An Act of Cultural Resistance

downloadThe Last Earth: A Palestinian Story by Ramzy Baroud (Pluto Press, London 2018)

Reviewed by Andrew Raba

Ramzy Baroud’s The Last Earth is a collection of eight narratives told by ordinary Palestinians who have, in their own way, struggled against the violence inflicted upon their country by Israel over the past one hundred years. The book bears witness to the immense bravery of Palestinians and to the scale of violence that has taken lives, torn families apart and displaced entire populations across the world. Baroud’s book comes at a time of sharpening tensions within Palestine. In March, Donald Trump issued a provocative signal of the United States’ commitment to Israel by opening an embassy in Jerusalem. At the same time, New Zealand pop star Lorde decided not to play in Israel marking a significant victory for the BDS movement. Most significantly, the past months have seen mass marches of Palestinians demanding the right of return on the seventieth anniversary of the 1948 Nakba.

The Last Earth contributes to the struggle today by foregrounding the humanity of the Palestinian people. The book contains stories that range from present-day Gaza, to the impact of the Balfour Declaration of 1922, from the refugee crisis of 2012, to the lives of Palestinian families living in Melbourne, Australia as part of the international diaspora. By drawing on the stories of individuals Baroud cuts against the reductive presentation of Palestinians as either militants, victims or grim statistics on a lop-sided score board. Moreover, by collating these stories into a single volume Baroud is able to draw out the common experiences that determine a shared Palestinian history. Above all, each account is marked by a deep sense of displacement. The forced exile of Palestinians from their homeland creates, in Edward Said’s words, “a rift or a barricade, ‘between the self and its true home’, restraining the person from residing in a place of comfort.” In each story we find a version of this unease and longing for home. It is this longing that fuels their struggle for a free Palestine. Yet, it is also this longing that runs through Palestinian lives as an open wound. [Read more…]

Wellington solidarity with Syria

syria-protestBy Daniel Simpson Beck
Around 60 people gathered outside the Russian embassy in Karori on Saturday afternoon to protest Russia’s military support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The Russian state is helping to maintain the Assad dictatorship by providing crucial air support in the regime’s attempts to crush the Syrian revolution. Since September last year, Russian air strikes have killed 10,000 people. Basher al-Assad’s unrelenting crackdown on the mass popular revolution against his regime has killed 400,000 people. A full half of Syria’s population have left the country to save themselves from bloodshed.

[Read more…]

The Panama Papers, New Zealand and Imperialism

mossack fonsecaby Joshua O’Sullivan

The Panama Papers have given us an insight into the secret world of offshore. Offshore refers to the secrecy jurisdictions that exist all around the world where the wealthy can hide their wealth. New Zealand has been pushed into the spotlight as a major South Pacific tax haven, with itself and the territories it manages, such as the Cook Islands and Niue, having become more attractive places over the last 10 years to set up trust accounts. In truth there are many other countries competing in a race to the bottom of financial deregulation.  Tax havens are irredeemably tied up with the international flow of capital, the deregulation of finance laws the world over and the domination of society by powerful private interests.

What is not covered by the mainstream reporting on the Panama Papers is just how big the off-shore system is. Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm from where the leaks came from, is only the fourth-largest law firm that specialises in this system. The Panama Papers release covers only a small subset of off-shore accounts that are estimated to range up to $34 trillion dollars in holdings. [Read more…]

TPP – Agreement for the Rich

tppa walk away

By Joshua O’Sullivan

As an International Trade agreement very little within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) is actually new. The TPPA has been an ongoing process since the early 1980s that has grown in scope and power to now attempt to cover 40% of the world’s GDP. It’s important to place it in its context of imperialism to understand why the TPPA is being pushed through now by the US. The US are spooked by China’s economic rise to dominance and want to maintain control in the Asia Pacific region economically but also through their latent strength of the military.

The TPPA taps into a long history of international trade and the methods by which it is secured. International ‘agreement’ is a euphemism for control; capitalists forcing their political ideology through business arrangements like the TPPA. International agreements are never agreed to or discussed on an equal playing field, one country is always more developed, or more powerful. The military is an important part of that equation.

[Read more…]

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki August 9, 1945Shomi Yoon gave this talk to the Wellington branch of the International Socialists on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

 

Seventy years ago this month the US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bomb, a “destroyer of worlds” burnt hotter than the sun. The largely civilian victims were instantly vaporised, and the fires that burnt afterwards incinerated thousands more. The death toll for the two cities rests conservatively at 250,000 people.

The after effects of radiation killed even more people through a long and torturous process. [Read more…]

Should NZ recognise Palestine?

unnamed

Protests for Palestine in Auckland last year

by Dougal McNeill

Should New Zealand recognise Palestine as a separate state? This is what the Green Party hope to see happen. In December last year Kennedy Graham MP tried to put a motion to Parliament that “this House call upon the government to [recognise] Palestine as a sovereign State, and looks forward to the day when it is accepted as a member of the United Nations.”

Kennedy’s comments pick up on trends internationally. In the last year parliaments in the Spanish state, Denmark, France, Portugal, the south of Ireland and the British House of Commons have voted on motions ‘recognising’ Palestine. These have been treated as some sort of step forward for the Palestinian struggle. [Read more…]

No New Zealand Troops to Iraq!

US troops MosulCory Anderson gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists.

April marked 100 years since New Zealand troops landed in Turkey with the purpose of opening up yet another front in the bloodiest war that history ’till then had seen. It’s something of an irony then, that at the very same time as John Key and Tony Abbott are laying wreaths at the memorials, while wiping away a hard-squeezed tear and murmuring “never again,” they are sending troops back to the very region of the world invaded by their predecessors 100 years ago. Now, as then, it falls to socialists to oppose the war. [Read more…]

The rivalries tearing the Middle East apart

yemen air strikes aftermath-rubble-aBy Eric Ruder

ON A single day in late March, the U.S. began a new bombing campaign in its air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), targeting ISIS positions in the Iraqi city of Tikrit–while 1,500 miles away, Saudi Arabia launched its first air strikes in Yemen in a bid to halt the advance of Houthi rebels.

The latest military escalations by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia threaten to further destabilize a Middle East in which open hostilities and humanitarian disasters have multiplied, from Libya to Yemen, and Syria to Iraq.

Both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are anxious to portray their military operations as fully justified and even noble–but the bloody record of these two allies’ accomplishments gives the lie to such claims. In fact, just beneath the surface lurks the real reason for the escalation of violence: a sharpening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. [Read more…]