Watching the Shadows
khazaria

Podcast: whither Khazaria?

In Episode 123 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the history of Khazaria, the medieval Turko-Jewish empire in what is now southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. While the fate of the mysterious Khazars has won much attention from scholars—and controversy—because of what it may reveal about the origin of the Jews of Eastern Europe, this question also touches on the origins of the Ukrainian people and state. Whatever the validity of the “Khazar Thesis” about the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazim, it is the Ukrainian Jews—such as President Volodymyr Zelensky—who are the most likely to trace a lineage of the Khazars. In 2021, Zelenksy and the Ukrainian parliament passed a law recognizing the cultural and autonomous rights of three indigenous peoples of the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula: the Muslim Tatars and the Jewish Krymchaks and Karaites. Of any Jews on Earth, it is these last two groups that have the best claim to the Khazar inheritance—and are now a part of the struggle for a free and multicultural Ukraine, in repudiation of the Russian neo-imperialist project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Fanciful rendering of Khazaria flag via AlternateHistory.com)

Europe
russonazis

Russian ‘denazification’ goes full Nazi

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, just days after issuing blatant nuclear threats, now engages in the classic anti-Semitic trope of blaming Nazism on the Jews. Speaking to Italian TV, Lavrov responded to a reminder that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish thusly: “When they say ‘What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews,’ well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.” This as Russian state media voices are openly calling for the “total annihilation” of Ukraine, and more mass graves are being discovered daily. Russia will be glorifying this campaign of extermination in massive military parades next week, commemorating the Soviet Union’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. (Photo via Twitter)

Europe
Kremlin

Podcast: against Putin’s Big Lie

In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin’s ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, “Putin’s Rasputin” and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for “genocide” of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposting a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign to “denazify” Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a “Nazi” state on dubious basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine’s Jewish community. Yet this “Big Lie” is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the “left” as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe
babiyar

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow’s propaganda offensive

Russia announced plans to host an international “Anti-Fascist Conference“—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. The surreal announcement came from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Moscow will hold the conference in August, in conjunction with an arms expo sponsored by his ministry. Among the invited countries are China (accused of genocide in Xinjiang), India (now emulating China’s mass detention policies), Pakistan (a fast-consolidating police state), Saudi Arabia (similarly moving toward a mass detention state), the UAE (a burgeoning police state), Azerbaijan (accused of war crimes in last year’s war with Armenia), Uzbekistan (an entrenched dictatorship), and Ethiopia (accused of crimes against humanity in the Tigray war). (Photo of Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)

Europe
lenin

Podcast: against Putin’s czaro-fascism

In Episode 112 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to deconstruct the cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism of Vladimir Putin’s war drive against Ukraine. Putin’s speech announcing his “military operation” in Ukraine says his aim is to “denazify” the country. This as Ukraine’s Jews prepare to flee the advancing Russian forces in a mass evacuation. While Ukraine has been going in a more democratic direction since the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Russia over this same period has seen a consolidation of increasingly autocratic power in the hands of Vladimir Putin—who has ruled continuously as either president or prime minister since 1999. As courageous anti-war protesters flood the streets of cities across Russia in defiance of the authorities, the morally and intellectually bankrupt “left” in the United States echoes Putin’s lies. Any genuine anti-war position must begin with repudiating Putin’s fascist ambition to rebuild the Russian empire. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Meme via Imgflip. Lenin quote from his 1916 essay, “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination”)

Europe
Ukraine

Podcast: Ukraine between East and West

In Episode 108 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the frightening East-West escalation over Ukraine. Beyond the front-line on that country’s eastern borders, the forces of Russia and its allies and those of NATO are preparing for war from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. The “anti-war” (sic) left in the US is, with perfect predictability, lining up with Russia. Contrary to pseudo-left misconceptions, the post-Cold War promises to Russia that NATO would not expand east were never formalized. However, the promises made to Ukraine that its sovereignty and territory would be protected were formalized. The prevailing double standard on the Western “left” sensationalizes a “Nazi” threat in Ukraine while ignoring the actual consolidation of fascistic dictatorships in Russia and Belarus. Putin’s propaganda, spread by the Kremlin media machine, is an exercise in fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Ukrainian socialists and democratic-left forces advance a “Neither East Nor West” position that demands solidarity against Russian aggression from the world anti-war forces. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Africa
igbo jews

