Palestinians have nothing to gain from Pence’s visit

So, POTUS Donald Trump is sending to the Middle East the man who stood on his right as he threw Palestinians under the bus to ‘unscramble’ the omelette or ‘unmuddy’ the waters. This is the same Vice POTUS Pence who, if reports from the US are to be believed is the Christian Evangelicals and Right-wing Republicans’ deployee to the White House. It’s punted, deceptively so, that Trump’s decision to implement the 22-years-old Jerusalem Act was meant to appease them.
Now, in his impending Middle East trip, Pence, the beneficiary by constituency, of this move is scheduled to also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The PA’s knee-jack reaction is that they no longer recognise the US’s role in ‘peace’ negotiations with Israel and will not host Pence when he arrives in the region. However, some of us who know Abbas and his Fatah faction in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) better know that he will eventually cave in and shake Pence and Trump’s son-in-law and his Middle East envoy and settlement funder Jared Kushner’s hands.
Trump’s act of announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel then arrange a meeting with Abbas is like a husband beating his partner then tease her by pinching her ears and nose to seduce laughter. It’s called abuse.
When the PLO announced that Abbas will not meet Pence the White House put out a statement claiming ‘it will be counter-productive’ for Palestinians to abandon the US. The spin in Washington is that the PA has no choice because they are paying salaries of thousands of PA public servants and the Palestinian Security forces. This is only a valid spin on those who have little comprehension of the nuts and bolts of that misappropriation of US taxpayer funds.
Here is a story many people are not told. The US pays, through donations, salaries of thousands of PA employees (nurses, doctors, teachers etc) in the West Bank not because it is doing Palestinians a favour. The West Bank is occupied by Israel and the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention says, “the occupying power must take measures to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety”. It further says “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation”
Simply put this means that Israel, by virtue of being an occupying power is supposed to be the one paying those salaries from its national fiscus. Israelis are supposed to be feeling the pinch of the occupation through sharing resources with people they are occupying. In this equation, through US funding to the PA, Israel is getting away with a cost-free occupation. It explains why it will not end its occupation because it costs it nothing to carry out.
The US retaliating to Pence’s snub by Palestinians by closing the tap will help Palestinians. It will transfer the cost on the occupier and the taxpayers of that occupying power. Sanctions only work when they bite ordinary citizens who choose governments. While right-wing Israelis support their country’s occupation, they will not support it if it means they have to pay for it.
Two; the US threatens to cut pay for Palestinian security forces who number around 20 000 lightly armed men whose main task is to clamp down on Palestinian resistance from organisations such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas. That’s two of their three briefs; protect the PA leadership and infrastructure and keep the lid tight on resistance. Their third brief is to co-operate with Israeli occupation forces and share intelligence in their duty to protect settlements.
The US spends billions maintaining that status quo. Following the Oslo Accord of 1993 the US has managed to get Palestinians to agree to complain about settlement expansion while shedding blood to protect the same settlements. Former US President Bill Clinton established that framework to benefit Israel. Palestinians have been bending backward because salaries earned have created a dependence on the US for their families’ upkeep.
The international law of occupation does not allow for occupied people to have security forces; it gives them the right to resist an occupation by any means necessary. The occupying power should provide security and policing to the people it occupies; which then means it has to pay salaries and provide infrastructure.
To clarify this point, Palestinian security forces are not allowed to stop Israeli soldiers from launching night raids on Palestinian homes. They are not allowed to stop Israeli soldiers from shooting, demolishing houses or arresting Palestinians. They are not allowed to arrest Israeli settlers who attack Palestinians and destroy their olive trees and desecrate graves. They are not allowed to drive on the same roads as Israeli settlers. But they remain loyal to the US because it uses its money to subsidise Israeli occupation. They are US employees.
Now, with the Jerusalem announcement and that of moving the US embassy there Washington flexing its muscles to remind Palestinians who is really responsible for their suffering. And by snubbing a visit by Pence they would have indicated to Washington its role as both the ‘broker’ of peace and Israel’s lawyer are finished. Their situation will not be improved by their continued subservience to the US, which has never voted in their favour at the UN Security Council or any international fora where their steps brings them closer to a Palestinian state.
Thus, let them snub Pence and let’s see what the US will do. Washington has no card left to play that will advantage them.
People have been asking why Trump made this unpopular move which has been postponed by successive US administrations since 1995. The White House spin is that ‘it will advance peace’. Al Jazeera Political Analyst Marwan Bishara angrily asked, I paraphrase, ‘how does unilaterally taking contested land and giving it to one party advance peace? It’s like (the late General Ariel) Sharon saying that building settlements in East Jerusalem and West Bank advances peace. What logic is that?’
JD Gordon, a former Trump adviser told Al Jazeera the move was done to appease Christian evangelicals who Trump has promised the embassy move in his campaign. It’s difficult to understand how some guy in a trucker cap and a pick-up truck will be chilling in Texas with a map of Palestine and calling a radio station arguing that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will strengthen his faith. That is inconceivable given that most Americans are hardly familiar with the map of the world, let alone a small piece of real estate called Israel.
Some pundits argue that Trump did it to divert attention from the Robert Mueller led Russia inquiry currently underway in the US. They claim that Trump wants the media and the people to focus on something but him and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s alleged links to the Kremlin. That’s a lie. If Trump wanted to divert US attention he would have sent a strategic bomber from Guam to stage a fly-over a few miles off the North Korean coast. That would have diverted attention and actually rallied patriots around him. Also, an average American hardly cares about what’s going on at Capitol Hill. They are unaware of the Russia probe.
The reason for the timing of the decision, apart from the six months’ timeframe could be put squarely at the unity deal reached between Palestinian factions months ago. The agreement resulted in Hamas handing over control of the Gaza Strip, which it won in a 2006 legislative election to the PA. The complete handover happened last week and what better way to scupper it than to drive a wedge between the PA and Hamas.
You may ask how does that benefit the US? It doesn’t, it benefits Israel because as long as Palestinian factions are divided it will continue to make the argument that it does not have a partner to negotiate with since it can’t agree with one faction when others might reject it later. This is Plan B after they failed to put pressure on Hamas to disband its 25 000 men strong armed force which the US and Israel made a precondition for recognising the unity government. 
Palestinian political unity is the biggest threat to the occupation. And demanding that Hamas disarm is the biggest threat to the unity agreement between Palestinian factions.
That explains why the calculation in Washington and pro-Zionist think tanks is that declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel will anger Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the point they pull out of the agreement and stall the complete handover of Gaza which will give Israel an opportunity to launch another war on the strip and refocus the world’s attention. That Hamas agreed to the return of its arch-foe Mohammad Dahlan to represent the PA in Gaza while it keeps its arms is a sore point for those who once backed him in his failed bid to topple Hamas in 2007. The closing of ranks wanted a spoiler and it came on Wednesday.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniya called for the third intifada following the Jerusalem announcement. Strategists in Israel and the US hope Abbas calls for something else after meeting Pence. Pence is being sent to the Middle East to extort a differing marching order from Abbas, a marching order in direct conflict with Hamas. That, will split the resistance, they hope.
The PA and PLO will regain a little credibility by living up to their bluff to boycott Pence, a bluff they are unlikely to see through. Because from whatever direction you look at it, Palestinians have nothing to gain from their cooperation with the US.


