Archive for the ‘Racism and anti-racism’ Category

by Daphna Whitmore

What other western country shoots demonstrators with snipers? Like a scene from Game of Thrones Israel continued its bloody killing spree on the Gaza border while celebrating the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

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Men, women and children protesting in Gaza against the siege, their loss of land and nationhood

As Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were opening the embassy the death toll rose to more than 60 Palestinians with an estimated 2000 maimed this week. Meanwhile fascistic religious Jewish mobs in Jerusalem went on a rampage against Palestinians, all the while protected by the Israeli state. (more…)

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Left, Cyril Ramaphosa; Right, Marikana Massacre

by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa has produced a plethora of articles hailing a new dawn for the nation.  The Irish Times published an article written by the South African psychologist and current John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill chair in peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute, Ulster University, Professor Brandon Hamber.  The title of the article was the unimaginative A new dawn for South Africa, but a false start for Northern Ireland.(1)

But here I want to focus on South Africa.  He is after all from there and Ramaphosa was hailed in Ireland as a champion of peace and an important figure in the decommissioning process.  If his election as president of South Africa is a new dawn, then it will not be long before he is once again held up as an example to us all, which is what Hamber does, in effect.

He acknowledges problems in South Africa, but states that with Ramaphosa’s election, “A wave of new-found optimism has swept the country. In his state-of-the nation address on Friday, Ramaphosa spoke of a new dawn, turning the tide against corruption and tackling inequalities, while maintaining economic stability.”  He further states that “South Africans have a new belief in democracy and people power, and have learned first-hand the value of a free media and an independent judiciary. There is new hope in the constitution, the rule of law and the institutions developed to protect democracy.”  Were that true it would be a remarkable accomplishment in a matter of days.  The hypebole of people power is overwhelming and nauseating.

To be clear, the new president of South Africa is a mining magnate, a multimillionaire whose fortune is calculated, depending on the source as being between USD 450 and 700 million.  Yes he was once a lawyer and a leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.  But that is in the past.  How he became rich says more about the South Africa he will build than all the fine words that we expect at inaugurations or the sycophantic faith of academics who should (more…)

South Africans protest the use of administrative detention by the Israeli state, 2016

Among the arsenal of repressive measures used by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom is “administrative detention”.  This is, in essence, internment without trial.  While the Israeli state pretends to be a democracy, measures such as these show it is anything but a democracy in relation to the Palestinians.

The below piece on administrative detention is taken from the site of Addameer, The (Palestinian) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association:

Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Although administrative detention is used almost exclusively to detain Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Israeli citizens and foreign nationals can also be held as administrative detainees by Israel (over the years, only 9 Israeli settlers have been held in administrative detention). Israel uses three separate laws to hold individuals without trial:

  • Article 285 of Military Order 1651, which is part of the military legislation applying in the West Bank;

  • Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (Unlawful Combatants Law), which has been used against residents of the Gaza Strip since 2005;

  • Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law, which applies to Israeli citizens.

Palestinians have been subjected to administrative detention since the beginning of the (more…)

Marikana massacre of workers carried out by ANC government, August 16, 2012; the single most number killed by any Slouth African government in a single action since the 1960 apartheid regime massacre of black civil rights protesters at Sharpeville

Billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa has been made president of the ANC, although Jacob Zuma will continue as president of the country.

Ramaphosa says the ANC will spend 2018 reconnecting with the people and making up for its mistakes.

The idea of this super-rich capitalist reconnecting with the masses is a hoot.  Ramaphosa, who supported the massacring of mine workers just a couple of years ago, leveraged his time as a militant trade union leader to get into business and epitomises everything that went wrong with the ANC in the first place. 

by Peter Manson

Readers will know that president Jacob Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the African National Congress at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Zuma will remain South African head of state, however, until a new president is elected by the national assembly following the 2019 general election – unless, of course, action is taken by the ANC and parliament to remove him earlier, which is a distinct possibility.

