What changed with Trump’s Jerusalem announcement?

#metoo – a global response to sexual harassment

A World to Win News Service for 11 December 2017 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.

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What changed with Trump’s Jerusalem announcement?

11 December 2017. A World to Win News Service. U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been seen by too many people as “ego driven” or otherwise irrational, an attempt to distract from his roiling political and legal challenges. This is a misreading of an extremely dangerous situation. There is ample evidence that the Trump regime had planned this move long before his current political troubles. In fact, it was another of his campaign promises that too few liberals took seriously.

Reading from a carefully crafted speech, Trump stressed both the continuity of his decision with U.S. policy during the previous decades, and the idea that this move constituted a “new approach” in light of “failing strategies”. The “new approach” is that, like elsewhere in the world, Trump is deliberately exacerbating antagonisms in the Middle East while stripping off the liberal veneer that had cloaked US policy for years and nakedly asserting US hegemony and ramping up moves to achieve that.

The argument for continuity was that Congress has called for the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem since 1995. This actually does capture the deliberate degree of ambiguity – or doublespeak – in officially stated U.S. policy. Overwhelmingly it has been whole-heartedly and unabashedly pro-Zionist. Yet the U.S. has also dangled the possibility that it might use its influence to restrain Israel (for instance, one day they just might limit the expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank). This has enabled Washington to turn the Palestinian Authority, whose core, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, was historically so important in the Palestinian resistance, into an ally of the Israel security forces in controlling the Palestinians. Calling the U.S. an “honest broker” in Israeli-Palestinian relations is just a nice name for the ugly reality that the U.S. has used the “peace process” to control Palestinians and give a little political cover to regimes like Egypt, whose complicity has greatly aided Israel in turning Gaza into an open-air prison.

Trump very deliberately left open just enough room for the PA and its chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and others, to continue this collaboration. By saying that he was “not taking a position of (sic) any final status issues”, Trump offered the thin hope that the U.S. might support some sort of Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem someday. He also neither endorsed nor rejected the idea of a future two-state solution (one state each for Palestinians and Israelis), although he made it clear that if it did happen it would have to be on terms acceptable to Israel (“acceptable to both sides”).

But Trump’s announcement also represents a leap in the resolution of what has been a small, deliberate degree of ambiguity and hypocrisy in the U.S.’s role by giving an official blessing to Israel’s appetite for conquered territories. Approving Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem in the name of simply recognizing “reality” is also a major step towards official approval for Israel to permanently occupy all or most of the West Bank, dangerously stepping up the on-going ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Zionist theocratic state. Under these circumstances there is of course no possibility of a viable Palestinian state.

Further, Trump deliberately humiliated the Palestinian Authority and the Middle Eastern regimes that support it. This will certainly cause trouble for Saudi Arabia, for example, whose ruling family, while increasingly allied with Trump and implicitly aligned with Israeli interests, still depends on its claimed role as defender of the Sunni Moslem faith and holy sites to legitimize the monarchy.

This doesn’t mean that Trump has undone his alliance with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. Rather, he rubbed the Saudi rulers’ nose in the fact that they can’t do anything about his moves and that this is anything but an alliance of equals. The same goes for the Jordanian monarchy (half whose subjects are Palestinian) and Egypt’s ruling general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Trump also shamed the European powers, whose powerlessness to mount an effective challenge to U.S. policy is on full display. Instead of being defensive about the fact that Trump’s move represents a violation of all existing UN resolutions and international laws against the forcible annexation of territory, Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley spewed out a diatribe against the UN itself. This was in line with Trump’s recent threat to close down the Palestinian Authority’s UN offices if the Palestinians dare bring charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court. In all of this, the point is to declare and demonstrate that international law, diplomatic considerations and the opinions of allied countries are not going to deter the U.S. from a more aggressive global assertion of “America First”. This is very much related to Trump’s threats to wipe out North Korea.

Trump’s move did bring ecstasy to evangelical Christians, a pillar of his support among civilians and the military. These Bible literalists are convinced that Trump is doing “god’s work” to bring about Christ’s dominion on earth, which, in their ideology, requires the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy of a Jewish messiah enthroned in Jerusalem (although many of them believe that in the second act of that epic drama those Jews who do not accept Christ will be cast into hell to burn forever along with Moslems and most everyone else). Trump made this speech accompanied by his Christian fundamentalist vice-president Mike Pence and flanked by two American flags and two Christmas trees. The decorated pines were odd for a president’s office but not funny now that Trump has declared their display a symbol of resistance to “the war” on Christian values.