Why Israel can’t talk to Palestinians

Today there are 450 Israelis in the municipality of Hebron and 120 000 Palestinians. I have to keep three battalions to protect them. I believe, with all due respect, that values – Jewish and universal values – have to guide our policy. I can’t call Hebron a Jewish city. It was, but to impose on 120 000 Palestinians the fact that there are 450 Jews there and for that reason to have military rule? I don’t feel the justification for that.” – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin [TIME, November 13, 1995]

Contrary to popular belief, the Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace’ Talks didn’t break down because of Jewish settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and West Bank. Neither because Israel reneged from an agreement it had with US Secretary of State John Kerry that they’ll release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Palestinian Authority not initiating applications to 15 United Nations agencies.
Interestingly, though Israel tried to align its negotiating strategy with the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard currently in US custody in North Carolina; it was not because of the US refusal to swop Pollard for concessions that collapsed the talks. 
They broke down simply because the US refused to guarantee Israel’s security. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sulked and walked out because the very purpose (Zionism) of the establishment of Israel was self-determination and ‘security for the Jews’. The post-World War II global order determined that any people not secured risk being exterminated; nobody wanted a repeat of the Nazi Holocaust.
I see you are wondering ‘what security can be offered to a nuclear armed country?’ A country with the world’s fourth largest and most sophisticated military. Israel’s definition of ‘security’ is not ‘military’; it’s an assurance that it is, and will always be a Jewish State with a demographic that will never be altered even by population growth. The Zionist narrative, which is the bedrock of Israeli-Jewish nationalism’s final solution is not to have legislation in almost all capitals protecting Jews but to have Jews quarantined with privilege inside a space between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea – mostly with dual citizenships so that they can escape back to ‘exile’ in the event that their ideal does not suffice by 2018.
 That is why they forcefully relocate Bedouins as part of the Greening the Negev process, under-develop Israeli-Arab areas and sterilized emigrant Ethiopian Jews to cull their numbers before they upset the cart with high birth rate. While white Jews from all over the world can emigrate freely to Israel; Ethiopian Jews were cleansed purely for being Black – that is called racism.
 That assurance of Jewish purity inside a ‘Jewish Caliphate’ is the fallacy of Israel’s precondition to negotiate with Palestinians. They know Palestinians and the civilised world will never accept that apartheid and they want the US to endorse such Fascism. They want guarantees that they’ll be the world’s only designated ethnocracy while the world is already entertaining thoughts of a One State for Two People after the erosion of the neo-conservatives Two State ideal.
Now, even with all the military hardware and technology they can give Israel the US can’t guarantee ethnic purity because it goes against the inclusive democracy culture it claims to espouse – the foundation of its Constitution. This is regardless of Kerry blurbing “The government of the United States and the president supports the notion of Israel being defined as a Jewish State”. He says ‘being defined’ not ‘being’ and then he tries to push that ambiguity down Palestinian throats.
 Even with the American public being passive and condescending; and a pro-Israeli Senate and Congress, Kerry can’t get such guarantees past both Houses. The US Congress is not made up of Zionist Jews but Zionist sympathisers who in their own private space know that Netanyahu and his team are clutching straws.
For the US to accept [the fallacy, not notion] that Israel is a Jewish State; an apartheid state will mean that it limits the legitimacy of its own citizens to be treated equally in that ethnocracy. We have seen some beaten by Israeli Police for being both American and Palestinian. In Bibi’s demand only American Jews will have the right to emigrate and settle there while holding on to their American passports even though a bulk of them; who are not Jews will become second-class citizens if they are even allowed to settle in Israel or marry there.
First and foremost America’s responsibility is to protect Americans wherever they are in the world, including Israel. To endorse a country where such protections [equality and justice] cannot be guaranteed is a ‘NAY-NAY’ even for a Congress dependent on Jewish lobbyists for everything from funding to advice.
Now you know why the Three Musketeers, Bibi Netanyahu-Naftali Bennet and Avigdor Lieberman continue to build settlements on Palestinians lands; they are altering the facts on the ground to get their Jewish State by default – and the US whose hands are tied is aware and opts to look the other way as Israel gets its ‘security’ by demolishing houses and changing the demographic of West Bank, Negev and East Jerusalem.
The sooner Israel abandons the narrative of Jewish State the better since that fantasy will never happen. It needs to start talking to Palestinians instead of talking over their heads to the Americans. In the final analysis Palestinians are not even going to be its neighbours but fellow countrymen in one homeland. 
Kerry said earlier this year that if the negotiations fail Israel risks becoming an apartheid state. Well, Mr Kerry, Israel already ‘is’ an apartheid state. 

