Aletho News


Spying on Americans

Presstvupload | December 20, 2010

Press TV’s Saeed Pour Reza talks to Philip Giraldi on ‘Spying on Americans’:

“…many of these state agencies are actually Israeli companies… this happened recently in Pennsylvania, where it was an Israeli company that was collecting this kind of information on war protesters.

“And in the state of New Jersey an Israeli was actually appointed as the homeland security director for the state. So this penetration of American security by Israeli companies and Israeli individuals has been going on for some years…”

– Philip Giraldi, former CIA and military intelligence officer

Monitoring America

By Dana Priest and William Arkin | Washington Post | December 20, 2010

… the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation’s history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI…

Findings include:

* Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.

* The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.

Full Washington Post article

See also: FBI now spying on your garbage

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | 2 Comments

Israel’s media campaign in Europe

By Pascal Boniface | MEMO | 21 December 2010

Pascal BonifaceIsrael’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has summoned his country’s ambassadors in European countries and given them clear instructions to make use of public relations experts to improve the image of the Zionist state in European public opinion. The minister identified specific tasks for the diplomats to complete by 16 June at the latest. One of those tasks is to draw up a list of 1,000 people who are sympathetic to Israel from the major European capitals such as London, Berlin, Madrid and Paris, as well as other cities such as Oslo, Copenhagen and The Hague. The purpose is to be in constant contact with these people and inform them of the Israeli positions on issues of the day, and explain its point of view.

This is a public relations campaign intended to defend Israeli policy and exploit media outlets and other platforms for this purpose. Presumably, those who the minister describes as “allies” on the list of 1,000 in every European capital would take part in pro-Israel demonstrations whenever required. They would also be required to issue statements defending Israel’s policies, publish articles in local newspapers to polish its image and influence public opinion. And, of course, Israel has allocated a significant budget for this campaign, which would be placed under the control of its embassies in the European countries concerned. It could well double the budget allocated for each embassy.

Among those who will be recruited for a mission to defend Israel are journalists and Jewish organizations active in Europe, in addition to some Jewish figures known for their support of Israel. Prominent cultural figures and student organizations will also be recruited; Israeli diplomats will forge special relationships and provide up to date information, regardless of its validity, accuracy or veracity.

In this context, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which launched this media campaign, will play a vital role in providing support for the efforts of its embassies by, for example, leaking political letters about Israel’s Middle East policies, its position on the regional peace process and its relationship to the issues raised on the ground; as well, of course, on the nature of its relationship with the Palestinians. It is expected that Israel will ease its rhetoric concerning the settlements as well as its other provocative behaviour in order to show how committed it is to achieving peace.

But Israel, away from the familiar issues that it will find difficult to gloss over and given what is published by the serious media about its excesses – which it cannot hide – will focus the PR campaign on other matters to make its mark on public opinion. For example, it will highlight economic issues and its distinguished record in this area. It will also feature Israel’s technological progress in addition to a definition of the Jewish state as a tourist destination with many sacred places which Christians long to visit. It will cover up the occupation, violence, land confiscation and home demolitions as they reflect Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. At the same time the Israeli embassies will try through their loyal networks to raise controversial issues pertaining to other Middle Eastern countries, such as the question of human rights in Arab states. It will also seek to scare the West about Islamic groups and “Hezbollah” in order to distract attention from its own human rights and international law violations.

It remains to be seen who will be among the 1,000 recruits in each country; no doubt the Israeli embassies will do everything to conceal their identity. Notwithstanding this, a significant number of these public figures will not hide their clear support for Israel, through articles or their frequent appearance on TV news. Others will adopt a more cautious approach and conceal their identities so that it does not damage their interests in Arab states or the Muslim and Arab communities across Europe.

It should be noted that Israel’s attempt to boost its image comes after it has suffered a significant decline in European sympathy. Europeans are now more willing to be critical of the state without fear of the readymade charge reserved for its critics – anti-Semitism. It will be interesting to see the extent, if any, of the proposed PR campaign, especially as there is no guaranteed outcome. The experience of others might be useful as an indicator. Using its huge influence and presence, France, for example, tried to boost its image during the Algerian war of independence. Despite all attempts to entrench the official version of events, many sectors of the French people were sympathetic to the Algerian liberation movement. In the end, France was forced to review its position in Algeria and relinquish what it had long regarded as an integral part of its territory.

