The detention of a group of human rights defenders in Turkey for daring to learn about digital security and encryption continued last week with a brief appearance of the accused in an Istanbul court. Six were returned to jail, and four released on bail. In an additionally absurd twist, the four released activists were named in new detention orders on Friday, and are now being re-arrested.
Among those currently being held in jail are Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, digital security trainers from Sweden and Germany, who had traveled to Turkey to provide online privacy advice for a conference of human rights defenders. The meeting was raided by Turkish police on July 5, and appears to be the sole basis for the prosecution.
The court charged Gharavi and Steudtner with "committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member." Their co-defendants include Idil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, Veli Acu and Günal Kurşun of the Human Rights Agenda Association, and Özlem Dalkıran of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. Four others were released on bail, but new detention orders against them were announced on Friday, with two re-arrested over the weekend.
Gharavi and Steudtner have worked for many years in the global human rights community, providing advice about digital security and online well-being. Ali helped EFF with its Surveillance Self-Defence Guides, and has held key technology roles at the Center for Victims of Torture and Tactical Tech. Steudtner's expertise was in holistic security, which combined technical training with his pacifist, non-violent principles.
When asked about the arrests, Turkey's President Recep Tayipp Erdogan said that the group had "gathered for a meeting which was a continuation of July 15," referencing the date of the attempted coup against him in 2016. The government has used the coup as a justification for the subsequent mass arrests of over 50,000 people including journalists, academics, judges and, most recently, technologists.
Strong digital security helps everyone; learning about encryption is not a sign of criminal activity. The Turkish authorities and media have continued, nonetheless, to tie the use of secure communications tools to the coup. A report in the conservative Islamist paper Yeni Akit declared that the detainees had secret government documents, and used the mobile communications app "ByLock" to stay in contact with groups connected to the coup. ByLock is a known insecure app that is largely unknown outside of Turkey and has been widely criticised by digital security experts. It is profoundly unlikely that Gharavi or Steudtner used it. Use of ByLock was also the sole reason the Turkish police gave for the arrest of Amnesty's Chair, Taner Kiliç, last month.
The condemnation of the Turkish courts' actions has been swift. U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. "strongly condemns the arrest of six respected human rights activists and calls for their immediate release," and urged Turkey to drop the charges, which it said undermine the country's rule of law.
Eliot Engel, the U.S. House of Representatives' ranking member on the Foreign Affairs committee, said that "The arrest of these brave men and women is unacceptable, and the latest example of the erosion of democracy in Turkey... I call on Turkish authorities to release Idil Eser and her fellow activists without delay or condition, and Secretary Tillerson must make this a top priority in his engagement with Turkey’s government."
Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom has called for the release of Gharavi, who is a Swedish national. "It is our understanding that Gharavi was in Turkey to participate in a peaceful seminar about freedom of the internet and we have urged Turkey to quickly clarify the grounds for the accusations against him," she said in a statement.
Germany, Steudtner's home country, has taken an even more forceful line. "We are strongly convinced that this arrest is absolutely unjustified," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, according to the DPA news agency. Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel cut short a vacation to deal with the case, and summoned the Turkish Ambassador in Berlin, who was told "without diplomatic pleasantries" of Germany's expectation that Steudtner and his colleagues should be released immediately. Gabriel later warned that "the case of Peter Steudtner shows that German citizens are no longer safe from arbitrary arrests," and suggested that his continuing detention will lead to a "re-orienting" of German's policy toward Turkey.
The baseless prosecution of these human rights defenders, including Peter and Ali, two innocent technologists from allies of Turkey, highlights the decline of Turkey's democratic institutions. We continue to urge the Turkish authorities to listen to a chorus of countries and international organizations, and to free all ten victims of this profound injustice immediately.
Sixteen countries from Asia-Pacific are meeting in Hyderabad for the 19th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which takes place in India from 18-28 July, 2017. EFF is participating to advocate for improved transparency and openness in the negotiations, and to express our concerns about possible new rules on intellectual property and ecommerce that some countries are proposing for the agreement.
RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) aimed at broadening regional economic integration and liberalising trade and investment between the 10 ASEAN economies and its trading partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. The total population covered by RCEP exceeds 3 billion, and with the combined GDP of about US$ 17 trillion accounting for about 40% of the world’s trade makes RCEP the biggest mega-regional trade agreement that is under negotiation.
The idea of RCEP was first introduced at an ASEAN Summit in 2011 and formal negotiations were launched in 2012. Over the last five years, the scope of the agreement has grown to include commitments for trade in goods and services, boosting economic and technical cooperation, and intellectual property. Worryingly, discussions on ecommerce issues including rules on software, data flows, and regulatory standards that have not been addressed in other trade mechanisms are also being included in the RCEP negotiations.
Reports suggest that Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand have been pushing for binding commitments from the RCEP members on ecommerce. A separate working group on ecommerce (WGEC) has been established with the aim of formalising a chapter on ecommerce in the final agreement. The agreement and the issues being negotiated are being kept confidential, however a few chapters drafts have been leaked including the ‘Terms of Reference (TOR)’ for the WGEC. WGEC members are hopeful of concluding the deal by year end which would include ‘liberalisation commitments’ and norms for ecommerce including provisions on investment, dispute settlement and competition.
