Watching the Shadows
anti-semitism

Anti-Semitism versus anti-Zionism: beyond parsing

The Zionist propaganda machine continues to weaponize the accusation of anti-Semitism to delegitimize any effort to resist Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza. This increases rather than decreases the responsibility of activists to distinguish—and oppose—actual anti-Semitism. Yet in recent weeks, sectors of the activist response to the Gaza genocide in the United States have utterly surrendered to the most abject, undisguised, unambiguous anti-Semitism—playing right into the hands of the Zionist calumnies. Bill Weinberg discusses this difficult reality in Episode 231 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image via frgdr Blog. Hebrew lettering in background spells names of places in Europe where Jews were exterminated.)

Greater Middle East
sahara

Netanyahu’s new map flap: multiple ironies

Israel was forced to apologize to Morocco after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen in a video displaying a map of the Middle East and North Africa—that failed to show the occupied (and illegally annexed) territory of Western Sahara as within the kingdom’s borders. Netanyahu brandished the map in an interview with a French TV channel, showing what he called “the Arab world” in green, a swath of near-contiguous territory from Iraq to Mauritania—contrasting small, isolated Israel, “the one and only Jewish state.” The goof was especially dire because in 2020 Israel joined the US as the only two countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, in exchange for Moroccan recognition of the Jewish state under the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords. This was a cozy mutual betrayal of both the Palestinians and Sahrawi Arabs, the indigenous inhabitants of occupied Western Sahara. (Image: Twitter via Middle East Eye)

New York City
Google

Google fires employees who protested Israel contract

Google fired 28 workers after dozens of employees participated in sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif., to protest a cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. Several were arrested at both locations. Tensions had been building between management and activist employees over Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion joint Google-Amazon deal to supply the Israeli government with cloud services, including artificial intelligence. Google employees affiliated with the group that organized the sit-ins, No Tech for Apartheid, said in a statement that the firings were “a flagrant act of retaliation.” The use of artificial intelligence to generate potential targets appears to have contributed to the destructive nature of the current war on the Gaza Strip, an investigation by progressive Israeli website +972 recently revealed. (Photo: Q Sakamaki/The Village Sun)

Planet Watch
toad

Podcast: further thoughts on the common toad

In Episode 221 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues the Spring ritual from his old WBAI program, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade (which he lost due to his political dissent), of reading the George Orwell essay “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad“—which brilliantly predicted ecological politics when it was published way back in April 1946. The Social Ecology of Murray Bookchin today informs a radical response to the global climate crisis, emphasizing self-organized action at the local and municipal levels as world leaders dither, proffer techno-fix solutions, or consciously obstruct progress. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: National Wildlife Federation)

Watching the Shadows
Flushing

Podcast: Reformation, Remonstrance, Reaction

In Episode 210 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg traces the paradoxical trajectory from medieval heresies to the Protestant Reformation, proto-anarchist movements of the English Civil War, fights for religious freedom in colonial America (with an emphasis on the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657), Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad (e.g. at the Quaker homestead of Bowne House in Flushing, NY)—to evangelical Protestantism as a pillar of Christian fascism in the impending MAGA order. How did we get here, and what elements of American political culture can we look to as a source of resistance today? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: 1957 postage stamp commemorating Flushing Remonstrance via Wikipedia)

New York City
lower-east-side

New York City mayor: ‘no room’ for migrants

New York Mayor Eric Adams traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that “there is no room” for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. “The federal government should pick up the entire cost,” Adams said. “[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis.” He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a “humanitarian crisis that was created by man,” citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities. But New York City comptroller Brad Lander dissented from Adams’ Texas trip, stating that it “reinforces a harmful narrative that new migrants themselves are a problem.” (Photo via TripAdvisor)

Planet Watch
Guangzhou

Bicycling in China & the origins of Critical Mass

Legendary transportation activist George Bliss will be presenting a slideshow and hosting a discussion of his 1991 trip to China at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in New York City on Friday Dec. 9. What would NYC be like if we got rid of cars and everybody rode bikes? In 1991, Bliss and filmmaker Ted White visited Guangzhou, China (then pop. six million). Only one in a thousand owned cars. Bikes cost about $50. There was no theft because cheap attended bike-parking was everywhere. Riding en masse was fun, and traffic flowed safely and efficiently with almost no red lights. The term “critical mass“—first applied to this phenomenon by Bliss in White’s film Return of the Scorcher—soon became a rallying cry in the global bike movement. While that China is long gone, its legacy points to the city we could yet have, even half a world away. (Photo: George Bliss)

