Sunday, February 7, 2016

Europe is built on corpses

ANDRE VLTCHEK is one of this world’s greatest contemporary thinkers. A true internationalist, he does not belong to any single culture; he belongs to the entire world, a world battered by Western imperialism and capitalist fundamentalism. That is why he works relentlessly and courageously at the front lines and battlefields, as well as in the most forgotten corners of the globe; wherever he is needed and wherever our humanity is suffering, struggling and is rising to its feet. His book 'Exposing Lies of the Empire" is 822 pages long. It is perhaps the most complete, and the most comprehensive account of the last several years, during which our planet has risen up and began its struggle against the Empire and its oppression. Vltchek takes us to all the continents, to slums and palaces, to the villages bombed into the ground, and to the front lines of the revolution. It alerts and provokes, clarifies and leads forward.

His latest article is: Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder.
He comments, "Not only the West refuses to face its responsibility for, by now, the almost absolute total destruction of the world, it is also using all sorts of smoke screens and propaganda tactics to divert the attention of the people; it is spreading nihilist economic concepts, propaganda and outright lies.
It is using education as a weapon, offering scholarships to children of elites in the countries it is robbing and controlling. After being indoctrinated, they return home and continue violating their own countries on behalf of the United States and Europe. And so the vicious cycle continues!"
He continues, "The brutality of the Western Empire is unmatchable. Its cynicism is monumental!
Look at those so-called “terrorists” in Muslim countries, scarecrows that Western governments and media keep waving in front of our eyes!
Islamic culture is greatly socialist and socially oriented. After World War II, secular, socialist, revolutionary and anti-Western governments ruled the most important Muslim nations: Egypt, Iran and Indonesia.
Within two decades, the West overthrew them all, implementing fascist regimes.
It then invented the Mujahideen and injected them into Afghanistan, in order to finish with the Soviet Union.
And once it felt the need for some monumental enemy to replace Communism, it manufactured and then armed, trained and educated groups like al-Qaida, al-Nusra and ISIS.
This move served two important goals: to justify astronomical military and intelligence budgets, and to portray the Western/Christian civilization as “culturally superior”, fighting “Arab terrorist monsters”.
Of course, the great majority of the people in Europe and North America are so indoctrinated, intellectually self-righteous and defunct, that they remain blind when faced with those Machiavellian pirouettes.
For the European public, there are plenty of “good reasons” to stick to those inherently racist beliefs, and to protectionism. There are even better reasons for hiding those millions of heads in the sand!
And so it goes."
Please, click here to read his thought provoking article.

Correcting the false narrative of the Ma Ba Tha

Wirathu and his band of criminal Buddhist monks have hijacked Buddhism and poisoned the political discourse inside Myanmar. Ma Ba Tha uses the news of the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman allegedly by Rohingya Muslims in Arakan in 2012 to paint a very damning picture of the divide between "us" and "them". And such a nasty propaganda, a false one, which I must remind our readers, has worked because people are always willing to believe the worst about one's enemies if they are programmed as such. 

For too long, in the context of Burma, her various ethnic and racial groups were poisoned to hate each other, which only helped the divisive forces inside, let alone the military that ruled the fractured country with strong arms tactics and brutal strategy. Wirathu and the hateful, xenophobic monks like him were used as the willing partners to prolong this environment of hatred and intolerance against the minority Muslims, esp. the Rohingya people, and strengthen the grip of the military that ruled and other divisive forces within the country to arrest a change for the better in the political scene. 

Fortunately, even though most Muslims were barred from voting and participating in the latest election process, people inside Myanmar have spoken loud and clear. They have rejected the criminal messengers and propagators of hatred and dehumanization. 

It is high time to stop Ma Ba Tha once and for all time. This would require not only serious efforts within the movers and shakers within the poisoned society, esp. those with some authority, e.g., the NLD and various political parties that represent the very mosaic of this diverse country but also a brave intelligentsia that knows its historical role to correct the wrongs and create an environment of inclusion, tolerance and hope. 

Surely, such an endeavor is never going to be an easy one, but we can all try our best with our limited resources to make that happen, and multiply our voices as change agents for the better. 

