Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ayelet Shaked and the fascist ideology


Israel/Palestine Jonathan Ofir on September 11, 2017
Mussolini, Italy's fascist leader, in 1934






Yesterday, Haaretz columnist Rogel Alpher published a piece titled “Israeli Minister Shaked Takes After Mussolini”. In it he opined that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was literally, not just metaphorically, a fascist. Alpher was referring to that speech where Shaked said: “Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”


Ayelet Shaked

The minister’s announcement of a “moral and political revolution” aimed at strengthening national principles at the expense of universal individual rights was comparable to Mussolini’s “doctrine of fascism,” the columnist said. He cited Mussolini’s “revolutionary negation” of individualism and liberalism, wherein the nation “was a superior, super-personal reality … a moral law, a tradition, a mission binding together generations past, present and future, and all the individuals”(quoting from Jacob Talmon’s “The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution”).


Rogel Alpher

Alpher’s column came after Gideon Levy’s column, which was also based on the speech Shaked gave, on that same critical sentence about Zionism and individual rights. But Levy actually thanked Shaked for “telling the truth” and for “speaking honestly.” And that truth was, as Levy put it: “Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps racist movement.”

But now we need to step back a bit, and combine these two angles into a kind of intellectual 3D picture:

If Alpher is calling Shaked an actual fascist, based upon what she said, and if Levy is concluding that those words are a true and honest representation of Zionism itself, then the combined logic must be, that Zionism is itself a form of fascism.

That actually makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t have to mean Zionism is a carbon copy of Italian fascism, just like the crime of Apartheid doesn’t require identical features to Apartheid South Africa (and as I have recently opined, Zionism is Apartheid, and worse). Racist, ultra-nationalist endeavors tend to flock together in alliance, just like the Mussolini-Hitler alliance, or more recently the Netanyahu-Orban alliance (wherein Netanyahu threw Jewish philanthropist George Soros under the anti-Semitic Hungarian bus). There has of course also been the actual alliance between the Zionist Revisionists of Zeev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky and the Italian Fascists. Jabotnisky’s ideology, which informed the Jewish terrorist Irgun and Stern Gang factions in Palestine, was the informer of Menachem Begin’s Herut, which morphed into Likud.

When Jabotinsky’s fighters were training in the 1930’s, a leading Italian naval publication stated:

“In agreement of all the relevant authorities it has been confirmed that the views and the political and social inclinations of the Revisionists are known and that they are absolutely in accordance with the fascist doctrine. Therefore, as our students they will bring the Italian and fascist culture to Palestine.” (Noted in Eric Kaplan, The Jewish Radical Right: Revisionist Zionism and Its Ideological Legacy, 2005, see p. 149-171).

Alright, alright, some will say – that’s the right-wing Zionism, but what about the left wing?

Well, I believe that Ben-Gurion’s famous words from 1938, where he said that

”If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel”

are an epitome of that essentially fascist ‘revolutionary negation of individualism and liberalism, wherein the nation was a superior, super-personal reality, a moral law’. It is that will to sacrifice individuals – aye, even children – for the supposed ‘greater national good’. Note that Ben-Gurion was not speaking about soldiers fighting in a war. He was speaking about children, who weren’t even citizens of any “Jewish state” and never signed up for it. Under this all-encompassing Jewish ‘national’ notion, every Jew is considered a part. This comes full circle with Netanyahu speaking on the supposed behalf of Jews all over the world, saying to them “Israel is your home” in the wake of terror attacks on Jewish targets.

All Zionists understand this, even if it is at an instinctive level. The will to sacrifice Palestinian rights (as well as other rights) for the ‘national Jewish home’ is a core tenet of Zionism. There are no real moral qualms in Zionism about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; any such qualms are quelled by the claim that it’s ‘complicated’. When a Zionist like the self-proclaimed ‘leftist’ Israeli historian Benny Morris finally concedes the fairness of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’, it comes with the supposedly-exonerating caveat–

“There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing.”

Morris echoes Ben-Gurion’s words: “I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it” (as quoted in Morris’s own book Righteous Victims). Yet Morris opines that Ben-Gurion should have gone further in his ‘transfer’: “If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job.”

So these are the more ‘honest’ voices of Zionism. The voices that forgot to keep the mask of political correctness. They come from both right and left, but the right seems more prone to drop the mask.

Incidentally, Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair recently posted a virulently anti-Semitic meme, where George Soros is depicted as a global manipulator, controlling a reptilian, a caricature ‘Illuminati’ Jew, and a train of other figures who are supposedly the ‘food chain’ feeding off the Netanyahu family, all (except the reptilian) holding their hands in the “happy merchant” fashion. The meme, congratulated by the Nazi Daily Stormer as “awesome,” caused quite some outrage in Israel, especially in the left. But Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, who is Netanyahu’s ‘Arab puppet’, asserted that Yair Netanyahu was “just a kid playing on Facebook.“

Yair Netanyahu’s meme is an example of how Zionism brings anti-Semitism full circle (as I wrote last year). And when it does that, many distance themselves, temporarily, because it looks bad.

But what if it’s not temporary? What if Zionism is, indeed the embodiment of fascist ultra-nationalism, and is racist at its very core? This would mean that it is also, inherently, anti-Semitic, because it would turn against Jews for being Jews – if they do not toe the ultra-nationalist line. These would be “the wrong kind of Jews”, as Zionist leader (and later Israeli President) Chaim Weizmann said to Lord Balfour. The same Chaim Weizmann who met with Mussolini four times between 1923 and 1934.

Understanding that Israel is enacting Apartheid is not a very complicated conclusion nowadays. To understand that this Apartheid is part and parcel of the basic Zionist ideology informing it can be a bit harder, but it’s a logical step to make. Again, Israel does not have to copy South African Apartheid for the crime of Apartheid to be enacted, as was cogently and meticulously documented in this year’s UN commissioned report on Israeli Apartheid by professors Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley.

Likewise, Israel doesn’t have to copy Italian Fascism precisely for Zionism to be regarded as a fascist ideology. Alpher’s appraisal of Shaked’s words are actually an appraisal of Zionism, with its revolutionary, ultra-nationalist notions. And Levy says that Shaked is actually telling the truth about Zionism.

So the plot thickens, the net tightens. And for those who follow the logic of this, the question is really reduced to: Do you want to support a fascist ideology?




Saturday, September 9, 2017

WHY WHITE NATIONALISTS LOVE BASHAR AL-ASSAD


Mariam Elba
September 8 2017, 11:54 a.m.
IT SHOULDN’T BE surprising that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has become an idol among white nationalists in the United States.

During the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally several weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, Baked Alaska, an infamous far-right YouTuber, livestreamed an encounter with a demonstrator wearing a T-shirt that read “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.” The shirt alluded to the Assad regime’s frequent, horrific use of barrel bombs — weapons employed to indiscriminately target rebel-held areas of Syria.

That rally-goer shouted, “Support the Syrian Arab Army!” and “Assad did nothing wrong!” They gloated over how Assad can “solve this whole ISIS problem” with just two chemical bombs. James Fields, the 20-year-old white supremacist who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, posted a portrait of Assad, in military regalia and aviator sunglasses to Facebook. A superimposed caption read: “UNDEFEATED.”

There’s a simple explanation for how the American far-right became curiously infatuated with the Arab totalitarian leader: Their hearts were won over by the Assad family’s years-old propaganda campaign at home in Syria. Assad’s authoritarianism uses the same buzzwords as the far-right to describe the society he’s trying to build in his own country — a pure, monolithic society of devotees to his own power. American neo-Nazis see Assad as a hero.

As the chaos of Charlottesville and its aftermath was unfolding, Assad addressed a group of diplomats in Damascus about the ongoing war in Syria. “We lost many of our youth and infrastructure,” he said, “but we gained a healthier and more homogenous society.”

Whereas white nationalists aim to create a healthy and homogeneous society through racial purity, for Assad it means a society free of any kind of political dissent, excluding any Syrian living outside the territory his regime controls. Anyone who does not fit Assad’s specific definition of what it means to be Syrian is up for execution.

Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer of geography at Portland State University and author of the new book, “Against the Fascist Creep,” said Assad is a figure that is central to a realization of “Eurasianism.” The notion “holds that Russia will lead the world out of a dark age of materialism and toward an ultranationalist rebirth of homogenous ethno-states federated under a heterogeneous spiritual empire,” Reid Ross said.

In other words, the Assad dynasty, with the strong backing of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian state in Russia, is the Middle East’s leading force toward creating a society that is spiritually, socially, and politically “pure.” Cosmopolitanism, with diversity in political thought and social identity, is an obstacle for those aiming to realize this vision.

Assad is a key figure in confirming the white nationalist worldview. “Holding on to Syria,” Reid Ross said, “marks for them a crucial foothold in a larger geopolitical mission — one that has everything to do with that spiritual purity associated with family, tradition, and nation.” To the far right, Assad is at the front lines in the fight against the Islamic State and, more broadly, the forces of “Islamic terrorism” in the Middle East under a nationalist banner that looks very much like their own.

And the admiration doesn’t run in only one direction. The Assad regime has cultivated relationships with far-right white nationalists for decades. One of these was allegedly Alois Brunner, who actually died in Damascus in 2010. There is reason to believe that Brunner advised Bashar’s father Hafez al-Assad on torture techniques used in Syria’s infamous prison system, even as the regime has denied ever harboring Bruner.

