27 January 2017


The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us

Photo by Diego Torres Sylvester | CC BY 2.0

On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation.  “In order for us to heal and move forward …,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favour of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

And:  “We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting ‘anti’ language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.”

Thus, real protest is to be avoided, for it is not tax exempt.

Compare such drivel with the declarations of the Congress of American Writers, held at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1935, and again two years later. They were electric events, with writers discussing how they could confront ominous events in Abyssinia, China and Spain. Telegrams from Thomas Mann, C Day Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out, reflecting the fear that great power was now rampant and that it had become impossible to discuss art and literature without politics or, indeed, direct political action.

“A writer,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn told the second congress, “must be a man of action now . . . A man who has given a year of his life to steel strikes, or to the unemployed, or to the problems of racial prejudice, has not lost or wasted time. He is a man who has known where he belonged. If you should survive such action, what you have to say about it afterwards is the truth, is necessary and real, and it will last.”

Her words echo across the unction and violence of the Obama era and the silence of those who colluded with his deceptions.

That the menace of rapacious power — rampant long before the rise of Trump —  has been accepted by writers, many of them privileged and celebrated, and by those who guard the gates of literary criticism, and culture, including popular culture, is uncontroversial. Not for them the impossibility of writing and promoting literature bereft of politics. Not for them the responsibility to speak out, regardless of who occupies the White House.

Today, false symbolism is all. “Identity” is all. In 2016, Hillary Clinton stigmatised millions of voters as “a basket of deplorables, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it”. Her abuse was handed out at an LGBT rally as part of her cynical campaign to win over minorities by abusing a white mostly working-class majority. Divide and rule, this is called; or identity politics in which race and gender conceal class, and allow the waging of class war.  Trump understood this.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident poet Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

This is not an American phenomenon. A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”.

No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among today’s insistent voices of consumer-feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people… of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.

There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an “issue”. Across the Review section of the Guardian on 10 December was a dreamy picture of Barack Obama looking up to the heavens and the words, “Amazing Grace” and “Farewell the Chief”.

The sycophancy ran like a polluted babbling brook through page after page. “He was a vulnerable figure in many ways …. But the grace. The all-encompassing grace: in manner and form, in argument and intellect, with humour and cool ….[He] is a blazing tribute to what has been, and what can be again … He seems ready to keep fighting, and remains a formidable champion to have on our side … … The grace … the almost surreal levels of grace …”

I have conflated these quotes. There are others even more hagiographic and bereft of mitigation. The Guardian’s chief apologist for Obama, Gary Younge, has always been careful to mitigate, to say that his hero “could have done more”: oh, but there were the “calm, measured and consensual solutions …”

None of them, however, could surpass the American writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the recipient of a “genius” grant worth $625,000 from a liberal foundation. In an interminable essay for The Atlantic entitled, “My President Was Black”, Coates brought new meaning to prostration. The final “chapter”, entitled “When You Left, You Took All of Me With You”, a line from a Marvin Gaye song, describes seeing the Obamas “rising out of the limo, rising up from fear, smiling, waving, defying despair, defying history, defying gravity”.  The Ascension, no less.
One of the persistent strands in American political life is a cultish extremism that approaches fascism. This was given expression and  reinforced during the two terms of Barack Obama. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day.  He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.
Every Tuesday — reported the New York Times — he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the “terrorist target”. A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama’s drones killed 4,700 people. “Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that,” he said, but we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda.”

Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor: “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically … In the propaganda system … it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.

Take the catastrophe in Libya. In 2011, Obama said Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story; and Nato – led by Obama and Hillary Clinton – launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.
Under Obama, the US has extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 per cent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa. Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.  Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds US officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.

It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s black colonial elite whose “historic mission”, warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.

It was Obama who, in 2011, announced what became known as the “pivot to Asia”, in which almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific to “confront China”, in the words of his Defence Secretary. There was no threat from China; the entire enterprise was unnecessary. It was an extreme provocation to keep the Pentagon and its demented brass happy.

In 2014, the Obama’s administration oversaw and paid for a fascist-led coup in Ukraine against the democratically-elected government, threatening Russia in the western borderland through Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, with a loss of 27 million lives. It was Obama who placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, and it was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any administration since the cold war — having promised, in an emotional speech in Prague, to “help rid the world of nuclear weapons”.

Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history, even though the US constitution protects them. He declared Chelsea Manning guilty before the end of a trial that was a travesty. He has refused to pardon Manning who has suffered years of inhumane treatment which the UN says amounts to torture. He has pursued an entirely bogus case against Julian Assange. He promised to close the Guantanamo concentration camp and didn’t.