Israel has harnessed huge resources for its information campaign which, nevertheless, lacks credibility; in the internet world it is no longer easy to hide the truth. Globalization and the flow of information have opened up everything. In fact the sympathy that Israel enjoyed in the past when it was seen as a small country in a sea of hostile nations seeking its elimination has dissipated today; such a view is now limited to small right-wing groups and conservatives following Israel’s transformation into a major nuclear-armed power in the region. The ongoing military occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the siege of the Gaza Strip have added to this shift in perception.

World and European public opinion is today especially troubled by Israeli actions in recent years, from the 2006 war against Lebanon and the targeting of its civilian infrastructure; the terrible bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008/9; and, last but not least, its bloody attack on the “Freedom Flotilla”, when nine unarmed men were killed by Israeli commandos. It is obvious, therefore, that if Israel is serious about improving its image, it should look to the origin of its problems and change its policies, bringing about an end to its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and settlement activity. That is the only way for Israel to return to the fold of the international community as a normal state that does not subjugate the Palestinian people or occupy their land.

Source: Al Ittihad, (UAE) 21 December 2010

The author is Director of the Institute of International and Strategic Relations, France.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 2 Comments

Hidden Histories – Book Review

(Basem L. Ra’ad. Hidden Histories – Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean. London: Pluto Press, 2010.)
By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | December 21, 2010

The clear majority of the modern works that examine the Palestine/Israel conflict do so with a strong emphasis on the ‘nakba’ of 1948, with subsequent arguments based on covering events that led up to it, and then arguments based on events that have followed from it. For the former it is usually a discussion of the early Zionist writings merging into early Christian Zionist beliefs in the U.S. and Britain, and then gaining huge momentum from the Balfour Declaration, a statement of policy and not international law or international agreement. For the latter, the post nakba events, much of the focus is appropriately placed on the mechanisms of control established by the newly declared Israeli state up to the 1967 war, and after that critical juncture, a discussion of the settlements and their expropriation/annexation of occupied Palestinian land. The formation of valued international norms of law and human rights since the Second World War, established through various international means (the Nuremburg trials, the UN, the Geneva Conventions and other accepted norms of customary law), plays in important role in these discussions.

Basem L. Ra’ad’s new book “Hidden Histories – Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean” adds a relatively new component to the discussion of Palestinian and regional history. It is impossible to not include the above elements in a discussion of Palestine, yet they receive minimal treatment, almost as an already understood if understated context. Instead, Hidden Histories explores two perspectives that are not completely ignored but not fully well developed, in part because the dominant media discourse of the U.S., Europe, and Israel do not particularly want them to be heard.

The first perspective is to examine the ancient histories of the region through current knowledge of archaeology and linguistics, a duality that highlights not the uniqueness of a chosen people and its exile and return, but the commonality of a stable indigenous population that underwent various permutations and adaptations as different forces controlled to the region to varying degrees.

The second perspective looks at the modern implementation of the Israeli narrative – normally looked at in the manner in which the ethnic history is used to justify the appropriation and annexation of the physical landscape, of the declared intent to settle all of Eretz Israel, as a divine right of the Jewish people. Ra’ad turns this appropriation and annexation perspective and focuses on the appropriation of the cultural artifacts, the cultural heritage, the language, and the cultural beliefs of the indigenous Palestinians, to the extent, as he argues, that the Palestinians themselves are becoming unaware of their own true patrimony and unknowingly reflect Israeli mythology into their own background. This is a very important construct to recognize as it is one of the strongest ways in which a dominant society can not only control but emotionally and culturally delete another culture and its history. The people become others, wanderers in the desert, true “Arabs” who arrived with the Islamic conquests of the seventh century, whose true home is beyond the borders of Israel.

A large part of the work then is a call to awareness for the Palestinian people to be aware of the loss of their patrimony, to re-educate themselves as to what is truly theirs in a cultural sense as well as the with the loss of the land. It has been noted more than once in both revisionist and ‘traditional’ historical writings on Zionism that “early Zionists did not shy away from seeing the Palestinians as rooted in the land from prehistoric times….Up to the 1930s, many Zionist theorists saw the Palestinian farmers or “fellahin” as descendants of Judean peasantry, as Jews who converted to Islam to avoid taxation.” Afterward, following upon the more violent nature of the conflict, the holocaust, and the nakba, the “affinity early Zionists felt toward the local Palestinians, for utilitarian reasons, has now disappeared overall and been replaced by antagonism or dismissal.” Even more effectively Ra’ad argues the “Israelis have appropriated a semblance of nativity and have relegated the Palestinians to cultural invisibility or active demonization within the Zionist system.” By appropriating the nativity of the Palestinians, the Zionists attempt to claim or as they would put it to reclaim their divinely ordained land, their own nativity.

