Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
28 May 2022 | 9:23 am

Report from Germany: Refugees Welcome … Sometimes

Posted on streetlamps all over Germany are stickers showing fleeing silhouettes with the caption, "Refugees welcome – bring your families". Some have been blacked out with felt markers or ripped partially away. The Germans have mixed feelings about refugees, as demonstrated in the earlier waves from the Mideast and the current one from the Ukraine.

Germany took in over two million refugees from the Mideast wars, far more than any other country. The equivalent for the US population would be eight million.

This has created an enormous financial and cultural strain in a country that historically has had little immigration. It comes at a time when poverty is increasing and social services are being reduced. The once-generous welfare state is gradually being dismantled. This financial squeeze is worsening now because of expenses for the refugees. The two million newcomers receive enough money to live on plus free healthcare, education, and access to special programs. Some cheat on this, registering in several places under different names and getting multiple benefits. Many Germans resent paying for all this with high taxes while their own standard of living is declining.

The trauma of war and displacement has caused a few refugees to lose their moral compass. They do things here they wouldn't do at home.

Two-thirds of the refugees are young men, some of them convinced Allah has ordained males to dominate females. In their view, women who aren't submissive need to be punished. Since being male is the only power many of them have, they feel threatened by women in positions of power, and they sometimes react with hostility. Over a thousand women have been physically attacked — some murdered and raped and many aggressively grabbed on the breasts as a way of showing dominance. Many more have been abused — insulted, harassed, spat upon.

Many refugees are aware that Germany, as a member of NATO, supports these wars that have forced them to flee their homes. They're not fooled by the rhetoric of "humanitarian intervention." They know NATO's motives are imperialistic: to install governments agreeable to Western control of their resources and markets. Although they are now safe, their relatives and friends are still being killed with weapons made in Germany and oppressed by soldiers and police trained and financed by Germany. Rather than a grateful attitude, some have come with a resentful one.

Crime has increased, especially violent crimes such as knife attacks. Police and others have been killed and wounded by refugees. Organized criminal clans have become established in Germany's lenient legal atmosphere. A few ISIS and al-Qaeda members slipped in with the refugees. They have bombed a Christmas market, attacked synagogues, murdered Jews on the street, recruited new members in mosques.

In the past 75 years Germany has become a peaceful country. The current violence is profoundly disturbing to them. It brings back terrible memories.

The violent refugees, though, are only a small minority. Most of the newcomers have a positive attitude. They are getting a fresh start in life, recovering from trauma, getting an education, learning new skills. They've been introduced to other cultural possibilities.

Women in particular are responding favorably to this new environment. Seeing how women here live, some of them are beginning to free themselves from patriarchal bondage. With help from German feminists they are developing the energy and determination to challenge male rule and change the conditions of their lives. And they'll inspire their sisters back home.

The situation with the Ukrainian refugees is much different. The cultures are similar, so there's less clash. The war hasn't been going on for long, so there are few of them and problems have not yet developed. They are being celebrated as brave heroes standing up to an aggressive Russia intent on dominating Europe. Anti-Russian feelings have been strong in Germany for two centuries, so this propaganda finds ready acceptance. During the Cold War the German government beamed out the constant danger of Russian attack in order to justify the presence of US troops and nuclear weapons on their soil. Now they condemn Putin as the new Hitler. Atrocity stories of Russian troops get enormous coverage, those of Ukrainian troops against separatists in Donbass are ignored. Every small Ukrainian victory is cheered with blood-thirsty enthusiasm. Welcoming these refugees is part of the strategy for maintaining NATO dominance.

But, of course, it is important to take them in, to shelter them from this latest capitalist butchery. Like the Arabs, most of them are fine people, and many will stay and contribute to the society in their new home.

Germany still has anti-foreign, anti-Semitic, right-wing extremists, but since World War Two the West German government has systematically pushed them out of public life. Unfortunately that wasn't true in East Germany. There the Stalinist regime ignored the problem, as did Stalinist governments in the eastern European countries. They didn't want to risk provoking uprisings against their dictatorships. In the former East Germany, which is much smaller than the West, right-wing extremists are a small minority, but a hateful, well-organized, and sometimes violent one. In eastern Europe they are much stronger, sometimes the most powerful political force.

The establishment press in the USA, Britain, and France jump at every opportunity to exaggerate right-wing incidents in Germany in order to divert attention from problems in their own country. The right wing in the USA is much more powerful and dangerous than that in Germany. That's why our resistance to it is so important.


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Dissident Voice
28 May 2022 | 7:13 am

Climate Change Wows the Polls

Australia's federal election May 18th turned left with a new power broker named climate change. Major networks refer to the election as: "Australia's Climate Election," with newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese vowing to turn Australia into a "renewable energy superpower."

The incumbent PM Scott Morrison led the Coalition opposed by the Labor party behind the candidacy of Anthony Albanese. At the end of the day, Labor overwhelmed by capturing the two most significant burning issues: (1) climate change (2) political integrity (What a gorgeous setup for US Dems).

According to NBC News, polling in the lead-up to the election showed that 8 out of 10 Australians wanted significant climate policies from the government. Seventy percent (70%) said climate change was already impacting the country. The environment was the prevailing issue on social media; it captured more interests than the economy or corruption.  1

Analysts claim the public is increasingly demanding climate commitments from leaders in a pronounced shift of political sentiment that could hold lessons for lawmakers in other developed and developing countries. Worldwide climate system failure is too palpable to ignore any longer. It's showing up at the ballot box.

Segueing to America's upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8th:  What if America pivots on the same climate and integrity issues? Who wins? The better question may be: How quickly will Republicans pivot, for political expediency purposes only, to support climate mitigation efforts and thus abandon the fossil fuel gravy train of dark funding? Naw! Won't happen. Instead of abandoning a steady flow of surreptitious green stuff labeled with lots of serial numbers they'll lie about climate change to "confuse the public." That's worked like a charm for decades now. Create doubt. Will it work once again in 2022 and invalidate the great Aussie climate change political reset?