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Somali born author scoops South African Lifetime Achievement Award

Novelist Nuruddin Farah won this year’s South African Literary Award (SALA) for Lifetime Achievement. The award presentation was held at the National Library where seven other winners received their accolades from the Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthetwa.
 Farah is the author of eleven other novels which have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won numerous awards, amongst them Kurt Tucholsky Prize, Neustadt International Prize for Literature and others.
 Other stars that shone on the glittering night were gender activist and poet Makhosazana Xaba who together with Refilwe Malatjie shared the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award. This award is inspired by the late Nobel Laureate and was granted for their respective short story collections, Love Interrupted and Running & Other Stories. In granting the award the judges felt that “Malatji and Xaba are two authors who seem to have made a deliberate decision to write stories that speak of women struggles in a patriarchal society. Their narratives expose the world of womankind without marginalising society in their endeavours.
Creative Non-Fiction Award went to Sihle Khumalo for his inspirational travelogue across Francophone Africa titled Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu. Its strong point was a feeling by the judges that its treatment of Africa’s governance challenges post’ liberation was a lesson necessary for Africa as it seeks its own renaissance. “Khumalo’s exploration is hits the bull’s eye because his decision to tour West Africa without a crash course in French meant he was above being influenced by the culture of the place. His was a mirror approach; telling it like it is without fear of shaming the native.”
 Claire Robertson won the First Time Published Award for her 278 pages hard cover novel The Spiral House. “As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet”. Any novel with such as blurb is mesmerizing without apologizing.
 Nhlanhla Maake scooped the Literary Translators’ Award, a feat that is becoming a habit for this prolific author and intellectual. Also getting awards were Jamala Safari (The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods) and Thandi Sliepen (The Turtle Dove Told Me). Both won for K.Sello Duiker Memorial and Poetry Award respectively.
 The big winner on the night was Farah especially given the situation in his country of birth, Somalia which is officially a failed state with African Union troops trying to maintain a semblance of order. While Farah lives in Cape Town and New York, where he is Distinguished Professor of Literature at Bard College, his triumph is not lost in the chaos engulfing Baidoa where he was born 69 years ago.
 Farah’s subjects revolve around colonialism, feminism and nationalism with notable works including From a Crooked Rib, Maps, Gifts, Secrets etc.
 An Amazon review of his novel From a Crooked Rib notes, “Written with complete conviction from a woman’s point of view, Nuruddin Farah’s spare, shocking first novel savagely attacks the traditional values of his people yet is also a haunting celebration of the unbroken human spirit”

