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Ocasio-Cortez, Palestine and Occupation

A slight glimmer of hope appeared on the dismal Democratic Party horizon in June when newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated ten-term Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s fourteenth Congressional district. Outspent but not out-maneuvered, Ocasio-Cortez won the primary in a landslide.

Unlike her AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee)-owned primary opponent, Ocasio-Cortez has been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestine and Palestinians. For generations this has been a complete no-no within Democratic Party circles (as unqualified support for that apartheid nations remains an article of faith for the Republican Party), but the last several months have seen cracks in the Israeli veneer. Yet Ocasio-Cortez has been the strongest in her condemnation.

In an interview following her victory, Ocasio-Cortez was taken to task for referring to the situation in Palestine as an occupation. Her questioner demanded to know just what she meant. Admitting that she wasn’t an expert on the topic, she referred to the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Well! One would think she committed the worst kind of blasphemy known to man. Zionists everywhere are condemning her use of the vile word ‘occupation’ to describe Israel’s actions in Palestine. She is being pilloried for conceding that she wasn’t an expert on every topic under the sun, unlike so many politicians who are willing to wax eloquently and endlessly on topics about which they know nothing. And this very topic, the brutal occupation of Palestine by Israel, is one on which many of them know very little, their knowledge colored by how much AIPAC donates to them, and about which they feel free to speak.

It seems that Israel and its many Zionist (read: racist) followers are now trying to deny reality; this isn’t surprising, since U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are best buds, and Trump barely has a nodding acquaintance with reality, and Netanyahu is happy to take whatever advantage he can of Trump and the U.S. It seems that now Israel is denying that it occupies Palestine.

Let us look at the situation in the context of international law. Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations states the following: “a territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.”

Now we will look at the situation in Palestine. Israel’s army controls every aspect of life in the West Bank. Palestinians have their movements restricted; they cannot farm their fields without Israel permission, go to work without Israeli permission, attend school, visit family or friends, or generally move about without Israeli permission. Palestinians are subject to arrest and detention without charge at the whim of Israel soldiers/terrorists.

The Gaza Strip, separated from the West Bank, is completely controlled by the hostile Israeli army. It is blockaded on all sides by land, sea and air. Imports and exports are heavily restricted by Israel. It is extremely rare for a resident of Gaza to be able to leave the strip, even to visit family or friends in the West Bank.

Does this not, even to the untrained eye, look like occupation?

As long as we are looking at ugly concepts, let’s chat for a moment about apartheid. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid describes these conditions as constituting that particular crime: “… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” We will look at some of the specifics from the International Convention, and comment on them in relation to Israel and Palestine. While this is only a partial list, a review of the complete list would only enhance one’s belief that Israel is an apartheid regime.

  • “Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of

Person.”

Israeli soldiers and settlers, living illegally on stolen Palestinian land, routinely kill Palestinians. Palestinians have been shot in the back, run over by vehicles, shot while attending the wounded or reporting on Israel’s actions. Palestinians are routinely arrested and held indefinitely, often without charge.

  • “By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental

harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to

cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Where does one start? Palestinian children report physical and sexual abuse in Israel’s prisons, where they should never be in the first place. Farmers are often only granted permission to plant or harvest crops, long after the season for planting or harvesting has passed. Palestinian homes in the West Bank are raided in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, with the houses ransacked, valuable goods within them stolen, and any and all males over the age of 12 taken in to custody.

  • “Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its

or their physical destruction in whole or in part.”

In the West Bank, Palestinians are driven from their homes to make room for illegal, Israeli-only housing settlements. In the Gaza Strip, food is restricted such that Palestinians live just above starvation. Import and export restrictions cause severe unemployment, and lack of medical supplies. Periodic bombing of the Gaza Strip leaves tens of thousands of people homeless, and Israel forbids the importing of construction materials, so Palestinians are unable to rebuild.

  • “Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or

groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country.”

Israel recently passed a law declaring it a Jewish state; proposals to ensure equal rights for others living within its borders were defeated. Arabs and people of African descent living within Jerusalem are discriminated against in housing, education and employment.

