Saturday, November 17, 2018

Driven to ideas that will hopefully liberate us all from Zionism

November 15

GUEST: Heather Tenzer, documentary filmmaker and human rights activist, talks about her latest project, a film called "The Rabbis' Intifada" that tells the story of the Neturei Karta, a group of Orthodox rabbis speaking out in support of Palestinian liberation.

The Rabbis' Intifada 

Heather was a great guest, in part because she is still searching for the truth. Growing up in a Zionist household, she was shocked by the Neturei Karta. Rabbis against the occupation? Calling it a disaster visited on the Jewish people?

We didn't spend too much time on how the Neturei Karta dressed or even on what their other beliefs are. The issue is justice and how some rabbis come to put their religious values above nationalism and apartheid. Of course, Rabbis don't have to belong to that community to hold these beliefs. I went on the Gaza Freedom March several years ago and made a documentary about Jews who had come along on our trip. Some were Rabbis and some were not, but they all put human life above the needs of the theocracy that is Israel.

Talking to Heather I became more interested in her awakening than I did in the Neturei Karta. I think that is why her film will be so powerful. Heather is a fearless explorer, driven to ideas that will hopefully liberate us all from Zionism.


Secret from no one else but the American people

November 8

GUEST: Cambiz Amir-Khosravi, widely recognized, award-winning documentary film and video producer whose work ranges back to the early 1980s, talks about his latest film, "Inheritance," that explores his life as an Iranian American with family ties to the CIA coup of 1953.

Finding Father: Cambiz Amir-Khosravi’s Inheritance

Cambiz gave us a lively interview. It wasn't just about the good guys and the bad guys in Iran; too simple. Why do Americans always think in those terms? Does it have to do with how idealistic we are, or how ignorant?

Cambiz doesn't spend too much time on the US role in his country, but it is always there beneath the surface. Even the title of his film has a double meaning. It is certainly his inheritance as a son of a prominent Iranian politician. But it is also the inheritance of the US for what it did to Iran's first democratically elected president, Mohammad Mosaddegh. How do you destroy the hopes of a whole nation for a few oil companies without making a lasting enemy? But that is the secret history of the US since the end of WWII. Secret from no one else but the American people. Others on the planet are all too aware. 

Turn around and risk your life again

November 1

GUEST: Michael Hanes, former Marine Force Recon staff sergeant who was part of the initial 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and former US Army Ranger deployed to Afghanistan 2002 - 2004, talks about his life as a war resister and his visits to the West Bank, Okinawa and Japan as a member of Veterans For Peace
U.S. Veteran Visits Palestine

Mike Hanes is a soft spoken ex-Marine. He just tells you what is happening in the American empire, no holds barred. His story about becoming aware of US war crimes is a compelling one. He followed a fellow Marine around because he feared for his friend's life. Not from enemy fire, but from those in his platoon who didn't like what the two of them were talking about: illegal invasions and occupations in the Middle East.

His trips with Vets For Peace must have been a cakewalk after that. VFP exists to expose US militarism around the world, and they had each other's backs in Okinawa, Korea, and the West Bank.

Oh that more soldiers could turn that corner and look at what they did in other countries more objectively. But it still takes a special person to risk his life once for an occupation, and then turn around and risk it again to fight for human rights. Yes, I admire Michael Hanes.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Destroy any hope of reform

The charge of antisemitism is becoming the slander of choice in our corrupt and corporate controlled political system. Cynthia Nixon was not alone in being undermined by such baseless charges. There was Mal Hyman, Democratic candidate for Congress in South Carolina; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic candidate in NY; Ilhan Omar, Democratic candidate in Minnesota; Scott Wallace, Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania; and Keith Ellison in his run for head of the Democratic National Committee. 

Bernie Sanders had the charge leveled against him during his progressive campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. In England, the reformist Labour Party leader Corbyn is fighting the same lies. Even locally the one true progressive on the Dutchess County Legislature, Joel Tyner, faced this despicable charge before his reelection. 

The common thread for all these politicians is that they are reformers who oppose the corruption and war mongering of the corporate state. They favor the rights of working people over the rich elite, and oppose the racism used to win elections. But why is the charge of antisemitism used so often to damage progressives?

The marriage of Trump to the Israeli state explains part of it. Sheldon Adelson, an Israeli/American billionaire, is Trump's largest contributor. But the corporate wing of the Democratic Party has its own Zionist billionaires. In fact, Israel has bet heavily on the repressive and often racist status quo in our country. How else to shore up support for its militaristic and apartheid state than to destroy any hope of reform in America?


Fred Nagel

Creatively maladjusted

October 18

GUEST: Marilyn Garson, a New Zealander who worked with communities affected by war in Afghanistan and later in Palestine, where she was Economic Director of Mercy Corps, and a consultant to UNRWA, talks about the life of a Jewish peace activist during and after the 2014 invasion of Gaza.

Contrapuntal: the music of hope is contrapuntal 

There are some people who live their lives for others. Not some of the time, like most of us, but all of the time. I am spending some time this Friday morning writing about Marilyn Garsons' experiences in Gaza. I don't live there, and my one attempt to get there was thwarted at the Egyptian crossing. I feel deeply committed to Palestinian rights, but I will play my guitar later and catch up on my emails. I know the difference.

So a Marilyn Garson is a treasure and an enigma. She makes me feel great about helping her spread the word. But all along, I know that I could be doing so much more.

