Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Direct Action in Bay Area

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jewish Conscience: Reports from National Day of Direct Action against Israeli Bombing

Check out this amazing website which features video, photos, and press
releases from several direct actions that took place across the country
yesterday in response to the ongoing Israeli agresssion in Labonon & Gaza!
Poll Shows a Shift in Opinion on Iraq War

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort, a jump of 10 percentage points since June. That increase comes despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of a strategy to prevent domestic terrorism. Read more...
To Lebanon With Love (More Time To Bomb)

Some Post Lebanon Cease-Fire Stats

Numbers of people killed (7/12-8/14):

[Lebanon]: nearly 1,300 civilians confirmed killed while bodies are still being dug
up from under the rubble, Estimates of Hizballah fighters killed range from 100 to 600.

[Israel]: 43 civilians, 114 soldiers killed

Destruction of infrastructure (7/12-8/14)

[Lebanon]: 15,000 homes, 29 ports, airports, water and sewage treatment plants, power plants 630 roads, 23 fuel stations, 73 bridges; 7,000 private homes; 900 businesses and farms.

[Israel]: Dozens of homes, public buildings, businesses, and forests

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Build the US Social Forum!
(from Zapagringo)

The US Social Forum (USSF) process may just be our best opportunity in decades to build a broad movement "from below and to the left" in this country. It might not be the Other Campaign, but this ain't Mexico. The actual forum, scheduled to take place next year from June 27th to July 1st in Atlanta, is not the ultimate organizing goal but rather one step in a networking process that has already begun and will continue after the first national forum is over.

According to the USSF website,

Next summer's Forum plans to address four key current issues--the Gulf Coast Crisis, Immigration, Environmental Justice, and War/Violence--throught the lens of white supremacy, local/global economic justice, culture, and movement building. There will also be space for self-organized workshops that fall outside of the four issues, but are still deeply connected to the overarching lens.

The Forum could be an excellent space for education and analysis around the Zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, for networking and strategizing amongst Mexicans and Chicanos in the US who are a part of the Other Campaign, and for those of us who are building the intergalactic network. The participation of poor and working-class people is a central concern of the USSF organizers and it should be for us, who seek to build a left movement "from below," as well.

Project South is the "anchor organization" working to build the US Social Forum as part of the local host committee, the USSF organizing committee, and the national planning committee. Both the USSF organizing and national planning committees are made up from members of the working groups and regional committees. Both individuals and groups can participate in the working and regional committees although only organizations are eligible for seats on the USSF organizing and national planning committees.

Now is a great time to get involved! Join a regional committee, mobilize people to attend the forum, propose a workshop or employ your artistic talent, raise money and resources for the USSF and specifically to support poor and working-class attendees, publicize the forum, make sure that youth are an integral part of the USSF, or just sign up to volunteer!

If you want to get involved but still have some questions about where to get started, Alice Lovelace, the USSF national lead staff organizer, is a good person to ask...

For people in my region, there will be a regional meeting for the USSF Northeast from September 22-24 during the Connecting the Local & the Global Conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For more information about organizing for the USSF here in the Northeast, contact Suren Moodliar.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hizbullah Victorious Again

To get a sense of how Hizbullah is emerging after their most recent defense against the Israeli army (what most people in the region seem to be cleary seeing as a victory), check out this interesting article in todays New York Times.

It is hard for most people in the US, even the most conscious left activists, to break out of their internalized anti-arab, anti-muslim, hysteria and see the importance of the recent developments in Lebanon. Hizbullah has proved to indeed be the last remaining resistance force in the Middle East, the most strategically important region in the entire world, that is able to stand up to US/Israeli imperialism. In the face of a silent international community, a long row of Arab puppet regimes falling over themselves to get in line with the US response, and a (as usual) paralyzed UN, Hizbullah was the only group standing in the way of the oncoming Israeli tanks and US "precision guided" missles heading towards civilian targets throughout Lebanon.

While Israel, with as always full US support, moved in to occupy and destroy much of Southern Lebanon over this past month, most progressives were paralyzed and did not know how to respond. Some decided it would be useful to write essays on how Hizbullah represented a "right-wing" force. While making some important points (Hizbullah is in fact not a "left wing" force and holds many values that would contradict our notions of equality and social justice, duh!), these critiques seemed a little out of touch and somewhat cold and calculated in the face of what was actually going on in Lebanon at the time.

Other anarchist activists I happened to be on a discussion list with forwarded bizarre statements like this one from England, which basically wanted to "call out the left for supporting Hizbullah", a claim which is so ridiculous it is hard to know where to start. From what i saw pretty much everyone, from the new york times to progressive zionists, to liberal anti-war coalitions, were pointing out how somehow Hizbullah started this "conflict" by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and that people needed to be clear on that as they went out to protest the "disproportionate reaction."

