Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Democrats try to bury Palestine in middle of the night

from the Electric Intifada
Rania Khalek Power Suits 27 June 2016

In the early morning hours of 25 June, while many Americans were asleep, Hillary Clinton allies on the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee blocked a motion that called for an end to Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlement enterprise.

The vote came after several grueling hours of bickering between members named to the committee by Clinton and Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the one hand, and those appointed by Senator Bernie Sanders, on the other.

The video above shows highlights of the heated exchanges surrounding the vote.

Deeper struggles over Israel taking place within the party have been brought into the open since Sanders named prominent supporters of Palestinian rights to the committee that is writing the party’s general election platform.

Clinton, who appears likely to clinch the party’s presidential nomination after a hard-fought primary battle with Sanders, named members who back her staunch pro-Israel line.

Dark of night
Throughout the day, Clinton surrogates shot down motions endorsing universal health care, a carbon tax, stronger support for raising the minimum wage, forceful opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a moratorium on fracking.

While these defeats took place during the day, committee organizers waited until the dead of night to deliberate on issues related to Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

The vote appeared to be deliberately timed to garner as little attention as possible.

It was the very last section raised and by then it was nearly 1am. Ironically, holding votes in the middle of the night has been a Republican tactic for passing right-wing measures with as little public scrutiny as possible.

But if the purpose in this case was to suppress public debate over Israel, it doesn’t seem to be working.

End the occupation
Arab American Institute president James Zogby, a Sanders appointee, introduced an amendment to revise the language in the Israel/Palestine section of the platform.

Zogby proposed deleting a drafted pledge to oppose so-called delegitimization of Israel at the United Nations or by the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

He also proposed removing a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.

Zogby pushed for wording that called for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements so that [Palestinians] may live in independence, sovereignty and dignity,” “an international effort to rebuild Gaza which the UN warns could be uninhabitable by 2020” and recognition that Palestinians, like Israelis, “deserve security, recognition and a normal life free from violence, terror and incitement.”

Sanders “had direct input” in crafting the amendment, Zogby said, arguing, “the term occupation shouldn’t be controversial.”

Indeed, there was nothing radical about the amendment, which left the pledged US commitment to subsidizing Israel’s military machine and the reference to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” intact.

Even the supposedly liberal pro-Israel lobby group J Street did not object to the word occupation. Although the memo it circulated to members of the platform committee urged them to adopt language opposing BDS.

Champions of occupation
Clinton appointee Wendy Sherman, a lobbyist who effectively sells access to government officials, accused BDS and the UN of “creat[ing] anti-Semitism.”

Former congressman turned lobbyist Howard Berman framed opposition to Israel’s occupation as “one-sided” and suggested that Palestinians bear some responsibility for Israel’s illegal conduct.

Bonnie Schaefer, former joint-CEO of the jewelry chain Claire’s Stores, didn’t even bother addressing the issues raised in the amendment. Instead, she engaged in pinkwashing.

“As a gay Jewish Zionist, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, as we all know, the only place in the Middle East that I can walk down the street with my wife hand in hand and not be afraid,” Schaefer said.

A Clinton supporter and major donor to the Democratic Party, Schaefer was named to the committee by the DNC.

“Tell the truth”
Zogby fired back, while “you can go and walk down the street of Tel Aviv holding the hand of your wife, I can’t get in the airport without seven hours of harassment because I’m of Arab descent.”

“We have to be able to call it what it is. It’s an occupation that humiliates people, that breeds contempt, that breeds anger and despair and hopelessness, that leads to violence,” Zogby added.

Civil rights activist and celebrated public intellectual Cornel West, an outspoken supporter of BDS appointed by Sanders, expressed outrage.

“When the IDF [Israeli army] kills innocent people, over 500 babies in 51 days, no matter how many shields they say Hamas uses, it’s wrong,” said West, referring to Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza.

The “Democratic Party must tell the truth,” West implored. “We can never fully respect the Palestinians unless we can name … the boot on their necks.”

“I come from a people who’ve been hated,” West added, drawing an analogy between the long history of denying the horrors inflicted on African Americans and the refusal to recognize the oppression of Palestinians.

The motion was nonetheless defeated in an 8-5 vote, with Sanders’ representatives being the only committee members to back it.

That vote, combined with other defeats throughout the day, prompted West to abstain from approving the platform altogether.

“[If] we can’t say a word about [Trans-Pacific Partnership], if we can’t talk about Medicare for all explicitly, if the greatest prophetic voice dealing with impending ecological catastrophe can hardly win a vote and if we can’t even acknowledge occupation as something that’s real in the lives of a slice of humanity … it just seems to me there’s no way in good conscience I can say take it to the next stage,” West said.

