Saturday, September 17, 2011


Where is Palestine in the Israeli social protest movement.  Nowhere, unfortunately.  And there is the thing.  You can't have a protest movement in Israel and ignore the central feature of the zionist crisis.  Not really.  Or maybe, really.  The argument made by some on the left to bring up Palestine now would simply divide the movement is like saying we'll talk about the civil war in the U.S. but let's not discuss slavery.  It's like saying we'll have an anti-nazi movement but don't anyone say "Jew."  It's absurd.  It's wrong. It demonstrates the total depth of the crisis when you make a whole People invisible.

The following is from CounterCurrents.

In Tel Aviv, An Arab Spring That Ignores The Arabs
By Greg Burris
17 September 2011
The Electronic Intifada
No one could have ever predicted that a single act of protest — the self-immolation of a desperate Tunisian street vendor — would unleash a tidal wave of collective resistance and rebellionthroughout North Africa and the Middle East, threatening to topple regimes that had long been considered permanent political players.
But perhaps the most surprising outcome of this regional groundswell of protest was to be seen in Israel where Jewish protesters held up placards and shouted slogans declaring that the revolutionary spirit of Cairo’s Tahrir Square had come to the streets of Tel Aviv. The Arab Spring, it seems, has turned into the Israeli Summer.
But how do the ongoing protests in Tel Aviv relate to the larger regional turmoil? What do the protests say about the current state of Zionism, and what do they mean for the occupation of Palestine? To answer these questions, one might begin by turning to a rather unexpected source: Israeli pop culture.
Zionism escapes unscathed
In 1984, Israeli rock musician Shalom Hanoch released his bestselling album Waiting for Messiah. Located squarely within the rock tradition of protest, the album was graced by an audacious piece of cover art: an extreme close-up of a filthy ashtray, overflowing with garbage and cigarette butts. It is as appropriate a metaphor as any for the true poverty that resides at the heart of the good life, for the grime undergirding the glamorous.
Further solidifying the album’s protest credentials is its title track which tells the tale of the fabled Jewish Messiah, who at long last arrives on earth. But his appearance in the world does not come as a happy occasion. Upon seeing the sad state of affairs that greets him in modern-day Israel, the intrepid, young Messiah does not fulfill any prophetic dreams. Instead, he throws himself from a rooftop, committing suicide on the pavement of a Tel Aviv street. “The Messiah is not coming,” Hanoch intones, his raspy voice accentuating the guttural sounds of Hebrew. “The Messiah is not even going to phone.”
But is the message of Waiting for Messiah really all that radical? Before embracing the song as a musical manifesto of leftist rebellion and revolt, one should delve a bit deeper. The lyrics suggest that the grievances leading to the Messiah’s suicidal plunge are entirely economic. Specifically cited is the mishandling of the Israeli stock market. One may thus surmise that the Messiah too was an unlucky investor.
Absent entirely from this picture are the Palestinians. They are relegated to the shadows — marginalized, obscured and forgotten. Thus, an image of protest is cultivated even if the thing that clearly demands the most protest — the ethnocentric Zionist state and its accompanying occupation of the Palestinian people — is not mentioned at all. It is as though everything can be criticized except for precisely that which matters most. In this fashion, protest — even that of an angry rock anthem — functions to perpetuate the very status quo it purports to be against. At the end of the day, Zionism escapes unscathed.
Revolt against neoliberalism
The recent protests that have erupted in Israel should be understood in the exact same fashion. Stationed in a makeshift tent city on Tel Aviv’s swanky Rothschild Boulevard, the protesters’ demands are strikingly similar to those voiced by their Arab neighbors: affordable housing, cheaper food and gasoline, higher wages and an end to the deterioration of the country’s health and education systems.
According to prominent Middle East labor historian Joel Beinin, “The Arab awakening is in part a rebellion against the neoliberal development model, even if it is rarely named. The housing crisis in Israel is similarly a symptom of neoliberal policies” (“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Arab Awakening,” Middle East Report Online, 1 August 2011). But while these economic problems have been exacerbated by Israel’s costly military occupation of Palestine and the government subsidization of illegal settler communities in the West Bank, the overwhelming tendency is to ignore these inconvenient facts and instead to treat the occupation as an entirely unrelated subject, as a “security issue” with no bearing on the protests whatsoever.
Thus, even though Hanoch’s album was released in 1984, it could have been recorded yesterday. Had its titular Messiah postponed his arrival on earth by 27 years and appeared in the hot Israeli summer of 2011, he would have still taken that rooftop dive and splattered his body on the streets below. Once again, the problem is the economy, and once again, the Palestinians are left completely out of view.
