisings in Libya and Syria, even though these revolts were driven by the same economic and political grievances--and clearly inspired by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

Why? Because the dictatorships that masses of people were rebelling against could be depicted as "anti-imperialist" opponents of the U.S.
These campists assume that there is only one imperialist power in the world, the US, when it is apparent that there are several other imperialist nations who aspire to the same status as the US - Russia and China.

So how does this relate to people outside minuscule Stalinist groups that no one in the US listens to anyway? The author of the article argues that campism has shaped the viewpoint of whole sections of the left outside of these Stalinist groups.
UNFORTUNATELY, CAMPISM has shaped the viewpoint of whole sections of the left--even parts that are far removed from the Stalinism of the Workers World Party. It has, for example, informed the attitudes of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and especially her vice presidential running mate Ajamu Baraka. 
Stein rightly opposes U.S. intervention in Syria, but has made little to no criticism of Assad and his war on the Syrian people. Even worse, Baraka openly supports the Assad regime. Both have appeared on Russia's state-sponsored, English-language RT television network to speak in opposition to U.S. war crimes, while remaining silent about Putin's and Assad's atrocities. 
Many Syrian revolutionaries and solidarity activists are rightly furious about this stance from the major left-wing alternative in Election 2016. Stein and Baraka each have proud records of standing against exploitation, oppression, racism and war, and their campaign is, in almost every other respect, a principled challenge to the two parties of capital and militarism--the Democrats and Republicans. But anti-imperialists must not stay silent about this awful exception.
This is the author's conclusion:
The task of the international left today is to oppose intervention by any of the imperialist and regional powers, reject the tyranny of the Assad regime itself, demand the opening of the borders to those fleeing the violence and chaos, collaborate with Syrian revolutionaries--and win people away from campism to the politics of international solidarity from below.
Update -

The same author's most recent article on the fall of Aleppo.

https://socialistworker.org/2016/12/13/the-counterrevolution-crushes-aleppo

The concluding paragraph:
Internationally, the left must reckon with its failure to unanimously support the Syrian Revolution, and it needs to re-learn how to combine opposition to all forms of imperialism with solidarity with revolution from below
Whether that would work is unknown, but at least it has the virtue of calling to account not only the United States but also Russia (or China) for their interference around the world.
As part of that effort, we must oppose the tide of xenophobia and Islamophobia, and demand that our own governments admit any and all Syrian refugees who want to come to the U.S., and provide them with sanctuary and assistance to rebuild their lives.
I totally agree, although I don't think there's much chance of the incoming Trump administration welcoming more Syrian refugees (the Obama administration has admitted a grand total of 10,000 Syrians this year).

--------------------------

An interesting article by Gilbert Achcar, on Yemen and Syria: https://socialistworker.org/2016/10/27/standing-against-barbarism. Although he doesn't mention it in this article, the US backs Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

--------------------------

Another interesting article on a new left-wing coalition group that holds the US entirely responsible for the horror of Syria - illustrating the Stalinist point of view that Ashley Smith analyzes and denounces: https://socialistworker.org/2016/10/24/opposing-war-means-opposing-dictators. Among those belonging to this new coalition group, the U.S. Hands Off Syria Coalition -

  • Al-Awda — Palestine National Right to Return Coalition 
  • ANSWER Coalition 
  • Ecumenical Peace Institute Clergy and Laity Concerned 
  • International Action Center 
  • United National Antiwar Coalition — UNAC
More on these groups:

ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) proudly lists its major actions since 2001. In September of 2013 they held rallies across the country opposing any American intervention in Syria, under the title "Hands off Syria!" Now they're pushing a petition to Congress against a proposed House bill to create a no-fly zone in Syria. The article says, "The bill's name is tragically ironic given the large number of Syrian civilians killed in recent weeks by U.S. airstrikes, which are being conducted illegally without the permission of the Syrian government." Of course, there is no mention of the manifold atrocities the Syrian government has committed against its own people. An article lauding the Russian entrance into the war in 2015 says "It is critically important that progressive forces abandon the false language and political characterizations being spoon-fed to the public by the pro-imperialist media." I don't think anyone could accuse the Socialist Worker of being "pro-imperialist," and this article just reinforces the article by Ashley Smith discussed above.

