Posts Tagged ‘racism’

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Israeli soldiers involved in the attacks on Gaza at the start of this year claim that they were ordered to fire, regardless of the risk to civilians. Israel banned journalists from its invasion of Gaza in December and January, making it hard to verify allegations of indiscriminate firing, the use of phosphorous bombs, and forcing Palestinians to be human shields. Now an Israeli human rights group has produced a disturbing account of what it says happened in Gaza, as told by soldiers.

This Channel 4 clip is already a few days old but it’s good to get a reminder of how the anti-Semitic Nazi State of Israel operates (even though I find it hard to cope with having to listen to Mark Regev).

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Excellent interview with Chuck D and his wife Gaye Theresa Johnson. It raises to our awareness the importance of black radical politics and black activism for a history that is not America’s as white liberals claim, but that is that of the black people in that country. Obama might be a symbol of that struggle, but neither does he acknowledge the roots of the wave that swept him to the presidency nor is he part of that tradition. He might still be subject to racism, but being the product of Ivy League education and identifying himself with the conservative Democratic political structure, he never was or will be part of that political struggle that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcom X and many others represented.

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The following New York Times article talks about employment inequality in New York, but it also mentions that that city reflects a nation-wide trend – just much more extreme. In the year ending April 30, Whites in New York gained about 130,000 jobs over the previous 12 months while Blacks, Hispanics and Asians lost 61,000 jobs during the same period. Employment fell by about 17,000 jobs for Blacks, 26,000 jobs for Hispanics and 18,000 for Asians and other ethnic groups, the data show. And what does the black US president do about this inequality? Nothing – apart from promising to strengthen the economy at large.

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Roger Richardson, 47, left his sales job at Home Depot in June to look for work after his hours were cut by more than half (Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

Job losses show wider racial gap in New York

By PATRICK McGEEHAN and MATHEW R. WARREN

Unemployment among blacks in New York City has increased much faster than for whites, and the gap appears to be widening at an accelerating pace, new studies of jobless data have found.

While unemployment rose steadily for white New Yorkers from the first quarter of 2008 through the first three months of this year, the number of unemployed blacks in the city rose four times as fast, according to a report to be released on Monday by the city comptroller’s office. By the end of March, there were about 80,000 more unemployed blacks than whites, according to the report, even though there are roughly 1.5 million more whites than blacks here.

Across the nation, the surge in unemployment has cut across all demographic lines, and the gap between blacks and whites has risen, but at a much slower rate than in New York.

Economists said they were not certain why so many more blacks were losing their jobs in New York, especially when a large share of the layoffs in the city have been in fields where they are not well represented, like finance and professional services. But in those sectors, the economists suggested that blacks may have had less seniority when layoffs occurred. And black workers hold an outsize share of the jobs in retailing and other service industries that have been shrinking as consumers curtail their spending.

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There’s nothing clean about the business of politics, and certainly ethics play no part part in it – unless they can be exploited for personal gain. Julia Gillard, this slow-speaking nasty piece of Labor conservatism, camouflaging as deputy prime minister of Australia (hard to believe she’s been a student activist once representing the political left), presented yet another example for political sanctimoniousness with her phony stance on Palestine and her fervent defence of Israel’s fascist practices against the Palestinian people.

It always amazes me how the politicians of the West are able to manage to twist their thoughts and mangle their speech in face of overwhelming evidence of Israel’s blatant violations of international law and acts of barbarism against unarmed civilians – from cold blooded murder to depriving their victims of such basics as a roof over their heads, food on their table (if they still have one left) or medicines for their hospitals. Not speaking out against such brutal savagery leave alone defending it makes people like Gillard undoubtedly an accomplice of the Israeli regime and its crimes against humanity.

The following op-ed puts Gillards politics and values in the context of Israel’s war crimes and recent acts of piracy on the high seas.

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Politicide or politic: Gillard and the Gaza muzzle

Jake Lynch
Sydney Morning Herald

Days after the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was greeted in Israel and thanked for having been “alone in sticking by us” during Operation Cast Lead, the attack on the Gaza Strip in December and January, the Jewish state added piracy to its list of recent crimes against international law. The two developments are connected, and not just by coincidence of timing.

Israel sent six military vessels to seize a ship, the Spirit of Humanity, sailing from Cyprus with relief supplies for the people of Gaza, and arrested – no, make that abducted – 21 people on board, including the Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. After a week in detention, they were released and deported.