There are those who claim that addressing the Israeli occupation at this time would serve only to divide the protesters. Uri Avnery, for instance, has argued that even “bringing up the occupation would provide [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu with an easy weapon, split the tent-dwellers and derail the protests.” Avnery, who is a longtime fixture on the Israeli left, concludes that there is “no need to push the protesters” in this direction and that with patience, the protests will eventually turn against the occupation on their own, as if by magic (“How godly are thy tents? Who are these people? Where will they go from here?,” Counterpunch, 5 August 2011).
This view is not uncommon. However, the desire to delink the call for social justice from the occupation and to simply hope for the best is ill-conceived. The view that the unity of the protests must be maintained at all costs overlooks the crucial fact that a protest in Israel that does not also address the occupation is really no protest at all.
On Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, the middle class demonstrators are thus attempting to wage an Arab Spring without any Arabs. While the tent city protest has been unusual in its size and in the wide degree of support it has received throughout the country, the urge behind it does not constitute a real challenge to the Israeli state. The protests represent a reaction against the economic injustices exacerbated by the Israeli government’s neoliberal policies, and as such, the broader framework of Zionism is entirely capable of absorbing the protesters’ demands.
Settlers embraced
Indeed, what is the Rothschild Boulevard rebellion but the latest manifestation of an old, Zionist dream? Like the pioneering Zionist settlers before them, the protesters today envision the creation of a welfare state in the land of milk and honey, where life is affordable, food is plentiful and the country’s rightful inhabitants, the Palestinians, are excluded from the discussion. They simply seem not to exist. The protesters do not want to disavow the Zionist dream; to the contrary, they want to implement it.
But a dream for the early Zionists was a living nightmare for the local Palestinians. When freedom for one people is achieved with the occupation of another, there is nothing to be celebrated. The Rothschild Boulevard rebellion departs in no way from this precedent. Without addressing the occupation, the protesters’ demands, at the very best, aim only to make life better for the occupiers, and the welcomed inclusion of members from the Ariel mega-settlement in the revolt, as reported by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana, should serve here as a grim warning (“How could the largest social movement in Israel’s history manage to ignore the country’s biggest moral disaster?”, Alternet, 24 August 2011) . It is the occupiers who stand to receive better health care, better education, higher wages, more affordable housing and all around better living conditions, and those living under the occupation receive nothing.
Conservative agenda
Thus, in this case, protest is not at all that radical. Like Hanoch’s earlier rock anthem, the image of radical protest conceals a rather conservative agenda. That is, protest functions within the predetermined parameters of the dominant social order. Rather than posing a threat to the Israeli state, the protests aim only to make life better for its Jewish citizens. They seek to improve the Zionist dream of building a social welfare state in a Palestine without Palestinians. What is really needed is for that dream and its accompanying system of apartheid to be dismantled entirely.
Thus, the various left-leaning supporters of the Rothschild Boulevard rebellion who defend the exclusion of the Palestinian issue in the name of Israeli unity have it all wrong. Unity does not mean coming together with occupation supporters and land-usurping settlers. Rather, real unity would mean crossing that much tabooed Jewish-Arab, Israeli-Palestinian divide. It would mean that the exclusive, ethnocentric dream of Zionism would have to be replaced by a democratic dream without segregation and apartheid. Economic justice predicated on ethnocentric exclusion is hardly a dream worth fighting for. When those Jewish Israeli citizens consigned to the bottom rungs of their government’s ladder of exploitation are ready to recognize that their true enemy is the same as the one terrorizing the occupied Palestinian people, then and only then will there be a unity in protest worth celebrating.
Greg Burris is a former instructor at Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey and a current graduate student in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Rep. Jesse Jackson wants to know what in the hellis going on in Libya and what in the hell happened to Black Libyans in the city of Tawergha.  By now, you know of the racist attacks and lynching which continue on unabated in the NATO occupied "Free Libya."  With the news that a whole freaking town of folks is missing surely something will be done.  Don't hold hour breath.  The amazing thing is that only the Wall Street Journal, of all the corporate media, seems to be even on to the horror that is unfolding while Libyan "rebel" leaders declare it is nobodies business.  Meanwhile, American's first African American President stands mute.

