Friday, March 24, 2017

BDS co-founder: Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti next step in ‘war against BDS movement’

from mondoweiss

(Image: Carlos Latuff)

Palestinian society has condemned Israel’s arrest and interrogation of Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the next step in Israel’s fight against the BDS movement as a whole.

Israel arrested Barghouti on Sunday, raided his family home in Acre, Israel, held him for 16 hours and released him — however the BDS co-founder has been subjected to daily interrogations with Israeli authorities since then, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Israeli tax authorities are accusing Barghouti of tax evasion on the sum of $700,000 in alleged hidden income from National Computing Resources, a business he heads in Ramallah, which sells ATM machines and other equipment in the occupied West Bank, as well as income from his book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights and money he received as speaking fees for speeches.

The BNC on Wednesday released a statement challenging the charges.

“Omar Barghouti, has for years been subjected to intense threats, intimidation and repression by various arms of the far-right Israeli government, particularly after it considered the movement a ‘strategic threat’ to its entire system of injustice against Palestinians,” the movement said in a statement.

In March 2016, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Dery threatened to revoke Barghouti residency in Israel. Barghouti, born in Qatar, gained permanent residency through marriage to his wife, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

“I received information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner,” Israeli Daily Haaretz quoted Dery as saying.

“He was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world,” said Dery.

During the same conference, Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, meaning to tarnish one’s reputation and character among civil society.

The Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information, Gilad Erdan, also described BDS activists and leaders as threats and called for them to “pay the price” for their work, which he clarified did not mean “physical harm.”

A month later, Amnesty International released a statement, calling on Israel to “cease intimidation of human rights defenders and protect them from attacks.”

“Amnesty International is concerned for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti and other [BDS] activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers,” the report read.

“Barghouti is a founding member and a prominent spokesperson of the BDS movement. He campaigns to hold Israel accountable for human rights and other international law violations and advocates for the use of non-violent means in doing so. He was personally attacked in comments and statements by conference participants including ministers, including by describing him as a threat who should be stopped,” the report continued.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Knesset passed a controversial law barring BDS activists from entering the country. The law banned people who call for BDS against Israel, as well as its settlements.

A fellow co-founder of the Palestinian BDS movement, Adnan Ramadan, told Mondoweiss that Barghouti’s arrest and interrogation was just another step in Israel’s strategy against the BDS movement.

“All of this tax evasion business is just an excuse to pressure the BDS movement as a whole, Ramadan said. “In general, it’s part of their war against the campaign, but it won’t work. They can arrest whoever they want, they can do more than that, but that won’t prevent people from continuing to use BDS as a tool in the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”

“This kind of targeting won’t work simply because the BDS campaign isn’t one person or two people or ten people, it’s an organized movement of hundreds of thousands of people, if not more than that, who feel strongly about their fight against the occupation and feel strongly about their motivations in resistance,” Adnan continued.

Adnan stressed that this move against Barghouti is not the first time Israel has targeted particular BDS activists for their work.

“They have been arresting people since the beginning, and it’s all to pressure the people, but the people won’t be silent,” he said. “Palestinians have been resisting for more than 60 years, Israel can kill people, they can assassinate and detain leaders, but it won’t and can’t stop the struggle. All they are doing is holding the body of someone inside a wall, but they can’t hold ideas, or souls of people who believe in the importance of their role of humanity against occupation and injustice.”

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About Sheren Khalel
Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.
Other posts by Sheren Khalel.
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rachel Maddow Just Kicked The Gaslighting Campaign Against Berners Into Fifth Gear

Caitlin Johnstone
23 Mar 2017 16,002 views

#Politics #RachelMaddow #BernieSanders #BernieOrBust #Berniecrats #Gaslighting

I’m noticing a pattern here. It goes like this: First, some pro-establishment corporate media outlet publishes an unsubstantiated claim featuring a headline that is designed to make that unsubstantiated claim sound factual. The claim gets some traction but isn’t picked up by other mainstream outlets that want to preserve their appearance of journalistic integrity. Second, Rachel Maddow picks up the fact-free story, reports it as fact, and then proceeds to jack those unfounded claims as far out into the stratosphere as she can throw them, far beyond the original baseless claims' wildest ambitions. Third, once Maddow has reported the false claim as fact, it is absorbed as doctrine by the rest of the mainstream media, who now feel comfortable reporting on the claim as though it is something factual and not a complete fabrication, and before long you’ve got Democratic leaders regurgitating the establishment lies on national television.