At no time did the Spirit enter Israeli waters, so Israel’s action could be deemed piracy under the definition of the International Maritime Bureau: “The act of boarding any vessel with an intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”. At least it amounts to an infringement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which reserves the high seas for “peaceful purposes”.

The Spirit’s three-tonne cargo included medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Greece, whose flag the ship was flying, has asked for its return, and Israel says some of the goods on board may be passed on to Gazans for whom they were intended, “subject to security clearance”. For now, it is forcibly keeping them from their rightful owners.

The international jurist Richard Falk, who has served as UN Human Rights Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, points out that this compounds an existing and ongoing violation of international law. The boat set sail in response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which, Falk says, contravenes Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits any form of collective punishment of an occupied people.

A study of the transcripts of Ms Gillard’s speeches and interviews, from her recent trip to Israel and Ramallah, reveals that the word “Gaza” did not once pass her lips. Challenged by a reporter to say whether she believed Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was “fair and just”, she avoided the question and retreated into platitudes: “We are concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people”.

This amounts to connivance with what the late Israeli political scientist Baruch Kimmerling called “politicide”: Israel’s desire to have the outside world forget Palestinian political aspirations to self-determination, and regard their struggle in purely humanitarian terms.

Gillard’s don’t-mention-Gaza stance puts Australia further into Israel’s camp than any other country, including the United States. Cynthia McKinney, the former US congresswoman who was on the ship, points out that President Barack Obama called the blockade “unjust” and urged its lifting, so she, as an American citizen, was attempting to carry out his wishes.

The European Union responded to Cast Lead by shelving plans to upgrade its trading relations with Israel, and even ASEAN, through the Heads Statement of its 14th summit, identified Israel’s attack as the cause of a humanitarian crisis, and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Gillard, standing in for the Prime Minister at New Year, characterised the onslaught as no more than Israel exercising its “right to defend itself” against Hamas. Hamas, she told her questioners in the Middle East, would first have to “renounce violence” if it wanted to qualify as a partner in any peace process sponsored by the “quartet” of the UN, EU, US and Russia.

The home-made rockets that Hamas militiamen fired into Israel were indiscriminate weapons, and the 20 or so deaths they caused over several years are war crimes, but all independent observers have pointed out the obvious – that pales into insignificance when compared with the impact of Israel’s high-tech weaponry, which claimed 1300 lives, mostly civilians and including 400 children, and injured thousands. No stipulation from Australia, then, that Israel must also renounce violence as a precondition to have its views heard at the top table.

Israel is aware of acting within the scope allowed by international political opinion: it does what it believes it can get away with. The unexpected firmness of the White House on settlement-building had constrained its room for manoeuvre. Gillard paid lip service to a settlement freeze and a two-state solution – but her visit as the leader of a large delegation, her demeanour and above all her refusal to condemn Israeli lawlessness or call for it to cease, all conspired to send the opposite signal.

Thousands of people whose homes Israel destroyed are still without shelter, says the International Committee of the Red Cross, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

It is this situation that the passengers and crew of the illegally seized vessel were trying to remedy. They have vowed to send more boats. Israel should let them pass, and Australia should say so.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch is director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

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Interview with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

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On June 30, an unarmed boat, named “Spirit of Humanity,” carrying 21 international peace activists was seized in international waters by the Israeli Navy, as it attempted to sail from Cypress to Gaza with relief supplies and messages of solidarity for Palestinians living in Gaza. Israel says the boat had been boarded for security reasons in the area of the blockade, after it had entered into Gaza’s coastal waters. According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report released June 29, the Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s December/January invasion and air attacks are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in international aid, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building materials into Gaza. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel’s disruption of medical supplies.

Since August 2008, the Free Gaza Movement has organized eight sea missions, successfully landing in Gaza on five separate occasions. On two earlier voyages, Israeli Occupation Forces used violence to stop the ships, physically ramming and almost sinking the boat named “Dignity,” in December 2008, and threatening to fire on and kill unarmed passengers in January.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist who was on board one of the boats last fall that arrived successfully in Gaza. She spent most of the next several months there, and was in Gaza during part of the Israeli winter offensive and served on the support team from Cypress for this most recent voyage of the Spirit of Humanity, whose passengers included former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire. Butterly explains exactly what happened in the June 30 seizure.