This from the San Francisco Bay View.

Libya: Tawergha, city of Blacks, depopulated – Rep. Jesse Jackson calls for investigation of ‘crimes against humanity’

by Milton Allimadi

According to, the Black town of “Tawergha has been taken by rebel forces from Misrata, (who) have long threatened to wipe Tawergha off the map, ethnically cleansing its inhabitants.” The Wall Street Journal reports: “Ibrahim al-Halbous, a rebel commander leading the fight near Tawergha, says all remaining residents should leave once his fighters capture the town. ‘They should pack up,’ Mr. Halbous said. ‘Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.’”
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., reacting to reports in The Wall Street Journal, has called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the reported killings of Black Libyans in the city of Tawergha.
Rep. Jackson, D-Ill., also tells The Black Star News he will ask that U.S. assistance for reconstruction and transition to democracy in Libya be conditional. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that rebels from Misrata had torched the homes that belonged to the predominantly dark-skinned residents of the city of Tawergha, which is now abandoned.
A Journal reporter witnessed some of the torching and wrote that the words “slaves” and “negroes” were scribbled on the walls of the now emptied homes.
In an earlier news report, The Wall Street Journal reported that rebels from the city of Misrata had declared that Tawergha would be “no more” and that the unit conducting the attacks was named “The Brigade for Purging Slaves, Black Skin.”
Misrata rebels blame residents of Tawergha, which was used by the Libyan army under the government of Muammar al-Qaddafi as a staging ground for the siege on Misrata. The Journal has also reported on long, historical feuds that predate the Libyan civil war between the “white” residents of Misrata and the predominantly Black ones of Tawergha.
The Wall Street Journal Tuesday also reported that Transitional National Council (TNC) “prime minister” Mahmoud Jibril, referring to the reported atrocities in Tawergha by rebels, said, “Regarding Tawergha, my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misrata.”
Rep. Jackson took exception to Jibril’s remarks.
“Racism in the form of ethnic cleansing, killing and genocide is wrong anytime, anyplace and against anybody in the world,” Rep. Jackson said Wednesday. “And it appears as though the rebel leader, Mahmoud Jibril, is using the American idea that the South used to protect the institution of slavery – the 10th Amendment in our Constitution – to say, in essence, ‘it’s a states’ right and local control issue.’”
“Well, it’s not a local issue and it’s a moral outrage,” he added. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ As a senior member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I intend to raise this issue with my colleagues and condition any financial support for the reconstruction of Libya and its transition to a democratic society.”
“I think it is absolutely necessary that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in the Hague investigate what I consider to be crimes against humanity,” Rep. Jackson said.
A spokesperson for Rep. John Lewis told The Black Star News that he opposes wars as a matter of principle and had also objected to the U.S. involvement in Libya: “He does not agree with war because of its ramifications, because it leads to these moral compromises,” said the spokesperson, Brenda Jones. “It puts you in a difficult position, where you have to commit the same crimes that you are intending to stop.”
A spokesman for the United Nations, Eduardo del Buey, declined to comment on Rep. Jackson’s call for an investigation and his characterization of the accounts reported by The Wall Street Journal as amounting to crimes against humanity.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said the U.S. couldn’t comment by The Black Star News’ publication deadline. The U.S. hasn’t yet condemned the reported targeted attacks on Black Libyans.
The Journal reported that the road sign pointing to the city of Tawergha had been defaced and replaced with “New Misrata.” Some Tawerghans who had managed to flee to Tripoli were captured and taken to Misrata, the Journal reports.
The Journal is the only major U.S. media outlet that’s reported on the plight of Tawergha.

United Nations says ‘no comment’ on ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans

The White House has yet to issue a single statement condemning this ethnic cleansing of Black people. Hillary Clinton’s Department of State remains mute. The leaders of organizations that profess to protect the rights of Black people, such as the NAACP’s Ben Jealous and the National Urban League’s Marc Morial, have yet to make statements. Surely, someone must read The Wall Street Journal.