Meanwhile, when it comes to political trends, according to Australian Conservation Foundation's CEO Kelly O'Shanassy: "The trends across the country show a majority of Australians care deeply for bolder climate action and integrity in politics – it is a huge win for the environment, at a time when nature needs us most." 2

CEO O'Shanassy was quick to point out: "Australians were frustrated by the Morrison government's inert response to the urgent climate crisis, its reckless support for a 'gas-led recovery' and its attempts to water down already weak nature protection laws."

Whereas, in stark contrast to the Morrison government, the new government under the leadership of PM Albanese will stress "climate action," It's what Albanese wants as his legacy.

According to The Sydney Post (May 23rd): "Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will seek a new consensus on climate change with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday in a plan to co-operate on clean energy and build support for global climate talks to be hosted in Australia… Albanese used a phone call with Biden on Sunday, when the US president congratulated him on winning the election, to canvass ways Australia and the US could co-operate on clean energy, including gaining US support for the Labor proposal to host a future United Nations climate summit in Australia and the Pacific."

On the heels of the Aussie federal election, in a remarkable coincidence of favorable political circumstances and fortuitous timing, Tokyo is holding the Quad Leaders' Summit with newly elected PM Anthony Albanese and PM Narendra Modi (India), PM Fumio Kishida (Japan) and President Joe Biden.

The White House: "Quad countries share serious concern with the August Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report findings on the latest climate science… Quad countries will focus their efforts on the themes of climate ambition, including working on 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation and deployment."

It is the first time India, Japan, Australia, and the United States have joined hands in concert with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as they agree to tackle a worldwide climate system that's radically off-course for the first time in human history. But, will they succeed… soon enough? That is the sleepless night tossing turning crux of the matter.

One big loser in the Aussie election is Rupert Murdoch, whose powerful media outlets took a brutal whipping as Australians tossed his views aside and sought new sources of information. According to Bill Hare, CEO and senior scientist at Climate Analytics, a prominent think tank, the election demonstrated a transformation across the political spectrum: "We don't have to believe that the Murdoch press controls public opinion."

"The election outcome exposes a gaping disconnect between News Corp and Voters." 3

"Anthony Albanese Defeats Rupert Murdoch to Become 31st PM of Australia." 4

With America's midterms right around the corner, the question arises, how will Fox News score?

According to Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and executive director at the American Press Institute, a non-profit focused on sustainable journalism: "Fox News is a propaganda machine for the far right and Republican Party."5

Similar to Rupert Murdoch's overpowering political clout in Australia, Fox News pounds the American airwaves with whatever "sells best du jour" while fulfilling the deepest suspicions of a rabid core of followers. Will Fox News' far right extremists win in November or will Australian political sentiments sway America's political fabric?

  1. "Australia's 'Climate Election' Shows Shifting Priority For Voters", NBC News, May 23, 2022.
  2. "Australians Have Voted For Bolder Climate Action and Integrity in Politics", Mirage News, May 22, 2022.
  3. The Guardian, May 22nd.
  4. The Independent Australia, May 23rd.
  5. Sean Illing, "How Fox News Evolved into a Propaganda Operation", Vox, March 2019.
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Dissident Voice
28 May 2022 | 2:49 am

Is Corporate Criminal Law Heading for Extinction?

Crimes without criminals was not a subject for study when I was in law school. The two were seen as part of the same illegal package. That was before notorious corporate lawyers and a cash register Congress combined to separate economic, health and safety crimes from corporate accountability, incarceration and deterrence.

Lawlessness is now so rampant that a group of realistic law professors, led by Professor Mihailis E. Diamantis of the University of Iowa Law School, claim there is no corporate criminal law. I say "realistic" because their assertion that corporate criminal law, does not in fact, exist is not widely acknowledged by their peers.

Most Americans know that none of the executives on Wall Street who are responsible for the lies, deception, and phony investments they sold to millions of trusting investors were prosecuted and sent to jail. "They got away with it," was the common refrain during the 2008-2009 meltdown of Wall Street that took our economy down and into a deep recession that resulted in massive job loss and the looting of savings of tens of millions of Americans.

Not only did the Wall Street Barons escape the Sheriff but they got an obedient Congress, White House and Federal Reserve to guarantee trillions of dollars to bail them out, implicitly warning that the big banks, brokerage firms and other giant financial corporations were simply "too big to fail." They had the economy by the throat and taxpayer dollars in their pockets. Moreover, Wall Streeters made out like bandits while people on Main Street suffered.

All this and much more made up a rare symposium organized by Professor Diamantis last year at Georgetown Law School. (See here). He wrote that the "economic impact of corporate crime is at least twenty times greater than all other criminal offenses combined," quoting conservative estimates by the FBI. It's not just economic, he continued: "Scholars, prosecutors and courts increasingly recognize that brand name corporations also commit a broad range of 'street crimes': homicide, arson, drug trafficking, dumping and sex offenses."

The litany of corporate wrongdoing ranges from polluting the air and drinking water, dumping microplastics that end up inside human beings, promoting lethal opioids that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, providing millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent, often by creating false records or misusing customers' identities, (Wells Fargo), manufacturing defective motor vehicles, producing contaminated food, allowing software failures resulting in crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX's with 346 deaths. (See, Why Not Jail? By Rena Steinzor).

People don't need law professors to see what's happening to them and their children. People laugh when they hear politicians solemnly declare that "no one is above the law," extol "the rule of law" and "equal justice under the law."

By far the greatest toll in preventable fatalities and serious injuries in the U.S. flows from either deliberate, negligent or corner-cutting corporate crime under the direct control and management of CEOs and company presidents, many of whom make over $10,000 an hour over a 40-hour week.

Five thousand people a week die in hospitals due to "preventable problems," documents a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study. The EPA estimates some 65,000 deaths a year from air pollution; OSHA has estimated about 60,000 work-related fatalities from diseases and traumas in the workplace. This carnage does not include the far greater numbers of people suffering from illnesses and injuries.

This range of corporate destruction was pointed out thirty-four years ago by Russell Mokhiber in his classic book, Corporate Crime and Violence: Big Business Power and the Abuse of the Public Trust (Sierra Club, 1988).