Igbo Jews targeted by Nigeria security forces: report

Scores of Jewish worshipers were reportedly arrested when Nigerian state security forces raided a synagogue in the Igbo village of Orji, Imo state. Local media reported that soliders burst into the temple during Shabbat services and fired in the air before taking several away in military vans, apparently on suspicion of supporting the Biafra separtist movement. Although it has received little media coverage outside the immediate region, there have reportedly been several such incidents in the southeastern Biafra region since the recent re-emergence of the independence movement; government forces are said to have razed six synagogues last year, and arrested dozens of Igbo worshipers. (Photo: Rodrex News Africa)

New York City

Podcast: anti-Semitism and propaganda —again

In Episode 90 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines claims from New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul and local politicians of “anti-Semitic graffiti” spray-painted along Manhattan’s Harlem River Drive on the eve of Yom Kippur. The governor’s press release did not tell us what the graffiti actually said. This is rather critical information, given the contemporary controversies about what constitutes an anti-Semitic slur, and the confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Yet most media coverage uncritically accepted Hochul’s claims. Weinberg parses the facts in the case, and (as usual) finds plenty to criticize on both sides: the spray-painters and the politicians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

Europe
belarus cops

Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism in Belarus

Under long-ruling dictator Alexander Lukashenko, a fascistic order has long obtained in Belarus—and amid the wave of state terror following last year’s stolen elections, it may now be going over the edge into outright fascism. Which is why it’s particularly sickening that Lukashenko and his propaganda machine are playing to anti-fascism in the international flare-up over his latest outrage. Activist and blogger Roman Protasevich, arrested when a passenger plane was forced down by a Belarusian fighter jet, may face the death penalty for “terrorism” charges. But it all appears to rest on Protasevich’s supposed involvement in Ukraine’s Nazi-nostalgist Azov Battalion—and this seems entirely a matter of conjecture. (Photo: Libcom.org)

Palestine
Gaza

Palestine: ICC prosecutor warns of ‘war crimes’

Individuals involved in the new outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting may be targeted by an International Criminal Court investigation now underway into possible war crimes in earlier eruptions of the conflict, top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with Reuters. Bensouda said she would press ahead with her inquiry even without the cooperation of Israel, which rejects the ICC’s jurisdiction. “These are events that we are looking at very seriously,” Bensouda stated. “We are monitoring very closely and I remind that an investigation has opened…” She also warned in a tweet of the “possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statue.” (Photo: Maan News)

Greater Middle East
Yemeni Jews

Podcast: requiem for the Yemeni Jews

In Episode 68 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg offers a meditation on the final demise of the millennia-old Jewish community in Yemen, as the last families of Yemeni Jews are deported by the Houthi rebels that hold the capital and much of the country’s north. Largely ignored by the world media amid the ongoing horrors in Yemen, this grim passage poses challenges to some fundamental assumptions of both Zionism and anti-imperialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
Yemeni Jews

Houthis deport last of the Yemeni Jews

The Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen’s north, including the capital Sanaa, deported 13 Jews from three families—effectively ending the millennia-old Jewish community in the country. One of the 13 deportees told London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat: “History will remember us as the last of Yemeni Jews who were still clinging to their homeland until the last moment. We had rejected temptations time and time again, and refused to leave our homeland, but today we are forced.” The majority of the country’s Jews—some 45,000—were brought to Israel in the “Operation Magic Carpet” airlift in 1948. The Israeli operation followed local riots in which scores of Jews were killed. Yemen’s Jewish community had dwindled to some 200 when a new wave of pogroms sparked a second exodus beginning 12 years ago. Since they took over Sanaa in 2014, the Houthis have been pressuring the few Jews still remaining in the country to leave. (Photo: Yemeni Jews celebrating Passover in Israel in 1946, via Wikipedia)