“I have to abstain. I have no other moral option, it would be a violation of my own limited sense of moral integrity and spiritual conscience,” he added. “That’s how I roll.”

West’s and Zogby’s advocacy for Palestinian rights has been so insistent that the Clinton wing of the party has attempted to neutralize them through the most cynical form of identity politicking.

“Concerned that Zogby and West’s viewpoint may be gaining traction at least in the public narrative, Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina representative and now a CNN commentator, sent a letter signed by 60 African American politicians around the country to the co-chairs of the platform committee last week urging them to stick to the traditional language on Israel,” CNN reported.

This move was meant as a “counterpoint to West, a prominent member of the Black community.”

Fundamental disconnect
“Even though ending Israeli military occupation and settlement building have been explicit US policy goals since the early days of the George W. Bush administration, and even though Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s Secretary of State tried to advance these goals, Clinton appointees to the Democratic National Committee’s platform drafting committee outvoted Sanders appointees to exclude these very same goals from the Democratic platform,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told The Electronic Intifada.

“As Dr. Jim Zogby, a Sanders appointee, noted in the debate last night there is a fundamental disconnect between official US policy and the unwillingness of the Democratic Party to back it,” Ruebner added.

The US Campaign is calling on activists to urge both the Republican and Democratic parties to support Palestinian rights in their platforms.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Democrats ‘no-fly, no-buy’ sit-in bolsters racist, ineffective and arbitrary surveillance of Muslims

from Mondoweiss
by Alex Kane on June 23, 2016

Americans were treated to a great act of political theater yesterday, as a group of Democrats, including civil rights hero John Lewis, lead a sit-in to call for gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando shooting. The Democrats disrupted official business for the day, and drew cheers from liberals for their sit-in.

There’s a big problem with the sit-in, though: one of the measures the Democrats want to pass would bar people on the no-fly or selectee lists–people suspected of having ties to terrorism–from buying guns.

At first glance, this seems logical. Who wants a terrorist to be able to buy a gun? But the reality is that these watchlists are deeply flawed, arbitrary and disproportionately impacts Muslims. People don’t know if they’re on it, there’s virtually no way to get off it, and it leads to consequences like not being able to fly or getting pulled aside for extra questioning at airports. It is also notoriously inaccurate. A 2009 Justice Department study found that a third of watchlisted names were on there because of outdated information.

The bill in question would effectively codify reliance on a list that many Democrats–including John Lewis himself–have criticized as violating civil liberties. In fact, Lewis himself was once on the no-fly list. The legislation would also do very little to curb gun violence in the U.S.

The bill that Democrats are advocating for has been nicknamed “no-fly, no-buy,” which would deny the sale of guns to people on the no-fly or selectee list.

These lists encompass thousands of people. The biggest U.S. terror watchlist is composed of hundreds of thousands of people. The exact number of people on the list is unknown, since it can change day to day. But in 2014, The Intercept reported that 680,000 people were on the Terrorist Screening Center Database list. The no-fly and selectee lists are smaller subsets of that large list. More than 40 percent of the people on the Terrorist Screening Center Database did not have a “recognized terrorist group affiliation,” The Intercept reported. Other bills proposed since the Orlando shooting have sought to use this hundreds of thousands-strong list as the basis for denying someone a gun.

Ramzi Kassem, an associate professor at CUNY School of Law and the founder and director of the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility Project, told me earlier in the year that the watchlists “are notoriously arbitrary and inaccurate. People are placed on these lists without ever being told why or given an opportunity to contest their listing. And the lists appear to focus disproportionately on individuals with Muslim-sounding names.”

Being included on the watchlist can also have consequences beyond not being able to fly. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of people on the no-fly list. When these Muslim-Americans spoke to the FBI about why they were on the list, agents pressured them to become informants to spy on their own communities. That was the price to pay to get off the no-fly database. And as I reported for The Intercept, the terror watchlist also shows up on criminal rap sheets, and has impacted people’s cases even if their alleged crimes have nothing to do with terrorism.

Democrats are pushing to bar people on the no-fly list from buying guns because of the Orlando attacks. But this bill would not have stopped Omar Mateen, the gunman, from buying the assault rifle he used to shoot up the Pulse nightclub. It is unclear if Mateen was on the no-fly list. And Mateen was taken off the larger federal watchlist in 2014.

That Democrats are now seeking to bolster an ineffective, arbitrary and racist watch list is no surprise. This is the party that, after the September 11 attacks, voted for the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and expanded surveillance.

