Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jan. 29 NYC Rally at the UN in support of the Egyptian people in the streets, more to come

Photos of the Jan. 29 rally below the text

A large, spirited rally was held today at the UN plaza in support of the people of Egypt who are in the streets fighting the Mubarak dictatorship. Hundreds of Arabs and Arab-Americans, Egyptians, Palestinians and other supporters participated in the 3 hour long event. I was jammed into the middle and couldn't get a vantage point, but others present agreed that it was many hundreds, perhaps a thousand and a good showing for a last minute event organized to a large degree on Facebook.

There will be another action on Monday Jan. 31 at 44th St. and 1st Avenue at the Egyptian Mission to the UN from 4-6 pm.

There was a good turnout of students including Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine activists. Many people came from Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Long Island.

Everyone should watch the live feed from Cairo on the Al Jazeera English web site. Surprisingly, the coverage on CNN International hasn't been too bad.
The rest of the media, especially the Israeli-saturated New York Times, has been clueless in trying to grasp what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. It gives the lie to the official line of the 30 year "president" Mubarak of Egypt (and the exiled former "president"--for 23 years! of Tunisia) being the good guys who are moderate and align with the U.S. and Israel against the rest of the hostile backward Arab countries.

The repressive police states of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan--all iron fisted regimes that serve US imperialism and the domestic rich against their impoverished populations, have been dubbed part of America's alliance for democracy, a bulwark against Islamism and not hostile to Israel. Indeed, the motor-mouthed, bungling idiot Joe Biden spilled the beans when he tried to say the Mubarek tyranny was democratic because it was friends with Israel. Even the on air interviewers knew he wasn't making sense.

This is the problem for Obama: he, the Bushes and Clinton all have given their all to prop up the hated, bloody dictatorships of Egypt, Tunisia, et al because they were politically and militarily subservient to the US and helped the Israeli apartheid state as it carried out its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and its attacks and bullying of neighboring countries.

The genie is out of the lamp (or how about the the lid is off of Pandora's box?...well, you the the idea)...It's plain to see that America's and Israel's allies in the region are dictatorships hated by their people.

It's an exciting thing to see truly revolutionary events take you by surprise and open up new possibilities. These rebellions have their unique characteristics: "can't take it anymore" rebellions that unleashed feelings that have been simmering beneath the calm surface for decades. There's no underground organization of professional revolutionaries who call out the people...they call themselves out.

There's a fresh, liberating feeling to see the people take their own destiny in their hands. In spite of the obstacles of the US, Israel, the remaining repressive apparatus of the old regimes, we all hope the people will win. It's enough to challenge my natural cynicism.

I'm reminded of how great it felt to see the 1968 Tet offensive of the National Liberation Front in Vietman, that proved that the US could not win there, or TV images from Nicaragua in 1979 of teenage Sandinista fighters storming the barricades and defeating the 45 year-old Somoza family dictatorship that had been installed by the US Marines.

Revolution is in the air, let's hope it's catching and be victorious.

IN The Streets of Egypt, cheer for a real people's revolution

Monday, January 24, 2011

Israeli investigation finds that the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla was perfectly legal

Yesterday the Israeli government-appointed panel charged to investigate the Israeli army's attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla last May announced its findings. The whole thing was legal and proper.

Nine members of the flotilla on board the ship Mavi Marmara were killed when Israeli commandos descended from military helicopters hovering above. The raid took place in international waters where Israel has no jurisdiction. Israel says it was defending its blockade of Gaza, which is illegal by international law.

The soldiers came down firing live ammunition and stun grenades. Autopsies later showed that many were shot from above by Israeli soldiers on the helicopter and a Turkish-American Furkan Dogan was shot in the head point blank and then finished off while laying on the deck.This behavior by the Israel army met the highest standard of conduct set by the Israeli army and government.

In a related story, an investigation panel appointed by Nazi skinheads to look into the beating of Pakistanis by fellow skinheads found that the beating was correct and lawful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Does Macy Gray have any self-respect?

Israelis target Macy Gray with racist diatribes after she agrees to play Tel Aviv (and who are the “assholes?”)
Jan 22, 2011 06:24 pm | Max Blumenthal

The Israeli media is filled with reports about Macy Gray confirming her plans to perform in Tel Aviv in March. This should have been an occasion for Israelis to celebrate their continuing ability to behave as a normal society despite occupying millions of people, holding Gaza under siege, maintaining an apparatus of racism against its non-Jewish citizens. But in a poorly calculated stunt designed to wash her hands of human rights concerns, Gray had first asked her “fans” if she should perform despite what she called Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of the Palestinians. Within hours, thousands of people who had no prior interest in Gray or her music flocked to her Facebook page (they only had to “like” her page in order to post) to register their opinions. Gray, who appeared to have every intention of performing anyway, remarked after announcing her plan to go to Tel Aviv, that some of those urging her to boycott were “assholes.”
www eurweb
It wasn't enough for Macy Gray to agree to perform in Israel. She has to take a virtual loyalty oath, too.

Under normal circumstances, Gray’s roundhouse attack on some supporters of BDS and her subsequent pledge to perform in Tel Aviv should have pleased nationalistic Israelis. However, her initial criticism of Israel’s occupation has invited a firestorm of racist, sexist and generally hateful diatribes from Israelis. Indeed, many Israelis are more furious with Gray for performing inside their country than for refusing to come. Several internet forums, including one called “Don’t Betray,” have sprouted up to incite public anger at artists such as Gray who have criticized Israel — even if they agree to perform in the country. Meanwhile, the talkback sections of articles in the Hebrew media about Gray’s Tel Aviv shows have provided a forum for the most extreme screeds about the singer.

I have collected and translated a sampling of talkbacks from an article in the Hebrew edition of Ynet, the online version of the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonoth, which highlight the attitude of some Israelis towards Gray. The talkbacks are almost entirely negative towards Gray, with many urging her to cancel her show for daring to criticize Israel, while others call her a “nigger” and denigrate black music as “contaminated.” Gray might be vaguely aware of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinians, but is she aware of the racism towards black Africans inside Israel, including Ethiopian Jews? Has she considered how she might be treated if she were living in Israel? And who are the “assholes” anyway?

Some of 500+ comments from the talkback section to the Hebrew Ynet article provocatively entitled “Gray is against Israel but not canceling:”

THe ugly niggers are joining the Darfurians entering here. All of you go away. wedontwantyou

Go find whoever is going to shag you you fucking whore. Every piece of garbage opens their cunt on us. muslimit

David from Safed: She should take all her brothers the Sudanese and Eritreans and fuck off here.

Another “afro american.” Nice name that the niggers made for themselves. Max

Black music is inferior music that fits you. No name [Another commenter calls him a racist.] “No name” replies: What is racist about that? To say “black” is racist?

