Amid Israel’s massive aerial bombardment of Gaza, accusations of anti-Semitism at demonstrations for Palestine are mounting. But some instances were later revealed to have been distorted or exaggerated. The increasingly accepted official “working definition of anti-Semitism” dangerously muddies the water by explicitly conflating anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred. Media questioning of the claims of the Israeli military has even been compared to Holocaust denial. Yet actual, unambiguous Jew-hatred is meanwhile much in evidence, in America and Europe alike. This raises the imperative on activists to genuinely grapple with the distinction, rather than merely dismissing anti-Semitism as Zionist propaganda—which is, ironically, itself an anti-Semitic response. In Episode 201 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinbergexplores the dilemma. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: frgdr.com)
The Netherlands and Canada jointly submitted a case against Syria to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the Damascus regime of committing numerous violations of international law, including torture, since the start of the country’s civil conflict in 2011. The primary objective of the application is ICJ action compelling Syria to desist from any future use of torture. If the ICJ finds that it holds authority to rule on the matter, it will mark the first instance of an international court judging Syrian torture allegations. (Photo: ICJ)
NATO opened an annual exercise to test nuclear deterrence capabilities in Europe, with the participation of 14 of the 30 member countries. The drill, this year dubbed “Steadfast Noon,” will run two weeks and involve 60 aircraft, mostly over the North Sea. Russia’s own nuclear deterrence drills, known as GROM, are expected to begin later this month—which means they will overlap with the NATO exercise. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps meanwhile launched a large-scale military drill along the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The exercise has seen construction of a temporary pontoon bridge, allowing passage of tanks and armored vehicles, over portions of the Araz River that separates Iran from the Caucasus republics. Last month, Tehran warned that it would not tolerate any seizure of territory from Armenia by Azerbaijan after border clashes broke out between its two northern neighbors. (Photo of B-52 Stratofortress via Wikimedia Commons)
The arrest of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy has sparked angry protests in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and other Spanish cities. Facing charges in relation to his tweets and song lyrics, Hasél barricaded himself alongside supporters inside Catalonia’s University of Lleida. His supporters sprayed fire-extinguishers at troops when the building was raided by the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. As he was led away, supporters shouted, “They will never silence us; death to the fascist state!” Hasél was turned over to Spanish authorities to begin serving a nine-month term. Angry protests immediately broke out, with several demonstrators arrested that night. Protests have continued throughout the week. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi and three Iranian-Belgians went on trial in Antwerp, Belgium, marking the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism. The four are charged with planning an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in 2018. The NCRI is political wing of the exiled Iranian opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Assadi served at Tehran’s embassy in Vienna and is believed to have been working for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. (Photo of 2018 rally in Paris via NCRI)
The Court of Cassation of Belgium upheld a lower court’s judgement and ruled that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is not a “terrorist organization.” The case, one of several in Belgium relating to the nature of the PKK, stems from an investigation into three local Kurdish supporters of the party by Belgian judicial authorities. The legality of the investigation was challenged, and in May 2017 the Court of Appeals ruled for the three activists. The Federal Prosecutor’s appeal of this ruling has now been rejected. One of the three targeted leaders, Zübeyir Aydar of the Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress, said: “The Court of Cassation ruling recognizes the fact that the Kurdistan freedom struggle cannot be accused of terrorism, that what is in question is not terror but a war, and the PKK is a party of this war. This is a first in Europe and we hope it will set an example to other countries.” A case has been pending since November 2018 before the European Court of Justice challenging the European Union’s listing of the PKK as a “terrorist organization.” (Photo: ANF)
Brazilian police arrested a man accused as a leader of the notorious First Capital Command drug gang, who was named as a top contact in South America of southern Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta crime network. “Andre do Rap,” detained in Sao Paolo in an operation that included US DEA agents, is said to have overseen massive cocaine exports to Europe via Italy’s southern region of Calabria. In July, police arrested two Italian nationals at a luxury seaside apartment in Sao Paulo, who were also said to be ‘Ndrangheta operatives. A month earlier, accused top ‘Ndrangheta figure Rocco Morabito escaped from a prison in Uruguay—angering Rome, which had been awaiting his extradition. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)
After nine years of proceedings, a court in Belgium acquitted multiple defendants accused of activities involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Belgian judicial authorities had requested that 36 individuals and companies be tried by a criminal court on charges of taking part in "terrorist activity." The Belgian Chamber of Indictment, however, blocked proceedings against all defendants, ruling that the PKK insurgency is an "internal armed conflict" within Turkey and, as such, neither the party nor its armed wing, the People's Defense Forces (HPG), may be considered a terrorist organization under Belgian law. The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the decision. (Photo: ANF)
Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court acquitted former Côte d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, his former youth minister. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were accused of four counts of crimes against humanity related to violence following a disputed 2010 election that left 3,000 dead and 500,000 displaced. Gbagbo was arrested in 2011 in a presidential palace bunker by UN and French-backed forces supporting his rival, Alassane Ouattara. He was the first former head of state to face trial at the ICC. The Chamber ordered both accused to be immediately released. "The acquittal of Gbagbo and Blé Goudé will be seen as a crushing disappointment to victims of post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire," said Amnesty International in a statement. (Photo: ICC)
Hundreds of thousands filled the streets of Barcelona as a general strike was called to protest “grave violation of rights and freedoms” by Spanish security forces during the vote on independence for Catalonia. Civil Guard troops mobilized to Catalonia are being cheered along the way by crowds of right-wing Spanish nationalists waving the national flag and chanting provocatively, “Viva Franco!”
Vladimir Putin issued an ultimatum to the defenders of Aleppo's rebel-held east that they abandon the city, as a Russian war fleet approaches Syria's coast.
Republican presidential hopefuls rushed to exploit the Brussels attacks, with Ted Cruz calling for police surveillance of Muslims and Trump actually broaching nuclear strikes.