August 28, 2016

Greensboro and Poughkeepsie

GUEST: Gary Kenton, political activist and former co-host of Activist Radio, returns to the Vassar College airways to talk about progressive movements in his new state, North Carolina.

What a pleasure to have Gary back on Activist Radio. It was a one time event since he lives in North Carolina these days.

Gary, Eli, and I talked about race relations in Greensboro, comparing them to Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County. The fact that we in the north live in such segregated areas really diminishes white people's chances of having meaningful talks with Blacks about race and privilege. Not so, Gary tells us, in Greensboro where races are more mixed and the city has a long history of promoting these types of discussions. 

So is the current debate about Dutchess County's new jail just a way to avoid actually talking to Blacks about what really matters? Of course, the jail is a criminal waste of money, especially since it is being built after so many social services have been slashed or done away with. Progressive whites can all agree on this. But does this logical analysis take the place of genuine conversations with Blacks on race in America? 

Racism is America's disease, so embedded in our history and culture as to almost be invisible. The cure will only come when white American can accept our individual responsibility for perpetuating this system of oppression. 

August 20, 2016

To the Editor:

Sadly, Israel has become a rogue nation and a pariah state to much of the international community. Human rights abuses, military occupation, illegal settlements, home demolitions, brutal invasions (resulting in the deaths of over 500 children), and a cruel blockade that causes food and water shortages for more than a million Palestinians all contribute to Israel’s isolation in the world. 

Of course, Israel needs to be criticized and Israel needs to change. Any government (whether it be China, Saudi Arabia, Hondouras, or the US) needs to be criticized when repeatedly violating human rights and inflicting humiliation and suffering on innocent peoples. The state of Israel could not commit any of these abuses without the $3.5 Billion of US taxpayers dollars that go to Israel every year. 

Clearly, it is not anti-semitic to criticize the policies of the government of Israel. The sad truth is that Israel’s policies and actions have generated a worldwide backlash of antagonism and hatred towards Israel. And tragically, Israel’s policies and actions incite and provoke those who are genuinely anti-semitic. 

I would encourage Americans who truly care about the future of Israel to advocate for changes in Israeli policy that would promote real peace and justice for all. The future is indeed bleak for an Israel bent on maintaining an apartheid, colonial, settler state. The future Israel may not look like a Zionist dream, but hopefully, it will be a peaceful and just nation inhabited by both Jews and Arabs. 


August 18, 2016

Islamophobia is an imperial disease

GUEST: Ellie Bernstein, filmmaker and political activist, will talk to us about her latest documentary "The Impact," that explores Islamophobia around the world and how some governments use racist fears to target and frighten Muslims.

The assault on Muslims continues in the Western World. Many of the European countries as well as the US have established colonies in the Middle East, and the result has often been devastation and widespread carnage. Millions more have been displaced in these imperial wars.

To justify these crimes in the Middle East, the Western countries have encouraged a virulent racism towards Muslims, both in the occupied countries and in their own homelands. Islamophobia is an imperial disease, and the most vicious of all the occupying countries, Israel, practices the crudest form of racial prejudice towards it's millions of Palestinians.

Not to be outflanked by human rights campaigns in the US, Israel has poured money into making Americans fearful of Islam and of the Muslim people in their midst. The cancer that is Israel has metastasize in America, leading to physical attacks on Arabs and threats of deportation.

Ellie Bernstein's film will explore how far Western countries have come in destroying their own freedom of speech in the name of profit and political hegemony. It is a terrible price we all must pay for war crimes committed in our name.

August 11, 2016

The violence of love

GUEST: Alexis Stoumbelis, executive director of CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, talks about neoliberalism and how it destroys lives in Latin America.

Archbishop Romero taught me more about US foreign policy than any history course I had ever taken. He spoke from the heart to the US Empire. Please stop arming and training the death squads in El Salvador. 

But there was no human being to talk to, and the good archbishop was murdered by a sniper while saying Mass in a chapel in San Salvador. Not by any sniper, of course, but one trained in the US at the School of the Americas. 