  • “The deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or

groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights

and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to

education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to

freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the

right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Most of these have been covered earlier, but we will comment here on “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”. Starting in March, Palestinians peacefully protested at Israel’s border, demanding the internationally-granted right of return. Hundreds of demonstrators, including medics and members of the press, have been killed by Israeli snipers.

Perhaps Ocasio-Cortez isn’t an expert on the situation in Palestine, but that need not prevent her from speaking out against the injustices that she clearly sees. Neither should it prevent anyone from opposing arbitrary arrests of men, women and children without charge; land theft; killing with impunity and the many other crimes against humanity of which Israel is guilty.

As more and more organizations, including churches, businesses and labor unions, shun dealing with Israel; as more nations take action against its crimes, and as the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement chalks up success after success, Israel and its Zionist supports are desperate to retake the narrative that they controlled for so long. It isn’t working. Truth, justice, international law and human rights have been ignored by Israel and its U.S. sponsor for too long. The ‘alternate facts’ that Trump, Netanyahu and others of their ilk would have us hear are simply no longer acceptable.

Originally published on Counterpunch.

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Advice for the Democrats, That They Won’t Take

Yes, impossible as it sounds, Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States. He of the multiple wives and revenge-fueled actions; misogynist, homophobic, Islamophobic attitudes; an originator of the birther movement and xenophobe extraordinaire will soon inhabit the White House. That is a frightening thought, but add to that the fact that with both houses of Congress in Republican hands, there is no reasonable check on Mr. Trump’s impulses. And since many members of Congress disparaged, insulted and refused to support him during the campaign, they will be crawling on glass as penance as they approach him to regain favor, and will not want to thwart anything he may propose.

And what will this mean? Well, he has vowed to abolish the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, thus depriving at least 20 million people of basic health care. He said he will nullify the Iran nuclear deal, destroying the trust of European allies in the word of the U.S, and bringing the world closer to nuclear disaster. He will prevent any Muslims from entering the country, provide greater impunity (if that is even possible) to the nation’s racist police, put an end to same-sex marriage, and, in many ways, bring the nation back to the era of the 1950s. For those who don’t remember those days, segregation was the law of the land, a woman’s place was in the home, anyone suspected of any communist leanings was publicly persecuted, and the Cold War was in full swing. Ah, yes! The good old days!

Predictions of the demise of the Republican Party were certainly premature; it is now the Democrats who need to take a careful look in the mirror. The fact that they probably won’t is neither here nor there.  But, on the off chance that someone in the Party thinks doing so is a good idea, we will provide them with a bit of guidance, to send them on their way.

First, they might want to rethink this whole ‘super delegate’ thing. Yes, it seemed to them that Hillary Clinton somehow ‘deserved’ the nomination, and why let the people decide such a thing? What do they know? And while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proved himself to be nothing more than a common politician, with no more integrity than that implies, this wasn’t necessarily common knowledge during the primary campaign. But, the Democratic Party, in a most undemocratic way, set about to torpedo his chances, and install Hillary Clinton as their chosen one.

We must ask: why did they think this was a good idea? What was it about Mrs. Clinton that made the powers-that-be in the Party think she was their savior? She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have enriched themselves through their ‘service’ to the nation. She carried along the campaign more baggage than a freight train. She was disliked and distrusted by large swaths of the population.  Yet this was the candidate who was going to break the glass ceiling, proving to all young girls that there were no gender-based limits. It would be she who would carry on President Obama’s legacy of healthcare for Americans, women’s’ rights, marriage equality, and other, less savory policies, like murder by drone, oppression of the Palestinians, etc., etc.

But. alas, the little people had other ideas about all this, and decided that a racist, misogynist, inexperienced blowhard was a better choice. We all know that, to hear the Democrats and their fawning minions tell it, the GOP is the Party of the rich, and the Democrats, of the working man and woman. Too bad those decision-makers have such an obstructed view from their ivory towers, and can’t quite see that, Republican or Democrat, they are different iterations of the same tired programs.