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Will the Real Wole Soyinka Please Stand Up?
In a conversation I recently had with an intellectual friend of mine we looked at what education brings into people’s lives; whether it civilizes them or exposes their inherent prejudices. It’s been Africa’s post- colonial realisation that the allure in Western democracy is largely the erosion of traditional leadership and a replacement with elected (often illegitimate) leaders.
During colonial order one of the things the French and English did was to co-opt co-operative traditional leaders and elevate them to community leadership; often over tribes who had their own Kings and Queens. That was a dictatorship unique to Africa. A system that collapsed with the blowing of Harold MacMillan’s ‘winds of change’.
 However the collapse of colonialism was soon replaced with a deep quest for ethnic identity; which went ags Thomas Sankara. The nation was soon replaced with a tribe; and the tribe wanted to concentrate power on itself at the detriment of other’s development.
Some say there’s nowhere where such is more visible than in Nigeria with its hundreds of tribes and no national identity. A Nigerian friend said ‘in the Federal Republic of Nigeria there is nothing called Nigerian’ but an Igbo, Yoruba etc. The Nigerian identity only exists outside of the country that has invested much to bury under rubble the genocide of Biafra. That blockade that resulted in the starvation and death of more than a million Biafrans seems to be the elephant in the room whenever two Nigerians, no matter how educated meet.
It’s like my scholar friend said, ‘the problem with Nigerians’ obsession with tribe before nation is that for some of them the more educated they become, the worst tribalists they make’.
It’s no wonder many people who have studied Nigeria’s struggle with tribalism have attributed Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s denial to accord fellow ‘Nigerian’, the late author Chinua Achebe the same ‘nobel’ opportunity, though posthumously to tribalism and professional jealousy. In a story that appeared in The Guardian newspaper on 20 May 2013, Soyinka, a towering figure in African literature when asked about calls to confer a posthumous Nobel Award for Literature on Achebe reportedly said, “It has gone beyond 'sickening'. It is obscene and irreverent”.
 In the same story written by journalist Alison Flood, Soyinka gave reasons why he felt that Achebe was not the revered Father of African contemporary literature as Western opinion makers branded him. “Those who seriously believe or promote this must be asked: have you the sheerest acquaintance with the literatures of other African nations, in both indigenous and adopted colonial languages? What must the francophone, lusophone, Zulu, Xhosa, Ewe etc literary scholars and consumers think of those who persist in such a historic absurdity? It's as ridiculous as calling WS [Wole Soyinka] father of contemporary African drama! Or Mazisi Kunene father of African epic poetry. Or Kofi Awoonor father of African poetry. Education is lacking in most of those who pontificate”.
 However some people close to the issue; who understand that there are at least four Africans who could equally nominate Achebe given the Nobel rules that a Laureate has such a prerogative, have argued that Soyinka was not playing his cards open and that his opposition to Achebe’s nomination is driven by tribalism. They argue that him being of Yoruba descent and Achebe of Igbo meant his denial to endorse a fellow author and Nigerian was a continuation of Nigeria’s obsession with rewriting history for ethnic expediency.
 In an old interview on 28 April 2005 with freelance journalist Simon Stanford for the Swedish Academy Soyinka expressed his satisfaction with the fruits that accrued after he won the Nobel Award for Literature in 1986. He acknowledged that among those was the swelling of his constituency, increased prestige and monetary benefits; which then left many wondering why at some stage on the same interview he would say “you have monsters like Chinua Achebe who come up from time to time and who would have died a happy man if he'd succeeded in hanging a Nobel Laureate for literature.”. Achebe was still alive then.
 Why was, and still is Soyinka so opposed to Achebe enjoying the same fruits which’s sweet taste he knows all too well? "This conduct is gross disservice to Chinua Achebe and disrespectful of the life-engrossing occupation known as literature. How did creative valuation descend to such banality? Do these people know what they're doing – they are inscribing Chinua's epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting", he reportedly told Sahara Reporters.
 However differences in intellectuals meritocracy are not new. Sudanese academic, scholar and writer Prof Taban Lo Liyong once took a jibe at his celebrated Kenyan contemporary Ngugi wa Thiong’o, accusing him of seeking glory at the expense of the collective and blocking his professional elevation. “He never thought of lowering the ladder to help me climb up to a senior lectureship. When one day a colleague of ours were discussing this turn of events, and I had said I never thought Ngugi could be that bad, the late philosopher – sage Professor Henry Odera-Oruka cautioned us thus: ‘Don’t call a man bad until he has been tested by opportunities. It’s only after he has responded to temptations and fallen or not fallen that you can now call him good or bad”.
 To finally give capital to those who believe Soyinka is engaged in an exercise of professional jealousy driven by tribal apprehensions, he questioned the merits of famous Things Fall Apart, “Was it the Nobel that spurred a young writer, stung by Eurocentric portrayal of African reality, to put pen to paper and produce Things Fall Apart?"
 With only four Africans having won the Nobel Award for Literature, Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz, South African’s Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee being the only ones; save for Gordimer who passed away early this year, being one of the few who can nominate Achebe for the award, all eyes are once again on Soyinka if ever he will retract his stance on the issue or will continue to believe that “He (Achebe) deserves his peace. Me too! And right now, not posthumously”

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A Day Shall Come - That Day is today 