Who wants you? You look like a monkey. Mikhal

It’s really disgusting that Israel is going to see black!!! music. Disgusting. Contaminates your soul. Ayela

Don’t come we don’t need your ugly fat ass here. Dude

Blacks and Muslims always go together. Brainless fraternity of people. Shai

[Responding to other commenters denying that any occupation exists]: Right, what chutzpah of us to survive in the jungle around us, as if she can’t understand the jungle. M

They [Americans] killed thousands of innocent people in Iraq but they come to complain here. moshe

What Israeli fans does she have here? Leftist garbage maniacs [bastards] need to be killed whoever comes to her show. victor

What Palestinian people? What peaceful people? Maybe terrorism? Maybe right of return on your expense? Bruriera Hess

Don’t give us favors. IF she’s contemplating coming Israel should cancel the show. Dontgiveusfavors

I returned the ticket. And you? Anee

Maybe they will let her perform in Gaza. Raymond

Go to Gaza, perform and fuck for the Hamas. May your name be cursed. pessey

When you’re being spit at at least you have to get a kleenex to clean it up. hamitnaseh

Fuck you who wants you here anyway? Sharon

[Quote by David Ben Gurion]: “It doesn’t matter what the goyim will say it matters what the Jews will do.” LT

Sweetheart, don’t come here. We don’t want you. Who do you think you are talking about us? IsraeliJewishFighter

Those who are “disgusting” towards the Balestinians [mocking the Arabic pronounciation of Palestinian] are the Balestinians themselves. Hineh

Please don’t cancel. What are we going to do without your show? My Asshole

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal's blog.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Zionist free pass for right wing gun nuts

Why are the leaders of the pro-Israel, anti Muslim crowd not taking advantage of the "antisemitism" angle in the outcry over the Tuscon killings?

They certainly don't shy away from branding anyone who criticizes Israel as antisemitic. They always justify Israel as a haven for the Jews, since antisemitism is apparently encoded in the DNA of all the gentiles (must be the GOY gene), and a new holocaust could happen with the snap of a finger...even in the USA. Or maybe it's especially in the USA what with all of the pro-Palestinian activists carrying out boycotts of Israeli products stolen--oops! I mean manufactured in illegal West Bank settlements.

Never shy about about citing human rights groups and activists as promoters of Jew hating, prominent Jewish zionist leaders have taken a pass on exploiting the shooting of a Jewish member of Congress and the killing of her Jewish staff member. Jews being targeted and killed right here in America! What's the problem with using this to strengthen the case for Jewish victimhood and rev up the base?

Why not jump on Sara Palin for using the term "blood libel" to defend herself for the justified criticism of her glorifying violence with her various pictures and videos posing with really big guns telling her supporters to "reload" and target the "enemies of America" in Congress?

Hyper-zionist loud mouth Alan Dershowitz defended Sara Palin's use of the term "blood libel in the quote below:"

The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.

Abe Foxman of the rabidly pro Israel Anti Defamation League also defended Palin and remarked that Rep. Gifford's being Jewish had nothing to do with the shooting rampage of Jared Laughner.

Any complaints about Palin's web page drawing the cross hairs of a gun sight over Gabriele Giffords' congressional district? Nope.

What's up?

The gun-obsessed, racist, Christian fundamentalist far right that has been burning up the air waves with violent rhetoric gets a pass because they are supporters of Israel, even the antisemitic ones are ok--maybe especially the antisemitic ones since they support the zionist premise that Jews are alien elements and don't belong anywhere except Israel.

The gun nuts are tied in with the Tea Party which is tied in with Christian Zionists who are in bed with Israel and its defenders.

Now if only Jared Laughner was a Muslim...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

David Rovics new song for Bradley Manning who is being detained in inhumane conditions by the government

Political balladeer David Rovics sings his new song about Bradley Manning the U.S. soldier who is accused of providing massive amounts of allegedly secret information about US activities around the world to Wikileaks.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Book on the Arab World and the Holocaust

The Holocaust, Palestine and the Arab World: Gilbert Achcar interviewed
Arwa Aburawa, The Electronic Intifada, 10 January 2011

Gilbert Achcar (Arwa Aburawa)
In his latest book The Arabs and the Holocaust, Gilbert Achcar, a professor of Development Studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, explores the Arab world's complex and sometimes contradictory relationship with the Holocaust.

Focusing on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Achcar tackles the Zionist caricature of all Arabs as anti-Semitic Holocaust-deniers complicit in Nazi crimes by meticulously deconstructing the evidence put forward. Achcar also doesn't shy away from condemning the persistence of unacceptable attitudes towards the Holocaust across the region. The Electronic Intifada contributor Arwa Aburawa spoke to Achcar about The Arabs and the Holocaust.

Arwa Aburawa: Your book is a huge undertaking which explores Arab attitudes towards the Holocaust from the rise of Hitler to the present. What motivated you to write the book?

Gilbert Achcar: Well I came across this subject through various conferences and what struck me was the massive distortion that exists in the way Arabs and Palestinians are represented in relation to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and Nazism. Over the last few years, I also noticed that there was an increase in the literature portraying the Arabs or the Muslims as basically Nazi-like people or Nazi-minded or stating that they supported Nazism in history. So, that's why I decided to write this book and although I started with very modest intentions, the more I worked on the topic, the more it became clear that I needed to go for a voluminous book in order to cover all major issues. So what I ended up with is a thorough, critical examination of Zionist and pro-Zionist narratives, which portray the Arabs and the Palestinians through what they claim is the historical record.

By deconstructing Zionist representations of the Arabs and the Palestinians, I also wanted to dispel any Arab self-representation that conforms to the Zionist image or internalizes it in adopting reactionary attitudes of an anti-Semitic character. So this book is a contribution to the defense of the Palestinian and Arab causes against such distortions as well as a contribution to a more accurate representation of Arab attitudes.

AA: The main argument of your book is that Arab attitudes towards the Holocaust and anti-Semitism -- in contrast to widespread clichés about Arabs -- are quite complex, contradictory and have changed over the course of history. What are some of the main political movements and figures which influenced Arab attitudes towards the Holocaust?

GA: The Zionist narrative of the Arab world is based centrally around one figure who is ubiquitous in this whole issue -- the Jerusalem Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who collaborated with the Nazis. But the historical record is actually quite diverse. The initial reaction to Nazism and Hitler in the Arab world and especially from the intellectual elite was very critical towards Nazism, which was perceived as a totalitarian, racist and imperialist phenomenon. It was criticized by the liberals or what I call the liberal Westernizers, i.e. those who were attracted by Western liberalism, as well as by the Marxists and left-wing nationalists who denounced Nazism as another form of imperialism. In fact, only one of the major ideological currents in the Arab world developed a strong affinity with Western anti-Semitism, and that was Islamic fundamentalism -- not all Islam or Islamic movements but those with the most reactionary interpretations of Islam. They reacted to what was happening in Palestine by espousing Western anti-Semitic attitudes.