Tawergha, a once bustling town of 10,000 people, mostly Black, is deserted – its buildings looted, vandalized, many torched, and its citizens, loyal to Qaddafi, forced out by their neighbors 20 miles down the road in Misrata in “what appears to be the first major reprisal against supporters of the former regime,” according to the London Telegraph in a Sept. 11 story by Andrew Gilligan. He wrote: “Along the road that leads into Tawergha, the Misrata Brigade has painted a slogan. It is, it says, ‘the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin.’ ‘We have met Tawerghas in detention, taken from their homes simply for being Tawerghas,’ said Diana Eltahawy, a researcher for Amnesty International who is currently in Libya. … ‘They are really afraid. They have nowhere to go,’ said Ms Eltahawy. … Many Tawerghas are now cowering in makeshift camps around Tripoli. … ‘If we go back to Tawergha, we will be at the mercy of the Misrata Brigade,’ said one refugee, who declined to be named. ‘When they entered our town in mid-Ramadan [mid-August] and shelled it, we fled just carrying the clothes on our backs. I don't know what happened to our homes and belongings. Now I am here in this camp, my son is ill and I am too afraid to go to the hospital in town. I don't know what will happen to us now.’” – Photo: Heathcliff O’Malley
This is the second article detailing the specific campaign to wipe out Black Libyans that The Journal has reported on; the first article was on June 21, 2011.
Other major corporate media, such as The New York Times, CNN and BBC, all of which to varying degrees surrendered pretense at “objectivity” and openly supported the NATO bombardments, are now in a bind. They have yet to report major stories on the ethnic cleansing in Misrata and Tawergha. Rather than concede that the side they supported in the civil war is carrying out war crimes, they would rather suppress the story.
Welcome to the 21st century, the Newspeak George Orwell feared.
Had it not been for The Wall Street Journal breaking ranks with other corporate media, this genocide might well have been concealed and attributed to a figment of al-Qaddafi’s imagination.
Even the United Nations was unable to respond today to the ethnic cleansing reports when contacted by The Black Star News and after the Journal’s reports were forwarded. A spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was asked whether the targeted actions qualified as ethnic cleansing, whether they qualified as war crimes and whether the United Nations is demanding an investigation.
The spokesman, Eduardo del Buey, ignored the specific questions and responded with a statement from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, which states in part, “In situations of transition or unrest, restraint must be observed.”
Small comfort to the now depleted citizenry of Tawergha.
“We are not commenting on media reports. the high commissioner speaks to the issue of human rights, and this is what she has said to date in Libya,” Eduardo del Buey added.
More U.S. elected officials and ordinary Americans of all races should read The Wall Street Journal’s accounts and weigh in on the reported crimes being committed by the rebels. They are, after all, in power due in part to American support.
The Journal articles also quotes a Misratan rebel leader, Mohammed Ben Ras Ali, saying, “Tawergha is no more.”
How many times does the world have to keep saying “never again”?
Editor’s note: Readers are not obliged to stand by and watch the ethnic cleansing of Black people in Libya. Please call The New York Times at (212) 556-1234 and ask foreign editor Joe Kahn why the Times hasn’t done major stories on the Tawergha and Misrata war crimes. Also pose the same question to Times Publisher Sulzberger.
Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor in chief of The Black Star News, New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, can be reached at Allimadi has also worked for The Journal of Commerce, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The City Sun. This story first appeared at and
The Black prisoner pictured above appears at 7:33 minutes into this video.
A story by headlined “Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata” describes this report by Andrew Simmons for Al Jazeera, saying it “shows at least one of the large residential blocks in Tawergha alight, prisoners packed inside a freight container – who the rebels didn’t want filmed – an injured man in civilian clothes and the rebel fighters evicting one of the last civilians left in the town, an Egyptian woman who has lost her nine children under 12 who ran away during the attack.”


I'll bet many of you thought things like the Tuskegee experiments were lost in the past.  Nope, amazing as it seems some researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute which is associated with John Hopkins knowingly allowed African American children to be exposed high concentrations of lead paint in the 1990s.  Now, they are being sued.  They ought to being arrested if you ask me.  Racism, in the name of science, is still racism.  In fact, these probably liberal academics may very well qualify as worse then your up front Klan types.  They actually don't think they have done anything wrong.  Did I mention, that they didn't bother to provide any medical treatment for these children? Damn...