Nearly 15 years after September 11, the Democrats seem to have learned little. They are once again complicit in the expansion of the national security state. Their support for bills that rely on secret government watchlists is the latest example of a party all too eager to jettison civil liberties.

- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/ineffective-arbitrary-surveillance/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=3e40a65923-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-3e40a65923-309260894&mc_cid=3e40a65923&mc_eid=b1e0e2d3d7#sthash.AkbXfrWU.dpuf

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Democratic clash over Palestine signals changing party

from the Electric Intifada

Rania Khalek, 21 June 2016

Allies of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred at the Democratic platform drafting committee’s first round of hearings on 9 June over the issue of Palestinian freedom and Israel.

The clashes point to deeper struggles over Israel taking place within the party.

Sanders’ backers called for elevating Palestinian rights and acknowledging Israel’s military occupation in the party’s general election platform.

The video above shows highlights of the exchanges.

Those requests from Sanders allies were roundly rejected by Clinton supporters, who recycled platitudes about Israel’s security, apparently disputed the existence of Israeli military occupation and attacked the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The 15-member drafting committee includes five members chosen by Sanders, among them grassroots activists and at least one BDS supporter.

The other ten, appointed by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, mostly include lobbyists and establishment insiders.

Sanders has said he is using his leverage ahead of next month’s Democratic convention to push for the most progressive platform in the party’s history.

By making Palestinian rights a central component of his fight for a more inclusive and open Democratic Party, Sanders is forcing a long overdue public conversation about the most contentious issue in American politics.

BDS “must stop immediately”
Robert Wexler, a former congressman from Florida and staunch Clinton advocate, opened the discussion on Middle East policy by outlining the party establishment’s blueprint for the region.

Wexler, now president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, a nonprofit pro-Israel advocacy group, was present to give testimony as an expert.

Democrats “have a long-standing record of friendship with Israel” and “Clinton will continue that commitment,” Wexler said.

“While some proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement may hope that pressuring Israel will lead to peace, the truth is outside forces will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he added.

“Particularly when anti-Semitism is rising throughout the world, Democrats must condemn efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel … The delegitimization of Israel must stop immediately,” Wexler said.

That Wexler felt compelled to attack BDS is a testament to the success of Palestine solidarity activism which up until a few years ago had been dismissed as a fringe movement.

“Unbelievable misery”
Civil rights activist and celebrated public intellectual Cornel West, an outspoken supporter of BDS appointed to the committee by Sanders, responded to Wexler with a plea for equality and justice.

Israel’s security “can never be predicated on an occupation of precious Palestinians” who have been “wrestling with occupation for 50-some years, demeaned, devalued, dominated, exploited,” West said.

“For too long the Democratic Party’s been beholden to AIPAC, that didn’t take seriously the humanity of Palestinian brothers and sisters,” West said, referring to the powerful Israel lobby group.

West strongly denounced anti-Semitism, but warned that the ongoing struggle against that form of bigotry “cannot be the excuse of in any way downplaying the unbelievable misery that we see in Gaza and West Bank and other places.”

“So my first question would be, would you argue for the use of the word occupation in the platform?” West asked Wexler.

He also asked how Wexler would respond to the assertion that “for so long the United States has been so biased toward Israeli security and not accented the humanity of Palestinians that to talk about even-handedness is always a version of anti-Semitism as opposed to a struggle for justice.”

Occupation denial
Wexler was unequivocal: “No, I would not support and would in fact oppose the use of the word occupation for the very reason that it undermines our common objective,” the former congressman claimed.

The Democratic Party’s primary objective, he explained, is the “creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state” alongside “a Jewish-majority democratic state of Israel.”

When Arab American Institute president Jim Zogby, another Sanders appointee who has defended BDS, challenged Wexler on Israel’s settlements built illegally in the occupied West Bank, Wexler accused him of “undermin[ing] the whole equation that supports a negotiated two-state outcome.”

“How much is this going to cost?”
Deborah Parker, a Native American activist appointed by Sanders, expressed opposition to more wars in the Middle East and the cost of US military spending in the region, especially “as we sit here and listen to the amount of homelessness and infrastructure, education needs” in the US.

“How much is this going to cost us?” she asked.

Instead of addressing Parker’s question, Wexler paraphrased Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“One point Netanyahu always makes is that Israel is our one ally that never, ever has asked, and I can’t imagine would ask, for an American to do their fighting for them. Israelis fight for themselves,” said Wexler.

But they fight “with our money!” a person in the audience shouted.

The heckler was right. Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid, accounting for 55 percent of the total, to the tune of $3.1 billion a year.

President Barack Obama is currently negotiating a new deal that his administration vows will be the biggest military aid package to any country in history.