The proposed elements for the TOR (for negotiations) are understood to include domestic regulatory frameworks for market access, customs duties on electronic transmission, non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, paperless trading, electronic signatures, digital certificates and online consumer protection issues such as storage and transfer of personal data protection and spam.
Controversial issues such as prohibition on requirements concerning the location of computing facilities and allowing cross-border transfer of information by electronic means are also expected to be included within the scope of the chapter. Further, countries including Australia and Japan have proposed making a permanent commitment to zero duties on digital transmissions, and prohibiting rules requiring on compulsory disclosure of source codes.
Given the secrecy of the negotiations, the lack of opportunities for public input in the process, and the complexity of issues involved, EFF convened an expert panel on ecommerce issues in the RCEP negotiations in Hyderabad. The public meeting was organised in partnership with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and the National Law University of Law, Hyderabad. Speakers included Professor Ajay Shah (NIPFP), Parminder Jeet Singh (ItforChange) and Professor VC Vivekananda (Bennett University).
Panelists raised several issues including ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of digital products transmitted electronically and the need for guaranteeing that these products will not face government-sanctioned discrimination based on the nationality or territory in which the product is produced. Security risks associated with the prohibition of source code disclosure, and the costs of imposing measures that restrict cross-border data flows and or require the use or installation of local computing facilities were also raised by panelists.
The event was a success with negotiators from nine countries including Vietnam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea and Thailand showing up for the meeting. Given that access for users at such negotiations is restricted the large number of negotiators showing interest was very encouraging. Understandably, the negotiators did not ask questions or participate in the discussions, however their interest in the issues is evident in WGEC members turning up for the panel. This is definitely an improvement on the previous negotiations where there has been limited participation from negotiators at similar events. We also received feedback that the WGEC would like to see specific issues being discussed in-depth including positive commitments that could be included.
EFF is maintaining a cautious and critical stance on the inclusion of e-commerce rules in RCEP, and the inclusion of similar rules in NAFTA, simultaneously being negotiated on the other side of the world. While it is possible to deal with e-commerce in a trade agreement in a balanced way that respects users’ rights, this is made unnecessarily difficulty when those rules are being negotiated in secret. Nonetheless, until a better way of engaging with negotiators exists, EFF will continue to provide our input through unofficial side events and bilateral meetings, because this is the best way that we can stand up for your rights in what remains an unfair and secretive process
During the summer of 1967, rebellions broke out in several U.S. cities, including Buffalo and Newark. But the largest of them--known as the Great Rebellion--happened in the heart of American capitalism at the time: Detroit, the capital of the auto industry. The uprising began on July 23, sparked by a police raid on an after-hours party for two Vietnam veterans who had just returned home, and continued for five days. As many as 100,000 people were estimated to have taken part, in some cases fighting pitched battles with the police and federal troops.
What sets the Great Rebellion apart is what happened before and after--the years of radical organizing that shaped Detroit's Black working class. In their 1975 book Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin tell the story of Black autoworkers, radicals and revolutionaries organizing in the 1960s. They describe the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), an organization of Black workers based at Chrysler's Dodge Main assembly plant born out of a wildcat strike less than a year after the rebellion, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, which sought to unite together Revolutionary Union Movements (RUMs) of Black auto workers in Detroit.
On the 50th anniversary of the Great Rebellion, Dan Georgakas talked to Elizabeth Schulte about the background to the explosive uprising and what happened afterward.
In the streets during the Great Rebellion of 1967
CAN YOU describe the backdrop to the Great Rebellion in 1967? What was life like for the Black working class in Detroit at this time?
MOST PEOPLE are familiar with the general conditions of the 1960s and the various national problems that Black Americans faced. In Detroit, that took expression in three major areas.
The first was the horrendous police department, which harassed the Black community on a regular basis.
The second was that the automobile industry was beginning to automate, sending jobs out of the country and so forth. The first wave of layoffs involved many more Black workers than whites because of the strict seniority system. Most of the old white workforce was protected by seniority, and the younger Black workforce was not.
The United Auto Workers union was indifferent. On top of this, the UAW had not gotten African Americans into the skilled trades, and the union hierarchy had not been integrated at a significant level.
This led to economic distress and concerns. In Detroit, unlike other cities, working-class culture was very strong--it connected to education, to religion, to all facets of Black culture. So as workers lost their jobs, the whole community felt it. It wasn't just a single person or neighborhood.
What else to read
Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin's Detroit: I Do Mind Dying is the most detailed history available of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and the radical movements that preceded it.
For further reading and films on Detroit, Dan Georgakas also recommends:
-- Herb Boyd, Black Detroit (Amistad division of HarperCollins, 2017). A populist history of Black Detroit from 1701 to today. Places the League of Revolutionary Black Workers into a historical context of black liberation struggles in Detroit.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. This 2014 video by Grace Lee (not related to Grace Lee Boggs) features a 99-year-old Boggs eloquently evaluating her radical activism in Detroit from the 1950s onward.