Trump’s speech invoked god four times in the last seconds and referred to “Moslems” instead of Palestine. This depiction of the Palestinian question as a religious conflict between “Christian” (or sometimes “Judeo-Christian”) civilization and Islam benefits the fascist Trump and his Christian fascist partners, other imperialist ideologues and the Zionists. But it also benefits the Saudis, the Emirates monarchs and the region’s other reactionary regimes. It is very much to the advantage of jihadi Salafists like Daesh (also known as ISIS) and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This confluence of interests between enemies was illustrated when Israel followed up on Trump’s speech by attacking what it said were Hamas facilities, killing two people. Journalists from The New York Times and Le Monde said this was done for political rather than military reasons. Hamas, with its religious fundamentalism and ties to Iran, has long been a favoured opponent of Israel.

Bob Avakian described this kind of contention between Western imperialists (McWorld/McCrusade) and jihadist forces as “the two outmodeds” – “historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system” and pointed out that, “These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these ‘outmodeds,’ you end up strengthening both.” Forces like Hamas want to cast the Palestinian struggle for national liberation against Israel in religious terms. This poses a serious challenge to adherents of the Palestinian cause. What is needed is a fight for liberation that is part of the larger fight to free humanity from all forms of oppression and the obscurantism that both reflects and sustains it, while at the same time fighting imperialist attempts to use Islamic fundamentalism as a pretext for further attacks.

Israel was carved out by the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestine’s inhabitants, and further mass slaughter or worse will likely be required for its continued existence as a state defined by religion and/or the DNA that for Zionism determines identity. Israel’s character as a settler state and consequently its inability to survive without powerful imperialist backing is what has made it a good match for American needs, an essential pillar of U.S. control over the region for decades. What Trump represents is not only the replacement of cynical Western liberal imperialist values with religious fundamentalism and the new level of unconcealed bloodthirstiness that it enables. He is also responding to the necessity for a new drive for what he calls “the Great American Comeback”. This means fortifying U.S. domination in the face of a changing world situation, including rivalries with other imperialist powers (including Germany and Russia, and increasingly China) and efforts by regional powers (like Turkey and Iran) and other hungry reactionary enemies to improve their position within the oppressive world order at the U.S.’s expense. This, for Trump, requires both an end to any ambiguity in U.S./Israeli relations and an even more aggressive role for Israel in the region – maybe, even for instance, against Iran. Trump’s announcement promises exactly the opposite of what he said was its goal – peace in the Middle East.

When Trump entered the White House a year ago, some well-intentioned people thought that it didn’t matter because the situation for the Palestinians could not get worse. But now the world faces the real possibility that Israel may shed blood on an even more massive scale in Palestine and elsewhere. This highlights the link between the struggle in the U.S. to drive out the fascist Trump/Pence regime and other just struggles everywhere against imperialism and its attack dogs like Israel.

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#metoo – a global response to sexual harassment

11 December 2017. When courageous women brought out their reports of sexual harassment and worse by the powerful Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein in late 2017, women around the world brought forth a tsunami of rage in response to the call to add their stories to the #metoo Twitter hashtag. So far women from more than 85 countries have spoken out about what they were once afraid to tell for fear of the humiliation and further physical violence they would face.

While the largest response came from the U.S., where the #metoo hashtag originated, huge numbers of women in Europe and India and many other places have also joined in. Indian women still seethe over the 2012 brutal gang rape of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh in New Delhi, which ultimately led to her death, and the official culture that they hold responsible. Given the daily sexual harassment and threats Indian women face, #metoo is now part of the national conversation.

Under the tag #balancetonporc (rat out your pig) French women responded even before #metoo went global and viral. Sexual harassment of women is so institutionalized and normalized in France that even after the 2011 New York arrest on rape charges of Dominique Strauss Kahn, the Socialist Party candidate for the presidential elections that were coming up, he was defended or simply excused by most of the political and intellectual establishment – to the outrage of many French women. Now, encouraged by sisters around the world, French women are becoming a major part of the #metoo moment.