So who is behind ANSWER? According to a 2002 article in the LA Weekly, the Workers World Party. 
This was no accident, for the demonstration was essentially organized by the Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro‘s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s "socialist system," which, according to the party‘s newspaper, has kept North Korea ”from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.“ The WWP has campaigned against the war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, "Iraq has done absolutely nothing wrong."
Officially, the organizer of the Washington demonstration was International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). But ANSWER is run by WWP activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials -- including spokesperson Brian Becker -- are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWER’s protest were housed in WWP offices. Earlier this year, when ANSWER conducted a press briefing, at least five of the 13 speakers were WWP activists. They were each identified, though, in other ways, including as members of the International Action Center. 
The IAC, another WWP offshoot, was a key partner with ANSWER in promoting the protest. It was founded by Ramsey Clark, attorney general for President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. For years, Clark has been on a bizarre political odyssey, much of the time in sync with the Workers World Party. As an attorney, he has represented Lyndon LaRouche, the leader of a political cult. He has defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who was accused of participating in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Clark is also a member of the International Committee To Defend Slobodan Milosevic. The international war-crimes tribunal, he explains, ”is war by other means“ -- that is, a tool of the West to crush those who stand in the way of U.S. imperialism, like Milosevic. A critic of the ongoing sanctions against Iraq, Clark has appeared on talking-head shows and refused to concede any wrongdoing on Saddam‘s part. There is no reason to send weapons inspectors to Iraq, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: "After 12 years of brutalization with sanctions and bombing they‘d like to be a country again. They’d like to have sovereignty again. They‘d like to be left alone."

The end of Aleppo


From Michael Weiss, Roy Gutman, and Alex Rowell, Daily Beast, December 12, 2016, 11:15 pm
Amid celebratory gunfire and cheers from Assad loyalists, foreign militias under Iranian command and troops loyal to the regime on Monday captured about 90 percent of the opposition-held areas of eastern Aleppo.... 
A member of the group in Aleppo told al-Arabiya TV on Monday night that men, women, and children were huddling and crying in the streets and at the gates of empty buildings in the few neighborhoods that remained in the hands of the opposition. He described the situation as hopeless, because precision munitions and indiscriminate barrel bombs had destroyed the city’s medical facilities, ambulances, and fuel supply. 
Unconfirmed reports, circulated by opposition media, suggest that mass atrocities have already begun, such as the summary executions of 17 in al-Kalaseh neighborhood, 22 in Bostan al-Kasrand, and the immolation of four women and nine children on al-Firdous Street. The Daily Beast could not independently confirm these figures.... 
Activists and residents of the ever-dwindling opposition pocket, an urban islet of about five square kilometers and home to as many as 100,000 people, spent the day signing off from social media, asking journalists to tell their story, and warning of their impending demise.
Here are the last messages from Bana Alabed and her mother Fatemah:
More from the Daily Beast article:
Lina al-Shamy, a 26-year-old woman, posted a video of herself to Twitter. Speaking in fluent English, al-Shamy said: “To everyone who can hear me. We are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo. This may be my last video. More than 50,000 civilians who rebelled against the dictator, al-Assad, are threatened with field executions or dying under bombing. According to activists, more than 180 people have been field executed in the areas the regime has recently retook control of by Assad’s gangs and the militias that support them. The civilians are stuck in a very small area that doesn’t exceed two square kilometers. With no safe zones, no life, every bomb is a new massacre. Save Aleppo, save humanity.”...
On several rebel chat forums on the popular messaging application Telegram, there were calls for the youth of Syria to wage “jihad” against the conquerors of Aleppo, if only to defend the honor of women who had allegedly been raped in the course of the Assadist blitzkrieg. 
Whether or not that particular war crime has yet occurred in Aleppo—though human rights monitors have documented mass rape in Syrian regime prisons since the start of the conflict—the call for holy war against the regime may yet take hold. For this reason, the CIA and Joints Chiefs of Staff earlier advised the Obama administration that the fall of eastern Aleppo, apart from being a humanitarian catastrophe, would also constitute a counterterrorism threat to the United States. The radicalization of survivors is all but a foregone conclusion....