Kathy Kelly was one of our very first guests on Activist Radio and she spent the hour with us in our little studio at Vassar College. She is a normal person with a good sense of humor, quick to laugh at some incongruity. But when she starts talking about her life's commitment, the differences become apparent. She won't pay any taxes to support the empire, so she makes no money that can be taxed. She laughs about her particular need to stay poor. We enjoy her quandary, and so does she.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." MLK

So few speak out

October 11

GUESTS: Emilie (Em) Clark, administrator at Peace Action New York State, and Emily Rubino, Grassroots Campaigns Coordinator For PANY supporting 21 campuses across NYS, talk about their joint trip to Japan for the International Youth Relay Peace March and World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima.

Peace Action New York

Em and Emily had some heart to heart talks about what to say to their Japanese hosts. Were they simply sorry about what their government had done in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Is being sorry enough? What did they really feel, in fact? Do most Americans feel anything about the killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in these two atom bomb blasts?

Peace Action NY talks about the unspeakable. Of course, nuclear weapons pose the threat to us all. But do the people living in the empire feel any real remorse about what has been done in the name of their great country? USA! USA!

Or do empires create a climate of moral ambiguity? It is hard to fine studies of Japanese and German remorse after World War II. German sensitivity about the Holocaust is a state sanctioned policy, not a popular movement. Was there real remorse while it was happening? So few spoke out against the imperial ambitions of Japan and Germany. So few speak out about America's imperialist wars. 

It was the part about "good white liberals"

October 4

GUEST: Dennis Trainor Jr., actor, filmmaker, and veteran of Occupy, Standing Rock and the Jill Stein campaign for president, talks about his most recent project, his one person show entitled "Manifest Destiny's Child" that is previewing in Woodstock, NY on Friday, Oct 26 (7:30 pm. at the Mountain View Studio).

Go Fund Me for "Manifest Destiny's Child"

Dennis is both an activist and an insightful commentator on the left movement in America. He is not afraid to take apart some of the more questionable assumptions of Occupy and Standing Rock. He doesn't let liberals off the hook either. Like Michael Moore, he traces the ascendency of the ultra right to the sellout of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party.

In doing publicity for Dennis' upcoming event in Woodstock, NY, I got complaints about how it was written. See if you can guess the sentence that some people didn't like:

Friday, October 26, “Manifest Destiny’s Child,” a memoir play by Dennis Trainor Jr, 7:00-9:00 PM at the at the Mountain View Studio, 20 Mountainview Ave., Woodstock. Critically acclaimed writer/director and activist, Trainor brings his experiences at Occupy, Standing Rock and the Jill Stein Campaign to the stage for an inside look at idealists and screw-ups, at revolution vs. reform, and at “good white liberals” and the myriad ways that privilege manifests itself.
Yes, it was the part about "good white liberals." That is what makes this play interesting. White privilege has brought us to the edge of fascism. It is time we took an honest look at the role of good white liberals in creating the climate for empire.

Missing in the heart of the empire

September 27

GUEST: Benjamin Ladraa, human rights activist from Sweden who walked over 3,000 miles through thirteen countries to get to Palestine, talks about his American tour to bring the realities of occupation to the empire.

#walktopalestine - Instagram

Benjamin is a bit of a showman. He has walked a long way, and talked to hundreds of people in the various countries he has been through. He is self directed; no one put him up to this. This is the life he has chosen for these years.

In some ways, it is a nice life. He is constantly planning events on social media, and then going to talk to mostly younger audiences. He is having fun, so why wouldn't he walk from Sweden to Palestine, and then tour America talking about his experiences?

Taking the capitalist lens off for a moment allows us to see why Benjamin's walk is meaningful to him. He could be working on an Internet startup. He could be selling real estate for Kushner Companies LLC. But that is just about making money, and in the end it is what you do to help other people that gives you lasting satisfaction.

Benjamin Ladraa walks because, at the end of each day, that is what makes him happy. The plight of the Palestinians allows him to experience his humanity, something that is sadly missing in the heart of the empire. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The death of the intellect

September 20 

GUEST: Rob Larson, Professor of Economics at TCC and author of Bleakonomics and Capitalism vs. Freedom, talks about libertarian contradictions, the evils of neoliberalism, and the need for a new, socialist world order.

Capitalism vs. Freedom, The Toll Road to Serfdom

The basis of our current obsession with profit and corporate control of government is called neoliberalism. Rob traces the roots of this back to the 1980's with corporate bankrolled academics who painted the dominance of capitalism as true freedom. It is now our state religion. All our needs must now be measured by their costs and its profits.

Colleges are in the same business. They teach courses to maximize contributions from rich alums and corporate elite. They even suppress freedom of speech on campus to please donors. Education at our nation's "non-profit" colleges is intimately involved in maximizing profit.

The Ivy League schools train the elite and teach them how to internalize their privilege. It is a system of mind control without the beatings and killings one might find in less sophisticated tyrannies. Late stage capitalism demands the death of the intellect. The brighter the student, the more repugnant the monster that emerges. 

To frustrate the will of the people

September 13

GUESTS: Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor, and Mark Dunlea, candidate for State Comptroller, describe how their party is different from the two corporatized ones you have come to know and hate.

Howie and Mark just make sense. How could anyone vote for anyone else? Isn't it more important to vote for someone who you agree with rather than someone who is a little bit better than just terrible.

But why would the corporations give us any better choices? The game is all about not having any good choices at all. Late stage capitalism must work especially hard to frustrate the will of the people. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Corrupt capitalism making way for demagogs and state tyranny

GUEST: Bob Price, long time peace and justice advocate and professor at CCSF in San Francisco, talks about labor activism in the face of the recent Supreme Court assaults on the rights of working people.