The arguments and presentations cover the historical and archaeological evidence from the early existence of a Canaanite culture with a widespread geography that is a precursor to many of the myths and traditions of the region as a whole. By looking at the linguistic patterns and developments throughout the region, Ra’ad argues that “Hebrew is merely a script style that is known in Aramaic as square Aramaic,” and is not the ancient language of the land. Nor can the earlier languages, much more similar to the Arabic language, be considered “paleo-Hebrew” this or “ancient-Hebrew” that.  The Arabic language is shown to be “a native regional language,” not imported with the Arab Muslim conquest of the seventh century, and it is the “live continuation and natural extension of the earlier languages as they were submerged.” In other words it is not a foreign language to the region, but a natural evolution under organic adaptations to the trade, commerce, and warfare so prevalent in the region. In sum “whether it is in this totality of artifice of changing the map or in relation to the ancient names on the ground, or theories about ancient languages, there is a great deal of invention, guile, backdating, and fabricated justification.”

For the Israelis, if the god-covenanted land narrative falls apart, their whole universe disappears and they become just another group attempting to survive by way of dominance over a weaker group. To prevent that from happening, the narrative needs to be constructed both forward and backwards:  forwards from the given biblical time lines to create a lineage representing the ‘true’ heritage of the Jews; backwards from current times as linguistic and archaeological evidence is phrased and manipulated towards the same heritage. Ra’ad’s work creates a discussion that poses huge problems for the overall narrative.

The future for Palestine involves education to decolonize the mind – their own minds, to reclaim their heritage from appropriation as Jewish heritage. Education is paramount in this, and this work serves as an excellent starting point in re-educating not only the world but Palestinians as to the nature of their patrimony and the manner in which it is being appropriated. With five million Palestinians already deprived of any land as their heritage, it is incumbent upon them to retain, to regain, their cultural voice, their cultural history as a bulwark against further denial and invisibleness under the domination of the Israeli occupation. Beyond that it suggests a way forward for research, to accumulate and record what can be retained and discovered of the Palestinian heritage, to not allow it to be subsumed by the Zionist project of Eretz Israel.

Given the media dominance of the U.S., Europe, and Israel, it will remain a struggle to retain and open up the broader perspective of awareness. Basem Ra’ads “Hidden Histories” is an intriguing and challenging work, a positive study leading toward a more honest fundamental understanding of the Eastern Mediterranean, and it also serves as a warning as to how historical narratives can be manipulated and created by the dominant part of society to fully disown both physically and culturally the weaker part.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Hidden Histories – Book Review

Wasted Journeys: Anti-Racism in Israel

By Seraj Assi | Palestine Chronicle | December 21, 2010

In his ‘Telephone Conversation’ Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka reflects on the absurdity of racism allowing his poetic muse to render it ironic, sarcastic, cynical, satiric, ridiculous, beautiful and nasty.

The speaker of the poem is a dark West African man who is searching for a new apartment. He tells the story of a call he made to a potential white landlady. The narrative rapidly moves from discussing the price, location and amenities of the apartment to a conversation on the speaker’s skin color. As the conversation progresses, the speaker confesses:

But self-confession. “Madam,” I warned

“I hate a wasted journey- I am African.”

No great imagination is needed for reimagining the poetic space of Telephone Conversation in the spatial reality of Arabs in Israel. Nor to grasp the absurdity of the letter signed of late by the Israel’s municipal chief rabbis urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews. For a scene that strips racism so naked leaves nothing to imagination.

Yet the rabbis’ letter is a triumph, not of racism, but its absurdity. With the Rabbis’ decree Arabs in Israel need no longer to take those wasted journeys in their desperate conversations with Jewish landowners, nor to embark on wasted struggles with the racial industry of the state, nor to wage lost bureaucratic battles or to go through an endless chain of artificial episodes. For racism has now become God’s word, divine law and religious duty.

Nothing is surprising about the rabbis’ letter. What is really surprising is the way some pretend to be surprised by it. Most surprising are those in Israel who need a rabbis’ decree to discover that racism does exist, those who take to the streets to protest racism in the name of Israel’s integrity, those who protest racism in the name of the racial democracy of the state, and finally those who protest racism under the banner of liberal Zionism. All are on a wasted journey.