What are Congress and the White House saying and doing about this growing corporate crime wave? Saying little and doing almost nothing. Corporate criminal law enforcement budgets are ridiculously paltry. The Department of Health and Human Services recovers less than three percent of the estimated $100 billion a year stolen from Medicare and Medicaid.  There are too few cops on the corporate crime beat and the White House and Congress are unwilling to remedy this problem.

Congress doesn't hold broad hearings on corporate crime, except when a dustup gets headlines like the recent contaminated baby formula from the unsanitary Abbott factory in Sturgis, Michigan.

This is remarkable because since January 2021, two of the rare outspoken lawmakers against corporate criminality, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), both are chairs of subcommittees in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There are large gaps to be filled and updated in the inadequate federal corporate criminal law. Some regulatory agencies, such as the FAA (aviation) and NHTSA (auto safety) have no criminal penalty whatsoever for willful and knowing violations that directly result in fatalities.

Then there is the patsy Department of Justice (DOJ). For years we've asked DOJ officials to ask Congress to fund a corporate crime database (like the street crime database). Attorney General Merrick Garland won't even respond to letters about this issue. For years, specialists like Columbia Law professor John Coffee have been urging the DOJ to stop settling the few cases they bring against corporate crooks with weak "deferred prosecution agreements" or "non-prosecution agreements." These deals involve modest fines, no jail time for the corporate bosses and a kind of temporary probation for the corporation.

Corporate attorneys play the DOJ like a harp knowing that the Department has a small budget for prosecuting corporate crime and that many DOJ attorneys are looking for lucrative jobs in these corporate law firms, after a few years of government service. Any one of many giant corporate law firms has more attorneys than all the lawyers working on corporate crime in the Department of Justice.

Professor Diamantis, W. Robert Thomas and their colleagues are prolific writers of law review articles. They argue for a range of effective penalties that will deter recidivism, which is rampant. They probe restructuring the corporate hierarchies of privileges and immunities from the law. They argue for updating the antiquated federal criminal code to match new technological/Internet/artificial intelligence (AI) violations.

Until, however, these scholars can make it into the mainstream media to reach enough citizens and get this "law and order" agenda adopted by candidates campaigning for elective office, the ideas they advance will circulate mostly among themselves indefinitely.

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Dissident Voice
28 May 2022 | 1:43 am

How “virtual crime scenes” became a propaganda tool in Nicaragua, Ukraine and Syria

This article shows how media uses computer modeling and "virtual crime scenes" to assign blame for some extremely important international events. In these examples from Nicaragua, Ukraine and Syria, many people died in complex circumstances. The deaths at the "Mother's March" in Managua, Nicaragua precipitated an attempted coup.  The Maidan Massacre in Kyiv led to an actual coup. The claims of a chemical attack in Douma led to the US, France and the UK bombing Syria.

The three incidents are in different continents but share some key characteristics: each is to some degree emblematic of the conflict of which it is part, cited as an important indicator of who is right and who is wrong. All three violent incidents are controversial, with both "sides" claiming to be right. Creating "virtual crime scenes" is a tool which enables establishment media such as the New York Times, the BBC or (in Spain) El Pais, to convey interpretations of the events which conveniently coincide with the way they are seen by the US government and its allies.

All three events have been described and analyzed elsewhere. Here we describe them briefly and then discuss how the "virtual crime scenes" were developed, what their conclusions were and why they are at best questionable and at worst completely mistaken.

Managua, Nicaragua, 30 May 2018

In April 2018, demonstrations sprang up against Daniel Ortega's government and they quickly turned violent: demonstrators attacked police and vice versa. A "national dialogue" began in early May but, despite this, the violence became worse. Large numbers took part in demonstrations which were mainly peaceful, but with violent outbreaks at the fringes or after most participants had gone home. Large pro- and anti-government marches were planned for Managua on May 30, Mother's Day.  Authorities set the routes to keep them apart. Despite police efforts, at the end of the opposition march, violent groups headed towards the rival demonstration. In the resultant clashes two pro-government marchers and seven anti-government protesters were killed, while 20 police were injured and there were two deaths among bystanders.

Protesters at a Managua roadblock, 30 May 2018 (SITU Research)

Two years after this day of violence, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), through its Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, for its initials in Spanish) published a reconstruction of a "virtual crime scene," focused on the deaths of three protesters. It was produced for the GIEI by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF)  and SITU Research of New York. The "forensic" examination was aimed at finding the likely culprits in the killings, which took place at a roadblock put in place by the protesters, close to Managua's national baseball stadium. A website shows the evidence collected, including two specialist firearms reports, although access to the full video event reconstruction has recently been blocked and only clips are shown. The video acknowledges the lack of conclusive evidence but argues that "circumstantial evidence" overwhelmingly suggests that armed police officers or Sandinista supporters indiscriminately killed the three protesters and others shot dead in related incidents.

A detailed critique of the reconstruction was published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA). This showed fundamental errors and gaps in the SITU/EAAF work. The most important were:

  • A map which is key to the video shows the position of a group of police who were alleged to have fired the fatal shots. But it was incorrectly drawn: it placed them at the center of the zone from which the firearms expert judged the shots to have originated, whereas, in fact, their true location was outside that zone.
  • The firearms expert's judgment that conventional firearms (as well as homemade mortars) were being fired by the protesters was completely ignored.
  • Video evidence that a group of protesters had conventional weapons, and fired them at other protesters, were omitted from the large volume of video material that the investigators collected.
  • The deaths of two government supporters and the wounding by gunshot of 20 police officers were ignored.

These errors and omissions at best left the reconstruction in doubt or at worst completely invalidated it. For example, an equally plausible reason for the deaths could be that they were part of a "return of fire" incident, or even that the protesters may have been shot by other protesters. Nevertheless, for El Pais and for the BBC, the reconstruction proved that the police were the killers.

SITU and EAAF refused to respond to criticisms of their work. The IACHR and its parent body, the Organization of American States, has also ignored the contradictory information and revelations.

Maidan Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, 20 February 2014

On February 20, 2014, 49 protesters and four police were killed at the central square known as Maidan in Kyiv, Ukraine.  Many more were injured. The event led to the overthrow of the elected government and a radical change in national politics and policy. Who was responsible for the mass killings?  Eight years later, there have been no convictions. How could this be, when there were dozens of videos, hundreds of victims and thousands of witnesses to a mass killing in the heart of a European capital?