Read it in this article from Racism Daily.

Racial Bias Seen In Study Of Lead Dust And Children

A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday against a prominent Baltimore medical institute, accusing it of knowingly exposing black children as young as a year old to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study exploring the hazards of lead paint.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that more than 100 children were endangered by high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were “lead safe.”
The institute, a research and patient care facility for children that is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, periodically tested the children’s blood to determine lead levels.
But, the lawsuit said, Kennedy Krieger provided no medical treatment to the children, who ranged in age from 12 months to 5 years old.
Lead exposure was a significant cause of permanent neurological injuries in some of the children, according to the suit. Johns Hopkins, which approved the study, is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
“Children were enticed into living in lead-tainted housing and subjected to a research program which intentionally exposed them to lead poisoning in order for the extent of the contamination of these children’s blood to be used by scientific researchers to assess the success of lead paint or lead dust abatement measures,” said the suit, filed in state court in Baltimore. “Nothing about the research was designed to treat the subject children for lead poisoning.”
Dr. Gary W. Goldstein, president and chief executive of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, said in a statement on Thursday that the “research was conducted in the best interest of all of the children enrolled.”
“Baltimore city had the highest lead poisoning rates in the country, and more children were admitted to our hospital for lead poisoning than for any other condition,” he said. “With no state or federal laws to regulate housing and protect the children of Baltimore, a practical way to clean up lead needed to be found so that homes, communities, and children could be safeguarded.”
“Over all, the blood lead levels of most children residing in the study homes stayed constant or went down,” the statement read, “even though in a few cases, they rose.”
The lead paint study, which started in 1993 and continued for six years, was designed to determine how well various levels of lead abatement would reduce lead in the blood of young children.
The buildings where the study was carried out were generally in poor neighborhoods of Baltimore.
Litigation surrounding the research has gone on for more than a decade, and in 2001 the Maryland Court of Appeals compared the study to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which  withheld medical treatment for African-American men with syphilis.
According to the lawsuit, Kennedy Krieger helped landlords get public financing for lead abatements and helped select families with young children to rent apartments where lead dust problems had been only partly eliminated so that the children’s blood could be measured for lead over a two-year period, according to the lawsuit.
“What they would do was to improve the lead hazard from what it was but not improve it to code,” said Thomas F. Yost Jr., one of the lawyers who filed the suit.
Mr. Yost said that although parents signed consent forms, the contracts failed to provide “a complete and clear explanation” about the research, which aimed to measure “the extent to which the children’s blood was being contaminated.”
David Armstrong, the father of the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, David Armstrong Jr., said that after his son, age 3, was tested for high levels of lead in 1993, he went to a Kennedy Krieger clinic for help.
The father said the family was provided state-subsidized housing by Kennedy Krieger and was told they would be part of a two-year research project. Mr. Armstrong said he was not told that his son was being introduced to elevated levels of lead paint dust.
Mr. Armstrong said blood was collected from his son for two years, but that no one told him the lead levels had increased. After the two-year mark passed, Mr. Armstrong said he continued to live in the two-bedroom apartment but did not hear from Kennedy Krieger.
During those two years, he said his son, now 20 years old, received no medical treatment for lead. Later, when Mr. Armstrong took his son to a pediatrician, the doctor detected blood lead levels two and a half to three times higher than they had been before the family moved into the apartment.
“I thought they had cleaned everything and it would be a safe place,” Mr. Armstrong said. “They said it was ‘lead safe.’ ”
[Source: New York Times]


if the mustache fits, wear it
I'll say loud and proud, "I HATE MEL GIBSON."  This guy is clearly a god awful anti-semite of the old variety.  He is also so hung up on himself that he has the gall, the damn gall, to think it would be swell for him to make a movie out of an ancient Jewish hero, hey, maybe even play the guy.  I spit on you, Mel, you stupid Jew hating, misogynist, pig schmuck.

Have I made my feelings clear?

For a little more intellectual discussion I direct you to this BuzzFlash post from old bud, Billy Berkowitz.