Following the public relations disaster of George W. Bush, Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel Prize committee’s decision was part of this: the kind of cloying reverse racism that beatified the man for no reason other than he was attractive to liberal sensibilities and, of course, American power, if not to the children he kills in impoverished, mostly Muslim countries.

This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded, especially “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne put it. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”

William I. Robinson, professor at the University of California, and one of an uncontaminated group of American strategic thinkers who have retained their independence during the years of intellectual dog-whistling since 9/11, wrote this last week:
“President Barack Obama … may have done more than anyone to assure [Donald] Trump’s victory. While Trump’s election has triggered a rapid expansion of fascist currents in US civil society, a fascist outcome for the political system is far from inevitable …. But that fight back requires clarity as to how we got to such a dangerous precipice. The seeds of 21st century fascism were planted, fertilized and watered by the Obama administration and the politically bankrupt liberal elite.”
Robinson points out that “whether in its 20th or its emerging 21st century variants, fascism is, above all, a response to deep structural crises of capitalism, such as that of the 1930s and the one that began with the financial meltdown in 2008 …. There is a near-straight line here from Obama to Trump … The liberal elite’s refusal to challenge the rapaciousness of transnational capital and its brand of identity politics served to eclipse the language of the working and popular classes … pushing white workers into an ‘identity’ of white nationalism and helping the neo-fascists to organise them”..

The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarised police and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of $14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.

Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph.

The lies about Russia — in whose elections the US has openly intervened — have made the world’s most self-important journalists laughing stocks. In the country with constitutionally the freest press in the world, free journalism now exists only in its honourable exceptions.

The obsession with Trump is a cover for many of those calling themselves “left/liberal”, as if to claim political decency. They are not “left”, neither are they especially “liberal”.  Much of America’s aggression towards the rest of humanity has come from so-called liberal Democratic administrations — such as Obama’s. America’s political spectrum extends from the mythical centre to the lunar right. The “left” are homeless renegades Martha Gellhorn described as “a rare and wholly admirable fraternity”. She excluded those who confuse politics with a fixation on their navels.

While they “heal” and “move forward”, will the Writers Resist campaigners and other anti-Trumpists reflect upon this? More to the point: when will a genuine movement of opposition arise? Angry, eloquent, all-for-one-and-one-for all. Until real politics return to people’s lives, the enemy is not Trump, it is ourselves.
John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

26 January 2017



Darebin City Council,
PO Box 91
Vic 3072


E. J. De Saxe
2/12 Murphy Grove
Vic 3072
Postal Address:
PO Box 1675
Preston South
Vic 3072

25 JANUARY 2017



1)      Murray Road is one of the keys to the objection because as it runs through the north of the proposed redevelopment of Preston Market and precincts, the road has two bus routes and boom gates just adjacent to the Market parking area.

The road has two traffic lanes in each direction, one lane of each in each direction has parking available at certain times of the day, limiting the narrow Murray Road in the vicinity of the proposed development into a one-lane each way roadway.

The proposed residential towers, if approved, will apparently contain 300 dwellings.

2)      High rises are the latest answer to the Victorian state government’s attempts to contain urban sprawl which is growing rapidly as Melbourne’s population growth is rapidly increasing. To place such high rise buildings as proposed by the developers would be totally out of keeping with the suburban precincts of Preston areas. Darebin Council has planning regulations which are allowing subdivisions in many parts of the suburb because of the state government’s demand to councils to increase population density to reduce/stop urban sprawl.

3)      If this development is allowed to proceed, Preston Market will be completely hemmed in by the high rise buildings on its north and west. How long before similar developments will then be approved in High Street and Gower Street. If this occurs, then in the years to come, this mass of overdevelopment will end up in the same situation as high rises in Flemington, Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond and other urban and suburban areas. Docklands comes to mind.

4)      The amenities provided at the moment by Preston Market will be materially altered if the proposed upgrading of the Market itself proceeds and increases in rents and supplies at the Market will increase to keep pace with the “gentrification” of the precinct.

5)      Preston Market itself needs some upgrading and modernisation, but not at the expense of stallholders being priced out of the Market because they can’t afford the new rents and because they possibly won’t have the customers to support them. Raising prices may well mean losing existing customers, but they may not be left with any choice.