Syrian children hold portraits of President Bashar al-Assad during a gathering in support the ruling Baath party at a school in the government-held side of the northern city of Aleppo on November 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian children hold portraits of President Bashar al-Assad during a gathering in support of the ruling Ba’ath party at a school in the government-held side of the northern city of Aleppo on Nov. 17, 2014. Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
IN SPITE OF the Assad regime’s track record of being the primary perpetrators of escalating Syria’s civil war — which has likely left half a million dead and spurred a massive exodus of refugees — the United Nations, the United States, and certainly Russia are all looking for solutions to the Syrian crisis that keep Assad in power. Assad’s relationship-building and connections with fringe politicians in the West has contributed to creating international legitimacy for his continued rule, as well as fueling a propaganda machine that paints the dictator as one of the final Arab leaders standing up against American imperialism and “Islamic extremism.”

Radwan Ziadeh, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and a prolific, longtime Syrian dissident, said that the Assad dynasty’s central strategy in forging international legitimacy was to cultivate an image as a guardian of Christians in Syria and the wider region.

This mythos he built around himself has worked well in garnering support for the Assad family from outside Syria. Aside from Brunner and other Nazis taking shelter in Syria, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke visited Damascus in 2005, addressing a “demonstration” in support of Assad’s fight against Zionism, propping up Assad’s image as an anti-imperialist. (Palestinian refugees within Syria have suffered greatly under Assad’s sieges.)

Even more recently, as journalist Alex Rowell recently pointed out, far-right politicians from the French National Front, Golden Dawn in Greece, and Vlaams Belang in Belgium, among many others, met with Syrian government officials in Damascus over the past few years. The meetings came as the regime began to gain momentum against opposition forces with the help of Russian military intervention and support.

The Ba’ath Party, a multi-national party which was led by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al-Assad in Syria, held meetings with international far-right parties. The Iraqi Ba’ath Party met with the National Front in France and Die Republikaner in Germany, both far-right parties in the E.U., according to Reid Ross. “The radical right and fascists see them as nationalists like them,” he told The Intercept.

Though Assad has also won some support from international political forces on the left, Reid Ross argued that the support from the right is crucial to Assad’s success. “The most important international support for Assad stems from a white supremacist base and a white supremacist administration in the U.S.,” he said.

Assad’s vision of creating a “healthy” and “homogenous” society is what white nationalists have aspired to create for themselves. We don’t need to look as far back as Hitler’s Third Reich to see what their world vision could be. We only need to look at Syria today.

“He destroyed Syria,” Ziadeh said. “The population of Syria dropped before 2011 from 23 million people to into 17 million and you have millions displaced inside the country. It’s a country in ruin.” What’s left, Assad hopes, is a society that uniformly supports his rule.

Correction: Sept. 8, 2017, 2:36 p.m.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the death toll of the Syrian civil war as being in the millions. Around half a million people have died in the war.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Roger Waters: Congress Shouldn’t Silence Human Rights Advocates


By ROGER WATERS
September 7, 2017
Op-Ed Contributor

Members of Congress are currently considering a bill that threatens to silence the growing support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian freedom and human rights, known as B.D.S. This draconian bill, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, threatens individuals and businesses who actively participate in boycott campaigns in support of Palestinian rights conducted by international governmental organizations with up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

By endorsing this McCarthyite bill, senators would take away Americans’ First Amendment rights in order to protect Israel from nonviolent pressure to end its 50-year-old occupation of Palestinian territory and other abuses of Palestinian rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the bill, which the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is lobbying for, as a threat to the constitutional right to free speech.

All Americans — regardless of their views on Israel-Palestine — should understand that potentially targeting and blacklisting fellow citizens who support Palestinian rights could turn out to be the thin end of a thick authoritarian wedge.

This is not new. Some two dozen anti-B.D.S. bills have been introduced in Congress and state legislatures across the country as part of an insidious effort to silence supporters of Palestinian human rights — some have already passed. In most cases, these bills bar states and the federal government from doing business with, or investing in, companies that abide by boycott or divestment campaigns related to Israel’s violations of international law. None of these laws has been tested in court yet.

This criminalization of support for B.D.S. in the United States mirrors similar efforts in Israel. In 2011, the Knesset passed a law that permits Israeli citizens or organizations who publicly endorse B.D.S. to be sued by anyone who has been affected by the boycott call. And earlier this year, it passed a law that allows Israel to deny entry to foreigners who have publicly supported boycotts. It was under this law that Alissa Wise, an American rabbi who was part of an interfaith delegation to the Holy Land, was recently prevented from boarding a flight to Tel Aviv.

Criminalizing boycotts is un-American and anti-democratic. Boycotts have always been accepted as a legitimate form of nonviolent protest in the United States. In 1955 and 1956, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., incited by the protest of Rosa Parks and others, became one of the foremost civil rights struggles against segregation in the South.

More recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association refused to hold championship events in North Carolina after state legislators there passed a law that curbed legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and set discriminatory rules regarding transgender bathroom use in public buildings. Numerous artists, including Bruce Springsteen, refused to perform in the state; major corporations canceled investments in North Carolina. The voice of boycott in support of civil rights was heard and the bill was repealed, albeit as part of a problematic compromise.

In these cases, progressives lauded these boycotters as champions of equality. So why do national lawmakers — including supposedly progressive Democrats — want to make an exception for those who support equal rights for Palestinians?

When the cause is just, boycott has shown itself to be an effective method of shining light on human rights abuses and the flouting of international law. That is why the Israeli government and its supporters are so determined to silence those who support B.D.S.


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Pro-Israel groups have for years attempted to demonize supporters of B.D.S. — trust me, I know. I am currently in the middle of a 63-date tour of the United States and Canada. Audiences of tens of thousands are coming together at our “Us + Them” shows, which embrace love, compassion, cooperation and coexistence and encourage resistance to authoritarianism and proto-fascism. These appearances have been greeted by a few sporadic protests by right-wing supporters of Israel.

These protests would be of no consequence, if they did not occasionally have truly negative consequences. For instance, the city of Miami Beach prevented a group of school children from appearing onstage with me after pressure from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. I understand that city officials have a democratic right to disagree with my opinions, but I was shocked that they were willing to take it out on kids.

These attacks are routine and relatively minor. But the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is serious “lawfare.” Officials in Nassau County in Long Island are threatening to take legal action to shut down two shows I have scheduled there next week, using a local anti-B.D.S. law passed in 2016. If the Nassau County attorney proceeds against the operators of the Nassau Coliseum, we will have our day in court and argue on behalf of all those who believe in universal human rights and the First Amendment.

Polls show that nearly half of all Americans, and a majority of Democrats, would support sanctions against Israel because of its construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Indeed, more and more churches, student groups, artists, academics and labor organizations are backing the tactics of boycott and divestment as a means to pressure Israel to end its abuses of Palestinians. If passed, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act could put them all, from archbishops to altar boys, artists to artisans, at risk of arrest on felony charges.

Those who are attempting to silence me understand the power of art and culture. They know the role artists played in the civil rights struggle in the United States and against apartheid in South Africa. They want to make an example of us to discourage others from speaking out.

Instead of working to undermine B.D.S., Congress should defend the First Amendment right of all Americans and stand on the right side of history by supporting equal civil and human rights for all people, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/opinion/roger-waters-congress-silencing-advocates.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Zionist Tango

Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left

Gideon Levy Sep 03, 2017 1:22 PM
 from Haaretz

Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism. 
They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

That’s why I prefer Shaked. With her, what you see is what you get – racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.
The occupation was no less cruel under left-wing Israeli governments, which was the founding father of the settlement enterprise. Those princes of peace  Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin established more settlements than Shaked and caused the deaths of more Arabs. The left has enthusiastically defended every military action Israel has carried out and every brutal act committed by the Israel Defense Forces. It hasn’t just sat silent in the face of such acts; it has been supportive. Always.

Operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge in Gaza (in 2008-09 and 2014, respectively) involved thousands of senseless deaths, and most of the Zionist left supported them. The majority of those on the left supported the siege on Gaza, the checkpoint executions, the nighttime abductions, the administrative detentions, the abuse, dispossession and oppression – the left remained silent throughout. 

But the truth is that it’s not Shaked and it’s not the left. It’s Zionism. Havoc has been wreaked, as Hecht herself wrote. But instead of trying to repair the unstable foundations, all of Israel – and not only the right wing – has done everything to undermine them even further. 
Yes, this involves the 1948 War of Independence, which has to be discussed even though it’s uncomfortable. The spirit of 1948 has never stopped blowing here and, in this respect, Shaked and Hecht are in the same boat. According to this view, there is only one people here that needs to be considered, only one victim, and it is entitled to do as much harm as it wishes to the other people. That is the essential evolution of Zionism. 
It could and should have been rectified, without derogating the Jews’ right to a state. But the Zionist left has never done this. It has never acknowledged the Nakba suffered by the Palestinians, and never did anything to atone for its crimes. This never happened because the Zionist left believes in exactly what Shaked believes in.
It is true there are many other issues in which the right causes national disasters the left never would have created. But on the other side of the line lives a people that for the past 50 years – the past 100, actually – has been suffering and oppressed. Not a day goes by without horrible crimes being committed against it. We can’t say, “Be patient. We’re busy at the moment with the status of the Supreme Court.”
And on the truly crucial issue that overshadows all others, Shaked and Hecht are performing a perfect tango together, with a fragrance of true love exuding from them both – a Zionist tango.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.810226?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=opinion/.premium-1.810226&utm_campaign=Gideon+Levy&utm_term=20170903-02:28&writerAlerts=true

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Despite Trump: What is and What isn’t—Charlottesville to Boston

30 Aug 2017

Despite Trump: What is and What isn’t—Charlottesville to BostonPosted in Guest Commentaries By almariam On August 30, 2017
Guest Commentary: August Nimtz

Watching the images from Boston on August 19, and reading the reports I couldn’t help but think about how much has changed in the U.S. despite Trump. In April 1976, a major battle took place there when racist gangs sought to obstruct court-ordered school busing, groups that were far larger in number than any of the crowds who’ve been emboldened by the Trump election. Boston attracted national attention not unlike Charlottesville. But unlike almost all of the present crowds— except for one in Charlottesville whose main perpetrator is now being prosecuted —the ones in Boston, without any prompting from White Supremacists like the KKK, actually pursued bodily harm against Black people, especially the Black students on the buses.