We saw this pattern reemerge recently with Maddow putting a massive spin on an unsubstantiated Buzzfeed article featuring the completely groundless claim that WikiLeaks selectively curated its DNC leaks in a way to make the DNC look bad, and now we’ve got people like former DNC head Donna Brazile going around repeating the claim as though it has some basis in reality. We saw it again when Maddow spun the hell out of an already heavily-spun article by the CIA-funded Washington Post claiming the Trump camp “gutted” the GOP’s position on protecting Ukraine from Russia, when in reality the change made to the Republican platform regarding Ukraine was actually more aggressive in its language than its predecessor and expanded possible actions to be taken against Russia beyond merely arming the Ukrainian military. It was a complete fabrication by WaPo and Maddow, but Congressman Adam Schiff even repeated the claim as though it was factual in his statement at Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing. Schiff also made use of Christopher Steele’s embarrassingly error-riddled and uncorroborated Pissgate dossier in his statement, which Maddow has been telling her viewers provides evidence that Trump was blackmailed into pushing for the entirely fictional gutting of the GOP’s anti-Russia platform.

And now she appears to be ramping things up again, this time using a porous Huffington Post story built on nothing but anecdotal evidence which I won’t spend any time on because it’s already been thoroughly debunked here by progressive powerhouse Michael Sainato. According to Maddow’s delusional tirade, online communities for Bernie Sanders supporters were inundated with anti-Hillary fake news articles from places like Macedonia and Albania, which she says “turned social media into brainless anti-Clinton mush during the campaign.” Maddow argues that this "information warfare" from Russia deliberately hurt public opinion of Hillary Clinton, the implication being, of course, that it couldn't possibly have been because Clinton was a corrupt warmongering ghoul queen with no redeeming characteristics.

Employing her trademarked Gish Gallop fallacious argument tactic, Maddow then snowed her viewers with another completely separate report about the Russian government using bots (which she horrifyingly labeled “international warfare against our country") to circulate articles from Infowars, Breitbart, RT and Sputnik, without ever explaining how that in any way relates to the troll-circulated Macedonian clickbait referenced in the other article. Maddow uses this tactic constantly, by the way, overwhelming her viewers with rapid-fire arguments that are weak in themselves, but strung together with an authoritative tone and generous lashings of her famous Resting Smug Face to confuse the viewer into thinking they just listened to a persuasive case. That’s why you encounter so many people online who are extremely confident about the evidence for Russiagate, for example, but when questioned, they even seem to surprise themselves with their inability to articulate a solid line of thought to clearly back up that initial surge of confidence with facts.

Since Maddow’s spin on the HuffPo article is premised entirely on anecdotal evidence, I can counter with anecdotal evidence of my own. I was deeply involved in the Bernie groups on Facebook, and while I remember there being an abundance of clickbait articles, the majority of them were not fake news stories about Hillary Clinton. I remember seeing the clickbait pieces on Clinton having a body double after she collapsed at the 9/11 memorial, but I also remember seeing tons of clickbait with headlines promising readers that there was a way Bernie Sanders could still become president long after that door had closed, only to bombard them with ads for dick pills and toe fungus cures once they clicked. Most of the Macedonian clickbait that was designed to target Bernie Sanders supporters was, believe it or not, about Bernie Sanders. There were some about Trump and some about Clinton, but the Bernie ones enjoyed the widest circulation.

Gaslighting is a textbook tactic utilized by abusers all over the world in which the victim is convinced over time that they are unable to trust their own interpretation of reality due to some mental deficiency. If an abuser can convince his wife that she is misremembering and misinterpreting events, for example, he can get away with doing anything he wants to her and she’ll wind up not only staying, but apologizing for things she doesn’t remember ever doing. This is what is happening when Sanders supporters, after being used like toilet paper by the political establishment throughout the entire presidential election cycle, are told by a multimillionaire establishment pundit that the disdain they feel for the candidate who was illicitly forced upon them is just something fake that they were deceived into feeling.