However, that was only one particular current and when we look at the balance sheet of Arab participation in the Second World War, we see that it was overwhelmingly on the Allied side. Even with the presence of the Mufti in Europe, all his exhortations for Arabs and Palestinians to join the forces of the Nazis and Italian fascists led to very, very little results -- almost negligible. This just shows what little credibility and popularity the Mufti actually commanded in the Arab world. There were incomparably more Arabs who fought with the British and French troops against Germany and Italy than the other way round, so this really refutes the widespread notion that the Arabs supported the Nazis.

AA: Clearly, we can't really talk about Arabs and the Holocaust without mentioning the Mufti. But what was his role in the Holocaust and how complicit was he in the Nazis' war crimes?

GA: The first thing that must be said about Amin al-Husseini is that there is a lot more interest in him in the West and in Zionist literature than there is in the Arab world. It is amazing that in the Arab world, his name has almost disappeared into oblivion and almost no one refers to him, whereas in the West new books on him are coming out all the time. There is an entire industry dealing with the Mufti in the West from Zionist and pro-Zionist sources and the key aim of this industry is the Nazification of the Arabs. They are trying to Nazify the Arabs, if not the Muslims in this age of Islamophobia, through the figure of the Mufti.

Now the fact is that al-Husseini did his best up to 1937 to serve his British masters and prevent the Palestinian national movement from clashing with them. It was only in 1937 that he broke with the British and went into exile. In 1941, he fled to Europe and lived between Rome and Berlin, supported by the two fascist regimes until the end of the war in 1945. He became the key figure in their propaganda towards the Muslim world: he gave a lot of speeches over the radio and wrote lots of statements reproducing the whole range of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. Due to his ideological allegiance to Islamic fundamentalism and its tendency to essentialize the enemy, he held rabidly anti-Jewish views.

The crucial point here is that even after 1943, when he learned about the genocide of the Jews and that millions of them had already been massacred, his contribution to the harsh anti-Semitic discourse broadcast from Germany continued. His knowledge of the genocide did not deter him one bit; rather he increased his anti-Semitic vitriol. He supported a regime which he knew was committing an awful genocide, one of the worst crimes against humanity, and so it makes what he did at the time criminal. He even took it upon himself to write to Axis power governments asking them to not allow Jews to leave to Palestine, adding -- and here to get to the criminal aspect of the letters -- that he suggests they send them to Poland instead where he knew there were concentration camps. So he went far beyond his role as a national leader fighting for the interests of his country into complicity with the Nazis. Clearly, this is something that has to be denounced for what it is.

AA: In your book you state that the impact of Nazism on the Arab world was actually limited. Considering that the Nazis were fighting the Arabs' colonial enemies at the time -- the British and French -- why was this?

GA: Well, there were a lot more people attracted to Nazi ideology in Western countries, including Britain and the United States, than there ever were in the Arab world. In fact there were fewer adherents to Nazi ideology in Arab countries, even in relative figures, than were found in Europe and North America. One of the reasons for this was fascist Italy's persecution of Libyans and the perception that it was a colonial power a lot worse than Britain or France. There was also a perception in the Arab world when the war started that this was a conflict between imperial powers who wanted to divide the world amongst themselves. Most people were observing the war therefore with a more or less neutral attitude and were only hoping that Arab independence might result from the clash of world powers. So even as "the enemy of their enemy," support for the Nazis was by no means automatic.

Of course, my book isn't just about developing an ideological counter-narrative portraying all the Arabs as anti-fascist progressives. That is not the point of my book at all. Anyone reading it will see that I don't try to hide anything on the Arab side and I don't mince my words when it comes to Arab attitudes that I believe must be condemned -- especially that of the Mufti. At the same time, I reject all suggestions that the Mufti was the embodiment of all Arabs or all Palestinians and expressed their collective attitude -- that was not the case and is purely slanderous. I mean, when you read the Zionist propaganda you get the impression that the Mufti al-Husseini was one of the key figures in the Nazi regime, which is of course completely ridiculous. In terms of al-Husseini's overall contribution to the Nazi regime, his input is negligible compared to thousands and thousands of Nazi leaders, bureaucrats and military commanders.

AA: If the Mufti was so unrepresentative of the Arab world, why has he become such a pivotal figure in any discussion of the Arab world and the Holocaust?

GA: The answer to this question is quite simple. The reason for this distortion is that until the Second World War, the Zionist movement didn't have any arguments for its colonization of Palestine other than religious or colonial. The fact that the German Jews were persecuted by the Nazis did change this but even then, the natural reaction from the Arab world was to say"'we condemn and resent the persecution of the Jews, but why should the Arabs and the Palestinians be made to pay for what the Europeans did?" The Zionist movement knew that a decision on Palestine would soon be made by the victors of the war and therefore did their best to depict the Palestinian Arabs as accomplices of the defeated Nazis. So to the Arab saying "why should we pay for what the Europeans did?" the response became, "because you played a part in the genocide." So in this way, 1948 and the Nakba was represented in the Zionist narrative as the last battle of the Second World War against Nazism.

One striking illustration of this argument is in the famous, openly racist interview that [Israeli historian] Benny Morris gave to [the Israeli daily]
Haaretz in 2004 and in which he basically says that in 1948 the choice was between the ethnic cleansing -- he doesn't shy away from using this term -- of the Palestinians by the Jews or the genocide of the Jews by the Palestinians and the Arabs. In order to justify whatever cruelty they do to them, the Zionists and their unconditional supporters paint the Palestinians and the Arabs as Nazis. You can see this same pattern at work up to our time. How was the cruel war against Lebanon in 2006 justified? Well, by portraying Hizballah as Nazis. And how was the criminal slaughter in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 justified? Again, Hamas were portrayed as Nazis.

AA: Although your work is careful to point out the complexity of views with regards to the Holocaust in the Arab world, there is no denying the presence of Holocaust denial. How and why did Holocaust denial emerge in the Arab world?

GA: What needs to be said first of all is that Holocaust denial in the Arab world is not the same as Holocaust denial in Germany, for instance. In Germany, it can only emerge out of deep anti-Semitism as Germans have every means of knowing about the full scale of the genocide. But for people in Palestine, the Holocaust is a historical event which is not directly related to their own history. So when some Palestinians say that the Holocaust has been invented or exaggerated by the Zionists in order to blackmail the West, they are attempting to give an explanation for the way in which Israel uses the Holocaust to legitimize its aggression. It seems to hold also for an explanation of the fact that Western powers, especially the United States, tend to support Israel unconditionally. Of course, this is a stupid and very simplistic argument, which is why I call it "the anti-Semitism of fools."