Second, the Democrats might try differentiating themselves from the Republicans in some significant ways. For example, both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and a variety of other candidates, bowed and scraped before their Israeli masters at the annual AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) convention in March; Mr. Sanders skipped that event, and instead sent a letter, criticizing Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. This did nothing to sink his candidacy; the internal workings of the Democratic Party did that to him. So, including as part of the platform, perhaps, some statement about making further financial assistance to Israel contingent upon that country adhering to international law and improving its dismal human rights record, might have been attractive to many voters. Mirroring the Republican policy doesn’t provide much choice.

Third, going back at least to the era of the 1960s and ‘70’s, as the Vietnam War raged, the Democratic Party eventually began to embrace the controversial concept of peace. Now, this, of course, was never fully adapted; who in their right mind wants peace over war? Whoever heard of such a thing? The U.S., we all know, must flex its military muscle almost constantly, in order to keep the arms manufacturers happy. But the idea of ending barbaric drone warfare, not interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and perhaps even dismantling some of the U.S’. nuclear arsenal might have had more appeal than the tired, pro-war policies of Hillary Clinton.

Following the defeat of the odious Mitt Romney by Mr. Obama in 2012, there was much talk about the need for the Republican Party to redefine itself, to, perhaps, even, become more inclusive. Nothing ever came of that high-sounding rhetoric, and remaining as it was seems now to have been a formula for success. So, perhaps the Democrats will do the same; look for someone to blame for this electoral disaster, talk about how to prevent it in the future, and then carry on with business as usual.

Politics in the U.S. isn’t about governing; it’s about keeping high-paying, low-responsibility jobs. After all, for most of us, there are a certain number of days required for us to attend our jobs; we may have a few weeks of paid vacation, but other than that, we are expected to be working. Not so for elected officials. Also, most of us have certain deliverables we need to produce: lesson plans, software programs, various products, etc. Again, elected officials have no such responsibilities. And if the wealthy individuals and organizations that donate to politicians’ election campaigns are happy, what else matters?

The next couple of months will prove interesting, and will provide us with a view of the next few years. From where this writer sits, it isn’t looking pretty. But the view of U.S. governance has never been very pleasant, since an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy can never conceal its true nature. And with the wild card called Donald Trump due to move into the White House, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Originally published by TheTruther.US.

 

 

 

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Delegates, Democrats and Democracy

The United States is slowly lumbering towards the big show of its rather perverse version of democracy. Every four years, wealthy egomaniacs announce their candidacy for the presidency, and thus begins the long and torturous route to the White House. ‘Tortuous’, for each candidate, who must sell his or her soul to the highest bidder, change policy pronouncements depending on the audience, accept endorsements from individuals and organizations that a snake would be ashamed to associate with, and somehow manage to look him/herself in the mirror. The farce is ‘torturous’ for any informed individual (a decreasing lot, it seems, in the U.S.) who wants to make a rational decision, and vote for someone that is better described than simply ‘the lesser of two evils’.

One looks today at the Republican Party, and sees a circus clown performing his bumbling tricks for the pleasure and enjoyment of his racist, sexist, xenophobic and Islamophopic followers. And yet Donald Trump, former reality-television star and thrice-married billionaire is the current front-runner for the nomination.

But nipping at his heals like the snarling mad dog he seems to resemble, is none other than Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Despised by his senate colleagues, the powers-that-be in the GOP seem to be embracing him, however tenuously, in order to stem a potential electoral train wreck, which is the general expectation should Mr. Trump be the nominee. Not only would almost anyone defeat him, even the cold, calculating Hillary Clinton (more on her later), but Mr. Trump heading the ticket could easily deliver the Senate and House of Representatives back into the hands of the Democratic Party.

So let us look at the candidates of the oddly-named Democratic Party, and at the party itself. Nominating a presidential candidate isn’t quite the straightforward process one might expect: in a purer form of democracy, voters would elect delegates to represent their candidate at the nominating convention. For example, if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins 70% of the vote in, let’s say, the state of Washington, it would be expected that 70% of the delegates from that state going to the convention would vote for him.