Fracturing party
The tension between the Sanders and Clinton backers over Israel is part of a wider battle over the direction of the Democratic Party.

Clinton represents the establishment and corporate wing, which is determined to prevent the party’s increasingly young and progressive base from gaining any power.

This new generation of voters strongly supports Sanders’ message of economic justice, a trend that corresponds with a dramatic ideological shift to the left that will likely endure after his campaign.

And that shift includes Palestine.

In the last two years alone, support for Palestinians among liberal Democrats has nearly doubled.

Support for Palestinian rights is also growing, especially on US college campuses, where recent polls show that 43 percent of students favor boycott as a means to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights and 44 percent – almost half – view Israel as an apartheid state.

Deeply rattled, pro-Israel groups are desperately pouring resources into suppressing BDS.

So when Sanders appointed West to the platform committee and signaled his intention to push the Democrats on Palestine, the political establishment went into an all-out panic.

War on BDS
Concrete action came early this month when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order requiring state agencies to divest from companies and institutions that back efforts to boycott Israel in support of freedom and equality.

The state will enforce the provision after drawing up what amounts to a political blacklist of accused boycott supporters.

Civil liberties groups slammed the decree as a McCarthyite violation of constitutionally protected speech.

While there is little doubt Cuomo would have supported the measure anyway, the likely motive behind the timing went largely unnoticed.

Cuomo, a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, may have fast-tracked the decree to shore up the Democratic Party’s support for Israel and to counter Sanders’ influence on the party platform.

During his speech announcing the executive order, Cuomo alluded to Sanders’ criticisms of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, warning,“You now have aspects of the Democratic Party that are being critical of Israel.” Cuomo then insisted, “I still think the Democratic party and the leadership of the Democratic party and the candidates of the Democratic Party are far and away stronger supporters of Israel than any other party.”

Clinton was gearing up for a war on the Palestine solidarity movement as early as last July when she vowed “to make countering BDS a priority” of her presidency.

A lot has happened since then.

Sanders rose from relative obscurity to rock star status and he has used his prominence to snub AIPAC, slam Israel’s military assault on Gaza as “disproportionate” and challenge Clinton to treat Palestinians with respect and dignity on a national debate stage.

And he did it all while remaining competitive, demonstrating that speaking up for Palestinians doesn’t have to be a career killer.

“Turning point”
Cuomo’s anxieties over the rise in support for Palestinian rights in the party were best distilled by Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, also a Clinton surrogate.

Speaking to Politico after Cuomo’s announcement, Nadler complained that “a small minority … led by Bernie perhaps, or led by Cornel West, could generate a debate that makes the Democratic Party look, during the debate, not good, or anti-Israel.”

“It could cost us a lot of votes against Trump,” Nadler added.

New York Senator Charles Schumer, another Clinton supporter, said he planned to introduce national legislation similar to Cuomo’s state-level decree.

“One state is one thing,” Schumer said, “but to do it in the whole country would be much better.”

These are the declarations of an establishment that is losing the argument and sees its best option as using state power to quash political speech.

But so far, this strategy has not worked, and civil liberties defenders have said that such measures are bound to invite legal challenges on First Amendment grounds.

Symbolic as it may be, Sanders’ appointment of West to the platform committee signals a major crack in the Democratic Party’s allegiance to Israel.

The groundswell of support for Palestinian equality is inching its way up from the grassroots.

“We’re at a turning point now and of course it’s going to be a slow one in the Democratic Party, but some of us are working outside the Democratic Party to make it quicker,” Cornel West told fellow members of the platform committee. “That’s why I support the BDS.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

Con vs Con

Con vs. Con

Posted on Jun 19, 2016

By Chris Hedges

During the presidential election cycle, liberals display their gutlessness. Liberal organizations, such as MoveOn.org, become cloyingly subservient to the Democratic Party. Liberal media, epitomized by MSNBC, ruthlessly purge those who challenge the Democratic Party establishment. Liberal pundits, such as Paul Krugman, lambaste critics of the political theater, charging them with enabling the Republican nominee. Liberals chant, in a disregard for the facts, not to be like Ralph Nader, the “spoiler” who gave us George W. Bush.

The liberal class refuses to fight for the values it purports to care about. It is paralyzed and trapped by the induced panic manufactured by the systems of corporate propaganda. The only pressure within the political system comes from corporate power. With no counterweight, with no will on the part of the liberal class to defy the status quo, we slide deeper and deeper into corporate despotism. The repeated argument of the necessity of supporting the “least worse” makes things worse.

