Roaming Charges: Once Upon a Time in Palestine

“If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up. You begin by stopping the torture and killing of the unprotected.”

– Adrienne Rich

+ I’ve heard a lot of people of say that Israel has finally over-reached this time. But what if “over-reaching” is the point? That each fresh atrocity the world tolerates becomes the new benchmark to be exceeded by the next?

+ Almost any atrocity committed against Palestinians will be rationalized and justified merely by Palestinians continued existence, where even the most reflexive acts of self-preservation become an excuse to inflict extreme violence.

+ How perverse to see the Israeli government make its habitual assertion of the “right of self-defense” against a population that it denies the right of a “self” at all.

+ Gaza has become a kind of shooting gallery for missiles that the IDF can fire when and where they want, with or without provocation. The reasoning will be manufactured for international consumption later, if at all.

+ Consider this map by the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs map of internally displace people in Gaza, as of May 20th…

+ The most heinous acts almost always come under the camouflage of virtuous motives.

+ To describe what’s happening in Gaza as a “war” requires a suspension of belief in the concept of proportionality. The battle of Borodino was part of a “war.” These defenseless attacks on civilian homes and buildings are an escalation of Israel’s normal house clearing, using drones and cruise missiles instead of bulldozers.

+ As long as American politicians restrict their criticisms of Israeli atrocities to Netanyahu or “Israeli extremists,” nothing will change. In fact, the underlying injustices of the apartheid system will be legitimized. It’s like placing all of the blame for George Floyd’s death on Derek Chauvin & not the system that put him (and thousands of others) on the streets to do exactly what they trained him to do.

+ The Palestinians are a stubborn impediment to the inexorable growth of the Israeli state. They are an obstacle that must be removed. But removal is not enough. Their cultural identity and history must be erased, all traces of their existence as a people wiped away.

+ Even a badly needed “cease-fire” of the obscene Israeli airstrikes–which to this point Biden can’t even bring himself to demand– would merely return Palestine to the kind of daily violence and terror that the US has come to accept (if not encourage) as routine.

+ The deep bond between Native Americans and Palestinians is based on shared experience: they have both been ruthlessly punished for merely living on their own lands, a mode of existence which in their legalistic way both the US and Israel have sought to criminalize. Both Palestinians and Native Americans know intimately that nothing provokes so-called democratic governments into acts of extreme violence more than their indigenous populations asserting their own basic right to self-determination, a right which these very same governments claim as their own founding principle.

+ What’s morally more depraved: using civilians as human shields to prevent being killed or using the suspected presence of one or two combatants as justification for bombing an entire block of apartment buildings?

+ In order for the US press to decry the “violence” taking place on “both sides”, roughly 150 Palestinians must be killed for each Israeli. Otherwise, the press wouldn’t notice the Palestinian deaths at all.

+ Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have scripted a resolution calling for a “ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas, arguing that violence on “both sides” has cost innocent lives. A ceasefire is welcome, though this resolution is toothless and won’t bring one. But the context it establishes is deeply misleading. Try looking at it through the “all lives matter” lens, so roundly (and rightly) derided by Black Lives Matter. But in this case to even get to the point of “all lives” mattering, 150 Palestinians must be killed for each Israeli.

+ Remember all that spirited malarkey about rejoining the community of nations and taking a multi-lateral approach to foreign policy? Biden has intervened on Israel’s behalf to block four UN ceasefire resolutions, allowing the IDF to target media facilities, refugee camps, apartment buildings, water supplies, hospitals and COVID testing and vaccination facilities. At this point, he is as culpable as Netanyahu and the rest of the Israeli political and military leadership for the war crimes that have transpired over the last week…

+ Many American liberals have convinced themselves that the latest attacks on Gaza prove the need for a “two-state” solution. However, a two-state solution depends on both states being able to elect the government that they want, secure their citizens, protect their property, homes, businesses and lives. Israel will never tolerate such conditions in a Palestinian state, even in the mangled condition it has currently been reduced to. Co-existence when one country (the one with nukes) gets to the set the political terms for the other is impossible–these neo-colonial dictates will always be resisted and should be. Thus the only real solution is one state, composed of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, where all of the citizens are entitled to the same basic rights under law, administered by a democratically-elected government, where every citizen over the age of 18 is allowed to vote, regardless of age, religion, or ethnic identity. The only real solution to an apartheid state is the demolition of the framework of apartheid.