This process can start by educating the broader public about the falsity of the very narrative that Ma Ba Tha has been exploiting to poison Myanmar. If I recall correctly, Dr. Maung Zarni was able to expose that there is no truth to the claim that the Rakhine Buddhist woman was raped and killed by Rohingya Muslim(s). He wrote that “the rape narrative of the Rakhine woman - the late Ma Thida Htwe - raped by 'Bengali men' was patently false, but spread by President Thein Sein's men the likes of Major Zaw Htay (Hmu Zaw), Colonel Ye Htut (now deputy information minister) as a trigger event to set the fire of genocidal hatred towards the Muslims. Ma Thida Htwe was NOT raped but was simply murdered - the doctor who examined her body told Ko Zaganar [a popular comedian], in no uncertain terms, that there was absolutely no evidence of rape on Ma Thida Htwe's dead body. The doctor was forced to sign the medical report which claims falsely she was raped. The rape story was spread by government agents on the social media and was used as a launching pad to start waves of mass killings against the Rohingya and the Muslims across Burma or Myanmar.” “Within a month of his death - when [Maung Thura[ Zaganar attempted to meet Htet Htet's wife,” writes Dr. Zarni in his blog, “she was found dead in a village well. How convenient!” It is believed amongst the independent analysts that NASAKA security forces killed Ma Thida Htwe and possibly Htet Htet’s wife.

As subsequent inquiries have proven most of the anti-Muslim pogroms and genocidal activities inside Burma (or Myanmar) owed their origin to the government – central and local. These crimes were sometimes scripted and often times sanctioned by the government. 

I can only pray and hope that the upcoming NLD government will take a different course than its predecessors thereby making the country a safe and secure one for all its people – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. 

Any hope for peace in the Palestine-Israel Conflict?

For many Israelis, the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 marked a grim turning point for their country. In the words of the commission set up to investigate the murder, "Israeli society [would] never be the same again. As a democracy, political assassination was not part of our culture."

In the eyes of most people, the murder ended all hope for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through the Oslo Accords and altered the course of history.

I have been quite skeptical on the prospect of a lasting peace to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since at least 1977 when the Likud Party of Menachem Begin came to power. For peace to really work, it requires justice, something that has never been in the DNA of the Zionist founders and leaders of Israel. They saw Palestine as a colonial enterprise, which was to dispossess and rob the indigenous population, one way or another. Negotiations were only ploys to justify illegal annexation and used to hoodwink the world community, and nothing else.

The more I read about Zionism the more I felt hopeless realizing that the right-wing Likudniks would never go back to the pre-1967 border and would do everything possible to hold onto the Occupied Territories, the so-called Judea and Samaria. Without those occupied territories, the dream of an Eretz Israel is incomplete. The toxic influence of Ze'ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) – the iconoclastic founder of Revisionist Zionism - loomed very high on the Likud Party.

And yet, in my heart I hoped for a miracle of sort that the bad Zionists would evolve into real human beings feeling the pain and suffering of the dispossessed Palestinians and would compromise so that the holy land can be shared by all its peoples amicably. Prime Minister Rabin presented himself as a person who seemed serious about a two-nation solution to the decades-old problem. But when he was assassinated on November 4, 1995, all such daydreams of mine faded away. I believed that the rightwing Likud politician Benjamin Netanyahu was not just a direct beneficiary of that assassination but that he had triggered the very event by creating an environment of hatred and animosity in which Rabin had to die for Bibi to shine in Israeli apartheid politics.

Recently, in early November, 20 years to the day after the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing religious extremist, Amos Gitai’s mesmerizing and disturbing new film “Rabin, the Last Day” premiered in Tel Aviv’s symphony hall — about 200 yards from the spot where Rabin was shot. According to movie reviewers, it’s no ordinary movie in the context of Israel today, not to mention the context of the Middle East and the world. It’s a mixture of drama, documentary and meticulous re-creation of Rabin’s life.

Gitai is both a living legend of Israeli cinema and a highly controversial cultural figure, and with “Rabin, the Last Day” he seized the third rail of Israeli politics with both hands. He set out to prove in his brave and provocative new film, Rabin's assassination was not just the act of one fanatic Yigal Amir, an orthodox Jew. Rather, it was the culmination of a hate campaign that emanated from the rabbis and public figures of Israel's far right, esp. the likes of Netanyahu.

As I have stated many times, Zionism has betrayed Judaism. It has created a breed of rabbis that are bigots and racists to the core. Without their blessings, Jewish terrorism or so-called vandalism against the unarmed Palestinians inside Israel would have been rare. Consider, for instance, the religious legitimacy for attacking Arabs given by the prominent rabbis at Od Yosef Chai to the hilltop youths. In their 2010 book, “The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur declared, “The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’ applies only ‘to a Jew who kills a Jew’.” It is worth recalling that up until 2013, Od Yosef Chai yeshiva received government funding and support. It has also received money from American donors.