Heather Ann Thompson, Whose Detroit? (Cornell University Press, 2001). A powerful narrative dealing with the negative reactions by the UAW hierarchy to the emerging Black liberation movement.
Julius Thompson, Dudley Randall, Broadside Press and the Black Arts Movement, 1960-1995 (McFarland & Co., 1998). Gives a taste of the intense Black culture of Detroit. Randall founded Broadside Press in 1963. It became the leading publishing of Black poetry in the U.S.
The third area was housing. Detroit was a very segregated city, and housing had not changed very much since the rioting of 1943, which was the most extensive in American history up until to that point. It was a race riot in the sense that Blacks fought whites, and whites fought Blacks.
The rebellion in 1967 was much more economically based. Of course, racism was critical, but it was a rebellion against the system--and that's why we call it the Great Rebellion.
Once it begins, it doesn't spread from the Black communities to the white communities, with a lot of Blacks and whites fighting--it goes to commerce. It goes toward the General Motors building. It goes toward merchants. Without diminishing the racial dynamics at play, a major factor in the rebellion was economics.
Detroit had a rich cultural history, particularly before the rebellion. For instance, there was a poetry rebellion in Detroit involved in leading the national struggle to get Black writing into anthologies.
A major outcome of that effort was the founding of Broadside Press by Dudley Randall in 1963. Broadside would become the biggest publisher of Black poetry in the U.S.
This was also a boom time for jazz and popular music, including the Motown Sound. It was a period of firsts in Detroit--the first integrated literary magazine with Black editors, writers and staff. The same occurred in theater.
There were forums, some organized by leftists and some not. The most famous leftist one was the Friday Night Socialist Forum. Some 25 to 200 people would go there.
James Boggs, a well-known activist in the union and the community, gave talks. The C.L.R. James group also gave talks. These forums were cauldrons of intellectual energy in which a significant number of people were saying, "We can do things. Things are going to change."
Did that cause the rebellion? No, but it gives you a sense of the culture.
I worked for a magazine called On the Town, which was Detroit's Jet. It was Black-owned with 80 percent of its pages about music, and the other 20 percent espousing radical politics. Issues were dropped off in bars and record stores with direct contact with a popular audience.
CAN YOU say more about the police brutality?
IT'S HARD to speak of "police brutality" at this point, because the police were never anything but brutal.
The spark for the rebellion was a police raid on a party at an after-hours joint--which was illegal, of course--to celebrate two Vietnam veterans who had come back from the war. It was a tough neighborhood with tough guys. Their response set off the Great Rebellion. No one had predicted it.
WHAT ABOUT the Vietnam War, which was being fought by so many Black workers? What kind of impact did that have?
IN DETROIT, the Black community was not in favor of the Vietnam War. Part of this came from a strong Garveyite tradition in Detroit.
People were also listening to what Malcolm X had to say, even if they weren't Muslims. One of the phrases attributed to him was "Tojo and Hitler did more to integrate the factories than the UAW." It was a pretty sophisticated view of the Second World War. Reactions to the Vietnam War were ever stronger.
Of course, there were patriots and people who went to war because it was the best alternative economically, but in general, the war was very unpopular.
YOU POINT out in your book that this wasn't the first riot in Detroit over the years, but this one was different in that it was between "Blacks and state power." Could you talk more about this?
GENERALLY SPEAKING, the 1943 rioting was over racial attacks. It began as a people-versus-people thing and continued that way for a long time. The police were, of course, on the side of the establishment, which was white. Most of the casualties were Black. State power was exerted, but this was a race riot in the classic mode.
What happened in 1967 was that the police attacking an after-hours place encapsulated what was happening in the city every night. State power was pushing hard on a Black community--but that community wasn't passive, but dynamic, full of ideas and energy.
WHO TOOK part in the rebellion? In Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, when you write about looting, or "shopping for free," you describe it as integrated and systematic.
THAT ASPECT was spontaneous. Once the big stores got their windows broken, people drove up in their cars and helped each other load up. There's television footage of this--of Blacks and whites cooperatively getting things out of the stores as fast as possible.
That wasn't the dominant theme, but it happened. The number of whites eventually arrested for shooting at cops was significant. You didn't have anything like that in 1943.
Something else that happened was the police shooting up John Sinclair's poetry workshop after he hoisted a "Burn, Baby, Burn" poster. Whatever Sinclair's faults and virtues, the police were using the Great Rebellion as an excuse to go after people they never liked.
DRUM WAS founded a year later. What impact did the revolt have for other organizing that had been going on for a while--namely shop-floor organizing by Black workers in the auto industry?
DRUM ERUPTS out of a wildcat strike in 1968, which wasn't out of the blue.
Chrysler's Dodge Main plant was a factory that had had problems before between Blacks and whites, and problems between rank-and-file unionists and union officials. There was considerable radical involvement in the wildcat. The three most important organizers were General Baker, Mike Hamlin and John Watson.