Mel Gibson’s Passion for Judah Maccabee Isn’t Playing in the Jewish Community

"Casting [Gibson] as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting [Bernie] Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr.," says Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of Los Angeles's Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance.
Earlier this year, Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster appeared hand in hand on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. They were attending the premiere of The Beaver, a film directed by Foster, starring both her and Gibson. In the movie Gibson plays a depressed toy manufacturer who, after failing to commit suicide, winds up communicating through a hand puppet. This was supposed to be his return to Hollywood stardom after having spent a few years fending off questions about his sexist, anti-gay, racist and anti-Semitic rants. The Beaver was a box office dud; it cost $21 million to make and it reeled in far less than that, both domestically and internationally.
To get his sinking Mojo back, Gibson is going to have to do better.
But first, he must clear up a few of the messes he's created for himself; most immediately with his ex-girlfriend, and most notably, with the Jewish community.
Apparently, money has allowed Gibson to buy his way out of his ex-girlfriend mess. In late August, Gibson agreed to pay Oksana Grigorieva, $750,000. In addition, according to the Associated Press, he will, "continue to provide housing and financial support for their young daughter to resolve a bitter legal fight that followed sexist, racist rants attributed to the actor."
Gibson's Jewish problem, however, is going to take a lot more than money to fix.
Gibson's production of The Passion of the Christ marks the beginning of his poor relationship with the Jewish community. The film delivers an ultra-violent portrayal of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, with Gibson depicting Jews as evil collaborators in Jesus' death. This negative portrayal picked up steam when it was discovered that Gibson's father, Hutton Peter Gibson (a man Gibson reveres), questioned the holocaust in a 2003 New York Times interview, when he asked how it was that the Nazis could have possibly disposed of six million bodies. This all culminated in Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic rant during his highly-publicized 2006 DUI arrest. Gibson accused the Jews of being "responsible for all the wars in the world."
So what's a Gibson to do?
If you answered, "Make another biopic featuring a Jew," consider yourself brilliant!
The recent announcement that Gibson is collaborating with Warner Bros. to produce a movie about Judah Maccabee, a Jewish hero, has not jump-started the healing process. In fact, the announcement immediately resulted in strongly worded comments from several Jewish leaders.
Before Gibson's The Passion of the Christ became an international blockbuster (it's one of the highest grossing films of all time with over $600 million in combined domestic and international box office), and before his drunken anti-Semitic tirade threatened his career, he apparently had it in his minds eye to make a movie about Judah Maccabee. Several years ago, he told conservative talk show host Sean Hannity that the story had all the elements of an old-fashioned western.
While it is likely that he will direct the movie, it is unclear whether he will act in it. He could perhaps play Judah Maccabee's father, Mattathias. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Showgirls, Flashdance), has been brought on board to tell the story.
According to Celeb Dirty Laundry's Dr. Jody Overland, Eszterhas' work also includes two films -- directed by Costa-Gavras and produced by Irwin Winkler -- that focused on Jewish themes: 1987's Betrayed, which starred Debra Winger, and 1989's Music Box, featuring Jessica Lange.
The story of Judah Maccabee is the story of Hanukkah. The reason Jews light candles during Hanukkah - The Festival of Lights - is to commemorate the restoration of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC, after a victorious Judah Maccabee removed the pagan statuary placed there by the Seleucid conquerors.
Reaction from some Jewish leaders was quick and critical.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of Los Angeles's Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, told The Hollywood Reporter:
"Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of Christ. I'm talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal. He's had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting [Bernie] Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. It's simply an insult to Jews."
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement:
"We would have hoped Warner Brothers could have found someone better than Mel Gibson to direct or perhaps even star in a film on the life of the Jewish historical icon Judah Maccabee. As a hero of the Jewish people and a universal hero in the struggle for religious liberty, Judah Maccabee deserves better. It would be a travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people's religious views."
One of the keys to the success of The Passion of the Christ was the savvy way its producers handled its pre-release promotion. That roll out not only played to evangelical Christian pastors hungry for a movie to send its parishioners too, but it also combatted the controversy surrounding the film.
During the run-up, Bill Donohue's Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights devoted 22 of its 43 press releases to the Gibson film. In addition, a special section of the League's "2003 Report on Anti-Catholicism" was devoted to the film.
It would not be surprising to see some of those pre-release methods used again.
The Atlantic magazine's Jeffrey Goldberg, who is working on a biography of Judah Maccabee, was not surprised by the Gibson-Warner Bros. announcement:
"A few years ago, I was having dinner with Christopher Hitchens, who had recently launched an excoriating attack on Judah Maccabee in his book, "God is Not Great" (Hitchens blames Judah Maccabee for, essentially, his success -- the Maccabean revolt helped preserve, against the force and power of Greek culture, what Hitchens might call jealous-God Judaism, and thus paved the way for the birth of Christianity, which Hitch, as I'm sure you know, regrets). I happened to mention to Hitchens news that Gibson had expressed interest in the Judah story, which prompted Hitchens to look at me gravely and issue an order: ‘You must go to Los Angeles and stop him.'"
Goldberg recounts a subsequent conversation where Gibson mentioned that he had read the Book of the Maccabees when he was a teenager and found it amazing:
"'It's almost like' -- here, he grabbed my digital recorder, held it to his mouth, and spoke in a portentous movie-announcer voice - 'They profaned his Temple. They killed his father. They... all kinds of stuff. In the face of great odds for something he believed in' -- here he switched out of movie-announcer voice - ‘Oh, my God, the odds they faced. The armies they faced had elephants! How cinematic is this! Even Judah's dad -- what's his name? Mattathias? -- you kind of get this guy who more or less is trying to avoid the whole thing, but he just gets to a place where had enough, and he just snapped!'"
"Just snapped!." Sounds like the perfect title of a Gibson biopic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