6)      Preston Market is enclosed by four main roads which are narrow and carry vast amounts of traffic. Murray Road is a main east-west link and carries two bus routes – 903 and 527. High Street is a main north-south link running virtually from Gertrude Street in Fitzroy northwards along Smith Street, Queen’s Parade and becoming High Street at the southern most end of Northcote, travelling northwards through and beyond Reservoir. Gower Street is also an east-west link which carries traffic from the industrial and commercial businesses around Chifley Drive near Darebin Creek on the east side of Preston and going west into West Preston. Traffic is already a serious problem on all these roads, exacerbated by the fact that there are level crossings on Murray Road and Gower Street.

7)      If this development is allowed to proceed because approval is given by Darebin Council, does this mean that anywhere in Preston,  residential areas will be able to be rezoned to allow for high rise buildings such as those being considered around Preston Market?

8)      With the traffic along Murray Road already choking the road as an east-west link, motorists are taking short cuts through other quiet suburban roads running off Murray Road, such as our short street, Murphy Grove, where motorists escape Murray Road and use the short cut to Wood Street and also Tyler Street. Does this mean that what the real estate agents are saying about Preston that we are now inner city being only approximately 10 km from the Melbourne CBD?

9)      Preston infrastructure is early 20th century in many areas, road width included, so services such as water, gas, electricity, communications – are all out of date. With the proposed development around Preston Market, how will services such as fire and ambulance cope in an emergency? They are already finding difficulties in these areas because of the roads and hydrants and other similar services, so it would seem that disasters on a major scale become possibilities if there is a fire, for instance in a high rise such as a 14 storey building.

10)  Darebin Council is proudly displaying a banner outside their premises at the corner of High Street and Gower Street stating:

                                 “We love Preston Market”

Darebin Council cannot love Preston Market if they even contemplate allowing such a gross overdevelopment to be given the green light for the Preston Market precinct.

Melbourne – the most liveable city in the world – is on the way out. Melbourne and suburbia will become the slum capital unless these high rise proposals are stopped before they can be developed.

Mannie De Saxe


Al Jazeera Investigates:



Al Jazeera Investigations exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics. A six-month undercover investigation reveals how Israel penetrates different levels of British democracy.

Episode One: In part one, Al Jazeera Investigations reveals how pro-Israel groups are trying to influence Britain’s youth.

Episode Two: In part two, our undercover reporter joins a delegation from the Israeli embassy at last year’s Labour Party Conference.

Episode Three: In part three, our undercover reporter witnesses a heated conversation between two opposing activists. The evidence raises serious questions about whether accusations of anti-Semitism are used to stifle political debate.

Episode Four:




20 January 2017


This seems to be a good place to start.

Preston Market has been on the developers' cards for many years. Plans have been submitted to Darebin Council and some, lately, seem to have been ready to be approved with some modifications.

However, as the article below indicates, Council is now considering allowing three high rise buildings to be built in the Market precinct and it seems there is no consideration or understanding of the infrastructure problems concerning the proposed development.

We have examined the plans at Darebin Council's planning department and they reveal horror upon horror of disasters awaiting the whole area at and around the Market.

The Council has erected a sign outside its buildings at the corner of High Street and Gower Street, Preston, and we are now trying to work out what the Council loves about the Market if they are now even prepared to consider the plans submitted to them by the developer who owns so much of the area on which the Market stands.

The following article is from the Preston Leader:

Three apartment towers on Murray Rd revealed as part of Preston Market revamp plans

1 December 2016
Preston Market concept shots — the residential buildings.

THIS is the new face of Murray Rd if a planning proposal by the owners of Preston Market goes ahead.
The artist impressions, provided to the Leader, have also been shown to market visitors over the past couple of weeks as part of the owner’s push to allay community concerns over the future of the popular site.

It shows three separate apartment towers, each of different design, which will have prime access to the market and retail outlets underneath.

The existing footprint of the fresh food market will not be impacted, although Aldi would be demolished to make more room for parking and moved to the new retail space. The Hood building would also be demolished to make way for parking.

An amended proposal was submitted to Darebin Council on Friday, which the owners said was to meet the State Government’s new design standards on providing more natural light. Salta Properties managing director Sam Tarascio said the proposal set “a new standard” for development in Darebin.

“It has been designed by leading architects, Breathe Architecture, who delivered The Commons in Brunswick, and NH Architecture, and will be well connected to the market,” Mr Tarascio said.

The mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments would be larger than many others in the area to appeal to owner occupiers, he said. Communal gardens and a basketball court feature in the proposed design.

The owners could not confirm exact parking numbers, but said it would be an increase on what is available now. Parking for market shoppers and residents will be separate.