It's worth noting that General Baker, along with Rufus Griffin and Glanton Dowdell--who would become stalwarts of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers--had been charged with trying to start a riot in 1966 and had gotten five years of probation for carrying concealed weapons
They were all Marxists, and following the uprising, they put into effect a project to publish a newspaper called Inner City Voice, which would explore the problems in the Black community and serve as an agitational/educational tool. Part of what they did was begin to agitate inside Dodge Main about the conditions of work.
The individuals who formed the core of DRUM had studied Marxism with Marty Glaberman, leader of the local C.L.R. James group. No one idea sparked them, but they dove into the treasure of socialist thought.
The essay that most influenced them was Lenin's pamphlet on the importance of having a newspaper. The whole idea throughout their evolution was that we must have popular organs to reach the public, because the other side was going to distort and demonize them.
That was a very strong urge, which led them to buy their own printing press. Their idea was to print their own books, print their own newspapers, print their own pamphlets, have their own bookstores and tell their own story, rather than let the mass media misrepresent them.
DESCRIBE THE Inner City Voice. What did the articles look like? How did DRUM get its message out?
THE ARTICLES were very populist. They said here's a problem in Detroit, and they talked about fixing it. The articles stressed that fundamental change meant changing the system, not merely reforming it. The subtext was that we would like to get to socialism, but we're not going to get there tomorrow so let's do this and get a victory.
One of the things they had in mind, and this was characteristic of DRUM, was that you must win victories for your constituency.
The workers who wildcatted to form DRUM didn't necessarily self-identify as being socialists, but they were militants who knew their leaders were Marxists. As long as the leaders were delivering, they asked: What's next?
While the Black radicals were moving toward creating RUMS in their own workplaces, there was also plenty of white radical activity.
When DRUM and the League came into existence, an allied group, mainly of whites but integrated, had a bookstore and a book club, with a couple hundred members that backed the things DRUM or the League were doing. So there was that component, which is often not discussed.
DRUM was a Black nationalist organization, but the leadership wasn't Black nationalist in the narrow sense of separatism. Yet one of the problems they always had was what to do with the whites who wanted to help them. Their solution is indicative of what they hoped to achieve in the long run.
Here's a personal example. Marvin Surkin and I approached Watson, Cockrel and Hamlin about writing about what they were doing as a chapter for a book on the politics of daily life--or, better, writing a book about themselves. They said they were too busy making a revolution to write anything significant and urged us to write it instead.
I replied, "A Greek and a Jew writing about the Black liberation movement?" That didn't concern them. They trusted me because I had worked with Watson and Cockrel for years, and if I vouched for Surkin, he must be okay, too.
They only asked that we quote them and other activists as much as possible, but we could voice any independent judgments we thought were sound. They provided us with interviews and organizational documents and correspondence.
The League made the film Finally Got the News with the idea that it would go around the country, explaining the ideas of the League so that League reps wouldn't have to visit other cities. In this instance, the League leaders acted as producers, while the actual filmmakers were white.
The League wasn't interested in having branches outside the city. They had a practical and an ideological reason: They had limited personnel who were needed to organize in Detroit. Nor did they have the resources to find out if some of the people in other sites wanting to join included crazies, factionalists or agent provocateurs.
They said that if people want to emulate the League, they could view the film. Locals knew the conditions in Birmingham, Alabama; in Richmond, California; in Mahwah, New Jersey; better than some visiting Detroiter.
The locals needed to make up their own agenda. They should develop their own leadership and their own base. If enough of these units became strong, then all could come together in a Black Workers Congress.
WHAT WAS the reaction of the city and police after the rebellion?
AFTER THE Great Rebellion, the Detroit police department got worse. They created a squad called STRESS (Stop The Robberies and Enjoy Safe Streets). STRESS cars patrolling Black neighborhoods were brutal--they had a high rate of people they killed.
Ken Cockrel defended some of the people who were abused by police and also some of the radicals who became vigilantes in 1972. Their mandate was to rid neighborhoods of drug dealers by whatever means necessary since the police were doing little. They eventually got into a gun battle with police in what became a celebrated case. This kind of activism illustrates the tough-mindedness of Detroit.
Forces championing what they called law and order (whiteness and injustice) sought to expand STRESS by winning the mayoralty. Standing against them in 1973 was Coleman Young, who had roots in the Communist movement of the 1940s. He fought with the UAW over racial issues and had not cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The tough-talking Young was thus a blend of street cred and political savvy. He won the election to become the city's first Black mayor. During his first years in office, Young delivered some reforms, but he slowly turned into a Black Boss Tweed in alliance with auto executives.
WHAT LESSONS should we take from this history for the struggle today?
FROM THE beginning, the League said, it was going to organize workers. In Detroit, workers meant auto.
Workers may mean something different in other places. We now have numerous workers in the service industry. The principle remains the same. Why organize workers? Because workers can change society. This was the League view, and I agree with it.