In most cases, Holocaust denial becomes a very weak and stupid form of protest by people who feel crushed by the military violence and supremacy of the Israeli state. This explains why Holocaust denial attitudes increase every time Israeli violence flares up. Palestinians are facing this harsh reality and the misguided views of some of them on the Holocaust must therefore be judged in their context. We can't put the two on the same level, in the same way that we can't judge the racism of a white anti-Black lynching mob as being equivalent to the anti-White racism that might develop amongst their victims. One could say they are both forms of racism, but there is a crucial difference: the racism of the oppressed is reactive to the one that inspires their oppressors, and this is a distinction that I emphasize.

Last but not least, whatever form of Holocaust denial exists in the Arab world, it is denial of something that Arabs are not actually responsible for. Much more serious is the official denial of the Nakba [the 1948 ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine] by the Israeli state -- this is an instance of state denial of a crime that they perpetrated. Fortunately the Nakba was no genocide and can't be compared to the Holocaust in that respect, but it was nevertheless a crime against humanity and, moreover, the Nakba is not finished -- in the sense that the oppression of the Palestinians by the State of Israel continues to this day. So the denial by the State of Israel of this reality and of its responsibility in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and in their continuing oppression is ultimately much more serious that any expressions of Holocaust denial by Arabs or Palestinians.

AA: The claim that the Holocaust has been exploited by the State of Israel for political gain is a statement which needs to be carefully assessed. Would you agree?

GA: Yes, of course. It is obvious that the Israeli state and Israeli politicians make cynical use of the Holocaust to justify their stances. What is even worse is that the Israeli government perpetrates war crimes and crimes against humanity -- as confirmed by Judge Goldstone who is a Jew and a Zionist himself -- and tries to justify them in the name of the Holocaust. This is a major insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. This said, the Holocaust (and this is still not understood by everybody in the Arab world) is not the property of "the Jews" or the Zionist movement. In fact, the Zionist movement has little legitimacy to speak for the victims of the Holocaust, as the historical record shows that it failed to prioritize the rescue of the Jews during the Holocaust and focused instead on its goal of a Jewish state.

The Holocaust is one of the major tragedies of the twentieth century and it bears universal lessons for us all about the dangers of ethnic discrimination and racism. This is what the Holocaust is about and these lessons teach us that we need to counter the Zionist state and what it is doing to the Palestinians. In fact, as victims of national quasi-racial oppression, the Palestinians are much more entitled than the Zionists to invoke the lessons of the Holocaust.

AA: In your book you assess the impact of 11 September 2001 and the rise of the neoconservative narrative and the impact it has on the clichés about Arabs as Nazi-supporting anti-Semites. In your view, are perceptions of Arab attitudes to Nazism getting better or worse?

GA: They are getting worse. After 11 September and the Islamophobic trend increased sharply, especially in the United States, the Zionists seized the opportunity to intensify their anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian propaganda since most Palestinians are Muslims. There's a widespread discourse about so-called Islamofascism which tries to weave a narrative that starts with the Mufti and ends with Bin Laden, Hamas and Hizballah, with every opponent to Israel in between, be it Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam Hussein or Yasser Arafat. So it is important to challenge these attitudes, just as it is necessary to fight those attitudes in the Arab world and among Palestinians that are facilitating this kind of propaganda.

Most people in the Arab world would agree that the Holocaust was an awful crime perpetrated by the Nazis. The best illustration of this is the fact that Zionism is widely compared to Nazism -- of course, this comparison is over the top but it shows that people see Nazism as an insult. People should also know other stories, like that of the West Bank villagers of Bilin who dressed in striped pajamas similar to those of concentration camp inmates in order to protest against the Israeli army in January 2009, during the onslaught on Gaza. Again, the comparison is certainly over-exaggerated but the demonstrators' intent was clear. This was a way of identifying with the Jewish victims and saying: "We are the Jews of the Middle East who are oppressed by the Israeli state in the same way that European Jews were oppressed by the Nazis."

Arwa Aburawa ( is a freelance journalist based in the UK who writes on the Middle East, the environment and various social issues.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fidel Castro's Thoughts on Israel, the US and Iran

What Would Einstein Say?

Today the leaders of the State of Israel practice genocide and are associating themselves with the most reactionary forces on the planet.

By Fidel Castro

January 08, Escambray" -- In a Reflection published on August 25, 2010 under the title of “The Opinion of an Expert”, I mentioned a really unusual activity of the United States and its allies which, in my opinion, underlines the risk of a nuclear conflict with Iran. I was referring to a long article by the well-known journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, published in the US journal The Atlantic in September of that year, entitled “The Point of No Return”.

Goldberg was not anti-Israeli, quite the opposite; he is an admirer of Israel and holds double citizenship with the US and also did his military service in that country.

At the start of his article he wrote: “It is possible, as well, that “foiling operations” conducted by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through sabotage and, on occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have hindered Iran’s progress in some significant way”

The parentheses in the paragraph are also his.

After mentioning the enigmatic phrase, I carried on with the analysis of that Gordian knot of international politics that could lead to the war which was so feared by Einstein. What would he say if he had learned about the “frustration operations” destined to make the most capable nuclear scientists disappear?

Maybe because it was so absurd and incredible, I didn’t pay too much attention to it, but months later, upon reading the recent accusations by the Iranian government, as well as news and opinions of well-informed people, the memory of that paragraph returned to my mind with a vengeance.

Four weeks before the end of 2010, an AFP agency dispatch informed:

“An Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed.

“Teheran accuses the United States and Israel of being behind a double assassination. “AFP. November 30, 2010

“‘The hand of western governments and the Zionist regime is behind the assassination attempts’. Mahmud Ahmadineyad had no doubts when it came to look for the people guilty of the double attack on the nuclear experts that took place early yesterday in Teheran. Majid Shariari, professor at the Shahid Beheshti University of Teheran and member of the Nuclear Society of Iran lost his life and his wife was injured in an explosion reported a few metres from their home. His colleague Fereydoon Abbasi, a laser physicist at the same university and his wife were also injured after a similar attack. Even though some newspapers announced Abbasi’s death, it was finally the Mehr agency that confirmed that he had managed to save his life. According to the Fars agency, ‘unknown terrorists’ on motorcycles drove closet o the vehicles to plant the lapa bombs.”

“Members of the Ahmadineyad Executive and the Minister of the Interior, Mostafa Mohamad Najjar, directly accused the CIA and Mossad – the intelligence services of the US and Israel, respectively – of being behind these actions that presume a new blow for the country’s nuclear race at the doors of a possible new round of talks with the 5+1 members...”