+ Laila al-Arian: “It is still shocking to me that in the midst of a once in a lifetime global pandemic, in a place that is suffering from a high number of virus cases, Israel killed the head of Gaza’s coronavirus response, Dr. Ayman Abu Al-Ouf. And it seems to have barely registered.”

+ This is a real headline for a real column running prominently in a major American “news” outlet…

+ The general strike called by Palestinian workers is beginning to take a bite out of the Israeli economy. The Israel Builders Association reports that only 150 of the 65,000 Palestinian construction workers coming to work in Israel showed up this week, paralyzed building sites, causing losses estimated at nearly $40 million..”We cannot build without them,” the head of the IBA exclaimed.

+ Per capita GDP Gaza: $876; Per capita GDP Israel: $34,185.

+ I’m outraged by the IDF targeting journalists and their offices in Gaza. But they chose to be there and were warned shortly before the airstrikes. Where is the outrage over the bombing apartment buildings and refugee camps, the places where civilians live and have no shelter to flee to, the place where children are being indiscriminately killed, including 10 more this morning? Has the Biden administration “communicated” its “concern” about that?

+ I know many reporters in Gaza. None of them would be considered “media elites,” especially the stringers for the AP or reporters for Al Jazeera, which also had its offices in the building destroyed by IDF airstrikes. Gaza is not anyone’s idea of a dream assignment. Many of us rely on their dispatches and we should all be concerned about their safety and their ability to file reports as the missiles hit Gaza. The question is whether this concern for the safety of civilians is being applied universally. The answer to that is chillingly clear…

+ Fares Akram is one of the AP correspondents in Gaza…

+ There was extensive reporting on the IDF’s targeting of the building that housed the AP and Al Jazeera in Gaza, but very little on the more than 12 Arab media outlets that were destroyed two days before the airstrikes that took out the AP.

+ In American politics, some lives are worth less than others. And Palestinian lives are worth nothing at all.

+ If East Jerusalem was West Palm Beach, what politician would deny the right of its residents to “stand their ground” against a home invasion?

+ Biden announced as a reward for the “ceasefire” he will replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, a military technology that so distorts the balance of power as to leave Israel nearly invulnerable and Gaza utterly defenseless.

+ Meanwhile, Biden is imposing restrictions on aid to Gaza!

+ It’s very Bidenesque to claim credit for negotiating a ceasefire when he refused to talk with Hamas. Doesn’t this prove–for anyone who still needed it–that the “fire” was one way?

+ Some may call AOC’s House resolution to block US arms sales to Israel a “perfomatory gesture.” Yet similar “functionary gestures” across the decades have ended the careers of other Democratic politicians. See Cynthia McKinney. The question, as always within the suffocating confines of our two corporate parties, is what people can do with these gestures. If AOC runs against Schumer, AIPAC will makes sure this is the dominate issue in the primary campaign. AIPAC doesn’t forget and doesn’t forgive. The knives will be out, but if anyone could survive the onslaught that will come at her, it’s probably AOC. In any event, it will be good to have that fight finally out in the open.

+ AOC is trapped inside a party that doesn’t deserve her and wants to crush her, even though they don’t realize that she could be their road to salvation, though it’s a kind of salvation they’d rather renounce than submit to…

+ Nice try, Ben, but I expect better work next time. The word “Palestine” comes from “Philistia,” the name Herodotus and other Greek writers ascribed to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century BCE occupied the area between modern Tel Aviv and Gaza….