Change will not come quickly. It may take a decade or more. And it will never come by capitulating to the Democratic Party establishment. We will accept our place in the political wilderness and build alternative movements and parties to bring down corporate power or continue to watch our democracy atrophy into a police state and our ecosystem unravel.

The rise of a demagogue like Donald Trump is a direct result of the Democratic Party’s decision to embrace neoliberalism, become a handmaiden of American imperialism and sell us out for corporate money. There would be no Trump if Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party had not betrayed working men and women with the North American Free Trade Agreement, destroyed the welfare system, nearly doubled the prison population, slashed social service programs, turned the airwaves over to a handful of corporations by deregulating the Federal Communications Commission, ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks that led to a global financial crash and prolonged recession, and begun a war on our civil liberties that has left us the most monitored, eavesdropped, photographed and profiled population in human history. There would be no Trump if the Clintons and the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, had not decided to prostitute themselves for corporate pimps.

Con artists come in many varieties. On Wall Street, they can have Princeton University and Harvard Law School degrees, polished social skills and Italian designer suits that are priced in the tens of thousands of dollars. In Trump tower, they can have cheap comb-overs, fake tans, casinos and links with the Mafia. In the Clinton Foundation, they can wallow in hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate and foreign donors, including the most repressive governments in the world, exchanged for political favors. But they are all crooks.

The character traits of the Clintons are as despicable as those that define Trump. The Clintons have amply illustrated that they are as misogynistic and as financially corrupt as Trump. Trump is a less polished version of the Clintons. But Trump and the Clintons share the same bottomless guile, megalomania and pathological dishonesty. Racism is hardly limited to Trump. The Clintons rose to power in the Democratic Party by race-baiting, sending nonviolent drug offenders of color to prison for life, making war on “welfare queens” and being “law-and-order” Democrats. The Clintons do a better job of masking their snakelike venom, but they, like Trump, will sell anyone out.

The Clintons and the Democratic Party establishment are banking that the liberal class will surrender once again to corporate power and genuflect before neoliberal ideology. Bernie Sanders will be trotted out, like a chastened sheepdog, to coax his followers back into the holding pen. The moral outrage of his supporters over Wall Street crimes, wholesale state surveillance, the evisceration of civil liberties, the failure to halt the devastation of the ecosystem, endless war, cuts to Social Security and austerity, will, the Democratic Party elites expect, airily evaporate. They may not be wrong. Given the history of the liberal class, they are probably right.

Sanders supporters, however, were given a stark lesson in how the political process is rigged. Some are disgusted and politically astute enough to defect to the Green Party. But once they no longer play by the rules, once they become “spoilers,” they will be ignored or ridiculed by a corporate press, excoriated by liberal elites and chastised by their former candidate.

Liberals, as part of the quid pro quo with the establishment, serve as attack dogs to keep us within the deadly embrace of corporate capitalism. Liberals are tolerated by the capitalist elites because they do not question the virtues of corporate capitalism, only its excesses, and call for tepid and ineffectual reforms. Liberals denounce those who speak in the language of class warfare. They are the preferred group—because they claim liberal values—used by capitalist elites to demonize the left as irresponsible heretics.

Liberals are employed by corporate elites in universities, the media, systems of entertainment and advertising agencies to perpetuate corporate power. Many are highly paid. They have a financial stake in corporate dominance. The educated elites in the liberal class are capitalism’s useful idiots. They are tolerated because they contribute, by discrediting the left, to the maintenance of corporate power. They do not think or function independently. And they are given platforms in academia and on the airwaves to marginalize and denounce those who do think and function independently.

The battle between a bankrupt liberal class and the left will color the remainder of the presidential race. What is predictable, and sad, is that so many self-identified progressives and their organizations will once again serve as the pawns of neoliberalism. They will practice censorship. Progressive sites in the primaries refused to reprint columns by critics such as Paul Street, who did not see Sanders as the new political messiah. And as we move closer and closer to the election, these sites will become ever more hostile to the left and ever more craven in their defense of Clinton.

The system of corporate power, which Clinton and Trump will not alter, will continue to be ignored. The poison of imperialism and corporate capitalism, steadily hollowing out the country and pushing it toward collapse, will be sidelined. The campaign will be a political reality show, this season with a genuine reality star as a presidential candidate. Campaigning will ignore ideas to elicit emotions—fear, anger and hope. Insults will fly back and forth over social media. The race will be devoid of content. Clinton and Trump, in this world of political make-believe, will say whatever their listeners want to hear. They will furiously compete for “undecided” voters, essentially the apolitical segment of the population. And once the election is over, one of them will go to Washington, where corporations, rich donors and lobbyists—who they represent—will continue with the business of governing.