How great will it be for the Democratic establishment if they can pull this one off, though? If they can convince rank-and-file Democrats that they didn’t just run an unbelievably incompetent campaign using a historically despised candidate they illicitly installed as their nominee, but rather acted perfectly only to be thwarted by the hypnotic allure of Russian propaganda? How much of a boon would it be to the Democratic party if they can convince their disenfranchised progressive base that their experience of being lied to, cheated, exploited and used by the party and its loyalists really was just the “brainless anti-Clinton mush” that Rachel Maddow says it was? They’d never have to change. Never have to risk losing any of their cozy power positions to progressive newcomers or displeasing their corporatist donors with a shift to the left on economic justice. Everything could go right back to how it was before that annoying Sanders character came along and rocked the boat.

What’s infuriating is that we know from the emails that Hillary Clinton had virtually every mainstream media outlet at her beck and call. Podesta and his team were so confident of their maestro-like orchestration of the media they would casually note that they would “tell the press” to do their bidding. It was nothing for them to call in this journalist, give them an angle on a story and have them write it up, and then the journalist would check back with them before even giving it to their editor. Hillary Clinton’s team played the media like a cathedral organ, hitting whatever note they liked, whenever it suited them. They treated the media like it was Hillary’s own public relations team. That’s not a Maddow fact; that’s a real fact, documented in the emails.

For Maddow to turn that around and now say that all of that power was nothing in the face of some Macedonian clickbait belting around the internet clogging up people’s screens with pop-ups, well… that’s a stretch even Jake the Dog would shy from.

Sanders appealed because he spoke from his gut like a real human about real things that real people wanted. Hillary’s undoing was her sheer lack of policy, personality, integrity and humanity. Every tweet sounded like it was created by a team of thirty-something bespectacled and bearded hipsters, because it was. Every speech sounded empty of meaning and devoid of policy, because it was. Every appearance felt contrived, every spontaneous photo opportunity looked staged, every question asked from every audience member looked as phony as a Dance Moms’ group hug, because it was. And it all culminated in that ghastly Hunger Games-esque convention where half the audience of delegates were drowned out by white noise machines and hidden by large security guys holding Hillary signs while those on stage pulled every tragedy-vulture trick in the book to wring Munchausen levels of emotion out of every labored civil rights sequence.

And none of that had anything to do with Macedonian clickbait. We hated Hillary because she fucking sucked.

Opinion: A Light Unto The Nations How right-wingers in West wish they could shut their states to citizens of Muslim countries and suspect anyone who has an Arabic last name – like Israel is doing.

from Haaretz

Gideon Levy Mar 23, 2017 1:16 AM

In Israel, a dead Arab evokes just one big yawn

Israel has resumed its biblical role as a light unto the nations in recent years. To increasingly larger groups in the West it is a source of inspiration and a subject of imitation. Israel is the model, the forerunner, the pillar of fire, the lighthouse. It is also the defensive shield. When the world charges to the right, Israel once again shines brightly, like in those beautiful days of pony tails, the kibbutz and the Six-Day War.
When the world wages war on the Muslims, it remembers that Israel was there first, the vanguard of the sons of light in their war on the sons of darkness. When they talk about the ways to fight them, Israel is the most tried and tested training field. When they talk about the influence of Donald Trump’s election on the Israeli right, we should also pay attention to the opposite, much more significant influence – how Israel has become the legitimacy source for the American radical right.
Dutch far-right Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders came to Israel 40 times. He also lived here for two years. What exactly did he see in it? A source of inspiration for his racial doctrine and a shelter to launder his views. “Nowhere in the world do I feel that feeling of friendship like in Ben-Gurion Airport,” he once said. What more can we ask? Just like its predecessor, South Africa, which the West saw as its front outpost against the savages and the Communists, Israel is now seen as the West’s front outpost in its war on the Islamic darkness.

“Thanks to parents in Israel, who send their children to the army and don’t sleep at night, the parents in Europe and the United States can sleep peacefully,” said Wilders, the Israel enthusiast.
Indeed, Israel started all this. It was the first to identify the Arab menace and wage war on it. It brought back colonialism. The right will not forget that. It built the separation fences and walls, realizing the global right’s dreams. If only they could surround Europe with a wall like in the West Bank, if only they could build a fence on the Mexico border, like the one on the Egyptian border. Israel has proved it’s possible. It has proved that a country can be both a democracy and apartheid – something the global right is dreaming of.
Israel has proved that it’s OK to flout international law and exist without the High Court of Justice and human rights groups. Trump would swell with pleasure. Wilders’ eyes would glitter to see the routine executions of girls with scissors and boys throwing stones in the West Bank. They can only envy their friends from Israel.