Western media and the post-coup government blamed the security services of the previous Yanukovich government. Others claim the killings and chaos were organized by the militant opposition using snipers located in adjacent buildings, including the Hotel Ukraina and Arkada Bank.

After the killings and coup, a German news team visited. Their report quotes doctors saying that both police and protesters had been shot by identical bullets. The investigation was ongoing yet the newly appointed state prosecutor, a leader of the ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party, had already declared former President Yanukovich and Berkut police to be responsible.

Despite the state prosecutor's efforts and numerous police being charged and imprisoned, there were no convictions.

In 2018, the New York Times (NYT) published a lengthy story titled "Who Killed the Kiev Protesters? A 3-D Model Holds the Clues". It was accompanied by a video titled "Did Police Kill these protesters? What the videos show." The NYT story reports that Ukrainian prosecutors enlisted the help of SITU Research, who built a replica of the street where protesters were shot, then did 3D modeling of the buildings, location of protesters, police, etc.. They analyzed dozens of actual videos then produced their own video concluding "In all three cases, individual officers can be seen aiming and firing their rifles during the moments leading to the victims' deaths."

The "virtual crime scene" analysis focuses on three individuals killed in the same area. In all three cases, based on bullet wound locations, SITU alleges that the fatal shots were fired from the direction of the police barricade.  An audio analysis, based on the time difference of a shock wave versus firearm discharge, approximates the distance of the shooter.

Looked at casually or superficially, this appears to be compelling evidence.

However, Canadian Professor Ivan Katchanovski has done rigorous research on the Maidan Massacre and reveals that the SITU model misrepresented the location of wounds in all three cases.

Illustration showing incorrect bullet trajectory on Kyiv victim (SITU Research)

1/ In the case of Igor Dmytriv, the wound locations are not level and straight as portrayed by SITU; they are from right to left, with a distinct downward angle. The video shows a hole in his shield near the right edge which also points to his shooting from Arkada Bank to the right, not the police barricade directly in front.  The shield evidence disappeared before the trial.

2/ The wound locations are also misrepresented in the case of Andriy Dyhdalovych. As discovered by Katchanovski, "The 3d model moved the exit wound location from around the middle line of the back of his body in forensic medical and clothing examinations to the right and changed a steep top and bottom direction and 17 cm difference in height." SITU misrepresented the wounds to match up with the direction of the police barricade. The actual wound locations point to the killer also being in the upper floors of the Arkada Bank.

3/ The third victim was Yuri Parashchuk: his wounds were also misrepresented. He was killed by a bullet to the back of his head. "The single bullet in the back right helmet area, and exit wounds in the back left area of his head (parietal region) in forensic examination mean that it was physically impossible to shoot him from the police barricade, contrary to the SITU model," Katchanovski argues. The victim's wife confirmed the gunshot wound locations.

The NYT story falsely characterized any critics as "pro-Russia sources" and "Kremlin-funded media."  University of Ottawa Professor Katchanovski has presented his findings to high interest before numerous academic conferences.

In addition to misrepresenting the body wounds, the "virtual crime scene" analysis ignores a crucial question:  Who would have a motive to kill both protesters and police?

Douma, Syria, 7 April 2018

On 7 April 2018 there were sensational claims of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria. Social media lit up with a video showing dead and living victims plus a chaotic scene in a medical clinic. The "White Helmets" claimed these were victims of a chemical attack by the Syrian military. Western media and governments quickly endorsed this accusation. The Syrian government denied it and called for a factual investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Without waiting for an inspection, the US declared, "The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable." One week later, the US, UK and France launched air attacks on Damascus.

In late April, OPCW inspectors visited the site of the incident, interviewed witnesses, took photos and collected evidence.

While the OPCW team were making their analysis, the NYT created a reconstruction of the event, using photos, videos and computer modeling. The "visual investigation" was presented in a 12-minute video, "One Building, One Bomb: How Assad Gassed His Own People". With seven producers, three editors and the collaboration of a private agency called  "Forensic Architecture", this was clearly a major and costly effort. It is a third example of how smooth video, computer modeling and professional voice-overs can lend an air of authority, whether true or not.

On 25 June 2018, just ten weeks after the event, the NYT published "How We Created a Virtual Crime Scene to Investigate Syria's Chemical Attack," They say, "Our investigation found that the Syrian government dropped a chlorine bomb on this apartment in Syria." For western politicians and media, that was the end of the matter: Syria had been found guilty and the western attacks vindicated.

OPCW issued an interim report in July 2018 and full report in March 2019. They concluded there was evidence of reactive chlorine and there are "reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place."

The governments which had attacked Syria claimed this was "proof" of guilt.  The UK foreign ministry said the report provided "reasonable grounds to conclude that a toxic chemical was used as a weapon."  The NYT concluded that the OPCW had given "the most definitive finding yet to corroborate allegations that chemical weapons were dropped on the town, Douma, a suburb of Damascus, killing 43 people." The Guardian similarly reported "Chlorine was used in attack on Syrian rebel town, watchdog says."

Behind the scenes, OPCW staff were in turmoil. Investigators were complaining the investigation report was politically influenced and biased.

In May 2019, the "Engineering Assessment of Two Cylinders Observed at the Douma Incident" was published by an academic coalition. It was written by a lead engineer on the OPCW's Douma team, Ian Henderson. It contradicted the official narrative and concluded that "there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft." It gives detailed evidence to support this argument – evidence that should have been included in the original OPCW report.

The OPCW fired Ian Henderson and made efforts to remove all evidence of his engineering report from the OPCW archives.

Then in October 2019 a second OPCW whistle-blower emerged, giving more details of the report's omissions. In a detailed interview, he told a British journalist that "Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent." He added that they had tried all possible internal channels before going public.

Because of the importance of these revelations about a biased and compromised OPCW investigation, an international panel was convened. It included experts from international law, military, intelligence agencies and the founding Director General of the OPCW. It expressed "alarm" at the "unacceptable practices" in the Douma investigation.