After November, our role will be over. We will no longer be asked to answer polling questions designed to elicit certain responses. We will no longer be asked to play a walk-on part in the tawdry drama called democracy. The political carnival on television will be replaced by other carnivals. The corporate state will claim democratic legitimacy. We will remain in bondage.

The real face of the corporate state, and the evidence that our democracy has been extinguished, will be on display during the party conventions in the streets of Cleveland and Philadelphia. The blocks around the convention halls will be militarized and flooded with police. There will be restricted movement. Pedestrians will be stopped at random and searched. Helicopters will hover overhead. Permits to hold rallies will only be issued to those, such as Sanders supporters, who stay within the parameters imposed by the political charade. Groups suspected of planning protests to defy corporate politics have already been infiltrated. They will be heavily monitored. Those who attempt to organize protests without permits will be arrested or detained before the conventions begin. The cities will be on lockdown.

If you want to see what America will look like soon, across the country, shift your focus from the convention halls to the streets in Cleveland and Philadelphia. It is in the streets that our corporate masters will win or lose. And they know it.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wide-ranging coalition rallies in Albany to demand Cuomo rescind anti-BDS order

from mondoweiss.org
Jesse Rubin on June 17, 2016

Activists call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to rescind his recent anti-BDS executive order. (Photo: Jesse Rubin)

On Wednesday June 15, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent anti-BDS executive order galvanized a diverse coalition of nearly 200 —Palestine solidarity activists, civil liberties defenders, faith organizations, elected officials, antiwar groups and more—to travel from across the state to Albany on Wednesday to deliver a petition calling on Governor Cuomo to rescind Executive Order 157: Directing State Agencies and Authorities to Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel.

Mark Mishler, an activist with the Albany chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, called Cuomo’s actions “frightening,” but marveled at the organized activist pushback.

“What Governor Cuomo did is gave us all strength to come together,” Mishler told Mondoweiss. “Whether we all agree on everything or not, we certainly all agree that it is wrong for Governor Cuomo to think that he can silence people who are speaking up for human rights.”

Demonstrators met outside the capitol building before filing through the airport-like security. They pushed signs reading “Boycott until Israel stops demolishing Palestinian homes” and “I love human rights” through the metal detectors—although a paper mâché Cuomo effigy did not make it through.

Outside Cuomo’s office on the second floor, the crowd heard from varied speakers including Rosa Clemente of Black Lives Matter Upstate NY, Joe Lombardo of the United Antiwar Coalition and Alana Krivo-Kaufman, the East Coast Regional Organizer at Jewish Voice for Peace—on the importance of BDS and the links between the Palestinian struggle and broader justice movements.

Other speakers included: Ursula Rozum, staff organizer at Syracuse Peace Council; Tarak Kauff of Veterans For Peace; Rick Ufford-Chase from Community of Living Traditions via the Presbyterian Church; Rani Allan of Adalah NY and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College; Kathy Manley, vice president of the NYCLU Capitol region chapter; Ariel Gold of CODEPINK; Rev. Barbara Toll of United Church of Christ; and Palestinian Rights Committee’s Carl Strock.

NY Assemblyman Phillip Steck admitted to the crowd, “I voted in favor of a resolution opposing BDS,” referring to his support of Resolution No. 705 almost exactly one year prior.

But reflecting the broader unification sparked by Cuomo’s overreach, Steck added: “I am here because of the important principle on which this nation was founded—free speech codified in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”


Activists and legal experts have been strategizing ways to counter the draconian measure since Cuomo issued it suddenly on June 5.

Kathy Manley, vice president of the Capitol region New York Civil Liberties Union, said that while the NYCLU does not have an official position on BDS, her organization has “opposed this since it was part of a bill that Cuomo was pushing in the NY state legislature.”

In order to combat the order, an organization with state contracts that has passed a pro-BDS resolution must file a complaint, explain why Cuomo’s executive order violates their First Amendment, then “try to get a preliminary injunction and a restraining order against enforcement of it,” Manley explained to Mondoweiss.

“I’m pretty sure that before long,” added Manley, “a group is going to go to court and challenge this and hopefully get an injunction against this and get it thrown out soon.”

Because boycott is both a time-honored, nonviolent tool for change and protected as First Amendment free speech, activists are particularly worried about the order’s unintended implications. Shirley Fabre, a Haitian immigrant now living in the multi-faith Hudson Valley Community of Living Traditions, remained steadfast.

“To be in the United States and have somebody take away your free speech, when free speech is such a part of the American fabric is unbelievable,” Fabre told Mondoweiss.

“Regardless of what Americans feel about the Israeli-Palestinian situation,” Fabre added, “you don’t like somebody infringing on your rights, and especially a foreign government infringing on your rights.”