They can only envy the Israelis, who are not ashamed to hold millions of Arabs as subjects without rights for 50 years and still be part of the enlightened world; to legitimize every abomination under cover of “the war on terror.” How the rightists in the West wish they could close their countries to all the asylum-seekers and not recognize anyone as a refugee, as Israel does. How they would love to thumb their noses at international conventions and international institutions’ resolutions – it’s so 2017. How they wish they could shut their states to citizens of Muslim countries and suspect anyone who has an Arabic last name – like Israel is doing; to hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners, most of them political prisoners, some of them without trial.
From Marine Le Pen to the far-right “Sweden Democrats,” they would all want to implement that in their countries.
Israel was the one that started all this, and now the West is imitating it – they’re already banning computers on flights from Muslim states and you can feel the Israeli inspiration in the air. Not only drip irrigation has Israel contributed to the world, but profiling, too. Not only cherry tomatoes, but detention without trial.
It has shown the world how to incite against minorities – and the Wilders were impressed and amazed. It is showing how to fight critics, human rights NGOs, the media and the courts – a model Le Pen would gladly adopt. It is demonstrating theocracy in the West – and the evangelists in America are full of admiration.
Please show a hand of applause the old-new chosen people; please welcome Israel.

read more:

How Zapatistas Will Help Trump Victims with 'Fuck You' Coffee

from Truthdig
Published 18 March 2017

“Always remember that we must resist, we must rebel, we must fight and we must organize."
Mexico’s Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN, announced Saturday that it will begin selling organic coffee from Chiapas in order to help migrants persecuted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Zapatistas Demand 'Grassroots Resistance' Against Trump's Walls

Working alongside allied international distributors, the EZLN will use coffee sale funds to provide financial assistance to U.S. deportees in Mexico. They will also use funds to support pro-immigrant resistance groups around the world protesting anti-immigrant governments.

The project is part of the group’s “Global Campaign Against the Walls of Capital,” which calls for worldwide immigrant solidarity against detentions and deportations.

“It's 100 percent Zapatista coffee, cultivated in Zapatista lands by Zapatista hands,” EZLN insurgent subcommanders Moises and Galeano wrote in a statement.

“We hope that with this support they will be able to initiate work of support for all persecutions and discriminations of the world.”

The EZLN insurgent subcommanders signed their statement with the words “fuck Trump.”

Since Trump’s election, the radical Mexican group has worked with its international support group, the Sixth Commission, to “support the resistance and rebellion of those who are persecuted.” This includes calling for boycotts of pro-Trump commercial and media organizations while providing free legal assistance to those in need.

The Zapatistas Are Building The World We Ask For

The EZLN has also announced plans to present an Indigenous female candidate in Mexico’s 2018 election. Their proposed candidate, who has yet to be named, is described as someone who will “call for Trump’s wall to be torn down.”

Despite the EZLN’s participation in fundraising and electoral politics, the group continues to advocate for mass civil resistance as its primary form of struggle.

“Always remember that we must resist, we must rebel, we must fight and we must organize,” Moises and Galeano also wrote in the statement.

“We must fight for those people who today are persecuted simply for having a certain skin color, culture, belief, origin, history and life.”

The EZLN, inspired by Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, became active in 1994 after Mexico joined the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then, the group has declared war against the Mexican government and its allied multinational corporations.


This article originally claimed the Zapatistas were founded in 1994. The group were actually founded in the early 1980s, but became public much later, on Jan. 1, 1994, when NAFTA officially came into force.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry, RIP a greater man than any president I can think of

The Splitting Up of the Democratic Party: Why It's Probably Coming Sooner Than You Think

OpEdNews 3/15/2017 at 15:27:41

By Ted Rall

Before the election, some pundits were predicting that a Trump defeat would cause the Republican Party to split into at least two discrete new parties -- one representing the old GOP's business establishment, the other for the populist firebrands of the Tea Party. As the fight over gutting Obamacare reveals, those factions are in an uncomfortable marriage. But a full-fledged rupture doesn't appear imminent.