“With yesterday’s attempt there are now three Iranian scientists who have been killed since 2007. Dr. Masoud Alí Mohamadi lost his life in Teheran last January after the explosion of a bomb as he was leaving his home, a death that has not yet been cleared up by the authorities who also accused the western intelligence agencies of trying to abort what they considered to be a right, the nuclear race for civilian purposes. The first victim in the heart of the scientific community was Ardeshir Hosseinpour, killed under strange circumstances in 2007 at the nuclear centre of Isfahan.”

I don’t remember any other moment in history when the assassination of scientists has been transformed into official policy on the part of a group of powers armed with nuclear weapons. The worst is that, in the case of Iran, it is being applied on an Islamic nation, with which, even if they are able to compete and surpass it in technology, they could never do it in a field where, for cultural and religious questions, it could surpass them many times in the willingness of its citizens to die at any moment if Iran should decide to apply the same absurd and criminal formula on the professionals of their adversaries.

There are other serious events related to the carnage of scientists, organized by Israel, the US, Great Britain and other powers against the Iranian scientists, something about which the mass media does not inform world opinion.
An article by Christian Elia published on the Rebelión website on August 25, 2010, reports that:

An explosion has killed the father of the “drones” (unmanned planes) – of Iran – but he is just the last of the scientists who have lost their lives in the country.
“To find a photo of Reza Baruni on the Internet is a mission impossible. However, in the last few days, his name was at the centre of a mystery that has many international aspects...”

The only thing certain is that Reza Baruni, the Iranian aeronautical engineer, is dead. An air of absolute mystery hangs over everything else. All the industry analysts consider Baruni to be the father of the [...] UAVs (unmanned vehicles) of the Islamic Republic [...]. On August 1st, 2010, his house was blown up.”

“On August 17, 2010, Debka (very close to Israeli intelligence) publishes news of Baruni’s death and reveals its conclusions: the Iranian engineer’s home blew up because of the explosion of three very powerful explosive devices. Baruni was murdered.”

“But the murkiest episode in contrast is the death of Massud Ali-Mohammadi, professor of nuclear physics at Teheran University, murdered on January 11, 2010 in the Iranian capital. Professor Ali-Mohammadi died in the explosion of a motorcycle-bomb detonated from a distance at the time the professor was leaving his home to go to work…”

An article published on the CubaDebate website informs:

“Israel acknowledges that it has murdered an Iranian scientist last week.”

“Mossad, the Israeli secret service, acknowledged that last week it murdered Majid Shahriari and wounded another physicist in Iran, according to Mossad sources, in an operation carried out in Teheran. ‘It is the latest operation by the head of the Mossad’, the people heading Israeli secret services state with satisfaction at a meeting in their Gelilot headquarters to the north of Tel Aviv.”

“Gordon Thomas, a British expert in the Mossad, confirmed in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph that Israel is responsible for this double murder destined to obstruct the Iranian nuclear program.”

“Thomas states that all the Israeli assassination attempts in the last few years against personalities associated with the Iranian nuclear project have been committed by the Kidon (bayonet) unit. According to the Jewish newspaper Yediot Ahronot this unit is made up of 38 agents. Five of them are women. They are all between 20 and 30 years old and they speak several languages – including Persian – and they are able to come and go from Iran with ease. They are based in the Negev Desert.”

In the days of the Diaspora, the left wing in the world united in solidarity with the people of Israel. Persecuted for their race and religion, many of them fought in the ranks of the revolutionary parties. The peoples condemned the concentration camps that the European and world bourgeoisie wanted to ignore.

Today the leaders of the State of Israel practice genocide and are associating themselves with the most reactionary forces on the planet.

The alliance between the leaders of that State and the South Africa of the hateful apartheid regime is still to be cleared up; in complicity with the United States they supplied the technology to develop the nuclear weapons directed towards striking at the Cuban troops which, in 1975, were confronting the invasion of racist South Africa, whose disdain and hatred of the African peoples was no different from the Nazi ideology which murdered millions of Jews, Russians, gypsies and other European nationalities in the concentration camps of Europe.

If it hadn’t been for the Iranian revolution – stripped of weapons it swept over the best-equipped ally of the United States on the flank of the Soviet super-power – today it would be the Shah of Iran, supplied with nuclear weapons, and not Israel, who would be the principal bulwark of the Yankee and NATO empire in that region that is so strategic and immensely rich in oil and gas for the sure supply of the most developed countries on the planet.

It is an almost inexhaustible subject.

Fidel Castro Ruz - January 6, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chile Recognizes Palestinian State, A Seranade

A few days ago Chile joined Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and other countries in putting a thumb in the eye of the USA and Israel by recognizing a Palestinian state. There are 300,000 Palestinians living in Chile. Chile is also being true to its legacy of popular struggle against imperialism.

Here's to you Chile. A song from the great revolutionary Chilean band, Inti-Illimani.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Can it Happen Here? Is Antisemitism on the Rampage in Philosemitic America?

R. Congress

In arguments about Zionism, Israel and Palestine a standard refrain is along the lines of: "Jews have to have Israel as a refuge from antisemitism. It's everywhere, and can erupt into violent attacks against Jews..even a holocaust here in the United States or anywhere. Antisemitism is rampant in the world. Look what happened in Germany and throughout history."

Paranoia and an "us against the world" attitude is an integral part of zionism. I find that even fairly politically astute and realistic people can be swayed by fears of antisemitism in the US.

Is antisemitism a threat in the U.S? Is there an upsurge of Jew hating world wide?

One thing that has to be dismissed right away is the false and outright lying accusation that the growing support for basic human rights for Palestinians is "antisemitic." the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing. More and more people are not buying into the lame excuses used by the media and our government to justify ethnic cleansing and outright murders committed by the Israeli occupation. Groups around the world are sponsoring boats to attempt to sail into port in Gaza to highlight the illegality and immorality of Israel's blockade.

This isn't anti Jewish. It's politics. It's defense of universal human rights. Apologists for Israel can't put together any coherent arguments in the face of undeniable facts, so their only recourse is name calling and intimidation.

Well, its been said: "in times of economic and/or social crisis people look around for a scapegoat. We're having really hard economic times and we've got right wing populism with the Tea Party and such...aren't conditions ripe?"

It's true that there are many demagogues who are railing against scapegoats to blame for our economic and other woes. We got Glen Beck, Fox's O'Reily and Hannity and the ever reliable windbag Rush Limburger among others.

Who are they scapegoating?


The pogrom in this country is being carried out against Muslims and immigrants (mainly Hispanic, do we have any Hispanic Muslim immigrants!? Fuggedaboutit!)

No Jews are in the crosshairs. Jews are among the inciters of anti-Islamic racism. Jews are secure members of the establishment and also beloved of the usually antisemitic crowd of right wing xenophobes, theocratic Christian lunatics and even pro fascist groups!

There was a rally recently in New York to support the right of Muslims to have a Mosque near the World Trade Center at "ground zero." At the counter-demonstration were a group of British nazi skinheads who normally spend their time in the UK "Paki bashing." At the NY rally they were waving the flag of St. George (beloved of UK racists) and the Israeli flag!