Despite the gravity of the day’s events, and the many breaches of international law that led to the collapse of the rebel-held area, U.S. political leaders were slow to comment. President Obama has watched in silence as Russia and the Assad regime have committed what Secretary of State John Kerry called crimes against humanity, and Donald Trump has not once publicly mentioned the word “Aleppo” on his favorite social media platform, Twitter, since being elected president of the United States a month ago....

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Terrorist attacks in the last 48 hours....

From Ali H. Soufan:

Donald Trump didn't need Steve Bannon to be attracted to the so-called alt right

In case you mistakenly thought that Donald Trump has nothing to do with the so-called alt right, see this article from Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs from a year ago, on November 22, 2015: We Found Where Donald Trump's "Black Crimes" Graphic Came From.

Trump tweeted a link to this image (which is completely untrue, by the way):


Charles Johnson discovered that the first appearance of this image on Twitter came from a user named "Non Dildo'd Goyim," who said in his bio, "Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache." (Hitler, obviously). The avatar of this person was: 


According to Johnson, this image is a modified swastika and during the Nazi era was the symbol of the so-called German Faith Movement.

As Johnson said then:
So there you have it. Donald Trump is posting racist imagery that comes directly from neo-Nazis. 
I hope you’re not surprised that a guy like Donald Trump, who continually spouts fascist rhetoric, is attracted to fascist memes posted by neo-Nazis. This is where the right wing has ended up in 2015.
As you can see, Trump tweeted a link to the image on Twitter. The image itself is no longer accessible through Twitter - Johnson got a screenshot of it.


I thought it would be interesting to see who the other people mentioned are.

@SeanSean252's bio reads: "Time to put boot on back of the lefty socialists! No meeting in the middle! We are right and they're wrong period!" He's currently bashing Senator John McCain for asking for an investigation into Russian interference in the election. He quotes Infowars, yet decries the New York Times as a source of fake news. He also quoted someone who said, "The constant hatred against whites is truly astounding. When will you admit racism exists on both sides?"

The Wayne Dupree Show is Black and a member of the "National Diversity Coalition For Trump."

Rockprincess818 thinks that Trump shouldn't have to divest himself of his businesses at all. She also just retweeted this message from someone with the handle MelissaJaneSays:


@MelissaJaneSays is an outright antisemite who has tweeted many messages like this:


Cherie Jacobus, on the other hand, appears to be a sane human being. This is her bio: "GOP consultant, TV pundit, wrote for The Hill, The Guardian. Ran campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill, RNC, adjunct professor GWU Grad School of Political Mgmt." Her recent tweets are all about the Russian attempt to interfere in the US election. This is a recent tweet from her:

So three of the four people mentioned in Trump's tweet are supporters of his, while another appears to be a journalist/adjunct professor who is bitterly critical of Trump. Two of Trump's three supporters are clearly racist and antisemitic. Trump's tweet is from November 11, 2015 - long before Steve Bannon joined his campaign. 

Remember this when people try to claim that Trump isn't connected to antisemites and racists.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tom Rochon, president of Ithaca College, signed presidents' letter to Trump

President Rochon of Ithaca College signs letter to Trump urging him to speak out against harassment and hate

This is the text of the letter:

Letter From Presidents to President-Elect Trump

Dear President-elect Trump,

As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.

In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.

One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.

-------------------

I'm glad that Rochon has signed this statement.

Nonetheless, this letter does not name who is really threatened by Trump's administration - Muslims, people of color, LGBT people, students who have been allowed to stay in the United States under the DACA program, Jews, people with disabilities. The targets of these acts of "harassment, hate" and "violence" are not identified, even though these attacks are aimed at member of specific groups.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Do not say that you did not know: Antisemitic hate crimes and political antisemitism

Just in the last few days.....

A few days before the election, Racist, anti-Semitic and pro-Donald Trump graffiti was found on Mount Tom, in Massachusetts: "Trump 2016," "Gas the Jews," "Fuck the Jews," and "Kill all niggers," plus two swastikas.



At Oberlin College, the home of a Jewish professor was vandalized and an antisemitic note was left on his porch.
OBERLIN, OH (WOIO) - (November 18) 
Oberlin College says that there was an anti-Semitic hate crime against one of their professors and his family Wednesday night. 
Police said that Benjamin Kuperman, an associate professor and chair of the computer science department, called around 3:40 a.m. when he heard a noise outside his home. He told officers that he found the sea shells on his porch were smashed and a note had been left behind a mezuzah he had hung up on his door frame.