The scandal exposed the political manipulation of a crucial international organization, the OPCW.

The "virtual crime scene" and evidence presented by the NYT was shown to be fundamentally flawed. The on-site engineering assessment revealed that cylinder deformation did not match the hole in the roof or what would have occurred if the cylinder was dropped from an aircraft. The "criss-cross" pattern on the cylinder that the NYT "virtual crime scene" suggested was evidence, was dismissed as "inconsistent with the vertical, or near-vertical, angle of incidence of the cylinder". The lead investigator concluded that it was more likely the cylinders were "manually placed". In other words, the incident was staged.

Regarding the claim that "reactive chlorine" had been found in samples from the site, it was learned that these were trace levels that could be found in any location.

After publishing headline stories such as "How Assad Gassed His Own People" and creating a costly contrived "virtual crime scene" to "prove" Syria's guilt, it is understandable that the NYT would be embarrassed at the revelations from these OPCW whistle-blowers.  If the NYT were as factual as they claim to be, they would report these important stories and issue a correction and apology for their earlier false reports. Instead, there has been total silence.

Supposed victim of April 2018 CW attack in Douma, during and after  (RT)

Conclusion: What credibility should we give to "virtual crime scenes"?

Creating "virtual crime scenes" is clearly a growing business: SITU appears to have done at least 24 such reconstructions, while Forensic Architecture has well over 70, dating back more than a decade. A common factor is funding sources: as well as what are presumed to be specific contracts (for example, with the NYT), both organizations receive funds from the Open Society Foundation, Oak Foundation, European Research Council and similar bodies aligned with conventional western political attitudes.

No doubt some of this work is in the public good (for example, SITU says it is helping a group of children sue the US government for its inaction on the climate crisis). But the case studies above show that such work can – whether intentionally or otherwise – push public opinion on controversial issues in a particular direction.

Brad Samuels, founding partner of SITU, appeared to acknowledge this ambiguity in an interview quoted here: "…it's about not allowing these narratives to become the reason that there's no accountability … so that you can focus on what you do know and I just — I think that that's at play in all kinds of ways more than it ever has been … this question of competing narratives, truth claims and facts and that's really what we're, this work is about."

In an article about the use of virtual crime scenes in legal cases, Sarah Zarmsky concedes that they can be "extremely compelling" but that "any political motives or biases must be taken into account." In the Maidan Square example, which she examines, she points out that the reconstruction was presented as "flawless" whereas Katchanovski later accused those who created it of misrepresentation. Virtual crime scenes are expensive, sophisticated exercises, which once published are left open to interpretation by people who have no expertise in how they are created, she points out. Where witness statements, amateur videos and other material are used to build reconstructions, there is no outside control of the process.  She concludes that "digital reconstructions need to be approached with caution and analyzed through a critical eye."

Our conclusion is more definitive: digital reconstructions, especially in high-profile and controversial circumstances like the three examples presented here, are being used to serve political purposes. Their sophisticated and compelling approaches, obviously requiring considerable resources in their production and presentation, can be highly misleading. Whether or not this is the intention of those devising these virtual crime scenes, their work is used to add momentum to political arguments. In the cases examined here – Nicaragua, Ukraine and Syria – they have been explicitly used to endorse the US and European governments' political narratives about those conflicts, creating apparent "proof" of one side's culpability in violent incidents. However, objective analysis of the kind summarized in this article shows that digital reconstructions can hide the truth rather than reveal it. In Zarmsky's words, "seeing should not always be believing."

The post How "virtual crime scenes" became a propaganda tool in Nicaragua, Ukraine and Syria first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
26 May 2022 | 11:23 pm

And Then There Was No More Empire All of a Sudden

Bisa Butler (USA), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 2019.

Empire denies its own existence. It does not exist as an empire but only as benevolence, with its mission to spread human rights and sustainable development across the world. However, that perspective means nothing in Havana nor in Caracas, where 'human rights' has come to mean regime change, and where 'sustainable development' has come to mean the throttling of their people through sanctions and blockades. It is from the standpoint of the victims of empire that clarity comes.

US President Joe Biden is to host the Summit of the Americas in June, where he hopes to deepen Washington's hegemony over the Americas. The United States government understands that its project of hegemony faces an existential crisis caused by the weaknesses of the US political system and the US economy, with limited funds available for investment within its own country, let alone for the rest of the world. At the same time, US hegemony faces a serious challenge from China, whose Belt and Road Initiative has been seen in large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund's austerity agenda. Rather than work alongside Chinese investments, the US is eager to use any means to prevent China from engaging with countries in the Americas. Along this axis, the US has revitalised the Monroe Doctrine. This policy, which will be two centuries old next year, claims that the Americas are the dominion of the United States, its 'sphere of influence', and its 'backyard' (although Biden has tried to be cute by calling the region the US's 'front yard').

Along with the International Peoples' Assembly, we have developed a red alert on two instruments of US power – the Organisation of American States and the Summit of the Americas – as well as the challenge that the US faces as it tries to impose its hegemony in the region. The red alert is featured below and is available here as a PDF. Please read it, discuss it, and share it.

What is the Organisation of American States?

The Organisation of American States (OAS) was formed in Bogotá, Colombia in 1948 by the United States and its allies. Though the OAS Charter invokes the rhetoric of multilateralism and cooperation, the organisation has been used as a tool to fight against communism in the hemisphere and to impose a US agenda on the countries of the Americas. Roughly half of the funds for the OAS and 80 percent of the funds for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous organ of the OAS, come from the US. It is worth noting that – despite providing the majority of its budget – the US has not ratified any of the IACHR's treaties.

The OAS showed its true colours after the Cuban Revolution (1959). In 1962, at a meeting in Punta del Este (Uruguay), Cuba – a founding member of the OAS – was expelled from the organisation. The declaration from the meeting stated that 'the principles of communism are incompatible with the principles of the inter-American system'. In response, Fidel Castro called the OAS the 'US Ministry of Colonies'.