If workers cease to work, society stops. John Watson was very clear about this. He said that there are not enough Blacks in the U.S. to make a revolution, but if every Black worker went on strike for one day, the country would stand still. You could say the same thing about Latino workers, women workers and other components of the working class.
The place of work, the point of production, is where workers have the most power. If you go to court, you can win, but it's hard. If you go to electoral politics, you can win, but it is even harder to accomplish anything. If you halt production, you have a power that the capitalists must immediately address.
The League didn't think of itself as a union of victims, but as a rebel force declaring, "This is the change we're going to make." If you only tell people what's lousy, they say yeah, what's new? What's going to make me go out and give 24 hours of my life to change?
I think that remains a critical challenge for the movement. Yes, present injustices must be abolished, but what takes its place?
My favorite talking point about this is explaining how automation under socialism ceases to be a problem and becomes a liberating force that minimally could cut the workday in half with much higher compensation.
Ilan Pappe's new book debunks the fictions perpetuated to justify Israel's existence and the continuation of a racist, colonial project, explains Daphna Thier.
A Palestinian child looks on at Israel's apartheid wall in the West Bank (Justin McIntosh | Wikimedia Commons)
PEOPLE OFTEN ask for a good primer on the history and politics of Israel, especially when they're grappling with a Zionist upbringing. Ten Myths About Israel is the best new option for anyone trying to separate historical truth from the myths in which the Zionist movement shrouds its project.
Ilan Pappe has been one of Israel's most internationally acclaimed anti-Zionist historians--or most infamous, depending on which side you're on. His extensive research on the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine has helped shed light on one of the biggest Zionist myths--that Israel's founding was an act of heroism.
At less than 200 pages, Ten Myths About Israel reads like a series of articles, but together, they cover the myths of the past, present and future of the Zionist occupation of Palestine.
Pappe is clear from the beginning--his intention isn't to be "balanced," but to arm activists with the truth. This book isn't just an historical account; it's a call to action.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE FIRST myths he debunks are the oldest Zionist ideas--that Palestine was a "land without a people for a people without a land." Pappe argues against the equation of Zionism with Judaism, explaining that Zionism is actually a political movement to carry out a settler-colonial project.
He shows that Palestinians did not leave voluntarily in 1948, and that the Six Day War of 1967 was initiated by Israel for the purpose of colonizing the rest of Palestine.
Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths About Israel. Verso, 2017, 192 pages, $15.95.
He then moves on to the present, where he lays bare the truth about Israeli "democracy" with its second-class status for its Arab citizens, the siege of Gaza and the hollow promise of peace that the 1993 Oslo Accords really held.
Finally, he shows that the so-called two-state solution--an Israeli state and a viable Palestinian state existing alongside one another--is a non-starter. A democratic state and the right of return for Palestinians forced from their homes by Israeli colonization would be the only just solution.
Pappe starts out by debunking the notion that Palestinian nationalism was a response to Zionism. In truth, it predates Zionism, as did a "thriving Arab society--mostly Muslim, predominantly rural, but with vibrant urban centers." He bases his argument on the work of several scholars, whose research the Israeli foreign ministry chooses to ignore in its propaganda:
The land of Palestine was not empty when the first Zionist settlers arrived there in 1882. This fact was known to the Zionist leaders even before the first Jewish settlers arrived. A delegation sent to Palestine by the early Zionist organizations reported back to their colleagues: "the bride is beautiful but married to another man."
Yet Pappe tells us that Palestinians weren't resistant to Jewish immigration at first. They only began to resist when the Zionist movement sought to establish a Jewish-only economy that barred the employment of Palestinians alongside Jewish workers.
Pappe traces the origin of Zionist ideology to its foundation in Christian scripture.
The theological and religious upheavals of the reformation from the sixteenth century onwards produced a clear association, especially among Protestants, between the notion of the end of the millennium and the conversion of the Jews and their return to Palestine.
Sixteenth century clergy--and 17th and 18th century politicians and military brass, all the way up to Napoleon Bonaparte and John Adams--believed for religious or strategic purposes that Jews would be better off "returning" to their "homeland." There was also an "obvious link between these formative ideas of Zionism and a more longstanding anti-Semitism."
While this is fascinating history, we should be careful not to equate this with a lack of agency on the part of Zionist Jewish philosophers who theorized this national movement in the 19th century on their own accord. Moses Hess in the 1860s and Theodore Herzl in the 1880s, as well as a whole host of other Jewish writers and thinkers, held their own very anti-Semitic persuasions.
Lenni Brenner documented this history in his book Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, as did Nathan Weinstock in Zionism: False Messiah. Zionists blamed Jews for living "parasitically" off their "host," stipulating that only a return from exile would transform them from the sort of "pathetic," "neurotic" or "unhealthy" people they had become.