However, not all apartments will be sold with a car space, because of the proximity to a variety of public transport options.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the plans as part of normal planning processes.

This article in the Preston Leader of 17 JANUARY 2017 continues the story and advises when objections must be submitted to Council:

" ......., objectors to the 14-storey development planned for above Preston Market have until 25 JANUARY to lodge their disapproval.

The planning permit application for the 170-dwelling development is on display at Darebin Council's statutory planning unit, on the first floor at 274 Gower Street, Preston from 8.45am to 4.45pm. Monday to Friday.

People objecting must send a submission to Darebin Council, including the reasons for their objections." 

And people will assuredly object to not only the 14-storey development, but the two 10-storey developments as well!

17 January 2017


Australia's apprenticeship on concentration camps ended some time ago, even before the establishment of the infamous pair Manus and Nauru.

Those on Christmas Island and on the Australian mainland were already emulating the best in the world - the British ones in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, the German ones during World War II, and, from 1948 onwards, the Israeli ones in Gaza and the Occupied Territories of the Palestinian West Bank which the zionists have always claimed as zionist homeland territory after falsifying history in the best traditions of colonial and occupying powers over the ages, not forgetting one of the other more infamous ones of the modern era such as the USA one called Guantanamo on occupied Cuban land.

One of the best ways of ridding oneself of unwanted refugees, asylum seekers, "foreigners" of various origins - is to lock them up in concentration camps and help them to die off while in imprisonment and then blame them themselves for their deaths.

Manus has been a particularly fruitful camp for asylum deaths in custody - people who have committed no crimes but who have fled from their countries of origin because of illegal wars perpetrated on their countries by such imperial powers as Australia, UK, USA, France and many others too numerous to mention - the African continent bears the brunt of so much these days.

The 20th century has seen endless crimes committed by countries spending untold amounts of money on arms and war equipment, and killing millions of innocent people on an ongoing basis - the Israeli government is a "good" example of this ongoing tragedy, and Australia has willingly joined its masters around the globe in these exercises in order to gain resources, territories, markets, and all the other spoils of war.

The one "spoils of war" issue that none of them wants is the influx of millions of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world, and what do we do? We lock them up and wait for them to die!

13 January 2017


Resolutions Advocating a Boycott of Israel

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0
I’m at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in Philadelphia.  The MLA Delegate Assembly voted today on two resolutions, for and against, of an academic boycott of Israel.  The resolution against the boycott was carried narrowly, the resolution in favor of the boycott was defeated by a wider margin.

There were several forums which addressed the pros and cons of the boycott at this meeting.
Speaking as someone who cut his political teeth as part of the group coordinating the boycott of apartheid South Africa at my UK university in the late 1960s and early 70s, the arguments and observations made by the anti-boycotters here were uncannily similar, indeed eerily so, to those I encountered from apartheid supporters and sympathizers decades ago.

Hence, it was said here that the boycott of Israel would hurt Palestinians more than Israelis, in exactly the way that apartheid supporters said the same on behalf of nameless and countless black South Africans.

Palestinian civil society launched the boycott movement (BDS) and called for international support, in just the way that the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa called for an international boycott of their country.

Both Palestinians and South African blacks said they were willing to make the concomitant sacrifices.  Who are we to deny their request, unless we happen to be Zionists now or supporters of South African apartheid then?

The old canard of “academic freedom”, and the alleged violation thereof by BDS, was trotted out.
Er, what about the across-the-board violation of the academic freedom of Palestinian teachers, scholars, and students?

Palestinian schools and universities are routinely raided and vandalized during “security searches” (and bombed to smithereens when Israel decides to “mow the lawn” periodically), the curriculum is routinely suspended by arbitrary curfews, the commute to school invariably requires negotiation of army checkpoints that can delay students and teachers for hours on end, volleys of tear gas fired onto campuses disrupt classes, Palestinian professors are not free to travel to conferences and seminars, distinguished foreign academics such as Noam Chomsky are prevented from lecturing at Palestinian universities, “incitement” laws restrict meaningful discussion of Israeli policy, power shortages created by the Israeli government require classes to be held in candlelight, and so on.

Whose “academic freedom” should we be talking about at this convention?

It was also alleged that BDS is a futile and self-aggrandizing gesture on the part of privileged western academics.  The same was said about the South African boycott, though it was of course successful in the end, especially when it came to severing sporting ties– sporting prowess being a matter of immense national pride for white South Africans.

The academics against BDS, alas for their argument, are my equally privileged colleagues at US universities!