Now it is true that my perspective is heavily influenced by the fact that several of my political mentors happen to be long time Lebanese activists, including Bilal El-Amine who has been couragously reporting from the front lines in Southern Lebanon over the past few weeks on Flashpoints Radio every weeknight. I heard first hand what it was like for their family to go through this horrifc past month. What is was like to get their sick elderly father airlifted out of Lebanon, their aunt staying behind because she did not have the will to move out of her home yet again at her age. You could hear in Bilal's voice, as he reported every night, what the Hizbullah resistance meant to him and the majority of the Lebanese people. Where as usually, as a local media activist in Lebanon, he would be dealing with all of the problems that they presented as a political movement, now he saw that they were the only ones to defend the country and could appreciate their heroic resistance against great odds.

Now does this mean that we go and hang our green and yellow Hizbullah flags out of our Lower East Side apartments? No, i dont think so. It simply means that we have to work harder to understand the complexities of resistance to foreign occupation forces (whether in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq...) and to have the decency to not dictate the politics or terms of those forces from behind our computer screens as we sit on our IKEA couches.

Political Islam emerged in the Middle East through a complicated process that was very different then for example the Nazi facists in Europe or the Christian fascists here in the US. Trying to impose our analysis of how those movements grew and our opposition to those movements onto a region like the Middle East will fundamentally be flawed. We have to understand the role of US intervention in the suppression of secular democratic and left forces in the region, and what that means for our political movements right now.

In the meantime, for more background reading check out the following interviews with Gilbert Achcar:

Besides this older interview with Achcar back in 2000, check out the recent one hour radio interview he recently did on Against the Grain together with Lara Deeb who recently authored an informative primer on Hizbullah on MERIP's website.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Protesting Israeli invasion in Washington DC

Monday, August 07, 2006

Im not the biggest George Galloway fan on the block, but this video is pretty impressive. Galloway takes on this anchor on sky tv and shoots down each lie that
the anchor throws at him then he goes after her personally.

Friday, August 04, 2006

From Beirut to ... those who love us
(Broadband Video)

Defending my enemy's enemy

Question to the U.S. left and anti-war movement about the current war in
Lebanon: If we want Israel to fail in its stated objective to destroy
Hezbollah, does that mean we want Hezbollah to win?

The Israeli attacks on Lebanon are a mass atrocity, a calculated,
long-planned campaign of terror that is inflicting vastly more suffering
on civilians in Lebanon than Israelis are facing from Hezbollah missiles.
Since 1978, Israel has invaded or occupied Lebanon repeatedly and has
killed tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians. This is closely bound up
with the long history of Israeli land theft, persecution, and mass
violence against the Palestinian people, and the current Lebanon war is
bound up with the latest Israeli violence in Gaza and the West Bank. In
these attacks, the Israeli state has acted largely as U.S. imperialism's
number one client and proxy, its actions interlinked with Washington's
occupation of Iraq.

So let's be clear: We have a pressing responsibility to defend the
Lebanese people, demand an immediate end to Israeli attacks, and expose
the deadly U.S. role in the conflict.

But let's be clear about something else too: The fact that Israel and the
United States want to destroy Hezbollah does not make it a positive
political force. To be sure, Hezbollah has staunchly resisted Israeli
aggression for years. It runs a sizeable network of social services and
has a solid base of popular support centered in the largely poor Shi'i
community but cutting across denominational lines. Yet no matter how
courageous its fighters may be, no matter how many schools and hospitals
it runs, Hezbollah is essentially a right-wing political movement. Its
guiding ideology is Khomeini-style Islamic fundamentalism. Hezbollah's
political ideal, the Islamic Republic of Iran, enforces medieval religious
law, imposes brutal strictures on women and LGBT people, persecutes
religious and ethnic minorities, and has executed tens of thousands of
leftists and other political dissenters. This is not exactly a liberatory

In the framework of our basic opposition to the Israeli attacks, it's
important for us to be open about our political criticisms of Hezbollah.
That doesn't mean echoing the U.S. government/mass media line -- criticism
doesn't mean demonization. Even if we accept that some Hezbollah armed
actions have wrongly targeted civilians, it's transparent nonsense to say
that Hezbollah is a group of "terrorists" and Israel is just trying to
defend itself. It's quite possible that Hezbollah sometimes engages in
anti-Jewish scapegoating, but the organization is not continuing Hitler's
work and does not exist in order to kill Jews. Rather than try to impose
Islamic rule on Lebanon by force, Hezbollah has repeatedly acknowledged
the country's pluralistic character. And Hezbollah is not the root cause
of the conflict with Israel. It is primarily a response -- a deeply flawed
one -- to Israeli and western aggression in Lebanon and the Middle East,
and to the oppression of the Shi'i community.