New York City
Randall's Island

NYC: island emergency camp for asylum seekers

New York City workers have started erecting a series of sprawling tents in vacant parking lots on Randall’s Island, between the East and Harlem rivers, to house undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers. The so-called “Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers” are to hold some 500, officially for no more than five days. At least two more tent cities are planned, with Orchard Beach in the Bronx named as another possible location. Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered National Guard troops to help staff the centers. Since the spring, some 17,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in New York—many sent to the city on buses by authorities in Texas. The city has already opened 42 emergency shelters to deal with the influx, and Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency. (Map via Google)

New York City
traffic casualty

Podcast: against the anti-bicycle backlash

In Episode 142 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes on the ugly backlash against bicyclists in New York City, which has escalated from petitioning against bike lanes to dangerous anti-bicycle vigilantism. The recent killing of Chelsea resident Gavin Lee by a hit-and-run bicyclist became a rallying point for the anti-bike partisans. But 255 New Yorkers were killed by motorists last year, their names quickly forgotten by all but their loved ones. The killing of young bicycle messenger Robyn Hightman by a truck driver in 2019 briefly sparked protests. But the names of most victims of automotive terror quickly go down the media Memory Hole. Weinberg recounts some of the recent lives claimed by motorists in the city: Be Tran, Carling Mott, Christian Catalan, Lynn Christopher, Karina Larino, Eric Salitsky, Raife Milligan. It is the auto-centric system that pits pedestrians and bicyclists against each other. What is needed is the dismantling of this system, and its replacement with one that centers human beings and human-powered transport—as is already underway in several European cities. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Bill Weinberg)

New York City
Loisaida

Podcast: political geography of the Lower East Side

In Episode 141 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg defends the notion that he lives on New York’s Lower East Side, repudiating those who would insist that his neighborhood is actually the East Village or (worse) NoHo. Weinberg traces the nomenclature controversies going all the way back to the Lenape indigenous villages of the area, Dutch and English colonial settlement, the riots and uprisings of the “Gangs of New York” era, the neighborhood’s Puerto Rican identity as Loisaida, the origin of the name “East Village” in the hippie explosion of the 1960s, its cooptation by the real estate industry in the gentrification of the 1980s, and the resultant last gasp of anarchist resistance. Weinberg counts himself among a surviving coterie of old-timers who still consider the entire area to be the Lower East Side. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Carmen PabĂłn del Amanecer JardĂ­n)

New York City
Second Circuit

Jury nullification at issue in federal case

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated a New York law that limits protest near courthouses. The reinstated law, New York Penal Law § 215.50 (7), prohibits people from engaging in conduct “concerning the conduct of a trial being held” within 200 feet of a courthouse. The case, Picard v. Magliano, concerned activist Michael Picard, who was arrested for distributing “jury nullification” literature outside of a New York courthouse. In 2017, Picard stood outside of the Bronx County Hall of Justice holding a sign that said “Jury Info.” Picard had flyers that read “No Victim? No Crime. Google Jury Nullification” and “‘One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws’ – Martin Luther King Jr.” Picard claimed he was not trying to influence juror votes, nor was he aware of “any particular cases in which jurors were being impaneled or serving at the time.” (Photo: Wikipedia)

New York City
NYCHA

Human Rights Watch assails NYC housing policy

A New York City program that has privatized management and effective control of much public housing stock lacks adequate oversight and protections for residents’ rights, Human Rights Watch charges in a new report. The 98-page report, entitled The Tenant Never Wins,examines the impact of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) program called Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT), which utilizes a federal program developed by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) to permit the semi-privatization of public housing. Under PACT, which was launched in December 2016, NYCHA leases its public housing developments to private companies for 99 years, effectively privatizing management of the buildings. Human Rights Watch found that PACT conversions also mean the loss of key protections for residents, and may have contributed to increased evictions. (Photo via NYS Senate)