Supreme Court hands bosses big wins

Bob Price knows labor history in the US. Most of us just don't. I didn't know that the Taft Hartley Act's greatest victory over labor involved the outlawing of wildcat strikes that had been so effective during the 1930's. The diminishment of labor unions has been going on for a very long time. Only it has been hidden from the nation's workers.

Wages fall as unions loose their power, and we have seen that for the the last thirty years. Union bosses bear part of the blame, so comfortable and so exclusionary. Like our venial politicians, they have simply been bought by the corporations and the billionaires.

When will working people wake up? In a sense, they have already. They have realized something is rotten in the system, and voted against the crook they knew, Hillary Clinton. Of course, they got an even greater con artist in her place. We have seen the same process at work in Germany and Japan in the 1930's. Corrupt capitalism making way for demagogs and state tyranny.

But labor isn't dead yet. The $15 Per Hour movement proved that. Now the nation's teachers are fighting decades of underfunded schools and diminished salaries. A revitalized labor movement may yet upset the one percent's lock on power. But labor has to reshape the Democratic Party or form one of their own to actually halt our nation's slide towards authoritarianism.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Replace it with the voice of the people

GUEST: Sohayla Eldeeb, the Global Outreach/Operations Lead and an organizer for "Zero Hour," talks about this young people's campaign to confront congressional representatives on climate and environmental justice during their district town halls.

This Is Zero Hour

Sohayla isn't angry, or even disappointed at the state of the world that high school students find themselves in. She isn't particularly condescending to the generations that have let the oil companies destroy the planet, and allowed the billionaires to completely corrupt our system of government. We were asleep at the wheel, or maybe in front of our TV sets. The billionaires run everything, and we have been sending our young men and women off to fight in wars for the last seventeen years. Not the children of the rich, of course. Not the sons and daughters of our politicians, sucking at the teat of their version of the American Dream, while the people's version moves further and further from our sight.

No, Sohayla just wants to organize, and says that she has a lot of help. In fact, her generation has just been learning about political power. They have been connecting the dots between being shot up in their high schools and the corporate controlled gun lobby. Blood for profit, and it is an old story. The billionaires reap their riches from spilling other people's blood, whether it is through wars abroad or Second Amendment carnage at home.

Maybe this generation will upset the status quo, and make the empire tremble like it did in the late 1960's. May the next generation clear out the governing class and replace it with the voice of the people.

Not suitable for the general public; off with his head!

GUEST: Ann Garrison, prizewinning journalist for the Black Agenda Report, talks about the "New McCarthyism," Bill Clinton's privatization and austerity, and the need to defend Julian Assange.

Strange Days Indeed - on Julian Assange

I thought this was an interesting discussion about Assange, although at times we got bogged down in the facts of his case.

The vilification of Assange goes to the heart of the empire. Both of our corrupted political parties hate him for exposing their venal stupidity. The weapons makers see him as an inconvenient impediment to making billions on new wars. And the nation's media shows itself to be the pathetic cheerleader of America's war crimes abroad. Assange makes the system look bad. In fact, he shows us exactly how brutal and corrupt our nation has become. Not suitable for the general public; off with his head!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tearing our building down

GUEST: Chuck Collins, writer and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of a new book entitled Is Inequality in America Irreversible?

Mr. Collins has been one of our favorite guests. His institute does studies that provide accurate statistics about the accumulation of wealth at the very top. The result is a precise documentation of class wars.

For example, since 2008 $91 out of every $100 in increased earnings has gone to the very richest of our citizens. And most of that increase is a result in lower estate taxes. We are becoming a "patrimonial capitalist" state.

There are fixes based on enlightened policy, and Mr. Collins thinks those battles can be won with the right constituencies and alliances. The last part of his book describes how these movements might be organized on the grassroots level.

In fact, we are faced with a decision, whether to reform our so called democracy, or to break our capitalist chains and try something new. For myself, I have been hoping for the reemergence of the New Deal, with social and economic justice for all. To get there would require a new third party with its own news media.

It may be that such reforms can't really establish a just and stable economic system. We will probably know the answer in the next twenty years, as greed will soon tear our building down. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rebellion unhealthy for a corporatized twenty first century

GUEST: Doug Rawlings, Vietnam veteran and a cofounder of Veterans For Peace, talks about how the US media hides our nation's war crimes and reviews the Koch Brothers funded PBS Series, "The Vietnam War."
PBS Series on Vietnam an Emmy nomination?


The Koch Brothers and Bank of America bring you the Vietnam War as the military/industrial complex would like you to remember it.

Doug Rawlings remembers it differently. He was in a foxhole, while the Koch Brothers were busy making billions in the oil industry. It is painfully obvious why these corporate sponsors would try to distort the record of one of America's most hideous wars of aggression. And it was painfully easy to do, Just throw some money at PBS and at the filmmaker named after a cheesy editing technique. War crimes whitewash will be the new Ken Burns effect.

Counterpunch said it best. "The liberal conception of an honorable effort that tragically failed is every bit an obfuscation as the conservative perspective that a well-intentioned but flawed effort that should not have been undertaken if the U.S. was not going to be 'serious' about fighting. But that these two narrow perspective were allowed to fight it out provided the appearance of a free and open media at the same time that the media obscured."