Actor Mark Wahlberg, who grew up in Boston in the immediate aftermath of that period has long apologized for having been seduced by that ethos into actually committing vicious racist acts—evidence of how pervasive the climate was in the city and environs. The iconic image is a bunch of angry racists attacking a Black businessman in a three-piece suit, who had nothing to do with busing, with a long pole to which an American flag was attached.

It was the perfect propaganda image for those of us who mobilized nationally to defend the Black youth on the buses. We used that photo in all of our advertising for building one of the largest marches in the city’s history. Though not as large as Saturday’s August 19 action, which attracted somewhere between thirty and forty thousand and, thus, dwarfing the fifty to one hundred who stood behind police cordons exercising their right to “free speech,” it was a decisive moment in Boston’s racial politics. It, along with other advances for racial equality in subsequent decades, go a long way in explaining why so many in Boston and environs would come out in such numbers in opposition to what had once been unapologetically displayed on its own streets only a few decades earlier.

To make sure that we could attract the largest number of participants, we not only advertised our march as being a peaceful response to the violent racist gangs but we actually organized ourselves to make sure that our protest remained peaceful. Unbeknownst to me the high school aged daughter of a very influential senior colleague in my department wanted to attend the march. Her parents said she could if, first, she’d be one of the passengers in my car, and, second, that I assure them that she’d be safe. As a still untenured member in the department I had a personal stake in making sure the protest remained peaceful.

The march against the racist forces was organized by a coalition of organizations, one of which was the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) to which I belonged. Not every organization in the coalition was on board with the march being peaceful though the majority voted for that position. Based on prior experience, the SWP organized a contingent in the march to closely monitor any forces who might want to break discipline and physically engage the racists. I was assigned by the party to the contingent. Sure enough, a group of what we call in the movement the ultra-leftists tried to divert the march from the agreed upon course into a confrontation with the racists. Our task was to prevent that from occurring. To do so, we cut the cord of their bull horn once they began employing it, thus, preventing them from doing their confrontational thing. Had violence occurred, triggered by the ultra-leftists, it would have been not only disruptive but could have also endangered people who attended the march believing it would be a peaceful.

In 1980, another tragedy occurred in Greensboro, NC. Four members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) were brutally murdered (one seriously wounded who I knew) by the KKK after appearing to want to confront the racists with guns. An all-white jury refused to convict the Klan members who committed the murders. Of course, we and other progressive forces denounced the blatant jury nullification though we vehemently disagreed with the CWP’s needless provocation. The idea that a small group of people, however courageous, can beat back entrenched racist and other reactionary forces flies in the face of what history teaches.

Another example of how much has changed in the U.S. is that of Heather Heyer who was run over by the 20 year-old white supremacist driver, James Alex Fields, in Charlottesville. Heather wasn’t a northern liberal but a young Caucasian woman from Charlottesville, and, without a college degree—as many liberals are so want to point out about Trump supporters. And listening to her mother’s pride about her daughter in her very Virginia working class accent brought home the power of Heather’s example and what it registers; which makes her death all the more tragic.

Unfortunately, Heather was a member of one of the organizations, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which tend to look for confrontation with the racists and the police. I speak from personal experience when I say this. We had to put IWW members on a short leash when we had our Rodney King demonstration in Minneapolis in 1992 (one of whose key organizers, by the way, before he left the streets for the suites, was the young Keith Ellison, now congressman and Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee). They hated the fact that we prevented them from trashing downtown stores as we were marching, 5000-plus strong, in one of the largest demonstrations ever seen in Minneapolis. It is true, we have to admit, that there are indeed individuals and grouplets on the left who do engage in violence and rely on confrontation as their mode of operation. Not only is such conduct dangerous for their own members and those who want to participate in peaceful protests but it also enables agent provocateurs, that is, those on the payroll of the police who seek to discredit progressive movements (such as what happened with the protests against the Republican National Convention when it met in St. Paul in 2008).

Lastly, the most obvious example of the depths of the changes in the U.S.: Who would have believed on November 9, 2016, that more Confederacy monuments would be torn down during a Donald Trump presidency than during any other presidency? I confess that I never expected to see in my lifetime the Robert E. Lee monument in New Orleans removed where I walked and rode by so many times.

As the renowned historian of Reconstruction Eric Foner puts it in his recent NYT essay: “Historical monuments are, among other things, an expression of power—an indication of who has the power to choose how history is remembered in public places.” David Duke and his ilk can’t prevent the removal of the monuments despite all their fawning before Trump. The massive largely proletarian-composed mobilizations of the sixties known as the Civil Rights Movement rendered them impotent. Steven Bannon is right in his characterization of them. “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more. These guys are a collection of clowns.” And they should never be confused with Trump’s hard core base. Bannon knows who that base is and would never have used such language about them.

The first protest action, by the way, I ever helped to organize, in spring 1964, against the sentencing of Nelson Mandela, took place in front of the White House. Within an hour—I can’t remember exactly—we were greeted with a counter protest by the American Nazi Party and its leader George Lincoln Rockwell. We never felt threatened in any way by their small picket line. As I think about it now, I wonder how they heard we were there. Did someone—I ask almost tongue in cheek—in the Lyndon Johnson White House let them know?

There will indeed be a real fascist movement one day in the U.S.; but only when the ruling class feels threatened by its working class which, we have to admit, is not the case today. It will have to be a situation not unlike what Germany’s ruling class faced in the 1930’s when it decided to ‘send in the clowns’—a totally virulent variety. Until then it’s a serious political mistake to think as some do that fascism is now knocking on the door since November 8, 2016. To do so is to concede unnecessarily to reaction and to ignore the opportunities to do mass work.

I emphasize the glass half full side of the story without in the least ignoring the fact the glass is also half empty. I do because it’s the profound changes I’m highlighting that will be the necessary ingredients in forging the kind of effort to address the half-empty side of the story. It’s not rocket science to recognize that as long as capitalism is in place, there can be no racial equality. Capitalism like all previous class societies is fundamentally incompatible with social equality. And the failure of the struggle for racial equality in its first and second Reconstruction editions is sobering testimony to capitalism’s continuing grip on social reality. I contend that this claim is not unlike what MLK was saying in the last year of his life exactly fifty years ago. I’m referring to his epiphany, in the aftermath of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that for there to be racial equality in the U.S. “there would have to be a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” For that to happen there will have to be a mass multi-racial, multi-national, multi-gendered working class movement.

My basic claim is that owing to the profound changes that have taken place in the U.S. over the last half-century, our side, progressive-minded forces, is in a better position today to realize such a goal than we’ve ever been in the entire history of the country. I’m not claiming, of course, that such a mass working class movement in all its skin colors, nationalities and genders is inevitable but only that we’re in a better position today than ever to construct one. The Boston demonstration, the example of Heather Heyer, and the removal of the monuments are simply the most recent evidence of the kinds of opportunities progressive forces have today that have never existed before. And it behooves us to not only recognize but to act on that reality and not merely be passive spectators.

August Nimtz is a professor of political science and African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Ugly Side of Antifa