This should come as no surprise. After all, the Likud Party of Bibi Netanyahu upholds Ze'ev Jabotinsky’s principles. Jabotinsky organized Irgun Zvi Leumi, a terrorist military organization, which fought against the British and the Arabs in the pre-partition days. He died in 1940, eight years before the birth of the Israeli state. His legacy, however, was carried on by Israel's Herut party, which merged with other right wing parties to form the Likud Party in 1973. It is also worth pointing out that Benzion Netanyahu, the current prime minister’s father, was Jabotinsky’s disciple and private secretary. The elder Netanyahu said as recently as 2009 that the Arabs’ existence “is one of perpetual war” and argued that Israel should beat back any hint of Palestinian nationalism with the threat of “enormous suffering.” He passed these poisonous beliefs on to his son Bibi Netanyahu, who like Jabotinsky, is a brutal, racist, territorial maximalist who allows no concession in his aspiration to guard the pariah Jewish state by crushing the Palestinians.

It is not difficult to understand why the peace process has been dead since Bibi came to power again. Netanyahu is opposed to the two-nation solution of the deadlock. Remember his election promise last year? He vowed to increase construction in the Occupied East Jerusalem, and said the city would never be divided. “We will continue to build in Jerusalem, we will add thousands of housing units, and in the face of all the (international) pressure, we will persist and continue to develop our eternal capital,” he said. He also vowed in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa (a Jewish settlement that Netanyahu helped to build during his first term as prime minister in 1997; the sprawling district now houses more than 20,000 settler residents) that Palestinian state would not be established if he was elected.

Recently, Netanyahu announced that the Israelis shall "forever live by the sword” – a Biblical phrase going back to the admonition of Avner, King Saul’s general, who cried out to King David’s general Yoav "Shall the sword devour for ever?"

Thus, under Bibi’s watch the illegal settlements for the Jewish settlers in the West Bank have become the norms rather than exceptions. As the apartheid Israeli state constructs new illegal colonies, it demolishes Palestinian homes forcing their eviction. Last Tuesday, for instance, the Civil Administration in the West Bank demolished 23 Palestinian homes and three outhouses in the southern Hebron hills villages of Jinba and Halawa. And surely, those crimes won’t be the last ones in the Jewish state!

Last month Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon approved the establishment of a new settlement inside a church compound in the West Bank, about which the U.S. state government was "deeply concerned". Jewish vandals, likely religious right-wing extremists, vandalized Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey. The Benedictine monastery abutting the walls of Jerusalem's Old City has been the target of repeated anti-Christian vandalism and in February 2015. The vandals wrote anti-Christian slogans on the edifice's walls and doors using red and black markers. These included: "Christians to Hell", "May his name be obliterated" (a supposed Hebrew acronym of Jesus' name in Hebrew), "Death to the heathen Christians the enemies of Israel", etc.

Such hostile activities, of course, are discomforting to some highly placed friends of Israel. Even the U.S. ambassador had to confess that Israel has legal double standard in West Bank. Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro said "Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked," adding that "there is a lack of thorough investigations… at times it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank - one for Israelis and one for Palestinians."

The peace process has been deadlocked since a US peace mission collapsed in April 2014. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has been a failure to make a difference. He rightly said Friday that he was "ashamed" at the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "I feel guilty, ashamed of the lack of progress," he told an event organized by the United Nations Association - UK in association with foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House in London. "Basically it's up to the leadership of Israel and the Palestinians to put an end to the conflict," he said.

UN diplomats say Ban is hoping to get peace talks moving again before he steps down as secretary-general at the end of the year.

I don't see any hope of a peaceful solution as long as the dreamers of Eretz Israel continue to control the Israeli politics and have powerful international supporters.   They know their strength and are willing to exploit such to extract further concessions from their backers. It was no accident that Jonathan Pollard, the American spy who leaked highly sensitive defense and national security info to Israel, had to be freed by President Obama in the days leading up to peace negotiations with Iran. He was serving a long prison term, until, of course, lately.  And yet, Benjamin Netanyahu was not fully satisfied. He told the World Economic Forum in Davos that his country will need more US military aid because of the nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu, whose country is the sole nuclear power in the Middle East, though it has never declared it, strongly opposed the accord and labeled it a "historic mistake." 

Israel is currently negotiating a new 10-year military aid package with Washington that it says will need to grow beyond the $3.1 billion yearly currently provided by the United States. The figure excludes US spending on projects including Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Well, with the Israel-first 'Amen Corner' placed inside the Capitol Hill the pariah state does not need too much patting on the shoulders to get what it wants. And I am sure the US government will again comply with Netanyahu's request, esp. coming as it does in an election year. All the presidential candidates in the major two parties – Republican and Democratic – from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump (let alone evangelicals and born-again Christian fundamentalist candidates) - are unabashed supporters of Israeli hegemony and Palestinian marginalization.

Thus, the prospect for a real peace in Palestine seems improbable. Truly, we may never see it in our lifetime. That is a sad commentary, but a realistic one.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rabin, the Last Day - exposes Bibi Netanyahu's culpability

I have always maintained that not only was Netanyahu a direct beneficiary of the murder of the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin but that he triggered the event by creating an environment of hatred in which Rabin had to die for Bibi to shine. 
Recently, in early November, 20 years to the day after the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing religious extremist, Amos Gitai’s mesmerizing and disturbing new film “Rabin, the Last Day” premiered in Tel Aviv’s symphony hall — about 200 yards from the spot where Rabin was shot. It’s no ordinary movie: “Rabin, the Last Day” is a disorienting mixture of drama, documentary and meticulous re-creation, and very little of it takes place on the last day of Rabin’s life. (The title ultimately takes on other meanings.) And in the context of Israel today, not to mention the context of the Middle East and the world, this was no ordinary movie premiere. Gitai is both a living legend of Israeli cinema and a highly controversial cultural figure, and with “Rabin, the Last Day” he seizes the third rail of Israeli politics with both hands.
You can find out how Bibi fed a climate of hate that killed off the last chance for peace and sparked 20 years of carnage and chaos and about the movie by clicking here


The Guardian has described Arun Kundnani as “one of Britain’s best political writers.” He writes about race, Islamophobia, political violence, and surveillance. His latest book — The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror — was published by Verso Books in March 2014. 

Click here to read h

Why Did The NYPD Spy On Me For Years? - asks a New Yorker

Mohammad Elshinawy lectures regularly on Islam and contributes to He is one of the plaintiffs in Raza v. City of New York.. His article, "I'm A Muslim, Not A Terrorist. So Why Did The NYPD Spy On Me For Years?" has recently appeared in the Washington Post. 

He writes, "A couple of weeks after I began lecturing on Islam at New York City mosques, something strange happened. Acquaintances and congregants told me they'd been approached by law enforcement officers, who asked about me and my talks. Soon after, I began to notice suspicious people in the audiences. One gentleman stood out - he was the most frequent attendee, but he regularly fell asleep while I spoke.

It was 2003. I was a student at Brooklyn College, studying English literature. I'd grown up in New York and loved the city. But I'd also seen the way Muslims were discriminated against, particularly after Sept. 11, 2001. In the year after the attacks, hate crimes spiked tenfold."

To read his story, click here.

Germany’s boogeyman - refugee rapist

Rafia Zakaria has written an article in the Al Jazeera, which discusses the recent allegations against the refugees migrating to Germany. As some of you may know, on Feb. 1, a German teenager admitted fabricating the story that she was kidnapped and gang raped by men of Arab or North African appearance in early January. Prosecutors said the 13-year-old confessed lying about the rape claim three days later when experts questioned her. She reportedly made it up to hide an incident at school from her parents.
Her allegations came less than two weeks after nearly 100 women in Cologne, Germany, reported mass sexual assaults by gangs of Middle Eastern men during a New Year’s Eve celebration. Stories of the Cologne assaults garnered international attention and aggravated German paranoia against refugees. It also triggered protests by Russian-German community and far-right groups.
Unsurprisingly, the teen’s retraction of her rape allegation received less media attention than the initial story. She writes, "But the construction of the refugee as rapist will expand and endure as a political tool for a European far-right eager to exclude foreign others and opportunistic politicians couching its misgivings about the immigration crisis in the language of feminism. The frames of political rhetoric create unfortunate choices everywhere, but in Germany the fight against misogyny is now being transformed into the exclusion and possible expulsion of desperate war refugees."
To read her article, click here.