The note was a ripped piece of paper that appeared to have letters glued on reading "GAS JEWS DIE."
And on Saturday, at an "alt-right" meeting in Washington, DC, hosted by the National Policy Institute, of which he is the head, Richard Spencer spoke in explicitly Nazi and antisemitic terms:
But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.” 
As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back....
At the conference on Saturday, Mr. Spencer, who said he had coined the term, defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea....
Mr. Spencer’s after-dinner speech began with a polemic against the “mainstream media,” before he briefly paused. “Perhaps we should refer to them in the original German?” he said. 
The audience immediately screamed back, “Lugenpresse,” reviving a Nazi-era word that means “lying press.” 
Mr. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of Mr. Trump throughout the campaign in order to protect Jewish interests. He mused about the political commentators who gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning. 
One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, referring to a Jewish fable about the golem, a clay giant that a rabbi brings to life to protect the Jews.
Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film. But Mr. Spencer then mentioned, with a smile, Theodor Herzl, the Zionist leader who advocated a Jewish homeland in Israel, quoting his famous pronouncement, “If we will it, it is no dream.” 
The United States today, Mr. Spencer said, had been turned into “a sick, corrupted society.” But it was not supposed to be that way.
“America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Mr. Spencer thundered. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.” 
But the white race, he added, is “a race that travels forever on an upward path.” 
“To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror,” he said.
In July of this year, Steven Bannon, who has now been appointed the chief strategist by Donald Trump, said,"'We're the platform for the alt-right,' Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July." 
Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon's target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an "eclectic mix of renegades," accusing President Barack Obama of importing "more hating Muslims," and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of "political correctness."
A former Breitbart employee, Ben Shapiro (who is Jewish) described the alt-right as a "movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism." He called Breitbart News "a party organ, a pathetic cog in the Trump-Media Complex and a gathering place for white nationalists."
The reception he and another conservative Jewish Breitbart critic, Bethany Mandel, have experienced in the Bannonosphere is revealing: In May, when Shapiro, who became editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire after leaving Breitbart, tweeted about the birth of his second child, he received a torrent of anti-Semitic tweets. "Into the gas chamber with all 4 of you," one read. Another tweet depicted his family as lampshades. Mandel says she has been harassed on Twitter for months, "called a 'slimy Jewess' and told that I 'deserve the oven.'" 
After Shapiro called out the anti-Semitism, Breitbart News published (under the byline of Pizza Party Ben) a post ridiculing Shapiro for "playing the victim on Twitter and throwing around allegations of anti-Semitism and racism, just like the people he used to mock." 
Back at the RNC, Bannon dismissed Shapiro as a "whiner…I don't think that the alt-right is anti-Semitic at all," he told me. "Are there anti-Semitic people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. But I don't believe that the movement overall is anti-Semitic."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Antisemitic professor Joy Karega has been fired from Oberlin College

Statement from the Oberlin College Board of Trustees:
The Oberlin College Board of Trustees, after extensive consideration and a comprehensive review of recommendations from multiple faculty committees and Oberlin President Marvin Krislov, has voted to dismiss Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Joy D. Karega for failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty.

The dismissal is effective Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

As a Board, we agree with President Krislov and every faculty committee reviewing this matter that the central issues are Dr. Karega's professional integrity and fitness. We affirm Oberlin's historic and ongoing commitment to academic freedom.

During this process, which began with Dr. Karega's posting of anti-Semitic writings on social media, Dr. Karega received numerous procedural protections: she was represented by counsel; she presented witness testimony, documents, and statements to support her position; and she had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses testifying against her.

The faculty review process examined whether Dr. Karega had violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members - namely, adherence to the "Statement of Professional Ethics" of the American Association of University Professors, which requires faculty members to "accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge" and to "practice intellectual honesty." 
Contrary to this obligation, Dr. Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.

For these reasons, the faculty review committees and President Krislov agreed on the seriousness of Dr. Karega's misconduct. Indeed, the majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin's faculty, concluded that Dr. Karega's postings could not be justified as part of her scholarship and had "irreparably impaired (her) ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community."