Brenner described a history of working-class movements that defended Jews in ways the Zionists never did. Zionists, in fact, collaborated with Nazis and other anti-Semites, with whom they shared a common goal--to encourage, cajole or otherwise engineer an exodus of Jews from Europe to Palestine in order to realize their colonial project.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PAPPE ARDENTLY criticizes the conflation of Zionism with Judaism. Contrary to the idea of Zionism as representative of all Jews, he illustrates how widespread Jewish opposition to Zionism was before 1948. Jews of the upper, middle and wealthy classes were disturbed by Herzl's call for Jewish sovereignty since "they had made immense progress in terms of emancipation and integration."
Meanwhile, the orthodox Jewish community rejected Zionism wholesale for "meddling with God's will."
"The great Hasidic German Rabbi of Dzikover summed up this approach bitterly when he said that Zionism asks him to replace centuries of Jewish wisdom and law for a rag, soil and a song (i.e., a flag, a land, and an anthem)," writes Pappe.
Finally, the socialist Bundists thought that "revolution would be a far better solution to the problems of the Jews in Europe than Zionism," he writes.
Pappe demonstrates how the secular Zionist leadership used the Jewish Bible as a pretext to claim a "scriptural right" to the land--"though they did not believe in God, He had nonetheless promised them Palestine," Pappe writes. Prior to Zionism, he continues:
the Bible was not taught as a singular text that carried any political or even national connotation...leading rabbis treated the political history contained in the Bible, and the idea of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel, as marginal topics in their spiritual world of learning. They were much more concerned, as indeed Judaism in general was, with the holy writing focusing on the relationship between believers, and in particular on their relations with God.
Challenging tradition, Zionists interpreted the bible as a story of a nation born in Palestine as an oppressed people, exiled and liberated through warfare.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PAPPE PROVIDES a clear historical overview of the 1948 and 1967 Israeli wars, describing the expulsion and genocide these campaigns were integral to.
Even before 1948, the Zionists aimed "to take over as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians as possible," Pappe writes. He describes the broad consensus in the 1967 coalition government of all Zionist parties. They were determined to annex the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.
Most importantly, Pappe makes sharp and encompassing arguments that dismantle the myth of democracy in Israel.
He describes the military regime that controlled the lives of Palestinians in Israel before 1967 and the one that still dominates in the occupied territories today. And within Israel proper, he documents the denial of land and building permits to Palestinians, as well as the discriminatory division of social benefits and employment.
When he's finished, there's no way anyone could describe Israel as a land offering full civil rights to all its inhabitants. The denial of equal citizenship, says Pappe, is part of the ultimate goal of Zionists to maintain a Jewish state in Palestine, which in a country with so many Palestinians requires "non-democratic means."
Finally, taking up the realities of Gaza and the West Bank, Pappe exposes how the Oslo Accords and the two-state solution were always a tool meant to entrench Israeli occupation in all of historical Palestine. "The two-states solution," writes Pappe, "is like a corpse taken out in the morgue every now and then, dressed up nicely, and presented as a living thing."
When looking to the challenges of the future, Pappe makes his final point:
The funeral [of the two-state solution] should energize us all to follow the same distribution of labor as before. As urgently as ever, Palestinians need to solve the issue of representation. And the progressive Jewish forces in the world need to be more intensively recruited to the BDS and solidarity campaigns. In Palestine itself, the time has come to move the discourse of the one-state solution into political action...
Since the dispossession is everywhere, the repossession and reconciliation will have to occur everywhere. If the relationship between Jews and Palestinians is to be reframed on a just and democratic basis, then we can accept neither the old, buried map of the two-states solution nor its logic of partition...Once the two-states solution is buried, one major obstacle to a just peace in Israel and Palestine will have been removed.
On June 24, Chicago's annual Dyke March--known as a more explicitly left-wing alternative to the city's mainstream Pride events--sparked controversy when pro-Israel marchers claimed they were discriminated against. Colin Wilson argues that we should stand in solidarity with march organizers against attempts at pinkwashing--giving Israel's occupation a pro-LGBT gloss--in an article published at the revolutionary socialism in the 21st century website.
Taking to the streets in Chicago for LGBTQ justice (Chicago Dyke March Collective)
THE DYKE March has taken place annually for over 20 years as an alternative to a Pride Parade as its founders believed was too white, too male and too corporate. This year, three Jewish women were asked to leave the rally at the end of the march: they were carrying rainbow flags with blue Stars of David in the middle.
Accusations of anti-Semitism were made in the following days in a range of mainstream media outlets, as well as in LGBT and Jewish publications. The Washington Blade ran an article headlined "Dyke March Aims for Safe Space for All--Unless You're Jewish." Time's article was headed "Anti-Semitism Is Creeping Into Progressivism." Members of the Dyke March Collective, the 10-strong group which runs the event, received threats of rape and murder.
However, the response of the collective, supported by Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now, has made clear that the dispute which led to the individuals being asked to leave was not about them being Jewish. As a statement by Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago explained, "Many other Jews, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago, were present at Dyke March wearing Jewish symbols, including Stars of David, T-shirts with Hebrew, kippot, and sashes with Yiddish script, and none of them were asked to leave the event, interrogated about their politics, or were the target of any complaints because of their visible Jewish presence."