(Cartoon by) Jairo Del Rio, Colombia, South America
I am sick and tired of the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the War on This and the War on That.  No matter what you call them, they all turn out to be a war on the non wealthy of the world.  It the multitudes that provide the dead, wounded and ruined.  In Mexico, people want to fight back, but damn, in the Empire today it isn't even an easy chore to figure out who to fight back against let alone how.  Like the drug cartel's sure as hell aren't anyone's friends, but then neither is the Mexican government, it troops and police who are allegedly at war with them.  Both sides seem to enjoy killing everyone but each other the most of all.  It kind of makes me nauseous.  

The following comes from the blog, My Word is My Weapon.

Guerrero Protesters Demand Education, Not War

By Kristin Bricker, Americas Program
Acapulco: Fourty-nine students are on hunger strike
for the right to attend college.
Several thousand people marched on Acapulco, Guerrero, this past Saturday chanting, “We don’t want war, we want education!” The march occurred during poet Javier Sicilia’s visit to the seaside city as his caravan of drug war victims makes its way to the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Acapulco was once an international resort destination. Now, drug war violence has scared away many tourists who are afraid of becoming the cartels’ next victim. Last year, the kidnapping and murder of twenty Mexican tourists in Acapulco dealt a devastating blow to the city’s tourism industry. Drug traffickers apparently mistook the group of mechanics from Michoacan for a rival drug gang.
The increasing violence in Acapulco drove 800 teachers in 300 public schools to \strike last week to demand that the government take measures to increase security in their schools. The strike has kept at least 50,000 students from beginning the 2010-2011 school year. The teachers say they won’t return to classes until it is safe to do so. Teachers around the state are supporting the Acapulco strike by occupying all of the Ministry of Public Education buildings in the state. They are threatening to strike, too, if the government doesn’t reach an agreement with the union this week.
Shoot-outs outside schools are now a regular occurrence. Just this past week, shoot-outs occurred outside of three public schools in Acapulco. The teachers are afraid that criminals will seek refuge on school grounds during shoot-outs. One of their strike demands is to improve the schools’ facilities to prevent outsiders from entering the schools.
“There’s schools here that don’t even have a telephone,” complains Roman Maynardo López Pachuca, spokesman for the Guerrero State Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CETEG), the democratic organization within the National Education Workers Union. “They installed these so-called ‘emergency buttons’ in the schools, but they’ve never worked. If a teacher hits the button, sure, the police will arrive eventually. But it’s usually an hour later, or whenever they feel like showing up.”
“There’s been a wave of extortions, phone calls, anonymous threats, and, in some cases, some teachers have been kidnapped, and others have been carjacked at gunpoint,” explains López Pachuca. “Last month, we received an anonymous threat that named certain teachers by name,” recalls Lopez Pachuca. “It demanded that those teachers who earn more than eight thousand pesos per fifteen-day pay period turn over half their salaries” to a criminal group.
“They’re also demanding 50% of the Christmas bonuses,” says César Gonzalez, representative of the CETEG in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. “In exchange [for the payments], the schools would be protected by them [the criminal organization]. Moreover, if these teachers [who pay the quota] have problems with other teachers or with students’ parents, they [the criminal group] will make sure that the teacher or parent stops causing problems.”
Gonzalez says that organized crime first started demanding quotas from teachers in Acapulco, but now they’ve extended their threats to teachers in other parts of the state, such as Tierra Colorada.
The union has refused to pay. “If they tried to make good on their threats, there would be an uprising of all of the teachers in Guerrero, ” warned Lopez Pachuca.
The union spokesman isn’t making empty threats. His local, Section 14, has historically been one of the most militant locals in the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), and it is one of just a handful of democratic locals in the union. The local stood up to the military during the Dirty War in the 1960s and 70s in Guerrero, which was ground zero for the military’s brutal campaign against social movements across the country. Now, decades later, Section 14 refuses to be intimidated by organized crime.
“We teachers are not proposing a repressive police-military operation,” insists Lopez Pachuca.  ”Instead of responding to crime, they focus more on repressing the social movements that protest the situation.”