In the face of Dr. Karega's repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin's academic community. Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Do not say that you did not know: Trump appoints antisemite as his chief strategist in the White House

I just posted this to Facebook:

To my friends and family - our incoming president has just appointed an open antisemite and racist as his close White House advisor. Steve Bannon was the CEO of his campaign and is now going to be his chief strategist and senior counselor. Before he started working for Trump, Bannon was the head of Breitbart News, a right-wing news site (started by the late Andrew Breitbart,who was Jewish). He turned it into a bastion of the "alt-right" - a new name for what used to be called the racist right.

An NBC News article on Trump's appointment of Reince Preibus as Trump's chief of staff says this of Bannon: "That list also reportedly included Steve Bannon, Trump's controversial campaign CEO whose website, Breitbart News, has espoused anti-Semitic and nationalist views."

Below is just one of the anti-semitic articles published by Breitbart - discussed in an article by Yair Rosenberg of Tablet Magazine (who has been exposing the antisemitic alt-right all during the campaign).

If you - a friend or a family member - expect me to calm down and accept that Donald Trump's presidency is "business as usual," you'll be waiting for a long time.

For the first time since the late 1930s, political antisemitism is now a part of the mainstream of American politics, this time fostered by one of the two major parties, the Republicans.

If anyone - especially other Jews - thinks that this is normal, you are sticking your heads into the sand.
Last month, Donald Trump tapped Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, to be his campaign’s new CEO. Today, Breitbart published an anti-Semitic screed against Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. Titled “WaPo’s Anne Applebaum Embarks On Kremlin-Style Disinformation Offensive vs. the Anti-Globalist Right,” the piece is a meandering, conspiratorial critique of Applebaum’s political stances. And as meandering conspiratorial pieces tend to do, it ultimately introduces its target’s Jewishness for no reason at all:
[H]ell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned. Following the fall from grace, Applebaum began utilizing her global media contacts, disbursing heavily curated and obfuscated “facts patterns” meant to construct an anti-democratic global news narrative depicting the new democratically elected Law & Justice government as far right fascists and illiberal anti-democrats.
Essentially, the piece is 1,400-word fever dream about a Jewish agent working for a globalist conspiracy. Rather than offering a serious critique of Applebaum’s views, it offers dark innuendo. And with the explicit invocation of her Jewishness, it abandons the dog whistle for the fog horn. (Unsurprisingly, the piece’s comments section is full of enthusiastic anti-Semites.)
Go to Tablet for the rest of the article.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Political antisemitism in the United States in 2016 - do not say that you did not know - UPDATED

Today, Donald Trump issued his last ad of the campaign, and it explicitly makes use of antisemitic language and associates it with several well-known Jews. This is the analysis of Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
Take a moment to look at this closing ad from Donald Trump.

From a technical and thematic perspective it's a well made ad. It's also packed with anti-Semitic dog whistles, anti-Semitic tropes and anti-Semitic vocabulary. I'm not even sure whether it makes sense to call them dog whistles. The four readily identifiable American bad guys in the ad are Hillary Clinton, George Soros (Jewish financier), Janet Yellen (Jewish Fed Chair) and Lloyd Blankfein (Jewish Goldman Sachs CEO). 
The Trump narration immediately preceding Soros and Yellin proceeds as follows: "The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington [start Soros] and for the global [start Yellen] special interests [stop Yellen]. They partner with these people [start Clinton] who don't have your good in mind." 
For Blankfein: "It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the [start Blankein] pockets of a handful of large corporations [stop Blankfein] and political entities." 
These are standard anti-Semitic themes and storylines, using established anti-Semitic vocabulary lined up with high profile Jews as the only Americans other than Clinton who are apparently relevant to the story. As you can see by my transcription, the Jews come up to punctuate specific key phrases. Soros: "those who control the levers of power in Washington"; Yellen "global special interests"; Blankfein "put money into the pockets of handful of large corporations." 
This is an anti-Semitic ad every bit as much as the infamous Jesse Helms 'white hands' ad or the Willie Horton ad were anti-African-American racist ads. Which is to say, really anti-Semitic. You could even argue that it's more so, given certain linguistic similarities with anti-Semitic propaganda from the 1930s. But it's not a contest. This is an ad intended to appeal to anti-Semites and spread anti-Semitic ideas. That's the only standard that really matters. 
This is intentional and by design. It is no accident. 
Trump has electrified anti-Semites and racist groups across the country. His own campaign has repeatedly found itself speaking to anti-Semites, tweeting their anti-Semitic memes, retweeting anti-Semites. His campaign manager, Steven Bannon, is an anti-Semite. The Breitbart News site he ran and will continue running after the campaign has become increasingly open in the last year with anti-Semitic attacks and politics
Beyond that, this shouldn't surprise us for a broader reason. Authoritarian, xenophobic political movements, which the Trump campaign unquestionably is, are driven by tribalism and 'us vs them' exclusion of outsiders. This may begin with other groups - Mexican immigrants, African-Americans, Muslims. It almost always comes around to Jews. 
It's true there is son-in-law Jared Kushner, a Jew and Ivanka, who converted to Judaism. But this isn't terribly surprising. Kushner appears to be conscienceless. And as I noted here, there is a storied history of anti-Semites being happy to distinguish between good Jews and bad Jews. 
There's been a lot of discussion of anti-Semitism and the Trump campaign but a fierce resistance to coming to grips with the fact that anti-Semitism is a key driving force of the Trump campaign, that the campaign itself is an anti-Semitic one even though the great majority of Trump's supporters are not anti-Semites. When he closes out his campaign with a blatantly anti-Semitic ad, it's time to rethink that resistance.