I’ll like to see the world in the next four months; especially if Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) makes good on its ambition to topple Nuri Al Maliki’s regime in Iraq and then make a move for Tehran. Overthrowing the Shia government of Iraq will not be easy but it is achievable given that the United States of America is responding in the only way a person with a BIG hammer does – seeing every problem as a nail.
 The US might feel duty bound to help Iraq since it is the power that dismantled its armed forces and badly trained and armed the current crop. That the Iraqi Army, which was advised and armed by the US is faltering on the march of a bunch of lightly-armed bearded fighters is an indictment on American military doctrine. The US is seizing this opportunity to redeem itself and its faltering empire. However, contrary to what neo-conservatives say when they invade countries that they are bringing democracy, we can all see in Iraq that the only residue of military invasion is ethnic chaos.
 Interesting enough we don’t have to look very far behind where there’s a replication; Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The US, which does not negotiate with terrorists has traded a ‘St Pauline’ Sergeant who had a Damascus experience on his way to Kabul for five Taliban leaders former US deputy president Dick Cheney and Senator John McCain best described as ‘worst of the worst’. This is part of the US retreat from a country they have invested both blood and money. It’s a dog escaping with a tail between its legs. Then the same government’s proxy in Libya is running amok and creating chaos last seen when the West’s planes bombarded residential areas of Benghazi and Tripoli. That’s the democracy America preaches.
 Then Iraq happens and the same US which said it is building civil society looked the other way as Maliki centred power around himself and closed the door to millions of Sunnis who now sympathise with ISIL. What is happening in Iraq is a failure of US foreign policy; a slump Barack Obama is trying to repair with air strikes and drone attacks. That strategy, like the surge of 2008 is likely to fail and result in the fall of Baghdad after Tikrit and Mosul.
 I started this piece with a teaser on what I shudder to predict the world will be like if Baghdad fell. I don’t want that capital to fall since it will result in loss of hundreds of thousands of lives but part of me wants to know what would happen if ISIL really does gun for Tehran.
 Here’s why I am fascinated by such a development. The US currently pumps millions in trying to stop ISIL from taking Baghdad. So, if that fails and they aim their Toyota Land Cruisers with mounted machine guns towards Tehran, will the US bolster Iran with military power or will it now funnel regime change funds to ISIL? Looking at the US geopolitical posture one will assume the US should automatically fund ISIL since its friend Saudi Arabia is (though not confirmed) probably behind ISIL’s battleground success. And there’s nothing Saudi Arabia will need more than to see the eradication of the greatest Shia regime in the East and the sole custodian of Shia Islam. 
The rattling of the Iranian nest by ISIL attacks will benefit the Saudis, the Bahraini government, Israel and the US. And there’s no telling if these regimes will start funding ISIL to fight their proxy war against the Mullahs of Tehran.
 An engaged Iran will focus less on its nuclear programme and Syria, which will deny oxygen to both Assad and Hezbollah. Suffocating Hezbollah is the one goal Israel daily prays for at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. And having both Assad and Hezbollah out of the picture will be the biggest geopolitical coup of the 21st century for Israel.
 So, I can’t wait to see the next four months unfold since they might provide the best live documentary footage of power recession. ISIL might be in the same league as Boko Haram but the moment they cross the border into Iran their ideology will be in sync with that of the West. No wonder the same powers that were itching to bomb Syria a few months ago are not really at pains to stop ISIL.

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Calling Things by their name: Fascism, anti-Semitism and Murder

Without promoting fascism and impunity one wonders why the ‘lone’ gunman who shot four people at a Jewish Museum in Brussels is labelled an anti-Semite even before his identity and motive are known.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu immediately complained that Europeans ‘are quick to condemn a single house built in Jerusalem but do not condemn this anti-Semitic act’. His sentiments were echoed by Dieter Graumann of the Central Council of Jews in Germany who when commenting on the achievements of anti-EU parties in the European Parliament elections touched on the shooting and noted, “the spectre of anti-Semitism has become a real brutality”. What is anti-Semitism; hatred for Semites or shooting at tourists who might happen to be Semites?
 Graumann equated the performance of extremist parties in the European parliament elections to an attack on democracy and a threat to Jewish European existence.
 Before we give each other ugly badges let’s take a few steps back on this matter; the Kalashnikov wielding thug hasn’t yet been arrested. Nobody knows who he is and what his motivations are. On the security camera footage he is seen shooting randomly, unlike the hostage takers who staged the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes, who were a selective bunch of fascists. He is shooting randomly unlike the Israeli soldiers who recently took aim and killed two Palestinian youth in Ramallah.
 The chap we saw on CCTV, who looks more trigger-happy than calculating could easily be someone who was fired from his job at the museum a few weeks, months or years ago. Or his motivation could be the same as that of terrorist Yigal Amir, killing Yitzhak Rabin; a Jew killing a Jew or like that of the Chechen Tsanaev brothers randomly killing athletes in Boston. There could have been a Semite amongst those Boston dead.
Why are Jewish leaders quick to put a hate crime tag on the recent Brussels shooting? I would think it’s because quite recently the European Union voted to ban the import of agricultural produce from settlements in Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The rhetoric surrounding the Brussels shooting sounds like a counter-narrative. Europe finally develops a human rights spine, Zionists plays the old sulking card: victimhood and invoking European guilt.
 Europe should eternally feel guilty because it babysat a Jewish Holocaust in its doorstep. And let’s be realistic, Europe, not Israel is the reason the holocaust was stopped in its tracks. The holocaust was not a collective European but Nazi German project. According to Zionists today, Europe is forever guilty because it harbours anti-Semites in its body politik. 
 I think Europe is guilty because it’s ignorant to an ongoing Palestinian Holocaust in the same manner it tolerated apartheid in South Africa. With limited sanctions it pretends to be trying to stop a Palestinian Holocaust in its tracks. Let’s be realistic again, this time too it is not a European but Zionist project with the assistance of the United States of America.  Europe is guilty because it calls racists like Mariene Le Pen nationalists. Isn’t Europe a multi-national/cultural continent?