Doug Rawlings takes us through the various omissions the film makes. The GI resistance movement, for example, gets no mention. Those GI's "serving" in Vietnam knew their officers were afraid of sending them out into the field. They were afraid of turning their backs on them, and often reported to their "superiors" that their men were close to mutiny. The Bank of America must have considered this  story of rebellion unhealthy for a corporatized twenty first century.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

USS Liberty Survivor Joe Meadors Witnesses Israeli Violence

USS Liberty Survivor Joe Meadors Witnesses Israeli Violence Against Gaza Freedom Flotilla

On June 8, 1967, U.S. Navy Signalman Joe Meadors was standing watch on the USS Liberty off the coast of Gaza. In an aerial and sea attack on the USS Liberty that lasted 90 minutes, the Israeli military killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 174. Signalman Meadors watched the Israeli military almost sink the ship including Israeli forces machine gunning lifeboats.

Fifty-one years later, on July 29, 2018, U.S. military veteran Joe Meadors witnessed another brutal Israeli military action, the violent takeover of an unarmed civilian ship named Al Awda in international waters, 40 miles off Gaza. Al Awda is part of the four-boat 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that began its voyage in mid-May from Scandinavia, and 75 days later arrived off the coast of Gaza. Al Awda arrived on July 29 followed by Freedom on August 3. The two other boats of the flotilla, the Filestine and Mairead Maguire, were unable to complete the voyage due to damages incurred during a storm off Sicily, and maintenance problems.

Meadors said that on July 29, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) appeared when the boat was 49 nautical miles off Gaza. He commented that there were six large patrol craft and four zodiac boats with storm troopers onboard. Meadors said one group of crew and passengers protected the pilot house. The IOF commandoes beat the Captain of the boat, hitting him and knocking his head against the sides of the ship and threatening him with execution if he did not restart the engine of the ship.
Photo of Delegates and Crew on Al Awda (Source: Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

Four crew members and delegates were tasered by IOF forces. One crew member was repeatedly tasered on the head and neck and a delegate was also tasered repeatedly. Both were in dangerous medical conditions after repeated tasering and only semi-conscious during the seven-hour trip to Ashdod.
Image on the right: Dr. Swee Ang (Source: Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition)
Renown orthopedic surgeon from the United Kingdom, Dr. Swee Ang, who is about 4 feet, 8 inches and weighs about 80 pounds was hit on the head and body and ended up with two broken ribs. Dr. Swee wrote that:
“After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Captain Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash colour, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.
Image below: Larry Commodore on his arrival at the Toronto airport after his medical ordeals while in Israeli prison.
(Image by Photo by Audrey Huntley)

Indigenous leader from Canada Larry Commodorewas thrown to the deck when he requested to have his passport back before the delegates left the ship and injuring his foot. As he told in The Real News Network interview… when he arrived in Toronto, after processing at the Ashdod dock, he was taken to a hospital where his foot was sewn up. He said he passed out several times during the process.

A few hours after his return to Givon prison, he developed bladder problems resulting from his injuries and had to be re-hospitalized as he could not pass urine. Prison guards did not believe he was injured and forced him to drink more water which resulted in a very uncomfortable bladder. He had to wait 10 hours for a doctor to come to the prison and order that he be taken to the hospital where a catheter was inserted. When he was deported and returned to Canada, he was taken to a Toronto hospital where he received further treatment.

Several delegates were not given their prescribed daily medicines creating dangerous personal health situations for each of them…
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu describes the Israeli military as the most “morale” military in the world. Crew and delegates on Al Awda found that the Israeli commandos and military administrative staff and prison staff were brutal and a bunch of thieves.

Already we have written reports from six delegates that cash, credit cards, clothing and personal items were taken from them and never returned. We estimate that at least $4,000 in cash and numerous credit cards were stolen from delegates. Delegates are cancelling their credit cards upon their return home and will be monitoring whether there are charges from July 29 onward as happened in 2010 when IOF soldiers used credit cards of passengers from the six ships of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Crew & Delegates on Freedom Flotilla (Source: Freedom Flotilla Coalition)
On Friday, August 3, Israeli commandos stopped Freedom, the second ship in the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, 40 miles off Gaza. Twelve delegates and crew from five countries have been taken to Givon prison where lawyer and consular visits will take place on Sunday, August 5, postponed from Saturday due to religious observations.
Medical Supplies being loaded onto Al Awda and boxes painted by Naples, Italy artists (Source: Ann Wright)

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition continues its demand that the State of Israel send to Gaza the 13,000 euros of much needed medical supplies, primarily gauze and sutures, in 116 boxes onboard Al Awda and Freedom.

Why have 12 national campaigns organized the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla? To bring attention to the Israeli blockade and attacks on Gaza.
As Dr. Swee wrote
“In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead seven Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with live bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only 2-4 hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years.”The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by machine guns from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period, more than 165 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women.
“The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza.”
Joe Meadors, the U.S. delegate on the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, puts it plainly and simply:
“Rest assured, Freedom Flotillas will continue to sail. Humanity demands they do.”
Image on the right: Joe Meadors in Palermo, Sicily (Source: Ann Wright)
*
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. 
The original source of this article is OpEdNews

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Freeing our minds from America's empire

GUEST: Ahmed Alnaouq, recent graduate of Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, resident of the Gaza community of Deir Albalah, and project manager for "We Are Not Numbers," talks about his dream of advancing the cause of Palestinian human rights and exposing the “human face” of the Israeli occupation.

https://wearenotnumbers.org

Here is a UN school in Gaza under attack by white phosphorus. We keep making excuses for what US allies do. We hope that it might change some day, maybe under some new, progressive leadership. It helps not to see or hear about the atrocities that Israel and Saudi Arabia do in America's name, and with America's high tech weaponry.