To protest racism in Israel in the name of humanity and morality is another wasted journey. It is a fallacy that hints an active complicity with its underlying logic. For the plague of racism that sweeps the Israeli society today must be understood within the totality of the Zionist racial mindset, the history of Zionism in Palestine and the whole legal, political and social system that has operated in Israel since its very creation.

Another wasted journey is to assume that racism in Israel is a false consciousness. For the problem is not to change what in people’s minds, but the political, social and institutional forces that produce it. Racism in its Israeli version is not simply an inhumane sin. To fight it is not to simply wage a humanist battle against it. It is rather a form of hegemony, domination and power relations. So those in Israel who insist to protest racism within the racial structures of the state are nothing but conscious agents of a wasted journey.

Nowhere is the absurdity of anti-racism more acute than in Israel. For it is in Israel where racism is normalized, rationalized, institutionalized and practiced with full pride. It is in Israel where racism is turned from will into practice by the brutal force of modernity. It is there where racism has become equivalent to patriotism. And it is there where racial demarcations continue to proceed at the same tempo as social life.

Since racism is deeply grounded in the intellectual premises of the Zionist ideology, Israel’s national character, symbols, flag, national anthem, educational system, public discourse, basic laws and daily practices and policies, the rabbis’ letter is also Israel’s letter. It is then a mistake to think that racism in Israel is in complete harmony with the founding ideology of the state. It is the founding ideology of the state.

Indeed, what makes racism acceptable, legitimate and even inevitable from the Israeli standpoint is the very idea of the Jewish State that belongs to the Jewish people, in which native Arab Palestinians are absurdly seen as unwelcome enemies. With this ethnocentric vision of the state racism becomes the raison d’être of Israel’s existence and the matrix in which identities and lives are forged. Its function as a site which maintains a relationship between the racial vision of the state and the wider society turns racism into collective product.

To protest racism in the name of the “Jewish State” is to perpetuate it. That is to confront one form of racism with another. This brings to the fore the absurdity of anti-racism in Israel. Most absurd is that Arabs in Israel are now argued by some liberal Zionists to accept the idea of the Jewish state in exchange of a package of humanist gestures, as if certain equilibrium were founded between the two formulas. An episode reminiscent of Columbus’s formula: the Spaniards give the Indians religion and take gold. In the Israeli case liberal Zionists take land and offer humanism.

It is also a matter of simple logic. To confront racism with humanism is to confront one abstract idea with another. It is to raise the wrong question and offer no genuine solution. For it is not just racism that needs to be confronted but the very ideology that generates it. So those who come to remind us that “we are all humans” while they continue to embody this ethnocentric vision of the state are in fact emblematic of the most artistic manifestation of this racist absurdity.

So if racism was always there, what is all the fuss about?

It is about the wasted journey of racism. To protest a bunch of rabbis over racism is to proceed in this wasted journey. To call into question the racial foundation of the state, its colonial enterprise, projects, institutions and structures, its history and its very existence, is to begin the real journey.

– Seraj Assi is a PhD student of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 2 Comments

Waiting for a New Economic Theory

The Economic Crisis and the State of Economics

By SASAN FAYAZMANESH | CounterPunch | December 21, 2010

Economic theories, for the most part, have emerged in response to particular social situations or governmental policies. For example, Francoise Quesnay’s 18th century Tableau Economique came into being in reaction to the plight of the French peasantry, excessive taxation, and government regulation that followed mercantilist teachings. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” theory similarly appeared as a response to mercantilist restrictions. It also corresponded to the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, when inventions and innovations made England relatively prosperous. Thomas Robert Malthus’s population and glut theories emerged in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, when migration of peasants to the cities, unemployment, and poverty became rampant. Karl Marx’s version of the labor theory of value was a response to the revolutionary movements in 19th century Europe, as exemplified by the 1848 uprising and the 1871 Paris Commune. John Maynard Keynes’s “general theory” was developed in the midst of the Great Depression and was a response to the laissez faire economics and policies that prevailed at the time.

It is too early to see if the recent economic crisis—which started in the financial sector of the economy and spread to the productive side—will produce any novel theories. What we have seen so far is different economists reciting some old theories and advocating corresponding remedies.  This is exemplified by three groups of economists, ranging from the most ardent supporters of laissez faire to those who see no future for capitalism.