Read the archbishop's words, and then about his life. There are good people all around the world who take the most insane chances to promote the "violence of love." And then there are the princes of darkness who preach "the violence of hatred." We who live in the empire must come to recognize that our leaders are the latter, and that the crimes they have done in our name are too disturbing for most to even contemplate. 

August 9, 2016

From Alexis Stoumbelis

Hi Fred and Eli,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share what we're working on and for all of your long-term support for the Salvadoran people's struggle and for our solidarity work here in the US. I totally agree with you - this is like a hidden economic war and the connections to migration and the refugee crisis are huge. Thanks for helping to bring them to people's awareness and understanding - it really matters that people are able to make those links and connections.

We'll definitely share the interview and give a shout-out to Activist Radio later this week! We're happy to come back anytime - just let me know!

many thanks,

Alexis Stoumbelis
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
1525 Newton St. NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 521-2510  ext. 205

August 4, 2016

Waving our corporate logos to the very end

GUEST: Ellen Isaacs, retired physician, political activist, and freelance writer, talks about the refugee crisis, racism as well as their links to Neoliberal capitalism.

The world's massive refugee problem seems like it came out of nowhere. There were wars in the Middle East, right?

Ellen Isaacs points out the role of Western militarism in devastating this whole region, with weapons sales, bombings and outright invasions, all done in the name of making a profit for the few.

But war is not the biggest cause of mass migrations. The World Bank plays a major role in applying neoliberal capitalism to countries that were self sufficient before the infusion of billions of dollars. With all this money to be invested, the elite class steals what they can, and the rest gets poured into projects that benefit stockholders in developed countries. Peasants are thrown off their land to build dams, to clear forest for agribusiness, and to build low wage factories. Life for the average Third World person becomes unbearable and they pack their meager possessions for the perilous journey ahead.

It is not just the Middle East and Africa; it is also Latin America, all despoiled by capitalism run amok. Or is it capitalism run amok? Ellen thinks capitalism always leads to exploitation and war. It's the nature of the beast. All the rest, which includes much of the left in America is stuck on a feeble incrementalism that makes our system better for a time, only to relapse again when the pressure is off. Hold Hillary's feet to the fire anyone?

I have always had hopes that the system of savage capitalism we have seen in the last thirty years could be reformed. The Scandinavian countries were successful for a time. So was the US during the Great Depression. Why is that still not possible?

Perhaps this is a different age. We see climate change as having the potential to end our species. We know that a full scale nuclear war would do the same. Is capitalism just too dangerous now that human kind is this close to the edge? Or will our innate greed carry us right over that cliff, waving our corporate logos to the very end?

August 3, 2016

For the empires of their day

PANEL: Alan Levine, Constitutional lawyer and Donna Nevel, National Board member for Jewish Voice for Peace, discuss both the First Amendment and the moral arguments against Cuomo’s order creating a blacklist of organizations and groups using boycotts for peace and justice in the Middle East.

This panel was one of the best I have attended on the BDS movement and free speech. I cut back on the legal arguments for broadcast because they are difficult for a non-legal audience to follow. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression. It is just that the Supreme Court has widened our protections over the last century. Now our government can't intend to threaten or intimidate to keep people from expressing what they want. 

With Cuomo it is easy to understand. He wants to intimidate groups from boycotting Israel because there is so much money to be had being a "friend" of the apartheid state. The Israel Lobby is awash in cash as are several billionaires who have devoted their fortunes to supporting the colonization of Palestine. By creating blacklists, the governor hopes to hurt the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. He will get his payoff by betraying his country's Constitution.

That is why Donna Nevel's talk is so important. Don't do this in my name she implores as a Jewish American. Occupation, imprisonment without rights, and bloody attacks on defenseless civilians in Gaza are not what Judaism is about. In fact, these human rights abuses are the opposite of what she learned from her culture and heritage. 

Jews are being used by the American Empire, just as were the Protestants in Northern Ireland used by the British. Colonizing populations almost always pay the price for ethnically cleansing native peoples for the empires of their day.