Zionists must stop acting like a wound that refuses to heal. A wound that sends pangs of pain everytime it is touched. In a multipolar world people will be killed by madmen with Kalashnikovs. We can’t afford to check the ID of every victim after a massacre to determinee which one is a homicide and which is anti-Semitic murder.
 Europeans have been protected from the outside world by their imperial forces over many years. The reason we see racist acts in Europe is because Europeans see these new cultures through immigration with strong values from which they have been insulated for a long time and panic. I live in South Africa with Pakistanis, Zimbabweans, Jews (not Israelis), Arabs etc and fail to understand why one should fear cultural invasion when their culture is equally strong and capable of accommodating the good in others. Le Pen’s fear of multi-culturalism deepens her fascism masquerading as advocacy for European traditional values. Her anti-immigration and anti-Semitic rhetoric should remind the world of 1930s Germany.
 Her paranoia is the same as seeking a Jew to save amongst throngs of other victims facing the same danger. The Zionist project is racist to the core. That Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman is on an African safari, shaking the hands of ignorant leaders while denying African migrants in Israel the basic refugee rights prescribed by the Geneva Convention should be seen through its racist prism. It can’t even be labelled Jewish nationalism to open immigration to one tribe but Jewish fear mongering or Jewish fascism. There’s no nation in the world that has never experienced its own genocide; they just choose a different numberplate because ‘HOLOCAUST’ has already been taken. And if every nation’s response to provocation was informed by its history, we wouldn’t have a world to live on.
 FIFA boss Joseph Blatter’s rant about the Palestinian Football Association’s right to have the same rights as its Israeli counterparts irked a few fascist commentators in Israel. Not because it wasn’t factual but he dared equate Palestinian lives to Israelis, which is anathema in an apartheid hotspot where two youth get slaughtered under the glare of CCTV cameras and nobody gets arrested.
 Netanyahu outdid himself outside the grave of Theor Herzel when he ranted to Pope Francis that the Apartheid Wall has saved thousands of lives in response to the Pope praying there. He said if the wall was built a long time ago thousands of lives could have been saved. He exposed once again what former French president Nicholas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama discussed in a pants down moment that ‘Netanyahu us such a liar’. Boers, when in the same position did not build walls protecting themselves but created Bantustans and finally confronted reality and surrendered political power to Black people. Few whites have been killed since Bantustans (Apartheid Wall) were dismantled.
 Until the shooter in Brussels is arrested and quizzed, nobody qualifies to attach a tag to his crime. And the elections of extremists in Europe should not be seen different from those that bring to power fascists like Naphtali Bennet in Israel. People get a government they deserve. No nation has the right to dictate candidates for another nation’s electorate.

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Noah Review

The Bible Reloaded - Noah Review

As a Calvinised kid growing up years ago I have always wondered how some of the Bible stories I grew up reading would look like if they were made into films. Having read every Bible story from Genesis to Revelation my curiosity was like a hunger difficult to please. So when I was in primary school they showed us the story of the famous Jewish King David as a boy and how he killed Goliath with a sling. How I loved that story and the symbolism behind it; nothing in me questioned the point behind the cinematographic narrative. I believe nobody is looking at that; especially given that even the symbolism gets lost. Nobody looks at Goliath as a country with a nuclear weapons, a capable airforce and highly trained soldiers that gets beaten by a sling called Boycott, Disinvest and Sanction.

Okay, politics aside; I went to watch Noah a few days after it debuted in South Africa to little fanfare. This could be owing to the secular nature of our society. Noah's story is a Biblical tale which does not carry the same weight within the Hindu, Muslim and other native faiths. So, not enough bums on seats could be expected in a country fractured across many lines. So, when I finally went to the Brooklyn Ster Kinekor theatre in Pretoria there was only a handful of us in a theatre built to accommodate hundreds. I thought most of the people in there were actually researchers and church elders wanting to advise their flock from the comfort of the pulpit whether they should go watch or ignore. I was there to watch after reading an article in TIME magazine about the number of versions that went through the eyes of padres, pastors and evangelists to find the right mix.

My conclusion after sitting through the two hours of the film with nondescript 3D glasses glued to my eyes is that the film is really an interesting attempt at reloading a Bible story. I know the story of Noah intimately and after watching Darrel Aronofsky's interpretation I felt proud of him for having took the mantle of a historian. Few so-called amateur filmmakers have such a spine. Few, like Mel Gibson with his The Passion of the Christ have tried and prevailed. It is a path dangerous to tread as there are many landmines laid there by Christian fundamentalist who have no comprehension of anthropology; but the abridged Bible tale.

So, for Aronofsky to screenwrite and direct is a brave act; kudos. However if his intention was really to bend the tale to suit a consumer audience, that audience is not going to be Christians. Noah - the film drifts so far away from the script that at the end of watching it I concluded that it's just another interesting film pretending to be set sourced from the Bible. It probably was sourced from a history book, maybe the biography of Noah, which I would like to put my hands on. Otherwise it's an interesting thumbsuck from Aronofsky.

Kudos should be given to the acting by the lead actor Russel Crowe who plays Noah. It was also refreshing to see the re-emergence of old Anthony Hopskins (Silence of the Lambs) playing the role of Noha's father. Credit should go to the make-up team for making him look like what God on film would look like and the screenwriter for portraying that character in an innocent-passive yet sage-like incarnation. The rest of the actors are brilliant; from a young to an older Shem and his wife, Ham and Japhet. Their roles were in a way consistent with what the Bible says excerpt that the film tries very hard to demonise Ham even before he saw the nudity of his sloshed dad. The film does not try to moralise about what's the point of Noah deciding to get sloshed when that was a conduct unbecoming in the eyes of God.

And maybe the film is an attempt at that Jewish narrative as to why everybody should accept defeat and forget about heavenly glory since Japhet and Ham's offspring was poisoned. All their loins could litter were wild seeds. However, it's quite interesting that this tale is not evidence of anything that is happening today. History has been so rudely bastardised over the years to the extent that nobody really knows if some truths are served in doses to support ethno-political narratives. Aronofaky'a direction of Noah is very political - especially given the state of negotiations at the Israeli-Palestinian debate. Some call it the Jewish-Arab conflict; if that was the case it would have been solved long time ago since both of them would have pleaded to being the descendants of Shem and being entitled to every blessing he got for concealing the shame of his father - as per Bible and Noah the film.