Among the statements on the Lebanon war I've seen so far from U.S. leftist
and anti-war groups, most condemn the Israeli attacks against the Lebanese
people but say little or nothing about Hezbollah's politics. Two notable
exceptions are the Workers World Party and the Spartacist League, both in
statements dated July 21, 2006. Workers World describes Hezbollah as the
leader of a "national resistance movement" and argues that, for both
Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, Islam "is the ideological form
whose actual content is the struggle against imperialism." An article
published in Workers World newspaper four days later describes Hezbollah
as "a guerrilla resistance army with Islamic leadership" which "gained
wide political legitimacy for its determined resistance and its
well-organized, non-corrupt social services."

The Spartacist League takes Workers World to task for "prettifying"
Hezbollah in this manner, and notes that during the Cold War both the
United States and Israel "fostered the growth of Islamic reaction as a
counterweight to Communism and secular nationalism." The Spartacists
declare, "As Trotskyists, we in the Spartacist League militarily defend
Hezbollah against the Israeli military machine in this conflict, while
maintaining our political opposition to this reactionary fundamentalist

I know it's not popular to say nice things about the Sparts, but on this
issue they take a good position and Workers World takes a bad one. To
treat Hezbollah as anti-imperialist while glossing over its right-wing
religious ideology is dishonest, simplistic, and short sighted from a
propaganda standpoint, because it leaves you open to easy critique. The
Spartacists' double-edged position -- we oppose Hezbollah's politics but
defend them against Israeli attack -- respects people's intelligence more
and offers U.S. activists a clearer and more principled way of relating to
the conflict. It acknowledges the war's political complexity, instead of
reducing it to Good Guys versus Bad Guys, but it also doesn't treat the
two sides as equivalent or mirror images -- it takes a stand.

What's missing from the Spartacist League position, however, is a clear
recognition that Hezbollah is both right wing and anti-imperialist. I
don't mean Hezbollah is inconsistent -- I mean its opposition to Zionism
and its U.S. patron is rooted in a right-wing philosophy. This doesn't fit
conventional leftist categories, but it's not unique. Although the Islamic
right was helped by the United States and Israel during the Cold War,
today it includes some of the most militant and strategically important
opponents of these same governments. (Hamas, the Taliban, and al Qaeda are
other prominent examples, very distinct from each other and from
Hezbollah.) We may not like this situation, but we need to find ways to
understand it and deal with it.

The title of this essay refers to the book My Enemy's Enemy (Kersplebedeb,
2001), which warned that far-right politics were strong and growing within
the anti-globalization movement -- and that many leftists were wittingly
or unwittingly complicit in fostering this growth. My Enemy's Enemy helped
crystallize the concept of a "three-way fight" to describe the global
political situation. Instead of an essentially binary struggle between
right and left, between the forces of oppression and the forces of
liberation, three-way fight politics posits a more complex struggle
centered on the global capitalist ruling class, the revolutionary left,
and the revolutionary right. The latter encompasses various kinds of
fascists and other far rightists who want to replace the dominance of
global capital with a different kind of oppressive social order. This
means there is no guarantee that militant challenges to global capitalism
-- including popular anti-imperialist struggles -- will take a progressive
or liberatory form.

Three-way fight politics is still a new and primitive analytic tool, but I
think it's an important framework for discussion and a helpful corrective
to oversimplifications that are common on the left. The Lebanon war
highlights the concept's usefulness as well as the need to develop it
further. Three-way fight politics has largely been used to draw a line
between leftist and rightist versions of insurgent politics, to help
leftists recognize the differences and warn them against dangerous
alliances. Sometimes -- as with the anti-globalization movement -- that's
exactly what's needed. But sometimes -- as with the Israeli attacks on
Hezbollah and the people of Lebanon -- what we need to do is defend
rightist forces, in specific ways and specific situations, against a
greater political threat. My enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend,
but sometimes we need to defend people who are not our friends.

This approach to the Lebanon war raises many questions that I won't try to
answer here. Within the basic outlines I've presented, what does critical
defense of Hezbollah include and what does it exclude? What kinds of
tactics and slogans best represent this position? Beyond the immediate
situation, when does this kind of stance make sense, and when is it
counterproductive? How, concretely, does it differ from solidarity with
leftist forces? Given that right-wing anti-imperialist fighters are tying
down U.S. imperialism and its allies in several countries, to what extent,
if any, could this widen the space for liberatory movements? Such
questions merit serious discussion, and that can only happen if we go
beyond a simplistic Us-versus-Them model of politics. George Bush declared
after September 11th: Either you are with us or against us. Surely we can
do better than that.