North America
border wall

Biden executive order restricts asylum seekers at border

President Joe Biden signed an executive order barring asylum claims from anyone who crosses the US-Mexico border illegally. The ban will be suspended if border agents observe a seven-day average of fewer than 1,500 “encounters,” which include apprehensions of undocumented migrants within 100 miles of the border or entry refusals at US-Mexico land border crossings. However, if border authorities record a seven-day average of 2,500 or more encounters, the restriction will be reinstated. Shortly after the proclamation was signed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vowed to challenge it in court. The civil rights group said the order “will severely restrict people’s legal right to seek asylum, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk.” (Photo via FWS)

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)

Palestine
Isratine

Podcast: against Zionism, toward pro-Semitism

In Episode 220 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses two new books on the related themes of the Jewish Question and the Question of Palestine. One, The New American Anti-Semitism: The Left, the Right, and the Jews by Benjamin Ginsberg, is dangerously deluded. The other, The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto by Daniel Boyarin, begins to move the discussion in the right direction. Weinberg goes further, calling for pan-Semitic unity between Jews and Arabs in repudiation of racism, imperialism and colonialism in all forms—including both Zionism and anti-Semitism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: proposed symbol for “Isratine,” a binational state in historic Palestine. Credit: AnonMoos via Wikipedia)

Watching the Shadows
anti-semitism

Podcast: Blood Libel in a time of genocide

Calling out the “Blood Libelrhetoric and imagery in anti-Israel invective would certainly be a lot easier if Israel were not actually killing children, in large numbers, with leading voices openly calling for genocide of the Palestinians. And if pro-Israel (and MAGA) propaganda did not cynically conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Yet from Manhattan to Cincinnati to Dallas to Berkeley and Santa Barbara, slogans and graffiti have tarred Jews as Zionists and “baby-killers”—playing into the hands of Israel’s propagandists. Bill Weinberg discusses the dilemma in Episode 218 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.(Image: frgdr.com)

Planet Watch
Daouda Diallo

Frontline fighters (and martyrs) for free speech

In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Dialloremains missing months after he was “disappeared,” presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor “progressives” in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause cĂ©lèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: CISC via OHCR)

Palestine
Rafah

Netanyahu orders ‘evacuation’ of southern Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military to draw up plans for the “evacuation” of Palestinians from Rafah in southern Gaza as it prepares to launch a full-scale assault on the area. Where people would be evacuated to—and how—remains unclear. Over one million Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel’s military campaign—now entering its fifth month—have been pushed into Rafah. Aid groups warn that there is nowhere left for people to flee to. People in Rafah are already experiencing disease and starvation, and aid operations are struggling to meet even basic needs. A ground invasion would “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare,” UN Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres said. (Photo: Yousef Hammash/NRC)

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)

Europe
arm ukraine

Propaganda game in fight over Ukraine military aid

With Republicans holding up new military aid for Ukraine on Capitol Hill, Russia launched one of the most massive aerial assaults of the war, killing 40 in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Lviv. Ukraine retaliated the next day with a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, killing at least 22. Russia counter-retaliated with a wave of drone strikes, damaging schools, hospitals and homes across Ukraine, killing at least 24. Russia accused Ukraine of using internationally prohibited cluster munitions in the strike on Belgorod, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Of course, Russia has itself used cluster munitions since the start of the war in February 2022, despite international criticism from bodies including the UN Human Rights Council. (Photo from Little Ukraine, NYC: CounterVortex)

Watching the Shadows
anti-semitism

Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism: parsing the difference

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)

North America
Otay Mesa

US to settle class-action suit on family separation

The US government announced that it will settle a 2018 class-action lawsuit that challenged the Trump administration’s family separation practice at the US-Mexico border. The proposed settlement would create a process to reunify families who were separated. Additionally, the government is to provide health services and housing support for affected families, and arrange legal services through the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Another provision of the deal bars the federal government from immigration policies that separate parents from children for eight years. The settlement does not provide any monetary relief for affected people. (Photo: BBC World Service via Flickr)

North America
border wall

Biden admin approves new section of border wall

The Biden administration announced that it has waived 26 federal laws in an area of South Texas by executive order to allow border wall construction—a tactic used often during the Trump presidency. The Department of Homeland Security posted the waiver on the Federal Registry, affecting a “high illegal entry” sector in Starr County, Tex. According to government data, about 245,000 illegal entries have been recorded in this sector during the current fiscal year. The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act are among the laws suspended by the order. (Photo via FWS)

Greater Middle East
Sahrawis

Podcast: from the West Bank to Western Sahara

In Episode 184 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress was happily boycotted by members of the “Squad,” and comes as even establishment voices are calling for a cut-off of US aid in light of the deep political crisis in Israel. Unhappily, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was forced to issue an apology for having called Israel a “racist state”—which is a mere statement of political reality. In contrast, Ron DeSantis was not forced to issue any such apology for openly embracing Israel’s illegal annexationist designs on the West Bank—even as they are protested by UN international law experts. All this comes as Israel has joined the US as the only countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, a condition of the so-called Abraham Accords. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Kirby Gookin/Western Sahara Resource Center)