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”‚ÄĒwhich 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‚ÄĒeven 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)

South Asia
manipur

Podcast: from Manipur to the West Bank

In Episode 179 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg compares the military and settler attacks on Palestinian towns in the West Bank with the eruption of ethnic violence in Northeast India’s state of Manipur‚ÄĒand uncovers the unlikely connection between the two. The Kuki indigenous people now targeted in Manipur includes a sub-group, the Bnei Menashe, who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and practice an ancient form of Judaism. Israeli NGOs are raising the alarm about the violence in Manipur, but also exploiting it, luring Bnei Menashe to emigrate to Israel‚ÄĒwith some¬†settled on the West Bank, serving as demographic cannon fodder for the Zionist project. The Kuki and Palestinians, both land-rooted peoples usurped of their traditional territory, are pitted against each other‚ÄĒdespite the convergence of their enemies in a Hindutva-Zionist alliance. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: E-PAO)

Palestine
settlement

Defiant Israel to expand West Bank settlements

Israel’s right-wing nationalist government announced new plans¬†to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the USand EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: “The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues.” The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for US and international action to press the Israeli government to backtrack on the decision. (Photo of settlement outside¬†Za’atara:¬†Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
Palestine

Israel’s paramilitary plan advances

The Israeli cabinet¬†authorized plans for a paramilitary “National Guard” sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that a committee comprised of Israel’s existing security forces is to determine the Guard’s responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an “extremist fantasy of delusional people,” and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries “to fund Ben-Gvir’s private militia.” (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Palestine
Tel Aviv protest

Israel protests score a win ‚ÄĒfor now

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu¬†announced that he will delay his proposed reforms of the judicial system in the face of ongoing mass protests. Calling it a move to “avoid civil war,” Netanyahu declared in a televised address “a timeout for dialogue.” However, he added: “We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system.”¬†Opponents of the reform remain wary that the current respite is only¬†temporary, a tactic to buy time while tensions cool.¬†The protest campaign has also seen a wave of civil disobedience, with military reservists refusing to report for duty.¬†Despite the general single-issue focus on the judicial reform, the demonstrations have included an “anti-apartheid bloc” calling for a secular state and decolonization of Palestinian lands.¬†(Photo: Or Adar/The Umbrella Movement via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
Palestine

From Palestine to Iran: free the land

In Episode 160 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes hideous ironies in the current horrific headlines. Russia was excluded from the official commemorations of Holocaust Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau as it pursues its war of aggression and extermination in Ukraine in the perverse name of “de-nazification.” But Israeli flags were of course displayed at the commemoration‚ÄĒeven as Israel escalates toward a genocidal solution to the Palestinian question. The fundamental contradiction driving the conflict is the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their lands, and the denial of their self-determination by Israel. The emergence of an explicitly anti-Zionist bloc in the protests against the¬†new far-right government in Israel is a sign of hope. The US, however, is undertaking its biggest joint military exercises ever with the new Israeli regime, despite Biden’s supposed rejection of its extremist policies of settlement expansion and annexation‚ÄĒviewing the Jewish State as a strategic ally against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, the oppressive regime in Iran treats minority peoples such as the Kurds, Baluch, Ahwazi and Baha’i much as Israel treats the Palestinians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: B’Tselem)

Palestine
khan al ahmar

New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel’s new far-right government‚ÄĒdespite the Biden administration’s supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and¬†annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel’s eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call¬†the “Samaria” region of the West Bank.¬†Simultaneously, the Israeli government announced it is preparing to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, home to at least 180 people.¬†Khan al-Ahmar lies within a key corridor stretching to the Jordan Valley, where Israel aims to expand and link¬†settlements, effectively cutting the West Bank into two.¬†(Photo: B’Tselem)

Palestine
Siloam

Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions

Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, flanked by by a heavy security detail‚ÄĒeliciting outrage from the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority called the move “an unprecedented provocation,” with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site “into a Jewish temple.” The fracas comes as Israeli authorities have launched another supposed archaeological project in East Jerusalem which critics say masks an ongoing program of “Judaization” of the Old City. This concerns the Pool of Siloam, a small reservoir believed to have served Jerusalem in biblical times. In making the announcement, officials visited the site, accompanied by a large detachment of police‚ÄĒsparking a spontaneous protest from local Palestinian residents. Three members of a Palestinian family that claims rights to the land in question were detained. (Photo: –ö—É–Ņ–į–Ľ—Ć–Ĺ—Ź –°–ł–Ľ–ĺ–į–ľ, –ė–Ķ—Ä—É—Ā–į–Ľ–ł–ľ via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
settlement

UN seeks World Court opinion on occupation of Palestine

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution referring Israel’s 55-year occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a legal advisory. The vote, which followed approval of a draft resolution by the Special Committee on Decolonization, was 87-26, with 53 abstentions. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the vote, saying in a statement: “The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people.”¬†But the response of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power just two days before the vote, makes clear his government’s annexationist agenda. He stated:¬†“The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No UN resolution can distort this historical truth.”¬†The far-right coalition that now takes power has pledged to expand Israeli settlement of the West Bank. ¬†(Photo: delayed gratification via New Jewish Resistance)

Palestine
Palestine

Chile to open embassy in Palestine

Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric has announced. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is “taking a risk” with the move, but added: “We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d’affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy.” The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it¬†“affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state.” (Image:¬†Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Palestine
Apartheid wall

Robo-Zionist policing of West Bank

The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and “non-lethal” bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness¬†accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives‚ÄĒboth Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its report on the installation, “critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm‚Äôs way.” (Photo: Filippo Minelli)

Palestine
Palestine

UN report: occupation of Palestine ‘unlawful’

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,¬†released its second report, stating there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies.” The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the “illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel” and require Israel to bring “its permanent occupation to an end immediately.”¬†(Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)