So read about the lives that your tax dollars cripple and destroy. They are real people in those schools and in those destroyed buildings. They have hopes, and they live in perpetual fear of what Israel's "final solution" might be.

We worked very hard to bring Ahmed to our listeners. It is amazing how difficult it is to record an interview in Gaza. But we finally patched the call through, in part thanks to Ahmed's patience and good suggestions.

Ahmed has the long view of Palestinian freedom, and is willing to devote much of his time to providing a webpage that tells his people's stories. Read some of them. Their personal approaches and disarming honest will teach us the lessons we are denied by our own media and our government.

Some of the stories bring us grief, but a life affirming kind. We discover our own humanity by understanding what our government does to the millions of people who stand in the way of imperial ambitions. We can, in fact, free our minds from America's empire.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Barbarism in the face of human need

GUEST: Reza Mazaheri, human rights activist and an attorney in an immigration law firm deeply committed to the free movement of people across borders, talks about his experiences in asylum seeking, deportation defense, family based visas and citizenship cases.

Mirror to Cruel U.S. Immigration Policy & Imperialism

Reza makes no bones about not supporting US immigrant policies. He sees the cases that every day prove his point. Immigrants are treated, well, like Black people in America. Maybe that is at the base of why the current policy doesn't work; it is simply racist. Our politicians pander to white fears of racial miscegenation. It has gone on for a long time, and Trump is just another step in a violent past. There were the slaves, brought over to create wealth for the elites. There were the native Americans, pushed off their lands as we colonized their hemisphere.

More recently, the US has created millions of refugees by overthrowing elected governments and installing pro-American dictatorships. Neoliberalism destroyed many economies, driving even more refugees north. We don't want them because they aren't white enough, a hatred fanned by our racist in chief.

So immigration exposes a great deal about our country that we would rather not think about. No wonder if is a flashpoint. And no wonder our supposed Democracy shows itself incapable of anything but barbarism in the face of desperate human need.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

State supported racism, the new American Dream

Zionism has taken some big steps recently, and it is only fair to acknowledge the progress it has made. The movement to ethnically cleanse the Holy Land of everyone but Jews has wedded itself to Trump and his alt-right racist base. No surprise here, as the same racial hatreds and violence are at work in both groups.

Religious extremism in the US has certainly helped in creating this unholy union. Much of the right wing Christian Church, as well as large segments of establishment Judaism have always considered a purified Israel as the will of God, and have preached such heavenly guidance in their religious services.

Billionaire Israeli/US citizens have done their part as well. Sheldon Adelson, gambling and casino mogul, was Trump's largest donor in the last election. He has also spent hundreds of millions on Congressional races, insuring that no candidate even whispers the word Palestine. The Zionists are so tightly in control that almost every member of Congress applauded Israel's most recent slaughter in Gaza, even after it was established that 550 Palestinian children had been killed.

The US Embassy is moving to Jerusalem. The Israeli Parliament has just passed a kosher version of Jim Crow, stripping many rights from non Jewish citizens. And 38 billion from US taxpayers will be making its way to Israel over the next several years.

There is even a law in Congress that would criminalize any boycott of Israeli apartheid. Hats off to state supported racism, the new American Dream.

Fred Nagel

Monday, July 23, 2018

Partners in crime

GUEST: Joe Meadors, crewman on the USS Liberty during the 1967 Israeli attack that killed 34 US sailors, and past president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association, talks about his upcoming sail to break the siege of Gaza.


Donate to the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla - U.S. Campaign

Joe made a great guest. He was there to experience the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, and there to feel the massive attempt by the Pentagon to cover up the assault.

He knows that something is very wrong when the US colludes with a foreign country to murder US servicemen. He doesn't pretend to know why this attack took place. But his knowledge calls into question the whole sordid relationship between Israel and its partner in crime, the United States.

Joe's trip to break the siege of Gaza is a further testament to his bravery and his commitment to serving his country in its time of need. America should not arm, fund, and defend the genocide being visited on the Palestinian people.

It is time to start asking every candidate for office how much money they are getting from the Israel Lobby. Make supporting Israeli apartheid a liability to any Congressional campaign.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

The arc of the moral universe

GUEST: Mazin Qumsiyeh, Director of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability, professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, and author of several books including "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment," talks about his trip to the U.S. and how the illegal occupation will end.

Mazin gave me this interview before he did a book signing in Saugerties, NY. It is not the first time that Mazin has been a guest on Activist Radio. A friend of Joel Kovel, Mazin has visited the Hudson Valley before.

I don't always know how to interview Palestinians. There is my guilt for being a citizen of the country most responsible for the suffering of his people. And the news is always bad, Palestinians being beaten, shot or imprisoned. It is never my family in the crosshairs of some sniper's rifle. It is never my house that is being destroyed.

My questions always seem to focus on Palestinian suffering. In fact, my interviews are designed to do just that. It is only when millions of Americans have learned to acknowledge and reject the apartheid state of Israel that it will change. We are the supplier of bullets, the protector at the UN, and the funder of its state racism.

Mazin talks freely about the injustices inflicted on his people. He is sorrowful, and yet looks at the longer picture. Unless Israel commits the genocide of five million people, the Palestinians are there to stay. Like many indigenous peoples, they are masters of resistance, even in the face of overwhelming military superiority. One day, two peoples will inhabit the Holy Land, and as God's children they will be loved and cherished equally.