Rasoul Noviri, an Iranian immigrant also residing at the Community of Living Traditions, added that boycott is “the most powerful tool—better than guns, ammunition or arrows.”

Denied, Not Deterred
Following speeches, the 200 or so activists filed toward Cuomo’s office, attempting to deliver their petition calling on the Governor to rescind his order.

CODEPINK’s Ariel Gold relayed this message to the crowd, who echoed her words back:

“We have been denied entry to the governor’s office. The security guard says that we must deliver our petition of over 13,000 signatures to the receptionist’s desk at the other end,” Gold stated, answered by a chorus. “Governor Cuomo is not allowing us to give our petition personally.”

Energizing Action
Wednesday’s protest represented the culmination of Albany-area activist Keren Carmeli’s frustrations, who said she was “blindsided” by Cuomo’s order which circumvented the standard legislation practice. “[We] have to let him know that we’re really disgusted with his decision to go about it in this way,” Carmeli told Mondoweiss.

“We’ve known about different bills that have been pending and we’ve been talking to our elected officials and we’ve been writing letters to the editor. We’ve been trying to do all the normal things that you do when you know of some kind of legislation that’s coming down the pike,” Carmeli added.

Cuomo’s executive order came after two failed attempts to pass anti-BDS legislation through the state legislature.

- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/ranging-coalition-rallies/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=75fe34ac86-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-75fe34ac86-309260894&mc_cid=75fe34ac86&mc_eid=b1e0e2d3d7#sthash.8VG0qWbI.dpuf

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Right-wing celebrations of Tel Aviv attacks 'huge warning sign'

from Al-Monitor

Several hours after the June 8 terror attack that killed four people in Tel Aviv, and even before the city returned to business as usual, social networks began buzzing with posts and reactions by right-wing Israelis ecstatic that the very heart of Tel Aviv had been targeted in the murderous incident.

Summary⎙ Print Some right-wing Israelis are happy about the recent terror attack on Tel Aviv because of its association with the Israeli left.

Author Shlomi EldarPosted June 13, 2016
TranslatorRuti Sinai

They didn’t seem to be a bunch of crazies letting off steam. Rather they appeared to reflect an array of people for whom Tel Aviv is the capital of the left-wing that supports a two-state solution and an end to the occupation, or, as they see it, the capital of the “Arab lovers.” As far as the right is concerned, it seems, the left is the worst enemy of the Jewish state.

A young woman named Emily Moghrabi, for example, wrote, “The important thing is that it happened in Tel Aviv. Such a pleasure.” After her incitement got lots of shares, Facebook removed the post, but not to be deterred, she then posted (since removed as well), “One of those killed in the attack was a Peace Now activist [referring to Michael Feige]. Stop. I can’t stand this happiness … Elor Azarya [the soldier who shot dead an injured Palestinian attacker in Hebron on March 24], this is for you.” That post got 130 shares.

Moghrabi is by no means alone, as evidenced by the dozens of supportive comments and praise for her posts, some of which dubbed her a “queen.” A guy by the name of David Benayoun wrote, “Being a leftist is being a German,” and another named David Eliran said that leftists are “sick and ugly creatures; Hamas is welcome to kill all the leftists.” And so it went.

Zionist Camp Knesset member Merav Michaeli, stunned by the unbelievable wave of hatred by Israelis happy about the murder of other Israelis, posted a video in seeking to appeal to the reason of the revelers: “I refuse to believe that you [Emily Moghrabi] and Nick Vassat [who also “celebrated” the murder of the Israelis] really think that Israeli women and men deserve to be murdered in a terror attack, even if they are leftists.”

It would seem that many Israelis, among them Michaeli, refuse to understand that the point of no return was passed a long time ago. It is not a case of “stray weeds,” the sobriquet applied to those at the margins of society whose incitement led to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This is a widespread phenomenon reflected in Israel's daily public discourse, including in newspapers on the right. It is reinforced and encouraged by right-wing politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has turned hatred of the left into a self-serving tool.

In October 1997, while I was diplomatic correspondent for Channel 1 TV, Netanyahu visited the Jerusalem synagogue of the kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri. Israel Radio reporter Haim Rivlin and I stood near the prayer podium and saw Netanyahu lean toward the rabbi and whisper something. No one heard what Netanyahu said, and it is highly doubtful that Kaduri, 99 at the time, could have heard anything either in the noisy room. Netanyahu's remark, however, was quite audible on a tape recording, which was overlaid on the footage shot by the television cameras: “Those on the left have forgotten what it means to be Jewish,” he had said.