by Leighton Woodhouse | Aug 28, 2017 | Uncategorized |
The Ugly Side of Antifa
Y esterday, at the anti-Alt-Right rally in Berkeley, I watched groups of masked Antifa members in Black Bloc formation swarm individuals who were apparently antagonizing them, and pummel them with their fists, feet, and flagpoles. When the victims tried to escape, they were run down, and in at least one case, cut off by the Antifa mob and beaten down some more. In the incidents I witnessed, about 5 or 6 Antifa members at a time participated in the attacks, while perhaps 100 others stood behind them, forming an impenetrable wall that blocked bystanders from intervening, or documenting the violence on camera. Those people would also help chase the victims when they fled.
In one case, as a crowd of non-Black Bloc protesters yelled at the assailants to let their victim go, an Antifa activist yelled, “He’s a Nazi!” over and over again, justifying the assault. Then, abruptly, maybe after realizing that the victim was not, in fact, a white nationalist, he changed his mantra. “He doesn’t have to be a Nazi!” he now shouted. The suggestion was that even if the victim wasn’t a fascist, he still deserved to be beaten. For what was unclear. Maybe because he supported Trump? Or he objected to Antifa’s tactics? Or refused to do something they ordered him to do? Who knew? The only thing those of us watching from a few yards away could tell was that a man, by himself, was on the ground, with a bloodied face, covering his head with his arms, being kicked and punched by a group of masked people, who were shielded by dozens of their comrades. My guess is that a lot of the Antifa people in the crowd who were passively assisting in the violence, including the guy yelling that he was a Nazi, didn’t know anything more than that, either.
Last week, Mark Bray, a historian of Antifa, said on Trumpcast, Slate’s podcast on all things Trump, that Antifa members are “some of the most caring and compassionate people I’ve met.” I just finished directing a short documentary about the online origins of the Alt Right, for which we interviewed several Antifa members, and I can affirm his depiction. To a person, our interviewees cared deeply about egalitarianism and anti-racism, and spent much of their day-to-day lives either working professionally or volunteering for organizations and in activist groups that fought for the social and economic rights of the disenfranchised. They gave eloquent and persuasive explanations for why fascism must be confronted head-on, with tactics up to and including violence.
But parsing out the nuances of moral justifications for violence in a quiet room somewhere is an entirely different thing than standing in a park with a mask on and a flag in your hand, with hundreds of your comrades, and making snap decisions about whose ass to beat and whose not to. Or whether to back up your comrades when they start beating someone up, when you have no idea how the altercation even began, or who the victim is. Or whether to go online afterwards and claim that everyone who got beat deserved it because they were all Nazis.
What happened in practice in Berkeley yesterday was that anybody who challenged the Black Bloc made themselves a target, whether they were a white supremacist looking to stir shit up (and there were maybe five or six of those in a crowd of thousands), or a liberal who yelled their disapproval at their tactics, or a reporter taking pictures after being commanded to stop. If you pissed someone in the Black Bloc off, and someone came after you, the rest of the bloc followed. Suddenly you were facing a hostile mob, the time for arguing your case expired, literally fearing for your life.
I was at the protest with a film crew, working on a documentary. We were in a public park. It was a big news event, where everybody knew there would be media. Activists in the Black Bloc were concealed by sunglasses and ski masks to protect their identity for exactly this reason. They carried flags and banners, to make themselves a spectacle. Yet for their personal security, many of them decided that it was their right to command photographers not to take their pictures, to physically block them from doing so, and if they persisted, to smash their equipment and assault them. That’s what apparently happened to the guy who the Antifa member kept calling a “Nazi,” until he changed his mind. One of my filmmaking partners and I got pushed around by Antifa, too. We were targets because we had cameras. The only reason we didn’t get administered a beat down is because when we were ordered (not asked) to point our cameras elsewhere, we only pushed our right to film them so far. Had we pushed it a bit farther, we probably would have ended up with some smashed equipment and black eyes.
There was a moment of triumph during the demonstration, before all the violence began, when just after facing what looked like the beginning of a confrontation with the Black Bloc, the police line that surrounded the park retreated, the checkpoints into the park, where police were searching bags for contraband, were taken down, and everybody outside of the perimeter flooded onto the field. Following upon the unambiguous victory over the Alt Right in San Francisco the prior day, it should have been the capstone of the weekend. The Alt Right had surrendered; the people had taken their public space back from both the “fascists” and the police. But it probably hadn’t been an hour before that feeling dissipated entirely. Soon, it was Antifa, instead of the police, who were occupying the park. The rest of the crowd, who many of the masked radicals probably disdained as wimpy, bourgeois liberals, shrank from the violence that had begun to overtake the scene, as well as the yelling and the physical domination and the general sense of schoolyard bullying emanating from the massive Black Bloc. At one point I turned around and all I could see was Antifa. They had spread throughout the park, and everybody else had gone home.
When you criticize Antifa members or their defenders for the tactic of mob violence, the reflexive response is usually something like, “There are literal Nazis marching in the streets, and you’re attacking us over your precious little non-violence principles?” But Antifa doesn’t have a monopoly over concern for what’s happening in this country. They’re no more woke than the squishy liberals who showed up to protest with their signs and their voices and not with their fists. The revulsion to violence on the part of most people on the left, from liberal to radical, is not born of naïveté over the scale of the right-wing threat. It’s the expression of basic moral principle, as well as a pragmatic political understanding that random mob violence by masked vigilates on the left isn’t going to defeat the Alt Right. In the Bay Area this weekend, the Alt Right was already defeated. All Antifa did was transform that message of people-powered victory into a cascade of headlines bolstering Trump’s “both sides” talking point.
The revulsion to Antifa’s violence is also an indication of the paucity of trust Antifa has established with much of the wider, non-activist world. People want the white nationalist movement smashed into dust; that’s why they’re showing up by the thousands and the tens of thousands to protests against the Alt Right. That doesn’t mean they want to hand leadership over to a subcultural vanguardist movement that barks at them from behind masks and shields and threatens to beat those who disagree with them into submission.
Most Antifa members are anarchists. It was an ironic thing to see these anti-authoritarian, anti-government activists essentially acting as a de facto state on that little quarter acre of lawn, ordering photographers around, deciding who could be in the park and who couldn’t, responding to dissent — even from liberals — with physical confrontation, and dishing out violence on whoever they decided deserved it, whether they were a “Nazi,” a non-compliant liberal protester, or a reporter with a camera. It was a bleak alternative to the far right dystopia we face under Trump. It was much more like the last days of the Occupy movement than like the first. It was dark, it was scary, and it was ugly.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How ‘Antifa’ Mirrors the ‘Alt-Right’

Like the Aviva Chomsky post, Hedges hits the nail on the head. Its very good and very important. What's so impressive is that it is also very, very POLITICAL. The politically illiterate and holier than thou moralists who fixate on stopping the racist right's rallies are suckers responding to sucker-bait. I usually find Hedges a bit too moralistic, but this article is very hard headed and realistic. --RC



from Truthdig

Chris Hedges. Aug 27, 2017

Behind the rhetoric of the “alt-right” about white nativism and protecting American traditions, history and Christian values is the lust for violence. Behind the rhetoric of antifa, the Black Blocand the so-called “alt-left” about capitalism, racism, state repression and corporate power is the same lust for violence.

The two opposing groups, largely made up of people who have been cast aside by the cruelty of corporate capitalism, have embraced holy war. Their lives, battered by economic misery and social marginalization, have suddenly been filled with meaning. They hold themselves up as the vanguard of the oppressed. They arrogate to themselves the right to use force to silence those they define as the enemy. They sanctify anger. They are infected with the dark, adrenaline-driven lust for confrontation that arises among the disenfranchised when a democracy ceases to function. They are separated, as Sigmund Freud wrote of those who engage in fratricide, by the “narcissism of minor differences.” They mirror each other, not only ideologically but also physically—armed and dressed in black, the color of fascism and the color of death.

It was inevitable that we would reach this point. The corporate state has seized and corrupted all democratic institutions, including the two main political parties, to serve the interests of corporate power and maximize global corporate profits. There is no justice in the courts. There is no possibility for reform in the legislative bodies. The executive branch is a dysfunctional mess headed by a narcissistic kleptocrat, con artist and pathological liar. Money has replaced the vote. The consent of the governed is a joke. Our most basic constitutional rights, including the right to privacy and due process, have been taken from us by judicial fiat. The economically marginalized, now a majority of the country, have been rendered invisible by a corporate media dominated by highly paid courtiers spewing out meaningless political and celebrity gossip and trivia as if it were news. The corporate state, unimpeded, is pillaging and looting the carcass of the country and government, along with the natural world, for the personal gain of the 1 percent. It daily locks away in cages the poor, especially poor people of color, discarding the vulnerable as human refuse.

A government that is paralyzed and unable and unwilling to address the rudimentary needs of its citizens, as I saw in the former Yugoslavia and as history has shown with the Weimar Republicor czarist Russia, eventually empowers violent extremists. Economic and social marginalization is the lifeblood of extremist groups. Without it they wither and die. Extremism, as the social critic Christopher Lasch wrote, is “a refuge from the terrors of inner life.”

Germany’s Nazi stormtroopershad their counterparts in that nation’s communist Alliance of Red Front Fighters. The far-right anti-communist death squad Alliance of Argentina had its counterpart in the armed guerrilla group the People’s Revolutionary Army during the “Dirty War.” The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels during the war I covered in El Salvador had their counterparts in the right-wing death squads, whose eventual demise seriously impeded the FMLN’s ability to recruit. The Serbian nationalists, or Chetniks, in Yugoslavia had their counterparts in the Croatian nationalists, or Ustaše. The killing by one side justifies the killing by the other. And the killing is always sanctified in the name of each side’s martyrs.

The violence by antifa—short for anti-fascist or anti-fascist action—in Charlottesville, Va., saw a surge in interest and support for the movement, especially after the murder of Heather Heyer. The Black Bloc was applauded by some of the counterprotesters in Boston during an alt-right rally there Aug. 19. In Charlottesville, antifa activists filled the vacuum left by a passive police force, holding off neo-Nazi thugs who threatened Cornel West and clergy who were protesting against the white nationalist event. This was a propaganda coup for antifa, which seeks to portray its use of violence as legitimate self-defense. Protecting West and the clergy members from physical assault was admirable. But this single act no more legitimizes antifa violence than the turkeys, Christmas gifts and Fourth of July fireworks that John Gotti gave to his neighbors legitimized the violence of the Gambino crime family. Antifa, like the alt-right, is the product of a diseased society.

The white racists and neo-Nazis may be unsavory, but they too are victims. They too lost jobs and often live in poverty in deindustrialized wastelands. They too often are plagued by debt, foreclosures, bank repossessions and inability to repay student loans. They too often suffer from evictions, opioid addictions, domestic violence and despair. They too face bankruptcy because of medical bills. They too have seen social services gutted, public education degraded and privatized and the infrastructure around them decay. They too often suffer from police abuse and mass incarceration. They too are often in despair and suffer from hopelessness. And they too have the right to free speech, however repugnant their views.