The OAS set up the Special Consultative Committee on Security Against the Subversive Action of International Communism in 1962, with the purpose of allowing the elites in the Americas – led by the US – to use every means possible against popular movements of the working class and peasantry. The OAS has afforded diplomatic and political cover to the US's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as it has participated in the overthrow of governments that attempt to exercise their legitimate sovereignty – sovereignty that the OAS Charter purports to guarantee. This exercise has gone all the way from the OAS's expulsion of Cuba in 1962 to the orchestration of coups in Honduras (2009) and Bolivia (2019) to the repeated attempts to overthrow the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela and ongoing interference in Haiti.

Since 1962, the OAS has openly acted alongside the US government to sanction countries without a United Nations Security Council resolution, which makes these sanctions illegal. It has, therefore, regularly violated the 'principle of non-interference' in its own charter, which prohibits 'armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements' (chapter 1, article 2, section b and chapter IV, article 19).

Diego Rivera (Mexico), Liberación del Peón ('Liberation of the peon'), 1931.

What is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)?

Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chávez, initiated a process in the early 2000s to build new regional institutions outside of US control. Three major platforms were built in this period: 1) the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004; 2) the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2004; and 3) the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2010. These platforms established inter-governmental connections across the Americas, including summits on matters of regional importance and technical institutions to enhance trade and cultural interactions across borders. Each of these platforms have faced threats from the United States. As governments in the region oscillate politically, their commitment to these platforms has either increased (the more left they have been) or decreased (the more subordinate they have been to the United States).

At the 6th Summit of CELAC in Mexico City in 2021, Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested that the OAS be disbanded and that CELAC help to build a multilateral organisation at the scale of the European Union to resolve regional conflicts, build trade partnerships, and promote the unity of the Americas.

Tessa Mars (Haiti), Untitled, Praying for the visa series, 2019.

What is the Summit of the Americas?

With the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the United States attempted to dominate the world by using its military power to discipline any state that did not accept its hegemony (as in Panama, 1989 and Iraq, 1991) and by institutionalising its economic power through the World Trade Organisation, set up in 1994. The US called the OAS member states to Miami for the first Summit of the Americas in 1994, which was subsequently handed over to the OAS to manage. The summit has convened every few years since to 'discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level'.

Despite its stronghold over the OAS, the US has never been able fully to impose its agenda at these summits. At the third summit in Quebec City (2001) and the fourth summit in Mar del Plata (2005), popular movements held large counter-protests; at Mar del Plata, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez led a massive demonstration, which resulted in the collapse of the US-imposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement. The fifth and sixth summits at Port of Spain (2009) and Cartagena (2012) became a battlefield for the debate over the US blockade on Cuba and its expulsion from the OAS. Due to immense pressure from the member states of the OAS, Cuba was invited to the seventh and eighth summits in Panama City (2015) and Lima (2018), against the wishes of the United States.

However, the United States has not invited Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to the upcoming ninth summit to be held in Los Angeles in June 2022. Several countries – including Bolivia and Mexico – have said that they will not attend the meeting unless all thirty-five countries in the Americas are in attendance. From 8–10 June, a range of progressive organisations will hold a People's Summit to counter the OAS summit and to amplify the voices of all the peoples of the Americas.

Rufino Tamayo (Mexico), Animals, 1941.

In 2010, the poet Derek Walcott (1930–2017) published 'The Lost Empire', a celebration of the Caribbean and of his own island, Saint Lucia, in particular as British imperialism retreated. Walcott grew up with the economic and cultural suffocation imposed by colonialism, the ugliness of being made to feel inferior, and the wretchedness of the poverty that came alongside it. Years later, reflecting on the jubilation of the retreat of British rule, Walcott wrote:

And then there was no more Empire all of a sudden.
Its victories were air, its dominions dirt:
Burma, Canada, Egypt, Africa, India, the Sudan.
The map that had seeped its stain on a schoolboy's shirt
like red ink on a blotter, battles, long sieges.
Dhows and feluccas, hill stations, outposts, flags
fluttering down in the dusk, their golden aegis
went out with the sun, the last gleam on a great crag,
With tiger-eyed turbaned Sikhs, pennons of the Raj
to a sobbing bugle.

The sun is setting on imperialism as we emerge slowly and delicately into a world that seeks meaningful equality rather than subordination. 'This small place', Walcott writes of Saint Lucia, 'produces nothing but beauty'. That would be true of the entire world if we could get beyond our long, modern history of battles and sieges, warships, and nuclear weapons.

The post And Then There Was No More Empire All of a Sudden first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
26 May 2022 | 12:15 pm

Watch Me as I “Follow the Science”

A list of specious scientific achievements (sic) would be long enough to warrant a ten-part Netflix series. It includes, for example, the Tuskegee Study, mercury fillings, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), veal crates, electroshock therapy, napalm, mustard gas, automatic weapons, sonic weaponry, directed energy weapons, weapons in general, surgical experiments (without anesthesia) on slaves, deforestation, Vioxx, DDT, eugenics, GMOs, fossil fuels, the Milgram experiments, factory farming, the medicalization of the birthing process, vivisection, mountaintop mining, MK ULTRA, conversion therapy, forced sterilizations, pre-frontal lobotomies, waterboarding, deep-sea bottom trawling, Accutane, land mines, and the electric chair— to name but a few of the innumerable options.

And I haven't yet mentioned television, cellphones, automobiles (and automobile culture), the Internet, social media, and artificial intelligence!

If you've fallen in love with scientists, by all means, please allow me to introduce you to Chester M. Southam. In 1952, he injected unknowing inmates at the Ohio State Prison with live cancer cells. Eleven years later, he did the same to 22 elderly patients at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn. Why would a man of science do such a thing? Simple, he wanted to "discover the secret of how healthy bodies fight the invasion of malignant cells." Despite a cover-up, Southam's atrocities were exposed and he was given the harsh punishment of (wait for it) one-year probation. By the late 1960s, the American Cancer Society elected him their vice president.

The because-science hive mind should also be enamored with University of Iowa researchers Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor — creators of what is now known as the "Monster Study." In 1939, Johnson and Tudor conducted an experiment on 22 orphan children. One group was given positive speech therapy. The others got negative speech therapy. Using science as their guide, the researchers left the negative group with speech problems they retained for the rest of their lives.