The dispute, rather, was about the women's vocal support for Israel. Dyke March is an anti-racist and pro-Palestinian event. The Dyke March Collective's statement on the events explains that the people they later removed were disrupting pro-Palestine chants--"replacing the word "Palestine" with "everywhere," saying: "From everywhere to Mexico, border walls have got to go." Even after this had happened, organizers sought to reduce tensions so the pro-Israel marchers could remain at the event, rather than asking them to leave at once--the expulsion happened at the rally after the two-mile march was over.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE PEOPLE concerned, it turned out, were far from being politically naive. Laurel Grauer, one of the people expelled from the rally, is regional director of A Wider Bridge, an Israel advocacy organization. A Wider Bridge's activities are typical of what has become known as "pinkwashing"--the cynical use of claims about Israel's record on LGBT issues to divert attention from its crimes against Palestinians. Anti-pinkwashing activist Dean Spade describes the organization's activities as follows:
A Wider Bridge aims to connect LGBT people in the U.S. with Israel and promote the image of Israel as an LGBT tourism destination. It coordinates tours funded by the Israeli Consulate bringing LGBT Israelis to the U.S. to talk about gay politics in Israel, it hosted a conference with many U.S. LGBT leaders last summer in Israel and had those leaders participate in Gay Pride in Tel Aviv, it promotes Israeli-government funded films that portray Israel as a haven for gay rights in which Palestinians seek refuge, and it brings tours of LGBT people from the U.S. to Israel.
Nor is the Dyke March controversy the first time A Wider Bridge has faced opposition in Chicago. In January 2016, there were protests when the organization tried to hold a reception at Creating Change, a national LGBT conference. Two hundred pro-Palestine activists marched around the venue and got the event closed down.
The track record of A Wider Bridge makes it impossible to believe Laurel Grauer's account of events--that the dispute on the Dyke March was essentially the result of a misunderstanding. Grauer knew that the march was going to call for a "free Palestine," but claimed she didn't see this as contradicting her support for Israel because she supports a "two-state solution" in which a Palestinian state would live in harmony alongside Israel. The thinness of this excuse makes equally unbelievable her claim that she was present in a personal capacity, not as a Wider Bridge staff member.
It's for this reason that the response of anti-occupation Jewish group If Not Now stated that they found it "deeply distressing...to see our fellow American Jews...willfully spreading harmful misinformation" and that, while it was initially suggested that women had been expelled from the rally for carrying the Star of David, those "initial reports were false."
Alexis Martinez of the Dyke March Collective went further in an interview with local alternative paper Windy City Times:
This was not just some isolated incident. This was orchestrated to smear the Dyke March Collective. A Wider Bridge has a history of going after LGBT groups that are anti-Zionist. They're well-funded, highly coordinated and use media tools to stifle any criticism of the State of Israel. Her story was totally false.
Indeed, Martinez asserts that A Wider Bridge came to the event with the intention of provoking an incident which they could then claim demonstrated anti-Semitism– a belief she holds because "the media and social media outrage was almost instantaneous and we got hit from every possible site and angle."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE EVENTS of the Dyke March, an event led by people of color, have to been understood in the broader context of American radical politics. The last few years have seen the growth of Black Lives Matter and a heightened awareness of racism. That awareness has included racism in the LGBT community--a report in Philadelphia in January found that racism was commonplace in the city's gay district, and this June the city added black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag to recognize people of color. Radical activists have stressed the importance of politics which relates to the totality of people's lives, including class, gender, race, sexuality and gender identity. At a personal level, many leading figures in Black Lives Matter were queer, and many of the protestors against A Wider Bridge at Creating Change were people of color.
At the same time, attitudes to Israel within the U.S. are changing. One opinion poll, for example, has found that among people born after 1980, support for the Palestinians has increased three-fold since 2006. This change in attitudes to Israel is also happening among American Jews--as reflected by the establishment of Jewish Voice for Peace in 1996 and of If Not Now in 2014, when the group organized "Mourner's Kaddish" actions in American cities to lament the loss of both Israeli and Palestinian life. Meanwhile, support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions has been growing on American campuses, with further support from churches and trade unionists. And many young Americans of color see similarities between militarized, racist policing in their own country and the oppression of Palestinians under Israeli apartheid. These developments mean that Israel and its supporters have come to see opposition to BDS as a crucial battle.
The principal tactic of Israel and its supporters in that battle is to associate opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism. One good example is that of Canary Mission an anonymously run pro-Israel website which lists the details of hundreds of Palestine activists on American campuses. The aim is to ensure that, when a student graduates and looks for a job, and a prospective employer Googles their name, that name will appear on a website accusing the applicant of anti-Semitism and links to terrorism. Similar attacks have been made against academics. Sarah Schulman, a professor at City University of New York, was presented in March 2016 with a 14-page list of allegations. She commented:
[T]hey went after the student group to which I am the faculty advisor, Students for Justice in Palestine at the College of Staten Island. We systematically went through all of the accusations, ALL of which were fabricated or absurd. For example, SJP was accused of drawing swastikas on the walls of our college. However there is no record of such an incident ever taking place. There is no incident report of anyone ever doing such a thing at CSI, even the president of the college does not recall this ever happening.