Street clashes do not distress the ruling elites. These clashes divide the underclass. They divert activists from threatening the actual structures of power. They give the corporate state the ammunition to impose harsher forms of control and expand the powers of internal security. When antifa assumes the right to curtail free speech it becomes a weapon in the hands of its enemies to take that freedom away from everyone, especially the anti-capitalists.

The focus on street violence diverts activists from the far less glamorous building of relationships and alternative institutions and community organizing that alone will make effective resistance possible. We will defeat the corporate state only when we take back and empower our communities, as is happening with Cooperation Jackson, a grass-roots cooperative movement in Jackson, Miss. As long as acts of resistance are forms of personal catharsis, the corporate state is secure. Indeed, the corporate state welcomes this violence because violence is a language it can speak with a proficiency and ruthlessness that none of these groups can match.

“Politics isn’t made of individuals,” Sophia Burns writes in “Catharsis Is Counter-Revolutionary.” “It’s made of classes. Political change doesn’t come from feeling individually validated. It comes from collective action and organization within the working class. That means creating new institutions that meet our needs and defend against oppression.”

The protests by the radical left now sweeping America, as Aviva Chomsky points out, are too often little more than self-advertisements for moral purity. They are products of a social media culture in which we all are the stars of our own life movie. They are infected with the American belief in regeneration through violence and the cult of the gun. They represent a clash between the bankruptcy of identity politics, which produced, as Dr. West has said, a president who was “a black mascot for Wall Street,” and the bankruptcy of a white, Christianized fascism that produced Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

“Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness,” Chomsky writes in “How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence.” “They may boycott certain products, refuse to eat certain foods, or they may show up to marches or rallies whose only purpose is to demonstrate the moral superiority of the participants. White people may loudly claim that they recognize their privilege or declare themselves allies of people of color or other marginalized groups. People may declare their communities ‘no place for hate.’ Or they may show up at counter-marches to ‘stand up’ to white nationalists or neo-Nazis. All of these types of ‘activism’ emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy. They are deeply, and deliberately, apolitical in the sense that they do not seek to address issues of power, resources, decision making, or how to bring about change.”

The corporate state seeks to discredit and shut down the anti-capitalist left. Its natural allies are the neo-Nazis and the Christian fascists. The alt-right is bankrolled, after all, by the most retrograde forces in American capitalism. It has huge media platforms. It has placed its ideologues and sympathizers in positions of power, including in law enforcement and the military. And it has carried out acts of domestic terrorism that dwarf anything carried out by the left. White supremacists were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2006 to 2016, far more than any other extremist group, according to a report issued in May by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. There is no moral equivalency between antifa and the alt-right. But by brawling in the streets antifa allows the corporate state, which is terrified of a popular anti-capitalist uprising, to use the false argument of moral equivalency to criminalize the work of all anti-capitalists.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center states categorically in its pamphlet “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” “Do not attend a hate rally.”

“Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something,” it recommends. “Hold a unity rally or parade to draw media attention away from hate. Hate has a First Amendment right. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutional right of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups to hold rallies and say whatever they want. Communities can restrict group movements to avoid conflicts with other citizens, but hate rallies will continue. Your efforts should focus on channeling people away from hate rallies.”

The Nazis were as unsavory to the German political and economic elites as Donald Trump is to most Americans who hold power or influence. But the German elites chose to work with the fascists, whom they naively thought they could control, rather than risk a destruction of capitalism. Street brawls, actively sought out by the Nazis, always furthered the interests of the fascists, who promised to restore law and order and protect traditional values. The violence contributed to their mystique and the yearning among the public for a strongman who would impose stability.

Historian Laurie Marhoefer writes:

Violent confrontations with antifascists gave the Nazis a chance to paint themselves as the victims of a pugnacious, lawless left. They seized it.

It worked. We know now that many Germans supported the fascists because they were terrified of leftist violence in the streets. Germans opened their morning newspapers and saw reports of clashes like the one in Wedding [a Berlin neighborhood]. It looked like a bloody tide of civil war was rising in their cities. Voters and opposition politicians alike came to believe the government needed special police powers to stop violent leftists. Dictatorship grew attractive. The fact that the Nazis themselves were fomenting the violence didn’t seem to matter.

One of Hitler’s biggest steps to dictatorial power was to gain emergency police powers, which he claimed he needed to suppress leftist violence.

What took place in Charlottesville, like what took place in February when antifa and Black Bloc protesters thwarted UC Berkeley’s attempt to host the crypto-fascist Milo Yiannopoulos, was political theater. It was about giving self-styled radicals a stage. It was about elevating their self-image. It was about appearing heroic. It was about replacing personal alienation with comradeship and solidarity. Most important, it was about the ability to project fear. This newfound power is exciting and intoxicating. It is also very dangerous. Many of those in Charlottesville on the left and the right were carrying weapons. A neo-Nazi fired a round from a pistol in the direction of a counterprotester. The neo-Nazis were often carrying AR-15 rifles and wearing quasi-military uniforms and helmets that made them blend in with police and state security. There could easily have been a bloodbath. A march held in Sacramento, Calif., in June 2016 by the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party to protest attacks at Trump rallies ended with a number of people stabbed. Police accused counterprotesters of initiating the violence. It is a short series of steps from bat and ax handles to knives to guns.

The conflict will not end until the followers of the alt-right and the anti-capitalist left are given a living wage and a voice in how we are governed. Take away a person’s dignity, agency and self-esteem and this is what you get. As political power devolves into a more naked form of corporate totalitarianism, as unemployment and underemployment expand, so will extremist groups. They will attract more sympathy and support as the wider population realizes, correctly, that Americans have been stripped of all ability to influence the decisions that affect their lives, lives that are getting steadily worse.

The ecocide by the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries alone makes revolt a moral imperative. The question is how to make it succeed. Taking to the street to fight fascists ensures our defeat. Antifa violence, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, is a “major gift to the right, including the militant right.” It fuels the right wing’s paranoid rants about the white race being persecuted and under attack. And it strips anti-capitalists of their moral capital.

Many in the feckless and bankrupt liberal class, deeply complicit in the corporate assault on the country and embracing the dead end of identity politics, will seek to regain credibility by defending the violence by groups such as antifa. Natasha Lennard, for example, in The Nation calls the “video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face” an act of “kinetic beauty.” She writes “if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation.”

This violence-as-beauty rhetoric is at the core of these movements. It saturates the vocabulary of the right-wing corporate oligarchs, including Donald Trump. Talk like this poisons national discourse. It dehumanizes whole segments of the population. It shuts out those who speak with nuance and compassion, especially when they attempt to explain the motives and conditions of opponents. It thrusts the society into a binary and demented universe of them and us. It elevates violence to the highest aesthetic. It eschews self-criticism and self-reflection. It is the prelude to widespread suffering and death. And that, I fear, is where we are headed.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/antifa-mirrors-alt-right/

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence



Instead of writing something myself, I'm posting this article which perfectly sums up the glaring political deficiencies of too many well intentioned protesters. They forget to think things through politically about how to win over people to our side. RC


Tuesday, August 22, 2017
How (Not) to Challenge Racist Violence

Published on
Monday, August 21, 2017
by Common Dreams

"Protesters are eager to expend extraordinary energy denouncing small-scale racist actors. But what about the large-scale racist actors?"

by Aviva Chomsky


"If we truly want to challenge racism, oppression, and inequality, we should turn our attention away from the few hundred marchers in Charlottesville and towards the real sources and enforcers of our unjust global order. They are not hard to find," Chomsky writes.

As white nationalism and the so-called “alt-Right” have gained prominence in the Trump era, a bipartisan reaction has coalesced to challenge these ideologies. But much of this bipartisan coalition focuses on individual, extreme, and hate-filled mobilizations and rhetoric, rather than the deeper, politer, and apparently more politically acceptable violence that imbues United States foreign and domestic policy in the 21st century.

"If we truly want to challenge racism, oppression, and inequality, we should turn our attention away from the few hundred marchers in Charlottesville and towards the real sources and enforcers of our unjust global order. They are not hard to find."
Everyone from mainstream Republicans to a spectrum of Democrats to corporate executives to “antifa” leftists seems eager and proud to loudly denounce or even physically confront neo-Nazis and white nationalists. But the extremists on the streets of Charlottesville, or making Nazi salutes at the Reichstag, are engaging in only symbolic and individual politics.

Even the murder of a counter-protester was an individual act—one of over 40 murders a day in the United States, the great majority by firearms. (Double that number are killed every day by automobiles in what we call “accidents”—but which obviously have a cause also.) Protesters are eager to expend extraordinary energy denouncing these small-scale racist actors, or celebrating vigilante-style responses. But what about the large-scale racist actors? There has been no comparable mobilization, in fact little mobilization at all, against what Martin Luther King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”—the United States government, which dropped 72 bombs per day in 2016, primarily in Iraq and Syria, but also in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, making every single day 9/11 in those countries.

Historically, people and organizations struggling to change U.S. society and policy have used direct action, boycotts, and street protests as strategies to pressure power holders to change their laws, institutions, policies, or actions. The United Farm Workers called on consumers to boycott grapes in order to pressure specific growers to negotiate with their union. Antiwar protesters marched on Washington or targeted their Congressional representatives. They also took direct action: registering voters, pouring blood on draft records or nuclear weapons, sitting in front of trains carrying weapons to Central America.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

All of these kinds of tactics remain valid options today. But there has been a puzzling shift away from actual goals and towards using these tactics merely to express one’s moral righteousness or “allyship. I remember my first “take back the night” march in Berkeley, in the 1970s. As men and women marched through the campus holding candles, I wondered whether they thought that would-be rapists would undergo a change of heart when they saw that large sectors of the public disapproved of rape?