French: #BalanceTonPorc
 (rat out your pig) Italian: #QuellaVoltaChe
 Spanish: #YoTambién
Canadian: #MoiAussi 
 Hebrew: גםאנחנו Arabic: أنا_كمان #
Chinese: #我也是
South Korean: #나도Vietnamese: #TôiCũngVậy (Map from October 2017)

In parts of Africa, despite rampant domestic violence and strong cultural and religious taboos, many women broke the silence. “Sexual harassment is so endemic in society that it is almost a right for men in Nigeria,” said 39-year-old Faustina Anyanwu, who posted on Twitter about harassment when she worked as a nurse. The treatment received from Indonesian authorities is so horrendous one woman said, “I wish I was murdered instead so nobody had to doubt whether or not I was really raped.” Conditions liked these have severely undermined women’s freedom to publicly protest, even on the Net.

A study by Thomson Reuters Foundation considered Cairo (after Delhi and Sao Paulo) one of the most dangerous mega-cities in the world for women. Some 43 percent of Egyptian men believe that women appreciate being sexually harassed. Describing what it is like to be on the streets of Cairo, one activist woman tweeted, “Some weeks are better than some, but some days really break you and it takes a lot of mending strength to face the streets again.” It is common to hear reactionary voices like those of one Egyptian journalist who argued that in the Arab world, if women insist on talking openly about sexual violence, that will only open the floodgates to further vilifying the victims.

Women all around the world are deeply affected by the rotten cultural relations that promote sexual harassment and violence against women and the institutions that enable it. Those relations are deeply rooted in the patriarchal organization of society over thousands of years and the force of traditional ideas of women as the property of men and child breeders, all of which is institutionalized and perpetuated by the capitalist-imperialist system. This affects women of all ages, starting from before girl babies are even born (with the targeted abortion of female fetuses) to the stifling of intellectual pursuits in girls, pornography and the all-pervasive demeaning images of women that shut down their creative contributions and imprison them. Tenets of all the major religions uphold this oppression of women. It is an open wound that affects half of humanity and cannot be fully uprooted without uprooting the kind of society that breeds this oppression. Women can and must play a major role in this uprooting to gain complete liberation for themselves and all humanity.

We invite our readers to read and contribute to a new feature on this important question at revcom.us. Their aim is to “unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution.”

Go to http://revcom.us/a/519/a-righteous-upsurge-against-sexual-assault-en.html


A question of basic stand and orientation, by Bob Avakian
Support and spread the fury against sexual abuse

The phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual assault – including (but not limited to) the sexual abuse of women by men who hold positions of power over them – is long-standing and widespread throughout this male supremacist society and is reinforced by the putrid culture it has spawned. The outpouring of outrage against this sexual abuse and the all too commonplace institutional cover-ups and complicity with it, and the demand for a radical change in the culture – which has made a major leap in relation to the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and has now spread far beyond that, involving millions of women, in sphere after sphere throughout this country and in other countries as well – is right, righteous, and long overdue, and should be supported, encouraged, spread, and defended against counter-attack.

In the context of such a long-suppressed outpouring of outrage, there are bound to be some negative aspects, including some excesses, where false or exaggerated accusations are made in particular cases; but these have been (and will almost certainly remain) a very secondary aspect of the phenomenon. If and when it may be necessary to point to some of these shortcomings, this must be done very judiciously, in a way that does not undermine the overwhelmingly positive character of this upsurge, and in fact helps to strengthen it.

This long-suppressed and thoroughly just outpouring of outrage is not the same as any particular accusation. Such particular accusations do have to be approached on the basis of scientifically evaluating the evidence, and this is especially important where the accusations not only allege misconduct but actual criminal action, such as rape or other sexual assault. But this distinction, between particular accusations and the overall phenomenon, should not be allowed to obscure or diminish the righteousness and importance of the massive upsurge against this widespread and deeply-rooted abuse and the tremendous injury it does to women and to humanity as a whole.

Bob Avakian on breaking all the chains

Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them – the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born – there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In “modern” countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who – if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this “new world” where supposedly there are no barriers for women – will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.

From BAsics 1:10, Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011.
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