A bigger story, one the corporate political writers aren't focused on, is on the left. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Democratic Party split in two.

In my imagined scenario, the liberal Democratic base currently represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren file for divorce from the party's center-right corporatist leadership caste. What next? Led by Sanders/Warren or not (probably not), prepare to see a major new "third" party close to or equal in size to a rump Democratic one.

I even have a name for this new 99%er-focused entity: the New Progressive Party, or simply the Progressive Party. Since this is ahistorical America, no one remembers the Bull Moosers.

Today's Democratic Party is evenly divided between the Bernie Sanders progressives who focus on class issues and the Hillary Clinton urban liberals who care more about identity politics (gender, race, sexual orientation and so on).

In the short run, a Democratic-Progressive schism would benefit the GOP. In a three-way national contest I guesstimate that Republicans could count on the roughly 45% of the electorate who still approve of Trump after two months of hard-right rule. That leaves the new Progressives and the old Democrats with roughly 27.5% each -- hardly a positive outlook for the left in the first few post-schism elections.

But as the cereal box warning goes, some settling may -- in this case will -- occur...and sooner than you'd think.

First, some "Republicans" in the Trump coalition -- those Obama and Sanders voters who switched to Trump -- will migrate left, attracted to a Progressive left-nationalist economic message that puts working-class Americans first minus the racism and nativism of the anti-NAFTA Trump right. Doesn't feel like it this second, but bigotry is finding fewer adherents.

Second, demographic trends favor any left-of-the-Democrats party. Slightly more than half of Americans age 18 to 29 oppose capitalism in its current form. Some Millennials will move right over time, John Adams style -- but most will not, mainly because the capitalist economy isn't likely to reward them with better-paying jobs as they age. A strong Progressive Party -- and 27.5% of the vote is strong, guaranteeing access all the way down the ballot to minor races and a spot on the national presidential debate stage -- would be the natural home for America's long-disenfranchised political left.

Third, the Progressives would attract sustained media attention. Excitement generates enthusiasm.

Finally, it isn't a stretch to imagine that some mainstream Republicans disgusted by a Trump/Tea Party-dominated Republican Party might scoot over to the old Democrats -- whose current politics are Republican Party circa 1980, so it's not like it would be an uncomfortable fit -- adding to their numbers.

Granted, this is all very back of the envelope. But my instincts tell me we'll probably wind up with three surprisingly evenly matched parties before too long.

To be clear, a Democratic split isn't inevitable. It may not even be more likely than not, not in the next few years anyway. But 10 or 20 years out? The further you extend the timeline, I'd bet a tidy sum that the left will finally hear what the Democratic Party leadership has been telling them for half a century -- we don't need you, we don't owe you, we won't do anything for you -- and walk.

Why am I so convinced that today's Dems will go the way of the Whigs?

Still controlled by center-right Clintonistas, the Democratic National Committee continues to snub progressives and leftists despite the fact that Bernie could have beaten Trump.

Throughout the campaign, polls showed Bernie would outperform Hillary in the fall. Still, the DNC cheated on her behalf. And they sleazily lined up the superdelegates for her.

She never considered him for veep. She didn't even promise to appoint him to the cabinet. Big mistake.

She didn't adopt any of his signature platform planks.

After the debacle Democratic leaders blamed everyone but themselves: WikiLeaks, Russia, the FBI, the media, even Bernie voters. They didn't think they did anything wrong.

In the race for DNC chair and thus for the soul of the party, they picked the establishment choice over the progressive.

If you're a Bernie Sanders Democrat, you have to be a complete idiot to believe that the Democratic Party has learned the lesson of 2016: lean left or go home. Even after it became clear that Trump was putting together the most right-wing administration in American history, Democrats were still voting in favor of Republican appointees.

I can't predict how the great split-up of the former Democratic Party will play out. But given the escalating rage of the party's progressive base in the Age of Trump and the absolute refusal of the DNC leadership to grant them concessions, it's hard to imagine this restive crowd staying calm and keeping Democratic.

The tsunami is coming. Lefties have a choice: get washed away, or grab a surfboard.