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: Probably at 12 today it was clear that what had been sort of quite general threats made by the Israeli navy over the course of the whole morning were becoming much more serious. At about 3 o’clock, the boat was boarded by Israeli navy commandos. They took possession of the boat, looks like confiscated the phones of those on board, and proceeded to tow the boat to Ashdod, and the activists who were on the boat were split off into different groups and taken on navy vessels to Ashdod as well.

The boarding of the boat was done in international waters. The boat was blocked in international waters and the navigation system — radios, etc. — of the Spirit of Humanity had been jammed for hours, which is extremely dangerous, to jam the navigation system of a boat obviously places it in a very vulnerable position. But the activists — we got a text from them — are okay, they’re safe. They’re obviously very frustrated, but they’re okay and they’re presently being interrogated in four different police stations around Ashdod and Ashkelon, and it looks like they’ll be deported tonight or in coming days, some of them out through Allenby Bridge out across Jordan and others through Ben Gurion airport.

BETWEEN THE LINES: And what about the boat?

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: The boat — it looks like there’s a possibility the captain and crew might be able to sail it, probably with military — I’m not sure if escort is the right word – but yes, out to Cypress. The activists will be deported, it looks like, back to their home countries. And we’re hoping we’ll manage to get the boat back quite quickly. The Lebanese boat that was attacked in January is still being impounded by the Israelis, so we’re hopeful we can get the boat back sooner rather than later, and obviously that everybody who was on board from the 11 different countries who came to participate in this siege-breaking initiative, returned safely to their families. Among those participating was quite a large delegation from Bahrain of different women from different humanitarian organizations. There were folks from the States, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Jamaica, Palestine, etc., so it was quite a diverse group of people from diverse backgrounds, but completely united in the mission and the belief that the time for demonstrations and petitions and perhaps the more traditional ways we have to resist this occupation, they’re not over, but it’s really necessary to up the ante. And we feel that taking direct action in resisting these policies of collective punishment and the hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip — these sort of actions and activities need to spread and more people need to get involved. I know there’s a North American initiative coming up in a few days –Viva Palestina — U.S. convoy, and, again, that’s a great embodiment and symbol, I think, of the outrage and solidarity and dissent that so many people in the world feel, watching the daily oppression and brutalization of the Palestinian people.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Caoimhe Butterly, the Israeli military seized the boat in international waters, but did they give any explanation? Did they claim the boat was in their territorial waters?

CAOIMHE BUTTERLY: All three attacks that happened on a variety of boats — the Lebanese boat, the Dignity in January, and now the Spirit of Humanity — have happened in international waters. Generally, the Israelis only pretext for this is either that we were told we were entering a closed military zone. They said they had a duty and a responsibility to stop us, that we had given them false information, that we were going somewhere else and then tried to enter Gaza, etc. Regardless of the very well publicized pullout of settlers from the Gaza Strip, the Gaza Strip remains — and I think it’s a semantic question of whether it’s occupation or siege — but whatever it is, it results in the collective punishment and humiliation and degradation of a captive population, so the Israelis control not only the sea, but the air space, the borders, etc. And Gaza is completely locked down, and it’s in that context that the responsibility we have to act is pretty big. I think a lot of us feel as Westerners that we come from countries that finance this occupation. We come from countries where multinationals and our own governments profit off of the blood of the Palestinian people. In that context, it’s so important, I think, that we embody an alternative face of the West — one of compassion and solidarity and humanity. And one of action. It’s really, really time to act.

Interview with Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish solidarity activist, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

For more information, and ways to contact Israeli officials responsible for the boat seizure, visit the group’s website at www.freegaza.org.

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Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 45 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending July 10, 2009. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.

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The Chinese government has accused Uighur exiles of inciting violent protests in Urumqi in the western province of Xinjiang. But many ethnic Uighurs blame Beijing for systematically destroying their culture and identity. Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri explores the tense relationship between Uighurs and China’s leaders.

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Israeli settlement construction, including “natural growth” makes an advancement of two-state solutionimpossible, and Israel knows that – which is why they continue with the settlments’ expansion. So far they already have annexed 50% of the Westbank; their aim therefore can only be to incorporate the whole of this Palestinian land into Israel and ‘cleanse’ it of its Palestinian population. And the US does what she always does: pay lip service to the rights of the Palestinian people.

Via theREALnews network