The free market advocates still fall back on the marginalist or “neoclassical” theories that have dominated economic teaching since the end of the 19th century (the term “neoclassical” is a misnomer, but it is widely used). This unreal, a-historical theory started not with analyzing any real economy or human behavior, but with certain concepts in mathematical physics. The marginalists’ bizarre point of departure then led to a peculiar concept of the market that the proponents of laissez faire found quite useful. A market in this theory consists of two curves, a supply curve and a demand curve. “Equilibrium price” is where these two curves meet. Left alone, all such markets will self-adjust and bring about the equilibrium price. This holds for the “labor market” as well, where the equilibrium real wage will bring about full employment. It also holds for the so-called capital market, where the interest rate is determined. Given this self-adjusting mechanism, anything that interferes with the market, such as government or central bank intervention, is considered to be undesirable. Government deficit spending merely results in higher interest rates, and monetary policy ends with price changes, particularly inflation, if the money supply increases. In either case, the “real variables,” such as the level of employment or real output of goods and services, remain intact. In this happy, serene world there is never any crisis, especially a monetary crisis. Actually, in such a world there is no need for money, since all variables are real and money is just a “veil.” Also, in this tranquil and trouble-free land there are no classes, no workers no capitalists; there are only consumers and producers, getting along happily ever after.

When the current crisis began and the capitalist world economy appeared to be on the brink of another disaster, the proponents of the neoclassical theory trembled at first. They retreated and abandoned their usual arguments concerning the glory of unfettered markets.  However, now that falling into the abyss of another depression appears less likely, they are back to the theories of leaving the market alone, reducing taxes for the captains of industry and finance and cutting spending when it comes to the working class.

At odds with these free marketeers are various shades of economists whose roots can be traced to Keynes.  Keynes clearly saw the incompatibility between the neoclassical theories and the real world, particularly during the Great Depression. He criticized certain laissez faire aspects of these theories and ultimately advocated for fiscal and monetary policies.  Yet, since he was educated in the same neoclassical school, his criticism of these theories was halfhearted and did not shake the foundation of the school. A few critical notes at the beginning of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) were followed by some theories that were incomplete, underdeveloped and ambiguous. The result was many possible interpretations of his theories and their ultimate subsumption under the “neoclassical synthesis,” a combination of the old-fashioned neoclassical theories, called microeconomics, and Keynesian theories, called macroeconomics. This hodgepodge of theories became, and continues to be, the regular staple of economics students.

The ambiguities and lacunae in The General Theory also allowed for very different policy prescriptions.  Take, for example, Keynes’s theory of the “multiplier,” a theory that looks at the stimulating effect of spending, particularly government expenditures, on output and employment.  The theory was ambiguous enough when Keynes borrowed it from another economist, R. F. Kahn, but Keynes added to the ambiguity by stating:

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again . . . there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is.

This seemed to imply that it made no difference if government spending was on useful things or wasteful things.  Actually, a number of other comments in The General Theory support this indifference. For example, just before the above passage Keynes simply stated: “Pyramid-building, earthquakes, even wars may serve to increase wealth, if the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics stands in the way of anything better.” Such statements made “military Keynesianism,” or warfare, an acceptable form of economic policy.  To this day, the followers of Keynes are unclear as to whether going to war is good for the economy and a stimulant, or bad for the economy and a drag. Thus, we see some individuals advocating the start of yet another war in the Middle East as a way to rescue the US economy and some opposing the wars already in progress by pointing out their overall costs and how such costs are destroying the economy.

In addition, the silences in The General Theory allowed for the simultaneous existence of different types of Keynesian economists.  Even though all such economists agree on the need for fiscal and monetary policy, they do not agree on the limit of such policies and the exact method of pursuing them.  For example, liberal Keynesians—such as the “Post-Keynesians” who try to distance themselves from the neoclassical teachings—and conservative Keynesians—such as the “New Keynesians” who are quite eclectic in their theories—are often at odds with one another as to how high the deficit can go or what steps the Federal Reserve System should take.  They also disagree over such matters as how much regulation the financial sector of the economy needs. Yet, the squabbles between different types of Keynesians are quarrels within the family.  All Keynesians, similar to Keynes, believe in saving capitalism from itself; reform, and not revolution, is their aim.

This brings us to the Marxist economists who, when it comes to solving the ills of the capitalist society, believe in revolution and not just reform.  For these economists a little more or a little less deficit spending, or tinkering with the money supply, will not solve the long-term problems of capitalism, particularly when it comes to the current worldwide economic crisis. Neither would the financial woes of the capitalist economy be solved by more regulation.