Who doesn't appreciate the doubly dubious intersection of science and the military? A fine example occurred in 1956 and 1957 when the U.S. Army released millions of infected mosquitos into the cities of Savannah, Georgia, and Avon Park, Florida. Their "scientific" goal was to see if the insects would spread dengue fever and yellow fever — and what a success! Hundreds of unknowing civilians presented with symptoms like respiratory problems, stillbirths, fevers, encephalitis, typhoid, and death.

And, if science is your fetish, you'll certainly love what researchers at Harvard University did in the late 1940s. They tested diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen, on pregnant women — without their knowledge — at the Lying-In Hospital of the University of Chicago. This scientific wizardry resulted in an abnormally high number of miscarriages and babies with low birth weight. But, hey, to question the white lab coats responsible would be tantamount to ignorance, right?

I can already hear all the knee-jerk complaints about how I'm conveniently ignoring the myriad benefits of science. Let's be clear: You don't need me or anyone else to laud scientific accomplishments. That already happens, 24/7, across all forms of media, in textbooks, and in everyday conversation.

What we do need is some context and balance — before it's too late.

The post Watch Me as I "Follow the Science" first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
26 May 2022 | 4:58 am

The Economy of Tolerable Massacres: The Uvalde Shootings

Societies generate their own economies of tolerable cruelties and injustices.  Poverty, for instance, will be allowed, as long a sufficient number of individuals are profiting.  To an extent, crime and violence can be allowed to thrive.  In the United States, the economy of tolerable massacres, executed by military grade weapons, is considerable and seemingly resilient.  Its participants all partake in administering it, playing their bleak roles under the sacred banner of constitutional freedom and psychobabble.

Just as prison reform tends to keep pace with the expansion of the bloated system, the gun argument in the US keeps pace, barely, with each massacre.  With each round of killings, a script is activated: initial horror, hot tears of indignation of never again, and then, the stalemate on reform till the next round of killings can be duly accommodated. "It isn't enough to reiterate the plain truth that the assault weapons used in mass shootings must be banned and confiscated," observes Benjamin Kunkel.  "Instead, every fresh atrocity must be recruited into everyone's preferred single-factor sociological narrative."

In Uvalde, Texas, a teenage gunman (they do get younger) made his way into an elementary school and delivered an unforgettable May 24 lesson.  When he had finished at Robb Elementary School, 19 children and 2 adults had perished.  But even this effort, in the premier league ranking of school killings, failed to top the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.  On that occasion, 26 lost their lives.

The horror and indignant tears were duly cued.  President of the United States, Joe Biden: "Why are we willing to live with this carnage?  Why do we keep letting this happen?" he rhetorically intoned at a press conference.  "For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act."  This would involve the passing of "common sense gun laws" and combating the gun lobby.

The next day, Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the formula.  "We must work together to create an America where everyone feels safe in their community, where children feel safe in their schools."

The politicians are duly accompanied by the talking heads, such as Ron Avi Astor, described by NPR as "a mass shooting expert".  With this unsavoury appellation, we are told that this UCLA professor is puzzled as to why negligible changes to gun laws have taken place since Sandy Hook.  In coping with such puzzlement, he suggests an old academic trick: reframe the problem to lessen its gravity.

With some gusto, Astor proceeds to say that schools in the US have been doing fabulously well in coping with violence – as long as you take the long view. "If you look over the last 20 years, really since Columbine, there's been a massive, massive, massive … decrease in victimization and violence in schools."  Diving into the silver lining in his own massive way, he finds "reductions" in violence in the order of 50 to 70 percent.

It never takes long for the economy of tolerable massacres to generate the next round of scrappy arguments, with the corpses barely cold.  The common one is that of shooting frequency.  Was this a good year relative to the last?  This year, the United States has suffered 27.

Since 2018, Education Week, showing how school deaths should very much feature in planning curricula, has taken a grim interest in the whole matter.  Reading its compiled figures – "heartbreaking, but important work", the journal claims – is much like dipping into stock market returns with the requisite amount of sensitivity.  In 2021, there were 34 school shootings, a real bumper year.  In 2020, it was poor on that front: a modest 10.  Both 2019 and 2018 saw higher returns: 24 each.

If you wish to be entertained by the ghoulish nature of it all, Education Week also gives us some infotainment with a graphic on "Where the Shootings Happened."  Dots feature on a map of the country.  "The size of the dots correlates to the number of people killed or injured.  Click on each dot for more information."  Where would we be but for such valuable services?

To give credence to the seemingly immutable nature of this economy on shootings, platoons of commentators, equipped with various skills, argue about responses, most showing that common sense, in this field, is a noble dream.  The conservative National Review takes the view that "tougher background checks" would hardly have worked for the Uvalde shooter.  There was no paper trail flagging him as a threat, nothing to suggest that he should have been prevented as a "legal adult from purchasing a firearm."  The implicit suggestion here: only nutters kill.

The business of guns is the business of a particular American sensibility.  With the school shooting still fresh, various members of the GOP and Donald Trump affirmed their interest in appearing at a Memorial Day weekend event hosted by the National Rifle Association.  In a statement on the shootings, the NRA expressed its "deepest sympathies" for the families and victims of "this horrific and evil crime" but preferred to describe the killings as the responsibility "of a lone, deranged criminal."  Leave gun regulation alone; focus on school security instead.

With that brief formality discharged, the NRA expressed its delight at its forthcoming Annual Meetings and Exhibits event to take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston between May 27 and May 29.  "The Exhibit Hall is open all three days and will showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the Industry."  It promises to be fun for the whole family.

Then comes the thorny matter of definitions, a sure way to kill off any sensible action.  From boffin to reactionary, no one can quite accept what a "school shooting" is.  Non-profit outfits such as the New York-based Everytown for Gun Safety include any discharge of a firearm at school as part of the definition.  "In 2022," the organisation claims, "there were at least 77 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 14 deaths and 45 injuries nationally."

Everytown for Gun Safety is keen to paint a picture of annual murderous rampage: 3,500 children and teens being shot and killed; 15,000 shot and injured.  Some 3 million children in the US are exposed to shootings each year.