But no, that is not how ‘democracy’ works in the Democratic Party. The party has what it calls ‘superdelegates’, party bigwigs who can vote at the convention for whomsoever they choose. There is a reason for this strange rule; it was clearly stated by Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Said she: “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists”.

Well, there you are. Kingmakers will still be kingmakers, after they have given the little people the illusion that they are participating in the democratic process. As early as October of 2015, the former secretary of state had locked up hundreds of these ‘superdelegates’. By November, before any primaries or caucuses had been held, it is estimated that she already had secured about 15% of the required delegates. Wasn’t there some president who once said something about “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” not perishing from the earth? Oh, right; Abraham Lincoln, but that was a long time ago. And look what happened to him, anyway.

As of this writing, Mrs. Clinton has 469 superdelegates pledged to her; Mr. Sanders, 31. Yet the total of elected delegates is much closer: Mrs. Clinton has 1,279, and Mr. Sanders, 1,027.

Those ‘grassroots activists’ of which Ms. Wasserman-Schultz is so disdainful are not taking this sitting down. Washington Congressman Rick Larsen, pledged to support Mrs. Clinton, sent out a ‘Happy Easter’ message to his constituents. Some, in reply, told him to enjoy what will be his last Easter in office. Mr. Larsen responded thusly to one of his constituents: “I am supporting Secretary Clinton regardless of how people characterize it. She will be our best foot forward this fall and be the best President of all the candidates.” So the people speak, but those with power don’t listen.

These superdelegates are not only thwarting the will of the people, they are supporting a candidate who represents the very worst of the 1%. Wealthy herself, she has refused to disclose what she told to her Goldman-Sachs audience, one that paid her $600,000 for her pearls of wisdom. One can only imagine how pleasing her words must have been to them, since they were worth such a large sum of money.

One of the staples of the Democratic Party platform is unqualified support for Israel, increasingly denounced throughout the world as a brutal apartheid regime, yet called by the U.S., ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. Once again, we see that the Democratic Party has either very little understanding of the term ‘democracy’, or very little regard for the intelligence of the voters.

Israel, with separate laws for Jewish-Israelis and non-Jewish-Israelis, with illegal occupation, extrajudicial executions of men, women and children, with numerous, continuing violations of international law, is a democracy in the eyes of the Democratic Party. And there are no sacrifices the U.S. won’t make for its Middle Eastern, ‘democratic’ counterpart. Two sentences from the 2012 platform say it all:

“President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to

Israel’s security. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years.”

Note the phrase, ‘despite budgetary constraints’. It is apparently acceptable to cut food stamps, leave Detroit to go bankrupt, watch the infrastructure deteriorate and see public school students’ accomplishments fall far behind their international peers, as long as Israel gets its billions from the U.S. taxpayer. One would think that U.S. tax dollars should go to U.S. citizens. But no, for the Democrats (and certainly the Republicans) it is better to go to Israel.

So, one might ask: ‘where is democracy in the Democratic Party?’. Certainly not in the nominating process, and, it appears, not in the party platform, which is the heart and soul of the party.

This is not to imply that, while deficient with the Democrats, democracy is the foundation and backbone of the Republican Party. This is hardly the case for the party that makes no bones about ruling the world through violence; the Democrats, wishing to accomplish the same thing, simply cast those words in more politically-correct terminology.

The tiresome primary session drags on. Mr. Sanders’ enthusiastic voters and volunteers naively believe that if only Mr. Sanders can keep winning primaries, he will be the Democratic nominee. How sweet and child-like! They have not learned yet that the performance is made up of actors playing their roles; it is almost interactive theatre, where the audience has some participation, but the conclusion is foregone before the curtain is raised.

And in the tragic-comedy of U.S. elections, it seems that each year becomes more desperate then the last. This writer wishes the voters luck in determining this year who is, in fact, the lesser of two evils. For his part, he will vote for a third-party candidate. Any Republican or Democrat who wins will be a disaster for the world, and he wants no part in installing such a resident in the White House.

Originally printed on Counterpunch.

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