Just before the elective conference, commentator Peter Bruce pleaded to ANC delegates:

The fact is that policy uncertainty is crippling foreign investment … And try not to think of foreign investors as fat, white capitalists smoking cigars in a club somewhere and deciding which ideological friends to finance … They’re investing the savings and pensions of people like you … They need a return on those people’s money, just like you need a return on yours.1

Corruption

Such commentators wanted Zuma out – and were equally opposed to his replacement as ANC president by his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen as a mere continuation of the current corrupt regime. Zuma not only stands accused of using state funds to upgrade his private residence, and of allowing the Gupta family to exert huge influence over government appointments – so-called ‘state capture’ – but he still has no fewer than 783 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering hanging over him. These are connected to the multi-billion-dollar arms deal finalised in 1999 just after Zuma became deputy president. His financial advisor at the time, Schabir Shaik, was jailed in 2005 for facilitating those bribes and, while Zuma faced charges too, they were conveniently dropped just after he became president in 2009.

During the pre-conference campaign Ramaphosa repeatedly insisted that all those implicated in ‘state capture’ and corruption must be (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

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Ahed Tamimi in a military court yesterday remains in detention without legal representation or charges

So, Lorde has been invited to a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand after announcing she would cancel her concert in Tel Aviv. Mr Yitzhak Gerberg wants to tell Lorde that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and to discuss the the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Sure, Israel is a democracy of sorts for Jewish Israelis. There are anomolies, such as religious intermarriage being outlawed. This does contravene the notion of basic freedoms and resembles the old segregation seen in the Southern States of the US and the former apartheid regime in South  Africa. There are also no civil divorce rights in Israel – only religious bodies can rule on divorce – and there are numerous other democratic shortcomings, but for Jews many of the features of a democracy do exist.

For the 1.4 million Palestinian and other Arab populations in Israel, however, the democracy is very second rate. They face discrimination that is among the worst by Western standards. But all the limitations of democratic rights in Israel pale in comparison to the brutal military occupation carried out by the Israeli state for the past 50 years over the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Will Ambassador Gerberg explain what sort of democracy it is that imprisons children? There are currently 400 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. This week the case of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi highlighted the situation when she was seized in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers after video footage showed her slapping two Israeli solidiers who were on her family property, just hours after a 15-year-old cousin of Ahed had been shot in the head by soldiers. (more…)

The article below was written a little over nine years ago.  Since then the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in relation to Israel has grown significantly and caused some real headaches to the Israeli state.  Nevertheless, some on the left oppose BDS.  While this is essentially a capitulation to the pressures of imperialism, there are also some genuinely left-wing people who remain confused about the nature of the Israeli state and the political forces within it and the role of BDS.

In the article below, one of the founders of BDS, Omar Barghouti, takes up the left and liberal critics of BDS.

Since the launch of the Palestinian boycott movement a few years ago, we have experienced an awkward phenomenon that demands urgent comment. Several organizations known for years — in some cases, decades — for their tireless Palestine solidarity work stood firmly against the Palestinian civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and SanctionsBDS, issued on 9 July 2005, for various reasons. Some said such tactics were “harmful” to the Palestinian struggle. Others opined that BDS would undermine the so-called Israeli “peace” movement. Others, still, stated that boycotting Israel would invite accusations of anti-Semitism and betrayal of the Holocaust victims, thereby setting back Palestine solidarity work in a substantial way.Many other arguments were (more…)

Among other activities, the revolutionary working class organisation Lutte Ouvriere produces weekly bulletins in hundreds of workplaces across the country.  Tne bulletins relate to specific experiences and issues faced by the workers in these workplaces, but also contain an editorial on big political questions, national or international issues.  The editorial in the November 27 edition of these bulletins was on France and Africa.

Last week, during his visit to Africa, French President Macron cynically declared that France no longer had a specific “African policy”.

The truth is that, since 2014, thousands of French soldiers have been deployed in Mali where, under the pretext of combating terrorism, they wage a war which regularly kills civilians. The French army is present on a permanent basis in many African countries, including Burkina Faso where Macron made his declaration. France has always intervened in the country, supporting the authors of military coups and dictators aspiring to obediently defend the interests of French imperialists.

Macron also declared that he belonged to a generation who considers that “the crimes of European colonization are undeniable and are part of our history”. Macron is indeed too young to have known first-hand the “colonial times”. But he belongs to the long list of political leaders who helped the French bourgeoisie get rich thanks to its colonial empire.

Africa’s dire poverty and the miserable conditions of most Africans are neither natural nor inevitable. They are due to the century-old plundering of Africa by colonial powers, with France playing a leading role in the continent’s colonization.

Many French bourgeois families built their fortune on (more…)