However the real kudos for the aesthetic of this film goes to the the make-up, special effects, SFX, sound effects and CGI teams. Half the film was computer generated, from the depiction of the creation, the sprouting of trees, the bursting of water, the animals entering the ark and everything that me as a young Calvinite couldn't imagine. I have wondered how the story of Noah was going to be told and when I watched the film I understood why it couldn't be told before computers were advanced enough to tell half of it. So, the CGI team deserve the Best Film award. Next is the sound effects which become  ear busters on a Dolby Digital surround sound theatre. The special effects are just out of this world and they are what makes this film great.

I would think Aronofsky is brave and his storytelling is brilliant. But I refuse to acknowledge him as a genius because this is our story as told by him; he reloads a lot of it to the point that some scenes just became alien to me and believe me I don't consider myself passive. I have my understanding of the story of creation and Eden and how it is told in this film defies the many books I have read on it. It's not as controversial as the Big Bang Theory but it will make people think.

We were  handful in a theatre built for hundreds but I really felt this is one of those stories that grow on you. It's not a blockbuster like Spiderman III but the kind of film which's success depends on what the pastors say in church after watching the film and holding their three day spiritual retreat to seek 'spiritual' direction on what to advice the flock on. This will become the talk of the town in a few weeks or months' time and that's when those Christian bums will fill the seats. One believes it will eventually recoup the millions pumped into it by Paramount.

Truthfully, since with a film like Noah I can only be truthful; I am giving this film a good score, for the artistic approach to the settting, the CGI, the wardrobe (even though I saw what looked like a pair of jeans worn by Shem's wife), SFX and the bravery of telling this story. I don't do fat lips; but if I was to give a statuette; here goes for six out of ten. There's always room for improvement Aronofsky my friend.

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given mukwevho

When the prison gates were opened

Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho spent eleven of his twenty-nine years jailed at various prisons including privately-owned Kutama Sinthumule Maximum Security Prison in Makhado. He was arrested in 2000 for breaking and stealing from various businesses in Makhado and slapped with a 22-years prison sentence.
Today he is out on parole which is frustrating. “Being a parolee means you cannot go to places of your will without first informing your probation officer. Even when it means going to a tuck shop, you must leave a message in case an officer finds you absent at home”, he says.
Mukwevho was born in Madombidzha village outside Makhado where he stayed with a single mother’ who was always off fending in Johannesburg’. He says while he ‘can’t cite any social conditions as a cause for my crimes’ he yearned for certain things and as nobody could provide for him he stole money from shops to buy clothes for himself.
At Kutama Mukwevho pursued creative writing through UNISA. “When I was released in 2010 the first person I met was a man who was going to become my publisher, Vonani Bila,” he remembers.
Through Timbila, Mukwevho has since published a collection of short stories titled A Traumatic Revenge. He’s happy that readers do not classify it as prison writing. By his own confession ‘the writer's physical being was inside, but the soul hovered somewhere in between with one eye glimpsing the outside life and the other witnessing the inside life.’
He is currently working on a manuscript titled The Violent Gestures of Life which is about life in prison, The boy wanted to sodomise Bheki; that’s his claim anyway. Was there any need for Bheki to take a ghastly decision to stab him with a knife though? Was it the only decision to arrive at? It is likely his intention was to warn the new boy, send him away with the knowledge that if he continued demanding sex from other boys he might die sooner than he had expected”.
Mukwevho has become a sought-after ChiVenda poet. Last year he headlined the Polokwane Literary Festival and relates to temptations incarceration brings. “He (another inmate) gives you books, and even adds at least three new pens he has arranged from his connections. The next thing he sends a piece of note requesting exchange of love favours. Sodomy is not just a word: Sodomy invokes images of a man inserting his penis into your anus”, Mukwevho wrote in an essay.
His sanity was saved by a supply of reading material which chiselled the juvenile into an inmate poet who published eleven poems in Timbila 6. “I managed to write lots of stuff from within the prison walls and I cannot label myself a prison writer.” he adds. Amongst the throngs of people whose material he read was Bessie Head, Njabulo Ndebele, Andre Brink, Lufuno Ndlovu and Can Themba. Newspapers introduced him to Sello Duiker, Phaswane Mpe, Niq Mhlongo, Sandile Memela etc.
“Mac Manaka and David wa Maahlamela are two people whose poetry I encountered when I was in the single cells in Thohoyandou Prison. Wa Mahlamela's poetry was featured in Sowetan Sunday World's poetry page, while Mac's poetry and an interview appeared in S'camtho youth magazine,” he adds.
Elana Bergin, editor at University of Kwazulu-Natal Press who mentored Mukwevho since he was incarcerated testifies that there’s a lot of improvement in him. Bergin says Mukwevho has improved on his understanding of structure and his English. “He’s a brilliant poet. Has worked hard and improved a lot. I can say he is a very promising writer”, she says.
A free Mukwevho is currently negotiating a national publishing deal for his first novel. He lives with his partner and child in Makhado and writes for three local newspapers. 
“I was arrested at a very young age, so the prison experience taught me that I have got to work hard for everything I need in life. That's the reason why I was able to study hard and have a focus on life while I was still in jail”, he says.