In their arguments, most Marxist economists fall back on Marx’s mature writings, particularly his Capital, the first volume of which was published in 1867.  Setting aside the fact that Marx’s economic project was never finished and that his labor theory of value has always been the subject of controversy, Marx’s work is one of the few economic writings that actually tries to address the issue of economic crises.  In Capital there are two major theories of crisis, one cyclical and another secular. The first deals with disproportionality or imbalances between different sectors of the economy, that is, between the sectors that produce “capital goods” and “consumer goods.” Marx’s second theory deals with the tendency for the rate of profit to fall over the long haul. However, neither of these theories explains the current economic crisis.  It is, of course, true that in Marx’s theory of capitalist economy money plays a central role in production and could therefore cause crisis at various moments. But, there is no detailed and comprehensive theory of money and credit in his theory that would enable us to deal with modern monetary problems.

Of course, one should not expect theories that were developed in the middle of the 19th century to explain unique economic crises in the 21st century. This is particularly true if one believes, as any good Marxist economist should, that capitalism continuously evolves and poses new problems.  Thus, any theory trying to explain an evolving economy must itself evolve and grow. That, however, does not appear to be the case when it comes to Marxian economics. Very little has changed in this field since Marx wrote his Capital, as is evident from various books that have been recently published by Marxist economists, as well as the discussions and debates that are going on between these economists.

There is another major problem with the application of Marx’s theory to the recent economic crisis. Given the period in which it was written, Marx’s Capital was not about reform, but was about revolution, a socialist revolution. The work was meant to sound the death knell of “capitalist private property,” the expropriation of “expropriators.” And the sound was supposed to be heard in the most advanced capitalist country, where forces of production had grown so much that they were no longer compatible with the relations of production. Presumably, this would have been England, where the workers would have established the first socialist economy.  What a socialist economy might look like, however, was never delineated by Marx beyond a short and vague sketch in the Gotha Program written in 1875. Such a revolution never happened, and a socialist society was never established (setting aside, of course, the Russian Revolution of 1917, when in a relatively less developed country some revolutionary intellectuals, in the name of workers, came to power and presumably established “state capitalism”).

Nearly a century and a half later, there is no sign of workers’ uprisings in any part of the globe, particularly in advanced capitalist countries. We also have no idea, beyond that discussed in the Gotha Program, what a socialist society might look like.  Thus, waiting for the working class to rise, put an end to a chronically sick social system, and establish a new order does not appear to be feasible in the near future, unless one has a strong set of religious beliefs, as some “Marxists” do.

What is to be done? Should we leave the markets alone, as marginalist economists argue, even though we know that their two-curve markets have never existed and, historically, when markets were left alone they always fell into crisis? Or should we rely on increasing budget deficit and easy money policy to get us out of the present economic conundrum, as Keynesians advocate? In the latter case, which Keynesians should we listen to and why, knowing full well that none of the renowned Keynesians of our time predicted the 2008 crisis that brought the US economy to the brink of depression? Or should we wait and hope for workers’ uprisings to end the ills of the capitalist economy once and for all, as some Marxist economists are still hoping for, even though there are no signs of such uprisings anywhere in the world?

It seems that none of the prevailing economic theories provide a viable option for understanding and dealing with the current economic woes. Looking back at the history of economic thought and emergence of new theories at particular historical conjunctions, one can only hope that the current worldwide economic slump will generate new ways of thinking and new theories.

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of Money and Exchange: Folktales and Reality (Routledge, 2006). He can be reached at:

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | 2 Comments

Veterans: The French in Algeria

Pulse Media | December 20, 2010

The French in Algeria pioneered many of the torture techniques that were subsequently used in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. French ‘counterinsurgency’ specialists, who had already fought the Vietnamese, trained American soldiers and interrogators throughout the 1960s.

Al-Jazeera | December 20, 2010

Al Jazeera examines the bitterness still provoked by France’s colonial war in Algeria and how it fuels resentment between France and its Muslim community.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | Comments Off on Veterans: The French in Algeria

Castigating Global Activism as ‘Lawfare’

By Iqbal Jassat – Palestine Chronicle – December 20, 2010

Reading details of a press conference hosted by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to mark International Human Rights Day makes one aware not only about how far removed the apartheid state is from human rights, but also how inimical the state is towards legitimate campaigners for this fundamental right.