+ What does a “path forward look like” for Israelis and Palestinians, NPR asked. Almost certainly something paved by a bulldozer through Palestinian houses…

+ Here’s Emily Wilder’s brave statement on her firing by the AP, after an orchestrated campaign by rightwing thugs on the Stanford campus for some old pro-Palestinian tweets, which she’d already made her glutless editors fully aware of (not that that should matter)…

+ To those who say Rahm Emanuel doesn’t belong in the Biden administration, I’d ask: Have you taken a close look at the Biden administration? Of course, he belongs. Rahm is one of them. He probably vetted half the administration for their previous positions. They’d be doing Rahm-like things without him. But with Emanuel on board, you’re more likely to see them coming.

+ Don’t say Biden doesn’t keep his promises. He vowed to give Neera Tanden a job in his White House and she just landed one.

+ To publicly announce that you are “refraining from opining” when children in refugee camps are being blown to bits is one of the most insidious and cowardous forms of “opining” I can imagine…

+ Dr. Jill to Madame Prosecutor: “Go fuck yourself, Kamala!

+ Hot Off the No Shit News Wire (Economist feed): According to several indicators of societal well-being, America ranks worse than other rich countries…

+ With just a week before the start of the Americas’ Olympic qualifying tournament in Florida, the Biden administration still has not issued visas for the Cuban baseball team to travel to the US.

+ Amid the mass confusion regarding the CDC’s new mask rules, Anthony Fauci has been hauled out to once again blame the public for “misinterpreting” the guidelines. Yet, few people have misinterpreted the basic science and politics of masks more egregiously than Fauci himself, starting from the very beginning of the pandemic, when he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that COVID was transmitted through the air and instead of masks urged vigorous handwashing. He’s spent the last year trying to “wash” his own hands of his complicity in the spread of the virus…

+ As the US begins to revert to it’s normal every-day-is-spring-break lifestyle, in Argentina overworked and stressed out gravediggers are begging for vaccines

+ There’s no question many of the richest nations got hit hard by COVID, but most of the dying has taken place elsewhere, largely away from the media cameras. The latest estimates put the actual global COVID death toll at between 7 and 13 million, two to three times the official count.

The kind of people who have been running our intelligence operations since the Cold War, people just like Mike Flynn, would have been too bat shit crazy for Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern to have written a credible role for in Dr. Strangelove…

 

+ And you thought that degree from Prager University was worth less than the one you got from Trump University. Little did you know how deeply its professors had absorbed the writings of Rousseau and were willing to distribute them to the masses (for a small fee automatically deducted from your debit card)…

+ My old colleague Ken Silverstein has unleashed the wrecking ball on Glenn Greenwald with a series of devastating pieces in Washington Babylon. Start here:…”Demolishing the unwarranted reputation of Glenn Greenwald — great reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner, brave outsider, independent journalist, truth-teller, he and his fans believe — is, happily, a lot easier than it sounds, especially as I worked with him for a stretch at The Intercept and have followed his work for many years. But it also requires some time, which is why I’ll be writing a series of stories about him and publishing more by other writers all week long. This introduction and today’s two other stories, one about the broader, toxic ecosphere in which he operates and the other a Q&A with a journalist from Brazil about his work in that country — is just the start.”

+ Meanwhile, Sean Spicer and company have convened on Rupert Murdoch’s straight-shooting TV outlet to discuss bias in the media…

+ It really takes some deft maneuvering to outflank Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot from the right, but here’s Tulsi peddling white grievance in an audition for a run in the 2024 GOP primaries or a show on Newsmax…Whites are a minority in Chicago (44.5) so it makes sense that the mayor should “prioritize” questions from journalists of color, not even taking into account the many, many decades when mayors of Chicago took no questions from journalists of color or even admitted them into the press room…And think of it this way: being locked out of mayoral press conferences is to be relieved of the tedium of asking obvious questions and getting boilerplate answers, freeing them to get out on the streets and engage in some real journalism. (Yeah, probably not.)

+ According to the latest talking points of the GOP (and, increasingly, many Democrats), unemployed people should rush to rejoin the labor force as a matter of dignity, where “dignity” means working for less pay than it takes to live for people who make more than they will ever spend.

+ Somehow being better off not working, rather than working for a wage you can’t live on or in conditions that may threaten your life, is a “deprivation.” But exactly who is being deprived and of what? The bosses who profit from your risky and underpaid work?

+ Biden has let it be known to Bernie Sanders and others that he doesn’t want to fight Republicans over unemployment benefits. Which begs the question: What does he want to fight them over?

+ One of the things you really have to admire about Trump is the way he continues to leverage the S/M relationship with the Republican Party. The more servile they act towards him, the more furiously he spits in their faces

+ The Linda Linda’s are my new favorite group…(Love that Bikini Kill t shirt.)

+ Marx 1, Space Force 0 (On an own goal).

+ A scathing new report on the brutal actions of Boston’s police commissioner, Dennis White, shows that the rot starts from the top:: White is depicted as having repeatedly battered his wife, holding her face to a stove, burning her hair, kicking and choking her. He also engaged in “heated fisticuffs” with a 19-yea- old girl. The BPD knew about it and covered it all up.

+ In San Diego last week, cops beat the crap out of a disoriented homeless man who was just trying to find a safe place to urinate: “the officer in question is heard saying expletives and telling Evans to stop resisting arrest as his fellow officer tries to gain control of the man’s legs. When officers instructed Evans to put his hands behind his back, they again punched his head and legs and continued to tell him to stop resisting.”

+ “Died after a pursuit” is a stunningly passive way to describe how Ronald Greene’s life actually came to such an abrupt end…”Ronald Greene, a Black man who died after a pursuit by Louisiana State Police in 2019, can be heard apologizing to officers and telling them he was scared before being tased, dragged and kicked in newly obtained body camera video by the Associated Press.”

+ The states which mostly stridently profess the sanctity of individual liberty are almost always the ones least likely to tolerate it in practice. A recent example: Mississippi’s Supreme Court just rejected a medical marijuana-legalization initiative approved by the state’s voters.

+ US House candidate Anthony Bouchard (running against Liz Cheney from the Trump right) told the Casper Star-Tribune this week that he had a relationship with and impregnated a 14-year old girl when he was 18, claiming: ‘It’s like the Romeo and Juliet story.'” Over to you, Tybalt, and don’t blow it this time…

+ Isn’t this an outtake from Aristophanes’ The Clouds?

+ Imagine a comedy team where Sabatini plays straight man to Plato, just setting him up for jokes at one Elks Club venue after another, all the way from Dodge City, Kansas to Tonopah, Nevada…

+ Chainsaw Joe: Biden forest plan calls for increasing “treatments” (ie, logging) by 2 to 4 times, using climate change as the (bogus) rationale…If it comes down to a choice between Trump’s raking and Biden’s logging, I’m getting my rake out…

+ After close inspection, it turns out that Biden’s much vaunted moratorium on new oil drilling on federal lands may not be (Quelle surprise!) a moratorium at all

+ The Biden Administration went to court this and argued for transnational mining giant Rio Tinto and against the Apache in support of the mammoth copper mine the Trump administration fast-tracked for the sacred lands at Oak Flat. I’m already sick of these people. Send them back…

+ Biden’s pick to head the BLM is a longtime Montana natural “resource” politico named Tracy Stone-Manning. I’ve followed Manning’s meteoric career with considerable interest for the last 30 years, during which time our paths have crisscrossed on several occasions. At each stage on her arc of power there have been subtle shifts in her persona, only the flamboyant red curls have remained the same. Manning’s politics are run-of-the mill awful, made worse by her totally undeserved reputation as an environmentalist. But it’s a grift she’s played from her earliest days in Missoula. As a student as the University of Montana, she hung out with environmental radicals and married the journalist Richard Manning, who was canned from the Missoulian after his groundbreaking reporting on the environmental crimes of Plum Creek Timber. As director of the Clark Fork Coalition, Stone-Manning earned a reputation as a deal cutter, an environmentalist who could work with industry, even some of the vilest industries, like the mining companies. This capacity for compromise earned her a position as the top environmental aide for Senator Jon Tester, where she scripted a rider to a Defense Authorization bill delisting wolves in Montana and Idaho after environmental groups had sued and won a case overturning the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own plan to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list. She was the architect of Tester’s awful mandated public lands logging bill, which would have greatly expanded clearcutting on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, parts of the Lolo and Kootenai National Forests, while also releasing numerous Wilderness Study Area for logging, motorized travel and development. From there, Manning was named the Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality where she approved a permit for a controversial copper mine in the Smith River watershed. Environmentalists promptly sued her and won. Stone-Manning (who by this time had become known as Stone-Mining) approved an “absurd” Clark Fork River pollution permit for the new owners of the old Smurfit-Stone pulp mill just west of Missoula that would’ve allowed them to dump toxic effluent into the Clark Fork River at the same levels that old Smurfit-Stone did. Stone-Manning was sued (successfully) by her old group the Clark Fork Coalition and local tribes. Next Stone-Manning was named chief of staff for Montana’s then Governor Steve Bullock, where she worked in secret with the timber industry to sell out environmental groups by opening five million acres of Montana forest lands, including inventoried roadless lands and lynx and grizzly bear habitat, for fast track logging without any environmental review. But what provided the fuel for Stone-Manning’s extraordinary ascent? Missoula in the early 90s was the epicenter of the radical environmental movement in the US with a very rambunctious Earth First! contingent that had engaged in some dramatic and effective direct action protests across the Rockies, which soon drew the attention of the FBI and other police agencies. Stone-Manning herself was reportedly under scrutiny. Then activists were investigated, some were busted, the group shattered under the pressure. But Stone-Manning’s career, almost alone among her former compatriots, began its remarkable rise through the very agencies she’d once berated and protested as an activist. Many EF!ers over the years have sold out, gone corporate and started cutting deals with timber and mining companies. It’s an old story. But none of them have ended up running government agencies, never mind the BLM. So some longtime Missoula activists still wonder whether Stone-Manning cut some deal with the feds, all those years ago, or more sinisterly was a conduit for information from the beginning, when she was acting as spokesperson for Missoula EF! She did admit during a public hearing that she had passed at least one letter from an environmental radical to the feds.

+ One other possible explanation for Stone-Manning’s extraordinary career arc is the fact that her father was a hot shot in the Navy, who commanded a nuclear submarine, and later became a defense contractor, which is, of course, what we have instead of an aristocracy here in America.

+ Gina McCarthy, Biden’s climate advisor, is pitching the infrastructure package as a green jobs program. As Obama’s gutless EPA administrator, McCarthy was the person who turned a blind eye to the poisoning of Flint. When Flint needed an emergency infrastructure “upgrade” to make its drinking water safe, McCarthy was AWOL (and Obama was sipping Flint water to show (wrongly) it was fine). The fact that she got another job with that ongoing environmental crime on her blotter sheet reveals all you really need to know about the real nature of the Biden green team and the hypocrisy of the DC “eco” groups who have lauded her appointment.

+ Jane Goodall: “30 years ago, an estimated 1 million chimpanzees lived in the wild. Today there are as few as 34,000.”

+ Freshwater gastropods are currently going extinct at a faster rate than the Cretaceous Extinction, when the biodiversity loss caused in a matter of centuries took up to ten million years to undo…Don’t worry, Biden’s got a plan for that!

+ Wildlife (Funeral) Services killed a grizzly in the foothills of Montana’s Big Snowy Range for feeding on the carcass of a dead cow. Cows, who are interlopers grizzly territory, ought to be offered as sacrifices to these lords of the mountains, not the other way round.

+ This clip of wolf pups emerging from their den to make their first howls in the wild made an otherwise shitty morning tolerable…

+ Why are these unvaccinated people having “extended close contact” with vaccinated people? Were they group binge watching the Netflix Halston mini-series? That may explain the vertigo, headaches, cramping and nausea…

+ Among Al Gore’s many inexplicable campaign blunders in 2000 was his decision to hire Naomi Wolf as an image consultant.

+ A good friend of mine was Wolf’s floor-mate at Yale, where the signs of mental rot were already evident.

+ Having exhausted Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, I’ve turned my attention to Victor Hugo and Christine Donougher’s brisk recent translation of Les Misérables, weighing in at a robust 1400 pages. This is a novel I thought I knew without having read. After 50 pages, I could tell I didn’t know it at all. Hugo’s panorama of post-Napoleonic France is vast, but each vista is minutely observed. And there’s a fervor to the prose, even in translation, that I hadn’t expected. It’s the electric fervor of a convert. In 1848, Hugo had helped suppress the February Revolution. Two years later, he had undergone a radical transformation, in part because of the official brutality he’d witnessed and the privation that drove people to the streets; in part because his opposition to the coup of Louis Napoleon had forced him into exile once more. His prose seethes with indignation, as the multiple threads of the novel are knit together, as meticulously as Madame Defarge’s work in the shadow of the awful blade. At a steady pace of 15 pages a day, I should finish by the end of summer–unless it finishes me.

+ Here’s a proposition: Dirk Bogarde is the greatest male film actor of the 20 century. As evidence, I don’t offer his acclaimed roles in Losey’s The Servant or the Red Count’s Death in Venice, but how compulsively watchable he was in really bad movies, such as the mess Fassbinder made of Nabokov’s Despair.

+ If standing up to Israel (even briefly) is the best thing Jimmy Carter ever did, then putting on this concert featuring jazz luminaries at the White House was surely a close second. We’ll never see anything remotely like it again. Here’s the menu and lineup (Thanks to Ted Gioia. Sign up for Ted’s Substack. It’s an edifying blast.)

+ One notable absence was Miles Davis, who was in a forbidding place then, largely secluded in his condo, hooked on pain meds, playing “spooky voodooo chords” in the dark, according to Sly Stone, who tried unsuccessfully to draw him out into the daylight.

+ “You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground, there ought to be a law against you comin’ around”…Bob Dylan was spotted running errands in public for the first time in a decade.

+ This sounds like the plot of a David Cronenberg film: “A fungus that emits a kind of amphetamine is infecting some cicadas and causing their genitals to fall off — while prolonging their sexual stamina and making them want to obsessively mate with everyone.”

How Many Kids They’ve Murdered? Only God Can Say…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Haunted by Slavery: a Memoir of a Southern White Woman in the Freedom Struggle
Gwendolyn Midlo Hall
(Haymarket)

Rememberings
Sinéad O’Connor
(Houghton Mifflin)

White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism
Andreas Malm and the Zetkin Collective
(Verso)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Sunrise Reprise
Chris Potter
(Edition)

Sing to the World
Benito Gonzalez
(Rainy Days)

The Blue Elephant
Matt Berry
(Acid Jazz)

The Anger of Justice

“Justice has its anger, monsieur l’évéque, and the anger of justice is an element of progress. In any case, and whatever anyone may say, the French Revolution is the greatest step forward taken by the human race since the advent of Christ. Unfinished, maybe, but sublime. It has worked out all the unknowns in the social equation. It has tempered minds, calmed, appeased, enlightened. It has sent tides of civilization sweeping across the earth. It has been a good thing. It is the consecration of humanity.” (Victor Hugo, Les Misérables)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3