Over the years I have come to see more and more of what Adolph Reed calls “posing as politics.”Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness. They may boycott certain products, refuse to eat certain foods, or they may show up to marches or rallies whose only purpose is to demonstrate the moral superiority of the participants. White people may loudly claim that they recognize their privilege or declare themselves allies of people of color or other marginalized groups. People may declare their communities “no place for hate.” Or they may show up at counter-marches to “stand up” to white nationalists or neo-Nazis. All of these types of “activism” emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy. They are deeply, and deliberately, apolitical in the sense that they do not seek to address issues of power, resources, decision making, or how to bring about change.

"Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness."

Oddly, these activists who have claimed the mantle of racial justice seem committed to an individualized, apolitical view of race. The diversity industry has become big business, sought out by universities and companies seeking the cachet of inclusivity. Campus diversity offices channel student protest into alliance with the administration and encourage students to think small. While adept in the terminology of power, diversity, inclusion, marginalization, injustice, and equity, they studiously avoid topics like colonialism, capitalism, exploitation, liberation, revolution, invasion, or other actual analyses of domestic or global affairs. Lumping race together in an ever-growing list of marginalized identities allows the history and realities of race to be absorbed into a billiard ball theory of diversity, in which different dehistoricized identities roll around a flat surface, occasionally colliding.

Let us be very clear. The white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, hate-filled and repugnant as their goals may be, are not the ones responsible for the U.S. wars on Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. They are not responsible for turning our public school system over to private corporations. They are not responsible for our separate and unequal health care system that consigns people of color to ill health and early death. They are not the ones foreclosing and evicting people of color from their homes. They are not the authors of neoliberal capitalism with its devastating effects on the poor around the planet. They are not the ones militarizing the borders to enforce global apartheid. They are not behind the extraction and burning of fossil fuels that is destroying the planet, with the poor and people of color the first to lose their homes and livelihoods. If we truly want to challenge racism, oppression, and inequality, we should turn our attention away from the few hundred marchers in Charlottesville and towards the real sources and enforcers of our unjust global order. They are not hard to find.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Richard Spencer Might Be The Worst Person In America. But He Might Also Be Right About Israel

From the Forward

Naomi DannAugust 17, 2017


The images of Nazis and white supremacists marching in the streets of Charlottesville with torches chanting “blood and soil” shook me to my core. But so did something else that happened this week. In the aftermath of these acts of blatant racism and anti-Semitism, one of the march’s leaders, Richard Spencer, was invited onto Israeli TV. His words were chilling, but not for the reason I expected.

The Israeli TV host asked Spencer how he, a Jew, should feel about Spencer’s platform. What Spencer said was shocking:

“As an Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me,” Spencer said. “I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves, just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.” He told the Israeli host that he sees himself as “a white Zionist.”

This isn’t the first time Spencer has compared his disturbing white nationalist vision to the Zionist project. A few months ago, Spencer stunned a rabbi at an event in Texas when he said: “Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel? And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?”

The rabbi didn’t have an answer and he’s not the only one. This is what’s so chilling about Spencer’s comparison of white supremacy to Israel – not its anti-Semitism but the kernel of truth at its core. Richard Spencer, whose racist views are rightfully abhorred by the majority of the Jewish community, is holding a mirror up to Zionism and the reflection isn’t pretty.


Now, of course, the comparison is not literally true. For starters, we Jews have a recent history in which we really could have used a country willing to stand up for us. That’s the historical rationale for establishing a Jewish state and that distinguishes us fundamentally from white nationalists. White nationalists in the U.S. are not facing any kind of discrimination whatsoever, despite their belief that they are.

But still, there are ways in which Spencer’s description of Israel hits a little too close to home.

Looking at Israel today, we can see a state premised on the privileging of one group, and all too often perpetuating the erasure and displacement of another. We also see an obsession with demographics and the maintenance of an ethnic majority.

Then you have the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the state sanctioning of Jewish settlers who seize Palestinian homes in Hebron, and the policy of seizing the property of “present absentees” after Palestinians were displaced during the war to establish the state of Israel are just some examples.

Then there’s the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel (who should ostensibly have the same rights as Jewish Israelis), Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews, and African refugees seeking asylum.

Many of us see these policies as alarming violations of human and civil rights, indeed, of our Jewish values. And the proof is in the pudding: Richard Spencer sees this as inspiration for his white nationalist vision.


But we don’t have to rely on Richard Spencer to tell us that there are other disturbing places of intersection. There is a disturbing alliance between Zionists and white nationalists in the White House these days, and it doesn’t come from nowhere. There is a shared bedrock of anxiety about demographics and racist and Islamophobic fear of “Arabs” that goes hand in hand with both worldviews.

And just like there are fascists marching the streets of America, there are fascists marching the streets of Israel beating up leftists. The alt-right are not the only ones being vile online, either. My friends report that they regularly receive death threats as a consequence of their activism. During the Israeli assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, leftist Israeli friends who opposed the war reported being chased by fascist mobs on the streets of Jerusalem.

Even ex-prime minister Ehud Barak said this week that the events in Charlottesville reminded him of fascism in Israel. He cited the example of Lehava, an anti-miscegenation gang that frequently attacks Palestinians.

Let’s not let Richard Spencer be our mirror. Let’s work instead to challenge ethnic supremacy and right-wing violence, both here and in Israel.

That means taking active steps to oppose Israel’s occupation, working for human and civil rights in Israel, and joining the movement for racial justice in the U.S. as full partners, and challenging the ways our own institutions uphold discrimination.

For too long, Jewish institutions have focused on branding advocates for Palestinian rights, and critics of the state of Israel and Zionism itself, as anti-Semitic – to the detriment of the fights against both antisemitism and racism. The reactionary response from Jewish institutions to the Movement for Black Lives platform is a prime example of how this misguided reaction to criticism of Israel has prevented American Jewish communities from working alongside Black organizers to challenge both anti-Jewish oppression and systematic anti-Black racism.

The most promising solution to anti-Semitism lies in building relationships and coalitions, recognizing how our freedoms are bound up together with those of people who have fewer rights than us, and having those difficult conversations when conflicts arise. It requires challenging the institutions that uphold supremacy, together.

That is the work, and that will, at times, require us to hold up that mirror to ourselves and to our communities. Let’s do it together.

Naomi Dann is media manager at Jewish Voice for Peace.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.
Read more: http://forward.com/opinion/380384/richard-spencer-israel/

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Zionist-white supremacist alliance in Trump’s White House



Ali Abunimah Lobby Watch 15 August 2017


Pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson, center, and his wife Miriam speak with Trump advisor Steve Bannon at the president’s inauguration on 20 January 2017. Brian Snyder Reuters
A much-discussed article in The New York Times about pressure on President Donald Trump to fire his advisor Steve Bannon contains this intriguing sentence:

Mr. Bannon’s ability to hang on as Mr. Trump’s in-house populist is in part because of his connections to a handful of ultrarich political patrons, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the pro-Israel casino magnate who is based in Las Vegas.

As executive chairman of Breitbart News before joining the Trump campaign, Bannon transformed the right-wing outlet into what he described as the “the platform for the alt-right” – the collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and racists who have been the renewed focus of outrage since their violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

Israel’s silence
Bannon is widely viewed as the champion of the white supremacists – some of whom were openly parading with Nazi flags – and the reason why Trump did not explicitly condemn them immediately after one of their number, allegedly James Alex Fields, 20, rammed his car into counterdemonstrators killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring more than a dozen others.

Hence the renewed pressure on Trump to fire Bannon. But if Bannon supports the white supremacist and clearly anti-Semitic far-right, why does he enjoy the backing of Adelson?

The Las Vegas billionaire, as is well known, is a major financier of the US Republican Party and one of the biggest donors to pro-Israel organizations in the United States. Adelson has said he regrets serving in the US army, instead of Israel’s.

He is also a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and that’s where the answer can be found.

Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, have been conspicuously silent about Nazis rampaging in Charlottesville – all the more strange since Israel is usually quick to exploit international events to its advantage. (After three days of silence, Netanyahu finally, on Tuesday, tweeted a general condemnation of “anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism” without specifically mentioning Charlottesville.)

Why is the “Jewish state” apparently so reluctant to speak out against Nazis?

Israel’s anti-Semitic alliances
While Israel purports to be the protector of Jews all over the world, Zionists historically made alliances with the world’s most lethal anti-Semites. Zionists and anti-Semites, after all, shared the analysis that Jews do not belong in Europe, so why not cooperate to transport them somewhere else – Palestine.

This odious alliance continues in updated form, as journalist Max Blumenthal observed:


A cornerstone of Israel’s policy today is to cement ties with other ultra-nationalist, racist and Islamophobic forces around the world – even if they are also anti-Semitic.

A striking example is Netanyahu’s own embrace of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, despite the latter’s recent praise for Viktor Horthy, the wartime ally of Hitler who oversaw the murder of 500,000 Holocaust victims.

Israel’s interests took precedence over the safety concerns of Hungarian Jews, as Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to tamp down criticism of Orban’s anti-Semitic dog whistles.

Notably, Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi ideologue who wants to create an Aryan homeland in North America, has called his mission a “sort of white Zionism.” Spencer has ties to another senior White House advisor, Stephen Miller.