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oscar pistorius

Cry Me a Reeva - What did Reeva See in Oscar?

To be quite honest with you I have always wanted to post on Oscar Pistorius but shuddering a lil' bit when I look at the four legal brains procured to get him off the hook. I have been afraid that I might post something wrong and end up having Adv Barry Roux putting it to me while comedians make a joke about me and rappers find inspiration in my bluff. But after Friday's postponement I think I can take a week to speculate.
RED CARPET: Is it all there was to Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp?
Truth is, I'm one of those who want justice to prevail against all odds in this trial. I truly have no interest in seeing Oscar going to prison or escaping responsibility; because his shrewd lawyer got him off by a technicality. If he's guilty he must go; if not he must walk, the same way it was the case President Jacob Zuma during his rape trial. So, I look at Roux (including Zuma's Kemp J Kemp) as that lawyer I will hire when I am facing 25 years in jail and I look at Nel as that prosecutor I would look forward to having prosecute a case inwhich I am on the good side.
So, it has been quite a good three weeks of a roller-coaster ride inwhich I, like international television would have lost interest if the State summoned all its 107 witnesses to testify. That the state called a few crucial ones and closed its case has renewed my interest in the debacle. Also, because while providing riveting viewing, the trial is a substitute for the International T20 World Cup taking place right now. Anytime Judge Thoko Masipa decides to shut us out of the gruesome evidence we can tune in to cricket and see another gruesome evidence of failure on the part of the Proteas selectors.
So, I have always wanted to write about paralympian Oscar. I love the chap; regardless of what he's accused of. He epitomises truimph of the human spirit. Everytime I go to shopping complexes in the sleepy towns of this country I am confronted by limbless folks at the entrances of grocery stores asking for pennies. I am confronted by blind folks begging for charity. One of them could have been Oscar; but no, Oscar has an Olympic Gold medal and was rumoured to make R20 million a year before the sponsorship plug was pulled. That's why I love the guy; his fighting spirit, his determination to win, his vigor and his passion for finer things in life.
On the same breath I love the Reeva Steenkamp story. I never had the opportunity to know the sassy model in her living years; only after her tragic death. Reeva is a picture puzzle I only know through pieces assembled by friends and family. Remember that there was a debate about whether the Tropica Island show that featured her should be screened or withdrawn. That decision brought us closer to Reeva; her disarming beauty, smile, her drive and passion. In a way we came close to seeing what is it that Oscar saw in her. She was probably his Gold medal, his 'Baba', something he could have that ordinary folks couldn't. It was twice as sweet for Oscar because here was a chap without feet who could scoop the prettiest wannabe model right at the nose of some of us with our two feet. So, it must have felt good to outrun us again.
Reeva was to Oscar what the Olympic Gold medal was to some of us. A medal we couldn't get because we are not even competing on that track. So, given Oscar's rage at losing a Gold medal in the London Olympic and complaining that the other chap's blades gave him an advantage; the potential for losing Reeva must have felt like that to young, rich and armed Oscar.
The chap might have had a fascination for firearms or might not but it's irrelevant today. His fascination is not his but it's white culture. The only thing real is that Reeva not only complemented but also completed the Oscar specimen.
Then we need to wonder what was in Oscar for Reeva. Money perhaps? For God's sake the chap did not even have feet and has been seen on SABC3' Top Billing canoodling with a sexy lass in Seychelles? There was evidence that the paralympian had a taste for finer things. It's natural, he's an athlete; think about all that adrenalin and wonder which one outlet can accommodate all of it? I tell you every cup would overflow and two to three would be needed.
So, as a layman who loved both Oscar and the character of Reeva I think it's inconceivable that a woman would still be dreaming of cracking it as a model at 29. Don't this girls crack it while still young and tender? 29 for someone trying to be  a model is the equivalent of a 39 years old woman trying to crack a first marriage. What I am actually saying here is that those are desperate times. Those are times that the desperate will do anything to crack it.
 So, here is Reeva noticing that Oscar stands on more red carpets than she does. She notices that half of what Oscar's revenue comes from is endorsements which in a way are as a result of the number of corporate and sporting events that he graces. Reeva notices that the media will always obsess with who Oscar is dating; and if she happens to be a pretty woman wanting to be a model that might open modeling doors for her. She thinks of a David-Victoria Beckham. Reeva notices that being closer to Oscar will get her attention and maybe; even at 29 she can still be a model after all, something she missed being at 21.
 That might explain why she stomached all the abuse which came to light in the state case. 90% passion and 10% abuse is the same as 90% abuse and 10% passion. Half of what Oscar allegedly did to her I doubt she would have stomached coming from me, someone who steps on two red carpets per year if I crack an invitation.
 For me, that was the making of that tragic relationship. There was never really a romantic relationship but a relationship of convenience for both of them. Oscar loved how Reeva made him feel while Reeva loved what Oscar's brand had the potential of doing for her own.

Oops, I finally wrote about Oscar; I still love him and don't understand the ANC Women's League's obsession with him. If only the ANCWL sat with every woman or girl in court over a rape, abuse and murder matter, we would have an improved dispensation of justice. The ANCWL would improve from being a burial society to a real advocacy organistion.

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