Update - Josh Marshall has written several good analyses of the antisemitism in the Trump campaign. For links to more articles, see:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/is-trump-an-anti-semite (by Marshall)
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/nationalism-into-the-abyss - this discusses the speech that the advertisement above uses (Marshall)
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-conspiratorial-picture-florida (news article by Matt Shuham) about the speech

Monday, October 31, 2016

Why did Omar Mateen murder 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida?

After Omar Mateen's murderous rampage on June 12, 2016, much of the discussion of Mateen's motives centered on speculation of whether he was a closeted gay man and whether his prime motive was hatred of gay people. Speakers at a vigil I went to in Ithaca in June argued that his murderous homophobia was caused by fundamentalist Christian homophobia, toxic masculinity, misogyny, and the American empire. One speaker even felt the need to mention Palestine as a target of the evil American empire. (How this had anything to do with Mateen's rampage was unclear to me, but the audience clapped nonetheless). None of the speakers asked whether his allegiance to ISIS might have been a reason for his rampage. In fact, ISIS wasn't even mentioned.

Evidence that came soon afterwards called into question this construction of events. On June 20, 2016, the FBI released the transcript of the first conversation that Mateen had with the 911 operator. At first, they redacted the murderer's mentions of ISIS, but after an uproar, they produced the complete transcript. Twice, he pledges his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State. This is the transcript, from the Wall Street Journal:
2:35 a.m.: Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse. The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
Omar Mateen (OM)
OD:     Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM:     In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
OD:     What?
OM:     Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD:     What’s your name?
OM:     My name is I pledge of allegiance to to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
OD:     OK, What’s your name?
OM:     I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
OD:     Alright, where are you at?
OM:     In Orlando.
OD:     Where in Orlando?
[End of call.]
Today, the police released the audio of the conversations between Mateen and the 911 operator (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/911-recordings-gunman-orlando-nightclub-siege.html). The Times reported:
Before he was killed by the police, Mr. Mateen declared his allegiance to the Islamic State and complained about American airstrikes in the Middle East. “What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there?” Mr. Mateen, 29, asked the negotiator in their first conversation. “You get what I’m saying?”
In an earlier article, he New York Times said:
The F.B.I.’s account of the emergency calls included no mention by Mr. Mateen of any hatred of gays or a desire to attack a gay nightclub in particular; the bureau has been investigating the attack as a possible anti-gay hate crime, but the material released on Monday offers nothing to back up that theory.
If the police and FBI investigations found no evidence that suggested that Mateen was a closeted gay man, or even that anti-gay animus motivated his choice of target, it seems to me that our narrative about his murders needs to change. He did not murder forty-nine people in Orlando because he hated gay people, or because of fundamentalist Christianity or the American army empire. He killed them because of his allegiance to the murderous Islamic State, which has also horribly murdered thousands of innocent people in Iraq and Syria.