In addition to the event being far removed from the theme, it was held primarily to release a new study or monograph, Lawfare – Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

The study by an Israeli-funded group called NGO Monitor was punted as “groundbreaking research” on the role of global NGOs involved in expanding the concept of universal jurisdiction to indict Israeli leaders, politicians and soldiers for war crimes. This international role by civil societies in various capitals of the world is viewed as a hostile development that strategically could undermine the Zionist regime’s legitimacy.

An intemperate Ayalon outrageously noted that human rights groups have been “manipulated” by “terror organizations” to cover their own atrocities and to strip the right of self-defense from democracies! Such rhetoric is typical and again reflects how vain and desperate Israeli efforts are to conceal their tyranny against Palestinians.

If despotism requires decorum, then the Lawfare monograph qualifies as an excellent effort to slander legitimate civil society activism in order to deprive it of credibility. By no means is this mischief the only objective. The main goal is a despotic attempt to starve known international non-governmental organizations of their main lifeline: funding!

An example cited at the press conference was that of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights [PCHR]. The allegations are that the PCHR has filed numerous jurisdiction cases against several Israeli officials over the July 2002 targeted killing of Hamas leader Salah Shahadah.

“PCHR has tried to have Israeli leaders arrested in the U.K., in Spain, in New Zealand, and in the U.S. has tried to impose civil liability, including punitive damages against Avi Dichter in the U.S.”, is the view expressed by Anne Herzberg of the NGO Monitor.

She further explained the thrust of her concern: “PCHR was able to file these cases thanks to a 300,000 euro grant from the European Union that was channeled to PCHR from the organization Oxfam Novib”.

She cited the Gaza-based PCHR, the Ramallah-based Al Haq and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights as “primary actors” who have filed war crimes cases against Israelis throughout Europe, North America and also in New Zealand. They fall within two categories: the attempts to arrest or impose civil liability on Israeli officials for alleged war crimes, and cases against corporations and governments that have diplomatic relations with Israel, to suggest judicially imposed arms embargos or trade sanctions against Israel, claims Herzberg.

An inherent threat repeated at the event but emphasized by Ayalon is what he called “a day of reckoning” for NGOs and countries funding their activities. The irrationality of the Lawfare project can thus be understood by the rhetorical questions posed by Ayalon: “…and they [countries] have to ask the political questions: Are they doing the right thing? Any nation that funds NGOs that attack, whether its Israel or other democracies, and support the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] campaign against Israel in this case, is simply against peace”.

If one seeks confirmation of the depth of sheer desperation and that the Lawfare study will be wielded to either pressure or blackmail countries or foundations from funding civil society initiatives, here is another classical Israel-talk by Ayalon:

“No nation can dismiss their role when they give one dollar or one euro to an organization which viciously delegitimizes Israel”.

Besides the singling out of Omar Barghouti as the leader and founder of the BDS movement whose additional crime is that he is “against a two-state solution”, Steinberg unleashed a malicious attack upon Ali Abunimah for “preaching the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions and one-state, eliminate the-state-of-Israel solution” and his links with “a very powerful organization called the Electronic Intifada”.

The tenor of the conference based on the transcript I read does reveal that besides a sense of sheer hopelessness, Israel is overwhelmed with a diverse range of challenges confronting its irresponsible conduct as well as its refusal to acknowledge legal obligations flowing from international conventions on human rights.

– Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. Visit:

December 21, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on Castigating Global Activism as ‘Lawfare’

Brazil donates land for Palestinian embassy

Ma’an | December 21, 2010

RAMALLAH — Palestinian ambassador to Brazil Ibrahim Az-Zein received the title to a piece of land Monday, where the Palestinian embassy in Brazil will stand following that country’s recognition of a Palestinian state earlier in the month.

Following the presentation of the generous gift, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement thanking Brazil for what it said was a 22-dunum track of land with an estimated value of $14 million.

The announcement came one day after chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said publicly that 10 European Union countries would soon upgrade their Palestinian representative offices to full diplomatic status in a show of support for Palestinian state-building efforts.

“The Palestinians will not stop working to gain their freedom through all available channels and in peaceful ways,” Erekat told Ma’an.

He said the Palestinian cause has gained international support in recent months and affirmed that Norway’s decision to upgrade its representative office to an embassy had caused Israel much anxiety.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Brazil donates land for Palestinian embassy