So: what about their privilege, especially since many are invited to give lucrative lectures at Israeli universities, most likely as a token of gratitude for their stance against BDS?

No impoverished Palestinian university can afford to pay someone like me and likeminded BDS colleagues tuppence to give a lecture there.  We’d go for free if asked, though given our support for BDS, acquiring the requisite Israeli entry visa may be a fraught undertaking.

Also heard were heartfelt (or so they sounded) pleas that as an academic organization the MLA should not involve itself in dubious political grandstanding, but should instead advocate for “real issues”, such as “promoting its associated disciplines” (invariably part of the boilerplate mission statements of all academic organizations), championing adjunct faculty on paltry “gig” contracts, as well as alleviating the burdens of severely indebted graduate students, etc.

Several adjuncts and grad students spoke in favor of BDS, and pretty much blew this argument out of the water.

As put-upon, indeed exploited, academic proletarians their natural affinity was with underprivileged Palestinian academics and students, and not the holders of handsomely-paid distinguished chairs and other sinecures at American universities who pay no price for supporting the Zionist cause and being anti-BDS.

Moreover, the “promoting its associated disciplines” argument is an absolute evasion.   There is no obvious way to “promote” a discipline.  Even throwing huge sums of money at it only works in some instances.

So how about turning the question round and asking “how do we remove impediments to studying a discipline (philosophy, history, literature, etc.) in X or Y (where X happens to be Palestine)?”.

The response in anti-BDS quarters made here that an American organization should only concern itself with what goes on in the US (“we are not experts in Middle East politics” is typically said by such people) is thoroughly bogus.

Academia is many things, but one of the things it is, is an age-old patronage system, and today academia is globalized, so this American patronage system is willy-nilly global in its reach.

Therefore, the most productive answer to the “we should only be in the business of promoting our own disciplines in this country” refrain is simple:  in principle, all global impediments to education in its broadest sense of the term will be detrimental, whether in the longer or shorter term, to the overall promotion of an academic field.

And this is occurring in Israel-Palestine on a massive scale.

Allied to the “pointless political grandstanding” argument made by the anti-boycotters was the proposal that the MLA should instead underwrite practical ground-level measures providing “real relief” for Palestinians.

This proposal came from Cary Nelson, who CounterPunch readers will remember as one of the main protagonists in the disgraceful “unhiring” of the Palestinian-American Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne.

Nelson has a reputation for being a wily customer, known to operate from behind the scenes (the “unhiring” of Salaita comes immediately to mind), and his proposal was rightly viewed as a window-dressing evasion.

Numerous major international organizations have been involved for decades in providing substantive relief for the Palestinians– WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, Doctors without Borders, Red Crescent/Red Cross– and have had their efforts diluted and wrecked by successive Israeli governments.

The idea that the MLA can somehow prevail, by mere advocacy on the part of Cary Nelson of largely cosmetic measures, when these ostensibly powerful international organizations have not been consistently successful in aiding the Palestinians, is a painfully feeble joke.

Moreover, it was pointed out to Nelson that he was posing his proposal as an alternative to BDS, when BDS is perfectly compatible with any such practical relief efforts!

The good professor had no response, since his transparent aim is to derail BDS, window-dressing sympathy for the Palestinian cause notwithstanding.

The “Why pick on Israel, when there is also North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and so forth?” plaint was also heard at this conference, and for me this resonated very closely with the similar complaint made by South African apartheid sympathizers: “Why pick on South Africa?  What about those African cruel dictators– Mobutu, Idi Amin, the “Emperor” Bokassa—who treat their people as excrement?”.

The answer to this objection is fourfold:

1/ No African despot ever pretended to uphold “western values” (whatever these may be) in the way Israel does, and white South Africa did, at least symbolically.

2/ If the African tyrants were asked whether they respected “democracy”, their deep resounding laughter would have answered this question. Israel on the other hand….

3/ Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid, nearly all of which is used to subjugate the Palestinians. If the US turned off this tap, Israel would probably soon be motivated to mend some of its ways.  So would Saudi Arabia, effectively an Israeli/US proxy in the Arab world along with Egypt.  No such tap exists where North Korea is concerned.  The simple lesson is that we fight battles where we can be effective.

4/ The logic of this argument is faulty. Consider the following analogy:

You own a house and the land it’s on.  Some people come to your house, citing some holy book if it suits them, and they take it over by force of arms, perhaps invoking the holy book.  You are told that from now on you must live in the tiny tool shed at the back of the property.