The tone underlying such a message is much at odds with the rest easy approach taken by Astor – what Australians would call the "she'll be right, mate" caste of mind.  It is certainly Panglossian in nature, aligning with the views of cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, optimist extraordinaire on the human condition.  Taken holistically, he keeps insisting, we live in far better, less violent times than our forebears.  Such massacres as those at Sandy Hook should not be taken to mean that schools have become less safe.  "People always think that violence has increased because they reason from memorable examples rather than global data."  For Pinker, the 2013 joint survey by the Departments of Justice and Education on such statistics as rates of victimisation since 1992 to non-fatal victimisations was sufficient rebuke against the pessimists and moaners.

The Uvalde massacre will, in time, be absorbed by this economy of tolerable violence.  The anger will dissipate; collective amnesia, if not simple indifference, will exert its dulling sleep.  The dead, except for the personally affected, will go the way of others, buried in the confetti and scrapings of statistics.

The post The Economy of Tolerable Massacres: The Uvalde Shootings first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
26 May 2022 | 4:32 am

Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda

The Nakba is back on the Palestinian agenda.

For nearly three decades, Palestinians were told that the Nakba – or Catastrophe – is a thing of the past. That real peace requires compromises and sacrifices; therefore, the original sin that has led to the destruction of their historic homeland should be entirely removed from any 'pragmatic' political discourse. They were urged to move on.

The consequences of that shift in narrative were dire. Disowning the Nakba, the single most important event that shaped modern Palestinian history, has resulted in more than political division between the so-called radicals and the supposedly peace-loving pragmatists, the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. It also divided Palestinian communities in Palestine and across the world around political, ideological and class lines.

Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, it became clear that the Palestinian struggle for freedom was being entirely redefined and reframed. It was no longer a Palestinian fight against Zionism and Israeli settler colonialism that goes back to the start of the 20th century, but a 'conflict' between two equal parties, with equally legitimate territorial claims that can only be resolved through 'painful concessions'.

The first of such concessions was relegating the core issue of the 'Right of Return' for Palestinian refugees who were driven out of their villages and cities in 1947-48. That Palestinian Nakba paved the way for Israel's 'independence', which was declared atop the rubble and smoke of nearly 500 destroyed and burnt Palestinian villages and towns.

At the start of the 'peace process', Israel was asked to honor the Right of Return for Palestinians, although symbolically. Israel refused. Palestinians were then pushed to relegate that fundamental issue to a 'final status negotiations', which never took place. This meant that millions of Palestinian refugees – many of whom are still living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as the occupied Palestinian territories – were dropped from the political conversation altogether.

If it were not for the continued social and cultural activities of the refugees themselves, insisting on their rights and teaching their children to do the same, such terms as the Nakba and Right of Return would have been completely dropped out of the Palestinian political lexicon.

While some Palestinians rejected the marginalization of the refugees, insisting that the subject is a political not merely a humanitarian one, others were willing to move on as if this right was of no consequence. Various Palestinian officials affiliated with the now defunct 'peace process' have made it clear that the Right of Return was no longer a Palestinian priority. But none came even close to the way that PA President Abbas, himself, framed the Palestinian position in a 2012 interview with Israeli Channel 2.

"Palestine now for me is the '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am [a] refugee, but I am living in Ramallah," he said.

Abbas had it completely wrong, of course. Whether he wished to exercise his right of return or not, that right, according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, is simply "inalienable", meaning that neither Israel, nor the Palestinians themselves, can deny or forfeit it.

Let alone the lack of intellectual integrity of separating the tragic reality of the present from its main root cause, Abbas lacked political wisdom as well. With his 'peace process' floundering, and with the lack of any tangible political solution, he simply decided to abandon millions of refugees, denying them the very hope of having their homes, land or dignity restored.

Since then, Israel, along with the United States, has fought Palestinians on two different fronts: one, through denying them any political horizon and, the other, by attempting to dismantle their historically enshrined rights, mainly their Right of Return. Washington's war on the Palestinian refugees' agency, UNRWA, falls under the latter category as the aim was – and remains – the destruction of the very legal and humanitarian infrastructures that allow Palestinian refugees to see themselves as a collective of people seeking repatriation, reparations and justice.

Yet, all such efforts continue to fail. Far more important than Abbas' personal concessions to Israel, UNRWA's ever-shrinking budget or the failure of the international community to restore Palestinian rights, is the fact that the Palestinian people are, once again, unifying around the Nakba anniversary, thus insisting on the Right of Return for the seven million refugees in Palestine and the shattat – Diaspora.

Ironically, it was Israel that has unwittingly re-unified Palestinians around the Nakba. By refusing to concede an inch of Palestine, let alone allow Palestinians to claim any victory, a State of their own – demilitarized or otherwise – or allow a single refugee to go home, Palestinians were forced to abandon Oslo and its numerous illusions. The once popular argument that the Right of Return was simply 'impractical' no longer matters, neither to ordinary Palestinians nor to their intellectual or political elites.

In political logic, for something to be impossible, an alternative would have to be attainable. However, with Palestinian reality worsening under the deepening system of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, Palestinians now understand that they have no possible alternative but their unity, their resistance and the return to the fundamentals of their struggle. The Unity Intifada of last May was a culmination of this new realization. Moreover, the Nakba anniversary commemoration rallies and events throughout historic Palestine and the world on May 15 have further helped crystallize the new discourse that the Nakba is no longer symbolic and the Right of Return is the collective, core demand of most Palestinians.

Israel is now an apartheid state in the real meaning of the word. Israeli apartheid, like any such system of racial separation, aims at protecting the gains of nearly 74 years of unhinged colonialism, land theft and military dominance. Palestinians, whether in Haifa, Gaza or Jerusalem, now fully understand this, and are increasingly fighting back as one nation.

And since the Nakba and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinian refugees are the common denominator behind all Palestinian suffering, the term and its underpinnings are back at center stage of any meaningful conversation on Palestine, as should have always been the case.

The post Right of Return, Nakba Are Back on Palestinian Agenda first appeared on Dissident Voice.
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