Gaza and Syria Reveal an Activist Disorder

Syria solidarity

by Nott George Sabra

Some 80,000 people rallied in London last weekend to support the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip whom Israeli forces are slaughtering daily by the dozens. This commendable display of internationalism—defined as unconditional solidarity with the oppressed and the exploited without regard to borders, colors, or creeds—was repeated all over the US and Europe as thousands turned out at similar marches, even defying a government ban in Paris. Bringing this street sentiment into the halls of power, Chile's parliament voted to suspend trade talks with Israel.

This vigorous internationalist grassroots response to Israel's murderous campaign is exactly what revolutionary Syrians called for from activists abroad since 2011 in response to the Syrian regime's adoption of Israeli tactics like collective punishment and bombing, shelling, and demolishing entire civilian neighborhoods—but to no avail. The regime of Bashar al-Assad has killed over 2,000 Palestinians and displaced far more Palestinians than Israel has and yet the only time organizers of London's Gaza protest, the Stop the War Coalitionever took action over Syria was to save said regime from airstrikes and to stop the imposition of a no-fly zone—the only way to end the regime's barrel bomb attacks. After they succeeded, Stop the War Coalition organized a "victory" march to brag that they had stopped the war in Syria!

The High Cost of Hosting FIFA's World Cup

protest mural

by Andrew Kennis, Americas Program

RIO DE JANEIRO — While smoking his tobacco pipe in front of his small cinder-block home toward the top of his native Vidigal, a sprawling favela overlooking some of Rio de Janeiro’s most luxurious neighborhoods, Jamil Jorge offered his thoughts on Brazil hosting the World Cup in the midst of the tournament: "The World Cup only benefits people and institutions with money, not people like me."

Jamil had just finished meditating during a breezy ocean-side night at one of the many stunning lookouts that Vidigal offers. The public viewpoint lies at the foot of one of the many homes of none other than David Beckham—reflective of the uneven and volatile development Brazil has undergone over the last decade alone. Recent years have brought tens of millions into the middle class but left plenty of others behind, as suggested by a low 85th ranking in the United Nations Human Development index.

When asked about the FIFA (International Federation of Football Association, in English) and its motives in relation to the Cup, Jorge grinned and made the universal gesture for money with his hands. "Someone is profiting from this World Cup, but it isn’t me… or our favela."

Interview: Nadia Abu El-Haj


by Alex Shams, Ma'an News Agency

In early January, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that it would begin excavation on an archaeological site inside a Jewish settlement near the heart of Hebron's old city. The announcement sparked outrage among many who viewed the move as an attempt to legitimize the presence of illegal settlements in the center of the flashpoint southern West Bank city. Since then, Israeli authorities have also moved forward on plans for a Jewish history theme park in the Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Local residents—dozens of whom have received home demolition orders in recent months—have loudly objected to the idea, while the Al-Aqsa Foundation has raised alarms that Israel archaeologists have destroyed a number of non-Jewish archaeological sites in ongoing excavations nearby.

In order to understand the political uproar over seemingly innocuous archaeological projects, Ma'an interviewed anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj to discuss the broader historical context. Abu El-Haj is a professor at Barnard College and Columbia University and the author of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, among other books. Her work explores how archaeology played an integral role in the Zionist settler-colonial project and the legitimization of Israeli territorial claims in the region.

Supporting the Grassroots Movements

Syrian opposition

by Leila Shrooms

Much of the debate on Syria by people who identify as being "leftists" both in the West and the Arab world has been dominated by issues most prominent in the media such as a focus on geo-politics, militarization, Islamism and sectarianism. It's ultimately been a very State-centric discourse. Conversely there seems to be very limited knowledge or discussion about popular struggles or grassroots civil movements in Syria. This is strange because the politics of liberation should not be grounded in discussions between political leaders and States but grounded in the struggles of people for freedom, dignity and social justice.

The consequence of this uncritical adoption and regurgitation of top-down narratives is twofold. Firstly, it detracts from any real discussion of how to give solidarity to those on the ground that are struggling to realize ideals the left supposedly shares. And secondly, it detracts from any real discussion amongst the left as to what can be learned and gained from the experience of Syrian revolutionaries and their courageous struggle, as well as the many challenges they face (we're all aware that the Syrian revolution is under attack from all quarters). Ultimately the failure to support popular movements on the ground, and a lack of ability to respond flexibly to real revolutionary situations as they unfold, is making the left less and less relevant as a political movement.

by Diego Cupolo, Upside Down World

Exactly 100 years after its inauguration, the Panama Canal may soon become one of two waterways linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In a move that would alter world commerce, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Chinese telecoms billionaire Wang Jing have announced plans to start construction on a $40-billion canal across Nicaragua this December.

"Central America is at the center of North-South and East-West global trade flows, and we believe Nicaragua provides the perfect location for a new international shipping and logistics hub," Wang said in a press release. "Global shipping demands the efficiency and cost competitiveness of increasingly larger ships, and we believe this project will serve that still unmet need."

The proposed waterway would lead ships into Lago de Nicaragua, the nation's largest fresh water source, and require approximately 120 miles of excavation through sparsely populated jungles in the Nicaragua's southeastern region, as well as excavation on the Pacific Coast.

The View Today from Erbil

Qala Erbil

by Bill Park, openDemocracy

ERBIL — Life in Erbil continues pretty much as normal. Children chase the pigeons that gather by the fountains outside the bazaar at the foot of the city's ancient citadel; young couples share an ice cream; women try on shoes; and the men sit in the shade drinking endless tulip glasses of sweet chai and chatting—probably about the twists and turns of the world cup, judging by the crowds that gather around the large number of TV screens showing each and every game in tea shops, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.

Yet Mosul, scene of a dramatic take-over by ISIS fighters just days ago, the complete disintegration of the locally deployed units of the Iraqi army, and the flight of half a million terrified citizens to the borders of the Kurdish region, is just a few hours' drive away.

Colombian Poor Reclaim Lands Slated for Military Base


by Dawn Paley, Upside Down World

FORTUL, COLOMBIA — Holding down an occupation for five months isn't easy. Doing so in Colombia, even less so. But members of the community of Héctor Alirio Martínez in the municipality of Fortul, near the border with Venezuela, have raised the stakes even higher: they're occupying land owned by the Ministry of Defense. The 100-hectare terrain now spotted with wood and plastic homes was slated to become a large military base.

Locals say the land originally was purchased by Occidental Petroleum in order to build a large new base to coordinate protection of a new oil pipeline which passes less than a few hundred meters from the lot.

Indigenous Anarchist Critique of Bolivia's 'Indigenous State'

Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui

by Bill Weinberg, adopted from ICTMN

Bolivian historian and social theorist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui is author of the classic work Oppressed But Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, and has recently emerged as one of the country's foremost critics of President Evo Morales from an indigenous perspective. Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with her in New York City, where she recently served as guest chair of Latin American studies at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center. The complete text of the interview appears for the first time on World War 4 Report.