You protest, saying “but this is my house and land!”.  “Tough”, they say, “from now on this is ours”.
The law (as international law does for the Palestinians), however, allows you to use all legal means, including justifiable force, to resist them and get them to end their seizure of your house and land.

As you are about to do this, someone comes along and says at the Philadelphia MLA conference: “No, you can’t take measures to get them to leave.  In this town, there are several other houses that have been taken over by lawbreakers, who also tortured their owners, kidnapped their children, and so on.  So, you can’t evict the illegal occupiers of your own house, until you go out and protest against these other illegalities, initiate boycotts of their perpetrators, and so on”.

The appropriate response: “If the law is on my side, I can resist the home invaders, so you can go *@#$ yourself”.

The weakest of the arguments made at this conference by the anti-boycotters was that “the BDS resolution will do irreparable harm to the MLA”.  Hence it was said that if the BDS resolution was adopted, membership would decline, the MLA would lose prestige and become a laughing stock, it would show itself to be little more than a partisan pressure group, etc.

The current and past presidents of three academic associations which adopted BDS resolutions recently formed a panel at this conference discussing the impact of these resolutions on their organizations.  One, the president of the American Studies Association, pointed out that its membership had in fact grown after its adoption of a BDS resolution.

Moreover, those of us who have been around for a while will recall that the MLA suffered no short-term decline in membership when it passed a BDS resolution against apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.  In fact, MLA membership grew significantly in the 1990s, though it has since declined.
Nor was this issue raised when the MLA passed, a short time ago, a resolution condemning the ongoing victimization of Turkish academics who speak out against the repressive policies of the Erdogan government.

The face-palm moment here in the town hall on the BDS resolution was provided by an American anti-boycotter, who said that as a visiting professor in Israel she held classes in which Arab women were taught alongside men.  She said this was a liberating experience compared to the gender-segregated patriarchy they would encounter if they attended Palestinian universities.  BDS would end her challenge to Palestinian-Arab patriarchy!

In response, a Jewish-American professor in favor of BDS got up and threw his hands in the air, saying: “OK, you talk about Arab women and the misogynist men they have to deal with– but what about religiously ultra-orthodox Jewish women, and the patriarchy they confront?”.

Indeed, these ultra-orthodox Jewish women can only use beaches reserved for them one day a week.  They must be covered from head to toe, and are harassed by “modesty patrols” if they do otherwise.

 These Jewish women must also sit at the back of the bus and avoid public dancing.  They can’t initiate divorce proceedings (only a man can do this), can’t take jobs involving interactions with men, can’t pray alongside men, can’t have their photos published, can’t have their voices broadcast on radio, and so on.

So much for being against BDS in toto because one American visiting academic gives a few Arab women in Israel the opportunity to escape their version of patriarchy by sitting in a co-ed class!
In addition to the two votes on the resolutions for and against BDS, the Delegate Assembly had two other resolutions before it.

One– condemning Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their violations of Palestinian academic freedom with no mention of Israel’s transgressions! — was clearly the work of the Zionists who proposed the initial resolution against BDS.

As my friend, Salah Hassan, a delegate, pointed out when the Zionists asked for it to be tabled indefinitely after their resolution against BDS was carried, this was a despicable ploy on their part to have a fallback resolution, allowing them the chance of a minor victory, in case their anti-BDS resolution failed.  Now that their anti-BDS resolution succeeded, they wanted to make a hollow “conciliatory” gesture by tabling their fallback resolution.

It got tabled, but not before a handful of people stood up and said that a resolution which failed to mention Israel’s massive violations of Palestinian academic freedom while blaming Hamas and the PA, was a vicious distortion of fact and amounted to racism of the most bare-faced kind.

But what else can we expect from supporters of the Zionist apartheid system?

The soon to be ex-US Secretary of State, John Kerry, was careful to avoid the word “apartheid” in his recent speech condemning Israel’s long and flagrant flouting of international law where the Palestinians are concerned.  To all intents and purposes “Israeli apartheid” is what he meant.

Kerry has known for years that endless illegal settlement expansion is Israel’s agenda.  Like Obama, the wretched fellow bit his tongue until his last days in office, in the hope he could somehow facilitate the illusory two-state solution.

Anti-BDS academics know this as well, though like Kerry until he finally loosened his tongue, they pretend otherwise.  All the meeting rooms in this convention, where Israel-Palestine was discussed by the anti-boycotters, reeked palpably of this pretense.

It is high time American academic organizations mean what Kerry (at last) meant when he was on his way out, and acted accordingly.