Similar smear campaigns have targeted other pro-Palestinian academics in America. And in Britain, of course, we've seen accusations of anti-Semitism used in a cynical and manipulative way to undermine the position of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
There's a similar cynicism in the response to the Dyke March controversy. Time's article claims that there exists "a trend of creeping anti-Semitism among some segments of the political left." Yet it says nothing about genuine anti-Semites with huge power in American society--such as those in the White House. Statements made by the ex-wife of Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and a key figure in the so-called "alt-right," made clear his views about the right school for their daughters--Bannon "didn't want the girls going to school with Jews" because Jews "raise their kids to be 'whiny brats.'"
This broader context, as well as the facts about what happened on June 24, means we have to stand squarely in solidarity with the Chicago Dyke March Collective. We need to reject attempts to brand support for Palestine as anti-Semitism--and we need to fight the real anti-Semites, not fake ones.
First published at rs21.
Last year, protests erupted against the regime of Morocco's King Mohammed VI when a street vendor was crushed to death in a garbage truck during a confrontation with police. The demonstrations have continued to escalate through the northern Rif region, including a general strike that took place in June, despite a crackdown by the state. Syrian socialist author and activist Joseph Daher describes the ongoing struggles in Morocco in a report originally published at International Viewpoint.
Mass protests sweep the streets of Al Hoceima in Morocco
POPULAR MOBILIZATION in the Moroccan Rif continued through June 2017 and has spread to several of the country's towns, despite repression by security forces and the regime's attempts to discredit the movement. Meanwhile, several thousand police officers have been sent to Al Hoceima to stop the demonstrations.
On June 2, a general strike was launched from the town of Al Hoceima at the initiative of al-Hirak al-Shaabi [the Popular Movement] against the authoritarian policies of the government and for the release of imprisoned activists of the movement--in particular Nasser Zefzafi, a popular leader arrested on May 29 under the pretext that he had, three days earlier, interrupted the imam's sermon in the mosque relaying the regime's propaganda accusing the demonstrators of sowing "fitna" (discord) in the country. Since then, demonstrators have boycotted prayers in the pro-regime mosques. This strike day was marked by numerous confrontations between demonstrators and the repressive forces of the state.
On June 5, two leading members of al-Hirak were arrested: Nabil Ahamjik, considered to be the movement's number two, and Silya Ziani, one of the new figures involved in the demonstrations. Nawal Ben Aïssa, a high profile figure in the movement, was also questioned by the police on June 7. Another leader, El Mortada Amrachaa, was arrested in Al Hoceima on the evening of June 10, before being released on bail on June 23. Several journalists have been arrested. Some of the detainees have launched a limited hunger strike.
These arrests only fed the anger of the several thousand demonstrators who meet every night in Al Hoceima and the surrounding area. There have been more than 120 arrests since the beginning of the protest. Sentences of up to 18 months imprisonment have been handed down against 40 detainees and 18 others have been released on bail. An intervention by dozens of police in riot gear on the beaches of Al Hoceima to dissuade bathers from chanting slogans in favor of al-Hirak has gone viral on social networks.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE MOVEMENT of popular protest has spread to several other cities, including Rabat, Casablanca and Tangiers, in the form of demonstrations and strikes to denounce social and economic marginalization following the appeal of some political parties, trade unions and human rights organizations.
Demonstrations in solidarity with the popular movement in the Rif and its demands have also subsequently been organized in Rabat and other big cities. An appeal for an initiative centralized in Rabat has been launched in this context with the slogan "We are one country, one people, all against the Hogra." [The term used to refer to the regime's contempt for the people.] This initiative has been supported by a broad spectrum of political forces from the activist sectors of the social movement, the non-governmental left, radical left forces, the independent Islamist opposition, human rights associations, local co-ordinations in support of the Rif, and Amazigh movements.
The objective was to counteract the propaganda of the regime against the accusations of separatism of the movement in the Rif, and to center the struggle on the themes of "Hogra" and social questions, solidarity with the popular mobilization in the Rif and demanding the release of the political prisoners and the end of repression. In addition to these objectives, the opportunity to build a movement on a national scale was also on the agenda. The demonstration organized by the committee of detainee's families was a real success with a participation of between 100,000 and 150,000 people. We should also note the massive role played by women in the mobilizations.
The revolt is then far from over, and the determination of the demonstrators in the Rif persists. Solidarity is developing progressively throughout the country, despite the attempts of the Moroccan monarchy to prevent a snowball effect in the country. Extending the struggle is the key to the success and survival of the movement.
It is moreover in this climate of continuation of popular mobilizations that the forces of order have begun a "progressive" withdrawal from symbolic public places in Al Hoceima and Imzouren, interpreted as a sign of a softening by the authorities.
Solidarity with the struggles for freedom and dignity!
First published at International Viewpoint.