Greece | Palestine/Israel | South Africa | Russia | Iraq

Stathis Kouvelakis: The Reality of Retreat (Jacobin)

Syriza’s deal with Greece’s creditors hasn’t bought more time or avoided austerity. It’s demobilized Greek workers.

Illusions about a two-state solution in the “Holy Land” shattered once again:
AP: Israel’s new deputy foreign minister: ‘This land is ours. All of it is ours’ (Guardian)
Patrick Strickland: “This land is ours,” says Israel’s top diplomat, citing religious texts (Electronic Intifada)

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, vowed to continue building Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in a recent speech to ministry employees…
Hotovely’s statements are nothing new, and she has in the past been outspoken about her expansionist designs. In 2013, while serving as deputy transportation minister, she accused her colleagues in the Likud party of exhibiting what she called “schizophrenia.”
Denouncing negotiations towards a two-state solution between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, she reasserted her support for annexation. “Members of our movement [Likud] never agreed to found a Palestinian state.”
“The existence of Jordan is a historic compromise,” she added, recycling a frequent Zionist talking point that Jordan should serve as a national homeland for Palestinians. “Whoever believes in the Greater Land of Israel has never been prepared to give parts of our homeland away for any purpose, not even for peace.” …
Objecting to Hotovely’s plan to annex the whole West Bank and to force Palestinians to accept Israeli citizenship, her fellow Likud member Eli Hazan said: “I’m a Jewish racist, and I’m not embarrassed to say I want a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.”
Hazan’s comments reflect a common argument among many liberal and, to a lesser extent, right-wing Zionists who cite Palestinian birthrates as a “ticking time bomb” or “demographic threat” that could undo Israel’s Jewish majority.

Hotovely: Land of Israel belongs to the Jews (Yedioth Ahronoth)

New Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Thursday told ministry employees that all of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and that Israel had no need to apologize for that.
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” she said in a speech broadcast to Israel’s 106 representations abroad. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”…
The deputy minister ended her comments by quoting from Rashi, the famed medieval Talmud commentator, on the first line of the Torah:
“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she quoted from the commentary.

Lahav Harkov: Hotovely laments Likud ‘schizophrenia’ on two states (Jerusalem Post)
World may find Israel’s new deputy foreign minister hard to swallow (Haaretz)
Herb Keinon: Hotovely as deputy FM won’t make Israel’s position in the world any easier (Jerusalem Post)

This is an account of the 2012 strike at the Marikana Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa, and the massacre that ended it, with some details on the transformation of the African National Congress and its allies from a liberation movement to a ruling party, the big unions, and on the role of leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa and Julius Malema.
Nick Davies: Marikana massacre: the untold story of the strike leader who died for workers’ rights (Guardian)

On 16 August 2012, South African police opened fire on a large crowd of men who had walked out on strike from a platinum mine at Marikana, about 80 miles north of Johannesburg. They shot down 112 of them, killing 34. In any country, this would have been a traumatic moment. For South Africa, it was a special kind of nightmare, since it revived images of massacres by the state in the old apartheid era, with one brutal difference – this time it was predominantly black policemen, with black senior officers working for black politicians, who were doing the shooting.
In response, President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by a retired judge, Ian Farlam, which eventually sat in public for a total of 293 days, hearing evidence from miners, their bosses and the police, and reviewing video, audio and paper records of the shooting and of the seven-day strike that preceded it. At the end of March this year, the commission delivered its report to Zuma, who so far has failed to publish its conclusions. Those who may find themselves accused of colluding in the police action include not only senior figures from the ruling African National Congress but also Lonmin, the British company that owns the Marikana mine.

David Smith: ANC absent from Marikana massacre memorial ceremony (Guardian)
David Smith: Simmering frustration at justice denied a year after Marikana (Guardian)
Greg Nicolson: Two years after Marikana massacre, families still wait for justice (Guardian)

Yet Another Huge Diplomatic Victory for Russia (Information Clearing House)

Unless you read Russian or monitor the free blogosphere, you might not have noticed this, but something big just happened in Russia: Kerry, Nuland and a large State Department delegation have traveled to Sochi were they met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin. With the latter they spent over 4 hours. Not only that, but Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2 Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.

F. William Engdahl: What if Putin is Telling the Truth? (New Eastern Outlook)

Matt Taibbi: Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke (Rolling Stone)

So presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is taking a pounding for face-planting a question about his brother’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently, our national media priests want accountability from leaders on this issue…
But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.
We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.
But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.
Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders…
Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, “knowing what we know now.” But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we’re just not admitting it.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen ShaykhMatt Taibbi on the Journalist & Politician Cheerleaders for Iraq War, Then & Now (Democracy Now)
Greg Sargent: Stop sanitizing the history of the run-up to Iraq War (Washington Post)

[T]his whole line of questioning for Jeb [Bush], while creating untold problems for him, is also having the unintended effect of airbrushing out of the picture some really crucial historical facts about the run-up to the Iraq War. And those historical facts indict the woeful performance of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as well as Republicans, which means that both parties have a strong incentive not to revive them.

Paul Krugman: Lies, Not Mistakes, Led to Invasion of Iraq (TruthOut)

Jeb Bush definitely did us a favor: In attempting not to talk about the past, he ended up bringing back the discussion of the Iraq war, which many political and media figures have been trying to avoid. And of course they’re still trying to avoid it – they want to make sure this just about the horse race, or about the hypothetical question of “if you knew what we know now.”
But that formulation is itself an evasion, as Josh Marshall, Greg Sargent and Duncan Black have pointed out – each making a slightly different but crucial point.
First, as Mr. Marshall, the editor of Talking Points Memo, recently wrote, the Iraq invasion was not a good faith mistake. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t sit down with the intelligence community, ask for its best assessment of the situation and then reluctantly conclude that war was the only option. They decided right at the beginning – even before the dust of 9/11 had settled – to use a terrorist attack by religious extremists as an excuse to go after a secular regime that, evil as it was, had nothing to do with that attack.

Dartagnan: George W. Bush Did Something Much Worse Than Lie Us Into War (Daily Kos)

We’ve been lied into wars before, with similar disastrous results. But George W. Bush did something far worse than lie us into a war: he did it in a breathtakingly cynical and malevolent way–in effect, by holding a gun to every Americans’ head and threatening to pull the trigger. He did it by holding us—all of us—hostage to a twisted ideology that demanded the war, waving the gun at calculated intervals in our face, the way any terrorist would. And he told us flat out, over and over again, that if we didn’t do what he said, we’d all be killed.

Eduardo Porter: A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development (New York Times)

The average citizen of Nepal consumes about 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year. Cambodians make do with 160. Bangladeshis are better off, consuming, on average, 260.
Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.
American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.
The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.

History and food for thought:
Harvey Klehr: America’s top communists of all time (Washington Post)

Earl Browder, Woody Guthrie, W.E.B. DuBois, William Foster and Jay Lovestone, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers, Paul Robeson, Elizabeth Bentley, John Reed, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Howard Fast, Eugene Dennis and Gus Hall

Dylan Matthews: The Washington Post picked its top American Communists. Wonkblog begs to differ (Washington Post)

James P. Cannon, Max Shachtman, James Burnham, Max Eastman, Bayard Rustin, Hilary Putnam, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Pete Seeger, Harry Haywood, Harry Dexter White and [last but not least] Angela Davis

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