It’s been almost 20 years, and the consequences continue to be suffered to this day. Netanyahu has consistently depicted the left as seeking to undermine the foundations of the state, and if the head honcho says it, why shouldn’t others? Netanyahu as prime minister signposted the way for many on the right, including politicians, rabbis, analysts and activists. As far as they are concerned, the left is an enemy to be vanquished, and indeed, they often use the terminology of battle and war to goad the left. They unabashedly describe the left as colluding with the enemies of the state to destroy it.

Right-wing activist Haim Shine is a senior analyst for the popular freebie newspaper Israel Hayom, owned by the American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close Netanyahu associate. On May 23, Shine penned an article headlined “The left cut itself off from society.” He states that the left “had better understand that the Jewish nation has been reinstated in Israel for eternity. Let them [the left] not waste their despair, they will need it for many years to come.”

Here’s another example: In the 2015 election campaign, the state-backed Council of Samaria Settlers aired a video clip comparing the Israeli left to traitors being led to the gallows. The clip is titled “The Eternal Jew,” like some 1940s Nazi propaganda film. In it, a European man is seen in his office reading a newspaper called “The Left,” as his secretary, who calls him “Herr Sturmer” (as in the Nazi weekly Der Sturmer), tells him there’s a Jew who wants to see him.

There are numerous such examples. In other words, the expressions of hatred for the left after the attack in Tel Aviv are not by way of being writing on the wall. They are a huge warning sign. A civil war seems to be underway in Israel, and the next political assassination is just a matter of time. Every political assassination has been preceded by incitement and demonization, turning a political opponent into a dangerous foe who must be stopped at all cost, even the cost of murder. That is how Rabin came to be assassinated — after being portrayed by the right as a traitor, a Nazi. His assassin, Yigal Amir, pulled the trigger of a gun loaded with the hateful remarks of rabbis and politicians. Then, too, no one believed a Jew would kill a Jew.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/tel-aviv-israeli-right-left-assasination-yitzhak-rabin.html#ixzz4BaKlGrIj

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The List: Cuomo’s anti-BDS executive order is a first amendment nightmare

On June 5 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an executive order aimed at the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. BDS is a non-violent economic and political protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

In Cuomo’s order, which Salon reporter Ben Norton called “McCarthyite,” there is a provision that requires the state to create a list of companies that participate in the BDS movement. The list aims to publicly shame and financially harm those who exercise their First Amendment right of political protest.

And though Cuomo’s order will not stand up to a challenge in court, the list itself will cause extreme harm and damage — and that’s the plan.

Within the next 180 days, the Commissioner of General Services of the state of New York will deliver the initial list of BDS-participating companies to the governor. The list will be placed online for the public’s viewing. Companies are allowed to appeal their placement for 90 days in advance of their placement.

As Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman described it in The Intercept:

Cuomo’s Executive Order requires that one of his Commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” which – “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary” – support a boycott. That government list is then posted publicly, and the burden falls on them to prove to the state that they do not, in fact, support such a boycott.

Note — the language Greenwald and Fishman cite in the accompanying image to this paragraph appears to indicate companies have time to appeal their placement prior to public posting, not after

Once a company is on the list, they can appeal for removal from the list. The list will be updated every 180 days.

Draconian stuff.

Even if the legislation doesn’t survive the inevitable legal challenges on its merits, the creation of such a list will have irreversible consequences.

One of the lingering after-effects of the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era of the 1950s was the difficulty of the wrongly accused to find work, decades after the list had been closed. Despite the efforts of the Hollywood Ten, the breaking of the list did not result in the immediate reinstatement to work of those on the list.

Some would go without work for years due to their association with the blacklist and, by proxy, Communism. Even after the country by and large had rejected the blacklist and McCarthyite scaremongering, the ostracization of those associated with the list remained in place.

It’s for this reason that Cuomo’s legislation is so dangerous.

First Amendment rights of association and political protest are designed specifically to combat government interference. Cuomo’s anti- BDS law is an obvious and blatant violation of those rights. It will be struck down in court.

But if it is not struck down in time, if the courts do not manage to issue a stay on its implementation, or if the NY state bureaucracy can tie up the legal system while putting the order into effect, the list will exist. And once it exists, the damage will have been done.

Even when the law is struck down, the stigma of being associated with this draconian law will linger. Just as those who were on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s found it hard to find work for years after the list was broken, so too will businesses that are tied to BDS in NY state find it difficult to survive in the American economy.

Which is exactly the point. Cuomo wants the fear of that stigma to do the work of the law, no matter the outcome in the courts.

This article first appeared on Eoin Higgins’s website.