Hunger strikers' sign reads, "Stop Militarization, We Want Education!"
The union spokesman blames the violence on the government’s decision to declare war on organized crime.
“This strategy of all-out-war, far from solving the violence problem, has only made it much worse,” he argues. “The problem is exacerbated when they ignore the simplest part, which is the extreme poverty that prevails throughout Mexico.”
According to the Mexican government’s own statistics, 46.2% of the population—that is, 52 million people—live in moderate or extreme poverty. Another 34.5% percent are classified as “vulnerable.” Lopez Pachuca explains, “This drives people to obtain money through illicit means out of necessity to pay their bills.”
“The strategy of all-out-war has failed, and it is time to change that strategy,” argues Lopez Pachuca. “A new strategy should combine intelligence work with social justice. There are students who were rejected from public universities, and they don’t have money to attend private colleges. There needs to more access to high school and college education, and special attention needs to be paid to the poorest sectors of society.”
Education Deficit
The striking teachers are demanding that the government dedicate more resources to education in Guerrero, particularly in the poverty-stricken outskirts of Acapulco. They want all students to have free access to all levels of education, including universities.
According to UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 19% of Guerrero residents aged 17-22 have fewer than four years of education—one of the worst rates in the country. The average Guerrero resident has only a middle school education, and indigenous peoples fare much worse. Forty-two percent of Mexico’s monolingual indigenous population (that is, those who only speak an indigenous language) is in the bottom twentieth percentile for the number of years they attended school.
Most of Mexico’s students are forced to end their education early due to a severe shortage of schools and teachers across the country. Last year, children in 46 rural towns in Guerrero did not attend school because the schools in their communities didn’t have any teachers at all.
The nation’s public universities also suffer severe shortages, leaving scores of young Mexicans with no hope of a professional education if they can’t afford private universities. The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) rejected 90% of applicants in 2010; it turned away 105,386 applicants in just one of its admissions cycles that year. That same year, the Autonomous University of Guerrero rejected 35%, or 3,408 applicants.
Forty-nine rejected applicants are currently on their 32nd day of hunger strike in Acapulco’s town square to demand admission to the Autonomous University of Guerrero. “We have 9.9 [out of 10] grade-point averages,” says Berta Zuñiga, one of the hunger strikers. “We will not let an admissions exam undervalue us as human beings.”
Unfortunately, Mexicans’ demands for increased access to education have fallen on deaf ears. In July, Javier Sicilia and other drug-war victims met with Congress. During the dialogue, legislators agreed to significantly increase the education budget. “They promised that there would enough money for college and high school education so that any student who wanted to study could,” recalled Sicilia in Guerrero. “We don’t see that promise reflected in the 2012 budget.”
The proposed budget increases the Ministry of Public Education’s funding just 1.9% over last year, while the already bloated drug war budget would increase more than 10%.
“We demand that by next week, those who want to study are incorporated into the student body,” said Sicilia to cheering Acapulco residents. In the war on drugs, “it’s young people who are dying, and it’s young people who are killing. We can’t let this go on, because if we do, we’ll lose Mexico altogether.”
Kristin Bricker is a reporter in Mexico. She is a contributor to the CIP Americas Program and is currently covering the 10-day Caravan of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity for the Americas Updater.