The time for pretense is over.

The supporters of Zionism in American academia are prevailing for now, with the tacit collusion of fence-sitters of the usual high-minded intellectual variety, with their platitudes about “the value of dialogue and discussion” with scholars in Israeli universities, and so forth.

The struggle continues.

The Delegate Assembly then passed an “emergency” resolution proposed by Michael Bérubé, an ex-MLA president who was one of the opponents of the BDS resolution. Bérubé’s resolution denounced the incoming Trump administration and its expected threats to academic freedom.

This resolution was a catalogue of boilerplate flummery regarding various “freedoms” (speech, political and religious belief, etc.) of concern to academics, all couched in the most anodyne terms, the kind of stuff one expects in a low-gear civics class.

The speeches lauding this resolution came in the main from the self-same Zionists who earlier had opposed a resolution in support of Palestinian academic freedom!

By this time, I had enough of their puke-inducing hypocrisy, and left the hall before the vote was taken.
Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

12 January 2017


Australian politicians are a national and international disgrace.

What they are busy doing at the moment is attacking pensioners through Centrelink and, as usual, blaming certain people for rorting the system.

Have you seen what politicians have been found to be doing -yet again - with immersing their disgusting snouts in some very deep troughs?

When are the voters going to have enough sense and guts and foresight to chuck these disgusting people out and ensure that new ones elected are people with some integrity?

The latest scandal coming to light after the Sussan Ley debacle is Julie Bishop - you know - holier than thou!!!!! Her behaviour reminds us of another Bishop of recent memory, by name Bronwyn Bishop.

How many more of these revolting parliamentary scandals will emerge before the federal parliament does something to stop them all.

How much more will it take for the sub-prime minister to take action?

The latest robbery occurred today, courtesy Kevin Rudd and the subsequent parliamentary horrors sitting in the house on the hill, and I have been shaken to the core by the petttiness of the government and carried out by its front organisation called Centrelink.

This is some of the story:

On 1 July 2009 Kevin Rudd, then prime miniature, passed legislation in the federal parliament, giving "equal rights" to the so-called glbtiq etc. members of our communities. About 87 pieces of legislation were revised to give gl etceteras equal rights with hetero members of our communities.

As we South Africans knew from the apartheid years of the 20th century and from Dr Verwoerd, the then prime dictator, we had given to us the Bantustans - separate but equal, now carried out to a new level of refinement by the Israelis against the Palestinians.

So, we were now separate, but equal, except of course we were not equal.

We had to declare our de facto relationships to Centrelink if we were on commonwealth benefits and our single pensions became "couple" pensions.

This had so many ramifications that it would take a week to record them all here, so I will just try and deal with the bare bones of it.

My partner and I were at that stage in a same-sex relationship of 15 years and we had been on single pensions each. After the declaration to Centrelink, they combined out pensions to the same amount each where before, because I had some superannuation pensions and my partner didn't I had been getting a smaller Centrelink pension than my partner. Now we became equalised.

The next part of this story is mind-boggling, not forgetting the above items about politicians.

Because Centrelink has access to the superannuation pensions (indexed, by the way) information, when these pensions are indexed and my super pensions increase, Centrelink reduces my age pension accordingly.

Now that we are "married" by Kevin Rudd, we are treated equally by Centrelink so that when the indexed pensions go up, we are Centrelink age pension reduced.

This is what happened this week.

My one superannuation pension - indexed as I said - increased by 82 cents per fortnight.

Today my partner and I each received a letter from Centrelink advising us of our latest fortnightly age pensions.

We found in the letter that our latest pensions had been reduced by 21 cents per fortnight each, that is 42 cents reduction per fortnight in our incomes!

10 January 2017


Kerry, Netanyahu and the Settlements

Following the recent double-whammy against Israel, the first being the United Nations resolution condemning and demanding a stop to all settlement activity, and the second being United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech slamming Israeli policy, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu seems beside himself in fury.  Mr. Kerry, he lamented shortly after the secretary’s speech, “obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. He then made this incredible statement: “No one wants peace more than the people of Israel”. Well, there you are.

Has it really come to this? Has reality really disappeared from the international radar? The leader of a wealthy, prominent nation, one that receives more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined, actually spouts such nonsense, and is not be laughed off the international stage. Well, since Donald Trump is president-elect of the U.S., this writer supposes he has answered his own questions.
Mr. Netanyahu also said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to condemning what he called Palestinian terrorism, and accused the secretary of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East”.