Does Michelle Bachman denounce Jews? Rush? The "grass roots" Tea Party (TM) (c) INC, LLC?

Are conditions the same here and now as they were in Europe in the 1920s and 30s when Nazis and Fascists were coming to power in some countries and gaining influence in others?

In Europe from the end of the 19th century up to Hitler's coming to power there were openly antisemitic mass circulation newspapers. There were antisemitic politicians elected to high office. Before there was a nazi party the banner of antisemitism was carried by anti-democratic, aristocratic, clerical and pro-monarchists groups that represented a significant part of society. There were big scandals and controversial accusations that shook the social order. The brutal pogroms in Russia in the 1880s, The Dreyfuss case in France in the 1890s.

Has anything like that been going on in the U.S. for the last 50 years? All the forces that could realistically be part of an anti-democratic fascist-like mass organization love Israel and have warm relations with zionist Jews.

Where is the threat? Are Palestinian students on U.S. campuses allied with diabolical groups like, say, Jewish Voice for Peace, or the Free Gaza Movement a dire existential threat to Jews in America?

Get real!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oops! Obama Lied Again

Published on Thursday, January 6, 2011 by
Obama: No Whistleblowing on My Watch
The US Military Should Be Ashamed of Its Treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning

by Ann Wright

Candidate Obama said "Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal."

As a U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, in referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans, Barack Obama said, "We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk ... Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Candidate Obama was referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans.

President Obama says No whistleblowing on my watch!

Yet, Obama, as he has on so many issues as President, is taking a 180 degree turn from his comments as a candidate, comments on which the American people relied and elected him.

Now, the Obama administration's warning to Bradley Manning and to other whistle blowers is this: blow the whistle on government criminal actions and we will put you in solitary confinement before you are charged, much less go to trial. You will be treated as an "enemy combatant," in America's ongoing wars on about everything, including the truth.

Evidence of Murder of Civilians in Iraq by US military helicopter pilots

Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) intelligence analyst who turned 23 years old in late December, allegedly leaked a video of a US helicopter attack that killed at least eleven Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters reporters, to the website Wikileaks. Two Iraqi children were also severely wounded in the attack.

PFC Manning's alleged actions are just as important as those of the whistleblowers who informed us of the Bush administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans. The video taken from the U.S. military helicopter that fired the killing rounds of ammunition, graphically showed US military pilots firing on and killing innocent civilians in Iraq. In addition to this "Collateral Murder" video, PFC Manning is suspected by the government of leaking the "Afghan War Diaries" - tens of thousands of battlefield reports that explicitly describe civilian deaths and cover-ups, corrupt officials, collusion with warlords, and a failing US/NATO war effort.

Manning had the legal responsibility to disclose evidence, even classified evidence, of criminal actions conducted by government officials

If indeed, Manning did give the video to Wikileaks, his actions show clearly that he reasonably believed that war crimes were being covered up, and that he took action based on that belief. Exposing criminal actions done under the cover of government orders is a responsibility and duty of military personnel as codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as the Geneva conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.

Nuremberg Principle I

Principle I states, "Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment."

Principle II

Principle II states, "The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law."

Principle III

Principle III states, "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."

Principle IV

Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".

This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".

Classifying the evidence of criminal actions does not make the actions untouchable

Reporting criminal actions done by others and providing evidence of those criminal actions, especially when the evidence of criminal actions have been covered up by "classifying" the evidence, is not illegal, but in fact, is a very brave response.

Punishment before the Trial-Solitary Confinement

Manning has now been in prison in solitary confinement for 7 months and still neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government has indicted him for any offense. Manning essentially is being treated by the U.S. government as an American citizen "enemy combatant."

Manning's treatment in detention, pre-trial confinement in prison is cruel and unusual. He is being kept in solitary confinement, alone in a cell for 23 hours a day. He is forbidden to exercise in his cell. He is deprived of sleep. He is not given a pillow or sheets for his steel bed, although recently after publicity about he conditions in the prison, he was given a mattress for the bed. Prison medical personnel now "administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation."

US Soldier Treated as Those Detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo

The U.S. military's treatment of Manning is tragically consistent with its treatment of persons detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. America's military uses harsh conditions and torture, physical or mental, for those who have not been convicted of any crimes used to break the person to provide whatever information the military wants to receive. This type of treatment is inhumane, immoral and wrong for those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo and is wrong for Bradley Manning.

Nothing to be Proud of

Nothing in this to be proud of, President Obama. Nothing in this to be proud of, US Military.

If you, the reader, are offended by this, please -- Raise Hell for Bradley, the undeclared American "enemy combatant."

Contribute to Manning's defense fund at

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book "Dissent: Voices of Conscience." (

Challenging the USA on its enabling of Israeli war crimes

Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock

Monday 03 January 2011

By: Noam Chomsky

While intensively engaged in illegal settlement expansion, the government of Israel is also seeking to deal with two problems: a global campaign of what it perceives as “delegitimation” – that is, objections to its crimes and withdrawal of participation in them – and a parallel campaign of legitimation of Palestine.

The “delegitimation,” which is progressing rapidly, was carried forward in December by a Human Rights Watch call on the U.S. “to suspend financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of Israel’s spending in support of settlements,” and to monitor contributions to Israel from tax-exempt U.S. organizations that violate international law, “including prohibitions against discrimination” – which would cast a wide net. Amnesty International had already called for an arms embargo on Israel. The legitimation process also took a long step forward in December, when Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil recognized the State of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), bringing the number of supporting nations to more than 100.

International lawyer John Whitbeck estimates that 80-90 percent of the world’s population live in states that recognize Palestine, while 10-20 percent live in states that recognize the Republic of Kosovo. The U.S. recognizes Kosovo but not Palestine. Accordingly, as Whitbeck writes in Counterpunch, media “act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration which can never be realized without Israeli-American consent,” reflecting the normal workings of power in the international arena.

Given the scale of Israeli settlement of the West Bank, it has been argued for more a decade that the international consensus on a two-state settlement is dead, or mistaken (though evidently most of the world does not agree). Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.

The argument assumes that Israel would agree to the takeover. It is far more likely that Israel will instead continue the programs leading to annexation of the parts of the West Bank that it is developing, roughly half the area, and take no responsibility for the rest, thus defending itself from the “demographic problem” – too many non-Jews in a Jewish state – and meanwhile severing besieged Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

One analogy between Israel and South Africa merits attention. Once apartheid was implemented, South African nationalists recognized they were becoming international pariahs because of it. In 1958, however, the foreign minister informed the U.S. ambassador that U.N. condemnations and other protests were of little concern as long as South Africa was supported by the global hegemon – the United States. By the 1970s, the U.N. declared an arms embargo, soon followed by boycott campaigns and divestment. South Africa reacted in ways calculated to enrage international opinion. In a gesture of contempt for the U.N. and President Jimmy Carter – who failed to react so as not to disrupt worthless negotiations – South Africa launched a murderous raid on the Cassinga refugee camp in Angola just as the Carter-led “contact group” was to present a settlement for Namibia. The similarity to Israel’s behavior today is striking – for example, the attack on Gaza in January 2009 and on the Gaza freedom flotilla in May 2010.

When President Reagan took office in 1981, he lent full support to South Africa’s domestic crimes and its murderous depredations in neighboring countries. The policies were justified in the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared on coming into office. In 1988, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was designated one of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups” (Mandela himself was only removed from Washington’s “terrorist list” in 2008). South Africa was defiant, and even triumphant, with its internal enemies crushed, and enjoying solid support from the one state that mattered in the global system.

Shortly after, U.S. policy shifted. U.S. and South African business interests very likely realized they would be better off by ending the apartheid burden. And apartheid soon collapsed. South Africa is not the only recent case where ending U.S. support for crimes has led to significant progress. Can such a transformative shift happen in Israel’s case, clearing the way to a diplomatic settlement? Among the barriers firmly in place are the very close military and intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel.

The most outspoken support for Israeli crimes comes from the business world. U.S. high-tech industry is closely integrated with its Israeli counterpart. To cite just one example, the world’s largest chip manufacturer, Intel, is establishing its most advanced production unit in Israel.

A U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that Rafael military industries in Haifa is one of the sites considered vital to U.S. interests due to its production of cluster bombs; Rafael had already moved some operations to the U.S. to gain better access to U.S. aid and markets. There is also a powerful Israel lobby, though of course dwarfed by the business and military lobbies.

Critical cultural facts apply, too. Christian Zionism long precedes Jewish Zionism, and is not restricted to the one-third of the U.S. population that believes in the literal truth of the Bible. When British Gen. Edmund Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, the national press declared him to be Richard the Lionhearted, finally rescuing the Holy Land from the infidels.

Next, Jews must return to the homeland promised to them by the Lord. Articulating a common elite view, Harold Ickes, Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of the interior, described Jewish colonization of Palestine as an achievement “without comparison in the history of the human race.”

There is also an instinctive sympathy for a settler-colonial society that is seen to be retracing the history of the U.S. itself, bringing civilization to the lands that the undeserving natives had misused – doctrines deeply rooted in centuries of imperialism.

To break the logjam it will be necessary to dismantle the reigning illusion that the U.S. is an “honest broker” desperately seeking to reconcile recalcitrant adversaries and to recognize that serious negotiations would be between the U.S.-Israel and the rest of the world.

If U.S. power centers can be compelled by popular opinion to abandon decades-old rejectionism, many prospects that seem remote might become suddenly possible.

· (Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is "Gaza in Crisis." Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.)

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

American Idiots and Neocon dimwits

R. Congress

Today's New York Times has a feature article on how Turkey is extending its political and economic influence throughout Iraq. The article says that it now has more sway in Iraq than Iran has.

Interesting. How about the good ole USA? Does it have more clout in Iraq than, say, Bolivia?

Wasn't the invasion and occupation of Iraq supposed to show the A-rab world who is boss in these here parts? Hundreds of billions of dollars blown up and hundreds of thousands of lives lost (well..not so many American lives...) and besides stopping Hussein's fictional scary weapons of world destruction, wasn't the idea to establish a US beachhead in the oil rich Mideast and to bring about a model of American style democracy (or at least a lot of KFCs, McDonalds, GAP stores and oil exports to the US of A)?

The Times article even said that members of the new Iraqi parliament went to Istanbul (!) to learn about legislative protocol.

So the great neocon adventure -- the tragedy--to remake the world ended up as a farce.

The Iraq invasion has weakened US imperial power. Afghanistan is bleeding it some more. Now, Obama, following in the footsteps of the neocons, is making a mess of Pakistan and Yemen. Washington deservedly is looking worse and worse as the increasingly isolated enabler of Israel's descent into Judeofacsism and accelerated ethnic cleansing.

Even the USA's backyard, Latin America, is no longer subservient before the colossus of the North. Brazil joins with Turkey to try and stop the US race to war with Iran. Latin countries make their own policies for their own interests first. Something the US never tolerated in the past. Remember the botched clown show of a coup in Venezuela ten years ago? -- last year there was another botched coup against the progressive president of Ecuador..another US flop).

Meanwhile China is kicking Washington's ass up and down the block, economically speaking and laughing at US complaints about China's currency policies.

China is just borrowing a page from a great American icon, W.C.Fields who said:"never give a sucker an even break."

Arrogance, obtuseness, lack of attention to reality, narcissism, racism (of course), living in a fantasy name it -- all define the American approach to the world.

It's not 1956 any more. Or even 1966. Them daze is gone.

The empire is in serious decline and the USA can't throw its weight around like the old days. I think it was inevitable that this happen. It's the way of all predatory empires. But the neocns really helped speed it along. And the mass of know-nothing, middle-American Idiots who still live in the past can't wrap their small minds around the fact that the rest of the world doesn't see their mission in life as servants of the USA.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jazz Bassist Charles Fambrough dies at age 60

I got to know and work with Charles Fambrough starting in 2001, when he performed on my first jazz release pianist Bill O'Connell's "Black Sand." I later released Fambrough's "Live @ Zanzibar Blue" and reissued his album "Upright Citizen." The best part of my starting up a record label has been knowing the musicians and working with them in the recording studio. Charles was a great composer, arranger and musician and a truely good person.
R. Congress

This syndicated blog entry appears courtesy of Sound Insights by Doug Payne.
Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.
After a long bout battling liver disease and many years of suffering, the great jazz bassist Charles Fambrough passed away on Saturday, January 1, 2011. Fambrough had apparently been awaiting a transplant match. Several musical tributes were held in Philadelphia over the last several years to help Fambrough and his family pay the bassist's outrageous medical expenses.

Philadelphia resident Charles Fambrough was born on August 25, 1950. Fambrough studied classical piano throughout his elementary and high-school years. He gravitated to bass at the age of 13, attempting to imitate Paul Chambers, the first jazz bassist he ever heard. He began studying classical bass in the seventh grade but gave it up in 1968 to begin working in the pit bands for such theatrical productions as You Can't Take it With You and By e-Bye Birdie and, by day, playing on The Mike Douglas Show.

In 1969, Charles began working with a cover band called Andy Aaron's Mean Machine that also featured a young saxophonist by the name of Grover Washington, Jr. A year later, Charles joined Grover Washington's road band, staying with the saxophonist during his popular CTI years. In 1975, Fambrough joined Airto Moreira's band, where he stayed for two years until joining legendary pianist McCoy Tyner's group, playing on Tyner's Focal Point (1977), The Greeting (1978) and Horizon (1979), as well as Rahsaan Roland Kik's Boogie Woogie String Along For Real (1977)—his earliest known recordings.

Upon leaving Tyner's group, Fambrough hooked up with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at about the same time Wynton Marsalis was part of the group, recording with the great jazz drummer from 1980 until 1982 and featuring on the pivotal Album of the Year (1981). Fambrough once said “McCoy showed me how to play with endurance. Art gave me refinement."

He continued, “With McCoy, the gig is about speed and strength. He plays so much stuff that you're lucky if you're heard, so you struggle to keep up with him. But with Art it was a lot different. He heard every note you played and if there was anything raggedy, he immediately let you know about it. He really taught you how to play behind a horn player, how to develop in a rhythm section."

Surprisingly, Charles Fambrough made his own solo recording debut on Creed Taylor's famed CTI Records in 1991 with The Proper Angle, an excellent, star-studded affair featuring Wynton Marsalis (who featured Fambrough in his first band in 1982) and Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Branford Marsalis and Joe Ford (who first met Fambrough on a McCoy Tyner gig 13 years earlier) on sax, the late, lamented Kenny Kirkland on piano, Jeff “Tain" Watts on drums (both Kirkland and Watts featured with Fambrough in a trio at the time dubbed “Jazz From Keystone") and Steve Barrios, Mino Cinelu and Jerry Gonzalez on percussion. The record is the first bassist-led date on CTI Records since the legendary Ron Carter in 1976 and it's clear that Fambrough, like Carter, was a bassist who could lead an interesting jazz record of his own. It also ranks among the very best the label issued during its 1989-98 resurgence.

The Proper Angle was not only one of CTI's only straight-ahead albums of the time, it also showcased some of jazz's best young lions at the top of their game. It surely proved that Fambrough was a tremendously capable leader adept at helming a band of great improvisers who worked beautifully well together and it introduced the bassist's amazing facility for interesting composition ("The Dreamer," “Sand Jewels," “Broski," the bassist's nickname from his Jazz Messenger days, “Dolores Carla Maria," named for Fambrough's wife and widow, a singer of great renown in her own right, “Earthlings," “The Proper Angle," “One for Honor," originally written for McCoy Tyner's Horizon, and the beautifully titled “Our Father Who Art Blakey," named for the drummer who had passed away the year before).

Fambrough issued two more records on CTI, The Charmer (1992), featuring Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Kenny Garrett on alto sax, pianists Bill O'Connell, Kenny Kirkland and Abdullah Ibrahim (!), drummers Jeff “Tain" Watts, Billy Drummond and Yoron Israel (!) on drums and a reunion on three tracks with Grover Washington, Jr., and the splendiferously excellent live album Blues at Bradley's (1993) featuring Donald Harrison, Steve Turre, Joe Ford, Bill O'Connell, Bobby Broom, Ricky Sebastian and Steve Berrios. These records remain the undisputed highpoint of CTI in the nineties.

Several other discs under Charles Fambrough's name also appeared, including Keep of the Spirit (AudioQuest, 1995), City Tribes (Evidence, 1995), Upright Citizen (NuGroove, 1997) and Charles Fambrough Live @ Zanzibar Blue (Random Chance, 2002). The bassist also continued to appear on a wide array of discs by others, including Pharoah Sanders (Crescent with Love), Bill O'Connell (including the pianist's great CTI album Lost Voices), Ernie Watts (Reaching Up), Kevin Mahogany (My Romance) and the jazz-rock cover bands Beatlejazz and Stonejazz.

In recent years, health problems prevented Charles Fambrough from participating as much as he once had on the recording scene. But he continued playing around his hometown as much as possible and was one of the bassists featured on drummer/composer Lenny White's 2010 album Anomoly (Abstract Logix).

A fellow musician and Fambrough friend, pianist, composer and educator George Colligan, said on his jazztruth blog today that “Charles had health issues for many of his last years, but it never seemed to deter him from his passion for music. He talked about his condition like it was a minor nuisance. He seemed determined to press on despite his health."

There was something undeniably special about the sound Charles Fambrough made. While you never got the sense that his bass was leading the music's charge, you often stopped to wonder exactly what drove the music he was port of to be as magnificently magnetic as it was. Simple consideration reveals just how emphatic and empathic his role in the music was.

Fellow bassist Ron Carter has stated that he doesn't like his playing to be considered an anchor, something that holds a vessel from moving. Bassists hear that kind of thing all the time, and it's no wonder Carter resents it.

When listening to Charles Fambrough, it's clear that a good bassist propels the music where it needs to go. It's a shame that the music will no longer be propelled by Charles Fambrough, an inventive and imaginative bassist and one of the finest of “the young lions" who emerged in jazz's new traditionalism of the early 1980s.

January 9th: March and Rally for Gaza

January 9: March and Rally for Gaza
Sunday, January 9
33rd and 6th Avenue, Manhattan, NY

On December 27, 2008, the Zionist military savagely attacked Gaza, using weapons paid for by the US to kill hundreds in the first day, and by the end of the three-week assault murdering at least 1,400 and wounding thousands more.

In the years before and since the massacres, Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza leading to malnutrition, stunted growth, and death — and a recent human rights report found that the announced “easing” of the siege never occurred. Murder by Israeli snipers of Gaza farmers trying to work their land is an everyday occurrence.

Meanwhile Israel’s main sponsor, the US, continues to block international legal bodies from pursuing the findings of war crimes during the attacks laid out in the Goldstone Report. Nor has justice been brought against the murderers of the Turkish and American citizens on the Mavi Marmara.

Within occupied ’48 Palestine, the Zionist government passes ever more explicitly racist laws against its Palestinian “citizens.” And on the diplomatic front, the US has dropped its farcical “direct talks” between unelected officials in favor of equally farcical “indirect talks,” all with the goal of imposing a final apartheid solution — one which will above all deny the right of return, a right cherished by the overwhelming majority of Gazans who came from ’48 Palestine.

The two years since the massacres have been years of mushrooming mobilization against Zionism’s crimes, and an unprecedented degree of isolation for the Israeli regime. But this has brought with it retaliation against Palestinians and their supporters, from harassment by campus officials to raids and grand jury subpoenas by the FBI.

This repression is a sign that the Zionists and their sponsors in Washington are worried — not only that further crimes will be met with equally fierce resistance, but also because they know Palestinians are more determined than ever to fight on until total liberation, until every refugee can return, until the land of Palestine is free from the river to the sea!

Join us January 9th to demand:
End the Siege!
No US Aid to Zionist Racism and Murder!
Bring Zionist War Criminals to Justice!
Free Palestine!

Download Flyer (PDF – 8.5 x 11)

Download Poster (PDF – 11 x 17)