A similar ideological alliance prevails inside the White House. And Israel has guarded it: Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, publicly defended Bannon in the days following last November’s election, after American Jewish groups strongly criticized Bannon’s appointment to a top position.

Ideology and convenience
But the Adelson-Bannon partnership is also one of convenience. The Adelson-backed Zionist Organization of America is waging a campaign against Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, which aims to portray the army general as “hostile to Israel.”

McMaster also happens to be one of Bannon’s key opponents inside the White House.

Establishment Israel lobby figures, such as the Obama administration’s ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, have leapt to McMaster’s defense:


Choose your war
There are substantive issue at stake. Part of Bannon’s ultra-nationalist “America First” agenda is opposing some US military interventions, particularly a renewed “surge” in Afghanistan that is supported by McMaster and US defense secretary James Mattis.

That is not Adelson’s – or Netanyahu’s interest – however. Bannon and other ultra-right figures including White House advisor Sebastian Gorka – have been key opponents of the international deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Blocking or undermining the Iran deal has been Netanyahu’s preoccupation for years.

Bannon and Gorka furiously opposed the State Department’s recent certification that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement.

The Zionist Organization of America’s key allegation against McMaster is that he is too sympathetic towards Iran.

Reporting by The Forward revealed that Gorka is a member of a Hungarian far-right group that was controlled by the Nazis during the war, and has given backing to an anti-Semitic militia.

For those who support justice and oppose war and racism, there is no “side” to choose in this battle. On one side, you have the Bannon-Adelson faction pushing extreme Zionism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and possible war with Iran. On the other, you have have the McMaster faction, backed by the DC establishment, which wants to perpetuate America’s existing imperial wars, starting with escalation in Afghanistan.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Democratic socialists give joyous thumbs up to BDS



Ali Abunimah Activism and BDS Beat 7 August 2017

The Democratic Socialists of America overwhelmingly voted to endorse the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

This video shows delegates at the DSA conference in Chicago this weekend voting almost unanimously for the measure:


Demand what’s right
“Those who struggle against oppression and for equality will always have our support,” DSA deputy national director David Duhalde said in a press release.

“Just as we answered the call to boycott South Africa during apartheid, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”



“Democratic socialists aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and demand what’s right,” Rawan Tayoon, a Palestinian activist with Young Democratic Socialists, said.

“We stand against imperialism, we stand against racism, and so we must stand against Israeli apartheid and occupation.”

Tayoon told The Electronic Intifada that the vote came after months of organizing by members.

She said she was moved by the celebratory spirit in the room when the moment came.

“I knew that it would pass because I had been working on it,” she said. “But people were not just voting for it, they were so happy to be voting for it and that was a surprise.”

DSA describes itself as the largest democratic socialist organization in the United States. With more than 25,000 members, it has seen its membership quadruple with the resurgence of left-wing politics in the US and Europe, particularly since the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.


Old guard
The big vote for BDS is another mark of the ongoing generational change in views about Palestine.

The Democratic Socialists of America has traditionally been a bastion of left-wing Zionism and support for Israel.

One of the old guard expressed his dismay at the change. Eric Lee wrote in a blog post that he is resigning over the BDS vote after being involved with the group over 40 years, including a stint on DSA’s national board.

Echoing talking points from Israel and its lobby groups, Lee wrote that he considers the BDS movement to be “anti-Semitic and racist.”

Lee complained that in a video he saw of the conference some delegates were chanting “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.”

“I also saw at least one Palestinian flag being waved in celebration,” he wrote.

Born in the US, Lee previously lived in Israel. Now based in the UK, he helped organize American supporters of Bernie Sanders there during last year’s election. Lee has also worked to try to thwart support for BDS in the British trade union movement.

Other smears from Israel’s surrogates included a claim in The Jerusalem Post that the vote was held on Saturday as a deliberate “tactic” to exclude Jews who observe Shabbat.

The right-wing, pro-Israel blog Legal Insurrection claimed that young socialists support Palestinian liberation because they are motivated by anti-Semitism and by the “now-fashionable doctrine of intersectionality” in which “Israel is held out as the unique connecting force among capitalist and American-imperialist evils.”

Lobby groups have previously complained that intersectionality – a perspective that links struggles for liberation among oppressed peoples – is a threat to support for Israel.

Challenge to censorship
The DSA vote comes after recent decisions by several churches to endorse boycott and divestment and other measures in support of Palestinian rights.

The vote also sends a strong message to lawmakers that efforts at censorship, backed by the Israel lobby, are not slowing the growth of the movement.


Friday, August 11, 2017

A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack


Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.
By Patrick LawrenceTwitter AUGUST 9, 2017
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DNC HQ
The Democratic National Committee headquarters, October 27, 2016. (Sipa via AP Images)

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Editor’s note: After publication, the Democratic National Committee contacted The Nation with a response, writing, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration. It’s unfortunate that The Nation has decided to join the conspiracy theorists to push this narrative.”

It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised—a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.

The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.

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We are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception.
All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.

Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess “high confidence” in their “assessment” as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year—this standing as their authoritative judgment. Few have noticed since these evasive terms first appeared that an assessment is an opinion, nothing more, and to express high confidence is an upside-down way of admitting the absence of certain knowledge. This is how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept—as the record shows many of them have done.

We come now to a moment of great gravity.

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:

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There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.
Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.
This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.

One, there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the “phishing” operation penetrating John Podesta’s e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta’s e-mail address was in fact “phished”? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.

Forensic investigators, prominent among them people with decades’ experience at high levels in our national-security institutions, have put a body of evidence on a table previously left empty.
Two, houses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the “hack theory,” as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so. Neither is there anything far-fetched in a reversal of the truth of this magnitude. American history is replete with similar cases. The Spanish sank the Maine in Havana harbor in February 1898. Iran’s Mossadegh was a Communist. Guatemala’s Árbenz represented a Communist threat to the United States. Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh was a Soviet puppet. The Sandinistas were Communists. The truth of the Maine, a war and a revolution in between, took a century to find the light of day, whereupon the official story disintegrated. We can do better now. It is an odd sensation to live through one of these episodes, especially one as big as Russiagate. But its place atop a long line of precedents can no longer be disputed.

Three, regardless of what one may think about the investigations and conclusions I will now outline—and, as noted, these investigations continue—there is a bottom line attaching to them. We can even call it a red line. Under no circumstance can it be acceptable that the relevant authorities—the National Security Agency, the Justice Department (via the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the Central Intelligence Agency—leave these new findings without reply. Not credibly, in any case. Forensic investigators, prominent among them people with decades’ experience at high levels in these very institutions, have put a body of evidence on a table previously left empty. Silence now, should it ensue, cannot be written down as an admission of duplicity, but it will come very close to one.

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It requires no elaboration to apply the above point to the corporate media, which have been flaccidly satisfied with official explanations of the DNC matter from the start.

Qualified experts working independently of one another began to examine the DNC case immediately after the July 2016 events. Prominent among these is a group comprising former intelligence officers, almost all of whom previously occupied senior positions. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), founded in 2003, now has 30 members, including a few associates with backgrounds in national-security fields other than intelligence. The chief researchers active on the DNC case are four: William Binney, formerly the NSA’s technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis and designer of many agency programs now in use; Kirk Wiebe, formerly a senior analyst at the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center; Edward Loomis, formerly technical director in the NSA’s Office of Signal Processing; and Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for nearly three decades and formerly chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. Most of these men have decades of experience in matters concerning Russian intelligence and the related technologies. This article reflects numerous interviews with all of them conducted in person, via Skype, or by telephone.


The customary VIPS format is an open letter, typically addressed to the president. The group has written three such letters on the DNC incident, all of which were first published by Robert Parry at www.consortiumnews.com. Here is the latest, dated July 24; it blueprints the forensic work this article explores in detail. They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation. In a letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the group explained that the NSA’s known programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,” the letter said. “If NSA cannot produce such evidence—and quickly—this would probably mean it does not have any.”

The day after Parry published this letter, Obama gave his last press conference as president, at which he delivered one of the great gems among the official statements on the DNC e-mail question. “The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking,” the legacy-minded Obama said, “were not conclusive.” There is little to suggest the VIPS letter prompted this remark, but it is typical of the linguistic tap-dancing many officials connected to the case have indulged so as to avoid putting their names on the hack theory and all that derives from it.

Until recently there was a serious hindrance to the VIPS’s work, and I have just suggested it. The group lacked access to positive data. It had no lump of cyber-material to place on its lab table and analyze, because no official agency had provided any.

Donald Rumsfeld famously argued with regard to the WMD question in Iraq, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” In essence, Binney and others at VIPS say this logic turns upside down in the DNC case: Based on the knowledge of former officials such as Binney, the group knew that (1) if there was a hack and (2) if Russia was responsible for it, the NSA would have to have evidence of both. Binney and others surmised that the agency and associated institutions were hiding the absence of evidence behind the claim that they had to maintain secrecy to protect NSA programs. “Everything that they say must remain classified is already well-known,” Binney said in an interview. “They’re playing the Wizard of Oz game.”

Research into the DNC case took a fateful turn in early July, when forensic investigators who had been working independently began to share findings and form loose collaborations.
New findings indicate this is perfectly true, but until recently the VIPS experts could produce only “negative evidence,” as they put it: The absence of evidence supporting the hack theory demonstrates that it cannot be so. That is all VIPS had. They could allege and assert, but they could not conclude: They were stuck demanding evidence they did not have—if only to prove there was none.

Research into the DNC case took a fateful turn in early July, when forensic investigators who had been working independently began to share findings and form loose collaborations wherein each could build on the work of others. In this a small, new website called www.disobedientmedia.com proved an important catalyst. Two independent researchers selected it, Snowden-like, as the medium through which to disclose their findings. One of these is known as Forensicator and the other as Adam Carter. On July 9, Adam Carter sent Elizabeth Vos, a co-founder of Disobedient Media, a paper by the Forensicator that split the DNC case open like a coconut.

By this time Binney and the other technical-side people at VIPS had begun working with a man named Skip Folden. Folden was an IT executive at IBM for 33 years, serving 25 years as the IT program manager in the United States. He has also consulted for Pentagon officials, the FBI, and the Justice Department. Folden is effectively the VIPS group’s liaison to Forensicator, Adam Carter, and other investigators, but neither Folden nor anyone else knows the identity of either Forensicator or Adam Carter. This bears brief explanation.

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The Forensicator’s July 9 document indicates he lives in the Pacific Time Zone, which puts him on the West Coast. His notes describing his investigative procedures support this. But little else is known of him. Adam Carter, in turn, is located in England, but the name is a coy pseudonym: It derives from a character in a BBC espionage series called Spooks. It is protocol in this community, Elizabeth Vos told me in a telephone conversation this week, to respect this degree of anonymity. Kirk Wiebe, the former SIGINT analyst at the NSA, thinks Forensicator could be “someone very good with the FBI,” but there is no certainty. Unanimously, however, all the analysts and forensics investigators interviewed for this column say Forensicator’s advanced expertise, evident in the work he has done, is unassailable. They hold a similarly high opinion of Adam Carter’s work.

Forensicator is working with the documents published by Guccifer 2.0, focusing for now on the July 5 intrusion into the DNC server. The contents of Guccifer’s files are known—they were published last September—and are not Forensicator’s concern. His work is with the metadata on those files. These data did not come to him via any clandestine means. Forensicator simply has access to them that others did not have. It is this access that prompts Kirk Wiebe and others to suggest that Forensicator may be someone with exceptional talent and training inside an agency such as the FBI. “Forensicator unlocked and then analyzed what had been the locked files Guccifer supposedly took from the DNC server,” Skip Folden explained in an interview. “To do this he would have to have ‘access privilege,’ meaning a key.”

Forensicator’s first decisive findings, made public on July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate.
What has Forensicator proven since he turned his key? How? What has work done atop Forensicator’s findings proven? How?

Forensicator’s first decisive findings, made public in the paper dated July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate—the time a remote hack would require. The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.

Time stamps in the metadata indicate the download occurred somewhere on the East Coast of the United States—not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone.
These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.

What is the maximum achievable speed? Forensicator recently ran a test download of a comparable data volume (and using a server speed not available in 2016) 40 miles from his computer via a server 20 miles away and came up with a speed of 11.8 megabytes per second—half what the DNC operation would need were it a hack. Other investigators have built on this finding. Folden and Edward Loomis say a survey published August 3, 2016, by www.speedtest.net/reports is highly reliable and use it as their thumbnail index. It indicated that the highest average ISP speeds of first-half 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications. These speeds averaged 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively. Peak speeds at higher rates were recorded intermittently but still did not reach the required 22.7 megabytes per second.

“A speed of 22.7 megabytes is simply unobtainable, especially if we are talking about a transoceanic data transfer,” Folden said. “Based on the data we now have, what we’ve been calling a hack is impossible.” Last week Forensicator reported on a speed test he conducted more recently. It tightens the case considerably. “Transfer rates of 23 MB/s (Mega Bytes per second) are not just highly unlikely, but effectively impossible to accomplish when communicating over the Internet at any significant distance,” he wrote. “Further, local copy speeds are measured, demonstrating that 23 MB/s is a typical transfer rate when using a USB–2 flash device (thumb drive).”

“It’s clear,” another forensics investigator wrote, “that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.”
Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm. This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between—but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone. Combined with Forensicator’s findings on the transfer rate, the time stamps constitute more evidence that the download was conducted locally, since delivery overheads—conversion of data into packets, addressing, sequencing times, error checks, and the like—degrade all data transfers conducted via the Internet, more or less according to the distance involved.

In addition, there is the adulteration of the documents Guccifer 2.0 posted on June 15, when he made his first appearance. This came to light when researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath. They found that the first five files Guccifer made public had each been run, via ordinary cut-and-paste, through a single template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints. They were not: The Russian markings were artificially inserted prior to posting. “It’s clear,” another forensics investigator self-identified as HET, wrote in a report on this question, “that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.”

To be noted in this connection: The list of the CIA’s cyber-tools WikiLeaks began to release in March and labeled Vault 7 includes one called Marble that is capable of obfuscating the origin of documents in false-flag operations and leaving markings that point to whatever the CIA wants to point to. (The tool can also “de-obfuscate” what it has obfuscated.) It is not known whether this tool was deployed in the Guccifer case, but it is there for such a use.

It is not yet clear whether documents now shown to have been leaked locally on July 5 were tainted to suggest Russian hacking in the same way the June 15 Guccifer release was. This is among several outstanding questions awaiting answers, and the forensic scientists active on the DNC case are now investigating it. In a note Adam Carter sent to Folden and McGovern last week and copied to me, he reconfirmed the corruption of the June 15 documents, while indicating that his initial work on the July 5 documents—of which much more is to be done—had not yet turned up evidence of doctoring.

In the meantime, VIPS has assembled a chronology that imposes a persuasive logic on the complex succession of events just reviewed. It is this:

On June 12 last year, Julian Assange announced that WikiLeaks had and would publish documents pertinent to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
On June 14, CrowdStrike, a cyber-security firm hired by the DNC, announced, without providing evidence, that it had found malware on DNC servers and had evidence that Russians were responsible for planting it.
On June 15, Guccifer 2.0 first appeared, took responsibility for the “hack” reported on June 14 and claimed to be a WikiLeaks source. It then posted the adulterated documents just described.
On July 5, Guccifer again claimed he had remotely hacked DNC servers, and the operation was instantly described as another intrusion attributable to Russia. Virtually no media questioned this account.
It does not require too much thought to read into this sequence. With his June 12 announcement, Assange effectively put the DNC on notice that it had a little time, probably not much, to act preemptively against the imminent publication of damaging documents. Did the DNC quickly conjure Guccifer from thin air to create a cyber-saboteur whose fingers point to Russia? There is no evidence of this one way or the other, but emphatically it is legitimate to pose the question in the context of the VIPS chronology. WikiLeaks began publishing on July 22. By that time, the case alleging Russian interference in the 2016 elections process was taking firm root. In short order Assange would be written down as a “Russian agent.”

By any balanced reckoning, the official case purporting to assign a systematic hacking effort to Russia, the events of mid-June and July 5 last year being the foundation of this case, is shabby to the point taxpayers should ask for their money back. The Intelligence Community Assessment, the supposedly definitive report featuring the “high confidence” dodge, was greeted as farcically flimsy when issued January 6. Ray McGovern calls it a disgrace to the intelligence profession. It is spotlessly free of evidence, front to back, pertaining to any events in which Russia is implicated. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA. There is a way to understand “hand-picked” that is less obvious than meets the eye: The report was sequestered from rigorous agency-wide reviews. This is the way these people have spoken to us for the past year.

Behind the ICA lie other indefensible realities. The FBI has never examined the DNC’s computer servers—an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC’s employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which suffers the same prejudice. Problems such as this are many.

“We continue to stand by our report,” CrowdStrike said, upon seeing the VIPS blueprint of the investigation. CrowdStrike argues that by July 5 all malware had been removed from the DNC’s computers. But the presence or absence of malware by that time is entirely immaterial, because the event of July 5 is proven to have been a leak and not a hack. Given that malware has nothing to do with leaks, CrowdStrike’s logic appears to be circular.

In effect, the new forensic evidence considered here lands in a vacuum. We now enter a period when an official reply should be forthcoming. What the forensic people are now producing constitutes evidence, however one may view it, and it is the first scientifically derived evidence we have into any of the events in which Russia has been implicated. The investigators deserve a response, the betrayed professionals who formed VIPS as the WMD scandal unfolded in 2003 deserve it, and so do the rest of us. The cost of duplicity has rarely been so high.

I concluded each of the interviews conducted for this column by asking for a degree of confidence in the new findings. These are careful, exacting people as a matter of professional training and standards, and I got careful, exacting replies.

All those interviewed came in between 90 percent and 100 percent certain that the forensics prove out. I have already quoted Skip Folden’s answer: impossible based on the data. “The laws of physics don’t lie,” Ray McGovern volunteered at one point. “It’s QED, theorem demonstrated,” William Binney said in response to my question. “There’s no evidence out there to get me to change my mind.” When I asked Edward Loomis, a 90 percent man, about the 10 percent he held out, he replied, “I’ve looked at the work and it shows there was no Russian hack. But I didn’t do the work. That’s the 10 percent. I’m a scientist.”

Editor’s note: In its chronology, VIPS mistakenly gave the wrong date for CrowdStrike’s announcement of its claim to have found malware on DNC servers. It said June 15, when it should have said June 14. VIPS has acknowledged the error, and we have made the correction.



Patrick LawrenceTWITTERPatrick Lawrence is a longtime columnist, essayist, critic, and lecturer, whose most recent books are Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World and Time No Longer: America After the American Century. His website is patricklawrence.us.