Like Martin Luther King, Mazin believes in the arc of the moral universe.

Monday, July 9, 2018

When the people lose faith in democracy

Guest: Steve Greenfield, long time activist, member of the New Paltz Fire Department, and Green Party Congressional Candidate for the NY-19th District, talks about running an intellectually honest campaign, one without any corporate funding.

Hudson Valley Green Party

Steve Greenfield For Congress NY-19

In the era of Trump, we need to be reminded of just how dysfunctional the two party system is.

Suddenly Donald appeared as president, a repulsive con man in place of the admirable statesmen who went before him. Or so the liberal media would have it.

It is a tidy analysis; all that is needed to right the ship of state is to vote for Democrats. Easy enough, but like most simple answers to complex questions, it is dead wrong.

We have had two bright, educated and throughly corrupt Democratic presidents who made a lot of rosy promises to America's workers, but delivered all the goods to the corporations. Clinton and Obama were true neoliberals, deregulating whole industries while privatizing any services the government could possibly give to the poor and middle class. Wages stagnated for 30 years while the wealthy became so filthy rich that they were able to buy both Congress and the White House.

Trump is the culmination of neoliberal policies, the election of a demagogue when enough people get enraged at a corrupted political system. We see this happening in the rest of the world: in Italy, Austria, Poland, and in the province of Ontario. And the right wing extremists are knocking on the door in many other developed countries, peddling a brand of racism, nationalism, militarism and right wing ideology.

So does unfettered capitalism bring about such anger that people eventually lose faith in democracy and turn towards a Trump? And how easy is it to turn back once the fascists are in control? These are questions that neither party wants Americans to think about.

What was being done in their name

Guest: Andrew Courtney, a New York based artist, teacher and activist who specializes in social justice event photography, and whose works have been exhibited in international, national and local gallery venues, talks about his most recent photography in Palestine.Sumoud - Steadfast Palestine

Andrew's stories are as engaging as his pictures. Here is Palestine off the beaten track. The occupation and the oppression lurk just below the surface, to remind the viewer that the people and culture they are viewing are destined to be destroyed by a US backed colonialism.

There is beauty and heartbreak, the real story that is always left out of our Zionist dominated media and political process. Most Americans would not put up with the slow genocide of the Palestinian People if they knew what was being done in their name.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Celebrate killing at the track

Guest: Patrick Batuello, animal rights activist and Director of Horse Racing Wrongs (horseracingwrongs.com), talks about his organization's work in education and grassroots advocacy to stop the cruelty and unnecessary deaths of animals used in professional racing.


Eli did this interview on his iPhone at the track. It has great background sounds with crowds cheering and cars going by. I think we will do more of these on site interviews in the field.

Patrick is a dedicated worker for animal rights. He sees a wrong and works tirelessly to bring people's attention to it. The fact that so many horses die from these races takes a little of the glamor out of what is really a cruel spectacle: doped up animals running for their lives.

All of us have an inherent empathy for defenseless animals. We have to be trained to put these feelings aside when we exploit animals for a living. It is a little like basic training in the military, where you are trained to "kill" your fellow human being. In bayonet training we had to run down a short track and thrust our blade into a lifelike dummy, all the while yelling "kill, kill, kill." We learn to celebrate killing at the track too. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Our own role in the resistance

Guest: Yonatan Shapira, former Israeli air force pilot, co-founder of the Israeli-Palestinian Combatants for Peace, BDS activist, and sailor on the Jewish Boat to Gaza when it was attacked for breaking the siege of Gaza, talks about his career as a singer and how his songs express the hope for a free Palestine.

Yonatan Shapira is hero of human rights, a man of integrity who changed his mind once he faced the irrefutable facts about Israel's long term occupation of Palestine. How he changed his mind is his story, going from a pilot in the Israeli Defense Force, to an outspoken critic of Israeli apartheid.

He makes the journey with humility and not without pain. If Israel ever recovers its place in the human race, it will come as a result of following a person like Yonatan.

One of his stories involves a German commander during World War II who wrote of his ethical misgivings while fighting for the Third Reich. To Yonatan, what one man writes in his diary does not absolve him from blame. And the day of reckoning comes, of course, when Yonatan sees himself in the very same position. Doubts are not enough; one must actively oppose genocide and ethnic cleansing. He is as unsparing of himself as he is of anyone else.

Yonatan's songs in Hebrew are the emotional culmination of his very personal stories. His deep and compelling voice brings the listener closer to a self realization about activism and courage. Singing along in Hebrew takes us to a new understanding of our own role in the resistance.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Gentle warriors

Guest Section: We pay tribute to Jay Wenk, World War II veteran, author, and Palestinian human rights activist. We will hear a recoded excerpt from Jay's memorable book: "Study War No More: A Jewish Kid from Brooklyn Fights the Nazis," followed by another veteran, this time from Israel. Yonatan Shapira will sing about the Palestinians returning to their homeland. 

Previous interview with Jay Wenk on Free Speech
Study War No More (Paperback)
Jay Wenk, liberal activist and Woodstock councilman, dies at 91
Donate to the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla — U.S. Campaign
Songs by Yonatan Shapira

We talked a little about Jay Wenk after we played a recording of him reading from his book. The section of the book we decided reflected the gentle man he was. Even after years of fighting the Nazis in World War II, he was able to express tenderness for a captured German soldier, who was bringing letters back to men's families. Maybe that was the link to former Israeli pilot, Yonatan Shapira. Both were fighters who eventually turned their backs against war and mindless brutality.