The speech contained other pearls of twisted wisdom, but time and space prevent a thorough study of each of them. But let’s do our own fact-checking on the few mentioned herein, and see what we might be able to learn.

+ “No one want peace more than the people of Israel”.  Let’s see now. Israelis evict Palestinians from their homes for a variety of reasons: to live in them themselves; to destroy them to make room for Israeli-only ‘communities’ (a new word being bandied about to sanitize illegal settlements); to create roads that non-Israelis can’t even cross over, let alone drive on; to extend the apartheid wall. Israeli settlers commit crimes, including murder, against Palestinians, with nearly complete impunity, often protected by Israeli soldiers, who themselves commit unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, again with nearly complete impunity.

Israelis are free to carry deadly weapons with them wherever they go; non-Israelis are not.
Somehow, this does not sound to this writer to be the actions of people who want peace as badly as the Prime Murderer would have us all believe.

+ Netanyahu said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the secretary said anything about so-called ‘terrorism’ committed by the Palestinians was just an appeasement to Israel. Mr. Kerry should know that, under international law, an occupied people have the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. He should also know that the so-called ‘rockets’ that Hamas occasionally fires into Gaza are, in the words of scholar Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, nothing more than enhanced fireworks. These ‘rockets’ hardly compare to the deadly weapons the U.S. provides Israel to kill Palestinian men, women and children. And let’s be reminded that, in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more and far more deadly rockets into the Gaza Strip than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

Mr. Netanyahu seems to have a very unusual definition of terrorism. One wonders if he would consider it terrorism if Palestinian soldiers routinely broke into the homes of Israelis in the middle of the night, ransacked the homes and arrested all the males in them over the age of 10. This writer feels that he would. Yet Israeli soldiers commit these crimes on a daily basis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Would the Israeli Prime Murderer think it an act of terrorism, if Palestinians drove bulldozers up to the home of an Israeli family, and advised them to leave immediately, because their house was going to be demolished? Israel does this to Palestinians hundreds of times a year.

If Palestinians went to Israeli reservoirs, on which Israeli families relied for drinking water, and contaminated them with dead chickens and human feces, would the Prime Murderer feel that was an act of terrorism? Would he feel so if Palestinians simply destroyed those reservoirs? Israelis do this to Palestinians on a regular basis.

If Palestinians, in specially-equipped trucks, drove to a neighborhood elementary school, and sprayed sewage all over the school, adjacent residential buildings, and any people who couldn’t run out of the way quickly enough, would he object to that as terrorism? Palestinians suffer under this treatment from Israelis.

So, perhaps, in the twisted little mind of Mr. Netanyahu, it is only Israelis who can be victimized; after all, he will readily tell you, remember the Holocaust! Never again! Oh, that means ‘never again’ to Israelis; such crimes against others are just fine.

+ Kerry, according to the Prime Murderer, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East”. One key element of democracy is this: “Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” We have already mentioned roads that only Israelis can drive on. Also, non-Israelis in the judicial system have a separate set of rules. For people living under occupation, this includes arrest without charge; indefinite detention; no access to lawyers or family; lack of medical treatment, among others. Israelis, of course, cannot be arrested without charge, or held indefinitely.

They have immediate and unfettered access to lawyers and family, and any medical needs they may have are fulfilled.

Another key element is freedom of speech and press. Israel glories in this freedom, as long as no one says anything critical of the state.

Democracy, indeed!

We have, perhaps, saved the best for last. Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr, Kerry:
+ “Obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. The Prime Murderer sounds like the bratty child in the school yard who, when asked why he struck another child, says “because he hit me back”. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force is occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful nations in the world, back by the most powerful. Mr. Netanyahu says that Palestine refuses to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (how that concept squares with the idea of democracy has never been adequately explained to this writer), and that is key to the conflict. Yet Israel is slowly, although with increasing speed, annexing all of Palestine, with the ultimate goal of annihilating it, wiping it from existence, and replacing it with Israel.

With the election of the clown-like Mr. Trump as president of the U.S., there will no longer be any pretense that the U.S. is a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has said that Israel can build all the settlements it wants, and his political appointees are all in favor of destroying Palestine, as demanded by the wealthy and generous Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (Apartheid Israeli Political Affairs Committee) chief among them. Yet the recent vote in the U.N. Security Council shows international support for Palestine. Perhaps, just perhaps, with Mr. Trump as president, the rest of the world will recognize that it must act for the Palestinian people. Mr. Trump’s election, although an overall disaster for the world, may have a silver lining, if it motivates the global community to act for justice in Palestine.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm