Make the Choice: Wall Street or Society

Make the Choice: Wall Street or Society

from Glen Ford’s blog by Glen Ford
Wed, 05/16/2012 – 12:19 — Glen Ford
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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The liberal reformers are once again talking about tinkering with Wall Street’s economic and political stranglehold on society. “The reformist debate accepts the inevitability of private capital as the engine of economic – and, therefore, social – development.” The truth is, Wall Street needs derivatives to generate the “windfalls and mega-scores to keep the decaying system going.” But, does society need Wall Street? Hell no!


Make the Choice: Wall Street or Society

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Together, the top rung of ‘too big to fail’ institutions accounts for 56 percent of the U.S. economy.”

Left-liberals are in a huff, demanding another shot at reforming finance capital, perhaps through “breaking up” the five (or maybe, 20) biggest banks. They might as well prescribe a regimen of behavioral modification to fight Stage IV cancer.

The rehash of reformist debate is occasioned by news that JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, lost at least $2 billion betting in the derivatives casinos. President Obama feigns shock at the very idea that an institution with derivatives “exposures” of $70 trillion – larger than the gross planetary product of Earth! – has been caught, heaven forbid, “making bets in these derivative markets.” Since Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is, in Obama’s estimation, “one of the smartest bankers we got,” who knows what the less intelligent honchos at the other behemoth banks might be up to? Together, the top rung of “too big to fail” institutions accounts for 56 percent of the U.S. economy: $8.5 trillion in assets, last year, out of a GDP of about $15 trillion. Throw in the rest of the top 20 banks, all of which are “unsafe and unsound,” according to economics law professor William K. Black, of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the great bulk of the U.S. economy is in “unsafe and unsound” hands. These same hands politically control the State, to protect and further facilitate their “unsafe and unsound” practices.

The great bulk of the U.S. economy is in ‘unsafe and unsound’ hands.”

Does “breaking up the banks” solve the problem? No, not unless the whole class of gamblers and thieves is removed from centrality in the national and world economy – and, thereby, the political process – and their derivatives abolished. But, don’t tell that to Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation. In the magazine’s current issue, she swears by Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bill to cap the size of individual banks at 10 percent of “the market” and stop them from “racking up non-deposit liabilities of more than 2 percent of the GDP.” Others, like Rolling Stone’s Mike Taibbi, would allow the bankers tocontinue to bet, but not with depositors’ funds or “free” money from the Federal Reserve discount window.

Here is the historical truth: at this late stage of capitalism, the financial class desperately needs to gamble on derivatives and manipulate markets on a huge scale in order to survive. The old, tried and true law of diminishing returns on investment, combined with the global rise of economic powers beyond their ability to control, caught up with the Lords of Capital some decades ago. Wall Street invented derivatives so that the big boys, the only ones equipped to play – and, therefore, rig – trillion-dollar games, could generate sufficient windfalls and mega-scores to keep the decaying system going. “Productive” investment – the kind that creates good jobs in mature capitalist societies – no longer sufficed to keep Wall Street’s speculative pumps primed.

Take away their ability to craft exotic mega-wagers, create “markets” and “bubbles” out of “notional” capital, and to organize vast waves of leveraged funds, protected by law and/or the armed might of the U.S. and its imperial partners, and finance capital ceases to function. Which would be a very good thing, if societies put in place public investment institutions capable on their own of financing growth and structural renewal. But that requires the displacement – the overthrow – of private capital from the “commanding heights” of the economy and national polity.

“’Productive’ investment – the kind that creates good jobs in mature capitalist societies – no longer sufficed to keep Wall Street’s speculative pumps primed.”

Otherwise, there is no choice but patchwork reforms that hardly slow, and may even accelerate, the consolidation of Wall Street’s power – such as has occurred since the meltdown of 2008. Political power does not flow from the barrel of a gun; it flows from control of the economy, which buys State Power and the guns that go with it.

This is the lesson that movements such as Occupy Wall Street must learn, or be ultimately waylaid and demoralized. You cannot “regulate” the behavior of Tyrannosaurus Rex while he still has the size and teeth to kill you at will. The T-Rex, here, is a class that, even if chopped into many Velociraptors, will still dominate the societal jungle if they are not removed from dominion over the economy.

The reformist debate accepts the inevitability of private capital as the engine of economic – and, therefore, social – development. It seeks to hem in the T-Rex with fences of string or transform the beast into lots of vicious, smaller killers, without removing them as a class from the top of the food chain, and replacing them with public capital to create jobs and a better society. In the end, such tinkering reforms require the T-Rex’s permission to be enacted, resulting in diversionary drivel like the Dodd-Frank bill, which did nothing to slow down JP Morgan Chase and its fellows.

In point of fact, derivatives are now estimated at $600 trillion, world-wide, most of them held by the five biggest U.S. financial institutions. (This figure does not count the unknown number and notional value of wholly unregulated credit “swaps” between corporations.)

Hedge funds should be allowed to continue to engage in grand speculation, say the left-liberals – as if massed, purely speculative capital is not horrifically destructive. Ask the Europeans, whose nation-states are being mauled by hedge funds and savaged by derivatives, mutations of a decaying and predatory class that clings to life through pure speculation, producing nothing but chaos.

The enemy has been named: Wall Street. It must be destroyed and replaced by public (people’s) power. That’s the politically sophisticated solution – and the only one.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted

Posted in Finance Capital, Financial Crisis, Revolution | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Re-visiting Assange’s show

Re-visiting Assange’s show

It’s fruitful to compare his show’s first six episodes to the tripe emanating from American political television


  • (Credit: AP Photo)

When it was announced last month that the Kremlin-backed network RT would broadcast a new show from Julian Assange, American media figures predictably erupted with mockery and scorndespite not having seen a single episode (nobody provokes the animosity of America’s establishment media class more than those who meaningfully challenge American government power). Since Iparticipated in the ensuing debate, I thought it would be worthwhile briefly to review the six programs Assange has now produced and let everyone decide for themselves how these programs compare to the criticisms voiced and, more generally, to the quality, substance, and range of debate from America’s cable and network news programs. Here are the first six episodes:

Episode 1: An interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the first in many years given by the controversial and powerful figure, regarding the Arab Spring, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Hezbollah’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (support which Assange vehemently criticized even though the Russian government also supports that regime).

Episode 2debate between Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian sociologist, philosopher and former anti-communist dissident who turned communist, and right-wing neocon fanatic (and former communist) David Horowitz, on a wide range of global political issues, including ecomonic globalization and Israel’s behavior in the world.

Episode 3An interview with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, a former human rights activist who is that country’s first post-revolution leader. Marzouki spoke about the double standards and hypocrisy of the West in his region, the solitary confinement to which he was subjected by the prior regime and the reasons he considers that to be torture, and the challenges he and other Arab Spring leaders face in eliminating human rights abuses and transforming the region.

Episode 4: discussion with two key Arab Spring leaders, Egypt’s Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Bahrain’s Nabeel Rajab, about the imperative of overthrowing oppressive regimes, how that can best be done, and the substantial challenges that remain in the effort to bring basic liberties to their countries.

Episode 5: An interview with former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, along with an activist for current detainees, human rights lawyer Asim Qureshi, regarding “the plight of Muslims in the post 9/11 world, the thin line between terror and self-defense, and how Obama has ushered in an era where ’extra-judicial killing’ has replaced ’extra-judicial detention’.”

Episode 6 (today): A sweeping discussion with Ecuador’s U.S.-educated-economist President Rafeal Correa, about the fight to stabilize democracy in that country, the 2010 coup attempt he faced, the role of corporate media in advancing elite interests, his efforts to protect Ecuadorian environmental resources while growing its economy, the way in which transparency brought about by WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables was beneficial for Ecuador (“We have nothing to hide. If anything, the WikiLeaks [releases] have made us stronger”), and the reason he closed the U.S. base in his country (“Would you accept a foreign military base in your country? It’s so simple, as I said that at the time, there is no problem in having a US military base in Ecuador but ok, perfect – we can give permission for the intelligence base only if they allow us to install an Ecuadorian base in the United States, a military base. That’s it, no more problem”).

Would someone learn more, be more informed about the world, from watching these episodes as opposed to, say, a standard American cable news program? Which is doing a better job of fulfilling the key journalistic functions of airing otherwise suppressed perspectives, highlighting highly consequential issues that are otherwise ignored, and shining a light on the world’s most powerful political factions? To ask the questions is to answer them. It’s also to explain why there is such intense animus toward Assange and WikiLeaks generally from America’s media stars.

Posted in Julian Assange, Mainstream Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Interior Minister’s call to expel African immigrants, in context

The Interior Minister’s call to expel African immigrants, in context

from Mondoweiss by Paul Mutter

Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s most recent remarks on African immigrants, calling for their expulsion and painting all of them (both refugees and migrant workers) as a criminal element in Israeli society, don’t seen to be drawing much censure. Yishai is getting criticism from the Israeli police, but not for his bombast: Yediot Ahronot reports that the police inspector-general and one of Netanyahu’s confidants are criticizing Yishai over the crime rate in South Tel Aviv – often blamed on African residents – and the two men promised that the government would devote more money to enforcing border controls and enforcing laws that prohibit hiring undocumented workers.

Yishai has a strong track record of racist anti-refugee remarks. As David Sheen reported from the Ramle Conference last month – at which some of Israel’s most right-wing politicians (Michael Ben-Ari, Danny Danon) and rabbis (Dov Lior) came together to discuss immigration and Israeli Arab “demographics” – no one in the Knesset opposition or Yishai’s own coalition seemed to much mind the minister’s suggestion about “reverse ransoming” Africans back to their homelands. It’s not surprising; the Jerusalem Post says that when Bibi’s man toured South Tel Aviv with the police inspector-general, he told crowds that African migrants should be given “1000 shekels and [a] plane ticket out.” Yishai himself had earlier told Army Radio “they should be put into holding cells or jails,” “and then given a grant and sent back.” Bibi himself was a bit more restrained, of course: “if we don’t stop the problem, 60,000 infiltrators are liable to become 600,000, and cause the negation of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Those who have demonstrated in Tel Aviv against African refugees chant such slogans as “Eilat for the Eilatis, Sudan for the Sudanese.” These slogans and chants provide a grim preface for the April firebombings in South Tel Aviv targeting African residents. A second firebombing, also targeting African residents, occurred two weeks ago, and led to major demonstrations both in support of and against the presence of African residents.

The Ramle conference proceedings, like the speeches given this week calling for the deportation of all African refugees, illustrates the “demographic threat” fears among rightist Israeli Jews that they will one day be outnumbered by non-Zionists, and that the political left will sell the country’s Zionism and territory out in a “political correctness” drive (Yisahi reportedly made reference to “refugee aid groups and Anarchists” seeking to “flood” Israel with African refugees at Ramle).

These fears, stoked by politicians in South Tel Aviv, has helped catapult the district’s racial tensions into the context of decades-old Cabinet-level discussions about how to deal with the country’s Arab population. Netanyahu himself in 2003 coined the phrase “demographic threat” to refer to the Arab population inside the Green Line.

As the infamous Koenig Memorandum, commissioned by the Israeli Interior Ministry after the first Land Day demonstration (1976) shows, a faction of officialdom, “left” and “right,” has been weighing these concerns for decades.

In the report, it becomes clear that armed infiltrators from Egypt, Syria and Jordan are no longer the existential threat post-1973; Arab youth with deferred aspirations and large family rates are, especially when they identify with “Arab” refugees living in Israel’s neighboring countries. Koenig says the “the Jews appointed to take care of this population” have failed in their task; they have neither integrated nor placated Palestinian Israelis. So despite all of the control mechanisms advocated over Arab Israelis, the report also addresses the “hostility” Jewish Israelis feel towards Palestinian citizens and the leadership failures alienating a fifth of the population.

The fear that this hostility will boil over into sectarian violence underlies the whole analysis; the 1976 Land Day is considered a watershed for future flashpoints, with Koenig assessing that the “Arabs” have lost their “fear,” have gained a national consciousness – become Palestinian, in effect, though he did not use that word – and will be able to win international victories through strikes and protests in Israel. Since Land Day has assumed such a place in both Israeli and Palestinian historiography and activism, Koenig was indeed prescient.

And having spent 12 years overseeing internal security measures in Galilee, Koenig was clearly convinced he was sitting atop an ethnic powder keg.

The advisory report (it was never officially adopted) caused a huge scandal when it was leaked to the press. Koenig urged the government to offer special treatment for Arab Israelis in some regards, notably education, but said the government had to quietly dilute their communities through expanded Jewish settlement in Nazareth and Acre. Koenig was also deeply suspicious of any “equal rights” proposals coming from the Israeli left or Palestinian community, arguing that should these demands arise, they will surely be dictated to people in Israel by the PLO and the Arab leaders of the Communist Party of Israel.

The “equal rights” worries then are particularly illuminating today. I said that there was a fear among rightist Israeli Jews of being outnumbered by non-Zionists. I said “non-Zionists” and not “non-Jews” because the right feels besieged not simply by Africans and Arabs; Muslims, or even Christians, but also by Israeli Jews who do not fit their strict definition of Zionism. As Haaretz’s Merav Michaeli opined in 2010, “‘them’ can be Arabs or foreigners, but most of the time they are secular Jews – the Israeli majority.” Some even sincerely believe the furtherest-right neoconservative line that the whole “Western world” will become a “Eurabia,” that “dhimmitude” under Muslims will be self-inflicted by secularists.

This is why there is an academic blacklist in settler circles with names like Ilan Pappe and Neve Gordon on it. This is why Zochrot’s activists were corralled by police for a public Nakba commemoration. This is why Rabbis for Human Rights, Anarchists Against the Wall and Yesh Gvul are also feared and condemned, utterly dismissed as hateful radicals. All of their actions, even when people in those groups support a two-state solution, hint at political alternatives in Israel to the Occupation, alternatives to that “third choice” few Israeli Jews wish to grapple with for fear of what will come in a “state for all its citizens.” After all these years of war, expulsion, terrorism and discrimination, the Israeli right sees only a future of Balkanization, of the interwar Hebron Ghetto, of Dolphinarium suicide bombings and a Third Intifada.

The only long-term solution such individuals can see are population transfers of Palestinians to Egypt and Jordan, and “limited” rights for those who would elect to remain in newly-annexed Judea and Samaria. Yet few want to think past the Occupation’s unsustainable status quo argue Noam Sheizaf and David Shulman. Because, as Shulman wrote in the NYRB this month, “we’ve been so traumatized, first by our whole history and then by the history of this conflict, that we want at least an illusion of security.”

So given the present discussion over Arab Israelis’ national service exemptions, Likud’s renewed emphasis on holding onto settlement blocs past the Green Line for security reasons and deep suspicion among rightist politicians and activists for “left-wing” politicians and activists who associate with the likes of J Street or the European Commission, Koenig’s thinking continues to occupy an integral place among in Israeli politics.

David Sheen and Larry Derfner have noted in their reporting on South Tel Aviv that the neighborhoods being hit by these attacks, and protests in support of and against African residents, are in areas of the city where many Sephardi (“Spanish”) and Mizrahi (“Arab”) Jews reside alongside African migrants who arrived illegally through Egypt, creating tensions between marginalized groups since the Sephardi and Mizarhi, like the “Russian” Jews who constitute most of Yisrael Beiteinu’s leadership – face discrimination from the Ashkenazi Jewish majority and have built their political parties up in response to such bias.

Last year, a friend of mine, Sean O’Neill reported from Ashkelon that while meeting with Palestinian migrant workers, he also met with a group of African refugees who “came illegally, through the Sinai desert, running the risk of being imprisoned or shot. Ali, from Sudan, was caught six years ago in the Negev after entering Israel from Egypt with the help of Bedouin smugglers.” Derfner explained back in 2010 how the local politics of racial tensions and economic non-opportunities play out when discussing the estimated 50,000 plus African refugees in Israel who’ve come from conflict zones in Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia:

Leading them is Shlomo Maslawi, a Tel Aviv city councilman with Likud and Hatikva’s long-time political leader. Gathered in a meeting room in the neighborhood cultural center during the evening hours before the recent World Cup final, Maslawi and the residents never refer to the Sudanese and Eritreans as “refugees” or “asylum- seekers,” but as “infiltrators” – the term also used by Israeli officials – or, most often, as “kushim,” which can mean anything from “blacks” to “niggers.”

Hatikva [neighborhood in South Tel Aviv] is lower-middle-class, mainly Sephardi, rightwing, traditionally religious and socially conservative, and residents at the meeting also use the term “they” to mean the people who try to help the asylum-seekers.

“They,” in this case, include well-to-do, liberal, Ashkenazim of North Tel Aviv such as Mayor Ron Huldai and councilwoman Yael Dayan, “bleeding hearts” who demonstrate against expelling the foreigners, and liberal NGOs such as the New Israel Fund.

Shlomo Maslawi was one of the featured speakers at the Ramle Conference. And Eli Yishai, along with his political party, Shas, are also “rightwing, traditionally religious and socially conservative” in a culture dominated by “secular white men” (Yishai is Mizrahi and Haredi, an “ultra-Orthodox”). These intersectarian tensions within Israeli society run deep, and account for much of the rhetorical venom.

Immigration critics at that conference used sexually-charged language in calling for deportations. This climate suggests that news of a gang rape allegedly committed by African residents in Tel Aviv, which has been front page news all last week in Israel, will likely only inflame the refugee debate. Further demonstrations against African residents are almost guaranteed. The ARDC, an advocacy group for African refugees, warned that “Yishai remarks lead to rising tensions and hatred towards volunteers,” and following his remarks, death threats have come in to a group called Hotline for Migrant Workers.

Though Sheen has reported that despite Yishai’s bombast and the anti-refugee campaign being waged by some Tel Aviv officials and organizations like Fence for Life, there are Israeli activists who will stand up to this baiting. Unfortunately, his reporting from Ramle shows what a tough crowd they’re working – and not just at that conference. The refugee advocates are clearly in the minority nationally, and at Ramle, they were apparently not challenging the equally abrasive remarks being made about Arab Israelis by other speakers. For those who did speak up “for” the refugees, they apparently felt obligated to stress their “Zionist credentials” – as though being a refugee advocate automatically made one post-Zionist or “anti-Israel” – and emphasize that African migrants were generally “hard-working.”

Is that an example of a paternalistic defense? Yes, but this was not a crowd of politicians and polemicists willing to let the refugee advocates set the tone of the debate along more universalist human rights arguments, for Arab Israelis or African residents. Those arguments carry weight when brought up among the internationalist left – the conflated (and hated) North Tel Aviv council members and the NIF – they do convince the political and religious right in Israel, or in America and Europe.

Israeli journalists on Twitter have speculated that Yishai may be on his way out of the government, since Netanyahu no longer truly needs his party’s ten Knesset votes. Now that he has Kadima’s 20+ members in his new coalition, Netanyahu has much less of a need for Shas’s quarrelsome ten votes. But no one has reported any solid evidence that Netanyahu is about to ditch Yishai, or that he will face more than tepid criticism from some activists and opposition KMs for his remarks.

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In ’92, AIPAC president raised $1 million for Bill Clinton — and he supported the settlements

In ’92, AIPAC president raised $1 million for Bill Clinton — and he supported the settlements

from Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss

MJ Rosenberg explains that AIPAC’s power arises from its ability to buy politicians but this knowledge has always been suppressed. In 1988, 60 Minutes did a piece on the open bribery, Rosenberg says:

The reporter… actually had papers in hand in which AIPAC’s political director assigned amounts of money to be distributed. 

The documents 60 Minutes had was provided to them by a young staffer who worked in AIPAC’s political department. After the segment aired, she was fired and left the country.

There really is no secret about AIPAC’s directing of campaign contributions. At its annual conference in Washington, side rooms are set up where invited donors can meet the chosen candidates and commit financially. This part of the AIPAC conference is by invitation only. No reporters!

Then Rosenberg publishes a lengthy transcript of an October 1992 telephone call, in the last two weeks of the election campaign, between businessman Haim (Harry) Katz and AIPAC president David Steiner (original transcript here).

Katz evidently was concerned by AIPAC’s growing influence; and the publication of the transcript cost Steiner his job, Rosenberg says. In it Steiner repeatedly says that his political influence arises from his ability to raise money to get it to candidates in need: “you could dissipate a million dollars, but the point is to put it where it’s going to do the most.”

Here’s his bragging on cutting a deal with Jim Baker for aid to Israel:

You know what I got for, I met with [U.S. Secretary of State] Jim Baker and I cut a deal with him. I got, besides the $3 billion, you know they’re looking for the Jewish votes, and I’ll tell him whatever he wants to hear. . .


DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about.

HAIM KATZ: Such as?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: $700 million in military draw-down, from equipment that the United States Army’s going to give to Israel; $200 million the U.S. government is going to preposition materials in Israel, which Israel can draw upon; put them in the global warning protection system; so when if there’s a missile fired, they’ll get the same advanced notification that the U.S., is notified, joint military exercises—I’ve got a whole shopping list of things.

HAIM KATZ: So this is from Baker?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: From Baker and from the Pentagon.

HAIM KATZ: So, not so, not.. .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Why did he do it, you know, why did he do it? Last year I was a bum. This year I said look Jim, we’re going to fight on the F-l5s. Israel doesn’t want to fight, I said, but some people on it are going to come up on the floor of the Senate and the House and they’re going to fight. If you’ll do this, I think I can hold them back. But you’ve got to do it right away. They didn’t want to fight. I said, “You don’t want a fight before the election. It’s going to hurt Bush. We don’t want a fight before the election. We don’t want to fight at all. Why can’t we work something out?” So we cut a deal. You can’t repeat this.

HAIM KATZ: You’re right. But you met with Baker. . .


HAIM KATZ: Personally. Because you know, he’s the one who cursed, who cursed the Jews.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Of course, do you think I’m ever going to forgive him for that?

HAIM KATZ: Unbelievable. I said…

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Do you think I could ever forgive Bush for what he did September 12th a year ago? What he said about the Jews for lobbying in Washington?

Then there’s this proof that Bill Clinton supported the settlement project in 1992– one reason he was able to beat George H.W. Bush. Steiner brags that he raised $1 million for Clinton at a critical time, the beginning of his campaign. Katz keeps asking Steiner whether Clinton will support loan guarantees for the settlements, and the AIPAC president says he will. Because Clinton loves Jews and he’s made implicit promises to Steiner.

As you read this remember, This is the political climate for Clinton, George W. Bush and now Barack Obama: Clinton had AIPAC on his side, and Clinton got two terms.

And notice the talk about Clinton’s Jewish friends. This is the sociological aspect of the lobby. It didn’t trust George H.W. Bush because he didn’t have Jewish friends. Do you think George W. Bush got himself some Jewish friends? Ask Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby!

And the mention of Martin Indyk at the AIPAC-linked thinktank, the Washington Institute. Indyk of course got a big job with the Clinton administration.

HAIM KATZ: David, let me just ask you about Clinton. Honestly, what do you feel about Clinton?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Well, I’ve known Bill Clinton for seven eight years. I think he’s got to be a lot better than George Bush. . . we have a lot of people in there. But he doesn’t need money, he really doesn’t need money. I’m a trustee of the Democratic National Committee. We collected $63 million for him so far.

HAIM KATZ: Who’s collected $63 million?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign have raised $63 million.

HAIM KATZ: So they’ve already raised $63 million, so they don’t need money.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: No, we need money, like we got a guy, Byron Dorgan, in North Dakota, who’s going to be very good for us and we need money to make sure that he gets in. We’ve got people like that, because [unintelligible], whatever you give them would be a tickle on the elephant’s behind. But when you give $5,000 or $10,000 to Bob Kasten, that’s very meaningful.

HAIM KATZ: Let me ask you, I understand what you’re saying. Clinton, when Clinton first started running a year ago, did he need money at that time?


HAIM KATZ: I mean, did you help him out, ’cause that’s the time. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I personally am not allowed, as president of AIPAC, to get involved in the presidential campaign, because I have to deal with whoever wins. You know, I’ve got to go see Bush if he’s there, but I helped him, we raised over a million dollars for him in New Jersey.

HAIM KATZ: For Clinton?


HAIM KATZ: And this was when, in the beginning?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: In the beginning, yes. After he won, before the convention.

HAIM KATZ: This is before the convention?


HAIM KATZ: Okay, let me ask you, you know, T

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We’ve also raised for other guys who are running too, because they’re friends AIPAC. Harkin, the senator, you know you have to be with everybody.

HAIM KATZ: Let me ask you, [talks about getting cheated in business by Gentiles]. Let me ask you, Clinton, if he becomes, I mean what will he do for Israel, better than Bush, if he becomes, I know Bush gave you a hard time, this and that. ..

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I’II tell you, I have frienDavid Steiner AIPAC on the Clinton campaign, close associates. Gore is very committed to us.

HAIM KATZ: Right. Clinton if he, have you spoken to him?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I’ve known Bill for seven, eight years from the National Governors Association. I know him on a personal basis. I have friends AIPAC. One of my friends AIPAC is Hillary Clinton’s scheduler, one of my officer’s daughters works there. We gave two employees from AIPAC leave of absences to work on the campaign. I mean, we have a dozen people in that campaign, in the headquarters.

HAIM KATZ: You mean in Little Rock?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: In Little Rock, and they’re all going to get big jobs. We have friends AIPAC. I also work with a think tank, the Washington Institute. I have Michael Mandelbaum and Martin Indyk being foreign policy advisers. Steve Speigel—we’ve got frienDavid Steiner AIPAC—this is my business.

HAIM KATZ: I understand, David.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: It’s very complicated and the more you get into it, you’ll love it. You sound like a smart guy.

HAIM KATZ: I’m a smart guy, but I have a, maybe because I’m more orthodox than you are, I’ve had bad experiences with Gentiles. Let me ask you, you know what “tachlis” means?


HAIM KATZ: From a practical point of view, if Clinton wins the presidency, and I’m sure he will, I hope so at least, what will be the benefits to Israel better than Bush? From a very practical point . . . I mean, you just told me that Bush gave you everything you wanted. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Only, not everything, at the end, when we didn’t want the F-l5s, that’s a terrible thing.

HAIM KATZ: Selling the F-l5s? If Clinton is elected. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Let me tell you the problem with the $10 billion in loan guarantees, right? We only have the first year. We have authorization from Congress, but it’s at the discretion of the president every year thereafter, so if Bush is there, he could say, you know, use it as a club, you know. ‘If you don’t give up Syria, I won’t give you the money. If you don’t give up the Golan Heights.’ It’s at the discretion of the president. And that’s why we need a friendly president and we have Bill Clinton’s ear. I talked to Bill Clinton.

HAIM KATZ: And Bill Clinton has made a commitment that if he’s elected . . . ?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: He’s going to be very good for us.

HAIM KATZ: And he’ll go ahead with the loan guarantees?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We didn’t talk about that specifically, listen, I didn’t ask him that, but I have full confidence that we’re going to have a much better situation. He’s got Jewish friends AIPAC. A girl who worked for me at AIPAC stood up for them at their wedding. Hillary lived with her. I mean we have those relationships. We have never had that with Bush. Susan Thomases, who’s in there, worked with me on the Bradley campaign. We worked together for 13 years. She’s In there with the family. They stay with her when they come to New York. One of my officers, Monte Friedkin, is one of the biggest fund-raisers for them. I mean, I have people like that all over the country.

HAIM KATZ: So, I mean from a practical point of view. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: He’s going to be with us.

HAIM KATZ: I don’t say, this business, you say, Bush only went ahead with the loan guarantees for one year.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We only have. It’s mandatory they give us the $2 billion for one year. After that it’s subject to the discretion of the president.

HAIM KATZ: You mean the other $8 billion?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: That’s correct. On an annualized basis.

HAIM KATZ: Also, I heard that. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: They don’t have to give it to us.

HAIM KATZ: But if Clinton is elected. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC:… feel reasonably certain we’re gonna get It.

HAIM KATZ: He’s made that commitment?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Well, he said he’s going to help us. He’s got something in his heart for the Jews, he has Jewish friends AIPAC. Bush has no Jewish friends AIPAC.


DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Reagan had something . . . meshuga, but at least he had a commitment. He knew Jews from the film industry, he was one of the best guys for us. He had an emotional thing for the Jews. Bush doesn’t have it. That’s what it is really, if you have a feeling for our people, for what we believe in. Bush is, there’s a man with no principles. Absolutely no principles.

Notice this juicy bit about getting the secretary of State and national security adviser positions under Clinton:

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: We’ll have access.

HAIM KATZ: You’ll have access and you’ll have a good input into who’s secretary of state.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: I do believe so.

HAIM KATZ: And the other position is. . .

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: National security adviser.

HAIM KATZ: Those are the two critical positions.


Oh and speaking of Israel firster, here’s Steiner talking about why he’s for Al D’Amato over Robert Abrams for Senate, and why he’d go against his own brother for Israel:

HAIM KATZ: Okay, I’ll just ask you very very quickly. You know, like, in New York, you know, this is your own personal opinion, like in New York we have Abrams against D’Amato.

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: Well, let me tell you what my personal position is. Okay?


DAVID STEINER AIPAC: From a Jewish point of view, I believe in political loyalty.


DAVID STEINER AIPAC: And if someone has been good for Israel, no matter who, if my brother would run against them, I would support them because they’d been good to Israel because that’s an important message to people.


DAVID STEINER AIPAC: What I’m going to be doing for you. . .

HAIM KATZ: Now D’Amato, has he been good for Israel?

DAVID STEINER AIPAC: You couldn’t have a better . . . listen I think Abrams would be good too, but that’s not the message.


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Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi? Soaking in Blood Shed by Settlers

Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi? Soaking in Blood Shed by Settlers

settler shoots nemer asiaraJewish settler terrorist shoots Nemer Asiara in cold blood

Yesterday, in the northern West Bank, outside the village of Aserra, a Jewish settler shot a Palestinian boy who was participating in a demonstration.  Here is the picture of the assassin aiming his rifle and there is the picture of the boy after the bullet has hit its target.

Pictures like this enrage me when I think of the inane questions of liberal Zionists like Gershom Gorenberg: “Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi.”  Gorenberg makes his living off asking numbskull questions like this when the answer is staring him in the face.  The Palestinian Gandhi is pictured here soaking in his own blood.  The question shouldn’t be where is the Palestinian Gandhi. The question should be what will Gorenberg and the liberal Zionists do to stop the murder of the Palestinian Gandhis.  When will they stop blaming the Palestinians?  When will they recognize that the blame lies solely with Israel and that the timidity of the liberal Zionists allows their countrymen to continue to live under the illusion that they’ve done enough for peace and that it’s the Palestinians who haven’t.

These settlers are terrorists, but their government will not bring them to justice.  That is the crime.  That is where the Gorenbergs of the world should focus all their energy.  He should identity this settler and demand the police arrest him.  He should bring his liberal Zionist friends to the settlement and knock on the man’s door and make a citizen’s arrest (if such a thing is possible).  And if the police won’t arrest him he and his liberal Zionist friends should camp outside the police station till they do.

But it’s so much more appealing to blame Palestinians instead of looking in the mirror to see where the real problem lies.  It’s also appealing to smear critics like me by calling me an anti-Zionist in the pages of American Prospect instead of dealing seriously with the criticism.

Posted in Apartheid, Human Rights, Israel, Israeli Settlers, Palestine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning from the Irish Hunger Strikes of 1981 and the Palestinian Challenge

If you recently watched “The Iron Lady” with Meryl Streep, this is a useful reminder of who Margaret Thatcher really was.

Learning from the Irish Hunger Strikes of 1981 and the Palestinian Challenge

from Richard Falk by Richard Falk


Prefatory Note

John Hurson in Ireland has been keenly conscious of the affinities between the historic Irish hunger strike of 1981 and the ongoing Palestinian hunger strikes. He has travelled to Gaza on several occasions on humanitarian aid convoys, and is the founder of the on line Gaza TV News service. I suggested that we collaborate on an article that might recall the Irish experience, especially the parallels and the potential implications for the future of thePalestinian struggle. John Hurson ends his reflective essay with a comparison between the hardheartedness of Netanyahu and the British leader at the time, Margaret Thatcher. Although more than 30 years have passed since Bobby Sands and his nine fellow prisoners died as a result of carrying their prison protests to their ultimate point of no return.   I hope and pray that no Palestinian hunger strikers die. Their moral authority and political energy is needed to galvanize further these glimmerings of a Palestinian awakening. The impact of Khader Adnan and later Hana Shalabi, after their release from Israeli prisons is illustrative, and helps us all understand that although abusive arrest and administrative detention is the immediate cause of the hunger strikes, their agenda was always far broader than seeking personal relief. Their intention, already partially effective, was to shine a bright light of truth on the manner in which Israel has used administrative detention, as well as on broader concerns about Palestinian imprisonment more generally, and beyond this, to call attention to the unlawful and immoral denial through decades and across generations of fundamental Palestinians rights under a structure called internationally ‘occupation’ but experienced as a lethal blend of annexation, apartheid, and settler colonialism.   At this time present medical condition of at least six long-term hunger strikers has been reported to be grave for the past several days. The respected Palestinian NGO, Addameer, gave details in its May 9th release entitled “Update: Situation of Long-Term Hunger Strikers Becomes Increasingly Urgent.” Those in critical condition include Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab (74 days); Hassan Shafadi (68 days); Omar Abu Shalal (66 days); Mohammad Taj (55 days); Jaafar Azzedine (51 days).   There have been calls made for a worldwide empathy and solidarity hunger strike on Tuesday, May 15, the day that the Nabka is observed by Palestinians and their friends worldwide. I intend to make this gesture of support, and hope many others will join, and send a further message that the cause of Palestinian justice is rising to the top of the moral agenda of the peoples of the world even in the face of the awful complicity of Western governments with an intolerable situation of prolonged occupation and exile.     ********************************************************************************************           RECALLING THE IRISH HUNGER STRIKE OF 1981   By John Hurson Co. Tyrone Ireland       In 1980, 7 IRA men in the H Block prison embarked on a hunger strike seeking to re establish their political status, which the British Government had ended 4 years before. After 53 days, and the men close to death, a deal was apparently on the table from the Thatcher led British Government, and the men called of their hunger strike. In the days that followed, it became clear that there was no deal.   2 months later, another hunger strike was announced, and on March 1st, Bobby Sands began his hunger strike. As part of their strategy, different men would join at later stages. Several men would follow Bobby, and by the end of the summer, 10 men had died before the hunger strike was called off.   The prisoners had 5 demands:   1. The right not to wear a prison uniform; 2. The right not to do prison work; 3. The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits; 4. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week; 5. Full restoration of remission lost through the protest.   In the months that followed, several of the demands were met, and within 2 years, all 5.   A few weeks after Bobby started his fast, the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone died, and an election was called. A decision was made to run Bobby as a candidate in order to gain more attention to their plight, and on his 41st day on hunger strike, he was elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.   His election lit a spark where the Republican movement saw the impact of electoral success. The rise of Sinn Fein to where they are today can be traced back to this victory. Today, Sinn Fein are a major political force in Ireland, and have elected representatives in all corners of Ireland. During the negotiations that led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein played a major role. Today, Martin McGuiness is the Deputy First Minister in the Stormont Executive, and meets world leaders on a regular basis. Gerry Adams, the party leader, is an elected TD in the Irish Parliament.   There is no doubt that the hunger strike of 1981 changed things forever, not only for the prisoners in the H Blocks, but politically. The names of the 10 men are ingrained forever in Irish history, and the dark days of 1981 are now a beacon of hope for the future.   February 21st, 2012, Khader Adnan ended his hunger strike after 66 days, the same length of time Bobby Sands endured before he died on May 5th 1981. Throughout Khader’s hunger strike, he was compared to Bobby Sands, the first of ten men to die in the Hunger Strike of 1981.   Forever, the 2 men will be talked about in the same breath for their courage, determination, and in Bobby’s case, ultimate sacrifice.   At the beginning of March 1981, Bobby Sands began his Hunger Strike. He died on May 5th.   Following Bobby, Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnellMartin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty,Thomas McElwee, and Mickey Devine all died before the strike was called off.   As Khader Adnan approached the 50 day mark, I contacted Tommy McKearney and he recorded a message for Khader and his family. Tommy’s message carried a unique understanding of Khader’s condition as Tommy had gone 53 days without food in 1980.   I contacted Oliver Hughes in South Derry. Oliver’s brother, Francis, died after 59 days, and his cousin Thomas McElwee after 62. Oliver  recorded a very powerful message .   As Khader was on his 64th day, I got in contact with the family of Ray McCreesh. They sent a statement of support for Khader and his family. Ray McCreesh (61 days), died on the same day as Patsy O’Hara.(61 days)   Patsy ’s brother Tony sent a message of support  on behalf of himself, and his mother Peggy.   Mickey Devine was the last of the 10 men to die in 1981. Mickey’s children, Michael og and Louise, sent through a heartfelt message,. considering they were the same age as Khader’s children when their father died, their voices added a special meaning. Mickey Devine, (27), died on August 20th 1981   In addition to these messages, two other former hunger strikers added their voices. Pat Sheehan(55 days), and Ray McCartney  (53 days), sent a video message. Danny Morrison, who was a friend of Bobby Sands also issued a statement.   On day 66, Khader reached an agreement with the Israeli Government to end his strike on the condition that they would not renew his Administrative Detention order, and release him on April 17th.   Following Khader’s hunger strike several other prisoners followed his example, and began hunger strikes in protest at their incarceration under the Administrative Detention policy.   On April 17th, over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners initiated a mass  hunger strike. The plight of the Palestinian prisoners was set to take centre stage, and their struggle brought to the worlds attention.   In the days that followed, hundreds more joined them   Adding a voice of support for Bilal Diab and Thaer Hallahla who were on day 70 of their hunger strike, was Laurence McKeown. Before ending his fast, he had gone 70 days without food. He knew only to well the dangers facing both men, and he recorded a message of support.   Two days later, Pat Sheehan, MLA,issued a statement on behalf of Sinn Fein calling for an immediate end to Administrative Detention, and support for the prisoners.   Bilal and Thaer are on day 74 day of their hunger strike.   Ireland has a long history of the use of a hunger strike as a form of protest. It has been used for centuries. Palestinian prisoners have been inspired by Irish hunger strikes in the past, and this one is no different.   In 1981, Palestinians prisoners sent a message of support to the families of the 10 men who died. Their memory burns bright among current prisoners on hunger strike.   This hunger strike has resonated widely in Ireland. .   The voices have roared around the world, playing a pivotal role in bringing international awareness and pressure on the Israeli Government, and their treatment of Palestinian prisoners.   Historically, Ireland has had its fair share of tyrants. Amongst them, Margaret Thatcher is in a league of her own for allowing 10 Irish men to die on hunger strike before granting their 5 demands.   Judging from his past behaviour, Netanyahu, like Thatcher in 1981, is unlikely to step in to avoid having any of these Palestinian die during their hunger strikes.   Is the fuse being lit for a 3rd Intifada?

Posted in Imperialism, Ireland, Israel, Palestine | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nakba: The Ongoing Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Ethnic Cleansing

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Ted Rall: The Decider

The Decider

from Ted Rall’s Rallblog by Ted Rall

The Decider

When it comes to doling out trillions to bankrupt banks, drone-bombing houses full of civilians, and ordering the assassination hit squad that took out Osama bin Laden, Obama is decisive. When it comes to supporting the right of gays and lesbians to marry, on the other hand, his position is evolving more slowly than the crocodile.

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Trayvon Killing Reveals Unreconstructed White Nationalism on the March

Trayvon Killing Reveals Unreconstructed White Nationalism on the March

Wed, 04/18/2012 – 13:24 — Glen Ford
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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“’Shoot the Blacks’ is a winning political platform.” That’s the message brought home to African Americans by the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman’s Stand Your Ground defense. Far from a post-racial society, the U.S. is, in many ways, devolving. “So bold have the racists become, they now seek to empower white citizens in general with lethal privileges to defend white space, wherever it is claimed – a reversion to lynch law, on top of police terror.”

Trayvon Killing Reveals Unreconstructed White Nationalism on the March

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Politicians find success in marketing Stand Your Ground as freeing their constituents from prohibitions against the use of deadly force against non-whites.”

This is a moment when America should be proud,” wrote New York Times in-house Negro columnist Charles M. Blow, last Saturday, after George Zimmerman was finally charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. “America,” in Blow’s interpretation of events, “has heard the calls for justice from a Florida family.” Blow celebrates an “America” that “rose up” to do the right thing by marching in the streets and signing petitions. “With the force of public pressure at its back, the system kicked into high gear” – albeit more than 40 days after the Sanford police department had shrugged off Trayvon’s killing as an inconsequentiality. Blow acknowledges that Zimmerman still might not go to trial, and could be acquitted under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Nevertheless, he says, “satisfaction must be taken in the fact that the system recognized the value of Trayvon’s life and the tragic circumstances of his death.”

In this fawning and grateful Negro’s view, “America” has acquitted itself well.Having credited the whole of “America” and “the State of Florida” for taking “up the cause of the dead boy,” the Timesman appends his piece with two incomplete sets of data from an ABC/Washington Post poll, to show how “Americans” assess the quality of justice in Trayon’s shooting, and the criminal justice system’s overall treatment of Blacks and other minorities.

In this fawning and grateful Negro’s view, “America” has acquitted itself well.”

Blow displays only the poll’s results for the combined opinions of Blacks and whites: a fictional America in which 51 percent “don’t know enough” about Trayvon’s death to have an opinion, 44 percent feel the shooting was unjustified, and 4 percent believe Zimmerman had the right to kill him. However, the full polldetails the real America, the profoundly racist society in which Blacks and whites have vastly different worldviews. The racial breakdown shows 8 out of 10 Blacks believe the shooting was unjustified, with just 19 percent saying they don’t know enough to have an opinion, while only 38 percent of whites – slightly over 1 out of 3 – are willing to call the killing unjustified, and 56 percent claim lack of sufficient knowledge.

In the real America, it was overwhelmingly Blacks, joined by a distinct minority of whites, that “rose up” for Trayvon – not a collective “nation who refused to forget him,” as Blow wrote. Blow also tagged his drooling piece with incomplete survey responses to the question, “Do you think blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system or not?” When Black and white answers are combined, 55 percent agree that non-whites are not accorded equal treatment, while 37 percent believe the system is fair. But the racial breakdown shows 84 percent of African Americans see the criminal justice system as racially biased, while slightly less than half of whites do.

Only 38 percent of whites – slightly over 1 out of 3 – are willing to call the killing unjustified, and 56 percent claim lack of sufficient knowledge.”

Blow finds the basic facts of a racially differentiated America inconvenient to his ode to the nation’s infinite powers of redemption – because it’s all a lie. What white American majorities have been collectively attempting to redeem for the past 40 years, is a White Man’s Country. That’s why they have voted Republican in presidential elections since 1968, with Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy. That’s why, in the wake of the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties, white electorates in every state put in office politicians that methodically constructed an overwhelmingly non-white Prison Gulag that now warehouses 1 out of every 4 incarcerated persons on the planet, half of them African American. That’s the essential truth of Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow, under which Blacks are criminalized as a people in order to return them to the status of a subjugated class.

The Stand Your Ground-like laws that have been enacted by more than two-dozen states are very public manifestations of unreconstructed white nationalism on the offensive. It is true that the legal templates are drawn up by ALEC, the right wing legislative collective, and the National Rifle Association. However, these are anything but backroom conspiracies. The speed with which such laws have swept much of the nation is proof that they are popular vote-getters among whites. Politicians find success in marketing Stand Your Ground as freeing their constituents from prohibitions against the use of deadly force against non-whites. “Shoot the Blacks” is a winning political platform.

What white American majorities have been collectively attempting to redeem for the past 40 years, is a White Man’s Country.”

Anybody that speaks of the U.S. as on a trajectory to a post-racial society is setting non-whites up for racist attack. Groveling Black mouthpieces for white corporate media like Charles Blow are among that group. At the top of the list is Barack Obama, whose campaign trail “Philadelphia Speech” baldly stated that racism was not endemic to American life and history, and characterized those Blacks who disagreed as having been psychologically damaged by past battles. That a Black president can be gratefully applauded by African Americans – and publicly pilloried by some whites – for deigning to acknowledge the humanity of his own, hypothetical child (“If I had son, he’d look like Trayvon”) says volumes on the devaluation of Black life in America.

Resistance to white nationalist resurgence must take many forms. It will require a movement that surpasses the mobilizations of the Sixties, which defeated de jure apartheid only to see the erection of a vast police state based on the organizing principle of racial containment and oppression. So bold have the racists become, they now seek to empower white citizens in general with lethal privileges to defend white space, wherever it is claimed – a reversion to lynch law, on top of police terror.

African American perceptions of the growing racial threat crystallized with the Trayvon Martin murder, as the groundswell of protest – most significantly, among Black youth – attests. Zimmerman’s invocation of the Stand Your Ground Law brought it all home: white electorates have put in place legal mechanisms allowing them to kill African Americans at will. It is the specter most horrifically depicted in the photo of two young Black men lynched by a jubilant mob of thousands in Marion, Indiana, in 1930. Those same folks are still out there, in numbers large enough to tear down barriers to freelance lynch law in at least half the states. Welcome (back) to America.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted

Posted in African American, Fascism, Racism | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ted Rall: Turnabout


from Ted Rall’s Rallblog by Ted Rall


Report after report about U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan quote government reports that state that “suspected militants” have been killed. Suspected of what? By whom? No one knows and no one cares. Meanwhile, there is one drone strike every four days.

Posted in Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, Mainstream Media | Leave a comment