Were all soldiers like that, we wouldn't be fighting these endless wars for profit and global hegemony. That is why listening to them is so important.

Yonatan will be our guest next week, talking about and then singing one of his antiwar songs.

Nice to be back!

Fred

Resuming in June

Playing catch-up. I have been gone for about three weeks, so this blog has suffered a bit. Eli and Raphaelle have kept up the program and you can hear the following dates by clicking on them.

Suffice to say that my cohosts did a great job, with interesting guests and lots of provocative discussion. We will resume our normal schedule in June.

Thanks,

Fred

May 31

Guest: Nicolas J.S. Davies, author of "Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq," and the Consortium News series on the death toll in U.S.'s post-9/11 wars, talks about the empire's next military targets.

How Many Has the U.S. Killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan
How Many Has the U.S. Killed in Iraq
America's Coup Machine: Destroying Democracy Since 1953
The Illusion of War Without Casualties

SONG: Keegan McInroe ... Beautiful Dream

May 24

Guest: Richard Barlow, an American intelligence analyst and former CIA expert on Pakistan's nuclear program, talks about blowing the whistle on George H. Bush's efforts to mislead Congress.
The CIA agent who exposed US complicity in helping Pakistan On The Nuclear Edge - The New Yorker
Political Intelligence – Mother Jones

May 17

Guest: Mike Meese, Coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, talks about the current circumstances of buffalo in Montana and the efforts to protect the last wild bison in Yellowstone Park.
Buffalo Field Campaign
Protecting the Buffalo Herd - Native Sun News Today
Mike Meese on The Buffalo Kill - Radio Curious

May 10

Guest: Thomas Drake, former senior executive at the NSA, where he blew the whistle on massive multibillion dollar fraud, waste and abuse, as well as on widespread violations of citizen rights through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11, talks about defending the Constitution, the Obama legacy, and the new world of Trump.
PBS Frontline
End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers
From Pentagon to Paradise - 40+ Years of Whistleblowing
Donate to Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign

Monday, May 7, 2018

Bethlehem to Brooklyn: Breaking the Surface


Friday, May 4, 7-8:30 PM. Film “Bethlehem to Brooklyn: Breaking the Surface” at the Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Ave, Kingston. Documentary spotlights the world of Latino, African American, and Palestinian teenagers struggling with the circumstances in their daily lives. They don’t join a jihad or a gang, but find a way to resist through writing and activism. SPECIAL GUEST: A member of Black Lives Matter - Hudson Valley will talk about the campaign to bring racial justice to our local communities. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response mideastcrisis.org, Hudson Valley BDS hudsonvalleybds.org, Jewish Voice for Peace - HV jvphudsonvalley.org, and Veterans for Peace. Contact: mecr@mideastcrisis.org or 845 876-7906

Friday, May 4, 2018

Complex system of discrimination

Guest: Fabian Marshall, political activist and resident of the Hudson Valley, talks about the day the Kingston Police arrested him for being a "black man in red shorts," and ended up tasering him 21 times. Fabian and his mother will describe their fight for racial justice this Friday at 7 pm at Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, 30 Pine Grove Ave, Kingston.

Fabian and Liz will speak this Friday in Kingston

The Civil Rights era was not all about the cops. The era was about Black oppression in the South, a particularly ugly form of Jim Crow that had festered since the end of Reconstruction.

When the Civil Rights Movement became more than that, leaders were assassinated before our whole system  could be called into question. What about poverty, racial discrimination in the North, or the imperial invasion of Vietnam? Those questions, as non violent as they were, started the bullets flying.

Exposing police racism and brutality may have a similar effect, a huge increase in state supported oppression. The police are the enforcers of a grossly unfair system with a tiny group of obscenely rich at the top and a huge mass of people stuck at the very bottom. The nation's police are as discriminatory as its criminal justice system. It doesn't take too much investigating to reveal the extent of the gross unfairness. Black people get shot by white cops, who invariably get away with murder each time.

But police in the twenty-first century empire are not really there to protect anyone but the corporations, Wall Street, the big banks and that filthy rich who own them. Police feel free to express the racism that the empire is based on, in the conquering of other lands and the exploitation of their peoples. Empires can't exist without "untermensch," what the Third Reich called those targeted for exploitation and extermination. As long as there is an underclass, the empire can survive.

That is why the cops are dangerous, especially if you are Black. But exposing them is dangerous too. Like the apartheid state of Israel, America exists through its complex system of discrimination. 

Don't fear Bolton

Guest: Gareth Porter, activist, commentator and author of "Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare," talks about the ascendency of John Bolton and the pro-war wing of both major parties. 

The American Conservative

America has been in the grip of a war party since Ronald Reagan. It doesn't matter which party either. The Republicans seem to have more of the "crazies," as Cheney's neocon gang was called in the run up to the Iraq War. Unfortunately for humankind, more than one of the crazies are back. John Bolton is just the most obvious.

Bolton has a long history of advocating all out war in the Middle East. Some of this may have been posturing to gain geopolitical advantage. But even careless threats endanger the future of our species, as well as all life on earth.

I believe that people like Bolton are closest to serial killers. Rather than strangling one or two victims each month, they fantasize about a bigger prize. Of course, the American economy has been based on war since we mobilized to fight the German and Japanese empires. Sadly, our country defeated these imperial powers only to catch the disease of empire itself. Bolton and Cheney are as apple pie as our continued racism towards and exploitation of Black people. There is no peace party, nor is there any major party committed to ending poverty or discrimination. War economies are anti-democratic. And our major corporations have always chosen this option over decision making by all American citizens. War entails taking enormous risks to maintain the dominance of the corporate state and its small circle of billionaires. Don't fear Bolton; fear what we have let our country become.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Response to a complaint about our two Vassar student guests

Michael,

Thank you for listening to Activist Radio and for you exhaustive response to our recent interview of two student members of Vassar College's Jewish Voice for Peace. 

You ask us to correct some "inaccuracies" in their interview statements. No one likes inaccuracies, but these students were there during Vassar's campaign for BDS, and you weren't. Your references to supposed antisemitic statements made by Dr. Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers University, is a good example. Did you attend her lecture at Vassar two years ago? Or are your opinions based on some second hand account of what she was purported to say?

You might be interested in a letter about Dr. Paur that was sent to then President of Vassar College by over 500 scholars and educators.

"As scholars, educators, and and academicians engaged with political developments in Israel/Palestine and their effects in the United States, we are deeply concerned to learn that our esteemed colleague, Prof. Jasbir Puar of Rutgers University, has become the target of a rash of hate mail and other threats since delivering a talk at Vassar College earlier this month. These heinous and misinformed attacks are the direct result of the talk Prof. Puar presented at Vassar on Feb. 3, at the invitation of the American Studies Program and seven other academic programs and departments, including the Jewish Studies Program. We feel strongly, as we’re sure you’ll agree, that universities have a responsibility to provide invited speakers with a climate of security and safety, especially when their views are controversial. We also believe this responsibility to defend the free speech rights and integrity of invited guests continues even after they leave your campus, when they are subjected to vilification and hatred—as Prof. Puar has been, particularly in the ugly op-ed article in the Feb. 18 Wall Street Journal, which was also an attempt to smear Vassar College."

Sadly, you are still repeating this vilification of Dr. Paur in your criticism of my two student guests. I don't find your other "inaccuracies" in their interview any more creditable. 

Moreover, I think your letter confirms a finding by the Center for Constitutional Rights, that “a network of lobbying groups, watchdog groups, public relations entities, and advocacy groups funded by, working in coordination with, and/or staunchly supportive of the policies and practices of the Israeli government primarily drives efforts to silence speech on behalf of Palestinian rights.”

A free and open society must resist such attempts to smear and slander advocates of human rights. 

Fred Nagel

Activist Radio

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Institutionally stunted moral compass

Guest: Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, teacher from Lake Oswego, Oregon and author of several articles including “COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement” and "My So-Called Public School: School Foundations and the Myth of Funding Equity," talks about her latest piece in Common Dreams called: "Disguising Imperialism: How Textbooks Get the Cold War Wrong and Dupe Students."
I was very enthusiastic about this interview. Here is the heart of one of our country's most shameful problems, the fact that we teach the propaganda of imperialism. Whether it is the Pledge of Allegiance said at the beginning of each day, or the Star Spangled Banner played at each school event, our children are indoctrinated at an early age.

Nothing they subsequently learn in middle or high school questions the basic lesson that America is exceptionally strong and just. The teaching of history is particularly important. Students are taught that any moral failures of our country have long since been corrected. Slavery is gone so that problem is solved. The Mexican American War maybe wasn't right, but it helped our mighty country achieved its manifest destiny. And so it goes. Our democracy always corrects itself after; that's just the beauty of our Constitution and our system of government.  

Once a student graduates from high school, the rest is a slow process of discovery. The more one reads US history the less benign it seems. Cointelpro is a good example. The FBI actually has a long history of suppressing free speech. Sometimes that suppression has included assassinating Black or Native American leaders or charging them with crimes they didn't commit. Cointelpro is a good example of the FBI acting like the SS. And the CIA? Little more than an American death squad with unlimited resources, boundless confidence, and an institutionally stunted moral compass. 

So how does a high school teacher reconcile these two worlds? By teaching facts it seems. That gives a teacher like Ursula Wolfe-Rocca some protection. The one area that has remained difficult is teaching about Israel. Of course, Israel is the closest to fascism that our society has come with its unlimited racism, endemic corruption, and unbridled militarism. Israel represents one direction that the American Empire could go in. Let us hope for the world's children that our country eventually rejects the Israeli model.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Progressive except for Palestine

GUESTS: Ally and Paul, political activists and members of Jewish Voice for Peace at Vassar College, talk about Israeli Apartheid Week Apr 13 - 20 and the challenges of running a human rights organization on campus.



I decided to us just use first names after talking about what students at various colleges have gone through as members of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. 

The Zionist and their henchmen have been particularly vicious on our nation's college campuses. Imagine if Shell Oil had put up posters around Vassar College charging students working for renewable energy with terrorism? Or created websites so these same students might find it hard getting a job after college? The Israel Lobby is on another level altogether. As one congressional aid said about the lobby when we met with him about Palestinian rights, "They scare me." 

The Zionists just don't have another point of view. They support a fascist and racist state, and must believe to some extent in Israeli tactics. Those tactics include shooting unarmed protesters as we have seen all this last week.

And is it the fear of losing donations that makes colleges allow such assaults on intellectual freedom on their campuses? Instead of defending their students, many colleges have simply betrayed them, throwing Palestinian support groups off campus and even expelling some of their members. Someday, this history of collusion will be written. It will be a shameful chapter, especially for colleges that have presented themselves as bastions of liberal thought. Progressive except for Palestine.